Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid by Suzanne Enoch

July 28, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid by Suzanne EnochMad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid by Suzanne Enoch
Series: Scandalous Highlanders #3
Published by St Martin's Paperbacks on March 3, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
five-stars
The pursued becomes the pursuer. After years of having Rowena MacLawry, the youngest sister of his closest friend, tagging after him, all Lachlan MacTier wants to do is escape. But then Winnie runs off to London, determined to forget Lachlan in the swirl of her debutante Season.

When she returns three months later to prepare for her oldest brother's lavish Highlands wedding, Rowena is a changed woman. She's smothered her Scottish brogue, become an arbiter of the latest Paris and London fashions, and is in the company of several handsome young English aristocrats all vying for her favors.

Lach doesn't quite know what to make of this witty, sophisticated beauty who now has better things to do than follow him to a fishing pond. But the more determined she seems to be to prove that she has no need to fawn after a Scottish, kilt-wearing rogue who couldn't even be bothered to write her a single letter while she was away, the more interested he is in Winnie. Is she pretending to disdain him now, or has he truly lost his chance at a lady who is turning out to be far more lovely and interesting than he ever imagined?

Rowena MacLawry has had a crush on Lachlan MacTier since she was just a small girl and has been trying to catch his attention since she was old enough to run after him.  At eighteen and sick of being rejected and referred to as his “little sister” too many times to count, Rowena has had enough.  She packs her bags and travels to London determined to forget Lachlan and find a man who does want her.  When Rowena returns to the highlands a few months later with a group of friends from London – including a potential fiancee or two – Lachlan begins to see Rowena as the beautiful young woman she is instead of the little sister he’s been determined to label her.  Except now Rowena wants nothing to do with him!

I really, really enjoyed this book!  It’s so easy to sympathize with Rowena – we’ve all be in that situation at one point or another where we have a big crush on someone who doesn’t feel the same.  At least in MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS IN PLAID, Rowena gets a little revenge.  She’s spirited, intelligent, and the pride of the MacLawry clan.  Lachlan is a hulking highlander with an ego and attitude to match, but when he finally realizes what’s been in front of him all this time, he is absolutely devoted to winning Rowena’s heart.

The friction and banter between Rowena and Lachlan is so much fun to read and absolutely charming.  As expected from such a passionate pair, the love scenes are quite steamy and sensual – just what you would expect from a highland romance!  Ms. Enoch creates a wonderful cast of secondary characters (some with their own romance novels – check out the other two books in the series!), each of whom brings something new, different, and challenging to the plot.

Another fantastic story from the talented Ms. Enoch!  Pick up a copy today if you enjoy a fun, steamy romp through the highlands with a hero and heroine that simply can’t stop bantering with one another – unless they’re kissing of course!

 

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Bind Me Before You Go by Harper Kincaid

July 24, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, 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.

Bind Me Before You Go by Harper KincaidBind Me Before You Go by Harper Kincaid
Series: Serve #8
Published by Entangled Publishing on July 21, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 132
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
His heart is bound tighter than the bondage he craves...

Determined to put her past behind her, Cassidy Peyton moves to the Big Apple. But New York has a few dark secrets of its own, including Serve, an exclusive BDSM club. It's a place she isn't sure she's ready for, until she sees him watching her. Hot. Intent. Knowing. With eyes that leave her stomach tied in knots, because the loneliness he's trying to hide matches her own.

Security expert David Cavill has more secrets than any man should. Secrets that forever shut down any possibility of love, marriage, or family. Yet Cassidy draws him in, an intoxicating combination of strength, candor, and sensuality that David can't resist. But as their bond deepens, Cassidy must decide if she can love a man whose heart is bound tighter than the form of bondage he craves...

An easy afternoon read that is pure fantasy and sensual excitement, BIND ME BEFORE YOU GO is the eighth installment in the Serve series.  And also the shortest.  While this makes for a quick read on a lazy Saturday afternoon, the shortness of the novel(ella?) means that our hero and heroine – David and Cassidy – didn’t really get a chance to fully develop and shine.  I would have liked to see more exploration of their backstories and how their past relates to their personalities and present desires.

Regardless, this novel was still good.  David and Cassidy explore their desires together in the safe environment of the Serve BDSM club.  Though the novel does involve BDSM, it is light and instead focuses more on the emotional connection between David and Cassidy which in turns plays into their club scenes together.  Theirs is a student/teacher relationship as David teaches Cassidy about the intricacies and art of Shibari, a form of Japanese rope bondage.  David is very considerate of Cassidy, both physically and emotionally, which is precisely what sweet, people-pleasing Cassidy needed.

The plot was a little rushed and the couple’s love of the “insta-” variety, but I did enjoy the book and would pick up another by this author in the future.

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My Obsession by Cassie Ryan

July 21, 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.

My Obsession by Cassie RyanMy Obsession by Cassie Ryan
Series: Club Desire #1
Published by Random House on July 21, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 268
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars
Running from a troubled past, Sandra Barry spent years hiding out in New York City’s BDSM scene, finding satisfaction and even a sense of community as a sub at a large dungeon. But when a stalker joins the dungeon posing as a Dom, he crosses her personal boundaries, giving her no choice but to return home to Arizona. Seeking refuge once again in the kink lifestyle, Sandra meets a sexy new Dom whose tutelage drives her wild—although there’s something familiar about him she just can’t place.

As a teenager, Brent Weston was a nerd. Now he owns the hottest dungeon in Phoenix, enjoying the power and success he’s always craved. All that’s missing is the right woman to share it with. Then one day Sandra, his secret high school crush, walks into his club. She’s just as beautiful as he remembers. She’s also scared as hell. Brent has been waiting for this moment, and now that Sandra’s in his sights, he’ll do anything to protect her, pleasure her—and prove that he’s the only master worthy of her devotion.

On the run from an abusive Dom, Sandra Berry leaves her New York dungeon and travels back to her Arizona homeland in hopes of creating a fresh, new life for herself.  With a glowing letter of recommendation from her former dungeon master, she petitions for membership into the exclusive Club Desire.  There she meets Brent, the club owner and Dom whom Sandra feels an immediate and intense connection.  That attraction is mutual and soon Brent is pushing Sandra pleasurable boundaries while soothing away the fears instilled her previous, sadistic Dom.

If you read any BDSM novel, let it be MY OBSESSION!  This has everything I could ever hope for in a great BDSM erotica novel.  The sex is sensual, sure, but the focus is really on the “safe, sane, and consensual” motto of the BDSM lifestyle and the love scenes actually center around the sensations, emotions, and feelings the D/s relationship brings to Sandra and Brent’s life together.  A reader is given great insight into the thoughts of both Sandra and Brent and their growing relationship, but this doesn’t detract from the plot of the story.  In fact, there were times I felt like I was one of the voyeurs at Club Desire!  The scenes suck you in and you just can’t put this book down.  Well-written, great pace, a good cast of characters (whom I hope to see more of in future books), I finished this novel in just a few short hours and highly recommend you check it out too!

A fantastic erotica novel that I thoroughly enjoyed – this series has been placed on my automatic buy list!

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The Highlander’s Choice by Callie Hutton

July 17, 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.

The Highlander’s Choice by Callie HuttonThe Highlander's Choice by Callie Hutton
Series: Marriage Mart Mayhem #5
Published by Entangled Publishing on June 14, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 195
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
The Scottish Highlands, 1815

Lady Sybil Lacey is every inch an English woman. She's horrified her best friend is wedding a barbarian Scot. For aren't Scots naught but brutish, whiskey-swilling lechers? So to find herself secretly attracted to the tall and devastatingly handsome Scottish laird of Bedlay Castle is quite disconcerting...

Liam MacBride is convinced that English ladies are silly sassenachs who think of nothing but social events and clothes. So why is he intensely drawn to Lady Sybil? All they do is quarrel . . . until loathing turns into undeniable lust.

A tempestuous, fiery romance between an English lady and a Scottish laird cannot end well.

Miss Sybil Lacey is appalled that her best friend is going through with her arranged marriage to a big Scottish brute.  Scots are naught but large, hulking brawlers drunk on ale and lusting after any woman within reach.  She must accompany her friend to the highlands to offer comfort – and perhaps a quick getaway if her friend comes to her senses and wants to leave.  But Sybil is pleased is discover her friend’s fiancee is not so bad, even if the groom’s friend – Liam MacBride – teases her relentlessly.  Like Sybil, Liam has a warped view of the English – they’re nothing but spoiled, pampered princesses lazing about their houses and chasing the man with the largest fortune into matrimony.  When Liam and Sybil meet, both quickly realize they must put aside their pre-conceived ideas of what it means to be Scottish and English because the attraction between them is too intense to ignore.

Liam and Sybil bicker like two children on a playground – and flirt like children too!  This made for a very entertaining read, although just when I thought these two were finally starting to get over their prejudices, Liam’s mother arrives to stir up more trouble!  Sybil has a sharp wit and strong opinions regarding what she desires in a husband.  No arranged marriage for her!  Sybil refuses to settle for anything less than love and will not be bullied or pushed around by anyone.  Liam was a pleasant surprise as he was quite well read (a Jane Austen fan!), humbly intelligent, and yet still presented as a capable laird and businessman.  I particularly enjoyed Liam and Sybil’s interactions with Liam’s family.

There were a few things that bothered me though.  The biggest was that I didn’t quite understand why  Sybil developed her prejudices against the Scottish people.  It was very well established that Sybil comes from an unconventionally progressive family, so for her to believe that all Scotsmen were drunken, lusty brawlers seemed a little out of character.  I completely understood why Liam (and his clan) had their prejudices against the English, but I just didn’t understand Sybil’s.

That aside, I really enjoyed this installment of the Marriage Mayhem series.  I have not read the other books in the series, so I can say with some confidence that you are able to read this book as a standalone.  There are references made to Sybil’s other family members (whom I assume star in their own books), but enough context is provided that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

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The Gladiator’s Mistress by Jennifer D Bokal

July 14, 2015 Historical Fiction, 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.

The Gladiator’s Mistress by Jennifer D BokalThe Gladiator's Mistress by Jennifer D Bokal
Published by Montlake Romance on July 14, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Pages: 330
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
two-half-stars
Phaedra, a dutiful daughter of Rome’s most influential senator, has no choice but to marry a man chosen by her father. But a chance encounter with handsome gladiator Valens Secundus sends her pulse racing—and, for the first time, makes her wish she could choose her own fate. They make each other a promise: she’ll insist on having the right to select her next husband, and he’ll do everything within his power to win his freedom.

A gladiatorial champion, Valens has fought his way up from poverty to become a star in the arena. The only two things he craves are his freedom and the luscious Phaedra, both seemingly far out of reach. But four years after their fateful meeting, Phaedra returns to Rome and soon becomes a widow, and Valens answers to no one but himself. They’re finally free to explore their fiery passion—while evading a powerful and wealthy new suitor of Phaedra’s—until Valens must return to the arena one last time. And in order for Phaedra to control her own destiny and claim her love, Valens will need to survive the battle of his life.

I really cannot properly articulate the reasons, but I really struggled with this book.  It checks off a lot of my favorite things – the Roman period, romance, a strong willful heroine, a steadfast and strong hero.  And yet it took me days to finish this book and I felt relief when I finally finished it.  THE GLADIATOR’S MISTRESS  is not a bad book.  It really isn’t.  The historical detail blends seamlessly into the narrative and is quite realistic to the point where it reminded me a lot of HBO’S stellar tv series, “ROME”.  The plot had a good conflict, if a little lacking on subplots.  I like the hero and the heroine.  Something was missing and I really don’t know what it was.

Overall an okay read, but I would classify this novel as historical fiction instead of historical romance.

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A Sword for His Lady by Mary Wine

July 10, 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.

A Sword for His Lady by Mary WineA Sword for His Lady by Mary Wine
Series: Courtly Love #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on July 7, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
He'd defend her keep...

After proving himself on the field of battle, Ramon de Segrave is appointed to the Council of Barons by Richard the Lionheart. But instead of taking his most formidable warrior on his latest Crusade, the king assigns Ramon an even more dangerous task—woo and win the Lady of Thistle Keep.

If only she'd yield her heart...

Isabel of Camoys is a capable widow with no intention of surrendering her valuable estate. She's fought long and hard for her independence, and if the price is loneliness, then so be it. She will not yield... even if she does find the powerful knight's heated embrace impossible to ignore.

But when her land is threatened, Isabel reluctantly agrees to allow Ramon and his army to defend the keep—knowing that the price may very well be her heart.

Baron Ramon de Segrave has served his King, Richard the Lionheart, during his many crusades.  But his liege is not done with him.  The King needs more support for his crusades, but also must leave men he trusts to protect the borderlands of England.  The King instructs Ramon to travel to Thistle Keep where he will find the beautiful (and prosperous!) widow Lady Isabel of Camoys and marry the woman to secure not only her keep close to the Welsh border, but also the valuable flock of geese which provide feathers for almost all of the King’s archers.  Lady Isabel has run a successful estate since the death of her unwanted husband and she refuses to simply hand over the reigns to the upstart Baron who comes charging onto her land.

Isabel is head-strong, incredibly intelligent, and shrewd too.  She’s proven she can not only run a bustling estate populated largely by war-widowed women, but also pay her taxes solely in goose feathers while keeping a secret quarry from which to harvest stone and other materials.  This quality was very impressive, particularly for a woman in 12th century England.

Isabel and Ramon’s love develops slowly, but in a steady, believable fashion.  I really enjoyed the setting and the author stayed true to the time period.  There were times I bristled against Ramon’s (and other men’s) treatment of the women in the book, but that was simply the prevailing thought of the time and the author takes great care to frame Ramon’s treatment of women in a way that shows he is trying to do what he believes is best for them.  His heart is in the right place, even if the execution could use some work (by today’s standards, of course.  This is quite accurate for 12th century England).

Now, I have to say that the villain is very one-dimensional.  This is one of the few drawbacks to the novel.  The villain was evil simply for evil’s sake and accordingly, I didn’t think his character was developed as well as he could have been.  Thankfully, he’s rather minor to the rest of the story, so the parts of the novel that included this character were brief.

Overall, A SWORD FOR HIS LADY was an enjoyable read.  I especially liked the ending scenes and look forward to reading more books from this author and set in this time period.

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The Best of Both Rogues by Samantha Grace

July 7, 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 Best of Both Rogues by Samantha GraceThe Best of Both Rogues by Samantha Grace
Series: Rival Rouges #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on July 7, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
The worst thing Mr. Benjamin Hillary ever did was leave his bride-to-be on their wedding day.
The hardest thing he will ever have to do is watch her marry another man.


After two long years abroad, Ben finds Eve every bit as captivating as she was the first time he saw her, and he vows to set things right.

Lady Eve Thorne has a new man in her life, and Ben is nothing but trouble. She is no longer a starry-eyed young woman, and now that he's back, he can go hang for all she cares. At least that's what she keeps telling herself...

On the day of their wedding, Lady Eve Thorne was left abandoned at the altar by Benjamin Hillary.  In the throes of a panic attack, Ben ran from the church, out to the docks, and off to India.  Now, several years later has returned with the intent of reclaiming his bride.  Except she is engaged to another man!  Eve keeps telling herself that Ben is a good for nothing rogue and to stay strong, denying her feelings for him.  Because despite the pain and humiliation he caused, Eve never stopped loving Ben.  Ben picks up on her hesitancy at marrying her current beau and enters into a scheme with Eve’s fiancee to make Eve admit her true feelings for Ben and break off her current engagement.

I struggled with this novel.  The characters were okay – not brilliant, just okay.  Though I didn’t dislike them, I found them to be a little flat, particularly Ben and Eve’s new beau.  Eve wasn’t too bad.  She had quite an aggressive personality for the time period and didn’t put up with shenanigans from Ben and her beau.  But what really got to me was the lack of plot.  The synopsis I wrote above?  That’s essentially the whole novel, minus the HEA ending.  I spent long portions reading wondering when something exciting was going to happen.  Instead, it was a lot of back-and-forth jumping from Eve’s head to Ben’s head with the characters having essentially the same internal monologue the whole time.  The action finally started in the last quarter of the novel, but by then the book was almost over so it seemed very, very rushed.

To be clear, THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES is not a bad book.  I remained interested enough to keep reading, just not enough to rave about it.  I did enjoy Ben’s tenacity at convincing Eve to marry him and there were some laugh-out-loud parts with Ben and the beau working together with their match-breaking hijinks.

THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES is part of a series, but you do not need to read the other novels to fully enjoy this one.

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His Wicked Reputation by Madeline Hunter

July 3, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★½

His Wicked Reputation by Madeline HunterHis Wicked Reputation by historical romance, Madeline Hunter, mystery
Series: Wicked Trilogy #1
Published by Jove on March 3, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
two-half-stars
She was a sensible woman.
He was a man who could drive a woman senseless with desire.


Gareth Fitzallen is celebrated for four things: his handsome face, his notable charm, his aristocratic connections, and an ability to give the kind of pleasure that has women begging for more. Normally he bestows his talents on experienced, worldly women. But when he heads to Langdon’s End to restore a property he inherited—and to investigate a massive art theft—he lays plans to seduce a most unlikely lady.

Eva Russell lives a spinster’s life of precarious finances and limited dreams while clinging to her family’s old gentry status. She supports herself by copying paintings while she plots to marry her lovely sister to a well-established man. Everyone warns her of Gareth’s reputation, and advises her to lock her sister away. Only it is not her sister Gareth desires. One look, and she knows he is trouble. One kiss, however, proves she is no match for this master of seduction.

I love Madeline Hunter books – engaging characters, exciting plot, and just a little something extra that makes me sigh – but for some reason I just could not get into this book and struggled to finish it.  I can’t put my finger on what went wrong.  Eva Russell is an intelligent and talented young woman who pulled her family up from poverty by creating and selling masterful copies of famous artworks.  Gareth Fitzallen is the acknowledged bastard son of a powerful Duke and spends his time brokering major art deals.  Suspicious deaths and a massive collection of missing artwork provides a cozy mystery to throw at the artfully-inclined couple.

By rights, this should be an exciting, passionate story.  But something just falls flat.  The answer to the mystery is fairly obvious about three or four chapters before it is revealed, I didn’t really believe the “love” felt between Eva and Gareth, and thought that far too much time was spent on secondary characters that did not add much to the narrative.

Overall, still a decent read, if dragging in some parts.  I normally love Ms. Hunter’s books, so am going to chalk this one up to just a fluke.

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How to Marry a Royal Highlander by Vanessa Kelly

June 30, 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.

How to Marry a Royal Highlander by Vanessa KellyHow to Marry a Royal Highlander by Vanessa Kelly
Series: The Renegade Royals #4
Published by Zebra Books on June 30, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Illegitimate yet thoroughly irresistible, the Renegade Royals are leaving behind their careers as daring spies for the greatest adventure of all…

At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…

After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost…

Miss Eden Whitney is vivacious, confident, and able to charm even the sourest of elderly matrons.  She never lacks for a dance partner and can often be found in the midst of a circle of young men at parties, all of whom clamor for her attentions.  Until one scandal too many results in Edie forced to spend the rest of the season “rusticating” in Scotland with her brother-in-law’s friend, Alasdair Gilbride.  Alec is a charming rake who enjoys pushing all of Edie’s buttons and seeing her face light up with frustration and delight at their shared verbal banter.  The pair quickly realize they’ve been in love with each other for some time, but matters turn complicated when Alec reveals he’s technically been engaged for the past ten years!  To add fuel to the fire, when Edie and Alec reach the highlands, they must not only face Alec’s formidable family, but also the realization that someone is trying to kill them.

There are quite a few fantastic one-liners interspersed throughout and many parts had me quite literally laughing out loud as I read.  Edie and Alec match each other not only in passion and devotion, but also in their quick wit and repartee.  The plot was a little slow, but I really didn’t mind since this allowed the novel to focus more on Edie and Alec’s growing relationship and their individual emotions rather than a constant reaction to outside events.  However, with the exception of Edie’s mother, I thought some of the secondary characters were a little flat until right towards the end.  (I’m thinking specifically of Donatella, Fergus, and their mother.)  But putting that aside, I though the writing in this novel is absolutely superb!  Descriptions are vivid, the romantic plot engaging, and the emotions Ms. Kelly evokes are done so effortlessly.

This novel is part of a series.  While you don’t need to have read the other novels in the series to enjoy this one, I do think reading at least Eden’s sister’s novel, HOW TO PLAN A WEDDING FOR A ROYAL SPY, would be helpful as HOW TO MARRY A ROYAL HIGHLANDER makes several references to the previous book that might be more fully enjoyed and understood if you’ve read the prior novel.

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