Category Archives: Contemporary

Review: Summer’s Road by Kelly Moran

summerTitle: Summer’s Road by Kelly Moran
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 298 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author

Summary:

After her father’s death, Summer Quinn realizes just how alone she feels in the world. With no family to fill her life now, she finds comfort among friends, but yearns for true love, contentment, and family. When her boyfriend, Matt, suggests they raise their relationship to a higher level, Summer jumps at the chance to get everything she’s always wanted. Only she doesn’t expect the heat arising between her and her best friend, Ian–a man who never seems to settle down. A man the complete opposite of what she’s looking for. But when her estranged mother reappears after twenty-eight years, Summer’s world completely flips upside down. As secrets from her family’s past and Ian’s true feelings for her emerge, Summer’s now faced with choices she’s not sure she can make. The rest of her life’s happiness hinges on her finally confronting a past she’d rather deny and legitimately opening her heart to love, even if it’s not where she expected to find it.

The Review:

Summer’s Road by Kelly Moran is a lovely friends to lovers romance. It is also an emotional journey of healing and forgiveness for Summer Quinn as she makes peace with her past. But the heart and soul of this wonderful story is the delightful friendship that Summer shares with her best pals Ian, Rick and Dee.

Summer has been unable to move on from the two defining moments of her life-her mother’s long ago abandonment and more recently, her beloved father’s death from cancer. On the four year anniversary of her dad’s death, she is shaken by her mother Sharon’s unexpected reappearance in her life. As if her life is not in enough turmoil, her longtime boyfriend Matt is suddenly asking for a commitment and her close friendship with Ian takes a surprisingly romantic turn.

Although Summer has a very close friendship with her childhood friends, she always holds a little piece of herself back from them. Instead of confiding in them, she puts on a happy face and keeps her strongest emotions to herself. This defense mechanism works perfectly well until her past and present collide and she comes very close to ruining her friendship and, quite possibly, her future with Ian. But help arrives from a surprising source and Summer has a few revelations about her parents and her friendships that help her heal the wounds from her past.

The budding romance between Ian and Summer is full of misunderstandings but lack of communication is probably their biggest issue. For two people who think they know one another inside and out, it turns out they really don’t know each other very well at all. Even worse, they are both guilty of assuming they know what the other person is thinking and this leads some frustrating conversations where they keep their true feelings hidden.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the novel is the close-knit friendship between Summer, Ian, Rick and Dee. Ian, Rick and Dee are more than Summer’s friends; they are her family. The three have been with Summer through good times and bad and their support for her is unwavering. But as they soon discover, their good intentions have undesirable consequences that have hindered Summer more than they helped. Fortunately it is not too late for Summer to make amends for her past behavior and she embraces what she has in life instead of lamenting what is missing.

Summer’s Road by Kelly Moran is a wonderful story of forgiveness, friendship and love. The cast of characters is appealing and beautifully developed. The story line is engaging with plenty of strong emotions. A heartfelt novel that fans of contemporary romances are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Kelly Moran, Rated B, Review, Romance, The Wild Rose Press

Review: The Argentine Triangle by Allan Topol

argentineTitle: The Argentine Triangle by Allan Topol
A Craig Page Thriller (#4)
Publisher: SelectBooks
Genre: Contemporary, Political, Thriller
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publicist

Summary:

After a fall from grace and drastic cosmetic surgery in Switzerland, former CIA director Craig Page is enjoying a new, exhilarating life racing cars across Europe. But when new dangers threaten America and an old friend goes missing during a covert mission in Argentina, will Craig be ready to step up to the plate? Undercover in the glamorous world of Buenos Aires’ wealthy elite, Page finds himself on the brink of a terrible discovery. General Estrada and Colonel Schiller have plans for Argentina, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. A world of brutality hidden in the classified secrets of Argentina’s Dirty War comes to light, painting an image of the cataclysmic future awaiting Estrada’s South America. To expose Estrada and put an end to his plot, Page is forced to implement every instinct, skill, and tool in his arsenal. But when it comes time to close in for the kill, Page meets with unexpected complications-love, lust, and a lethal game of cat and mouse. Hard on the heels of The Russian Endgame comes Allan Topol’s next great thriller. Rife with the exotic backdrops and hairpin plot turns that put Topol on the best-seller list, The Argentine Triangle is a heart-stopping foray into human vice coupled with power accelerating towards catastrophe. In a world fraught with global conspiracy, Craig Page is king.

The Review:

The Argentine Triangle is another exciting political thriller by Allan Topol starring Craig Page.

Craig’s new career as CIA Director comes to an abrupt end when he becomes a political scapegoat for President Treadwell and his closest advisor, Edward Bryce. Fearing for his safety, Craig undergoes dramatic plastic surgery to conceal his identity and amid concerns for his longtime girlfriend Elizabeth, they mutually agree to (temporarily) end their relationship. Now pursuing his longtime dream of racing cars , he agrees to his old friend and current CIA Director Betty Richards request to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of an undercover agent (and friend) in Argentina.

Page’s investigation leads directly to General Alfredo Estrada and his sidekick Colonel Schiller. Estrada’s career began during Argentina’s Dirty War and he is once again poised to stage a coup and put Argentina’s leadership back in the hands of the military. Following an important discovery that could lead to a substantial financial windfall for Argentina, Estrada begins to implement his diabolical plan. Manipulating a young journalist into helping him carry out his nefarious plot, Estrada has ensured Edward Bryce’s co-operation with procuring arms for Argentina.

With the operation completely off the books, Page relies heavily on his instincts and a few contacts as he delves into Estrada and Schiller’s scheme. Unsure who to trust, Craig is forced to make risky decisions that could have devastating results. He is, at first, primarily concerned with Ted’s whereabouts but once he uncovers the truth about Estrada, he is compelled to stop him from carrying out a devious plan that could have catastrophic consequences.

While The Argentine Triangle shares a few similarities to other novels starring Craig Page, Allan Topol keeps the storylines fresh with his ingenious use of factual historical events. He does a credible job combining bits of history with intriguing suppositions of what could happen if the wrong person assumes power and the end result is a thought-provoking and action-filled adventure. The political element raises questions about power, influence and corruption in the US government that are troubling and well within the realm of possibilities.

Overall, another fast-paced and compelling novel old and new fans of the genre do not want to miss.

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Filed under Allan Topol, Contemporary, Craig Page Thriller, Political Thriller, Rated B, Review, SelectBooks Publishing, The Argentine Triangle

Review: Come Undone by Madelynne Ellis

undoneTitle: Come Undone by Madelynne Ellis
Rock Hard Book One
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Imprint: Mischief
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance
Word Count: 92,000
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

On stage he’s dynamite. Off stage he rocks her world.

When red-hot, Goth-metal band, Black Halo, split live on stage, fate throws Daniella Fosbrook into the path of sexy vocalist Xane Geist. Initially, Xane’s only looking for a ride home, but Dani tempts him in a way a thousand other women haven’t. Determined to explore their heady chemistry and avoid hashing things out with the band, Xane whisks Dani off to Monaco for a steamy weekend.

There, Dani tries her best to hang onto her heart and some clothing, while Xane soon loses both. However, Xane isn’t being entirely honest about the reason for the band’s demise.

When the truth comes out, can Dani accept the facts, or will everything come undone?

The Review:

Come Undone, the first novel in Madelynne Ellis’s addictive Rock Hard series, is a delectably steamy erotic romance. But it is also an emotional story that will tug at the heartstrings as Xane Geist, lead singer and co-founder of Black Halo, is dealt a devastating blow by not only his lover, but his bandmates as well. Meeting Daniella “Dani” Fosbrook on the heels of the band’s break up, Xane is charmed by her refreshing interest in the man behind the rocker, but will her insecurities and personal demons withstand the revelation of his deepest secrets?

Dani is a good girl who is still trying to break free of her deeply religious upbringing. One of her biggest rebellions is her longtime devotion to the metal band Black Halo. She is drawn to Xane and his raw, heartfelt lyrics have helped her through the darkest times in her life. Despite her x-rated fantasies about Xane, Dani is not the typical groupie and when she first meets him, her concern for his emotional well-being overrides her attraction to him. Although she knows she is taking a big risk getting involved with him, Dani cannot resist the rakishly sexy rocker when he implores her join him as he tries to avoid the press.

Xane is an incredibly complex and multi-layered character. Estranged from his siblings, Black Halo is his surrogate family but it is his childhood friend and bandmate Steve that he is closest to. Their close friendship is complicated by their relationship with their keyboardist, Elspeth, and their shocking news sends Xane reeling. But what hurts Xane the most is the lack of support from his fellow band members and he just cannot keep pretending that he is ok with their treatment of him. This also coincides with Xane’s need for a more normal life and some downtime from their hard rocking lifestyle.

The relationship between Xane and Dani is a fabulous mix of intensely erotic interludes and genuine emotion. At first, Xane is cynical of Dani’s motives but he quickly realizes her interest in him extends beyond who he is. Of course he is also intensely attracted to Dani, but their connection is just as emotional as it is physical. Neither freely gives up their secrets and while there are hints dropped along the way, it takes most of the story for them to reveal their respective issues. Their sex scenes are scorching hot and plentiful, and Xane does a wonderful job drawing out Dani’s sexually adventuresome side but he never pushes her farther than she wants to go.

The secondary cast of characters is mostly made up of Xane’s band mates and it is hard to like them because they are so dismissive of Xane’s feelings. They are pushy and unbelievably self absorbed, but once about the entire truth is revealed, they become a little more likable and sympathetic. Dani’s friend, Ginny, is vivacious, carefree, fun and much more experienced than Dani and she convinces Dani to give her relationship with Xane a chance.

Come Undone is an exciting rollercoaster ride that is full of strong emotions but all in all, it is mostly angst-free. The characters are deeply flawed but sympathetic and their inner demons are believable. Madelynne Ellis’s brings the novel to a shocking conclusion that will leave readers eager and very impatient for the next installment of the Rock Hard series.

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Filed under Come Undone, Contemporary, Erotic, Madelynne Ellis, Rated B, Review, Rock Hard Series, Romance

Review: Guarded by Cat Grant & L.A. Witt

guardedTitle: Guarded by Cat Grant & L.A. Witt
Publisher: Cat Grant Books
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance, BDSM
Length: 344 pages/Word Count: 105,000
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author

Summary:

On the surface, rock star Jordan Kane has it all. His band No Rules is burning up the charts and headlining a world tour. His bodyguard doubles as a hot, kinky boyfriend who knows just how to push all his buttons. But behind the scenes, he’s suffocating.

Jase Hewitt never imagined he’d have a shot at bedding the larger than life rock star – never mind dominating him – but now he’s worried he’s in over his head. Jordan’s kinks run deep, dark, and sometimes dangerous, putting Jase’s desires to both pleasure and protect him at odds.

They might have a fighting chance at finding the safe, happy medium between what Jordan needs and what Jase is willing to give, but there’s one problem: Daniel, Jordan’s childhood best friend, the band’s talented guitarist — and a volatile, hard-partying drug addict. Jordan is determined to save Daniel from himself, but Jase has been there, done that, and desperately wants to protect Jordan from the inevitable heartache of watching an addict self-destruct.

When Daniel goes off the rails again, Jordan calls off the tour to get him help. Tension within the band skyrockets and pressure from the record label sends Jordan into a dark spiral. Now his band — and his life — are balanced on a knife’s edge, and Jase is the only one who can pull him back… but only if the echoes of his own tragic past don’t push him over first.

The Review:

Guarded by Cat Grant and L.A. Witt is a hot, sexy and kinky romance that is full of deep emotions. This poignant novel is also a bit heartbreaking as Jordan Kane watches his longtime friend and band mate Daniel Barrett hit rock bottom then re-enter rehab. With his life slowly slipping out of control, Jordan eagerly submits to his dominant bodyguard and new lover Jase Hewitt. Will their newfound relationship withstand the stress of Daniel’s recovery and return to Jordan’s life?

Jordan loves performing and touring with his band No Rules, but he has become a bit jaded by his stardom. With little free time to cultivate a relationship, he has a reputation for sleeping with his road crew but these hookups are fairly short lived. His longest enduring relationship is with Daniel and their history is complicated by their own failed romance and Daniel’s longstanding battles with addictions.

In the beginning, Jase is charmingly unsure of himself when it comes to Jordan. He knows about Jordan’s secret kink and although he is hesitant to give Jordan what he needs, their first sexual encounter is explosive. Jase is quick to realize that Jordan is truly a submissive who thrives on pain. When Jordan begins to flounder while on break from touring, he and Jase fully engage in a BDSM relationship.

There is also a strong emotional connection between Jase and Jordan but Jordan’s loyalty to Daniel is a source of friction between them. Jase’s past experiences with an addict provide incredible insight into Daniel and Jordan’s troubled relationship but Jordan is too close to situation to recognize the truth to Jase’s astute observations. Jordan remains hopeful about Daniel’s future, but are his expectations realistic?

An excellent collaboration between Cat Grant and L.A. Witt, Guarded is gritty, compelling and intense but overall, there is very little angst. The plot is believable and beautifully executed. Jase and Jordan are superbly developed characters with well-detailed backstories that add depth the unfolding storyline. Their emotions and struggles feel real and their honesty with themselves and each other is refreshing. The sex scenes are exquisitely detailed and sizzling hot. Although the ending is little predictable, it is absolutely perfect.

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Filed under BDSM, Cat Grant, Cat Grant Books, Contemporary, Erotic, Guarded, LA Witt, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Tough Love by Heidi Cullinan

toughTitle: Tough Love by Heidi Cullinan
Special Delivery Book Three
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance, Red Hots!!, Kink/BDSM
Length: Plus Novel
Book Rating B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author

Summary:

It takes a strong man to be this fabulous.

Special Delivery, Book 3

Crescencio “Chenco” Ortiz pulled himself up by his garter straps after his father’s will yanked the financial rug from under his spank-me pumps. He doesn’t need anyone, yet when Steve Vance steps into his life, the prospect of having a sexy leather daddy on tap begins to take on a certain appeal.

There’s a hitch when he learns Steve is friends with Mitch Tedsoe—the half-brother Chenco never knew except through his father’s twisted lies. Despite his reservations, soon Chenco is living his dreams, including a performing gig in Vegas. Now if only he could get Steve to see him as more than just a boy in need of saving.

Steve’s attraction to Chenco is overshadowed by too many demons, ones he knows his would-be lover is too young to slay. Yet as he gets to know the bright, determined young man whose drag act redefines fierce, Steve’s inner sadist trembles with need. He begins to realize Chenco’s relentless tough love might be the only thing that will finally set him free.

Product Warnings: This story contains glamorous drag queens, exhibitionist secondary characters, and no-holds-barred BDSM play, including watersports. Readers are advised they may well leave this novel feeling uncharacteristically fierce.

The Review:

Tough Love is another boundary pushing romance in Heidi Cullinan’s wildly popular Special Delivery series. This third installment delves pretty deeply in the sadism side of BDSM as Chenco Ortiz and Steve Vance explore their unexpected attraction. Their intense relationship is more than just physical; there is also a strong emotional connection between these two vulnerable men that heals the wounds from their respective pasts.

On the surface, Chenco and Steve seem an unlikely pairing. Steve is much older, financially secure, sexually experienced and heavily into BDSM, edge play and sadism. Chenco is in his mid twenties, scrabbling to make ends meet and not only has he never considered BDSM, he is very selective when it comes to sexual partners. But Chenco has an immediate response to Steve’s quiet strength and commanding presence. And Steve? He wants to protect Chenco and help him through his current difficulties while the dominant in Steve yearns to explore Chenco’s submissive side.

Both men have troubled pasts to overcome. Chenco’s issues stem from problems with his parents. He failed to live up to his mother’s expectations while his father was a homophobic, abusive jerk who took financial advantage of Chenco. Everyone he has ever cared about has betrayed him in some way and Chenco has a difficult time trusting anyone.

Steve appears to have his life firmly under control and while that is mostly true, he is a mess when it comes to his love life. He has a great deal of unresolved guilt from a failed relationship and his sense of responsibility keeps him tied to someone from his past. As Chenco becomes more confident and self-reliant, Steve’s vulnerabilities and fears threaten to derail their relationship.

The BDSM relationship between Chenco and Steve is fairly hardcore with plenty of kink (I definitely recommend reading the product warning). Steve is firmly in control with Chenco submitting to whatever Steve asks of him. While pain is always a part of their scenes, Steve is always quite gentle with Chenco in the aftermath. This dichotomy in his personality is incredibly fascinating and it is sometimes difficult to reconcile the caring, gentle man with the sadist who gets so much pleasure out of inflicting pain. Chenco is definitely centered by this domination and he flourishes under his care.

The characters from the previous novels in the Special Delivery series are integral to the unfolding story. Mitch Tedsoe is Chenco’s half-brother and their relationship is very rocky in the beginning. Mitch’s husband Sam helps smooth some of the rough spots between the brothers and he also helps Chenco understand some of the intricacies of the BDSM world. Randy is still endearingly blunt and while he sometimes oversteps boundaries, his heart is always in the right place. Ethan and Crabtree are also on hand to lend their assistance and all of the men fully support Chenco as he achieves his dream.

Sexy, smoldering and intense, Tough Love is a wonderful love story but it is also a journey of emotional healing for both protagonists. Heidi Cullinan does not hesitate to venture into forbidden territory as Chenco and Steve fully explore their sometimes taboo desires. The novel’s conclusion is sweetly sentimental and incredibly romantic. A marvelous addition to the Special Delivery series that old and new fans are going to love.

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Filed under Contemporary, Heidi Cullinan, Kink/BDSM, Rated B, Red Hots!, Review, Romance, Samhain Publishing Limited, Special Delivery Series, Tough Love