Tag Archives: Romance

Treet yourself to something sweet

Sweet bliss

by

Helena Rac

A very sweet (strawberry icing with chocolate) cupcake but sizzling hot hot story. Often quite graphically sizzling…

Funny that we still get a lot of cupcake stories as here in London they are not doing so well now – and the sugar treat has lost its appeal.  And so it has in the USA as well it seems, with the largest chain cupcake makers – Crumb – closing up in 2014. Or has it?

In 2015, Crumbs was bought and began again with different cupcakes. No longer simple chocolate, now they are flavoured rather differently with peanut butter or carrots or hazelnut Frangelico, pink Champagne, spiced pumpkin, vegan, gluten free, and with less colouring, and fresher baking and ingredients – some will even bake to order in front of you – if you have time to wait of course..

But in the UK we have seen a rise in national specialities – the Portuguese egg custard tart is very popular as are French patisseries – we now have several French chain bakeries – themed cakes and those with more unusual ingredients especially vegetable or fruit eg a lime drizzle cake with courgette; and of course the cannoli has made it here big. The cannoli comes with many different flavoured fillings including pistachio and there is even a cannoli cupcake with ricotta cheese filling/cream.

The Italians are now in London in force again especially the Sicilians and their delicatessens are springing up all over, and then of course there are the doughnuts with fillings such as rhubarb, peach, and salted caramel custard.

And no, I haven’t sampled them all! I just look and drool…

So in London there is no real trend setter unlike the cupcake. Is there a reason why cupcakes are not quite as popular? Is it the calories? Are we becoming more weight conscious? Certainly the latest report from our Chief Medical Officer says that some 75% of middle-aged women are obese or overweight – but for me it is the frosting. The frosting just got piled higher and higher and higher. More and more bright and yet brighter colours and much much too sweet. In fact strawberry with chocolate sounds like my least favourite combination. So if you remove the icing, you are back, as she says in the book, to a muffin and a very plain muffin at that.

Would I read more by this author? Probably not. It was, for me, a sweet treat (pun intended) away from crime and thrillers and fantasy and science fiction my more usual fare.

Winter is icumen in

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ram

And Winter is the Winter Sisters, Victory, Payton and Willow. Each with their own special gift and ability and each falling in love with a different soldier in the elite squad of Army, Navy and Airforce. Author Joanne Jaytanie.

The series I am reviewing contains 3 novels, the latest published being Willow’s Discovery, published this October, which I read first through NetGalley.

This series is far from finished as far as I am concerned, as although each sister now has a mate – there is so much more that can happen to other characters and in the story-line.

So yes, I started with Willow’s Discovery and was only a quarter of the way through when I realised I wanted to read the first 2 books as well. I could read the 3rd book first but it would have been better to read them in the correct order.

Now the story line of all 3 concerns DNA being manipulated to give us extra fierce soldiers –this isn’t a new idea. The concept of the formidable soldier is common in fantasy but for me what was new was that the characters were splicing wolf genes into the soldiers to make them bigger, stronger, and fiercer.

And two of the alpha males – yes they are all alpha males in this story as they are members of the elite squad mentioned above – have been experimented on with these wolf genes with very different results. But many of the males and females in this series have extra abilities and they haven’t had wolf genes added, and the question never answered (but it was raised) in the books is – was there some gene manipulation going on in utero?

Interestingly, I am now reading another series of books where again canine DNA is inserted into soldiers to make them fiercer – the fantasy series of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter and Fairest.

Having come across this idea by two authors I thought I would look into what was happening with canine DNA and why this idea had come to these authors. And to my surprise found that canine DNA was being used for disease studies in humans [see the articles from the dmm.biologists organisation; National Geographic; Genome Research].

It appears that dogs get similar diseases to humans with the same genetic and environmental factors involved. These genes relate to diet and digestion, and neurological processes and disease which have evolved parallel in both species due to living in the same shared environment. These shared diseases include obesity, OCD, epilepsy, and cancers especially breast cancer (cancer is twice as common in dogs as in humans), and retinal diseases including cataracts.

Dogs only share 84% of our DNA  as compared to chimpanzees – 98.8%, monkeys – 93% and mice 90%, but we share some 360 genetic disorders with them, even though some of these only occur in 40% of dog breeds such as the Doberman Pinchers with inherited narcolepsy which has enable scientists to understand the molecular mechanisms of regulating sleep. And the last item explains something about why these stories include Dobermans as they were clearly being used in the genetic research of the organisation.

And I also looked into Tollers as they were a new breed of dog to me. Not that that’s saying a lot as there are so many new breeds appearing at the moment…nova-scotia-duck-tolling-retriever

So the basic stories were about criminal behaviour, kidnapping, torture and unusual experiments and general mayhem and brave deeds by the alpha males with feisty females assisting using their special powers. A good mix of fantasy and war stories, with some organised fraud and crime thrown in for good measure.

I really enjoyed all 3 of these books and am inclined to give them all 5 stars.

Xmas by the SeaSide

Winter Street

_ The inn

by

Elin Hildebrand

A NetGalley Review

Winter Street inn is in Nantucket.  This was once a whaling town and island and rather boisterous in its past life. But now is very sedate and even boasts a private resort. nantucket

It is normally considered a summer holiday resort with sandy beaches  and a population of less than 11,000 and as of April 2015 an unemployment rate of 5% as many of its inhabitants are involved in the tourist trade.

However, there is a lot of competition amongst the tourist accommodation – and looking on the ‘real’ visitor site there are over 40 places offering B&B or calling themselves Inns or Hotels on the island, not to mention the privately rented homes and now of course Airbnb will be available. With a US economy  that is struggling, taking holidays that are expensive, is one option many families are willing to forgo.  Reuters state that consumers now expect deals and discounting for most products that they purchase and this must surely apply to holidays as much as any other purchase.  And with the  discounting, travel abroad may become more viable and additionally, in Nantucket the island is very quiet indeed at Xmas and of the 40 plus places I found on the island listing only 2 or 3 were open at Xmas. It thus is perhaps not a place to spend anything other than a very quiet indeed break.

Note here. My husband and I have often gone away just after Xmas to seaside resorts in the UK and it is almost impossible to find somewhere to eat or to spend time in out of the bad weather. We much prefer to go somewhere warmer!

So back the fictional Inn.

There are a cast of characters that represents what one might call a ‘normal’ family now in the US. A family of many parts where there have been divorces and children mixed from many relationships. Siblings, half-siblings and step siblings all mingle together. Fathers, mothers, step mothers and aunts, uncles, step aunts and so it goes on.

Each of the chapters in the book is written from a different character’s viewpoint but not repeating the action – moving the story along from their vantage of here comes Xmas Eve – can they come? Do they want to come? Who turns up anyway because of what else happens in their life – and so the Inn collects its family together.

And then Xmas Day comes along and there are traditions from the first family and then the second family and which shall be enacted? And thus what food should be cooked?

I found that the writing style just carried you forward in time and space and characters and their lives as each time a character ‘spoke’ their chapter you knew their musings and emotions as events took place.

I found this a very appealing book.

4 stars

Just how do you catch a member of the aristocracy?

The Viscount’s Xmas Temptation

By

Erica Ridley

If you can manage a Duke’s household- surely you can find yourself a husband in two weeks?

After all managing to triple your dowry in three years must surely make you eligible to someone?

But you need (want?) a title for your children, so no barons or viscounts. No going down the nobility hierarchy and marrying beneath you when your father was a Duke and your brother is too. Chart_of_Social_Hierarchy_of_England

And you don’t want to be bored so you need occupation – suitable of course – so you need to find a way to meet the eligible men, and the answer of course is a ball. To be organised within 11 days no less.

And instead of a memory palace, there is a memory pantry. Items are filed under the letters of the alphabet and then associated with items in the pantry eg F would give you flour and you would associate flour with whatever you were trying to remember, something light and white and powdery probably.

And just when was the wet t-shirt invented? Clearly 1815 – masked balls with dampened muslin dresses to make them transparent!

And remember the lack of underwear as we know it… especially at night when bosoms were frequently on show – often to an extreme…

muslin dress

If you want know something more about muslin dresses then go to: https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/muslin-muslin-versatile-cloth-for-regency-fashion/ where there is a good article/s explaining the cloth and dresses etc.

And http://www.rakehell.com/article.php?id=387 has a good article explaining undergarments and what type of dress was worn when.

I liked this book and the heroine – she really appealed to me. An independent minded person with a mind that was incredibly organised (mine isn’t but I would refer you back to my discussion of memory palaces last year) and who knew what she wanted and how to go about getting it.

4 stars.

 

 

chocolate cake

Craving something sweet for Xmas?

Xmas Cravings

By

Emma Hamilton

A very sweet and quite short story.

If artificial sweeteners were definitely never used by ‘Greedily Yours’, one might even say saccharine sweet.

That said it is full of humour. I read a short piece out to my book group from her ‘blogging’ excerpts and they all giggled and confessed that they could visualise very clearly the happening described. 10 random people, including 2 librarians, a GP and a dental surgeon all liked the excerpt which shows that the author speaks clearly to a woman who has ever tried to bake a special cake and failed. And also, that her style of writing is clear, humorous, and well written that our visual cortices were engaged.

Now whilst I appreciate that Mia, the heroine of this story, likes her running and exercise, I am still very concerned for her cholesterol level and arteries. There really is no need to roast a duck and then baste the potatoes in the fat AND add the fat to the vegetables. Too much similarity of flavour surely and far too much fat… try a little butter and sugar and red wine vinegar in the red cabbage and try roasting potatoes in extra virgin cold pressed organic if possible, rapeseed oil, and taste the difference!

Cold pressed rapeseed oil is a ‘good mood’ food. It contains essential fatty acids and these will boost brain power, stabilise moods, balance hormones and reduce inflammation. So an excellent oil to use and can be cooked at a high heat as well as drizzled over salad etc and has a lovely taste to add to stir fries.

I enjoyed this short read especially the ‘blog’ excerpts and the chatty style of writing.

4 stars.

Billionaires need love too

Love Dies Hard
C.C. Cartwright
(Billionaire Romance #1 (Includes Bonus of Love Dies Hard 2))
Publication date: May 17th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

My name is Marcus Hunter. I own Hunter Investments, a billion dollar hedge fund.

I admit it, I’m a total womanizer. A player, a serial-seducer, call me what you like.

I enjoy a variety of women and I don’t do love.

I work hard, and I play even harder.

I rarely dip into the office pool. That was until I became intrigued with Sophie Shawn. She is a high-flying money manager like myself and we’ve had to work closely together.

Sophie’s my equal, she’s smart, sharp-witted and of course she has to be sexy-as-hell.

The way she shakes her little ass in her tight, short skirts has me wanting to bury myself deep inside her.

We’re enjoying a drink together after work.

She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to bed her tonight. I want to hear her beneath me begging for more. When I’m done with her she won’t be able to utter a single coherent word.

Little did I know, I would be the one in for a surprise from Miss Sophie Shawn.

Goodreads / Amazon US / Amazon UK

Love Dies Hard -Book 1- will be FREE on December 5th & 6th!

Get the rest of the series here:

Love Dies Hard 3
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Love Dies Hard 4
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Love Dies Hard 5
Amazon US
Amazon UK

3book bookfour Couple indoors

EXCERPT:

We’re sitting at the bar in the restaurant downstairs from the offices of Hunter Investments. Sophie and I have put in long hours this week and we need to unwind. I can think of the perfect way to unwind and she’s sitting right next to me looking oh-so-damn sexy. Her dress slits open in the front and I think I catch a glimpse of, what is that, a garter and stockings?
I’m in trouble; she catches me looking.
“Like what you see, Marcus?” she says, as the words roll off those luscious red lips of hers.
“I do. I do indeed,” I say, as my eyes cast down to her breasts straining against the fabric of her low cut dress.
She lets out a soft laugh as she takes a sip of her wine.
“Have dinner with me,” I tell her.
“Alright,” she accepts my invitation.
“What are you in the mood for?” I ask.
“You,” she replies, and I’m not sure I heard her right.
“Excuse me?” I ask.
“You heard me,” she says, staring at me seductively.
Sophie is getting me so hot; I have to loosen my tie.
“Let’s eat first,” I say with a wicked smile.
“Suit yourself. You choose the place,” Sophie says.
“Let’s eat here,” I suggest.
“Sounds good,” she says, leaning into me as she slides off her bar stool and spreads her legs to make sure I can see up her skirt. Her silky dress pulls tightly across her breasts. Maybe we should skip dinner…
Once we close the door to her luxurious apartment and she puts her things down, she starts walking into her bedroom while she’s unbuttoning the front of her dress and sliding off its belt.
My feet are rooted in place as she leaves me standing in the entryway of her lavishly decorated apartment and I’m not sure what to make of this.
“Get in here,” she calls out to me from her bedroom.
Just like that, no foreplay? Damn, she’s throwing me off my game big time; she almost makes me nervous.
I walk slowly towards her room and she’s sprawled out sexily on her king size bed in the most alluring black lace lingerie. My heart stops. All she is wearing now is a black lace bra that she fills out nicely, then my eyes travel down to her shapely waistline where I see her black lace garter belt that looks amazing on her curves. Next, I see her black lace panties and sheer black stockings covering her long, lean legs, down to the tips of her toes.
She’s posed like a pin-up, and she looks so sexy. I immediately rise to the occasion.
“Strip,” she commands as she rolls over to turn on her iPod player.
I do as I’m told; this girl is stealing all of my lines.
Unbelievable.
I strip down to my tight black briefs and climb on top of her, then my lips crash down onto those ruby red lips of hers that I can’t wait to have wrapped around me.

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Author Bio:

My passions lie in reading and writing sexy contemporary romance novels. I love writing in the genre I love to read. Personal experiences are often the inspiration for my sexy romances, so you will find a little bit of me in every story I pen. I will leave you to guess which parts are true and which parts are fiction!

Listening to my favorite music while writing inspires me to create my characters and makes their love stories come alive. I believe in writing about heroines who are strong, smart, sassy, sexy and have a sense of humor.

I cherish my family and am a hopeless romantic. I believe in finding your happily-ever-after and that each day is for living, loving and laughing.

XO,

Christine

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Wicked? Or?

Wicked Beautiful
J.T. Geissinger
Publication date: December 1st 2015
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

Life coach and best-selling author Victoria Price has it all: a successful career, fabulous friends, a fantastic penthouse in Manhattan. What she doesn’t have—and doesn’t want—is a husband. Fifteen years ago her high school flame broke her heart so badly she swore she’d never love again. Now she makes millions teaching other women how to be just like her: a ruthless bitch.

Drop-dead sexy restauranteur and infamous playboy Parker Maxwell has only three rules for the women he dates: no questions about his past, no expectations for the future, and no spending the night. When he meets Victoria, however, he’s willing to break his own rules if it means sating the explosive desire she arouses in him. What he doesn’t know is that the alluring Victoria Price used to be the mousy Isabel Diaz, the girl he deflowered and dumped long ago.

Presented with a perfect opportunity for revenge, Victoria decides the game is on. But when her connection with Parker proves more than just skin deep, she has to make a choice: continue with her plan for payback, or risk her career, her reputation, and her heart by taking a second chance on love?

Goodreads / Amazon

Teaser15

 

Author Bio:

J.T. Geissinger is an award winning and #1 internationally best-selling author of smart, sexy romance.

She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and was a finalist for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America. Her work has also finaled in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.

Cat lover, wine enthusiast, and nap connoisseur, she lives in California with her husband, on whom all her heroes are based.

To receive notification of new releases, sign up for her newsletter at http://www.jtgeissinger.com

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