Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath

Title: Passions of a Wicked Earl
Series: London's Greatest Lovers
Author: Lorraine Heath
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: October 26, 2010
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 006192296X
ISBN-13: 9780061922961

Known throughout London for his prowess in the bedroom, Morgan Lyons, the 8th Earl of Westcliffe, cannot forgive an unpardonable affront to his honor. Discovering his young bride in the arms of his brother was a staggering blow—so he banished the beautiful deceiver to the country and devoted himself to the pursuit of carnal pleasure.

Claire Lyons was an innocent, frightened girl on her wedding day, seeking chaste comfort from a childhood friend. Now, years later, she has blossomed magnificently and has returned to London with one goal in mind: the seduction of her notorious husband. Unskilled in the sensual arts, she burns nonetheless for the kisses too long denied her. And she has but one Season to win back the heart of the rogue she betrayed.

My rating:

I've been dreading this book ever since I received in the mail almost two years ago, read the blurb and read the first chapter. Needless to say, it went directly back on the shelf. he banished the beautiful deceiver [his young (and innocent) bride] to the country and devoted himself to the pursuit of carnal pleasure

Because when a woman just looks at a guy she's not married to she's a slut (she was a naive 17-year-old, she didn't know better) and needs to be banished to the countryside, while her husband, intent on the pursuit of carnal pleasure (and not with his wife) gets an Attaboy!, the dastardly bastard.

But I finally decided to man up and actually go beyond that first chapter. I’m not sorry I did. I had a strange feeling in my stomach for the first few chapters, though. Because I wanted to kick the hero somewhere really painful, and I wanted to slap the heroine for being an immature, naïve chit three years ago.
Yeah, they both deserved it. Because they were both idiots. He more than her, though.

But once they started to get to know each other, once a tentative friendship blossomed between them, the strange feeling in my stomach disappeared and I sincerely rooted for them. The two characters worked perfectly together, creating intense tension. Mrs. Heath made them appear real, flawed, making mistakes, prone to misunderstandings, layered like onions (especially the hero), and I simply fell in love with them both just as they fell in love with each other.

Was the premise unorthodox? Yes. But it worked for the story and for the character development. I truly believe what happened on their wedding night made them so very perfect for each other three years later. Their misgivings upon the reunion were the reason they actually got to know each other, which they never got to do before. That betrayal and the subsequent separation helped them mature, so when they met again, they had to go through what they didn’t before. The friendship, the courtship and the falling in love.
Would they’ve done the same if nothing happened on their wedding night? Perhaps, but I sincerely doubt it. They probably would’ve turned into the ‘normal’ regency married couple – strangers that just happen to share a last name.
So, the plot twist (that actually happened in the beginning) served its purpose superbly and I was glad not to see a repeat performance from the first chapter. This is a romance after all, the hero and heroine were meant to have a HEA.

I’m glad to report, this was par with Heath’s previous novels I’ve read. Great characterization, wonderful tension, explosive chemistry, lots of misgivings and misunderstandings, nice pacing, an insane villain, and a perfect ending. I could’ve done without the extra ‘twist’ toward the end, but it needed to take place for the hero to finally realize he was indeed capable of loving.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: The Secret of Cypriere Bayou by Jana Deleon

Title: The Secret of Cypriere Bayou
Author: Jana Deleon

Read copy: eBook
Published: March 1, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 1426888341
ISBN-13: 9781426888342


For Olivia Markham, laMalediction is the ideal setting in which to complete her work. But something is sending a chill up the usually fearless author's spine. There are the unearthly noises, the sliding panels, the hidden passageways...and John Landry, the sexy caretaker who seems less than welcoming.

John has work of his own to do and he doesn't need the distraction of a mysterious beauty claiming the old mansion is cursed. But he can't ignore the fact that someone is doing everything to scare Olivia away - permanently. Working together to uncover laMalediction's alarming secrets and root out the evil stalking them, John finds Olivia impossible to resist, and he knows it's only a matter of time before something unexpected - and undeniable - happens between them...

My rating:

Somehow I just couldn't really get into this one. There was just too much going on. Hero keeping a secret, hero searching for a missing sister, heroine dreaming of the house she's never seen before, gothic atmosphere, ghosts, storms, a hidden presence waiting for a prophecy to be fulfilled, a missing caretaker...Simply too much for a category book, if you ask me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Maverick's Black Cat by Maggie Casper & Lena Matthews

Title: Maverick's Black Cat
Author: Maggie Casper & Lena Matthews

Read copy: eBook
Published: September 14, 2005
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
ISBN: 1419903756
ISBN-13: 9781419903755

Research. It was all in the name of research, or that's what Catarena keeps telling herself every time she meets Maverick online. In exchange for his knowledge of D/s relationships, Catarena willingly becomes his apt pupil, giving over her mind, body and soul to his commands.

Their relationship seems to be made in online heaven…until the webcam turns on, unveiling a familiar face to Catarena's startled eyes.

Mason can't get his cyber student out of his mind. BlackCat is a dream come true to this dominant man, every lesson bringing them closer to the brink of something wonderful. But when he tries to heat things up by turning on the camera, something goes incredibly wrong and his Kitten runs from him.

Finding his cyber vixen proves to be a hopeless mission until fate steps in, revealing Catarena in the most unlikely of places.

My rating:

Okay. It was nothing much, really. A dominant jackass (though he had his finer moments) for a hero, an independent (and rather annoying toward the end and the progress of her relationship with the hero) heroine, lots of (rather improbable in the stamina department) sex and a tiny bit of story.

But I liked it. Go figure.

Review: Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle

Title: Canyons of Night
Series: Arcane Society, Harmony, Looking Glass Trilogy, Rainshadow
Author: Jayne Castle
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: August 30, 2011
Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 0515149888
ISBN-13: 9780515149883

The island of Rainshadow is home to the mysterious, privately-owned woods known only as the Preserve. Now, after fifteen years away, both Charlotte Enright and her teen crush, Slade Attridge, have returned. But will their psi talents and Slade's dust bunny companion be enough to keep them from getting drawn into the darkness at the heart of the Preserve?

My rating:

A good finale to the Looking Glass Trilogy, though I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the Arcane yet.

This was the usual JAK/AQ/JC fare, only without (!) an annoying heroine. Yay! Good pacing, rather tight plot (though there were a few moments she lost me), great characters, good mystery, a funny dust bunny companion with a quirk for purses, sizzling chemistry and hot sex.

And it was also a great introduction into the Rainshadow series. That second last chapter offered just enough of a lure to make me want to read the next book. Just what is in the Preserve? Ooh, I can’t wait.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Bonding Experience by Cora Zane

Title: Bonding Experience
Series: Werekind
Author: Cora Zane
Read copy: eBook
Published: January 28, 2006
Publisher: Cobblestone Press
ISBN: 1600880371
ISBN-13: 9781600880377

When her pack leader issues a mating contract between herself and hotshot werewolf Luke Roman, Claire knows there must be some mistake. She doesn't know Luke very well, but she can't imagine two less compatible people being thrown together. Luke has loved Claire for years, and he isn't about to let her undo what he's worked so hard to put into effect. When she refuses to discuss the pact with him, even when he follows her home, Luke finds a silk scarf on her dresser and decides to try other, more creative ways of getting Claire's undivided attention.

My rating:

So far, this series has been hit-and-miss for me. I guess I was ‘in the mood’ last night, the right mood for a short, quick, sexy, sweet little werewolf romance.

Though it’s tough jamming everything you want to say into a short story, Ms. Zane succeeded with this one. The reader, along with the heroine, gets to see the lengths Luke was willing to go to get her, we see the deep feelings he had for her, the exultation he feels when they finally…you know. :D
And the reader also gets the opportunity to shake his/her head at Claire’s (the heroine) blindness as far as Luke’s true intentions have been for the past fifteen years. Constant hanging around with no obvious purpose, constant teasing...If that doesn’t spell love (in a very high-school sort of way) I don’t know what does.

And when it came to the party night and when it became apparent just what the party was all about...Awww. My absolute favorite in this series.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: Two-Step Temptation by Emma Jay

Title: Two Step Temptation
Author: Emma Jay

Read copy: eBook
Published: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 1609283538
ISBN-13: 9781609283537

They have a history. A future may be more than she's willing to give.

Haven Reynolds is stunned when her ex-lover Eric Viera turns up at their mutual friends' wedding. Her sources told her he was safely a continent away, doing his anthropology thing. Instead she's scrambling to figure out how to fend off his particularly potent brand of charm.

At least, that's what she tells herself.

Several months in a Costa Rican jungle hasn't dulled Eric's memory of the two weeks he spent with the sexy spitfire. He'd even enjoyed the challenge of breaking through her walls-the warm, passionate woman he'd uncovered had been worth the effort. He'd like nothing better than to pick up where they left off, except those walls are back in place, stronger than ever.

Much to Haven's dismay, Eric takes her in his arms for a rehearsal-dinner dance. In a split second, it all comes back-the memories, the lust and laughter, the intimacy and control she's never allowed any other man. Falling for him again is out of the question, but a weekend of hot sex is an indulgence she can't resist.

Except Eric hasn't come back to Texas just for the wedding. He's come for her.Warning: Contains a sassy heroine, sizzlin' hero, toe-stomping two-stepping and secret encounters.

My rating:

I was quite disappointed with this story. It could’ve been a short, cute little romp, but the whole heroine issue-thing...I don’t know. She had all those walls, wanting always to be in control, hiding her emotions, hiding her fling with the yummy guy from her friends...Without reason. There was no explanation as to why she was the way she was...And her behavior, without such explanation, became immediately annoying and tedious, dragging the story along.

What a pity.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Title: Firelight
Series: Darkest London
Author: Kristen Callihan
Read copy: eBook
Published: February 1, 2012
Publisher: Forever
ISBN: 1455510009
ISBN-13: 9781455510009

London, 1881

Once the flames are ignited . . .

Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . .

Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.

My rating:

Okay...I read this based on a GR friend’s recommendation and while I liked it, I wasn’t overly impressed. Unfortunately.

I’m a huge fan of paranormal romances, no matter which time period they’re set in and this one had pretty much all—paranormal powers, a curse, an ancient creature determined to get back its ‘mate’...

Still, it was a tad too long...Or too slow, depending on the point of view. Because nothing really happened until the last few chapters. The explanation as to what was truly going on came too late in the story, if you ask me, the entire truth coming just a few chapters before the end. And of course, the big showdown also happened at the same time, making the ending of the book seem crowded, while the beginning and middle were slow and rather uneventful.

What also bothered me was the narrative style. Too prosaic for my taste, winding descriptions where just a few words could’ve done the trick.

What the story didn’t lack was angst. And tension. Which I liked. And the BeautyAndTheBeast-esque storyline. Which I also liked. And the growing relationship between the hero and heroine was a nice respite from other HRs out there. Still, the parts I liked didn’t compensate for the rest, landing this book in the 3-star category.

And I’m sorry to say I won’t read the sequel. Nothing’s compelling me to.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review: Obsidian Prey by Jayne Castle

Title: Obsidian Prey
Series: Harmony
Author: Jayne Castle
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: August 26, 2009
Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 0515146897
ISBN-13: 9780515146899

Amber tuner and independent prospector Lyra Dore lost her heart-and her discovery of a rare amethyst ruin-to cutthroat businessman Cruz Sweetwater. At least she had her artistically talented dust-bunny to comfort her...

But the ruin's mysterious power has put everyone involved with the project in danger. And only by trusting their psychic instincts will Cruz and Lyra survive- and surrender to the desire that binds them.

My rating:

Argh! Sooner or later, even in a series this good, there's always a bad egg somewhere. Obsidian Prey is one of those bad eggs for the Harmony series.

Not because of the story, because it was great overall. Not for the intrigue, mystery or suspense. Not even for the villain. And especially not for the hero, because I simply loved Cruz and now I want to read Quicksilver again (I love those Sweetwater men).

No, my bad-egg-theory derives from the fact I utterly hated the heroine, the bitch with the warped logic. Lyra made all the other previous, annoying heroines with their adversity toward the Guild and the hunters, look like fairytale princesses. This one was judgmental, sarcastic beyond the point of feisty, stubborn, raised on poison by her bitter grandfather, and so stupidly she blind she didn't see what was in front of her nose.
I couldn't stand her to the point I wished someone would stab/shoot/strangle/drown/etc. her and replace her with some other woman. Someone with a bit more sense, at least.

So I sort of squinted and squirmed through the scenes she was in, not a great reading experience, let me tell you, and somehow made it through the book without throwing it against the wall or through the window. She didn't even become likable in the end.

So this one gets three stars, because of the plot, the pacing, the suspense, and the hero.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Dark Light by Jayne Castle

Title: Dark Light
Series: Harmony
Author: Jayne Castle
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: August 26, 2008
Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 051514519X
ISBN-13: 9780515145199

Tabloid reporter Sierra McIntyre wants a scoop when she interviews Ghost Hunter Guild boss John Fontana about the disappearances of retired, homeless hunters. She doesn’'t want to trust the physically and psychically powerful man, but her intuition——and her dust bunny companion——give her the green light. To uncover the conspiracy within his own organization, Fontana proposes…marriage. And though it'’s purely a business arrangement, there'’s nothing pure about the attraction that sizzles between them.

My rating:

Woohoo! Another 'freak' Ghost Hunter talent. And the heroine wasn’t that annoying either. This series keeps getting better and better.

Tight plot, quick pacing, gripping suspense, possible alien threat, love at first sight (don’t you just love one of those), heavy denial of love at first sight (me likey), great chemistry, even greater attraction, cute couple, twisted villain (I didn’t see that one coming, great surprise), funky motley crew of journalists, some magic moments in the alien jungle...And a dust-bunny dressed like Elvis.

The hero was yummy, the heroine was feisty, they ran for their lives, they worked wonderfully together to uncover the conspiracy within the Guild, they both almost died...And the ‘guy thing’ in the end was absolutely priceless. ;)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review: Silver Master by Jayne Castle

Title: Silver Master
Series: Harmony
Author: Jayne Castle
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: August 28, 2007
Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 0515143553
ISBN-13: 9780515143553

Cadence City matchmaker and para-resonator Celinda Ingram meets her match in security specialist Davis Oakes. On the hunt for the powerful relic that Celinda supposedly bought as a toy for her pet dust bunny, Davis must use all of his unique psychic abilities to try and wrest the ruby red object from the suspicious duo, keep his desire for Celinda in check-and keep them all safe from those who will do anything to possess the relic.

My rating:

Let's start with something different this time. I don’t understand the adversity of these heroine toward the Guild. I simply don’t. “Hunters [Guild men] are just glorified mobsters, good enough only to provide not-so-much needed protection underground.” Yeah? I didn’t hear any of the heroines so far protest and diss the Guild while the heroes protected them from becoming ghost bait. But as soon as the danger has passed, let’s go back to bitching about the Guild.
I mean, sure, the organization has some bad eggs, which one doesn’t? That doesn’t mean they’re all bad. Just look at your hero. You let him into your pants, didn’t you? That means he has some redeeming qualities, right?

That aside, this one was yet another great installment in the Harmony series. There are (for now) 8 books in the series and I was starting to wonder just how Ms. Castle would keep it up, keeping the reader interested in the series, when the first two books pretty much explored all there could be explored about the Guild and its men. Yeah, they’re ghost hunters, they manipulate ghost light (the green stuff) and they’re all (at least the heroes) hunky, yummy, mysterious, dangerous types.
I’m sure the next books would sound repetitive (at least in the hero’s ability department), right? Wrong. Because she goes and throws us all a curve ball – first with blue-ghost energy and then with the ‘silver stuff’. Yay! More ‘freaks’ from the other end of the para-spectrum. More, more, please, let’s have more. Beside the hunky, yummy, mysterious and dangerous heroes working all kinds of ghost energy.

So, yeah, another winner in the series if you ask me. Intrigue galore, two (2 !) baddies, a hottie for a hero, a feisty (if slightly judgmental heroine), two (2 !) dust-bunnies (I loved Max more than that spoiled little brat Araminta), great pacing, an invisible brawl scene, hot attraction, even hotter sex, a secretive past on the hero’s side, a secretive past from the heroine’s side...Woohoo! Sit tight and enjoy the ride.