Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review - Maybe This Time

Title: Maybe This Time
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Publishing Date: September 2010
Genre: Contemporary/Paranormal
Rating: A-
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from the library.

Andie Miller goes to see her ex-husband North whom she hasn't seen in ten years to ask that he stop sending her alimony checks. After all, she has every single one he has sent over the years and not a single one was ever deposited. But seeing North is a shock to Andie's senses. She can't believe the overwhelming feelings that come rushing back after that brief encounter. Plus, she somehow finds herself the nanny to two unruly children who have recently been orphaned which North now has sole custody. When Andie arrives to whip the children into shape, she realizes it's not the children who are the problem, it’s the unruly ghosts that are haunting the house.

The last Jennifer Crusie book that I read earlier in the year, Wild Ride was a very big disappointment. I really wasn't sure what to expect with Maybe This Time, but I was definitely intrigued by the summary. It turns out that Maybe This Time is a huge score for me and I think fans of Ms. Crusie will delight in this latest release.

Where to begin...the characterization is great. Andie and North just jump off the pages. Andie and North are opposites. Andie is whimsical, flighty, impulsive and fun, whereas North is responsible, organized and serious. We get to see a lot of Andie through North's eyes and vice versa North through Andie's. These characteristic s are what attracted the other, but it is also what eventually drove them apart.

Even though these two aren't together through a lot of the book, we relive their past relationship through flashbacks including how they first met. I think this is the first book with the reconciling couple theme that I have really enjoyed. Ms. Crusie gets it right. This time I really do believe that they can make it work the second time around.

One little odd ball thing that I would like to point out with this book was that there were references to electronics that lead me to believe that this book was written a few years ago. For example, the little girl Alice likes to listen to her Walkman instead of an iPod and also there are references to them watching videos instead of DVDs. It just made the story seem dated. At any rate, this one was a page turner and it worked really well for me.

Here is what others had to say:
Dirty Sexy Books
Novel Addiction
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Book Fare Delights
Medieval Bookworm
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My Book Addiction

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review - The Pirate Lord

Title: The Pirate Lord
Author: Sabrina Jeffries
Publishing Date: 1998
Genre: Historical
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: I received a used copy from Paperbackswap.com

The Pirate Lord is the first book in Sabrina Jeffries Lord Trilogy. Sara Willis, Stepdaughter to the late Earl of Blackmore, has devoted her life to helping those less fortunate than her. She learns that a group of women convicts are being shipped to New South Wales. Despite her brother's opposition Sara obtains passage on the ship as a schoolteacher. Shortly after passage Sara's boat is taken by a group of pirates. The Captain Gideon Horn learns that the ship is full of women and gets the brilliant idea to capture the ship so his men will have wives. Gideon has found an unoccupied island in the tropics and plans to create his own Utopia. His plans don't exactly go as planned once Sara puts her mind to riling up the women to disagree to the idea.

I picked up The Pirate Lord because my good friend Kristie J. recommended it to me. It sounded like a fun, yet silly book and I haven't read a good pirate romance in a while. I was pleasantly surprised that the book wasn't as silly as I feared. It actually had more serious undertones than I expected and was pleasantly surprised. It was a little slow in the middle and the ending was predictable. However, I thought both Gideon and Sara were strong characters.

Sara and Gideon have met their match with the other. Both are used to getting what they want, easily bowling over any opposition. Once they encounter each other it is like fire to water. Both are stubborn in the face of their own wants and beliefs and are not afraid to go after them. Their first encounters are fun to read. The middle part of the book drags a little bit for me because Sara takes so long to come to the conclusion that Gideon is a good man. It is pretty obvious to the reader that he is a decent guy despite his kidnapping a bunch of women for his own nefarious purposes! Gideon is one of those heroes who doesn't trust women and predictably the story foreshadows that Gideon will believe that Sara betrays him. While that was predictable there is still a surprise element that left me quite satisfied with the story. Thanks Kristie J for recommending this one to me!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review - Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor

Title: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publishing Date: November 2010
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from the library.

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is the first book in a new contemporary romance series by Lisa Kleypas. This new series revolves around three bachelor brothers whose parents have passed away. Mark Nolan, the oldest of the group, finds himself the guardian to his niece when his younger sister unexpected dies in a car accident. Holly, at age 7, easily steals his heart as a solemn, silent child. Mark takes Holly into a local toy shop that recently opened up and is owned by Maggie Collins who is no stranger to grief. She, herself, is a recent widow and feels and instant connection with Holly and not to mention Mark. Maggie isn't sure if she is ready for the feelings Mark stirs in her.

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is a sweet, stirring story about grief and recovery. Holly is such a sweet child, you can't help but feel tenderness towards her and it is no surprise that as reluctant as Mark is about his surprising parenthood he takes to it like a duck to water. I enjoyed the camaraderie between Mark and his brother Sam as they muddle through learning the ropes of child rearing and establishing a family atmosphere for Holly.

Holly is extremely reluctant to get involved in another romantic relationship after the devastation of losing her husband. So it is with reluctance that she develops a friendship with Mark and his daughter Holly. But the truth is Holly is irresistibly drawn to Mark. I enjoyed this sweet romance between Holly and Mark. Although, my major complaint would be that the story was too short!! The story is only 210 pages and of course as a fan of Ms. Kleypas I wanted so much more. Really, I felt like this story was just a tease of greatness to come from this new series. I can't wait for more!

Here is what others had to say:

Babbling About Books and More
The Happily Ever After
Alpha Reader

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Turkey Day and December Releases

Happy Turkey Day, everybody!!! I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. I know we sure did. Hubby and I went to my Uncle's place and he lives on a farm. The kids wore themselves out feeding the pigs, riding horses and chasing the dog. We're city folk, so we don't commune with nature nearly enough. I practically had to drag the kids inside when it was time to eat dinner, they wanted to spend every moment outside that they could.  Below is Annabelle and Jake on my Uncle's horse. 

On to the important stuff, like giving thanks to book publishers and authors for keeping me entertained. Coming up in December I have just a few books in which I am looking forward to their release.

Dirk and Steele Series - Book 10


Contemporary Erotic
What about you?  What's on your wishlist?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review - Demon From the Dark

Title: Demon From the Dark
Author: Kresley Cole
Publishing Date: September 2010
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: I received a used copy from Paperbackswap.com.

Demon from the Dark is the 8th full length novel in Kresley Cole's Imortals after Dark series. Carrow Graie is a witch who has been captured by a group seeking to add to their paranormal menagerie. They have tasked Carrow with locating Malkom Slaine, a Vemon (vampire/demon). They have her sweet niece Ruby as collateral to make her comply. Things get tricky when Carrow starts to fall in love with the beast. How can she possibly choose between Ruby or Malkom?

I love this series, but the last couple of books have left me with a bad taste in my mouth, worried that the series isn't going anywhere. Things seemed a little stagnant in terms of the big war amongst the immortals. Well, I am happy to say this book pushed all those worries to the back of my mind. It was an incredible journey and things are finally starting to pick up in terms of the overall story arc. Yay!!!!

I had a little bit of trouble getting into the story. It started out slow giving us Malkom's back story, plus coupled with my own preconceived notions, made me put it down and pick it back up repeatedly. Once I got past the first chapter (I know, short attention span) things really picked up. Malkom is a crazy beast of a man. Well, not exactly a man, a demon really. But he is completely Alpha with a soft, sensitive inner core. Carrow can't help but be drawn to him. He is fiercely protective, yet extremely inexperienced when it comes to women. He is a very unique hero and a lot of romance fans are going to adore him. I know I did.

I really enjoyed Demon from the Dark. I have not been as enthusiastic about paranormal romance compared with urban fantasy, but I thought Demon from the Dark was up there with urban fantasy this time. I highly recommend this series and this book if you like paranormal romance. I recently posted an excerpt, which you can find here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review - Pleasure Control

Title: Pleasure Control
Author: Cathryn Fox
Publishing Date: 2006
Genre: Contemporary/Erotic
Rating: C
Senuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: I received a free copy from the RT Book Lovers Convention.

Pleasure Control is book one of Cathryn Fox's Pleasure Game series. Laura Manning is a scientist working on discovering a potion to inhibit a man's libido. For a long time she has had a crush on her lab partner Jay Cutler. With a deadline for the potion hanging over them, Jay suggests Laura try the potion on him and then seduce him to see if it works. Against her better judgment Laura goes along with the plan.

Pleasure Control was an okay read for me. This book kind of gets the kiss of death I guess since there is not a lot that sets it apart from other books, nor is there anything that really stands out in my mind about it. It was neither good nor bad but somewhere in between. The characters, the plot and the execution were all just mediocre. What else can I say?

The good things Pleasure Control has going for it are that is it short and sweet. There is not a lot of conflict. It's a relatively fast read at only 228 pages. Unfortunately, I can't really recommend it, unless there is not much else to read, or you want something short.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Guess the Book #7

Can you guess the book this passage came from?

Before she could retreat, he cupped the back of her neck, easing the canteen to just before her lips. Apparently, he wanted to hand-feed her the water.

She didn't trust the demon, didn't like him. He was brutish, possibly a hardened murderer. She was tempted to tell him where he could shove that canteen, but she needed the contents too badly.

Humans could die after three days without water-- indoors. C--- had been in hell for more than a day, mostly running, and she was feeling it.

"Very well." She parted her lips, and he pressed the opening against them. Water flowed, hot and metallic. Never had she tasted anything as good.

As she drank, she could feel the liquid already hitting her system, the effects washing over her with the force and speed of a drug rush. Her eyelids slid shut.

Within moments, her headache and twinges ebbed.

He drew the canteen away, but only to let her breathe for a second. "So good," she murmured.

He hastily pressed it back to her lips. She peeked at him, saw how he stared at her, his gaze hooded. He was probably growing aroused by how greedily she hit that canteen.

But she couldn't worry about that. Water ran down her chin and neck, wetting her halter over one of her breasts. Doesn't matter.

What was wrong with her? She was being manipulated by a demon, was captive to his whims. He could bite her at any time. And I can barely keep my eyes open.

He pulled it away much too soon, his eyes glued to her sodden top. He got a sinful look in his eyes...then he poured water over her other breast. She jerked back, out of his hold, gasping, "Stop that!"

In the middle of a place like this, purposely spilling water seemed extravagant and wicked. She couldn't contain a shiver, and her nipples hardened beneath her halter, right before his transfixed gaze.

He gave a husky growl, emanating a weird sense of happiness. Like awe. Like wonder.

"Ara, minde jart," he finally said, hitting his hand against his chest. His voice had gotten hoarse.

"Female, my...heart?" Again, he tried to make her understand that she was his. So he thought that was the only reason she hadn't surrendered to him?

What do you think? Any ideas??

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review - Bound to a Warrior

Title: Bound to a Warrior
Author: Donna Fletcher
Publishing Date: September 2010
Genre: Medieval
Rating: C-
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: I bought an ebook from Barnes & Noble for my Nook.

Duncan MacAlpine, on his way back home to Scotland finds himself captured by the English. He is handcuffed to a brave English woman, Mercy. At the first opportunity Duncan and Mercy break away from their captors. They must travel over treacherous land riddled with English soldiers avoiding recapture while literally bound to each other by their wrists. Talk about teamwork. These two must learn to master the art of hiking, eating, bathing and sleeping as one unit.

Sounds like a winning scenario for a great romance, right? Not so much. After the first chapter I knew this book wasn't for me. I am one of those optimistic readers who hope that the book is going to get better. While it did get better, it still wasn't a stellar read.

My main problem with the book was the writing style. It was overly simplified and too explanative. I didn't need to be given an explanation for every little action made by either Mercy or Duncan. Readers aren't idiots. We don't need every little nuance spelled out. Give us good action and we can intuit what is going on between the characters for ourselves. Also, the characters especially Mercy seemed a little too "fairy tale" perfect. Their personalities were not realistic enough for my taste. It is difficult for me to recommend this book.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review - Wicked Lovely

Title: Wicked Lovely
Author: Melissa Marr
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from my library

Wicked Lovely is the first book in Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series. Aislinn has always been able to see faeries ever since she can remember. Her Gram taught her that no matter what, she must pretend as if they don't exist. Up until now that really hadn't been a problem for Aislinn to pretend as if they didn't exist, until Keenan the Summer King decides that Aislinn is his Summer Queen and must make it so. Keenan sets out to court Aislinn but to his dismay she doesn't want anything to do with him, no matter that he is the most beautiful man she has ever laid eyes on.

I don't usually read YA novels, but there has been a lot of buzz revolving around Miss Marr's popular series and what the hell, why shouldn't I jump on the faery train too? With that said, I liked the story. It was very captivating, although with Aislinn being so young I felt like her maturity level was difficult for me, personally, to relate too. This is one of the reasons I have hesitated to read YA. But that minor issue of mine aside, I did enjoy the story and wouldn't mind continuing with the series.

Wicked Lovely's pacing was great and the story just flowed beautifully. There is plenty of conflict between Aishlinn trying hard not to attract any attention from the faeries, Keenan not being successful with his courtship of Aishlinn and to Aishlinn and Keenan defeating the Winter Queen. I wish there would have been more description of the faery world and how everything works. Although as the series progresses, I am sure more will be revealed. Also, I thought Aishlinn was a little weak as a heroine, but that also could have been attributed to her age. I mean what teenager isn't riddled with doubts, right? Good story. Good writing. I'm definitely reading more.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review - Touching Darkness

Title: Touching Darkness
Author: Jaime Rush
Publishing Date: May 2010
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: I received a free copy at the RT Book Lovers convention this year.

Touching Darkness is the third book in Jaime Rush's Offspring series. Nicholas Braden was recruited by the CIA to find a dangerous group of young people called "Offspring". Nicholas has always been good at finding things ever since he was a teen and now he can put those skills to good use, or so he thinks. After a while he discovers that the side he is fighting on may not be the right side. He has to convince Olivia, the director’s daughter that her Father is involved in illegal activities. Nicholas must find answers if he is going to survive and protect Olivia as well.

Touching Darkness is my favorite book in the series thus far. Plot wise things are really heating up. More information is revealed regarding the secrets behind the Blue Eyes science project. The bigger picture is starting to unfold and new intriguing characters are introduced with very interesting psychic powers. Also, it is interesting to see those "happy for now" endings in past books are continuing and evolving in this book, Lucas and Amy's relationship especially.

As far as the main relationship, Nicholas courts Olivia with tenderness. Their romance was very sweet and not at all what I had expected compared to the other books in the series. Olivia is a very sheltered young woman who spent most of her life in isolation trying to please her Father. Nicholas's upbringing was very different from Olivia's as he came from a loving family and had a normal childhood. The romance is still the weakest part of the book for me because it is not nearly as well developed as the plot. However, because Nicholas and Olivia were very young characters, 20 and 23 respectively, it worked for me. And the plot is fantastic. Therefore I am willing to sacrifice some of the romance. I definitely will be reading the next book in the series.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review - An Unforgettable Lady

Title: An Unforgettable Lady
Author: Jessica Bird/J. R. Ward
Publishing Date: 2004
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: I purchased a new copy.

An Unforgettable Lady was originally published in 2004 under the penname Jessica Bird and was rereleased this year because of JR Ward's popularity. Grace Hall is a woman born of wealth and privilege. A madman had decided to target the richest most influential women of New York. One by one Grace's friends are being brutally murdered in their homes and Grace fears that she will be next. She hires John Smith, a body guard to the rich and famous who is the best in the business. What complicates things even more is that John and Grace shared a passionate moment a few days prior and neither thought they would see the other again.

An Unforgettable Lady was my first Jessica Bird book and a contemporary none the less. I am very familiar with Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books which I have enjoyed very much. I was looking forward to this with enthusiasm. I thought it was a solid read with a few minor annoyances.

I liked both Grace and John's personalities. Grace although a high society princess, never acted like one. She was very considerate and polite of others, albeit she was always very contained when it came to her own emotions. Her buttoned up demeanor is what John is drawn to and he can't help but admire her poise. John himself is very contained when it comes to his emotions except when he is around Grace. Then he surprises himself when he is unable to remain in control. I enjoyed his inner monologues when he is trying to rationalize his attraction to Grace and the steps he plans to take to resolve this problem. As logical as he tries to be it doesn't exactly work out like he planned.

John and Grace fight their attraction to each other for most of the book. This is where the book falters for me somewhat. This is not a romantic suspense therefore John and Grace's relationship is front and center. While this may sound like a good thing, I felt that the middle of the book became stagnant with not enough of the plot moving forward. Grace and John fighting their attraction is okay the first couple of times, but after the fifth time, things were getting old. Lather, rinse and repeat. Other than a dull middle, the beginning and end were great. I can see myself reading more of Ward's contemporary books.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Best of 2002

Another one of my "best of" posts.

Here are the top books for 2002 according to RWA and AAR.

***Bold means I read it - and () is my personal grade for that book. At the bottom will be my top picks for this year, based on what books I read.

Lets see how things compare...

RWA's 2002 RITA Winners
Shades of Honor by Wendy Lindstrom
No Place Like Home by Barbara Samuel
Never Say Goodbye by Irene Hannon
Taking Cover by Catherine Mann
Stealing Heaven by Madeline Hunter (B)
Contact by Susan Grant (B)
A Debt To Delia by Barbara Metzger
Three Fates by Nora Roberts
Taming The Outlaw by Cindy Kay Gerard
The Bride Fair by Cheryl Reavis
The Christmas Basket by Debbie Macomber

All About Romance - Reader's Poll
Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann (B+)
Faking It by Jennifer Crusie
No Place Like Home by Barbara Samuel
Beyond Seduction by Emma Holly
No True Gentleman by Liz Carlyle
Stealing Heaven by Madeline Hunter (B)
Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory (A-)
The Wedding Journey by Carla Kelly
Prairie Moon by Maggie Osborne
The Older Woman by Cheryl Reavis
Contact by Susan Grant (B)

Romance Rookie's Top Picks
Let Me Be the One by Jo Goodman (A)
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (A)
Behind Closed Doors by Shannon McKenna (A-)
Untie my Heart by Judith Ivory (A-)
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (B+)
Out of Control by Suzanne Brockman (B+)
Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley (B+)
Lord of Ice by Gaelen Foley (B+)
Killjoy by Julie Garwood (B+)
The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning (B+)
Romancing Mr. bridgerton by Julia Quinn (B+)
The Lady's Tutor by Robin Schone (B+)
Ravyn's Flight by Patti O'Shea (B+)
Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich (B+)

Some things of note:
  • I only read a total of 37 books published in this year.
  • No Place Like Home by Barbara Samuel made both the RWA and AAR lists.  Hmmm.. I might have to give that one a try.
  • Cheryl Reavis made both the RWA and AAR lists but with different books.  I haven't ever tried her but I might be changing that.

How about you? Any particular books that stood out in 2002? Agree or disagree with this list?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review - Hot Finish

Title: Hot Finish
Author: Erin McCarthy
Publishing Date: August 2010
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: C-
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from the library.

Hot Finish is the third book in Erin McCarthy's Fast Track series centering around NASCAR race car drivers. Suzanne and Ryder Jefferson married young and could never seem to talk about their marriage problems. After a few years they divorced feeling it was for the best. But Suzanne and Ryder somehow seem to keep the other still in their life, not to mention the pesky little problem of still having feelings for the other. Suzanne and Ryder are once again thrust together when the wedding Suzanne is planning is a NASCAR wedding the Ryder is the best man of the groom. To complicate matters it turns out the divorce papers were never signed properly and Suzanne and Ryder are still legally married.

Hot Finish was a major disappointment for me. I really enjoy Erin McCarthy's writing. I loved her last Fast Track novel, Hard and Fast choosing it as a top read for last year. With that in mind I was really looking forward to her next release. The main reason for my disappointment was that Suzanne was such a BITCH!!! Honestly, she was not a very nice person. She was always griping and complaining. It was made even more glaringly obnoxious because Ryder was always so considerate and generous with her. I just couldn't stand the way she would treat him. Granted I will say that some of her behavior I could understand, but most of the time it just grated on my nerves.

Fortunately, Hot Finish is a well written book, with good dialogue between the NASCAR boys and the camaraderie between Suzanne and her friends. It's funny and fast paced like McCarthy's other books, but I just couldn't stand the heroine. If it wasn't for the stellar story telling I would haven't even finished the book. If you don't mind a prickly, bitch heroine with a stick up her butt, then maybe you will enjoy this more than I did.

Here is what others had to say:
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The Good, The Bad and the Unread
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Access Romance, My Turn!

Hey Everyone,

I am over at Access Romance today discussing Holiday themed romance novels. Come join me!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review - Nicholas

Title: Nicholas
Author: Elizabeth Amber
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Historical Erotic
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Burning
Book Disclosure: I received a free copy at the 2010 RT Book Lovers Convention

Nicholas is the first book in Elizabeth Amber's The Lords of Satyr series. The King of the Fey is dying and has tasked the Satyr brothers to find his lost daughters and protect them through marriage. Nicholas is the first to find his bride, Jane. Jane is surprised when this handsome stranger wants to marry her after only one brief meeting. Jane accepts her situation and Nicholas whisks her off to his vineyard where Jane will eventually learn of Nicholas's beastly behavior.

I have to say, I have heard a lot of rumors about this series, rumors about the crazy sexual things that happen in The Lords of Satyr series. I wasn't really sure how I would feel about the book because of that, but I have to say I actually enjoyed it. Yep, I confirm that there is a bunch of crazy, satyr sex happening but despite all of that I thought the characterization and plot were better than average. A lot of it was outrageous and I was expecting that, which allowed me to sit back and just enjoy my reading experience. It is what it is.

Since Nicholas and Jane didn't know each other before marriage, the book focuses a lot on Jane and Nick working out the kinks most newlyweds have but throw in a few fantastical elements, like the fact that she is half Fae and he is a satyr and these two have their work cut out for them. Nicholas's views on women were too archaic for my taste, but I loved that Jane was willing to address the situation head on and not let Nicholas run roughshod all over her. I will definitely be giving the next book in the series a try.

Here is what others had to say:
Alpha Reader

Monday, November 1, 2010

October Reading Summary

October was a very busy month for me. I am surprised that I was able to squeeze in 10 books this month. I can't really choose a top read for this month. Most of what I read was good, but not outstanding. Most of the books got a B grade and so sad to say that one of my favorite authors did not live up to my expectations. I had to give Hot Finish a C-.

Books read this month:
1. My Dangerous Duke, Foley (Historical) Rating: B
2. The Search, Roberts (Romantic Suspense) Rating: B
3. Down in Texas, Devlin (Contemporary/Erotic) Rating: B
4. Sins of the Flesh, Pineiro (Romantic Suspense) Rating: B
5. Where Dreams Begin, Kleypas (Historical) Rating: B
6. Wicked Appetite, Evanovich (Paranormal) Rating: B
7. Sinful in Satin, Hunter (Historical) Rating: B
8. Nicholas, Amber (Historical/Erotic) Rating: B-
9. Hot Finish, McCarthy (Contemporary) Rating: C-
10. An Unforgetable Lady, Bird (Contemporary) Rating: B-