Showing posts with label Sarah Mayberry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sarah Mayberry. Show all posts

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Upcoming Releases: Contemporary Romance, Erotica & Suspense

I love contemporaries -- romance, erotic and suspense. Following I've highlighted a few upcoming releases I'm looking forward to reading in the near future.

MEGAN HART: Every Part of You Serial

Every Part of You: Tempts Me, Part #1 -- Released February 4, 2014 by St. Martin Griffin
She likes to watch. He likes to keep hidden. Total opposites on a collision course to a relationship neither can deny.

Simone Kahan's been watching Elliott Anderson through her office window for months. He likes to bring women back to his office for late-night trysts, and Simone enjoys her voyeurism until one night, Elliott appears to go too far with his date. The other woman might not be into spanking, but Simone is, and when she meets Elliott in the elevator later that night, she makes sure he’s intrigued enough by her to ask her to go with him to the party he no longer has a date for.

Thrown together by circumstances he’d never have imagined, Elliott isn’t sure what to think about Simone. She’s nothing like the women he normally dates, but something about her draws him in until he can’t stop himself from wanting her…until their goodnight kiss becomes something harder. Harsher. Simone responds to his rough hands as no woman ever has, and Elliott’s not ready to pursue what he’s always told himself is wrong.
A contemporary erotic serial with subsequent episodes released as follows:
Every Part of You: Resists Me #2 - Releasing February 18, 2014
Every Part of You: Taunts Me #3 - Releasing March 4, 2014
Every Part of You: Denies Me #4 - Releasing March 18, 2014
Every Part of You: Takes Me #5 - Releasing April 1, 2014


Her Kind of Trouble: Back to You -- Releasing March 18, 2014 (Print ed.) April 1, 2014 (Kindle ed.) by Harlequin Superromance
It takes one to know one

The moment Vivian Walker spies Seth Anderson she knows they're a match made in hedonistic pleasure. And everything that happens between them proves her right. Even better, they both agree their one night together is all they'll share.

Now, years later, Seth remains one of Vivian's favorite memories. Surely the sizzling chemistry has faded, though, right? Apparently not. Because when she sees him again he's still sinfully attractive. More than that, she actually likes the man he is. When Seth suddenly becomes a full-time dad to a newborn, Vivian falls hard. Despite the changes, however, she knows Seth will never settle down. And he will definitely never commit to one woman. So she needs to strengthen her defenses before she gets into real trouble!


The Collector -- Releasing April 14, 2014 by Putnam Adult
When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one. . . .
Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her. But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession. . . .

KATE ANGELL: Barefoot Williams Series

No Sunshine When She's Gone -- Releasing April 29, 2014 by Kensington Books
Life's a Beach

Though his family owns the charming beachside town of Barefoot William, Aidan Cates is as down-to-earth as the locals. He's also practical to a fault and doesn't believe some psychic on the boardwalk can predict his future.

Jillie Mac is as free as an ocean breeze, so when the hot stranger and his date mistake her for a fortune teller, she's ready to have some fun. But one devastating secret told, one mistaken identity revealed, and numerous long summer nights later, it's Jillie and Aidan who discover that sometimes love comes with a simple twist of fate.


It Happened One Wedding -- Releasing May 6, 2014 by Penguin Group USA

After a humiliating end to her engagement, investment banker Sidney Sinclair is done with commitment-phobic men. But when her sister winds up engaged after a whirlwind courtship, Sidney is thrown into close contact with exactly the kind of sexy playboy she wants to avoid—the gorgeous best man. She’s stuck with him, for better or worse, until her sister walks down the aisle, but that doesn’t mean she has to give in to his smooth advances, no matter how tempting they are…


Special agent Vaughn Roberts always gets his man on the job and his woman in bed. So Sidney’s refusal to fall for his charms only makes him more determined to win over the cool and confident redhead. Only what starts out as a battle of wills ends up as a serious play for her heart. Because the one woman who refuses to be caught may be the only one Vaughn can’t live without…

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

TBR Review: Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

There are many 2012 releases gracing my TBR at the moment. At this point, quite a few of them make up what I'm calling my "regrets list" -- books I regret not reading last year. Well, Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry, a book I purchased as soon as it released but for some reason never read, is definitely one of them. Was it that very bland lavender looking cover? Or was it the predictability of the blurb that did not set this book apart for me?

Being a single dad was never on Michael Young's agenda. Yet with the sudden loss of his wife, that's exactly the role he has. On his best days, he thinks he can handle it. On his worst... Luckily, family friend Angie Bartlett has his back, easily stepping in to help out.

Lately, though, something has changed.

Michael is noticing exactly how gorgeous Angie is, and how single she is. She's constantly in his thoughts and he feels an attraction he never expected. Does he dare disrupt the very good thing they have going? If they have a fling that goes nowhere, he stands to lose everything - including her. But if they make it work, he stands to gain everything!
Whatever the reason, I should have known better from my experience with Sarah Mayberry's writing style and enjoyment of her SuperRomance stories, not just those from Harlequin's Blaze line. I know that she has the ability to turn a long-used plot device that reeks of predictability into an emotionally charged contemporary story about people -- friends, family, and lovers -- that become more than two-dimensional caricatures on the page. I absolutely love that aspect of Mayberry's writing, particularly since she can achieve this... "magic" in a short format.  Of course, that's exactly what happens in Within Reach.

The story's main plot device is riddled with a big romance taboo -- the best friend who falls in love with her dead friend's husband and vice-versa, and the reader gets to meet this best friend in all her glory before she dies. A no-no if I ever heard of one. Angie Barlett's BFF Billie dies suddenly leaving two small children and a heartbroken and grieving husband behind. Ten months later Angie realizes that Michael's grief has taken a turn into such a deep depression that the children are also affected. Billie would not have wanted that at all, so Angie takes charge and with a loving but tough hand tells Michael he needs to shape up fast.

Michael is a great father and reluctantly takes her advice. The two slowly become real friends fond of each other, backing each other up in times of need and talking about their daily concerns. Michael in particular comes to depend on Angie as she makes herself available to help with the children's care when he returns to work. In return, he helps Angie by providing a space in his home when she needs a studio for her jewelry-making business. But all that close contact leads to Angie slowly becoming aware of Michael as a man, and eventually Michael begins to see Angie as a woman. They are both horrified and initially deny the attraction. Angie feels like she is betraying her best friend and Michael feels like he's cheating on his wife just by looking at Angie. They pull back from each other, but when the attraction turns to passion, will Michael forgive himself? Will Angie? Can they keep their friendship? What if it's more than passion?

This was such an emotional read! First because Mayberry actually introduces the readers to Billie and then because Michael and Angie's grief is palpable throughout the development of the romance. When I first began reading this romance and met Billie I didn't think there was any way that I would be able to connect with Angie as Michael's romantic partner, but Mayberry works this relationship beautifully by digging deep into these two people's grief and then developing a true friendship, so that eventually the passion and love that emerges becomes inevitable and acceptable to the reader. There is just no other answer but for Angie, Michael and his children to become a happy family.

Did I mention passion? I couldn't believe how carnal and steamy this romance becomes in the midst of all the emotional and guilty baggage that Michael and Angie carry around. Steam, heat and chemistry abound once this couple gets together and yes, this is surprising particularly for an angsty SuperRomance.

Problems? Yes.... I did have a nagging problem at the end there. I loved that Angie and Michael found happiness together, a love made up of true friendship and passion where Billie's memory could live without being ignored or resented. But.... as much as I loved Billie, I wish (and this is my personal preference) that Michael and Angie had time to enjoy more of that romance, that passion and love without Billie's ghost haunting them. The book ends when that lovely relationship is about to begin... a much deserved happy ever after.

Within Reach is a beautifully developed, meaty contemporary romance with some amazing character development and a subject matter that may push buttons, but that Mayberry works with a deft touch. If you haven't read it yet, please don't wait, it's worth the read.

Theme: Shorts
January 2013
Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: None
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin SuperRomance/August, 2012
Grade: A-

Visit Sarah Mayberry here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

May 2012: Reads + Updates

May is over! During May I celebrated my 3rd bloggiversary by reading and reviewing books by authors whose works I have recommended throughout the past three years. Favorite authors.

I was lucky that many of them had recent releases, and was able to read and/or review books by Mary Balogh, Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Mayberry, Carrie Lofty, Nalini Singh, Lisa Dale, Alex Jeffers and Steve Berman. And since I love to 'discover' new-to-me authors, there a few of those in there too. I'll be following up by reading Catherine Lundoff, Sally MacKenzie and Annika Martin. :)

As you can see, May was definitely a great month!

May Books Read: 20
 Contemporary: 5
 Historical Romance: 6
 Paranormal Romance/Sci-fi: 1
 Fantasy: 1
 LGBT: 7 (Fantasy=2, Romance=5)

1.   The Proposal by Mary Balogh: B-
2.   Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky #1) by Elizabeth Bear: A-
3.   Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff: B
4.   Firooz and His Brother (Free Short Story from Wonder Stories) by Alex Jeffers: *NG
5.   The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro #2) by Nora Roberts: C+
6.   College Boys by Daisy Harris: C
7.   Addicted to You by Bethany Kane: C+
8.   Under Her Uniform by Victoria Janssen: B-
9.   A Promise of Safekeeping by Lisa Dale: B+
10. The Charm School by Susan Wiggs: B+
11. Boys of Summer edited by Steve Berman: B
12. The Hostage Bargain by Annika Martin: B
13. Hard Tail by J.L. Merrow: B
14. Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry: B+
15. Frog by Mary Calmes: C+
16. A Little More Scandal by Carrie Lofty: B+
17. Bedding Lord Ned (Duchess of Love #1) by Sally MacKenzie: B-
18. Permanently Legless by J.L. Merrow: C+
19. The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone: (Upcoming Review)
20. Tangle of Need (Psy/Changeling #11) by Nalini Singh: B
     *NG = No grade yet, will save it for the book release (Great story though!)

Upcoming Reviews:

Currently Reading:

If you go by my grades, my top reads last month were Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth BearHer Best Worst Mistake by Sarah MayberryA Little More Scandal by Carrie LoftyThe Charm School by Susan Wiggsand A Promise of Safekeeping by Lisa Dale. However, those "B" grades were really enjoyable too! 

How about you? Did you find any treasures in your book pile last month? 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Quotes" of the Month

Did everyone have a great weekend? I just got back to work today after the holiday. It was a hot, hot day! It actually felt like summer. Nice.

I didn't read half of the books that I planned to read during my three day weekend, but had a very nice time. Today instead of a review, I gathered a few quotes that stood out from some of the books read this month -- a few of them will be added to my collection.

She had never believed in fate. She still did not. It would make nonsense of freedom of will and choice, and it was through such freedom that we worked our way through life and learned what we needed to learn. -- Gwen, The Proposal by Mary Balogh
Better to be a neutered wizard than a woman. -- Samarkar-la, Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear
To really get to know someone, get them out of their comfort zones -- out of their usual context. Then watch and learn. -- Lauren, A Promise of Safekeeping by Lisa Dale
She needn't have worried. Becca Thornton at fifty might as well have been invisible. Carts went around her, younger women picked up the romance novels, men old and young picked up the sports and car magazines, and not one of them noticed anything different about her.  -- Becca, Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff
Sweetheart. . . You think I'm going to let you go now that I have you in my clutches? You think I want to go back to living in black and white now that I know what Technicolor looks like? - Martin, Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry
"It's inappropriate to shoot the bad art," I said. Odin squinted. "We're criminals, baby. Everything we do is inappropriate." Melinda/Isis and Odin, The Hostage Bargain by Annika Martin
"Or if you're nervous about pain, you could consider getting your intimate hair dyed. It'd cover up the grey beautifully. It was nice seeing you, Tim." She swept up again, leaving me standing there, mortified. I had grey pubes? She'd seen my grey pubes? I mentally added tweezers to the shopping list. Tim and Olivia, Hard Tail by J.L. Merrow

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry

She thinks he's stuffy. He thinks she's spoilt.
Then the gloves come off and so do their clothes!

For six years Violet Sutcliffe has known that Martin St Clair is the wrong man for her best friend. He's stuffy, old before his time, conservative. He drives Violet nuts - and the feeling is entirely mutual. Then, out of nowhere, her friend walks out just weeks before her wedding to Martin, flying to Australia on a mission of self-discovery. Back in London, Violet finds herself feeling sorry for suddenly-single Martin. At least, she tells herself it's pity she feels. Then he comes calling one dark, stormy night and they discover that beneath their mutual dislike there lies a fiery sexual chemistry.

It's crazy and all-consuming - and utterly wrong. Because not only are they chalk and cheese, oil and water, but Martin once belonged to her best friend. A friend Violet is terrified of losing. What future can there be for a relationship with so many strikes against it?
I loved this story of opposites attract by Sarah Mayberry. The initial give and take dialog alone was worth picking up Her Best Worst Mistake, but what kept me reading were the characters, emotions, and hotness that followed.

Martin is engaged to Elizabeth and Violet is Elizabeth's best friend. Violet thinks Martin is a boring, stuffed shirt and he thinks she's an attention getter and disapproves of her revealing wardrobe and loud ways. She thinks he's the wrong man for her best friend, and they both grate on each other's nerves, badly.
How do I dislike thee, let me count the ways.
When Elizabeth walks out on Martin a few weeks before the wedding and leaves for Australia to find her father and self-fulfillment, Violet finds herself constantly thinking about Martin, and believing that what she feels for him is pity seeks him out with a gift to make him feel better -- a bottle of schnapps. Of course Martin doesn't take what he sees as Violet's gloating well at all, particularly since she has been his nemesis for six years, and what begins as a rare good will move from Violet ends up in a great scene where the gloves come off!

Later, Martin gets a bit tipsy from drinking schnapps and begins to wonder why Violet chose this particular drink as a gift. He realizes that a year ago at a bar he tried schnapps and loved the taste of it, then remembers that Violet was there wearing a sparkly purple dress, too short and showy as always and . . . purple stilettos. Then it hits him, a year ago . . . and he remembers?
As though he'd opened a floodgate within himself, a storehouse of Violet-tinged memories fell out. The fact that she hated escargot but adored truffles. The fact that she'd once queued for days to buy tickets for a George Michael concert. The fact that she absolutely refused to learn the names of any players for any of the country's football teams, even though it required a concerted effort to forget the headlines and news reports focusing on the country's national obsession.

The fact that she rarely wore a bra, leaving her small breasts free to bounce with the sway of her walk.

A slightly tipsy Martin goes to Violet's place to find out why she gave him that bottle of schnapps, and then phew . . . all that hostility and aggression turn to burning passion as the two wind up on Violet's couch and stick-in-the-mud, Droopy Drawers Martin melts the heck out of Violet with all that heat! Violet immediately feels guilty about having slept with her best friend's ex and goes on a loop of the "I can'ts, I shouldn'ts, but I can't help myself " blues. At this point, Violet's guilt and inability to come clean with Elizabeth become the main conflicts of the story. There's a good resolution in the end, however, although there are valid reasons behind Violet's guilt, this conflict becomes the story's weakness, as the thread becomes repetitive after a while and drags out for too long.

Martin and Violet's relationship as it turns from hostility to passion and finally love is a great ride. They become obsessed with each other. There's great chemistry between Martin and Violet as a couple. However, although there are lots of those sex scenes in this story, Mayberry fully develops the romance and the characters, and by the end, we know that Martin is not just a "sex god" (as Violet refers to him), but also a good man, a sweetheart, her knight, and the one just for her, and that strong, gutsy, beautiful Violet is the woman that was meant for Martin all along.

Her Best Worst Mistake is only 155 pages long, yet when done it feels as if this contemporary romance is a much longer read. As it is often the case, this is due to Mayberry's excellent characterization, a plot that is focused on the main characters and offers emotional and amusing moments, excellent dialog, and some extremely hot scenes! A highly enjoyable contemporary romance by Ms. Mayberry.

Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: None (related)*
Publisher/Release Date: Small Cow Prod Pty Ltd/May 5, 2012 - Kindle Ed.
Grade: B+

Visit Sarah Mayberry here.

*Related book:
Hot Island Nights (Harlequin Blaze)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Contemporary Minis: Sarah Mayberry, Victorial Dahl and more...

Happy Sunday! I hope all who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful long weekend! I certainly did. Today I've grouped four recent contemporary romance reads from Harlequin and am sharing them via mini-impressions -- two recent releases and two older ones. The grades range from B+ to B- so they all turned out to be enjoyable reads for different reasons.


All They Need by Sarah Mayberry

I really enjoy Sarah Mayberry's contemporary romances, but I was hesitant to read All They Need because well... it deals with Alzheimer's and that kind of hits home. However, Mayberry seems to explore these serious subjects with sensitivity and in the end that's what changed my mind. It was an emotional read for me and of course that touch of realism hit me hard, but the romance balanced it out. That's what Mayberry does so well.

Mel and Flynn's romance develops nice and slow. Flynn is a heck of a guy. At times I thought he was too perfect, but that's not necessarily true. I think it's good that he shows his self-absorbed side at the beginning because for the rest of the story, he's pretty much understanding, sweet, passionate and loving. Mel? Well, Mel has been traumatized by her marriage and the psychological abuse her ex-husband dished out during all that time. She's not ready for a long term relationship, and although she allows passion to rule her relationship with Flynn, her heart and head are another matter. That becomes the real conflict between them. Lack of trust and real emotion. I had a couple of issues with this romance, mainly to do with Mel's change of heart and unseen character growth. However overall, I found this to be another solid contemporary romance by Ms. Mayberry. (Harlequin, November 1, 2011): Grade B


Real Men Will (Donovan Brothers Brewery #3) by Victoria Dahl

I liked Eric Donovan when I first met him in Good Girls Don't. I know... I know... he was tough on the kids (and kids they were, and to me they still are at the end of this series if you go by their immature and self-centered regressive behavior), but to me both those kids needed a good kick in the butt. True, he didn't always handle things correctly, but then when taking into consideration the circumstances he did the best he could and should have been admired for it. His siblings didn't really seem to appreciate Eric's position and that was a real shame. But anyway... enough about the frustrating sibling relationship and on to the romance.

I was happy that Eric found himself a woman, and Beth was definitely good for him. Their relationship began as a one night stand based on a lie, and later on continued as a steamy and sensual sexual relationship between adults that slowly developed into more. These two people had baggage and they both had to struggle to make a complex relationship a success, so as it turned out it was even sweeter when at the end it did. This was a highly enjoyable contemporary for me because I really liked both central characters and their romance. (HQN Books, October 25, 2011): Grade B+


I also read two contemporary category romances that are older releases, but turned out to be quite fun! The first one is Sex, Straight Up by Kathleen O'Reilly (Blaze #388), the second book in the Those Sexy O'Sullivan's trilogy and Daniel O'Sullivan's story. I was really surprised at how good and sexy this story turned out and I liked it more than the first book. Why? Well, mainly because Daniel is a widower still grieving for his wife who died during the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 and he was so reluctant to let her go. However, in this book (as opposed to the first one where the male was the only reason for my grade) the female character, Catherine Montefiore, made a difference and provided balance. She turned everything around and made this story really work for me. I found this one to be a sexy, emotional and satisfying read. (Harlequin, April 1, 2008): Grade B


The other book is By the Book by Nancy Warren (Blaze #85). Now this one was fluffy, fun and just what I needed to read at the time. Shari decides she's going to have a hot date and maybe a night with the hunky downstairs neighbor, but when she sees that he sent for a book with the title "Sex for Total Morons" she changes her mind. Luke is not about to let her, so he asks her to help him get through part of the book, and hmm.. she becomes his tutor -- just for the first few chapters. Riiiight! Of course, we all know who wrote the book, yes? This one turned out to be a book where characters have lots of preconceived ideas on all sides, with lots of fun dialogue, funny situations and sexy circumstances. As I said above, fluffy, fun and read at just the right moment. (Harlequin, May 1, 2003): Grade B-

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: One Good Reason by Sarah Mayberry

It's time to move on...

Any day now Jon Adamson will pack his bags and hit the road. After all, his intention was never to hang around Melbourne once he’d settled his late father’s affairs. Yet he hasn’t moved on. And it might have something to
do with Gabby Wade. The not-so-big office manager with the really big attitude is making Jon’s days…interesting…engaging…fun. It’s impossible for him to resist her.

But he knows himself—long-term commitments and cozy family dinners aren’t his style. If that’s what the future holds, why is he still here? And why is he spending all his days—and nights—with Gabby? Because maybe she’s the one reason strong enough to make him stay.

What if you discovered that all you ever wanted were the things you’d left behind?
I'm so glad I read One Good Reason by Sarah Mayberry. After reading The Last Goodbye, I just had to know what happened to Tyler's brother Jon. It was worth it because as it turns out, I enjoyed Gabby and Jon's romance more than Tyler and Ally's.

After his father's death, Jon is still dealing with the fallout. He finds himself at loose ends and unable to work out serious issues from his past that are not allowing him to move forward with his life. Jon sold his business in Canada and doesn't really know what to do with himself, so his brother Tyler talks him into working for him at T.A. Furniture Designs on a temporary basis with hopes that he'll stick around. There, Jon meets Gabby, the shop's administrator and Tyler's right hand woman. Their first meeting doesn't go well and sets the stage for a hostile beginning to a relationship full of tension.

Gabby is a self-sufficient woman who doesn't really want to need anyone. She can do just about everything quickly and efficiently when it comes to the business. But after her long three year relationship with Tyler, Jon's brother, and the way their relationship ended, Gabby is suffering from low self-esteem. She really likes Tyler's wife Ally, but some residual feelings for Tyler linger and she has to deal with those. The last thing she needs in her life is Jon. As far as Gabby's concerned Jon is a silent, overprotective, too controlled man who reminds her of his brother in too many ways.

I like the increasingly hostile way in which Gabby and Jon demonstrate their initial attraction, it makes for a great explosive scene once they release all that hostility. The dialogue between them helps to build all that sexual tension with all the snap and sizzle, especially with Gabby's sass. Jon, well.. he's the strong, silent, passionate type that turns out to be too sweet for words!

Gabby is a bit of a PITA at times with her uber-independent woman of the year personality, although Jon's over protectiveness of her is a bit much toward the beginning, especially when he doesn't really know her. However, she really is oversensitive and overreacts most of the time with Jon. Now, the fact that Jon questions Gabby's sexuality based on her short hair, her lack of make-up, the way she dresses, her hostility toward him as a male, AND that she's having dinner with a girlfriend, is an assholish thing to do to say the least. That he verbalizes this to her in front of others is really idiotic in my opinion.

However, this book is really not about those dumb moments these two (evenly and briefly) share. It really is about both of them coming to terms with their pasts as they fall passionately in love and move forward together. Jon with the abuse he experienced as a child at the hands of his father, and Gabby with feeling unlovable because of the way her relationship ended with Tyler. Mayberry really digs into both of these characters' fears, guilts, vulnerabilities and strengths. She builds on those one step at a time as they first see themselves for who they've become, and then open up to each other slowly and painfully.

Jon's situation in particular is a painful one and Mayberry does a bang-up job of portraying this man's tough and uneasy journey out of the darkness. His yearning and passion for Gabby and for a life with her is heartbreaking. Gabby's combination of strength, vulnerability and insecurities make her quite human and therefore a great female protagonist for this story.

I thought the timeline for the romance was a bit rushed and I'm surprised because Mayberry usually does a better job with this. However, again the characterization is excellent in this book as both Jon and Gabby are well fleshed out throughout that short time-line. The focus on the couple is maintained throughout, although Tyler and Ally do play an important part in this story as they should.

One Good Reason is a solid, sexy, sweet romance that really hit the spot for me.

Category: Contemporary Romance (Category Romance-HSR)
Series: None -- See below
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin, August 2, 2011 - Kindle Edition
Grade: B

Visit Sarah Mayberry here

Related books:
The Last Goodbye
One Good Reason

Monday, March 28, 2011

Minis: Karina Bliss and Sarah Mayberry

Here Comes the Groom by Karina Bliss

If Jocelyn Swann weren't so furious, she'd probably laugh. Her best friend, Dan Jansen, has launched a campaign worthy of his Special Forces training to arrange their wedding, from music and minister to flowers and food. What part of no does he not understand?

Their marriage "agreement" was a tipsy scrawl on the back of a coaster…three years ago! It's not a question of love. Of course she loves Dan. She's loved him all her life. If only she could get him to slow down a minute and listen—to be the friend she needs right now—she could convince him that marriage would ruin everything.
Here Comes the Groom is a good friends to lovers story with a bit more to it than just the romance. The male protagonist is suffering from mild PTSD and the female has a secret medical condition that she insists on keeping from her friend. After having lost his friends in Afghanistan, Dan wants to live "life" and decides that he's going to do so by marrying the one woman who has always been there for him, his best friend Jocelyn. She's not falling for it though... as he plans the wedding, sends out invitations, and tries to convince her at the same time.

There's quite a bit going on in this category romance and Bliss addresses the PTSD part of the story as well as Jocelyn's medical condition quite well. The friendship between Dan and Jocelyn is well drawn with lots of humor to lighten up the more serious parts of the story and enough emotion to capture the heart, although I thought that the trust factor in the relationship was a big miss for two people who were supposed to be so close.

The transition from friends to lovers was not the best in my opinion. Dan's motives are explained, but his final realization is an abrupt one and I never quite understood where Jocelyn's feelings changed toward him. There's definitely love between friends and later passion... but for me there was something missing in this story. Grade C

The Last Goodbye by Sarah Mayberry

Ally Bishop knows the settling kind when she sees one. And Tyler Adamson is definitely one. Ordinarily this never-in-one-place-long girl would stay far, far away. Maybe it's the way he looks in jeans, or the way he looks at her, but suddenly Ally is breaking her own rules with dizzying speed. All that Australian temptation right next door…well, there's only so much resistance one girl can have.
As she dives into a fling with Tyler, Ally assures herself she can maintain perspective. After all, he's only here long enough to care for his ailing father. That gives them a time limit, right? With each passing day, however, she falls for Tyler more. And soon she has the strongest urge to unpack her suitcase and stay a while.
The Last Goodbye is an interesting romance by Mayberry, where again she focuses on the romance but manages to dig deep into the male protagonist's past history of abuse to make him a fully developed character. The Last Goodbye refers to two different events in the story. Tyler's estranged father is dying and although there's a history of violence between them, Tyler decides to take care of him until the end. Ally is Tyler's father's next door neighbor. As Tyler finds himself needing and seeking emotional support from Ally, the two fall for each other and have a deeply passionate affair. However although Tyler wants a committed relationship, Ally is not made that way... she lives a nomadic life and only allows herself temporary sexual affairs. She agrees to stay only until Tyler's father dies.

Mayberry again delivers a meaty romance with this book. The characters must deal with conflicts from within and from without -- an abusive childhood in Tyler's case, and a neglected one in Ally's; plus Tyler's father's continued presence and impending death. All of these issues affect them as they are first attracted to each other and their attraction builds to passion and then love. Mayberry uses both sexual tension and her signature sensual scenes in this installment, so don't think that you'll miss out on that aspect of her writing.

My one problem with The Last Goodbye is that Tyler's character is better developed than Ally's and we know why he reacts the way he does every step of the way. On the other hand, the reasons given behind Ally's decisions didn't seem to be enough, and as a result her about face at the end of the story seemed too easily obtained and abrupt compared to the depth of emotions she exhibited while explaining her reluctance to stay. However, even with that one problem this was an enjoyable read for me. Grade B-

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mini: Her Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry

This was a category romance with the friends-to-lovers trope, a favorite trope and a triangle -- not a favorite romance device for me -- so this was a mixed bag. I'm really loving Mayberry's writing and in some ways this was no exception -- she puts together a good book in a few pages.

Quinn and Amy have known each other since they were born -- neighbors in a small Australian town. Amy develops a crush on Quinn at age 14 and she's pretty sure he feels the same way until Lisa moves to town. Lisa becomes their friend and she and Quinn become high school sweethearts and eventually marry. Amy spends 16 years secretly in love with Quinn, her friend Lisa's boyfriend and then husband. It's so uncomfortable and painful for her that she decides to distance herself from her best friends. A year after Quinn and Lisa separate and while they're going through a divorce, Quinn returns to town to help Amy achieve her dream and things change. Quinn is definitely attracted to Amy but things get complicated when Lisa comes back to town.

I liked the main characters and Mayberry again fleshes out her characters and the story. I enjoyed Amy and Quinn's rediscovering their friendship and going from friends to lovers. As always with a Mayberry book, there's sexual tension and build-up and she knows how to write those sensual scenes.

However, although there's no question that Quinn had deep feelings of friendship and then lust for Amy, I did have a tough time buying the true love part of it all -- the "you are the love of my life" and "I want to marry you" love. I don't know... I wasn't quite sold on that. For me, it had a lot to do with the length of time Quinn was involved with Lisa, and the fact that he didn't give Amy a second thought in all that time -- that pesky triangle. The timeline used to develop Amy and Quinn's romance was also a factor.

Although I enjoyed some aspects of the story, first my reservations about Quinn's feelings took away some of that enjoyment, and later Lisa's return and actions gave Her Best Friend a sense of predictability that made this read a mixed bag for me.

Genre: Super Romance/Contemporary
Series: None
Release Date: April 13, 2010 - Kindle Edition
Grade: B-

Visit Sarah Mayberry here

Friday, May 14, 2010

Review: Take On Me (Daytime Divas, Book 1) by Sarah Mayberry

In Take on Me, the first book in the category romance Daytime Divas series, Sarah Mayberry begins with a couple who has a past history. Dylan Anderson was the cool/dumb high school hunk and Sadie Post the shy/plain high school geek.

Their high school history is a predictable one, she had a secret crush on him and he was oblivious, although very much aware of her existence, and of course things didn't end up well for them. While Sadie unwittingly hurt him deeply, Dylan purposefully humiliated her during prom night and neither ever forgot the hurt or the humiliation. Mayberry takes this predictable storyline and turns it into a fun, hot read by using the enemies-to-lovers trope. 

Years later, Sadie and Dylan end up working together on the popular soap opera Ocean Boulevard's writing team. Let me tell you, these two cannot stand each other! She still can't keep her eyes off Dylan, but resents the heck out him, and now he can't keep his eyes off Sadie, but can't abide the woman. This is where all the fun begins! I love the witty, sarcastic dialogue between Sadie and Dylan... the internal hateful thoughts that cross their minds while they lust after each other, and the steamy sexual tension that just builds from all that hostility.

Whenever she'd cast him in one of her revenge fantasies, he'd always been balding and paunchy, with a pronounced stoop. Sometimes she even gave him missing teeth... But unfortunately for her, the years had been kind to Dylan. Not just kind, generous. Really, really generous.....
The bastard. 
This book is funny and hot! And I mean funny moments right in the middle or after their sexual encounters.

After the deed is done:
All the while she tried to ignore the warm throb between her legs. While every other part of her was cringing with regret over what had happened, her vagina was lying back, smoking a cigarette and vibrating with smug satisfaction.
The "hate/lust"part of this story is resolved midway through the book and that's when the deeper development of the relationship really begins. Mayberry fleshes out these characters and this relationship while still having them go at it like bunnies -- after all this is a Blaze so they must. 

The pacing during the second half of the book slowed down, and I missed that fast pace and tension that really had me going during their "hate/hate" lust-filled exchanges. Overall, Take on Me was a solid fun read with lots of steam and a sweet ending.

Genre: Contemporary Category Romance
Series: Daytime Divas, Book 1
Release Date: March 2, 2007 / Kindle Edition
Grade: Solid B

Visit Sarah Mayberry here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review: Her Secret Fling by Sarah Mayberry

Jake Stevens—star reporter and celebrated literary genius—is a snake. How else to explain the way he turns Poppy Birmingham's hero worship into loathing with a single conversation? So what if she's got a lot to learn about journalism? Aren't they coworkers now? On the same team? Jake can take his attitude and…

Then during a job-related road trip, their relationship goes from antagonistic to hedonistic in no time flat. And suddenly Poppy can't think of anything more delicious than having a secret fling with Jake. But with all this intensity, can she really keep it no-strings-attached?

This Blaze category romance by Sarah Mayberry set in Australia features Jake, a star sports journalist hero and Poppy, a swimmer and Olympic gold medalist who has decided sports journalism is what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

Poppy is naturally insecure about her abilities as a journalist. All she really knows is swimming and her confidence is lacking outside of the swimming pool, but she's determined to make changes and to succeed. On her first day on the job she meets her journalistic hero, Jake Stevens. She has read his book, all his articles, and has a secret crush on the handsome and brilliant man. But Jake is not happy to see Poppy in the newsroom. Oh, she's talented enough as a swimmer and she'll do as a woman, but as far as Jake is concerned, she has no business taking the place of a "real" journalist. Her gold medal doesn't mean she earned the right to be there or the respect due to someone who has worked for it. Jake is blunt and has no problem when it comes to expressing his feelings to Poppy. He even refuses to mentor her.

The antagonistic dialogue and relationship that develops between Poppy and Jake keep the story interesting as the tension grows between them. Jake certainly comes off as a snake at the beginning of the book and we feel for Poppy. During an assignment away from the newsroom, they are thrown together and an unexpected road trip ensues. This is where Mayberry steps up the character development. Poppy and Jake try to outdo each other with snark and as the sexual tension builds and snaps the story gets better... and hotter. This is the point where they begin to really "see" each other in a clearer way.

Neither Poppy nor Jake want to have an "office" affair. They're not interested in a long-term relationship either. They both have baggage they carry from their past that affect their decisions. Yet, these two people can't seem to stay away from each other and before they know it, they are in the middle of a hot, heavy and complicated affair.

In Her Secret Fling, Mayberry again develops a quick paced, full, rich romance in a short format. She gives this couple the time to know each other and a plausible conflict that she resolves beautifully. I love the way she develops Jake from being a total jerk into a lovable, sympathetic character and Poppy into a heroine that is neither too stubborn nor a doormat. There are secondary characters, but the focus is kept firmly on the romance and the main characters. The secondary storylines and some characters are used by Mayberry to give depth to the central characters.

I am loving the way Mayberry writes a contemporary where the hero and heroine don't just fall for each other in one day -- and she does it all in the short category romance format. Another hot, lovely romance by Sarah Mayberry. Grade A

You can visit Sarah Mayberry here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

December 2009 Reads & Minis

Here are my last reads of 2009 for the month of December. As you can see I didn't have much time to review or even give my impressions on most of them, but one. December was a busy, busy month and I found myself writing other posts and not reviewing my books! Now I'm behind, but I'll be catching up with these in January. So, here's my list such as it is.

1) Aftershock by Jill Shalvis - B

Another category romance in Jill Shalvis' firefighter series -- this is a Harlequin Temptation Heat -- I'm really enjoying these! This one is about Dax, the arson investigator that makes an appearance in some of the installments I already read, Flashpoint and Flashback. Again, Shalvis does a good job with this book. The relationship between the couple doesn't just happen, these two have to work for it. They meet under extraordinary circumstances, have a passionate encounter and then meet again a year later. Dax made for a likable and sexy hero, however the heroine wasn't easy to like, I thought. Some of her actions throughout the story were questionable and she let her fear and insecurities affect her decision-making one too many times. That took away from some of my enjoyment of the story. However, the book itself was well done and the HEA was a good one.

2) The Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold - A

3) Demon Night by Meljean Brook
Upcoming Mini

4) Deliverance by Aleksndr Voinov (Forbidden Love Anthology) M/M
Upcoming Mini

5) Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi
Upcoming Review

6) La Playita by Gavin Atlas M/M
Upcoming Mini

7) England's Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch - B

I enjoyed England's Perfect Hero. Lucinda and Robert were a very nice couple and once they got together, they had some wonderful scenes together. The one in the garden was an unexpected treat. I specially loved the hero in this book and how the relationship developed -- it wasn't rushed, instead I found it to be sweet and beautiful. I enjoyed the sexual tension and the attraction between them. Although I more than enjoyed the romance and loved the interaction between Lucinda and Robert, I thought the villain of the piece was quite predictable and was disappointed with that aspect of the book. I haven't read the previous installments in the Lessons of Love series, but I will be looking for them.

8) Wanting by M.L. Rhodes M/M - B+

This story was about a pair of college room mates who have been best friends for four years. A familiar theme but one that I enjoyed more than others. One room mate is gay and one thinks of himself of as straight, but this book is not necessarily a "gay for you" story. It's more of a coming to terms with the truth and coming out romance. Rhodes set it up very well. It's a short story but the characters, Jeremy & Ben (specially Jeremy), go through quite a few changes in this story and not all the changes are related to his coming out. I've always liked the way Rhodes makes her characters three dimensional even when she's writing a seemingly "over-familiar" plot in a short story format.

9) Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips - B

This was an interesting read. The story of Bobby Tom, ex-football player, and Gracie Snow. These two made me laugh quite a bit in the story. I really don't know where I would place this book in my SEP list, but definitely not at the top of my favorites so far, although I did enjoy it. Bobby Tom is a likable, not so likable, likable/egotistical, likable, should get kicked, likable type of hero. Gracie had his number and still had the hots for him... which turned out to be a good thing all around -- a frustrating, enjoyable read. I laughed and wanted to smack Bobby Tom at the same time. But then Phillips tends to do that, she comes up with these thoroughly flawed characters and through character development sooner or later makes them sympathetic. In this case Gracie, the heroine, was the key. Still, it was not my favorite book from Phillip's backlist.

10) A Perfect Game by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine (M/M)
Upcoming Mini

11) Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Upcoming Review

12) A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh
Upcoming Review

13) Her Secret Fling by Sarah Mayberry
Upcoming Review

14) Home for the Holidays by Sarah Mayberry - B+

My last read of the year was Home for the Holidays by Sarah Mayberry, a Blaze category romance. This book, as in many of Mayberry's categories, offers great characters. This is not your regular holiday plot either. The hero and heroine are a bit different, she's a mechanic who rides a Harley and he's a single father who has been a widower for two years. The plot is hot and amusing for most of the book and it felt as if I'd read a much longer book, so the development was excellent. I was a bit disappointed towards the end when I felt the author threw in an emotionally manipulative storyline that I didn't feel was necessary. It jerked me out of the story just as the book was about to end (last two chapters), but it didn't really take away from my enjoyment of the book as a whole. All in all a pretty enjoyable read.

December was actually an excellent reading month for me -- it exceeded my expectations. I read some beautiful books and unlike November, I didn't have any deep disappointments. How about you? How did your last month of the year go? Any good/great reads?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas and Book Shopping!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, or Holidays if you don't celebrate Christmas. I had a few days off and really enjoyed them with family and friends. We enjoyed lots of tasty food, wine and best of all some wonderful times spent with family and new memories to treasure.

I did quite well... received books as gifts and bookstore gift certificates this Christmas -- of course I already added a couple of books to the TBR pile -- some I already read! But then I had a few minutes here and there to myself these past few days in between the cooking, baking, get-togethers and shopping. There's always time for reading, right?

One of my brothers gave me a book as a present from a favorite author, it's Leonardo Padura's latest release, "El Hombre que Amaba a Los Perros." Padura is a Cuban author who has received quite a few literary awards and is known for his "Mario Conde" police detective mysteries -- a series I love and one I'll be re-reading and hope to review this coming year. His latest release came out in September 2009 and as far as I know there's no translation available yet, so I'm not sure what the title in English will be, but the literal translation is "The Man who Loved Dogs." It's a historical fiction piece involving Trotsky, his assassin, the Spanish Civil War, their connection to Cuba and of course a modern time mystery. It looks fascinating and pretty ambitious! I'm really looking forward to reading this book. :)

The day after Christmas my husband and I visited our local book store. I've been thinking of getting that tiny, little book by Mary Balogh, "A Matter of Class." It's a hardcover and I finally decided to maybe get it later due to size vs. price, even though I really wanted to read it. Well, my husband surprised me and gave it to me. Wasn't that sweet? He was paying attention! It's a beautiful little book with a great looking jacket, much better looking in person. I read this book already, of course, couldn't help myself. I'll let you know all about it later. *g*

Going back to Leonardo Padura, while at the book store I decided to use one of my Gift Certificates to buy a few books. I began by buying the first book in the "Mario Conde mysteries series "Pasado Perfecto." I bought it in Spanish because it's my preference, however this book has been translated in different languages, English and French included and it's available. Havana Blue (Mario Conde Book 3) is the title in English. A few things don't make sense -- the title for one, the translation escapes me (literal translation "A Perfect Past"), and why this is being called Book 3 when in reality it's Book 1 of the series, it's beyond me. I read these mysteries back in 1999? 2000? I can't remember the exact year, but my brother passed the copies around to me and to our friends and we all loved them. I want my own copies and will be re-reading all of them.

Next, I chose to buy "Naked in Death" by J.D. Robb, the first in the In-Death series. I joined Christine's 2010 In-Death Challenge and although I lucked out and my book sharing buddy sent me books 2 through 5, I was missing the first one. So, now I'm ready to begin reading J.D. Robb, finally!

I also lucked out and saw Sarah Mayberry's January release "Her Secret Fling" and immediately scooped it up! Now, you KNOW that although I have other books by her in my TBR pile, this is one of the books that was read this weekend. It was perfect for the holidays -- short because I didn't have that much time to read and well... it was romance. I'll let you know all about this one later too. :)

And last but not least, I decided to buy Nora Roberts' "Vision in White" in print. I had it in ebook format, but I have "Bed of Roses" in print and these are such beautiful books with gorgeous covers, I knew sooner or later I was going to get that book in print, lol! I know, I know... why buy a book I already read and I already own? Well... that's just me. I collect her books in print -- I should have known better than to buy it in ebook format in the first place. It won't happen again, believe me!

But, hey that's not all! When I arrived home from shopping I had a little package waiting for me from Santa-baby all the way from the North Pole, via Canada! Santa sent me a book I've heard much about and I've been wanting to read, the New Gay Fiction Anthology, "Fool for Love" edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane. A gorgeous looking print book I can't wait to read because it's all about the "romance." One of the sweetest surprises I received this Christmas weekend. Thank you for thinking of me, Santa-baby!

Well those were my purchases and gifts, I was looking for other books and was not lucky to find them. The Sci-Fi / Fantasy section and even the Romance section seemed lacking, or maybe they just didn't have the books I was looking for. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to go check out another book store. *g*