Review Round-Up Jan ’15

Hi readers, we are well into January now but we do hope that you enjoyed the holiday season and that you have a Happy New Year. I am amazed that over the last month Tina and myself have managed to review fifteen books and hope that you enjoy reading all about them.

Romance is certainly a strong theme for the following books but we still cover the historical, contemporary, chick-lit, erotica, paranormal and sci-fi (and festive) genres, as well as having a paranormal thriller/horror and a crime drama in the mix too!

As always, you can click on the book title for the full review and more!

Caroline & Tina ❤

temptinghismistress800Tempting his Mistress by Samantha Holt, historical romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: What could possibly induce at woman to follow in the footsteps of her mother and further sully her reputation by becoming a mistress?

Lilly Claremont is well used to being at the centre of gossip. Being the illegitimate child of a rich businessman never failed to titillate the gossips and while she cared little about the wagging tongues she never intended to reinforce their opinions of her by ruining herself completely.

But it seems Lord Hawksley is determined to make the fascinating Lilly his mistress…

Evan has no doubt her bold tongue and beautiful body could keep him entertained for some time. Captivated by her, he must find a way to burn through his desire for her. He cannot marry a woman of such social standing so why not make her his mistress?

After the murder of her father, Lilly is searching for answers and they lead her directly to Lord Hawksley. But will they also lead her to his bed…?

All I Want for ChristmasAll I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver, contemporary holiday romance, chick-lit (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: It’s Bea’s first Christmas with her baby son, and this year she’s determined to do everything right. But there is still so much to do: the Christmas menu needs refining; her café, The Honey Pot, needs decorating; and she’s invited the whole neighbourhood to a party on Christmas Day. She really doesn’t have time to get involved in two new people’s lives, let alone fall in love…

When Olivia gets knocked over in the street, however, Bea can’t help bringing her into The Honey Pot and getting to know her. Olivia’s life is even more hectic than her own, and with her fiancé’s entire family over from Ireland for Christmas, she shouldn’t be lingering in the cosy warmth of Bea’s café. Chloe, on the other hand, has nowhere else to go. Her affair with a married man has alienated her friends, and left her lonelier than ever.

But Christmas is a magical time, and in the fragrant atmosphere of The Honey Pot, anything can happen: new friends can be made, hearts can heal, and romance can finally blossom…

A True Alpha ChristmasA True Alpha Christmas (novella of the True Alpha series) by Alisa Woods, new adult, paranormal romance (reviewed by Caroline)

STAND-ALONE NOVELLA – best enjoyed after reading the True Alpha Box Set (Vol 1-6)

Blurb: Shifters live in the shadows of Seattle, just under the skin of the alpha male, dot-com entrepreneurs who are building a new Silicon Valley in the Emerald City. Mia is your everyday college girl, trying to earn her business degree—and a shifter who’s long hidden her identity from everyone, including her mother, who believes shifter is synonymous with criminal. Six months ago, sexy and powerful alpha-male Lucas rescued her in an alley and claimed her for his mate. Now Mia’s heart belongs to Lucas, and everyone in the world of shifters understands the magic of their mating has bonded them for life. But in the human world, there’s no wedding ring on her finger to show for it. With Christmas looming, Mia’s mother wants to finally meet Mia’s mysterious and high-powered live-in lover. With her human and shifter lives about to irrevocably collide, Mia fears there will be nothing but broken hearts in the end.

A True Alpha Christmas is 80 pages or 20,000 words. This novella can be read as a standalone, but readers will enjoy it more if they read the True Alpha serial (Vol 1-6) first.

23249978Long Gone Girl (short story) by Amy Rose Bennett, erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: After returning home from the Korean War a widow, former MASH surgical nurse, Ginny Williams, heads to the Jersey Shore for a weekend of much needed R&R. But her plans to do nothing more than relax on the beach go seriously awry when the boy who broke her heart on Prom night nine years ago—the now hotter-than-hot ‘fly-boy’ Jett Kelly—shows up on her patch of sand. To make matters worse, Captain Kelly seems to be on a mission to win her trust, and maybe even her heart again. But the last thing Ginny wants is a man—especially one like Jett—in her life. She’s a career nurse now, and that’s that. If only Jett wasn’t so damned charming and attractive

US air force pilot, Captain Jefferson ‘Jett’ Kelly Junior is blown away to have stumbled across the beautiful yet shy and bookish girl he used to have a huge crush on in high school—especially now that Ginny is all grown up and sexy as hell. Problem is, she’s also not backward in coming forward when letting him know she hasn’t forgiven him for the Prom-kiss-gone-wrong incident. Even though Jett knows he’ll have his work cut out for him to get a second chance with her, he’s definitely going to give it his best shot…

Despite Ginny’s determination to keep her head—she’s certainly not the naïve girl she used to be—when Jett starts to unashamedly woo her, she soon realizes that maybe her heart didn’t get the memo…

FallingDragons-200x300Falling Dragons (Moon Shadow series #3) by Angela Castle, erotic paranormal romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Drugged and running for her life, Dragon Princess, Ophelia, jumps off a rooftop to escape her captors.

Immortal Demon Hunter Simon, is shocked when he catches a falling, redheaded woman. His surprise is short-lived when he faces not only a vicious demon, but those hunting his newly acquired redhead.

In desperate need of protection, and knowing he is her mate, Opie spell-tethers the sexy Demon Hunter to her, not realizing he’s a seventeen-hundred-year-old dragon slayer.

The sexual chemistry explodes between them as they fight each other, in and out of the bedroom. Together, they must battle an evil enemy set on unleashing a soul-sucking demon army into the world, threatening to destroy everything they hold close to their hearts.

Bethany's Heart (Unearthly World #3)Bethany’s Heart (Unearthly World #3) by C. L. Scholey, sci-fi erotic romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Amidst the snow and icy wasteland, Earth has become a watery grave to many. Zargonnii warriors Finn and Blu search for any remaining human females. Luck abounds and six females are found struggling to survive. The moment his blazing red eyes settle onto Bethany Finn feels in his heart she is the one he wants to end his loneliness. When Bethany encounters two massive aliens, eyes alight, long white hair wildly flying, she knows the pair are either death or salvation. Their encounter leads Bethany on the wildest adventure of her life. After the Zargonnii ship is annihilated by the enemy a shuttle leads Finn and Bethany straight into the path of peril more times than the couple care to count.

Help, I've Been Abducted by an Alien!Help, I’ve Been Abducted by an Alien! (short story) by Juliet Cardin, sci-fi erotic romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Jen joins an alien-abductee group in order to secretly write an article on the subject. Her plans take an unexpected turn when she encounters a UFO in her neighborhood park and gets abducted for real.

Lysander, her sexy captor, informs Jen he’s not taking her home. Earth, he confides, is soon to be impacted by an asteroid and then invaded by a hostile lizard race. Jen is determined to find a way to escape Lysander–who is hell-bent on having her for himself–and return to Earth, before it is too late to prevent its annihilation. 

drug_final_ResizedDrug (The Kassidy Bell trilogy #1) by Lynda O’Rourke, paranormal thriller, horror (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Out of work and out of luck, 19 year-old Kassidy Bell finds herself in desperate need of money.

Coming across a mysterious advert in her local newspaper offering a reward, Kassidy believes she’s found the answer to her prayers.

But Kassidy soon realises that if something is too good to be true then it usually isn’t what it first appears to be. Finding herself in a desperate situation, Kassidy realises that she must run if she is to escape the new horrors she has discovered however great the reward might be.

21948425Mr X by Clarissa Wilde, dark, erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

18+/Adult Read

Author Note: This is not your average romance story. Some people will kill for love.

Blurb: He’s come to kill me. I’m a user and abuser of my own body. In my darkest hour I sold my soul to the devil and now I must pay the price. With his gun to my head I have no choice but to listen and obey, but I refuse to go down easily. Nothing is stronger than the will to survive. My instincts kicked into full gear the second he stepped into my motel room.Except when I look at him I see my own heart staring back at me. A history tainted by blood.I don’t know his name, but I know he wants me. To save myself I’ll sacrifice my sanity. My body. My soul. Something tells me the x-shaped scar that marks his eye is the only escape I have. He is Mr. X: the man who comes to claim my life. Can I save myself before he demands my heart?

WARNING: This book contains very disturbing situations, dubious consent, breath deprivation, strong language, drugs and alcohol, and graphic violence.

SHEIKH Boxed WebTaken by the Sheikh (Boxed Set) by Christina Phillips, Mel Teshco & Cathleen Ross, contemporary erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Book 1: Hostage to the Sheikh ~ Mel Teshco

Sheikh Shahzad Salah al Din doesn’t have time for hearts and flowers, not when his parents’ bodies are barely even cold in their graves and his country, Omana, is on the brink of revolt. He has to secure peace by honoring a long ago arrangement to make English rose, Lexi Galvin, his wife. The trouble is strong-willed Lexi isn’t aware of her royal Arab lineage let alone her destiny. There is only one way Shahzad can guarantee she will be his queen … and he isn’t above using force to get it.

Book 2: The Sheikh’s Mistaken Bride ~ Christina Phillips

In order to secure a powerful alliance for his country, Khalid has no choice but to marry a neighboring princess. It’s not what he wants, but duty must come before pleasure. Yet when he meets the beautiful Sanura he changes his mind… only to discover the virgin in his bed is not his destined bride.

Book 3: Sold to the Sheikh ~ Cathleen Ross

He’d paid a fortune for his bride and he was determined to collect, whether she liked it or not. Rafi Salah al Din doesn’t trust easily. In charge of security for his country Omana, he devotes his life to duty. With his parents murdered it is his duty to stabilize his country by finding his parents’ assassin, marry and produce a son to ensure the Salah al Din line lives on. So why does the wife he bought disagree?

HGF_CoverHeart Grow Fonder by Cristy Rey, adult contemporary romance (reviewed by Tina)

Wrong place. Wrong time. Right people.

Jessie Bravo knows what’s wrong with her life; she just doesn’t know what to do about it. Eleven years ago, she saved Tyler Cantrell from getting his ass kicked by gay-bashing high school jocks. Since, they’ve been the closest of friends. Years later, Jessie circled the drain of chronic depression, spiralling out of control, and it was Tyler’s turn to save her. Who knew her best friend would become a Hollywood A-lister? Though Jessie credits Tyler for keeping her together, living in the shadow of her best friend’s celebrity isn’t all it’s cut out to be. It’s up to Jessie to figure out what she has to do to be happy: get better or get lost.

Stardom is on the horizon for British television actor Boyd Kerrington. He’s starring opposite Tyler Cantrell in an American feature film sure to blow his career out the water. For all the years he’s focused on his career, however, he’s settled in his personal life. That is, until he meets Tyler’s best friend, Jessie. Jessie is refreshingly cool, passionate, and compelling…but she’s also complicated. Worse yet, she’s not interested in remaining in the celebrity stratosphere, even for her lifelong friend.

22855324-2Triple D Dude Ranch by Beverly Ovalle, erotic western contemporary romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Blaire is a freelance photographer on assignment. She is heading home to Texas, armed with her camera to do a photo feature for the Tribune. Taking photos of the dude ranch, she gets an eyeful of an uninhibited cowboy through her lens. The summer heat of Texas has nothing on the heat he generates in her.

Dan was expecting a photographer but not the sexy urban cowgirl that arrived. He knew it was hot out, he just hadn’t expected the hot and sexy woman to make him burn the minute he caught sight of her. One look and he had to quench this fire inside.

One touch between Dan and Blaire sparks a wildfire that burns hotter than the Texas summer and is just as hard to put out.

Playing the Field (Duty & Desire, Book 4)Playing the Field (Duty & Desire #4) by C.J. Pinard, contemporary military romance, chick-lit (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: An overachiever in uniform…

Jace Lawless is an overachiever, a go-getter, and determined to accomplish everything he sets his mind to. After serving his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, and receiving his college degree, he’s picked up by a popular minor league baseball team, all while continuing his service in the USMC reserves.

When Jace meets a beautiful, breathtaking single mother named Miranda Cates, it takes him by surprise. Her shady past and beautiful little girl are the conundrum that both confuses and fascinates Jace. He can’t tear his thoughts away from Miranda, and eventually he believes he can win her over with his dimpled smirk and witty charms.

Once Miranda becomes his, the part of him she hated the most – the part he had kept secret from her for so long – rears its ugly head. Will Miranda lean on her friend Cara for support while staying by his side once he tells her that duty is calling… or will she decide she can’t handle it and take her daughter and leave?

Playing the Field is the fourth and final installment of the Duty & Desire series. Contains adult situations and minor scenes of war. 

Chris Collett 7 Dead of NightDead of Night (A Tom Mariner Mystery #7) by Chris Collett, police procedural, crime drama, thriller (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: When a young woman disappears on her way home from work, Detective Inspector Tom Mariner tackles his most challenging investigation yet!

18-year-old Grace Clifton vanishes on her way home from work in the centre of Birmingham late at night, the case is remarkable in that not a single witness comes forward. The more he has to deal with Grace s wealthy and overbearing father, Council Leader Bob Clifton, the more Tom Mariner is inclined to believe that Grace left of her own accord.

Then the package arrives. It contains Grace s clothes, neatly pressed and laundered. A second woman disappears. And a disturbing pattern begins to emerge.

Still adapting to a new investigation team and struggling to pull its members together, Detective Inspector Mariner is about to tackle one of his strangest, most challenging cases to date.

OnceuponarakeOnce Upon a Rake by Samantha Holt, historical romance (reviewed by Tina)

In Victorian England, Little Ellie Browning swiftly discovered happily ever afters did not exist and rakes were simply rakes. When the man she had adored for years kissed her and left her heartbroken and she was forced to marry an elderly earl to save her reputation, she resolved to put any dreams of fairy tales aside.

Seven years later, the now widowed Eleanor, Countess of Hawthorne, has returned to England after years of travelling and is now part-owner of a cotton mill left to her by her late husband.

But the owner of the mill, and the very same handsome rake who hurt her years earlier, has no desire to let a woman interfere with his business, let alone little Ellie Browning—no matter how fascinating he finds her since her transformation from coltish scarecrow to almost graceful countess.

Lucian is still recovering from the after-effects of one of his mills succumbing to fire, and now he’s fighting to save the other in a tough economic climate. He doesn’t need this new distraction, especially when, after a series of accidents, it becomes clear someone wishes the mill to close and he has to find the culprit—fast.

With things heating up between Ellie and Lucian, it’s apparent that not only is the mill in peril—they are both at risk of getting burned…

~ **Recommended Festive Reads** ~

 Fun, Flirty and Dirty Reads!

Between us we have put together a list of fun, flirty and downright dirty  *cough, cough* festive reads, from across the sub genres of romance and including all heat levels. Some of these we have reviewed and others are on our reading list. If you have any recommended seasonal reads we would of course love to hear from you too! Tina and Caroline ❤

8691521 (2)All I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver, seasonal contemporary romance, chick-lit (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: It’s Bea’s first Christmas with her baby son, and this year she’s determined to do everything right. But there is still so much to do: the Christmas menu needs refining; her café, The Honey Pot, needs decorating; and she’s invited the whole neighbourhood to a party on Christmas Day. She really doesn’t have time to get involved in two new people’s lives, let alone fall in love…

When Olivia gets knocked over in the street, however, Bea can’t help bringing her into The Honey Pot and getting to know her. Olivia’s life is even more hectic than her own, and with her fiancé’s entire family over from Ireland for Christmas, she shouldn’t be lingering in the cosy warmth of Bea’s café. Chloe, on the other hand, has nowhere else to go. Her affair with a married man has alienated her friends, and left her lonelier than ever.

But Christmas is a magical time, and in the fragrant atmosphere of The Honey Pot, anything can happen: new friends can be made, hearts can heal, and romance can finally blossom…

A True Alpha ChristmasA True Alpha Christmas by Alisa Woods, New Adult paranormal romance (reviewed by Caroline)

STAND-ALONE NOVELLA – best enjoyed after reading the True Alpha Box Set (Vol 1-6)

Blurb: Shifters live in the shadows of Seattle, just under the skin of the alpha male, dot-com entrepreneurs who are building a new Silicon Valley in the Emerald City. Mia is your everyday college girl, trying to earn her business degree—and a shifter who’s long hidden her identity from everyone, including her mother, who believes shifter is synonymous with criminal. Six months ago, sexy and powerful alpha-male Lucas rescued her in an alley and claimed her for his mate. Now Mia’s heart belongs to Lucas, and everyone in the world of shifters understands the magic of their mating has bonded them for life. But in the human world, there’s no wedding ring on her finger to show for it. With Christmas looming, Mia’s mother wants to finally meet Mia’s mysterious and high-powered live-in lover. With her human and shifter lives about to irrevocably collide, Mia fears there will be nothing but broken hearts in the end.

A True Alpha Christmas is 80 pages or 20,000 words. This novella can be read as a standalone, but readers will enjoy it more if they read the True Alpha serial (Vol 1-6) first.

CANDY CAIN by C.L. Scholey - Click Image to CloseCandy Cain (short story) by C.L. Scholey, seasonal HOT romance, erotic (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Candy is on top of the world. She’s a high priced corporate lawyer with expensive cars, time on her hands, and money to burn. Although, she has no one to burn it on, except for a yearly ritual of buying toys and treats for the needy at Christmas time.

Cain is an egotistical enigma. A very deprived and hurting enigma, who feels wishes are for fools. A car accident leaves them stranded together, and the two have no choice but to warm each other’s cold bodies, lest they freeze to death.

As the temperature dips outside, the heat begins to sizzle inside. Candy and Cain, though worlds apart in society, begin to feel perhaps they have more in common than either could ever wish for.

Will they both discover the miracle of Christmas wishes isn’t just for the very young? 

PastelsJingleBellsPastels & Jingle Bells (a Heavenly Bites novella) by Christine Feldman, seasonal contemporary romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Trish Ackerly never expected to cross paths with Ian Rafferty again, but when she spots the former bully of her childhood years through her bakery window, she thinks she may just have been given the best Christmas gift ever: the opportunity to finally give Ian the comeuppance he deserves.

But clearly she does not have a knack for this whole revenge thing, because before she can make good on her plans, Trish gets inadvertently drawn into Ian’s life in an unexpected way that lets her see just how different the man is from the boy he used to be. In fact, much to her astonishment, she actually starts to like the guy. A lot.

Trouble is, Ian doesn’t know who she really is, and explaining it to him is going to be a little difficult now—which is bad news, because Trish is starting to realize that all she really wants for Christmas this year… is Ian.

HarkOfficialCoverHark: A Christmas Collection by Justin Bog, contemporary seasonal short stories (to be reviewed by Caroline)

Book Description: A beautifully written collection of short stories from critically acclaimed Pacific Northwest writer Justin Bog, Hark explores the range of emotions surrounding the holidays. From melancholy to madness, loss and despair to hope and forgiveness, these six tales shimmer with feelings, some we’d rather stuff away, that Christmas can evoke.

Set in colorful locations around the United States, from Anacortes, Washington, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Sun Valley, Idaho, each tale focuses on people who struggle to make good choices, learn lessons, and maybe even find peace during the holiday season.

A bonus story, Poseidon Eyes, from Booktrope’s upcoming reissue of Sandcastle and Other Stories—The Complete Edition, is included.

It’s A Vampire Christmas, by Lia Davis, Erotic Paranormal Romance (recommended by Tina) 23286346

Blurb: Alasdair Morgan, vampire lord of the south Atlantic region of the United States, and his mate, Gideon, are on the search for an ancient journal. The secrets the book holds within its leather binding can be used to destroy their race’s queen, Lilith. When they finally find the journal, they discover it has been sold to an antique store. However, a female with her own agenda has her sights set on possessing the book.

Some gifts come in twos…

Being a half-breed living among humans, Rhianna Howell knows the importance of secrecy all too well. When she discovers one of the lost vampire artifacts, she doesn’t waste time in collecting it before it falls into the wrong hands. But keeping the journal safe from evil will put her in the seductive path of two vampires who claim to be her mates.

The days and nights heat up this Christmas as she discovers a fiery passion she can’t deny or run from.

23607358The St Nicholas Day Wager, by Em Taylor, sensual Historical Romance (recommended by Tina)

Blurb: As the clock in White’s hallway chimes midnight on St Nicholas’ Day morning, Lord Nicholas, Viscount Eastden makes a stupid wager. Somewhat foxed, he agrees to a wager which states that he can marry the spinster sister of the Earl of Thornwich by Christmas eve. If Thornwich wins the wager and Eastden fails in his quest to marry her, he will get ten thousand pounds and vice versa. Having grown up on neighbouring estates, Nicholas can’t figure out why a nice girl like Gabriella failed for so many seasons on the marriage mart.

Gabriella appreciates the viscount’s honesty when he explains the wager. Knowing the dire straits of her family’s finances and her brother’s addiction to gambling, it seems that marriage to Nick may be the only option. But can she overcome his cruel words from their childhood when he taunted her about the strawberry birthmark on her face which blights her appearance?

After such a rocky start, can the Spirit of Christmas find its way into the lives of Nick, Gabriella and their families or will injury and grievances from the past keep them apart forever?

Christmas Seduction, by Samantha Holt, sensual Historical romance novella (recommended by Tina)

Blurb: In a time when marriage had little to do with love and everything to do with money, Alexander Fenhurst, Duke of Wyndbourne, 23638480never expected a love match. But he also didn’t expect his wife to run into the arms of another man only a month after their nuptials. Having discovered her in the embrace of another man—and well aware of her dislike of him—he did what any self-respecting man would do. He left his Scottish estate and spent almost a year climbing the Alps and indulging his passion for adventure.

But no amount of adventure will change the fact he needs an heir. Resigned to the knowledge he somehow needs to win over his wife enough to allow him in her bed, Alex returns to Scotland for Christmas to celebrate… and seduce.

Emma Fenhurst, Duchess of Wyndbourne, has spent almost a year alone and miserable. She hadn’t expected much from her marriage, but she had at least expected a child or two, and Alexander had never seemed a cruel man. But after their fleeting first month of marriage, he tired of her and fled to France. Lonely and desperate for a child, the news of her estranged husband’s return summons her courage and determination. By the end of the Christmas celebrations, she will be with child and intends to do all she can to draw her husband into her bed. However, while she means to share her body with him, some secrets must remain just that—secret.

Will the festive period bring them closer together or will their plans draw them further apart? Is there any chance for an arranged marriage to bring happiness… and maybe even love?

Naughty List, Boxed set of Erotic Romances, by the Naughty Literati, a group of authors who’ve come together to showcase their epic talents in stories filled with powerful 516RdlENJcL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX318_SY318_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA318_AA300_SH20_OU02_eroticism and satisfying romance. Our tales range from heartwarming and sweet to scorching hot erotic, medieval to futuristic, humans to aliens and shape-shifters, vanilla committed couples to kinky ménage fun. (Recommended by Tina)

Blurb: THE NIGHTWIND’S VISIT, by Charlotte Boyett-Compo: Be careful what you wish for. The NightWind hears every whisper, every sigh, every need and he’s coming to grant your every wicked, wanton desire. DEAR SANTA…I WANT A MAN FOR CHRISTMAS , by Marianne Stephens: Frustrated with untrustworthy men, Melissa orders a man doll. When delivery guy, Nick, shows up, she has second thoughts about how to satisfy her needs. PRELUDE TO A MOST UNUSUAL MARRIAGE , by Katherine Kingston : Guilty secrets torment widowed Elizabeth Fitzhugh. A Christmas visit to the Earl of Chisenholm offers redemption, if she can find the courage to grasp it. NO GENTLEMAN, by Francesca Hawley: Librarian Abby Kelly comes west finding a roguish shapeshifter who desires her. Will Goldwolf is no gentleman, but Abby discovers he’s just what she wants. JEWEL’S MENAGE CHRISTMAS, Berengaria Brown :
The excitement has left Jewel, Donovan, and Oscar’s relationship. Jewel plans to spice things up, but will Donovan and Oscar rise to the challenge? TUNE ME UP, by Lainey-Jo Charles: Jason catches Dani having an intimate moment with a recording of him singing to her, and is ready to move them from friends to forever. ON THE EIGHTEENTH OF JANUARY, ’78 OR, A NIGHT AT VALLEY FORGE, by Regina Kammer : During the infamous winter of ‘77-‘78 at Valley Forge, two soldiers fanboy over their
charismatic leader, General George Washington. THE CHRISTMAS LEOPARD by Lynne Connolly: Two gorgeous Italian hunks save art restorer Sandi when she accidentally summons an ancient evil from a mosaic. Their methods are unconventional—and scorching hot! CHRISTMAS BAD GIRL , by Trinity Blaico: She only had one wish this Christmas. To find the one man who was strong enough to master her in bed and out. HOW THE ALIEN STOLE CHRISTMAS by Belle Scarlett: On board a deep space station Christmas Trent learns her sexy cyber lover, who may not be human, wants to steal her for his own. MERRY CHRISTMAS, KITTEN by Nicole Austin: Sirena Petra wants one thing for Christmas—an orgasm. And sex toy expert Kenyon Fort has exactly what the lion shifter needs to find more than just her happy place. VIKING IN TARTAN by Suz deMello :
Medieval romance from the Highland Vampires series. A Viking raider brings change to little Clan Kilbirnie, especially to the chieftain’s daughter, Rhona. HOLDIN’ ON by Alexa Silver: Rock star Max is terminally ill. When Aislin falls into his life, rocking his world, everything changes. Is she his Christmas miracle?

Caroline’s Top Reads 2014

Hi readers, it’s that time of year again when Tina and myself have lots of fun going through our reviews of the past year and choose our favourites to share with you! And, wow, there are so many it is difficult to narrow them down!Australian xmas card (2)

This is the end of our second full year and we cannot thank you all enough for following us and sharing our posts. We have made so many friends, be they authors, bloggers, agents, publishers and more, it has been overwhelming. We have received our first Christmas card from Australia (pictured), which was an absolute pleasure to receive. It’s amazing to see the sun and summer holiday reminders when the usual card for us is full of snow, log fires and dark evenings.

We hope that you have had a great year and are looking forward to the festive season. We are looking forward to sharing it with you. And I hope that you enjoy us sharing our favourite reads. Tina’s Top Reads will also be coming your way very soon. And here are mine!

Please click on the titles for my full review and much more info!

Contemporary Romance

Books of this genre and some contemporary rom-coms have been a big hit for me this year, and Helena Fairfax’s The Silk Romance was an absolute pleasure to read. It was written so beautifully, powerfully and thoughtfully, and certainly a read you will not forget! It is a Cinderella-type story that is highly intense and completely grips the reader. I have also likened it to some high-profile romance movies in my review as some aspects are similar and captivating!

TheLoveofMarisol_WP2014The Love of Marisol by Christos Toulouras is a short story of love and loss, but with the possibility of finding new love after. It is, again, very powerful and emotive, beginning as quite a dark and realistic read (although fiction). Taking only around an hour to read, it was one of my favourite reading hours of the year!

Contemporary Rom-Coms

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda's Story)As well as the serious side of romance, it is always uplifting and refreshing to read some fun reads, even though they still hold a serious undertone. The book that enlightened me in this manner is C.J. Pinard’s Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story) (Duty & Desire #3). It is my favourite book of the Duty & Desire series. It is a light-hearted, fun and cheeky read. And I love how C.J. Pinard follows both Miranda’s career, as well as her romances, and at the same time the reader sees a different side to the friendship that Miranda has with Cara.

An Autumn CrushWanting to read a seasonal book at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson. It was a Bridget Jones style read, with plenty of humour and a real feel-good and refreshing feel that really captured the time of year. And with some sombre storylines for some characters it has an awful lot going on, but is still relaxing and fun to read.

Historical Romance

Summer in RyeLucy Oliver’s novella Summer in Rye is an incredibly intense short story, with power and the ability to grip the reader. Following a new governess to children that have been badly affected by smallpox, and a master that is tyrannical, Eva only has one choice: to turn to the master’s brother, who was once engaged to her. Passion reignites between these two, but after he lied before, can Eva really accept him back?

Paranormal

Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter #1.5)To top off my favourite paranormal reads is Tim O’Rourke’s Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter #1.5). Last year the first of the series, Vampire Seeker, was one of my favourites, and again this series has really thrilled me. It has everything from vamps, shifters, action/adventure and time travel! The romance and passion is also very intense, making for a very HOT read! This is a series not to be missed, and I cannot wait to review Vampire Watchmen (Samantha Carter #2) in the new year!

And, not always a huge fan of short stories, this year has certainly changed my point of view. I used to think that to create great characters that full novels would be more fulfilling. However, there are a number of short stories in my top reads this year and a certain series of short stories really blew my mind – Alisa Woods’ True Alpha series. There are six shifter stories, which follow Mia and shifter Lucas, their attraction and heat for each other! Yet, the dilemma is that Lucas lost his last mate, and being to close to another is just not an option. But, when rival shifters kidnap Mia, Lucas has to face his true feelings. Each story is complete with action, heat and intensity. Shifter fans will LOVE this series. Here are the links to each review:-

Desired (True Alpha #1)

Guarded (True Alpha #2)

Hunted (True Alpha #3)

Captured (True Alpha #4)

Sacrificed (True Alpha #5)

Claimed (True Alpha #6)

I am also hoping to review another short A True Alpha Christmas over the coming days before the big day. And, in the new year Alisa Woods will be releasing her Dark Alpha short story series!

Soul RebelNow, for my second entry of author C.J. Pinard we have Soul Rebel. This is my favourite novel of C.J.’s. With plenty of action, suspense and romance it really does have it all. The characters and storyline are brilliant. Nolan loses his soul during a kiss with a female succubus in a nightclub and he only has 7 days to claim his soul back! Time constraints cause the tension and really make the pace quick. Plus there are many surprises which make it an exciting read.

Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #1)Recommended for the younger adult (15yrs+) Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal trilogy #1) by Pat Spence is an enchanting and fairytale-like read with supernatural mystery and horror. It is highly recommended to fans of the Twilight saga, but without the vamps. It follows the idea of eternal youth, ancient links and an attraction between Emily (17) and the handsome Theo. It is highly emotive, with a great eerie atmosphere as the reader gets sucked in to the mystery. Blue Moon is a fantastic beginning to this trilogy.

Horror

Moonshine (The Moon Trilogy, #3)This year saw the final instalment of Tim O’Rourke’s Moon trilogy, Moonshine (The Moon trilogy, #3). A paranormal horror series that has it all; action and adventure, vamps, weres, heart-warming moments and plenty of surprises. The running theme through the trilogy is whether or not vamps and weres can exist in peace together. Or, will they both have to try and annihilate each other? Will the love of Winnie be enough to hold it all together? (Clicking on the links for books 2 and 3 may spoil the storyline for those who haven’t read book one.)

Moonlight (The Moon Trilogy #1)

Moonbeam (The Moon Trilogy #2)

Crime Thriller

COLD CALL BOOK COVER - with blood SAFE COPYCold Call by Colin Llewelyn Chapman, was an instant like for me. After being likened to author Martina Cole, Luther (BBC tv series) and with a pinch of Fifty Shades, Cold Call proved to be a gritty, well-planned read that follows both the suspect and the police with their investigation into the deaths of several women from seedy backgrounds. This is another read with surprises along the way that will keep you gripped until the end.

21 Hours - Dustin Stevens_1Dustin Stevens’ 21 Hours is full of action and suspense as an uncle and ex-con is attempting to save his two year old niece after she has been kidnapped. Being an ex-con he is not entirely trusted by the authorities, but he is so desperate that he will do anything! I have likened it to some action movies, such as Lethal Weapon, Commando, Ransom and Con Air as there are some elements of these in the book and especially in they way it left me feeling after I had read it. It is also another read that is quick-paced, partly due to the time that it is believed that the young girl has left!

Ooh, and now for some Festive Contemporary reads

As an added treat, and because they were brilliant reads, I thought I would share the following two festive reads:

CANDY CAIN by C.L. Scholey - Click Image to CloseC.L. Scholey’s Candy Cain is a short 55 page read that is festive, hot and full of suspense. After being snowed in during a blizzard and left on a desolate road, with only the stranger that she dislikes after briefly bumping into him earlier, the only way they can keep warm is by body heat! Hmm, I wonder where this will lead and what the outcome will be for them? There are also heart-warming moments and an underlying storyline about helping those in need.

All I Want for ChristmasAnd finally, a full-length story with a Christmas build-up, new friendships and a new romance in Amy Silver’s All I Want for Christmas. Beginning from the fourteenth of December, the story is written with each chapter being a new day in the lead up to the big day, when there are plans at The Honey Pot café for people of the neighbourhood to meet for a party of food and friendship for the lonely.

I have read many more great reads that I cannot possibly add due to the amount I have here. Crossing many genres, I always hope that there are reads in here to suit many, and I feel that there is a great mix of both published and indie authors.

I hope that you enjoy our posts and would like to thank each and everyone of you for following and supporting us. I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and an absolutely brilliant New Year!

Caroline Barker 🙂

If you would like to check our Top Reads of 2013 to recap on our previous year, you can do so here:-

Caroline’s Top Reads 2013

Tina’s To Reads 2013

 

 

*REVIEW* All I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver

All I Want for ChristmasTitle: All I Want for Christmas

Author: Amy Silver

Genre: Contemporary holiday romance, chick-lit

Release date: November 25th, 2010

Publisher: Arrow

Length: 325 pages

Blurb: It’s Bea’s first Christmas with her baby son, and this year she’s determined to do everything right. But there is still so much to do: the Christmas menu needs refining; her café, The Honey Pot, needs decorating; and she’s invited the whole neighbourhood to a party on Christmas Day. She really doesn’t have time to get involved in two new people’s lives, let alone fall in love…

When Olivia gets knocked over in the street, however, Bea can’t help bringing her into The Honey Pot and getting to know her. Olivia’s life is even more hectic than her own, and with her fiancé’s entire family over from Ireland for Christmas, she shouldn’t be lingering in the cosy warmth of Bea’s café. Chloe, on the other hand, has nowhere else to go. Her affair with a married man has alienated her friends, and left her lonelier than ever.

But Christmas is a magical time, and in the fragrant atmosphere of The Honey Pot, anything can happen: new friends can be made, hearts can heal, and romance can finally blossom…

REVIEW

This is a fab read for this time of year, not only due to the heart-warming and romantic storyline but also because of the layout, with each chapter being a date in December, beginning on the fourteenth and leading up to the big day!

It is written from Bea, Olivia and Chloe’s points of view and follows them through different times each day which really opens the characters up for the reader to get to know and enjoy.

For Bea, she wants to have her first Christmas with her young son. She has been through so much and deserves a fantastic year. After losing her husband two years before, she is now running the café, the Honey Pot, that her and her husband had started together. The previous year was quite a low point for Bea as she sunk into depression and drink, with her mother looking after her son. Which is why this year is so special. As well as this, Bea wants to hold a Christmas party at the Honey Pot on Christmas evening for the people of the neighbourhood, friends and for the lonely to have somewhere to go.

We meet Olivia early on in the story when she gets knocked over outside the café and Bea goes out to assist, bringing Olivia into the Honey Pot and having a chat over a nice, hot drink. This is really the beginning of a great friendship between these two characters. I feel that the author has taken great care with her writing to build these characters up and create a closeness between them. It is written well and is a flowing read which is easy to follow.

Olivia is about to get married to her boyfriend, Kieran. However, when his family comes over from Ireland in the run up to Christmas, she finds that she is having a stressful time feeding and entertaining them, as well as working. Not only this but when Kieran’s family begin suggesting wedding ideas and their future together, i.e. kids, when to have them and how many, Olivia begins to get a little cold feet and doubts whether she is doing the right thing. And, has she really slept with enough men yet?

It is a demanding time for her and she just wants things to remain the same for Kieran and herself. If she pleases him and his family her wishes will never be met. Plus, she knows she will never go through the getting-to-know-you stage again and is this just all too much to bear?

Meanwhile, one of Bea’s best friends, Sam, begins to really get to her. Sam has always been popular with the ladies and it isn’t unusual for him to have a new girl on his arm every week or so. Bea doesn’t really know why he is bothering her so much. They have always been close – only being next door he has looked after Luca, her son, and been there to talk to, lend things to, etc. And she has always known he was one for the ladies. But, Sam seems to be turning up recently when she’s in the middle of something, he seems to be getting closer to her and he gets under her skin at times.

It becomes apparent that Sam has feelings for Bea. This creates a brilliant will-they-won’t-they storyline. Bea knows that Sam has always been there for her, but does she feel that strong about him? And even if she does, she cannot betray her husband, Marco.

And then there’s Chloe. Chloe is introduced as a cold and rude character, having an affair with a married man and not really having much thought for anyone else. When it is first realised by Olivia and Bea that Chloe is in a relationship with a married man, they react quite judgemental towards her, which in turn brushes her up the wrong way. She retaliates by speaking harshly to Bea about her husband, as she sees Bea as the married man’s wife. However, she really doesn’t know Bea’s truth and has judged her completely wrong. But, despite this shaky start, is it possible for a friendship to blossom?

Surprisingly, Chloe was a character I really enjoyed. Even though she has been involved with a married man and comes across quite cold and haughty to begin with, I felt her character made the longest journey and she really is quite nice underneath it all. She seems to come to her senses and realise just how lonely she really is. She doesn’t fit in with her family and excludes herself to an extent from their visits as she is her own person really. I really admire this about her, as it does take strength to go your own way especially when you know it will be a lonely venture.

All I Want for Christmas is a perfect festive, heartfelt and relaxing read, and a reminder that people do have problems but that they also get through them. It is touching, but at the same time leads you into an excitement for the holidays, at the same time as being a relaxing read.

All I Want for ChristmasAll I Want for Christmas is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Caroline’s Current Reads – Nov ’14

Hello readers, it has been a while since I have made a list of my current reads, and although you are probably aware of our recent reviews, I thought it would be a great idea to share what my reads are going to be between now and the New Year.

There is a nice collection of contemporary romances, chick-lits, sci-fi, paranormal, crime, as well as a travel/non-fiction. If you are a fan of historical romances and/or erotica there will also be reviews from Tina and a current reads post from her soon.

Amongst my reads there is the newly released, A Way From Heart to Heart (a contemporary romance), from the amazing Helena Fairfax, All I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver (to add some festive cheer) and books from Torrid Books (an imprint of Start Publishing) and Wattle Publishing!

We hope you enjoy them!

Caroline 🙂

Cursed & Obsession (Cursed Trilogy, #1 &2) by Georgina Hannan, Young Adult horror/paranormal

CursedCursed blurb: A young adult story about a group of four friends who embark on a holiday together to the georgeous countryside of Dartmoor, Devon. Each of them hoping for an adventure, something they will always remember. However, it isn’t long before they get what they want.

The group are plagued by noises after hearing the myths and legends of the area. Is it just overactive imaginations or is there a visitor in the spare room who is trying to get their attention?

Join the group on a spectacular journey as they discover what Dartmoor has to offer.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

ObsessionObsession blurb: There’s a fine line between Obsession and Madness.

After a strange and exciting holiday, Daisy is looking forward to the new start University life will bring.

A life changing assignment makes her question the fine line between Obsession and Madness.

Can she tell the difference?

Can you? 

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

A Way from Heart to HeartA Way From Heart to Heart by Helena Fairfax, contemporary romance

Blurb: After the death of her husband in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway’s world collapses around her. Kate’s free time is spent with a charity for teenage girls, helping them mend their broken lives – which is ironic, since her own life is fractured beyond repair.

Reserved, ex-public school journalist Paul Farrell is everything Kate and her teenage charges aren’t. But when Paul agrees to help Kate with her charity, he makes a stunning revelation that changes everything.

But can Kate take a risk with her son’s happiness as well as her own?

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

The Girl In Between (The Girl In Between Series Book 1)The Girl In Between (The Girl In Between #1) by Laekan Zea Kemp, fantasy

Blurb: Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.

But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive. 

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

All I Want for ChristmasAll I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver, chick-lit/contemporary holiday romance

It’s Bea’s first Christmas with her baby son, and this year she’s determined to do everything right. But there is still so much to do: the Christmas menu needs refining; her café, The Honey Pot, needs decorating; and she’s invited the whole neighbourhood to a party on Christmas Day. She really doesn’t have time to get involved in two new people’s lives, let alone fall in love…

When Olivia gets knocked over in the street, however, Bea can’t help bringing her into The Honey Pot and getting to know her. Olivia’s life is even more hectic than her own, and with her fiancé’s entire family over from Ireland for Christmas, she shouldn’t be lingering in the cosy warmth of Bea’s café. Chloe, on the other hand, has nowhere else to go. Her affair with a married man has alienated her friends, and left her lonelier than ever.

But Christmas is a magical time, and in the fragrant atmosphere of The Honey Pot, anything can happen: new friends can be made, hearts can heal, and romance can finally blossom…

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

79840-front2bcoverTequila & Tea Bags by Laura Barnard, chick-lit/contemporary romantic comedy

Blurb: Sent to live with her cousin Elsie in the Yorkshire countryside, Rose has only one thing on her mind; joining her friends as a club rep in Mexico.

When she hears about a council incentive offering the promise of free flights to the person who clocks the most volunteering hours at the local care home, she’s got her plan set.

But she doesn’t plan on bonding with the old ladies, going after the village bad boy and trying to persuade Elsie not to become a Nun.

Soon she’s questioning who her real friends are and whether her old life is one she wants to return to.

Can the village win her over and will she win the chance to leave it behind? Will she even want to?

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Bethany's Heart (Unearthly World Book 3)Bethany’s Heart (Unearthly World #3) by C.L. Scholey, sci-fi romance

Blurb: Amidst the snow and icy wasteland, Earth has become a watery grave to many. Zargonnii warriors Finn and Blu search for any remaining human females. Luck abounds and six females are found struggling to survive. The moment his blazing red eyes settle onto Bethany Finn feels in his heart she is the one he wants to end his loneliness. When Bethany encounters two massive aliens, eyes alight, long white hair wildly flying, she knows the pair are either death or salvation. Their encounter leads Bethany on the wildest adventure of her life. After the Zargonnii ship is annihilated by the enemy a shuttle leads Finn and Bethany straight into the path of peril more times than the couple care to count.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Dead of NightDead of Night (The Tom Mariner series, #7) by Chris Collett, crime drama/procedural investigation

Blurb: When a young woman disappears on her way home from work, Detective Inspector Tom Mariner tackles his most challenging investigation yet”
18-year-old Grace Clifton vanishes on her way home from work in the centre of Birmingham late at night, the case is remarkable in that not a single witness comes forward. The more he has to deal with Grace s wealthy and overbearing father, Council Leader Bob Clifton, the more Tom Mariner is inclined to believe that Grace left of her own accord.
Then the package arrives. It contains Grace s clothes, neatly pressed and laundered. A second woman disappears. And a disturbing pattern begins to emerge.
Still adapting to a new investigation team and struggling to pull its members together, Detective Inspector Mariner is about to tackle one of his strangest, most challenging cases to date.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Love BitesLove Bites: A Collection of Short Stories by Valeria Kogan, romance

Blurb: Love Bites is the provocative debut collection of short stories by Valeria Kogan. From heartbreak to redemption, Love Bites provides a spellbinding interpretation of love and friendship, glamour and guilt, secrets and deceit. Each story provides a captivating insight into the world of love; its profound impact and effect; and how women relate to their partners. This cleverly constructed collection of short stories will leave you tantalized and yearning for more. Love Bites is a must-read for every modern woman, reader of romance and romantic enthusiast.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Travel BitesTravel Bites by The Hungry Traveller, non-fiction

Travel Bites is a collection of short stories that criss-cross the globe. It is the first work by The Hungry Traveller who has combined his two great life passions: travelling and eating!

The Hungry Traveller has been travelling for the last fifteen years and, along the way, has experienced many different sights, tastes, smells and cultures. Central to his travel experiences has been the role of food. Through his unique and very personal style of storytelling, you too can share in the highs and the lows of his stories from around the world. At the end of each story is a recipe for a dish inspired by his adventure.

Travel Bites will capture your imagination and curiosity; and will leave you yearning to plan your next holiday, adventure or escape!

The Hungry Traveller is a travelling enthusiast who loves to eat! When travelling, he enjoys meeting new people and engaging with locals to learn about their culture, history and the food that they eat. He is ‘currently between trips’, saving money, but always has his passport on hand, ready for his next adventure! He always likes to hear about other peoples’ travel experiences and your thoughts on his book!

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.