Tag Archives: Love stories

About That Night, by Julie James

19 May

Format: Kindle edition, 304 pages
Published: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Back cover blurb:
HE’S PLAYING GAMES

Though Rylann Pierce tried to fight the sparks she felt for billionaire heir Kyle Rhodes the night they met, their sizzling chemistry was undeniable. But after being stood up on their first date, Rylann never expected to see him again. So when she finds herself face to face with Kyle in a courthouse nine years later, she’s stunned. More troubling to the beautiful Assistant U.S. Attorney is that she’s still wildly attracted to him.

BUT SHE’S MAKING THE RULES

Just released from prison, Kyle Rhodes isn’t thrilled to be the star witness in a high-profile criminal case — but when Rylann comes knocking at his door, he finds she may be the one lawyer he can’t say no to. Still as gorgeous and sharp-tongued as ever, she lays down the law: she doesn’t mix business with pleasure. But Kyle won’t give up on something he wants — and what he wants is the one woman he’s never forgotten…

My review:
Julie James does it again! This series is such fun to read, and Ms James knows how to craft a story so the pacing, characterisation, humour and smoking hotness is just right. Kyle was one of my favourites from the previous book, and here we get to see him reunited with a woman he met nine years previously, who just turns out to be the prosecutor in his Twitter hacking case.

What I love so much about this series is that the scenarios don’t seem contrived, unlike with some other contemporary romances. There’s an old boyfriend on the fringes, but no silly love triangle developed, and despite my fear at one point, there was also no switcheroo with the courtroom drama coming back to bite them on the bum. We also get the added bonus of all the old characters featuring, too, like Cameron and Jack and Nick and Jordan. Next up in the series just might be the lovely Agent Wilkins and maybe Rae? I hope so! Cade Morgan should also be in line for a book if I had any say about it :)

I preordered this and am so glad I did. Julie James should be on everyone’s auto-buy list. Highly recommended.

My rating: 5/5

You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, by Sarra Manning

13 May

Format: Kindle Edition, 560 pages
Published: February 3, 2011
Publisher: Corgi
Back cover blurb:
Sweet, bookish Neve Slater always plays by the rules. And the number one rule is that good-natured fat girls like her don’t get guys like gorgeous, handsome William, heir to Neve’s heart since university. But William’s been in LA for three years, and Neve’s been slimming down and re-inventing herself so that when he returns, he’ll fall head over heels in love with the new, improved her.

So she’s not that interested in other men. Until her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she’s an experienced love-goddess and not the fumbling, awkward girl he left behind, then she’d better get some, well, experience.

What Neve needs is someone to show her the ropes, someone like Celia’s colleague Max. Wicked, shallow, sexy Max. And since he’s such a man-slut, and so not Neve’s type, she certainly won’t fall for him. Because William is the man for her… right?

Somewhere between losing weight and losing her inhibitions, Neve’s lost her heart – but to who?

My review:
I loved this and almost gave it five cupcakes, but the period in the book from where William phones to when Neve confronts Charlotte dragged a bit for me, so I felt I had to take half a cake off.

Honestly, though, I was surprised how much I did enjoy this story, and really couldn’t put it down. Neve is a believable character: a woman who has lost a lot of weight but who still sees herself as flabby and undesirable. On her sister’s suggestion, she embarks on a “pancake relationship” with Max – you know, you throw away the first pancake in the batch because it’s never perfect – so she can be ready and experienced when her “true love” William returns from California.

The plotline is contrived and cliched, in that it’s clear from the start there will be more to Max and Neve’s relationship than just fake affection and at some point there will be huge conflict, but I didn’t mind because Max is so damn yummy. The things he says… *sigh* He made me laugh out loud and go tingly all at the same time, and that is the kind of man you want to hold onto. Neve thinks he’s a cad when she first meets him, but in the end it is clear the cad in this story is not him. Far from it.

Hilarious and sexy, I’d recommend this book for Max alone!

My rating: 4.5/5

Cover reveal: Gabriel’s Rapture

9 May

The lovely Sylvain Reynard today revealed the cover and release date of his sequel to Gabriel’s Inferno, to be called Gabriel’s Rapture.

It will be released on May 22, and I for one am very excited!

The cover intrigues me, as I’m sure I recognise the gentleman in the top corner – Michael Fassbender, or maybe Tom Hiddleston? Either way, he is yummy!

FYI, Gabriel’s Inferno is on special at the moment at the Amazon Kindle store for $US4.99. I urge you  to read it – it’s fabulous! Click HERE to read my review of it from last year.

Virgin River, by Robyn Carr

26 Apr

Format: Kindle Edition
Published: March 9, 2007
Publisher: Mira Books
Back cover blurb:
“Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against the backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal-clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.”When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to reenergize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.But a tiny baby, abandoned on a front porch, changes her plans…and a former marine cements them into place.Melinda Monroe may have come to Virgin River looking for escape, but instead she finds her home.

My review:

LOVED Jack – he is now my latest fictional boyfriend – and, in fact, all of the characters in this lovely little town. Possibly the best bit: when Mel and her sister are talking about Jack and they muse about the size of a man’s shoe being related to his *ahem* … and Mel says Jack must wear size 23 *giggle and swoon*

The story is funny, sexy and sweet, and definitely realistic. Rick’s “first time” had a huge ring of truth to it, and I was so glad Jack had another relationship, even after Mel came on the scene, and that he wasn’t just a cliched lonely guy pining away for his one true love like so many other romantic heroes.

I will definitely be reading the rest of the series to find out about all the other inhabitants.

My rating: 4.5/5

A Virgin River Christmas, by Robyn Carr

21 Apr

Format: Kindle Edition
Published: February 1, 2008
Publisher: Mira Books
Back cover blurb:
Last Christmas, Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him.Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby’s shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived Stateside. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.

Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically. But she is not easily scared off. As Marcie pushes her way into his rugged and reclusive life, she discovers a sweet but damaged soul beneath a rough exterior.

Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young widow who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.

My review:
Carr is another new author for me and now I just have to read the rest of this series, even though there are quite a few books in it already.This story, of a grieving Marine widow who goes up into the mountains to track down her late husband’s best friend who has dropped out of society after his experiences in Iraq, had me gripped from the very start. There was no question she would find him, or even that they would fall in love, but the story still held my attention all the way.

The great secondary characters – all of whom have their own books, I believe – made this book even better, and I can’t wait to read their stories. Even if I cry as much as I did at the end of this one. *sigh*

My rating: 4.5/5

Lover Reborn, by J.R. Ward

20 Apr

Format: Kindle Edition, 671 pages
Published: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group
Back cover blurb:
In the darkest corners of the night in Caldwell, New York, a conflict like no other rages. The city is home to a band of brothers born to defend their race: the warrior vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.Now back in the Brotherhood – and unrecognisable as the vampire leader he once was – Tohrment is physically emaciated and heartbroken beyond despair. When he begins to see his beloved in his dreams – trapped in a cold, isolating netherworld – Tohr turns to a self-serving fallen angel in hopes of saving the one he has lost.When he’s told he must learn to love another to free his former mate, Tohr knows they are all doomed…Except then a female with a shadowed history begins to get through to him. Against the backdrop of the raging war with the lessers, and with a new clan of vampires vying for the Blind King’s throne, Tohr struggles between the buried past, and a very hot, passion-filled future… but can his heart let go and set all of them free?

My review:
I almost threw this on the floor when I had counted three mentions of the “peanut gallery” by the top of the third chapter. J.R. Ward needs some new stock phrases – that one’s getting really old.

The books itself was good, and I enjoyed it more than I expected to given my admiration of Wellsie. I’ve always liked Tohr and his growing relationship with No’One – later renamed Autumn – is engrossing and hot, but halfway through the book I realised I maybe didn’t like Tohr so much any more. He was doing things for all the wrong reasons, and I agreed with Lassiter that maybe he had been led astray by the angel. The “surprise” with her at the Fade ceremony wasn’t a surprise to me at all, as I had been saying in my mind for a long time “but she died…” I liked the ending, though, despite the lack of any obvious mating/bonding scent between them.

The Xhex/JM storyline was the least interesting for me. They’ve never been my favourite couple but I will admit to seeing a softer side of Xhex around her mother. That was nice.

This book did raise a lot of questions, though, which is why I have to take half a cupcake off. For a start, why doesn’t Phury have a better idea of where the Chosen are? He can’t just let them roam free around the countryside. I suggest a clocking-in system where they punch a card to let him know where they’re going. Layla has got to be one of the dimmest lightbulbs ever. I’m not sure whether I like her storyline but I can see how it will lead to a HEA for Qhuinn. Xcor will have to be redeemed in a MAJOR way somewhere along the line, though – I can’t see Tohr killing him now.

Another question: how does Wrath know when people enter the room and don’t say anything? Or know when his wife frowns in her sleep? Either these Brothers smell pretty bad or maybe it’s his bonding to Beth that makes him aware of her movements, but please Ms Ward, if he’s blind then he should be blind. Unable to see.

Tohr said bonded males sometimes cheated on their spouses – that struck me as completely against everything we’ve been told so far about the bonding process. It did make me wonder whether Tohr could bond to Autumn because his mother chose Wellsie for him in an arrangement made before she was even born. All the other Brothers chose their shellans of their own free will, and in the end that was how Tohr chose Autumn.

The timeline was hard to follow. It appeared to start straight after Lover Mine, but Manny was already working in the clinic so it was like the events of Lover Unleashed had been completely ignored. Payne was only mentioned in crowd scenes, which surprised me given No’One was meant to be serving her. They never even visited together once. In fact, I missed a lot of the other characters. Many were mentioned in passing or got one line, and that wasn’t enough for me.

Still, I’m looking forward to the next book, with Qhuinn and Blay’s story. I hope Ward does it justice.

My rating: 4.5/5 (It’s still the BDB!)

Unlocked, by Courtney Milan

28 Feb

Format: Kindle Edition, 111 pages
Published: May 26, 2011
Publisher: Courtney Milan
Back cover blurb:
A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…

My review:
This beautiful story about a girl who is picked on by the in-crowd could have been set in any time, because it resonates so truthfully today. Lady Elaine’s laugh is just a little too loud for genteel society, so she is the butt of jokes, mostly instigated by Evan, the Earl of Westfeld. But he has a secret: like many small boys, he teases her because he is in love with her. Sadly, his taunts and those of his friends traumatise her so much they break her spirit, and when he realises what he’s done he flees to Europe.

Ten years later he returns and sees she is just the same – withdrawn and the butt of his friends’ jokes but still as lovely as he remembers. He sets about righting his wrong, and while she is slow to forgive him, she eventually comes to return his feelings.

I loved this. It reminded me so much of Pride and Prejudice, when Darcy helps find Wickham even though he believes his chances with Elizabeth are gone. Evan’s inner monologue is hawt, and the scene where she finally comes to him had me swooning. I also enjoyed the sly little nod to the modern reader, when his friend Diana mistakenly refers to his mountaineering crampons as “tampons”. Nice touch.

The cover is pretty, and reflects a pivotal moment in the story, but I think the woman’s face is a little too severe-looking to be Elaine. Cropping her at the neck might have been better. Nevertheless, I’ll be hunting out the other books in the series now.

My rating: 5/5

Eternal Rider, by Larissa Ione

20 Feb

Format: Kindle edition, 402 pages
Published: April 1, 2011
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Back cover blurb:
His name is Ares, and the fate of mankind rests on his powerful shoulders. If he falls to the forces of evil, the world falls too. As one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he is far stronger than any mortal, but even he cannot fight his destiny forever. Not when his own brother plots against him.

Yet there is one last hope. Gifted in a way other humans can’t – or won’t – understand, Cara Thornhart is the key to both this Horseman’s safety and his doom. But involving Cara will prove treacherous, even beyond the maddening, dangerous desire that seizes them the moment they meet. For staving off eternal darkness could have a staggering cost: Cara’s life.

My review:
I just couldn’t really get into this book or feel connected to the main characters, but maybe that was just me. I loved the Demonica series but the first book was my least favourite, and maybe that’s just the case here – first book syndrome. Maybe I just need to settle into the characters and the world a bit more.

Ares was an interesting guy: complex, caring and totally unlike how you expect War to be. Cara was OK, but something about her didn’t sit right with me. It struck me as odd that she was a frightened mouse in the beginning – understandable after her home invasion experience – but by the end, just a few days later, she was an insatiable coughslutcough. I never thought I would say this, but I even thought there was too much smexy time at the end. Sure, it was hot as Hades, as all Ione’s books are, but by the end I was just going “get it over with, already”.

I suspect I will enjoy the second book in this series better as it features Arik, whom we already know from the Demonica series, and Limos (Famine) who seems like a fun chick. The first chapter was a teaser at the end of this book and looks a riot from the first word. I’m willing to give it a try, because it’s Ione and I love her.

My rating: 3.5/5

About A Dragon, by G.A. Aiken

12 Feb

Format: Kindle edition, 353 pages

Published: November 2008 (first published 2006)
Publisher: Zebra
Back cover blurb:
For Nolwenn witch Talaith, a bad day begins with being dragged from bed by an angry mob intent on her crispy end and culminates in rescue by-wait for it-a silver-maned dragon. Existence as a hated outcast is nothing new for a woman with such powerful secrets. The dragon, though? A tad unusual. This one has a human form to die for, and knows it. According to dragon law, Talaith is now his property, for pleasure…or otherwise. But if Lord Arrogance thinks she’s the kind of damsel to acquiesce without a word, he’s in for a surprise…

Is the woman never silent? Briec the Mighty knew the moment he laid eyes on Talaith that she would be his, but he’d counted on tongue-lashings of an altogether different sort. It’s embarrassing, really, that it isn’t this outspoken female’s magicks that have the realm’s greatest dragon in her thrall. No, Briec has been spellbound by something altogether different-and if he doesn’t tread carefully, what he doesn’t know about human women could well be the undoing of his entire race…

My review:
Is it wrong of me to like the secondary characters more than the main couple? This book, the second in the Dragon Kin series, began a bit slowly and I was of two minds about it, but the party really started once Gwenvael walked in. He is just hilarious, and thankfully brought out the playful side of gruff, serious Briec. I love the other brothers, too, and was pleased to see Morfyd and Brastias finally getting it together after two books of UST. The next book is Gwenvael’s, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he copes with being tamed by a woman. I’m sure if she hits him it will only be an “accident”.
My rating: 4/5

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins

11 Feb

Format: Kindle edition, 229 pages
Published: December 2011 (first published December 2nd 2010)
Publisher: Penguin Group
Back cover blurb:
Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.

My review:
I really loved it and couldn’t put it down… until maybe the last 20 percent and the business with Dave. By that stage I was just screaming (internally) at Anna to wake up and smell the croissants. Etienne was too swoonworthy for her to even contemplate anyone else. I mean, honestly, cute French-American boy with a British accent and amazing hair – ’nuff said.

He made the book for me (quelle surprise!) but a large part of the appeal was also the snappy, witty writing which felt very realistic. I loved the secondary characters, and felt very sorry for Meredith but was so glad with her ending. Paris is also a huge character in the story, and how I wish I could go there and do all the things Anna did with her friends.

A great debut novel, and I look forward to reading Lola and the Boy Next Door. I hope he’s as cute as St. Clair ;)

My rating: 4.5/5
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Writer, Teacher, Pop Culture Nerd.

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