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Archive for January, 2012

Saying Yes

A quick and delightful read. Zadie has just finished with her boyfriend (d1ckhead) and moved out, lugging her belongings in an overstuffed case. She’s feeling a little bruised and can’t face moving back with her mother, but she has a sanctuary lined up, somewhere to lick her wounds in peace. Her best friend Stef has just gone on holiday with her boyfriend Fabian, and Zadie has been assured she can use Fabian’s flat while they’re away. Perfect! Well almost. It’s an absolute tip when she arrives and she has to spend the day cleaning it.

She freaked out at the three human fingers lurking at the bottom of the fridge. Breathed a sigh of relief when she worked out they were very old carrots.

But eventually, she’s done and sinks into a deep bath to relax… And that’s when a very drunk Tristan walks in. Fabian’s younger brother is also trying to hide from the world, and where better than his empty apartment? It comes as a shock to both of them when he bursts into the bathroom sopping wet and planning to have a shower.

He nudged open the door with his backside and flipped out the cork as he walked in and turned round.

“Jesus Christ,” he yelled.

Champagne frothed down his hand as he stared at the creature in the tub. He’d never drink again. Ever.

Zadie’s ex always told her she said ‘no’ too much, so now she decides to say ‘yes’ instead. And that includes letting the delicious Tristan share her food, her champagne and her bath…

“You’ve probably used all the hot water,” he said. “Can I get in?”

“Yes.” Oh fuck, did I say that? The word had slipped past her brain’s quality control.

Barbara Elsborg keeps things light and frothy (no bath-pun intended) with a laugh-out-loud sense of fun rippling through this story as well as some sizzling between the sheets (and in the water) action. Hot and very enjoyable, this is a 5/5.

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Spliced

Three and a half stars

Soldiers and team-mates, Ridge Gates and Cale Easton are closer than brothers and serve together in the army, watching each others backs. When Cale is killed in a mortar attack in Afghanistan, Ridge wishes he could have died instead. However, he made a promise to the dying Cale to look after his twin sister, Avery, and he intends to honour that. He’s been in love with Avery for years – as long as he’s known Cale – and he’s long since accepted that Avery deserves better than a Grunt. Especially one as damaged as him. He has no idea that Avery is in love with him.

The night Cale’s body is brought back the US is hard for both of them and they meet up in a hotel. Avery needs Ridge, and no longer as just a friend.

Everything he’d ever wanted was right here in front of him and he’d be a bastard for taking it, or a bastard for refusing.

Avery looked at him. “Pretend I’m someone else if you have to. Just give me this.”

After possibly the best night of sex ever, for both of them, Ridge slips out and leaves while she’s asleep, starting a pattern that lasts throughout the story.

She’d thrown herself at him, practically begged him to take her and God, she’d had to force him with her thoughts.

Shame. What she’d done to him was shameful and degrading. She’d even told him to pretend she was someone else if he had to. Did she really believe he’d want her after all these years of him basically ignoring her? What a pathetic dope she was.

“He used you, Avery.”

“No, she said. I used him.”

Their feelings for each other are complicated by a strange psychic connection that Avery shared with her twin – one that seems to have now transferred to Ridge. It takes her a while to tell him about this, during which time he thinks he’s losing his mind.

“I can’t believe this,” he muttered, looking as though he wanted to run. “So you can invade my head at any time?”

Invade, the word cut through her like a hot knife. He made her sound like a villain in some science fiction movie… it wasn’t like that.

“I don’t invade your head,” she answered calmly.

“Then what the fuck do you call it?”

Their on-off relationship is complicated by the addition of local cop, Kevin Stone, who takes a liking to Avery – and an instant dislike for Ridge. He joins the story when Avery’s house is broken into and all her belongings smashed up. Avery’s life is suddenly in danger and it has to be connected to the final, doomed mission in Afghanistan. Ridge’s memories are hazy – had Cale done something – or found something – that he shouldn’t?

This story engaged me and annoyed me in equal parts. Avery and Ridge grieved and loved and fought, with buckets full of emotion, but it became a little repetitive. They’d make up, have sex, then Ridge would run away again. True, he had his reasons, but I’m annoyed with him for behaving like that – and for Avery putting up with it. Even more irritating was when she played with Stone, dangling him and his interest to boost her bruised ego. Stone made the situation plain to Ridge:

“That woman is hurting, and most of the hurt is coming because of you. Either cut her loose and stop dangling her or step up and be a man. As of now, she has options. Keep that in mind.”

It bugged me that Stone fell for Avery so quickly, he seemed too rounded a character to fall head over heels in love with a woman on Day One. And while his dislike of Ridge seemed genuine enough, it was obvious they’d become friends.

So…. It was a good read, but not brilliant. 3.5 out of 5.

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Simple Need

I loved this novella and it reminded me of Laura Kaye’s Hearts in Darkness (which I also loved) in the intensity and depth of the story, with so much emotion packed into a short novella.

Elise has just been dumped – by text message – and goes to a bar to drown her sorrows. Somewhere she wouldn’t normally venture, where she can be alone. She’s on the verge of leaving when a stranger joins her at the bar, the kind of man she’d normally avoid. Tattooed. Hard looking. Gloriously hot and yummy.

He was way too tempting and her bruised ego was way too vulnerable.

Before she knows it, she tells him why she’s there.

Tattoo man leaned close, his breath whispered into her ear, fanned across her skin, and she fought not to shiver, fought not to lift her head and turn it just a fraction of an inch to her right. “Let me take care of you.”

She’s not the kind of girl to go off with a stranger. But she’s tempted.

When he put the glass back down, half the liquid was gone. “This isn’t one of those thinking moments. This is one of those go-for-it ‘doing’ moments. I want you to smile big and bright and I want to see tears in your eyes because you’ve some so much… because you’ve come so hard.”

She imagines they’ll go to a hotel, nice and anonymous, but he wants to take her back to his place instead. After a steamy clinch in the yard outside the bar, she throws caution to the wind.

“And then there’s you. I don’t know how to have sex with a man like you.”

“What does that mean? What is a ‘man like me’?”

“Dark. Dirty. Hard. Unconventional.”

Even his name is unconventional – Vintner. I swooned several times and squeeed plenty as he took her home and then did as he promised, he looked after her. She’s drunk too much, so he puts her to bed. To sleep. I was a goner at that point. Of course, when she wakes up, they finally get it on. Things are hotting up nicely when Vinter murmurs to her:

“Before we go further, you need to see something.”

Oh. Wow. He has piercings… < wink > And a bod to die for.

 There was something incredibly mouth-watering about a man unbuttoning his jeans that a zipper just didn’t convey.

It’s a quick read. And hot. Did I mention how hot it is? But it’s not just sex with a stranger, they become more. They make that emotional connection that’s so satisfying to read.

He made her feel alive, womanly, sexual, desired whereas the Suits never did. Around them, she always felt she was auditioning for a part in their lives.

There’s a fantastic scene where her ex calls her up, right when they’re in the middle of some seriously steamy getting-to-know-each-other moves. He wants her back? She can’t have moved on already… can she? You’ll have to read it to find out 🙂

Definitely a 5/5 and I will be seeking out more by Lissa Matthews.

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Something Wicked (A Living in Eden Novel)

Part 2 of the Living In Eden series and it’s every bit as good as the first, if not better. Eden has had a little time to get used to her resident demon, Darrak, but he continues to surprise and irritate her on an almost daily basis. Still intent on finding a method to break the curse (that binds him to her body), he ‘borrows’ her body while she’s asleep to go and meet an old friend, Theo, another Archdemon. Theo is everything Darrak used to be: emotion-free, evil, dangerous and without any moral compass. He assures Darrak that inhabiting human bodies for the past 300 years is the reason why Darrak now behaves more like a human; the moment he shakes off Eden, he’ll revert back to being a full Archdemon again – and he’s tempted. Who’s to say that these ‘feelings’ he has for Eden are real? He might be imagining them.

Together they battle against Theo, Lucifer and Eden’s almost-boyfriend-turned-demon-killer Ben, while coping with werewolves and the Malleus (the demon-killing-Cult). Seems like everyone wants Eden dead and the more time Darrak spends with Theo, the less she trusts him.

Michelle Rowen has an excellent ear for dialogue, especially the sharp rivalry between Darrak and Leena (a were-cat that’s also taken up residence with Eden). Darrak has some great one liners and remains a brilliant example of a gorgeous, hot demon with a nice side. I’m looking forward to the 3rd and final part of this series. 5/5

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His Indecent Proposal

This was a difficult book to review. A quick read, it was based around a classic, tried & tested romance premise: obscenely-rich-but-lonely man (David) needs a wife in a hurry and makes a businesslike marriage proposition to a woman he barely knows (Jenna).

As if they were connected by an invisible wire, she could feel when he watched her. And he watched her often.

And it should have worked. Lynda Chance has a delightful writing style, so many lines and quotes leapt out at me, sucking me in and helping me to identify quickly and easily with the heroine.

She usually kept ramen noodles, microwave popcorn and cups of macaroni and cheese for such occasions. The problem was, she had been having a lot of such occasions lately. Her drawer was depressingly empty.

I wanted this to work. Jenna, a lowly accountant in David’s firm, overhears a conversation in the kitchen:

She heard the door shut, the shuffle of feet and an irritated male voice. “Goddammit, let it go. What the f*** am I supposed to do, post a job opening for a wife?”

… Before she could stop herself, she heard the words that impetuously popped from her mouth. “Do I apply in HR?”

But I hated David.

She looked at the handsome blond because he was infinitely the less dangerous of the two.

Rude to the point of being obnoxious, he wasn’t so much an Alpha as a Jerk! He took her to dinner, took her to bed and then to Vegas the next day to get married. He promises to pay her a large amount of money to stay married for two years and Jenna, saddled with a massive debt from college, reluctantly agrees.

He pushed Jenna around, refused to listen to her and gave her no reason at all to like him – and then suddenly he declares he’s in love and like magic, she is too. Sorry, but I just don’t buy it. 3/5 – only because of the excellent quality of the actual writing.

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Mergers and Acquisitions (Siren Publishing Classic)

Emily is stuck in Sydney for an unexpected weekend with her lecherous boss Carlton. She’s the accountant working on the massively important acquisition of a major hotel and needs her wits about her, in order to represent their client. Returning to her hotel room at the end of a stressful day, she’s wiped out and longs for some relaxation. Distraction comes in the form of the delicious American Randy (Randall) Mortimer, occupying the room – and balcony – next door.

His immaculately fitted black pinstripe pants curved over what could turn out to be a very cute backside. He appeared cool but elegant in the matched vest and crisp white shirt. The buttons left open at the cuffs and collar gave him an air on shabby chic.

They chat and flirt a little, and Emily learns that he works at the hotel as a waiter. When he delivers a fabulous neck massage alongside her room service dinner, she’s smitten and hopes to see more of him. Although there’s a definite spark between them, he holds her at arms length initially, making her wonder if he’s really interested or not.

It’s only when she’s due to move to another hotel and Randy offers his room for the weekend, that their fling takes off.

“You came to say good-bye?”

Slowly, he shook his head and picked at a piece of imaginary fluff on his shirt sleeve. “Not exactly. I came to beg you to stay here.”

“Like you said, the hotel is fully booked for the weekend, some dickheads convention or something, so you’ll have to stay in my room.”

As far as Emily’s concerned, he’s perfect. And as distractions go, he’s a major one, when she has to go back to work on Monday – especially when she learns he’s not just a waiter after all.

“How do you fancy being flat on your back on top of a Full English?”

Emily moved closer and whispered in his ear. “I’d rather be flat on my back beneath a hot American.”

Can she continue with the acquisition – and can she get through it with her heart intact?

“Em, please come out and talk to me.” His voice sounded strained, choked with emotion. He did a wonderful impression of a man who cared.

I loved this book. Lillian Grant has an easy style of writing that draws the characters beautifully. And who wouldn’t enjoy a gorgeous guy like Randy delivering room service with a smile. It’s a sexy, quick read and ideal for a sunny afternoon – or a rainy one, while dreaming of the sunshine. 5/5

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Fifty Shades Freed

Wow… I gobbled this up over the course of a weekend and had to try to slow myself down, so that I didn’t gorge on it… I’d been waiting months for this to come out, the final part of the Fifty Shades trilogy. Part 2 ended on such a cliffhanger, I was on tenterhooks!

Annnddd… while I loved it – Christian Grey is soooo addictive – I felt a little disappointed too. Partly that the trilogy has now finished, but partly because I didn’t get the same intense rush from this book. The first two were so emotional, you jumped on a rollercoaster and couldn’t get off until the ride ended. We saw Christian Grey in all his fifty shades of f*cked up. And loved him even more as he grew and developed.

I think Fifty Shades Freed had too much happiness in it. True, there were little flashes of Angry Fifty or Sulky Fifty, but the first half was essentially Happy Ana and Happy Fifty settling down together to marital bliss. For me, it all got going at 73%. The emotions surged. The primal fear and anxiety ratcheted up another notch, and another… I couldn’t put it down at that stage. And I think that was over too quickly. I would have loved that to be drawn out, for the reader to be teased for longer, for the pain and distress to be amplified even further. I felt a little cheated that EL James made it all better, so quickly. There were still a few reveals after that, but nothing to get too worked up over.

Having said that, I LOVED the ending. The little snippets of Christian’s POV have been delicious to read, to see inside his head, and I’m glad that FSF ended the way it did. 4 / 5.

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