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Review: The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire #1) by Jennifer Probst

The Marriage Bargain

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A marriage in name only…

To save her family home, impulsive bookstore owner, Alexa Maria McKenzie, casts a love spell. But she never planned on conjuring up her best friend’s older brother—the powerful man who once shattered her heart.

Billionaire Nicholas Ryan doesn’t believe in marriage, but in order to inherit his father’s corporation, he needs a wife and needs one fast. When he discovers his sister’s childhood friend is in dire financial straits, he offers Alexa a bold proposition.

A marriage in name only with certain rules: avoid entanglement. Keep things all business. Do not fall in love. The arrangement is only for a year so the rules shouldn’t be that hard to follow, right?

Except fate has a way of upsetting the best-laid plans…

 

The Marriage Bargain is the eleventh (11) book I’ve read using the Scribd service and the first book in the “Marriage to a Billionaire” series by Jennifer Probst. This book is currently on sale at Kobo for $7.99. Jennifer Probst is a new to me (NTM) author that I discovered using the Scribd recommendation engine.

I’m not really sure what made me read The Marriage Bargain. The book only came on my radar due to Scribd’s recommendation engine…and since Scribd really doesn’t carry the majority of the books I’m looking to read…I am substituting books I’d normally pass (or borrow) so that I get the most use of my Scribd trial. But the cover of The Marriage Bargain looks…sexy. 🙂
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Review: Parlor Games Anthology – Fallen Angel by Jess Michaels

Parlor Games

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Do you dare open the door and enter a place like no other?

In these three historical tales of sensual awakening, nothing that stimulates and titillates is taboo, ecstasy comes in many sizes, and pleasure is its own reward . . . a world of seduction and sensation, where inhibitions are unlaced and desires long corseted are gloriously freed. . . .

Fallen Angel – Jess Michaels

London’s greatest beauty and most notorious madam employs the services of a disgraced Bow Street Runner to keep her safe from a stalker . . . and satisfied after dark.

 

 
Meh. Really, really meh.

Parlor Games was the third book I read using my Scribd trial. Scribd introduced me to Jess Michaels via the book Everything Forbidden – and suggested this title since I read Everything Forbidden. As of today this book is on sale at Kobo for $9.99. Since this story is part of an anthology I that already priced – I’m still counting this as book 3.

The heroine, Arabella, is being threatened. After receiving multiple written threats and surviving several attempts on her life, Arabella calls on Valentine, former Bow Street Runner, to protect her and pretend to be her lover.

Most of the short story focused on the sexual power plays between Arabella and Valentine – they both have been hurt by relationships – but these sections felt a little forced. To be honest, the entire story felt a little forced – especially the HEA. I did not believe in the HEA and I really didn’t enjoy [the story] that much.

I was able to figure out the antagonist from the first moment they were introduced on page. Meh.
 

 
90 Day Scribd Trial
3rd Book Read
Current Price of Book: $9.99
Total Cost of Books read: $21.97
Total Amount Saved: -$5.00 (price of all books read minus price of service ($26.97))

DNF Review: Dangerous Secrets (Dangerous #2) by Lisa Marie Rice

Dangerous Secrets

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Small-town librarian Charity Prewitt never dreamed she’d meet and fall in love with a man like Nicholas Ames. The handsome, rich, charming, sexy-as-hell millionaire blew into tiny Parker’s Ridge, Vermont, and immediately rocked her world. Powerful, sensual, the perfect man, Nick knows all the right words—and all the right spots to touch, sending her soaring to dizzying new heights of ecstatic abandon. Never before has prim and proper Charity leapt into bed with a perfect stranger—and now that she’s there with him, nothing is going to drag her away!

But Nick Ames is not who he claims to be. In truth, he is Nicholas Ireland—the one they call “Iceman.” A former Delta Force operator, now a high-level undercover agent, he will do whatever his government asks of him—lie, seduce, betray . . . even kill, if necessary—for the sake of the mission. And this time his mission is Charity Prewitt.

Suddenly one woman has broken down his chilly restraint and ignited his passions completely. And before the erotic dream turns into a nightmare, will Charity be able to melt the Iceman’s cold, cold heart?

Dangerous Secrets is the ninth (9) book I’ve read using the Scribd service and the second book in the Dangerous series. This book is currently on sale at Kobo for $9.99. I was already aware of the author and the series prior to joining Scribd.

I had to stop around 25% and then I skimmed the rest. This one was really hard for me because it included a trope I despise and it had a bad guy with an extremely compelling and sad backstory.

The bad guy in Dangerous Secrets, Vassily, is a broken man. He was a young, famous and idealistic writer in Russia directly after the fall of the Soviet Union. He and his beloved, a beautiful poet named Katya, were at home in bed when they were arrested by the secret police for no reason and given no trial.
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Review: Enticed (Pregnancy & Passion, #1) by Maya Banks

Enticed

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Bryony Morgan has come to New York for answers–and she won’t accept a brush-off from the father of her unborn child. She fell for wealthy hotelier Rafael de Luca when he courted her for her beachfront real estate. Then he disappeared. That’s because a crash has left Rafe with selective amnesia. But how could he ever forget a combustible beauty like Bryony? His solution to their stalemate: return to the island where they met, and relive the unforgettable nights in question–until he remembers everything….

“Top Pick! […] An extraordinarily moving romance with wonderfully charismatic protagonists.”
–RT Book Reviews on The Tycoon’s Secret Affair

ENTICED was originally published as Enticed by His Forgotten Lover

 
Enticed is the first category romance that I have read by Maya Banks. Strangely enough, Maya Banks wrote the very first menage book that I read. I guess you can say that she helped to break me into reading erotica. So when I saw Maya Banks’ name on a HQN category romance, I had to grab it.

Enticed is – at first glance – a pretty typical Harlequin Presents story: ruthless business tycoon hero and innocent, financially needy heroine. At first glance.

The biggest differences – to me – was the general lack of angst, lack of conflict and the hero’s grovelling. Which greatly changed the tone of the book for me.

Enticed begins with the hero, Luca, at a public event and suffering from amnesia. He sees a woman glaring at him so he goes to speak to her and she informs him that not only had the two been in a relationship but that he’s going to be a father. The rest of the majority of the book revolves around Luca and Bryony trying to recover Luca’s memory.

There is very little angst in Enticed until the end of the book. There is little to no conflict in the book. I have to admit that the lack of angst and conflict really…made the book slow and boring for me. I was never emotionally invested in Enticed and I can barely remember the MCs names.

Although I found Enticed boring and slow, Maya Banks’s writing is still very polished and a pleasure to read.

Review: Good Girl Gone Plaid (The McLaughlins #1) by Shelli Stevens *light spoilers*

Good Girl Gone Plaid

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Falling for the bad boy is even more dangerous the second time around.

In high school Sarah fell for her best friend’s older brother—one of the sexy, Scottish McLaughlin boys. But a painful betrayal showed her she’d been a fool to give her heart to a bad boy. At least it made it easier to leave him and move halfway around the world when her Navy dad got stationed in Japan.

Eleven years later, the death of her grandmother has forced Sarah back to Whidbey Island for a month. It’s the length of time she must stay in her inherited house before she’s allowed to sell it, take the money and run. But when she sees Ian, bad as ever and still looking like sin on a stick, she can’t keep her mouth from watering.

One look at Sarah stirs up the regret lingering in Ian’s heart—and never-forgotten desire lingering in his body. He should walk away, especially since divorced single mothers aren’t his style. But when she starts showing up at his family’s pub, he can’t resist a little casual seduction for old time’s sake.

One thing quickly becomes clear, though. The heat between them is causing an avalanche of secrets and betrayal and nothing will ever be the same.

Product Warnings
A bad-boy hero who’s good with his hands, a heroine who’s trying to be good. Contains liberal consumption of Scotch whisky, a Highland Games competition, men in kilts wielding large poles, and a potential Sarah McLaughlin of the non-musical kind.

I…don’t know what to say about this one.

It is not my favorite.

The writing is fine – good, even. The characterizations, etc all worked well. I can’t say that I met a lot of cut-out characters….

But come the fuck on. There’s suspension of disbelief and then there’s taking disbelief into the back shed and shooting it.

Good Girl Gone Plaid has two of my hated tropes: a secret baby and revisionist history. Revisionist history is technically “the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event.” What I mean in this specific situation is that the text takes events that are known by all parties and then changes the understanding of that history based on newly received information. Work with me here…

When Good Girl Gone Plaid started I was enjoying myself, for the most part. I could tell the author wanted to take me on a more angsty ride than I was looking for but the angst made me roll my eyes more than get the feels. So I kept reading. As I read I kept thinking…these two people are really tripping considering that they were only dating a short period of time. As the book continued and I learned why the couple broke up (in high school), I still thought they were taking their issues farther than expected. Then the secret baby showed up. And I rolled my eyes.

I hate secret babies because I do not feel that there is any real justification for keeping a parent and child separate. I mean, life and safety are the only real reasons to do so…and the heroine in this book did NOT have those reasons. So it pissed me off something fierce.
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Review: Dangerous Lover (Dangerous #1) by Lisa Marie Rice

Dangerous Lover

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“I don’t want to be alone tonight.”

Caroline Lake can hardly believe she would ever say these words to someone she’d never met before. When a tall, dark stranger arrives wanting to rent a room in her beautiful empty shell of a mansion, she hesitates. Though she is in dire financial straits, the man looks dangerous—dangerously sexy. She’s overwhelmed by the desire he sparks in her—hotter than anything she’s ever felt before, making her ache to experience his sensuous touch. But who is this armed and mysterious man with danger following in his wake? He’s not who she thinks he is . . .

Jack Prescott has wanted Caroline forever. He has spent the past twelve years dreaming of her, desiring her, while fighting in some of the worst hellholes on earth. Now he’s back, with twenty million dollars in blood diamonds and a relentless enemy stalking him. But this time Jack’s determined that nothing will stop him from finally making Caroline his.

Dangerous Lover is the fifth book I’ve read using the Scribd service and the first book in the Dangerous series. This book is currently on sale at Kobo for $9.99. I was already aware of the author and the series prior to joining Scribd.

I am pretty well acquainted with Lisa Marie Rice and her characters/style of writing. While I can often find things about her characters/style of writing that bother me – more often than not I am interested and entertained by her work.

Which is why I’m so surprised that this one really didn’t work too well for me at all.

Dangerous Lover is the fifth (?) book I’ve read by Lisa Marie Rice and the second book I’ve read in her Dangerous series (the first was Dangerous Passion). Like the rest of her books, the hallmarks of an LMR book were all there: damsel-in-distress, wealthy but deadly hero, obsession by the hero, short time frame, dainty heroine, large hero. These I expected.

What I did not expect is the…complete lack of real relationship building or real discussion. Or the imbecilic plot-arc of the villain.
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Under Her Skin by Jeaniene Frost, Meljean Brook & Ilona Andrews

under her skin

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Three short stories of paranormal romance…

“Pack” brings you a tale of a lost hiker and her encounter with some very frightening–and sexy–wolves. A female werewolf helps a sheriff track down a killer “In Sheep’s Clothing.” A woman must repay her family’s debt to a shapeshifting magician in “Grace of Small Magics.”

Please note: Each of these stories previously appeared in print in The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance. This is a collected e-book edition of Ilona Andrews’, Jeaniene Frost’s, and Meljean Brook’s contributions.

Pack by Jeaniene Frost: I both liked and didn’t like this one. My major problem? I don’t like deception in books. It…just makes me uncomfortable most of the time. Unless the person being deceived is the bad guy. Continue reading