Year One by Nora Roberts


Year One by Nora Roberts
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (419 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poppy

It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed―and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magick rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river―or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

Get ready to read something unlike anything you’ve read by Nora Roberts before. I hadn’t even read the blurb before I picked up a copy of Year One and so had no preconceived notions of what I should expect. I’m really glad of that, though I will say that this book starts a trilogy that’s completely different from her previous works. It’s not romance, not really, though there are obviously relationships in the story and it’s not her typical annual trilogy following sets of people (either three or four women and men) who have some goal to reach and end up falling in love on the way.

Now that I’ve said what this book isn’t, let me tell you what it is. It’s fairly dark and depressing, and after the initial near-extinction of the human race, a battle of good and evil begins that is exceptionally reminiscent of The Stand by Stephen King. The book starts by showing us the unleashing of evil, in the form of a plague that kills more than 5 billion people. Additionally, many of the immune develop unexpected powers (they become witches or fairies or shape-shifters or other paranormal beings). There are good and bad in both the “uncanny” and those without new powers. Just like anything else, how things are used depends on the character of those who use them.

The story follows a few groups of people who ultimately merge together. We have Max and Lana, two lovers who were already somewhat aware of their powers prior to Doom (the name given to the plague), but became exponentially more powerful after. Then there is Arlys, a TV reporter who does her best to honestly and factually report about the demise of humanity and the world as we know it. Next is Jonah and Rachel, an EMT and a doctor. Each begins the trek out of the city (New York) on their own, and each set of folks pick up others on their journey.

This is not an uplifting romance, or a tale with much that is light. There are pockets of happiness, but they are few and far between. The world is ending. Violence is on the rise. The uncanny are being hunted, tortured and murdered. Evil is growing. Despite the fact that dark stories are not usually my preferred reading, I had a hard time putting this book down. I was completely invested in the characters, especially Eddie and Jonah who really grabbed me by the heartstrings. I needed to see what happened to everyone–but be prepared, just as in real life, not everyone is going to make it to the end.

There is also “the one”… the person who will apparently be the one who can save the world. I honestly found this a tad corny and struggled with the idea, but am reserving judgment until the next book which I imagine will give me a chance to be a bit more accepting. I also didn’t like the character arc Ms. Roberts gave Lana. I want to avoid spoilers, but I found her behavior at the end (a change of heart, you might say) to be a bit difficult to believe.

I’ve heard from others that they didn’t even bother to read past the first few chapters because this isn’t a typical Nora Roberts book. While I wish they’d have given the book a little more of a chance, they’re right. I recommend you pick up this book not expecting that. Instead, just be prepared to be engaged. Don’t force your own preconceived notions about what the book should be, enjoy it for what it is. I certainly did and can’t wait to read the next in the series. I, for one, am glad to see Ms. Roberts spreading her wings a bit and endeavoring to not just churn out something usual or clichéd. Despite the darkness here, she still engaged me and did the one thing I think she does best: created characters that mattered to me. Ultimately, that’s why I read books and it’s one of her strongest abilities.

Grab a copy. Read it. Then let me know what you thought.

Bel, Book, and Scandal by Maggie McConnon


Bel, Book, and Scandal by Maggie McConnon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (249 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Maggie McConnon rings in Christmas in Bel, Boiok, and Scandal, the third adventure for everybody’s favorite Irish-American culinary artist turned amateur sleuth.

Bel McGrath tries her best to keep herself on the straight and narrow but she just has a taste for trouble. This time danger arrives in the form of a newspaper left behind by visitors to Shamrock Manor―and a photograph that jolts Bel out of the present and back into a dark chapter from her past. The person in the photo is Bel’s best friend Amy Mitchell, long gone from Foster’s Landing, at a commune in upstate New York shortly after her disappearance. The picture, and Bel’s burning desire to find out what happened to Amy―and whether she may still be alive―is the catalyst for a story in which old secrets are revealed, little by little…and certain characters are shown to not be as genuine as Bel once thought.

A really fun mystery including a chef but not one that gives you recipes!

I really enjoyed this mystery. Its main character is named Bel (short for Belfast) and she is a chef; come home to live with her parents after what to most would be called a culinary disaster. She is chief cook and bottle washer somewhat at Shamrock Manor. Shamrock Manor is their lovely old Irish home; one which has been restored to hold banquets and parties. I loved all of the cooking jokes and food preparation talk but this is not one of the trendy new mysteries that has a recipe at the end of every chapter; for that matter, it has no recipes at all.

What it does have is excellently described characters and a really good storyline. I would call this a cozy. I liked reading the interplay amongst the McGrath family, the few tussles and aggravations of living all together, with a healthy dose of genuine love mixed in. Definitely a storyline involved enough to make you think. I was surprised at the end just as we all want to be with a good mystery.

This is Book 3 and the series is called the “Bel McGrath Mysteries”. This third book can easily stand alone. I enjoyed it without ever feeling confused because of not having read the first two books. On the other hand, it did make me want to read Books 1 and 2.

The Scandalous Flirt by Olivia Drake


The Scandalous Flirt by Olivia Drake
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Scandal begins with just one kiss. . .

Aurora Paxton was once the belle of the ball, the most sought-after debutante of the season―until a scandalous mistake ruined her. Shunned by her family, Rory was banished to the country to live in disgrace. Now she’s been summoned back to London by her stepmother, who is being blackmailed by the least likely person Rory can imagine: Lucas Vale, Marquess of Dashell.

Lucas is someone Rory’s known for years―a man as devastatingly handsome as he is coldly disapproving of her. What in the world could he want from her or her family? Rory intends to find out as soon as she comes face to face with her old foe. What she never expects, however, is that the icy aristocrat has a soft spot for her―and a secret plan to redeem her status. Could it be that Lucas has been in love with Rory all along. . .and has finally found a way to win her heart?

Any fan of stories that mirror the tale of Cinderella stand a good chance of being charmed and enchanted, not to mention entertained, when they dive into this very fun novel by Ms. Drake. The Scandalous Flirt has just the right amount of balance between humor, emotional engagement and intrigue as it’s woven amongst a very fine romance between to very opposite personalities. Rory, a/k/a Aurora, and Lucas, Marquess of Dashell.

There’s a bit of a mystery going on in trying to find a blackmailer and the sleuth that’s going to solve the puzzle was supposed to be only one person. Inadvertently the hero stumbles upon the case and gets involved. The complications from that pairing provide the impetus for some of the most memorable moments in the novel and provided many chapters of pure entertainment.

The author included some unique characteristics and talents for the main protagonists and I was fascinated. Some provided humor, food for thought or impressed me. Rory’s was pretty cool.

The internal conflicts of an ambitious hero and a shunned heroine are significant because they have the potential to tear them both apart. As can be expected with a solid, well-told romance, love, attitude, duty and volatile bursts of passion draw Lucas and Rory together despite the odds. I really enjoyed how the author wove their falling in love while in pursuit of the truth.

Of course, there are secondary characters that give this tale a fine flavor, Lady Milford being one, Grimshaw for another. The revelation about that man raised my eyebrows. I never saw that one coming. There are a few words out there that could aptly apply to that man, but I’ll refrain from using such language. Then, there is Rory’s sister, Celeste. I wasn’t sure what I expected but it wasn’t to end up liking her as I did. As for Rory’s step-mother – she was classically written, if you know what I mean.

A pleasant development was Luca’s dragon of a mother. I thought her a wonderful touch and I actually had fun meeting her and watching her effect on the people around her. Once again, an avid reader can guess what has a high probability of happening but the author’s clever writing provides for a pleasant and humorous surprise or two.

A reader will not be disappointed with the fairy tale ending. The mystery is solved, the internal conflicts are addressed in a delightful manner and I was treated to some very spicy romantic moments as Lucas and Rory discover they have more in common than they thought. Lust goes a long way to break down barriers and provide opportunities for shenanigans. They sure were fun to read.

This review is pretty barebones considering the vast number of choices I had to write about. There are way too many twists and turns, scenes of adventure, curiosity and the effect of other secondary characters on the hero and heroine to mention them all and do them justice.

The book’s title, The Scandalous Flirt, makes the novel sound shallow and fluffy. It’s not. There is a lot of heart, passion, depth and wonderful character development. There are crafty plots, dubious deals, preconceptions and amazing revelations. In short, this is a wonderful romance with a solid plot, interesting characters brought to life and a hero and heroine I really enjoyed getting to know. This is a wonderful romance novel to get lost in because it’s that good and I heartily recommend reading this story as soon as you can. I’m glad I did.

Dutch by Madhuri Pavamani


Dutch by Madhuri Pavamani
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (342 pgs)
Other: M/F, F/F/M, Anal sex, Multiple Partners, Masturbation
Rated: 3.5 stars
Review by Rose

I’ve spent years holed up in the deepest, darkest parts of the city, fighting to keep Death and her Poochas from crossing the dead back to the living. My skill with a blade is bested only by my menace, my despair, my anguish – the strongest weapons I yield.

Then I meet Juma Landry and it all goes to hell.

She is beauty and love and sex and light, everything I am not. And she makes me want things I haven’t desired in years. But the monsters of my life, the evil lurking in the dark corners of my soul, those places craven and vile, bind me to a past I cannot shake free. As the most skilled Keeper for The Gate, nothing and no one can prevent me from excelling at a job I never wanted. I do it because it is my legacy, a fate I cannot outrun, but when Juma becomes my next assignment, each of her nine lives to be ended by my hand, I must decide: the legacy I never wanted or the love I don’t deserve.

This is an adult fantasy and while it’s not labeled as erotic, in this reviewer’s opinion it should be. Before the principles meet, both male and female lead characters in this fantasy romance have engaged in multiple episodes of sex of various types (M/F, FFM, oral, anal, etc). Even after they meet and become cognizant of the attraction between each other, their sexual activities are not limited to the other. So, it’s important that the reader be aware of this, because I would hate for someone to pick up the book and not realize how much graphic sex there was.

That being said, the storyline is very interesting. We learn about Dutch, who is a Keeper of The Gate – the gate separating life and death. It is their job to keep those people who have died from coming back, by killing Death’s Poochas. This is an incredibly dark book, and does include some descriptions of torture.

Death is not the Death we normally think of– this Death is a very sexy woman who is very hedonistic and lives only for pleasure. She allows selected dead people to return to life – aided by her Poochas.

The main conflict comes in when Dutch and Juma (one of Death’s Poochas) meet and discover themselves to be soulmates only to discover that Dutch has been assigned to kill her.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this book, and you see both Dutch and Juma grow and change quite a bit. Though I was a bit dismayed by the darkness here, I was very invested in these characters. I enjoyed watching their development and look forward to seeing how Dutch and Juma resolve the difficulties that surround them.

FYI, this is the first book in the series and ends on a cliffhanger.

So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks


So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks
Embraced Series, #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (496 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Love at Stake series comes a novel of the Embraced—an epic tale of two star-crossed lovers destined for doom—or desire…

Growing up on the Isle of Moon, Brigitta knew that she was born with the magical powers of the Embraced—even if she did not know how to wield them. But she has finally learned the truth: Brigitta is the lost princess of the kingdom of Tourin. She was sent into hiding as an infant to escape the wrath of her half-brother, the king. And now he knows just where to find her. . .

Rupert is a notorious pirate and sorcerer. He’s spent most of his life plotting revenge on the evil king—and Rupert believes that Brigitta could be the key to finally destroying his enemy. But what begins as a kidnapping of the innocent beauty escalates into something deeper, and more passionate, than either captor or captive could have imagined. Rupert soon vows to protect Brigitta against the king—but will they survive long enough to find their happily-ever-after. . .or does fate have something else in store?

Well blow me down! That phrase is not exclusive to pirates. Not at all, in fact it’s a delightful twist in this series. With anyone who is Embraced in this world that Ms. Sparks has created, they find that they are endowed with unique powers, or curses depending on what side of the planet they live on. I know that Superman had a small talent for it but he had nothing on the hero of So I Married a Sorcerer. Rupert has a few tricks up his sleeve that Superman would envy.

The opening act of this hefty novel doesn’t give a reader a slow build up. One moment Brigitta is safe with her sisters as they go to visit their other sister who is about to have a baby and bam! The next thing I know, the heroine is kidnapped, and the adventure begins.

I wanted to give this tale a perfect rating like the first book but one tiny area held me back – I guessed what was going to happen! Granted, I probably couldn’t have done it without my reading the first book, but now that I know what the carry-over villain is capable of, I am seeking clues, hints and diabolical surprises. Yes, the heroine and hero were certainly bamboozled by the plans of the slippery criminal so they were surprised, but not me. The only other character that caught on earlier was Brody.

I like Brody. Brody is a fun character and his role and personality grows in this novel. I hope he gets a happy ever after some day. But I digress. Even though I figured out what was going to happen, I did get a short burst of shock when the choice of doppelganger was revealed. The one thing that really made me go, ‘Oooooh!’ was when Rupert had to seek out the final object to win the contest. It’s who they met that got the thinking gears whirring. And, sure enough, that tickling thread was pounced on later and created the absolute perfect hook for the next installment in the Embraced series. That’s going to be so COOL!

Rupert isn’t the only person who finds something important in this novel. No, Brigitta finds something too and it’s bittersweet. I can’t say what it is, but man, I wish something could be done to … fix or help that which was found. It broke my heart!

As for plot conflict, it’s a doozey, it’s effective and it’s encompasses a wide scale – sort of like the movies made by Cecil B. DeMille, the filmmaker. Okay so there were some areas that seemed to be too – perfect. I mean what were the odds that not one person, even the vile, ‘beady-eyed’ Hilda, noticed or suspected that Brigitta wasn’t as compliant, alone or as dumb as she lead them to believe? It worked for the story, and don’t get me wrong, I liked the outcome so I don’t want to rock the boat, but I did think that it was a bit too easy. Then again, if the suspense and stress were any more intense and sharp, I probably would have needed some chocolate therapy to recover. As it is, a glass of lemon/iced tea with lots and lots of ice was needed for when Brigitta and Rupert succumbed to their passions. As always, well written and fun to read.

Oh! I almost forgot! I really liked the full circle story arc! Yes, that was rather romantic and special and I adored the fact that Rupert, no matter how much time had passed, really didn’t shake that promise. He has such honor and integrity; he certainly wore the title of Hero well.

I didn’t talk much about Brigitta’s Embraced gift because I thought Rupert’s was way more impressive. True, hers played into the plot conflict rather well, but the hero’s talent rang my chimes. Can you tell?

On the whole, So I Married a Sorcerer is a magical follow-up to an amazing new world that is just beginning to unfold. Ms. Sparks has created a rich, vibrant, imaginative and adventurous series in which the possibilities are astounding. I can’t wait to find out what new Embraced gifts will be revealed and how they’ll be used. The one thing that seems to be clear is, the author’s heroes and heroines are reshaping their world for the better, and the villains are fighting it every inch of the way. So I Married a Sorcerer is how great storytelling is supposed to be – epic, grand, exciting and full of fiendish plots. Love wins as it should and the happy ever after left me smiling. Now, how long do I have to wait for the next book? Too long.

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi


I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (272 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch…until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.

Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge…but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?

Maddy Starling had it all. A beautiful house, fulfilling volunteer work, a successful husband and a beautiful daughter. She is the glue that holds her family’s world together. But when she commits suicide unexpectedly, everyone’s world is rocked to its core, leaving her family to wonder what they missed. How could they not have known she was so unhappy?

I Liked My Life is told through three alternating points of view – those of Maddy, the deceased mother who isn’t ready to let go of her family, Eve, the almost seventeen-year-old daughter, and Brady, the devoted if absent husband. Sometimes I’m wary of being in so many characters’ heads at one time, but this really works as you get a more complete view of how the family worked prior to Maddy’s suicide and the obstacles they now have to overcome.

This novel touched me in several ways. First, as the mother of two teenaged girls, I saw a lot of them in Eve. In her rebellion, her sarcasm, and her pain. I could also related to Eve’s situation as a daughter myself. I’m lucky enough to still have my mother in my life and couldn’t imagine what would have become of me if I’d lost her in my teens. I could also relate to Maddy’s view on her relationship both with her daughter and her husband. It’s such a fine balance between giving them a little leeway and letting them run all over you. Maddy seemed to have found the balance of power that worked for them all, even if she wasn’t always completely satisfied with the outcome.

I Liked My Life is a rollercoaster of emotions. There are moments that tug at your heartstrings, others that make you laugh or rage in anger. In the end, it’s a story of a life cut short and those that are left behind wondering what happened. It’s also a story about how life goes on and that through the pain, you can find happiness again.

How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks


How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (297 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father’s life.

Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage…until he discovers she’s vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?

If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?

Talk about a meaty piece of world building! Ms. Sparks has embarked on a new series and if it means to go on as it’s started, then this should be an adventure that fans are going to gobble up. There’s mystical prophecy, power plays, subterfuge, shape changers, ghosts, secrets and noble deeds. There’s an intricate plot of intrigue and deception and the heroine, Luciana is the focal point. She was innocent and ignorant of so many things about the world outside the Isle of Moon where she’s lived all her life. She’s known nothing else except her sisters. One clandestine visit from a surprise visitor leads the heroine onto a path she never imagined, and for readers, the adventure begins.

Ms. Sparks was meticulous about setting the stage for not just this book, but for all the novels to come. She did it in such a way that captured my interest and kept it. Secondary characters are slowly introduced and each one propelled the plot forward, contributed to the conflict or assisted in the eventual blossoming romance between Luciana and Leo. I enjoyed watching them fall in love; not the easiest thing to do amidst such mistrust and evil portents dogging their steps. Thank goodness for Leo’s stalwart friends, friends like Brody. I really liked him and he provided comic relief every now and again. But Brody isn’t a jester – he’s brave, courageous and loyal and has a lot of hero potential.

There’s a very clever evil dude that made quite an impression. He’s diabolical, wily and I bet he’s going to be a reoccurring pain in the neck for future heroes and heroines in the series. He’s unlike any villain I’ve seen so kudos to Ms. Sparks for introducing a convincing adversary.

What makes Leo such a fascinating hero is his…talent. It’s a very scary and powerful ability that has the power to kill everyone. That kind of puts a kink into any romantic plans he has or would ever have. How in the world did the author come up with such a surprising and effective work-around I can’t even begin to imagine. But it works, it’s amazing and it made perfect sense within the world that Ms. Sparks has created.

There is suspense, drama, action and even some humor. Of course, when Leo and Luciana finally stumble upon a way to love each other physically, the romance zooms off the charts into the stratosphere of pure satisfaction. Those scenes simultaneously made me smile (lightening rod) and swoon (romance and joy). They were SO good together!

There is absolutely no doubt that How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days is going to knock readers’ socks off. It has that wonderful storytelling voice that Ms. Sparks is known for, plus characters that are engaging, well rounded and vivid. I am an ecstatically happy reader and I’m looking forward to going wherever the author is going to take me next.

Stormchaser by Cherry Adair

Stormchaser by Cherry Adair
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (353 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

DESIRE RUNS DEEP

Somewhere off the coast of Greece, a king’s ransom in gold, emeralds, and silver coins lies waiting at the bottom of the sea. Finding this ancient treasure would be a dream come true for marine archeologist Calista West. But that’s not why she’s here. She didn’t climb aboard Jonah Cutter’s magnificent yacht seeking fortune or fame. She’s come for revenge—against the sexiest, most seductive, modern-day pirate she’s ever encountered…

Like his famous half brothers, Jonah is a master of salvaging ships—and driving women mad with his movie-star looks and raw animal magnetism. Tall, dark, and devastating, he manages to make Callie forget her mission. Every moment they share under the hot Mediterranean sun is an erotically-charged adventure neither can resist. But when Callie discovers what he’s really after—the lost city of Atlantis—is it too late to change the course of her heart…or go all in with the lover of her dreams?

Looking for Atlantis! Wow, so not what I expected. Stormchaser is third in a series. I wasn’t aware of this when I selected it, and I had no issue following the story, though–as always–it will likely be a richer experience if you’ve read the others.

This is my second Cherry Adair book, and she definitely has a “way” that she writes. Regardless of the storyline, attraction between the H/h is hot, erotic and immediate. Looking for a seriously sexy story? Look no further.

Jonah reminds me of any good, fictional “pirate”. Yes, he’s the captain of a ship, but I could picture him hundreds of years earlier underneath the skull and crossbones. Dark, strong, mysterious. However, he’s far to honorable for that.

Callie isn’t as honorable, and it took me some time to warm up to her. She’s on his ship on a lie, a big one, and it was tough for me to forgive her for it because I liked Jonah.

The premise of the book was interesting, too … I love the idea of potentially finding Atlantis. It’s this big mystery that lingers and makes a person wonder. Very well handled by the author.

The only hiccup I had was the lack of a true connection between Callie and Jonah. Heat? Oh yeah, in spades. Lots of sheet time here. But that little “spark” that makes a romance reader’s heart go pitty-pat? I didn’t feel it authentically.

Still, Ms. Adair’s writing is strong, descriptive and very clear and visual. I’m only just now finding her, but thankfully, she has a full backlist for me to explore. And I assuredly will.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin


Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (401 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”

Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. “They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.”

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.

Victoria was only eighteen when she became Queen. Her mother and her mother’s friend planned on running the kingdom for her and she could just look pretty. Victoria had no intention of doing that and make it plain on her Coronation Day that she would be the Queen and make the decisions. Since no one thought she’d do that, she wasn’t trained. It was a good thing she had a Prime Minister who could help her figure out the problems and gently guide her to practical solutions. She was smart and did well at making her own decisions but she was lacking on political experience. He helped with that.

This author’s words sing from the pages. It’s hard to take historical fact and make an interesting book but Ms. Goodwin has done just that. It feel like you are reading a Regency romance but it’s more impressive because it’s about the real Queen Victoria.

She has several successes in her life, but she’s not doing so well in love. She’s grown quite fond of her Prime Minister. He helps her find humor, makes meals a pleasure with her family, and goes on horse rides with her. When he learns she’s getting a little too fond of him, he tries to distance himself. He’s too old for her, but he’s fond of her, too. Sometimes you can’t have the one you love but you don’t forget them.

Her mother and her friend are trying to set her up with her cousin. She thinks he’s a lump and is not impressed. Of course, she last saw him three years ago and he’s a bit better with age. He still doesn’t hold a candle to the Prime Minister. And, being Queen, she’s the one who has to propose.

While she rules a country she loves and tries to help everyone around her, she also manages to get rid of her mother’s lover (who is against her) and she works out who and why she should marry.

This is history that is alive in the retelling. Ms. Goodwin’s words flow well, the story is well told and it’s very enjoyable to read. Victorian times weren’t boring.

Hit Man by Michele Mannon

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Hit Man by Michele Mannon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (300 pages)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

He always gets what he wants.

The seasoned seducer, who probably charms the panties off of every woman he meets. Diego is handsome. Arrogant. Dangerous. Far more dangerous than anyone I’ve ever met. And with one look from across a crowded room he has me; hook line and sinker, I’m his for the night.

Diego is not a man to mess with, I know that. I just can’t seem to resist his kiss, his touch. But can I trust him with my heart, with my body?

I’m being hunted for something I may or may not have seen, and Diego is my only way out of a world of death and destruction. If only I can believe his dark promises.

I absolutely loved this sexy, seductive and suspenseful book from Michele Mannon.

Aubrey came to Mexico with hopes of helping people but instead she stumbled into the middle of a very dangerous situation. Diego is a problem solver / hitman for TORC a secret government contractor. Aubrey kept bumbling into his mission and he kept saving her. Their chemistry was off the charts hot, flames instead of sparks, and the notorious seducer never knew what hit him.

I’m a huge fan of the Deadliest Lies Series and this book lived up to my every expectation. Diego and Aubrey were wonderful vibrant characters who immediately captured my attention with their passionate, sometimes comical, escapades. Diego was fascinated but at the same time suspicious of Aubrey. The sexy dirty talking hitman didn’t know quite what to expect from do gooder Aubrey. He tried hard but still broke the rules time and again to keep her safe.

Michele Mannon’s writing was excellent in this book. The plot was fast paced and intricate with surprises to keep me guessing until the end. I had a vivid picture of Diego and Aubrey in my imagination that gave me a real good “feel” for them. I saw Aubrey as a strong, but naive, funny soft hearted person, which is exactly the type of woman who could melt Diego’s heart. I liked her sense of humor, and tenacity and passion. I felt they were perfect for each other and was waiting for Diego to stop pushing Aubrey away for her own good though he made me wait a while for that to happen. Together they were the most fun couple that I’ve met during my romantic book travels.

Hit Man is the third book the DEADLIEST LIES SERIES. There’s no doubt this is my favorite so far and I happily recommend it to everyone. In the romantic suspense department this book is one of the best I’ve ever read. I loved it that much !