Sunday, December 30, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Killing Time" by Cindy Gerard

Mike "Primetime" Brown
Eva Salinas

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
For the seven years after Operation Slam Dunk went south, Mike Brown got drunk on each anniversary. The eighth year was no different--until he was drugged by a woman and woke up to her questions about what had happened eight years ago in Afghanistan. CIA attorney Eva Salinas has her own theory behind what happened to Mike's team--which included her husband--in Afghanistan eight years ago, and she's determined to prove foul play. Though she doesn't trust him, Mike is the only person she can turn to for help. Under an assumed name, Eva convinces Mike to assemble a new team and go after the traitor who screwed up both their lives. As they track down the rogue who started it all, Eva and Mike discover they can't live without each other. But can they stay alive while an enemy is still on the loose?

What makes a perfect romantic suspense?
Is it the drool-worthy, slightly broken, memorable hero?  CHECK
Is it the pacing? CHECK
Is it the compelling story? CHECK
Is it a rock-solid, smart, kick-ass heroine? CHECK
Is it the panty-melting sex? CHECK

For eight years he'd been killing time.  Taking up space. And it was wrong.

Killing Time is book one in Cindy Gerard's new One-Eyed Jack Series.  If you've been following the Ms. Gerard's Black Ops, Inc. books, Mike makes an appearance or two and now he's got his own story.

One of the best parts of a Book One that gets its start in another series is the appearance(s) of favorite past characters.  It is wonderful to see Archangel Gabe Jones back crotchety and no nonsense.  His quintessential comment: "We all have ghosts.  Nut up and get over it." Awe, Gabe, that just makes me warm all over.

Then there is Mike -  Mr. Unattainable, damaged, naughty, and a hottie.  Quick with the one liner.  Cool.  In my romantic suspense world, this is exactly how I like them.  Mike has been betrayed.  He was a company man, but when he was set up by an unknown enemy, he thought the military would save him. Instead, they hung him out to dry.  Now he is wallowing in confusion, doubt and self-pity, numbing himself from the rest of the world. 

Eva has her own personal reasons for exposing the conspiracy. She recruits a reluctant Mike in her investigation and inquiries lead to assassination attempts puts them on the run. Despite the danger that surrounds them, they can't resist the serious sexual attraction. 

Mike, despite his tough-as-nails exterior, has the "sweet":

...he wanted to be important to her, strong for her, and even weak for her so she would understand how much she was giving him in return.

For me that sweet is all it takes to make me fall head over heels for this hard edged soldier.

This is the kind of read that makes you ache for more.  Cindy Gerard is a master of creating intense emotion - the sexual tension, the high suspense, the desperation, the relief and the joy. I am waiting with baited breath for the next books in the series.  Cooper and Taggart, we are anxiously waiting for you!

IN A NUTSHELL:  Just in case it is not clear how much I adored this book, run, don't walk to get this book!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for the  ARC. It was an exhilarating pleasure.

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. 

I had a really difficult time getting into this book. I put it down 3 times because it didn't capture me at first. Having said that, at about the 1/3rd mark I started to enjoy the book and found it genuinely entertaining. I can see how it would translate into a great Hollywood film. My one critique of the book is that it is not enough. I am left with too many questions. How will Clary and Jace resolve their relationship? What role will Simon play in Clary's life? What will it take for Clary's mother to come out of her spell and will Luke FINALLY get his chance? There are too many unresolved issues and as a reader, I am left a little dry. I appreciate books that entice you into reading the next in the series, but get upset with books that force you to do so by leaving you thirsty.

I recommend this book, but expect to put aside enough time to read the next stories.

Friday, December 21, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "With Everything I Am" by Kristen Ashley

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
One night, Callum is driven into the woods by instinct, an instinct to protect… what, he does not know. Until he, in the form of wolf, meets a young, human child who he is instantly drawn to in a fierce way he doesn’t quite understand.

But in the end, she protects him. Then he finds this human child is his destined mate.

Sonia Arlington has lived a lonely life. She has certain abilities that make her strange and she has a rare disease that, if untreated, could kill her. Her mother and father are assassinated but before, her father makes her vow that she will never let others discover her abilities. This forces Sonia to stay distant from others, no family, no close friends and always guarding against exposure.

Then the intelligence leaks that Sonia is Callum’s human mate. He is now King of the Werewolves and therefore she becomes targeted by the wolves who have aligned with other immortals to enslave the human race. Callum has war on his hands and is forced to claim his mate and quickly integrate Sonia into a world that is strange and frightening to her.

As Sonia attempts to adjust, not entirely successfully, Callum attempts to cope with the knowledge that his mate is mortal. He will have her beauty and gentleness only the length of a mortal life and as werewolves only have one mate their entire lives, their union for him is unbearably bitter as well as unbelievably sweet.

Then he finds that due to her illness, her human life will be even shorter and he is forced to endure the increased bitter while doing everything he can to make Sonia’s short life incredibly sweet.

With Everything I Am is everything I want in a Kristen Ashley book.  Good goodness, this book is an emotional powerhouse!  It is not unexpected from a Kristen Ashley book, but a little more unexpected from a paranormal romance (PNR) novel.  

It is Book 2 in the Three Series. I didn't know what to expect.  I enjoyed Book 1, Until the Sun Falls from the Sky, but for some reason found the romance a little disconnected from the paranormal context.  However, this book is fully integrated. It truly feels like a true paranormal romance - and all through the lens of Kristen Ashley.

The world-building is great and complex:   Two worlds - humans and immortals.  There is a civil war at hand amongst the immortals and Callum is right in the middle of it.  There is a prophecy unfolding where Callum and his bride will join two others in determining the future of the immortals.  But first, Callum must unite with his bride.

Sonia is the chosen bride.  Sonia is suddenly dragged into this immortal world she didn't even know existed.  You can feel her bewilderment, the uncertainty, her confusion as her world is turned upside down.

Being a fated lifemate may not all that it is cracked up to be.  It strikes me that it is kinda like an arrange marriage, what if you never met that "lifemate" until it was time to mate? How do you know what is true and what is your misinterpretation? You don't know you mate well enough to have context for their actions. For Sonia it is heartbreaking and a constant internal battle:

Which meant that Sonia had to guard her heart with a growing ferocity that, the longer she did it, the more the bitterness built.

Callum is the fierce King having to learn to be gentle, sweet. We learn a lot from his point of view. He has low expectations and is taken by surprise by the "sweet" he feels for Sonia.   He's practical, he's disciplined, he's kingly.  He expected to fulfill his duty but he finds that she makes him "sweet": 

Every day, I would wake up and think you were perfect and every night I'd go to sleep thinking, somehow, during the day, you got even more perfect. If I could have wished what I thought was my perfect mate on the wind and had her come back to me in a storm, I could never had come up with anything as exquisite as you.

I'm pretty sure that is one of the most romantic lines I've ever read from an alpha male.  Makes me sigh everytime I read it. I sighed a lot during this book for Sonia's founded and unfounded fear of letting go, of being acknowledged and appreciated, of the misunderstanding between Sonia and Cullan, for his sense of justice and duty.  Like I said, an emotional powerhouse.

IN A NUTSHELL:  This one is soul-satisfying.  I simply loved it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

SUNNY: READING CHALLENGE 2013 - Romantic Suspense

Yippee!  This is my favorite genre.  This is too good to pass up. Who does love a little heart-thrilling adventure to go along with a love story?  Join me in this reading challenge!  Here are the details: 

  • Runs January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013 (books read prior to 1/1/2013 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime. Register on The Book Vixen's Blog
  • The goal is to read 13 romantic suspense novels in ‘13.
  • Books can be any format (bound, ebook, audio).
  • Novellas that are at least 100 pages in length, as well as full-length novels, will count for this reading challenge.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.

1. Red Zone by Sherri Hayes                   
2. Lie With Me by Stephanie Tyler                                    
3. Breaking Point by Pamela Clare          
4. Conspiracy Game by Christine Feehan              
5. Naked Edge by Pamela Clare              
6. Fatal Deception by Katie Reus       
7. Midnight Man by Lisa Marie Rice          
8. Danger Next Door by Katie Reus         
9. Midnight Run by Lisa Marie Rice          
10. No One to Trust by Katie Reus       
11. Midnight Angel by Lisa Marie Rice        
12. A Lot Like Love by Julie James       
13. Something About You by Julie James   
14. About That Night by Julie James
15. Renegade by Nancy Northcott         
16. Breaking Her Rules by Katie Reus
17. Protecting What's His by Tessa Bailey
18. Wild Card by Lora Leigh 
19. Against the Dark by Carolyn Crane
20. Dead Again by Tracy Cooper-Posey
21. Deadly Game by Christine Feehan
22. Forgotten Sins by Rebecca Zanetti
23. Sweet Revenge by Rebecca Zanetti
24. Hard As it Gets by Laura Kaye
25. Striking Distance by Pamela Clare
26. Down Range by Lindsay McKenna
27. Grave Danger by Rachel Grant
28. First Strike by Pamela Clare
29. Concrete Evidence by Rachel Grant
30. Love You to Death by Shannon K. Butcher
31. Desert Heat by Elizabeth Reyes
32. First Temptation by Joan Swan
33. Body of Evidence by Rachel Grant
34. The Way Home by Cindy Gerard
35. Hot Mess by Lynn Raye Harris
36. Targeted by Katie Reus
37. Gambled: A Titan novella by Cristin Harber
38. Westin's Chase by Cristin Harber
39. Garrison's Creed by Cristin Harber
40. Stolen Chances by Elizabeth Naughton
41. Winters Heat by Cristin Harber
42. Temptation Bay by Anna Sullivan
43. Singed by Kaylea Cross 
44. Born Wild by Julie Ann Walker
45. Protecting His Witness by Katie Reus
46. First Surrender by Katie Reus
47. Ignited by Kaylea Cross
48. No Regrets by Shannon K. Butcher
49. The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood
50. Hush by Carey Baldwin
51. Killer Secrets by Katie Reus
52. Midnight Lies by Ella Grace
53. Secret Maneuvers by Jessie Lane
54. Forged in Steele by Maya Banks
55. Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris
56. Seal of Honor by Tonya Burrows
57. Exposed by Laura Griffin
58. Predatory Game by Christine Feehan
59. The Night is Mine M.L. Buchman
60. Thrill Ride by Julie Ann Walker

Ummm, what does it say about me that I'm done with this challenge at the beginning of March

Thursday, December 6, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - Into the Crossfire by Lisa Marie Rice

Former Navy SEAL Sam Reston keeps to himself. His world is dangerous, uncertain, violent...and there is no room in it for the helpless and weak. Then the most beautiful woman in the world moves in next door to him . . . 
Nicole Pearce's life is complicated enough--with an ailing father and a new business to worry about--and the last thing she needs is to get involved with a secretive, hard-bodied, hardheaded neighbor. Yet Sam leaves her breathless--her body tingling with erotic desire--and it takes every ounce of her fabled control to resist offering herself to him, no strings attached. What she doesn't know is that Sam Reston is on an undercover assignment . . . and she's about to step into the crossfire.

Never has Sam ached for a woman so badly, and he's never fallen in love before. Now that Nicole is in grave danger, he will become her shield, and guard the tempting body he longs to touch and taste. Because a terrorist plot hatched half a world away is heading to their doorstep--and it can only be derailed by one man and one woman.

Into the Crossfire is book one in Lisa Marie Rice's Protector's series.   For the genre, Into the Crossfire meets all the basic requirements.  It is fast paced and exciting, albeit a little predictable.   But what is memorable is the incredibly hot first sexual encounter between the two characters.  Yikes!  I'm still fanning myself after reading that...I keep asking, "is that really possible?" 

My biggest criticism about the book is that I found Sam to be a little jarring. He tends to be overwhelming (or is that overbearing?)  I wish he were even more likable.  

This is a fun, fast read with plenty of hot steam.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Oh, this one is going to be fun!  Join us in reading about the men and women who bring us thrills, make us feel protected, and look darn good in uniform.  

Reading Challenge Details:
  • Runs January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013 (books read prior to 1/1/2013 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime. Sign up at the The Book Vixen Blog
  • The goal is to read as many novels that feature men in uniform as you’d like. It can be a policeman, firefighter, paramedic, doctor, veterinarian,  Army, Navy, Marine Corp., etc. – As long as the leading man wears some sort of uniform, it counts. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. You can move up a level as often as you’d like but no moving down.
  • Books can be any format (bound, ebook, audio).
  • Books can be any genre (contemporary romance, m/m romance, fiction, non-fiction, etc.).
  • Novellas that are at least 100 pages in length, as well as full-length novels, will count for this reading challenge.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
     Sergeant – Read 1–5 men in uniform novels
     Lieutenant – Read 6–10 men in uniform novels
     Captain – Read 11–15 men in uniform novels
     Chief – Read 16+ men in uniform novels

As this is one of my favorite genres to read, I'm going for the top tier.  Sign me up for Chief status!  

1. Shades of Gray by Maya Banks     
2. Free Fall by Catherine Mann
3. Midnight Secrets by Elle Grace    
4. Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare
5. Breaking Point by Pamela Clare (re-read via Audiobook) 

Umm, I might be ahead of schedule...

6.  Naked Edge by Pamela Clare
7.  Shadow Game by Christine Feehan                                               
8.  Mind Game by Christine Feehan
9.  Night Game by Christine Feehan                                               
10.Protecting What's His by Tessa Bailey
11.Wild Card by Lora Leigh                                               
12.The Night is Mine by M.L. Buchman
13. His Southern Temptation by Robin Covington                                                
14. Deadly Game by Christine Feehan
15. No Regrets by Shannon K. Butcher                                                
16. A SEAL's Seduction by Tawney Weber
17. The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood
18. Forgotten Sins by Rebecca Zanetti
19. Hush by Carey Baldwin
20. Wild Man by Kristen Ashley
21. Secret Maneuvers by Jessie Lane
22. Forged In Steele by Maya Banks
23. Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris
24. SEAL of Honor by Tonya Burrows
25. Officer Off Limits by Tessa Bailey
26. Exposed by Laura Griffin
27. His Risk to Take by Tessa Bailey
28. Predatory Game by Christine Feehan
29. Against the Dark by Carolyn Crane
30. Deadly Game by Christine Feehan

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW "Breath on Embers" by Anne Calhoun

Christmas is the perfect time for Firefighter Ronan O’Rourke to take things to the next level with his sexually adventurous girlfriend. He knows she has feelings for him—and he’s sure of his feelings for her—but when Thea refuses his invitation to sample Christmas in New York City because what they share is nothing more than sheet-burning sex, Ronan sets out to change her mind.

Deep down Thea Moretti knows she cares for Ronan, but she can’t move past her grief over her late husband. Loud music and sex with Ronan are the only things she’s got that her feel alive, so she takes as much of both as she can get. She knows Ronan wants more, but during the darkest time of the year finding her way won’t be easy.

Ronan gambles everything and challenges Thea: one night of passion with him and another man. Can he prove to her that what they share isn’t just great sex but an emotional connection strong enough to last forever?


I’ve made it no secret that I’ve pretty much crossed completely over to M/M books and have a hard time enjoying M/F books.  Too many annoying women characters snaking the hot, perfect man.  Not fair! (*stomps feet in a tantrum*)

But, I wanted to read something smutty and easy and felt “Breath on Embers” might be just the ticket. And for 6+ chapters, I was feeling it!  

Ronan is a HOT NY firefighter who is lookin’ for love.  Thea is a widow, still grieving, convinced she’s dead inside and just wants sex.  For 9 months they go on this way.  Reading through, I was falling for Ronan and rooting for him to convince Thea to give him a REAL chance.  

And then, it happened…the story was ruined…ruined by a ridiculous and needless ménage scene.  WHY do authors do this?  So un-freaking-necessary.  And then I was just over it. Argh...

Other than that, this book was fairly entertaining, sexy, and sweet for the holidays.

Decent panty-changing smut factor, HOT fireman, not-entirely-annoying female lead, ridiculous ménage. If you can get past that (and I know some of you pervs will actually LOVE it! Ha!), you’ll enjoy this.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

SUSAN: GIVEAWAY "Afflicted II' by Brandon Shire

If you were as swept away as many of us by the story of Hunter & Dillon and their HFN ending...wanting and waiting for more...

..."Afflicted II" is being released on December 6, 2012!!! *applause heard round the world*

And the Goodreads Brandon Shire Fan Group has a giveaway!  If you go and become a member of the group, leaving a comment on the giveaway thread, you can be one of 3 chosen at random to win an e-copy (any available format) of this book!  And if you haven't read book 1 yet, you can choose to get an e-copy of the first instead!

Simple as that! Good luck!

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW "How to Repair A Mechanical Heart" by J.C. Lillis

Eighteen-year-old Castaway Planet fans Brandon and Abel hate bad fan fiction—especially when it pairs their number-one TV crushes of all time, dashing space captain Cadmus and dapper android Sim. As co-runners of the Internet’s third most popular Castaway Planet vlog, they love to spar with the “Cadsim” fangirls who think Cadmus will melt Sim’s mechanical heart by the Season 5 finale. This summer, Brandon and Abel have a mission: hit the road in an RV to follow the traveling Castaway Planet convention, interview the actors and showrunner, and uncover proof that a legit Cadsim romance will NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.

A Brandon and Abel romance: also not happening. Brandon’s sick of his struggle to make “gay and Catholic” compute, so it’s safer to love a TV android. Plus Abel’s got a hot new boyfriend with a phoenix tattoo, and how can Brandon compete with that? But when mysterious messages about them start popping up in the fan community, they make a shocking discovery that slowly forces their real feelings to the surface. Before they get to the last Castaway Planet convention, Brandon’s going to find out the truth: can a mechanical heart be reprogrammed, or will his first shot at love be a full system failure?

4.5 stars...bright, shining stars...

I ADORED this book…like hugging my Kindle and giving it a peck on the cheek and then the forehead and a light tap on the cheek kind of adoration. 

If I had any talent, THIS would be the book I would have wanted to write…because it’s me in a nutshell (well, if I was 18 again, and male, and gay…but yeah, in every other sense…)

1. I’m a total geek, especially sci fi (Battlestar Galactica is my personal favorite. And yes, I’ve been to ComicCon…many times)
2. I love geek humor and the crazies who embrace it!
3. I grew up in the church so I know all about the nagging, judgmental voice in my head. 
4. I’m obsessed with RV’s. I’ve always wanted one.
5. Brandon and Abel are the exact types of people I’d write about: quirky, obsessive, funny, adorable…(though Brandon’s neurosis started to wear me down a bit towards the end)
6. Extreme fandom - anyone who's seen me commenting on every status update and discussion board about Special Forces and all my !!!!!'s, has seen how crazy I can get! This obsessive behavior is perfectly captured in this book!

I don’t even typically like YA books, but I LOVED this one.

Now, with all that being said, I don’t know that this book is for everyone. I think you have to like the weird, “off” types to enjoy the characters and their nuttiness. But, if you do…man, this book will be a real treat!

Geeks-at-heart will love this!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Steel's Edge" by Ilona Andrews

Richard Mar
Charlotte de Ney

SUMMARY from Goodreads:

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale—and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Charlotte de Ney is as noble as they come, a blueblood straight out of the Weird. But even though she possesses rare magical healing abilities, her life has brought her nothing but pain. After her marriage crumbles, she flees to the Edge to build a new home for herself. Until Richard Mar is brought to her for treatment, and Charlotte’s life is turned upside down once again.

Richard is a swordsman without peer, future head of his large and rambunctious Edger clan—and he’s on a clandestine quest to wipe out slavers trafficking humans in the Weird. So when his presence leads his very dangerous enemies to Charlotte, she vows to help Richard destroy them. The slavers’ operation, however, goes deeper than Richard knows, and even working together, Charlotte and Richard may not survive.


You know that feeling of euphoria you feel after you have read a great book?  Be prepared for a double shot of it with Steel's EdgeSteel's Edge is book 4 in The Edge series by the wife and husband team known as the author, Ilona Andrews.

I've liked The Edge series from the start.   Still, being a huge Kate Daniels fan, The Edge series was always "the other" books by the author.  Not any more, this book rivals any of Ilona Andrews other writings and may very well be my favorite.

Why do I love this book?

*The story is compelling.  Richard is on the hunt to bring down an illegal slave trade.  He has been working to develop connections, gather intelligence and dismantle the system.  The system reaches to the highest levels in the aristocracy.  He is aided in his quest by Charlotte, who as the Greatest Healer of her time, also has dark secrets.  For every yin there is a yang.  Charlotte has the power to heal but she can also employ that power to kill and bring plague.   

*For the things that you would expect from this author - Ilona Andrews is a powerhouse at world-building. Her world is imaginative from the Edge to the Weird to the Broken and then Cauldron.  Her descriptions are vivid.  The way she describes the life in and about the slave trade is chilling. 

*The characters are mature.  Both Richard and Charlotte are older than the characters from previous books.  They are more experienced in life.  Both have been married and experienced love before.  They come to their union with more understanding and also more baggage. (And there intimate scene are very hot)

Charlotte is a striking  heroine with an indomitable spirit.  In an exchange with an enemy who challenges her standing: 

"Don't try to belittle me; your hopeless outclassed.  I see shortcomings in your every single aspect, from your lack of taste to your rotten morality.  You've involved yourself in the basest of crimes.  You facilitated murder, rape, and the torture of children.  Your conduct is unbecoming a peer of realm."  Oh, snap!  

She is confident in who she is and is determined to a fault.  And I love her spirit!

Richard is my kind of hero: steadfast, honorable, skilled, caring and determined.  I love the way he is in awe of her.  When he experiences the power of her magic: 

"...he stood in the epicenter of her silent storm, a feeling of otherworldly awe claimed him, as if he became part of a mystical event that could be explained, only experienced....He had encountered something greater than the limits of his ordinary life, and he was both alarmed and drawn to it." 

* Illona Andrews brings back some of the most memorable supporting characters - Jack, Sophie, George, and Eleonore.  It feels like a homecoming with Sophie and the boys in the mix.  

*You got a to love a book that gives a nod to one of the best movies of all time, Princess Bride -  "I do not thing that word means what you think it was means."


This is nearly a perfect book.  I say nearly even though I couldn't find anything I didn't like about it, but surely there must be, right? 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Exquisite" by Ella Frank

Dr. Lena O'Donnell
Mason Langley

Dr. Lena O'Donnell is a workaholic.  Why does she work so much? It is easier to be distracted by work, to help cover up the hurt than to feel the guilt and loss of losing a loved one.  It is easier to build a wall and guard your heart than let someone in and expect them to leave you. 

Mason Langley comes from a warm, loving, giving, and expressive family.  So it is no surprise that he chooses to express his love and joy through cooking.  He is the hot, chef/owner of Exquisite - the hottest new restaurant in Chicago.  While doing a favor for his mom, he runs into the Ice Queen - Lena.  And although experiencing a little frost bite himself, he is intrigued by her warmth and love for her pediatric patients. 

Who doesn't love a man who has the tenacity to breakthrough the guarded heart of a broken woman? Mason takes a lot of hits from the quick tempered, smart mouth, guarded Lena.  In all the ways we guard our own hearts, maybe we all see a little of ourselves in Lena.  And that's what makes Mason such as dream man.  It first starts with intrigue, but blossoms into full on attraction, passion, then appreciation and love.   

As the story surely goes, Mason is not perfect and doesn't deal with tragedy well either.  But this is a story about risk, tenacity and persistence and true love.  (And it doesn't hurt to have one of the steamiest No-Touching shower scenes ever written).

As much as I really enjoyed this book, it took me awhile to see the special nature of the story.  I only fully understood how much I liked this story when I experienced an inordinate amount of joy hearing of it's sequel!

I was moved.  I was brought to tears. I was satisfied. A highly recommended contemporary romance.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Charade" by Nyrae Dawn

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
Nineteen-year-old Cheyenne tries to portray the perfect life to mask the memories of her past. Walking in on her boyfriend with another woman her freshman year in college threatens that picture of perfection. 

Twenty-one-year-old Colt never wanted college and never expected to amount to anything, but when his mom's dying wish is for him to get his degree, he has no choice but to pretend it's what he wants too. 

Cheyenne needs a fake boyfriend to get back at her ex and Colt needs cash to take care of his mom, so they strike a deal that helps them both. But what if Cheyenne’s past isn’t what she thought? Soon they’re trading one charade for another—losing themselves in each other to forget about their pain. The more they play their game, the more it becomes the only thing they have that feels real.

Both Cheyenne and Colt know life is never easy, but neither of them expect the tragedy that threatens to end their charade and rip them apart forever.

I decided to read this book after an outstanding review of it from my friends, Amber and Michael on Goodreads....And they were NOT wrong.  This is an emotionally powerful book, more than the summary above would indicate. 

Michael says that Nyrae Dawn is a master of both the male POV voice.  And for me, often in YA books, this makes the biggest difference.  Authors of YA often write the female POV well, but I'm often left with a two dimensional portrait of the male lead character.  Ms. Dawn gets into the heart of her male characters, drawing out the vulnerability, strength and the "sweet."  

The story itself is compelling with both characters dealing with difficulties in the past and present that leaves them fractured.  I kept thinking that these characters are still so young and dealing with so much pain and even though I, myself, have not had those same experiences, I felt I understood deeply.  It is the first time in a long time that I shed tears from a story.  Maybe I've become a little cynical.  But this kind of read - a well-written, heart touching story, brings me back to why I love YA books.  This book has all the right elements without too much adolescent drama.  Due to some of the mature themes, I recommend this to an older YA audience.  

I highly recommend this book for a emotionally rewarding and satisfying read. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Rock Chick" by Kristen Ashley

Indy Savage
Lee Nightingale

Indy Savage, cop's daughter, rock chick and used bookstore owner, has been in love with Lee Nightingale, once bad boy, now the man behind Nightingale Investigations, since she was five years old. No matter what ingenious schemes Indy used to capture his attention, Lee never showed an interest and Indy finally gave up. Now Indy's employee, Rosie, has lost a bag of diamonds and bad guys are shooting at him. When Indy gets involved, Lee is forced to help. Complicating matters, Lee has decided he's interested, Indy's decided she's not. But she can't seem to keep Lee out of her life when she's repeatedly stun gunned, kidnapped and there are car bombs exploding (not to mention she's finding dead bodies).

Indy's best bet is to solve the mystery of the diamonds before Lee. Lee's challenge is to keep Indy alive and, at the same time, win back her heart.

So often times when I recommend a series, I find myself saying, "the first book is a little slow, but stick with it because the series is amazing."  Not with Rock Chick, the book takes off right out of the gate and does not stop until the very last page.  There is no way to adequately summarize this first book in the Rock Chick series.  It epitomizes the fun, fantasy, and drama which is the hallmark of these books.  

This book is so much like Indy - I characterize her as .... Sparkly.  This book is like Indy's wardrobe.  Sparkly, as in throwing out sparks, performing brilliantly, effervescent, lively or animated (Merriam Webster).  And Lee, oh man, he is the epitome of the alpha male with "the Sweet."  The way he pursues, protects and loves Indy is every girl's fantasy.  

As a bonus, in the midst of this, we have a mystery to solve involving stolen diamonds, a missing thief, the mafia, and the appearance of the "Hot Bunch". Oh, my!  You cannot miss the Hot Bunch!

I love Kristen Ashley's books and this is one of her very best.  This book is NOT to be missed!

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Fatal Justice" by Marie Force

Samantha Holland
Nick Cappuano

SUMMARY From Goodreads:
She looked into the dead face of the man she'd dined with the night before

Standing over the body of a Supreme Court nominee, Lieutenant Sam Holland is hip-deep in another high-profile murder case. The fact that she was one of the last people to see Julian Sinclair alive just complicates things even more. On the plus side, her relationship with Senator Nick Cappuano is heating up—but it's also attracting a lot of unwanted media attention and blinding flash bulbs.

The pressure is on for Sam to find Sinclair's killer, but a new lead in her father's unsolved shooting puts her in unexpected danger. When long-buried secrets threaten to derail her relationship with Nick, Sam realizes that while justice can be blind, mixing romance with politics has the potential to be fatal...


I thought the first book was good, this one is even better. I absolutely love this story.  It is a perfectly balanced fare of crime, suspense and romance. This is book 2 in Marie Force's Fatal Series.  It is the continuing story of newly promoted Lt. Samantha Holland and new appointed US Senator Nick Cappuano.  

Nick is an easy character to love.  He is so warm, gentle, manly, caring and devoted.  His is outwardly emotional and wears his love for Samantha on his sleeve.  Sam is a little more prickly. I've seen reviews where readers think she is mean and undeserving of Nick.  I love that about Sam's character.  She is a balance between hard and soft edges.  She is hot tempered, bossy, foul-mouthed at times, and demanding.  She also has a sarcastic sense of humor ...just like virtually every cop I know.  I love that she is not perfect, is beyond competent in her own career,  but when she is with Nick, she can let it all go and be soft like butter.  

But this isn't just about Sam and Nick.  The supporting characters are evolving too.  Detective Freddy Cruz - the recently deflowered virgin, Detective Tommy Gonzo Gonzalez - the recently captured playboy, the increasingly involved Detective Jeannie McBride, Skip Holland - Sam's retired and IOD (injured on duty) father who is now a quadriplegic and new groom, are an eclectic group who help in solving crimes and contributing to the fun. 

The book is a perfectly balanced fare of crime, suspense and romance.  I can't wait for the next read Fatal Consequences!

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "The Marriage Mistake"

Carina Conte has had a crush on her brother Michael’s best friend, Max Gray, since she was a teenager. Now she’s earned her MBA and come to work at Michael’s new venture, America’s fastest-growing bakery empire. But some things never change: her family still treats her like a child. With three drop-dead gorgeous siblings, she’s still the ugly duckling of the bunch. And Max, the company’s new CEO, still barely notices her.

Max knows Carina Conte is strictly off limits. But hot-blooded lust wins out at a conference when the two share a scorching one-night stand—and are busted by her mother! Now, forced by old-world Italian tradition into a marriage he’s not ready for, Max is miserable—and Carina is furious. Her new husband is about to realize that hell hath no fury like a woman transformed…

If you liked the Marriage Bargain, you will enjoy this book.  If you had some difficulties with the first story, you will find the same problems with this book.  The characters are fun and interesting, but their struggles are more cliche than not and thus is not really memorable.  

It feels like two books, BTB (before the bedding) and ATB (after the bedding).  The BTB part is the traditional story - girl has a crush on big brother's hot best friend, girl gets rejected, goes away to mature, returns as a hottie, best friend is reluctantly attracted, and eventually both let go of their inhibitions.  The ATB is a little more interesting.  Instead of living the HEA, Carina decides that she wants to pursue what is really important to her even if that means she has to reject Max.  It is nice to see a heroine challenge the expectations from her family, friends, and society to go for her own dreams. Unfortunately, this part comes too late in the story and there is just not enough of it to make up for the milquetoast start.  

I wouldn't run out to read this book unless you really loved the Marriage Bargain and the Marriage Trap.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing the ARC.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Until There Was You" by Jessica Scott

Evan Loehr
Claire Montoya

A by-the-book captain with a West Point background, Evan Loehr refuses to mix business with pleasure—except for an unguarded instance years ago when he succumbed to the deep sensuality of redheaded beauty Claire Montoya. Since that brief lapse in judgment, Evan has been at odds with her. But when he is asked to train a combat team alongside Claire, battle-hardened Evan is in for the fight of his life.
Strong, gutsy, and loyal, Captain Claire Montoya has worked hard to achieve her high military rank. In Evan Loehr, Claire sees a spoiled commander who puts the rules before everything else—including his people. Army orders force them together and Claire soon discovers that there is more to Evan than meets the eye. He too has dark secrets and deep longings. For all their differences, Evan and Claire share two crucial passions: their country and each other.

Until There Was You is book two in the Coming Home series.  

I love Loveswept books.  I call them my palate cleansers.  They are usually nice, sweet, satisfying stories that make me happy.  These are books that help clean away some of the dark emotions that linger after tough reads and prepare your reading palate for the next adventure.  This being a military romance, I thought there would be more action but still a sweet story.  This was not really the book I thought it was going to be.  It was deep and thoughtful.  It was more than just a love story, but also about the politics of the military and those who are ruled by ego.  It is about following orders and not following them, and it is about loyalty.  

I understand that the author, Jessica Scott, was in the military.  Her experience shows.  This story is authentic and well-written. Impressive.  

If you are interested in reading about some of the challenges of developing a relationship in the context of preparing for war, check out this  insider perspective.

Thank you to Netgalley for making this read possible. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

SUSAN: POST "Face to Face with Aleksandr Voinov"

This past weekend, I had the INCREDIBLE joy of being able to spend the evening with one of my FAVORITE authors, Aleksandr Voinov.  For those that read his work, you know he has the ability to create characters that produce such FIERCE emotions (loyalty, hatred, love, obsession…) within his readers. And his stories are…flawless.

For my book-reading community, you know well that I am obsessed with Aleks (…mostly because you all are too! Ha!) So, when I was planning a brief vacation in London, he so kindly and generously agreed to meet up.  I met Aleks at Veeraswamy, the Indian restaurant Malcolm takes Owen to in “Country Mouse”.  How cool is THAT?! :)  The place was gorgeous and the food phenomenal.  But, that, of course, is secondary. 

I knew I would be the weeping idiot fan girl. I teared up immediately when he embraced me in greeting.  He was kind and warm and friendly.  I didn’t want it to be a “book club” meeting where we only talked about his stories and characters.  I wanted to get to know the man himself.  What I found was that he is charming, big-hearted, funny, spiritual, humble, and approachable. 

Yes, we talked about Vadim & Nikolai, Kendras/Andrastes, Skybound, other authors, the inundation of gifs on Goodreads, some of our favorite GR peeps, some future spoilers, and of course, The Muse.  But, we also talked about our childhoods, struggles, families, relationships, Rhianna (yup, go figure), London, our kinks, homeownership, and on. 

I had SUCH a blast. I felt an immediate kinship and by night’s end, Aleks became more of a friend in my eyes than a “famous author”. So thankful for the opportunity and life feels fuller now with him in it!   

Thanks, Aleks.  Looking forward to next time…