Disturbed Connections (Otherkin Spirits #2) by Kia Zi Shiru

18296754Rating: 4 stars

Published: August 9, 2013

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords

Synopsis: A werewolf and a vampire, forbidden love. What could go wrong?

CHRIS, a werewolf on the run from his abusive clan, hides in a vampire house. ALEC, a vampire who has comfortably lived in the house for years, has no intentions to ever leave it.

Their connection is obvious from the first time they meet. But the house rules are strict, werewolves and vampires can not date. Unable to fight their attraction and unwilling to leave, they instead choose to hide their love.

Then Chris’ old clan finds him and takes him back. Will Alec ever see Chris again?

Review: Wow, that blurb was spot on. What COULD go wrong? Well, unfortunately Chris and Alec are about to find out.

Chris has been hiding from his clan for the last couple of months and thanks to his friend Travis has found a new place to hide – a vampire house. Although he know who Alec is, Chris has ever met him personally. He only knows what Travis has told him and he is still intrigued. So when Alec makes a friendly approach to welcome him into the house, he is not surprised at the sudden connection that sparks between them.

Alec has crushed on Travis for a long time. Always loyal and supportive of Travis, he can’t help but be sad and disappointed that Travis is moving-in with his boyfriend. However, he still believes that if he were to stick it out, Travis will one day be his. So when he suddenly finds himself unequivocally drawn to Chris, Alec is more than a little surprised and a lot confused.

Forging an immediate friendship, both men spend time together talking, reading and just being with each other. But it isn’t until Chris’ first full moon in the house, that their connection develops into something more – something more powerful, more undeniable.

I have to say that after reading Disturbed Fate I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but I was utterly mistaken. If in the previous book, I wanted to smack Marc and Galen for taking it slow, this time around I was just about ready to kick some serious booty if Chris and Alec didn’t get their mojo going. Good God, the sexual tension between those two was unbearable at times!

Alrighty, moving on.

Once again, Kia Zi Shiru delivered a fantastic read with some thrills, a bit of the sweet and a lot of the sensual. I enjoyed how she brought the character’s struggles and desires to the page. I understood perfectly where each one was coming from, why they hesitated and how much they desired the other.

Chris was a treat to read. He was both sweet and passionate with a caring and vulnerable side that endeared him to me. But Alec was so much more. Poor guy, my heart went out to him from the moment he admitted his attraction to Travis was one-sided, but he burrowed in deeper each time he had to hold back his feelings for Chris.

The author did a great job in bringing forth the depth of Chris and Alec’s connection. Every shared moment and every emotion felt by Chris and Alec were aimed to impact the reader and enable them to connect to these characters fully. At least that’s how it felt to me. With every moment spent with these characters my desire to take them away from it all increased.

I didn’t find this story to be paranormal in nature. Except for having a vampire and a werewolf as main characters, that was about it. However, I don’t think that it made a difference. The concept behind the story was well-executed and the romance, the conflict and its resolution all worked together to make this story a very enjoyable read for me.

Although Disturbed Connections is the second book in the Otherkin Spirits series it can certainly be read as a stand alone. This story focuses on a different set of characters and their story is the main focus of the book.

I received this title from the author in exchange of my honest opinion.

Disturbed Fate (Otherkin Spirits #1) by Kia Zi Shiru

18143049Rating: 4 stars

Published: July 3, 2013

Available at: Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Marc, a small pet shop owner and seer, needs help with his store, but his new employee, Galen, brings with him more trouble than expected. Marc tries to keep their relationship professional even if Galen seems insistent on taking it to the next level. And then there is the problem of Galen’s past.

Keiran, a hard working medical student and Marc’s best friend, has a small problem, a stalker. One night he confronts the man and finds that his stalker vampire, Devlan, is too alluring to turn down. But Devlan isn’t who he seems to be.

When the four men meet up for a night out their lives fall apart. Marc’s premonitions turn out to be wrong and everything points towards one autumn night a couple of years ago. Now they need to figure out what happened that night, before someone dies, again.

Time is running out. The visions might be false, but they don’t paint a pretty picture, not about their futures and, especially, not about their pasts. They need to reverse the change before it is too late.

Review: Marc is able to see the future and has been friends with Kieran, a vampire, since they trained together. Although Kieran has been helping out Marc at the store the truth is that he needs permanent help. In comes Galen, a shy, young man he stumbles into on the street. Recognizing that Galen seems in need of help and that he is probably something more than what he appears, Marc decides to offer him a job. Little does he expect that his attraction to Galen and the connection they share would disrupt Marc and Kieran’s world.

Kieran knows that Devlan is trouble, but he can’t help himself. He is drawn to him in ways he can’t explain, but when lies by omission, betrayal and secrets start to reveal themselves, Kieran has to face the ugly truth – Devlan is not who he portrays himself to be. However, they all must work together to right the wrong that could affect their lives one way or another.

This was an interesting story to get into. At first, I was a bit hesitant since it started slow and I didn’t know which direction it was going to go. I was especially hesitant with the appearance of Kieran. Don’t get me wrong, he was a great addition to the story, but the switch of POV from Marc to Kieran threw me off and it wasn’t after a couple of chapters in that I was able to get the hang of it.

I loved the concept behind the story. I think it was original and well-executed. The paranormal aspects of the story, the mystery of the character’s connection and the romances that developed coupled with the author’s trademark prose flowed seamlessly with the characters and their personalities. Marc and Galen’s story could not be told without throwing Kieran’s story into the mix and Kia Zi Shiru did a great job bringing it all together to make it work.

Marc was a great character to get to know. He was smart, sweet and considerate. He had everyone’s best interests in mind, even at the expense of his own and I admired him for that. His easy-going manner and charm was a treat to read and his interactions with the other characters revealed a lot about his true self. Galen was also great, but it wasn’t until the second half of the book that I was able to connect with him fully.

I enjoyed how Marc and Galen were brought together slowly. Their connection was immediate, but its development grew as the story progressed. In the end, I was so emotionally invested in them being a couple that when they finally came together I was grinning from ear to ear. Their interactions were both sweet and frustrating. At times I wanted to smack them upside the head for taking it so slow and at others I wanted to comfort them and tell them it would all work out.

Although Kieran’s presence threw me off at first, I soon came to appreciate what he brought to the story. He was passionate and loyal to a fault. He was strong-minded and not easily fooled and it was his loyalty and strength of character that led me to wish he could find his HEA. I enjoyed his interactions with other characters and how he dealt with Devlan and the mess he brought with his presence. I want to know more about Kieran and Cole’s story, especially after witnessing Marc vision. *hint, hint*  😉

Disturbed Fate is the first book in the Otherkin Spirits series and a very good start at that. Kia Zi Shiru managed to deliver a wonderful combination of great characters backed by an interesting concept with a bit of angst and a dash of heat to round it all up. All in all, a very enjoyable read.

I received this title from the author in exchange of my honest opinion.

Northern Light by E.J. Russell

18403216Rating: 3 stars

Publisher: Entangled: Ever After (September 30, 2013)

Synopsis: Nothing gives art fraud investigator Luke Morganstern a bigger rush than busting forgers, the low-life criminals who dare victimize true artists. But when his latest job sends him to a remote cabin in the Oregon Coast Range, he’s stunned to discover the alleged forger is his former lover, Stefan Cobbe, the most gifted painter Luke has ever known.

Stefan, left homeless and destitute after the death of his wealthy partner, doesn’t exactly deny the forgery — he claims he doesn’t remember, an excuse Luke can’t accept.

But Luke’s elderly client suggests Stefan may be telling the truth and presents another possibility – a dark presence in the woods, a supernatural fury simmering for decades. Luke must face down his fear of the uncanny – and admit his feelings for Stefan – if either of them is to survive.

Review: When Luke finds out about his latest assignment, he is determined to get to the bottom of it. However, when he learns who is behind the forgery he hesitates. Even more so when he comes faces to face with Stefan. Although thinner and a shadow of the man he left behind, Stefan still brings to the surface feelings Luke had thought forgotten.

Stefan is surprised to see Luke on his porch. He never forgot the man who left him behind and now that he is in his presence he would give anything for another chance. If only Luke didn’t think him a criminal.

I loved the concept behind this story. The paranormal aspects of a haunting paired with a second chance at love intrigued me.

I enjoyed having insight into both Luke and Stefan’s thoughts and feelings. I could easily understand Luke’s hesitation in revisiting his relationship with Stefan, just as well as I wanted to smack him upside the head for being such a stubborn ass. But really, my heart went out to Stefan. He was so confused and frustrated by what was happening and then to have Luke come into his life again? Poor guy, he was a mess. Yep, just how I like ’em!

I found the whole mystery/haunting part of the story interesting and the characters complex. I liked how both Luke and Stefan felt regret, guilt and longing towards each other and what they had lost.

I have to admit that I had a couple of problems with the story. My biggest problem was not knowing more about their history. I think that expanding on that aspect of the story would have made for a more enjoyable story, at least for me. Then there was the ending. Again, I think it would have been great to get to see them more as a couple, working their problems out, finding each other again.

All that said, Northern Light was still an enjoyable read for me with a captivating story and compelling characters that attempt a second chance at love.

I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

Review: The Dining Club by Marina Anderson

If you pass the challenges we set, a world of pleasure awaits you.The Dining Club

 

The Dining Club by Marina Anderson

Rating: 3.5 stars

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes

Synopsis: He is everything she never wanted: brooding, secretive, rich – and far-removed from her care-free artistic lifestyle. Yet David has a power over Grace that she cannot resist, a power that comes from his darker, passionate side.

And now he is ready to truly reveal himself. Inviting Grace to a weekend at the Dining Club, David offers her the opportunity to discover his deepest desires and to find pleasures far beyond her wildest imagination – but only if she if willing to play a series of sensual games.

Grace faces a choice: give in to her doubts and retreat to her quiet life, or truly embrace happiness with David and win over her mesmerizing lover forever.

Reviews:

Part One: Desire (3 stars)

This installment introduces us to David and Grace along with their needs and desires. it was easy for me to lose myself in this short story and forget that there was more to it than what was brought to the page. I was curious to know more about both characters and Marina Anderson did manage to please me a bit in that regard.

The author did a great job in drawing me into the story by luring me with bits of information and glimpses into each of the character’s personalities. Behind her tough façade of an up-an-coming theater director laid a vulnerable woman who was afraid to open her heart to David. She was already falling in love and didn’t trust herself not to lose herself in him. And David, well he did come across as hard and unyielding, but I’m curious to see how it would play out with him. At least he was being honest about testing if Grace was the right woman for him before he invested himself emotionally. Got to give him a little credit for that at least. We’ll see.

Part Two: Bound (3 stars)

Grace has accepted David’s offer to get away to the Dining Club. She’s curious but terrified of what she’s going to encounter. She’s already admitted that she’s more than halfway in love with David and she’s afraid that she is willing to do everything she could to please him even if she didn’t agree with it wholeheartedly.

David is determined for Grace to go through with the test, but offers her a chance to back out and in turn end their relationship. But he is who he is and it’s better to find out if they have a future together sooner rather than later.

To say I was a bit surprised with what I read would be an understatement. This was unlike anything I read before simply because David’s attitude took me completely by surprise. He was so adamant that they had to get through the ‘test’ to be able to keep on with their relationship, that I was starting to doubt his motives.

David, a strong, dominating man, is used to getting his way in the bedroom, but underneath all that I still could see that he wanted this relationship to work. He was honest with himself and with Grace, even if it would bring their relationship to a halt. I had to admire that about him.

My heart went out to Grace. She really was between a rock and a hard place (no pun intended). To please the man she loves or to walk away. She so wanted this to work out that at times her nerves got the better of her threatening her chances of succeeding. I think she wanted this a little too much and lost herself in the process. Gone was the strong-minded individual and in came a love-crazed fool woman. I’m hoping she gains her confidence back as the story progresses. Right now, I’m a bit disappointed in her although I could understand what she was struggling with. We’ll see.

Marina Anderson delivered a sizzling series of events that had me tapping the hell of my tablet to see what would happened next and how Grace would fare on this onslaught of pleasure that was thrown at her. I didn’t much are for Amber’s role in all of this, nor that of the twins. I would have been content with just David and Andrew, it would have made for a more sensual story for me, since Grace had that immediate attraction to Andrew. So sue me, I like my men.

I’m curious about what’s in store for Grace now and how she will react to it once again.

Part Three: Crave (3.25 stars)

Grace can’t wait to go back to the Dining Club. She’s surprised that she is looking forward to whatever David has in store for her, but she is also afraid of what this could mean.

Now that she has discovered this sensual side of her, she not only fears for the end of the relationship she has with David if she fails, she’s also worrying about what she will do with these new feelings the tests at the Dining Club have arisen within her.

Once at the Dining Club, Grace steps up to the challenge. She is certain that Amber is out to make her fail, but Grace wants a relationship with David – Amber be dammed!

I am not getting much of character development with David. I thought he would, not change his mind, but be more supportive. I don’t know. I feel like he’s just along for the ride and that he wouldn’t be losing much if Grace fails. it’s like he truly does not care. That’s the impression I’m getting.

Off all the Dining Club employees, Amber is the only one that has gotten a reaction out of me. I despise her. That is one bitch of a woman and I don’t like her AT ALL. However, she is what drives Grace to overcome her fears and forge ahead and one of the most developed of the characters. So yeah, I enjoyed her. Somewhat.

Then there’s Andrew, who caught my attention on the previous installment. At least now I understand what he wishes to get out of teaming with Amber. I’m sure it’ll make for some interesting reading what these two come up to sabotage Grace.

Having said all that, I am still intrigued. I’m hoping that David and Grace’s relationship progresses a little and that we get some insight into who David is, because so far he is not at the top of my list of favorite people.

Part Four: Seduce (3.25 stars)

One thing you can say about this installment is that it sure got a reaction out of me. It infuriated me to see David doubting HIS ability to commit to Grace WHEN she passes the Dining Club tests (I use the term ‘when’ because if Grace fails, I will be a very, very, very unhappy reader! Just saying.) Then to have Andrew getting in cahoots with Amber? That just about gave me a coronary! Geez, Amber get your own man and let the woman do her thing. And Andrew? Please, spare me the ‘I’m a better man for her’ line! Find your own damn woman and be a loyal friend to David.

Anyway, this time around we get to see Grace being more confident in her new-found sexuality. She doesn’t get as nervous as in previous installments, but she still worries for her ‘relationship’ with David. And yes, I used the term ‘relationship’ loosely, because I am losing faith in David and Grace ever having one. It’s ridiculous, that’s what it is!

However, I’m still intrigued although I am more annoyed than anything about how things are progressing. I wonder what’s in store now that David is having doubts and both Amber and Andrew are determined to sabotage Grace’s chances to succeed.

Part Five: Touch (2 stars)

Grace is set to begin her fourth trial and knows that it will be a tough one, especially knowing that Amber is enemy number one. Nevertheless, Grace carries on through the trial with a mixture of nerves and excitement.

This story didn’t grip me the way the others had. Yes, it had some of the elements of passion and expectation as the others, but I think it lacked on something I can’t quite put my finger on.

First, there were the twins. I did not care for them at all, nor did I want to read about them pleasuring each other. Truly, it threw me off the story. At least, it wasn’t mentioned more than a couple of times and never in great detail.

Then there was the whole spectacle that took place during the trial. Both Amber and Andrew were determined to sabotage this test for Grace and their presence alone bothered me greatly. I don’t like them. Not one bit. It can be said that they add to the conflict of the overall story, but to me they don’t. This is not an easy endeavor for Grace to get through as it is and would rather the author focused on her struggles and the development of her relationship with David.

To top it all off, there was David and his negative thoughts, doubts and second-guessing. I was wishing to see more of David’s emotions at this point as well as some sort of growth from him, but I found him as aloof as ever. Grace and David didn’t have any intimate moments outside of what they shared at the Club and it’s not working for me as a way to build their romance.

I am still interested in getting to the bottom of this. I want Grace to succeed, if only so she can throw it on David’s face if he rejects her afterwards. I don’t care much for Andrew or Amber’s role in the story, so I’m hoping that the author doesn’t let them succeed in sabotaging Grace’s chances.

Part Six: Caress (4 stars)

On this installment we get to see Andrew making his move on Grace. He wants Grace to start doubting David’s intentions during and after her trial, especially now that she’s so close to finishing it.

Grace doesn’t waver in her resolve to in doing this for her and David’s relationship. She has invested a lot of herself into the trials and is not willing to throw it all away on what Andrew tells her. Doesn’t mean that she doesn’t question why she had to go ahead and fall in love with someone the likes of David though.

She steels her nerves and goes ahead with the next test. Taking some by surprise and gaining some confidence in the process. On unfamiliar ground, Grace found her footing and now is more than determined to see this trial until its end.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her in the second half of this two-part challenge. I have a feeling that it will be a doozy.

Part Seven: Submit (4.50 stars)

Grace is about to start the second half of her two-part challenge and she’s a bundle of nerves, especially since the break between the two trials left her feeling out of sorts. That David continues to be indifferent doesn’t help her state of mind. However, she needs to see this test through its end, if only to prove it to herself that she gave it her all.

Once the trial starts, it was everything I was hoping it would be – sensual, original and compelling. Grace’s response to the test thrown at her showed her resolve to see this through. Her growth in accepting her sensual side coupled with the emotions she had for David, pushed her through and kept her focused at times when her spirit wavered. She was resolute and beautiful in her acceptance of what she was up against.

This installment made me glad that I stuck around to see Grace finish her trial in order to win David’s love. Now I can’t wait to see how she fares on her challenge against Amber. I am not a fan of that woman, but she does have the upper hand in the experience department. I just hope that Grace keeps her resolve and beats her at her own game.

Part Eight: Surrender (5 stars)

Grace started her challenge against Amber wavering in her resolve. She accepted that Amber’s experience in this was vast, but she still had that drive to keep the woman away from David. Like the smart, professional woman she was, Grace went into this putting all her ‘acting’ knowledge into play, surprising David, Amber and herself.

The trial was not something I had expected and the way Marina Anderson brought it to the page kept me engaged throughout. The trial showed how much Grace had learned about herself through the previous trials and how deep her commitment was to making David happy.

David. Well, he certainly got more than he thought he would with Grace and I’m so glad to see that she surpassed even his expectations. I don’t believe their story has come to an end though. Grace has much more to learn about the lifestyle and David has to learn to let go of his precious control. We’ll see.

All in all, The Dining Club serial was an interesting mix of sensuality, emotions and obstacles thrown into David and Grace’s path of establishing a relationship.

I received these titles from the publisher in exchange of my honest opinion.

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Excerpt:

‘Grace, most people keep parts of themselves hidden from the rest of the world. Haven’t you any deep, dark secrets or feelings that you never vocalise?’

‘No, I haven’t. Tell me about this weekend before I get up and walk out of here,’ she retorted, her anxiety rising with every word he spoke.

His fingers stopped moving against the nape of her neck. ‘This Club isn’t really a dining club. It’s a Club for people with specialised sexual needs and desires. They come here so that they can enjoy themselves safe in the knowledge that they’re surrounded by likeminded people.’

Grace frowned. ‘Why do they need a dining room for that? There are plenty of clubs in London that cater for all kinds of sexual tastes.’

‘True, but sometimes people need a place to bring someone they’re involved with who doesn’t know some of their, shall we say, more unusual sexual needs. This is a safe place for them to find out if that person can ever be happy sharing their world, or if the relationship is doomed to failure because they can’t.’

Remembering the way her lover’s teeth had closed over her soft inner thighs, causing her moments of genuine pain, Grace began to understand what he meant. ‘Can you explain more about the dining room?’

‘There are four tables, five if you count the top table, but you don’t need to get involved with that. Each table is numbered from one to five. As you noticed, every table seats three people. This is because at every table there are two people like you and me, who are here to discover whether they are well suited sexually or not, and either another Club member or one of the staff. Needless to say, all of the staff here have a very wide range of sexual skills.

‘Tonight you and I will sit at table one. If the evening goes well, and you want to come back next month, we’ll sit at table two.

__________________________________________________

About the Author: Marina Anderson is the pseudonym of  British author Margaret Bingley, whose novels have been published all over the world. Margaret uses this pseudonym for her series of erotica novels. She also publishes erotica for women under the pseudonym Fredrica Alleyn.

Friends or Lovers? by Sara York

Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis: Dear Author,

It was supposed to be my dream honeymoon with my partner of five years. Yeah, I knew that he was reluctant to make our partnership legal but I thought that he would eventually be as happy to be my husband as I was going to be his. Nick tried to warn me, though I didn’t listen. It’s funny how my best friend Nick seems to be right about a lot of things lately… like how I should go on the honeymoon that I spent forever planning even though Mark and I aren’t together anymore. Taking Nick with me so that the extra ticket wouldn’t go to waste was another great idea. Just wish I knew how we ended up in bed like this…

This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’sLove Has No Boundaries” event.

Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

Photo Description:  Two men are in bed with an empty champagne bottle and two glasses.

Review: Shane has been left on the altar by his boyfriend of 5 years. Heartbroken, he and his best friend Nick decide to take advantage of the honeymoon that had been planned. Once there, after a night of dancing and drinking Shane wakes up in bed with Nick. He is surprised and confused but never disappointed. The night spent with Nick was one he will never soon forget. Now if only he could get his head on straight and decide if he wants Nick to a friend or a lover.

This was a short, sweet read that left me wanting to know more about both Shane and Nick. Especially after Shane’s boyfriend, Mark, showed up to ‘make amends’.

For a short story, Sara York managed to bring forth an interesting read with what appeared to be complex characters. Nick was so in love with Shane that I felt sorry for him at times, then again I wanted to smack him upside the head for not making his feelings known. Then there was Shane with his head all messed up, loving the night he spent with Nick, hating himself that he overlooked him and trying to deal with Mark’s betrayal.

I can’t wait to read more in the follow-up story, In or Out?  I think that Nick and Shane have a chance to work it out if they get their head on straight and come clean with each other – hesitations, doubts and all.

No Flag by Liz Borino

18669672Rating: 4 stars

Publisher: LazyDay Publishing (October 22, 2013)

Synopsis: For Mike and Will, “No Flag” meant “come home alive”, but will their love survive what happens next?

Captain Mike Kelley does not ignore his intuition, so when sexy bartender Will Hayes captures his heart, Mike embarks on a mission to win him over to a Domestic Discipline relationship.  Will accepts with one caveat: Mike must promise not to renew his Army contract.  Mike agrees, and they spend a year building a life together, getting married, and starting a business.

Only days before their café’s grand opening, Mike receives news that threatens everything he and Will have built.  The Army invokes the Stop Loss military policy to involuntarily extend his commission and send him back overseas.  Will, left alone to cope with the café, must rely on the support of old friends who may be no longer be trustworthy.  Through emails and Skype calls, Mike and Will keep their love and structure alive…until the day a horrific terrorist attack occurs on Mike’s outpost.

Mike awakens in a hospital with a devastating injury and no his memory of the attack. As the only survivor, Mike’s memory may be the key to national security. Mike struggles to cope with his injury and Will struggles to support the man who always held him up.  Both fear they have lost their previous relationship.  Will has Mike back rather than a folded flag, but in the aftermath of war, can they rebuild the life they had before?  Especially when those closest to them may not have their best interests at heart?

*Contains BDSM elements in the context of a loving relationship.*

Review: Mike and Will have settled into a routine after coming together on their Domestic Discipline relationship. Mike can’t imagine his life without Will in it and likewise, Will couldn’t be without his OCD-inclined lover who has made his world ordered and complete. Their arrangement satisfies both of their needs and now they are ready for more of a commitment.

Briefly before Mike’s time in the Army comes to an end they get married and start getting their business ready for opening. If Will and Mike thought that they had surpassed the worst when Mike was forced to deploy for a year they were in for a rude awakening.

I had the honor to be beta reader for this story and I am happy to say that although it changed since last I read it, the author still brought forward a great romantic story.

Liz Borino did a great job of drawing me into the story by allowing to see how deeply Will and Mike’s connection ran before Mike was deployed. I got to see Will struggling with pleasing Mike as their relationship progressed. Mike was not an easy man to please, but he was loving and caring of Will needs. He always looked out for him and only wanted what was best for him. His heart broke when he found out that he had to break the news to Will that he was being sent abroad. Liz Borino did such an amazing job of bringing their emotions to the page, that my heart broke along with theirs.

I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t sold on the whole ‘Domestic Discipline’ concept when it first came up. But as the story moved along, I could see how it suited both men. They both had needs that needed to be fulfilled in order to be happy and their arrangement did that for them, so I didn’t put much thought into it.

I liked the way the author dealt with the issues that arose when Mike returned. The added emotions, angst and further development of their connection made it possible for me to understand what each of them was struggling with thus improving my connection to them. During their time apart, they grew as individuals. But when they came together once again, with every obstacle they overcame, they grew as a couple. It was a beautiful journey and a treat to read.

Of course, Mike and Will had chemistry abound, but their emotions always came into play which was nice to see. However, and I hate to say this because I’ve come to love Liz Borino’s writing, they came across as too…vanilla? I don’t know. Not that’s is a bad thing, I just expected them to be a bit more passionate.

As a whole, No Flag worked. The concept was original and well executed, the characters complex and interesting with shared chemistry and the emotions were well represented. All in all, a sweet, romantic read about second chances in life and making the most out of what life throws at you.

I received this title from the publisher in exchange of my honest opinion.

Friends to Lovers (Aisle Bound #3) by Christi Barth

18366205Rating: 4.5 stars

Publisher: Carina Press (October 14, 2013)

Synopsis: As florist and co-owner of a successful Chicago wedding planning business, Daphne Lovell has been there for the happiest days of other people’s lives. As for her own life? Well, it’s hard to be perfectly happy when you’re carrying a torch for your sexy, womanizing and oblivious best friend. So when the lights go out on New Year’s Eve, she seizes the opportunity to kiss him senseless.

British expat Gibson Moore has a lot on his plate. The hotel he manages is being bought out, his family is crazy and someone just kissed him in the dark. When the lights go on, he searches the room, trying to find the mystery pair of lips. Only, he never thinks to ask the woman standing by his side. He’s shocked when he discovers that Daphne is the woman he’s been searching for. But Gib’s also eager to act upon the attraction for her he’s always fought to ignore.

It takes trust to move from friends to lovers, and as Gib’s work situation worsens, he is no longer sure he can risk the friendship he relies on most. It’s up to Daphne to convince him that some things are worth fighting for…

Review: I loved this story!

Gibson is a player. A ‘love them and leave them’ type of guy who doesn’t do love, Gibson is happy to play the field until an unexpected, but powerful kiss leaves him stunned and in search of his Cinderella. He doesn’t expect Daphne to be the girl behind the unforgettable kiss, but once he unexpectedly locks lips with her he knows that she’s his missing Cinderella.

I so enjoyed Gibson’s confused, surprised and conflicted behavior once he started seeing his best friend in a new light. His thoughts and emotions were all over the place and although he was determined to make a go at a relationship with Daphne, his ‘player’ persona was so ingrained in him that he made the biggest mistake of all – he treated her as he treated all others.

Daphne was tired of waiting around for Gibson to notice her, so she went at him first. Albeit, it was during a blackout and he was clueless as to the woman who had kissed him, but at least his reaction was partially worth it. She knew he didn’t see her as anything more than a buddy, but she still couldn’t get over him. I admired her for taking a chance on him when he asked for a chance to make something more of their attraction.

Like her, I was disappointed at Gibson’s failure to treat Daphne as someone special and not another conquest. I felt for her. Her hopes of them ending together were shattered but her strength of character showed through when she at least attempted to move on.

Christi Barth did a great job in bringing Gibson and Daphne together. Although their attraction to each other was undeniable and their chemistry sizzling hot, I mostly enjoyed their banter and honest interactions. It was a treat to see Gibson open up about his past and how it shaped him. I also enjoyed how their connection jumped-off the page and continued to grow as the story progressed.

My favorite part? How it all came together in the end. I was not expecting the added conflict Barth threw into the story and I loved the chaos it caused and its resolution.

Friends to Lovers is the third book in the Aisle Bound series and a great addition at that. It had all the elements I have come to expect from Christi Barth – great and interesting characters, humor, romance and whole lot of chemistry!

I can’t wait for the next installment.

I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

A Fine Romance (Aisle Bound #2) by Christi Barth

17280988Rating: 4 stars

Publisher: Carina Press(March 11, 2013)

Synopsis: They say you form your first impression of someone within thirty seconds of meeting them. Or, in Mira Parrish’s case, within thirty minutes of not meeting them, when said person is supposed to pick you up from the airport and never shows. This is not a perfect start to her new life. Her

friend Ivy is depending on her to run a new romance store, and Mira can’t afford to let her down.

Sam Lyons should probably apologize. But every time he sees Mira–which is often, since his family owns the bakery next to her shop–he can’t resist antagonizing her. There’s something about the sexy, straight-laced woman that drives him crazy. He can’t get involved, though. He has too much baggage to be any good in a serious relationship.

Despite his teasing attitude, Mira finds Sam too sweet to resist. (His hot body may be a factor.) But if there’s going to be anything permanent between them, they’ll need to let go of their pasts and look to the future…

Review: Having met Sam in Planning for Love, I was intrigued to read more about his story. He seemed kind and caring and I couldn’t wait to see to whom he was paired with.

At first, I didn’t think that Mira was the best choice for Sam. She came across a bit self-centered. It was all about HER, how Sam had left HER stranded, how she had to work HER ass off to make the store a success, etc. However, as I came to know more about her history I better understood where she was coming from and I could overlook some of her flaws. Her story wasn’t as tragic as I expected, but it certainly affected her outlook in life and love.

Sam’s story was a more interesting. I understood his struggles and his hesitation to let go of her mother. His behavior was understandable if a bit over-the-top, but how can I judge his caring side when he so wanted to protect his mother and look out for her? In any case, it’s what kept me interested in the story. I wanted to see him achieve his dream and see his story unfold.

Once again, Christi Barth managed to bring to the page a light and sweet yet steamy read with chemistry about, chocolate goodness and romance abound.

A Fine Romance is the second book in the Aisle Bound series and can be read as a stand alone. A fine romance, indeed!

I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

Planning for Love (Aisle Bound #1) by Christi Barth

15724799Rating: 3 stars

Publisher: Carina Press (August 1, 2012)

Synopsis: Hopeless romantic Ivy Rhodes and anti-Cupid Bennett Westcott

request the pleasure of your company for their disaster of a courtship

Wedding planner Ivy Rhodes is the best in the business, and she’s not about to let a personal problem stop her from getting ahead. So when she’s asked to star in the reality TV show Planning for Love, it doesn’t matter that the show’s videographer happens to be a recent—and heartbreaking—one-night stand.

Bennett Westcott admits he didn’t handle his encounter with Ivy very well. But looking at her beautiful smile—and great body—through a camera lens every day? He can’t be faulted for suggesting they have some no-strings fun.

The more time they spend together, the more Ben realizes Ivy isn’t the wedding-crazed bridezilla he’d imagined. But if he doesn’t trust himself to make a relationship last, how can he convince Ivy to give him another chance?

Review: Ivy has always dreamed of finding her one true love and is a firm believer in romance. But since she hasn’t found ‘the one’, she wants to provide people with romance by opening a new store. I enjoyed her positive outlook on love, but I admit she could be a little hard to take. So I understood how a man like Ben could be hesitant to start anything with her.

However, I did admire Ivy’s determination and drive. Especially when she finds out that Ben’s going to be her videographer for the next few weeks. She was going to deal it with as best she could. I’m glad that Christi Barth made that process an enjoyable one, but still kept Ivy’s personality in check and the story progressing at a comfortable pace.

Bennett doesn’t do relationships. Saying he is skeptical about marriage and romance would be putting it mildly. Still, Bennett can’t believe that Ivy can be so cold and unfeeling towards him after the time they spent together. He figures that they should take advantage of the chemistry that sizzles between them even if it doesn’t end up in a relationship. I loved that he couldn’t resist his attraction to Ivy and that ultimately he fell into a relationship, even if it was unbeknownst to him.

Christi Barth did a great job in bringing Bennett and Ivy together. I enjoyed their flirtatious banter and honest interactions. Slowly but surely, Barth brought emotions into play. I enjoyed Ivy and Ben’s reactions once they acknowledge the feelings that had developed between them and how they each dealt with the fallout.

The introduction of the secondary characters were an added bonus and a great setup for the next book in the series. I loved how they all interacted with each other, really bringing the sense of family to the story. Ivy, and eventually Ben, were part of a supportive group of friends that were funny and quirky. Each character added something to the page and their interactions with either main character gave glimpses into their true selves.

Planning for Love is the first book in the Aisle Bound series and a great start at that. It set the stage and tone of the following books with interesting characters, humor and a whole lot of romance.

Cake by Lauren Dane

Rating: 4 stars

Publisher: Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin (September 17, 2013)

Synopsis: She won’t be satisfied with just one bite…

Art student-slash-bike messenger Wren Davis pursues what she wants. And what she wants now is Gregori Ivanov, rock star of the Seattle art scene. With his tattoos, piercings and sensual sneer, Gregori is the ultimate bad boy. Wren’s gotten to know the man beneath the body art, too—and it only makes her crave him more.

But Gregori loves women like he loves cake and champagne—intensely, but only for the moment. And after Wren experiences just how scorching sex with Gregori is, she’s determined to show him that just one taste won’t be enough…

Review: This story was everything I have come to expect from Lauren Dane. There were the great characters that were easy to relate to. Both Wren and Gregori were easy going and passionate. They were both hesitant about relationships, especially Grigori who avoided them like the plague.

Then there was that explosive chemistry between them. Once again, Lauren Dane delivered in that respect. Their connection and chemistry was easily palpable with each of their interactions. It was both frustrating and entertaining to watch them with each other. One step forward, two steps back. Repeat and then BOOM! All that unleashed passion, which made for a nice read.

All in all, Cake was a short, quick and sexy read that left me wanting more simply because the characters were intriguing and their story one that was both hot and romantic. Another winner for Lauren Dane!

I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.