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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.
 

 
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Review: Kiss at Your Own Risk (Soulfire #1) by Stephanie Rowe *spoilers*

Kiss at Your Own Risk

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He needed a killer woman…
Blaine Underhill is one lucky man after having recently escaped a century and a half of imprisonment at the hands of an evil witch. Now he’s determined to save his still-enslaved friend, but in order to do so, he’ll need the help of one of the world’s most lethal women.

She was drop dead gorgeous, literally…
Trinity Harpswell is sick and tired of being a Black Widow. Having managed to go three years without accidentally killing anyone she loves, she’s one short week away from freeing herself from this killer curse forever.

When Blaine tracks her down and convinces her to help him, little does Trinity know that the next seven days are going to be murder!

 
Kiss at Your Own Risk is the tenth (10) book I’ve read using the Scribd service and the first book in the Soulfire series. This book is currently on sale at Kobo for $5.79. Stephanie Rowe is a new to me (NTM) author that I discovered using the Scribd recommendation engine.

I don’t know what to say…this wasn’t what I expected it to be. At all.

Let’s start with worldbuilding: it didn’t exist. That’s not completely fair – the world building existed but it was not explained to the reader in any way. You really just have to go with the flow for this one…and my extensive experience with reading paranormal romance (PNR) tells me that the author’s world in this series is one in which magic in all its PNR shapes and sizes are run of the mill, everyday activities. Ok. So let’s walk into the book with that assumption.
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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.

Box of 1Night Stands Anthology Review: Dominique Eastwick, L.J. Garland, & Desiree Holt

Box of 1Night Stands

Decadent Publishing presents some of the very best of the 1Night Stand series featuring NYT and USA Today Bestselling authors Jennifer Probst, Jen McLaughlin (writing as Diane Alberts) and J.M. Madden, along with 18 other trendsetting authors such as HOLT Medallion winner Desiree Holt. When Madame Eve arranges a date, you are guaranteed more than you’ll ever expect. More heat, more heart, more SIZZLE…

Strawberry Kisses – Dominique Eastwick
Can two introverts gamble on love and win…with the help of Madame Eve and a bowl of Strawberries anything is possible.

Dead or Alive – L.J. Garland
She’s a bounty hunter on a mission…but when she captures her man, will she shoot him or kiss him?

Night Mission – Desiree Holt
For Navy SEAL Gabe Walker his one night stand with Maggie Fitzpatrick might turn out to be his hottest mission yet.

As a recap:

Box of 1Night Stands contains 21 stories by 21 different authors. Each story is roughly connected to each other by the framework of a dating service named “1Night Stand” run by Madam Evangeline. The dating service allows people to pay absurd amounts of money to be hooked up with someone “suitable” and willing to have a night of sex. The service includes reservations to one of the Castillo hotels and resorts (owned and run by one of satisfied 1Night Stand clients). Madam Evangeline seems to be the world’s best match-maker as all of her single night stands turn into committed relationships. Thus far the included stories are all either vignettes or very short shorts. Most seem to be between 3-5 chapters long as well.

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Review: Dating Cupid by Eve Langlais

Dating Cupid

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Roxanne knows where she’d like to shove Cupid’s arrow.

Tired of cheating men and false promises of love, Roxanne launches a campaign against Cupid’s Dating Service. But it’s hard to smear a company when you’ve got the hots for the owner.

Maverick Eros is more than the CEO of CDS, he’s Cupid himself. However, forget the media images of a chubby diapered cherub because the god of love is actually six feet plus of yummy, muscled male.

When they meet, sparks fly–the lusty kind–but they both know from experience, love hurts. In the end though, they’ll learn that love will have its way with them with or without the aid of Cupid’s arrow.

I love this short story and I’ve read it numerous times. 😀

It’s a little cheesy, lots of fun and there are laugh out loud moments. I adored both characters and I thought the plot was adorable, as well. The book is totally a one, two punch of “insta-lust” and “insta-love” but it totally works for the book! Langlais has a very different and hilarious take on the old Greek story of Cupid and Psyche.

Roxanne, demi-goddess and daughter of Lady Luck (Fortuna/Tyche), is having a terrible time finding a mate. For years, no matter who she dates it always turns out badly. At the urging of friends and family, Roxanne signs up for the popular Cupid’s Dating Service (CDS) – but when that goes horribly wrong she ends up boycotting the service. Until the day Roxanne meets the CEO, Maverick Eros. From the moment that Roxanne and Maverick meet they are attracted to each other – love at first sight – but past hurts cause them to mistrust and miscategorize their feelings.

Roxanne and Maverick fight their attraction but the instant they see each other again, the sparks fly.

Dating Cupid is a romantic comedy but Langlais still manages to put some real substance in the characters and their situation. Roxanne has been hurt by men who were supposed to love her and Maverick was duped by his cuckolding ex-wife, Psyche. Both characters had to find it within themselves to trust that this “love” thing was actually real.

One of the more interesting aspects of Dating Cupid for me was the change to the story of Cupid and Psyche. Greek Mythology says that Cupid and Psyche were star-crossed lovers who are finally united after much trial and tribulation. Dating Cupid turns Psyche into a devious schemer who used and never loved Maverick and Roxanne stars as Maverick’s true love – and they are finally united after much trial and tribulation.

This is a short but fun story that I only wish was longer. Recommended!

Review: Tempting Tamera (Circle of Three #1) by Brynn Paulin

Tempting Tamera

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A new job, a new home, a new lifestyle… When teacher Tamera moved to Cranston to teach, she knew the lifestyle she’d encounter would take some getting used to. Though she was raised in an open-minded household she doesn’t have experience with menage relationships therefore her attraction to her fellow teachers, Kai and Brian, takes her by surprise.

When the trio is stranded together during a freak snowstorm, Tamera discovers her attraction isn’t one sided. In fact, the men have been waiting for the opportunity to show her how perfect three can be.

 

 

Tempting Tamara is the fourth book I’ve read using the Scribd service and the first book in the Circle of Three series. This book is currently on sale at Kobo for $2.50. I located this book using Scribd’s search but I was doing a specific search for Brynn Paulin at the time. The book I was looking for is not available on Scribd.

So. This book. I was looking for something else by this author and settled on this book instead.

Tempting Tamera is short. Very short. And like most shorts – there are serious pacing issues due to the shortness of the story.

Short stories are really hard to write – the format is pretty unforgiving. I also tend to “grade” shorts harder than full length novels simply because the flaws are glaring in a short that would get glossed over in a full length.

So. Tempting Tamera. Uuuugh. The dialogue is quite often painful! And the plot is…hard to digest in such a short period of time. The story starts with the heroine and hero(es) having known each other for about…3 months or so. Even knowing that – the quick jump from making eyes at someone to being “in love” happened waaaaaay to fast for me. I was rolling my eyes most of the read.

Another issue I had was the introduction and plotline of the heroine’s….pre-arranged boyfriend? Not quite sure what to call him, to be honest. The whole situation was BS and caused additional eye rolling. Don’t get me wrong, I love a little menage and the plot (except Andy) all probably would work better in a longer format. The longer format just gives more time for character and plot building.

At the end of the day, this was an easy way to burn through 20 minutes or so.
 
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