Review and Excerpt: Rite of Summer (Book #1: Treading the Boards Series) by Tess Bowery

Rite of Summer

Title: Rite of Summer Series: Book #1: Treading the Boards Series Author: Tess Bowery  Genre: Erotic Romance/LBGT Romance (M/M)/Historical  Published: June 2, 2015 by Samhain Publishing ISBN13: 9781619227224

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

There are terrors worse than stage fright. Like falling in love.  Violinist Stephen Ashbrook is passionate about three things—his music, the excitement of life in London, and his lover, Evander Cade. It’s too bad that Evander only loves himself. A house party at their patron’s beautiful country estate seems like a chance for Stephen to remember who he is, when he’s not trying to live up to someone else’s harsh expectations.
Joshua Beaufort, a painter whose works are very much in demand among the right sort of people, has no expectations about this party at all. Until, that is, he finds out who else is on the guest list. Joshua swore off love long ago, but has been infatuated with Stephen since seeing his brilliant performance at Vauxhall. Now he has the chance to meet the object of his lust face to face—and more.  But changing an open relationship to a triad is a lot more complicated than it seems, and while Evander’s trying to climb the social ladder, Stephen’s trying to climb Joshua. When the dust settles, only two will remain standing…when they’re not flat on their backs.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Stephen Ashbrook and Evander Cade are a package deal and have been since the moment they ran from their respective homes.  Life in London has brought them a couple of things, the freedom to quietly be together and a much larger and more receptive audience for their music.  Every composer needs a muse and according to Cade, Ashbrook has always been his.  Their professional life is progressing nicely which is how the undercover couple have found themselves to be the summer guests of their most prominent patron, the Earl of Coventry.  Six weeks in the country should be a wonderful respite from the London summer yet it turns into anything but. 

Cade has promised Ashbrook their time in the country will not interrupt their affair which proves to be both completely true and completely false.  Their lifestyle isn’t acceptable and while the sneaking around and the possibility of getting caught makes the sex even better, it also increases their risk of being caught and arrested.  Adding to the risqué nature of their affair is the inclusion of a third man, Joshua Beaufort.  Oh, Beaufort certainly takes the affair to all new heights but he is also an outsider, so to speak, which means he is able to more objectively analyze Cade and Ashbrook’s relationship.  What Beaufort sees is completely unacceptable.  Cade constantly berates and belittles Ashbrook and when Ashbrook does or says something to offend Cade, Cade throws a fit that generally involves many, may harsh and hateful words and the withholding of his affection.  In short, Cade is despicable human with no regard for anyone other than himself.

As the summer progresses, Ashbrook becomes more and more despondent.  Cade is constantly in a snit, Beaufort is trying desperately to get him to see the truth of his relationship with Cade, and meanwhile, back in London, a whole host of gay and presumably gay men have been arrested for buggery which only creates greater anxiety among the illicit trio.  As the what should have been a blissful six weeks of summer at Coventry’s comes a close, Beaufort make one final play for Ashbrook’s affections only to be shot down.  All three men, each a little more broken than before leave the country with every intention of picking up pieces of their lives and moving forward.  For Cade, that means elevating his torturous treatment of Ashbrook, for Ashbrook that means finally having the spine to stand up for himself, and for Beaufort it means finally making the bold decision to leave the comfort of his cousin’s home to strike out on his own.

The Bottom Line: Who knew a summer in the country could be so hot and so scandalous all at once??  Rite of Summer is, at its core a love story that very much plays out behind closed doors.  This is a period piece and true to the period, the gay lifestyle was totally unacceptable both morally and legally which automatically adds an element of tension to the read.  Cade and Ashbrook are just a train wreck on every level and I disliked Cade from the very beginning.  Cade is arrogant and awful and has no desire to please anyone other than himself; his actions are always selfish and his words rarely ever hold even an ounce of truth.  Ashbrook is by far the quieter of the couple and only becomes truly interesting when he stands up to Cade.  Of the trio, Ashbrook grows the most over the course of the read and it pleasurable to see him come into his own as a man and a musician.  Beaufort is, by far my favorite of the men and his feelings for Ashbrook are true and pure; his actions are always meant to protect Ashbrook and himself from any further hurt.  The only time the three men agree on anything is when they are in bed together and those scenes are very, very, very long, they are also steamy and good.  But, good sex doesn’t make a relationship and by the end of the read, everyone gets exactly what he deserves! 

Excerpt from Rite of Summer (Book #1: Treading the Boards Series):

Stephen goes exploring in the Earl’s massive house, and comes across a gallery of paintings. But someone else is there as well.

The man in the portrait was not classically handsome. His mouth was too full and his hair too red for that, his jawline perhaps a little too soft. But his eyes crinkled at the corners with secret mirth, as though sharing a very private joke with the viewer, and those lush and generous lips curled up at one corner. He sat in a smock and his shirtsleeves, a palette on the table behind him. His head tilted very slightly to the side, like he was listening to some secret, lively song. His eyes caught and held Stephen, grey as stormclouds over the cliffs, a hint of blue that was the clear sky breaking through, and a knowing look that struck some chord deep within that Stephen could not immediately name.

He wanted-

Well, he wanted a great many things. But never before had a portrait been responsible for a curl of longing or desire twisting its way up from the center of his being, some vague and wistful sense of thwarted desire focused on that arresting stare.

I wonder if he would look at me that way in life.

I wonder who he is.

A faint scuff of feet behind was all that gave Stephen warning before someone spoke, and he managed neither to whip around in surprise, nor jump like a child caught where he shouldn’t be. “He’s not a particularly good-looking fellow, to deserve such lengthy scrutiny.”

The voice was an unfamiliar one, a warm rich tenor that verged on a deeper range, a faint northern accent coloring the tone.

“I suppose not,” Stephen replied, pausing to allow his heart to slow before he introduced himself. “If you value men solely based on looks. But there is more life in his expression than in all the other portraits put together. Either the sitter was a man of uncommon vivacity, or the painter was exceptionally fond of him.”

He turned and looked at the man standing behind him.

His hair was shorter now, and he was dressed for dinner, his cravat impeccably tied and tucked into a cream waistcoat. The man from the portrait stepped in to the gallery, framed by a shaft of light that fell across the floor from the hall. His eyes had not been exaggerated. They had been perhaps underplayed, and that grey-blue gaze regarded Stephen with a peculiar intensity. He was a little taller than Stephen, his frame of very pleasing proportions, and had a controlled energy to his walk that suggested strength lying beneath the layers of wool and linen.

“Or he was his own painter,” the newcomer said, his lip quirking up in that selfsame knowing smile, “and both irredeemably prone to vanity and in desperate need of an honest friend to check him in his fancy.”

Amazon | B & N | Kobo | iBooks | Samhain Publishing

Rite of Summer Release Page (Samhain Publishing)

About the author and where to find her:

Tess BoweryTess Bowery lives near the ocean, which sounds lovely, except when it snows. An historian by training and a theater person by passion, she’s parleyed her Masters degree in English history into something that would give her former professors something of a surprise.  Her love for the Regency era began as they always do, with Jane Austen, and took a sharp left turn into LBGT biographies and microhistory. Now she indulges in both of her passions, telling the stories of her community in the time periods that fire the human imagination.  Her first foray into contemporary M/M fiction, High Contrast, releases in 2016.  Along with writing, Tess splits her time between teaching, backstage work, LBGT activism and her family. She spends far too much money on comic books, loves superheroes and ghost stories, and still can’t figure out how to use Twitter properly.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

Review: The Raven Room (Book #1: The Raven Room Series) by Ana Medeiros

The Raven Room

Title: The Raven Room Series: Book #1: The Raven Room Series Author: Ana Medeiros Format: ebook, 250 pages Published: November 3, 2015 by Diversion Books ISBN: 1626817774

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

Anything you can imagine. Everything you crave. For the members of The Raven Room, it’s every fantasy fulfilled. But for some, that desire is a matter of life and death.   Drawn by needs he cannot control, Julian ventures to The Raven Room, a secret and exclusive sex club in the underbelly of Chicago. It goes beyond sex. It goes beyond kink. The Raven Room is the only place where Julian finds release from the dangerous urges that threaten to destroy the successful life he’s worked so hard to build.   When the police link the Raven Room to the death of a young woman, it threatens to expose a number of powerful people—people who would kill to stay anonymous… Meredith’s body can’t get enough of Julian. He has opened her sexual horizons to tempting new possibilities. But out of bed she’s an aspiring journalist, and The Raven Room is the story she’s been looking for. By writing an exposé on the club and its elite clientele, she plans to launch her career.  As Meredith embarks on a sexual journey into the forbidden world that Julian inhabits, questions emerge, and dark appetites threaten to swallow her whole. How much can she trust the man who has laid bare her erotic nature and how much will she sacrifice in order to protect him?

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 1/5 stars

My Review:

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

I was totally seduced by the synopsis for The Raven Room and the promise such words held.  Had I gotten really lucky, the read itself would have lived up to that initial promise.  Unfortunately, The Raven Room falls into the category of “I can’t believe I read that book!”  Here’s the skinny:

Characters:  In many cases, I have found that characters, if well-written and believable, can carry a book that has other issues like a weak plot.  Characters bring the story to life as much as the plot and a good, well-written character can really save a read.  The opposite is also true.  The Raven Room doesn’t contain a single character that has any sort of substance.  Julian is rather disgusting (and this has nothing to do with his kink!) in his attitude, his habits, and practices.  He is seriously broken from his sad past and needs the kind of professional help he doles out every day to his patients.  Rather than coming across as a hot and sexy man tortured by his personal demons, Julian comes across as pathetic and somewhat cruel.  Meredith, Julian’s playmate doesn’t read any better.  Meredith is a spoiled, rich girl looking to gain her daddy’s attention and love through self-destructive behavior.  She is selfish and conceited and has little regard for anyone other than herself.  Only when things go well and truly sideways does Meredith show even a hint of humanity and by that time, it is too little, too late.  Julian’s best friend, Peter is a detestable misogynist.  Though he has a beautiful wife and twin boys, Peter is constantly looking for some side action and engages in such action whenever he thinks he can get away with it.  His words and actions clearly indicate he dislikes women and his treatment of his wife is reprehensible.  In truth, Peter has no redeeming qualities.  In addition to these characters, there are a handful of others that read in much the same way.  It is as if there is a competition among the characters to see who can be the most ridiculous and awful.

The Plot: The plot started off OK with Julian and Meredith and their consensual arrangement but quickly took a wrong turn.  Meredith is all about Meredith and Julian is a means to an end for her.  She is working on her Master’s in Journalism and Julian’s access to the Raven Room is exactly what Meredith needs to put her ahead of the curve.  The Raven Room is a long-standing rumor in the community, a place where anything goes and some of the area’s biggest names go to get their kink on.  Meredith intends to use Julian to get the story of lifetime; she will expose the Raven Room and name the bigwigs who frequent the joint which will, in turn land her a job at a major newspaper.  As Meredith continues to conduct her “research,” Julian finds his “soulmate” among the Raven Room’s clientele but he isn’t allowed to approach her at the club because of her involvement with a very powerful and cruel man.  Additionally, the Raven Room has been linked to a series of murders and Julian appears to be the most likely suspect.  Meredith is privy to all of this information because she is sleeping with her stepmother’s partner and asking her stepmother to dig up information on the various players.  Finally, Meredith’s stepmother is somehow tied to the very powerful and cruel man who has control of Julian’s “soulmate.”  Yeah, all of this is going on in this read simultaneously 😦

The Bottom Line:  I’m not even sure where to begin with this one.  I read this book cover to cover and when I got to the cliffhanger ending I wanted to throw my iPad across the room in pure disgust.  At only 250 pages, The Raven Room suffers from a serious case of waaaaay too much.  The characters really are in competition with one another to see who can be the most wretched and the plot has far too many parts and pieces.  While I appreciate the author’s desire to create a complex and intriguing plot, it doesn’t actually read as complex and intriguing but more along the lines of “Oh, what fresh hell is this?”  My final complaint, and this is really the one that pushed everything over the edge for me, is the sex between Julian and his “soulmate.”  Let me be clear, I don’t mind kink in my reads and BDSM isn’t a deal breaker for me.  What is a deal breaker is the kind of kink Julian is involved in and how he practices his particular brand of kink . . . . WITHOUT A SAFE WORD!!!  This is the one that did it for me and I likely would have been OK with his practices had he and his “soulmate” practiced responsibly and safely.  There is more than one time in this read when it truly felt like Julian was forcing his partner to participate in acts she wasn’t entirely comfortable with and that’s never going to be OK with me.  In all, The Raven Room has too many issues with its major parts (characters and plot) to be a good or even decent read.  I can say with all confidence, it isn’t a book I would recommend to readers.

 

Review: The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen

The Reluctant Duchess

Title: The Reluctant Duchess Author: Sharon Cullen Published: November 10, 2015 by Loveswept ASIN: B00TNDP168

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

Lady Sara Emerson was jolted out of her dull provincial life by her cousin’s murder. Now that the killer seems to be targeting her, Sara seeks help from the man who was once her cousin’s fiancé, Gabriel Ferguson, Duke of Rossmoyne. With his towering frame and fiery personality, Ross cuts an intimidating figure. Living under his protection, however, has its own hazards—like the sudden urge Sara feels to take their relationship in new, exquisitely inappropriate directions.  Dazzled by the social graces of his betrothed, Ross never noticed her shy, blushing cousin. Looking at Sara now, though, he’s drawn to her lovely eyes and calm disposition. Funny how a year away from the hustle and bustle of the ton changes a man. But Ross has no intention of allowing a woman to interfere with his plan to return overseas. He will simply capture the murderer and set sail once again. The problem is, with her beguiling lips and heavenly touch, Sara makes him never want to leave home—or his bed—again.

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

My Review:

Two years ago, Lady Sara Emerson lost her beloved cousin as a result of a brutal and unsolved murder.  Her cousin was bright and vivacious, always the life of the party, and recently engaged to the gorgeous Gabriel Ferguson, Duke of Rossmoyne (aka Ross).  In the blink of an eye, everything came to an end, Lady Sara retreated to the country and the Duke ran all the way to India in the service of the Queen.

In two years Lady Sara’s life has remained largely the same with her day in and day out revolving around the care of her father and avoiding anxiety-inducing social situations.  Until recently, Sara has been resigned to her situation and for the most part, content.  Her situation changed dramatically, however when the letters alluding to her cousin’s death began arriving.  For the first time in two years, Lady Sara is going to leave the country.  Her first and only stop will be the London home of the Duke of Rossmoyne.

The trip home from India wasn’t just unexpected, it was also unwelcome but when the Queen calls, her subjects, even Duke’s must answer.  With only a few hours of sleep and no interest in socializing, Ross is pulled from his bed only to be confronted by the timid yet insistent, Lady Sara Emerson.  Though Ross’s kneejerk reaction is boot the woman out of his home his gut tells him to hear her out.  The letters Lady Sara has been receiving are disturbing, to say the least and in short order, Ross becomes quite concerned for Sara’s safety.  Adding to his concern is his interest in Lady Sara and his frustration regarding her insistence at being involved in the investigation.  Lady Sara is nothing like her brash and bold cousin and after two years, her quiet determination, keen intelligence, and unassuming beauty are exactly what Ross needs in his life.  If he can keep her alive, maybe just maybe Ross can convince Lady Sara to become his duchess. 

Lady Sara’s commitment to unravelling the mystery of her cousin’s death is solid and though she knows she should be afraid for her own safety, she trusts Ross implicitly.  As the letters continue to arrive and the threat against Sara increases, so does her attachment to Ross.  Ross is strong and confident, kind and intelligent, and sexy in a brooding kind of way.  The only drawback to loving the Duke of Rossmoyne is his title; were Sara to allow herself to well and truly love Ross, she would have to become a Duchess and that would entail anxiety inducing social engagements. Sara’s will and determination is strong but she just can’t see herself becoming a burden to the man she loves. 

The Bottom LineThe Reluctant Duchess is no easy road to an HEA but it certainly is an interesting road.  From the moment she arrives in London, Lady Sara is determined to find out what happened to her cousin.  Her path is clear, her focus is sharp but her feelings are a mess.  Gabriel Ferguson (aka Ross) is a wholly unexpected creature and a greatly changed man from when Sara briefly knew him two years previously.  Ross is a changed man and the new Ross wants Lady Sara Emerson with every fiber of his being.  She is truly his match but keeping her alive and convincing her to marry him is as big challenge as figuring out who murdered his former fiancé.  Cullen weaves a fine story of intrigue and romance with characters that are fully realized and most enjoyable.  The threat is real, the mystery is believable, and Cullen doesn’t do that thoroughly detestable thing of so heavily hinting at the perpetrator that you know who it is by page four.  In all, I breezed through this read and found Cullen’s brand of historical romance to be quite to my liking.

Amazon | B & N | Kobo

Review: Tied to You by Bibi Paterson

Tied to You

Title: Tied to You Author: Bibi Paterson Format: Paperback, 216 pages Published: February 27, 2015 by CreateSpace ISBN: 150773624X

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

Desperation will make you do crazy things, like giving up a year of your life and travelling halfway around the world to marry a gorgeous Aussie winemaker who seems to come with more baggage than he knows what to do with.  I know I should keep my distance but there is something about him that just draws me in. Maybe it is the way he always seems to be there for me when I need it most, or that he just seems to know the right thing to say.  All I know is that the moment he kisses me on our wedding day, I am in trouble Wealthy and arrogant, Alex is used to getting whatever he wants and he has set his eyes on Olivia. For months he has watched her as she calls out to every protective instinct he possesses. Waiting for the perfect opportunity to present itself, he is determined to make her his, in any way possible.   But Alex is hiding a secret, one that he is determined to protect until, one day, Olivia makes a revelation that sets her on a course of self-discovery. Together they explore Olivia’s submissive side, pushing boundaries and taking her on the wildest ride of her life. However, when Olivia’s past threatens to expose Alex’s secret, the true strength behind Alex and Olivia’s relationship is revealed.

Source: Netgalley and Purchase

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Alex Davenport is a desperate man.  To the outside world, Alex is as calm, cool, and collected as they come but on the inside, he is harboring secrets and concerns that simply can’t be revealed.  His family has an international reputation related to their wines and vineyards, their business is tremendously successful, and they are well respected.  Alex lives in fear that his, shall we say proclivities, should they be exposed, would not only harm the family’s business but embarrass them as well.  As far as Alex can see, the only way to protect himself and his family is to marry.

Alex has seen Olivia on several occasions and marked her as the solution to his little exposure problem.  As a Dom, Alex is able to recognize in Olivia’s actions and demeanor her submissive tendencies which appeal to him on so many levels.  Unfortunately, Olivia’s actions and demeanor also speak to desperation and that is the key to her becoming a willing participant in Alex’s scheme.  The scheme is simple, Olivia will agree to marry Alex for at least one year and he will eliminate all her debt, see to the ongoing care of her mother, and make her a very wealthy woman when they eventually part ways.  Furthermore, as long as Olivia is discreet, she is allowed to take lovers over the course of the year and Alex is free to engage in his own sexual activities.  Sounds like a match made in a lawyer’s office!

From the moment Alex and Olivia merge their lives, it is nothing like either expected.  They have a natural ease with one another and a lot in common which they discover in a relatively short amount of time.  When Alex is relaxed and enjoying life he is a joy to be around but there is a darkness in Alex that, once tapped can be quiet scary and completely arousing.  Though a sexual relationship wasn’t a part of the original agreement after the first encounter, Olivia is more than interested in making it a regular occurrence and Alex is afraid Olivia will leave him because of his behavior.  Turns out, Olivia has no interest in leaving and a whole lot of interest in further exploring Alex’s proclivities.   Yet again, Olivia is wonderful surprise to Alex and an eventual source of healing. 

The Bottom Line: While Tied to You is predominately an erotic romance, it also has elements of suspense.  Alex isn’t the only one who is harboring secrets and given his high profile, it isn’t surprising there are those who are looking to profit off he and Olivia’s personal lives.  Both Alex and Olivia are forced to deal with their pasts and their present, they are forced to face the music with Alex’s family, and they are forced to deal with their own issues as a couple.  All of this is made all the more difficult and dramatic because of the newness of their relationship.  Overall, I was OK with the rapid development of the relationship – it does happen in real life – but would have liked to see the story as a whole further expanded.  At just 216 pages, the threats to Alex and Olivia could have easily been broadened which would have naturally increased the mystery and tension.  The naughty bits are all kinds of hot and will certainly appeal to readers who like a little BDSM in their reads but be warned, there are some somewhat dark moments that may be quite uncomfortable for some readers.  In all, I enjoyed this total standalone read.

Amazon | B & N | Kobo

About the author and where to find her:

British author Bibi was born in South Africa and loves to travel. She has previously spent a year living it up on the beaches of Western Australia and her hobbies include consuming copious amounts of coffee and chocolate, building cardboard castles with her daughter and creating stories in her head.  Inspired from a young age, her love for literature started with Enid Blyton and her Secret Seven. Since then a voracious appetite for books has brought her a world full of heroes, love, murder, betrayal and the odd vampire thrown in for good cause.  Having long admired those brave enough to put pen to paper, or in this modern age of computing, keyboard to screen, she has finally started telling the sexy stories that she has been keeping locked up in her head all this time.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pintrest

From the Archives: Naughty Novella Review: Five Golden Rings (Book #4: Facets of Passion Series) by Jeffe Kennedy

Title: Five Golden Rings Series: Novella #4: Facets of Passion Series Author: Jeffe Kennedy Format: ebook, 96 pages Published: November 21, 2013 by Carina Press  ISBN: 1299910394

Title: Five Golden Rings
Series: Novella #4: Facets of Passion Series
Author: Jeffe Kennedy
Format: ebook, 96 pages
Published: November 21, 2013 by Carina Press
ISBN: 1299910394

goodreads-badge-add-38px[1][1]Synopsis:

On the first day of Christmas, my lover gave to me…

Matilda Campbell’s plans to spend Christmas solo in the sun take an erotic turn when she encounters the handsome and enigmatic Miguel D’Oro on the plane to Mexico. As the CEO of a major firm, Tilda’s used to being the one in charge–but now she’ll have to learn how to take orders instead.

In the spirit of the season, Miguel offers Tilda naughty gifts for each of the twelve days of Christmas. There’s just one rule: she must accept them–and fulfill his commands–or face the sensual consequences. Intrigued and aroused, Tilda agrees to let Miguel take control of her pleasure.

What follows is a week unlike anything she’s ever experienced. From choosing her sexy new wardrobe and naughty accessories, to pushing her boundaries with BDSM play, Miguel satisfies every forbidden craving. But as their time together runs out, she must decide if there’s room in her real life for her holiday lover and her newly discovered kinky side.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

What could be better than Christmas in Cozumel at an exclusive resort with a hot man and the promise of rest and relaxation and some fantastic sex?  Pretty much nothing; that’s one damn fine week Tilda Campbell has planned.  Too bad all those plans got scrapped the second her man dumped over the phone while she was waiting at the airport for their flight.  Balls!!  With the week already planned and the time from work already taken off, Tilda boards that flight with the intention of mending her broken heart and salvaging what she can of the week.  Little does Tilda know how radically her last-minute plans are about to change.

Miguel d’Oro is on his way to the family-owned resort and Cozumel to negotiate a large and very personal deal.  Though he would rather not be spending Christmas working, his plans begin to look up considerably when he meets Tilda Campbell en route.  After a brief and very flirtatious conversation, Miguel and Tilda (aka Roo) decide they will not only spend the week together but they will do so in a most naughty and experimental manner.  Though she has never done anything so reckless or exciting, Roo is willing to not only experiment but to also leave all of the planning and execution to Miguel.  With a safe word in place, Roo and Miguel embark on their own wonderfully naughty Twelve Days of Christmas.

The excitement and the sex play begin almost immediately with a sexy dinner and the promise of a gift the next morning.  You see, though Roo has never done anything quite so naughty, Miguel has and he has planned a gift and event related to each of the twelve days of Christmas.  True to his word, Roo finds a lovely little sex toy and significantly revealing outfit delivered to her the very next morning.  Though nervous, Roo decides to play the game and much to her very, very great pleasure is rewarded by Miguel, his incredible stamina and, creative mind.  Up to this point, Roo had no idea orgasms could be so plentiful and so damn good!!  And so, the Twelve Days of Christmas begins . . .

For most of the twelve days, events related to Roo and Miguel’s sexual relationship continue on with few interruptions, a great deal of inventiveness and, a great deal of pleasure.  But, Roo is a very smart and perceptive woman and knows that things with Miguel and his negotiations are not going well.  On several occasions Roo attempts to engage Miguel in conversation about his negotiations but is shut down each and every time.  With only a few small outbursts, Miguel refuses to discuss the negotiations and when things finally come to a head, the Twelve Days of Christmas comes to an early end.  Though Roo understands Miguel’s decision to leave, it does nothing to relieve the slightly unsatisfied and disappointed feelings she is experiencing.  But, perhaps Miguel has one last play that will leave all involved totally and completely satisfied.

The Bottom Line: I am all kinds of in love with Jeffe Kennedy’s Facets of Passion series.  Each novella can be read as a stand-alone should you choose too, each read is full of interesting and naughty moments with only the tiniest bit of kink, each read has distinctly different and fully-developed characters and, each read is well written and fully resolved with no unanswered questions or loose ends.  For me, these short, fast and thoroughly entertaining reads satisfy my need for good storytelling and erotica all rolled up into one naughty little package.

Amazon       Barnes & Noble

About the author and where to find her:

jeffeJeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.  Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. A fifth series, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, released starting with Going Under, followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.   She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Crystal (Book #1: Off the Rack Series) by Cherrie Mack

Crystal

Title: Crystal Series: Book #1: Off the Rack Series Author: Cherrie Mack Format: ebook, 117 pages Published: October 1, 2015 by Cherrie Mack Original Title: Follow That Dress ASIN: B014LRV79A

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

Insta-passion and insta-love collide in Cherrie Mack’s new sizzling pretty woman tale. When an independent, snarky girl from Queens crosses paths with an older uptight CEO, she tells him where to shove his attitude. Unbeknownst to Crystal, she just called her employer a dick. But Mr. Salinger needs to find a girlfriend fast. And Crystal, with her colorful vocabulary and brazen personality, fits the bill. Would she agree to his crazy scheme and play his girlfriend for two weeks?
As they delve into an arrangement based on give and take, Robert and Crystal find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Sexual attraction supersedes their age difference, and they agree on a two-week affair. The result is somewhat unexpected. She doesn’t believe in love; he doesn’t want love. But now that they’re in love, whatever will they do?

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Crystal’s day just can’t get much worse.  Her clothes don’t fit thanks to her love of comfort food, she’s late for work, and the cupcake she bought ended up spread across the front of the angry asshole’s Armani suit she just ran into.  Feeling so done with everything, Crystal decides to verbally unload on the man so he understands just how rude his behavior is. 

Several hours later . . . .

The angry asshole is at Crystal’s front door and as it turns out, he is Robert Salinger, the owner of the company she works for.  Oh, and he likes her saucy attitude and wants her to be his pretend girlfriend for the next two weeks.  Huh?  The day can get worse. 

With nothing to lose, Crystal agrees to Robert’s crazy plan and quickly wonders just what in hell she has gotten herself into.  Robert has something of a reputation that his actions just don’t seem to line up with.  Robert is confident and somewhat arrogant but he can also be quite charming and genuinely nice.  In order to maintain the façade of fake girlfriend, he is willing to share a great deal of information about himself and what Crystal learns is as appealing as the man’s hardened body.  Knowing the affair has an expiration date, Crystal proposes a sexual relationship assuming she will get a little action and walk away at the end of the two weeks.

With every encounter, sexual or otherwise, Robert finds himself at a loss with Crystal.  She is so unlike every other woman he has ever dated and her brash personality, matched by her willingness to experiment sexually is a complete turn on.  She isn’t afraid to call out Robert’s old money “friends” on their bullshit and be exactly who she is at all times even when she feels a bit like a fish out of water.  Robert feels quite attached to Crystal but knows there is no future for them because of their significant age difference.  Clearly, he is going to take some convincing.

The Bottom Line:  I rather liked this read and found myself often laughing at Crystal’s antics.  For as brash (and sometimes crass!) as she is, she is also a compassionate person who genuinely likes Robert.  She owns her behavior and her words even when they get her into trouble and she doesn’t hide behind anything or anyone.  Robert is one of those characters who gets in his own way and if he would just stop doing that, he would find true happiness.  It takes Crystal, her in your face attitude, a scheme to redeem his reputation, and a few choice words from some unlikely sources before Robert pulls his head out of his ass.  Overall, I liked this read but would have liked to see more length.  The story is good and the characters are believable but everything feels rushed and would certainly benefit from some further development. 

Amazon

About the author and where to find her:

Cherrie Mack is a multi-published romance author who grew up in Flushing Queens NY, the youngest child of six. The city’s diversity gave her a great appreciation for many different cultures and lifestyles. After love finally claimed the girl from the city and dragged her to the suburban madness of Long Island, she settled into a quiet life with her new husband. Two children and one mini-van later, the family found themselves moving towards the sunny skies of Florida where they currently reside. When she isn’t writing, she is busy chasing her children around, laughing with her husband, struggling to learn meditation and hanging out with her best friend–a mutt named Bailey.   Over the last year, Cherrie has continued to flourish, writing contemporary erotic romance, romantic comedy, urban fantasy and her latest, paranormal romance. Her ability to cross genre’s fuels her imagination and gives her the desire to continue to push her boundaries and branch out as a writer. Although she hasn’t settled into any given sub-genre, she is confident her ability will lead her down the right path.   A member of Romance Writers of America, Cherrie is slowly spreading her wings as a romance author. Look for her books at all digital bookstores such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookstrand, ITunes, Nook, Kobo and many more.

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Amazon | Facebook

Review: Nuts (Book #1: Hudson Valley Series) by Alice Clayton

Nuts

Title: Nuts Series: Book #1: Hudson Valley Series Author: Alice Clayton Format: Paperback, 320 pages Published: October 20, 2015 by Gallery Books ISBN: 1501118137

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

After losing almost all of her clients in one fell swoop following an accident involving whipped cream, private chef to Hollywood’s elite Roxie Callahan gets a call from her flighty mother, saying she’s needed home in upstate New York to run the family diner. Once she’s back in the Hudson Valley, local organic farmer Leo delivers Roxie a lovely bunch of walnuts, and soon sparks—and clothing—begin to fly. Leo believes that everything worth doing is worth doing slowly…and how! But will Roxie stay upstate, or will the lure of West Coast redemption tempt her back to Tinseltown? 

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

My Review:

Roxie Callahan is living the dream!  She doesn’t live near her flakey and totally unreliable mother, she has a sweet job as a high-end personal chef, and when she wants a little temporary loving, she has no problem finding a willing playmate.  Living. The. Dream.

Dreams die and Roxie’s dreams all come crashing down in the blink of eye when her aforementioned flakey and totally unreliable mother once again needs Roxie to bail her out.  Roxie left her hometown for a variety of reasons including but not limited to her flakey and totally unreliable mother, her need to reinvent herself as something other than Trudy Callahan’s daughter, and her desperate need to do something other than run the family diner.  As it turns out, Trudy’s phone call tanked Roxie’s budding business (BUTTER!!) and left with her with no choice but to pack her bags and head back to the Hudson Valley to bail out her mother and run the family diner.  But. Only. For. The. Summer.

After days of travel, Roxie finds herself back home in her twin bed with a totally unorganized and seriously out of date diner to run.  Callahan’s has been a part of the community for decades and Roxie doesn’t want to change everything but she does want to liven things up a bit.  Her culinary training kick in and before long, Roxie is sprucing up the place and reinvigorating the locals’ taste buds.  But Roxie isn’t a one-woman show and her delightful delicacies wouldn’t be nearly so delightful without the homegrown produce brought to her courtesy of Maxwell Farms. 

Oh, Leo Maxwell.  Leo is some sort of man and with a deadline on her stay back home, he is just the sort of man Roxie is looking for to engage in a little summer lovin’.  The chemistry between Roxie and Leo is off the effing charts and, so with eyes wide open they dive into a mutually satisfying fling.  And by mutually satisfying I totally mean multi-orgasmic and smoking hot.  Roxie and Leo just can’t seem to get enough of each other and it becomes apparent to both that their summer fling may have what it takes to go the distance.  Except, Roxie has no intention of staying in town (as she keeps telling everyone who will listen!) and Leo has a secret he just hasn’t seen fit to share.  Turns out, just when Roxie begins to let down her guard and rethink her decision to run screaming from her hometown at the end of the summer, Leo’s secret speaks for herself and turns everything ass over tea kettle. 

The Bottom Line:  I am a HUGE fan of Alice Clayton’s Cocktail series and wasn’t sure she would be able to match the awesome that is that series.  I am pleased to say, I was totally and completely mistaken J  Nuts is a truly fantastic read with loads of dirty humor (my favorite), loads of naughty bits (also my favorite), a small town that is full of colorful and crazy personalities (my favorite), and a plot that has so much weirdness I couldn’t help but love it.  My only dislike in this read is Trudy Callahan and I found myself cringing every single time I had to read a scene with her.  If Trudy was talking, I was cranky.  Other than the detestable Trudy Callahan, I was a smitten kitten with every aspect of this read.  Even if you don’t like cooking, Clayton has made it fun, funny, sexy, sweet, and totally engaging.  She also, in very Clayton-like fashion has set up the second read in the series, Cream, which is due in mid-2016.

Amazon | B & N | Kobo Audible

About the author and where to find her:

Alice ClaytonALICE CLAYTON worked in the cosmetics industry for over a decade before picking up a pen (read laptop).  She enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up, and finally convinced her long-time boyfriend to marry her.  Now, about that Bernese Mountain dog.

Website | Facebook | Twitter