Saturday, June 30, 2012

Early Review of Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Heather Wells Mystery, #4) by Meg Cabot

Heather Wells has been through a lot. Once a pop music teen sensation, she hit a downward spiral that landed her broke, abandoned, and without a place to live or a job. Eventually she managed to get back on her feet and is now the assistant director of Fischer Residence Hall for New York City College attempting to get a degree when she is just shy of 30. She's slowly pieced her life back together and is recently engaged. Just when things start looking just about perfect her ex-boyfriend, Jordan, and his new wife, Tania, show up on campus.

The two are producing a reality TV show called the Tania Trace Rock Camp. As the name implies it's a music camp. The camp is for a group of talented hand picked 14 to 16 year old girls and it's going to be held in the very residence hall that Heather is in charge of. Coincidence? Not by a long shot, the camp originally was to take place in the Catskills. Someone is attempting to kill Tania, the woman who ultimately ended Heather's 10 year relationship with Jordan when she found the two in bed. Amidst all the chaos and confusion an invading television reality show with rebellious and spoiled teenage girls can bring, she and Cooper, her fiance, try to find who is behind the death threats and keep Tania and everyone else safe.

If all that wasn't enough Heather and Cooper still haven't broken the news their engagement to his family. Things are bound to get awkward because Jordan, Jean's ex-boyfriend, is Cooper's younger brother.

This was a very fun read. I hadn't read any of the Heather Wells Mystery series before, but didn't feel lost at all. I loved the characters especially Heather and the way no matter what was thrown at her she kept her cool. She has a good head on her shoulders and seems to have a good perspective on life.

When Heather and Cooper first come across Jordan and Tania they find out her bodyguard has been shot. While they play it off as just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, we quickly learn someone is trying to kill Tania when her field producer, Jared, is murdered. With a little digging Heather finds out Tania has a secret she doesn't want to get out that is coming back to haunt or perhaps more accurately hunt her. So throughout the story people are on high alert for the killer who appears to have a chameleon like ability to blend in with his or her surroundings.

Cooper, who is now a fully licensed private detective is hired by his family's company, Cartwright Records Television, to protect Tania. So while Heather attempts to get everything ready for the campers who will be invading her Residence Hall, Cooper is protecting his sister-in-law. As you can imagine given Heather's past with Tania, she still has some fears of her stealing Cooper.

Overall I gave this 4 out of 5 roses. It kept my attention and had a nice amount of humor mixed in to the mystery. Heather and company seemed to have a 3 dimensional quality to them that made the book that much more entertaining and enjoyable. I actually just put the first 2 books of the series on hold at my library and need to figure out how to fit them into my reading schedule.

Order of Series:

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Scandalous Scot by Karen Ranney

  • Title: A Scandalous Scot
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Format: Paperback, 384 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (June 26, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0062027794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062027795
  • Author's Website:

Morgan MacCraig had come back to Scotland after a bitter divorce that left him a pariah of London society. Divorce was considered scandalous and all but one of his friends had turned their backs on him. Never mind that his wife would sleep with everyone but him. He had had enough of London society and woman. He decided to go back to Ballindair Castle, his boyhood home.

Jean MacDonald and her sister, Catriona, had fallen on hard times and had come to Ballindair Castle to escape poverty and scandal. The scandal associated with the two sisters was so bad they'd been forced to use a false last name. While they were born to a higher status, they now were working as maids on the estate.

When Catriona devises a plan to elevate her position from maid to mistress, Jean attempts to stop her. The only problem is Jean gets caught in a new scandal with Morgan. That compounded with the scandal she's trying to keep secret could be Jean's and Catriona's undoing or salvation.

I truly enjoyed this one. Ms. Ranney infused her tale with a little whimsy when she added in a few ghosts which reportedly haunt the Scottish castle. I truly thought it gave us a nice insight into Jean's psyche by letting us know that while things might have gotten rough, she hadn't been completely tainted by the events in her life and has become an avid ghost hunter. As the story progresses, we see she's very loyal and feels responsible for her younger sister. While Jean resigns herself to her new life and position in society, Catriona seems to be rebelling against it and has gone a bit wild, which makes things very difficult for Jean. 

Morgan MacCraig, Earl of Denbleigh, has lived in the shadow of his seemingly perfect father. He didn't take lightly the shame he brought to the family name when he divorced and had not done it on a whim. It takes two to make a marriage, and he learned shortly after marrying his wife that she wasn't all that interested in him. It had been his title and fortune she'd been after. Strange how one bad decision can sometimes alter a person's life.

While some stories have a character you love to hate, I thought it unique that Ms. Ranney threw in Catriona and Andrew, each of who I almost instantly disliked and wanted to throttle. They aren't exactly bad guys just a little self absorbed and ignorant as to how their actions affect others or, perhaps more accurately, just don't care how they affect others. They added another dimension to the story as well as some extra drama. Additionally, through their selfish actions they set the romance between Jean and Morgan in motion or, at the very least, sped it up.

One of the fun things about this story is that Jean tries to convince Morgan they shouldn't get married. She tries to debate her way out of it, and with each reason she states as to why they should not get married, she endears herself even more to him. I think it's Jean's reluctance to get married that makes Morgan decide a marriage between them is a good idea. What Morgan doesn't realize is that it is something that lurks in her past that makes her reluctant.

Overall I really enjoyed this one and gave it 3 1/2 roses. It's the type of story that puts a smile on your face and puts you in a good mood. I loved the fact that Jean is not 'perfect' by society's standards, but she's got spunk and is forthright with everyone--two things Morgan truly needs. I liked how Jean had to come clean with Morgan about her past and how he seemed to take it in stride. I admit that I thought the scandal would be more scandalous, but for the day and age this story took place it would have been. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Release Day Review of A Most Naked Solution by Anna Randol

Lady Sophie Harding's husband died three months ago under suspicious conditions. Now new evidence suggests she may have been involved. A witness has come forward claiming to have hear two men talking about killing Viscount Harding the night he was murdered and of a woman who supposedly plotted it all. Now Lord Camden Grey will need to question Lady Sophie and after a little investigating there's no doubt in his mind she's hiding something. The question is what?

Lady Sophie was in an abusive marriage. She wasn't sad to see her husband gone, but she has suspicions of her own as to who did it. Her father and brother had left her home shortly before her husband's death armed with the information that he'd been abusing her. She fears they had something to do with his death and she's doing her best to hush everyone up who might know something. The question is how to convince Lord Camden of her innocence when her actions seem to suggest the opposite?

When someone makes an attempt on Lady Sophie's life, however, the question becomes who would want both Lady Sophie and her husband dead?

Lady Sophie is a strong woman who survived an abusive marriage. Still haunted by the past, she's attempting to rebuild her life. She'd known before his death just how big a scoundrel her husband had been, but since his death she'd begun to learn more of the details. She knew there were many who'd have a reason to kill her husband, but hadn't a clue who would want to kill her.

Lord Camden had been a friend of Sophie's brother when he'd been in school so he'd known her and her family. He'd earned his title while in the military and it had been years since he'd last seen Sophie. When information was relayed to him that a woman may have had something to with the Viscount's death, he wondered if the young girl who'd listened outside her brother's door could possibly have grown into a murderer. When an attempt was made on her life, however, his protective instincts went in to full effect.

Overall, this book got 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. It had a nice blend of drama and romance. I could sympathize with Sophie and the plight of woman in her time who didn't really have a lot of options, if any, when they were in an abusive marriage. I enjoyed the mystery of who murdered the Viscount and attempted to do the same to Sophie. I liked watching the relationship between Sophie and Camden grow into something quite the opposite from that of her marriage. Additionally, I loved seeing Sophie gain self confidence and stand up for herself. I also enjoyed watching Sophie and Camden work together to solve the murder. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one got a STEAM rating - too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Early Review of Once Burned (Night Prince, #1) by Jeaniene Frost

They say no good deed goes unpunished and for Leila, aka Frankie, it could never have been more true. She can sometimes see a person's past or future with just a touch. When she bumped into a woman named Jackie, she learned she'd been having an affair and was going to leave her husband. She also learned Phil, the woman's husband, had learned of the affair and was going to kill her in a most methodical way, so that no one would have any chance of identifying her in the unlikely event her body was found. Knowing what she did, Leila couldn't let the man get away with his perfectly planned crime. So without much thought about her own future she spoke, "Stop them...He's going to kill her." She didn't realize that her actions had just started a snowball of trouble that would keep getting bigger finally gaining the attention of some ruthless supernaturals who saw her curse as a tool they could use. A tool to finally bring down one of the baddest and most notorious vampires ever to walk the face of the earth--"Vladislav Basarab Dracul", also once known as Vlad the Impaler and more popularly as Dracula.

I always enjoy Ms Frost's books and this one is no different. In Once Burned, we meet Leila Dalton. She's smart, strong, sassy, resourceful, loyal and tells it to you straight. She acquired special abilities when she came in contact with an electric power line that should have killed her. Not only can she see a person's past and future, but if she comes in contact with an object she can also find where they are at present or will be in the future. She also has a much more "shocking" talent that she picked up that day. She emits electricity when touched. She's the equivalent of a human taser gun, but she can't control it. She shocks anyone who comes in contact with her. This effect makes for a very lonely life. Luckily for her, she met Marty, a vampire whom the voltage didn't affect unless she has contact with him for more than an hour. The two had become friends and created an act for a carnival. While Leila was looking for Marty at a local restaurant she'd encountered Jackie, the woman she'd bumped into. That was the day her life would forever be changed. By a slight quirk of fate Jackie's sister was a TV news reporter. Lelia (aka Frankie) and her talent had been outed.

We also get to learn more about the mysterious Vlad and his background. We've all heard the stories of Dracula, but do they depict a true picture of the man? We get to see two very different sides to Vlad and get some insight as to what molded him into the man he is today. The two halves that make the whole of Vlad up are like night and day. On one hand he is a gentle, tentative lover and on the other a cold ruthless killer and a man to be feared.

While you would think that Leila and Vlad would end up enemies, especially since she's forced to find him for his enemies, the two end up on the same side--Team Vlad. Part of what I believe attracts Vlad to Leila is that she's not too afraid of him to speak her mind. Additionally, with her talents she'd be quite useful to him. The big problem for Leila is she doesn't want to get involved with Vlad. Everyone she know warns he'll break her heart. That he's incapable of love. Even Vlad states, "I can give you honesty, monogamy, and more passion than you can stand, but not love. That emotion died in me long ago, as I suspect you already know.”  But when you're extremely attracted to another individual who knows your every thought, he's got the advantage. When that other individual is Vlad, well, your fate is probably already sealed before you know it. The man does not play fair.

Some (there were oh so many it was hard to whittle it down) of my favorite moments:

-  “You think my blood is the only tie between us?"
   His voice was low, yet edged with palpable hunger. It seemed to rub me in places I'd only ever touched before, making my anger fade under a flash of desire. Vlad was so close that his hair was a shadowy veil all around me, and when he began to caress my face with light, sure strokes, it was all I could do not to close my eyes in bliss.
  "This is our true tie. You're meant for me, and I will have you.”

-  "Give me a break. Another reasonably good-looking dead guy would rev my engine, too, so don't break your arm patting yourself on the back."
  "You're deluding yourself, but as I told you, I don't run away from challenges." Vlad said, stroking the tight stubble along his jaw. I refused to follow the movement; staring at his mouth would only lead to more thoughts of that vision. 
  "Let's put it to the test..."

- "If I felt nothing more for you than lust, Maximus would be on that pole for a week, and you, my lovely interloper, would not be here right now."
  Hardly the words you'd find on a Hallmark card, but they caused a glow of happiness nonetheless.

- "What other surprises do you have in store?" I asked, adding dryly, "Let me guess: Your the real Roman commander that Russell Crowe portrayed in 'Gladiator'."
  He chuckled, running his hand along my arm and not drawing away as the currents that flowed into him. 
  "No, but with the right incentive, you could get me to wear that short leather skirt and pretend to be."

Why the name Once Burned? Well, there are many possibilities, but I didn't see any definite moment in the book that clearly spelled it out. It could be I was so enthralled that I just missed it. I'd venture a guess it had to do with Vlad having bad experience with people and hence getting "burned" by them. He even warns Leila to remain frightened of him and never to betray him. The second possibility is that Leila has a scar which ran from her temple to her right hand where she was burned from the electricity. The third possibility is that someone Vlad literally once burned to death might be what the title is referring to. With so many possibilities, this book was very appropriately named.

Overall, I could not help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I'm really loving the story line and Vlad. I fell in love with the world Jeanine Frost created after reading her first book Halfway to the Grave and have been a big fan every since. I've been waiting for Vlad's story since Ms. Frost first mentioned it would be forthcoming and Ms. Frost delivered all that she promised. Can't wait to read the next book in this spin off from the Night Huntress series.

If you're a fan of the Night Huntress series this is a MUST READ. There are cameo appearances by Cat, Bones, Mencheres, and Kira, but everything else is all Vlad and Leila. The majority of book takes place in Vlad's home country of Romania. The heat between Vlad and Leila is electric and smoking hot. The pages sizzle with the sexual tension and energy these two transmit. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Night Prince series:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Early Review of Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood

  • Title: Sweet Talk
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Romantic Suspense
  • Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (August 7, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0525952861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525952862
  • Author's Website:
  • To read an excerpt: Click on 'Read an Excerpt' button on top left hand side of screen at Penguin's Sweet Talk Page:

'Olivia MacKenzie was certain she would have been offered the job if she hadn't punched the boss during the interview. But knocking the man senseless turned out to be a real deal breaker.'

Many people claim to have had the worst job interview ever, but no one can hold a candle to Olivia MacKenzie's claim. While interviewing for a position as an attorney for an investment firm she asked the wrong question at the wrong time which lead to the owner ripping her top in search of a nonexistent wire. If that wasn't bad enough, he sent his body guard on her and made death threats. Luckily, the FBI who had been investigating the man, was close at hand or she'd probably have ended up with worse than being backhanded in the face. While at first, the whole incident seemed to be an event that would be written off as an unlucky quirk of fate, it turned out to have one good thing come out of it, Olivia met Agent Grayson Kincaid, a man who reminds Olivia of Bruce Wayne. He's now assigned to protect her in case that death threat becomes something more than a threat.

I just adored this book. While you can't always judge a book by the cover, this one you can. I didn't realize how much I missed the view of a man in a suit till I saw this cover. I swear the testosterone just oozed from the pages every time Gayson made an appearance and an earthy, clean male scent seemed to waft from the pages. *sigh*

Agent Grayson Kincaid is not your typical agent. He loves what he does or he wouldn't do it. He's actually quite wealthy and could do whatever he wanted or nothing at all. He finds his position with the FBI challenging. Perhaps that's what he also finds attractive in Olivia as well. It was fun to see him try to convince her to give their relationship a chance. Plus, the initial struggle he had to try to resist his feelings for her because agents aren't supposed to get involved with the people they are supposed to protect was fun as well.

Olivia is a smart, tough, sweet, strong person who is beautiful inside and out. When Olivia was eleven she came down with an illness that at the time was considered fatal. She was sent to DC for some experimental treatment and never went home. The treatment was a success and she left the hospital with three lifelong friends who'd undergone the treatments with her. They'd all managed to survive, but she lives in constant fear that the illness will one day come back even though blood tests and scans prove otherwise. Perhaps it is that fear that at times makes her a little reckless. It also keeps her from getting into a serious relationships.

Now grown up, Olivia is an attorney working for the IRS. Due to budget cuts she's looking for alternative full time position in case her old one gets the ax. That was the reason she ended up at the worst job interview ever. But working for the IRS is not her only job, she also does side work for a couple of judges for children's advocacy on the weekends and evenings. They say experience in our lives mold us, and in Olivia's case, it is definitely true, and her childhood experiences led her in the direction of helping children. She would have loved to do the work full time, but it was an emotionally demanding job, or perhaps she just allowed it to be because she cares. It was not uncommon for her to put her life in jeopardy to help one of her kids out of a dangerous situation because she cared so much.

No one really expected Eric Jorguson, her once prospective employer, or any of his men to come after Olivia once he realized his error. Grayson's standing watch over her was just standard procedure, a precaution if you will. When an attempt is made on her life, the question becomes was it Jorguson or someone else? Between her two positions, she's made a lot of enemies who wouldn't mind seeing her dead. That includes her father--with whom she's had a strained relationships since the age of 11, when her illness blemished his illusion of being the "perfect" family and whom she suspects of shady business practices.

Why is the title named Sweet Talk? Well, in the book Olivia and Grayson have a discussion about sweet talk at an intimate moment. That, I believe, is where the novel gets its name.

Overall, this was a great read and I gave it 5 out of 5 roses. I thought it had a wonderful blend of romance and drama with a dash of humor mixed in. I enjoyed trying to figure out who exactly was after Olivia. I loved seeing the two fall in love and the fact that Grayson had to basically chase Olivia because she really wasn't looking for a permanent relationship. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Side Note: If you're a fan of Ms. Garwood's historical romances and haven't yet tried one of her romantic suspense novels (or vice versa), they are quite a bit different. To attempt to compare the two would be a little like trying to compare a nectarine to a peach. While both are a juicy rounded self contained fruit, one can be warm and fuzzy (historical romances) while the other has a slightly tougher interior and less soft exterior (romantic suspense). At the heart or pit, if you will, they are both romances, but some will prefer the sweet flavor of one to the other while others will savor them both. I mention this because if you go in expecting one type, you might be in for a surprise. If I hadn't been told who the author was when I first read Heartbreaker I'm not sure I would have guessed it was Ms. Garwood. I'm guessing this is why some authors use pseudonyms when they change styles, genres, and/or subgenres.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Release Day Review of The Reckoning (The Taker, #2) by Alma Katsu

  • Title: The Reckoning (The Taker Trilogy)
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Paranormal
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (June 19, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1451651805
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451651805
Author's Website:
Notes: Contains rape and murder, but is slightly less dark than the first one.

It had been three months since Lanny ended the life of Jonathan, the love of her life, per his request. She and Luke have become close since then, and she'd promised to never leave him. That she'd spend the rest of his life with him. For the first time in Lanny's life she was with someone who took care of her and cherished her. It endeared Luke all the more to her. The relationship had changed her, grounded her and she was content.

She'd always known someday she'd have to once again face her maker.The one who'd made her immortal. She shouldn't have made a promise to Luke she might not be able to keep because now, after hundreds of years of feeling nothing of Adair's presence, she began to feel a slight humming. At first she didn't recognize it or understand what she was feeling, but soon enough she understood it for what it was--the presence of the one man she never wished to cross paths with ever again, Adair.

For two hundred years he's been imprisoned in a space no larger than a closet with no food and no contact with the outside world or another individual. He's had two hundred years to plot and scheme about how he'd get his revenge on the two individuals who had entombed him within the walls of his own home. Two hundred years to think about all that he's done and wishes to do. Two hundred years of solitude are about to come to an end.

This is the second book of The Taker series. In the first book, Lanny was introduced to Adair's dark world when she'd been sent off by her parents to a convent in Boston to have the baby she and Jonathan had conceived. She'd never made it to her final destination. She'd gullibly accepted a ride with a couple who said they'd take her to where she needed to go. That had sealed her fate and that of the unborn child she'd never give birth to. She'd been inducted into a world of sin and indulgence where nothing was sexually unacceptable and refusal was not an option. When Lanore comes down with a fatal illness, Adair shed his own type of mercy on her and made her immortal.

At first she was seduced by Adair's world of over indulgence, lack of morality, and what most would see as sexually deviant behavior. Lanny, however, was not like the others although she didn't know it. You see, she did have a conscience, and she fell out of favor, or so she thought, with Adair when she attempted to save an underage girl from Adair's world and her ultimate death. Adair's punishment was designed to humilate and make the bearer afraid to ever again deviate from his wishes. Then she'd found out about his plot to switch souls with Jonathan, and that was when she decided to find a way to stop him, and when she saw a means to do so she took it. That had been two hundred years ago. Now she was fleeing for her life. From what she knew of Adair there would be no mercy.

In The Reckoning, we learn more about Adair. We find out how he became immortal and some of the things which molded him into the man he became. When faced with everlasting immortality one can see one's self as Godlike. Adair has no conscience, no one to account to for his actions. Being locked up for two centuries had done a number on him, but he was determined to get back to where he wants to be. He'll need to relearn how the world works because so much has changed. He'll also need to get back on his feet because all his possessions and money are gone. He'll not only attempt to track down Lanny, but also all his old converts who are still beholden to him and owe him their allegiance.

We also get to get a glimpse of the life that Lanny and Jonathan led after they first fled Adair. Ms. Katsu incorporates a touch of history, which centers around Lord Byron, into the mix. We learn more about Luke and the family he left behind. So if you read the last book, it was written similarly to this one where Ms. Katsu changes points of view to let you know what all the crucial players are thinking.

When Lanny feels Adair's presence she knows she needs help. She seeks out some of Adair's former prodigies hoping for their assistance. What she hadn't counted on was that not everyone resented Adair. She'll need to be careful in order to stay one step ahead of him.

There are a couple of quotes I'm going to list from The Taker that I feel are crucial to this book. The first is, 'I couldn't say, even to Jonathan, the heart of my secret fear--that my happiness mattered to know one, not even to my father or mother.' This is the key to understanding what makes Lanny tick. She wants to be loved. It also, I feel, answers the off handed question that Adair indirectly posed about Lanny, "I sense something about're a kindred spirit in some way that I haven't figured out yet. But, I will." He has also never felt loved, but once upon a time sensed it in Lanny before he did the unthinkable to her.

Overall I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I'm loving the series, but I'm not sure what I think about Adair in this one. His character at one point seemingly does a total 180 and it just seems a little out of character. This could be a brilliant move setting up for the next book or it could be showing a weakness much larger than an Achilles' heel. That's the reason I'm torn between a 4 and a 5 rose rating. I can't wait to find out in the next book. By the way, Adair's change of character brought to mind a quote by Mae West that I felt catches Adair's essence in this one, "When I'm good, I'm very good. But when I'm bad, I'm better." lol While I don't necessarily like Adair at his worst, I think that some of that badness could never permanently disappear. It'll be fun to see what Ms. Katsu has planned for the next book. I just wish we didn't have to wait.

Order of the series:

Also, three is a novella (short story) you may that can be read in between The Taker and The Reckoning:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Early Review of Somebody Like You (Sugar Shack, #3) by Candis Terry

  • Title: Somebody Like You: A Sugar Shack Novel
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance/Paranormal (Ghost mom)
  • Format: Paperback, 368 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Impulse (July 17, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0062202073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062202079
Author's Website:

Kelly Silverthorne just lost one of her biggest cases. To date it's the only case she's ever lost. Going in, she'd been so confident she could put the bad guy behind bars and once again make the streets of Chicago a little safer for all. However, her super powers for winning cases, had finally met their match and Kelly now felt the guilt of that loss. She'd done her best, but she couldn't help thinking she should have somehow done better. In her defense, it's very hard to convict someone of murder without a body. Sadly, the victim's death would never be avenged.

Now she's going home for her brother's wedding and some much needed R&R. She had planned to go back to the windy city and once again fight crime from behind her briefcase, but that was before she realized she truly missed her family and wasn't as motivated as she used to be to do her job. It had seemingly lost it's allure.

Deputy James Harley was glad to see Kelly back in the tiny town of Deer Lick, Montana. He'd been waiting for her return. They'd had a one night stand, and he'd not been able to get her off his mind ever since. She'd somehow gotten under his skin. He knew she was out of his league, but there was something about her that he just couldn't resist. So to get her to loosen up and start thinking about him again, he decided to make her a wager, that he could once again get her to succumb to another night of his wily charm.

This is the third installment of the Sugar Shack series by Candis Terry. The Sugar Shack is a family owned and operated bakery that Kelly's mom, Letty, used to run with her father before she'd died. Her father stills bakes, but her sister, Kate, has taken over the reigns giving the place a new flair as only she could do. Kelly's sister and brother, Dean, each found their true love with the help of dear old mom who'd come back to haunt them in a good way. Now it was Kelly's turn to be the focus of Letty's motherly advice.

James is a known player who dates a ton of women, but swears that he never dates more than one at a time. He's had that bad boy thing down pat since his teens and now that he's one of the good guys sporting a badge, he's even more attractive than ever. This is one wager Kelly won't lose any sleep over, well maybe one night's worth, if she loses. But throughout the story James challenges Kelly on many different levels--too see the natural beauty of things and be a little wild and find her hidden talent. He basically opens up the world to the girl once given the nickname by her siblings of Sister Serious.

At one point in the story, a little girl mentions the book Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. She talks of how Max tames the 'Wild Things' and then gets to go home. I think that nicely sums up this book at a couple of different points. First for the little girl, which I won't go into detail, but secondly, for James' and Kelly's relationship as well. Kelly tames the Wild Things which are Alex and James and gets to go home. A new home that includes James and his brother Alex who lives with him. Each of whom is in their own way, a bit wild and lost. So, in a way, this one might very well qualify as a fairy tale remake.

FYI, I really thought the cover was a nice touch to the story. Someone, who shall remain nameless, teasingly suggests they'd like to put the two little dogs, Princess and Poppy, into pink dresses with bows, but doesn't do it. So after reading the book take another look at the cover and smile at the inside joke and remember that moment. It's actually a pivotal point in the book because someone comes to a realization at that moment.

This was a fun and lighthearted read that at times, left me shaking my head, grinning, and laughing out loud. My daughter kept asking me what was so funny, and I'd respond, "Oh, nothing.'  Yep, she knew it was the book, and I wasn't sharing.

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. Sometimes the brilliance of a book is lodged within the details for which it holds, and I believe this is one of them. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. Between this book and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, I'm starting to look at bakeries in a whole new way. lol

Order of Series:

And the Winner of 'Ride With Me' and 'About Last Night' is...


Winner of 'Ride With Me'  and 'About Last Night' by Ruthie Knox is:



Thank you to everyone who entered.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Early Review of The Search (The Secrets of Crittenden County #2) by Shelley Shepard Gray

When most people think of the Amish, they think of a tranquil god loving people living a simple life. While that is true for the most part, even they can't always escape the evils of the outside world that they live among, yet separate from. Perry Borntrager, one of their own, strayed from the fold. He got addicted to drugs and his downfall was noted by pretty much everyone in the small community. People attempted get him back on the right path, but sometimes when addiction takes hold, it just isn't always possible. If the person doesn't see what they are doing to themselves, or others, no help can be had. Now after a period of being missing, Perry's body has been found and there is no doubt that he has been murdered.The police are attempting to find the murderer, and people are being questioned, stories being collected, and possibilities are being raised.

In the midst of the grief and sadness his death was stirring, an attraction that seems ill fated begins to stir between Frannie Eicher and Luke Reynolds, a detective working on the case. When Frannie becomes the main focus of the investigation, things get complicated between the two. Frannie had broken off her relationship with Perry the day he'd died and evidence suggests she lied or at the very least didn't give a full disclosure of the events that transpired that fateful day. In Luke's line of work, you can never discount anyone. Everyone is a suspect.

This was the second book of The Secrets of Crittenden County series. I didn't really feel lost by not reading Missing, the first book of the series, but it did seem there was some past history that would have been nice to have seen between Luke and Frannie. So if you want to get the full details of their relationship I recommend reading the first book prior to reading this one.

This was the first Amish romance I've ever read and I was thankful I'd taken German in high school or some of the words may have thrown me. The use of the word gut, however, had me totally confused until I realized it was not referring to gut as in the bodily organ, but rather to the German word gut which means good. Oh, and in case you're wondering, gut is pronounced goot like good with a 't'.

I have to say that Frannie seemed much older than I believe she is, and she runs the Yellow Bird Inn. That is very unusual for a woman to do in the Amish community; it was bequeathed to her by her aunt when she passed. She is a likeable character who had hoped to save Perry when he obviously lost his way. On the day he died, she realized he was beyond any help that she could offer. She had finally come to the realization their paths were going in different directions. He wanted to move away for Crittenden County, but to her it would always be home. So she'd left him  figuratively and literally and never saw him alive again.

There are many people who are potential suspects. Perry was not the person he once was and had burned a lot of bridges and upset a lot of people on his downward spiral into drugs. While the 'Search' is on for the murderer in this book, it won't be until a later book that the killer will be found.

Overall, this one gets a 2 1/2 out of 5 roses. This was an okay read for me, but I don't think I'll be making a habit of reading Amish romances. It was a sweet love story, but had a rather slow pace. This may have been done deliberately by the author to mimic the lifestyle of the Amish where nothing is really rushed. It also was a very religiously rooted story with a lot of talk of God. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a SMILE rating--a lady always tries to be polite so a smile should suffice (ie no heat whatsoever). I actually enjoyed the secondary love attraction going on between Chris and Beth more because I got to see the beginning of their relationship as it happened. I'm hoping they'll be the subject of the next novel in the series, Found.

Notes to keep you in the know:
If you are curious about Amish words, here is a website that tells you what they mean and how to pronounce them:

Pictures of Amish:
Above photos were found on Photobucket.

Order of series:
Found comes out September 4th

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Early Review of Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O'Keefe

  • Title: Can't Buy Me Love
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Format:  Paperback, 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (June 26, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0440423074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440423072
  • Author's Website

Lyle Baker had a plan to get his family to visit him. Tara Jean Sweet had agreed to go along with the scheme because he was offering her a portion of the Leather fashion design company she had helped to bring back from the brink of bankruptcy. Lyle was dying and he wanted to see his kids one last time. He couldn't claim to have been a good father, but in his own way he loved his kids. Perhaps he just wanted to make amends or maybe he just wanted the opportunity to control them one last time. One thing was for sure, he figured an invitation to his wedding, which included a picture of him and Tara, would send his family scrambling to his side to stop him. After all, millions of dollars were at stake and Lyle was a master manipulator. He knew how to push their buttons.

Luc Baker didn't wish to go back. He'd put his past and his father behind him a long time ago. His childhood home did not hold any fond memories, and he didn't want the feelings his father had instilled in him as a child to awaken ever again. While he didn't need his father's money, for he had plenty of his own, his sister, Victoria, was another story. Too proud to take any of Luc's money, she was financially challenged and had felt, after the awful childhood she'd endured at her father's hands, she was owed her inheritance. She'd been counting on it to see her through. Lyle knew all this, and he knew his son would never let his sister down. So despite being handed the news by his physician that his career might be over, Luc escorted his sister home to his father. He was prepared to deal with his father. What he wasn't prepared for was Tara. She wasn't what he expected and wasn't like anyone he'd ever met before. While his father may have done a number on him, Tara might just be his undoing.

They say first impressions are important, and they are, especially those our parents have of us. They can lift us up or bring us down. They can emotionally scar us even if no one else can see the wounds. It's those scars, hidden deep within us, that can haunt us for life and, if we let them, allow the one person we shouldn't let control us to do so years after the physical or emotional abuse has ended. That is the one things Luc and Tara have in common.

Luc had done all he could to stay away from his father. He'd built himself a career as one of the best hockey players and had hopes and aspirations of bringing the Cup to his team in Toronto. But what he hadn't realized was that he was still tormented by what had transpired all those years ago. While he no longer sought his father's approval, a portion of him still bought the BS his father had tried to sell him all those years ago, that he wasn't good enough. He'd thrown himself into his career and, other than his sister and mother, distanced himself from any serious relationships.

Tara had been raised by a mom who really didn't have time for her and finally kicked her out at 16. That was when she'd fallen in with Dennis, a scam artist, and had paid for it dearly when she tried to get out. That is how she ended up in the same hospital as Lyle nearly five years ago. She's tormented by her past sins and Lyle managed to build up her self esteem by offering her an honest job as a designer of a leather clothing line with his company Baker Leather. Later, he'd offered her financial security by way of a percentage of Baker Leather in exchange for her going along with his plans to stage a fake engagement. While Lyle was compensating Tara for her help, he was also setting her up to be in a bad position when he passed. He left his kids thinking she was a gold digging tramp who had targeted their dad.

My favorite quote:

"We're more than our mistakes...More than our past. We can be more than the things we let define us."

I truly enjoyed the book and gave it 4 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed the drama created when Tara's past came back to haunt her. I loved watching Luc and Tara come to terms with their pasts. I loved how Luc seemed to figure out Tara so quickly. It kind of tied in to they way he was with his teammates. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one scores a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Release Day Review of Heat Rises by Alice Gaines

  • Title: Heat Rises: A Cabin Fever Novella
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
  • Format: Paperback, 144 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Red (July 17, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0062210513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062210517
Author's Website:

"We're business people. We negotiate all the time." he said. "We'll make a deal."
"What kind of deal?"
"Give me the time we have here. A few days until the tow trucks show up. Once we leave this cabin, I'll never bring this or six years up again."
"What do you get, aside from the obvious?"
"I want everything you promised me six years ago," he said. "All of it."

Laura Barber was on her way to a job interview when a blizzard struck. She'd attempted to drive the remaining distance to her destination when her car skidded off the road and got stuck. Stranded in an area with no hotels she needed to rely on the kindness of a family in the area to take her in. She was just talking to the store owner about trying to find something when HE walked in. She hadn't seen him in years, not since college and had hoped never to see him again. She'd admired him from a distance in college and on one fateful night, after she'd drunk a little Tequila for courage, she propositioned him in a way most men wouldn't have turned down, but HE did. She had avoided him ever since.

Ethan Gould had never forgotten Laura or the proposition she'd made. She'd always been the shy and quiet type and her proposition of an 'anything goes' night of passion seemed out of character and had left him stunned and wanting all those years ago. It had been obvious to him she'd had a little too much to drink and so he had turned down her offer. He'd always considered her the one that got away. When he came across her that night stranded and in need of a place to stay he wasn't going to let her get away twice.

I got this book from Avon, and I don't normally read erotic romances although I have a few authors whose books are labeled erotic that border on the cusp of being a regular romances that I do read. Basically, the pain/pleasure thing just doesn't work for me and this has a touch of that in it. I have read a couple that do delve into slightly more erotic territory that are part of a series, and you'll usually notice a slightly lower rating on those books. I downloaded this one without even noticing that the publisher stated it was erotic. It was the first erotic romance they'd ever requested I read and so it didn't even dawn on me that it might be one. So while this wasn't exactly my cup of tea romance wise, I did think it was a cute story.

So what did I like? I liked that the two had some history before they got stranded and got all hot and bothered with each other. It makes the romance somehow more believable when they have some inkling who the other is, although I can see how a two strangers meeting and falling for each other would also hold some appeal. I also enjoyed how Laura seemed to take control of the situation and Ethan just tried to go along with whatever she proposed. I wasn't expecting that because he was the one who propositioned her this time. 

I'm kind of on the fence as to how I feel about Laura. In some ways she's a strong and smart woman, but she's a bit wishy washy as well. It's obvious that she's always wanted the kind of relationship she and Ethan have, but basically denounces it at the same time when she declares it to be a one time deal. I found it interesting that Ethan is the only man Laura's ever felt comfortable enough to make this type of proposal to. Perhaps she felt so humiliated by his prior refusal that she'd never dared to ask anyone else? One thing I would have liked to have seen is some sort of inner struggle that was resolved by Laura alone about her wants or wishes. I think that would have added a little more depth to the story.

Overall I gave this one a 2 1/2 out of 5 roses. I felt the author did a good job of packing a lot into this short story, and making sure it didn't have that rushed feel to it that many novellas do. There were some things I liked and other things I didn't. Keep in mind erotic romances aren't really my type of romance and the rating would have probably have been 3 1/2 if they were. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one lives up to the erotic label with a SHOWER rating--a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning - make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. lol

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Infamous (Chronicles of Nick, #3) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

  • Title: Infamous: Chronicles of Nick
  • Classification: Young Adult (Ages 12 and up)
  • Genre: Paranormal
  • Format: Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (March 13, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1250002826
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250002822
Author's Website:

'Kirast kiroza kirent. Conceived in violence to do violence and to die violently. That was the promise written in the first language, on the Malachai symbol.'

Is fate the master and we it's puppets? Can we escape our DNA, our destinies? Can we make our own future or is our path defined, unmovable, and unchangeable? Nick is destined to be the next Malachai, a violent ferocious demon. It's in his blood and from what we've seen Nick will at some point walk the tightrope between his two halves--the loving side his mother has nurtured and the cruel side that is part of his Malachai nature.

Now someone or something is trying to frame Nick for some cruel things being said and done to his classmates. They are spreading lies using enough truths to make the lies seem plausible and they're pointing the finger at Nick. Will it be enough to push Nick over to his darker side or will he be able to overcome the lies and not give in to that darker nature? For if Nick does give in to that darker half that resides within him the fate of the world is doomed. For Nick's destiny is to end it.

Infamous picks up where Invincible left off. Nick has a good set of friends and he's beginning to fit in at school. He still has conflicts with some people, but things are much more tolerable.

We are finally getting closer to finding out what exactly Ms. Kenyon has planned with this series. I've speculated, I've pondered, and she has driven me crazy, but in a good way, so all is forgiven. :)  What we know so far is that Ambrose is a future version of Nick. He's attempting to change his future and alter what happens to his mother years from now. Things are different this time round and Nick is coming into his Malachai powers earlier than in his previously lived life. Additionally, people know about him now that didn't in his previous past until he was much older. So a big question is how much will change, and will the future, which many of us have already seen played out in the Dark-Hunter series, be altered?

Nick will learn a lot about his powers, his parents, and himself in this book. He'll develop deeper and stronger bonds with his friends and come to admire his mother even more. He'll be accused of some terrible things and grow as an individual. If you are a Dark-Hunter fan I highly recommend this series. Ms. Kenyon's put a portion of her Dark-Hunter series in a holding pattern, and I'm guessing it's because of what is going to happen in this series. I think it'll be something big that will significantly impact the Dark-Hunter world, and I'm curious to know what the outcome will be. One thing's for sure, if my prediction is off, I'll be sorely disappointed.

Why is the book named Infamous? Well, I believe it's due to this particular verse:
"Nick, my boy, to the preternatural creatures of this universe, you're infamous, and there's a bounty on your head that's staggering."

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. Usually Ms. Kenyon's books are a bit more subtle with the life lessons she includes in her books. This one was jammed packed with them. I can't help but wonder if this is a sign that the next book in the series will have something really big happen in it.

Check out the book trailer:

Listen to an audio excerpt:

Order of the series:

Coming March 2013:

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