Tag Archives: four stars

Book Review: The Impaler’s Wife by Autumn Bardot

If you haven’t checked the updates to our review policy, please do. I am taking over in the meantime. Our latest I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Impaler’s Wife by Autumn Bardot. What a great read! 😀

The test of a good book is one that successfully tells a tale from which you can’t turn away. The test of a good writer is one who constructs characters anyone can care about, even if their beliefs may not align with the reader. Suspension of disbelief, and being drawn into the fictional world is key. Bardot’s The Impaler’s Wife is one such title. This gothic romance is thrilling, with unerring historical accuracy, and a hint of the legend of Dracula which most have heard of.

I love tales about Dracula, and this one is just as fascinating. Housed in historical fiction, complete with gory descriptions of war and a tale of unrivaled passion, The Impaler’s Wife gives us a unique take on not only the legend of Dracula, but also a story of the man himself. Who is Vlad the Impaler? And, who is Ilona, the strong, amazing woman that falls for him?

As a reader, I was yanked into the tale from page one, equal parts mystified throughout, and by turns horrified yet unusually resigned to the circumstances. This book may test your faith in…well, everything you think you know. Bardot has an uncanny ability to make one of the most vilified historical figures utterly human. Or is he far more than that?

Ilona really comes into her own from the first time we encounter her – and that pivotal moment when Vlad approaches her – to the well-rounded, confident, strong female she becomes by the end of the book. I enjoyed learning about both characters.

So…is Dracula just a story? It is tempting to think otherwise. Bardot may make you a believer too. Take a chance on this read. You won’t be disappointed!

I give this a rating of four hearts for an outstanding, unforgettable reading experience. Fantastic job, Autumn! ♥

Book Info:

A young woman is swept into a life of intrigue, revenge, passion, and betrayal when she falls for the world’s most notorious prince.

The year is 1464 and young King Matthias controls Hungary, his family, and the fate of the world’s most notorious political prisoner, Prince Vlad Dracula.

Ilona Szilágy, the king’s cousin, is young and ambitious. Dracula is determined to marry into the Hunyadi family. It is love at first sight, but the king has other plans. The Impaler Prince, however, never takes no for an answer.

This begins Ilona’s journey into the treacherous world of court intrigues, family betrayals, and her husband’s dark desires. Eager to become Vlad’s trusted confidante, Ilona soon discovers that marriage to a man tortured by his past comes with a price.

Woven throughout is a peek into the life and times of one of the world’s most enigmatic and maligned rulers…the man before the legend.

With Bardot’s decadent period detail and a cast of gritty, evocative characters, The Impaler’s Wife offers a fierce yet sensuous glimpse into the violent 15th century.

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3ygVlv

Here are some teasers!

And the book trailer…

Plus, an intriguing excerpt!

Prince Vlad rests his hand on the small of my back. “Come, Lady Ilona, look at the faces of anarchy and villainy, and see how much they resemble your friends and family.”

“I will not.” I back away from the entrance where moans rise from the bowels of the labyrinth like a demon’s song.

“The choice is yours, of course.” His tone is low and gentle, but in the lamplight his stare is wolf-like.

I shift from foot to foot, look away, only to glance back. Does he hear my heart knocking against my breast? Can he smell my fear as it beads wet on my neck? Do I want to rise to this challenge? Or am I a fool for allowing him to bait me?

My fingers tighten around the lamp’s clay handle. “I will humor you, my lord, but only because Father taught me courage and graciousness.”

“Mihály taught you well.” He holds out his hand. “My lady.”

The lamp divides the darkness like a saber, each foot forward lighting our descent into hell. Ghostly groans from below seep through the rock. I sink into Vlad’s fur-lined coat as though their suffering will soak into my soul.

Vlad pauses before descending the narrow rock steps leading into the labyrinth’s deepest level. “Are you certain?” His eyes glint with challenge. “A weak constitution is nothing to be ashamed of.”

I lift my chin and glare with pretended insult. “I am the daughter of Michael Szilágyi and Margit Báthory. Iron courage flows in my blood.” I push back my cuff and show him the blue-forked veins in my wrist. “I am as brave as Hadak Ura, our ancient pagan warlord.”

“I believe you, my lady. I will not doubt again.”

The clanking chains and eerie moans get louder with each step down, the noises merging into a demonic choir like that of Ördög’s requiem to the Underworld. My legs shake, my neck wet with icy prickles, and my skin tightens around my chest.

I lift the lamp into hell.

The circle of light shines upon a pockmarked man stretching his arm between the bars, his fingers curled like claws. “Bless me, good sister.”

In the cell next to him, a naked wretch spits onto the ground. “Menj a fenébe!”

“I am innocent!” A third prisoner grabs the bars and presses his wild-bearded face against the iron. “Tell His Highness there is a Turkish spy in his court. He is in danger! You must warn him!”

My head swivels toward Prince Vlad.

“There are always spies,” Vlad whispers.

I walk with measured pace and let the lantern reveal each doomed prisoner. Most stare, empty-eyed; the whips, chains, skin shredders, bone crushers, and strappado take away all hope and spirit. Others shout obscenities. One man kneels, hands in prayer, and mutters the Hail Mary.

The weight of their misery crashes down, squeezes my heart, and crushes my breath. This place must be worse than hell’s torments because these wretches yet live, have all their faculties! No one deserves this! It is inhumane! Sadistic and depraved!

My breath comes in shreds and clumps. I cover my nose with Prince Vlad’s cape, the stench of rotting flesh enfolding me in its putrid embrace. My pace quickens. It is time to end this test of my courage.

“You!” A milky-eyed wretch points to Prince Vlad and begins chanting in a foreign tongue.

Prince Vlad guides me away from the cells. “You have thrice over proven your courage tonight.”

“What language was that man speaking?”

“He recites from the Corpus Hermeticum.” Dracula takes the lantern and illuminates the stairwell. “It’s a pagan book of alchemy, astronomy, and metaphysics.”

“It sounded like he cursed us.”

“Pay no attention to a madman’s rants. That particular book is nothing but Egyptian and Greek nonsense.”

I tread upwards, evil’s chill clinging to my limbs. At the top, I try to purge the dungeon’s misery, malice, and madness with a long exhalation. Yet the horror sticks like nettles in my soul.

“This way.” I move past the dark tunnel and enter the lighted one, relieved to put space and distance between the prisoners and me.

The tunnel ends at a large grotto where Prince Vlad pauses to light the ring of torches affixed to the walls. I wait on a stone bench near the baptismal fount, sighing with relief as the golden glow of the church-like arches infuse peace into my troubled soul.

Prince Vlad sits beside me. “We go from hell to heaven.”

I tuck a stray lock behind my ear. “This was Father’s favorite grotto. God’s Buried Cathedral, he called it. His second favorite has a Titan-sized head emerging from the ground—like a god got stuck in molten rock. I was only in that grotto once. It reminded me of an insect trapped in tree sap that ages to amber—the insect forever entombed—never aging, almost alive in its resin grave.”

“Do you find that horrific or beautiful?” His eyes search mine.

“Both, I suppose.” My shoulders move into my sigh. “Caves are dreary places.”

“I rather enjoy them. Tunnels have saved my life several times.” Dracula stands. “I think we are both ready for fresh air.” He offers his hand, its warmth a familiar comfort.

Together we walk through the tunnel lit by small lanterns that flicker like fireflies all the way to the exit.

Prince Vlad gives the stubborn iron-crossed door a hard yank and it groans open. Outside, a sapphire dawn drapes over Buda.

“On no.” My hands fly to my face. “It’s so late it’s early.” Were we in the tunnels that long? If my aunts discover I never returned to my room…I spin about, my voice edged with panic. “I have to go back. Now.”

Vlad’s brows crease with concern. He tugs a handkerchief from his robe and touches it to my lips as though dabbing at a smudge. “There’s something I must do first.” He lays the linen over my lips and sets his mouth on mine.

Even through the thin fabric, his lips sear my own. I part my lips, feel the linen moisten with the breath of our lust. I collapse into him, my body sizzling with desire. I am about to rip away the fabric and taste his lips when he breaks the kiss.

Vlad Dracula steps back, the handkerchief between thumb and forefinger. “If you marry Luigi della Scala, you will still be chaste.” He drags the handkerchief across his mouth. “I will always have this.”

Chaste? Prince Vlad just violated my heart and corrupted my flesh!

Back in my chambers, I touch my lips that still burn with the memory of our kiss—my first kiss—and groan. Vlad Dracula used my virtue, conceit, and fears to study the labyrinth’s secrets. He took advantage of my desire for romantic adventure to learn the escape route.

AUTHOR: Autumn Bardot

TITLE: The Impaler’s Wife

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Gothic Romance

RELEASE DATE: March 27, 2019

PUBLISHER: Flores Publishing

ISBN/ASIN: B07NKJX7R8

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Marie Lavender

Get your copy of this new release today!

Up next time: Unglorious War by Maxine Flam

Thanks for reading our latest book review on ILRB!

4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Book News, book reviews, Books, Event, Fiction, Gothic, Historical, Historical Romance, rating, Readers, Reviews, Romance, score, steamy, Writing

Book Review: Take My Heart by J.J. Sorel

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Take My Heart by J.J. Sorel. Give me a book set in NYC with a relatable main character, a sexy bad boy, and a delightfully devious old woman any day.

Ava and Cassie start out this full-length novel and I was a fan of Ava from the start. Money is certainly a regular topic in the story, but whoever complained about having too much money? When Ava meets her boyfriend’s bad-boy brother for the first time, the heat in the room rises a few degrees at least.

While most (if not all) romances include a leading lady who is looking for an earth-shattering romance, none that I’ve read before had a foul mouthed, sophisticated older woman pulling the strings.

With a bad boy we can all fall in love with and extensive descriptions that leave little to the imagination, Bronson will surely be in my dreams for days.

For its well-written, fully realized characters, a great storyline and steamy hot romance – I give Take My Heart By J.J. Sorel 4 HEARTS!

Read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Recommended Read

Book Info:

AVA – I’ve never been in love. Never felt that fire or been so desperate for a man’s touch that he’s all I can think about.
Then Bronson Lockhart walks into the party I’m at with my boyfriend, Justin.  Everyone notices him. How could they not? He’s ridiculously good looking with that dark, brooding masculinity that inspires dirty thoughts of the sweetest kind…

Too bad he’s also Justin’s adopted brother.

And they clearly hate each other. Yet I can’t help but notice the way Bronson looks at me that sets my pulse thrumming.  I can’t help wondering how his lips would feel on mine…  My new boss: a wealthy, eccentric old woman hidden away in her opulent penthouse with only her secrets and me to keep her company, tells me to follow my heart by surrendering to my deepest desires rather than act sensibly.
But I barely know Bronson, even though he seems determined to change that.

As I submit to desire and fall into his buff arms, a battle brews between my head and heart: are those hungry kisses and caresses a con?

BRONSON – Locked up for a crime I didn’t commit, I vowed to do two things when I got out–find my birth parents and make my brother pay for setting me up.  Now I’m out of jail and ready to set my plan for revenge in motion, starting with seducing his girlfriend. Not that it will be a chore.
Ava’s beauty stole my breath the moment I laid eyes on her. Sassy, intelligent, and sexy as hell, she’s got curves that fuel my darkest desires.
But what starts as revenge soon turns into something more. I want her…crave the sweet taste of her. Hell, who am I kidding? I’m falling for her. But as secrets about my adoption start to unravel, I discover a startling connection to Ava’s boss.
Was my meeting Ava a setup… or destiny?

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/mYrBJw

Here’s a peek at the book…

I enjoyed sitting out in the open air surrounded by trees and earthy, floral aromas. It was a clear night with a pearly moon that beamed a ripple onto the swimming pool.

Fanning away smoke that suddenly blew in my direction, I looked up and noticed Bronson, his back to me, puffing on a cigarette. He turned and, noticing me there, distanced himself.

My eyes were drawn to him in a way I wished they weren’t. Under the moonlight, he seemed like an almost mystical being bathed in shadow, especially when the smoke formed a halo around him.

He turned again and said, “Is the smoke annoying you?”

I put my fork down and ran my tongue around my lips to wash away the chocolate. “Um… no. It’s okay. I’m kind of used to it, anyway.”

A slight shift of the brow was his only response, and then he went back to smoking while looking up at the sky.

“I work for a lady who smokes a lot.”

He turned and faced me again. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to be left alone. He didn’t exactly give anything away with that remote stare.

“She makes sure she’s on the balcony, though.” As I babbled, a little voice within told me to stop, because he wasn’t exactly encouraging me with that gaze that bordered on blank, even though I detected a whisper of depth in there somewhere. He just kept sucking on his cigarette as if his life depended on it.

Perhaps it was the champagne and the sugar hit because I kept talking anyway. “I read for her, you see. She also makes me mix martinis.”

After a moment and one more drag on his cigarette, he said, “With an olive?” A hint of a smirk touched his lips and boy… he wore it well.

I remained transfixed. “Um… no. Hmm… that’s funny.” I chuckled in a goofy way. “I have to admit I’d never mixed a martini in my life. I hadn’t even tried one. Until now, that is. She makes me join her, which means I always leave with a smile.”

“She sounds interesting.”

“Agatha’s a cross between Miss Havisham and Greta Garbo.”

“Let me guess,” he responded, butting out his cigarette. “A lonely woman with revenge in her heart who slinks about demanding to be left alone.”

My eyes brightened. “Justin didn’t know what I was talking about when I described her as that earlier. I’m impressed.”

He shrugged. “Let’s just say I’ve had plenty of time to read.”

“Then you’re a rare being because these days not many people read. And to be honest, when I got this job being asked to do just that, reading from a book that I hold so close to my heart, I nearly broke out in a happy rash…. I…” I suddenly lost my chain of thought, mainly because he ran his tongue over his cushiony lips again.

“You were saying?” His voice had a deep, guttural resonance that suited him perfectly.

“Just that I feel blessed. It hasn’t been easy lately. I had the worst boss ever, and then I landed this job.”

“Do you always break out in a rash when you’re happy?” His lips twitched into a hint of a smile.

I giggled. “No. Sorry. I’ve had a bit of champagne, and I tend to say silly things.”

“Silly’s entertaining.”

His eyes burrowed deep into me again. And the best I could return was a cheesy tight smile. I looked down at my half-eaten cake, and strangely, my appetite had gone. “Do you have a favorite author?”

“Do you?” he asked.

“I think I love Emily Bronte.”

Wuthering Heights,” he returned. I must have shown my surprise because he added, “Why that look? Am I giving off some kind of illiterate vibe?”

“No. Not at all,” I lied, because he was the last person I’d expected to know of Wuthering Heights. “I’m sorry. Most younger guys don’t really go for books like that.”

“I’m not like most younger guys.” His eyes darkened again. He’d gotten that right. There weren’t too many guys I’d met who read books, let alone looked like him.

He came toward me, and as I sat there staring up at him in suspense, for I wasn’t sure what he was about to do, my heart raced.

He leaned in, and placing his finger on my cheek, he wiped it gently.

“You had a brown mark there.” His eyes softened slightly. He put his finger in his mouth in a way that made me want to sigh. It was so suggestive. “Mm… chocolate. Nice,” he rasped as if he’d dipped his finger somewhere forbidden.

I wanted to speak but lost my voice due to that subtle cologne scent wafting up my nostrils, combined with his melty brown eyes boring into me.

“Um… Yeah, I…” As I stammered, seeking a coherent response, Justin and Marcus came out, holding cigars and laughing loudly.

Bronson turned to face them. The brothers’ obvious cold regard for one another made me think of the classic Cain and Abel relationship.

AUTHOR: J.J. Sorel

TITLE: Take My Heart

GENRE: steamy romantic suspense, some erotica

RELEASE DATE: January 8, 2019

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN:  B07MFSZ6Z2

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: The Key of F by Jennifer Haskin

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Book News, Book Release, book reviews, Books, Contemporary, Erotica, Event, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Romantic Suspense, score, steamy, Writing

Book Review: Beneath This Mask by Meghan March

Hi, readers! Please welcome Kevin Ethan, our new official book reviewer, to ILRB! He’ll be hanging out with us once a week from now on, taking the time to give us his take on ⭐the coolest romance novels⭐! 😎

Let’s give him a hand… 😉

Kevin, take it away and show us what you have for today.

Thanks! ❤ This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Beneath This Mask by Meghan March. I have to tell you that I just kept reading and reading! The story, which juxtaposes the “normal” romance roles, will definitely keep you interested.

Charlotte was a rich girl with many, many silver spoons. But, when her father is locked in a cell without a key, she has to learn to find her own way. Falling off the grid and on the run from the FBI, Charlotte “Charlie” Agoston leaves the world of Chanel and Armani for one of classic rock band t-shirts and her favorite pair of chucks.

When a group of drunk guys wander into her workplace, Charlie is quick to give them the brush-off. Her new, no-nonsense attitude, body art, and piercing eyes catch Simon’s attention, though.

He’s a Navy veteran and congressman’s son who, in my mind’s eye, is hot hot HOT. When Charlie decides to have one night of fun, it’s Simon who turns away. From there, the story takes some great twists and turns that you’ll just have to read for yourself by getting your copy FREE on Amazon.

The author, who was also a lawyer in real life, puts her legal knowledge to use while still keeping you engaged in the romance. I found myself really feeling for (and kind of in love with) Simon, who was ready to be all-in. But, with Charlie’s past, she’s the one always running away.

The author definitely understands building suspense, but in this case, the suspense is sexual tension. Unlike some books that put it all out there (Wham, bam, thank ya’ ma’am), the author keeps you warm without overheating, you know? At least in the beginning.

My only point of real contention with the book has to do with Simon. As an Afghan war veteran, he is revealed to have PTSD. On the plus side, he seeks help, which is amazing! On the flip-side, though, the author has somehow attached his PTSD to Charlie and the relief she provides. It really boils down to, “I’ve had PTSD for 4 years! But my girlfriend healed me!”

As a vet myself, I have to say, “That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!” So, in the future, my advice would be to research the affliction before you attempt to heal it.

In the end, though, I love a happily ever after (HEA). So, if you’re looking for your book’s characters to find everything they ever wanted, this one is for you.

The story is interesting, and the romance is hot, but with some of the parts leaving me saying, “Really?!” – I give Beneath This Mask by Meghan March 4 HEARTS!

Recommended Read

Book Info:

Former Navy fighter pilot. Son of a congressman. Successful businessman in my own right. With a résumé like mine, women have never been a challenge.

Until I met her.

This sexy, tatted-up bad girl wasn’t part of my plans, but that punch to my gut every time I see her tells me I have to know more.

She’s a mystery. An enigma. A challenge.

I’m going to figure her out—and then I’m going to make her mine.

We’ll find out what she’s hiding… beneath this mask.

 

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/4NGANz

AUTHOR: Meghan March

TITLE: Beneath This Mask (book one of the Beneath Series)

GENRE: contemporary/military/romantic suspense

RELEASE DATE: September 29, 2014

PUBLISHER: Red Dress Press

ISBN/ASIN: B00NQ1EVG4

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

5 Comments

Filed under Blogging, book reviews, Books, Contemporary, Event, free books, Military Romance, Readers, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Writing

Great 4 Star Review for SCH!

Second Chance Heart by Marie Lavender #mf #romance #review @marielavender1


 

Second Chance Heart - final cover

After a wild storm forces her to take shelter in a small town inn, Dana Nelson thinks that all she has to worry about is a brief stay before she heads back to the city. She gets far more than she bargained for…

The last thing she expects is to run into an old flame, and even worse, the man who broke her heart twelve years ago. She’s sure that the only thing remaining between them is a strong attraction for another.

She can’t be more wrong…

The more time she spends with Vince Reynolds, the more she begins to believe she can trust him again. But, can she put her faith in the one man who captivates her, body and soul, or are some wounds too deep to heal?

 

A sweet short story about love, betrayal, and facing the past with an open heart and mind. But, for such a short story, it packs a huge punch. Dana and Vince used to be a couple until he ripped her heart out. They come face to face years later and he feels terrible for hurting her so badly. Dana feels a whole host of emotions when she sees her ex, not knowing if she can move on and forgive him for his betrayal.

The author did a great job of creating characters who not only feel intensely, but whole heartedly in so little words. It was sad, romantic, heart-breaking, and endearing all at the same time. Definitely worth the little time it takes to read!

 

Kindle | Nook

5 Comments

Filed under Authors, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Marie Lavender, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Stories, Writing

Great 4 Star Review for Second Nature on Readers’ Favorite!

Source: Great 4 Star Review for Second Nature on Readers’ Favorite!

2 Comments

Filed under Authors, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Uncategorized, Writing

Double Reviews for Second Nature!

Great news! I just found two new awesome book reviews for Second Nature, my latest paranormal romance/urban fantasy release!  Yay! Here is one from Crystal’s Many Reviewers site:

I’ll go ahead and admit it. Ever since Twilight, I’ve been a sucker for the forbidden human/vampire romance. That’s what attracted me to this book, and I was not disappointed.

 

Desiree has lost in love big time. She found her husband with another woman and now has supported her own sister in getting married and expecting a baby. She’s happy for the people in her life who deserve and get love, but finds herself wishing it could be for her. Alec is a vampire. He’s old, and has a system for getting his needs met. But when Desiree comes into the picture, she turns his world upside down. Can they make this unconventional love and passion work? Or is it doomed before it can begin?

 

This book was a pretty exciting read. It was not a traditional love story at all, in my opinion. I mean, it kind of has a creepy stalker type vibe to it. But hey, the guys a vampire…not human…so it works. It doesn’t try to fit Alec into the confines of the human world, and I think that’s why I was able to overlook a bit of his creepiness. I guess you could say that the world building was good enough that the whole thing came together pretty well and was an easy to follow and interesting story.

 

I thought this book went a bit deeper into the romance than these books tend to. It’s a bit overdramatic in parts, but for the most part I thought the questions it raises about the nature of relationships were very interesting. Overall, I enjoyed it. 4 stars.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

SecondNature-final cover

And here is another review from Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you, Sara!

4.0 out of 5 stars I love a steamy vampire story, February 8, 2015
By
This review is from: Second Nature (Blood At First Sight Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book. It was hot, sweet and cute.
Even though the beginning wasn’t all that inspiring, what with the attack for a bite turned into almost rape that was actually consensual but still really weird. Yeah, it’s complicated. It was a bit surreal that scene. But then after that it got much better. I’m still not a huge fan of insta-love but I guess we could say they were soul mates and fated to be together.
Needless to say, I loved Alec. Well, except for the first glimpse of him in the beginning and that scene of the first bite. After that I started to increasingly like him. And oh how hot he was. I love my vampire books with some steamy sex, and this got plenty. My hormones are grateful.
I liked Desiree. Mostly. There were moments when I was like “Dude, what the hell are you doing?! Are you nuts?” And wanted to swat at her head for being stupid. But I mostly liked her. Her family was also lovely. I’m shocked that she didn’t realize the truth sooner though. I mean, it was pretty obvious looking at her and then at them. Desiree’s father and sister were really sweet though.
The ending was cute.

—-

How exciting to get hit with two at once!  🙂

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Authors, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fantasy, Fiction, Love, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Writing