The Right Fit by Daphne Dubois


The Right Fit by Daphne Dubois
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (247)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

When Maxine Nicholls discovers her fiancé is cheating, she turns to fast food and nighttime soap operas, but her sister has a plan—unbridled rebound sex with a stranger.

As one of Toronto’s hottest players, Antony Laurent tallies scores on and off the ice, but when the chiseled defense man hits a slump, rumors of a trade to the minor league send him to ambush a managers meeting at a posh club.

That night a chance encounter ends up as an unforgettable evening of passion. But Maxine and Antony are about to discover a game of casual hook ups can lead to something neither one of them thought they deserved—the right fit.

At the end of the book there is “a word about the author…”. I must quote it for you because I believe it would have been beneficial if I had read it in the beginning of the book. “Daphne Dubois writes steamy contemporary romance and loves putting her characters in awkward situations. She believes the right book at the right time can make all the difference.” I must say that the author was an over achiever. This book is anything but your average romance book. The characters, plot, and setting were all unique, contemporary, steamy and awkward, yet, heartwarming. It all makes for an entertaining read.

The heroine, Maxine, is relatable and I connected with her. However, I felt like she was an endorsement for plus size woman. It’s wonderful that our society is finally embracing body diversity and we’re seeing a greater acceptance of girls in different sizes. I applauded Sports Illustrated when they featured a plus size model on its cover. Name brands and magazines are finally paying attention and we’re seeing less body shaming in society. Therefore, I had trouble with Maxine constantly struggling with her self-image. I would have liked a stronger leading character. Yet, I understand the need for the focus to be on her weight concern because it was significant to the plot. There was a moral to this story; The Right Fit was more than just the size of the clothes.

Our significant others can be “The Right Fit” – which leads me to the hero, Antony Laurent. I don’t have any complaints about him. He was divine and I wish he was mine. Antony’s first language was French so he struggled to speak English; that was entertaining and romantic at the same time. I loved that Antony was a hockey player for the Toronto hockey team. I grew up around hockey and met my husband at a hockey game. I had no issue considering Antony to be my book boyfriend. He was drawn to Maxine and accepted her for who she was inside and out. She was very lucky to have that chance encounter with him. Together they were “The Right Fit” and full of chemistry.

There were other significant characters that were relevant to the plot such as Maxine’s twin sisters, Crosby and Rose. Maxine also had a brother named Westley. Westley had a best friend since elementary school named Stuart. The most special character that was heartwarming was Carmine. The character that caused conflict was Antony’s brother, Marc. Together they made for a memorable cast of characters.

My attention was caught starting with page one. The author’s writing style kept my attention all the way until the end as I continuously turned the pages at a steady, moderate pace. I enjoyed the quirky awkward moments since they made me snicker from the imagined embarrassment that I’d feel if I was in that situation. I can’t say the plot was predictable. There were plenty of emotional provoking threads that were unexpected.

Here is the point where I get perplexed about my review because near the end of the book I got perturbed. Without giving any spoilers there is an unexpected and unnecessary scene that as far as I’m concerned was pandering to make yet another social statement. Prior to this scene I was satisfied with how the story was progressing. The scene was not relevant or necessary to the romance between Maxine or Antony. The entire scene was rushed, illogical and superfluous. The scene could be cut out of the book and no one would miss it because it had no relevancy to the plot. I felt the author did the story a disservice by adding that m/m kiss – literally seconds before the monumental moment where the leading man and leading woman realize they are destined to live their happily ever after. I have no issues with gays, lesbians, transgender or whatever but I would have liked to have been warned that there was some m/m in this story. It’s not my style to read those kinds of books, even if it’s one scene. This scene happened with 10 pages of the story left! I didn’t see it coming. If I was in the audience I really don’t think I would have been cheering and applauding.

This was a worthy read despite the irrelevant scene. I was entertained and would recommend this book with a warning about the m/m scene.

Fortunately there was an epilogue which helped erase the shocking scene from my mind though not completely, hence the difficulty of writing this review. Luckily this story had many great scenes such as when Maxine, who is an esthetician, loved to name the colors of her nail polish. I thought that was clever and unique how the author connected the name of the polish to the current scene at hand. I wanted some of her nail polish that she described. I loved the humorous sexy banter between Maxine and Antony. I appreciated the dedication at the beginning of the book. It says “This book is dedicated to every woman who has ever gone bathing suit shopping—you’re beautiful and worthy. Own it.” This was definitely the moral of the story. A great message for all women.

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James


Wilde in Love by Eloisa James
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (412 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Lord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks. Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father’s castle, but just as he grasps that he’s not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.

Willa presents the façade of a serene young lady to the world. Her love of books and bawdy jokes is purely for the delight of her intimate friends. She wants nothing to do with a man whose private life is splashed over every newspaper.

Alaric has never met a woman he wanted for his own . . . until he meets Willa. He’s never lost a battle.

But a spirited woman like Willa isn’t going to make it easy. . .

What’s a famous man to do when he’s famous for things that never happened? For things that paint him as a public personality when he’s so much the reverse? Adding in the complications from a heroine who wants absolutely no part of a man so much in the public eye that he seems shameless creates quite the conundrum. Such is the contrary, fun and complicated romance between Alaric and Willa.

This novel is definitely character driven because it’s a push/pull between what the heroine expects a future husband should be and a hero who wants to be what she needs but is stymied by something that he truly can’t control. It’s like Lord Wilde is a rock star of the Regency period. Woman steal the bricks from his home, they want to tour where he supposedly trod as a child – they are obsessive and frenzied romantic fans of a man who is a larger than life hero. Because of all that unwanted attention Alaric has become a man wary of a woman’s intentions, until he meets the most unusual and fascinating Willa. I enjoyed when they met but I really liked how he slowly realized that she wasn’t a sycophant. In fact the heroine is the complete opposite and she kept him at arm’s length. Well, she tried to but eventually she spends enough time with the hero to see the man underneath the fame. The reason why she has that time to explore and delve into the man named Alaric is what endeared me to their romance – I was charmed, entertained and thoroughly invested in seeing them come together and fall in love.

The weird twist comes from the dynamics of both heroine and hero having alternate personalities. Ms. James found a unique technique to explore a romance between two people that seemed so different but are in truth very much alike. Sure, they fight it and that’s half the fun but how everything gets resolved is cheeky and adorable.

Just in case a reader thinks it’s all seduction, light hearted problems and fluffy prose, the author does include a villain to spice things up. It didn’t take me long to figure out that this person was not only going to be a problem, I even guessed quite correctly the method of diabolical intent and delivery. Even knowing that didn’t detract from my enjoyment because it’s always the presentation that can make or break a scene and I’m glad to report that Ms. James employed a clever and impressive solution.

As for secondary characters, there is quite a few that made an impact, not only in Alaric and Willa’s romance but as couples themselves. Parth and Roland stand out the clearest. Roland for his bad clothing taste, and Parth for his sour grapes personality towards the heroine’s cohort in crime made both of them kind of comical yet the author did hint at serious depths so there is definitely more to learn in future books. I am certainly looking forward to the discovery. But my absolute favorite characters were Sweetpea and Hannibal. What a fascinating pair and definitely assets to the heroine and hero.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t wax poetic about Alaric and Willa finally succumbing to that wonderful buildup of repressed passion they both inspired in each other. Those were well written, inventive, and quite enjoyable. Just make sure to have something cool to drink for a few of the scenes – they were a lot hotter than I expected causing me to blink a few times. Whoa.

All in all, Wilde in Love is a historical romance treat. The antics that surround the fandom of Lord Wilde, the adventurer, made me snort and snicker quite a few times. I think the final scene was done with flair, style and was greatly amusing. I believe that fans of Ms. James will be quite pleased in meeting Alaric and Willa. They were a fun couple and I’m glad I met them. I can’t wait to see whose story gets told next. I hope it’s as good as Wilde in Love.

At Last in Laguna by Claire Marti


At Last in Laguna by Claire Marti
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (160 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

Alyssa Morgan has secretly been in love with her older brother Nick’s best friend, Brandt Dempsey, since she was an awkward, lonely teenager. When she catches the bouquet at Nick’s wedding, she throws caution to the wind and propositions Brandt to a two-week fling. He’s tried to ignore how Alyssa has blossomed into a strong, talented, gorgeous woman because as his best friend’s baby sister, she’s off limits.

After they share a mind-blowing kiss, Brandt struggles to fight their undeniable chemistry. His tragic childhood scarred him, but he pushes it deep inside, only allowing the world to see a wealthy, carefree entrepreneur. Forced to work together on Brandt’s latest charitable venture, Brandt and Alyssa’s passion cannot be denied. Alyssa knows he’s the one. Can she convince him they belong together?

Readers are intrigued right from the very start of At Last in Laguna. We cannot help but wonder exactly what has gone on before…and where on earth could this relationship be going?

The mention about how to find a ‘happily ever after?’ seems insane: Alyssa and Brandt don’t seem to be heading to any such ending. They can barely be in the same room together.

Brandt…oh she is so bitter about Brandt!

This is a twist on love-at-first-sight: More like, love at first kiss. Or would it be second? And can it be love? There is rejection, unrequited emotion, the desperate empty feeling of non-passion; who cannot relate? We cannot guess where this fast-paced and emotional start will bring these two. At Last in Laguna is entirely unpredictable.

I didn’t care for the changes in point-of-view, not because they weren’t well-written, but because it left no air of mystery on either side. Seeing both sides did not add to the plot, although I can’t say (for sure) that it detracted, either.

The powerful physical scenes would be enough to drum up fans regardless of the rest of the storyline; yet this is also well done, with influential secondary characters and a meaningful backdrop. There are a number of ups and downs, revealing more and more about each of our main characters; Brandt and Alyssa.

Powerful characters and an unusual conundrum plus plenty of hot action make this a top choice read for any romance fan.

Dark Blood by Christine Feehan


Dark Blood by Christine Feehan
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (496 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Zev Hunter was an elite warrior, a dark-blood dealer of death to Lycans who preyed on mankind. But he begins to question his past when he awakens in the sacred cave of warriors—and is soothed back to consciousness by the sensuously familiar voice of the woman who has haunted his fantasies for centuries: Branislava, member of the Dragonseeker clan.

Now, with a blood-sworn vow of honor, mercy and endurance, and under the influence of a siren as bewitching as Branislava, Zev begins to wonder what his purpose is, what it means for the future of the Carpathians and what it is about his rebirth that he has to fear…

If fans enjoy reading about those sexy Carpathians then they’re in luck because there are a LOT of them between the pages of Dark Blood. The reason that they’re all there becomes apparent as the plot conflict unfolds. It’s ambitious, large and deadly.

This is a refreshing read. I don’t mean that it’s light and airy, far from it. The last few books of the series were heavy on the sex and light on plot. Not so in Dark Blood. The threat is large, ominous and dark. Fighting is to be expected in Ms. Feehan’s novels because those vampires are evil guys. However, the typical antagonists are missing in this book. Instead the terror and horror stem from mage issues and the Carpathians are in for the fight of their lives.

The fight scenes are numerous, graphic, intense and well written. The sense of foreboding oozes off the pages and readers know something eye-popping is going to happen. They will not be disappointed.

Speaking of the final ginormous plot confrontation – I was exhausted after reading it. The hits kept coming and coming and coming. Here’s the thing. With all the non-stop action and the pummeling and damage that was inflicted upon the hero, heroine and their allies, it got to the point where I thought, “Where is this stamina coming from? With so much blood loss, how are they able to fight in peak condition? Is this even realistic?” There is no doubt that this is a paranormal story and the laws of physics and reality are suspended, but a little balance would have been nice. Despite those pesky questions, the writing was really good. Ms. Feehan’s imagination is diabolical, inventive and diverse, and she kept the action riveting.

My absolute favorite part was the gathering in the meadow. That was where I smiled the most during the whole novel. I was sitting on the edge of my seat for the rest – the suspense was quite potent.

For readers who enjoy the steamy, physical and passionate side of things, the author provides plenty of opportunities to appreciate how explosive Zev and Branislava are together.

Dark Blood is a hefty novel of substance. I am very pleased that there was more plot development, intrigue, suspense and thrills than in her most recent stories. This novel was a lot of fun for me because I got to see the strengths of those Carpathian men and women in action. It was nice to be reminded that they are lethal, alpha and amazing. And, when a Carpathian male meets the other half of his soul, a reader is treated to a wonderful romance. I wouldn’t say this is a standalone read, mostly because so many previous heroes and heroines from earlier books step up to the plate to stand and fight alongside of Zev and Branislava. The impact of seeing them again is more powerful for readers who have ‘known’ them. A new reader would only see a list of names and would have no cause for connection. This is a book for the fans, and it’s great.

Assassin Next Door by Eve Langlais


Assassin Next Door by Eve Langlais
Bad Boy Inc., #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (328 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

A killer with a white picket fence.

Suburbia, a great place for a man with secrets to hide–while investing in some solid real estate. The biggest drawback?

Neighbors.

In this case, a neighbor with sexy curves and a bright smile. Good thing she’s not his type. Single moms with annoying exes are on the do-not-date list.

Stay away.

Calvin wants to; it’s just not happening. He can’t help but find himself drawn to the chaos next door. And when danger threatens his suburban lifestyle, this assassin doesn’t hesitate to act.

Killing people is easy. Domestication, on the other hand, terrifies him.

Talk about romancing the gray area where the good guys are bad guys being good by being bad. This is a very interesting concept that Ms. Langlais is exploring in this first novel of her new series and I had a ball reading it. Some authors have a challenging time world-building in the first book of a series while telling a romance story and introducing a bunch of characters that are important or will become important in future books all at the same time. Not so for Ms. Langlais. This was one of the smoothest reveal and entry into a series I’ve read in a while. It felt so natural.

It’s told in third person POV from both Lily’s and Calvin’s perspectives. The author efficiently used the right descriptions of emotions, action, and environments to engage a reader. I could understand Lily’s terror and feelings of being trapped. Calvin is a different story as he’s a man without much feeling, or, at least he wasn’t until he clapped eyes on Lily’s daughter, Zoe. I think her innocence, her instant trust, her smiling nature and bubbly personality simply bowled Calvin over. In a word, Zoe is adorable, and the hero found her impossible to resist. He tried being gruff, grouchy and tough and he said things that initially convinced Lily that was not a nice neighbor, but a reader sees it from his POV – it’s bluster and smoke. I enjoyed watching the hero’s initial discomfort morph into a protective zeal.

Lily’s external conflict comes in the form of her ex-husband, Brock. The conflict for Calvin is mostly internal until Lily’s conflict twists and turns to bisect the hero’s external conflict and they’re both drawn into a situation that is bigger than either of them realize, until it was almost too late. There’s where the suspense and mystery come in to play. The action stems from all the daring-do that Calvin’s role demands of him. At first his involvement is duty, and then it becomes personal. That gradual switch made for some very intense reading.

My frown comes from the heroine doing something stupid, twice. Yes, the author made her own up to it because being in Lily’s head, so to speak, I could understand her choices. They were rash and necessary to stirring the plot pot but still stupid. My very big grin came from the author throwing in little digs and references to another series the author is famous for. I admit to giggling out loud in a very unladylike fashion because I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about.

The interesting thing about Calvin is his line of work – his view on what he does for a living, how he does it and why. It’s the how that is freaky. The author almost makes it causal, la-ti-da and normal when it’s anything but. After what Lily has gone through, her character is ripe for accepting a man like Calvin. The author alludes to it enough times to make that clear.

When Lily and Calvin get more than ‘neighborly’, it’s detailed, hot and sexy. There is no doubt that they are physically compatible.

The final conflict is a doozy. It has drama, suspense, action and the body count keeps going up. With the satisfactory resolving of the immediate mystery in Assassin Next Door Ms. Langlais left one little plot thread dangling which I believe is, or will be, the background story arc. One thing is for sure, the author has effectively garnered my commitment to reading the next book in the series. This is getting good.

Assassin Next Door is full of exciting chills and thrills, grins and gasps and is a delight through and through. This romantic suspense book is an easy recommend because it kept me guessing, entertained and engaged. I enjoyed watching Lily and Calvin come together as an unconventional couple and how the author handled having a young child in the mix. It’s a well written adventure and I can’t wait to visit the folks at Bad Boy Inc. to see what they get up to next.

The Doctor Is In by Carl Weber and Brenda Hampton


The Doctor Is In by Carl Weber and Brenda Hampton
Publisher: Urban Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (209 pgs)
Heat level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Dr. Kasen Phillips has the magic touch when it comes to helping his patients who are in dire need of counseling services, but when the love of his life winds up missing in action, Kasen s life takes a horrific turn for the worse. His office manager, Voncile Harper, is there to lend a helping hand. She s on a mission to shake Kasen from his misery, by offering him hersweet heatthat he can t resist. It s not long before Kasen finds himself caught up in a web of Voncile s lies, and when he realizes that he may have bitten off more than he can chew, he wants out of their reckless relationship for good. Unfortunately for Kasen, walking away may be difficult to do. Voncile is deep in love, and any man who refuses to play by her rules may be forced to suffer dire consequences.

What do you get when you mix a resentful best friend and an infatuated office manager? Murder, kidnapping and loss of sleep from staying up at night trying to read to see what happens next.

Have you ever met a person and you can tell some things not right about that person real quick? Well that’s the feeling I got when Voncile Harper was introduced in this story. That little voice says she is up to something and it’s not going to be good. Vonvile is Dr. Kasen Phillips’ office manager of two years. Voncile has harbored feelings of lust for Kasen and silently waited to make her interest known. One afternoon after seeing a patient, Kasen has an epiphany and decides to propose to his live-in girlfriend of three years, Raine. Voncile isn’t the only one that’s not happy about Kasen’s proposal.

After his proposal to Raine doesn’t go as he had planned, Kasen arrives home to an empty house. Raine’s belongings are gone and so is Raine. I know we try to give people the benefit of the doubt but Kasen was slow and naive to the people around him because the signs are there that they definitely didn’t have his best interest at heart. For all Kasen knows Raine has ran off with another man and then shortly after Omar stops answering his calls. Kasen isn’t sure what is going on but he has Vonvile to keep him distracted. If only Kasen could have heard me while I was talking to the book telling him no don’t do that.

I highly enjoyed this book. It wasn’t predictable and with the twist it kept the storyline moving in a fast pace. The anticipation was high as I was concerned how will Raine ever get out of her situation. Will Kasen find out how Omar really feels about him? The authors didn’t spend a lot of time with character details but with a novel written with such an active plot I wasn’t left feeling like something was missing.

I am a fan of Carl Weber and familiar with his work. This is the first book I’ve read by Brenda Hampton and I must say I want to read more by this author. This book had my full attention. Suspense, murder, crazy people and a man fighting for the woman that he loves that surely is a book that I’d want to read.

After Burn: Big Sky Mail Order Brides by Elsa Jade


After Burn: Big Sky Mail Order Brides by Elsa Jade
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (144 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

When Vaughn Quaye’s older sister goes missing in Big Sky Country, she’s willing to risk everything to hunt down the only man who seems to know anything about the mysterious mail order bride agency that closed under suspicious circumstances. Except Vaughn is risking more than her life—she’s discovering a universe of danger and desire she never knew existed.

Dejo Jinn, sole proprietor of Jinn Data Recovery, just wants to steal—no, sorry, not steal, recover—the data left behind at the abandoned Intergalactic Dating Agency when it was forced to close after mistakenly losing some brides. He has no interest in revealing his extraterrestrialness to a clueless if distractingly curvy Earther, but after they are attacked and she sees his green blood, his secret is outed.

Now reluctant partners, he’ll have the chance to steal—sorry, recover—the valuable data and she’ll get her sister back. Assuming they don’t end up dead.

Or worse yet, end up dating.

The Intergalactic Dating Agency might be closed here in Big Sky Country, but some hearts are still dreaming of the stars.

I really like the name Dejo Jinn; it sounds exotic and mysterious. It’s apt since the hero is a species of alien that I’ve never seen in books before. The whole concept of how his kind is born and their growing stages was truly imaginative and fascinating. Dejo is also a character easy to sympathize with the more I got to know him. His life is what he made of it and that’s a character strength that the heroine, Vaughn, will eventually come to not only appreciate but love.

What surprised me is that even though we were on Earth, which aliens call ‘Dirt’ and made me snort every time, things that are familiar were not all as they seem. The author surprised me with a curve ball. What should have been ordinary was anything but. I liked that twist because that led to some serious drama and suspense that had the capacity to destroy Dejo and Vaughn’s future forever.

Even though the main characters were different species, that didn’t stop sexy shenanigans from steaming up the pages and giving readers proof that Dejo and Vaughn are more than sexually compatible. What I found very telling was what the computer said. Something tells me that they won’t be 100% alien to each other by the time they finish falling in love. I wonder if anyone else will catch that.

Vaughn’s involvement in this story is personal and I could feel her determination and desperation to find her missing sister. She has a strong personality which meshed nicely with Dejo’s.

Language and alien terminology weren’t totally awkward in this story. I think the author did a nice job of inserting odd terms so smoothly that I didn’t get stuck or distracted by them. Many times they were perfect for the scene. There were a few instances that made me pause but on the whole, it worked.

The dramatic conclusion was more than satisfying and I liked the future that seems to be opening for Vaughn and Dejo. Based on what I know now about the hero, if anyone can make things work to their advantage, it’ll be Dejo Jinn. Vaughn couldn’t be in better hands.

After Burn is a wonderful romance story with an exciting exotic touch. I’m glad I read it and enjoyed myself immensely. I wonder; will the kidnapped brides be found in the next book? I can’t wait to find out!

Temptation Trials by B. Truly

Temptation Trials (Part 1) by B. Truly
Publisher: Self
Genre: Sci-Fi (dystopian/futuristic)
Length: Full (261 pgs)
Heat: Hot
Rated: 3.5 stars
Review by Poppy

Will You Be Tempted? Will Love Save Your Soul?

One nation under his reign.

Cardinal sins of man caused humanity to pay the price. Cali Nasser grew up in a world succeeding World War III. The aftermath forced the world dictatorship that she must now live in. A new Regime arose from the ashes. They demanded obedience and cooperation from every citizen, even in matters of the heart.

One domain … One accord … One nation. That is the moral code. In Cali’s eyes, it all revolves around a twisted plot for control.

It used to sicken Cali how people would allow the Regime to test their love through the Temptation Trials. That is, until she met Kincade. Cali’s entire point of view changes when she falls for him. She struggles with herself, debating if she should challenge the government’s law of arranged marriage.

Cali’s childhood friend, Stefani, always kept a positive perspective about their lives until she was threatened with the same dilemma, at odds over the man she loves.

Now Cali and Stefani face a desperate choice—submit to the Regime’s will, or fight for what they value most—love. Although lust, mistaken for love, could lead to damnation. Do they give up on love or sign up for the Temptation Trials, a reality TV show where every temptation is laid before them?

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Can love save their souls?

An interesting premise … sort of “The Bachelor” meets “Temptation Island” with a touch of the Hunger Games.

Set in our future, post-WWIII, there is a all-powerful leader who’s set down a number of rules in order to maintain order and control. One of these rules involves who you can marry. No one gets to marry for love anymore, but all marriages are assigned based on assumed compatibility. However, if you think you’re in love with someone, you can marry them if you make it through the Temptation Trials.

Cleanly written, the story certainly has an interesting premise. I liked our heroines (and heroes, though we don’t see them as much once the trials start — the story is told through alternating POV of two heroines) and admired their determination to do what they thought was right. But weeks in the company of other men, being forced into dating several of them and then having to choose one to spend the last part of the trials with … it’s more than most people would be able to resist. Our ladies are no exception.

I did find the story a little sparsely written … the author seemed to be in a bit of a hurry to get from place to place, and some description was lacking. Also, though there weren’t overt grammar errors or typos, there’s more to good editing than that. The story had a bit too much “telling” instead of “showing” and I don’t think a character ever “said” anything. It was blurted, screamed, announced, shouted, pointed out, etc. I have to admit it drove me a little nuts, but it may not be the same for you.

That said, though, I definitely got caught up in the characters. There are quite a few to keep track of, but their names and personalities are unique enough it’s not too hard. There is lots of sex talk and plenty of sexual action (not all intercourse) but this isn’t surprising. The idea of the trials is to show people that love isn’t true and they should fall in with the ruler’s decisions.

There is some mystery involved as well, and the story ends in a cliffhanger, so be warned. However, if you’re looking for a smoking hot, futuristic story to sink your teeth into, this one is a decent choice for you. I’d read the second one, if only to find out who ends up with who!

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Rescued By the Captain by Laura A. Barnes


Rescued By the Captain by Laura A. Barnes
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (300 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Abandoned at sea.

When Ivy Mallory awakens; she finds herself on the ship of the man who rejected her love years earlier. While he was away working for the Crown, she embraced the London Seasons trying to forget him. Caught in the middle of a treason plot; she must help save her brother. To do so she needs to put her trust in the one man who can protect her. But can she protect her heart from loving him again?

Found at sea.

Captain Marcus Thornhill never imagined he would find a lady floating unconscious in a lifeboat out in the middle of the open sea. But it wasn’t any lady, it was Ivy. Seven years earlier he rejected her love for a life at sea. As he rescues her he gets involved in a treason plot that will bring the war to their beloved shores of England. As he unravels the plot he is unable to deny his desire for her. Is he too late in saving her and the love he has for her?

This story starts with a storm and I was quickly caught in it. Thorn, the hero, was strong, brave and sexy. Ivy was strong-willed, endearing and beautiful. Together they made the pages steamy. There was nothing about them that was unappealing.

I find it hard to believe that this is Laura A. Barnes’ first novel. Her writing style needs to be recognized. I’m not a writer so perhaps what I was drawn to was a certain, well-used technique so forgive me if it is and my ignorance, however, I’ve never read a book that was written like this. The hero would have an internal dialogue while looking into the heroine eyes and based on her mannerisms, could guess or wonder what she was thinking or feeling. It left me wondering if his assumptions were correct. Immediately the author would continue with the heroine answering his unasked questions. It gave me the feeling that the hero and heroine were so connected mind, body and soul; it was as if they could almost read each other’s minds. Another aspect I enjoyed was the incorporation of a significant poem into the love story that uses their names in a clever pun, and I can’t forget to mention the name of his ship. I applaud this book’s writing style!

The plot was masterly planned and executed with a steady and smooth pace. It was impossible to put the book down because the treason and romance plot kept evolving on each page.

While Thorn and Ivy achieved their happily ever after, I was left wondering if there will be a book two with Charles, Ivy’s brother, and Raina LeClair, a lady who had a part in the unsolved treason plot. There needs to be a book two for Charles to complete his mission! I have a couple of other questions but without spoiling Rescued By the Captain, all I can say is that there needs to be a book two so that readers can be at peace regarding Ivy’s safety. If there isn’t going to be a book two, I’ll be crushed! I need total closure!

Other than a serious craving for more, this was an excellent romance story that was very entertaining. The characters are well developed and I feel like I inherited another “book family”. I’ll be thinking about Ivy and Thorn and wishing them the best in their future!

If We Had No Winter by D.L. Pitchford


If We Had No Winter by D.L. Pitchford
Publisher: Straight on till Morningside Prints
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full Length (245 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Can a father who turned his back on a child want her when she’s an adult?
College freshman Billie Dixon has always found solace in calculations and her secret drawings, hiding from the more difficult parts of life—her mother’s alcoholism, her inability to connect, and of course, her estranged father. That is, until she arrives at Bradford College in Vermont, where the Math Department Head is her father.

After a semester of avoiding him, her father insists she join him for the winter holidays to rekindle their relationship, and Billie is at a loss. While she tries to uphold the status quo, her father refuses to be pushed to the sidelines and forgotten. Just as she realizes she doesn’t want to lose him, her meek and shy father kicks her out of his home during an argument. Can Billie swallow her pride and make amends with her father or will she lose him forever?

If We Had No Winter is a gritty coming-of-age tale about loss, love, and learning to try again.

College is a time of exploration and learning about one’s self and the world; Billie Dixon is about to meet these challenges head on.

Billie struggles with her shattered family life and with her first year college classes at Bradford College, where her estranged father is the head of the Math Department-which happens to be the major that Billie is interested in. The good news is that Jimmy, Billie’s best friend from school, is in the dorm room across the hall from her. Unfortunately, the bad news is that Billie can’t stand his roommate Xander. Billie is focused on academics and lets out her frustration in the form of artwork, but this becomes problematic when a student Billie begins to tutor has a romantic interest in her. Still, there is the issue of her difficult relationship with her father.

If We Had No Winter is a strong story that looks at the home we leave when we go to college, the life we want to make, and then what happens when everything comes crashing down. Billie is a relatable character that has her own passions, concerns, challenges to social acceptance and from time to time, even severe difficulty connecting socially with those around her. The first person perspective is fantastic to give the reader a glimpse inside the head of a girl that on the outside has everything figured out-but on the inside is struggling to keep it together.

The character dialogue flows smoothly and Billie’s social awkwardness is understandable. The actions from main characters to supporting characters is relatable for the reader and the plot is deep. The focus does not always rest on relationships or family ties, but the author blends everything together to make it “real life” and believable.

Near the end of the story, a dramatic turn occurs which is completely unexpected. This turn ties everything together and we see a side of Billie that is both unexpected and deeply real. The reader is then tasked with wondering “what would I have done?” as Billie’s actions play out.

Be sure not to miss If We Had No Winter-this deep story will be sure to make a personal connection that you will not easily forget!