Showing posts with label 5 Heart Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 5 Heart Review. Show all posts

Throwback Book Review: A Perfect Darkness by Jamie Rush

Throwback Book Review: A Perfect Darkness (Book 1 of the Offspring Series)
By: Jamie Rush
Paranormal Romance
Published By: Avon Books
5 Heart Review

Before I posted L.A.'s review of this book I wanted to include part of the email she sent me with it because I thought it added to the great review she did:

Hey Sabrina,
Here is the review for Jaime Rush's A Perfect Darkness.  It get 5 hearts.  OMG I loved this book.  I read it in 4 1/2 hours, one sitting. (Cute right?)

Book Blurb:

They live ordinary lives, but they are extraordinary.  They are the Offspring, children of a mysterious experiment gone awry – and they are in terrible danger.

A sexy stranger awakens Amy Shane in the dead of night.  Lucas Vanderwyck barely has time to whisper a few words before three men burst into her bedroom and drag him away.  But what Lucas reveals shatters Amy’s safe little world forever.

Lucas and Amy share a psychic gift – a fight that could put them in mortal danger.  And as they share night after night of savage passion, as a shadowy government conspiracy tracks their every move, they will fight to save each other.  But only with their powers of second sight can they escape the terror of a perfect darkness.
This book took off from the very first chapter and left me glued to the page until the last word.  It was fast and exciting with just the right amounts of romance and suspense.  I devoured A Perfect Darkness in one sitting, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The main plot was simple enough to be resolved in one book, but had so many possibilities and open-ended questions that I can see this easily being a hit series.  I was a little taken aback when the action started right away.  Actually I found myself feeling a lot like Amy was at the time, like the world had spun and suddenly I wasn’t sure I knew the truth of anything anymore.

Jaime, the author, achieved what every paranormal writer strives for – believability.  The paranormal aspects of this book have a solid background and believable origins, all set within the world we live in.  That being said, they are also open for growth.  The characters themselves are learning the extent of what they can do, and I have a feeling there’s a lot more to come.

The characters in this book aren’t perfect, and that’s just how I like them.  Most of them have to make hard decisions on what is right and wrong, and they don’t always do the right thing.  I immediately liked Lucas, even though part of me wished he could have played a larger role in general.  Amy was also likable and I loved watching her surprise herself with how strong she really can be.  I was impressed that Petra and Eric got part of their story told in this first book – it isn’t always that way for side characters– and I have a feeling their stories are only going to grow throughout the series.  I also want to see more of Ozzie, Amy’s neighbor.  His role was small in this book, but he has a lot of potential.

I’m super excited to see where this series goes.  I can tell more and more characters are going to be introduced in future books…this is only the beginning.  If you’re looking for a fast paced, original story that keeps you on your metaphorical toes, you can’t go wrong with A Perfect Darkness.

My advice: get real comfortable before you open this one…you may not be getting up again until you’ve read it all.

Happy Reading!
Cheeky Girl L.A.

5 Heart Review: Rising Freestyle by Vivian Arend

Book Review: Rising, Freestyle (Xtreme Adventures Series)
By: Vivian Arend
Contemporary Romance 
Published by: Samhain
Rating: 5 Heart Review

Stuck between a rock-solid man and a hard place…

Melanie Dixon’s body may have recovered from a horrific climbing accident, but her nerve is long gone. So is the natural enthusiasm for life she took for granted. Tired of being scared, beyond ready to conquer her fears, she pulls up stakes and moves to her brother’s new hometown to start over. Her first step is the most terrifying—to tackle the wall at the local climbing center.

Derrick James is mesmerized by Melanie’s dark beauty, and equally impressed with her climbing abilities and determination. Watching her retune rusty skills spurs a desire to partner with her—on and off the ropes. Melanie’s a compelling mix of wit, sensuality and vulnerability, and it’s his delicious task to convince her the scars on her body are no match for the heat rising between them.

Then a man from Melanie’s past shows up, pushing their relationship to the edge. Nathan King wants photographs for a “where are they now” series, but his side agenda is more personal in nature. A proposal that brings her out of her sensual shell and onto a precarious sexual ledge. Where trust is crucial…and too easily shattered.

Rising, Freestyle is a novella about a woman, Melanie, trying to find and be happy with herself again. She had a rock-climbing accident and was hurt and scarred. She had a lover reject her for her scars and she is not happy with herself anymore. That is until she meets Derrick who is teaching her to rock climb again. Then, enter Melanie’s childhood crush, Nathan King. He is totally into Melanie, but she’s with Derrick.

The story is about Derrick and Nathan healing Melanie. She needs to feel better about her body. She needs to feel beautiful again. Derrick has healed her most of the way, but she needs another man to show her that she is attractive as well. Nathan is that man.

The book has quite a few very well written and steamy sex scenes (of course, it’s Vivian Arend!) I found myself loving the voyeurism scenes; you can feel the passion between all of the characters. There are quite a few scenes leading up to the actual voyeurism, due to Nathan’s photography.

Vivian Arend has a way of telling the story from differing viewpoints so that you don’t dislike Nathan for his role, and so that you understand why he acts the way he does. You certainly won’t feel creeped out by the voyeurism. I think Vivian does a great job of writing voyeurism so that it can appeal to everyone, even people that are not typically into scenes or scenarios that contain it.
Read An Excerpt

Happy Reading!
Cheeky Girl Meagan

5 Heart Book Review: Dangerous Desires by Dee Davis

Book Review: Dangerous Desires
By: Dee Davis
Romantic Suspense
Grand Central Publishing
5 Heart Review

As the extractions expert for A-Tac, and elite CIA black ops unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college, Drake Flynn knows how to survive behind enemy lines.  But he’s about to meet one adversary he can’t subdue…or resist.

Stranded in the Colombian jungle after a mission goes bad, Drake has only one objective: evade the mercenaries hot on his trail and deliver “the package” to US officials.  But “the package” has a mind of her own, and she has no intention of trading one set of captors for another.  Madeline Reynard is beautiful, headstrong, and hell-bent on escape after years as a crime lord’s pawn.  She’ll risk everything for freedom, even if it means deceiving the dark, handsome operative who now holds her life in his hands.
Drake has been burned too many times to let a woman manipulate him, especially a secretive one like Madeline.  Even so, they cannot deny the attraction between them.  Now as enemy forces close in, Drake and Madeline must trust each other with their lives – or face certain death.

It was immediately obvious to me that this book is part of a series, one of which I haven’t read.  That being said – I was surprised that I didn’t get lost or feel like I didn’t get to know the characters.  Sometimes with a series, the author relies on previous books to do the character building and doesn’t give enough in the current book for the story to really click with a reader who hasn’t read the previous book…kudos to Dee Davis for keeping this one a stand-alone within a series.
I loved Madeline and Drake…and I especially loved them together.  There is nothing that draws me in more than two very strong characters.  Madeline is one tough cookie.  She doesn’t give in to anything that has happened in her life – and let’s just say she hasn’t exactly gotten it easy.  She is a true survivor, doing whatever it takes and dealing with the emotional backfire later. 

Strong women need strong men – and Drake is all that and more.  His attitude towards women is a bit suspicious at first, but the man has his reasons and he’s about to get a reality check on the integrity of the opposite sex.  For such a tough guy, Drake has a sensitive side that is endearing and adds to the complexity of his character.  He isn’t perfect, but neither is Madeline.
As for the rest of the A-Tac team, the term “adrenaline junkie” comes up a lot, and I have a feeling this is a recurring theme throughout the books.  Dee doesn’t delve into each character as thoroughly as I would expect from a stand-alone book, but since this is a series, the glimpses of each character’s personality makes me want to read more about each one.  I haven’t yet looked up the first book in the series (this is the second), but I don’t think it would take you long to figure out which characters were the main ones.  But that’s what I love about series, you get to visit the characters you fell in love with after their “happy ending” and see the continuation of their lives. 

The “bad guys” in this book are cunning, ruthless, and surprising.  While Madeline and Drake are battling their own enemies, there is a much larger villain that appears to operate throughout the books.   I’m a sucker for undercover operatives – give me a SEAL, or in this case CIA agent, any day and I’m a happy reader. 
If you’re looking for a hot romance with lots of action and intrigue, don’t hesitate to grab Dangerous Desires.  If you can’t wait to read this one, but like to start from the beginning, go ahead and do what I’m about to do – check out Dark Deceptions for the first book of the series.  Either way, you won’t be disappointed with this Dee Davis book.  I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of this series has to offer.

Happy Reading!
Cheeky Girl L.A.

Book Review: The Hambledown Dream by Dean Mayers

By: Dean  Mayers
Paranormal Romance
5 Hearts

Story Blurb:
Australian Denny Banister had it all; a successful career, a passion for the guitar, and Sonya - the love of his life. Tragically, Denny is struck down with inoperable cancer.
Andy DeVries has almost nothing; alienated from his family, moving through a dangerous Chicago underworld dealing in drugs, battling addiction; all while keeping a wavering hold on the only thing that matters to him: a place at a prestigious conservatory for classical guitar in Chicago.

As Andy recovers from a near fatal overdose, he is plagued by dreams - memories of a love he has never felt, and a life he's never lived. Driven by the need for redemption and by the love for a woman he's never met, he begins a quest to find her, knowing her only by the memories of a stranger and the dreams of a place called Hambledown...

This book is one of the best I've read in a long time.

It was  one sitting book!  I rarely care for romance books by men, but this story is sweet,  poignant and very well written. The way he brings Andy and Denny together is very well done. I was afraid that one personality would become lost in the other but Dean manages to keep the best of both.

The author creates such wonderful word pictures that you feel like you are living it too.
 My favorite part is the music, I've never had the emotions of music described in words that were so powerful, it is very stirring.
Dean depicts the Chicago underworld graphically and has some pretty raw sex and language at the beginning. Please don't let this stop you from reading the rest. You will be glad you did! This is a great book.

Happy Reading!
Cheeky Girl Sharon

Romance Book Review: Unlocked by Courtney Milan

Romance Book Review: Unlocked
By: Courtney Milan
Historical Romance Novella -  28,000 words/approx 111 pages
Self-Published (Buy Links Available Here)
5 Heart Review

Story Blurb:
A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormentor is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.

Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…

It's taken me a bit of time since reading this novella to do this review but this story has stayed with me. There's so much depth and emotion packed into just over 100 pages that you forget it's shorter in length. You won't miss anything from this novella. It's all in there and it's all good.

Having enjoyed Mrs. Milan's full length Proof By Seduction, I knew already I was a fan of her writing, but I was very happy with how well she does in the shorter novella length as well.

As many have said, this is the ultimate emotional look at a woman's insecurities and the man who causes her so much pain that she hides herself away from the entire world, including her own mother. You feel every bit of Lady Elaine Warren's pain and make it your own. It might not be your laugh, but everyone has something they are sensitive about and there's usually a person who is behind making you feel sensitive about it in the first place. Elaine is a character that all women can relate to and Mrs. Milan has described Elaine's feelings so exactly that you'll see yourself in them.

This little novella is also jam-packed with Evan's story and emotional journey as well and it's an interesting take to see inside the soul of a bully. It's even more interesting to see him redeemed in Elaine's eyes, but I love how this takes time and multiple levels of trust must be met first.

It's that layering of emotional depth and timeline of forgiveness and trust that Mrs. Milan creates that makes this novella such a stand out. It really does stand up to all the hype and it's made Mrs. Milan an auto-buy for me from now on. I hope she continues to write in the novella length because she excels at it! You also cannot beat the $.99 price on this one - it's a steal for an amazing story!

Do you like to read novellas or shorter length stories? Do you love that length or do you wish for more? Is there an author you think does novellas exceptionally well? Did you read Unlocked and if so what did you think of it?

Romance Book Review: It's In His Kiss by Caitie Quinn

Romance Book Review: It's in His Kiss By Caitie Quinn
5 Heart Review

Jenna’s been letting life pass her by as she works on her career. But, when she needs to do some research of this kissing kind, things may get a little more heated than she expected.

Research has never been so fun.

WARNING: This 10k short has no vampires, shape shifter or scorching sex, but it might make you snort your diet Coke out your nose.

A good friend of mine sent me this lovely little story and told me I'd enjoy it. She was right! Although it's only 10k long, this story really is a satisfying and complete read that had a voice exactly like I love to read - cute, witty, sarcastic and just plain fun. Throw in emotional depth and you've got a winner!

This is pure sweet sass and delivers to the reader one of my favorite parts of any romance - the meet cute. I loved it and it's sweetness.

I know some will be worried about the short length, but I thought it worked perfectly and at the end of the story I knew that this couple would have their HEA. It was almost sweeter to get to have the fun of thinking up their future together in your own imagination.

That's the thing with short stories, not everyone can leave you feeling like you got enough of the story. This story left me totally satisfied and smiling. Enough so that I've read it at least 3 times now.

So, if you like sassy, cute, emotional and witty sweet romances I would highly recommend this story to you. Even better? It's only $.99 for your Kindle at Amazon!

The Holy Grail of AudioBooks For Me: Audio Book Review of Maybe This Time by Jennifer Cruise

Audio Lovin: AudioBook Review of Maybe This Time
By Jennifer Cruise
Narrated by Angela Dawe
Brilliance Audio – Unabridged – 11 hours, 5 Minutes
Story – 5 Heart Review
Narration – 5 Heart Review

Andie Miller is ready to move on with her life. She wants to marry her finance and leave behind everything in her past, especially her ex-husband, North Archer. But when Andie tries to gain closure with him, he asks one final favor of her. A distant cousin has died and left North the guardian of two orphans who have driven away three nannies already, and things are getting worse. He needs someone to take care of the situation, and he knows Andie can handle anything...

When Andie meets the two children, she realizes the situation is much worse than she feared. Carter and Alice aren't your average delinquents, and the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. Complicating matters is Andie's fiance's suspicion that this is all a plan by North to get Andie back. He may be right because Andie's dreams have been haunted by North since she arrived at the old house. And that's not the only haunting...

Then her ex-brother-in-law arrives with a duplicitous journalist and a self-doubting parapsychologist, closely followed by an annoyed medium, Andie's tarot card-reading mother, her avenging ex-mother-in-law, and her jealous fiance. Just when Andie's sure things couldn't get more complicated, North arrives to make her wonder if maybe this time things could just turn out differently...

I loved everything about this story and audio book! The story is so unique and kick-ass. As I mentioned in a teaser post I wrote while I was still listening to this, this might be the best audio book I've ever listened to and it was a combination of a great story and a perfect narrator.

This is a reunited lovers story with so much more. The romance between Andie and North drives this story but around it are amazing sub-plots of these two children and also the possible ghosts. It's all so perfectly intertwined, wrapped and warped together that it's nothing less than engaging and addictive.

I literally sat in my car in my garage not wanting to get out and go inside. After a long day of work when all you want to do is get home and see the hubby and fur-kids, it says so much when an audio book can make me want to linger even longer!

Narrator Angela Dawe once again transforms herself into some amazing voices. She really got each and every character so dead on. And her voice for Andie transforms with her character growth and emotions throughout the story. Really excellent. She sets the tone of this story in a way that I'm not sure I would have given it if I were reading and I have to say that would be regretful. This might be one of the first books that I think is fully complete as an audio book.

It's almost like Cruise wrote this to be performed by Angela Dawe rather than as a print book. It's such a cast of characters that it screams out to be performed.

Looking for your first audiobook? This is it. It's also a great recommendation for someone new to Cruise or to audio. You'll love this!

5 Heart Book Review: No One Lives Twice by Julie Moffett

No One Lives Twice - A Lexi Carmichael Mystery
by Julie Moffett
Carina Press
5 Heart Review

I'm Lexi Carmichael, geek extraordinaire. I spend my days stopping computer hackers at the National Security Agency. My nights? Those I spend avoiding my mother and eating cereal for dinner. Even though I work for a top-secret agency, I've never been in an exciting car chase, sipped a stirred (not shaken) martini, or shot a poison dart from an umbrella.

Until today, that is, when two gun-toting thugs popped up in my life and my best friend disappeared. So, I've enlisted the help of the Zimmerman twins—the reclusive architects of America's most sensitive electronic networks—to help me navigate a bewildering maze of leads to find her.

Along the way, my path collides with a sexy government agent and a rich, handsome lawyer, both of whom seem to have the hots for me. Hacking, espionage, sexy spy-men—it's a geek girl's dream come true. If it weren't for those gun-toting thugs...

I read this book at the end of 2010, and if you follow me on twitter you already know that I raved about it for days. For my first review in 2011, I thought I would start off with a bang and say I LOVE THIS BOOK! It's not a romance - romance, but instead a mystery/comedy with the perfect mix of possible love interests. Seriously, there are two main men vying for Lexi's attention but without spoiling a thing I can say I'm TEAM ELVIS all the way!

The writing in this book was exactly what I love - witty heroine who's slightly awkward but all sass and full of awesome mixed with a wicked sense of humor and without that whole "I'm a girl and can't help myself" thing I hate so much. The wit and humor really made this book for me and I adored the character of Lexi and also the fabulous Zimmerman Twins.

The mystery was both a fresh idea and one that wasn't obvious from the start. I also loved that Julie keeps you guessing about if the two male leads are who they really say they are. Very fresh writing and an expertly crafted mystery!

Julie Moffett was a new to me writer and after reading this book I had to check out if she'd written anything else. Now, Lexi is definitely a new direction for her but I was blown away by the writing awards that she has won for her other books. They've been added to my TBR pile, but I really cannot wait for another Lexi mystery.

I cannot say enough about how much I really enjoyed this book and want more. I've actually already read it again over the holiday - I just couldn't help myself. Awesome read and an awesome new-to-me author. Check this one out if you like quirky, witty heroines who can take care of themselves with some serious brain power.

Happy Reading!
Cheeky Girl Sabrina

New Release Tuesday...

So today instead of featuring books that are releasing this week only, I wanted to show a couple of recent books that really caught my attention and are in my TBR pile. I hope you'll let me know what you think of my list and tell us what books in your TBR pile you are most looking forward to!

"I'm Lexi Carmichael, geek extraordinaire. I spend my days stopping computer hackers at the National Security Agency. My nights? Those I spend avoiding my mother and eating cereal for dinner. Even though I work for a top-secret agency, I've never been in an exciting car chase, sipped a stirred (not shaken) martini, or shot a poison dart from an umbrella.

Until today, that is..."

I first noticed this book on the Carina Press website and I MUST read it. From the blurbs, I'm hoping this is a slam dunk 5 Hearter for me. It's exactly the kind of story I love - I'm all about the Geektastic. Give me a geeky hero or heroine and I'm all over it. Click here to go read the full blurb, an excerpt from the book and for info on where to buy No One Lives Twice.

"One happily-ever-after rocking chair…

And no sign of any forthcoming babies to rock in ol’ Georgebury, Vermont. For Callie Grey, turning thirty means coming to grips with the fact that her boss (and five-week fling) is way overdue in his marriage proposal. And way off track, because Mark has suddenly announced his engagement to the company’s new Miss Perfect. If that isn’t bad enough, her mom decides to throw her a 3-0 birthday bash in the family funeral home."

I seriously love Kristan Higgins' books, and that's why I cannot wait to read All I Ever Wanted. Not only have reviews been great for this book, but I had my copy personally signed by Kristin at the RWA Conference so somehow that must translate into a super special awesome read right? Right? :) Check out this link to see more details and to read an excerpt.

"After the death of his wife and father, the Earl of Markham has spent the last five years fiercely guarding his emotions from involvement, including getting too close to his son. Then a blackmail threat shatters his impassive world..."

Leslie Dicken is a writer I'm keeping my eye on becuase I just know she's going to explode soon. Her book Beauty Tempts the Beast was one of my favorite reads of all of last year. A seriously awesome book that if you haven't read you should. Her newest release is A Tarnished Heart and I'm hoping it's every bit as good as BTTB was. Here's a link to Leslie's site and includes an excerpt.

Those are just a few from my pile - what about you? What book are you itching to read? Are there any upcoming releases you'll be stopping by the bookstore for on release day?

Audio Book Review: Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

Audio Book Review: Married by Morning

Written By: Lisa Kleypas
Performed by: Rosalyn Landor
Brilliance Audio Unabridged
9 Hours 52 Minutes
Writing: 5 Heart Review
Audio Performance: 5 Heart Review

He is everything she wants to avoid...

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters – a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges' older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response – and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

She is not at all what she seems...

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine's respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever – unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires...

I'm a big fan of Kleypas. I mean who isn't? But I've always read her contemporaries and had sort of purposefully ignored her historicals. Why? Because I think I could very well find myself reading her entire backlist of books to the exclusion of many other writers. Since I know Kleypas is a big name in romance and doesn't need a review here for people to know she has a book out, I narrowed my reading of her to comtemps because I feel there aren't enough of us singing the praises of the straight-up contemporary and how great they are.

When I received Married by Morning to review I decided to try out a Kleypas historical – and holy crap, what I have been missing! Married by Morning is now seriously in my all-time top books. One reason? LEO! Kleypas might have officially ruined me for all other romance heros. All that come after might see themselves compared to Leo and found lacking. My PERFECT HERO.

I loved almost every single thing about this book – pure perfection for me! Believe it or not, I loved it even more than I have many of her contemporary titles. The ending was slightly off from what I had expected, but not bad or anything that would have ruined the story at all. In fact, I thought there were many parts of the ending that brought the trust and relationship between Cat and Leo full circle.

Now, with all the Leo talk you might think that the heroine Catherine was only so-so or average. She was not at all. In fact, she was an amazingly relatable character that I found loving easy to do. Her quirky nature and imperfect looks – she wears glasses back when I imagine it was not at all fashionable for a women or man – made me root for her to match wits with Leo again and again.

As for the audio book performer Rosalyn Landor? One word: fantastic! Her changes in voice are slight, but you never question who is speaking as she inhabits each character completely. I loved how easily she was able to get across Leo’s cheeky tone when he’s trying to annoy Cat. Rosalyn’s performance really added to my love of both Leo and Catherine.

If you’ve been on the fence about trying audio books, this is one I can 100% say to try. It’s a great one to hear audio books at their best and with a great story to boot.

Again, I can’t say enough about how much I loved this book and now I’m doomed to reading Kleypas’ entire backlist of historicals. I’ve already gotten Love in the Afternoon that I can’t wait to start!

Happy Reading!

Romance Book Review: Crush on You by Christie Ridgway

Book Review: Crush on You by Christie Ridgway
Berkley Sensation
June 2010 
5 Heart Review

The Baci sisters are on a mission to save Tanti Baci - the winery that's been in their family for generations - by transforming it into the perfect wedding destination. 

If only they didn't need the help of the Bennett brothers next door...

Alessandra Baci is determined to makes sure the winery's first wedding goes off without a hitch. Unfortunately, the "Nun of Napa," as she's affectionately known n, has had some bad luck when it comes to nuptials, starting with her own wedding day five years before when her fiance didn't arrive at the alter. Still, she'll do anything to keep her promise to her father - even if it means enlisting the help of the sexy Penn Bennett...

Straight out of Hollywood, where he's the handsome star of prime time's hottest home renovation show. Penn is Alessandra's only hope for restoring the crown jewel of the Baci estate. Too bad the Bennett men, who own the winery next door and are the sister's greatest rivals, are off-limits. Becuase Penn would like nothing more than to teach the sinless "Nun of Napa" an unholy, hands on lesson...

I adored the opening scenes of this book - filled with humor, sadness, insight and immediately making the reader want to know who Alessandra is and what happened to her - it kicks off a book I read through in a single sitting.

The inital meeting between Alessandra and Penn doesn't disappoint, and neither does their chemistry throughout the book or how Ridgway layers both backstories along the way.

In fact, she perfectly weaves Alessandra's story in a way that keeps you wondering and never ventures anywhere close to an info dump. What's even better is how you can really understand how Alessandra feels about the town's view of her as "The Nun of Napa." This alone is proof that Christie Ridgway is a kick-ass writer and expert storyteller.

Hero Penn will amuse and his quest to prove Alessandra is no Nun will have you smiling as you fly through the pages. The little added details about being a TV star were layered throughout the story and ring completely true. It's a fun, fictional look at that life.

On a side note, there is a secondary relationship in the book that rocked my world and I would have begged for it to have been it's own book. Seriously - Can we do a prequel that ends during the same time frame? Maybe I need to send that request straight to Christie and her publisher.

This book is the first in a new series by Ridgway and I am so looking forward to the next ones as it seems they will include Alessandra's sisters and more Bennett brothers.

I've been reading a ton of funny, sexy contemporary romances lately and there is a reason - a good one makes my day. These are the stories I love the most - I'm a blogger that will shout out my love of contemporaries to anyone who'll listen. Contemporary Romance isn't dead - it's thriving with authors like Christie Ridgway setting the bar.

As always, I want to know - Have you read a book by Christie Ridgway yet? If so, tell us what you thought. Have you ever dreamed of visiting Napa? I know I have!

Audio Lovin': Audio Book Review of Reckless by Amanda Quick

Audio Lovin: Audio Book Review of Reckless by Amanda Quick
Performed by Anne Flosnik
Briilliance Audio Unabridged Version
11 Hours : 55 Minutes
Story – 3 Heart Review
Narrator – 5 Heart Review

At sixteen Phoebe Layton had imagined that Gabriel Banner was a brave and valiant knight, a noble-hearted hero born to rescue ladies in distress. Which was why, eight years later, when she desperately needed help to carry out a vital quest she could think of no one more suited to the job than Gabriel.

But when she lures her shining knight to a lonely midnight rendezvous, Phoebe finds herself sparring with a dangerously desirable man who is nothing like the hero of her dreams, and when he sweeps her into a torrid – and blatantly unchivalrous – embrace, she can’t help but fear that she’s made a dreadful mistake. It’s a kiss that will seal Phoebe’s fate. For now the exacting Earl of Wylde has a quest of his own: to possess the most intriguing, impulsive, outrageous female he has ever met…even if he has to slay a dragon to do it.

Right off the bat, I knew I was going to have fun with this audio book. The narrator (voice performer?) Anne Flosnik did excellent voices, and the hero and heroine had me wrapped around their little fingers very quickly.

This was audio book that had me literally smiling as I drove down the highway. First off, Anne does a wonderful job with the voices transporting you to the time period. What made me smile was that if ever there was an audio book made for a drinking game this is it and the narrator adds so much fun with her tone!

Just what do I mean? Well, without giving away any spoilers, I can tell you the hero and heroine are on a quest to find a book called the Lady and the Sorcerer. Now – take the word Sorcerer and make it Sore-soar-roar in a sing song voice and you have an instant drinking game! Mrs. Quick includes the title of the book so many times you’ll be drunk before you’re even past the first few chapters. It could have been insanely annoying, but again, the way the narrator says the line cracked me up every time.

My issues with this audio book didn’t involve the great narration. Instead, I was disappointed in the characters as the story moved forward. I adored the heroine Phoebe at the beginning of the story, but found myself falling out of love with her as the story progressed. Why? Because the author created such a smart, intelligent and witty woman in Phoebe and then made her seem to regress in intelligence and become more na├»ve as the story went on. Phoebe lost the wit and spunk she showed in the first few chapters and this made me lose interest in the story.

There were also a few parts of the story I felt didn’t feel right. Phoebe and Gabriel were smart and yet they only watch the front of a building when trying to catch a thief. Hello – everyone knows thieves don’t go in the front door! It felt like this part of the plot was forced and didn’t go well with what the characters would have thought to have done.

Gabriel was a hero readers will swoon over and Phoebe is great in the beginning. She’s still “her” at the end, but I just felt that the story didn’t hold up the promise of her character that was presented at the beginning. It’s like, LOOK – awesome strong historical female, and then she slowly loses her intelligence. I just shake my head as I write this because Phoebe rocked it at the start of the story.

I did get many chuckles – even beyond the drinking game phrases – and enjoyed listening to this historical romance. I will definitely be listening to more of Amanda Quick’s audio book and cannot say enough about how well Anne Flosnik did with the voices.

Book Review: Getting Lucky by Carolyn Brown – 5 Hearts


Book Review: Getting Lucky by Carolyn Brown
Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released: January 2010
5 Heart Review
Getting Lucky Amazon Link


That’s the main thing you should know about my thoughts on Getting Lucky by Carolyn Brown. You should also know that cowboy romances are some of my least favorite and somehow not only did I enjoy this one, I can say this was by far one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

Here’s the book description:

One Stubborn Cowboy Who’s More Than Willing To Cross Horns

When single dad Griffin Luckadeau thinks his new neighbor is scheming to steal his ranch out from under him to benefit her own daughter, sparks really being to fly…

One Hotheaded Schoolteacher Who Doesn’t Take Guff From Anybody

Julie Donovan moves to town, determined to leave her troubles behind. As soon as she meets the absolutely infuriating, oh-so-sexy cowboy next door, things quickly go from bad to worse…

Until these two Texas hotheads admit that it’s fate that brought them together, running from the inevitable is only going to bring them a double dose of miserable…

Everything about this book stood out for me. The writing is first rate – it’s smooth and enticing and makes you want to read every word. Since I’ve been known to scan over a few “boring” paragraphs in books before, that’s a big statement for me.

There is so much to this story and it never seems to overwhelm. I love how Carolyn added to the story with side plots and characters instead of taking away from Griffin and Julie.

It’s been a long time since anything close to a sweet romance did it for me. Lately, they’ve all made me want to scream that no one is that naive or goody-goody all the time. That’s why this book rocks. It has the timeline of a sweet romance, a way more believable timeframe where the hero and heroine really fall in love, but with the awesome hotness still sizzling between them. It’s a hybrid I hope I see more of!

I loved how seriously Carolyn’s characters seemed to take falling in love with each other, and how they considered what it meant for their kids and families. This story rang true with every page I read. Amazing that after reading so many Paranormals and Urban Fantasies (I love both don’t get me wrong), how I could connect so much with a book that read like seeing into my next door neighbor’s diary.

An insanely fantastic book, Carolyn Brown wowed me with this book and her expertise in crafting a perfect romance. Put me down as her newest Super Fan!

Check out Carolyn’s Website here.

Read the fun interview I did with Carolyn here.

Have any of you read Carolyn’s books before? What did you think? If not, what author have you read lately that really seemed to stick out above and beyond the rest?

Welcome Guest Maria Geraci – Author of the New Release Bunco Babes Gone Wild!

maria_book_wild You have no idea how excited I am to introduce our guest author today. Maria Geraci’s first book, Bunco Babes Tell All was my absolute favorite Summer 2009 read! So good, I actually read it twice in one month. Seriously. It’s the kind of book I hope for every time I crack open a new book.

Maria is not only an insanely talented writer, but a very nice lady and that’s why it’s such a pleasure to have her at Cheeky Reads today. In fact, she’s so nice she’s giving away a copy of of Bunco Babes Gone Wild to a lucky reader! Just make sure to leave a comment and you’re entered to win!

Now, please welcome Maria to Cheeky Reads!

Hi Maria,

Bunco Babes Tell All was your first book -- check out the 5 Heart Review from Cheeky Reads here. Please tell our readers a little about that book and it's characters and set-up your newest release, Bunco Babes Gone Wild.

First, let me thank you for allowing me to be a guest today on your blog! I love talking about my books, so this was a lot of fun for me.

Bunco Babes Tell All is the story of Kitty Burke and her tightly knit group, the Bunco Babes. Every Thursday night, they drink margaritas, roll dice, and gossip about the people in their small north Florida town. Kitty is the only Babe who’s not married. It’s been tough for her to find a guy- but all that changes on the eve before her 35th birthday when a mysterious stranger crashes her Bunco party to unclog her toilet. Luckily for Kitty, it’s not the only thing he “unclogs.” Basically, it’s a fun, quirky, sexy women’s fiction novel (how’s that for adjectives?)

The follow up book, Bunco Babes Gone Wild, picks up a few months after BBTA ends. All the main characters from the first book are present, but there’s a new heroine- Georgia Meyer. She’s what I like to call the “anti-Babe”. Unlike Kitty, the heroine from the first novel, Georgia isn’t a girl’s kind of girl. She’s a workaholic accountant who’s never really made time for the simple pleasures of life. She comes to visit her sister in Whispering Bay, Florida, and immediately becomes embroiled in the Babes’ antics. Plus, there’s this hunky guy who makes her rethink her current love life…

You have your own Bunco group that helped inspire you to create these stories. Are your characters modeled after your friends? If so, how do they take seeing their personality traits played out in your books?

My own Bunco group, the Bunco Broads of Tallahassee, helped inspire the friendship angle of the books. But the characters aren’t based on anyone in particular. It’s funny, my friends will point to a character and say, “Is that me?” I always answer, no! 

Like most readers I'm all about connecting with the hero and heroine in a book. So, I always ask authors to describe their hero in three words.

For Steve I’d have to say: cautious, reliable, mysterious.

For Dave (the hero in BBGW): funny, loyal, easy-going (uh, oh, is that four words?)

What about your heroine? What three words would best describe her?

Kitty is loyal, self-conscious, vulnerable.

Georgia is smart, driven, but clueless. 

What was it about their story that you drew you to them or made it fun to create their HEA? I loved them so I have to ask!

Kitty is an “every woman” kind of character. In my book, Steve refers to her as “the nice one.” I think that there are a lot of “Kittys” out there. Women who are pretty, smart, nice, but maybe a little (or a lot) self-conscious about their looks, their jobs, their own sense of self-worth. Initially, I wasn’t sure what sort of ending I was going to give her. Since this is women’s fiction, I knew I’d give her a HEA, but not necessarily because she’d found a man. After I wrote the shower scene between her and Steve, I knew I wanted to give her a HEA plus a man! And you know, Steve wasn’t a pushover. Any guy who’s been married and divorced 3 times is going to come into a relationship with a lot of baggage, so I had to make her work for it. 

What has been your favorite Bunco Babes scene to write so far and why?

The Black Tie Bunco party scene in Bunco Babes Gone Wild has so far been my favorite to write. Partly because there’s a lot going on. There’s action, romance, a little drama, and hopefully a lot of laughs. But also because once I wrote that scene the rest of the book seemed to just fly for me. 

Does Bunco Babes Gone Wild give us an update of Kitty and Steve from Bunco Babes Tell all? 

Kitty and Steve are secondary characters in BBGW and while I loved writing them, I had to be careful not to give them too much to do in the story, otherwise I was afraid they’d take it over!  I’ll be honest, I’m not really through with Kitty and Steve. I would love to write a direct sequel to their story, but so far, that’s not in the works. Maybe I’ll write it up as a short story and put it on my website as a free read. Mmmm… now that’s an idea.

Everyone I've spoken to about Bunco Babes Gone Wild loved it! How does it feel as a new author, to have that kind of excitement over your work? Any fun reader/fan stories you can share with us?

Having someone write to me or tell me they enjoy my stories is like being a kid and waking up Christmas morning! It’s like the best feeling in the world.

I had a reader write to me whose husband was in the military and they went through long separations. She told me reading my book has rekindled her feelings of love (and lust!) for her husband. I felt so touched that she’d take the time out of her busy life to write me. 

Read any good books lately that you would recommend to our readers? Authors always seem to have the inside track on great new authors!

I’m an avid reader of all things, but of course, I love romance! Can’t Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards is a fantastic read. For a fun, campy, spooky YA try: Bite Me! by Melissa Francis. Now, in all fairness, both Mel and Louisa are my critique partners, but I wouldn’t be critiquing their work if I didn’t love what they write. I recently finished According to Jane by Marilyn Brant and I can’t recommend that highly enough. I also love historical romance. Anything by Madeline Hunter is on my immediate buy list. She has a new series coming out in January and I’m practically drooling just thinking about it. She writes the best heroes. Ever.

Where can readers find you next and is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I’m going to be doing some local book signings in both Florida and south Georgia to promote the new book, and I’m really looking forward to that. In between and afterward, you can find me glued to my computer! I have a late January deadline for my next book so I’ll be hard at work getting that finished. Right now, that book is tentatively titled The Boyfriend of the Month Club. It’s a not a Bunco Babes book, but I think it’s just as fun and sexy and quirky. At least I hope my readers think so!

Maria, thank you so much for the great interview and for being with us today!

So, Cheeky Readers what questions do you have for Maria? Have you ever played Bunco? What’s book have you read recently that you would recommend? Let us know and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Bunco Babes Gone Wild!

Special Bonus: Tweet or blog about this giveaway and you’ll get an extra entry! Just mention it in the comments with a link.

Sorry, this contest is open to US residents only. Winner will be announced on Thursday Nov. 5th. Good Luck and Happy Reading!

Book Review: Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl

Book Review: Start Me Up
By: Victoria Dahl
HQN Books
5 Heart Review

Lori Love is yearning for something more

Lori had always planned to get out of tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado, but when her late dad left her his beloved auto body shop, she'd stayed. Now, according to her crazy best friend, Molly, what Lori needs is some excitement, in the form of hot, no-strings-attached sex...and lots of it.

Quinn Jennings has buildings on the brain – not love and romance. A serious architect, he's delighted to discover that Lori is willing to skip dating protocols and head straight for the sheets. And aided by the steamy books on Lori's bedside table, he's busy indulging both of their wildest fantasies. But when life in Tumble Creek takes a dangerous turn for Lori, Quinn's protective instincts kick in.

Suddenly he cares. More than either of them expected...

Ok, here's my review in a nutshell: BUY THIS BOOK! Then, buy Victoria's entire backlist and be first in line for every new release.

I'm beyond excited to have read my first book by Victoria! She's a fantastic writer who combines quick whit, strong female characters, sexy as hell love scenes, and an overall interesting plot into a fantastic read. Authors like Victoria are why I love to read and why I created Cheeky Reads in the first place. She gets readers like me and what we want. It's like she read my mind before writing Start Me Up!

Many Authors talk of writing the book of their heart, but I'd like to suggest that there is also the book of the reader's heart. Start Me Up might not seem like a contender since it's not weepy, dramatic chick-lit, but it’s very, very close to being my perfect book.

Maybe it's because I identify completely with Lori. Seriously, I think I AM Lori. From living in a small town and the desire to escape that town and travel the world, to being the caretaker of a handicapped parent and dealing with their passing, I am very like Lori. The list goes on and on as to how much of myself I saw in Lori. Oh, how I hope I can live up to Lori's wit and um...well we won't discuss the “other” side of Lori I'll never be able to live up to!

Victoria's books are the epitome of Cheeky Reads and she deserves her own special designation. I formally announce that Victoria Dahl will be known forever more here at Cheeky Reads as “Cheeky V!”

Long may Cheeky V write!

(TIP: Victoria released a new historical romance recently titled One Week As Lovers. So...Umm...maybe you know...check that out!)

Cheeky Book Review: Bunco Babes Tell All by Maria Geraci

Review:Bunco Babes Tell All
By Maria Geraci
Berkley Books
5 Heart Review
Buy From Amazon

Woman cannot live by Bunco alone!

Meet the Bunco Babes of Whispering Bay. Every Thursday night they roll dice, drink frozen margaritas, and catch up on all the gossip in their small north Florida town. Kitty Burke is the only Bunco Babe who is still single – which is okay – but she's thirty-five and may need to face the fact that her image of Mr. Right is all wrong.

Take Steve. Very sexy, but – with three failed marriages and a shady career – on paper he is not great husband material. And yes, his ringtone is “Free Bird.” Fellow Babes Shea and Pilar certainly vote thumbs-down. But maybe there's more to Steve than meets the eye? Is it time for Kitty to take a chance and hope that she can be as lucky in love as she is in Bunco?
Sometimes I run across a book that I enjoy so much that I can't help but wish the characters would invite me over to play sometime. That was exactly how I felt after reading Bunco Babes Tell All by the very talented Maria Geraci! In fact, I've wanted to crash her Bunco night and beg her to be my friend – since I only live a few hours away I've really had to restrain myself!

This book gave me the same sense of longing for a group of strong female friends as Sex and the City had. These women are not only believable, but you'll want them as your closest pals. They'll be your support network and the ones making you laugh out loud. They come to life as you turn the page, and I felt deeply connected to them. It takes a great writer to pull the reader in so deeply and I can't wait to read the next books in Maria's Bunco Babes series.

The story of Kitty and Steve was delightful to read and I loved them as characters. Each is interesting in their own right which makes the payoff when they come together even better! From the first meeting that includes bathroom humor, mistaken identity AND a male stripper, to the obstacles they overcome, I was under their spell. This book's characters had me thinking about them days after having finished the book and I'll be happily following their relationship in the coming Bunco Babes books.

This book is a fun, sassy, laugh out loud read that will leave you looking for your own Bunco Babes group, and counting the days til the release of the next book in the series! (Hint – It's soon!) I finished this book weeks ago, and I've been itching to pick it back up for a re-read for the past few days! I really loved it and know my copy will be worn and dogeared before the end of the year!
This book has perfect beach read written all over it! What book would you recommend for the beach or to take on vacation?

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REVIEW: Hounding The Pavement by Judi McCoy - Win a Signed Copy!

Hounding The Pavement
By Judi McCoy
5 Heart Review

Ellie Engleman, the newest dog walker on Manhattan's swanky Upper East Side, has a talent – besides scooping poop. She can hear what her canine clientele are thinking. So when an owner is killed, Ellie must perk up her ears and bone up on her sleuthing....

Ditching her dog-eat-dog career and cur of a husband, Ellie happily trades her power suits for a panty-hose free wardrobe and her dream job. And she couldn't be happier – unless of course, Mr. Right shows up at her door with a pint of Haagen-Dazs.

But when she stumbles upon a dead client, Ellie becomes a suspect in an investigation led by smoking-hot, if cocky, Detective Ryder. Ellie wouldn't exactly mind staying in his custody – if it meant sticking close by him 24-7 – but she worries about the deceased's missing prizewinning bichon. Did someone steal him? If only she could find the dog, he'd tell her who the culprit is. But a killer wants Ellie to let sleeping dogs lie...or else.
I'm a huge fan of Judi McCoy's Goddess Series and was delighted to hear she was trying a new mystery series – particularly one with a heroine who can talk to dogs! Hounding the Pavement is an excellent mystery wrapped in humor, with wit and a steamy romance! One thing is for sure, this isn't your grandmother's mystery. It's part of a new breed that includes more sexual steam and a greater emphasis on the romance.

I love Ellie! She's a fantastic character and I would love to step into her shoes for a day – especially a day when she gets all hot and heavy with the super sexy Detective Sam Ryder! I think women will identify with her attitude and fall in love with her upbeat, spunky personality. I sure did!

Detective Ryder is the hero I love to root for. He's a man who's been hurt in the past and is afraid of being hurt again. But, you know he'd be there to rescue you in a pinch and he loves his job even if it's not glamorous. What I found refreshing were the cute insights into the lighter side of his character such as his refusal to obey parking restrictions and bribing his officer buddy to lose the tickets. I love that he's an officer of the law who likes to work around it sometimes.

The addition of the premise that Ellie can speak to animals is done with expert skill. You never feel that it’s annoying or too much to believe. Judi makes you believe it! I can envision my own dogs making the same comments to me and having the same conversations with other dogs. It helps that Judi doesn't make the rest of her world unbelievable. That makes the dogs talking an extraordinary thing in a normal world and gets the reader to more easily accept the idea of talking canines.

I loved this book and think you will too. Beyond the good story, is terrific writing that makes it easy to fall in love with the characters and want to come back to them again and again. I guess it’s a good thing that Judi's second book in the series comes out later this year!

Enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Hounding the Pavement! Just leave a comment telling me what you think your dog would say to you if he could talk, or why you love romantic mysteries! I'll draw randomly from all the comments on Friday the 29th!

This giveaway copy was happily purchased with all of Judi's royalties from the book going to benefit the Best Friends Animal Society. Support Best Friends and get a terrific book in the process by puchasing Hounding the Pavement today!

CHEEKY REVIEW: Vexing the Viscount by Emily Bryan

Vexing the Viscount
By Emily Bryan
Leisure Historical Romance
Dorchester Publishing
5 Heart Review

Sign me up for everything Emily Bryan ever writes! With this post, Cheeky Reads officially awards it's very first 5 Heart Review to Vexing the Viscount by the very talented Mrs. Emily Bryan!

Read the back cover copy:

As children they'd sparred with play swords. She's scarred his chin, and he broke her heart. Now, more than a decade later, the true battle was only beginning...

Daisy Drake needed Lucian Beaumont, Viscount Rutland. Tired of being labeled “on the shelf,” she craved adventure. And Lucian held all the clues to a long-buried Roman treasure. Surely, her desire to join his search had nothing to do with his dark curls and seductive Italian accent. Too bad Lucian wanted no help from her – until she donned the disguise of an infamous French courtesan and promised to teach him all she knew about the pleasures of the bedchamber. Of course, she only knew what had been written in naughty books. But Daisy had always been a quick learner. And night by naked night, they'd discover treasure neither expected to find.
From the very first page Mrs. Bryan grabbed my imagination and took it on a sassy, seductive ride. Daisy is everything I love in a historical heroine – smart, adventurous, quick-witted and most of all, she goes after what she wants!

Our hero Lucian will steal your heart with his underdog status, inexperience and endearing personality. His interactions with Daisy/Blanche will make you giggle out loud while you root for him to keep her on her toes.

This book started off with a perfect first meeting between the two and then never lets up. The pacing was excellent and the sparring between Daisy and Lucian is delightful. The story never dragged, and the ending left me with the perfect combination of feelings - amused, satisfied, light-hearted and happy.

I'll be purchasing Mrs. Bryan's entire backlist and will be the first in line for any new releases! Check out Emily's Blog, website and the supercool additional blog she writes at the Chantelaines.

Do you enjoy Historical Romances? You already know I love my heroines cheeky, but what about you? What kind of heroine do you love to read about?