Friday, March 30, 2012

Unwrapping: Review of HOT FOR FIREMAN by Jennifer Bernard

My new found appreciation for contemporary romance is growing by leaps and bounds. Thank you, Avon Romance, for allowing me to read HOT FOR FIREMAN by Jennifer Bernard, the second book in the A Bachelor Firemen Novel series.  When I was first sent this eARC to read, I admit I was a bit dubious. A Bachelor Firemen series? Really? Well, was I in for a surprise!


Katie Dane knows better than to mix business and pleasure, but her new bartender, Ryan Blake, is simply irresistible... and besides, she doesn't plan on working there much longer. That's if things go according to plan. But they never do, do they?

Ryan, the sexy heartbreaker of Station 1, is determined to rejoin the force. Tending bar in the meantime seems like the perfect idea, especially when it means he can spend his nights working next to his sultry new boss... if only the bar didn't keep catching fire.

Throw in a grizzled career criminal, a luscious-bodied barfly, a Bachelor Fireman bachelorette party, a flash-fire romance, and a million-dollar money pot, and suddenly playing with fire never seemed so much like falling in love.

                        *                          *                        *                           *                        *

Katie Dane doesn't want to run a bar, especially a run down bar named The Hair of the Dog which her father loves dearly but which nearly killed him. After her father suffers a stress-induced heart attack, Katie agrees to take over the day-to-day management of the bar until he can return to work. Little does she know that her mother has no intention of allowing her father to come back to work and her father is in no hurry to return either. Having dropped out of graduate school to help out, Katie is faced with a nearly non-existent clientele, except for the Drinking Crew as she calls them who never pay for their drinks, and a huge stack of unpaid bills. The most dooming bill is the one for a balloon payment on a million dollar insurance policy. If she doesn't pay it, The Hair of the Dog is worth absolutely nothing even if it burns to the ground.

Ryan Blake is a fireman, it's all he really knows and all he desires to be. Suspended for anger management issues, he's back in San Gabriel to ask if he might return to his job and his firefighter family at Station 1, home of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel. Nervous, anxious, and still not willing to admit that his temper was what caused his recklessness in the past, Ryan stops in at The Hair of the Dog for a quick drink or two before meeting with his friend and mentor, Captain Harry Brody. Little does he know that, when he walked through the door of the dilapidated looking bar, his life would change forever.

Katie knew trouble when she saw him and Ryan Blake was too good-looking and too cocky not to be trouble. She didn't need trouble when she had enough just keeping the bar going. But when her ex-boyfriend, Doug, who is working as the bouncer at the bar, finds himself unable to handle a couple of guys giving him grief at the door, Ryan steps in to rescue him. Expecting to be thanked, Ryan is caught completely off-guard when the adorable and feisty bar owner chases him out with a baseball bat. So why then, after being told by Captain Brody that he needed to think about Ryan coming back to work as a fireman, does Ryan return to The Hair of the Dog and volunteer to work as a bartender for this adorable, feisty, and totally irresistible bar owner? Only Ryan understands his attraction to Katie even as Katie is one of the non-believers.

HOT FOR FIREMAN by Jennifer Bernard is fun, witty, endearing, gentle, sweet yet steamy hot and oh, so very sexy. It's everything you want in a relationship and that's everything you get in this story. The Hair of the Dog becomes a place where you find yourself wishing you can visit and most definitely hold your bachelorette party especially if you're always guaranteed to have hot firemen do a striptease on the bartop! Wow, did that event stimulate my imagination! Thank you, Jennifer!

I highly recommend that you read HOT FOR FIREMAN by Jennifer Bernard but you'll have to wait a while as it's not releasing until May 29th but I'd definitely say put it on your TBR list. I've remarked before that I'm not a great fan of contemporary romance but I totally enjoyed this one from the first page to the last. HOT FOR FIREMAN is a delightfully fun, flirty story that teases us with spark after spark of flame-inducing steamy romance. Jennifer Bernard writes characters with depth, spirit, and humor. I'm looking forward to reading the others in the series for I sense the curse of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel has not yet been broken.

Happy Reading Everyone!

HOT FOR FIREMAN by Jennifer Bernard, Avon Romance, release date May 29, 2012. Available in print and ebook format.

In case you're interested, the first in the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel Novel series is THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME. I haven't read it yet but if it's as good as HOT FOR FIREMAN, I'm definitely going to! It releases on April 24, 2012 from Avon, also.

Fearless, smoking hot and single: meet the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel. These firemen might be heroes, but it's their bad luck in love that makes them legendary.

News producer Melissa McGuire and Fire Captain Harry Brody couldn't be more different, though they do have one thing in common: they're both convinced they're perfectly wrong for each other.

But when Melissa's matchmaking grandmother wins her a date with Brody at a bachelor auction... Sparks fly. Passion flares. Heat rises. (You get the picture.)

Add a curse, a conniving nightly news anchor, a stunningly handsome daredevil fireman, a brave little boy, a couple of exes, and one giant fire to the mix and Melissa and Brody's love may not be the only thing that burns.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Wow, I was absolutely amazed at the number of visitors who came to read my small rant on 50 SHADES OF GREY, it's now my second most viewed post! Because it was received with so much enthusiasm, I'm glad I presented the Poll: Are Romance Novels Equivalent To Men's Porn?

I've given the subject even more thought and after viewing the results of the Poll, I've come to the conclusion that PORN is most definitely in the EYE OF THE BEHOLDER!!

*   40% of those who took the Poll answered: 
Possibly, since reading a Romance Novel does makes me feel ... well, more romantic.

*   33.33% of those who took the Poll answered:
Yes, most definitely. Totally turned on after reading a really good Romance Novel or even just a really good love scene.

*   20% of those who took the Poll answered:
Most definitely not. Reading Romance Novels is merely a relaxing way to escape the every day duldrums.

*   6.67% of those who took the Poll answered:
Not really, since a Romance Novel doesn't do anything more for me than watching a romance comedy movie.

So, what conclusions can be derived from these results? Let's ask a few questions of the Poll results.

Is reading Romance Novels our PORN outlet?
I don't believe it is. As much as we love our Romance Novels, we still need a flesh and blood partner.

Do we get a thrill reading Romance Novels? 
Yes, I think we do but is that a bad thing? I suppose we should ask our flesh and blood partner for surely they benefit from it.

Does reading Romance Novels threaten our sense of self-worth?
Heck, NO! I believe that if anything it gives us positive images of strong women for whom we can strive to be more like.  Hmmm ... perhaps that's the real reason why men don't want us reading Romance Novels.

Is reading Romance Novels our escape from the crap we deal with daily?
Most definitely, Heck, YES!! I'd much rather curl up with a dreamy Romance Novel with a strong heroine and a sexy Alpha Male hero than do laundry any day.

So now, I'd like to pose another question to you --
Do you prefer your covers to be just pretty like say, this one?  

Or something more steamy and well, fantasy inspiring that might bring on a question like my sister asked when she saw this one - Can I just sleep with the cover?  

Thank you to everyone who took the Poll and also for making the last six months such a good time for me. My blog is now six months old and I'm so proud of it! Thanks for all your support and great comments. I hope to be around for a very long time.  xoxox

Happy Reading Everyone!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Unwrapping: New Release Tuesday!

I almost forgot all the lovely new releases coming out today. I'm having a little crisis ... when my dh and I played musical PC's after Christmas, I backed up my 2nd WIP on a floppy, yes the PC was that old, and now I can't find it! I'm trying very hard not to panic or scream but that was 3/4 of a book and it was really coming together! [my back is getting really tense]

So, to help me take my mind off of it, let's take a look at some of the lovely stories that didn't get lost and will soon be gracing our shelves and ereaders.

They couldn't be more different, but there's one thing they agree on.

In London after a two-year exile, Lord Blakeney plans to cut a swathe through the bedchambers of the demimonde. Marriage is not on his agenda, especially to an annoying chit like Minerva Montrose, with her superior attitude and a tendency to get into trouble. And certainly the last man Minerva wants is Blake, a careless wastrel without a thought in his handsome head.

The heat and noise of her debutante ball give Minerva a migraine. Surely a moment's rest could do no harm ... until Blake mistakes her for another lady, leaving Minerva's guests to catch them in a very compromising position. To her horror, the scandal will force them to do the unthinkable: marry. Their mutual loathing blazes into unexpected passion but Blake remains distant, desperate to hide a shameful secret. Minerva's never been a woman to take things lying down, and she'll let nothing stop her from winning his trust ... and his heart.


When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin…
Time is not on their side.
Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove’s confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.
Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be… anywhere but Spindle Cove.
These unlikely partners have one week to fake an elopement, to convince family and friends they’re in “love”, to outrun armed robbers, to survive their worst nightmares, to travel four hundred miles without killing each other.
All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.
What they don’t have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.
Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble.
And maybe…just maybe…love.

Avon Impulse  (click to HERE to read my review) 

            THE COWBOY TAKES A BRIDE by Lori Wilde
                 Welcome to Jubilee, Texas: where  everyone knows everybody’s business—especially if that business is love!

Ex-champion bull rider turned cutting horse cowboy Joe Daniels isn’t quite sure how he ended up sleeping in a horse trough wearing nothing but this Stetson and cowboy boots. But now he’s wide-awake and a citified woman is glaring down at him. His goal? Get rid of her ASAP. The obstacle? Fighting the attraction he feels towards the blond-haired filly with the big, vulnerable eyes.
When out-of-work wedding planning Mariah Callahan learns that her estranged father has left her a rundown ranch in Jubilee, she has no choice but to accept it. Her goal? Redeem her career by planning local weddings. The obstacle? One emotionally wounded, hard-living cowboy who stirs her guilt, her heartstrings, and her long-buried cowgirl roots…

WANTED: UNDEAD OR ALIVE by Kerrelyn Sparks
He's a vampire from the big city . . .
Phineas McKinney thought New York City was tough, until he was attacked by Malcontents—evil vampires who consider mortals to be snacks. Saved by the good vampires, Phin swore to devote his now undead life to stopping the Malcontents. He's got his job cut out for him when word comes that their enemy may be hiding in Wyoming. What does a city boy like him know about horses and campfires? Good thing he's got Brynley Jones with him . . . if only she didn't hate every vampire on earth.
She's a werewolf princess . . .
Bryn believes vampires are seductive and charming, and that makes them dangerous. So she's more than a little annoyed about teaming up with Phin, even if he is the only bloodsucker able to make her inner wolf purr. But as they hunt down the new leader of the Malcontents, danger threatens . . . and Phineas and Brynley discover a passion that will rock the foundation of their supernatural world.

Well, that's just a sampling of what can be found on this New Release Tuesday and April is looking even hotter!! Oh, btw, if you're interested in a print copy of Juliana Stone's League of Guardians Novella, WRONG SIDE OF HELL, it's now available in print.  Awesome Read!

Happy Reading Everyone!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Unwrapping: Review of A WILD NIGHT'S BRIDE, a novella by Victoria Vane

After reading Victoria Vane's A BREACH OF PROMISE, I excitedly and rather impatiently awaited the chance to read A WILD NIGHT'S BRIDE which Victoria had told me would be a full-length novel. Well, imagine my surprise when she asked me to read an eARC of A WILD NIGHT'S BRIDE and it turned out to be a novella. I asked her about it because I had understood it was going to be full-length novel. She explained that she's writing four novellas that link together to form a whole story involving six characters. The series is called THE DEVIL DEVERE after the one character who connects them all. I love it!! We get more stories in one place. A WILD NIGHT'S BRIDE is the first of these stories and let me just say this, THE DEVIL DEVERE series, ... well, it's off to a great start!


What happens when a struggling actress and a grieving widower come together in a night of unbridled debauchery orchestrated by a bored and machinating rake? WITH THE DEVIL IN CHARGE ... THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY...

She’s a lonely lady down on her luck... Phoebe Scott, alias Kitty Willis, is a struggling Covent Garden actress with a bruised heart and a closely guarded secret.
He’s steadfast and eminently respectable... Sir Edward Chambers, Ned to his intimates, is guilt-ridden over his beloved wife’s death and avowed to live out a rustic and mundane life … of celibacy.
With the devil in charge — there will surely be hell to pay. Devil in disguise, Viscount Ludovic DeVere, is determined to return his best friend, Ned, to the land of the living. His meddling machinations result in a night of mind blowing passion after which “dull dog Ned” awakes to find himself in the King of England’s bed!

             *                           *                           *                         *                          *

Phoebe Scott finds herself down on her luck now that the Covent Garden Theatre has closed for renovations. She needs to find herself a protector, someone who may perhaps pay her bills in return for her affections so that she might pursue her dream of being an actress on the London stage. She allows her friend, Mrs. Andrews, the theatre's wardrobe mistress, to convince her that since Viscount Ludovic DeVere left his calling card for her at the theatre that she should pursue him as a possible protector. She takes on her stage character, Kitty Willis, to attend the grand party at the King's Palace - a notorious bawdy house. Her hope, to meet and woo DeVere into becoming her protector.

Ned Chambers, still grieving widower, has arrived in London to arrange lodgings for when he brings his coming of age daughter, Vesta, for the Season. It's been a long time since he's enjoyed anyone or anything and his old friend, DeVere, is determined to bring his old friend back to life. An invitation to the grandest, most decadently erotic party of the year is just what DeVere thinks his old friend, Ned, needs to get back on track. Ned finds no appeal in the goings - on at the King's Palace until he meets an intriguingly beautiful masked woman named Kitty. When Kitty, who is really Phoebe in disguise, turns her seduction on him but is rebuffed, she informs him that she wasn't interested in him in the first place but that she's there only to meet Viscount Ludovic DeVere. Ned finds this strangely humorous even as jealousy begins to rear it's ugly head.

Viscount Ludovic DeVere is certainly not looking for a commitment with a woman, any woman even one as lovely as Kitty but he doesn't see any reason to forgo the pleasure of her company. When Prince George dares DeVere to try something nearly impossible. Kitty and he concoct a plan dragging poor Ned along on a ride that could land all three of them in the Tower.

Now, I would love to tell you more but then that would take away all of the fun of you reading this delightful novella for yourself. The antics are wonderfully humorous, the dare extremely naughty, and the result will have you smiling long after you finish reading A WILD NIGHT'S BRIDE. Victoria Vane knows her history. She knows her Georgian era so well that you will feel as if you were transported back in time and were experiencing this adventure as your own. The settings, the characters and their speech, all lend themselves to a hundred plus pages of absolute delightful fun and steamy romance with a sweet finale.

A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE by Victoria Vane is a sexy, bawdy, racy, frolicking Georgian good time reminiscent of TOM JONES and MOLL FLANDERS with a hint of THE HANGOVER! I highly recommend you read this novella and if the ones that follow are as much fun, we are all in for a delightfully good time.

Happy Reading Everyone!

A WILD NIGHT'S BRIDE by Victoria Vane, published by Breathless Press, ebook format, release date, April 27, 2012.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Unwrapping: Review of SIMON SAYS DIE by Lena Diaz

I have been a fan of books and movies that center around seriel killers forever. One of my all time favorite series is the books about Hannibal Lechter by Thomas Harris. I love to scare myself so imagine my delight when I opened an eARC from AVON of SIMON SAYS DIE by Lena Diaz and read the prologue which had the hair standing up on my arms and the back of my neck before I even turned the page to Chapter One.

SIMON SAYS DIE by Lena Diaz is her second Avon Impulse release coming March 27, 2012.

Simon says…I’m watching.
Madison McKinley knows someone is watching her, following her, hiding in the shadows. But her clever stalker never leaves proof. The police are too busy trying to find the ‘Simon Says’ killer to waste time chasing a stalker they believe exists only in Madison’s mind. With no one to turn to, Madison must handle her problems on her own–even when her former lover shows up to help. Madison knows Pierce means well, but she can’t risk her heart–or his life–any more than she already has.
Simon says…I’m coming.
From the moment FBI Special Agent Pierce Buchanan knocks on Madison’s door, he’s drawn into a deadly game of deception and danger. He should have expected all this turmoil–after all, Madison’s nickname is ‘trouble’. But when people start dying and the evidence mounts, the police begin to suspect Madison is behind everything. Was Pierce a fool for following his heart and trusting her again, or are they both caught in a game so complex it will be a miracle if they come out alive?
Simon says…DIE.

                    *                 *                  *                   *                   *                    *

FBI Special Agent Pierce Buchanan is not thrilled about promising his buddy, Logan Richards, that he will check on Logan's sister, Madison McKinley because he had hoped to never see her again after she broke his heart. The last time he'd seen her, he was about to propose but before he had the chance she told him that she was bored and wanted to move on. A promise is a promise, however, and since Logan is on his honeymoon, Pierce agrees to make sure Madison is all right. Imagine his surprise when he arrives at her home to find her chasing after a strange man. Pierce follows and ends up getting shot for his good deed.

Someone has been watching Madison in her new home in Savannah. Mysterious notes and phone calls have her very nervous and the worst part about it is that she suspects the man stalking her is her dead husband. Yes, you read that right, her dead husband. The same husband that died in a fiery automobile accident after she shot him trying to get him to leave her alone. Yes, she shot her husband only no bullet was recovered during the autopsy and no one but she and her dead husband know that she shot him.

Madison has secrets. Secrets that she can't tell her brother or Pierce. The police don't believe her reports of a stalker and the police don't trust her. Pierce is having a hard time believing or trusting her either. Pierce is still in love with Madison but because of the way they ended things, he's suspicious of her intentions. Madison, after having been married to a man she thinks of as evil, evil enough that she is armed to the teeth in case he isn't dead and intends her harm, trusts no man. So what's a girl to do? No one believes her and the police don't want to expend any more attention to her problem because they have a greater threat to the community, a seriel killer they call SIMON.

I'm not going to tell you any more because this is a mystery thriller that needs to be read to be appreciated. SIMON SAYS DIE by Lena Diaz is a gripping romance thriller that will have you hooked from the first words. The suspense-filled yet reaffirming romance that emerges from a tension-filled beginning will easily carry you through to the climactic end of SIMON and then make you smile with a touching and sweet epilogue. I highly recommend reading SIMON SAYS DIE by Lena Diaz and I fully intend to read her first Avon Impulse, HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT, as soon as I can find the time.

Happy Reading Everyone!

Also, don't forget my poll, ARE ROMANCE NOVELS EQUIVALENT TO MEN'S PORN?, is still open, so feel free to vote and make your opinion count. Click HERE to go to the Poll post.

SIMON SAYS DIE by Lena Diaz, published by Avon Impulse, is available March 27, 2012, ASIN: B0078XFIQS, ebook format.
You can learn more about Lena Diaz and her other book as well as read an excerpt from SIMON SAYS DIE at her website.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Unwrapping: Wacky Wednesday - POLL TIME!

As you may have heard with all of the talk about 50 SHADES OF GREY, many so-called experts have been saying that Romance Novels are to women as porn is to men. At first, I thought, NO WAY!, then I began to think about what porn does for men. Men are sexually stimulated by what they see. This means that they prefer to look at naked women, make love with the lights on, and look at naked pictures of women and watch porn.

What about women? Are we sexually stimulated by the same things. I don't believe so. Oh, we can fully appreciate a good-looking man with a great physique. We ooh and ahh over the pics we share on our blogs. But do we look at those pictures by themselves and suddenly want to go jump our partner. 

[shaking head] I don't think so. Although, I think I could stare at this guy all day.  : ) 

However, if we read something like:
This was the first time she'd seen his chest bare in any substantial light, and she wasn't disappointed. His shoulders were wide, his chest strong, his belly flat. A thin cluster of golden hair formed a vertical line down the center of his abdomen, starting just above his belly button. Oh yum, was the first, involuntary thought to flit through her mind. Amazing, the second.  - excerpt from FEVER by Joan Swan (my review)

I don't know about you but that stimulates some parts of my imagination that reach far beyond my brain.  : )

Kayt Sukel, author of  Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships, actually submitted to a test where she masturbated to orgasm while her brain was being examined during a MRI. The results were astounding - to men. Frankly, it didn't surprise me. Doctors are just beginning to understand that a woman's orgasm may actually be more in her brain than between her legs. Well, we all know it starts in the brain and ends between our legs. LOL!! What the MRI showed was how Ms. Sukel's brain lit up like a Christmas Tree (her words) in the midst of her orgasm. Yes, we feel it all over but it's mainly occurring in the brain.

Now the question to be answered is what gets the brain to that point. Is it roses and champagne? Is it watching a sexy movie with your partner? Is it looking at porn magazines or films while your man pants and drools over them? What pulls your brain away from the grocery list, the to-do list of chores, or the long list of things you need to do at work the next day?

I would like all my dear lady friends to vote in the following poll and then ask their friends to vote too. This isn't a scientific poll, it's just for fun and totally anonymous so please, answer truthfully. I will let the poll run until next Tuesday around noon, after which we'll see next Wednesday if those experts might be right.  In the meantime, check your bookstores, there are some great new reads coming to stimulate our minds!

Happy Reading Everyone!   Thank you to everyone who took the Poll. This Poll is NOW CLOSED!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Unwrapping: FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E. L. James

A few weeks ago, I saw and read more than one interview/article talking about E.L. James and her book FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. My interest, sparked by all of the controversy, led me to download a preview of the book to my Kobo. After reading the preview, I admit I was hooked. I wasn't hooked by the fact that the story centered around a relationship between a so-called older wealthier man and a so-called younger virginal girl or even that the story concerned BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism), I was hooked because for some reason I just had to know what happened. It was like watching a train wreck - I knew it was going to happen, I knew someone was going to get hurt yet I couldn't look away.

This is NOT an actual review but more of a RANT about all of the hoopla surrounding this book so I hope you'll stick with me on this. I can't give you a review as I will not have read the whole story unless I read all three books.

I'm still confused about what exactly IS the controversy regarding this book. I heard some experts say that it was damaging to women. That a story such as this where an older wealthier man of power taking advantage of a younger innocent girl gives women of all ages a warped sense of romance. That a woman fantasizing about such relationships is dangerous to her sense of self-worth.

EXCUSE ME - did they read the book? Because I did and that's NOT what I read.

First of all, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is NOT a romance novel - not in the true sense anyway. It's been said that this trilogy is a spin-off of sorts of the Twilight series. Although, this author makes it a contemporary minus the paranormal aspects, it's said she drew her original inspiration from the romance that existed between a hundred year old vampire and an innocent young teenager. Of course, I've also heard comparisons to the movie PRETTY WOMAN which I actually see more readily than any comparison to Twilight.
Quite often when I read Ana Steele begging for more from the relationship (she means emotional connection not beatings), I was actually reminded of Vivian, the prostitute, telling her millionaire client, Edward that she wanted more - she wanted the fairy tale.

Whereas with both the Twilight series and PRETTY WOMAN, I felt the emotional attraction as well as the physical and felt the romance surrounding the characters but in FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, you experience only angst, humiliation, anger, resentment and intimidation. There is no happy ending here. In fact, it ended with angry tears and a line that read END OF PART ONE. Imagine my disgust when after reading the entire book on my Kobo, I reached the last page and saw that. If I want to see if Christian ever gets his head out of his ass or if Ana ever grows a pair and tells him where to shove his so that they can possibly fall in love, I have to read two more books. SO EXPERTS - don't compare this book to Romance Novels. It is NOT one and never will be.

Secondly, everything I've read or seen in regards to this book talked about this OLDER wealthier man taking advantage of a YOUNGER VIRGINAL GIRL. 

Okay, Christian Grey is wealthy, very wealthy but OLDER? Read the book. He's supposed to be some kind of business genius who has made his millions and yet is only around 30 years old. Oh my, that's ancient, isn't it?

As for Ana Steele ... oh my, well, she is younger - a whole 8 years maybe, she IS innocent and a virgin, mainly because she's never ever been on a real date. She's a graduating senior from university and she's never really been kissed or much of anything else. That doesn't really make her innocent, it just makes her strange by today's social standards. She has extremely low self esteem and envies her roommate and best friend who has no problems getting action whenever and with whomever she pleases. You'd think after living together for four years, that some of Kate would have rubbed off on Ana, but it didn't.

Christian Grey is a controlling, self-absorbed, emotionally unavailable man who knows immediately that Anastasia Steele is a shy young woman with absolutely no self-confidence who is completely enamoured of him. Whether he is truly attracted to her or to her flaws which make her a perfect target for his dominating ways, I'm still not sure. Whether Ana is truly in love with Christian which is the only reason she submits to his rules and perversions, I'm still not sure. Frankly, I see a young woman with intelligence but lacking in social skills who finds herself intimidated yet completely infatuated with this handsome, intelligent, well versed and very wealthy man who shows her the first real sexually desirable attention that she's ever known. Is she in love with him? I don't think so. I don't feel it. I feel her lust, her need to win him, her need to convince herself that she is truly able to attract such a man. I feel Ana's need to be with Christian as a purely sexual one much the same way that Christian's only need to be with Ana is to satisfy his need to be totally in control of another human being.

Strangely enough, I found Christian Grey attractive except when he was knee-deep into his strange proclivities then my stomach turned as I read the passages. I found some of the BDSM scenes surprisingly sensuous but most of them made me tense and highly disturbed. In particular, the scene when Christian arrives at Ana's apartment after she sends him a sarcastic email. The author can call it what she wants but I read a rape scene that left Ana feeling used, humiliated, and emotionally crushed. Just because a woman is sexually aroused by a man, any man, doesn't mean that she wants the sex. Christian Grey doesn't make love, he doesn't even f--k as he refers to it - he TAKES!! He takes it when ever and where ever he wants. He may say that he is all about giving his Submissive pleasure through which he gains his own but I think he's full of bull and so is the author of this book. This is no romance but rather a study in emotional avoidance and sadistic control.

The author has set up Christian as a tormented, emotionally devoid man even incapable of accepting a gentle touch or any sign of affection. He hates to be touched. He's a man who claims he doesn't date or sleep in the same bed with a woman because he has no need to do so. We see Christian go against these rules with Ana which leads us to believe he might actually be developing human emotions in regard to her but at the same time, he treats her as an object. He approaches her with his offer to let her into his life, into his secrets yet when she informs him that she is a virgin, he's annoyed by this news. Instead of turning her away, he merely shrugs it off and proceeds to remedy the situation. Ana's first experience with sex is one where she is told she cannot touch him, she cannot do anything but lie there, her hands tied with his necktie, and allow him to do his thing. He keeps telling her that everything he does is for HER pleasure which, of course, she believes because she knows nothing else. She has nothing to compare his lovemaking to and so accepts it.

Christian wants desperately for Ana to enter into an agreement whereas whenever they are together or in his red room of pain, as she calls it, Ana is to submit to him in every way but only according to her own stipulations in the agreement. The only problem is that she never actually signs this agreement yet Christian begins to treat her not just as his Submissive when they are together but all of the time. I've researched BDSM enough over the years and seen enough programs referencing it to know this is not the norm. What Christian really wants from Ana is TPE - Total Power Exchange. This is a relationship where he is the Dominant and she the Submissive all of the time, 24/7 and it's not just a temporary, in the bedroom thing, it's all of the time. Christian monitors her every move, who she sees, where she goes, what she drives, what she eats and even what she wears. If she does anything at all that he doesn't like, he threatens her with punishment. Rarely, does he reward her when she does what he wants without his asking. Geez, Ana even mentally refers to him as a stalker. HELLO!

The most romantic, tender, caring thing he ever does is to take her for a ride in a glider which she later refers to as the most special moment of their time together. That certainly doesn't say a whole lot about the time they've spent together, does it? I kept hoping that Ana's enthusiasm for a normal relationship, her influence on him that made him actually want to sleep at her side and to date her, and to actually take her home to meet his family would result in Christian's defenses breaking down. I kept hoping he would curl up in Ana's arms and weep like the unloved child he feels he was. Christian is tormented. Tormented by the meager memories of the first four years of life which I can only assume held a lot of abuse which has left him incapable of showing affection or accepting affection. He sees a psychiatrist but frankly, I think he needs a better one. As for Ana, I think she needs to spend the night in the arms of another man, any man, who will treat her like a woman and not a whipping post.

You're probably thinking, 'geez, she really hated this book' - well, the truth of it is, that I honestly don't know yet. You see, I will admit that once I started reading it, it was seriously difficult to put down. It's been touted as highly erotic and explicit but frankly, I've read much more explicit sex scenes in some of our Happily Ever After Romance Novels than I read in this one. The BDSM scenes were not horrific just unlikable because of the way that Christian was presented in them. He gets aroused by stifling others, controlling others, and giving pain to others. He's not about truly giving pleasure to anyone, not even his family. I can't say if I like or dislike this story because I haven't finished reading it. I have to read two more books to know what actually happens and whether or not I will be satisfied with the end result. Will I read the other two books? I don't honestly know that either. I have not purchased them but I have read the preview for the second one, FIFTY SHADES DARKER and I have the preview for the third, FIFTY SHADES FREED available on my Kobo. At ten dollars a pop, I'll have to wait and decide at a later date if I'll read them - perhaps when I honestly have nothing else to read. But I will say this, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY did nothing for my thoughts of fantasizing and it certainly didn't lower my sense of self-worth. So experts, look for damage elsewhere because you WON'T find it here.

So what do you think of all the hoopla over this book? Will you read it? Have you read it? If you have, I'd love to hear what you thought of it. Please tell me if I'm way off base.

Happy Reading Everyone!!

I'd also like to welcome all my new followers to UNWRAPPING ROMANCE! I love meeting new folks and getting you into our conversations. Feel free to express yourself, we're all friends here.  : )

Friday, March 16, 2012

Unwrapping: Review + Triple Giveaway - Have you the Luck of the Irish?

Love the cover!
I've got a special treat for you today ... a review of BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by Sophia Nash and a triple giveway since it's time to be Irish even if you're not! Read my review of this humorous historical romance and then answer a simple question to enter for a chance to win one of, not only one, not two, but three print copies of the book. Yay! I'm also making this Giveaway open to everyone, US and International.

Blurb for BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, Book I of The Royal Entourage series: Six Regency heroes — One royal hangover!

The morning after the most scandalous bachelor party of the century, the dukes of the royal entourage must face all of London’s fury . . . when not one of them can remember a thing.

Roxanne Vanderhaven always believed herself the perfect wife. But when her husband, the Earl of Paxton, leaves her clinging to the edge of a cliff, she’s forced to face the truth: she married a murderous blackguard. Her eventual rescuer, Alexander Barclay, Duke of Kress, is one of England’s most disreputable peers—a member of the notorious royal entourage, no less–and certainly the last man she can count on. Indeed, the Prince Regent himself exiled Barclay to Cornwall, and now, by decree, the dashing duke must seek a royal bride to regain favor and help quell the public’s fury against the excesses of the crown.

Roxanne desperately wants a new life—after she’s uncovered the cause of her husband’s despicable actions—and she finds herself drawn, most surprisingly, to her unlikely champion. The Duke of Kress may not be quite the scoundrel he appears…but if she gives him her heart, will Roxanne be making the same mistake twice?

   *                     *                    *                      *                       *                      *                       *

As an Avon Addict, I am privy to read books sent to me by Avon Romance and love it. Avon was generous enough to send me several copies of Sophia Nash's newest release, BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA.  Their intention - for me to spread the word and share the copies so with the Luck of the Irish upon us, you, my faithful readers will benefit from the luck and will have three chances to win a print copy of this lovely book.

I opened this book and started reading the prologue.  Within minutes, I found myself laughing heartily. Never has a prologue grabbed hold of me in such a manner which pulled me into the frame of mind that I was really going to enjoy this story.  In the first chapter, I found myself grasped in a state of angst because poor Roxanne was left hanging on the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean and dangerous rocks below. What a switch, but I was still with Ms. Nash. Our hero Alex saves the day and Roxanne. Why was she hanging there? Well, her beloved husband left her there hoping she would fall to her death. Nice guy, huh?

In the following chapters is where I began to waver. The premise of the story is ideal - Roxanne needs to discover the reason for her husband wanting her dead and Alex, along with his Duke friends, needs to redeem himself with the Prince Regent and find an appropriate wife. Roxanne isn't exactly the woman he should be falling for but then again, you can't really help who you fall in love with now, can you?

I like that Roxanne is a grown woman, in fact, a couple of years older than Alex and I find myself cheering her on. My problems with this novel have nothing to do with the premise or the characters - it has more to do with the manner in which the story is told and how the characters are presented. There were just too many characters to keep track of and it was difficult to get to know them as we should. I think Ms. Nash could've waited to introduce us to all of the Dukes who will eventually get their own stories as is quickly assumed.

Another problem I had was the details. There were times when the details overshadowed the story. I wasn't really all that concerned with how Roxanne would dress for a party intended to introduce the maids of the county to all of the Dukes yet when she showed up at her own funeral dressed as a man complete with a fake moustache, I had to wonder where she got the outfit and most notably the fake moustache on short notice. I wanted to get some answers to questions that never seemed to answered such as to whom had Alex lost his fortune and how did he come to be a duke in the first place? The answers were hinted at but never quite given. There were many more but I don't want to spoil.

Roxanne seemed overly preoccupied with her age yet was obviously young in mind and spirit which Alex had a complete appreciation for in more ways than one. Aside from their budding romance, the story spent a lot of time convincing us to read the rest of the series as it came along for answers some of which even the characters seemed preoccupied with such as the missing Duke of Norwich, who is the hero of Ms. Nash's next book in the series. Sometimes, the activities behind the scenes was more interesting than the romance which should have been the center of our attention.

BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by Sophia Nash is humorous and the dialogue at times was downright witty but overall, I felt it was bogged down by incongruent details and too many characters. I adored the Duchess of March and actually took quite a liking to Alex's great aunt, Mémé, even if she was supposed to be rather overbearing.

With all that I found wrong with this book, I liked it. I will probably read more of the series, if for no other reason than to find out what happens to all of the Dukes. Reading BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA is guaranteed to make you laugh, make you wring your hands at times and possibly want to wring a few characters' necks but it's a fun read in the end.

I'm presenting three (3) lucky commenters a chance to prove me wrong. If you're interested in a chance to win a print copy of BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by Sophia Nash, simply answer the following question and please, leave me a valid email address so I can contact you if you happen to have the Luck of the Irish on your side and your name is drawn.

The question, you ask?

Roxanne found herself hanging on the side of a cliff while her husband supposedly went for help. If this was you, would you:
      A. Forgive him and continue on as a dutiful loving wife,
      B. Take a knife to his, ahem, family jewels,
      C. Call the magistrate and have him arrested,
      D. Or let him think he got away with and let a friend take him out?

If you're interested in finding out what does happen to this despicable husband, then you'll want to read BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by Sophia Nash.

Good Luck and Happy Reading!

GIVEAWAY RULES: You MUST answer the above question (if you have a better solution, we'd love to hear it), you MUST leave a valid email address and you've got till 11:59pm on Sunday, March 18, 2012 to enter for a chance to win one (1) of three (3) copies of BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by Sophia Nash. Giveaway is open to EVERYONE!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Unwrapping: Wacky Wednesday Cover Fun

A friend tweeted the following remark to me the other night:
LMAO, I was enjoying your blog and on the right side there is a pic of a ship going down...yep thats what I would be doing.

I knew exactly to which picture she was referring and it suddenly struck me as rather funny also. It got me to thinking about other covers and step backs that I have seen on books that at the time struck me strange or humorous but didn't stop me from buying and reading the book.

As to the picture in question, it's the step back from CAPTIVE OF MY DESIRES by Johanna Lindsey and yes, I thought it strange that it looks like the ship is going down and yet the heroine and hero seem to be in a clench of desire instead of getting their butts to safety. Then again, if you look closer at the picture, the hero is tied to the mast. Shouldn't she be getting him loose instead of seducing him?

I started perusing other covers and found some that certainly do conjure up questions that probably don't really benefit the book inside. Enjoy and feel free to mention your own precious funny cover finds.

How about this one? Can anyone please tell me exactly how he got her in that position? I think she's either scrunched up into a ball so tight that she can't breathe
or she's got really, really long arms!

Then there's this one ... all I could think when I saw it was, hmmmm .... breast sex rather than best sex!
  Is he trying to kiss her or attack her? Perhaps he needs a tic tac, because she sure doesn't look happy?
Love can be torment, but really?

We all know that men should do breasts checks just like women do but I'm not sure if this guy is declaring his love or asking her about a lump in his breast?

This one has me wondering if she's got a tick, run in her stocking, or something curious growing on her calf.

Are these two trying to do the wrestling move,
Rock the Cradle? Hope she's worth it because his
back must be killing him!                    
Don't understand this one ... is he humping the ground next to her? Maybe he thinks he's one of the kangaroos in the background. I actually read this one and remember thinking at the time I bought it how strange the cover looked but I like Connie Mason. 

How about this one? Is he giving her a scalp
massage or about to break her neck?
And this one? Is he checking her for lice? 

Hang on baby!! I gotcha! Who needs to get a pedicure when your guy drags your feet in the desert sand?
OK, I don't even begin to know what to say
about this one? What is this guy doing?
Even one of my absolute fave romances
has a cover that always nudge me strange.
Is it me or does she look like she's got gas??

Happy Reading and Cover Perusing Everyone!
 Hey folks, Dalila G brought this cover to my attention, unbelievable!!