No One Until Her by Lynn Burke


No One Until Her by Lynn Burke
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/F, BDSM, Spanking, Toys, M/F/M interaction, Multiple Partners
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Kaden Quinn has life by the balls and enjoys his side job as a Dom in a downtown Boston BDSM club. What he doesn’t want—or need—is a pseudo-sub trying to shred the veil that protects his painful past.

When untamed Livi Risso’s insatiable need to get to the bottom of a story leads her to an exclusive kink club, her curiosity ignites upon meeting a restrained Dom who refuses to touch her.

Kaden feigns disinterest while scening, but that doesn’t stop Livi from experiencing intimacy like she’s never imagined. When one misstep leaves Kaden shaken, will Livi be the one to break down his wall against love?

This book is seriously hot. Kaden isn’t a perfect hero. He’s got issues and I admired him for how he’d gotten through them. Livi is a good match for him. Their chemistry is off the charts and fun to read about.

There were a few typos and a couple of extra quotation marks, which was bothersome, but didn’t stop my enjoyment of the story. I liked that Kaden was flawed and trying to overcome his issues. That endeared him to me. I wish there would’ve been a few more flaws to Livi, though. She’s a tough as nails reporter, but she seemed almost too perfect. Still, I liked the story.

If you’re looking for a story involving a pain sub, then this might be the one you’re wanting. It’s hot, sweet, and will singe the screen.

A Different Kind of Therapy by Charlotte Howard


A Different Kind of Therapy by Charlotte Howard
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/F, BDSM, Spanking, Bondage, Toys
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Psychology student Hayley has always been intrigued by sexual fetishes, so when the chance to be mentored by renowned sexual therapist, Adrian De Silva comes up, she jumps at the chance. It soon becomes apparent that the kind of therapy Adrian offers is far from mainstream, and Hayley is introduced to the world of domination therapy. As her training begins, Hayley finds herself falling for her boss and dreaming of being his submissive. Then she meets her new client, and it is Hayley who must be the dominant one.

Will Hayley take to her new role? And how will her personal feelings affect her work? Can Hayley really provide A Different Kind of Therapy?

Hayley and Adrian are an interesting couple. He’s a therapist and she wants to be one. There’s only one problem—he deals with clients who need to be dominated as part of their therapy. He does the regular therapy role, too, but his emphasis is on the sexual side—without having sex. It’s an interesting theme for a book.

I did have a few quibbles. Her reaction to initially being called a Domme wasn’t what I’d expected and made me wonder if she could do the job she’d been hired for. Another thing that bothered me was how quickly she jumped into the situation with Adrian. I get that she’s wanting to help in his line of work, but they moved into the D/s relationship rather fast. While I get that she liked what they were doing, it just seemed…too fast. Like there should’ve been some more build-up. This was her first time having this kind of relationship and she threw herself into it, but it felt odd.

I liked the power exchange and the story is certainly hot. The ending is a tad blunt, but overall this is a sexy read that will certainly singe the screen.

Camino Island by John Grisham


Camino Island by John Grisham
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (304 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.
Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.

Steal the F Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts? The heck you say… But maybe it can be done.

I’ve mentioned I’m a sucker for a Grisham book. I usually race through the books and can’t wait to see what happens next. This book was no exception. The more I read Grisham, the more I get mildly irritated with the occasional head-hopping, but I’ve learned to deal with it.

Mercer is a struggling author. She hit the semi-big time once and can’t produce another work. It happens. Ask most authors and they’re struggling. She was a believable character. I didn’t agree with all of her decisions, but she had to make them, not me. She gets in over her head and needs a way out…oh and a chance to write. I could identify with her desire.

Then there are the missing manuscripts. Holy moly. Imagine stealing the F Scott Fitzgerald original manuscripts… I can’t. But it happened. I can’t begin to fathom these being taken, then the school opting to pay the thieves blows my mind. I wonder if that really happens. Seems like it wouldn’t, but I don’t know. If they want the priceless piece back that much…it could happen.

Although I liked the book, some of the characterizations were odd. The women writing romance…they felt a tad stereotyped and that done badly. That said, I could see them. The woman who wrote the vampire books… gee wonder who the reference was? Haha. But again, the author made her seem ditzy and almost unrealistic. I don’t know if the romance crowd is that voracious for ‘garbage’ as it was called, but I can see the glut of ‘books’ that maybe aren’t quite ready for publication being rushed through because someone believes they can and will make a buck from them.

That said, the mystery wasn’t as tough to figure out as I’d hoped. Still, I raced through this book and wanted to know what would happen to Mercer. I liked reading about her grandmother, Tessa, and wanted to see how things would shake out on Camino Island.

If you’re looking for a book with intrigue, excitement, mystery and authors, then this might be the book for you.

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham


The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (352 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right? Well, yes and no . . .

Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.

Law, lies and excitement…what’s not to love?

I’m a nut for Grisham’s work. I devour it. When I saw this book had come out, I had to nab it. I’m glad I did.

This was a one-sitting book – meaning I read it in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. I thought about the characters after the book was done and wanted more. I can’t say I agree with their actions, but I understood to a degree why they did it. Mark, Todd and Zola are interesting characters. They’re typical students who got caught up in the desire to better themselves and over-borrowed money to do so at the college level. I know how being eyeball deep in student loan debt can feel. But they weren’t just in debt. They’d been had by the for-profit school they attended. Ouch.

My favorite character had to be Gordy, though. The guy had issues coming out his ears, but he had a big heart and was smarter than the other students. I can’t give too many details, but I cried over him. I did.

There were parts of the story that irritated me. I won’t lie. But there were parts that made me smile. I can’t imagine doing what Mark and Todd did, but it’s fiction. I can overlook it.

If you want a book that will make you think, rivet you to your seat and is good escapism, then this is the book for you.

PS From Paris by Marc Levy


PS From Paris by Marc Levy
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (270 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

On the big screen, Mia plays a woman in love. But in real life, she’s an actress in need of a break from her real-life philandering husband—the megastar who plays her romantic interest in the movies. So she heads across the English Channel to hide in Paris behind a new haircut, fake eyeglasses, and a waitressing job at her best friend’s restaurant.

Paul is an American author hoping to recapture the fame of his first novel. When his best friend surreptitiously sets him up with Mia through a dating website, Paul and Mia’s relationship status is “complicated.”

Even though everything about Paris seems to be nudging them together, the two lonely ex-pats resist, concocting increasingly far-fetched strategies to stay “just friends.” A feat easier said than done, as fate has other plans in store. Is true love waiting for them in a postscript?

Boy meets girl, boy gets girl…life happens.

I’m all for a sappy story. I’m all for a book that pulls me out of my life and gets me into someone else’s for a few hours. Marc Levy’s PS From Paris, was certainly a ride.

Mia is a famous actress with problems in her marriage. She’s in Paris and trying to forget her husband’s cheated on her. She meets Paul. He’s got a snoot-load of problems, too. He’s a struggling writer. They’re not really good for each other, but they are.

I’m not going to lie. I went into this book with high hopes. She’s an actress and he’s essentially no one. Could they make it? How will they? It’s intriguing. I had to keep reading to know what would happen.

But there were multiple bumps along the road. I put this book down many times. I kept wanting to shout at Mia. I get she’s lonely and her marriage is a mess, but why would her cheating be okay/therapeutic, but his isn’t? And some of the ways she got around being noticed, even though she’s famous…I really had to suspend my disbelief and it didn’t work a few times. I struggled with what felt like cliched situations, too. I won’t get into details, but I would’ve liked more characterization, too.

That said, this book was still enjoyable. Mia deserved a happy ending and Paul deserved one, too. I didn’t see the ending coming, that’s for sure. Check this book out. It might be the beach read you’ll love.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: Full Length (337 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

An interesting book that wasn’t what I expected, but worth the read.

Initially, I wasn’t fond of this book. I’ll admit it. Ove got on my nerves. I am not the very factual, very direct kind of person that Ove is. I have grey areas. He doesn’t. Honestly, two-thirds of the way through the book, I still wasn’t converted. I didn’t see the point. I kept expecting something nasty to happen to ‘cat’, too. I should note that the book takes place in Sweden and there are references to Sweden. It adds to the story, absolutely, but should be pointed out.

But then about the two-thirds point, the book changed. Okay, maybe the book didn’t change, but my perception did. I got to see the man, Ove, become more than he was. I understood him better and quite honestly, I rooted for him. I liked his interactions with the neighbors and ‘cat’. There was a sweet man under that curmudgeon facade. I won’t give away the ending, but I did cry. I felt like I’d known Ove all along.

The secondary characters are great and while some are a tad irritating, they round out the story well. They needed to be there. Plus, they’re more than I thought and it was great to see them grow along with Ove.

If you want a book that might take some getting used to and some endurance to get through (you’ll be rewarded), then this might be the book for you. I’m glad I picked it up.

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar


Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Genre: Recent Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (180 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The little town of Castle Rock, Maine has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told… until now.

There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.

At the top of the stairs, Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground. From a bit farther away comes the chink of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball as the Senior League kids practice for the Labor Day charity game.

One day, a stranger calls to Gwendy: “Hey, girl. Come on over here for a bit. We ought to palaver, you and me.”

On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…

I have to admit I’m a Stephen King junkie. I am. I’m also a bit of a short story junkie, too. When I saw this book at my local library, just sitting there unassumingly on the shelf, I had to sneak a peek.I mean, why not? So I picked it up. I’m glad I did. This was a quick read and even though it’s short, when I had to put it down to deal with life, I didn’t have to do a bunch of rereading to catch back up.That’s the good thing about this short story. There isn’t a lot of rereading that needs to be done if you have to walk away.

Gwendy is an interesting character. She has an awesome power within her and within the button box. Will she use it? Will she succumb? Will she get a big head from the power? I liked that Gwendy is relatable. There are things that made her more than she was, but I liked her human-ness. Now I would’ve been more than a little freaked out if some random guy wanted me to sit with him. Even more if he’d have offered me a box. I don’t know how Gwendy did it, but she did.

I liked how she grew through the story, too. The creep factor isn’t as strong in this story, which was nice for me because I wasn’t looking for a freaky story. But might be a turn off for others. There are plenty of characters and some are hard to keep straight, by the end, I felt like I knew them all. My heart bled at the end. I won’t give away spoilers, but it’s a tad gut-wrenching.

If you want a recent historical story with more than few twists, then this might be the short story you’re looking for. Oh and try a chocolate. I hear the detailing is fantastic.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee


The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (372 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. For Solène, it is a reclaiming of self, as well as a rediscovery of happiness and love. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.

What a ride!

I had sort of an idea what I was getting into when I picked up this book. Cougar and cub story with hot sex and a good time… It’s intriguing. There are moments when the book is hot. Like scorching the page hot. The writing is fast-paced and Solene is relatable. Who wouldn’t want the adoration of a younger man?

But I had a few problems with the book. Hayes is an interesting character. He’s part of a boy band. Initially, I thought this would make him rather vapid. I mean, he’s got money and women thrown at him, plus the adoration of teens everywhere. I can see where it would go to his head. And it does to a degree. One minute he’s rather wise beyond his years, but then other times he’s very much a twenty year old. Then there’s Solene. I liked her. I mean, she’s in a tough spot. She wants to be loved and wants to find herself, but doesn’t know where that finding herself is. Cool premise. But I got a tad bored with her. Okay, she’s got a hot younger man (think one of the One Direction guys) who is fawning all over her. I get her emotional maturity in dealing with him, but she’s the same kind of waffle-y character as Hayes. One minute she’s mature and the next she’s almost scandalized by what she’s doing. I liked that she wasn’t totally sure, but I also kind of wanted her to have more of a backbone. If you want him, take him.

Still, it was a good read. A good beach read with lots of fantasy – how many people really meet the boys in the boy band and have a tryst – and plenty of heat. If you’re into books that are escapism, then this might be the one for you.

Try it!

The Surgeon’s Cinderella by Susan Carlisle/Saved by Doctor Dreamy by Dianne Drake


The Surgeon’s Cinderella by Susan Carlisle/Saved by Doctor Dreamy by Dianne Drake
Publisher: Mills and Boon
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (391 pages – 189 and 192 respectively)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The Surgeon’s Cinderella – Susan Carlisle
Whitney Thomason prides herself on being able to find the perfect partner for anyone, but heart surgeon Tanner Locke is a real challenge! He wants to settle down, but he’s adamant there’ll be no falling in love…When Whitney’s candidate falls through it’s up to her to be the girlfriend Tanner needs for his business weekend getaway, but two days in close proximity prove torturous. They know giving in to temptation is a bad idea but desire is more powerful than reason…

Saved by Doctor Dreamy – Dianne Drake
In search of her independence, Dr Juliette Allen’s time in Costa Rica was meant for chasing adventure…not facing the constant temptation of her sexy, arrogant new boss, Damien Caldwell!Damien can’t understand why gorgeous, fiery Juliette would hide herself away in the jungle but quickly learns not to underestimate the quiet strength of this auburn beauty. And when tragedy strikes Damien finds himself on an unexpected mission-to open Juliette’s heart and convince her to take a chance on love!

Doctor McDreamy has nothing on these doctors!

I’m a sucker for medical romances. There’s something fabulous about a guy (or girl) who knows how to use their hands and can save lives. These two novels don’t disappoint.

I’m a huge fan of Susan Carlisle. She writes hot docs like no other. They’re approachable, while being sexy and down to earth. I liked Whitney, too. She’s very relatable. She was a heavier girl in college and not as visible to guys like Tanner. Now that’s she’s not as big, she’s still super self-conscious about it. Hey, who can’t relate to that? We’ve all got insecurities and want to be loved…but will that hottie we’re ogling over feel the love too? Ms Carlisle had me hooked from the beginning, wanting to know what would happen to Tanner and Whitney and if they’d get their HEA. Totally absorbing read.

Then there’s the novel by Dianne Drake. He’s fiesty and running from his past. She’s fiesty and independent. Put these two together and there will be fireworks. I loved it. I couldn’t race through Damien and Juliette’s story fast enough. I had to see where it would go. The chemistry, just like in Ms Carlisle’s book was off the charts. I wanted to see these two succeed and get together. I rooted for them all the way!!

If you want a satisfying read that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and warm the night a little more, then try these two books by Susan Carlisle and Dianne Drake.

Wish You Were Here by Asta Idonea


Wish You Were Here by Asta Idonea
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

​​The death of Oakley’s sister has left his family broken and buried beneath their grief. In an attempt to get out from underneath their pain, they rent an isolated cottage in the Cotswolds. For Oakley, it’s an exercise in futility. He doesn’t see much hope for things to get back to the way they used to be, and he’s bored and restless as he waits out the time until he can return to the city and university. All of that changes when he meets local boy Bobby, and the connection between them is instant. Within a few days, Oakley is ready to walk away from everything to stay with Bobby. However, Bobby has problems of his own, and they might be more than the budding romance can survive. But they might also give Oakley a new perspective on his own situation.​

Life might not seem beautiful, but it’s a wonderful ride if you open your eyes.

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I opened this book. I knew it would be interesting when I finished the first chapter and raced right through to the second without a second thought. The writing captivated me and I wanted to know how this person, Bobby, could exist where he did in the conditions he did. I was certainly drawn in.

I liked Oakley, too. Bobby’s initial reaction to him amused me. “What kind of name is Oakley?” It’s a very young person thing to say. But I liked Bobby and Oakley both. Oakley has been hit hard by the passing of his sister. He’s dealing with the remorse of living while she isn’t and feeling he’s not reacting correctly. He’s very human in his reactions and I wanted to hug the poor guy.

This isn’t a super hot story from a sex scene point of view and that’s fine. It worked for me and the story.  If you want a short story that you won’t soon forget, one with heart and remarkable characters, then this might be the one for you.