HomeReviewsInterviewsStoreABlogsOn Writing
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 Scandal Review Episode 2.12 Truth and Consequences...

Scandal 212

People, this review is chockful of spoilers, so read on at your own risk

The last time we saw Liv, was in the campaign flashback, ugly-crying because she’d just voted yes to rig the election for Fitz. Sigh. I cried for the whole day after I watched her make that decision. In fact every time I think about it, it still brings tears to my eyes.

After watching 211, I had an epiphany. I realised that the team of writers at Shondaland were destined to break my heart time and time again, so I needed to get a grip of myself, and assume that everybody is crooked one way or the other, unless told otherwise. I also geared myself up to the inevitable heartbreak that’s headed Fitz and Olivia’s way in the near future.

And so it was with this new found perspective that I ventured into 212.

Truth and Consequences was brilliant, it really was. I understand that lots of fans were annoyed and depressed over it, but I loved every minute of it.

Here’s my not-so-quick recap:

The show starts with a flashback to what looks like a voting hall in Defiance, Ohio. Here we meet Lindsay Dwyer’s boyfriend Jesse, you remember him, he along with six others got blown up courtesy of that psychopath, Hollis Doyle.

Anyway, there’s a fossilized man telling a load of other grave dodgers about these brand new touch-screen voting machines that they will be using for the election. He seemed especially hyped over the fact that this was going to be a paperless system. Sidebar, is there actually such a thing as a paperless system?

Anyway, we find out that Jesse is Hollis’ guy. You know, the guy who swapped one of the voting machines over for one that was rigged. Dum, dum, dum!

As Jesse leaves the polling station, he gets a call from Quinn/Lindsay (Let’s call her Quinnsay shall we?)  who’s super stoked because she’s just passed the bar exam, which means that she’s now a lawyer, or something…

I have to tell you, I liked this version of Quinn, I loved her dress sense, and she seemed so much more carefree and happy. Mind you, I suppose being wanted for killing seven people, getting drugged then kidnapped, and given a brand new identity by an unknown benefactor would put a dampener on one’s spirit.

Back to the present day, we find that Hollis is having a David Rosen Problem.  David tells Hollis that he suspects him of having a hand in rigging the most recent election.  Hollis is briefly rattled, and from what I gather, (because I only understand every fourth word Hollis says)  threatens David’s ability to procreate in future .Hollis says something about bulls, steers and clippers and flounces out in a strop, with his high-paid suits in tow.

Meanwhile back at le White House, Mad Mellie marches (gotta love alliteration) into Cyrus’s office, demanding that Cyrus get his guy under control. Mellie looks like she’s about to have an apoplectic fit, or go into early labour.

I find Mellie at her amusing best when she’s losing her mind. Cyrus looks like the quintessential harried professor, and is in no mood for Mellie’s hormonal mood swings. I love how good he is at throwing shade, without seemingly even thinking about it.

Good morning Mellie” Cyrus says, “pregnancy gives you such a glow of warmth” Death. I do love Cyrus at his sardonic best.

Mellie screams out that Fitz has asked for a divorce. This gets Cyrus’ attention, and you can literally see him plotting as he quickly ushers Mellie out, telling her to take a load off and go see the doctor or something. Cyrus at his patronising best. He’ll handle Fitz.

There was a funny moment here where Mellie looks like she’s about to hug Cyrus in gratitude, she even goes as far as reaching for him, but she withdraws at the last minute and leaves.

“Breeders” mutters Cyrus in annoyance. He’s got work to do.

Scandal 212 Olivia Ring

Back at OPA, Harrison and Abby are speculating about the diamond  ring that Liv is staring at in the office. They assume that Edison (Grrrrr!) has proposed. “Wife of a senator” says Harrison. “Please, husband of Olivia Pope!” says Abby. I like this Abby, she doesn’t make me want to eat my own face.

Hollis Doyle strolls into OPA to talk to Liv about their David Rosen Problem. Quinn comes face-to-face with the monster who tried to set her up for multiple murders.

Hollis is mighty unhappy because he thought Olivia had taken care of their David Rosen Problem, and they have words. Hollis tells Olivia to fix things, otherwise he’ll fix Olivia and the other members of the illuminate, as well as her “precious Fitz”. Hmmm, does Hollis know about Fitz and Olivia?

Back at the White House, Cyrus interrupts Fitz’s gun control briefing (love how this show is so relevant politically). Once they’re alone, Fitz starts talking about the concept of Big Ideas. Cyrus listens for a moment before launching into one of his epic monologues. Fitz is being delusional if he thinks that he can divorce his 9 month pregnant wife, and move in his mistress, Cyrus goes on to say:

“Now Liv is a lovely, smart woman, I can’t get enough of her, but she’s not exactly a hue that most of your Republican constituents would be happy about, even if they could get past the divorcing, and the cheating and the abandoning of America’s Baby, it concerns me Sir, how big your delusion is”

Yep, he went there. But it’s not like he was saying anything that wasn’t true. Modern day Republicans aren’t that diversity friendly as far as I can tell..

Now usually such a monologue would have gotten through to Fitz in the past, but unfortunately for Cyrus, he’s dealing with a New Fitz. This Fitz can’t find two fucks to give. He’s not afraid anymore, he has nothing to lose, he’s going to divorce Mellie, and he’s going to keep his presidency. That’s today’s Big Idea, and Cyrus needs to do his job and make it happen!

Can we get an Amen, praise the Lord, and Hallelujah from the pulpit please!


KarenS Scandal Review: Episode 2x11, “A Criminal, A Whore, An Idiot, and a Liar”


Hey guys, following on from yesterday’s introduction to ABC’s Scandal, I’m going to start reviewing each episode after it airs (well not straight after, you guys know how much I love reviewing these days), so of course if you haven’t seen any of the episodes, but you plan on watching them, do not read this review, I repeat, do not read this review, as there will be spoilers galore.

The episode starts with Liv walking through her door to find Edison sat ever so casually In. Her. Lounge.
I’m pretty sure they broke up last week, when Olivia basically told him to fuck-off after he threatened to prosecute her for allegedly lying about the president’s real condition. Apparently though, Edison, the thick bastard didn’t get the message, because he asks Liv what’s going on with them. I can’t lie, I was desperate for Olivia to stab him in his eye and put him out of my misery. To my ever lasting sorrow, she didn’t do that. Dammit.

Anyway, because basically Edison’s a ratchet mother fucker, he accuses Olivia of being the President’s mistress. As you can imagine, this didn’t go down too well with Olivia, who read him her rather special five-point riot act. It was impressive, and if I could find the exact words, I’d post it. Anyway Olivia eventually throws Edison and his Bill Cosby looking ass out, but not before he tells her that Sally Langston is planning to shaft Fitz by throwing shade on the letter that Mellie forged asking for Fitz to be reinstated.

Once Edison is literally shown the door, Olivia calls Cyrus, warning him of Sally’s plans.

After this, we flashback to a presidential debate where Fitz is doing almost as well as Obama did in his first presidential debate last year. Remember how uncomfortable we all felt watching him fuck things up against the world’s most stupidest man, Mitt Romney? *shudder* Basically, Fitz is not doing well against his opponent Governor Reston (the geezer who murdered his wife’s lover and got away with it), either in the debates, or indeed in the polling. He’s way behind his rival, and it’ll take a miracle to get his numbers up at this rate.

We cut to Olivia, Cyrus and Hollis discussing campaign strategy, and out of the blue, Hollis very casually mentions the possibility of rigging the election. Apparently he has some people in low places who can orchestrate the whole thing. Cyrus is initially appalled, and both he and Olivia dismiss the idea. Mellie joins them with some bad news about the polling numbers, and suggests that they invite Fitz’s father Big Jerry to help with the campaign. It’s clear that this is something that Fitz has avoided doing up till now. With good cause as it turns out.

Fitz is not happy about the idea at all, and we cut to him and Mellie arguing about it in the corridors of their hotel. Olivia catches up with them and suggests that they keep their voices down. Mellie frustrated by Fitz’s refusal to bring his father in, tells Olivia to talk to him, as he clearly doesn’t give a shit about her opinion. Ya think?

After Mellie shuts the door on both of them, Fitz takes Olivia by the hand and drags her to her room so that he can work off some of his frustrations out by getting her horizontal. While he’s trying his best to have his wicked way with her, Olivia is trying to persuade him that now’s the time to bring in his father to help energise the base. Fitz eventually agrees as long as she doesn’t talk about the campaign for the next twenty minutes.

We then flash forward to the present, and Fitz is in the hospital, with Mellie looking all wifely by his side. The doctor is in with them, and she’s telling them that Fitz should be able to get back to work in about three weeks, but in the mean time, may experience dizziness, fatigue and some frontal lobe issues. Because of Mellie’s fuckup however, Fitz can’t afford to be inactive for three weeks, as Sally is just about dancing on his grave, with his job description pinned to her forehead.

Speaking of Sally, we cut to the White House, where she’s having a briefing with the executive team (including Edison The Bell-End). She basically tells them that Fitz is fucked, and is not fit enough to return to work. While she’s spreading her venom, Fitz walks in and apologises for being late. AND THE CROWD WENT WILD!! HALLELUJAH!!! Oh the look on Sally’s face was priceless. Suck it bitch!

Anyway, the meeting has obviously gone well, because Cyrus and Mellie run into the exec team coming out of Fitz’s office, and Sally is looking massively pissed off. This pleases Cyrus no end, who takes delight in baiting Sally as she’s exiting the office. He’s gleeful because he has his president and job back. When they get into the office, Fitz is obviously struggling and demands a clean shirt. The man should not be out of the hospital, and he sarcastically thanks Mellie for screwing him over, so that he has to leave his sickbed three weeks earlier than he should in order to save her ass and his presidency. Yeah Mellie, thanks for that. Power grabbing bint.

We flashback to the campaign trail, where we finally meet Fitz’s father. And he’s a massive fucking bell-end. Sheesh. He proceeds to humiliate Fitz in front of the campaign team, and even Mellie turns into a giggling school girl in front of him. Now this is the guy she wishes she’d married. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he’d seduced her twenty years ago, then passed her along to Fitz. Jerry cuts an impressive figure, and he has the charm and swagger that one would expect in a seasoned politician, but it’s fairly clear at this point that Fitz was raised by a wolf. I felt as sick as Fitz looked, and I could tell that his father’s presence was negatively impacting him. Olivia noticed his discomfort, and at one point looked pityingly at him.

At dinner that evening, Fitz gets drunk, and manages to throw shade at his father every time he speaks. I particularly liked Fitz reminding his father that the reason he didn’t even run for president was because men who get caught shagging prostitutes usually aren’t suitable candidates for presidency. I confess, I laughed out loud. Jerry leaves the table prematurely, after Fitz continues to slag him off. I know Fitz is behaving like a recalcitrant child at this point, but personally I loved it. Jerry was a twat, and he needed a good beat down. Erm…not that I condone violence against old people. That’s just barbaric…right?
Erm, anyway, where was I? Oh that’s right, Mellie drags her behind after Jerry to apologise for Fitz’s behaviour, and perhaps to offer him a blow job or two. I jest. I think. (more…)

KarenS Review: Let Me Be The One By Bella Andre

KKB Sensuality Rating: Torrid

Well it’s been a while since I felt moved enough to want to write a review, but here I am all excited about a book, that wasn’t filled with thrills and spills, yet still managed to stimulate my reader senses.

I downloaded Bella Andre’s Let Me Be The One: The Sullivans, Book 6 a couple of days ago, and I finished reading it last night (even though I had to be up really early this morning).

I rather like Bella Andre’s books, I’m a fan. I’ve read every Sullivan book prior to Let Me Be The One, and they’ve all been pretty good, some obviously better than others. You guys should check her out, if you haven’t already.

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

In LET ME BE THE ONE, the brand-new book in Bella Andre’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling series about the Sullivan family, an unexpected friends-to-lovers romance might not only turn out to be so much hotter than anything bad boy pro baseball player Ryan Sullivan has ever known…but much, much sweeter, too.

When Vicki Bennett saved Ryan Sullivan’s life as a teenager, it was the beginning of a close friendship that never wavered despite her failed marriage to someone else and Ryan’s well-earned reputation as a ladies man. So when she suddenly needs a pretend boyfriend to protect herself and her career from a powerful man’s advances, he is the only person she can imagine asking.

Ryan will do anything to protect Vicki from harm, but when their “fake” kisses and caresses lead to an incredibly sensual night that neither of them can resist, will he have made the biggest mistake of all by irreparably jeopardizing their friendship? Or is it possible that what they’ve both been looking for has been right there the whole time…and the perfect combination of wicked and sweet, friendship and love, is finally within reach?

Now you all know that I’m a total sucker for a good friends-to-lovers story, and I have to say, Let Me Be The One was just….lovely. It really was.

This isn’t a book that will grab you by the nuts and totally screw with you, it’s not full of TSTL moments instigated by the heroine, or moments of assholiness from the hero, no no, not at all. This book was a gentle spring day, with occasional bursts of rain, but mostly filled with sunshine.

I know the above sounds kind of whimsical, and dare I say corny, but that’s how Let Me Be The One made me feel.

It was great to once again meet a heroine who not only had common sense, but also one who’s vulnerability and sensitivity didn’t turn her into a walking, talking moron.

Vicki Bennett was a sculptress, who’d met Ryan Sullivan back when she was in high school. They’d immediately connected, after Vicki saved Ryan’s life.

Connecting with her peers had always been an issue for Vicki, as her and her family never stayed anywhere long enough to make any real friends. But Ryan changed all that.

This excerpt in the prologue when Vicki was recalling their first meeting, made me feel all warm and fuzzy:

“Ryan made everything seem so easy though, as if the only thing that wouldn’t make sense was them not hanging out.

By the end of their trip to the art store and back, she knew all about his seven siblings, he knew she had two annoying little brothers, he’d told her what he liked about baseball, she’d told him what she loved about sculpting, and she’d been invited to dinner at the Sullivan house.

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The best one she’d ever had.”

Because Vicki was an army brat, just over a year later, her and her family had to relocate again. Vicki was devastated to be leaving Ryan, but the two of them kept in touch for the next fifteen years, through emails and phone calls.

Vicki had been secretly in love with her best friend, but because she didn’t believe she was Ryan’s type, and didn’t want to irreparably damage their friendship by confessing her love, she kept her feelings to herself.

Years later, newly divorced from her artist Italian husband of ten years, Vicki comes home.

Ryan is of course ecstatic to see her again after all this time, because unbeknownst to Vicki, he’d also harboured his own secret crush on her when they’d been teenagers.

Ryan was a hero to die for, which is weird, because out of all of the Sullivan brothers, his book wasn’t one that I was particularly looking forward to reading, but I have to say, Ms Andre did an amazing job with his story.

What I loved about Ryan and Vicki’s relationship was how their friendship really rang true to me. Of course I, as the reader knew that they were secretly in love with each other, but that knowledge didn’t detract from the essence of their friendship. They genuinely enjoyed being together, and only wanted the best for each other. The sudden realisation that they could be more, only added to what I thought was already a cracking story.

There were no huge moments of conflict, they didn’t argue needlessly, they were honest with each other, and actually, the only issue they had, was that neither knew that the other felt the same way.

Let Me Be The One was a book that had you routing for both the hero and the heroine, I was desperate for them to realise that they were in love with each other, but fear of ruining a great friendship kept stopping them from making a move.

However, when ‘the move’ came, it was epic. Their love scenes were hot, made all the hotter, by the fact that as the reader, I’d had to endure countless near-miss kisses. I have to say though, the anticipation of their getting together, made the wait, worth while.

Like I said, this isn’t a book that’s chock full of conflict or action, fanfare or explosions, instead it’s a book about two great friends who made it an absolute pleasure for this reader to watch them fall deeper in love.

You can check out Bella Andre’s website here, and download Let Me Be The One from Amazon.com here.

If you guys want to start at the beginning, the first Sullivan Book, The Look of Love, can be found at Amazon.com here. If you want to check out the other books in the series, just click on the book covers above.

Great Book Alert: KarenS Review: Easy by Tammara Webber

KKB Sensuality Rating: Steamy

I’ve just read a fantastic college romance book called Easy. It was a rec from Jane over at Dear Author.

I started reading it a couple of nights ago, and I found it really hard to put down.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

A girl who believes trust can be misplaced, promises are made to be broken, and loyalty is an illusion. A boy who believes truth is relative, lies can mask unbearable pain, and guilt is eternal. Will what they find in each other validate their conclusions, or disprove them all?

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, stalked by her ex’s frat brother, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Her econ professor gives her an email address for Landon, the class tutor, who shows her that she’s still the same intelligent girl she’s always been. As Jacqueline becomes interested in more from her tutor than a better grade, his teasing responses make the feeling seem mutual. There’s just one problem–their only interactions are through email.

Meanwhile, a guy in her econ class proves his worth the first night she meets him. Nothing like her popular ex or her brainy tutor, Lucas sits on the back row, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. At a downtown club, he disappears after several dances that leave her on fire. When he asks if he can sketch her, alone in her room, she agrees–hoping for more.

Then Jacqueline discovers a withheld connection between her supportive tutor and her seductive classmate, her ex comes back into the picture, and her stalker escalates his attention by spreading rumors that they’ve hooked up. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

Loved, loved, loved this book! I don’t read college set romances very often, but I read the blurb for Easy after it was recced to me, and I was hooked. (To be honest, it was lucky that I was able to see past the somewhat atrocious blurb).

There are so many things that I loved about this book, that it’s hard to know exactly where to start, but I have to say, it was great to have two protagonists who were equally likeable. Lucas was a hero to die for, smart, protective, strong, yet sensitive, ( mostly due to the traumatic events of his past) the kind of guy you wish you’d met at college. Jacqueline was a fantastic heroine, very relatable, and just an all round good person. I liked that all the characters were fully fleshed out, and even the ex-boyfriend wasn’t your usual cookie-cutter bastard. Of course he was a dick, but for all intents and purposes, he was a dick who as it turned out genuinely cared about his ex girlfriend.

Although there’s an attempted rape and an actual rape in this book, I felt it was handled very sensitively, and when the rapist finally got his come-uppance, I actually cheered out loud.

To me, Easy was a book about survival, overcoming personal tragedy, sisterhood, and falling in love. A good ingredient for any romance methinks.

You can read Jane’s full review of the book here, and download Easy from Amazon.com here.

KarenS Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James...

There are lots of swear words in this review, and I believe the ‘C’ word pops up too. You have been fucking warned.

These days I tend to go out of my way to avoid books that I know I’m going to hate before I read them.

Of course I totally blame Katiebabs for urging me to read Fifty. But I thought I’d give it a game go anyway. It’s not like I had much to lose.

I was wrong of course. I lost precious time in my life that I can never get back. Sigh.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not fond of BDSM. Actually I hate it. There have been some exceptions to that rule, Maya Banks’ Sweet Persuasion being one. (Good book!)

I tried to read Fifty with an open mind, I did, I did, but unfortunately, E.L James did not help matters.

This review will be full of spoilers I’m afraid, so if you plan on reading this book any time soon, this review is not for you, so scat!

Bella Swan Anastasia Steele is a student who agrees to do her best friend Katie Kavanagh a favour, and interview billionaire Edward Cullen Christian Grey for some reason or other (seriously, am I supposed to remember such details?)

Bella Anastasia (Ana for short) is a bit of a clumsy oaf, she’s nervous and unsure of herself, and basically trips up in front of the debonair Edward Christian. She then proceeds to blush, flush and internally scream holy shit/crap for the rest of the interview.

Edward Christian is the first guy that’s ever affected Bella Ana this way, oh my she’s totally besides herself, and can barely string a sentence together, even though we’re led to believe that she’s an apparently articulate, intelligent girl.

Cutting to the chase (I really want to finish reliving this book now), Edward Christian thinks that Bella Ana is the cat’s meow (or the vicar’s knickers, take your pick) and so proceeds to stalk her by turning up in the most random of places. Always with a legitimate excuse of course.

Bella Ana and Edward Christian eventually give in to their lust and they share a passionate kiss in an elevator. (Yeah, that old elevator kiss scene never gets old does it?) Edward Christian tells Bella Ana that he’s no good for her, and they try to stay away from each other, but OMFG, THE LUST IS TOO MUCH TO BEAR, so they find each other again. Via Edward Christian randomly stalking Bella Ana of course.

Because Edward Christian trusts Bella Ana and shit, he totally shows her his Play Room, or as Bella Ana so aptly named it, the Red Room of Pain. Due to the torture devices and whatnot that littered the room. The way that Bella Ana described it, it seemed to be a posh version of a cell in Guantanamo Bay. Minus the middle eastern prisoners of war of course. (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…)

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

“Lieutenant Eve Dallas keeps the streets of New York City safe in this extraordinary series. But even she makes mistakes, and is haunted by those she couldn’t save-and the killers she couldn’t capture. When the body of a young brunette is found in East River Park, marked by signs of prolonged and painful torture, Eve is catapulted back to nine years ago.

A man the media tagged The Groom-because he put silver rings on the fingers of his victims-had the city on edge with a killing spree that took the lives of four women in fifteen days. But now, The Groom has returned-and Eve’s determined to finish him.

Familiar with his methods, Eve knows that he has already grabbed his next victim. When it turns out that the dead woman was employed by Eve’s billionaire husband, Roarke, she brings him onto the case-a move that proves fitting when it becomes chillingly clear that the killer has made it personal. And chances are that he’s working up to the biggest challenge of his illustrious career-abducting a woman who will test his skills on every level and who promises to give him days and days of pleasure before she dies: Eve.”

I really can’t be bothered reviewing this book, so I’ll just put down the top ten things that I loved about Creation:

1. Eve Dallas – I love her humour (I have to put her first because after the Why Do People Hate Hillary Clinton discussions over at the SB’s blog, I feel the need let the woman come first. *g*)

2. Roarke – Nuff said.

3. Peabody – Love the interactions with Eve.

4. Summerset – Love that Eve insults him constantly, but you know there’s great affection underneath.

5. Mavis and Baby – Love the bit where she wops her breast out whilst Roarke is having his eggs sunny side up.

6. The dialogue – Too many great lines to go into, but the ones between Eve and her colleagues amuse me greatly.

7. The Plot – Total page turner, love that.

8. The emotional investment – The scenes between Eve and Roarke are just beautiful.

9. The humour – It’s good to laugh for all the right reasons when reading a romance.

10.The lack of TSTL female characters – I love that LaNora doesn’t turn Eve into a snivelling wreck who ultimately needs saving by the hero.

In short, it was another fab In Death book, so you really should go and buy.

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.

Ok, Ok, I know I was meant to review this book effing ages ago, but better late than never right?

Anyway, here’s the blurb from the Liquid Silver website again:

My Verdict

Loved. This. Freaking. Book.

It always amazes me how some publishers seem to try to pigeonhole their authors into writing ‘safe’ books, thus keeping the risks to a minimum.

This so wasn’t the case with Bone Deep.

I mean, how many romance books can you name where the hero is a tattooed freak of nature, imprisoned by a carnival owner?

Not many I’ll wager.

Originality is the one element that propels the heavyweights of the romance genre into a different stratosphere from the rest. Why do you think J.R. Ward’s vampire series, and J.D Robb’s In Death books have been so damn successful?

What impressed me most about Bone Deep was the way that this beautiful story was told. Good dialogue, and a hellaciously intriguing cast of lead and secondary characters easily solidified this book as one of my fave reads of the year.

Bone Deep is set in the late 1940’s, just after World War II, a period in history that romance writers tend to avoid, with the exception of authors such as Lavyrle Spencer.

I know that some readers believe that if you’re going to set a romance in such a contentious period, then the plot should reflect the times, but I say fuck that, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be reminded of the number of Jews who’d died at the hands of That Crazy Dude, every two minutes.

Bone Deep starts out fairly quietly in my opinion, but I immediately liked the author’s voice, and I was compelled to read on.

For me personally, the author’s strength, lay within her fantastic characterizations, and the ability to emotionally engage the reader. I can’t imagine that anybody who reads this book, would fail to be hugely impressed with both lead characters, especially Tom.

Tom. What an utterly amazing hero he was. It’ll probably be a while before I meet another romance hero such as he, but I can tell you that I fell completely in love with him. He was just the most complex, and richly developed character, that I’ve come across in a good while.

I know that in real life, if I ever met a man who was covered in tattoos, I’d probably run a mile, so I think it was a testament to Dee’s writing ability that I was able to put my prejudices aside, and let myself fall in love with this wonderful hero.

By rights, he should have lost all of his humanity, considering the life he had led, and the way he had been treated by carnival owner, Art Reed. But he hadn’t, not at all. He was the perfect tortured hero. And then some.

Tom’s vulnerability was one of the things that I loved the most about him, but as the book went on, I was gratified to see that the author let him grow as a character.

I loved how Dee handled his innocence, without leaving the reader feeling icky, when it came to the consumation of his relationship with Sarah. I’d found myself wondering how she was going to approach the love scenes, but I needn’t have worried. She did a great job, and even managed to raise my temperature, a degree or two. (g)

Admittedly, I do love a good alpha, but somehow Dee, managed to create this somewhat beta male, without taking away his manliness. He was thoughtful, loving and conscientious, but this reader was left in no doubt that he would have laid down his life for Sarah, if he had to. As a romance reader that’s the kind of belief that I want to have in the hero. I think this is pretty much why I love Linda Howard heroes so much, even the assholic ones.

A special hero like Tom, needed a special heroine to do him justice, and I honestly believe that Sarah was that heroine.

Her first husband, John, had been killed during the war, and what impressed me about the writer was that in no way was her grief downplayed. Very often, authors fall into the trap of trying to make The Ex seem less manly, less attractive, and generally just less in comparison. Bonnie Dee didn’t do that, and for that I was very grateful, because that’s actually always been one of my pet peeves in romance.

Sarah was just lovely. She wasn’t kick-ass, but she was strong in an understated way, much like Sarah McCarty’s Jenna, in Promises Prevail.

She was a wounded woman, who didn’t think she’d ever fall in love again, but when the opportunity and the right man came along, she grabbed them with both hands and refused to let go.

One of the most spine tingling scenes in the book, is when Sarah first catches sight of Tom, and instantly feels the first threads of attraction.
When a writer is able to physically affect the reader in such a way, you know that you’ve found a keeper.

One of the things that I loved most about Sarah, was how protective she was of Tom, it was a nice change to see the heroine rescuing the hero instead of the other way round.

There was a socially conscious undertone within Bone Deep that was quite difficult to ignore or maybe it’s because I is black? (g), and I have to say that if I had one complaint about this book, it would be that the resolution at the end was just a tad too pat.

In my personal experience, bigots rarely change their minds when it comes to their various prejudices, so it was a bit of a stretch for me to imagine that Sarah and Tom’s life became a bed of roses, just because he did one good deed. But fuck it, this is a romance book, and if I can buy the whole hip-hop loving, vampires-with-spelling-issues thing, I can swallow just about anything.

Overall, Bone Deep, was a deeply satisfying read. The dialogue was well done, the plot was well executed, the love story was extremely touching, and even the villain was believable, however what I loved most about this book, was the fantastic characterisation, and the emotional impact that this story yielded.

If you want to read an original book, look no further than Bone Deep. Seriously, it was fab.

You can purchase the book here and visit the author’s website here.

What are you waiting for? Go buy dammit!