Sins of the Father by Winter Austin


Sins of the Father by Winter Austin
Publisher: Crimson Romance/Adams Media
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (191 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Newly pinned deputy Jolie Murdoch’s first big job as a McIntire County deputy is to locate a missing girl. What Jolie doesn’t expect is to stumble upon a corpse—the girl’s father—with a prime suspect still hanging around. But why would local bartender Xavier Hartmann go off the deep end and bludgeon a man to death?

A former marine, Xavier is barely coping with a traumatic brain injury, and he has no memory of what happened at the crime scene. He came to Eider to confront his past, not get embroiled in a murder as the number one suspect. To make matters worse, as the mystery deepens, Xavier finds himself drawn to the reluctant deputy.

As Jolie fights against mounting pressure to get to the truth, she realizes there’s more to Xavier than meets the eye. But someone is lingering on the fringes, determined to put a stop to her investigation and Xavier’s freedom. Will Jolie do her sworn duty or buck the status quo to give her and Xavier’s newfound passion a chance?

OMG, I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight. I need to sign up for another self-defense class since it’s been a few years. I own a gun but now I want a concealed-to-carry permit. If only my husband was a former marine like Xavier, the hero in this book. It’s amazing how I can get so wrapped up in a book and feel like everyone I know is a suspect.

Seriously, this was a great book! More suspense/mystery than romance but there was so much going on that there wasn’t much time for romance. Jolie, the heroine, had a lot on her plate as the newly pinned deputy. The moments Jolie and Xavier had together were spent on trying to prove his innocence. However, the couple of kisses they shared were breathtaking. I’d like me some Xavier kisses. 🙂

I had no idea that this was book three in a series until I had finished reading it. You don’t need to read the previous books however I am interested in doing so. Based on the well written plot in this story which blew my mind away, I’d like to read the other two. I loved the well-developed characters in Sins of the Father so much that I would like to get to know them a bit more by reading the two previous books. I enjoy reading strong leading heroines who stand up to their leading men. I think Winter Austin will have to be added my list of “favorite authors”.

I definitely recommend this book if you like suspense/mystery romance. It should keep you on the edge of your seat rapidly flipping pages like it did for me. The mystery kept me guessing until the very end and then everything is nicely wrapped up with no loose threads. While there isn’t an epilogue one wasn’t needed; Jolie and Xavier made their “decisive decision”. 🙂

Montana Christmas Magic by Casey Dawes


Montana Christmas Magic by Casey Dawes
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (149 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

When former tennis pro Logan Collins’s uncle dies, the injured athlete inherits a cabin in rural Phillipsburg, Montana. But there are a few stipulations to this inheritance: He’s not allowed to sell the place for six months, he must ask a girl to a Grizzlies’ football game, and he must order chocolates for the funeral.

Aspiring artist and temporary chocolatier Julie Thompson is curious about the good-looking New Yorker who walks into her sweet shop. She’s more than happy to share some advice on coping with life in the country with the new guy—and they’re soon sharing kisses as well.

Before long, Logan finds himself with all the trappings of permanence: a dog, a horse, and a woman who brings light into his dark life, yet he’s still torn. There’s a great gig teaching children and maybe even the chance to revive his tennis career waiting back in New York.

Can he persuade Julie that Christmas in Manhattan is just as inspiring? Or will the holidays be the final wrap up on their relationship?

Montana Christmas Magic was a sweet, innocent and tender romance between Logan and Julie. It’s the classic tale of the city mouse meets the country mouse which is actually referenced in the book. The synopsis is basically the entire story without the dialogue between the hero and heroine – two people who are at crossroads in their life when they meet, fall in love and then become torn with indecision. There are no sudden plot twists or anguish provoking story lines; just two honest people who want success, love, and happiness. Who doesn’t want that?

The story flowed steady like slow molasses without any hiccups or bumps. How Ms. Dawes described the scenery sounded breath-taking. I have never been to Montana so I was intrigued when Julie was describing the type of landscape she was painting. I felt pleased when Julie stood up for herself and decided to make her dreams happen despite the challenges and obstacles she faced. She possessed strength and determination yet was thoughtful and considerate of others. That’s something that I can’t say for Logan. Logan isn’t my ideal book boyfriend. He was selfish and weak. Any grown man that hasn’t cut the umbilical cord with their mother is not the man for me. Despite all that, the chemistry between the two was believable and endearing. They both just need more time to grow up and mature, especially Logan. I felt a bit like I was reading a young adult book.

There was an attempt in creating an interesting plot twist with the horse but it fell flat. In fact, I don’t recall that plot thread ever being resolved. What happened to the lady? Did she just give up? In the end I guess it doesn’t matter because the story really wasn’t about the horse.

In conclusion I’d say this book was a good book to read while waiting to get your oil changed. I don’t consider it a waste of my time but it’s not one that I’d put on my keeper shelf. I must point out that there was one line in the book that made the entire book worth reading, “Just because you’ve made a decision doesn’t mean it’s the right one.” I just wanted to shout “AMEN”!

Montana Christmas Magic did have a fast paced happily ever after ending that left me dizzy but satisfied. I imagined a director using a clapperboard saying “That’s a wrap”! If you are at a crossroads in your life and need inspiration then this book is for you. Follow your heart and your dreams with an open mind! Don’t give up!

It’s Been You by Rina Gray


It’s Been You by Rina Gray
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (230 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Marketing manager Tiana Holliday just landed her dream job at an award-winning agency in New York City. There’s just one problem: cocky playboy Nathaniel Lawson, her old grad school nemesis, is her new officemate.

As the firm’s rising star, Nathan never had to compete for prime clients until all-work and no-play Tiana strutted into his workspace. When an opportunity arises to manage a lucrative sports car account and nab a big promotion, he challenges her to a wager: Loser does the winner’s bidding for one month. But their friendly little competition suddenly threatens to erupt into an all-out battle of desire.

As they straddle the line between love and war, they just might discover that challenging each other outside the boardroom is even more satisfying than advertised.

Tiana Holliday is a strong career-minded woman, but when in competition with her college nemesis, Nathaniel Lawson, it makes the work day a lot more exciting. Both are seeking to gain a promotion at work. Tiana and Nathaniel pose a challenge outside of work which opens up an opportunity that both may not be ready for.

This is a quick enjoyable read that I thought was sweet. I enjoyed Nathaniel’s creativity and the outings he planned. I liked both Tiana and Nathaniel. They were both dominating in the work force but both well rounded in having a life outside of work having friends and family. The storyline is cute in how they build a relationship but don’t really seem aware of it. It’s a sweet boy likes girl story but for some reason he doesn’t reveal his true feelings. I also like the relationship that Nathaniel has with his father and his father’s wife. The book includes vivid supporting characters as well.

The writing is easy to follow. I like how the author incorporated Tiana in this second book, but a reader doesn’t necessarily have to read the books in order. The author is obviously a lover of Games of Thrones because it is mentioned several times through out the book. The relationship between Tiana and Nathaniel was refreshing to read. It shows that a book doesn’t have to include a lot of drama but still can offer a satisfying read. Its a good example of a relationship that could be authentic because it includes the troubles, self-doubt and miscommunication and misunderstandings that often accompanies relationships.

This book would be a recommendation for readers that enjoy watching the sparks of a relationship grow but also offers a happy ending.

Fool For You by Rina Gray


Fool For You by Rina Gray
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (126 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Sports journalist Melanie Foster has achieved most of her goals: Bomb.com job—check. Tomboy-to-smoking-hottie makeover—check. Convince her best friend, Damien Richards, to slide a ring on her finger and father her two-point-five kids—not so much. When she activates Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, she never imagines her BFF already has plans to stroll down the wedding aisle with another woman.

Damien’s in the middle of crisis mode. The non-profit for young athletes at which he volunteers is in financial trouble. He’ll pull out all the stops to rescue the organization that saved his life after his career-ending injury—even if it means sacrificing his personal happiness.

But when he finally wakes up to love and the very non-brotherly feelings he’s long held for Mel, it just might be too late. Damien must convince her that he’s worth the risk and turn the tables to show her he’s the one ready to be a fool for love.

Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me is in full effect, but will it really bring Melanie the love she seeks?

I thought it was weird that Melanie Foster waited all these years to confess her love to her long time friend Damien Richards. The timing couldn’t be more off since Damien is in a serious relationship and just recently got engaged. Melanie is all in when it comes to getting Damien to love her. With his fiance Vanessa in the way it may not be as easy as Melanie thought.

Melanie is a smart and career minded woman that knows a lot about sports. From tomboy to heels and lady-like attire, Melanie came off as self centered in her timing to reveal her feelings to Damien. She tried once back in college to tell Damien how she felt but to no avail. Damien is a caring and likable guy that has his hands full. Refurbished Dreams, a mentor organization that helped Damien from a troubled path when he was younger, is now being closed down. Damien, a volunteer at the center, offers his help to keep the center open along with being pressured to marry his girlfriend Vanessa. With secrets, jilted love and friends that have your back and others that do the stabbing this makes for a interesting read.

The author has a good writing style with humor and up to date jargon. The plot is interesting, but has a few slow parts. At first I thought it was a little predictable but I was glad to see there are a few surprises at the end. A recommendation to readers that enjoy a quick read that delivers a happy ending to a woman set on getting her man.

The Heart You Need by Diane R Jewkes


The Heart You Need by Diane R Jewkes
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Historical, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (95 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

When society reporter Adeline Ellsworth’s cousin, a police inspector, is murdered in 1896 San Francisco, she immediately sets out to uncover the truth. This could be her chance to leave frivolous fashion gossip behind for a career reporting on important issues. But her investigation leads to danger—and she wakes up tied to Alec McCairn, Lord Peyton.

In California to set up a new office, the Scottish peer definitely wasn’t looking for a romantic entanglement, especially with an independent, opinionated reporter. But he suspects the beguiling Adeline is in over her head and too proud to ask for help. He vows to protect her, no matter how hard she balks.

A widow, Adeline guards her heart carefully and doesn’t want Alec ruining her chance to expose this corruption, no matter how attractive or charming he is. But then the main suspect kidnaps her younger brother and demands Adeline’s research as ransom. To save him and crack the case, they must work together. But the biggest mystery they end up solving might just be how to capture each other’s heart.

Set in the latter part of the Victorian era, this romance has danger, excitement and mystery all wrapped into one. In a time when women are emerging as independent from the men in their lives, Linnie is a widow and a journalist with a leading San Francisco newspaper. Although she only deals with social and fashion issues, she longs to be an investigative reporter and her efforts in this regard lead her into danger. They also lead her into love when she meets Lord Alec MacCairn.

This book has it all. Spicy love scenes, dangerous adventures and even a kidnapping. Threaded through the story is a hint of humor which makes it believable and enjoyable to read. For most of the story I was wondering how on earth their love could survive when he lives on one side of the Atlantic and she lives on the shores of the Pacific. Linnie obviously wouldn’t leave her widowed mother and young brother, but Alec had responsibilities as the heir to a dukedom in Scotland. Very intriguing storyline with the two main characters accepting their love for each other, but wondering how they can make their love continue across the distance of two oceans.

The Sweet Spot by Elley Arden


The Sweet Spot by Elley Arden
Arlington Aces Book 2
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (116 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Once a Mets draft pick, Arlington Aces outfielder Giovanni Caceres never thought he’d be stuck playing in an independent league in small-town Pennsylvania. If he works hard and steers clear of trouble, he has a good shot of making it back to the majors. Until the team owner recruits him to give her niece hitting lessons and her repressed sister dance lessons…

Helen Anne Reed is being pulled in a million different directions, dealing with a struggling bookstore, her father’s Alzheimer’s, a controlling ex-husband, PTA madness, and now her daughter Macy’s desire to play baseball with the boys. Helen Anne is far more comfortable with pearls and aprons than cleats and gloves, but then sexy ballroom dancer-turned-baller Giovanni unexpectedly comes to her rescue.

When he reluctantly agrees to be Helen Anne’s dance partner for a school fundraising event, things heat up quickly between them, much to their surprise. Amid salsa lessons and ballpark bonding, can this vibrant charmer teach Helen Anne how to quit worrying and just let go? Or will Giovanni’s big league dreams bench this relationship before it even begins?

A divorced mother of one, Helen Anne runs a failing bookstore. Her sister Rachel has taken over the baseball team and her daughter Macy has decided to switch from softball to baseball. When Helen Anne needs a partner for a fundraiser for the school, her sister sets her up with one of the baseball players, Giovanni Caceres. Giovanni is desperately trying to return to big time baseball, but Rachel has other ideas for him.

This is a time of discovery for Helen Anne. Not only does she learn to dance the salsa, but she learns more about her daughter’s inner feelings and also how to love again. In fact she realizes she’s never really been in love before. I liked how Helen Anne went from a timid mother and bookseller, to a strong woman who was not afraid to stand up for herself. The development had its ups and downs, but the story flowed and developed in a totally believable, but also exciting way.

I won’t spoil the end for future readers, but I will say I enjoyed how the ending made me feel satisfied with the whole book.

Valor Under Siege by Elizabeth Boyce


Valor Under Siege by Elizabeth Boyce
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (224 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

All’s fair in love and politics…

When ambitious solicitor Norman Wynford-Scott is ousted from his legal studies due to a holiday revel spun out of control, he adapts a new plan of running for the Parliament seat of a local village. Only trouble is, the same irresistible woman who ruined his good name is thwarting his campaign at every turn.

Widowed and drink-addicted, Lady Elsa Fay has retreated to the family village of Fleck to regain her sobriety. She’s distracting herself from her troubles—and her memories of the one passionate night she shared with Norman—by organizing the Parliament campaign of her husband’s cousin. Until Norman arrives intent on winning the seat for himself.

Shamed and determined, Elsa will do all she can to send her former friend and now adversary packing—even if it means breaking her own heart in the process.

1817 London … and the punch catches fire. Yes, the party punch. On fire. Elizabeth Boyce’s new historical Valor Under Siege sets off in a surprising manner, and if curiosity did not at once envelope the reader, her style would undoubtedly beguile them.

If flouncing gowns, sharp-heeled shoes and wandering flames do not do-in poor old Norman Wynford-Scott, his urge to ‘leave a mark’ on the school might well.

Wynford-Scott captures the readers’ sympathies at once. Events, intended to be enjoyable Christmas revels, have gotten out of hand. Though we’ve scarcely met our main character, he’s plainly being pushed out of his comfort zone.

Lady Fay is quite a different character, all in all. She might feel shame, but she knew what she was about. We readers are still back, feeling for poor Norman. Lady Fay’s predicament seems well-deserved. We’re thinking maybe he should have … but no giveaways here! Valor Under Siege is full of the quirk-ily unexpected, and I don’t want to spoil a minute of it. Although there are laugh-out-loud moments, there is the surprisingly heartfelt as well. Occasionally the book might wallow in Lady Fay’s outlook a tad more than strictly required; my one and only complaint.

Hot moments are indescribably hot, thoroughly described but not overdone, not out-of-place. The backdrop is perfect; from Gray’s Inn to the grand home, Norman’s preference for riding to traveling in the carriage, and Fay’s trust in and reliance on her servant. The historical setting is well done but not intrusive.

Valor Under Siege is a clever, quick, unexpected and genuinely hot . Its a case of drawing-room valor to be certain, but valor nonetheless.

Ready Or Dead by PM Kavanaugh


Ready Or Dead by PM Kavanaugh
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (59 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Fans of TV’s Quantico and Alias will love this sizzling prequel to the thrilling spy caper Die Run Hide.

New recruit Anika Washington has barely adjusted to the difficult training regimen at a global counterterrorism agency when she’s prematurely called up to complete her first mission. If she succeeds, she’ll become a field agent; if she fails, Anika’s out of the program. Abandoned at birth to a federal orphanage, Anika never wants to feel the pain of rejection again.

Complicating matters is the fact that she’ll be going undercover at a black-tie gala with Gianni Brambillo, the gorgeous and enigmatic Level 2 agent who seems to have taken a special interest in Anika. Armed with high-tech spy gadgets and quick thinking, the two of them will need to rely on each other to complete their plan successfully. It’s go time, and Anika must prove to everyone, including herself, that she’s mission-ready—or die trying.

Anika is a first-year recruit and at the end of her extensive training. With nowhere else to go, she’s determined to make the cut and become an operative. Can she pass the impossible odds?

I found this to be an interesting and fast-paced read. The shadowy “agency” training the special operatives puts Anika through her paces and makes for quite the adrenaline rush. I enjoyed watching Anika during her various, rigorous training and start her first mission. The author’s style of writing – along with the characters and situations – really made me think of an episode of the tv series “Alias”. There’s lots of action, a fair bit of cloak-and-dagger suspense/mystery and that whole “let’s save the world” spy/thriller action all through the book. While the plot wasn’t exactly fresh or new, I found the story itself compelling and interesting enough to retain my interest all the way through.

I thoroughly enjoyed the main characters – Anika and Gianni. I found both characters to be complex and interesting people with multiple layers. Curiosity about them both kept me happily turning the pages to discover what would happen next. I also liked how there were so many interesting secondary characters – other recruits both new ones at Anika’s level and Level One and Two’s with more experience and clearly more knowledge about the shadowy government organization that they were training and working for.

While there is a fair amount of chemistry between Anika and Gianni, there is no actual romance in this story (no kisses or any physical affection). I feel it’s important to note though that the story does end with a potential happy ending for these two characters. I’d be very interested to read any further stories set in this world and particularly about any further stories about Anika and Gianni.

Readers who like spy-type novels or action based stories should enjoy this short story as much as I did. I found the plot interesting and I greatly enjoyed the complexities of the characters and the agency they found themselves in. Recommended.

Tokyo Love by Diana Jean


Tokyo Love by Diana Jean
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full Length (169 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual, F/F Interaction
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

When Kathleen Schmitt is promoted to project lead at Mashida INTL for the Personal Love Companion (PLC), a life-sized, hyper-realistic dating doll, she must relocate to Tokyo. Trying not to get lost in translation is quite the culture shock for this born-and-bred Midwesterner.

She’s surprised when her boss asks her to beta test the new dolls—an assignment that requires having her brain scanned so the company can fashion a personalized doll based on her innermost desires. But most surprising of all: her test PLC turns out to be a woman—one who looks and acts remarkably like her neighbor and coworker, Yuriko Vellucci.

American-born Yuriko is a former transplant herself and is sympathetic to the difficulties of adjustment—to a point. Kathleen is about the most pathetic foreigner this engineer’s ever met. She clearly needs Yuriko’s help and expertise if this transition—and the PLC project—is to be a success.

With Yuriko to show her the way, Kathleen will learn to socialize at an izakaya, find the best onsen in Nikko, party at a matsuri, buy doujinshii in Akihabara, and fall in love with a country so very different from her own.

But can she also learn how to confess her love for the person who showed it to her?

In the not so distant future, will robots make the perfect companion-both in conversation and in love?

Tokyo Love is a deep story the looks into the depth of society and human nature and takes into account that modern technology can find a replacement for almost anything. In fact the main character, Kathleen Schmitt, is the head of a project designed to produce Personal Love Companions (PLC)-essentially robots that can tend to our every need that look, act and learn just like humans. With a rushed timeline and her job on the line, Kathleen is tasked with testing the very first PLC released. The companion, built after a specialized cortex scan is supposed to be everything that Kathleen finds attractive in the human species.

The twist, the PLC looks and acts just like Kathleen’s neighbor! But it doesn’t end there, her neighbor happens to be female causing a mess of emotions and confusion for Kathleen. Kathleen is convinced there must be a glitch in the cortex scan and the gender was wrong with the PLC. Since only a handful of people know about the PLC test, when issues with the PLC arise, from technical complications to severe errors in data processing there are only a few individuals that Kathleen can call on for help-with one of them being her neighbor.

This is a great story that takes into consideration the direction of technology, cultural traditions and human nature. The author, Diana, does a fantastic job at creating real emotions and stirring up conflict. The actions and conversations of the PLC named Ai, and Yuriko, the neighbor are humorous and the constant struggle with Kathleen’s identity and perception of self add to the plot and depth of the story.

The plot is smooth and works in the concerns and stress of work, life-balance, and even how a simple cold can throw everything into a tailspin. Diana does a great job at making the world of the characters-a world in a not too distant future-feel like it is happening right now. The overall questioning of human nature and the capacity to love are the pivotal questions that the author works to answer.

I highly recommend this book if you want to add some technology to your romance reading!

What the Gambler Risks by Kristina Knight


What the Gambler Risks by Kristina Knight
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (160 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Twenty-something ice queen Sabrina Smith enjoys the fame and fortune she’s found writing self-help books for a largely female audience. Her readers hang on every word of how the Vegas Virgin—an unflattering and inaccurate moniker given to her by a local shock jock—juggles dating, working, and friendships in Sin City.

And that’s why Jase Reeves spells trouble.

Jase knows Sabrina’s secret—that she’s not nearly as cold as she would like people to think—and he’s through keeping it. He didn’t intend to have a one-night stand with the Vegas Virgin, but now he can’t get her out of his head. And he can’t keep living this lie.

With Jase back at the tables in Vegas, Sabrina has one goal: stay away from the handsome gambler before he melts her career—and her heart.

I’ve always wanted to go to Las Vegas and I always thought it would be cool to be an author. I wish I was Sabrina Smith, the heroine in this story, just to experience a day in her life with the hero, Jase Reeves. How awesome would that be? To be an author like Sabrina and date an amazing card player like Jase in Las Vegas!

This book is part of a trilogy, however it can stand on its own. I haven’t read the other two books before this one but I am seriously considering getting them to read. If Jase’s brothers are anywhere as near as HOT as Jase was then I need to read their stories. I saw a glimpse of the humor among the three siblings and would love to read more of that brotherly bantering that made me laugh out loud.

The chemistry between Sabrina and Jase is quite spicy. The book was listed as sensual but the love scenes between Sabrina and Jase were borderline spicy/hot. Which, when considering the setting is Las Vegas, what can one expect? I thought it worked perfect because Sabrina Smith was labeled the moniker “Vegas Virgin” by a local shock jock and Jase was labeled the typical player. Their relationship held true to the stereotype “hot Vegas nights”.

Sabrina and Jase have similar hurts from their own childhoods to overcome before their relationship can fully have that happily ever after ending. I expected Sabrina to have been the more logical one to get past her childhood trauma since she became famous for writing self-help books. Yet, how could she with her mother still around to inflict the craziness. In fact, I would have given this book 5 stars if not for the annoyance of Sabrina’s mother. Sabrina’s mother irritated me beyond belief – a major frustration. Fortunately the mother was redeemed before the ending and Sabrina and Jase helped each other to see the future was with each other.

What the Gambler Risks by Kristina Knight was really a very good romance story. Jase was irresistible and like I said before, I am definitely intrigued to read the other two books about Jases’s brothers to see how their romance compares. I’m glad I read this story and I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a fun seductive read.