Monday, May 25, 2015

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper, Narrated by Amanda Ronconi

A review of both the audio and kindle version...

Better Homes and Hauntings is a standalone novel by one of my favorite author/narrator teams; Molly Harper and Amanda Ronconi. I often wonder if they share the same brain waves because, without fail, Ms. Ronconi performs the story exactly the way I imagine Ms. Harper meant it to be performed.

Blurb…

When Nina Linden is hired to landscape a private island off the New England coast, she sees it as her chance to rebuild her failing business after being cheated by her unscrupulous ex. She never expects that her new client, software mogul Deacon Whitney, would see more in her than just a talented gardener. Deacon has paid top dollar to the crews he’s hired to renovate the desolate Whitney estate—he had to, because the bumps, thumps, and unexplained sightings of ghostly figures in nineteenth-century dress are driving workers away faster than he can say “Boo.”

But Nina shows no signs of being scared away, even as she experiences some unnerving apparitions herself. And as the two of them work closely together to restore the mansion’s faded glory, Deacon realizes that he’s found someone who doesn’t seem to like his fortune more than himself—while Nina may have finally found the one man she can trust with her bruised and battered heart.

But something on the island doesn’t believe in true love…and if Nina and Deacon can’t figure out how to put these angry spirits to rest, their own love doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance.

My thoughts…

I really am a huge fan of Molly Harper’s stories, with the Jane Jamison series being my favorite. Reading the stories is a great experience but nothing beats listening and reading along at the same time as Amanda Ronconi brings it all to life.

Though it took a little while for Better Homes and Hauntings to grab me, I enjoyed the whole book. Because this is a standalone, there was a lot of time spent on character introduction and plot set-up which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering there are actually 2 romances taking place – 3 if you count the dearly departed couple who are the foundation and driving force behind this story.

The bottom line…

If you’re interested in trying her work without investing in a series, Better Homes and Hauntings is a great place to start. It’s an entertaining story with awesome characters and lots of witty dialog. It’s romantic, steamy, funny, and spooky, and I really wish Ms. Harper would write more ‘ghostly’ tales.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rules of the Game (Stardust, Texas #2) by Lori Wilde

Rules of the Game is the second book in Lori Wilde's Stardust, Texas series. Honestly, she is one of the most talented authors when it comes to her small town contemporary romance stories, no doubt about it. I adore everything she's written, but this one... there was something extra special about Jake and Jodi!

Blurb...

A jilted bride meets a superstar baseball player in this newest Stardust, Texas novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde...

Just uttering the word "wedding" makes Jodi Carlyle break out into a cold sweat. So a year after she'd been dumped at the altar, and two days after turning the big 3-0, she decides to break some rules—by dressing to the nines, hiring a limo,and crashing a swanky wedding...

...Where she catches the eye of the Dallas Gunslingers' new star hitter Jake Coronnado. He's hot. He's sexy. He sticks by her side all evening. He's the perfect fling. After a wild weekend, where they do everything and then some, Jodi thinks she'll never have to see him again...hey, she's even told him her name is Gwendolyn! But she thinks wrong.

Because guess who's the best man at Jodi's sister's wedding? And guess who's still as seductive as ever? And guess who's determined to turn their one-night fling into happily-ever-after?

My thoughts...

I could go on and on about Jake and Jodi, and the quirky population of Stardust. They make me laugh, make me cry, they make me sigh...suffice it to say that Rules of the Game is another winner. As I said above, I adore Lori Wilde's stories, and can't wait to head back to Stardust, Texas one day soon!

An ARC was provided by Avon Books, and to show my appreciation I'm giving them an honest review!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Twisted (LOST #2) by Cynthia Eden

Twisted is the second book in Cynthia Eden’s thrilling romantic suspense series, LOST . Like the first installment, Broken, Twisted is an exciting murder mystery with plenty of suspects who all have motives, and that kept me guessing almost to the end!

Blurb…

Dean Bannon comes to New Orleans for one reason only: to track down a missing sixteen-year-old girl. That's before he meets the drop-dead gorgeous con artist who makes him want to lose his legendary control.

With her past, Emma Castille doesn't claim to be psychic. She just notices things other people don't. Like the fear in a runaway's eyes—or the pain in an ex-FBI agent's heart. Her chemistry with Dean is blistering, but Emma follows her passion . . . not someone else's orders.

Then a madman breaks into Emma's home and leaves a twisted message: You're next. Now Dean refuses to let her out of his sight until he pries every last secret from her full, sexy lips. And suddenly Emma's aching to give him everything he wants.

My thoughts…

Cynthia Eden fans have been raving about this series, and I get why! The LOST team of men and women are the kinds of heroes and heroines I love – flawed, but perfectly so. They all have a past, have all lost someone dear to them, so they understand the need to help families find their loved ones. This brings a level of emotion to the stories that has my heart aching, not only for the victims, but for those trying to save them.

Like the first book, there's an element of insta-lust to this story. It didn't bother me quite as much this time around, probably because Emma didn't have the level of baggage to carry around that Eve did. In fact, Emma is a strong heroine and she and Dean are a perfect match! I love that they found each other!

The bottom line…

If you’re a fan of edgy romantic suspense and want lots of steam in your stories, then look no further than the team atLOST. The books are fast paced, exciting, gritty, and definitely sexy!

My thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this story. In appreciation I’m giving them an honest review.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Broken (LOST #1) by Cynthia Eden

Broken is the first book in Cynthia Eden's romantic suspense series, LOST. It's a thrilling serial-killer murder mystery with so many twists and turns and probable suspects, we can't possibly know, until the very end, who the true killer is. I love stories that keep me guessing like this!

Blurb...

Ex-SEAL and LOST founder Gabe Spencer is accustomed to the unusual in his job. But when knockout Eve Gray steps into his office, he's rattled. For the mysterious woman is a dead ringer for the heiress thought to be the latest prey of the serial killer who goes by the name Lady Killer.

When Eve awoke in an Atlanta hospital, her past was a blank slate. Then she recognized her own face in the newspaper and vowed to learn the truth. Determined to confront the nightmares hidden in her mind, she never expects to find a partner in Gabe.

As Gabe and Eve work together, their explosive attraction becomes irresistible. Gabe knows that his desire for Eve is growing too strong, bordering on a dangerous obsession, but nothing pulls him away from her. And when another Eve lookalike disappears, Gabe vows to protect Eve at all costs. While Eve may have forgotten the killer in her past, it's clear he hasn't forgotten her.

My thoughts...

I'm a huge fan of romantic suspense and have read a lot of great stories by some of the genre's best authors but, until now, none by Cynthia Eden - and make no mistake, Broken proves she's one of the best! This story sent chills up and down my spine and even though I didn't want to put it down, I had to put it down because it was getting so intense I knew I'd be up all night checking and re-checking the locks on my doors and windows if I didn't!

Lust at first sight works well in paranormal romance (bonding scents compelling an attraction) and erotica (because erotica is all about sexual attraction), but Broken is neither of those and its intricate, amazing plot didn't mesh with the insta-lust between Gabe and Eve. Sure, Eve's trauma induced amnesia could explain her lack of apprehension over being attracted to Gabe, a complete stranger, but even with that in mind I couldn't get on board with the sexual intensity they felt for each other. Too much, too soon and that cost this story a full star in my rating. Had the attraction/romance moved at a more believable pace, or had this not been meant to be a romance, it would've easily been a 5 star read!

The bottom line...

I've already got the next book in the series, Twisted, locked, loaded, and ready to roll... and that should speak volumes about how much I enjoyed Broken!

An ARC was provided by Avon Books. In appreciation I'm giving them an honest review.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Witches Be Burned (Magic & Mayhem #2) by Stacey Kennedy

Witches be Burned is the second book is Stacey Kennedy’s Magic & Mayhem series. Even though I didn’t read the first book, Werewolves Be Damned, I had no problem following the plot and was sucked in right from the start!

Blurb…

In Stacey Kennedy’s steamy paranormal romance novel, a rookie guardian sworn to combat the undead risks life and love in a world of violence, witchcraft, and seduction.

Nexi Jones has lost her family, she’s been stripped of her guardian duties, and she’s still learning the ins and outs of white magic. At least she has Kyden, the smoldering hot elite guardian who’s been there for her every step of the way. But just as Nexi completes her training, tragedy strikes the Otherworld when a fellow guardian is murdered by a group of rogue vampires. Ready or not, she and Kyden trek into the Earthworld to hunt down a killer—and Nexi alone will be put to the ultimate test.

Although Kyden knows that Nexi must fight her own battles, his guardian instincts are raging as he struggles to keep her close. The ruthlessness of these vampires is like nothing he’s ever seen. And at their helm is the Black Witch Astoria, a demon with one burning desire: to shed Nexi’s blood in the name of vengeance. What troubles Kyden even more, though, is the warlock who covets Nexi’s heart. Let the devil do his worst . . . all Kyden can do is love and protect Nexi until his last breath.

My thoughts…

Anyone who knows me knows that the Fantasy genre isn’t one of my favorites, but these books are more than just Fantasy. Yes, there’s magic. Yes, there are witches. But there are also vampires, werewolves, guardians, territories, councils… and all of these combined make this an amazing Paranormal Romance series.

Witches Be Burned picks up 4 months after Werewolves Be Damned ends, and we’re given a prologue which tells about the important things that transpired in WBD, and I'm glad for that because this is a complex world. 

With the different beings fighting for peace, there’s never a dull moment, and the ‘Good vs. Evil’ power-struggle kept me on the edge of my seat. To say the universe Ms. Kennedy has created is exciting and unique would be putting it mildly. The Magic and Mayhem world is filled with page turning intrigue. There’s also a fantastic supporting cast of characters, and a hero and heroine who are made for each other. Nexi is a strong leading lady and Kyden is an alpha male who loves her enough to let her be who she’s meant to be - though he often reminds her that he’s still the boss - and she loves him enough to let him go on believing it. And their sexual chemistry? Yeah, it burns hot and wild! See? A perfect match! 

The bottom line… 

To the point… If you’re like me and not a huge fantasy fan, you really ought to give this series a go. I’m so excited to have read this story, and am looking forward to finding out what’s to come for Nexi and Kyden! 

My thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept,  for providing me with a copy of this book. In appreciation I’m giving them an honest review! 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yours to Hold (Ribbon Ridge #2) by Darcy Burke

Yours to Hold is, without a doubt, my favorite book of the series so far, and not just because I fell hard for Kyle and Maggie – which I did – but because I fell hard for Kyle and Maggie and the entire Archer family!!

Blurb…

Years ago, golden-boy Kyle Archer left Ribbon Ridge without a word. Now, with heartbreak on the verge of tearing his family apart, the black sheep is back and he’s determined to earn their trust by uncovering the truth behind Alex’s death. But the moment he confronts Maggie Trent—the therapist his parents blame for the tragedy—Kyle is stunned by his powerful attraction to the beautiful doctor… and drawn to her like no woman he’s ever met before.

When gorgeous, charismatic Kyle approaches Maggie about his brother’s death, she agrees to help him search for answers. And as they piece together Alex’s last days, their undeniable chemistry turns too hot to ignore. After their relationship becomes more serious than either anticipated, Kyle may be forced to choose between the woman he’s desperate to hold on to and the family he almost let slip away.

My thoughts…

In my review of the last book, Only In My Dreams, I lamented the fact that we didn’t learn much about Alex’s death which has been a dark shadow in the stories so far. In this book we've been given a lot more insight into his suicide, but while some questions were answered, more questions have arisen… and that, along with an amazing cast of characters, is what has me looking forward to what’s to come next.

The bottom line…

I’m a long time fan of small town Contemporary Romance and have enjoyed my time in Ribbon Ridge a lot. That said, Yours to Hold has propelled this series from charming and intriguing to poignant and compelling, and I loved every word of it, start to finish!

An ARC was generously provided by Avon Books, and to show my appreciation I’m giving them an honest review.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Only in My Dreams (Ribbon Ridge #1) by Darcy Burke

Only In My Dreams is the first full length novel in Darcy Burke’s Ribbon Ridge Contemporary Romance series, but we’re first introduced to the Archer family in the prequel novella, Where the Heart Is. Each of the seven (+1) Archer siblings seem to have their own unique set of health or emotional problems, but it’s the way they come together to support one another than makes this such a touching, entertaining read.

Blurb…

Fed up with her self-imposed single life, successful event planner Sara Archer heads to a bar for a night of dancing … and bumps into Dylan Wescott, the high school crush she hasn’t seen in years. A little harmless flirting leads to a hot, completely uncharacteristic one-night stand; but when she wakes up alone, Sara knows her life is too complicated for a relationship and there can’t be a repeat.

Dylan, a divorced, ex-military construction contractor, limits himself to casual flings—his failed marriage proves he’s better off alone anyway—but he can’t stop dreaming about Sara. And when his firm is hired to oversee the renovation project run by the Archer siblings, Dylan and Sara are unable to resist their explosive chemistry.

But when their secret affair grows beyond “friends with benefits” and neither is willing to admit they want more, family drama and emotional scars may ruin their chance at a love they believed was only in their dreams.

My thoughts…

I've never read a story quite like this one, and I really enjoyed it. The heroine suffers from Sensory Processing Disorder, which some say is a form of autism. The story is...sad...in some ways, but also very uplifting. It was great to see a heroine who is so grounded, so strong, so able to cope with a disorder that could be debilitating. Fortunately, she has a family who believed in giving her the tools she needed to learn to live with SPD and not let it control her life.

Dylan’s family life was the exact opposite of Sara’s - empty, without love, and he would rather live his life alone than be in a relationship – of any kind. He’s pretty bitter about the way his childhood went, and then his marriage fell apart and though I’m not exactly sure why, I’m pretty sure it was his fault. No cheating or anything like that, but I get the impression he was just as disconnected emotionally from his wife as he was from his family.

Sara and Dylan’s relationship begins with a one-night stand, but as often happens, one night just isn’t enough. I did *snicker* at their attempts to keep things simple, but at some point got tired of it too, because, in my opinion, it caused the story to drag a bit.

Minor spoiler: One thing that really disappointed me was how we learn about Alex’s suicide. In the prequel (Where the Heart Is) he was fine; quite sick of course, but we got to know and care about him. As Only in My Dreams begins, we find that Alex killed himself (just 2 weeks prior) and left a legacy of sorts for his siblings to fulfill. No one really knows why he took his own life, other than being so sick and probably not wanting to burden his family. I do believe that slowly but surely this part of the story will unfold, and we'll get our answers.

The bottom line…

Ribbon Ridge is a small town full of people with big hearts. The Archer family is struggling to move on after their tragic loss, and watching them come to grips with their heartbreak and unanswered questions leaves no doubt that the series will continue to draw me in and become a favorite!

An ARC was provided by Avon Books and in appreciation I’m giving them an honest review.

About Sensory Processing Disorder...

Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.

The condition used to be called sensory integration dysfunction.

Some people with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Common sounds may be painful or overwhelming. The light touch of a shirt may chafe the skin.

Others with sensory processing disorder may:

Be uncoordinated
Bump into things
Be unable to tell where their limbs are in space
Be hard to engage in conversation or play
Sensory processing problems are usually identified in children. But they can also affect adults. Sensory processing problems are commonly seen in developmental disorders like autism.

Sensory processing disorder is not recognized as a standalone disorder. But many experts think that should change.

SPD information found at WebMd: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/sensory-processing-disorder