Saturday, 23 November 2013


Pages: 436
Date: 23/11/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 3 Pleasures
            Received from Penguin

Blurb, taken from the back cover:

“Passion must have it’s way

When Sinead O’Sullivan is charged with stealing the Fire of Autumn - a dazzling ruby with a notorious history - investigator Niall Moore is hired to stop her fleeing and to find the jewel. Though Sinead needs to convince Niall of her innocence, telling him everything she knows will expose secrets she is desperate to keep hidden.

Sinead and Niall may not trust each other an inch, but they find it impossible to ignore the fierce carnal heat between them. Niall an expert interrogator, uses every trick of the trade - and every weapon in his erotic armoury - to get at the truth. Sinead, a fast learner, counters his every move with one of her own. Thief and thief-taker fight for dominance and there can only be one winner.

But what happens in their red-hot game of cat and mouse when criminals chasing the precious jewel come after Sinead...and the stakes become deadly?”


The books in this series are, for lack of a better word, great fun. Evie Hunter - a partnership of two Irish authors - has managed to find the perfect balance between suspense and sexy. What’s even better the author manages to integrate these two aspects of the story in a very satisfactory and unputdownable manner.

In this, the third ‘Pleasures’, title we meet Sinead who has been leading a double life to finance her way through college. When she’s offered a job in a museum in Zurich she abandons her alter ego - Lottie, a burlesque dancer - and embraces the more serious life she’s worked so hard to achieve. Sinead has only been working in the museum for a short while when a precious ruby is stolen and she is the main and only suspect. Security camera footage clearly shows her stealing the ‘Fire of Autumn’ and leaving the museum with it. With proof as obvious as this, nobody is likely to believe Sinead’s claims that she is innocent.

Enter Niall Moore, owner of Moore Enterprises, a security firm. Initially he is hired by the Zurich museum to recover the stolen ruby which seems easy enough since the thief and her whereabouts are known. Things get more complicated when Sinead’s uncle, Tim O’Sullivan, also hires Niall to keep an eye on his niece and help her. The situation becomes near impossible when Niall meets Sinead and discovers there is an instant attraction between himself and the museum curator who may appear to be boring and plain but soon discloses her adventurous side as well as her well hidden beauty.

What follows in an adventure in which Sinead is so desperate to hang on to the secret of her double life that other things she tells Niall are dismissed as lies as well. These two characters shouldn’t be getting on at all but find themselves unable to keep their hands off each other. Add to that an American operative known for his cruelty and violence and you find yourself reading a book that doesn’t contain a single boring moment.

Did I mention that this book is sexy? Trust me it is. Niall is a Dominant who has long ago resigned himself to the fact that he won’t ever find a woman who could put up with his demands.

“He wanted an equal, and had never found one. Until now. Until Sinead.”

While Sinead, despite her history as a burlesque dancer, has relatively little experience when it comes to men and sex. When these two characters get together it turns into an instant and very heated battle for power.

There were two things I particularly liked when it came to the kinky scenes in this book. The first is that Sinead and Niall’s quest for the Ruby demands that the pair of them attend a fetish party where Niall will have to pretend to be Sinead’s slave. And while Sinead, thanks to her burlesque past, has no problems portraying “she who holds the whip”, having to submit nearly kills Niall. It made for a wonderful and very exciting scene.

The second thing that really impressed me is that this book has a realistic approach to the familiar ‘experienced Dom meets new sub’ story-line. Most if not all of the books I’ve read with a similar story-line feature Dom’s who are either geniuses or mind-readers. They never seem to demand anything of their novice that they can’t or won’t do. I loved that Niall did run into Sinead’s boundaries when they first started, and respected them. A rather refreshing approach which did a lot to make the story more believable.

As far as I know there is one more ‘Pleasures’ title to come: The Pleasures of Spring, which is due to be released next April. I’ve got a feeling this title will feature Andy and I hope that we will also get to see more of Roisin. Regardless of whether or not that will be the case, I’ll be looking forward to reading the book when it comes out.

Friday, 15 November 2013


               MARY ANN HUDSON &
               SERENA BELL.
Pages: 378
Date: 14/11/2013
Grade: 4-
Details: Received from Loveswept
            Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“As leftover turkey and stuffing give way to stockings and little black dresses, this tantalizingly sexy eBook bundle offers up holiday-themed novellas from a trio of beloved romance authors. Lisa Renee Jones gives a dedicated reporter and a powerful businessman a chance to count their Thanksgiving blessings in Play with Me; Mary Ann Rivers presents Snowfall, the story of a woman who confronts a life-changing event—hopefully with a special man by her side—just in time for Christmas; and in Serena Bell’s After Midnight, an explosive New Year’s kiss leaves two strangers wondering whether they’ll ever see each other again.”

PLAY WITH ME by Lisa Renee Jones (4)

The blurb:

Kali Miller has spent three years reporting fluff stories, waiting for the article that will launch her career to new heights. When she suddenly finds herself forced to take a job as an executive secretary at a Vegas casino, Kali meets the subject of what will surely be a shocking exposé: her boss, Damion Ward, the arrogant and undeniably sexy CEO. But after Damion invites her to help him plan a Thanksgiving charity event, Kali begins to see another side of the man. And when she surrenders to the exhilarating tension simmering between them, Kali hopes her story will have a happy ending.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone following my reviews that I enjoy Lisa Renee Jones’ writing. Just as it didn’t surprise me that this was an easy to read, easy to lose yourself in sort of story. However, this story, to me also felt a bit too rushed, both in the way it was written and in the way the story progressed. I’m all for romantic stories, and am in fact a sucker for instant attraction between two characters. And yet I couldn’t help feeling that everything in this story happened a bit too fast. In fact, I am convinced that if this story had taken place over, say, three months rather than three weeks, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

That is not to say I disliked this story. Lisa Renee Jones does steamy between two characters so well the heat radiates of the page.

“I still want you, Kali. I want to lick you. I want to touch you. I want to set you on the desk, rip your panties off, and fuck you.”

But to have that heat acted upon within minutes of two characters meeting is a bit too fast for me, no matter how strong the attraction.

SNOWFALL by Mary Ann Rivers (3)

The blurb:

Jenny Wright can’t get enough of her erotic conversations with someone she knows only as “C.” Flirting online helps Jenny temporarily escape confronting the changes to her life as she slowly loses her vision. Jenny’s occupational therapist, Evan Carlisle-Ford, is helping her prepare for the challenges ahead, but the forthright, trustworthy man can no longer ignore his growing attraction to his fiercely intelligent client. Now Jenny must choose between the safe, anonymous “C”—or the flesh-and-blood Evan, whose heated kisses can melt snow faster than it can fall.

Snowfall is the sort of story in which I loved the concept and wasn’t too fond of the execution. Or rather, I couldn’t quite follow the thoughts of Jenny. The way her emotions and reactions are described just didn’t click with me. Time and again I found myself thinking, hang on, what did I just read and having to go back to try and make sense of what I’d read. I’m afraid I’m not a patient enough reader for that. And so I found myself just reading on, regardless of whether or not I understood Jenny’s thoughts and feelings. And as a consequence I almost certainly missed some of what was happening to Jenny. And that is a shame because, I did love the idea behind the story – of a woman coming to terms with the fact that she’s losing her vision and might be going blind.

Because writing style and the way words are used are such a very personal thing I’m convinced that what didn’t work for me in this novella may well be what works perfectly well for another reader.
AFTER MIDNIGHT by Serena Bell (4)

The blurb:

The clock is ticking down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, and all Nora Hart and Miles Shephard can think about is kissing each other—even though they met just minutes before. Then, as fast as Miles enters Nora’s life, he’s gone . . . and she never even gets the name of the man she thinks might just be “the one.” One year later, Nora and Miles are reunited. The chemistry between them is just as strong as they remember. But Miles broke her heart once before—and this time around, Nora’s not sure whether she can give love a second chance.

This is a sweet story centered around two likeable characters who both are exactly what the other needs but meet at the wrong time. Nora has just broken up with her cheating long-term boyfriend and Miles’ fiancé has left him after he’s accused of embezzling money. Their intense meeting on New Year’s Eve lasts barely 15 minutes and yet they are unable to get each other out of their heads. When they meet again, about 11 months later they pick up right where they left off but issues with trust attempt to throw a spanner in the works.

Especially Nora is a wonderful character, refusing to give up on her faith in people just because her boyfriend turned out to be a bastard. Her optimistic nature makes her the sort of character you would like to call your friend. Of course the fact that she is so trusting makes it a bit hard to believe that she’d have such an issue with showing anyone her phone, but that’s a minor issue and not important enough to make me think less of the story. It is, for me at least, impossible not to like a character who comes out with sentiments like the following:

 “Of course we’re going to screw up and fail to keep our resolutions. We know that. But we bother and make them anyway. Because we have faith that we can be better people. And we can.”

Overall “Heating up the Holidays” is the perfect seasonal read for those moments when you just want to sit back, relax and lose yourself in a comfortable and sexy romance. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

UNLOCK YOURSELF An Introduction to the Desires Unlocked Series

Pages: 48
Date: 12/11/2013
Grade: 5
Details: no. 0.5 Desires Unlocked
Own / Kindle

Blurb taken from the author’s website:

This sensuous short story is the prequel to Liberate Yourself (previously published as Valentina), the first novel in the Desires Unlocked Trilogy.

n Unlock Yourself let me draw you into the seductive world of Belle when she meets the iconic silent movie star Louise Brooks while wandering in the glittering wintry streets of Berlin in 1929 on a quest to unlock the deepest, most secret part of herself. Louise takes Belle to a place where she can explore her erotic dreams and fantasies while also experience the most intensely romantic liaison she has ever known.


This novella is a wonderful introduction to the Desires Unlocked series.

The story is set in Berlin in 1928 and Ludwika has slipped away from her controlling husband. She is roaming the streets looking for something although she doesn’t know what.

“She needs some inspiration to keep her heart in motion, to stop herself from withering and fading away beneath her husband’s touch.”

Seen by her husband as the instrument necessary to provide him with the offspring he wants, Ludwika wants to feel passion:

“…a communion with a fellow soul.”

When she meets a beautiful young woman called Louise, Ludwika allows herself to be brought to a party which will open her eyes to passion and cause her to lose her long hair in favour of a haircut that makes a statement:

“I am no longer encumbered by the wants of men. What I want is what I want for myself.”

Ludwika may have to return to her cold husband before the night is over, she won’t be the same woman. With her newly acquired name, Belle, and an understanding of passion, the woman has discovered that freedom is achievable, even within the confines of an unhappy marriage, if only she has the courage to go look for it.

This free novella is a wonderful introduction to Evie Blake’s writing and her “Desires Unlocked” titles. Even with only 48 pages to work with Evie Blake gives her readers a wonderful sample of her exquisite writing, her wonderful way with words and impressive storytelling powers. At the same time, readers who have already read the first book in the trilogy, are given a wonderful opportunity to spend a little more time with Bella and find out how this wonderful character discovered her passion. 

This is a lot more than just another erotic short; this is a sexy story told in a literary style. You’ll read this book for the beautiful writing as much as for the tantalizing subject.

Do yourself a huge favour and pick this free novella up from Amazon (UK or USA) and allow it to lead you on to the full Desires Unlocked Trilogy.


The Desires Unlocked Trilogy: 

LIBERATE YOURSELF (currently available)

Blurb, taken from the author’s website:

Previously published under the title Valentina, the first book in the Desires Unlocked Trilogy is now available in e-book edition under the title Liberate Yourself 12th November 2013


Milan, 2012. Photographer Valentina Rosselli is living with her lover of one year, Theo Steen, but refuses to commit to anything more. When she is offered an intriguing photography assignment, to take pictures of those engaged in the darker side of desire, she gets drawn into a shadowy world that reveals a part of her she never knew existed….

Venice, 1929. Belle is the alter ego of a well-to-do socialite, trapped in an unhappy marriage and constrained by society. As Belle she plays out her fantasies by leading a secret life as a courtesan – but she will only truly be set free by finding the man who will love her.

Though decades separate them, Belle and Valentina’s lives are intertwined. Both will experience an awakening of their latent desires, but will they discover the connection between physical passion and true love?

'Both a heartbreaking love story and a romance raunchy enough to keep you warm at night'Independent

For my review of “Valentina” click here.

LOSE YOURSELF (Currently available)

The blurb, taken from the author’s website:

Previously published in print and ebook as VALENTINA ON THE EDGE, the second book in the Desires Unlocked Trilogy is now available in e-book edition under the title Lose Yourself from 12th November 2013.

2012. Photographer Valentina Rosselli has been invited to participate in a show of erotic photography in London, an opportunity she finds impossible to turn down. Yet London is where her ex-lover Theo Steen now lives. Deep down Valentina knows that Theo is the only man she’s ever loved. Is it possible that they might be able to rekindle their passion, or has she lost him forever?

1948. Maria leaves Italy to study contemporary dance in London, where she falls passionately in love for the first time – but when she follows her lover to post-war Paris, with its hidden underworld of latent desire, she finds that love induces her to behave in ways she never thought possible.

As Valentina uncovers Maria’s story, and its ties to her own, she begins to question how much one should change for love. Is she brave enough to risk her heart and step over the edge?

For my review of "Valentina on the Edge" click here.

SURRENDER YOURSELF (to be published January 30th, 2014)

New York, 2013. Valentina Rosselli is recovering her lust for life after the tragic death of her fiancé, Theo Steen, one year before. With her old friend Leonardo, she unlocks her inner sexuality, reaching a level of passion she’d never thought possible. Yet as she settles into her new life, a shock from the past threatens to ruin everything. Valentina must make a choice: but will she follow her heart?

Berlin, 1984. Tina Rosselli, the famous fashion photographer is permitted to cross the border into East Berlin for a single day. There, she meets a charismatic young cellist who arouses her as she hasn’t been in years. A passionate affair follows; one which will affect Tina for the rest of her life.

As the stories of the two women finally converge, both must embrace their inner desires and follow the path to true love

Saturday, 9 November 2013


Pages: 207
Date: 09/11/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: Received from Samhain Publishing
            Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

When love throws you a curve, swing for the fences.

Parker Wood’s dreams of becoming a professional baseball player are shattered when he’s injured in a devastating car crash. After two years in hospitals and physical rehab facilities, he’s ready to move back to his childhood home and take over the family landscaping company. The house and business are his, now that his father has passed.

Sophie Vaughn has suffered through a hellishly public divorce from a husband who couldn’t manage to stay faithful for two months of marriage. Determined not to let her personal drama impact her successful wedding and party planning business, she buys her parents’ old house, hoping the comfort of familiar surroundings will help her heal.

When Parker and Sophie discover they’re neighbors once again, it’s as if time has stood still. Their friendship is quickly rekindled, along with the decade-long crush neither of them ever admitted having. Then the heat between them exposes a long-held secret that threatens to tear them apart…unless they can detach from their painful pasts and move forward—together.

Warning: Contains sultry summer nights, steamy pool-side encounters, and you’ll never look at a jar of peanut butter the same way again.


People following my reviews will know that I do not like protracted drama. I love it when the characters in a (love)story have issues they need to deal with. I enjoy the tension a misunderstanding can create for the characters as well as for the reader. What I have a hard time reading are books in which the issues aren’t really issues, or where the problems seem to appear out of nowhere. And what I dislike most are characters drawing the issues out for chapters on end when just a simple conversation would have cleared the whole thing up. How wonderful that Karen Stivali managed to avoid all my pet hates. Yes there was drama, in fact both Parker and Sophie have issues with trust. But, as the backstory shows, both of them have every reason to feel insecure, good reasons for having trouble trusting each other. It was so good to see Sophie and Parker encounter difficulties and deal with them immediately.

Parker and Sophie felt like real people to me, the sort of people you might meet and befriend. They are both basically good and yet there is nothing saintly about them. They aren’t perfect, and are not described to make them appear as such. They are perfect for each other though just as they were perfect for this story and perfect for this reader.

There were one or two moments in this book that made me all warm and happy. When  Sophie sees Parker’s scars and he flinches because he thinks they are ugly to look at, she says:

“I kinda like them...They remind me that you’re still alive.”

Another moment that really got to me, for a multitude of reasons I won’t go into right now, was when Parker, Sophie and Joey are in the garden, just like old times, and Parker says:

“To old friends making new memories.”

After which Sophie reflects that:

“New memories sounded like a great idea.”

The whole book is melt worthy, but when Parker and Sophie danced to “Wonderful Tonight” I was almost reduced to a puddle, that song being the one the husband and I opened the dancing during our post-wedding party with.

But the best line in this book was found very near the end.

“All of that is nothing but the past. You’re my future. My whole future.”

Now, before anybody thinks that the book I’ve just reviewed is a fluffy and rather chaste run of the mill romance, I’d better add that this is one hot story. The relationship between Parker and Sophie goes from charmingly innocent and insecure to steaming in just a few pages of highly imaginative lovemaking. It is proof of just how wonderful an author Karen Stivali is that she manages to strike exactly the right balance between story and steam. It is good to know that Mrs. Stivali has more books to her name than the two I’ve read by her so far. I can easily see her join ranks with Nora Roberts and become one of my go-to authors when I’m stuck in a (reading) rut or in need of some instant cheering up.

Related review: Decadence

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

ONE TOUCH - A poem

One touch, I tremble
A hand hits bared skin
Pain, heat, pleasure
Muscles clench, heat spreads
I’m opening up, longing for more
The hand strokes the skin, rises
And hits again, harder
Pleasure and pain collide
They are the same
I need more
Of both.
Helena Stone