Review: Hot Point by M.L. Buchman + Giveaway

hot point by ml buchmanFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: romantic suspense
Series: Firehawks #10
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: August 4, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository


The elite firefighters of Mount Hood Aviation fly into places even the CIA can’t penetrate.


Master mechanic Denise Conroy—with a reputation for being as steel-clad as the aircraft she keeps aloft—shuns useless flyboys who don’t know one end of a wrench from the other.

Firehawk pilot Vern Taylor—known for unstoppable charm and a complete lack of mechanical skills—proves his talent for out-of-the-box thinking with every flight. He’s a survivor and a natural-born heli-aviation firefighter.

When Denise and Vern crash together in the Central American jungle with wildfire on one side and a full-fledged military coup on the other, their newly forged partnership is tested to the max. They have each other, but not even their formidable skills combined can protect Denise and Vern from the conflagration sweeping the jungle… and their hearts.

My Review:

I have read and enjoyed many, many previous entries in both of M.L. Buchman’s connected military/romantic suspense series, The Night Stalkers and Firehawks.

pure heat by ml buchmanIf you prefer your romantic suspense with a higher military quotient, start The Night Stalkers with The Night is Mine, reviewed here. If you prefer your romantic suspense with more domestic danger, for very loose definitions of domestic, start with Pure Heat, reviewed here. Either way, the romance is hot, the suspense is very, very dangerous, the heroes are alpha but not alpha-holes, and the women are every bit as alpha, and every bit as professional, as the men.

The series are loosely interconnected, so it is very possible to read one without the other. However, this is one of those “Why would you?” questions.

Hot Point is a Firehawks story, and as such it does follow the pattern set by previous stories in the series. Not that this is a bad thing, the pattern definitely works.

One of the parties in the romance tends to be a bit of a misfit, but highly competent at their extremely technical job. The other one is equally competent, or they wouldn’t be part of Mount Hood Aviation in the first place. But that second person is usually slightly more socially ept. However, neither of the people who become involved in the romance expect to fall for anyone anytime soon, if at all.

That’s what happens in Hot Point. Vern, the helicopter pilot, is very competent. He has experience both with the Coast Guard and now fighting fires with MHA for 4 years. He may be one of the best helicopter pilots in the world outside of the military, and would possibly still rank highly within it. He is also a first-class charmer of the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” school. He’s not interested in long term until ace mechanic Denise Conroy gets under his skin.

Denise is one of the best helicopter mechanics that MHA has ever seen. Unfortunately, Denise is a bit standoffish and seems to be a stainless steel bitch. Of course, she is anything but. Instead, she’s the daughter of a widower who never recovered after the death of his wife – a woman that her surviving daughter resembles all too much. Denise is afraid to get close to anyone out of fear that she will lose them.

She’s way more competent with helicopter engines than she believes she is with other people. When she and Vern collide after his helicopter develops a fault mid-flight, they find themselves drawn to each other and into an intense relationship that neither expected.

They also bond over their mutual suspicion that there is more to MHA than merely fighting forest fires – not that that occupation isn’t dangerous enough. When former SOAR pilots own a crackerjack firefighting outfit, there are times when the U.S. military requests plausibly deniable backup in places that are hot spots in more ways than one.

Vern and Denise find themselves in the midst of MHA’s “second contract” either leading a coup d’etat in Honduras or trying to prevent it. As the bullets fly, they both start thinking that a regular civilian job might be a whole lot safer – if they live long enough to enjoy it.

Escape Rating B+: This series is always fun. I will confess that I’m finding the author’s new numbering scheme a bit awkward. About half the books it takes to reach #10 in this series are actually novellas. Oh well, that will make it just that much easier for me to catch up on the few that I’ve missed.

One of the things I really, really love about both of Buchman’s romantic suspense series, is the way that he draws the female characters. Every single one of them is an ace at what she does. Also all of them have the scars that any hyper-competent woman ends up with. One either ends up compromising one’s integrity in order to seem less capable, or discovers that one’s dating pool is extremely limited, because there are too many men who find them hard to take, even though that same hyper-competence is a trait they would either admire or envy in another man.

Some of Denise’s scars are of this type. She loves helicopter mechanics, and she is awesome at it. She’s also not very social, because she’s spent a lot of her life lost in either a book or a helicopter engine, and sometimes both at the same time. She isn’t traditionally feminine, and it is really clear that her last boyfriend was emotionally abusive about it.

The number of times and different ways that Jasper demeaned her and made her feel less than (even in memory) were so heartbreaking that I half expected him to come back and try to mess with Denise’s head all over again, but I’m glad that he didn’t appear. That would have been a traditional, and cliched way of created the crisis near the end of the story.

However, the jerk was mentioned so often he became kind of a Chekhov’s gun, he just never went off. So to speak.

Instead, what we have is a lovely romance between two people who constantly throw themselves in harm’s way, and who never expected to find someone else to be their equal. Denise becomes more comfortable in herself by being loved, and Vern finds himself more grounded. They fit each other perfectly.

The military mess at the end was an absolute hoot. They aren’t sure whether they are being kidnapped or enlisted, and don’t figure out until the end whether they are preserving the Honduran government or have been coerced into helping bring it down. The addition of Michael Gibson (hero of Bring on the Dusk, reviewed here), in disguise and in trouble, injects just the right amount of danger as well as linking back to The Night Stalkers.

A new entry in either of Buchman’s series is always a treat. I can’t wait for the next adventure.



Sourcebooks Casablanca is giving away 5 Copies of Pure Heat, Book 1 in the Firehawks Series by M.L. Buchman
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***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Review: A Sword For His Lady by Mary Wine + Giveaway

sword for his lady by mary wineFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: historical romance
Series: Courtly Love #1
Length: 348 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: July 7, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

He’d defend her keep…

After proving himself on the field of battle, Ramon de Segrave is appointed to the Council of Barons by Richard the Lionheart. But instead of taking his most formidable warrior on his latest Crusade, the king assigns Ramon an even more dangerous task—woo and win the Lady of Thistle Keep.

If only she’d yield her heart…

Isabel of Camoys is a capable widow with no intention of surrendering her valuable estate. She’s fought long and hard for her independence, and if the price is loneliness, then so be it. She will not yield… even if she does find the powerful knight’s heated embrace impossible to ignore.

But when her land is threatened, Isabel reluctantly agrees to allow Ramon and his army to defend the keep—knowing that the price may very well be her heart.

My Review:

This is a book that gave me very, very, downright extremely, mixed feelings.

A Sword for His Lady is a medieval romance, taking place during the Crusades, although the story is set in England.

One of the good things about this story is that it feels pretty realistic about the position of women in society at that point in time.

Isabel of Camoys is expected to keep her estate running successfully after the death of her much despised husband. It is up to her to make sure that her lands produce enough to provide her share of taxes to the King (the absent Richard the Lionheart) and keep her tenants and dependents fed and housed.

And she’s supposed to immediately become subservient the moment that a man offers to marry her, because female independence was considered unwomanly. She’s not supposed to appear capable, even when she is.

She’s not supposed to want to keep her independence, whether her new husband is kind and considerate (and good in bed) or whether he is every bit as nasty a bastard (not literally, of course) as her late, unlamented lord.

Newly appointed Baron Ramon de Segrave is ordered to marry Isabel and fortify her lands. Thistle Keep is on the much contended Welsh border, and Richard needs a man there he can trust

Ramon’s wishes are not considered either, but he gains Isabel’s lands and title, and she becomes property. While it is not surprising that she wants to keep her independence, repeated kidnappings and guerrilla warfare fomented by her vile ex-brother-in-law make it clear to Isabel and everyone around her that it is not realistic in that time and place for her to remain independent.

She has to marry Ramon whether she likes it or not. Fortunately for her, Ramon is a much kinder and more intelligent man than her first husband. Also much more entertaining between the sheets. At least Ramon has grasped the concept that the marriage bed is a lot warmer if both parties are pleased during the proceedings.

In spite of a very rough start to their relationship, Ramon and Isabel do find a way to make a partnership of their marriage, and to finally admit that they love each other. Although neither of them planned on ever getting married, they eventually realize that their king has done them an excellent turn by forcing them together, even if he had no idea of the eventual outcome.

Escape Rating B: I did enjoy this by the end, but I highly recommend that you not read this book right after reading something with a significant feminist bent. While Isabel’s situation seems realistic for her time, it can be difficult to read the way that she is pretty much forced to give up her independence and expected to like it.

Reading this book definitely made me think. There is a trend in historical romance to make the heroine anachronistically independent in some way. While it makes her easier to identify with for 21st century readers, it isn’t right. On that other hand, it doesn’t lead to as much teeth-gritting.

This is a completely different thing from the argument about women’s independence, or women as soldiers, or any variation thereof, in medieval-type fantasy. Just because an author has used a medieval-type setting for their fantasy does not mean that they have to adopt all of that society’s terrible attitudes about women. After all, it is a fantasy-setting, the author can change the parameters to suit themselves as long as it remains internally consistent.

Dismounting soapbox now.

Isabel is living in a society where every person on every side is either telling her to “lie back and enjoy it” or reminding her that she is only chattel, and that she needs to find a man to command her armies and defend her lands, because she doesn’t have that capacity and her society doesn’t allow for her to. It’s often infuriating but it feels true.

I do wish, however, that Ramon’s magic cock hadn’t done quite so much of the convincing. He is far and away her best option, and it is logical that they join forces. Not just because he’s a nice (and handsome) man and will protect her, but also because he believes in his knightly vows and will protect and nurture her lands and her people.

As the Lady of Thistle Keep, she has to do what is best for her people, and Ramon is it, whatever Isabel’s personal opinion might have been.

Ramon’s opposition is evil slime, and he is made out to be evil slime at every turn. That he is also her ex-brother-in-law and plans to marry Isabel by rape and murder Ramon if necessary (and murder Isabel later once the land is secure) is just slimy icing on an already disgusting cake. He had no redeeming virtues whatsoever – he was a coward into the very bad bargain.

That Isabel hesitated to marry Ramon even a nanosecond after Sir Evil appeared was not intelligent or well-done on her part. If she was smart enough to keep her estate going so successfully alone, she should also have been smart enough to realize that the jig was up, whether she liked it or not.

In the end, love does conquer all, even the lady who never believed that she could fall under its spell.


Mary and Sourcebooks are giving away 5 copies of A Sword for His Lady to lucky winners.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Guest Post by Isabel Cooper on her Favorite Author + Giveaway

night of the highland dragon by isabel cooperToday I’d like to welcome Isabel Cooper to Reading Reality. Isabel is the author of today’s marvelous featured review book, Night of the Highland Dragon, and also the author or the award winning genre-bending No Proper Lady.

Her post today is about one of her favorite authors, and also one of mine. Robin McKinley was writing memorable female heroine/warriors in fantasy before it was cool. Her Damar books, The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, are utterly awesome.

Guest Post: Who’s your favorite non-romance author? Why?

Picking a favorite is hard: not an uncommon sentiment, I’d imagine, and one I’m glad of, since “there are a lot of good authors out there” is a pretty great problem to have. After some thought, though, I’m going to say that my favorite author currently writing is Robin McKinley.

robin mckinleyFirst of all, I like her writing style. The sentences themselves are poetic and memorable while still being concrete and unpretentious. The books themselves mostly give me a good idea what’s happening at any point in the story, while still moving along at a good clip: they don’t get bogged down in the sort of detail I like to call Hey Look I Read a Book About This (yes, yes, you know what a buttress is and how a Glock operates, your mother and I are very proud) but there’s still good, vivid imagery in there. McKinley’s books are easy to read, but they also stick with you. She’s even good at that when she’s worldbuilding or explaining elements that a reader might not know, like beekeeping or baking, and that’s rare in my experience—see above.

blue sword by robin mckinleySecond, she covers a lot of genre. I mean, it’s pretty much all fantasy, which is fine by me—I read very little that doesn’t have what my college friends referred to as “mystic noonah”—but within that there’s epic fantasy with the Damar books, urban/modern fantasy with Sunshine, Dragonhaven, and Shadows, a whole bunch of retold fairy tales, and whatever Chalice is, other than maybe “domestic fantasy” (it’s an original world and story, significant things are being done, but the focus is very much on a specific locale and specific people rather than Saving the World) and also awesome. I like all of the above, and it’s nice to have an author who covers them.

Third, her characters are great, particularly her heroines. Some of them, particularly the earlier ones, physically kick ass, of which I deeply approve, but even the ones who don’t go in for magic or swordfighting are competent. They do things, they do them well, and when shit goes ill, they pull up their socks and spit on their hands and deal, to sort of paraphrase P.G. Wodehouse. That’s kind of a requirement for me—a friend of mine, referring to roleplaying games, says that there are plenty of people who don’t deal with themselves, but we don’t want to read stories about them, and I agree.

hero and the crown by robin mckinleyAlso, all of her heroines have a certain amount of sexual agency and desire, whether that’s stated outright or just implied; none of them are shrinking back and pulling up their necklines, with which I have no patience. And she’s written at least two books where the heroine is in love with, or at least interested in, two guys at once, without portraying that as either immoral or tragic or a Vast Conflicted Love Triangle. This is a seriously refreshing change from most literature, especially most fantasy with female protagonists, and gets just mountains of extra points.



isabel cooperAbout the Author:
During the day, Isabel Cooper maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager in legal publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys video games, ballroom dancing, various geeky hobbies, and figuring out what wine goes best with leftover egg rolls. Cooper lives with two thriving houseplants in Boston, Massachusetts.


Isabel and Sourcebooks are giving away 5 copies of Night of the Highland Dragon to lucky winners!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper

night of the highland dragon by isabel cooperFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available:
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Highland Dragons #3
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: June 2, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

William Arundell is a detective working for a secret branch of the English government. When a young man is found dead, William’s investigation leads him to a remote Highland village and the intoxicatingly beautiful lady who rules MacAlasdair Castle.

The charismatic Judith MacAlasdair is not what William expected. The only daughter in a long line of shape-changing dragons, Judith is wary of William and his unrelenting questions. However, when William’s investigation takes an interesting turn, they must put aside years of bad blood and a mutual distrust of outsiders to band together to save the British Islands from its deadliest foe…

My Review:

This series just gets better and better. And we finally get a little more dragon.

legend of the highland dragon by isabel cooperIn this third book in the Highland Dragons series, after Legend of the Highland Dragon (reviewed here) and The Highland Dragon’s Lady (here) we also finally get to see the clan seat of the dragons in the Scottish Highlands, in the remote village of Loch Arach.

We also get an unusual heroine and hero. Not just because Lady Judith MacAlasdair is a dragon in her mid-180s, but also because the hero, William Arundell, admits to being 45. While there is a bit (more than a bit) of an age gap, it is great to see a romance where both the hero and heroine are mature adults and not only act like grownups but need their experience to solve the mystery.

And the hero and heroine take turns saving each other, both by fighting and by magical means. This is a partnership of true equals, and it is done well.

It helps that the chemistry between Judith and William is smoking hot, and not just because Judith is actually capable of belching smoke (and fire) in her dragon-form. These are lovers who both know what they are doing and are quite pleased that the other knows as well. Once they finally trust each other enough to get down to cases. And beds. And, for that matter, up against trees.

The story is that there is something wrong in the state of the Highlands, and Arundell’s colleagues at Special Branch D have traced it to Loch Arach. This branch of Her Majesty’s government investigates demon activity, or anything else supernatural that threatens the realm and its people. They have evidence, ghostly evidence, that someone in Loch Arach is summoning demons, and that never ends well. Or without a string of corpses.

Arundell’s colleagues also wonder about the mysterious MacAlasdair family. There is clearly something odd about them, and concern that it might relate to something sinister. Of course Judith is currently in charge of making sure that the dragonish side of the MacAlasdairs’ nature does not become common knowledge, or even rumored knowledge outside of Loch Arach.

But the MacAlasdairs have no truck with demons, so Judith and Arundell find themselves unlikely allies, and even more unlikely lovers, once they mutually agree that whoever is summoning demons, it isn’t either one of them.

Now they are both marked for death, along with anyone in the village who gets in evil’s way. William and Judith don’t put the pieces together until it’s too late.

Or is it?

Escape Rating A: One of the fascinating things about this book in the series is that we get a much broader glimpse of paranormal and magical activity in this story than the hints that we have had previously.

highland dragons lady by isabel cooperColin, in The Highland Dragon’s Lady, definitely dabbles in magic, but the existence and organization of William Arundell’s Special Branch D shows that there is a lot more magical activity going on than anyone seems to realize. Also that his group is well-organized because their opposite numbers are also, and they are fighting fire with fire, and sometimes other spells.

One ends up wondering exactly which branch of the government Arundell’s Special Branch D is a special branch of. It’s clear that it is not Scotland Yard, but in our world, MI-5 wasn’t established until 1909 (as the Secret Service Bureau). But this is not quite our world, so maybe.

Whoever they are, in this story it is clear that they are one of Britain’s players, or perhaps puppetmasters, in the Great Game of Empire that led to World War I, which is also on the horizon in this mid-1890s story. As it was in real history.

Perhaps we’ll see.

One of the things I loved about this story is the maturity of the hero and heroine. Arundell reflects on his own maturity and mortality, in that his knees may not last much longer as a field agent, but that his experience still sees him through.

While Judith may look under 30, she never hides the experience that her years have given her. She is in control and in charge of Loch Arach every minute. Arundell generally defers to her, once he has discovered her true nature. (Before that he doesn’t trust her enough, not that he doesn’t recognize her command).

These people are just plain good together, and are a match for each other. Nor does Judith change to a simpering miss when she falls in love. She’s still Lady MacAlasdair, it is still her land and her people, and she is still very much in charge, even when she is desperately worrying about the fate of her lover.

Speaking of which, the story does a good job of dealing with the problem of what the ultimate result will inevitably be when a near-immortal falls in love with a mortal. It’s a solution that is just barely possible. Blood transfusion did not become widespread until World War I. But in the late 1800s it did exist. It was regarded as not merely risky but downright dubious, but it did exist. The circumstances set up in the story are just plausible, and add to the drama at the end.

I also liked that the dramatic crisis in this story was NOT precipitated by any willful misunderstanding between the protagonists. They are working together, very successfully, but are overcome by events that they did not quite figure out in time. For this reader, it heightened the tension deliciously.

Although this is the third book in the series, because the setting and characters are so different from the previous books, this would definitely be a place where one could enter the story without having read the previous books. That being said, the first two books are also a whole lot of fun.

I hope that the author will return to this series. I’m going to miss these Highland Dragons.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Guest Post by Victoria Vane on Art imitating Life + Giveaway

sharp shootin cowboy by victoria vaneI am always happy to welcome Victoria Vane back to Reading Reality! If I’m counting right, this is her fourth guest post for me. I think she’s got the record! While I adored her historical Devil DeVere series, I am also glad that she has branched out to contemporaries, as with today’s featured review book Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy. This time, Victoria is here with a giveaway of the series, and her thoughts about her life has influenced the art of her writing.

How have your experiences (where you live, your family, romantic life, hobbies, etc.) influenced the things you like to write about?

Those familiar with my work already know that my historical books almost always have strong elements of reality. I usually incorporate my fictional characters into real events and/or use real people as secondary characters. In my contemporary stories, I get my inspiration from real life situations and virtually anything else that interests me.

slow hand by victoria vaneSLOW HAND, the first book in my Hot Cowboy Nights series was very much inspired by my own experience when my father died- which included a meltdown very similar to Nikki’s in the middle of an airport. I was so distraught that they actually brought the plane back to the gate! Elements of her background also came from my own life.

My inspiration for ROUGH RIDER came from getting to know a number of real people in the rodeo world which is far more grit than glamour. Dirk became an amputee after I read numerous accounts of similarly wounded vets struggling to put their lives back together. They all deserve to be romance heroes.

The idea for SHARP SHOOTIN’ COWBOY came to life during a research trip to Montana where I met several ranchers who expressed concerns about the booming wolf population and the threat to their livestock. Intrigued by this, I began researching the re-introduction of wolves into the Rocky Mountain States. Upon discovering what a political powder keg this issue had become, I knew I had to write a story about wolves.

rough rider by victoria vaneIn ROUGH RIDER I had already introduced a secondary character named Reid Everett who was a Marine from Wyoming. He seemed to be the perfect candidate to become my hero. Reid is an interesting combination of cowboy and warrior, and a protector to the core. The heroine was much harder for me to get a handle on, until I decided that Reid was based at Camp Pendleton. Suddenly, the answer was clear—she was a California girl named Haley Cooper, which also meant that she was going to be his opposite in every conceivable way.

The fourth book in the series, A COWBOY’S WHISPER, was inspired by my own experiences with wild mustangs and the people who adopt them. I was fortunate to meet one of the few private individuals in the United States who trains them for adoption and got to talk on several occasions with the people who gather them from the wild. The hero of this story was modeled after a real life horse whisperer and the heroine was inspired by a wild horse documentarian.

I have always believed that incorporating real elements gives my stories a more genuine feel.

As for the romance part, after thirty two years of marriage, I am a true believer in both fidelity and lasting love. At the same time, I know that it takes a lot of work! And while I’m no prude about sex, (after thirty two years, we still burn up the sheets), I want it to occur in the context of a loving, caring, relationship. These are the kinds of stories I believe in and the ones I most want to write about. My greatest hope is that my stories will make readers laugh and cry and fall in love right along with my characters.

VV Head shot7About the Author:
Victoria Vane is a multiple award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.
Connect with Victoria Vane: Website | Facebook | @AuthorVictoriaV | Pinterest | Goodreads



Victoria is giving away a Hot Cowboy Nights Book Bundle (3 books) to one lucky winner. See the rafflecopter below for deets on how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy by Victoria Vane

sharp shootin cowboy by victoria vaneFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Hot Cowboy Nights #3
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: June 2, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

A Weary warrior… After eight years as a Marine sniper, war-scarred Reid Everett is back in his native Wyoming. He knows and loves this rugged land, so working for wildlife services to reduce the booming wolf population suits him to a T.

A Caring crusader… Wildlife biologist Haley Cooper is desperate to make a difference. Leaving the world of academia behind, she accepts a position as a wolf advocate to protect the animals she loves.

Raw attraction… Their jobs set them on a collision course, but chemistry sparks like wildfire between Reid and Haley. They’ll have to brave some rough territory if they hope to reconcile their polarizing views with a passion that won’t be denied.

My Review:

rough rider by victoria vaneJust like the second book in the Hot Cowboy Nights series (Rough Rider, reviewed here), Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy takes place over several years, as the relationship between Reid and Haley goes through several stops and starts, and is also interrupted by Reid’s tours of duty in Afghanistan.

In this opposites-attract romance, wildlife biologist and conservationist Haley Cooper meets Marine Corporal Reid Everett in a bar near Camp Pendleton just a few days before he is due to ship out. Again.

They meet over a pool table, where Haley both captivates Reid and hustles him. She’s a much, much better pool player than Reid possibly imagines. But the push-and-pull of the game’s fortunes is just a metaphor for the push-pull of chemistry between the two of them.

The timing isn’t right. Not just because Reid is shipping out again before the end of the week, but because Haley just isn’t ready. She’ll still in college, and Reid, while not much older in years, has grown up hard and fast at war.

And they seem to have nothing in common but chemistry. Reid isn’t just a soldier, his family makes its living ranching and hunting back in Wyoming. Haley is almost a caricature of the tree-hugging conservationist – she hates hunting, she’s not thrilled by ranching, she’s a vegan AND she hates Marines. Her sperm-donor father, no name ever given, was a Marine who left her mother pregnant and alone.

Reid and Haley argue about absolutely everything – but they can’t forget each other. Not through another tour for Reid, and college and graduate school for Haley. When they meet again, they finally give in to that explosive chemistry – until Reid’s sister and his ex put themselves in the middle of the fledgling relationship. Haley runs again, and Reid goes back to war.

It’s not until years later, when Haley has grown up a lot more, and figured out what she really believes and isn’t just spouting off cliches and platitudes, that she and Reid get one last chance to figure things out. Dr. Haley Cooper becomes the wildlife conservation agent in Wyoming, near Reid’s ranch. And Reid is back for good, or for whatever might come next.

But they are on opposite sides again, as Reid’s family and friends are trying to beat back what they feel is encroachment on their livelihoods by the wolves who have been reintroduced into the area. Haley, of course, is on the side of the wolves.

She doesn’t know that the biggest wolf of all walks on two legs, and has been manipulating her for the last ten years. It takes a crisis of faith and the long arm of coincidence to get her to see that she and Reid have had the important things in common all along.

slow hand by victoria vaneEscape Rating B-: Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy is a story that left me with a lot of mixed feelings.

I was expecting this story to tie more closely into the previous books, Slow Hand (reviewed here) and Rough Rider. There is a mention of Dirk’s ranch near the end, but this is a completely separate story and characters – it is not necessary to have read the first two books to enjoy this one.

I liked the second half of the book much better than the first, because when the story reaches Wyoming, Haley and Reid are finally both well into adulthood and are able to operate more as equals. Also Haley is thinking for herself at this point, and is no longer a cardboard cut-out wolf-loving tree-hugger.

Not that she doesn’t still love the wolves she protects, and not that she isn’t still an environmentalist, but her approach is much more nuanced and less party-line spouting now that she more fully owns her own adulthood and opinions.

In the early parts of the story she seemed very naive, and too inexperienced to make a real relationship with anyone, but especially with Reid. Also, with his greater life experience, I kept getting the sense that he thought he knew best and was sure that he just needed to convince Haley to go his way. Even when he’s right, it feels wrong for the start of a relationship that he discounts so many of her thoughts and feelings.

When they meet again in Wyoming, the playing field is much more level. As equals, they are able to find ways to compromise. When the big crisis comes, and it’s a doozy, it exposes both the places in their relationship that they still need to work on, and how much they both care for each other and the land they will make their home.

The way that the author frames the debate about reintroducing wolves into their habitat and the needs of farmers and ranchers to preserve their way of life, gives readers an excellent opportunity to see both sides of the story.

I’m going to be very interested to read the fourth book in this series, A Cowboy’s Whisper, to see where the author takes us next.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Review: Bite at First Sight by Brooklyn Ann + Giveaway

bite at first sight by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: paranormal historical romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #3
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: April 7, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

When Rafael Villar, Lord Vampire of London, stumbles upon a woman in the cemetery, he believes he’s found a vampire hunter—not the beautiful, intelligent stranger she proves to be.

Cassandra Burton is enthralled by the scarred, disfigured vampire who took her prisoner. The aspiring physician was robbing graves to pursue her studies—and he might turn out to be her greatest subject yet. So they form a bargain: one kiss for every experiment. As their passion grows and Rafe begins to heal, only one question remains: can Cassandra see the man beyond the monster?

My Review:

220px-Love_at_first_biteAs I finished up Bite at First Sight with a smile on my face, I found myself making a mental connection between the phrase, “love at first sight”, the title of the very tongue-in-cheek vampire romance movie, Love at First Bite, and finishing with the title of this third book in Brooklyn Ann’s Scandals with Bite series, Bite at First Sight.

The phrases and titles blend together in a kind of word game where you change or remove one word and get from A to B to C. And it all fits!

The amount of slightly campy humor that was injected into Love at First Bite fits right in with the Scandals with Bite series, even though this latest entry is a bit darker than the earlier pieces of fanged, fluffy fun in the series.

This one needed to be just a bit darker, so it works. I’ve also just realized that the story is a play on the “Beauty and the Beast” trope, and the darker tone works well for that, too.

This series uses the tried-and-true convention of matching an unconventional heroine with an even more unconventional hero, or possibly vice versa.

Cassandra Burton’s unconventionality is tied up into what she does, while for Rafe Villar is it part of what he is. The author definitely makes it work.

Cassandra was ahead of her time. She doesn’t merely want to become a physician, she is actively preparing herself for that role, in spite of a society that laughs at a woman who wants to go to medical school. (It’s the early 19th century, society laughs (and actively forbids) women from stepping out side a set of preconceived and limiting roles).

Like most of the would-be doctors in that era, her only way of studying human anatomy from the inside is to dissect corpses. Therefore, like many doctors of her era, Cassandra is forced into becoming an occasional graverobber.

bite me your grace by brooklyn annAnd that’s where Rafe comes into the story. After the events in Bite Me, Your Grace (reviewed here) and One Bite Per Night (likewise here) Rafe is now the interim Lord Vampire of London. There have been recent scuffles between vampires and hunters in London, and there are all to many vampires who believe that someone is disinterring recent graves in order to find more of their kind.

Rafe finds Cassandra in the midst of her body-snatching quest, only to discover two things – she’s not after his (or any) vampires and she’s one of the few people he can’t mesmerize. She’s immune to his power. But by the time he figures that out, it’s too late – he’s revealed that vampires exist, and that puts her under vampire house arrest until the mysterious Elders tell him what to do with her.

This is a kind of torture for both of them. Cassandra and Rafe have met before – Cassandra was one of Angelica Ashton’s friends long before Angelica became the Duchess of Burnrath (and a vampire herself). Rafe was Ian Ashton’s second-in-command during that rather messy courtship.

Cassandra has always been fascinated with Rafe, not because he’s quintessentially tall, dark and handsome, but because he isn’t. Rafe was horribly burned, and the doctor in Cassandra wants to repair the damage. He’s also quite striking, although handsome wouldn’t be the right word. Cassandra, a widow, has some other ideas of what Rafe could do to, or with, her that she tries not to reveal.

She just plain fascinates him, but he assumes that she couldn’t possibly be interested in someone as scarred and disfigured as he is.

Of course, they are both wrong, but it takes a long house arrest and a lot of shared danger for them to finally figure that out. When they do, it’s almost too late. Rafe’s enemies are using his tolerance for the all-too-human Cassandra as an excuse to stage a coup. And if the conspiracies don’t bring Rafe down, the Elders he has disobeyed just might.

Escape Rating A-: This series just keeps getting better. So much so that I really hope the author continues to explore this world where vampires meet the Regency. It’s a lot of fun.

I said that this book was darker than the first two, which definitely had a higher froth quotient. It’s darker because both protagonists have more pain and darkness is their own histories, and because the conspiracies and potential coup provide an underlying layer of dark deeds and betrayal that color the narrative.

Rafe is terribly scarred. He fought off a vampire hunter who attacked him during his daysleep, and was so intent on killing the crazed bastard that he followed the man outside into the sun to finish him off. The price was a scarred face and more importantly, a withered and dysfunctional left arm. People, including other vampires, see Rafe as crippled. Rafe seems to think that the scars only reflect his internal darkness. He sees pity or revulsion in people’s eyes, and he turns away, first and with rudeness, so that he doesn’t have to face them.

Cassandra wants to be a doctor, but in the society in which she lives, even her intellectual pursuits are frowned upon. She is used to hiding who she really is and what she really wants, or only associating with people who sympathize and understand. That she is a widow loosens some of the social strictures, but not enough. She is under scrutiny at every moment. In Rafe, she sees a personal and professional challenge. She wants to see if his arm can be repaired. She longs to discover if the hot dreams she has about him mean that he might possibly show her some of what she missed in her loveless marriage.

While they separately spend a lot of mental energy trying to stave off their mutual attraction, the reasons why they do so make sense. He neither believes in love, nor that anyone could possibly love his scarred self. Cassandra’s experience of what married life is like for a woman make her shy of shackling herself to anyone. Also she knows what Rafe is and can see that they have no future.

The political in-fighting in Rafe’s new dominion keeps the suspense level high. Cassandra does distract him, and he is new to the job. Also, he’s just plain new at the idea of managing anyone other than himself, and makes a whole lot of “new leader” mistakes. The underlying sense of privilege and prejudice that empower the leaders of the so-called revolution are properly disgusting. Their use of propaganda and whisper campaigning seems all too modern. They are good enough at being bad to be a serious threat to Rafe’s and Cassandra’s lives.

Cassandra finds a sphere in which she can finally be who she really is, providing she lives long enough to enjoy it. But Rafe is the one who really grows and changes during the story. He has to reach beyond his self-imposed isolation to discover that he has friends who will stand by him at any cost, and that he is capable of both inspiring loyalty and feeling it in return.

If the combination of paranormal and historical romance sounds like fun, this book proves that it really, really can be. Even better, this story can stand on its own, although once you’ve read it you’ll want to go diving into the previous books for the background.


Sourcebooks Casablanca is generously giving away 3 Scandals that Bite Book Bundles to lucky commenters on the tour. Just fill out the Rafflecopter to be entered!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Review: One Bite Per Night by Brooklyn Ann

one bite per night by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: historical paranormal romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #2
Length: 372 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: August 5, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

The Dowager Countess of Morley asks Vincent Tremayne, Lord Vampire of Cornwall, to become guardian of her American granddaughter. Vincent honors the agreement and plans to get his new ward married and off his hands as soon as possible.

When Lydia Price arrives, she soon turns Vincent’s gloomy castle upside-down, and he decides he wants Lydia for himself. But if Vincent can’t protect Lydia from her entanglement with scandalous portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, the vampire community will make sure that he—and Lydia—face dire consequences..

My Review:

bite me your grace by brooklyn annThis is the second book in Brooklyn Ann’s Scandals with Bite series (after Bite Me, Your Grace, reviewed last week) and I liked this one better than the first. I now have high hopes for book 3, Bite at First Sight, which I have scheduled for next week.

The formula is very similar to the first book, but it has been tweaked just a bit in ways that minimize the number of misunderstandammits and make the characters fit more comfortably, at least for this reader, into the unconventional heroine meets brooding hero plot.

(OMG I just realized that Lydia Price marries Vincent. If this isn’t a play on the name of the late horror film actor Vincent Price, I’ll eat my (fictional) parasol.)

Returning to the work in hand, Lydia truly is unconventional, not just on the inside where it counts, but also in her background. Her parents married for love, which was unusual enough, but her father gave up his wealth and title to marry her commoner mother. His mother disowned him and any children he might have, and turned her aristocratic and autocratic back on the lot of them.

Lydia grew up in New Orleans, where her parents fled to make a fresh start. It was a happy family until both Lydia’s parents died of yellow fever just about the time that Lydia should have been looking for a husband.

Instead, the orphan is on her way to England, to the hopefully accepting arms of the only family she has left. Unfortunately for her, that family is her hateful grandmother. Fortunately for Lydia, her grandmother is so hateful that she essentially bargains Lydia off to an old family connection.

Once upon a time in the 1600s, Vincent Tremayne, Earl of Deveril, pledged an alliance with his best friend, who was then Lord Morley. Lydia’s grandmother is that Lord Morley’s descendant, and Vincent feels duty bound to harbor his old friend’s great-great-granddaughter. Because while Lord Morley is long dead and has had several generations of descendants, Vincent is the Lord Vampire of Cornwall, and is still very much alive.

But Lydia brings a lot more life to his lonely castle than he ever thought possible. And not just because he has to finally hire enough servants to keep the whole place functioning again, as well as retain a chaperone for Lydia to supervise her “coming out” Season in London.

Lydia’s American upbringing has made her a refreshing change from the mostly simpering debutantes who have nothing on their minds but snaring a titled husband, whether by fair means or foul.

Lydia rides, shoots, fishes and paints. Those first three make her an ideal Countess for the remote Cornish estate – but all Vincent sees is a young woman with a zest for life who couldn’t possibly fall for the monster that Vincent sees himself to be.

All that Lydia sees is a handsome, brooding man who lights up in her company and encourages her intellectually.

Vincent admittedly also sees a way of getting back at her grandmother by ensuring that Lydia makes a more favorable match than her cousin, the grandchild that the old lady favors because she has the poor chit under her thumb.

Vincent’s first salvo in that polite war is to hire the best chaperone in England to supervise Lydia right out from under her grandmother. Miss Hobson sees the Earl and his ward together and decides that the most brilliant match available to Lydia is the one that appears to be the one after Lydia’s own heart. Miss Hobson begins scheming, in her quiet but effective little way, to get Lydia and Vincent together.

(After all, Vincent IS an Earl. It is a very brilliant match!)

The London Season offers plenty of opportunities for Vincent to avoid the affection that is growing between himself and his ward. Duchess Angelica Ashton, wife of the Lord Vampire of London and heroine of Bite Me, Your Grace, sees plenty of opportunities for a little mischief and more than a bit of matchmaking.

Lady Morley sees a titled Lord that she can both steal from her commoner granddaughter and possibly bring under her own sway into the bargain. She has no idea what she is attempting to bite off.

Lydia just sees Vincent pulling away from the friendship that they established in Cornwall. No one sees the very real danger that stalks them all.

Escape Rating B: Because readers of the first book already know quite a bit about the vampires of England and their governance, this story is able to delve more into its characters and spend a bit less time on explaining everything.

I like Lydia as the heroine. Her unconventionality is organic to her story. She’s not rebelling against expections, she’s trying to figure out where she fits between the expectations that her parents raised her under and the much, much stricter set of rules that confine English young ladies of a certain class. The rules of life have changed right under her, and in the midst of very real grief, and she is learning her place in her new world.

Vincent believes that as a vampire, he is a monster. He feels guilty for living, for everything he does, and does not want to bring someone else, namely Lydia, into a life which he feels will crush her spirit as it has crushed his. At the same time, he is an excellent lord, and takes care of his people, both human and vampire, and does what is a very good best by them. Ian Ashton often sends those who have been damaged by the change to Vincent for supervision and healing, and their partnership in this regard is quite successful.

As much as Vincent falls in love with Lydia, and it is great to watch them slowly and carefully reach out for each other, while he is certain that anyone else would be better for her. He sincerely tries to find her a mortal husband. In the end, Lydia has to seduce him (with Angelica Ashton’s wardrobe) to get him to see the light. Even then, he’s still in the process of convincing himself that his selfishness will not harm Lydia, and he isn’t certain.

When the decision is taken out of his hands, it puts all of them into even more danger. Rash actions produce drastic results. And while this story does eventually come to its blissful happily ever after, it was also incredibly pleasing to watch Lydia give her disgusting grandmother the comeuppance that she so richly deserved.

bite at first sight by brooklyn annOne of the secondary characters in this story who has continually made my “curiosity bump” itch is Ian’s second, the scarred Spanish vampire Rafael Villar. I am looking forward to finally discovering his story in Bite at First Sight. I have high hopes that it will be even better than One Bite Per Night.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Review: Bite Me Your Grace by Brooklyn Ann

bite me your grace by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: historical paranormal romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #1
Length: 354 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: April 2, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

England’s “vampire craze” causes much vexation for the Lord Vampire of London, Ian Ashton. To save his reputation, Ian enlists aspiring authoress Angelica Winthrop without realizing she has hidden plans of her own.

Angelica Winthrop’s life goal is to ruin her reputation, avoid marriage, and become a gothic authoress like her idol, Mary Shelley. To find inspiration for her new story, she breaks into the home of Ian Ashton, Duke of Burnrath, not knowing she will be coming up against the Lord Vampire of London. Romance sparks and reputations are at stake. But who knows the real difference between fact and fiction?

My Review:

I thought that this story was a lot of fun, but at the same time it felt as if it was as much of a send up or spoof of Regency romances as it was a Regency romance with a paranormal twist.

Still, it’s a genuinely light-hearted and fun spoof, if you want to take it that way. And there is a happily ever after that is going to mean a lot more of that “ever after” than is usual.

However, the tension in the story came more from a series of misunderstandammits than I would have preferred. On that other hand, so many of those misunderstandings are the result of a general lack of knowledge and information on the heroine’s part about the nature and preferences of vampires, as well as her more typical lack of knowledge of men and the way the world works.

Young misses of the upper classes were supposed to be innocent of worldly knowledge. Vampire knowledge is kept secret, so of course she hasn’t much clue on that score.

It was terrific to see the interweaving of the real rise in supernatural fiction with Angelica’s introduction into the real life of vampires. This story takes place at the time when Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and John Polidori’s The Vampyre (the forerunner of Bram Stoker’s Dracula) were all the rage.

And causing London’s Vampire Lord to gnash his fangs in his search for Polidori, his inspiration, and which one of the London vampires betrayed their kind and exposed them to ridicule and possible discovery.

Because London’s Vampire Lord is also Ian Ashton, the Duke of Burnrath. He has a place in ton society that he doesn’t exercise much but does cause a lot of jealousy and resentment in certain quarters. Also, his eccentric life (no one ever sees him at night) makes him an easy target for anyone who wants to suggest he is a vampire. Which, of course, he is.

In this case we have both an unconventional hero and an unconventional heroine. Ian is a vampire who regularly leaves the country, and returns 50 years later as his own properly documented heir. Being the Vampire Lord of London is sometimes frustrating, but he’s also getting tired and bored. And Polidori’s story has him seething.

Angelica is a headstrong young society miss who does not want to marry and turn into a society drone. She wants to become an author like Mary Shelley or Jane Austen. Of course, she has no idea what she will be getting herself into. Her plan is to “ruin herself” with her behavior so that her parents (especially her overbearing mother), will stop pushing her to get married.

Because Angelica is fascinated with gothic horror stories, she decides to check out Ian’s London house, which is conveniently across the street from her own. She lets herself in during the day and starts hunting for a ghost. She expects to find lots of inspiration in Ian’s dusty estate.

Instead, Ian finds her. According to the rules of the day, simply being alone in his house with him without a chaperone is enough to ruin her. What she doesn’t expect is that Ian will decide that marrying a human woman will throw off the scent of the very real vampire hunters who are after him.

That Angelica had no thought that her parents would fall all over themselves to “leg-shackle” her to the man who ruined her, whoever he might be, is just one of the ways that Angelica’s naivete is so clearly (and frequently) displayed.

Verbally sparring with Angelica, who is well if unconventionally educated, makes Ian feel alive in more ways than just sexually. She is different in ways that make her a challenge as well as a delightful surprise.

But they don’t talk to each other about what is really going on. Not just that Ian is a vampire, but what that will mean. Or even that he truly enjoys her unconventionality, especially including her extreme forthrightness.

That lack of communication nearly wrecks their fledgling marriage. Even more important, it very nearly gets both of them killed.

Escape Rating C: I liked Ian and Angelica, and the premise of the story was good, but there were too many things that drove me bananas.

As much external tension as exists in this story between Polidori’s elusiveness, the vampire hunter, and the continuing speculation on whether or not Ian is a vampire, the author concentrated too much on Angelica’s and Ian’s communication problems, which were legion. Everything that goes wrong in their story comes down to eavesdropping, misunderstandings and a complete unwillingness to talk to each other about anything serious. While this may have been the actual pattern at this point in history, that the entire difficulty in the relationship comes down a giant misunderstandammit almost made me stop in the middle.

Both Angelica’s mother and her grandfather felt like cardboard cutouts instead of real characters. It’s not just that Angelica sees her mother as being stupid, but that she consistently acts that way. Her mother’s desire to get Angelica married off is logical. That she never sees her very unconventional daughter as the person she really is grated on this reader’s nerves. While our time period may have different goals at least some of the time, what her mother wanted was the right thing for that era. That she never figured out that she used the wrong arguments and persuasions every single time made me cringe.

Angelica’s rich grandfather was just a nasty and overbearing bully. And creepy.

With all of the family drama going on, the introduction of a real bloodthirsty vampire hunter into this mix felt over-the-top. That one of Ian’s vampires was able to defy him and deceive him over Polidori also didn’t fit with the descriptions of how much vampires were obedient and beholden to their local lord. That the female vampire in question was as naive as Angelica, if not more so, made no sense.

This story had a lot of interesting ideas that didn’t quite gel for me. Your mileage may vary.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Review: Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks + Giveaway

cowboy heaven by cheryl brooksFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: erotic romance
Series: Cowboy Heaven #1
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: March 3, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

When widow Angela McClure decides to let loose and start a secret affair with a younger ranch hand, she inflames rancher Dusty Jackson’s long simmering desire. Both men are irresistible – and forbidden – so Angela forms a plan to divert her old-fashioned father’s suspicions: flirt with all of “her cowboys.’ The new competition makes Circle Bar K ranch hotter than it’s ever been before…

My Review:

cowboy delight by cheryl brooksCowboy Heaven is just plain good, dirty fun. For a good time, find Cheryl Brooks and pick up either Cowboy Heaven or its predecessor, Cowboy Delight.

I’ve been reading a LOT of fairly serious books lately, and it was great to cut loose with something light and fun. And dirty. Did I mention dirty? Cowboy Heaven is an erotic romance that starts out heavy on the erotic and adds the romance side about halfway in.

There’s also a tiny bit of suspense. While it was easy to figure out who the bad guy was, his reasons for being bad and just how far back the badness went were a bit of a surprise.

The story is about Angela McClure. Angela is a 42 year old widow with two sons, a cantankerous father, and a ranch to run. Her husband Cody has been dead a few years, long enough for her to have gotten past her grief and to really miss having a man around just for her. And definitely for sex.

Her kids are away at school. You would think that Angela would have no problem finding someone if she wanted to, but there are definitely a couple of flies in that ointment. Her dad is more than a bit old-fashioned, a lot of hard of hearing, and his health is failing. And it is still HIS ranch. Angela may run it, but Dear Old Dad definitely still owns it. She lives under his roof and has to give at least lip service to what he wants.

The other problem is the ranch foreman Rufus. He has not only lectured the ranch cowboys repeated and with great force that Angela is absolutely untouchable, but it turns out that he fires anyone who even looks her way.

Angela, who is more than passably pretty, feels like she is being smothered. Quite possibly with a nun’s habit. She’s doesn’t know about Rufus’ dictates, and thinks she must be ugly as sin if none of the cowboys will even smile at her.

Then she picks up a handsome hitchhiker, and she learns a whole lot about how much she still needs sex, and how much men want to have it with her. She also uses her new “boy toy” as a spy in Rufus’ bunkhouse, and discovers just how tight a rein the foreman has been keeping on all her cowboys.

The more she inserts herself into the life of the cowboys (and a few of them let her know that they would like to insert themselves into her) the more Angela re-discovers how much fun, and not just the sexual kind, can be had with a bunch of male friends who don’t mind her occasional foul language and can give as good as they get.

And the further Rufus goes off the deep end. When Angela and her new cowboy friends start putting the pieces together, Angela comes to the nasty conclusion that anyone she shows favor to is in deadly danger.

Especially the cowboy that she has been in love with for years. And very definitely vice-versa. Can they get Rufus before he gets them?

Escape Rating B+: For a rip-roaring time, get this book and settle in for a couple of hours of sexy cowboy fun.

But there’s just a bit more to it than that. Angela is a terrific character. I feel for her situation, and absolutely love her bawdy sense of humor. She’s someone I’d love to have drinks with. Or possibly get drunk with.

I also really liked that Angela was a grown-up heroine. She’s 42 not 22. It affects her outlook on life and responsibility. While it was awful to see her as a widow, it was terrific to see her break out of the shell imposed by her Dad and Rufus and find her authentic self, very definitely including her sexual side.

That all the cowboys she gets various levels of involved with are all younger than she is, well that’s an added bonus.

The cowboys as a group are all sweethearts (except Rufus of course). It’s easy to see why a woman might fall in love with any of them – or perhaps all of them. It’s also just a bit heartbreaking when Angela’s lover, Dusty, explains how all of them are misfits, and why they are all happy living in a ranch bunkhouse instead of on their own.

There is one scene that absolutely had my laughing to the point of shaking the bed. Some of the cowboys decide to get into a dick measuring contest, and they want Angela to be the judge. The whole load of double and triple entendres flying around is chortle, snicker, giggle worthy of the highest order.

(I’ll admit, I’ve been to more than a few meetings where I wanted the guys in the room to just cut the crap and get them out and measure them. It would have saved a whole lot of time.)

It would be sweet to see more of those wonderful cowboys get their own sexy HEAs in future books in this series. They deserve it.


Sourcebooks is giving away 3 copies of Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks. If you are looking for a good (reading) time, enter the giveaway in the rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.