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Shygirl: Reading After Midnight

I will read anything I can get my hands on. Seriously.

 Most books I read are reviewed for Harlequin Junkie, but I'll have an occasional independent or author requested review that I'll post.

Currently reading

Nine of Stars: A Wildlands Novel
Laura Bickle
Primal Heat: A Paranormal Shapeshifter Werejaguar Romance (The Shadow Shifters)
A.C. Arthur

The Duke *Finally* Gets His HEA

A Date at the Altar: Marrying the Duke - Cathy Maxwell

“I love you,” he whispered, kissing her eyes, her cheeks, her lips. “You,” he repeated. “Whatever happens in my other life, you are the one I value. The one I cherish.”
His other life. She realized her own foolishness in believing she was his only life.

Finally! Yes, the Duke of Baynton finally gets his happily-ever-after in A Date at the Altar. For those of you who have been following this series since the beginning, I think this particular story will make you very, very happy. And possibly swoon.

 

First I should caution that this is one of those times where it would be best to read a series in sequential order. It will make this installment much more interesting and you will understand what the duke went through in order to find a wife. (Poor guy) I think Cathy Maxwell found the perfect match for Baynton in Sarah. At first, I wasn’t sure how she would make their romance work, but the progression of their relationship–from antagonistic acquaintances to lovers–seemed genuine and true. And it turned out to be oh so very sweet, as well.

 

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Complex, Heartfelt PNR With a Bit of Holiday Charm

Shadow Silence (Whisper Hollow) - Yasmine Galenorn

“Every time you walk through a dark pathway, you lose something. You lose a little bit of the sense that the world’s fair, you lose a little bit of your naivete. But you also gain from your journey. You gain strength, and wisdom, and the realization that you can survive more than you thought you could.”

Yasmine Galenorn never fails to create a spectacular world for her readers, with lush backgrounds and multidimensional characters paving the way to a page-turning experience. And this book, Shadow Silence, was complex, heartfelt, and even had a bit of holiday charm mixed in.

 

I’ve become a true fan of Galenorn’s writing style, especially with how she can build worldscapes that are so intricate that they feel real. And I would expect that’s a challenging feat when writing a fantasy series. I think I was equally impressed with the lively offbeat characters and with the small town of Whisper Hollow itself. This was my first foray into this series as I somehow skipped over book one. But I found it fairly easy to figure out the logistics, although admittedly there were a lot of characters to keep tabs on.

 

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A Complicated Regency Love Triangle

The Match of the Century: Marrying the Duke - Cathy Maxwell

“No, I’m not letting you hide behind the title. Speak to me, Gavin. Shout at me, rail at me–throw another fist at me. Live, man. Live.”
In response, his brother looked at him, his eyes hard shards. “She’s mine.”

 

The Match of the Century was a love triangle set at the very start of the Regency period. Full of drama, some laughs, and hidden love, Ben and Elin’s story was a complicated but endearing one.

 

After having a couple of small issues with it at the beginning, I came to enjoy this first full length novel in Cathy Maxwell’s newest series quite a bit. I was blown away with the prequel novella, A Little Thing Called Love, which was the story of Elin’s parents falling in love and how Elin became betrothed to Gavin. I would highly recommend reading it to get the full benefit of knowing why she makes certain comments about her parents and when she then compares herself and Ben to them.

 

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More Happenings in the Wacky World of the Argeneaus

Immortal Nights - Lynsay Sands

Abigail’s eyes widened incredulously as his mouth covered hers. This kind of thing just did not happen to her. Big, hunky, naked men just did not kiss her out of the blue. And damnnnnn, he was a good kisser…’

 

The lively and unique bond that formed between main characters Tomasso and Abigail dominated this latest installment in Lynsay Sands’ popular Argeneau series. On the run from kidnappers, facing many dangers and even serious illness along the way, they tried to overcome the odds and keep each other safe.

 

The wild and sometimes wacky world of the Argeneaus is always entertaining. And Immortal Nights was definitely a nice addition to the series, keeping the thread of mystery over the abduction of Immortals by an evil doctor going, revealing a few more pieces of the ever-growing puzzle. Author Lynsay Sands added in her trademark humor, making what could have been a rather bleak situation–with Tomasso and Abigail lost on an island–full of comical conversations and the realization that they were life mates.

 

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Intrigue, Some Serious BDSM and a Cliffhanger Ending

Unraveled by Him - Wendy Leigh

And for the first time since we met, he kisses me, kisses me as if he needs my breath, my tongue, my emotion, or else he will die. When he pulls away from me, and I start to fall back to sleep again, I hear him whispering, “Miranda, Miranda, I’ve been longing for you my entire life.”

Unraveled by Him is the first book in a new erotic trilogy that has a pleasing blend of passion, intrigue, secrets, and love. Plus a shocking cliffhanger that has to be read to be believed.

 

I’ll start right off by saying this is a pretty intense journey into the world of BDSM. No fuzzy handcuffs or playful spanking. Nope. This is the real deal, with floggers, canes, and even dungeons. The relationship between our protagonists moves along at a fairly quick rate. For me, the leap they made from business to pleasure might have been a little bit too fast, but the scenes that followed that transition were smokin’ hot and quite well written.

 

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Funny & Unique, As Only Mimi Can Write It

it's a fugly life (The Fugly Series Book 2) (Volume 2) - Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

It’s a Fugly Life was quite a wild experience. And a fun, sincere one, at that. Written in Mimi Jean Pamfiloff’s unique style which blends humor, heart and sensuality with ease, this was a romance–and a personal journey taken by our heroine–which will surely resonate with readers.

“You may have had surgery to make your face beautiful, but you’re still walking around like you don’t deserve more in life.”
“Why would you say that?” I snapped. It hurt. And it wasn’t true. Okay, maybe it was, but everyone–everyone–had challenges to deal with. My fugly voice was mine, and I was dealing with it.

I really do think this story will be easy for nearly everyone to relate to. Once you strip away the funny bits and the sexy moments and the drama, Lily, at her core, was a confused woman struggling with her self-confidence and her inner ‘fugly’ voice. You know which one…that voice that niggles away and tells you that you’re not good enough to deserve happiness, or not pretty enough, not smart enough. I’m sure we’ve all had moments like this and some of us, like Lily, face it every day.

 

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Quickie Romance Novella With a Holiday Theme

Love and Always - Sophie  Jackson

‘He thought little of the money that allowed him to live the life many envied, and thought little of giving it away. His unthinking kindness and generosity were what Kat loved most about him. Well, that and his dirty mouth.’

 

Love and Always was a brief novella, almost like an epilogue, continuing one of my favorite new finds of the year, A Pound of Flesh. Kat and Carter were their adoring, blissed out selves in this segue into book two which will focus on Carter’s BFF Max.

 

This was a really quick read that caught us up on where Carter and Kat are in their relationship currently. That being said, you would definitely want to read book one first or this will make no sense at all. I think for Sophie Jackson fans, though, this short story will both appease for the time being, while it leaves us wanting to see how the wedding plays out and how Max does in rehab. It will be a few months yet before we get more answers, as the book two release is currently set for January 2016.

 

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Warning: Must Enjoy Insta-Love Stories to Read This One

Everything for Her - Alexa Riley

Everything for Her was the ultimate tale of love and obsession, with one man willing to move heaven and earth for the woman he adored. Throw in some dirty, sensual love scenes and a ton of secrets, and you have a book that is unputdownable.

“Mallory, I’ve loved you from the very second I saw you. The very second. There was no hesitation from my heart that day, and I knew I had to make you mine. I may have gone about it differently than some men would have, but I wouldn’t change anything since it led me to you.”

If this romance is anything to indicate what writing duo Alexa Riley will be bringing us in the future, count me in! Everything for Her was their first full-length novel and boy was it something to remember. The insta-love factor that they’re known for was in full swing and of course there was a dirty-talking, gorgeous, intense guy chasing after a capable, smart and truly lovely young woman. That’s a given, right? Oh, but that was only the beginning for Mallory and Oz.

 

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Thoughtful Beginning to a New Regency Series

Someone To Love (A Westcott Novel) - Mary Balogh

Someone to Love was a thoughtful historical romance in the brand new Westcott series by Mary Balogh. An epic rags-to-riches story that shook one family to its very core, this exceedingly well-written novel introduced us to some intriguing people and had a slow burn romance that was absolutely wonderful.

“You once told me, Avery, that your dearest dream was to have someone to love.”
His eyes gazed back into hers, wide-open, very blue in the fading evening sunlight and the flickering light of the candles. “Yes,” he said.
“Can I be that someone?” she asked him.

Now this being a brand new series, there were a lot of characters to get to know as well as we had to learn about the Westcott family’s history. So it was a bit slow to start out but it did pick up after Anna met her family and it kept building from there, leaving me smitten with Avery and the rest of the group. I really enjoyed the overall storyline and thought Balogh did well (as always!) with the character development.

 

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An Exciting Journey & Dust Bunnies, Of Course!

Illusion Town (Illusion Town Novel, An) - Jayne Castle

“By the way, one more thing you should know about our current situation.”
She paused in the doorway and looked back at him. “How bad is this one more thing?”
“Depends upon your point of view. We’re married.”

 

What a fun ride it was visiting Illusion Town and following Hannah and Elias on their exciting journey underground. This definitely had something for everyone: bad guys giving chase, a heated connection between our main characters, a strong sense of community. And dust bunnies, of course!

‘In Illusion Town, the thrills are real.’

There’s just something about Jayne Castle’s writing ‘voice’ that gives me the warm & fuzzies every time I read one of her books. I love the multidimensional characters, the sophisticated plots and especially the dialogue she creates. Her stories are imaginative, playing out like a movie on the pages. But most of all, it’s the sense of humanity that I love about the characters and the situations they find themselves in. Their reactions, Hannah and Elias included, always seem real, which draws me in to the book even more.

 

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Charming Small Town Holiday Romance

Christmas Joy: A Novel - Nancy Naigle

Christmas Joy was a heartening small town holiday romance that truly expressed the ‘reason for the Season’. Author Nancy Naigle created a group of characters who were charming, down-to-earth, and just quirky enough to lend a bit of fun to an already solid story.

‘Molly bobbed her head as if imagining a one-two-three countdown, and then her voice filled the room. “Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer…” Her little hands flung to the top of her head like antlers. And then to her nose.
Joy pulled the pillow from beside her and held it to her heart. She really may never have seen anything this darned cute in her whole life. And just how did that little girl sing that big?’

I really had a good time reading this novel. Not only was there an abundance of holiday cheer but there was also a wonderful sense of community and family throughout the story as we learned more about Joy, Ben, Ruby, Molly and the rest of the Crystal Falls residents. Naigle used a lighthearted touch when it came to the emotions and deeper issues our characters faced but the meaning came through loud and clear. And it helped turn this into a quick, enjoyable read.

 

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Two Badass Characters, Hot Romance & Lots of Battle Scenes

Sweet Ruin (Immortals After Dark) - Kresley Cole

The indomitable Kresley Cole was definitely on her game with Sweet Ruin. Our main characters Rune and Jo were individual forces to be reckoned with so when they teamed up? Oh what sexy fun and horrible destruction they were capable of!

She gazed around at the appalled spectators. “Anybody else want to go to their grave tonight? I’ll bury you so deep, they might never find your body down there. You might die. Odds are…you won’t.”
Oh, yes, he could get used to having her around.

I hope Immortals After Dark fans will be as wowed by this story as I was. I know it was a tiny bit controversial to introduce two new characters instead of going back and giving some secondary characters their due. However, this does give us more information on Thad who appeared in a previous book. (I believe it was Dreams of a Dark Warrior) In doing so, we learn about how his sister Jo was separated from him, as well as their backstory.

 

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May Work For Some Readers, But Not For Me...

Christmas in Paris: A Novel - Anita M. Hughes

‘He wanted to tell her that when you were really in love, you felt it in every bone in your body. You couldn’t stop thinking about the person and all you wanted was to be together. But she was desperate to believe the fortune-teller and wouldn’t hear his advice.’

Christmas in Paris was a novel filled with lots of holiday splendor and was rich with details of everything from food to famous stores to historical Parisian locales. It was also a fanciful romantic tale that had a bit of magic sprinkled in for good measure.

 

I think Christmas in Paris will be a story that will either click with readers or it just won’t work. In my case, unfortunately, there were a few too many elements that didn’t work for me. Not to say that it was a ‘bad’ book of course. It was clearly written with a nice flow to the scenes and the pacing was perfect. It just felt like this was more of a guidebook to Paris, with everything French you could ever imagine being intricately explained, but with a hint of romance thrown in.

 

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Insta-Love, Suspense & Family Drama

The Protector - Jodi Ellen Malpas

A case of insta-love turned into the real deal in The Protector, a new standalone by Jodi Ellen Malpas. Just when you thought her alpha males couldn’t get any hotter or more damaged, along came Jake Sharp, taking badass bad boys to a whole new level.

‘I need redemption. I need to fix too many things and accept myself before I can expect Camille to accept me. All of me, every dark, dirty, sinful piece.’

This was one steamy whirlwind of a romance, written with a perfect balance of explicit love scenes and tender, sincere emotions. It was all about the alpha male vs. the strong heroine and how they both hid secrets about themselves from the world. And after a slow and steady start to the first half of the book, where we watched Jake and Cami’s attraction grow past the point of no return, the second half of the story took off and was pure adrenaline. It never let up, as Jake’s secrets were revealed one by one and the threats against Cami amped up.

 

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Entertaining Regency Holiday Anthology

All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke - Vivienne Lorret, Valerie Bowman, Tiffany Clare, Ashlyn Macnamara

All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke was a collection of four lovely short stories all wrapped around a Holiday theme. Written by such well known authors as Valerie Bowman, Tiffany Clare, Vivienne Lorret, and Ashlyn Macnamara, each of the novellas had their own distinct flair and engaging characters to meet. However, even though they were all unique stories, they shared a sense of passion as well as Christmastide blessings.

 

The Duke and Duchess Trap by Valerie Bowman: A second chance romance for an estranged married couple is brought about by their twin daughters who had been raised separately...

 

Sophie and the Duke by Tiffany Clare:  This was also a reunion story of sorts. Lady Sophie Kinsley and Adrian Trenton, the Duke of Helmsworth, were childhood neighbors and best friends...

 

The Duke’s Christmas Wish by Vivienne Lorret: Rumor has it that the Duke of Vale, Northcliff Bromley, is throwing a Christmastide ball in search of a wife, as well as debuting his Marriage Formula...

 

One Magic Season by Ashlyn Macnamara:  In this sweet second chance romance, Duke Nathaniel Kingsbury, a widower, and Lady Patience Worthington, also a widow, find themselves face to face for the first time in a decade...

 

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High Flying Romance

Not Quite Perfect (Not Quite Series Book 5) - Catherine Bybee

I swear the smile never left my face while I read this high flying romance from Catherine Bybee. She has yet again outdone herself, giving us readers a memorable couple that could banter with the best of them and who stood strong in the face of dangerous threats.

 

“You like pulling my chain, woman.”
“I haven’t pulled your chain yet.” The words fell out of her mouth so fast she couldn’t close it quick enough.
Dakota roared with laughter and Glen’s silence on the line made her cringe.
“Who are you and what did you do with that innocent woman I took to dinner last night?” he asked.

 

I truly did love Mary and Glen together. Lordy, were they fun! They bickered like an old married couple but not in a mean-spirited way. Nope. It was almost like foreplay to them, with all the teasing and antagonizing that made me laugh and blush a bit. I think what struck me about them was that they were both quite different than who they seemed to be on the outside. Mary was a therapist and of course was analytical, but she hid a sexy, sensual side that came out whenever Glen was around. And he may have been a player in the past, but he wasn’t mean or smarmy.

 

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