Wanted: Wild Thing by Jessica Sims (Midnight Liaisons #4)

Wanted Wild Thing by Jessica SimsAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Pocket

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Nikki

Ryder is hiding a dark secret from her coworkers at Midnight Liaisons. Every time she’s sexually attracted to a man, her dragon side breaks through. Not exactly man-bait! But she needs to lose her virginity before her twenty-fifth birthday, or she’ll become a dragon forever.

Her solution? Big, hunky Hugh, the appointed guardian of her chastity. He’s clearly hot for her, but he has powerful reasons to resist Ryder. Can temptation—and love—possibly find a way?

 

Ryder is a changeling. A fact that she finds disgusting and embarrassing. She didn’t think it could get much worse until an otherbeing shows up claiming to be her owner and informing her he’d be breeding her with another changeling because they are incredibly rare and prized. When he  leaves a bodyguard in his place to protect her virginity until her changeling side completes a final change Ryder is outraged.

Hugh just has a job to do. Protect Ryder’s virginity for his boss and then he’ll get what was promised to him and his brothers. He never intended to like the woman he’s supposed to be watching. Ryder is slowly wearing down his resolve to fulfill his promise. Instead he might have found something more important than a vow. He might have found love.

This series has always been fluffy easy reading that was great to fill the time between harder hitting books. Perfect for unwinding and just flowing along with the breezy story lines. Wanted: Wild Thing wasn’t any different though it was a bit anti-climactic for a series ending book. It’s not that I didn’t like it. I totally did. But it didn’t feel like an ending book. I guess that’s because there really wasn’t a story arc that went from book to book. The only real connection between the characters is the paranormal dating agency they all somehow end up at.

Previous books had characters faced with a bit of danger and I didn’t really feel that in this one. Ryder and Hugh’s story mainly focused on their budding relationship with a healthy amount of snarky dialogue. Ryder is incredibly likable, and I did feel bad for her plight of being someone elses “property” but I wish there would have been a bit more thrill at the ending to bring the series to a close. Also….Hugh is a VIRGIN just like Ryder…which I won’t lie….I enjoyed immensely. He’s this huge, socially inept guy who doesn’t really understand the human realm  and Ryder’s constantly changing emotions. Hugh is the exact opposite of Ryder’s outgoing, bubbly nature and watching them together just made me feel good.

I found Wanted: Wild Thing to be cute, endearing at times and witty. I’m sad to see the series come to an end.

 

I give Wanted: Wild Thing by Jessica Sims 3.50 stars

 

 

Dirty Deeds by Lorelei James

23347596Available: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Samhain

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Nikki

When good, clean fun just isn’t an option.

Just once, good girl Tate Cross wants to experience a red-hot, no-strings-attached affair. She’s temporarily left her graphic artist position in Denver to settle her aunt’s estate in Spearfish, South Dakota, but the city won’t let her sell the property until the landscaping is up to snuff. The Native American landscape contractor her friend highly recommends looks like he can meet all her needs, in the flowerbed and out.

Nathan LeBeau believes few women look at the Native American man beneath the filthy work clothes and hard hat. When Tate offers to trade art lessons for dirt work, the tempting subtext is as plain as the lettering on the side of Nathan’s truck. But in truth, he’s tired of relationships based solely on sex. His goal of proving he’s not completely hopeless in matters of the heart is second only to his dream of expanding his business.

It figures. Tate wants no-holds-barred sex right about the time the one-time Casanova wants a good old-fashioned romance. Bring on the battle of wills!

 

My first thought when I received this book for review? Damn, I want to mount that man on the cover and ride him like a prize winning show pony. But then again, I have a weakness for Native American men….and construction workers…and…well you get the picture right? Anyway, upon first looking at the cover I had extremely high hopes. It’s called Dirty Deeds after all.

Looking for a simple sex with no strings arrangement, graphic artist Tate proposes an arrangement with her best friends, very good looking brother. Sex with him in exchange for help landscaping her newly acquired property and her art skills to help with his blueprint drawings. Seemed like a good idea until he agrees and then wants to take it slow, instead building anticipation to a near boiling point. Tate only has six weeks and then it’s back to the big city and real life. She’s doesn’t have time or the need for a relationship.

Nathan has had more flings than he cares to admit. Long days make for short nights and little time leftover for a life. Tate just wants him for a short time but Nathan has a full on romance in mind. That and landscaping her very central property might be just the thing he needs to showcase his landscaping company so he can stop digging trenches.

When a determined to have sex woman hooks up with a romance wanting Don Juan, there’s bound to be trouble.

Lorelei James has given me exactly what I crave in a contemporary romance! Dirty Deeds is a fun, light read that was just perfect for my mood in between darker, angsty books. The battle of wills between Tate and Nathan made for some fun reading and situations. Nathan was just as determined to woo Tate as she was to get into his pants for some dirty shenanigans. Their constant banter was at times funny and then emotional. I loved the fact that Nathan was trying so hard to change his image. He was simply sigh-worthy with all those muscles and that long dark hair. *Growl*

While a book titled Dirty Deeds invokes an image of erotic romance, I found this one to be on the sweeter side than what I was thinking it would be. The sex was good, don’t get me wrong here, it was just few and far between. Further than what I usually get in a James book, but perhaps that’s because this is an older title that is being re-released now with that new hot cover. The story (and lack of sex) worked well with the characters and their development as the book progressed.

Dirty Deeds may not be very dirty but it sure is a wonderfully written book with lovable characters and a well paced plot. As always, Lorelei James delivers without fail!

 

I give Dirty Deeds by Lorelei James 4 stars!

 

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks (Slow Burn #1)

20910177Available: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Romantic Suspense/Paranormal

Publisher: Avonbooks/William Morrow

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Nikki

A sizzling story of a woman who risks her life and her heart to find a wealthy man’s missing sister—the first novel in a sexy new romantic suspense series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks

When Caleb Devereaux’s younger sister is kidnapped, this scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot.

While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.

Deeply remorseful for the pain he’s caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie’s vanished forever, she reappears. She’s in trouble and she needs his help. Now, Caleb will risk everything to protect her—including his heart. . .

 

I have no idea how to write this review. I have a lot of feels about this book and they all conflict with each other to the point that sitting down and trying to be coherent is making my brain hurt something awful. I guess my biggest issue is that lately I feel like Maya Banks works are all blending together. If asked to pick one out of a lineup by the plot I’d have trouble trying to remember what set each book apart and that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Keep Me Safe is a classic romantic suspense with a ton of psychic elements thrown in for good measure. You might remember this type of element from Bank’s KGI series. The heroine, Ramie, is a sought after psychic because of her constant accuracy. Unbeknownst to those that seek her help is the fact that when Ramie uses her ability she also endures whatever trauma the victim is going through herself. So, yeah she’s a bit fragile, even though her will is incredibly strong to subject herself to that kind of pain repeatedly in order to help others. She thinks nothing of her own self worth so when Caleb demands she find his sister, even weak from helping someone else, she does. It, of course, costs her another sliver of her sanity and soul.

Feeling horrible for subjecting Ramie to such torment, he seeks her out to make amends (after finding his sister) only to discover she’s gone. A year of searching results in nothing until she calls him begging for help escaping a stalker hell bent on making her his next victim. Every page after that part just got just a bit more cray cray. Stalker guy is also psychic but with the ability has tethered himself to Ramie and can taunt her and see through her eyes at will. Oh and he can use mind control….aka hijack a body and control it like a demon on Supernatural.

Caleb’s own sister has visions and in order to ramp up the intrigue (and set up a future love story) we get some chapters with her POV. There is just a lot of psychic stuff flying around throughout the book. I kept wondering why his sister didn’t have a vision about herself getting kidnapped. Upon meeting Ramie in person she’s simply horrible to her and so are her other two brothers. And crying. Lots of crying from everyone. The instant love connection between Caleb and Ramie felt a bit Stockholm Syndrome-ish due to her fragility and constant need for his reassurance. That being said the sex scenes were pretty good and even if he forgot the condom a time or two I liked how he made sure Ramie was actually ready to take the next step.

Keep Me Safe is very repeaty, especially in the first 100 pages or so…as in Banks wanted to hammer home a few things. Ramie is a loner. Ramie is an outcast. Ramie doesn’t trust people. Ramie is afraid. Caleb will protect her. Caleb isn’t sure he can protect her. Caleb reassures Ramie. Caleb is worried. There were a few times I might have been tempted to root for the killer just a little bit. I understood her plight but I wanted a bit more fight from her. However, there is a subtle turning point about half way through the book, cray cray aside, where I found myself immersed in the story. Yes, it was crazy…but I liked it. I certainly didn’t put it down. Chalk that up to my white knuckled hold of my love for Banks work but it was enjoyable. The ending of the book was injected with action and a staggering, tension filled confrontation that had me on the edge of my seat.

Not something I can rave about, but I do look forward to hearing from this family again in January 2015 with In His Keeping.

 

I give Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks 3 stars

Christmas At Seashell Cottage by Donna Alward (Jewell Cove #1.5)

Christmas At Seashell Cottage by Donna AlwardAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: St Martin’s Paperback

My Copy: Net Galley

Reviewer: Pam

It’s Christmas in Jewell Cove, and local doctor Charlie Yang finds her quiet, steady life disrupted by both an abandoned baby in the nativity manger, and a real-life mystery man. Sure, she’s always wanted a family of her own, but she didn’t imagine it coming from a baby that wasn’t hers and a man who was more interested in living day by day than making long-term plans.

Ex-SEAL Dave Ricker hadn’t planned on making Jewell Cove his forever home, but the talented and tender-hearted Charlie has him reconsidering his position on settling down. Can a beautiful woman, adorable baby and a small-town full of holiday spirit change his mind for good? An enjoyable holiday short story filled with emotion and warmth. Two people that want different futures find that they might actually have more in common then they thought.

Charlie Yang is the local doctor who is fairly new to town. She moved here to be part of a community, something she never felt growing up. She is an only child of very productive parents who always put their research studies or work ahead of others and hardly had time for a child. She was a lonely child and thinks about having a family in the future.

Dave Ricker works at the boat docks and is also new to town. He moved to the area to be near his three year old daughter Nora. His life is up in the air, and he has no plans for the future other than to be near his daughter. Charlie and Dave meet while decorating the town for Christmas and again during the tree lighting ceremony and fine there is mutual attraction, it gets complicated when they find a baby in the manger. Charlie wants forever but agrees to a no strings arrangement to please Dave, but she is unhappy and pushes for more, while he backs away.

I went in to this feeling it would be a light hearted romance with Christmas as the background for a fun seasonal read. Yet there is enough emotional turmoil to satisfy those that want more.

Charlie is looking for something she has never had but she still wants to please others and she does it so subtly that it was hard to notice, she agrees to Dave’s suggestion, almost out of habit because to get what she wants, so to be with Dave she sacrifices. Yet she does not want a no strings relationship, she struggles with it daily while they are together and finally when she tells him what she wants, I was cheering her even as he walks away. But she needed to do it and I was proud of her.

Dave is less complicated, he married a woman he considered a good friend but they did not make good partners and because of his job, it was easy for his marriage to dissolve. They have a child and he wants to be part of her life, that is his only mission right now and he does not want anything to complicate it. Unfortunately Charlie wants more. They both do this dance of pushing and pulling not knowing how to proceed until they both just walk away, and it takes some time apart for them to realize what they truly want.

This is small town America and secondary characters are important to the story, Charlie’s partner Josh at the clinic is interesting and I would love to see his story someday, he is a good friend to her while her life is turned upside down. I thought it was interesting that the child they found, Daniel was in most of the scenes but did not seem to change things much, I am not sure that if he was not in the story anything would have been different, but he was cute and it added some drama. All in all this is an emotional story about the futures that two people face and how they go about getting what they want. I am a sucker for Christmas stories so the setting makes it that much more attractive. This is part of a series, but can easily be read as a standalone.

I give Christmas at Seashell Cottage by Donna Alward 4 stars!

Accidentally Yours by Lea Barrymire (Coyote Bluff #1)

Acidentally Yours by Lea BarrymireAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Self

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Nikki

Cammie has had one hell of a night. Her long-time abusive boyfriend pushed her to the limits and then a freaking wolf hit her car. While clutching a bag of frozen peas to her swollen eye she manages to rescue the wolf and make it home. But what’s she do with it after that?

Ian can’t believe his luck. After a stupid decision he’s been run out of every shifter territory he’s entered. Hoping Coyote Bluff would be different seems to have been his downfall. After a bunch of coyotes chase him through the night he finds himself being coddled by a tempting woman. His canine half is already in love with her.

Cammie’s ex comes calling, Ian’s found out by the local Alpha and the town seems bent on keeping them apart. Can they fight against everyone at once to find happiness together? Better question would be will Cammie accept Ian once he admits to being the wolf she so readily confided in and nursed back to health?

 

This was an unique book in the paranormal/shifter romance genre and at the end of the day I think I both loved it and I didn’t. By the end I was conflicted and I’m not even sure this review will make much sense but I’m going to purge myself of my thoughts and we’ll see where it goes.

Cammie has just left her abusive boyfriend and she’s heading home on a deserted road when an injured wolf runs out and hits her car. Not knowing what else to do she drags the poor animal into the backseat of her car to try and get it help. Against her better judgement of course because who in their right mind puts a wild animal in their vehicle? Especially a ginormous wolf.

Ian was minding his own business when he got cornered and nearly killed by a bunch of rogue coyotes. Having been run out of every town because of a stupid transgression years ago, he’s tired of running but the coyotes don’t care to hear his side of anything. Now he’s injured and being drug into the back of a very attractive woman’s car. To complicate matters even more, he’s stuck in animal form until his wolf form heals enough to endure the transition.

Let’s start with the wonderful writing that Lea Barrymire can accomplish. The story is fluid, well rounded and detailed enough not to have any plot holes and to keep readers interested and wanting to know more. I enjoyed the fact that Cammie wasn’t your typical stick-thin heroine and she had no problems telling it like it is. Her mouthy attitude coupled with her insecurities made her seem more like an everyday woman that we all know, rather than a woman who couldn’t possibly exist in the real world.

Where I got hung up is that Ian was stuck in wolf form for the majority of the book. Of course all the other shifters in the town know who and what he is but Cammie, being human, has no idea that the wolf who is watching her walk naked to the bathroom is a red blooded man. There is a LOT of internal dialogue as Ian starts falling for the woman but tries to talk himself out of it. Cammie spends a lot of time talking to the wolf, which is a one way conversation with the exception of his strangely human facial expressions and his ability to understand her with ease. While I thought the scenario worked at the beginning of the book by the 30% mark I wanted Cammie and human Ian to get together. Ian does have the ability to dreamwalk into Cammie’s dreams which helps some but still…it’s a dream…not real. I wanted real bow chicka wow wow shenanigans and I was denied for much of the book.

The side plot of Cammie’s abusive now EX boyfriend and his threats to her make for an interesting read and heightened emotions. Even in wolf form Ian comes to her rescue several times. I enjoyed the action Barrymire wove into the story and thought the ending was fitting to the characters.

There is also some interesting side relationships that I am incredibly eager to find out more about. I am looking forward to coming back to this town in the next release!

 

I give Accidentally Yours by Lea Barrymire 3.75 stars! 

Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane #7)

Darling Beast by Elizabeth HoytAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Romance

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

My Copy: NetGalley

Reviewer: Pam

A MAN CONDEMNED . . .

Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown’s soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he’s quickly driven to distraction . . .

A DESPERATE WOMAN . . .

London’s premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she’s forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren’t the only inhabitants—a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there’s more to this man than meets the eye. I love this series; every single book has been amazing. I have been looking forward to Apollo’s story since we met and watched him suffer in Bedlam. Now that he has escaped, the race is on to find the real killers with the help of friends and a lovely actress.

Lily Stump is an out of work actress, living in the ruins of the grand theater, Harte’s Folly. With her son Indio and her friend and former nursemaid Maude, they are trying to eke out a living with the help of Asa Makepeace, also known as Mr. Harte. She realizes the gardens are inhabited by another and she is leery and worried for her son because as they get to know Apollo she finds he is an enigma and is not sure what to think.

Apollo is in hiding; he is wanted for murder but he has good friends and a loving sister that want to help clear his name. He is a wiz at gardening and loves the feel of working with the land, so his friend Asa has him cleaning up his theater and creating an amazing maze. After he meets Lily he tries to stay away but her precocious son wants to become friends. When the authorities find him, he escapes and disappears to find his accusers. Lily meets him again at an estate she is performing at and his friends face danger as they try to solve the murder mystery.

This is another engaging addition to the Maiden Lane series. I have read each one and have enjoyed the mystery, danger and suspense they all bring to this happy reader.

Apollo is a wonderful hero; he has never wanted to assume the role of a Viscount, he is a man who enjoys working with the land, creating gardens that will delight a visitor. It was torture for him to while in that hell for four years and you can feel his emotions while he relishes the outdoors and the dirt in his hands. He suffered so much in Bedlam and is still affected by the torture, beatings and confinement he experienced. At the story’s beginning he is still unable to talk because of his most recent beating, and it makes the relationship between Lily and Apollo that much more endearing to read about.

I like Lily, she is an unusual heroine and she has had it rough these past few years, she was blacklisted for going with Harte’s theater group and lost all prospects of employment but she is resilient and still strives for more. Her son Indio is a delight, I love his curiosity and thoughtfulness with others and enjoyed that he is featured so much during the story and his friendship with Apollo is priceless. Her brother Edwin is a sleaze and treats her poorly, but she understands she lives in unforgiving times for women, yet what he did for her in the end makes me happy with how the relationship between the two ends up.

The attraction between Lily and Apollo is apparent, they dance around each other for most of the book as she does not know who he is and he is still dealing with the murder accusations but you can tell they feel something special for each other. And when they do get together the scenes sizzle and I adore the witty conversations they have. The mystery of the murders and why someone framed Apollo is interesting and I like the twist that had me guessing until the end. The secondary characters are pivotal and make interesting entanglements; I am still not sure what to make of the Duke of Montgomery, he is definitely an interesting man and of course Captain Trevillon and the lovely Lady Phoebe will have an exciting story to tell.

The pace of the book works well, we enjoy watching the relationship grow as Lily and Apollo get to know each other, the pace picks up when the world finds out that Apollo is still alive and living in the area and of course the danger is apparent while he tries to clear his name and the truth comes out. I do miss the St Giles story line a bit and I am not sure if it is finished at part of this series, I so enjoyed the mystery of the Ghost in several books. This is a must read of those that are keeping up with this series, and I also recommend it to those that enjoy historical romances with a tortured hero and an amazing romance. This is the seventh in the series but it can easily be read as a standalone as the author updates the reader about important instances.

I give Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt 4.5 stars!

Ghost Layer by Robin D. Owens (Ghost Seer #2)

20821163Available: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Berkley

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Pam

What lies beneath… Clare Cermak’s adjusting to a new man in her life—and a lot of ghosts. The passing of Clare’s aunt gave way to a sizeable inheritance of not only money, but also the ability to communicate with the dead. At the same time, she met Zach Slade, a private detective with a rough past, and just like Clare, he’s not yet ready to accept her gift—or his own.

But Clare has another matter to look into. A multimillionaire needs her help after relocating an old ghost town to his mountain estate. The bones of a murdered prospector are making nightly appearances in his guests’ beds. When the gold miner’s ghost contacts Clare, she promises to help find the name of his killer—but someone doesn’t want the past revealed and might find her first…

Ghost Layer is the second in the Ghost Seer series and takes up right after the first book, moving the series along nicely. Clare is still grappling with her gift but is enjoying her new relationship with Zach.

Clare Cermak is trying to learn about the ghosts that are now part of her life, she received her seer gift from her great aunt, and when Clare dies it will pass down to her niece Dory. Clare has not been as diligent with her studying as Enzo, her ghost helper, an energetic Labrador, wants her to be but ghosts from her time period (late 1800’s) are not waiting for her to accept things, as they need help now.

Zach Slade is her friend and lover, they have been together for about six weeks, he is an ex cop newly back in the Denver area working for a private investigator. Zach was injured while on duty several months ago and is learning an ancient technique for fighting using a cane called bartitsu, this will help his confidence so he does not feel so inept at times.

Zach’s boss Tony Rickman hires Clare for a case, a wealthy businessman relocated an old mining town to his property, and the bones of a man long dead have been mysteriously appearing in people’s bed. When Clare begins to delve into the mystery, it seems someone does not want her to know the past, putting her in danger.

I like this series and enjoyed this book as much as the first one, Ghost Seer. I did have to remind myself at times about the timeline, this takes place almost immediately after the first one, and not much has changed, Clare is still struggling with her gift, their relationship is still new and tentative and Zach still does not want to deal with either his brother’s murder or his own gift.

Poor Clare, she just wants to be the accountant she was a few months ago, she is unhappy with what has happened to her life but I do like that she is trying, even asking about the books from her aunt that will give her more knowledge. I love her relationship with Enzo, he has so much energy he makes me tired just by reading about him, he helps as much as he is able and they are so cute together. And although her life is forever altered and she gets grumpy with others and can be stubborn, I like her grit, determination, and even her grudging acceptance.

I liked Zach from the beginning; he is a former cop that has also had to rethink his life. Both Clare and Zach are going through similar issues and I think they gain much from each other as they navigate their new lifestyles. The attraction between them is amazing and they have a hard time being apart and enjoy each other, I like how they are building a friendship along with being lovers. Zach also grows in this story and we learn more about his past and his mother, I am looking forward to seeing more from this enigmatic woman that has past her gift to her son, even if his suppresses it.

The pace of the story works well; Clare and Zach look into the death of a miner in the 1800’s which causes a reaction from someone in our current century bringing danger to Clare. The mystery is intriguing and the ending is predictable but still enjoyable. This can be read as a standalone even though it is the second book, there is a continued story arc that follows from the first book but the author does a great job of recapping so you will not feel lost. There are several secondary characters that I found interesting and look forward to seeing more of, I am definitely excited to see what happens next with this series.

I give Ghost Layer by Robin D. Owens 4 stars!