Category: 3/5 Stars

Along Came Trouble by Ruthie Knox

Along Came TroubleBook: Along Came Trouble

Author: Ruthie Knox

Series: Camelot series #2

Review by: Onnica

Basic Story: Ellen Callahan has her hands full as a single mother, full-time lawyer and twin sister to über-famous singer Jamie Callahan. She’s busy keeping all the plates spinning and dealing with her alcoholic ex-husband, who’s slowly trying to worm his way back into her life. Her brother’s fame has brought unwanted attention to her door and paparazzi can be found on her lawn on a regular basis, due to the fact that her pregnant neighbour Carly has just split up with her brother.

In a bid to protect his sister and Carly’s privacy, Jamie hires the services of Caleb Clark. Security specialist an ex-military man, Caleb is sexy, self-assured and interested in Ellen. She’s clearly attracted to him but she’s more concerned about his plans for her property. Sure he’s handsome, has a body that won’t quit and looks at her as if she were dessert, but she’s not going to let any man boss her around and tell her what to do. So begins the battle of wits between Ellen and Caleb. Caleb’s determined to do his job but Ellen is not prepared to concede any ground. The pair open negotiations on the required security measures but also on becoming friends-with-benefits, but soon find that in matters of the heart, the lines soon become blurred.

Why you should read this: Caleb Clark is THE ideal hero. He fought for his country, he’ll fight for Ellen and he loves his family. He’s not a pushover; he’s sexy as hell and has a heart of gold. He gets things done and doesn’t take any prisoners. There are some really adorable scenes between the sparring pair (think Maddie and David from Moonlighting) and they really sizzle.

What you might hate: I liked Ellen. Then I hated Ellen. Then I really hated Ellen. Finally, I liked her again, despite wanting to slap her upside the head on more than one occasion. I love a strong heroine, but one who is so clueless about her own feelings, made me want to scream at times. It did create great tension however, and when the opportunity to redeem herself came up, she did not disappoint. So I guess I can forgive her for her stupidity and stubbornness.

Rating: 3/5 the women in this book and independent, which is great, but they are serious ball-breakers to the men that love them. It doesn’t seem to do them any harm in the end, but I defy you not to tear your hair out at key points of the book. This was a fun and sexy read.

True Love Story by Willow Aster

TrueLoveStoryBook: True Love Story

Author: Willow Aster

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic story: Sparrow Fisher is a good girl – she’s the apple of her parents’ eye. The Pastor and his wife want her to have the life they’ve had – married at nineteen to a pre-approved, suitable boyfriend. The only problem is that despite her polite demeanour, Sparrow is not going to have her life planned out for her. She likes her boyfriend Michael very much, but when he proposes, her fight or flight instincts kick in. She continues with her plans to attend school in New York with her best friend Tessa. Before her departure she meets Ian Sterling, a well-known and respected musician whom she has admired for years. He is visibly bowled over by her on their first meeting and so begins a love/hate story that spans five years. They fall for each other rapidly, only it becomes clear than Ian has secrets and seems unable to love Sparrow the way she loves him. After secrets emerge and betrayals are uncovered, Sparrow has to decide whether true love is enough to fix a shattered heart.

Why you should read it: This is a roller coaster of a story. It spans five years of a relationship, told in flashback. The suspense at times killed me; (which is why I demolished the story in less than 24 hours) the passion between Sparrow and Ian is dramatic, touching, sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing. There are some sexy times too which are hot but not over the top. I felt it was pitched perfectly. This is also a stand-alone book – so you get closure and an enormous sense of well-being at the end of the story.

What you might hate: Ian does go a little bit mad after losing the girl – you’ll see what I mean, and at times it does feel a little bit melodramatic. However, the likeability of the characters and the fact that you’ll be rooting for both of them kept me engaged to the very end of the story. I know a lot of you out there hate cheating too, so it will be interesting to see what you all think.

Rating: 3/5 – an impressive debut from Willow Aster. I really enjoyed her narrative style and her gentle humour. I’ll happily read more of her books in the future if she continues to write heroines like Sparrow and heroes like Ian. What can I say, I can never resist a musician!

Devoured by Emily Snow

Book: Devoured

Series: (Devoured)

Author: Emily Snow

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Sienna Jensen is trying to make her way in LA as a wardrobe assistant on a television show. She has no plans to return to her Nashville hometown, which holds many unhappy memories for her. However, one day she receives a call from her brother Seth, who’d only be calling her if something were very wrong.
She learns that her grandmother is about to lose her home and has only a couple of weeks to move out, as the property has been bought by someone else. She returns at once to Nashville, determined to bring her grandmother back to LA with her. She’s always been there for Sienna and is the only person who made her childhood bearable.
Much to Sienna’s dismay, the new owner of her grandmother’s house is not a stranger, but an old flame and former client. Musician Lucas Wolfe recognises her at once and Sienna is plunged into despair. Buried feelings resurface and panic strike her heart as she remembers how he broke her heart two years ago.
Lucas, intrigued and determined to get Sienna back in his life, makes her an offer. Ten days working for him at his beck and call and he’ll hand over the deeds to the house. No strings attached. What could possibly go wrong?

Why you should read it: Lucas Wolfe starts out as a complete douche bag; he’s arrogant, selfish and determined to bring Sienna under his control. He’s the complete alpha package, but the dynamic between the pair is very well-written. Sienna lets a lot of people walk all over her, but she stands up to Lucas. This creates a lot of sexy tension that fans of the dominant/submissive genre will enjoy.
Believe me, I’ve read A LOT of books in this vain and there aren’t any of the cringe-making clichés present in so many other books.

What you might hate: If you’re totally over the whole sexy, tattooed rock star bdsm-lite vibe, then this book (part one of a two-part series) may not be for you. However, I think for such a popular theme, the author manages to bring something fresh to it.

Rating: 3/5 I read this story in one sitting so it’s fair to say that I found it engaging and hot! Sienna is a likeable character, trying to find her place in the world. Lucas has depths beneath his tough façade and is a mass of contradictions. I’m looking forward to book two, Consumed in January 2013.

Taken by Kelli Maine

TakenBook: Taken

Series: Give and Take

Author: Kelli Maine

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Rachael DeSalvo has let her dream job and her bright future go – all because of a sense of duty towards her controlling mother. One night after her roommate ditches her at a club, she meets a handsome stranger. He offers her a drink and then blackout.
She wakes up tied to a bed and has no recollection of how she got there. Her captor – Merrick Rocha, billionaire tycoon soon explains why she’s there. Having turned down the job he offered her to manage the island development and seeing for himself how much it meant to her, Merrick is convinced that she needs to be there, whether she agrees or not. Shocked and furious at being drugged and kidnapped, Rachael will do whatever she can to escape. However, that’s easier said than done on an island only accessible via helicopter when no-one knows you’re missing.
Gradually, the charismatic billionaire reveals facets of his troubled character and tries to explain his ill-thought out plans to her. Their attraction to one another confuses Rachael and she’s eager to distance herself from Merrick. Attraction is one thing, but forgiving him for taking away her free will and putting her in this situation is another.

Why you should read it: The book is written in quite an original style – from Rachael’s point of view, as if she’s writing to Merrick. For me, this kept the story (however you feel about it) interesting. She observes the world around her and builds up a picture of her captor-turned-potential lover. Her description of Merrick, paired with her conflicting feelings heightens the tension between them and moves the story along. The sexual situations were very hot – and her reluctance to give herself to him really does keep that tension going.

What you might hate: Ok, so how did you meet your other half? I’m guessing he didn’t roofie your drink at a club and ‘whisk’ you away to a secluded island so that you could project manage a redevelopment? The taking advantage of Rachael may completely alienate readers – and I totally understand why that might be the case. I didn’t read this book immediately for that very reason. The premise is pretty messed up and Stockholm syndrome may be going through your mind; but somehow, the author succeeds in keeping the story on an even keel. Rachael’s no fool and Merrick’s no monster. You may also be over stories about poor post-graduates being picked up by rich billionaires…

Rating: I’m going to give this 3/5 – I found the story engaging and Rachael was a good heroine. I’m still wondering why I liked it so much, as it’s a pretty awful way to start a romance, but I wanted to stick with it and I’m glad I did. Do look out for the follow-up novella No Take-Backs, too.

In Flight by R.K. Lilley

In FlightBook: In Flight

Author: R.K. Lilley

Series: Up in the Air

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Flight attendant Bianca Karlsson’s simple life is turned upside down at 10,000 ft while serving customers in the first-class cabin. The moment her eyes lock onto those of James Cavendish, twenty-something billionaire, her self-assured, capable manner abandons her. There’s something about him she can’t quite fathom. With just one look, she knows he wants her, and she suspects that he won’t be taking ‘no’ for an answer any time soon.

There’s only one problem: Bianca doesn’t date. She has long since given up on letting anyone into her life, let alone her heart. Her one confidante is her best friend Stephan. Having known each other since the age of fourteen, they are everything to each other and both share a troubled past that binds them forever.

Little by little, Bianca is drawn in by James’s kindness, his demanding nature and his insatiable need for her. She is wary of him and his contradictions, but his determination slowly breaks down her barriers and she slowly contemplates the possibility of pursuing more with James. But things are never what they seem…

Why you should read this: We all seem to be enjoying the whole alpha male vibe at the moment – Fifty Shades has a lot to answer for. When I picked up this book I initially thought this was a FsoG/Bared to You knock off. That’s unfair – it’s actually very well written and builds suspense, sex (LOADS of it) and I actually really liked the heroine. She isn’t whiney; she doesn’t sit around being a victim and feeling sorry for herself. James is a complete alpha who doesn’t become a complete asshat when his feelings grow for Bianca.

What you might hate: If you’re tired of the BDSM-lite world of Fifty Shades, Bared to You and the Fade series, then you may hesitate with this book. There are the inevitable parallels I could draw with them – the need for safe words, the playroom and the vast wealth of the hero (clearly, poor men can’t afford to indulge in ropes and swings).

Rating: I’m giving this a 3/5 stars – which surprises me as when I first started reading the book, I thought it was derivative. The book has deeper issues and I kept wanting to read to find out their secrets – I’m about to buy the next book Mile High, just to get closure. Read it – Bianca’s a great heroine and the backdrop is first-class travel – what’s not to like about that?

All In by Raine Miller

All InBook: All In

Series: (The Blackstone Affair, part 2)

Author: Raine Miller

Review by: Onnica

Basic Story: All In picks up immediately where Naked left off. A distraught Ethan Blackstone has just watched the love of his life walk out and he is powerless to stop her. Desperate not to crowd her, he formulates a plan to win her back. He resolves to tell her the full extent of what he knows about her past; no matter how painful that may end up being for them both.

When Brynne’s safety is threatened, Ethan finally has the chance to prove his feelings go way beyond doing her father a favour. He is a transformed man, eager to show her how much he loves her, but do Brynne’s feelings run as deep? Being in a relationship is new territory for Ethan and he soon finds that saying I love you is just the beginning. Soon he is dealing with potential rivals for Brynne’s affections – jealousy and insecurity rearing their heads – leaving the normally controlled, calculating Ethan Blackstone totally out of his depth.

Why you should read this: I normally loathe making comparisons between books, but if you enjoyed Fifty Shades and Sylvia Day’s Bared to You series, then this is the book for you. The elements are there: the dominant male bachelor, captivated by the either virginal/damaged younger woman. You know the format, you know how it’ll end up too but the journey is the fun part. The author also hasn’t skimped on the sexy bits – which are hot, don’t get me wrong, but don’t always move the story along. There are also some nice scenes where Ethan’s getting to grips with the pitfalls of a new relationship and the inner workings of a woman.

What you might hate: Unlike FSoG and the Bared/Reflected/Entwined series, Ethan is dare I say a bit girly? He’s constantly thinking about ‘his girl’ and how no-one better be looking at her and then he’s analysing her text messages and their meaning – we’ve all been there, right? But honestly, I like my alpha males a bit less navel-gazing – and a lot more well, dominant! Just saying!

Also the language – being English, I have to say that some of the English slang was a bit unfortunate – shagging really IS more vulgar than I think some people realise (I blame Austin Powers) and calling lady parts ‘fanny’ – well, people over the age of 14 don’t really do that! It just seemed a bit clunky paired with the more US ‘voice’ of the book.

Rating: difficult – as in some ways, you’ve read this story before in many different guises, but then again there were bits that made me chuckle and fancy Ethan to bits. As an incurable romantic, I do find myself rooting for Ethan and Brynne, despite everything. So for that, I give it 3/5.

Naked by Raine Miller

NakedBook: Naked

Series: (The Blackstone Affair, part 1)

Author: Raine Miller

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: When Ethan Blackstone, Head of Security receives an e-mail from Tom Bennett, asking him to look after his daughter, he has no idea his life is about to change beyond all recognition. He’s busy planning security in London for the Olympics and has no time to grant a personal favour, no matter how much he likes his friend. Then he sees her picture and everything changes.

Brynne Bennett, young, beautiful and talented has moved to London to escape past trauma. As well as her studies in conserving masterpieces, she poses as a nude model. The night she meets Ethan Blackstone at an art show, she has no reason to think it more than a chance encounter. However, Ethan has bought an intimate picture of her in the gallery and is determined to have the photograph’s subject in his bed as soon as possible.

After that night Ethan leads a charm offensive, leaving Brynne in no doubt of his intentions. His natural dominance shines through and it’s clear that he is used to getting his own way. A passionate liaison quickly develops into the beginnings of a relationship, but can past secrets buried? Will a fledging love affair be enough to erase the scars of the past?

Why you should read this: There’s a strong alpha male in Ethan Blackstone. Hot – check. Confident – check. Wealthy – check. Wounded – check. The sex is explosive – he likes to talk dirty – a lot! It’s a novella, so it’s a quick read you can get through on a quiet rainy afternoon. It’s also a trilogy – which seems to be so popular now. Look out for All In and Eyes Wide Open, which will be out in the near future.

What you might hate: This book has a very similar outline to many other books on the market at the moment – the setting may be different, but you know what you’re in for.

Rating: I’m a sucker for the thrill of the chase – the point in a book before the couple gets together, where the alpha is being a bit stalkerish, but it’s ok because it’s in a book? So for that I’ll give it 3/5 – because despite their obvious issues, I do genuinely like these characters.

The Proposition by Katie Ashley

The PropositionBook: The Proposition

Author: Katie Ashley

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic story: Emma Harrison is turning thirty and her need for a baby is intensifying. The only problem is she’s single and her best friend Connor has backed out of his offer to become her sperm donor. She’s lived through the loss of her parents and fiancé but she believes a baby will complete her.

Enter Aidan Fitzgerald. He’s been determined to score with Emma ever since she turned him down at the office Christmas party. He’s known as a player but he’s prepared to make a deal with Emma. He’ll happily father her child on one condition: they conceive it the old-fashioned way, for as long as it takes. He has no interest in being involved otherwise so it’s a win-win situation.

Emma agrees to Aidan’s terms and before long, they’re on the baby-making trail. However, Emma finds that there’s more to Aidan than his bad reputation; his kindness and generosity have her re-thinking her initial assessment of him. Before long Emma is contemplating a future with him – but how can it work with a man who doesn’t want a family or ties of any description? Will Aidan be able to deal with his past demons and give her what she deserves?

Why you should read this: I was initially sceptical about this plot during the early chapters – a man who volunteers to get his colleague pregnant just to make her happy and so he can finally claim her as a conquest? Hmm, doubtful. However, as the book developed, the dynamic between the pair is believable. The love scenes are super steamy and very well-written. Aidan is basically a sex-god in a suit.

What you might hate: As I mentioned earlier, I really had to suspend my belief at the beginning of the book. I wasn’t sold on the premise of the story, but I was won around as the characters are well-developed and I engaged with them. I heard from the author that Book Two The Proposal will be out in January 2013, so there’s no closure for Emma and Aidan just yet unfortunately!

Rating: 3/5 – a good, fun read with likeable engaging characters. I was pleasantly surprised.

Seduction and Snacks

Book: Seduction and Snacks

Author: Tara Sivec

Series: Chocolate Lovers

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic story: Claire always wanted to do something with her life and get out of small town Butler. For her that meant finishing college. That was the plan anyway – until that night she met a boy at a frat party.

Following their one and only night together, she soon has to re-adjust her life plan as she’s pregnant. Fast-forward a few years and Claire is looking after her 4 year old son Gavin, while working at the neighbourhood bar. She still thinks of the boy she snuck out on in the middle of the night. The boy whose name she doesn’t even know.

Carter gets a work transfer back to Butler following the end of his relationship. He can’t quite forget the girl from that night years ago; who smelt like chocolate and shared his love of the movie Heathers. When their paths finally do cross, Claire is forced to face up to telling Carter that she is that girl and that he is a father. Can they do things right the second time around?

Why you should read it:

It may not sound like it from the synopsis, but this book is actually a romantic comedy in book form. The plot runs a mile a minute and there are jokes and embarrassing situations throughout. Gavin, the four year old is potty-mouthed (foul-mouthed children are funny on paper only!) and in my opinion is one of the best characters.

What you may hate:

If you don’t enjoy cursing in books, then this book is definitely not for you! I have nothing against bad language, but the book is littered with  f-bombs; so much so that I wondered whether the characters had Tourettes – it was a little much.

I found the plot enjoyable, but the pace I mentioned earlier is a little frenetic, making me feel that the author was trying a little too hard to be funny all the time. The story doesn’t take a breath and for that, I wasn’t always able to relate to the characters or engage with the plot.

Rating:

I give this book a solid 3/5. It’s fun, silly and very crass but if that doesn’t put you off then look out for the sequel, Futures and Frosting – what happens after the happily ever after.