Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: Her Bareback Cowboys

The talented Ylette Pearson recently released an erotic cowboy ménage romance, and I had the honor of reading and reviewing it. Let me just tell you ... I've already read the book twice. Before we get to my review, here's a little info on Ylette and Her Bareback Cowboys (available from Totally Bound Publishing and all major ebook outlets). 

Author Profile:

Being naughty doesn't mean you can't be nice. Ylette Pearson writes both naughty and nice - depending on the mood. She enjoys the outdoors much more than being cooped up indoors and is often found sitting under a tree with the laptop on her lap. South African born, Ylette enjoys exploring the diversity of cultures, sights and sounds unique to the African continent.


When riding bareback proves too much of a temptation to resist…

When the Groundhog Saddle Company awards twenty-six-year-old freelance photographer divorcee, Adrian Barlow the coveted assignment of advertising their saddles and other leather products, she jumps at the opportunity. Her bank account is in dire need of replenishing and her reputation as a photographer hangs by a shred over a bottomless abyss. Even when her employer informs her that her duties include playing babysitter for the two cowboys they hired for the job, she doesn’t complain. She needs the money too much to be fussy.

Texan rodeo stars Wade Randall and Maverick Green agree to play fashion model for a couple of months because Wade needs the money to buy his own ranch in Texas and Maverick must rest his injured shoulder. However, nothing prepared them for the sight of Adrian when she collects them at the OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa.

The attraction between the three is instantaneous and the sexual tension so thick it clogs up the interior of Adrian’s four-wheel-drive Toyota Land Cruiser, but none of them are in the market for a serious relationship. Adrian’s past sexual mistakes caused her financial misery and she has no desire for a repeat performance while the men’s plans for life exclude permanent partners for a long time to come.

Isolated on a working farm in the Highveld of the Mpumalanga Province, Adrian is unable to resist the sexual pleasures the two cowboys promise. With the firm understanding that none of them wants a serious relationship, they embark on a journey of sexual discovery that melts the cold winter days.

However, when old acquaintances from Adrian’s past arrive, she learns that over-indulgence always comes at a price…

A little teaser to whet your appetite...


Two horses stood patiently in the corral, their breaths fanning steam in front of their faces, giving them the appearance of dragons. Today the horses wore brand-new saddles with thick blankets draped underneath. The door to the stables opened and Maverick strode outside.
Adrian caught her breath. Dressed in faded jeans covered with leather chaps, a blue checkered shirt, boots with spurs spinning and a Stetson plopped on his head, he made her ache to depress the shutter. She brought the camera to her eye and took some impromptu pictures, trying to ignore the raw sex appeal heating the chilly morning air and tying her insides in a knot. His breath misted in a plume as he approached.
“Morning. You’re up early.”
She returned his greeting and waited for him to join her. He hugged her and a tremor ran down her spine. He smelled of old wood cologne, fresh hay and horses. The combination drowned her senses in pleasure.
He lifted her chin and his blue eyes darkened. “You’re even more beautiful today than yesterday.”
She stood motionless as his lips descended on hers, capturing them in a soft caress. Her eyes closed of their own volition and when he swiped his tongue over her lower lip, she opened her mouth to his invasion. Her insides liquefied as his tongue explored the intimate corners of her mouth.
After he’d let her go, Adrian fought for breath and clung to his arm to keep upright. If a kiss sent her reeling, she couldn’t wait to find out how she’d feel if he was in full seduction mode.
“I can think of better things to do this morning than taking photos.” He started toward the house, dragging her along.
Wade met them at the door and pulled Adrian into his arms. “Work before play, Maverick. Remember we agreed?”
“I know, I know,” Maverick groaned. “But it’s going to be a bloody long day.”
Adrian hugged Wade to her. “Are you guys ready for some more work?”
Both nodded.
He squeezed her shoulder before dropping his arm and pointing in the direction of a clump of trees on the ridge. “We want to explore the ridge this morning, if it suits you?” He glanced at her. “Are you joining us?”
“Not on horseback. I’ll take my car like yesterday. Are you guys willing to get up a little earlier tomorrow so we can get the shots at the creek?”
“Sure,” Maverick answered. “Do you need a lot more photos?”
She wanted to say yes and keep them with her longer, but judging by how productive they’d been the previous day, she couldn’t see it happening.
“No, we should finish tomorrow.” She fiddled with the camera strap and started toward the house. “I’m getting some coffee. Care for some?”
Less than an hour later, and after a hearty breakfast, the silhouettes of the men disappeared over the hill. Adrian steered her vehicle along the dirt track leading up the mountain.

My review:

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own, therefore I urge you to read the book and form your own.*

Plot: 19/20
Dialogue: 19/20
Pacing: 19/20
Romance: 20/20
Editing: 19/20 (A few missing words, but they didn't bother me.)

Total: 96%
Final Rating: 5 stars!

To be honest, I don't think this review will do this book justice. Where do I even start? Hmm, how about the writing? Solid and well done. I usually skim through descriptions, sometimes I even skip them, but in this case...I was hooked. The descriptions were simply magical. The book drew me in, grounded me, made me feel like I was there. I could see everything clearly and from so few words.

Adrian, our heroine, finally lands a huge photography assignment after an incident in her past blacklisted her and ruined her career. Grateful for the second chance and determined to prove her worth, she's not willing to do anything, or anyone, to jeopardize it. But, of course, passion, lust, and compatibility don't always play by the rules. The three can't keep their hands off each other. The sex scenes were smokin' hot! They had me fanning my face and drinking lots of water ;) . But it wasn't just about the sex. It was about a love so deep and selfless it didn't let egos or fear ruin a good thing. About relentlessly working through issues and fighting for what you truly desire.

How about the stars of the show? The Cowboys. Alpha. Sweet. Romantic. Sexy as sin. You won't get any complaints from me. I loved them both, and they each brought something different to the table. Wade, the brooding, rugged heartthrob who didn't let his painful past stop him from getting the woman he wanted, making her the center of his attention. Maverick, oh boy, the charmer, brightening any situation with his gorgeous blue eyes and his smile, but also flexing his muscles and stepping forward when anyone threatened his gal. What's not to love? I especially liked the way the author worked around their alpha personalities and jealousy, making it possible for them to share. Character development was on point!

Hmm, the plot...exciting, unpredictable (at least for me), with a hint of suspense. It escalated at every turn, with a couple of twists to keep me guessing. I read this book in one sit. Couldn't put it down.I just loved it and, of course, I recommend it. *Thumbs up!*

Her Bareback Cowboys is available at these stores and other major ebook outlets:

Ylette's online profiles:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review : At Second Glance by Vicki Ballante

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own, therefore I urge you to read the book and form your own.*

Book: At Second Glance

Author: Vicki Ballante

Plot: 16/20 

Dialogue: 16/20
Pacing: 16/20
Romance: 18/20
Editing: 19/20 (Two mistakes spotted, nothing distracting.)

Total: 85%

Final Rating: 4.5 stars!

This book had a refreshing take on the erotic romance genre. A majority of the books I've read lately are filled with lust-on-tap, psychotic loons posing as Alphas, and insta-love. This book, though sizzling hot, maintained a sweet, funny, almost-wholesome edge to it. The couple's attraction, internal conflicts, and road to reconciliation were grounded in reality - difficult choices real people have to make. Everyday issues they have to overcome: low self-esteem, communication breakdown, assuming the worst, loss of faith, and fear of failure.

Merryn - I related to her in so many ways, and I'm sure most women who've ever loved someone with all their heart will. How she blamed herself for the break-up.... Maybe I wasn't good enough; maybe I didn't fight hard enough; maybe I wasn't pretty enough. And when a second chance comes knocking? A barrage of "What ifs?" The terror of opening your heart to the same person who trampled on it, made you feel worthless, even if it was unintentional. We get to see her grow, build her confidence, and learn to love herself before she can love anyone else. It was a joy to see her embrace her sexuality and not apologize for it. To see her get out of her head and live a little.
At times, the seesaw of her emotions and introspection became a little repetitive, rehashing the same fears, and slowing the pacing. But let's be many of us don't overthink things when we're scared out of our minds? Again, realistic. Relatable.

Kirk - Funny, handsome, strong...with a deep love and new-found respect for his lady. Yes, they both had faults that resulted in the divorce, but this sweet man decided to fight for his woman. Even when she wavered, he had enough faith and love for the both of them. Refusing to give up on her. He, too, grew. From enjoying a fast paced life and wanting everything his way, to learning to compromise and listen.

The overall story - I enjoyed it! Especially when Panda and Hedge interacted. And when their true identities came to light. How they tried to fight the magnetic attraction...but found themselves gravitating towards each other. Again, and again.
The hot sex.
I loved how they didn't gloss over who they were. How there were no psycho tendencies. No needless angst or bitterness.
But yes, I wished for more dialogue. Not about the divorce per se, but about personal stuff, so we could get to know them out of work and the bedroom, e.g., do they have other family? Parents, brothers, sisters? How did their upbringing factor into their character traits? Didn't any of Kirk's post-divorce serious relationships pop up? What about the latest date? Would've loved to see them discuss the past and misunderstandings earlier, then deal with these questions and others to keep the stakes 

But otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel and will be looking forward to the author's next release. I recommend it. *Thumbs up*

Online Links for Vicki:

Happy Release Day, Vicki Ballante!

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by. Today we have the pleasure of Vicki Ballante's company for a session I'd like to call, "Woman behind the Word." We're going to have a lil chat about the release of her debut erotic romance and all things fun and romantic.
Before we start things off, here's the blurb of her sweet 'n spicy book, At Second Glance:
Four years after her divorce, Merryn decides she’s ready to find someone. Joining an online singles site, she connects with the perfect guy. Funny, sexy, sensitive. When he suggests they meet, excitement compels her to say yes.

Kirk pines for his ex-wife, but realizes he must move forward. After several stimulating online chats, he believes she might be the one for him. Smart, sexy, willing to experiment and learn. But when he happens across his ex, all his plans fly out the window.

Will Merryn learn to relax and have fun without giving her heart? Can Kirk forget the past and become the man he longs to be?

Enticing, yes? I agree.
Great. Now, let's welcome the lovely author into the lurv seat (a nicer version of the hot seat). Hi there, Ms. Ballante. Thank you so much for gracing us with your lovely presence today. How are you? And how's the new Spring weather in KZN, South Africa?

Thank you, Gaeille. I feel privileged to be on your blog. I’m great, thanks. Spring hasn’t hit us properly yet. It’s still cold in the mornings but the days are getting warmer. I’ll be happy when the first rains arrive.

Sounds just like the Johannesburg weather. Now, I'd like to start this get-to-know Vicki session with a few ice breakers if that's okay with you. First chip off the berg--something simple... What's your favorite book?

Oh my!! That’s a very hard question. I’ve read so many wonderful books, I don’t know if I could ever say I have a favorite.

Ha-ha, I totally understand. Okay, we'll drop that one. How about your favorite song?

This changes from time to time. At the moment, I love “Shatter Me” by Lindsey Stirling.

Beef or Chicken?


Hmm, let's up the heat. Who do you think should be named Sexiest Man Alive 2014? (Besides your man, of course.)

Probably Colin Firth. Is it the British accent? Dunno. But he may be getting a bit old now.

Every time I see that name I just think, Mr. Darcy. Colin may be getting old, but he's still got it. And the accent doesn't hurt ;) Next question, who would you like to star opposite in a movie? Male or female.

Julia Roberts.

Great choice! Love her. And that smile! On to reading, what book are you currently hooked on?

“Betting It” by Cate Masters.

All right... What genres do you write? And what genres do you love to read?

I write erotic romance and fantasy romance. I like to read most romance genres and sometimes women’s fiction or a light mystery.

A woman after my own heart... Okay, since you write fantasy--share with us one of your fantasies. Don't worry, eating gallons of chocolate ice-cream for an entire day could be considered a fantasy...but one could also decide the chocolate goes better with some abs. ;) Don't be shy.

I have this fantasy of entering an alternate universe or world – a bit like going through the wardrobe of Narnia. A place where there is no suffering or sickness or death. A place where I could fly and have other super-powers.

Aw, flying would be amazing. I'd never leave the place! Nice fantasy, Vicki. Now...writing... Do you have any "rituals" you have to perform before typing your words for the day, e.g. a customized playlist, a cup of cocoa, a blankie, e.t.c.? Or do you just dive right in?

I just like a neat environment and a decent amount of interruption free time (a bit difficult in a house with three kids.)

Hmm, I can imagine. Are you a plotter or a pantster? A bit of both?

Hybrid pantster. I plot out the basic outline in my head and then I just write. Usually, the characters take me on a different journey than I expected, and every now and then I have to go through a plotting session in my mind to iron out issues or to move me forward. I never write plots down as it makes me feels trapped.

Where do your ideas come from?

Usually inspired by a movie I watch, music I listen to or just a thought.

What about your debut into the erotic romance genre, At Second Glance, what inspired you to write it?

I think the heroine is a lot like I used to be – reserved and held back by inhibitions. I wanted to write a book about a young woman finding her sexual freedom and love at the same time.

I can relate to that. What do you love best about your heroine?

I like Merryn’s willingness to try new things – to take a chance at things despite her fears.

What do you love best about your hero?

His gentlemanly ways and his ability to forgive.

Any advice for aspiring authors reading this? Or seasoned pros who've lost their steam? For those days when doubts creep in? When procrastination becomes the order of the day?

Doubting days – phew, those are nasty. I think the best thing is to try to push those doubts aside. Remind yourself that you’re still learning and you always have room for improvement. Also try to see the positive in your own work because sometimes we can be very self-critical. 

Procrastination days – I think these are usually caused by tiredness and maybe I need a break. When I’m under a deadline though, I have to push through no matter how hard it is.
Before I ask the next question, let's take a sneak peek into At Second Glance...

*Excerpt (Semi-erotic – Only for 18+)*

“Where did you meet this guy?”
“That’s not safe.”
“I trust him.” Fire spurted from her gaze.
She’d never trusted him when they’d been married. Never let him take the lead. How come time hadn’t healed the wounds? Instead, they’d festered inside him.
Online relationship? He felt the blood drain from his head.
“What?” Panic rose in her voice. “Are you Panda?”
He considered pretending otherwise. He could make his escape now and forget about the crazy mistake of meeting a strange woman in a restaurant because of an internet connection. Then he wouldn’t remember all those times he’d tried to reach out to her and she’d pushed him away and read her book or gone to sleep. The accusing words when she’d found out he’d been looking at porn. The hatred in her eyes when she’d asked him for a divorce.
“Are you?” She collapsed on the chair opposite him.
“I…I can’t do this.” He rose. “I’m sorry. You shouldn’t meet guys you don’t know.”
“It’s a public place.” There was a catch in her voice.
“I don’t remember you being so pale. Blonde doesn’t suit you.”
She wrapped her face in her hands and became as stiff as a corpse. A crack of sympathy passed through him for a moment, but he pushed it away. Yet, she was Hedge. The woman who wanted to experiment. Who hurt from a previous relationship.
He’d called himself a loser.
A laugh came out, sounding out of place, and then he laughed recklessly.
She jerked her head towards him, anger evident in the harshness of her features.
“I called myself a loser.”
“It’s ironic, isn’t it? If we’d both gotten over all our baggage from our messed up marriage, maybe we wouldn’t be here, digging up all the past hurt.”
“I didn’t know who you were. I wouldn’t have said those things to you. It’s the first time I’ve told anyone how I feel.” She didn’t look good with her face screwed up.
He glanced at her body. Had that changed? Her breasts pressed tight against the black shirt she wore. He remembered the first moment she’d shown herself to him on their wedding night. Merryn had insisted upon waiting for that special night. Her reserve had made her all the more desirable to him. In the beginning.
What if he could have another chance to touch her body? She was still shaped to perfection. None of the other women he’d had compared to the beauty of Merryn’s body. The shape of her twins, those pink taut nipples, and the peaks contrasted against her narrow waist. The gentle dip from her slight stomach to her intimate area. He sighed.
“You still want to experiment?” He’d always been impulsive, but seriously, had he said that?

Mhmm, that whets the appetite! So...any tips on writing sizzling love scenes? And did you blush while penning yours or did you take a puff from an imaginary cigarette and wiggle your eyebrows?

Hah! That’s funny. It’s difficult with kids in the house! Keep your print small and be ready to minimise as soon as someone walks in the room. Someone once told me that writing a good sex scene is a lot like writing an action scene. You have to be careful to make sure the reader knows exactly what the characters are doing and that their movements are realistic. Like he couldn’t be kissing her and licking her toes at the same time. Also, after every scene, I think the characters should come away changed in some way – emotionally or in their relationship. It’s not just about sex. Use lots of senses – sound, taste, touch, smell. (Now do I always listen to this advice??)
I think my embarrassment whilst writing sex scenes has diminished the more I write them. But I still fear one of my kids will stumble upon them. (Or even worse, Mom-in-Law)

That would be epic! Thank you so much for your time, Vicki. It was a blast having you here. It's always nice to get a peak into the life of a writer. I wish you all the success in your career.

For those anxiously waiting to get their hands on your beautiful book, where is it available?

Thank you for having me. It was great fun.

At Second Glance is available on:

Author Bio:

Vicki writes erotic and fantasy romance. She loves taking her characters into an alternate world where strange and sexy things happen. She lives with her patient husband and three noisy kids in South Africa. In between being a busy stay-at-home Mom who hates housework and spends half her life cooking everything from scratch, she runs several blogs, writes under another name, and buries herself in the delightful world of her characters. When growing up, her school friends asked her if she wanted to be a nun. She always said “no.”

Online Links for Vicki:

There you have it, folks. Go on and leave a comment and show Vicki some love. Oh, and pick your 'Sexiest Man Alive 2014' winner. We'd love to know!