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!