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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Review: Fairyville

Fairyville
By Emma Holly

Zoe Clare is a medium who has no trouble communicating with the dead-or with real live fairies, for that matter! But she can't seem to get her feelings across to her landlord-slash-manager- Magnus Monroe, Fairyville, Arizona's most eligible bachelor.

She's tired of his erotic antics with every woman in town but her. So when her high school flame returns to town, Zoe is more than a little vulnerable to his charms. How Alex broke her heart is a scandal no one in Fairyville has forgotten. But even if Zoe isn't ready to forget, she's willing to forgive. The rules they're about to break will bring out the jealousy in Magnus-and the astounding truth.

If you enjoy romance stories where the sex is hot because the characters are just that good, then Fairyville is for you. There are four people followed in this book and their stories interlink and twine in a wonderful way that enraptured this reader.

Zoe Clare has a problem. Her manager is a total hunk, but he wants to be friends. Darn it. She wants more but a girl can’t have everything. Why can’t she find someone to love her as she is? What’s so bad about her? I like Zoe’s decision to go after Magnus even after he firmly states that he has no intention of adding her to his once-a-month club. Yes, Zoe is a tortured heroine with a Pollyanna outlook.

Magnus is the hunk in Zoe’s sights and he wants to be more than friends too, but doing so would put Zoe in danger and that’s the last thing he’d ever do. So he deprives himself of the one good thing that’s ever happened to him; admitting and succumbing to his love for Zoe. There are other forces that are hunting him down and she’d be considered as inconsequential collateral damage. So the poor guy has to deny his urges and it’s killing him, especially when a blast from Zoe’s past sails into town.

Alex is the boy who had Zoe right where a guy would wish her to be when they were in school. Alex loved Zoe so much and yet there were these driving passions that proved to be too much for the little town of Fairyville, so he did the right thing and left. Thing is, he never got a chance to have closure with Zoe and it’s haunted him for years. He’s a confused guy in so many ways. On top of that, he's got the hots for Bryan. Is it possible for him to have the best of both worlds?

Alex and Magnus are perfect poster boys for “tortured hunky heroes”. They have so many issues to resolve that affect not only themselves but Zoe too. She seems to be the sun in whose heated orbit they swirl around and boy, do they burn hot!

Then there is Bryan. He is part of Alex’s torture and his saving grace. He’s a regular guy thrown into a very weird and wild situation yet he finds that loving Alex gives him the strength to survive the craziness he comes to know in Fairyville.

Emma is the only author who consistently puts many people together in a passionate clinch and keeps it real, emotional, tasteful with bits of humor and gives you plenty of heat to make you want to squirm. There is not one scene she writes that I ever felt the story could have done without. All of them were well written and quite thrilling. I absolutely enjoyed the hint of a foursome. Well, it’s more than a hint, but it’s a fairy thing and I’m not spilling the beans on how you can have a foursome yet not. In fact the process of setting it up was quite titillating. And Byan’s choice of paybacks? Wow. I was exhausted after reading it.

Fairyville embodies all that I look for in a romance from Emma. Although her characters have extraordinary issues, they take place in a regular world and that touches me. The passions burn so bright, they could power a chandelier while the heat seared my mind and had me wanting to read behind closed doors. Not that I am shy about reading this. No way. I just didn’t want to be interrupted at the good parts. Lucky for me, there were many. Doubly lucky for me, the door has a lock.

If you, like me, enjoy reading a fun story that has a romantic and fulfilling HEA while leaving you all tingly and hot, then Fairyville delivers.

Rating:

Reviewed by Xeranth

Friday, February 8, 2008

Review: Surviving The Trap

Surviving the Trap
by M.L. Skye

Take one week of extreme training: deep space, limited sleep, next to no rations, and flying scenarios over and over again. Add in two top guns and stir together with a healthy dose of unresolved sexual tension.

What do you get?

Two pilots pushed to their limits. Can they find a way to get through a hellish exercise… and possibly into each other’s arms?

I really enjoyed this brief tale of friendship turned romantic love. This was a quickie read that gets your engine revving and puts a smile on your face. Maggie has her reasons for avoiding a physical relationship with Max, despite the tension that zings between them at every opportunity, but she realizes that only Max can be there for her in the way she needs. Max is anything but content to keep his relationship with Maggie strictly platonic, but he would never do anything to ruin the best friendship he’s ever had. So when Maggie propositions him, he’s hard-pressed to decide just how to handle it… for all of ten seconds.

I just loved both Maggie and Max’s confidence as well as their vulnerabilities to each other, and the fact that they had been friends for so long was just icing on the cake. The only thing wrong with this story… it wasn’t long enough! I wanted more! I wanted to know how well things work out between these two headstrong, fiery people. I wanted to know if they did in fact “survive the trap”. But, the implied HEA will have to be enough for me… *sigh*. This was a fun story and one that I would recommend if you are looking for a quick read that will leave you with a smile.



Reviewed by: Viscaria

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Review: Garden of Stone

Garden of Stone
by Melinda Barron

Trapped for one hundred twenty-one years… in a garden of stone.

In 1887, Ursel Seagrove wanted nothing more than to save her lover from an evil warlock. Ogden Butcher was stealing the powers of witches and warlocks in Victorian England, and Ursel’s lover was determined to stop him. Instead, he was killed and she was trapped in stone.

For years, Remington Chase has fantasized about the manor, using its creepy garden as a playground for his fertile imagination. Now, armed with the deed to the house, the best-selling horror novelist can’t wait to use the setting for his next book. He’s drawn to the statues and one in particular. The stone woman is everything he’s ever dreamed about. When Remington comes across a strange book of spells, his words bring Ursel back to life and she steals his heart with a single kiss. Unable to let his dream woman go, he vows to join her in a dangerous search to destroy Ogden before the warlock can strike again.

Ursel never expected Remington to help her on her quest. Something in the man calls to her, makes her feel things she never thought possible again. It’s almost like she already knows him…

If you’re looking for a tale where love conquers all, then this is one to pick up. I wasn’t sure at first if the author would be able to make it work, but I wasn’t disappointed in the outcome or the way the HEA comes about.

Ursel is a powerful witch, and when she confronts Butcher, she is confident that she can defeat him. What she doesn’t take into account is that Butcher is not only a powerful wizard himself, but he is a master manipulator. He uses her emotions against her and kills her lover in front of her then traps her in stone. One hundred twenty-one years later, she finally gets her chance for her HEA and her revenge. I really got a kick out of Ursel’s zest for life, and how she jumps at and enjoys the new experiences of modern life. She was definitely a funny and interesting character.

Remington has been obsessed with the manor and the garden of statues since he was a child. He used to sneak in and build fantasies around how he felt and what he saw. Because of the fantasies of his youth he has become a best-selling horror novelist. Of all the statues, one in particular has held his interest and starred in his most erotic fantasies. Not that he would ever tell anyone else that. So, what is a man to do when an impulse overtakes him and he does something no sane person would think to do, and in doing so he brings that very same statue to life? Why any sane person would think he was dreaming and enjoy every minute of it! Remy is therefore quite surprised when he realizes that he’s not crazy, and this isn’t a dream. When he’s informed by the very woman he’s brought back to life that he is the reincarnation of her lost love, he’s a bit skeptical. That is until she finds a very unique way of convincing him. Now, Remy is determined to help Ursel to find and destroy Butcher before he can kill again.

For a relatively short story, this was amazingly detailed and I didn’t feel at any time that something was left out in order to satisfy a shorter word count. Usually at the end of a short story I’m left wanting just a bit more… I’m nosy that way. With this one, the only reason I wanted more was that I so enjoyed the characters I wanted to know the rest of their tale. As in, do they have babies? What other challenges do they meet head on? Does Ursel fit into this new time? But, that’s the mark of a good story, isn’t it? We want to see how the rest of their lives unfold, and hope that we get to “run into” the characters again. Almost like old friends that we get reacquainted with periodically. This was one of those tales, as well as one that keeps you guessing as to how they’ll defeat the bad guy, how they’ll finish their own story right up to the last word. A great read with the perfect amount of heat!



Reviewed by: Viscaria

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Review: Santa's Elf

Santa’s Elf
by Quillia Rain

Have you ever wondered if Santa has a naughty side? What kind of behaviors could take the “saint” out of Saint Nick? Is it possible “sugar plums” aren’t the only kinds of visions dancing through this sexy Mr. Kringle’s head?

After three years of unrequited love, and steamy fantasies, Elfina “Elf” Jeffries has just about given up on gaining her boss’s attention. How was any self-respecting woman supposed to seduce a man who was oblivious to her cues? Then the first gift arrived…

Every Santa needs an Elf, and Dayton Kringle is no exception. His offer for a temporary affair, just long enough to get from Christmas Eve to New Year’s, will satisfy a three-year craving. Introducing his Elf to the delights to be found in bondage, a firm spanking, and submission, Dayton is determined to keep his emotions
in check. But as he comes to terms with his need for her, he determines walking away from his Elf was the last thing he wanted.

I had a very hard time putting this one down! It pulled me in right from the start and kept me hooked right up until the last page. What better can be said of an author and their story than that?

Elfina “Elf” Jeffries is convinced that her boss doesn’t notice she exists, except maybe as an excellent assistant. For three years she has lusted from afar… okay from her desk…and lamented the fact that her boss, Dayton Kringle, doesn’t see her as a sexy woman. She certainly sees him as an incredibly sexy man, and she’s been dying to get her hands on him from the moment he first walked into her life. When the first gift arrives on her desk, 12 days before Christmas, her suspicion that it’s her boss doesn’t make much sense, but by the second gift she’s convinced it’s him. What follows is an incredibly journey of discovery that she never wants to end.

Dayton Kringle is the foremost toymaker in the business, and he relies a great deal on his Elf to keep him organized. What Elf doesn’t know is that he has been suffering from unrequited lust from the moment he laid eyes on her. She also doesn’t know that he is a Dom and determined to have her as his sub, at least until New Year’s Eve. He refuses to admit to himself or anyone else that he needs her in his life as more than just recreational fun. When he sets out to seduce her and make her his he opens a new door for Elf into her sensuality that she never knew existed inside herself. Who wouldn’t wish for such a sexy Santa to call their own?

I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters in this highly entertaining, extremely erotic tale. Elf is spunky and humorous, but could easily be damaged by the passion that explodes between her and Dayton. She ends up being stronger than she seems, but it’s a bit of a tough lesson for her to learn. Dayton on the other hand, may be too tough. He’s allowed his extremely painful past to color his relationships and guide him into guarding his heart a bit too zealously. There were moments when I wanted to just hold him and let him know it would be okay, and other moments where I wanted to smack him upside his head for being… well for being such a hard-headed jerk! One particular scene in particular springs to mind, without giving anything away I would just say that Elf forgives him much more magnanimously than I would have… I would have made him suffer longer!

Now, I can’t forget to mention Elf’s mother… I just adored her. She was a straight-talking, dirty-minded, outspoken, shoot-from-the-hip woman who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, and who got quite a few laughs out of me. This was a wonderful cast of characters and I would love to go back and see if there are stories for some of the characters we meet.

I loved the concept of a more sensual version of the twelve days of Christmas! This one was all BDSM with not a partridge, pear tree, calling bird or French hen in sight. There WERE five golden rings, just not your traditional set of rings, and that’s about all I’m going to reveal about that. Needless to say, it’s the most erotic and exotic version of the classic Christmas carol I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It doesn’t matter that this is technically a Christmas themed tale, it will warm you up no matter what time of the year you read it, and what better way to enjoy the season all year round? This was a fabulous story that I highly recommend.



Reviewed by: Viscaria

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Review: Mark Of The Vampire Queen

Mark Of The Vampire Queen
by Joey W. Hill

Full servant. With his new title, Jacob must attend to Lady Lyssa’s every need, venturing into a world of passion darker than he’s ever known. As a vampire hunter he wasn’t prepared to embrace a world where humans are sexual commodities, but he has adapted. Now he finds the integrity of his soul challenged as he serves his Mistress’s needs as fully as he services her desires.

He loves her, though other servants warn against giving her his soul. Everyone knows that Vampires have no regard for humans, so why would a Vampiress bother treating a mere sex toy with respect? But Jacob knows a human servant if far more than that. His Mistress needs a warrior, a friend and a lover. A man who will serve her in all ways, even if he has to betray the priceless treasure of her love.

I was so very excited to get this book for review. Having read the first book in this duology, I was so looking forward to the next installment of Jacob and Lyssa’s story. I wasn’t disappointed in this sequel and ending to their love story, although… when is it ever an ending, it’s usually just the beginning.

Joey W. Hill is an unparalleled writer who pulls you into a very dark and sensual world full of danger and political intrigue. Her characters are always in-depth and intricate with a hint of vulnerability in some of them and a bit more in others. Either way, you find yourself rooting for them and hanging onto the edge of your seat as they work their way through. The world building Joey is capable of is simply mesmerizing, and even though her stories are pleasingly lengthy, I never want to come to that last page!

Jacob has finally gotten his Mistress to agree to giving him the third and final mark, despite her numerous and valid (in her mind) objections. He knows where he is supposed to be… right by his Lady’s side! Nothing she can say or do will turn him from that path, especially since he knows they have a soul-deep connection. Jacob is fiercely loyal and sexy as all get out. His dry and unexpected wit in seemingly serious moments, sometimes completely as an aside or a mental comment, caught me off guard and surprised a laugh from me on more than one occasion. He makes you wish for your own Human Servant!

Lady Lyssa didn’t want to bind Jacob to her completely with the final mark. She knows she is dying (no, I promise I’m not giving anything away) and doesn’t want to take Jacob’s life with her own. That is the depth of the connection between Vampire and a fully-marked Human Servant. She is an incredibly noble and feisty character who isn’t always likable due to the darkness of her nature. She is a complex, intricately “drawn” character who is struggling between desires and worlds; those of her vampire world and Jacob’s human one. As she discovers how much she truly does love Jacob, it becomes increasingly harder for her to push him away and keep him at arms length.

Now, a word of warning! Neither this author, nor this story, is for the faint of heart. While always gripping, the subject matter is not always “easy”, and is quite often rather dark, especially when we start getting into the Vampire politics and “customs”. As the conclusion seemed to draw forth, you may find you want to put the book down… DON’T! Believe me; the ending is well worth it!

In conclusion, I have to recommend this for a Best Book, as I will be rereading this one over and over along with the first installment of this story. Joey W. Hill writes relationships that are so complex, they suck you in and keep you trying to figure how they will turn out. She brings such moments of intensity that your heart is pounding and it’s hard to catch your breath; then tempers those feelings by interspersing such tender, emotional scenes throughout that your heart lifts and you feel the need to sigh. Joey W. Hill is a truly gifted author, and I eagerly anticipate her upcoming stories.



Reviewed by Viscaria

Monday, February 4, 2008

Review: All Through the Night

All Through the Night (Troubleshooters, Book 12)
by Suzanne Brockmann

It’s Christmastime in Boston, and this year the silver bells will be wedding bells as FBI agent Jules Cassidy ties the knot with the man of his dreams, Hollywood heartthrob Robin Chadwick.

The pair plan a quiet, intimate ceremony, to be witnessed by family and close friends from the FBI, SEAL Team Sixteen, and Troubleshooters, Incorporated, including Sam Starrett and Alyssa Locke. But the holiday season brings more to the happy couple than they expect.

A waterfall coming through their kitchen ceiling, a bat colony in the attic, old family tensions…even an international incident can’t dampen their spirits. But add to that a parade of unexpected guests, including a reporter looking for a scoop, an ex-lover hell-bent on causing trouble, and a dangerous stalker, and suddenly the wedding is poised to unravel in chaos.

But nothing will stop Jules and Robin from getting their happy ending, because along with a guest list featuring the most elite counterterrorism force in the world, they have their own secret weapon - true love.

This is the story I've been waiting for with bated breath for what seems like forever. The story where Jules Cassidy and Robin Chadwick finally get their HEA.

Suzanne first introduced Jules in The Defiant Hero. During the course of the many books that followed, I watched the character of Jules Cassidy, FBI agent, grow and become fleshed out to a point where I became emotionally invested in his outcome. At each growth spurt, I found myself hoping that Suzanne was going to deliver—that she wasn't going to shy away from telling the story of two men falling in love.

Her book just preceding this, Force of Nature, presented me with the tantalizing knowledge that Jules' and Robin's HEA was just around the corner.

In true Brockmann style, she handled it with panache and sensitivity. I was thrilled with the romantic touches she imbued into their relationship; the passionate kisses, the heated glances, the baring of emotions to their core and how they dealt with them.

The tender moments touched my heart: who was going to take whose last name, moments that showed their absolute trust and faith in each other...despite what others around them thought, bouts of very human emotions filled with doubts and insecurities, forgiveness and even humor during some very tense and emotionally charged scenes.

No matter the partners in a relationship, the elements that allow love to grow, evolve and noursi a relationship to greater heights are eloquently captured in this story. It touched me on levels no other has in a long time. Seriously. The emotional depths explored between Jules and Robin will have every romance reader cheering and perhaps dabbing a dewdrop or two from their eyes. Well, I did, at least.

For diehard Brockmann fans, no "Troubleshooter" or "Team 16" story is complete without a worthy conflict to pit against the hero and heroine, or in this case, hero and hero. You will not be disappointed.

Adam (an old boyfriend of both Robin and Jules) is back as both a victim and perpetrator of trouble. I can't decide if I still sort of like him or hate him. One thing for sure, I think he finally gets the point. If not, well, Sam Starrett has a few words to say about that.

Another classic Brockmann trait is the mini-subplot that complements the big story yet is a mini story in and of itself. It deals with two unlikely characters falling in love despite the many obsticles thrown at them as well as internal human issues about feelings that all relationships have to struggle through.

Dolphina is the devoted personal assistant to Robin and Jules, a woman determined to make the wedding goes off without a hitch.

Will is a man torn apart by the taint of his reporter's past. He feels helpless in stopping his reporter instincts from destroying his future. With the wisdom from Will's twelve year old niece, he finally understands how to do it. But before he can put his wrongs to right, Adam screws up Will's big chance too. Can you see why I want to hate Adam? He's like a thorn in everyone's side. If Suzanne ever decides to rehabilitate him, she's got her work cut out for her. What a challenge! So, the question about Dolphina and Will is—will their little sub-romance succeed in All Through the Night or will you have to wait until another book? I'm not telling. Bwahahahaha!

One of the most fun and exciting elements for me in All Through the Night is the whole Brockmann world coming together to celebrate Jules and Robin's wedding. I got to revisit the Jones, the Bhagats, the Starretts, and quite a few others. Because I've followed all thirteen books in the series, this book came with high expectations and I'm ecstatic to say all my hopes were realized.

All Through the Night has it all: passion, frustration, excitement, terror, hot sex, amazement, humor and a happily ever after for Jules and Robin worthy of the talented Suzanne Brockman.



Reviewed by Xeranth

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Review: Acting on Impulse

Acting On Impulse (Midnight Fantasies) (Blaze, 21)
By Vicki Lewis Thompson

Small-town girl Trudy Baxter is ready to take on New York City. She's looking for excitement, adventure . . . and incredible sex! She wants to experience every little thing -- and every type of man -- the city has to offer. Her first target -- sexy Wall Street hunk Linc Faulkner. Only, once she gets Linc into her bed, she's reluctant to let him go...

Linc Faulkner has never met anybody like Trudy. She's so spirited, so sexy, so damn uninhibited! She's his every fantasy in the flesh. Only, Linc knows he's just the first man on Trudy's sexual wish list. So what else can he do but convince her that he can be *any* man she'll ever want -- and the *only* man she'll ever need.

If you have ever had a chance to see for yourself the difference in people's attitudes, especially the attitudes of people from the country or small town life and the cosmopolitan attitudes of people in New York City or Boston, you'll chuckle reading this story.

Trudy Baxter is a woman who goes to the Big City to experience it all. She is willing to embrace the wildness of the city that never sleeps with the emphasis on not sleeping. She intends to have sex—and lots of it. She has the plan and the bed.

Linc Faulkner is a reluctant chaperone. He thinks he's going to be bored out of his ever-loving mind but is going to watch over the newly arrived Miss Baxter as a favor to his best friend, who just happens to be married to Trudy's best friend.

Linc finds himself not only far from bored but ends up way out of his comfort zone. Seems Trudy's idea of embracing her sexual freedom in the big city is shopping at the adult toy store and role playing steamy fantasies that ties Linc up in knots.

No, wait. Those were handcuffs.

There are BDSM scenes that were quite hot and stimulating. Heck, there's even sex in a semi-public space which I would never have the brass ones to do. Never mind the elevator. Vicki Thompson cleverly sidestepped that worn-out ploy.

Ultimately, after every hot encounter has them panting for more from each other, Linc and Trudy's emotions sit up and take notice. They end up running in different directions because of this complication.

Trudy wants no part of love. She has finally escaped her old life and is just getting her first taste of freedom. She doesn't have to share a bathroom.

Linc wants no part of marriage. His parents' relationship is dysfunctional and he has no other reference from marital relationships. He has become a master at avoiding the wedding trap.

However, unknown to both Linc and Trudy, all the extreme sexual fantasies they've been engaging gin so enthusiastically require one fundamental element. Trust. Trust paves the way for love and eventually the "M" word. How long can they hold out against it?

Who says the only way to a man's heart is through is stomach? A few mirrors, a blow-up doll, and a bit of dominance can go a long way too. Acting on Impulse is a fun exploration on how sexual fantasies can enrich a relationship.



Reviewed by Xeranth