First Comes Desire by Tina Donahue


First Comes Desire by Tina Donahue
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (173 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Play, Forced Seduction,
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

On a lush, secluded island, one passionate adventure leads to another….
Diana Fletcher means business. The beautiful, innocent, reverend’s daughter has traveled all the way to a tropical island off Madagascar on a mission: To find her brother—and to punish the man who drove him to a life of piracy. But when she comes face to face with the enemy in question, the handsome, powerfully seductive man is not at all what Diana expected…

Tristan Kent never intended to harm Diana’s brother. A man of humble origins, Tristan claims he tried to save him from another ruthless captain. Diana is desperate to believe he is telling the truth…and that the intoxicating desire that escalates between them is true as well. But can she trust him? Or is Tristan’s story—and his heart—nothing more than fool’s gold? Amid the haze of sensual delights and soaring ecstasy Tristan has in store for her, all will be revealed…

Pirates, plantations, exotic locales, seduction and sensual delights are all in store for a reader in Ms. Donahue’s latest historical, First Comes Desire.

The premise of a sister looking for her brother and willing to do what needs to be done at all costs is a noble introduction to the conflict. Diana’s surprise comes from underestimating a pirate, especially if he’s highly intelligent, cunning, canny and astonishingly handsome. Tristan is all that plus more. The fact that he disconcerts, flusters and unnerves her makes Diana all the more determined to see Tristan hang for abducting her little brother. The fun comes from the hero’s point of view. Diana has no idea what plans he has for her and the lengths he’ll go to seduce her but, as a reader is seeing into both their heads, the outcome is quite apparent. The heroine is about to be delightfully and thoroughly compromised in a way only a pirate can get away with.

Erotic romance readers will find the usual array of sensual attacks on Diana’s senses effective, titillating and well written. There is some light bondage but I don’t classify it as BDSM, it’s just Tristan being a pirate and subduing the heroine’s feisty, contrary behavior. He utilizes every part of Diana’s body in an erotic attack that leaves the heroine breathless and awakened and aware of her body as never before. Readers know once that happens, once passion is unleashed, there’s no going back. Get ready to be satisfied.

Now comes the tough part, explaining the difference between me, a long time romance reader, and a newbie just dipping their toes into erotic romance. For new readers, this book should be a solid winner because it covers a favorite topic – pirates. It allows a woman to feel okay with a dominate man who does forceful and decadent things to get his way just because he is a pirate. The Dom/Sub aspect is definitely there even though this isn’t that kind of subgenre; it’s just Tristan’s nature to want to subdue a worthy opponent but wanting something far more, her trust and willingness to concede. There is an exciting conflict and a suspenseful, action filled conclusion that had a surprising resolution for some of the combatants. All of that works. However, from my perspective, I was disappointed because I recognized every pirate trope I’ve ever read crammed into this novel. I knew what was going to happen and who was going to cause trouble and how it was going to play out and a general idea as to who would get their comeuppance and even how it would happen just because of how those characters were written. In that, the book was predictable, formulaic and a trial to get through and I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, this novel is very well written and put together, and the erotic scenes definitely worked, but I’m too jaded by years of reading to be surprised at any of the plot/conflict points explored here because I had the feeling of been there/read that, and bought the book one too many times to get amazed by the turn of events. So please take this paragraph as an endorsement for fresh new eyes to the romance genre because I think they’ll enjoy First Comes Desire tremendously. For readers like me, unless you have a craving for manly pirates, and are in the mood for a predictable format, this might be a nice bit of sexy escapism to pass the time with but doesn’t come with any intriguing twists, shocks or unusual kinks.

All that being said, the author took some time to write a lengthy, meaty plot to couch the sex within and I found that to be a strong plus for this novel. I also appreciated how Diana had to come to grips with all the changes in her little brother, who wasn’t little any longer. I liked the solid friendship between Tristan and his friend, James. I also think that the author did an excellent job of depicted the pirates as nasty villains and effective stirrers of the plot conflict. Ms. Donahue convinced me that they were decidedly distasteful beings.

On the whole, First Comes Desire has a lot to offer readers who adore saucy, virile pirate heroes who lust after women who eventually bring out the noble men inside of them, much to their astonishment and consternation. Diana smooths Tristan’s rough edges as much as he unleashes the sensual, wild and passionate woman inside of her. The two of them are good together and the novel does conclude with a satisfying happy-ever-after that ties into the book’s title quite cleverly. I suspect a lot of readers are going to really enjoy this story and be happy they read it.

26 Hours in Paris by Demi Alex

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26 Hours in Paris by Demi Alex
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (219 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Spanking
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

One day to see the sights.
One night to change your life…

Magazine writer Kathryn Taylor is traveling from New York to Paris for work. But the flirtatious Frenchman she left long ago is waiting at the airport–and he wants to play…

No one can guide Kat through the sensual city’s delights like Marko Renard. He let her get away once, and now he’s determined to make her stay–even if he has to tie her down. He will wrap her in cashmere, tease her tongue with chocolate, and take her to the peak of the Eiffel Tower…But can he convince the bohemian beauty she belongs with him, in his luxuriously decadent world? In business, he’s the master–but it’s Kat’s body and soul he truly longs to rule. He has just enough time to show her the pleasures of the boulevards, the boulangeries–and the bedroom. To finally get her to just say oui, he’ll have to seize the day–and the night…

26 Hours in Paris is the perfect mix of erotic romance with a traditional story of falling in love. My appreciation is deepened because Ms. Alex imbues her characters with a shared history, of love thwarted by assumptions and an opportunity for second chances. All three aspects combined to give readers a full-bodied, engaging yet stimulating read that singes the sheets while warming the heart.

Readers are left in no doubt early on that Kathryn absolutely loves Marko and later on will come to understand that Marko loves her as well. The crimp in the relationship comes from life – a tragedy. Their relationship had potential but took a direct hit when something happened to the heroine’s family and it fell apart. The good news is that Katheryn still considers the hero a friend. The bad news is, so much time and distance as come between them, she’s under the illusion that things could never be, that their love wasn’t still a living breathing thing, and a least three other reasons she’s come up with to convince herself that it simply is not meant to be. It’s a good thing for her and for readers that Marko not only isn’t on the same page, but as a Dom, won’t let her hide and run any longer. Marko has a plan.

I liked the dynamic of their relationship and the fact that all Kathryn’s friends, save Charlie, conspired against her. They knew something she didn’t, and because they know her so well, knew they had to come up with a story that made sense. She fell for it hook, line and sinker, which of course is a forgone conclusion. What I didn’t expect was the connection with the plane’s passenger, nor the chauffer, nor all that could happen in 26 hours.

The BDSM aspect was on the light side in that it was 95% percent focused on Marko and Kathryn. The author told the story from both their POV so I knew that the heroine was totally on board with Marko’s dominant ways, and I knew what motivated the hero and what his end game was so it was totally believable that it all factored in with their romance. Marko’s ‘lessons’ taught the heroine some important truths about herself and in doing so, made the hero’s wishes become a reality. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. The author threw in some significant conflicts to really show readers just how perfect the protagonists are together, and just how far Kathryn succeeded in achieving personal growth. The other 5% dabbled in a brief taste of exhibitionism and club life, with some telling to augment the showing. For readers who aren’t big on the BDSM scene, I think Ms. Alex’s handling of it was perfectly balanced and it did contribute to their learning about each other, learning to trust, and succeeded in propelling their romance forward. Still, the writing is still done well enough to make a person blush.

This is definitely a character driven romance supported by a varied cast of secondary characters that truly enhanced the story. I thought the heroine’s meeting with his relatives to be anti-climactic. I was waiting for some powerful dialogue or heightened drama to be revealed in detail but the author chose instead to focus on Marko and Kathryn and used his family as a delightful backdrop. Readers will have no reason to doubt Marko’s love for his family; it’s there for all to see, including Kathryn. I just expected more oomph or emotion or depth when they finally meet. As it was, it was … nice. Even under the circumstances, it was nice.

26 Hours in Paris is the perfect novel for readers who prefer an actual story to couch the erotic content. Ms. Alex has always had the ability to make the southern reaches steam while melting the northern and this book carries on that tradition. This is a delightful romance with two engaging characters. Kathryn might take a bit to get past her personal walls but when she does, the romance quickly comes to full blossom and the happy ever after satisfies. This story is really good for an afternoon escape. I recommend it.

Ghostly Liaison by Stacy McKitrick

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Ghostly Liaison by Stacy McKitrick
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (285 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Avoiding love is hard. Catching a killer can be fatal. . .

When Rob’s sister passed away, she left him her dog and her house. He can handle the dog part, but he doesn’t need another home. Especially a fixer-upper the neighbor swears is haunted. Then he meets Bridget, who’s working on getting her life back together after a car accident left her scarred in more ways than one. She can’t pass up Rob’s offer of free lodging, regardless of the shape it’s in. Or the roommate that’s part of the package. She’s never believed in ghosts, but now she’s living with one who wants Bridget’s help in catching a killer. There’s only one problem: the killer has unfinished business. . .

Romance and mystery, justice and happy endings, suspense and surprises, all are components that make Ghostly Liaison great entertainment and a book worth recommending.

This is a ghost story with heart. It’s about a brother’s love for his sister, a woman trying to come to terms with why she’s even alive and her place in life, her relationship with her parents and the love of a dog that is truly unconditional. There is so much beauty and feeling woven into all the characters it seemed jarring to find a killer stalking some of the characters.

I liked Rob and Bridget. I enjoyed how the author told the story from both their perspectives but in such a way I didn’t feel like it was head hopping. It’s mostly told from the heroine’s point of view because most of the action revolved around her. She had to reconcile the fact that she could see ghosts, that she was falling in love, and she somehow had to eventually accept that she deserved love. I also appreciated how Ms. McKitrick wrote Rob. He’s acted like a real man would. I could relate to him because he wasn’t some alpha macho over the top hero with crazy skills. He was a man who took chances on love, was loyal, earnest and believed the best in people. Rob was also a person who felt emotions deeply and sometimes, he let them rip. His doing so made me respect his character all the more. He was approachable and eventually, believed in Bridget, all of her. There’s nothing more romantic than a man who loves a woman for who she is, not what she believes others expect her to be.

For most of the book, the external and internal conflicts work. The only thing that grew to be a tad repetitive was Bridget’s insistence that Rob would be better off without her; that her scars were insurmountable obstacles to any kind of relationship, with anyone, and she didn’t deserve the attention of the hero. As a conflict, based on her background, it works to a major degree but there is such a thing as overkill and I think for some readers it might have reached that; for others it might teeter on the line of their tolerance level. Rest assured she gets beyond it, but it takes some serious drama and suspense from the villain to catapult her to clearly seeing what is truly important in life. It becomes crystal.

Barnaby is a wonderful touch for a supporting character and I really believe his role was pivotal in this novel. I liked Kate and the cute interaction between the next door neighbors. There were so many elements that gave this story a depth of emotion that it engaged me all the way through.

Ghostly Liaison is a wonderful blend of romance and crime-solving mystery that’s easy to recommend to readers. I really enjoyed myself even when I almost came off my chair at the part with the reptile. Yeah, that was writing at its best.

Unwanted Girl by MK Schiller

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Unwanted Girl by MK Schiller
Publisher: Lyrical/Kensington
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (316 pgs)
Heat level: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Rose

When a man loves a woman

Recovering addict Nick Dorsey finds solace in his regimented life. That is until he meets Shyla Metha. Something about the shy Indian beauty who delivers take-out to his Greenwich Village loft inspires the reclusive writer. And when Shyla reveals her desire to write a book of her own, he agrees to help her. The tale of a young Indian girl growing up against a landscape of brutal choices isn’t Nick’s usual territory, but something about the story, and the beautiful storyteller, draws him in deep.

Shyla is drawn to Nick, but she never imagines falling for him. Like Nick, Shyla hails from a village, too…a rural village in India. They have nothing in common, yet he makes her feel alive for the first time in her life. She is not ready for their journey to end, but the plans she’s made cannot be broken…not even by him. Can they find a way to rewrite the next chapter?

This book drew me in to the point where I read it in one sitting. In a way, you get double the content for your money, because there is a story within the story. First, you have the love story between Nick and Shyla—from their first tentative outreaches of friendship to a deeply passionate love. Second, you have the story they write together – the story of the Indian woman Asha and the horrors she went through.

There are obstacles for Nick and Shyla to overcome on their journey, not the least of which are the differences in their background, the secrets they both hide, and the fact that they know their time together is limited due to the time on Shyla’s student visa soon running out.

Ms. Schiller does an excellent job with the characters—though they both have flaws, they are very likable. She also does a great job with the two different “voices”—the elements of the Nick’s stories that are shared are so different from Shyla’s story that are shared about Asha. Good job there!

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I will certainly be looking for more of this author’s work.

Share the Moon by Sharon Struth

MOON
Share the Moon by Sharon Struth
Blue Moon Lake Novels, Book one
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (188 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Hawthorn

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Sometimes trust is the toughest lesson to learn.
​​​
Sophie Shaw is days away from signing a contract that will fulfill her dream of owning a vineyard. For her, it’s a chance to restart her life and put past tragedies to rest. But Duncan Jamieson’s counter offer blows hers out ot sea.

Duncan still finds Sophie as appealing as he had during boyhood vacations to the lake. Older and wiser now, he has his own reasons for wanting the land. His offer, however, hinges on a zoning change approval.

Bribery rumors threaten the deal and make Sophie wary of Duncan, yet she cannot deny his appeal. When her journalistic research uncovers a Jamieson family secret, trust becomes the hardest lesson for them both.

Share The Moon shows that people can find true love when they least expect it. In Duncan Jamieson’s and Sophie Shaw’s case, loving and trusting each other seems dangerous because they started out as competitors for the same plot of land. Neither can be sure the other’s feelings are genuine and not a ploy to get them to lower their defenses and let go of their plans with the land. But the current situation is not the only thing that’s making them cautious and distrustful.

Both Duncan and Sophie have a painful past filled with loss and mistakes. Sophie’s struggle with the loss of her teenage son was written beautifully. Her pain, regret and guilt were visible in her every act, but the author didn’t let the character get lost in the overwhelming grief, instead she’d given her coping mechanisms that helped her come back to life, step by little step. Similarly, Duncan’s less than model family life still haunts him years after his wife’s death. He is doing his best to become a better person, and as a reader I appreciated that the transformation didn’t go smoothly and that he was struggling with the changes instead. It made him feel a real person, and that in turn made it easy for me to feel with him as he progressed from a workaholic into a devoted father and partner.

Although the plot stalled a bit towards the middle, the hurdles in Sophie’s and Duncan’s way made the story interesting, keeping me guessing about what was next for them. Jamieson’s family secret tied in nicely to the development of their relationship and didn’t feel like a separate subplot at all but like something that affected them both deeply.

I liked the portrayal of Trent and would love to read more about him. He seemed a conflicted man, his attitude a direct result of all the hurt from his childhood. But he also seemed like someone who would be fun to get to know better. I loved his layered characterization. Same goes for Sophie’s friends, Jay and Sophie’s father – all compelling characters that added a lot to the story and shed new light on the main characters and their deepest feelings.

Although a bit predictable, the story unfolded to a satisfying finish for Duncan and Sophie. After going over many an obstacle, they learn to trust each other, which enables them to truly embrace the feelings they have for each other. Trust doesn’t come easy, but once earned, it can be a firm basis for true love. Share the Moon is a romance in which the characters must first learn to love themselves in order to be able to love each other. It’s more than just about falling in love; it’s about overcoming grief and disappointment and growing into people worth loving.

The Gypsy Ribbon by Shannon MacLeod

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The Gypsy Ribbon by Shannon MacLeod
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (356 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Daisy

Internationally known wild child James Kelly is a filthy rich rock star, devilishly handsome, with silicone beauties aplenty to grace both his arm and his bed. He has it all. Or does he? What he wants most is a real woman to tell him no once in a while…and thanks to his inherited precognition, he knows her when he meets her. But the vision of his future is shrouded in darkness and shadows.

Tarot reader Lisbeth Vargo works at the local renaissance faire. She’s still stinging from her last bad relationship when her best friend marries James Kelley’s brother. After being paired up in the wedding party, sparks fly between Lisbeth and James. Even her tarot cards tell her he’s the one, but is the interest of a “bad boy” something she can take seriously?

Sometimes falling in love takes a leap of faith. Occasionally it needs a push off the cliff. James is more than happy to give Lisbeth that needed shove, but will his love save her…or get her killed?

Admit it, most of us think the Irish accent is sexy as a well done salsa dance; that’s why I picked this book up. This beautiful premise is only added to by James/Seamus being a rock star to boot. But I kept reading because the writing is well edited and well written. Not to mention, the plot doesn’t do the irritating, “Do I like him, no, I don’t, but I do, but I just can’t bring myself to see him” dance. That stuff got old twenty books ago. For once, the main characters definitely love each other and even say so well before halfway through the book. Here, the conflict is one external to the relationship.

James is a rock star and all high grossing rock stars have a manager. James’ manager isn’t the nice kind. He provides the book’s tension by the distance he enforces between the two love-birds via touring time. I felt a lot of the band details on stage and back were well researched and appeared to be realistic. The only major issue I had was the petulance and childishness of the manager on occasion. He seemed a touch too childlike in his arguments and resistance to change. I felt the plot could have just as easily gone forward with him being more realistically businesslike and strong in his refusal to help the band through those traits rather than sheer contrariness. I think this would have worked better towards the conclusion where he is appraised as a generally good, if greedy, guy.

Now on to the good bits: James’ and Beth’s sex life. For the romantic, the draw could be that Beth starts out as a virgin and, presumably, her first and last will be James. He, of course, has had more experience, as a rock star would. However, I would also say this novel is one for the romance enthusiast because the sex is more making love than just sex. There are long embraces, loving foreplay, and there is a build up to the stage of having sex, for obvious reasons. Beth is not a woman to fall straight into and out of bed with a man, and just as well.

I felt the best part of their relationship was James’ commitment to Beth. He sends her trinkets and letters in an updated take on love letters and really ingratiates himself to the reader, and Beth. He does what many men may not be bothered to do in a long distance relationship and takes “putting in the effort” to another level.

There is also a soft magical element to this book that readers should be aware of. Tarot cards have a strong predictive influence over events and James’ family all have different psychic gifts that they were born with. I find this fantasy element syncs well with the plot and offers nice (and not too obvious) hints and foresight to the reader.

The conclusion to The Gypsy Ribbon is a shock to begin with but smoothes out to a happy ending, so don’t be too disheartened. What I take from this book is love and an enduring memory of that happy, tingly, overflow of emotion that surrounds the perfect honeymoon period of relationships and spreads smiles across a room. With Shannon MacLeod writing books at this standard, I’m going to go have a look and see if James’ Irish brothers have been written about, too!

The Dragon’s Heart by Eden Ashe

DRAGON
The Dragon’s Heart by Eden Ashe
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (229 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Verbena

The dragon-shifter king will do anything to keep his mate alive…even if it means war.

“We’re dragons. We don’t do the mushy friend thing.” – Daniel

Dragon Lore, #1

After millennia as king of the dragon-shifters, Daniel Ashborne wants a little peace and quiet, especially from the beautiful Hollywood starlet who haunts his memories. His escape tactics end abruptly when he is called to the ER to save the one woman he wants to forget, but who now bears his mark.

Shelby Kincade’s life and movie career were nearly destroyed when Daniel vanished a year ago. Now he’s back, claiming they have been accidentally mated. Getting over him once was hard enough, but she must choose either the life of her dreams or the man she can’t live without.

With peace finally on the horizon between the dragon-shifters and the Hunters, an assassination attempt on the dragon king and his mate shatters everything. Tensions rebuild as Daniel and his loyal team of shifters try to discover who put out the hit. Enemy and ally lines are crossed, but in the end–after the battle ash has settled–no one could have foreseen who has plotted for their own gain.

They say you fight fire with fire, but sometimes it takes a gentle hand to tame a raging inferno. Shelby Kincaide might just be the tender heart Daniel Ashborne needs to cool the fury consuming his soul. That is, if Shelby can survive the consuming anger sheltering the true core of the man buried deep inside.

On television and behind the scenes, Shelby is ever bit the famous actress and spoiled performer everyone assumes her to be, but it’s all an act. Underneath all the glamor and pampering, Shelby yearns to be heard and treated as a real person. Unfortunately, fame has surrounded her with people looking to use her for her status and make a name for themselves. Even her own family has jumped on her coattails, expecting to get ahead in the movie world. No one really cares about the real Shelby. Despite her envied glory, she’s had a hard life. A modern day Cinderella, she’s lived through evil step-mothers and jealous step-sisters. Her own father even turned his back on her, leaving her yearning for the love and support she’s never had. Daniel is the only person that seems genuinely interested in her for who she really is. Unfortunately, someone is hell bent on squashing any chance she has at happiness. After a Hunter breaks into her home and attacks Daniel, he’s convinced she’s no different than the woman who imprisoned him long ago. The last time Shelby sees Daniel is when medical personnel take him away. She’s got a dead Hunter in her home and a MIA boyfriend. The media, ever present and intent on bringing all the sordid details of her life into the spotlight, do what they do best: pick out the juicy details they want and willfully attempt to ruin her reputation.

Daniel’s life hasn’t exactly been a picnic. A dragon shifter, he’s had to hide his true identity and watch his back for a long time. Gone are the days of the glorious dragons who protected mankind. Now he and his dwindling dragon folk are forced to live in hiding and secrecy, their inner dragons bound and contained against their true nature. Once their allies, Hunters have turned against them and have hunted the dragons to near extinction. If that isn’t enough to make someone thoroughly pissed off, Daniel was imprisoned for months by an evil woman hoping to force him into mating with her in order to make her immortal. Tortured both mentally and physically until he nearly broke with insanity, Daniel now carries more than just physical scars. He’s a mess, to say the least. Too bad he can’t just slink away and dwell in his own misery. Unfortunately, he’s also the dragon king and has a responsibility to lead his remaining kinfolk. He doesn’t have time for a mate, especially one who threatens to tear down the cold exterior he’s so carefully crafted around his heart and make him feel things he’s determined not to acknowledge.

I’ve always loved dragons. Not many creatures can possess rage, power, magic, and beauty all at the same time. And besides, who wouldn’t want a gorgeous dragon shifter in their bed? Eden Ashe’s dragons seem to have mastered the art of truly being mystical and marvelous creatures. The Dragon’s Heart grabbed my full attention at page one. The main characters, Shelby and Daniel, are so multi-faceted and complex, they both won my heart. Daniel’s tangible pain and misery made me want to break through his stony exterior and love him myself. I cheered Shelby on as she persistently refused to back down from his fury and outbursts. She skillfully used her heart and her love to work through his old wounds and bring him back to himself. Ms. Ashe has a lovely talent with words and manages to keep me turning each page, eager to see what happens next. When Daniel and Shelby finally come together (sexually) in an explosive and intense bout of emotion and need, I couldn’t help but get all warm and fuzzy inside. I wanted these two together and Ms. Ashe does not disappoint. There were a few slow parts midway through the book, and a couple of times I wondered about some of Shelby’s actions, but I realized that most of this was necessary for her to make some changes not only in Daniel, but in his fellow dragons as well. It’s pretty comical to watch these proud, solitary, and fierce dragon men be put in their place by a five-foot-nothing woman less than half their size but with a temper to match their own.

By the end of the story, Shelby could certainly change careers from actress to author. What would her first book likely be? How to Train Your Dragon(s), I would imagine. She certainly has her work cut out for her, but I for one most definitely envy her. This is book one of Ms. Ashe’s Dragon Lore series. I know I’ll be chomping at the bit to get my hands on book two.

Hot, sexy dragon men to melt your heart (and maybe your clothes off as well), a strong-willed woman whose stature might be tiny but her determination is anything but, lots of great sex, and graphic violence…what else do you need for an awesome, story? Heck, it’d make a great movie! Don’t miss out on Eden Ashe’s The Dragon’s Heart; it’s a smokin’ hot read that left me yearning for a dragon of my own.

Ghost Lover by Liza O’Connor

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Ghost Lover by Liza O’Connor
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, paranormal
Length: Full (243 pgs)
Heat: spicy
Rated: 4.5 Stars
Review by Poppy

Two sexy English brothers. One irresistible ghost. Who would you choose as your lover?

Completely broke and with a criminal record to boot, Senna Smith is one day from eviction from her apartment when Brendon, her promiscuous roommate from London, suggests she go to England, marry him, and manage his fortune. With few other options, she agrees to an open marriage. But she’ll never, ever, have sex with him, knowing if she falls in love with him, he’ll break her heart.

As trustee of Brendon’s family fortune, there is no way Brendon’s older brother, Garrison Durran, is going to let him marry a self-professed American gold-digger. As Senna tries to embrace castle life and English society for Brendon’s sake, Gar discovers Senna is the perfect woman for him–beautiful and intelligent, kind and caring. Now, if she wasn’t already engaged to his brother…

The ancestral ghost of Durran Castle has to intervene if the Durran brothers have any chance of an heir. He can’t leave them to fix matters on their own. They are useless buggers when it comes to love. As counselor to Gar, matchmaker for Brendon, and lover to Senna, a ghost’s work is never done.

CONTENT WARNING: Allergy warning: Ghost cat in book.

I started reading this story, not expecting much more than the usual romance. Enjoyable, but nothing unusual. Thankfully I was wrong! I smiled and giggled while reading chapter one, and knew Ghost Lover would be a fun and unique story.

Senna, our heroine, is engaged to Brendon. They’re not in love, but for financial reasons, she’s agreed to marry him. They travel to his family home in England so she can meet the older brother, a fascinating but stern man. As it turns out, she also meets a ghost cat and the ancestral ghost of the castle.

Confusion and hilarity reign as the ghost takes a hand in fixing everyone’s problems. I laughed out loud several times and enjoyed this story more than any other I’ve read in some time.

If you enjoy mirth with your romance, and more than a touch of the unexpected, then I recommend you read Ghost Lover.

Immortal Revenge by Mary Abshire

REVENGE
Immortal Revenge by Mary Abshire
The Legacy, #1
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (244 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Verbena

Grief stricken Katie Dillinger is on a mission to claim revenge for the death of her lover. In a race against time to find the murderer, Katie reaches out to Riker, a man listed as her boyfriend’s emergency contact. The cold-hearted man comes to Katie’s aid, but she doesn’t completely trust him. To keep her friends safe, she insists they leave town immediately. But her efforts come too late. A friend disappears and a clear message is left in the wake: surrender or more people will die.

Katie’s world is turned upside down when she discovers Riker has vowed to protect her. She’s involved in a prophecy, one which her lover had been preparing her for before his murder. All the combat training he gave her suddenly makes sense, and as Katie fights to keep her friends alive, she’s forced to prioritize. Revenge now, saving mankind next.

For Katie Dillinger, there’s nothing sweeter or more anticipated than revenge. She’d spent years learning how to defeat a vampire. Now it was time to put all that training to good use. But at what cost?

When her desire to avenge her fallen lover endangers the lives of those she holds most dear, Katie realizes it’s not just about her anymore. Killing Kyle’s murderers might give her some self-satisfaction, but where there’s one blood thirsty vampire looking to exploit humans, there’s bound to be more. Before long, she finds herself in the middle of a forgotten prophecy and thrust into a role she never wanted. Question is, can she be the leader the human race needs?

Katie has suffered one loss after another. You’d think that finding her boyfriend beheaded, on fire, and nailed to a cross in the front yard would be enough to break her down into a wailing pile of mush, but not this tough girl. She mourns as best as she can, but quickly re-gathers herself and begins formulating a plot of revenge. With the aid of some unusual and unexpected allies, she collects her weapons, devises a plan, and sets about avenging her vampire lover. And if friends and daggers aren’t enough, she has a secret weapon stashed in her purse that will help tip the scales in her favor. Even though Kyle gave her many gifts, this last part of him might just be what she needs to succeed. It’s certainly something her enemies don’t expect.

A friend of Kyle’s from many years past, Riker pledged to protect Katie should anything happen to his comrade. When he gets the call that his friend has been destroyed, he wastes no time fulfilling his promise. Problem is, Katie is willful, headstrong, and just plain won’t listen to reason or rationality. She’s a real pain in the ass. And yet, Riker believes in her purpose, even if she doesn’t, and is determined to guide, coax, and protect her along the way. We really don’t get to know Riker very well. He’s big, broody, and bossy. It’s pretty comical to envision this hulking immortal ranting and raving to a much smaller human female who completely ignores and undermines his orders throughout the entire story. Still, I can’t help but think there’s more to this guy than just stringy hair, big muscles, and a bad attitude. I wish the story had allowed for a more thorough character development with him.

In Immortal Revenge, Ms. Mary Abshire has penned an urban fantasy that is both interesting and entertaining. It wasn’t quite the page-turner I’d hoped, but it did keep my interest well enough and I was curious to see what the ending had in store. The killer for this story for me was the multiple editing errors. The first few I pretty much ignored, but as the story went on, I found them riddled throughout. The point-of-view violations were minimal and not really a distraction. The main errors I found were with incorrect word usage, missing words, and some that just didn’t make any sense. I don’t feel these were things that made the story unworthy of reading or a waste of time because I enjoyed it nevertheless. However, these are certainly things that some better editing could easily correct to take this story from okay to good. A bit of a romantic at heart, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t any romance in this tale, but this was not a romance story so the fault lies in my own personal tastes, not the author’s writing.

Overall, I felt the story was certainly worth my time and I enjoyed getting to know the characters, even if only on a surface level.

If you like kick-butt, don’t mess with me, slice ‘em and dice ‘em heroines and broody, fang-toting, muscle-laden heroes, then you’ll likely find Immortal Revenge worth your time. Be sure to find a comfortable spot before you get started, though. This is a lengthy tale that takes a while to read.

Mr. Right Now by Kristina Knight

RIGHT
Mr. Right Now by Kristina Knight
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length; Full Length (170 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Gardenia

The wrong guy might be just right for her.

When her celebrity boyfriend of three years dumps her and claims he’s now gay, unlucky-in-love author Casey Cash decides to get out of New York. A cruise seems like the perfect escape: everyone onboard will be locked away from television, newspapers and internet gossip pages, allowing her some much needed relaxation. There’s only one problem: her oh-so-helpful agent has hired a male escort for her…and a big NYC paper has sent a pesky reporter on-board, vowing to get the dirt.

Mason Drury doesn’t want to write an expose on Casey, but he’s in a bind. After a source flipped on him, he’s persona non grata at his newspaper. Celebrity trash or not, this story will put him back on top. Too bad he finds himself breaking the first rule of reporting by getting attached to his subject and letting bias influence his story.

Casey’s much more interested in sexy Mason than the annoying escort who’s bunking in her room. Mason might even have romantic potential if she can shake her well-meaning—but nosey—fans. Oh, and that reporter. She’s got to avoid him at all costs…

Dumped by her boyfriend, humiliated in the press, lonely and afraid, Casey is at the end of her rope. Taking this cruise through the Caribbean should be just what the doctor ordered so she can relax. What ensues is anything but relaxing.

I need to warn you that you need a little suspension of disbelief when reading this novel, after all this is not reality but a romance novel. Having said that, this story is fast moving, entertaining, and full of emotions of all kinds.

Mason is a “book boyfriend” worth remembering. He is handsome, well built, intelligent, and most of all, kind. He and Casey could be said to have been struck by the “thunderbolt”. From the moment they meet, the chemistry between them cannot be denied. Casey is alarmed by how attracted she is to this stranger. She is unable to keep her clothes on and her hands to herself when she is alone with him. Mason is no less affected. He is driven to her and is unable to stop himself.

The plot evolves as misinformation, lies, and coincidence contributes to a “comedy of errors”. In an age where finding Mr. Right is sometimes impossible, finding Mr. Right Now provides a means to finding sexual release without commitment… or is it? Sometimes finding Mr. Right is just a cruise ship away!