Wednesday, May 20, 2015

TBR Challenge: A Pirate of Her Own

A Pirate of Her Own
Kinley MacGregor aka Sherrilyn Kenyon
Historical Romance/1793
Sea Wolves/Book 2
HarperCollins/April 1999
Reprinted/Avon/May 24, 2005

He is the Sea Wolf, a dreaded pirate who stops English navy ships and frees impressed American sailors. Few know Morgan Drake's name, and none guesses at his past. Except, that is, a nosy Savannah reporter named Serenity James. Determined to protect his secrets at any cost, Morgan sets sail for Savannah... and Serenity. 

All her life, Serenity has longed for adventure. As a woman, though, she's lucky even to be tolerated in her father's newspaper office. Then she's kidnapped by the bold, sexy pirate whose story fired her imagination, and in his embrace Serenity finds adventure beyond her wildest dreams. 

This month's suggestion was something published over ten years ago. One of the reason I chose this one is due to all the Kinley MacGregor books I have on the giant TBR pile. When I was gathering up Sherrilyn Kenyon novels years ago, I also grabbed any MacGregor books I could find. I've read Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter and Chronicles of Nick series and enjoy them but have yet to try her historical romances written under the MacGregor pseudonym. This was the the oldest on my shelf and I have a soft spot for pirates. :)

Serenity James lives in a world where women are expected to be obedient daughters and wives. That obedience doesn't always come easy for her, especially when she is researching a story. Her obsession with the pirate known as The Sea Wolf leads her onto his boat and into his arms. It's an adventure she has secretly longed for. Serenity surprised me because she didn't get on my nerves. Yes, I was half expecting it to happen. Thankfully, she wasn't a simpering miss who expects men to fall at her feet and do her bidding. Instead, she is smart and witty showing compassion for others without being easily taken in. It's those qualities Morgan Drake finds so compelling. Well, that and her looks. He is, after all, a man and a pirate.

Pirates have only a few uses for women - writing and talk of reform are nowhere to be found on the short list. For Morgan Drake, finding Serenity James on his ship throws him for a loop and he is determined to get her off his ship posthaste. That is until he spends time in her company and finds he can't seem to stay away from her. Morgan is a pirate, has killed to survive, but there is also a tender side to him. He is loyal to those he cares about and this comes through in his actions not only regarding Serenity but his crew as well.

The pacing slows down when Morgan and Serenity are on board his ship. There are some rough seas and a sea fight but those go rather quickly, leaving Morgan and Serenity to adjust to each others sudden presence in their lives. I was anticipating more action, in fact, I was looking forward to it. But perhaps I am comparing this to Kenyon's Dark Hunter books which have loads of fight scenes and battles to the death and sometimes beyond.

A Pirate of Her Own is not what I would call earthshaking, more of a satisfying romance with a fairly predictable plot and conclusion. Still, it was a fun romp on the high seas if you're in the the mood for a pirate romance.

Rating: B

Sea Wolves Duology ~

Master of Seduction
A Pirate of Her Own

Saturday, May 16, 2015

ARC Review: Outlaw Hearts

Outlaw Hearts
Rosanne Bittner
Western/Historical Romance
Outlaw Hearts/Book 1
February 1, 1993/Bantam
Sourcebooks/May 5, 2015

At twenty, Miranda Hayes had known more than her share of heartache and loss. Widowed by the war, orphaned by a vicious band of rebel raiders, she was a woman alone in a harsh, unyielding frontier. Then she clashed with the notorious gunslinger Jake Harkner, a hard-hearted loner with a price on his head, and found within herself a deep well of courage...and feelings of desire she'd never known.

Hunted by lawmen and desperadoes alike, haunted by his brutal past, Jake had spent a lifetime on the dusty trail--and on the run. Until he met a vibrant, honey-haired beauty who was determined to change his violent ways, who loved him enough to risk her life to be his outlaw's woman. 

From the vast plains of the Midwest across the Oregon Trail to the sun-drenched valleys of southern California, from the blazing Nevada desert to the boomtowns of Colorado, Miranda and Jake struggled to endure amid the perils of a lawless wilderness. In a world of heart-stopping danger and burning desire, could their hard-won love survive the shadows that stalked their happiness?

I've always loved a good western romance and Rosanne Bittner certainly knows how to write them. This isn't just a western romance but an adventure spanning miles and years of rough roads and rougher living. Through all of this, Jake and Miranda endure and eventually thrive.

Miranda Hayes has such a strong spirit but even her spirit is tested in what she has endured both during and after the American Civil War. What I liked most about her is her ability to see not just right from wrong but to use both her heart and her head when making difficult decisions. She continues to have hope in the good of the world but is still practical in her need to survive.

Jake Harkner was on the path to lawlessness at an early age. Circumstances and bitterness lead to a life on the wrong side of the law and his image on wanted posters. Jake isn't a bad guy but you can't say he's completely good either. He has no problem killing and little to any remorse when he feels it's justified. His redemption comes through Miranda. Had it not been for her, he would have died in a shoot out or at the end of a noose. The thing about Jake is he doesn't feel he is deserving of redemption but he tries. He does succeed but still doesn't completely give up violence, not when his family is in danger. To me, that's a very believable compromise.

Miranda and Jake come together through their own unique way of living life. Miranda with her need to help others and Jake with his need for trouble. When they separate, they don't expect to see each other again but fate has a way of  bringing two people together who were meant to be together.

This is not a pretty, romanticized look at the west. Bittner shows the wild west in all its hostile, brutal glory. I would actually find myself worrying about Miranda and Jake. Silly, since there wasn't any doubt they wouldn't make it through to their Happily Ever After. This is a romance after all. The villains were truly villainous and even though the logical part of my brain knew Jake and Miranda would ultimately be okay, there was still the feeling all would not turn out well.

If you're in the mood for an exciting western with an authentic feel, Outlaw Hearts fits the bill. And this July the sequel will be released allowing us to catch up with Miranda and Jake, twenty-six years later. I'm curious to see what Ms. Bittner has in store for the older, wiser couple.

Rating: B+

Outlaw Hearts

Outlaw Hearts
Do Not Forsake Me (July 7, 2015)

Monday, May 11, 2015

ARC Review: Kiss Across Deserts

Kiss Across Deserts
Tracy Cooper-Posey
Erotic Romance/Time Travel/MMF
Kiss Across Time/Book 4
Self-Published/May 5, 2015

Time travel is not for the weak of heart.

Alexander Karim, long-time friend of Brody, Veris and Taylor, has been questioning everything; his purpose in life and his identity as a vampire and a doctor. Even his long time pursuit of the lovely but reluctant police lieutenant Sydney Stevens is on shaky ground.

Life tosses him a curve ball when Alex learns that Brody’s trial lawyer, Rayner De Leon, the youngest appeal court judge in the state, is attracted to Alex. Rayner is a vampire, Rafael, who has known Brody and Veris since the fifth century. Alex warily allows Rafael to seduce him, and the affair has surprising results for both of them.

But then a deliberate hit and run tosses Sydney back into Alex’s life and this time, her defenses are down and she is vulnerable. But there are unanswered questions surrounding Sydney. Who tried to kill her?  And why is she insisting that Alex was there, when he doesn’t remember it that way?

When a kiss sends Alex and Sydney back to Alex’s beloved desert, and he realizes that Taylor is not the only one who can time travel, the questions pile up like gunpowder. The flint that strikes the spark is Sydney’s past, which is exposed when Rafael reaches through time and uncovers her dangerous secret.

The explosion that follows is both deadly and tragic, reaching out to touch everyone’s lives.

Warning: This time travel menage romance features two super-hot alpha vampire heroes, multiple sex scenes, including anal sex, MM sexual play, and MMF sex. Do not read this book if frank sexual language and sex scenes offend you.

The time-space continuum was restored to order at the end of this book. Promise.

Sexy vampires and time travel. A combination sure to produce steamy, sexy scenes. Not only does Kiss Across Deserts deliver hot sex scenes, there is also an engaging plot to go along with it. The one caveat - if you haven't read the previous books in the series you might find yourself a little lost at times. The heroes and heroine from those books feature heavily in the plot, having a history with the current heroes.

Sydney Stevens is dealing with a demanding job and she seems to be a bit of a loner. Her work is her life. Sydney is a detective although this was not apparent at the beginning. There were clues alluding to what she did but I would have preferred it being stated rather than guessing until it was finally revealed. Syndney has struck up an odd friendship with Alex Karim, who keeps asking her out, she continues to decline. This relationship I found intriguing because it was new for both of them and they were each coming from very different places in their lives.

Alex is working through some serious issues and doesn't seem to know what he wants when it comes to relationships. His confusion leads to a stressful situation with Sydney and Rafael. Alex is also a doctor doing research into time travel and at first it was a little murky as to what he is searching for. Some clarity early on would have been helpful.

Enter Rafael. He is attracted to Alex and makes that attraction known. This is all new to Alex which Rafael takes into consideration as he pursues a relationship between the two of them. But this doesn't last and Alex is again alone. The dynamics between Rafael and Alex were well written with both men showing how their long pasts have affected their present attitude concerning relationships. But that's all about to change as these two men realize what is missing from their lives.

The time travel aspect was interesting but what I really enjoyed was the relationship between Alex, Sydney and Rafael. How they come together, meshing their lives into one. The dynamics are at first difficult to see how they might combine their lives but as the story progresses, we see the three were meant to be together.

This was a solid addition to the Kiss Across Time series. I would recommend reading the previous books since they give the additional background stories needed to make this series feel complete.

Rating: B

Kiss Across Time Series ~

Kiss Across Time
Kiss Across Swords
Kiss Across Chains
Kiss Across Deserts