Gambling on the Bodyguard by Sarah Ballance

October 23, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gambling on the Bodyguard by Sarah BallanceGambling on the Bodyguard by Sarah Ballance
Series: What Happens in Vegas #8
Published by Entangled Publishing on October 12, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 154
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
He'll guard her body all night long...

Ski instructor Ellie Montgomery hits Vegas during a romance convention to meet the man of her dreams...only, the man of her dreams isn't the cover model she's there to see. He's the hot-as-sin bodyguard who catches her sneaking in the back door of a meet-and-greet, and he seems more than ready to do what it takes to prove he's twice the man her pretty boy crush could ever be.

Jax Mathis couldn't resist snagging a date with Ellie, but he didn't count on the attraction being more than physical. They connect on a level he didn't think possible--and he can't run fast enough. She makes him want things he thought he'd never have, and maybe, just maybe, they're within reach. But to have it, he'll have to face the one mountain he swore he'd never climb...and with no guarantee she'll be waiting on the other side.

Ellie Montgomery’s love life is stagnated, caught up in the fantasy of finding Mr. Perfect like the heroes in the romance novels she reads.  When she wins a ticket for an “intimate affair” with her favorite cover model, she’s off to Las Vegas and the local romance novel convention.  But when her ticket to excitement goes down the toilet – literally – Ellie is determined to still meet her cover model hero.  Instead, she’s met with a wall of muscle while attempting to sneak in the back door – Jax Mathis.  With a little blackmail, some bacon, and a lot of false confidence, Ellie and Jax soon create an intimate affair of their own.  What happens in Vegas, right?  Wrong!

This novel was a fun-filled fantasy from start to (a very sweet and satisfying) finish.  The plot is engaging, the characters witty, and the romantic sizzle an absolutely perfect balance between lust and love.  Ellie and Jax connect suddenly, but deeply and though their love develops in about three days (this is a suspend-your-belief-and-enjoy-the-fantasy type novel), it’s clear they are soul mates whose love will last a lifetime.

Ms. Ballance does an excellent job packing a lot of drama, action, and romance into one short, entertaining novel.  I’m excited to see what she comes up with next!

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One Forbidden Knight by Nicola Davidson

October 20, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

One Forbidden Knight by Nicola DavidsonOne Forbidden Knight by Nicola Davidson
Published by Entangled Publishing on October 19, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 113
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
two-half-stars
An unexpected seduction...

Catherine Linwood is amongst the favored of Tudor Queen Mary-until her physician father dies mysteriously. She's distraught, shunned and desperate for answers. Catherine's only ally is Sir Brandon FitzAlan... who is willing to risk his life to protect hers. While the handsome stranger's courage and wit soon capture her heart, his true allegiance and purpose is uncertain.

Brand is well used to the lies and shadows of court. Yet nothing prepares him for his sizzling attraction to innocent Catherine, or the deadly plot she is tangled in, for her father took a secret to his grave that could tear Catholic England apart. With one chance at salvation, Brand and Catherine begin a cross-country journey that reveals the shocking truth... and a burning passion that could save or destroy them both.

Set in during the reign of “Bloody Mary” Tudor, ONE FORBIDDEN KNIGHT tells the story of Lady Catherine Linwood, a favorite to the Queen and daughter of a beloved physician, and Sir Brandon Fitzallen, a solider who is determined to discover the reasons behind the mysterious death of Catherine’s father.

Catherine is an educated young woman, intelligent, compassionate, and incredibly loyal.  Brandon is equally intelligent, though is bitter and cynical due to his father’s rejection and hard life as a soldier.  When Catherine and Brandon are accused of plotting against the Queen, their love and loyalty stand firm in the face of conspiracy and distrust.

Overall, ONE FORBIDDEN KNIGHT is an entertaining read, but the pacing was off.  It felt very rushed all the way through.  Moreover, Catherine and Brandon’s love is of the “instant” variety, which is not my favorite since it comes across forced and unrealistic. I would have loved this story more if it had been another 100 pages longer.

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Deceived by Jess Michaels

October 16, 2015 Historical Erotica, Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Deceived by Jess MichaelsDeceived by Jess Michaels
Series: The Wicked Woodleys #2
Published by Jess Michaels on October 13, 2015
Genres: Historical Erotica, Historical Romance
Pages: 236
Format: eARC
Source: the Author
Goodreads
five-stars
Josie Westfall spent a lifetime feeling alone and bullied and an unfortunate incident involving her best friend’s brother, Evan, only made things worse. Still, when she and her mother are invited to the wedding he will be attending, they can’t exactly refuse. She hopes to avoid him, but instead they are thrown together and she is shocked to find that she actually begins to like the man she’s thought of as an enemy for years.

Evan has always felt terrible about what he said to Josie years before, but he’s never quite been able to make it up to her. When he tries, he discovers Josie may have a few secrets and some information about his missing sister. Now he must decide, should he betray her by trading on the unexpected attraction between them and discover what she knows? Or could the possibility of love be worth more than anything else?

Josie Westfall has loved Even Hartwell from the moment she laid eyes on him.  As children, they and their siblings played together.  At least until Even discovered older girls and a desire to impress them.  When Evan inadvertently humiliates Josie, his careless actions spark a decade of cold shoulders and withering looks and his subsequent attempts at apologies fall on deaf ears.  It isn’t until Josie and Evan are thrust together at his sister’s wedding that Evan realizes just how attractive Josie is and Josie acknowledges her feelings for Evan never went away.

Jess Michaels has done it again!  A brilliantly crafted love story that draws the reader into the lives of these regency ton, adding a frustrating mystery surrounding the disappearance of Evan’s sister Claire, and teaching life lessons we could all learn at some point or another.  In DECEIVED, Evan and Josie must learn to let go of their past mistakes and focus on forging a new future together, even when that future might not be the one they originally planned for themselves.

Josie is curious, compassionate, and fiercely loyal. Evan is charming, even when you want to hate him, and honorable.  He can’t allow himself to give into his brother’s scheme to force information about Claire’s whereabouts from Josie any sooner than he can resist the temptation to give into Josie’s seductive requests.

DECEIVED is the second in a series, but can be read as a stand-alone.  Pick up your copy today!

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Everything I Left Unsaid by Molly O’Keefe

October 13, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Everything I Left Unsaid by Molly O’KeefeEverything I Left Unsaid by Molly O'Keefe
Series: Everything I Left Unsaid #1
Published by Bantam on October 13, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
I didn’t think answering someone else’s cellphone would change my life. But the stranger with the low, deep voice on the other end of the line tempted me, awakened my body, set me on fire. He was looking for someone else. Instead he found me.

And I found a hot, secret world where I felt alive for the first time.

His name was Dylan, and, strangely, he made me feel safe. Desired. Compelled. Every dark thing he asked me to do, I did. Without question. I longed to meet him, but we were both keeping secrets. And mine were dangerous. If I took the first step, if I got closer to Dylan—emotionally, physically—then I wouldn’t be hiding anymore. I would be exposed, with nothing left to surrender but the truth. And my truth could hurt us both.

Tired and worn from years of systematic abuse – first from her mother and later her husband – Annie McKay sneaks out at 3am with little more than the clothes on her back and $3000 cash in her pocket.  She soon finds herself in a middle-of-nowhere trailer park and sets herself up as Layla.  Her neighbors keep to themselves and that’s just how Annie likes it.  Until she answers a cell phone stuffed in the cushions of the couch.  That’s when she hears Dylan’s voice and suddenly she’s got herself a job keeping an eye on the owner of another trailer two spots over.  But reconnaissance turns into flirting and flirting turns to lust.  Dylan opens Annie up to all sorts of new experiences she just didn’t get to see on her isolated little farm back in Oklahoma.  All from the other side of a cell phone.  For now.

Annie is a complex character.  Her father wasn’t around when she was a child and her bitter, mentally ill mother was emotionally abusive.  Annie’s husband stepped in and began to physically assault Annie too.  Somehow, Annie manages to retain her shredded innocent outlook on life and genuinely wants to help those around her, especially the fellow abuse-victim mother of four and the old man living close by her new trailer home.  But Annie’s no slouch and has a work ethic that keeps her moving and motivated long after others would quit.  It’s this part of her nature that has Annie re-creating herself into Layla, a brave, will-try-anything-once persona that leads her to flirt with Dylan, play voyeur in a strip club, and make pasta sauce for the murderer next door.

Dylan is harder to pin down.  He’s still something of a mystery since readers don’t get much insight into his half of this story.  He’s isolated himself on a mountaintop, but retains the dominant, boundary-pushing persona of his racing days.  I look forward to learning more about Dylan (hopefully) in the next book.

This first novel in a two-part duet does end on a cliffhanger, so be prepared!

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Spotlight: First Season/Bride to Be by Jane Ashford

October 12, 2015 Uncategorized 0

Spotlight: First Season/Bride to Be by Jane Ashford
Two classic Regency romances by beloved bestselling author Jane Ashford celebrate the adventures of a London Season

 

FIRST SEASON

Widowed Lady Anabel Wyndham was married right out of the schoolroom and has never before experienced the delights of a London Season. She’s dazzled by the attention of the fascinating Sir Charles Norbury, a man whose touch seems to melt her very soul, but a notorious rake. She’s drawn to handsome friend-of-the-family Christopher Hanford and the comfort and serenity he offers. But how does one choose between two such charming suitors? Anabel is finding that love is so much more dangerous the second time around.

 

BRIDE TO BE

Emily Crane is the toast of the ton—and she couldn’t find it more tedious. Until she encounters the darkly sensual stranger whose life she once saved and the London Season becomes infinitely more exciting. Recently returned from the wilds of South America, Lord Richard Sheldon has only contempt for tiresome London chits, but he finds himself stunningly intrigued by the dauntless Emily Crane. When the two become embroiled in a budding scandal and are forced into an engagement, they discover a passion more dangerous than any killer…

For your chance to win 3 copies of FIRST SEASON/BRIDE TO BE, click the giveaway link!


First Season Excerpt

 

“There you are,” said someone from the hall below. “They said you had gone upstairs.”

 

Anabel looked down to find Sir Charles Norbury gazing up at her. A tingling shock ran through her body, and the candle trembled a little, dripping wax.

 

“You have missed the first waltz,” he added, meeting her at the bottom of the staircase and taking the candlestick from her hand. He snuffed the flame between forefinger and thumb and set it aside. “And I came early especially to engage you for it.”

 

“I wanted to look in on the children.” As always, his presence overwhelmed her. He seemed to tower over her, yet his pale green eyes felt close and compelling. She found it hard to breathe.

 

“It is a country dance now, unfortunately. Mayn’t we wait outside here for the next and hope?” He smiled and reached for her hand to lead her across to a small empty anteroom.

 

Anabel knew she should say no, but her voice seemed to have died, and she went with him silently and allowed him to escort her to a sofa and sit beside her, his arm thrown along its back.

 

“You look exquisite tonight,” he said softly. “The loveliest woman at the ball.”

 

This outrageous compliment revived her. “What a plumper. There are dozens of prettier ones.”

 

“No.”

 

“Flatterer.” She smiled, but when she met his eyes, they were very serious.

 

“No,” he said again. “To me you are the most beautiful.” He held her gaze for a moment, then slowly bent forward and took possession of her lips, his arm tightening around her shoulders.

 

Anabel’s slight trembling increased, and her mind dissolved in confusion. She should pull away, part of it cried; this was terribly fast, and someone might come in at any moment. But another part urged her on, fascinated by Sir Charles’ attractions and filled with curiosity.

 

His kiss was very expert, and nothing at all like her deceased husband’s, Anabel’s only standard of comparison. His lips seemed to draw all strength out of her, leaving her limp and pliant, yet she felt disconnected from the expected sensual pleasure. He knew how to draw response from her body, clearly, but her heart and mind remained in turmoil.

 

Norbury, on the contrary, was in the grip of feelings stronger than any he had ever experienced, and for him the kiss confirmed a decision. This was the woman he wanted. Never had his passions been suffused with such emotion. Beyond thinking, he moved his free hand to Anabel’s knee and slid it upward caressingly, savoring the curve of her waist under the thin satin dress and cupping his fingers around her breast. She drew her breath in sharply.

 

A scuff of footsteps in the hall, followed by a scrap of conversation and a laugh, jerked Anabel upright. She pulled away from him only just in time to avoid being caught by two couples coming into the room. But it was obvious in the way that the newcomers stopped, smiled, and apologized that their appearance gave them away. Anabel rose and hurried from the room, Norbury behind her. Her cheeks were flaming, and she felt that she could not possibly face the crowd in the ballroom.

 

Book InformationJaneAshford(1)

Title: First Season/Bride to Be

Author: Jane Ashford

ISBN: 978-1492630944

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Imprint: Sourcebooks Casablanca

 

Author Bio

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S. Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.

 

Social Media

Website: http://www.janeashford.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jane-Ashford-154028944714495

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/842700.Jane_Ashford

 

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LApJrY

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1OwQYoY

iBooks: http://apple.co/1jf7ixV

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First Season/Bride to Be by Jane Ashford

October 9, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First Season/Bride to Be by Jane AshfordFirst Season/Bride to Be by Jane Ashford
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on October 6, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 512
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
two-half-stars
FIRST SEASON
Widowed Lady Anabel Wyndham was married right out of the schoolroom and has never before experienced the delights of a London Season. She's dazzled by the attention of the fascinating Sir Charles Norbury, a man whose touch seems to melt her very soul, but a notorious rake. She's drawn to handsome friend-of-the-family Christopher Hanford and the comfort and serenity he offers. But how does one choose between two such charming suitors? Anabel is finding that love is so much more dangerous the second time around.

BRIDE TO BE
Emily Crane is the toast of the ton-and she couldn't find it more tedious. Until she encounters the darkly sensual stranger whose life she once saved and the London Season becomes infinitely more exciting. Recently returned from the wilds of South America, Lord Richard Sheldon has only contempt for tiresome London chits, but he finds himself stunningly intrigued by the dauntless Emily Crane. When the two become embroiled in a budding scandal and are forced into an engagement, they discover a passion more dangerous than any killer...

FIRST SEASON

Lady Anabel Wyndham married straight out of the schoolroom in a match arranged by her parents.  She’s never been to London, never had a come out, but her husband died and she’s decided it’s time to take the children to the glittering streets of Town.  And, lucky for her, the family’s good friend Christopher Hanford is recently arrived too.

This is a variation on an insta-love romance – Anabel and Christopher have been friends for years, but while Christopher has always held deep affection for Anabel, she has only ever seen Christopher as a friend.  Until one moment (no spoilers) suddenly makes her realize she is actually in love with him.  For some people, the insta-love stories are sweet, but I do not care for them.  I don’t find insta-love realistic or compelling and frankly it didn’t make much sense within the narrative.  Moreover, Anabel was flat and almost spineless – she ignores her “beloved” children unless the moment suits her and allows herself to be kidnapped despite many opportunities for escape.  Christopher was a little better, though one must seriously question his sanity for pining after Anabel for so long without any hint his feelings were reciprocated.

I was far more interested in the story of Anabel’s cousin, Georgina, and would like to see more from this character instead.

BRIDE TO BE

Emily Crane has had a most unusual and unconventional upbringing.  The child of outcast, eccentric aristocrats, Emily is well-traveled, intelligent, and out-spoken.  And although she loves her artistic parents a great deal, she cannot help but wonder at the opportunities and stability found in London society.  But her life is not without excitement, such as the day she saved a young man from being drowned by some padfoots.  But she is beginning to wonder if this life is enough for her.

Emily is brought out in London by her socialite Aunt who wastes no time in schooling Emily in all the myriad rules, regulations, and expectations of the bon ton.  There, she meets many of the eccentric people she has encountered on her travels – a thief turned dancing master, a playmate turned physic charlatan, and the young man from the riverbank.  Or rather, Lord Richard Warrington as he is known in London, long-lost son and notorious rakehell.  Emily quickly puts together that someone is trying to kill Richard, but when she shares this news, he believes her mad as a hatter and annoying to boot.  Through a series of unlikely events, Emily and Richard find themselves forced into an arranged marriage.  It’s up to Emily to convince Richard someone is indeed out to kill him, or she won’t have a groom on her wedding day!

This novel was much more interesting than the other in this duplo-book, though still pretty far-fetched and predictable.  I probably would think less harshly of it if I had read this one first or on its own.

The overall rating of this book was significantly affected by FIRST SEASON.  Ultimately, if you enjoy insta-love novels, then borrow this book from your local library or a friend.  Otherwise, skip it.

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First Time with a Highlander by Gwyn Cready

October 6, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First Time with a Highlander by Gwyn CreadyFirst Time with a Highlander by Gywn Cready
Series: Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on October 6, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 417
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
She needs a man-but only for a night
What do you get when you imbibe centuries-old whiskey-besides a hangover the size of the Highlands? If you're twenty-first century ad exec Gerard Innes, you get swept back to 18th-century Edinburgh and into the bed of a gorgeous, fiery redhead. Gerard has only a foggy idea what he and the lady have been up to...but what he does remember draws him into the most dangerous and exhilarating campaign of his life.

Be careful what you wish for...
Serafina Seonag Fallon's scoundrel of a fiancé has left her with nothing, and she's determined to turn the tables. If she can come up with a ringer, she can claim the cargo he stole from her. But the dashing man she summons from the future demands more than a night, and Serafina finds it easier to command the seas under her feet than the crashing waves he unleashes in her heart.

Serafina Fallon’s no-good, cheating ex-fiancee stole what was left of her dowry and now Serafina is determined to get it back by stealing the ship’s cargo he purchased with her dowry money.  Summoning a man from the 21st century is no easy feat, but he may just be the key to pulling off her hare-brained scheme.  Smooth-talking creative exec Gerard Innes may not understand 18th-century Scottish customs, but his quick wit and charisma is just the thing Serafina needs when they find themselves trapped aboard her ex-fiancee’s shipping vessel.  Magic may have brought Serafina and Gerard together for a night, but it’s up to fate and love to seal their bond and keep them together forever.

Serafina is very progressive, perhaps due to her friendship with the witchy Undine.  She’s headstrong, but loyal, and deeply committed to getting back what’s rightfully hers.  Some scenes (particularly the one after Serafina first arrives in the captain’s cabin) made me uncomfortable; mainly because the subject matter made my skin crawl, but also because it was simply unbelievable!  I just don’t see any woman, much less an 18th century woman, willingly pull down her britches to allow some man she’s never met spank her.  Serafina just didn’t really do anything for me.  She’s missing something as a character, but I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is; that spark that turns a character from hum-drum to wow!

Gerard was a little different though, still missing the wow factor, but definitely a humorous character.  He is supposed to be a modern man and with that comes all the believes and pop culture references of the 21st century.  He adapted to being pulled through time remarkably well (a little too well, if I’m being honest) and his creative charisma and leadership skills allowed him to really thrive in this new land.

The romance between Gerard and Serafina is very sweet and their love scenes are quite mild.  The romance builds through their verbal chemistry – two characters with sharp wit who enjoy banter and barbs.

This is the second in a series, but FIRST TIME WITH THE HIGHLANDER can be read as a stand-alone and is a comical historical romance with a surprisingly well-developed 18th century world.

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Mr. Darcy’s Undoing by Abigail Reynolds

October 2, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Mr. Darcy’s Undoing by Abigail ReynoldsMr. Darcy's Undoing by Abigail Reynolds
Series: Pemberley Variation Series #6
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on October 1, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 334
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
three-half-stars
What could possibly make a proper gentleman come completely undone?
What if Elizabeth Bennet accepted the proposal of another before she met Mr. Darcy again? In Abigail Reynolds' bold and playful retelling of the Austen classic, a devastated Mr. Darcy must decide how far he is willing to go to win the woman he loves. Consumed by jealousy, he knows that winning her will throw them both into scandal and disgrace, but losing her is unbearable. Mr. Darcy is going to have to fight for his love, and his life. . .

A modern-day romance novel meets a classic favorite.  I have such a deep and abiding affection for the original Pride & Prejudice that I have stayed far, far away from variation novels and sequels.  I picked this up on a whim and actually enjoyed reading it very much.  Strict regency interpretationists will not enjoy this book as there are a few situations that would never have happened in the regency period, but for those readers who can put those notions aside or are looking for a spicier version of the beloved classic, then you may wish to check out MR. DARCY’S UNDOING.

In this variation, readers discover that Mr. Darcy has more than a few salacious thoughts about Miss Eliza Bennet and struggles to keep these thoughts and feelings in check with his infamous self control.  That control is strained further when, upon returning to Netherfield, Mr. Darcy discovers that Eliza is engaged to another man!

The premise was intriguing – Elizabeth Bennet engaged to someone besides Mr. Darcy!?  Inconceivable!  And although the engagement was short lived, the real joy of this novel comes from the repercussions of that decision.  How does one choice de-rail the original novel’s plot and how do our beloved characters still find happiness? The writing does an excellent job of mimicking Ms. Austen’s phrase and style, though the love scenes are more like those found in modern-day romance novels and would make Ms. Austen blush!

I, for one, quite enjoyed this variation and look forward to reading a few more novels in Ms. Reynold’s Pride and Prejudice Variation series.

 

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Escaping Reality by Lisa Renee Jones

September 29, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Escaping Reality by Lisa Renee JonesEscaping Reality by Lisa Renee Jones
Series: The Secret Life of Amy Bensen #1
Published by Gallery Books on June 17, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 337
Format: eBook
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
His touch spirals through me, warm and sweet, wicked and hot. I shouldn't trust him. I shouldn't tell him my secrets. But how do I not when he is the reason I breathe? He is what I need.

At the young age of eighteen, tragedy and a dark secret force Lara to flee all she has known and loved to start a new life. Now years later, with a new identity as Amy, she's finally dared to believe she is forgotten--even if she cannot forget. But just when she lets her guard down, the ghosts of her past are quick to punish her, forcing her back on the run.

On a plane, struggling to face the devastation of losing everything again and starting over, Amy meets Liam Stone, a darkly entrancing billionaire recluse, who is also a brilliant, and famous, prodigy architect. A man who knows what he wants and goes after it. And what he wants is Amy. Refusing to take "no" as an answer, he sweeps her into a passionate affair, pushing her to her erotic limits. He wants to possess her. He makes her want to be possessed. Liam demands everything from her, accepting nothing less. But what if she is too devastated by tragedy to know when he wants more than she should give?

At eighteen, Amy lost her entire family in a horrific fire.  Since that time, her life has been upended by her memory loss, painful blackouts accompanied by flashbacks of her previous life, and mysterious instructions stop whatever she is doing and leave town immediately.  She doesn’t know who exactly is sending her these instructions – only that he has a tattoo on his wrist and is referred to as her “handler.”  Because it turns out, the horrific fire was the result of an arson plot to kill her family thanks to some hush-hush dealings her famous archeologist father was involved in.  Those people are still after Amy, so when she gets a note telling her to go to the airport immediately, Amy picks up and is on her way to Denver.  En-route, she encounters Liam Stone, a recluse billionaire architect, who expresses immediate interest in Amy.  Is it safe?  Is he safe?  Or will Liam be the next in a line of victims?  Because everyone who has ever been close to Amy has died.  Is Liam and whatever they have together worth the risk?

This is the first in the “Secret Life of Amy Bensen” novels, though as I read, there were so many questions that I felt as if I was reading the second or third book in the series.  We don’t know anything about what happened to Amy’s family or why.  Amy doesn’t either, for that matter.  But it’s enough of an interesting premise that I wanted to keep reading.  But there’s a warning: This book ends on a cliffhanger!  We still don’t know why Amy is running, who this mysterious “handler” person is, or what happened to Amy’s family.  But we do get some information that begins to paint a picture of Amy’s backstory and I hope these plot threads will continue to weave together as the series progresses.

Amy suffers from blackouts and amnesia.  She doesn’t remember much of anything before her life became a long series of aliases and cities coordinated as strategic hiding places by her “handler.”  But what we can glean from Amy is that she is a brave, headstrong woman with a definite sense of what she is and is not willing to do.  Her survival skills are honed and she trusts her instincts.

Liam is a little…intense.  Money is not object to him, so he spends it frequently and generously on Amy, making sure she has everything she could possibly need in a new city and then some.  At first, this came across as sweet, then it started to become a little creepy and overbearing, before finally turning into freakishly controlling.  I’m not sure what to think of Liam, to tell you the truth.

I wouldn’t classify this as erotica (yet), but rather contemporary romance.  There are a few sex scenes in this novel, but they don’t overpower the main narrative nor are they terribly explicit.

This book will have you looking twice at every single character Amy encounters.  Friend or foe?  You tell me!  Can Amy even have friends?  Every character seems to be hiding something and when coupled with the general uncertainty of what happened to Amy and why she is always running, the paranoia ratchets up as the book progresses.  This made for a very interesting read since I was constantly wondering what was happening and if I could trust these characters.  I’m excited to continue reading the rest of this series!

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The Madness of Lord Westfall by Mia Marlowe

September 25, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Madness of Lord Westfall by Mia MarloweThe Madness of Lord Westfall by Mia Marlowe
Series: Order of the M.U.S.E.
Published by Entangled Publishing on September 21, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 248
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
He thought he knew madness... until he met her.

Pierce Langdon, Viscount Westfall is mad. Everyone knows it. He fell from a tree when he was a boy and woke to hear strange voices. When the voices grow stronger as he grows older, his family commits him to Bedlam. But what he hears are the thoughts of those around him-a gift to be used in service to the Order of the M.U.S.E. Until he falls again...this time for a totally unsuitable woman.

Lady Nora Claremont hides her heartbreak behind the facade of a carefree courtesan. Viscount Westfall is the most confusing man she's ever met. He seems to know exactly what she wants...and what she's thinking.

Which is a dangerous thing, because what Nora wants is Pierce. And what she's thinking could expose her as a traitor to the crown...

I am so very glad I gave this novel a try.  I tend to find paranormal romance cheesy (thank you, Twilight), but the back cover sounded interesting, so I wanted to give it a shot.  Great decision!  This novel is well-written and managed the very difficult task of pairing historical romance and paranormal romance in a seamless and engrossing fashion.  At first, the large cast of characters were problematic to grasp – which is the hero?  What is his/her talent?  How are those two connected again?  But after laying the necessary groundwork for the series, this novel re-focuses on the hero and heroine, Pierce and Nora.

Pierce has the ability to hear the thoughts of everyone around him.  His talent earned him a place in Bedlam, but he was rescued by a fellow peer who recognized his abilities for what they were and not the “madness” his title-envying relatives believed.  Pierce struggles to erect mental shields from the constant bombardment of voices and as a result is quiet, contemplative, and incredibly intuitive (even without using his gift).

Nora has no physic gifts, but rather uses her natural charisma and intelligence to make her way through life.  Cut off by her aristocratic family, Nora has transformed into the alluring and coveted “La Nora,” a courtesan of immense talent and beauty.

Pierce and Nora fulfill the gaping emotional hole left in their souls by the abandonment and rejection of their families.  With Nora, Pierce is able to see past his “faults,” concentrating instead on his love for Nora and achieving mental and emotional stability.  As a result, he is able to become far better at managing and utilizing his physic gifts.  Likewise, Nora is offered a new chance at love with Pierce, a man who accepts her for who she is regardless of her past and prior position.  Together, they create a loving bond and forge a life for themselves with their new family, the Order of the M.U.S.E.

Although this novel was the second in a series, it reads as a standalone with just a little necessary backstory provided in the beginning.  I thoroughly enjoyed THE MADNESS OF LORD WESTFALL and eagerly await the next installment.

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