Wednesday, June 25, 2014

REVIEW: Homecoming

Upon the death of her grandmother, Ashley returns to sell the family home. There she discovers Matt comfortably ensconced in the guest house, taking care of the family estate.

His love for the architecture and past grandeur of the old mansion tempers Ashley’s memories of neglect and abuse at the hands of the matriarch, and the town. As she and Matt work together, they begin to get the place, and their lives, back in shape.

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RATING:       4 Stars

On the surface, Donna Steele’s ‘Homecoming’ is a very familiar story.  Ashley Winsted, an orphan raised by her disapproving grandmother, returns home after the woman’s death to prepare the family house for sale.  She meets Matt Taylor, whose aunt was the grandmother’s caretaker and who is now interested in fixing up and possibly buying the old house.  They begin to work together on the house, falling in love along the way.

Yes, it’s a very familiar story.  But Sommers weaves a variety of less interesting elements around and through this basic plot, making it very interesting to read.  Ashley, who went to college on hard-earned scholarships, now earns her living as a popular romance writer.  Matt had built a successful cosmopolitan career as a building designer and contractor, only to realize he wasn’t very happy in the city, so he came to this small town to live with his aunt and build a smaller career, working as a laborer remodeling and rebuilding old homes.

The couple starts working on the house together. We get to know more about them, as they learn about each other.  Ashley’s childhood was difficult and unhappy, with her grandmother making sure the girl knew that her illegitimate birth was a disgrace, and she would always be on the outside.  Gradually, as Matt hears of the pain in Ashley’s past, his protective instincts, learned growing up in a solid, supportive family, begin to take over.  And the way her background is revealed is built into the couple’s efforts to fix up the old house, with different emotional experiences woven into discoveries made going through piles of old trash – and also learning about the high value of the antique furniture and ‘dustable’ knick-knacks.  This pulls the reader all the way into the story, loving the characters and hoping for a happy ending.

‘Homecoming’ doesn’t have any tense, suspenseful sub-plots. There are no murder attempts, no shocking violence, drug use or suicide.  But the emotions of the characters are still strong and true; their developing romance is interesting and believable; and all this makes the story very entertaining.  Quite simply, reading this book made me relax and feel good. I believe it deserves 4 stars.

I’m grateful for the free reviewer’s copy I was given.

Reviewed by: Roberta 

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

REVIEW: Tempting Their Racy Shrink

Psychologist Julie Carruthers has had secret fantasies of being spanked for most of her adult life, and they’ve starred Dom Maddox McCree and Detective Sean Brennan. When she becomes involved with both of them, they help her explore her fantasies, and unleash the passionate woman hiding behind her straitlaced image.

Maddox McCree has spent years building up a reputation in Racy, but it’s all a sham. He’s lonely, and he uses his private dungeon as an excuse to hide from his past. Can Julie help him overcome the hurt and betrayal he can’t let go of?

Detective Sean Brennan gave his heart away once and it almost cost him his life. But he can’t resist Julie for long, and willingly shares her with Maddox rather than lose her. When his past catches up with him, he might lose Julie forever to a dangerous enemy out for revenge.

Purchase at Bookstrand


RATING:       5 Stars Top Pick

Tempting Their Racy Shrink is the third book in Tara Rose's Racy Nights Series although I didn't realize that when I picked it up. The two main men in this story jump off the pages and grab you as they work their way into the fantasies of mile mannered psychologist, Julie Carruthers. 

The chemistry is hot in this book doesn't leave you feeling like the entire book is about sex. There is a story here that Ms. Rose tells beautifully. This was my first look at one of Tara's works but it won't be my last. Which is exactly why I didn't just rate this book 5 stars, but also gave it our Top Pick award.  

Reviewed by: CJ

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

REVIEW: By the Sea

Most kids had imaginary friends, but most weren’t like Megan’s friend Niall. There were rules: only at night and only by the sea. She could’ve sworn he was real, but when someone vanishes without a trace, what else can you believe?

All that was seven years ago, buried in the past until Niall shows up in town with his tight swimmer’s body and easy smile. For Megan, just the sight of him is enough to tear open a scar that never fully healed. However, their reunion only elicits more questions. Niall’s keeping secrets, unbelievable ones, and as Megan delves into the supernatural depths of who he really is, she’s sure he’ll vanish again.

Megan’s not stupid—she knows how bad it’ll hurt if she gets involved. The first time Niall disappeared, she never thought she’d recover. But the moment they lock eyes, it’s too late—because Megan will go to any length to see that boy smile.

Available at Amazon or Decadent Publishing


RATING:       4 Stars

Megan has been struggling for years to recover from losing Niall, a very close friend who just disappeared, leaving no sign that he even existed; her therapists worked hard to persuade her that he’d been an imaginary friend.  As she works to support herself as a waitress, living alone in her coastal home town, the loss still haunts her, even if it is buried deep inside.  Until the night she meets Mason, an attractive man who becomes a waiter in the same diner Megan works in, and the wound returns to the surface in a vivid flash.

Mason, you see, is Niall.  Megan is sure of it, but all his return does is drown her in questions, because he’s obviously hiding a lot of secrets.  Megan still can’t resist him, though, and eventually they come together again, Mason admits that he’s Niall.  He explains his mysterious disappearance, and his supernatural existence, after which the couple works together to overcome the enemy who ripped them apart all those years ago.

‘By the Sea’ is a somewhat predictable paranormal romance; it isn’t hard to figure out what Niall’s biggest secret is, but this certainly doesn’t ruin the story.  Megan is a lovely character who grabs the reader’s sympathy from the very beginning, and you want to see how she learns his secrets.  Niall is so nice; you really want things to work out for the couple.  McIntyre also uses several lesser-known legends to boost the paranormal elements.  The end result is a relaxing, enticing read, one of those stories that puts up a temporary wall between the reader and the problems of real life.  I rate ‘By the Sea’ worth 4 stars.

I am grateful for the free reviewer’s copy I was given.

Reviewed by: Roberta 

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Friday, June 13, 2014

REVIEW: Bitten by Darkness

Sienna knows she's different, knows she's missing some essential part of her soul, and she's okay with that until she encounters Jasper. Unfortunately, meeting the love of her life for the first time while he's standing over her wounded best friend in the middle of the woods isn't the most auspicious beginning.

Jasper is dangerous. Alluring. Everything she should fear, especially when she discovers he's out for revenge against the vampire who murdered his brother. Her mother warned Sienna to stay far away from the monsters, but how can she let Jasper face them on his own?

Revenant, vampire, slave—darkness is coming for them. Will evil consume Jasper and Sienna, or will love prevail?

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RATING:  3 Stars
Bitten by Darkness tweaked my interest with its title however it failed to capture me by the end of the third chapter. It is quite a short story. It has all the promise of a great book and I wanted to love it but it just falls short on hooking a reader in. It was not unpleasant reading but I found myself getting bored with it. The story is there, but it needs more development.

Reviewed by: Nikki  
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

REVIEW: Dire Wolves (Anthology)

Blind Spot by Cynthia Sax: Years ago, Pavel lost his eye, three members of his pack and his position as alpha. Can Maggy help him find a reason to live again?

Whiteout by Shelby Morgen: Zan gives John a reason to want to live as a man again. But before he can make that kind of promise, he's got unfinished business to take care of.

Silence by Lena Austin: Noel Miller, a vampire with a few scars of his own, wants to be more than Cam's sign language interpreter. If only the werewolf will let him into his life -- and heart.

White Heat by Shelby Morgen: Heather Grant's got far too much experience working with stubborn males. She figures it would serve both Alphas right if their pride blows their cover. But someone's got to salvage the mission.

Foxed by Sam Cheever: In remote Alaska, Sinopa finds a new love, a new life, and a killer with a grudge.

Purchase from Changeling Press:


RATING:  4 Stars


The authors who have contributed to The Dire Wolves Anthology have created a collection that grabs the reader, takes them on a journey, and ensures some cold showers. Erotic, captivating, and deliciously carnal are how I would describe The Dire Wolves Anthology. It is definitely worth reading, worth adding to one’s reading library, and well worth re-reading. The characters are easy to follow yet  their stories are filled with complications and a Route 66 kind of journey with thrills, some chills, and enough sensual eroticism to keep the adventure going. I loved reading it and can’t wait to see what more comes from these five authors as well as Lena Austin. This collection is not your usual shifter or changeling paranormal romance.

Reviewed by: Nikki 

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

REVIEW: When He Woke

Matt Caynor's whole world turned upside down two years ago when a car accident left his partner, Aaron Mayburn, in a coma. For months he remained vigil by his bedside, hoping for a miracle the doctors told him would never come.

Steve Pierce met Matt three months ago and took an instant liking to him. After a whirlwind romance the two find themselves falling in love and planning for a future together until a phone call comes in from the hospital that changes everything.

When Aaron wakes from his coma, Matt is forced to let go of the man he’s falling in love with to be with the one he thought he’d lost. With each passing day he finds himself walking a tightrope between gratitude and despair, not knowing that he might just be given everything he wants. If only he’s brave enough to take it.



RATING:  5 Stars


I am a big fan of M/M romances.  I like ménage more so than M/M sometimes.  But it is hard to write them and have it work.  Taylor Brooks has made it work, and done it well, with When He Woke.  We initially meet Aaron Mayburn; Matt Caynor’s comatose boyfriend, who wakes after 2 years following a car accident.  Then we meet Matt Caynor and his new boyfriend, Steve Pierce, whom have been dating for about three months as Matt was finally letting go of the man he loved when he gets the call from the hospital.  From here, you have the complicated interweaving of these three lives as they come to grips with two people loving Matt and Matt loving both of them. They all have to make tough decisions, have their trials and angst, and decide what they are going to do about their situation; but, there is a happy ending is in sight.  This is one of the better ménage interactions I’ve seen and I give it a 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed by: Eloreen

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REVIEW: Love's Magic

A female magician, a not so innocent black rabbit, a treasure map, a duke firm in his  convictions, a band of pirates, and romance equals mayhem in the making! Celeste Summers is a self-reliant vegetarian magician, and her sidekick is a mischievous black rabbit named Dexter. It’s the kind of mixture that can get you burned at the stake in 1820.
All Lord Devlin Rutland wants is to see Celeste taken care of as his father instructed, but wedding a girl who may not be dealing a full deck of cards is not easy. Celeste sees opportunity to foil his plans when she comes across a map to a pirate’s treasure, but Devlin is after the same booty. Foolishly, she bargains with a stranger, finds herself double-crossed, at the mercy of pirates, and in need of Devlin's aid. Devlin comes to the rescue, but he has an ethical dilemma. He can ensure that Celeste honors her betrothal to him, or set her free with the treasure and his heart. His only other choice is to persuade her that Love’s Magic is enough to bind them together.

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RATING:       4 Stars

The year is 1820.  Celeste Summers first meets Lord Devlin Rutland, Duke of Doomsbury, when he rescues her from being burned as a witch.  But then he takes her prisoner himself.  Celeste didn’t know that before they died, her father signed a contract with the elder Doomsbury: to keep her safe and well-cared for, Devlin will marry her – whether or not the young woman agrees.


And Celeste does not agree.  She is strong and independent, supporting herself as a magician and healer.  But whether she agrees to the betrothal or not, Devlin’s estate is close to bankruptcy, and supposedly, Celeste possesses one half of a treasure map that could lead him to enough money to save the estate, as well as keeping his father’s promise.  However, his fiancée is strongly determined to stay single – and find the treasure herself.  Celeste persuades a young nobleman to help her escape and, taking her beloved pet rabbit, Dexter, they set sail for Brazil, with Rutland in pursuit.


Many of the elements of this story are very familiar: a family scandal, resentful servants, a large somewhat run-down mansion, a vengeful ghost, a surprise villain, even some bloodthirsty pirates.  But Sheffield built in an original plot point that allows her to use each of these elements in unexpected ways: Celeste is a magician, with a large rabbit who is much more than a stage prop.  This piece of characterization largely lifts ‘Love’s Magic’ above the standard Regency romance.


The book is fun, amusing and easy to read, and I enjoyed it.  The characters develop well, making you want to see how the mystery will be solved, and how the hero and heroine will come together.  Some chase scenes are repetitious; I felt that the ocean-crossing voyages go remarkably fast; and there are some things that feel jarringly out-of-place, like Dexter’s ‘litter pan’ and Celeste being a vegetarian.  I found these things distracting.  Still, I was able to push that aside, and happily finish the book, so I give ‘Love’s Magic’ 4 stars, for being entertaining and fun.


I am grateful for the free review’s copy I was given.

Reviewed by: Roberta 

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REVIEW: Panthers And Precincts: Faxfire Series, Book 1

Meet Zeara—zoologist, crime solver, and crazy cat lady. Throw a literate panther and a sexy detective into the mix and watch the trouble ensue.  
People didn’t just happen to “drop by for a visit” at midnight. Whoever was on the other side of that door either had a good reason, one that she probably didn’t want to hear, or would wish they had once she finished tearing them apart.

Dr. Zeara Faxfire and her side-kick cat, Magic, are on the case when a panther is discovered during a police investigation of a missing boy. The fact the panther can write is only slightly scarier than Zeara's attraction to Detective Markovich. Add a little magic, some mayhem, and scientific proof of the paranormal, and she ends up knee-deep in trouble. Can she find the missing boy, solve the riddle of the panther, and face her own past before time runs out? Or will the only way to give everyone a happy ending come at the expense of the job she loves?

Purchase from Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


RATING:  4 Stars
‘Panthers and Precincts’ treats the reader to a fun paranormal could-be-romance that introduces some nice characters facing an intriguing situation, when police are investigating a puzzling missing person case. A teacher has reported that one of her students is missing, but the boy’s parents deny it.  When the police search their home, they don’t find the boy, or any evidence of anything terrible having happened there.  What they do find, hiding in the basement, is a leopard.
Over the crying pleas of the missing boy’s mother, the police confiscate the leopard, and take it to the city zoo.  Detective Jake Markovich finds himself having to work with the zoo staff, including Zeara Faxfire.  As if this current case wasn’t already strange enough, now he has to deal with this quirky woman, a specialist in big cats, who has also taught her pet cat, Magic, to talk. Really – a limited vocabulary, but Magic talks. 
Zeara, called ‘Z’ by most of her co-workers, finds herself very attracted to Jake, but she tries to fight it off, because since it distracts her from working with the leopard, which consistently acts unlike any other big cat she has ever encountered.  After all, how often can she expect to work with a leopard who sits in a corner and cries, and runs up to her when she pulls out her lunch, to scratch the wood ‘food’ in the dirt?
The biggest mystery in this book is how and when will this couple figure out what the reader already suspects, and what will happen when they do?  And along with that, when will they admit that they’re falling in love with each other?  There are still many surprises along the way, a fair amount of tension, and many interesting secondary characters like Z’s best friend Brae (usually called ‘B’) and an up-and-coming scientist named Zane.  Everything builds up nicely, to conclude with Jake and Z facing a threat that will hopefully lead to more books.
Probably because I’ve been reading paranormal romances for many years now, I found the book predictable in places, but all told, ‘Panthers and Precincts’ was interesting, fun, relaxing – and well worth reading.  I award the book 4 stars.   
I am grateful for the free reviewer’s copy I was given.
Reviewed by: Roberta

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