Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bambi's Top 10 of 2015!

Best Contemporary Romance

Kristen Ashley is my comfy pajama author. The one that I am most comfortable with and know will never disappoint me. So as long as she is writing, I will probably have one or more of her books in my top 10 every year. My all time favorite Ashley hero/book is Tack in Motorcyle Man, so I am really enjoying the continuing story of the Chaos MC in the Chaos series.  

Walk Through Fire gets the nod from me for 2015 because of the FEELS.  This book had so much of them. The heroine, Millie, had such a heartwrenching story. Then we have our broody damaged biker, Logan/High, who could also turn poetic on a dime.  And Ashley puts it all out there seamlessly. 

I did try to read this one on my lunch break at the office one day - big mistake. No one wants to walk around the rest of the afternoon with ugly cry face.

Best Romantic Comedy

I did Truth or Beard in audio during a road trip towards the end of the year, and I cracked up so many times. All the truckers passing me on the road must have thought I was a bit nuts. The story was full of quirky characters and small town southern goodness.  The narrator, Joy Nash, did a fabulous job bringing the heroine to life and making me nostalgic for my hometown in Tennessee. I really look forward to this series continuing in 2016.

Best Romantic Suspense

Shattered is a dark and twisty romantic suspense set in New Orleans that absolutely knocked my socks off.  I loved the bad boy anti-hero, Jax Fontaine (awesome name)! Cynthia Eden really gets into the head of serial killers in this series, so the suspense is superb. I picked this one as my favorite because of the hero, the setting, and because I could not figure out the villain until he was revealed towards the end.  I recommend reading the series in order as there is a lot of character crossover.

Best Historical Romance

This is the debut novel from Susanne Lord and I was very impressed. She drew out my emotions with good character development, connections and exceptional writing style. I fell in love with the vivacious and good-natured Charlotte and was cheering for her the entire book. In Search of Scandal was a beautiful and poignant story.

Best Ugly Cry Book

Speaking of beautiful and poignant stories, Kim Holden delivers one in Bright Side. This book was hard to review because it evoked so many emotions and ugly cries, and I didn't want to spoil that for anyone else by saying too much. Kate was the most inspirational heroine that I have read - her character made me want to be a better person. Don't start this one without a box of tissues nearby.

Best Dialogue

I am awarding Forever Your Earl the award for best dialogue this year. This book was so chock-full of witty one-liners and sexual innuendos that I was smiling for the entirety of the read. Eva Leigh/Zoe Archer delivered a clever dialogue and the best banter I have read between characters in historical romance.

Best Action Series
My ReviewMy ReviewMy ReviewMy Review

I came across A.D. Starrling quite by accident this year and fell in love with the Seventeen series, which is totally out of my normal genre. My favorite book so far is King's Crusade, featuring Alexa, the most kickass heroine ever.  Every book in the series has been packed with action and suspense that kept my blood pumping to turn the page as quickly as possible. Starrling writes intelligent books - so you feel a bit intellectual as you are immersed in mythology, chemistry, supernatural powers and other topics that will exercise your brain.

Best Audiobook Narrator

I have loved the Kate Daniels series since I first discovered it several years ago. However this year I decided to do a re-read of the entire series, but I did it in audiobook. I am so glad I did. I now have a bit of a girl crush on the narrator, Renee Raudman. She is uber talented, and I think it would be fun to watch her work. Her inflections, accents and personalities for each character are so unique and engaging, and she conveys emotions that will jump out and grab you. I look forward to more audiobooks by Renee in the future.  And of course, more Kate and Curran!
Renee Raudman
Source:  Tantor Media
Favorite Heroine

Lesley Young wins my vote for the most unique (and my favorite) heroine of the year.  Charlie suffers from pervasive personality disorder, which made her literal and logical to an extreme degree. I felt very protective of her character the entire time that I was reading. After 8 months and 300+ books, Charlie still stands out to me as the most distinctive heroine I read this year.

Favorite Hero

Nalini Singh always delivers a great story and unique characters, but she has outdone herself with Naasir. We met him in earlier books and he really stole the show from that point forward for me. Naasir is one of a kind, a hybrid creature/man who at times was childlike in behavior. I was utterly enchanted by him and hope there is much more of him in future books of this series. I encourage you to give this one a listen in audio if you are able.  The narrator, Justine Eyre, gave Naasir a wonderful accent that only added to his appeal.

Audiobook Review: Overruled by Emma Chase

by Emma Chase
Series:  The Legal Briefs #1
Pub. Date:  Apr. 28, 2015
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Audio
Narrators:  Jason Carpenter, Charlotte Penfield
Length:  8 hrs 6 min
Format:  Audiobook
Source:  Audible

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Emma Chase, New York Times bestselling author of the Tangled Series, returns with the first installment of the Legal Briefs Series. 

As a DC defense attorney, Stanton Shaw keeps his head cool, his questions sharp, and his arguments irrefutable. They don’t call him the Jury Charmer for nothing – with his southern drawl, disarming smile and captivating green eyes – he’s a hard man to say no to. Men want to be him and women want to be thoroughly cross examined by him.

Stanton’s a man with a plan. And for a while, life was going according to that plan.

Until the day he receives an invitation to the wedding of his high school sweetheart and mother of his beloved ten-year old daughter. Jenny is getting married — to someone who isn’t him.

That's definitely not part of the plan.

Sofia Santos is a city raised, no-nonsense litigator who plans to become the most revered criminal defense attorney in the country. She doesn’t have time for relationships or distractions.

But when Stanton, her "friend with mind-blowing benefits" begs for help, she finds herself out of her element, out of her depth, and obviously out of her mind. Because she agrees to go with him – to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Mississippi – to do all she can to help Stanton win back the woman he loves. 

Her head tells her she's crazy...and her heart says something else entirely.

What happens when you mix a one stop-light town, two professional arguers, a homecoming queen, four big brothers, some Jimmy Dean sausage and a gun-toting Nana? 

The Bourbon flows, passions rise and even the best laid plans get overruled by the desires of the heart. 

So I met Emma Chase earlier this year at RT Roundup, and got to sit in on one of her panels and listen to a little more about her and her writing style. She was super sweet and I resolved to read one of her books as soon as possible as she relayed that her niche was writing romance from the male point of view. I always like having the male POV in my books - I like to get into the heads of my heroes. So I pulled this book off Audible during my last road trip when I needed something to make the drive go faster.

I didn't read the blurb for the book before reading. I knew the series featured attorneys, which always makes me a little hesitant (occupational hazard). Whenever I am reading a book about fellow attorneys, I tend to pick them apart. However, either Ms. Chase really did her research or she has experience in the legal field because she did really well getting into the aspects of the law practice. This made me super happy b/c I more often see mistakes or unrealistic ideals in legal fiction... but this one was pretty accurate.

As for the romance - I had mixed feelings about it. Don't get me wrong - I couldn't stop listening and was totally absorbed in the story. I had a good connection to the female characters. Without reading the blurb, I actually thought Jenny was going to be my heroine so I was so disappointed when I realized that was not going to be the case. I was then set not to like Sofia because I felt like she was encroaching, but I ended up empathizing with her through the story. I did feel like she was allowing herself to be used for a good part of the book though, and I didn't like that. I wanted her to stand up for herself and tell Stanton where to stick it.

As for our hero, Stanton, I didn't like him. One thing about having so much of the guy's POV is that you realize how much guys suck. I didn't really want to hear about his womanizing and cheating - no matter how much I originally thought I wanted it. He came off as a huge douche canoe by being so self-absorbed and being a total user. He used Jenny and he used Sofia. It was so bad that he was never redeemed for me. I was hoping that both girls would ditch his ass and become besties.

That being said, I still really liked the story! The fact is that there are guys like Stanton out there, and the portrayal of his character was accurate (disheartening as it is). The one aspect that I could say is unrealistic with this story is the hotness factor for all of the male attorneys. In this profession, I have seen little to no lawyers that I would consider "hot". This was a common lament at my law school - why are there no hot guys in this profession? I can't think of a single one that I encountered at my law school. Once I started practicing, I have run into one here and there, but if I ever saw three of them together I would probably fall out in a dead faint. This factor was so lacking in my real life experience that I can't even buy into the fantasy anymore.

I am looking forward to the rest of this series to see how I feel about that prevalent male POV. Will I like it - or will it make me think that guys just plain suck?

Bambi & Emma Chase

The Legal Briefs

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Audiobook Review: A Kiss of Blood by Pamela Palmer

A Kiss of Blood 
by Pamela Palmer
Series:  Vamp City #2
Pub. Date:  July 7, 2015
Publisher:  Tantor Audio
Narrator:  Rebecca Estrella
Length:  11 hrs 30 min
Format:  Audiobook
Source:  Hoopla

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Only one woman can save Vamp City...

One of the few humans who managed to escape the deadly twilight world of Vamp City, Quinn Lennox vows to never return. But the vampires want her back, for only she has the power to renew the magic of their crumbling world and free the vampires trapped within.

When the dangerous and all-too-seductive Arturo Mazza comes for her, Quinn knows she can never trust him after the betrayal she suffered at his hands. But with her beloved brother's fate hanging in the balance, and her own power beginning to emerge, she chooses to risk all on yet another perilous journey back to Vamp City. And though she tries to deny it, her heart begins to hold hope that even a ruthless vampire can learn the meaning of true love.

So if you read my last review, you will remember that A Blood Seduction made me ranty. While I liked the concept and the story, I hated both of the main characters. I refused to call them hero and heroine because I didn't feel like anything deserving of the name. But, I can officially say that I hate them much less now.

As much as I hated Arturo in the last book, I am kind of on Team Arturo now. He stopped being such a self-absorbed douche canoe and got some of his conscience back. Though now he is chasing Quinn, and she is running away, and it got to be tiresome. I am surprised that what finally broke her trust was him showing up to save her in the beginning of this book. Of all the things that should have turned her away, this seemed very minor in the overall scheme. Quinn is coming into some of her power... but she is still a pretty wimpy leading female. She continues to get her ass kicked, lose her weapon within 2 seconds, and run off on her own and get caught. And what finally turned me from Team Quinn to Team Arturo was the vamp delivering some brutal truths that I didn't really consider about Quinn in the first book. I won't mention them here because it was an eye opener for me and reading it before hand w/o the benefit of his speech would have lessened the impact.

The other vampires are still pretty much baddies, with a few exceptions. Cristoff and Fabian are both horrible extremes of their vice and way of feeding. Quinn has somewhat of an unnatural attachment to her brother - she is all he thinks about. Meanwhile, all Zach thinks about is Lily. And Lily is still out there alone in vamp city.

The story arc is continuing over the series, so while there is not a cliffhanger per se, the book ends before anything is resolved. I am hoping that the next book gives us a true hero and heroine to root for. 

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Vamp City

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review: Susana and the Scot by Sabrina York

Susana and the Scot 
by Sabrina York
Series:  Untamed Highlanders #2
Pub. Date:  Dec. 29, 2015
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Pages:  368
Format:  eARC
Source:  NetGalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Bestselling author Sabrina York carries readers back to the wild Scottish Highlands, where the bravest of men surrender to no one—except the boldest of women...


Andrew Lochlannach is famous for his conquests, on and off the battlefield. When a fellow warrior challenges him to a kissing contest, he wastes no time in planting his lips on ninety-nine lovely lasses—an impressive feat of seduction that gets him banished to the farmlands. Still, Andrew has no regrets about his exploits—especially his embrace with the most beguiling woman he's ever met...


With flaming red hair and a temper to match, Susana is not the kind of innocent farmgirl who gives herself over easily to a man, even one as ruggedly handsome as Andrew. The wicked Scot may have won a kiss from the headstrong beauty in a moment of mutual desire, but Susana refuses to be just another one of his conquests. Andrew must convince the fiery lass that even though he is not playing a game, losing her is not an option...

It looks like I am going to have to add Sabrina York to my auto-buy list, because I am loving this Untamed Highlanders series.  Both books were happy reads and put me in a good mood.  I made the mistake of starting Susana and the Scot in the evening, and ended up reading it straight through until almost 3am. I was despairing a little toward the end as the battery in my tablet was dying and a storm had knocked out the power in my house!  

So this is a second chance romance between our hero, Andrew Lochlannach (brother to Alexander from Hannah and the Highlander) and Susana Dounreay (sister to Hannah).  Andrew has been sent to Dounreay by Alexander to shore up the defenses against encroachers and protect Hannah's family. Unfortunately, his first foray into Dounreay involves a tumultuous and humorous run in with Susana, who is shocked to see him. Also unfortunately, Andrew does not remember Susana or that he had previously seduced her. You can imagine how this is going to cause him problems while living in such close quarters with her and her family. 

Andrew is a likable hero - he has been pining away for his lost love (Mairi) for the past six years, whom he believes passed away in a carriage accident. In an effort to find "that feeling" again, Andrew has kissed 99 women and now has vowed that he is done with females, believing that he will never have "that feeling" again. Until he encounters the firebrand, Susana. I also really liked Susana, the warrior princess.  She was atypical for the time period, a female capable with a bow, taking on the castle defenses and other jobs typically handled by men. She was a loving mother to her daughter, for all that she failed to discipline her. I was drawn into her hurt and aggravation at Andrew, thinking that he had betrayed her. It was lovely to see them find their way back to one another, though I do wish it would have been explained why she was known as Mairi when in Perth.

While Susana and Andrew were at war with one another, for reasons unknown to him, they are forced to work together to uncover the threat against Dounreay lands. I enjoyed every aspect of this story - both the romance angle and the mystery/suspense.  But my absolute favorite part of this story was Susanna's daughter, Isobel. She was a termagant!  But she was also clever, precocious and absolutely adorable and hilarious. I am not usually one for kids - but I fell in love with little Isobel.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Untamed Highlanders