Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Duke of Shadows by Meredith DuranBook: Duke of Shadows

Author: Meredith Duran

Basic story: Emmaline travels to British occupied India to be reunited with her army captain fiance, man she cares little about. When rebellion hits close to home and she is forced to flee, she finds help in British lord and half Indian military man, Julian Sinclair. The two are separated during the insurrection and never find one another again. Years pass and when Julian discovers a budding artist who paints very personal scenes of the horror of Indian rebellion, he knows he has found Emmaline again and begins his own battle to win her heart.

Why You Should Read It: Meredith Duran is a superlative storyteller–her writing is lyrical, well paced, and glorious; the setting of British occupied India and scenes of rebellion during that time are little used in romance novels and make for some extremely exciting action and interesting scenes;  Julian is HOT–no, really. I can tell you don’t believe me. He is so honest to goodness hot that I can’t stand it. A British lord who’s exotic due to his Indian heritage and hates the occupation of India but also understands the mores of British society? Umm, yes please! I’ll have one of those; really really steamy sex scenes.

What You Might Hate: There’s nothing light about this book so anyone wanting a quick, unabsorbing read won’t find it here; graphic violence; historical fiction interspersed with the love story.

Our rating: 5/5 stars. If I could give it more, I would. It’s very rare for a romance novel to resonate so well with me. Duran is a fabulous writer who writes convincing and compelling characters and hot hot sex scenes at the same time.

Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

Book: Knight in Shining Armor

Author: Jude Deveraux

Basic story: Dougless Montgomery has been unceremoniously left behind by her loser boyfriend without any money during a sight seeing tour through an English church. When she starts crying, an honest to goodness Knight named Nicholas Stafford appears before her and while he’s helpless in modern day England, he still manages to aid her in getting her life back on track. After a brief but heavenly time together, he disappears returning to his own life in the 17th century. Desperate to have him back, Dougless does everything in her power to reach him through time.

Why You Should Read It: Nicholas is sex on a stick! He’s arrogant, dreamy, thoughtful, sweet, has an English accent, is rich, and so overall swoonworthy I dare you to say no to him even when he’s sporting a suit of armor in 20th century England and looking like some loony escaped from the local Renaissance faire; the writing is superb and the story is effortlessly lyrical; there’s plenty of plot twists to keep you guessing at the running mystery of who wanted Nicholas killed in his own time.

What You Might Hate: Time travel–some people like it, you might hate it (but it’s done very convincingly IMO); Nicholas is an ass through half of the book and that brand of macho male hero doesn’t appeal to everyone; at the risk of not spoiling anything: the outcome between Nicholas and Dougless isn’t what you will hope it will be and it’s a bit unsatisfactory.

Our rating: 5/5 stars. I read this when I was 17 and it resonated with me throughout 10 years. When I read it again two years ago, I kept thinking, “This can’t be as good as I remember!” But it was, dear reader, it was.

Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

Book: Lover Eternal

Author: J.R. Ward

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 2

Basic story: While on the surface Rhage might seem like the beautiful, Ken-doll member of the BDB, in reality he has a serious demon tagging along. Orphan John Matthew has called in to the local help hotline enough to know that Mary won’t judge him. One trip to Mary’s house and her friend Bella realizes that J-M is not only a vampire but potentially a Warrior. When the Mary, J-M, Bella trio visits the BDB compound not only does Rhage encounter civilian Mary (the only person who can literally soothe his savage beast) but Bella meets totally messed up (in the hottest way) Zsadist.

Why You Should Read It: Because in my opinion it’s the best of the BDB books. I love Rhage and Mary so much that even though I’ve given up on the series (I know, I’m awful) I still harass everyone who reads them saying “I don’t care what you’re saying! What are Rhage and Mary up to?!?” The support and love Rhage has for Mary makes me cry every single time. Mary’s acceptance of Rhage’s demon is so hot (chains!) while still understanding the torment he experiences on a daily basis. Oh and aside from all the Rhage/Mary love it also sets up my second favorite BDB book: Zsadist and Bella. SWOON!

What You Might Hate: Just like Judith mentioned I really don’t give a crap about the Lessers. But the awesome thing about this book is that the Lessers are contained in their own chapters which you can completely skip. My only non-Lesser complaint is that sometimes Mary is too stubborn for her own good and you just want to shake her to make her realize how much Rhage loves her.

Our rating: 5/5. I read this book once a month. True story – when I was on vacation I HAD to read this and paid full price (even though I’m a poor-ass grad student) to buy it on my Kindle despite the fact that if I waited 3 days I could read it for free at home.

Hollywood Ever After by Sasha Summers

Book: Hollywood Ever After

Author: Sasha Summers

Basic story: Claire has an abusive ex who just won’t let go. When she goes for some much needed R&R in LA, she literally falls into newest Hollywood heartthrob, Josh Wiley. When passion explodes between them, neither is ready to let go even when Claire’s dangerous ex enters the picture ready to make Claire his wife again no matter the cost.

Why You Should Read It: great writing; tons of Hollywood heartthrobs and glamorous star studded parties; some steamy sex scenes; the chance at love with a celebrity even after a messy divorce and bearing two children; romance between a younger virile man and a middle aged woman.

What You Might Hate: how gloomy the book is–deranged exes, physical and verbal abuse, and depressing scenes are rampant; the Hollywood heartthrob is British(!); how quickly the hero falls in love with the heroine; how neat and pat the ending is.

Our rating: 3/5 stars. Not fantastic, not bad either, just a solid okay.

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

Book: Dark Lover

Author: JR Ward

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood (Book 1)

Basic story: Vampire king Wrath must initiate his dead friend’s half-human daughter into the ways of life as a vampire while simultaneously trying to evade immortal vampire slayers intent on exterminating him and his people. Helping him protect his race against the slayers is a group of 5 vampire warriors known as the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB).

Why You Should Read It: interesting plot twist: these vampires don’t prey on humans but on each other meaning you get to learn all about their world and how it co-exists with ours; fantastic love story and uber-hot sex scenes; interesting sub-plot involving vampire slayers called Lessers; the focus is not just on the love story so the book reads like fantasy not romance; amazing writing.

What You Might Hate: the Lessers are run by an annoying man they call Sensei who is frankly the creepiest villain I’ve read about in a long time; there is a lot of talk about the Gods who created both vampires and the slayers which can be a bit dull; these centuries old vampires occasionally devolve into ghetto talk and like to listen to rap music.

Our rating: 5/5 stars Drop what you’re doing and go get this stat!