Rules for the Reckless series by Meredith Duran

I’ve been reading my way through this series over the past week-plus. I had read Fool Me Twice three years ago but not picked up any of the others, for some reason. This time I started at the beginning, with Michael and Elizabeth’s story in That Scandalous Summer. It really added depth to Fool Me Twice (though that book works as a standalone too!) to see its characters through others’ eyes.

Moving on to Lady Be Good – I really liked this one, though I found it a little uneven. I think that having more detail about Christian’s background with his Russian nemesis would have strengthened the occasionally-outlandish revenge plot. Christian and Lilah were a lovely pairing, and I enjoyed Lilah’s resourcefulness. Bonus points for her being a self-rescuing heroine!

In the next, Luck Be A Lady, we get Lilah’s uncle Nick – who was really quite a negative character in Lady Be Good – paired with Catherine Everleigh, the Ice Queen. Nick is one of my favorite types of characters – the bad boy with a heart of gold – but I had a hard time reconciling some of his actions in the previous book with the wonderful man he was portrayed as here. Catherine’s character verged on caricature – a little too far into the shy/fearful/cold and with not enough real motivation. All that said I really loved the story and in the second half, the characters did a wonderful job of pushing each other through their fears and into growth.

Now I’m reading A Lady’s Code of Misconduct. I’ll let you know soon what I think!

Passion Favors the Bold by Theresa Romain

4.5 stars and a wish for more!

This book had everything I love: a road trip, a curmudgeonly hero, a bit of a swindle, a heroine determined to make her own way in the world….

Theresa Romain’s writing is a delight because of the way she builds up layers and layers of fine detail until suddenly you’ve arrived at the plot’s climax, and everything makes perfect sense. Her characters manage to have conflict without being horrible to each other, and the secondary characters are generally a delight.  I’m already eagerly anticipating the next book in this series.

-Disclaimer – I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Devil’s Submission by Nicola Davidson

The Devil’s Submission on GoodReads

2.5 stars.
I think my expectations/hopes for this book were too high and it suffered accordingly. It was light on plot – really, really light on plot – and started with most of the interesting part of the H/h relationship already in the past. It read more like a brief couple of chapters from a longer book.

There was a lot of sex, of course, and it was as steamy as advertised. a lot of the characterizations just didn’t ring true for me, though, and as someone who reads a lot of BDSM romance as well as nonfic on the subject, certain aspects were slightly off to me (for example – I sincerely doubt Charlie would have sent Eliza off to use a cane in her very first scene with Grayson! Yowch!) Your mileage, as they say, may vary.
I also had some difficulty suspending belief when it came to how all the characters in the book were like “oh, you operate/live at a kinky Regency era sex club? NBD.”

Things I loved: It was great to have the H as the submissive for once. The writing itself was great, cheeky and fun.

I think it’s a good read for someone looking for a hot, fast, fun romp. Nice way to spend a rainy Sunday night! I would also be happy to read more by this author as her writing style itself was light and fun.

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance copy from NetGalley in return for an unbiased review.*

Hard Rhythm by Cecilia Tan

5 warm-up-the-covers stars!

From the first time I saw this books’ cover, I couldn’t wait to read it. I confess, I may have been a pest about getting my hands on an ARC of this one. But guess what? It was worth it!

For starters, not only is Chino every bit as hot in the book as he appears to be on the cover, he’s also a genuinely likeable guy. He’s got his issues, for sure, but compared to Mal (for example) he appears to actually have it together pretty well. Maddie, on the other hand, is a bit of a mess. She’s just not ready – she thinks – for a relationship. Chino is exactly what she needs; he melts her hard shell and helps her get past her head and in touch with her heart.

There’s a great scene (not that kind of scene!) where they are pretending to shop for real estate together as a married couple:

The final house was another split-level, built into the hill. The top floor had a patio, most of the bedrooms were on the middle floors, and the garage sat at the bottom.
As we entered the foyer we ran into the real estate agent, another woman, this one middle-aged. Her suit was dove gray, her scarf a riot of pinks and yellows like an Easter basket. “Welcome,” she said, and held out her hand to shake ours. “Mr. and Mrs.…?”
“Jones,” Chino said with a broad smile before leading me away to explore the property.
One of the bedrooms was built into the hill and only had one tiny window. As we took a turn through the room I said, “Here’s where we’d build the private dungeon, don’t you think, Mr. Jones?”
He slid up behind me, his hands fitting around my hips. “Would we? What would we furnish it with?”
“With all this wall space you could have a St. Andrew’s Cross over there, hang all the floggers and whips here, a sling there—”
“A sling?”
“Definitely,” I said with a knowing nod.
He slid his hand up my body until two fingers were holding my chin. “I like your…taste in interior decoration,” he said as he turned my head to the side. His grip tightened suddenly and I realized he had my other arm by the wrist, effectively trapping me in his embrace while he took lush liberties with his tongue in my mouth. He tasted dark and sweet and fresh all at once, and as I sucked in a breath I could feel how tightly he held me, the heat of his skin soaking through his shirt and warming my back. I could imagine us in the room outfitted as a dungeon, getting ready to play in it for the first time, and all the unfulfilled desire from last night flooded me once again.
We separated quickly when the realtor brought another couple into the room. I was flushed, my breath heaving, my lips tingling, but the realtor just smiled and the male half of the couple gave Chino a wink.
“Picking out drapes is my kink,” Chino said to the guy, as he slipped his sunglasses on.

Oh. My. God.  If you, like me, adore cocky heroes with soft centers, then Chino’s the one for you. And as always, Cecilia Tan handles the sizzling hot sex scenes with an expert touch, keeping the action going while still addressing the realities that take place alongside intimacy, particularly kinky intimacy.

Some of the other things I adored about this book:

  • There wasn’t a lot of angst between the main characters – they got their own relationship figured out pretty well by, oh, midway through
    • The level of caring and communication between them was great!
  • There was a lot of external plot dealing with issues that are super-relevant right now (crooked politicians, scheming media, domestic abuse)
  • All the characters have true friendships with each other and have each others’ backs
  • Great portrayal of Los Angeles – my turf (kind of)!

Go read it. You won’t regret it! Especially recommended for snowy evenings.

Wildfire by Anne Stuart

4 crazysauce stars.

I had previously read several of Anne Stuart’s historicals, but never any of her contemporaries. So I was excited to give this one a whirl, even if I was breaking my own rules by starting in the middle of a series.
This book was terrific! It was filled with just the right amount of not-quite-believeable crazysauce, including a megalomaniac super-evil villain, an island lair, and a heroine in a really sticky situation. I won’t spoil it, but it’s pretty unbelievable in spots – and yet it totally works!
I tore through it and promptly went on an all-Anne-Stuart reading binge, reading the rest of the Fire series and then all of the Ice series. My wallet is angry but my brain is so, so happy.

**Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from NetGalley in return for an unbiased review.**