Archive | June, 2014

Undercover Cops and Prophetic Dreams Make Dream Huntress by Michelle Sharp Fabulous Paranormal Suspense

30 Jun
Dream Huntress (Dream Seeker #1 - Jordan and Tyler) by Michelle Sharp (Entangled: Ignite, June 23, 2014)

Dream Huntress (Dream Seeker #1 – Jordan and Tyler) by Michelle Sharp (Entangled: Ignite, June 23, 2014)

I’m not actually sure that there is such a category as “paranormal suspense” but there should be. Mostly focusing on the romantic suspense storyline, but with distinct paranormal elements, Michelle Sharp‘s Dream Huntress would appeal to both lovers of solid romantic suspense as well as readers who love a dash of paranormal.

Jordan Delaney has jumped the gun by getting a job in a hick town’s stripper bar as a cocktail waitress a week ahead of schedule. An undercover narcotics cop in St. Louis, she witnessed two members of her team get gunned down attempting to apprehend members of the cartel pushing China White heroin. When her department agrees to again partner with the FBI, together they come up with the idea of getting her in the bar that’s a local supplier for a nearby college. Her long blond hair and body qualify her to wear the standard short shorts and bikini top and, with the club’s handsy son interested in her, Jordan is hoping she can crack the supply line wide open, and she’s not about to wait for the okay from her uptight FBI supervisor to organize a wire and backup.

A problem of being undercover for Jordan, though, is that she is plagued by the dreams she’s had since childhood – dreams of either murders to come or murders that have already happened. She’s used these dreams to help solve or prevent the crimes using the guise of her position, but since she has to live through them via the victim, it makes a tough assignment even harder, particularly when she again dreams of her family’s death, an incident which Jordan believes she could have stopped if she had only tried harder. When a local cowboy comes to her aid in the bar, taking her to the hospital after a patron blindsides her, Jordan is astonished at the wave of connection she feels to disgraced cop Tyler McGee. Hoping to minimize distractions while she’s focusing on work, she’s dismayed when he takes a job as head bouncer of the club. The potential to have a real relationship – something she’s managed to avoid all these years – is not what she needs right now.

Jordan’s waitressing “uniform” makes this one look like full coverage.

Tyler is first wowed by Jordan’s killer body and gorgeous face, but his initial assessment categorizing her as a blond bimbo waitress is blown out of the water the instant he’s subjected to her lethal wit. She’s a puzzle he’s desperate to figure out, particularly as she comes alive in his arms in a way he’s never experienced with another woman. Having allowed himself to get shunted off the force for his own purposes, Tyler is determined to find out what is really going on at the strip club, particularly as he’s sure it connects to a recent, very personal loss of his own. Keeping Jordan safe while uncovering her secrets is one of his top priorities, but Tyler might not be able to handle what she has to tell him.

I cannot say enough about Michelle Sharp’s outstanding debut novel! Her writing was laced with great attention to detail (the horror of Jordan’s furnished rental was particularly wonderful) and she wields a tight, excellent use of subplot with Tyler’s family loss and Jordan’s workplace tensions. There was a realistic heat between the couple, one that still was fueled by an extra connection perhaps brought about by Jordan’s paranormal abilities, which, while central to the plot, did not take up an inordinate amount of page space, making this novel slightly more suspense than paranormal. I loved the nice depth of Jordan’s FBI colleague who could have easily been a cardboard cutout but instead was a fully fleshed out person with his own motivations. While so many suspense (and paranormal) novels flag at the end, Sharp gave a fantastic resolution by revealing the true story behind the death of Jordan’s family and her strong connection to her father.

Since this book has the benefit of falling under Entangled Publishing’s $.99 early release price, I think it’s easy to sample this new author, who has clearly listed this novel as the first in her Dream Seeker series, so pick it up at that price while you can. To celebrate the release, there is also a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $50 gift card (!), so get on that as well. Michelle Sharp is an author I’ll be purchasing again, for sure.

Happy reading! 🙂

Queen of Wands Satisfies SciFi Romance Fans by Seriously Heating Up the Vacuum of Space

24 Jun

Queen of Wands (Sanctify #2 – Jenny and Mac) by Katee Robert (Entangled: Select, June 24, 2014)

I’ve complained before that good science fiction romance is rare, but I was so thrilled with Katee Robert’s Queen of Swords last month, that I cheerfully snapped up it’s prequel, The High Priestess (only $.99) and have been tapping my foot impatiently for the next book in the Sanctify series. Ta-da! I heartily recommend that you read both of them prior to enjoying Queen of Wands, the sequel, as the world-building and the character backstory help understand the twists and turns of this novel.

Jenny O’Kierna was walking chaos in Queen of Swords, great in a fight but always containing the complication was she started them. She loves her brother Boone and his soulmate, Ophelia, yet finds herself shocked at the domesticity and love they both radiate, particularly in regard to their infant daughter. To Jenny, who loves her freedom to hop in her ship and space to their nearest fun spot, that type of relationship feels like a trap, one she never wants to feel.

When Boone’s relatively new kingship of their home planet of Hansarda negate him rescuing a genius weapons inventor, Jenny, itching at her brother’s overprotectiveness, volunteers to go. She’s only slightly suspicious when Ophelia, a Diviner, consults her cards and with a dangerous smile, backs Jenny up. Refusing to ask what the future might hold for her, Jenny finds the genius, Mac Flannery, fighting off Sanctify’s henchmen (and damn effectively). She didn’t realize that geniuses were so muscled and good-looking but she ignores the resident spark between them and focuses on making him safe.

The High Priestess (Sanctify #.5 – Gerard and Marianna) by Katee Robert (Entangled: Select, March 15, 2012)

Mac has seen the video of Jenny O’Kierna, princess of Hansarda, and he’s impressed. She’s a wild card to say the least, but the crazy facade she adopts for the world is hiding something more, and he wants to strip it and see the real Jenny. Her killer body and unbridled sensuality have him wanting to strip a lot more, but Mac’s IQ is high for a reason, and he knows he has to get Jenny to admit there is more to what lies between them than just a quick roll in the hay. Refusing to have meaningless sex with her is difficult, but the prize is worth his discomfort. When Jenny ignores Mac’s suggestion to hole up in a prison planet and ends up in the high-security sex capital of the galaxy, they are both nervous that Sanctify will find them. But they couldn’t have predicted the chase and sacrifices they will both have to make in order to insure Hansarda’s and Mac’s safety, as well as what they need to do in order to give their love for each other a safe future.

Queen of Wands felt more cinematographic to me than its predecessor, with lots of spaceship launches and choreographed fight scenes. I’ll be honest, Jenny was hard for me to take in the first book and that held true for the first third or so of this one as well; her brittle exterior is so impossible to penetrate that it was only my strong belief in Mac’s intelligence (and Katee Robert’s writing) that had me working through my desire to slap her. That patience was rewarded as Mac did get under Jenny’s shell and had her sharing her emotions along with sharing her body, revealing a complex, empathetic woman fiercely loyal to her friends and family. With several secondary characters further developed, I’m eager to see what other stories will emerge from this series, as Robert has poised the political machinations in mid-“whaaa?” and I have to see where the plot goes from here.

Katee Robert’s Queen of Wands offers another installment in a rollicking space saga that’s bound to appeal to Battlestar Galactica and Firefly fans who prefer their spaceships fast, their aliens feisty, and their romance hot. Pick it up, already!

Happy reading! 🙂


Need to Lay in a Supply of Beach Reading? Some Fun Books Out Today…

24 Jun

Whether you’re looking for a romance that makes you laugh, makes you ‘walk the plank’, keeps you guessing, or stars your favorite paranormal, look no further. Select books have the single-title stories you crave, and the longer length you need to really get ‘lost’ in a great book. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books are coming next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, and like their Facebook page.
Today I’m happy to be featuring Select’s June releases:


Queen of Wands by Katee Robert

Available in Print and Digital!

Never in Mac Flannery’s wildest dreams did he imagine Jenny O’Keirna would be the
one sent for him. He sees beyond the mad grin the sexy princess of Hansarda
presents to the world, and that combination of vulnerability and wicked humor is a
siren call he can’t resist. But Sanctify is after them. On the run—and unable to keep
their hands off each other—Jenny and Mac devise an insane plan: kidnap the leader
of Sanctify, and stop this war once and for all. Unfortunately, they’ve just played
right into his hands…





Crimson Hearts by Heather McCollum
Special $0.99 Introductory Price!
Highland warrior Searc Munro’s dark, killing magic must never be known. But when his father’s life is threatened, Searc’s secret is revealed. When Elena Seymour’s lineage as the illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII is discovered, she runs for her life. Teaming up as exiles, Elena and Searc seek refuge in Edinburg. With a series of ritual killings haunting the city and a traitor attempting to assassinate Scotland’s regent, suspicion turns to Searc. Now the two must find a way to trust each other, despite their secrets, before it’s too late.



By Jove by Marissa Doyle
Special $0.99 Introductory Price!


Going back to graduate school to study ancient languages and mythology is a dream come true for Theodora Fairchild. Falling in love with Grant Proctor is an added bonus. But then Theo discovers that being chosen for the prestigious program has more to do with who she is than what she knows. When evil forces threaten Grant’s life in an effort to tear the two apart, Theo must rely on her wits and wisdom to save her true love and survive the semester.


Curse of the Phoenix Bundle by Rachel Firasek


Special $0.99 Introductory Price!

Book One: The Last Rising

Saving souls without any hope for her own redemption isn’t how Phoenix Ice imagined spending eternity. Fed up, she decides her next death will be her last. But when she sacrifices her own life for a sexy Texan in a catastrophic plane crash, she has no idea the consequences will be so great. When the mysterious Ice comes into Turner Alcott’s life, he knows she’s the one. If he wants to win her heart, Turner must teach Ice how to forgive herself, and prove that love is the ultimate sacrifice.
Book Two: The Last Awakening
Ex-soldier Greyson Meadows desperately wants to be freed from the nightmares and guilt that haunt him. Arabella’s been gifted her mortality and long-gone voodoo magic. She must save her next soul within a week without using magic, or she’ll lose her power forever. When Greyson is confronted by a waif of a woman who forces him to face the truth about his past, he runs fast and hard. Now one will have to give up everything so the other can have peace, but will love’s magic withstand the loss?
Book Three: The Last Beginning
Though she’s always hated being a phoenix, Sadie has to admit immortality has its advantages. She’s seen and done more in the last 150 years than she’d ever dreamed of, but she can’t get past the fact that Osiris has done nothing but manipulate her and her fellow phoenixes. Sun god Osiris is ashamed of his role as ruler of the Underworld, but unless he can figure out how to save Sadie, that’s exactly where she’s going to end up. Permanently. He’ll help her the only way he can—even if it means she’ll hate him forever.


Delicious Heat and Plenty of Romantic Suspense Fills Teri Anne Stanley’s Debut, Deadly Chemistry

23 Jun
Deadly Chemistry (Sex, Lies, and Science Geeks #1 - Mike and Laura) by Teri Anne Stanley (Entangled: Ignite, June 23, 2014)

Deadly Chemistry (Sex, Lies, and Science Geeks #1 – Mike and Laura) by Teri Anne Stanley (Entangled: Ignite, June 23, 2014)

A natural extension of the cultural phenomenon of not just tolerating but celebrating the nerd (understandable in an economy increasingly based on information and scientific development) is to see this trend turn up more frequently in romance novels, which reflect popular culture. Add to that mirroring the fact that a lot of writers were undoubtedly…ahhh…a bit bookish growing up, and you have a recipe for a kick butt portrayal of the sexy nerd.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to hear that new author Teri Anne Stanley might have also worn that moniker (her love of superheroes in her biography is a giveaway), as her debut book, Deadly Chemistry, is spot on, both in terms of its wonderful romance as well as its depiction of lovable brainiacs. Since this is the first in her Sex, Lies, and Science Geeks series, I am rubbing my hands gleefully together knowing that there are more books coming.

Mike Gibson has a pretty stressful life. A disgraced former cop, he is using his position as maintenance man at Tucker University to ferret out that institution’s connection to a new designer drug that’s hitting city streets. He wants to capture the drug dealer he let get away last time in favor of rescuing his younger brother who had joined the gang, and since that same brother is currently working in the science building of the university, Mike has a sinking feeling there’s a connection. That dread is the opposite of the feeling he gets when he spots Laura Kane, the gorgeous scientist whose innocuous-looking algae is possibly spreading addiction and violence. Mike’s gut, however, is telling him that the woman who feeds possum in a garbage can on the sly is not a drug dealer by any stretch of the imagination. While he knows he needs to clear his name and save his brother, this former cop wonders if what’s been missing from his life is Laura and the feeling of rightness he gets when she’s in his arms.

I love a smart heroine and a good lab environment. Thanks, Teri Anne Stanley!

I love a smart heroine and a good lab environment. Thanks, Teri Anne Stanley!

Scientist Laura Kane harbors a serious crush on the hunky maintenance guy who is related to her wonderful student lab assistant. She’s horrified at the discovery that the latest drug problem she’s heard on television could possibly be her research baby, but her stage 2 solution has been providing suspiciously low yields prior to its being processed into an innocuous pain reliever, and Laura knows that until that change occurs, it’s more addictive than heroin. As she spends more time with Mike, she sees that he’s not only sexy and funny, but an honorable man trying to do the right thing by redeeming his name and pulling his brothers together as a family, no matter how hard they are all fighting it. But Laura has seen in her own mother how love and family derails a career, and she’s determined to not let that happen to her, no matter how tender and hot Mike can be. When danger rears its head, Laura realizes that she might have only one chance to save her future – both her career and the man she loves.

The reason for the veracity of the lab environment in Deadly Chemistry is because the author (like so many romance novelists) is a scientist and her description of lab work and attachment to algae is definitely something anyone who has done research can attest to be 100% real. Since for me the best books are smart books, ones that teach me something or have me pondering an intellectual idea while I am also enjoying a great romance unfold, Teri Anne Stanley has been shunted into my “buy” pile. That she also can write a hot romance laced with plenty of humor puts lots of yummy icing on the romance cake (and let’s face it, we love icing!).

Considering that Entangled Publishing makes it very easy to try a new author with their terrific $.99 deal for new books, I’d run not walk and download Deadly Chemistry into your ebook reader ASAP to get that price. Stanley and Entangled are also hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway and participants can win a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 Paypal credit, so be sure to enter. Wouldn’t it be nice to offset your summer reading with this kind of windfall?

I’m overjoyed that Teri Anne Stanley has joined the romantic suspense scene and hope I don’t have to wait too long for the sequel to Deadly Chemistry.

Happy reading! 🙂

Tangled Up Duology Lives Up to Its Cosmo Red Hot Read Label

11 Jun

Tangled Up (containing Crossing the Line by Megan Hart and Burned by Sarah Morgan) (Harlequin, May 27, 2014)

I’m a big fan of Harlequin’s Cosmo Red Hot Reads line – these novellas seem to take the best contemporary romance authors on the market and deliver scorching, emotional stories for an incredibly affordable price.

Tangled Up follows this tradition by housing the work of two bestselling authors, Megan Hart and Sarah Morgan, who both managed to blow me away in the course of 224 pages. Luckily for readers, you can either purchase Tangled Up in trade paperback form for around $8.00 or, if you have an ereader, get each story individually for around $3, ladies choice.

Want to hear more? (The answer is: yes, you definitely do.)

Crossing the Line by Megan Hart

Crossing the Line by Megan Hart (Harlequin: Cosmo Red Hot Reads, May 27, 2014)

Caitlyn Fox has slogged away in her new job for about eight months without her sexy boss Jamison Wolfe noticing her. He’s a testy control freak who, granted, has grown an amazing business with his best friend from high school. Together they have managed the PR for some of the most important businessmen and women in the world but are expanding to celebrities who are, let’s face it, much messier. When Jamison’s business partner experiences pregnancy complications and has to be put on bed rest, Caite knows this is the time to not only show that she can handle the new clients she’s brought in, but to show Jamison she can handle him as well. In. Every. Way.

Jamison can barely remember the last time he dated, and, quite frankly, it was barely worth it. Worrying about choosing the wrong five star restaurant, flowers when she wanted chocolates, etc., took away the fun from sex with the high maintenance women he’s chosen in the past. Yet spending time managing three high profile reality TV stars with Caite, who makes it look effortless, has him realizing that not only is she not the least bit afraid of his wounded grizzly bear attitude but that she also is comfortable ordering him around. And he likes it.

When Caite’s pushiness involves her own pleasure, Jamison is stunned to realize it delivers his as well, but taking their powerful connection and games into the office results in Jamison being humiliated in front of the people he needs to look strongest for. Can he work through his shame and reclaim Caite or will he lose her to someone not afraid to unapologetically want what she has to give?

Ah, Megan Hart. This author doesn’t know how to write a bad book (and, I’ve discovered after meeting her in person at my local Lady Jane’s Salon Wilkes-Barre Scranton, she’s also an extremely funny person who wears sexy boots and sparkle fish-net tights!). The dynamic between Jamison and Caite is demanding but incredibly tender, and I appreciated how, in a world of BDSM romances featuring Catherine wheels and violet wands, this relationship didn’t cave to the usual trappings or even wear that label despite it’s obvious power exchange. Instead, Caite’s taking control offered Jamison the chance to let go in one area of his life and minister pleasure to the woman who had become everything to him. I adored them both and found my heart in my throat for the last quarter of the book when I worried they weren’t going to make it.

Burned by Sarah Morgan

Burned by Sarah Morgan (Harlequin: Cosmo Red Hot Reads, May 27, 2014)

Okay, I raved about Sarah Morgan’s preceding Cosmo Red Hot Read, Ripped, which starred a horrifying heroine wardrobe malfunction at a critical point in her ex’s wedding. Hayley Miller had experienced a shitty childhood and an unfortunate collection of boyfriends (including the winner getting married) so having the broody, Italian Nico Rossi spring into her life ended up delivering a fabulous happy ending. The second most awesome relationship in that book however was with Hayley’s sister, Rosie, the tough talking, martial arts practicing trainer, who worked for Hayley’s happiness even while she looked for love in all the wrong places herself.

In Burned, we find out why Rosie is so bad at choosing men. In the opening scene, Rosie is out with her boyfriend, Brian, at a nice London restaurant when she realizes he’s dumping her because she’s “not feminine.” It’s humiliating enough without it happening in public, especially after she realizes that the man just seated with his gorgeous date at the adjacent table is none other than martial artist and film star, Hunter Black, her first love who brutally abandoned her when she was eighteen. Running out of the restaurant results in Hunter having to come to her rescue and take her home, but even after Rosie’s sister Hayley unloads some home truths on his very broad shoulders, Rosie can at least curl up into a ball and tell herself she’ll never have to see him again.

Until he shows up at her work the next day. As her boss.

Ripped by Sarah Morgan (Harlequin: Cosmo Red Hot Reads, December 2, 2013) – Hayley Miller and Nico Rossi’s fabulous story.

Oy. It turns out the chemistry between them is even more incendiary than it was when she was just a kid and that’s saying something because it was smokin’ hot back then. Yet, Hunter is an adult now and Rosie has changed drastically from the clingy teen she really doesn’t blame him for leaving. When Hunter makes it clear that he still wants her, Rosie decides to have a weekend of nothing but sex and let the man who no one has ever measured up to in the bedroom show her what he’s got. The problem arises when she realizes that no one has ever measured up to him outside the bedroom either, and her pesky heart is going to be just as shattered when she walks away, because there is no way she can live through Hunter moving on one more time. That Hunter and her sister might have different ideas never even factors into her thoughts until she’s confronted with what could be a spectacular chance at happiness, if Rosie is brave enough to take it.

Sarah Morgan specializes in brooding heroes whose level of sexy could induce small seismic events and Hunter Black is no exception. Like Ripped, Burned is written entirely from Rosie’s perspective, something that usually pisses me off to no end, but in the hands of a master like Morgan, I just cheerfully turn the page. Rosie is a fun badass who has been made to feel terrible that her fragile exterior doesn’t match her tough, independent interior but Hunter has always loved her for exactly who she was. The two of them rediscovering the changes each has made as an adult, and realizing their connection is stronger than ever because of their growth, is both breathtakingly sexy as well as heart-wrenching, particularly because the hurt Rosie experienced may provide the ultimate obstacle when it comes to taking a chance on lasting love. I wished I could have seen a little more Nico, so I’m going to hope that Sarah Morgan considers a holiday novella or indie short story featuring both these wonderful women getting the wedding proposals I know are in their future!

Whether you purchase Tangled Up in paperback or the ebook versions of each novella, you won’t go wrong giving yourself the gift of two phenomenal stories by gifted authors.

Happy reading! 🙂


Burn For Me by Lauren Blakely Needs the Warning Label “Hot Firefighters Barely Contained Within”

9 Jun
Burn for Me (Fighting Fire #.5) by Lauren Blakely (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Burn for Me (Fighting Fire #.5 – Jamie and Smith) by Lauren Blakely (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

“I’ve had enough hot firefighters,” said no romance reader, ever.

There’s a reason for that. While your local fire station might abound in earnest, married volunteers fighting a middle aged sag (and we still admire them), in romance fiction, firefighters are 99% single, with rippling abs and need to use the wipers on the fire truck in order to swipe away the rain of panties as they progress to the nearest three-alarm burning building.

In Lauren Blakely’s first novel of her new Fighting Fire series, Burn for Me, not only do we have the incredibly hot Smith Grayson, firefighter and construction worker, but he happens to be the good friend of bar manager Jamie Lansing. Smith wants Jamie but knows they are very different people – she’s a wine and poetry type while he loves beer and dirty talking during sex. When they give into the mutual heat in the storeroom of Jamie’s bar, it’s wonder they don’t set all that alcohol on fire with the sparks between them. Smith is elated that Jamie seems to get off on his brand of sex and wants to start a relationship, but that’s where he hits a stumbling block.

Jamie likes Smith – really likes him – but she’s can’t walk through their small town without seeing one of his ex-girlfriends. Since her sister is barely recovering from a disastrous marriage with a serial cheater, Jamie is hesitant to be with someone who hasn’t been all that interested in a relationship so far. Yes, she wants him so much her teeth ache, but she finally hits upon the compromise that they could have a wild, no strings affair for a week and get each other out of their system.

The New York Firefighters calendar features the city’s finest in front of historical backdrops and a portion of the proceeds benefit the Burn Centers of New York.

Smith is a little hurt that Jamie doesn’t seem to believe he wants something more but he’s happy to use her suggestion of a week of sex to show her how great they can be together, providing she agrees to a real date at the end of it. She doesn’t seem to realize that the other women he’s dated didn’t work out because he’s had his eye on her all this time, but he’s willing to do whatever it takes to show her. When it becomes clear there isn’t a lot of trust on her part, Smith has to decide if he wants to walk away before he really gets hurt or take a chance to prove that he and Jamie are in fact a perfect fit.

I always love the “friends to lovers” trope and my first Lauren Blakely novel was no exception. Since this is a novella, there wasn’t a ton of real estate for her to develop the story, yet she drew compelling characters with a conflict I was really worried they weren’t going to overcome. I did wonder about a couple of points. Smith wasn’t a manwhore like Jamie’s brother-in-law, he was a serial dater, so I didn’t really understanding the cheating fear, it seemed like she should be more worried that he would move on to someone else quickly. My impression was also that they lived in a small town, yet there was zero worry about people seeing them together. Considering how much kissing and sexy shenanigans they got up to around town and on their “date,” I really had to wonder that both of them didn’t receive a decent amount of interest from their friends and acquaintances in that time. Hmmm.

This novella was an excellent setup for the next installment in the series, which will feature Jamie’s hot boss Becker and her best friend, Megan, who is moving home after a really horrible relationship. I’m looking forward to reading it based on how much I enjoyed Burn for Me. Another great point to note (besides Entangled’s great $.99 intro pricing for new books) is that Lauren Blakely is having a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 Victoria’s Secret gift card and 10% of the proceeds from Burn for Me will benefit the National Volunteer Firefighter Support Fund, a charity that provides financial relief for first responders when they are the ones being affected by a federally declared disaster. Yet another reason to enjoy this novel – you’re actually helping others while enjoying firefighter sexy times. Life is good.

Grab yourself a tall, cold glass of water and be ready to put out the fire that Burn for Me will start. Happy reading! 🙂

The Wedding Dare Series Delivers Hot Groomsmen, Beautiful Bridesmaids and Scorching Sensuality Proving Multi-Author Series Have a Happily Ever After

9 Jun
Dare to Resist (Wedding Dare #.5 - Kady and Colton) by Laura Kaye (Entangled Brazen, May 12, 2014)

Dare to Resist (Wedding Dare #.5 – Kady and Colton) by Laura Kaye (Entangled Brazen, May 12, 2014)

It’s hard not to get really worried when a publisher puts together a series using multiple authors. I’ve seen it used successfully only a handful of times (the Harlequin/Mills & Boon Notorious Wolfes series comes to mind) but mostly it becomes a “who writes it better” comparison with some authors lacking.

Leave it to the editors at Entangled’s Brazen line – a group who fortunately employ a stable of authors who comprise “who’s who” in the field of contemporary romance – to harness the power of writers like Laura Kaye, Jen McLaughlin (aka Diane Alberts), Tessa Bailey, Katee Robert and Samanthe Beck in order to deliver a uniformly phenomenal series, Wedding Dare, that everyone should run out and buy ASAP.

Another brilliant move was releasing the prequel, Dare to Resist by Laura Kaye (which I told everyone to buy after reading it a few weeks ago) to set the stage of a couple falling in love and preparing to gather their friends and family to have a wedding. The whipsmart Kady and dominant Colton found their happily ever after competing for a military contract. Having known each other for years, Colton wasn’t about to waste time before making Kady his own. With four bridesmaids and four groomsmen in tow, the happy couple has a week of activities leading up to the wedding planned at the Colorado resort that makes for the perfect romantic setting. When libidos run high at the bachelorette party it’s not long before the lovely women in question begin betting each other that they can bag a groomsman by the end of the week, with a few of them choosing the lucky man in question from across the room. But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

 Falling for the Groomsman by Jen McLaughlin/Diane Alberts

Falling for the Groomsmen (Wedding Dare #1 - Christine and Tyler) by Jen McLaughlin/Diane Alberts (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Falling for the Groomsmen (Wedding Dare #1 – Christine and Tyler) by Jen McLaughlin/Diane Alberts (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Christine Forsythe, tough investigative journalist, has been Kady Dresco’s best friend forever, and she’s thrilled to see one of the people she loves the most find the forever brand of happiness, particularly with Colton, who was Kady’s crush growing up. For years the two were driven apart by some particularly hot hanky-panky that Colton initiated and then fled from, and Christine knows exactly what that feels like – she lost her virginity in the hallway of a Mexican hotel with Kady’s hot brother Tyler.

That he promptly left her after apologizing and looking horrified, never speaking to her again except in the barest of social contact, humiliated and angered her, but she’s thinking that she might be able to get a little payback eight years down the road based on how Tyler keeps sniffing around. The man is smoking hot, and Christine can’t keep her hands (damn them!) off him, no matter how bad an idea this seems. Tyler is a sure bet not to be looking for a relationship, as this ER doctor takes months of leave to do his Doctor Without Borders work all over the globe, so he might the perfect participant for her naughty to-do list. Christine is using Kady’s wedding as the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and start fresh in her life – new job, new state to live in, and new sexual experiences are all on her agenda, albeit a secret agenda she’s not currently sharing.

Tyler Dresco has committed to head up the ER of a prestigious hospital in the Pacific Northwest for a year before giving in to his wanderlust, but it’s lust of a different kind he’s feeling upon setting eyes again on his sister’s smoking hot friend, Christine. He still winces when he thinks of his colossal dick move of comforting the young girl who was still dealing with the recent loss of her parents, but having sex with Christine was all-consuming. Yes, he panicked when he realized he had taken her virginity that night and he has no excuse for his behavior, but what he’s always chalked up to the lust in a moment is disproven when he realizes that Christine still makes him lose control. When he catches wind of the fact that the bridesmaids are looking for a hookup, Tyler plans on making sure that she experiments with no one but him. But when the question arises of whether Christine has been playing an elaborate game of payback or if what between them is real, Tyler doesn’t know if he can bring himself to give up the woman in whose arms he has finally found a home.

Temporarily Yours (Shillings Agency #1 - Cooper and Kayla) by Jen McLaughlin (Entangled Brazen, February 3, 2013)

Temporarily Yours (Shillings Agency #1 – Cooper and Kayla) by Jen McLaughlin/Diane Alberts (Entangled Brazen, February 3, 2013)

In Falling for the Groomsman, we have classic Diane Alberts (Jen McLaughlin’s contemporary romance pseudonym) who always writes her heroes and heroines with a decent amount of emotional baggage to overcome. Her characters are intensely likeable, which is why I read her work, and Christine and Tyler are no exception. There is no question that Tyler was a supreme coward (and super dickish) for the way he reacted all those years ago with Christine, but having a chance to finally own it and move forward to get to know her better as the incredible woman she is now shows how he has grown as well. I loved that Alberts has tied this book to her fantastic first novel in her Shillings Agency series, Temporarily Yours, as Christine is the sister to the former Marine hero of that novel; Christine’s move to Maine is to be near her brother who has finally returned home and gotten a job with the Shillings security company. Let me also say that I had the pleasure of meeting Jen at my local chapter of Lady Jane’s Salon (a romance reading series around the country) and she’s as funny and nice as you’d imagine based on her terrific novels.

Baiting the Maid of Honor by Tessa Bailey

Baiting the Maid of Honor (Wedding Dare #2 - Reed and Julie) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Baiting the Maid of Honor (Wedding Dare #2 – Reed and Julie) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

God, Tessa Bailey has yet to write the book that doesn’t blow me out of the water and this second installment in the Wedding Dare series is no exception. I totally jones for her brand of dark, dark hero and the women they fall for, who usually are their polar opposites.

In Baiting the Maid of Honor, Julie Piper is the perky blonde sorority sister who has been given the maid of honor post since that’s her role in life – she’s the one everyone counts on, who organizes activities and puts herself dead last while taking care of other people’s needs. Her friends love her but her family still hasn’t gotten over the tragic accident that stole Julie’s older sister, a paragon whose memory Julie knows she will never live up to in their eyes. Since she loved her sister, too, she’s never going to stop trying.

Reed Lawson can’t believe that he’s actually at Colton’s wedding. This SWAT officer is a long way from Atlanta and only for one of his best friends would he put up with donning a suit and making small talk over champagne. The situation and people remind him how far he’s come from a kid escaping his abusive home in a poor Tennessee town, but considering how much Colton and their friends Reed and Brock contributed to helping him see what he could become, the least he can do is be here. One look at the blond, upper-class Southern belle who is the maid of honor and Reed cannot keep his hands off her or his dirty mouth silent, particularly after he realizes that this stunner hides a dirty girl under that polished debutante surface. But while she’s not his usual one-night-stand type, he knows he’s not her usual type of bedmate either – and that he can never give her the affection and emotional intimacy that she needs. When the thought of hurting her proves just as painful as walking away, Reed is forced to face a world where he has to fight for his future or live in the darkness that is a world without Julie.

Asking for Trouble (Line of Duty #4 - Hayden and Brent) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, November 25, 2013)

Asking for Trouble (Line of Duty #4 – Hayden and Brent) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, November 25, 2013) – Brent is one of Bailey’s ultimate dirty talkers!!

Oh. My. God. No one does the dark, dirty-talking hero like Tessa Bailey (as any reader of her amazing Line of Duty series knows). Reed is exactly the tattooed bad boy who is easy to fall for. Bailey’s proven formula is shoving emotionally bereft men into the vortex of a heroine who suddenly has them craving more. That cracking sound is the ice under the feet giving way as they take the plunge into a honest-to-goodness relationship in which they love this woman so all-consumingly that they will do whatever it takes to insure her happiness and well-being. Julie is a fantastic character – the friend everyone takes for granted – and that Reed sees how she is not taking care of herself or getting what she needs in return makes you root for him to get his shit together and take a chance on love. I’m hoping that she might develop Reed’s Atlanta SWAT office into other books, as I was super impressed with her pitch-perfect Southern voice. It was sexy as hell coming out of both Reed and Julie’s mouths and I want more! 🙂

Seducing the Bridesmaid by Katee Robert

Seducing the Bridesmaid (Wedding Dare #3 - Brock and Regan) by Katee Robert (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Seducing the Bridesmaid (Wedding Dare #3 – Brock and Regan) by Katee Robert (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Katee Robert just continues to impress me – her Come Undone and Out of Uniform series are excellent and her recent foray into science fiction romance has proven her versatility as an author. With Seducing the Bridesmaid, Robert demonstrates how she’s able to mine emotions in her characters, with the result being deep, three-dimensional people who you’re startled when you lift your head to discover they aren’t actually in the room with you.

It’s particularly impressive in the two characters who are her hero and heroine. Regan Wakefield is a gorgeous, assertive headhunter who is quite the ball breaker, owning her sexuality like she wears her stiletto heels. She’s got a personal plan that’s in countdown mode since her soriority sister Kady announced her wedding date, and the best man, CEO Logan McCade, hits all Regan’s major points. Unfortunately she can’t seem to get rid of the other groomsman, Brock McNeil, whose gorgeous face and body house a lack of ambition in this silver spoon holding playboy.

Brock is not happy that the gorgeous Regan is unwilling to give him the time of day and he wants to shatter the control she wears like one of her designer dresses. Proving to Regan that he sees her beneath the facade means revealing that there is more to him than his last name and the work he’s kept off the business world’s radar. That she has set her sights on Logan, who is too much like Brock’s perfect older brother, sticks in his craw, but he wants her to want him – the real Brock – despite his hangups. That his insecurities might drive away the one woman he’s wanted for more than a few nights means that Brock has some reevaluation to do, particularly when it becomes obvious that he’s going to have to finally go after something after a lifetime of taking the easy road.

In Bed with Mr. Wrong (Out of Uniform #1 – Ryan and Brianne) by Katee Robert (Entangled Brazen, January 13, 2014)

Regan could have easily been bitchy and Brock a shallow manwhore, but Robert’s skillful writing shows Regan as strong but misguided and Brock as suffering at the hands of his father as never living up to expectations. There is a lot of personal accountability to be owned for each of them, with Brock having to do more growing than Regan, as she at least doesn’t hesitate to face up to her mistakes and misperceptions. Her fear of the outdoors provides a wonderful injection of humor at key points in the book, and you’ll never look the same way at a squirrel again! I adored the epilogue (I think it’s my favorite out of all of the novels, even though each one is perfectly suited for its couple) and can confidently say that if you enjoy this novel (and you will) you need to check out Robert’s other books as they maintain a similar high standard.

Best Man with Benefits by Samanthe Beck

Best Man with Benefits (Wedding Dare #4 - Logan and Sophie) by Samanthe Beck (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Best Man with Benefits (Wedding Dare #4 – Logan and Sophie) by Samanthe Beck (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

I’ve loved Samanthe Beck since reading her smoking hot McCade Brothers series, so I was elated to discover that the hero of this Wedding Dare novel was none other than the elusive Logan McCade, the driven, outdoorsy CEO who provides a distinct counterpoint to his cop and Marine brothers.

As the college roommate of the groom, Logan has been given the best man role, one he’s happy to take on despite his outdoor gear company taking up 25 hours of his day. On the cusp of a major merger, he’s getting constant calls and emails, distractions which make it hard to fulfill his role for the week of wedding activities, but it’s friends first in Logan’s priorities. When Colton asks him to keep an eye on his shy sister Sophie, Logan remembers the sweet girl from their college days and is happy to volunteer. One look at the shy siren with big brown eyes and dangerous curves and Logan discovers that major parts of his anatomy are volunteering to assist and he doesn’t think Colton would approve.

That doesn’t stop him from sampling everything Sophie has to offer. Watching this young woman bravely fight through her shyness as she tries to reclaim a confidence eroded by years of body shaming from her family and peers is both a struggle and a joy to watch. Logan wants her to see herself as the sexy woman who makes his heart thunder. But just as they begin to make progress – and as Logan confronts the painful reality that he needs to change his corporate structure so he can spend more time with his family and with Sophie – it all threatens to fall apart when Sophie discovers that she’s been an assignment all along.

Lover Undercover (McCade Brothers #1 – Trevor and Kylie) by Samanthe Beck (Entangled Brazen, April 2013)

Sophie’s character is painfully shy yet you’d have to be born without a heart not to root for her as she attempts to reclaim her voice and make personal and professional changes that will benefit her. Logan is exactly what she needs and you understand why he decides not to tell her that Colton asked him to spend time with her even as you see the ax starting to fall. Logan is total sweetie (those McCades! *fans self*) who demands that Sophie take ownership for her personal and sexual desires, and who – unlike every other male in this series – understands the emotional foundation of a relationship needs to be based on trust, trust he demands from her even when he’s worried she can’t work through her issues and give it to him. Shout out for Beck doing such a phenomenal job on this novel’s epilogue as it manages to bring together the closure for all five books in the series in an amazing way. I was alternately choking up and grinning like a loon as I read those final pages of Logan’s proposal!

Honestly, this whole series has knocked my socks off, particularly as it manages to include almost every one of my favorite contemporary authors (Tonya Burrows and Jill Shalvis are the only two of my writing heroes missing). Considering the fantastic Entangled tradition of the $.99 price for new releases, fans are going to be able to purchase all five novels – 988 pages exactly – for under $5.00, less than a brand new trade paperback at your local bookstore that’s a third of the length (and probably half the quality of the writing contained in this series). It’s irrefutable math, people.

Many, many thanks to not only the above wonderful authors but the visionary editors at Entangled for bringing such an amazing group of writers together around a terrific concept. I hope this is not the last series they assemble as this one will undoubtably build even more of a fan base around these talented women.

Happy reading! 🙂


Audra North Adds To Her Excellent Stanton Family Novellas with Healing Her Heart

1 Jun

Healing Her Heart (Stanton Family Novella #3 – Greg and Carrie) by Audra North (Entangled: Edge, May 27, 2014)

I really adore a well done novella, preferably one that manages to pack an emotional punch, preferably so effectively that I feel like I’ve read a full-length book upon finishing the last page. If you feel the same, than look no further than contemporary romance writer, Audra North, and her trifecta of Stanton Family novellas.

Having fallen for her writing (hard) upon reading, One Night In Santiago, I quickly found the driven but loving Stanton family to be pretty irresistible. Falling for the CEO continued the trend, so I was pretty much panting to get my hands on Healing Her Heart.

Healing Her Heart focuses on the oldest Stanton – hard-working cardiac surgeon Greg Stanton – who finds himself confronted by death at every turn, to the point where he now is suffering anxiety attacks and exhibiting mild PTSD symptoms. The only person who brings him out of his panic is Carrie, a blond beauty who runs the local assisted living center.

This nurse administrator is warm and caring, and Greg thinks that time with her might be exactly what the doctor ordered. With his schedule he has no room in his life for a relationship, prompting Greg to make an executive decision and take a week off to convince Carrie that a fling fitting into that time period – nothing more or less – would help them both work through the overwhelming attraction they feel for one another. In order to have the ultimate proximity to do his seducing, Greg agrees to help Carrie out with her short-staffed facility as a volunteer.

Falling for the CEO (Stanton Family Novella #1 – Andrew and Meredith) by Audra North (Entangled: Edge, 2013)

While there is zero doubt in Carrie’s mind that she wants to take the sexy doctor up on his all-too-enticing offer, reservations exist. Carrie had a scarring experience with her ex-fiancee, a man who betrayed her trust and used her for his own family power play before abandoning her the day before their wedding…via email. She’s actually relieved at Greg’s caveat of only the one week, but it’s only a couple of days before she’s feeling a lot more than she bargained for. When she begins to suspect that Greg might be using her as crutch to help with his untreated anxiety, that bad taste in her mouth is the feeling that she is once again a means to an end – only this time, she might actually love the man using her. It’s going to take all the many years of wisdom found in the funny, wise residents of her facility to help Carrie see something freely given is different from something taken.

One Night in Santiago (Stanton Family #2 – Bruno and Lily) by Audra North (Entangled: Edge, December 2013)

I’ll admit that the uber-sexy Bruno in One Night in Santiago is hands down my favorite Stanton Family hero, but Greg is no slouch and I love the members of this brilliant, hard-working family who clearly share a strong love for their siblings. While Carrie is horribly jaded when it comes to men, she is a warm, giving person in every other relationship in her life, so you know there is hope if Greg can chisel through those walls. Greg has worked a schedule that would kill a lesser doctor for so long that his time with Carrie not only helps him work through the cause of his anxiety but helps remove the blinders that have blocked the knowledge that he’s been neglecting the maintenance of his familial relationships. He’s still blind enough to be oblivious to the fact that Carrie is not a mind-reader, but he comes through with a big enough gesture in the end to prove he’s a Stanton (and we love the Stantons!). Thank heavens there’s still the youngest sister on the horizon!

Each of the three installments are only $.99 each so you could get three outstanding stories for less than $3.00, which is a total bargain. Entangled is also running a a Rafflecopter giveaway for gift cards that you should definitely enter to see if you can offset your romance reading addiction.

Audra North is a talented writer who has made us all appreciate the Stanton family even more with the latest addition to her series about this family. Thanks, Audra!

Happy reading! 🙂

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