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KarenS Capsule Review: Tempting Her Best Friend by Gina L. Maxwell...


Sensuality Rating: TORRID: Sex is explicit, but it doesn’t take over the whole damn book. There may be some kinky stuff too, but not much.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads.com;

Alyssa Miller is tired of waiting for her next-door neighbor to see her as more than just his best friend. Ready to let off some steam, she heads to Las Vegas for a romance book convention where, if she’s lucky, she’ll get down and dirty with one of the sexy cover models.

Dillon Alexander doesn’t do commitment—especially not where his best friend is concerned. She deserves a man who can give her the world, not damaged goods. But when he realizes Alyssa intends to have a one-night stand on her vacation, he hauls ass after her to make sure he’s the one to scratch her itch.

Neither of them expects their explosive chemistry to burn hotter than the lights on the strip, but with a little help from Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, a flamboyant matchmaker, and TSA, what happens in Vegas might not stay in Vegas…

I never met a friends-to-lovers book that I didn’t like, and Tempting Her Best Friend by Gina L. Maxwell was no exception. I read this book in about an hour and a half and I really liked it. There were some really sweet moments, and it was great to have a heroine who knew what she wanted and went after it – ish. For such a short story, it had surprising depth, but it was also amusing in parts, as the following quote from one of the secondary characters trying to help Alyssa win back her man, can attest to:

A spark of hope flared in her chest. “Can you?”
His eyebrows hitched arrogantly as if to scold her for even doubting him. Holding the door open, he said, “Honey, as far as you’re concerned, this is Oz, and I’m the motherfucking Wizard.”

The best thing about the book was that it was only £.99, so if you fancy a really sexy and lovely friends-to-lovers story, you can Kindle the book from Amazon.com here.

KarenS Capsule Review: You Own Me, by Shiloh walker

You own me

Sensuality Rating: TORRID: Sex is explicit, but it doesn’t take over the whole damn book. There may be some kinky stuff too, but not much.

This book was phenomenal y’all, but then Shiloh Walker rarely lets me down.

Check out the blurb from her website:

It had always been her…
Ten years had passed since the doors slammed shut behind Decker Calhoun, taking away his freedom, but more importantly, locking him away from Elizabeth Waters, the only woman he’d ever loved—the woman he’d given up everything for. The day he was sentenced, he’d looked at her and said, No regrets, Lizzie.
But he lied, because he did have one. Although he’s been out of jail for three years now, he was a year too late. Lizzie never knew how he felt and just months before he was released, she found somebody else and it’s too late.
Or maybe not. It seems that Lizzie’s boyfriend wants an open relationship and two can play at that game. Now all Decker has to do is convince Lizzie that he’s the better man…and has been all along.

This was such a different feeling book, it really was. I have to say, I kinda loved the fact that Decker, the hero, had been in jail, I’m not sure what that says about me, but of course, it’s a romance, so he had a damned good reason for what he did. This is one of those books you might pick up not quite knowing what to expect, but man it was worth reading. I started reading it, and I just couldn’t stop. It was bloody fantastic.

I loved the heroine, loved the plot, loved the relationship between Decker and Lizzie. Guys there was such great emotional depths to this book, and of course the sexual element was sizzling too, but the moments of truth between them, and the scenes where the intense longing between the two of them fairly leaped off the page, are what made this a fantastic read for me. Oh, and did I mention that it was a friends-to-lovers theme? You all know what a sucker I am for those, and nobody does it better than Ms Walker.

If you want to check out an excerpt, flip to Shiloh’s site here, and you can Kindle this at Amazon.com here. Trust me, you won’t be sorry that you did.

KarenS Review, The Academy by Emmaline Andrews

Sensuality Rating – Candy Floss

The Academy is a book that was recommended to me by somebody (I forget who now) absolutely ages ago. It’s been on my TBR file on my Kindle forever, and one day while I was waiting for something (probably the doctor’s) I decided to give it a go.

Set in the future, The Academy is told from the heroine, Kristina Jameson’s point of view. Kristina has a twin Kristopher, who’s father expects to enroll in an academy for boys, in order for him to get a commission to the space corps. The problem is, Kristopher has no interest in flying his own ship, all he wants to do is study music, something which is unacceptable to their father, who’s keen for them to uphold the family tradition. Kristina on the other hand would love nothing more than to go the academy, she’s the one who excels at astro navigation and inter-dimensional calculus. Unfortunately for Kris, she’s a girl and so her only option is to attend charm school. Something she’s clearly not interested in.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Kris manages to fool her way into The Royal Academy by pretending that she’s Kristopher. She ends up rooming with an outwardly surly young man called North, and ends up inadvertently making an enemy of one of the main bully boys in the school.

When Kris lands in a dorm room with North, she realises that she may not have thought things through, especially when it came to how to manage her personal hygiene in private. The showers were communal, and the students were restricted in terms of when they could make use of the them. This opportunity to shower was so limited that Kris was unable to shower for a few days, until help came from an unexpected quarter.

This was really a delightful story, and Kris was an engaging heroine. North seemed rude and surly when he first appeared, but gradually him and Kris developed an awkward friendship, that turned into something rather wonderful. Kris was teased because she was smaller than the other boys, so North was instinctively protective of her, obviously having no idea that Kris was in fact a girl. North develops feelings for Kris, and is very confused because he’s always liked girls.

I loved the ebb and flow of the book, it moved along at a fairly brisk pace, and didn’t really have spare moments for my mind to wander off. I think the author handled the confusion of North coming to terms with his sexuality really well, and even though the reader knows that Kris is a girl, there was a moment in the book that North’s feelings for Kris overrode the confusion and shame over his sexuality. There was a really beautiful moment in the book, where North throws off the shackles of his predetermined sexuality, and embraced his new feelings for another ‘boy’. I can’t lie, I may have cheered a little when that happened.

The villain of the piece was a scrote called Broward and he was the absolute worst. I think that he was actually the weakest part of the story because Ms Andrews made him cookie-cutter, “I will murder you in your sleep” bad, and so there were no layers to peel back, he was just an asshole who needed to die. Sometimes readers prefer to have black and white feelings about their villains. I am not one of those readers. All Broward needed was a handle bar mustache to twirl and his cookie-cutter-ness would have been complete.

That was pretty much my only niggle, ok maybe that and the obligatory campy homosexual teacher.

Overall a really solid effort by Ms Andrews, I eagerly await her next YA book.

You can buy The Academy from Amazon.com here. At $.99, it’s definitely worth every penny.

KarenS Capsule Review: Flirting With The Camera By Ros Clarke

Flirting with the camera 150 x 150

Sensuality Rating: STEAMY

This was a book that I decided to buy because I caught a random conversation on Twitter. I have no idea who the conversation was between, but I think the words “heroine with a great body image” or some such were included in there somewhere.

Anyway, here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

Hattie Bell is beautiful, brilliant and bigger than your average plus-sized model. For top fashion photographer Tom Metcalfe, Hattie is the muse he needs to help him break into the art world.

Working with Hattie is going to send his career rising into the stratosphere.

Falling in love with Hattie is going to bring his life crashing down around his feet.

The blurb is basic and really doesn’t do this story justice, but some of the things that I loved about Flirting With The Camera was the heroine. Hattie was a fun person who totally embraced her size, and knew that she was beautiful. How often do you get that in a romance? Hattie was an absolute breath of fresh air and her chemistry with Tom was on point.

I also liked Tom, he was pretty closed off, and was your quintessential tall, dark and mysterious guy, but he had real substance, and his back story was touching.

Anyway, if you fancy a read, you can download the book from Amazon.com here.

KarenS Quickfire Capsule Reviews - Hunger Games, Beauty Or The Bitch, And More...

Free fall by Jasmine Haynes

Sensuality Rating – Torrid

Blurb from Goodreads:

Deanna Rain has always made the safe choice, taken the safe job, dated the safe guys. But now she just has to bust out of her self-imposed chains or she’ll die. She needs to do something wild and crazy. Something like skydiving. What could be riskier or more wild than jumping out of a plane? Jumping tandem with Cole Johnson, that’s what. But with Cole, the risk might very well be to her heart.

Jumpmaster Cole Johnson is barely keeping his head above water. He’s supported his passion for skydiving by starting a parachuting school. But his bills are stacking up and his calendar is empty. Soon, he’ll have to close his doors to return to a nine-to-five job.

When Deanna shows up for a tandem jump, Cole knows this is going to be his last lesson. And he plans to go out with a bang.

Jesus, thank God this book was a freebie.

This story was just so damn random. It all went a bit pear-shaped for me when the heroine had an orgasm twice during a tandem parachute jump. COME ON!! Really? Really??

You can buy Free Fall from Amazon.com here.

The Hunger Games – Book 1

Sensuality Rating: YA Candyfloss (no sex here folks)

Blurb from Goodreads.com

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts.

The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I really enjoyed The Hunger Games, and actually found myself crying at a particularly poignant part of the book. Katniss’s relationship with Peeta was wonderfully complex, but yet this reader still wondered at what the end game would be between her and Gale, who she’d obviously left behind.

The conclusion of the book had me going straight to my Amazon page, and downloading the second installment.

The writing in this book was excellent and the world-building was second-to-none, but I stopped short of giving it five stars because the after effects didn’t stay with me long after I read it, which considering the subject matter, surprised me.

Still well worth reading though, and definitely an improvement over Fifty Shades of Grey. OK maybe that’s not saying much…

If you’re one of the few people who still havn’t read the book, you can but it here.

Beauty or The Bitch(A sexy contemporary retelling of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast) by Jasmine Haynes

Sensuality Level: Torrid (the lite edition)

Blurb from Goodreads.com

Reporter Dexter King is about to get the story of a lifetime. Shelby Stewart was the hottest rising star in Hollywood until suddenly, she was cursed. Retreating to her mountain hideaway, far from that fairy tale life, she hasn’t been seen in ten years. Now Dex will ferret out the truth behind her fall from Hollywood grace. But will he find a beauty? Or a bitch?

This was a surprisingly good read. I think I expected something far more graphic, but it was actually quite a sweet book, with good depths. A nice twist to the Beauty and The Beast tale, with ‘the beast’ being an emaciated recluse who used to be a movie starlet. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the heroine, but I didn’t hate her as much as the title suggested that I would. Good effort.

You can buy Beauty or The Bitch from Amazon.com here.

What a fun friends-to-lovers story.

Alice and Gabriel have been friends for years, and one night when one of Alice’s romantic entanglements ends in disaster (AGAIN), she ends up in Gabriel’s house, in Gabriel’s bedroom at stupid o’clock, lamenting the state of her love life.

Gabriel’s used to Alice bending his ear about what sluts men are, but he could really do with a coffee. Especially if Alice is about to cry. Gabriel really hates seeing women cry, and Alice is a regular walking sob-fest.

Alice has had a crush on her big brother’s best friend for ages, and the attraction keeps getting stronger. He of course sees her as just his best friend’s sister, something that frustrates Alice no end.

Whilst she’s crying on his shoulder, Alice detects a look of lust in Gabriel’s eyes – perhaps there’s something she can do to finally get Gabe to notice her as a woman? She wants him, and he seems to want her, so what’s the problem?

The rest of the book sees Alice doing her best to seduce Gabriel, despite his best intentions, with mixed, but amusing results.

I liked that the heroine was the aggressor in this relationship. Poor Gabriel, he didn’t really stand a chance at escaping Alice’s devious machinations. His protective instincts especially come to the fore when Alice informs him that she’s decided to date as many men as possible, in an effort to find Mr Perfect.

A hugely likable heroine, and a hard-done-by hero, who has no idea how to do DIY. Definitely a recipe for a good, fun book. Although I got this book free, I’d definitely read this author again.

One thing though, as with any heroine called Alice, I couldn’t help but continuously think to myself, “Alice, Alice, who the f*ck is Alice?”

You can buy this book from Amazon.com here. (It may still be free)

I’m such a Maya Banks fangirl. Her writing seems to get better and better, and better. Read the KGI, series if you don’t believe me.

She sent me three of her latest category books from the Pregnancy and Passion line, and I love her for that. Maya, Shiloh Walker, and Dee Tenorio are three authors who consistently send me books despite my rarely reviewing them. In case I’ve never said it before, I’m ever so appreciative of this, especially when one considers that I live in England, so postage is probably quite expensive.

Anyway, here’s the blurb for the book from the back cover:

Despite his fiancee’s chilling betrayal, developer Ryan Beardsley provided for Kelly Christian when he sent her packing. So he’s livid to find her working in a dingy Houston diner, desperate and pregnant. Regardless of whether the baby is his–or his brother’s–Ryan demands that Kelly return to New York with him. Now. For the baby’s sake. Or maybe because the woman’s as irresistible as ever…

This was the review that I posted at Goodreads: (more…)

Unbelievably, I’ve never read a Courtney Milan book, even though I’ve seen plenty of positive feedback with regards to her work.

I came across Unlocked when I was looking at some recommends on Amazon, and as it was only £0.86p, I thought I might as well give it a go.

Well, what can I say, Unlocked grabbed hold of me from the first paragraph, and wouldn’t let go until I’d read the very last word.

Here’s the 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…

Have you ever read a book where your heart literally felt like it was breaking from the start? A book that virtually had you on the verge of tears all the way through? A book that transcended the stereotypes of its genre? Well I have to tell you, Unlocked was that book. (more…)

I first reviewed Katherine Allred’s, The Sweet Gum Tree years ago. I remember how much I loved this book, anyway, I’ve recently re-read it, and it was just as good this time round…

I usually hate waxing lyrical about books, in fact, I don’t think I’ve done so since I read Sarah Mccarty’s Promises Prevail, but when a story is this good, what the hell, I’m just gonna gush away!

This is the blurb from Cerridwen:

Sweet tea, corn bread, and soup beans—everyday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his back, an act that changes both of their lives forever.

Through childhood disasters and teenage woes they cling together as friendship turns to love. The future looks rosy until the fateful night when Frank Anderson, Nick’s abusive father, is shot to death in his filthy trailer.Suddenly, Nick is gone—leaving Alix alone, confused and pregnant. For the next fifteen years she wrestles with the pain of Nick’s abandonment, a bad marriage, her family and friends. But finally, she’s starting to get her life back together. Her divorce is almost final, her until the day she looks up-business is booming, and she’s content if not happy and sees Nick standing across the counter.

He’s back…and he’s not alone.Once again Alix is plunged into turmoil and pain as Nick tries to win her love, something she resists with all her strength. Only one thing might break the protective wall she’s built around her emotions—the truth about Frank Anderson’s death. But when that truth comes out and those walls crumble, neither Alix nor Nick is prepared for the emotional explosion that could destroy as well as heal.


Apologies in advance, but I don’t have time to do a proper review for this book, so all you’ll get today is a very brief overview I’m afraid.


Their lives were perfect . . .

Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancé. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humor, but that doesn’t bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother . . .

Until they met each other.

Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect – and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire – desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero’s wedding nears, and Griffin’s enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?

Overall Verdict

I loved it.

Loved the heroine, Hero (what a fab name, although one would probably expect her to be Japanese with a name like that). Loved the rather irresistible Griffin The Scoundrel, who wasn’t really a scoundrel. Loved the interaction between the two protagonists. They had great chemistry, and I love Hoyt’s ability to use graphic sex words without veering into pornographic territory. Their love scenes were hot, hot, hot!

Notorious pleasures was a delicious book, filled with witty dialogue, interesting sub-plots, a credible mystery, and the fascinating and mysterious Ghost of St Giles.

A fantastic follow up to Wicked Intentions all in all. You can read an excerpt here, and buy the book from Amazon.com here.

Happy reading!

I heard about Scarlett Rose And The Seven Longhorns from Has Book Pusher over on Twitter a while ago. I was curious at the time, but I couldn’t actually bring myself to buy it straight away.

There seems to be a trend lately of having the most outrageous shape-shifters. I’m pretty sure there’s a story about a were-duck out there, but I have my limits, ya know?

Anyway, I resisted for a while, but I had a look at the price on my Kindle, and it was only £3.54, so I thought why not? Why not indeed. Sigh.

Basically, this is a story about a woman called Scarlett who obviously has the biggest vagina in the world, since she gets to share it with seven longhorn shapeshifters, who all love her to death, and swear to protect her from all the evil people trying to kill her.

Here’s the actual blurb from the Book Strand website: (more…)

Shannon McKenna’s McCloud Brothers books have always been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I know that I really shouldn’t like them, because they normally have the most assholic heroes and the heroines are generally too stupid to live.

This however, has never stopped me from looking forward to her new releases. I always fondly remember our 2005 vacation whenever I think about some of her earlier books.

Fade to Midnight is Kev Larsen’s story. Readers of this series will know that Kev has been missing for eighteen years, presumed dead by most, even at times by us readers. There was a time when I wondered whether Ms McKenna would ever bite the bullet and write his story. And so here we are. At last.

Here’s the blurb from Ms McKenna’s website: (more…)

I heard about Loretta Chase’s Silk Is For Seduction via Mrs Giggles’ blog. Her review made me curious to read it, as she actually gave it 100 out of 100, which is a bit of a rarity for her.

Now my tastes don’t usually gel with Mrs G’s, but I figured that since I have enjoyed Loretta Chase’s books in the past I’d give it a go. Good job I did too.

Here’s the blurb from Ms Chase’s website:

Brilliant and ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirot is London’s rising star. And who better to benefit from her talent than the worst-dressed lady in London; the Duke of Clevedon’s intended bride? Winning the future duchess’s patronage means prestige and fortune for Marcelline and her family. To get to the lady, though, Marcelline must win over Clevedon, whose standards are as high as his morals are…not.

The prize seems well worth the risk. This time, though, Marcelline’s met her match. Clevedon can design a seduction as irresistible as her dresses; and what begins as a flicker of desire between two of the most passionately stubborn charmers in London soon ignites into a delicious inferno . . .and a blazing scandal.

And now both their futures hang by a thread of silk…

The book starts with a prologue telling the tale of how Marcelline Noirot’s scandalously corrupt and amoral parents first met, and I was pretty much hooked from this point.

What I Liked About Silk Is For Seduction


I’ve read most of Lacey Alexander’s books, and I have to say, I mostly like ’em. Now and again you get a bad one, but hey, nobody’s perfect right?

I’ve read a few reviews of this book and it always makes me chuckle when I see negative comments re the sexual content. I can’t actually believe that people are still pretending to read a Lacey Alexander book because of its philosophical meanderings and high brow content. Seriously? If you want War and Peace and deep and meaningful, you’re not going to find it within the pages of a Lacey Alexander Special, you’re just not. I hope that doesn’t hurt Ms Alexander too much, but these books will probably not change your life for the better. (more…)

I like Julia Quinn books. I often forget how much I like them until I read one.

I’m not sure if Just Like Heaven is her latest book, but seeing as I actually can’t be arsed Googling the answer right now, I’ll just go ahead and assume that it is.

Rather than a blurb, here’s the rather cheesey video promo: (more…)

Sarah Mayberry has the rather amazing talent of writing category romance books that read like epic love stories. Even her Blaze bks are fab!

I wrote that on Twitter, and it’s absolutely true.

I’ve just finished reading yet another Sarah Mayberry Blaze title, and I don’t know how she does it. It was simply delicious.

Here’s my blurb for Amorous Liaisons:

Amorous Liaisons is about Maddy, a prima ballerina who finds herself at a crossroads in her life when injury threatens to end her career permanently. Her dance company are forced to retire her due to a cruciate ligament injury, leaving Maddy utterly devastated.

Maddy’s whole life has revolved around dancing, and suddenly she finds herself at sea without anything to hold onto, so she makes the decision to go and see her best friend Max, who’s always been there for her.

Max has been in love with Maddy for the longest time, but was forced to let her go after her dancing career really took off. Maddy, unaware of his feelings for her turns up on his doorstep, looking for a safe harbour.

Max tries to stick to friendship, but he soon discovers that his feelings for Maddy are still as strong as they ever were. Maddy in the mean time is disconcerted to find that she’s looking at her best friend in a less-than-platonic way these days. She doesn’t have a great track record with romantic entanglements, which is why she is frightened to take their relationship any further, in case it damages their friendship, irrevocably.

Soon, things heat up between the two friends, leaving both uncertain about what the future holds for them as a couple.

Mayberry’s ability to drag emotion from this reader is incomparable, especially when I think about the kind of books she’s writing. Who knew that a Blaze book could make me cry like a baby? (more…)

I’m a huge fan of Maya Banks’ work, and I have been ever since her first book. The Darkest Hour did nothing to buck that trend.

Here’s the blurb from Maya’s website:

The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock hard body, military background.
Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the US government can’t…

It’s been one year since ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly last saw his wife Rachel alive. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt over his failures as a husband, Ethan shuts himself off from everything and everyone.

His brothers have tried to bring Ethan into the KGI fold, tried to break through the barriers he’s built around himself, but Ethan refuses to respond… until he receives anonymous information claiming Rachel is alive.

To save her, Ethan will have to dodge bullets, cross a jungle, and risk falling captive to a deadly drug cartel that threatens his own demise. And even if he succeeds, he’ll have to force Rachel to recover memories she can’t and doesn’t want to relive—the minute by minute terror of her darkest hour—for their love, and their lives, may depend on it.

One of the reasons that I love Maya’s heroes so much is because as a reader, I’m never left in any doubt that they would be prepared to die for their heroine. You know that they would literally struggle to function if anything heinous happened to their women. And Ethan, the hero in Darkest Hour is no different.

From the first few pages, I could feel the pain that he was going through. It was the anniversary of his wife’s ‘death’, so the pain for Ethan was keener than usual. I could feel the utter despair of a broken man, and I couldn’t wait for him to learn that Rachel was indeed alive.

This is a quick review, so all the things that I want to say about this book can be condensed into just a few short sentences: Brilliantly written hero, terrific capture and rescue plot device, terrific characters that I’m looking forward to getting to know better in the upcoming books, good quick sharp dialogue, and a fantastic emotional buy-in.
The heroine was a little tame for me, but after her ordeal, it was totally understandable, and she eventually did manage to find some backbone towards the end of the book. Having read the follow-up to Darkest Hour, I know that Rachel wont be typical of the KGI heroines, so those who prefer a little kick-ass with their heroines need not worry.

Overall a fantastic read, and I’m impressed by how much better the author gets with each new book. Maya Banks, I salute you:)

You can buy The Darkest Hour HERE, and read an excerpt HERE.

So I read Sarah Mayberry’s Her Best Friend the other night.

Check out the blurb from the back of the book:

What’s a girl to do when she’s secretly in love with a friend and he’s married to someone else? She gets over it. That’s what Amy Parker has done. Rather than lose her best bud Quinn Whitfield with an ill-timed, crazy confession of affection, she’s taken the smart route. She’s eased away from him. Just enough to get past the unrequited bits.

And you know, it’s working. Until the day Quinn announces he’s now single. That’s right. He’s single.And he wants to hang out. With her. Get reconnected the way they used to be. Oh, this is so not good for Amy’s equilibrium. Daily doses of Quinn remind her of everything she loves about him. But if he’s free and she’s free,well, maybe the time has come for one of those crazy confessions.

I really loved this book. It was utterly fab-u-lous. Loved the storyline, loved the heroine and the hero, loved the setting, loved the characterisations, loved how real the book read. Loved that the author didn’t take a shortcut and make the ex-wife, Lisa, into a monster. Loved the friendship between Quinn and Amy, it felt wonderfully real, and honest and beautiful.

I’m a real sucker for friends-to-lovers romance books anyway, so HBF was always going to work for me on a basic level, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the depth that Mayberry managed to achieve with this book. It was great for the first time in ages to read a book that I just didn’t want to end. Sarah Mayberry, I salute you:)

You can buy HBF from here and read an excerpt here.

Blurb from Amazon:

Blue-Eyed Devil is the story of the charming, volatile and ambitious Hardy Cates, who is determined to carry out his private revenge against the Travis family. Haven is the rebellious Travis daughter who struggles against her overpowering attraction to the most dangerous man in town.

But when Hardy crashes a Travis family wedding, the heiress and the bad boy uncover an explosive chemistry that neither of them can deny. Hardy Cates is an unscrupulous rascal, but now he’s trying to clean up his act. He is looking for the perfect society wife, the kind of woman Haven Travis could never be. Having once been burned by a love affair gone wrong, Haven vows to stay far away from the sexy heartbreaker.

However, Haven discovers that the temptation of a blue-eyed devil is hard to resist. And then when a menace from Haven’s past appears, Hardy may be the only one to save her …

What a great sequel to Sugar Daddy.

I loved the heroine, she wasn’t a dick. I loved the hero, he wasn’t an arsehole. I loved the plot device, no suspension of disbelief was required.

It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me sad. What more could a gal ask for in her romance?

You can buy from Amazon.com here, and Amazon UK here.

Hey, I did say it was brief.

I read Bonnie Dee’s Seasons of Love yesterday, and I have to say, what an unusual and delightful selection of stories.

I really love Bonnie’s voice, and I love the way she’s able to draw me into her books, and really capture my imagination. I think that she, out of all the new-to-me authors, who I’ve read in recent times, has managed to take the idea of the stereo-typical romance hero, and totally turn it on its head.

Her heroes are deliciously flawed, heart-breakingly tortured, and are generally beta males, rather than the ever popular alpha heroes. Whilst her heroines are surprisingly strong-spirited, without being painful or stupid.

Seasons of Love is a collection of stories, which represent all four of our seasons.

The first story is called Maypole Dance – This is the spring offering, and here’s the blurb from LSB:

This story moved me actually. It was very poignant and sweet, and I suspect if anybody else had attempted to write it, it just wouldn’t have worked. I’m not really into sprites, faeries, or any other cutesy other-worldly beings, so I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this story, and the sorrow that I felt when the hero and heroine had to be parted, especially taking into consideration that I wasn’t particularly fond of the heroine in the first instance.

The next story was called Amish Paradise, and was the summer story:

Loved this one. It was very Romeo and Juliet-esque. Raging passions galore, familial differences, clash of faiths, great internal conflict, identity crisis struggles, and a hero who picked out the Plain Jane, saw beyond her plain clothes, naked face, and un-stylish hair, and fell head over heels in love with the girl beneath the white cap. What could be more romantic?

The autumn story was called Crisp Apples:

I didn’t like this one as much as the others. It was definitely the weakest of all the stories for me, mostly because I didn’t like the premise, and the hero and heroine were a little dull. But it was still beautifully written.

The winter story was A Lily For Christmas:

I’m very partial to the Maid-Having-It-Off-With-The-Lord-Of-The-Manor-type stories, (Which would probably explain my penchant for an eighties Spanish/Mexican drama called Isara The Slave Girl) and this was no exception.

I loved the ambience and the settings of each of the stories. I really did.

Whilst reading Amish Paradise, I could literally feel the heat of the sun on my skin, the flies buzzing round my head. I could see myself sitting in a car at a drive-thru movie theatre, eating pop-corn, whilst watching a surly James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause, and listening to Elvis Presley playing on the radio. Now that’s talent.