They Were Soldiers...
Until a ruthless mercenary's dark experiments made them so much more. Elite fighters Nick Cormac and Chase Turner are sworn to hunt him and his operatives down, but never counted on a pretty, green-eyed blond named Emelia Drake getting in the way. Oh, Emelia; stuck in a dead-end job and jilted by yet another cheating boyfriend, she deserves a little excitement. But stumbling into a criminal operation and forced into hiding with two hot soldiers of fortune is at first more terrifying than exciting. Convinced that Chase and Nick are gay, Emelia has to keep her lustful instincts on lock-down; but as the trio spend more time together, they discover that love can be a three-way street.
This story initially intrigued me on the premise of a power-mad mercenary attempting to create super-soldiers, and was mildly disappointed that little was revealed in this regard. However, watching the gradual and sweet seduction of Emelia by two men whose love for each other turns out to be more than just sexual preference, totally made up for it. Soldier on, Ghost Unit 1; can't wait to meet the boys (and girls?) of Ghost Unit 2 !!
You can take the boy out of the country...
...but a new country can definitely get into the boy, and make him explore new territory he never dreamed of.
Johnny Fabian isn't entirely happy with his life but isn't planning on any radical changes as he deals with the fallout of divorce and keeping his business alive in small town California. However, he's not averse to a change of pace when offered a free trip to a tropical destination from nice-guy Nelson O'Keefe, the local veterinarian but he never thought a change of pace would turn out to be a complete 180 in sexual orientation.
I'm not certain how many straight guys can actually turn gay overnight, but at least Johnny puts up a fight before getting pulled headlong into the vortex of gay abandon all around him at a secluded resort in St. Maarten. Johnny approaches his situation logically and with deep thought and self-examination before allowing himself to fall in love with another man, giving the book some believability and non-GLBT readers like me a comfortable entry point into the story. The only uncomfortable moment is when the author refers to a book by Jane Austin. Ahem, that's Jane Austen. (Please, if you're going to quote from great literature, get the spelling right).
Still, this is a joyful book, and the joy is not in reading about homosexual exploits but about the true nature of love and caring for another person. Tropical vacations are nice, but Johnny and Nelson prove that you don't necessarily have to leave the country to discover new horizons. Happy Trails!
A fascinating musical and socio-economic trip through a bygone era!
Raised by his black grandmother in turn of the century New Orleans, mixed-race pianist Fitzgerald Delacroix struggles through poverty and racial discrimination while determined to make his living in the music business.
In exploring Fitz's day to day life, we are reminded of how far we've come as a society since those early days of the 20th century, when open prejudice and unthinkable discrimination were the law. The author weaves a rich tapestry of not only the realities, but also the popular musical genres, environments and influencers of the time. Music lovers and performers alike will appreciate the vivid and accurate descriptions of Fitz's performance style and technique throughout the book, as well as its colorful and well developed characters. From the formidable 'Gramaw' to the drug-addled friend Jed and the enigmatic fellow musician Hampton Lindsay, each contributes significantly to the story and to the shaping of Delacroix's life. It is also pleasing to note the many references to the piano works of composer Scott Joplin, whose ragtime tunes caught the attention of a new generation when used in the 1970s film 'The Sting'. Some minor drawbacks in that the story is rather drawn out longer than necessary, and as an ARC manuscript needs a thorough editing and spell check. After Dark Rag is a rare and unvarnished look into the New Orleans Rag and Jazz scene, where people of color found joy and inspiration in their music despite the stigma of slavery and the ever-present obstacles of racism, addiction and poverty.
Perhaps not so different from today, after all.
Marriage for the sake of title is not what Emily Whitehorn had in mind for her future, but with few romantic prospects after caring for her ailing mother for years, can her cousin Sarah, the former Lady Northenly, help her check off her list of suitable gentlemen to approach? This is another interesting installment to the Soliciting a Lady series, that further elaborates on the complexities of society in a time gone by. Again we have a curious murder mystery, a heroine who is a tad eccentric, and an unintended hero with his own eccentricities garnered from the bedroom and the battlefield. When the top contender for Emily's hand, the current Earl of Northenly, is found poisoned, both Emily and the new object of her affections, the Earl's half brother Christopher, become immediate suspects.
Thus begins the unwinding of the mystery, and while equally intriguing as the previous series, the action happens extremely fast and with little buildup or explanation. This makes the story not only confusing but leaves the reader feeling that they've missed out on some juicy details. What remains juicy however is Emily and Christopher's bedroom activity, which occurs not just in the bedroom but in other, less conventional, settings. I think we can look forward to even more eyebrow-raising escapades as this quirky period-piece series continues!
Young Scotsman Jamie MacDonald has little to leave behind after losing his father and brothers at the infamous Battle of Culloden, but booking passage to the New World proves even more uncertain when he is captured and forced into service aboard a pirate ship bound for different shores entirely--and finds himself exploring the uncharted waters of a love affair with it's handsome captain.
Wow. Not usually a fan of gay romance, this Outlander-style story lured me in with its period intrigue and did not disappoint! Our hero Jamie is just old enough to begin carving out his own destiny, but young enough to be influenced by new and unusual experiences along the way. All of his ingrained beliefs are literally blown out of the water as he eventually takes up the cause of his captors aboard ship and succumbs to the irresistible charisma and sex appeal of Captain Antonio Rodriguez.
While we feel sorrow and trepidation for Jamie, Rodriguez himself is an endearing character, His firm but fair treatment of Jamie, followed by compassion and genuine love for him are a testament to his admirable character. Their attraction goes beyond the physical and is borne out of a similarly tortured past. Amid a shipful of crewmates, their intimate moments are understandably brief but torrid and emotional, creating an intense relationship between the two men and a sensation-packed experience for the reader.
In a time when life is short, you learn to take the good things when and where you can. With well-written dialogue and a delightfully surprising voyage to one of my favorite places on the globe, I recommend this journey to all historical romance travelers! Complete with a tantalizing teaser of the next installment in the series, this story will leave you yearning for what else is on the horizon and shouting 'full speed ahead'!
SOMETHING WITCH-ED THIS WAY COMES
Only we're not sure what. Sidonie Cordumont is a witch on a mission. To free her witch-colleagues imprisoned in the Paris bastille, she must call on all her resources and connections to help her complete the task before she meets her own fate. What she doesn't count on is the aid of the man who was once her betrothed, whose love for Sidonie still burns but who is bound in a prison of his own making.
Charming but confounding, this period piece seems like book 2 of a series where book 1 has somehow been misplaced. In the opening scene we are expected to have some inkling as to who Sidonie is, why she is where she is and what she's trying to accomplish, as well as the other characters and their significance to her life. Sadly, these are never described clearly, lost in the author's attempt to write in the intricate language and vernacular of the day. In addition to a confusing sequence of events, a number of typos and missing words that have escaped the editor's notice further detract from the flow of the story. However, some exquisite turns of phrase sprinkled throughout offer redemption, just as Sidonie herself is redeemed in the exciting but brutal final scenes. The backdrop of 17th century Paris is also vividly depicted and well researched, making for an overall enjoyable read.
Dark but fascinating, this story will have historical and paranormal romance fans shouting: "Vive la France, Vive l'amour!!"
DROWNING HER SORROWS
Thirtysomething widow Gayle Connolly works in the beer business but all the beer in the world won't drown her grief over losing both her husband and son in a fatal crash. Parting the waters of her self-blame is no easy task for Noah Stokes, the young man whose own dreams were dashed by circumstance but whose fatal attraction for his new boss Gayle provides an entirely new bottle to drink from.
Overcoming grief and giving one's self permission to forgive and move on is the major theme here. Though tragic, Gayle Connolly's three year wallow in self-pity seems a little overdramatized. Also, her ultra-rich, more-money-than-Croesus lifestyle is a little unbelievable, as is some out-of-character dialogue and sudden, slutty behavior on both character's parts. However, she manages to turn the head of a hard-working and honest young man several years her junior. Predictably, she pushes him away but gradually succumbs to his advances. The sad part is the wringer she puts him through along the way.
While I like the older woman-younger man pairing, it's not without its obvious problems. He wants to avoid being the boy-toy and poor Gayle doesn't know how to treat him any other way. Noah doesn't give up though, which is a 'testament' to his patience and willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. And like the old-testament Noah, perseverance does pay off; you just have to be the bearer of the olive branch once in awhile. The result is a story and a relationship that is a uniquely crafted brew of attraction, grief, guilt, forgiveness, hot sex, and eventually love. Cheers to that.
SEX and ___ and ROCK N ROLL.
Fill in the blank--this story rocks! Guitar Goddess Henley Hendrix must find her way back to the music after the tragic death of her best friend and bandmate Caleb King. Accompanying her brother's band on tour seems like a good way to ease into things until the attentions of rock n roll bad boy Jagger Carlyle--her childhood crush--threaten to unravel both her career and her heart.
Written with inside knowledge of the industry, Broken is an unvarnished look into the backstage lives of hard-rock musicians, and the picture is not always pretty. Enduring grueling road trips and constant media attention in addition to relentless fan expectations and the lure of addictive substances are just the start of the challenges they face. Happiness, let alone love, is elusive in this world, so when Henley discovers her attraction to Jagger is reciprocal, she approaches with caution. Luckily for readers their steamy affair escalates into the stratosphere like a face-melting guitar solo!
Alas, just as Henley begins to trust in their relationship and muster the drive to reunite her old band, things go off the rails once more, leaving readers to scream in the dark like concert going fans when the lights go out. Two things holding back five stars for this read are:
1) a fear of the main characters smoking themselves to death (really, not every musician has to smoke morning noon and night!)
2) the dreaded ending that I won't say, but rhymes with 'headbanger'...
If you like gut-wrenching roller coaster rides of the emotional kind, climb aboard the Guitar Face train. There are more tour stops to go on this road trip!
A leopard can't change its spots, but can a wolf change his ways?
Connie Duncan isn't convinced. When she accidentally learns her employer-turned-lover Tor Vladimir is a wolf-shifter she wants nothing more than to run away from him, and his relentless pursuit of her across a continent only proves he will never stop, never surrender, nor ever be the man she thought he was. Once caught, will she ever escape him again?
This story hooks you from the start, as Connie hides from Tor in the backstreets of Milan, Italy only to come face to face with him just as she's preparing to make a break for it. What follows is an exploration of their unconventional relationship, their true feelings for each other, and the ins and outs of how an unwilling wolf shifter came to be and how he manages the hand fate has dealt him.
It takes some convincing, and some TLC, but when these two finally get close their encounters are smoking hot and satisfying, especially against the backdrop of Tor's magnificent mountain retreat. Who wouldn't feel the call of the wild in a beautiful, isolated setting, virtually marooned with a sexy hunk of a man who is part wolf? But for a pair that is inevitably fated to be together, Connie and Tor appear very conflicted toward each other. Connie's endless internal rationalizations about her situation get a bit tiresome, and both characters' flip-flopping between love and hate is as frustrating as watching the petals being plucked off a daisy.
However, what's love without its challenges? While they can't change what they are, in the end both must change a little to make it work, and find that happy ever after. That's true whether you're wolf or human! A love story to really sink your teeth into!
Life doesn't always give you what you want. In the end you have to make it yourself.
Life is Hard. But it was harder in the Old West. Harrison Carter's worked hard to make his fortune in the silver mines of Colorado, to be able to finally send for his long-awaited fiance Jenny back in Illinois. So it's little wonder he's pissed when who should arrive by train on his wedding day is not Jenny but her sister Retta, complete with toddler in tow.
While the idea of swapping one bride for another makes for good storytelling, in those days it was not just a story; it was sometimes a necessity. Harrison's initial rejection of Retta and anger at Jenny is understandable, but marries Retta anyway to honor Jenny's dying wish. Retta is just as apprehensive but has little prospects herself being the mother of an illegitimate child. Both Harrison and Retta are taking big risks, but with big risks come big rewards. The development of their relationship is heartwarming and Harrison's acceptance of Retta's daughter Adeline as his own shows the strong type of character he is. Retta also shows a bit of steel in her spine while at the same time doing what's expected of her under difficult circumstances. Throw in the token villain, in this case Slim Morgan and his cadre of slime balls who aim to take both Harrison's livelihood as well as his pretty new wife, and you have a fairly cliche if somewhat boring period drama that seems dragged out over more pages than is necessary. However, what makes it intriguing is that the story was inspired by a true-life family history. If that's so, then any preconceived ideas of the era's straight-laced, buttoned-up behavior in the bedroom in are out the window thanks to the author's skillful depiction of some wild west action between homespun sheets!
Western romance fans can saddle up comfortably with this predictable but satisfying read!