Saturday, May 31, 2014

Antidote by Jack L. Pyke


Title: Antidote 
Author: Jack L. Pyke
My Rating: A


Genre: Erotic Romantic Suspense (m/m)
Series: Don't #2
Main Characters: Jack, Gray, and Jan
Release Date: May 2014
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic


Story Overview:
Video footage of Jack Harrison sleeping with Cutter, a man who has mutilated teenagers, should have stayed dead and buried with the man who had filmed it. Yet when footage to Jack’s past starts appearing on Internet porn sites, Jack’s whole world is again turned on its head. At first the porn links are done to unsettle, to disrupt Jack’s fire and ice world: all the sexed-up adrenaline of being caught between the pleasure to Gray Raoul's BDSM kink, and the gentleness of Jan Richards’ vanilla touch. But when the content of the porn sites force even Gray to turn his back on Jack, leaving Jack isolated and away from the full protection of the Master’s Circle, Jack is left at the mercy of a group of men who are out to alter Jack’s whole perception on his BDSM lifestyle.

As brutally as possible, Jack’s sex life is now live webcam feed for a whole new audience.
My Review:
There's a single word for this book...painful. This is a difficult story. Book #1, Don't, explained Jack's disorder issues, but this book delves so much deeper into those and Jack's poor messed up mental state. He's been in such a good place and then in this story it's all blown apart and neither Jan nor Gray are safe from the fall-out. Gah...this book made my heart hurt so much for all three of these characters. Throughout the book I just wanted to wrap up all three of them in a nice snuggly blanket and keep them safe because they are so far from that in this book...it hurts.

Complex characters make up the heart of this story... 

*Jack is a Master sub who survived teenage abuse, and came out of it with a whole host of mental disorders including OCD and a couple of others that are so much worse. Through his Dom/sub relationship with Gray for the last 11 years, he's learned how to manage and control his urges so that he can function pretty much normally. 

*Gray is a Master Dom. He works for MI5 and is a very powerful man within the bedroom and all of London. He is not a man to be messed with on any level. He's very proprietary about Jack, but underlying all that is a deep emotional tie to him and knowing what he's been through.

*Jan is the third in this triad. He's relatively new to this relationship. He's vanilla, but has still managed to work his way into this relationship with both Jack and Gray with true emotional feelings on all sides. He balances the two extremes that come through Jack and Gray...and gives them a sense of real normality. 

The three of them have been together for around 9 months I think at the start of this book. They survived the trauma from the first book where a Dom was messing with Jack's disorder issues, but they made it through it stronger as a triad because of it. This book has a similar trial that the three have to go through but with very different results. It's painful. It's horrific. And it's so emotionally painful to read because I love these three characters and all three of them are devastated in this book. It hurt to read, but at the same time, I couldn't put it down for even a second. I needed to know these three were going to survive and be okay...something that looks so doubtful throughout much of the book. 

Jack L. Pyke...wow this author has balls. This is a tough subject matter and she doesn't shy back from it. She also doesn't shrink back from shredding her characters. But she writes an incredibly powerful book that will stick with me for a long time to come. Now...for the next book, I'm really hoping she gives these poor characters some breathing room for happiness. Wow...they've earned it and need some good quality time for healing.

Warning: these books are NOT for the faint of heart. They are hardcore and don't hold anything back. This is the second book in this series and you really need to read book #1 before this one to understand the dynamic between Jack, Jan, and Gray and just how they all handle Jack's disorders normally. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Crazy from the Heat by Mercy Celeste


Title: Crazy from the Heat
Author: Mercy Celeste
My Rating: B

Genre: Romantic Suspense (m/m) 
Series: -
Main Characters: Grey and Paul
Release Date: April 2014
Publisher: MJC Press
Links to Purchase
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: hot



Story Overview:
Life is like high school.
For Grey Talbot teaching high school history was a choice. When a gorgeous blond punk of a kid walks into his class with attitude to spare, Grey fears his choice might just be his undoing.

High school kids kept getting younger and Paul Gaines stayed the same. Moving from one city narcotics unit to the next, his youthful looks and slender body made him a perfect undercover cop for the job.

Meeting the professor wasn't part of the deal. The man was smart sexy and off limits even if he was younger than Paul.

For Grey getting involved with one of his students, even if that student wore a badge meant playing with fire. Fire that could burn them both.
My Review:
I enjoy Mercy Celeste's style of writing and this book was no exception. I spotted this on her list for coming releases months ago and was so excited about the plot. I grew up on 21 Jumpstreet so this was right up my alley. (Note: there were also several references in the book to the show and I loved that, too.)

In the book, Grey is a history teacher in high school. He has his phD (and is why Paul calls him professor), although he's still very young... only 27-28. Paul is a student in his class, although he's actually an undercover 30 yo detective posing at the school with his "brother" (also a cop). Although, Paul's cover is blown with Grey fairly early in the book, this is still very much a forbidden relationship for both of them because it could cause one or probably both of them to lose their jobs. For Paul especially, he has a history of issues on his job which could ultimately be in jeopardy if he skirts the line again. But they have incredible chemistry and neither has been real sexually active lately so it's hard to resist the pull toward one another. 

I've read a couple of really scathing reviews for the book and I can see a few of the points as far as the believability of aspects of the story line, but hello...did you read the story description? I knew those aspects were going to be there going into it and it wasn't anything that kept me from enjoying the story. There were also mention of editing issues and honestly, I didn't see anything more than most books (including from the big-name publishers) have these days. Humans proofread and edit these books...and no matter how many people view them, things slip by. But if you are someone who is super-anal about those things, then you may want to stay away from this book as there were a few words that were wrong, etc.

There was a LOT revealed at the very end with lots of twists and double-crosses. It was a bit confusing about what exactly was truth and what exactly was acting and tricking other people into confessing. I did get lost with the exact facts, besides who ultimately was in charge of the entire coverup... and that surprised me as well as another little twist which I totally didn't see coming. I love it when I get shocks like that. 

But overall, I'm so glad I picked this one up. I already knew that I liked the author, but did worry after reading a few of the reviews. I shouldn't have worried. The book worked for me and provided great entertainment for a few hours time. I also feel the need to go back and re-watch some 21 Jumpstreet episodes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bones by Garrett Leigh

Title: Bones
Author: Garrett Leigh
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m) 
Series: Blue Boy Studios #2
Main Characters: Cam and Sasha
Release Date: May 2014
Publisher: Loose ID
Links to Purchase
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
Cam is a veteran porn star at Blue Boy Studios. Known as Mr. Nice Guy, he’s the top every newbie bottom wants to be paired with.

But in recent months his beloved hardcore scenes have dried up. Instead, he finds himself stuck with a string of monotonous foreplay scenes. He takes his frustration to his boss, and warped kind of lover, Jon Kellar, but Jon won’t bend. Cam is a commodity and will do as he’s told…in every way.

Cam’s frustration builds, but a chance meeting with a hot BMXer distracts him. Sasha Tate is gorgeous, warm and wonderful; everything Cam has ever wanted. They bond over shared interests and a sizzling mutual attraction. Cam is exhilarated and thrilled, until his chosen profession gets in the way.

Sasha pulls back, and before Cam can fix it, life comes at him from all fronts. A crisis threatens much more than his relationship with Sasha, and as his world implodes he begins to realize that life will never be the same again.


My Review:
This book went places I never expected it to go and I loved that about it. Honestly, I started the book late at night and was about to go to bed. The book was good, but I was tired. But then something happened in the story and I couldn't put it down until I hit "the end". I just never expected that twist, but it made this book so good. I love that Garrett Leigh went there with the story. 

Cam is a guy struggling. He's been doing porn for a while as a top. Last year his mom left his dad and the entire family and it threw Cam for a loop. He began to unravel a bit although no one ever really realized it...even him. He just knows that he feels unsettled and that nothing is right anymore. And he's right...it's not. He's trying to fix his life with meaningless sex simply to connect. Something that's just leaving him feeling more hollow and empty at every turn.

Then he meets Sasha and feels a connection, but Sasha is enigmatic. One moment, he acts like he's just as into Cam, but then he will turn around and do a total 180 in the next moment. The mixed signals he's sending is certainly not helping Cam's frame of mind, but it all made so much more sense when everything was revealed and thankfully, I was completely WRONG in what I thought was going on with him. whew! I would NOT have liked it if the story had gone there...LOL. 

Cam's going through a transition in this book, but so is the Blue Boy Studios...THANK YOU, Garrett Leigh. I love what happened with the studio in this book and think it's going to set up for so much better books to come. I can't wait to see what you do with the story lines to come. And with that segue, I should probably mention Levi and Sonny, the mc's from book #1 of this series. They were in this one too...quite a bit, in fact. But things aren't all good there...which is good for the realism of the series, but I will admit, I'm worried about them and where their characters are going. :(

But regardless, I can't wait for more installments from this series. It's definitely a good one.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spellbound in Sleepy Hollow Anthology

Title: Spellbound In Sleepy Hollow Anthology 
Author: Patricia Eimer, Rosalie Lario, Boone Brux
My Rating: B+ overall


Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Release Date: May 2014
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Links to Purchase:




Story Overview:
The Von Tassel sisters are in deep. With a new inn opening up to non-magic guests, these three witches have enough to worry about, but after a deal with the Headless Horseman, all three Von Tassel sisters must find their true loves by All Hallow's Eve or forever be trapped as ghosts in Sleepy Hollow like their ill-fated aunties.

Will Stephanie be able to forgive her playboy ex? Will Bri be able to win back her childhood cruch-turned-ghost hunter? Will Lexi be able to sway her supernatural employee? And will they all be able to fall in love by the week's end?

Bewitching Her Enemy by Patricia Eimer
Characters: Carson and Stephanie
My Rating: B
My Review:
This was the introductory novella to the overall story of the inn and the family curse that all three sisters are trying to break. As a result, Patricia Eimer had a daunting task...set up three novellas AND write her story. Her story is about Stephanie, the screw-up sister, and her former love Carson. There was a lot to establish in this first novella...how the inn works and the sisters' plan for making it work for non-magicals to visit too; the curse holding the Aunts in place at the inn; the complicated love story of 225 yo ghosts, Aunt Katarina and Brom; the political mechanisms of the witch government; and how the headless horseman came into play in all this. 

It's a lot, but overall, Patricia Eimer managed it pretty well. It was an entertaining read and definitely kept my interest. I didn't get as attached to Stephanie and Carson as I would have liked, but honestly, I think that's just because there was so much more to cover in this story. I didn't get a chance to really know them all that well. But it will be interesting to see how the rest of the stories play out and I know we will get to see and know Carson and Stephanie better through them. 

Under His Spell by Rosalie Lario
Characters: Jason and Bri
My Rating: A
My Review:
Oh, I really liked this one. Jason and Bri were friends one summer when she was 13. He never realized she had a crush on him and he broke her heart. Now, as an adult, he hosts a ghosthunter's show on TV. His show has ruined some businesses, so Bri is less than thrilled when he shows up. Even though she feels the same electrical awareness from him and she has 5 days to find her true love, she can't get involved with him.

This was a twist on the friends to lovers trope, because the two knew each other once upon a time. I liked them together and that they had that history. Jason is still confused about why she got so angry with him that summer so I liked that they had to work through their past too, even with the chemistry sizzling between them now. I liked both of them and really, really enjoyed their portion of the story. The scenes in the forest and garden and attic all had a dark, mysterious, but still romantic quality to them that really strengthened that feel in the story. 

Hexing Her Ex by Boone Brux
Characters: Tristan and Lexi
My Rating: A-
My Review:
This story features one of every girl's fantasies....the hot, sexy handyman who's really more than he seems. Tristan and Lexi dated briefly in jr. high and high school. But then he left and never came back until Lexi was hiring a handyman for the Inn. Since he came back, they've never had more than a professional relationship although Lexi has enjoyed the views of him working outside her window. That changes in this story.

I liked the way this one finished out the entire book and all three stories. I enjoyed Tristan and Lexi's story and seeing them get hot and heavy again. I liked that she really didn't fight it...knowing how hot he always was in the sack, but never expecting anymore. Lexi's scenes with her ghost auntie were great and I loved what a character this aunt was despite her horrific history and ending in life. I really enjoyed the twists in Tristan's story too...that really worked for me especially in the overall story. 

Overall, I enjoyed this entire book. This is a fabulous way to write an anthology. You can read it in snippets, but still get a full overall story that still feels satisfying. I loved the Horseman's backstory and the auntie's ghosts. I definitely recommend this one and will need to pull it back out come October. I'm actually surprised that Entangled didn't choose to release it that month because it's so perfect for Halloween!

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

Take My Breath Away by Christie Ridgway



Title: Take My Breath Away
Author: Christie Ridgway
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Cabin Fever #1
Main Characters: Poppy and Ryan
Release Date: May 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: hot




Story Overview:
From USA TODAY bestselling author Christie Ridgway comes a sparkling new series set in the California mountains, where Hollywood glamour meets rustic charm, and the sparks fly among the unlikeliest of couples… 

Poppy Walker has a plan to restore the family resort, and she's sticking to it. So when a good-looking guy with plenty of cash rents one of her half-repaired vacation cabins, she figures he's just what the handyman ordered. But when a late-winter storm blows through, it takes down some trees, her roof and then…her self-control. Even though she's been burned before by a wealthy passer-through, she can't stay away from the brooding but gorgeous stranger in the bungalow next door. 

Former teen idol turned Hollywood exec Ryan Hamilton wants a private place in which to endure his very personal heartbreak. Finally, at this rustic mountain cabin, he has all the seclusion one man could want—until sparks begin to fly with his sexy, formerly chilly landlady. By the time the weather dies down, they're both hot, bothered and certain they're still wrong for each other. But there's no telling how they'll face the new storm brewing on the horizon…
My Review:
I definitely enjoy a feel-good contemporary romance and this one definitely worked for me in that regard. The book was really good, but I think part of the reason I liked it so much was the setting. The first half of the book takes place in a group of old, tiny resort mountain cabins that completely captured my imagination. I'm especially excited about this because it looks like the entire series is going to be built around the family refurbishing these old little rental cabins. I love both that idea and the mountain ambience. I'm a mountain girl and this hits all my reader hot-buttons for what I enjoy in setting. 

But there is so much more to the story...Poppy and Ryan. I LOVED these two characters. 

Poppy is one of four siblings who grew up in this tiny mountain town. She's the optimistic one...the dreamer. She's also the one who's the first to get her dreams smashed because she trusts too readily and too easily. She's the one in the family who thinks they can fix the cabins to be worth something...none of her 3 siblings agree. Right off the bat, I loved her. She's determined. Her 5 yo son is gone for 10 days. She plans to use every minute of those days working on the cabins to fix them up...and is fully planning to do it all on her own to prove that it can be done. This girl has gumption and grit.

Then there's Ryan...the infamous hollywood A-lister. Throughout much of the book, it's a mystery as to exactly what's happened in previous March's to make it such an awful month for him. But he's in the mountains hiding out and Poppy's abandoned cabins seem like the perfect escape until they literally begin to crash down around them. Ryan is definitely hiding something and at first I just assumed that it was some sort of shallow hollywood-driven infamous occurrence, but as the details of his past are revealed, I fell even more and more in love with him. This guy...*gah* my heart hurt for him.

The story is set up fabulously. It starts completely focused around Poppy and Ryan and as more of their story is revealed, more characters become important to the story so that by the time the end rolls around, I was fully invested with about 12-15 character lives in this small town. I loved that about it. There's also a side romance between Linus and Charlie that at first I got annoyed about because it was taking time on the page away from Poppy and Ryan, but as we delved further into it, I became just as emotionally invested with them as I did the MC's. Their story is also told in a rather inventive way with flashbacks told via script from the summer before. It took some getting used to but then I loved it.

Overall, it was a great start to this new series and I am definitely looking forward to more stories about this family. I'm excited!

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

Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery

Title: Before We Kiss
Author: Susan Mallery
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Fool's Gold #14
Main Characters: Sam and Dellina
Release Date: May 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: hot






Story Overview:
New York Times bestselling sensation Susan Mallery returns to Fool's Gold, California, where it's true that sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs… 

Former pro-football kicker Sam Ridge has notoriously bad luck with women—from cheaters to fame chasers. Still, the gorgeous brunette at the bar in Fool's Gold looks harmless—until she takes him home and he discovers a room devoted to securing a man, for life. 

Dellina Hopkins never guessed that storing gowns from a friend's bridal boutique would chase away her first and only fling. After her parents died, she skipped her "wild youth" to raise her sisters. She doesn't want forever from Sam, but one night—all night—would've been nice. 

His clean getaway gets messy when his firm hires Dellina to plan an event. As long hours lead to late nights, the two succumb to temptation again. Has Sam's luck finally changed? Or this time, will Dellina be the one to run?
My Review:
I absolutely LOVE the background story to this book with their one-night stand five months before. The idea of Sam freaking out about the wedding dresses and then dodging Dellina ever since is just a great start to this romance. It's such a guy thing to do and it just makes me giggle every time I think about it especially since all the women in town know about it and view it the same way. And this is also why I love Dellina. She's a tough, independent character who simply lets things roll off her back. A lot of women would let that kind of thing offend them or hurt their feelings, but she simply sees the humor in it and plans to give Sam as hard of time as she can about the situation. 

And the rest of the book continues to stay just as fun and entertaining. Sam finally has to approach Dellina because he needs her help. As the only party planner in Fool's Gold, he needs her to help him plan a weekend retreat for his PR company's wealthy clientele. The entire book is set up around this weekend event and the four weeks leading up to it. And although their relationship starts with a one-night stand, I liked the fact that during that planning month of time, Sam and Dellina form a true friendship that eventually leads to more. Neither one think they are looking for a relationship so they can relax into their friendship and although they both know they have sizzling chemistry, they know they shouldn't do anything about it while they are working together. Shouldn't being the word that you should note here...hehe.

I do love this series and this book proved to be just as good as all the rest of the books have been. I love this little town of Fools Gold and love getting to see the many characters we've fallen in love with over the years. This particular edition though had some really intriguing scenes from New Zealand and Mayor Marsha. I will admit that story literally stole this book for me...I wanted more of this story line NOW. Not that the main story line wasn't good, because it absolutely was. It was just that one was so intriguing and is setting up to be a story that I know I'm going to LOVE. (Note...who was the 50 yo hottie???) There was also another side story with Dellina's sister trying to get her boyfriend to ask her to marry her that I also really loved. I especially loved it when Sam would give her advice about honesty and how that played into his and Dellina's situation also. 

I love these football players and the company they've developed with Sport. They are an amazing addition to the town and I'm really looking forward to both Sam and Kenny's stories. We've seen glimpses of what may be to come for them and I think they are going to be just as good as all the rest. One thing I can count on with this series is that the books will be plain entertaining with characters I will love. Every single one has left me with a happy feeling after having read it and this series will always be up there at the top of my list for favorite contemporary small town reads. 

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Honor Reclaimed by Tonya Burrows



Title: Honor Reclaimed
Author: Tonya Burrows
My Rating: A

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: HORNET #2
Main Characters: Seth and Phoebe
Release Date: May 2014
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Links to Purchase
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: hot



Story Overview:
Former Marine sniper Seth Harlan is determined to prove that he can still do his job despite his ongoing battle with PTSD. When an old friend contacts HORNET to rescue a black ops soldier, Seth's stability is strained. He knows all too well what it's like to rot inside an enemy camp, praying for rescue and waiting for death. And he's not about to leave a man behind.

Photojournalist Phoebe Leighton just stumbled into the middle of an arms deal. Teaming up with a ragtag team of mercenaries is the last thing she wants to do--especially when she realizes Seth Harlan is assigned to the mission. He may ignite a passion in her she thought long dead, but Phoebe's hiding a secret that could destroy him.

With a bomb in the mix, HORNET's mission is suddenly about a lot more than an abandoned soldier. Racing against the clock, Seth, Phoebe, and the rest of the team struggle to stop a ruthless warlord bent on power, revenge...and death.

My Review:
Oh my wow...this book was so good. I wasn't sure where it was going to go when the first scene didn't even have the main characters in it...but I worried for nothing because this book was amazing!

Seth...I challenge anyone to read this book and not feel for what Seth has gone through. Horrific doesn't even begin to cover it and he's so alone. I, like Phoebe, just wanted to hold and comfort him and definitely fell in love with his character. His struggles to simply move throughout his life every day are front and center in this book. He's working (or trying to, anyway) at a new job as a military contractor. The guys don't trust him. I thought that was an interesting twist to the story. Normally, in these military books, the brotherhood in arms are the strongest thing in the story. Not this one where none of these guys really stands beside Seth at all. They all fully believe that he's a danger to them and the mission. The circumstances of their jobs are constantly messing with his PTSD. It's painful to read. After being tortured and held captive for 15 months, he has so much self-doubt. He honestly doesn't think that he will ever be or function as a sane individual again. 

But when he meets Phoebe, something about her calms him...which he so needs, because they meet when he's back in Afghanistan again. Just the sights, smells, and sounds of the country are constantly sending him into flashback mode. And that made their story that much harder to read because as a reader, I knew that it was all about to implode when he found out who she really was. That was my one tiny little beef with this story...Phoebe's past with her tabloid photography. The explanation just didn't seem quite right or enough especially when confronted with it all by Seth. I thought there just needed to be a little more to that story than the brush-off it basically received in the end. BUT that didn't affect how much I enjoyed the book at all. It was still an absolutely great read.

This is my first HORNET book, although I do own a print copy of the first book, it's still sitting in my print TBR. The HORNET group is a new team and they definitely haven't gelled yet. None of these guys appear to be without their war-wounds. Some are just more mental than others. I'm already so fascinated with several of the characters. I can't wait to read more of their stories and watching them come together more and more as a team. The characters that have already been developed are amazing and fascinating. I can't wait...