Wednesday, 12 February 2014

MARKED

TITLE: MARKED
AUTHORS: Lauren Dane, Vivian Arend
                & Kit Rocha
Pages: 412
Date: 08/02/2014
Grade: 4.5
Details: No. 3.5 Beyond
            No. 1 Thompson & Sons
            No. 1 Metamorphosis
            Received from Kit Rocha
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lauren Dane takes you into a brand new world in ALL THAT REMAINS. Summer Killian falls fast and hard when Charlie arrives in Paradise Village. But the heat turns all the way up when she learns Charlie is also with Hatch - the man she loved three years before. While she's not sure she's cut out for a triad, neither man is going to give her up.

Take a ROCKY RIDE with New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Vivian Arend as she leads you back to the Six Pack Ranch. Anna Coleman might be the law around Rocky Mountain House, but bad boy Mitch Thompson knows that under the stiff RCMP uniform is a woman with a passion for speed and pleasure that matches his own, and he’s not giving up until she’s his.

Kit Rocha returns to Sector Four in BEYOND TEMPTATION. A promise to a dying friend backfires when Noah Lennox finds that the girl he was supposed to rescue is all grown up--and wearing O'Kane ink. He wants to protect her from the secrets of their past, but she wants him. And an O'Kane woman always gets what she wants.”

My thoughts

Reviewing and rating anthologies is hard. I don’t think it is possible to find a collection of stories by different authors and enjoy them all to the same extent. This book came close though. While I wasn’t equally in love with all three novellas there is little to separate them and all of them managed to push my buttons just that way.

I suppose comparing the three stories wouldn’t be fair anyway. I have been a fan of Kit Rocha’s ‘Beyond’ series for a while now and have managed to fall head over heels for the O’Kane’s and Sector Four. Vivian Arend and Lauren Dane on the other hand, are both new to me authors although I’ve got a feeling that is a state of affairs that’s to change in the not too distant future.

I’ll give a short review as well as an individual rating for each of the three novellas below. As far as the book as a whole is concerned I’ll limit myself to saying that the stories are well written, the characters interesting and the scenes incredibly hot. All three of these novellas will leave you with an appetite for more.

Beyond Temptation by Kit Rocha (5)

Four years ago Noah Lennox promised his dying friend that he would keep his younger sister safe. And for a long time he thought he’d succeeded in doing just that. Recently Noah has discovered that rather than living away from the Sectors in safety Emma, the girl he was supposed to protect, is living in Sector Four, fully integrated in the O’Kane clan. He tells himself he only wants to make sure she’s safe, but when Noah and Emma are reunited it is impossible to deny the attraction between them. The feelings have always been there, but now that Emma is all grown up, they’ve become impossible to suppress.

Emma knows what she wants and it is Noah, it has always been Noah.
Noah knows he isn’t good enough for Emma but can’t deny the pull she has on him and is powerless against her persuasion.

“(...) giving him everything he’d never dreamt of allowing himself to want.”

When a secret Noah has been keeping for years is revealed, Emma turns away from him although it breaks her heart. But, while Noah knows that Emma no longer needs him to keep her safe, he can’t make himself stay away from her.

“There was no part of him he hadn’t yielded to her, heart and soul, past and future.”

Emma is a real O’Kane woman. She loves men but doesn’t need them. She’ll take Noah back, but only on her own terms, only in a partnership of equals.

“Laughter, love, and a lover who didn’t need to be her savior, didn’t need her helpless and at his mercy. Everything she’d ever wanted, in the one man she’d always craved.”

I may have said this before, but I guess there’s no harm in saying it again; I love the ‘Beyond’ stories. I fell in love with the post-apocalyptic setting and the O’Kane’s in ‘Beyond Shame’ and that feeling has only grown stronger with each subsequent story. There is something wonderful about a series in which strong men and women find their own balance on their own terms while living according to a high standard of honour. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with dominant, tattooed bad-boys and the women who know just how to handle them. This novella, like all its prequels was a hot erotic romance set in a dark and thrilling world where danger lurks around every corner. These stories take the reader on an exhilarating ride, always leaving us both satisfied and hungry for more.


Rocky Ride by Vivian Arend (4+)

I liked this stories in which two friends with benefits slowly come to the realisation that they want to be more to each other.

Anna Coleman is a cop who’s worked hard to arrive where she is and is very reluctant to do anything that might jeopardise her position in the department. Being seen to be dating Mitch Thompson might put her career prospects in serious danger. In fact she has one colleague who goes out of his way to tell her how inappropriate such a relationship would be.
Mitch Thompson has a bit of a reputation as a local bad boy; with his tattoos, and a penchant for bikes he exhumes danger more than ‘perfect husband material’ but Anna can’t deny that the chemistry between them is scorching.

After two months of causal but very inventive sex, Mitch is ready to take his affair with Anna to the next level but:

“Mitch Thompson had fallen hopelessly in love with the worst possible woman in town – one fighting tooth and nail against letting her real nature free.”

When Mitch convinces Anna to give a relationship a try it raises a few eye-brows but doesn’t appear to cause the problems Anna has been anticipating. And there’s no denying the two of them are good together. However when Mitch is faced with the idea that her relationship with him might cause Anna to miss out on a huge career opportunity he takes a decision that might cause him to lose everything he wants before he’s even gotten close to it.

This was a rather sweet story. I wasn’t entirely convinced by Anna’s issues as far as the risk to her career was concerned but did like the way she got her revenge. The chemistry between these two characters was scorching hot.

“I want to savour you. I want to taste every inch of you until you’re mine all over again.” – Mitch

Some exchanges between Mitch and Anna are funny;

“I’d never turn down the offer to take you for a ride.”

While there is also room for moments of wonderful tenderness:

“You can keep your fire hidden from everyone else, as long as you promise to always let it burn with me.”

In short this was a sexy and sweet story that delivers everything you might look for in an erotic romance with abundance.


All That Remains by Lauren Dane (4.5)

Centuries from now the world has gone through radical changes. A plague has killed a large proportion of humanity and those who remain live in an environment drastically altered by climate change and a society in which men vastly outnumber women.

In a small settlement called Paradise, Summer has created a satisfying life for herself. She has a job she loves, is close to the sister she wants to keep an eye on and happy with her circumstances. When she meets Charlie it is a case of lust at first sight. The only kink in what would have been a hot and carefree entanglement is Hatch; Charlie’s partner and the man who loved and left Summer.

The attraction between Hatch and Summer is as strong as it has always been, but Summer can’t bring herself to trust him or to risk being hurt by him again. If these three are going to establish a successful relationship Hatch will have to do a lot of grovelling, Summer will need to forgive and trust again and Charlie will need all his mediating skills.

“I’m not sure I’d be able to find my way back to Hatch without you.” – Summer to Charlie.

I really liked the setting in this story. I like the idea of relationships taking the form of Triads and Quarts to compensate for the surplus of men and I loved that the author took the time to illustrate that those relationships need a different form of management and compromise in order to succeed.

The interactions between the three characters were fascinating; individual traits result in sparkling interactions. Because Summer, Hatch and Charlie are different and complement each other it was easy to believe in this relationship and root for a happy ending.


I’m glad this is the first instalment in a series and look forward to reading more stories set in this place called Paradise.

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