Sunday 28 July 2013

Lick by Kylie Scott (Stage Dive #1)

Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: July 1st 2013
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 7 out of 10
My Rating: 2 out of 5


Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas’s plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure as hell never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

One thing is for certain, being married to rock and roll’s favourite son is sure to be a wild ride.


I should really have learned my lesson with contemporary romances by now, but I loved Kylie Scott's Flesh series so I figured I had to read this. But it is contemporary, so it doesn't matter who wrote it, my chances of loving it were still low.

This book was really absolutely nothing special to me. Same old, same old that I have read in almost every contemporary romance. I mean, sure, David is hot and he loves her, but really, I need more than that. And I feel like the lost memory of a night in Vegas was used as a gimmick to draw us in, but then the story ended up actually not being about that at all. By the end of the book, I totally forget that that is how they met or that Evelyn doesn't remember marrying him.

“I married you, Evelyn, because you made sense to me. We make sense. We're a whole lot better together than apart.”

Plus there is the inevitable drama. That is always the #1 thing I mention when reviewing a contemporary. I can't stand the drama! When Ev busted in on David and Martha it was absolutely obvious that she misunderstood the situation. It was absolutely obvious that walking away was the worst thing that could happen to him, but she did it anyway. And then he never really explained anything else that she accused him of besides the kiss. Why keep the house? Her earring? Her job? After their rules about being honest and everything, they still really screwed things up and I don't think he should have been forgiven so easily. Its so frustrating. I prefer it when the only things a couple have to fight is zombies or aliens, instead of each other. I need a break from contemporaries.

“Love isn't always smooth or straightforward. It can be messy and painful… Doesn't mean it isn't still the most incredible thing that can ever happen to you.”

Friday 26 July 2013

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: September 4th 2011
POV: Alternating - First-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 5 out of 10
My Rating: 3 out of 5


When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn't bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family - and a stack of overdue assignments -- instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.


This book would have been a solid 4-stars if I was judging by the first half alone. I really enjoyed the first half of the book. I loved the survival element. It was really interesting seeing them try to catch fish with earrings, building a little house, day-to-day life of trying to live on a deserted island. I have never read a book like this before and it was great. Not that I want to go and read survival books now. Romance always makes me care about characters more so I wouldn't have been so interested in their lives if it weren't for the romance.

I didn't realize how much time they would be on the island, although I guess maybe I suspected, considering TJ was only 16 when they crashed. I love how the romance developed so slowly. At first, Anna didn't really see TJ as a man. Its not like she was waiting for him to grow up before having a relationship with him. It didn't even cross her mind until he was already grown up. It felt really natural for her to just see him differently one day. I think he was already 18 by the time she thought about it, and he was about a month away from his 19th birthday before anything happened between them.

Nothing really happened in the story and that is part of the reason why I loved it so much. I love low drama in my contemporaries, and the first half of the book was just life on the island and I can't think of it as anything but a pleasant read, despite fighting sharks and dengue fever. But I did not expect the second half of the book. I would have been much happier if the book had ended when they were rescued and then skipped to the epilogue. So much unnecessary drama and "you deserve better" bullshit. The second half of the book drove me crazy and I did not enjoy a moment of it. This is split into two extremes and I have a hard time distinguishing my feelings about it.

I definitely enjoyed The Education of Sebastian more. Not because of the smut, but because of the dynamics of a relationship with such a large age gap, and there was zero unnecessary drama. The gap in The Education of Sebastian is actually 2 years smaller, but Caroline didn't wait until Sebastian was of age and I guess I should maybe hold that against her. But maybe the day that Sebastian became a man was sooner than the law thought. Anna had a moment when she suddenly looked at TJ differently and she was lucky he was 18, and maybe Caroline just could not control when that happened. Although Sebastian and Caroline still had all their ridiculous drama in book 2. I can see why this book was so well loved though, because I know most people are not as bothered by drama in contemporaries as am, which would leave them feeling as wonderful as I felt after finishing the first half.

“I don't fit in your world." 
"Neither do I," he said, his expression tender yet resolute. "So let's make our own. We've done it before.”

Thursday 25 July 2013

Lord of Danger by Anne Stuart

Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publication Date: July 1st 1997
POV: Alternating - Third-Person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 7 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Half-sister to Richard the Fair, Alys has been schooled in the sheltered ways of the convent, far from the treachery and intrigue of castle life. Until she is taken from the cloister and brought to a place filled with secrets. Here she is to meet her future husband, a man some call a monster. His name is Simon of Navarre, a powerful and mysterious lord practiced in the black arts. This sensual stranger both terrifies her and fascinates her...and sets her heart burning with an unfamiliar fire.

Jaded by war, no longer able to believe in human goodness, Simon has turned toward the realm of darkness. But the master magician finds himself bewitched by the innocent Alys, who fears his very touch could damn her forever. Yet even as Simon begins to work his seductive magic, Alys senses the wounded soul beneath the cooly elegant facade. Now, as the two become pawns in Richard's treacherous scheme to become England's king, only one power can save them: the unstoppable force of love.


I enjoyed this more than Reckless, and would have enjoyed it more than Ruthless if it weren't for the imprisonment business. I was completely pulled in by the story in this one, and by Simon and Alys. They were amazing and Simon is by far my favourite Anne Stuart hero so far. He was absolutely wicked and irresistible. I was told this was one of her best books, and I can see why someone would think so.

But it is just my personal preference that I didn't like how Alys was imprisoned. After finally admitting their feelings and have some beautiful moments in the rain, they were torn apart, leaving Alys doubting Simon. I really did not enjoy that. I wanted to see more of them enjoying each other. Plus, at the end, Alys didn't even leave a note so her sister would know she was ok. Likely everyone would worry about her. It wasn't an entirely happy ending when you think about the people they left behind.

And that brings me to another issue. I could not stand Claire! OMG what a spoiled brat. Even after everything I still could not stand her. She drove me crazy to the end and I think Thomas deserved better. This book had another secondary romance, like the previous two Anne Stuart books I have read. It must be standard for her. Another standard must be that the villain is a relative. Next time I read one of her books I wont trust anyone's family.

Although I seemed to have a lot of issues with this, Simon and Alys made this book and I want to love it more because of them. Especially Simon. Gosh I love him! Alys was awesome too. Definitely better than Charlotte. Maybe not Elinor though. Elinor kicked some ass.

“She tilted her head to one side, considering him. "Do you love me?" 
"Love is a trick and a sham. A foolish plague and a lie and a torment." 
"Do you love me?" she repeated, quite calmly. Knowing the answer. 
"Yes, may it curse my soul."

Monday 22 July 2013

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (The Testing #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Sci-fi, Dystopian, Romance
Publication Date: June 4th 2013
POV: Female - First-person, Present tense
My Rating: 3 out of 5


Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.


I enjoyed this story for the most part. The first 3 stages of the testing in the first half of the book reminded me a lot of the fierce competing in Divergent. But the final stage of testing, and the second half of the book, was without a doubt similar to The Hunger Games. Although YA dystopians abound these days, I enjoyed the world and thought it was well done.

But I found the character development seriously lacking. Cia is a decent heroine, but she's not amazing. She was determined and brave but not in any way that makes her stand out among the plethora of brave YA heroines. She was smart in a way that made her impossible to relate to and her loyalty was blind.

I wanted to love Tomas because Cia does, but he just wasn't anything special either, and I found myself wishing for a love-triangle with Michal instead. That would probably spice up the character development a bit. And I find that tiny twist about Tomas at the end to be unbelievable and unfair. I am angry at the author for spending the whole book trying to convince us Tomas is a certain kind of person, only to tell us differently in the end with no proof and no idea what to do with the information she has given us, except hold it in the palm of our hands until Independent Study.

This did not have what I would call a cliffhanger and it does not make me more invested in his character. It felt incomplete and took away from my overall enjoyment of the book. But I am curious enough about their world and whether or not Cia can take it down from the inside to keep reading eventually.

“Leaders are forced to kill all the time. Then they have to learn to live with the decisions they make. Just like I'm going to learn to live with mine.”

Friday 19 July 2013

Ruthless by Anne Stuart (The House of Rohan #1)

Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publication Date: July 20th 2010
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 7 out of 10
My Rating: 5 out of 5


Few outsiders will ever witness the dark misdeeds of the Heavenly Host. And among this secret society, where exiled Georgian aristocrats gather to indulge their carnal desires, fewer still can match the insatiable appetite of their chief provocateur, the mysterious Viscount Rohan.

Pursuit of physical pleasure is both his preferred pastime and his most pressing urge, until he encounters the fascination of a woman who won't be swayed. And while his dark seduction appalls the pure and impoverished Elinor Harriman, she finds herself intrigued...and secretly drawn to the man behind the desire.


This book blew me away! I was not prepared for this. I asked for recommendations in a romance group for books with really dark heroes, and Anne Stuart was recommended to me. I was told that the Rohan series was not her best, but it was one of two available at my library so I picked it up immediately. They downplayed it a bit and I wasn't prepared to love it so much.

I loved the battle of wits, for there was one, as much as Rohan thought he always had the upper hand. His and Elinor's back and forth was the center of the story and it was immensely entertaining. I also found it interesting how it all took place in front of a sexual backdrop. There was only one actual sex scene, at about 80% into the book, but the whole book was surrounded by it, and every move Rohan made was motivated by it. As it says on the back of the book, "Pursuit of physical pleasure is both his preferred pastime and his most pressing urge."

It was all so very enticing, while never really crossing the line until the end. The entire book was foreplay. As was Rohan's forceful behaviour. I was in the mood for a dark hero and I definitely got one. Rohan had practically no conscience. He never forced Elinor, but he played horrible games, blackmailed her, locked her in his house, used any means necessary for her to bend to his will. And it worked. On me as well. He was utterly delicious.

There was also a secondary romance that was more light and innocent and was perhaps used to balance the dark of the book. It was extremely sweet and I enjoyed it as well. I have been warned that some of the later books in the series are even darker and that I may not enjoy them with my standards. But I am still really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

“You know as well as I do, damn you. Like it or not I seem to have grown a heart. I have absolutely no use for the damned thing, but there it sits, demanding Elinor. I can't live without her.”

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Born of Ice by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League #3)

Genres: Adult, Sci-fi, Romance
Publication Date: December 1st 2009
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 5 out of 10
My Rating: 5 out of 5


In the Ichidian Universe where The League is law, most live in fear. We fight back. Welcome to a world where corrupt assassination politics dominate everyone. It’s kill or be killed. Welcome back to the future…and meet hell's new breed of heroes.

Devyn Kell spent his life in service to the League until he learned of the double dealing and backstabbing that was costing innocent people their lives. Refusing to play those politics, he became a Runner—someone who makes sure planets get the weapons, medicine and supplies they need to survive. May the gods have mercy on any who get in his way, because he definitely won’t.Alix Garran is a woman on the run from a past she can’t escape. Signing on to work for Devyn as a System’s Engineer, she finds a cause she can fight for—and a man she can respect. But as Alix’s past catches up to her, and Devyn’s old enemies turn lethal, they have to fight together…or fall alone, in Born of Ice, the third bestselling League novel from Sherrilyn Kenyon.


Another amazing addition to The League series. This one changed things up a bit, and I really enjoyed it, but book #1 and Nykyrian are still my favourite.

A long time has passed since Born of Fire, and this book features Syn and Sharaha's son, Devyn. This had just as much adventure, danger, and action as the previous two installments, but a little less personal drama, which is much appreciated. Devyn and Alix never had a big falling out. I really loved the family that Devyn had, especially Omari. And I was so happy to see Paden reconcile with Syn. That was like the best thing ever!

This was more 'feel-good' compared the the first two books. It was also different because, unlike the first two, the hero was not the one who needed to be convinced he deserved love, it was the heroine. Alix was a slave that was extremely mistreated her whole life and thought that she was trash and worthless. Devyn promptly taught her otherwise. Devyn was pretty sweet and bad-ass, but not as brooding and tortured as his father. I still prefer his father...and his son. Is that weird?

I was a bit confused at times about the timeline though. Its weird to skip so many years and meet the children of couples that we don't see get together until later in the series. It seems they are not numbered in chronological order. I suppose it may help to read this immediately after reading about Devyn's parents meeting. But then the series goes back to focusing on Nykyrian and Syn's fellow Sentella members. Not that I am complaining, because I was really looking forward to getting to know them better. But now, I really wanna see more of Omari. I will just have to continue reading and see what happens.

"I love you, Devyn Wade Kell, with everything inside me. But it’s okay if you don’t feel the same. I know I’m just a piece of trash in your world, and I don’t expect you to share my feelings." 
"Don’t you ever say that to me again. Trash is something people throw away, Alix. I intend to keep you for the rest of my life."

Monday 15 July 2013

Losing It by Cora Carmack (Losing It #1)

Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Humour, Romance
Publication Date: October 12th 2012
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 6 out of 10
My Rating: 5 out of 5


Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, Bliss Edwards decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible - a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if that weren't embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. She'd left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

This book was so much fun and I could not put it down! It's been too long since I read a book I enjoyed this much. I don't know if my expectations are higher now because I have read so many books, or if I have just been having a bad year. This is only my 5th 5-star review this year, while last year I rated 21 5-star books. I am not even close to half way, as I should be at this point.

"Heaven help me, but I wanted my professor to be my boyfriend."

I am not usually a fan of contemporary romance. The unnecessary drama drives me crazy. I hate it when the only thing standing between a couple is themselves and their issues. I love that there was none of that in Losing It. Garrick and Bliss didn't waste too much time dancing around each other, and even though he was her teacher and they were not supposed to be together, it never really came into play. In any other book, they would have been caught and it would have been turned into a big scandal. I can't even say how happy I am that that did not happen!!

"He took my hand, and pulled me into his living room where a book was open on his sofa. It was poetry, of course, because he was perfect."

And I loved Garrick and Bliss. I love that Garrick was a nice, genuine guy who did not mess around. He was straight-forward and real. Bliss on the other hand was clumsy and awkward and prone to verbal vomiting. She was a lot of fun, whether I was laughing with her or at her. She was so relatable and far from perfect, but it's still believable that Garrick loved her because she was awesome and vulnerable and brave at the same time.

"Whoever said one-night stands were supposed to be simple with no strings attached had clearly never met the disaster that was me."

And the ending was ridiculously perfect and adorable and swoon-worthy. I can't say enough how much I loved the ending! I also enjoyed the supporting characters Cade and Kelsey, and I am glad that the series continues with their stories. I will be reading them soon.

"Then, slowly, like the sunrise peeking over the horizon, she smiled. She didn't scream. She didn't run. She didn't faint. There might have been a little crying. But mostly… she danced."

Sunday 14 July 2013

Of Silver and Beasts by Trisha Wolfe (Goddess Wars #1)

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: April 18th 2013
POV: Female - First-person, Present tense
My Rating: 3 out of 5


In the sand-covered queendom of Cavan, the goddess once saved a young Kaliope’s life, preventing the mercury her father attempted to hide in her blood from reaching her heart. Now, a cybernetic clamp filters it, but the silver streaks swirling faintly beneath her skin are a constant reminder that she’s different.

When nineteen-year-old Kaliope is chosen as head of the Nactue Guard, she becomes the sworn protector to her empress. In the midst of an invasion on a neighboring land, Kaliope is placed in charge of guarding Prince Caben, the last heir to his kingdom. But when they’re attacked by the feared Otherworlders, Caben and Kaliope are abducted and taken below to a realm where they must fight for their life in a caged arena.

Kaliope struggles to protect her princely charge, keeping him and herself alive while battling inhumanly opponents, and trying to save the stolen, sacred relic that will restore her empress’s life force and all of Cavan. And if she can somehow awaken the goddess within her, she may save what’s most important.

I was a bit disappointed with this since I have come to expect so much from Trisha Wolfe. I really wanted to love this, but I couldn't.

First of all, the world it was set in really drove me crazy. I couldn't stand the idea of a matriarchy. Its not like I want to be ruled by men, but it should be equality and anything else just feels wrong. Kal tried to explain that it wasn't about forcing men to obey, but to show respect and a woman's need to protect her family. I don't care how it is justified, it's still wrong. And I know Kal came around in the end, and that was part of her journey. Learning that men are just as useful as women. But it was still infuriating. At the end, when Kal is like, "Hey, Caben can take care of himself after all. Maybe he is good for something." And I am just thinking, "No shit!" It didn't make it any easier for me. I still hated everything about her society, and couldn't really come around to liking her either because of it. It nearly ruined the whole book for me.

I didn't really like Kaliope anyways. She was so dedicated to becoming a Nactue and had trained since she was 12 years old. But within her first few days of duty, she is already breaking every order she is given. How could she be so bad at it if she had been training most of her life, and it mean everything to her? She was rude and condescending and so full of herself. I enjoyed Caben but I don't really get what he saw in Kal, besides her physical badassness. She was so mean to him. Their relationship felt really forced to me. I didn't feel a real connection, and when they had sex it was too soon.

But I enjoyed the story's mythology, and I look forward to finding out more about the goddesses. I usually love the worlds of high fantasy, so hopefully Of Darkness and Crowns won't have as much misandry and can focus more on developing other aspects of the world. This also had a great deal of well written action sequences and a fully capable heroine. So I will read the sequel, but my expectations aren't too high.

"His thumb skims my cheek. "You're my goddess." Then his lips fall to mine as he rolls me to lie beside him."

Monday 8 July 2013

The Education of Caroline by Jane Harvey-Berrick (The Education of... #2)

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: February 7th 2013
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 8 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Ten years after their broken affair, Sebastian and Caroline meet again: this time in very different circumstances, against the background of the war in Afghanistan.

Now a successful journalist, Caroline meets Chief Sebastian Hunter, US Marine. Will this chance encounter rekindle the erotic madness of her passionate affair with a younger man?


I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first book, but it was still great. I prefer contemporary romance with low drama. I really love the parts in Italy. That was the best part of the book. It was more reminiscent of book 1, as  Sebastian and Caroline simply spent time together doing every day things and intensely loving each other. The parts in Afghanistan was interesting, but was focused mostly on the action and danger and didn't leave a lot of time for romance. The part at Long Beach was the worst. I got kinda depressed while reading it. It was the only part that had conflict between Sebastian and Caroline. It was painful to see Sebastian struggling and taking it out on Caroline instead of letting her comfort him. I never like conflict in contemporary romances.

"Don't give up on me, Caro. Please don't give up on me. I need you, baby. I love you so much. I'm so sorry.” 
I could forgive anything now that he'd let me touch him."

But I did really enjoy how Sebastian and Caroline's relationship developed, excluding the hiccup at the end. The fact that they were able to pick up where they left off ten years earlier, the way it was completely indisputable that he still loved her, and they didn't even have to work through what happened. They just let it go and moved forward. It was amazing. They love each other so much. But I preferred Sebastian in the first book. I'm not a fan of all the swearing and drinking and the temper. Simply as a reader, I prefer who he was before. But it was a very realistic transition and I understand why he turned out that way. I don't hold it against him as a person, and I could still see the old Sebastian deep inside. It was excellent character development. I am also remarkably happy that they finally got their HEA. I only wish it had been 10 years earlier. I was so pleased to see that there are those that can celebrate with them and not judge their relationship.

Oh, and this book wasn't as hot as the first one was. The sexual content wasn't as high, but it was still pretty high. But also I have a thing for innocence, first times, and discovery. Maybe that's why I enjoy YA so much. Sebastian was the kind of guy you would usually find in YA, during the first book. But in the second he was the usual moody, adult love interest. Book 1 gave me the best of both worlds.

“My beautiful boy, my lover, my friend. The man I thought I'd never see again. Sebastian.”

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