Posts Categorized: Harlequin

A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas – Maisey Yates 4 stars

September 23, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, Harlequin 1

A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas – Maisey Yates 4 starsA Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas by Maisey Yates
Published by HQN Books on October 1, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Western, Holiday, Contemporary
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads
four-stars

It’s Christmas in Gold Valley, and this wounded widower is about to get another shot at love…

Grant Dodge didn’t expect to find a woman sleeping in an abandoned cabin on his family ranch. Or to find her so intriguing. Unlike every other woman in town, McKenna Tate doesn’t know Grant’s a widower. There’s no pity in the looks she gives him. McKenna wants him, and Grant has forgotten what it’s like to feel like a man. A no-strings fling for Christmas might be the kind of holiday cheer Grant needs…

With only a suitcase to her name, McKenna came to Gold Valley to confront her birth father. She didn’t plan to work at the Dodge ranch or fall for the gorgeous cowboy who keeps his heart roped off. But there’s no denying the way their broken pieces fit together. Hope brought her to Gold Valley—but will it be the gift that could finally heal Grant, and McKenna’s own wounded heart?

Also includes a bonus Gold Valley novella, Snowed in with the Cowboy!

Have you ever read a book that you enjoyed and wondered how either you would review it or discuss it with someone else?  A Tall,Dark Cowboy Christmas was like that for me.  There are a few reasons for that which I will explore with you.

First, the fun reason.  Readers of the Gold Valley series have likely been anticipating Grant’s book.  We’ve gotten so many glimpses of him and know his painful background so of course we think we know all there is to know about Grant.  For those of you that haven’t read any of the books in the series yet, Grant married his highschool sweetheart knowing she had a terminal illness, and due to some unwanted media attention he can’t ever escape the imagine of the saintly widower.  Even in the moments where he is able to forget the pain of losing his wife, the well meaning members of the town bring it back up. So like I said, we’ve heard and seen so much of Grant in the other books that we assume we know all there is to know about him.  Well let me tell you, there was a huge reveal in this book and it’s a doozy that I never saw coming.  Here’s the bummer, I can’t tell you about it here even though I REALLY want to.  While I’m not always anti-spoilers when it comes to reviews, I feel like in this case it’s something each reader should come across as the story unfolds.  What I will tell you, is Grant is an even more amazing man than his backstory would lead you to believe.  When you read this book, I’d love to discuss it with you so feel free to pop on over to Twitter and chat with me about it.  (I’m @NE_rom)reader for those of you that don’t already know).

Now for the not so fun reason this review is hard to write.  You see McKenna’s backstory had some elements that mirrored events in my own life.  While that wasn’t readily apparent from the blurb, looking back I realize I should have seen it coming as the story progressed.  You see, McKenna is searching for the paternal side of her family.  They have no idea she exists, so she’s understandably nervous about how they will react whens he approaches them.  I happened to be reading the scene where this reunion took place one morning before getting out of bed to get ready for work and to say that it would rip my heart out unexpectedly would be an understatement.  When Hank turns McKenna away, I was devastated.  I’ve lived that moment, although without someone trying to hand me a check to soften the blow.  I thought I had worked through all of that, but when I read that scene it seemed to pick a scab I didn’t think was still there and I’ll have to figure out what to do with that wound now that it’s feeling raw again.  While it was painful to experience along with McKenna, i think the fact it had such an emotional impact on me as a reader speaks to how well the author described both the event and the associated feelings that McKenna was experiencing.  Luckily for McKenna, thank you romance, she found her HEA so all is well that ends well in Gold Valley.  If only real life followed the same pattern.

If you’re a fan of cowboy romance or holiday romances make sure to pick up A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas.  You won’t be disappointed.

four-stars

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Untamed Cowboy – Maisey Yates 4 stars

June 19, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, Harlequin, NetGalley, Read in 2018 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Untamed Cowboy – Maisey Yates 4 starsUntamed Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Published by HQN Books on July 1st 2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Western, Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

In Gold Valley, Oregon, love might be hiding in plain sight…

Some things are too perfect to mess with. Bennett Dodge’s relationship with Kaylee Capshaw is one of them. They work together at their veterinary clinic and have been best friends for years. When Bennett’s world is rocked by the appearance of a son he didn’t know he had, he needs Kaylee more than ever. And he doesn’t want anything else to change. But then Kaylee kisses him, and nothing will ever be the same…

Kaylee’s done her best to keep her feelings for the man she’s loved since high school hidden away, but one unguarded moment changes everything, and now there’s no more denying the chemistry that burns between them. But the explosion of desire changes all the rules, and what’s left could destroy their bond—or bring them to a love that’s deeper than she ever imagined…

Also includes a bonus Gold Valley novella, Mail Order Cowboy!

I don’t mind admitting that I was excited when I found out that the second book in the Gold Valley series would be Bennett’s and Kaylee’s.  After the glimpses we have gotten to see in previous books, I had no doubt these two would end up together and I was glad we didn’t have to wait until later in the series to have it happen.

In Untamed Cowboy, we find out that Bennett wasn’t always the buttoned up man that we knew him as.  You see, Bennett got his girlfriend pregnant at age 16 and after she told him she lost their baby and moved away, Bennett was determined to never let his emotions get away from him again.  He was going to make responsible logical decisions and ensure that he never put any pressure or stress on his family after everything that they had already been through.  That’s why Bennett prides himself on having a plan for every aspect of his life, even if those plans mean he is settling for a life that can never truly make him happy.  Bennett was prepared to marry Olivia even though he didn’t love her because he didn’t want love or passion in his life.

When a social worker shows up at Bennett’s house with a 15-year-old son named Dallas that Bennett didn’t know he had, all of Bennett’s plans for an uncomplicated life start to unravel at the seams.  Understandably, Bennett is devastated to find out that his high school girlfriend lied to him about losing the baby.  On top of that he discovers that his son’s life has not been at all the life he should have had.  How can he make up for all the time he’s lost and how does a man who has prided himself on guarding his heart convince his son to trust him and let him in when he doesn’t let other people in himself?

The one constant in Bennett’s life has always been Kaylee Capshaw.  From the moment he saw her at school looking shy and lonely, Bennett and Kaylee have been best friends.  With all the chaos in his life, right now more than ever Bennett needs Kaylee to be the source of stability in his life she has always been.

Kaylee Capshaw has been in love with Bennett for as long as she can remember.  She’s stuffed her feelings down through the years knowing that Bennett didn’t feel the same.  After years of having a front row seat to Bennett’s relationships, she’s determined once again to move on and find a relationship for herself, so why can’t anyone else light her up the way Bennett does?

When Bennett tell’s Kaylee that he’s planning to find someone to hook up with, Kaylee can’t take it anymore.  She will be damned if she can sit back and watch him move on with someone else again without ever having a chance to touch Bennett Dodge herself.  Bennett isn’t prepared for Kaylee to suggest that they scratch each other’s itch, but once he agrees he has to face that his feelings for Kaylee have never been as clear-cut as he has convinced himself they were.  With all of his plans obliterated, can Bennet reach for the happiness that is his for the taking?

I related to so strongly to Bennett, Kaylee and Dallas in this story due to my own background.  I saw so much of myself in Kaylee in Dallas.  The inability to trust when your parents, the people you are supposed to be able to count on are the very people who have hurt you the most.  The need to test and push people around you to see if they will abandon you like everyone else.  The knowledge that you aren’t worthy of love and respect even when someone wants to give it to you.  With Bennett you can understand why he feels like he has to be perfect and never be a burden to anyone.  He watched his family go through so much, and he never wanted to feel like he added to it.

It was delightful to see Bennett, Kaylee and Dallas begin to heal the wounds from their past become the family they all deserved.  I hope we will get to see more glimpses of them in future installments of Gold Valley.

 

four-stars

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Can’t Let Go – Gena Showalter 3 stars

October 31, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, Harlequin 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Can’t Let Go – Gena Showalter 3 starsCan't Let Go by Gena Showalter
on October 31st 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads
three-stars

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter is back with a sizzling Original Heartbreakers tale about an icy war vet and the only woman capable of melting him... 

With trust issues a mile long, Ryanne Wade has sworn off men. Then Jude Laurent walks into her bar, and all bets are off. The former army ranger has suffered unimaginably, first being maimed in battle then losing his wife and daughters to a drunk driver. Making the brooding widower smile is priority one. Resisting him? Impossible. 

For Jude, Ryanne is off-limits. And yet the beautiful bartender who serves alcohol to potential motorists tempts him like no other. When a rival bar threatens her livelihood--and her life--he can't turn away. She triggers something in him he thought long buried, and he's determined to protect her, whatever the cost. 

As their already scorching attraction continues to heat, the damaged soldier knows he must let go of his past to hold on to his future...or risk losing the second chance he desperately needs.

Can’t Let Go is the fifth installment of Gena Showalter’s The Original Heartbreakers Series.  As with the other books in the series, Can’t Let Go features a damaged hero and a woman who has exactly what he needs to heal the physical and emotional needs of his past.

Jude Laurent hasn’t had an easy life.  Between being neglected as a child, losing his leg in a bomb blast while in the military and losing his wife and twin daughters in a car accident, Jude is just focused on surviving and putting one foot in front of the other day after day.  There is absolutely no way he’s going to get involved with Ryanne Wade, even if the sassy bar owner makes him feel more than the never-ending grief that has become his life.

Ryanne Wade has big plans for her future.  She will be living her life on her own terms, traveling the world to see all of the sights that she has been dreaming about for her entire life.  She most certainly follow her mother’s footsteps by having a life that revolves around whatever man she is with at the time.  She knows that Jude isn’t in the right frame of mind to have a relationship with anyone given his past, but she is determined to help him find some happiness in the few weeks they have together before she leaves for Rome.

***Warning… spoilers ahead***

I expected to love this book.  I have read all the other books in the series and I was looking forward to seeing Jude and Ryanne finally come together. I did like the book, but there were some elements of the writing that kept me from loving it.

Positives:

  • Jude’s turmoil and emotional pain were handled well.  The scenes that showed Jude falling apart completely as the grief overwhelmed him helped the reader see how tortured he still was.
  • Ryanne was everything I love in a heroine.  She was sarcastic while still being vulnerable and caring.

Negatives:

  • The scenario for Ryanne getting pregnant felt very over the top.  You have a virgin heroine who is on the pill having sex with a man who recently had a vasectomy and is wearing a condom that breaks, yet she still ends up pregnant.  I understand that it is possible that this could happen, but it is so unlikely that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
  • When the references to Showalter’s other book series as video games started in the earlier books, I thought it was cute and maybe smart marketing on her side.  After reading references multiple times in this book I’m over it.  I don’t want to feel beat over the head with references to your paranormal series when I’m in the middle of your contemporary world.
  • Sex on a mechanical bull… I don’t think I need to say more here.

 

In the end, I thought Can’t Let Go was decent, but not up to the level of other books in the series.  Unfortunately it felt like it was trying to hard to follow a formula and the quality of the storyline seemed to suffer as a result.   I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the next installment doesn’t follow the same path because I must read what happens between Brock and Lyndie.

three-stars

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Slow Burn Cowboy – Maisey Yates – 3.5 stars

May 12, 2017 Harlequin, NetGalley 2

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Slow Burn Cowboy – Maisey Yates – 3.5 starsSlow Burn Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Published by HQN Books on May 1st 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Western, Contemporary, General
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-half-stars

In Copper Ridge, Oregon, a cowboy's best friend might turn out to be the woman of his dreams…

If Finn Donnelly makes a plan, he sticks to it. After his brothers left Copper Ridge, Finn stayed behind, determined to keep their ranch going by himself. And when he realized his feelings for Lane Jensen were more than platonic, he shoved that inconvenient desire away. It was easy…until it wasn't. Suddenly his brothers are coming home to claim their share of the property. And Lane is no longer just in his fantasies. She's in his arms, and their friendship is on the line…

He's been her buddy, her handyman, her rock. But until that one breathtaking kiss, Lane somehow overlooked the most important thing about Finn Donnelly—he's all man. They're right together, no matter how much his volatile past has bruised him. Finn wants to hold Lane's body, but he doesn't want to hold her heart. But Lane is falling fast and now she's got a plan of her own…to show Finn there's nothing hotter than friendship turned to slow-burning love.

Also includes a bonus Copper Ridge novel, Take Me, Cowboy!

Finn Donnelly likes control, so when his entire life is turned upside down he begins to unravel.   Finn has spent the last 20 years working on the Laughing Irish Ranch with his grandfather, so when his grandfather passes away he can’t for the life of him understand why his grandfather didn’t leave the ranch only to him.  Instead the ranch was left in equal shares to Finn and his three brothers.  Finn is at a loss as to why his grandfather did this to him since his brothers haven’t ever been involved in the ranch.  Still, Finn has a plan.  He’s certain his brothers don’t really want to work on the ranch, so he will just buy out their portion and send them on their way.  Well we all know what they say about best-laid plans.

When Finn finds out things aren’t going to go quite the way he planned, he also discovers that his willpower to keep his hands off his best friend Lane Jensen isn’t quite what it used to be.   He’s spent years wanting Lane but kept his desire in check by reminding himself that she was too young for him and it wasn’t worth risking the most important relationship in his life by changing the rules.   Finn’s not cut out for relationships and certainly not marriage material but maybe he and Lane can both get what they need out of their friendship if they add a physical element to it.

 

Lane Jensen came to Copper Ridge at 16 to live with her brother Mark and put her painful past behind her.  She’s built a life she’s happy with and believes she’s moved on until she comes face to face with her past when her ex-boyfriend is suddenly all over the television.  Now every time she turns around she feels like she’s facing reminders of her past and is suddenly questioning the life she’s built.  As if that wasn’t enough, now Finn is trying to change everything about their relationship.  Doesn’t he realize that he’s the most important person in her life?  She isn’t about to let him risk their friendship when she needs him the most.  The problem is that now that she see’s Finn for the hot cowboy that he is, she can’t seem to stop fantasizing about him.

I enjoyed watching both Finn and Lane work through the demons of their past and being forced to reevaluate what they wanted from their futures.  I could relate to struggling with having to evaluate what you were worth or capable of after a less than ideal childhood.  I think this story worked so well because given the issues that both Finn and Lane had, the only way they were going to work through them rather than running away was with each other because nobody else mattered enough that they would stick around when things got uncomfortable.

I am really looking forward to learning more about Finn’s brothers Cain, Alex and Liam.  But then, who doesn’t love a whole new group of sexy cowboys.  I have a feeling the other Donnelly men are going to have some very diverse and emotional backstories.

 

three-half-stars

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Kelli Ireland Double Release Week! Contest!

April 5, 2017 Excerpt, Harlequin 1

Saturday was the release day of TWO Kelli Ireland books: Conquering the Cowboy and The Immortal’s Unrequited Bride.

Conquering the Bride Kelli’s fourth cowboy romance set in New Mexico and features a rugged cowboy who handles climbing recertification, and Taylor, a search and rescue team lead who is struggling with a traumatic climbing mission gone wrong.

The Immortal’s Unrequited Bride is the third book in the Assassin’s Arcanum Series featuring sexy Irish Druid Assassins and the ladies that love them.

 

Trusting him is dangerous…

When a mission goes disastrously wrong, search-and-rescue team lead Taylor Williams is left with indescribable terror at the prospect of climbing. But she knows she has to face her fear to overcome it. Now she’s at a ranch in New Mexico, where her climbing recertification is in the hands of cowboy climber Quinn Monroe. Only this devilishly handsome rancher is about as friendly as a spur in the backside…

As they prepare for the climb, Taylor can’t ignore Quinn’s rugged physicality. The scorching heat between them helps distract Taylor from her fear, but her growing feelings make spending time with him dangerous. In the end, conquering her past may be a small feat compared to conquering this cowboy…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

Excerpt:

Quinn rarely delved into the emotional side of his life. Hell, rarely was actually more like never. It was foreign territory, somewhere he didn’t go. So wandering around there with Taylor, a virtual stranger, left him out of sorts.

Struggling to find his balance, both in the situation and with the woman, he asked the first question that came to mind. “When did you start climbing?”

She blinked up at him, obviously caught off guard. “I, uh…” She shook her head and laughed, the sound slightly self-deprecating. “Last thing I thought you’d ask.”

“What would’ve been the first?”

A shadow passed over her face, piquing his curiosity, but the pallor that followed and settled over her cheeks told him he’d hit on something significant. “Maybe later.”

He shrugged with feigned nonchalance. “Tell me about your first climb, then.”

“I summited on my first climb, though it was admit- tedly an easy attempt. I was fifteen.” She picked at a loose thread on her shirt and didn’t look up when she elaborated on her answer. “It was a stupid thing, really. Our family vacation was to the West Coast, and I was hell-bent on doing something different. I used my allowance to hire a beginner’s guide.”

“Hefty allowance.”

She shrugged, dismissing the observation. “I saved.” Then she looked up and smiled, the move changing the entire disposition of her face. “One of the best investments I’ve ever made.”

Quinn had to clear his throat for his voice to come out as more than an approving grunt. I’ve gone Neanderthal. Great. “So, I take it you liked it?”

Taylor shook her head. “No. I didn’t like it. I loved it. For the first time in my life, I was free. My well-being, my very survival was in my hands and the hands of my belay partner. I was free from the confines of…” Her voice faded even as her gaze darted away again. “Sounds pretty pathetic, I’m sure.”

Quite the opposite, actually. He could relate, having found himself in the same spot, but at eleven years old, not fifteen. “The first time I set foot on a mountain with the sole intent to climb, I was lost to it. When I summited?” He grinned. “I swore I’d never come down. I was eleven. Turned out supper was a bigger impetus to a preteen boy than making a statement about his newfound love, and I ended up back home before dark.”

She snorted. “I feel like a bit of a voyeur, getting such a personal glimpse into your life.”

Quinn chuckled. “It’s not too personal. The entire town watched me grow up and more than half were compelled to provide running commentary. There’s never much pri- vacy in a town this small. Someone’s always got something to say about what you’re doing or how you’re doing it.”

“What’s it like, always having people around who know you or know what you’ve been up to?”

She appeared fascinated at the intimacies of living out here, so he went on to tell her more about his childhood and what ranch life was like, leaving out most of the hard- ships and sharing the high points.

Several anecdotes in, she held up her hand to stop him so she could catch the breath laughter had stolen. “Uncle. I’m calling uncle already. I can’t take any more.” Wiping her face, she shook her head. “It sounds wonderful.”

“It had its moments,” he admitted, surprising himself a little with the truth. Memories he’d dragged up and let roll around for fun caught him somewhere just behind his heart, and they shocked him. He’d never looked at his childhood like this, never recognized how much he’d been part of a home, not just on the ranch but in the county.

“Sounds like it was a great way to grow up.”

He nodded, unable to put into words everything that rolled around inside his head…and heart. Instead, he slapped on his hat and nodded at her, touching the brim as a matter of courtesy. “I’ve got to finish up chores. The horses and our mammoth donkey, Cob, will be up at the gate ready for their dinner.”

“Your donkey’s name is Cob?” She looked up at Quinn, brow furrowed. “Is it because he eats corn cobs?”

The laugh surprised even Quinn, rolling up from deep inside him, a sound he hadn’t issued since long before the funeral—an authentic, heartfelt, genuine laugh. Ignoring the way Taylor stared at him, he shook his head and rubbed his upper lip. “Cob got his name when he was born. C-o-b stands for cranky old bastard.”

“And he got the name when he was a baby?”

“Sometimes animals, and people, are born as old souls. He was one of them.” Quinn glanced at the door, the per- sonal nature of the conversation making him antsy. “I’ll need to get the stock fed and put up for the night before I can call it a day. My intent is to get started on your ground- work tomorrow after breakfast.”

Her eyes widened. “Okay.”

His internal barometer shifted, dropping into the Trou- ble’s Brewing range. Shifting so he was square in front of her, though several feet away, he asked, “You okay with that plan or is there a problem?”

“It’s fine,” she blurted out, the words all but tumbling over each other.

“Okay,” Quinn said. He needed to get out of here and gain some personal space and, with any luck, perspective. “I’ll see you in the morning, then. G’night.”

Flustered, Quinn pushed through the screen door, crossed the porch and took the cottage steps two at a time. His booted feet hit the pathway with a whump. He didn’t pause and definitely didn’t look back. Rounding the cor- ner of the house, he started across the field toward the barn and the last of his nightly chores. Not that bringing Taylor dinner had been a chore. He’d…enjoyed himself, had enjoyed chatting and talking about things he hadn’t thought of in years.

Ahead, in the near dark, a horse nickered and the don- key’s bray punctuated the greeting with a demand for food. After seeing to those animals he could hang up his hat and crawl into bed…where his mind would likely defy him and drag up Taylor’s image.

Like it did now.

As Quinn walked between the cottage and the barn, twi- light ceded to nightfall and shadows stretched and deep- ened, seemingly in time with each step that carried him farther away from the cottage.

From the surprising comfort he’d found.

From her.

 

A love that endures beyond death itself…

Ethan Kemp is a healer, not an assassin. But he’s found an unexpected home in the Irish stronghold that houses the Assassin’s Arcanum—men who will kill to protect their Druid brethren. Too bad there’s a ghost that won’t give him peace…

Centuries in the grave, Isibéal Cannavan has longed to be reunited with her beloved. Finally, he’s returned to her. She’d recognize Lachlan anywhere, even as an American warlock called Ethan. But her path to reuniting with him in the land of the living runs through hell itself, and she’ll have to take Ethan with her…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

Excerpt:

Ethan pressed the heels of his hands to his temples and slowly shook his head. “So much. All of it? At least most of it.” He slid down the wall at his back until he sat, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. “I need to talk to her to be sure, though.”

Rowan’s eyes narrowed. “Explain.”
“I’m not sure how.”
“Try.”
Cool air brushed over his forehead, and Ethan knew she hovered at his side. Listening.
Letting his head fall back, he gently thumped his skull on the stone wall. “I remember her, us, growing up together. I remember days playing by the loch, nights by the campfire telling scary stories. I remember Iz curling up next to me for protection. Gods, I ate that up.” He smiled. “She knew it, too. She always seemed to know. “There was my first magick and then hers, our skills growing in tandem. There was our first kiss,” he mur- mured, closing his eyes, “and the night I proposed to her, thinking to be romantic. Our wedding day…and night. “Four years we were married, Rowan. Before that? I called her my own for every day I knew her as Lachlan. Marriage only added another level of knowing. Of… intimacy.” Ethan couldn’t stop the pained, animalistic sound that escaped him.
“And then?” Rowan asked.
Grief and rage and loss warred within him, none more dominant than the other, until revenge settled into the mix. “She was taken from me,” Ethan said with cold quiet. “Her life was cut short by Sean, a man who thought it his right to give and take as he saw fit. My brother,” Ethan spat even as he clutched his shirt over his heart and pulled. “He… Gods, save me, I saw…”

“Enough,” Rowan said gently, not looking at him but, seemingly, at nothing.

Ethan knew better. He looked in the same direction, resented that he couldn’t see her, hear her, touch her. Pressing his hand flat over his chest, he bowed his head. “I can’t even kill him, seeing as he’s probably already dead.” He sighed. “I can’t remember.”

A heavy, male hand landed on his shoulder. “Sean Cannavan was cast out of the Arcanum and shunned by all Druids when I was a wee lad. It was never known why by any of the elders. There’s a chance your brother lives, but if he does? He’s lost everything, Ethan. Sean was infamously banished. The decree set down by the Elder’s Council said he was never to be acknowledged by a Druid again. He was sent into a life of absolute exile, Ethan. Not much you can do that’s worse than that.”

Ethan smiled, slow and sure. “You’ve never seen me lose my temper.”

“No one’s heard from him in centuries. As far as I know, he’s presumed dead. How do you intend to avenge someone who’s already dead?”

He glanced at Rowan. “Helps to have a friend who sees dead people.”

“I won’t be responsible for helping you strike out blindly. Only heartache comes from foolishness.”

Ethan shot to his feet and gripped Rowan by the bi- ceps, ignoring the man’s pointed look. “If she was yours? If you could set to rights your own loss? And if not that, at least deliver some semblance of justice that might, might, let you sleep at night?”

Rowan went rigid as he closed his eyes. “Aye, man. I’d do whatever was necessary.” Then he looked at Ethan. “Whatever was necessary.”

“Then you’ll understand that I need to borrow your power. I need to talk to her.”

The giant Druid’s eyebrows shot to his hairline at the same time a cold gust of air blew over Ethan.

He spun toward the disturbance. “Isibéal?”

The window to his right exploded outward and rained glass down the side of the keep, the merry, tinkling sound in direct opposition to the violent war of emotions that raged within him.

Isibéal was gone.

Ethan stared out into the night sky and rested one hand over his heart.

He would find a way to touch her, hold her, save her from an eternity of nothingness and avenge the wrong done her—them—if those were the last things he did.

And they very well might be.

About Kelli

Kelli Ireland spent more than a decade as a name on a door in corporate America. Unexpectedly liberated by Fate’s sense of humor, she chose to carpe the diem and pursue her passion for writing. Ever a fan of happily-ever-afters, she discovered she loved being the Puppet Master for the most unlikely couples. Seeing them through the best and worst of each other while helping them survive the joys and disasters of falling in love? Best. Thing. Ever.

You can find out more about Kelli by visiting her website at www.kelliireland.com.

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The Night Mark – Tiffany Reisz – 4 stars

March 27, 2017 Mira, NetGalley, Read in 2017 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Night Mark – Tiffany Reisz – 4 starsThe Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Mira Books on March 28th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary, Romance, 20th Century
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

From the bestselling author of The Bourbon Thief comes a sweeping tale of loss and courage, where one woman discovers that her destiny is written in sand, not carved in stone.

Faye Barlow is drowning. After the death of her beloved husband, Will, she cannot escape her grief and most days can barely get out of bed. But when she's offered a job photographing South Carolina's storied coast, she accepts. Photography, after all, is the only passion she has left.

In the quaint beach town, Faye falls in love again when she sees the crumbling yet beautiful Bride Island lighthouse and becomes obsessed with the legend surrounding The Lady of the Light—the keeper's daughter who died in a mysterious drowning in 1921. Like a moth to a flame, Faye is drawn to the lighthouse for reasons she can't explain. While visiting it one night, she is struck by a rogue wave and a force impossible to resist drags Faye into the past—and into a love story that is not her own.

Fate is changeable. Broken hearts can mend. But can she love two men separated by a lifetime?

I find myself a bit torn with this book.  I quite enjoyed it but I am struggling with explaining why it resonated with me.  This is definitely a different style of writing by an author who I have enjoyed getting to read and meet but it still resonates as a Tiffany Reisz story even without the sexual content.

We get to see a woman who hasn’t been herself in years.  She’s at a huge crossroads where life is not really something she cares to embrace but at the same time she does have a very strong spirit that pulls her forward no matter how much another part of her wants to let go.  I felt for her as we are introduced to her at a moment where she finally lets some things go.  I found myself intrigued by the idea of having someone that meant so much to you in such a short time.  I also felt for the fact that the man she married out of grief? obligation? comfort?  had to suffer as well.  Neither of them deserved what happened but I will say that the reader can rest assured as the story is told and resolved for them.

The time travel aspect was something I wasn’t certain that I’d enjoy but I found myself comfortably following the story line as we moved from now to then and back again.  There was a sense of continuity in both timelines that wouldn’t exist had we not done the jumps.  I also loved the priest who made me laugh with his humor and candor.  I think the underlying theme is one of hope in the face of adversity and that having the love of your life stolen from you way too soon does not mean life is over.  I think that this story highlights that love can happen again if one is very lucky and open to the chance.

I’m rambling and I know I am but this underscores why I am struggling with explaining this book.  I can just say that I quite enjoyed it and hope that others will give this a chance.  I hope you are drawn in to the story and want to know how it all works out.

four-stars

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The Queen – Tiffany Reisz – 5 stars

November 2, 2015 Harlequin, NetGalley, Read in 2015 0

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Queen – Tiffany Reisz – 5 starsThe Queen by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Mira on 2015-11-01
Genres: BDSM, Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
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five-stars

Once upon a time, Nora and Søren made a fateful deal—if he gave her everything, she would give him forever. 

The time has finally come to keep their promises. 

Out of money and out of options after her yearlong exile, Eleanor Schreiber agrees to join forces with Kingsley Edge, the king of kink. After her first taste of power as a Dominant, Eleanor buries her old submissive self and transforms into Mistress Nora, the Red Queen. With the help of a mysterious young man with a job even more illicit than her own, Nora squares off against a cunning rival in her quest to become the most respected, the most feared Dominatrix in the Underground.

While new lovers and the sweet taste of freedom intoxicate Nora, she is tempted time and time again by Søren, her only love and the one man who refuses to bow to her. But when Søren accepts a new church assignment in a dangerous country, she must make an agonizing choice—will the queen keep her throne and let her lover go, or trade in her crown for Søren's collar?

With a shattering final confession, the last link in the chain is forged in The Original Sinners saga. It's the closing chapter in a story of salvation, sacrifice and the multitude of scars we collect in the name of ecstasy—and love.

Ok I am going to do a rare thing and use gifs to help a bit with summing up my thoughts going in to this book…

This was me as I processed the end of the Original Sinners series…

Which was closely followed by:

You see like many others I DID NOT want to let these characters go but Tiffany gives us a great story that ends in a way that made me very happy even as I was sobbing because it was over.

I can’t say much without possibly spoiling some of it but we get:

  • Confessional Sex – not a spoiler because Tiffany promised us this and YEP she delivered.
  • Kingsley being his usual self with all the personality in the world and such a deep love for our beloved priest even when he was at odds with him.
  • A sense of the gamesmanship between the trio and how that impacts those around them.
  • A better idea of the dynamics between Nora and Søren as they struggled to understand what they were to one another.
  • Did I mention confessional sex???  Cause…  if not…  CONFESSIONAL SEX….  yes I went there… *fans self*
  • An amazing scene that made me all sentimental and was such a great way to address certain items.  (Can I be any more vague? *cue evil laugh*)

All in all this was a story of a woman finally coming in to her own, a man who is driven to do things because of his need to punish that which he loves the most, a man who loves but won’t open his eyes and mind to what his love really needs or who they are, and a glimpse at the incredible people they have become after so many years near and with one another.

I hate that we are done with the series but Tiffany hasn’t completely closed the door to additional stories with these characters but instead has closed the door, for now, to longer glimpses at their lives.  We may still see them popping up in other places but for now I must accept that Søren is taking a small break from us to continue being with those he loves the most and  I can always go back and read those stories again.

I must say thank you so much to Tiffany and all the people who worked so hard on this series.  You’ve made me more comfortable with experimenting with things that seem outside my comfort zone which means I have expanded my horizons in reading and life.  I cannot thank you enough for opening these doors for me.

five-stars

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Shoulda Been A Cowboy – Maisey Yates – 3 stars

April 25, 2015 Harlequin, NetGalley, Read in 2015, Readathon 2015 0

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Shoulda Been A Cowboy – Maisey Yates – 3 starsShoulda Been a Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Published by HQN Books on 2015-03-01
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 111
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
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three-stars

In this sexy, sweet prequel novella to her new series, USA TODAY bestselling author Maisey Yates welcomes readers to the charming small town of Copper Ridge, Oregon, where it's never too late for second chances.There's not much about his teenage years that Jake Caldwell can be proud of. Except maybe for keeping his hands off cute, kindhearted Cassie Ventimiglia. She was the only one who saw him as more than a tattooed rebel who couldn't wait to leave the ranching life behind. Now he's back in Copper Ridge to sell his father's property—and staying right above Cassie's coffee shop. And out of nowhere, the girl he's never forgotten is offering a whole lot more than fresh-baked muffins…Jake's dark, smoldering appeal hasn't changed one bit. But Cassie has. Following everyone else's rules didn't quite work out. Time to ask for what she's always wanted…and what Jake's more than happy to give: a wild, hot romance that could make a one-time bad boy realize he's back for good.Don't miss Part Time Cowboy, the first in the Copper Ridge series, from HQN Books!www.MaiseyYates.com

Nice quick read from Maisey Yates with a not really a bad guy falling for a not really a good girl.  Well…  they both have their moments but ultimately they are true human beings with wants and needs that don’t fall fully in either camp.

Cassie has always been the good girl.  She has always followed the path of least resistance only ever trying to be something that would be worth all the sacrifices her mother made.  She only ever tried for something (sort of) once and that ended up with the boy she felt everything for leaving after she even expressed an interest.  She’s now divorced, living in a rented apartment and starting her own coffee shop.  She still is in a rut trying to be the good, dependable Cassie everyone expects but the arrival of her high-school crush causes her to do something unexpected.  She tries for what she wants and needs rather than be the person they all expect.  I adored seeing her take this chance and felt for her as she struggles with not knowing what it will bring.

Jake isn’t the bad guy people made him out to be.  Did he steal? Yes… Did he do other things that weren’t good? Yes… but when you see what was actually driving him you understood it.  He has been drawn to Cassie from shortly after they met but knew he wasn’t good for her.  He left because of something else and now is in town only to clean up his father’s holdings so he can head back to Seattle to take hold of what he thinks he needs.  As he spends time in Copper Ridge he struggles with not only his feelings for Cassie but his past and what drove him to where he is now.  I enjoyed his struggle and was happy when we finally get to see the man behind the mask.  He’s a good guy who just needed someone to truly see him.

Overall a nice start to a series and I will have to read more….

three-stars

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The Virgin – Tiffany Reisz – 5 stars

March 30, 2015 Harlequin, NetGalley, Read in 2015 0

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Virgin – Tiffany Reisz – 5 starsThe Virgin by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Harlequin Enterprises, Limited on March 31, 2015
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
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five-stars

The controversial story before the story continues in the critically acclaimed and award-winning series The Original Sinners.

For years, Kingsley Edge warned Eleanor the day would come when she, the mistress of a well-respected Catholic priest, would have to run and hide. She always imagined if that day came she'd be running away with Søren. But instead, she's running from him.

Knowing Søren and Kingsley will their use their influence to bring her back, Eleanor alone, penniless and scared takes refuge at the one place the men in her life cannot follow: the abbey where her mother has taken orders. Behind the cloistered gates of the convent, Eleanor hides from the man she loves and hates in equal measure

She cannot, however, hide from her true nature. When Eleanor befriends a young virginal nun, she faces a startling sexual awakening. But Eleanor can't stay forever, and the lure of her real life beckons beyond the locked gates. But to follow her fate means to leave Kyrie behind, a sacrifice Eleanor refuses to make

The lure of the forbidden. The temptation to sin. The price of passion has never been higher, and Eleanor will have to pay it if she ever wants to go home again.

What do you get when you have a woman who isn’t so good at holding her tongue and a convent?  What happens when the thing you never expected happen …. happens?  What do you do when all that you know is up in the air and things look their worst?

These questions all get answered in this book and we get to go on a journey where a King meets his Queen and a young woman finally realizes who she is along with who she isn’t.

We also get to see Juliette’s reaction to Kingsley in a kilt and to see the start of the wedding that we all have been cheering for.  By the way I can’t say I would blame Juliette in the least not to mention the sight of Kingsley and Søren in kilts might make me a bit … ummmm…  yeah…  If you didn’t know who Tiffany had in mind for the two men above let me clue you in… For Søren – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau  and for Kingsley – Gaspard Ulliel

*Gives you a few minutes to cool down*

Again I am going to be careful to not give spoilers as I adore this series and the twists/turns are what make me happiest as I read these.  We get to see Nora start to evolve in to the woman we know in The Siren and the path she is on is one that all of us go thru in our lives.  I mean we all have those moments where we just don’t know what to do…  We don’t know who we really are nor do we have any idea of what to do with the rest of our lives until if we are lucky we have one of those moments where everything becomes clear.  Granted most of ours don’t involve discovering you are a switch in love with one of the most clearly dominant men known….  Also most of ours don’t involve running to a convent where you discover love and also what you are meant to be in the next part of your life.

I adored watching Elle become more and more her own person but mainly watch her mature in the time she has in hiding.  She’s starting to wise up and realize that things aren’t always so determined but that she not only has talent but is also her own person outside of the relationship that has defined her since she first met her priest.  She’s also good at realizing the best thing for her is outside the walls but the best thing for someone else is not the same…  This made me sad but also quite happy as it was the right decision and truly made for the right reason.

Now…  my favorite part of this was….  Kingsley meeting his Juliette…  I loved seeing our jaded and oh so weary King meet the woman who we know holds a big part of his heart and is his match in every single way.  Her story made me sad but it also sheds light on why they work so well together plus seeing King floored is something precious.  He’s very much a man who still hasn’t decided what he wants to be but in meeting her…. well…  we get to see the man we all adore as he steps up to be what he has always been meant to be.  I loved his journey and how this plays out as Nora is also having her own awakening.

The way the two stories weave together is amazing and it kept me enthralled from beginning to end.  The slight breaks as we get to see a bit of present day helps keep you from being overwhelmed but seeing two key figures finally get on the path that will ultimately bring them complete happiness was wondrous and beautiful even as it was angsty and painful.

As much as this pains me to say… only one more book to go….  I can’t wait for The Queen as much as I curse it as it will be the last book for a while (I’m holding out hope for more) from Tiffany with these characters as the primary focus.

 

five-stars

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The King – Tiffany Reisz – 5 stars

January 22, 2015 Harlequin, NetGalley, Read in 2015 0

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The King – Tiffany Reisz – 5 starsThe King by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Harlequin Enterprises, Limited on 2014-11-25
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
The King: The Original Sinners Book 6<img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=booaholano0c-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00L0XO1VK" target="_blank">Buy on Amazon
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five-stars

Cunning. Sex. Pure nerve. Only this potent threesome can raise him to his rightful place as ruler of Manhattan's kink kingdom.

 

Bouncing from bed to bed on the Upper East Side—handsomely paid in both bills and blackmail fodder—Kingsley Edge is brilliant, beautiful and utterly debauched. No carnal act or chemical compound can relieve his self-destructive apathy—only Søren, the one person he loves without limit or regret. A man he can never have, but in whose hands Kingsley is reborn to attain even greater heights of sin. He plans to open the ultimate BDSM club­: a dungeon playground for New York's A-list that'll change the scene forever.

 

The club becomes Kingsley's obsession—and he's enlisted some tough-as-nails help. His new assistant Sam is smart, secretive and totally immune to seduction (by men, at least). She and Kingsley make a wicked team. Still, their combined—and considerable—expertise in domination can't subdue the man who would kill their dream. The enigmatic Reverend Fuller won't rest until King's dream is destroyed. It's one man's sacred mission against another's….

I was a little late reading this due to a bit of a reading slump that took up most of my October, November and December…  I’m going to apologize to those who might have been interested in knowing my feelings on this one back when it first released but hey…  things happen..

Now..  I keep trying to forget that we only have 2 more stories after this one about our beloved Nora, Søren and Kingsley *whimpers* and this one helps remind me why I love this series, Tiffany’s writing and the world of the Original Sinners.  Like the others in the White Years we see glimpses of the current day interspersed with memories of the past and how they made the personalities in to those we fell in love with in the Red Years.  This one focuses on Kingsley and his complex relationship with Søren.  We get to see how the Eight Circle came in to being and finally get to see Sam.

Kingsley is at a crossroads in his life where all he does is indulge in self-destructive behavior doing nothing but being a playboy and running a not so clean club.  While he has some of the New York elite in his pocket he isn’t the power broker we see in the Red Years.  He’s still a bit lost after nearly being killed and missing something major from his life.  He likes to play but he hasn’t found something to truly make him feel alive until a figure from his past starts to make an appearance in his life once again….  Søren…  the man he loves and in some ways hates…  It hurt to see the vibrant King we know and love in the Red Years as such a shadow in the beginning of this.  I loved getting a glimpse of his pain in most ways but it wasn’t easy to read at times because of the pain.

I enjoyed seeing Søren and getting a glimpse of what was going on while the story told in The Saint was unfolding.  King was enjoyable as he realized how much his former lover would have to deal with if he ever opened his eyes to the other side of his precious Eleanor.  I also loved hearing about the readings that both Søren and Kingsley had from their Domme teacher as we know they ended up being fulfilled in a way that made me extremely happy.  I also enjoyed the story of Sam and how she plays a critical role in what becomes The Eighth Circle.  She was a character I want to see more of and I hope that Tiffany will give us a bit more of her in a short story or extra.

I have two favorite moments –

  • How the name of the club came to be – let’s just say there’s some fun that was had by King …  *snicker* and a certain other person.
  • Kingsley holding baby Fionn.  Seriously it was a beautiful moment and the love Grace shows for everyone is inspiring.

Once again this story has moments of hot sex but this story is more about how things came in to being and about the heart behind our trio.  I love these stories because of the story and the sexual aspect is secondary.

five-stars

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