Category Archives: Romance

ARC Review: Sweet Little Lies (Heartbreaker Bay #1) by Jill Shalvis

4.5 gems

sweet little lies

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Jill Shalvis book. Sweet Little Lies was a good book to start reading her again. I do love a book with strong characters and zero unnecessary drama, and Sweet Little Lieswas exactly that. Sweet Little Lies is a gem of a book. Beautifully written, with strong lead as well as side characters.

Pru is one of the strongest and best heroines I’ve read recently. As a captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru is used to handling the rough seas and having lived through tough times in the past, she is also used to a rough life. Now all she wants is to do right by the people she believes were wronged and live a content if not happy life. But she finds herself drawn to a man who isn’t exactly right for her, a man she believes will hate her when he learns of his past.

Finn O’Riley is six-foot something, hardworking man who always has his bar and is arms open for his friends. When Pru becomes one of his friends, he extends the same behaviour to her too. Finn too has had a rough past. Early on he had to abandon his dreams to take care of his brother Sean, who by the way still hasn’t grown up. Pru enters into his life as a breath of fresh air.

The chemistry between Finn and Pru is perceptible and hot as hell. They share a great rapport and the banter between them is fun-filled and sexy. I love how their relationship progresses. They start as friends and go on to become lovers. They learn new things about each other with each passing page. You can actually see how their relationship develops and grows. As individuals too Pru and Finn grow a lot over the course of the book.

Pru has easily become one of my favorite heroines. She is innately good, with a big heart and only love to give, with no expectations of any returns. She made me fall in love with her. She is the kind of woman you need in your life, the best friend who will stay with you through your thick and thin. Her past and her guilt also broke my heart. For a woman so pure and good, her circumstances were not so good. I loved how easily Finn’s group of friends accepted her. Even a tough cookie like Elle was won over by Pru. Pru’s chemistry wih Elle and Willa is exactly the kind I feel I have with my friends, which made it all the more relatable.

Finn too was a great character. He had no controlling or dominating tendencies and that made him love him. In the era of hard-core alpha males, Finn came in as a breath of fresh air. That’s not to say that he wasn’t alpha, he was, just not in the overbearing way. He helped Pru open up and grow as an individual. He made her want happiness and life and love, and I absolutely loved him for it. Pru and Finn were the perfect couple.

Like in any romance novel, in Sweet Little Lies too there was an anger induced break-up. But the way Finn comes back to Pru and everything that hew says, I just fell in love with him and that epilogue was just beautiful.

Sweet Little Lies was a mixture of love and heartbreak, laughter and cries, sexy times and honest love-making. It was beautifully written in a way that would win your heart and make you believe in love. I can’t wait to read the stories of the rest of the gang.

This review was first published in The Ever Romantic Arts


The Millionaire Makeover (Bachelor Auction #2) by Naima Simone

4 gems

The Millionaire Makeover

When you think of a fairy tale retelling, you imagine a fantasy with probably monsters and fairies and all sorts of paranormal shenanigans. Well, at least I did. That was before I read Naima Simone’s Bachelor Auction series. Thanks to her I know that fairy tale re-tellings can worm their way into contemporary romances too. By the wayThe Millionaire Makeover, if you haven’t guessed yet, is a rendition of The Ugly Duckling.

Plain-Jane Khloe Richardson, a.k.a the ugly duckling (at least she seems to think so, I don’t know why!) is in love with her boss. Except she doesn’t know how to approach him, and he definitely doesn’t see her. So what’s a girl to do? Make him jealous of course. Now how do you go about doing that, you ask? Easy peasy, you bid on a bachelor at the Bachelor Auction. Now if that bachelor turns out to be your brother’s best friend, who slept with you and then took off? You stay far away from him. And then after a few days of him wearing you down, ask him for a makeover. Well Khloe never wanted to do all that. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And when you have a best friend like Morgan pushing you into the arms of the love of your life, there’s not much one can do.

I love the brother’s best friend trope. The genre and I are the bestest of friends. And this book is exactly that. To make things interesting, Naima Simone decides to off the brother. Now hold your horses, before you start thinking, “with the brother gone things are going to be so easy” Because they are not going to be easy at all. The brother, Michael has to give a hard time to the man who is trying to shag his sister, even if it from the grave, a la P.S. I Love You style, with a letter. Or rather a couple of them. Read on for the rest.. the story isn’t disappointing. When you’ve a brooding, alpha male with an Irish accent, things can never be boring.

For Niall Hunter, Michael Richardson is his brother, his best friend and his family. His death completely shatters Niall. Dealing with the loss of the only person who accepted him warts and all is not going to be easy. Michael’s sister Khloe has a hard time dealing with the loss of her brother. So, she goes to the only person who really knows what she is going through, her brother’s best friend Niall. Neither of them expected to end up in bed together. And Khloe definitely wasn’t prepared for Niall to disappear from her life after an amazing night together.

Fast forward three years, Khloe has moved on, or so she thinks until Niall appears in front of her. It’s like seeing a ghost from the past. For the past three years there has been no communication between Khloe and Niall, and not for her lack of trying. Niall has stayed away from Khloe for three years. She used to be one of her closest friend. But after “deflowering” her, he receives a letter from Michael. Which explicitly states that Khloe deserves a better man than him. So Niall does what any man who loves his best friend and has some decency and honor do. He leaves her in bed. Naked. Then doesn’t talk to her for three years.

Now that Niall is back in town, he wants to be Khloe’s friend. Just like old times. What Niall doesn’t know yet,  is that the penance for sleeping with your best-friend’s little sister is…. transforming her into a beautiful swan from an ugly duckling. All this would be cool, if only, and only if, he could stop imagining her naked and stop touching her, and stop trying to be her everything.

I loved reading this book. Because even though the trope is clichéd, Naima Simone brings her own flavor into the novel. Her characters are quite real and very well fleshed out. Be it the guilt-ridden and heart-broken Niall or the sweet and shy Khole. You could even understand Khole’s parents and their reactions, even if you don’t agree with them. And I don’t agree with them. I wanted to slap them around for a bit, and then I realized it’ll take more than a few love-taps to make them open their eyes and see what’s in front of them.

For those of you, who are not familiar with Naima’s work, this book is as good as any to start with. I guarantee, you will not be disappointed. The Millionaire Makeover is full  of good humor and great  characters. The story itself won’t let you leave disappointed either.

Other books in this series:

Beauty and the Bachelor

This review was first published in The Ever Romantic Arts


Beauty and the Bachelor (Bachelor Auction #1) by Naima Simone

3.5 gems

the beauty and the bachelor

Lucas Oliver is all set to avenge his father. And he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Even if it involves blackmailing the innocent daughter of his sworn enemy into marrying him. All her life Sydney Blake was controlled by her family. She was nothing more than a disappointment to her fickle, indifferent mother and her driven, controlling and absent father. She was a mere pawn in her father’s games. The only good thing she did to please her parents was agreeing to marry the son of her father’s business associate. And even that appreciation is short-lived, when she decides to give in to Lucas’s blackmail and marry him to save her father.

At first when I saw that the people around Sydney, including her family was treating her like garbage, I was enraged. Not just at her family, but also Sydney herself. What person just stands and looks around while they are being beaten to an inch of their lives. But as I kept reading, I realized, Sydney is far stronger than she looks. She has the kind of inner strength that inspires. The kind of strength one can’t guess just by looking at her. Her actions are mainly driven by the guilt of an old tragedy, a tragedy even her father blamed her for. But the growth you see in Sydney with each passing page is commendable.

Lucas Oliver. I have mixed feelings about the guy. When I first finished this book, I was leaning towards the ‘I-hate-him’ tip of the scale. But now that I have had some time to think and process the book, I am more in the middle. The best thing I loved about Lucas was that he is the reason Sydney found herself. He encouraged her, made her feel special, made her more confident. I think without Lucas, Sydney wouldn’t have grown as much as she did in this book. He made her more independent and strong enough to stand up for herself.

Now as much as I loved Lucas for all the good he did to Sydney, I hated all the bad he did to her too. He was always clear about his agenda. Revenge. No matter what the cost. And that’s what he does till almost the end of the book. More times than not, Sydney had to pay for her father’s sins in some way or the other. He may not have physically hurt her, but he hurt her plenty emotionally. At every stage of their relationship he kept secrets, his actions would say something and his words something else. Like Sydney, I too was frustrated with his back and forth. And when he accuses her of doing something she wouldn’t dream of, all bets are off.

Lucas does come to his senses and realizes what an ass he was for treating Sydney the way he did. And he does promise to keep her happy and love her for the rest of his life. But I would have loved to see some more grovelling on his part.

What was irrefutable was Lucas and Sydney’s chemistry. Oh boy did they have chemistry. Oozing hot was what they were. Since the moment their eyes met across the stage, they were sizzling. The sex was hot and even when they were angry with each bother they were burning up the pages. Their attraction to each other through all the ups and downs was so palpable, it was undeniable. Their kind of passion is one of the reasons that I think their relationship made it.

The only secondary character I liked was Aiden, Lucas’s best friend. He was a fun guy who could clearly see that what Lucas was doing was not right. He tried to talk him out of it too. And when Lucas inevitably messes up his relationship with Sydney, it’s Aiden who gives him the much-needed kick in the ass. Tyler, Sydney’s ex-fiance too was a guy that I really liked. As we find out in the book, he has his own mess to clean up and I can’t wait to read more about him. I hope Naima Simone decides to write his story, because that’s one that I definitely want to read.

The people I hated most in this book were Sydney’s parents. There are no two parents worse than Jason and Charlene Blake. The way they chipped at their daughter was just despicable. They reminded me of vultures picking at a carrion. I am really surprised though that Sydney turned out the way she did with the kind of parents she had. But I guess, when you have the worst kind of parents, you are determined to be the best kind of person. And Sydney was definitely the best kind of person. Though Jason too realizes his mistakes and apologizes to Sydney, for e it was too little, too late. Twenty years of indifference and hurtful attitude can’t be overcome by one apology. But Jason was still better than Charlene, because that woman never even bothers to apologize to her daughter for all the agony she has caused.

Overall it was a really good book with an emotional roller coaster ride and an amazing lead heroine. Sydney is the kind of woman one would like to emulate. Her innate goodness, her strength, her kindness and courage are the best part of her. I have a total girl-crush on her, because let’s be honest, she may not wield a sword, but she is totally bad-ass.

This review was first published in The Ever Romantic Arts


3 Breaths by L.K. Collins

3 gems

3 breaths

Pssst.. The review is kinda spoilery. Proceed at your own risk.

3 Breaths definitely had a lot of feels, but unfortunately the feels weren’t enough for me.

The book starts with Zoe and Krane celebrating their engagement with friends. but on their way home, Zoe has a seizure attack and passes away. Fast forward 5 months, Krane is still reeling from the loss of his beloved. He has let himself go; surviving solely on booze and underground fights. The only light in his dark tunnel is Ivy, Zoe’s sister. While neither his family nor friends understand his pain, Ivy surely does. She is the only one who does.

Ivy too has trouble dealing with her sister’s death, especially since they had grown apart in the last few months of Zoe’s life. With her death, Ivy is reeling with guilt and pain. Her only solace is her sister’s fiancee, Krane.

The pain of both Ivy and Krane is very palpable. You can actually feel their hearts breaking, you can feel them spiraling down. This is one of the most emotionally draining book that I’ve read. But on the flip side, while both Ivy and Krane work as individuals, they didn’t work as a couple for me.

Since Zoe’s death, Krane has not even looked at anyone else. But when one fine day he notices Ivy’s ass, he feels guilty, because well he is checking out a woman who is not Zoe and just to spice things up a bit, he is ogling his dead fiancee’s sister. That was all well and good, until the same night he sleeps with a woman, in part to get back at his high-school girlfriend who cheated on him, but didn’t feel an ounce of guilt.

Now mind you, I have no problems with men who sleep around, as long as they stay faithful and monogamous when they are with a particular woman. But hypocrisy doesn’t work for me. So if Krane felt guilty for ogling a woman who was not his fiancee, then he should have felt guilty for sleeping with someone else too. And he sleeps with two someone else’s, with no guilt whatsoever.

What I didn’t like was that Ivy was no different than the other two women Krane slept with. When he first notices Ivy, Krane says that Ivy is making him feel things (including lust). But he is just as turned on when he meets Casey and Shannon. How does that make Ivy special? I could get over this tiny issue, if only I felt some chemistry of the true love kinds, between Krane and Ivy. They work as best friends, they even work as friends with benefits, but I am not convinced that they are in love with each other.

One thing that L.K.Collins surprised me with was that Zoe was not an issue with Ivy and Krane. They both knew that Krane really loved Zoe, but Ivy was never insecure about that fact, which I absolutely loved. But I also didn’t appreciate the over-dependence that Krane and Ivy have on each other. They stop talking for a week and in that week they both spiral so far down the drain. They were way too dependent on each other, which in my opinion is unhealthy in a relationship.

I also never understood how they came together. One fine day Ivy asks what they were doing and Krane says he doesn’t want to hurt her. A fight, and a one-night stand later, Krane and Ivy make up and poof, they are together. I was never a fan of intsa-love, but here I didn’t even see it coming. All I could see was Ivy and Krane having a lot of sex together, but no love, even if it was there. Add to that the ending that came out of nowhere. If I didn’t see Ivy and Krane in a relationship, I definitely didn’t see the wedding coming. I find it hard to believe that a man would mourn for months after her looses his beloved fiancee, but within a month of dating another woman, he is ready to marry her. Ivy and Krane’s relationship has been on the fast track since Zoe’s death.

The secondary characters were also mostly a likable bunch. I adored Logan. He was a really good friend to Krane and a good man to have in his corner. L.K. Collins has a flair for writing complex characters and a heart-wrenching story.

3 Breaths is a good book. The author has beautifully portrayed the pain and anguish the characters go through, but there were way too many things that didn’t work me for.

This review first appeared in The Ever Romantic Arts. 

Betting On The Wrong Brother (What Happens in Vegas #12) by Cathryn Fox

4 gems

betting on the wrong brother

I love the whole falling for the brother’s best friend trope. And Betting on the Wrong Brother is kinda like that with a twist.

When Andi Palmer imagined running into her childhood crush, Nolan Wheeler, the man who crushed her heart and humiliated her, she did not think she would be half-naked in the hotel elevator. And she definitely didn’t think that he wouldn’t recognize her or that he’d give her a false name. Except, the man’s not Nolan and Andi doesn’t know that.

Ryan Grayson did not expect to meet a devil in an angel’s body, half-naked in the hotel elevator. But that’s exactly what happens. Any woman who seduces him without trying, and then drags him to the male model contest, to participate, has to be a devil, right? Andi with her sharp tongue and quick wit, captures his attention and he can’t stay away. When Ryan realizes that Andi mistakes him for his brother, he is unable to tell her the truth.

Andi’s plan for revenge goes awry when she sees the genuinely good guy Ryan is. He understands her like no one else , he gets her. And he is far from the heartless man who broke her heart. If anything, he’s the complete opposite. But when the truth comes out, Andi just might not forgive him.

Ryan is a successful horror writer and a dyslexic. I loved the way Ms. Fox treated the issue. She didn’t belittle it, but she did not make it into a paralyzing disability either. Ryan learns to get over his shortcomings. He is also an absolutely adorable, sexy and swoon-worthy man. He treats Andi like a princess, even when he knows that she thinks he is Nolan. But Andi sees him too. Despite the past, she comes to learn that the man she sees in front of her his way different from the cocky teenager who broke her heart.

Betting on the Wrong Brother was such a fun and flirty read. You’ll absolutely fall in love with the characters. The author also gave little insights into the nuances of an author’s life, which I loved. This is the second book that I’ve read in the What Happens in Vegasseries, and so far I loved them both. I can’t wait to delve into the rest of the series.

This review first appeared in The Ever Romantic Arts. 


Book Review: Love on a Summer Night (Pine Harbour#4) by Zoe York

5 gems

love on a summer night

Oh boy… This was by far. The. Best. Book in the series. #TheZanderEffect was in full swing in this book.

Zander Minelli has found his way back home to Pine Harbor after dedicating 20 years of his life to the army. In six months he’ll be out and needs to figure out what his future will be. What better place to do that than home sweet home. While on this two-week leave from the army, he meets the most delicious kind of woman, Ponytail Girl. She is beautiful, smart and has lots of questions on how to use deadly weapons and kill people. Fortunately for Zander, she also shares  his love for apple pie.

Faith Davidson is a widowed, single mother and a full-time author. She is ready to dip her feet back into the dating pool. Her only conditions: no tattoos and no bad boys. Only stable, boring men. While spending her time writing at the neighborhood diner, Greta’s, Faith encounters a tall, dark and handsome biker dude, who has her blood boiling and thinking dirty thoughts. He also happens to speak the language of weapons quite fluently, so she racks his brain for all the available knowledge. There’s just one catch. The hot as hell guy is the exact type of man Faith did not want; tattooed-bad boy. Except the attraction is strong and somehow they end up bumping into each other everywhere they go.

Zander and Faith were such amazing characters. Both strong in their own rights. Though they had instant attraction, there’s was by no means an insta-love story. Their relationship developed over the two-weeks Zander was in town and then later, when he was away. I loved seeing the way in which Zoe York dealt with the long distance relationship. A long-distance relationship is not easy, and Ms. York made sure that she included the difficulties that come with it, rather than making it all hunky dory. She also didn’t make Faith and Zander’s relationship full of fights, which I must say is very well done.

Faith was no meek woman, but after the death of husband in a skiing accident she has grown a lot more reserved and overprotective about her son Eric. She dulled her life, suppressed her desires, so that Eric wouldn’t have to grow up without either of his parents. She got a lot of help from her mother too. Faith, Eric and Faith’s mother shared  a very good relationship. Her mother too is a widow and knows how Faith feels.

Zander is indeed a tough, responsible guy. He loved his family, but the army is his life. He is in a dilemma when the book starts as to what to do with his life after his army stint comes to an end. But when Faith enters the picture, his priorities shift. He wants to stay with her and Eric, rather than being gone for months at a time. The six months they spent apart from each other while Zander was gone was difficult for both of them. The best thing about Zander was that he never took Faith for granted. He knew what her insecurities were, dealt with them in the best away possible. He never rubbished her fears, but rather coaxed her out in the open.

As expected from a typical Zoe York book, the chemistry was sizzling between Faith and Zander. They made a really good couple who shared a certain ease with each other. Every time they came together, sparks were flying. It was beautiful to see how caring Zander was towards Faith. He took care of the minutest details. He made her feel special and loved.

while Zander and Faith’s relationship was amazing, what was even better was Zander and Eric’s relationship. Now that took the cake. That man was meant to be a father. #ZanderEffect. Oh man!! The way Zander dealt with Eric, such love and care, I doubt even his biological father would have been capable of that. Zander was friend, a mentor, a comrade, a father, everything humanly possible to Eric. And the relationship all three of them shared together, Faith, Eric and Zander, a perfect family.

A special mention should also be given to Jake and Dani. They finally got married and man, oh man, their wedding vows…. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t shed a few tears. It was just PERFECT!! Everything about this book was just plain amazing. There was nothing wrong that I could find about this book. Since it was an ARC, there were a few typos, but even those were disregarded in favor of the awesome story-line and beautiful characters. I know that every time a new book by Zoe comes out, I say it’s my favorite, but THIS BOOKS WAS PERFECT! This was absolutely mesmerizing in the beauty of the relationships depicted and the story touched my heart.

I’m crossing my fingers that the next book in the series, which is Dean’s book was will as amazing as this, if not better.

This review was first published on The Ever Romantic Arts.


Book Review: Witness to Passion (Guarding Her Body #1) by Naima Simone

4 gems

witness to passion

Fallon Wayland hates birthdays. After all nothing good has happened to her on any of her birthdays. On her tenth birthday her dad stood her up because he was on a business trip, on her fifteenth birthday, her mom took her puppy to the pound and on her eighteenth birthday she kissed her childhood crush and got rejected. If you think all this was bad till you hear what happened on her twenty-fifth birthday. She gets dumped by her boyfriend on twitter, witnesses a mob hit and gets fired from her job. And now her life is all turned around.

Shane Roarke has avoided his baby sister’s best friend, Fallon for the past seven years after sharing a hot as hell kiss with her. But now that Fallon’s life is in danger, he can’t stay away. I doesn’t matter if just seeing Fallon turns him on. Her life is more important than his need to stay away.

With Fallon’s life endangered at very turn, Shane takes it upon himself to keep her safe. With both of them cooped up in a safe house, desires flare, clothes come off and hearts are at risk. Even when the clothes are flying off, danger is creeping in. Fallon and Shane need to survive if they must have a chance at love.

Fallon and Shane have a love-hate relationship, more hate than love. Being rejected does not sit well with Fallon after all. After avoiding her for almost eight years, when Shane shows up at her doorstep ready to be her knight in shining armor, she is skeptical.

“If you were truly ‘here for me,’ you would have a Kahlua in one hand and Henry Cavill’s number in the other. Since I’m not having drunken phone sex with Superman, there must be another reason you’re darkening my living room.”

Their banter is what made me love Fallon and Shane. Their back and forth was fun and oozing chemistry.  Both came from similar emotional backgrounds. While Fallon’s parents had money and never love to give her, Shane’s mom had loads of love, but was reckless and self-involved. They never tried to see the people behind the masks, and now that they do, they might not survive long enough to act on it.

The suspense in this book was good. I figured out who the traitor was once a couple of hints were dropped, but otherwise this book was majorly unpredictable. The characters were strong, the sex was hot and Addy, Shane’s sister and Fallon’s best was friend was super fun.

Witness to Passion was a good blend of romance and suspense. The action in the book kept me on my toes, and the author did not disappoint.

This review first appeared on The Ever Romantic Arts.


Book Review: Wilde at Heart (Wilde Security #3) by Tonya Burrows

4.5 gems

wilde at heart

I was so happy to receive an early copy of this book, ’cause since the day I finished Wilde for Her,  I was looking forward to Reece and Shelby’s story. And Tonya Burrows didn’t disappoint.Wilde at Heart was by far my favorite book in the series.

Though Cam and Jude were the most fun Wilde brothers and they are, except, Reece is better. He is adorable, sweet and sexy as hell. Reece and Shelby together were amazing together. Tonya Burrows had me laughing from the very first page. And considering that the heroine was Shelby, this book was guaranteed fun.

Shelby as usual spoke her mind and was fun as always. She is an independent young woman who knew her strengths and weakness. People never gave her a chance to be anything other than the flighty, reckless girl that she was. She tried so hard to be the responsible adult, but people’s views including that of her sister Eva and the Wilde brothers, including to some extent Reece, never changed.

While I loved Eva for the kick-ass woman that she was in Wilde For Her, I strongly disliked her in this book. She never really understood Shelby and she didn’t try to. She was always the first one to point out Shelby’s shortcomings and reprimand her. She was also the very last person to believe Shelby could make a sane, responsible decision. True Shelby was impulsive, but even behind her impulse she had good reason.

While I loved Reece for the kind-hearted, geeky nerd that he was, I was sometimes disappointed with him for his behavior with Shelby. He too never saw behind the mask of Shelby’s impulsiveness. He tried to change her from what she is to what he thinks she should be. But on the other hand he also didn’t want Shelby to change. His complexity and duality made for an intriguing read.

This book was suspenseful, fun and mostly unpredictable. There were two tracks working parallel in the story- one was Reece’s blackmail and the other was Shelby’s. While it was easy enough to guess who had a bone to grind with Reece, I honestly couldn’t predict who the villain in Shelby’s life was till the end. The sex as usual in Tonya Burrows style was hot has hell. Burrows has made sure to pave a footpath for both Vaughn and Greer Wilde. Tonya Burrows made sure to throw us crumbs about the upcoming books. I can already feel the fun and intensity in Lark and Vaughn’s book.

The surprise element in this book for me was Reece. In the previous books he came across as uptight and snobbish. But in this book Reece truly shined. He was just a lot more shy and reserved than his brothers. Trying to shoulder the weight of his brothers took a toll on him. Shelby was the perfect woman for him. She brought out the fun, geeky, artistic guy that he was. But what really threw me was the fact that Reece was a virgin!! I NEVER and I mean NEVER expected that. Thank you Ms. Burrows for surprising me!

Wilde at Heart truly encompassed what both Reece and Shelby were, and they were incredibly wild. This book is undoubtedly my favorite book in the series. Can’t wait for Vaughn and Greer’s story to come out.

This review first appeared on The Ever Romantic Arts.


Book Review: Rock Hard(Rock Kiss #2) by Nalini Singh

4 gems

rock hard

I’ve been looking forward to Charlie and T-Rex’s story since I read Rock Addiction. We already got a hint as to how Charlie and Gabriel’s relationship would be in that book. And boy, oh boy did I love it? Heck yeah. Rock Hard is my favorite book in the series. Rock Hard tells the story of a sweet, shy and invisible mouse, Charlotte Baird and a hot, strong, T-Rex of a man, Gabriel Bishop.

Charlie’s previous relationship was an abusive one. And she didn’t get out unscathed. Since her relationship with Richard ended, she has been living in a perpetual state of fear and apprehension, still plagued by the nightmares of that horrendous relationship. She was never an outgoing person to begin with, but after what Richard did to her, she just closed in on herself. The only person who knows who Charlotte really is, is her best friend Molly. But when her new boss, Gabriel Bishop pushes her far enough, she realises that she too has the strength to fight back.

Gabriel Bishop is a successful business man, and he was a successful rugby player. His kind of success doesn’t come without a lot of determination and a spine of steel. The man knows what he wants and how to get it. When he meets a closed off, shy, buttoned up Charlotte, he is tempted to break down her walls and reveal the beautiful woman beneath.

Now Gabriel Bishop is the kind of alpha male that I love. He never pushed too hard, just hard enough. I loved the way he coaxed Charlie out from her shell. It takes her a while, but she comes out on the other side, stronger. Gabriel always knew that Charlie was hiding a painful past, but he never coddled her. He never tried to patronized her. He treated her as his equal, like the strong woman that he knew she was.

Charlie has never been one to pick up a fight, but her boss drives her to almost committing murder. His murder. She just can’t understand why the man keeps pushing all her buttons, and she definitely can’t understand why he is so interested in her. After all T-Rex is a rugby god, a superstar with hoards of female fans, a successful businessman and hot to boot. So what does he see in a mouse like Charlie? The answer was quite simple. Gabriel saw beneath the protective layers of her. He saw the smart, sexy, talented yet vulnerable woman. And all he wanted was to protect her and have her. To call her his.

Unlike Rock Addiction, Rock Hard did not have a sex scene in every second chapter. I enjoyed the way Gabriel peeled off Charlie’s layers and showed us the woman beneath. It’s only when they both had established unwavering trust in each other, that they decided to consummate their relationship. It was a nice change of pace. The minimal sex scenes and abundance of emotions worked very well for me. Another thing I loved in this book was the smartly crafted, funny titles for all the chapter. Those itself were enough to bring a smile to my face.

Rock Hard was the prefect mix of good, strong characters, well-put together story-line and great writing. I look forward to going back to the boys of The Schoolboy Choir.

This review also appears on The Ever Romantic Arts.


Book Review: Midnight’s Kiss (Elder Races #8) by Thea Harrison

3

Midnight's Kiss

In the latest Novel of the Elder Races, two souls who have long buried their passions are about to be consumed…

Ever since their scorching affair ended years ago, Julian, the Nightkind King, and Melisande, daughter of the Light Fae Queen, have tried to put the past behind them—and distance between them. But when a war breaks out between Julian and Justine, a powerful Vampyre of the Nightkind council, they find themselves thrown together under treacherous circumstances…

Kidnapped as leverage against Julian, Melly is convinced that her former lover won’t be rushing to her rescue. But when Julian gives himself up to save her, they both end up Justine’s captives. Armed only with their wits and their anger, Melly and Julian must work together to escape. But will they be able to ignore their complicated history, or will the fiery passion that once burned them blaze again?

It seems that I have arrived at the stage where I am losing my appreciation for Thea Harrison’s writing. Or it just might be my irritation with vampire romances. To get to the point, though nice, Midnight’s Kiss did not impress me much.

Julian and Melly’s story was good. It involved political manoeuvres and suspense build up. Action sequences and group fighting scenes were written nicely and the thankfully enough the plot had more than just romance and sex.

What I had an issue with was that the characters weren’t exactly drawn with clean strokes. For Instance, Melly’s character imbibed different personas; but they didn’t sum up. She has the benefit of being brought up as the heir to her mother but at no point in the story did I see her proving her mettle. She had some backbone, yes but there is no way I would label her as a kick-ass heroine the author wanted to portray her as. How can I call a woman cool who calls her mother “Mommy” ??

Julian’s character though strong and driven lacked a certain amount of foresight that he should have gained during his tenure as a Nightkind King. He is loyal, driven and hot-tempered but his soul yearns for peace but this is a secret yearning of his.  The author makes his self-realization – an important part of the plot in the novel so; it can actually be accepted. On the other hand, I did not see much character growth in Melly.

I even had issues with the characters which were not occupying the centre stage. They were either established in certain relationships that sprang out of nowhere or they came up with some mystery moves that necessitated explanations which were missing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author had been merely testing the waters to check if stories about secondary characters would be found interesting by the readers. Honestly, I find such developments annoying.

Another issue I had with this book was that few characters were portrayed very differently previously. I remember reading The Wicked(Elder Races #5.5). I genuinely liked that book and enjoyed it. I remember Bailey and Julian in that book. And the portrayal of both these characters had made me interested in reading their stories. While Julian’s different persona I can live with, Bailey’s depiction in this novel was not something that could I could align with her previous impression.

Nevertheless, I will credit the author for a few well written scenes. On the whole, while I found the last book just tolerable enough, this book was a definite step-up. The writing and plot-development was good enough to keep me interested in the series still. The good thing is that the next book in the series is about Graydon. I am happy with that. It will be good to read a Wyr romance once again.

For my review of Night’s Honor (Elder Races, #7) click here.