Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Modern Tempted review #2

As promised, here are my review of the other two Modern Tempted titles, the first two books of the Wedding Season quartet.

Unexpected Wedding Guest
Aimee Carson

 ‘Surprised to see me?’

Getting caught in her wedding dress by her drop-dead-gorgeous ex-husband is Reese Michael’s worst nightmare. Especially when her perfect-on-paper fiancĂ© then cancels their wedding! Reese has spent years trying to forget how her marriage to Mason Hicks crashed and burned – yes, their chemistry was incredible, but a girl can’t live on lust alone! And what’s a jilted bride supposed to do when the one man she could never forget is back in her life, as irresistible as ever? Mason might be her own personal brand of Kryptonite, but surely life is meant to be lived a little dangerously…?

From the outset the mood of this story felt darker and more dangerous and Mason oozes trouble from the off. He has serious challenges to face – physical and emotional – following service in Afghanistan, and hopes to resolve some of his issues by coming face to face with his ex-wife.

It took a while to warm to Reese – she’s all confrontation in her first couple of scenes – and to be honest I felt rather sorry for her (soon to be ex-) fiancĂ©. But I read on, and I’m glad that I did.

I love a reunion story and characters who know all too well the challenges of trying to maintain a relationship past the honeymoon phase. So by the time they'd found their HEA, I'd forgiven them both their past transgressions (and, thankfully, they'd forgiven one another) and had overcome my initial trepidation. If you like dark and brooding, there’s a lot to love here.

This is the first of four linked stories, the second is ...

Girl Least Likely to Marry
Amy Adams

Talk nerdy to me
Samuel Tucker is absolutely the last person scientist Cassie Barclay would ever date. Yes, he’s gorgeous, but he’s also far too cocky for his own good and thinks that pi is a tasty afternoon treat. So when he asks her to dance at her friend Reese’s nonwedding she’s wondering why on earth she says yes! Tuck is used to people assuming he’s all brawn and no brain, and amuses himself by winding Cassie up. But when he finally takes her to bed, suddenly it’s Tuck who can show Cassie a thing or two! Can he convince her that love and sex have nothing to do with logic and everything to do with chemistry?

This story was my absolute favourite of the four, and I can pinpoint the reason in two words: Cassiopeia Barclay.

After being swamped with hormones and sensual tension from the last few stories, it felt like a refreshing change of pace to see the world through Cassie’s eyes for a few pages. She’s a scientist, rational, and not swept away by a sculpted bicep or a pretty smile. Not interested in men at all – until she comes within sniffing-distance of Samuel Tucker’s pheromones, that is.

She’s totally unconventional, and it was fascinating to spend a few hours in a brain so different from my own, and certainly very different from your stereotypical heroine. I really enjoyed the reverse-Cinderella – she meets the hero when she’s looking her makeover-best, but he doesn't fall in love with her until she’s back in her leggings and baggy tee. And her ideas of romance mostly remain unchanged too, even after she's fallen in love – the final scene when she tries to explain her feelings to Tuck is adorably hopeless.

This is the second of the Wedding Season quartet, and I can’t wait to read the other two stories (I suspect Gina’s, in particular, is going to be a hoot).

That was my take on Modern Tempted, but what do you think of this new line? And did you take the plunge and pitch to the editors?

Friday, 9 August 2013

Mills & Boon Modern Tempted - Review

Disclosure: I was sent free review copies of these titles by Mills & Boon

Mills & Boon have launched a new series of books on their website this month (or rather they have relaunched the RIVA series) and I was very excited to be asked to review the first four titles in the line. 

Modern Tempted (known as KISS in the States) is right up my my street: sassy, sharp writing with heaps of flirtation and sexual chemistry, so read on to find out what I thought of the first two titles. 

If You Can’t Stand the Heat …
Joss Wood        

Resisting temptation has never been so impossible…

Living on the edge used to make wild-card war reporter Jack Chapman feel alive. These days he needs some time out before he burns out. So what better distraction than delectable pastry chef Ellie Evans? She’s oh-so-tempting…and sleeping right next door! Perfect for a short-term fling! Ellie knows it would be beyond stupid to fall for a guy with ice in his veins who’s always on the move. But daredevil Jack is even more irresistible than her death-by-chocolate cake – and saying no has never been Ellie’s strong point!
This was a great introduction to the series, packed full of flirtation, sass and steamy sexual tension. I was hooked by the end of the first chapter, not least because of the appearance of that under-represented species: the red-headed hero (full disclosure, I am myself a ginger).

Jack, the‘reluctantly, cynically charming’ hero, is utterly endearing, even though at times he doesn't really deserve it. But he does redeem himself in the end – especially because, much as I loved him being all masterful and taking control when Ellie needs his help, he’s more adorable still when he stands back and make her fix things herself.

Ellie was a bit of a challenge for me at first. She desperately needs to stand up for herself, and at times I wanted to physically shake some self-confidence into her. But standing back, as Jack does, and seeing her learn it for herself is infinitely more rewarding.

The glimpses into Ellie’s bakery add more colour and sparkle to the story, and the descriptions of the South African coast made me as keen as Jack to up sticks and see it for myself. The chemistry between the hero and heroine sizzled from their first meeting and the ‘heat’ from the title is evident in everything these characters say and do.

All in all, a great introduction to the series, and had me reaching straight for the next in the pile…

 The Right Mr Wrong
Natalie Anderson

‘Will you marry me?’
Isn’t that the question every girl dreams of hearing? Victoria certainly used to think so. And safe, steady Oliver seemed perfect husband material. But that was until she met Liam, his rebellious, scorchingly hot best friend. Suddenly Victoria’s feeling things – crazy lust-fuelled things! – she’s never felt before. But for the wrong guy…Then Oliver goes down on one knee and it’s decision time – head or hormones? But, whether she says yes or no, Victoria’s about to discover the truth about guys like Liam – once you go bad you never go back!
‘Hot sex? Yes, Please’ – It would be very difficult to pick a favourite line from this story – it’s packed with brilliant dialogue, hot descriptions, and insightful emotion, but if I was forced to, it would be this one.

The author packs in so much meaning to every word, that by the time the hero has spoken just one  – ‘Victoria?’ – we know that they’re meant to be together. So much emotion crammed into that one word, and that’s only in the prologue, for heaven’s sake – before the book proper even gets started!

I loved watching Victoria pushing Liam as much as he pushes her – there’s something so very powerful about him trying to cling to his control, and Victoria driving him closer and closer to what he really wants. The scene with the wet shirt – you’ll know it when you get there! – was a masterclass.

The Sliding Doors-style“what-if” reset half way through the book took me completely by surprise, and I was a few pages in before I really understood what was going on, that Vivi really was Victoria (was I being unusually slow?). I did find the jump from the warm glow of a HEA back to early-days sniping a little jarring, and although exploring how just one question can change our lives was definitely very intriguing, I think I could have been just have happy with one story or the other. That said, a second helping of HEA-glow is hard to turn down. 

Up next for review are the first two linked titles of the Wedding Quartet, so watch this space.

Mills & Boon are also actively looking for new authors for the line! They're currently running a pitch contest (details here: https://www.facebook.com/millsandboon/app_413669555418802) so maybe #FoodGloriousFood will be winging its way to them soon?!