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.

Love Unrehearsed by Tina Reber

Book: Love Unrehearsed

Author: Tina Reber

Series: Love, #2

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Love Unrehearsed picks up a week later from where Love Unscripted left off. Taryn and Ryan are engaged and as in love as ever. Determined to understand Ryan’s world better, Taryn takes some time away from her business to be with him – that means dealing with his crazy schedule, his fans and the biggest challenge: his management.

As a couple, they’re determined not to let their past hurts interfere with their future, nor allow their exes come between them. For Taryn that means learning to trust Ryan will never betray her. They’ve come a long way in the eight months since Ryan ran into her pub looking for shelter from his crazed fans, but just when their future looks assured, figures from Taryn’s past re-emerge and long-buried secrets are uncovered, throwing the lovers into yet more chaos and turbulence. Will love be enough?

Why you should read it: If you enjoyed Love Unscripted, you’ll definitely be a fan of this conclusion to the saga that is Taryn and Ryan. This book is more focused, (I think due in part to a strict editor this time around) and it is action packed. Really, you’d be surprised how much one couple could go through. Ryan really comes into his own in this book – more of an Alpha male, he doesn’t put up with Taryn’s neuroses and he’s very clear on what he wants for the future.

What you might hate: Taryn does her best not to be the neurotic mess she was at the end of book one, but it does creep in a little bit. At times, the entire universe seems to be hell bent on breaking up the duo – but it all serves to tell an excellent love story.

Rating: I give this a solid 4/5 – it’s hot – much steamier than in the first book. Ryan is strong, faithful and not to be messed with. What more can you ask for in a hero? Read it!

The Countess Takes a Lover by Bonnie Dee

Book: The Countess Takes a Lover 

Author: Bonnie Dee

Reviewed by: Judith

Basic Plot: Christopher Whitby is 25 years old and obsessed with becoming a Professor of Botany. His father is understandably concerned about Chris’ lack of interest in anything beyond plants and propositions Meredith, the Countess de Chevalier: if she teaches him the ways of women and courtship, he will back any bill she wants in Parliament. Meredith agrees and approaches Chris under the guise of needing a botanist to revive the flagging gardens of her country estate.  When he accepts and moves to her home in the country, Meredith begins an erotic game of cat and mouse to win over and teach the naive, virginal Chris.  As weeks pass and their relationship deepens, Meredith must make the ultimate decision: keep her lover and lose his father’s support or lose him and also lose her heart in the process.

Why you should read this: Bonnie Dee is an amazing storyteller! The sexy scenes happen a bit more quickly than I would have liked without a lot of tension to make them hotter but her words are like magic. The story flows effortlessly and you truly feel as if Meredith and Chris are real people with personalities, dreams, desires…their dialogue is amazing! And omg, the sex scenes are killer! Bonnie is the queen of drawing out the smut in a way that does not seem tawdry or crass.  Even when characters have dirty mouths it only enhances a scene instead of detracting from it as happens in most books.  Chris as a virgin hero is another big selling point.  He’s naive and eager to please leaving Meredith with all the power.  The role reversal is hot!

What you might hate: uhhh, nothing? Seriously, good read. Perhaps one of the best romances I’ve read in ages. The only negative I took away was that it was too short and the difficulty in their relationship too easily solved. Otherwise, perfection!

Rating: 5/5. Well crafted, wonderfully written, hot sex, and endearing characters. What are you waiting for?!

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

Book: On Dublin Street

Author: Samantha Young

Reviewed by: Judith

Basic Plot: Jocelyn flees to Scotland, her mother’s homeland, after a series of tragic events leaves her devastated. Without family or friends, she builds a new life for herself in her adopted country and manages to eke out a happy existence over four long years. When her best friend relocates to London, Jocelyn moves in with whimsical Ellie and takes on far more than she bargained for. She and Ellie’s half-brother, Braden Carmichael, who is a constant in their apartment, have a sizzling attraction that Jocelyn tries her hardest to ignore.  But when Braden sets his sights on her, the skittish Jocelyn gives in to the passion but only for 3 months.  Braden must prove to her in that time that they are a perfect fit or risk losing the woman he loves.

Why you should read this: The sexual tension between Jocelyn and Braden is amazing! Holy heat! You can feel their attraction to one another and the constant battle they face in trying to fight it.  When they finally give in, their moments together are intense and oh so sexy leaving you feeling hot and bothered; Braden is one hot male lead: he’s sexy, raunchy, a dirty-talker, doesn’t put up with any of Jocelyn’s crap, is successful, and proves that when he’s dating a woman, he will never cheat on her. All in all, he’s the boyfriend we all want but rarely find; Modern day Scotland is a fun setting and one that is often overlooked in romance. Usually we read about it as a historical setting so it is refreshing to see it in the present. Samantha Young doesn’t make the characters talk in dialect either so the setting doesn’t detract from the characters.

What you might hate: Jocelyn has so many issues that she can drive you batty! She is so self-absorbed that she doesn’t see anything beyond herself and acts like a bratty child.  For example, when Ellie confides in her and basically tells her that she needs to lean on her for support, Jocelyn runs in the other direction instead of rising to the occasion. It’s beyond disappointing in a character.  Plus the way she treats Braden is horrible–acting like he’s a cheap one-night stand again and again starts to grate on the nerves, especially when he’s such a sweet and hunky character.

Rating: 4/5. Hot sexual tension, gorgeous leading man, and a lushly written book. Buy it! The sex scenes alone are worth it and you’ll find yourself rooting for this couple even with all of Jocelyn’s neurotic behavior. And did you get a load of that hot cover? Wowza!

Love Left Behind by S.H. Kolee

Book: Love Left Behind

Author: S.H. Kolee

Reviewed by: Judith

Basic Plot: Emma Mills flees small town Maryland after leaving her fiancee and boyfriend of 10 years practically at the alter. An old family friend puts her in touch with Claire, a wannabe actress living in NYC. Emma moves in with Claire and quickly integrates herself into Claire’s circle of friends, the most likable of which is personal trainer, Jackson. He is the hottest guy she’s ever seen and is also trying his luck at acting. They hit it off immediately and their relationship quickly moves into love territory within the first week of dating. As months go by, Jackson and Emma become inseparable. When she unexpectedly loses her job as an executive assistant and he lands the lead role in a movie, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. They pack up their lives and plan on moving to LA together when tragedy strikes Emma’s ex-fiance. When Emma goes to aid him through a trying time, her relationship with Jackson deteriorates and finally they break it off. Cut to five years later. Emma is once again moving to NYC from Maryland and Jackson is now an international Hollywood heartthrob. She never assumes she will see him again but fate has other plans for this couple that should have been.

Why you should read this: Jackson is sex on a stick! He’s the dreamy boyfriend you always wanted, the sexy Hollywood star who couldn’t let the normal girl go. Emma fulfills one of my biggest fantasies: having a celebrity fall in love with your average woman. Emma is curvy and has a boring, basic job so watching Jackson swoon all over her is magic. The story is set in NYC, particularly the East Village which provides a fantastically gritty backdrop for the story. The writing is decent and the sex scenes steamy.

What you might hate: Jackson starts off relatively perfect and devolves into a needy, whiny, spineless, and stalkerish caricature of his former self. He becomes violent at the drop of a hat and uses sex as a weapon against Emma. It’s so not sexy at times. Then there’s Emma. She calls him out on his abusive ways and STILL lets him sleep with her. Geez. You can’t have it both ways, lady! Either he’s an abusive ex or a potential suitor. Choose one and stop whining but don’t say how much you hate him being forceful with you and then go on to say that you like it.  It doesn’t sit well with the readers! The plot is basic, the villain easily predictable, and all their problems could have been solved very easily if they had just talked to each other which they don’t, of course.

Rating: 2/5. The co-dependency and crazy ways of Jackson really grated on my nerves. Read it for the sexy scenes and not for the plot.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Book: Outlander

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Series: Outlander

Reviewed by: Judith

Basic Plot: Due to the outbreak of WWII, Claire and her husband, Frank, have endured a prolonged separation  Claire is an army nurse and Frank, a historian.  They come together in Scotland at the end of the war to have a honeymoon of sorts and after years spent apart, they spend their days learning to love one another again. While exploring the countryside, Claire chances upon a set of ancient celtic standing stones and is teleported back in time two hundred years.  Once there she must use her medical skills and smarts to help her survive.  But there seem to be pitfalls at every turn: British invaders, Scottish highwaymen, and warring Scottish clans. The only constant in all the upheaval around her is Jamie Fraser, a Scotsman with nothing to lose who ultimately protects Claire by offering himself as her husband.  With two men in different centuries both tearing at her heart, Claire must decide which one she truly loves and whether she is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep that love.

Why you should read this: Two words: Jamie Fraser. This Scotsman will grab you from the moment you read him and he won’t let go.  He is steadfast, loving, sensual, sweet, honest, intelligent, a great fighter, ready to believe in Claire, and the best part of all, he’s a virgin! The exotic setting of 18th century Scotland as viewed by a modern woman is a big draw as well. The setting is realistic and learning about the history of the Scottish clans is fascinating. Even the time travel reads as believable.

What you might hate: the 600+ page length; all the raping, pillaging, and random violence really turn the stomach and the end will simply crush you with its emotional and physical extremes; Claire’s lack of emotion was difficult to stomach at times as well. She obviously cares for Jamie but spends a lot of her time mooning over her husband, Frank.

Rating: 4/5. 

If you love a good time travel romance and don’t mind suspending your belief system and spending a lot of time on the 600 pages that are only the start of a 7 book series, get it! Well researched and the love story is to die for! Jamie makes me swoon just thinking about him!

Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

Book: Reflected in You

Author: Sylvia Day

Series: Crossfire Series

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story:

The story picks up from where Bared to You left off. Eva and Gideon are trying to make their tortured and fraught relationship work, despite not knowing how to be in a successful relationship. Their attraction is as strong as ever, but so are their shared insecurities and jealousy.

Eva grows ever more frustrated by Gideon’s reluctance to share his past with her, while he knows many of her intimate secrets.  This unleashes the darker flaws of her personality, putting further pressure on the already fragile relationship. Can their bond withstand the external pressures from all around, not to mention the internal struggles from their troubled pasts?

 Why you should read it:

It’s been eagerly awaited all summer, following the success of Bared and you’ll want to find out what’s next for Gideon and Eva. Gideon is a very sympathetic character in this book – he’s a well-drawn character, sexy as hell and you will want more. The steamy scenes (of which there are many) are hot, hot, hot!

 What you might hate:

The story is told from Eva’s skewed point of view, so it’s impossible to get away from her. She’s immature to the point of idiocy, taking her petty revenges against Gideon whenever and wherever she can. She’s behaves like Serena van der Woodsen and the book at times does read like Gossip Girl (albeit the kinky, late night version). Eva doesn’t grow as a character and I’m afraid I lost patience with her. This couple needs round the clock therapy, not twice a week sessions. And Eva’s mother? Don’t get me started on her; her issues are for a whole other review.

Rating:

I give this book 2/5 because I don’t feel that it lived up to the hype. I really wanted to like it. The back and forth between Gideon and Eva grew tiresome and while the sex was steamy, there really was too much of it. It didn’t move the story along at all. The only time I engaged with the story was during the closing chapters where they were actually talking to each other. Having said that, another great cover though!