Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford


Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (335 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

A Georgette Heyer-esque tale of high society in the glittering Regency

Lord Robert Gresham has given up all hope that the beautiful Flora Jennings will ever take him seriously. He heads to an exclusive country house party to forget about Flora, but his plans are thwarted when she suddenly arrives.

Their attraction flares, but their romance becomes complicated when the sinister Anthony Durand shows up and threatens Flora. Every bone in Robert’s body says to save her…but he’ll have to learn that some damsels in distress can save themselves if he truly wants to win her heart.

Jane Ashford creates a memorable story, full of conflicts, about a brilliant young woman who wants respect for her accomplishments and wants to fight her own battle, yet longs for love. Woven into the story is a hero who finally comes to recognize the wisdom of his father’s words: “restraint and knowing when to exercise it is a far more arduous discipline than unconsidered action.” While the setting of the story may seem more-of-the-usual, the mystery, suspense, humor, revelations, and LOVE keeps one turning pages.

Flora Jennings, daughter of a scholar and trained to be acute, observant, active, to use her intelligence, does not fit into haut ton society. However, she is at a house party at the country home of the Earl and Countess of Salbridge. Harriet Runyon, a distant relative and her chaperone, tells her a smile is a tool to be used to pry information out of people, to smooth things over, and can be a wonderful substitute when one does not wish to answer a question.

Lord Robert Gresham, the son of a Duke, not the heir or the spare, but the son who is the “Pink of the ton” knows Flora from their intellectual discussions and argues, but was not expecting to see her at a house party at his friend’s country estate—a house party loaded with men who are wellborn, well-heeled, well-behaved; men, one of whom, might be a suitable husband for the Earl’s sister, Lady Victoria.

However, Victoria has her mind made up. She wants Robert and feels she has a right to him because of a childhood promise. She has no idea he is more stimulated by a fine mind than he is by a low cut neckline.

Add to that the arrival of two unwanted guests who remind Flora of one of the most terrifying experiences of her life an Flore becomes unsure of her ability to the world of the ton the way Robert had adapted to her intellectual world on Russell Street.

Probably the most interesting of all the arrivals is the little dog Robert rescued on his way to the party. He is a philosophical, wise little fellow, Robert names him Plato. I was always delighted to see him appear, because he was always in the know before anyone else.

Jane Ashford sweeps the reader into the story at once. She makes the story sparkle with love scenes that send the senses soaring, with lovers that have unfailing respect for each other, and with an altogether satisfactory tying up loose ends—a story that lets the reader sigh with pleasure at the end—delighted about how well everything turned out.

Fool For You by Rina Gray


Fool For You by Rina Gray
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (126 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Sports journalist Melanie Foster has achieved most of her goals: Bomb.com job—check. Tomboy-to-smoking-hottie makeover—check. Convince her best friend, Damien Richards, to slide a ring on her finger and father her two-point-five kids—not so much. When she activates Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, she never imagines her BFF already has plans to stroll down the wedding aisle with another woman.

Damien’s in the middle of crisis mode. The non-profit for young athletes at which he volunteers is in financial trouble. He’ll pull out all the stops to rescue the organization that saved his life after his career-ending injury—even if it means sacrificing his personal happiness.

But when he finally wakes up to love and the very non-brotherly feelings he’s long held for Mel, it just might be too late. Damien must convince her that he’s worth the risk and turn the tables to show her he’s the one ready to be a fool for love.

Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me is in full effect, but will it really bring Melanie the love she seeks?

I thought it was weird that Melanie Foster waited all these years to confess her love to her long time friend Damien Richards. The timing couldn’t be more off since Damien is in a serious relationship and just recently got engaged. Melanie is all in when it comes to getting Damien to love her. With his fiance Vanessa in the way it may not be as easy as Melanie thought.

Melanie is a smart and career minded woman that knows a lot about sports. From tomboy to heels and lady-like attire, Melanie came off as self centered in her timing to reveal her feelings to Damien. She tried once back in college to tell Damien how she felt but to no avail. Damien is a caring and likable guy that has his hands full. Refurbished Dreams, a mentor organization that helped Damien from a troubled path when he was younger, is now being closed down. Damien, a volunteer at the center, offers his help to keep the center open along with being pressured to marry his girlfriend Vanessa. With secrets, jilted love and friends that have your back and others that do the stabbing this makes for a interesting read.

The author has a good writing style with humor and up to date jargon. The plot is interesting, but has a few slow parts. At first I thought it was a little predictable but I was glad to see there are a few surprises at the end. A recommendation to readers that enjoy a quick read that delivers a happy ending to a woman set on getting her man.

Max and Rosie by Arnold Greenberg


Max and Rosie by Arnold Greenberg
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (49 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Max has been in love with his wife Rosie ever since she sat next to him in their Chaucer class nearly forty years ago. Now she is dying of Alzheimer’s. He devotes himself to taking care of her, bringing her tea and toast each afternoon, going to the park to feed the ducks, and reminiscing.

When he can no longer care for her alone, he hires Robin as Rosie’s live-in nurse. As time passes his attraction to Robin grows. They share meals, movies, and confidences while Rosie fades further away. He dreams of kissing Robin and telling her how he feels—but wonders could she ever feel the same about him. When Rosie dies, Max dreads the day Robin will move out. What will he do without her vibrant ways, her sweet smile? What will he do without her?

Some people say age is just a number. Does this rule also apply to falling in love with an adult who is much younger than you?

Max was such a likeable guy. His devotion to his wife was plain to see, especially as he adjusted to how quickly Rosie was losing all of her memories. Watching him grieve the loss of their relationship as she forget who he was and all of the happy years they’d had together made me blink back tears. I wanted more than anything for him to somehow find a happy ending for himself.

There were pacing issues when it came to the development of the relationship between Robin and Max. Nothing happened between them for a long time, so I was surprised by how quickly things started moving once they began to explore the possibility of becoming more than friends. This didn’t seem like something either one of these characters would do because of how thoughtful and methodical they were in the rest of their lives. I would have really liked to have more hints about their shifting feelings earlier on so that the later development of their relationship wasn’t so sudden.

I liked the fact that the main characters in this tale all had well-rounded backstories. Knowing how Max and Rosie had spent the last thirty-seven years together was just as important as hearing about Robin’s childhood and learning why she decided to become a nurse. I felt like I got to know all three of them incredibly well because of how much time the author spent tying their pasts to the lives they were currently living.

Max and Rosie should be read by anyone who is in the mood for something bittersweet.

Highland Hope by Madelyn Hill


Highland Hope by Madelyn Hill
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (241 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

“Remember, lasses. Through Hope, Faith, and Honor, ye can rule,” were the last words Lady Hope MacAlister’s father spoke before dying. Those very words direct her every action and thought. Sword fighting and leading the men of her clan was second nature to Hope and she has little time for herself or any thoughts of love. Until Aidan MacKerry is captured spying on the clan.

She is beautiful, strong, and quick to pull a sword. But when he kisses her, all thoughts of the lairdship Aidan MacKerry seeks flee his mind. When the enemy continues to undermine Hope, Aidan is determined to aid her—only he didn’t think he’d lose his heart to the Laird of Wild Thistle Keep. When the enemy reveals Aidan’s secret, he must fight for his right to be laird and prove, despite their differences, he loves Hope.

The enemy refuses to back down and continues to threaten not only Hope, but the security of the entire clan. Only together will they be able to save the clan and save their love.

Aye, ’twas a splendid book, you ken? The hero, Aidan MacKerry was a brawn of a man. I found Highland Hope to be quite irresistible. Hope MacAlister, the heroine, didn’t stand a chance. At least I couldn’t resist the chemistry that flowed between these two characters. Unfortunately, their relationship was plagued with trials and tribulations as a result of Hope’s lairdship responsibilities to her clan and Aidan’s determination to keep his pledge to his father, mixed with secrets, and a lurking enemy.

Madelyn Hill wrote a wonderful romance book. The plot was not like one I’ve ever read before which was pleasing to me. Thumbs up for originality. I was thoroughly intrigued to keep reading to find out how it was going to end for everyone involved. The pace was a steady rhythm without any hiccups.

I want to assure readers that the ending of Highland Hope was perfect. I really loved the message, or at least the message I got out of it which was to compromise. It was a brilliant solution to ensure that Hope and Aidan could save the clan and their love.

I would definitely recommend this book for a fun, interesting and spicy romance.

The Heart You Need by Diane R Jewkes


The Heart You Need by Diane R Jewkes
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Historical, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (95 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

When society reporter Adeline Ellsworth’s cousin, a police inspector, is murdered in 1896 San Francisco, she immediately sets out to uncover the truth. This could be her chance to leave frivolous fashion gossip behind for a career reporting on important issues. But her investigation leads to danger—and she wakes up tied to Alec McCairn, Lord Peyton.

In California to set up a new office, the Scottish peer definitely wasn’t looking for a romantic entanglement, especially with an independent, opinionated reporter. But he suspects the beguiling Adeline is in over her head and too proud to ask for help. He vows to protect her, no matter how hard she balks.

A widow, Adeline guards her heart carefully and doesn’t want Alec ruining her chance to expose this corruption, no matter how attractive or charming he is. But then the main suspect kidnaps her younger brother and demands Adeline’s research as ransom. To save him and crack the case, they must work together. But the biggest mystery they end up solving might just be how to capture each other’s heart.

Set in the latter part of the Victorian era, this romance has danger, excitement and mystery all wrapped into one. In a time when women are emerging as independent from the men in their lives, Linnie is a widow and a journalist with a leading San Francisco newspaper. Although she only deals with social and fashion issues, she longs to be an investigative reporter and her efforts in this regard lead her into danger. They also lead her into love when she meets Lord Alec MacCairn.

This book has it all. Spicy love scenes, dangerous adventures and even a kidnapping. Threaded through the story is a hint of humor which makes it believable and enjoyable to read. For most of the story I was wondering how on earth their love could survive when he lives on one side of the Atlantic and she lives on the shores of the Pacific. Linnie obviously wouldn’t leave her widowed mother and young brother, but Alec had responsibilities as the heir to a dukedom in Scotland. Very intriguing storyline with the two main characters accepting their love for each other, but wondering how they can make their love continue across the distance of two oceans.

The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower by M. S. Spencer


The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower by M. S. Spencer
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (325 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

In both the best and worst first day at work ever, docent Claire Wilding meets the man of her dreams, but her carefully rehearsed guided tour of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial falls apart when she discovers a dead body. Together with Detective Ernest Angle, she’s drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons, of secret cabals and hidden treasure. Also cloaked in mystery is her new love Gideon Bliss. A George Washington expert, he haunts the Memorial, his manner evasive. What is his secret? Claire fears she’ll fall in love with him only to learn he’s a thief or even a murderer.

Juggling eccentric mothers and an increasingly smitten Ernest, our heroine must find answers in a complex web of intrigue, including which black ops agent to trust, whether our first president strayed, and if she and Gideon will ever be together.

Is Gideon just a George Washington enthusiast, or is he tangled in a web of lies and murder?

When Claire accepted a job working as a docent at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, she never could have imagined how complicated her life was about to become. Finding a murder victim in the tower is just the beginning of a mystery filled with spies, thieves, and vandals. As Claire tries to solve the mystery, Gideon sweeps Claire off her feet, but can she trust him? Is his appearance at the tower on the day of the murder merely a coincidence?

Claire’s first day of work couldn’t possibly have gone worse. As if a murder wasn’t bad enough, Claire’s life is further complicated by the attentions of two very different men, Gideon Bliss and Detective Ernest Angle. Claire is instantly attracted to Gideon, and their relationship becomes physical at lightning speed, but Claire can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something. I must admit I had serious doubts about Gideon and his motivations as well. Consequently, I could never get comfortable with their relationship. I didn’t feel as though they really clicked as a couple even after the truth was revealed. They didn’t seem to spend much time together, and for a good chunk of the story, Claire was pretty sure Gideon was up to something. This doesn’t strike me as a very solid foundation for a good relationship.

I truly felt sorry for Detective Angle. He is clearly smitten with Claire, and she does not feel the same way. Claire doesn’t set out to hurt him, but once she realizes he has feelings for her, she does nothing to dissuade his attentions. Instead, she uses his attraction in order to get inside information on the progress of the case. I found this rather off putting. I think Claire is better than that, and Detective Angle doesn’t deserve to be led on in such a way.

There are several mysteries intertwined within the pages of this book, and while they were intriguing, I must admit I also found them to be unnecessarily complicated as well. Keeping the various threads of the mysteries straight is quite a task, and while the ending felt a bit forced to me, it was still satisfying.

Overall, The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower is a good book. The pacing is quick and the mystery is interesting. I recommend this tale to anyone looking for a steamy, romantic suspense.

Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis


Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (353 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

There’s no such thing as a little in love…

Elle Wheaten’s priorities: friends, career, and kick-ass shoes. Then there’s the muscular wall of stubbornness that’s security expert Archer Hunt—who comes before everything else. No point in telling Mr. “Feels-Free Zone” that, though. Elle will just see other men until she gets over Archer . . . which should only take a lifetime . . .

There’s no such thing as a little in lust…

Archer’s wanted the best for Elle ever since he sacrificed his law-enforcement career to save her. But now that she’s earned happiness and success, Archer just wants Elle 24/7. Their chemistry could start the next San Francisco Earthquake, and Archer doesn’t want to be responsible for the damage. The alternative? Watch her go out with guys who aren’t him . . .

There is such a thing as…

As far as Archer’s concerned, nobody is good enough for Elle. But when he sets out to prove it by sabotaging her dates, she gets mad—and things get hot as hell. Now Archer has a new mission: prove to Elle that her perfect man has been here all along…

I enjoy Ms. Shalvis’s alpha heroes because they are so capable, contained and confident, except when it comes to the women who are able to get under their skin and turn on that emotional switch that flips them upside down and sideways. It never ceases to amuse and entertain me and that’s because Ms. Shalvis writes them so well. Archer is another wonderful hero for readers to fall in love with. We don’t get to keep him but Elle does – but what is she really going to do with him? Keep him or push him away? Love him or leave him? Only way to find out is to read the latest wonderful romance in the Heartbreaker Bay series.

The bulk of the novel’s conflict comes from Elle and Archer’s personal conflicts. They have a shared moment in history but they remember it differently and it colors their relationship in the years that follow. What neither realizes is that there was something that sparked between them back then and it’s powerful. Yet both characters needed to mature, find their own places in life and make choices that make them the people they are when the novel begins. The question then becomes – can they stop looking at each other through the filter of the past to realize that what they have now when they gaze into each other’s eyes in the present is what they both have been searching for? It’s a bumpy ride to the revelation. The high points are when their bodies are smarter than their brains, when passion explodes to show just how compatible they are, giving readers hope Elle and Archer will come together sooner rather than later.

My only complaint is that Elle took too long to come to her senses. I mean, the techniques Ms. Shalvis used to extend the heroine’s decision making process was cute (temporary truces when she had her ‘mad’ on) and it did bring a smile or two but I simply couldn’t understand why she was at that level of stubborn. Perhaps it needed the book length to give time for her sister to show up so there could be another quasi-HEA to round out the happiness factor. From there a domino effect captured Archer’s dad in its influence. I guess it could be said that the end justified the means. Still, I think the book could have been a chapter shorter if Elle could have gotten out of her own way just that little bit. Maybe it’s just me being impatient.

I really liked the sparks between Elle and Archer. I wanted them to figure things out sooner before there was an ‘oops’ that endangered the hero. Being in the business that he was, and Elle by her association with his crew, I knew someone was going to be in jeopardy. So who was going to be the hero or heroine to the rescue? That depends on interpretation. You decide. I thought it was a great external conflict because it affected the internal conflicts. A two-fer.

Accidentally on Purpose is definitely worth taking the time to read. Why? Not just because Ms. Shalvis wrote it. No, because it’s really that fun, entertaining and satisfying and the plot is engaging. For anyone who is following the series, I think they’re going to be happy and for new readers, I bet it’ll be a great discovery. Whichever you are, pick up a copy and get lost in the romance. It’s solid.

The Marshal’s Pursuit by Micki Miller


The Marshal’s Pursuit by Micki Miller
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (212 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Penny Wills is devastated after the murder of her father. Things get worse when she learns he arranged a marriage for her to a man she doesn’t love. Her only way out is to catch the villain who killed him and collect the reward money.

Marshal Garrett Kincaid can’t believe Penny has followed him for three days without his knowledge. Now he has no choice but to take the prim little hellion with him on a manhunt.

They track the killer together until their attraction to each other pushes their passion to the limit. Anger and embarrassment send Penny sneaking off in the middle of the night. By dawn she’s riding, pursued by an outlaw, a spurned fiancé, and one irate marshal.

Oh, my goodness, this was a very good book. From start to finish The Marshal’s Pursuit was a delight.

Penny, the heroine, was an admirable character as she was forced to adjust to life without her father there to support her after he was murdered before her eyes. Circumstances went from bad to worse before she met Marshal Garrett Kincaid, the hero.

With a big smile on my face I can tell you that Garrett was hilarious but deadly serious when necessary. I completely understand why Penny fell in love with Garrett because I did too! Together their passion for each other made this book irresistible to put down. I grin every time I think of Garrett and experience a bit of a book glow.

The author, Micki Miller, did an outstanding job of writing scenes that had me on the edge of my seat or laughing my head off. At one point Penny was being pursued by a dangerous outlaw, an angry finance, and a madder-than-a-hornet Garrett. There was a scene where Penny was suddenly surrounded by a “melding of trees”. I won’t spoil the story for you by telling you what that means. Let’s just say that I could barely read what happened next. The suspense was unbearable and yet, nothing could prevent me from turning the pages. The plot was definitely clever, unpredictable and fun. I especially enjoyed the scene where Garrett and Penny were checking into a hotel. I couldn’t stop laughing, it was absolutely hysterical.

I enjoyed this book very much. So much so that I was sad when it came to an end, but it sure was a sweet ending. All the threads where nicely wrapped up with a happy ever after. I absolutely recommend this book for a fun, and easy read.

Back to Your Love by Kianna Alexander


Back to Your Love by Kianna Alexander
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (348 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

What would you give for a second chance?

Xavier Whitted has a lot on his plate. As a hardworking businessman, mentor to troubled teens, and aspiring politician in his Southern hometown, the daily demands never let up. A weekend at the beach for his best friend’s wedding is exactly what he needs. What he doesn’t need is to run into the woman who broke his heart ten years ago.

Imani Grant is more beautiful, confident and intelligent than ever, and their connection is still sizzling. But Imani harbors a secret that could destroy both their blossoming careers. She knows she has to keep her distance, but Xavier is determined to win back her heart–consequences be damned.

Back to Your Love is a gentle story with flawed but still admirable characters. The friendships and kinships are supportive and strong.

Imani Grant, now a doctor of dermatology, left home after high school graduation with determination to pursue her goals. She’d left with a broken heart that had never healed. Now, ten years later, she is home with a successful practice.

She and Xavier Whitted, who dumped her instead of proposing to her when they graduated high school, still have undeniable chemistry and caring that bring them together in a way that sends the blood racing.

Xavier, a CPA by profession and an avid social worker, sets in to regain Imani’s trust, not an easy task. He knows he handled a life-changing situation very poorly ten years ago. He is determined to correct that mistake.

Kianna Alexander filters in back-story and slips in foreshadowing that keep the reader intrigued. However, the internal conflicts Imani struggles with drive the story along a obstacle strewn path. While she tells herself, “The truth will set you free,” she can’t come to terms with guilt she carries.

For this reader, the love scenes crop up more often than needed. They are explicit but well-written. They just lose some impact by repetition.

Kianna Alexander does a beautiful job of writing about how the bad characters’ and the good characters’ lives get mixed up and influence both Imani’s and Xavier’s professional and personal lives. She does a masterful job of bringing all things together for that happy-ever-after.

Smooth enjoyable reading!

Graphite & Glitter by Shae Connor


Graphite & Glitter by Shae Connor
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (75 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy (F/F interaction)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

All that glitters might just be gold.

Adrienne Michaels’ best friend is getting married, and Adrienne’s not feeling it on the night of the bachelorette party. Then she meets Tessa Smith, bass player for an all-female glam rock tribute band. After a one-night stand worthy of the hottest rock star fantasies, Tessa surprises Adrienne by asking her on a real date, and Adrienne soon finds Tessa’s side gig pales in comparison to the down-to-earth music geek beneath the glitter. Tessa even helps Adrienne through a family loss, but when Tessa gets a sweet job offer in another city, Adrienne has to make a choice: let her go, follow her halfway across the country—or become part of the reason for her to stay.

It was only supposed to be a fling.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the dialogue. Whether it was main characters or one of Adrienne’s friends talking, everyone was always on point when it was their turn to speak. There were a few times when I had to stop reading and let myself chuckle for a minute before diving back into the plot because of how humorous and realistic all of those conversations were.

I would have preferred to see a little more character development when it came to Tessa and Adrianne’s personalities. The plot showed how they behaved when they were at work, but I never quite got the same sense of their personalities when they were in less formal situations. As much as I liked them, I would have loved to know more about who they were when they let their hair down and completely relaxed. Those sides of their lives remained a mystery. I would have given this book a perfect score if I’d known the main characters just a little better.

Adrianne and Tessa were perfect for each other in every way. They were both so witty and flirtatious that I couldn’t wait to see what kind of playful comeback they’d come up with the next time they met. I also loved the fact that they had so much in common. This made it easy for me to understand why their relationship moved as quickly as it did. They agreed on so many different things that it simply wasn’t necessary to talk a lot of that stuff out. It was nice to have that foundation set so firmly while I waited to see if these characters would end up together for longer than one night.

Graphite & Glitter was a beautiful love story. If you’re in the mood for something funny, hot, and romantic, definitely give this tale a whirl.