Welcome to Cozy Jo's Romance Review blog. This is where you'll find reviews and discussions on historical or contemporary romance books and maybe a few other bits and bobs thrown in for good measure.
So come on in, sit down and find yourself a good romance book to read.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

My Only Love by Cheryl Holt

Romantic and dramatic love story
5 stars

Maggie Brown, daughter to a courtesan, has struggled much during her short life, especially since her mother’s recent death. When she and her friend Anne, herself a former courtesan, visit the seaside to decide what they are going to do to survive, Maggie is delighted to meet a handsome stranger and embark on her first, but brief, love affair.

When she returns to London, she is forced to try to become a rich man’s mistress and is more than stunned when her mysterious stranger returns and is the highest bidder. Adam St Clair, Marquis of Belmont never wanted and mistress but he can’t help but want Maggie. Leaving her once was bad enough and he never wants to do so again. But duty, family and life are all conspiring to keep the pair apart and with every day their love will be truly tested.

Unlike many other of Cheryl Holt’s novels, this one really isn’t very erotic but that isn’t a complaint as this book is filled with love, passion, betrayal, murder, romance – it has it all.

The story, while not being complex, manages to keep you gripped as there is constantly something happening that makes you want to keep turning the pages. It also manages to continually surprise with a multitude of twists and turns.

All the characters, from Maggie and Adam to the more minor characters are well drawn and very interesting. The way that Adam seamlessly changes and grows throughout the book is a delight to watch as we realise he has become the perfect tortured hero!

There are so many facets to this book that it really is a joy to read. And despite all the drama, it still manages to be wonderfully romantic with an ending that will leave you smiling. Definitely recommended - 5 stars.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Who Needs Mistletoe? by Kate Hoffmann

Tropical Festive Romance
3 Stars

Trey is equally delighted by his pilot and personal tour guide and despite it not being the way he usually spends Christmas Eve, he isn’t exactly heartbroken at being stranded alone with Sophie. Soon their inhibitions and clothes are left behind – but can what starts out as a holiday fling really turn into something more when the pair get back to civilisation?

This was a festive story with a twist as there was no snow, ice or any of the usual Christmas bits and pieces. I didn’t think it embodied much Christmas spirit but this had little to do with the tropical setting.

It took me a long time to warm up to the story and this was largely to do with the characters. Sophie was confident and had absolutely no hang-ups or inhibitions. While this is admirable, it didn’t make her a very real character in my eyes and I never felt that I could identify with her at all. Trey too wasn’t really very desirable to me and I felt he developed little from the ‘male equivalent of Paris Hilton’ that he was dubbed near the beginning of the book.

The story and emotions were believable despite the romance being set over such a short period of time (24 hours) and the writing flowed naturally. There was enough heat between the characters and a good number of sex scenes. The book was just let down by the fact that the two main characters weren’t hugely likeable. Good for a quick read or if you’re a fan of Kate Hoffmann, this book just isn’t a keeper for me. 3 stars.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Come Toy With Me by Cara Summers

Fairly enjoyable light romance
4 stars

In order to appease her new step-mum, Cat McGuire agrees to her father’s plan to have navy captain and former special ops agent, Dino Angelis, pose as her fiancĂ© over Christmas and New Year. With his rugged good looks and the chemistry the pair have, it certainly isn’t a hardship. If only she didn’t have so much going on at her toy shop.

What Cat doesn’t know is that someone is using her toy shop as a front to smuggle drugs into the country and Dino has been sent to stop them. Now if only he could keep his mind on the job and his hands off Cat. But what will happen when Cat discovers that she’s just another assignment?

With all the snow and the setting of a toy shop – this is the perfect book to read in the run up to Christmas. Dino is a rugged and sexy navy captain while Cat, despite her job, is a feisty and strong woman. Together they have good chemistry which makes their scenes together nicely sexy. My problem with the romance was that the whole book took place over 2 days and that didn’t seem long enough for me to believe in the happily ever after.

There is a mystery/action element in the book with the plot of who is behind the drugs smuggling. The author did keep you guessing throughout the book but when it was revealed, it still didn’t come as much of a surprise which made things a little anticlimactic.

In the end I debated between giving this book 3 and 4 stars but settled on 4 because, despite its flaws, it’s still a readable, entertaining and enjoyable book.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

A Seduction at Christmas by Cathy Maxwell

Adventure filled romance
4 Stars

Down on her luck and desperate to earn some money, Fiona Lachlan finds herself agreeing to help with a plan that has ended with her luring the notorious Duke of Holburn, Nick Lynsted, into trouble. When the plan goes terribly wrong, Fiona and Nick soon find themselves on the run from a murderous gang of men.

In order to protect themselves and stay alive, Fiona finds herself posing as Nick’s ward. But with a missing family ring, old friends turned enemies, a disapproving family and someone intent on murder – there is little time for anything else. Except maybe seduction.

Despite being a book that easily stands alone, this book features Fiona Lachlan, the sister of the hero from Maxwell’s previous book, In The Highlander’s Bed.

From the start, the book was filled with excitement, action, adventure and lust. Fiona is a flawed but feisty character whose character suits the slightly intense yet rougishly loveable Nick. The pair have good chemistry and a love you can believe in, even if their own romance sometimes seemed to take a back seat to the action/mystery.

Overall, this book was an interesting read that definitely kept you turning the pages. I felt that it wasn’t as strong emotionally as many of Cathy Maxwell’s previous novels yet it was still an enjoyable read and one I would recommend. 4 stars.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

On Santa's Naughty List

Erotic yet romantic Christmas tales
4 Stars

HOLIDAY INN by Shelby Reed
When a freak snowstorm strands Anna Shea alone in a motel with the gorgeous, leather-clad biker, Jesse Proffitt, the pair can’t help but turn a little bit of Santa’s magic into one amazing night together.

This was the perfect Christmas short story. The writer managed to weave emotion, eroticism, romance and Christmas magic into a believable and deliciously sexy tale.

UNWRAPPED by Lacey Alexander
Emily is madly in love with her boyfriend, the gorgeous Simon – so why does she get so panicked when he mentions anything naughtier than the missionary position? Emily knows that her inhibitions are causing problems with her relationship – so with the help of her sex-therapist friend, she plans to loosen up and give Simon the sexiest, most erotic Christmas present he’s ever had.

This story was very sexy, exciting and fun. With the couple being together from the start, there wasn’t so much build-up of the story, which made it the perfect, light read.

WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES by Melani Blazer
Every since she was a little girl, Kenna McGurly has had strange dreams about the one man she was meant to be with. In order to finally rid herself of the dreams, she rents a cabin for Christmas. But she doesn’t expect to meet Seth Parker, a man she has an extraordinary connection with, and then find herself snowed in with him over Christmas.

This was the longest story (at about 150 pages it was more than double the length of the others) and in my opinion, also the weakest. I could live with the whole psychic thing but in the end it got a bit weird for my liking. And, although raunchy, there was page after page of build up and sex scenes and for me, after a while it got a bit tedious. Still readable, but definitely not the best of the bunch.

I have to admit that when I started reading this anthology, I expected that there would be a lot of sex and very little story. I am very happy to say that I was totally wrong and each story offered lots of good substance to go along side the very erotic sex and happy Christmas cheer.

This book is ideal for anyone that enjoys erotica but doesn’t want to lose out on an enjoyable story or a good, romantic happy ending - a perfect stocking filler for Christmas.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Yule Be Mine by Jennifer LaBrecque

Deliciously sexy Blaze romance
5 stars

Feature writer, Giselle Randolph, has been looking forward to Christmas for ages. She’s flying off to Sedona to write a magical story. But her plans for a peaceful time are ruined when she realises her photographer is Sam McKendrick – the man she has been in love with for years…and her former brother-in-law!

For Sam, working in close quarters with Giselle is a dream come true. He’s felt a connection to Giselle ever since he met her. Unfortunately he was married to her sister at the time. But that’s all ancient history now and, with the help of a mystical shaman, Sam taps into every one of Giselle’s fantasies, and is determined to make all her dreams come true.

This book is one of a series that deals with forbidden fantasies – in this case, an ex brother/sister-in-law. Giselle is a particularly good character with insecurities enough to make her likeable and someone to root for. Understandably, she has reservations about a relationship with Sam, but in the end she can’t deny her feelings. Sam too was a great hero - sexy, slightly arrogant and passionate.

The pair had great chemistry and the book was filled with plenty of tension, heat and sex – perfect to heat up a cold night in the run up to Christmas.

The story was realistic and interesting, the emotions real and engaging and the characters, fun and likeable. Overall, this was a delightfully sexy story with a warm, happy ending – the perfect combination for a great Blaze romance.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Christmas Eve Kisses

Sweet Christmas Romance
5 stars

Single mum Amy Riley isn't looking forward to taking her young son and baby to see Santa at the local shopping centre but it's a Christmas tradition. When her son goes missing in the mall, Santa - who is actually police officer Nick DiCaprio - comes to the rescue. Who ever said that Santa wasn't sexy?

This was a sweet Christmas story that dealt well with what could have been some difficult themes without making the story too serious. I thought Nick was the perfect hero - sexy and brooding while Amy was a sweet single mum who really needed a strong man in her life. A fun tale for Christmas.

TV Reporter Merry Deluca is determined to film her piece on the commercialisation of Christmas at the local mall during the Christmas Eve last minute rush. But her story is about to get a new twist as she realises her cameraman is her recently ex-fiancé Patrick MacFarland - and he is determined to win her back.

I absolutely adored this festive story although I admit that I'm a sucker for second chance love! Well written, wonderful characters, love, snow and Christmas cheer - what more could you need?

Retail manager Joy O'Connell is having a bad Christmas season. She's all alone, the store have been playing Christmas carols since October and now she has to become a personal shopper for a dad and his three tearaway teenagers! Ed Hall is trying to keep cheery while shopping in the store on Christmas Eve but it's difficult. But then he meets their personal shopper and suddenly his Christmas begins to look up.

This was my least favourite of the three stories simply because I felt I couldn't really identify with either of the main characters as I don't have any teenagers of my own. I'm sure those who have been Christmas shopping with three enthusiastic, video game mad, teenage boys will identify (and sympathise) with Ed and Joy. The romance was sweet and the festive touches were nicely Christmassy making this a cute story.

All three stories will get you into the Christmas spirit as the characters spend Christmas Eve shopping at the local mall. It's nice that each story happened at the same time although they weren't linked in any other way. Each story was sweet, romantic, Christmassy and perfect to read on a cold winter's night. Recommended.

* This book was previously published in 2006 as Dashing Through the Mall. The individual story names have changed but otherwise remain the same *

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

No Peeking by Stephanie Bond

Fun & Sexy Blaze Romance
4 Stars

Violet Summerlin is a complete workaholic – professional, prim and proper. If she wishes that she maybe had a little bit more fun in her life – she’s just far too busy to worry about it.

Then she receives a letter that she wrote years ago detailing her fantasies about untamed, deliciously wild sex, and her mind goes into overdrive. Even more so whenever she happens to be in the same room as her sexy client, Dominick Burns.

Then Dominick invites her to Miami for a working holiday and soon the pair are fulfilling one of Violet’s fantasies. Mixing business with pleasure is always dangerous, especially when Violet realises Dominick has been hiding something from her.

This is one of Blaze’s Christmas stories and it’s a good, fun and festive read.

Violet is definitely a woman that most will identify with as she tries to change her life, and her sex life, for the better. Dominick seemed a slightly different hero than the norm as he was boyish and fun – but he still maintained the sexy, passionate and alpha qualities that made him a great hero. Together the pair scorch the pages.

The story was interesting, readable and perfect to heat up a cold, winter evening. If you like your romances with some fun, spice and a sprinkling of Christmas spirit, then you will enjoy this story. 4 stars.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Heating Up the Holidays

Stories to heat up the holidays
4 stars

Blaze bring together another set of three red-hot stories all about sexy firemen and what they want for Christmas.

EMT Dustin Mauer and tough firefighter Christina Lewis had one wild and sexy night together but now she’ll have nothing to do with him. All Dustin wants for Christmas is to make Christina realise that she’s madly in love with him.

This was a cute story with likeable characters and some delightful festive romance.

MY GROWN-UP CHRISTMAS LIST by Jacquie D’Alessandro
Sexy firefighter Brad Griffen was head over heels for flower shop owner, Antonia Rizzo, the first time he laid eyes on her. Too bad that she has one rule: she doesn’t date firefighters. But Brad is determined to change her mind – even if it takes all night.

This was my favourite story of the three as it was romantic, sexy and left you with a nice warm glow after reading it.

UP ON THE HOUSETOP by Jamie Sobrato
Dr. Lorelei Gibson was always the geeky girl at school yet she still had a crush on Ryan Quinn - the most gorgeous guy in school. Now all grown up, Lorelei is mortified when Ryan – now a hunky firefighter – rescues her from her rooftop, where she gets stuck, half naked. But that’s until she realises that perhaps she has a chance for a little sensual payback.

This wasn’t my favourite story of the anthology as it felt a little light without much depth or emotion. It was still a good enough read and easy to finish.

I always seem to feel that the festive content in these anthologies is a little on the light side – and this was the case in these stories, too. Having said that – the stories are readable, fun, sexy and will take your mind off the chaos of Christmas for a little while. 4 stars.