Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Book: Sugar Daddy

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Series: Travis Family

Basic Story: Liberty Jones has a rough life living across the tracks in the trailer park of Welcome, Texas. When she meets Hardy Cates, she thinks she’s met her soulmate.  Hardy is the sort of handsome loner who’s always looking out for her and acting as her biggest advocate.  But when Hardy leaves unexpectedly and then her mother dies, Liberty must do what it takes to stay afloat while also raising her younger sister, Carrington.  She puts herself through beauty school and eventually meets the enigmatic oil tycoon, Churchill Travis while working at a Houston salon.  After slowly getting to know one another, Churchill offers her the opportunity to live in his mansion and act as his personal assistant. When she agrees, everyone including Churchill’s children who are Liberty’s age, assumes that she is looking for a sugar daddy.  But over time, the animosity between Liberty and Churchill’s oldest son, Gage, in particular blossoms into something more.  Then Hardy Cates reenters her life and Liberty must choose between two men she loves dearly.

Why You Should Read It: Lisa Kleypas is a master storyteller weaving an engaging tale about love that is uplifting and not maudlin; three wealthy hunks (Hardy, Churchill, Gage) all looking to make Liberty happy each in his own way; seeing the bonds of love extend throughout an entire family. Some of the most touching scenes are watching Liberty and Carrington or Churchill and his children; the opulent Texas lifestyle is fascinating to northerners; everyone speaks in a drawl and you can practically hear it through the pages!

What You Might Hate: all the weird names–I’m a big proponent of 1 or 2 wacky names but here there are 5 in the main characters alone (Liberty, Hardy, Gage, Carrington, Churchill) and it drove me batty. Who names their kids names like this?!; everything is a little too easy for Liberty who just happens to have a billionaire walk into the beauty salon where she works and who eventually offers her a LIVE IN job doing something that has nothing to do with being a beautician; all the talk of the rich lifestyle might make you jealous (I know am); Hardy the bad boy you love to hate shows up at the worst moment possible.

Our rating: 5/5. Lisa Kleypas can write a convincing love story like no one else .Her books are effortlessly enjoyable and crazypants names aside, this was one of my favorites from her.  You wouldn’t think an established historical romance writer could craft such a good contemporary, but she does. BUY IT!

Bared to You (A Crossfire Novel) by Sylvia Day

Book: Bared to You (A Crossfire Novel)

Author: Sylvia Day

Basic Story: Eva is that sort of wealthy socialite who thinks she has to make her way in the world without a lot of help from her parents. After taking a lowly job at an advertising agency in NYC’s Crossfire building, she is literally knocked down by the building’s owner, the enigmatic, wealthy, and extremely hot Gideon Cross. Their instant burning attraction cannot be denied and the two begin a passion fueled relationship that helps fill in the gaps all their respective relationships used to have.  Gideon and Eva are both abuse survivors and their ability to trust one another is severely hampered even in light of the really good sex.  Eventually their pasts and their own ghosts catch up with them and each of them must choose to release the demons within in order to take their relationship to the next level.

Why You Should Read It: Gideon Cross is every woman’s dream man: wealthy, gorgeous, sympathetic, caring, loving, fantastic in bed, willing to sacrifice himself for the woman he loves; there’s a LOT of gratuitous sex; the backdrop of their romance is set in opulent and aristocratic NYC so we’re shown a forbidden glimpse of Manhattan’s elite; nice cover.

What You Might Hate: Did you see what we said about Gideon Cross? God! How annoyingly perfect can one man be? Geez; Eva acts like a high school girl, getting angry and walking out on Gideon over and over for having past relationships and for maintaining platonic friendships with some of his former lovers; there’s a LOT of gratuitous sex that just seems to act as filler when the author can’t think of anything else to help the plot along; there’s really no story and we never learn much about either character.

Our rating3/5. There’s nothing new here and it reads like the only slightly amoral man’s version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Read it for the hot love scenes and not for the plot. Buy it for that fab cover though!

Thoughtless by SC Stephens

Book: Thoughtless

Author: SC Stephens

Basic story: Keira and her Aussie bf, Denny, leave sleepy Ohio for Seattle when he lands a dream internship out west.  Moving in with Denny’s former host brother and local rock star, Kellan, the couple quickly adjusts to life in the big city and all seems right in their world until Denny is forced away on a long term assignment in Arizona and Keira is left to fend for herself.  Attending classes and working at Pete’s bar are all she does until Kellan takes her under his wing.  As they grow closer, the limits of their friendship are tested and eventually Keira must choose between the man she thought she would spend the rest of her life with and the rock star she never assumed could touch her heart.

Why You Should Read It: You could cut the sexual tension with a knife! The will they-won’t they aspect of Keira and Kellan’s relationship is without a doubt the driving force behind this book and the build up to their romance is HOT HOT HOT; you never know until the very end who Keira picks and while it is aggravating at times, it is also invigorating to watch her world view become shaped and tempered by Kellan’s enigmatic personality.

What You Might Hate: The book drags a lot and Keira’s constant flip flopping between her love interests is annoying with a capital A: just choose one already and it better be Kellan the hot rock god with abs of steel; there are a lot of extraneous scenes that would have benefited from a good editor (but frankly it wasn’t that annoying since it just meant we get to see more Kellan and his chiseled bone structure); Denny, Keira’s Aussie boyfriend, was just too perfect to be real; we don’t see much scenery beyond Kellan’s house, Pete’s bar where Keira works and Kellan’s band plays, and Keira’s school.

Our rating: 5/5 Keira and Kellan’s romance is hot. No seriously, HOT. It drags in places and can worry you in others, but their road to love is amazing. Get this book!

Faking Mr. Right by Kerry Connor

Book: Faking Mr Right

Author: Kerry Connor

Basic story: Mel needs to find the perfect Mr Right for a national ad campaign for a swanky cosmetics company. Only problem is she’s been looking for months with no luck. When advertising exec Jeff’s best friend from back home in Brooklyn meets him for lunch at the office, Mel decides he’s the one. Former Army Ranger Sam is gorgeous and charming enough to wow all of America. But after a few days with Mel, he decides that the only one he wants to win over is her.

Why You Should Read It: Sam is charming enough to knock the socks off of grandmothers, mothers, sisters, and gay men everywhere–he knows exactly what to say at exactly the right moment; the cover features the hottest abs we’ve seen in a long time.

What You Might Hate: the plot line is extremely predictable with commitment phobic Mel warding off the advances of overly charming and captivating Sam at all times; as a character, Mel is pretty lackluster and seems cobbled together from some stereotype of a mousy woman–what we get is a bland heroine; the subplot featuring Sam’s uncle Tommy and his own love interest serves nothing more than to fill up pages; the lack of steamy scenes.

Our rating: 2/5 stars. Read it if you’re looking for a little escape otherwise don’t waste your time. You know this plot, you know the outcome, you won’t be surprised.

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!