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.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Share the Darkness by Jill Monroe

Satisfying, enjoyable romance
4 Stars

Hannah Garrett is on the run from a man who wants her dead. Being in the witness protection programme has made her unable to trust anyone and she manages to keep herself to herself. Until Ward Cassidy shows up.

Her new work colleague Ward makes Hannah feel things she had forgotten she could feel. But even with her fear of intimacy, she still wants to get as close to him as she is able. When her identity is compromised, Ward decides the best way to protect her is to stay by her side, day and night.

I have enjoyed books by Jill Monroe in the past and this is another enjoyable read. Despite the premise of a woman on the run – this isn’t an action filled book and most of the story is how Ward and Hannah’s relationship changes and progresses. The action comes quite late on in the book and is over quite quickly too.

Ward is a lovely hero – sexy and strong as well as being kind, considerate and smart while Hannah is likeable despite my not feeling able to relate to her. The chemistry between the pair was good and the sex scenes were fairly hot.

My only complaint was that the whole thing seemed to be over too quickly and the story over and finished. Of course there’s the happy ending but I would have liked a little more wrapping up of the romance and an epilogue would have been ideal for this. That said, it’s still an enjoyable, fairly light romance that fans of Jill Monroe or the Blaze line should enjoy. 4 stars.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Midnight Madness by Karen Kendall

Stereotypical and flat Blaze romance
2 stars

Agreeing to cut his hair, Marly is stunned to arrive at the offices of the governor to find him shirtless – and gorgeous to boot. His playboy reputation is understandable and Marly isn’t immune to his charms or his kisses. Luckily she’s not his type but she hasn’t anticipated that politicians are the most persuasive people and Jack is determined to convince her to give them a go.

Despite looking forward to the slightly unusual premise of this book – in the end it just didn’t work for me. The author was clearly trying to make Jack an alpha male character but instead I felt he came across as a childish, annoying and at times, creepy guy. Marly was slightly better but she was still a very stereotypical ‘hippy’ character and I just couldn’t like her. The pair did have chemistry and the sex scenes were hot even if they had little emotion to them.

The other large failing of this book was the fact that it was often bogged down in politics. I have little interest in them, especially American politics, yet barely a page went by without one of the characters droning on about Democrats, Republicans and the stereotypes involved with both. I get the feeling that the fact the characters had differing politic viewpoints was supposed to be a source of conflict which I just didn’t understand.

For me, this book was a struggle to finish and I just can’t recommend it. Perhaps if you are a fan of Karen Kendall or if you like your romances with a political undertone then you might enjoy this – unfortunately it just wasn’t my cup of tea. 2 stars.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Heated Rush by Leslie Kelly

Sexy and seductive romance
4 stars

Annie Davis needs a stand-in man for a looming family reunion or she’ll never hear the end of it from her parents and brothers. With no prospects in sight she decides that her best hope is at a charity bachelor auction. The sexy bachelor she picks is the perfect man for her – a blue-collar, down to earth paramedic. Or so she thinks.

Sean Murphy has no idea how the biographies on the bachelor auction program got mixed up, but far from being a paramedic, he’s actually a sophisticated Irish businessman who’s excelled at pleasing and pleasuring women. Despite their differences, they can’t seem to keep their hands off each other but Sean knows if Annie finds out about his past their delicious liaison will be over. Luckily they only have the week together and Sean plans to keep Annie very occupied during that time.

I really enjoy Leslie Kelly’s books as I feel she has a way of making you care about her characters. This book is no exception as you really learn to like both Annie and Sean and root for them as a couple. The story is interesting, hot and good fun to read. The only reason I opted for the 4 stars rather than 5 is that the ending didn’t really seem in keeping with the rest of the book. I was looking for some huge, passionate declaration of love and instead it was more quiet, understated and emotional. There’s nothing wrong with this but it just didn’t match the rest of the story in my opinion.

This book is the second of a two part mini series focussing on the mix up at the bachelor auction. The books do stand alone but they also work nicely as a pair so I would recommend the first book, Slow Hands, alongside this one. Sean also appeared in a short story of Leslie Kelly’s – ‘Three-Way’ from One Wild Wedding Night.

Overall, this was a fun, sexy, interesting read and one I would definitely recommend to those that enjoy Blaze stories. 4 stars.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Her Sexiest Surprise by Dawn Atkins

Readable Blaze romance
3 stars

All Chloe Baxter wants for her birthday is a kiss from the gorgeous Riley Connelly. She gets that and so much more as their one kiss turns into the hottest, most enjoyable one night stand of Chloe’s life. She knows that it can only be one night and that she has to return to reality in the morning.

However in the morning, reality looks a little complicated. Her new job has landed her in the middle of a huge undercover investigation and it’s sexy Riley who’s the cop in charge. Torn between her head and her heart – Chloe needs to decide what’s more important, loyalty or love.

This was a readable and somewhat enjoyable book but not one that I would read again in a hurry or really recommend.

The story was engaging and kept the pages turning although it was a little clichéd – the big Italian/American gangster family for example. The supporting characters were a little stereotypical and one-dimensional and some of them seemed pointless to the story.

Both main characters, Chloe and Riley, just didn’t feel developed enough which was a pity because they had the beginnings of some good chemistry. They were likeable enough but I didn’t really understand them.

Overall, if you get a chance to pick up this book then it’s worth a read but it’s not really a book I would go out of my way to read again. 3 stars.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Bedtime for Bonsai by Elaine Fox

Feel good contemporary romance
5 stars

Now that Penelope Porter’s marriage is over and she’s still without the child that she always longed for, she does the next best thing and gets a puppy. Mr Darcy is an adorable ball of fluff – if only he would stop running off and over to the shop across the street. The shop owned by the sexy bad boy, Dylan Mersey.

Dylan hasn’t had many dealings with the society types – especially none that are as hot as Penelope. But nobody should name a dog Mr Darcy so he decides the puppy’s name should be Bonsai. Both dog and owner are too difficult to resist but Dylan has secrets from his past that threaten his fresh start, Penelope and whatever he might feel for her. And there’s also Penelope’s ex to consider. Soon they have to decide whether they are a mis-match or a match made in heaven.

Penelope, who, if you’re a fan of Elaine Fox, you might remember from previous books Guys and Dogs and Beware of Doug, is a likeable, engaging character without any of the stereotypical characteristics that many would put on an upper class, divorced society character. I loved how she was believable and yet confused over her feelings for Dylan. Dylan was a deep, tortured hero who, despite his past, had such a good heart that it was so sweet to see him get some happiness!

The story was interesting, engaging although perhaps not as light in nature as Elaine Fox’s previous novels. I still found it very entertaining and I love how the style of writing and way of telling a story leaves you with a nice, happy glow at the end.

If you’re looking for an entertaining contemporary romance with likeable characters and a good, happy ending then I would recommend this book to you. 5 stars.

Friday, 16 January 2009

She Did a Bad, Bad Thing by Stephanie Bond

Sexy, light romance
4 stars

Plain Jane Kurtz has always been the mild-mannered ‘good girl’ and she’s tired of it. When she overhears her sexy bad-boy neighbour, Perry Brewer, make a remark about her, she is distraught. So when she wins the lottery, she decides that it’s time she made some changes in her life so she flies off to Vegas for a bad girl makeover.

The woman is driving Perry crazy. He feels so responsible for her need to change that he follows her out to Vegas to make sure she doesn’t get up to anything too dangerous. But when he sees what naughty things Jane has planned – what’s a decent guy to do but offer to be her plaything for the weekend?!

This was a fun, sexy and enjoyable romance that was well written and easy to read. Jane was a relatable character and I’m sure that everybody would want a sexy bad boy like Perry. The pair had delicious chemistry that at times scorched the pages. The plot was believable and interesting even if I did think the story was wrapped up quite suddenly.

The story itself is the first in the ‘Million Dollar Secrets’ mini series and there is an underlying plot that runs through all the books. Despite that, if you don’t want to read the other books in the series, Perry and Jane’s romance is nicely wrapped up in this one so you won’t have to.

Overall if you’re looking for a sexy, fun and light read then this could be perfect for you. 4 stars.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Scot on the Rocks by Brenda Janowitz

Enjoyable, light read
3 stars

New York attorney, Brooke Miller, is in a bit of a bind. She’s just been invited to her ex-boyfriend’s wedding to Hollywood’s latest It Girl and she’s agreed to go. It won’t be too bad as she’ll have her gorgeous boyfriend, sexy Scot Douglas, to keep her company.

Only Douglas decides to dump her just days before the wedding. Rather than face the humiliation of attending her ex’s wedding along she enlists her best friend Jack to fill in as her boyfriend complete with kilt and Scottish accent. All she wants is to get through the wedding with her dignity ever-so-slightly intact. But even that might be a bit of a stretch with all the chaos that’s about to ensue.

This book is written in first person as if you are a friend of the main character and she’s chatting away to you. It took me a while to get into this style and, if I’m honest, sometimes it was like listening to a bubbly friend that never shuts up, which got a little irritating at points.

The book did warm up towards the middle and I really started to get into it. It would be hard not to like the character of Brooke as she is fun, silly and likeable. I also really liked Jack and the relationship he had with Brooke. While being more chick-lit than romance, there was still enough romance to keep me happy.

The book was amusing although I didn’t find it laugh out loud funny. There were things that got a bit old (like the constant ‘kilt is skirt’ thing!) but at least we didn’t have to suffer any cringe-worthy attempts at Scottish accents.

Overall, the book was an enjoyable, light and fun read. Despite the slow start, it picked up and turned out to be a worthwhile read if maybe not the best. There is a sequel to this book (Jack With A Twist) and I still might take a look at that as well. 3 stars.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife by Michelle Styles

Readable and enjoyable Viking romance
4 stars

AD 794
When Sela sees the Viking war ships full of warriors descend on her home, she doesn’t fear the threat of conquest, but rather the reappearance of the rugged warrior Vikar Hrutson – her ex-husband.

It has been four years since Sela walked out on their marriage, and Vikar has put it all behind him. Yet as the pair are forced to survive together they begin to realise that perhaps the past is not as far behind them as they might expect. But things have changed and secrets are being kept that might change every aspect of their lives.

I had not read the first book in this series, Taken By The Viking, and although I do think this particular book stands alone, I didn’t know some of the characters and situations that were referred to which I might have done had I read the first book.

This book was an enjoyable, romantic tale. Both Sela and Vikar are well-rounded, likeable characters who have deep emotions that are expressed well. I do enjoy a couple that spark off each other and these two certainly did that.

The story never let up and there was always another adventure or occurrence that kept the pages turning. There is no big evil and nothing mighty to overcome which makes the romance the main focus of the book despite the many things Sela and Vikar had to defeat together.

Overall, this is was an interesting and readable story filled with little tidbits of information that give you a greater understanding of the Vikings and their world. If you enjoy Viking romances then you really can’t go wrong with this one. 4 stars.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Ms. Match by Jo Leigh

Wonderful uplifting and hot romance
5 stars

Hot, successful and hunky PR man, Paul Bennett can have any woman he wants. Except for the one he really wants. In order to score some points, he agrees to take the girl’s rather plain sister out for a night.

Gwen Christopher isn’t as drop dead gorgeous as her sister and so Paul’s more than a little surprised to wake up, near naked, in a hotel bedroom next to her so soon after they meet. Gwen may be fun, smart, interesting, exciting and downright amazing in bed – but she’s not the kind of girl that he goes for. So why is suddenly being near her the only thing he can think of?

This story was a really fabulous read and I absolutely devoured the book from beginning to end.

Gwen wasn’t your stereotypical ‘plain-Jane’ heroine. She knew she wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous and didn’t have any hang-ups about it. She was lively, interesting, exciting and I loved her! Paul too was a great character. Starting off as a shallow man, he transformed into someone we would all love to have. The way he fell for Gwen was delightful. Together the pair had good chemistry and there were some nicely sexy moments to the story too.

Overall, this story was a great tale of two people that shouldn’t have been perfect for each other, but were. If you’re looking for a fun, sexy and uplifting read then I would recommend this book to you. 5 stars.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Too Wicked to Wed by Cheryl Holt

Enjoyable erotic romance
4 stars

Helen Mansfield’s idiotic brother has done the unthinkable and gambled away her virginity in order to save the family estate. When Helen goes to find the man who has won her and beg for mercy, what she finds is Luke Westmoreland, illegitimate son of a duke and a lusty, wildly attractive pirate.

Luke is an infamous smuggler and thief but thanks to an act of bravery on the high seas he is now hailed by society as a hero. Despite his elevated status, he is still a low-born pirate and is intrigued by the pure and delightful Helen. As the pair spend more time together, Luke realises that their encounters are more adventurous and abandoned than all his previous high seas adventures and perhaps he has finally found the best treasure. But there is someone that is determined to own Helen and they’ll stop at nothing to have her.

This book features the common character of the Duke of Roswell as seen in Cheryl Holt’s previous books, My Only Love and My True Love, yet despite this connection there is no common storyline and this book is a stand alone novel.

Cheryl Holt brings another erotic romp as an uncouth pirate meets his match in the virginal yet feisty Helen. Helen was a likeable and believable character but it was Luke as the arrogant alpha male that really stole the show. The way he is so arrogant yet manages to be brought down by love is great to read. There is also a nice secondary romance between two people who are adept at keeping secrets!

My reasons for only giving the book 4 stars was that the villain was so disgustingly vile that, at times, it was quite creepy. I suppose it shows that it was well written but it freaked me out a little!

Overall, the book was interesting, erotic and involved enough to keep you reading from beginning to end. If you’re looking for a sexy historical novel then you should enjoy this one. 4 stars.

Friday, 2 January 2009

My True Love by Cheryl Holt

Engaging and romantic story
5 stars

Penelope Westmoreland was a renowned beauty and belle of the ton. But with two failed engagements and a new fiancé who is an aging, lecherous wretch, Penny is desperate for an escape. When she meets handsome, muscular and 100% male Lucas Pendleton, Penny realises that the desire between the pair is something she must act on. Impulsively, she agrees to an elopement.

American Lucas Pendleton has a score to settle with the philandering Duke of Roswell but seducing his daughter was never part of Lucas’s plan for revenge. But as Lucas continues his charade the pair grow closer, and with every tryst the pair have, Lucas starts to realise it might not be a charade after all. But what will Penny say when she discovers the lies and will she ever believe in Lucas’s declarations of love?

This book follows Penelope, the ditched fiancé of Adam St Clair from Cheryl Holt’s previous book My Only Love. Despite the connection, there is absolutely no need to have read the first book to enjoy this one.

I found this book to be delightful despite getting off to a rather slow start. I loved Penny and how she started off a little spoiled and feisty and managed to change into a character you really could admire. Lucas was the perfect tortured hero as he did what he thought was right for his family but couldn’t help but be troubled over what he was doing to Penny as he fell for her. Their chemistry was nice and spicy despite the book not having as much heat as many of Cheryl Holt’s newer novels.

Overall, this book was exciting, romantic and very engaging. If you’re looking for a book to capture your imagination that has all the elements you need for a great love story – this is the book for you. 5 stars.