Kendall Shaw loves her job as a boudoir photographer. When she enlists hot, gorgeous, 100% alpha male, Jase Burns for a custom photo shoot for a romance novel cover, she quickly discovers that he only took the job to get close to her. But her painful divorce has made her wary of men, and especially one who is eight years younger than she is.
The moment Jase sets his sights on beautiful, sexy Kendall, he wants her. Despite their mutual attraction, she’s rejected his every advance. But Jase loves a good challenge, and one steamy, seductive night at The Players Club changes everything between them.
Kendall has never experienced such overwhelming passion, or been pursued so tenaciously. Jase is addicting, in every way, and she soon finds herself falling for a man who doesn’t fit into her ideal future.
Can Jase convince Kendall to let go of her past and take a risk on a second chance at love—with him?
Source: Netgalley and Purchase
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Jase Burns is taking a lot of crap from his co-workers. Sure, he’s good at his job and likes to play just like the rest of the men, but Jase is the only one among the group who has taken up modeling. Jase will continue to take the crap as long as it means he can keep seeing Kendall Shaw.
Kendall Shaw is in her prime and she is looking for forever. Her boudoir photography business is booming, her circle of friends is tighter than ever, and she knows exactly the type of man she is looking for and Jase Burns isn’t that man. Oh, sure, Jase is hotter than hell and willing to model for her but he’s far, far too young for her. Kendall has already been traded in for a younger model once before and she has no interest in a younger man who will most assuredly get bored with an older woman and trade her in. Her best bet is to get Jase out of her system, continue on with her search to find the perfect man via the online dating world, get married and have the family she has always wanted.
Um, Jase isn’t OK with Kendall’s plan and though he isn’t quite ready for the whole marriage and kids thing, he is interested in more than a one night stand. First up on his plan of seduction, show Kendall what sex with him can be like and then maybe, just maybe he can convince her to stick around for something more than just the physical. The night of seduction at the Players Club goes beyond well and Kendall is on board with a friends with benefits arrangement but she makes it clear, Jase is far too young for her for the long term and once the fun is done, she’s going after her forever man.
Um, Jase still isn’t OK with Kendall’s plan . . .
The Bottom Line: I’ve been a fan of Erika Wilde since the beginning of the Marriage Diaries and I have loved pretty much every read since that first book. That is, until now. For the first time, I’m only OK with an Erika Wilde read and I think it is because of how short Playing with Seduction is. Jase and Kendall’s story and relationship simply goes too fast and doesn’t have enough time to really unfold as it deserves too. We’re talking speed of light fast, folks. Jase is such a good guy and I would have really liked to have a lot more of him and his back story. Hell, I would have liked even more of his current story. Kendall is just an alright character for me and though I understand her hesitation to be with Jase, her protestations and excuses wear thin after a while. The sex is quite good as always and Jase is quite good but Kendall is a no-go for me. At the end of the day, two out of three ain’t bad and that gets me to three stars. I sincerely hope Playing with Seduction is just a bump in the road (nearly every series has one) and the fourth book will be back to the standard I have grown accustomed to from Erika Wilde.
The last time Piper Ross saw her best friend’s sexy older brother, Jase Simmons, he was being taken away in handcuffs. Seven years later, two things haven’t changed: Piper is still head-over-heels in love with him . . . and Forrestville’s chief of police—Piper’s dad—still hates his guts. So when Piper sees a chance to get close to Jase, she makes her move—literally. As his new roommate, and as the office manager of his tattoo shop, Piper won’t be satisfied until Jase knows that she wants to be his.
The quintessential good girl, Piper is pure temptation for Jase. The only reason he’s always kept his distance is because she’s the last person he’d ever want to hurt. But once he realizes that Piper is ready to take the leap, everything just makes sense. Suddenly Jase feels like a new man—until nasty rumors start swirling and Piper’s heartless father stirs up even more trouble. Now Jase must convince Piper that she wasn’t wrong about him . . . because falling in love never felt so right.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
You would think at some point I would get tired of being an author’s bitch but I’m not there yet with Marquita Valentine. When We Fall is yet another reason I am going to continue to be Valentine’s bitch.
Since Piper Ross decided to defy her disgustingly rich, image-conscious, need-to-rot-in-hell parents, her life has been both far better and far worse. On the far worse side, she no longer has access to their money which means she can’t pay for school and she has to live well below the standard she is used too. On the far better side, Piper is now her own woman, she has some really amazing friends, and the guy she has been in love with since she was a teenager just gave her a job and a place to live.
Jase Simmons has spent the past several months making up for the seven years he spent in prison. That’s a lot of partying, a lot of drinking, and a lot of sex. Trouble is, that life style isn’t what Jase really wants and what he really wants is Piper Ross, a woman he considers himself nowhere near good enough for. Piper is innocent where Jase is tainted, Piper is sweet where Jase is harsh, Piper is pure where Jase is so far from pure. Even knowing all of that, Jase still wants Piper with a passion he never thought possible. Jase also wants a better life than he ever thought possible for himself. With Piper by his side, Jase feels like he has something and someone to work for and he begins to do so the second he becomes well and truly involved with Piper.
As Piper begins to work her way into Jase’s world, her suspicions about him are confirmed. Underneath all the bravado is a good guy with the capacity to love her in a way no other person ever has. Jase’s every action speaks to his goodness and his feelings for Piper even if he can’t admit them out loud just yet. In no time flat, Piper and Jase are completely involved with one another and happy to be so but others aren’t quite so excited about their relationship. Though she has severed virtually every tie with her parents, Piper still has to deal with them from time to time and when they get wind of her relationship, all hell breaks loose. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Piper is attacked after meeting with her parents and when Jase comes to her rescue, his past comes back to haunt him. In order to get to their HEA, Piper and Jase are going to need a whole lot of luck!
The Bottom Line: Jase Simmons is some kind of hot and his actions toward Piper makes him all the hotter. From the moment Jase decides to go all in with Piper, he is there for her 110% and no one had better get in his way. Jase lays claim to Piper in some very primal (yet tender) ways and Piper soaks up every second of her man’s attention. As the plot unfolds, Piper really comes into her own and with Jase’s support finds her own voice and a reserve of strength even she didn’t know she had. As Piper’s confidence grows, she puts everyone in their place and defends her man and her choices at every turn. In this particular instance, I absolutely loved seeing everyone getting exactly what they deserved!!
About the author and where to find her:
New York Times Bestselling Author, Marquita Valentine, writes sexy heroes that make you swoon and sassy heroines that make you laugh. She’s the author of the bestselling contemporary romance series, Holland Springs, and the new adult romance series, Boys of the South. Marquita met her husband aka Hot Builder at Sonic when they were in high school. She suggests this location to all of her single friends in search of a good man—and if that doesn’t work, they can console themselves with cheesy tatertots. She lives in North Carolina in a very, very small town with Hot Builder and their two children.
“Happily ever after is hers for the taking.”
Once upon a time I found myself locked away in Spindle Ridge Asylum, punished for a murder I didn’t commit. It was all part of Maleficent’s evil plan. I didn’t remember who I was then … now I do. My name is Aurora, and I am the rightful queen of this realm. Armed with my memories, I’m ready to take charge of my kingdom once more. Happily ever after evades me, yet I long to claim it with my true love, Sawyer, beside me. That fairy tale ending seems impossible with him locked in the thralls of a sleeping curse. As much as I’d love to sit by his bedside and eagerly await a cure, I must first travel into the terrifying Dark Woods to stop Raven from stripping me of all that is rightfully mine. I am not only a queen, but a warrior who will fight for her kingdom. Some may die. Blood will be shed. But when this ending comes, I will settle for nothing less than a blissful ever after.
Excerpt from Awaken (Book #2: The Slumber Duology):
I took a breath and let all of my energy go to my fingers.
My body still.
My heart beating a mile a minute.
The next breath would be a release.
The next breath came, and with my fingers, where all of my strength remained, I let go. The arrow flew through the air, the only thing moving. I was still as I watched it slam into the target. It hit very center of the target just like I wanted.
“Yes!” I shouted.
Sawyer would have been so proud of me. And just like that my excitement was gone. My mind now on him as he lay up in a bed, alone.
“Rory, don’t do this to yourself,” Gray said holding my arm. She knew what practicing archery did to me. She knew that I was great at it, but also that every time I did something fantastic, I missed his touch. She knew all of this without me even telling her a word because she knows me best.
“I have to go, Gray. I have to go see him and tell him about this,” I said, fighting the tears.
“No. You don’t have to go, you want to go. You’re running away, and I won’t let you,” she said sternly.
I tried to fight, but she won as she pulled me harder and into her arms.
I cried softly as she assured me we would find a way to wake him.
I pulled away and questioned, “Will we? It’s been two months and Merryweather and Flora have not sent word. They haven’t sent word because they haven’t found anything!”
Gray kept her calm face, even though I was breaking apart inside.
“Merryweather and Flora will find something, Rory. They will. We have to have faith in them. You, above all, should trust that they will not return until they find a cure for him. Look at all they did for you when you were trapped here.” Guilt slammed into me as I thought of Merryweather and how she did protect me when she took my memories away. Flora was always protective and never harsh in any way. Even when the other nurses were awful to me—like Betty or Raven—Flora, Merryweather and Fauna were kind and gentle. Always.
They were the three best fairies I had ever known, besides Gray, and here I was being ungrateful.
“Sorry,” I muttered. “You’re right. I’m just … I’m breaking inside, Gray.”
She smiled kindly and said, “And I break inside for you. But now is not the time to lose it. Now is the time to stand up and fight back, Rory. Do it for him. Because you know if he could he’d tell you to put yourself back together and defeat her.”
A smile formed on my wet lips. I wiped the tears away and picked up my bow.
I looked across the yard to where my arrow had flown. I was growing stronger as each day passed. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I was going to kill Raven when I had the chance.
About the author and where to find her:
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Ella Ferguson awakes alone in Italy, unsure of who she is, and a gorgeous man has claimed her as his own. He’s tall, dark, and sexy, with money and power, the kind of man who makes a girl want to be possessed. And he does possess her, whispering wicked wonderful promises to her, stealing her trust and her heart. Soon though, the past finds her, yanking her from a cocoon of passion and safety. Everything is not how it seems. The truth will shatter her world, but it can set her free, if it doesn’t destroy her first.
Excerpt from Denial (Book #1: Careless Whispers Series):
I couldn’t sleep. I meant to go to the kitchen and then I ended up here because I wanted . . .” His reaction cuts like his anger. “Just never mind.” I try to move around him but his hands press to the wall beside me, caging me, and now I’m angry. “Are we doing this again? Don’t bully me. My stupid flashbacks are doing a fine job of that on their own. I said I’m sorry. Just let me go back to my room.”
“You wanted what?”
“I wanted you to do what you swore you could,” I blurt, having nothing to lose when everything is already gone.
“Only I don’t want you to fuck me until I can’t remember my name. I want you to fuck me until I stop thinking about that man and the gun. Because you were right. Memories are the enemies that never die. But I know you don’t want—”
His hand slides under my hair and he drags me to him, my hand flattening on the hard wall of his chest. “I do want. So fucking bad it’s killing me.”
My palm is directly over his heart, and I can feel it racing, the air around us crackling with barely contained passion. “I don’t need a hero to save my virtue tonight. I need you. So please. Fuck me and then fuck with my head so no one else can. Let me choose my own sins.”
He is stone, unmoving, his body steel, his expression unreadable, the sexual tension crackling between us. “You want sin, sweetheart,” he says. “I’ll give you sin.” His mouth closes down on mine, his tongue licking into my mouth, wicked with demand, and I can taste his hunger, his need. A deep, aching need I want to fill.
About the author and where to find her:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT SERIES, and is now in development by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland, Austin Powers, Must Love Dogs) for cable TV. In addition, her Tall, Dark and Deadly series and The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series, both spent several months on a combination of the NY Times and USA Today lists. Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 40 books translated around the world. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann. Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine. Lisa loves to hear from her readers.
Cassius, Alpha of Sutter Butte, leads the most ruthless and dangerous pack in the United States. A pack comprised of misfits who didn’t fit in their previous packs, cast offs discarded by their packs and forgotten wolves who rose to create a pack more than a century before it utter defiance of the order of the day. Sometimes pitiless and cruel, he wants more for his people than a yearly bloodbath as they fight for a new place, a better spot in the pecking order. To change his pack, means to change himself and he will find rebellion on all sides, not the least of which is his own defiant heart.
Sovvan Stark, Omega of Delta Crescent, lives a cherished, beloved life in the center of her pack, a delicate and hard won balance. Though she is not the only Omega, she is the most experienced with the tremors of pack upset when power shifts from Alpha to Alpha. When her Alpha approaches her about Sutter Butte’s request, Sovvan considers the matter for several long months. While she might hold within her the key to helping the Sutter Butte Alpha, the undertaking could very well kill her.
Accompanied by a single Hound, Sovvan begins a journey to help Cassius rebuild the foundation of his pack, but first she will have to transform him…
Excerpt from Desert Wolf (Book #8: Wolves of Willow Bend Series):
Heat rolled in waves from the blacktop of the old highway. Around him, the desert sprawled in its painted glory, seemingly melting into the horizon where it kissed the sky. The colors streaked past him as he accelerated, blowing past the old trading posts and bypassing the interstate with its smoother surface and promise of civilization in the distance. If one sought to journey through the decades, the old highway east of Holbrook was the place to start.
Sweat slicked his back beneath the leather jacket and the motorcycle vibrated between his thighs. Clocking over a hundred, he barely noticed the machine’s growl echoing his wolf’s. Cassius Lucera del Alba, Alpha of Sutter Butte squinted to catch sight of the town he sought ahead.
Though town was a generous description for the collection of ramshackle structures—of which a filling station with a decrepit market attached and a lone bar were clearly detailed. Time hadn’t forgotten the town, it had left it in the dust by doing a hundred and sixty and never looked back. If the location had a name, no map detailed it, not even Google. The poor bastards didn’t even have a ghost to call their own.
Though they might when he finished.
He didn’t slow until he reached the main drag, all eighty-five feet of it and parked his bike in front of the bar. A handful of vehicles were scattered amongst the cracked pavement and gravel. Three he recognized, two he didn’t. Like the bar, the cars were in sad shape and far more popular in earlier decades. Killing the engine, he dropped the kickstand and slid off his baby. Road dust coated her paint and chrome. With a stroke of his gloved hand over the seat, he promised her a bath later.
Leaving the bike, he strode toward the building. No one moved outside, but one wolf stood inside the filling station. He was a smart wolf, he’d spotted Cassius, yet didn’t reach for a phone or make any move other than retrieving his newspaper and flipping it open.
Inside, the cool air rushed over his sweaty face like a sweet kiss. The scents of stale beer, body odor, remnants of the blood spilled throughout the years, and fear stained the experience. The population of the bar—easily a dozen wolves though Cassius scented at least four more in the back—glanced up from their places scattered around the room. Three played pool, four others huddled around a card game while the rest sat in various spots including two at the bar drinking. A couple in the corner paused with her hand down his pants. The bartender—a tall, broad wolf with a balding pate and a world-weary expression raised his eyebrows in silent inquiry.
“Beer. Cold.” Cassius said, and the bartender nodded. A moment later, he set a tall bottle of Corona on the weathered bar top. The sides frosted and a hint of vapor escaped the top. Condensation formed almost immediately on the sides, slicking along the glass in rivulets.
Stripping off his fingerless gloves first. Cassius set them on the bar. Next, he peeled off his jacket. The old leather moulded him perfectly after the many years he spent wearing it. Only after setting it on the bar next to his gloves did he peel off three one hundred dollar bills and lay them next to the bottle. The bartender didn’t say a word as he took the bills, tucked them into his pocket then locked his register and exited through the double doors behind the bar.
Leaning against the aged wood, Cassius swept the room with his gaze. “If any of you are still sitting on your asses, disobeying the direct orders I sent out when I finish this beer, I’ll kill you.” He didn’t raise his voice. Shouting accomplished nothing. Yelling indicated the battle was lost before it began.
Chair legs scraping across the floor splintered the silence. The couple in the corner disengaged. The she-wolf grabbed her purse as she stood. Boots striking the floor punctuated her exodus. No sooner did the door slam shut behind her than the four wolves playing cards toss them down, abandoning their game. The men muttered, but they divvied the pot, then bowed their heads to him one at a time before hurrying out.
Tipping the bottle up, he took a long pull of the cold drink. It soothed his parched throat. One of the pool players threw down his stick. One of the wolves tried to stop him with a hand on his arm, but he shook it off. Then like the other wolves before him, he hurried out the door.
From nearly twenty to only ten—behind feet stomped on the stairs followed by another door slamming. Make that eight. One of the upstairs wolves strode into the bar, and stood in the center of it. Surprise filled his scent at the emptiness in the room. The others waited, their attention divided between Cassius and Finch.
Stupid fucking name for a wolf. Another long pull from his beer, and Cassius was three quarters finished. One by one he met the gazes of the wolves around the room. The smarter ones lowered their eyes immediately, the dumbasses fought to hold his gaze—even Finch.
Focusing on him last, Cassius studied him. Fresh beads of sweat began to trickle along Finch’s cheeks. The wolf swore, then stomped out and slammed the door with enough force, one of the hinges cracked.
Then there were seven.
Other books in the Wolves of Willow Bend Series:
About the author and where to find her:
National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.
Double Review: My Lady Viper and Prisoner of the Queen (Books #1 and #2: Tales from the Tudor Court) by E. Knight
When Anne Boleyn falls to the executioner’s ax on a cold spring morning in 1536, Anne Seymour knows her family faces peril. As alliances shift and conspiracies multiply, the Seymours plot to establish their place in the treacherous court of King Henry VIII, where a courtier’s fate is decided by the whims of a hot-tempered and fickle monarch.
Lady Anne’s own sister-in-law, Jane Seymour, soon takes Anne Boleyn’s place as queen. But if Jane cannot give King Henry a son, history portends that she, too, will be executed or set aside—and her family with her. In desperation, Lady Anne throws herself into the intoxicating intrigue of the Tudor court, determined to ensure the success of the new queen’s marriage and the elevation of the Seymour family to a more powerful position. Soon her machinations earn her a reputation as a viper in a den of rabbits. In a game of betrayal and favor, will her family’s rise be worth the loss of her soul?
My Rating: 4/5 stars
The death of Anne Boleyn turned the court of King Henry VIII on its head and sent shockwaves out through every level of the country. Those most closely related to the throne and the King knew, with absolute certainty Henry was desperate for a male heir and willing to topple families in pursuit of his goal.
Lady Anne Seymour is constantly attended by several companions, most notably guilt, fear, and extreme aspirations for herself and her family. On the morning of Anne Boleyn’s execution, Lady Anne stood among those gathered and watched, watched what could so easily be her fate if she isn’t always several steps ahead of everyone else. As a Seymour by marriage, Lady Anne is now the sister-in-law to England’s next queen which makes her place in the world both lofty and precarious. In order to ensure her safety and that of her family, Lady Anne must play a very dangerous game at court.
From the moment the Seymour’s realize Henry has his eye on their Jane, the intrigues, plots, and planning begin. Lady Anne is an ever-present member of court life and serves as one of Jane’s most trusted ladies. From this position, Lady Anne is able to keep an eye on other courtiers and gather information which will most certainly be used at an appropriate time and place. Anne doesn’t just gather information, she wields it like a weapon and often shares what she has learned with her husband, Edward Seymour, one of King Henry’s most trusted advisors. Between the two of them, there is little to nothing that happens at court that they don’t know about and use to their advantage.
As if the information gathering isn’t enough, Lady Anne also has to be attentive to the young Queen and her situation. It is clear Henry adores Jane Seymour, but as everyone knows, he also adored Anne Boleyn. From the beginning, Anne helps Jane navigate life as both a married woman and a Queen. Anne is a master manipulator and helps Jane understand what it is she needs to do to keep her husband in her bed, conceive an heir, and advance the Seymour family. Though her plans don’t always go precisely as planned, Anne is generally successful and within months she and her family are reaping the benefits of being the Queen’s closest relations. Titles, land, homes, and preferred rooms at court are claimed by the Seymour’s but those rewards come with a price.
At every turn, Lady Anne has to be cautious of her actions and her words. From the moment she wakes to the moment she falls into bed each day, Anne has to be on guard for trusting the wrong person, acting in the wrong way, or simply saying the wrong thing could cost her, her head. Though she is married to a strong, capable, and trusted man, that man is nearly always gone doing the King’s bidding which leaves Anne to fend for herself. To do so, Anne has cultivated a circle of allies and always stands her ground when confronted. As a result, her reputation is that of a formidable woman who should not be crossed. As with everything else in her life, this reputation comes with a price.
The Bottom Line: Knight doesn’t have to do any real world building in this read as history has done that for her. She does, however have to bring that world alive and she does so through the life of Lady Anne Seymour. When you think of the court of King Henry VIII, Lady Anne Seymour isn’t the first name that comes to mind and that is one of the things I very much enjoyed about this read. Knight has taken the liberty of choosing a lesser known historical figure and telling a well-known story through her eyes and from her perspective which affords the reader a new view of old characters. It is, quite frankly, refreshing to have such a different view of the famous Tudor court. From the moment the read begins to the moment it ends, Lady Anne is at work for herself and her family and it is fascinating to see how diligent she must be in her pursuits. Lady Anne’s machinations are dangerous which creates a pervasive tension throughout the read as plots and plans are constantly being hatched and executed. As a reader, you always feel that tension which is certainly laced with a healthy dose of fear and that will keep you moving through the pages. My only complaints about this read are related to the extreme amount of detail and the ending. I’m not a huge fan of copious amounts of detail and at 450+ pages, My Lady Viper is full of detail, most of which I skipped as the story moved forward. As to the ending, My Lady Viper just sort of stops and I didn’t feel like there was any real explanation regarding the fate of Lady Anne and her family. Aside from those two things, My Lady Viper is an interesting read that takes a familiar time and place and works it from a different angle.
P.S. I did find out what happened to Lady Anne and some of her family at the beginning of the second Tales from the Tudor Court book, Prisoner of the Queen.
Kindhearted Katherine Grey knows well the peril of being born with royal blood. As Henry VIII’s grandniece and one of the heirs to the English throne, her noble birth has doomed her to live among the schemers and seducers of the king’s court—barring her from the peaceful life that she truly desires.
After her sister fails to keep the throne, and a new queen rises to power, Katherine finds herself surrounded by adversaries. Since Queen Elizabeth sees her as a threat, and court conspirators see her as an ally, Katherine is forced to play a game she knows she cannot win. And when she reunites with the man she truly loves, Katherine has even more at stake. With treachery at every turn and the life she dreams of within reach, Katherine must make an impossible choice: Will she submit to the queen’s authority, or will she pursue love no matter the cost?
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
As Prisoner of the Queen opens, England is in turmoil as Henry VIII’s only surviving yet sickly son is on the throne and his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth struggle with their place in the world and their claim to the throne of England. As the young King’s days come to a close, the Grey family makes their play and places their eldest daughter, Jane on the throne. Known as the nine-day Queen, Jane Grey is wholly incapable of holding her position and along with her father and several others, loses her head for treason. Sitting in the wings and knowing she is pawn in a much larger game is Jane’s sister Katherine Grey.
Born of noble blood, Katherine has always known she is nothing more than a pawn in other’s games. Katherine is kind, caring, generous, and totally uninterested in suffering the fate of her sister, Jane. In fact, from the very beginning she is clear to any and all who will listen, she has no interest in being a queen no matter her bloodline nor does she have any desire to stand in the way of Mary and Elizabeth and their respective claims to the throne. Katherine wants what a normal and quiet life that includes a man who loves her, a home far from court, her beloved pets, and a ridiculous number of children. At a very early age, Katherine meets the man she is to love for the rest of her life, Ned, a beautiful and titled young man who knows instantly that Katherine is meant to be his.
The bulk of Prisoner of the Queen is devoted to Katherine and Ned and the tragic love they share. Like Katherine, Ned is from a politically ambitious family and a union between his house and hers would certainly be seen as a threat to the throne. While most would simply get married and call it a day, Ned and Katherine have to receive approval from the crown which is granted shortly before Queen Mary dies. As we all know, Queen Elizabeth was a cat of a different color and was in no way inclined to continue the policies of her now-deceased half-sister. As Elizabeth begins her reign, it is imperative to her safety and security that she identify her enemies and keep them in check. High on her list of potential threats is Katherine Grey.
The moment Elizabeth takes the throne, she makes it clear to Katherine that she will not ever approve her marriage to Ned and her every action will be watched. Katherine isn’t just watched, her letters are read, her words are marked, and her every step is shadowed by someone looking to bring a claim of treason against her. Elizabeth warns Katherine constantly that she is a threat that will be neutralized should she (Katherine) put even a toe out of line. In order to ensure they cannot be together, Elizabeth often engages Ned’s services which keeps him far, far from court. But, love is a powerful emotion to overcome and Katherine and Ned are committed to one another. Knowing they could lose their heads for treason, they wed in secret with the hope that one day, the Queen will approve of their union.
The Bottom Line: Once again, Knight has taken a well-known story and reported on it from a totally different character’s perspective. I LOVED IT!! From the very beginning, Katherine is an individual you want to root for all the while knowing she will never truly have what her heart desires. Despite her actions nearly always supporting her words, Katherine is dealt blow after blow by a suspicious and vindictive queen. This is one of the first books I have read (and I’ve read A LOT of Tudor-related titles) that depicts Queen Elizabeth I as something other than a reasonably decent human who only wants what is best for her subjects and her country. Knight portrays Elizabeth as paranoid, suspicious, untrusting, and cruel. I LOVED IT!! There are some truly beautiful moments in this read for Katherine and Ned but overall, their road is long, hard, and paved with a great deal of misery. Though there is still an incredible amount of detail in this read (BLECH!!) it does end better than the first book and I found myself quite satisfied with the end result.
Mirror, mirror … who’s the fairest of them all?
I still cringe when I hear that line. A fairy tale that had girls pretending they were the fairest, the most beautiful, and the most entitled. A fairy tale most couldn’t grow out of turned my haunted childhood memories into a living nightmare. Girls who grew up believing that pile of garbage became the meanest of all ‘mean girls.’
And those mean girls were right – it was a line meant for all the beautiful people in the world – and I knew the answer would never be me. The women with long legs, flat stomachs, and perfect chests. The type of women Kane Masters gravitated toward. Well, that’s definitely not Willow Tate. No. That will never be me. Because I’m completely imperfect. And … I hate myself. I have no idea what Kane could possibly see in someone like me when he could have them.
Excerpt from Perfectly Imperfect:
“Are you nervous right now?”
“Tell me why.” His demand, steady and calm, gives me the courage I need to tell him. To open a vein and bleed my insecurities.
“I’m not perfect,” I whisper.
“And neither am I, Willow. I don’t want perfect. What so many see as perfect, to me, is fake. Perfect isn’t achievable naturally. No one, and I mean no one, is perfect.”
I’m shaking my head before he’s even done speaking, but one long finger comes up and presses against my lips before I can speak.
“No, let me finish. There isn’t beauty in perfection. It’s as fake as the image the word projects. Beauty is found in imperfection, Willow, because to admit you’re not perfect means you’re admitting you’re not whole and absolute. When I think of myself, I see someone willing to admit he’s as far from complete as it gets because, in order to get to that perfection, I need to find the other part of me who will make my life better. To take all the faults I have and fill them, and only then will I be there. You see, the way I see it, the only way to become perfect is to find that perfectly imperfect person who brings it out of you.”
When he stops, I swear I might have stopped breathing. How am I supposed to respond to that?
“Do you trust me?” he asks, his voice strong and sure.
“Yes, Kane. Nerves or not, I do.”
“Then let me show you what I see when I look at you.”
He brings his hands up, framing my face once again in a way I’m quickly becoming addicted to the feeling of. His warm eyes implore, begging me without words to let him continue. I do not intend to stop him, regardless of the butterflies currently taking over my system. I’m all in.
About the author and where to find her:
Harper lives in small town Georgia just a short drive from her hometown of Peachtree City. She (and her 3 daughters) enjoy ruling the house they dubbed ‘Estrogen Ocean’, much to her husband’s chagrin. Harper has a borderline unhealthy obsession with books; you can almost ALWAYS find her with her eReader attached. She enjoys bad reality TV and cheesy romantic flicks. Her favorite kind of hero–the super alpha kind! Harper started using writing as a way to unwind when the house went to sleep at night; and with a house full of crazy it was the perfect way to just relax. It didn’t take long before a head full of very demanding alphas would stop at nothing to have their story told.
As a child, Torrie Reynolds entered the haunted Hargrove House on a dare. Terrified by what she’d heard while inside Hargrove House, she avoided it since. Now fifteen years later, Torrie is an interior decorator. When Will Dalton buys the infamous Hargrove House and offers Torrie the job of refurbishing it, she has no choice but to take the offer to keep her business afloat. As the house is restored and rooms come alive with character and color Torrie brings to them, her fear of the house fades. Hargrove House begins to even feel like home to her. With each finished renovation project, it is harder for Torrie to leave. It is even harder for her to leave the comfort of Will Dalton’s arms. But she discovers there are things more terrifying than ghosts when she learns why Will is digging in the dark, frightening cellar.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Everyone in town knows Hargrove House is haunted and only the truly brave will take up the dare to go into the house. As a child, Torrie Reynolds took up the challenge, entered the house, and heard it call her by name before she bolted. For 15 years Torrie has managed to avoid Hargrove House but when Will Dalton walks into her office with deep pockets and free rein to redecorate, she once again walks in to Hargrove House.
The moment Torrie takes on the Hargrove House restoration, everything goes her way. The contractors and crews she wants are all available immediately, the rooms seem to speak to Torrie in terms of decoration, and every item she wants for decorating is available and shipped instantly. Will Dalton made it absolutely clear, there are only two conditions, don’t enter the master bedroom and meet the December deadline. With the luck Torrie is having, the deadline won’t be any problem at all.
You know that phrase if it seems too good to be true, it probably is? Torrie does too and from the beginning, Hargrove House just doesn’t feel quite right. Torrie seems to be the only person who ever sees Will Dalton, on a regular basis she hears what sounds like digging from the cellar, and every time she leaves the house, she feels an incredible sense of loss. For every oddity, there is a warm, fuzzy: Will’s interest in Torrie is made clear almost instantly, the new house keeper is an excellent cook, and much to Torrie’s surprise, Will has children she adores from the very moment she meets them. As the deadline for the project goes ever nearer, Torrie begins to feel as if she won’t ever be able to leave Hargrove House and she just doesn’t understand why.
The Bottom Line: Hargrove House turned out to be an OK read for me. It’s hard not to get hooked when the opening pages have a little girl hearing her name being whispered in a reportedly haunted house and then running all the way home. 15 years later . . . from the moment Will walks into Torrie’s life something is simply off and every time Torrie begins to suspect or ask questions, Will has an answer ready to go. Even when another kid appears. As the plot unfolds (and I won’t be spoiling anything here!), it is easy for the reader to figure out what’s really going on and how everything is going to play out but by the end, there are some elements of the plot that aren’t adequately addressed or simply ignored. I found myself frustrated by the lack of explanation but not so much that it kept me from finishing the book and generally enjoying it. I tend to cut the author a bit of slack for a first in a series read and fully intend to check out the second book in The Haunted series.
Excerpt from Hargrove House (Book #1: The Haunted Series):
Torrie needed to see the pink room in the falling light as dusk settled over the house. Again, she looked around the room. All it needed—besides the books—was a little girl. Absently, Torrie picked up the doll that someone had placed on the dresser. She placed the doll in its rightful place at the small table. “There you go, Miss Velvet,” she said. “Now all we need to get is a little tea set. And don’t worry; we’ll have real China, none of that plastic stuff in this room. Do you take cream or sugar?” Torrie pretended.
“You found Miss Velvet.”
At the sound of a soft voice, Torrie jumped and nearly knocked the doll off the chair, let out a startled cry and looked toward the door. Then she stopped short and stared at the young girl who stood there. “Who…Who are you? And how did you get in here? Where did you come from?” Torrie knew she sounded like a balloon letting out its air, but she couldn’t seem to catch her breath. The child had startled her so badly. And damn, she looked just like the little girl Torrie envisioned could inhabit this room. With Miss Velvet in the girl’s arms, the picture Torrie saw when she walked into this room would be complete. The idea the girl could be a child fulfilling a dare touched her. Torrie tried to tell herself the girl was too young to venture into the Hargrove House on a dare. But hadn’t Torrie, herself, been about the same age when she stepped over the threshold?
Could the girl be a ghost? She wasn’t transparent. She appeared as real as Torrie. Torrie even felt a strange pull to reach out and touch the child, to see if her hair was as soft as it looked.
“Eleanor,” the little girl said. She wore what was previously a green dress. There was a smudge of dust above her left eyebrow.
Torrie took a step toward her.
The girl stayed rooted to her spot.
“Eleanor who? And how did you get in here? What, did someone dare you?”
“I live here. I’m Eleanor…Dalton.”
Then the little girl who claimed to Eleanor Dalton turned and left.
It took Torrie eight steps to reach the doorway. And the by time she did, the hallway was empty and the little girl was gone.
About the author and where to find her:
Allie Harrison lives with her husband in Southern Illinois. By day, Allie works in the medical field, but when she clocks out, she hits the keyboard, crafting stories readers will love. When she isn’t enjoying fun family time, games with friends, reading, crafts, music, camping, biking, and hiking, she’s working to build fictional worlds and unforgettable characters.
Baxter soon realizes that if she’s going to defeat Declan and get back to her world, she’ll have to reclaim her abilities and be stronger than she ever imagined. Declan and the Absorbers’ Initiative wage war on everyone who opposes them in their hunt for Baxter. Their actions reveal what her future will be like if she doesn’t make some drastic decisions. She knows that one misstep on her part will lead to the destruction of not just
this world, but her own. In a race against Time and bitter enemies, Baxter will discover how much is at stake and just what she’ll have to sacrifice to save those she loves. Can she learn from the fate of an alternate world how to become the Time Bender she’s meant to be?
Other books in the series:
Time has never been an issue for Baxter Jacobs, but then she never knew she had the ability to Bend it. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Baxter inherits a pendant that will change her life. Connected to the pendant is a dark and mysterious young man named Declan Ashdown. Trapped in a Time loop for the past 122 years, Declan needs Baxter’s help to escape. The only problem is, she has no idea how to do it. To acquire the power she needs to free him, she’ll become one of the Interred, those whose Magical abilities emerge as they come of age. When she does, she’ll discover that Declan isn’t the only one interested in the fact that she’s a Time Bender. As the Interment arrives, Baxter knows this will be no Sweet Sixteen. A vengeful relative and ruthless Council are determined to control her. Declan’s powerful and charming descendant, Jack Ashdown, claims he can save her. She’ll soon have to decide who she can trust, and how to master her new abilities before Time runs out.
Now that the immediate threat is over, Baxter learns just how much the English Council expects of the newest Interred. The pressure has her seriously considering her uncle’s offer to take her to New York, especially since she thinks it will keep her Healer, Jack, from overusing his abilities. Knowing the New York Council’s ranks are filled with beings using dark powers, however, makes her hesitate. Before she can choose, the decision is wrenched from her. Fissures in Time result in a new battle with an old enemy. Someone she thought she’d lost reenters her life, and she’ll discover a web of lies woven into the fabric of Time…lies only she can unravel. Baxter will have to use her growing abilities to try and reveal the truth, even if it forever changes the reality she knows. There are lies in the fabric of Time only she can unravel…
About the author and where to find her:
Marilyn Almodóvar is the author of a series of YA paranormal novels. Born in Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, Lyn is a lover of words whose reading tastes range from Victorian novels to the books of Stephen King. Her favorite past-times have always been reading and writing, two activities that let her escape to other worlds. Lyn could happily exist breathing the clean air of Narnia, trapped in a cupboard under the stairs with Harry, fighting alongside Captain Jack Sparrow, doing an internship in Torchwood, or traveling around time and space with the Doctor…as long as she can have Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk and Captain Mal as companions. She currently lives in Central Florida with her French husband, English-born eldest son, and French-born youngest son.
The danger isn’t over.
It’s only just begun.
Circumstances brought them together and their undeniable connection won’t let them part. But when the past and the present collide, emotions run high—things are said, lines are crossed, and rules are broken. Both focused on crushing the enemy, the retribution is almost too much to bear. Still, there’s no undoing what has already been done, and every action has a consequence.
He loves her and she loves him, but love isn’t a shield.
Sometimes your only choice is the one you’d rather not make. Pushed to the limit, the tainted love of Logan and Elle is in jeopardy. With outside forces driving a wedge between them, they have to dig deep within their souls to release the ghosts of their pasts, and fight even harder for what neither knew they needed—each other.
Can love really conquer all?
About the author and where to find her:
I live in Florida with my husband and four kids. I’ve always had a love for reading books and writing. Being an English major in college, I wanted to teach at the college level but that was not to be. I went on to receive an MBA and became a project manager until quitting to raise my family. I currently work part-time with my husband and full-time embracing one of my biggest passions—writing.