Review: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

  
I read so much Kristan Higgins that I thought this novel would be just like her Blue Heron romances. I was wrong. Though Kristan’s signature wit is ever-present, If You Only Knew is a more serious take on relationships, both romantic and familial.  

Jenny Tate’s fickle husband divorced her and remarries… yet wants Jenny to remain his best friend. Jenny’s sister Rachel gives marriage and motherhood her all, only to find out her husband thinks she’s boring. Jenny and Rachel’s mom is no help at all, using passive aggressiveness to ensure she’s always the center of sympathy. 

I love how Jenny and Rachel navigate their romantic relationships with each other’s love and support. Higgins shows that sometimes our love induces good intentions… that the receiver doesn’t really want. For example, when Rachel needs a shoulder to cry on, she doesn’t want Jenny to judge her husband, but Jenny doesn’t know any other way to defend her sister! Higgins wrote it so real that I could believe I was with my own sister, navigating our own real life issues. 🙂

Higgins’s characters develop realistically, also. They come to emotional crossroads that push them to change gradually. Jenny’s downstairs neighbor wasn’t ready for a relationship at first because he was, frankly, depressed. Higgins gives Leo plenty of turning points and opportunities for change before illustrating his healing. 

Lest you think this is a melodrama, let me tell you there are plenty of laughs. Jenny’s dress-shop right-hand man is sarcastic and cynical and hilarious. One bride’s Momzilla gives everyone a run for their money, and Higgin’s description of her expressions is AWESOME. 

If You Only Knew has lust, laughter, and lunacy, but it also takes a peek at the serious side of love. It isn’t the Kristan Higgins that I expected; it’s even more. 

-calliope

Buy IF YOU ONLY KNEW

EXCERPT: The Shadow, by Sylvain Reynard

The Shadow I am so excited to post this excerpt!! I can’t wait for this new book to come out! I am a HUGE fan of Sylvain Reynard and I know I’m going to love this one as well.

EXCERPT
Raven watched as William efficiently disrobed, neatly folding every article of black clothing (with the exception of underwear, which he never wore), and placing it on the vanity.

She brushed imaginary lint from her dress as he stood in front of her, naked.

He was under six feet in height, his body lean and strong. Raven took a moment to appreciate the definition of his muscled chest and abdomen, and the strong cast to his thighs. Not even a statue carved by the most talented sculptor could create a being with so much perfection.

His face put her in mind of an angel with intense, gray eyes that now looked at her expectantly.

She hid her face. “You said you loved me.”

“I did. What’s more, I meant it.”

“Love is a peculiar thing. I’ve seen it. I’ve even cheered for it. But I never believed it was for me.”

“Why shouldn’t a beautiful, fierce young woman hope for love?”

“Because, as you put it, human beings are shallow.”

“Love is deep.” His rich voice echoed in the bathroom.

“Love is having the power to destroy another person.”

William stepped closer. “Are you afraid of being destroyed?”

“Destroyed, consumed, betrayed.” She fidgeted with the neckline of her gown.

William placed his hand over hers, stilling it. “Love creates; it doesn’t destroy.”

His lips found the place where her neck met her shoulder. He kissed her leisurely, tracing the path of her bared collarbone with his mouth.

His fingers brushed her zipper. “Let me.”

He undid her dress, dropping it to the marble tiles.

Her bra followed. She was as naked as he.

His eyes roved her body appraisingly. His pale fingers caressed her cheek, her mouth, and her neck. His strong hands cupped her breasts, her abdomen, and her hips.

His gray eyes met hers.

“The power you describe is the power you have here.” He touched her forehead before moving his hand to cover her heart. “And here. It’s the power you have over me. Power I haven’t yielded to another since I was human.”

He brought his lips to her ear. “Your fears are shared.”

With a slow kiss on her neck, he led her into the shower, standing behind her underneath a tropical rainfall showerhead.

Raven closed her eyes and lifted her face, like a flower following the sun. The warm water soaked her hair and streamed down the generous curves of her body.

“I’ve never showered with another person. What happens next?” William rested his hands on her shoulders.

She wiped the water from her face.

“Whatever you want. Just don’t let me fall.”

William’s gaze dropped to her right leg, which she was favoring.

“Is the pain terrible?”

“It’s worse after I’ve been lying down. Sometimes I topple over.”

William spread his arm around her waist, drawing her back to his chest. “Then I must be sure to catch you.”

She kissed him, reaching up to run her fingers through his wet hair as the water poured down their shoulders.

Her motions were fraught with an eagerness born of love and affection and the relief of remembering she hadn’t lost him.

He was hers.

Even now, naked, with a myriad of flaws few men overlooked, he embraced her. He embraced her imperfections.

He loved her.

His cool hands scorched her skin, splaying fingers wide over her abdomen and bringing her backside into contact with what rose between his hips.

She gave him her weight and he held firm, nipping and licking at her lips before enticing her to enter his mouth.

He entertained the intrusion for a moment or two then, with a growl, he spun her around, pressing their chests together.

Raven looked up into blazing gray eyes.

“Are you certain?”

She nodded.

“I need the words, Raven. I need to know you want this.”

“I want you.”

He took her mouth, his tongue alternately penetrating and retreating in a sensual rhythm.

She tilted her head, welcoming him, as the water continued to rain down.

Hands roamed over slick skin as their lower bodies came into alignment. She touched his neck, his shoulders, his biceps, holding them tightly in an effort to remain upright.

William was not a tame lover.

In his arms, she sensed his control, his desire, and the war that waged between the two. But he’d never harmed her and had always focused his attention on giving pleasure before taking it. Usually more than once.

“You’re a dream,” she sighed. “A dream of love I never thought I’d have.”

His eyes burned into hers.

Without warning, he lifted her, tugging her thighs around his hips.

He lowered his mouth to her breasts, tasting and teasing before sucking droplets of water from her eager flesh.

She wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling him eager between her legs.

He lifted her higher, hands beneath her backside, making sure he was correctly aligned.

“Breathe,” he commanded, his eyes boring in to hers.

Here was the vampyre, proud and powerful, teetering on the edge of control. He bared his teeth as if on instinct and his chest rumbled.

“Just don’t break me,” she whispered, pushing a lock of blond hair from his forehead.

William’s expression grew even more fierce.

“I won’t break you. Whatever harm I bring to you I vow to heal.”

He swallowed her reply with his kiss. Then with a single thrust, he entered her.

His kisses were as fierce as his movements as he pushed inside and withdrew, over and over. His grip on her backside tightened as he lifted and moved her in concert with his own motion.

Raven clung to him, her hand trailing to his lower back so she could urge him deeper.

Not that he needed the encouragement.

Her breasts brushed against his chest, the friction teasing and arousing.

She ignored the warm spray of the water, the scent of soap and William, and the nagging discomfort in her leg and ankle. Her focus was on feeling as he brought her swiftly to the brink of orgasm.

Before she could signal how close she was, she climaxed, her hand clutching his neck as she threw her head back.

William continued his pace until she’d finished, his mouth dropping to her breasts, drawing one of them into his mouth.

When she opened her eyes, she found him staring at her hungrily.

“I have only begun,” he rasped. “Breathe.”

Be sure to preorder The Shadow (Florentine series)

Make sure you get caught up with the series first.
Prince
The Prince: A Gabriel’s Inferno/Florentine Series Novella
USTR
The Raven (Florentine series Book 1)

Review: Capture by Rachel VanDyken

Designed grunge paper texture, background

Designed grunge paper texture, background

Oh, my happy little heart. This book was quite a sweet read.

Dani blames herself for her parent’s death. After a trauma like that she lost the ability to speak. She functions with texting. She’s lost many friends over this, and people think she’s snotty or just acting. She wishes she could just open her mouth and say the words, but she can’t. It’s not a life she wants, but no matter what she does, she can’t break through this barrier.

Lincoln Green goes through assistants a bit more often than he wishes, so when he hires a non speaking Dani, he hopes this might work in his favor.

Dani is very nervous working the hot actor, but there’s something about him. He’s super funny and very patient with her. Soon she finds herself falling for the guy who is so out of her league, but, at the same time, seems to be just what she needs.

I positively loved this sweet story. My heart broke for Dani and the way she struggled. We each function differently and handle trauma the same way. I am so glad this was shown in a positive light. I wanted to reach in and give her a hug and tell her it’s ok.

I was so happy to see all the Seaside gang there. It was fun. And also there was a nice surprise tucked in there, and that REALLY made me happy. Well done, Rachel!!

~Melpomene

Buy Capture (Seaside Pictures Book 1)

Review, Blog Tour, & Giveaway: Friction by Sandra Brown

FrictionTourBanner

**Be sure to check the links at the end to enter the giveaway**

25114548I haven’t read Sandra Brown in years. This book is a big reminder that I shouldn’t overlook authors just because I’ve read them and because they are well known….yes, there are some authors out there that I believe have gotten lax over the years and taken their popularity for granted, not putting out their best efforts, however, Brown has shown me in this novel that she isn’t one of them.

From the very first chapter, I couldn’t read fast enough to hear all of Crawford Hunt’s story. Hunt is a Texas Ranger that is seeking back custody of his five-year old daughter, Georgia. After an unexpected episode happens during the custody proceedings, Ranger Hunt finds himself as the rescuer of the sitting family court Judge Holly Spencer. Once this happens the action never stops.

I loved this book, but I couldn’t help to be to look for some unexpected twist. Some hidden motives behind the obvious that made some of the characters act out the way they did. That never really happened. However, that doesn’t mean I was disappointed. Sometimes, as in real life, people hold onto the past and let it dictate how they act in the present. So although I found some of the storyline a stretch, in other ways, I found that maybe at the end of the day, those stretches, in fact, kept the story real to life.

I believe Ranger Hunt’s behavior in the past was a bit “gun-ho” and, indeed, reckless. As much as it pains me to say, I found his behavior, many times, in this book the exact same way. I couldn’t believe how he handled some of the situations. TBF, yes, it would have been nice to see that he was less reckless now as the years went on…but is life really that way? I don’t imagine he will ever change. He will always be reckless, however, his heart is often in the right place, and his intentions always seem to be. The fact that I even say that about a fictional character just points out how much I really enjoyed this book!

Whilst I didn’t think Judge Spencer acted reckless in her past, I did find some of her behaviour in the present a bit reckless. Having said that, I can’t exactly say I wouldn’t have acted the exact same way if I were in the same situation. At the end of the day there were several characters I really enjoyed in the novel. I genuinely wanted things to turn out okay for them as well.

Bottom line, I started this book and couldn’t put it down. I enjoyed it from start to finish. Once I finished the novel I was sad that my adventure was over and I was already worried about trying to pick up another book that would leave me half as satisfied as this one did.

If you’re a Sandra Brown fan this book will not disappoint you. If you’ve never read Sandra Brown, this book should convince you to become a fan. Finally, if you’re like me and just a lax fan that’s been away for a few years, this book will remind you of what a fun writer she is! Don’t hesitate, run out and grab your copy now!!!

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley, Grand Central Publishing, and Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review

Follow the rest of today’s Sandra Brown Friction tour right Here

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Giveaway <a href="http://a Rafflecopter giveaway “>10x coffee cup plus a signed copy of Friction

Review: Be My Valentino by Sandra D. Bricker 

  

This second book in the Jessie Stanton series finds Jessie and Danny developing their relationship, the Feebs taking liberties with Jessie’s new life, and Jack Stanton getting a little bit of what he deserves. You’ll also find yummy shopping, fancy clothes wearing,  and charming dates. 

I enjoyed this book – love the characters, the detective work and the faith aspect. I’m ambivalent about Danny. He seems too good to be true. I guess I expect that in a straight up romance, but not in a mystery series, as light as it might be. I do appreciate Danny’s love for Jessie, the entrepreneurial spirit of Ms. Stanton (Hart!) — and the wonderful support of her friends. 

The writing seemed to be a little looser than usual for a Bricker read. Overuse of the word “snickered” bothered me for some reason, and some of the chapters could have been tightened up. 

I like Bricker’s talent for continuity, and for integrating faith issues in a realistic and subtle way. 

I’m awaiting book number 3! 

-calliope

Buy BE MY VALENTINO

Review: Stormfront by K.R.Conway

01 stoAnother fun and exciting installment!! Stormfront takes place right after Undertow, so the action never stops. So you MUST read it first.

Eila has a lot to accomplish in this book. Besides trying to heal up after the Breakers incident, she must learn how to control her power and not kill herself in the process. She has so much power that needs to be tapped, in order for her to properly defend herself. She can’t always rely on Raef, Kian, RJ and Ana to be there.

In the midst of all the training and fighting for their lives, a few new things pop up. Raef and Eila realize that they can’t be apart. They mean to much to each to try and back away anymore. I was hope this would happen. 🙂 We find out exactly who Christian is, in all of this. I knew there was something special about him!! And let’s not forget Rillian!! Oh my gosh! What a surprise he was. I never would’ve thought of him as an asset.

This group of misfits have each other’s backs and will do everything they can to help Eila grow to her full potential. They all love each other and will fight to the death, in a heartbeat, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

I can’t wait to read the next book and see Eila come into her own. And after that last sentence!!! GAH!!!! I NEED IT NOW!!!!

~Melpomene

Buy Stormfront (Undertow Book 2)

Grab Undertow first and get caught up.

Review: Malevolent by Jana DeLeon

51bf4t0pbbL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_There’s something to be said for a good murder mystery. I hesitate to use the term “cozy mystery” because that’s always seemed like such a contradiction to me. But still. I’m not talking about one of the serious psychological thrillers full of blood and gore that leaves you sleeping with the lights on for a week. What I like from time to time is a well-written mystery with a little bit of murder thrown in for good measure. And this introduction to a new series from Jana DeLeon fits that description perfectly.

Shaye Archer is finally getting her life on track after a traumatic childhood, to say the least. And she’s realizing her dream of owning her own business with the opening of a private investigator business. But before all the furniture is even delivered, her first client shows up at her door. Emma has had trauma of her own, escaping her abusive husband only by killing him. So then how can he be stalking her if he’s dead? When she enlists Shaye to help her find the answers she so desperately needs, both of them find themselves in greater danger than they could ever have imagined.

This is a great mystery with great characters. The story moves along nicely, and there’s plenty of suspense along with a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I especially love the lead character, Shaye, and can’t wait to dive in to her next adventure coming out this fall!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Malevolent (Shaye Archer Series Book 1)