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Posts Tagged ‘Humour’

(The Eternity Gambit, #2)

Genre: Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy with Paranormal Elements

Cover Blurb:

Working in the Temptations Department in H.E.LLc isn’t about stock tips and sugar plums. It’s more like hands-on demolition and no one can implode a wicked man’s life with sexier flair than demonic agent, Lillith Fields.

Except her newest target is providing way too many challenges and for a girl who’s used to toppling men with the slightest glance, Jackson Kent is not giving in—at least, not without a fight. He is a sports legend and a rising celebrity flagged by Upper Management for a lesson in humility or what Hades Enterprises likes to call a “take down”, but Lilly sees him as very delicious low-hanging fruit.

Jackson Kent never jumps without looking and instead of turning to putty in her hands, he is making a demon rethink her tactics. It’s Lilly who’s melting when Jackson turns sincere eyes her direction and no matter how hard she tries, the seduction isn’t going how she’d planned. It turns out that Jackson Kent might just be the very first Good Guy she’s ever met. It’s the Temptress who’s tempted to forfeit the game and bare all.

But how will a truly good guy feel when the woman of his dreams isn’t a good girl by anyone’s reckoning? It’s a tough call and for Lilly, it’s life and death. Love is a dangerous move for a demon and she could lose more than the game if Jackson sends her packing.

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LOVED IT!

I couldn’t wait to revisit the world of H.E. LLc. and DEVIL MAY CARE combines all the imaginative, fun-packed elements and quirky characters I loved so much in DEVIL TO PAY.

From the moment she gets stuck in the revolving doors, Lillith (Lilly) completely stole the show for me. A Temptress of the First Plane, confident in her demonic abilities, it was delightful to watch her plans to seduce Jackson fail at every turn. I loved her bewilderment when she finds herself succumbing to human frailties and emotions.

There he was. The man she was about to seduce and destroy with her delectable feminine powers and she had…. the hiccups?

No wonder Jackson puts Lilly in a tail spin. He is a genuinely caring and sincere but sexy with it. It did make me wonder why the Upper Management were so determined he should be “taken down”. I also love how he is willing to face the top brass at H.E. LLc to fight for the woman he loves.

He wasn’t thinking about his odds of survival. He wasn’t thinking at all.
He was going to save the woman he loved.

Although there is only one kiss (albeit a pretty hot one), the potent chemistry and brilliant dialogue between Lilly and Jackson create a deliciously sexy romance.

The secondary characters – Lilly’s boss, Asmodeus, the demonic Prince of Lust; crisp and business-like Laurel Marsh, Jackson’s coordinator; Malcolm, the acting Regent of Hell – all add to the fun. I loved Malcolm in Devil to Pay with his demonic humour and I do hope he gets his own book. One of my favourite quotes comes from him.

“Start a new office pool.”
Jessia brightened and pulled out her tablet to take notes. “On what subject?”
“On whether or not I end up doing the chicken dance with the mother of the groom, of course.”

How I imagine Jackson…

How I imagine Lilly…

My Verdict: If you are looking for an entertaining, romantic and fun read, then I can definitely recommend DEVIL MAY CARE.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE

Read May 2015

The Eternity Gambit series so far (click on the book cover for more details):

Devil to Pay (Eternity Gambit, #1) by Renee Bernard Devil May Care (The Eternity Gambit Book 2) by Renee Bernard

 

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Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

No man, gentleman or otherwise, has ever looked at Lady Edwina Bollash the way the brash, handsome man standing before her is doing now. Edwina has accepted the challenge to transform incorrigible Mick Tremore into a gentleman in just six weeks. And although the linguist is sure she can rise to the task, she isn’t at all certain she won’t swoon under his frankly sensuous gaze before her job is done.

Mick has lived outside of London society long enough to know that appearances can be deceiving. Edwina might look all buttoned up-the perfect English lady-but there is unleashed passion existing just below her placid facade (not to mention a great pair of legs!). And as she prepares him to take his place in society, Mick prepares Edwina to take her place in his heart…and in his bed.

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WOW!  WHAT A FABULOUS BOOK! IT IS DEFINITELY ONE OF MY TOP PICKS FOR THIS YEAR!

I was totally captivated by this book…by the fresh working of the “Pygmalion” story, the lyrical writing and sparkling dialogue, the unforgettable characters and the wonderful romantic chemistry. In fact, everything blended so perfectly.

MICK TREMORE

Mick is such a unique and wonderful hero…handsome, charming, honest, hard-working and so sexy in an earthy way.  He is a very caring person , sending most of his money back to Cornwall to support his ten younger siblings. That care extends to his dogs and ferrets as well and it was touching to see his genuine concern for his old and frail ferret, Freddie.

I couldn’t help but be swept away by his positive attitude and carefree enjoyment of life – “Miss Bollas, life be rich. Why don’t you bite yourself off a piece?”  

EDWINA BOLLASH

It was refreshing to have a heroine who doesn’t conform to the standard mold. Winnie is a 6ft tall, bespectacled, gawky, 29 year old spinster, who sees herself as unattractive and has no romantic expectations. She is strong and capable but with vulnerabilities that make her such a sympathetic character.

The daughter of the Marquess of Sissingley, she once lived a life of wealth and position until her father died and a distant cousin inherited the marquisate. Left to fend for herself, she makes ends meet by tutoring private students in elocution and deportment. Her father had been a linguistics scholar of some stature and she too had developed an interest in people’s speech.

THE ROMANCE

The romance between Mick and Winnie was funny, sweet, poignant and passionate and I loved sharing every moment. If I was asked to pick a favourite scene, it would have to be where Winnie suggests that Mick shaves off his mustache. The mustache isn’t going without something in return…after all it is an outward symbol of his “lionhearted virility“. For a man with a fetish for long, long legs, there is only one bargaining chip…

“Hop up here, loov. Let’s see what’s under those skirts.”

What follows is one of the best sexually charged scenes I have ever read. Brilliantly done.

I enjoyed seeing how each of them grows and changes in the course of the story, Winnie most of all. Mick opens up a world of fun and passion to her and nothing exemplified the changes in her more than the scene in the Bull and Tun tavern where she lets go of her all inhibitions.

How grand! Oh, how grand it was simply to do what she felt like doing! How grand to be alive tonight!

I loved how Mick adored Winnie and saw only beauty in her irregular features..who wouldn’t love a man like that!

Pretty faces are a guinea a dozen. So predictable. I’m tired of pretty faces already. Your face, though, I’d never tire of.”

Like other reviewers, I was disappointed by the rather conventional ending but it did not detract from the sheer pleasure of reading this story.

MY VERDICT: A MUST READ FOR ANYONE WHO LOVES HISTORICAL ROMANCE!


REVIEW RATING:  STELLAR 5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING:  HOT

Read April 2015

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(Scottish Brides, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

He will expose her as the criminal he seeks, or seduce her as the woman he desires…

An old maid—that’s all Lady Christina McMorlan, daughter to the Duke of Forres, is to society now that she’s past thirty. She hosts her father’s parties and cares for her siblings, knowing she’ll never have her own home and family. She has no time to pine, however. By night, she’s The Lady, head of a notorious whiskey-smuggling gang that supports her impoverished clan. They’re always one step ahead of the revenue man—until Lucas Black shows up.

Rejecting his title and the proper society that disparaged his mother, Lucas earns his living running a successful gambling house. He’s also a spy, charged with bringing down the Forres Gang. He thinks The Lady’s just a bored society spinster. She thinks he’s a lost child playing at rebellion. And when the truth comes out, it’s not just their love on the line…

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The perfect combination of intrigue, passion and romance.

This is the third and final book in Nicola Cornick’s enjoyable Scottish Brides series

Lady Christina is the eldest of the MacMorlan sisters and, at the age of 33, considered to be the ‘old maid’ of the family…the dutiful daughter, keeping house for her father, the Duke of Forres. While he selfishly indulges in his academic studies, Christina also runs the estate and cares for the welfare of her father’s tenants. None of her family suspects that, at night, she becomes The Lady, leader of a successful whisky smuggling gang.

I love Christina’s dual personality…the staid spinster who is easily overlooked and the brave woman who is willing to risk her life to support and protect her people from those who would exploit them. Her family see her as a passionless woman but, in her youth, she had been wild and reckless but sacrificed her own happiness to take care of her father and younger siblings after her mother dies.

When Lucas’s half-brother, Peter, is murdered whilst on a trip to Scotland, Lucas is determined to bring the murderer to justice. The Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth, is convinced that the infamous Kilmory smuggling gang are involved and Lucas volunteers to go to Castle Kilmory and, posing as a footman, infiltrate the smuggling gang and discover the identity of his brother’s murderer.

I do love a hero who has had to drag himself up by his bootstraps and Lucas did that and more. The legacy of being the illegitimate son of a Scottish laird and a Russian princess and his anger over his father’s abandonment of himself and his mother has fuelled Lucas’s determination to succeed. The hardships he endured taught him to be hard, strong and ruthless. Now he runs the most prestigious gambling salon in Scotland, rejecting the title and lands inherited from his father. Emotions have no place in his life…they weakened a man.

Lucas is totally unsuited to this role as footman, more used to giving orders rather than taking them. His irreverence results in some amusing exchanges with Christina and this is one of my favourites, when they are discussing plans for her father’s grotto:

“Here you have them, Mr Ross. I hope they will give you an idea of what my father has in mind.” Her gaze fell on the top book and she bit her lip, recoiling slightly. “Oh, my goodness! I assume papa does not intend his statues to be quite so overendowed.”

“I now have a mental image of the garden grotto as a woodland glade in which satyrs ravish innocent maidens,” Lucas said, enjoying her discomfiture. He was sure that for a moment her gaze had flickered to his groin as though comparing him to the preposterously huge men in the book.

“Pray remove that image from your mind, “Christina said sharply. “We do not require you to use your imagination, Mr Ross. Not at all.”

It was easy to sympathise with Christina’s insecurities about herself…a complexion that had lost its youthful sparkle and a chin that was showing signs of sagging (I know the feeling well) and I loved that Lucas saw her as beautiful and desirable.


His hand closed over hers and she froze, catching her breath. Her face was in profile and he could see the curve of her lips and a pulse beating in the delicate hollow of her throat. Beneath his hand her fingers trembled. The awareness shimmered beneath them like a heat haze.

The romance was perfectly paced…an intoxicating mix of heart-warming tenderness and delicious sensuality. I could feel the deep emotional connection between Christina and Lucas which made their love for each other both genuine and believable. I enjoyed seeing how Lucas’s love for Christina enables him to come to terms with his painful past.

There was an interesting cast of secondary characters; the merciless excise man, Mr Eyre, who is a vicious adversary, the selfish Duke of Florres, Christina’s father and Gertrude, Christina’s viper-tongued sister-in-law. Robert and Lucy (The Lady and the Laird) and Jack and Mairi (One Night with the Laird) are on hand to lend their support.

There is plenty of drama and excitement and the identity of Peter’s murderer came as a big surprise. The one thing that I could have wished for was a charming Epilogue with a glimpse of the future. Yes, I’m a real pushover for all those cute children.

A captivating and sensual love story and a satisfying finish to this enjoyable series.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read September 2014

Scottish Brides series (click on the covers for more details):
The Lady and the Laird (Scottish Brides, #1) by Nicola Cornick One Night with the Laird (Scottish Brides, #2) by Nicola Cornick Claimed By The Laird by Nicola Cornick

 

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(Scandalous Seasons, 1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

Hopeless romantic, Lady Emmaline Fitzhugh, is tired of sitting with the wallflowers, waiting for her betrothed to come to his senses and marry her. When Emmaline reads one too many reports of his scandalous liaisons in the gossip rags, she takes matters into her own hands.

War-torn veteran, Lord Drake devotes himself to forgetting his days on the Peninsula through an endless round of meaningless associations. He no longer wants to feel anything, but Lady Emmaline is making it hard to maintain a state of numbness. With her zest for life, she awakens his passion and desire for love.

The one woman Drake has spent the better part of his life avoiding is now the only woman he needs, but he is no longer a man worthy of his Emmaline. It is up to her to show him the healing power of love.

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FOREVER BETROTHED, NEVER THE BRIDE is the first book I have read by Christi Caldwell and I was totally captivated by this charming, romantic, funny and poignant story.

Drake resents the fact that his future had been mapped out for him since he was a young boy. Desperate to escape the exacting expectations imposed by his father, he enlists in the army only to find himself caught up in the horrors of the Napoleonic war…a war that he can never forget.

He would never escape the war. His mind would forever remain on the bloody fields of battle.

Sleepless nights, hellish nightmares and bouts of lost self-control convince him that he is a madman. To retain a hold on sanity, he buries himself in mindless pursuits… drink and women…his relationships devoid of any emotional connection. He has no intention of marrying…he has no intention of submitting any woman to his dark nightmares. Although betrothed to Emmaline for fifteen years, their contact has been limited and, since his return from the war, he has deliberately avoided her. So he knows very little about Emmaline until one memorable encounter leaves him eager to find out more about his intriguing betrothed.

Wallflowers were content to be dull creatures seated on the sidelines, escaping any notice. They were not clever young ladies with cheeky retorts.

A little over 5 feet tall and lacking the requisite curves, Emmaline is considered rather unremarkable by the ton. Everyone knows she is betrothed and, therefore, honour dictates that no other gentleman can court her. Relegated to being a virtual wallflower and food for the gossips, she has suffered the indignities with only her dear friend, Sophie for moral support. Although she longs for a marriage full of love and passion, her strong sense of loyalty to her father makes her determined to fulfil her obligation and marry Drake. Drastic situations require drastic measures.

“There will be no more opera singers, ballet dancers, young widows, none of it. His days of carefree debauchery are officially at an end. He just doesn’t know it yet, but he will, beginning tonight.”

Oh, Emmeline is such a delightful heroine…mischievous, courageous and funny. Oh yes, she also talks to plants and reads Gothic novels. When she decides to ‘stalk’ Drake, I thought it was hilarious. My favourite scene is when she suddenly appears unannounced in his opera box, proceeds to rebuke him for his behaviour and then makes a dramatic exit, leaving Drake furious.

Drake sputtered around another mouthful of red velvet curtains as Lady Emmaline made her dramatic exit from his opera box. Cursing under his breath, he violently slammed the drapes down, back into place.

I even felt a little sorry for Drake…poor man didn’t know what hit him!

Emmaline’s compassion for and empathy with the soldiers she visits in the London Hospital has earned her their respect, admiration and loyalty. It also helps her to understand Drake and see beyond the protective barrier Drake has erected around himself to the emotionally scarred man beneath. She is perfect for Drake with her warmth, compassion and insight, she makes him laugh and feel alive again.

I love tormented heroes because they always have a tougher time on their road to a happy ending but, it makes their journey more satisfying to me as a reader. Drake’s struggle to confront his wartime experiences and not run from them adds a serious note to the story and the scene where he visits the London Hospital and talks to fellow soldiers is both poignant and heart-warming.

A wave of relief filled him. There was solace in knowing he was not alone – that there were others who shared his struggle.

I love the analogy Emmeline’s brother, Sebastien draws between her old bonnet and Drake and it was a charming touch at the end when Sebastien says to a confused Drake…

“Tell Emmeline to throw out the bonnet I’d given he. Tell her I said her bonnet is just fine.”

Ms Caldwell has gathered an interesting cast of secondary characters, all begging for their own stories; Drake’s best friend, the straight-talking, witty Lord Sinclair (I loved their banter); Emmaline’s bubbly friend and confidante, Sophie Winters and Emmeline’s haughty, over-protective brother Sebastian, Duke of Mallen (he doesn’t stand a chance when Emmeline and their mother gang up against him). There is one more important character I must mention – a little, scruffy, black puppy called Sir Faithful.

Overall, this was an engaging story written with warmth, wit and style and I will definitely be reading the other books in the series.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read September 2014

Scandalous Seasons series (click on the covers for more details):

Forever Betrothed, Never The Bride (Scandalous Seasons, #1) by Christi Caldwell Never Courted, Suddenly Wed (Scandalous Seasons) by Christi Caldwell Always Proper, Suddenly Scandalous (Scandalous Seasons Book 3) by Christi Caldwell Always a Rogue, Forever Her Love (Scandalous Seasons Book 4) by Christi Caldwell

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(The Dressmakers, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

From the Diary of Leonie Noirot: The perfect corset should invite its undoing . . .

Lethally charming Simon Fairfax, Marquess of Lisburne, has reluctantly returned to London for one reason only: a family obligation. Still, he might make time for the seduction of a certain redheaded dressmaker—but Leonie Noirot hasn’t time for him. She’s obsessed with transforming his cousin, the dowdy Lady Gladys, into a swan.

Leonie’s skills can coax curves—and profits—from thin air, but his criminally handsome lordship is too busy trying to seduce her to appreciate her genius. He badly needs to learn a lesson, and the wager she provokes ought to teach him, once and for all.

A great plan, in theory—but Lisburne’s become a serious distraction, and Leonie’s usual logic is in danger of slipping away as easily as a silk chemise. Could the Season’s greatest transformation be her own?

NOTE: If, like me, you thought this was the last book in the series, you will be delighted to hear that Lady Clara Fairfax will be getting her well-deserved Happy Ever After

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This is the third book in The Dressmakers series and is a delightful blend of engaging story, charming characters and delicious sensuality. Loretta Chase is a wordsmith, par excellence…every word is carefully crafted to produce writing that flows as smoothly as one of Maison Noirot’s exquisite creations and the dialogue sparkles with wit and humour.

Here are just a few of the things that I loved.


Leonie Noirot

Watching the business first, last and always Leonie trying to resist the devastatingly charming Simon was an absolute delight. I love the way Ms Chase describes Leonie’s reactions:

…her usually well-ordered brain was wandering into strange byways and taking excessive notice of physical sensations.


Simon Fairfax, Marquess of Lisburne

Simon finds Leonie’s methodical brain fascinating and there is a very memorable scene where he’s turned on by just listening to Leonie reading numbers from a mercer’s bill!

“One hundred twelve yards of black princetta at twelve shillings nine pence per yard.
She went on reading the bill, while he went on kissing her, murmuring in her ear, encouraging her. ” More numbers,” he whispered. “More numbers.”

The book is rich in Ms Chase’s trademark wit and humour and one of my favourite moments is when Simon is trying to persuade Leonie to go to Astley’s Circus with him rather than listening to his cousin reading melancholy poetry in an overcrowded, overheated room.

“A hot stuffy room, crammed with excitable young women and irritated men, and Swanton and his poetic friends sobbing over fallen leaves and dead birds and wilted flowers,” he said. “Yes, I can understand why you can’t bear to be left out.”

It is also peppered with the most delightful and creative use of words.

…the Fairfax family, to which the Earl of Longmore belonged, was large in its main branch and prolific in its associated twigs and vines.

She had compressed his meandering verbiage amazingly.

The loves scenes are deliciously sensual without even a whisper of purple prose. Look out for the rather wicked scene involving a hat, a naughty, teasing smile and a table!

Of course, the dresses play an important role in the story and I love how they are described in such intricate detail. I could actually see all those ruffles, flounces, immense sleeves and delicate embroidery. What I particularly enjoyed was the way in which Simon views the dresses from a purely male perspective.

The immense sleeves provided the main excitement, slashed to reveal what would appear to be chemise sleeves underneath – a glimpse of underwear in other words.

I appreciated all the research (detailed in the Author’s Note ) Ms Chase undertook to give the story its historical accuracy and she even admits to some anachronisms which were necessary for the story.

There is so much more I loved about this book but I’m hoping that you will discover this delightful, witty, entertaining and romantic story for yourselves.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read July 2014

The Dressmakers series so far (please click on the covers for more details):

Silk Is for Seduction (The Dressmakers, #1) by Loretta Chase Scandal Wears Satin (The Dressmakers, #2) by Loretta Chase Vixen in Velvet (The Dressmakers, #3) by Loretta Chase

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(Eternity Gambit, #1)

Genre: Romantic Comedy with Paranormal Elements

Cover Blurb

Being the Devil is a job no one wants. The hours are terrible, the workload unbelievable and frankly, customer service is a nightmare. You’re blamed for everything and liability is no joke when you’re the Lord of Darkness. As a result, turnover for the position is fairly high. The current Lucifer is the seventh lucky one to lose the ultimate lottery and land the title.

Truthfully, there’s very little evil to be instigated.  Free will and a bad history of twisted mythology takes care of all of it–so the guy behind the black onyx desk is generally just the unhappy Archangel left filling out paperwork and doing his best to keep the Big Boss happy. And for Lucifer, forget about dating.  It’s a long, dry run, unless you’re into the women that might be into you–and frankly, the current Lucifer isn’t too turned on by ladies wearing spider web stockings and red Jell-O in their hair.  Not that he blames a few of his predecessors with embracing the Goth hooker thing, but–an Angel has to be true to himself.

So when Lucifer accidentally bumps into a mortal woman who makes him rethink the wisdom of not applying for that maintenance position in Purgatory, it’s a roller coaster ride.  Love can make anyone crazy. And Lucifer is determined to see if he can make it snow in Hell if it will polish up his wings enough to win the girl and get himself fired.

Release date : 8 August 2014

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When I received a copy of this book from Renee Bernard, I was rather intrigued by the curious comment that accompanied it…”It’s NOT a historical romance but I’m hoping it makes you smile”.

This book was not only a complete departure from anything Ms Bernard has ever written before, but also a complete departure from anything I’ve ever read before. Well, did it make me smile? YES! Did I enjoy it? YES!  ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!

I love Ms Bernard’s imaginative and fun take on the generally accepted idea of hell. She has created a unique world populated by a wonderfully diverse group of offbeat characters.

Lucifer (Luke) may be CEO of H.E. LLc., but whoever heard of the Devil loving ballet or treating his demonic workforce with respect even allowing them office parties and karaoke machines! Caring, sincere and honourable, this Prince of Darkness is seriously flawed.

The romance is sweet and funny (definitely no hot, sweaty sex) as Luke woos the no-nonsense Jayne in a charmingly old-fashioned way…flowers, dinner, dancing. Luke has such an endearing quality and I adore the scene where Jayne spots the spider plant he has acquired because she told him he needed some greenery in his office.

I realize it’s a bit puny but I’m assured these things grow. And the red coffee cup is a nice touch of color. Do you…like it?”

Jayne’s reactions to situations and her inner thoughts are priceless.

Is there a remote infinitesimal chance I just tried to pitch PR services to Lucifer, Prince of Darkness and Overseer of Hell?

The secondary characters – Luke’s Personal Assistant, Malcolm…love his demonic humour; the poker playing Archangels Azrael, Uriel and Michael; Jayne’s best friend, Eliza…her idea of a fun day out never involves shopping; Jayne’s mom, the kind of mom everyone should have – all serve to enhance the story.

The dialogue sparkles and there are plenty of great one-liners like this…

So cry in your cocktails all you want, Lucifer, but I don’t think eHarmony is taking applications from the ninth circle of Hell these days.”

There were moments that had me giggling…the Archangel of Death playing a game of miniature golf; Archangel Michael giving a performance worthy of an Oscar. The overall light tone of the story lends the more poignant events a greater impact.

How I imagine Luke…

 “Hi! I’m Satan! Would you be my girlfriend?”

How I imagine Jayne…

Gee, Mom and Dad! I’m dating Satan!  Want to give me your blessing?

Memorable moments:

Oh, man… If the Marlboro Man, Fabio and the guy who played Thor were put into a blender, they could be this guy’s ugly sidekick. 

“A-a demon? Really?” Jayne couldn’t help the shock that crept into her voice. “I mean, sure—demon. Why didn’t I guess that?”
“Granted, we don’t physically resemble our bad image in the press.” He shrugged as if casually discussing baseball scores. “But what an inconvenience that would be! Sulfur fumes and maggots would make it awfully hard to function, don’t you think?”

“Are you…humming to yourself, sir?” Malcolm asked.
“Hmmm. What?” Lucifer looked up from his desktop and the productivity reports of Hell’s various departments. “No. I’m the Prince of Darkness, Malcolm. I don’t hum, whistle or sing.”

Devil to Pay probably isn’t perfect but it was so entertaining, romantic and funny that I really didn’t notice. Now I’m anticipating more hi-jinks at H.E. LLc. with the future books in the series.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE

My sincere thanks to Renee Bernard for sending me a copy of  Devil to Pay in return for an honest review.

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(Mad Passion, #2.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

In this all-new novella from the award-winning author of Lady in Red and The Dark Lady, comes a story of fatal plots, seductive spies, and irresistible passions…

Duchess Clare Ederly is lucky to be alive. Having outlived her violent, abusive husband, she decides to put her significant inheritance to good use helping other battered women by opening a refuge for those seeking to escape. But not everyone is pleased with her work. Someone wants to see her sanctuary torn down—at any cost. Her only hope of protecting her home and tenants is a former spy, whose skill at tracking deadly men is matched only by his dangerous charm…

The Earl of Wyndham has done his part for Queen and country; he has had his fill of plotting and politics and simply wants to retire to the pleasant life of his club. But Duchess Clare’s razor-sharp wit and fierce determination awaken new purpose and admiration in him. To protect her, he will once again delve into the treacherous world of espionage. To win her love, he will do almost anything…

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**4.5 Absolutely Delightful Stars**

I LOVED this novella! It is a captivating and heart-warming story and made a lovely interlude between the darkness and intensity of the other books in this series. It brings together two secondary characters from the previous books –  Lord Byron Cartwright, the Earl of Wyndham (friend to Lord Ian Blake, the hero of the first book, The Dark Lady) and Clare, Duchess of Duncliffe (stepmother to Mary, the heroine of the second book, Lady in Red).

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Byron is a wonderful hero. There is something so adorable about him, with his easy charm and his propensity for quoting Shakespeare. He has experienced the horrors of war but hasn’t let it taint his view of life. His optimism is contagious.

“I am saying that there are things more wondrous in this world, more full of magic than we could ever imagine. And I, for one, despite the terrible things I have seen or perhaps because of them, choose to believe in them.”

He is an uncomplicated person and his dreams are simple…a quiet life, a wife who loves him and children.

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As a young woman of only seventeen, Clare married the Duke of Duncliffe with expectations of happiness, only to discover that her husband was cruel and abusive.

…her gaze bore that haunted mark of one who had seen hell and lived to tell the tale.

Now twenty-five and a widow, she devotes her time to helping other abused women. Her life is her work and she has long since given up any hope of love. Understandably, she is wary of men.

Ms Claremont’s writing perfectly conveys the mood of this enchanting romance. Here are a few of my favourite moments.

How could he do that? With two words? How could he somehow wrap her up in the safety of his voice and presence?

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Right now, she was in hiding, for goodness ’ sake. And the man leading her to God knew where kept spouting Shakespeare and making inappropriate remarks.

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The soft brush of Lord Wyndham’s lips sent Clare reeling. In all her life, she’d never been kissed. Not like this. Not this kind of kiss that every girl imagined and cherished in her heart.

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This was the stuff of knights and their ladies, of Abelard and Eloise, of Darcy and Elizabeth, of Jane and Rochester, of every romance she’d ever read. How she’d longed for it.

The mystery element never overshadows the romance and, although you don’t have to be a great detective to guess the identity of the person threatening Clare, I was so captivated by the characters that it didn’t really matter.

This novella may be short in terms of page count but Ms Claremont’s delightful and heart-warming tale captured my heart.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read April 2014

 

The Mad Passions series (click on the book cover for further details):

The Dark Lady (Mad Passions, #1) Lady in Red (Mad Passions, #2) A Lady Undone (Mad Passions, #2.5) The Dark Affair (Mad Passions, #3)

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(Secret Brides, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

How to Stop a Wedding

Young, widowed, and penniless, Lily Andrews, the Countess of Merrill,has strong opinions on marriage. When she spots a certain engagement announcement in The Times, she decides to take action. She will not allow another hapless girl to fall prey to a man—particularly the scoundrel who broke her heart five years ago. Anonymously she writes and distributes a pamphlet entitled “Secrets of a Wedding Night,” knowing it will find its way into his intended’s innocent hands…

How to Seduce a Widow

Devon Morgan, the Marquis of Colton, desires a good wife and mother to his son—someone completely unlike Lily Andrews, the heartless beauty who led him on a merry chase five years ago only to reject him. When Devon’s new fiancée cries off after reading a certain scandalous pamphlet, he vows to track down the author and make her pay. But when he learns it’s his former fiancée Lily, he issues a challenge: write a retraction or prepare to be seduced—to find out how wonderful a wedding night can be…
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SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT, the first book in Valerie Bowman’s Secret Brides series, is a delightful tale of secrets, seduction and second chances, written with warmth, wit and style.

The things I love about this book:

Sexy, confident, strong, compassionate but stubborn hero ~

Society sees Devon as a gambler, a drinker and a rake. The reality is very different. Using his skill with numbers, Devon has accumulated a large fortune at the gaming tables and invested it wisely. Now he gambles in the squalor of the Rookery for one reason only…. to restore a family heirloom which was a symbol of his ancestry. Having once been deserted by the woman he loved in favour of an older, richer man, Devon now hides his true financial situation. The woman he marries must love him for himself and not his money. His love for his illegitimate son, Justin, and his rescue of an adorable puppy reveal a kinder and softer side to Devon. When Lily needs a knight in shining armour, he comes to her aid.

Resilient, protective, loyal and equally stubborn heroine ~

Left in financial straits after her father dies, Lily is determined to keep her “ragtag little household” together. Nothing is more important than her sister’s happiness and I can understand why Lily is overprotective. She wants Anne to have the freedom she didn’t enjoy whilst under the control of firstly her father and then her elderly husband. I can also understand her reluctance to trust Devon with her heart. To all appearances, he is a carbon copy of her father who drank and then gambled away everything. I love the fact that she is scared of spiders…something so many of us ladies share. It gives her a very human edge.

Delicious sexual tension and steamy passion ~

I enjoyed all the varied nuances of Devon and Lily’s romance.

The feelings of hurt and anger reflected in their barbed remarks to each other…

“I see in addition to your renowned gambling and rakishness, you’ve also turned to the bottle. Are you trying for all the seven sins?”
His voice was calm. “And I see in addition to your renowned flirtations and fickleness, your skills as a hostess leave much to be desired.”

The strong attraction that still simmers below the surface…

He was a drug. That’s what he was. Like opium. A maddening, unhealthy pleasure that left her senses reeling.

Blast it. He was already plagued with indecent thoughts. This entire seduction plot would be much easier if he weren’t driven half mad just looking at her.

The seduction …

She moaned when his warm lips finally touched hers. The contact was almost unbearable. It was the softest, smoothest, least aggressive kiss he’d ever given her. It demanded nothing from her and made her feel more than all the other kisses combined.

The lies…

“Damn it, Lily. Will you listen you me? I never intended to profit from it. You must belive me.”
She clenched her fists at her sides. “Believe you? A liar? A gambler? A man who prizes money above all else? What sort of fool do you take me for?.”

A lasting love

Tears flowed down Lily’s cheek. She smiled through them. “I love you, Devon. I always have.”

An engaging cast of secondary characters ~

I adore Lily’s loyal servants – Evans, the butler who had the habit of falling asleep at the most inopportune moments and Mary, the lady’s maid with an unfortunate memory problem. I love the way in which Lily’s sister, Anne matures during the course of the story:

Oh, Anne, when did you become so wise?”
Anne smiled a knowing smile. “When you weren’t looking, dear sister.”

I also enjoyed the interactions between Devon and his friend, Jordan Holloway, Earl of Ashbourne and Devon’s jealousy of Lily’s friend, Viscount Medford.

Overall, this was a charming fast-paced story filled with humour and passion and a very impressive debut novel from Ms Bowman. I will definitely be reading the other books I have in this series.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2014

The Secret Brides series (click on cover for more details):

Secrets of a Wedding Night (Secret Brides, #1) A Secret Proposal (Secret Brides, #1.5) Secrets of a Runaway Bride (Secret Brides, #2) A Secret Affair (Secret Brides #2.5) Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage (Secret Brides, #3) It Happened Under The Mistletoe (Secret Brides, #3.5)

 

 

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(FBI/US Attorney, #1)

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Cover Blurb:

Fate has thrown two sworn enemies…

Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends with a death. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and for nearly ruining his career.

Into each other’s arms…

Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke; the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension

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Thank goodness for my TBR Pile Challenge. Otherwise, a gem of a book like SOMETHING ABOUT YOU might have remained forever unread!

All the things I loved about this book:

Hot, sexy, alpha hero

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If you like your heroes in the form of a tall, dark, handsome, tough, protective FBI Special Agent, who can kill a man with a paperclip, then Jack Pallas is definitely your man. Oh, and in addition to being prone to scowling, he also rides a silver and black motorcycle…’definitely a bad-boy bike.’

Gorgeous, sassy, likeable heroine…

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Cameron Lynde is everything I look for in a heroine…confident, intelligent and bold. This Assistant U.S. District Attorney is known to be fearless and tenacious in the courtroom. Oh, and she wears ‘killer’ high heels.

Super sizzling chemistry…

This pair are definitely HOT! There is so much sexual tension that you could cut it with a knife. I love the scene where Jack is taking Cameron home on his motorbike and she starts thinking sex…

As they drove, nice and slow along the side streets, Cameron tried to pull her mind out of the gutter. But then they stopped at an intersection and she noticed how Jack’s hands worked the handlebar/ clutch thingy as he revved the engine—almost like a caress— and she began imagining other things his hands could caress, strong hands that could lift her up, hold her down, flip her over, pin her against a wall . . .

I smiled when Jack is constantly being turned on by the sight of Cameron’s camisole strap:

He stole another look, for security purposes , and watched as the sweater once again slid away from her collarbone, inching down, taunting him, teasing him, dipping lower and lower , revealing creamy ivory skin and that delicate gray silk strap he could rip away with his teeth.

When they finally get between the sheets, the temperature soars to boiling!

An array of engaging secondary characters…

I like Jack’s partner, Wilkins and Cameron’s friend Amy but I absolutely adore Collin, Cameron’s gay best friend.

Sparkling, snappy dialogue…

I love Ms James’s dialogue whether it is the initial biting exchanges between Jack and Cameron:

“I want to talk to a lawyer,” Cameron said.
“You are a lawyer,” he said. “And you’re not considered a suspect, so you’re not entitled to one, anyway.”
“What am I considered, then?” “
A person of interest.”
This was bullshit. “Here’s the deal: I’m tired and not in the mood to play games. So if you don’t start telling me what’s going on, I’m walking,” Cameron said.
Jack eyed her yoga sweats and Michigan T-shirt, looking unconcerned with her threats. Thank God she wasn’t still hanging out in her underpants.
“You’re not going anywhere.” He pulled the chair out and gestured. “Take a seat.”
“Thanks, but no. I think I’ll just stick with the plan where I walk out.” Before he could call her bluff, Cameron grabbed her purse and headed for the door. The hell with her stuff, she’d get it later. “It was nice catching up with you, Agent Pallas. I’m glad to see those three years in Nebraska didn’t make you any less of an asshole.”

or the banter between Collin and Cameron:

“You’re losing clothing every time you see him. At this rate, you’ll be naked in front of him before you know it.” Then the strangest thing happened.
Cameron blushed.
“I’m perfectly capable of keeping my clothes on around him, thank you,” she said, her cheeks tinged rosy pink.
Collin was intrigued. He couldn’t recall the last time he’d seen Cameron blush because of a guy.
The plot thickened.

The action and suspense…

I think Ms James creates the perfect balance between the romance and the action/suspense. The identity of the killer is revealed early in the story but I enjoyed the ensuing game of cat and mouse as they try to put the pieces together and uncover the killer before he can get to Cameron.

The movie mentions…

I love this homage to one of my favourite movies, Casablanca

Of all the murder and she-had-no-friggin’-clue-what-else-but-something-that-apparently-involved-the-FBI crime scenes in all the hotels in all of Chicago , Jack Pallas had to walk into this one.

and the reference to the Walls of Jericho scene from It Happened One Night.

Overall, I loved the sizzling, sexy romance, the razor-sharp humour and the exciting suspense elements and I will definitely be reading more books in this series.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2014

 

The FBI/US Attorney series (click on the covers for more details):

Something About You (FBI / US Attorney, #1) A Lot like Love (FBI / US Attorney, #2) About That Night (FBI / US Attorney, #3) Love Irresistibly (FBI / US Attorney, #4) It Happened One Wedding (FBI / US Attorney, #5)

 

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Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

It’s Not Easy Being Good…

Vivacious Vivienne Taylor has finally won her family’s approval by getting engaged to the wealthy and upright John Vandergrift. But when threatened by a vicious blackmail scheme, it is to her childhood friend that Vivienne turns; the deliciously wicked Viscount Dashiell.

When Being Wicked is so Much More Exciting…

Lord Dashiell promised himself long ago that his friendship with Vivienne would be the one relationship with a woman that he wouldn’t ruin. He agrees to help her just to keep the little hothead safe, but soon finds that Vivienne has grown up to be very, very dangerous to all of Dash’s best intentions.

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What a delectable treat this book was…just perfect for brightening up a dull, rainy day! It was hilariously funny and deliciously sexy with a wonderful cast of outrageously quirky characters.

Always the bane of her family, the vivacious Vivienne Taylor has finally won their approval and saved them from financial ruin by becoming engaged to the wealthy and upright John Vandergrift. She is determined to be the perfect wife even though it means supressing her true nature. This might prove more difficult than she expects when her childhood friend and neighbour, Lord Dashiell, returns from his travels. With such a wicked reputation, she should stay well away from him, but Dashiell is the only one she can turn to for help, when she fears her aunt is being blackmailed.  If only he didn’t stir her heart and senses!

Adventurer and seasoned rake, Lord Dashiell has a reputation of steering well clear of any emotional involvements. So when his friend, Vivienne asks for his help, he reluctantly agrees because he feels an obligation to keep her safe. The problem is that the lonely, little girl he befriended has grown into a ravishing, spirited lady who threatens his much vaunted emotional detachment. If only she didn’t stir dangerous emotions best kept dormant!

The chemistry between Vivienne and Dashiell is absolutely delicious as they try not to act on their growing attraction for each other but inevitably they succumb…

The warm softness of his lips sent a hot, heady wave through her that silenced her thoughts. Everything was him. The hard contours of his chest and the tingle of her nipples as they rubbed against him, the taste of his tongue as it caressed the tip of hers, while his thigh pushed between her limbs, invading her, seeking that place inside her that throbbed, deep and wet.

Their attempts to thwart the blackmail scheme, and solve the mystery surrounding some missing, risqué art lead to a series of mad-cap escapades. There are some hilarious scenes and my favourite has to be when Dashiell dons a disguise to help Vivienne escape the clutches of a scheming brothel madam. I won’t spoil it for you, but look out for the halo and pair of angel wings!

There are moments of wickedly funny dialogue as well, like this gem from Vivienne’s Aunt Gertrude…

“Promise me, dear Vivvie, that you’ll be a virtuous lady,” her aunt insisted. ‘This is the most important thing in all the world.” Her eyes narrowed. “No matter how the devil may tempt you… with… with ripe luscious apples and golden calves and silken chemises.”

“Wait, silk chemises aren’t in the Bible. Biblical women wore-”

“But they are in the black soul of the devil, I tell you! Chemises, lacy drawers, and stockings are all in there. He waits for a lady to slip, he whispers to her, enticing her, tingling her…tingling her nether regions.”

Ms Ives has assembled a lively cast of secondary characters; Dashiell’s ribald grandfather and “the boys”; the lady members of the Wesley Congregational; the pompous, conceited John Vandergrift; Teakesbury, the questionable solicitor; the occupants of the seedy brothel and the man-hating cockatoo.

This was such a delightful romp, full of laugh-out-loud moments, vivid characters, spicy dialogue and, of course, romance.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read February 2014


My sincere thanks to Susanna Ives for kindly providing me with a copy of this delightful book in return for an honest review.

 

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