Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Watch Your Back

Watch Your Back
Karen Rose
Romantic Suspense
Baltimore/Book 4
Signet/February 4, 2014

A cold case reopened. A murderer re-emerging more deadly than ever before.

Baltimore Homicide Detective Stevie Mazzetti has suffered losses no woman should have to endure. And, despite it all, she’s still a fighter. When she learns that her ex-partner might have miscarried justice, she’s determined to put the past to rights, even when she becomes a target.

It’s former Marine Clay Maynard’s job to see the risk in every situation, but he doesn’t have to look hard to find the danger surrounding Stevie. Since the minute he first saw her, Clay has wanted to protect the wounded officer, and he started loving her not long after that. So when Stevie attracts the attention of a vicious psychopath, Clay will do whatever it takes to keep her alive. That is, if he can stay ahead of a killer with everything to lose—and something terrifying to hide...

Ms. Rose has once again delivered an amazing suspenseful romance that kept me on the edge of my seat.  It's Stevie and Clay's turn to have their lives turned upside down.

Stevie Mazzetti is looking into the corruption of her former partner.  She is determined to bring the right criminals to justice and free the innocent.  Not everyone is happy about this which is why Stevie's and everyone around her is in danger.  Someone keeps trying to kill her and Clay is determined to keep her safe.  I enjoyed this storyline with Clay adding his experience as a Marine and a police office to that of his PI work to not only keep Stevie and her daughter Cordelia safe but to unravel the who and whys.

Stevie, well I liked her, have liked her since she first showed up a few books ago but she really needs to work on relying on her police training and not fall for being lured out into the open.  It irritated me the way she would go running into a situation with little or no thought for the fact that someone has been trying to kill her on nearly a daily basis.  Use your head Stevie!

The romance was sometimes a bit of a two steps forward and one step back which isn't surprising given the situation Stevie and Clay find themselves in.  There isn't a lot of alone time and the stress factor is over the top with a killer on the loose.  Still, Clay and Stevie do find some moments and eventually give in to those raging hormones.  They still have to deal with keeping Stevie and her daughter safe while unraveling the mystery of who is trying to kill them.  I liked how the story continued to progress, unfolding the layers of mystery while giving reminders of the romance that is also developing amid the chaos.

The plot moves along at a steady pace, keeping the interest high between the hunt for the killer, the mystery of dirty cops, and how it's all connected to Stevie's past.  Loved the way everyone gets involved in helping not only protect Stevie but those she loves.  Another winner from Ms. Rose.

Rating: A-

Baltimore Series ~

You Belong to Me
No One Left to Tell
Did You Miss Me?
Watch Your Back

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ARC Review: To Tempt a Viking

To Tempt a Viking
Michelle Willingham
Historical Romance/Ireland/875 AD
Forbidden Vikings/Book 2
Harlequin/January 21, 2014

She’s Testing His Resolve!

Warrior Viking Ragnar Olafsson stood by as his best friend claimed the woman he desired the most. There was only one way to quench the deep darkness within him—become merciless in battle.

When Elena is taken captive, fearless Ragnar risks everything to save her. Now they are stranded with only each other for company. Suddenly every longing, every look, every touch is forbidden. Elena could tempt a saint—and sinner Ragnar knows he won’t be able to hold out for long!

To Tempt a Viking is certainly a romance but it contains a plot device that some readers may have an issue with.  The heroine is married when the story begins.  Not only is she married but she's married to the hero's best friend.  The husband is not abusive or a complete ass, he's just not in love with his wife.  Most of the time this didn't bother me since the husband isn't around for most of the story.  This made it easy to forget about him and concentrate on the developing romance between Ragnar and Elena. The only problem I had was when reminded of Elena's marital status.  Then I felt uncomfortable and wished her husband had been dealt with prior to the beginning of the story.

Elena Karlsdotter has spent the five years of her marriage trying to please her husband.  She keeps their home clean, tries to anticipate his needs and most of all longs to have his child.  They have grown distance when they journey to Ireland to establish a settlement.  They are met with resistance from the Irish and separated during the fighting.  Elena is saved by Ragnar, her husband's best friend.  This is when we see Elena and Ragnar's long standing friendship.  Then, and what I truly enjoyed, the friendship desperately wants to become more on both their parts but their loyalty to Styr, Elena's husband, keeps them from acting on the attraction.

Vikings can be such misunderstood heroes.  Underneath the brooding face and brutally muscled exterior may lie a heart and soul any woman could love.  Ragnar Olafsson is one of those Vikings. For Ragnar, battle is his outlet.  He is able to release his frustrations, the main one is his desire for his best friends wife.  Ragnar didn't have the best childhood.  You could say he came from the wrong side of the tracks, if there had been tracks in 875 AD.  He didn't feel his was good enough for Elena, her family being part of the haves and Ragnar being part of the have nots.  But when she is dependent on him for her safety, his skill at fighting becomes a huge asset. I liked how both Ragnar and Elena's strengths are shown in their struggle to survive.  Clearly, Ragnar is the physically stronger of the two but Elena has her own strengths to lend in their survival.

The romance is sweet, frustrating and emotional.  Sweet in how Elena took care of Ragnar the boy when they were children and continues to try to take care of Ragnar the man.  Frustrating in how Ragnar continues to think he isn't good enough for Elena.  How she deserves better, forgetting himself and what he deserves.  And emotional in how both Elena and Ragnar's emotions are not only revealed towards each other but towards Styr, family and what being a family means.

I think if you don't mind the heroine being married and you like Viking stories, then you'll enjoy Elena and Ragnar's romance.

Rating: B

Forbidden Vikings Series ~

To Sin with a Viking
To Tempt a Viking

Monday, February 3, 2014

ARC Review: Foreplay

Sophie Jordan
Contemporary/New Adult 
The Ivy Chronicles/Book 1
William Morrow/ November 5, 2013

Pepper has been hopelessly in love with her best friend’s brother, Hunter, for like ever. He’s the key to everything she’s always craved: security, stability, family. But she needs Hunter to notice her as more than just a friend. Even though she’s kissed exactly one guy, she has just the plan to go from novice to rock star in the bedroom—take a few pointers from someone who knows what he’s doing.

Her college roommates have the perfect teacher in mind. But bartender Reece is nothing like the player Pepper expects. Yes, he’s beyond gorgeous, but he’s also dangerous, deep—with a troubled past. Soon what started as lessons in attraction are turning both their worlds around, and showing just what can happen when you go past foreplay and get to what’s real...

Oh, this was a such good read! I was expecting and hoping for a fun, light contemporary romance. What I got was a wonderfully enjoyable look at how intentions and objectives can be overcome by passion and need.

Pepper feels she is ready to experience more in the area of romance.  She has one particular guy in mind but her extremely limited experience makes her think her skills in attracting a guy are in need some training before she goes for her real target.  So her friends lead her to a hot bartender at the local hangout.  Pepper gets a hottie bartender but not at all who she was expecting!  I enjoyed Pepper and Reece's interaction both with clothes on and off but it did move a little too fast when you consider Pepper's lack of experience and the push her friends give her to get things moving.

Reece is intrigued by Pepper.  She's far from a typical party girl and it's obvious she doesn't have the experience of many of the girls he comes in contact with at the bar.  But Reece is attracted to this girl who can't seem to make up her mind if she wants him or not.  She's a challenge and Reece is up to the challenge.  I liked Reece a lot.  He doesn't play games but is upfront with what he wants.  I'd say he's almost too good, too mature for this Pepper.  Maybe a Pepper who has more maturity when it comes to relationships would have been a better fit from the beginning but fortunately for her, Reece is patience and teaches her what relationships are about.

There were times I found myself alternating feeling sorry for Reece then for Pepper.  Then I would get frustrated with Pepper for her fixation on Hunter.  She has blinders on when it comes to Hunter.  It's obvious the chemistry is there with Reece and not with Hunter.  Yet, Pepper insists on pursing her final objective - Hunter.  It's not that Hunter a jerk or a loser, that would have made Pepper into a complete idiot.  Nope, Hunter's actually a good guy, just not the guy for Pepper.  I expect the next time we see him it will be as the hero.

Pepper has a couple of gal pals at college with her who give her advice on how to attract a guy. They help her come out of her shell in the form of a makeover.  While I didn't see anything wrong with this, they were trying to help her, I was glad Reece liked Pepper for who she was without the sexy clothes, hair and makeup.

Foreplay is a strong start for this New Adult romance series.

Rating:  B+

The Ivy Chronicles ~

The Tease (May 24, 2014)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Review: Duke of Midnight

Duke of Midnight
Elizabeth Hoyt
Historical Romance
Maiden Lane/Book 6
Grand Central/October 15, 2013


Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe—and won't back down.


Artemis Greaves toils as a lady's companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She's even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day.


Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn't without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace?

A dashing hero in a wig.  A heroine with a heart and soul as brave as any man's.  Two people who, if society is to be believed, have nothing in common.  And yet they find they have some of the most important things in common. Maximus and Artemis are truly a pair I enjoyed watching fall in love!

Artemis Greaves is a wonderful heroine!  She is brave even when scared beyond belief.  Loyal to those she loves and highly intelligent.  Her only real fault is not believing enough in herself. Sometimes I just wanted to shake her and tell her she is so much better than she gives herself credit for.  Artemis must put up with Penelope's self centered attitude and lack of common sense but she does stick up for Penelope.  I thought this said a lot about how important family was and how much Artemis cherished the little family she had left.

Maximus has no idea what to think of Artemis.  She is not like any woman he has known.  He has held the title of Duke since he was a child when his parents were murdered.  So Maximus is accustomed to everyone deferring to him.  It proved to be entertaining hearing Artemis speak her mind to Maximus and his reactions to her.  She brings out his darker, less refined side beautifully.

This series continues to deliver not only romance but suspense, action and humor.  I feel jealous of new readers to Ms. Hoyt, who have never read the Maiden Lane series.  You get the pleasure of reading it for the first time!  So if you have not read this series, what are you waiting for?

Rating: A

Maiden Lane Series ~

Wicked Intentions
Notorious Pleasures
Scandalous Desires
Thief of Shadows
Lord of Darkness
Duke of Midnight