The Lonely Lords (Darius, Nicholas and Ethan) by Grace Burrowes-a combined review

The Lonely Lords (Darius, Nicholas and Ethan) by Grace Burrowes-a combined review

The Lonely Lords
5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

WOW … just WOW! Does Grace Burrowes know how to write a beautiful story with intriguing chracters and storylines. Right from the get go I am completely captivated and drawn in. This review consists of the first three books of her new Historical Romance Lonley Lords Series, Darius, Nicholas and Ethan. Our setting is early 1800’s, England (be it city or country) and our story revolves around a gentleman who is lost is many ways and finds his lady (through the usual angst, drama, seduction and action). Each book is interconnected and you should to read them in order. As a matter of fact the first and second book run parallel to each other.

Okay on with the reviews! 🙂


1 – DARIUS Lord of Pleasures by GRACE BURROWES
Release Date: April 2, 2013

Darius / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository

Desperate, penniless, and shunned by his wealthy father, Darius Lindsey begins offering himself secretly to jaded society ladies. He hangs onto his last shreds of honor, but he’s losing ground financially each month.

That is until the aging Lord William Longstreet makes Darius an offer he can’t refuse: get the Lord’s pretty young wife-of-convenience, Lady Vivian, pregnant discreetly, and he will earn enough money to never want again. But problems lie ahead when the stunning Vivian captures his heart, and his clients refuse to let him go. Can Darius untangle himself without scandal and offer himself to Vivian heart and soul?


Right from the start we are thrown into a very uncomfortable chat between the elderly Lord William Longstreet and our main man Darius. Lord William has asked Darius to entertain his young wife Vivian (our leading lady) in the country and get her “with child”.

Darius, who has been shunned and financially abandoned by his father who happens to be an Earl (and a real *&^&*), has had to consort to whoring himself to very wicked and horribly natured high society women (these woman are seriously messed up in the head). So this conversation, while surprising, is not so far fetched. Seeing as the coin earned from this month in the country can provide future financial stability for Darius and those he is responsible for, he reluctantly agrees.

Vivian, who was once Lord Williams beloved first wife’s companion, married William after his wife’s passing. William married her to protect her from her evil step-father, ill intended suitors and because they shared a bond through his first wife. They are great friends and both are content with a marriage of friendship. Lord William has had some bad luck though and over the years has lost his two sons (that he had with his first wife) and therefore his heirs. He requires another heir so that his title and funds are not claimed by the crown upon his death so that is when this deal with Darius is struck.

Vivian and Darius spend the month together and come to realize that they are not only very compatible, but they are beginning to fall in love with each other (body discovery between these two is quite juicy at times .. TeeHee). Their month together is also successful.

Rich RICH characters (and I am not talking about moula here), that are woven into a well balanced, and flowing story. A wonderful start to this series.


2 – NICHOLAS Lord of Secrets by GRACE BURROWES
Release Date: May 7, 2013

Nicholas / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository


Nicholas Haddonfield has something to hide…

After a wild youth, Nicholas Haddonfield, Viscount Reston, has promised his ailing father he’ll finally take a bride, though doing so will force Nick to make impossible choices and face old, painful wounds.

Leah Lindsey is glad to find refuge from her own desperate situation in a marriage of convenience with the gallant viscount. But soon convenience is not enough, and Leah can’t understand why Nick remains so distant. What is he hiding, and will he never allow her into his heart?

An extraordinary and passionate tale of courage tested and fears overcome. Once you enter the lush Regency world of award-winningNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes, you’ll never want to leave.


Nicholas is a naughty, slutty, dreamy, flirt, large LARGE built, hilarious Lord. He took me right in and by the 10th page I was IN LOVE! LOL Nicholas comes with many secrets, and many reserves which make him a complex and complicated man.

Leah and Nicolas meet in a quiet room as both are trying to esacpe their prospective futures while attending a ball. This meeting is brief, honest and ends with a kiss. They are both quite taken with each other.

Nicholas is about to inherite an earldom and and has promised his ailing father that he will marry. Leah is in a desperate situation of her own where her life literally is hanging in the balance. As the two build the foundation to a beautiful friendship (and falling in love) Nicholas feels protective and responsible for Leah. This leads to the proposal of marriage. HOWEVER .. this is to be a “white” marriage. Meaning, no consumation, no children (Nicholas harbors serious secrets and fears). While Leah agrees to these terms, she believes she can break him down.

These two are something else to read. They are most suited and I loved the bursts of shock and secrets that came out throughout the story. There was some serious heat between them as well and Nicholas charater in general just has so much appeal.

We are also introduced to Nicholas’s brother Ethan in this story and you can see the set up for book 3.


3 – ETHAN Lord of Scandal by Grace Burrowes
Release Date: June 4, 2013

Ethan / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository


Ethan Grey’s life was shattered…

Estranged from his family, widowed after an unhappy marriage, and weary from fighting his troubled past, Ethan Grey now has a chance for redemption. His son’s beautiful and remarkable governess might help him battle his ghosts, but it’s been a long time since he let himself get close to anyone.

Alice Portman has more in common with Ethan than she can comfortably admit. For now, she’s satisfied with helping him rebuild his life and family. But the dangerous past is about to catch up with them both.

An unforgettable Regency tale of two wounded people who get another chance at love. Award-winning New York Times and USA Todaybestselling author Grace Burrowes’s extraordinary writing will immerse you in a Regency world unlike any you’ve experienced.


MY FAVE so far! Ethan is so complex and multi layered, somewhat of a stick in the mud and his transformation throughout this story was so much fun to read!

Ethan (as revealed in book 2) is the bastard son of the recently deceased Earl and half brother to Nicholas. As young boys. these two were attached to hips. The old earl had far fetched reasons, but he sent Ethan away and this of course strained all relationships. Nicolas is desperate to be in his brother’s life. Ethan is a widower of a ill matched marriage, has two sons who have been raised by the estate staff and takes his pleasure in his ledgers and structured life.

Alice Portman is a governess is disguise. She is running from a past that is so horrid and scandalous she has even changed her name. She agrees to take on the governess position for Ethans two sons. She has terms however, and they include Ethan being more of a father to his children.

Bit by bit, these two develop the most honest friendship which turns to attraction. They steal kisses, but both of their scandalous pasts seem to hold them back from true love. Ethan transforms from a cold man to a loving father, wonderful friend, friendly neighbour. Man I rooted for him though this entire book.

As with all books of this genre, pasts never remain in the past and the scandals and secrets come to surface. The obstacles that need to avoided are great … but these two make it look effortless.

OVERALL .. WONDERFUL SERIES so far! I am looking forward to jumping into the next few! Is you love this genre, a beautiful love story you need to check this series out! Grace Burrowes delivers!


Copies supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Rachel T.


Ward Against Darkness by Melanie Card – a Review

Ward Against Darkness by Melanie Card – a Review

ward against darkness

Links to order Ward Against Darkness:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble

The last thing Ward de’Ath wants is more trouble. On the run from both the law and the criminal underworld, Ward and Celia flee Brawenal City only to stumble into the mansion of a powerful evil necromancer. And when Ward discovers the man possesses a dangerous grimoire, his duty leaves him no choice. He can’t allow the necromancer to keep the grimoire. But the mansion is filled with monsters–human and undead–and Ward has no way of telling who’s friend or foe. The only person he can trust is Celia who dominates more of his thoughts and feelings everyday. But there are still laws in the way of anything but friendship. She’s still dead and he’s still alive . . . for now.


“Come with me.  Whatever time you or I have left…spend it with me.” 

Although Ward remains at odds with his feelings for Celia, she is dead after all, staying together makes more sense.  This is where Melanie Card begins Ward Against Darkness in her Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer series.  Ward arrived just in time to spare Celia the “true” death, but they’re trying to outrun trouble (accused of murdering her father!) and functioning on borrowed time. 

The sequel hits the ground running (it’s literally only been a week since they escaped Celia’s home town of Brawenal).  Seeking refuge from “the house hunched like a misshapen monster” should have sounded warning bells, but before Ward is able to detain Celia’s impetuous nature, he’s assumed the role of Quirin Dagenhart…an apprentice-hopeful to serve Macerio Sanz de Cortia, a dark necromancer and current leader of the Innecroestri.  Basically, the exact opposite of everything the long, powerful line of de’ Ath necromancers Ward hails from (clever, Ms. Card!) and taught him since his gift of reanimating the dead began.  Riiiight…Problem is (and there are just SO MANY in this book!), Ward broke his own sacred rule when he “woke” Celia in the debut novel, Ward Against Death:

“Wakes were acceptable.  They were only for a few minutes, and couldn’t upset the balance between life and death.  But any spell that lasted longer, without the proper research, risked throwing everything out of balance.”

Well that’s exactly what Macerio wants in an apprentice and Celia’s “impeccable” unlife (Ward performed a complicated spell) have thrown Ward in the lead.  Yikes!  Problem is (I told you there were many!), Ward, the “reluctant necromancer”, doesn’t think he’s truly gifted; he improvised on the components of Celia’s spell and is frankly shocked it’s held (her vitality and appearance is completely realistic).  But for how long (another one of those pesky problems!)???  Macerio recognizes the flaws in Celia’s spell, but Ward/Quirin has to feign confident genius to earn trust…and ultimately steal three evil grimoires from the proverbial lion’s den.  The action just builds and builds…I’m exhausted!

It’s really quite exciting and interesting.  Ok, the first book threw me for a loop with the multi-layered world building.  I was frankly lost and highlighted my Kindle like mad.  LOTS of unfamiliar history and terminology tends to do that to a reader.  But consider this Ms. Card’s personal invitation to learn about necromancy, the veil, Quayestri, vesperitti, etc…The wonderful writing and engaging story lines, will grip draw your attention.  Stay and enjoy the fruits of her labor!  Do not miss out on this series!

As a lover of romance and HEAs, my only criticism is the lack OF it in the story.  Ward and Celia share two kisses in the introductory novel, but barely spend time together in the sequel.  Like I said, they are surrounded, deep in IT, that they’re off trusting other people; forgetting that this journey began with the “wake” that was only supposed to last 15 minutes, but has indelibly altered their lives.  Sure, they spend a lot of time denying those feelings and having multitudes of inner dialogue that usually end up avoiding resolution, but they never find the right time to make good use of their indefinite period of time.  Ugh.  Even having said that, man did I love this couple!

Ms. Card has done a brilliant job with this series and I strongly recommend it for everyone to read.  I’ve left out a lot purposefully (it’s extraordinarily difficult to read two books and only review one!), but one of the persons Ward trusted…well, let’s say it was an error in judgment of epic proportions and as a necromancer, it’s Ward’s responsibility to track her down and right the wrong.  Ward unintentionally severed a “soul chain”…creating yet another metaphysical anomaly…Good thing badass Celia (I SO omitted how awesome and tough she is; you are going to love her noble background and assassin ways!, WHAT?!), has no plans to leave Ward’s side.  MY plan?  Pre-order Ward Against Disaster and hope Ms. Card keeps me in mind for that review!!!    

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy provided by Publisher


Quest of the Hart by Mary Waibel-A Review and Interview with the Author

Quest of the Hart by Mary Waibel-A Review and Interview with the Author

Quest of the Hart / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

About the Book:  Released  April 19, 2013

“A reverse Sleeping Beauty tale where the princess goes on the quest to save the prince.”

Princess Kaylee has never had to fight for anything. Her entire life has been arranged, even her marriage. But when Prince Devlin falls under an enchantment, she finds she is willing to do anything to save him, even if it means fighting a dragon.

Devlin’s own sister, Princess Arabella, is behind the deadly plot. She wants the throne and will use any means necessary. Her perfect plan unravels, leaving Devlin caught in a
magical sleep that is slowly spreading through the kingdom of Breniera. All Arabella needs to finish her spell and claim the crown is a drop of Kaylee’s blood, but obtaining the single drop is proving more difficult than expected.

To save her betrothed, Kaylee embarks on a quest to find an ancient sword and gather a drop of dragon’s blood, while trying to stay out of Arabella’s traps. But Arabella’s traps aren’t the only danger. Time is everything. For once the last inhabitant of the kingdom falls asleep, the spell will be sealed, and not even true love’s kiss will break it.


4 out of 5 for this reader folks!

What a refreshing spin on a common story many of us grew up with. A reverse Sleeping Beauty indeed. Quest of the Hart by Mary Waibel is a short (just over 150 pgs according to my ereader), action packed, magical, light love story between a prince and princess, and the evil that threatens their future together.

Princess Kaylee (our leading lady) starts this story with her betrothed Prince Devlin as a meek, intelligent and gentle woman falling in love with her handsome prince. One day while the princess and prince are on a ride through the forest, they come across the prince’s sister Princess Arabella. Princess Arabella is the first born twin sister to Prince Devlin and she has a serious bone to pick with her brother. convinced he has stolen the throne from her just by being male, she traps Prince Devlin into a spell by stabbing him with a dagger. Before she is able to stab Princess Kaylee (ensuring her blood is on the same dagger as the Prince’s, intending to kill them both), Princess Kaylee gets away.

Now Princess Arabella is really ticked off. Her spell isn’t complete and she has only a certain amount of time to ensure it gets sealed or she will suffer certain consequences. Princess Kaylee is picked up (she was injured when she fled) by others who possess magic and is shown the way to break the spell. Through dangerous quests and Princess Kaylee’s resolve to free the man she loves, turns her into a kick ass heroine! We encounter blood,swords, misses of death, hunting, dragons, magic and ultimately true love!

This is a fluffy read. Meaning, no grit or dirty, no sex .. it’s very PG. I do prefer a book that has more grit to it, but for those that do not, this is a beautiful fast read! If you love a good fairy tale where the woman is in charge, then for sure pick this book up!


Copy supplied by the author

Reviewed by Rachel T.

Interview beige

TRC: Hi Mary and welcome to The Reading Café. We would like to start with some background information, would you please tell us something about yourself?

Mary Waibel Author Photo


Follow Mary: Waibel’s World Blog / Mary Waibel blog / Twitter / Goodreads / Facebook

Mary: I live in upstate New York with my husband, son, and our two cats. I taught music for five years before being a stay-at-home mom. Now, I balance my home life, work, and writing.



TRC: QUEST OF THE HART is your April 2013 release. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

ORDER LINKS: / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO

Mary: QUEST OF THE HART is a reverse sleeping beauty where the princess goes on the quest to save the prince.

TRC: You call your style of storyline telling-fractured fairytale fantasy. Please explain the meaning of this description?

Mary: To me, a fractured fairy tale takes a well-known fairy tale and twists it in some way. Like the princess saving the prince, or the beast being the princess and the prince is the one who has to break the spell.

Quest of the HartTRC: What do you believe is the appeal of the re-written fairytale for adults?

Mary: I think adults are drawn to fairytales as they allow them to escape into the familiar world of their youth. The well-loved stories are a comfort, like a favorite blanket.

TRC: CHARMED MEMORIES is the companion novel to Quest of the Hart. Would you like to give us a hint as to the premise?

Mary: CHARMED MEMORIES follows Princess Kaylee’s (the heroine from QUEST) brother, Prince Trevor, as he searches to find his missing princess. When clues lead to the Woodland Guide, Bri, he is exstactic, as he’s falling in live her. But she has no memory of her past, and recovering those lost memories may cost more than either is willing to pay.

TRC: If you could virtually cast QUEST OF THE HART which models or actors would be represent your image for the leading characters in the storyline?

Kaylee- Britt Robertson

Devlin- Chace Crawford (with longer hair)

Sabrina- Shelley Hennig

Arabella- Phoebe Tonkin (just needs violet eyes and blacker hair)

Thaddeus- Jake Sandvig

TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters? Are you a plotter or a ‘pantster’?

Mary: Oh, my characters direct the show. If I get one part of their reactions wrong, they won’t let me go on until I get it fixed. For the most part, I am a pantster. I know where I am starting and where I need to end, but the middle is wide open with paths for me to take and explore with my characters. Needless to say, my first drafts look nothing at all like the final product.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties (historical, research, logistics) did you encounter writing this particular story/series?

Mary: My biggest challenge was determining the POV characters. I knew there would be two, and one would be Princes Kaylee. Usually I alternate between the leading girl and guy, but Prince Devlin would be asleep for most of the book, so that wouldn’t work. I finally decided to write from the POV of Princess Arabella, the villainess.

TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?

Mary: I have a great group of CP’s (critique partners) I exchange work with. In addition to grammar and spelling errors and typos, they help check for flow, consistency of characters, and the overall story arcs. When I get stuck, I’ll e-mail, Skype, or IM with them and figure out how to fix whatever problem I’ve gotten myself caught up in. They also keep me writing. There’s nothing like knowing someone is waiting for pages of yours to read (or waiting to return the favor for them!)

TRC: How do you keep the plot(s) unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?

Mary: In the case of QUEST, I thought of the traditional parts of the quest the prince took before he woke the princess, then looked at how a girl, unfamiliar with these skills, would do the same things. In CHARMED, there’s a hint a love triangle twist- there are two princes and one girl. She’s in love with one of them, but may have to marry the other, if they can prove her identity. In the end, it all comes down to staying true to the character and telling their story.

TRC: How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of deadlines while still having time to raise a family?

Mary: This is a constant juggling act. There are lots of time things slide at my house (cleaning, grocery shopping- stuff like that.) Fortunately, my husband and son are very understanding and help me out often.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Mary: I just submitted a third book in the series to my publisher, MuseItUp Publishing. While I wait to hear back on that, I am working on a paranormal romance with faeries and sorceresses and witches.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Mary: Thank you so much for having me here today. I really enjoyed talking with you!


Favorite Food

Favorite Dessert

Favorite TV Show
The Vampire Diaries (now)
MacGuyver (when I was younger)

Last Movie You Saw
Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters

Dark or Milk Chocolate

Favorite Flower
Pansies- they always make me smile

Last Vacation Destination
Camping with the family

Pet Peeve
Bad drivers

Famous Secret Crush
Johnny Depp

TRC: Thank you Mary for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the new release and we wish you all the best.


Claiming Her Warriors by Savannah Stuart-a review

CLAIMING HER WARRIORS by Savannah Stuart (Katie Reus)-a review

Claiming her Warriors

At the time of this posting CLAIMING HER WARRIORS was .99 cents or less at e-book retailers. / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Released July 22, 2013

NOTE: This is a storyline of M/M/F relationships. There is some graphic sexual content and is not intended for anyone under the age of eighteen.

Two brothers want to possess her…

After her planet was destroyed, Brianna was rescued by two fierce and desperately gorgeous warrior brothers. Aeron and Hauk. They want to keep her, protect her, mate her. But what the brothers wanted from her was too much to handle. Settling into a new culture was hard enough without dealing with the custom that dictates she mate with two males. So she pushed them away.

They’ll do anything to protect her…

An attack sends Brianna back into the arms of the sexy brothers. Now they’ll do whatever it takes to win her over. But can Brianna go against the conventions of her human nature and accept both warriors as her mates? It might not matter because someone is out for blood and it’s up to Aeron and Hauk to defend her against a deadly enemy.


REVIEW: CLAIMING HER WARRIORS is a stand alone storyline from the pen of Katie Reus written as Savannah Stuart. The premise focuses on the men and women of Planet Lumineta and the warriors hoping to claim one human woman as their own. The brothers, Aeron and Hauk, hope that Brianna will accept their claim as mates but something or someone may be standing in the way.

On planet Lumineta, two males (in this case brothers) claim one woman as their mate. The number of children born to the Luminetas is declining and those that survive are usually male, thus leaving the planet with more males than females.  Brianna’s home planet was destroyed and she now lives among the people of planet Lumineta but not all inhabitants are willing to accept ‘immigrants’ from another planet.

Brianna and Aeron have a history together and Aeron is hoping to convince Brianna to accept (along with his brother Hauk) his mate claim. As the trio begin to get closer together, a threat against Brianna’s life, nearly destroys the relationship before it has had a chance to begin. When the identity of the threat is finally revealed, Aeron and Hauk are not surprised.

Claiming Her Warriors is a fast paced novella that borders the genres of sci-fi and the paranormal. It is a fast paced, well-written novella about a few days in the life of three people meant to be together-forever. The world building and character development are limited due to the length of the storyline and I hope that the author is considering expanding on the trio’s story. The main characters are likeable and you get the impression that Aeron and Hauk would be miserable without Brianna in their lives.

If you like a quick story with a little sex (M/M/F), a little romance, a mystery and a HEA, Claiming Her Warriors is the perfect read for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Reviewed by Sandy


Skin in the Game (Play Action #1) by Jackie Barbosa-a review

SKIN IN THE GAME (Play Action #1) by Jackie Barbosa-a review

Skin in the Game / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date May 27, 2013

Angela Peterson was always the quiet, shy kid growing up in Harper Falls, crushing on the high school quarterback and honing her football strategy skills. Now grown up and coaching the high school team, she’s shocked when that same sexy quarterback returns to Harper Falls asks her back to his hotel room. And then tries to steal her job.

Injured NFL quarterback Cade Reynolds is in Harper Falls to take over as interim head coach, and he never thought the tall, blond bombshell he propositioned would offer up any resistance. Not to a repeat of the amazingly wild night they shared and certainly not to his coaching position.

But the Harper Falls High Eagles are Angie’s team, and even the hometown hero won’t take that away from her, no matter how hot he is. As the two engage in a battle of wits and wills, this is one game neither is prepared to lose.


REVIEW: SKIN IN THE GAME is the first storyline in Jackie Barbosa’s new Play Action contemporary romance series. This is Angela and Cade’s storyline. This is not necessarily a friends to lovers or even a second chance storyline-but a story about two people who met briefly in high school and their lives would be forever changed. Angela is the ‘muse’ to Cade’s football career and the woman who would tackle his heart.

The storyline focuses on Cade’s second chance for a career (after a possible career ending injury)-both on and off the field. Returning home to Harper Falls he is immediately attracted to Angela-the one time geeky girl who is now the beautiful assistant coach and math teacher at Harper Falls High.

The attraction between the couple is immediate-in fact their sexual relationship begins within a few hours of meeting-only Cade does not remember the beautiful Angela and it will take a few days before his memory of Angela resurfaces. The sexual heat is spicy and the HEA is predictable but it is the in between that pushes the storyline into another direction.

The storyline also focuses on sexual discrimination and harassment at the hands of a fellow teacher and coach. Many women suffer the same fate as our heroine-working in a world controlled by men and fearing retribution should their complaints be heard. At times, the situation and her reluctance to take legal action was disheartening but the circumstances and her reasoning are probably experienced by more women than not.

The mains characters are likeable and relatable and because of the football backdrop to the story, fans of the sport will recognize the lingo and maneuvers.

Skin in the Game is a fast paced, interesting storyline about two people searching for something more in their lives. If you are a fan of football, romance and a HEA, Skin in the Game is the perfect read.

Copy supplied by the publisher.

Reviewed by Sandy


To Sin With A Viking (Forbidden Vikings #1) by Michelle Willingham-a review

TO SIN WITH A VIKING (Forbidden Vikings #1) by Michelle Willingham-a review

To Sin with a Viking / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date July 23, 2013

Playing With Fire!

Caragh Ó Brannon defended herself bravely when the enemy landed—only, now she finds herself alone with one very angry Viking…

Styr Hardrata sailed to Ireland intending to trade, never expecting to find himself held captive in chains by a beautiful Irish maiden.

The fiercely handsome warrior both terrifies and allures Caragh, but he is forbidden territory. He is the enemy…and he is married. Yet Styr harbors a secret that just might set them both free…

Forbidden Vikings

Resist them if you can!


REVIEW: TO SIN WITH A VIKING is the first storyline in Michelle Willingham’s Forbidden Vikings historical romance series. The opening statements from the author ‘warn’ of trespassing into the realm of infidelity and I wondered at the time ‘why’ the warning to her readers. This is after all –A FICTIONAL STORYLINE – with fictional characters and is NOT an actual account of infidelity and betrayal and yet, many reviewers were taken aback by the storyline’s ‘touch’ on infidelity.

In My Humble Opinion-readers would not have questioned Styr’s desire for Caragh and potential betrayal to his wife without the author’s opening remarks. And for those who have objected to the hero’s supposed wandering heart-it appears that his wife was not necessarily faithful in all aspects of her marriage as well.

The storyline focuses on the capture of Styr Hardrata and his fight to find his wife and missing crewmates. Landing in what would now be known as Ireland, Styr finds himself chained in Caragh’s home and oddly attracted to the woman who holds him prisoner: and Caragh in return begins to fall for her captive. The pair begin a search for Caragh’s brother and Styr’s wife but what they discover is that the heart knows no boundary when the soul finds its’ mate.

As I read the storyline it becomes readily apparent that our hero Styr Hardrata is in a loveless marriage, arranged when he was seventeen, that has yet to produce an heir. Saying this, Styr’s attraction to Caragh is a major theme running throughout the story band Styr tries to remain faithful to his missing wife albeit with little help from Caragh. Their attraction to one another is palpable as Caragh pushes Styr to the limits of his patience and sexual desire. Styr is in a constant battle with his conscience and his guilt over his developing feelings for Caragh.

The characters are old world but the language is not as ‘old world styled’ as I would have thought. There are several secondary characters with potential storylines including Styr’s wife Elena and his friend Ragnar. The storyline is well paced with just enough background information about the leading characters so as not to overwhelm the premise.

But I want to point out that most of what can be perceived as infidelity is that of the mind-thoughts, desires and wants. Some people/readers believe that even thinking about/ having feeling for someone other than their mate is betrayal, but there is a fine line between truth and dishonor. And how many other fictional storylines have all of us read that contain a similar premise or plot? Rape and Torture? Murder and Abuse? And yet, I don’t see readers readying an army of morality judges.  After all, the title says it all -To Sin-and that should be enough to let the reader know this isn’t all hearts and flowers.  

To Sin With A Viking is a well written, compelling storyline that will make some people think and others will take it for what it is-a fictional storyline about two people who fall in love with each other under extenuating circumstances.

Copy supplied by the publisher/Harlequin

Reviewed by Sandy


The Barker Triplets Series by Juliana Stone-a series review

The Barker Triplets Series by Juliana Stone-a series review

The Barker Triplets

OffsideOFFSIDE (The Barker Triplets #1) by Juliana Stone

At the time of posting OFFSIDE was FREE at: / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: September 2012

When hockey phenom Billie-Jo Barker returns home and decides to play in the local Friday night hockey league, all hell breaks loose. Not because Billie’s talent is in question, but because Billie is a woman. And though these are modern times, some of the local guys still have a problem letting a girl into their ‘men’s club.’

Soon, Billie is at the center of a small town battle of the sexes, with everyone choosing sides. Her sisters. The townsfolk. Her friends. And yet, the only person whose opinion she cares about doesn’t seem to care much at all. Logan Forest, the man who broke her heart when she was eighteen and the man she now shares the bench with every Friday night.

She’s got a lot to prove and though Billie Jo Barker scores on the ice, will this girl ever score with the man of her dreams?

REVIEW: OFFSIDE is the first installment in Juliana Stone’s new series focusing on three sisters-Billie Jo, Bobbi Jo and Betty Jo Barker-the Barker triplets. And let’s just say their sibling rivalry would make any parent cringe and hide. This is Billie Jo and Logan’s story.

This is a story of sexism to the nth degree. When Billie Jo returns home from the big leagues recovering from a concussion, she inadvertently draws the ire and disapproval of most of the town when she registers for the Friday Night inter-city hockey league. Not only is she the only female but she is better than every other player in the league. She will become the target of ridicule; sexist misogynistic males; and physical and emotional abuse both on and off the ice.

The writing style is simple. The reader is pulled into a storyline of one family’s dysfunctional attitude toward each other. While the ‘adults’ struggle to keep peace, the triplets are at each other’s throats constantly. We learn there is some history between the sisters as it pertains to the men or lack of men in their lives but also that this history fuels much of the town’s aggression towards Billie Jo.

The characters, for a lack of a better word, are not likeable. The townsfolk belittle, humiliate, assault and insult Billie Jo at every opportunity but when the local hero makes it his mission to offer Billie Jo his support, he learns exactly who his friends are.

The plot revolves around one woman’s need to fit in where others believe she doesn’t belong. There is some tension between the Billie and Logan, especially as it pertains to their connected pasts-a past that is mired in secrets and betrayal. Billie Jo is a woman who has been in love with Logan since her early high school days, but she knows that Logan had his heart set on another sister. The sexual heat and tension between our hero and heroine is hot but their relationship is kept in secret for most of the storyline due to possible backlash and pain. And in true romance storyline fashion, there will be a misunderstanding that forces the couple apart when in actuality, the truth hurts, no matter who is at fault.

If you like a quick read, with a hockey backdrop in small town USA, The Barker Triplets is the series for you. All three sisters will eventually find their one true love, but until they do, the sibling rivalry will push my proverbial buttons-these sisters were a piece of work and then some. If I didn’t know better, I would think that Juliana Stone knows what it is like to live in a household of bickering and jealous sisters.


CollideCOLLIDE (The Barker Triplets #2) by Juliana Stone / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 2013

A second chance never looked so good…

Bobbi-Jo Barker has been in love with the wrong man for years. A man who doesn’t fit into the perfect, controlled life she’s created. A man who not only broke her heart but nearly destroyed her. So the fact that he’s back in town shouldn’t matter because he’s all wrong for her, or so she thinks…

Shane Gallagher, prodigal son, ex-con, and all around hellion, has returned to the small town of New Waterford to mend fences and get his life back. What he doesn’t count on are the feelings he still has for the one woman who can break him—the one woman who is totally wrong for him.

And yet, as Bobbi and Shane are thrown together and begin to navigate a life with each other in it, neither can deny the attraction they feel, or the emotions that come with it—the good and the bad. And so the question becomes… can these two damaged souls survive a second chance at love?

REVIEW: COLLIDE is the second installment in Juliana Stone’s New Adult contemporary romance The Barker Triplets series focusing on Billie-Jo, Bobbi-Jo and Betty-Jo Barker. Collide is Bobbi-Jo and Shane Gallagher’s storyline-another storyline of second chances and forgiveness.

Like the first storyline-OFFSIDE- the characters are flawed in such a way that it took some time before Bobbi-Jo became less of an irritant to the flow of the story. There is a history between Bobbi-Jo and Shane and one that is mired in secrets, betrayal and heartbreaking sorrow.

Their prior relationship was tumultuous, aggressive and during a time when both were too young to accept full responsibility for their actions. But decisions were made and betrayal revealed that resulted in years of misunderstanding, painful memories and hateful scorn. When our couple, finally reconnect with each other, the truth will hurt but will bring about an end to their anguish and pain.

COLLIDE is another interesting storyline of second chances and forgiveness. The Barker Triplets are a trio of twenty five year old sisters who are not the easiest characters to like in the early stages of the series and successive novels. Betty –Jo’s story has yet to be told and she is by far the nastiest piece of work of the three. The sister’s animosity towards each other is fueled by jealousy and anger and, the pain of their father’s deteriorating health.

COLLIDE is a fast paced, sometimes heartbreaking storyline of two people so much in love with each other that they continue to hurt one another at every turn. It will take the truth about what happened year before to put the past behind them and begin a new life together.


ConcealCONCEAL (The Barker Triplets #3) by Juliana Stone / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date June 15, 2013

No one said going home would be easy…

Black sheep and all around trouble maker, Betty Jo Barker is back home and hoping for a do-over. Things are finally looking up until Beau Simon comes to town. The man pushes every button she owns and manages to awaken long dead emotions she’d rather leave buried. Beneath the surface she knows she’s a wreck–her scars run deep–and she can’t help but wonder, is Beau Simon the one who can fix her?

Beau Simon, the brightest star in Hollywood has come to New Waterford for one reason only. He’s determined to have Betty Jo Barker star in his next film. He knows she’s perfect for the part, but a past encounter might prove more than a little difficult to overcome. As Beau turns on the charm, hoping to win over this complicated woman, he realizes it won’t be easy.

Only time will tell if what lies beneath can ever be overcome. Or if love can heal all…

REVIEW: CONCEAL is the third and final installment in Juliana Stone’s contemporary New Adult series The Barker Triplets based on the lives and loves of three identical sisters Billie-Jo, Bobbi-Jo and Betty-Jo Barker. This is Betty-Jo and Beau Simon’s storyline. Betty-Jo has been one of the most unlikable characters in this particular series but like all storylines there were obviously some issues with this character and her relationship with her sisters.

Betty-Jo is a burned-out, has been cover model who fell into a life of drugs and alcohol. When she was finally ‘kicked’ out of the business, Betty-Jo returned home to a small town mentality where she became known as the local whore, slut and junkie. Although she tried desperately to straighten out her life, a pattern of drinking and sex with one night stands exacerbated the situation. But like every story there is a history – a history that set the stage for Betty-Jo’s life. Drinking and drugs were not the answer, but the love and support of a good man and family would have done miracles for Betty-Jo.

The storyline focuses on Betty-Jo and Beau’s history together-a past mired in betrayal and pain. When Beau arrives in small town Michigan to offer Betty-Jo the lead in his latest movie, Betty-Jo suspects there is more to the offer than meets the eye. And she is correct. Beau has never forgotten Betty-Jo and blames himself for part of Betty-Jo’s failure.

The relationship cannot be described as a second-chance or even friends to lovers, as Beau used Betty-Jo in the past. Their history is not pretty and one Betty-Jo considers a form of betrayal. But the truth about Betty-Jo’s descent into alcohol and drug abuse will open a few eyes, especially for the family that has treated Betty-Jo like a leper and loser. Knowing what happened on that fateful night so many years before will bring the sisters closer together and tug at your heart knowing what Betty-Jo has had to endure for years.

CONCEAL is an emotional storyline of one woman’s struggle with alcohol and drugs but it is also a storyline of family and forgiveness. Betty-Jo’s low self esteem is masked by revealing clothes and make-up as well as an attitude that would frighten most people. Where once stood a beautiful cover girl model now stands a broken woman with demons that continue to haunt her every waking day.

With Conceal, The Barker Triplets saga comes to an end, but Juliana Stone will continue the storylines with Beau Simon’s three brothers (Tucker, Jack and Teague) and his sister Grace. Two of the brothers are introduced in Conceal but the entire family is referenced through out.

Reviewed by Sandy


The Darkest Craving by Gena Showalter-Blog Tour and Giveaway

The Darkest Craving by Gena Showalter-Blog Tour and Giveaway


The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)
by Gena Showalter
Release Date: July 30, 2013

 The Darkest Craving / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository

Having endured weeks of torture in the bowels of hell, Kane wants nothing to do with his beautiful rescuer, Josephina Aisling. The half-Fae female threatens to awaken the demon of Disaster inside him—a beast he’s determined to kill, no matter the price.

Josephina is hunted by a brutal enemy—her royal family—and Kane is her only source of protection. He’s also the only male to ever set her aflame, and even he succumbs to the heat. But as they navigate the treacherous world of the Fae, they are forced to make a choice: live apart…or die together.

Lords of the Underworld Collage

Long ago, twelve immortals warriors – each more dangerously seductive than the last — stole and opened Pandora’s box, unleashing the evil from within. Now they carry that evil within themselves. Violence, Pain, Death, Disease, Disaster, Misery, Doubt, Promiscuity, Defeat, Lies, Secrets, and Wrath. When a powerful enemy returns, they will travel the world in search of a sacred relic of the gods – one that threatens to destroy them all.

Reading Order:
The Darkest Fire
The Darkest Night
The Darkest Kiss
The Darkest Pleasure
The Darkest Prison
The Darkest Whisper
Heart of Darkness (Anthology)
After Dark (Anthology)
The Darkest Passion
The Darkest Lie
The Darkest Secret
The Darkest Surrender
The Darkest Seduction
The Darkest Craving

About The Author Black and yellow

GenaShowalter2Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the White Rabbit Chronicles, Otherworld Assassins, Angels of the Dark, Lords of the Underworld, and several of other series.  She has written over thirty novels and novellas.  Her books have appeared in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazine, and have been translated in multiple languages.  

Connect with Gena:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads


Rafflecopter Giveaway Black andYellow

Gena is giving away the following prizes at the end of her tour:

GRAND PRIZE: $100.00 gift card to Amazon

RUNNERS-UP: Two (2) runners-up will receive a paperback of THE DARKEST CRAVING


NOTE: The Reading Cafe is NOT responsible for the rafflecopter giveaway.  If you have any questions, please contact the tour promoter.

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