Tuesday, October 30, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "The Hawk" by Monica McCarty

Erik "Hawk" MacSorley
Lady Elyne "Ellie" de Burgh

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
Handpicked by Robert the Bruce to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule, the elite warriors of the Highland Guard face their darkest days. When Bruce is forced to flee, his bid for freedom rests on the shoulders of one extraordinary warrior.

Erik MacSorley is a brilliant seafarer who has never encountered a wind he could not harness or a woman he could not win—until he drags a wet, half-naked nursemaid out of the waters off the Irish coast. Ellie's ordinary appearance belies the truth: She is in fact Lady Elyne de Burgh, the spirited daughter of the most powerful noble in Ireland. Worse, this irresistible woman is determined to prove herself immune to Erik's charms—a challenge he cannot resist.

Her captor may look every inch a rugged warrior, but Ellie vows that it will take more than a wickedly suggestive caress to impress her. Yet Erik will sweep away Ellie's resistance with a desire that resonates deep within her heart. Still, he is a man driven by loyalty, and she is a woman with secrets that could jeopardize Bruce's chance to reclaim his throne. As the battle for king and country sounds across the shores, will Ellie's love be enough to finally tame the legend known as the Hawk?

I love the HIghland Guard series so far. I don't know much about Scottish history and friends have often recommended books about "Hot Scots", so I started with this series. The Hawk is book two.  

The story of Erik and Ellie is sweet and flirty.  I like that Ellie is a strong character with a smart mouth.  This is a seafaring book.  And although that provides a great context, I got lost when the characters moved from one island to the next, through one channel to another, around this bend to another.  I needed a map to navigate!  
Still, this is a great adventure and I love learning more about these Scots!

A great addition to the "Hot Scots", I would definitely recommend this to your TBR pile. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Curse the Dawn" by Karen Chance

Cassandra Palmer may be the all-powerful Pythia now, but that doesn’t mean people have stopped trying to kill her. Most of the supernatural power players don’t want the independent minded Cassie as chief clairvoyant—and they’ll stop at nothing to see her six feet under.

The Vampire Senate does support Cassie in her position, but their protection comes with a price: an alliance with the sexy master vampire Mircea, who has claimed Cassie as his own.

But even the vampires will have trouble keeping Cassie alive now that the self-styled god Apollo, the source of the Pythia’s power, has it in for her in a big way. To save her life—and the world—Cassie’s going to have to face down her creator…

I find myself conflicted about this book - actually my feelings reflect how I feel about the whole series so far. There are episodes in this book that are brilliant. I love the variety of characters. They are funny, courageous, loyal and distinct. What I don’t like is that some of the storylines introduced in Book 1, Touch the Dark, are still yet to be resolved. Cassie is a reluctant Pythia - the Chief Clairvoyant for the Magic World. She is the consort to Master Vampire, Mircea and her ever-present, reluctant companion is John Pritkin, war mage extraordinaire. Her ascension to this position is is unusual and is thus, her legitimacy is constantly being challenged. 

The second half of this book makes the entire series worthwhile. There are genuinely, funny and creative situations . The body exchange was funny and real. If you were placed in a position where you changed bodies with someone of the opposite sex, what kind of things would be thinking about. Yes, that’s right. What does if feel like to perform bodily functions? 

This is also, for me, the first book where we begin to learn more about the principle characters - their past, their concerns, their vulnerabilities. It is the first time that I started to really care about Mircea, Pritkin, and Cassie. It is enough to keep me reading and propel me to the next book.

A reward for those sticking with the first three books, this is a must read.  

Read and reviewed on May 17, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

TAG TEAM: BOOK REVIEW "Undeniable" by Madeline Sheehan

The story of Deuce and Eva...

An undeniable connection that stands the test of time.
Unforgettable moments.
Love and pain and everything in between.

I was five years old when I met Deuce, he was twenty-three, and it was visiting day at Riker's Island. My father, Damon Fox or "Preacher", the President of the infamous "Silver Demon's" motorcycle club -mother chapter- in East Village, New York City, was doing a five-year stint for aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon. It was not the first time my father had been in prison and it wouldn't be the last. The Silver Demon's MC was a notorious group of criminals who lived by the code of the road and gave modern society and all it entailed a great big f**k you.

"Never forget the day Eva came bouncin' into my f**ked up life, shakin' pigtails, singin' Janis, wearin’ chucks and sharin' peanuts and straight up stole any decency I had left which wasn't a whole lot but she f**kin' took it and I've been hers ever since."


Q: Did you like this book?  If so, what did you like best?
Sunny:  If I had to give it a star rating, I'd give it a 3 out of 5. Not because it was a mediocre book, but rather because I felt so ambivalent about it. There were parts that I loved and parts that absolutely hated. Parts I like best included: Every scene when Eva and Deuce are together. These are not always happy encounters, but their relationship is passionate.
Susan:  I loved it! I’ve said this before, but I’m certain it’s because I’m a huge Sons of Anarchy fan and this fit right in.  I loved Deuce & Eva. I hurt for them…I wanted them to have an HEA so badly.  It was hard-earned and brutal, but I’m feeling it was worth it for them.

Q: How would you characterize Eva?

Sunny:  Not perfect, but redeemed. The 5 year old Eva is so innocent and pure, a ray of sunshine to everyone she meets. She maintains that even through most of her adult life. She is the beacon of love and support not only for Deuce, but also her father, Preacher, Frankie and all the other members of the MC. Then she goes off the deep end....this self-hating behavior with Chase. It is difficult to read because it is so far from who she was ... all of her pent of up anger and disappointment.

Susan:  She is the epitome of your environment determining who you become. She was born to be an MC brat and eventually a Queen. It was a given. As pure as she was growing up, this was inevitable. I felt so hurt for her. I think some people think she made bad choice…I don’t know that she even had a choice.  I think her only choice was Deuce.

Q: This book is getting great reviews overall, but also some criticism for being “raw”.  Did you find any problems with the story?

Sunny:  SPOILER   

I became completely enraged by Eva's response to Frankie's sexual assault. 

"God, it was all my fault.... I loved him like a best friend or brother, and not at all like a lover. But he'd forced his way into the lover category and there was nothing I could do; he needed me, he wasn't going to let me go, so I gave him what he needed and tried to make the best of it?"

I could hear every rape survivor, counselor, and concerned female and male gasping at this comment. This is raw and so problematic. Based on who she was at the time, having spent time in college outside of the MC, experiencing her own life, I can't say she didn't have any other alternatives than to stay with Frankie.

Susan:  Yes, this is gritty. I hear people compare this to Kristen Ashley books, but I think this is much edgier, harder, angrier…more real.  There is non-con, obsession, murder, brutality, infidelity, promiscuity…and it’s difficult to read at times.

Q: Why do you think books like this and shows like Sons of Anarchy are so popular?

Sunny:  I think it is escapist fare. We can suspend our moral judgments for a few hours to see what it might be like to live another life. However, disturbingly, a question kept popping up in the back of my mind. Why do we love motorcycle gangs? In this story, the Silver Demons and the Horsemen are gangs engaged in criminal endeavors - drug dealing, gun running, money laundering, etc. They whore around, are extremely violent, and mark their territory. Why do we romanticize these motorcycle gangs and not other gangs? What would happen to the story if we changed out the motorcycle gangs for the Crips? The 18th Street gang? Would we still be romanticizing the story? The question left me troubled.

Perhaps it is the sign of a good book when it raises questions, evokes strong emotions, and has us all talking about it.

Susan:  I agree with you, Sunny. It is unfamiliar ground for many of us.  MC’s live by their own rules/laws.  But what makes this even more fascinating is that it really happens.  These MC’s actually exist.  And I think getting a glimpse into a different “culture” is what makes it too good to look away.  Would I want to immerse myself, date a biker, be a club-whore.  Of course not.  But, it does pique my curiosity…

Friday, October 26, 2012

BOOK SWAP: Susan to Sunny - "Dark Lover" by J.R. Ward

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.
The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.


Sunny's had this on her TBR list forever and I know she's a PNR fan to some degree.  The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is a must read and so incredibly addictive.  Book 1 remains one of my favorites of the series. I love Wrath and the introduction to all the brotherhood characters. The hit-or-miss in each of the books, in my opinion, are the female leads.  But, Beth is a studette and I'm all about her being with the King. I have a feeling Sunny will love it!


I'm a little late to this party, but on purpose. When I originally saw how many books there are in this series, and until I could work out my "drive" (compulsion, obsession) to finish a series at any cost (like hours and hours of sleep), I thought I would hold off on the Black Dagger Brotherhood series until I could find the time and inclination.  I know this series is a "must read" for PNR fans and you can't actually go to a PNR discussion group without hear a mention of BDB.

Still, I held out an entire year before breaking this baby open with the book swap.  My first thought?  What in the world have I been waiting for?

There are million and one great things about this book but let's start with the most obvious:  WRATH. 

Really, intimidation is his middle name and people tremble when he comes into the room. He is as alpha as they come: controlling, demanding, stoic, and possesses an abundance of "sweet" after the "fall".  What stands out about Wrath is the amount of vulnerability Ms. Ward writes into him.  From his first attempt to try to take Beth out on a date to his first try at a smile, there is a sweet child-like quality about him that is endearing:  

"He tried out a smile.  Widened it.  His cheeks felt like they were going to crack."  

When he finally decides to give himself over to Beth, it is heart-felt, and the vulnerability leaps off the page: 

"On the slow float back to earth, he realized it was the first time anyone had ever taken such care to pleasure him.  He wanted to weep that she would still have him at all."

I love paranormal romance, but I don't often think of these characters as real people.  But sometimes the dialogue is so sweet and compelling, you can only imagine these worlds being spoken by the ones most in love: 

"Your language is beautiful," she said. 

"There are no words worthy of you." 

So swoon-worthy. 


Published in 2005, it is still a must read if you are a PNR fan. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW "Finding Zach" Rowan Speedwell

For five years, Zach Tyler, son of one of the worlds richest software moguls, was held hostage, tortured, and abused. When he is rescued at last from the Venezuelan jungle, he is physically and psychologically shattered, but he slowly begins to rebuild the life he should have had before an innocent kiss sent him into hell. His childhood best friend David has lived those years with overwhelming guilt and grief. Every relationship David has tried has fallen apart because of his feelings for a boy he thought dead. When Zach is rescued, David is overjoyedand then crushed when Zach shuts him out. Two years later, David returns home, and he and Zach must come to terms with the rift between them, what they feel for each other, and what their future could hold. But Zach has secrets, and one of them might well destroy their fragile love.

*sigh* Oh, to be loved as David loved Zach. 

“Finding Zach” is a book equal parts horrific, tragic, heartbreaking, sensual, victorious, and loving. It touches on themes of kidnapping, abuse, family, young love, healing, and PTSD. You’d think you’d go dizzy with ALL of that. But, I found myself just feeling FULL at the end…in the best way…

The loveliest part of this book, and the center of everything, is the relationship between Zach (a boy kidnapped and tortured at the age of 15 for 5 years) and David (his longtime friend and the love of his young life). What woo’d me the most was how DEEPLY and COMPLETELY David devoted himself and loved Zach. It’s enough to make both the romantic and the cynic swoon. I felt parts of this book in my heart, in my tears, in my girlie parts, in my toes, and even in my teeth! (I know that sounds weird…but there are nerve ending there! :) )

I had a bit of a struggle with the WHY of how deeply David felt towards Zach…it took but one kiss for him to realize it and then hold on to it for years. Damn…must have been ONE FINE KISS! But, I let it go because the love itself was GLORIOUS (heavens parting, angels singing, gold shining glorious!)


This book is not all roses and sunshine…there are some difficult parts to read…but if you’re up to it, you’ll be rewarded. Highly recommended.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Rev It Up" by Julie Ann Walker

Jake Sommers
Michelle Carter

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
He Never Misses a Target

Jake "the Snake" Sommers earned his SEAL codename by striking quickly and quietly - and with lethal force. That's how he broke Michelle Carter's heart. It was the only way to keep her safe - from himself. Four long years later, Jake is determined to get a second chance. But to steal back into Michelle's loving arms, Jake is going to have to prove he can take things slow. Real slow...

She Aims to Make Him Beg

Michelle Carter has never forgiven Jake for being so cliché as to "love her and leave her." But when her brother, head of the Black Knights elite ops agency, ticks off the wrong mobster, she must do the unimaginable: place her life in Jake's hands. No matter what they call him, this man is far from cold-blooded. And once he's wrapped around her heart, he'll never let her go...

Reading this book is part of my compulsion to read books in a series, even if the first book is good, not great. It is a bit of a conundrum.  My recent experience with first books has bit a little disappointing, but as long as the first book was decent, I forged on and often with positive results.  I read the first book, Hell On Wheels, felt that it had some problems, and was not inclined to read any more. Even so, I thought this book would be a fine IBB (In Between Book). I'm sorry to say that although, the story is stronger than the debut, this book has the same execution problems as the first.

My biggest critique is the writing.  It feels contrived, like the author is trying too hard to be "real" only to come across as crass. The author employs the use of inner dialogue via the use of italics.  Unfortunately, the inner dialogue doesn't sound too much like the what the characters say out loud.  There is definitely a disconnect for me.

The upshot is that this book is definitely better than the first.  The story is stronger and the characters are more likable.  So if this trend continues, maybe I'll back for the next installment.

It's an improvement, but I won't be running to buy the next book.

Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Entwined" by Elisabeth Naughton


Zander is an Argonaut, the oldest of the Eternal Guardians, tasked with protecting both humans and his realm from the daemon forces.  He was once in love but was betrayed by his soul mate and now lives with the bitter aftertaste of that affair.  Callia is the King's healer.  She has tried to distance herself from Zander, her first love, but fate keeps throwing them together.  Now faced with a common enemy and a hunt for a loved one, can they put aside the past to make a future together? 

Entwined is book 2 of the Eternal Guardian series.  This is such an unexpected surprise.  I expect fun.  I expected interesting, exciting, even creative, but I did not expect heart-clenching, heart-felt, and heart-melting.   

"You don't understand.  I didn't want to forget what happened, Zander.  I wanted to forget you.  I wanted to forget how I felt about you..." 

"Is this your way of telling me you finally did?" he whispered. 

"No. I didn't.  I never have.  That's the problem.  It didn't work...Pain isn't freeing.  It's just one more reminder of what you've lost.  And now all I have are these ugly scars. That's what I'll have when this is all over."

I love stories where the characters get another opportunity at love.  I appreciate Zander and Callia's shared history, and was eager to see how they resolve the problem that kept them apart in the first place.  How do they reconcile?  This second chance story goes emotionally deeper.  This misunderstanding HURT.  The assumptions, the lack of trust, the regret make way ultimately, for the redemption.   

"If I had known," he said in a voice thick with emotion, "I would have been there with you.  Every second.  Nothing would have kept me away.  And no one..." His muscles tensed against her.  "No one would have ever hurt you." ... His fingers slid into her hair and he tipped her face to his gently.  But it wasn't anger that plagued his features.  It was regret.  And sorrow. And a grief only she could understand." 

Elisabeth Naughton infuses this emotional journey with a quick-paced suspense. The story is compelling on so many levels.  It just works.  

Elisabeth Naughton has up the ante with Book 2. A fantastic read, it will entice you to the next book, Tempted

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "For You" by Kristen Ashley

Alexander Colton
February Owens


Alex “Colt” Colton and February Owens are meant to be together. They have known each other since childhood. An act of machination drives them apart … for 22 years. Circumstances and the pressure brought on by a serial killer/stalker brings them back together. But this is more than just a reunion, it is a rekindling. 

This book touched me to the core. Lesson learned - Learning to live with and overcoming regret to allow room to make something even more beautiful. It is a tragedy that Colt and February are kept apart for so many years, but what they have now is a product of that separation. The amazing place they find themselves in today cannot be divorced from the time they spent apart. The people they have become are a direct result of the time they spent in distance - each having the time to mature and develop their own “flavor” so that now that they are together, it is a blending of subtle layers and deep fragrance. It is easy to be wistful for all the time Colt and February lost, but realizing that they are stronger now as a mature couple. 

The action and suspense element is not a sidestory to the romance. Colt and February’s relationship is right in the middle of the rampage of a serial killer/stalker with February as the center of the obsession. Kristen Ashley expertly weaves the fear and terror in with the more tender moments of the relationship. It is supremely balanced. 

The secondary characters: Sully, Jessie, Morrie, Jack and Jackie, are all apart of the cheering squad and give color to the story. Lovely. 


This is a perfect book for the genre. It has action, suspense, crime mystery and a hot, sweet, and at times, heartbreaking romance.  I loved this book. Go read it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "The Siren" by Tiffany Reisz

Nora Sutherlin
Zachary Easton
Wesley Railey

THE SUMMARY from Goodreads:
Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she's sure it'll be her breakout book...if it ever sees the light of day.

Zachary Easton holds Nora's fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it's no deal.

Nora's grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining…and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous—staying away from him...or returning to his bed?

Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.

THE REVIEW: *Warning: Spoilers Included*

What is normal?  
I spent the last 15 years asking people in both my person and professional capacity to to widen their perspective, suspend their assumptions, learn tolerance, keep an open-mind.  This book challenged me to do the same thing.  

This was a highly anticipated read for me.  After reading the reviews, and taking my sister’s admonishment to “be ready”, I took the plunge.  Two things I decided before reading:  I would force myself to take it slow (I would normally have read at least 3 books in the the time it took me to read this book and I would manage my expectations).  

“Romance is sex plus love. Erotica is sex plus fear.”

My first thought as I was reading this book was that people are messed up, but then decided that that comment implied judgement.  I resolved to embrace the fact that people find healing in different ways, and if it is between two consenting adults then that is a lifestyle choice.  But always in the back of my mind the book kept asking me, “is it?”

Admittedly, my pace slowed down dramatically when it became clear that Nora was not going to end up with Zach.  I couldn’t help myself.  I’m a romantic at heart and I wanted these two to be together.  But as I proceeded I was drawn to Nora’s relationship with sweet, innocent, virginal Wesley and deeply disturbing fatherly (no pun intended) Soren.  And I realized that these also in some ways represent different aspects of love.  Where many of us would sacrifice one for another, Nora has the courage or maybe the audacity to want it all.  

Nora is the reason I kept reading the book.  I liked her confidence, her quirkiness, her pain, her sacrifice.

“She seemed like the type of woman who’d help you forget about your headache by setting your bed on fire.”

Much like the woman, this book is not straightforward, written in a purely linear fashion, but it is completely accessible..... a little like our heroine.

If you are ready to challenge yourself to stretch your thinking, I say try this book.

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW "I'll Be Your Drill, Soldier" by Crystal Rose

Ryan Gracin had a good life until he told his parents he was gay. Since they yanked their support for college he had to find a way to pay for it. Little did he know that joining the Army was going to change his life forever. Especially when he was introduced to a Drill Sergeant who was nicknamed 'Big Daddy'. Phillip Grabowski had joined the Army to follow in his father's footsteps; by the time Ryan entered, he had already made a name for himself. He was a soldier's solider, but Ryan was making it really hard for him to remember that.

Ok, let’s just deal with the elephant in the room:

I am, indeed a 15-year old boy…at least I feel like I am every time I giggle at this title. Kekekeke.

This book is just silly. It called on every generic trick in the book. When it tried to be funny and “banter”ful, it fell flat. When it tried to be serious, I rolled my eyes. When it tried to be hot…well…I gotta admit, it was hot. 

Still, it read like a book written by a Writing 101 student…whose reader has never read a book before and needs to be spoken to in short sentences w/o any conjunctions to keep it simple. Don’t patronize…

Honestly, I did like the characters. Ryan and Phillip are attractive…if not entirely unbelievable. But I just couldn’t get past the writing…

…and, *giggle* *giggle*…the title.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Scorched" by Laura Griffin

Kelsey Quinn
Gage Brewer

Dr. Kelsey Quinn is a leading forensic anthropologist with the Delphi Center.  She investigates deaths via the use of bones.  Lt. Gage Brewer is a Navy SEAL and demolition expert.  They used to be a couple (Unstoppable) but his long deployments and risky career kept them apart.  Now a murder mystery and a terrorist threat brings them together.  (Please use your very best "coming attractions" voiceover voice when reading this aloud).

Lt. Gage Brewer is the chief suspect in the murder of a FBI Agent.  An FBI Agent who is the former fiancee of his ex-girlfriend.  Dr. Kelsey Quinn is on the run. She witnesses the murder of her ex-fiancee and can't help but wonder if it is connected to a favor she asked of him to help identify the identity of a set of bones found in the Philippines.  Both the FBI and Gage are looking for Kelsey.  He finds her and they go on the run trying to discover the mystery of the murder only to be tangled up in a larger terrorist plot.  

This story is a tightly woven romantic suspense and arguably Laura Griffin's best in her Tracer's series.  The suspense is taut and the actions scenes rival any written for Jason Bourne.  If I have any critique, it is that the romance part takes more time to develop.  After being 43% into the story, there is still no action between the characters. However, when the interaction between Kelsey and Gage does start, it sizzles.  The chemistry between the two character is steamy. I love second time around stories.  It helps alleviate the "huh?" of a insta-love and the issues facing the two are deeper than "does he/she like me or not?"  

If you are a Laura Griffin fan, you will love this book.  If you haven't read Laura Griffin before, what are you waiting for? Scorched is a great place to start.

ARC courtesy of Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW "The Marriage Trap" Jennifer Probst

WIFE WANTED: Italian billionaire seeks faux fiancée. Willing to agree to anything in return...

In order for his sister to marry, Italian billionaire Michael Conte has to find himself a bride – and fast! When he learns that photographer Maggie Ryan is going to be in Milan, Michael hatches a plan to introduce her to his family as his “fiancée.” Never mind that Maggie is confident, independent, and a control freak. Never mind that she’s everything he doesn’t want in a wife… and everything he wants in his bed!

Convinced that Michael is in love with her married gal pal, Maggie agrees to keep up the ruse if he’ll keep away from her friend. Besides, she’s not attracted to charming, ridiculously hot billionaires who drive her nuts. Once they’re in Italy, however, everything changes – and the sexual tension between Maggie and Michael goes from simmer to naked nuclear meltdown!

But have they found the perfect arrangement… or are they trapped in a make-believe marriage?

Meh. (*shrugs a shoulder*)

…you can get past the ridiculous and overdone premise of “marrying to fool my family”
…you can forget that this SAME premise was used in book 1 of the series, not with strangers, mind you, but with the brother and friend of this book’s MC’s (book 1, "The Marriage Bargain", I kinda enjoyed, BTW...)
…you can get past Maggie’s utterly annoying “walls” she puts up which makes me not give 2 cents about what happens to her

…this book has some enjoyable moments
…you can get fired up w/ some hot & steamy parts
…it turns out to be not an entirely terrible read.

All in all, kinda boring, kinda annoying, but Michael Conte is smoking hot.

Full disclosure: I had to FORCE my way through this book, starting and stopping about 10 times. It was sheer determination that got me through since I have never DNF’d a book to date. That being sad, still, I’ve read worse. 

I could see how some people would enjoy this book. I just found Maggie too annoying to get past.

SUSAN: BOOK REVIEW "Rough Canvas" by Joey W. Hill

When his father dies, Thomas is forced to abandon a burgeoning art career in New York. As difficult as it was to give up his lifelong dream, it's nothing next to walking away from the man he loves. Marcus taught him to embrace who he is, a sexual submissive who responds to the touch of only one Master. But why would the sophisticated Marcus need some farm kid from the South? Then Marcus shows up and offers him a way to continue his art career and help his family. There's only one hitch-he asks Thomas to spend a week with him in the Berkshires. Thomas knows he should refuse. But he's never been able to say no to his Master.

Please pardon me while I have a "moment"...


Joey W. Hill, new to me author, writes like an artist. This book felt like I closed my eyes and was listening to a masterpiece composition...music that rolled over me, harshly grabbed me and pulled me under as I was drowning, and then gently brought me back up for air. 

The emotions in this book were felt so acutely in my heart, in my gut, in my fingertips, in my...ummmm...well, you know...

The first half of the book I felt so much loss and pain and protectiveness towards Thomas. And because of it, I became obsessed with how Marcus loved him and took care of him. But, very abruptly, not subtle at all, I found myself fiercely aligned with Marcus...even to the point of getting angry at times with Thomas for hurting him. 

The most intense and ridiculously-well-written scenes (the BDSM club, the hospital, every interaction between Marcus and Thomas' mom) continue to haunt me. 

And I loved the comic relief that the character of Julie brought to the book. I'm obsessed with her.

The book has BDSM in it, but not in a way that is in your face. I felt BDSM was used as a way to shine light into who our characters are in their core and why. For those who are not "fans" of BDSM, don't let that push you away from this book at all...you'll be missing out on a BEAUTIFUL love story.


This book feels like a gift. A MUST READ in the M/M genre.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SUSAN: BOOK REVEIW "Frog" by Mary Calmes

Weber Yates's dreams of stardom are about to be reduced to a ranch hand's job in Texas, and his one relationship is with a guy so far out of his league he might as well be on the moon. Or at least in San Francisco, where Weber stops to see him one last time before settling down to the humble, lonely life he figures a frog like him has coming. Cyrus Benning is a successful neurosurgeon, so details are never lost on him. He spotted the prince in a broken-down bull rider's clothing from day one. But watching Weber walk out on him keeps getting harder, and he's not sure how much more his heart can take. Now Cyrus has one last chance to prove to Weber that it's not Weber's job that makes him Cyrus's perfect man, it's Weber himself. With the help of his sister's newly broken family, he's ready to show Weber that the home the man's been searching for has always been right there, with him. Cyrus might have laid down an ultimatum once, but now it's turned into a vow-he's never going to let Weber out of his life again.

I could read this book 10 times in a row and not get sick of it...the smile would NEVER leave my face!

This was such a sweet, endearing, pleasant, heartwarming, tender, adorable, story. How can you go wrong with a cowboy and a doctor? How can you miss with 2 guys loving each other so dearly? How can you not love a family that supports their gay son and loves his partner?

Weber Yates: Cowboy. 6'3", 170'ish lbs. Ginger. Great with kids, dogs, parents, and a man of respect and manners. Slightly unsure of himself. Stubborn. But, a "mountain"...wants to carry your burden. Affectionate and says some of the sweetest things.

Cyrus Benning: Doctor (neurosurgeon). 6'1". 165'ish. Chestnut hair, brown eyes w/ gold flecks. Hard as nails and very serious...EXCEPT when he's around Cy...where he's reduced to a giggling hugger. Makes his parents proud. Isn't afraid to fight for Cy. Adorable when he's drunk.

I mean...C'MON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to be their wife...I'm totally fine w/ 2 husbands. Ok, if not, can I at least be their best girlfriend?

Ok, yes, the end got to be a bit over-the-top cheesy, but not too drawn out. Only a couple cavities. :)

DEFINITELY READ THIS BOOK if you're in the mood to be swept off your feet and feel like smiling for a few hours or more...

Might be too sweet for some, but I loved it.  I'm a sucker for a cowboy.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Under Fire: The Admiral" by Rita Henuber

Coast Guard Admiral Gemma Hendrickson has made a career out of flying in and out of dangerous situations, but in her free time she looks forward to more relaxing flights—running medical missions in Ecuador.

Dr. Ben Walsh is young, cocky, and very sexy. He also seems determined to get up close with Gemma. 
Together the two take off on what’s supposed to be a routine trip to a remote village, when their plane is shot down off the coast and Gemma is forced to make an emergency landing.

Hiding in the jungle from a murderous drug cartel, Gemma is determined to use all her skills to get Ben home safely. However, it’s not the drug cartel she fears most, but her emotions and the attraction she feels to the young, sexy, and very talented doctor

This is one of those highly anticipated reads because the first book was so well-balanced and nearly perfect. The best part of this one is that we still have a strong female (and over the age of 50 - Girl power) but the issue she deals with is almost singular: to be or not to be a cougar. Being over 40 myself, I can understand some of the insecurities, but for this book, it was just not enough to carry the whole story. It started off as gang busters but did not have enough drama to sustain itself. 

IN A NUTSHELL:  Although it lacked a compelling dramatic hook, this book is filled with action.  If this is on your TBR (To Be Read) list, keep it,  but I don't know if you need to move it up the order. 

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Enslaved" by Elisabeth Naughton


Gryphon is one of the Argonauts, an elite group of guardians that protect the human race from demons of another realm.  Gryphon is rescued from the Underworld where he encounters devastation and trauma that leaves him emotionally scarred.  He feels dirty, unworthy, and ashamed.  After being rescued from Hell by his brother, Orpheus, in Enraptured, he is left enraged and out-of-control.  He is isolated and estranged from his closest friends and family.  

Maelea is an anomaly. She is the product of a deception that Zeus plays on  Persephone, Hades' wife.   Although she is the daughter of a god, she is condemned to immortality on Earth and pursued by Hades.  Her only goal is to be worthy enough to gain entry into Mount Olympus.

This is the story of two wounded outcasts finding each other and trying to shed their demons (not to mention the demons dispatched from Hell).  Their adventure solidifies their bond and the relationship is explosive.


Elisabeth Naughton's books have become a bit of addiction for me.  I have read 9 of her books in 16 days.  Enslaved is the fifth book in her Eternal Guardian series.  This review encapsulates my feelings about the entire series.  I was first drawn to these books because of the connection to mythology.  With that focus, clearly this was going to be a light, fun, romantic read, right?  Yes, and more.  Embedded in the fanciful mythology are serious themes - betrayal, loss, abandonment, self-esteem, and surviving trauma.  These books are steeped in emotion.

What I love about Elisabeth Naughton is that she strikes an excellent balance between action and emotion, thrill and suspense.  Her characters are well-defined, each struggling with a complex emotional issue all within the story of gods, furies, and guardians.  The characters, despite the extraordinary powers, feel real.  


This series, and particularly this book, is worthy of your time and attention and gets my highest recommendation.

Thanks you to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Intimate Enemies" by Joan Swan


Cassandra Christo is going home to Baja, California Mexico and she is on a mission.  She is out to evict her stepfather, Saul, from her deceased mother's home.  Her mother died six months ago along with her stepbrother in a boating accident.  Now Saul is bringing prostitutes home and Cassie is going to find a way to get him out.  Unfortunately, for Cassie, Saul is not merely a morally corrupt john, he also happens to be a white slave trader and now a terrorist smuggler.  

When she arrives at her family estate, along with Saul, she meets Rio Santana, Chief of Security.  This is not the first time they have met.  At the her mother's funeral, Rio provided support, warmth and care to Cassie and although, she barely remembers his name, she does remember his compassion and touch.  For Rio, helping Cassie is one of the first times in a long time he's made a human connection.  As an I.C.E. agent working undercover for over a year, he has closed himself off to any ties choosing to keep himself totally focused on his assignment, until he met Cassie.

This was suppose to be an "in between" book (IBB).  You know those innocuous books that fill your time in between when your "highly anticipated" books are published. These books make you happy you read them, but you don't expect to be moved or surprised by them.  So, what an unexpected pleasure when an IBB becomes a highly entertaining book.  

Things I liked about this book:
* Cassie - I like strong female characters in my romantic suspense books.  Cassie is an emergency room doctor (smart) and is characterized as a bulldog for her tenacity in getting to the bottom of things.  She is also smart in other ways.  Without putting in a spoiler, let's just say she is astute and keenly observant and has the smarts to put the puzzle pieces together!  I love it!

* Rio - smart, vulnerable, and oh, so alpha.  

* Setting - Being in Baja, Mexico gets to take advantage of the fear and violence brought on by the gangs and drug cartels. 

* Great action and suspenseful scenes.  Had me on the edge of my seat.  

Things that could've used some work:
* Both characters are wounded by their past.  For Cassie, her situation could've been brought up earlier in the book.  As a reader, it would help me add to the layers of her character earlier on. For Rio, there was not enough development to his past tragedy.  It could've been more developed and also brought in earlier in the story. 

This is, of course, a great IBB, but don't be shy to move up your To Be Read (TBR) pile.  

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Reflected In You" by Sylvia Day

Gideon Cross. As beautiful and flawless on the outside as he was damaged and tormented on the inside. He was a bright, scorching flame that singed me with the darkest of pleasures. I couldn't stay away. I didn't want to. He was my addiction... my every desire... mine.

My past was as violent as his, and I was just as broken. We’d never work. It was too hard, too painful... except when it was perfect. Those moments when the driving hunger and desperate love were the most exquisite insanity. We were bound by our need. And our passion would take us beyond our limits to the sweetest, sharpest edge of obsession..

For Heaven’s sake, my jaw still hurts from clenching my teeth the whole time while reading this book.  So much happens, the story is so intense.  The attraction between Eva and Gideon is beyond just physical attraction, it almost defies the laws of physics.  

While reading this book,  I just had one question that I kept asking myself:

Is it enough to just acknowledge you’re f*cked-up and then go head long into engaging bad behavior that will ultimately, make you feel bad about yourself?
I started to get a little irritated with Eva's attitude of “I cannot help myself”... denying all responsibility. But then I realized it also the most delicious part of this book.  Who has not at some point in their life wanted to be completely consumed by passion and love? Throw caution to the wind and just go with "I cannot help myself."

I liked this book more than the first.  The first book almost feels like a prologue.  My questions about book one, begin to get answered here and it is enough so that I am willing and somewhat desperate to read the third book.

If you are looking for an intensely wild, breath-taking read, GO GET THIS BOOK!