Knight in shining armor is not doing anything

***this book is not available on Amazon – I bought on iTunes***

One Knight’s Bargain – Alexandra O’Hurley

Scale of 1 – 5: ♥ ♥ ♥♥

Synopsis

Knight Eustache bought a castle plus contents. This included its inhabitants- Sybille and her brothers. When he arrived to claim his property, Sybille was understandably concerned.

Opinion

Since this is a short story, there is not a lot of character development. But there is enough to discern a little insight as to their personalities.

The best word to describe Eustache is gruff. But the important part of this story is the fact that he loved her when she did not even know he existed. For him, it was love at first sight. From the time he fell in love with her, all he did was to position himself financially in order that he might have the chance to try to woo her. He was fortunate enough that her no-good father needed money and was willing to sell house plus inhabitants. When it was time to talk to Sybille, his words did not always convey the meaning he had in mind.

For Sybille’s part, she feared she had been sold to a brute of a man who would misuse and abuse her. This was an understandable worry on her part considering that women were many times exploited and mistreated. Eustache is a big man who could use his strength to force himself on Sybille if he wanted. However, their wedding night Eustache showed his softer, tender side. In the end, Eustache gets a home and family to call his own. And Sybille gets a husband who will love, care, and protect her.

Overall I really liked this precious short story. I do not usually read books from this era, but it was such a tender sweet romance, that it changed my opinion of the genre. By the end, I was cooing and wanted my own knight.

Then I realized, my hubby is my knight in not so shiny armor :)

Billionaire with so much heart


Heart Of The Billionaire: : (The Billionaire’s Obsession ~ Sam)♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis

Maddie is a doctor and the best friend of Kara from Billionaire’s Obsession. She is working a full-time job and operating a free clinic. Since Kara is marrying Sam’s brother, Simon, Maddie has to have some interaction with him. She tries to remain cordial and keep her emotional distance so he does not break her heart again. It does not help that he was her first love and she is still attracted to him.

In Billionaire’s Obsession, Sam is the older brother but the focus was on the trauma that Simon endured as a teenager. Heart Of The Billionaire, the focus is on Sam. He has his own scars and traumatic childhood stories. One thing is certain. He still has feelings for Maddie. He knows she hates him which dooms him to a life of loneliness. However, when the opportunities arises, Sam makes his move to make up for the lost time that Maddie was not in his life.

Opinion

In Kara’s story, I got glimpses of the history between Maddie and Sam, but was not sure what to make of it. Sam never said a bad word about Maddie but she called him “snake” and “man-whore”. It was easy to know who broke who’s heart.

I have not decided who I like more: Sam or Simon? After reading Kara and Simon’s story, I thought that an alpha male could not be any more infuriating. Enter Sam. He has a take-all sort of attitude. Maddie haunted Sam’s thoughts for years after they separated. During all that time, he has remained convinced that Maddie belongs with him. He gave up his chance years ago, but is not making that mistake a second time. He has a heavy-handed approach to matters that was humorous to me. On several occasions he told Maddie that they were getting married and she would remind him that he had not asked. It was funny because he could not understand why his business-like methods were not working to get her to do what he wanted her to do. Even Simon was giving him advice that he might not be using the best approach.

Sam: “I am marrying her. I already told her that.”
“Uh…did you actually ask her?” Simon inquired uneasily
Sam: “Nope…”

Maddie is more cautious. She is not going to let herself get hurt but she still has feelings for him.

She is trying to resist but he has his ways of being persuasive ***wink wink***

Kissing Sam was like putting a flame to gasoline, the ignition was almost immediate and white-hot.

Despite the amazing chemistry, I like that she was not head-over-heels gaga for him. The first time that Sam brought up marriage, she slapped him. Priceless. You go girl. When Sam explained everything, she did not automatically believe him either. I would have thought it was cheesy if she went from “I hate your guts” to “I love you so much” in an afternoon. Little by little, she was able to understand what was going on and why he did what he did. While she was understanding, she did not become a pushover. I love that about her character. She might love him, but she was not going to do what he said just because he demanded it. It does not matter if she really wants to do it. It’s the principle. Yea, I would be am that stubborn too.

At the heart of it, it is a sweet story. Sam is a lovable ultra alpha-male who has secrets that create his insecurities. He is trying to work past them and go for what he wants. Maddie has her own insecurities to battle against. They are two imperfect people who realize they are right for each other. At least they had open communication so there were only a few misunderstandings. Everything is cleared up in the end.

You probably have all sorts of questions- If he loved her so much, why did they break up? Usually I am all for spoilers, but this is one that you have read.

However, this story is VERY graphic (even more than Kara & Simon’s story) and contains explicit language. If that is not for  you, then send me a message and I will explain to you how the book ends.

I wholeheartedly agree with the author’s note: This novel is the complete story of Sam and Maddie, but reading The Billionaire’s Obsession – The Complete Collection (Simon and Kara’s story) first is highly recommended to enhance your reading pleasure.

These two books that I have read by author J. S. Scott have been delightful. I am not one usually to like such obsessive heroes, but for these stories, it works! I love these characters. I cannot wait to read more from this series.

French cooking and romance in Learning Curves


Learning Curves Bundle: French Cooking 101 – Advanced French Kissing – Detention – Graduation ♥♥

 

Synopsis

Ariane is a cooking instructor in Paris, France. Of her students, sparks fly with Peter, US man on vacation with his sister. His sister pairs off with another student from the class (side story which had little point to me, but any way). Ariane decides to have an affair with Peter. By the end of the first book, Peter is going to move to France to see continue the relationship.

It seemed that there would be happy-ever-after ending.

Wrong.

While Peter is in the US arranging his affairs so that he can return to France, Ariane is having conflicting emotions concerning her “friend-with-benefits” Patrick.

By the end of the second book, Peter returns, displaying disturbing behavior (red flag for the beginnings of an abusive relationship).

Opinion

The story started okay. I thought the romance was moving too fast but some harlequin-style stories are like that. By the end of French Cooking 101, I thought this was the standard novella.

In Advanced French Kissing, the storyline took a deep downward dive. It was tantamount to a car driving off of a cliff instead of into the sunset.

Yea. It was that drastic.

The person that Peter seemed to be in the first book was totally different from the jealous, controlling, borderline violent person in the second book.

Considering how hesitant Ariane was to begin the relationship, I would have thought that she would not have tolerated his behavior. She should have kicked him out and sent his packing back to the States. It seems that she is not the same person from the previous book either. She ignores the warning signs and almost appears to embrace them. The wording that sticks out in my mind is when she said she was “craving his violence”. I did not like that AT ALL. Domestic violence should in no way be romanticized.

When I finished reading Advanced French Kissing, I was confused.

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I was disgusted with Peter. I felt sorry for Ariane because she obviously made an incorrect relationship choice. I wished she had kept it going with Patrick.

I think the author is trying to set up the story to have plot twists and turns so that you want to read the next installment.

I was DONE. 

A military romance that needs proofreading


Ben (Semper Fi) – Jambrea Jones ♥♥

Synopsis

Maribeth (Mari) is determined to get her man (who is also her twin brother’s best friend). She has had a crush on him for years but it seems he does not feel the same way. Her main objective is to get him to see her as a woman and not just his friend’s sister.

Ben has noticed Mari for a while and feeling guilty that his thoughts are nowhere near being pure. He does not want to make a move in case it does not work out. In his mind, he would have lost two of his best friends.

Meanwhile, there is another side plot involving an attack on Mari’s life.

Opinion

Before I can get to the review, I must say there were an annoying amount of misspelled words in the Kindle version of  this book

Location 293 – defenceless

Location 1391 – kurb

Location 1430 – licence

There were more but I am not getting paid to edit and proofread. Jambrea Jones, fix those errors!

K-E-R-B?!?!? Really? Autocorrect was probably like, “Ummm I got nothing”

~~~~~Okay back to the review~~~~~~

Romance part of this book in a nutshell:

Ben: Must stay away from best friend’s sister.

Mari: I’m gonna get my man.

Ben: My big brain says “Must resist.” My little brain says “Lets bone.”

Mari: I got my man.

The end

Nothing new to see here.

Mari was pragmatic about their relationship and ready to get physical. “We’ve already wasted a few years, let’s not waste anymore.”

Cliché love story aside, there were several plot details about this story that annoyed me-

– Mari was foolish. She has someone break into her house and later beat her up, but she still goes into another situation without any caution and it nearly cost her life. Also, getting rid of the evidence that the people trying to kill want was not a smart move either.

– Fin (Mari’s brother) was not more upset with the circumstances surrounding Mari getting beaten within an inch of her life. Considering that she could have had a concussion, I would have thought he would have made her go to the doctor. Instead he takes her to her boyfriend’s house and there is the implication that she would be getting physical later. His sister gets beat up and he is not out for blood immediately?

– Ben’s injury was serious enough that he is home on leave but obviously not that bad that seeing how active as he was. How many times was Mari going to accidentally hit/knock his leg? It seemed all that abuse must have improved the healing process considering his bedroom acrobatics.

– Mari was too ditzy to put the puzzle pieces together as to the reason why her life was in danger. I do not believe for a second that she would have been able to solve why bad people were after her. We already established that she had no common sense. And she had been recently kicked in the head while face down in the gravel. Her words, “I’m sure I have a concussion or something.”

Side note: Mari’s busted up face would not have been sexy. She was trying to engage in foreplay with a black and blue, swollen face, which I imagine, looked more contorted than alluring. Ben’s thought process was “Even all beat up, she was gorgeous.” He should have been thinking “I need to get her to a hospital.” No. Let’s not be too sensible. Sleeping off a head injury after some between the sheets action is the best way to deal with that.

 

At first, I thought Ben (Semper Fi) was a 3 ♥♥♥ but the more I think about it, I have to give it a 2 ♥♥.

The plot foundation was an okay start: Marine romance with best friend’s sister. In an effort to make the story line different, the author added elements that did not fit together well. The villain was weak. Characters Ben and Mari did not connect with me. Some of the way that they behaved did not make sense while they were supposed to be reasonably intelligent individuals. He was a Marine colonel and she was a librarian. The story should have been better. Even the cover was mediocre to me.

Miami Cuban food – Que rica!

We were in Miami and Nana wanted some good Cuban food and whole fried red snapper. Being from Belize, this is the closest thing she can get to the food that she grew up eating.
My aunts and cousins said the place to go was Laguna.

Laguna Seafood Restaurant ~~ 2800 NW 7th Ave ~~ Miami, FL 33127

This restaurant is not exactly in the good part of town. In fact, the area looks depressed. It is surrounded by abandoned buildings and empty lots. Even the building that the restaurant is in needs a new coat of paint. The parking lot behind the building is part gravel, part dirt, and part pot hole.

However, I did not come here to look at the aesthetics of the building. I came here to eat.

It was July 5th and the giant movie screen TV was playing a World Cup match. I remember the date because we were planning to go July 4thbut there was a question whether they were open. I said probably not, but my uncle said they should be open every day. When my cousin called, no one answered the phone. We were not sure if they were busy or closed for the holiday. We decided if all of us were going to make the trek from various parts of South Florida, we needed to be 100% sure they would be open. And yes they were closed on July 4th.

The small restaurant of about 10-15 tables was packed (probably because of the game). Because our group was so large, we ended up sitting at a table that was right in front of the TV. The TV was so big though, we did not block the screen. The servers were courteous but did not talk much at first. When I ordered in Spanish, they seemed to perk up and be a little friendlier. Since it was so busy, none of them were making any extended chit-chat. Everyone did stop to look at the TV when there was a particularly tense moment that would decide which team would advance to the next level.

Nana and I ordered the medium fried fish. It comes with steamed rice, ripe plantains, and black beans. This is a carb dieter’s nightmare. Thankfully, I am not counting carbs (although I probably should). I do not like beans, so I ate my rice plain. I am glad that I got the medium fish instead of large as I originally planned. As hungry as I thought I was, I would not have been able to eat it. I ate half my fish, all my plantains, and half my rice.

The flavor of the breading on the fish was amazingly delicious. The fish was fried to perfection. It was tender and flaky with a delicate crunchy skin. I have had fried fish in a lot of places, and this was one of the top. I do not eat the head (I guess I am too Americanized), but Nana raved about it.

Overall, the food was very good and I definitely recommend their Cuban food (fried fish in particular).

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Guest Hope Clark reviews her fave bookstore in the Lowcountry

This guest post is by C. Hope Clark from www.chopeclark.com

The Edisto Bookstore – Edisto Island, SC

             If I owned a bookstore, this is what I’d want. A store just big enough to carry all the appropriate reading material anyone might need on a trip to the beach, and small enough to not overwhelm them with selection. And do I have to say it? It’s at the beach.

Edisto bookstore

Owner Karen Carter established The Edisto Bookstore (http://www.edistobookstore.com/) on Edisto Island, South Carolina about 25 years ago, and she understands the needs of both area residents and the transients that filter through. Not only does she have all the good Lowcountry fiction authors: Mary Alice Monroe, Dorothea Benton Frank, Karen White, Pat Conroy, Cassandra King, Anne Rivers Siddons, and, okay, me, but she also carries nonfiction that addresses topics like Edisto’s history, Lowcountry ghosts, local wildlife, and anything sea island in nature.

In the back you’ll find the used book section for children and young adults to swap books. Off in another section, you’ll find nautical charts and topographic maps of Edisto and the surrounding coastal area as well as road maps and fishing charts. And don’t think Karen can’t talk the charts, either. After making the mistake of underestimating the small, salt-and-pepper hair bobbed lady, people realize she knows the area.

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The signature of Edisto Bookstore, however, is Emily Grace. A stray, silky gray and white cat, Emily Grace lives in the store, open or closed. She welcomes pleasant guests and conveniently dodges the rowdy, staying just out of reach of those who don’t understand the dignity of how to treat a lady. She’s a mainstay and a mascot everyone knows.

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What I love about this store most, however, is the atmosphere. The white walls and beach mural painted behind the tiny two-computer Internet Café ooze coastal, and you’ll find enough non-book items to tempt you dearly. From hand-fired ceramics to stationery, from seashell puzzles to crab decorated aprons, you’ll fall in love with everything Lowcountry. Just like you wish you could stay at the beach forever, the Edisto Bookstore makes the book lover crave to not only visit, but also to work in this store, absorbing the literary beach feel.

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I’ve signed three times at Edisto Bookstore and presented at a book club meeting, each event amazingly successful for such a compact place. This store understands how to handle a signing, from the advertising to supplying the books, with Emily Grace adorning the signing table for as long as you let her. And Karen knows how to attract the authors, too. Mary Alice Monroe is a regular.

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On one hand, I wish the store were a little larger, but then I’m not so sure. The quaint tightness of the place might be a pro instead of a con, since visitors learn to talk to each other as they pass almost elbow to elbow, asking where each other where they’re from and if they own or rent their house. Plus, Karen Carter has marvelous taste in presentation and unique book-stands to capitalize on every square foot. It’s tiny but I’ve yet to find a Lowcountry or Edisto book it does not carry. To me, that tells me Ms. Carter knows what she’s doing. And it’s one of the first places I stop whenever I feel the ocean calling me back to Edisto Beach.

Highly recommended, and highly respected by myself, by island readers, and by the other indie bookstores throughout South Carolina.

 

BIO: C. Hope Clark’s latest mystery release is Murder on Edisto, a book you’re sure to find at The Edisto Bookstore as well as anywhere books are sold. Hope is also known for her award-winning Carolina Slade Mysteries and her resource website FundsforWriters.com, chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com

BLURB from Murder on Edisto:

When her husband is murdered by the Russian mob, Boston detective Callie Jean Morgan suffers a mental break and relinquishes her badge to return home to South Carolina. She has no idea how to proceed with her life, but her son deserves to move on with his, so she relocates them to the family vacation home.

But the day they arrive on Edisto Beach, Callie finds her childhood mentor and elderly neighbor murdered. Her fragile sanity is threatened when the murderer taunts her, and the home that was to be her sanctuary is repeatedly violated. Callie loses her fight to walk away from law enforcement as she becomes the only person able to pursue the culprit who’s turned the coastal paradise into a paranoid patch of sand where nobody’s safe. But what will it cost her?

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Why being pregnant with amnesia is so romantic


The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress (Silhouette Desire) ♥♥♥

Synopsis

Chrysander Anetakis is a Greek hotel magnate who found out his former mistress is pregnant and she has amnesia. While he does not forgive her for betraying his trust and selling company secrets, he wants his child. So since she does not remember anything, he does not tell her that they broke up months ago. Instead he tells her that she is his fiancée. Now he has to pretend they were happy before the “accident” that caused her amnesia.

Marley is pregnant and scared. There is a stranger named Chrysander Anetakis telling her that they are engaged. While she cannot remember anything besides her name, she has a feeling in her gut that there is something not quite right about their relationship.

Opinion

This is not the first time that I have read of the hero using amnesia as a reset for the relationship. I do not understand why though because they act as if the amnesia is not going to eventually be cleared. Once that happens, the woman/love interest discounts everything up until that point as a lie.

As a side thought: Chrysander was grimy for sleeping with Marley when he was supposed to be disgusted with her.

For that in itself, he should have come clean.

It bothered me that Chrysander had niggling doubts about Marley’s guilt, but he did nothing to try to investigate what else could prove her guilt or innocence. He thought that “Marley’s eyes looked innocent,” but he refused to acknowledge the potential truth in that. Then when he actually thought about it, it took 2 seconds for him to identify the culprit. The villain confessed in even less time.

It was as if Chrysander was saying, “Even though you were savvy enough to devise a plot that implicated my girlfriend, let me trick you into confessing to orchestrating the company sabotage that cost me and brothers billions of dollars.”

The villain was like, “Ooops My bad”.

I did like that Marley tried to be as perceptive as possible to figure out her situation. She was suspicious and she had every right to be. Kudos to her for calling out Chrysander on his bi-polar behavior. He was trying to act loving but be standoffish at the same time.

Chrysander’s response “Don’t mistake my hesitation for disinterest” made no sense though.

No wonder she was confused.

While she did not have anywhere to go, I like that she did not ignore what her subconscious was trying to tell her.

The more he talked, the less desirous she was for marriage.”

When she her memory came back and she remember the truth, her breakdown was so painful. I knew it was coming but it hurt me to read about it and I have never been pregnant.

Random question that has been bugging me the entire book: How did she understand his Greek endearing expressions with her amnesia if it was the first he used them?

 

In the end, I think that she forgave too quickly considering all that she had been through. Truth be known, I am probably too vindictive. While Maya Banks’ pregnant heroine has to suffer a lot of trauma, the reader infers that the hero is suitably chastened to put the love of his life on a pedestal and never let anything else happen to her ever again.

Overall, The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress was okay. All is well that ends well, I suppose. This is not a life-changing, in-depth novel that will solve the problems of the world. It is a time filler. If you need something to read with characters that are not over-the-top annoying, this fits that bill.