Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Review: Sunburn by Laura Lippman 


by Laura Lippman 

One is playing a long game. But which one?

They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through.

Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets that begin to accumulate as autumn approaches, feeding the growing doubts they conceal.

Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away—or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?

Something—or someone—has to give.

Which one will it be?

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Men have always done things for her… It is a special art, asking people to do things, yet making it seem as if you never asked at all… but it’s the skill she was given, the hand she has to play.

Cath couldn’t find her way out of a room with no walls. 

In her black dress, black gloves, and retro heels, she looks like Joan Crawford or Bette Davis.  She feels like them too.  Tough, yet brittle.  That’s the thing about being really hard.  When you do break, you shatter.

My Review:

I was immediately sucked into the powerful vortex of this enthralling and cleverly paced tale.  Written from the third person omniscient point of view, the storylines were fully textured, multi-layered, and ingeniously crafted.  The characters were all hues of shady and mysterious while endlessly fascinating and alluring.  But Ms. Lippman’s superlative writing tops all other elements as it was first class and kept me riveted and resentful of interruption.  I despised the need for sleep and begrudgingly put my book down only when necessary.  This author is a recent discovery for me and I am greedy to amass and hoard all of her mesmerizing arrangements of words.  

Empress DJ

About The Author  

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor’s Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association.

Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light.

Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since. She is the daughter of Theo Lippman Jr., a Sun editorial writer who retired in 1995 but continues to freelance for several newspapers, and Madeline Mabry Lippman, a former Baltimore City school librarian. Her sister, Susan, is a local bookseller.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Book Review: Trusting The Vine (Romancing the Vine #3) by Gemma Brocato

Trusting The Vine

Romancing the Vine #3

by Gemma Brocato

Brynn Dormir spends her day tidying up after guests at her wine country bed and breakfast inn, a job she prefers over cleaning up her mother and sister’s messy affairs. Unlike her family, business-minded Brynn never believed in love, a notion solidified after her ex tries to kill her. She understands the formula to make homemade scouring products much better than any recipe for romantic happiness.

Looking for a fresh start, psychologist Josh Hart has ended a disastrous partnership and relocates to Hopland to cover his mentor’s practice. Checking into the Carlysle, he can’t fight his attraction to the B and B’s lovely owner. Although she’s not a patient, he longs to get her on his couch for entirely different reasons.

But Josh’s crazy former partner wants him back at work and in her bed . . . and Brynn’s criminal ex wants to finish the job.

Josh and Brynn will have to learn to trust each other in order for love to conquer all.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

She’d never married, but had indulged in a string of disastrous affairs over the last ten years. As a psychic, she should have known things wouldn’t work out with the man she was with at the time.

My Review:

While it was an entertaining, quick and easy to follow read, I struggled some with this book as the broody rigid personality traits of Brynn are not among my favorites, needless to say, she wouldn’t be on my invite list of gal pals for Wino Wednesdays as she was a bit tiresome, although the poor thing had cause to be cautious.  Luckily her flaky family and vivacious friends helped to restore some balance to her world.  I adored Josh and marveled at his patience.  The premise was interesting and the storyline held a bit of intrigue and peril from a pair of unstable exes, as well as the slow burn romance while the ever kind and indefatigable Josh endeavored to win Brynn’s trust before the steamy bits fogged up my tablet.  

Empress DJ

About Gemma Brocato 


Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a fortune from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; someday she’d write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss even the rejections, addressed to ‘Dear Author’, were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.

Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.

Weaving Adventure and Romance Together
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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Review: The Test (The List #2) By Tawna Fenske

The Test

 (The List #2)

by Tawna Fenske 

"The hottest, sexiest, most hilariously fun opposites attract story I’ve ever read!" - USA Today bestselling author Samanthe Beck

This is a test. A test of every life decision Lisa Michaels has ever made.

Lisa thought she’d gotten everything right: The nicest condo, the right career, the best hair, and a perfectly adequate sex life with her stockbroker fiancé. But when the fiancé ditches her at the altar, Lisa’s left questioning every decision she’s ever made. What if her instincts have been steering her wrong all along? And what if she tested that theory by spending one month doing the exact opposite of what she’d normally do?

A crazy-hot fling with a tattooed steelworker from the wrong side of the tracks seems like a good starting point...

Each book in The List series is STANDALONE:
* The List
* The Test

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

I can’t see his face, but his shoulders look like he spends his spare time bench-pressing SUVs.

Is this foreplay? I have no idea. Gary’s idea of foreplay was muting the ten o’clock news and patting the mattress beside him. Don’t think I didn’t notice how he’d peer at the stock market crawl over my shoulder.

Did I ever tell you I used to volunteer at this museum?… There’s an exhibit on the third floor called Oregon Adventure… My first month here, I caught a couple going at it on one of the bunks in the Lewis and Clark exhibit… They were buck naked, right there between the bearskin rug and the display of nineteenth-century muskets.

Does anyone else feel self-conscious shopping for cucumbers? Like you’re standing there squeezing them and checking out the length and girth to make sure you get the best one, and you look over to see every creepy guy in the produce section is staring at you.

Her T-shirt is emblazoned with an electric guitar, the logo for the National Down Syndrome Association, and the words, “I’m rockin’ this extra chromosome.”

For future reference, most people bring cans of beer and Dinty Moore stew when they camp… Not an entire Riedel stemware set and an eighty-dollar bottle of port.

My Review:

I smirked and gasped my way through this delightfully naughty and amusingly clever and steamy tale of opposites. The premise was interesting, the storylines were entertaining, the characters were appealing and enticing, and the writing was witty and engaging. And if you just heard someone yell, “Home run!” - that would be me.  

Lisa was a fussy and pretentious socialite wannabe who was overly concerned about appearances and having or being the best.  However, she felt an itch to sample or “test” the grittier or less refined sides of life, which included experimenting with the many unfulfilled items on her sexual bucket list by going against her instincts and doing the exact opposite of what she had or would have considered doing for the next thirty days.  It was to be sex only with no relationship or emotional involvement, and she found the perfect specimen with which to do so.  

Dax was a heavily tattooed and dirty-talking hottie whom Lisa had met in a bar, although she had no idea he was also a wealthy and successful business owner, as being a shallow snob, Lisa hadn’t taken the time to look past his delectable and colorfully inked surface.  I adored the witty and profane Dax; although I couldn’t quote much of his dialogue as he words were typically laced with obscenities.  His sexual dynamics, lubricity, and bawdy banter were some of the many turn-ons for Lisa, who was quickly softening during their association with a blooming relationship thoughts working their way in, which wasn’t supposed to be part of the plan.  

  Empress DJ

About the Author


When Tawna Fenske finished her English lit degree at 22, she celebrated by filling a giant trash bag full of romance novels and dragging it everywhere until she’d read them all. Now she’s a RITA-nominated, USA Today bestselling author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with a quirky twist. Publishers Weekly has praised Tawna’s offbeat romances with multiple starred reviews and noted, “There’s something wonderfully relaxing about being immersed in a story filled with over-the-top characters in undeniably relatable situations. Heartache and humor go hand in hand.”

Tawna lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, stepkids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets. She loves hiking, snowshoeing, standup paddleboarding, and inventing excuses to sip wine on her back porch. She can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year. To find out more about Tawna and her books, visit

Friday, February 16, 2018

Book Review, Giveaway: Mr. Blakely by K. Webster

Mr. Blakely

by K. Webster

  Publication Date: February 12, 2018
  Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

The Dirty Bits from Carina Press give you what you want when you want it. Designed to be read in an hour or two, these sex-filled microromances are guaranteed to pack a punch and deliver a happily-ever-after. 

It started as a job. 

It turned into so much more. 

Mr. Blakely is strict with his sons, but he’s soft and gentle with me. 

The powerful businessman is something else entirely when we’re together. 

Boss, teacher, lover…husband. 

My hopes and dreams for the future have changed. 

I want—no, I need—him by my side. 

This book is approximately 33,000 words Editor’s note: All characters in this story are over eighteen and all sexual interactions are fully consensual. 

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise! 

The Dirty Bits from Carina Press: what you want, when you want it. Over-the-top sexy microromances designed to be read in an hour or two.

My Rating:

Favorite Quote:

Love is an animal you must capture and keep. Name it and own it. Allow yourself these things…

My Review:

Sizzle and snap, I wasn’t paying attention and had no idea what I was in for when I started this saucy little story, oh, my!  Mr. Blakely was a freshly betrayed and divorced father of teenaged twin boys and in dire need of domestic help.  His sons were not adapting as well as he had hoped and were in need of tutoring as well as attention and supervision after school and in the evenings while he was working late at his business or wooing clients.  He was given Ava’s name and number and told she was a smart and helpful tutor, and the lovely young woman named Ava was hired to do just that the same day.  A lovely young woman that stirred something deep and impossible as she was sweet and kind and an innocent eighteen-year-old high school senior and he was… significantly older than that, like twenty-five years older than that. 

Given the common porno premise, I was bracing myself for cheesy or creepy, thankfully, it wasn’t.  Other than a few cringe-worthy scenes this was actually a sweet and thoughtful romance with lots of naughty bits and a little bit of high school drama.  There was an interesting and engaging plot with supportive relationships established among all the characters after a bit of a rocky start.  Ava took good care of his sons and succeeded where Mr. Blakely could not as they improved in school as well as in their family interactions.  She studied French and was working toward saving for a trip to France, he softly spoke French endearments to her, bought her gifts including a car to ferry his sons home from school, and other trinkets, as she was always on his mind, as he was on hers.  Mr. Blakely took special care of Ava, much better than her own family had, and after hours he tutored her in all manner of adult culinary games like hiding the sausage, finding the pearl, and tickle the pickle.  And it worked out very well for them, very well indeed.  

Empress DJ

About K. Webster

K Webster is the author of dozens of romance books in many different genres including contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, and erotic romance. When not spending time with her husband of twelve years and two adorable children, she’s active on social media connecting with her readers. Her other passions besides writing include reading and graphic design. K can always be found in front of her computer chasing her next idea and taking action. She looks forward to the day when she will see one of her titles on the big screen.

Book Review, Giveaway: Solace (The Hunter Series #2) by S.E. Cooper

Title: Solace
Series: The Hunter Series #2
Author: S.E. Cooper 
Genre: Contemporary Romance Suspense
Release Date: February 16, 2018 

"I didn't choose to love you," I whispered. "But now that I do, no storm is strong enough to keep me away from you."

Nyah Hunter has always believed in love at first sight. When she first sets eyes on James Parker, ‘Big’ to his friends, Nyah realizes he’s the man she’s been waiting for all her life. The only problem is, Big doesn’t want to know. He has his reasons for keeping the beautiful blonde at bay, but Nyah won’t give up without a fight. How can he make her see that the safest place for her is as far away from him as possible?

For Big, loving Nyah means risking more than just his heart. It means confronting a past too painful to process and recalling haunting memories too bittersweet to share.

Intent on protecting those he loves, Big sets out to defeat his demons, once and for all; a battle that’s likely to see him perish in the process. Only, he hasn’t counted on the unusual collection of individuals willing to work together for the greater good.

With fresh hope in his heart and an unlikely army by his side, Big dares to dream that this time, he might get to live free.

However, has he underestimated just how far his enemy will go to destroy him?

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

My hair hurt; I had no idea your hair could hurt, but apparently after a night on tequila and Jäeger it really could.

I decided that I could live my life on an almost romance. After all, a fantasy couldn’t hurt your feelings, and an illusion wouldn’t break your heart. If I had to make that moment last for a lifetime, I would.

The closest I’d ever got to sneaking around in bushes was when Dad had me track Mrs. Hozier’s stalker, and that was not a situation I cared to remember.

“Eh, hello,” Demo called, “Bad guy about to perform something nasty. The least you could do was give me your attention.”

My Review:

Reading this story was like working out at the gym, it required effort with some of the movements being rather difficult and less than enjoyable, but it was a worthwhile and beneficial endeavor and I’m usually smiling with a sense of accomplishment by the time I finish.  I recall having similar difficulties with the first book in this series as this cagey author seems to enjoy tossing the reader into the middle of the story and then slowly filling in the gaps with her steamy intrigue.  Despite my petty frustrations and vexations with her pacing, Ms. Cooper has churned out yet another action-packed, cringe-worthy, and intriguing tale with lots of sexy yet filthy talking alpha males who cannot speak without expletives, sizzling sensual scenes, heartbreaking and tragic backstories, gruesome sadistic sociopaths, and lots of peril with several plot twists thrown in to keep us on our toes.  

Empress DJ

I was being cruel. I knew it. I was losing my mind being so close to her, and I couldn’t bring myself to stop.

Her response was to tilt her head and moan lightly against my ear. 

“Look, Nyah,” I whispered, drawing closer to her hardened peak. “I’m barely touching you and yet, you’re about to come.” 

Her response was to push me harshly against the brick wall. I waited for her to raise her hand and slap me, instead her body hit mine with such force she winded me. Kicking my legs apart, she moved between them. 
Then she kissed me. 
She. Kissed. Me.
Her hot mouth plundered mine, and she took until I was the one who was breathless. Moving her hands roughly over my chest, she pulled at my shirt until it came loose, and she could feel bare skin beneath her fingertips.
This was not the way I thought this would go. The woman was out of control. I was loving every damned second of it. I wrapped my arms around her back and hauled her too me. We kissed to the point it became painful, but neither of us came up for air. I decided that if I was going to die here and now, in this courtyard, it would be worth it just to have witnessed this beautiful woman become wild in my arms.
I smiled against her mouth when her hand moved lower, and she crudely groped at my dick through the denim. I ground my hips against her hand, loving the feel of her fingers on me, my body instantly responding to her frantic touch. When she mewled her approval into my mouth, I was done for. I grabbed hold of her waist with the intention of turning us, until I was the one leading this fervent encounter we found ourselves in. She chose that moment to break the kiss and step back out of my reach.
A few feet away, she stood breathless and turned on to all hell. Her hair was in disarray, her cheeks were flushed, her eyes were burning into mine in a way I had yet to experience. I decided she had never looked more beautiful. She was like a fallen angel halfway to hell.
Me, I was confused as fuck, but in the best conceivable way.
She smirked at me and I narrowed my eyes. 
“You know, Parker?” She smirked. “I’m barely touching you, and yet, you’re about to come.” 
I swallowed hard, her intentions now clear.
“Well played, darlin’.” I grimaced, “Well played.”
She should leave now.
While we both wanted more.
I was left to contemplate the fact I’d just been owned by an angel, but she was no stronger than I was. Her body was humming in anticipation, the rise and fall of her chest making her breasts move in the most delightful of ways. Her eyes were pulling with desire, growing heavier by the second, as she fought for control of her senses.
I could barely hold my ground. 
But I had to, for both our sakes.

S E Cooper lives in Scotland with her husband, their two boys, two crazy cats and a bonkers bunny. She has always loved to read and write stories but it wasn't until she discovered the wonderful world of self-publishing and became inspired by some of her favorite Indie Authors that she decided to take the plunge herself. Her hobbies include spending time with family and friends, photography, reading and daydreaming.