Mind Games by AJ Graham


Mind Games by AJ Graham
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Rafael has been called many things throughout time — demon, fairy, monster — but even he has no idea what he truly is. The only thing he knows for sure is that he’s not human… and that he can influence the minds of those around him without even trying.

He hides in plain sight, making a living as a magician and stage hypnotist, allowing his audiences to assume that his feats of mind-reading are mere illusion. Most humans succumb easily to his powers of persuasion, but when his very presence robs people of free will, it’s hard to truly get close to anyone.

When he meets Carrie, a strong-willed and wounded woman uniquely resistant to his abilities, Rafael is intrigued. But Carrie fears his powers. She won’t easily open up to him, but he’s determined to get into her head.

A hardheaded woman and a mystery man…

I’ve read other books by AJ Graham and liked them, so when I saw this one, I had to pick it up. I’m glad I did. Carrie and Rafael are great together. I liked that she didn’t just give in to him. He had to work for her. It was relatable and fun.

This is a short story, so it got wrapped up a bit fast, but it was perfect for an afternoon read. I liked the heat, too. Rafael and Carrie really scorch the page. I liked that he had to work for her affection and that she wasn’t really interested in him right away.

If you’re looking for something hot and short, then this might be the book for you. I recommend it.

Stolen Bride by Samantha Cayto


Stolen Bride by Samantha Cayto
Treaty Brides, Book 3
Publisher: Pride Publishing, Totally Entwined
Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, LGBTQ, Erotic Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Being a bride is a state of mind, not of body.

Prince Ronan of Moorcondia knows he is one of the luckiest boys alive. As the king’s second son, he has status and wealth without the heavy weight of the crown. Every man admires his hedonistic ways, but his behavior masks a shame that he feels. What he really desires is a quiet life with a man whom he can love.

Jarl Tarben is on a mission to save his people from starvation. Efforts to forge a treaty with Moorcondia have come to naught. In a desperate bid, Tarben has been tasked with abducting Ronan and forcing him into marriage. As distasteful and dishonorable as the scheme is, duty demands that he obey. He refuses to bed the prince by force, however, leaving it Ronan’s choice.

Ronan vows not to succumb to the temptation that Tarben presents. Pride alone dictates that he remain chaste, even as he grows closer to the barbarian. Tarben is everything Ronan ever dreamed of, and the lure of him grows stronger with each day that politics keeps them together.

When unseen forces threaten to consume them both, they must put aside pride and join forces to protect both their peoples.

Two men, one problem and a sexy solution.

I haven’t read a book like this in a while and I’m glad. This one was a breath of fresh air. The fantasy was well done and kept my interest throughout. I liked the setting and felt like I was there. This isn’t the first book by Samantha Cayto that I’ve read, and it won’t be the last.

Ronan and Jarl are great together. The beginning and the circumstances where they’re supposed to get together are a bit sketchy, in a good way. I liked how the author wrote them and the way they handled the various situations. Jarl and Ronan are great together and I wanted more of them. I liked the push-pull and couldn’t get enough of them.

If you’re looking for a book that’s hot and fun while being fantastical, then this is the one for you. Check it out!

Hurricane Ryan by Katya Summers


Hurricane Ryan by Katya Summers
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Carly
I never planned on becoming a lifeguard at Sea Side Cove, but now it’s the one thing that’s right in my life. At least until the new guy shows up, and throws me off my game. Ryan’s the most amazing man I’ve ever met.

There’s just one problem. I’m not available.

My relationship is complicated at best. I haven’t been happy in a long time, but I owe Travis. I can’t just walk out on him. And if Ryan knew the truth, he wouldn’t want me anyway.

Now if I can just convince him of that.

Ryan
I’ve never met anyone like Carly. This tiny little spitfire is the most determined woman I’ve ever met. She’s been dealt a bad hand in life and I’m determined to convince her she deserves better. But when Sea Side finds itself in the path of a Category 5 hurricane, I have to do more than convince her. I have to save her when she runs off into the storm.

Coworkers to friends to lovers with elements of forbidden romance. First person, dual POV. A standalone suspense romance with a guaranteed Happily Ever After and no cliffhanger. Carly and Ryan flirt, but she never cheats. Recommended for readers ages 18 and up.

Two lifeguards, a hurricane and a burning desire between them. What can go wrong?

Plenty.

I picked up this book because the premise caught me. Lifeguards, a hurricane…simmering romance. It sounds like a great read. So I picked it up. I’m glad I did. These characters were fresh and fun. Carly is determined and seemed to have a lot go wrong for her. She’s relatable. Sometimes life just gives you a gigantic turd and it’s up to you to figure out how to handle it. How she does is interesting and relatable. I liked Ryan, too. He’s sweet and seems almost too perfect. He’s the quintessential romance hero. For sheer fantasy, he’s the one.

There were times when the writing wasn’t my cuppa, but it was the cadence of the sentences that drew me out of the story a few times. That might not be a deterrent for everyone, but it was for me. There were moments I questioned what Carly did and the lots life threw at her, but again, not everyone will feel this way.

If you’re looking for a romance where there’s hope and sweetness while in the midst of a hurricane, then this might be the one for you.

Run, Rose, Run by James Patterson and Dolly Parton


Run, Rose, Run by James Patterson and Dolly Parton
Publisher: Little Brown and Co
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

From America’s most beloved superstar and #1 New York Times bestselling author James Patterson comes a thriller about a young singer-songwriter on the rise—and on the run—and determined to do whatever it takes to survive.

Every song tells a story.

She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her.

She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past.

Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny. It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her. And destroy her.

Run, Rose, Run is a novel glittering with danger and desire—a story that only America’s #1 beloved entertainer and its #1 bestselling author could have created.

Dolly Parton’s written a book? With James Patterson? Sold.

I picked up this book because it was highly recommended. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything else by James Patterson and I was a bit skeptical going into this one. I wanted to like it because Dolly Parton is well…Dolly Parton. The writing is decent. It moved along rather well and kept my interest, but the chapters are very short, so it has no choice but to go quickly.

I liked Ruthanna and could see Dolly Parton all over that character. I could hear her in the character’s voice and mannerisms, so that was great. I liked the interplay between AnnieLee and Ethan, too. They made a good couple.

That said, I wasn’t a fan of AnnieLee. Her trajectory is rather…it took a lot to suspend my disbelief. It’s like she never does manage a wrong step with her career. She has talent, that’s not to be argued, but she gets a lot of breaks a lot of others wouldn’t get.

I had a hard time with the suspense portion of the book, too. At times, it was too vague and at others, seemed like it didn’t fit. Maybe it was just me, but it felt like two books put together and cobbled into one. There seemed to be a lot of repetition in the book, too.

That said, there’s a sweet romance between AnnieLee and Ethan. I liked that. And there’s a CD of music that goes along with the book that’s Parton’s music, which is fantastic.

If you’re looking for a mystery and a romance that’s got a touch of country, then this might be the one for you.

Penshaw by LJ Ross


Penshaw by LJ Ross
Publisher: Dark Skies Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

When you sell your soul, the devil gives no refunds…

When an old man is burned alive in a sleepy ex-mining village, Detective Chief Inspector Ryan is called in to investigate. He soon discovers that, beneath the facade of a close-knit community, the burn from decades-old betrayal still smoulders. When everyone had a motive, can he unravel the secrets of the past before the killer strikes again?

Meanwhile, back at Northumbria CID, trouble is brewing with rumours of a mole in Ryan’s department. With everyone under suspicion, can he count on anybody but himself?

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

When an old man is burned alive in his small, village home DCI Ryan first things it should be a fairly simple case. Only he quickly discovers there is plenty of decades-old tension simmering just under the surface and a number of old grudges and betrayals that have never really been put to rest. Also, with a number of the police divisions merging together – lines are blurring, and DCI Ryan’s team are no longer exactly who is trustworthy and who might have sinister other agendas.

I found this to be an interesting and decently plotted police procedural type of mystery story. There is a bit of romance in the sidelines between some of the main characters – two sets of very well-established couples and Jack and Mel are trying to sort out will they or won’t they take that plunge. I found the two main mystery plots to be very well written and solid additions to the story but found myself a bit disappointed with the whole Jack/Mel situation. Without giving too much away I found them both to act a bit immaturely – with Mel throwing a number of Jack’s previous mistakes in his face during an argument and Jack knowing he was in a bit over his head and refusing to reach out to Frank or Ryan to even get their advice – let alone ask for help. While each problem is excusable, it really felt to me like they were both showing how immature and not sensible they were being, particularly considering the fact they’ve each been in similar situations before and clearly not learned anything from it. It soured me a little on them both which was a shame.

That said I thought the arson investigation was a solidly written plot and I enjoyed the way the author linked the small mining town back to the past and really captured the feeling of both the residents in a small village like that and the way wounds can fester over time. I also thought the tensions and inter-office conflict with a number of the various police forces coming together and needing to work together as a unit was exceptionally well handled. With so many different groups – all having worked in their own divisions and teams for so long – and so many different dynamics and ego’s all being crammed together and suddenly needing to share and co-exist the drama and issues really felt well-handled and realistic. It added a lot of conflict and drama to the interactions and story without feeling as if plot devices were being dragged around the regular team and dynamics and things being added just to create tension. I thought it was a good idea and will be interested to see how it unfolds in the next few books.

This is a good story with two solid plots. While I feel it could be picked up without the reader having read any of the previous books, I don’t feel this is a good book to try that with. Personally, I’d read at least a few of the previous installments as many of the characters, history and teamwork that so strongly ties them together would need some explanation prior to this story. Having at least some idea on how the team works together and a general grasp of their history together is fairly important to fully enjoy this story I feel. But it’s a great British mystery and police procedural style of plot and well worth the investment.

The Devil’s Lover by Alexa Piper


The Devil’s Lover by Alexa Piper
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, LGBTQ, Erotic Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Lionel and Lucifer are drawn deeper into a murder case, but they are set on solving it together.

Just when Lionel’s love life has gone back to normal — normal meaning the kinky Devil making his ownership known — Lionel’s murder case gets stranger. Lionel’s birth father seems to have his hands in the mystery, and Lionel finds himself in the sights of Eris, goddess of discord.

Lucifer used to be a prime example of a powerful underworld deity with all the knowledge and skill to take care of a lover in the bedroom. But that was before Lucifer fell properly in love and won over his necromantic boyfriend, who also happens to be a demigod. Lionel’s innate magic, magical skill, and stubborn nature make it exceedingly difficult for Lucifer to be the alpha god he wants to be for Lionel.

Lucifer is set on finding a way to provide for the man he loves and to fulfill Lionel’s every desire. But before he can focus entirely on his necromancer, the two of them must solve the case, prevent primordial deities from being raised and destroying the world, and learn to communicate better. It’s what relationships and crime solving are all about.

The devil and a necromancer meet…they fall in love and solve mysteries. What a series.

I did like the show Lucifer, but I rather wondered what it would’ve been like had the lead character been gay. Now, through this series, I get to find out how it would play out. I do like it a lot.

Lucifer and Lionel make a good pair. They’re kind to each other, considerate and complement each other well. Their love story is cute, too. It’s also pretty hot. Can’t knock that.

This is a mystery and I liked that I wasn’t able to figure out the mystery right away. That kept me in my seat needing to know what would happen next. It felt like there were a few loose ends in this book, but it’s also part of a series and I haven’t read all of the others yet. I wasn’t lost, but there did seem to be a bit that wasn’t rectified at the end.

Still, it’s a hot book and great for an afternoon that’s chilly. If you’re looking for a book featuring the devil and a necromancer, filled with love and sweetness, plus a mystery, then this might be the one for you.

A Lovely Paradox by Mahiraj Jadeja


A Lovely Paradox by Mahiraj Jadeja
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When Raj, a common Indian man whose background was traditional and religious falls in love with Bella living in USA through Facebook, being innocent and crazy in love, he went for an American job visa against his parents wishes selling his ancestral land to meet her love and propose her for marriage but there was to lot to prove that whether his love for her was real or was it just plain lust?

This is a quick read novella and would be suitable for readers who enjoy whirlwind romances that are unpredictable. Erotic, highly emotional and sensitive, A Lovely Paradox is a novella which will surprise you, and will make you deeply move with a twist that no one expected in the end!

Facebook brought them together, but will it keep them that way?

I liked that this book has hints of Hindi culture in it. I liked being exposed to that culture and practices. It opened my eyes in a good way. The storyline is cute–they meet on Facebook, and he leaves his homeland to meet her and fall in love with her in person. It’s cute. I liked the characters. Raj and Bella have good chemistry and I did root for them.

But I had some quibbles with the story, too. This read like English wasn’t the author’s first language. There were spots where the story didn’t flow well, and a bit of editing could go a long way. There’s promise in the story, but it reads a bit choppy. This might not bother some readers, but it took away from the overall enjoyment for me. It’s a short story and cute but could use just a bit of help to make it a fantastic story.

If you’re looking for a short romance that’s something a little different, then by all means, give this one a try. It’s got lots of love and promise.

Wilde Treasures by K.M. Fawcett


Wilde Treasures by K.M. Fawcett
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Rick McKinnon is on the hunt for booty…

…pirate booty, that is. With one week left to find the hidden trove before his mafia boss investor starts busting kneecaps, Rick discovers the location is inside a 200-year-old well on private property. Unfortunately, claustrophobic Rick gets stuck.

The last thing Willow Wilde needs after moving away from her thieving ex is to rescue a sexy hustler from her well. But when the fortune hunter offers a piece of buried treasure in exchange for her help, Willow gets swept into an adventure sure to solve her money woes and add to her man troubles. As long as she can guard against Rick’s sultry charms, she won’t get hurt again.

But the two aren’t the only ones searching for the lost loot, and rivals will stop at nothing to get the gold. It’s now a race against time as Rick and Willow chase a string of clues throughout the small town of Candlewood Falls. And to survive this dangerous game, they’ll have to learn to trust each other with their lives…and their hearts.

Oh, my goodness! Oh, my goodness! I have so much that I want to say. I started this book without any background. After I finished it, I did some research and discovered that I was the one who found the best treasure of all. I found a new series to escape into.

The “Dear Readers” note in the beginning of the book explains it all. Too bad I missed that page when I hastily started reading chapter one. In case you are an eager reader like me, let me tell you what it says. I don’t want you to miss it like I did. Wild Treasures is the fourth book in the Candlewood Falls series. (It can easily be read as a standalone.) “However, the end of one story doesn’t mean the end of your favorite characters. They can show up in any Candlewood Falls book at any time.” (That, folks, is my kind of series. Especially when I bond with the characters and hate to let them go when the story is over.) “Candlewood Falls is a unique world of connected stories by different authors whose characters, business, and events appear in each other’s stories.” (I’ve read one other series like this, and it is still my favorite. I sincerely will be checking out books one, two and three.) The “Dear Reader” note also says “Think of Candlewood Falls as a literary soap opera”.

Wilde Treasures is similar to my favorite movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Only set the movie in our modern times.

I was drawn into the story right away when I read the first paragraph. The leading man, Rick McKinnon, was love at first sight for me. He was sexy, smart and protective. He made me feel safe. The heroine, Willow Wilde, was spunky, smart and beautiful. When they were together, I could feel their chemistry sizzle off the pages.

I was thoroughly entertained, hunting for the treasure right along with Rick and Willow. Their bantering made me chuckle. The suspenseful parts made my heart race. Rick and Willow were both romantics at heart which I found heartwarming and endearing.

If you are looking for a swoon-worthy book, then I’d suggest this one. I’m still suffering from a book glow a day later. I’m ready to go on another treasure hunt with Rick and Willow.

This was my first K.M. Fawcett story, and it won’t be my last. I loved how her writing style brought the book to life. Like, I said, I’m the one that found the real treasure. Happy Reading!

Ryan’s Temptation by Amber Daulton


Ryan’s Temptation by Amber Daulton
Arresting Onyx Book 2.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Wrong place, wrong time. Now she’s running for her life.

Beautician Chanel Leroc can wield a pair of scissors like nobody’s business. After she witnesses a murder and lands on a serial killer’s hit list, she has to figure out how to protect herself—and fast. The killer tracks her down, but her sexy new neighbor, Dr. Ryan Naylor, drives the brute off.

The police dump the pair in a witness protection program, which doesn’t last long. Either the killer has a connection to the police, or he’s far more intelligent than they realize. All Chanel wants to do is get back to her safe life and get to know her neighbor better. Instead, she and Ryan hit the road and try to survive on their own.

How will they stay alive and keep their blooming romance intact with the killer hot on their trail?

I read the synopsis for Ryan’s Temptation and, no pun intended, I was tempted to read this book. LOL

If the synopsis didn’t arouse my attention, then the first sentence of the story surely did. “The piercing cry froze the blood in Chanel Leroc’s veins”.

Chanel is the heroine of the story. I am undecided if she’s brave or lacks common sense. Let’s think about it for a minute. Chanel hears a cry for help, and she asks herself, “What kind of person would that make me if I abandon someone who might be hurt?” I’d say that would make her a smart person. Chanel is a beauty beautician with no weapon. But does that stop her? Her choices wouldn’t be my choices, but it sure set up the suspense. What Chanel thinks next and what happens right after is the perfect setup for the story and plot. Chanel even meets her new neighbor in an unconventional way.

Needless to say, it didn’t matter to me at that point if Chanel was brave or stupid. Ryan is the new neighbor that Chanel couldn’t stop thinking about. Chanel can’t resist men with a cleft in their chin, or dimples. It’s remarkable that her new neighbor, Ryan Naylor, the hero in the story, has both. He is simply breathtaking.

If you like to watch the tv show “Criminal Minds” as I do, then this story might delight you as it did me. Ryan’s Temptation would make an entertaining episode for any of those crime solving police shows on tv. The plot is predictable as they come but I still rapidly turned the pages to solve the mystery. The romance was electrifying as much as the suspense was riveting. I couldn’t get to the end fast enough. Once I finished the book, I felt quite satisfied.

The story was well written as I read to find out “How will Chanel and Ryan stay alive and keep their blooming romance intact with the killer hot on their trail?”. This story is book 2.5 in a series but can be read as a standalone. If you are in the mood to raise your blood pressure either by a steamy romance or sitting on the edge of your seat, then this book might be a good choice for you. I’m glad I read it. Happy Reading!

When I Met You by Avery Easton


When I Met You by Avery Easton
Book 3 of the Hearts of Broadway series
Publisher: Uncial Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Broadway star Jazzy Summers doesn’t do showmances. The only thing she wants is to be the performer she’s been since she was a kid. And if that means she’s a bit of a loner, that’s okay by her. The work is her life.

Mateo Williams was the biggest pop sensation in the world fifteen years ago–until he wasn’t. When his third album flopped, the charismatic star mysteriously disappeared and was rarely seen again.

A chance meeting–and Mateo’s incredible smile–gives Jazzy butterflies. But when she learns more, she is quick to write him off. A workaholic like her and a slacker like him could never work.

And then they are cast as co-stars in a brand-new Broadway musical. Jazzy tries to remain professional. Mateo tries to remember his lines. But all of the secrets he’s keeping are hindering the work. Despite the undeniable chemistry between them, Jazzy’s patience is waning. As they fight toward opening night, tragedy strikes Mateo. And Jazzy realizes that friendships and a lifelong love do not have to be sacrificed. They might be everything she’s been working for.

This romance is interesting because I’ve been to one Broadway show, Wicked. I will never forget that show as long as I live because it was amazing. This story, When I Met You, was captivating because it gave me a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes of a Broadway play. Without this story, I can’t imagine I’d ever get that perspective anywhere else. It’s not like I know anyone that performs on stage. I never did theater in school. When I saw Wicked, I was curious as to how in the world they changed the stage between acts. When I Met You, answered many questions for me. Now, I have no way of knowing how accurate this story is, but it felt real to me.

I felt a genuine connection with the cast of characters as if I was watching a reality tv show. The heroine, Jazzy Summers, is the star performer in a new Broadway play and her co-star is the hero, Mateo Williams. I got to see how the performers came together as a family. I felt as if I was part of the Broadway musical, from the hiring, to the rehearsal, to the opening night. I felt all their joys and struggles.

Jazzy and Mateo have different backgrounds and baggage to overcome but that is part of the draw to this story. They actually met prior to being co-stars and that plot thread was entertaining and made me smile.

I will warn you that the relationship between Mateo and Jazzy has very strong chemistry where everyone in the room knows they are in love but them. Mateo is hot and cold which drove Jazzy (and me) nuts. This story was written so well that the ‘on again/off again’ did not feel like a headbanger. I felt Jazzy’s frustration but her good friend, Simone, helps keep the situation light. The apologies between Jazzy and Mateo helped me as a reader to feel compassion instead of annoyance. I’m a pretty understanding person and could easily forgive Jazzy and Mateo for being stubborn and blockheaded. Speaking for myself, I felt overjoyed when Jazzy and Mateo finally let down their walls and opened their hearts and took a leap of faith to give into their love a chance.

The epilogue at the end was the icing on the cake. It gave me a nice book glow for a few hours.

I’d put this book on my keeper shelf and recommend it to others to borrow. Even though this is book three in the series, it can be read as a standalone. I’m thankful I made the choice to read it. Happy Reading!