Cushion by Tamela Miles

Cushion by Tamela Miles
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (119 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Natalie Kliebert finally has the perfect life she spent years dreaming of. She’s on the fast track to her fantasy-come-true career as a therapist. If she can help pop star Billy Chambers, it will be her greatest achievement and even sweeter than earning an “A” grade.

The last thing Billy Chambers wants is anyone’s help, especially when he doesn’t see a single thing wrong with his life. When bossy Natalie becomes his court-appointed personal therapist, sparks fly from day one. Annoyance was never so arousing. Hooking up should be easy, but an undercurrent of evil is coming for Natalie, which may force her to reveal her deepest secret.

The problems of their pasts are no match for today’s demons. Natalie and Billy must come together and be the allies they were meant to be in a supernatural fight that may cost them their lives.

This is a unique second-chance story filled with spice and the supernatural. Carin Bell is a writer. Seems normal enough. Then, she gets killed in a fiery car accident, but his is not the end of the story. It’s the beginning. Her love match, Billy Chambers, is a pop star who is in trouble. Billy had made fun of Carin when she was a teenager. Now she’ll get her chance to confront him. She is gifted with a second chance at life, not exactly the typical reincarnation story. She comes back as a different adult with a new identity, not as a baby reborn.

The new Carin, now Natalie, approaches Billy, and the meeting is memorable. How will he react when he sees the new, supernatural woman in his hotel room? Something in him changes, and it is good to see.

After some time he meets her again, but she is his therapist, charged with helping him overcome alcoholism. He makes his hard journey into sobriety. The chemistry between these two is hot, and the romance develops, as one might expect. However, their’s is not the typical love story. There is more to this tale, an underlying sinister presence, seeking to destroy them and others. The tale becomes somewhat of a supernatural thriller. The suspense is created when the characters are scared by their enemy.

During these occurrences, the characters are developed well. Billy shows himself to be thoughtful and considerate. He’s so human, and we see his weaknesses and struggle as well as those of Natalie. Both have personal demons to confront as well as the literal one. Though of battling that one is terrifying. They must go to a bad place and rescue trapped souls. The stakes are very high. They could easily lose themselves and the souls depending on them.

This is a fast-paced story that takes twists and turns to keep up the suspense level. It is well worth the read.

Between Venus and Mars by S.C. Mitchell

Between Venus and Mars by S.C. Mitchell
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length: Short Story (141 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

Once Upon a Galaxy . . .

Zana Starchild is on a mission to restore her tribe’s livestock and save herself from one more meal of kelp. Sure, it’s technically illegal to visit Old Earth, but to a rim rat like Zana, galactic laws are really just guidelines. Her wrecked starship just means she’ll need to use her backup plan to get off the abandoned world, an old Earth legend her uncle passed down to her.

Pulled from a relaxing shower, across the galaxy to Old Earth, Galactic Marshall Kyle Kepler finds himself naked and marooned with a quirky rim rat. Zana’s broken more laws than Kyle can count, and he plans to arrest her, just as soon as he can find transport off the planet and a pair of pants.

A junk heap of a starship, a magical tree, and a roving gang of mutant kangaroos are just the beginning of rollicking intergalactic journey filled with laughs, love, and adventure.

This is the kind of Science Fiction I adore!

I’m not a huge hardcore Sci-Fi fan…sometimes the explanations of how things work can get a bit dry, but this story doesn’t bore the reader in any way. More Space Opera than sci-fi, it’s a fun romp through the galaxy. From the moment Kyle is dropped in front of Zana, butt naked and confused, the laughs never stop.

This is my first Soul Mate Tree book and I enjoyed the magic behind the tree bringing together pairs of people who belonged together. Of course, in this book, Kyle isn’t so sure about the whole “belong together” part, at least not at first. After all, Zana is breaking laws, and he’s supposed to be enforcing them.

Zana is a smart-mouthed woman full of sass and determination. I liked her, though I could have used just a tad bit less cussing. It does get a little old after awhile. Kyle was smart, sexy and upright and it was fun to read about how he was able to justify things with Zana after some time.

I did feel a little like a missed some things because I hadn’t read the first books in the series, but not enough to stifle my enjoyment or confuse me in any way. Just enough to know that it would likely have been a richer read for me if I’d been involved in the series from the start.

The author’s writing style is fluid and enjoyable. I really enjoyed his voice and humor. I do love a book I smile through the entire way. Like romance, laughs and a little space opera? I can’t recommend another book more highly than this one to fit the bill.

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Betting on Kincade by Devon McKay

Betting on Kincade by Devon McKay
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (228 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Everyone Cassie Wilcox loved is gone. And now, thanks to her drunken stepfather, her house and family business will be taken from her, too, unless she can find a way to buy back the ranch from the new owner. With less than two months to come up with money she doesn’t have, her options are running out, and apparently, her common sense as she rents out rooms to an eclectic group of strangers.

Returning home for Dalton Kincade is bittersweet. Not a damn thing has changed. Two years on the rodeo circuit weren’t able to shake free the memory of the feisty redhead who’d broken his heart into a thousand pieces. Nor the sting of her parting words…Never trust a Kincade.

Winning her beloved ranch in a drunken bet is the last thing he expected to happen, but at least he saved it for her. Now, he has to figure out how to break that news to a woman who never wants to see him again. Renting a room in the house he now owns might be a risk, but it’s nothing compared to betting his heart on winning back the love of his life.

This is purely a feel good book that is quick and easy to read. I have read a huge amount of contemporary western romance stories so I recognized a lot of familiar tropes; some I liked, some were just okay. There was one scene that I can safely say was unique and I know beyond of a shadow of a doubt that I’d never read this in a story before because I’d sure remember that particular scene. Despite relying on a lot well-worn storytelling techniques, I can classify this novel as an entertaining read that was worth my time.

Dalton Kincade is the hero in this romance and he carried the momentum for me in this story. He had his reasons for leaving the heroine, Cassie Wilcox, to join the rodeo for two years. Cassie should have understood. Yes, she suffered a broken heart when he left but under the circumstances, she should have had a less selfish perspective, especially after two years. It obviously hurt him to leave too.

Cassie’s stubbornness and pride was borderline annoying. For that reason I had a hard time connecting with her “woe is me, I must save the ranch all by myself” attitude. It was a broken record to hear Cassie constantly talk about how she can make more money to save the ranch. I’d say that Cassie was the most presumptuous character I’ve ever read. Some of her solutions to make money were surreal and unrealistic. All I know is that Dalton had way too much patience and clearly loved her more than she loved him. Although their past love was well established, the chemistry in the present was lacking. There were some good moments when Cassie let down her walls and showed some vulnerability. I wished there were more scenes like that. It would have helped.

Cassie viewed Dalton as bossy, stubborn and a man who will always try to step in and save her. I didn’t view Dalton as bossy and stubborn at all. I actually viewed the heroine as ungrateful that she didn’t appreciate his stepping in to help her. What’s wrong with a man who loves you wanting to protect and help you? I’m not saying Dalton was perfect but I sure liked him more.

Some upbeat and positive elements were when Cassie and Dalton kept making wagers back and forth between themselves. That added a bit of humor into the story and helped me to connect to them as a couple. They did have some sizzling scenes but that only reinforced my impression that Dalton was too good for Cassie.

Some characters were more developed than others. Cassie’s stepfather, Gary Evans, was definitely a loser, a dirt bag, and a pathetic piece of life. He added suspense and drama to the story because he was the main conflict throughout the book. How his character was handled at the end didn’t exactly work for me. One of my pet peeves is not having all the plot threads tied up. I need absolute, complete closure. There must be justice. I don’t want to speculate in my head that everything worked out. I love happy endings with a pretty bow. There at least could have been an epilogue. If it weren’t for Dalton, then this entire book would have been infuriating to me.

Betting on Kincade was a good read. It was mostly enjoyable. I made it through and didn’t consider it a waste of my time, because time and time again Dalton drew me back into the story and kept my interest. I know not all romance books can be smooth sailing. Reading this book was like being in a car with a manual transmission whose driver didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. You’re just glad to be out of the house and going for a ride. You just have to hang on even when you hit the potholes because spending time with Dalton Kincade is SO worth the risk.

Please Be My Valentine by Jennifer Wenn

Please Be My Valentine by Jennifer Wenn
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (77 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Benjamin Emerson is determined to honor the dying Mrs. Brody’s last wish, that her granddaughter shall not spend Valentine’s Day alone. But as the special day is closing in, he still doesn’t know how to reach the stiff, correct librarian.

Broken by her psychopathic former fiancée, Leonore Brody moves back into her empty childhood home in Barnesville, numbly taking one day at a time. When Ben asks her to help his daughter, she can’t refuse, knowing how much he meant to her grandmother.

Caught at the Emerson Farm by a snow storm, Leonore finds herself drawn to the charismatic Ben. But the scars from her past are deep – can she ever trust a man again?

After being dumped almost at the alter by her long-term fiancé, Leonore knows that her mood is volatile and that she’s far too easily irritated. She knows that her Granny would hate the snappish, waspish woman Leonore had become, but Leonore just can’t seem to help herself. Even Ben – whom she’d known since childhood – wasn’t safe from her temper and annoyance. When Ben comes to the library to get a book explaining about puberty in females – his almost-teenaged daughter suddenly mystifying him – Leonore a can’t help but try and help the humble, shy man and his delightful no-longer-little girl.

This is a lovely and mostly sweet story about a very hurt woman trying to find herself again and in the process helping a caring and loving young man raise his teenage daughter. I found it to be full of heart-warming emotion and definitely with that “small town” type of feeling. I sympathized with Leonore and her initially crabby mood – she’d been harshly treated by her ex and hadn’t really healed from the painful break up. While I felt for her, I didn’t really particularly *like* her in the first half of the book. Leonore’s actions – her anger and cynicism – were completely understandable, but I didn’t feel as connected to her or like her as much as I would have hoped. Ben, however, I felt smitten with almost instantly. A shy, sweet, humble farmer who simply wants to do hard work, love and raise his family and keep his nose clean – he was absolutely hero material to my mind and I was eager for him to receive his (well deserved – in my opinion) happy ending.

I found this story to be a very interesting, if character-based, plot. Again with a “small-town” kind of feel Ben’s relationship as a single father with his almost-teenaged daughter, and then the growing friendship/relationship with Leonore was definitely central to the storyline. Readers who want an action filled, fast-paced style of story might not find this as satisfying as I did. But I honestly feel sometimes everyone needs to sit back with a slower paced story, with vibrant, relatable and believable characters and read something a little sweeter and in those respects this book completely exceeded my expectations. While I admit a part of me would have been ecstatic had I found Leonore more appealing as a heroine, she was real. She had a temper, she was hurt and needed to complete her healing process. I might not have enjoyed her as a heroine as much as I could have – but I could certainly respect her and understand where she was coming from.

This is definitely a slow-moving romance story. Leonore takes quite a bit of the book emotionally healing from her ex and I wasn’t keen how she compared so much of who Ben was to what her ex had been like. I found for me, personally, that got old pretty quickly, but again it was understandable and realistic. When Ben comes clean on his promise to Leonore’s Granny and Leonore finally starts to look at Ben with romantic interest their relationship really starts to build. While they became intimate fairly promptly after this, I didn’t find the singular sex scene graphic – the bedroom door wasn’t “closed” as such but it absolutely wasn’t drawn out or described in explicit detail. I would think most romance readers who enjoy a bit of spice (but not erotic levels of it) in their romance should find this satisfying without being overly graphic. There are only a few passionate kisses and the one sex scene – so really to my mind the majority of the story revolves around the characters and their growing relationship to each other – not the physical and intimate side of the romance.

Readers looking for a story with a whole bunch of characterization, realism and good, warm-fuzzy type of feelings, this is a great story to kick back and relax with. While absolutely not perfect, it is a great read and one I fully intend to enjoy again in the future.

Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (384 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

At birth, Mick Trewlove, the illegitimate son of a duke, was handed over to a commoner. Despite his lowly upbringing, Mick has become a successful businessman, but all his wealth hasn’t satisfied his need for revenge against the man who still won’t acknowledge him. What else can Mick do but destroy the duke’s legitimate son—and woo the heir’s betrothed into his own unloving arms . . .

Orphaned and sheltered, Lady Aslyn Hastings longs for a bit of adventure. With her intended often preoccupied, Aslyn finds herself drawn to a darkly handsome entrepreneur who seems to understand her so well. Surely a lady of her station should avoid Mick Trewlove. If only he weren’t so irresistible . . .

As secrets are about to be exposed, Mick must decide if his plan for vengeance is worth risking what his heart truly desires.

This is my first Lorraine Heath novel. I started this book hoping to finish it in one sitting. My interest was captured quickly enough and was held in a moderate manner. 1AM came too soon and I still wasn’t done. I had to put it down or risk being a cranky monster the next day. Turns out I was a cranky monster regardless. Even though I put the book down I couldn’t top thinking about it. It took forever to fall asleep and then it was one of those sleeps where you felt like you never really did sleep. I had to wait until after work to pick the book back up. It was a torturous work day knowing that the book was at home and all I wanted to do was finish it. Needless to say it’s a riveting book that has laid down the base work for an enthralling new series as Beyond Scandal and Desire is book one in the Sins for All Seasons series.

The plot introduced the practice of “baby farming” to me which I didn’t know existed and was widely known in the late 1800’s. I love when I learn new factual knowledge even though it was a bit appalling. At the end of the book the “Author’s Note” explains that she took “a bit of literary license with this story.” Which means that she took that horrific historic practice and made it a tiny bit less despicable by tweaking a few of the facts. Altering the facts is what has led to the “Sins for All Seasons series” to be in existence. Although it is sad to think about the reality of that time period and how people found it necessary to participate in such a cruel practice. I’m a very sensitive person so this plot point was a bit disturbing for me. It is threaded through the entire book because it’s part of the hero’s make up. Without it Mick Trewlove wouldn’t be who he is. I almost felt it was redundant and repetitive but it’s the core of the story. I mean, there is no way around it. Like I already said, without it there’d be no series. I know some readers are sticklers about their historical romance books being one hundred percent historically accurate. The author clearly states that she used that bit of history to create her fictional story. Therefore no one can complain about the historical inaccuracy.

Mick Trewlove is the hero in this story. His character was established exceptionally well to the point that I completely understood his choices and actions. Actually, all the characters were very well developed. It sounds like his siblings will all be getting books of their own starting with his sister, Gillie in September 2018 “When a Duke Loves a Woman”. I’m really looking forward to reading her story. She is an intriguing character since she is a tavern keeper and not very feminine. Anyway, Mick is portrayed as a big, strong and successful businessman with a dark, angry aura but he really is a sweetheart with some deep wounds. Wounds that Mick believes will heal once he gets his revenge but we all know that never works out. He has a plan that goes astray when he meets Lady Aslyn Hastings.

Aslyn is the opposite of Mick but they both have a heart of generosity. They complement each other to the point where they can’t function without each other. There was no turning back to the way things were before they met. Aslyn and Mick were brilliantly implemented into an elaborate storyline with unexpected plot twists. There were numerous characters that were all relevant to the well-crafted sequence of events. This story clearly took contemplation from the author. It is a well thought out story with a plethora of olive branches for future stories. I don’t think it could have been executed any better than it was.

I fell in love with Mick and Aslyn. Their romance was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. They had chemistry that caused yearning to the point of boiling. Aslyn didn’t need to secretly communicate with her parasol. They just looked at each other and they knew how the other one felt. Beyond Scandal and Desire was the perfect romantic love story. Only true love can overcome secrets, vengeance and society’s obstacles. I appreciated all the unique and creative elements that were installed in this story. I will definitely be suggesting this series to my family and friends.

Kostas’s Convenient Bride by Lucy Monroe

Kostas’s Convenient Bride by Lucy Monroe
Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (224 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Her boss needs a bride…

Can she step out of the shadows and down the aisle?

Discovering her boss, billionaire tycoon Andreas Kostas, must marry is devastating for Kayla. Then Andreas proposes that Kayla wear his ring! Having experienced the incandescent pleasure of his touch, she’s hidden her yearning for him ever since. It’s the proposal Kayla’s always dreamed of, but dare she risk her body and heart to become a convenient wife?

Oh, how I adore the characters that Ms. Monroe creates. The conflicts and dynamics between her heroines and heroes are always entertaining.

I’m going to choose Andreas as my favorite person in this novel. Why? Because he cracked me up. Everything he did proved two things; he actually loves Kayla and that he has no clue that he does. He’s one sexy Greek who doesn’t care two figs about the fluffy, inconsequential and spurious trappings that people seemed determined to infuse their conversations and/or business dealings with. He cuts to the chase, is blunt and tells it like it is, and folks can like it or lump it. He’s a sharp businessman and it’s given him a certain reputation, not to mention he’s also impressively rich. Andreas is very goal oriented, focused and driven. He plans everything out in his life according to those goals. Everything that is, except the reaction of the heroine, Kayla. For some reason, his goals are not her goals, and it throws him for a loop. That’s when the fun really begins. He makes a ton of mistakes and the aftermath of each one showed me exactly what this romance reader looks for.

What I liked about Kayla was her throwing curve balls at Andreas. She was a geek, a Brainiac if you will when it comes to writing computer code. Yet, she is much more in tuned with her feelings. She knows what she wants and when she realizes that she might never get it, she starts taking steps to move forward with her life. That was another big moment that catapulted the story into something wildly entertaining. The scene when Andreas followed her and banged on the door? Oh yeah, someone is finally waking up. Just remembering that part puts a big silly grin on my face. What comes after is a romantic pursuit that pushed my happy buttons.

Another winning element in the novel is the family dynamic. Andreas has a ginormous chip on his shoulder. It’s completely understandable that the hero acts like a lion with a thorn in his paw. What I didn’t expect was Kayla’s ability to bring about a miracle that soothes more than one ornery lion’s paw. Nor did I expect the surprise the heroine received from her own gene pool. The happy ever after is bigger than just one man and one woman. I thought it wonderful and made this book even better.

I have to mention the descriptions that Ms. Monroe used to show me the intensity of Andreas’ gaze when he fully focused on Kayla. It gave me happy, zippy shivers. When they could no longer resist the pent up passion between them and finally exploded in each other’s arms, it was everything I hoped for; sexy, sultry, intense, loving and well written.

Kostas’s Convenient Bride is the kind of romance that Ms. Monroe is known for. She has once again made me very happy by writing a wonderful, engaging and fun romance with a couple of people who were so very perfect for each other because they were both kind of oddball. If a reader is looking for a story to while away a lazy afternoon, then this novel should fit the bill. It sure made my day.

Twice Bitten by Lynsay Sands

Twice Bitten by Lynsay Sands
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full length (384 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Thrilling, witty, and oh-so-sexy, Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau novel brings together a beautiful Immortal and the man who is her destiny…

For someone who’s been around for over a hundred and forty years, immortal Elspeth Argeneau hasn’t done a whole lot of living. Now that she’s moved away from her controlling mother, she’s tracking down rogue vampires and enjoying some overdue freedom. A fling would be fun. A life mate can wait. Yet to Elspeth’s surprise, her landlady’s hot grandson checks both boxes.

Wyatt fell instantly in love with Elspeth four years ago. He’s stunned to run into her again, especially as she has no memory of him. Then again, there are a lot of things about Elspeth that don’t make sense, like the miraculous speed with which her wounds heal. And the chemistry that transforms every touch into an explosion of desire. But with mysterious “accidents” besieging Elspeth, the ex-Special Forces soldier appoints himself her bodyguard. But time is running out to uncover the truth about her enemies—and rediscover the man determined to love her for eternity.

Have you ever heard of ‘helicopter parenting’? Where a kid’s life is micromanaged? I’d heard of the term but I had to look it up. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a bonafide conflict and it plays an important role in this novel. Almost all the Argeneaus I’ve met have been wonderful, exciting and fascinating people to read about. In Twice Bitten, Ms. Sands introduced me to someone that is also interesting but for all the wrong reasons.

Elspeth is a heroine in need of saving. She doesn’t think so. I didn’t think so either, until the hero, Wyatt, came upon the scene. Since a reader is gifted with both Elspeth and Wyatt’s points of view, it becomes quickly apparent that something is a bit off. But what could it be? How could it happen?

If a reader checked out the synopsis, they’ll have an idea but the explanation, the reality of what is going on, is shocking. Frankly, I was horrified. Elspeth’s two sisters, The Boobsy Twins, first come across like Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters. For a lot of the book, I did not like them until one pivotal scene shed some light on their true natures. I really didn’t expect that. At. All. I think every one of them was in some kind of survival mode. What a way to live!

As for Wyatt – he’s a very confused hero. He can’t help but wonder what is going on with Elspeth. Slowly but surely he is eventually introduced to the reality that not only do Immortals exist, but Elspeth is one of them. The process from unknowing to knowing is one of the best parts of the book because so much happens to get him there. At times it’s funny, certainly entertaining, it’s sexy and hopeful. However, there are times where I got chills up my spine. The good thing about Wyatt? He’s solid hero material. Sure, he seems to take things in stride a little too easily, a bit too accepting and takes to hanging out with Immortals like a duck to water. That kind of blew my mind because you wouldn’t catch ME being able to have that level of laissez-faire when presented with people who have fangs. Maybe it’s because Wyatt had a military background? No matter, he’s sexy, yummy and perfect for Elspeth.

There is a lot to like in this novel. There is also a great deal of depth, suspenseful situations and rioting emotions that help create an amazing stage on which the romance between Elspeth and Wyatt plays out. I know that the story references Elspeth’s appearances in past books in the series, but it was hazy at best for me. I almost want to say this could be a standalone read, but perhaps not as once again the community that is the Argeneau family comes together to assist in fixing the debacle that surrounds Elspeth. I like it when the family members pitch in to support the current hero and heroine in their time of need. It’s a great feeling.

Seriously, I enjoyed every moment of Twice Bitten and the happy ever after is smile-worthy. The wrap up was wonderful on many levels. It had me giggling and happy and I am ever so glad to hear the news that was imparted by a ‘relative’ of Elspeth’s. There is hope for a bigger HEA for all involved; it’ll just take some time. The most important joy comes from Elspeth and Wyatt finally getting to stay together, forever. It’s the perfect romantic ending. Fans of this series are in for another great read and a treat when they dive into their own copy of Twice Bitten. Ms. Sands rocks!

Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks

Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full length (320 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy


Gwennore is an Elf able to track down the cause of a certain illness and heal it―a valuable asset to her people. But when she is thrust into the realm of the dragons, she discovers a haunted place of power, passion, and magic―one that is plagued by an ancient curse. When she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, Gwen knows she’s entered a whole new world of trouble. She’s been raised never to trust a dragon. So why does making a deal with the devil feel so good?

Silas has no way of saving the royal family he’s served for years. But when a beautiful, innocent elf comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to desire in a way he’s never felt before. But how can he trust a sworn enemy. . .and how can he live without her, in Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by New York Times bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks.

Ooh, I love me some dragons so I had to read this newest book by Ms. Sparks. I knew to expect a wonderful romance and I was not disappointed. What I didn’t expect was to giggle so much about a dragon named Puff.

Once I met General Gorgeous, I was completely hooked. I had a riot of a time watching the interaction between Silas, Gwennore, Dimitri and Aleksi. I was happy to see Brody is in this novel as well. He plays a strong role for a secondary character and he is almost like plot glue. His services and skills were integral in the past two books in the series and he once again helps out in Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon. This time it’s Silas and Gwennore who have to figure out how the Chameleon is causing mayhem and stop him. Brody’s nose is very welcomed.

Speaking of the Chameleon, Ms. Sparks has created more mystery and questions because there’s a new revelation in this story. The villain isn’t alone and the external conflict has hints of being more diabolical than anyone knew. Fascinating stuff!

On top of that trouble, Gwennore figured out something scary about the curse that has plagued the kingdom for centuries and it’s not a simple thing. Her bravery is commendable because she still is willing to help even after what she was put through in the first couple of chapters.

As with the two previous books in the series, the heroine eventually finds out a bit of where she came from and who her parents might have been. I figured out one possibility but the second not only blew me away but stunned many of her new circle of close friends in Norveshka.

My favorite parts were when Gwennore didn’t realize Silas could hear her thoughts. Those were the funniest scenes in the novel. Another thing I enjoyed was the ribbing and jesting between Silas, Dimitri and Aleksi. The author made it clear that they were best friends and very loyal to each other. I loved seeing that level of heart, emotion and trust.

Of course all of the trials, tribulations, adventures and suspense wouldn’t be worth it if the romance wasn’t equally as wonderful and satisfying. Indeed, watching Silas and Gwennore fall in love was everything I hoped it would be; fun, sensual and spicy, and of course, romantic. I am glad that the epilogue tied up the happy ever after just the way I like it. Of course, there leaves the question as to which sister is next in finding her other half. I came to the end of the novel with the distinct opinion of who it might be. I can’t wait to find out!

Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon has a great title but the book is even better. I am pretty sure that this novel is best read after the other two although if a new reader doesn’t mind a varied and busy cast they might do okay. But seriously, understanding how evil the Chameleon can be and why Brody is integral to the safety of the sisters of the Isle of Moon can only be appreciated by seeing what came before. Read them all. It’s a great experience and not to be missed. Ms. Sparks is amazing!

Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman

Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman
Publisher: Choc Lit
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (288)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

Do nice guys stand a chance?
Lizzie Donavue went from being the sister of his best friend to the girl Nick Templeton most wants to kiss. On her birthday, he finally summons up the courage to make his move. But it looks like Nick’s missed his chance when he discovers that Lizzie has been offered a modelling contract, which will take her away to the glamorous fashion scenes of New York and Los Angeles.

Nick is forced to watch from the sidelines as the gawky teenager he knew is transformed into Elizabeth Donavue: top model and ultimate English rose pin-up, forever caught in a whirlwind of celebrity parties with the next up-and-coming Hollywood bad boy by her side.

But then Lizzie’s star-studded life comes crashing down around her, and a guy like Nick could be just what she needs. Will she take a chance on him? Or is he just too damn nice?

I have to admit that the “friends to lovers” plotline is not my favorite, but there was something fascinating in the synopsis of Too Damn Nice so I decided to give this story a try. Furthermore, the blurb seemed more like a good chick-lit than a romance novel and I wanted to read a chick-lit. I am glad that I decided to read this story even though it’s far, far away from being chick-lit. I can say that I got way more than I expected.

Too Damn Nice is story about how two friends, who loved one another for a long time, finally get together. That is just a part of it. After they got together they broke up, only to find another way to true happiness. This is not a funny or a cheerful story but it’s truly not depressing either. On top of that are all the misunderstandings between Lizzie Donavue and Nick Templeton which push the story into sad territory.

Lizzie and Nick are complex characters. They both have their own deep insecurities. Nick thinks that because he is a boring accountant, Lizzie does not care about him. While Lizzie thinks that because she did something wrong in the past, she does not deserve Nick. Sometimes they are so rude to one another. But, there are times when Nick does not act like such a darn nice guy, and Lizzie is not full of guilt. That’s really good because if the characters had stayed in their predefined roles the whole time, the story would not be so darned good. I refer especially to Nick’s character. If he’d been nice all the time it would have been just too much.

I applaud the author. Kathryn Freeman did a wonderful job of keeping the story interesting and on a high emotional level the whole time. In the first part of the book she balances very well the subtle balance in Nick and Lizzie’s relationship. It’s a relationship in which both of them wanted to cross that line of friendship and enter the lover’s territory, but they just didn’t dare. Each time when they were on the verge of becoming a lovers another unexpected twist happened. Later on when the line is finally crossed, the author again did great work in focusing on their doubts and fears. By resolving them the path to their HEA was finally open. There are so many places in the story where the author could have fallen in the trap of cliche, but she successfully avoided it. So once again, I applaud the author.

Too Damn Nice was my first hidden gem this year. This highly sensual and deeply emotional story was a great read. I am definitely putting Kathryn Freeman on my ‘to read list’. If you like contemporary romance featuring friends to lovers and opposite attracts, I highly recommend this story.

Tempest by Beverly Jenkins

Tempest by Beverly Jenkins
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full length (346 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

What kind of mail-order bride greets her intended with a bullet instead of a kiss? One like Regan Carmichael—an independent spirit equally at home in denims and dresses. Shooting Dr. Colton Lee in the shoulder is an honest error, but soon Regan wonders if her entire plan to marry a man she’s never met is a mistake. Colton, who buried his heart along with his first wife, insists he only wants someone to care for his daughter. Yet Regan is drawn to the unmistakable desire in his gaze.

Regan’s far from the docile bride Colton was expecting. Still, few women would brave the wilds of Wyoming Territory for an uncertain future with a widower and his child. The thought of having a bold, forthright woman like Regan in his life—and in his arms—begins to inspire a new dream. And despite his family’s disapproval and an unseen enemy, he’ll risk all to make this match a real union of body and soul.

Regan is a mail order bride. She and the doctor have written several letters to each other. He’s looking for a mother for his child. She’s looking for adventure and figures Wyoming will provide it. But their first meeting didn’t go well. After the stage was set upon by robbers, she got out her rifle and took care of them. When she sees more riders coming she shoots at them, too. Unfortunately, the man she hit was her intended…

Ms. Jenkins always writes a good story and this one is no exception. Her words flow well and she creates conflict as well as love in her stories.

The doctor was expecting a lady from back east. She was hoping for a love match. No one lied in their letters but meeting each other changes expectations. He has no interest in love. She wears denims and can do much more than household duties. Even worse, she has her own money.

Her husband’s mother-in-law hates her and has browbeat the young daughter. Another woman in town wanted him for herself and she’s very critical of Regan. But Regan can hold her own.

One of my favorite lines was when the girl asks her new momma if she and daddy were going to jump around on the bed like her friend’s parents did. Sure, that’s what they were doing…

With lots of odd relatives and friends, the two grow closer together. It’s great fun to watch how they respond to the challenges.

This was a very good read.