Some Like It Scot

Some Like it Scot (Scandalous Highlanders) by Suzanne Enoch

some like it scot

Overview by Amazon:

Nineteenth-century, Scotland:

When a mad lass in trousers shoots at him, Munro “Bear” MacLawry isn’t sure what impresses him more-the girl’s sure aim or her irresistibly tempting curves. Catriona MacColl has fled to the Highlands with her half-sister to escape an unwanted wedding, and wants no part of him, nor any man. But he can’t abandon the flame-haired, sharp-tongued wildcat now that he’s discovered her-not when she fits so perfectly in his arms…

LEAD TO A LOVE FOR ALL TIME?

Munro has more than earned his nickname-he’s a well-muscled, well-favored mountain of a man with an engaging bad-boy grin and a string of well-satisfied lasses behind him. Bringing Catriona food, blankets, candles, everything she needs to survive a winter in an abandoned abbey, Munro is an unexpected gift in her reckless bid for freedom-and an unexpected complication. Clan MacDonald has plans for her, and they don’t include her falling for a MacLawry. But this man makes her feel like a woman-and he may be her one chance to live a life about which she’s only dared dream…

I have been waiting for this book!  I have read the MacLawry siblings adventures in the past three books, but it was always Bear that intrigued me the most.  I have a huge list of books to read, but once this landed on my kindle, I couldn’t stay away.

Bear, also known as Munro, is the youngest brother of the MacLawry Clan.  He is not known for his brains, but rather his brawn.  He is enormous at six and a half feet, built with pure muscle.  He is the enforcer of the Highland clan and a womanizer.  Never seeming to be serious about anything or any woman, he has become the centre of attention in his home – but not for the reasons one would think.  All his siblings are married and have children.  The brothers want to see Bear settled down and worry that he feels left out now.  Bear doesn’t want to change his life and certainly won’t allow an arranged marriage.

He meets Catriona and her sister Elizabeth when he finds them squatting on MacLawry land.  He is captivated from the start by the wildcat.  Cat with her breeches and flaming hair has Bear under her spell.  He adores that she fights with him, insults him and makes him work for her attention.  She doesn’t know who he is at first, and is extremely reluctant to allow him to help her.  In fact, she is very fond of her gun and shoots at him repeatedly.  These two characters are so exciting.  I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect mate for Bear than Cat.  A hothouse flower for him to protect wouldn’t have worked.  Cat is strong and capable, raised like a man and she matches the physicality of Bear.

I adored how this plot unfolded.  A lot of subterfuge and sneaking around keeps the first part of the book tense and engaging.  Once the identities are known, the seduction begins in earnest.  Since Cat has been raised like a man, she doesn’t simper or play games.  When she returns Bear’s lust, it matches his level of interest.  These two characters create sparks on the page when they are together.  The other scenes in the book are relevant to the development of the plot (and well done), but lack the heat in the exchanges between Cat and Bear.

Since this is the Highlands, clan politics are a problem.  Both Bear and Cat have to deal with their clans and the issues that their relationship brings.  I always love this part of Scottish novels.  The clan dynamics are so fascinating.  I love how the author has made them complex and intricate.  Since I have read about the other MacLawry’s adventures and the heaps of trouble they caused, it was so hypocritical of them to be against the relationship.  I really empathized with Bear because he had always been so stalwart in his support of his clan and family and when he really needed them, they asked him to make a terrible choice.

The sensuality between Bear and Cat was heart pounding.  These two are honest with who they are and what they want.  I found myself carried away by the love and lust that bonded their relationship.  Bear wanted to help Cat and most importantly accepted her for who she is.  I think this is a really important message for women.  Cat has been mocked and belittled her whole life for the way she was raised.  Bear was the first person to appreciate and see her the way she was.  He never tried to change her and was vocal about how he liked her for who she was.  When Cat did want to wear a dress and present herself as the Lady she was, he not only agreed, but supported her fully.  I think I died and went to heaven when he played lady’s maid and braided her hair.  Isn’t it always the toughest and the biggest men who have the softest heart?

I have loved all the books in this series, but this one blew me away!  I loved the characters and the plot.  The politics of clan business created great conflict that had me extremely engaged as a reader.  Often you find yourself frustrated and exasperated, yelling at the screen, “just do this…” But that never happened with this book.  I truly felt that this duo was the real deal and would face the world together.  An excellent end to a wonderful series!

Check it out on Amazon

Top Ten Tuesday – Recommendations

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.  The idea is that there is a weekly theme that can be applied to any genre of books you like to read.  The theme this week is a really cool one.  It’s recommending new authors.  So if you liked this one, you’ll love this author…

I think this is a great theme this week.  I often rely on Amazon’s recommendations when looking for an author or a new book to read.  While sometimes they hit the mark, other times the suggestions can be bizarre.  So this week, I will try to cover a range of romance genres and authors I think you will enjoy!

If you like Kathleen Woodiwiss….image

Then you will like Laurie McBain chance the winds of fortune

If you like Shana Galenthe rogue you know

Then you will love Kerrigan Byrnethe highwaymanIf you love Lisa Kleypas…..it happened one autumn

Then you will love Lauren Smithleague of rogues

If you love Outlander...outlander poster

Then you will love Monica McCartythe striker

If you love Samantha Young….hero

Then you will love Janet Nissensonsensational

If you love Meredith Wildhard loveThen you will love Lauren Laynethe trouble with love

If you love Charlene Groome (and hockey novels)practice makes perfect

Then you will love Veronica Forandsimmering ice

If you love Stephanie Laurensa gentlemans honour

Then you will love Gaelen Foley secrets of a scoundrel

AND Liz Carlyle beauty like the night

If you love Judith McNaughtalmost heaven1

Then you will love Nicole Jordanmaster of temptation

If you love Angela Quarles91-cNgoYGvL__SL1500_

Then you will love Tamara Gilla stolen season

If you love Sylvia Day...captivated by you

Then you will love Raine Millernaked

If you love Suzanne Enochsome like it scot

Then you will love Madeline Martin possession of a highlander

If you love Mimi Jean Pamflioffmermen

Then you will love Vonnie Davisbearing it all

Sensational

Sensational (Inevitable Series) by Janet Nissenson

sensational

Overview by Amazon:

Lauren McKinnon has always prided herself on never backing down from a challenge, living life to its fullest, and refusing to be ruled by her emotions. She is the quintessential wild child who became a bold, fearless woman, she doesn’t believe in regrets or second chances, and thinks that true love only happens in fairy tales. Except for the time it happened to her one magical summer. But unlike fairy tales, in real life love can also be cruel, and after having her heart broken Lauren has vowed to never allow herself to be vulnerable again.

Ben Rafferty has always been a loner, never truly belonging anywhere or to anyone, until the summer he visits Big Sur and meets the girl he immediately recognizes as his soulmate. But Lauren’s star shines far too brightly, and to stay with her means the real possibility of dimming that brilliant light. The decision to leave her behind will be the most difficult of his life, and for years later he’s left to wonder what would have happened if he’d stayed.

When their paths inevitably cross again, Lauren’s pride and refusal to forgive continues to keep them apart, as does the new woman in Ben’s life. As truths are eventually revealed, and emotions can no longer be denied, will Lauren and Ben finally find their way back to each other, or will they be destined to forever remain apart?

Since I started this series, I have been desperate to read Lauren’s story.  The whole series has captivated me in a way that hasn’t happened in a while.  I believe that Janet Nissenson is an extremely talented author.  She creates stories that are honest.  While you may not always love what the characters say or do, there is a realism to the stories and the lives they live.  I found this to be the most emotional book of the series and I may have shed a few tears.

In the past books in the series, we have met Lauren and she has always been great comedic relief and slightly scary.  But Lauren isn’t a clown and her story was begging to be told.  I needed to know who Lauren really was past the bravado and pushiness.  I knew that deep down, there was a woman who was so wounded by her past that the story could only be truly sensational.

Lauren is described in the book as “a gorgeous, sexy and sassy woman who was both strong and confident, and didn’t know the meaning of the word insecure.”  This pretty much sums up Lauren.  She is the life of the party, but almost so over the top at times that she seems exhausting to be around.

The book opens with a young Lauren meeting Ben by accident when he trespasses on her property.  Within a couple of hours, they are having mind blowing sex in her cabin.  The first part of the book features the intense and wonderful ten days that Lauren and Ben spent together.  Thankfully, there is a ton of sex and love scenes because it has to tide you over because they spend the next SIX years without each other.

Lauren is a photographer who travels the world for National Geographic.  Her relationship with her team was one of the things that just added that extra element to the story.  Her camaraderie and teasing helped me to understand Lauren deeper.  For such a tough exterior, Lauren had a heart of gold.

It would be easy to hate Ben because of how he did her wrong, but it was hard.  Ben was a very likeable and honourable character.  While he wanted Lauren more than anything, he walked away because of misguided sense of responsibility.  Usually, this would just make me want to smack the guy in the head, but Ben had pure motivations and feelings.

This story didn’t pull at your heart stings in a contrived method.  The story, the characters and the emotions felt so real to me as I devoured this book.   While it was fantastic to relieve some scenes from previous books and to revisit some of my favourite characters, it was the depth of Lauren’s longing that make me connect emotionally with this book. I found this story quite suspenseful at times.  There is no mystery or murder plot, but rather how Ben and Lauren would find their way back to each other.  Would the author make Ben a cheater?  Why was it taking so long for him to end the relationship with his girlfriend?  What is going to happen???  But aren’t these types of stories the best?

I always find it so sad when the author gives you a rich and meaty epilogue at the end of a series.  While I hunger for the knowledge of their future, it drives it home that this is it.  Janet Nissenson has stated that there will be some follow up books to other characters, I just kind of feel sad that this journey is over.

The book comes out in November and I am posting my review now so that you have time to read all the books in the series.  This series is one that you really don’t want to miss out on.  The author is extremely talented and I can’t wait for whatever she dreams up next.

Rock Redemption

Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss Volume 3) by Nalini Singh

rock redemption

Overview by Amazon:

Kit Devigny could have loved rock guitarist Noah St. John. Their friendship burned with the promise of intense passion and searing tenderness…until the night Noah deliberately shattered her heart.

Noah knows he destroyed something precious the night he chose to betray Kit, but he’d rather she hate him than learn his darkest secret. All he has left is his music. It’s his saving grace, but it doesn’t silence the voices that keep him up at night. Chasing oblivion through endless one-night-stands, he earns a few hours’ sleep and his bad boy reputation.

When a media error sees Noah and Kit dubbed the new “it” couple, Kit discovers her chance at the role of a lifetime hinges on riding the media wave. Wanting—needing—to give Kit this, even if he can’t give her everything, Noah agrees to play the adoring boyfriend. Only the illusion is suddenly too real, too painful, too beautiful…and it may be too late for the redemption of Noah St. John.

Wow!  Nalini Singh is such a talented author.  Yes, I still haven’t got a chance to read Psy/Changeling, but she is so gifted because she made me fall for Noah St. John.

Honestly, when I started to read this book, I was totally and completely put off by the character.  Calling him a mess is being kind.  Noah is the quintessential rock and roll bad boy.  He makes despicable choices that made me thinking that Kit needed to get her head examined.

But this story is really about the fact that you can’t always choose who you love.  There are so many themes in this book that weave together to make an excellent story.

The first theme explored is self worth.  Noah suffers from crippling memories that make him convinced – like soul deep – that he is unworthy of being with Kit.  She just happens to be the one woman he has had an emotional connection with.  His fragile self-esteem is one of the major stumbling blocks in the development of their relationship and it is a recurring issue for Noah.

Nalini Singh explores the concept of unrequited love in this story.  Kit has loved and lusted after Noah for years.  He stomps all over their friendship and burgeoning love in the most heart-rending way.  The writing was so superb, that I found myself sucked in, with all my emotions engaged.  I really hate Noah, but yet I couldn’t stop reading to find out what happens next.

Kit was a great character.  I wondered what would make her hang in there so long with Noah, but as I got to know and understand the character, it made sense.  Often we stay in relationships or pine for someone because they provide something that we need in order to be happy or whole.  For Kit, Noah was the one man that she truly felt was the one for her.  Even when he hurts her desperately, she still can’t stay away.

I don’t know what type of research Nalini Singh did for this novel, but Noah is a rock star and Kit is a movie star.  The book features the lives of the rich and famous in California.  Singh has created a story that is remarkably true to reality.  The gossip mill, the paparazzi and the pressure of succeeding in the industry are all part of the story and are very authentic.  I have to admit that I really liked this part of the book as they clearly were not normal people.  They lived in an extraordinary world and the book brought that to life.

So while Noah has sex appeal coming off him like waves, it is not Kit that he has sex with for the early sex scenes.  I won’t spoil how the relationship unfolds, but it was worth the wait to see how they find their way to the bedroom.

After reading this book, I know that I need to make the time to read more by this author.  Nalini Singh creates amazing characters and stories that pulled me in and left me very satisfied.  The book title of redemption is in reference to the redemption that Noah found with the love of his life and it was amazing!

Heir to the Pack

Heir to the Pack (The Cursed Pack, Book 1) by Laura Welling

heir to the pack

Overview by Netgalley:

Three years ago, Annie had a three-day fling in Cancun with a handsome stranger, Dash. Two years ago, she gave birth to his son. Now, Annie’s son is fading away with a mysterious illness, and she must seek help from his father, who doesn’t know he exists. But Dash has news for her: first, he’s a werewolf; second, he’s about to be crowned their king; and third, their son has been touched by an ancient curse.

Wow!  This was a thrilling, paranormal adventure story with a healthy dose of reunited lovers.  Many of the books out there feature alpha males, but this book really does have an alpha.  Animals strip things down to the base level and Dash’s wolf is the leader of the pack.

The story begins with Annie arriving on Dash’s doorstep to beg for his help in saving the son he never knew that he fathered.  Right away you know there is something different about Dash and his extended family who live in the wilderness of Montana.

I have dabbled in the romance paranormal genre since I started this blog.  I have read books with vampires, gods, mermen and time travellers.  Shifters and wolves seem to be really great subject matter for stories.  I think in the case of this book, the alpha wolf and the pack hierarchy is easy for us to understand.  One only has to hang out at a dog park to see pack mentality in action.  So what is sexier than the leader of the pack, with his masculinity and power rolling off him like waves.

Annie and Dash are virtual strangers.  They had a hot and heavy Mexican hook up three years earlier which resulted in the adorable little Jack.  But Jack is sick and as sad as this is, it adds deep emotion and conflict to the story.  A sick child adds a strong sense of urgency to the story.

Annie’s reactions to the realities she faces in Dash’s home are hard for the rational, scientific mind to absorb.  I really enjoyed her character as she is a fighter.   She faces uncomfortable truths in order to save her baby.  How many women would want to track down a fling to share the news of a toddler?  As a mother myself, I would be scared out of my mind.  Not only is Jack sick, but she now has to share him with his father.  Annie’s reactions seemed so honest, so as the reader you can relate to the situations she finds herself in.

I also really liked Dash.  The power and control he exudes make him an extremely likeable and intense character.  There is something just so sexy about a character that is a leader.  The fact that Dash is a leader who shifts into a wolf just adds to the mystique.  I appreciated how the author crafted Dash’s relationship with Annie and Jack.  While he can’t believe that he fathered a child, he accepts the boy into his heart, life and pack.  I find that kind of honourable actions really important in the male characters I read about.

The dynamics and politics of being a werewolf are explored at length.  Just like how I love to read about Regency England and learn new tidbits of history, it was fascinating to read about this new world where werewolves co-exist with humans.  The mystery was quite suspenseful and I found myself constantly hypothesizing about what was going to happen, who was the bad guy and how would they get their happily ever after.

This is the first book I have read by this author, but I fully intend to follow this series.  The author is very skillful at creating a world that is new and exciting to read about.  The characters she has developed experience emotions that are honest and real.  I found myself drawn into the complex story and cheering for the good guys.  If you are a fan of contemporary romance with a dash of paranormal than this is a book you should check out!

Top Ten Tuesday – Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.  Each week features a different them that can be applied to whatever genre of books you like to read.  I find it so fun to makes lists and I like to check out other blogger’s lists as it always seems to add books to my TBR list.

So, this week is fitting then!  The topic this week is the top books for fall that I am waiting/wanting/hoping/dying to read!

Sensational by Janet Nissenson

sensational

This is the final book in the series and I have adored every book I have read by her.  The books aren’t full of perfect characters, but I think that is what draws me in.  If you haven’t read any of her work yet – check her out!

The Striker by Monica McCarty

the striker

I have adored the Highland Guard series since the Chief came out.  The series is winding to a close and I think there are two more books to go.  It’s always hard to finish a series, but the best part is that there is a ton of books to go back and re-read!

Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

cold hearted rake

It seems like an eternity since the master Lisa Kleypas published a historical romance book.  This book comes out the end of October and I am super excited to read this book!

One King’s Way by Samantha Young

one kings way

It’s a novella that is part of the On Dublin Street series and Samantha has been teasing glimpses of this book on instagram lately.  I am really looking forward to this book as it seems like it has her signature style all over it!

A Gentleman for All Seasons featuring stories by Shana Galen, Vanessa Kelly, Theresa Romain and Kate Noble

a gentleman for all seasons

What is not to love?  Four stories in one!  I love the writing of all these ladies, so I can’t wait!

Some Like It Scot by Suzanne Enoch

some like it scot

I have really enjoyed this series and the brawn Highlanders Suzanne Enoch has brought to life.  The cover of this book would encourage me to get it regardless of who wrote it!  I am excited for Bear’s story and I am sure it will be a scorcher!

The Gilded Chain by Lauren Smith

tje gilded chain

Lauren Smith is a supremely talented author and there is not much that she can’t write about.  Her erotic series has been really enjoyable and the latest one is about to come out!  Can’t wait!

Duke of Scandal by Gaelen Foley

duke of scandal

I really like her work, but for some reason she is not as well known as other authors.  This is a new series she has coming out and I have it pre-ordered already!

Steal Me by Lauren Layne

steal me

I have recently discovered the work of Lauren Layne and loved her work so much that I blew through like 3 series over a weekend.  I actually did an author review, which you can check out here.  This book looks great and features New York City’s finest.  Can’t wait!

The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne

the hunter

Ok, so I am cheating a little.  This book comes out in February, but I loved her book the Highwayman so much that I am really looking forward to reading another book by her!

Good Earl Gone Bad

Good Earl Gone Bad (The Lords of Anarchy) by Manda Collins

Good earl gone bad

Overview by Amazon:

Marriage? To a gambler? You must be joking! Lady Hermione Upperton has never been one to back down from a challenge. And when her spendthrift father does the unthinkable and loses her hand in marriage at the gaming tables, she is faced with the challenge of her life. Not only in the man she’ll be forced to marry-the Earl of Mainwaring–a gamester, he’s also a member of the Lords of Anarchy-the driving club she holds responsible for her dear friend Lucinda’s confinement in an asylum, though they have never claimed responsibility. Marriage to Mainwaring won’t be easy, but perhaps it will give her the entrée behind the scenes of the LOA she needs to find out which of them had Lucinda put away.

All Jasper Fawley, the Earl of Mainwaring, wanted was a night of cards, but by the end of the evening he walks away not only with a great deal of money, but a lady’s hand in marriage. It’s not as if he doesn’t already have a great deal on his plate, what with paying for his sisters’ seasons and searching for James Craven’s killer amongst the Lords of Anarchy. But despite his misgivings, he finds his new wife more than beddable and to his surprise and dismay she seems to have quite an interest in the LOA. Could she be one of those women who throw themselves at members willy-nilly, or is there some other reason for her interest in the club? And will their dealings with the club become far more dangerous than either of them could have anticipated?

Manda Collins is rapidly becoming one of my favourite historical romance authors.  She creates stories that have great characters, interesting mysteries and great love scenes.

This is the second book in the Lords of Anarchy series.  As with the first book, the witty dialogue is back in full force.  Hermione is a strong character and she isn’t a wallflower.  In fact, she is the first female invited to join the driving club, The Lords of Anarchy.  With her group of friends, she is pulled into a series of events that rapidly change her life.

Manda Collins takes her characters through events that challenge their emotions and ideals.  She brilliantly weaves intrigue and suspense into mysterious events.  With a less skilled author, it would just be event after event – almost like the characters jumping through hoops.  But the author uses the conflict to peel away a layer from the characters, letting the reader in to their minds and hearts.

I adored the characters Hermione and Jasper.  The romance begins the way so many classic ones do – with suspicions and ulterior motives.  When forced into marriage by the turn of a card, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Would this be a marriage of battles?  But Manda Collins manages to make it work.  Hermione and Jasper build their marriage on the basis of their friendship which quickly turns to passion.

I found the characters to be very likeable and relatable.  When they share why they like to gamble and race horses, it was such a clever conversation.  By revealing their vulnerabilities to each other and the reader, it allowed the reader to embrace the legitimacy of the union.

This is the second book and I am hoping that Lady Ophelia and the Duke of Trent (both excellent secondary characters in the series to date) get their opportunity to fall in love.  This is a great story to read if you like your romance and mystery with exciting characters and excellent writing.

Hard to Break

Hard to Break by Bella Jewel

hard to break

Overview by Amazon:

Quinn has spent her whole life working in her dad’s garage, leaving her more comfortable with a carburetor than a curling iron. Her world is turned upside down when her beloved garage is bought by none other than world famous, sexy as sin, custom car builder, Tazen Watts. He’s the one man she can’t stand…even though he makes her hotter than a high performance engine in top gear.

Tazen has no use for Quinn, at least not professionally, and he’s making sure she knows it. But there’s a spark between them that she’s finding hard to ignore. She’s determined to prove her talent is as impressive as her sassy mouth. When she finds out Tazen is hiding a secret that could bring down his career and everyone involved in it, she wonders: is falling for him is going to be worth the risk?

I found this book so fascinating.  It’s a love story set within the world of custom cars – think along the lines of those reality tv shows featuring garages that build unique and special cars.  While I have never really watched those reality shows, it was a fascinating back drop to the story.

Quinn is a mechanic and lives for the grease monkey life.  The garage is pretty much all that she has in her life as she takes care of her alcoholic father every evening.   The story opens with the garage being sold to the super sexy Tazen, who just happens to be the reality star darling of the custom garage world.

Quinn is devastated at the sale of the garage.  She is almost as devastated that she feels a zing for the cretin Tazen.  So she sets out to make his life hell.  I love a story that has conflict that is portrayed with such amusement.  Quinn’s foray as a receptionist is memorable and hilarious.

This story is not just about cars and sex.  There is a much deeper undertone to the characters and the plot.  The realities of life – betrayal, disappointment, feeling of unworthiness are all explored through the actions of the characters.  I enjoyed that Tazen and Quinn develop a deep intimacy – along with hot sex that involves cars.  The characters have such great chemistry.  I loved the one liners and zingers they throw at each other as it just makes the passion between the two hotter and hotter.  I am a sucker for  witty and sassy dialogue every single time.

The only thing that had me questioning the story was that Quinn didn’t know anything about Tazen, even though she had watched his tv show.  I wondered why she didn’t just google him?  Surely his previous relationships would be splashed over the gossip sites and he must have had a Wikipedia page!  But, if she knew too much right away, it would have stopped the story from evolving the way it did.

I think one theme that I connected with the most was how Quinn was validated in the man’s world she inhabits.  She proved that she was a superior mechanic and earned the respect of the men she worked with.  That was one of the things that stayed with me the most from this book.  I adore books where the female lead is strong and capable.  The author has created a character that knows her heart and her worth and is able to prove it.

This was a fun book to read.  I really enjoyed the car and racing genre, as well as the smoking hot chemistry between the two characters.  This is a stand alone book and there is no cliff hanger –  just a lovely happily ever after!

Hard Love

Hard Love (Hacker Series, book 5) by Meredith Wild

hard love

Overview by Amazon:

Days after their wedding, Blake and Erica Landon embark on their honeymoon-a journey that deepens their bond and promises to fade the scars of their past.

Just when their troubles seem safely behind them, scandal surrounding would-be Governor Daniel Fitzgerald’s election threatens their newfound peace. Back home, Blake finds himself at the center of the controversy, haunted by the transgressions of his hacker past that he has no wish to relive.

With Blake’s freedom at stake and their future in peril, Erica will stop at nothing to clear his name. But when Blake defies the authorities and refuses to seek the truth, their world gradually begins to crumble. Will he let his past win? Or can Erica convince him that their life together is worth fighting for-now more than ever…

Sigh.  This is the end of a great series and I am feeling a little forlorn.  I have followed this series for a while and have really enjoyed the ups and downs of Erica and Blake.

For those of you who have followed this series from the start, you know that there have been a lot of conflicts for these two to overcome.  The finale to the series looks like it will be easy going for the two, but Meredith Wild imagines such great conflict that you KNOW it won’t last.

The phrase “the honeymoon is over” usually means that reality is crashing back.  Erica and Blake get a rude awakening (literally) the moment they get home from their post nuptial bliss.  I kind of wondered how much these two can take, but the conflict that emerges is actually brilliantly crafted by Wild and pulls together a lot of the different plotlines from the other books.

Even with all the conflict happening, there is still a lot of time for the newlyweds to get hot and heavy.  They have a great sex life and it’s displayed frequently in the story.  While the sex isn’t gratuitous, it is important because for this couple it is one of the grounding factors in their relationship.

What is missing in this story compared to the other books is the indepth coverage of their work.  While work has an impact on the conflict they are facing, as a reader, it is a change from hearing about the projects they are working on.  In this book, they are working to protect what they have built together.

The blurb references Blake’s freedom.  He is under intense scrutiny from the FBI, once again.  This is one of the conflicts they face – but together this time.  I have to admire how the author resolved the challenges Blake and Erica dealt with, from exes, colleagues, family and enemies.

There is always a little sadness for me when I read the last book in a series as I know that this is the last time I will read fresh dialogue and scenes.  The melancholy comes from enjoying a story and characters so much that I want to savour every word and moment.   Meredith Wild ended this series with no loose ends, which as a reader I really appreciated.  It wasn’t a happy ending for everyone and not everything turned out perfectly, but it was realistic.  I look forward to reading the next series that Meredith Wild dreams up and I can only hope that she continues to create compelling and dynamic characters like Blake and Erica.

Highlighted Author – Lauren Layne

I have been on a binge.  It’s not the type of binge where you eat all the candy and chips in the house – although that would be really fun.  I have found a new author that makes me want to stay up all night, ignore my household and work just to read the words she has written on the page.

Her name is Lauren Layne and I found her books through Netgalley.  I reviewed the first in the Oxford Series, Irresistibly Yours, and found it great!  So, I went online and looked up the rest of the books in the series and I was captivated.  The Oxford Series is an offshoot of the Stilettos series that features young 20 somethings in New York City.  These gals work for the woman’s magazine Stilettos and they are the love, dating and sex columnists that rule the city.  The series follows their lives and the men at the brother magazine, Oxford.

This series has it all.  At times it feels like reading a romantic version of the Devil Wears Prada.  Some Sex and the City love thrown in for good measure.  The angsty romantic pains of the Crossfire series captures the emotions, although the sex is not as graphic and overwhelming.  But what is never in question is the strength of these women.  Sure, they have moments of crisis and weakness, but they are strong.  They all have amazing and dynamic careers and don’t have to compromise on their intelligence (love this!!)

Each book features a different couple.  At first I was worried that it would be like reading about the same women and men, just different contexts.  Boy, those fears were quickly put to rest.  Lauren Layne is truly gifted at creating dynamic characters that live and breathe the personalities she gives them.  The characters are not one dimensional at all.  I found myself loving Southern Belle Emma, smirking along with Hugh Jackman lookalike Jake and rooting for sexy Riley.  Sometimes authors bring characters back from previous novels just to keep them in the story line or keep it fresh, but with these books, it never felt that way.  All of the characters are friends and their involvement in each other’s lives was realistic and necessary.

I have recently written a lot about setting.  What a great place to have as your backdrop – New York City.  From the hustle and bustle of downtown, to the trendy Tribeca area to beautiful Central Park, each neighbourhood in New York plays a special part in each love story.  The author has done her research well and has the ability to make Yankee stadium seem like the best place to fall in love.

What I loved the most about these books was how I felt as a reader.  I felt all the emotions you feel when zinged by flirting, relieved at returned love and betrayed at denial.  My emotions were fully invested in these characters and their stories.  I wanted to know everything about their stories and how they came to fall in love.  The author doesn’t make the men the scapegoats either.  She doesn’t make them horrible men who treat women badly.  They hurt as much as the women and love even harder.  She makes the characters so compelling that you hold your breath until you know what happens.

So if you love the slow, practiced wink from a flirt and women who encourage and support each other than you will be very satisfied with this series.  This is one author who I definitely plan on adding to my must be read pile!  And you should too!

After the Kiss Book 1

after the kiss

Julie Greene loves flings. Loves steamy first dates, sizzling first kisses, and every now and then, that first sexy romp between the sheets. Comfy pants, sleepy Sundays, movie nights on the couch? Shudder. But when Julie gets assigned the hardest story of her career—a first-person account of that magical shift between dating and “I do”—she’ll need a man brave enough to give a total commitment-phobe a chance at more.

Normally, Mitchell Forbes would be exactly that man. A devastatingly hot workaholic who tends to stay in relationships for far too long, he should be the perfect subject for Julie’s “research.” But what Julie doesn’t know is that Mitchell is looking to cut loose for once in his life. And the leggy journalist notorious for avoiding love is exactly the type of no-strings fling he’s looking for. In other words, Mitchell is the polar opposite of what Julie needs right now. And, at the same time, he’s exactly what she wants.

Love the One You’re With Book 2

love the one your

As a leading columnist for Stiletto, Grace Brighton has built a career warning women about rotten, cheating liars. She just never suspected her fiancé would be one of them. After Grace takes a heart-mending hiatus, her first assignment is to go on a couple of dates with a counterpart from the men’s magazine Oxford and report her impressions. Grace 1.0 may have been instantly smitten with the gorgeous correspondent, but Grace 2.0 has sworn off relationships for six months, and she’s not falling for his outstanding bod and trophy-winning kisses . . . or is she?

Jake Malone wants to get back to the fly-by-night, who-knows-what’s-next guy he used to be, and he knows exactly how to do it. Oxford is adding a travel section, and Jake—with no wife and no kids and a willingness to live anywhere, eat anything, do everything—is perfect for the job . . . except that his playboy reputation makes his new editor nervous. To get the gig, he must agree to a fluffy joint article with Stiletto. But after just one date with snooty, sumptuous, sensational Grace Brighton, Jake starts taking this assignment a whole lot more seriously.

Just One Night Book 3

just one night

Riley McKenna knows sex—good sex, bad sex, kinky sex. Her articles in Stiletto magazine are the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But when Stiletto’s fiftieth anniversary issue requires her column to get a lot more personal, Riley is forced to confront a long-hidden secret: Her own sexual experience is limited to one awkward college encounter. Now Riley is about to call in the favor of a lifetime from the one man who’s always held her heart.

Sam Compton knows two things about Riley McKenna: She’s the only woman for him. But as his best friend’s little sister, she’s also completely off-limits. Sam shouldn’t even consider her proposition: to have a one-night stand in the name of research. But the thought of another man putting his hands on Riley is more than Sam can handle, and soon he’s agreeing to one night with New York’s resident sexpot. But Riley’s full of surprises, and what starts as “one time only” soon becomes “just one more time.” And then one more. And before they know it, Riley and Sam learn firsthand that when it comes to love, there’s no such thing as just one night.

The Trouble With Love Book 4

the trouble with love

As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.

After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.

Irresistibly Yours Book 1 Oxford Series

irresistibly yours

Hotshot sports editor Cole Sharpe has been freelancing for Oxford for years, so when he hears about a staff position opening up, he figures he’s got the inside track. Then his boss drops a bombshell: Cole has competition. Female competition, in the form of a fresh-faced tomboy who can hang with the dudes—and write circles around them, too. Cole usually likes his women flirty and curvy, but he takes a special interest in his skinny, sassy rival, if only to keep an eye on her. And soon, he can’t take his eyes off her.

Penelope Pope knows all too well that she comes off as just one of the guys. Since she’s learned that wanting more usually leads to disappointment, Penelope’s resigned to sitting on the sidelines when it comes to love. So why does Cole make her want to get back in the game? The man is as arrogant as he is handsome. He probably sees her as nothing more than a barrier to his dream job. But when an unexpected kiss turns into a night of irresistible passion, Penelope has to figure out whether they’re just fooling around—or starting something real.
lauren layne

Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.

Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to multiple books including the bestselling Stiletto series, with more sexy stories on the way!

Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.