Thursday, August 21, 2014

Takeover by Anna Zabo

Title: Takeover 
Author: Anna Zabo
My Rating: A

Genre: Erotic Romance (m/m)
Series: #1
Main Characters: Sam and Michael
Release Date: August 2014
Publisher: InterMix
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
Michael Sebastian thought Curacao would be the perfect place to have a little fun in the sun—and between the sheets. So far, no one has struck his interest, until Sam Anderson walks into the bar. With one look at his tense body and expensive suit, Michael knows that this is a man in need of release. And Michael is more than willing to lend a hand.

Shattered by the most intense sex he’s ever had, Sam has to face the facts—one night with a handsome, dominating stranger is all he gets before returning to the closet he’s been suffocating in for years. But when Sam starts his new job as the CEO of a failing technology company, he discovers that Michael is one of his new employees.

While Michael is desperate for another night with Sam, he knows he shouldn’t get involved with his boss, let alone another man who can’t accept who he is. But as they’re forced to work together to save the company, the desire sparking between them becomes impossible to ignore…
My Review:
I'll be honest, I went into this book not knowing this author's writing and expecting it to be "okay"...OMG, I was so wrong. This book was phenomenal. Something about the story line and these two men just resonated with me and I really loved their story. 

The book begins at the vacation destination of Curacao with Michael who hasn't been able to find anyone to pique his interest the entire time he's been there although he's had plenty of offers. He's pretty much given up on getting laid this vacation when Sam walks through the door in his suit, looking a bit beat down by life. Michael's interest is piqued and they have an incredibly hot night...until Michael has to leave the next day. 

He never expects to see Sam again, so it's a shock when Sam is heading up the team taking over the company Michael began and subsequently lost because he slept with the wrong guy. Not a great way to start their working relationship especially since Sam is the new CEO, in charge of Michael. That part of the story line isn't all that new...I happen to love "one-night-stands who come back to haunt the mc's" trope. But this one had so much more to it. The company is a tech company that's been in the middle of corporate political mechanisms for way too long. Michael has been there from the very beginning and is trying to do everything he can to protect the company and his people. 

Sam isn't a normal's not all about the bottom-line for him, like most corporate types. He honestly wants to make the company better which is why he's so good at his job. He also maintains the respect from his peers because of it...and the fact that he's never come out of the closet. He's very aware that if he does so, he can kiss his career that he loves and is good at goodbye. There are deep story lines for both characters and I loved all that backstory and their conflict. There's no winning here...for either of them if their relationship is revealed. 

The corporate story line worked for me and I'm totally clueless when it comes to tech or the corporate world, but I loved all the intrigue and political mechanisms and just how the entire story unfolded within those parameters. It was just a good book all the way around.

One note...I know some readers have issues with BDSM and there's nothing in the story description that hints at this, but this book does have some incredibly sexy BDSM scenes in it. I'm talking hot...seriously, these scenes were fantastic and so darn sexy. But if that's a hot button for you, then just be aware.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Geek Billionaire Makeover by Theresa Meyers

Title: The Geek Billionaire Makeover
Author: Theresa Meyers
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Sexy in Seattle #1
Main Characters: Josh and Caroline
Release Date: August 2014
Publisher: Entangled
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
She wanted revenge. He wanted the only thing he couldn't have—her. Image consultant Caroline Parker is willing to resort to corporate espionage to get revenge on Seattle tech billionaire CEO Joshua Martin. He may be king of the computing world now, but when they knew each other in high school, he was just the geeky friend of her younger brother she refused to date.
To successfully launch his new venture, Aeon Industries, Josh’s got to shake off his geek veneer and get into beast mode, and he needs her help to do it. Josh always thought the brass ring was his next big business coup, but once he sees Caroline again, he realizes that old desire to have her has never waned. Now he’s determined to make her his, no matter what the cost.
Caroline knows she can create  a superstar from the geek, but she's got a deeper reason to sign on for the job. Helping Josh remake his image gives her an opportunity to get close to him--and get her hands on the plans for Aeon that could save her brother from a ruthless blackmailer. But as Josh's image makeover takes hold, and she starts to fall for her creation, she realizes too late that her venture into espionage could ruin more far more than Josh’s empire.

My Review:
Okay, I am normally not a big fan of the billionaire trope, but when I saw the title of this book, I couldn't resist it...and then I read the story line. I love the backstory to this one and the history between the two main characters. 

There were three friends in high school and college that started up Josh's company. One of them still works with him as his PR guy, the third dropped out of the partnership to stay in school and missed out on the vast wealth the other two eventually received. Caroline's brother is that third, but that's not her only issue with Josh. When she was a junior in high school she turned him down for a date. Two weeks later he saw her in a heavy petting session with the quarterback. An anonymous letter was sent to her father and resulted in her getting sent to a military boarding school abroad where her life was more than just miserable...she was abused for 2 years. She's never forgiven him. 

Now Josh is a huge CEO with tons of wealth and power at his fingertips, but he's trying to sway some big-name players in politics with his new venture and needs a makeover to make those new friends. That's where Caroline comes in. She's been instructed (blackmailed) to take him on as a client because her blackmailer who she calls Mr. X wants her to ferret out the plans for Josh's new company. Caroline is happy to do something to take the high-and-mighty Josh down, but that's before she re-meets him and realizes that there is much more than just a business arrangement between them. 

Like I said this is a trope that I knew would work for me because in my book there is nothing sexier than a geeky guy who doesn't understand or know his own appeal. Josh is that guy. While he is great at flirting with Caroline, he truly has no idea of his own appeal for her. In his mind he'll always be that awkward 10th grader that she shot down in high school. As a reader, I loved that. I also really enjoyed the conflict that Caroline finds herself in. While she never appreciates the blackmail or the idea of breaking the law, she does truly have issues with Josh and wants to hurt him in his pocketbook. She always saw him as the guy willing to do whatever to make his goals and successes, no matter who he trampled along the way. Hiring her now to re-make him so he can get this deal just solidifies that idea she has of him. But that isn't Josh. While he absolutely is business savvy, he is not the heartless jerk she's painted in her mind. She has no idea what all happened behind the scenes back then. 

Josh is one of those characters that I just loved. He's a sweet, vulnerable guy mixed in with hot, sexy flirt. I loved the chemistry between the two and enjoyed every single minute of reading their story. It was a great one and I definitely recommend it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fatal Hearts by Norah Wilson

Title: Fatal Hearts 
Author: Norah Wilson
My Rating: A

Genre: Romantic Suspense 
Series: -
Main Characters: Boyd and Hayden
Release Date: August 2014
Publisher: Montlake
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
The reports stated Josh McBride’s death was from sudden cardiac arrest, but homicide detective Boyd McBride can’t shake the idea that his identical twin brother’s death was somehow connected to his search for the adopted boys’ birth parents. Josh must have been close to the truth…and it cost him his life.

When Boyd comes to medical resident Hayden Walsh’s ER looking for answers, she agrees to help with his investigation because Josh was a friend. As unnerved as she is by her attraction to the detective, she knows it will be impossible to avoid romantic entanglement…and the mess that comes with it.

The investigation uncovers dangerous secrets, and Boyd and Hayden’s passion ignites. Only they can keep each other safe from a threat that lurks inside a life-long mystery.

My Review:
Sigh...this book was just so good. The premise of the story is that both the main characters are tied together by their love of one man, Josh, who died at the age of 35 of a sudden heart attack. 

For Boyd, this hit especially close because they were identical twin brothers with all the closeness that entail. He's obviously devastated, but so is Hayden. Josh was her best friend and she thought of him as her big older brother, not realizing that Josh was in love with her. Boyd knew, although he'd never met Hayden until the funeral. 

Boyd is a cop and he just doesn't feel as though everything is kosher with Josh's sudden death...mainly because he'd had a breakthrough that morning about finding their birth parents. Boyd had no idea what that breakthrough was though because by the time he returned the call, Josh was dead. 

The heartbreak that circles the story is so emotional and so well done. I love a bit of angst with my romance and this story definitely has that. I had a pretty good idea way early in the story about the outcome and the suspense line, but that didn't affect my enjoyment of the revelations at all. In fact, I couldn't wait to get to the expose to find out whether I was guessing right or not...I was, but it was still amazingly done and crafted. I loved the ins and outs of the suspense weaving. 

I also really loved both Boyd and Hayden. For Hayden, Boyd has Josh's face so it's a bit weird for her to be attracted to him. But the chemistry is definitely there between the two of them that she didn't have with Josh. For Boyd, he feels like he's betraying his twin by acting on his feelings for Hayden. Josh loved her and hoped for a future eventually with her. The conflict for both these characters felt very real and believable. 

Boyd is a detective and Hayden is a doctor. I loved the way that their careers played into the story and the suspense story line. So many times when a cop is away from his home turf, there is some extra drama because he's stepping on the locals' toes by trying to do their jobs. I liked the way Morgan accepted Boyd and that it, pretty much, wasn't an issue. Again, it just had a more believable feel to it the way it was written. No easy drama just because it could be written in that way. I like that Norah Wilson doesn't go for the easy conflicts, but develops deeper ones...a sign of a great writer. 

This was definitely an example of REALLY GREAT romantic suspense writing, but my favorite part of the story had to be the romance.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Risky Business by Melissa Cutler

Title: Risky Business
Author: Melissa Cutler
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Bomb Squad #1
Main Characters: Liam and Alison
Release Date: August 2014
Publisher: InterMix
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot 

Story Overview:
Welcome to Destiny Falls, New York, home of the Bomb Squad—an ice hockey team full of rugged military heroes. But the season’s biggest match-up isn’t on the ice as one of their own prepares to go head to head with his new boss…

Allison Whitely’s ex left her with a mountain of debt and Cloud Nine, a struggling boat rental business. With zero job skills, her only hope of getting back in the black lies in a brooding ex-soldier who has her seeing red…

Theo Lacroix’s teammates are counting on their star player to help them win an upcoming high profile hockey game. But when a sexy tornado of a woman sweeps into town and expects him to help her with Cloud Nine, Theo is tempted to skate away from it all.

Theo vowed to never again be someone’s knight in shining armor, but his feelings—and desire—for Allison are becoming harder to ignore. He longs to save her, but to win Allison’s love, he’ll have to throw out his old playbook and take the ultimate risk…playing from the heart.

Books in the Bomb Squad hockey series:
Risky Business (Bomb Squad #1)- August 2014
Undefeated (Bomb Squad #2) - November 2014
Game Changer (Bomb Squad #3) - April 2015

My Review:
Yes, I cried in this one. Yes, it's that good. There's just something so tragic about both Allison and Liam's background. These are wounded characters, but in the best way because regardless of how contentious things are between them in the beginning, they are perfect for one another. 

The story starts with Allison and her morbid fear of water. After a near-drowning at age seven, every significant, life-altering (i.e. bad) event in Allison's life has happened in the midst of water...including finding out that her husband is a skeezy criminal...which threw her into the middle of a deluging rainstorm. She has a phobia, so it's a bit ironic when in the divorce and criminal proceedings with her husband that the only thing she gets out of it is a boat rental company located at the edge of a canal. 

But Liam had dibs on this company first. He's run it and kept it afloat for 10 years and had an agreement from Allison's husband to sell it to him. Something that he wants Allison to honor. But Allison has nothing else...including a place to live (the business has an apartment located upstairs) so she refuses to honor that agreement. 

If Liam was anyone else, he could just leave and find a new job and home (oh yeah, his home is one of the boats owned by the business, too...something else that was agreed upon to be sold to him). But Liam suffered a debilitating traumatic brain injury in the Canadian Army which left it impossible to do most jobs. The explanation of his issues left me in tears for what he lost...this guy...gah, it broke my heart. 

I love how this story progressed. Even though both characters are physically drawn to the other, they truly hate each other's guts just because of the threat the other has on their very livelihood. They are both simply in survival mode which means they are attacking the thing that threatens them and it made for some seriously sparking scenes when they clashed. I loved how Allison gets a special pleasure out of pushing Liam's buttons and how he gradually adjusts his reactions to that throughout the book. The scenes in the bar were fantastic and I loved them drunk together. Such a sweet, funny, romantic scene.

I loved the town and the entire story line about the Bomb Squad hockey, sexy, wounded ex-soldiers that have overcome and now play some rocking, competitive hockey. Tell me that's not a winner...and the guys are awesome. But they've all been wounded. There is some serious angst to be found in this crew. But at the same time, they are protective and alpha...I love how they encircled Allison when it looked like things could fall apart for her. They are loyal and protective and the same time they all have a great, fun bromance happening between all the guys. I cannot wait for more of these books. 

My only complaint...I want these in print so I can keep them on my keeper shelf!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Top Off Tuesday: Redeeming Justice by Suzanne Halliday

This is one of those series for me.
Every single cover is just made up of awesome! 
This is book #3, but I'll share the first two, too (although I've featured #1 before on this meme)...
Just because I love you all!!
Redeeming Justice by Suzanne Halliday

Story Overview:
Sometimes …Happily Ever After comes with a price 

Alex Marquez wears many hats. Sometimes he’s the slightly patrician Don of a family with deep Spanish roots. Other times he’s a brilliant tech-God and CEO of an exclusive security agency. He’s also a boss, a musician, and a fierce friend. At the core though he’s a former Special Forces 
Commander, wounded in action, haunted by the heavy burdens of regret and what ifs that linger to this day. For him, personal redemption would never come. Too much darkness, not enough light. 

And then Meghan O’Brien swoops into his life. She’s a ball busting curvy goddess who instantly pushes all Alex’s buttons. 

When ghosts from the past threaten to destroy their relationship, Alex pushes her away. Meghan has a promising life ahead while his was blown to bits in a war zone. Hurt and bewildered, she comes to realize that loving Alex as she did was not a guarantee of an easy future. He had demons and if she took him on, those nightmares and the emotional aftermath were going to be coming along for the ride. 

Was the redemption Alex sought to be found in her arms? Would finding his soul through the love of another finally send the demons packing and lay the past to rest?

It's so fun to see so many people get excited about this meme.
(But honestly, we're looking at gorgeous men and talking about can that be a bad thing?)
If you want to play along, we have a plethora of Top Off Tuesday buttons for you to choose from:
created by Deb at HEA Romances with Kick

created by Missie at The Unread Reader


created by Diana at Book of Secrets

Pick one...or all and post it to your blog post.

Then find you a gorgeous cover featuring a gorgeous male specimen and head on over to The Geeky Book Blogger and post your link. We can't wait to see what good books you've found!

Hosted by Geeky Book Blogger's Book BlogOn a Book Bender, & Smitten with Reading (me!)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bliss by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau

Title: Bliss
Author: Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau
My Rating: A

Genre: Sci-Fi Romance (m/m)
Series: -
Main Characters: Rory and Tate
Release Date: August 2014
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
They're always happy.

Rory James has worked hard all his life to become a citizen of the idyllic city-state of Beulah. Like every other kid born in the neighboring country of Tophet, he’s heard the stories: No crime or pollution. A house and food for everyone. It’s perfect, and Rory is finally getting a piece of it.

So is Tate Patterson. He’s from Tophet, too, but he’s not a legal immigrant; he snuck in as a thief. A city without crime seems like an easy score, until he crashes into Rory during a getaway and is arrested for assaulting a citizen. Instead of jail, Tate is enrolled in Beulah’s Rehabilitation through Restitution program. By living with and serving his victim for seven years, Tate will learn the human face of his crimes.

If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. Tate is fitted with a behavior-modifying chip that leaves him unable to disobey orders—any orders, no matter how dehumanizing. Worse, the chip prevents him from telling Rory, the one man in all of Beulah who might care about him, the truth: in a country without prisons, Tate is locked inside his own mind.

My Review:
This book is more than a bit frightening just in how easy it is to see how something like this could happen. It's set in a future world, where there are different areas of the world. Beulah is the perfect least on the surface. Everything is beautiful. There's very little crime. It's clean. It's happy. But all of that comes at a price. If a person commits  a crime in this society, they are subjected to restitution and rehabilitation through the justice system. The first step in this process is a chip which is implanted in their head...supposedly just to curb any violent tendencies. What it actually does is make them do whatever their sponsor wants them to do. Then they have to live with that sponsor for seven years to make restitution for their crime against them while they rehabilitate. It's meant to give a human face to their crimes when they become part of the family. This book is about the abuse of all those pretty ideas. 

This is a male/male romance and both the male leads are abused through this system. Tate is the criminal who stole into Beulah from the neighboring Topher where he's barely scraping by for his daughter. Knowing that Beulah doesn't have jails, he came there to steal enough for him to provide for his 4 yo daughter. But trying to escape, he ran into Rory, who'd also just arrived in Beulah, and hit him as a distraction. It's an open and shut case of assault, caught on camera. Tate has no defense...he did it and rather than face a life conviction, he pleads guilty and accepts the plea bargain of 7 years in service to Rory. 

Rory has no idea what the chip does to it basically forces Tate to do whatever Rory wants. The chip forces Tate to please Rory. Rory is gay. Tate is not, but the chips are set so that Tate gets sexual pleasure out of pleasing Rory and blinding pain in his head when he doesn't. It sets up for a very messed up set of circumstances. Rory is basically raping Tate, but he has no idea because the chip keeps Tate from even speaking about the chip's effects. Tate is trapped inside his head. But Rory can't be blamed either. He has NO IDEA and my heart broke for him once he realized what was happening. 

The story is horrifying and yet, at the same time, extremely compelling. It's a good example of how dangerous these types of modifications can be in the wrong hands. It's entirely too easy to see how something like this could happen. I enjoyed both of Tate and Rory's characters. Despite the circumstances, they both come from Topher and become friends and more. I had no idea how a happy ending could come from any of this, but the authors pulled it off beautifully. 

The story is riveting and I enjoyed reading it a great deal. Warning: it is extremely dark and there is non-con involved, because regardless of what Tate is saying, his mental voice doesn't concur, but the chip keeps him from speaking out. If you think you can handle that aspect of it, I highly recommend the book. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.