Dual Review: Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey

Format read: ebook copy provided by the author for review
Release Date: 12 March 2013
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Number of pages: 113 pages
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s WebsiteAmazon, Samhain, B&NRead an excerpt


She needs an escape…and he’s exactly what she had in mind.

College senior Ellen Price spends every spare minute studying to get into medical school. Until spring break yawns before her, as empty as her wallet.

With no money to hit the beach, she fills her empty to-do list with a plan: for just one week, she will become the kind of take-no-prisoners woman she secretly wishes to be, starting with the hot guy at the bar. It’s a no-risk situation: at the end of break, he’ll head back to his campus, and she’ll go back to hers. No muss, no fuss.

At first, Josh Markley isn’t sure what to think when the quiet, intense beauty from his pre-med classes approaches him for a night of casual sex. Even more mystifying, she doesn’t seem to return his recognition. But if she wants to play “strangers in a bar”, he’s game.

Their passionate night is a welcome respite from life’s stress, but afterward, Josh realizes he wants more—from himself, from life, from Ellen. Except she still thinks he’s a one-off she’ll never see again. Confessing the truth now—before she figures it out on her own—could shatter the fragile beginnings of just what the doctor ordered. A forever love.

Warning: Contains mistaken identities, a sometimes-glasses-wearing hottie, deep questions about figuring out what you want from life, and a red-hot college romance.

Our Thoughts:

Stella: Take What You Want was my first story by Jeanette Grey but definitely not the last! Her storytelling sucked me in and I gobbled it up in no time, closing my ereader with a happy and contented sigh. 🙂

Marlene: Take What You Want is a sex-into-love story. This is a trope that may be more difficult to pull off in real life than it is in fiction. YMMV. Or it’s difficult to pull it off in fiction and make the switch seem reasonable. The characters in this story manage to do that.

But what made this story work for me was the way that Ellen decided not to sit around and mope when her friends took their expensive Spring Break to the Bahamas, but instead that she tried to take a “vacation from herself”. Her inner dialog showed how difficult it was for her to step outside her comfort zone, but she still did it. She tried to become a new person for just a little while.

Then her emotions got engaged, and she wanted something real. And for that, she had to be the real Ellen and not new Ellen.

Stella: I concur, Ellen despite having such an ordinary name was anything but boring. I loved how such a serious and relatable young woman created this alter ego to live out her fantasies and experience things she only read/dreamed of. I found that exactly because she was such a girl next door she was a heroine the reader could identify with and feel as if her story could have happened to anyone. It was also moving to see that besides being a serious, dedicated and ambitious pre-med student there was an insecure, vulnerable side to Ellen.

Marlene: Even though Ellen was the one who was supposedly pretending to be someone else, Josh was also pretending quite a bit too, and not just because he was going along with Ellen. The first night, he was perfectly willing to go along with her just to get laid, and why not? She was the one who picked him up, after all.

But he knew who she was all along, and pretended that he didn’t. Why she didn’t recognize him says something about how much she kept her nose to the grindstone, or how big those lecture classes were. Or both.

The real issue for Josh was that he was pretending in most of the rest of his life. His father had big plans for him, plans that Josh knew he wasn’t going to fulfill. Josh had his own dreams, and hadn’t worked up the courage to disappoint his father.

Stella: Well actually, if I remember correctly, Josh was convinced that Ellen knew/recognized him, but pretended not to know him for some roleplay. But yes, both Ellen and Josh were pretending to be someone else and both had some major things on their minds regarding their future. But it was interesting to see how they were exact opposites to each other in the sense that Josh was more confident and sure in his own feelings for Ellen and their relationship, he had to take decisions regarding his studies and future career; while Ellen was sure about her career and completely clueless and vulnerable about her private life and her relationship with Josh.

I loved Josh. *sighs* He was lovely and wonderful. A guy, who despite being described as sexy and handsome, what you remember about him is how tender and warm-hearted and funny he is. I loved how he was the “girl” in the relationship, that is how he was the one who wanted much more than a meaningless fling right from the start.

And wanting more wasn’t just about wanting her body. He wanted the seductress in the high heels and short skirts, all right, the one that oozed sex and confidence. But he wanted the girl in the plain sweaters with the loose waves that fell over her face, too. The one that hid in the last row of the lecture hall but who always knew the answers. The one that dissected a pig all by herself, looking kissable even in a rubber apron and goggles and gloves. He wanted her to want more than a fuck from him. He wanted her to remember him. To know him.

And I absolutely have to comment about the sexual attraction, chemistry between Ellen and Josh: it was off the charts! Their love scenes were incredibly hot, sexy and tender, emotional at the same time. You’ll need a fan with this story! 😉

Marlene: So, in addition to the smoking hot love story, a love story where the guy is trying not to let the girl know he’s in love with her until she’s ready for it to be love, we also have a story of two people on the verge of adulthood who need to figure out who they really are, and not just who they are pretending to be.


Marlene: I loved this one. The story just plain worked for me. Ellen deciding to try being someone else, screwing up her courage, and thinking that no one would know if she completely embarrassed herself. Josh finally being noticed by the girl of his dreams, waking up in the morning and knowing that one night wasn’t enough. Then trying to figure out how to get her to that same realization, because she’s so not there. At the same time, they both have all those end-of-college decisions weighing on both of them.

And their chemistry practically set my iPad on fire from the very first page.

I give Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey 5 fiery stars!

Stella: I completely agree with Marlene, I LOVED Take What You Want and Jeanette Grey became a must read author for me. Not only was Take What You Want a thought-provoking and emotional journey of self- and love discovery for the characters, it was a sensual, sexy and addictive story I couldn’t put down until the very end. At the beginning I was reluctant to read Take What You Want fearing that due to the characters being in college it would be hard to relate to their problems, but take it from me, that concern was for naught. Thanks to Jeanette Grey’s gripping writing I felt invested in Ellen and Josh’s life and relationship and those two are characters as well as their story is one I will long remember.

And oh boy was their story sizzling! *fans herself* 😉

So yes, I also give Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey 5 scorching stars and urge you all to pick it up! 😀

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: Holding Out for a Hero by Christine Bell, Ella Dane, Tamara Morgan, Nico Rosso, Adrien Luc-Sanders

Format read: ebook copy provided by the publisher for review
Release Date: 14 January 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Number of pages: 550 pages
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: GoodreadsAmazon, Barnes and NobleRead an excerpt


Scarlett Fever, by Christine Bell and Ella Dane

After five years in training, it’s finally time for Scarlett Fever and her fellow superheroes to leave the United Superhero Academy and test their powers out in the real world. There’s only one problem. She’s been assigned to partner with arrogant, by the book, and irritatingly hot, Blade of Justice.

Blade’s whole life has gone according to plan, and he’s more than ready to move on to the big time, protecting a metropolis of his own. But his perfectly ordered life is derailed when he’s teamed up with the fiery maverick, Scarlett Fever.

Sparks fly the moment they arrive in Plunketville, Oklahoma, as they each set out to force the other to request a transfer. They soon discover there’s more going on in this single stop-sign town than blowing up mailboxes and cow tipping. If Scarlett can get Blade to listen to his gut, and he can teach her to use her head, they just might have a fighting chance.

Ironheart, by Nico Rosso

Vince might be hard as steel, but he’s not invincible. Not when iron touches him, especially in the hands of an evil minion. Not when Kara ran away after a whirlwind affair, just when he thought he might be falling in love. And definitely not when she returns, looking for his help.

The archvillain TechHead is coming for Kara and her superhero teammates, and he’s determined to use their combined power to create the ultimate weapon. But Kara can’t fight him alone. She needs Vince’s brutal skill, though being with him means she risks losing her beloved secret identity, leaving her nowhere else to hide.

When TechHead makes a play to capture Kara, Vince has more to lose than just his heart. But he will do anything for the woman he loves, even if it means putting his heart on the line again.

Playing With Fire, by Tamara Morgan

Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhu¬man abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant… and she’s hurt enough people already. Including herself.

But when the man behind her conversion returns to black¬mail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.
Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fire¬ball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.

And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.

From the Ashes, by Adrien-Luc Sanders

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded count¬less crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire.

Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford–antisocial graduate research¬er, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges ev¬erything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of hu¬mans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean–or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?

Our Thoughts:

Stella: With Marlene we are both big superhero fans, so when we heard that Entangled Publishing released this new anthology full of thrilling superhero romance novellas we were more than excited to read them and then later duel about the stories. To keep it from being too long we decided to restrain our discussion to only 2 of the 4 novellas: Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane and Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan. So Marlene, en garde! 😉


Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane

Marlene’s Thoughts: Superheroes and sasquatch. I’m not sure whether the question should be what do those those two things have to do with each other, or whether it’s even possible to make a romance out of them, let alone in Plunketville, Oklahoma.

I should have looked to see if there really was a Plunketville, Oklahoma.

The opposites-attract trope can make for a fun romance, and the heat amps up twice as fast in the middle of a scorching Oklahoma summer. Especially when your cover is to live in a trailer park in air-conditioning challenged Plunketville. (I can’t help myself, I just love the name Plunketville, as long as I don’t have to live there)

And one of you is a fireball-throwing rookie-superhero. Partnered with a control-freak rookie-superhero who prides himself on being, not just too cool for school, but too cool for everyone. Especially the out-of-control fireball known as Scarlett Fever.

Blade of Justice is all about being cool and controlled. He dislikes anyone and anything that colors outside the lines or refuses to plan every operation to the last detail. Superheroes like Scarlett.

Too bad that when General Hammer hands out assignments to their graduating class from the United Superhero Academy, he assigns Blade and Scarlett to Plunketville to discover the mysterious anomaly in the hot, dusty, ugly small town.

Their cover says they’re married. Scarlett changes that program immediately. She tells the locals they’re siblings.

It takes less than 24 hours before one of the local waitresses decides that Blade is the hottest thing she’s ever seen.

And before Blade starts to wish that his “sister” had stayed his “wife”.

Then the evil ramps up, Blade and Scarlett start off not sure whether they are still school frenemies, or partners.

But the supervillain in town just wants Scarlett gone. And Blade realizes that coloring outside the lines is more fun, and more powerful, than being in control.

Verdict: Scarlett Fever reminded me of Tiffany Allee’s Heels and Heroes. Everyone knows there are superheroes, there are regular schools for them, it’s an accepted part of the world. This means that everyone also knows that there are supervillains.

It was obvious who the supervillain was. Not what that person’s power was, but who they must be.

What was fun was watching Scarlett and Blade fall for each other. They have a lot of preconceived notions, because they did not get on at school. When they are forced to rely on each other in the field, they discover that a lot of their negative feelings towards each other were a mask for something else.

This was just a fun story. And the characters of Sherwood and Nestor were an absolute hoot.

I give Scarlett Fever 3 and 1/2 radioactive stars.

Stella’s Thoughts: It was by pure chance I read Scarlett Fever, namely that it was the very first story in the anthology and I started with it and I have to say in my opinion Holding Out for a Hero started out with a bang.

Scarlett Fever starts with the graduation exam at the Superhero Academy, where  Scarlett Fever and Blade of Justice fight the graduation battle before being assigned to be each other’s partner for the next year. Their mission is in Plunketville, Oklahoma, and the small town provided a colourful location with several memorable secondary characters.

Scarlett and Blade are complete opposites: Scarlett is fiery, feisty, spontaneous while Blade is cool, level-headed and responsible, he is the ice to Scarlett’s fire, and the sparks crackle between these two. I loved their banter and their loaded silences as well, Blade was a hero the reader could have a serious crush on, while Scarlett was a likeable and very entertaining heroine with her huffing and puffing. The story was truly a superhero romance because Scarlett Fever was just as much about the explosive chemistry between Scarlett and Blade than the superhero mystery, and I absolutely enjoyed both!

She had to admit, it was easy to see Blade’s appeal. He exuded strength and confidence, and he kissed like the world was about to end.

Oh yeah, he definitely does… Can I just say yum? 😉

Verdict: Some people on Goodreads called Scarlett Fever silly, but I don’t expect to take my cartoon superheroes seriously (really, how could you take a hero who is called Blade of Justice seriously? lol 😉 ). But what I expect is lots of action, tongue in cheek humour and tons of fun and Scarlett Fever delivered! If you are a fan of Jennifer Estep’s Bigtime series you’ll love Scarlett Fever as well, and I sincerely hope Christine Bell and Ella Dane will give us more stories in this universe, because it was a lot of fun, and I personally would LOVE to read many more similar superhero stories! 😀

I give Scarlett Fever 4 and 1/2 fiery stars!

Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan

Marlene’s Thoughts: Fireball was framed, over and over and over. Although this story has a happy ending, this is not a happy story.

Fiona Nelson seems to have been a victim of her own life. She willingly took the conversion serum that gave her the power to spontaneously create fire at a touch, but willing is somewhat of a relative term when it comes to Fiona and men persuading her to do the wrong thing..

She catches fire whenever she loses control of her emotions. She can’t allow anyone to touch her, because, well, love makes you lose control of your emotions. Sex just plain makes you lose control, whether you do it for the right, or the wrong, reasons.

And most of the people, especially men, who have touched Fiona have not done so with love. Or even like. Fiona has some serious self-esteem issues.

Or, as way too many people in her hometown referred to her, Fiona was the town bicycle. Every man got to ride her. She let them. Sex made her feel better. Momentarily. Then she felt worse.

The man who gave her the serum was one of her “lovers”. Now he’s her persecutor. General Eagle, out to save the world from the converted. He calls them the corrupted.

Fiona finds herself asking for help from the first man who told everyone she was so easy. Except Ian was just a boy then, and now he’s a researcher trying to prove the converted really exist.

Without revealing that he is one.

Fiona’s reappearance in his life is Ian’s chance to make up for having wronged her, all those years ago. His only excuse then was that he was young, and stupid, and didn’t speak up for himself very well. Because nothing much happened.

Now he can save her. Or condemn her to death.

Verdict: This story made me sad. It wants to be a superhero story, but it ends up being, I want to say a supervillain story, but not even that. Everyone is a victim. Fiona is a victim. Ian is a victim. Eagle is kind of a victim.

I wanted to kick Ian’s friend in the balls. Twice. he was just an arse beyond reason.

The government doesn’t come off too well either. They mostly manipulate. This story ended up as a sad mess.

I give Playing with Fire 1 and 1/2 sputtering stars.

Stella’s Thoughts: I am a fan of Tamara Morgan’s stories, I enjoyed Love is a Battlefield and her latest release Confidence Tricks was phenomenal, so yeah I admit, that her story was the reason I was the most looking forward to reading this anthology, but sadly Playing with Fire as Marlene just said made me sad as well.

Due to a natural disaster (something about an asteroid hitting Earth) a conversion serum was developed, many people excited to see what supernatural abilities it would develop for them took it without knowing anything about any potential side-effects and consequences, one of them being Fiona, who developed the power to generate heat and fire with her bare hands. Eight years have gone by and although she has come a long way handling this unique ability of hers, she still has a thin grasp on control whenever her temper flares. But with Fiona we don’t see any positive changes this superpower brought to her life only the bad: how for the past 8 years she had to relinquish all kind of human contact, relationship and had to resign herself to a life of loneliness and solitude.

The problem was that this story was depressing on all levels: Fiona had awful teenage years, she had a reputation of the “high school slut”, and it was not due to false rumours and gossips because she really did do the whole football team as Fiona tells us. And even after that not only the world but mostly Fiona objectified her body and traded sexual acts for any kind of human contact: attention, compassion, companionship. Fiona’s past not only made me sad for the young vulnerable girl she was and still is, the problem is that I don’t feel her opinion of herself, on the matter of sex and her self-esteem have changed.

Besides a superhero who still hasn’t risen above her sad past, the hero also made me sad. His best friend was a jerk and even at the last rescue didn’t manage to redeem himself to me. And I wouldn’t call the romance romance as it didn’t have much time or space to develop, since both the hero and heroine were stuck in very different places than the hero and now, at times stuck in high school and their guilt ever since, then trying to escape the threat looming.

Verdict: Although Playing with Fire had a mutant human heroine, somewhat her attitude doesn’t make me think of her as a superhero. I felt sorry and sad for her, and just wanted to hug Fiona and tell her it will be alright, but one of my problems is that I’m not sure at all it will be. The universe in the story seemed very dystopian to me, and I seriously can’t think of any friendly or trustworthy person there. Don’t write off Tamara Morgan based on this story, try one of her contemporary romance for something lighter and fluffier.

I give Playing with Fire 2 and 1/2 stars!

To read Lea’s review of From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders CLICK HERE.

To read Marlene’s review of Ironheart by Nico Rosso  CLICK HERE.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry

Format read: ebook received from the publisher through NetGalley
Release Date: 1 November 2012
Number of pages: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s websiteAmazon, KindleBook Depository


Bronte Talbott follows all of the exploits of the British royals. After all, they’re the world’s most preeminent dysfunctional family. And who is she to judge? Bronte’s own search for love isn’t going all that well, especially after her smooth-talking Texan boyfriend abruptly leaves her in the dust.

Bronte keeps a lookout for a rebound to help mend her broken heart, and when she meets Max Heyworth, she’s certain he’s the perfect transition man. But when she discovers he’s a duke, she has to decide if she wants to stay with him for the long haul and deal with the opportunities– and challenges– of becoming a royal.

Our Thoughts: 

Marlene: A Royal Pain was just that, an absolute pain to read. I hate to put it that way, but the pun is just right there waiting to be said. I finished because I said I would. And I was on an airplane and “what the heck”.

Stella: I’m sorry to say but I completely agree. *sighs* Which is even sadder since from the moment I read its blurb I was predisposed and predestined to love it, I mean it is my go-to fantasy the normal, ordinary girl meeting and falling for a handsome guy, who is later revealed is an aristocrat *dreamy sighs* So yes, I was so much looking forward to this book and not only it did not deliver but after 28% I realized I was skipping entire paragraphs because the pages just didn’t hold my interest and found the heroine so frustrating and irritating, that despite several forced attempts to keep on reading, after 60% I gave up, I just hated it, or rather the heroine so much. So all my respect and hats off to Marlene for persevering!

Marlene: This story had all the absolute worst hallmarks of chick-lit, and if I’d known it was chick-lit, I would have steered far, far away. Bronte Talbott is whiny and self-centered. She comes across as TSTL (that’s too stupid to live) on multiple occasions. Max is all too often her doormat, except for the times he gets completely fed up and throws a temper tantrum.

Stella: I wouldn’t have disqualified A Royal Pain based on the fact that it was chick lit, I’ve read some that were so entertaining and funny they remain my go-to comfort reads, but I completely agree as to your comments regarding the heroine. Since the story is told through her POV (even if it’s not 1st person narrative), the reader must feel a connection or at least be interested in the heroine’s story but Bronte was such a whining, bitchy, egotistical, shallow, immature, petulant heroine (and yes I could go on), behaving like a churlish adolescent most of the time feeling sorry for herself, that not only did I not feel any smypathy or connection with her I downright disliked and despised her 🙁 (E.g. when she gets together with the dreamy hero, spend a whirlwind romance but they break up, she calls him after she finds out he’s a duke, so we have no idea if she had called him without that bit of information or if it was part of her motivation to reconnect). Oh and her constantly going on and on about how much she hated her father even though he has been dead for several years now and didn’t do anything exceptionally bad rubbed me the wrong way too. She acted as a whiny teen. She was an ungrateful, spoilt, moody and whiny heroine, who irritated me to no end I would have liked to slap her to make her snap out of her “me me me” egocentric world. Everyhting was only about her, she didn’t care about others they were just there to be her soundingboard, she didn’t give a damn about what was going on with her friends, mom, boss, she just wanted to unload her “problems” on them.

And another one of my problems regarding her character was that she was so crude, look at this scene where they are about to make love and Max confesses his love and proposes:

She wanted him so badly, her body wanted him so badly.
“Say it, Bron.” He was lying along the length of her back now, his voice so close to her ear, it was almost as if it was coming from the inside of her head.
“I’ll say anything, Max.”
“Say you’ll marry me, Bron.”
“Put it in, Max.”
“You have such a way with words, darling.”
“Please, put it in.”

Marlene: Their entire relationship is founded on an incredible lie of omission. Max hides his identity. This is kind of realistic, once you get past the idea that there’s a royal duke running around that no one has heard of, but when he gets mad at Bronte for not being willing to handle his first, but not last, ultimatum, he’s lost all credibility. Not that he had much.

Stella: I found Max a very two dimensional character (not that Bronte had more depth, but she definitely had more “screen time”), he was constantly described as incredibly handsome, warmhearted and the ideal dreamy hero, but not much beside that. He really was all that is considerate, enamored with the heroine (I found it happened way too soon, after weeks of glimpsing her he was already envisioning forever). I would have liked for his character to be better developed.

Marlene: The thing is, Bronte goes into the relationship with Max on the rebound. She tells him this. He’s only going to be in Chicago for 8 more weeks and then he’s going back to England. He never tells her that he’s planning for their relationship to be longer term, because she’s very gun-shy after the way her last relationship ended. (The fact that she was totally stupid about her last relationship notwithstanding).

Max has decided, and he never tells Bronte. In their last two or three days together, Max’ dad has a heart attack, and he has to leave instantly. Of course he does. But while he’s packing, he drops the bombshell that he wants a long-term relationship with Bronte and wants her to go with him to the UK. And if she doesn’t come with him, right now, she’ll never see him again.

Bronte is not a student. She’s a supposedly high-powered advertising exec of some kind. She could drop everything if they already were in a long-term relationship, but for someone who is supposedly just a fling, not if she wants to still have a career when she gets back. And whoever he is, he’s been lying to her. Not to mention, Bronte has some serious commitment issues.

Stella: Hm, I really can’t keep it short if I go into discussing their relationship because I found it completely unbelievable, unrealistic and phony (and not the part of the hero being a duke, but the normal dynamics of their relationship). But regarding that “big” break up point of Max being under shock that his dad was going to die, and he clearly tells Bronte that he is lost and needs her, the person he loves to be with him during this hard time, and that she just says no I found that completely heartless. And interesting how we see this scene completely differently Marlene, because for me when Max asks her to go with him, I understood it as he needed her support during this heartbreaking time and not an immediate answer for the HEA-until-we-die-part. And speaking of Bronte’s job, cue the eyeroll. She is a successful ad exec and she uses her boss and potential top client as her BF/shrink? Tearing up and chatting about her breakup when they are meeting for a business talk?! Talk about unprofessional.

Marlene: It went downhill from there. Both mother-in-laws were shrews of various breeds (of course they were. they always are). They break up once, and nearly fall apart at least one more time. And all of the problems revolve around Bronte’s issues and Max’s high-handedness. That and the expectation that they should read each other’s minds. Spare me.

Stella: Yeah, I couldn’t connect or be interested in their romance either as Bronte and her stupidity just drove me up the wall.


Marlene: I did not like these people. The author didn’t make me care what happened to them, or whether they resolved their problems. Or even whether they ever saw each other again. My iPad is too expensive to bang against the wall, which is the only thing that saved this one from being a wallbanger. Or a bulkhead-banger, since I was on an airplane at the time I read it.

I give A Royal Pain 1 star.

Stella: If it isn’t clear by now, I’ll repeat it once more: I very much disliked A Royal Pain. I hated the heroine and found the way the plot twists and turns were executed immature, the writing didactic and thus irritating, and couldn’t care for the heroine’s romance, because I actually was rooting against her. I know it’s a sacrilege of the romance genre, but I didn’t want her to find her HEA with such a nice guy. He deserved much much better than her. So no, A Royal Pain was truly a torture to get through, and in the end, I couldn’t do it…

I also give A Royal Pain 1 star and I’m still looking for that perfect oridnary-girl-meets-love-of-her-life-aristocrat-contemporary-romance, so if you have read such, please let me know!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: Entangled – a spooky and healthy anthology

Format read: ebook
Release Date: 7 September 2011
Number of pages: 434 pages
Publisher: Authors4theCure
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Only $2.99 at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks, SmashwordsRead an excerpt


Ghosts, vampires, demons, and more! Entangled includes ten suspense-filled paranormal short stories from authors Cynthia Eden, Jennifer Estep, Edie Ramer, Lori Brighton, Michelle Diener, Misty Evans, Nancy Haddock, Liz Kreger, Dale Mayer, and Michelle Miles, plus a Seven Deadly Sins novella by Allison Brennan.

Stacia Kane contributed the foreword. Formatting and cover art were also donated to the project by Lori Devoti and Laura Morrigan.

All proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Stories include:

HALLOWEEN FROST by USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep (author of the Mythos Academy, Elemental Assassin, and Bigtime series) — It’s Halloween at Mythos Academy, but Gwen Frost and her friends are in for more tricks than treats when they run into a mythological monster intent on killing them.

THE FAT CAT by Edie Ramer (author of Cattitude, Galaxy Girls) — In a battle for the souls of seven women, a wizard has the god of war on his side; all the witch has is a fat, black cat.

MEDIUM RARE by Nancy Haddock (author of the Oldest City Vampire trilogy) —What’s spooking the spirits of St. Augustine? As the witching hour of Halloween approaches, ghost seer Colleen Cotton must team with a by-the-book paranormal investigator to locate the one ghost who can save the city’s specters. If she fails, her own great grandfather’s spirit may be lost forever.

SWEET DEMON by Misty Evans (author of the Witches Anonymous series) —When Chicago’s vampire king insists Kali Sweet join his empire, the vengeance demon must rely on her ex – the half-human, half-chaos demon who left her at the altar three hundred years ago – in order to escape the vamp’s clutches.

SIAN’S SOLUTION by Dale Meyer (author of the Psychic Visions series) — When a vampire discovers the human man she loves has been captured and hung in a blood farm, she goes against her own kind and risks everything to save him.

A BIT OF BITE by Cynthia Eden (author of NEVER CRY WOLF and ANGEL OF DARKNESS) — A killer is stalking the streets of Crossroads, Mississippi, and it’s up to Sheriff Ava Dushaine to stop him. But when suspicion falls on werewolf alpha Julian Kasey—Ava’s ex-lover and the man who still haunts her dreams—Ava knows that she’ll either have to prove his innocence…or watch the whole town go up in flames.

SINFULLY SWEET by Michelle Miles (author of the Coffee House series) — When Chloe bakes a little magic into her pastries, she attracts the attention of Edward, the sexy half-demon, half-witch, who’s come to warn her those who murdered her sister are now after her.

A NIGHT OF FOREVER by Lori Brighton (author of A Night of Secrets and To Seduce an Earl) — Who is Aidan Callaghan? Mary Ellen James is intent on uncovering the truth about the mysterious man, but as she soon finds out, some things are best left buried in the past.

FEEL THE MAGIC by Liz Kreger (author of the Part of Tomorrow series) — Jenna Carmichael’s magical attempt to rectify Jessica Manfield’s birth identity takes an unexpected turn when the past comes back to haunt her.

BREAKING OUT by Michelle Diener (author of the Tudor-set historical suspense novel In A Treacherous Court) — Imprisoned in a secret facility, powerful telekinetic Kelli Barrack and two other ‘special’ inmates grab a chance to escape, only to confront their worst nightmares on the outside.

GHOSTLY JUSTICE, an all-new Seven Deadly Sins novella by New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan (author of the Seven Deadly Sins series) — Demon hunters Moira O’Donnell and Rafe Cooper are dragged into the dangerous world of nocturnal predators to find “Ghostly Justice” for a virgin sacrificed to an ancient blood demon.

Our Thoughts:

Stella: When I asked for Halloween read recommendations Marlene was quick to name the Entangled anthology,  and when we started discussing it we thought why not make a special Halloween related dual review of it? Since it has more than 10 stories we thought reviewing the whole anthology would be way too long, so we decided for each of us to pick 2 stories and give you our thoughts on them.

Stella: I think it isn’t a big surprise to those who know me (and have heard my constant praise of Jennifer Estep’s series ;-)) that the story I was most excited about was Halloween Frost by Jennifer Estep, which is considered Book #1.5 in her Mythos Academy series, which I love! Truth be told I have already read this novella last year when the Entangled anthology was released but I enjoyed it so much I didn’t mind in the least having to re-read it for this review. And I’m happy to say that it was just as much fun as it was the first time around!

Halloween Frost takes place after the first book in Jennifer Estep’s YA urban fantasy series, Touch of Frost: Gwen our heroine is already used to life at Mythos Academy and she has made friends with Daphne, a cute and stylish Valkyrie and is crushing big time on Logan a strong and sexy Spartan. Those who haven’t read the first book won’t feel lost because Jennifer Estep includes enough background history references and explanations to give you an idea on who’s who (which could seem a bit repetitive for already established fans of the series).

This short novella tells the story of how Gwen and her friends spent Halloween at Mythos Academy: everyone, teachers and students alike dressed up (except Gwen), the whole town around the school was decorated in full spookiness and the kids went around collecting not just mouthwatering-ly delicious treats but also jewellery and armour!

Can I just say how much I LOVE Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series? It is fun, exciting and exceptionally thrilling! It has everything: nail-biting action and fast paced fight scenes, a sexy heartthrob hero and a quirky and so lovable heroine. Halloween Frost packed even more spookiness and sinister athmosphere than the usual stories in the series due to the festive setting. Thanks to Jennifer Estep’s vivid and colourful descriptions of Mythos Academy I can easily picture the gothic gargoyles and stone sphinxes guarding the gates.

Carved jack-o‘lanterns lined all the cobblestone streets, the lit candles inside them flickering and making their grins seem particularly sinister in the darkening shadows. Thick, silvery webs complete with fat, rubber spiders swooped from one doorway to the next, while ghosts, ghouls, and other classic monsters could be seen in the storefront windows, arms outstretched like they wanted to break through the glass and grab the students strolling by.

Another aspect I love about Jennifer Estep’s books is that she never fails to mention delicious treats that make my mouth water, and being a hobby baker I appreciate that 😀

[…] went from shop to shop, loading up our pumpkins with everything from gourmet pretzels to delicious brownies to candy apples bigger than my fist. I had a serious sweet tooth and quickly filled up my pumpkin, even though we hadn‘t gone through half the stores yet. I popped a piece of dark chocolate fudge topped with vanilla-raspberry syrup into my mouth and sighed as the rich flavors exploded on my tongue. Yum.

Verdict: Halloween Frost is a great addition to the Mythos Academy series and the perfect Halloween read. Let me just say that Gwen and her friends get some first hand spooky action this Halloween 😉 Read Halloween Frost while munching on some yummy candies!

I give Halloween Frost 4.5 spooky stars!


Marlene: The thing about story/novella collections is that there are usually a couple of “meh” stories in the bunch. So when Stella and I decided we would each pick two (and only two) stories to feature, it seemed like a brilliant solution. Not so! This collection doesn’t have a “meh” story in the bunch.

My first pick was always going to be Edie Raymer’s The Fat Cat. This starts out as a kitty adoption tale. A witch goes into her local shelter to adopt a kitten. Bad move, or so it seems. Instead of leaving with an adorable little kitten, she leaves with a virtually unadoptable fat black tomcat, who is past middle-age into the bargain. Samson not only hears her thoughts, he can speak to her mind. Mostly to ask for food. And quote Casablanca.

Samson becomes her best friend. He’s way better company than her ex. But kitty old age is catching up way too fast, and Tory doesn’t want to lose him, so she tries a spell. One that will make Samson young and virile again, instead of old and very farty. (Yes, I meant farty. Also arthritic) She tries her spell the night before Halloween. It doesn’t seem to work and Tory is heartbroken

On Halloween she confronts the evil warlock who has captured the body, and imprisoned the soul, of her younger sister, along with several other women. He is powerful, and very, very smug. Also a handsome bastard. The only protection that Tory has is poor Samson, still in the body of an old cat. Guess what happens?

Verdict: This story has so many fun elements. The transformation of both the cat and the warlock. The redemption of the young women. Saving the old cat and discovering that he’s her best friend. The lovely (well sometimes lovely) idea of knowing what our pets think. All worked into a terrific story of friendship, redemption, witchcraft and Halloween. With a happy ending!

I give The Fat Cat 5 claw-tipped stars!


Stella: The second story I selected was A Bit of Bite by Cynthia Eden. I have followed Cynthia Eden’s blog and saw her new releases and was always curious and intrigued to read them for some time now, so now I thought the time has finally come for me to discover her writing through this novella of hers, and I enjoyed it a lot!

A Bit of Bite is a sexy and thrilling parabormal romance with a seriously possessive and protective alpha werewolf (yum!) and a kickass detective heroine.

A twig snapped a few feet away from her. Ava didn‘t jump and spin toward the sound, but her right hand did rise slowly to curl around the butt of her gun. The problem with all the supernaturals was that they could just move too fast—
“Easy.” His deep, dark voice washed over her and, just like that, werewolf alpha Julian Kasey stood in front of her. The light, woodsy scent that marked his kind clung to him as he towered over her.

Mmm, can you seriously tell me you just didn’t shiver while reading that one word sentence of his?

The chemistry and passion between these two is sizzling and scorching, the perfect story to make you tingle with a bit of thrill!

No one was ever gonna take Ava Dushaine from him. No one. His mouth crashed down onto hers. He should have been easier. Should have used some gentleness, but werewolves didn‘t exactly know much about tenderness. The only things he knew…she‘d taught him. Her lips were parted, and his tongue pushed inside her mouth. He tasted her, and her kiss was better than he remembered. No dream to haunt him, she was real now.

The world-building was interesting and layered, the supernatural sections and societal hierarchy, fractions were different than usual. A Bit of Bite made me suspect there is a series where Cynthia Eden gives more depth to it, and I’ll definitely look for it because I very much enjoyed her in-depth and detailed writing style.

Verdict: A Bit of Bite was a great steamy and exciting read. If it were a bit longer, a bit more detailed it could have been a five star story. As it is, it was a delicious novella and I’ll have to check out Cynthia Eden’s full length stories now that I have gotten a small taste of her writing. A Bit of Bite is a pulsing romance with paranormal setting and a big and delicious alpha hero!

I give A Bit of Bite 4 sexy stars!


Marlene: I also loved Cynthia Eden’s A Bit of Bite, but I let Stella have that one. I was feeling generous. The second story I want to highlight is Lori Brighton’s A Night of Forever. The story takes place in the same world as her novel A Night of Secrets, but I’ll confess that I didn’t know that when I read it and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment one little bit. Of course, now that I do know, A Night of Secretsis going on my TBR list. 

But about A Night of Forever…it starts out as if it were a typical Regency, or close enough, even though it’s set in a later period. Mary Ellen plans to marry someone rich and titled, not because she’s necessarily that mercenary, but because she craves the security that money and status can bring. However, she finds herself fascinated by a man who appears to have neither. Aidan Callaghan seems to be merely her brother-in-law’s houseguest. He is a complete enigma, quiet and withdrawn for the most part, but always watching her. He fascinates her. And she fascinates him.

What Mary Ellen doesn’t know is that her brother-in-law is a vampire. And so is his friend Aidan, who is trying his damndest not to use the powers of fascination and enthrallment that he has at his command. Because he could simply make Mary Ellen come to him, but then it wouldn’t be real. He wants the contented life that his friend Grayson has found, a life, and love with a woman who knows what he is and loves him anyway.

So he watches Mary Ellen from the shadows, and knows that she is as sincerely interested in him as he is in her. But at the Halloween revels on Gray’s estate, Mary Ellen leaves the safety of the house and is captured by thugs. When he comes to her rescue, Aidan is captured as well. In order to escape, he has to reveal what he is to save them. Will his willingness to fight for her provide Mary Ellen with a better kind of security than the money and status she said she wanted?

Verdict: This one had the kind of shivery gothic creepiness that all the best Halloween stories do. At first, you’re not sure where the danger is going to come from, and then you’re not sure if Mary Ellen will choose safety over love. A Night of Forever tells a terrific tale of the slow build, both to knowledge and to love.

I give A Night of Forever 4.5 fanged stars.


Stella: And yes, as you can see despite us vowing to review only 2 stories (I even asked Marlene to prevent me from becoming greedy and giving in to temptation), when I turned the last page of A Bit of Bite there were the first few lines of Michelle Miles’ story and being the baking fan that I am I couldn’t stop myself from reading it. See for yourself and tell me if you could have resisted it:

At four in the morning, Chloe O‘Shea unlocked the door to Sugar Mamma‘s Bakery and flipped on the interior lights. She turned on the ovens, gathered her ingredients and started baking for the day. With a giant yawn that nearly split her head in two, she started her scones, a customer favorite. Then the muffins—blueberry, banana nut, poppy seed, bran. Once she had the morning cravings in the glass case ready to go, she started on the afternoon favorites. Cupcakes, cookies, mini-tarts and other delectable goodies.

So there you go, here is my bonus review 😉

To be honest I haven’t even heard of Michelle Miles before, so this novella was a complete blank canvas for me, I had no expectations at all, and yet she managed to blow me away.

Our heroine Chloe is a witch on the run, she has been hiding in the human world and spending her days as a baker, but she can’t help herself from pouring some of her magic into her creations:

Perhaps it was a mistake putting her small bits of magic into her cupcakes, her cookies, her scones and her muffins. Her customers loved her baked goods and why not? She poured Happiness into every batch. And lust into her red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing.

and so the bad guys she has been hiding from get a flare of where she is. Her savior is Edward a sex on stick mysterious man Chloe can’t help but lust after (and trust me the reader won’t be able to help herself either!). Together they try to combat the evil forces and stay alive.

Verdict: Sinfully Sweet was a deliciously steamy story with great world-building, fantastic writing style, a likable heroine and a hunk of a hero. Now that I’ve discovered Michelle Miles’ writing first hand I’ll go and hunt down her other novels, because I just want more delicious stories!

I give Sinfully Sweet 4.5 delectable stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: West of Want by Laura Kaye

Format read: e-ARC provided by publisher
Release Date: 10 July 2012
Series: Book #2 in the Hearts of the Anemoi series
Number of pages: 222 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, KindleBarnes and Noble, Read an excerpt


Betrayal is all he’s ever known, but in her, he’ll find a love strong enough to be trusted…

When Marcella Raines’ twin brother dies, she honors his request to be buried at sea, never expecting the violent storm that swamps her boat. Though she’s gravely injured–and still emotionally damaged from her recent divorce–Ella fights to survive.

Zephyros Martius is the Supreme God of the West Wind and Spring, but being the strongest Anemoi hasn’t protected him from betrayal and loss. Worse, he’s sure his brother Eurus is behind it. When Zeph’s heartbreak whips up a storm that shipwrecks a human, his guilt forces him to save her.

Ella is drawn to the vulnerability Zeph hides beneath his otherworldly masculinity and ancient blue eyes. And her honesty, empathy, and unique, calming influence leave Zeph wanting…everything. When Eurus threatens Ella, she and Zeph struggle to let go of the past, defend their future, and embrace what they most want–a love that can be trusted.

Our Thoughts:

Marlene: North of Need was one of those utterly marvelous stories that comes along once in a “blue moon”, a story that was absolutely magical. When West of Want came out, I was hoping for another fantastic experience, but unfortunately the lightning wasn’t captured in the bottle the second time around. West of Want is pretty good, but it just isn’t up to the high bar set by North of Need.

Stella: *sighs* Yes, I pretty much agree Marlene. For the past couple of years I haven’t been a big PNR fan as I find it way too clichéd nowadays, but North of Need was such a breath of fresh air, I loved how unique Owen was, his innocent discovery of the world (and ice creams!), I just loved their story! So naturally I started West of Want with high expectations: I wanted the same original and entertaining story with memorable and unique characters I got used to in North of Need, but West of Want fell short on both accounts.

Marlene: One of the issues that I had with the story from the very beginning was “what the hell was wrong with Zeph?” We never do get complete clarity on why he caused the storm that starts off the story. I often found myself floundering in the backstory of this book. All of Zeph’s and Ella’s problems with trusting each other have to do with their past bad relationships, but we don’t get a whole lot of info on what happened. Ella’s backstory is fairly clear, but Zeph, not so much. And his family feud with Eurus, OMG. There’s a whole other novel’s worth of stuff in what’s wrong with Eurus.

Stella: Yes, sadly I felt that the plot of West of Want was all over the place. While I enjoy mythological references (hello, history/mythology junkie here!), I felt that there was too much crammed into West of Want. We got the whole run down on Zeph’s every paramour, family dysfunctions among many other things, one of them namely the main storyline…

While I was fairly engrossed in Zeph and Ella’s story they weren’t the memorable and unique characters that made me wonder and ponder things long after I have turned the page. I had problems understanding (and accepting) their insta-love connection (especially on Zeph’s side, he is a god after all, has been around for millenia and I didn’t get a clear answer to why this woman, what does he see in her?).

Marlene: The ending of the story, and the convenient explanation for Zeph’s and Ella’s insta-love at the beginning, smacked way too much of deus ex machina. Although Stella, my Latin scholar friend will probably correct that to dei, since there are multiple gods involved in cleaning up the mess that Eurus causes, and more gods than just the Anemoi. Was it truly necessary to bring both the Greek and Roman pantheons in on this? Really? Either/or would have been reasonable, since the Anemoi are the Greek wind gods after all. But both? Mars and Ares?

Stella: Lol Marlene, thanks first for including a bit of Latin, it’s really a pity we don’t use this language more 😉 And second of all thanks for mentioning the combination of BOTH mythological worlds. Ares is the Greek counterpart of Mars, they are one and the same god just either perceived by the Greeks (Ares) or the Romans (Mars), so I was stumped why a Roman god (Mars) was introduced in a story which featured Greek gods (the Anemoi). I thought it was a shallow, typo-kind of mistake that an editor should have corrected. I get that they needed the names to rhyme (Mars – Marcella – March), but it still screwed with the rules of the world-building.

Marlene: That was an “off the rails” moment for me. Zeph actually refers to “Mars and his brother Ares” late in the story as sharing a “legendary masculine aggression”, but while Ares directs his towards literal war-making, Mars focuses on peace-making. However you slice and dice this, both pantheons seem to co-exist simultanously. That’s just too many gods at one time. The only author who can successfully put this many gods in one story is Neil Gaiman, and that’s not the kind of story we’re talking about here.

Stella: I’m all for re-interpreting legends and stuff, but messing with the main characteristics of gods this way is just not something I can take in stride. Mars as the peacemaker, oh yeah… *snorts*

Marlene: I’ll see your snort and raise you an eyebrow.

Stella: You’re on 😉 So anyway I found the ending, the resolution of everything way too easy and convenient, too neatly tied off.

Marlene: Exactly! Deus (or dei) ex machina. Except in this case there’s no machina, just lots and lots of dei.

Stella: Lol, perfectly said! 😀


Marlene: The insta-connection and insta-love was highly improbable, but I really liked Ella as a character. She may have accepted Zeph a bit (a lot) too easily, but who wouldn’t accept someone that gorgeous who could heal that much damage?

Eurus came across as much too “Bwahaha” evil, and there wasn’t enough backstory to explain why Zeph was so incredibly down on himself. He was, after all, a god. Even though the author’s writing made the story entertaining enough to carry me along, it was still a disappointment after the astonishment and wonder of North of Need.

I give West of Want 3.5 stars.

Stella: After having North of Need give back my love and hope for PNR I was very excited and looking forward to West of Want, which sadly didn’t live up to the first story 🙁 I found it too clichéd, too generic, the typical paranormal romance. Don’t misunderstand me, West of Want wasn’t bad, but it was just ‘nice’, which after the wonder and great surprise that North of Need was, felt like a let down. Laura Kaye’s writing is still amazingly captivating, but the characters felt flat and cardboard-like. If you are a fan of paranormal romances and/or Laura Kaye you’ll enjoy West of Want, but if you are looking for something a bit different and more original (and fun) than the “six of one, half a dozen of the other” PNR stories, try North of Need instead.

I give West of Want 3.5 stars.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: A Vengeful Affair by Carmen Falcone

Format read: e-ARC provided by publisher
Release Date: 14 July 2012
Number of pages: 230 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Read an excerpt


Rich people get away with murder every day, but Vivian Foster intends to make billionaire Javier Rivera pay for what he did to her best friend—and how better to destroy a money-grubbing bastard than to sabotage the merger that means everything to him.

Javier Rivera would never hurt a woman much less kill one. But when he catches a gorgeous corporate spy in his office, he knows he can’t let her go—not when even a hint of scandal could ruin his career. Until the merger is signed, he’ll keep her close, even if he has to shackle her to his wrist. Literally.

But the closer Javier gets to Vivian, the more he wants her, and the more time she spends with him, the less she believes he could ever be a killer. Now Vivian and Javier have to discover the truth…and Vivian has to win the trust of her worst enemy.

Our Thoughts:

Stella: I’d like to start by saying that it seems that Entangled’s Indulgence imprint is a sure guarantee: whenever I pick one up I expect a delightful heartwarming sensual romance and A Vengeful Affair not only did not disappoint but completely won me over, I loved every minute of it!

Marlene: I’ve seen too many improbable billionaires and tycoons in the Indulgence imprint to tickle my fancy. My ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ only suspends but so far in a contemporary romance and no farther. Speaking of which, the situation in A Vengeful Affair struck me as beyond belief. I’m not sure which I found more unbelievable, that Javier didn’t call the police when he found Vivan snooping, or that Vivian actually left the country with the man she suspecting of being her best friend’s murderer, no matter how hot he was.

Stella: I had no problem believing that Javier would rather take care of the problem of Vivian snooping in his office than calling the cops and handing her to them. I mean he is curious, he wants to know what she’s up to, and as a typical successful businessman I guess he doesn’t relinquish control of any situation, mystery easily. The part I had a bit more problem accepting was how the murder of Vivian’s best friend was resolved. It felt like an afterthought and maybe it would have been better to leave out that part and find another justification for Vivian’s investigation and vendetta. But I got over that as soon as Vivian and Javier got into one of their sparring matches which kept me well entertained. 😀 Both Vivian and Javier were well developed, colourful and interesting characters and they were very well matched to each other’s temperament 😉 I LOVED their nonstop banter and their constant battle of wills was the highlight of the novel for me! 😀

Marlene: Having been crazy enough to go to Paris with Javier, I will say that once she got there, Vivian and Javier were very well matched. They are very strong characters and both equally fixed in their view of the events that led them to their initial confrontation. The fact that they are both totally wrong about each other only leads to more explosive chemistry and a bigger build-up of sexual tension. And you’re absolutely right, Stella, the constant battle of wills, and the oh-so-intelligent banter that the author uses to express it is fantastic!

Stella: I know, I kept devouring their dialogues which at turns made me chuckle or shiver (in delight)! Carmen Falcone packed more than enough heat to make the story sizzle, the chemistry between Vivian and Javier was palpable and all those delicious sexual innuendos gave me frissons of delight:

“I just thought I needed my things—”
“For the next few days, I will take care of whatever you need.”

I just loved Javier’s intensity which made even the most common scene appear sensual and steamy 😉

“She had barely finished speaking when he slammed her against a thick tree trunk and closed the gap between them. Vivian gasped.
“You are what’s wrong with me, Vivian,” he said. There was an unveiled intensity in his dark eyes. “I can’t stop wanting you.” Swiftly, Javier leaned in and kissed her hard, almost as if in punishment. She fought to breathe, raising trembling fingers to his chest. His heartbeat matched hers. He looked down at her, his eyes blazing with desire, his deep gaze a promise and a challenge. He wanted her surrender.”

Raul Julia

Marlene: Javier and Vivian had enough chemistry to scorch every room (and every stick of furniture in it) that they occupied. OMG did they ever! (I kept imagining Raul Julia as Javier, and let’s just say that worked for me). The part of the story that kept me coming back for more was the development of the relationship between Javier and Vivian. They know that they shouldn’t get involved, and they can’t manage to keep their hands off each other. It steams off the pages just how much they can’t.

Stella: Perfectly said Marlene, I loved how both of them had to struggle with their inner voice making them choose between duty and their attraction towards each other. (And though I would rather picture Monsieur Edouard B. the older business partner of Javier as Raul Julia, I also think that the cover sorely misrepresented Javier! I mean he is a Spanish young and very handsome and sexy man, not this blond teenager on the cover :-/ )


Stella: A Vengeful Affair was a captivating story keeping me up until I finished reading it (at 3am!). The characters were vivid, their interaction sparkling and intelligent. There might be times when you’ll ahve to suspend your disbelief but Carmen Falcone will take you on an engrossing and very entertaining journey. I loved A Vengeful Affair, and seeing how Carmen Falcone bowled me over with her debut novel I can’t wait to read more from her. Take notes readers: if you love your contemporary romances sizzling with sexy banter then Carmen Falcone is an author to watch!

I give A Vengeful Affair 4.5 stars!

Marlene: I have very mixed feelings about A Vengeful Affair. On the one hand, I found the initial set-up beyond belief. On that other hand, once the story got started, I lost total track of where I was, sitting in a crowded airport waiting for a plane for 3 hours. The terrific banter between Javier and Vivian, and the deliciously sizzling sexual tension swept me away. I would love to read a full-length novel by Falcone that doesn’t have quite such a contrived start.

I give A Vengeful Affair 3.5 stars.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready

Format read: eARC provided by publisher
Release Date: 18 July 2012
Number of pages: 384 pages
Publisher: Astor and Blue
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astor and Blue


Two years after losing her husband, overworked librarian Panna Kennedy battles to distract herself from crushing Grief, even as she battles to deal with yet another library budget cut. During a routine search within the library’s lower levels, Panna opens an obscure, pad-locked door and finds herself transported to the magnificent, book-filled quarters of a handsome, eighteenth-century Englishman.

She soon recognizes the man as Colonel John Bridgewater, the historic English war hero whose larger-than-life statue loomed over her desk.However, the life of the dashing Bridgewater is not at all what she imagined. He’s under house arrest for betraying England, and now looks upon her a beautiful and unexpected half-dressed visitor as a possible spy.

Despite bad first impressions (on both sides), Bridgewater nonetheless warms to Panna, and pulls her into his escape while both their hearts pull the other headlong into their soul-stirring secrets.Very quickly Panna is thrown into a whirlwind of high-stakes intrigue that sweeps her from Hadrian’s Wall to a forbidding stone castle in Scotland. And somewhere in the outland, Panna must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband, or with the man whose life now depends on her.

Our Thoughts: 

Stella: I am a big fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and have been on the lookout of similar time travel/historical romances, so when I heard of Timeless Desire I was excited to read it. I think the biggest disservice but also what gets people’s attention is that it is marketed as “an Outlander love story”, and the comparison arises, and unfortunately it’s not in Timeless Desire’s favour.

Marlene: I am also a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, so when I saw the subtitle of Timeless Desire, I jumped on it, and for the same reasons you did, Stella. I wondered if it was anything like Gabaldon’s classic. It’s not. The closest one could say is Outlander-lite, in size, scope and depth.

Stella: I agree Marlene. When I saw that Timeless Desire was “an Outlander love story” I was expecting an epic love story just like Claire’s and Jamie’s, but Panna and Jamie’s (yes, the hero is Jamie as well) romance lacked the depth and heart-squeezing intensity Outlander delivered. It was fluff. No problem with that if it is not compared with its namesake predecessor. I found both Panna and Jamie’s character lacking depth and development, they remained sketched, neither really went through any character evolution, and their love was lukewarm. Nice but nothing sizzling or memorable. And speaking of the main characters, Panna is a librarian just like you Marlene, what was your take on her, was she really an authentic one?

Marlene: First, there are two names in romance that probably authors just shouldn’t get near with a barge-pole. Any barge-pole. It’s probably going to take two or three generations before it’s safe to name a romantic hero Roarke, especially if he’s Irish. And never name a Scotsman Jamie, especially not if his wife is a time-traveler. Just don’t go there. Jamie Frasier is going to stand very tall for a very long time.

Stella: Couldn’t agree more. It’s really an author-suicide, or at the least crazy brave…

Marlene: However, Panna sounded and talked like a librarian. I read her inner dialogue about her work, and she sounded like “one of us”. The budget problems and service issues and the balancing act she had to do were very real. And I have library stories to match hers. I’ve even worked in a Carnegie library, and I worked in a town that had an old Carnegie donation story almost as strange as the one she told.

Stella: That part then must have been fun for you 😀 Regarding the plot I found that there was too much happening: the historical plotline combined with their romance and all the secondary characters and their happenings, Jamie’s parentage story, the rebellion, etc. was too much for the 380 pages (no wonder Diana Gabaldon needs 1000 or so for everything she wants to pack in one novel). I found the story fractured as the narrative jumped around, each chapter bringing a change of scenery as we witnessed different characters and their POVs.

Marlene: There was a LOT happening, but I only felt like I was following three characters; Jamie, Panna or Adderly. What was hard to follow was the shift to to the Scots side of the border. That entire storyline wasn’t resolved until the very end.

Stella: Besides Panna, Jamie and Adderly there was Clare and Undine that I can also remember. Would have preferred to stick to just the hero/heroine’s POV. As to the writing, while it flew smoothly, I had a problem with the ton of quotes. Although at first I found it an entertaining quirk, soon I found the many quotes peppered in the story were too much and made me lose interest.

Marlene: Panna’s self-talk did come out as a bunch of quotations, but it didn’t really bother me. There were times when I felt like she was talking to herself as a way of keeping herself sane, or because there wasn’t anyone else who could understand her frame of reference. (Or maybe I talk to myself in my head a lot, too. Mmm, that’s an odd thought. I’ll have to think about that one some more…)

Stella: I didn’t mind her inner monologues or even out loud pep talks, those were just a part of her characterization, what I meant was that her monologues were often full of quotations from poems or famous plays: Pope, Shakespeare, etc. Maybe I noticed that because I tend to note down quotes from books I like and it really popped out to me how many she referenced. And if I already mentioned the quotes I found too much, let me tell you about my other complaints about the plot. I felt that the attempted rape scene felt forced and even improbable, as I wouldn’t imagine guards in a castle attempting to rape the wife of their employer’s grandson.

Marlene: If you mean the scene I’m thinking of, by that time his grandfather was out of power, and the English and Scots didn’t think of each other as the same people. The family ties don’t seem to have been too strong. I think the real problem, as you point out Stella, is that the scene was just plain unnecessary. It doesn’t seem to serve any particular purpose in the story.

Stella: Exactly Marlene. The guards are working for the grandfather, who as their employer gave them an order to bring him his grandson and wife and besides this family tie, there was also the time restraint: the guards only had a couple of minutes to take them upstairs. I just felt that this scene was forced into the story to draw another parallel to the attempted rape scene in Outlander. And I wasn’t too happy with the resolution of most of the plotlines, I especially found the way Jamie’s parentage was neatly tied up way too convenient and rose-y…

Marlene: I had an entirely different issue with this resolution–I’ve read it before. There’s another very long saga of historical fiction about the Scots border country, The Lymond Chronicles, written by Dorothy Dunnett. One of the major plot points concerns the hero’s parentage, and is resolved (after 6 very long books) in extremely similar fashion to Jamie’s. In the Lymond Chronicles, that resolution has a LOT more emotional weight than it did in Timeless Desire, but it takes an enormous amount of reading to get there. But if you love historical fiction, Lymond is definitely worth the investment (sorry, no time-travel). Start with The Game of Kings.

Stella: Thanks Marlene, I’ll take note. There were plenty of similarities/references to the original Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: both heroes are called Jamie, a secondary character is named “Clare” as clear reference to Gabaldon’s heroine who is “Claire”, the forced marriage for political reasons, the attempted rape scene, the strained relationship between Jamie and his family/kinsmen, his forced oath, etc. and though these could have been like a tongue in cheek humour for the Gabaldon fans, I find it rather disappointing that Gwyn Cready didn’t go on a completely untravelled road but instead chose to follow exactly in Outlander’s footsteps. Any others that jumped out at you Marlene? And how did you feel about them?

Marlene: I also saw the similarities to Gabaldon’s Outlander, and whenever they came up, I could generally predict that Cready would take the opposite tack from Gabaldon. There was a sense that she wanted to explore some of “the road not taken”, but not go too far down the path. Undine the witch is good instead of evil like Geillis Duncan. No virgins on the wedding night (hallelujah!). Panna is a widow, and is not leaving a husband behind. Jamie comes forward in time instead of Panna going back. At least Cready did not use the standing stones as her time-travel device (Double hallelujah on this one)

Stella: Hm.. I still found too many similarities to the “original” one.


Stella: I expected an epic love story and instead got fluff. The characters remained flat and two dimensional, and though the story was nice it remained rather lukewarm and forgettable. Timeless Desire though marketed as “an Outlander romance” is a very different kind of story: even though the premise sounds similar, Timeless Desire is a lighter and less layered story. If I hadn’t read Outlander first I might have enjoyed Timeless Desire more, but as it is I found it a light and average romance.

I give Timeless Desire 3 stars.

Marlene: I expected fluff, so I wasn’t surprised when I got it. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is 688 pages, and you need the first three books to complete the initial saga, so Outlander plus Dragonfly in Amber plus Voyager equals 2320 pages, I just checked. Timeless Desire is very, very lite, and very, very fluffy. But I found it a lot of fun for what it was.

And as a librarian, I loved the shout out to libraries as places where you really can travel in time and space. Admittedly, you normally do it through the pages of books using your imagination, and not by walking through a door into a rip in time. But what the heck. I adored the concept. I always wanted the TARDIS to stop in my library. Still do.

I got caught up in Panna’s story. I give Timeless Desire 4 stars.

 ps. Marlene has already reviewed Timeless Desire at her blog but we couldn’t resist the idea of having a duelling chat here, so if you’d like to check out more of Marlene’s thoughts click here.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: Seducing Cinderella

Format read: ebook
Release Date: 20 July 2012
Series: Book #1 in the Fighting for Love series
Number of pages: 177 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Brazen)
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Read an excerpt


Mixed martial arts fighter Reid Andrews’s chance to reclaim his title as light heavyweight champ is shattered when he’s injured only months before the rematch. To make sure he’s healed in time, his trainer sends him to recuperate under a professional’s care—Reid’s best friend’s little sister, all grown up.

Disorganized and bookish Lucie Miller needs some professional help of her own. She’d do anything to catch the eye of a doctor she’s crushed on for years, so when Reid offers seduction lessons in exchange for 24/7 conditioning for the biggest fight of his career, Lucie jumps at the chance.

Soon Reid finds him himself in the fight of his life…winning Lucie’s heart before she gives it to someone else.

Our Thoughts:

Marlene: The “lessons in seduction” trope is one of my secret favorites, I love seeing it done right. It’s hard to do in contemporary stories without making one of the characters very young, but Maxwell really managed to pull it off with adults. This was terrific.

Stella: Oh I agree Marlene, there is just something delicious in how the hero awakens the heroine to her sensual side and makes her discover a whole new world 😉

Marlene: The use of the “Cinderella” motif was playful and fun, but if we’re talking about fairy tales, this is much more of an “Ugly Duckling” story.

Stella: This is really funny Marlene, as I was reading Seducing Cinderella I kept making notes asking myself why the story was titled Cinderella and not Seducing My Fair Lady, as it was more of a Pygmalion, Ugly Duckling story with how Reid made Lucie the invisible sweats and glasses wearing girl transform into a sexy va-va-voom vixen.

Marlene: The reasons why Lucie needed a transformation were reasonable. She’d been hurt and was hiding in her shapeless clothes and shyness.

Stella: Hm.. interesting I didn’t see it that way, I just thought she was more of a tomboy and was more comfortable in her practical clothes. Since she had a really sexy best friend I found it a bit puzzling how come her temptress of BF didn’t give her tips on how to dress in a more advantageous way and highlight her features with some light makeup.

Marlene: Lucie was definitely a tomboy, but her selfish oaf of an ex- seriously did a number on her. Hiding behind her competence after that experience made sense to me. YMMV. What made Reid the right man for her was that he was interested in her before he transformed her, he was interested while he transformed her, and he was interested after. That idiot doctor only saw the wrapping and not the package.

Stella: Oh don’t even get me started on the doctor, he was such a slimebag I get creeped out just thinking about him. It was quite one big turn off regarding Lucie, I couldn’t understand how she could be such a horrible judge of character that she was blind to what a hypocritical and shallow, egotistical jerk her big crush was. Ugh.. Reid on the other hand was great. Maybe a bit too knowledgeable in some feminine ways but definitely warm-hearted generous, tender and caring towards Lucie and still so virile and strong mmm *dreamy eyes*

Marlene: One of the things that makes this story work is that neither the hero nor the heroine are perfect. Another way of looking at it, continuing the fairy tale themes, would be if Lucie is the Ugly Duckling that Reid helps to turn into a beautiful swan, or if Lucie is Cinderella and Reid is her fairy godfather, then Lucie is also ultimately Beauty to Reid’s Beast, the one woman who sees him as more than just a fighter. They redeem each other, but not until after Reid treats Lucie fairly beastly. There is one pretty big misunderstandammit.

Stella: Oh that Beauty and the Beast parallel you drew is spot on Marlene! Although at times I found that Reid’s knowledge about feminine tricks regarding make up and sexy clothes was a bit too much, I definitely loved how Lucie saw the person behind the fighter and how she supported and loved the man behind the title.

Marlene: We don’t see much of the side characters, but what we do see of Lucie’s friends shows that she does have a good support group. I love her friend Vanessa; she watches NCIS!

Stella: I also loved Vanessa, she was fun, and the gay guy friends were also a riot! Hope to see them again in the next books!


Marlene: I read Seducing Cinderella a few weeks ago in order to write the interview questions, but when it came time to write this review, I got totally sucked in and re-read the book. I only intended to skim it, but I got lost in the story again. It’s not just that the writing was good, but I felt for, or maybe that’s fell for, the characters all over again.

I am seduced into giving Seducing Cinderella 4 ½ stars.

Stella: I agree that Seducing Cinderella was an enchanting and captivating story, I remember that I devoured it in no time and enjoyed every minute of it. Reid was a considerate and delicious hero and Lucie was a very relatable heroine with her insecurities, and when these two got together the air sizzled! A wonderful hot read for summer nights and I’m looking forward to reading the next books in the series!

I give Seducing Cinderella 4 stars!


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: The Virgin Huntress by Victoria Vane

Format read: ebook
Series: Book #2 in the Devil DeVere series
Release Date: 29 June 2012
Number of pages: 140 pages
Publisher: Breathless Press
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Breathless Press, Read an excerpt


Desperate times call for devilish measures… when the object of one’s passion has eyes for another… it’s time to take matters in hand!

Lady Vesta Chambers is accustomed to getting what she wants…Coddled and pampered, since her mother’s death, Lady Vesta Chambers is beside herself when her father goes to London to prepare for her come-out and returns with a young bride of his own. With her world turned upside down, Vesta accompanies her godmother, Diana, to town, where she is smitten the moment she lays eyes on a certain captain of the Seventeenth Light Dragoons.

But when the object of her passion has eyes for another…

Captain Hewett DeVere, younger brother and heir to Viscount Ludovic “The Devil” DeVere, has returned from the American war scarred, disillusioned, and looking forward to settling down to a quiet and respectable life. But when the handsome and straight-laced captain turns his eyes toward the widowed Diana, Vesta is prepared to take devilish measures to prove she is no longer a little girl, but a woman with the passion of … a huntress.

Our Thoughts:

Marlene: A Wild Night’s Bride was so much fun because Ned and Phoebe (the hero and heroine) were essentially very likeable. You want them to get their happily ever after. Vesta Chambers, Ned’s daughter from his first marriage, is something else again. Vesta is a manipulating little baggage. It’s too bad that DeVere is fated elsewhere, they almost deserve each other.

Stella: I enjoyed A Wild Night’s Bride, the first novella in Victoria Vane’s The Devil DeVere historical erotica series, I found it a light and entertaining, a steamy and fun romp, so I was excited to read the subsequent instalment, but sadly I just didn’t really enjoy The Virgin Huntress, the 2nd novella in the series. It’s not even that I had lukewarm feelings towards this 2nd story, but rather that I found it frustrating, and I think the main reason for that (or at least 90%) is the heroine’s fault.

Vesta is a young girl of about 18 years old, who is preparing for her coming out. As such I knew I should expect some immaturity, but what frustrated me was to see the petulant, spoiled brat she was behaving like: she was whining, rebelling and throwing hissy fits constantly. Not only was she childish but she was so selfish, the way she did whatever she wanted without any care in the world about how it would change others’ life irrevocably made me so angry. Even the hero realized this when he said:

“How can you possibly think I could ever love such a spoiled, petulant, self-absorbed, and scheming little wretch?”

I couldn’t put it better myself.

Marlene: Having said that DeVere deserves Vesta, he’s not as black as he’s painted. He manipulates, yes. And he enjoys manipulating the people around him. Very much. But the results, while they amuse him, tend to end up being for the person’s own good. At least the man’s own good. Ned got shaken out of his grief. Hew needs to get shaken out of what sounds like PTSD. If DeVere enjoys watching the show, well, he is a consummate puppetmaster.

Stella: Sorry Marlene but I don’t agree with you, in my opinion Vesta would be too great of a punishment on DeVere, and besides he is too much of a father figure for her. But regarding your other statement I agree. Despite his repulsive debonair, roguish ways (Ludovic DeVere is the most debauched rogue I have ever read about, if there is an orgy he is there and upping the ick factor), he has a warm and generous heart and what he has in mind is his friend’s/brother’s happiness. So in a way he is quite selfless 😉

Marlene: I did say that DeVere wasn’t quite as bad as he’s made out to be, now didn’t I? Having Vesta end up as his sister-in-law will be quite enough of a punishment in any case. 😉 But back to the story as written, Ludovic DeVere seems to be out for his own amusement first, what he believes will be his friend’s best interests second, and whatever happens to the female in the equation is much farther down his list of considerations. Vesta brings any consequences on herself, of course. In the first book, Phoebe gets lucky.

Stella: I already noticed in The Wild Night’s Bride the archaic language Victoria Vane used in the dialogues, and although they made the repartee somewhat stilted it didn’t detract from the story. However in The Virgin Huntress there were a lot of Americanisms that bothered me, they were most prominent in Vesta’s hissy fits and lines (“Vesta gushed”).

Marlene: I enjoy the author’s writing style, but this romance just didn’t have the zing that the first one did. This couple didn’t have the right long-term chemistry. Vesta comes to London because she’s not the center of her father’s life anymore now that he’s remarried. Talk about self-centered! She falls in love with the first man she sees, and kidnaps him to make him fall in love with her. And it works? It forces the marriage, but why does it force an actual happy ending? I’m not feeling it.

Stella: I agree, besides Vesta what made The Virgin Huntress a disappointment was the lack of credibility of the romance (which once again failed due to Vesta’s character). Vesta’s infatuation, childish crush for Hew cannot be called love and whenever she passionately (=whiningly) declared that Hew was the one, he was the love of her life and how much she loved him, it just made me roll my eyes.

“No, this time Vesta would not run away like a child. This time she would hold her ground and fight for the man she loved.”

That’s what she thinks after spying him for the very first time from afar and a 3 sentence meeting. She’s behaving childishly fancying herself in love, which wouldn’t be a problem if she didn’t take it upon herself to force others’ hand and alter their lives irrevocably. That I couldn’t forgive her.


Marlene: The romantic leads in this romance unfortunately do not carry the book. Vesta remains a whining little brat who does not grow up. Her behavior is unfortunately rewarded, so she is not redeemed. Hew, the ostensible hero, is more of a cardboard cutout than an actual man, let alone a hero. The scenes that sparkle are the ones between Vesta and DeVere (her godfather, too delicious) and between DeVere and Diana. Their history is revealed in the next novella, and I really want to know, because it clearly screwed them both up something fierce.

I give this 2.5 rather disappointed stars.

Stella: Sadly I found the heroine of The Virgin Huntress (her actions and motivations) despicable and as there was no character development for Vesta, she couldn’t redeem herself. Though the hero had some promise, he remained quite 2D and undeveloped as a secondary character, DeVere and Diana (Vesta’s chaperone of pseudo-step mom) got more screen time than poor hero, and their scenes were the most vivid and pulsing in the book. I preferred the 1st story in the series, but as the next one will be about DeVere and the woman who will tame him, I’m looking forward to reading the 3rd novella in the series.

I give The Virgin Huntress 2.5 stars as well.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.