Tag Archives: reviews

Review: The Night is Mine by M.L. Buchman

This military suspense romance pulled me in before shoving me away.

The Night is MineCaptain Emily Beale is the best helicopter pilot Major Mark Henderson has ever seen. He’s her commanding officer in Afghanistan, where they both fly for SOAR, the elite group of helicopter pilots who get special forces into—and out of—the most dangerous missions.

Mark has to be careful to hide how much he loves flying with Emily, not just because it could cost one or both of them their careers in the Army but because she deserves better than to have to deal with advances from colleagues.

But when Emily is whisked away with no explanation, and Mark discovers she’s now the personal chef to the First Lady, he can’t stop himself from going after her. There’s no way his best pilot could waste her skills that way, and no way he can let her go.

Emily’s new assignment as the First Lady’s chef is a personal request from the President himself—or, as he’s always been to Emily, the boy next door. But Emily quickly realizes there’s more to her assignment than she can let anyone know—someone is repeatedly attacking the First Lady, and Emily may be the only person who can save her life.

I loved the setup of this story. Emily is ultra-tough and has earned the respect of her fellow pilots (mostly through threats and beating them up). I really loved how careful Mark was not to show his attraction to her. He comes across as an honorable man from start to finish, and I couldn’t get enough of reading his character.

My problem came when the story shifted to D.C. Okay, Emily’s an incredible pilot. She’s had to become the best to compete as a woman in a man’s field. Okay, she’s such a skilled cook that she can convincingly pull off a gig as the First Lady’s personal chef. Hey, Emily’s the daughter of the Director of the FBI, so I can sort of believe she’s had all the schooling and privileges necessary to cook to that level. But Emily’s “best in the world” skills kept mounting until I felt like they were more a plot convenience to impress me as a reader or to get herself and Mark out of trouble.

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Review: The Rogue Pirate’s Bride by Shana Galen

A fantastic high-seas adventure bringing together passion, action and laughter in a perfect storm

Rogue Pirates BrideThe evil pirate Captain Cutlass brutally murdered Raeven Russell’s fiance, and she’s vowed revenge. The daughter of a British naval Admiral, Raeven’s handy with a sword and dagger, so when she finds Cutlass she attacks.

And discovers he’s more than she bargained for.

Captain Cutlass is really the Marquis de Valère, who was a young boy when his family was murdered during the French revolution. (This novel is the third in the Sons of the Revolution series. The first is The Making of a Duchess, and the second is The Making of a Gentleman.) He went to sea and became a privateer, working hard to seek vengeance of his own until he meets and accidentally kidnaps Raeven and suddenly has the British navy after him.

I loved the interplay between Raeven’s anger at Bastien for killing her fiance, and her undeniable attraction to him. Kill him or kiss him – she wants to do both, and the combination is explosive.

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Review: Colorado Dawn by Kaki Warner

In Colorado Dawn, Kaki Warner’s trademark humor, grit and attention to detail come together in a beautifully vibrant, entertaining, and emotionally gripping story.

Colorado DawnMaddie and Angus Wallace have spent only a few nights together in their six-year marriage. The last time Angus deserted her to rejoin his regiment, Maddie struggled unsuccessfully to make a life with his family in Scotland. She finally leaves and strikes out for Colorado Territory, where she becomes a celebrated photographer introducing the world to America’s west through a female eye.

She tells her new friends in the failing mining town of Heartbreak Creek that she’s a widow, a lie that catches up to her when Angus (now Viscount Ashby, or Ash) seeks her out because he needs an heir.

But how can she even think about forgiving him, much less giving up a meaningful career, for a lazy life among the backbiting aristocracy? And how can Ash give up centuries of duty for a life thousands of miles from his family and heritage?

I’ve read all of Kaki Warner’s novels, and they go from strength to strength. Colorado Dawn is the second in her Runaway Brides series (Heartbreak Creek is first), and this novel cements Kaki’s place as one of my favorite novelists.

For me, one of the great pleasures of reading a Kaki Warner novel is the voice she gives her heroes. They’re rough, rugged and funny, but they’d do absolutely anything for their heroines. Unlike their Victorian England counterparts, there’s nothing polished about them. They’re survivalists, and it’s a good thing because hoo-boy! Kaki throws a hell of a lot of conflict their way.

Though Ash is a new member of the British aristocracy, he has much more in common with the sheriff and ranchers of Kaki’s previous novels than he does with English toffs. Ash is a Highland warrior, a soldier, who has suffered grave injuries and losses. Although he devoted most of his life to his career, and was devastated to lose it, he has managed to keep his sense of humor, as shows in this scene when he’s driving Maddie back to town after a night of passion.

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Review: Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr

Snappy dialogue and the threat of real danger sucked me in, but then the story fizzled out and left me wanting.

Hidden SummitLeslie Petruso moves to Virgin River after her husband left her for another woman and then insisted that he and Leslie can still be the best of friends. Sick of running into him and his pregnant wife everywhere, she moves south and gets a job in a construction company.

Conner Danson is the sole witness to a murder committed by a man with big-time connections. When his building supply store is burnt to the ground, the Sacramento DA’s office decides it’s time to send him off-grid until he testifies. What better place than Virgin River?

Neither Leslie nor Conner is eager to start a new relationship. But they can’t deny their attraction, and as they spend more time together they realize their relationship is worth making sacrifices for.

For most of the story, I enjoyed the characters’ snappy dialogue and grown-up attitude toward love and sex. They never take a melodramatic “I shall never love again!” approach to life, but they certainly are wary of getting involved.

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Review: Wild Thing by Robin Kaye

Funny, sexy and emotionally gripping—Wild Thing will make you want to book flights to Idaho in search of Robin Kaye’s hot river guides!

Wild ThingWhen whitewater-rafting guide Hunter Kincaid gets a job guiding a bunch of models on a special shoot, he enlists the help of his two brothers to protect him from the modeling agency’s owner, who was all over him when she visited Idaho to scout for locations a few weeks ago.

Fortunately for Hunter, the agency’s owner has to take care of a last-minute deal that keeps her in New York. She sends her manager, Toni Russo, instead.

Toni is terrified of the great outdoors. A traumatic experience when she was a child left her petrified of the woods, so a week-long trip through the wilds of Idaho may as well be a week-long trip through hell. But Hunter’s immediately drawn to the sexy Goth, and he patiently woos her out of her cabin and into the safety of his arms.

Wild Thing held me captive through most of the story. I’m a sucker for a hero who falls fast and hard, and Hunter is the perfect alpha male for me—strong, capable and gentle. I’m also a sucker for a strong woman with a significant weakness—in Toni’s case, an irrational fear from her childhood—which she struggles to overcome.

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Review: Tides of Passion by Tracy Sumner

Sizzling chemistry, a forward-thinking heroine, and a hero who would part the seas for the people he loves come together in this beautifully written story

Tides of PassionFeisty, forward-thinking activist Savannah Conner travels to an island off the North Carolina coastline in 1898 to help out at her friend’s school. Having grown up wealthy but without her father’s acceptance in New York, Savannah finds it impossible to overlook injustice—especially when women are so often the victims. Naturally, very soon after arriving in town, she starts organizing the local women to fight for their rights…and that stirs up the men who run the town.

Constable Zach Garrett is duty-bound to detain law-breakers. The last thing he needs is a suffragist who knows nothing about diplomacy or negotiation. He tries to keep the peace by mediating between her and the men she’s lambasting, but Savannah drives him crazy with her uncontrolled passions. And, since his beloved wife died in childbirth, exploring his own passions is something he’s avoided.

But the chemistry between Savannah and Zach is explosive, so much so that neither can deny themselves the opportunity to explore it.

Tides of Passion swept me away. I admit I’m a sucker for novels that are set outside of Regency and mid-Victorian England, but this novel particularly grabbed me because of its clever ways of examining gender roles and commitment in relationships.

I know. That’s not what people typically read romance for. Believe me, all the things you’d want in a romance (a clever heroine, a hot hero, witty dialogue, instant sparks and sizzling conflict between the hero and heroine) are here in spades. That’s why the novel’s exploration of themes normally taken for granted in romance came as such a delight.

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Review: Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

In nearly two years of reviewing, I’ve never given a single perfect score. Head Over Heels deserves to be the first.

Head Over HeelsChloe Traeger has a reputation for being Lucky Harbor’s wild child—a reputation she’s earned by saying “Screw you” to her severe asthma and living dangerously. She does extreme sports, frees dogs from notorious animal abusers…and taunts the town’s sheriff by nudging the line between legal and stupid.

Bad-boy-turned-sheriff Sawyer Thompson gets annoyed when people cross the line into stupid. But for some reason, it particularly bothers him when cute, curvy, mouthy Chloe Traeger does it. That couldn’t have anything to do with the fact he feels he has to live an exemplary life, which doesn’t come naturally to him. Nor could it be because Chloe’s condition makes it nearly impossible for her to have sex without dying.

But Sawyer’s sure tempted to explore ways of helping Chloe work up a sweat without getting herself killed.

I know there’s still over a month left in 2011, but so far Head Over Heels is my hands-down pick for best contemporary romance of the year.

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Review: The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton

Action- and passion-packed suspense that kept me awake all night long

The Heart of a KillerIn one horrific night, sweet sixteen-year-old Anna Pallino is attacked in the alley behind the ice cream shop she works at. Her boyfriend Dante Renaldi and his three foster brothers save her life by killing her attacker, but not before the would-be killer carves a heart in her chest.

Dante leaves that night and doesn’t return until years later, for his foster parents’ anniversary party. But on his first night back, someone he loves is brutally beaten to death in the same alley and has a heart carved into his chest.

Anna, now a detective who’s nursed anger for Dante since he abandoned her when she needed him most, points the finger of suspicion at Dante.

Jaci Burton’s terrifying story hooked me from the first sentence. With a hero and heroine who smolder even as teenagers, Heart of a Killer is jam-packed with sexual tension and emotional upheaval.

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Review: In Close by Brenda Novak

Hot, intense passion and suspense combine to create one of the best romantic suspense novels of the year

In Close coverFifteen years ago, Claire O’Toole’s mother disappeared. Last year, Claire’s husband David was shot dead in a freak hunting accident. And today, as Claire begins to investigate the disappearance that’s haunted her since she was a teenager, she starts to suspect there may be a connection between the two.

Isaac Morgan has loved Claire forever. They had a brief affair in their early 20s, but Isaac let his own insecurities sabotage their relationship. He spurned Claire’s love, then had to watch her marry someone else. Now that she’s on her own, and in danger, he won’t let her face the danger alone.

Brenda Novak’s Bulletproof trilogy has rocked my world. The first, Inside, features one of the most unusual heroes I’ve ever read about: a former prison gang member. The second, In Seconds, continues with the gang trying to get to their former member by attempting to murder his sister.

In Close, the last in the trilogy, shifts gears and kept me guessing to the very end. Instead of focusing on gang members seeking revenge on one of their own, In Close features a small-town murderer, a trail gone cold, and a daughter who’s never forgotten. It barely mentions the storyline that runs through the first two novels, so can easily be read on its own (when, as I said in my review of In Seconds, the second book can’t be).

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Review: Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl

One of the best contemporary romances I’ve read this year.

Real Men WillSix months ago, uptight Eric Donovan went to a business expo and had a steamy night of passion with the manager of a local erotic boutique. Problem? He used his bad-boy younger brother’s name. For one night, he wanted to be someone else, without all the responsibilities and worries weighing him down.

When Beth Cantrell walks into the Donovan Brothers Brewery months later, she pretty swiftly realizes that the cute young bartender everyone’s calling Jamie isn’t the guy she slept with. Beth is furious and tries not to feel the shame and humiliation that she experienced the last time a man used her. But she struggles to hold onto her anger toward Eric as the attraction between them explodes again—only this time, they both want more than one night.

I love Victoria Dahl’s contemporary romances, but she’s really at her best when she’s writing characters who have spent their adulthoods trying to overcome the trauma of their childhoods. Beth Cantrell is one of those characters. She’s hiding who she really is in an attempt to become the person she thinks she should be—a sexually adventurous woman comfortable with all kinds of experimentation. In reality, she just wants a man she can let her guard down with, a man she can trust.
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