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text 2017-12-18 00:43
The Romancies - Part 3: Best Scene

*Technical difficulties, a.k.a my laptop gave up the ghost and I now am using my 6yr old Toshiba laptop (HORRORS), I'm way behind on posting Romancies. I should have known if I tried to set a schedule this would happen. I'm going to try and get caught up in coming days but holiday season, y'all.

 

 

 

*The books eligible could be published in any year, they simply had to be read by me in 2017

Clicking on book cover brings you to my review if I wrote one or Goodreads page if I didn't

 

Nominees:


3268417  26699963  23303664

 

29422692  28109694  25820440

 

6388558  110296  32423

 

27173440

 

 

1.  All About Love by Stephanie Laurens

A sword scene along these lines:

 

 

If you've never seen Zorro, just imagine a playful, sexual tension filled sword fight. I'll show up every time for stuff like this!

 

2.  Wild Wicked Scot by Julia London

She was suddenly reminded of a young dog here at Balhaire who'd been badly injured by a trap that had been set illegaly. When the gamekeeper determined the poor dog could not be saved and, futhermore, would suffer in his last hours, she had watched Arran scoop the dog up in his arms and carry him from this very hall with tears on his face. He'd taken the dog into the woods and mercifully put it out of its misery. She shivered at the painful recollection of how he'd grieved for the dog.


A dog loving hero (he cries over a doggie!), too much for this crazy dog lady to handle.

 

3.  Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

The heroine is a romance writer and there's a scene where she and the hero try to "myth bust" one her written romance scenes. It was hot and funny and a bit meta.

 

4.  Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

What I personally loved about this couple's sex scenes were the powerful dynamics happening but in particular, there's a blowjob scene where Nicholas is the more vulnerable participant, even while physically we know he's the more powerful, he's shown to be incredibly emotionally vulnerable. There's been a little bit of a trend to portray "Me Tarzan, you Jane" sex, the power and emotion dynamics sex scenes here blow those depictions out of the water for me. I was a huge fan of what felt more like consensual and emotionally balanced sex. What I'm trying to say, is spanking and hair pulling sex scenes can be amazing when you add depth of emotion. 

I hope the trend starts to shift to more sex scenes like this one.


*honorable mention:  Nicholas wrapping his tie around his hand ;)

 

5.  My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly

“I’m not a half-wit, nor am I naïve. I know exactly what men like Stratton are after. I’m quite familiar with the type.”

That silenced him for half a block. “I’m sorry you even have to worry about that,” he finally said.

 

A great scene where the hero gets a little look-in to what it is like to exist as woman in the world and being able to cognitively, emotionally, and analytically understand what the heroine is telling him. These scenes might seem small but this right here is where the heart of romance lives, women sharing truths.

 

6.  Again, My Lord by Katharine Ashe

Tacitus thought of his father's adoration of a woman with rotted teeth who could barely walk. 


The hero thinks back to how much his father loved his mother even though someone looking from the outside would have some doubts why. It's a wonderful line stating about how love is love and how imperfect people can be perfect. Beautiful. Lines/scenes like this get my eyes watering out of nowhere because of how deep, heartfelt, and meaningful they are.

 

7.  The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole

Into the blood-splattered snow, the lone warrior fell to one knee and shuddered with weakness. Still, an arm shot out to raise a sword against the oncoming legion. Her dented breastplate swallowed her small form. Though the winds howled, whipping her hair, she heard the twang of the bowstring unleashed. She screamed in fury when the arrow punctured the center of her armor, the blow sending her flying back.

The arrowhead had pierced through metal, then barely through her breastbone, just enough that her heart met the point with each beat. The beating of her own brave heart was killing her. But her scream had woken two nearby gods sleeping together through a brutal, wintry decade. 

They stirred and looked down upon the maiden, seeing in her eyes courage burning bright. Bravery and will had marked her entire life, but the light ebbed with death and they mourned it.

Freya, the female god, whispered that they should take her courage and preserve it for eternity because it was so precious.

 

Talk about a grab your attention scene! Action, strong woman, goddesses, and engaging, I was instantly into the story, world, and characters.

 

8.  Truly by Mary Balogh

"I am glad you were so stubborn," she said. "I am glad we never married, Aled." 
He swallowed awkwardly. "I love you, cariad," he said. 
"No," she said. "It is something other than love that rules your life, Aled. It is hatred and the desire for revenge. It is the desire for destruction and violence." 
"It is the desire for a better life," he said, "and the conviction that we have a right to it. It is the belief that I owe it to myself and to my neighbors and to my unborn children---if I ever have any---to do something I cannot allow others to do for me, cariad."
"Neither could Eurwyn," she said bitterly. "But he died and left Marged and his mam and gran to manage without him. And no one has a better life as a result of what he did."
He lifted one hand to cup the back of her head. "It is what you are afraid of?" he asked softly. "That I will die and leave you alone? It is better, you think, not to marry me and not to have my little ones if I recklessly court death?" 
She was crying then and trying to pull away from him. But his arms closed about he like iron bands. And he kissed the top of her head, the wet cheek that was exposed to him, and finally the wet face she lifted to him. He kissed her mouth with hunger, parting his lips with his own. 
"Tell me you love me," he whispered against her lips. "It has been so long since I heard you say the words. Tell me I am your cariad."
But she struggled then and freed herself and turned back to face the gate, his coat held about her shoulders with both her hands. "No," she said. "You are not my love, Aled. And I do not believe Marged is my friend any longer. I am sorry for it. Marged is causing mischief and you are talking of breaking down tollgates with perhaps hundreds of men to make a mob. Someone will get hurt. It may be you or it may be Marged. But worse, it may be someone else, hurt because of you or Marged. I cannot love you any longer. No, let me put it differently. I will not love you any longer. But you knew that. We have argued it out before. Let there be an end now. No more scenes like this. It is over."
"And yet," he said, "you still love me." 
"You were not listening." She released her hold on his coat and let it slide to the ground. 
"Ah, yes," he said sadly, "I was, cariad."
She said nothing more. And he could think of nothing more to say either. She would not give up her conviction that protest and violence were never justified, and he would not give up his conviction that they were and that if he wanted to see change and thought someone should do something about effecting it, then he must be willing to do his part. He could no longer stand back and let the Eurwyns of this world do his fighting for him. He must fight for himself. Even if it meant giving up the one good thing in his life that had given it meaning and direction for the past six years. For four of those years he had worked long , hard hours in his forge, making himself worthy of her, making for her a secure future and preparing a comfortable home. And now for two he had taken the course best calculated to drive her away forever. But there was nothing he could do to change that. For if he could not offer her his integrity, then he had nothing worth offering at all.
 

 

This scene is between the secondary romance couple but ugh, their quiet love for each other just about killed me. They're both right and both wrong and I just wanted them to be together but the world isn't always perfect and sometimes things have to fall apart to come together. I loved how they wouldn't compromise their inner beliefs but through their love were able to still come together.

 

9.  Watchers  by Dean Koontz

When the telephone rang, it startled her. She put down her pencil and reached for the receiver. "Hello?"

"Funny," a man said.

"Excuse me?"

"They never heard of him."

 

I know this story has monsters, psycho killer, semi-curses, awful bitter aunt, and government agents, but this was the scene that sent a chill down my spine. 

 

Nora's aunt, that kept her just about child protective services needed isolated, dies and leaves Nora alone and fearful of the world. When a tv repairman comes and seems to be hitting on her, she can't believe it and thinks she misinterpreted things. Of course she was right because no matter our upbringing, us women seem to have an innate sense of dude's up to no good. TV repairman turns out be a sexual harasser and stalker to the nth degree. Hence, the phone call where he lets her know he checked up on her and when she said she has a husband and he is a police officer, it is a lie. It's such a cold heart stopping moment because you know Nora is alone in the house and you know this guy is coming for her. Shivers.

 

10.  Shooter by Dahlia West

“So,” Chris said, leaning on his cart. “If I’m not a pirate king or a highlander, what kind of romance novel character am I?”

The checkout girl looked him up and down. “Definitely contemporary. Maybe a fireman or-”

“Army Ranger?” Chris asked teasingly.

The girl picked up a sales flier and fanned herself. “Lord, girl you snagged yourself an Army man?”

“Landlord,” Slick repeated. “Land. Lord. No snagging.”

“We’re having lunch today,” Chris told the checkout girl. “She’s making roast beef sandwiches.”

“There was a sale,” Slick whined. “I like roast beef.”

The checkout girl shook her head. “Girl, you like some kind of beef, I’ll give you that. You take that man home and get some beef, okay?”

 

A little meta-ness with discussing the heroine's love of romance books and their heroes and some cuteness with Chris our hero actually being a former Army Ranger. 

 

 

 

  1. Winner:

 

 

This scene, I keep thinking about it. To me, it is pure romance, which is love to me. The hero begins to realize how his father loved a woman who might not have been conventionally attractive and was ill most of the time; imperfect people being loved perfectly. 

 

 

2016 Winner

 

2015 Best Scene

 

2014 Best Scene

 

 

Have a favorite scene from 2016 that still sticks with you?

 

Next time, Favorite Quote....

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review 2017-12-17 21:10
Sweet, romantic, and fun
Do You Want to Start a Scandal - Tessa Dare

What are you doing to me? He'd whispered.

Charlotte had no idea. But whatever it was, he was doing it back.

 

Spoiler Alert:  I like wallflowers and broody dudes. :) So, of course I liked this one. The way our hero was bamboozled by the heroine gets me every time. I would have liked to feel a bit closer to Piers, for some reason his background felt a bit underdeveloped, rushed or not delved into enough. 

Charlotte was so open, honest, and willing to get her man; I quite delighted in her. I would have liked her relationship with Delia to be focused, shown more to further develop her character. 

 

"What if I told you I know the risks, and I'm willing to take my chances?"

"It wouldn't change a thing. Those walls, as you call them…They're part of me now, and they are iron strong." He lifted a hand to her face, skimming his thumb over her lower lip. "Even if I wished to, I wouldn't know how to dismantle them."

"I know," she said quietly. "I know." She wreathed her arms around his neck. "That's why you need me. I'm going to burn them to the ground."

 

These two were spine tingling at times and plain fun to read about. The setting stayed stagnant as they were at a house party which kind of made their developing relationship feel less rounded out but their chemistry helped patch over some of the overall missing elements of the story. 

 

This was fun, romantic, and heavier fluff at times, a Regency to delightfully pass the time.

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review 2017-12-17 20:58
Sometimes, it's the things we don't expect, that turn out to be what we want...
In Case of Emergency: Gay Christmas Romance - Keira Andrews

Daniel and Cole first met 10 years ago as stepbrothers when they're parents had a passing thought to get married...the thought passed and took the marriage with it just as quickly. But Daniel's mother has reconnected with Cole, so when she learns that Cole's going to be in the same city as Daniel working on his thesis, well of course she insist that Cole use Daniel as his emergency contact and having no other friends or family Cole figures why not what's it going to hurt...after all no one every uses their emergency contact anyways, right? Well, until things happen and in Cole's case it's a trip on some stairs that lands him in the emergency room and has the university calling Daniel...his emergency contact...Daniel who's about to head out of town for a romantic holiday vacation with Justin his sorta'...kinda'...almost boyfriend.

 

So what's a man to do when he's left to care for his one time almost stepbrother who's got a broken wrist and a mild concussion and he's scheduled to go frolic in the snow with is almost boyfriend? Why take the almost stepbrother with him of course and this is where the fun begins.

 

It took a bit but I ended up liking Daniel. Initially Daniel was to say the least cold, standoffish and a bit of a jerk about Cole needing his help. While spending the holiday with Daniel is Cole's idea of a holiday in heaven he's also a really decent guy and he tries to convince Daniel to just leave him at home and he'd be fine. But once Daniel sets him mind to something he moves forward and doesn't change his mind. 

 

Once they arrive at the cabin, Daniel discovers in very short order that Justin not only isn't boyfriend material because really how wanted does one feel when the person they're planning on spending a romantic weekend with arrives at their romantic destination with with their own party...nope, Justin showed in real short order that he's someone who's just not even worth knowing. So in true Daniel fashion he makes the decision that things between him and Justin are over  before they really started...me likey this.

 

Finding themselves alone for the holidays the two men start to reconnect and Daniel soon realizes that even though Justin's gone his chance for romance and finding someone to love again is still there in the cabin with him.

 

I liked the epilogue. It was nice to get that peek ahead in time and see that what started when Daniel and Cole are reunited by an accident ended up as something real, solid and very intentional as these two men came together to make a life as a couple.

 

'In Case of Emergency' is a sweet, holiday romance with second chances a touch of hurt/comfort, sexy hot tub times, a bit of Star Wars and one of my favorite parts...no, there are no dragons, but Daniel and Cole are living and loving in CANADA!!!

 

Cole's attending Carlton University...that's my hubby's alma mater. Daniel attended Western (also known as UWO or the University of Western Ontario, it's in London a couple of hours from Toronto). Anyways, my point is that the setting for this one on a personal level just added to how much I enjoyed the story. Yeah, I'm a dork. I get a little bit excited when I read stories that are set in Canada but when it's a story with so many references that are familiar to me...well, it just makes it so easy for me to settle into the story and enjoy, which is exactly what I did.

 

*******************

A copy of 'In Case of Emergency' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-12-17 14:15
ARC Review: Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter, Jeffe Kennedy
Amid the Winter Snow: A Holiday Anthology - Grace Draven,Jeffe Kennedy,Thea Harrison,Elizabeth Hunter
Amid the Winter Snow

Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter, Jeffe Kennedy
Paranormal Romance - Science Fiction - Anthologies
Brightlynx Publishing
December 12th 2017
eBook
454
ARC Review Copy

 

As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night...

 

THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace Draven
The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

 

THE CHOSEN, by Thea Harrison
In her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

 

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

 

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe Kennedy
As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…

 

Goodreads

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Overall Rating of Amid the Winter Snow: 4 Stars

 

Amid the Winter Snow features four novellas that where charming, delightful, and engaging to read. Thea Harrison is the only author in this anthology I’m familiar with, so the other three were new to me. I was drawn into the stories and taken for a whirlwind ride of heartache, conflict, healing, and love. Each novella is distinct, special, and focuses around a winter holiday. Out of all the novellas featured the only one I didn’t care for was The Snows of Windroven by Jeffe Kennedy.

 

Below you will find my individual reviews for each novella in this anthology.

 

The Darkest Midnight by Grace Draven – 5 Stars

 

I very much loved The Darkest Midnight. I couldn’t put the story down and devoured from begging to end.

 

When we first meet Jahna she is only fifteen and being tormented by a group of girls. The Delyalda celebration is never a fun time for her; because of this. As the years move on we see her learn swordsman ship along side her brother as well as becoming an accomplished scholar by writing down all the stories she is told. At the begging we also meet Radimar he is seven years older then Jahna and to be her brothers sword master teacher for four years. We see how their relationship develops over the years. How the romance blossoms between them. It’s sad and sweet.

 

I liked how the author made the time move on and how the characters change and grow throughout years. It was also very sweet how Radimar helped coax Jahna to be more confident and have courage.

 

The Darkest Midnight was a remarkable, sweet, and captivating read.

 

*****

 

The Chosen by Thea Harrison – 4 Stars

 

I very much enjoy the Elder Race series and this novella was no exception.

 

Lily can see things and she’s been having dreams about two men battling. Now that Wulf has arrived on her doorstep she must choose sides. One will lead to happiness, while the other will lead to despair.

 

Wolf is a bad and good man wrapped up in one. He’s formidable and honorable too. Lily is the Chosen and leader of her people. I liked Lily and Wolf. Both knew the hardship of being leaders for their people and living with chooses that may not always turn out. Their chemistry together was wonderful, these two complemented each other, and their romance was enchanting.

 

The Chosen is a magical story full of confrontation and desire.

 

*****

 

The Storm by Elizabeth Hunter – 4.5 Stars

 

I was a bit unsure going into The Storm, but the more I read the more interesting the novella became and now I’m curious about reading the series this one takes place in the Iron Chronicles.

 

Renata & Maxim from what I got are side characters in the series or so it seams to me. Since I haven’t read the series I’m not positive. A lot happens; before these two meet and after they meet as well. Their courtship spans over 18-years.

 

The author showcase Renata and Maxim throughout the years. We get some of their backstory as well as little parts of information on what happens in the Iron Chronicles series too. I cried in a few parts throughout this novella. It’s hard to move on when your lose is so big, but Maxim never gives up on Renata and their love is captivating.

 

The Storm gives us loss, heartache, healing, love, and learning to let go and move on. It keeps up with the series it’s part of, but also stands very much on it’s own.

 

*****

 

The Snows of Windroven by Jeffe Kennedy – 2.5 Stars

 

This one was my least favorite. Why? Well we’re coming into the middle of this couples relationship or whatever it is between them. The backstory is lacking and from what I’ve discovered this novella is part of The Twelve Kingdoms series. Ami has her own story, The Tears of the Rose.

 

Ami is Queen and also an Avatar for a Goddess. She’s also got two young children from a previous marriage, not sure on how that relationship was, but we know her husband is dead. Ash is a low born, a half-blooded something, and was thrown in prison as a child for who knows what. Their relationship is push and pull. He knows deep down that he will have to let her go, even though he loves her and she loves him, but he keeps pulling away. It’s so back and forth. Also their is mention of a waking dragon at Castle Windroven, but that storyline/plot isn’t completed.

 

It feels like the reader is missing a lot if they haven’t read at least Ami’s book. The Snows of Windroven doesn’t feel like it can stand on it’s own. It needs the series to put things fully into view.

 

Was this review helpful? If so, please consider liking it on Goodreads (Angela)!

 

 

Challenge(s): New To Me (Authors) | Pick Your Genre (PNR) | New Releases (2017)

 

 

 

 

I was born and raised in Northern Indiana. I’m an outdoor sun loving reader living near San Fransisco. I’m a mother, wife, dog owner, animal, and book lover. I’m the owner, reviewer, and mind behind Angel’s Guilty Pleasures. My favorite animals are horses & dogs. As for reading I love all things paranormal & urban fantasy. My favorite shifters are dragons!

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Source: angelsguiltypleasures.com/2017/12/arc-review-amid-the-winter-snow-by-grace-draven-thea-harrison-elizabeth-hunter-jeffe-kennedy
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review 2017-12-17 07:57
Ask The Passengers by A.S. King
Ask the Passengers - A.S. King

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions...like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl. As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can't share the truth with anyone except the people she imagines flying over her at thirty thousand feet, and they don't even know she's there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers' lives--and her own--for the better.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Teenager Astrid Jones is in quite an emotional pickle right at this moment in her life. The family had to be all uprooted and relocated to small town New England because Astrid's mother is struggling with some sort of intense depression that affects her ability to work in a traditional workplace setting -- social anxiety? depression? agorophobia? a specific trauma that broke her? To be honest, the mother's situation is not explained in very much depth so I'm not entirely sure, but it's definitely put a strain on the family as a whole.

 

Then there's stoner dad constantly getting baked when nobody's looking but then acting like that's totally not what he's doing... only Astrid's mother seems to accept the act. 

 

Astrid herself is struggling in the normal "who am I and what are all these emotions all of a sudden?" teenage sense but between these two parents who can she turn to? She's muddling through a period of confused sexuality as she navigates her first relationship with a female co-worker but a solid, non-judgmental support system seems to be quite the unicorn in small-town, gossip-y UNITY (seriously, that's the name of the town here, of all things! lol), Pennsylvania. 

 

As a way to cope and to channel her inner pain and confusion into something good, she develops a two part system. Her days are spent studying philosophy (even creating a sort of imaginary friend out of Socrates, naming him "Frank" and imagining him next to her during her toughest moments), then spends evenings laying in the backyard waiting for planes to fly over her house. Once she spots one, she sends loving thoughts or questions up to the passengers, not expecting a response of course... but every so often she swears she can feel something bounce back. It's then that the story cuts to a passenger on one of these flights. The perspective switches from Astrid's first person voice to that of the passenger and we see the thin filament of thought that links them to Astrid.

 

When joining these stories, King uses just the lightest touch of magical realism. Their stories, whether it's through their inner thoughts or conversations with others, hint at the possibility that maybe Astrid's kind thoughts and questions are, in fact, somehow subconsciously reaching them and affecting their lives in the most subtle of ways, influencing their personal narratives. 

 

It seems impossible these days to be a Booktuber and not hear the name A.S. King come up at least once in awhile and I feel like this one got especially hyped when it first came out. Finally trying out King's work for myself, I did end up enjoying this story but at the same time was a little underwhelmed. The plot itself had a slow start for me but it did pick up as I progressed, but the writing was a little on the bland side. Or maybe it was the plot that was not edgy enough but something about this book felt like there was an opportunity to really take these themes somewhere big but in the end we just stay in the safe zone. 

 

That said, I did enjoy the characters (I just wasn't gut-wrenchingly invested in them) and I applaud King for the themes that were addressed here -- the concept of turning pain into thoughts of love for others, the ridiculousness of homophobia and the damage it causes when people have to keep the truth of their soul locked up to feel safe in this world, the pain of experiencing friends who will throw you under the bus, as the saying goes, to keep their own secrets safe from seeing the light of day. I even liked how the interludes of the passenger stories illustrate the idea that we're all maybe just a little more connected to each other than we realize. All super important topics to incorporate into a novel, I just wish they would've been delved into even more. 

 

* For those who wish to use this book as a book club pick, a reading discussion guide is included in the back of the book. 

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