Review: The Queen

tl;dr: a totally satisfying conclusion but i selfishly want more

The Story:

The final full-length novel in the Original Sinners series is just as haunting as all the ones that precede it. After engaging in an public display of affection, Nora wants to confess to Søren about two times that she nearly came back to him during the time they were separated, since she has realized from his behavior as of late that he is likely not going to be a priest much longer.

The Queen takes us through her training by Kingsley to be the city’s most notorious Dominatrix, and navigating her joy at freedom and her pain at being without Søren, whom she still loves deeply. Eleanor is reborn as Nora, and has to prove herself when their entire kink community knows her as being the submissive of the priest. There’s even a villain, another dominatrix that uses her knowledge of the kink community as a weapon, trying to keep everyone afraid of her.

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Review: Chase

tl;dr: mistaken identity story remains listless on the page

The Story:

Chase Garrett has rearranged his whole life for his fiancée, whom he catches cheating on him with his best friend in the opening pages of the book. With no property to go back to, he decides to be reckless and join the IBR, the International Bull Riding circuit, and doesn’t look back. On one of his rides, a little boy dashes across the arena, thinking that he is his late father. Riley Barrett doesn’t understand that this Chase is not the same man, due to some physical similarities and how similar his name is to his dad’s.

Madeline Barrett, on the other hand, feels overwhelmed at being a single mother. It’s been many months since her husband died while bull riding, and she is trying to plan for their financial security. She has a ton of brothers, all of whom want to help, but she won’t let them because of pride. When she sees Chase and the way that he connects with Riley, she begins to feel all those stirrings that she’d avoided in the months since her husband’s passing.

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Review: Forever Mine

tl;dr: bland romance about superhero-loving butt-kicking girl and doctor with a secret

The Story:

Sometimes you read books that are just…fine. There’s nothing particularly amazing about them, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why you aren’t fangirling over them because there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with it. It just…is. And that was this book.

I wanted to love it, I really did. Former cop Maya Goodwin runs a superhero fitness class that incorporates some weapons and martial arts to increase kids’ self-esteem. She loves comic books and superheroes and has a giant poster of Captain America in her bedroom.

Alex Nolan, pediatrician and hemophiliac, sees her mall demonstration and wants to incorporate some of her class stuff with his daughter, Charli, who he didn’t know existed until recently. She also has symptoms of hemophilia, and he needs to make adjustments for her. They have lust at first sight and start to fall for each other. Maya is messy and pushy and Alex is more reserved.

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Review: Sweet Surrender

tl;dr: romance lessons bring two people together in a lovely (and dirty) explosion

The Story:

Tyler Stone is the youngest of the Stone brothers, and apparently has always been the ‘screw up’. He dropped out of college, tinkers with cars on the weekends, and spends his time partying, playing video games, and boozing, all the while taking up with a variety of beautiful women who use him for his trust fund. By the time our story starts, approximately 6 months after Sweet Escape ended, Tyler’s ways have caught up to him and he’s in danger of having charges pressed against him for taking a girlfriend’s boat on a joyride and crashing it. His father has banished him to the corporate library at Sugar Rush, which turns out to be in chaos. He’s hating life when Kate Darling literally falls into his arms, startled by his voice when she’s on a ladder reaching for a book.

If you’ve read the previous two books, you know Kate already. She’s young, but she has a severe business-like manner. She’s extremely efficient and good at her job. She gets a bit of a backstory here, but it’s almost wholly unnecessary. Raised by a single dad, who is now remarried to a woman Kate seems to like just fine; but feeling like a third wheel, she decided to move clear across the country for the executive assistant job at Sugar Rush.

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Review: The Virgin

tl;dr: from Eleanor to Nora, a young woman finds her own power

The Story:

Readers know from the very first book in this series that Nora Sutherlin, then Eleanor Schreiber, left the man that owned her body and soul because of something. We get bits and pieces of it throughout the other books, but in The Virgin, we get the full picture. Of course, Reisz makes us wait until the very end to see how he ends up losing control, and the fragments of bone in the locker she leaves for Kingsley to find spur Søren’s other love to leave, too.

Eleanor, referred to as Elle for most of the book, escapes to her mother’s convent in upper New York state, since no men, not even priests, are allowed entry. It’s a safe haven where she is able to get herself back together from the crushing blow she was dealt that caused her to leave. The reunion between mother and daughter was so poignant and beautiful, that I full on sobbed.

Her mother cupped her face and looked her in the eyes. “Every morning for the past three years I’ve woken up and prayed the same prayer. Do you want to know what that prayer is?”

“What?” Elle asked, even though she was certain she didn’t want to know.

“Dear God, please don’t let today be the day he finally kills her.”

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Review: So Wicked

tl;dr: it was confusing in some ways and still confusing in many more ways

The story:

So Wicked is the third in a series of so-called Bad Behavior novels, although I think “nonsensical behavior” may have been more apt. Marshall and Alexis run into each other at the bar that Marshall is opening, with the financial backing of her ex-husband that she abandoned, along with her infant daughter, 6 years before. Marshall has a visceral reaction to seeing her again, and lets loose in a string of profanities that could turn a gal’s hair white. But sparks fly between them, and leads to something more. So far, interesting premise, right?

Spoilers follow, because I don’t think I can fully explain the bizarre trajectory of this novel otherwise.

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Review: Sweet Escape

tl;dr: ANOTHER SUGARY SNACK FROM NINA LANE

The Story:

Sweet Escape begins nearly immediately after Sweet Dreams. With Polly off to Paris for her pastry-making class, sister Hannah is left behind to manage the bakery, and to hopefully continue to keep Wild Child on the upswing since the donut/eclairs hybrid that Polly invented boosted them into some minor fame. With CEO Luke Stone off in Paris with his fiancée, Evan Stone is left to manage that family business, but the next youngest Stone brother is keeping a secret: the fact that he will need to have surgery on his heart, getting a replacement valve, within the next 4-5 months. He doesn’t want anyone to know because he’s worried that Luke will come home and displace him yet again.

Of course, what else are two family-business stand-ins to do but fall for each other? Neither of them want anything serious, but of course their hearts betray them. Hannah bids on Evan at a bachelor auction that she’s catering, and suddenly they have 3 dates to go on, and all of that quality time together leads them to some canoodling in the Napa Valley.

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Review: Burn

tl;dr: weak heroine but great whodunit

The Story:

Someone is setting fire to an array of buildings set along the Riverfront district in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and it’s a veritable who’s-who of whodunits. That’s where the story begins, between a quivering real estate developer with a past and a handsome firefighter with a hero complex.

Chloe is trying to forge ahead with her career as a real estate wunderkind, flipping old abandoned warehouses into useable spaces with businesses on the ground floor below modern condominiums, revitalizing old with new. (An apt metaphor for her life.) Unfortunately, the building that is her current project goes up in flames, and she is considered a person of interest as all the evidence points to arson. Ryan was on the scene for the fire, and he’s training to be a fire inspector or something, so he is abreast of all the evidence that paints Chloe in a not so great light. Also, when he meets her, despite their immediate attraction, she’s pretty skittish and his spidey sense is alerted that she needs saving.

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Review: Sleeping Giants

tl;dr: fresh and new science-fiction tale that’ll have you on the edge of your seat

The Story:

Dr. Rose Franklin stumbles on a giant hand in her youth, an amazing discovery that she’s delighted to study later on, in her career as a physicist. The story that embarks from there covers a lot of ground.

The story is framed by an unnamed narrator, whose identity is a mystery, and that mystery is brought up again and again by the people that he interviews. There are so many characters, I don’t know if I can name them all. There are a few key figures here, though, and they all have their own individual arcs within the larger story.

(Minor spoilers ahead.)

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Review: Sweet Dreams

tl;dr: sexy candy-maker and struggling baker have sweet, sexy times

The Story:

Polly Lockhart is at a turning point in her career. Luke Stone is an overprotective workaholic. Sound familiar? If you have read Nina Lane’s other series, Spiral of Bliss, these archetypes do seem to be nearly carbon copies of Dean and Liv. There are major differences, but overall, Liv and Polly are practically twins separated at birth, and Dean and Luke don’t fall too far from the same tree.

But let’s return to that later.

Polly is floundering both personally and professionally, dating a loser who cares more about video games than her and struggling to keep her late mother’s bakery solvent. In the months since her mother passed from cancer, Polly has been going through the motions. At the insistence of her friend, she goes out to have fun at a dive bar, and ends up making out (and puking on) a very sexy man. She thinks she’ll never see him again, but fate is never that kind in a romance novel!

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