R: Review of Power Shift by Cassandra Carr

Power Shift is a novella about a married couple in a relationship rut after twelve years. Cissy decides to shake things up and take a more dominant role in their love life.

This was a pretty good read. There just aren’t enough books about long-term relationships. I enjoyed the tension between the psychological and physical reactions of the characters as they explored a whole new world of sexual games. At times, the details about the research they both do feels a little technical, but in some ways I liked that they were both being practical about their sexual explorations. It showed how serious they were—Cissy especially—about saving their marriage.

My biggest criticism of Power Shift is that the ending felt very abrupt. I wanted to read more of their story as they continued to work on their marital problems and rebuild their relationship both in and out of bed. As it was left, I wondered if they’d really be able to work everything out after their promising initial steps. For that reason, I have to give this novella 4 cat kisses.

4 cats


Sometimes a wife has to go to extreme measures to save her marriage.

When Cissy Holden doesn’t feel appreciated, she takes matters into her own hands and introduces her wayward husband Len to a new way of life wherein she makes the decisions–and the rules. Will Len give up control or has Cissy just made the biggest mistake of her life?

NOTE: Previously released by another publisher as Unexpected Top.

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About the Author

Cassandra Carr is a multi-award winning romance and action adventure writer. When not working, she enjoys watching hockey, Arrow, and a select few other shows, or hanging out online. Cassandra’s books have won numerous “Best Book Of” awards and her novella Power Shift was nominated in the E-book Erotic Romance category of RT’s Reviewers’ Choice 2013 Awards.

She thinks the best part of being a writer is penning stories about love, adventure, and sex while most others struggle with commutes, micro-managing bosses and cranky co-workers. There isn’t enough money in the world that would entice her to join Corporate America again. She and her muse are sublimely happy doing their own thing.

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Review: 21 Days by Bethany Lopez

21 Days is a steamy romance that is book two in Bethany Lopez’s Time for Love series. TJ loses his job and apartment in one fell swoop, and Sasha offers to let him stay with her until he gets back on his feet. He gives himself twenty-one days to find a new job and place to live.

I didn’t read the first book in this series, but the group of six twenty-somethings, friends since high school, are prominently featured throughout. I had no trouble following this book. It’s a straightforward plot of good friends finding their way as adults. Sasha and TJ both had difficult childhoods due to poor parents, and in TJ’s case, poverty and physical abuse. They’re both gun shy of having a real relationship, and living together challenges the boundaries they’ve set.

The book reads quickly. It’s in first person, alternating between TJ’s and Sasha’s POV. I often dislike first person books from multiple points of view, but Ms. Lopez does a pretty good job of adding in enough details to make the voices distinct. I enjoyed this feel-good story of friendship and love, and give it four cat kisses.

4 cats


Sasha and TJ are no strangers to enjoying sex with no strings attached, so when they decide to act on their mutual attraction, there should be no reason why they can’t apply that same philosophy to each other.

Money has never been an issue for Sasha, which made proving herself as a real estate dynamo a personal challenge she was determined to conquer. Raised in a gilded world masking neglect and disappointment, she learned not to depend on anyone, especially when it comes to love and relationships. Men are great for companionship, but she isn’t looking for anything serious.

Used to going without, TJ has worked hard to be able to support himself. When he loses his job and his home in one fell swoop, he faces relying on others for the first time in his adult life. Then Sasha steps in, offering him a place to stay until he’s back on his feet. He grudgingly agrees, but vows to be out of her guest room within 21 days.

They’ll discover that a lot can change in 21 days, especially when they decide to give the idea of “friends with benefits” a try. As each day passes, Sasha and TJ become closer than they’ve ever been. Will they be able to go back to being just friends when their days together are up, or will they allow their personal hang-ups to get in the way of what they really cherish most?

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About the Author

Award-Winning Author Bethany Lopez began self-publishing in June 2011. She’s a lover of all things romance: books, movies, music, and life, and she incorporates that into the books she writes. When she isn’t reading or writing, she loves spending time with her husband and children, traveling whenever possible. Some of her favorite things are: Kristen Ashley Books, coffee in the morning, and In N Out burgers.

 

Review: Penemuae by Lea Barrymire

Penemuae involves Watchers, Nephilim, and humans that are a bit more than human. It follows the fated-mate trope of many a paranormal romance; this time around it’s Watcher (think sort of fallen angel) Penemuae and human Evelyn (who happens to be one of the few humans who can see Watchers and Nephilim).

There are some funny moments and great lines in this book. One of my favorites was Evelyn’s description of Pen’s scent as “trees and summertime wrapped in cinnamon toast.” There is also some nice interplay between the Watchers.

Despite a good premise, this book falls a bit flat on execution. Grammar mistakes, a dire need for commas, and typos abound, all of which undermined the story for me. I found many of the dialogue sequences featuring more than two characters difficult to follow. It wasn’t always apparent who was talking, and I had to take my best guess. Also, there were a few times during four-way conversations where two of the characters seemed to be talking as if the rest of the characters disappeared for a few moments.

The connection between Pen and Evelyn wasn’t that strong for me. I felt I was being told they were attracted to each other and falling in love rather than being shown much evidence (perhaps too much reliance on the fated-mate trope). Most of their conversations included other characters and were world building in dialogue form (which is a fine way to world build but doesn’t really build rapport between characters). Evelyn’s discovery of the hidden world of Watchers and her role to play in it was a much more compelling story line than the supposed love story.

This book reads quickly and has many entertaining moments, but I just couldn’t love it because I didn’t get to know the characters well enough to fall in love with them. I give it three cat kisses.

3 cats


 

EXCERPT:

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Evelyn and Jessica had met in high school and become fast friends. They’d attended nursing school together and were both hired by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia right after graduation. They were constantly being mixed up by co-workers. Their blonde hair, blue eyes and vivacious personalities were so similar they joked about being twins, separated at birth.

While they were nearly identical in looks, they completely differed in philosophies on life. Evelyn strove to help others whenever she could, softer in heart and soul. Jess had seen evil from a young age, experienced abuse at the hands of her parents and had become harder in heart to deal with the betrayal. She loved strongly and held onto anyone she cared for, but if you hurt her she’d strike back before walking away. Their personalities worked well together, balancing each other out.

“I’ll leave you to your charts. Have fun tonight and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

Jess pulled her in for a tight hug, a signature of the rougher woman. Evelyn soaked in the embrace and smiled. The reminder for the next day had a shot of enthusiasm burning some of the exhaustion away. The first Saturday of each month was their day together. Both made sure to have it off and never made other plans. They’d spend the entire day doing whatever together, reaffirming their friendship, hanging out and usually ending with buckets of ice cream being washed down with bottles of wine.

“I can’t wait until tomorrow.” Evelyn stepped back. “What’s the plan anyway? This month is yours, right?”

Blurb

Therefore shall they never find peace…

The temptations of love and lust brought the two hundred Watchers together. When they decided earthly possessions were more important than divine instruction, they were bound to each other, and the Earth, forever as punishment.

The Watchers can feel change coming…

After three thousand years, and more heartache than Watcher General Penemuae can remember, all he wants is an end. Exhausted in heart and soul, he lives to fight the Nephilim and atone for his disgrace, his only objective to rid the Earth of evil. Until the day he meets her. Evelyn, the human woman who shouldn’t have survived, who can see things she shouldn’t, who makes him want things he’s sworn not to desire again.

Face to face with evil, Evelyn finally has to accept there is more on earth than mere humans when she becomes the target of an immortal malevolence. Saved by an avenging angel with eyes dark as night and remorse to match, she finds herself in the middle of a fight she may not survive.

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About the Author

Lea lives in Western New York with her hubby, three children, and miscellaneous critters. Before the rug rats, she lived a life of adventure, following her husband all over Europe with the US military. She’s slept in a car outside Paris, drove six hours just to see tulips in the Netherlands, and knocked ash from her shoes at Pompeii. Now she spends her time in life’s adventures at soccer games, PTA meetings and school plays.

Lea has loved reading from a very young age, spending many sleepless nights devouring books. Science fiction and paranormal were her favorite genres to read as a teenager, and that love bled into her adult life. She started writing during a bout of insomnia, to fill time, and found it filled a creative void. Now she communes regularly with the characters in her head and tries not to laugh out loud when they say something funny.

When Lea isn’t reading, writing or corralling kids, she enjoys watching movies and sciencey shows, or just kicking back and listening to some music.

She loves hearing from readers. Find her hanging out on the web at:

Review: All That’s Unrealized by Constance Phillips

All That’s Unrealized is book three in Constance Phillips’ Sunnydale Days series. This installment is the story of Rhonda, who is back in town visiting her cousin, and Trevor, a physical therapist and fairly recent transplant to town. Rhonda and Trevor became fast friends despite Rhonda living away from the town, but they both feel an attraction that begs for a more intimate relationship. When Rhonda comes back to town for a visit, Trevor has no doubts, but Rhonda doesn’t want to give up her chances for a career in high fashion to move back to the small town where she grew up.

I thought this story wasn’t quite as predictable as the last book in the series (you can see my review here). The story moved along faster for me, but I still found myself a little bored at times. Ms. Phillips’ writing style includes more interior monologue than I prefer, and my conclusion is that that is the main reason why both books I’ve read by her have dragged for me. I also wished there was more interaction between Rhonda and Max. Since Trevor has custody of his brother (who is a young teenager), I would’ve expected there to be more input from him or some bonding between him and Rhonda.

I give this sweet romance 3.5 cat kisses.

3.5 cats


In a month, fashion mogul and reality TV judge Conrad Ryse, of The Retail Project fame, has promised to take Rhonda Gables under his wing and invest in her fledgling career. That’s her grand prize after a winning season on his show. Too bad exhaustion has sent Rhonda out of her city apartment, away from her three successful boutiques, and into her cousin’s guest room for a month of recuperation in her hometown.

She’s on the cusp of everything she’s ever wanted, but what will it cost? Doctor’s orders be damned, she balks at first. But soon Rhonda is both delighted and disconcerted by the attentions of her friend-maybe-lover, Trevor Collins, and the contentment she is surrounded by back home. She must realize all she’s willing to compromise and what her heart truly desires.

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About the Author

Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, daughter, two kitties, and four canine kids.

When not writing stories of finding and rediscovering love, Constance is counting down the days until her son and daughter-in-law make her a grandma and planning a cross-country motorcycle trip with her husband for the not-so-distant future…if they can find a sidecar big enough for the pups.

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Review: Her Everything by Tara Andrews

Her Everything is another novella by Tara Andrews in the 1 Night Stand series. This is the story of Rachel and Mark. Rachel’s twin sister is a singer in a famous band, whereas Mark is the guitarist in another famous band. When the two meet at a fundraiser, sparks fly. However, a few complications keep them both from running headlong into a relationship beyond their one night stand.

Some aspects of this story I preferred to Long Overdue (you can read my review here) and some threw me. Early on there were a two things that made it hard to get into the story: 1. there was a short drop of POV that had me reading a section a few times to make sure I was following (a dip into info only Rachel’s sister’s boyfriend could know when we were in Rachel’s POV). I find it more difficult to overcome these types of lapses when I’m not as enmeshed in knowing characters, and in general it sets a bad tone for me because I feel like the story wasn’t given the editing attention it needed. In the case of this book, that feeling played out in the increased number of typos I saw throughout.

The second thing that threw is a minor detail, and one of those things that might only bother me because my firsthand experience contradicts the author’s description. And honestly, I make stuff up as a writer too, so I’m sure there’s someone out there who could find holes in my work. In this case, Rachel wonders how many of Mark’s highly-defined muscles are from hours of practicing the guitar. I happened to be married to a guitar player, who found this thought highly amusing. He’d be happy if he could build muscles by playing guitar, which he enjoys far more than weight training. 🙂

A few chapters in, I let my little irritations go, and I really liked both Rachel’s and Mark’s personalities. I felt more connected to them than I did the protagonists of Long Overdue (which could be because I’m married to a guitar player…). This was a very sweet love story–with some hot sex scenes–in a short package. I give it 3.5 cat kisses.

3.5 cats


Rachel Turner made a mistake—a couple, in fact. Ruining a surprise meeting with the front man to her favorite band is just the beginning. But agreeing to switch places with her famous sister may spell the end of both of their careers. With rumors flying and an unexpected invitation from Madame Eve, Rachel hopes she can put the mistakes behind her.

Attending an event to support a charity close to his heart, Mark Travis wasn’t looking for love, or even company—and definitely not with a fan. But when he puts in a hasty bid at a silent auction and wins the services of 1Night Stand, Madame Eve has something different in mind. A single evening with a woman she claims can fulfill his needs. But one night might not be enough.

Come morning, will Mark and Rachel’s unexpected one-night stand give them more than they bargained for?

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About the Author

Tara Andrews divides her time between a full-time job as an office manager, an even more full-time job as a wife and mother, and her dream job as a romance author.

An avid reader and writer, Tara continuously seeks to hone her craft in order to provide readers with stories that are provocative yet romantic. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America and belongs to a local chapter. As she has learned from her own experiences, dreams do come true and women can live happily ever after. Tara strives to infuse a blend of fantasy and realism in her stories in order to connect with readers’ own experiences, hopes and emotions.

Tara lives in upstate New York with her wonderful husband and two fabulous children.