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Friday, November 6, 2009

Yes, No, Maybe by Emma Hillman

Yes, No, Maybe by Emma Hillman
Publisher: eXcessica Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (178 pgs)
Other: M/F, Ménage, M/F/M, Voyeurism, BDSM, Spanking
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Holly

What would you do if your husband cornered you one day and asked you to fill out a list asking for your thoughts on every sex act under the sun? Would you think “Fun! I can steal some of these ideas!” or would you get scared that he’s trying to tell you something? That maybe your sex life isn’t spicy enough for him, that he wants more?

Soon after Mia McIntyre completes her list and hands it out to her husband, her life gets turned upside down. At first it’s fun. A lot of fun. Their fantasies are suddenly becoming reality and they both get a kick out of it.

But when other people start getting involved, things turn complicated. Mia pushes on, intent on pleasing Kevin. She loves him after all and she’d do anything for him…wouldn’t she?

Kevin is a hot and hunky pro football player. His wife, Mia, is nothing like the women he used to be seen with. When Kevin gives her the List-a list of sexual activities that can be answered Yes, No or Maybe, she believes it is because he is unhappy with her. She has always been a bit insecure, and wants to do whatever it takes to please Kevin.

Kevin doesn’t realize how she feels, and just wants her to be more outgoing. He sees a beautiful and vivacious woman when he looks at Mia, but when she looks in the mirror, she sees a slightly overweight and shy woman, afraid that she is losing the man she loves. So she agrees to some of the suggestions on the list, like Kevin’s teammate Charlie’s sex party, and that’s when the trouble starts. Can Mia and Kevin get past their misunderstandings, or will her insecurity be the end of everything?

Emma Hillman has perfectly captured the essence of the shy and insecure Mia, the woman who will do anything to keep her man happy. And Kevin is the image of the man who thinks that because he thinks she’s beautiful and perfect, she should believe what he tells her. When Nick shows up and rescues Mia, it sets the stage for the hottest ménage, and helps Mia start to believe a bit more in herself.

There are some really fun escapades here, like the nurse scene, and one or two surprises that I didn’t see coming. For a while, it looks like this relationship is in trouble, but the happy ever after, when it happens, is well worth the wait. This is a terrific and realistic story, and I enjoyed it very much. But be sure to keep your fan on, because this one gets hot!

Sex and Chocolate: Toxic by Belinda McBride

Sex and Chocolate: Toxic by Belinda McBride
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (71 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Holly

There are three things that Dr. Briony Theale loves. Her job as a veterinarian, a good bar of rich, dark chocolate, and Rico, the new ranger in charge of the Wildlife Rescue center. When a casual dinner with the mysterious Rico turns surprisingly intimate, Briony realizes that she might just have a chance with him after all, if only she could lose a few pounds. It's the ultimate sacrifice, but Briony goes cold turkey, and swears off chocolate forever.

Rico Montgomery fell hard for Briony the first time he set eyes on the curvy little doctor. Her brown hair and cocoa skin trigger cravings that he can barely control, and her fragrance is like the sweetest, richest chocolate he's ever scented in his life. That's a bad thing for Rico, because to a werewolf like him, chocolate is literally a toxin.

Rico can't live with it, and Briony can't live without it. And when a certain wandering wolf finds a bag of chocolate in the Dumpster near Briony's clinic, these two will find just how toxic love can be.

Veterinarian Briony Theale has three things she loves. Her job, dark chocolate and the new ranger at the Rescue Center, Rico Montgomery.

Because of her love of chocolate, Briony is not s slim and slinky woman, and she decides if she is ever to have a chance with Rico, she needs to give up chocolate and get in shape. Rico is attracted to Briony just as she is, and he loves her scent, which is a combination of chocolate and woman. But Rico has a secret, and he needs to think long and hard before doing anything that could hurt Briony.

When his alternate ego gets a hold of the bag of chocolate that Briony tosses in the trash, it could be fatal. Can Rico survive his chocolate binge? Will Briony run when she finds out what Rico really is? And will Rico ever live down waking up nude in a dog crate in the veterinary clinic?

Belinda McBride writes with a wicked sense of humor. I love Briony Theale. She takes care of business and doesn’t let things throw her off her game. So what if the guy she’s been panting after is a werewolf. She is a strong-willed woman, and once she faces the reality of what he is, she finds she is more fascinated than scared.

I love that the rest of the pack calls her The Neuter Queen. Rico is embarrassed at first, when he realizes she has seen him at his very worst, being sick and even taking his temperature while he was in wolf form. When Briony understands that Rico is not turned off by her extra curves, she relaxes and enjoys his company.

Ms. McBride has written a warm and funny story, but one also filled with passion, love and hot sex in a vet’s office. I think that is a first for me, but I hope we get to see more of this pack in the future. I recommend this for anyone who wants a smile, a giggle and a hot reading experience.

Shoulda Been A Cowboy by Lorelei James

Shoulda Been a Cowboy by Lorelei James
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (234 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Voyeurism
Rating: Best Book
Review by Gillyflower

The bigger they are, the harder they fall—in love.

Rough Riders, Book 7

Soldier Cameron McKay has found his niche, and it ain’t ropin’ steers and wearin’ spurs. His deputy sheriff job, plus battle injuries that ended his military career, keep him right where he wants to be: Off the ranch and away from his family’s pity. His darkest war memories are on lockdown, leaving him skeptical he’ll ever find a woman who wants a man who’s less than whole.

Domini Katzinski has had to control every aspect of her life since age eleven, when she was orphaned in the Ukraine. Watching others’ relationships crumble has convinced her to focus on the short-term and find a take-charge man to whom she can relinquish total sexual control. Cam fits the bill: gorgeous, with a brooding vulnerability no one else seems to see. Plus, he has his own handcuffs.

Once Cam gets over his surprise that sweet, shy Domini wants to be dominated, he is back to issuing orders. Their passion is as hot as a rocket-propelled grenade—and if Domini has her way, it’s a one-shot deal. Cam wants more, and launches a full-out sensual assault…until tragedy strikes, forcing him to change tactics as he tries to keep past demons from blowing their future together all to hell…

Warning: this book contains down and dirty games of good cop/bad cop, salty language, sweet ‘n hot lovin’, menage a trois, and hooah! a hero packin’ serious heat.
Oh my, do I love the way Lorelei James writes. One scene – a mere five-page prologue – and the whole conflict is established. You don’t have to have read the prior six books in the series (though if you haven’t, why haven’t you?). You don’t have to know anything about Domini or Cam or their childhoods or their history together, because you know who they are, as people, and as people who want each other and have wanted each other for some time.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Ms. James’s books is that the people are real. Domini Katzinski is a young woman from the Ukraine who was forced to flee after the Chernobyl disaster. She’s totally insecure and thinks she’s defective; she’s soft-spoken but loyal. But while Domini may appear sweet and shy, inside she is a firecracker, and she is not afraid to stand up for her friends or to confront issues head on – even when the confrontation involves big, bad and sexy Cameron McKay. And those issues include not just getting him to show his interest in her, but also Cam’s own issues. Domini is not just strong, she’s strong for Cam. When he is embarrassed about his injuries or his nightmares, she doesn’t cuddle, suffocate or baby him. As Cam says, she has “guts”. While she offers Cam a soft place to land, she is no marshmallow. Her inner core is made of steel, and she is all about quiet strength.

Cam is the youngest McKay brother. He did not join the family ranching business. Cam was a career army guy until he lost his leg and his little finger in Afghanistan. He came back from the war wounded, and not just physically. Cam needs lots of space because he has never lived alone before – first he lived with his large family then in the barracks. He takes refuge is his home, and Ms. James’ description of both the place itself and his appreciation for the peace and solitude he finds there is lyrical. You feel like you are really there with him. And the way Cam interacts with his dog, Gracie, reveals so much of the sweet, gentle man he is often afraid to show the world, instead hiding behind his hardheaded, gruff persona.

Both Domini and Cam are scarred and scared; they are both attracted to each other in a fiery blaze of lust; and they are both afraid of a relationship. Domini doesn’t want a relationship because all the relationships she has ever seen have failed. But Domini is not so afraid that she doesn’t at least reach out to Cam. She knows he will be a take-charge kind of man, and wants that in a relationship. As she tells Cam, she has fantasized about finding a man who will take away her choice, who won’t let her be shy about any aspect of sex. “A man who will command me to please him and myself, but who won’t physically hurt me.”

And oh boy, did she ever find that man in Cam. His dominant side is his “real” sexual side. And Domini is surprised by how much she revels in giving over control, as well as how much Cam thrills to her doing so. Domini loves that it is she who can bring out Cam’s alpha side. A side about which Cam is so conflicted – he’s not sure he can be that man because he views himself as incomplete and inadequate, and he’s not sure Domini knows what she’s getting into it and can handle it.

The secondary characters in Shoulda Been A Cowboy, if you can call them that, are delightful. Pretty much the whole McKay family puts in at least one appearance, as do many of their cousins, the Wests. The story is richer for this depth, and it is wonderful to catch up with what is happening with old friends. It also provides almost painterly context for Cam’s concerns and self-doubts. He spends so much time avoiding his family because he is embarrassed about his injuries, and Ms. James shows us how Cam could feel suffocated even if it is by their love and concern. Domini nails it when she finally tells him “Your inability to let your family see, just once, what the damn war did to you physically, makes you emotionally handicapped, and that is way worse than losing your damn leg.”

As always, the McKay women are fine, sassy, independent heroines. Keely is such a fun troublemaker, and her book, “All Jacked Up” can’t come out soon enough for me! The bar scene and ensuing bar brawl with the double-x side of the McKay clan is one of the funniest and yet emotionally honest scenes I have ever read. This is no syrupy women bonding. Interestingly, though you would not think so from their outward personas, Domini and Keely are quite similar underneath.

Ms. James also deftly addressed many tough contemporary issues in Shoulda Been a Cowboy, without sacrificing one iota of the romance or heat. And there seems to be no taboo subject Ms. James fears to broach, including a multiracial ménage. War, disability, Chernobyl, police brutality in the Eastern Bloc, religious groups, nonconsensual medical procedures, spousal and child abuse, and the inadequacies of the foster care system, are all touched upon in some way, always thoughtfully, honestly, and perhaps most importantly, in ways integral to the story.

Shoulda Been A Cowboy is a long and deeply satisfying read. Every single word was needed to build such a richly told tale, with appealing main characters and lots of old friends, scorchingly hot love scenes, and a glorious romance between a couple that faces more obstacles than a military roadblock. If there was a category above Best Book, that’s where I would put Shoulda Been A Cowboy. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Lydia and the Draca by Louisa Kelley

Lydia and the Draca by Louisa Kelley
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (92 pgs)
Other: M/F, F/F, Voyeurism, Multiple Partners, Anal Sex
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Fern

Science fiction geek Lydia Neal's just recovering from her latest relationship crash and burn. When she wakes up in a glowing cave surrounded by enormous dragons, she's pretty sure she's having a sci-fi nightmare. Why would an entire race of shape-shifters be lusting after her? She doesn’t even believe they're real, but why is she so incredibly turned on? Then she meets the smoking hot Draca, Eremon, and there's no turning back. Especially after he shows her the very special kind of ecstasy a Draca male can offer her, whether on the ground or in the skies.

Whatever the obsessed Draca want from her, she's ready to find out. For once in her ordered, boring life, Lydia's going along for the wildest ride of her life...with Eremon and the rest of the Draca.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play, group sex/moresome, same-sex interaction/practices (f/f), sex in shifted form.
Lydia has been having strange dreams about enormous winged creatures with fangs. Night after night, she tries to forget the images of fire and fear, until she wakes inside a strange new reality, surrounded by the very creatures she’s tried to escape in her nightmares. Soon, she learns that she is special, distantly linked to the dragon-like creatures–the Draca. They need her bloodlines to revive their dwindling race, but only if she’s brave enough to rise to the challenge. When she agrees, she is introduced to Eremon, the Draca that is her intended mate. Eremon is attracted to Lydia, but a past heartache prevents him from accepting she has the power to bring life back to his people. Together, they will explore the possibilities of a future together. But will it be enough to save the Draca?

Lydia and the Draca is an interesting story, composed of unique and creative elements. I loved the mythos of the Draca and the history that forced them away from the human world. Eremon is intriguing from the first moment he arrives on the page, and Lydia is memorable as the woman that reignites the long lost passions he believed he would never experience again. The interplay between them is hot and cold, and works to add tension and emotion into the story. It’s not as simple as sharing an attraction and making love. If Lydia conceives, Eremon fears there is a very real chance she can and will die. It’s heartbreaking, but provides the conflict that motivates the decisions of the characters and makes their union all the more gratifying.

My very minor criticism would be that while the story is very well written, I did have to stop and re-read several scenes for clarity and to maintain a clear understanding. Portions of the plot involving Lydia’s history with the Draca and the dangers that will occur during their mating are sketchy, and a few of the sex scenes with Eremon in his dragon form offer innuendo as to what is transpiring, but also leave you questioning if you’re envisioning things correctly. Aside from this, however, I enjoyed the material, and became immersed in the fantastical reality. Dragon stories are always a joy to read, and this is no exception.

Lydia and the Draca is hot, creative, and a great way to spend an hour or two cuddled in your favorite chair. If you’re a fan of the genre, be sure to put this title on your TBR list.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Brazen Love Worth Fighting For by Rita Sawyer

A Brazen Love Worth Fighting For by Rita Sawyer
Publisher: Siren Publishing, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary
Other: M/F
Length: Full Length (179 pgs)
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Jasmine

Jessie Brazen fell hard for Victor Weatherly, hard enough to marry him during a short whirlwind romance. Then everything fell apart and he left. Now, after a three year separation, Jessie decides the best thing for everyone involved is to let him go, forever. After all, it's not like anyone knows they're married, except her sister Samantha. So she writes to him, demanding a divorce.

Victor isn't about to let his wife go without a fight. So they had issues, everyone does, but he knows if she will just hear him out, he can prove they belong together.

"Coming from a big, nosy family, I decided to write about what I know. I invented the six Brazen sisters who will do anything for each other. Hopefully I can give readers a taste of all the ups and downs of falling in love when five other people all have their own opinion of how things should go." ~ Rita ~
Could you see past your fears to recognize the love of your life was standing right there in front of you, especially, considering that you were the one who sent him away in the first place? What would it take for you to get past those fears and let the man of your dreams back into your heart for good? What would it take to convince the woman you love that you’ll never leave her again no matter how hard she tries to push you away? These are just a few of the trials and tribulations that Jessie and Victor will have to come to terms with in order to be together. Or, will all of their good intentions be the final straw that severs their marriage forever?

A Brazen Love Worth Fighting For is a heartfelt story about a woman who has always put the needs of others before her own. Determined to give her sisters the chances she never had, Jessie Brazen took it upon herself to take care of her five younger siblings and her aging grandfather after her mother and father passed away. The eldest of the six Brazen sisters, Jessie is stubborn, hard-headed, beautiful and the bane of Victor Weatherly’s existence. A short, whirlwind romance brought them together in the bond of holy matrimony, but her family obligations and his prior job commitments caused everything to fall apart and sent Victor away, leaving Jessie broken-hearted, leery to trust the opposite sex, and cold inside.

Listening to his uncle and her grandfather, Victor made the decision to give Jessie some time and space after her father passed away. But instead, it gave Jessie time to harden her heart against him. Now, after three years of being separated and being served divorce papers, Victor has returned and is hell bent on claiming what’s rightfully his. He refuses to let his wife and their marriage go up in flames without a fight. Although they had issues, he has conceded that everyone does, but knows if he can convince Jessie to hear him out, he’ll be able to prove to her that they belong together. With the help of Jessie’s sisters, Sam and Bobbie, and his brother Trent, Victor just might have a fighting chance. Can they deal with the decisions that separated them in the past, and agree on the ones that will affect their future? Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Ms. Sawyer provides an excellent portrayal of what it’s like being in a large family with Brazen sisters who will do anything for each, even when it means going against their sister’s wishes because it’s in her own best interest. The characters are easy to identify with because they struggle with real life problems. The sexual intensity between the hero and heroine are enough to set the pages of your electronic reading device on fire. However, there were times that the lack of editing brought me out of the story. Hence, my only suggestion would be that in the next Brazen story, Ms. Sawyer has someone to go over her manuscript with a fine tooth comb. Would I recommend this book to a friend? Definitely! In fact, I can’t wait to get my greedy little hands on the next story. Not only am I hooked, but I’m also not ashamed to admit that I need to know what happens with the next Brazen sister, which I’m hoping is going to be Samantha’s story. Two thumbs up to Ms. Sawyer for bringing readers a compelling story about love, life and the hard decisions that everyone has had to face at one time or another.

Hialeah Heat by Carol Storm

Hialeah Heat by Carol Storm
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Multicultural/Interracial
Length: Short Story (76 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Spanking, Anal play
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Gillyflower

All Kick wants is to help her father win the election. But when the gorgeous Cuban hunk who comes to her bed in secret turns out to be her father's most dangerous political opponent, the cool career woman with the submissive streak finds herself plunged into a whirlpool of lies, scandal, and deadly intrigue.

If you are looking for an erotic quickie with depth, look no further. Hialeah Heat is it.

Kathleen “Kick” Sullivan is the fair Irish daughter of a philandering Florida politician. She has been working as his campaign manager. Kathleen also secretly meets up with “The Master”, and thrills to being slave to the dark-skinned Dom. As Kick says, “the girls at school always used to whisper about the exotic allure of Cuban men. They called it Hialeah heat.” And Ms. Storm brings on that heat. She and the Master enact many scenes, which always end with Kick being spanked to her satisfaction by the cop, the teacher or other authority figure, and then loved to her great delight. These two sizzle together! Of course the identity of The Master is central to the plot, which limits what I can tell you here about her lover, lest I ruin it for you.

But while Hialeah Heat started out along the lines of a Penthouse letter, Ms. Storm was not afraid to tackle the issues facing a young professional woman in that old boys’ club of political campaigns, or the evolving mix of Miami’s population, as Kick tries to get her father to focus on the needs of the Cuban and Haitian immigrants and residents. Moving from the sometimes seedy world of backroom politics to mingling with the crowds, Kick is good at what she does. She struggles to be recognized for it, to maintain her position in her father’s campaign, and to bring her father’s platform into the twenty-first century. Of course the trope of the modern woman who secretly thrills to submission has been done, but Ms. Storm treats it with relative aplomb. At one point, when they are in their public personas, The Master tells Kick just to let something pass. Kick tells him no, because she “know[s] that when it counted she was his equal and not his slave” (at least outside the bedroom).

That said, there were a few things about the picture Ms Storm paints in Hialeah Heat of running a campaign (though we’re never told for what office), that simply strain credulity. Most notably, as her father’s campaign manager and a skilled political operative, I found it unlikely that Kick would be as uninformed about the opposition as she is. So while the political circuit was a great setting for a love story, I found Ms. Storm’s writing to be somewhat naïve about the reality of such a race. But this isn’t a documentary, and the political race provided an excellent forum for Ms. Storm to explore several current day issues and provide numerous obstacles for Kick and the Master to overcome, all alongside a super steamy love story. I will definitely be looking forward to more books by Ms. Storm!

One Shot by Rowan McBride

One Shot by Rowan McBride
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: M/M, Sci-fi
Length: Short Story (130 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Cactus

Nick Carlyle understands the intricacies of his job better than anyone. He lives to crunch those numbers and his skills are valued throughout the company. If his personal life might be lacking, he doesn't notice, especially whenever he steals a harmless glance or two at Riley Jameson's tight body. But he's the boss, and that means look but don't touch.

When a universal flu shot is developed, it's hailed as a miracle, and rightly so. But the seemingly harmless side effects begin to change the world, warping the statistics that Nick's always used to guide him through life. Everything he thought he knew is suddenly upside down.

No one changes as much as Riley. Suddenly the young man is bigger, stronger. He's also aggressive in ways Nick isn't prepared for, and for the first time analyzing the numbers does nothing to help the situation.

Now, his numbers only add up when it comes to Riley.
Unexpected romance springs when a flu shot changes Nick and Riley’s lives. In this day of modern medicine, One Shot offers a twist on the theme of a flu shot. Along with immunity to the sickness causing bugs, people also gain height. Riley is one such man who gains over a foot in height. Others are sprouting up all over and Nick worries he may be left behind. With this concern at the forefront, Nick finally succumbs to pressure and gets his flu shot. Except Nick ends up being in the small percentage that actually shrinks. Nick must wage through insecurity and doubt to understand if the new Riley is really interested in him or just messing with the short boss.

This is a fun and delightful yaoi inspired story with a bit of a twist. Those familiar with the author know of his fascination with muscle growth and any readers with a similar fetish will want to run out and get this book now! The growth Riley goes through is expounded on endlessly as Riley’s new muscles grow just from breathing and tear through several sets of clothes. There are a few too many scenes going into minute detail about this but overall the fun, entertaining theme and voice of the story help carry it over any small problems. Added to this are the hot sex scenes, sure to please fans that enjoy classic yaoi characters. The writing is interesting with a lot of dialogue that helps speed past the few bumps in the story.

A few problems with the story mostly revolve around the character of Nick. The characters in the story from Riley to the secondary characters of Nick’s coworkers are well drawn and infuse interest and vibrancy to the story. Unfortunately the character of Nick tries hard to ruin all of that with his obsessive complaining, negative attitude, and personality change. With the advent of the flu shot Nick goes from a confident, calm, in control man to an insecure, obsessive man who is complaining about everything. Nick refuses to believe anyone could be interested in him since he’s so short now (5’8”) and makes the same mistakes over and over again. This is annoying and frustrating but the other characters in the story helped me get over this problem. Additionally while the concept of the flu shot increasing muscle growth is far fetched, this is really just the motivation to reverse Riley and Nick’s characters into the more classic yaoi personalities.

Overall, if you can get past the whining of Nick, this is a fun and enjoyable story. The concept is weird but unique and the quick pace makes this a fast read. The character of Nick will turn some readers off and the overly graphic muscle scenes won’t be to everyone’s taste but for the most part I rather enjoyed the story. This will definitely appeal to readers and the light hearted tone will entice many.

Love Inferno by Desiree de Cleaves

Love Inferno by Desiree de Cleaves
Publisher: Extasy Books
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller
Length: Full Length (208 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Oleander

Grady McIntosh seems to have it all. Fed up with his upper class, educated American life, Grady heads to his ancestral birthplace and claims the Scottish inheritance. Hoping to find a renewed passion for his existence, and perhaps to meet his one true love, Grady really wants to marry and have a family. He was, after all, not getting any younger and besides that, did the woman of his dreams actually exist? Could she be the source of his discontent?

Destined for destruction, the sinister Nero Anderson loves Willow Muldoone. Nero's insane fantasy starts with his desire to marry the beautiful goddess and lose himself entirely in her charms. Willow represents all that is good, and becomes his perverse hope to live for another day.

Willow Muldoone, the prize sought by both men but claimed at a price. The race was on, even though no one realized just how difficult the race would be. Charming Willow, winning Willow, will be one of the hardest games Grady has ever played. Even if it costs him everything, he's willing to give that and more for the love he never dreamt he'd find. Grady McIntosh is playing to win.
In the small northern village of John O’Groats in the Highlands of Scotland generations of magical prophecy are in the air and about to take hold on young Willow Muldoone. She is a beautiful young woman who has sworn off men, all men, saving all her passion for her love of books and history, making time only for her family: a twin sister just as beautiful and her small twin niece and nephew. Little does she know that her life is about to be turned upside down with the arrival of American Grady Macintosh. Grady has come to the small village as his grandfather Malachi has passed on and left him his home. Giving up his job and his life in America, he is eager for some peace while he mourns the passing of his parents only four months prior.

One look at Willow and Grady is in love, and sets out to spend time with her, starting by asking Willow, since she is a book and history buff if she would like to scavenge through his granda’s collection. His ingenuity in getting her to spend time with him was very endearing to me.

Willow finds she is excited and eager to take advantage of the opportunity. More that than, she is overwhelmed with a magnetic pull towards Grady that she can’t explain. An attraction she never thought she would have for a man. Little do either of them know that a prophecy has foretold their love. I could definitely relate to Willow's confusion at her sudden attraction to Grady.

Through magical twists and turns it is somewhat hard to find a bond with the characters as the story jumped around quite a bit with summed up storylines and quick endings. Although the two lead characters were adorable in their love for each other, this whimsical read just felt as though the happy ending was rushed. Despite these sometimes confusing plot twists, I did find Grady and Willow's love engaging and a very touching read.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Candy Houses by Shiloh Walker

Candy Houses by Shiloh Walker
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (111 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Holly

So you think you know fairy tales? Guess again.

Grimm’s Circle, Book 1

Greta didn’t get her happy ending her first time around. And now that she’s a Grimm—special kind of guardian angel and official ass-kicker in the paranormal world—romance is hard to find. Besides, there’s only ever been one man who made her heart race, and the fact that he did scared her right out of his arms. Now Rip is back. And just in time too, because Greta needs his help.

On a mission he knows is going to test all of his strengths and skills, the last person Rip expected to see is the one woman who broke his heart. Working together seems to be their only hope. But, when faced with a danger neither of them anticipated, the question is, how will they face the danger to their hearts—assuming they survive, of course.

Warning: Dark, sexy, a little bit scary—this fairy tale is only for grownups and is best saved for bedtime.

The Brothers Grimm got it all wrong. But then, they wrote fiction, and Greta’s story was all too real. I imagine the disclaimer the Grimms could use if they were modern writers is “the names have been changed to protect the innocent”. After all, who would believe the true story of Hans and Greta anyway?

Behind the slightly scary fairy tales written by the Brothers Grimm, is a totally horrifying truth much stranger and more awful than the brothers could ever imagine. Greta and Hans were not actually brother and sister, and Greta’s stepmother was far from the loving parent, at least where Greta was concerned. And when Greta revealed what Hans had been doing to her late at night in her childhood bed, stepmother decided to rid herself of an unwanted problem. Now, five hundred years later, Hans is just a bitter memory, and Greta is a Grimm-no, not an author of childrens' stories, but an immortal protector, and kind of guardian angel. When she comes up against a malevolent power stronger than any she’s had to face, will she accept the help of her one time lover, Rip, or will she try to stop it on her own? More important, can Rip forgive her for walking out a century ago and work with her to save the world?

In Candy Houses, Shiloh Walker has given a new twist to a couple of classic fairy tales. Greta is a strong character, a survivor in more than one sense of the word. She goes the extra mile to protect those she feels are worth it, but doesn’t hesitate to stop evil when it surfaces, usually in the form of demons possessing innocents. Yes, she will kill the host if that is the only way, but she does everything possible to avoid it. When she meets up with Rip (yes Van Winkle), she tells herself they will not become involved. But Rip has other ideas, especially since his assignment and hers seem to overlap this time. The attraction is always there, simmering in the background as they do what has to be done to stop the spread of evil.

I have to say, the supporting characters are interesting too. There’s Mandy, the Goth girl who is much more than she seems. Fae, the rogue Grimm, bringing demons over from the netherfields for her own purposes. And there’s Will, who’s, well, it isn’t really explained other than he seems to be the boss. I wanted to know more about all of them!

The passion and feeling between Greta and Rip is hot, and the sex is over the top. Can they join forces to protect Mandy and defeat Fae? Can they save the world, at least for now? And can Rip win the heart as well as the body of Greta, for a long denied happy ever after? I guess you’ll have to read Candy Houses to find out. But be warned: this is NOT your mother’s fairy tale.

Pirate Rules by Evanne Lorraine

Pirate Rules by Evanne Lorraine
Publisher: New Concepts Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (55 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Fern

What starts out as a naughty diversion becomes the ultimate high risk game for two strangers in the night. Ryder trusts only himself and that's the way it has to stay for this undercover operative. Zara craves a man who can dominate her submissive spirit . . . but the sexy pirate seems intent on driving her crazy with sizzling desire while withholding the release she craves.

Zara yearns for domination to release her passion. Ryder was born to dominate and a sex slave who serves him with sensual pleasure is his kinkiest dream. They are the perfect couple -a made for each other match. Except Ryder insists on having clear consent before their erotic game moves to the next level. Zara needs all control stripped from her writhing,
wanton body.

Playing Pirate and Captive may be the hottest hours of her life or it may be a dangerous gamble with her heart. When, cautious, Zara asks about the rules of game, she learns that her new master only plays one way--Pirate Rules.

When Zara Sterling decided to take a pleasure cruise, she had no idea the lusty pirate of her fantasies was waiting just around the bend. The problem is Razor Brinks, aka Ryder Goodman, is not entirely as he seems. Working deep undercover, Ryder cannot reveal himself to the woman that is more than happy to play at being the perfect submissive. When he’s contracted to put the lovely brunette in her place by the captain of her cruise ship following her curt dismissal, he chooses to take her hostage instead. During their time together the truth will be manipulated, boundaries will be tested, and a whole lot of sultry sex will take place. But when the case is closed and Ryder has to send Zara on her way, will he be able to let the woman of his dreams go? Or will he decide to keep her permanently collared as the love-slave he desires most?

As contemporary/pirate stories go, this one has a very good and believable plot, and aside from a few editing problems, is well written. Zara is on a vacation away from the world, while Ryder is a man that just wants to return to normalcy. Her trip takes an odd turn when she shuns the captain of the ship and Ryder is told he must put her in her proper place if he hopes to gain the contact he needs for a drug case. Unable to harm the beautiful woman he met on the beach just hours before, he kidnaps her instead. From that point on, it’s raw, unadulterated heat. Sparks don’t fly, but rather, bombs explode. On a physical level, it’s spot-on, and you’ll be more than satisfied with those sizzling pages.

The issue I had, unfortunately, was I was never able to connect with the characters on an emotional level. When they fall in love with one another, it’s very quick and unexpected. That’s not to say two people can’t fall head over heels for one another overnight, but in this circumstance, they don’t even know anything about each other aside from minor nuggets of knowledge. The basis for their bonding arrives courtesy of M/s and D/s, and I would have enjoyed a bit more interaction versus the tidbits regarding the comparisons Ryder made between Zara and the young woman from his past that set out to ruin him.

Even still, Pirate Rules is a story I enjoyed that definitely got my blood pumping. I loved the twists and turns along the way, and didn’t put the book down at any point from start to finish. All pirate fans need to read this one, and should be sure to place it on their TBR list if they haven’t already. The “Pirate and Captive” scenes will stave your naughty cravings, the BDSM role-play is combustive, and Ryder is a hero you won’t soon forget.

Beauty's Stone Beast 2: Tarrah's Dream by Shiloh Darke

Beauty's Stone Beast 2: Tarrah's Dream by Shiloh Darke
Publisher: Gypsy Shadow Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (49 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Mistletoe

For centuries, Bastian, the second brother cursed to live as a Gargoyle, has wished for an end to his imprisonment, but no rescue has come. He has resigned himself to his fate. He even tells himself he doesn’t mind it, because, during the light of day for the past several years, he has discovered freedom in his dreams. In them, he has come to know, and love, a woman he believes, is too good to be real.

Tarrah has been invited by her best friend, Rachel, to move to France for as long as she likes. Between working a job she hates for a boss she despises, and the fact she has always wanted to be in France, the decision is an easy one for her to make. Why? Because she just knows the man of her dreams is there. He’s just too good to be a figment of her imagination. Isn’t he?

Neither realizes what fate has in store for them. Neither knows the test they must pass in order to be together. Will love prevail and give them the happy ending they desperately need and deserve? Or will the test prove to be too much for their fragile love?

Tarrah has always felt drawn to France. From childhood she has found and loved everything to do with France. So when she is all grown up and her childhood friend Rachel invites her to come and live with her in France for a time, Tarrah excitedly agrees. Working at a law firm for a sleazy hands-on-in-every-way lawyer Tarrah has nothing holding her back. After saying goodbye to her mother she boards a plane towards her destiny. Since her teen years her recurring dream of a castle and a man in hiding have grown more and more intense. Tarrah knows in her gut that they had to do with France and when her chance comes she could not and would not throw it away. Every time she goes to sleep she dreams of him hoping and wishing in her waking hours that he was real and not just her made up fantasy.

Bastian is one of a family of brothers who have been cursed to exist as stone gargoyles by day. He has found a way into Tarrah’s dreams in his daytime imprisonment. He has no idea that she is real and not just a dream of his, until Rachel brings Tarrah to France and has her staying in his tower. When he sees her in the flesh Bastian must get Tarrah to accept him as he is plus she must also pass a test to release him from his curse.

Can Tarrah love Bastian as he is once she finally sees what he is? Will she know when her test comes and can she pass this test to free Bastian?

Shiloh Darke writes a great story that entices the reader into her world and keeps them enthralled until the end of the story. I loved the depth of the love that Tarrah and Bastian feet for each other even before they met in person. The trust that Bastian puts in Tarrah is a wonderful thing and she does not disappoint. Tarrah loves with her whole heart and no matter what, she loves Bastian in any form and is set on proving it to him.

This story was a great and quick read. I cannot wait to see which brother the next installment will be about. Definitely a not to be missed book, I will be on the look out for more from this author.

Summer Sizzle by Samantha Gentry

Summer Sizzle by Samantha Gentry
Publisher: Cobblestone Press
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Length: Short Story (146 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Oleander

Do opposites really attract?

Can a man living only for today have anything in common with a woman who needs to carefully plan every moment of her life?

The tragic loss of his six year old son made Blake Callahan give up on the future. He lives only for today, having learned the hard way that no one is guaranteed a tomorrow. Could Victoria Templeton, a woman so consumed with tomorrow that she doesn't allow today into her life, help him find his way back? And will Blake help Vicki realize she can't shut out today without it costing her tomorrow?

Victoria Templeton just walked into the wrong beach house... or did she? She has the key and the lease agreement, but there is a man inside claiming that this is HIS house and she needs to leave.

Black Callahan has rented the house from his good friend for the next year to get away from it all. Now he's shaken up when this anal retentive--albeit beautiful--woman walks into his rented house demanding that he leave, not to mention the fact her killer cat is after his blood.

Vicky can’t believe she wrote away half her bank account to a man claiming to be the rental agent for the property she needs for the next five months. She came with her cat, claws and all, and refuses to leave.

Vicky may be anal but she is an accountant and she has her life plan and every minute of her life must and always does follow a very precise schedule. No exceptions. Until Blake comes into her life. She doesn't know the pain he's hiding, and when the truth comes out, she sees him in a whole new light. He's not the shiftless beach bum she thought he was.

Watching the two main characters struggle to find their way was humbling. I did feel the love story happened a little too fast for me. But, Vicky and Blake’s lives are in such need of that love the story made me laugh and smile at a happy ending I was rooting for since their first interaction. I would recommend this read. It's a beautiful love story, with a psychotic cat and almost devastating misunderstandings. Vicky and Blake find their way through the darkness finding happiness in each other and a love they can count on.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rescuing Amanda by Honey Jans

Rescuing Amanda by Honey Jans
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press Torrid
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (169 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Spanking
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Fern

FBI agent Donovan Steel is posing as the owner of Dominion, a BDSM club, to catch a serial killer. He’s frustrated, horny, and striking out when a spicy bit of fresh air walks into the club. Amanda Powel, a tabloid reporter in disguise, causes a scene that attracts every red-blooded male in the club.

Amanda, hoping to write a breakout story to get back into legitimate reporting, has made several unsuccessful forays into the sex club. The real Dom’s are all leery of her and the wanna-be’s just keep pissing her off. When a masterful hunk stalks her way, claiming her, she believes her luck is finally changing.

Donavan decides to give Amanda a taste of BDSM to divert her and winds up hooked. Soon, they’re both in too deep. Through clouds of suspicion and lust, they must learn to trust each other to solve the case.

When reporter Amanda Powel visits a BDSM club, she’s interested in penning a story on the lifestyle. She’s intrigued by the dynamic that allows women to submit to men willingly, because she doesn’t have a submissive bone in her body. But the knowledge she walks out with is a whole lot more than a simple lesson on the inner workings of a D/s relationship.

FBI agent Donovan Steel is working undercover at the BDSM establishment owned by his cousin in an attempt to weed out the person responsible for attacking women outside the club. One night shared with the cheeky investigate reporter brings out the Dom in him, and he shows Amanda exactly what she’s missing. But it’s not all fun and spankings when a killer targets Amanda and Donovan is forced to step out of the shadows to protect her.

Rescuing Amanda is a fast paced and enjoyable read that has humor, great sex, and protagonists you’ll love. Donovan is both infuriating and gorgeous, and Amanda is as saucy as she is sweet. When they banter back and forth you’ll want to laugh, and when they get down and dirty you’ll want to thank them. The element of suspense will keep you guessing and the tightly written material will snare your attention.

A wonderful read that I enjoyed, I recommend Rescuing Amanda.

Her Mother’s Killer by Melissa Schroeder

Her Mother’s Killer by Melissa Schroeder
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (204 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Gillyflower

Althea Johnson wants to leave the past behind, but the memories of her mother’s murder lurk in her dreams. She tries to ignore them until someone drives her off the road, then begins sending her sick letters. Althea returns to the small Texas town where the murder happened, planning to solve the case herself. Her main problem is avoiding the sheriff, her old crush, Duncan Perry.

Duncan can’t believe his best friend’s little sister has grown into such a wonderful bundle of curves. At first he's stunned by his reaction to her, but never one to be slow, he starts putting the moves on her. It isn’t until he's completely seduced by her that he realizes she's putting herself in danger to solve the old crime.

As they fall in love with each other, the stalking and danger escalates. Women matching Althea’s description are being found raped and murdered. The new lovers must now work overtime to figure out just what went wrong twenty years earlier, but the mysteries they will reveal could jeopardize everything they're fighting for.

Thea’s mother’s killer may be after her as well, but Sexy Sheriff Duncan Perry has other plans. Melissa Schroeder’s story is a classic romantic suspense – one of my favorite genres -- and Her Mother’s Killer did not disappoint.

Thea was married for ten years to a big city cop and ran her own restaurant. After a lackluster marriage, a bitter divorce and some disturbing stalker-like encounters, Thea Johnson returns to Crocker, Texas, the small town where she was raised. Everyone in Crocker knows everything about everyone else, including the tragic tale of the murder of Thea’s mother 20 years earlier, accompanied by the disappearance of her father. Her older brother, Jed, went deep undercover after their parents were murdered and is often difficult to reach. Crocker is home and Thea has come home to heal.

Thea is a wonderful character full of sass and energy, fully capable of handling whatever life throws at her. She may be down when she comes home, but she is definitely not out. I really enjoyed Ms. Schroeder’s portrait of Thea as a strong woman – which didn’t mean that she never had self-doubts or was tempted to lean on a man – but if anything this inner dialogue made her a well-rounded, compelling and likeable character.

Duncan Perry is Jed’s best friend. He too has recently returned to small town Texas life. He has taken over as Sheriff of Crocker following an injury as a Texas Ranger that coincided with a tragic romantic loss. Duncan has a reputation as something of a ladies’ man and no one thinks he is the marrying kind. But one look at Thea and Duncan is floored. The attraction between these two, which they fight so hard, is sizzling. And it is fun to watch them lose that fight!

Quite a few secondary characters populate Crocker, but they are all interesting and have their place in the story and in moving it along, including Thea’s best friend, Gwen, another sassy woman who is Jed’s ex-fiancee; and Duncan’s uncle and younger brother, both of whom pursue Thea enough to bring out Duncan’s most possessive streak. Even Thea’s selfish, cheating ex-husband makes an appearance. Each character brought depth to this story.

Her Mother’s Killer was filled with suspense and a plethora of plausible suspects. Various law enforcement officials, past and present help untangle the clues, when they’re not making things more complicated. I won’t say more here because I don’t want to spoil the mystery.

But at its core, Her Mother’s Killer is about two people who tried their hand at love and the big time, who come back to their home town limping and wounded, to find that they turn each other on like no one else ever did before.

Overall, I found Her Mother’s Killer an enjoyable story. However, there were some style issues in both narrative and dialogue, as well as repetitive wording or words that were just missing. There were also occasional continuity errors with respect to body parts. Normally I would not mention these items when reviewing an ARC, but the combined effect was to draw me out of the story to wonder at the lackluster editing, rather than focusing on the story itself. A few minor plot points likely wouldn’t bear up under much scrutiny, and certain aspects of the story got a lot of attention but then were just left sort of dangling. Also, and this is a personal pet peeve, I would not make central characters’ names so close because that is simply distracting. In summary, this is a good story, just not put together quite as well as it could have been. That said, the intrigue, well-paced plot and compelling characters kept me reading the story through the ending.

Her Mother’s Killer is a solid story with a hero and a heroine that I enjoyed getting to know, some suspenseful twists and turns, and some hot loving. While I have not read anything else by Ms. Schroeder, I look forward to trying some of her other books.

Lust or Love by Lillith Payne

Lust or Love by Lillith Payne
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Length: Short (140 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Cherokee Rose

Carly was careful not to contact Glen after their one night of passion, accepting his affections without guilt, rationalizing their encounter as exploration. She left him without saying goodbye, wanting more but afraid he wasn't ready for commitment. She didn't anticipate the desire she'd still feel for him a year later.

Glen throws himself into his work after his ex-wife's betrayal, determined never to give his heart away again. But after one night of amazing sexual abandon with Carly, he can't stop fantasizing about her. When he sees her at his brother's wedding a year later, he's overwhelmed by the memories they share, the way she felt, smelled, tasted...

After the weekend festivities are over, Carly fears Glen will return to his private world, one she doesn't think she belongs in. But now Glen is reluctant to walk away when Carly has him so mesmerized. This time around, are they ready to determine whether it's lust or love they're feeling?

"This story formed in my mind shortly after receiving the invitation for my high school reunion. Having moved away shortly after, I began to wonder what happened to my friend, Patricia, and her older brother I used to fantasize about. This is my version of one way things might have worked out." ~ Lillith ~

Carly has accepted her one night with Glen for exactly what it was — a one-night stand. Or so she thought.

Carly walked away from Glen after sharing a night of passion with him because she knew what she wanted from him going in. Glen wasn’t in the mind frame for getting involved in a committed relationship. Carly just wanted her chance at pleasure and she gets it.

After the way his ex-wife hurts him, Glen isn’t looking to become seriously involved with another woman. It would help if he could take his mind off of Carly. It was only supposed to be one night — unexpected, but one night. Yet, with an inevitable reunion coming up, Glen knows he has to do something about Carly, the woman that has plagued his every thought since she walked away from him.

I really liked Carly and Glen. They were character’s I could easily relate to. They were both fighting attraction that neither of them seemed to think they wanted. So why couldn’t they stop thinking about each other? I also liked how the story was broken down. The book was well paced and the plot well developed. Ms. Payne provided us with just enough back-story to fill the reader in on what happened without dragging it out.

Lust or Love is highly engaging and enjoyable. Do yourself a favor and pick up this character-driven romance. You’ll understand why Carly and Glen can’t stop thinking about each other, because I can’t stop thinking about them either! I look forward to reading more from Ms. Payne, in the future.

How to Tame a Cougar by Dee Carney

How to Tame a Cougar by Dee Carney
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Interracial
Length: Short Story (53 pgs)
Other: M/F, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Shawna never tried to deny the attraction to her young Greek coworker, Damian. Intensely handsome with a heavy accent, he is the object of her fantasies. It's no wonder when he mistakenly overhears her call his name while masturbating, he decides it's time to ignore the age difference she shies away from.

Getting her to fall for his seduction takes on a slight challenge when they realize their age difference is even bigger than they both first assumed. It's not going to be a problem, though. So long as she keeps that spark in her eyes when she looks at him, he knows just how to tame a cougar.

"Although Damian and Shawna are fictional characters, some of the circumstances at the hospital setting in this book are based on real-life events. Take a guess at which ones they are. I pulled stories from my own personal dealings as well as stories from co-workers. Sometimes every day life is better than fiction!" ~Dee~

How to Tame a Cougar is not your typical May/December story. Ms. Carney is a true wizard of the written word, weaving a tale that had me feeling the characters' dreams and emotions and then laughing until my sides hurt.

Talk about laughing until you cry. I know I did right from the first page. I could feel Shawna’s age as her back screamed from lifting Mrs. McDermott out of the wheelchair but then the loose bladder happened and I couldn’t stop laughing. This is how the entire story is woven. I could picture every scene as it happened and kept pulling for Damien to break through Shawna’s barriers regarding their ages.

The characters in the story were incredibly realistic. I could see myself in the character of Shawna since I am also in the Cougar age bracket, some aches and worried about what looks proper. I have a friend just like Ashlee who pushed Shawna to open her eyes regarding Damien. But it was the character of Damien who I loved the most. His perseverance in breaking down Shawna’s barriers and willingness to do whatever she wanted to assure their happiness showed me a maturity that many older men lack.

I found How To Tame a Cougar to be not only a sexy, hot story but one that is hilarious also. I know I’ll be rereading this short again and again. Kudos Ms. Carney for another winner.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Home for the Holiday by Wendy Stone

Home for the Holiday by Wendy Stone
Publisher: Phaze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full (174 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by: Fern

Kenna McEwen is sent into a panic when her mother calls to invite her home for the holidays. This past year hadn't been very good to her and the idea of meeting up with her sister, pregnant by the man that Kenna had planned to marry, makes her anxious.

Nicolas Grefield is Kenna's best friend, so she turns to him to make this trip easier to bear. She cons Nicky into pretending to be her boyfriend in front of her parents. Nicolas likes the idea and decides they should use it with his parents as well.

But Kenna has no idea how seriously Nicky wants to actually be her boyfriend, and how badly he wants to take her home as his actual fiancee. Now will Kenna go along with him so that they might have their own perfect trip "Home for the Holiday?"

Home for the Holiday is a story that has arrived at the perfect time, right before the Christmas season.

Kenna and Nick have been friends for years, but each have fantasized about something more. Upcoming trips to see their families provide the opportunity to explore their undeniable feelings. Neither wants to appear alone at their yearly family gatherings, and arriving with a date seems like the perfect solution. But it’s not going to be easy. Kenna has to confront her cheating ex-fiancé, as well as the sister that married him following their affair. And Nick has to stand up to his controlling parents and force them to accept Kenna as the only woman he’ll ever need. The journey along the way is one you don’t want to miss. You’ll experience all of the wonderful emotions that accompany those sparkling Christmas lights–joy, happiness, cheer–as well as those less than happy moments when family tension takes front and center. Ms. Stone has done an exceptional job at keeping the tone light and witty, while exploring themes of trust, betrayal, and forgiveness. You’ll laugh, you’ll tear up, and before it’s all said and done, you’ll believe in holiday magic.

I loved Kenna and Nick and felt they were perfect for one another. Their attraction is notable from the moment they meet on the page. It’s the kind of relationship that has a fighting chance because they truly are the best of friends. As the old saying goes, the best friends make the best lovers. The theme with the cheating sister and ex-fiancé is also well done. It’s not written bitterly, but rather, is addressed in a very witty and humorous fashion. Why spend time hating the person that brought you together with the man you were meant to be with? The same can be said for Nick’s scheming mother. While you’ll detest her, you’ll realize that her horrible methods only serve to bring the protagonists closer to one another in the end.

This is the kind of book you curl up with when it’s cold outside and you can see steam rising from the mug of hot chocolate on the nearby table. Maybe you can take it a step further by cuddling up in a chair with a nice fleece blanket, with some soft Christmas music filtering through the background.

Either way, be sure to snag a copy of Home for the Holiday.