Valentine’s Day is this Friday, and if you’re looking for something delightfully wicked to read, well, you’re in luck. Marked, an anthology of novellas by Lauren Dane, Vivian Arend, and Kit Rocha, releases today.
First stop is Sector Four. In Kit Rocha’s Beyond Temptation, we get Noah and Emma’s story. Noah thought he’d bought Emma’s freedom years ago, and contented himself with the knowledge she was safe in a mountain commune. He’s shocked to find she’s not only not in the mountains, but she’s an O’Kane, with the ink to prove it. It doesn’t take long for the two of them to succumb to their old attraction (one they’d never acted on in the past) but old ghosts and secrets are waiting to break them apart.
Temptation is probably my least favorite in the Beyond series. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still worth reading. In fact, you kind of have to, because it sets up what will likely be an important part of the overall arc of the series. The sex is hot, and dirty, and plentiful. Noah is angry and kind of dead inside, and I really liked him. There were two big problems that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the story, though: the length and Emma. The story felt compacted and rushed. Unlike with the previous two books, there’s not much build up to Noah and Emma’s story, so I didn’t feel as attached to the characters as I have with the previous books. And I have to confess, it took me a while to remember who Emma was. If she was in the first book, I don’t remember her. I barely remember her from the third book, and I think she might have had a scene in the second book. Or maybe that was in the third book as well. At any rate, she’s not around much before this. Whereas Noah, while he wasn’t introduced until Beyond Pain, and didn’t have a lot of page time, his contribution was important enough I remembered who he was right from the very beginning. Still, if you’ve read the series, you’ll want to read this one.
I’ve never been to Rocky Mountain House before, nor have I read anything by Vivian Arend, either, but after Rocky Ride, I want to go back and read her backlist, and I definitely want to read the next book in this series. RCMP Constable Anna Coleman doesn’t do anything that would be bad for her image as a law-abiding citizen sworn to uphold the law. Which means her entanglement with tattooed biker Mitch Thompson is kept to secret meetings and wicked hot sex. But Mitch wants more. He thinks they could have an actual relationship, something meaningful beyond the sheets. He gets Anna to agree, but convincing the community he’s not some sort of hellion is difficult when they can’t keep their hands off each other.
I adored Mitch. He’s a picture perfect case of don’t judge a book by its cover. Under those tats is a sweet, caring guy, one who would do just about anything to make Anna happy. The sex is hot (very hot) and sometimes sweet and tender. For her part, Anna’s thinking that Mitch is an inappropriate partner changes a little too quick to be believable, but once she makes a choice to be with Mitch, she sticks with it. Ride is the first in the Thompson and Sons series, and we get peeks at the rest of Mitch’s family. I can’t wait to see what Arend has planned for the rest of the Thompsons.
The world has suffered a plague in Lauren Dane’s All that Remains, and those left have rebuilt society to adapt to higher temperatures and lower birth rates. Summer’s been in Paradise Village for a year when Charlie swings onto her radar and immediately makes his interest known. She’s all for it – until she finds out Charlie’s already taken. By the man who left Summer four years ago. Charlie and Hatch are a packaged deal, and they both want Summer. She’s never been a part of a triad before, and she’s not sure getting involved with Hatch again is the smartest idea.
The world Dane’s created here is vivid and, well, paradise-like. It’s hot (literally) and the village is full of migrant workers who come to help with the harvest. People barter or pay with cash. There’s electricity and running water, yet the place seems primitive in some ways. I liked Charlie. Of the three, he had the least baggage and often acted as a buffer between Summer and Hatch. And to an extent, I liked Summer. She had her reasons for resisting Hatch’s overtures, and therefore Charlie’s, but she was willing to give them both a chance to see if things could work between them. Her relationship with her sister, Dulce, is strong, and this is one of my favorite parts of Dane’s books – the friendships between women. Summer has people outside of Charlie and Hatch she can rely on and talk to, and I loved seeing it. But at times her hesitations and reactions seemed overblown. Hatch…Hatch felt underdeveloped. This was really Summer’s story, and she had the most growing to do, but Hatch, as the source of her issues, should have felt fuller, and he didn’t. Remains is the first book in her new Metamorphosis series, and book two is about Summer’s sister, Dulce. Dulce’s pretty broken, and I’m intrigued enough to want to know how she’s going to be healed to want to read the next book.
A solid anthology with three worthwhile stories…and it would make a perfect Valentine’s gift for someone who likes their smexy a little (or a lot) dirty.
Copy of Marked provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.