Saturday, March 31, 2012

All I Ever Wanted Is A House of My Own: "Biker Babe in Black" by Debra Kayn

With her long hair flying, her leather studded purse swinging, she marched away from him and rode off on a Harley Davidson...and Remy wanted her.Cursed with bad luck, and a stubbornness that gets her nowhere, Margarine Butter wants to shed her biker gypsy lifestyle for a white picket fence and a permanent address. When Remy offers her employment, she gambled with her desire for a new life and her attraction to the millionaire. Could she keep her distance and her identity secret long enough to secure her future?Business conglomerate, Remington Montgomery, couldn't believe the sexy waitress with the long blonde hair turned his money down after he accidentally got her fired from her job. So, when she whacked him with her leather studded purse and rode off on a Harley Davidson, he wanted to learn more about the woman who was not impressed by the size of his wallet. But would the price of loving her be his downfall?

We like to think that being Americans, we don't have to deal with the issue of social "class." But an honest look at the issues that divide citizens of this country along lines of wealth, occupation, and race, and it is evident that social class is a reality. Perhaps not group of individuals comes under suspicion faster than those who live as modern gypsies--the bikers. I know that there are those in my own family who refer to all bikers as "the dirty shirt boys." It has become sort of an in-house family joke, because we know that there are thousands of "bikers" who are well-heeled professionals who have their Harleys and Hondas and Kawasakis, and they don their leathers and half-helmets and take off on road trips. Yet somehow, "polite society" just can't seem to see it that way.

So when Margarine Butter--she prefers to be called "Margie"-- becomes housekeeper for wealthy and affluent, socially prominent and powerful Remington Montgomery, her entrance into polite society as Remy's "date" and sometimes hostess was not only a shock to her but a really big shock to those who were the "regulars" at parties and soirees and such. It also didn't help that the old fiance--one with a really catty way of putting people down and really long claws--made Margie's initial appearances very difficult with her put-downs and her obvious snobbery.

This novel deals very honestly with this issue of what people are in the depths of their own person, their honesty and integrity, their innate goodness, and their equality as human beings that has nothing to do with how much money they earn or have inherited, or what their family of origin may be. Knuckles and Sunflower Butter may not be yours or my idea of ideal parents, but they love each other and they made sure their daughter was loved, educated, and given a wonderful view of the world that was accepting and which saw people who who they really were and not just given value because of their bank accounts or the clothes they wore. Yet Margie is like many of us who allow the outside world to determine how we feel about ourselves. It has been said: "I am not who I think I am. I am not who you think I am. I am who I think you think I am." Thus, Margie almost loses some valuable experiences and people because she gives in to what she thinks others think of her.

This is a beautifully written novel that is entertaining and so well done that I was hooked from the first page. And like the other work from this author I have read and reviewed, I was delighted to have found this story, almost by accident, and found a story that delved deep into some of the insecurities we all face that are based on determining our own worth by what others think or by how we are viewed through their eyes. It's the kind of love story I really enjoy as it not only entertains and satisfies my ever-present desire to read a good story, but it stimulates my thinking and keeps me facing the important issues connected with being human and living in my world. It's a book that is well worth the time and effort to read and one that most lovers of contemporary romance will love. I hope you will check it out. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"A Redheaded Woman Makes a Choo-Choo Jump Its Tracks" , , , "Against The Storm" by Kat Martin

Some women find trouble wherever they go. And some men are their only protection against it. "Against the Storm" is the fourth book in Martin's Raines of Wind Canyon series.

As one who has read and reviewed all the other books in this series, I was delighted to encounter this fourth book in the series and become re-acquainted briefly with some of the characters in the other books as well as meet up with Trace Rawlins, a former Army Ranger who has been close friends with the Raines brothers as well as others who form their tight circle of friendship.

Trace is a man of honor and one who honors his promises and commitments, even when his heart is hurting or he isn't sure he can trust the person he is helping. His encounter with professional photo-artist Maggie O'Donnell is quite accidental but it is pivotal to their future, not only in a client relationship but one that becomes intensely personal soon afterwards. Maggie is being stalked and her stalker is sophisticated and smart, never giving even the smallest clue as to his identity and puzzling even a pro like Trace. Add in the fact that she is a redhead, and Trace feels like he has been gut-punched. You see, Trace loves redheads above all other women even though the gals that have hurt him the worst are redheads, namely his ex-wife. Ex-wife Carly is gorgeous, self-centered, loves herself above all others, spends money like water, is schmoozing Trace while seeing any number of other men just as she did when they were married. And the toughest thing of all is that Maggie has just as many trust issues as Trace, but both know that no matter their past experiences, their attraction won't be denied.

This is a story that is written with the signature complexity of a Kat Martin novel, filled with interesting and colorful characters and multi-layered mystery, heating up the reader's libido with hot loving but worrying those same readers with the on-again-off-again relationship between the main characters. It is a novel that never lags or allows the interest of the reader to pause. From start to finish there is that sense of pressing forward no matter what is happening, moving from crisis to crisis, searching for that sense of happily ever after and causing the reader to wonder not only who the protagonist is but will these lovers find common ground outside the bedroom. The reader is in no doubt that no matter how rocky Trace and Maggie's personal issues may be, he is a consummate professional who will stand by her no matter what. His deep pain never moves him away from his goal of protecting her and finding the guy(s) who are threatening her health, welfare, and personal safety.

This is a really wonderful read and one that I hope you will search out and enjoy. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Marriage Mart, Country Style . . . "Like No Other Lover" by Julie Ann Long

It's the last chance for Cynthia Brightly, the ton's most bewitching belle. Driven out of London by a secret scandal, she must find a grand husband at the Redmonds' house party before word of her downfall spreads all over England. Unfortunately, someone at Pennyroyal Green is already privy to the whispers of broken engagements and dueling lovers: Miles Redmond, renowned explorer and—thanks to his brother's disappearance—heir to the family's enormous fortune.

Miles set his sights on Cynthia once, at a time when the ambitious beauty thought herself too good for a second son. But now he's heir apparent, relishing his control. He strikes a bargain with her: he'll keep Cynthia's steamy secrets and help her find a husband among the guests—in exchange for a single kiss.

What could be the harm in a simple kiss? Cynthia is about to discover that it's enough to unleash fierce passion—and that Miles Redmond is most certainly like no other lover in the world.

It's probably safe to say that prospective spouses are "turned off" more quickly by evidence of money-love or avarice than any other issue. And in London's Marriage Mart usually referred to as "The Season," even with its obvious financial issues with poor aristocrats seeking flush heiresses as wives and vice versa, to speak plainly about one's goals of finding a husband because he is richer than all the others is still not kosher. So it was with our heroine who is single, poor, and hoping for a miracle--a rich and titled husband who will overlook her lack of wealth or social/family connection because of her beauty and personal refinement. Miss Cynthia had it all wrapped up--her earl was " bagged" but she just couldn't refrain from proving what a catch she was by making her suitors jealous, and when all her machinations resulted in a bloody and hurtful duel, the engagement was off and her reputation was in ruins.

Miles had thought her to be more beautiful and some of the exotic flowers, birds, and especially butterflies he had encountered on his travels in the tropics, but when her inner realities revealed themselves, he was well and truly willing to put his infatuation behind him. That is, until she shows up at his family's country house party with the express purpose of taking advantage of this last chance to find a comfortable life for herself. And while Miles Redmond is enough of a pragmatist to understand what she is about, he is determined not to help her--he may not hinder her--but his help comes at a price. What he is unprepared to deal with and is never really successful in doing so is the unwavering attraction he has for her in spite of what he knows about her.

This is a wonderful historical romance novel that reads beautifully, is told with humor and wit, with characters that are absolutely "right on" historically and who are just the kind of people who would have been included in a country houseparty in that time period. I was a bit put off by Miles' easy acceptance of his father's dictate that he engage the interest of one of the single ladies who had been invited for the express purpose of being courted by Miles. Yet Miles also was looking forward to a close and intimate assignation with one of the married ladies attending, knowing full well that she had been wooing him as a man who was known in London as a lover of widows and unhappy, dissatisfied married women in the ton. That he is continually upended by Miss Brightly doesn't set well with him, and I have to own up to liking Cynthia Brightly, a woman who initially comes across as avaricious and greedy, but who in reality is a poor woman who much rely on her own wits to try to find a way to live comfortably for the foreseeable future. I was especially taken with her during those brief times when she would reach into her closet and simply shake her purse, reminding herself that she really was down to her very last shilling. It was the reality of her life and she was a woman who was willing to do whatever it took to not end up with no one who cared and with no place to go.

This novel has been out for several years yet it is fresh and lively and a book that is really fun to read. There were several segments that had me laughing almost without end, the images that came into my mind were hilarious. Miss Brightly is an intelligent woman and some of her encounters with her would-be suitors are witty to the extreme. Yet there is lots of sexual tension in this story and some hot loving from time to time. It is not an overly erotic novel but there is something terribly erotic about characters who engage in non-stop innuendo and whose banter inevitably takes on a sexual overtone. Such is the dialogue in much of this story.

I highly recommend this read--a book that shouldn't be missed by lovers of historical romance fiction. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Letting Go of The Past: "Rawhide Angel" by Sayde Grace

With her father’s gambling debts about to ruin the family ranch, Saige Thomely is determined to do whatever or whomever it takes to cover the debts. Unfortunately for her, one man is a sure bet, the one cowboy she’s tried to ignore for six months. The same cowboy who makes her body and heart flame to life with each look. Saige is prepared to offer herself in exchange for the money to cover the debts, but what she’s not prepared for is losing her damaged heart to another cowboy.

Night after night, for half a year, Chet Haskins has dreamed of having the blonde and sexy as sin Saige Thomely in his bed, writhing under him. At long last his dreams might become reality, only Chet’s heart wants more than just a few nights of steamy sex. But will the ghost of past relationships come between them? Or can Chet show the passionate Saige he’s truly the one to save her ranch and her heart?

The American rodeo scene has been the backdrop for some really great stories and throughout this series of novels some of romance fiction's best have contributed stories that continue to entertain and delight readers. This story is sort of a continuation of a former story and the main characters have popped up in the former story as background characters. Here you have a rodeo champion who has now invested his winnings and become a successful businessman, one who has the funds to help out Saige--a woman who loves rodeo and cowboys and hangs around whenever the rodeo is in town. Her dad's ranch has been struggling because of his gambling problem and Saige has just about lost everything she owns trying to cover her dad's debt. He is once again $60K in the hole and she is on the verge of losing her car, covering only a small portion of the debt. So she is offering the only thing she has left: herself.

Yet at the core of this story are two people whose past keeps on intruding on the possibilities of the future. Chet has not lived like a monk nor has Saige, although it is easy to understand that he has had his pick of buckle bunnies while she has been tied up with her dad's ranch and his addiction. Yet she has wanted him--a cowboy who hasn't appeared to even know she exists and for six months her heart has been sore and lonely. She has no idea that Chet has wanted her just as much but his past--his involvement with her best friend in a one-time threesome--keeps him guarded and reluctant to give her his whole self and his heart.

I am always amazed at how tied up human beings get, how involved and complicated life can be and how people make some amazing decisions about relationships based on some fairly inaccurate information. Yet that's how it seems to be in real life and like all good romance fiction, art imitates life. It's certainly true in this story. Both these people are kind, generous, caring, with real lives and people who are important to them. But when it comes to each other, they seem to lose their bearings. This author has given readers a story that is rooted in reality but is so well written that we can lose ourselves in Chet and Saige's story. It's one of the reasons we love to read and especially love to read love stories. These two certainly have problems in front of them--learning to be honest with one another, learning to trust, getting past all their difficulties in times gone by, and learning to look to one another for their emotional needs. And in this story that is the struggle and crisis that draws us forward from one page to the next.

I hope those of you who like cowboy romance have checked out this "Cowboy Kink" series--some very good stories that will make for some really good reading. This is one of the really good ones. In fact, it was because one of the previous novels that spurred me on (no pun intended) to getting this novel. I'm sure glad I did. I think this is one of the good ones and I hope you will check it out. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We Tied The Knot Some Years Back . . .

It's been years now, and each year that "The Day" comes around, and like so many of us, it causes me to remember those long-ago times, when a somewhat shy and very funny man came into my life and managed to change the direction of my future.

I was studying to be a professional classical vocalist, preparing to study in Europe (which I managed to do eventually) and to get my college degree (which I eventually also did). But on a blind date--we met in the LaSalle Street Rail Station in Chicago in February when he met my train when I was coming back from a weekend with my parents in Iowa--and nothing was ever again the same. And guess

what? Three weeks--yes, three (3) weeks later, we eloped and just a month later he was leaving to travel to Berlin, Germany. You see, he was a Pfc in the United States Army and was being re-assigned. We didn't see each other for six months when I was finally able to travel to Berlin where we lived for nearly 3-1/2 years.

And lest we lose our reputation for doing things quickly and in a big way, we had four (4) kids in five years--three daughters and a son, and our family has blossomed to include six grandkids, three of whom are now grown and living as successful adults.

It's been an interesting journey, and as we are growing older, there are issues that keep on bugging us as with all couples, stuff that just
that just doesn't seem to go away, and yet considering a future without him doesn't even enter into the equation. We certainly know where all the emotional "buttons" are and like all human beings, we push them from time to time. It's what makes the journey interesting. We've had our battles but making up has always been more fun. And the most important thing we have learned is to respect each other, to trust that we will always put one another first, that somehow through all the difficult days there is one person who will still be standing beside me when everyone else has left the fray.

So I feel pretty good about having made it through another year with its ups and down, its joys and difficulties, its worries and happy times. When I look in the mirror and see the ravages that time has wrought, I wonder that he stays with me. But we know that we look at each other with the memories of our youth and we look at each other's heart--the deep connection that really can't be explained with words. It hasn't been a perfect marriage, but it has endured and, I think, is still pretty solid. "Lord, keep us safe and strong and close to one another and to You." Amen.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ten Years Lost: "Cold Creek Reunion" by RaeAnn Thayne

He was the one you called when you needed rescuing… but who was Taft Bowman going to call when he needed help? Because ten years ago Laura Pendleton, the love of his life, had left town without a word, then or since. Now she was back, with a new last name–and two adorable, high-needs little ones in tow. Well, Taft had been stupid enough to let her go once before…he wasn't about to make the same mistake again. He'd never stopped loving her–and one look at those adorable little faces and he knew that he was meant to be with Laura and her kids forever. All he had to do was convince her that this time he was a man she could count on!

I knew when I received this review copy that there was something familiar about the title, and when I was looking for information about the book I realized that I had read an earlier novel in this Cold Creek Cowboys series. This 10th book in the series is a delightful short novel that tells the bittersweet tale of two people who missed their chance as married bliss ten years earlier and the hurts of that break-up appear to still be somewhat unhealed. One would think that as these two characters had moved on in their lives that they could meet again and find a way to put aside the disappointments. But such is not the case. She is now a widow with two children and she has come home to Cold Creek to help her mother with their family inn that is beginning to "sink out of sight." He is not the fire chief of this small Idaho community and is well-established as a bachelor with a reputation for playing hard, a reputation gained in the months and years since the broken engagement.

But all is not as it seems and through a series of unfortunate occurrences and some stealthy matchmaking on the part of family and friends, these two individuals begin the long and rocky road back to one another. As all of us know--many of us from personal experience--old wounds are really sore and our willingness to revisit those bad times can prevent people from moving on. These two characters discover that they haven't moved on as far or as effectively as they thought.

This is a very good piece of writing and the families and other background characters form a lively backdrop to the angst and difficult encounters these erstwhile lovers endure. The two children are delightful--full of fun, getting into trouble by way of their never-ending curiosity and their delight as they discover dogs and horses and lots of other things that are a part of the ranching world. One can't help falling in love with them.

This series and this novel from Harlequin are the books we return to when we want something to read we can trust, knowing that there will be romance, anxiety, despair, family, and some crisis of one sort or another, but in the end there will always be romance. So I recommend this novel as a very nice way to spend some reading time--not a big investment for the wallet, but one that will be fun and will satisfy that inner urge for a good romance. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What's This About A Hush-Hush Romance? "Margot's Lawman" by Debra y

It's hard to keep a secret in the small town of Pike, Montana, but veterinarian Margot McDougal and sheriff Roy Lee Hanson managed to keep their relationship on the sly for months. Margot cares for Roy Lee, but the last thing she needs is to worry about local gossip while she's busy running her clinic and dealing with the loss of her beloved father.

Roy Lee can't wait to tell the world that he loves Margot. He respected her decision to keep their affair quiet?until now. It's time for everyone to know Margot is his gal...especially Ryan Martin, her new assistant. He's formed an attachment to Margot and Roy Lee is sure the city boy's unexplained appearance in Pike means he's up to no good.

Margot just wants to help Ryan fit in, and Roy Lee's jealousy soon drives a wedge between them. A wedge that only increases when Margot is roped into Ryan's secret, too.

The continuing story of the sisters of the McDougal Ranch has not yet disappointed as I have now come to Book Three and the sister who is not the town veterinarian and a woman as deeply affected by her father's untimely death from ALS. The collective grieving that shows up in these first three stories testifies to the close relationship all the daughters had with their dad, admittedly not perfect, by any means, but deeply connected and all of them much loved by their dad. Now this strong and dominant man is absent from their lives, and each woman must come to some kind of settlement in her emotions as the time for grieving passes.

It was one thing for the sheriff to be willing to keep his relationship with the good doctor under wraps while Margot was working through the fall-out emotionally and otherwise from her dad's dying. Now she has hired another young veterinarian to assist her with a growing practice so that she can have some time off and a bit of relief from the almost constant drain of running a vet clinic and ranch practice. What's a guy to think when it looks like his best and only girl is getting sidetracked by a new guy in town and one who works closely with her every day? So things heat up and the road to true love certainly doesn't run smoothly for these two.

I think an issue that continually seems to be present in all romance fiction is the fact that no matter how strong a person may be emotionally and psychologically, when the emotions get all tangled up there is difficulty and even strong, mature, well-balanced people seem to struggle with a sort of "should I or shouldn't I" kind of crisis. There's no denying that both Margot and Sheriff Lee are grown-ups who know their own minds in many aspects of their personal and professional lives, but the future that may lie before them collectively is troublesome for reasons that are hard to face or deal with.

This author has given us another in this series of novels that points up the importance of family loyalty and connection in times of deep loss, a loss that can upend carefully planned lives and change perspective for people who otherwise are very goal-oriented. Nothing has changed for Roy: he loves Margot and he wants everyone to know that. Such is not the case with the good doctor and Roy has acquiesed to her because of the recent loss in their family. The interaction of the sisters within the family circle is interesting in and of itself as it demonstrates the differences each has in dealing with a future without their father. Each additional novel also is a continuing story of the characters who were featured in previous stories and how their lives continue to change because of the relationshipsthat have embraced their lives.

I have enjoyed this series so far and this new addition to the series continues what I believe is a testimony to this author's ability to tell a very good story. Even though previous characters are now relegated to "background" status, they are still able to hold their own and add color and dimension to each new story. I also think this author has done a very good job of developing the personalities of the sisters so that they each shine in their own right. That's not always easy to do.

It's a good read, a very well-written romance novel, and one that will continue to charm fans of this author and good, family-oriented series. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

This novel was released in February, 2012, by Carina Press.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Always the Best-Man and Never the Groom: The Bro-Magnet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Women have been known to lament, "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." For Johnny Smith, the problem is, "Always a Best Man, never a groom." At age 33, housepainter Johnny has been Best Man eight times. The ultimate man's man, Johnny loves the Mets, the Jets, his weekly poker game, and the hula girl lamp that hangs over his basement pool table. Johnny has the instant affection of nearly every man he meets, but one thing he doesn't have is a woman to share his life with, and he wants that desperately. When Johnny meets District Attorney Helen Troy, he decides to renounce his bro-magnet ways in order to impress her. With the aid and advice of his friends and family, soon he's transforming his wardrobe, buying throw pillows, ditching the hula girl lamp, getting a cat and even changing his name to the more mature-sounding John. And through it all, he's pretending to have no interest in sports, which Helen claims to abhor. As things heat up with Helen, the questions arise: Will Johnny finally get the girl? And, if he's successful in that pursuit, who will he be now that he's no longer really himself? THE BRO-MAGNET is a rollicking comedic novel about what one man is willing to give up for the sake of love.

It's hard to believe that there is a man "out there" who has the kinds of problems that Johnny Smith has--a good-looking guy fighting off the gals. Instead, Johnny is the pal that every man longs for and will do almost anything to keep. It's not a gay thing by any means. Just that Johnny is one of those guys that really understands men and projects that in such a way that guys feel connected to him and want to be his friend. He really is the quintessential man--sports, poker, hanging out for no reasons, a college graduate that is part-owner of a "blue collar" business, and so forth. Yet the one thing that Johnny wants more than anything in the world is the love of a good woman and all that goes along with that relationship. He hasn't been a total wipe-out with women. He gets lucky every once in a while. But so far, there has been no long-term relationship that smells of and feels like "forever."

This is one of the funniest books I have read in a very long time. How Johnny manages his friendships, how he relates to his long-time friends, the advice he seeks from his best friend Sam (who is a lesbian and doesn't claim to have a clue about what women would find attractive about a man), and the disdain Johnny receives from the woman who was, for all his growing-up years, the person who made his elementary age and teenage heart go "pitter pat." The dialogue is a hoot and most of all, as it is a story told in the first person, knowing what is going through Johnny's head keeps the reader chuckling often if not outright laughing. Yet under all the humor is the story of people who really desire genuine relationship and who are willing to do almost anything to attract a person who can love them forever, even if that means being someone other than who they are. This is the case with both Johnny and Helen and leads to some really humorous situations and conversations. How it all gets resolved is also comedic and readers are in for a comic treat.

I think it is important to remember that we often find humor in situations and people that come very close to our own experience. Watching stand-up comedy on the Comedy Channel is a case in point. The jokes and one liners that get the biggest laughs are the ones that are drawn from human experiences that are common to most people. That's probably why this book hits fairly close to home. I found myself thinking back to my early years of dating, wondering if I really did go to these lengths to be acceptable to the guys I was hoping to attract. I think it is a common theme in many romance novels, but here it is really the core issue. The story highlights the sort of sad fact that two very intelligent people just can't seem to get it together sufficiently to feel confident and attractive to the opposite sex and still be themselves. The author has told the story with a deft touch and the dialogue flows beautifully--never ponderous or overloaded with Johnny's internal monologue. There's almost no overt sex here but the tension is there as well as a strong sense of what's going on with Johnny and Helen's feelings.

I think you'll find this a compelling and engaging novel, one that will be hard to put down and which will be the kind of story where most of us can see ourselves, at least in varying degrees. I think all adults go through the issues of insecurity while dating, and this story will probably remind all of us about those days. In Johnny and Helen's case, those insecurities are still plaguing them long after they should have been put to rest. A terrific read and one I can almost guarantee you will enjoy. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

This Novel was released in December, 2011, by TKA Distribution.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Is She A Fallen Woman Or Not? "In The Flesh" by Portia Da Costa


Posing nude to appease her now ex-fiancĂ© perhaps wasn’t the most prudent idea Beatrice Weatherly has ever had. With the photographs scrutinized up and down the ton and her brother running them into debt, Beatrice’s hopes of making a respectable marriage are dashed.

After one glance at Beatrice’s infamous racy cabinet cards, wealthy, powerful Edward Ellsworth Richie is soon obsessed with Beatrice’s voluptuous figure. His indecent proposal—one month of hedonistic servitude in exchange for enough money to pay her brother’s debts—is one she can hardly refuse.

Determined not to let the rogue best her, Beatrice sets out for the infamous House of Madame Chamfleur to learn how to appease Edward’s well-known appetite. Soon the couple is playing out exquisite fantasies…and feeling emotion that goes deeper than flesh. But Edward harbors a shocking secret, and Beatrice must decide if she’s prepared to give up everything for a man who can offer her nothing, but who means everything.

I don't review historicals as often as I once did nor do I read them as much right now as I did in previous years. I have been reading contemporary and paranormal romances more in the last few months, but one in a while I return to the kind of romance fiction that I began with many years ago when I discovered Barbara Cartland and Phillipa Gregory. This work is far more erotic than those early novels mainly because the acceptance of more overt erotic content is acceptable and tolerated at a far greater level than in past times. But there is no getting around the fact that overt or not, lots of hanky panky went on in Regency England and whether the details are trotted out for readers is beside the point. We all know its there just as it has existed wherever men and women have lived side by side. Yet the moral stricture of Regency England were about as hypocritical as any in history. It was considered immoral for a woman to show her ankles unclothed but it was OK for her bodice to reveal just about everything below her collar bone except her nipples. Go figure . . . And here we have a heroine who posed for her would-be lover/fiance, believing he could be trusted to care for her in a society where her reputation was incredibly fragile, only to find out that he used her and her photographs for his own gain.

This short novel has lots of twists and turns in a relatively small amount of space but tells a compelling story of a woman who makes choices for everyone's good but her own. Ultimately her courage and her determination to be her own person rises to the fore and she takes her future--what little she has left--and seeks her own will and pleasure knowing full well that she has nothing left but her ability to rescue her brother. There is some suspense and a bit of mystery here but that just makes the story better. I had not previously encountered this author but I enjoyed the story and appreciated the author's writing style and obvious writing ability in developing characters and storyline that were balanced and interesting. The heroine was so very real, coming across as a woman who is facing the loss of just about everything and yet has presence of mind when making decisions about herself. And the hero, a man of the world as they were then called, is still a man of sensitivity and class. He is indeed a man of his times and would probably be the same in our contemporary times, but he evidenced a serious connection and affection for our heroine that speaks well of him.

This was a truly enjoyable book and one I was delighted to read. I hope you will look into reading it and enjoy as I did. I give it a rating of 3.75 out of 5.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Beauty, The Agent, and the Columnist: "Between the Covers" by Eve Adams

When the SBI contacts her to change the image of the very man whose image she can't forget, Cynthia can't refuse. If she succeeds, not only will she be back in Mac's life, she'll have a permanent job representing the SBI.

Known more for his suspensions than commendations, Mac likes his image just fine and doesn't need a sexy PR Specialist in his life, especially one who still has the power to bring him to his knees. Kevin hates Mac for stealing Cynthia from him back in college.

The reporter has spent his career eagerly reporting on anything that will put the agent in a less than flattering light as payback. When the trio of frenemies turned unlikely lovers take on the ringleader of illegal sex raves plaguing Seattle, wrong assumptions have deadly consequences. The three discover just how dangerous it is working BETWEEN (the) COVERS.

This is the second novel in the Covert Lovers series that has featured an agent of the State Bureau of Investigation in Seattle, Washington, and which brings some interesting characters together. All the characters featured in this novel began as friends in college seven years earlier with both Mac McLane and Kevin Denary being roommates who fell in love with the same woman. Now she is once again in Mac's life as a publicity representative hired by the SBI to "clean up" his image. But he likes his bad boy, Dirty Harry image and he is once again overwhelmed by Cynthia's presence, her sex appeal that has continued to drive him crazy, even in his fantasies and wet dreams, and now in person. Add in the fact that his former roommate and long time newspaper publicity adversary has continued to be a part of Cynthia's life in the seven years since Mac severed his relationship with Cynthia, and you have the foundation of a lot of adversarial encounters as well as some erotic episodes that light up the night.

It has often been said that love and hate are two sides of the same coin, and the friendship between these two men, a friendship that was closer than brotherhood, has become a hate relationship that has grown out of the pain both share because they want Cynthia and believe each man has betrayed the other. Kevin wants to marry her but Cynthia has refused, knowing honestly that her heart also belongs to Mac. Mac severed their love affair and nearly destroyed Cynthia because he was so overwhelmed with his love for her that he was fearful that he would become weak and ineffective at his career. (Why do men seem to equate a deep emotion with weakness?) Yet all three are brought back into each other's lives because of a menace in the person of the Sweetheart of Seattle, a woman who seeks to gain power through distribution of Lust, a drug that is 50 times stronger than Ecstacy and laced with LSD and other substances that literally disables the person ingesting the substance. Mac is determined to restore his career by capturing this woman and dismantling her ring. Kevin wants this "story of a lifetime" and Cynthia is frightened for both her men. It is a story that has, at its core, the proposition that one woman like Cynthia whose love for both men has endured, can be the catalyst that brings even avowed enemies together, especially when they lay to rest that which is causing their upset with one another.

There's lots of hot loving here in the form of a menage a trois, but there is suspense, on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of suspense and under cover action, and a bit of a look into the underground world of Rave and illegal drug distribution. It is an entertaining read and as a short novel won't take up much time. Having been published in mid-2010 it has been around for awhile, but Eve Adams has a respectable portfolio of work and has been busy with other projects in the meantime. I have read both books in this series and while the first book was more about the underworld of illegal sex clubs, this book deals a good bit less with that world and with the universe of the drug scene. I give it a rating of 3.5 out of 5.