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, 30 December 2010

Destined to Last by Alissa Johnson

Light and fun romance
5 Stars

Lady Kate Cole is exceptionally talented, exceptionally beautiful and the darling of the ton. The only problem is that she is also exceptionally clumsy and so prone to accidents that many find it wise to stay as far away from her as possible.

But that doesn’t include Andrew Hunter. The strong, rugged man is barely a gentleman but he can’t help but be charmed by the delightful Kate. When he decides that she’d make the perfect wife his mind is made up. Only Kate won’t settle for anything less than a love match and Hunter doesn’t believe in love. Who will win in their battle of wills?

This is actually the fourth and last book in the Providence Series (after As Luck Would Have It, Tempting Fate and McAlistair’s Fortune) a fact I hadn’t realised when I started to read this book. Characters from the previous books featured and while it whet my appetite to read the previous books in the series, there’s no need to have read them in order to understand and enjoy this story.

And I really did enjoy it. Kate was a likeable character – pretty and sweet with enough oomph to make her someone we could really root for. As for Hunter – he’s my favourite type of hero – a rugged, sexy man who is barely a gentleman and in need of the love of a good woman. Together the pair were funny, sweet and had great chemistry.

The plot was fairly calm, focusing more on the relationship between Kate and Hunter than anything more adventurous. There was a sub plot concerning smugglers and Hunter’s line of work but that really was only a very minor secondary story.

I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed this story and the writing style of Alissa Johnson. I’m really looking forward to reading the other books in this series and would recommend this book for people looking for a light, enjoyable romance. 5 stars.

Monday, 27 December 2010

His Christmas Pleasure by Cathy Maxwell

An entertaining, readable romance
4 stars

Abigail Montross has been waiting for the man of her dreams to propose for what seems like forever. But when he finally does propose – it’s to her cousin! But things keep getting worse for her as her father threatens to marry her off to a man twice her age with 13 children.

Baron de Vasconia, Andres Ramigio is in desperate need of money. Knowing of Abby’s dilemma, the pair hatch a plan to elope so she gets his protection and he gets her money. But the pair soon begin to realise that once they reveal each other’s secrets, there is nothing that can stop them from falling in love.

Despite the title, this book isn’t Christmassy at all despite the conclusion taking place on Christmas Day. As much as I like Christmas romances, I didn’t feel that the book tried to be a festive romance so I didn’t feel let down but the lack of Christmas content.

Both Andres and Abby are likeable characters and have a good chemistry together. I liked the way that Abby especially grew into a more confident woman and how the pair shared their dreams together and how they easily fell in love.

There were one or two jarring Americanisms which I am inclined to overlook simply because it’s rare to find a book that doesn’t have at least one. That said, it’s still very annoying in any book.

This book stands alone but the characters have been featured in previous books by Cathy Maxwell. Despite having read those romances, I couldn’t quite remember the back stories of the characters but it really made no difference to my enjoyment of this particular story.

Overall, this was a nice story to pass the time. It’s well written, enjoyable and the story really kept the pages turning. 4 stars.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Holiday Affair by Lisa Plumley

Fluffy and lackluster romance
2 Stars

Recently divorced and feeling a little overwhelmed by her life and the lives of her three kids, Karina Barrett accepts a job evaluating a Michegan B&B – The Christmas House. With free gingerbread, cocoa and enough Christmas spirit to move Scrooge – Karina is looking forward to the best Christmas she’s ever had especially when she meets sexy innkeeper, Reid Sullivan.

Globe-trotting adventurer turned single dad turned inn-keeper, Reid Sullivan isn’t quite sure how he and his two daughters ended up looking after his family’s Christmas themed B&B. But once he arrives and Karina catches his eye – he’s more than happy to stay warm inside with Karina by his side. But will it all last until New Year?

Who can resist a Christmas romance to snuggle up with when it’s cold outside? I have to say that I was really looking forward to this book and perhaps that’s the reason that I’m so disappointed.

Both Karina and Reid were nice enough characters but were fairly insubstantial and had little depth to them or their relationship. I don’t mind a sweet romance but there was no real emotion or oomph to go along with all the sweetness and fluff. I also would have liked a little more naughtiness in the book as it felt a little tepid in many parts.

The plot was fairly basic and nothing much happened apart from the mishaps at the B&B. This meant that when you put the book down there wasn’t much incentive to pick it up again and as it was it’s taken me ages to finish this book. The fact that I did manage to finish it is a point in it’s favour though. The ending was also very suspect – with the wrapping up of all the loose ends bordering on the ridiculous. I can suspend belief with the best of them but it just got farcical!

Perhaps I just didn’t feel I understood the main characters or perhaps the book was just a little too fluffy for me. Either way, I’m sorry to say that it’s not one I can really recommend. It was readable but not overly exciting in any way. 2 stars.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Mammoth Book of Regency Romance

A good taster of Regency authors
4 stars

I’m always on the look out for enjoyable Regency romances but never want to try a new author’s full length book incase I don’t like the writing style. That’s why I was delighted to find this large anthology. At such a low price (£4 at the time of writing) I felt I couldn’t go wrong.

There are 23 stories in this book, all of them original to this collection so you can guarantee you won’t have read them anywhere else. There are offerings from well known authors such as Lorraine Heath, Candice Hern and Elizabeth Boyle as well as many from less the less well-known. Some stories are sexy and some are quite tame. Basically there’s something for everyone no matter what your taste.

Much like another reviewer, I also found it quite astonishing how good most of the stories in this anthology were. For being so short (each lasts roughly 30 pages), there were remarkably few that I couldn’t finish or didn’t enjoy.

I really liked quite a number of the stories in the book and will definitely be checking out longer length stories by a few of the authors. My standout stories were Upon a Midnight Clear by Anna Campbell, Cinders and Ashe by Elizabeth Boyle, Stolen by Emma Wildes and The Devil’s Bargain by Deborah Raleigh.

Overall, for the price, you get a really good selection of stories and even if you don’t enjoy them all, you’re bound to get find a few that take your fancy. This is a book I would definitely recommend. 4 stars.

Friday, 26 November 2010

It Must Have Been The Mistletoe by Kate Hoffmann

Christmas selection without much sparkle
3 Stars

This is Blaze’s annual collection of Christmas themed short stories. This lot focuses on the Cole sisters – a trio who grew up in a travelling singing family and who have all been unlucky in love.

When She Was Naughty – Kate Hoffmann
Alison Cole is up in the mountains to record old songs for her job when she meets Dr Drew Phillips and feels an instant connection. Luckily for her, a freak snow storms means she’ll have to stay in his cabin with only one way to keep warm.

This story was a little forgettable. Neither character had much chemistry and I didn’t believe that the couple would have a happily ever after. Disappointing.

Cole for Christmas – Rhona Nelson
When Layla Cole is invited to support a country star on tour, she’s determined but terrified. Luckily for her, tour security chief, Bryant Bishop, is on hand to give her the best kind of distraction.

This was a sweet story of two people who realise they’re perfect for each other but just need time to work it all out. I was disappointed with the ending though – I want happily ever after not just the promise of trying to work it out and not being sure if it’s forever.

A Babe in Toyland – Tawny Weber
Rita Mae Cole was always the wild child of the family. When her high school crush, Tyler Ramsey, comes back on the scene she decides it’s time to show him just how wild she can be.

This was an okay story and I liked the premise of getting together with your high school crush all those years later. I just felt that the story was a little flat although at least it had a proper happy ending!

Overall, this anthology wasn’t really the best I’ve ever read and although Christmas themed, didn’t really have any festive sparkle. It was readable and a quick read to pass the time but nothing overly special, unfortunately. 3 stars.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean

Entertaining novel but a little lacking
4 stars

Lord Nicholas St John is determined to get away from London and the simpering misses determined to catch him since he was named London’s Lord to Land. So when he’s hired to find a missing heiress in Yorkshire he jumps at the chance.

What he doesn’t expect is to find Lady Isabel Townsend – daughter of a nefarious wastrel and the most enticing and infuriating woman he’s ever laid eyes on.

Isabel has serious money worries and serious secrets that she’s determined to keep. What she doesn’t expect is that Nick could be the solution to all her problems and might uncover he secrets one kiss at a time.

Like another reviewer said, this book suffers massively when compared to MacLean’s previous novel, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake, which I agree was a truly wonderful read.

Having said that, I did actually quite enjoy this book on its own and although it didn’t set my world on fire, it’s still a well-written and fairly enjoyable tale to pass the time.

This book features Nick, the twin brother to the hero of Nine Rules… although the books do stand alone quite nicely and you don’t have to have read the first one to read this one. Personally, I would have liked to see more of Gabriel and Callie from the first book but that’s just me.

Both Nick and Isabel were likeable and sympathetic characters although I didn’t feel any deep or memorable emotions either for them or from them. Regardless, I liked their interactions and thought they went well together as a couple.

I think the main problem with the story was that there was too much going on. With Minerva House, the love story, the secondary love story, the Duke, the boy Earl – there wasn’t enough time dedicated wholly to Nick and Isabel to make me truly believe.

After all I’ve written I’m beginning to wonder whether I’ve been too generous with my 4 star rating. But when I look at the book as a whole I enjoyed reading it, it was well written and it captured my attention so I’ve decided to stick with the 4 stars. It’s not the best but it’s worth a look if you have it on your shelf or you enjoyed MacLean’s first book. I also look forward to reading MacLean’s next book Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart which I’m hoping will be Leighton’s story to continue the series.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Star Crossed Sweethearts / Secret Prince, Instant Daddy!

One great story, the other disappointing
3 Stars

Star-Crossed Sweethearts – Jackie Braun
Hot shot baseball star Angelo Casali is back in Italy to simultaneously recover from a serious injury and meet with his estranged father. The last thing he expects is to find Hollywood starlet, Atlanta Jackson, hiding out from the media and a future he never contemplated.

I have come across Jackie Braun before and really enjoyed the emotion and understated passion of her writing. This was no exception as the story of Angelo and Atlanta grabbed me from start to finish. Both characters were rich and had good depth. I was surprised to find myself really rooting for the pair and really liking them both individually and as a couple. With this being from the Cherish line we only get a few kisses rather than anything more descriptive and while that’s not what I usually like, it worked with this story and didn’t take away from the romance and sensuality of the story.

Overall, excellent writing and a sweet, enjoyable love story that I very much enjoyed. 5 stars.

Secret Prince, Instant Daddy! – Raye Morgan
David Dykstra has big plans to reclaim his rightful place as prince of the small country of Ambria and doesn’t have time for distractions. Unfortunately, Ayme Sommers’ arrival with her neice Cici makes things complicated. And even more so when she claims that the baby is his!

At first, I was really enjoying this book. It was fast paced and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened, especially regarding the lost kingdom of Ambria. But after a while it got quite monotonous and we only ever heard about Ambria rather than about David and Ayme. Even then, there was zero spark between the couple and I felt no emotion or romance whatsoever. The baby might has well have been a sack of potatoes for all the point she played to the storyline and in the end the Ambrian storyline was left wide open which I’m assuming means that this is the first book in a series.

Interesting to begin with but seriously fizzling out in the end – a little disappointing. 2 stars.

It seems a shame to have to star this book so low as I very much enjoyed the first story. As it is, combined, I can only give the book 3 stars. Worth it for the first story alone.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A Mistake, A Prince and a Pregnancy by Maisey Yates

Romance that falls a little flat
2 Stars

A mistake at an IVF clinic means that resolute singleton, Alison Whitman, now finds herself having a child with a man she knows nothing about. When she turns up to tell him about it, she finds that he’s Maximo Rossi, Prince of Turan and she’s now carrying his royal heir,

Whisked off to Turan and finding herself engaged to Maximo, Alison is determined to keep her distance. But she can’t hide from the burn of desire whenever she’s near Max and soon she finds herself with a royal problem – love.

Maximo was the perfect hero for the Modern line – sexy and strong while also arrogant and headstrong. Alison was a little bit more of a puzzle as she was by turns indpendent then shy and needy - I didn’t really understand her but I did want to like her. The pair had chemistry but it wasn’t anything special that made you sigh.

The storyline was a little far-fetched and relied on a lot of coincidences. But it’s much more interesting to read a fantasy romance than read about real life so that’s fine for me.

Unrelated to the actual content of the book, I did quite like the new cover designs for the Modern line. They’re not as cheesy as they used to be which is always a good thing!

I’m only going to give this book 2 stars as it didn’t really capture my attention from beginning to end. The writing is good and all the elements are there for a Modern M&B but it just lacked sparkle. Not one to pass up if it’s on your book shelf but also not one that I would go out of my way to recommend.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Ex Factor by Nancy Warren

Readable but ultimately disappointing romance
3 Stars

Wedding planner extraordinaire, Karen Petersham, can take on any challenge when it comes to planning dream weddings. What she can’t deal with is the unexpected arrival of the devastatingly hot, and infernally annoying Dexter Crane – her ex husband.

Karen is determined not to fall for Dex again – especially with how badly things ended the first time round. But she can’t help but find herself in his arms and bed once again but this time he seems unwilling to let her go.

I feel quite bad about only giving this 3 stars as I love a romance where a couple have a second chance at love so this story was right up my street. When I first started reading I absolutely loved it. Karen and Dexter had such chemistry and I really enjoyed their bickering and banter.

Things were progressing nicely when suddenly the secondary love story kicked in and Dexter and Karen were suddenly gone for chapter after chapter. Then came a rather pointless bit about Chelsea and David from Warren’s previous book, My Fake Fiancee (although this book follows that one, each can easily be read as a stand alone). When we finally got back to Karen and Dexter they had lost their spark and the ending was concluded so quickly that the author seemed to have forgotten that the pair still had issues to work out. Of course it was a happy ending but I didn’t feel that the pair were truly over all the problems that were between them.

It could have been such a good book but it just lost its sparkle with the secondary romance. Disappointing but still a readable book and fine for a lazy afternoon. 3 stars.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

One Winter's Night by Lori Borill

4 Enjoyable Christmas treats
4 stars

I love a good festive romance and this one has four short stories that you can manage to fit in no matter how busy you are. All four stories take place at the Christmas party for Stryker & Associates and involve a little bit of Christmas magic.

Here Comes Santa Claus
Monica Newell is an uptight workaholic so nobody would guess that she indulged in a hot one night stand on a recent business trip. But what will she do when the sexy cowboy of her recent encounter turns up at the office Christmas party and offers her a repeat performance?

This was an okay story but seemed a little far fetched and lacking in romance. Both Monica and Kit were fine enough characters but not people I felt particularly drawn to or much cared for which put a bit of a dampener on the story for me.

Sleigh Ride
Nick Castle and Allie Madison have been rivals for most of the time they have known each other. But when someone points out that Allie could be Nick’s soulmate, he’s determined to see what he’s been missing.

I love a story where a couple have an antagonistic relationship that turns into something more. Nick and Allie are both sharp, delightful characters making this my favourite story of the bunch.

You’re All I Want for Christmas
Anna Cole is down on her luck and facing the prospect of returning home to Idaho so crashing a Christmas party sounds like her last chance at some fun. So she is surprised when she finds herself hooked up with none other than John Stryker Jr, heir to the company whose party she has crashed. But will it change her fortune?

I didn’t much care for this story if I’m honest. It was all a bit bland and neither John nor Anna were particularly sympathetic characters. It was okay but nothing special.

Merry Christmas, Baby
Jeannie Carmichael does her job and gets little praise for her efforts. So when she gets a secret admirer, she feels like her luck might change and she might get a man for Christmas. But will it be the man she’s always dreamed of?

This was a cute story about not realising what’s right in front of your nose and what you do when you realise what’s really there. Troy and Jeannie were both lovely characters and this was a sweet and enjoyable story.

If you’re looking for a little Christmas romance then these four stories are perfect little treats to read on a cold night. I loved the addition of ‘Santa Claus’ and overall it was a book that I enjoyed and would recommend for those that like Christmas and Blaze romances. 4 stars.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A Hellion In Her Bed by Sabrina Jeffries

A great addition to the series
4 stars

Determined to get out of his grandmother’s scheme to see him and his siblings married or disinherited, gambler Lord Jarret Sharpe agrees to run his family’s brewery for a year and stay as a bachelor. But that doesn’t mean that he can resist one last wager with the tempting Annabel Lake.

Annabel is determined to save her family’s own brewery so she makes a scandalous wager. If she wins then Jarret must help her save her brewery but if he wins she’ll agree to a night in his bed. The outcome sets off a chain of events that will reveal long kept secrets and destroy the best laid plans. But who will end up gambling with their heart?

This is the second book in the Hellions of Halstead Hall series and while you probably don’t have to read the first one (The Truth about Lord Stoneville) before reading this one, I do think it will help with the back story of the Sharpe family and the ongoing plot of their parents deaths if you read them in order. The book that follows on from this one is How to Woo a Reluctant Lady.

I love Sabrina Jeffries and while I really enjoyed this book and the romance, it didn’t knock my socks off like I wanted it to. Having said that, both Jarret and Annabel are great characters and I really enjoyed their scenes together and rooted for them to work things out. They had good chemistry and there were some nice sensual moments throughout the story. The plot was interesting and never got bogged down in brewing terminology. I would have preferred it if Annabel’s ‘secret’ hadn’t overshadowed the final parts of the book but I still got a good, romantic conclusion which is always a good thing.

If you’re a fan of Sabrina Jeffries, are reading the Hellions of Hallstead Hall series or just want to read an engaging and engrossing romantic story then I would definitely recommend this one to you.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Nerds Like It Hot by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Likeable but far-fetched romance
3 stars

Make-up artist Gillian McCormick’s life just took a turn for the worse when she was the only witness to a mafia murder. Hiding out on a cruise for nerdy singletons sounds like the perfect place to hide, especially since she’s donned a blonde bombshell disguise that’s worlds away from her usual self.

P.I. and bodyguard, Lex Manchester, isn’t too keen on a singles nerd cruise but he is keen on Gillian and the sparks that are flying between the pair. His first mission is to protect Gillian at all costs and it’s only right that he stay very close to her at all times even if that means never letting her go.

This is another of Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Nerd Series although each book stands entirely alone. Having said that, despite this being billed as one of the series and set on a Nerd cruise – neither the hero or heroine were actual nerds or even particularly geeky which made it different from the other books.

This book was entertaining and if you can put aside the sheer implausibility of the plot then it’s an enjoyable read. However, I didn’t think that any of the characters acted the way they should have if they had really been in the situations they found themselves in and the unlikeliness of this started to grate on me after a while.

Both Gillian and Lex were enjoyable characters but there wasn’t really any romance between the pair. I believed in their relationship well enough but didn’t really feel the passion or love that they supposedly had for each other. There was a large cast of supporting characters and while I liked them too, some of them were really only fillers and had little point to the actual storyline.

All in all, this was an fantastical and amusing read but not one of the better Nerd books. 3 stars but still worth a read if it’s sitting on your book shelf.

Monday, 20 September 2010

My Nerdy Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Fun and entertaining romp
4 Stars

Aspiring psychologist Amanda Rykowsky is focussed on getting her degree and with studying, her internship and her bartending job – she’s got little time for anything else. Men included. But that’s not to say she’s very flattered when she receives an anonymous Valentine… until the messages start getting a little personal and sinister.

Stockbroker and resident nerd William Sloan swears he has nothing to do with the dodgy cards and suspects there’s something a little funny going on. There’s something about the gorgeous Amanda that brings out William’s inner he-man and make him insist on acting as a decoy boyfriend.

A fake relationship with some very real lust – it’s only a matter of time before someone gives into temptation. But with Amanda determined to focus on studying, William has to first dispatch her stalker and then claim her heart.

Oh I love a good nerd and the way Vicki Lewis Thompson writes them makes them so sexy! This is part of her ongoing Nerd series but non of the books are connected so stand completely alone.

Amanda was a lovely heroine as she was determined, realistic but couldn’t help but fall for the charms of the lovely Will. Will himself is the kind of man that any woman would want – very smart, adorably cute but still ridiculously sexy and manly underneath his suit and hat with earflaps! Together the pair have a lot of heat especially since Amanda works with Dr Gloria – the craziest sex therapist in the world.

This is the kind of book you have to suspend reality a little to enjoy. The stalker threat isn’t very pleasant but it’s in keeping with the story and not at all scary – just a little creepy. Plus it gives Will a chance to be all manly which is what any nerd needs. I could have done with a quick epilogue to tie things up at the end but was still satisfied by the happily ever after!

If you want a fun, entertaining romantic romp then you can’t go wrong with this book. 4 stars.

Burning Up by Susan Andersen

Engaging and exciting contemporary romance
4 stars

It’s been years since Macy O’James left small town Sugarville, Washington and never looked back. But now both she, and the wild child reputation that she can’t get rid of, are back in town to help out her family and attend her school reunion. As soon as that’s done – she’s hot footing right back to California.

Fire Chief, Gabriel Donovan is none too pleased that he can’t seem to help his reaction to Macy – the pair generate enough sparks to burn down the town. Gabe left Denver for a quiet life in Sugarville and he doesn’t need Macy making him crazy. But sometimes a spark turns into something a whole lot more, especially when you’re not expecting it.

I love Susan Andersen and have been eagerly awaiting this book. This book doesn’t fit into any series (unless it’s the start of a new one) so it can be read completely on its own without worrying that you’ve missed something.

I wasn’t sure that I’d like wild child Macy but I ended up really identifying with her, rooting for her and also wishing that I was as strong as she was. Gabe was the best type of hero – strong and sexy and the chemistry between the pair was scorching. I felt that this book was more sexy than Susan Andersen’s other books.

I loved the small town setting although I wanted a bit more closure with certain aspects of the story. I’m assuming that this is the beginning of a new series so storylines might get picked up and completed in later books.

My biggest gripe about this book was regarding the secondary romance. Firstly, it was focussed on and then dropped as soon as it was done. Secondly, the male was an Irish rocker and my God, the accent and Irishisms were completely OTT. I’m not suggesting that the words he used aren’t used by the Irish but it seemed both stereotypical and made me cringe on more than one occasion.

Overall, Susan Andersen always writes an engaging, exciting story that you can’t bear to put down. Despite its faults, this is a great book and one I would highly recommend if you’re looking for a sexy contemporary romance.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Born on the Fourth of July

Fairly lacklustre romantic anthology
2 stars

This Blaze anthology is a collection of stories based around military heroes and the woman who love them.

FRIENDLY FIRE by Jill Shalvis
Cord Madden is stunned to return from active duty to find his best friend and neighbour, Lexi McGowan, pleasuring herself in his shower. He’s stunned by his reaction to her but the wounds that ended his career are holding him back. Can they both move past it?

This was a fairly bland story with little in the way of deep emotion. I can understand that recovering from wounds suffered while in the army is tough to come to terms with but it doesn’t really make for interesting reading.

THE PRODIGAL by Rhonda Nelson
Major Chase Harrison has only returned from Iraq to attend his father’s funeral even though there was no lost between the pair. But he still has to deal with his father’s secretary, the lovely Rorie Whitaker, who makes his blood boil in a completely different way.

This was the best story in my opinion but still nothing overly special. It was quite sad that father and son could never work things out and while I appreciate that’s real life – that’s not what I read romance for. The romance was nice but I could have done with a more concrete ending.

PACKING HEAT by Karen Foley
Throughout his tour of duty in Iraq, Matt Talbot has been exchanging letters with lovely school teacher, Megan O’Connell. Now that he’s back in the US he plans to get to know her a whole lot better.

This was an okay story although I had a lot of trouble believing that a sweet teacher would be so free and loose the first time she met a guy. It again was a little low on the emotion and excitement but wasn’t terrible overall.

This is a book that is probably more aimed at an American market as I think they would more enjoy the military heroes angle.

Personally, I didn’t think any of the stories delivered particularly well on emotion or drama and while I did get through it, it wasn’t overly exciting or a book I would read again. 2 stars.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Love Writing by Sue Moorcroft

Informative, witty and useful book
5 Stars

As the title would suggest, this is a book that aims to detail the romance writing industry and show you the path to hopefully becoming a published author. Chapters within the book include: Heroes and Heroines; Characters That Convince; Viewpoint and Voice: Emotion and Mood: From Sensuality To Sizzle To Erotica; Act, React and Interact; What’s The Plot?; Genre; So Where Do You Send Your Work?; Networking; Getting Down to Business and YESSSS! (which is about when you get your story published).

Because it’s written by a romance writer for prospective romance writers, I was glad that there’s no disdain or snobbery for any part of the romance industry. Whether you’re looking to write Mills and Boon, historic fiction, erotica or anything in between, Sue Moorcroft treats them all equally and values them all.

Sue Moorcroft’s writing is informative and full of personality. I’ve never read any of her fiction works but she seems to both know and enjoy romance as a whole. As well as that, she’s very witty and has such a humour that I found myself laughing out loud at times, which I think is odd (but refreshing) for a non-fiction book.

There are many snippets of advice from many of romantic fiction’s best loved authors, editors, agents, teachers and industry buffs. Names that stood out for me included Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde, Penny Jordan and Tessa Shapcott.

The main thing that I got from this book was a sense of empowerment. It doesn’t tell you how to write a romance or even how to get published but it does give you inspiration and ideas enough that you feel motivated to go out and start writing. If you’re looking for a ‘how to’ guide to writing romance or lists of agents or writing guidelines then you’re not going to find it here.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. It’s fresh, useful and gives you just enough information without bogging you down or putting you to sleep. If you fancy being a romance writer (of any sort) or want to know about the industry then I would definitely recommend this book to you. 5 stars.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Make Me Yours by Betina Krahn

Entertaining Blaze historical romance
4 Stars

Widow, Mariah Eller was only trying to make sure her inn didn’t get trashed when she found herself catching the attention of the Prince of Wales. Unfortunately for Mariah, she much prefers the prince’s best friend, Jack St. Lawrence.

The attraction is mutual but Jack is completely loyal to the prince and since he knows the prince only gets involved with married women, he figures Mariah is safe. That is until the prince demands Jack find Mariah a husband.

But as Mariah and Jack try to fight their attraction toward each other Jack begins to realise that he has found the perfect husband for Mariah. Himself.

This is a new Blaze historical with this particular book being set in England in 1887.

I love a tortured, broody hero and Jack was certainly that. But, one of the things I love best is that we get a glimpse into the emotions the hero feels and that was something that I felt was a little lacking in this story. Mariah was a fun character with a definite wit and sparkle about her but again, I would have liked a little more emotion from her. Together the pair had great chemistry and the sex scenes were nicely hot.

The writing style was fast paced and I loved the dialogue between the characters, especially Mariah and Jack. The descriptive got a little flowery in places for my liking but it was brief and not very often so it didn’t overly bother me.

I have to give this book 4 stars as, despite its faults, it was a readable book that I didn’t want to put down. I love the fact that Blaze are now offering historical romances in their range and this definitely won’t be the last one that I read.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

While She Was Sleeping by Isabel Sharpe

Opposites attract romance
4 Stars

When Alana Hawthorne visits her sister she has the best dream ever. A hot guy, some amazing moves and an ending that makes your toes curl. Only when she wakes up in the morning she finds that it wasn’t a dream as there’s a very naked man tucked in beside her in bed.

It gets worse as delicious Sawyer Kern is supposedly the new boyfriend of Alana’s sister and the very man Alana came down to save her sister from. But the gorgeous Sawyer’s not one to give up and he’s really up for a repeat performance.

This is a fairly simple story of an uptight girl who falls for a laid back, easy-going guy. Both characters were sympathetic and you really felt the chemistry between the pair. There was a little bit of emotion missing from the story at times and I felt that Alana could have been written a little bit more sympathetically and not so straight-laced and high-strung.

This book is followed by Surprise Me… and although each can be read individually, the secondary love story in this book is not wrapped up until the next book which I suppose is a cheeky way of ensuring that you buy and read the second book in the set.

If I’m honest, I wish I could give this 3 and a half stars out of 5 as 3 seems a little mean while 4 is a little generous. As it is, I’m going to go with 4 because the book was readable, enjoyable and while not perfect, still a good choice to while away a couple of hours.

My Fake Fiancee by Nancy Warren

Interesting, enjoyable romance
4 Stars

Hot shot David Wolfe is determined to become his company’s youngest ever VP. But to do so he needs to find someone to play the fiancée he’s told his colleagues and boss about. Unfortunately, he’s not a man who usually goes for the kind of woman that they would find acceptable.

Enter his sister’s best friend. David hasn’t seen Chelsea Hammond since she was a geeky teen so he’s more than a little stunned by the sexy woman she’s become. Hammond since she was a geeky teen so he’s more than a little stunned by the sexy woman she’s become and he suddenly finds it’s not so difficult playing pretend. But is it really all for show?

This is a tried and tested storyline where what starts off as pretend turns into the real thing. That’s fine with me because it’s a storyline I enjoy and although not demanding or overly original, I enjoyed this one too.

I liked both David and Chelsea and thought their interactions were fun, interesting and quite true to life. I could have done with a little more emotion, especially with the realisation that it was love rather than just lust or infatuation. But overall, this is a book to escape with for a couple of hours. It’s well written, romantic and perfect if you like a Blaze story. 4 stars.

Sunday, 29 August 2010


Enjoyable Valentine’s anthology
5 stars

This is the annual Blaze anthology for Valentine’s Day with three connecting stories of three friends who are determined not to spend another Valentine’s Day alone.

THE CHASE by Betina Krahn
Samantha Drexel has always loved Nick Stack’s music but when the pair finally meet, the sparks that are flying are more from anger than anything else. But those sparks soon turn into sparks of lust but will their one night together turn into forever?

This was a fun story with likeable characters that had great chemistry and a lot of spark.

THE TAKEDOWN by Joanne Rock
Tori Halsey has been in love with her brother’s best friend for most of her life. Now she’s all grown up, she decides that it’s about time she finds out whether they’ve got the kind of chemistry that can last a lifetime.

I do like a story where the couple have known each other forever and especially enjoyed this one as both Tori and Luke realised perhaps they didn’t know everything about each other. Good chemistry and a well-written story.

Sweet Kitty Colburn is determined not to be the only one without a date on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, the man she’s picked out is a little, well, boring. So, before she commits to a staid and dull existence, she plans to have some wild times with sexy chef, Josh Beeker.

This was my favourite story of the three as Josh discovers another side to his sweet and shy neighbour. I liked the development of the relationship and it was nicely sexy too.

It’s unusual for me to enjoy all the stories in an anthology but I really enjoyed all three of these. The Valentine’s content is limited so the stories can be enjoyed all year and if you’re looking for some light, fun and romantic stories to take your mind off things for a while then I would recommend this book to you. 5 stars.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Mills and Boon Christmas Treasury of Romance

Disappointing Christmas collection
2 Stars

This is the first Mills and Boon Christmas Treasury although I’m sure it follows on from the Christmas Annuals they published in 2007 and 2008. It takes authors from all different Mills and Boon lines and gives you eleven stories promising romance for over the Christmas season.

Authors featured are: Lucy Munroe, Heidi Rice, Liz Fielding, Alison Kent, Julia James, Margaret Moore, Pamela Toth, Debra Webb, Karen Martyn, Natasha Oakley and Susan Mallery.

My biggest complaint about this book is that only three Christmas or festive stories out of the entire eleven. Why bother compiling a Christmas Treasury only to have most stories have not one drop of Christmas content? I just don’t get it. If I buy a Christmas anthology, I’m looking for 100% Christmas stories.

Having said that the lack of Christmas themes was the biggest issue with this book, I probably would have still been satisfied with the book if I had enjoyed the stories. But, the majority of the stories were bad, with some terrible ones thrown into the mix. Formulaic, highly depressing, lacking depth and emotion, boring and dull were just some of the words that sprang to mind about a lot of the stories. At least one of the stories was also previously offered for free on the e-harlequin website which was rather annoying.

Having said that – there were three good and very enjoyable stories, too. The Christmas Crush by Pamela Toth, Evidence of Desire by Debra Webb and Fool for Love by Susan Mallery were by far the best stories of the book. They alone stopped me from giving this collection only 1 star.

The stories ranged from 6 pages long up to 52 pages long. I tended to prefer the longer ones as they had more depth but that wasn’t always the case. For those who like a particular series of Mills and Boon, there were 2 Modern stories, 3 Romance stories and 1 each of Blaze, Historical, Intrigue, Special Edition. There was also the Woman’s Weekly Competition winning story and a single title author.

I have to say that I did love the retro cover. It really stood out and made me laugh at the same time.

Overall, this book was a huge disappointment to me and I’m afraid that I can’t recommend it. If you’re a Mills and Boon fan then you’re probably going to be much more satisfied buying a full length book. 2 stars.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Blazing Bedtime Stories: Volume 5

One great story, one mediocre
4 Stars

This is the fifth book in Blaze’s Bedtime Stories collection which gives fairy stories a romantic and sexy twist.

A PRINCE OF A GUY by Leslie Kelly
Olivia Vanderbrook has been sent on a very important mission. Journey from her home in the fairytale land of Elatyria to the mystical, magical world called San Fransisco to find and return the kingdom’s errant prince. But it’s not the prince she goes looking for that she ultimately finds.

I am really beginning to enjoy sexy fairy tales and this one is definitely that. Somehow, it’s a believable story with great characters, an interesting plot and some nicely sexy moments. Highly enjoyable and a story that I couldn’t put down.

Finding a guy and getting married is Goldie Dawkins’ biggest desire. That is until she lays eyes on Jake Malone. But Jake is 100% against marriage and although he feels the same desire, he won’t risk his freedom. But then they’re trapped together in a cabin in the woods during a storm and they have to deal with their attraction.

I found this story a bit hit or miss. I couldn’t see how two people with such opposing views (and seemingly understandable reasons for these views) could find a way to be together. When they did it was such a turnaround and so quick that I didn’t believe it for a minute. This isn’t a fairy tale and while easy to read and somewhat entertaining – it didn’t do it for me.

This was a book of two halves with the first story one I enjoyed a lot and the other that I could take or leave. Still, for a quick, romantic read with just a touch of fantasy – this is a fine book to choose. 4 stars – 5 for the first story and 3 for the second.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Hot for Him by Sarah Mayberry

Slightly depressing romance
2 stars

Daytime soap producer, Claudia Dostis, is always in control. So she feels like her world is rocked on its axis when she has to deal with rival producer, - the sexy and infuriating Leandro Mandalor.

Leandro is looking for a wife but he can’t help but be distracted by feisty Claudia. He knows she’s not the marriage and family type but he’s determined to change her mind.

This is the third in Mayberry’s Secret Lives of Daytime Divas trilogy (after Take On Me and All Over You) but stands completely alone if you haven’t read the first two books in the series.

Both Claudia and Leandro are nice enough characters but neither inspired much feeling in me – good or bad. While I completely understood the conflict in the story and even sympathised with the characters, on the whole the subject of alcoholism was really quite depressing as I’m sure it was written with a great deal of authenticity. This probably wouldn’t normally be a problem but when you’re looking for a light, sexy read then it’s not really what you’re looking for.

Plus, I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more of Grace and Sadie’s romances from the first two books in the trilogy. I always think it’s nice to wrap up a series with a little reunion and ‘where are they now’.

Overall, the book is very readable and I like Sarah Mayberry’s writing style. But this story was too focussed on the conflict and not enough on the romance for me to enjoy overly much. Only 2 stars.

All Over You by Sarah Mayberry

Enjoyable, easy read romance
4 stars

Millions of women drool over hunky soap star, Mac Harrison. And scriptwriter Grace Wellington is no different as Mac has a starring role in every single one of her fantasies. But she’s got no room in her life for a man and especially someone she works with.

When Grace and Mac are thrown together on a project, the lines between fantasy and reality become blissfully blurred. Grace is determined to enjoy her fling with Mac but has Mac got something more permanent on his mind?

This is the second in the Secret Lives of Daytime Divas trilogy (after Take on Me and before Hot for Him) but it stands on its own just fine so reading the other two or in order isn’t necessary to understand and enjoy this book.

Both Grace and Mac are likeable characters that have good chemistry together starting off antagonistic and moving onto romance and love. Grace’s problems were slightly out of proportion to her strong, sassy character but probably realistic none-the-less.

The plot is fairly light but fun at the same time. In the end, the focus on the romance left some of Grace’s family issues left as loose ends. But that wasn’t too much of a problem for me as I always like to focus on the romance.

This is essentially a fun, enjoyable and romantic read that I would recommend to those who enjoy a Blaze romance or are just looking for a book to take them away for a couple of hours. 4 stars.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Enjoyable end to an excellent series
4 stars

Beatrix Hathaway has always felt more comfortable outside with the animals than in a ballroom crowded with people. Despite that, she still yearns for the kind of love and passion that will sweep her off her feet yet no man has ever taken her breath away or even seriously courted her.

Captain Christopher Phelan is a dashing, handsome soldier who has plans to marry Beatrix’s pretty, flirtatious friend, Prudence, when he returns from fighting in the Crimea. But life on the battlefield has darkened his soul and he fears he is no longer the man he once was. The only light in his life are the regular, witty letters he receives from Pru. So much so that he’s beginning to fall in love with his correspondent. So when he returns from the war, determined to claim the woman he loves, he’s confused as to why he feels nothing for Pru and so much for Beatrix. But who really is his letter writing love and what will he do when he finds out he’s been duped?

This is the last in the Hathaway series of books following Mine Till Midnight, Seduce Me At Sunrise, Tempt Me At Twilight and Married By Morning. As with the other Hathaway books, you could easily read this book as a stand alone but you’re more likely to understand the characters and the history of the family if you’ve read the other books before reading this one.

The first half of this book was an absolute delight. The story was fast paced, exciting with so much tension and potential conflict – I could not put the book down as the story had me hooked. And then it just seemed to peter out. The story slowed as it seemed to shift to a more character driven storyline. It wasn’t bad but after such an exciting start, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. The story picked up right before the end and it was nicely concluded which is always a good thing!

I loved both Beatrix and Christopher. Beatrix is such a free spirit and smart too and I really liked and could identify with her. Christopher is a handsome soldier who is haunted by his past and could really do with the love of a good woman making him the perfect partner for Beatrix. The pair had good chemistry and I liked reading about them as a couple. Despite Christopher’s problems in the aftermath of the war, the book never got bogged down in  gory or depressing war detail.

The other Hathaway’s appear in the book, but for a last book in the series, perhaps not as much as I had hoped.

And, surprisingly for Lisa Kleypas, there were a couple of Americanisms that cropped up throughout the book which annoyed me a little as they pull you from the story.

Overall, this is an enjoyable book that despite a few flaws, is still a good read and a really good end to what has been an excellent series. If you’re a fan of Lisa Kleypas, the Hathaway series or just fancy a romantic, Victorian read then I would recommend this book to you. 4 stars.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Dante's Stolen Wife by Day LeClaire

Likeable, readable romance
3 Stars

The Inferno, if you believe in it, is the all-consuming desire that touches the members of the Dante family just once in a lifetime. Millionaire Marco Dante feels its effect the moment he sets eyes on Caitlyn Vaughn. Nothing will stop him making her his own - not even her engagement to his twin brother.

Posing as his twin and sneaking Caitlyn away for a quickie wedding and luxurious honeymoon is bliss for Marco, but he still has to deal with his bride when she discovers his masquerade and hope to turn her blazing fury into a love that can last a lifetime.

From what I can tell, this is the second book in the Dante Legacy series following Dante’s Blackmailed Bride and followed by Dante’s Wedding Deception, Dante’s Contract Marriage, Dante’s Ultimate Gamble, Dante’s Temporary Fiancee and Dante’s Marriage Pact. Although it was fairly easy to read this as a standalone, the author clearly wants you to have read the first in the series and presumably read the rest.

The characters are likeable but fairly bland and the emotion was talked about and demonstrated but I didn’t really feel it. There was a very little sensuality but the focus was more on the romance than the sex.

The storyline was also likeable enough and while I could get behind the concept of ‘the inferno’, I couldn’t really understand the conflict as it seemed so flimsy and, if I’m honest, a little ridiculous.

Having said all that, this was a likeable enough read and I had no problems finishing the book. If you enjoy Day Leclaire’s writing, are following the Dante’s or just want to read a pleasant romance then I would recommend this book to you. 3 stars.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Take on Me by Sarah Mayberry

Fun romance with plenty of spark
5 Stars

On prom night, bad boy Dylan Anderson caused the biggest humiliation of Sadie Post’s life. Getting over her crush on him took a few years, but now she’s grown up, moved on and is now a successful writer for an award winning soap. She’s forgotten all about him. Until he gets a job in her workplace and it’s like high school all over again – complete with lustful thoughts.

But she’s his boss now and naughty thoughts are off limits especially since she’s determined to have the upper hand. Too bad that the electricity between the pair is sparking so much that the pair are bound to end up hitting the nearest desk pretty soon. Dylan is better than she ever imagined and she’s determined to have him begging for more. But the best laid plans…

I’ve had this book on my shelf for ages and now that I’ve read it I can’t believe I didn’t read it sooner. This is the first in a trilogy of books about the goings on behind the scenes of daytime tv soaps. After this story are xx and xx, both also written by Sarah Mayberry,

This particular story gripped me from the start as I always like a couple who mask sexual tension behind a mask of dislike coupled with a good dose of banter. Sadie and Dylan rubbed each other the wrong way which leads to some excellent chemistry between the lead characters and a story that I didn’t want to put down.

The conflict works well because it isn’t drawn out and has many layers making it a book that keeps you guessing on the way to the happily ever after. The writing is fresh and witty and the sex scenes scorch the page with their heat.

If you’re looking for a fun romance with plenty of spark then I would definitely recommend this to you.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Tutor by Hope Tarr

Romance with no spark
2 Stars

Lady Beatrice Lindsey has just become engaged to a very respectable, if somewhat dull man. She knows that if she wants to have any sort of joy in her marriage bed then she’s going to have to be the one to take the lead. If only she knew what to do.

Sexy rogue, Ralph Sylvester, knows that Bea is too far above his station to bother about him. But when she requests that he teaches her the basics of love-making he can’t help but agree. But he has one condition – for the next seven days and seven nights Bea must submit to him and no pleasure will be off-limits. But what happens when the week is over?

Set in Scotland in 1891, this is the follow on from a trilogy of books by Hope Tarr (Vanquished, Enslaved and Untamed) – a fact I wasn’t aware of when I bought the book. Although I suppose this book can stand alone, I think those people who have read the previous books (or at the least Untamed) will have had a much better understanding of the characters and back stories. As it was, I felt I had started to read in the middle of a story and my lack of knowledge about the characters made them lack chemistry and depth.

Although the story was primarily set in Scotland, luckily only one character was written with a “Scottish accent” which was a blessing because the accent bore no resemblance to the way anyone in any part of Scotland actually speaks and was entirely too cringe-worthy to be taken seriously.

When I read a Blaze novel I’m looking for a blend of romance, love and steamy sex. This one had the sex in spades but it didn’t achieve the other two to any satisfying degree which, in my opinion, made the sex a little too emotionless and sordid.

The whole story lacked depth and, while the writing was fairly engaging, it felt that we never really got to know the characters, making them hard to know and root for. Both Bea and Ralph could have been really engaging but it was never pulled off.

I really was looking forward to this story but in the end I was left extremely disappointed. I’m not sure if it was because it was a sequel and I hadn’t read the previous books but the book just didn’t have any spark for me. 2 stars.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

A rich and satisfying romance
5 Stars

Catherine Marks has spent the last few years carefully instructing the Hathaway sisters in the finer points of being a lady. As their paid companion, she really enoys her job and it would be perfect, if not for her charges’ older brother – the thoroughly exasperating Leo Hathaway. The pair bicker like cats and dogs but when one quarrel ends in a kiss, everything changes, especially when Leo makes a dangerous proposition.

Leo must marry and produce an heir within the year or he’ll lose his family home. Despite her respectable demeanour, Catherine hides a secret that could destroy her and take the Hathaway’s with her. But Leo is sure that Cat holds the key to his dilemma and can’t help but find her intriguing and infernally tempting. But with Leo determined never to love again and Cat determined to keep her secrets, will the pair ever see eye to eye and realise that they may be perfect for each other?

This is the fourth book in the Hathaway series (after Mine Till Midnight, Seduce Me at Sunrise, Tempt Me at Twilight and before Love in the Afternoon). While I’m sure you could read this book as a stand alone, I honestly think it’ll make more sense and you’ll understand the characters and their back stories more if you’ve read the rest of the Hathaway series before you read this book.

I love a couple that bicker and have been looking forward to Cat and Leo’s story for some time. While it didn’t completely blow me away, it didn’t disappoint either and I liked the way the pair continued their banter even after their relationship changed into something more.

Both characters were rich, interesting and never descended into stereotypes. With the past history of Leo, it would have been easy to take the story to the obvious conflict but I liked the way that the conflict was a little less obvious and therefore more real. It was also lovely to see the other characters from the previous books with Poppy and Harry taking up most of the cameos.

The writing was excellent, the story kept me hooked and I didn’t want to put the book down. It’s probably not the best Lisa Kleypas I have ever read but I’m still giving this 5 stars as it was so enjoyable that I can’t fault it. I would recommend this to fans of the Hathaways’ or those who like a rich, satisfying romance.

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

Sweet, uncomplicated romance
4 stars

Daisy Flattery is in a bit of a bind – her paintings aren’t selling, she’s just adopted another stray pet and she really needs a bit of money to pay her rent. That’s the only reason she can think of to say yes to her uptight, straight-laced neighbour’s crazy scheme.

Linc Blaise needs a fiancée in order to land his dream job and while free spirited Daisy may not be his ideal woman, she’s perfect to play the role. But what happens when you start to enjoy your roles a little too much and when does it stop becoming fake and start becoming happily ever after?

This was a sweet, uncomplicated story that was first published in 1996 although it ages well and never feels dated. Both Linc and Daisy are interesting, well developed characters that are the furthest thing from stereotypical. They work well together, have good chemistry and develop well together, going from mutual dislike right through to love.

The story is fun, far fetched but still believable and really keeps you interested and keeps the pages turning. It’s definitely a light and frothy book that’s perfect for a quiet afternoon’s read. It’s not as witty or as sexy as some of her later books but it’s still worth a read if you’re looking for a bit of romance.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean

Adorable, entertaining romance
5 stars

At the ripe old age of 28, Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is firmly on the shelf. Relegated to the spinster seating at every ball and on the fringes on society, Callie is a little more than unsatisfied by her lot. So she vows to make a change in her life and do all the things that she’s always wanted to do even if she has to break society’s rules to do it.

But stealing a midnight kiss, smoking a cheroot, learning to fence and drinking in a tavern aren’t as easy to achieve without a willing partner. And willing or not, the handsome rake Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, soon finds himself caught up in Callie’s adventures.

I absolutely adored this book and it’s definitely one of the best that I’ve read in a long time. Gabriel is a delicious rake but he’s such a rich character and it’s so entertaining to see him almost baffled by his growing feelings towards Callie. Callie herself was such a refreshing heroine. She was so endearing and likeable that I felt really engaged with her and really rooted for her. Together the pair had the kind of chemistry that gives you butterflies in your stomach and makes you think about the story even when you’re not reading.

The plot itself was witty, clever and so entertaining. Despite Callie undertaking scandalous tasks, the book never got ridiculous and you always cheered for Callie. There were times when I laughed out loud, times when I felt Callie’s pain and times when I was almost giddy at the sweetness of the romance between Callie and Gabriel. There were also no clichés and the secondary characters were as rich and full as the main pair but without ever overshadowing the actual love story. Gabriel’s twin brother, Nick, gets his own story in the next book Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord. I’m hoping that other characters that appear in this book also get their own stories in the future.

Overall this is a book that leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s so well written and so engaging that you’re sure to enjoy it and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good romance. I will definitely be looking out for any new stories written by Sarah McLean. 5 stars.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Rock My Socks Off by Jeremy Edwards

Slightly boring, standard erotica
2 Stars

Writer Jacob Hastings is finding that his dreams of a glittering career are hard to come by. But when he meets Normandie Stephens at a party he feels he might just have met the one woman who can take his mind off his work and rock his socks off.

I’ve recently read an anthology that included a story by Jeremy Edwards that I didn’t particularly care for so I was apprehensive when I started to read this full length novel.

I have never actually read any erotica that’s written by a man before so I was interested to see whether his writing style and descriptions was more geared towards a male or female audience. In the end I’m not sure what the answer is because I certainly didn’t enjoy this story and I didn’t find the sex particularly enjoyable either but I’m really not sure whether men would either.

The characters and situations in the story were a strange mix of the complete ordinary and the absolute fantastical. The same went for the language throughout the book which was at times flowery and over the top and at other times frank and crude.

Not surprisingly, the book was littered with sex but each encounter lasted about a paragraph and I was left wondering whether there’d ever be a satisfying scene. At times the sex felt more sordid than titillating and it felt a little seedy rather than something to enjoy and turn you on.

It sounds a little clichéd with regards to erotica but there really wasn’t much plot to go with all the sex and I really would have preferred both! If you’re looking for some good erotica that’s at least got a little plot then I would try any Black Lace or Cheek book which are more likely to be satisfying reads in many respects. For this offering, I’m sorry to say that I was a little bored and pretty unaffected as a whole. 2 stars.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Promise of Pleasure by Cheryl Holt

Entertaining and satisfying Regency romance
4 Stars

Mary Barnes has had enough of being unwanted and unloved by her cruel stepmother and half sisters. All she wants to do is escape her life and find love and happiness. So when a mysterious peddler offers her a magic elixir to make the man of her dreams fall in love with her, she jumps at the chance.

Jordan Winthrop, the heir to the Earl of Sunderland, is debauched, bankrupt and handsome to boot. When he comes to Barnes Manor to marry Mary’s half sister, he finds himself instead lusting after Mary. But is it real or is it the potion? And what will Jordan do when he realises he must make a choice between money and the woman he’s beginning to think he might never want to let go?

You can always count on Cheryl Holt to deliver a satisfying read. This novel sticks to her tried and true theme of impoverished/put upon lady who gets tangled up with a cynical, jaded lord leading to love but not before seemingly insurmountable obstacles are dealt with.

I felt that this novel had more emotion and angst than is usual for Holt but that’s not a bad thing at all. Jordan was your typical dissolute, cynical scoundrel but his panic and confusion at finding himself falling in love were a delight to read. Mary was also a well-drawn out character although I would have liked to see more of her feelings rather than just let us believe she had all of a sudden fallen in love. The other characters were horrible and lovely as required yet none of them felt stereotypical, each adding something to the story.

As this is billed as an erotic love story there’s a fair amount of steamy sex but even then, I didn’t find it as hot as Holt’s previous books.

We also have a secondary love story which I liked very much and, as another reviewer stated, didn’t overshadow the main story at all.

There are a fair amount of Americanisms in the text and at times the characters speak in too modern a manner to be truly indicative of the Regency times. But if you’re looking for some escapism and want a fun, entertaining read then I would definitely recommend this book to you. 4 stars.

(This book is the first in the Spinster’s Cure trilogy that includes Taste of Temptation and Dreams of Desire.)

Monday, 7 June 2010

Sex, Love and Valentines

Fun for a quick thrill
3 Stars

This is a collection of 20 erotic stories compiled for Valentine’s Day and each of the stories revolve around the day. This is an Xcite book so you get a range of authors, both male and female, giving you a whole different range of erotic tales including some girl on girl stuff and one gay story.

Firstly, I have to say that I wasn’t impressed with the cover. The girl licking the lollipop was just too pre-pubescent schoolboy fantasy for me to take it seriously and it certainly didn’t excite or titillate me as I’m assuming it was supposed to!

The book contains 20 stories most of which are about 10 pages in length which is perfect for a quick read when the mood strikes. Having said that, at times it was like you were just getting a taste of the story and then it would end just when the going got good.

I’ll admit that the stories (or at least most of them) were exciting in their own way, but for me, I prefer erotic stories with a little bit more fantasy and romance. Some of the stories in this collection were very real-life, realistic and felt more like seedy one night stands.

I’m going to give this collection 3 stars because although there were some really enjoyable and well-written stories (Dr. Charm, Shot to the Heart and Neighbours were my particular favourites), the good stories were outnumbered by the pointless, sordid and at times downright terrible stories in the bunch.

Still, for a quick thrill and for the price then you’re bound to find at least one story in this collection that tickles your fancy.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Viking's Woman by Heather Graham

Enchanting and exciting Viking romance
5 stars

King Alfred’s cousin Rhiannon is lauded for her great beauty and wonderful spirit. But she has none of her warmth to share with any Viking, especially those who invade her lands and kill her kin.

So she is enraged when as a token of peace she is offered to the golden Viking Eric. Despite his strength and masculinity, Rhiannon vows to never submit to the man. But as the pair fight against each other, neither are prepared for what their destinies hold or for the danger that lurks just around the corner.

I wanted a change of scenery from my usual Regency historicals so decided to read a Viking adventure. And what an adventure. You are really drawn into the world of the Viking’s as the story of Eric and Rhiannon comes alive.

Rhiannon and Eric fight like cats and dogs but both are such rich, interesting and deep characters that you can’t help but fall for them and enjoy their tale as you read. The book isn’t overly sexy but rather nicely sensual and the characters have a great chemistry.

The plot is also well done and this is one of the few books I have read recently where I couldn’t bear to put it down and was thinking about the story and characters when I wasn’t able to read. It’s also a read you can really get your teeth into and comes out at nearly 470 pages long.

This is the middle of a trilogy of Viking stories from Heather Graham (after Golden Surrender and before Lord of the Wolves) and I am now very keen to read the other books in the series. If you’re looking for a rich story about love in the time of the Vikings then you really can’t go wrong with this book. 5 stars.