<i>Force of Attraction</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Force of Attraction: Exclusive Excerpt D.D. Ayres "Her pulse ticked up with equal amounts of excitement and anxiety." H&H Quickies #8: Lavinia Kent Presents... H&H Quickies #8: Lavinia Kent Presents... Lavinia Kent "And then the woman was naked, the robe falling in a puddle of silk behind her..." <i>Under the Lights</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Under the Lights: Exclusive Excerpt Shannon Stacey "That fruity scent of hers was the smell of forbidden fruit." <i>Instinct</i>: Excerpt Instinct: Excerpt Sherrilyn Kenyon "Nick has just embraced the one person he should never have trusted."
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Showing posts by: Miss_D click to see Miss_D's profile
Jan 12 2015 2:00pm

Serious Fun: Tracy Wolff’s Play Me Series

Play Me by Tracy Wolff

This five part series is a little different from my usual romance fare. Not to say I’ve not indulged in my fair share of BDSM novels, as I have, but that subgenre is not one I actively read often. After reading this series, I think that is something that I will have to change going forward. I very much enjoyed the Play Me series. This is my first time having read a Tracy Wolff book and it certainly will not be the last time I read anything by her. 

The heroine has moxie! Aria Winston is a Vassar graduate in a thankless cocktail waitressing job in a Las Vegas casino that includes many leches and more than a little bit of sexual harassment. She is tough and the reader sees early on that she’s is the type of woman who will step-in to defend someone weaker. I loved the introduction to her character as the author puts the reader right in Aria’s head and plays out a situation that makes it easy to appreciate her.  

When we first meet him, Sebastian Caine is harried and slightly resentful. He's back in the city he grew up in, but not because he really wants to be there—he's returned to run the family casino because his father’s health problems make it impossible for him to manage the business anymore. It’s not something Sebastian's happy about but regardless of his feelings, he is dedicated to making sure the casino runs smoothly and with some class.

[But smoothly and with class is never fun...]

Oct 7 2014 9:30am

First Look: Maya Banks’s Keep Me Safe (October 7, 2014)

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks

Maya Banks
Keep Me Safe (Slow Burn)
Avon / October 7, 2014 / $14.99 print / $7.99 digital

When Caleb Devereaux's younger sister is kidnapped, the scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot. While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.

Deeply remorseful for the pain he's caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie's vanished forever, she reappears. She's in trouble and she needs his help. Now Caleb will risk everything to protect her—including his heart. . . .

Maya Banks's Keep Me Safe, the first book in Banks's romantic suspense Slow Burn series, is a captivating story of a woman discovering not just the love of a good man but finding the love within herself. It’s a novel of almost two love stories; not just the one between romantic partners, but also loving one’s self.

[Putting yourself into safe keeping?]

Aug 25 2014 3:00pm

First Look: Lora Leigh’s Ultimate Sins (August 26, 2014)

Ultimate Sins by Lora LeighLora Leigh
Ultimate Sins (Callahans)
St. Martin's Press / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital

Three men, bound by blood, will stop at nothing to protect the women who have stolen their hearts and who they have claimed as their own—no matter what the price.

Ex-Marine Crowe Callahan has only had one obsession in life: Amelia Sorenson. She is the only one who has ever gotten under his skin. However, she is also the daughter of his family’s sworn enemy: a man who has sought to destroy the Callahans for generations in order to further his own nefarious agenda.
When Amelia put herself on Crowe’s side and in Crowe’s bed, she became her father’s enemy as well. When Wayne Sorenson escapes capture, both Amelia and Crowe know it is only a matter of time before he resurfaces to exact his revenge. Now Crowe will claim Amelia in order to bait a killer and end things once and for all. But can he protect the woman he can’t seem to live without from one of the deadliest enemies he has ever known? And will he survive if he can’t?

Crowe Callahan's story is finally told in Ultimate Sins, the fourth book of Lora Leigh’s Callahan series. Readers of this series have seen glimpses of Crowe in prior novels, and so we already knew his heart belonged to Amelia Sorenson. Theirs is a sad story of love discovered early, only for them to be torn apart due to horrific external circumstances.

[That's Sinful!]

Jul 10 2014 9:30am

Women Love Bad Boys in the Scandalous Heroes Anthology

Scandalous Heroes Anthology

Scandalous Heroes is an anthology of 9 stories by authors well known by readers of multicultural romance novels. This collaboration highlights the respective strengths of the authors that their fervent followers are well familiar with when it comes to their books.

First in the anthology is Sienna Mynx’s contribution, Rallenti.  Those of who are fans of her Battaglia Series, and I am definitely one, are in for a real treat with the passionate love story of Renaldo Cracchiolo and Kyra Okeeno. They’re smitten from the very beginning but the language barrier is an initial obstacle, but soon, they don’t need words to express their growing attraction. They both are characters not looking to be tied down, Renaldo due to his job as an enforcer/ bodyguard and Kyra due to youthful ambition. Yet both find themselves craving the other more than they thought they would. Renaldo and Kyra find themselves fighting feelings, as well as an ex that just won’t accept the conclusion of the relationships plus the divergent paths carved out by their respective lives. The risks they take for they love as well as the overall banter make this one very enjoyable love story.

Aliyah Burke’s story is connected to her Megalodon series, titled Raw Exposure. Reeve Leighton and Affrica O’Shea definitely don’t meet cute. In fact, she can’t stand him upon their initial meeting, in which he pretty much insults her character. It takes Reeve, who is taken with Affrica from the beginning, some time to show her that he’s not the pompous jerk she believes him to be despite the mutual attraction. And even then, Reeve has a lot to learn as he’s spent most of his life being a thoughtless playboy. Affrica is an entertaining, independent female protagonist who tough and stubborn yet optimistic. The dance between Affrica and Reeve as they fall in love, as well as the growth of Reeve as a character, is absorbing.

[Growing boys...]

Jun 3 2014 2:30pm

First Look: Lora Leigh’s Nauti Enchantress (June 3, 2014)

Nauti Enchantress by Lora LeighLora Leigh
Nauti Enchantress
Berkley Trade / June 3, 2014 / $16.00 print, $9.99 digital

When Dawg Mackay made his four half-sisters part of his family, he vowed that he would care for and protect them with everything he had. But what happens now that the girls are all grown up? The Mackay girls are on the loose, and Somerset County will never be the same…

Lyrica Mackay has wanted tall, handsome Marine Graham Brock for as long as she can remember. Unfortunately, Graham only sees her as his friend Dawg Mackay’s “baby sister.” Or so she believes. The truth is, the fiery party girl stirs something in Graham no female ever has. But Graham, like everyone in Somerset County, knows that trouble stalks the Mackays like bears track honey, and when a Mackay runs as hot as Lyrica does, someone’s bound to get burned.

Then Graham discovers that Lyrica’s wild side is just a cover for a frightened and vulnerable woman who needs something true and genuine, something only Graham can offer. But surrendering his heart to Lyrica exposes them both to her shocking past—and a sinister secret that, once exposed, could destroy their only chance at happiness and shake the Mackay family to its core.

Continuing her Nauti Boys series world with Nauti Girls, Lora Leigh has created new protagonists to lead stories that build on characters and past romances her fans hold dear. With Nauti Enchantress, the audience is introduced to Lyrica Mackay, one of the younger half-sisters of James “Dawg” Mackay of Nauti Nights. She is a feisty and no-nonsense woman with a sharp tongue, and I was an immediate fan because of those facets of her personality. No doormat women for me, thank you, as I like a heroine who can hold her own in any situation, especially verbally. Lyrica has that in spades plus she’s quick to figure out when she’s being treated like a fragile flower and to counteract that treatment. I really enjoyed reading a female protagonist who knew her own worth and wouldn’t be coddled or over-protected by those around her.

[Sisters are doing it for themselves!...]

Feb 3 2014 3:00pm

First Look: Lora Leigh’s Rule Breaker (February 4, 2014)

Rule Breaker by Lora LeighLora Leigh
Rule Breaker (Breeds #29)
Berkley / February 4, 2014/ $25.95 print, $12.99 digital

Lion Breed and enforcer Rule Breaker has just a few rules he doesn’t break. Not for anything. Not for anyone—like never have sex with a woman outside his own breed, especially a human woman. Especially someone too helpless, too fun loving and too full of life to ever be able to protect herself, let alone help him to protect her.

If the damned animal inside him insists on a mate, then why pick her? A woman who is an easy target and who can be used as a weapon against him at any time.

But what he suspects is mating heat may not be that at all. Just his animal instincts rioting, pacing, irritated whenever he's away from her.

Okay, he can handle that.

What ensues is a fiery affair that breaks all the rules of mating heat and will eventually endanger his mate with the very rules designed to protect the Breeds—for she’s possibly been working against them…

As a fan of Lora Leigh’s Breed series, I was very excited to get my hands on a copy of her latest entry in the series, Rule Breaker. The title of the book is also the name of the male protagonist in the novel. Rule is a Lion breed enforcer who is deeply traumatized by events in his youth and his devil-may-care attitude hides an emotional wound that he’s been unable to come to peace with even many years later. Gypsy McQuade enters Rule’s life when she’s a young woman, but tragic events one night force her to grow up quickly. She’s emotionally battered and bruised, relying on a façade of rebellion to deal with a hurt that cripples her emotionally for years to come.

[Let's dive in...]

Dec 2 2013 5:30pm

Finding Love in Action-Adventure: Strike Back’s Michael Stonebridge and Kim Martinez

Michael and Kim in Strike BackStrike Back is an action-adventure show on Cinemax, and the show upped the romantic stakes in the most recent season when it introduced a new female soldier to the team. Instant sparks flew between her and another team member.

Michael Stonebridge, a soldier in a black operations team called Section 20, has been in emotional conflict for a long time. The former Special Boat Service (SBS) sergeant is a loner by nature and took some hard knocks in the show’s last season. Aside from the everyday battles that have him put his own life on the line, both his wife and his ex-mistress were killed in front of him in a short amount of time in separate events. The effect of these devastating deaths on the psyche of this already reserved man caused him to become emotionally remote aside from his interactions with his partner in the field. This was especially true regarding women. The most recent season, subtitled “Shadow Warfare,” introduced a new character to the show, Kim Martinez, a DEA special agent working covertly in the jungles of Colombia.

[Love in a time of combat...]

Aug 22 2013 2:00pm

First Look: Sugar Jamison’s Dangerous Curves Ahead (August 27, 2013)

Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar JamisonSugar Jamison
Dangerous Curves Ahead
St. Martin's Press / August 27, 2013 / $7.99 print, $7.59 digital

Ellis Garrett is dumping her critical boyfriend, opening a plus-size clothing store, and starting a blog—all to spread the word that fashion shouldn’t require a size-two body, and happiness should allow for the occasional cupcake. Or two. But is indulging fantasies about her sister’s long-ago ex, the still-hunky Michael Edwards, biting off more than she can chew?

Mike must be losing his detective’s touch. He doesn’t recognize Ellis when he bumps into her at Size Me Up, and he certainly doesn’t remember his ex-girlfriend’s outspoken sister being so irresistible. Her curves are indeed dangerous—and so is her wit. Could it be that Ellis is his Perfect Fit? One thing’s for sure: Mike will make it his sworn duty to find out…

Ellis Garrett, an intelligent woman who speaks her mind, is searching for the road to fulfillment. She's also a curvy woman who owns the shape of her body with aplomb. Mike Edwards is a handsome cop recently back from the mean streets of New York City, now policing the small town of Durant. Mike and Ellis have an incredibly entertaining meet-cute to start off the book. Despite a mutual attraction, Ellis considers Mike off limits and not good for her. Years ago, Mike dated her older sister Dina. Thing is, Mike doesn't remember Ellis's connection to Dina and can't quite place her in his past, but he does know he's interested in learning more about Ellis. When he finally has all the puzzle pieces of their past, it's a lovely moment that opens the door to their bumpy trip to love. I found the author's reveal and the manner in which the characters, especially Mike, handled the revelation pleasantly sweet in a way that felt authentic.

[Good surprises are always welcome...]

Apr 25 2013 9:45am

What Will be Bred Next?: Lora Leigh’s Breeds Series

Fans of Lora Leigh's The Breeds series (like me) are often reading one book's main love story, but seeing clues about a possible future mating love story. Having read all but the most recent Breed stories, I am eagerly awaiting getting to read about certain characters who have captured my interest, but haven't gotten their own books yet. Of special note are the stories of two doctors who have been in a majority of the books, Dr. Nikki Armani and Dr. Ely Morrey.

Nikki is human, a no-nonsense African-American doctor who is featured predominantly in the Wolf and Coyote breed books. There are a few scenes in a couple of series books that makes me suspect she may get her own love story with Brimstone, a Coyote Breed and younger brother to Coyote Alpha, Del-Ray Delgado. The latter's own love story is told in Coyote's Mate, one of my favorite books in the series. I'm especially hopeful in seeing a full-length novel for Nikki, not a novella in an anthology, because it will be the first time Lora Leigh has featured a African-American female lead. She's featured women of color as lead heroines before, but never an African-American woman as a mate for one of her Breed males. As a woman of color, I always appreciate seeing diversity in romance books. Plus, Brim is one of my favorite secondary male characters in this series, thanks to his memorable supporting turn in Coyote's Mate and I'm anticipating him finding his mate as much as I am in reading Nikki's story. It's a double-jackpot for me should two of my favorite secondary characters find love with one another.

[Could it happen?...]

Mar 12 2013 2:15pm

Ruh-roh, Did I Just Read That?: Grammatical Errors in Books

Red pen image by mac.rj via FlickrAs a reader of more than my fair share of self-published novels, I have come across a common trend that for the most part I can let pass: grammatical errors. That's not to say I'm okay if a book is riddled with issues, but the occasional hiccup doesn't faze me. Mistakes happen. And that is also not to say that it's only self-published novels that are full of errors. I've read more than a few from publishing houses that have goofs that range from small to glaring oversights.

I have a very good friend who is a romance junkie like me, but she is also a copyeditor.  We've had many discussions on this issue. How does one go about reacting to the big goofs, though? And what do you consider a small transgression, as opposed to outwardly flinching—or just putting the book down?

Everyone's tolerance level is different. My encounters with various errors cause different reactions, depending on the book. When it comes to glaring errors, I do find myself more forgiving of a new or relatively unknown author who has self-published a novel over an established author with a publisher and a copyeditor. Small mistakes, like an extra “s” in a word, just make me shrug. The random apostrophe is a hiccup found frequently too. I blink and move on.

[What mistakes drive you bananas?...]

Jan 25 2013 3:30pm

First Look: Beverly Jenkins’s Destiny’s Embrace (January 29, 2013)

Destiny's Embrace by Beverly JenkinsBeverly Jenkins
Destiny's Embrace
Avon / January 29, 2013 / $7.99 print & digital

Gentleman Seeks Housekeeper. Must be willing to travel.

Desperate for another life away from Philadelphia, headstrong and beautiful Mariah Cooper answers an advertisement for a housekeeper at the other end of the continent. Waiting in California is the most breathtaking—and arrogant—man she has ever met . . . and he'd like nothing better than for Mariah to go back home!

Logan Yates has run Destiny, the family ranch, since he was a boy. He doesn't need this Eastern miss his stepmother hired, though his home's chaotic state suggests otherwise. Still, he's secretly pleased that Mariah gives as good as she gets—and he must fight the urge to take her in his arms and kiss her whenever she proudly stands her ground. But when he's in danger of losing her, Logan will have to choose between pride . . . and his heart's true desire.

Mariah Cooper, the heroine of Beverly Jenkins latest historical romance, Destiny's Embrace, is a woman who has yet to truly live. She's 30 and chained to her mother's dress shop in Philadelphia. Life hasn't been easy for her; her father passed when she was a toddler, leaving her to grow up under her strict and unloving mother's thumb. Teased as a child by most of the neighborhood children for her unusual eye color and without a healthy support system at home, Mariah's optimistic approach that things will get better has served her well. That outlook on life allowed her to survive her circumstances without being browbeaten into cynicism and despair. 

[Don't worry—things are about to change...]

Dec 18 2012 10:30am

First Look: Jill Sorenson’s Aftershock (December 18, 2012)

Aftershock by Jill SorensonJill Sorenson
HQN / $7.99 print, $6.79 digital / December 18, 2012

As an emergency paramedic, Lauren Boyer is dedicated and highly capable. Until an earthquake strikes, trapping her beneath the freeway with a group of strangers—including Iraq war veteran Garrett Wright…

Handsome and take-charge Garrett aids Lauren in her rescue efforts, even as the steely look in his eyes seems to hide dark secrets. When a gang of escaped convicts goes on the attack, Garrett's bravery makes him more than a courageous bystander to Lauren. If they can save the others before time runs out, maybe, just maybe, they can explore the fire igniting between them—if the truth about who he really is doesn't pull them apart forever….

In Jill Sorenson's Aftershock, after a large earthquake strikes San Diego, California, an EMT finds herself alone when her partner is killed and chaos surrounds her. While looking for other survivors, she meets a handsome man who helps her rescue others that they come across. Together they form an alliance that soon turns into something more.

[I like the sound of that...]

Nov 20 2012 11:11am

First Look: Lora Leigh’s Secret Sins (November 27, 2012)

Secret Sins by Lora LeighLora Leigh
Secret Sins
St. Martin's Press / November 27, 2012 / $7.99 print & digital

Sheriff Archer Tobias has watched the Callahan family struggle to find peace and acceptance in the community—despite the murders that continue to haunt them. But his darkest suspicions grow worse when Anna Corbin, a member of one of the country's most influential families, becomes the next target…

Anna knows she’s in danger. She knows she’s on a trail of secrets and lies that could lead to a dead end. But no matter what, she’s determined to learn the identity of the killer—even if it’s someone she loves…

Torn between duty and desire, Sheriff Tobias cannot allow Anna to put herself in the path of a deranged murderer. But as the investigation pulls them closer together—and deeper into the nightmare—he realizes that he cannot save her from this legacy of blood and vengeance…without putting his own life on the line.

Secret Sins is the third book in Lora Leigh's Callahans series and features the erotic love story of Anna Corbin and Archer Tobias. Anna feels adrift and unwanted after a history of odd, rejecting behavior from her family for the past 15 years. She has also been in love with Archer since she was a teenager.

[And now that she's all grown up?...]

Oct 5 2012 1:00pm

Removing the Shade: Barriers of Multicultural Romances

The Golden Chalice by Sienne MynxWhen I first started writing for this site, my initial posts shone a spotlight on multicultural romances, as I feel they’re underappreciated and overlooked in the romance genre. Even I didn’t seriously invest in reading them until a little over a year ago.  I don’t regret the tangent; if I hadn’t taken it, I would have missed some wonderful stories I now cherish written by authors not well known in the romance genre mainstream. Granted, I still read traditional historical, paranormal, contemporary, and romantic suspense books, but I’ve added variety to my heroines and heroes. Now I read novels with women of color as heroines, women who look more like me. As my excitement increased, I noticed that it wasn’t resonating with some others I know and that leads me this column.

I have several friends who are avid romance readers like I am. Through our discussions, I realized several of my friends would not read multicultural romances because, in their paraphrased words, they couldn’t identify with the lead characters, specifically the heroine. They read ménages and male/male romances, yet were uninterested or hesitant to read a book if the lead wasn’t Caucasian. I was surprised, disappointed and in some ways, a little insulted. Is it really easier to identify with a lead who shapeshifts into an animal or a being that sucks blood from other living beings or a man as long as that character is Caucasian?

[Open your mind...]

Jul 30 2012 5:30pm

Feel the Burn: Top 5 Sizzling Scenes from Leigh, Mynx, Dane, and More!

Mercury’s War by Lora Leigh When you read a steamy romance, sometimes you come across a scene that just hits all the marks. It’s got the perfect meeting of romance, desire, and pure emotion. It’s that scene that encompasses the core of the love story in showing the physical and emotional passion of the characters toward each other. A challenge was recently issued to list my top 5 sizzling scenes. Below are my top 5, along with an honorable mention.

Feel the burn…

5. Mercury’s War by Lora Leigh (M/F): A breed with a troubled past, who has lost much of his animal instinct in order to survive, Mercury came alive when Ria hit town. When the two finally sated their mutual lust after much verbal foreplay and heavy petting, there is enough randy and rough play to almost break the bed. Their love story isn’t without bumps and it’s the twist toward the end that leads to what I see as their hottest encounter. Not necessarily because of Mercury’s primal nature showing his dominance, but the heavy emotional dialogue from both characters than lends the scene more significance in its sexiness. There are times when an author mixes raw sex and abiding love just right, and that scene between Mercury and Ria is a good example.

“She had read the reports on mating heat—the list of sensations felt, the intensity of it—and it hadn’t prepared her for this. Not this. The wildness rising inside her, crashing over her and obliterating any control she could have thought to possess. All she could do was feel.”

[Turn up the heat...]

May 29 2012 10:30am

Zena Wynn: Love and Diversity in the Paranormal

Tameka’s Smile by Zena Wynn I discovered Zena Wynn when I picked up her novel Tameka’s Smile while searching for multiracial romance books. Later, I realized it’s the fourth novel in her True Mates series, featuring shapeshifters, so I decided to read the other books in the series.

The first book, True Mates, is about Alpha shifter Alex, who has waited most of his adult life for his one true mate to appear, refusing to settle on just mating any female in the pack.He meets his true mate Kiesha in an “meet odd” way (at least for her), but that first night blossoms  into love, acceptance and understanding.

[He may shift into an animal, but he’s all man...]

May 11 2012 2:00pm

No, Really...I’m Supposed to Root for That Character?!?: Unsympathetic Protagonists from Brenda Joyce

The Darkest Heart by Brenda JoyceAs an avid romance reader, there are times when I come across a hero or heroine that I wish would be run over by a car or horse carriage (depending on the time period). I normally like this author, but in reading her books, I recently came across two  of the most unsympathetic and insufferable characters I’ve had the displeasure to read about recently.

The Darkest Heart is an older novel by Brenda Joyce. I was mostly excited to read this book because it is the story of how the parents of a hero in one of my favorite historical romances, Shozkay Savage of The Fires of Paradise, fell in love. I recommend that book wholeheartedly, but The Darkest Heart is an altogether different case.

The Darkest Heart tells the story of Jack Savage and Candice Carter set to the backdrop of the western frontier. He’s a half Native-American, wandering loner, and she’s the blonde, blue-eyed spoiled beauty of her family. I’m going to put it out there now: I hated hated HATED Candice. She wasn’t much of a heroine, making so many too-stupid-to-live decisions on top of being selfish and immature in general. She was constantly lying to cover up her stupidity, while continuing to do ridiculous and impulsive things. The hero states at the end of the book that she had grown from being selfish and impulsive, but it wasn’t in any way that I saw. I kept reading this book thinking Jack deserved better than Candice. My palm itched to reach through my Kindle to smack her. That’s not a good sign for a romance book.

[Don’t mistreat your Kindle just because you don’t like a heroine!...]

Apr 27 2012 1:30pm

Finding Your “Try” Book: Satisfying a Craving for Something New

Illegal Affairs by Sienna MynxAbout a year ago I was chatting with a fellow romance fan. She’s new to the genre and has a more focused interest on paranormal romances, especially vampire stories. I’m more old school, in that I’ve been reading romance books for almost 30 years, starting with Rosemary Rogers’s historical novels (and other authors writing at the time) and branching out from there.

Both of us found ourselves wishing that there were more romance books out there with women who not only look like us but also date like us. See, we’re both Black women who grew up in diversity rich areas, and while we both like the mainstream romances you find in bookstores, there is something to be said for reading a story with a heroine we can identify with both physically and culturally.

[You seem familiar...]