Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Demon Does it Better by Linda Wisdom

Title: A Demon Does it Better
Author: Linda Wisdom
My Rating: A

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Demon #2
Main Characters: Lili & Jared
Release Date: January 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks
ISBN: 978-1402236723 
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy


Story Overview:
Bestselling author Linda Wisdom, with 13 million category romances sold, is working to build her single title audience with the hottest new area of the romance category– sexy demon heroes.
Lovely witch Lili Carter takes a job at a paranormal hospital where patients have been disappearing. There she encounters Jared, a dangerously sexy demon on a mission that gets Lili into a world of trouble. Lili can't avoid Jared for long and soon they find themselves creating a whole new kind of magick...


My Review:

I really, really liked this book. It's an interesting story-line set-up. Intrigue is definitely the word for this book. Lili is a doctor and a witch and has come to work at a paranormal hospital because her friend who used to work there disappeared without a trace ten months ago. While working there, she meets a demon, Jared, who is in the psych ward. The strange thing is...she saw him just a few days ago while shopping. He caught her attention then and now she is even more intrigued after she discovers that he is locked in the psych ward supposedly without a way to get free.

The psych ward of this hospital is more like a dungeon than anything medical. There are only 7 patients there and the doc in charge has complete control of their care. He is definitely a proponent of the Victorian era way of doing things and to say that these patients are being mistreated and abused is an understatement. The problem is that the doc in charge is in charge of the entire hospital and highly respected. Lili can't go in and just start causing problems, no matter how much she wants to do so. That will only result in her getting fired.

I completely connected with Lili and Jared. Lili is tough and very assured of her powers as a witch and as a doctor. By the same token, though, she knows her limitations and is really good about backing down when she knows that she is about to get into a situation that she can't handle. I enjoyed that honesty. Jared's character is a little bit more complicated. He has been declared legally insane and has been horribly abused while in the hospital. Within the confines of the hospital, he is dirty and volatile, but when Lili sees him outside of the hospital, he is clean and completely charming. There is a ton of mystery around his character....what is exactly going on with him? How did he end up in this position? What is the doc using him for?

I would really label this book as paranormal suspense. There is a GREAT mystery story line with the main doctor and what exactly is happening at this hospital. It's hard to see how it's all going to work out for Lili and Jared when she is a doctor and he is a patient...a psych patient at that. I loved the vulnerability that their positions put them in...it made for great and entertaining reading. Exactly the kind of book that I love. There was lots of paranormal fun too. The hospital and the village where Lili lives are built for paranormals of all sorts. It's filled with magick. She herself is a powerful witch. She has a close friend who is a Were shifter and a talking pet cat who is actually Cleopatra reincarnated.

Like I said, I completely enjoyed this book. This is book #2 in this series, but I haven't read book #1 and never missed any information because of that lack. This is a completely stand-alone novel. That being said though, I am off to the bookstore today to buy book #1, Demons are a Girl's Best Friend, simply because I did enjoy this book so much. I want to read more along this line.

Friday, December 30, 2011

My new Auto-buy Authors found in 2011

As you all know, I read a LOT. There is a catch-22 in that because it enables me to find so many new wonderful authors and this year was no exception to that. I have sooo many new favorite authors that I have discovered in the last year, but there aren't many that qualify to be on my Auto-Buy list (meaning, I will buy whatever they write...no questions asked. I don't care what it's about. I automatically know it will be good.) Below are the two that have made the list this year:

Jill Shalvis
Jill's website

I have read 13 of Jill's books (that link will take you to all of my Jill Shalvis reviews for the year) this year (I think that she qualifies as my most-read author too) and loved every single one of them. She writes contemporary romance and her alpha-guys tend to have a rugged outdoorsy quality to them that I just love. Jill herself lives in the Tahoe area and you see that outdoor quality come through her books. My favorite series of hers (the Wilder brothers series- came out in 2009 and looks like maybe it's slated for re-issue in 2012) takes place in that area and is about 3 brothers who run an outdoor adventure business.

Her books are always fun and entertaining. The lowest rating that any of them have earned has been a B and I think that at least 11-12 of them earned variations of the A rating.

Another thing that I love is that she writes series books that are all related to each other. She ties in the characters so that you see them throughout the whole series which helps for you, as the reader, to connect more fully with the characters. I just love Jill's books. They qualify as my perfect style of read. They are entertaining. They are fun. They are smexy. And they usually have an emotional moment or two that I love. I connect with them and she is definitely on my auto-buy list from here on out!



Julie James
Julie's website
Okay, we are going to get the complaint about Julie out there before anything else...she doesn't write fast enough. ;o) She only has four books (the link will take you to those reviews) out so far (another one releasing in April, 2012.) 

Luckily, those four books are so brilliantly written that they qualify to be re-read over and over again while we wait for the next one to come out (she comes out with one about every 9 mos to a year...and she did have a baby this year, so I guess that she has a good excuse...LOL.)

I don't know even where to start with Julie's books. They are so good and so entertaining. I laugh out loud constantly whenever I read one of her books. Her heroines are smart and snarky and I just love them. In real life, Julie is a lawyer and her brains show through her writing. There's a sharpness to her writing that is so well-done. There is always an antagonistic relationship between her heroes and heroines at the first that evolves into some serious passion, but Julie keeps her books in the mild-spicy zone with the sex scenes.

My other auto-buy authors that I already loved before 2011:
*Kristan Higgins- contemporary romance
*Christy Reece- romantic suspense
*Cindy Gerard- romantic suspense
*Larissa Ione- paranormal romance
*Rachel Gibson- contemporary romance
*Victoria Dahl- contemporary romance (I don't read her historicals)

So who are your auto-buy authors?? Not that I need any more suggestions, but the TBR hasn't fallen over and killed me yet. LOL!

Scrumptious by Amanda Usen



Title: Scrumptious
Author: Amanda Usen
My Rating: B-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: -
Main Characters: Joe and Marly
Release Date: January 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks
ISBN978-1402259821
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Story Overview:
Joe Rafferty is just as mouthwatering as the food he cooks. But if he thinks he's going to waltz in and take over her kitchen, he's denser than a thick slice of chocolate ripple cheesecake. Marly has invested too much of her life in Chameleon to hand off the restaurant to someone else—especially a cocky-as-all-get-out superstar chef. But there's no denying the man knows how to light her fire. Question is: Can she have the sizzle without feeling the burn?

My Review:
There were aspects of this book that I really loved. I loved the restaurant setting with the craziness that happens in the kitchen. I loved that BOTH Marly & Joe are players when it comes to sex. Usually in romance novels, it's just the guy be who can have blase sex. I liked the honesty of both Marly and Joe's attitudes. 

But there were other aspects that just didn't quite work for me. At about the 3/4 mark, I felt like the conflict between the H/h (the fact that they just want sex with no commitment) had been drug out for too long. I wasn't buying it as a valid entity at that point. I also didn't like the resolution with the restaurant and the owner's ex.  That whole scene just seemed a little too contrite for me, but that could have been because I was losing patience with the novel at that point rather than an actual issue within the story. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The details about the inner-workings of a restaurant kitchen were done brilliantly without bogging down the story at all which was amazing to me, because there is a lot of detail in this book about cooking, prep work, and how a kitchen staff flows within a restaurant. I liked both of the main characters and really liked how they initially came together. The other main character in the book is Olivia, the owner of the restaurant. Her character had issues and I am not sure how much of that was problems with defining her character or that is just the way that she is....seriously a wishy-washy character that drove me insane the last 1/4 of the book.

If this book had been resolved and ended at the 3/4 mark, I think that I would have rated it much higher. I was entertained and enjoying it up to that point, but then it just started to drag out for me. I will definitely be watching this author for more to come though, because I did enjoy her voice and creativity.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My absolute favorites of 2011...Giveaway!

This is going to be a huge post, but stick around because it will also include a
GIVEAWAY at the bottom of the post!

2011 was a HUGE reading year for me.
I read 425+ books...most of them reviewed on here.
There were a LOT of VERY GOOD books.
Higher than A+ rating: 6 books
A+ rating: 53 books
A rating: 107 books
That's a total of 166 books that rated A or higher!?!

To say that it was a good reading year is putting it mildly. As I write my reviews, I tag the posts that I think may make my end of the Best of the Best list. There were 59 books on that list. To make the final cut here though, there were several things these books had to do... Mainly, they have to linger. I read a TON...as a result, I don't remember details. All of these books below... I remember them vividly...even the ones that I read in January.

These are in order of how much I love them!

1. Turn It Up by Inez Kelley
Contemporary Romance
To me, this was just the perfect book. A contemporary romance, it was fun and funny, it was incredibly sexy, but it also had an amazingly emotional twist in the story line that touched me deeply. My favorite trope is friends to lovers and this book did that story line AMAZINGLY well. My number 1 read for the year. I loved it!!! Read 2-3 times.


2. Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinley
Romantic Suspense
With all my reading this year, I expanded my reading genres. Before this year, I had never read any M/m romances, but I am hooked now. This book was so good, but so much of what made it so incredibly good was the impossible romance between the FBI agent and the lifelong criminal who works for the mob. There was so much depth in this book... not only the romance, but the things in life that hit those gray areas between right and wrong. The book is AMAZING. It's gorgeous. It's emotional. It just has an incredible romance and I fell in love with the book. Read 2 times.


3. Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye
Contemporary Romance
Oh, what to say about this book besides the fact that I LOVE IT! Two people who meet in a darkened elevator and make a soul-deep connection without ever having that initial visual impression. It was beautifully and hauntingly written. The book is fun to read and features an emotionally scarred hero...you all know that I love those right? Hehe. LOVED this book. If you get nothing else from this list, go buy this e-book. You won't regret it. Read 2 times.



4. Wild Card by Lora Leigh
Romantic Suspense
The book that so many love to hate. LOL! Personally I ADORED this book, but be forewarned...a lot of people find the story line in this one to be just too much. But I love that about this book. This was a book that I was bawling by page 10...yes, it is one of those, but I love it because it is so emotional. To me, this is a gorgeous book and I will reread it over and over again. I am okay with suspending believability for this highly entertaining read. Read 4 times.


5. Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning
Erotic Contemporary Romance
This is the book that helped me learn to love music again...real rock music. I love the Sinners and this is the first book in that series. This is an erotic romance and I just loved everything about this story line. I like the relationships within the band. I like the unlikely romance between the H/h. I liked the peek into band life. I like the smexy sex! It's just a fun book to read. Read 3 times.


6. Destiny Calls by Samantha Wayland
Erotic Contemporary Romance
This is another book that falls into the category of new genres that I read this year. This book features a triad relationship F/M/M, but the beginnings of this relationship is a strong friendship between the three. Yes, it is another friends to lovers trope. Samantha Wayland is a brilliant writer. Everything about this book is written so well and so deeply and my goodness...this is one smexy book! Read 1 time.

7. Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare
Romantic Suspense

This was one of those series that I devoured this year, but this book stood out....way out... above the others in this series. The reason for that...the hero, Marc! Wow! Pamela Clare wrote a brilliant hero with this one. Definitely an alpha, but one with such an incredible vulnerable side. Just thinking about this book makes me feel mushy. I think that it's time for a re-read! Read 1 time.


8. Supernaturally Kissed by Stacey Kennedy
Paranormal Romance

I read this book earlier in the year when Stacey had self-published it (as Stolen Dreams) and fell in love with the story. Ellora's Cave picked the book up and Stacey revised it and I love it even more now especially with the new epilogue added to the book. There is a special magic to this book that features a ghost as the hero. This is just the first book and I cannot wait to see where this series goes from here. Read 3 times.


9. Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey
Contemporary Romance
This is the book that I love to gift, mainly because this is the way that my family loves to camp. I loved the romance and the fun family dynamic. This is just a fun read that I recommend for EVERYONE! The good news is that as of last week, this book is also available in print edition! Read 5 times.


10. Something about You by Julie James
Contemporary Romance
One of my new favoritest authors. Everything Julie writes is amazing in the Contemporary romance genre, but this book tops them all for me. I love this H/h combination and the chemistry of this book. I laughed out loud all the way through the book...and shed a few tears too. Just an incredible read! Read 2 times.

11. Blood Law by Karin Tabke
Paranormal Romance

12. Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead
Urban Fantasy

13. Under Fire by Jo Davis
Romantic Suspense


14. Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis
Contemporary Romance


15. How to Worship a Goddess by Stephanie Julian
Paranormal Romance


16. Infamous by Suzanne Brockmann
Contemporary Romance with slight paranormal twist


17. Space in His Heart by Roxanne St. Claire
Romantic Suspense


18. Hot Zone by Catherine Mann
Romantic Suspense


19. Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison
Paranormal Romance


20. Sweet Reward by Christy Reece
Romantic Suspense

***********
Now for the Giveaway!


This week is my One-Year blog anniversary, 
so I am giving away 5 of these books 
(your choice!)

*Simply leave a comment here*
***AND be a follower of my blog. ***

I will choose a random winner on January 7th.
This giveaway is open to EVERYONE, anywhere!


Supernaturally Kissed by Stacey Kennedy



Title: Supernaturally Kissed
Author: Stacey Kennedy
My Rating: A

Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Series: Frostbite #1
Main Characters: Tess & Kipp
Release Date: December 2011
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
ISBN
e-book
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.


Story Overview:
Ghosts harass and annoy Tess Jennings to save their souls. Sometimes she helps them. Other times she ignores them. But one ghost will give her no choice.
Kipp McGowen, a cop with the Memphis Police Department, will stop at nothing to gain her help, including using his ghostly charms to seduce her.
Tess must help solve the five year old cold case of Hannah Reid, because solving the case will save Kipp. But a bigger problem presents itself. Tess is falling in love with a ghost. Now she must decide. Keep Kipp forever or find the killer…


My Review:

Did I love this book? OMG, YES! This is a paranormal, but so completely different from most paranormals that are on the market right now. This book is incredibly creative and entertaining. It remains a light, fun read while at the same time, it's a suspenseful book dealing with the seriousness of life and death. This is a ghost story, but it is not creepy at all. It's a sweet and seriously sexy paranormal romance!

Tess has seen ghosts since she was 17. Sometimes she helps them, but most times, she tries to ignore them because she doesn't need the world knowing that she needs to be locked up in a crazy house. That's her plan when Kipp shows up...to simply ignore him, although she does admit to herself that he is seriously sexy, while she is trying to ignore him. But she finds that impossible when he starts seducing her while she is out on a date. Seriously LOL moments in this scene!

Kipp was a gorgeous, smart cop who was murdered while investigating a cold-case. He's different from most ghosts in that he remembers every detail from his life. Most only have very vague recollections. He is very attracted to Tess and doesn't try to hide it. He's tough. He's smart. He's gorgeous. He also just died a week ago and is trying to come to grips with that which gives him a vulnerable side that is so attractive. OMG, I completely could see how Tess fell in love with him. He's just perfect!

Kipp and Tess are absolutely perfect for each other and it is absolutely gut-wrenching and heart-breaking to read/watch. They can't even touch each other, but there is this soul-deep connection between them. It's really beautiful...and is making me cry right now while thinking about it....Wow, I never cry after-the-book.Yes, this book got to me. Such a beautiful love story.

BTW, they may not be able to touch, but the sex scenes in this book (yes, there are some) are SCORCHING HOT! Huge kudos to Stacey Kennedy for her writing because that couldn't have been easy to do...I did mention, they can't touch, right?!? Hot, HoT, HOT scenes!!

This is the first book in an ongoing series and I have to admit that I will not be missing a single book in this series. I love the premise of this story and I love both of Tess and Kipp's characters. There is also a great cast of supporting characters in this book...Kipp's partner, Zach; Tess' best friend, Caley; Max & Eddie, other cops. Tess is officially working for the police dept. now and I can't wait to see what happens from here! Such an amazing start to what promises to be a fantastically fun and romantic series!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sizzle by Julie Garwood (audiobook)



Title: Sizzle
Author: Julie Garwood
Narrator: Susan Denaker
My Rating: B-

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Buchanan #8
Main Characters: Lyra & Sam
Release Date: December 2009
Publisher: Randomhouse audio
ISBN: audiobook
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy





Story Overview:
Lyra Prescott, a Los Angeles film student, is closing in on graduation and facing important decisions about her future. She's already been offered a job at her hometown TV station, an opportunity that could ultimately launch her dream career as a film editor. But heading back home would also mean dealing with her overprotective brothers, social-climbing mother, and eccentric grandmother. Unsure of her future, Lyra dives into work on her final school assignment: a documentary transformed by a twist of fate into a real-life horror film.
After she unwittingly captures a shocking crime on camera, a rash of mysterious, treacherous incidents convince Lyra that she's trapped in a sinister scenario headed for a violent ending. Running scared, she turns to her best friend, Sidney Buchanan, whose connections bring dauntless and devilishly handsome FBI agent Sam Kincaid into Lyra's life. As the noose of deadly intrigue tightens and the feelings between them deepen, Lyra and Sam must place their faith in each other's hands—and stand together against the malevolent forces about to break loose.


No one mixes life-and-death suspense with feverish desire better than Julie Garwood. In Sizzle, she burns hotter and brighter than ever, keeping the action and passion blazing till the incredible, unforgettable end.




My Review:
I listened to this book on audio (unabridged.) This was an 8-disc audio version and it was literally disc #3 before I felt like the story even began. Everything before that was simply setting up the story. To me, that seemed a little extreme and made it really difficult to become immersed in this story. In fact, it took a whole month before I listened to the entire story, because I just didn't ever get that caught up in the story.


But, overall, it was an enjoyable audiobook and I truly loved the narrator and how she did the accents. Her Scottish brogue for Sam was gorgeous!


I personally think that this is a book that gets too bogged down in the details. The hit man and how horrible he is at his job; the couple who are holding the garage sale; the nitty gritty details of Lyra's class assignments with all of her different options, debating the camera angles, etc....there was soooo much time spent on describing the minute details of these things, and overall, I just don't think that they helped to move the story forward at all. 


I loved Lyra's and Sam's characters and would have loved the book if we could have just spent all that extra time with them. I even really enjoyed Sidney (Lyra's roommate) and her bodyguard Max...they would have been enjoyable.


There were moments when this book simply shined and gave me a glimmer of what it could have been, but unfortunately for me, it simply just fell flat. The overall saving grace of this audiobook for me was the incredible narrator. I never thought that a girl doing a male's Scottish brogue could be sexy, but it so was! Hehe!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top Off Tuesday: Can't Touch This by Marley Gibson


Can't Touch This by Marley Gibson
releasing: ??

Story Overview:
For Vanessa Virtue, all work and no play leads straight to temptation, one that's too hot to touch...or resist.

A well-deserved work promotion opens up a thrilling world that Vanessa could only long for until now: exotic travel, a corporate credit card, and the opportunity to ogle hunk-and-a-half Kyle Nettles. Unfortunately, their employer has a strict "no dating within the company" policy. So instead of succumbing to her feelings, Vanessa hones her flirtations on the competition: a rock star sales exec who works for their rival company.

Rory Ellery has dreamy blue eyes and a kiss that threatens to obliterate Vanessa's taboo crush on Kyle...and just might provide a great chance for spying on the competition. That is, unless Rory is actually spying on her. When Vanessa goes digging for dirt with Rory, what she uncovers is scandal-and risks losing her job completely. To make things right with her employer, she'll have to enlist Kyle's help. But to make things right with her soul, is she willing to risk her job and her security in order to open her heart to Kyle.


********
Join us (Felicia from The Geeky Book Blogger and Amanda from On a Book Bender and Me) as we celebrate those gorgeous hunky covers!! Thanks to Missie from The Unread Reader for creating our fabulous button.

Felicia is hosting the linky for this meme on her blog, so come play along....

*post a cover of a hot guy 
who just happens to be topless

*then go add your link to Felicia's blog!

Sweet Reward by Christy Reece



Title:  Sweet Reward
Author: Christy Reece
My Rating: A++

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: A Last Chance Rescue #9
Main Characters: Jared & Mia
Release Date: December 2011

ISBN: 978-0345524096
Publisher: Random House
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Story Overview:
WHEN RISK IS THE REWARD—LET THE DANGER BEGIN 


Adrenaline junkie Jared Livingston has found the perfect blend of exhilaration and danger in his new job at Last Chance Rescue. Raised to depend only on himself, Jared tried marriage, but the end of the relationship renewed his belief that he was meant to be a loner. Now a desperate plea from his ex-wife puts Jared in the unique position of using the skills she despised to rescue her missing daughter. The case brings Jared face-to-face with Mia Ryker, the only agent ever fired from LCR—for playing too far outside the box. Now Mia’s back, and as a team, they’re as compatible as fuel and fire—blowing off tension in each other’s arms, blowing open the secret life of a wealthy philanthropist and his shameful dealings. Their search for the innocent child takes them to places neither have been before—to the edge of danger and to the edge of their hearts.




My Review:


Last Chance Rescue...there has been 9 books to this series and EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. THEM. HAS. BEEN. PHENOMENAL. As the final book in this series (although Christy has said that she *might* revisit LCR at a later time,) this book did not disappoint in the least. Sweet Reward is the story of Jared and Mia.


Christy Reece writes some amazingly tortured heroes, but I think Jared is right up there at the top as my favorite...OMG, I loved his character, just because he is so full of angst (I really love me an angst-y hero.) Jared is reserved, unemotional, and sometimes brash (when it comes to putting his life on the line for a mission.) Even the boss at LCR, Noah McCall, sometimes wonders if there is truly a man under that hard facade because he never lets anything get in the way of his mission and perfection.


The complete antithesis to Jared's character is Mia's character. Mia was fired from LCR because she could not follow the rules, and she then opened her own Rescue business in Chicago. With Mia, what you see is what you get. Her life is full of adventure, happiness, and she does exactly what she wants. She is exuberant and so completely full of life. She is so completely unlike Jared, that he doesn't know what to make of her or how to react to her. She keeps him completely off-balanced. I really liked that aspect to their relationship. I love how she would make him laugh spontaneously, surprising even him. For me, what made this book work so well was their incredible chemistry, which surprised both of them.


This is a book where opposites definitely attract. Not only are Jared and Mia completely different in their entire outlook on life, but they also come from completely different backgrounds. Mia grew up as the daughter of a politically powerful diplomat. Jared was orphaned at age 6 and grew up in an abusive foster system. Christy seemed to do some special weaving of the story line within this book so that both of their stories come out very, very slowly throughout the extremely quick pace of the romance and suspense story lines. I loved the way that she drew out all the details of exactly why Mia and Jared are both the way that they are...and there are very specific reasons for that (no spoilers here though.)


There is plenty of angst, emotion, suspense, romance, smexy-action, and danger-action in this book to keep me extremely happy. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from Christy before the release date and spent Christmas Eve morning reading, when I really had other things that I needed to be working on. I could NOT put this book down, until I had read every single bit of it...it was just so good!


I am so sad to see the end of the LCR series, but this was a phenomenal book to end the series. This is a 9-book series, but don't let that number put you off. Almost all of these books can stand alone very easily, especially this one. There are references to the other couples from the other books because most of them are still operatives within LCR and they all work together, but other than that, these books each focus on the H/h story and their current mission. If you haven't read any Christy Reece's books, I HIGHLY recommend that you pick one up. This one released Dec. 27th and even though it's the last, it's a good place to start. I promise that once you read one Christy Reece LCR book, the next 8 books will be in your TBR soon!


The Last Chance Rescue Series:
1. Rescue Me- Eden & Jordan
2. Return to Me- Samara & Noah
3. Run to Me- Shea & Ethan
4. No Chance- Skylar & Gabe
5. Second Chance- Cole & Keeley
6. Last Chance- McKenna & Lucas
7. Sweet Justice- Honor & Seth
8. Sweet Revenge- Jamie & Dylan
9. Sweet Reward- Mia & Jared