Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review:The Boyfriend from Hell


 Veronica Delaney is a bright and beautiful, young New York journalist who has had hard luck romantically and professionally. Her latest boyfriend left her for fame (and another woman, of course), and her latest assignment has her covering a bizarre satanic cult. But while following the story, Veronica soon meets the charming, polite, and devilishly handsome occult historian Richard Smith. Soon she’s embroiled in an exciting affair—at least until strange relics begin to appear on her doorstep and things start to go terribly wrong. 

The Boyfriend from Hell is a funny, astute psychological thriller about the mysteries of attraction and love’s power to hijack our good sense. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Avery Corman including rare images from the author’s personal collection

This one was a solid 3 flames for me. The writing is good, and the story is told in a way that keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens to Veronica/Ronnie. She's in a heap of trouble, for sure.

Veronica is a young free-lance writer. Her latest project has her researching a local satanic cult, complete with internet presence. In the process, she meets a Satan expert, Richard, who woos her. It was fairly clear from the start that Richard was suspicious, his lifestyle odd, but the sex is good and Ronnie is attracted to him. After Richard convinces her to try her hand at writing a book on possession, well, things get really weird and potentially dangerous for Ronnie.

I did like Ronnie's character very much. The fact that she seems very grounded makes what happens to her more interesting. Her very supportive roommate Nancy and her boyfriend Bob helped to give good balance to the bizarre. They contributed nicely to the story.

At times the POV changes were a bit jarring for me. I was expecting a bit more horror, and this seemed more of a psychological thriller, but that was okay. It's a classic story of almost-possession, and there aren't any big surprises. The ending was predictable and a bit too quickly resolved. I would have liked a little more of what happened to Ronnie after the scene in the church. It seemed clear that evil wasn't going to give up.

So if you are in the mood for a not-too-intense possession story, this might be for you.

Thanks to Open Road and Netgalley for the chance to read and review.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: All He Ever Dreamed by Shannon Stacey


Josh Kowalski is tired of holding down the fort—better known as the Northern Star Lodge—while his siblings are off living their dreams. Now that his oldest brother has returned to Whitford, Maine for good, Josh is free to chase some dreams of his own.

As the daughter of the lodge's longtime housekeeper, Katie Davis grew up alongside the Kowalski kids. Though she's always been "one of the guys", her feelings for Josh are anything but sisterly. And after a hot late-night encounter in the kitchen, it's clear Josh finally sees her as the woman she is.

Katie's been waiting years for Josh to notice her, but now that he has, she's afraid it's too late. Giving her heart to a man who can't wait to leave town is one sure way to have it broken. But Josh keeps coming up with excuses not to leave—could it be that everything he's ever wanted is closer than he could have imagined?

One of my favorite scenes from All He Ever Needed (Book #4 in the Kowalski Series) occurs when Josh finally gets it off his chest that he’s tired of running the Northern Star Lodge. I really felt for what he was going through, and I eagerly awaited the book that would give him his happily-ever-after. All He Ever Dreamed did not disappoint. The path Josh takes to his happy ending was just terrific.

Josh’s brothers do much to help alleviate some of the pressure on him to run the lodge, but Josh still has that feeling that he has somehow missed out on something in life. Its a case of the grass is always greener, and he struggles with wanting to see life beyond Whitford.

Katie Davis is struggling a little bit too. She’s been in love with Josh for years, and to Josh, she’s a best friend. He doesn’t see her in the romantic way. At least not until Rose gets involved. She attempts to open Josh and Katie’s eyes to the realities that are right in front of them.

What I love about this series is that Shannon Stacey really knows how to take what I would call an everyday real life situation, and she makes it interesting and fun. All of the books in the series are that way, but this book in particular rang so true for me. Josh struggles with wanting his freedom over the family obligation that he thinks has been thrust upon him. It’s a wonderful moment when he realizes that he truly loves the Northern Star Lodge.

There are some very touching scenes between the Kowalski siblings in this installment too. They all come to Josh’s aid, enabling him to discover what he wants out of life. I also loved that it wasn’t solved with an easy-out where Josh just falls into Katie’s arms, although my heart broke for her in spots. It’s tough knowing that the right decision is the one that is going to really hurt. This series has just the right amount of emotional upheaval, followed up with a lovely happily ever after.

All He Ever Dreamed is a wonderful friends to lovers story. I might even have to say that Josh is my favorite Kowalski, or maybe Kevin, or Mitch..*sigh*

If you are looking for something fun with a dash of conflict and a happy ending --read this series. You won’t be sorry.

4 Flames

Thanks to Harlequin and NetGallery for the eArc in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey


A second shot at first love?

After college, Ryan Kowalski decided to leave Whitford, Maine, rather than watch Lauren Carpenter marry another man. Now his siblings need his help to refurbish the family-owned Northern Star Lodge and he’s forced to face the past sooner rather than later when he collars a vandal—and learns the boy is Lauren’s son….

The last person Lauren needs back in her life is Ryan Kowalski. With a bitter ex-husband and a moody teenage son, she has enough man trouble already. But her son needs to learn a few lessons about right and wrong, even if Lauren has to escort him to Ryan’s door every day to work off his crime.

With all this close contact, Ryan and Lauren can’t deny the chemistry between them is as powerful as ever. But can a few searing kisses erase their past and pave the way for a second chance at true love?

All He Ever Desired is the fifth book in Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski Brothers series. Usually around this time in a series, especially if I’m reading them one after another, I might find myself getting bored or that the stories are becoming less interesting or too similar.  Not so with this series.  Each brother and their story is unique, and I really love that about this series.  Oh, all the Kowalski’s are good men  but each faces different challenges when it comes to life and love.  

Ryan Kowalski hasn’t returned to Whitford since asking his best friend’s wife to run away with him.  I don’t blame him. That’s a tough offer to make and an even tougher rejection to face.  But when the Northern Star Lodge needs repairs that his business experience and crew can deliver, he does the right thing and comes home to lend a hand. The last person he needs to run into is Lauren Carpenter, but he knows that it’s going to be hard to avoid her or her family.  

When Ryan becomes the designated driver at a family wedding and has to take Lauren and her friends home, he can’t deny his feelings any longer, and things heat up very nicely.  But this happily-ever-after is complicated by a teenage son, and an ex-husband, and Lauren, who may not want the same things Ryan has been craving in his life.  It’s a right sticky situation.

I liked the storylines in this book.  Dealing with an ex, a teenage son who is acting out some of his problems in not so healthy ways, partners wanting different things out of life, compromising on living arrangements to be with the one you love.  I wasn’t sure until the very end how it was going to end up, and I especially liked the unexpected drama at the end with the ex-husband, and I loved how it became very clear that the ex-husband was interested in not only his son’s happiness, but also Lauren’s happiness.  He could have been a real jerk about that, and he wasn’t.  

I loved seeing both the New Hampshire and Maine branches of the Kowalski’s together in this book, and could have used more them. It’s always a treat when characters from previous books in the series return.

The ladies in town are also a nice treat.  Their support of each other is really an awesome aspect of this series, even if that support comes with all the women in each others business. Rose even offers a bit of drama with an old situation that comes to light.

Shannon Stacey nails what it’s like living in a small town, especially how everyone knows everyone elses business (I speak from experience.) I also find her “coming home” subplots to be very realistic as well.  This is a wonderful series if you are looking for something light, fun, with just the right touch of angst.   

Another solid offering in this series. 4 out of 5 flames.

Thanks to Harlequin and NetGallery for the eArc in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

ARC Review: Beyond Control by Kit Rocha


Alexa Parrino escaped a life of servitude and survived danger on the streets to become one of the most trusted, influential people in Sector Four, where the O’Kanes rule with a hedonistic but iron fist. Lex has been at the top for years, and there’s almost nothing she wouldn’t do for the gang…and for its leader. Lie, steal, kill—but she bows to no one, not even Dallas O’Kane.

He’ll settle for nothing less.

Dallas fought long and hard to carve a slice of order out of the chaos of the sectors. Dangers both large and small threaten his people, but it’s nothing he can’t handle. His liquor business is flourishing, and new opportunities fuel his ambition. Lex could help him expand his empire, something he wants almost as much as he wants her. And no one says no to the king of Sector Four.

Falling into bed is easy, but their sexual games are anything but casual. Attraction quickly turns to obsession, and their careful dance of heady dominance and sweet submission uncovers a need so deep, so strong, it could crush them both.
  4.5 flames out of 5
Kit Rocha’s buffet of bad boys, as I call them, are back in this second installment of the Beyond series, and the focus is on Dallas O’Kane and Lex, his on-again/ off-again woman. This installment continues both the action and the hedonistic erotica. This book contains lots of debauched, smutty sex,often with multiple partners and combinations, so be forewarned.

Since this book is yet to be released, I’m going to try to do this without spoilers. At the end of the first book, Beyond Shame, trouble was brewing in the sectors, with Dallas eliminating Wilson Trent from a neighboring sector, putting it up for grabs to the person strong enough to take it and keep it. Yeah, there’s going to be trouble there for sure.

Back in Sector four, Dallas is distracted with the mind games Lex plays with him, instead of focusing on the troubles brewing, and she’s egging him on. Dallas has an image to uphold as king, and he doesn’t falter, which makes his vulnerability toward Lex all that more endearing. Some of my favorite moments in the book were his thoughts regarding how he feels about her I didn’t doubt his feelings, and it made him one sexy dude.

Lex is more complicated. She has needs that Dallas cannot fulfill, at least not in her mind. She fights him, keeps things from him, and manipulates him. We learn more about her background and some of the things she hides from him. She’s not perfect, and she is actually as inept at dealing with her feelings for Dallas as he is when dealing with his feelings for her. Only she doesn’t see it.

I really like the world the authors have built here. It’s gritty and dirty and has tons of potential. But really, it’s the characters that make this story interesting. Jasper, Noelle, Ace, Bren, Rachel, Six, and other are back too, although their parts are a bit slim. More characters from the other sectors are introduced in this book, including someone who could potentially hurt both Lex and Dallas. Things get tense for a while. Good thing there’s sex to relieve the tensions, at least temporarily.

When Dallas makes a critical mistake in Lex’s eyes, everything explodes. Dallas doesn’t understand what Lex wants and Lex can’t understand why Dallas doesn’t know why she’s upset. Who hasn’t been there, right? The authors give the reader a good dose of some really terrific angsty moments. I absolutely adored the ending of this book for its emotional quality.

I really like this series. It’s got really nice world building, interesting characters, and fresh storylines and erotica. I still have some issues with muddled point of view in some of the scenes with multiple characters. I find I have to re-read sections to really get a handle on who’s thoughts I’m hearing. I wish that could be a little less pronounced for me.

At times the action sequences regarding the gang takes second place to the erotic scenes, and for me, I would rather a more even treatment of between the action and the erotica. I want to know more about this world.

Overall, I loved Beyond Control, and I’m looking forward to the next installment in the series, Beyond Pain (Fall 2013) , with Bren and Six as the main characters.

Thanks to the authors for providing an ARC in exchange for a honest review.


Release Day Review: The Five Year Lie by Sarina Bowen

Bestselling romance author Sarina Bowen’s debut thriller, about one woman’s search for the truth after receiving a text from her deceased ex...