FIXED ON YOU–A Review for the Cephalopod Coffeehouse August 2014

Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

I never know which book to choose! Just yesterday I posted about a FANTASTIC historical fiction novel–LISETTE’s LIST–about a French woman surviving the Nazi occupation and and endeavoring to keep her family’s art from plundering, and I would highly recommend that one.

I’ve read some fun YA (One Smart Cookie) and M/M Romance (BOUND FOR TROUBLE and Double Up), too. But, I think I’m going to focus on some spicy contemporary romance this month.

Fixed on You (Fixed, #1)I suffered a bit of trepidation picking up Laurelin Paige’s FIXED ON YOU–because I’ve been let down in the wake of 50SOG. See, I read a lot of contemporary erotica. This whole “alpha male” thing gets taken to extremes, and often the Dom/sub stuff is overblown, and rushed. I can’t imagine a sensible woman “submitting” for spankings…etc with a man she’s only just met. Which makes THOSE sort of stories ring hollow and lacking.

Still, I helped with the pub for Paige’s newest release HUDSON, and won a copy of the book. Her Fixed trilogy was on sale, so I dove in. And, I really have enjoyed it. So much so, I’m behind on my reading for my blog, having progressed from book one through to book three in a day….

Here’s what drew me in:
Alayna is a newly graduated MBA working in an NYC nightclub. She has no plans to leave however, because she sees great things for this club, and the manager has promised her a promotion to co-manager. This way she can use her marketing savvy to raise the nightclub’s profile. Only thing? The club has recently been sold, and they have no idea what the new management will be like. Alayna also has a problem with men. Her parents died in a car wreck (caused by her own father’s intoxication) and she suffers severe abandonment issues. To the point that she ends up stalking men she has hooked up with, thinking they’re THE ONE. She has been through therapy since the last episode, three years ago, resulted in a restraining order.

Hudson Pierce is a young, sexy businessman who catches Alayna’a eye–and her job, sortof. He just bought her nightclub and he has some ideas about Alayna’s new role–as his “pretend” girlfriend. See, his parents are rich, manipulative and mean, and they are sure he should marry Celia Werner–a childhood friend and daughter of his mother’s BFF. Hudson has other ideas, and other problems. He’s not a very nice guy–or he wasn’t. He used to manipulate women, get them to fall for him, and then callously break their hearts. It was his fave pass time, in fact, until a couple of years ago. He’s sure he can’t fall in love, but he doesn’t want to marry Celia. He figures if he APPEARS to love Alayna, a smart, beautiful woman, his mom will back off on the Celia-front.

These two misguided, emotionally unstable people, Alayna and Hudson, are the most sexually charged beasts on the planet. Alayna is constantly on guard that she doesn’t FALL for Hudson, double and triple checking her “obsessive” tendencies, while Hudson is riding a very thin line between convincing his family of his “real” affection and convincing himself that he doesn’t love Alayna.

It was a very fun, sexy story, and I’ll admit I immediately opened the second book FOUND IN YOU. I had feared Hudson would get all “whips and chains” but he didn’t. This is a passionate “vanilla” romance. Alayna is a compassionate lead, with very real self-doubt and very approachable emotional frailty. Fun moments included Alayna’s backbone of steel when speaking to Hudson’s ruthless mother for the first time.

“Tell me, Alayna–were you attracted to my son because of his money or his name?”

Pissed didn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I was seething, but still in control. Without skipping a beat, I wrapped my arm around Hudson’s and answered. “Neither. I was attracted to him because he’s hot. Though, I stayed with him because he’s fucking awesome in bed.”

Yeah, I love me a sassy heroine. Anywho, that was my fave book of the month. You can pick up the series ($3.99), or the single book ($2.99), on Goodreads, Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Or maybe even at Target by now…the series is getting pretty popular.

Don’t forget to hop on over to the other blogs listed below. I always get great reading recommendations from these folks! Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

1. The Armchair Squid 2. WOMEN: WE SHALL OVERCOME
3. Stephanie Faris, Author 4. Cherdo on the Flipside
5. StrangePegs — The Graveyard Shift 6. My Creatively Random Life
7. Life Before the Hereafter 8. Stephanie’s Studio
9. V’s Reads 10. A Creatve Exercise
11. Hungry Enough To Eat Six 12. StrangePegs — A Swiftly Tilting Planet
13. Katie @ Read, Write, Repeat 14. Huntress
15. I Think: Therefore, I Yam 16. Words Incorporated

Caught in the Crossfire–LISETTE’S LIST–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m featuring a historical fiction novel from best selling author Susan Vreeland. LISETTE’S LIST is an enchanting story of love, loss, sacrifice and redemption in France before during and after WW II.

About the book:
In 1937, young Lisette Roux and her husband, André, move from Paris to a village in Provence to care for André’s grandfather Pascal. Lisette regrets having to give up her dream of becoming a gallery apprentice and longs for the comforts and sophistication of Paris. But as she soon discovers, the hilltop town is rich with unexpected pleasures.

Pascal once worked in the nearby ochre mines and later became a pigment salesman and frame maker; while selling his pigments in Paris, he befriended Pissarro and Cézanne, some of whose paintings he received in trade for his frames. Pascal begins to tutor Lisette in both art and life, allowing her to see his small collection of paintings and the Provençal landscape itself in a new light. Inspired by Pascal’s advice to “Do the important things first,” Lisette begins a list of vows to herself (#4. Learn what makes a painting great). When war breaks out, André goes off to the front, but not before hiding Pascal’s paintings to keep them from the Nazis’ reach.

With German forces spreading across Europe, the sudden fall of Paris, and the rise of Vichy France, Lisette sets out to locate the paintings (#11. Find the paintings in my lifetime). Her search takes her through the stunning French countryside, where she befriends Marc and Bella Chagall, who are in hiding before their flight to America, and acquaints her with the land, her neighbors, and even herself in ways she never dreamed possible. Through joy and tragedy, occupation and liberation, small acts of kindness and great acts of courage, Lisette learns to forgive the past, to live robustly, and to love again.

My Review:
Lissette is a Parisienne, an orphan raised her whole life in Paris. She was educated and cultivated a great love of art. Moving to the rural southern Provance region of France to care for her husband’s ailing grandfather, Pascal, seems like a death sentence. Or, at the very least, a great punishment. Especially when she learns he has no indoor plumbing!

This cultured girl soon takes to the country life–mostly out of necessity. And she very much loves her husband Andre, growing also to love Pascal. And, art. Pascal has wondrous tales of his communications with Cezanne and Pissarro, and beautiful paintings he earned in trade for the frames he built.

The relationship that builds between Pascal and Lisette is a balm for her loss of family, and she grieves him terribly when he passes, promising to protect the valuable paintings that are his legacy. Then the war breaks out, and Andre hides the paintings and joins the battle, leaving Lisette to care for herself the best she can in her remote locale. If you have read COLD MOUNTAIN, you may have some inkling how difficult it would be for a woman of few skills to sustain herself in the absence of a man to tend the house, or protect her, in the midst of a war, and I felt an instant connection to Lisette in this regard. She is resilient, and formidable, despite her young age.

She also turns society on its head, forcing her way into the “men’s world” by visiting the cafe during the aperitif hour to listen to the wireless radio document the war unfolding around her. When the Germans occupy her village, she comes under scrutiny for her knowledge of the artistic treasures–and is accosted for their whereabouts, but she cannot give them up. Andre is gone, and with them the secret of their hiding place.

Through Lisette’s eyes we can experience the secondary effects of war. The suspicions of ones neighbors–who are collaborators? Who are resistance?–and we gain the sense of the sacrifices all civilians made. Lack of basic supplies, staple foods, rationing of everything. Lisette even cuts her hair, sending the clippings to become the insoles of boots for the soldiers, and donates the remainder of Pascal and Andre’s wardrobe for soldiers and refugees.

When the war ends, Lisette knows she can return to Paris, but she stays in the country, fulfilling her promise to Pascal to care for the art–by finding it. Wherever Andre hid it, she must uncover the secret. See, thousands of paintings had been destroyed by the German forces, and those Pascal had—and Andre hid—mark important artistic transitions in French art history. They are valuable not only in themselves, but in the rich history they can document. This is important to Lisette, and becomes a part of her mission, and her way to cope with so much loss in her life. There is a bit of a love story that develops, as well. It is tentative and fragile as the players involved–the war has changed everyone, not just Lisette, and yet this change has brought new poignancy to love, and finding it anew.

For the record, this book was recommended to me by a dear friend–and I’m so glad I found it. I really love to expand my reading, and this this quiet, period tale almost read like a movie script. I could–throughout–feel the chilling winds of the mistral, sense the fear and loneliness of Lisette, not only when Andre left her to go to war, but (spoiler warning) more so when he didn’t return.

This story is as beautiful as the art it describes. I felt transported to southern France through Lisette’s frank point-of-view, and vivid descriptions. In experiencing Lisette and Pascal and even Andre’s love of art and passion for paintings in this book, I really lamented the loss of so much cultural teaching in our schools today. My children will never understand the names of these artists–nor the evocative nature of art–unless I teach them myself, and I am woefully unprepared for such a challenge having spent very little of my own youth learning about art. Still, I feel moved to learn, and share, and to ‘live in a painting,’ as Lisette put on her list of needs and hungers–the list which gave her the courage to go on when’s he disappointments of her life almost crushed her spirit. If you like historical fiction, this book will not disappoint.

Interested? You can find LISETTE’S LIST on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I snatched an advanced review copy off NetGalley.

About the Author:
From Susan Vreeland, bestselling author of such acclaimed novels as Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany, comes a richly imagined story of a woman’s awakening in the south of Vichy France—to the power of art, to the beauty of provincial life, and to love in the midst of war.

Susan Vreeland is an internationally renowned best-selling author and four-time winner of the Theodor Geisel Award for Fiction, the San Diego Book Award’s highest honor. She is known for writing historical fiction on art-related themes, including Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Passion of Artemisia, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Her books have been translated into 26 languages. She lives in San Diego, California.

You can catch up with Susan online at her website, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

STEALING HIS HEART Wasn’t Easy! Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for a sexy contemporary romance from Diane Alberts, STEALING HIS HEART! This is the 2nd book in the Shillings Agency series. I loved TEMPORARILY YOURS, the first book in the series, and jumped at the chance to read the second installment.
Book Summary:
A sexy category romance from Entangled publishing’s Brazen imprint…
Shillings Agency employee Jake Forsythe is not happy to discover that the thief who he has to track down is none other than his ex-partner from his past. Now he’s forced to blackmail her into submission…or throw her in jail.

Tara Harris steals from the rich and corrupted, returning objects to their rightful owners one case at a time. When Jake shows up in her life, at first, she’s thrilled. But then when she finds out that she has to help the man she stole from or go to jail…it’s the choice between two evils.

These two can’t deny the burning passion between them, but when push comes to shove, they’ll have to lay their hearts and their lives on the line.

My Review:
Tara is the modern day catburglar equivalent of Robin Hood–she “recovers” stolen possessions, returning them to their rightful owners, for a fee. Her latest mission, however, goes astray when she’s apprehended at the scene by a private security agent–Jake Forsythe. Tara and Jake have history–they were childhood sweethearts/theft partners–at least until Jake left her unfulfilled on his last night before reporting to basic training. Since then, Tara’s been on her own, and doing quite well.

Jake is a shell of a man. Wounded in battle, and scorned by his fiance, he’s sure no woman will ever feel for him again–so he won’t allow anyone close. Especially not Tara. She had gotten in before, and he’s never quite forgotten her, but he won’t let his attraction get in the way of his job. He has to figure out how she was able to get past his security protocol to steal a precious vase, and if she doesn’t? Prison.

Thing is, neither Jake nor Tara can deal with this reunion. Tara hasn’t had a steady lover in all the years Jake’s been gone, and Jake hasn’t been with a woman in more than a year. The passion they ignite is both fiery and familiar, with Tara’s shenanigans thawing the ice in Jake’s heart until all he can imagine is the life he could have had, should have had, if only he wasn’t battle worn and scarred.

But, Tara is strong, stalwart and crafty. She knows Jake will turn her in if she doesn’t comply–and yet she doesn’t hold back on her affection. She won’t give up her secrets, but she’s not going away without getting what she also wants: to see Jake laugh with abandon before she’s rotting in a jail cell.

I really loved Tara. She was funny, and fearless. Her heart was so open and she held her convictions so tight–there was no way she was sharing any secrets that would benefit a gangster, even if he was Jake’s client. Jake, too, was stubborn, unwilling to send Tara to jail, but caught in the need to do his job–even after recognizing his client was a bad dude.

I had a hard time warming to Jake. At points he was really intriguing, but his control freak nature was…too much, perhaps. I found him much more interesting once Tara started breaking through his walls. Partly, at fault was Tara’s innate stubbornness; Jake knew that he’d never get Tara to reveal her thieving secrets and had to really push to make her give it up–even if it totally pushed her away–knowing it was the only way to save her.

I appreciated having some input from Cooper Shillings, of TEMPORARILY YOURS, in here. His sound advice helped put these two double-crossed lovers back on collision course. Some nice smexytimes, and a solid, if darker, romance in the series.

Interested? You can find STEALING HIS HEART on Amazon and B&N.

Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win
one copy of TEMPORARILY YOURS and a $20 gift card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

DianeAAbout the Author:

Diane Alberts is a multi-published, bestselling contemporary romance author with Entangled Publishing. She also writes New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling new adult books under the name Jen McLaughlin. She’s hit the Top 100 lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble numerous times with numerous titles. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. Diane is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Diane has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author. Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and a cat. Her goal is to write so many fantastic stories that even a non-romance reader will know her name.

Catch up with Diane on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.



Hi there! I was looking through some of my new purchases, and realized I never got around to blogging EM Lynley‘s newest release! Silly me! BOUND FOR TROUBLE is a contemporary M/M BDSM romance featuring a sexy FBI agent and a former male stripper on the hunt for a drug dealer and a ruthless killer.

20140826-103334.jpgAbout the book:
Daniel “Deke” Kane is a broken man, facing the end of his career in the FBI. He’s on desk duty after a botched drug raid left the suspects and two children dead. He’s got one chance to prove himself, or the only thing he’ll be investigating is the Help Wanted ads.

Ryan Griffiths has been on the run for ten years. Forced onto the streets when his father kicked him out, Ryan earns his living in other men’s beds. Finding his john dead in a hotel room drives him under the radar until a favorite client gives him a chance at a safe, clean life. But Ryan’s relatively stable new world shatters when Deke Kane catches up with him.

When Deke’s tasked to take down a drug dealer with terrorist ties and a taste for the dark side of BDSM, his only chance to get close is the suspect’s interest in Ryan, and he convinces Ryan to become a confidential informant. In return, Deke offers Ryan immunity from his past. As Ryan falls under the drug lord’s domination, Deke finds himself falling for Ryan.

My review:
Deke is an FBI agent returning to duty after a horrific resolution to his last big case 4 months prior. He knows this case–tracking a Russian gun-runner–is his last chance to prove himself, and may be his only opportunity to salvage his career. Noting that his mark, Petrov, favors sexy men, Deke recruits Ryan, a former stripper/sex worker to infiltrate Petrov’s circle.

Ryan wants to help–he knows that Petrov’s hitman killed his friend–so he gets hired at a BDSM club Petrov favors and shakes his “thang” (in all senses of the word) in order to get noticed. This has all the right effects, including turning on our stalwart Deke, who is gay but not outright “open” about it. Ryan suspects Deke’s sexual preference, and is thrilled to learn Deke is aroused by him.

There begins the cat-and-mouse game of Ryan gleaning intelligence, being a bedable sub and a bane to Deke’s strained professionalism. There is a whole lot of sexual tension, and the plot moves along quickly. Petrov’s Dom behavior is exceptional, so much so that Ryan falls hard–and had to decide between turning in his passionate Dom or helping his intriguing FBI protector/contact.

The book is told in alternating point of view, which I love. Both Deke and Ryan struggle with their attraction–Deke because he doesn’t want to take advantage of his informant, and Ryan because he can’t believe that a professional law-man could overlook his sordid history. When a sub is murdered, however, Ryan realizes he’s too close to the fire. Thus begins a climax that takes out far more than a gun-runner.

I really enjoyed this! One tiny niggle I had was the very end–I wondered if Deke could have been so impetuous….otherwise, LOVED. A quality BDSM M/M romance, with scenes that steamed and a plot that raced as fast as my heart.

Interested? You can find BOUND FOR TROUBLE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes &Noble and Dreamspinner Press.

About the Author:
EM Lynley writes gay erotic romance. She loves books where the hero gets the guy and the loving is 11 on a scale of 10. Her Precious Gems series is best described as “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone”—only gayer. The Delectable series is Gay Romance with Taste.

A Rainbow Award winner and EPPIE finalist, EM has worked in high finance, high tech, and in the wine industry, though she’d rather be writing hot, romantic man-on-man action. She spent 10 years as an economist and financial analyst, including a year as a White House Staff Economist, but only because all the intern positions were filled. Tired of boring herself and others with dry business reports and articles, her creative muse is back and naughtier than ever. She has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C., but the San Francisco Bay Area is home for now.

She is the author of Sex, Lies & Wedding Bells, the Precious Gems series from Dreamspinner Press, and the Rewriting History series starring a sexy jewel thief, among others. Her books are available in print and e-book from Amazon & other book distributors.

You can catch up with Ms. Lynley on Goodreads, her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!


Today is the release of the newest Brazen title by Diane Alberts, STEALING HIS HEART! This is the 2nd book in the Shillings Agency series. Be sure to check out the contest below and enter to win a signed paperback of the first book in the series.

Book Summary:

A sexy category romance from Entangled publishing’s Brazen imprint…

Shillings Agency employee Jake Forsythe is not happy to discover that the thief who he has to track down is none other than his ex-partner from his past. Now he’s forced to blackmail her into submission…or throw her in jail.

Tara Harris steals from the rich and corrupted, returning objects to their rightful owners one case at a time. When Jake shows up in her life, at first, she’s thrilled. But then when she finds out that she has to help the man she stole from or go to jail…it’s the choice between two evils.

These two can’t deny the burning passion between them, but when push comes to shove, they’ll have to lay their hearts and their lives on the line.

Interested? You can find STEALING HIS HEART on
Amazon and B&N.


Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win
one copy of TEMPORARILY YOURS and a $20 gift card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

DianeAAbout the Author:

Diane Alberts is a multi-published, bestselling contemporary romance author with Entangled Publishing. She also writes New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling new adult books under the name Jen McLaughlin. She’s hit the Top 100 lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble numerous times with numerous titles. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. Diane is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Diane has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author. Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and a cat. Her goal is to write so many fantastic stories that even a non-romance reader will know her name.

Catch up with Diane on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


He learns How to DOUBLE UP–A Review

Hi all! Today’s book is a contemporary M/M romance perfect for summer. Why? Because it takes place in sunny Florida and features wakeboarders. Oh, and I have to feature fellow “V” authors whenever possible…

Now, I’ll be perfectly honest here, I know zero about wakeboarding, but I still really enjoyed DOUBLE UP by Vanessa North. It’s quick read with a compelling lead character and a tender romance.

Double UpAbout the book:
Knowing he’s loved can make any man fly.

Fifteen years ago, Ben Warren was a wakeboarding champion: king of big air, ballsy tricks, and boned grabs. Until a career-ending injury left him broken in ways he still has no hope of fixing. Now he takes his thrills where he can get them, and tries not to let life hurt too much.

Then Davis Fox arrives in Ben’s sporting goods store with a plan to get in touch with his estranged brother by competing in the annual wakeboarding double-up contest. The catch? He’s never ridden before. It’s crazy, but Ben’s a sucker for the guy’s sob story—and for his dimples, too—so he agrees to coach Davis.

Davis is everything Ben isn’t: successful, confident, and in love with life. And he wants Ben to love life—and him—too. But before Ben can embrace a future with Davis, he needs to remember how to hope.

My Review:

First off, I’m going to say I read this book in nearly one evening. I got sucked into the voice of the book and had to let up in the wee hours before work. Ben is a fun narrator. He’s a 40 y/o “washed up” wakeboarding pro who now runs a surf shop in his hometown of Lake Lovelace, FLA. I say he’s washed up, mostly because that’s how Ben talks about himself. He had a serious accident in his last competition busting a bunch of lumbar vertebrae. Frankly, it’s a miracle that he’s walking, let alone giving private lessons.

Still, Ben suffers addiction issues–booze and prescription painkillers. He’s been sober the past 8 years, but he hasn’t gone back for his last corrective surgery too afraid that the post-op medicine will draw him into a pill-popping abyss.

One day a delicious specimen of man arrives in the surf shop–needing lessons. Well, Ben isn’t gonna turn down the money. Especially not when he recognizes Davis as being gay, too. See, Davis has been forbidden contact with his teenaged half-brother, Ridley, because his stepfather is homophobic.  While Ben attempts to teach Davis the basic skills of wakeboarding the heat builds between them. Out together socially, the connection is stronger than Ben has previously had–he’s mostly a hook-up type of guy.

This is perfect for Davis, the connection, that is. He’s a ‘One Man’ kinda guy, and their courtship has such a foreign dynamic for Ben–Davis is bossy and tender and flexible–that it completely unsettles him in the best way. For the first time he’s in a relationship. At least, until Davis finds out Ben’s hiding his back injury. Davis can’t really deal with Ben being one bad landing away from paralysis–but this isn’t why he pushes Ben away.

Fear not, however. Ben learns to face his biggest fears, and in the process reconnects Davis and Ridley in a way that makes estrangement impossible.

The writing is fun and the characters are flamboyant. Ben’s boss/bedbuddy/childhood BFF, Eddie, is a total hoot. Ben doesn’t take himself seriously, but he’s serious about Davis. The connection might have been a touch too quick to develop, but it was handled well. Smexytimes were well-written and steamy. In short, a quality summer read.

Interested? You can find DOUBLE UP on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a copy of this book from the published via NetGalley. This is my honest review.

Vanessa NorthAbout the Author:

Author of over a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories, Vanessa North delights in giving happy-ever-afters to characters who don’t think they deserve them. Relentless curiosity led her to take up knitting and run a few marathons “just to see if she could.” She started writing for the same reason. Her very patient husband pretends not to notice when her hobbies take over the house. Living and writing in Northwest Georgia, she finds her attempts to keep a quiet home are frequently thwarted by twin boy-children and a very, very large dog.

You can catch up with Vanessa on her website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

He Falls for LEATHER AND LACE–A Review

Hi there! Today’s book is a contemporary romance from Jessie Evans. LEATHER AND LACE is a fun Texas romance, without all the cowboy stuff…(unless you like the cowboy stuff in which case, it’s not VERY cowboy-ie, but there’s a sorta cowboy in it…)

Leather and Lace
About the book:
Cowboy bikers, fireworks, and romance, oh my…

Wild girl, Mia Sherman, has a secret—she isn’t as fearless as she pretends. Descended from Lonesome Point, Texas’s founding family, Mia grew up hearing tales of an old Irish curse that had followed the Shermans to America. At age twenty-four, Mia is still terrified of the stories, because they aren’t stories. They are a warning about what will happen if Mia allows love and romance into her life. The curse struck Mia’s grandmother and her great-great-whatever grandmother, and Mia knows she could be next. The first-born daughter of every generation is cursed to lose her husband on her wedding night, which is one of the many reasons Mia has sworn off relationships.

Until the fateful day Sawyer Kane rides his Harley into her life …

Rancher turned restoration expert, Sawyer Kane, can’t believe his luck when the feisty owner of the lingerie shop next to his hotel turns out to be the curator of his latest project, a ghost town he’s been sent to restore. He’s looking forward to long, hot days talking history, and hotter nights with Mia, but the redhead with the killer smile seems determined to keep him at a friendly distance. But when a dangerous man from Mia’s past arrives in town, Sawyer finds himself drawn into her inner circle, and into the legend of Lonesome Point itself.

Can true love conquer all, even a centuries-old curse? Mia and Sawyer may be the first couple to find out.

My Review:
Mia is a strong, educated businesswoman with a horrible ex—-so horrible he’s in jail. Paul haunts Mia’s nightmares, but he’s back in LA and she’s in Lonesome Point, Texas living near her family and friends. Mia’s a bit of a prankster, and she topples into Sawyer mid-prank, very early one Saturday morning. Like 2:30am, after having far too many shots of whiskey.

Sawyer isn’t looking for romance in Lonesome Point. He’s there to bid on the restoration of the nearby ghost town, but he’s more than happy to oblige the rambunctious redhead who stole his breath, okay knocked him breathless, in the street. Yeah, that Mia’s got spirit. Or, was filled with spirit… In either case, he’s intrigued enough to pursue her.

Mia turns Sawyer away for two reasons: she’s still scared of intimacy after Paul’s abusive ways, and she’s sure the firstborn women of her family are cursed to lose their husbands on their wedding night. It seems a crazy curse, but Mia’s granny swears by it. She should know–her hubby died that way, too.

It’s a fun, but not long, pursuit. All of Mia’s friends encourage her to leap–and Sawyer assures her everything will be casual. That’s before he gets her between the sheets however. Then it’s all Floodgates of the Past Confession Central and they spend a whole lotta time confiding in each other–excepting about Paul, he’s a taboo topic. Well, he’s taboo until he breaks parole.

Can Mia survive Paul’s love? Can she give her heart to Sawyer, believing a curse might steal him away when they should be at their happiest?

It’s a fun read with some interesting twists. I rather knew where the story was headed, but that’s likely equal parts good foreshadowing and attentive audience. The V-card issue was, perhaps, unnecessary. Lots of talk of unwedded parenthood, with the culture-clash in tiny Lonesome Point teetering on the disapproving side. For me, it seemed “meh.” I have no qualms about unwed parents. I do have trouble with deadbeat fathers–and this story seemed a bit littered with them.

I’m glad Mia found the courage to love. I’m not glad that she kicked Sawyer aside out of fear. Or that she takes too much on herself. Made her seem a touch, um, naive, for me. That said, this is breezy read with a cool setting, fun characters and well-written smexytimes. I enjoyed it.

Interested? You can find LEATHER AND LACE on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:
Jessie Evans gave up a career as an international woman of mystery to write the sassy, Southern romances she always wanted to read.

She’s married to the man of her dreams, and together they’re raising a few adorable, mischievous children in a tree house in the boonies. She grew up in rural Arkansas, spending summers running wild, being chewed by chiggers, and now appreciates her home in a chigger-free part of the world even more.

When she’s not writing, Jessie enjoys playing her dulcimer (badly), sewing the worlds ugliest quilts to give to her friends, going for bike rides with her house full of boys, and wandering the woods, glass of wine and camera both in hand, on the lookout for Bigfoot.

A southern girl, born and bred, Jessie loves writing Southern romances with just the right amount of sizzle, and hopes you’ll enjoy her stories set in the fictional town of Summerville, Georgia. Especially the “Always a Bridesmaid” series!

You can catch up with Jessie online on Goodreads, her website, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Voyeurism Rules! A Review of MY WIFE, THE SEDUCTRESS

Hi all! I’m prepping to pack my kids off to school, so this week’s reading has been spotty, at best. However, I ran across an interesting erotica FREEBIE recently–and it kinda stuck with me. Max Sebastian’s MY WIFE, THE SEDUCTRESS is voyeurism at it’s finest.

My Wife, The SeductressAbout the book:

Joshua Shaw is amused at his wife’s clear attraction to the boy she used to babysit as a teenager, now that he’s all grown up. Robert Donovan has turned into a fine figure of a man going into his sophomore year at college, and he’s even on track to make the football team. No wonder he gets Tessa all hot under the collar.

Feeling the urge to tease her about her little crush, Josh invites him over for some regular summer work at their house.

But teasing soon gives way to a surprising fantasy for them both — of Tessa seducing the younger, athletic college stud while her husband is away at work. In the heat of the summer, with Tessa contending with her new status as a stay-at-home mom, a husband’s quiet encouragement might just drive his insatiable wife into the arms of another man.

My Review:
I really wasn’t sure if I would like this one. The “skeevy potential” seemed inordinately high. I mean, a married man getting excited about the prospect of his wife seducing another man? Hmmm….

Anywho, I thought, V, it’s free! If it stinks, you don’t even have to return it… But what I found is, I actually liked it!

Here’s why:
Josh and Tessa felt real. I’ve been a new/young mother. It’s hard to separate that motherhoodness–for both husband and wife. Caring for a baby saps strength and tests bonds, mainly because one partner, or both, feels unfulfilled.

Tessa’s clearly having some pangs about giving up her job to raise a baby–and Josh is working longer hours to compensate for lost pay. Their love life is okay–not feeling stale exactly, but a chance encounter–Tessa meets (of all people) the grown version of a boy she used to babysit, Robert, and it sparks something in her. Josh is blown away watching their bashful reunion. Tessa is one step shy of twirling her hair around a finger, while Robert’s glowing puppy-dog eyes don’t even try to hide his attraction. For the first time in, perhaps, years Josh sees Tessa as a vibrant sexual creature, not just his bedmate/wife/mother of his child.

The story is told from Josh’s point-of-view, so we have a front row seat on his voyeuristic journey. Not only does he grant Tessa a “hall pass” he arranges for Robert to come to their home regularly, to do fixer-upper projects over the duration of Robert’s summer break before going back to college. (FYI–Robert’s 20 and a strapping football player, so this isn’t a pedophilia case) In fact, Josh actively encourages Tessa to flirt with Robert all day long, with extremely spicy results. Tessa practically attacks Josh when he returns home from work, having suffered extreme sexual desire all day while doting on the attractive young Robert.

Okay, this is erotica, so, it’s NOT safe for the kiddos. In truth, I’m not sure it was safe for ME! I know there’s a buried part of the Hubs’s reptile brain that gets off on other men complimenting me, finding me attractive. Well, Josh takes that to the 18th Level. His voyeuristic cravings lead Tessa to acting out some of Josh’s very kinky fantasies creating a combustible passion for Tessa, Josh and Robert. Passion that is handled swiftly, and often. And repeatedly, and….

It’s a fun perspective in erotica. First, it’s male POV. Second, it’s a committed couple exploring all new parts of their relationship. Third, it’s hot, but not sloppy. A lot of the sex happens at one remove–Josh watching through a window or via FaceTime, or even simply hearing about it later. Fourth, it’s different–no Alpha males, no BDSM, no meet-cutes or brooding, damaged leads–just a normal couple who spice up their sex life in an unconventional way. Tessa and Josh never stop exploring this new outlet, or each other. The bitterness and jealousy Josh expected to experience is overshadowed by his ravenous hunger for more of Tessa, especially after she’s been active with Robert. So, if you read erotica, this is worth a try.

Interested? Sadly, this title is no longer free, but you can find MY WIFE THE SEDUCTRESS on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
Max Sebastian is a thirty-something writer, author and occasional journalist who lives in London with his wife and child. He has been writing erotica for more than 10 years.

Breaking into the world of indie publishing in late 2011, his first full length erotic novel Anarchy of the Heart arrived in 2012, and the second, Submitting to Her, came a year later. His latest effort is a trilogy of novels, The Madeleine Trilogy, published by KW Publishing.

Max’s writing explores various erotic sub-genres, from sweet coming-of-age stories to spicy tales of wife-sharing and power play, and is often characterized by sexy, intelligent and empowered females and strong, responsive men who can help them find their happy ever after.

You can connect with Max on Goodreads, his website and twitter.

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter or Facebook to find FREE reads, like I do…

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends.

MAKE ME WHOLE–A Magical M/M Romance

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a slow-burning, magical M/M Romance from Marguerite Labbe. MAKE ME WHOLE is a bit contemporary, a bit ancient history, and a bit mythology, all wrapped up in a realistic romance.

Make Me WholeAbout the book:

After a grueling battle in ancient Greece, lovers Dexios and Lykon committed their lives to each other in the name of Goddess Cythera. After the war, fearing the strength of his love for Dexios, Lykon abandoned his vow and returned home. Heartbroken, Dexios called on Cythera, who changed him into four unfinished statues. In that form he would wait for his fickle lover to return, break the curse, and make him whole.

Thousands of years have passed when Galen Kanellis finds the statues in the storeroom of a Seattle museum and makes them the focus of his new exhibit. Needing information, he contacts his ex-lover Nick Charisteas. Nick has a lifelong dream of finding the Dexios Collection, and the last thing he expected was for it to wind up in the hands of the man who broke his heart. As both men search for answers about the statues, worries of abandonment and fear of loss test their renewed relationship, threatening to separate them again—this time permanently

My Review:

Nick and Galen were on/off lovers, not exclusive, about 6 months ago. Nick wanted a commitment and Galen couldn’t give him one, so he walked out. This isn’t as heartless as it sounds. Galen had previously been in a serious relationship but his lover was killed in a car wreck with a drunk driver–while Galen was driving. Galen survived in body, but heart and spirit remain crushed even two years later–he still can’t get behind the wheel without panic attacks. So, he wasn’t ready to commit to another man, though he did feel that something promising had been building between them.

At the point where the story begins, Galen ‘s art museum is prepping for a new exhibit and (astonishingly) he finds four bronze statues in the back of his storeroom. These four statues have no known provenance but they are clearly old and seem form a continuous exhibit, a nude warrior in four separate poses that suggest a missing mate.

Stunned and overjoyed with his find, Galen immediately incorporates the statues into his new exhibit, but he also reached out to Nick–who is a an art fanatic and also an antiquities hunter. Nick knows all about the statues as it turns out–his family had OWNED them in the past but they were lost at sea decades ago. Nick had, in fact, been planning a dive to discover the wreckage.

As it turns out, the statues have a curious history. They are all of Nick’s ancient ancestor Dexios, and depict him awaiting the return of his missing lover, Lykon. Throughout history, these statues have been cared for–at times they have been completed. It seems the real Dexios was cursed to wait eternally for Lykon to return, and the only way for these lovers to be reunited is through reincarnation and reconnection.

So, Nick’s thought is HE is the Dexios while Galen must be Lykon. Galen is appropriately appalled–he’s still not sure he can HAVE a relationship. Yet, the two (Galen and Nick) embark on a real relationship. They go on dates and begin to develop the kind of intimacy they had missed the first time round. It remained to be seen if this would reunite Dexios and Lykon, UNTIL THEY STARTED TAKING OVER THEIR BODIES!!!

I really enjoyed this book. Such great emotional angst. So many stakes–not just can Galen get over his grief? Or, can Nick overcome his fear of abandonment? No, we also have mythology and magic interfering in ways designed to truly test the love and faith of both Galen and Nick.

It was a slow burn, with tentative steps toward reconnection. Many times Nick, Galen, or both, had to slow the machinations of Lykon and Dexios. This was all to the good because they’ve waited hundreds of years to be together and failed several rounds of reincarnation. Smexytimes were well-written and steamy.

Interested? You can find MAKE ME WHOLE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Dreamspinner Press. I received a copy of this book via Goodreads’ Don’t Buy My Love program in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

Marguerite has been accused of being eccentric and a shade neurotic, both of which she freely admits to, but her muse has OCD tendencies, so who can blame her? Her husband and son do an excellent job keeping her toeing the line, though. Together with her co-author Fae Sutherland, Marguerite has found a shared passion for beautiful men with smart mouths.

When she’s not working hard on writing new material and editing completed work, she spends her time reading novels of all genres, enjoying role-playing games with her equally nutty friends, and trying to plot practical jokes against her son and husband. Her son is learning the tricks too quickly and likes to retaliate. You’d think she’d learn.

You can find Marguerite on Goodreads, her website and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

He Worked Hard SEDUCING LAUREN–A Review

Hi there! Today’s book is a contemporary romance from best-selling author Kristin Proby. SEDUCING LAUREN is part of the Love Under a Big Sky series of novels written about a group of connected friends in Cunningham, Montana. And Lauren is the Cunningham heiress.

Seducing Lauren (Love Under the Big Sky, #2)
About the Book:
Now that his best friend, Josh, has happily settled down with his true love on a Montana ranch, small-town lawyer Ty Sullivan starts thinking that maybe single life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And when Lauren Cunningham’s no-good ex-husband comes after her for an unexpected trust fund, Ty steps in to protect her.

But soon he can’t help but think of her as more than a client. Lauren’s in no mood to jump into another relationship, so how can Ty convince her that her mistake wasn’t getting married, but marrying the wrong guy?

My review:
This book is part of a series, but can be read as a standalone. It features the love story of Ty, a successful lawyer, and Lauren, a newly divorced woman with some pretty lucrative secrets–and a gold-digging ex-husband.

The ink is barely dry on the divorce papers when Lauren is served a suit seeking half the trust fund she inherited after she kicked out her emotionally-abusive, philandering husband, Jack. And, he’s appearing on her doorstep seeking money, however he can get it. Lauren wants Ty to help her shut down Jack’s suit, but he won’t–because he thinks it’s a conflict of interest to take on the legal case of a woman he’s been secretly admiring.

Ty has wanted Lauren for the past year, or so, but he’s been biding his time. She was embroiled in a brutal divorce, and then her parents died suddenly–leaving her both an heiress, and utterly alone. Ty’s history isn’t fantastic. Working his way through college and law school, growing up,with an abusive, alcoholic father, he’s developed a giant “protector” complex. As he attempts to woo Lauren, this become more and more prominent–mostly because Jack is behaving more and more psychotic.

When Jack’s manipulations escalate into threats, Lauren seeks an order of protection, and Ty become the rock on which she leans. Expect domestic violence.

The end is an HEA, but in my opinion it came too fast. I would have wanted to see a bit more of a courtship, especially as Lauren has been burned (badly) before in love. Ty is clearly nothing like Jack, yet, after all the legal and physical battles Lauren has endured/survived, I’d expect more wariness.

Because this series is based on a group of friends, the accessory characters are the ones being spun off. Ty’s friends Cara and Josh had been linked in the first book, and Ty’s (divorced) sister Jillian will find love again in the third. It seems divorced women being successfully matched is the theme here, which is nice.

Expect lots of smexytimes, though the gory details aren’t overwhelming. Expect many professions of love, though they seem to happen too quick. Expect some extremely erratic and illogical ex behavior, though doing so only harms the chance of satisfying his own greed. (My opinion: Jack was almost cartoonishly evil. Not only was he bad, he was bad at being bad, too. His physical threats didn’t serve his self-interest, whatsoever, and that seemed Jack’s whole modus operandi: getting more for Jack. If he had stuck to being cool, slick and litigious, I could have found him more acceptable as a problem.)

Now, a slight rant, because there a lots of books out with ex’s hell-bent on “revenge.” I know that domestic violence is a problem. I know that some men never get over being tossed out, and they stalk, beat and kill their former lovers/partners/wives. I TOTALLY get that. Really. But, if that’s a part of the fiction, I really want to see the possessive behaviors. The unwelcome overtures. The escalating violence. Not because I’m into it–I’m not. But, if that’s the character being written, well, that character needs to be written authentically. Given a whole persona. Most times, I feel this characterization is begun, and left half-done, with a big leap on the reader’s part to fill in the blanks. For me, it always leaves the story arc falling short.

Unfortunately, I felt this was the case for Jack. He was somewhere between annoying and menacing but quickly snapped into psychotic. I saw it happening, and couldn’t make the leap. Partly, I believe it was because Lauren’s notions that her home had been invaded never had any corroborating evidence, just her “feeling,” which left ME feeling skeptical, and emotionally flat, instead of tense or worried.

Back in my youth I was chilled to the bone by SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY. I will never forget that scene when Laura (Julia Roberts) returns to her new home, in her new town, and senses “someone” has been there. Nothing is broken, in fact nothing is out-of-place. Then she opens the cabinets to find all the canned goods are stacked in perfect columns just as her abusive husband had ALWAYS dictated and she knows he has found her. The fear just slices through her, and the audience.

I guess I was waiting for that to happen here, and it didn’t, so I couldn’t connect as well as if it HAD happened. If Lauren had found, maybe, a trinket left out, or even better something beloved destroyed beside some sort of symbol that couldn’t be directly tied to Jack, but would send a strong message that he’d been in the house, I would have had the requisite fear that she was in physical danger. There is a property crime, yet, it still seemed impersonal; unidentified vandalism often feels that way, for me. As if, once done, it’s exhausted the vandal’s anger and thus the threat. Only if there are serial instances showing more and more damage does a sufficient pattern develop indicating a growing problem.

In short, the book is interesting, and held my attention, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. I am kinda sad to say that because I really had high expectations, based on reviews of earlier work. I think I’d like a more straight-forward romance, better, and will look forward to the next book (Jillian’s story) filling the gaps.

Interested? SEDUCING LAUREN releases tomorrow, Aug 19th. You can find it on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received an advance copy for review via NetGalley.

Kristen ProbyAbout the Author:

Kristen is the author of the Amazon and USA Today bestselling With Me In Seattle series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong characters who love humor and have a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.

Kristen spends her days with her muse in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.

Readers can catch up with Kristen on Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!