The Bride Who Got Lucky by Janna MacGregor

The Bride Who Got Lucky by Janna MacGregor
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (364 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

He would do anything to protect her. Even marry her…

The son of a cold-hearted duke, Nicholas St. Mauer isn’t one to involve himself in society…or open his own heart to anyone. But driven by honor, the reclusive Earl of Somerton feels obliged to keep a watchful eye on Lady Emma Cavensham. She possesses a penchant for passions unbecoming a woman that finds Nick in constant peril of losing his well-structured solitude. She even dared kiss Nick once―an utterly unladylike, and delightful, lapse…

Emma can’t deny the appeal of the earl’s attention, and occasional affection, but she has no need for a man. There are worse fates than spinsterhood, as Emma knows too well. She still mourns the loss of her dear friend Lena, and is determined to prove Lena’s husband responsible for her death before he lures another innocent woman into a brutal marriage. But as Emma pursues her prey, a compromising moment upends all her plans. Now, with gossip swirling and her reputation in tatters, Nick may be the only man brave enough to join in Emma’s cause. . .and fight for her heart.

The Bride Who Got Lucky can be categorized as friends to lovers romance novel. Nicholas St. Mauer and Lady Emma Cavensham have known each other for a long time. Nicholas saved Emma from her own adventure once and then he gave her a present; in return he got a kiss from her. But years passed before the two of them are thrown together again. Although neither of them wanted to get married, destiny has other plans for them.

The Bride Who Got Lucky is a magnificent story. It is rich and beautifully written. It goes beyond romantic pursuit between the hero and heroine. Once I started to read it I just could not put it down. There are many things that make this novel great. The plot makes this more than just another historical romance novel. It combines romance, adventure and social issues. In the novel the author deals with the status of women in society and she raises the issue of domestic violence. These topics are well incorporated into the story and added value to it. Furthermore, the novel is part of a series, yet it can be read as a standalone. The minor references to the previous titles in the series can be disregarded and the reader can fully enjoy this story.

As for the characters, the hero is amazing and the heroine is larger than life, feisty and a blue stocking all at the same time. The hero, Nicholas St. Mauer, has a bit of a father issue. He lives in the past due to some unresolved issues between him and his father but it is also what makes him the way he is. The heroine, Lady Emma Cavensham, is a lady ahead of her time. She bends rules and she uses her social status for a good cause. She is driven by guilt and there were moments in the story when she did something very impulsive and got herself into trouble. But she genuinely wants to help women, so for me Emma was a great character and is so different from many other historical romance novel heroines.

All in all this is amazing and complex story that I highly recommend.

The Silver Mosaic by Michael McMenamin and Patrick McMenamin

The Silver Mosaic by Michael McMenamin and Patrick McMenamin
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Genre: Historical, Thriller, Mystery/suspense
Length: Full (442 pgs)
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

March, 1933. The weak German economy is in peril. Winston Churchill wants to push it over the cliff with a boycott of German exports and take with it the new Nazi government whose brown-shirted SA thugs are terrorizing Germany’s Jews.

Working with Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, Churchill enlists the help of his goddaughter, Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary, and her fiance, the lawyer and ex-Army intelligence agent Bourke Cockran. Mattie’s task is to find out how the Nazis plan to defeat the boycott. Cockran’s assignment is to recover microfilm containing sensitive commercial information on German exporters compiled by German patriots opposed to the Nazis. With it, the exporters’ competitors will be able to steal Germany’s foreign customers with comparable goods at lower prices.

The Nazis are determined to fight back. To oppose the boycott, they find two unlikely allies. One is the Jewish Authority in Palestine who is negotiating with the Nazis to sell out the boycott in exchange for the Nazis allowing German Jews to emigrate to Palestine with funds in excess of German currency controls. The negotiations are top secret and when Mattie gets too close to the truth, both the Nazis and their Jewish allies in Palestine are determined to stop her at any cost.

The second Nazi ally is FDR and the U.S. government who also oppose the boycott because of the damage it will do to American investors. When American agents learn of Cockran’s quest for the microfilm, they team up with Hitler’s black-clad SS and Jewish agents from Palestine to stop him and get the microfilm.

The deadly battle between Churchill’s agents, Mattie and Cockran, takes them from New York to London, Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Copenhagen, and Stockholm pursued by the strange bedfellows of Nazi, Jewish and American agents working together. Finally, at Mattie and Cockran’s wedding in Scotland, their enemies kidnap Cockran’s son and Churchill’s daughter and offer to trade their lives for the microfilm.

I was excited to be able to review this next volume in the Churchill Thriller series – the fifth in the series. The action takes place shortly after the adventures in the previous volume, The Berghof Betrayal (you can see our review of it here).

It was good to visit with some old friends and to meet new characters. The authors did another masterful job at blending historical figures (Churchill, Einstein, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, etc.) with fictional characters such as Mattie McGary and Bourke Cockran.

The action is non-stop, and the amount of historical research that this father/son writing team does is incredible. The books can be read in any order plot-wise, but it might help the new reader understand and perhaps keep up with all the characters if the previous books have been read.

While long and at times violent (it IS set during a pretty violent period of time, after all), the book is a pleasure to read. I’m looking forward to the release of their next book in this series.

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A Cinderella for the Greek by Julia James

A Cinderella for the Greek by Julia James
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (217 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Fairy tale for just one night?

Cruelly mistreated by her stepfamily, Ellen Mountford retreated to the shadows of her father’s home, feeling unworthy and unloved. But when powerful tycoon Max Vasilikos wants to buy the glorious English country estate, Ellen can hide no longer…

Under the scrutiny of the Greek’s arrogant stare, Ellen fights the urge to retreat further and stands up to him, yet Max is relentless. He tempts her out to a glamorous charity gala, where Ellen is transformed from dowdy recluse to belle of the ball. Now there is a new glint in Max’s eye that is even more devastating…seduction!

The title gave me a hint of the theme of the story but in no way could it prepare me for the fun between the covers of A Cinderella for the Greek by Ms. James.

Unlike the fairy tale, Ellen chooses to dress and act the way she does as a form of armor. Unfortunately her choice of armor arose by being emotionally abused; the scars are inside her mind and it’s going to take a force of nature to undo years of intimidation. That force comes in the form of a very sexy, wealthy and determined Max Vasilikos who won’t take no for an answer and Ellen is in the way of something he wants, badly. The first chapter set the stage with all the players and it hooked me so thoroughly, laundry and dishes were forgotten. This was going to be good.

Basically, the ‘mouse’, Ellen, butts heads with the lion leaving Max the ‘lion’ surprised, bemused and intrigued. Ellen poses a greater challenge than Max bargained for and the sparks fly as he tries all kinds of ways to not only get his way but to figure out what makes Ellen tick. Naturally there are assumptions and preconceived ideas that get in the way and half the fun is watching how Ms. James has her characters knock each one of them down.

As any good romance plots go, there’s the requisite mix-up of intentions, emotional explosions and heartfelt anguish that the hero and heroine have to battle in order to achieve their happy ever after.

There is actually quite a bit of internal dialogue that applies to both Max and Ellen so a reader can get a sense that the hero and heroine are both falling in love with the other but are fighting it too.

What I appreciated about Max is his ability to teach Ellen some important life lessons. They were hard learned and of course it caused doubt as to whether or not their budding love could mature enough to overcome the truths Ellen had to face. Since this is a romance story with a happy ever after, it’s a safe bet that all will turn out okay. It’s the journey of going from pain to passion, enemies to lovers and sad to happy that kept me flipping the pages.

For readers who need that lovey-dovey wrap-it-all-up in an epilogue moment, rest assured A Cinderella for the Greek delivers it in classic romantic fashion. If a reader enjoys Cinderella rescue stories, then this book is worth checking out.

Wolf Hunger by Paige Tyler

Wolf Hunger by Paige Tyler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (211 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Wolf shifter and SWAT Officer Max Lowry falls hard for she-wolf Lana Mason, but things spiral out of control when wolf hunters track her down, and Max realizes Lana has no idea who–or what–she really is.

The One! Everyone has a soul mate. This group of werewolf SWAT officers each have one, but they have to find them first.

Wolf Hunger is a love at first sight type of romance with a mix of action as well as some suspense. I am not normally a fan of love at first sight romances since they tend to move too fast and the essence of the romance disappears. I can not say that about this book. The romance lacked a little for me, but the attraction and chemistry between Max and Lana was off the charts and made the story better. It took some time for me to get into the book, but when it did I could not stop until the end.

The idea of everyone having their one mate and the importance of that one got a tad repetitive. At times, this repetition put me off the story. I have read one of the books in the series some time ago and one thing that I found is that the series revolves around a bigger arcing plot. That said, this story can be read as a stand alone. The book is action packed!

At first I struggled some with the romance between Max and Lana. But with every page and chapter I read, more of the plot and the pasts of the main characters were revealed. Seeing the layers unfold made the story a lot more interesting.  Their relationship may have been instantaneous, but it was fully developed half way through the book and that made the ending satisfying.

The climax was off the charts. I would read this book for the action if for nothing else. The climax was emotional, packed to the brim, and it flowed. I will read the next book because I want to know what happens next.

If you love your action with a hint of romance, then this is a great book to try.

Shrouded Memory by Krista Wagner

Shrouded Memory by Krista Wagner
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (249 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

What You Don’t Remember Can Hurt You

After surviving a shark attack, Marine Biologist Rian Field becomes haunted by disturbing memories of a past traumatic incident and begins to suspect that the assailants may be those closest to her. But more chilling is her fear that they are somehow connected to the shark attack and want her dead. Rian must overcome her fear of sharks and uncover the truth before the past drags her into its shadows.

Can a large whale be dangerous in an estuary?

Estuaries are places where the salt water meets the fresh water. A place that holds all sorts of weird species. Why would Rian Field get her PhD in Marine Estuarine & Aquatic Life Studies in a place like this? She was even a little afraid of water. For that matter, why would she want to see and study the Great White shark? But…many of us have seen the movie Jaws and thoughts of such a movie have stayed with us for years. Rian Field had been fascinated with sharks ever since she saw the movie.

Just like I seem to know Rian and her thoughts, the author also did a good job with development of many of the characters. While I enjoyed reading this book, it does have a lot of flashbacks in the form of dreams, “bad guy thoughts” and memories. Sometimes that can be hard to follow or throw off the flow of reading. It was handled pretty well by this author. One thing that helped ease the flow of reading was that dreams, thoughts of the “bad guy” and regular prose were all done in different fonts. This made Shrouded Memory much easier to read than many books of its type.

This is a book full of relationships, good friends, and intrigue. I read it very quickly but not because it was easy. It was because I didn’t want to put it down.

The Supers by Sean Michael

The Supers by Sean Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (235 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Hunting ghosts and finding more than they bargained for.

Blaine Franks is a member of the paranormal research group the Supernatural Explorers. When the group loses their techie to a cross-country move, newly graduated Flynn Huntington gets the job. Flynn fits in with the guys right off the bat, but when it comes to him and Blaine, it’s more than just getting along.

Things heat up between Blaine and Flynn as they explore their first haunted building, an abandoned hospital, together. Their relationship isn’t all that progresses, though, and soon it seems that an odd bite on Blaine’s neck has become much more.

Hitchhiking ghosts, a tragic love story forgotten by time, and the mystery of room 204 round out a romance where the things that go bump in the night are real.

Blaine loved his work with the Supers and while excited for their next job, he hoped that the new technician would work out. Flynn, much to Blaine’s surprise and pleasure, was not just a believer in the paranormal, but also had his own very personal reasons to want to prove that ghosts exist. Blaine is excited to welcome Flynn to their crew and when the chemistry between them goes off the scale their working relationship quickly becomes far more intimate than either man expected.

This is a really interesting story – a bit of a departure from the usual Sean Michael books I’ve read previously. Strongly paranormal, I believe this story is written in a contemporary setting (small mentions of breast cancer, a bar and grill, EMF readings and modern technology) but other readers could very easily view this as more of a steampunk-ish setting. I strongly felt while reading it that apart from small mentions here and there of contemporary items it really could fit easily into a readers’ imagination of a variety of time-periods. Possibly helping with this flexible setting was the main characters could have easily fitting into both the historical or contemporary settings. In my opinion I feel like this was written specifically to be left open to the interpretation of the reader. I could easily believe a wide range of readers will not only enjoy this story – but could certainly take different things away from it, and that’s quite a gift Mr. Michael has conveyed.

I was really impressed with the characters. The team of Supers were all different, multi-layered characters each with their own quirks and back-story. The fact they were all good friends and worked well together as a team really helped me thoroughly enjoy the story and get quite attached to them all. I also loved the plot – complex and deep it wasn’t just some hastily scrabbled-together thing to string lines between the sex scenes. I felt the plot wound throughout the entire story, in parts the plot was even more important than the sex and growing relationship between Flynn and Blaine – which was a real pleasure to read and try to guess what had happened and where the plot would lead next.

I feel this story was really excellent – interesting and vibrant characters, a complex plot that was well thought out and that lasts properly through the story, love, romance and hot sex scenes. I have no hesitation in strongly recommending this story to pretty much all readers – a strong mystery, ghost hunters, hot M/M sex and a lightly steam-punk kind of feel to the setting I feel this is sure to appeal to a broad range of people.

Bought for the Greek’s Revenge by Lynne Graham

Bought for the Greek’s Revenge by Lynne Graham
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (186 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Bedded for the Greek’s pleasure!

Ella Palmer has neither the money nor the connections to warrant the interest of Nikolai Drakos’s archenemy. Yet the unassuming beauty has done just that—and claiming her will be Nikolai’s ultimate satisfaction!

The ruthless tycoon will use any means necessary to ensure Ella’s compliance, so he buys out her family’s debts. Debts he’ll forgive if Ella becomes his mistress. But when he discovers the true extent of her innocence, Nikolai is forced to consider something new; it appears the indomitable Greek is about to take a bride!

Usually these types of romance stories deal with a tortured, rich and broody hero, and a put-upon but beautiful heroine. It’s the internal conflicts which power the plot. However, in Bought for the Greek’s Revenge the external conflict touches base on a heftier topic which gives this novel a higher emotional caliber.

Even though the conflict topic is serious, it does not overshadow the romance nor does it bring a reader down. What it does do is shake the hero up. Nikolai’s emotions are all over the place – he starts off feeling one way with one goal and as the story gets told, the hero comes face to face with the fact that nothing is as it appears or as he believes.

Ella truly is an innocent but she’s not stupid nor a pushover. She’s a fighter which is very important when her trusting and forgiving nature gets tested when she’s accosted.

When it comes to our hero Nikolai, unfortunately for her, but fortunate for me, she can’t withstand his force of personality and she succumbs to his seduction. With a hunk like Nikolai, falling under his passionate spell was a foregone conclusion. It’s what happens after that kept me turning the pages. The scene where she tells the hero she found pertinent information in a book totally had me grinning. Ella kept Nikolai on his toes and hot under the collar.

There are some important secondary characters and my favorite is Ella’s gramma. Her presence is brief but it’s strongly felt. A reader will figure out what I mean when they read their own copy of Bought for the Greek’s Revenge.

The happy ever after is delightfully fulfilled in a wonderful epilogue that pushed all my happy buttons. I really enjoyed Bought for the Greek’s Revenge and I’m so glad I read it. It’s a terrific afternoon read.

Too Beautiful for Words by Ronald M. James

Too Beautiful for Words by Ronald M. James
Publisher: James Milward
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full length (388 pgs)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Private Investigator, Sammy Shovel, finally gets the client of a lifetime and rushes to claim his jackpot, but he soon discovers—wealth and pearl coincide.

Beloved Golden Opportunities, founder and CEO, Joel Ceja, is found murdered one foggy morning.

Three months after Joel’s death the police are stumped, they still have no clues in the case. Golden Opportunities’ employees feel they’re being stonewalled and decide to hire detective Sammy Shovel to assist the police. Meeting the Golden executive congregate, Sammy learns real wealth has money trees to burn, but they want results. His shabby clothes are no concern for they think it’s part of a disguise for another case, not knowing he’s bordering on destitution.

Sammy accepts the case, figuring it was nothing more than a local homicide.

However, in no time at all, he’s mired in international quicksand filled with a worldwide assassination ring, and wants out of the contract.

Sammy learns that gold teeth, with the inscription R & M, are major facts in the case.

But greed overcomes his common sense, and is embroiled in a well-organized gang of hit men. He runs from firefight to firefight to get to the truth, but his adversaries dupe him time and again with lies and trickery.

In Mazatlan Sammy discovers the truth about the initials R&M, they’re tied to a band of Seventeenth Century assigns, who would murder each other with any hint of betrayal.

You may deceive Sammy—some of time. But when he put’s it altogether—run bother, run for we all know Sammy’s a shoot first and ask questions later kind of guy.

Sammy Shovel sure isn’t your everyday P.I.

If you enjoy a good gumshoe turned P.I. book, this is one for you. The characters were well-developed but none as well as Sammy Shovel, P.I. Is that the perfect name for a stumbling, bumbling, smart as a tack P.I. or not?

This is a 2nd edition by a different publisher, James Milward. The author, Ronald James, was born during the time of the Depression. However, this book is set in today’s era. The plot is conceivable and there is a lot of interplay between Sammy and the local cops, some friendly and of course…some not. There are definitely enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. Still, the storyline in this book is constructed well enough to never lose you in those twists and turns. No turning back a few pages to see “who was who” in this book. Most of this book is written in first person narrative. It is Sammy’s view of himself and his sarcastic and somewhat naïve mind that makes this book fun to read.

I must say if typos or grammar errors bother you, be advised this book needs some editing. I must also tell you that they drive me nuts and I would normally put a book down immediately. I couldn’t put this book down. Had to finish it. And that says volumes about the story.

Passport to Murder by Mary Angela

Passport to Murder by Mary Angela
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (249)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Start with an unlucky number. Throw in a romantic location. Include a dashing Frenchman and an uncompromising professor. And you have all the ingredients for a passport to murder.

This semester, it seems that Professor Prather’s dreams are about to come true. Ever since she was a young girl, she’s imagined going to France, and her French colleague, André Duman, has finally made that trip possible. Over spring break, she and André are to lead a group of students and faculty to Paris to explore the City of Light. But before she can utter her first bonjour, a professor dies, and they are stuck in Minneapolis. She returns to Copper Bluff with an unstamped passport and a mystery to solve.

When André becomes the prime suspect, Emmeline puts her research skills to good use, determined to find out who really killed the professor and spoiled their spring break plans. With thirteen travelers assembled, the possibilities are varied and villainous. Luckily, her dear friend and sidekick, Lenny Jenkins, is close by. Together, they will sort through the conflicting clues even if it costs them time, trouble, or tenure.

Have you ever wondered how crime is solved in the world of Academia? With the assistance of Professor Prather of course!

Passport to Murder is an engrossing story that will pull the reader in from the first page. While taking a once in a lifetime class trip to Paris, there is a death of one of the faculty members during the flight causing an immediate change of plans and cancelling this amazing opportunity for everyone. What occurs after this murder is where the story really heats up, both literally and figuratively.

Passport to Murder is the second story of the Professor Prather series. You do not need to read the first book, An Act of Murder, to feel caught up since Mary Angela does an excellent job at keeping new and returning reader up to speed. The core events of the first story are reviewed within Passport to Murder without causing the reader to feel guilty about missing out if they had not read the first book.

Emmeline Prather and her colleague Lenny Jenkins team up after some more puzzling questions arise regarding the death of the beloved professor on the plan. The mix of characters, including police officers, students and faculty all make for a fun interactive adventure for the reader. The great conversations and in-depth descriptions bring the reader directly into the mix-making the story flow smoothly and enveloping the reader into the world of Emmeline Prather.

As the story progresses and the questions regarding the beloved but very outspoken professor begin to circulate once again, another mysterious tragedy suddenly appears to take Copper Bluff by storm. Emmeline and Lenny begin connecting the dots to find out that this new development is most likely related to the professor’s death. Just when the reader began to believe that life was moving forward for the characters, this new development sets off even more questions and suspicions.

If you are a fan of mysteries, especially those that occur in the world of academics, make sure you don’t miss Passport to Murder by Mary Angela!

The One That Got Away by Kaliana Cole

The One That Got Away by Kaliana Cole
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (236 Pages)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Anal Play, Toys
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

When Marley Richards finally finds her way into Andy Calhoun’s bed for one unforgettable night, it was everything she’d ever fantasized about, right up until he spoke four little words that shattered her dreams. “It was only sex.” He also gave her more than a broken heart.

Marley was the one that got away, but when Andy discovers the secret she holds, he begs her to let him back into her life. However, Marley has a list of demands for Liberty Spring’s Sheriff, starting with cooked breakfasts, foot rubs, and unreciprocated orgasms. While meeting Marley’s demands, Andy discovers the simple pleasures of laughter, fun, and holding his woman close.

But someone in Liberty Springs doesn’t want Marley and Andy together. A string of incidents place both Marley and the dreams Andy is building around her in mortal danger. Andy must keep Marley safe, continue to win her heart, and find who the culprit is before it’s too late.

Kaliana Cole added another great Liberty Springs novel with The One That Got Away.

This book had everything! It was easy to get pulled into the mystery of this plot. A real romance had been brewing between Andy and Marley for a long time. Just when the future was finally looking bright for the couple it became obvious that someone was still out to get Marley. That’s when Andy had to take charge like the true alpha male he has been all along. Now, let me tell you, Kaliana Cole knows how to write a red hot love scene or two.

This book was right up my alley. It was exceptionally well written and loaded with a fast paced romance, exciting mystery, and some big surprises for everyone in the Liberty Springs world. Andy and Marley had plenty of emotional depth and like the previous couples in this kinky series there were a few BDSM scenes. This book also closed a long running thread about one Liberty Springs troublemaker while at the same time catching my interest with a couple of intriguing characters that I am hopeful will be getting their very own books.

I really enjoyed reading The One That Got Away and look forward to whatever comes next from this author.