ARC Review: Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex

Sally is the daughter and sister of men who belong to the sea. Her youngest brother has a calling to the church and disappears when he is to report to ship duty. Sally decides to save the family honor by taking disguising herself as her brother and taking his place on the ship. Colyear is the first lieutenant on the ship and family friend. Will he recognize Sally for who she really is? Can they resist the attraction growing between them?
I found this to be an interesting read. I enjoyed it but did not find it to be a page-turner. I had no problems putting the book down and coming back to it later.  It wasn’t until the last 25% of the book that I found myself hesitant to put it down and kept reading no matter what else was going on around me.
It took me some time to figure out while I enjoyed the book it didn’t hold my attention as steadfastly. I finally came to the realization that it was because I didn’t really have a vested interest in either Sally or Colyear until close to the end of the book.
These type of book is where I first found my love or romance stories. I was really looking forward to reading this book and feel a little let down only because I wanted to REALLY like it.

The history and battles described in Ms. Essex’s book is fantastic and provides a beautiful landscape for the story

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ARC Review: Lord Atwood’s Lovers by Eva Clancy

I really enjoyed the story Lord Atwood’s Lovers. Eva Clancy did a fantastic job creating characters you care about in such a short time. The character development is done more through story telling than dialogue. This can be difficult for readers to shift in their minds as most are used to development through dialogue than story telling.
Lord and Lady Atwood definitely understand each other and are willing to do whatever it takes to make the other happy. The love they feel for each other shines through in the story-telling.
Overall a very good, quick read.

The Chief by Monica McCarty

To sum it up: Scouring the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western Isles, Robert the Bruce handpicks ten warriors to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule. They are the best of the best, chosen for their superior skills in each discipline of warfare. And to lead his secret Highland Guard, Bruce chooses the greatest warrior of all.

The ultimate Highland warlord and a swordsman without equal, Tor MacLeod has no intention of being drawn into Scotland’s war against the English. Dedicated to his clan, the fiercely independent chief answers to no one— especially not to his alluring new bride, bartered to him in a bid to secure his command of the deadliest fighting force the world has ever seen. The treacherous chit who made her way to Tor’s bed may have won his hand, but she will never claim his heart.

Although her husband’s reputation is as fierce as his manner, Christina Fraser believes that something softer hides beneath his brutal shell. But the only warmth she feels is in their bed, in glorious moments of white-hot desire that disappear with the dawn. When Christina’s reckless bid to win her husband’s love goes awry and thrusts them into danger on the eve of war, Tor will face his ultimate battle: to save his wife and to open his heart— before it’s too late.

 How Tor looked in my mind:

(In real life, Gabriel Aubry doesn’t have blue eyes of course, but since Tor is described with having piercing blue eyes in the novel, I decided to make a few changes!)

(When all else fails, picture my boyfriend Chris Hemsworth! Gabriel Aubry’s face worked for me, while picturing Tor… but Chris Hemsworth’s body? Ummm… YES PLEASE!)


I have to admit… I was a bit hesitant going into this book, because I had heard it features a lot of history. That’s not something that I tend to mind too much, as long as it isn’t done to the extreme. Nothing is worse than feeling like you’re getting a history lesson, instead of reading a romance. Although I enjoyed this book, I just felt that it could have focused less on the historical/political aspect.

Not only that, but everyone’s last names were so darn confusing! MacLeod, MacSorley, MacRuairi, MacLean, MacGregor, MacKay… catch my drift? How is someone supposed to focus on the story-line, when all of these similar names are consistently thrown on every other page? I found myself (many times) having to stop and wonder who these characters were- were they the good guys? Or were they the bad ones? It just took away the entire enjoyable reading experience for me.

I will say this though: I loved the hero and the heroine. The heroine, Christina, was naive and vulnerable… aside from her appearance, which men often thought, looked very sensual. She wanted to be a good wife, and more than anything, she just wanted Tor to like her. She knew his lovemaking, but she knew nothing of the man. He kept his thoughts to himself. And no matter how hard she tried to break through the wall he’d erected around himself, nothing worked. Many readers would definitely consider her character very needy and lacking some major back-bone… probably even border-line pathetic. Of course this didn’t bother me in the least though, since those are characteristics that I adore in my heroines!

Tor on the other hand, was everything I love in my heroes- he was a big alpha sexy highlander who didn’t have time for a woman’s tender feelings. He was a warrior chief, and nothing more. The only thing that concerned him was his clan, and making sure that they were always taken care of. He had no wish to hurt Christina, but neither did he want to encourage her obvious love-sick feelings for him. *sigh* …who the heck doesn’t love a hero who constantly keeps himself at an emotional distance from the heroine?

I can’t say for sure if I’ll continue on with the series- I liked this book… but I didn’t love it. I will say this though: Monica McCarty knows her history- and she had a beautiful writing style- I just felt like I got more of a detailed history lesson, more than I did a love story.

Some of my favorite quotes:

-“I know your face. And if I so much as hear of you touching an unwilling woman again, mine will be the last you ever see.” -Tor

-“…He gave a harsh laugh. “Apparently, it is difficult for you to understand, but I don’t want, nor do I need, your help. You are my wife, by God, not one of my men. I warned you not to interfere. I told you to never- under any circumstances- come to the broch again. Your ‘help’ has put my clan, the men I’ve been training, and me in grave danger… you have no idea what you’ve done.” -Tor

Lily of the Springs by Carole Bellacera

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The hardest reviews to write are for the books that hit me the deepest, the ones I love the most. Let me tell you, this review took me weeks to write! I couldn’t get my thoughts together on it or decide which part to review. This definitely was the hardest review to wrote to date. So here goes….

“I knew my marriage was in trouble the night my husband brought home a streetwalker to teach me how to satisfy him.”

Once I read that line, I was hooked. Just by that one line, I knew I was going to be on a rough and stormy ride of emotions that would pull me in opposite directions the entire time. And I was right. Those words hit me with such force I swear I could hear and feel what the heroine felt.

It also happens to be the first line in the book.

Lily of the Springs isn’t my typical read. I usually read heavy romance books. Occasionally I’ll branch out to other genres, but any book I read must keep me enthralled in order for me to keep reading it…making me forget all those steamy love scenes I so very much look forward to. And this book did. I could not put it down! I loved every minute of it and if I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. This is one of those books that captured my heart and will never let go…and I don’t want it to. I simply loved it and didn’t want it to end. Just thinking about this book brings a bittersweet smile to my face.

Carole Bellacera takes the reader back in time as the story takes place over the course of three decades- the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. The story starts off in Kentucky and travels through the mid-west as the story unfolds. The story follows Lily as she searches for independence and love- not only from her husband but from herself as well. All the while Carole does an excellent job of describing the settings as the story develops. She pulls the reader back in time. I felt as if I lived through that time period. While there were a few words that I had never heard before, I found her overall choice of words to be right on point.

Lily falls in love with her high school sweetheart and plans to get married. The young couple was very much in love. They agreed to give themselves to each other until one night Lily’s boyfriend didn’t want to wait anymore. So he sought out someone else, devastating Lily. After finding out what happened, a heartbroken Lily turned to a childhood friend. It’s been years since she’s spoken with him…after all, she was not allowed to speak with him. He’s the one friend from long ago who she connected with during her childhood years in Kentucky, Jake.

Jake is the stereotypical white trash boy of the town. The kind of bad boy you want your daughter to stay away from. He comes from a bitter family. He’s learned from watching the actions of his abusive father. He does what he wants when he wants. It’s his way or the highway. When he sees Lily walking down the street, he wants her. Which isn’t a problem for him since Lily goes willingly and openly into his arms. One night of passion turns into a secret romantic relationship that grows hot and sexy, until shocking news sets their fate in motion…news that Lily thought Jake would be happy with but clearly wasn’t.

What Jake attempted nearly gave me a panic attack. I really believed Jake would have been happy with the news, but he wasn’t. In a way I was glad he didn’t accept the news with happiness. It would have been too easy….

“You made your bed, now you have to sleep in it,” is what Lily’s mother told her. And she does, trying to make the best of her marriage to an alcoholic and abusive husband. Jake was abusive on all levels- physically, emotionally and verbally, and Lily took it all. Yet she forgave him many times for his actions. Lily loved Jake and did whatever he needed, being a dutiful wife for many long years. I truly believe Jake loved Lily at times. I think you would too if you read it even though he was abusive. I know it doesn’t make sense but you have to read it to understand.

Unfortunately, Lily doesn’t get much in return in the form of a loving and caring husband. Instead of flowers and chocolates, she gets fists flying into her head and verbal degradations spewing from Jake’s lips. He oftentimes would embarrass her, sometimes in situations with other women who he obviously lusted for. It’s not what she thought her marriage would be. She often wondered what marriage would have been like if she married her high school sweetheart instead….

Even though there were years of deceit and abuse, there were good times too for Jake and Lily. I found myself rooting for Jake plenty of times, thinking he’d really changed. There were times when Jake would really impress me. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was a long time coming. Lily finally snapped. She lasted way longer than I would have, but it was different during those times so I understood why she did. I was in a state of shock when I found out what Jake did. I mean…I expected some form of it but I didn’t want to accept it. Carole Bellacera kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time so when I found out what Jake did, I was like, oh hell no!

This review could go on and on but I’m going to stop now. There is so much that happens that I don’t want to give it away. There were so many turn of events in this book…never a dull moment….I can assure you that!

I feel like this book is somewhat personal to the author….it’s just a feeling I have. I could be wrong but I don’t think I am. Every once in a while I’ll read a book where I get this feeling, like it’s reaching out to me, letting me know these are real words form a real person. A fictional story yet underneath the lining is the true life of a real person. I strongly believe there is truth in this story somewhere for the author.

This story does have a happily ever after, in case you’re wondering. Yes romantically….and in other ways too. Lily was pushed down so many times but she never gave up. She was fighter, a soldier. She did what she had to do and in the end it paid off for her. Its funny how things come full circle… you get what you deserve in the end. I have always believed in karma and this novel just goes to show that it.

Lily of the Springs is the kind of book I love the most. The one I look for and have the hardest time finding. The kind that really get down in the bones, take root and never let go.

Every once in a while, a song will play that makes me think of a book. This time it was Carrie Underwood’s, So Small. I have played that song so many times since reading this book. Perfect.

Author Spotlight: Gabriella Hewitt

Author Spotlight is the author’s time to shine. Whether it’s about their current book, upcoming book release or a fun post, check in to hear the latest news straight from the author.
Hello my sweets! Today I have a post from author Gabriella Hewitt about her newest book release…which sounds awesome by the way! Go and check it out!

Blurb:
SHADOW VISIONS (c) 2012 Samhain Publishing

Manuel has been tracking down a demon bent on sacrificing women with hummingbird tattoos. He is in danger of losing his humanity to his eagle spirit until he comes across Ixa Reyes, a beautiful San Diego Detective working on the same case, who also bears the mark of Huitzilopochtli. She is his salvation and redemption from a past filled with failure. Only she wants nothing to do with him or her heritage.

When a demon kidnaps her grandfather, the wind god, they must work together to save him and all mankind. He has twenty-four hours to help her control her elemental power over wind, that is if he can control his own desires to claim her body and soul. Because if he should fail, then the god of war will bring in a new era filled with blood and destruction.

When the last Shadow Warrior falls, so will humanity.


About the author:
Gabriella Hewitt is the pen name of creative writing talents Sasha Tomaszycki and Patrizia M.J. Hayashi. Together they weave tales of romantic suspense and dangerously sensual paranormals. Check out the website www.GabriellaHewitt.com to find out about upcoming releases and events on her blog.

EXCERPT:

“Don’t come any closer or I’ll shoot.” Her gun shook in her hands as if she were a damn rookie. She fought to control her emotions but they swirled inside her. If she didn’t pull it together another tornado would manifest, and that frightened her more than the half-naked man with the eagle eyes in front of her.

“Not another step,” she ordered, but he continued to stalk towards her.

She held her stance. Her finger trembled on the trigger.

He reached her. His chest pressed to the muzzle. He easily towered over her. She stared up into his golden eyes. No fear. Instead, she read another emotion in his eyes.

Desire.

She should have felt threatened, and she did, but not because she believed he meant to hurt her—it was much more fundamental than that. Her whole body seemed to come alive in his presence. Her breath shortened and she felt a flush stealing up underneath her tanned cheeks. She lowered her gaze and let her weapon fall to her side. Keeping her fingers tightly wrapped around the grip reminded her to remain grounded. Her reaction to him was so totally unlike her.

Up close, she found herself staring at a broad chest covered with a mantle of feathers. The man was made of solid muscle. Without volition, her gaze traveled upward, noting the powerful shoulders, the hard jaw, the firm lips and the stern expression he wore.

“You’re very brave, but your gun won’t help you against the tzitzimime.”

Ixa swallowed, searching for her voice. “Who are you? What are you?”

His hand came up. Gently, he traced the image of the hummingbird tattooed on her right bicep. Her muscle quivered under his touch. “Just as I thought. You bear the mark,” he murmured.

In the distance she heard the confused shouts of her fellow officers. “They’ll be here soon.” They would have heard the shots. They’d be searching for her.

“I distorted the sound so they check in a different area. They will not be upon us yet.”

“You can do that?” It didn’t seem possible, except she didn’t have an explanation for anything that had happened. Her brain seemed to be functioning in first gear, unable to catch up to anything that required substantial thought.

“I can do many things, you will find.”

He cupped her chin and tilted her head. His golden eyes came closer until his head blotted out the sky and everything around her. Helpless, she waited for his lips to touch hers.

His lips brushed hers, once, twice. She let out a sigh. He pressed down a third time and she leaned into him, but before she could deepen the kiss, he released her and stepped back.

Her entire body zinged with energy. She stared up at him, bemused.

He chuckled, which snapped her out of her daze. Had she lost her mind?

“Don’t ever do that again.”

He smiled, an incredibly sexy smile that made her nerve endings sing with need. Before she could lash out at him again, he raised his arms up. A breeze passed around them, ruffling the feathers adorning his chest. His image wavered and bent. She heard bones cracking, reshaping. Wave after wave of feathers burst forth in a soft, rippled covering. Where a warrior once stood, now a large eagle spread its wings and gave a loud cry. The eagle flapped its wings and took to the skies.

Ixa gasped. The gods will find a way to convince you. Her abuelo’s words echoed in her mind.


This Author Spotlight was brought to you by:

Rent-A-Groom by Jennifer Blake

I love Jennifer Blake stories. She was one of the first romance authors I read. Her stories always have a Happily Ever After and this one is no exception. I enjoyed this story and fell in love with the characters in it. Ms. Blake does an outstanding job of developing characters in such a short time, which is particularly difficult in a novella.

If I liked the story so much, then why only three stars? First, even though I love Jennifer Blake stories, I do like a bit more tension or anguish in my love stories. Second, I’m used to her stories being historical and this one is a modern day romance. That’s a hard transition for me to make with her.
It’s a good story and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good romance with a Happily Ever After!

Power Play by Chellsie B. Dancer


Sergio Davis is working on landing an important account that will be the ticket to making partner by the time he’s thirty, and on his way into his office, he meets a beautiful woman.  Liz is an heiress who is successful in business, but not so much in relationships.  She seeks a man that wants her for herself and not her money.  She meets a sexy artistic man who takes control – something she’s wholly unfamiliar with giving up – and brings out her submissive side.  Liz seduces and teases him, spending nights paying the delicious price at his mercy.  They each make their power plays, but who will end up getting their way?

Power Play is an enjoyable sexy read with just a taste of bondage fun that leaves you wanting more of Sergio’s and Liz’s story.

I enjoyed this book.  The chemistry between the characters is good, and I love the way they tease each other.  The sex scenes were hot and their buildup was wickedly playful.  I loved how the sex scenes included a little light bondage, but in such a way as to ease the reader into it because it was so new and unusual even to the characters.  I also liked how every move they made with each other was a power play, pushing the other to see how far they could go.  Being that they were both in the corporate world, the term was very ambiguous and applied to both the boardroom and the bedroom.

While normally I would say it all happened a little fast with the emotional ties etc. I will attribute the speed to the immediate chemistry that develops right from the start.  Other than that my only complaint is how much Sergio overreacts to something that Liz says and does.  While I am totally on his side in the matter, I really just didn’t imagine him behaving the way he did in the aftermath.  I digress, I still got my happy ending and enjoyed the journey, which is the important part.

Oh and did I mention I now have a new appreciation for neck ties? *wink*

Sweet Sexy Scorching Summer Giveaway Hop!


Sweet Sexy Scorching Summer Giveaway Hop!
My Secret Romance (Taryn), The Smutty Kitty (Kitty Kelly) and Day Dreaming (Dawn) have joined together to create a blog hop to promote erotic books.

There has been a lot of hype in the media lately regarding “mommy porn” books and the use of ereaders to hid what we’re reading. The media portrays it as “offensive and abusive” to woman.  While we love our ereaders something fierce, it doesn’t mean we’re ashamed to be reading our smutty books. In fact, we love erotic books and want to share it! 

Here are the details:

This blog hop will be similar to the game ‘name that tune’ only readers will be guessing an authors character. Each blogger will have a post dedicated to the author of the day, but only one blogger will have the ‘Who am I’ post. The rest of the blogs will have character hints, possible reviews, lines/quotes, blurbs or excerpts from books. Only twelve blogs will be participating. At the end of each day, there will be one winner chosen, making it five winners a week and then one grand prize winner at the end.

Please email us at SSSbloghop@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

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Her Forbidden Hero by Laura Kaye

To sum it up: She’s always been off-limits…

Former Army Special Forces Sgt. Marco Vieri has never thought of Alyssa Scott as more than his best friend’s little sister, but her return home changes that… and challenges him to keep his war-borne demons at bay. Marco’s not the same person he was back when he protected Alyssa from her abusive father, and he’s not about to let her see the mess he’s become.

…but now she’s all grown up.

When Alyssa takes a job at the bar where Marco works, her carefree smiles wreak havoc on his resolve to bury his feelings. How can he protect her when he can’t stop thinking about her in his bed? But Alyssa’s not looking for protection—not anymore. Now that she’s back in his life, she’s determined to heal her forbidden hero, one touch at a time…

MY MARCO 

 4 ½ BIG STARS!

This book was EVERYTHING I look for in a romance novel.

-Sweet and innocent heroine? Check.

-Totally drool-worthy and brooding/tortured/protective hero? Check.

-A hero who tries to keep himself at an emotional distance from the heroine? Triple Check.

-A hero with jerk tendencies? God yes… check.

…and did I mention the heroine’s name is the same as mine? *SQUEEEEE*

Like I said… perfect book.

Marco, Marco, Marco… *sigh* …Man, I loved him. He definitely tried to keep his distance from Alyssa, because there was no way he was opening up his heart to anyone. He had been through too much in the Army- he still suffered through nightmares, and he had a few scars on the inside and out, that left him feeling like less of a man. Oh, and in Marco’s world, Alyssa might as well have been wearing a big neon sign that says: “Best friend’s little sister.” That was definitely reason enough alone, for Marco to stay away.

Alyssa on the other hand, has always been in love with Marco. He was always there for her during the good times and bad- always being that one person she could count on; the one she’s always wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Her faithful heart never once gave up on wanting to be even closer to him- always knowing that he’s still the same Marco that she’s always known. Alyssa is definitely a favorite heroine of mine- she’s kind, sweet, and her love for Marco knows no bounds.

I won’t go into too much detail with this novel, because I don’t want to give much away- but what I can say, is that Laura Kaye did a fantastic job with this one! It was the first time I’ve read her work, and it definitely won’t be my last. This is one book that’s packed with a lot of story, depth, and emotion. The only thing I can say that this story was lacking was length- but that isn’t saying much, since I would have never wanted the story to end! Lauren Kaye definitely delivered in this book- need I say more? 🙂