<i>Infamous</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Infamous: Exclusive Excerpt Jenny Holiday "Hunter is all Jesse can think about..." <i>Courtly Pleasures</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Courtly Pleasures: Exclusive Excerpt Erin Kane Spock "Can they create a second chance at love before it’s too late?" <i>Roomies</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Roomies: Exclusive Excerpt Christina Lauren "Will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?" <i>A Duke in Shining Armor</i>: Exclusive Excerpt A Duke in Shining Armor: Exclusive Excerpt Loretta Chase "So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him...?"
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Oct 23 2016 10:00am

First Look: Christi Caldwell’s The Rogue’s Wager (October 25, 2016)

The Rogue's Wager by Christi Caldwell

Christi Caldwell
The Rogue's Wager (Sinful Brides #1)
Montlake / October 25, 2016 / $12.95 print, $4.99 digital

I love female characters that are not the typical perfect-looking ingenues with demons in their pasts.  In Christi Caldwell’s latest novel, The Rogue’s Wager, she does this artfully and effectively with Helena Banbury, an illegitimate daughter of a duke.

Helena is a numbers-minded bluestocking with a dark, painful past who is living a safe life in her brother’s club. She was maimed and found illiterate on the streets, yet has become a strong character who wants something different than what she’s been living. Helena won’t settle for a typical lady’s life—she wants to be involved in something significant to fulfill her—preferably with numbers. I loved this twist!  

[Read more...]

Oct 13 2016 2:00pm

Spend Your Season with Christi Caldwell

More Than a Duke by Christi Caldwell

As fall begins, I start to go back to reading about the Season, tea, waltzing, and gowns of the ton.  I long to escape to the mannerly world of the “ton” found in many historical romance novels. One such world I visit repeatedly is Christi Caldwell’s various series. There are many historicals out there, but some are definitely better than the rest. My criteria centers on characterization, passion factor, & storylines. If these three things are done well, I love it! Caldwell is one that never disappoints.

Characters have to have something with which to connect. I need to like the heroine without finding her flighty or wimpy. Caldwell’s characters are searching to find their own way and somehow bump into or get involved with the hero.  For example in More Than a Duke, Lady Anne asks Henry, the Earl of Stanhope, to teach her how to seduce a man.  From their first simmering kiss (done to keep her quiet in a garden) until a steamy consumation, they parry with each other brilliantly all the while fighting their attraction.  Her male characters are everything from rogues to damaged veterans from the Napoleonic wars.  They are always passionate and definitively sexy.  

[Read more...]

Oct 3 2015 1:00pm

First Look: Madeline Hunter’s Tall, Dark, and Wicked (October 6, 2015)

Tall, Dark, and Wicked by Madeline Hunter

Madeline Hunter
Tall, Dark, and Wicked (Wicked #2)
Jove / October 6, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

A wickedly wonderful new romance from the New York Times bestselling author of His Wicked Reputation  

Most women will give him anything he wants. She is not most women… 

As a well-known barrister and the son of a duke, Ives confines his passionate impulses to discreet affairs with worldly mistresses. A twist of fate, however, has him looking for a new lover right when a fascinating woman shows up in his chambers, asking him to help save her father from the gallows. Unfortunately, he has already been asked to serve as the prosecutor in the case, but that only ensures close encounters with the rarity named Padua Belvoir. And every encounter increases his desire to tutor her in pleasure’s wicked ways...

Having always been too tall, too willful, and too smart to appeal to men, Padua Belvoir is shocked when Ives shows interest in her. Knowing his penchant for helping the wrongly accused, she had initially thought he might be her father’s best hope for salvation. Instead, he is her worst adversary—not least because every time he looks at her, she is tempted to give him anything he wants…

This is the second of the Wicked Trilogy, the first being His Wicked Reputation. As a long-time fan of Madeline Hunter, it was easy to get into Uwain (Nobody knows how to pronounce it anyway, so just call him Ives.) and Padua’s story. Having read like a zillion historical romances in my life, this one starts the way many of them do. A prim, unwittingly hot single woman shows up at a *gasp* bachelor’s home at a most improper time.  In this case, he’s even half undressed and doesn’t have the decency to put his coat back on!  He greets her in a robe for crying out loud!  He should know better, as a lawyer….well a barrister but same difference. 

[Ives to the rescue ...]

Aug 27 2015 3:30pm

Brains Aren’t the Only Food Group: August Kert’s Bring Me to Life

Bring Me to Life by August Kert

A few months ago, I wrote about my burgeoning love for paranormal romance.  I’ve really embraced love stories with “others.”  I am a sucker for werewolves, but I had never read much that went into the zombie vein. Bring Me to Life is a post-apocalyptic zombie romance that was not too far-fetched or out there.  I mean, I tried and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to see what all the hype was about.  But I never found the need to throw myself back into the proverbial zombie pool.  Then, I got the opportunity to do this first look.  I had so many questions- could zombies do anything BUT eat human brains?  Did they have bodily functions that included…the need for sex? *whispers* (Yes, they do!)

As far as the plot goes, it moved at a steady pace from zombie farm to…other places ( no spoilers, remember?).  Lyric meets Anson while being held, and her only motivation is to NOT get eaten alive by the zombies. There are definitely some erotic scenes that work.  I always thought I’d be like gross, zombie sex…but he has a quality that is just as hot as other creatures in this genre.  The zombies in this book can be at several stages, so Anson is not a mindless “must eat brains” kinda guy. He can’t speak much, but we do find out that being a zombie isn’t quite what we may have expected. 

[Zombie sex and figthing for your life...]

Jun 25 2015 8:30am

First Look: Alexandra Hawkins’s A Duke But No Gentleman (June 30, 2015)

Alexandra Hawkins
A Duke But No Gentleman (Masters of Seduction #1)
St. Martin's Press / June 30, 2015 / $7.99 print, digital

In the last opulent days of the eighteenth century, a friendly wager turns into a heated feud that spans decades…and a love affair like none other.

What does it take to tempt a lady…
London, 1792. The Duke of Blackbern and the Marquess of Norgrave are boyhood friends who will still compete at anything. Racing, drinking, gambling, even seduction—until Lady Imogene Sunter crosses their path. Achingly beautiful, and innocent, she has no understanding of the jaded gentlemen who are courting her for favors—of how far they are willing to go to get what they want…

In this game of seduce and destroy?
Fighting for Imogene's affection should have been no more than their usual spirited rivalry. But when Blackbern discovers his feelings for Imogene have deepened, all bets are off. Norgrave, driven by his own demons, won't forsake his pride—and with one shocking act of betrayal that threatens Imogene and Blackbern's newfound desire, Norgrave will set the course for a generation of Regency bad boys who will go down in history as the Masters of Seduction...in A Duke But No Gentleman by Alexandra Hawkins.

As an avid reader of everything Alexandra Hawkins has written, I was genuinely pleased with her new release, A Duke But No Gentleman.  I know it can be a challenge for authors of romance to find a new twist in their genre.  Ingénues can only be attracted so many times to the hero, right? Well, I can totally assure you that Hawkins does not suffer from lack of imagination- or hot sex scenes. 

[Here's a new series and a bad boy Duke...]

Jun 10 2015 1:30pm

Putting the “Adult” in Young Adult: Sex in YA

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

One of the reasons I read romance is the throbbing , bodice ripping, hot, steam factor—um, better known as the sex scenes. YA literature is marketed to teens, but many adults (yours truly) also read them. With older teens in mind, the sex scenes (if there are any) are usually pretty tame. There is something refreshing about a love story that may be simpler and less um...turgid. 

In fact, the protagonist's may have a long road before characters consummate their feelings at all.  Some people don't believe actual sex belongs in YA books- but it is still there.  Many times it is done so tastefully that it doesn't become teen erotica.  It becomes part of a coming of age/first time story. This is a fact that many teens find relatable. Something that can be a sweet, appropriate part of the main characters' story.

Here are several YA books that have sex scenes—but they add to the storyline in some way or other. 

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

In this second book in her YA Arcana Series, she plays out the physical relationship between Evie and her love interests—Jack (a human) and Aric (Physical representative of the Death tarot card). The first is her first time, and it is done tastefully and sweetly with Jack. 

He traced his hand between us, lower, lower, dipping his fingers. “So hot,” he groaned. “So perfect. You want this too.” It wasn’t a question. He began touching me as I needed him to, petting me. Whatever he was doing made me crazed for more. I rocked my hips to his caressing fingers, lids growing heavy, but I kept my gaze pinned to his. His hips rocked too, wedging his hardness against me. My eyes went wide when he started to press inside.

[More Sex in Young Adult literature...]

May 1 2015 8:30am

Creature Feature: Beginner’s Guide to Shifters and Demons from Showalter, Ione, and More!

The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole

I was always a straight historical romance girl.  I wanted balls, belles, and alpha male characters.  The thing about pigeon holing yourself as a reader is that you tend to read what is out in your genre and you are left waiting for the next book…sometimes months or a year! 

Last fall, I decided I’d try a new type of romance after looking at a daily deal through Amazon.  I guess it wasn’t my first foray into paranormal, I did read the Twilight series.  The cool thing about adult paranormal romance is that it goes places that Bella and Edward couldn’t- being YA.  I picked up my first Kresley Cole book in about October.  Since then, I have bought into all of her series.  Then, I read them all.  Instead of twiddling my thumbs, I looked into some other paranormal romances.  I am now hooked like a junkie.  I want Valkyries, werewolves, shapeshifters, zombies, and any other fairytale creature you can come up with!  Here is my round up of some creatures that I have fallen for hook, fang, and claw! 

If you want to just dip your toe into one of these types of books, I recommend Gretchen Rily’s novella, Grave Shifter.  I haven’t read a ton of shape shifter books, but this one was different for me.  First of all, the character takes on forms from graves and shifts in and out of form via that way. She needs actual bones to bring herself out of a grave.  It was a fresh idea to me, and the sex scenes were hot.  In fact, there is a certain pool scene that is stamped in my memory. The storyline was easy to get into with an angry female protagonist and sexy male.  Again, this is a shorter piece, so feel free to try this first. 

[But if you want demons, then...]

Apr 3 2015 8:30am

First Look: Mina Vaughn’s How to Punish Your Playboy (April 6, 2015)

How to Punish Your Playboy by Mina VaughnMina Vaughn
How to Punish Your Playboy (DommeNation #3)
Pocket Star / March 31, 2015 / $1.99 digital

In this saucy and funny domination romance, pin-up model Veronika Kane meets sexy, arrogant Aston Delano and decides to teach this playboy a lesson he’ll never forget.

When Veronika Kane hears that she’s up for Miss Pin Up Las Vegas, she auctions off her classic hot-rod and decides to head out west. But when the man who bought her car, hot restaurateur Aston Delano, asks her to “show him the ropes,” his not-so-innocent question takes them down a surprising, sexy road. And as they travel cross-country as Domme/sub, their chemistry sizzles—as do the luscious meals Aston creates.

Torn between the rediscovered pleasure of food and worry about staying in competition shape, Mistress Veronika unexpectedly finds herself as much a pupil as a teacher. Throw in long-distance trouble from her ex and from Aston’s family, and it’s a potential recipe for disaster. A road trip can be hard on any relationship—will this drive them apart, or will they buckle in for the long haul?

Mina Vaughn has hit it again (literally and figuratively) in the latest in her DommeNation series. As a reader since day one, I can honestly say I like How to Punish Your Playboy the most! Her plot is even stronger this time around as well as her character development. There is really something for everyone—even lovers of romance who are not necessarily into BDSM. It is rough enough for those who are, but gentle enough for those who aren’t. Plus, who doesn’t love an amorous road trip trope?

[Let's hop in the car and get outta here!]

Mar 19 2015 4:00pm

First Look: Candace Camp’s Pleasured (March 24, 2015)

Pleasured by Candace Camp Candace Camp
Pleasured (Secrets of the Loch #2)
Simon & Schuster / March 24, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

From New York Times bestselling author Candace Camp comes the second delicious novel in her trilogy of Scottish historical romances, Secrets of the Loch.

Damon, the earl of Mardoun, is smitten the moment he meets Meg, the village healer—but she rejects every advance from the earl, and will have none of him, even if he is the most handsome man she’s ever laid eyes on. But when unforeseen circumstances bring them together, her conviction begins to fade…

Damon’s daughter falls gravely ill, and distraught, he turns to Meg for help. During the course of nursing his beloved daughter back to health, Meg and Damon fall madly in love, but they both know an earl must wed a noble bride. And Meg will be no man’s mistress.

Will the two lovers overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds and be together at last? Find out in this sweeping, romantic novel in which love is the greatest treasure of all.

I love few things more than escaping into a historical romance, but I do love highland romances especially. There’s something about the landscape, the brogues, and the hot tempers of those Scots! Pleasured is the second book in Candace Camp’s Secrets of the Loch series. The reader does check in on the characters from the previous book, but it totally stands alone.

[The cheese stands alone?]

Mar 12 2015 12:00pm

First Look: Laura K. Curtis’s Echoes (March 17, 2015)

Echoes by Laura K. CurtisLaura K. Curtis
Echoes (Harp City Security #1)
Penguin Intermix / March 17, 2015 / $4.99 digital

Who is she?

A single photo of herself as an infant on a beach, taken before the date on her birth certificate, throws everything Calliope Pearson knows about herself into question. Hoping to find answers, she takes advantage of her job as a travel writer to make a reservation at the Caribbean island resort in the picture.

Resort security chief Mac Brody distrusts Callie on sight. After all, she looks exactly like his deceitful missing wife, Nikki, who owns half the resort. But when Nikki’s found dead, Mac's facing murder charges, and he’s sure that Callie must hold the key to proving his innocence.

The deeper Callie and Mac dive into the mystery of her past, the more bodies surface. And they’ll have to learn to trust each other, or become victims of a dark danger neither could've imagined….

In Laura K. Curtis’s Echoes, the storyline proceeds at a fast pace—a near run, in fact. It all begins on the island of St. Martin where the heroine, Callie Pearson, arrives at a resort hotel. What thriller would be complete without a family secret or secrets, scandal, sex, and love? Well, Curtis doesn’t disappoint—there’s plenty of all four to go around. And around it goes!

[And around and around and around...]

Feb 10 2015 5:00pm

A Sweet Valentine’s Tale: Codi Gary’s Office Romance The Trouble with Sexy

The trouble with Sexy by Codi GaryAfter reading all kinds of romance novels, I have to say a little sweetness can be a fine break.  Codi Gary’s The Trouble with Sexy is a fast paced love story (it all happens in eight days) with fun characters set in a contemporary small town.  It has a Sweet Home Alabama feel to it, but a little more steam.    

The main character, Ryan, is attracted to her boss, Greg, and the courtship and attraction move rather quickly, but going along for the ride is fun and not without rewards.  They have a chemistry and banter that you know is going to lead somewhere.  At first, Ryan is a sweet, rather vanilla girl.  She doesn’t go crazy with clothes or makeup.  But when she has a makeover, she dials up the sexy something fierce.  If Greg liked her before, he likes her even more now that she is a hot piece of ass.  So, what’s the problem, you ask?  Ryan isn’t certain he likes her before the sexy change.  

[That's troubling]

Jan 19 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Julia Quinn’s The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy (January 27, 2015)

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia QuinnJulia Quinn
The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy
Avon / January 27, 2015 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can't be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family's infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She's the type of girl you don't notice until the second—or third—look, but there's something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she's the one.

Iris Smythe–Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can't quite believe it's all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can't help thinking that he's hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

As the title implies, The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy are multiple (no spoilers!), but the main secret comes from a family scandal that is ready to erupt in Julia Quinn's latest book in the Smythe-Smith quartet.  But the real secret is the way each of the characters chooses to deal with this scandal-to-be.  I love me a good scandal...preferably one that finds the hero and heroine caught in an indelicate situation.  Our hero and heroine are caught in such a sitch, but it was more chaste than anything else.

[Do you want to know a secret?]

Jan 9 2015 12:00pm

Served Up Hot: Revenge Stories from Jeffries, KCole, and More!

Beware the Scot's Revenge by Sabrina JeffriesHave you ever wanted to walk up to someone and kick him? Why don’t you?

Because probably, like me, you were raised to be nice. While we are often rewarded for being nice, sometimes I just wish people who deserve their comeuppance would get it. This is why I adore a strong revenge based novel. A nice girl doesn’t get revenge…and if her lover was stroking his (ahem) love of revenge they would revile him. Or would they?

The following are some of my most favorite vengeance-based narratives where the gentleman is out for revenge from either the lady herself or from something in her family’s past. It never gets old for me, even if the vengeance is ill conceived and turns into a spark of love and (even better) lust.

1. Beware a Scot’s Revenge by Sabrina Jeffries

This book has just the right touches of fire and sizzle. The title says it all. There’s nothing sexier than a warrior Scot bent on getting his way—and in this novel it is revenge upon Venetia’s father, who owes Lachlan money. Lachlan’s plan is to kidnap Venetia for a ransom from her father. While taking his revenge, he is bowled over by smart, resourceful girl who is much more than he bargained for. But for this kind of narrative to work for me, there has to be something in the vengeful character that rounds him out. With Lachlan, I could see his point and I wanted Venetia’s father to get his just desserts!

[Did someone say dessert?]