Warrior by Elsa Jade


Warrior by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #4

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (95 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

After the mating moon sets, the trouble is only beginning…

Thunder Cole may be the last of his kind. He’ll help his distant shapeshifter kindred with their werewolf hunter problem, but then he’s moving on — alone. Until he meets Elizabeth Rowan.

Bets became “Auntie Fate”, a fake psychic tarot reader, to support her orphaned niece, but she doesn’t believe in the woo-woo magical world. Until she meets Thunder Cole.

Both of them think their second chances are long gone. They couldn’t be more wrong. But a bitter enemy on a quest for vengeance against the wolves of Angels Rest may destroy everything they love.

A doubter will believe, a warrior will rise, and passion will rule the day.

Every now and again a book’s character surprises me. This is one of them. Most of the paranormal beings so far have been wolves but in Warrior there’s a new one in town and he’s a first. I’ve never read about his kind before in romance books and I am duly impressed.

Unfortunately for them but not for me, the external conflict continues from the Kingdom Guard. I didn’t expect the way in which it manifested and it was very suspenseful with lots of drama. I liked when the ‘troops’, the werewolves of Angels Rest, come together to try to rescue the heroine. Especially since the heroine is Elizabeth, the hippie, tarot-reading, sweet aunt of Darling from Rogue. She’s not a fighter but that doesn’t mean she’s not brave. She is.

Thunder is truly a yummy hero. It might have a lot to do with how Ms. Jade created his character. I enjoyed all the scenes with his motorcycle because of how they were written. I also felt for the guy because he is so alone. He has honor, loyalty and crazy skills but he’s a loner, a drifter that goes around helping people when they need it without belonging anywhere. I was so pleased that he found an anchor in the community of Angels Rest. That, of course, has a lot to do with the heroine.

Like the previous three in the series, when Thunder and Bets, as he likes to call her, get together physically, it’s detailed, sexy, steamy hot and well written. What I appreciate about the sexy scenes is that the story is not thin as an excuse for sex. Nope, it’s to showcase just how combustible the hero and heroine are together, and to show just how vested they both are to each other’s safety because they are falling in love. It’s a solid romance with a wonderful conflict and challenge to overcome. At one point the emotions inspired by the conflict was intense. I was glued to the pages.

Even though this is a novella, Ms. Jade continues the series with the skill of a master by delivering a full-bodied, thoroughly satisfying solid romance story that reads like a full-sized novel. There are gems of dialogue and descriptions sprinkled all through the tale and many are pure word magic.

At the end of the book there is a tidbit about the next book in the series and I simply have to have it. Why? Because it’s about one of the victims of the Kingdom Guard. What they did to him was heinous. So how and who can heal him is the a very effective hook. Consider the book bought.

Warrior is another winner and a must read. I am loving this series so hard it’s awesome. The quality of the writing remains solid, even in this fourth installment. So far this series has rocked my world and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Rogue by Elsa Jade


Rogue by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #3

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (84 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

The mating moon is full…

Rafael Villalobos is a werewolf without his wolf. The beast is rogue, gone hunting without him, making Rafe even more of a menace to his pack than the wolf hunters who hate them. He doesn’t know what the wolf wants…until it leads him straight to the sassy, luscious Darling Rowan.
Bitten by a rogue wolf that may or may not have been the sexiest Villalobos boy, Dare knows her quiet days as the county librarian are coming to an end. She’ll be coming too, if she can just get a certain stubborn man to admit that the simmering heat between them is more than the mating moon.

How can I be so lucky? Rogue is Bas’s brother’s story. Rafael, or Rafe as he’s commonly referred as, is the hero in this novella and I finally find out what was making him ornery in the previous book, Joker.

Can a heart break for a book hero? If so it would for Rafe. What happened to him as a child is so sad and tragic, but something worse is happening to him now and no one seems to know what to do or how to help him. He’s a hero in crisis and he’s close to accepting his dire fate. Thing is, after ‘meeting’ him in Hero & Rogue I know he’s not a bad guy. He’s loyal and the best brother and cousin Bas and Kane could have but they can’t stop what is happening. That was an effective hook that I could not resist, nor could I put the book down once I started reading.

Darling, or Dare as she likes to be called, is a secondary character from the beginning but this time she’s front and center as the heroine. This little librarian is about to have the adventure of a lifetime. She had hints that something was different about her best friend, and the man she secretly had the hots for, Rafe. The reality and facts were violently revealed, dumping Dare into a possible future like nothing she ever imagined. Will she embrace it? She’d better because if she doesn’t Rafe is lost – lost to everyone including himself. Yes, my emotions were definitely engaged with Dare and Rafe’s story. This was a one sitting read. Powerful and fascinating.

There’s a new villain in town and the scope of their revolting agenda become apparent in this tale. It’s effective and well written. Once again, Ms. Jade’s choice of vocabulary is succinct, evocative and created a sense of being there with Rafe and Dare fighting for their lives. There’s not a slow scene in the entire book. In fact everything single thing in this novella worked for me – including their romance.

Rogue is once again another gem in this series. I love the writing style, the voice and the personalities every character has – unique, special and memorable. It’s another must read, a keeper like the first two in the series and I’m loving every moment visiting Angels Rest. At this point I think reading in order is helpful because every book seems to start in the previous one, creating a continuity of community and an intense story arc from the external conflict. I am one very satisfied fan. I can’t wait to see who is next!

Joker by Elsa Jade


Joker by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #2

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (78 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A ‘Mating Season’ novella.

Leela Jones had a mission: kill a werewolf. Instead, she was captured by one. Now Bastian Villalobos, bad boy of the Mesa Diablo pack, has a werewolf hunter on his hands. Wolf shifters and hunters have always been mortal enemies. But under the hungry light of the mating moon, they might be lovers too.

I hoped that this next story in the series after Hero was going to be good and all my hopes were realized. This novella is just as powerful, well written and entertaining as the first book. Joker picks up where the first book left off – with the captured assassin. The suspense and drama is more prevalent in this one and I enjoyed every surprise, shock and revelation.

Once again, there is a strong hero, Bastien, and a heroine worthy of him, Leela. In this story the emotional factor is through the roof. I guess I refer to the brave stand towards the end that had unexpected consequences. My heart was in my throat. Everything that happened in the novella built up to that final climactic and intense chapter that had me biting a nail, or two.

Before the serious wrap up there was all the turmoil of a werewolf falling in love with the hunter that had set out to kill him and his kind. I enjoyed how Ms. Jade made it all work out. Once again there is the mysticism of Mesa Diablo that enhances the believability factor that love can happen that fast if it’s meant to be. The romance is strong and wonderful.

Ms. Jade continues to wow me with her choice of descriptives. They provide a flavor and presence unique to the main characters and their romance. I enjoyed their dialogue, their interaction between family members and townsfolk and their pack. It all worked for me.

Joker is a wonderful romance. This short story is rich in substance and brilliant in its ability to embrace all the aspects a reader seeks in a great romance story. Yes, the sexual build up between Bas and Leela was hot, their coming together was hotter, but what I found incredibly sexy was what the hero revealed to Leela. Joker is delightful and not to be missed.

Hero by Elsa Jade


Hero by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #1

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (73 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A wandering werewolf returns to town during the mating season to become pack leader and reunites for one last fling with the high school crush he left behind, unaware of how short their time together might be…
________________________________

Maddie Joplin left the high desert town of Angels Rest with the searing memory of her one night in the arms of the local golden boy nipping at her heels. Now, years later, she’s back, haunted by a need she couldn’t outrun and determined to finally set herself free from wishes that can never come true.

In the army, Kane Villalobos traveled the world, seeking other shapeshifters who’d learned to live in harmony with human, only to find secrecy and death. He’s destined to become alpha of the Mesa Diablo pack, but he can’t forget the lush curves and quick mouth of the girl he had to leave behind. Seeing her again arouses his wolf in dangerous ways, and keeping her safe—from himself and the perils of the werewolf world—might mean letting her go forever.

I’ve discovered a new addiction. The way Ms. Jade presented this world was immediately engaging with the first chapter. It’s always daunting when any author has to present to a reader their world building without sounding like it’s telling and not showing. What Ms. Jade showed me is that her heroine is strong and a good match for an equally strong hero and I enjoyed the aspect of second chances. There’s a mysticism that is woven throughout in addition to the paranormal aspect that together created a heady mix of perfection. I liked learning about their customs, beliefs, history and the secrets they keep. I learned all of that as Maddie, the heroine, put all the clues together to discover the impossible.

Kane is hunky, hard-bodied, willing and able to protect those he loves and he’s all alpha. Maddie is a good match for him and I really enjoyed watching them peel away the past to uncover their potential future. They just have to survive being hunted. The external conflict worked very well too.

The heat of their attraction and passion, and the figurative fireworks that erupts when they are skin to skin is so sexy it’s swoon-worthy. The bedroom door is wide open for those few times they explore each other in great detail but the bulk of the novella is their growing relationship, the plot that provided some drama and suspense, and the wonderful cast of characters that populate the town of Angels Rest.

One thing that surprised me about Hero was that for a short novella, the impact it made on me was as effective as a full 150 page novel. Everything balanced, everything worked, I got all the character building I needed to feel connected, engaged and vested in their happiness and safety. I am impressed.

Here’s something else that I have to mention – Ms. Jades’ word choice in dialogue and/or descriptions. I am simply astonished and delighted with so many turns of phrases and how she ‘showed’ me certain things, whether it be a person or a place or an event, in such a way that I could get a clear picture in my head of what she was trying to convey. Some authors show with words, Ms. Jade paints. Her canvas is ablaze with imagery that jumps off of the pages in Hero.

I do love me some great secondary characters and this novella gave me more than I expected. In fact, I was so completely hooked on Kane’s cousins that even before I ended this first book in the series I went book shopping and automatically ordered the next two. I am convinced that if the others are as good as this first introduction to Ms. Jade’s writing, I am going to be in reader nirvana. I’m a very happy, excited and tickled-pink reader. If you have never read this book, you are missing out. Hero is a short book that reads like a full length adventure and I highly recommend it to fans of hot paranormal romantic suspense readers, or just regular fans of paranormal romances. Can you tell I’m enamored?

One Night in Minneapolis by Margie Church


One Night in Minneapolis by Margie Church
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (42 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Marine Major Skylar Landis doesn’t resemble the demure Catholic high school girl Vince Andersen once knew. They’d dated briefly until she’d patch things up with his nemesis, Ethan Standfeld. After school, she joined the Marines and they’d lost touch.

Their ten year class year reunion in Minneapolis brings Skylar face-to-face with Vince, awakening her memories of the past. She asks him to plan a hot, no-strings-attached hook-up to sustain her sexual fantasies while her intelligence unit is deployed to the Middle East. As their adventure unfolds, and he gives her exactly what she needs, Skylar wonders whether she can forget the man who put her desires first and asked for nothing in return.

This is an erotic little nugget that presents to a reader the start of something wonderful. Its basis is two people coming together for a high school reunion and getting the chance to do something they’d never really had a chance to do when they were in school – not only be with each other but to explore all that that might entail. At this stage in their lives, it’s not for dating as immature kids but coming together as adults with adult needs, expectations and fantasies.

Although the very beginning starts of slow with more telling than showing, it’s not long before the author finds her stride and the interest, spice and character dynamics take hold to provide a very entertaining read.

For fans of erotic romance, all their hot buttons should be satisfied because Ms. Church knows how to blast open the bedroom door so wide that all the sexy and passionate details are there for readers to enjoy. The word ‘shy’ isn’t in Vince or Skylar’s vocabulary.

What I enjoyed was seeing hints and references that this 24 hour marathon of uninhibited sex isn’t as shallow as the beginning led me to believe. The two have a history and it provides a good base to start with. I liked how Vince treated Skylar – his sense of humor, his willingness to try whatever she wanted and his caring for her. Yes, he has a hard time keeping his emotional distance as the hours go on, because that’s what the heroine wanted, but his slipping up here and there is what makes this little story work. I saw that Skylar wasn’t immune no matter how much she wanted to be. Through the course of all their sheet gymnastics, the interaction at the reunion and the visit to Vince’s home, Skylar is faced with the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Vince is worth taking a chance on. I got the impression that a little seed of wonder and hope might have been planted. It’s how the author chose to wrap up One Night in Minneapolis that made reading this short story worth it. The ending left me feeling happy, optimistic and assured that a romance is born. Because of that, this is an easy recommend of One Night in Minneapolis to other erotic romance readers.

How Hard Can It Be? by Robyn Peterman


How Hard Can It Be? by Robyn Peterman
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspsense
Length: Full Length (278 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

One happy ending coming right up…

What happens when an accountant decides to grab life by the horns and try something new? Apparently a pirate named Dave, a lot of pastel fleece, and blackmail—just to start with…

Visualize and succeed, Oprah said. I was sure as hell trying, even if my campaign to score a job as the local weather girl had ended in a restraining order. Okay, TV was not my strength. But a lack of talent has never stopped me before. Which is why I’ve embarked on a writing career. I mean, how hard can it be to come up with a sexy romance?

Leave it to me to wind up in a group of grandmotherly porno writers who discuss sex toys and apple cobbler in the same breath. Also leave it to me to leak an outlandish plot idea to a bestselling author with the morals of a rabid squirrel. And only I could get arrested for a jewelry heist I didn’t commit—by a hunky cop whose handcuffs just might tempt me to sign up for a life of crime. Maybe I’ve found my calling after all…

I had a hard time starting off writing this review because I just didn’t know quite where to start. Do I mention the cringe-worthy giggles, the bust-a-gut laughter, the blushing snickers, the eye-popping ‘I Can’t Believe I Just Read That!’ shock or I need a tray of ice cubes because the sex is so hot while alternating to giggling at the ridiculous snafus the heroine gets herself into? My emotions were all over the place while reading How Hard Can It Be?. I can say with all confidence that I have never, ever, in all my years of reading come across a villain as … colorful, creepy, coarse, corrupt and comical as the one in this novel. I could not believe my eyes. The villain also inspires awesome alliteration.

Seriously though, I can’t be serious. Yes there is the mystery of what kind of information the villain has on Rena’s new writer friends that they’ve been blackmailed for almost twenty years; yes there is the fact the heroine has to be arrested for violating a restraining order; yes there are mysteries that abound that though different in nature are the binding that holds the book together and allows for all the hijinks and hilarity to have reason to exist. Even with all those potentially heavy and dire conflicts, Ms. Peterman kept me on the edge of my seat with suspense. Not for something bad to happen, but for the next madcap adventure, over-the-top description or comment, or Rena’s internal dialogue as she tries to make sense of the alien world of writers that she’s stumbled upon. Don’t EVEN get me started on the book, Pirate Dave and His Randy Adventures I’d fall off of my chair and never get up.

I had to classify this book under the erotic genre only because it overwhelmed me with sexual weirdness. How does a person use a garden gnome or garden tools for sex? BDSM references and jokes bounded off my eyeballs like ping pong balls. And please don’t ever mention silly putty to me – I’ll never look at it the same way ever again. But handcuffs are definitely all right, even more than alright if Jack is the one wielding them because he is so sexy and hot and he knows what he’s doing. Oh my!

If a reader is uncomfortable with the F-bomb being used as a verb, noun and adjective, then be warned. The F-bomb practically does calisthenics in this story.

There are a ton of surprises in store for readers because most every character in the novel isn’t quite what they seem. Nothing is as they believed and the truth is just as bizarre. But not as bizarre as the villain’s decorating taste. That has to be read to be believed.

How Hard Can It Be? is a solid romance because there is a happy ever after that is as grin inducing as the rest of the novel. Ms. Peterman has a wild imagination that is stunning. I guess this is book one of a trilogy; the other two involve Rena’s friend and Kristy’s eventual love’s sister. I’d read the second book first so it’s a safe bet that the three novels can be read in any order. However, now that I’ve read all of them, the little innuendos and subtext in the other two books make so much more sense that I feel like I should read them all in order to get the full effect. That would not be a hardship. I just need to make sure that I leave myself plenty of time for my reading pleasure. If readers are in the mood for hilarious kinkiness woven through a fun romance, then this is the book to try. Just watch out for the aliens in Aunt Phyllis’ toaster.

Invincible by Diana Palmer


Invincible by Diana Palmer
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (302 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

He’s everything she fears…and everything she wants

Mercenary by name and by nature, Carson is a Lakota Sioux who stays to himself and never keeps women around long enough for anything emotional to develop. But working with his friend Cash Grier on a complex murder investigation provides Carson with another kind of fun—shocking Cash’s sweet but traditional secretary, Carlie Blair, with tales of his latest conquests.

Then Carlie lands in deep trouble. She saw something she shouldn’t have, and now the face of a criminal is stored permanently in her photographic memory…and Carlie is the key piece of evidence that could implicate a popular politician in the murder case.

Her only protection is Carson—the man she once despised. But when she learns that Carson is more than just a tough guy, Carlie realizes she’s endangered herself further. Because now her only chance to live means losing her heart to the most dangerous kind of man….

Ahhh! That’s the sweet sound of vindication. The overall story arc of the bad guy messing with the alpha guys of Wyoming is concluded after the end of the very satisfying journey in Invincible.

If a reader has read Wyoming Bold then they might remember meeting Carson then because that’s where Merissa had a vision about him. It comes to pass in this novel and what’s amazing is, it’s not the truth. I mean it is, but it’s not. I didn’t find out which until almost the end of this novel. It’s pretty cool!

In this novel I found out a lot about Carson and it’s fascinating. The story is told mostly from the heroine’s point of view. When Carlie found out about stuff, then so did I but where I only thought ‘wow’, she reacted with lots of emotion depending on the subject matter.

Carson was a tough nut to crack but the men in Carlie’s life, from her dad to Cash to Rourke, all knew where the hero was coming from because they had various levels of the same experience. They gave him advice as only guys could. It would have been too easy if Carson took the advice. The hero had to work things out for himself. And, while taking his time to process things, had numerous opportunities for heart attacks because of events that affected Carlie. One of them eventually was his wake-up call.

Carlie is a morally strong, faith-filled young woman with a demanding job, a loving father and an unrequited love for Carson. She finds out that she’s not above temptation when it comes to the hero, that her dad isn’t quite as quiet and unassuming as she first believed and Carson isn’t as unaffected by her as she thinks. For all her strengths she has a few flaws. She’s forgetful which allows for some suspenseful moments, and she expresses her emotions easily and profusely. Most times it’s endearing and helpful to the plot, but there are a couple of times they were a bit over-the-top and irritating. And what’s the deal behind all that harping about her ‘ratty’ coat? Don’t they have a Goodwill or Salvation Army in the area or within driving distance? If I can find a suit jacket for $3 at a regular store’s end of season blowout clearance sale (I didn’t get it because it was a purple plaid) why couldn’t she find a better cheap coat? Her financial situation didn’t jive with the purchase of her dress or other things I noted during the novel. There’s something off when a father has the type of vehicle Carlie’s dad has and what he leaves her to drive.

I really did like the suspense, drama and mild action that came from chasing down the bad guys and figuring out who was in danger by whom. Those scenes were effectively and powerfully written.

The novel is mostly sensual. There’s lots of heat and pent up sexual frustration and passion between Carlie and Carson but it’s only towards the end that readers get a peek behind the bedroom door. It’s enough to know that the hero and heroine are a satisfyingly combustible mix.

Invincible was a one day, don’t want to leave my chair don’t bother me, read. I even passed on watching my favorite Heath Ledger movie, A Knight’s Tale, so I could finish reading the last few intense and action packed dramatic chapters of Invincible. That’s about the best endorsement a book can get. I enjoyed myself immensely, I adored the happy ever after and I truly believe a lot of other readers will like this book too.

Size Matters by Robyn Peterman


Size Matters by Robyn Peterman
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Contemporary, Comedy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (290 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A few hard truths…Don’t bet on Hasselhoff, Bigfoot might actually exist, and searching for the impossible may lead you to your heart’s desire…

It’s a big fat hairy deal when I lose yet another bet to my best friend, Rena. Not only do I end up attending Bigfoot meetings with her kooky Aunt Phyllis, I find myself traveling with a band of reality TV, Sasquatch-hunting nut-jobs! Not to mention a suspiciously shady film crew. As if those little nuggets weren’t enough to send me on the express-train to Crazytown…I stupidly swore off men!

Clearly all this would mess up any gal’s social life, but the worst part of the story? The minute I send my libido on vacation, I meet Mitch. Yep, Mitch, the sexiest cop ev-ah. The hottest, best kissing, finest tushied, SINGLE guy I’ve ever laid eyes on. I’d rather be hot on his trail than anything that involves the word Big or Foot. But sometimes what you’re hunting for has been right in front of you all along …

I was looking for a book that could make me laugh, one that entertained and one that has a romance that worked. Size Matters is the first book written by Ms. Peterman that I’ve ever read. I can assure you that it won’t be the last. I was shopping for a quick read and the blurb caught my eye. I sneaked a peek at some of the reviews and every one I looked at mentioned laughter, hilarity and an HEA. So, I took a chance. This novel exceeded my wildest expectations and was a reading experience unlike any other in recent memory. Ms. Peterman is going on my list of “Newly Discovered Addicting Authors” of which there are only a handful and a half.

The primary charm of Size Matters is the dialogue. The story is first person point of view of Kristy, the heroine. She has an unusual way of expressing herself. Profanity has never been so colorful, inventive or fun. The two secondary characters that give the heroine a run for her money in the potty mouth department are two old ladies that are as salty as sardines. Add in some short jaw dropping, eye popping, giggle inducing chapters from Pirate Dave and His Randy Adventures and a reader is hard pressed not to laugh out loud in an embarrassingly boisterous way. What that means is, hope you don’t read this in a public place unless you are okay with people looking at you funny while you are snorting, giggling and turning beet red. I did all three – but in the safety of my own home.

Even though I did figure out who was who much earlier than the heroine, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. It was entertaining to see how long and in what way Kristy figured things out. It got emotional at one point, but I took to heart Boo’s prediction.

Speaking of Boo – the cast of secondary characters are gems in this novel’s treasure chest of personalities. Every single person is unique and has strengths of their own that contribute to the overall success of this book. Did I say unique? That’s an understatement.

The hero in the book is Mitch. Every time he shows up with Kristy, I get the biggest kick out of her reaction. If anyone doesn’t believe that it’s possible to react as described when Kristy claps eyes on Mitch, they should watch the interaction between Heath Ledger and Sharon Strzelecki before the AFI awards in 2006. THAT is how I envision the heroine’s level of response to Mitch. It’s satisfactorily grin worthy.

As for the plot, it’s starts off zany and turns dicey but it never turns dark. The suspense is compacted into the culmination of all the clues coming together in the final exciting chapters. At that point the suspense is nail-biting, dramatic, intense and effective. The mystery of the mysterious goings on gets solved in a powerful wrap up.

The sparks singe a reader when Kristy and Mitch get physical. Now, when I think of handcuffs, I’ll think of Mitch. That scene was so seductive, if I wasn’t sitting while reading, I’d have been on the floor. Too bad it was short lived. It did, however, illustrate just how combustible and perfect the heroine and hero are for each other.

Seriously, Size Matters is an example of a spectacular storytelling style that is as addicting, entertaining and romantic as one could wish. Ms. Peterman has garnered herself a new fan. I. am. wowed.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James


When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Historical
Length; Full Length (270 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she’s betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.

Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love—in just two weeks.

Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?

I like this version on the theme of Beauty and the Beast because it’s not so much about the outside, but the inside of a person. Believe it or not Piers and Linnet took turns at being both beauties and beasts. It wasn’t all about personalities as it was about emotional scars from their past. They both took different paths in dealing with the adversity that life threw at them. The hero’s was to be sarcastic, cutting and grumpy, the heroine’s was to don an emotional mask, wielding flirtation like a sword in order to keep her heart protected. They are more similar than not but different enough to make things interesting.

I actually enjoyed watching their relationship grow – their dialogue, their exchanges of personal information, their conflicts and their resolutions. I especially liked when Piers finally seduced Linnet because the heat and passion was off the charts. I relished the idea of her lust being awakened to the point that it overpowered Piers’ resistance to her and he succumbed as well. It was rather beautiful to see. It wasn’t all sunshine and flowers, however. There was a dark side to the relationship which was exacerbated by an external conflict that really tested their fledging association.

This novel is told in the third person from both Piers’ and Linnet’s point of view. There is a small section that tells part of the story from one of the secondary characters POV but it is sort of a resolution of a secondary romance. It was rather sweet and it tied in perfectly to the main love story.

I despaired of Piers ever getting out of his own way though. I liked him, I truly did but sometimes he was just too sarcastic and afraid. Yes, for all his brave talk and manliness, he was fallible. I guess that made him approachable in a way but a few times, not.

There is a very intense and emotionally nerve wracking chapter or two that completely engaged me and had me at the edge of my seat. I’m happy to say that I survived the reading but what an effective bit of writing! It was at that point that Piers showed how much of a true hero he was.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast is a wonderful historical romance that satisfied me because the happily ever after was perfect and thorough. I was entertained, engaged and I turned the last page with a smile on my face. I have no problem recommending this novel to other historical romance readers. It’s a treat.

Between A Wolf and a Hard Place by Terry Spear


Between A Wolf and a Hard Place by Terry Spear
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (318 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

In Silver Town, the secrets run deep…

Alpha werewolf Brett Silver has an ulterior motive when he donates a prized family heirloom to the Silver Town hotel. Ellie MacTire owns the place with her sisters, and he’s out to get her attention.

Ellie is even more special than Brett knows. She’s a wolf-shifter with a unique ability to commune with the dead. Ellie has been ostracized, so she protects herself and those she loves by revealing nothing-not even when strange and dangerous things begin to happen in Silver Town. And especially not to the devastatingly handsome and generous wolf who’s determined to win her over…

This is a classic romance story that focuses on the characters more than any outside influence. It’s an easy read, entertaining and filled with memorable secondary characters. The most interesting ones were the ghosts. I really enjoyed the means with which Ms. Spear had one ghost communicate with both Elli and Brett.

I liked how some scenes were flavored with holiday references because it showed the characters had imagination and enthusiasm about life in general. They weren’t hokey by any means. Their optimism provided a warm, friendly environment that if it were real, I’d like to visit. Most certainly, I’d love to stay at an inn decorated with themes like the kind Elli and her sisters created at their place. I didn’t put ‘holiday’ as a genre because it didn’t exactly play a specific role. It was just a means for Brett to find time and ways to woo Elli and the best access is to help her decorate. I wish Brett could come and hang MY holiday lights – he was so efficient and energetic about it. It’s amazing how a man can be inspired to do even the most mundane things to impress a lady. The question is, does it work the way he expects? You have to read it to find out.

There is supposed to be a mystery woven throughout the novel, but I wasn’t impressed by it. What I mean is, it didn’t make me want to flip the pages any faster to find out a clue or because I was experiencing the effects of suspense and drama. I didn’t and I wasn’t. What kept me entertained was Elli’s and Brett’s romance and watching them overcome their internal issues and insecurities to discover that their love was real and true.

There was a wonderful sensual build up that finally culminated in their mating. By the time it happened, I was more than ready to see them commit to each other. So was everyone else. It was kind of cute.

Between A Wolf and a Hard Place is a well told romance story that focuses on Elli and Brett. It’s their romantic journey that carries the plot through to its happy ever after. The sense of community and familial love and support from both their families gave this book a warm and fuzzy ambiance that enhanced my reading pleasure. It’s a sweet, spicy read with personality and charm. That’s why I liked it.