Taste of Temptation by Cheryl Holt

http://amzn.to/29n3fzi
Helen Hamilton is a twenty-five-year old spinster, with no income and no prospects, who struggles to care for her two orphaned sisters. Destitute and only a heartbeat away from the streets, Helen applies for a position as a governess to the younger siblings of Captain Tristan Odell, the oldest and illegitimate son of the notorious philanderer, Earl of Hastings. But when Tristan turns Helen away, her future seems as desperate as her options. 

Determined to do whatever it takes to support her sisters, Helen ends up at a brothel, where she agrees to sell herself as a mistress to a client of wealth and prestige. She even drinks a potion to make men desire her — and is shocked when the man who buys her is none other than Tristan. He too is shocked — and aroused by the possibilities. He hires Helen, but offers her more than a position as governess. Enmeshed in an affair of unrestrained desire, their passion quickly grows, as does an unexpected danger that could soon destroy them both... 


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I am usually a fan of Cheryl Holt although I'll admit that she does like to stick to her formula of rich, arrogant man and down-on-her-luck lady mixed with plenty of evil relatives thrown in to keep the couple apart. However, in this novel it seemed far too formulaic which resulted in a dull story that I struggled to get into.

I can't really say much about Helen as a character that's positive. She was supposed to be a strong survivor while she actually came across as weak and pathetic. Tristan was your usual arrogant hero but without much depth. His actions didn't seem to match his words and he was too quick to jump from one extreme to the other with his emotions for them to be believable. I'd like to say the pair had chemistry but to be honest they had so little interaction in the book that you practically forgot they were even there.

The reason for the lack of interaction was the secondary characters who seemed to take up all the pages. There was the "romance" between the immature, randy earl who was hard to like and Jane, the teenager who clearly knew what she was doing in trying to trap herself an aristocrat. That we were supposed to root for these two was beyond me.

Overall, as I said, I realty struggled with this story. It's the second in the Spinster's Cure series (after Promise of Pleasure and before Dreams of Desire) and I'll read the next book but really can't recommend this one. 2 stars and even then I feel I'm being generous!


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371 pages

Spinster's Cure trilogy:

       






Wicked Little Game by Christine Wells

http://amzn.to/29o5TRI
For years, the Marquis of Vane has hungered for Lady Sarah from afar, watching the beauty brave a disastrous marriage. Then Sarah's wastrel husband makes Vane an indecent offer—one night with Sarah for ten thousand pounds—and the temptation is almost too great.

When Sarah comes to him, Vane can't resist making love to her—on his own terms. Nor can Sarah refuse a night of exquisite pleasure with the devastating man who haunts her dreams.

By morning, Sarah's desire turns to shame and a deep fear of Vane's power to bind her. Desperate, she does the one thing that will stop him from claiming her as his own—leaving him shattered by her betrayal. But neither she nor Vane dreamed their passionate encounter would set the stage for murder and that a deadly twist of fate could spell a lifetime of regret—or a love to last all time.



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This is the first book I've read by Christine Wells and I was gripped from the first page by the intensity and richness of the characters and the storyline.

Despite her seemingly cold nature, Sarah is a character well worth rooting for and one that you can really understand and like. And what's not to like about Vane? A strong, sexy, brooding man who can't help but love the woman of his dreams. Together the pair worked well even though the depth of their emotions often had them at odds with one another.

I intensely dislike any infidelity in my romances but in this book it was handled in such away that not only was it not tawdry but you also cheered for Vane and Sarah. And the pair had such guilt over what had occurred that it didn't feel sordid at all.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It's the kind of story that you can't bear to put down and find yourself promising just one more chapter before you go to bed and waking up early just to read before you start the day. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a deep, interesting romance and personally I can't wait to read more books by Christine Wells, even hopefully some for Vane's brothers.



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309 pages






The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis

http://amzn.to/29rNKSF
Tara has a thousand good reasons not to return to the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Yet with her life doing a major crash-and-burn, anywhere away from her unfulfilled dreams and sexy ex-husband will do. As Tara helps her two sisters get their newly renovated inn up and running, she finally has a chance to get things under control and come up with a new plan for her life.

But a certain tanned, green-eyed sailor has his own ideas, such as keeping Tara hot, bothered...and in his bed. And when her ex wants Tara back, three is a crowd she can't control - especially when her deepest secret reappears out of the blue. Now Tara must confront her past and discover what she really wants. If she's lucky, she might just find that everything her heart desires is right here in Lucky Harbor.


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This is the second book in the Lucky Harbour series (after Jax and Maddie's book, Simply Irresistible and before Sawyer and Chloe's book, Head Over Heels). While I suppose you could probably read this book as a stand alone, I really think that you'd get a better grip on the characters and their previous interactions if you read the books in order.

Tara is the grumpy, bossy sister and although we know and understand why, I was worried that I wasn't going to like her or root for her. That turned out not to be a problem as yes, Tara was bossy, but she was also self-deprecating and only ever wanted the best for people - I ended up really liking her. Not only that but Ford's laid back nature really complemented Tara and it was a case of opposites attract. The pair had sizzling chemistry and although there was no huge conflict, peril or drama - I was really rooting for the pair.

The cast of supporting characters were really rich but never overpowered the main characters or love story. As well as Maddie, Jax, Chloe and Sawyer there's the meddling townsfolk who aren't nearly as overpowering or stereotypical as in other novels I've read. There's also Tara's ex-husband, Logan. He's not a bad guy but clearly not the right guy for Tara but I loved his interactions/battles with Ford. Like another reviewer said, it would be nice if Logan gets his own story in the future. There's also the adopted daughter storyline which was more sweet than heavy and added a little extra to Tara and Ford's story.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was part of a series that I'm really enjoying and I can't wait until Chloe and Sawyer's story comes out in December. If you like fun and sexy romances with characters you'll love then I would recommend this book, and the rest of the Lucky Harbour series, to you. 5 stars.


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384 pages

Lucky Harbor series:

           
 
           

           






The Personal Touch by Lori Borrill

http://amzn.to/29n6Kpn
When matchmaker Margot Roth is hired to find a date for the mother of a playboy millionaire, an erotic fling is the last thing on her mind.

Well, maybe not the last thing. Clint Hilton is the sexiest man she's ever met, and she has to admit naughty things go through her mind when he looks at her with his sultry eyes. But now that Clint is there to turn her fantasies into reality, Margot isn't sure if giving in to temptation is the best idea-even if he's determined to share his bed with her. . . or something more.


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Although it's a tried and tested plot, I still quite like a story where a couple pretend to be together only to find out neither are actually pretending. While this book didn't follow any formula, I feel that perhaps in order to avoid any clich├ęs, no storyline was truly developed - it was all a bit bitty!

Clint was a likeable enough character as a ladies' man although I didn't really believe he was as suave or hot as he was supposed to be. On the other hand Margot wasn't likeable at all. She was whiney, annoying and deluded - especially when it came to dating in which she was supposed to be an expert. While there was enough heat in the novel, it was all a little bland as the pair didn't have much chemistry.

Overall, this isn't the worst book that I've read and if you have it on your shelf then it's still worth a go. However, it was a little bland and certainly not what I was looking for when I picked up a Blaze romance. 2 stars.


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Twelve Nights by Hope Tarr

http://amzn.to/29uZxDc
Bad boy Callum Fraser is head over heels for the first time in his life.

Only his beloved, the Lady Alys, is keeping him out of her bed until their wedding Christmas morning. It's enough to drive a man crazy! Still, he intends to make up for his restraint. There are many ways to seduce, and Callum's a master at all of them. His goal?

To leave Alys shivering in desire, anticipating the many delicious ways he'll bring her pleasure on their wedding night and throughout the twelve days of Christmas. At least that's the plan. . . until Alys's dead first husband shows up, very much alive!


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This book follows on from Bound to Please, another Harlequin Blaze Historical that focuses on Callum's twin brother, Ewan. All the characters appear to have featured in the first novel and make an appearance in this one but you don't have to have read the first to totally understand the story or characters in this.

I'll start off with the good... Both Alys and Callum were likeable and realistic characters. Callum was strong but with a real weakness for Alys and Alys, a girl with a past, was still relatable and someone to root for. The pair had good chemistry and a very real love for each other even if the sex scenes weren't particularly hot or plentiful.

The plot was interesting and kept me interested and I really did enjoy Father Fearghas's journey and the things he encountered.

Now onto the bad... This book is set in Scotland in the 1400s but I was constantly thumping my head against the table while reading the book as the language, spelling and context of the words used was abominable. The characters "spoke" in an accent I've never heard anyone of the islands (or anywhere else in Scotland) speak and with words that I've never heard of and it was cringeworthy in the extreme. It's like the author thought to throw in a few "ochs", "ayes" and "the noos" and she's got herself a Scottish novel. I'm not expecting complete historical accuracy but a little research really wouldn't go amiss. Just because people say a word differently doesn't mean you have to spell them all differently! And some actually have proper spellings which the author completely disregards. Add to that the smattering of Americanisms and I was constantly jarred from the novel as I was reading.

I feel like I'm being extremely generous in giving this book 3 stars when I had so many bad things to say about it. However, I have to say that I liked the story, had no problem finishing it and that's despite all the flaws which is saying something! I'll admit that perhaps I shouldn't read novels set in Scotland as something invariably annoys me. If you're like me then perhaps I would pass on this book but if you're not bothered by things like that then I would recommend this book to you. The story's good and you can escape for a couple of hours.


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224 pages






In Good Hands by Kathy Lyons

http://amzn.to/29v0YkV
Amber Smithson just had mind-blowing sex with a totally hot stranger. In an elevator! Ditching her high-powered medical career to become a homeopathic doctor sure didn't prep her for this kind of hands-on therapy.

Corporate lawyer Roger Martell leads a high-pressure lifestyle that's given him money and power…and, unfortunately, high blood pressure. His solution? Ask the deliciously soothing doc to help him out with a few alternative treatments…and plenty more steam-up-the-yoga-studio sex!
The results leave them both healthy and very, very happy.

Still, a few nights of great sex won't bring down Roger's blood pressure indefinitely. Amber's in his bed now, but that doesn't mean she'll stay there.

Unless, of course, Roger can talk Amber into making those house calls a permanent thing….


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This is the follow on book from Taking Care of Business - Roger was the hero's best friend from that book. Having said that both book stands completely alone so you don't need to have read that one before reading this one.

Unfortunately, while I really enjoyed Taking Care of Business, this book was completely the opposite. Amber wasn't just unsympathetic but also completely unlikeable. Added to that she was preachy, stereotypical and annoying - not the ideal heroine. Roger was fine although a little blah all round. While there were plenty of sex scenes, without any connection or chemistry they all fell a little flat. In the end I couldn't help but feel that Roger deserved someone a whole lot nicer than Amber.

On top of this I felt the story was weak and at times bordered on ridiculous. It was a real struggle not only to finish this book but also to even remember what the book was about once I'd put it down.

For a Blaze this was a real disappointment. I like to be swept away by the romance, lifestyles, characters and sex and this book didn't deliver on any. 1 star.


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Taking Care of Business by Kathy Lyons

http://amzn.to/29naW8z
It begins with some sexy action in the lift. Julie Thompson is living out her naughtiest fantasies… at work. Who knew she’d find a secret fling right in her own office building?

Sam Finn can’t believe his luck. The undercover multi-millionaire has been watching Julie via the security cameras… and now he has her in his arms any time he wants!

But he’s just learned that Julie will be leaving for good in three weeks. He needs to make her an offer she won’t want to refuse…


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This was an enjoyable story and it really kept me hooked. With such an obvious source of conflict between the pair it could easily have been quite a predictable book but I never got bored and didn't once anticipate exactly what would happen next.

I liked Julie - strong and confident yet still likeable and relatable. Sam was an ideal hero - a little geeky but still strong and sexy (although I couldn't really enjoy the image of lycra cycling shorts!). He had flaws and was unsure and worried at times but he made the perfect partner for Julie. Together they had great chemistry and the sex was plentiful, hot and at times a little kinky. Just as you would expect from a Blaze novel.

Following on from this book is In Good Hands which is Roger's story and I'm hoping we get a little more of Sam and Julie in there, too.

Overall this was an enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours and I liked it a lot. 4 stars.


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Just Fooling Around by Various Authors

http://amzn.to/29oaSBz
No fooling: hot sex is on the way!


Cam’s Catastrophe
A reckless adventurer, Cam is about to take the wildest April Fool’s Day risk ever: jumping into bed with Dr Jenna! But it’s her recklessness that amazes them both…


Darcy’s Dark Day
The clouds lift when Darcy has a sudden opportunity to reel in her long-time fantasy man, Evan! Who’d have guessed that a silly curse could set up this amazing sex…


Devon’s Dilemma
She’s about to take a sexy Chance…a sexy pilot called Chance? It’s a gamble. But it could transform Devon’s devilish dilemma into a delicious one!


Reg’s Rescue
Anne desperately wants Reg back in her life – for good! So she intends to help him break the family curse – just as soon as they get out of bed. . .


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This is a set of 4 short stories (or encounters) all based around April Fool's Day and the Franklin siblings who are all cursed to receive bad luck on this one day each year.


CAM'S CATASTROPHE by Kathleen O'Reilly
The oldest of the Franklin siblings, Cam refuses to be laid low by a curse. So each April Fool's Day he does something outrageous and laughs in the face of the curse that plagues his family. And each year he finds himself in the E.R. being cared for by Dr. Jenna Ferrar.

This story spanned about 4 years with the relationship building up over the space of a couple of hours over one day in each of those years. With that in mind, the fact that these two people could discover feelings for each other (or probably even remember each other) after such a teeny tiny amount of interaction made the story unbelievable and a little frustrating.

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DARCY'S DARK DAY by Julie Kenner
Darcy Franklin is determined to visit New York on April Fool's Day to show the curse can't hurt her. Determined to save her from the curse, Cam asks his best friend, Evan, to make sure no harm befalls Darcy. But what Cam doesn't know is that Evan has always had a crush on Darcy and this is the perfect opportunity for him to make his move.

Curse aside - this was a sweet story if a little unsatisfying in terms of romance. Not bad though and easily the best story of the four.

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DEVON'S DILEMMA by Kathleen O'Reilly
In order to hide from the curse, Devon holes herself up in a fortress of a house in a remote town. On April Fool's night she receives a visit from airman, Chance, who's happy to take her mind off the bad events that are sure to follow.

It wasn't the story that was ridiculous with this effort but the fact that Devon lived in such a state of fear from a curse that only struck one day a year. Regardless, Chance didn't seem like long-term material and I didn't believe in the romance.

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REG'S RESCUE
by Julie Kenner
Reg Franklin is the one sibling determined to find the cause of and break the curse. Because of the curse he let go of the only woman he'd ever loved to keep her safe. But now she's back and the curse just might be ready to be broken.

While I liked this story and the two characters - to my mind Reg didn't love Anne enough to be with her and it was only his lust driving him to get back with her. Disappointing.



I feel I could really have got behind the premise of a curse that inflicts a whole family for one day a year if it had been handled a little less clumsily and with a little bit more reality - as strange as that may sound. As it was, the whole book was fantastical, a bit baffling and utterly ridiculous. Shame, really. 2 stars and the extra one is only because I finished all the stories and didn't mind Julie Kenner's attempts.


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217 pages



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