How to Misbehave by Ruthie Knox

Book: How to Misbehave (Novella)

Series: The Camelot series

Author: Ruthie Knox

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Amber Clark is a good girl – has been her entire 24 years on earth. She wants that to change. She gets her wish one day when a tornado hits the town, trapping her and building contractor Tony Mazzara in the community centre where they both work.

Amber has always admired him from afar, never daring to do anything about it. So when they enter the dark basement to wait out the storm, with only each other for company, there’s no choice but to get to know one another. Tony is nothing like she imagined. He’s strong and taciturn yes, but also afraid of the pitch blackness of the basement. In the short space of time, they find out many things that challenge their pre-conceived notions. But will their mutual passions outlive the storm outside?

Why you should read this: Usually, I’m not a huge fan of the novella, as the pace usually speeds by without the reader getting a proper feel for the characters. Not so with this book! Amber is a likeable, doe-eyed heroine with courage and the confidence to speak up for herself. Tony could have been a meathead Italian-American, but he was so much more. I loved them both.

What you might hate: The fact that once the story gets going, it ends! But don’t worry, this is a series and the rest of Amber’s family will get their own stories. (I was ridiculously happy about this news, as Ruthie will confirm as I took to Twitter immediately!)

Rating: 5/5 – yes you read right – I’m giving it five out of five. It’s a highly enjoyable, surprising, racy read that you can pick up and enjoy in one sitting. I’m a huge fan of Ruthie Knox and it’s great to be reading more from her.

Love and Relativity by Rachael Wade

Book:Love and Relativity

Author: Rachael Wade

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Emma Pierce is stuck on Sanibel Island, Florida, trying to get her life back on track. Suffering not only from the death of her sister Jen and being dumped unceremoniously by her ex-boyfriend, Emma’s life is spiralling out of control. She’s determined to honour her sister’s memory and complete her studies in Seattle in the spring, leaving behind all of her unhappy memories for good.
Emma finds comfort in the usual crowd at her local Friday night hangout; her best friend Whitney and the local loser boys. However, one person is able to see through her mask: Jackson Taylor. Self-confessed man-whore of the island, Emma is not interested in becoming another notch on his bedpost. The pair spar, but the chemistry is undeniable. Jackson may be bad news but he also knows Emma’s shameful secret surrounding what really happened the night of her sister’s death. As they become closer they are forced to question whether their love will be strong enough to defeat their demons or whether any future chances of happiness for them is possible.

Why you should read this: If you’re a fan of angst-ridden high drama between two lost and broken souls then you’ll definitely enjoy this read. You’ll also be rewarded with sexy times, which really do sizzle. Jackson and Emma are the epitome of star-crossed lovers.

What you might hate: If you aren’t a fan of high-drama, unfortunate misunderstandings, angst or young people who have already written off their lives (at 24 you’re ready to give up on your dreams – seriously?) then maybe you should avoid this story. I persevered with this book as I really enjoyed the author’s other work, Preservation. Unfortunately, I found a significant portion of this book quite depressing and verging on melodramatic. I also have to say that I really don’t like the cover either.

Rating: I give this book 2/5 due to the sheer stupidity of the characters at times and the endless back and forth between Emma and Jack. At times, they really stood in the way of their own happiness, which frustrated the hell out of me. But hang in there, as there are some really sweet parts too.

Come Undone by Jessica Hawkins

Come UndoneBook: Come Undone

Series: Cityscape Series

Author: Jessica Hawkins

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Olivia Germaine has it all – blossoming career, loving husband and a great social life. The life she’s carved out for herself bears no resemblance to that of her turbulent childhood and that is how she wants it to remain.
A chance encounter with a handsome stranger one night turns her well-ordered life on its head in an instant. He is able to see through her perfect veneer as none of her friends or family can. David Dylan enters Olivia’s life suddenly through her demanding job and despite their mutual attraction, both parties are determined not to cross that line.
Despite David’s reputation as a philanderer, a series of circumstances throw them together more and more and soon Olivia has to decide whether the life she has is in fact the life she wants.

Why you should read this: I read this book by chance (a recommendation on Twitter) and I could not put it down. David Dylan is mysterious, determined but also caring, sensitive and very, very passionate. He doesn’t deserve his reputation and genuinely wants to do right by Olivia. Olivia is complex – and her story will draw you in. Why is she so closed off and will she ever be ready to confront her issues? Despite some sketchy behaviour on her part, I couldn’t hate her.

What you might hate: Judith my blog pal absolutely hates stories about cheaters (she’ll probably berate me mercilessly about my choice) and usually I’d have to agree, but this story raises an interesting question – what do you do if you’ve married the wrong person? Do you stick with it, or not? I think you’ll also sympathise with these characters to a certain extent – they’re not bad people.

Rating: 4/5 I think it’s a great debut from a new author and I’m really looking forward to the final book in this series, which comes out in spring 2013. I’m still thinking about David Dylan 24 hours later!

New Life by Bonnie Dee

New LifeBook: New Life

Author: Bonnie Dee

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Jason is a janitor. He wasn’t supposed to be a janitor, he was supposed to be in college, but a stupid decision to drive after a party one night and his life changed forever, beyond recognition. No longer able to handle complicated tasks, Jason’s life consists of a series of lists and routines that he does not deviate from.
After a bad day in court, newly-qualified lawyer Anna tries to console herself in the stairwell of her office. Jason overhears her crying and unable to ignore it, he goes to look for the source of the noise.
Jason isn’t a huge talker; not since the accident. He is surprised to find that he and Anna are able to talk to one another and that she is able to see beyond the janitorial uniform. His comforting words to Anna manage to cheer her up and from this one meeting, an unconventional relationship begins.
Drawn to each other by a strong and mutual attraction, Anna and Jason feel their way through the obstacles standing in their way. Anna’s a successful lawyer whereas Jason can only comfortably carry out menial work. Can their relationship withstand Jason’s problems and scrutiny from the outside world?

Why you should read this: Bonnie Dee has a gift for storytelling and always presents complex and flawed characters from a fresh perspective. She doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects and handles the topic of mental disability with sensitivity. From the first page I was drawn in and wanted to know what would happen to these main characters.

What you might hate: I really don’t think there’s anything about this book to hate, however, Jason does make some downright stupid decisions, which have more to do with being male rather than due to his personal circumstances. (Also, if I’m honest, I’m not too sure about the cover – but what’s written beneath it is great.)

Rating: I give this a 4/5 – I have huge respect for the author and in some parts of the book, my heart broke for Jason. Read it!

The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton

Book: The Unidentified Redhead

Series: (The Redhead series)

Author: Alice Clayton

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic story: Grace Sheridan has returned to LA, determined to give life in tinsel town another shot. Having failed to make her mark on the showbusiness world years before, at thirty-three, she’s aware that it’s either now or never. He best friend and agent Holly is her support system/roommate and when she holds an impromptu party at the apartment one night, Grace is introduced to an upcoming new talent, Jack Hamilton.
Jack is humble, tall, English and sexy. He’s also twenty-four. Grace finds him attractive but dismisses him as a potential romantic liaison as he’s in demand and also nine years her junior. That won’t stop her from flirting with him, however. The duo soon build up a flirtatious friendship and genuine affection for each other, until it can no longer be denied: Grace likes Jack and Jack really likes Grace.
Before long, the pair are being photographed at various locations and the world wants to know, who is the unidentified redhead in the photos? Jack is an upcoming talent and his representation doesn’t want his fans to think he’s unavailable. Grace is having doubts of her own about whether their blossoming relationship is likely to withstand the various obstacles in the way and whether such an age difference can ever be surmountable.

Why you should read this: It’s no secret that I’m a huge Alice Clayton fan. The storyline sounds like a lot of books you’ve read before, but none have Ms Clayton’s way with words; her humour or turn of phrase. The book is hilarious – the correct blend of hilarity and some really tender parts too. Jack Hamilton is sex on legs and a really fun, engaging character and the perfect boyfriend too.

What you might hate: There are MANY sexy times – some scenes cover many pages, but I didn’t personally feel that it was gratuitous. It was hot!

Rating: Another great offering from Alice Clayton – 4/5 for me. Grace is a great heroine. She’s feisty yet sensitive. It’s also great to have a heroine who is a bit older who knows who she is and is comfortable in her own skin. I can’t wait to see what happens in The Redhead Revealed. I really related to Grace – she’s my age and dating a man nine years her junior so maybe my dreams for me and Robert Pattinson aren’t so unrealistic…

Our Top Romance Picks from 2012

Hello hello! Judith and Onni here. Well, it was a rough year on us, romantically speaking. We both read a ton of great books only to discover while compiling this list that the majority were published prior to the current year. “Wait, what!–I can’t add Bone Deep by Bonnie Dee to my list?!” I whined to Onni just last night. “Nope, I’m afraid not. Not published in 2012,” she countered. Well, it doesn’t matter any way since we have 6 books we both loved, no! Adored, no! WANT TO FORCE ON YOU SINCE THEY ARE SO GOOD!

So you have it: our top picks of 2012.

Onnica:

It’s such a tough job looking back on a year’s worth of reading and then picking a favourite, but here goes:

Gabriel's Inferno (UK cover)

1) Gabriel’s Inferno, by Sylvain Reynard

How much do I love this book? Let me count the ways. The arrogant, surly and beautiful Professor Gabriel Emerson is without doubt one of my favourite leading men of 2012. The story is intelligent and sexy and its overall theme that kindness is never wasted and redemption is always possible, made this an unforgettable tale. The love story between Gabriel and Julianne is one I will return to again and again.

Wallbanger

2) Wallbanger, by Alice Clayton

A lot of books this year have made me smile and feel good, but none have actually had me laughing out loud in public. Bar this one. The balance was impeccable – a likeable heroine, a sexy and down to earth hero, a cat with tons of attitude and gentle humour that didn’t get too over the top. If you haven’t read it yet, what have you been doing? Get on it!

50 Shades Trilogy

3) Fifty Shades Series, by E L James

Ok, ok, I know it’s not really the done thing to stand up and admit to liking this series these days, but I did! That’s right – I said it and I’m owning it. So the dialogue wasn’t Shakespeare, but I really fancied Christian Grey and if I’m honest, these books re-ignited my love for the whole romance/smut-tastic genre. Ana was a great heroine too – she didn’t put up with all of Christian’s nonsense and stayed true to herself. This series has also spawned a whole sub-genre: just look at how many stories there are now on the market about rich/broken/bored billionaires!

Judith: 

Back to You_Cover

1. Back to You by Priscilla Glenn

If you follow our sister site, http://www.iloveyafiction.com, you’ll know how much I absolutely love Back to You.  It’s the story of Lauren and Michael, past loves meeting again ten years later in the midst of very different circumstances. You fall in love with Michael in the present, you fall in love with Adam, Lauren’s new love, and you fall in love with Lauren and Michael’s past. IMO, this was a breakout book. With phenomenal writing and varying viewpoints that left me wondering if they would ever get back together, it’s sweet, funny, and oh-so-sexy. I can’t praise this one highly enough. Buy it and read it again and again. I bet you can’t read it just one time!

Laurie Breton Coming Home

2. Coming Home (Jackson Falls series) by  Laurie Breton

True story! Back to You by Priscilla Glenn used to have a different cover. In fact, it was the same cover as Coming Home. Well naturally, one day I was searching for something new to read on Amazon and saw the image of what I assumed was Back to You. I clicked on it, wanting to see what rave reviews it was receiving from readers and ended up so confused as I landed on a completely different story than the one I thought I was getting. Luckily I did though, cause the premise intrigued me and I bought it. This was as amazing as Back to You but in a wholly separate way. It’s very different than my usual romance fare in that it begins in the 70s and works its way through the 80s into the 90s. If you know my romance preferences they’re pretty cut and dry: basically I despise the 70s and 80s and love everything else. But this book romanticized those decades wonderfully, making each of the characters seem fresh and modern in a way I’ve never read. The story is lyrical and gorgeous, detailing the life and love of one woman as she faces challenges over the span of 20 years. What she wants in a man as a teen and what she wants and needs as a grown woman are two different things and this story is just beautiful in its portrayal of the devastating changes of love over time. Plus it’s a series! That means seeing more of these characters. Yes, please!!!

On The Island

3. On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Before reading this, if you would have told me that I would not only like but become enthralled by a book with pretty much only 2 characters set almost entirely on a desert island, I would have laughed at you. Seriously, I would have laughed so hard because that premise sounds utterly ridiculous. Romance thrives on a strong supporting cast and lots of exotic backdrops. But not this one. Honestly, I dare you to read the first 50 pages and not be hooked. It is so unique, so wholly out of the scope of what I usually read that I was floored by it. It is perhaps one of my favorite books of the year. Two survivors of a plane crash in the Maldives have to learn how to survive while also learning to trust one another in a savage environment. There’s a May-December aspect that you wouldn’t see coming if not for the fact that it’s labelled as romance. There are a lot of difficult to read scenes but also some amazingly poignant moments. This is a book you’ll never be disappointed you in purchasing and all I can say it: BUY IT!

Do you agree with any of our choices? What would you want to see on our list of Top Picks? Let us know!

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.

Naked by Megan Hart

Naked by Megan Hart
Naked by Megan Hart

Book: Naked

Author: Megan Hart

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Olivia Mackey has a very complicated life. She’s an adopted, bi-racial, Catholic/Jewish twenty–something. Her ex-fiancé Patrick effectively ended their relationship when he finally admitted to them both that he was gay. After some time apart, they somehow managed to remain friends and as part of his entourage, she suffers the pitying looks from others and still loves him desperately.

At his annual Christmas party, Olivia is drawn to the mysterious and seemingly gay Alex Kennedy. Convinced he can never be anything to her, she allows herself to openly admire him and gradually, the pair become friends. Ex-fiancé Patrick is not happy and soon he is warning them both off the other. Olivia wants to guard her heart from more heartbreak, but when Alex makes it clear he wants her, how can she resist?

Why you should read it: It’s no secret I am a HUGE Megan Hart fan – she’s a smart writer of erotic fiction and her study of human relationships is always heartbreakingly real. She writes flawed and complex characters every time and nails it. Not only is this book about the blurred lines of sexual identity, but it’s also about human relationships and how our sense of self isn’t easily defined.

What you might hate: A story about sexual ambiguity may not be for everyone, but trust me, it’s a compelling story.

Rating: 5/5 the sexual tension between the main characters is palpable. I was rooting for them from the start, but always with a sense of impending dread. Alex is sex on legs and he appeared in an earlier book, called Tempted, which you may want to read first. Again, how hot is that cover?

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

Wallbanger

Book: Wallbanger

Author: Alice Clayton

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Caroline Reynolds has moved into a kickass, rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco. Life is good – she works too hard but she is fairly happy with her lot in life and her cat Clive. There’s just one problem – she’s lost her ability to climax and is clueless about how to get it back. Cue the arrival of super stud Simon Parker next door. Day and night, his bed (and Caroline’s, since they share an adjoining wall) is banging and Caroline realises with horror just how thin the wall dividing them actually is.

Severely sleep deprived and super horny, she decides to confront her neighbour’s anti-social behaviour and shut him up for good. So begins a journey of friendship, plenty of sexual tension, possessive cats and clueless best friends.

Why you should read it: for a change, our heroine isn’t damaged, she isn’t a shrew, and she doesn’t hate having a good time. She’s easy going and very, very likeable. We probably all know someone a bit like her. The sexual chemistry between her and Simon is electrifying – there aren’t any contrivances to keep them apart and try to build up suspense; their story is an engaging one. The book is the perfect balance between humour, (seriously, some parts with Clive the cat made me laugh out loud) romance and sexy times.

What you might hate: I honestly don’t know what you’d hate about this book – it’s not over the top and it’s hot, hot and did I mention it’s hot?

Rating: 4/5 because it’s just that good. It’s received a lot of hype on Twitter and it’s completely justified. I’m now going to read Alice Clayton’s entire back catalogue – that’s how impressed I am by this book!