Wild and Sweet- Rhenna Morgan

Wild and Sweet is the second book in my new favorite contemporary series by Rhenna Morgan. Seriously, if you haven’t met the Haven Brotherhood yet by reading about Jace in “Rough and Tumble”, you absolutely should do that now. And guess what? Zeke is just as appealing as Jace, just in an entirely different way. 
The Story

Zeke is a trauma doc and is one of the amazing men who make up the Haven Brotherhood. When the sister of one of his close friends has a dangerous run-in, Zeke comes to the rescue and is knocked off his feet. Gabe is a mechanic and has never been great with people. When Zeke begins to show interest in her, Gabe has trouble believing that it’s real. 
My Thoughts

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this series. It’s like Morgan has taken a different male fantasy for each book and drops them one by one for us like candy on a trail that I never want to end. Zeke, the hot doc with a heart of gold, is not as obvious and brazen as Jace from the previous book, but he sneaks up on you and by the end of the book, I couldn’t pick between the two. His care and process in making Gabe feel safe and loved would make any woman jealous. Gabe is also an interesting character in her own right, and it is refreshing that Morgan has no inhibitions about her characters having flaws like normal people. It makes it that much more satisfying when those normal people find exceptional love. 
The Bottom Line-

This is an excellent addition to this series, and I will be buying every book in this series. If you like your contemporary with amazing alpha males and just enough edge to have an excellent plot without overdosing on the danger drama, these books are so for you! 5 stars
This eARC was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

My One True Highlander

“My One True Highlander” by Suzanne Enoch is perfect catnip for lovers of the Scottish highlander subgenre of romance. I’ll admit it: I’m addicted to this genre.  There’s something inherently romantic to me about the Highlands and a kilt, a brogue and a tall Highlander. If you are like me, and enjoy these things along with a great, funny plot and a sassy heroine, you will totally enjoy this book as much as I did.

The Story- 

Marjorie was trained to be a lady’s maid or a governess, but when her brother is made a Duke due to distant family connections, she hopes to take her place among London society.  Unfortunately, society sees her as an impudent upstart and refuses to accept her.  Her brother’s recent marriage to a Scottish woman prompts her to travel to the Highlands for a visit and a respite from the cold, unfeeling people that are rejecting her. Graeme is a chieftan, unsure of how to placate the leader of his clan who wants to unseat the new English Duke in their region.  When his presumptuous younger brothers kidnap the Duke’s sister in an ill-conceived plan to win favor, he is in a bit of a bind.  But the Duke’s sister is not the fine, uppity lady he expected, and her situation becomes more complicated each day.

My Thoughts-

I’m having trouble deciding whether I enjoyed the plot or characters more for this one.  Graeme’s brothers and his relationship with them is refreshingly different from most secondary character plot devices used in romance.  They truly serve a purpose in the plot and provide depth to the story.  Marjorie is a great heroine, and I absolutely loved her backstory of not fitting in. It made her finding her place in the Highlands that much more satisfying. It also brought some humor to the situation as Graeme keeps being surprised by her. 

The Bottom Line-

This book is thoroughly enjoyable, but will especially please those readers like me who love to be transported to Scotland. It avoids common pitfalls and provides a fresh plot while satisfying with beloved tropes. I cannot wait to go back and read the first book in this series and look forward to those to come. 5 stars

I Dared the Duke- Anna Bennett

idared

“I Dared the Duke” is the second book in Anna Bennett’s Wayward Wallflowers novels, but you certainly don’t need to read the first one in order to enjoy this one. This was my first read from Bennett, and it turned out to be just the historical catnip I needed.

The Story-

Beth is the new companion to the grandmother of the Duke of Blackshire.  She is happy to be needed and cares greatly for the older woman. When the Duke intimates his plan to move his grandmother to the country, Beth proposes a deal requiring the Duke to grant three wishes for the woman in exchange for convincing her to make the move. Alexander has had multiple attempts on his life, and now only his grandmother’s new companion stands in the way of moving her to the country so that he can investigate the potential murderer with no danger to his family.

My Thoughts-

Initially, I thought Beth was going to be a boring character, but over and over, she stands up for herself and her companion. She has a wit that is not immediately obvious, and it soon becomes clear that Alexander needs her more than she needs him. I thought the plot clicked right along with never a clear lull, and the conclusion was completely satisfying. The characters are well-developed, including some secondary characters like the Duke’s best friend and grandmother.

The Bottom Line-

If you enjoy historical romance, you should not miss this one. It is a perfect little confection of happiness with a compelling plot and great characters. I’m definitely going back to read the first in this series! 4 1/2 stars

The Black Lily- Juliette Cross

My two favorite genres are historical and paranormal.  Imagine my delight when one of my favorite authors, Juliette Cross, decided to write a series of fairytale retellings with vampires.  The first book in the series, “The Black Lily” is Arabelle’s (Cinderella) story and beautifully sets the stage for the books to come. You see, this isn’t a normal YA-style fairytale retelling… this one is full of the dark edge I’ve come to expect from Juliette (side note: You must read her Vessel Trilogy if you haven’t).

The Story-

Arabelle is going to the ball, which is actually a chance for the Prince to select his new blood concubine.  But, she doesn’t isn’t there to win Prince Marius’s heart: she wants to pierce it with a gold dagger.  Arabelle, aka The Black Lily, is the leader of a resistance organization of the same name.  She is a badass woman, entirely in control of her own sexuality and agenda.  Marius goes through the motions, but is beginning to sense that something is not right in his kingdom.  An attempt on his life sets him on a path he never expected to find a woman he never should have wanted.

My Thoughts-

World-building has always been a strength of Cross, and this is no exception.  I completely understood the vampire monarchy and the “rules” within this society almost immediately.  While these vampires are legally limited from killing humans, these are no sparkling, animal-eating creatures.  There is true danger here, and Arabelle’s strength and intelligence in fighting that threat drive the book as well as the undeniable chemistry between her and Marius.  Can we talk about that chemistry for a minute?  From almost the first meeting, there is this spark that is completely believable between the two, and I was actually surprised by the outcome of that meeting.  Throw in a late-night lake bath that gets interrupted and a surprise visit to her cottage, and you have some very hot moments. But, even more than the sexual tension, what comes across through the snappy dialogue is that these characters really “get” each other.  Even with the fast-paced plot, the secondary characters are true people that we get to know and root for and cry for.  I can’t wait to see some of them again! Finally, the twists and reveals are wonderful. I love when everything is not as it seems.

The Bottom Line-

This is an excellent introduction to a series that I cannot wait to devour.  These vampires feel fresh, and the fairytale premise is less of a restrictive plot device than it is a creative frame in which the author flourishes.  If you love the dark edge of paranormal AND the transporting world of historical, this book is a must-read.  5 stars

Amazon: The Black Lily

The Bastard Billionaire- Jessica Lemmon

bastardbillionaire

“The Bastard Billionaire” is my first book by Jessica Lemmon, and I have to admit that I totally selected this book based on the cover. Love the combination of the tattoos and the suit! I really expected this to be about a true bastard, not just a guy who acts like a bastard/jerk. But, even though it wasn’t entirely what I expected, I was not disappointed.

The Story-

Eli was in the military and had a traumatic experience where he lost a leg and two friends.  His wealthy family is desperate for him to take his place in the family business, but he wants to wallow alone in his depression/guilt. So, he acts like an absolute asshole to every assistant that is sent his way. Apparently his “meanness” has sent many an assistant away, crying. (Who are these weak women than can’t handle a bit of a jerk?) Isabella happens to own the agency sending the assistants, and now she is planning on going in herself, pretending to be an assistant, in order to keep their business and smooth relations until she can replace herself with a viable option. Eli acts like a jerk; she takes none of his crap. (Surprise, surprise!)

My Thoughts-

The main reason I actually enjoyed this book despite the predictable plot and jerk hero is the heroine, Isabella.  She is smart, self-assured, beautiful, and never whiny. Isabella is confident, and gives us someone to root for. Parts of this book dragged for me; it felt like a similar conflict kept arising between the two, only to be resolved, then to come back later.  There are some excellent moments, though, that make this book thoroughly enjoyable.  The “hot” scenes are both realistic and completely steamy at the same time: button snipping, I am thinking of you… And, our hero redeems himself fully in several critical scenes involving Isabella’s past and insecurities.

The Bottom Line-

The billionaire aspect of this book is practically non-existent, which is a good thing to me. Eli doesn’t act like a jerk because he’s a billionaire; that actually barely registers in his life. He has some real issues to work through. Isabella is an excellent character: the perfect balance of soft and confident that many women aspire to. I recommend this book for fans of contemporary with strong female characters and damaged men. 4 stars

The Beast of Aros Castle- Heather McCollum


I’ll admit it: this is another one where the cover absolutely was the reason I wanted to read the book.  In fact, I was slightly worried with the word “beast” in the title that it might be too… something … for me. But, I love highlanders, and I love the tiny islands that surround my dream land of Scotland. So, yep… this was not a difficult choice. “The Beast of Aros Castle” paid off and successfully provided a lovely jaunt across the sea.
The Story-

Ava is a commoner that was taken in by a noble family in England; she’s more than a servant, but not treated exactly as family, especially by the horrific brother who is soon to inherit upon his father’s death. Fearing rape, forced marriage and other terrible outcomes, Ava and Grace, her best friend and daughter of the family, scheme to escape by marrying Grace off to a Scottish laird.  When Grace fears going through with the marriage, Ava decides to step up, pretend to be Grace, and marry Tor Maclean herself. The plan is to eventually slip away and live on their own in Scotland, away from threats.   Tor is not interested in marrying again after being deceived the first time around.  But, this feisty woman refuses to give up, and a man can’t hold out forever, can he?
My Thoughts-

I really loved Ava for her wit, intelligence and courage.  Honestly, as much as I liked the hero, I’m not entirely sure he’s good enough for her.  The relationship between her and Grace added to the story; I just love it when we see a healthy female relationship where they support each other.  The bad guy is really bad (perverse, evil, plotting), and I thought the resolution was extremely satisfying.  There are some great twists and surprises in this story, and I became very invested in Ava.
The Bottom Line-

The island setting was refreshing for a Scottish-set romance, and the heroine is certainly more than your typical damsel-in-distress.  I’m already scouring Heather McCollum’s backlist for more! 4 stars

Rough and Tumble- Rhenna Morgan 


Contemporary isn’t normally my jam. I like my romance to let me escape to another world or another time, but let me tell you: if Rough and Tumble represents now, I want to stay.   Ms. Morgan has previously been a fantasy fave of mine, but in this new series, her writing, her characters, and her heat level hit a new ballpark altogether.
The Story-

Vivienne has always helped her sister out of bad decisions. In fact, her sister’s bad decisions have informed how she lives her life: clean and safe.  When she meets Jace while saving her sister from yet another drunken scrape, he is anything but clean and safe. He is a rough alpha that immediately tempts her to let her wild side loose.
My Thoughts-

Jace is everything. He is the perfect blend of alpha: protective, directive, but aims to please in only the best way. Things that would sound cocky or annoying coming out of most character’s mouths just sound sexy when Jace says them. I melted my way through this book, reading and rereading chapters. Viv is totally relatable, with a great dog and a funky room that I wish I had in my own house. The Haven Brothers (just wait!) are each special in their own way, and I think Ms. Morgan decided to create a series based on the various fantasies of women. We have a cowboy, a doctor, a brooding security guy, a hot nerd, and a Scot. I think that about covers it, right ladies? I am personally most excited about the hot nerd, Knox, and the Scot. What can I say? I have a weakness for plaid… Either way, this book is the perfect introduction to what I believe will be an amazing series.
Bottom Line-

This book is special. Like 5 stars, life-changing, special. I will read it again, and I can’t wait to hear what they do with the audio book. If Jace sounds as hot as he is in this book, that is gonna be totally worth it. If you like contemporary, this is such a no-brainer. If you don’t, this book may just convert you. Warning: it is so hot. Don’t get me wrong; there is a definite love story, and it is not just sex, but Jace makes it hot as hell even when they are just chit-chatting.  Yes, I am raving, but if this book doesn’t get nominated for some stuff this year, I will be shocked. It’s that good. 5 very strong, shiny gold stars!

BUY IT NOW!

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Carina Press – http://bit.ly/RT1-CP

Millionaire Makeover- Naima Simone

“Millionaire Makeover” is my first book by Naima Simone, and it will definitely not be my last. Right up front: this is not a typical millionaire book.  And for me, that’s a good thing. For some reason, the trope of some prick rich guy falling for his secretary doesn’t really speak to me (Pride and Prejudice notwithstanding).  The fact that the guy has money is not really integral to the plot; in fact, this is really more of a second chance romance. 

The Story-

When Niall’s best friend and practically brother died, he had a one-night stand with BFF’s younger sister.  It was everything, but when he woke in the morning, he found a letter from dead BFF asking him to take care of her and help her find a guy “worthy” of her.  Since he feels that he is definitely NOT that worthy guy, he backs off and leaves her.  Fast-forward a few years, and Khloe has a good job and a crush on her boss.  When her best friend suggests making her appear more desirable by taking a hot date from a bachelor auction to an upcoming function, Khloe reluctantly agrees.  Of course, the bachelors are masked, so she doesn’t realize that she is, in fact, bidding on Niall.

My Thoughts-

My favorite thing about this book is how much Niall appreciates Khloe for who she is.  He has no desire to change her; he worships her curves. He daydreams about all the naughty things that he wants to do to her. He showers her with gifts.  I also love how normal Khloe is.  She doesn’t normally dress up for work, preferring comfy, loose clothing (hello Lularoe!) and is generally laid-back.  Khloe’s “makeover” is not about changing who she is because Niall is all about who she is.  It’s more about pampering her and making her feel special. Who doesn’t want that?  The romance was perfectly built with so many hot moments before they even got it on.  And OMG, this book made me cry. Sentimental sigh. I did not expect to have so many feels from a “millionaire” book. 

The Bottom Line-

This is a wonderful contemporary.  I will be reading more from Ms. Simone very soon. She has hooked me into her millionaire books, at least, and who knows? Maybe I judged the genre too quickly. Either way, this receives a sentimental 5 stars from me and a great big smile/sigh. 

The Duke- Kerrigan Byrne

This is my first Kerrigan Byrne, and I have to tell you… after coming off Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series, I was a little worried about reading a historical that might not be able to match the intensity. Boy, was I wrong! Byrne has her own dark intensity, and at one point, I literally said, “what!?! oh my gosh!” 

The Story- 
Imogen is stuck tending bar at a whorehouse because her dad ran up a ton of debt before he died. One night, a young Duke strolls in and pays for her virginity. The experience changes the both of them and will influence both of their paths as the years pass. 

My Thoughts-
OMG, I love Imogen. I think she is my spirit animal, if that can be said of a character. The way she picks herself up and focuses on creating and being light and life inspires me. I’m honestly not sure the Duke is worthy of her, but she wants him, so that’s good enough for me. Her story is so good, but will definitely surprise you. The tension between the two is palpable, and the pain that they both feel is so real that all the reactions make complete sense. You feel like these are two people that have truly been to hell and back and are coming to grips with it. Don’t get me wrong: this book will also make you laugh out loud and cheer Imogen’s wit. 

Bottom Line-
If you are a fan of historical romance that has a dark edge and intriguing, fully-developed characters, you will love this! I can’t wait to go back and read the rest of the series. 5 stars

Hooked- Christina Phillips

I’ll admit it: this cover “hooked” me. (tee hee!) Between the cover and the motorcycle club being the “Viking Bastards”, umm yeah, I was on board. This is my first book by Christina Phillips, but it will not be my last. 

The Story-
Grace’s car happens to break down in the “wrong side of town” on the day after she breaks off her engagement to a stuffy prick. When she wanders into Odin’s, a biker bar named after the Viking god, she and Zach have immediate sparks that they decide to act on… on the pool table in the back room. Neither one is looking for something serious, but they can’t get enough of one another in more ways than one.

My Thoughts-
It’s been awhile since I read something in first person, so that took a little getting used to. The only thing about it that bothered me was the multiple swaps in a chapter, but I really did love hearing the characters’ inner voices. With people who are withholding so much information from the other party, that inner monologue clears things up for the reader. Both Zach and Grace are incredibly likable, and they heat up the pages of this book. I found it to be an extremely quick read that kept me smiling and turning pages. 

The Bottom Line-
I will be back for more Viking Bastards. I hope they are all as hot as Zach, and I can’t wait to meet them. This book was a piece of candy that I ate a little to fast, but has me reaching for another… 4 stars