2009 New Author Challenge, 5/5, Anthology, Historical Romance

47751778From the back of the book:

Lavinia Spencer has been saving her hard-earned pennies to provide her family with Christmas dinner. Days before the holiday, her brother is swindled, leaving them owing more than they can ever repay. Until a mysterious benefactor offers to settle the debt. Innocent Lavinia is stunned by what the dashing William White wants in return. Will she exchange a wicked gift for her family’s fortune?

This is the only new story in the anthology and my favorite of the three. It has a completely different take on a historical. Instead of a Duke and Duchess as the main characters, we have a woman who works for her family’s lending library and a man who works as an accountant. William Q. White (which has to be among my top 10 character names) saves all of his money so that he can buy a subscription to the library and instantly becomes enamored of Lavinia. Lavina is equally impressed with William Q. White (and yes I have to type the whole thing – just like Lavinia likes to call him by the whole thing), and when her younger brother makes a mistake with dire consequences she isn’t afraid to turn to him. I just loved everything about this novella and I cannot wait to read Ms. Milan’s first novel, PROOF OF SEDUCTION in 2010!

the book girl gives THIS WICKED GIFT a 5/5!!

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Courtney Milan

2009 New Author Challenge, 5/5

37699146From the back of the book

: HE SPECIAL OPS HERO FEARED NOTHING— UNTIL HE MET A WOMAN TOO HOT TO HOLD.…

Lieutenant Jake Hansen has survived some of the riskiest missions known to man. But now the wounded Navy SEAL faces his toughest job yet: smuggling Dr. Isabelle Markham out of Africa without triggering an international incident. Not easy to do when the gorgeous hostage happens to be a senator’s daughter—and about as easy to resist as an oasis in the desert.

If it weren’t for Jake, Isabelle would still be halfway across the world, where rebel forces left her for dead. The special ops warrior may have saved her life, but she doesn’t need him to protect her now. Tell that to the ruggedly handsome hunk in full battle fatigues who’s just been assigned as Isabelle’s personal bodyguard. Close quarters aside, Isabelle won’t let Jake anywhere near her heart—until danger throws them together again. And nothing in the jungles of wildest Africa could prepare them for a passion this wild. This crazy. This hot…

This is the first in an exciting new trilogy. I have been reading a lot of holiday themed books lately and this was just what I needed. HARD TO HOLD is fast-paced, action-packed, and hot. I loved all of the characters. Izzy and Jake are both incredible people, who have been through incredible things. Things that would break a weaker person and yet they both have survived. I felt that the connection between the two was very well written with my particular favorite part being that she would reach for his hand even when he wasn’t there. From the beginning I was caught up in the suspense of why someone would hurt Izzy. I cannot wait to read the next two books in the series. I definitely want to find out more about Jake’s brothers – Nick and Chris.

the book girl gives HARD TO HOLD a 5/5

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Stephanie Tyler

2009 New Author Challenge, 3/5, Holiday Romance, Paranormal Romance

38223529From the back of the book:

Snow on the roofs and wreaths on the doors and chains on the tires…isn’t Christmas in New England wonderful? But Charlotte Prescott is too busy taking in super-sexy reporter Sam Landry to notice the nip in the air. Make that the nip in the air alternating with the scorching heat that rises whenever she and Sam are alone together. Charlotte would be happy to forget the supernatural third wheel who seems to be staying for the season in the quaint old house she inherited. It is real. Someone’s slurping down all the good eggnog. And something is drawing Charlie and Sam together under the mistletoe – not to mention everywhere else. Happy holidays!

This book worked for me on some levels and not on others. I loved the relationship being built between Charlie and Sam, but could have done without the ghosts. What seemed like it should be a major plot point, Charlie’s house being haunted, was really a very little part of the book. It set up the reason for Sam and Charlie to meet, but that was about it and the resolution happens so quickly that I almost missed it. I thought the book was just okay and not really what I expected it to be.

the book girl gives CHRISTMAS SPIRIT a 3/5

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2009 New Author Challenge, 4/5, Contemporary Romance

39078331From the back of the book:

Beau Hasn’t Got A Lick Of Sense When IT Comes To Women

Everything hunky rancher “Lucky”  Beau Luckadeau touches turns into gold – except relationships. He’s gone and lost track of the woman of his dreams, and now he’s got himself tied up with a god-digger…

Milli Can Mend A Fence, Pull A Calf, Or Shoot A Rattlesnake Between The Eyes

When spitfire Milli Torres shows up to help out at the Lazy Z ranch, she’s horrified to find that her nearest neighbor is Beau Luckadeau – the very man she’d hoped never to lay eyes on again…

And if Beau ever figures out what really happened on that steamy Louisiana night when they first met, there’ll be the devil to pay…


This was a fun read. I loved the stubborn and brash Milli Torres. She is definitely not your average heroine. Beau is a great character too. Lucky in everything but love, he is willing to settle down with a woman who isn’t quite right for him. He has a vulnerable streak that isn’t seen in many alpha male characters and it is written so that it doesn’t take away from him “alphaness”. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start, but they both fight for love. The only thing that bothered me was both characters pattern of speech. Living in Oklahoma, where the book is set, I don’t know anyone who talks the way the characters do. Not a problem that takes away from the story at all, just a little thing that bothered me. Still, I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, ONE LUCKY COWBOY.

the book girl gives LUCKY IN LOVE a 4/5.

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Carolyn Brown

2009 New Author Challenge, 5/5, Paranormal Romance

38875366From the back of the book:

It is at the request of Lord Gabriel Delessan that a Handmaiden of the Order of Solace is delivered to his grand manor house, a weathered stone mansion every bit as intimidating as he. Young and ingenuous Tranquilla Caden arrives to begin her new position of service 0 she is devoted to fulfilling every demand of her new master, to stimulating his mind, to stirring his soul, and to arousing his body.

Yet something happens that Quilla never counted on: she is falling hopelessly in love with the enigmatic man she is required only to service. A man who already has a wife. But that isn’t the only family secret her master holds – and it certainly won’t be the last to threaten Quilla’s most cherished and impossible desire.

This is a fantastic book. It takes place in an alternate universe (I think – there are a few things I couldn’t exactly figure out, but they didn’t hurt the story at all). The Order of Solace is a religious group of nun-like women who give themselves over in service to a master in order to provide pleasure and solace. They are to answer needs before they are known. It is a powerfully emotional book. The different dynamics between characters is amazingly done. I loved how Ms. Hart wrote deep into the secondary characters instead of them just being on the periphery. I can’t wait to read more by this author!

the book girl gives NO GREATER PLEASURE a 5/5!

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2009 New Author Challenge, 5/5, Erotic Romance

33927507From the back of the book:

A couple plays an illicit game…

After fifteen years together, Alexander and Olivia Quinn have become strangers, both in and out of the bedroom. When Alex is tempted to stray, Olivia steps in with a bold plan to save their marriage: She’ll allow him seven nights of decadent pleasure with anyone he chooses…if he confesses to each liaison in explicit detail. And if he agrees to accept his wife’s wicked punishments.

…but seven sins may be one too many.

Jason Strickland is the Quinns’ new neighbor – quiet, mysterious, and no stranger to the darker side of sexuality. Though he knows he should resist, he becomes a willing player in Olivia’s provocative game. But before the last confession, this simple, sensual bargain will ensnare them all in a maelstrom of passion and danger. Because there’s something about Jason that no one knows – a secret that will lead to a web of betrayal and a plot for murder.

This books was way out of my comfort zone, I don’t usually go for books where one (or both) of the people in the marriage cheats. I’m trying to read at least a couple things a month that aren’t what I would normally pick. There have been a couple of DNFs, but this definitely wasn’t one of them. I loved this book. There is a perfect combination of emotion, suspense and really hot sex. Alex and Olivia are still in love with each other, their respective careers have just gotten in the way. They weren’t spending enough time with each other and drifted apart. Olivia is willing to do anything to save her marriage, even giving Alex the freedom to be with other women. I don’t think this would be practical in real life, but made for some amazing fiction.

the book girl gives WHEN ALEX WAS BAD a 5/5!

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Jo Davis

2009 New Author Challenge, 3/5, Contemporary Romance

44537944From the back of the book:

At sixteen, Dakota Dunn was America’s Pop Princess. Now twenty-five, she’s all grown up and washed up. She decides to head to her parents’ lakefront retreat in Tennessee, fixing to write some new songs and transform her image from squeaky-clean to kickin-country.

Turns out, while she was in L.A., her folks handed over the operations to sexy, cranky cowboy Trace Coleman, a former bull-riding champion benched by injuries. He’s not too happy about Dakota’s arrival and makes no secret of it. Although Trace is rough around the edges, Dakota feels a pull of attraction she can’t quite shake. For all his brooding, Trace has an animal magnetism that may just lead Dakota to dig in her heels and hold on tight.

This book was fun! I loved Trace and his grumpy exterior. Dakota took some getting used to, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like her and Trace together, but it did work for me. I am a sucker for the wounded hero so Trace was my favorite character. There isn’t really much I can say about the book other than it was a fun read, but lacking in emotional depth. I thought that there could have been more diving into the emotional needs of both main characters instead of just their sexual needs.

the book girl gives HE’S NO PRINCE CHARMING a 3/5

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LuAnn McLane

2009 New Author Challenge, 3/5, Contemporary Romance

trip-with-a-tycoon From the back of the book:

First Stop: the Taj Mahal

Determined to forget her husband’s infidelity and bring her confident, fiery self back, Tamara Rayne is in India on a trip of a lifetime. Love isn’t on her itinerary, so she hardly notices when blast from her past Ethan Brooks boards her train…

Next Stop: a dream proposal?

The maverick entrepreneur has wanted Tamara ever since he met her. Under the shimmer of the Indian sun, Ethan decides he’s waited long enough…

This book was a hit and a miss for me. I loved the descriptions of India. The food that the characters talked about and the places that they visit made me long to see and taste the same things. The romance between Tamara and Ethan left me cold. I just couldn’t see a connection between the characters. The seemed one dimensional and flat to me. In my opinion there just wasn’t a reason (other than sex) for this couple to be together.

the book girl gives A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON 3/5!

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Nicola Marsh

2009 New Author Challenge, 4/5

ruined_cover-2From the book jacket:

Rebecca Brown couldn’t feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to live while her dad is away on business. She’s staying in a creepy house with her aunt Claudia, who reads tarot cards for a living. And at the snooty prep school, a pack of filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she’s invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to five Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he’s got a hidden agenda.

Then one night, among the oak trees in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to show Revecca the nooks and crannies of New Orleans. There’s just on catch.

Lisette is a ghost.

A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.

As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend – and as she begins to trust Anton Grey – she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?

This was a very good read. The book takes many twists and turns and leads the reader on an adventure. The main plot is Rebecca trying to learn more about Lisette’s past and to find out how to right the wrongs that she finds. I was completely drawn in by the history and description of post-Katrina New Orleans. I think the way the author did this was the highlight of the book. The book is a young adult book, and the only thing that I didn’t enjoy was the school dynamic that Rebecca has to face. I also expected this to be a scary story since it is called “A Ghost Story”, but there isn’t anything scary about the book.

the book girl gives RUINED 4/5!

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2009 New Author Challenge, 3/5, YA

361356151From the back of the book:

Callie falls head over heels – literally!

Callie is tired of being a clumsy geek-girl. So during a school trip to London she buys her ticket to popularity: a pair of real Prada pumps. But then she wobbles on the cobblestones, trips in her too-high heels, and conks her head. When she comes to, it’s the year 1815!

Luckily she meets kindhearted Emily, who mistakes Callie for a long-lost friend. Sparks soon ignite – of the nice and not-so-nice variety – between Callie and Alex, the handsome but totally arrogant Duke of Harksbury. Too bad Alex seems to have something sinister up his ruffled sleeve…

Can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, win a kiss from Alex, and prove to herself that she’s more than just a loud-mouth klutz before her time in the past is up?

This was a cute read, but there were some things that threw me out of the story. The thing I liked about the story is: Callie is transformed as she pretends to be Rebecca in 1815.  She goes from a shy, clumsy girl to a confident young lady. My main problem with the story was Callie’s age. In 2009 she is 15 years old, but in 1815 she is at least 18 because she is the same age as Emily who has already had a season and is engaged. Plus, Alex is drawn to her and he is, in Callie’s estimation (although I’m not sure if it is ever confirmed), 19. I just couldn’t get past the thought that she was a child.

the book girl gives PRADA & PREJUDICE 3/5!

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Mandy Hubbard