The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries


The Pleasures of Passion: The Sinful Suitors Series by Sabrina Jeffries
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (387 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

When Niall Lindsey, the Earl of Margrave, is forced to flee after killing a man in a duel, he expects his secret love, Brilliana Trevor, to go with him, or at the very least wait for him. To his shock, she does neither and sends him off with no promise for the future. Seven years and one pardon later, Niall returns to England disillusioned and cynical. And being blackmailed by the government into working with his former love to help catch a counterfeiter connected to her father doesn’t improve his mood any. But as his role as Brilliana’s fake fiancé brings his long-buried feelings to the surface once again, he wonders who is more dangerous—the counterfeiter or the woman rapidly stealing his heart.

Forced to marry another man after Niall was exiled, the now widowed Brilliana wants nothing to do with the reckless rogue who she believes abandoned her to a dreary, loveless life. So having to rely on him to save her father is the last thing she wants, much less trusts him with….But as their scheme strips away the lies and secrets of their shared past, can she let go of the old hurt and put her pride aside? Or will the pleasures of their renewed passion finally enable them both to rediscover love?

True love can withstand exile by choice, heartache born of misunderstandings, deception from necessity and a daring scheme meant draw out the bad guys as it draws two hearts back together forever.

Sound epic enough? This is classic Sabrina Jeffries and why this author draws me back time and again. Having said that, I’ve missed this delightful new series, The Sinful Suitors. With one book, she has me hooked and searching out the beginnings and anxiously waiting for the next installment.

Bree and Niall might be considered star crossed in the beginning but in truth, they wouldn’t have been ready to start a life together even had circumstances been different. The ups and downs, regrets and moments of joy in Bree’s life taught her to guard her heart. I loved that Niall was persistent to remind her that theirs was a soul deep connection that could heal her heart.

One of the reasons that I love a good Regency romance is all the social conventions of the time period, the absurd rules and class warfare. I know not the normal reasons but a good romance author knows how to work through or, when necessary, work around those issues and give the hero and his lady an opportunity to earn the love of lifetime. Ms. Jeffries does that very thing with Bree and Niall’s story.

Bree has learned that if she’s going to have a life for herself and her son, she’ll have to take control of their destiny and not depend of hapless, faithless men who constantly fail to see a woman’s strengths beyond her looks. She’s sometimes a little too stubborn but I was happy to see that Niall was patient and perceptive. He didn’t just tell her he thought she was smart and capable he demonstrated that he believed it, too. Smart man.

Readers who loved The School For Heiresses, The Duke’s Men, The Hellions of Hallstead Hall and all of Sabrina Jeffries other fantastic series will be thrilled to drawn into a new “family”. That’s one of the hallmarks of her series books. She creates families that aren’t always blood related but they have even deeper connections that matter and last long after the final page.

This is another fine example of the cleverness that is Sabrina Jeffries. Perfect read for any time of the year.

Finding Mr. Wright by BA Tortuga


Finding Mr. Wright by BA Tortuga
Dreamspun Desires Book 42
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (226 pages)
Other: M/M, anal play/intercourse
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Leaning N

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including weddings. And misunderstandings.

Colorado wedding planner Mason O’Reilly lands a major contract: a two-hundred-guest wedding at the Leanin’ N Ranch, where his friends Ford and Stoney are working to provide a safe space for GLBT events. The Wright/Preston ceremony is a destination wedding, and as the grooms are from Texas, everything is done over the phone and email. There’s no way that could lead to trouble, right?

Oops.

Oil tycoon Noah Wright isn’t happy about the impending disaster, but he admires Mason’s quick thinking and grace under pressure. And that’s not all he likes about the out-and-proud wedding planner. Even though Mason’s interested in Noah, his Mr. Right can’t possibly be a rancher from Dallas.

Can he?

It’s the wedding that Mason has always dreamed of…for someone else. Mason is wedding planner and he’s been hired to coordinate the one that can make all his dreams come true, as well.

Brother of the bride, Noah Wright, just wants to make it through all the weekend in one piece. His mom and sister aren’t making it easy but it’s the wedding planner that he can’t stop thinking about.

He loves me, he loves me not. This one has that back and forth feel and I had to laugh out loud more than once because I was pretty sure it wasn’t flower petals that Mason wanted to throw at Noah a few times.

Ms. Tortuga has a wonderful way of drawing this reader into her western settings and making me feel a part of the story. Her dialogue is witty and the sex is hot. She also has a fantastic way of surprising the reader. The story trope is one that I’ve read but she made it fresh.

I liked both Mason and Noah and was a little frustrated that they took as long as they did to get their acts together. Stubborn is a good word to describe them both. Having said that, Mason is a sweetheart. He’s a fixer and very clever. Noah was a harder nut to crack but he felt real. He behaved like a man in his position might act even when it was uncomfortable for this reader. I’m glad that I didn’t give up on him.

A short story with plenty to celebrate. This is one that readers need to experience and embrace the journey to their HEA.

Dragons Hoard by M A Church


Dragons Hoard by M A Church
Dreamspun Beyond Book 5
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (183 pages)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

To be loved by a dragon is to be treasured.

A hundred years ago, werewolf Alpha Montgomery took a risk driven by desperation—he borrowed money from the ancient dragon Warwick Ehecatl, putting up the pack lands as collateral. Now the debt is due, and dragons don’t forget—or forgive. Warwick demands Montgomery’s son, Avery, and three businesses as compensation. As an Omega, Avery knows he is basically useless to his pack, so he might as well agree. He soon has second thoughts, though. Warwick is fearsome, and he’s free to do as he likes with Avery.

Warwick knows his race’s reputation, and he even admits some of it is deserved. But he’d rather cut off his tail than let his innocent mate’s light go out. It won’t be easy, but buried deep, there’s something between them worth safeguarding.

Beware of Dragons loaning money. They always expect to be repaid.

Avery is a wolf shifter, only son of the Alpha and yet he fulfils the role of an Omega. Ms. Church goes in to detail to explain exactly what that means. It should define who Avery is but he comes across as trying his best to not be a typical Omega. At one hundred years old, he has street smarts but he still has plenty to learn.

Warwick has come to collect a debt and dragons aren’t known for their philanthropy. They are possessive and shrewd and rich for a reason. When Avery’s father can’t repay in cash Warwick’s dragon comes up with an alternative tender. He wants his mate. He wants Avery. What a dragon wants, a dragon gets.

This is an insta-love story about two men who find each other under awkward circumstances. But maybe that was fate. As with most fated mate type stories, Avery and Warwick know they’re meant for each other as soon as they catch each other’s scents.

I personally enjoy a good insta-love but I still want there to be sexual tension. I didn’t get a lot of that here. There are some minor conflicts that are resolved quickly. I did like that Ms. Church has the men communicate pretty easily considering their age difference.

The kissing and touching are both hot. The Chase scene and eventual mating were a bit predictable but I still enjoyed watching Avery and Warwick get to know more about each other and each other’s culture. While there isn’t a lot of tension there is plenty of anticipation once the Chase is over and the men drive off to their HEA. I liked clever way the author resolved the issue of ‘the bite’.

Readers who enjoy a good paranormal where it’s more than just werewolves as shifters, should give this one a read. There’s growth, maturing and love. A good read on a cold night.

Irish Jewel by Julie Ann James


Irish Jewel by Julie Ann James
Publisher: The Peppertree Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (186 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

James takes her engaging characters to the gritty streets of Dublin, Ireland, where they become unsuspecting pawns in a twisted, tainted psychotic game of pure adulterated revenge from an unexpected and wicked mastermind. It is said to be true, that all families, have long-hidden secrets buried deep within their souls and locked away from all who might just go digging. Irish Jewel uncovers such a dark secret, so horrific that it could forever change lives when divulged. As the shocking truth surfaces, revealed for all to see, move across this chilling game board to determine where the grimy bread crumbs will end up…The suspense could kill you…

It should have been the trip of a lifetime that would end in the happiest day of her life. Now, Amy just hopes to make to the ceremony alive.

Written in a very classic and compelling “who done it?” style, Irish Jewel hit all the right notes for spine tingling thriller. I liked that I couldn’t figure out the mystery too early into the story but in retrospect, all the clues were there and it all came together for a very exciting conclusion.

Right away this reader was thrown into spin right along with Amy. Why was she being warned that the man she was about to marry wasn’t all he seemed to be? The more answers she finds, the more questions she has. I liked Amy and Michael together. They have really great chemistry so it was important to me to see how the author would resolve their story. I was cheering for them to not only make it to the wedding but to have their happily ever after. The author doesn’t make it any easier on Michael than she does for Amy. Not only does he have a suddenly missing fiance, someone is targeting his family.

Can I just say, Ms. James knows how to write a good villain! Seriously, this guy all about the evil!

There’s a lot going on in this short novel. The action starts early and the pace is fast. I was surprised at how quickly I finished it. One of the elements that I enjoyed but that also threw me off a time or two: there are several twists and turns. Just when I thought I knew where the book was going, a new element would suddenly come to life and off I’d go thinking in a new direction.

Readers who enjoy mystery, intrigue and just enough romance should give Irish Jewel a read. There’s a whole lot of story packed into this novella and it takes the reader on an exciting adventure half a world away.

False Start by Alison Hendricks

START
False Start by Alison Hendricks
Eastshore Tigers Book 2
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (203 pages)
Other: M/M, anal play/intercourse
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

The heat between them is impossible to ignore. But can they ever be anything but rivals?

Dante Mills has one more year to prove he can hack it in the NFL. If he can’t score attention from the scouts this season, he’ll never be able to give his hard-working mom the life she deserves. The last thing he needs is more competition, but that’s exactly what he gets when blond-haired, blue-eyed behemoth Mitchell Erickson walks into the locker room.

Mitchell Erickson has one year to prove he belongs on a football field. He’s spent his whole life struggling to find acceptance in his family, and now his father’s finally giving him the chance to follow his passion… for one season. If he doesn’t bring the Tigers to victory, it’s back to upholding the Erickson legacy in a suit and tie. But how can he possibly succeed when someone as talented as Dante stands between him and a starting position?

As if the tension between them wasn’t high enough, Mitch is insanely attracted to the very straight linebacker. As the season ramps up and both men fight for their place on the team, a heated locker room encounter leaves Dante questioning everything he thought he knew about himself.

When Dante and Mitch work together, they’re unstoppable. But can two men destined to be rivals ever be anything more?

Their chemistry on the field is a force to be reckoned with, what they have off the field is down right nuclear! It’ll take some eye-opening revelations to show these men that they work best as a team in all situations.

The whole “rich boy, poor boy…we come from different worlds” trope isn’t new but I really enjoyed the way Ms. Hendricks played it out in the second installment of the Eastshore Tigers series.

Dante and Mitch are alike and different in so many ways. The fact that Dante has to come to terms with his sexuality is the first major obstacle. Ms. Hendricks skillfully ties in the first book of the series with his discovery without making it necessary to have actually read Jason and Derek’s story.

It wasn’t hard to figure out early on that their backgrounds would also be a hurdle in their tumultuous relationship. Mitch was trying to step away from who his family wanted him to be but he was still influenced by the way he was raised. He makes more than one snap decision that, though they always came from his heart, results in escalating conflict with Dante. And Dante, for his part, has a bit of chip on his shoulder but I could actually understand his reasoning even if I really wanted him to not be so prideful. But that’s who he was, it was who he felt he had to be for his mom.

I really liked both Dante and Mitch. I like them separately and very much enjoyed seeing them work through their issues so they could be together. I haven’t read the first book in this series but I didn’t have to to understand that they were especially fortunate to have the backing of their teammates when they went public with their relationship. The scene in the gym between Dante, Anderson and Trent was perfect. No doubt these guys were going to have plenty of opposition to their relationship so seeing the support of their team mates was good.

False Start is a very appropriate title for Dante and Mitch’s story. As with a false start in football, there were penalties (repercussions) for when one or the other made a decision based on an assumption. But a brief set back didn’t have to mean the game in regards to their future together. There are lots of other analogies with football terms that I could use here but the bottom line is they didn’t give up, even when that would have been easy, even when stepping back was hard but necessary.

This story flows very well. Each chapter is headed with either Mitch or Dante’s name telling the reader who’s POV they’ll be seeing the story from at that point. First person POV isn’t my favorite but the chapter headings helped and the story itself was so captivating I wanted to see how they would work it all out.

This novel would be considered and “interracial romance” but the color of Dante’s skin is never made into plot point. The story has a comfortably realistic feel to it, except for the part about a small university team beating Alabama, which is pure fantasy, but I still very much enjoyed the story as a whole. I’d like to go back and read book one to see how this team first came together for Jason and Derek and I’ll be watching for the next installments as well. Easy recommend!

Craving Justice by Fiona Archer

JUSTICE
Craving Justice by Fiona Archer
Sons of Sydney Book 1
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (276 pages)
Other: M/F, BDSM, Spanking
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

A man branded by his past

Seth Justice is tall, daring and dangerous. The former street kid from Sydney owns a thriving technology company in Seattle. But he has bigger goals―or should that be ghosts?―that drive him harder. On the verge of selling his business for a fortune, he’s celebrating when Harper Fox, daughter of the buyer, tumbles into his arms. The curvy café owner enchants him with her sassy personality. Soon they move from easy banter to a night of passion that reveals a sweet vulnerability in the soft-hearted woman.

A woman determined to control her future

After a lifetime of her domineering father’s scorn and rejection, Harper dances to her own beat. She has her café and surrounds herself with a chosen family of her eccentric staff and close friends. While she’s mostly content… her heart aches for more. But Harper has been burned before and doesn’t trust easily. That is, until a man with a panty-melting Aussie accent and a commanding stare entices her to take a chance—on him. When Seth takes charge in the bedroom and ties her control in knots, he awakens a need in Harper that leaves her hungry for more.

A new beginning worth fighting for

When an unseen enemy attacks the new life Seth and his brothers have built, the ensuing disaster tests not only his developing relationship with Harper, but also threatens to sever the last remaining bonds with his brothers. As Seth struggles to protect everything and everyone he loves, he has to determine if Harper is his enemy’s target—or accomplice.

I walked away from Craving Justice craving the next book with a mad hunger!

Sometimes you find a new author or series and their voice just clicks with you as reader. That was me with Fiona Archer when I read the books in her King’s Bluff, Wyoming series. While I’ve always enjoyed reading a good Dominant Alpha male type hero, her heroes seem to always go just about a half step more towards the dark side of Dominance/submission in the most delicious ways.

Seth Justice is exactly the kind of hero I expected from this talented story teller. He has the tall, dark and handsome in spades but it’s more. He isn’t the broody male hero, though he has a brother or two that make up for how refreshingly open Seth is, especially with Harper. And then Ms. Archer goes and gives him and his brothers a back story that owned me hands down.

Harper Fox is a gem. She’s the kind of heroine that I can cheer for because she’s not perfect but she’s not down on herself about her imperfections, either. She’s confident in who she is but not so arrogant that having someone like Seth pursue her isn’t completely flattering. She isn’t afraid to stand up to him but she also isn’t afraid to give over control to him. It’s a nice combination.  I couldn’t help but love her.

There’s a mystery presented pretty early on in this story that totally drew me in. Who had it in for the Justice brothers and why? Who had the technology and capability to find information that should have been classified and is there one target or are they out to take down the whole family? This being book one in the series left the door open for so many possibilities and had me glued to the pages to see where it would go. I’m glad I didn’t have money riding on predicting the ending. I would have lost it all.

This story has a very satisfying conclusion for Harper and Seth but there’s obviously more in store for the rest of family. After having met Adam, Zach, and Heath, (and possibly Lincoln) I have no doubt their HEA is going to just as hard won as Seth’s and just as exciting. It’s possible I met one, maybe two, future Mrs. Justice in this book. Harper has some pretty awesome and loyal friends. These guys don’t stand a chance!

Just as an aside, if I wasn’t already a total Fiona Archer fan girl, she throws in some pop-culture references that would have won me for sure. Who doesn’t love a good Angel marathon and then showing some Firefly love? I was putty in her hands.

This book is for readers who crave more than a sweet, simple romance. This one is for the readers who want to be on the edge of their seat and breathless from the moment Seth and Harper set eyes on each other. Seth is intense when it comes to pleasuring Harper and most certainly when it comes to protecting her. He’s not perfect but he’s perfect for her. As this is the first story in the Sons of Sydney series, now is the best time to join the fun by picking up a copy of Craving Justice.

Pretend You’re Mine by Lucy Score

MINE
Pretend You’re Mine by Lucy Score
A Small Town Love Story
Publisher: Pub Yourself Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (451 pages)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

I only wanted to protect you…

Luke Garrison is a hometown hero, a member of the National Guard ready to deploy again. Strong, sweet, and sexy, he doesn’t have a girlfriend and doesn’t want one. When the wildly beautiful Harper stumbles into his life, though, he realizes that she’s the perfect decoy. A fake girlfriend to keep his family off his back until he’s out on another mission.

So what if a single bite of her lip sends his mind to wicked places? He can control himself. Can’t he?

Harper was on her way to starting a new life… again. But something about Luke makes her want to settle down in this small town and make Luke’s house a home. When his arms wrap around her like steel, she finally knows what it’s like to feel safe. Protected.

One night of sleeping in the same bed turns into something much, much more… and soon Luke can’t keep his mind off Harper’s wide gray eyes, or his hands off of her luscious curves. He never thought he’d feel this way about a woman again. But he knows that he can’t tell her the truth about his dark past, and she can’t reveal to him what she’s running from.

Anyway, this isn’t a real relationship. It’s only for a month. Only pretend. Until it isn’t…

He needs a temporary girlfriend and she needs a temporary place to stay. What they both get is so much more.

I love a good small town romance when I get to meet and feel like I’m part of the community along with the characters. Ms. Score did a good job of expanding the story beyond the lives of Luke and Harper. It was a nice start to what I hope becomes at least a trilogy since I NEED to see both Linc and James’ stories. Linc may be Luke’s nemesis but he’s a hot fireman who never really does anything bad in this story and therefore he needs his own HEA.

Speaking of Luke, bless him, the tragic back story that slowly unfolds broke my heart. He has a real personal issue with not having control over situations and his own emotions and I think it took a free spirit like Harper to show him that it’s okay to not always be in control. Life is going to happen one day at time, full of surprises good and bad, regardless of how we try to control the outcomes. I liked that the author didn’t minimize his past and how she brought pieces of the past and present together to heal both Luke and others involved.

I like Harper a lot. Like Luke, she had a not great history but her outlook, and her decision to not let it rule her life made her a stronger person than she first appears. Luke thinks she’s flighty and needs a keeper but Harper proves that push come to shove, she might get knocked down but that doesn’t mean she’s out. She mourns temporarily for what was and she keeps moving. In the end, she teaches Luke how to live again, love again, and accept being loved. Along the way she builds the life she always dreamed of and finds the family she never had. There’s two different foster care elements to this story that totally won me over for the realistic way they were handled.

I’ve seen some reviews that hated Luke’s grand gesture towards the end saying that it made Harper look like a weak damsel. I disagree. What Luke did was as much for himself as it was for Harper. It was his first step towards the future he finally realized he could have if he could reconcile the past. He was pretty harsh when he pushed Harper away but I chalk that up to being scared because he didn’t think he deserved to be happy. If I had one crit about the story it was how vocally as well as internally adamant he was that he could never and would never love again. It was practically a mantra by the end of the book and I was like “okay, I get it, you’re scared” because that was honestly the bottom line.

While Luke’s words say no, his actions towards Harper say yes loud and clear. Their sexual chemistry, once he stops fighting it, was on an explosive level! I had to laugh at one review that complained that they don’t even have sex until about a third of the way in. That’s good, the author wisely used that time to build up the tension. They tease each other with looks, words and touches. When Luke goes all caveman on her after seeing her in Linc’s arms, I cheered because I knew, there was no way he could hold out now. It was awesome!

I did something with this story that I rarely do. When I finished reading it, I started reading it again. I loved this story that much. I truly hope Ms. Score decides to expand this book into a series, even a short one so I can revisit with Harper and Luke but mainly so I can see how Linc and James find love in Benevolence. Ms. Score has another small town series that’s calling my name and if it’s as good as Pretend You’re Mine, I know I’ll be hooked. This book is for readers who love a hot romance with a dash of intrigue.

Love in the Morning by Meg Benjamin

OVE
Love in the Morning by Meg Benjamin
Salt Box Trilogy Book 2
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (218 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

“Breakfast with benefits ”

“The Salt Box Trilogy,” Book 2

The reality show “Lovely Ladies of L.A.” should have launched Lizzy Apodaca s catering company into solvency. Instead, when her carefully prepared appetizers mysteriously gave the cast on-camera food poisoning, she lost everything.

To make matters worse, her car breaks down in Salt Box, Colorado, a town not much bigger than a salt shaker. But maybe her luck is changing the handsome owner of Praeger House, the town s premier hotel, needs a kitchen assistant.

Clark Denham realizes his diamond in the rough is a polished gem when Lizzy steps up to save the hotel s breakfast buffet after his temperamental head chef quits. It isn t long before she s winning his heart as smoothly and efficiently as she runs his kitchen.

Their relationship goes from simmer to rolling boil with the speed of a short order cook. But when a bevy of not-so-lovely ladies shows up in Salt Box, Lizzy s past disaster threatens to flatten her happily ever after faster than a falling souffle.

“Warning: Contains salty dialogue, several servings of high-carb cooking, and a big platter of screaming-hot bedroom delights.”

She can run but there was no way a past that made national news and the tabloids wouldn’t catch up to her eventually. Boy did it ever!

After read Finding Mr. Right Now, book 1 in the Salt Box Trilogy, I couldn’t wait to visit again. This quaint little Colorado town nestled at the foot of the slopes is full of great characters and townsfolk who watch out for each other. They’re used to seeing strangers and welcome the ones who decide make Salt Box their home so I wasn’t surprised when Lizzy rolled in on fumes and found her place in town. The early chapters of the book make references to the catastrophe that forced LIzzy to leave her home, change her name and look for a fresh start. When she actually reveals the details, I couldn’t help feel sorry for her but I was also curious about the rest of the story. There had to be more to it. She simply wasn’t that person to be so careless. I felt certain there were some not so Lovely Ladies who had a hand in her downfall. Time and chapters would tell.

I first met the owner of Praeger House in book 1 of the series. Clark Denham made an impression then so, I was curious to get to know him better and watch his and Lizzy’s story play out. I thought it was clever how the author built their attraction and connection slowly, not unlike how a chef would prepare a tasty sauce. Maybe it was by design or chance, but this isn’t a love at first sight kind of story and that’s just right for them. She’s new and a little wary and Clark comes across as someone who takes his time and gives his full attention to the things that matter. When it becomes Lizzy that matters, that’s when the book really got good!

I really like this author’s voice. The story flows well with vivid descriptions and snappy dialogue. I enjoyed revisiting some of the stops made on my first trip and seeing how the main and secondary characters I met on that trip were doing. The final addition to the series has yet to be released but I already know I’ll be waiting (im)patiently in line. Who will be the next hero or heroine to find love in Salt Box?

Readers who enjoy a well played out small town contemporary romance with just the right amount of heat, should give this book, actually this series, a read. Time well spent.

A Brazen Bargain by Laura Trentham

BRAZEN
A Brazen Bargain by Laura Trentham
Spies and Lovers Book 2
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (236 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Love soothes the deepest of scars.

Spies and Lovers, Book 2

Minerva Bellingham is at her wits’ end. Her younger brother, Simon, will have them penniless and on the streets if his extravagant gambling habit isn’t curtailed. An enormous debt to Lord Rafe Drummond is the final indignity.

Signing over her dowry is their only choice. Until Lord Drummond suggests something much more scandalous. She can keep her dowry—in exchange for the Bellinghams working three months as a housemaid and stable boy.

Scarred from his service to the Crown, Rafe recognizes the young Simon Bellingham has the makings of a good duke. Minerva is a different story. Her pure, delicate beauty only underscores Rafe’s tarnished, bleak soul.

Yet he delights in cracking Minerva’s icy reserve to reveal a fiery, stubborn woman. And Minerva discovers the gruff master of Wintermarsh has the heart of a poet. But before they can find a future safe in each other’s arms, a menace from Simon’s licentious past slithers back into their lives, forcing Rafe to plan the most important rescue mission of his life.

Warning: Contains a paragon of the beau monde who gets the hang of polishing silver, and a master of the house who’d like her to make his bed—preferably with him in it. Also passion unleashed with the mere touch of a finger. Readers are encouraged to swoon.

“Had she made a bargain with the devil?” Quite possibly but, if the tension and chemistry that sizzled between Rafe and Minerva was any indication, extracting payment was going to be a pleasure for them both.

Book 2 of the Spies and Lovers series begins with some excitement. I haven’t read the first book but it looks like I’m missing out on a terrific story if I don’t remedy that soon. Book 2 is a stand alone so it isn’t that I feel that I need to have read the first to better enjoy the second, it’s just that the second was so much fun why wouldn’t I want to go back for more?

Rafe and Minerva apparently butted heads in An Indecent Invitation. I guess readers who want to see “how they met” might want to read that one first but I was able to pick up enough details to understand that there was some built in tension. Plus, Minerva calls Rafe an arse more than once. Respectable ladies of the Ton aren’t supposed to speak that way so, it really made me laugh. I could tell Rafe made his suggestion on how the Bellingham siblings could work to repay their debt as much to help young Simon as it was to poke at Minerva.

Speaking of Simon, bless him, he really needed a firm hand and no matter how much his sister loved him and berated him at the same time, she wasn’t going to be able to fix him. I really had to admire Rafe for heart and determination to see the young Duke fulfill his potential. I can’t be sure but I think I met his future Duchess and she’s going to be fiesty!

Maxwell Drake also looks like a likely candidate for a future installment of Spies and Lovers. He has the background similar to both Gray (from Book 1) and Rafe. Plus, he has the dark and broody presence down to an art. Total hero material! I’m very curious about the letter Minerva received from him while traveling in Scotland. He may have his hands full!

This was a really enjoyable book a good introduction to the series even though it isn’t the first in the series. After meeting Lily and Gray, I can tell I need rectify having not read their book, yet. Readers who love a good spicy historical set in the Regency Era should most definitely give this one a try.

Finding Mr. Right Now by Meg Benjamin

25383176
Finding Mr. Right Now by Meg Benjamin
Salt Box Trilogy Book 2
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (277 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Reality can be hotter than fiction.

The Salt Box Trilogy, Book 1

Monica McKellar, associate producer of Finding Mr. Right, is desperate. One of the show’s bachelors has bailed one week before shooting starts. She not only needs a replacement ASAP, he has to get the temperamental bachelorette’s stamp of approval.

Fortunately there’s a hot guy right under her nose who’s a perfect fit. Unfortunately, he pushes all her hot buttons. Until the show’s over, her hands—and every other part of her body—are tied.

When Paul Dewitt signed on to write for the reality show, “Bachelor #10” wasn’t supposed to be in his job description. He fully expects to be cut early on, which will free him to focus on the real object of his attraction. Monica.

Instead, he’s a finalist, and they’re all packed in an SUV climbing the Continental Divide, headed for Salt Box, Colorado. Where stampeding horses, vindictive tabloid editors, and one capricious bachelorette’s waffling over suitors may conspire to end Paul and Monica’s romance before it even starts.

Warning: Contains hot sex on the sly, cold nights, creaking wicker couches, and a gypsy wagon that gives a whole new appreciation for the pioneers.

Do your job, don’t make the bachelorette cry and don’t accidentally steal one of the bachelors for yourself. Piece of cake!

As far as plots go, this one was fun and clever. Most everybody has seen the reality bachelor/bachelorette shows and knows how very little reality there truly is…in most cases. Finding Mr. Right Now keeps true to the stereotype but there was more. There was some real romance and characters that made me care about how the story would end.

One of the aspects of this book that really drew me was how realistic it felt. I could totally picture the behind the scenes production of a show like The Bachelor or The Bachelorette being very much like this. I found it interesting that the chosen Bachelorette for Mr. Right wasn’t a typical mean Hollywood Diva. Instead, Ronnie is the epitome of America’s Sweetheart when I met her. I wondered if that was the real her or if she was more of an actress than anyone knew. Only time would tell. Even if she’s not an actress, she’s definitely more observant than she’s given credit for. One of the elements I was looking for was to see how her story would turn out or if it would continue on in the next book.

The real heroine of this story is Monica, associate producer of the reality show. That is not a job for the faint-hearted. Essentially her job is to “deal with it”, whatever and whomever “it” was in any given issue. I liked her. She was, for lack of a better word, real in an industry that excels in proliferating make-believe. She’s also not nearly as jaded as she could be from working in Hollywood.

I liked Paul as well. He was only doing his job when he gets roped into being on the show as opposed to being behind the scenes pulling strings for the show as a writer. That’s a cutthroat industry so the way he gets forced into accepting the position of bachelor #10 was totally believable. The sparks flying between him and Monica were just as obvious. I wondered which direction the author would take it. If the bachelorette, Ronnie, would be a serious contender for his attention or if the focus would be on how he and Monica would develop a relationship around the show. Also, there’s that reporter, Cathe, they have a history and she seemed like trouble the first time I met her.

This trilogy is centered around the town of Salt Box, Colorado. It’s barely a speed bump in the road but the town has some interesting characters and also has an interesting affect on the tourist passing through. Nothing magical in the sense of paranormal. More like a chance to enjoy the slower pace, relax and consider life’s opportunities. Freedom, cleansing and the chances of new beginnings are the words that come to mind.

Altogether, this was a good read. I actually chose the second book in the series, Love in the Morning, to read/review but felt like I needed to see how closely the two were tied together so, I chose to read this one first. I’m glad I did.