Sunday, December 31, 2017

Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #2) by Amanda Bouchet

Title: Breath of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles)
Classification:  Adult Fiction
Genre:  Fantasy
Series: The Kingmaker Chronicles (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 448 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (January 3, 2017)
ISBN-10: 149262604X
ISBN-13: 978-1492626046
Author's Website:
Notes: I borrowed the book from my local library.

The kingdom of Thalyria is about to be changed, forever, or at least it will if Griffin, the Sinta Beta, has anything to say about it. The kingdom is currently divided into three realms and Griffin wants them all to be united under the Hoi Polloi rule. A power play is about to go down and Catalia 'Cat' Andromeda Eileithyia Fisa (aka the Kingmaker) is the one to watch. If anyone can make it happen it's her--the lost princess of Fisa, a woman who finds allies and enemies wherever she goes.
This is the second book of the Kingmaker Chronicles Trilogy and I highly recommend you read the first book before this one. For one, it's awesome. Two, it's action packed with a lot going on. And finally, three, there is a lot to take in and you might feel a touch lost if you don't read 'A Promise of Fire' first.

This story begins where the last book left off. Cat is recovering from a near fatal attack. We found out in the last book that Cat can tell when a lie is told, can turn invisible at will, and can steal the magic from almost any other individual. I'm a little curious if it is all of these traits which make her the "Kingmaker" or if it's just her ability to identify lies. I'm guessing it's just the latter.

Cat's secret identity is finally revealed and Griffin is not happy. Oddly, I thought he already knew who Cat was. Let me just say he lost a few brownie points with his reaction. It proved Cat had good reason to keep her family ties a secret. I find it amusing that Griffin's family is like the 'day' to Cat's 'night' version of family. The two are so completely different that it's no wonder Cat is drawn to them. It's the family she's never had but always wanted.

In this book we see Griffin's plan to takeover Thalyria begin to take shape. Securing the borders of Sinta is a top priority and Cat has and idea of how to go about it. The knowledge she gained under her mother's heavy hand will be put to good use and help Griffin achieve his goal. Cat is the key to everything and in this book she finally comes into her own. Plus, the relationship between Griffin and Cat finally starts to solidify.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. Ms. Bouchet let the momentum of the first book carry through into this one. She breaks down the story arc into three neat and tidy segments (aka books) with each one leaving you feeling satisfied, but ultimately wanting more. I loved watching these two grow as a couple and seeing Cat become who she was always meant to be. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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 This series is definitely going on my keeper shelf. It's just that good.

The order of the Kingmaker Chronicles:

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #1) by Amanda Bouchet

Title: A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles)
Classification:  Adult Fiction
Genre:  Fantasy
Series: The Kingmaker Chronicles (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 448 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (August 2, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1492626015
ISBN-13: 978-1492626015
Author's Website:
Notes: I received a copy of the book at RWA from the publisher.

The kingdom of Thalyria is in the midst change. It is currently divided into three realms spread out from West to East--Sinta, Tarva, and Fisa. Two are ruled by Magoi (Magic Born) while Sinta is presently ruled by the newly minted Hoi Polloi (The Magicless Majority) royalty. The kingdom is in an uproar for it is the first time in its history that the Hoi Polloi have ever been in charge of a realm. Many believe their hold on Sinta will not last long. Others believe that change is overdue. The Magoi have ruled with a mighty fist and cruel hand.

Catalia 'Cat' has been in hiding in plain sight as part of the Thalyria circus for years. There she's known as 'Cat the Magnificent—Soothsayer Extraordinaire'.  While she occasionally can see bits and pieces of the future in dreams, she mostly reads people's body language and gleans who they are, what they want, and occasionally what they're capable of. Cat has some real skills, one of which she makes good use of in her soothsayer role. With a few choice questions of her own, she can find the the truth behind their questions will usually reveal itself, and that is what she uses to answer them. She has the ability to tell when someone is lying. It's all about using the right combination of knowledge and illusion. She gets a copper for her troubles, which she feels is more than fair. She doesn't pretend to forsee the future nor does she attempt to mislead those who seek her help.

When the beta of the new Sinta royalty seeks her out and kidnaps her, it appears fate has finally caught up with her. Cat is more than just another Magoi. She is the Kingmaker. One is born every two hundred years and kingdoms rise and fall because of them. The Cat, so to speak, is out of the bag.
Imagine, if you will, a place where the Greek Gods carry your fate in their hands. A place where magic exists and Alpha Kings/Queens rule. Where one wrong step could get you killed, and the right one can gain you favor. A place where monsters exist and where provoking the wrong God or person could get you cursed for the rest of your life, if not an eternity. This is the world that Cat lives in. It's a cruel, hard, and often times terrifying place to be, and she's about to be at the center of it all.

I'm not sure of what words to use to describe this series. I loved it beyond words. It's fun, sexy, smart and just downright awesome. Well, maybe I did find the words after all. I always loved The Odyssey and The Illiad and while this one isn't quite on the same level of those two pieces of epic poetry, it falls into the same taste of flavor. Two of the main differences are that a woman, not a male, is at the center of everything, and the story is wrapped around a hot, steamy, and sexy little love story.

Now I didn't fall into insta-love with this one. It took some time for me to figure out what all was happening. I rarely read a book's synopsis before reading a story because they are often times misleading which is why I tend to forget them as soon as I start reading the actual book. Now, some may have issues with Griffin, he's the guy that kidnaps Cat. He's all alpha despite his beta title. While his caveman tactics didn't immediately reel me in, he grew on me kind of like he did for Cat. By the end of the novel, he totally redeemed himself in my eyes and I started to think he was pretty awesome.

Cat is very powerful, but in need of a purpose, self confidence, and ego boost. Griffen aids her with all that and helps her become who she was always destined to be--The Kingmaker. She'll learn exactly who she is and who Griffen is. They're definitely a match made in heaven, or should I say a cloud palace above Mount Olympus? *smirk* Either way, I loved finding out exactly who Cat was and a little of her backstory. It's a doozy. Let me just say, her life was no walk in the park. This series delves into some serious issues and her family life was hell.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I absolutely loved it and immediately sought out a copy of the next book from my local library. I will eventually end up buying the series as I adore it so much. I wonder if there's a way to convince the author to expand this series into something longer than a trilogy? Perhaps have a spin-off series? You know a book is good when you don't want the world it exists in to end. This is a series I HIGHLY recommend. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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

The order of the Kingmaker Chronicles:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Early Review of If Ever I Should Love You (Spinster Heiresses, #1) by Cathy Maxwell

Title: If Ever I Should Love You: A Spinster Heiresses Novel (The Spinster Heiresses)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Spinster Heiresses (Book 1)
Format: Hardcover; 272 pages
Publisher: Avon (December 26, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062804103
ISBN-13: 978-0062804105
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan in exchange for an honest review.

Years ago, the paths of Leonie Charnock and the Earl of Rochdale crossed. It did not end well. When the two finally parted, one was left with his military career in shambles and his reputation tainted. The other was left with a huge life lesson, that had cost her dearly. It also left a third man dead. Nobody but the three of them knows the truth about what truly happened that fateful night, and none of them are talking.

When Roman Gilchrist discovers he's the recipient of  an earldom, he finds himself in the perilous position of needing a bride--fast, and not just any bride will do. He needs a bride with a significant dowry because it appears he's inherited not only his successor's title but his debts as well. When he realizes Leonie is one of the three most wealthy heiresses who have been dubbed the "Spinster Heiresses" he sets his sights on her. After all, she owes him...
This was not your typical historical romance. It dealt with some heavy issues like rape and alcoholism, things that were not readily talked about back in the day, but nonetheless existed. Although we get some of the details of what went down, we don't get an actual play-by-play version of  what exactly transpired. We get just enough information to understand how the events helped to shaped Leonie and Roman into the people they are at the beginning of the story. For the most part, Roman is a great guy who genuinely cares about his family and Leonie. He's a bit harsh with her at the start of their marriage, but he has good reason. Likewise, there are reasons for Leonie's actions and reactions. She's a strong but deeply flawed individual who has yet to heal from the events in her past.

In some ways, this story reminded me a little of 'The Taming of the Shrew' but instead of Leonie's personality and attitude needing adjustment, it was her fear of marriage and love of drink that needed to be altered. Leonie has no interest in marriage whatsoever and would, ironically, prefer becoming a spinster. Roman doesn't exactly get her to agree to marry him. The way he handled things led me to be a bit wary of him, especially with his 'she owes me' attitude. Add in that he wasn't forthcoming about everything in his own desperation to get her dowry, and I didn't blame Leonie for being more than a little upset with the man.

What I loved about the story was how Leonie rose to whatever occasion was thrown at her and found herself, as well as love, in the end. Roman ended up eventually living up to my first impression and expectations of him, despite, in my humble opinion, his questionable behavior at one point. I liked how he cared about Leonie's feelings and, in the end, supported her through a difficult time. I truly believe sometimes you have to be the one to rescue yourself because you're the only one who can, but a little help from those who love and care about you is always welcomed.

I ended up giving this one 4 out of 5 roses. I thought the love story was a sweet, charming, heartwarming, and unique. I loved how Roman allowed Leonie to rescue herself. For the most part he was understanding, patient, and exactly what she needed. I very much enjoyed seeing the transformation of these two as they went from strangers to a couple very much in love. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Cowboy Up (Coming Home, #3) by Harper Sloan

Title: Cowboy Up (The Coming Home Series Book 3)
Classification: Erotic Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Coming Home Series (Book 3)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books (December 19, 2017)
ISBN-10: 150115527X
ISBN-13: 978-1501155277
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eBook loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Caroline Michaels has been a good girl all her life--following the rules, doing what she should, and staying out of trouble. For one night she decides to let her hair down, be reckless and wild, and have a one night stand. It's been five years since her last and only relationship ended and she feels it's time to get back in the saddle.

Clay Davis doesn't do relationships. His emotional baggage is so extensive that he doesn't believe he has what it takes to give his heart to someone. He doesn't have aspirations of being a father or husband and believes he is satisfied with just running his ranch. One night with the right woman, however, will change everything...

“So what’s a good girl like you doin’ in a place like this?”

“Maybe I’m sick of being a good girl,” I mumble, wishing I could see his eyes.

He continues to study me and I shift in my seat. Good heavens, what kind of pull does this stranger have over me? I can’t even look away, not that I want to, so I study him just as fiercely—even if I can’t see his face, I can still see him. And what a mighty fine sight he is.

Dressed in the typical uniform of most cowboys around here, he’s got his well-built frame in a navy-blue button-down shirt, tucked into jeans that I’m sure mold to his amazing-looking body perfectly when he’s standing. Even in the dim light, I can see the dirty boots propped up on the step under the bar that keeps short legs like mine from dangling in the air. His hand wrapped around the tumbler is tanned, making me think he must work outside, but it’s the long fingers that hold my focus as he uses them to slowly spin his glass against the bar top.

“Want to?”

Pulling my eyes from the strangely erotic sight of his hand, I look toward his shadowed face.

“Want to what?”

“Be bad, sugar.”
This was the third story in Harper Sloan's Coming Home series. It can be read as a standalone, but you may wish to read 'Lost Rider' and 'Kiss My Boots' first. It will give you a view into the Davis family dynamics and history--and believe me, the history isn't pretty. This is the story I've been most looking forward to. Clay has intrigued me from the first book, and I believe this one is the best of the bunch.

Caroline Michaels couldn't get out of Pine Oak and away from her mother fast enough. So when her high school boyfriend asked her to go away with him, she left. Unfortunately, he didn't turn out to be her prince charming she'd hoped for. If anything, he turned out to be the complete opposite, and it scarred her so deep she's hasn't attempted another relationship of any kind in five years. She's a shy, introverted book nerd who can handle fictional people better than she can deal with real ones. Hence, the name of her store, The Sequel, is more than a cute name based off the next book in a continuing story line, it's symbolic of her closing one chapter of her life and stating a totally new one.

Clay Davis is the strong, silent type and the glue behind his family. At a young age the Davis clan's mother abandoned them to an abusive father which left each of the three siblings with emotional scars. Clay, being the oldest, did the best he could to look out for his younger siblings, but he, being a kid himself, could only do so much. While Maverick took the brunt of the beatings, being physically unable to protect his younger brother took it's toll on Clay. He's got issues which make him believe a romantic relationship would be next to impossible.

This trio of siblings went through a lot and I kind of wish the author would have had them seek the counsel of a psychiatrist because what happened to them can really mess with a person's head. Many author's decide not to take this path and while some may think it would ruin the 'magic' of a romance, I beg to differ. I think it would enhanced it by showing real commitment. Let me explain why I feel this way.

I was once engaged in a conversation with an individual who confided in me that he was worried about not being able to let his job go when he came home from work. He was in the military and I thought he was insinuating he couldn't mentally let it go. I advised him to go to the gym and work all the stress from his job out before he came home and then leave it all at the door. I later found out he was physically abusing his wife and it put a totally different spin on things. Now, I'm no psychiatrist but every so often, for reasons unknown to me, people will just open up and confide in me. While I believe the desire not to do something is noble, sometimes it's just not enough. If a person is worried about something, especially where abuse is concerned, sometimes it's best to be proactive just to make sure. Not everyone who has been abused will turn around and do the same, but if it's something they're worried about or if they're afraid they'll be emotionally neglectful or absent as a spouse or parent, then they should go ahead and seek counselling. There they can teach a person coping mechanisms, identify any issues, offer suggestions, and truly help. Going to a psychiatrist is not something to be ashamed of, and in doing so shows an individual is willing to go the extra mile to make things work. It's something I'd like to see addressed more in books and I apologize for putting my soap box stand on the subject in the middle of this review.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I loved how each of the stories in this series was better than the last. I loved the chemistry between Clay and Caroline. The steam factor of this one was totally off the charts. The scene where these two meet was utter genius. They say like attracts like and these two appeared to be made for each other. Caroline seemed to bring out Clay's protective nature while he seemed to be able to take away all her fears and insecurities about jumping into another relationship. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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

Order of the Coming Home series:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Kiss My Boots (Coming Home, #2) by Harper Sloan

Title: Kiss My Boots (The Coming Home Series)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Coming Home Series (Book 1)
Format: Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books (April 25, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1501155199
ISBN-13: 978-1501155192
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eBook loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tate Montgomery gave his heart away years ago and never took it back. His parents had big plans for him, and the life he wanted wasn't on their agenda. Neither was the girl he planned to marry. So they did what they thought was best and forced him to do what they wished. Their plan worked for years until they had no way of holding him back anymore. Now he's going back to the only place that has ever felt like home and hoping it's not too late to reclaim what he lost...

Quinn 'Q' Davis has been through a lot in her life and to say she is relationship shy would be an understatement. Her mother up and left when she was too small to really remember her, her father was far from being father of the year, and her first romantic relationship left her inwardly scarred with trust issues. She just doesn't do relationships. Tate will have his hands full trying to win her back.
This was the second story in Harper Sloan's Coming Home series. It can be read as a standalone, but you may wish to read 'Lost Rider' first. Quinn and Leighton are best friends, and in the first book you get a nice view of the inner workings of their friendship and how they support one another. It will also give you a nice glimpse inside the Davis family dynamics and history.

Quinn is a mechanic who has taken over the managing of her family auto repair shop, the such shop within a fifty mile radius. She knows her way around a car, and it earned her the nickname 'Grease' from Tate. That was fine with her, she gave him the nickname 'Starch' due to the fact his parents were hoping to transform Tate into a high-society snob who wore starched shirts everyday. The two have known each other for years and every summer when he'd come to visit his grandparents they couldn't be kept apart. They were like two peas in a pod. That ended nine years ago when Tate left and never came back. No explanations, no returned phone calls, and no word.

I wasn't immediately sold on Tate. I liked his determination and single mindedness when it came to Quinn, but his treatment of Ella left me with reservations. Once explained, I could understood Tate's abrupt departure from Quinn's life all those years ago, but it just seemed like he should have somehow clued her in to what had happened. The timing could not have been worse.

Tate is a tall drink of water. He became a successful doctor, a gynecologist, having followed in his grandaddy's footsteps, but took the path his parents laid out for him. Unfortunately for them, you can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy. He became what they wanted which was everything he did not. The minute he could (believe me it's complicated), he hightailed it back to Pine Oak to try to pick up the pieces he left behind.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. The chemistry between these two was off the charts. I liked the way Quinn handled things and made him work for her affections which seemed only right. She had a lot of issues, most stemming from her parents, which she had to work through before she could fully give her heart. I have to admit the parents in these books are atrocious, but I like the underlying message that permeates through the series--we are not our parents and we can choose who we wish to become. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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

Order of the Coming Home series:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lost Rider (Coming Home, #1) by Harper Sloan

Title: Lost Rider (The Coming Home Series)
Classification: Erotic Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Coming Home Series (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 400 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books (April 25, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1501155199
ISBN-13: 978-1501155192
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eBook loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes people come and go from our lives like a wrecking ball, and leave havoc and chaos in their wake. For Leighton James, that wrecking ball was one Maverick Austin Davis, her first crush. At the tender age of sixteen, he'd broken not only her heart when he'd left, but destroyed her self-esteem as well. That was ten years ago and in those years she's been successful in every aspect of her life but love. The owner of a successful bakery--the PieHole--people come from miles, sometimes even states, away to buy her wares. She's dated, but a string of failed relationships have left her believing she somehow isn't enough. Truth be told, that sentiment probably stems back to Maverick and the hatefully cruel words he spoke all those years ago.

Maverick "The Unstoppable" Davis' rodeo career has come to an abrupt stop. Ten years of living the dream and it was gone. Just like that. For ten years he'd been the biggest name in professional bull riding--there wasn't a beast he couldn't conquer until Lucifer. One too many falls while riding had left him with head injuries so severe that the next could have him leaving the arena in a body bag. It was time to go home and try to mend the bridges he'd not only broken but in some cases pretty much annihilated. He'll try to put right what he once put wrong...

'I was lost once. A rider without the ability to do what he loved. I came home even though it was the last place I thought I wanted to be, and in the process not only did I find myself again, but I also found that my reason for livin' didn't have sh*t to do with ridin'.'

This is Maverick and Leighton's story.
This was a story that tackled some heavy topics--abandonment and abuse--and the long term affects they have on people. Maverick Austin Davis (personal note: MAD--I love those initials and wonder if the author chose them on purpose because they're so fitting.) grew up in an abusive household and while it was obvious what was going on (although perhaps not the extent of it), no one ever stepped in to stop it. When he was old enough to live on his own he left home quicker than you can say 'ready, set, go' and never looked back, until now. His father having recently passed and his career in shambles, he realizes it's time.

Leighton James had given her heart to her best friend's older brother years ago and had it cruelly handed back. While the two hadn't actually dated, something had been stirring between them. Maverick, with the use of a few choice words that cut to the bone, had intentionally and effectively ended that. Unfortunately, he'd also ripped Leighton's self esteem to shreds in the process, something that at the age of sixteen was very fragile. The event had repercussions that Maverick could never have predicted and it made it hard for me to like him at the beginning. It wasn't until we get the whole story of what was going on behind the scenes at the Davis family ranch that I understood why he did what he did. While words are just words, they sometimes have a devastating effect, and in this case a long lasting one.

Maverick is a complex and complicated individual who went through a lot and has kept people emotionally at bay for years. My guess is this is in part due to the fact he had to come to terms with what had happened to him when he was growing up. The author didn't hold back with all the things she piled up on this character and his personal baggage was so immense I felt he probably would have done well to seek out the services of a psychologist.

Overall, I gave this one 3 out of 5 roses. A sweet story about love, understanding, forgiveness, and letting go of the past so you can move forward with your life. I loved the chemistry between these two, but would have liked Leighton to have put Maverick through the wringer and make him jump a couple of hoops before taking him back. I felt she should have put his feelings to the test before giving in to her own. It could have proven quite fun. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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

Order of the Coming Home series:

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Third Son's a Charm (The Survivors #1) by Shana Galen

Title: Third Son's a Charm (The Survivors)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Series: The Survivors (Book 1)
Format: Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (November 7, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1492657034
ISBN-13: 978-1492657033
Author's website:
Notes: I received an ARC at the RWA annual conference courtesy of the publisher. (Review not required).

Ewan Mostyn, the third son of the Earl of Pembroke, earned himself the nickname 'The Protector' in the Peninsular War. He and a group of "disposable" peers were assigned to what was essentially a suicide squad. They were assigned tasks that others refused and most did not survive. Of the thirty who were chosen, only twelve came back. Ewan was one of the lucky ones, and was known for doing all he could to ensure that others survived as well--even if it meant putting his own life at risk. It's this reputation which causes the Duke of Ridlington to seek out his skills. The duke's daughter is infatuated with an unsuitable suitor and he wants to make sure nothing happens to her. Lorrie's beautiful, stubborn, gullible, and in love with the idea of being in love which makes her an easy target for the fortune hunters. She just refuses to believe that Francis' intentions are anything but honorable.

Ewan knows Francis quite well and is about to refuse the job when the Duke mentions his name. Francis, you see, is Ewan's cousin and honorable he is not. Ewan will do all he can to make sure Francis doesn't get what he wants. What he never expected, however, was to find himself falling for the chit himself, complicating everything.
This was a delightful read that had me shaking my head at Lady Lorraine  'Lorrie' and falling instantly in love with Ewan. Lorrie keeps looking for love in all the wrong places and is practically screaming for attention. She reminds me of a young and naive 16 year old who has dreams of falling in love with Prince Charming and living happily-ever-after. It's not a bad dream as long as you realize that not all men are Prince Charming and can recognize insincerity when you see it. Alas, Lorrie cannot. As she gets to know Ewan more, however, she starts to notice the differences between him and Francis and starts to question her feelings.

Ewan is the strong silent type. He never minces words, and chooses them with care. He suffers from word blindness (ie dyslexia), and is sensitive about being thought of as stupid due to his inability to read. Stupid he is not. The disorder, however, has caused a rift between him and his father that has yet to be resolved. It is where his sensitivity stems from.

While Francis may be the person Lorrie's father declares is the reason she needs a bodyguard, there are others who may harm her as well. There have been a number of kidnappings involving heiresses who have been held for ransom. Ewan's loyalty, bravery, and resourcefulness will be put to the test in this story.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed the story of these two. Lorrie saw Ewan for who he was and not as someone with limitations. Until Lorrie, Ewan really had no plans for the future. She makes him want more and believe he can have it. Lorrie, on the other hand, needed someone to ground her and that is exactly what Ewan does. There is a lot of drama, tender moments, and depth to this romance. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest of the story.  On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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, November 28, 2017

Giveaway and Release Day Review of Cajun Crazy (Cajun #11) by Sandra Hill Blog Tour

Welcome back to New York Times bestseller Sandra Hill’s Cajun country, where love heats up the Louisiana bayou . . .
Former Chicago cop Simone LeDeux is back home in the bayou, sharing a double wide in the Pearly Gates trailer park to help her mama recover from surgery. Her one rule: no Cajun men. Loved and left by too many double-crossing Cajuns, Simone puts bad experience to good use by opening Legal Belles: an agency that uncovers cheating spouses.

Suddenly she’s confronting a two-timer about to swindle his wife out of millions and antagonizing New Orleans bigwigs over an illegal sex club. Adam Lanier learns of the dangerous game Simone is playing . . . and the sexy single dad comes to her aid. Known as a rogue in the courtroom and a player in the bedroom, the ragin’ Cajun has Simone triply on guard.

With their crazy chemistry, danger on their trail, and infamous LeDeux relative Tante Lulu working her magical matchmaking, the bayou has never been this steamy.

Sandra Hill 
Check out her Website:
'Like' her on Facebook: @SandraHillAuthor
Follow her on Twitter: @SandraHillAuth

Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than ten years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories.

Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Cajun
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (November 28, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062566393
ISBN-13: 978-0062566393
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Simone LeDeux always seemed to look for love in all the wrong places--mainly in the arms of no good Cajun men. For years she's had an inexplicable attraction toward a southern man who could say darlin' in a husky, slow croon. No more. She's been married three times and has just broken up with her fiance after finding him in a compromising position with his female assistant. When her mother calls to let her know she needs knee surgery and would like Simone to help her recover for the few months after, she knows she's in trouble. Talk about going from out of the frying pan and into the fire. Simone's mom lives right in the middle of Louisiana--smack dab in the heart of Cajun territory. Her will power is about to be tested, specifically by one Adam Lanier--a devilishly handsome Cajun man with dangerous, dancing, mischievous eyes...

“I’ve been attracted to you from the first moment we met.”

“I’m surprised that you would admit that. Kind of lessens your odds.”

“You’re assuming this is a game. I’m too old to play games. Actually, they never interested me
much. How about you?”

“Oh, games can be fun sometimes.”

This is the eleventh book in the Cajun series, but can be read as standalone without feeling you've missed anything. Be forewarned, you are probably going to want to read the previous books in the series, and you may get a hunkering, er, hankering for Cajun men. If you're trying to figure out what to read next, this book is an excellent choice for the holiday season. It's a hilariously funny read infused with the perfect combination of naughty and nice to warm your heart and the rest of you too! lol

Simone LeDeux has spent the last two months helping her mother recover from knee surgery. After much deliberation as to whether or not to go back to Chicago or start a new business with her best friend, she and Helene decide to take a leap of faith. They'll be combining their respective talents--her police investigative skills, honed over eight year, and Helene's ability to file court documents--into an investigation agency called Legal Belles. This makes for some hilariously funny situations when the bread and butter of the agency turns out to be catching cheating spouses. I have to admit there was at least one such situation that had me wanting to close my eyes, but that's kind of hard to do when it's a mental and not physical image that's been ingrained into your mind. Picture me saying 'No!' and shaking my head a lot while laughing. Yes, I admit my cheeks were probably flushed too.

Adam is a single father who ruffed it out in a bad marriage. He's a widower who is now relationship shy, and Simone is the first woman who has ever tempted him to consider more than a casual relationship. Her three failed marriage track record, however, makes him reluctant to act on those feelings. To complicate matters more, he's an attorney who moved into the area six months ago and started a law firm with Simone's half brother Luc LeDeux. For the most part I really liked Adam, but he does one thing that made me rather unsure of him. Given the full extent of his history it was, in a way, understandable. Simone, luckily, handled him in just the right way so he understood what he did and why it will never happen again.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a fun read with a touch of seriousness thrown in. I loved how the story alternated between Simone's and Adam's point of views letting us in to each's mindset. Plus, there were plenty of side characters with colorful personalities. My favorite among them being Tante Lulu who possesses crazy witch-like matchmaking skills as well as a few others which make things very interesting. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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

Order of Sandra Hill's Cajun series:

Notes to keep you In-The-Know:
Sandra's eighth Cajun series novel 'So into You' was re-released and renamed 'Bayou Angel'.

“I’ve been attracted to you from the first moment we met.”

“I’m surprised that you would admit that. Kind of lessens your odds.”

“You’re assuming this is a game. I’m too old to play games. Actually, they never interested me
much. How about you?”

“Oh, games can be fun sometimes.”

“Tease!” Adam said with a chuckle and nipped her on the chin with his teeth.

It wasn’t a kiss or a bite, but she felt it all the way down to “Red-dy and Willing,” the color of her toenail polish.

Simone remembered her bad history with Cajun men and her resolution to avoid them in the future.

“Um, I think it’s time to cut this flower in the bud. I am not going to do this again.”

“Do what, darlin’?”

That damn “darlin’ ” again! “Get involved with another Cajun man.”

“You’re going to give me the boot just because I’m Cajun?”

She nodded.

“Well, lucky you, babe, because I’m only half Cajun.”

One Copy of:
Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill
(Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada)

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Early Review of It's Hard Out Here for a Duke (Keeping Up with the Cavendishes #4) by Maya Rodale

Title: It's Hard Out Here for a Duke: Keeping Up with the Cavendishes
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Keeping Up with the Cavendishes (Book 4)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (November 28, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062386816
ISBN-13: 978-0062386816
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

She was a woman living on the border of high society--always on the outside looking in.  After spending weeks with her ailing mother she just wanted a distraction before returning to the reality that was her life, and she found it in a pair of blue eyes. Tonight she would be just a girl...

He was a young man who had just inherited a Dukedom, but promised himself that until he stepped foot on London soil, he was just James. After moving both himself and his sisters to England from America, he was looking for a distraction from the stress of it all and found it in the arms of a beautiful woman at the Queen's Head Tavern and Traveling Inn...

It was meant to be only one night. Neither was to know who the other was. As fate would have it, however, one night wouldn't be enough. And so fate intervened...
This was the fourth installment of the Keeping up with the Cavendishes series by Maya Rodale. You can read it out of order and not feel lost. This story deals with a newly minted Duke who was born and raised in America and a young woman who just so happens to be the dowager duchess' companion.

Meredith has been raised in a duke's household her whole life. Her mother was the duchess' lady's maid before she became ill, and the duchess, who never has had children of her own, has treated Meredith almost like a daughter. Meredith knows all the rules and etiquette to being one of The ton, yet isn't a part of it. Nor does she quite fit into the world of commoners. She lingers somewhere in between on the precipice of both worlds, but never truly belonging to either. When she finds herself the center of a handsome man's attention, she finds the experience rather heady. She is seen (if seen at all) by most as being a person of little to no consequence. So on a whim with a wee bit too much whiskey spurring her on, she decides to give in to temptation thinking never to see the man again.

Rumor has it that James' father absconded to America to marry James' mother after stealing one of the family's prized race horse. He never looked back or gave the family title another thought. So when James' parents died, he was taken by surprise to learn that he'd inherited a dukedom. James who has bred and raised horses all his life was not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. He uprooted what was left of his family and headed to England. They know absolutely nothing of British Peerage or their rules and have a lot to learn. If they decide England is not for them, their plan is to abscond to America as their father did many years ago.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I loved the initial situation Ms. Rodale created and how James and his family had to assimilate into British society. Watching them learn things such as the secret language of flowers, how to address a person according to their title or pecking order within a titled family, and how to conduct and dress oneself was fun. Plus, I loved the inner turmoil Meredith went through when trying to resist her growing feelings for James. I was half way to loving James when he did something that made me a little upset with him. Thankfully, his sisters set him straight and he soon redeemed himself in my eyes. I loved the way James' sisters handled him and made him see reason. It made me chuckle. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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.

The order of the Keeping Up with the Cavendishes series:

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Early Review of A Duke in Shining Armor (Difficult Dukes #1) by Loretta Chase

Title: A Duke in Shining Armor: Difficult Dukes
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Difficult Dukes
Format: Hardcover; 320 pages
Publisher: Avon (November 28, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062697358
ISBN-13: 978-0062697356
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan in exchange for an honest review.

For seven years, Lady Olympia Hightower had been voted the Most Boring Girl of the Season. In the seven years that she'd been in the marriage mart, she'd received no offers, at least not the kind a respectable young Lady of high breeding would accept. So when a seemingly random act of kindness on Lady Olympia's part toward the Duke of Ashmont, a handsome young man, resulted in him asking for her hand, she'd accepted without batting an eye. Now, on her wedding day after imbibing in a glass or two, possibly three of tea, she was no longer so sure of her decision.

Things could have gone much differently if her aunt hadn't spiked the tea for it inspired her to bolt. Things could have ended much differently if a certain someone had gone in search of Olympia instead of sending his best man in his stead. It's those split second decisions that we make in life that can change everything and in this case it does. The question is for better or worse?
This was an extremely charming, highly entertaining, delightfully funny, and adorably romantic read. Lady Olympia Hightower is overcome with an extreme case of wedding jitters. She knows the handsome Duke of Ashmont is a wonderful catch despite his being one of the three Dukes nicknamed the Dis-Graces, but all her doubts and fears start to surface tenfold. As she gets ready to stand up before God and all their friends and family to wed him, she feels the weight of what she is about to do and finds she just can't. So she makes a run for it.

The Duke of Ashmont plays such a small part in this one. He reminded me a lot of the brother in the movie "While You Were Sleeping"--the one who didn't get the girl. He's kind of clueless, easily manipulated, and is looking to marry Lady Olympia for all the wrong reasons--mainly because his uncle has tricked him into it. While I might have felt bad for this young man, it was fairly obvious that he and Lady Olympia knew next to nothing about each other and would never suit.

Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley, is the Duke of Ashmont's best friend/best man and the one he sends to find out what is taking Olympia so long. While chasing after the bride is above and beyond what is expected of a best man, he does so hoping to talk some sense into her. While trying to keep her out of trouble and get her to somewhere safe, a funny thing starts to happen--he starts to fall for the bespectacled young woman. His inner struggle to be good despite the attraction is what makes this story so good. I absolutely loved it.

I couldn't help but give this book 5 out of 5 roses. A sweet, sexy, and fun romance which features a hilariously funny comedy of errors. This one had me shaking my head, laughing myself silly, and smiling like the cat who ate the canary. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM--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. This is definitely one for my keeper shelf.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Trace of Magic (Diamond City Magic, #1) by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Title: Trace of Magic
Series: Diamond City Magic
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback; 252 pages
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (August 29, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1611945143
ISBN-13: 978-1611945140
Author's Website:
Notes: I borrowed a copy from my library.

'Everybody leaves a magical trail of sorts, like an indelible ribbon unrolling behind them. It isn’t actually on this plane, but in a sort of other dimension that only tracers like me can see. It fades pretty quick for most tracers, disappearing in a matter of hours or maybe a week or two if they are really strong. It never fades for me. I can even see dead trace. It can be tricky to follow, and doing it can leave you vulnerable to the spirit world. I try not to follow dead trace if I can help it. Altogether, those talents make me a unicorn, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Loch Ness Monster all rolled into one. In a word, I am unique. A very special snowflake.'

'Here’s my one rule: I try very hard not to be stupid. I don’t take the same path home every night, I sleep with a gun under my pillow, I reinforce my nulls every day, I stay out of the spotlight, and I avoid the cops and the Tyet whenever humanly possible. '

'I wasn’t interested in becoming anybody’s puppet, and as long as I was a relative nobody on the Tyet food chain, I had free rein to find out who’d killed my mother and what had happened to my father. Not that I was making any headway. I had zero clues.'

'In the last decade or so, Diamond City had reverted to something of an Old West/mafia war zone. Way back when diamonds were first discovered here, there’d been a huge rush followed by massive territory wars. Eventually the Tyet had emerged—basically a united consortium of very bad people who ran the diamond trade and the town. Our most lauded town hero, Zachary Kensington, had brokered that pact somehow, bringing order from chaos. But then something happened about ten years ago and all hell broke loose. A lot of it had to do with a changing idea of what the Tyet could or should do and various factions wanting more money, more power, more, more, more. A drug trade had entered the scene as well—Sparkle Dust, or SD.'

This is Riley Hollis' story and her life is about to change irrevocably...
This was a fast paced thrill ride of a read with a lot going on. Riley Hollis is a smart, kind hearted, and loyal person. She also has a magical talent that if word got out about would be highly sought after and her life would no longer be her own. No one can do what she can do. With very few exceptions, she could potentially follow a person's trace from the day they died back to the day they were born and vice versa. The only person's trace she hasn't been able to follow is her father's who went missing several years back.

They say no good deed goes unpunished and Riley's latest case of finding a missing teen puts her on the radar of Clay Price, a cop with known ties to Gregg Touray who is one of the leading crime bosses of the Tyet. What first seems like a problem quickly turns into a blessing when she needs his help finding her sister's ex-fiance, Josh. Josh's apartment shows signs of a struggle and blood. Lots of it. When the FBI starts nosing around and implicating him in all sorts of crimes, Riley knows she's in over her head. She'll need someone with more influence and connections than she has to solve this one and get him out alive.

Riley doesn't know what to make of Clay. He actually seems like a fairly decent cop despite his involvement with Touray, but she doesn't trust him one little bit. To complicate matters, Riley finds herself seriously attracted to the man and the feeling is mutual. The more she's with him the more the attraction seems to grow.

I absolutely loved this one and couldn't help but give it 5 out of 5 roses. It's a wonderful story that grabbed my attention from the get-go and kept it straight through till the end. Riley's talent is reminiscent of that found in the Orson Scott Card's Pathfinder series. The world Ms. Francis created reminded me a little of Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series where crime bosses tend to have their hands in everything and magic is common place. The drama in this one runs high as does the action. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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. This was a well written and highly entertaining read. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Order of the Diamond City Magic series:
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