Tag Archives: Diane Alberts

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! 🙂

 

You Simply Won’t Dare to Resist the Latest by Laura Kaye

12 May

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

I can be guaranteed to love everything Laura Kaye writes but sometimes she just outdoes herself (I don’t know how she manages it). Her latest, Dare to Resist, is one of those books that just left me breathless with its combination of emotion, intelligence, and heat.

Kady Dresco is a gorgeous, confident young woman who is making it in a man’s world. She’s been a coding prodigy since she took apart her parents’ PC as a kid and her career took off from there. It’s not easy being an attractive woman in the computer world, but she’s determined to land a big military contract, which is why she’s traveled into the middle of God-knows-where to kick ass in her presentation. Triumphing over her competition, who is currently sitting out in the lobby, is going to feel pretty sweet.

That’s not only due to how a solid win would feel, putting her in line for partner at her firm, but also because it would mean trumping Colton Brooks, sexy former soldier and owner of his own computer security firm. That he is her brother’s best friend and the man she’s crushed on since she helped him with his college comp sci homework is a minor technicality, as is the fact that he once brought her to screaming orgasm in her family’s pool house at the party welcoming him back from the Middle East. An untimely interruption and some really hurtful words cut that encounter short, but Kady has gotten over it, accepting their friendship/rivalry as the status quo.

Colton and Kady are hot, hot, hot with plenty of up-against-the-wall-while-I-hold-your-wrists sexy time. Yum. (Image purchased from Shutterstock under web license)

Colton and Kady are hot, hot, hot with plenty of up-against-the-wall-while-I-hold-your-wrists sexy times. Yum. (Image purchased from Shutterstock under web license)

Colton has never gotten Kady out of his head but the fact that she’s his best friend’s little sister  -combined with his own dark desires – means that this woman is off limits. When the crappy weather grounds them after their presentations, Colton is forced to share a room with Kady. What would normally be physical torture becomes something much worse as their camaraderie and playful banter further convinces him that this woman is all but perfect. A discovery in Kady’s luggage stuns Colton as he makes the realization that she could be exactly what he’s always wanted sexually as well.

Oh. My. God.

Not only are these two people who you instantly fall for – Kaye’s wonderful humor is laced throughout the couple’s banter, driving the sexual tension even higher – but she does an amazing job showing their shared history, the foundation upon which their friendship was built. Kady really does see and understand Colton – his crappy childhood and disastrous parents have convinced him he wouldn’t be any good in a real relationship, so he’s never had one. For Colton, Kady makes him want to take a chance and when he finally lets the blinders he’s worn since she was in high school completely fall, he sees a woman who is everything he’s ever dreamed off. It’s downright swoon-worthy.

Also making me faint is that the kick ass editors at Entangled have made this wonderful novella the kick off for a series – Wedding Dare – which manages to line up four of their best contemporary romance authors who will each write one of the full-length novels, using Kady and Colton’s wedding as a springboard for a relationship which develops between the couple’s friends and siblings.

And who will be writing the other books, you ask? Well, look at the window and check that it’s not actually December, because the series’ authors will be none other than: Tessa Bailey (who writes heroes who really know how to deliver the dirty talking in her Line of Duty series), Diane Alberts (author of the most wonderful tortured, emotional heroes and heroines in her Take a Chance series), Katee Robert (of Come Undone series fame) and Samanthe Beck (whose McCade Brothers series is a must-read for any contemporary romance reader).

The four other books in the series are due out in 2014, with all of them released on June 9th! Isn’t that brilliant? No stringing readers along month by month AND I’m on vacation that day, so you can bet I’ll be reading all of them in one sitting and just glorying in the fabulous writing. So psyched!!

Go out and grab Dare to Resist and begin building the anticipation for June 9th while enjoying another amazingly crafted work by Laura Kaye. It’s exactly the Monday you needed, I promise. 🙂

Happy reading!

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of February 16, 2014

16 Feb

Upcoming Books and New Releases

rushing amyFor fans of romance novels featuring football heroes, check out Avon’s upcoming release, Rushing Amy by Julie Brannagh which comes out on February 25th and it’s the second book in the author’s Love and Football series. An arrogant ex-NFL star meets a gorgeous florist at her sister’s wedding and is shocked when his patented moves prove he’s got no game with this particular woman. It’s always nice when the heroes have to step up their game, isn’t it? I don’t know if the price is permanent, but as of right now, the Kindle version is only $1.99 with the paperback at the usual release price of around $6, so I’ve taken advantage of the ebook discount.

Lori Wilde is well-known for her small-town Twilight, Texas series and recently the books she’s put out for that series have had some tie-in to a holiday, and since she does a great job bringing the spirit of a holiday into the plot, more power to her! The latest addition is The Valentine’s Day Disaster, book #4.5 in the series, and features an injured NASCAR driver looking to recuperate in his hometown who ends up face-to-face with his high school sweetheart during the town’s Valentine’s Day auction. Out already so go get it!

Lynsay Sands clearly deserves a yearly word count award as she keeps cranking out book after book for her Argeneau series (and vampire fiction fans appreciate all her hard work). The latest addition is the 20th book in the series (woohoo!), and Vampire Most Wanted has a renegade Argeneau hiding out in Southern California and the vampire sent to bring her back to Louisana for questioning. Put February 18th in your calendar or better yet, pre-order it.

With my adoration of all things steampunk/gaslight, I’m really not sure how author Lynn Viehl and her Disenchanted & Co series managed to sneak past me this year. Featuring a female private investigator living in an America which lost the Revolutionary War, this series looks terrific – it even has a love triangle with both an Inspector and a mage vying for the heroine’s affections! With the release of the second book in the series, A Clockwork Wolf, coming out on February 25th and having our heroine petitioned by the noblewoman responsible for ruining her, I’m going to be playing catch up this week and reading these novels.

Elle Kennedy has romance readers everywhere fanning themselves with her Out of Uniform series and the latest addition, As Hot As It Gets, is actually the tenth book in the series and centers on a sexy SEAL who, after watching all his teammates find their true love, discovers a sexy gardner who pushes all his buttons…and has so many obligations she’s not open to dating. Give a SEAL a challenge and expect all the stops to be pulled out.

Vivian Arend‘s most recent Thompson & Sons novel, Baby, Be Mine, will be on the shelves as of February 25th and I’ve had this one pre-ordered since December 15th as the initial buzz was so great. When a heroine has a car accident and loses her memory (and let’s just say that one particular memory of that night is pretty key), she’s more than baffled as to how she can be pregnant, but she’s further confused when a good friend comes back from a work assignment two months later acting like he has rights where she is concerned. What gives? Do yourself a favor and get the fantastic anthology Marked which has not only the first book in this new series but also two other amazing books by Kit Rocha and Lauren Dane while you are waiting for this one.

Contests and Giveaways

Historical romance fans love Elizabeth Hoyt for good reason, so if you enjoy her books or have simply wanted to try them, you may want to take a look at the Goodreads giveaway for the first book in her Legend of the Four Soldiers series, To Taste Temptation. When a self-made man wearing moccasins shows up among the ton with a reputation for fleeing a massacre in North America that many English gentlemen didn’t survive, society is scandalized but one young woman is nothing but fascinated with the forthright, sensual man who made it through the battle her brother did not. When that same gentleman begins to suspect her fiancee of culpability in the battle’s outcome, she must decide whether she can rely on her newly formed trust to tell help her ferret out the truth. Enter before the February 28th deadline for your chance to win.

Entangled Publishing recently released three fantastic military romances under the Brazen imprint – including Staking His Claim by Tessa Bailey, Tawna Fenske’s Marine for Hire and Temporarily Yours by Diane Alberts– and they are still celebrating with a terrific giveaway on the Fiction Vixen website. Prizes include a Kindle Paperwhite, signed copies of the books and 2 $25 Amazon gift cards, so unlock the Rafflecopter interface and get your entries before the February 26th deadline.

Since I’m a fan of Gina Maxwell‘s world of MMA Fighters in her Fighting for Love series, I was thrilled to see that her excellent Entangled ebooks have been picked up by St. Martin’s Press to be published in print. The second excellent book in the series, Rules of Entanglement, will be coming out in paperback on February 25th, and anyone interested in winning a copy should hustle over to the Goodreads giveaway immediately and enter the contest by February 17th (that’s tomorrow!). With this ridiculous cold weather, watching an uptight district attorney let her hair down with an MMA fighter while she plans her best friend’s (and his sister’s) wedding is exactly what the weatherman ordered!

Fun Stuff

Those clever editors at Avon Publishing have come up with a “choose your own adventure” type book, except this time it’s a naughty romantic adventure. A Girl Walks Into a Bar: Your Fantasy, Your Rules is written in the first person and offers periodic decisions (like wearing control top panties, naughty underwear or going commando) with the adventure directing you to the page of your next adventure. It’s tough to say from the Amazon preview as to weather the ebook as direct hyperlinks to the place in the text, but it’s an intriguing direction for romance fiction or erotica to venture. Author Helena S. Paige is purportedly doing more than one, so take a look and see if this could be something you’d like – I can picture it being a great present for a girls’ night out/bachelorette party!

My love for sports romance fiction is no secret, so I was pleased to see several wonderful authors like Cassandra Carr and Kelly Jamieson band together and form the Hockey Romance website to promote their upcoming work to fans. This is a great idea since if you enjoy one hockey romance, you might certainly enjoy another, so cross promoting like-minded authors leads to greater discoverability. I hope they start blogging about their favorite teams, the Stanley Cup playoffs and tricky concepts like icing to help readers appreciate the genre even more!

If you know someone who didn’t have the greatest Valentine’s Day, a terrific gift would be one that allows them to dwell on all their favorite Hollywood stars. As good as chocolate would be Color Me Swoon: The Beefcake Activity Guide for Good Color-Inners As Well As Beginners with it’s representations of Ryan Gosling, George Clooney and Brad Pitt just begging for your set of colored pencils and some “me” time. British artist Mel Eliott has given all of us a chance to reconnect with our inner (ahem) child, so thanks Mel!

The toughest part of choosing a calendar is always debating the cute animals approach versus the hot shirtless guys you’d like to also be looking at. Compromise no more! Hot Guys and Baby Animals 2014 combines two of your favorite things and tells you what day of the week it is. You’re welcome.

Great Deals

Harlequin Blaze’s Uniformly Hot series is one of my favorites and if you enjoy your category romance with a military hero, I suggest you take a look. A great way to dip a toe is to take advantage of the great Uniformly Hot! Volume 1 Bundle, featuring three books from Rhonda Nelson, Tawny Weber and Karen Foley – three writers with serious military chops. Harlequin books are always well priced, but $.99 for over 500 pages of hot heroes and feisty heroines is the ultimate bargain.

I love Kresley Cole‘s paranormal novels (she has an entire section of my Kindle app devoted to her) and her recent contemporary The Professional was amazing, so I’m eager to sample her historical novels. A great way to try one out is to take advantage of the ebook sale on If You Deceive, the third book in her Scottish McCarrick Brothers trilogy. A former Highland nobleman, beaten and scarred years ago for a crime he didn’t commit, finds the opportunity for the ultimate revenge when he realizes the man who caused him all this pain has a gorgeous daughter, one he can seduce with false promises and then cast aside. Naturally his plan goes awry, but can love survive the ultimate deception?

This great deal could have also been in the Upcoming Books section with a release date of March 3rd, but with seven books from seven really wonderful authors, the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Contemporary Romance Boxed Set should be on everyone’s pre-order list, particularly with the price of $.99. Readers ge 2000 pages by Charity Pinerio, Sophia Knightly, Tawny Weber, Nina Bruhns, Susan Hatler, Virna DePaul and Kristin Miller, so I think we end up being the lucky ones!

That’s it for this week. Happy reading!

You’ll Give Diane Alberts’ Temporarily Yours a Permanent Place In Your Heart (and Your Bookshelf)

3 Feb
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 (Entangled Brazen, February 3, 2013)

It doesn’t seem to matter if she writes under Jen McLaughlin or her other contemporary romance penname of Diane Alberts – this wonderful writer always hits me at heart level with her sexy, smart voice and amazing characters.

After loving her Take a Chance series, I was extremely excited to see that she was embarking on a new series, Shillings Agency, since this agency in question is a security firm based out of Maine and we all know that former military personnel populate the ranks of these organizations. Who doesn’t love a military hero? Diane Alberts specializes in tortured, handsome heroes who have one woman destined to reveal their sweetness, an ability which has always made her quite the writer goddess in my mind.

After reading this new release, I hope Mt. Olympus is pretty this time of year because she certainly is using all her power with Temporarily Yours!

Kayla Moriarity is just trying to hold it together as she waits for her flight from Maine to North Carolina. As an actuary, she is all too aware of the statistical chance of dying in a plane crash and this knowledge has only exacerbated her fear of flying. Going home for her sister’s wedding is hard enough when she doesn’t really believe in love (and can quote divorce statistics in her sleep), but add to it the method of transportation and she’s not having a great weekend. Kayla’s not even registering the post-holiday bustle around her, except for when one gorgeous guy gets nailed in the cashmere sweater by a three-foot-high hoodlum wielding a saliva-coated, candy cane like nobody’s business. He literally drops at her feet and it’s not long before this hunk is helping her forget all her fears, particularly when he arranges to sit next to her in the empty first-class seat adjoining hers.

Try Me (Take a Chance #1) by Diane Alberts (Entangled, May 2012)

While falling at a woman’s feet isn’t exactly the way he’d like to make a first impression, there is no denying the view of this beauty’s gorgeous legs and even more beautiful face might be worth the fall. Kayla stirs up all Cooper Shilling’s protective instincts, so much so that when he invites her to use him as the model of the fake boyfriend she’s invented to pacify her family, it’s not long before he’s offering to fill in as the in flesh version. They both know that he’s shipping overseas to take a security job – and not the one with his father’s firm back in Maine – so their time together has an expiration date. A few days to explore the chemistry between them and solve Kayla’s boyfriend dilemma is the perfect solution. When their chemistry becomes something more, Kayla finds herself wanting to defy the odds, but Cooper may not be capable of letting her in past the losses he carries from his time in service.

OH. MY. GOD. Cooper and Kayla are both terrific characters, deluded in the way they see and understand their family, but smart and insightful about one another. Their connection is so strong that I felt the need to ping the flight attendant for cold drink while they were busy kissing in front class! Alberts always does a great job with the sexy times, but she’s even better at surrounding her characters with flawed families who nevertheless overflow with love for each other. The plot is tight in this wonderful novel, with each piece of information and action building to a climax that had me reading with my hand over my heart the whole time. The epilogue was so heart-warming (and so tied into the plot) that I found myself choking up while wishing for my own Cooper. I’ll never look at first class the same way again. (I always knew amazing things happened behind that curtain!!!)

Do yourself a huge favor and take advantage of Entangled’s new $.99 deal for new releases to pick up this outstanding book. You, like me, will want to be in on this series from the get-go and Temporarily Yours is going to find a permanent place in your heart, I promise. For anyone within driving distance of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area of Pennsylvania, you may want to come enjoy hearing Diane in person as she will be reading (possibly from this novel) at the newest location for Lady Jane’s Salon, along with several other authors on Thursday, March 6th. (And there will be wine.) I’ll certainly be there in the front row. 🙂

Happy reading!

Diane Alberts Adds To Her Take a Chance Series With Play Me

29 Jul

Play Me (Take a Chance #3 – Kiersten & Garrett) by Diane Alberts (Entangled, July 29, 2013)

I’ve made no bones in the past regarding my enjoyment of Diane Alberts’ Take a Chance series. The first two installments, Try Me and Love Me are heartfelt emotional rollercoasters that leave you a little teary and shaking when you finish the final page.

In Play Me, the sister of the heroine from Love Me is Kiersten Worth, who chose to take her nephew, Chris, when her other sister suddenly died.  It was a lot of responsibility at a young age, but she was happy to do it and thought she was creating a family when her boyfriend Pete asked her to marry him. That idea went up in smoke after she caught him and his skank secretary together. That incident, combined with a distant father and always dissatisfied mother has her giving up on love and happily ever after. She has decided to be content with watching her now middle school aged son play basketball, particularly when his coach is her long term friend and major eye candy, Garrett Kelly.

Garrett is a middle school math teacher and coach who works alongside his best friend, Mike Worth, Kiersten’s brother. Mike has been warning Garrett away from Kiersten since his crush on her in high school but it’s getting harder now that they’ve begun hanging out, even though it’s platonic. He’s accepted nothing will ever happen between them in his head, but his heart is saying something totally different, particularly with the waning of his string of one-night stands. When Kiersten comes onto him over drinks in her empty house, he assumes that she wants to try a relationship with him, ignoring the fact that this is the day she was originally supposed to get married to Pete.

girl-18918_640Kiersten is overjoyed that it was so easy to get Garrett to give her a hot tumble but she’s astonished when his pillow talk afterward indicates that he’s in this for something more than a friends with benefits night. It’s incredibly obvious how much she’s hurt a good friend, particularly when he lets her know that he can’t just hang out with her anymore and asks for some distance. Three months later, he’s annoyed to come home to his apartment only to find Kiersten in the kitchen making dinner. He tries to throw her out, telling her it hasn’t been long enough, but she brings his eviction to a screeching halt with the announcement that she’s three months pregnant – I wouldn’t be buying that condom brand again if I were her!

Garrett decides this is the opportunity he’s been waiting for. He wants a family and life with Kiersten and by insisting that he move in with her in order to be there for her, Chris and the baby, he has a chance to get just that. Lying to her that he’s over her and doesn’t want anything more is hard, but it’s the reassurance she needs to make it happen. It’s hard and awkward for them to be together but it’s all part of Garrett’s plan.

At 108 pages, this book in the series qualifies as a novella, and unlike the other two books which felt longer despite their length, this story felt rushed. Alberts employs three wonderful romance tropes – a relationship of convenience, the unplanned pregnancy, and best friends to lovers – but none of them work for me and that hurts because I love each one of them.

The problem was with Kiersten’s character – I completely understood how hurt she was from her fiancee’s betrayal but she was so inarticulate and cold that it was almost impossible to empathize with her decisions, even when I understood why she was making them. I honestly think that if she could have lost her temper at Garrett and showed some emotion toward him (something he could have seen as him making progress with her caring or cracking through her shell) that it would have made the astonishingly rapid progression from wariness to trust a little better. And was she actually pregnant? The real symptoms of pregnancy are a great way to establish intimacy, but there was no scene of feeling the first kick together, seeing the heart beat at the doctor’s office, Garrett desperately finding her a bathroom to pee in, or extreme horniness in the second trimester. Missed opportunities, since she seemed to have the easiest pregnancy the world ever saw.

Additional page time for small acts on Garrett’s part, actions which would have Kiersten expressing happiness and appreciation toward him, would have also bolstered his goals while showing her gently moving toward acceptance of the fact he wasn’t going anywhere. Why couldn’t he have heard her crying after another hurtful exchange so he could have gone in and comforted her, getting behind that wall of hers? Instead we got a rapid fire transition where she’s unable to tell Garrett how she feels, hurting him again, and she goes out and acts jealous but not enough for Garrett to realize what’s going on. Then we get a page-long speech from Kiersten about how she feels toward him, which he happily accepts. It’s a quick wrap up from that point with a satisfying epilogue and the set up of brother Mike as the next hero in the series.

Alberts’ writing is just as wonderful as always – it’s tight and conveys the internal struggle of her characters well. Entangled Publishing has managed yet another sexy cover which manages to showcase Garret’s balls connection to basketball, I can only imagine that Diane Alberts loves where readers have to look to check her author name!

When it comes time for Mike’s story I’ll certainly try it, but I’ve got to say that this story did not match the previous stellar installments of the series.

Diane Alberts Take a Chance Series Gets Even Better with Love Me

30 May

Try Me (Take a Chance #1 – Jeremy and Erica) by Diane Alberts (Entangled, May 2012)

One great book is a delight but two in a row constitutes an author I can trust. Diane AlbertsTake a Chance series delighted me with her first novel, Try Me, (which I devoured last summer) but she’s proven herself an author to be reckoned with after this month’s release of the second in that series, Love Me.

In glancing at the cover, it’s not hard to see what drew me! Entangled Publishing could give the fuddy-duddy Big Six publishers lessons in how to produce contemporary romance covers that have depth and appeal – and look like they are from this century. This one conveys a great deal about the hero, with not only his military background clearly indicated by the dog tags and bullets, but the tattoos indicating a tough background (do you love the title at the top and the author name at the waist? It’s genius.) and the heart on his pec helping us realize that there’s a chance for a happily ever after. The bare chest and sculpted abs also successfully transmit that this is a book with a high sensuality rating, or in common parlance, Mmmmrrrooowwwww.

Jeremy has had a pretty crappy R&R in his hometown of Las Vegas. He hadn’t even enjoyed his first sip of beer before some asshole sailor took offense that Jeremy was a Marine and a colossal fistfight ensued. He’s not sure how, but he’s now wandering the Mars landscape of a desert, beaten and dehydrated. When a lone car screeches to a halt, knocking him on his butt, he’s wondering if his life can get any worse, and it does. The professionally dressed beauty asking him if he’s okay is none other than Erica, who he’s been in love with since he first saw her in the first grade.

He hasn’t seen her for seven years, not since the day her brother Tommy – who happened to be Jeremy’s best friend – accused him of sleeping with his wife. Jeremy might actually have been the only man Nicole didn’t sleep with, but the colossal hurt of his best friend turning on him sent him straight to the bottle. Drunk and wounded by the accusation, he turned up on Erica’s doorstep to drunkenly profess his long-standing love for her. Rather than answer she just ran away and Jeremy in turn ran into the arms of the Marines, having lost the two people who meant everything to him.

Erica cannot believe it’s Jeremy she just rescued – gorgeous, kind Jeremy who she’s been in love with forever. She knows that her brother should have realized Jeremy would never have slept with his bitch of a wife and she also knows that she should have had the backbone to put up a protest, particularly after Jeremy told her he loved her. Now that Jeremy is here, he’s just as tempting as ever but Erica knows she can’t have him. She’s harboring a secret that puts him off limits to her, although her body hasn’t gotten the memo.

Because they both know one another already, this romance has serious backbone and progresses rapidly as Jeremy and Erica both succumb to the heat that has always been between them. There is no way to not love the persistent, loyal Jeremy who can’t seem to stop himself from hoping where Erica is concerned. The dialogue is outstanding, conveying a playfulness between the couple that speaks to their longstanding relationship as friends, and while there isn’t a lot of sex since they are both working through their issues and emotions, sexual tension abounds and the sex scene at the end is worth waiting for, as is the wonderful epilogue chapter.

Love Me (Take a Chance #2 – Tommy and Brianna) by Diane Alberts (Entangled, May 13, 2013)

We also get a good glimpse of the happy, settled couple in the series sequel, the recently released Love Me. That’s a good thing, because Love Me doesn’t lack emotional turmoil. Erica’s brother Thomas, again in Vegas for work, feels tremendous pressure to land the casino near the airport to cinch his position in his marketing company. He’s blown away when the blond 50s pin-up businesswoman he runs into turns out to be the contact he’s there to woo, and he wants a lot more than Brianna’s business. They are both aware they are crossing a professional line, but after against the wall sex in his hotel room and then over the desk in her office, it’s a moot point.

Yet Thomas has colossal baggage from the cheating, manipulative wife he divorced eight years ago, baggage which leads him to lash out with horrible accusations at Brianna. She’s also desperate to push him away since her feelings for him are overwhelming, yet his two week assignment hardly offers a chance for something more permanent, even if he did want to take on a widow with three children.

Thomas has an unattractive shell that he has donned for years to work which I initially found very off-putting. Fortunately, Alberts’ excellent writing from his POV reveals not only his conflict with realizing he wants more than a fling from Brianna, but also his tremendous determination in the face of her running hot and cold. Brianna was harder to care for initially. It’s easy to empathize with her feelings of guilt and protectiveness toward her children, but her vacillation in the face of Thomas’ pursuit was frustrating, even while you understood her perspective. The outstanding writing of the children in this story gave the plot enormous depth, and one of Alberts’ strength as a writer is her unwillingness to gloss over real issues a burgeoning couple would face. An amazing resolution and tear-jerking epilogue cinches this novella’s keeper status in my Kindle.

Interestingly, Love Me is over twice as along as its predecessor, clocking in at an estimated 134 pages, versus 65 pages for Try Me. Yet both stories pack an emotional punch so strong that you’d swear after finishing them that you just put down a 250 page stand alone novel. There aren’t any details up yet for the third book in the Take a Chance series, but it does have a title, Play Me, and an expected publication date in 2013, so fingers crossed we get to see it soon. In the meantime, I’m going to be exploring Diane Alberts’ other books, since this is a writer who has certainly proved her worth when it comes to my allotted book dollars.

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