Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Monday, November 28, 2016

Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane, Book 11
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance Duke of Pleasure Cover
ISBN: 9781455539123
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Elizabeth Hoyt Reading Order

IN THE ARMS OF DANGER
Bold. Brave. Brutally handsome. Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, is the king's secret weapon. Sent to defeat the notorious Lords of Chaos, he is ambushed in a London alley-and rescued by an unlikely ally: a masked stranger with the unmistakable curves of a woman.

IN THE HEAT OF DESIRE
Cocky. Clever. Courageously independent. Alf has survived on the perilous streets of St. Giles by disguising her sex. By day she is a boy, dealing in information and secrets. By night she's the notorious Ghost of St. Giles, a masked vigilante. But as she saves Hugh from assassins, she finds herself succumbing to temptation…

ONE KISS WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER
When Hugh hires Alf to investigate the Lords of Chaos, her worlds collide. Once Hugh realizes that the boy and the Ghost are the same, will Alf find the courage to become the woman she needs to be-before the Lords of Chaos destroy them both?

Whenever I start an Elizabeth Hoyt book, I know I’m in for an addictive read with refreshingly original characters and Duke of Pleasure does not disappoint. Alf and Hugh’s story is exciting, sexy, and wonderfully unique.

Alf is one of Ms. Hoyt’s most unconventional heroines yet. Raised in the slums of St. Giles, she’s lived her entire life disguised as a boy, for both safety and survival. By day, she’s a teenage boy informant, one who has charmed me throughout a number of books over the course of the series. By night, Alf becomes the masked harlequin known as the Ghost of St. Giles, leaping over rooftops and protecting those in parts of London the law turns a blind eye to. It’s a precarious existence, and the necessity of constantly living in disguise is starting to wear on her. I loved Alf’s spirit, her exuberance when she’s high above the streets of London and her sauciness when she matches wits with Hugh. Her life has been a hard one and my heart broke for her when she allowed herself a few moments of vulnerability. Alf is an intriguing mix of cunning and kindness and one of my favorite things about this story is watching her take her chance at coming fully into her own.

No ordinary hero would be a match for Alf, which is why it’s a good thing Hugh is no ordinary duke. He’s the illegitimate son of the king and has spent a good number of years in service to the crown. His latest task – to take down the Lords of Chaos – nearly kills him and leaves his young sons orphaned when the Ghost of St. Giles swoops down to save him…before she kisses him. I loved that Hugh never looked down on Alf, that he treated her as an equal and appreciated her talents, even before he knew her full identity. It was a treat to watch Hugh come to know Alf as both the street urchin and the sensual masked hero. The dynamic between them in both instances is fantastic and their relationship evolved in a gracefully natural manner. Their love story is vibrant, sexy, and quite simply fun to read. I hated to put the book down because I was so enchanted watching them both find the love and acceptance they deserved.

The Lords of Chaos plot adds a dose of intrigue and danger to Duke of Pleasure, rounding out the story extremely well. The Lords of Chaos were first delved into in depth in the previous Maiden Lane book, Duke of Sin. You don’t have to have read that story to follow the events of this book (provided you don’t mind minor spoilers), though you would be missing out on a fantastic tale. I’m looking forward to seeing where this plotline goes next in Duke of Desire, as it’s clear the hero and heroine of that book (who you’ll get to know in this one) will be facing off against these villains as well.

The Maiden Lane series has been a stand-out historical romance series from the very first book, and Duke of Pleasure shows exactly why I find Ms. Hoyt’s world so engaging. The characters are unique, impeccably-drawn, and compelling, the romance is exciting and sensual, and the world comes alive on the page. I loved Duke of Pleasure and I can’t wait to read the next Maiden Lane story!


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: The Sinful Suitors, Book 1.5
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Historical Romance The Heiress and the Hothead Cover
ISBN: 9781501147524
Re-Release Date: November 28, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Sabrina Jeffries Reading Order

Return to the beloved Sinful Suitors series from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries in this delightfully sexy winter-themed novella!

Stunned by the heat of an unexpected kiss on a cold winter’s eve, two strangers from vastly different worlds turn hotheaded principles into burning passion in Sabrina Jeffries’s charming yuletide story, The Heiress and the Hothead.

Sparks fly when an English journalist hell-bent on mill reformation meets a spirited American mill owner in The Heiress and the Hothead. I’ve been waiting for Amanda and Stephen’s story ever since Sabrina Jeffries teased their attraction in The Art of Sinning and I wasn’t disappointed.

Amanda and Stephen are immensely likeably characters, and they’re both a bit unusual given the time period. Amanda is not your typical heiress, but rather an American mill owner. While visiting her brother in England, she’s determined to learn from English mill owners and find ways to improve her mill back home. Stephen, in turn, is the younger brother of a marquess and not at all the typical young lord. He’s a reporter determined to rattle cages and demand better and safer conditions for mill workers, and his passion for change makes him an endearing hero. He and Amanda have excellent chemistry and fit one another perfectly, but years of seeing mill owners abuse their power makes Stephen a bit too focused on his work and his cynical view of mill owners threatens to blind him to the fact that Amanda clearly isn’t like the men he reports on. Their passionate back-and-forth makes the pages of their story fly by, and I had no doubt that Ms. Jeffries would give these two a satisfying happily ever after.

The Heiress and the Hothead is part of the Sinful Suitors series, but can easily be read as a standlone. That being said, if you’re new to the series the supporting cast is sure to make you want to read their books – they’re just that intriguing. A vibrant hero and heroine who want to make the world better would be enough to make this story compelling, but Ms. Jeffries also weaves in interesting holiday traditions of the era. Add in a dash of sensual holiday cheer and this is one Christmastime romance that can be enjoyed all year long.


Note: The Heiress and the Hothead was originally published in the What Happens Under the Mistletoe anthology.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: School Ties by Tamsen Parker

Saturday, November 26, 2016

School Ties by Tamsen Parker
Publisher: InterMix
Genre: Erotic Contemporary BDSM Romance School Ties Cover
ISBN: 9780399584343
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Erin Brewster is nervous enough on her first day of teaching at Hawthorn Hill. But the way Zach Shepherd looks at her with his dark and dreamy blue eyes really throws her off her game. He simply has to walk past her to send her heart racing. Although he’s eighteen and a senior, he’s still just a student—and very off limits. To let her eyes linger over his body, to fulfill her fantasies would be more than inappropriate. It would be career suicide.

Three years after his graduation from Hawthorn, Shep has returned as a member of the faculty—and he hasn’t forgotten his favorite teacher, the prettiest woman he’s ever seen. When they finally have a chance to get to know each other, they realize they share a common interest: kink. In fact, Shep has learned a lot about the subject during his time away and is ready to teach Erin a thing or two. He’ll soon have her begging to be held after class.

As their relationship comes under scrutiny, the ties that bind Shep and Erin may begin to fray. But some bonds grow stronger under pressure...

School Ties is a story I went back and forth on multiple times, making it a bit difficult to review. My indecisiveness on rating this book comes down to the fact that it’s a story broken into two distinct parts, one which I adored and one that my emotional reaction to was “meh.”

The first part of School Ties is simply fantastic. Tamsen Parker weaves an emotional journey, complete with forbidden longing, interesting characters, and a well-developed foundation for a future romance. Erin is a teacher fresh out of college when she starts working at Hawthorn Hill. She’s bright, enthusiastic, and just young enough emotionally that she’s taken advantage of and forced to face true heartbreak. As for Shep, he may only be eighteen years old and her student, but it’s been a hard eighteen years that has made him mature beyond his age. He’s smart, studious, a complete sweetheart, and protective to the core, making him easy to adore. He and Erin aren’t too far apart on the maturity spectrum when the story begins, but there are definitely still boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed and keep their relationship from ever going beyond the platonic.

It’s important for me to stop and note that everything is above-board when Erin and Shep are student and teacher. Though each of them suffers emotional angst, no lines are crossed. What we get is a gripping, tension-filled story that plays out over the course of their day-to-day lives. It’s a story of two people falling in love in a situation where they cannot and should not ever have a fully-realized relationship. I loved watching this journey and my heart broke for Shep and Erin more than once. In the first part of the story they are rich, dynamic characters and I was rooting for them to get the happily ever after they so deserved in the second part of the tale.

It’s in the second half of the story – where Shep returns to Hawthorn Hill, this time as a teacher – that things fell apart for me. Erin went from a heroine with personality to a rather limp noodle heroine who cried a lot. Shep, in turn, went from an interesting young man to a rather unmemorable Dom, and both of them felt a lot less mature than they did in the first half of the story. The mild BDSM elements felt forced and there was a blandness to their overall romance that left me disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the second part of the book isn’t bad; I just wanted more emotion, character growth, and passion that felt organic to the tale. But after such a great build up in the first part of the story, a rather lackluster second half left me more disappointed than if I’d been indifferent to the characters all along. School Ties may not have been all that I hoped for in the end, but I enjoyed the first half of the story so much that I’ll definitely be reading more of Ms. Parker’s work.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Hard Compromise by Samanthe Beck

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hard Compromise by Samanthe Beck
Series: Compromise Me, Book 2
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance Hard Compromise Cover
ISBN: 9781633756656
Release Date: November 21, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

His barely-decent proposal is too tempting to resist…

Laurie Peterson assumes her impulsive one-night stand with sinfully sexy Sheriff Ethan Booker is the biggest surprise of the year…until her bakery burns down while she’s basking in the afterglow. It looks like her dreams are up in smoke, but then Ethan proposes a deal too tempting to resist.

Ethan has no intention of settling for a one-night stand with Laurie. Nor does he want anything to do with the women his wealthy family wants him to meet. Not when he’s waited ten years for his chance to make his move. His deal might have strings—and Laurie may not know the stakes—but nothing will stop this sexy cop from staking a real claim on her body and her heart.

Explosively hot passion meets a wealth of emotion in Hard Compromise. Samanthe Beck knows how to deliver captivating characters and red hot romance, and this second Compromise Me book has both in spades.

Ms. Beck writes some of the best heroes and Ethan Booker is a dream. He’s protective, caring, and knock-your-socks-off sexy. Despite having every advantage growing up, Booker has worked his way up to become sheriff. A supremely hot man with a heart of gold who is also a hard worker? I defy anyone not to fall for Booker. He may not be perfect, but he’s definitely the perfect hero you can root for. His Achilles heel has always been Laurie. He’s wanted her for years and the time has finally come for him to make his move. And when he does… Well, Ms. Beck cranks the heat up like you wouldn’t believe. But getting Laurie to give him a shot in the sheets isn’t Booker’s biggest problem. It’s getting her to trust him, to rely on him, and let down her guard that’s the true challenge.

Laurie is a heroine who grabbed my heart from the first. She grew up in a horrible situation, and though she has worked hard and become a successful baker and business owner in her own right, there’s still a large part of her that is trapped in the past. The invisible scars she carries have never been allowed to heal, which is one of the reasons she’s long resisted Booker. It’s clear that the two of them are great together, but their coming from such wildly different places makes Laurie fear she can never fit in to Booker’s life. Her vulnerability broke my heart and her fears made her make mistakes with Booker. When they aren’t giving into their mutual desire for one another their relationship is a rocky one. But Ms. Beck makes every bump in the road worth it, and I loved watching Laurie come into her own as she and Booker fall in love.

Hard Compromise is the second story in the Compromise Me series, but you don’t have to have read Compromising Her Position in order to enjoy it. However, if you hate spoilers there are some very minor ones from the first book, as Chelsea (the heroine) is Laurie’s best friend. All in all I adored Hard Compromise. It’s a fast-paced, engaging read with two strong leads I found impossible not to root for and a number of secondary characters that add humor and heart to the tale. I hope there are more Compromise Me books in the future, because I’m not ready to say good-bye to these fantastic characters.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh

Monday, October 31, 2016

Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter, Book 9
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Archangels Heart Cover
ISBN: 9780451488008
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Nalini Singh Reading Order

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.

Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…

Nothing will ever be the same again.

Archangel’s Heart is a quiet, intense read that’s different – but no less interesting – than the powerful thrills of the previous Guild Hunter books. It’s been two years since the events of Archangel’s Enigma and the dangerous tide of power that is the Cascade has been put on pause. Everyone is in a holding pattern, and it’s putting angels, vampires, and hunters alike on edge. With tension at a breaking point, it’s almost a blessing when Raphael is summoned by the Luminata, an ancient order of angels who operate mostly outside angelic law. The Luminata have called the Cadre together to determine what to do about the archangel Lijuan’s territory. So it is that Raphael and Elena travel to the Luminata compound in Morocco, where soon they’re faced with the task of uncovering dangerous secrets that could forever change their world. Magic and mystery go hand-in-hand in this story as Elena searches for answers about her family history. The Luminata may hold the answers to Elena’s questions, but there’s something deeply wrong with these angels, and I loved watching Elena, Raphael, and their friends put the pieces of the puzzle together. What lies at the heart of Luminata I won’t say, but it is a mystery that leads to many small, intimate developments that carry great emotional weight for the characters we know and love.

There are a lot of reasons to love the Guild Hunter’s series, from Nalini Singh’s gorgeous writing to her incredible world building and more, but what makes this series special to me is the characters. In Archangel’s Heart the characters we’ve come to know and love continue to strengthen and evolve in beautiful ways. Elena and Raphael are the heart of the book and I loved seeing how they have grown as a couple. They’ve settled into their relationship and remain a dynamic couple that fit each other like lock and key. The story also allows other characters a chance to shine and I adored getting to know more about the other archangels and those who have accompanied them to Morocco. The Cadre is a powerful group and each member is both terrifying and impossibly alluring. Who knew watching angelic politics play out could be so compelling?

The strongest supporting role in this book is Aodhan – once the most withdrawn member of Raphael’s Seven – who joins Elena and Raphael on their journey. I’ll admit right up front that Aodhan is one of my two favorite characters in the series (the other being Illium), so I devoured every bit of new information about him. His past – even the glimpses of it we’re given in this story – is heartbreaking, but watching him slowly come back to life tugged on my heartstrings like you wouldn’t believe. Aodhan is quite simply a gorgeously-drawn character and the all-too-brief moments between he and Illium seethed with such intensity I had to stop and re-read them multiple times before continuing the rest of the book. There’s been much debate on whether or not Ms. Singh will romantically pair up Aodhan and Illium, and though I usually keep my ships out of reviews I will say that I’m firmly in the camp that hopes they will end up being each other’s happily ever after. There is such rich chemistry between the two that I find myself utterly enthralled whenever they share the page.

Archangel’s Heart is in many ways a bridge book that sets the stage for the action to come. It’s the calm before the storm (relatively speaking), but that doesn’t mean the story won’t engage you. Ms. Singh’s writing is top-notch, her characters unforgettable, and I finished Archangel’s Heart incredibly eager to read the next Guild Hunter novel.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier
Series: Blackthorn & Grim, Book 3
Publisher: Roc
Genre: Fantasy Den of Wolves Cover
ISBN: 9780451467034
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Healer Blackthorn knows all too well the rules of her bond to the fey: seek no vengeance, help any who ask, do only good. But after the recent ordeal she and her companion, Grim, have suffered, she knows she cannot let go of her quest to bring justice to the man who ruined her life.

Despite her personal struggles, Blackthorn agrees to help the princess of Dalriada in taking care of a troubled young girl who has recently been brought to court, while Grim is sent to the girl’s home at Wolf Glen to aid her wealthy father with a strange task—repairing a broken-down house deep in the woods. It doesn’t take Grim long to realize that everything in Wolf Glen is not as it seems—the place is full of perilous secrets and deadly lies…

Back at Winterfalls, the evil touch of Blackthorn’s sworn enemy reopens old wounds and fuels her long-simmering passion for justice. With danger on two fronts, Blackthorn and Grim are faced with a heartbreaking choice—to stand once again by each other’s side or to fight their battles alone…

Den of Wolves is utterly enchanting. It features mystery, magic light and dark, hard choices, friendship, love, risk, reward, and a satisfying resolution to several series-long storylines.

Blackthorn and Grim are no strangers to the machinations of the fey, and this time they’re faced with a case of a strange young woman, a ruined house with the potential for magic, and a mysterious wild man who may be the key to solving the mystery of what’s wrong in Wolf Glen. To talk much about the story’s main case would be to spoil it. I will say that I loved the magical elements, how Juliet Marillier weaves different plot threads together into a compelling tapestry, and how everything comes together is incredibly satisfying. Blackthorn and Grim are forced to spend a lot of the book apart, which makes it all the more difficult for them, but it also gives them time to come to terms with their changing relationship. As much as I liked the Wolf Glen plotline, what really made Den of Wolves special to me was the continuing evolution of the two central characters.

Blackthorn is one of my favorite fantasy heroines. She has a strong will, is rough around the edges, and is as likely to snap at somebody as hold her tongue. But she’s also giving, caring, and possesses an inner warmth that hasn’t been snuffed out, even in the face of all that she’s suffered and survived. Blackthorn has been tortured physically and emotionally in unimaginable ways, but she still stands strong and fights for what’s right. Her thirst for justice has threatened to be her undoing more than once over the course of the series, and she has some hard choices to make in Den of Wolves. I have loved watching her develop as a character over the course of the series and this is the story that will make or break her.

If Blackthorn is the soul of the story, then Grim is its heart. The big-hearted man who is more than he sees himself to be grabbed my heart from the first Blackthorn & Grim novel, Dreamer’s Pool. Grim is a kind, honest man who would protect a stranger from harm, even at great cost to himself. He’s been through hell as well and has faced his demons, coming out all the stronger, though it’s a heartbreaking struggle for him still, especially when he doesn’t have Blackthorn by his side. He’s Blackthorn’s rock, and finally we get to see him take a brave step and risk changing their relationship. It’s clear Grim is in love with Blackthorn and has been for some time, but she’s got her walls up so high that for a long time she hasn’t been able to see what’s right in front of her when it comes to Grim. Whether or not the two friends become something more is a question that’s been hanging over readers’ heads for the entire series, and the answer is beautifully delivered in this tale.

Den of Wolves is the third book in the Blackthorn & Grim series, and I’d recommend reading Dreamer’s Pool and Tower of Thornes before diving into this story. The threat of Mathuin of Laois and Blackthorn’s deal with Conmael are more important than ever. Ms. Marillier has a lot to juggle in this story, but she does so with such ease and fluidity that I could not help but be enthralled. Den of Wolves may or may not be the final book in the Blackthorn & Grim series, and though I definitely want more, this is a wonderfully satisfying conclusion. Ms. Marillier has a deft hand with myth and magic, but it’s her characters who really make this series shine. I absolutely love Blackthorn and Grim and I cannot wait to revisit them again soon!


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Ruled by Elle Kennedy

Ruled by Elle Kennedy
Series: Outlaws, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Erotic Dystopian Ménage Romance Ruled Cover
ISBN: 9780451474469
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Elle Kennedy Reading Order

Despite his magnetic personality, Rylan can’t seem to seduce Reese, the deadly leader of their town of outlaws. Winning her over is a welcome challenge, but her indifference isn’t the only thing standing in his way. If he wants Reese, Rylan must also win over Sloan, her stoic protector…

Sloan has always loved Reese, but their painful past has stolen his chances of a future with her. Rylan’s interest in Reese only intensifies the tension—until Sloan begins to wonder if the reckless man might be the one person who can bridge the distance…

The last time Reese fell for the wrong man, she had no choice but to kill him. Now, she desperately wants to take what both Rylan and Sloan are offering. But if she makes the wrong call again, she risks losing them both.

Elle Kennedy’s Outlaws series is raw, edgy, and seriously hot. In the increasingly dangerous world of the outlaws, the tension is high, passions run hot, and – in Ruled – three people who face death on a daily basis will have to be brave enough to risk their hearts for a chance at happiness in a world on the brink of war.

Reese is the queen of the outlaws; a strong, brave woman with a generous heart and a thirst for vengeance. She’s out to destroy the Global Council and their Enforcers who keep people under strict control. Anyone who lives outside their rule is an outlaw, and Reese will give everything she has to keep the men, women, and children under her protection free. But the burden she carries as a leader and the weight of the ghosts of her past are slowly crushing her. She’s increasingly tense and worries that the wildness in her will make her lose control, putting everyone at risk. I loved Reese for her incredible strength and quiet vulnerability. She’s a powerful, flawed heroine with a loving heart and invisible scars. It’s easy to root for her, even when she makes mistakes, because she’s such a well-drawn heroine, one who deserves to find happiness with the two men who would stand by her side if she would let them.

And speaking of those two men… Ms. Kennedy writes the best dirty-talking alphas around it’s double the fun in Ruled. Sloan is quiet and serious; Reese’s rock and right-hand man. He’s also head-over-heels in love with her and neither are willing to risk their friendship or dredge up the ghosts of the past by giving into their desire. It takes Rylan to push them both over the edge. Rylan is a cocky risk-taker who can always crack a joke, but to dismiss him as shallow would be a mistake. I’ve been waiting to see Rylan find someone who sees him more than a good friend with incredible skills in the bedroom and he finds not one, but two people to appreciate him for all that he is. As a trio Reese, Sloan, and Rylan are unstoppable. They strengthen one another because they know they can be vulnerable behind closed doors. Each of them learns to lean on the other and even though it’s a rocky road to happily ever after, their growing love for each other makes every bump in the road worth it. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that their chemistry is out-of-this-world erotic – be sure you prepare yourself for a filthy good time ;-)

Romance aside, I loved getting to delve deeper into the world of the Outlaws. It’d be a spoiler to talk too much about the developments that take place in the book, so I’ll leave it by saying that the outlaws’ burgeoning revolution continues to develop in exciting ways. I can’t wait to see what happens next and there are a couple of characters whose stories I am practically salivating for. The Outlaws series is insanely addictive and I finished Ruled both satisfied and hungry for more of this dark, erotic, dystopian world.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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