Archive for Romance Book Reviews
Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis (Lucky Harbor Series)
Jill Shalvis is a big name in contemporary romance, and her Lucky Harbor series is one of the most popular out there. In Lucky in Love, the fourth book in the series, Shalvis brings us all the best things we love about the contemporary romance tales that she weaves – down-to-earth characters who you’ll care about set in a town that you’d want to live in too. If you’ve read any of the other books in the series, then you’ll be happy to return to the town of Lucky Harbor where the three earlier books (Simply Irresistible, The Sweetest Thing, and Head Over Heels) were set.
In Lucky in Love, we meet dedicated ER nurse Mallory Quinn. Mallory’s the quintessential good girl – she’s a devoted daughter and selflessly takes care of everyone around her. Everyone she’s dated has been staid and boring… and the good girl is now ready to take a risk with a bad boy. Enter Ty Garrison, the mysterious and hot new guy in town. He’s just passing through Lucky Harbor when he gets hit on the head during a storm. Mallory leaps to his rescue and he ends up staying in town just so the doctor can monitor his head injury. Ty’s a former Navy SEAL medic who’s still recovering from a leg injury, and bearing the scars of losing his team. He’s in no mood to get involved with anyone, and in any case, he’s not going to stay long. But Ty and Mallory have an undeniable chemistry, and soon enough, as romance beckons, Ty isn’t at all sure he wants to leave Lucky Harbor.
Although Lucky in Love is the fourth book in the contemporary romance series, there’s no need to have read the previous three to enjoy this book. While the first three books revolved around three sisters (and ideally should be read together), Lucky in Love is the start of a new trilogy within the series, with three new heroines. If you did read the previous books however, you’ll be thrilled to be able to catch a glimpse of the characters who’ve already won their happy ever after.
Shalvis handles Ty’s PTSD with great finesse, and her portrayal of Mallory’s response to it is spot on as well. And while Mallory could have turned out to be a bland goody-two-shoes, Shalvis makes her a winning contemporary romance heroine with the guts to take a risk and walk on the wild side with her eyes open, and in the process, find happiness. All in all, a wonderful book, and a must for contemporary romance fans!
Born of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League Series)
Best-selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon brings us back to the Ichidian universe with Born of Silence, the fifth installment in her fantasy romance book series, The League. Although the quality of the books in The League series has been somewhat inconsistent, Born of Silence is by far one of Kenyon’s best, featuring a tortured hero to rival fan favorite, Acheron (of the Dark Hunter series).
The hero, Darling Cruel (I know, I had to laugh at the name when I first read it several books back), has had a very hard time of it in this fantasy romance book. As the heir to the Caronese Empire, Darling should have had a wonderful childhood. But when his Uncle Arturo kills his father and usurps the throne, Darling is forced to endure years of abuse by his Uncle. At 28, he remains a minor, and under his Uncle’s rigid control. He’s also had to pretend to be gay in order to protect his mother and siblings.
But Darling also has a secret identity as mysterious masked fighter Kere in The League. [He’s also clearly not gay, and Kenyon does a great job of explaining the subterfuge.] As Kere, he’s been fighting alongside Resistance leader Zarya Starska – and having a secret affair with her. Kere and Zarya are in love, and they’ve been planning to marry, but when Zarya discovers Kere’s real identity, everything falls apart. Zarya has good reason to hate the governing family – it destroyed her family. When she finds out that Kere is actually the true heir to the government, she’s stunned. And when darling is captured by the Resistance, and tortured horribly, Darling nearly breaks. He vows to wrest back control of government – and kill every member of the Resistance. It’s up to Zarya to pull Darling back from the brink and bring back the lover she used to know.
I really enjoyed this book – more than I have any other Kenyon fantasy romance book since Acheron. As we know from Acheron, Kenyon has a real gift for creating tortured heroes. (Zarek – in Dance with the Devil – is another good example.) She does another great job with Darling. I haven’t sobbed as much since I read Acheron! Let you think I care only for Darling, a few words also about Zarya, who was a strong, likeable heroine, and a good match for Darling. Continuity between Born of Silence and the rest of the series is good, and Kenyon continues to keep the Ichidian universe both consistent and believable. Born of Silence was a strong showing by Kenyon, and I look forward to the next book in this excellent fantasy romance book series!
Karen Marie Moning is one of the world’s most successful fantasy romance book authors, and it is on the strength of that popularity that she’s been able to release a hardcover version of Into the Dreaming, a short story that originally appeared in 2002 as part of the Tapestry anthology. The same story was released in 2006 as a stand-alone short story… and now six years later, it’s making another appearance, this time in hardcover format.
Three times in 10 years for the same (or at least similar) material is quite a feat. In the publisher’s defense though, the 2012 hardcover edition does have some bonus material. Not quite redemption, but certainly some justification. The bonus material includes deleted scenes from Kiss of the Highlander, an alternate opening scene to The Dark Highlander, a proposal for an unpublished fantasy romance book, and correspondence between Moning and her readers (with typos included for authenticity!). Another reviewer thought that the book was similar to a writer’s blog in hardcover format – and I’d agree wholeheartedly. It’s a disjointed collection of interesting drabbles that would delight a fan, but which leaves a newcomer puzzled.
But I digress. The novella Into the Dreaming itself is the last part of the well-received Highlander fantasy romance book series. It also segues into the urban fantasy world of Moning’s Fever series. Aedan MacKinnon was taken from the Highlands of Scotland, and imprisoned and tortured for centuries in the Unseelie King’s kingdom before being turned loose as Vengeance, the Unseelie King’s messenger of death and destruction in the human world.
The Seelie Queen has had Jane Sillee dreaming of a Highlander (Aedan of course!) since she was a little girl. Jane doesn’t know who the mysterious man in her dreams is, but she does know he’s the perfect man. He protected her in her childhood, and as she grew into a woman, the devastatingly handsome man became her lover – and true love. She knows full that he’s only in her mind. He comes to her when she sleeps, and she’s been trying forever to exorcise him from her mind by featuring him in her as-yet-unpublished romance novels.
Then she receives a mysterious tapestry with the image of the Highlander, and is hurtled back in time to Scotland in the 15th century where she finally meets her dream man face-to-face. But something’s wrong – he’s completely confused and doesn’t know his name. He certainly doesn’t know who she is. Jane hears a mysterious voice telling her that she has a month to help him remember his love for her, or he’ll forever be lost to the Unseelie King.
Into the Dreaming certainly has many interesting premises for a fantasy romance book… but it suffers from the same problem that most novellas suffer from – there’s not a lot of room to expand on all the interesting elements as you would have in a full length book. Both Aedan and Jane are fascinating characters, and for the most part, well fleshed out. In all, Into the Dreaming is a great buy for fans of Moning’s fantasy romance book series (both Highlander and Fever), with plenty to keep them happy, but probably not the best introduction to Moning’s work.
Title: Lady Luck (Colorado Mountain Series)
Author: Kristen Ashley
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense
I’ve been getting lots of recommendations to read something by Kristen Ashley. Last evening, I finally caved, and tried Lady Luck. So what did I think? I know there are lots of fans out there, but to be honest, I thought it was kind of meh.
Lady Luck brings together Ty Walker and Lexie Berry. Ty’s been in prison for the last five years, sent down for a crime that he didn’t commit. In the five years inside, he’s thought only of vengeance against the men who framed him. When the book opens, Lexie’s waiting outside prison to pick up Ty. She’s there because a sleazy friend of her dead boyfriend called in a marker, and doesn’t know the first thing about Ty, or that his plan involves the two of them getting married and living as man and wife. Ty can’t believe his eyes when he see classy, sexy Lexie… but he doesn’t want to drag her down in his thirst for revenge, so he tries to keep it purely professional between them. Lexie’s had a tough life, but things seem to be looking up when she meets Ty, and they fall in love – in spite of themselves. But the couple will have to learn to trust each other so that they can battle corrupt cops and scheming cons before they have a chance at love and a happy life.
I can’t say that I was blown away by the plot, characters, or writing in this book. The plot wasn’t bad, even if it was somewhat predictable. Corrupt cops frame innocent man? Definitely seen that in a other romances. The writing was acceptable, though the detailed descriptions became a bit tedious after a while. I mean, I really don’t need to know every piece of furniture in Ty’s house, or be told exactly what Lexie’s wearing every day. Perhaps the redeeming quality was the characters, who were richly sketched, and nicely three-dimensional – even the supporting characters. One thing that really startled me was the dialogue. I’m no prude, but the language in all the conversations were very heavily (and in my view, unnecessarily) laden with expletives.
Perhaps it’s because it’s the third book in the Colorado Mountain Series, but I thought I was missing a lot of backstory, and therefore found the book somewhat disjointed and convoluted. Still, after a rough start, I confess I found myself drawn into Lexie and Ty’s story, and rooting for the hero and heroine. I can’t say that I loved the book… but I am willing to give another Kristen Ashley book a try. Maybe this time I’ll start with the first book in a series… and skip some of the descriptions.
Title: About that Night
Author: Julie James
Genre: Contemporary Romance
If you read my earlier blog post There’s Something About “Something About You”, you’ll already know that I’m a big fan of Julie James. About that Night is James’ third and latest addition to her FBI/US Attorney series, and it is, if anything, even better than Something About You and its successor A Lot Like Love.
If you’ve read A Lot Like Love, you won’t be a stranger to Kyle “The Twitter Terrorist” Rhodes, who made an appearance as a supporting character in that book. Kyle gets his own book with About that Night. Kyle and our heroine, Rylann Pierce, first met nine years ago at a college bar. Sparks flew, and there was some harmless flirtation and scintillating conversation. Kyle ended up walking Rylann home, and asking her out on a date the next day. Unfortunately, the date doesn’t take place due to a tragedy in Kyle’s family, and although Rylann is disappointed, she understands… but she’s never forgotten Kyle.
Nine years later, Kyle and Rylann meet again under somewhat inauspicious circumstances. Rylann’s moving home to Chicago to escape a failed relationship, and to take up a position as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA). Rylann’s boss (Cameron Lynde, see Something About You) decides to give her a nice easy case to get her feet wet, and sends her to deal with the Twitter Terrorist (a.k.a. Kyle). Kyle, the son of a billionaire, and a top executive at his father’s IT firm, had it all going for him, until he was dumped on Twitter by his model girlfriend… which led to the chain of events that gave him his unfortunate moniker. In one night of drunken stupidity, Kyle hacked into Twitter and took the site down for two days – earning the ire of Twitter users around the world, and worse still, the FBI. Once Kyle sobered up, he turned himself in, and was sentenced to 18 months at a maximum security prison. It’s a harsh sentence, but then the previous US Attorney wanted to make an example of Kyle. Fortunately, Kyle’s twin sister Jordan negotiated a reduction of his sentence to time served (see A Lot Like Love), and all Rylann has to do is to make sure the arrangement is approved by a Judge.
Of course Kyle is sucker punched when Rylann shows up in court – he’s never forgotten her. And when Rylann approaches for help on another case where he could be the star witness in a case against a corrupt law enforcement officer, Kyle finds it hard to say no, despite the antipathy he feels for Rylann’s office. More time together equals more sparks than nine years ago, but Rylann’s fighting the attraction tooth and nail – because well, Kyle’s her witness… and an ex-con bad boy!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading About that Night. It was full of awesome witty dialogue (why don’t I ever think of such clever things to say) and funny scenes. (Look out for the line about the cactus in Tijuana!) James has a real talent for writing laugh-out-loud lines, and I found myself smiling all evening and giggling uncontrollably periodically. James has also created a wonderful hero in Kyle. It would have been easy to portray him as a two-dimensional rich kid who accidentally falls foul of the law. But James instead creates a complex hero. Kyle is a brilliant IT geek, wealthy but down-to-earth, and willing to take responsibility for his actions. He’s also a good son and brother, a charismatic CEO and successful executive… and definitely a romantic and accomplished lover. (Kyle’s idea for his and Rylann’s first date… swoon.) Oh and did I mention that he looks like Sawyer from Lost?
If you’ve read any of James’ books, run out and get About that Night – it’s the best one she’s written. If you haven’t read any of James’ books, you don’t know what you’re missing out on… Give About that Night a try and I know you’ll fall in love with her writing!
Title: Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood)
Author: J.R. Ward
Genre: Paranormal Romance
J.R. Ward’s been promoting the heck out of Lover Reborn, her latest Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) book, and I’m happy to say that it’s living up to the hype. I’ve had Lover Reborn on my Amazon wish list since last Fall, and I can’t tell you how pleased I was to finally be able to read it when it came out last week. Ward’s books have sold millions of copies, and she has the luxury of legions of fans… but to her credit, she’s never allowed her success to affect the quality of her writing, and she continues to write compelling, complex, and wonderful books.
A word of warning to those who are new to Ward’s books, and to the BDB universe. If you haven’t read any of the nine earlier books, then Lover Reborn’s not where you should be starting because it pre-supposes a lot of knowledge of what’s happened in the past. There’s a lot of symbolism and sub-text that you’ll be missing if you start with this book. Instead, why not give the first book in the series, Dark Lover, a try instead. You won’t regret it.
But back to Lover Reborn. It’s a fabulous book that’s all about love, loss, and life coming full circle. This is really Tohr’s book, although there’s a whole lot going on at the same time. If you’ve been following the series, you’ll know that Tohr used to be the steadiest and most steadfast of the Brothers. Happily mated to Wellsie, he was the only one that Wrath trusted with his shellan Beth. He was also the one who adopted John Matthew back when he was a pre-trans. But all that changed when the Lessers killed Wellsie and his unborn son, and he disappeared, unable to deal with the grief and tragedy. When Lassiter returns Tohr to the Brothers, he’s still grieving but he takes solace in the knowledge that Wellsie and the baby have passed into the Fade (the vampire equivalent of Heaven). His anguish when Lassiter tells him that they’re actually trapped in Purgatory because he can’t let go is palpable, and his frustration when he’s told that he must learn to love another in order for them to move on is heartbreaking. Fortunately, there’s someone from Tohr’s past who comes into his life at the right moment – and gives him a second chance at love. Meanwhile, as Tohr is struggling to move on, Ward gives us a glimpse into John Matthew and Xhex’s lives. The wonderful thing about Ward is that she’s realistic about relationships not always working perfectly, and we get to see the two young lovers struggling with teething difficulties in their new Mating. I was also delighted to see a few key scenes between Qhuinn and Blay in this book. (Ward says that she’ll be putting out Qhuinn and Blay’s story in 2013, and I’m really looking forward to that!) .
But what was really fascinating in this book was how Ward moved away from scenes with the Scribe Virgin and the Lessers, and instead started to introduce a whole new bevy of characters, including a rival group of vampires led by Xcor (who famously kidnapped Payne in an earlier book). Xcor is in Caldwell to challenge Wrath for the Kingship, together with his second-in-command Throe and the mercenary “Band of Bastards”. Xcor and Throe are fascinating characters who somehow become acquainted with the Chosen Layla, and I can’t wait to see more of them in future books.
While many fans were unhappy with Tohr finally moving on from Wellsie, I think that she’s done great justice to Tohr’s story. (Surely he can’t be expected to grieve forever – the poor vampire’s been suffering over so many books!) I’m not ashamed to say I cried during many scenes, especially during Tohr’s interactions with John Matthew and the Brothers. (I wasn’t too taken with Tohr’s new mate personally, but I can see how she might appeal to Tohr.)
Lover Reborn is yet another winner from Ward, and is highly recommended!
If you like the Fifty Shades of Grey books and want to find similar books then you’re in luck! I’ve put together a list of books that are smoking hot and are sure to please. Some of them, like Fifty Shades of Grey, include elements like bondage, spanking and role playing. Overall, they cover a wide range of erotic subjects so you’re sure to find something you like. All of the books in the list got at least 4 out of 5 stars from readers at Amazon.
ROMANCE and EROTICA LOVERS! Please share your recommendations for other books similar to Fifty Shades of Grey in the Comments section below. Let’s try to put together the best list on the web for lovers of romance and erotica.
So let’s begin!
Power Play by Chellesie B Dancer
Sergio Davis needs to make partner in the ad firm before he turns thirty, and his last chance lies in getting a huge new account with an underwear magnate. He’s focused all his time and energy on this presentation, until he meets a beautiful woman in the parking garage.
Liz is an heiress, hugely successful in business, but not so successful in her relationships. She wants a man who finds her attractive for herself, not her money. She encounters an artistic and sexy man who takes control and that triggers a submissive reaction in her. Realizing he’s enamored with her without knowing who she is, she sets up a seduction in the conference room where he’s scheduled to make his presentation to her.
The attraction heightens, and Liz teases Sergio until he turns dominant. Once he discovers who she is, he plots his payback, controlling her body, her emotions, and her sexual pleasure. After a glorious night of sensational sex, the real control battle begins. Who will end up on top during the day, and during the night?
Power Play (Pleasure Playground) by Eliza Gayle
She wants the escape. He wants control. They both need love.
Jennifer Croft is at the peak of her career. As a bondage model she’s a star in the fetish world, ensuring herself a top spot in her profession. Only her fascination with pain play keeps the ghosts of her past at bay.
After tragedy sends Daegan McKenna to the South for a much needed change of pace, the last thing he expects to find is a closet submissive hiding in plain sight. She’s hot-tempered and in denial – a heady combination that brings out the dominant in him looking for a challenge. He’s already loved and lost more than one man should, but the haunted look in her eyes prompts him to make her an offer: he’ll indulge her darkest fantasies if she’ll agree to give up control.
But can they both play by the rules?
Embedded by Simone Sinna
New York journalist Stephanie Beauman goes undercover to investigate a corrupt business deal, taking a job as hostess for handsome businessman Gabriel de Romanos. Initially confident, and with groundskeeper Reno as her ally, she is drawn into a world of high-stakes business, wine, social excess, and murder. As she accompanies Gabriel on his world travels and he and his suave rival Miguel involve her in their business and sexual games, Stephanie is forced to take increasing risks. In the end she must choose between her story and her own desires.
Make Me, Sir by Cherise Sinclair
Her job is to make his life miserable. His job is to make her submit. Whose heart will surrender first?
Across the country, rebellious BDSM submissives are being systematically kidnapped, one from each club. When her friend falls prey to the slavers, FBI victim specialist Gabrielle volunteers to be bait in a club not yet hit: the Shadowlands.
She finds that being a bratty submissive comes naturally, especially when she gets to rebel against Marcus, the appallingly conservative Master of the trainees. But she soon discovers he’s not as stuffy as she’d thought. Or as mean. She’d expected punishment, even humiliation, but she sure never expected to fall in love with a damned lawyer.
Marcus loathes disobedient submissives. When the club owner insists he admit an incredibly bratty trainee, he’s furious. But as he comes to know Gabrielle he sees the alluring sweetness beneath the sass.
Unfortunately, Marcus isn’t the only one who believes the feisty redhead is a prize worth capturing. And in the world of the slaver, such treasure is worth a hefty fee.
Crash Into You by Roni Loren
Sometimes the past can bring you to your knees . . .
Brynn LeBreck’s younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat – a place called The Ranch where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, entry to The Ranch is by invitation only. And the one Master who can get her in happens to be from Brynn’s past.
Yes, Brynn knows first hand what attorney Reid Jamison is like once he strips off his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she he crushed her heart but now she needs his help. And he’s all too willing to engage. As their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate – and so does the danger. But their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.
Say My Name by Angie Daniels
St. Louis caterer Christina Holloway only dates men capable of providing her with the finer things in life. But despite putting her best foot forward, her relationships have all ended in disappointment. It isn’t until she attends her sister’s wedding that she begins to wonder if it’s time to reevaluate her choice in men. Her cousin, Tamara, issues her a challenge: if Christina lowers her standards and dates a man with a more humble career, Tamara will give Christina the priceless family heirloom she so craves.
From the moment she meets Dereon Sanders, Christina is attracted to the sexy bad boy in ways she can’t explain. With one touch, Dereon has the ability to make her forget who she is, and the material things that were once so important no longer seem to matter. What was supposed to have been only five dates develops into an erotic and insatiable relationship with a man who challenges everything she thought she wanted. Christina’s all set to prove to her family that she and Dereon are meant to be together. But there’s one problem – Dereon is hiding a dark secret. And uncovering the truth will require Christina to put all of her creative skills to use.
Long Lonely Nights by Marla Monroe
When his neighbor Tina begins having trouble with a stalker, Logan Henderson takes it upon himself to watch out for her. The problem is that he lusts after her. But Logan believes he is too rough of a lover for someone like her. So somehow, he has to keep her safe from not only the stalker, but from himself as well.
Tina Antonelli works a 9 to 5 job during the day and spies on hunky Logan at night. But when the man who attacked her a year ago returns to stalk her, she accepts Logan’s offer of help.
But which is more dangerous: Logan’s rough bedroom preferences or the stalker they’re hiding from?
If you know of any other Books Like Fifty Shades of Grey please feel free to submit your recommendations via the Comments section below!