Tag Archives: love story

Love Story

Love Story (Love Unexpectedly) by Lauren Layne


Overview by Publisher:

When Lucy Hawkins receives a job offer in San Francisco, she can’t wait to spread her wings and leave her small Virginia hometown behind. Her close-knit family supports her as best they can, by handing over the keys to a station wagon that’s seen better days. The catch? The cross-country trip comes with a traveling companion: her older brother’s best friend, aka the guy who took Lucy’s virginity hours before breaking her heart.

After spending the past four years and every last dime caring for his sick father, Reece Sullivan will do just about anything to break free of the painful memories—even if it means a two-week road trip with the one girl who’s ever made it past his carefully guarded exterior. But after long days of bickering in the car turn into steamy nights in secluded motel rooms, Reece learns that, when it comes to Lucy, their story is far from over. And this time, they just might have a shot at a happy ending.

I was so thrilled to find out that a new Lauren Layne book came out!  I have a serious crush on her books.  They all feature sexy and witty dialogue, amazing characters and terrific plot.  The Oxford and Stiletto series are just spine tingling good, so I had expectations for this new book.

She did not disappoint!  This book can be read without reading any of her previous works, but really, if you haven’t read any Lauren Layne you are missing out!  This story features so  many tropes that work really well.  Reunited lovers, first love, enemies to lovers, this story has it all!

The story is told from alternating perspectives, which is something that the author does really well.  I find it hard at times when a male perspective is presented by a female author because it doesn’t always go well.  Never fear!  In this story, Reece’s frustrations, energy and thoughts leap off the page and make the story well rounded.

Reece and Lucy grew up almost as siblings.  Reece, a year older and best friends with her brother, has wanted Lucy for a long time.  Three weeks before she leaves for college, they finally hook up.  Things don’t end well and they both nurture deep seeded grudges that make the two week car trip to California sheer torture.  Once again, the brilliance of the author shines in this story by the method of how she reveals what happened in the past.  Every few chapters, we get a glimpse of Reece and Lucy as children and as teenagers and slowly learn more about what happened for them to go from love to hate.  It is such an effective tool that it kept me hooked the whole time I was reading.

You know a book is good when you start it and don’t put it down until it’s done.  It was so clear that Lucy and Reece were meant for each other.  Their snipes and digs at each other just ratcheted up the ferocious attraction between them.  Both characters have flaws which makes them believable and relatable, but still immensely likable.

Sexy scenes?  Check.  Witty, biting dialogue?  Check.  Great plot?  Check.


Mirage by Monica Burns

Overview by Amazon:
A sheikh without a country. A woman without fear. A love hotter than the Sahara.
In his heart, Viscount Blakeney will always be Sheikh Altair Mazir, but a deathbed oath to his English grandfather forces him to divide his time between Britain and his beautiful Sahara. A victim of prejudice from both cultures, he has learned a bitter lesson. Trust no one.
Yet when he witnesses firsthand the British Museum’s rejection of Alexandra Talbot’s request for assistance in finding the lost city of Ramesses II, he finds himself not only compelled to help, but donning his desert robes to hide his identity.
Alexandra is all too familiar with men who equate her sex with a lack of intelligence. But the mysterious Altair isn’t like other men. He never questions her ability to find the lost city, only her resistance to the sinful pleasure of his touch.
Bound by a Pharaoh’s prophecy, desire flares between them under the desert stars. But murder and betrayal turn their quest into a deadly game, pushing their fragile trust to the breaking point. A trust that must be reforged if they are to survive.

Recently I have seen a lot of discussion on twitter about diversity in romance novels. This was in the back of my mind while I was reading this book. The main character is of mixed race and his experiences are a large part of the story. The author delves into the racism and difficulties the character has experienced and how they have shaped him as a person. I think I really connected to this book because I am also half Arabic and I understand what it is like to be treated poorly because of ignorance and discrimination. His defensiveness and fear is so well explored in the book and was completely relatable.

When I first started reading historical romance I often picked up Johanna Lindsey books – mostly because they were what was on the shelves of my mother and grandmother. I remember one book she wrote called Captive Desire. It was about an English woman kidnapped by a half Arabic/Englishman and basically held as sex slave in the desert. As a young teenager, I didn’t really understand what was so wrong about the context. I just liked that it took place in the desert and featured a portrayal of the Arabic culture. Now as an adult, I look back and realize that there are serious issues with the sexual relationship between the two characters.

Mirage by Monica Burns is the version of Captive Desire I SHOULD have read as a teen. The female lead is strong, smart and determined. Alex doesn’t let her gender control her. She demands equality and I adored this character. Not only does she own her intellect and her abilities, but she is in control of her sexuality. Honestly, this character was better than most female leads in contemporary novels.

Alex is an Egyptian scholar who has travelled from America to dig for Per-Ramses in the Sahara. She must rely on the Bedouin to help her find her way and to excavate. There is a lot of mysticism with ancient prophecies, but it feeds so well into the plot. Alex’s adventure is like a blend of Indiana Jones, Cleopatra and the Mummy.

From the descriptions of the desert and the dusty streets of Cairo, the imagery that Monica Burns creates take you as the reader to a foreign world and time. The story is so well told that you completely feel like you are bouncing around on a camel or wiping the soft sand off your face. It is these intricate details that make a story so believable. When you feel that you are there, you believe in the story.

The archeology is fascinating and a huge part of the story. Another element is the Bedouin politics that abound with the Mazir tribe that is helping Alex. Her guide Altair, also known as Lord Blakeney, is part of the tribe that is escorting Alex. Altair is amazing! Sexy as hell, suave as an Englishman and deadly as a Bedouin. I loved the character and the internal battles he struggles – between his nationalities, between his attraction to Alex and his loyalty to Mazir and the discrimination he has faced and his future. Altair is so entranced by Alex and wants her unlike any other. The description of Altair when he dons his Arabic robes and henna tattoos literally blew me away. The cover of this book actually matches my internal image and it’s pretty hot!

The attraction between the two is off the charts hot. From the start, they can barely be in each other’s company without getting physical. It was like they were magnets – attracted to each other no matter what. There is no mention of Alex’s virginity, which didn’t really matter, as it allowed her to explore her sexuality as she chose. The love scenes between the two were exactly what you would hope for if you were in a beautiful tent with thick carpets, satiny pillows and the cool desert nights blowing. Really, really well done!

This is a great story! Full of excellent research, interesting history, politics and love. I really recommend checking out this book as it’s a unique and fascinating story!