<i>Do Not Forsake Me</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Do Not Forsake Me: Exclusive Excerpt Rosanne Bittner "He always knew there’d be the devil to pay." <i>The Perfect Bargain</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Perfect Bargain: Exclusive Excerpt Jessa McAdams "He was right—she was too prim for that." <i>The Devil Wears Spurs</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Devil Wears Spurs: Exclusive Excerpt Soraya Lane "She swallowed, hard, trying to think of something witty to say." <i>Heat of the Moment</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Heat of the Moment: Exclusive Excerpt Lori Handeland "I hesitated, but now that I’d opened the door..."
From The Blog
July 1, 2015
The Role of Family in Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy
Sharon Ashwood
July 1, 2015
Romance News: Reisz, Roberts, and Ward!
Heather Waters
July 1, 2015
O Canada! Celebrating Canadian Romance Writers
Darlene Marshall
June 30, 2015
Top 5 Nerds in Romance (and Why We Love Them)
Jennifer Probst
June 30, 2015
Best Reads of June 2015
Team H & H
Showing posts by: Lime Cello click to see Lime Cello's profile
Tue
Jun 2 2015 11:00am

First Look: Nalini Singh’s Shards of Hope (June 2, 2015)

Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh
Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling #14)
Penguin Publishing / June 2, 2015 / $26.95 print, $12.99 digital

The “smoldering heat, epic romance, and awesome action”* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as two Arrows find themselves caught in a chilling conspiracy that spans all three races…

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what. This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.

*Jaci Burton, New York Times bestselling author

I know everyone is going to be talking about Nalini Singh's Shards of Hope on release day, and a lot of plot points...but I want to focus on the little things as it were. First of all, I love the title, and it really fits. I think the entire series is very clever with how the each title matches its book, but I think Shards of Hope fits it to a T. Aden and Zaire are such interesting, lovely, unusual, and balanced characters. Aden has been a fan favorite, and I was so glad to see his heroine is someone who loves and protects him so fiercely. In fact, we all know Aden is no slouch - he's the head of the Arrows, which should be enough to tell you how scary he is. Full stop. And I just have to mention—without spoilers—how much I absolutely love what his psychic ability is. But that all being said? Zaire is the one you want to watch out for. Not because she's broken and out of control like she initially thinks she is, but because of her inspiring intensity and devotion to Aden...and her surprisingly soft heart. She's a marshmallow with children or people society might label as damaged...but she'll end you in the blink of an eye if she ever considers you a threat to Aden.

[A kickass lady is great backup...]

Wed
Apr 29 2015 10:45am

First Look: Beth Kery’s Glimmer (May 5, 2015)

Glimmer by Beth Kery

Beth Kery
Glimmer (Glimmer and Glow Series #1)
Berkley / May 5, 2015 / $16.99 print, $9.99 digital

After graduating from her M.B.A. program, Alice Reed is surprised when she’s recruited for the management training experience at legendary Camp Durand, owned by Durand Inc.’s young, billionaire CEO, Dylan Fall. The company usually recruits from Ivy League schools, not insignificant colleges like Alice’s.

Alice enthusiastically accepts, but she still wonders why Dylan would choose a girl from the wrong side of the tracks for the prestigious program. But after a passionate encounter one night, she discovers exactly why—Dylan wants her, and Alice can hardly resist his fierce sexual appetites, though she is amazed that she could appeal to an experienced, sophisticated man like Dylan.

As Dylan introduces her to thrilling, erotic territory, Alice discovers a delicious new part of herself. Night after night, she steals away to find ecstasy and escape in Dylan’s arms. But behind her lover’s powerfully magnetic facade, Alice senses darkness, secrets from Dylan’s past lurking in his beautiful, lonely mansion—secrets that are starting to haunt Alice. And the ghosts of the truth might tear Dylan and Alice apart forever . . .

Glimmer is one of the best books I've read this year. I first read this book in February, and as soon as I finished it I knew I'd want to read it again. In fact, the second time around I noticed a number of things had so much more meaning. It's one of the books that has stayed with me all year. Beth Kery's writing has a way of drawing you in, so make sure you have a free day to read this book.

[A night of thrill that turns into bliss.]

Sat
Mar 28 2015 10:00am

First Look: Kele Moon’s The Slayer (March 31, 2015)

The Slayer by Kele MoonKele Moon
The Slayer
Loose Id LLC / March 31, 2015

To Chuito the apartment was a self-imposed prison for a lifetime of sins. To Alaine, the girl next door, it was salvation from her overbearing, religious father.

He was a devil.

She was an angel.

Two people who should’ve never met, let alone become friends, but it’s not until they give into the dangerous passion that’s been simmering under the surface for five years that things go to hell.

On the outside, Chuito ‘The Slayer’ Garcia is on top of the world. He’s successful. He’s wealthy. He's a champion MMA fighter surrounded by friends who support him, but they don’t know what he was before he came to Garnet.

A gangster.

A thief.

An addict.

A murderer.

Now his past is churning up demons he can’t ignore. Chuito knows he needs to go back to Miami to end it, but there's something holding him back, a single temptation he can't resist before leaving.

Alaine

She’s the one drug he can’t give up…even if it destroys them both.​

​I don't even know where to start with Kele Moon's The Slayer. Just... damn. This book is intense. I read it in one day, and I resented each and every thing that took my time away from it. (Like, deeply resented. There may have been yelling. Possibly.) That's how good The Slayer is. In fact, I happened to read The Viper over a weekend, and it was so good I immediately ran to Moon's webpage and saw The Slayer was coming out and I went all I must have this book now. And it worked, so I'm sharing with you. This is a really good book. There's so much going on yet the story doesn't get bogged down. Incredible.

[He's just that good. And that dangerous.]

Mon
Jan 26 2015 11:45am

First Look: Kelly Jamieson’s Playing Dirty (January 27, 2015)

Kelly Jamieson
Playing Dirty (Windy City Kink, Book 3)
Samhain Publishing / January 27, 2015 / $4.99 digital

What seems like surrender may not be surrender at all...

Paige Nelson has an amazing new life in a new city with her own business and new friends, her abusive ex-husband firmly in her past. Plans to expand her business are running into a few roadblocks, but she doesn't need a man to help her. She can do this on her own.

From the minute he lays eyes on Paige, prominent developer Raff Lauden wants her. Intensely. Urgently. Though petite and delicate usually isn't his type, he finds himself asking her out. Even more surprising? She says no.

Paige has a history of being attracted to dominant, controlling man. The kind she swore never to get involved with again. But maybe she's trying to resist the one man who can give her everything she's ever really wanted...

This is probably my favorite book I've read so far this year, and my favorite thing about Playing Dirty by Kelly Jamieson is how human the characters are. Paige and Raff are just so well developed. They're absolutely dynamic. In fact, (perhaps excluding Paige's ex) I don't think there's a single static character in the book. I also knew going in that this book takes place in the “middle” of a series, but I had no problem keeping up. This book definitely stands alone.

[We'll stand by it!]

Sat
Dec 27 2014 3:30pm

First Look: Melanie Scott’s Angel in Armani (December 30, 2014)

Angel in Armani by Melanie ScottMelanie Scott
Angel in Armani
St. Martin's Press / December 30, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

Sara Charles is striking out on her own. With her dad out of commission, Charles Air has only one helicopter left—and only Sara to fly charters. With the family business in jeopardy, Sara needs all the clients she can get and the newest one is New York Saints team surgeon, Lucas Angelo. When an unexpected flirtation escalates into a night of pure blind passion, Sara is in agony over what she believes was extremely poor judgment on her part. She wants nothing more than to avoid Lucas. And keep her business her business. But she needs him—in more ways than one.

But there is a catch: Lucas also needs Sara. Spring training is upon him, and his schedule is madness. So he asks Sara to be his personal pilot. It’s an offer she can’t refuse. She intends to keep him at arm’s length—especially when she discovers just what different lives they have. Little does Sara know that, for Lucas, the only thing more important than business is pleasure. He only plays to win. And he intends to hit it out of the park…

I have to say that it's been a while since I read a baseball romances. I like most sports romances, and baseball was the first professional sport I ever got into, so it was nice to revisit it. At its heart, Melanie Scott's Angel in Armani is a sweet Cinderella story. Don't get me wrong, the hero and heroine definitely have sex. In fact, they hook up pretty early on. The “sweet” label comes about, though, because Sara and Lucas have sex early on (and throughout), but once that's established, the book focuses on the relationship and outside factors more than the physicality. And for the Cinderella theme, Angel in Armani would be the period between Prince Charming finding Cinderella, and them getting married. Which is definitely a new perspective.

[Are there any missing shoes?]

Tue
Dec 2 2014 12:20pm

First Look: Megan Mulry’s Roulette (December 2, 2014)

Roulette by Megan MulryMegan Mulry
Roulette
Montlake / December 2, 2014 / $12.99 print / $3.99 digital

Miki Durand has always dodged the limelight. As the illegitimate daughter of a French movie star and a Russian billionaire, she craves a normal life—and it’s almost within reach. She’s up for a tenure-track position and has a perfect-on-paper boyfriend. What more could a woman want?

But when an unforeseen tragedy knocks her off cruise control, Miki finds herself leaving sunny LA for cosmopolitan St. Petersburg. With the fate of her father’s international business in her hands, she comes face-to-face with the ultimate temptation: corporate rival Jérôme Michel de Villiers. He’s everything she never thought she wanted, and their sizzling attraction soon sparks into an all-consuming flame.

Notoriously risk-averse, Miki knows it would be a gamble to fall for the sexy French playboy. But for the first time in her life, she’s ready to take a chance and let the chips fall where they may.

I decided to read Megan Mulry's Roulette on a whim; I didn't know much more about the book than what was in the blurb. I thought I saw someone say it was like an updated Harlequin Presents (which was a plus in my book), and it is that, sort of, but it's so much more. I'm so glad I read Roulette, and I already know I'll be re-reading it.

[Spin the bottle wheel!]

Tue
Oct 28 2014 9:30am

First Look: Sonali Dev’s A Bollywood Affair (October 28, 2014)

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali DevSonali Dev
A Bollywood Affair
Kensington / October 28, 2014 / $15.00 print, $13.50 digital

Mili Rathod has been bound by marriage since she was four years old. But when her husband shows no sign of claiming her after twenty years of waiting, Mili grabs the chance to leave India and come to America on a scholarship.

Playboy filmmaker Samir ''Sam'' Rathod is Bollywood's favorite bad boy. He'll do anything for his big brother - even travel halfway across the globe to take care of the ''wife'' who just crawled out of his brother's past. Yet Mili isn't the simple village girl Sam expected. She's a whirlwind who sucks him into her roommate's elaborate elopement and soon has him drowning in her onyx eyes. And though Mili fancies herself in love with his big brother, the husband she has never met, Sam is hoping for a very different ending.

In Sonali Dev's A Bollywood Affair, Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.

[An affair of the smart!]

Mon
Oct 6 2014 11:15am

First Look: HelenKay Dimon’s Only (October 7, 2014)

Only by HelenKay Dimon

HelenKay Dimon
Only
Berkley Trade / October 7, 2014 / $15.00 print / $9.99 digital

Sebastian Jameson negotiates for high-end clients who need problems taken care of quickly and discreetly. Accustomed to being in control, he’s still reeling from his ex-wife’s decision to write a tell-all about their private life, one that highlighted their bedroom activities. The fallout left Bast’s love life in chaos, making him a magnet for women who thrive on risky fantasies, and a pariah to all others.

Kyra Royer knows all about Bast’s reputation—and is intrigued enough to try to change him into a one-woman guy. But getting him into her bed will be a challenge. He’s known her brother for years, and her brother, with his rough past and sniper abilities, is not a man you cross. Kyra knows Bast thinks she’s off-limits, so she’ll have to get creative to make him hers.

As Kyra turns up the heat, Bast struggles to resist the sexy young woman’s considerable charms. But when Bast’s job turns from tricky to deadly, keeping Kyra nearby might be the only way to keep her alive—even if it means getting closer than he ever intended…​

Only ​is the second book in HelenKay Dimon's Holton Woods series. I really love the setting and set of characters in this series. I'm not a “series zealot,” so I don't demand series be read in order, but in this case I'd say it is important to read Mercy first. While Only technically can be read alone, I think you'd miss a lot and be a little lost. There's an easy solution though: read both. You'll thank me.

[Have Mercy!]

Sun
May 4 2014 10:00am

First Look: HelenKay Dimon’s Mercy (May 6, 2014)

Mercy by HelenKay DimonHelenKay Dimon
Mercy
Berkley / May 6, 2014 / $15.00 print, $9.99 digital

After she infiltrated his business and betrayed his trust, a disavowed CIA agent must seek sanctuary in the bedroom of a man who will either help her, kill her, or bring her to her knees…

Becca Ford is on her own. Eight months after she headed up a sting operation to take down millionaire club owner Jarrett Holt, the other agents in her special ops team have been eliminated under odd circumstances, and she needs a place to hide.

Jarrett is a man who prefers darkness to light. He deals in the only truly valuable currency—information—and his supper club caters to an exclusive clientele. It was an uncharacteristic moment of weakness when he let a woman into his life. But it’s not luck that the criminal charges disappeared...as did the evidence.

When Becca returns to the club seeking his help, Jarrett doesn’t want to hear her story. But he does want her body, and demands that she give it to him. He’ll keep her safe—for now—but it’ll be in his bed and on his terms, until he says they’re done. 

You're going to want to clear some time out of your day and read this book. It's an erotic romance, first and foremost. I really loved the unusual characters and storyline. With Mercy every aspect of the book fits. The title, the cover, the characters all match up nicely. HelenKay Dimon is an excellent writer and storyteller, and I'd definitely be interested in reading more books from this world.

Becca is literally a kickass heroine. She's a highly trained covert operative—in fact, she's in black ops. It's very entertaining and enjoyable. Think Burn Notice, but our super spy is a girl. I loved it.

[She's coming for your job, Michael Westen...]

Fri
May 2 2014 9:30am

First Look: Beth Kery’s Since I Saw You (May 6, 2014)

Beth Kery
Since I Saw You (Because You Are Mine)
Penguin / May 6, 2014 / $16.00 print & $9.99 digital

When enigmatic billionaire Ian Noble sets Lin the task of “taming” his brilliant yet half-savage brother Kam Reardon, she eagerly accepts. She’s more than curious about the solitary genius and everything she’s heard about him. During their electric first meeting, her fascination increases a hundredfold. Kam practically oozes raw sex appeal. Lin is interested...very interested. But does her intense attraction and willingness to go places with him she’s never gone before in the bedroom really have to do with Kam? Or is her carefully hidden desire to blame for wanting a man she knows she can never have?

An elusive outsider, Kam avoids intimacy, yet never shies away from satisfying his erotic appetites. But there’s something different about Lin—a reserve he’s anxious to break. She’s a woman he’s eager to take his time with…and possess completely. A sophisticated beauty like her would never want him anywhere but in bed, but he finds himself unable to resist her.

Immediately Lin’s smooth facade is undone by Kam’s overwhelming masculinity and by his irresistible erotic demands—a lesson in subjugation that leaves Lin confused, reeling, and open to things she never thought possible. Now, as the unpredictable nights between them grow darker, Lin and Kam are certain of only one thing: they’re made for each other.

I loved this book. It's one of my favorite books I've read this year, and likely it'll make the list for 2014. If not more. While First Looks usually focus on one exceptional element, I have to tell you—Beth Kery's Since I Saw You is the whole package. The characters, the writing, the romance, the pacing, the emotion—I wish every book was like this.

[High praise indeed...]

Tue
Apr 15 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Cara McKenna’s Her Best Laid Plans (April 15, 2014)

Her Best Laid Plans by Cara McKennaCara McKenna
Her Best Laid Plans
Harlequin's Cosmo Red Hot Reads / April 15, 2014 / $3.99 digital

Experience Ireland—the dramatic beauty, the warm hospitality…and the smoking hot local guys!

Imagine nursing a pint in a cozy, authentic country pub, far from Cork's busy city pulse. Getting here took you a plane, bus, taxi and…um, bicycle. But just as you're resigning yourself to drinking beside grey-haired farmers, you see him—a man with the looks and charm to soothe any heartbroken girl.

He's your bartender. Your really, really gorgeous bartender.

For American Jamie Webb—recently dumped and housesitting for two weeks—Connor Kelleher is like a six-course feast after a 23-year starvation diet. But it's gotta be casual. She's just begun rerouting her life after a three-year man-related detour. Still, a sexy romp (or twenty!) with Sexy McBartender?

But what happens when Jamie's best-laid plans for no future plans with any man begin to change?

I've enjoyed the Cosmo Red Hot Reads that I've gotten my hands on, and Cara McKenna's Her Best Laid Plans was no exception. I really liked how the focus was on our heroine, and how there was just a bit of a twist near the end.

[A twist, huh? Do go on...]

Mon
Mar 24 2014 1:30pm

First Look: L.H. Cosway’s Still Life with Strings (March 24, 2014)

L.H. Cosway
Still Life with Strings
L.H. Cosway / March 24, 2014 / $3.99 digital

My name is Jade Lennon and I stand still for money.

The night I saw Shane Arthur watching me everything changed. A man in a suit always catches my eye, but it was the way he looked at me that was different. Like he knew me or something. He didn’t know me, especially not in my costume. My sobriety rests on staying away from men, but there was something about him that made me throw caution to the wind.

After all, I was never going to see him again, right?

Wrong.

Standing still isn’t the only way I make my money. I also bartend at a concert hall. Never in my wildest dreams did I think Shane was going to show up there. Not only that, but he’s the most recent addition to the orchestra. So now on a daily basis I have to resist one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever met and he plays the violin. For me that’s one hell of a deadly cocktail.

He wants me to teach him how to live. I’m not sure how much a twenty-six year old recovering alcoholic who works in a bar and moonlights as a living statue can teach a world class concert violinist, but I’m sure going to try.

Still Life with Strings is a story of music, art, sex, magical realism, and romance that you will never forget.

L.H. Cosway's Still Life With Strings is a beautifully written love story, with a very fresh and enjoyable voice. It's told in first person, not my favorite way of telling a story, but here it just works so well and there's such warmth in Jade, the heroine.

You're sucked in from the first page, right there with Jade, in her life, but more, feeling, seeing, and experiencing what she does. And the incredible memorable opening to the book. It's hot, and fun, and really works. Ms. Cosway knows how to tempt and tease, both the reader and the characters.

[Don't tease us!...]

Fri
Jan 31 2014 3:00pm

First Look: Savanna Fox’s Bound to Be Dirty (February 4, 2014)

Bound to Be Dirty by Savanna FoxSavanna Fox
Bound to be Dirty
Berkley / February 4, 2014 / $15.00 print, $7.99 digital

Lily Nyland married sexy bad boy Dax Xavier because he made her dreams come true—in bed and out. But after a decade of marriage, her helicopter bush pilot husband spends more time in the remote wilderness than heating things up in her bedroom. The best sex she’s enjoyed recently comes from the Dirty Girls Book Club’s erotic selections.

Still, when the club chooses Bound by Desire, Lily’s skeptical. As a family practice doctor and a fiercely independent woman, the theme doesn’t exactly resonate with her. But then Dax, home for the Christmas holiday, startles her by spicing up their sex life with naughty tricks that make her wonder if he snuck a peek at her book. Even more shocking, Lily finds herself turned on by their erotic experimentation. Kinky sex may be enough to rekindle the passion in their marriage, but can it restore the deeper bonds of love and trust?

Savanna Fox (who also writes as Susan Lyons and Susan Fox) excels at writing thoughtful erotic romance; in fact, her Awesome Foursome quartet is one of my favorite sets of erotic romance.

In this circle of friends, the heroine Lily is “the uptight one” and I liked seeing how she was still willing to change, although she's still set in her ways. The premise of Bound to Be Dirty is noteworthy in several ways.

[Tell me more...]

Wed
Oct 30 2013 9:30am

First Look: Beth Kery’s Because We Belong (November 5, 2013)

Because We Belong by Beth KeryBeth Kery
Because We Belong
Berkeley / November 5, 2013 / $16.00 print, $7.99 digital

In Because We Belong Ian and Francesca return to reignite the exquisite passions that drew them together, and to finally face the intimate secrets that threatened to separate them forever. The secrets of an inescapable past that was one man’s darkest mystery—a darkness that seduced one woman and forever held her spellbound with forbidden desire. For both of them, the next step is total abandon.

This book wrecked me. It was stark, beautiful, and emotionally devastating. I found reading it to be exhausting, in a good way, if that even makes sense. It just makes you feel so much. I think it's important to read the first two installments in the Because You Are Mine series (both were serials, in fact), because it sets up the groundwork for Because We Belong. The book starts out in an unusual way, because for much of it, Ian and Francesca are “broken up.” In fact, the focus is on Francesca for probably the first half, and Beth Kery takes the reader through the emotional wringer, sparing nothing when describing Francesca's emotional state. Ms. Kery pulls no punches, and you can't help but feel how ruined yet determined Francesca is throughout.

[It's always darkest before the dawn...]

Mon
Oct 14 2013 2:00pm

First Look: Jessica Clare’s The Wrong Billionaire’s Bed (October 15, 2013)

The Wrong Billionaire's Bed by Jessica ClareJessica Clare
The Wrong Billionaire's Bed
InterMix / October 15, 2013 / $2.99 digital

Audrey Petty's always been the responsible one. The good twin.  Successful, dependable, and trustworthy—that's Audrey. She'd be the perfect girlfriend for her childhood crush, billionaire Cade Archer...except that she's pretty sure she's not even on his radar. But when fate (and her chaotic twin) come together, Audrey finds out that she'll be spending the next month with Cade at his remote cabin retreat. It's a dream come true...

Until she meets her worst nightmare.

Billionaire playboy Reese Durham is used to seducing women to get what he wants. But when stiff, too-proper Audrey bursts into the private mountain lodge and scares his companion out the door, it's time for a little revenge. It's clear that Audrey's in love with his buddy, Cade...and it's clear to Reese that blackmailing Audrey with this information can get her to agree to just about anything. Like furtive kisses in the dark, or a secret rendezvous in the woods. Audrey may think she knows what she wants, but Reese is determined to show her what she needs.

And as Reese discovers the volatile minx behind the buttoned-up exterior, he starts to think maybe she's just what he needs, too.

I really liked Jessica Clare's The Wrong Billionaire's Bed, but I had some issues with it, mostly because of how much I like Audrey, this book, and this series in general. The first three books of the Billionaire Boy's Club are Audrey-centric: she's Logan's assistant, and she provides a place for Bronwyn to stay (with her sister Gretchen), then Gretchen hooks up with Logan's best friend, Hunter...and now the third book is Audrey plus not-Cade, and Reese. (And then Audrey's sister Daphne is there...)

[Lots of romance novel potential here...]

Tue
Oct 8 2013 2:00pm

First Look: HelenKay Dimon’s Everything You Need to Know (October 15, 2013)

Everything You Need to Know by HelenKay DimonHelenKay Dimon
Everything You Need to Know
Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin / October 15, 2013 / $3.99 digital

Dating in D.C. is like navigating an apocalyptic wasteland populated by men in expensive suits with zero mating potential. Need to Know provides all the information a savvy single woman like you needs to avoid dating disasters.

By night, Jordan McAdam is the proprietor of a popular website that rates D.C.'s hottest bachelors—everything from how quick they are to email you back, to their skills in the sack. She's been burned once too often to accept any man at face value. By day, her job as an office temp puts her in the perfect position to do a little fact-checking on her rich and powerful subjects. When her latest assignment brings her face-to-face with the sexy but mysterious Forest Redder, Jordan decides to do a little “hands-on” research of her own. To Jordan, he seems like the perfect man—but she knows there is no such thing. Moreover, there's a big problem: Forest knows Jordan's the woman behind the scandalous site—and Jordan knows he knows. Will he expose her secret—or find his own posted on Need to Know?

HelenKay Dimon is a fabulous writer, and my high expectations are met in her latest, Everything You Need to Know. It's set in Washington, D.C., a city that HelenKay knows well, which shows. She doesn't bog down the story with setting, but it's the little details that really give it life.

[Meanwhile, in a non-furloughed D.C....]

Wed
Sep 11 2013 9:30am

First Look: Lauren Dane’s Cake (September 17, 2013)

Lauren Dane
Cake
Harlequin / September 17, 2013 / $3.99 digital

Art student-slash-bike messenger Wren Davis pursues what she wants. And what she wants now is Gregori Ivanov, rock star of the Seattle art scene. With his tattoos, piercings and sensual sneer, Gregori is the ultimate bad boy. Wren's gotten to know the man beneath the body art, too—and it only makes her crave him more.
 
But Gregori loves women like he loves cake and champagne—intensely, but only for the moment. And after Wren experiences just how scorching sex with Gregori is, she's determined to show him that just one taste won't be enough...

I really enjoy Lauren Dane's writing, and especially love her characterization. Cake is a great example why; for all the edgy content and sexy scenes, it has a lot of warmth. I also liked that there wasn't irrelevant or excess drama. Everything was so natural and realistic. Of course, it's not “real world” for us normal people to be artists, much less insanely successful ones. But then, the glamour and glitz is a big part of the draw in romance. And Cake definitely has that—art shows, after parties, and dirty getting down time with the bad-boy artist.

[Escapism at its finest...]

Tue
Jul 16 2013 2:30pm

First Look: Jessica Clare’s Beauty and the Billionaire (July 16, 2013)

Beauty and the Billionaire by Jessica ClareJessica Clare
Beauty and the Billionaire
Intermix / July 16, 2013 / $2.99 digital

Real-estate tycoon Hunter Buchanan has a dark past that’s left him scarred and living as a recluse on his family’s palatial estate. Hunter is ready to give up on love—until he spots an enigmatic red-haired beauty and comes up with an elaborate scheme to meet her.
 
Gretchen Petty is in need of a paycheck—and a change. So when a job opportunity in an upstate New York mansion pops up she accepts. And while she can overlook the oddities of her new job, she can’t ignore her new boss’s delectable body—or his barely leashed temper.
 
Hunter’s afraid his plan might be unraveling before it’s truly begun, but Gretchen is about to show him that life can be full of surprises…

I loved this book. I've been saying I'm over billionaires, so it says something about how good this book is that I loved it so much. The first in this series, Stranded with a Billionaire, was like a Harlequin Presents perfected. But Beauty and the Billionaire is even more perfect.

The story is based on Beauty and the Beast, but isn't a direct copy. The setting is a c̶a̶s̶t̶l̶e̶  an estate in America. At the estate, the scarred and reclusive billionaire engineers a situation where the heroine has to stay with him. The heroine, Gretchen, is a writer. The hero Hunter Buchanan is a property mogul, and Gretchen is a ghost writer.

[Even a tale as old as time needs updating from time to time...]

Sat
Apr 27 2013 3:30pm

Back to Basics: What is Erotic Romance?

Sleepy Sundays image by seanmcgrath via FlickrWhat is an erotic romance?

Every time I think we've got this topic covered, I find out I'm wrong. People don't know. And I mean even people who are putting themselves out as personal assistants and public relations “experts” in the romance community.

What do I mean? I'll mention liking erotic romance, but not erotica. Someone who has been reading romances for twenty years and is well established in the romance community might say “Oh, I love erotica!” To which I respond, “Not for me, thanks. I need the HEA.” Almost always, the immediate following is “Oh. Me too.”

Excuse me?

Erotica doesn't require a happily ever after. It just doesn't. (And I'm not even going to try to discuss between erotica and porn…) But erotica is all about sex between characters. Emotions do not necessarily equal a relationship. Romance, on the other hand, is about the relational journey to a happily ever after love between the characters. (Notice at this point I'm not even saying “between the hero and heroine”?)

[There is a difference...]

Tue
Apr 23 2013 5:00pm

First Look: Beth Kery’s When I’m With You, Parts I-VIII (April 23, 2013)

Beth Kery
When I'm With You, Parts I-VIII
Intermix / April 23, 2013 / $1.99

Beth Kery's When I'm With You comes to its startling climax as Elise and Lucien, and Francesca and Ian, discover the truths that compel them, reveal the secrets that haunt them, and the uncontrollable desire that could destroy or heal them...

In the luxury of Ian's penthouse, he, Francesca, Lucien and Elise gather for an evening that begins in pleasure and ends in a shattering confrontation—one that finally reveals the secrets of Lucien's past. And, at Elise's impulsive urging, the bitter truth that Lucien has hidden for so long is finally exposed. But the reality is more soul tearing than Elise imagined—leaving her with the guilt that she pushed the man she loves too far.

When both Lucien and Ian go to London, Elise is left in self-doubt. Surely Lucien is furious at her for tipping his hand so impetuously—it has been his greatest fear since he met her. With a heavy heart, Elise makes a heartrending decision for both of them. But Lucien has one more reveal for Elise, one that could make or break a relationship that has consumed the both of them. One that could change their futures forever.

When I'm with You is the sequel to Beth Kery's Because You are Mine serial. We first met Lucien in Because You are Mine, where he was introduced as Ian Noble's good friend. Lucien definitely holds up on his own, and his story in When I'm with You is more romantic, and feels more complete.

[Bring on the romance!...]