Secrets of Seduction by Nicole Jordan

Secrets of Seduction by Nicole Jordan
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (323 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The most charming Wilde cousin, Lady Skye has secretly loved the enigmatic Earl of Hawkhurst since girlhood, long before the tragedy that left him scarred both physically and emotionally. When Skye learns that the celebrated hero has returned to England from his self-imposed exile to make a cold marriage of convenience, she brazenly plants herself on his castle doorstep, determined to convince Hawk that she alone is his true mate and destiny.

An elite member of the Guardians of the Sword, Hawk has vowed never again to risk the pain of loving—but that’s before he deals with the most enchanting, annoyingly persistent seductress he’s ever encountered. One night of blazing passion leaves him impossibly torn. Will Hawk choose duty over love, or will he open his heart and let Skye’s healing light penetrate his darkness?

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This is my first book by Nicole Jordan, but it won’t be my last. The characters were engaging and interesting. Many had flaws and were easy to relate to. The writing is mostly crisp, although there were some moments of telling and not showing me the story. At times I felt like I was right there with the characters and other times not.

I’ve said the characters were interesting. They were. Lady Skye is unique. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it. I liked that. Some of her methods were a tad…pushy. Actually, she was really pushy. I liked her, but there were moments I thought she over-stepped her boundaries. When she wanted something she got a tad abrasive. Now, that’s not to say she’s a bad character. She just knows how to get what she wants.

Then there’s Hawk. The guy is battered material. He’s been through the wringer. His wife and two-year-old boy were killed in a fire and he couldn’t save them. Talk about a downer! So he’s got a lot of pent up depression. I kind of liked his brooding quality–he had a good reason to be upset. What irked me about him was as much as he’s supposed to be this strong, commanding guy, he pretty much let Skye walk all over him in order to get what she wanted. He could get terse with her, but at the same time, he didn’t mean much of it.

Now, that sounds like I wasn’t thrilled with this book. I did like it.  And the side story with Rachel, Daphne and Cornelius was great. I would enjoy reading more about them. I also did enjoy the way this story progressed. I hated having to walk away from the book and even though the characters irritated me, they got under my skin and I was thoroughly engaged. I thought about them long after I closed the book. That’s a sign I was hooked.

If you want a book with a little pluck, a little spice, and a handsome Lord, then this might be the book for you.

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full length (226 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a megabestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

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Finn Dalton has written a book about Alaska and how to survive in the wilds. No one has been able to find him to interview him. When Carrie says she’s going to quit the paper and the society page because this is not what she wants to do with her life, her editor offers her a new challenge. Find Dalton, interview him and he’ll give her a promotion and a new assignment. It won’t be easy to do but Thanksgiving is coming and she can use that time to hunt. She takes the challenge.

Finn doesn’t trust women; they lie and they leave. It happened with his mother and then with his girlfriend. He’s through with women. He likes living in his solitary cabin; he doesn’t need people in his life. But he has to use a pilot to get in and out of his cabin and that pilot decides he needs to meet Carrie.

Carrie tries to weasel his story out of him but he’s not talking. She makes friends with his dog and that makes him mad. Hennessey is supposed to protect him, not be mesmerized by the first woman that pets him. The only thing they have in common is a card game; they both can play cribbage.

I like the banter between the two, and how she has a conversation with the dog that somehow draws Finn out and makes him speak. Ms. Macomber makes you feel like you’re there.

This is a sweet romance with some misunderstandings and a clash of lifestyles. As always, everything ends up happily ever after. But that’s why we read Ms. Macomber’s work, isn’t it? She always delivers a good story with true love winning and that’s the way I want it, don’t you?

Lover Be Mine by Nicole Jordan

Lover Be Mine by Nicole Jordan
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (444 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

As the wickedly seductive Wilde cousins seek true love by taking a page from history’s legendary love stories, Lord Jack Wilde plays a determined Romeo courting an enchanting Juliet.

The last thing Sophie Fortin expects at a masquerade ball is a dazzling kiss from a pirate. Her desire quickly falters when she learns that her masked gentleman is devilishly scandalous Lord Jack, a member of the captivating Wilde clan—and a man she’s forbidden to acknowledge. But when Jack begins a breathtaking seduction, Sophie can barely resist.

Jack never imagined that the daughter of his family’s mortal enemy would awaken such fierce passion within him—until one unforgettable kiss changes his mind forever. Soon, Jack is hell-bent on winning Sophie’s hand, going so far as to abduct her to save her from marrying a rival nobleman. Determined to woo Sophie and her unyielding parents, Jack is faced with the one decision he’d sworn never to make. The secret heir to a prince, Jack has spurned his royal heritage for years . . . but for Sophie he’ll risk all to turn a legacy of heartbreak into love ever after.

I snapped up this book based on the premise of a rake being an actual royal prince and hiding it. I thought it was one of the most romantic of plot conflicts and I couldn’t wait to start reading. I’m thrilled to say that Lover Be Mine more than met my expectations.

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Sophie was a hot ticket. The author gave me an excellent glimpse of her character in the first chapter. The rest of the story built upon that. She’s a mixture of a woman – the best of innocence, compromised by curiosity with a yen for doing daring and naughty things. That only comes to light with her continued relationship with Lord Jack. He brings out the best in her, even things she never thought herself capable of. It was great seeing her blossom.

Beware of hot flashes. Sophie starts off as a proper young miss but once Lord Jack sets about her seduction, because he simply can’t resist her, the writing becomes quite vivid and sensual. It’s not only about learning the sexual ropes because in each scene where they do succumb to their desires, Sophie and Jack learn so much about each other and themselves. In the afterglow, instead of hazy sweet thoughts, there’s clarity, plans and intent. The hero and heroine are anything but placid and cardboard. Neither is it all sunshine and happiness. That is why when they do get together, it’s grand. It’s meaningful. And it matters.

The conflict is mostly character driven. Jack has a lot of reconciling to do about his position in life in all aspects. Somehow, Sophie fits in there but it’s never a sure thing as to how or where she’d be ending up. It’s that ambiguity that kept me flipping the pages. How are they going to figure out the important things that a healthy relationship needs to survive? On top of that, will Jacks dad survive? Will the hero really go through with accepting the crown? Who will he marry then? So many questions! And there were a lot of important turning points that happened in this novel; it was spellbinding.

Family can be a good thing, or it can make a person turn purple with laughter or chagrin. Jack experiences both. That adoration and respect for family, especially towards the end, made this book shine so much brighter. It made the emotional connection between me and the characters Ms. Jordan created. Connections like that can only be made when the writing is done right.

Lover Be Mine is a grand romance with hilarious ups and downs that gets a reader through those times when the novel plays havoc with their tender emotions. The storytelling is rich, busy, and entertaining. The dialogue provides insight and interest and kept the momentum of the plot moving right along. I missed the first book in the series and I can’t wait to get a copy and read it. With certainty, if Quinn’s story is next, it’ll be an auto-buy. I’m totally hooked on those Wilde men.

Starting Now by Debbie Macomber

Starting Now by Debbie Macomber
A Blossom Street Novel
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (338 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

For years Libby Morgan dreamed only of making partner in her competitive, high-pressure law firm. She sacrificed everything for her career–her friends, her marriage, her chance at creating a family. When her boss calls Libby into his office, she assumes it will finally be good news, but nothing can prepare her for the shocking reality: She’s been let go and must rebuild her entire life . . . starting now.

With no job prospects in sight, Libby reaches out to old friends and spends her afternoons at A Good Yarn, the local knitting store. There she forms a close bond with Lydia, the sweet-natured shop owner; Lydia’s spirited teenage daughter, Casey; and Casey’s best friend, Ava, a shy yet troubled girl who will shape Libby’s future in surprising and profound ways.

As A Good Yarn becomes a second home–and the women a new kind of family–Libby relishes the different person she’s become. She even finds time for romance with a charming and handsome doctor who seems to be her perfect match. But just as everything is coming together, Libby must make a choice that could forever change the life she holds so dear.

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Debbie Macomber has been writing for years and her romances have always been interesting, sweet, and filled with personal problems her characters must resolve to live happily ever after. This contemporary love story is the same. While it is set on Blossom Street, it can be read separately from the rest of the series. Some of the characters are the same but it is a stand-alone story.

Libby is lost without her job. She had no life except her life as an attorney. No one is hiring currently and she is adrift in the sea of life with no rudder. When she finds the local yarn shop, she wanders in mostly because she has nothing else to do. Soon she is knitting preemie hats and making friends with the women and young adults she meets there. And, somehow, she ends up holding babies at the hospital and calming them down. It calms her down, too.

Libby hasn’t been good at love. Her career has been first in her life and she hasn’t adjusted to having a balanced life. She and one of the doctors spark an interest between them, but they both have baggage. His wife died; her ex-husband left her because he wanted a family. There is a lot of give and take between them and Ms. Macomber made me wonder whether she would ever give Libby the shove necessary to move on with her life. Part of what makes this author’s books so good to read is that they are realistic. No one gets love without some risk, not everyone finds love, and not all love is good for us. She adds that quantity in her stories.

This is a sad/glad story that has a good viable ending. Whether you’re a fan of Ms. Macomber’s books or you are just reading her work for the first time, I think you’ll enjoy this book. I’m glad that Libby finally got her head on straight!