Tempting Boundaries, Carrie Ann Ryan

Because I have my Review Policy posted, I almost never explicitly state where I obtained my copy of the book for review. But in this case, I need to let you all know I threw myself on the mercy of the author and begged. I was facing an entire morning getting my car serviced, I had this review due, and all the other ARCs I had to read aren’t going to be published for at least 6 weeks or so. I was desperate.

Luckily, Carrie Ann Ryan likes me and immediately sent me this ARC. Let me clearly state, however, that in no way did Ms. Ryan influence this review. This is a completely honest review which is 100% my own.

Oh, Lordy. Let me start off by saying the decision to read this in a public waiting room was clearly not the best choice. It was hot and sexy and emotional and tragic and just all around wonderful.

In the second book of the Montgomery Ink series, Decker has been in love with Miranda for years, but he refuses to admit it to himself and he refuses to do anything about it. Miranda has been in love with Decker for years and has decided she’s going to take matters into her own hands and make a move. This does not go well for them. This book starts out slow, in that the relationship doesn’t really get going until the middle of the book, but you don’t feel like it’s dragging. There’s lots going on, both with the Montgomery family and all the drama that entails, as well as a subplot with Miranda and…well, you’ll just have to read for yourself.

Decker is my favorite kind of hero. He’s not only in love with his best friend’s little sister, but he’s absolutely broken. He believes he needs to stay away from Miranda for her own sake because he’s no good for her. He has family issues that loom so large in his head that he doesn’t see how to get past them. Miranda, for her part, doesn’t completely recognize his demons so she doesn’t know how to help. I’m not even sure she realizes he NEEDS help, but also, she’s dealing with her own more current trauma.

My biggest (and really only) complaint in this book is one you’ve heard me say before. There wasn’t enough grovel. I know. I’m a total grovel whore, but in this he REALLY needed to do more, IMNSVHO, and she let him off pretty lightly. I understand why, but he emotionally abandoned her when she needed him most, and that’s a pretty huge betrayal to get past, and I don’t think he did the work needed to heal that wound. We’ll have to see how it plays out in future books.

In the meantime, I’m off to pick up the rest of the Montgomery Ink books so I can catch up. I’m looking forward to Luc and Meghan’s book.

High Seduction, Vivian Arend

One of these days Vivian Arend needs to write a book I won’t FanGirl over.

I mean, the law of averages has to come into play at SOME point, doesn’t it? The woman’s too prolific for me to love EVERYTHING…isn’t she? This is Ms. Arend’s 38th book, and I’ve read probably close to 30 of them and loved them all. Really. She’s going to need to stop this or I’m going to run out of nice things to say. (Don’t stop, Viv. Please don’t stop).

Out of all of her books, High Seduction ranks up there in the top 3 as one of my all-time favorite Vivian Arend books. I’ll tell you right now, if it wasn’t for my absolute and unending love of Travis from Rocky Mountain Freedom, Tim would be my favorite hero. He’s amazing. He is absolutely in love with Erin and not afraid to show her how he feels. He knows they had problems years ago, but he’s willing to do the work it’s going to take to get through them and get her back. For good.

As for Erin, she’s in denial for a little bit, but Tim and his constancy quickly win her over. She recognizes she still has lingering issues from their previous relationship, but she’s able to face those issues and learn from them without pushing Tim away in the process.

Tim, for his part, is willing to take a huge risk to help her work through whatever she needs to. As much of a dominant as Tim is, he never tries to force Erin through her mental blocks. He knows if she’s not in this relationship all the way, there’s nothing he can do to make her get there, but he’s willing to fight for them. He helps her where he can, and shows her the way, so to speak, and then stands back until she decides what she wants. Tim is, above all, a caregiver in every sense of the word. He loves Erin and would die before hurting her in ANY way. I love how he snuggles with her. To me snuggling/cuddling is one of the most romantic things a guy can do. Totally makes me melt every time.

Being an Adrenaline Search & Rescue title, of course there’s some suspense, but Ms. Arend kept the focus on Erin and Tim and….others…and didn’t spend too much time focusing on the suspense subplot. Which was just fine. Anything with more Tim was good for me.

I loved how, even with Erin’s initial reluctance to deal with Tim again, she was always professional. Neither she nor the team did any of the “we hate the new guy” posturing. Tim is new to the team, yes, but he’s an experienced SAR and the team recognizes and respects that. There’s hazing, but more in a good natured “welcome to the team” kind of way and not “let’s terrorize the new guy until he quits.”

There’s a new character introduced in this book. Matt, who plays a big role in High Seduction. I loved him and am hoping we get to see more of him.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Vivian Arend’s FanGirl
aka The Fish With Sticks

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Hope Flames, Jaci Burton

When I say I waited until the last POSSIBLE second to read this book, I’m not really kidding. It’s 1:30 am, I’ve JUST finished the book and I’m writing this review which gets posted in…carry the 2…4 1/2 hours. This one kind of snuck up on me. Whoops. LOL While I’m known for writing my reviews late, I’ve usually already read the book.

This book has some of my favorite things: Small towns, great family, fantastic animals (in this case 3 adorable dogs with some others making brief appearances) and a really great couple.

When we first meet Luke he’s kind of known for being a man whore. He’s been burned by the bitchy ex-wife and wants absolutely NO part of a relationship again. He’s got his job (small town cop). He’s got his dog (Boomer, a police dog). He’s happy as can be to be a love ’em for a night and leave ’em guy.

Emma, for her part, has some deep dark trauma in her past which makes her wary of relationships. She’s up to her eyeballs in debt starting up her vet practice in her hometown and has neither the time nor the inclination to get involved with anyone.

Now, for a lesser author, these two could have been very cardboard cutout. We’ve seen these characters in COUNTLESS books. Heroine needs emotional “healing” and Hero has got just the Magic Wang to do it for her. Hero needs to realize all women aren’t money grubbing bitches, and Heroine is the perfect, wholesome small-town girl to prove it. What I loved about this book is Ms. Burton didn’t take the easy way. She didn’t do these characters that disservice. She made them normal people. Yeah, Emma needs to get past the trauma of her past, but she’s doing it. On her own. She doesn’t need Luke or any guy’s Magic Wang to get her through it. And Luke, while he IS skittish about relationships (for that matter, so is Emma), he DOES realize what’s going on and he’s okay about it. For the most part. LOL.

There’s even a point in the book where Luke realizes he and Emma need to sit and TALK about the hard stuff. He knows they’re glossing things over, and he wants to go forward from where they are, and to do that they need to talk. Love it. So refreshing to see a couple like this.

There’s a couple subplots going on, one of which involves Emma and some trouble. My favorite part was this:

Someone was in her house.

So here was her independence. Should she take out her gun and go check it herself? Hell, no. She was independent. Not stupid. She needed to get out of the house now.

And let me just say for the record she was smarter than I was. When I came home a few years ago to find my house robbed, I not only went in, but I WENT UPSTAIRS before calling the cops. *sigh* Yup. I was THAT GIRL. If it was a horror movie, I would have been blonde and the first one dead. No, no. No need to tell me how stupid that was. My BFF did that already. Loudly. A lot.


Overall I liked this book a lot. There were a few areas where I think the info dump was a little heavy handed, and the dialogue seemed a little forced, but that was always with the peripheral characters. Where Ms. Burton really shined was with Emma and Luke. She’s created a couple who I not only enjoyed spending time with, but would love to just go and hang out with them and their dogs. Although I did notice a distinct lack of feline characters.

Lynda the Guppy
aka A Fish With A Cat
aka A Fish With Sticks

Rating: 3.5 Stars

After the Storm, Maya Banks

Reading After the Storm by Maya Banks for this review caused me no small amount of stress. LOL Not because of the content of the book, but because of my own Book OCD. You see, I HATE spoilers. Seriously. I don’t end read. I don’t want to know how the movie/book/tv show ends before it does. As an addendum, I NEVER read books out of order. I might once I’ve read all the books in a series, but for the first time? Nope. Never. Also, I never put books down in the middle to go read something else and then come back. I just don’t do it. I read fast enough it usually isn’t even an issue.

So…want to guess who STILL hasn’t read Forged in Steele (the KGI book before After the Storm) AND who had to stop reading Shelly Laurenston’s Big Bad Beast in order to read this book for my review?

All that aside, I enjoyed this book. It’s typical Maya Banks. Tough, strong guys willing to lay down their lives to protect those who need it. Tough, strong women who don’t need the men to rescue them, but appreciate the helping hand. I’ve been listening to the KGI series lately, and I find it interesting how listening to a book allows you to pick up on things you might not notice while reading. One of those things is how little dialogue Ms. Banks has in her books. There is a LOT of internal monologues and descriptions and such, but actual discussion between the characters doesn’t happen as much as you would expect.

One of the things that bothered me a little is at the end (no spoilers!) when Van and Eve are talking things out, she thinks about how wrong she was to not trust him (again with the internal monologue), and that took me out of the book for a minute. In terms of the timeline of the book, they’ve known each other for a few days. And a fair portion of that time, she’s spent unconscious and recovering from injuries. I don’t think it is at ALL unreasonable or unexpected that she would still have trust issues, especially when you consider what she’s on the run from. I get it’s a romance book, and as such there’s a certain amount of fantasy in play here, but I wish they had dealt with it more openly as a “Yeah, I didn’t trust you. Can you blame me?” and not “I’m so sorry! It’s my fault I didn’t trust you!” Paraphrasing, but you get the gist.

Also, the whole beginning of the story is very Rusty-centric, but then Rusty seems to just drop off the face of the earth. All that concern for Travis and then she…what? Where did she go? I know she trusted Van to take care of Eve and the kids, but I don’t see why Rusty wasn’t one of the ones checking in on all of them. You would think they would have wanted another friendly and familiar face around.

All in all, I thought this was a solid entry into the KGI series. It was more home-centric than some of her more recent ones have been, and it was nice to have everyone stay put for a change. LOL. And after Shades of Gray, it was nice to have the angst and emotional heartbreak dialed down a bit.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Swanny’s My Favorite Kelly
aka The Fish With Sticks

Rating: 3.5 Stars


Starting from Scratch, Stacy Gail

Starting from Scratch by Stacy Gail nearly broke me. Some of my favorite tropes in this one: Military Hero, Damaged Hero, Marriage in Trouble, Small Town, Holiday Story.  So many tropes. And it all worked.

The book starts with Lucy at work hearing Sully is back in town. We come to learn Sully is her ex-husband Sullivan. He was an Army Ranger who was injured by an IED. He is now recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury and remembers almost everything…except Lucy.

Lucy is still in love with her ex-husband. They’ve only been divorced less than a year, and it wasn’t her idea. Since Sully had no memory of his wife, he decided she shouldn’t be chained to him while he recovers.

I have to say, I had heard a lot about this story. All of it good, and nearly all of it using words like “sobbed my way through” and “ugly cry” and “OMG I couldn’t stop crying.” All of it accurate. I pretty much weeped my way through this book. My heart absolutely broke for Lucy. She loves Sullivan so much and yet he doesn’t remember her at all. And even worse, their marriage was in trouble before he shipped out this last time. He does have an insatiable craving for cookies. Since Lucy is a baker, I knew his craving for cookies was a craving for Lucy and that, too, broke my heart.

While I was rooting for this couple, I couldn’t help but want Lucy to just leave town. She was in so much pain having to deal with Sullivan and her unresolved issues with his choices and the fact he treats her like everyone else. I just wanted her pain to stop, and seeing him around town was just torture for her.

And Sullivan…What he did becomes clear, and he DOES do some grovel, and while his explanation is satisfactory, I’m from the “There can never be too much grovel” school of thought, and thought she forgave him way too easily. He hurt her a LOT, not just after his injury, but before when they were still married. It felt like she cut him too much slack because he had been injured since then. I would have liked some acknowledgment of all the issues they still need to work through.

Lest you think this book is nothing but an angst-filled heartbreaking tragic story, every now and again Ms. Gail puts a line in which makes you laugh.

“Every time you say you hate Christmas, one of Santa’s elves explodes.”


“Tweed is the devil’s material, and moths are his fluttery, dusty minions that want to steal my soul.”

As a knitter with a closet full of wool yarn and hand-knit wool items, I COMPLETELY agree. Damn soul suckers.

There was just enough humor in this book to keep it from being too dark. There was hope, even when it seemed Lucy was crushed under the weight of her grief and sadness. While I cried my way through, I never felt as if these two wouldn’t get their HEA. I had absolute faith Sullivan would remember Lucy and realize what a jerk he had been to her before and make it all up to her. Because if he didn’t, I was showing up on his doorstep with pitchforks and torches.

At the end of the story, Ms. Gail has a note that there are “deleted scenes” on her blog, and to check them out. I did, and I wish they had been included! The epilogue she has posted on her site is what I needed there to be at the end. It shows how Lucy and Sullivan (especially Sullivan) really worked to get their relationship back. It shows us the end of the book wasn’t as simple or cut and dried as it seemed. Lucy DID make him work for it. Good for her. She deserved it, and he needed to put his time in making it all up to her.

And warning: on her site there’s also a letter to Sully’s friend’s kids which will make you cry. Crying is kind of a recurring theme with this book, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

While this book is technically a “holiday” story, This one is going to end up in permanent rotation all year long. Whenever I want a great, emotional, sob-fest of a story, this is the one I’ll reach for.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from Ms. Gail. According to her site, she’s writing another Bitterthorn book. Yay! And I’m hoping at some point we will get Coe’s story, too. He intrigued me.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Holiday Peppermint Sticks
aka The Fish With Sticks

Rating: 5 Stars

Rocky Mountain Freedom, Vivian Arend

This book was awesome. Go read it. Now.

What? That doesn’t cut it as a review? Damn. Okay, then here goes.

You know THAT BOOK? It’s the book in a series you’ve been waiting YEARS for. It’s the one with your favorite characters and you kept hoping it was the next one to be released and the next one and the next one, but your favorite author keeps tormenting you with little bits and hints of this character’s story in OTHER characters’ books and makes you wait FOREVER. And even though you’ve been DYING for this book and this character to FINALLY get their HEA, once you get the book in your hot little hands you’re terrified to read it? OMG WHAT IF IT DOESN’T LIVE UP TO EVERYTHING YOU’VE HAD IN YOUR HEAD FOR THE LAST 2 YEARS?!?!

Rocky Mountain Freedom and Travis was THAT BOOK for me.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting Travis’ book since that scene in the barn in Rocky Mountain Heat when he told Blake why he though Jaxi was really dating Travis all those years ago. Right then my heart broke for Travis. And in Rocky Mountain Angel when Travis and Cassidy show up at Gabe’s cabin all beat up and needing a place to heal? How can you not want to just cuddle him and make all his hurts go away?! Through all 5 of these books I knew Travis was going to be the one I loved most. He was full of angst and drama and conflict and I couldn’t WAIT for his book.


I sat down and read the book in one sitting. And it didn’t live up to my expectations.

It blew my expectations out of the freakin’ water.

I thought I loved Travis. I thought I knew what he was about. I thought I knew what his story was going to be like.

I was so, soooooo wrong.

I normally don’t enjoy rehashing previous scenes in new books, but because Travis’ story had significant moments throughout the rest of the series, I really liked how Vivian Arend brought those scenes back and gave us a different point of view. It also helped to put these scenes into context in relation to Travis (and Cassidy and Ashley). I didn’t have to rely on my faulty memory to figure out when and where something took place. YAY! Thank god for authors who are good to lazy readers.

One of my biggest complaints with a lot of ménage stories is the lack of “boy touching,” as I call it. Yeah, it’s great the woman is the center, blah blah blah, every woman’s fantasy, yadda yadda yadda, but that always seems unbalanced to me. The first time I found a ménage story where it felt like it really was a relationship between THREE people and not just boys vs. girl was Lauren Dane’s Laid Bare. This book feels very much the same. This relationship between Travis and Ashley and Cassidy really felt like it was between ALL of them equally, and not just Travis and Cassidy focusing on Ashley. They DO, of course, but Travis and Cassidy have their private moments, just as Ashley has private moments with Travis and Cassidy separately.

And the boy touching is HOT. Just sayin’. Also: No shortage of dirty talk. Always a plus with me.

I loved that all three of them each had their own issues to work out, and they were given the space and time and support they each needed to do so. They all loved and trusted each other and for the most part all three acted in the best interests of the other two. Not always, of course, or where would the tension and drama come from?

Travis…Oh, Travis. Poor, angsty, troubled Travis. I loved him so much. So SOOOO much. He’s damaged and knows it, and he wants Cassidy and Ashley more than anything, but he’s having a difficult time reconciling his needs with accepting their love.

Cassidy broke my heart. His issues with his father and his worry about…well, you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Ashley was exactly the catalyst the two guys needed to break through their emotional barriers and realize what they could have as a triad. She has some worries of her own, but works through them.

I think one of my favorite moments is when Travis finally tells Ashley how he feels about her. Her and Cassidy’s reaction was priceless, and exactly what Travis needed. Viv Arend did such a wonderful job showing how much the three of them trust and love each other, and how they all feel emotionally safe within the relationship. They know they can break down in tears or talk about bad childhoods and they won’t be judged. Instead they will be loved beyond measure. Really, isn’t that what all of us look for in our own Happily Ever Afters?

I don’t know what else to tell you, other than this book was sexy, hot, emotional, full of angst, and a wonderful read. Also, I feel absolutely confident in judging this book by its cover. Yowza!

I read between 200-300 books a year and I give 5 stars to about 10 of those each year. I’d give this book 6 stars if I could.

In fact, I think I’ll go read it again right now.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Travis4Ever
aka The Fish With Sticks

Rating: 5 Stars

The Wrong Billionaire’s Bed, Jessica Clare

Warning: Major Spoilers and Cranky Ranting ahead.

Oh, dear. I wanted to like this book. Really. I did. I’ve been reading the Billionaire Boys’ Club series and enjoying them. In fact, Book 2, Beauty & The Billionaire, is one of the best books I’ve read all year. One of only a handful of 5-star books for 2013. But this one. *sigh* I don’t even know where to begin.

Here’s the premise. Our Heroine, Audrey, is the personal assistant to one of The Billionaires, Logan. She’s also been friends with another Billionaire, Cade, since grade school. And she’s been in love with him all that time. So she and her druggie, alcoholic, rock star sister go to Cade’s cabin in the woods so Daphne (the twin. Did I mention they’re twins? Not identical, thankfully) can dry out. That’s right. Instead of taking her to get her professional help, Daphne talks Audrey into going it alone. In the woods. With no medical training and no medical help anywhere around.

So they get to the Magical Cabin of Instant Rehab only to find ANOTHER Billionaire, Reese, in a hot tub with a woman. Because of DRAMA, Audrey manages to make Barbie (not her name) leave, screaming, wet, half-naked, and with Reese’s suitcase and cell phone in the only car they brought.

And then to round out our Party of Fun Times with Druggies, CADE shows up. Yup. The one Audrey has been in love with since grade school. Oh, and just to make sure we didn’t have ENOUGH going on at The Magical Cabin of Instant Rehab, Cade’s in love with Daphne.

So. To recap. Reese is a playboy who just had his new Barbie Doll ran off by Audrey who is in love with Cade who is in love with Daphne who is a drug addict alcoholic rock star.

And that was just Chapter One.

Oh, how I wish that was a joke.

My biggest issue with this entire book is there is way too much game playing. Reese figures out pretty quick that Audrey is in love with Cade, and not long after figures Cade’s in love with Daphne. Instead of treating Audrey like a person, he “teases” her in front of Cade and makes her uncomfortable again and again. Even though he knows she thinks she’s in love, he gets her to kiss him and to go skinny dipping with him. If he cared for her AT ALL, he wouldn’t do this to her. Through the entire book he acts like those tween boys who hit the girls they like instead of talking to them.

Audrey is no better. She actually takes love advice from Daphne The Detoxer, even AFTER Daphne admits the next day she has no memory of giving any advice. We keep hearing again and again about how WONDERFUL Cade is and how GIVING he is and how CAPABLE and SUPPORTIVE he is, and really, he sounds like a total sap. But even knowing all this, and knowing she believes she’s in love, and WANTS TO USE THIS TIME TO FURTHER HER RELATIONSHIP WITH CADE, Audrey still makes out with Reese, has sex with Reese, and even gets Daphne the Detoxer and Cade the Capable out of the house for the day so she and Reese can fuck all over the place. But really. She’s in love with Cade.

Here’s another gripe. Audrey the Amazing wants to use The Magical Cabin of Rehab as a way to get closer to Cade the Capable, WHILE HER TWIN SISTER IS COMING OFF OF MAJOR DRUGS. Now, I have no idea about the author Ms. Clare’s history or what research she may or may not have done, but I’ve lived with a drug addict. I’ve gone through the detoxes and the rehabs and the empty promises, and while Ms. Clare made an attempt to portray detoxing as unpleasant, she didn’t even come close. Also, someone who is dealing with a sister, a TWIN, whom she’s supposedly so close to, trying to detox and get clean after years of addiction wouldn’t even be considering using that time and place as a romantic getaway. Because nothing says Sexy Times like cleaning up vomit and other bodily fluids while trying to keep the addict fed, clothed, and away from anything sharp.

The Big Misunderstanding happens, and Daphne the Detoxer has a hand in it. Reese leaves thinking Audrey’s been using him as a replacement for Cade Her One True Love (hellooooooo?! Not really news), Audrey the Amazing gets pissed and snaps at her sister a little bit. Daphne then jumps into bed with Cade in order to get the Xanax he’s been giving her (Don’t ask. Seriously. Don’t. I’ll just get pissed again) and OD’s. Audrey and Cade get her rushed to the hospital where she’s put into ICU.

And AGAIN, we have a something which takes me immediately and completely out of the story. The family of a celebrity who has been rushed into a hospital because of an overdose would NOT be sharing a waiting room WITH THE PRESS. Would. Not. Happen. Especially with Billionaire Cade the Capable with them. If the hospital didn’t do it, CADE would have. They’d put the family somewhere else, in another waiting room, an office, hell, they’d even stick them in an empty room if they had to! No WAY would they let the family sit there with photographers and other Paparazzo IN THE ROOM. For that matter, the Papparazzo wouldn’t be allowed IN the hospital in the first place. The hospital would have a room set up just for them.

Reese finally hears about all this a few days after it has happened. He’s finally admitting (to himself only so far) that he might have feelings for Audrey. Problem is he’s at Man Night with his Secret Society Billionaire Buddies and he’s drunk. He knows she needs him, though. He knows he’s the only one who can push her until she lets everything out. He knows she’s having a hard time and needs his support now more than ever, but does he decide to wait until he’s sober before he goes rushing to his love’s side? Sort of. He decides to wait a few DAYS and go to her at a WORK cocktail party. Because that’s what she needs. To have a total breakdown at a function she’s WORKING where there’s tons and tons of wealthy, influential people, INCLUDING HER BOSS. Oh, and there’s some financial drama regarding Reese and his company which has been going on, but really I don’t care at this point.

He goes to the party and finds her. She breaks down. Some bimbettes find him. She runs. He catches her. They decide to have a committed relationship, even though his longest relationship to date was probably something like a week. They have sex in a closet and he proposes. SHE ACCEPTS. Oh, and the sex? Unprotected because he wasn’t going there to “score” and she’s “feeling the need to gamble.” Direct quote. No lie.

*sigh* They’ve really known each other for only a few days. They’ve had not one single serious conversation about ANYTHING. They have no idea what their goals are. They don’t even know if they’re dog people or cat people, much less how they feel about kids! I don’t mind an author not showing us everything, but this was just waaaay too fast.

Now we come to the worst part for me. The Epilogue. Three Months later.

It has been three months since the proposal, and they are on a private jet on their way to Hawaii (I think. At this point I was skimming. Someplace he can get her in a bikini) to get married. Her sister is still in Rehab, but in an ACTUAL rehab this time, not The Magical Cabin of Instant Rehab. And get this. Audrey’s pregnant! Yay, right? Except she’s totally stressed and panicking because she hasn’t told Reese. Why not? Because SHE’S AFRAID HE’LL LEAVE HER.

Seriously?! SERIOUSLY?!?!?!

She’s MARRYING the guy and she doesn’t want to tell him she’s pregnant because SHE THINKS HE MIGHT DUMP HER?!?! THEY HAVEN’T HAD THIS CONVERSATION YET?!?! She tearfully tells him and of course he’s The Hero so he’s all happy, but come on. If she’s STILL having these fears and worries, the LAST thing she should be doing is marrying the guy. I’d suggest counseling. A lot of it. For both of them.

Have you made it this far? If you have, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version. There’s no depth to this story. I never got the sense Audrey and Reese ever really got to know each other enough to LIKE each other, much less fell in love. And as a side note Cade seems WAY too nice for someone like Daphne. They all play way too many games and no one ever really has a serious discussion with anyone about anything important. If Ms. Clare had shown us even a little bit of that kind of thing, if we ever got the sense Audrey and Reese connected on anything other than the most superficial level, I’d feel more satisfied at the ending. Even if all the Discussions of Great Importance happened between the end of the last chapter and the beginning of the epilogue, I’d be okay with it, but knowing during the epilogue how Audrey feels about telling Reese she’s pregnant? Yeah, those discussions have never happened. I have no faith they have any idea what they’re getting into with marriage, much less be able to make that marriage work for longer than it will take for their tans to fade.

Too bad, too, because I really did love the last one. Maybe I’m an optimist, but I’m still looking forward to the next one.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Disappointed Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks


Jagged, Kristen Ashley

WARNING: There WILL be spoilers in this review. I’ll mark the point just before where they are, but they are ruin-the-end-of-the-book spoilers, and YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. 

I have a problem with Kristen Ashley. When I read her books, I lose whole months. The first time I tried her was the end of June, and next thing I know, it is 14 books later and August. So when I obtained an ARC copy of her newest book, Jagged, I was apprehensive. I knew I was going to want to re-read the previous Colorado Mountain books, but was I about to lose October, too?

Not yet. Thankfully.

Jagged is the latest book (and number 5) of the Colorado Mountain series, and I’m not sure I’d classify it as such. It’s kind of a cross-over book for me, because while Nina and Max from The Gamble play a pretty big role (and Kami even makes an appearance), Ham Reece is actually from For You, book 1 of The Burg series. He’s the guy February had an on-off again relationship with while she and Colt were apart. Also, there’s a subplot which references another subplot of For You, but doesn’t directly affect Zara and Ham.

It felt to me as if Ms. Ashley wrote Ham (or Reece as everyone else calls him) in For You, liked him so much she decided to use him again. Which is fine, however in For You there’s some angst as you feel he thought February could have been “his one.” And in one of the early scenes of Jagged, he’s just been injured (read For You. Really. Good book) and he goes to Zara. I was worried because it seemed too soon after Feb for me to feel this was a natural move for him. Luckily, Ms. Ashley must have agreed, because they end up spending some time apart. Still, it almost feels as if “Reece” and “Ham” are two very different men.

Once I got past that aspect, however, while I enjoyed the book, I would have liked to have seen more character growth. I liked how they both learned to share more and talk about things, but they have a couple of huge arguments, and I never felt like they learned from them. They needed to learn how to fight without throwing out cruel words, and I don’t think they ever did. They both just gave each other a little time, then made up, but they didn’t learn how NOT to do that again.

Also if Zara had the childhood she did, I don’t know if I believe she would have been as agressive with Ham as she was. Especially considering how they “never fought” before and now they’re screaming at each other. I think we should have seen more of her issues coming up there. And, again, that goes back to wishing there was more character growth between the two.

WARNING: Spoilers ahoy! No, seriously. Lots of spoilers from here on out. Like end-of-book spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own risk.

I would have liked to have actually SEEN her father and her aunt get what’s coming to them. Having them just waiting for trial seemed unsatisfying and inconclusive. After all her father did to her and her sister through the years, he needed to be punished and I REALLY wanted to see it.

I was pleased to see the final resolution of the sister’s subplot and the redemption of Zara’s aunt. Also, I liked they spent some time deciding what was best for Zander, and not just yanking him around just because they wanted him.

While Sweet Dreams remains my favorite Colorado Mountain book, I enjoyed Jagged and will reread it along with the rest whenever I next want to lose a month of my life. LOL.

Lynda the Guppy
aka See You Next Month Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks

 RATING: 3 1/2 Stars

Diamond Dust, Vivian Arend

This review was originally posted at Wicked Lil Pixie
on August 22, 2013

I loved this book. I loved this book so much I’ve read it twice in the last 6 weeks. Believe me, that’s pretty unheard of in my world. Usually I need to space it out further. I think Tyler has to be one of my favorite heroes of Vivian Arend’s. Tyler Harrison is wonderful. He’s funny, smart, protective, caring, and a bear.

That’s right. I said bear.

Tyler’s a bear shifter, to be precise, and where can I get one of my own? He’s the head of the Harrison Delegation who are headed to Whitehorse to meet in Conclave, which is the Bear version of…well…Conclave. They’re there to choose a new leader, and Tyler means to be the one chosen. The problem is there’s another delegation who is just as determined, but not nearly as worthy as Tyler. Of course.

Caroline is a human who grew up with a stepfather and half-sister who are wolf shifters, so she knows how shifters operate. She also has been having a long-term relationship with Evan who is the Alpha of the Takhini pack, as well as running the hotel the Takhini pack own. She may be human, but NOBODY crosses Caroline. Whether its fear of her or of Evan, she’s not sure, but whatever it is, it works.

Evan and Caroline are really more like best friends who have a lot of sex, which is good news for Tyler! Evan breaks up with Caroline right as Tyler arrives to town, and I’ll let Evan fill you on the reasons. Poor Evan. Ms. Arend tortures him so in this book. Once Tyler comes to town, things heat up FAST. He needs help schmoozing the Bear community, and maybe some help smoothing things over with the Takhini pack wouldn’t hurt, either. Caroline decides to help him, because she sees the potential disaster within the shifter community if someone unworthy is the head of the Bear shifters.

Caroline and Tyler are a good team. She sees things within the community which Tyler, being so used to how things are, doesn’t notice. Caroline ends up being invaluable to Tyler in helping win over a large part of the population, but what made this book so special for me is how Tyler is this big, gruff, bear. He’s a total take charge kind of guy and he’s used to being the biggest threat around. And because of those traits, he could just run right over Caroline, but he doesn’t. He realizes what she needs more than anything is to really be heard. For someone to listen and understand just what she needs, even if she doesn’t necessarily articulate those needs. He ASKS her what she wants, he doesn’t demand to know. He’s also very affectionate.

“Who said anything about leaving the bed?” He rolled far enough to tip her to the mattress then bundled her into his arms, nuzzling her neck and dropping kisses on her face.

Well, this was sweet. “Okay, I know guys are usually, well, up in the morning, but you’re, like, way affectionate.”

Tyler adjusted position to look into her eyes. “You were nice to my bear. He appreciates that.”

Really, you should give Tyler a chance. Vivian Arend’s shifters are really such wonderful characters, and Tyler is my absolute favorite.

For now.

Ask me again after Evan’s book.

Lynda the Guppy
A Bear?! Bears Are Sweet!
aka The Fish With Sticks

RATING: 4.5 Stars

Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh, Stephanie Laurens

Guppy Note: While at the RT Convention WAAAAAAAY back in May, I was lucky enough to get an ARC for this book. Unfortunately, I rarely read historical romances, but my cousin is a fan of both the genre and Ms. Laurens, so she pounced on the book and decided to try her hand at reviewing.

Be gentle. It’s her first time.

Well this is my first attempt at a book review so bear with me…Before I decided to review the latest Cynster Novel by Stephanie Laurens I thought I should re-read some of the books prior and any I hadn’t yet read to re-familiarize myself with the main characters and to get into the Cynster mind-frame.  I had forgotten how much I missed these books.

All told I re-read 6 books before I decided I was ready for The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh so when I finished the book I was sorely upset when it didn’t reach out and hold my attention like all the books leading up to it.  Now this could be that perhaps I read too many Cynster novels in a short time, or what makes a Cynster novel a CYNSTER novel just wasn’t there.  If you have read any of the Cynster books or even the Bastion Club books by Stephanie Laurens you know what I am talking about: the strong male that you sometimes want to bash upside the head, the female who knows she is in the right but still manages to screw something up and you laugh out loud at scenes or you sniffle through others.  For some reason this book just didn’t hit those marks for me.  We had heard about both Mary and Ryder in the books leading up to this and I couldn’t wait for the book to come out knowing Ryder was going to be an interesting character and that strong-headed Mary would be his match. Perhaps some of the lack of entertainment in this book was missing because there were so many scenes when other characters were taking the main lead and you had to get through those scenes to get back to Ryder and Mary.  Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed catching up with everyone (as I always do), but like I said something was just missing for me.

I look forward to the next Cynster novel and maybe this time I won’t re-read so many books prior and maybe I will love that book like I have loved so many others.