Saturday, December 7, 2013

Weekly Winners

Below is a list of all of the winners from the past week.

Lori H.
Sandy X.
RFTC Monthly Giveaway

Daughter of the God King by Anne Cleeland

Michelle W.
The Cajun's Captive by Selena Blake

Michelle W.
Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye

Sandy K.
Once a SEAL by Anne Elizabeth

Sandy X.
A Midsummer Bride by Amanda Forester

MsChris G.
Unexpectedly Yours by Jeannie Moon

All winners have been notified via email. Thank you to everyone that stopped by and entered. =)

ARC Review: Mine to Hold by Cynthia Eden

I’ve said before that Cynthia Eden does dark romantic suspense and possessive-but-still-likeable ├╝ber-alpha heroes like nobody else, and she proves that she’s in top form with the third instalment of her self-published Mine series, MINE TO HOLD. This is my favourite entry in the series so far, a pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat thrill-ride that will keep you guessing until the very end delivered with Ms. Eden’s trademark intense, highly-polished writing and scorching heat. MINE TO HOLD picks up right where the previous book, MINE TO KEEP, ended, and whilst it is a complete story and there are enough references to the events of the previous books to ostensibly make MINE TO HOLD a standalone, this is a series that is definitely best read in order.

Obsession is the name of the game in MINE TO HOLD, with heroine Claire Kramer’s high school lover serving a life sentence for murdering her parents when she broke up with him, his father ensuring that her past catches up with her every time she gets a fresh start, a stalker dogging her every move, and playboy billionaire with a dark past Noah York determined to make her his. The plot is somewhat similar to Trace Weston and Skye Sullivan’s story arc in the previous entries and I won’t delve into it to prevent spoilers, but Ms. Eden delivers a perfectly paced read fraught with tension that will keep you frantically turning the pages despite a storyline that is not particularly novel. Her writing is just that good and darkly intense. Another thing Ms. Eden excels at is achieving the perfect balance between the romance and the suspense. Even when twisted villains assail the protagonists at every turn and the bodies pile up, her work is primarily character-focused—and MINE TO HOLD is a shining example of this. Whereas Skye sometimes rubbed me the wrong way with her borderline codependency, I absolutely loved Claire and found her to be a remarkably strong and realistically flawed character. She’s survived being held at gunpoint by the ex-boyfriend that had just brutally murdered her parents at sixteen, a suicide attempt, a lifetime of harassment by the ex’s powerful father, her sister’s murder… and she’s still standing. Yes, sometimes she’s terrified and a little needy and needs Noah to be the big, bad alpha protector, but she also knows how to stand on her own two feet and push back. I found her conflicted emotions about her feelings for Noah to be consistent with her character and realistic: she sees a kindred spirit in his darkness and is inexorably drawn to him as a man for the first time since her teens, but she knows he’s dangerous and she’s done dangerous before with disastrous consequences. She has serious trust issues and does a fair bit of running (understandably so), but watching her learn to open up, trust that she can love without it being taken from her, and rediscover herself as a woman is incredibly satisfying.

It’s no secret that I like my heroes a little beta, and Noah is as alpha, possessive, and protective as they come—edging into domineering sometimes. His previous revolving bedroom door lifestyle comes to a screeching halt the second he lays eyes on Claire in MINE TO KEEP and is consumed by his desire to have her. He’s initially unsure of whether what he feels for her is love or obsession, but he knows he will do anything to protect her: keep his dark past hidden, override her wishes, tie her to him, kill for her, or die for her. These are the characteristics that make many a woman swoon over the Christian Greys or Gideon Crosses of the fictional world, but I generally find them somewhat off-putting! Ms. Eden’s darkly intense heroes, consumed by their love for their women, are some of the few extreme alphas I can tolerate and enjoy… but I still want to slap them upside the head sometimes for being so smothery, Noah York included. My inherent dislike of excessively alpha heroes aside, Noah and Claire are an excellent couple: both have experiences that have left them with a lingering aura of darkness, and this helps them teach each other the difference between love and obsession. And, of course, the sexual attraction between them is scorching and leaps off the page. Ms. Eden has a knack for writing super hot love scenes that blur the line between mainstream romance and erotica but are as emotionally charged as they are sexual, and these abound in MINE TO HOLD. Sex is a great communicator, and Noah and Claire often say more with their bodies than they do with words.

Overall, MINE TO HOLD is another excellent addition to the Mine series—my favourite entry so far! It’s long enough to deliver a fast-paced, complete story that doesn’t feel rushed (particularly because some of the character building is done in previous books, another reason to read them in order), but short enough to be read in a couple of sittings. Or a single sitting, since you likely won’t be able to put it down! It has everything that makes Ms. Eden a master of dark romantic suspense: pitch-perfect pacing, palpable tension, excellent writing, distrubingly twisted villains, well-developed primary and secondary characters, and incredibly hot love scenes. If you’re a fan of dark romantic suspense and haven read any of Ms. Eden’s work, definitely check it out! I’m already impatiently awaiting the next instalment, Drake’s story.

**ARC provided by NetGalley**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |

Sharing a First Kiss...with Tracey Devlyn and Giveaway

Sharing a First Kiss on Christmas Eve - Tracey Devlyn

Tracey Devlyn Tracey Devlyn is an award-winning author who writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending). She’s a co-founder of Romance University, a group blog dedicated to readers and writers of romance, and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, Chicagoland’s exciting new reading salon devoted to romantic fiction.

An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters. For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts, contest updates, and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website.

Places to find Tracey:

ARC Review: A Risk Worth Taking by Heather Hildenbrand

Heather Hildenbrand is another new to me author, so I had no idea what I was in for with A Risk Worth Taking. I did enjoy this book, and I really liked the characters. I also really liked the storyline and the fact that this book is about finding yourself and enjoying the journey. That being said though, I did have some things that were problems for me and they kept me from being able to rate this one higher.

When Summer goes home for Christmas break, the last thing she expects is that her parents have decided to separate and get a divorce. Without knowing the details or having any idea that there were problems, Summer is completely thrown. So when she finishes college the next semester, she decides to move back home and help her dad run the family farm. She is excited to return to her family and friends, but she is also feeling lost. Not only did she not plan on ending up back at home, but she also isn't speaking to her mother. Her best friend/almost brother Casey introduces her to the new guy Ford. The attraction between Ford and Summer is instant, but with him leaving in a few months they both know that nothing too serious can happen between them. Summer vows to stay away, but Ford knows that what he feels for her is something that he isn't about to pass on. Ford begins to pursue Summer, and it isn't long before the two of them are enjoying the time together. But once they start spending time together and the feelings grow, they both become much more attached to the other than they ever expected. Can Summer convince Ford that he doesn't need to keep traveling and that he should stay and make a life with her? Will the love the feel be enough for both of them to take a risk on?

I really liked Ford and Summer. They were both really great characters and I found them deep and interesting. I did think that both of them had some immature moments, but I think some of that is due to their age. Ford was one of those genuinely good guys, and I loved how he was determined to live his life to the fullest. He didn't worry about consequences, but rather just lived in the moment so that he could experience everything that he possibly could. I loved how Summer wasn't your typical girly girl. She had no problem living the farm life and didn't flinch at a bit of dirt or mud. I also really enjoyed her relationship with Casey. I thought that they had a really special relationship and I enjoyed the two of them interacting a lot. I loved that Casey not only pushed Summer towards Ford, but he also helped Ford out when it came to Summer. I know not everyone would think that was a good thing, but I liked that he cared enough about both of them to help them see what was between them when they both were stubborn or didn't see it. Ford and Summer had a lot of chemistry and they seemed to really bring out the best in each other. It was great watching them open up to each other and start to see that the things they had always thought were what they wanted might not actually be what they needed.

All in all, this book was enjoyable and I think that these characters are definitely worth the read for. However, I thought that the pacing of this book was off and it moved really slowly at some points. As much as I enjoyed the characters, I found that sometimes this book just didn't hold my interest. I would end up setting the book down, and have to come back later. I also thought that this story had very little conflict. Besides the deadline on their relationship and the little bits with Summer and her parents, this story just felt a little easy. I think that might be another part of why I just wasn't as interested in finishing this story. There just wasn't a lot to grab a hold of my attention and keep me invested. I also thought that Casey was an amazing character, and even if he and Summer didn't have feelings for each other, that he would have been a bit more protective of her. I kept waiting for him and Ford to really get into it or that he would sort of rip into Ford for the way that he was hurting her when he was leaving. But nothing ever happened like that between them, and I felt like that wasn't exactly true to his character. I felt like he would have made a bigger deal of it because of how much he cared about not only Summer, but also how close he had become to Ford. I still think that this story was an enjoyable read and that the characters are easy to fall for. The different characters are by far the highlights of the story, and I loved watching them interact and banter back and forth. It was clear to see how close this entire group was and I loved watching the love they had for each other as they all gave each other a hard time and treated each other like family does. This story was moving and I really enjoyed that the author really showed us that family and life is what we make it. I think that if you are a fan of the New Adult genre and enjoy a heartwarming romance, this is one that you might like.

**ARC provided by Inkslinger PR**

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

Friday, December 6, 2013

ARC Review: Down the Aisle by Christine Bell

This is a short novella by Christine Bell. Although I did not read the previous story Down For the Count about Galen and Lacey it didn’t stop me from enjoying the story. As Lacey and Galen are preparing for their upcoming wedding they run into a problem-infertility. Both Galen and Lacy are very committed, they are excited about their upcoming wedding but Lacey feels that this infertility problem will be too much for them.

Even though Galen and Lacey are madly in love the infertility is taking a tool on their relationship. While they are dealing with life as a married couple they try to reassure each other and remain supportive of each other as both try to come to terms with their options. One day Galen gives her a photo album, in the album is a picture that has a big impact on their lives.

We are also introduced to two characters Rafe and Courtney. They have good chemistry and have a lot of promise as a couple. Rafe and Courtney’s story also promised to be a good read! Overall, this was a short but fun and sweet read.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes |

Caroling Off-Key...with Erin Knightley and Giveaway

Caroling Off-Key on Christmas Eve - Erin Knightley

Despite being an avid reader and closet writer her whole life, Erin Knightley Despite being an avid reader and closet writer her whole life, Erin Knightley decided to pursue a sensible career in science. It was only after earning her BS and working in the field for years that she realized doing the sensible thing wasn’t any fun at all. Following her dreams, Erin left her practical side behind and now spends her days writing. Together with her tall, dark, and handsome husband and their three spoiled mutts, she is living her own Happily Ever After in North Carolina.

Places to find Erin:

ARC Review: A Kiss by Design by Christy Hayes

A Kiss by Design is the first book I have ever read by Christy Hayes, so I didn't really know what I should expect when I first started this one. I was really intrigued by the blurb though, and I knew I just had to read this story. There were things that I really liked about this book, and then there were things that I didn't really care for. But for the most part, I found this story to be a quick and enjoyable read.

Emily has been best friends with Dylan since they were little. So when she finds an engagement ring in his backpack she immediately thinks that he is about to make a huge mistake and ask a girl he barely knows to marry him. What Emily doesn't know is that Dylan has been in love with her for forever, and that the ring doesn't actually belong to Dylan. The ring actually is Zach's, who just so happens to be Dylan's brother and Emily's boyfriend. As Dylan works to finally put his feelings for Emily to rest, Emily is more determined than ever to make sure that Dylan doesn't ask the wrong girl to marry him. But when Emily enlists the help of her friends and her plan starts to fail, she realizes that it is time for her to step in and figure it out on her own. But the more that she begins to think that Dylan is serious about someone else, the more she begins to realize that her feelings towards him go beyond friendship. More confused than ever, Emily must decide if the possibility of a relationship with Dylan is worth breaking up with Zach for. And Dylan must decide if the risk of a shot with Emily is worth the pain and damage he will do to his relationship with Zach and his family.

I really liked Dylan. He was sweet, supportive and really caring. I thought that he was a really good guy that just happened to be in a very bad situation. He really tried to fight his feelings for Emily and tried to push her away many times in order to spare his brother. You could tell that it really did tear him up about what he was doing, and no matter what he was in a lose lose situation. My heart really broke for him on more that one occasion. But his connection and feelings for Emily really were something that doesn't happen often, and you couldn't help but root for him. I had my moments of like and dislike with Emily. I thought that she was sweet and was a great friend, but then she was also immature and tended to react without thinking. There were several times that I couldn't figure out why she didn't break up with Zach sooner. The way that she let him treat her was something I just didn't understand. Its not like he abused her or anything, but I just couldn't get why she felt so loyal to him and allowed him to be so selfish and self-centered. It was like she had no regard for her own thoughts and feelings and just let him walk all over her. I loved how different things were with Dylan though. They had a very strong connection and friendship, and I loved that they were able to lean on each other for support. I would have loved to see more of their relationship developing and I felt that even though they had very strong chemistry, that we really didn't get to see much of it.

I think that my biggest complaint is that this story focused more on Emily and her friends hatching this ridiculous scheme and trying to figure out what was going on rather than the actual relationship development. Things went back and forth a bit too much for me, and I felt like it really took away from the story. By the time that we got to the huge conflict and reveal of Emily and Zach breaking up and her and Dylan admitting their feelings for each other the book was almost over. It felt like their story was unfinished and that we had just started their journey together. I was hoping that we would have seen more of the two of them as they began to date and start their new relationship. We barely got any of them together in this story, and I think that hurt how believable their connection and love was. I had hoped that since we didn't get that resolution until the end that we would get more of them in the second book. However it looks as though the second book is Zach's story. I can't say that I didn't see Zach's story coming though, you could tell that he was attracted to his tutor from the very start and it almost made his reaction to Emily and Dylan seem a bit over the top. I understand that he was hurt and felt betrayed, but isn't this the same guy that just kissed his tutor and was so attracted to her that he felt like he needed to go and take care of himself? That doesn't sound like someone who should be asking someone else to marry him. Overall, I liked the characters of this book and I really enjoyed the author's writing style. I just wish that we would have seen more of Emily and Dylan together, and I felt like we missed out on so much with them. I would have liked less of Emily and her friends and more of the growth and development between Emily and Dylan as we watched their friendship change to a loving relationship. I am interested to see what happens in the second book though, and I just hope that maybe we will get more of Emily and Dylan in the future to sort of wrap up their story and give them the conclusion that they deserve. I think that this story is definitely worth giving a shot, especially if you like the New Adult genre. However if you are expecting a story with a lot of steam and depth of relationship this might not be the story for you. Despite the issues I had with this one, this was a promising start to the series. I will give the next one a shot to see where the author goes from here and hope that we will get a bit more in the next one.

**ARC provided by NetGalley**

Purchase: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

Thursday, December 5, 2013

ARC Review: Once a Rake by Eileen Dreyer

In February, 2012 at the finish of the third of the Drake’s Rakes series (Always a Temptress) we left Ian Ferguson shot, in the sea, branded a traitor, and presumed dead. I have waited (impatiently) for 20 long months with Ian’s situation weighing heavily on my mind. Finally the story continues in Once a Rake. Was it worth the wait? You bet it was. I love this series and was delighted to rejoin this intriguing group of guys. Eileen Dreyer is a masterful writer. Her way of describing details painted a totally engaging picture.

The giant Scotsman, Ian Ferguson, is enmeshed in political and military intrigue. He is accused of attempting to kill Wellington when he is actually protecting him. Ian escapes the situation by diving into the sea and is shot in the process. He makes his way to land and hides in a building on the property of Lady Sarah Clarke (who, in the most gigantic coincidence, happens to be best friends with his sisters). Sarah’s husband went off to fight in the war against Napoleon four years earlier and has not returned. She struggles to manage the estate and take care of various relatives and friends that live there. The attraction between Ian and Sarah is swift and strong, but numerous issues prevent them being a couple. Ian is engaged and needs his prospective wife to gain the political influence to initiate reforms. Sarah has a missing husband and greedy relatives waiting to take the property at the first misstep. Ian is a wanted man and Sarah is harboring a fugitive. After Sarah helps Ian recover from his gunshot wound he heads to a nearby estate party to get help from his friends in proving his innocence. Sarah has to accompany him as a semi-hostage. It takes quite a bit of adventure and intrigue to unravel this complicated mess and the road to their Happily Ever After is difficult and twisted.

I love the Rakes! The entire series is planned to encompass nine books and Dreyer has organized them into three trilogies or sub-series. The first three (The Three Graces) were released in 2011 and early 2012. Once A Rake begins the second trilogy (called Last Chance Academy for the school that Sarah and her friends attended). It is not necessary to have read the previous trilogy to enjoy Once a Rake, but it is so much more interesting if you know about the other Rakes. Each guy has a unique personality and their interaction is a strong element of the series. Once a Rake was a great adventure and romance story. The relationship between Ian and Sarah was sweet, steamy and genuine. It was particularly nice that Ian realized Sarah felt unwanted and he was so sympathetic and supportive. There was a good lead-in for the next book, Twice Tempted, about Rakes Alex and Chuffy (I LOVE Chuffy!). Please, Ms. Dreyer, do not make me wait so long for it. It’s killing me!

**ARC provided by Net Galley**

Purchase:Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |

A Scandalous Proposition...with Lily Dalton and Giveaway

A Scandalous Proposition on Christmas Eve - Lily Dalton

Lily lives in Texas where she writes looking out over a garden tended by her handsome, big-hearted Tex-Czech husband. She suffers endless (fun and always welcome!) interruptions by her two children. And like many authors, she writes with a cat—or two—wrapped around her legs.

Places to find Lily:
| Site | Facebook | Twitter |

ARC Review: Falling for the Marine by Samanthe Beck

Chloe Kinkaid and Major Michael McCade meet under very unique circumstances. Chloe works for Camp Pendleton Massage Therapy Clinic as a masseuse. Michael has a herniated disk and is not able to fly his plane until he is better.

Chloe is planning a “special” night with a guy that ends up standing her up. While hand-cuffed to the bed she loses the key. Her only option is to scream for help. Michael hears her and comes to her rescue and finds her in a very vulnerable position-tied to the bed.

Chloe and Michael are very attracted to each other but they have some obstacle to overcome. Although Michael is ready to give Chloe the special night she wants he is not physically able to because he is in so much pain. Chloe feels rejected not understanding why he walks away from her.

The next day Chloe is at work and Michael walks in to get a massage for his back. Although Chloe is very embarrassed she is professional and discovers why Michael walked away from her the previous night. Michael in turn finally gets some relief from his back with Chloe’s help.

Since they can’t keep their hands off of each other Michael and Chloe are caught in a compromising position and Chloe loses her job. Michael feels terrible and helps her the only way he can think of, he offers his extra bedroom to Chloe. At first Chloe doesn’t want to accept but her job is not the only one on the line. Michael could lose his post too because of the situation they were found in. Michael tells Chloe if they pretend to be engaged both can be saved from any embarrassment.

This was sweet and fun romance. Chloe and Michael have great chemistry and make the story very enjoyable.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes |

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ARC Review: Infinite Possibilities by Lisa Renee Jones

Infinite Possibilities is the second book in The Secret Life of Amy Benson series by Lisa Renee Jones. This book is not a standalone and should only be read after Escaping Reality. If you have not read Escaping Reality, you definitely should give it a chance and also beware of spoilers below. As a reader, cliffhangers definitely have become the bane of my existence. I love a good series and I am all for making sure that a story is told completely and the best way it should be. However cliffhangers really drive me nuts. So when I finished Escaping Reality and was left hanging there, I absolutely couldn't wait to get more. Luckily, Infinite Possibilities picks up where Escaping Reality left off, and we aren't left trying to figure out what has happened for very long.

Having overheard a private conversation, Amy is left reeling and doesn't know what to think. The only person that she has trusted in the last six years seems to have been lying to her the whole time. Fearing for her life, Amy decides that she must leave and start over again. But as she sets out to disappear, she knows that if she doesn't fight back now she will be on the run forever. Amy is determined to discover the truth and will do whatever it takes. But Liam isn't about to let Amy go without a fight. Liam must convince Amy to trust him and that he will do anything to protect her. Liam and Amy have an undeniable connection. But with secrets and lies everywhere, can they possibly trust in each other? Amy wants to believe that Liam is trustworthy, but she also knows that regardless of what side he is on that people she cares about tend to end up dead. Even though she is unsure of Liam, she knows that she needs to protect him and will do anything to make sure that he is safe.

I was really hoping that Liam was on the right side. After the end of Escaping Reality I was so worried that this man who Amy and all of us readers had come to love was really working against her the whole time. But I just knew there had to be a mistake and we weren't seeing the whole picture. Liam continues to be protective and loving despite the fact that Amy continually tries to run and push him away. I loved that he kept going after her and refused to let her run away from him. You could tell that even though he didn't come right out and say it, that he really did love and care about her. Liam is the kind of guy that is hot and sexy, but also really deep. He is loyal and caring and there is so much more to him than meets the eye. I like Amy. She continues to be strong and she does what she has to in order to survive. I understand that she is damaged and vulnerable because of her past, but I was hoping that she wouldn't run as much in this one. I really felt like she should have leaned on Liam more and accepted his support. She trusted in her feelings and the connection she felt to Liam and yet she continued to assume that she had to run in order to protect him. I just didn't really feel as though her trust was one hundred percent real when she kept disappearing. I also felt like she was a little immature sometimes and that as much as she said she couldn't trust anyone she would then turn around and make decisions at the drop of a hat with very little proof. Amy and Liam continued to have a ton of chemistry though, and it was nice to see their relationship grow. I felt like they really started to make some progress in their relationship and I loved their scenes together.

This story was action packed and fast paced. It kept going right up until the end and there were so many twists and turns that the reader is never quite sure where we will end up. There were a few things that I had wondered about and had seen coming, but there were also some complete shockers. I love how Lisa Renee Jones is able to weave things into her stories and characters that the reader can't possibly figure out, but that once revealed make complete sense. Her writing style is always excellent, and you can't help but be drawn into the story and become invested in her characters. My only gripe though, is that we never really seem to get the resolution that I hope for. When one question is answered it seems like five more are brought to the surface. Even though this story ends with less of a cliffhanger and Liam and Amy together and safe for the moment, it just felt as though they were sort of left unfinished. Jones leaves this story headed in a clear direction and we get to see who the next portion of this story will feature. But I still feel as though we aren't done with Liam and Amy. I hope that we will get more of them in the next book Forsaken, and that they will get the ending they deserve. My other issue with this story was Meg. She was brought into the story and we are left hanging. She completely disappears and we are left to wonder who she really is and what happened to her. Hopefully that will be addressed as well. I did love Jared though. I had been intrigued by him in Escaping Reality and I was very excited to see him again. I really hope that he is a bigger part of Forsaken and that we get to know him better. Overall, this story was an excellent continuation of what is shaping up to be a great series. I loved the way that things are unfolding and I can't wait to see where Jones will take us next. This book kept me turning the pages and I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves a little mystery and action with their romance. This series will grab a hold of you and not let go until you have devoured every last word.

**ARC provided by Truly Schmexy Promotions**

Purchase: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

Caught Under the Mistletoe...with Valerie Bowman and Giveaway

Caught Under the Mistletoe on Christmas Eve - Valerie Bowman

Valerie Bowman is an award-winning author who writes Regency-set historical romance novels with a focus on sharp dialogue, engaging story lines, and heroines who take matters into their own hands!

Valerie's first Regency series from St. Martin's Press has garnered acclaim including a nomination for Best First Historical from RT Book Reviews, a BookList starred review, and a Publishers Weekly starred review. Her work has been called "Too delightful to miss" by New York Times bestselling author, Lisa Kleypas and "Everything a romance should be" by New York Times bestselling author, Sarah MacLean.

Valerie grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she's number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her rascally rescue dog, Roo. When she's not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. Valerie loves to hear from readers.

Places to find Valerie:
Site | Blog | Facebook | Twitter |

ARC Review: Seducing Her Rival by Seleste deLaney

Mercedes Vega and Lucas Bellamy meet on a cruise ship while they are both on vacation. Mercedes accidentally spills her drink on him. Although this is not a pleasant experience Lucas is instantly attracted to Mercedes and she is also to him. They meet up for dinner and share a very hot and steamy night together. Mercedes and Lucas are rivals for the same property. He is very rich and also a bachelor. He wants Mercedes to get to know him for who he is and not his money so he does not tell her his last name. Lucas is used to being treated differently because of his money.

Mercedes is ordering room service when she finds out who Lucas really is. She is shocked to discover that they are “enemies”. Mercedes is very dedicated to Better Todays a charity for children. She is very passionate about the children she helps and will do anything to make sure that they get a chance to make it. Both Lucas and Mercedes have very good intentions for the property and both feel that their idea will benefit the neighborhood. Mercedes decides that she is not going to back down after finding out that Lucas is her rival. She wants to seduce him and gain the upper-hand.

Lucas knows that Mercedes is up to something but can't figure out what. They both realize that after their cruise is over their life’s will go separate ways. Mercedes is also very intimidated by their different levels of money. While she does not have any money to throw around Lucas is very wealthy. When Lucas wins the property Mercedes feels betrayed and refuses to see or speak to him. He lavishes her with gifts but she uses them for Better Todays. Ultimately neither can deny their very strong attraction for each other. Lucas realizes that Mercedes passion is well intentioned just like his.

This was a fun and light story. It was great to see a Latin as the heroine.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ARC Review: The Arrangement by Mary Balogh

What a sweet, lovely book! I freely admit that I am a sucker for stories with a blind hero so I was probably going to like this one no matter what. But when you put the blind hero into the writing hands of Mary Balogh the result is a heartwarming story of characters discovering their inner strength together. If you like adventure, intrigue or danger this is not the book for you. If, however, you love sympathetic characters and you appreciate slow, steady character development you will enjoy The Arrangement (Survivor’s Club #2).

The story opens as Vincent Hunt, who has recently and unexpectedly become Viscount Darleigh, runs away from home and his family’s attempt to find him a bride. His mother, grandmother and sisters tend to overwhelm him since he is the youngest and he is blind due to a war injury. Vincent knows that he has to grow up and become his own man, but he wants to do it on his own terms. His wandering eventually leads him to his childhood home where he is welcomed back into the community. It is there that he meets Sophie Fry, “the Mouse,” a poor relation living with a prominent area family. Vincent’s friendship with Sophie causes her to be cast out with nowhere to go. They decide to marry even though they are both less than enthusiastic about the idea. They make an agreement (the arrangement) that they will each live independently after a year. The rest of the book takes us through their wedding and months of adjustment on their way to their Happily Ever After.

Romance writers today are taught that the essence of story lies in conflict. Sometimes it seems like the message is “the more conflict, the better.” As a result it is not unusual to find books with what I call “contrived conflict’ – it feels like the author tried too hard to include lots of conflict, even when it did not fit naturally into the story. Interestingly, The Arrangement had almost no serious conflict. There was no villain, no evil plot, and no insurmountable issues. The story moved forward at an even pace and the characters dealt with each issue as they encountered it. There was never any doubt, of course, that Vincent and Sophie would work things out, but there weren’t even any real bumps in the road. Each of them helped the other to find their confidence and to build their life together.

I loved reading The Arrangement. It was a heartwarming journey of self-discovery for two characters with difficult challenges. In spite of his blindness, Vincent was not an angsty, tortured hero. He was just a young man trying to take charge of his life. Vincent was a genuine beta hero, loving and considerate. Sophie was a little bit of a tragic heroine, but she possessed a courageous spirit. She just needed the opportunity to blossom into a strong woman. Both of them were living marginal lives, but struggled to be whole people. The book was a little unusual in that Vincent and Sophie were younger than in a lot of Regency romances; he was only twenty-three. We were privy to their sexual lives, but it was pretty bland, not particularly steamy. One thing I especially enjoyed was getting reacquainted with most of the other members of the Survivor’s Club. It is a great series and I can’t wait for the next one.

**ARC provided by Edelweiss**

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Caught in a Snowstorm...with Sophie Barnes and Giveaway

Caught in a Snowstorm on Christmas Eve - Sophie Barnes

Born in Denmark, Sophie has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian.

She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.

When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.

Places to find Sophie:
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Review: Officer Off Limits by Tessa Bailey

Officer Off Limits is the third book in Tessa Bailey's Line of Duty series. It is also the first book I have ever read by Tessa Bailey. I had been told that I absolutely had to read this series because they were really good and most of all extremely hot! I definitely wasn't disappointed at all, and I absolutely loved this book! Even though this is the third book in the series, it can be read as a standalone. The characters do connect throughout the series but it isn't required to read the previous books in order to understand and enjoy. That being said, I cannot wait to go back to the beginning and devour the rest of this series though! Especially if this one is anything to go by! Tessa Bailey has definitely gained a new fan and I look forward to reading more from her in the future!

After being dumped by her fiance just two weeks before the wedding, and finding out her estranged father just had a heart attack, Story is definitely having a rough time. She leaves California and heads to NYC to get away and help take care of her dad. She runs into a ladies man who after getting a nurse's phone number proceeds to try and pick her up as well. She soon finds out that this player is also her father's protege Daniel. Story's dad Jack asks Daniel to help her out while he is stuck in the hospital and to make sure that she is protected. The attraction between Daniel and Story is instant and very intense, but she is not about to be another notch on his bedpost especially after all she has been through lately. But the more that she gets to know him, the more she realizes that he is nothing like she first thought. Daniel is only interested in Story and will do whatever it takes to have her, but can he convince her that he has changed and should give him a shot? Will Story take the risk of opening herself up again or will she head back to California before giving a relationship with Daniel a real chance?

I loved Daniel! He was hot and sexy and confident. I loved that he was a dirty talker and really encouraged Story to do things that she never had before. He really opened her up and helped to become the woman that she hadn't been before. It was nice to see him pay attention to her and take care of her after her fiance had basically ignored her and tried to mold her into the type of woman he thought that she should be. I also really liked that Daniel was more than met the eye. You could tell that his past really had affected him and there was a lot of depth to his character. I liked Story. I loved that she was not afraid to say what she felt and she was able to banter with Daniel. She also wasn't afraid to try new things and he definitely brought out a side of her she hadn't known she had before. Instead of really freaking out about things happening with Daniel though, she really did seem to embrace the new her. She was a great friend and even though she wasn't close with her dad, she immediately went to help him when he needed it. I also really liked how caring and supportive she was with Daniel. As she found out more about his past, she allowed him to lean on her and didn't show him pity but instead was understanding. These two were extremely real to me and they just seemed to fit together perfectly right from the start. They were a great balance together and had an amazing chemistry. These two were super hot together, and I could almost feel the steam coming off my Kindle from them.

Overall, I am so glad that I read this book! I loved Daniel and Story. I thought that they were great characters and their story was interesting. I was invested in them instantly and couldn't wait to see how they got to their HEA. I also really liked the secondary characters as well, and I cannot wait to read more in this series. The book was well written and was the perfect amount of banter and steam. The one thing I didn't really care for was the name Story. But that is such a minor complaint that it didn't affect how I felt about Officer Off Limits at all. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone and everyone who likes romance! If you haven't read this one yet, you are missing out on a great book. I know this one will definitely be a book that I will think about and reread again in the future. I can't wait to read more from Tessa Bailey, starting with the rest of this series.

**Copy provided by Publisher**

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