Booklover's (me) Favorite Romances of 2012

Thursday, February 28

First, I totally know it's practically March and this should have been posted in January.  Somehow January and February just flew by, but I can't let another month go by without sharing my Favorite Romances of 2012.  They were all just too good not to share.  So if you haven't read the books that were my favorites, add them to your wishlist.  I don't think you'll be sorry!!!

Before I get to the good stuff though, I think it's important to reiterate that we're not trying to say that these are necessarily the "Best" books published in 2012, but instead were my favorite romance reads that I read in 2012.  In addition the books considered did not have to be published in 2012, but could have been published before last year.

And in case you missed the previous favorites posts outlining how the favorites were selected here are the guidelines that were used:
  • A book had to receive a 4.5 star or above rating to be eligible for "Favorites" consideration, then they were separated out by sub-genre (historical, contemporary...).  
  • Not all of the books that received a 4.5 or above rating made the favorites list.  The stories that made the final lists are ones that "stuck" with each of us throughout the year...in other words were memorable (the story was special in some way).  
  • You may also notice that not all of the subgenres of romance are represented for each person's favorites list....that's because the books in those categories didn't score a high enough star rating to qualify for the status of "favorite", or isn't a subgenre that was enjoyed by that reviewer.
  • End result, these are the books that we would highly recommend even if it was a book that you normally wouldn't be drawn to. Long story short...We LOVED LOVED LOVED these romances and thank our lucky stars that we read them this past year!
  • Also good to note, not all of the books that made the list were published in 2012, some were published prior to that, but all were read by each person in 2012. 
~~~***~~~

Contemporary Romance:  
  • Anything You Want by Erin Nicholas 4.50/3.50 I loved that the heroine had the dilemma of going for the sure thing relationship with a friend who was a safe love, and risking a true love with someone that she's wildly attracted to, but never really got along with.  I loved the dynamics of all of the relationships between the characters and the not so easy choices each one of them has to make.  I'm so glad I read this one and will definitely be looking for more by Ms. Nicholas!
Summary: 
I only read 7 contemporary romances last year, and Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor and Animal Magnetism series made up about half of those.  What can I say I love Jill Shalvis, so it's kind of funny that she didn't make my list of favorites this year.  I didn't read as much contemporary romance last year as I wanted to...something I will definitely like to correct in 2013.   

Honorable Mention:  Rescue My Heart by Jill Shalvis 4.25/3.50


~~~***~~~

Historical Romance:
  • The Duchess War by Courtney Milan  (4.50/3.50)  I absolutely love Courtney Milan's historical romances. Her romances are smart, and sexy and always tug at my heart strings.  I never know what to expect from her stories, except that it will be well worth my time and money.  She's an auto buy for me and rarely disappoints!
  • Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks (4.50/3.50) I love Maya Banks contemporary erotic romances, but I think her historical romances are even better.  I just loved the heroine in this book.  There were parts that actually made me cry several times.  If you love highland historical romances, then I think this one is a must.  The books in this connected series just keep getting better.  Maya Banks historical romances are an auto buy for me.
  • Defiant by Pamela Clare 5.00/3.50  OK, I will just say this, I I love Pamela Clare's I-Team series, and is actually how I discovered her....but honestly I LOVE her historical romances even more.  Defiant was the third book in the MacKinnon's Rangers series and I read all three books in the series in 2012.  This third one was entirely new, whereas the first two were re-releases with new content.  All I can say is it was AMAZING.  Even though it got 5 stars from me, it wasn't my favorite of the year.  I know, that's kind of hard to believe.  One thing I know is true, if it has the name Pamela Clare as the author, then I'm so there.  Seriously, you must read this series... all three of them!  She is an author that I buy in print for my keeper shelf, and I rarely add to my keeper shelf anymore.
  • A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare 5.00/3.75  This is part of the Spindle Cove series, and I can say that I knew I would love this book pretty much from the first page.  The characters were just so real to me.   I loved the humor, banter, wit, along with some serious sexual tension.  In fact I thought this was one of the hottest historical romances I read in 2012.  Loved the hero, who was extremely charming, but it wasn't all light-hearted either.  This was one of the books that I considered for my favorite read of 2012, but in the end I selected another one.  However it could easily have been "THE" pick of the year.  I also think this is the best Tessa Dare book that I have read.  I have some serious love for A Week To Be Wicked!  It's worth every one of those 5 stars.
  • A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean 5.00/3.50  Oh, this is another one that almost made my overall pick for favorite book of the year.   It seems readers either really hated the hero, or loved him in the end.  It's true, he's completely awful in the beginning, but I just loved the heroine so much that I was able to see what she saw in him.  He's dark and brooding, and vengeful, but through her he was redeemable. And I loved the tension at the end. Then there was the use of the word "more" throughout the story.  I can't remember ever reading such a simple word used in such a variety in ways that contained so many meanings.  I thought it was brilliant!   This is one of my favorite Sarah MacLean novels ever! Before I read my favorite pick of 2012, this is the one that I thought would be the overall favorite.
  • To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield by Bronwen Evans 4.75/3.50  I loved the plot of this one, and the wagers that the hero and heroine dare each other with.  I loved it all the way up until the end, when I thought everything ended just a little too neatly and sweetly.  What, you say?  How can a romance be too sweet?  In this case there was a tragedy, that I felt fit the story really well, and would have loved for the love story to have dealt with that issue, but instead the story ended with almost a reversal of fortunes negating the beautiful possibilities.  I think the choice was made to make it end on a super happy note, but I thought it shortchanged the story.  Some readers may prefer it the way it ended.  I don't want to give the impression that the ending ruined the story...but it kept it from being a 5 star read for me.  Regardless it was the beginning of the Wicked Wagers trilogy that I really enjoyed.
  • Sins of the Highlander by Mia Marlowe & Connie Mason 4.50/3.50  Sins of the Highlander is exactly what I like to read in a highland romance.  Everything.  I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book.  I wish Ms. Marlowe & Ms. Mason would team up and write more Highland romances.  Much like Never Seduce a Scot...if you love Highland historical romances, then this is a must read for you!
  • Surrender by Pamela Clare 5.00/3.75   Surrender is the first romance hero that has ever given Jamie Fraser from Outlander a run for his money as my all time favorite hero.  Surrender is like Outlander and Last of the Mohicans in one.  And let me tell you, if you like your romances hot, then this is it!  The hero, the heroine, the villian...and the setting.  You don't see too many historical romances set in colonial America, and normally I'm all about historical romances set in England and Scotland, but I loved the new landscape and challenges.  This is my favorite Pamela Clare novel to date!
  • Sweet Release by Pamela Clare 4.50/3.50   I loved the overall sweep of this story.  I loved that it was again set in America, but had a touch of England as well.  I actually owned a used copy of this book in print, but held off on reading it when I found out the author was going to re-release it digitally in more of an "author's cut".  But it was worth the wait, and buying it again, LOL.  Some authors are just worth having it multiple formats and Pamela Clare is one of those authors for me ;)

Summary:  This was an amazing year for historical romances!  There were so many fantastic reads, and clearly Pamela Clare is a force to be reckoned with whether she writes romantic suspense or historical romance.  She was on my list multiple times last year too but she made the list three times this year.  To put that in perspective, I have 15 books on my favorites list this year, and three of her books are in that number (about 20%).  And of the nine historical romances that made the list, her books made up 33%.  That's a seriously large percentage.  Another interesting point was that three of the nine historical romances were self published.

Honorable Mention:  Master of Sin by Maggie Robinson 4.25/3.5  & Untamed by Pamela Clare 4.25/3.50


~~~***~~~

Paranormal Romance:

N/A
    Summary:  I only read a couple of paranormal romances last year...to be exact I read two, and DNF'd a third.  The two I read were OK, but neither were worth mentioning in the favorites :(


    ~~~***~~~

    Erotic Romance:
    • Fall Into You by Roni Loren (4.75/4.50)  Looking back at this book I have to wonder why I only gave it 4.75 stars.  The hero in Fall Into You was one of my favorites of the year.  Roni Loren was a new find for me in 2012 and many of the books she wrote last year are mentioned here in my favorites list, this one being my favorite.  The entire tone of this BDSM romance worked for me.  It had the Dom/sub relationship, but it wasn't extreme, nor was it a featherlight either.  The connection between the characters, the emotional baggage, and the small suspense plot worked well for me.  Really tugged at my heartstrings on this one, not to mention it was seriously hot.  Fantastic read!
    • Leave Me Breathless by Cherrie Lynn 4.50/4.25  I found Cherrie Lynn with Rock Me which I thoroughly enjoyed, but Leave Me Breathless was even better.  I love me a bad boy hero who's actually a good guy beneath the tattoos and piercings.  I will be following this author into 2013.
    • Because You Are Mine by Beth Kery 4.50/4.25  Count me as one of the biggest sceptics of the serial novel.  I honestly probably wouldn't have read this story as a serial if I wouldn't have been hooked with the first installment.  I've been a fan of Beth Kery for as long as I have been blogging.  Love her books.  I thought that Because You Were Mine was brilliantly written in that I was OBSESSED with this story for SIX weeks.  No other book can say that.  I love how she crafted each installment that kept you hooked until the very end.  I'm curious to read the book again since it will be out in print very soon to see if I have the same reaction to it reading it all at the same time...it may be even better.  In the end this book changed my mind about giving serial novels a chance.  Beth Kery has a new serial novel starting in March and you can bet your last dollar that I will be reading that one too!
    • One Night Rodeo by Lorelei James  (4.50/4.00)  This is the fourth book in her Blacktop Cowboys series, which I think keeps getting better with each book.  In fact one of her books from this series made my favorites list last year too.  The best way I can describe it is that it is the romance that you expect from Lorelei James (heat, heart, and a good story), but instead of it revolving around a family like her Rough Riders, this involves more of the town and has some colorful characters much like I love from Jill Shalvis's Lucky Harbor series.  And I like that about it.  Can't wait for the next one!!!
    • Double Down by Katie Porter 4.50/4.25  Katie Porter was a new find for me in 2012, and after reading the first one, I've bought all the other novels in the series, I've even pre-ordered the next one.  But the first one is my favorite.  This is one seriously hot book.  I loved that it has fighter pilots and is set in Las Vegas.  One of the best erotic romances I read in 2012 and worth every penny I've spent on the.  This is one that I might actually re-read....and I practically never re-read.  This might become my "Hot" comfort read.
    Summary:  Other than historical romances, Erotic romances consisted of most of my favorite reads.  Roni Loren & Katie Porter were new finds for me, and they fast became major players in my buying.  Matter of fact both authors are auto buys for me.  Lorelei James and Beth Kery were already auto reads for me, and they will continue to be in 2013.


    Honorable Mentions:  Still Into You by Roni Loren 4.25/4.25  & Crash Into You by Roni Loren 4.25/4.00

    ~~~***~~~


    Romantic Suspense:

    N/A

    Summary:  I only read a couple of romantic suspense romances last year...to be exact I read three.  They were all average, or better than average, but none of them were fantastic.


    ~~~***~~~


    My Favorite Romance Read of 2012:

    Now that I've shared all of my favorite reads, I'd like to share my favorite of all of the favorites.  The book that if I could only recommend one book to you from 2012 it would be this one.  Surrender by Pamela Clare.


    Don't let the cover fool you.  This isn't historical fiction, this is historical romance at it's finest!  When I read it I was blown away.  It's been a while since I've read a romance that has a really good villain.  One that you absolutely loath.  But that's only one of the reasons I loved this book.  The hero, the heroine, the story, the history, the suspense.....I read this book in one day because I just could not put it down.  And I thought about this book all year long.  As I mentioned earlier in the  post the hero in Surrender is one of my all time favorite heroes ever.  And when I thought about it in those terms, it was clear to me that there was no other choice for my favorite read of 2012.  Surrender had it all in spades, and then some.  This is a quote from the front cover....now normally I don't hold much stock in cover quotes because I rarely find them true after reading the book in question, but this one is hits the nail on the head:

    "Astonishing....Surrender is nothing short of genius, a work of art, written by a master storyteller." — Fresh Fiction.

    All I can say is Amen to that!   It's all true.  When preparing this post I looked back at my favorites of 2011 and even in that post, while praising the I-Team series by Pamela Clare, I mentioned that Surrender would make my favorites list.  This book stood the test of time...literally since the 2012 edition that I read was a re-release from a previous version.  Even if you don't like historical romance, Pamela Clare is such a superb story teller that I think you would love it.  For historical romance fans who haven't read this one....it is an absolute MUST!  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! 


    And in case you want to see the pretty that goes along with the great stories referenced in this post, here they all are in one place ;)



    Like numbers? Here are some stats about what I read in 2012:
    • Total books read: 91  (25 fewer than last year) comprised of :
      • Historical:  44 (48%) 
      • Erotic:  35 (39%) 
      • contemporary: 7 (8%) 
      • paranormal: 2 (2%)
      • romantic suspense:  3 ( 3%)
    • Ratings overview : 
      • 5 stars: 10 (11%) 
      • 4 stars: 41(45%) 
      • 3 stars: 39 (43%) 
      • 2 stars: 1 (1%)
      • 1 star:  0
    • 59 of the 91 books I read in 2012 (65%) were print the other 35% were in the form of digital books.  This is basically the same as last year, which just goes to show that there are still a lot of print books being read, even though all you hear talk about is going digital.

    Well there you have it.  I apologize for taking so long to share my list of favorites with you, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless.


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    Guest Author & Giveaway: Cara Carnes featuring Weekend Menage

    Wednesday, February 27

    Normally I am a full length novel reader.  I like to immerse myself in a story and really get to know the characters and what makes the love story, and the intimacy between them special.  However, there are other times when I want instant satisfaction :)  That's why I love short stories too, they are my quickie romance fix, LOL.

    Erotic Romance author Cara Carnes is my guest today, and her new short story with Ellora's Cave, Weekend Menage, is just the type of read that I would go for when I'm in the mood for short, sexy...and dare I say it....even more sexy!  As you will soon see when you read a few of her kinked up list of places to have sex :)  Enjoy!

     ~~~***~~~

    I’m thrilled to be here today talking about my latest release Weekend Menage. Or rather, something vaguely related to it.

    Public sex. Perhaps it’s the thrill of getting caught or watched. Perhaps it’s the naughtiness of the location. Either way, it’s hot. If you do a Google search for places to have sex you’ll laundry lists of locations provided by Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health and hundreds of others. Eh.

    The problem with these lists is that…well…they’re a little vanilla. I mean, who hasn’t messed around in a movie theater? And the beach? First off, not all of us have access to the sexiness that is the sand. And clearly whoever suggested that beach hasn’t ever tried to get granules out of crevices that were never meant to be exposed to such tawdry behavior.

    So…

    I decide to take one of these random lists and mention a few of the options they did and…kink them up a bit. What can I say? It’s what I do :)

    The longest list I located was at RomanceStuck.com which has a collection of 102 Places To Have Sex.  I’m choosing the ones that intrigued my raunchier side. The numbers here correspond to the numbers there. You’ve been warned :

    6. On the pool table: Okay, this has potential. The kink factor? Throw in a game of pool beforehand and add a few stakes into the mix. Perhaps the winner gets to pick the position. If you’re really wild, choose a pool table in a public place. That is the point of this list, right? *smiley*

    34. On a rooftop: I swear I hadn’t read the list until now. This is actually in Weekend Menage, so I’ll carry on with the list because the guys in my story do a much better job of kinking that up than I could.

    50. In an elevator: Perhaps it’s just me, but this always seems so overdone. What ever happened to taking the stairs? Grab your guy, haul his ass into that never used stairwell and have at it. A couple of notes: 1) Watch out for security cameras unless you want to be watched. 2.) Make sure the doors will open when you’re ready to leave.

    63. In a hot air balloon: Earlier on the list there was a suggestion of in a room filled with balloons and that made me think of a hot air balloon, so I’m glad to see it made it on the list. It’s a fun, hot romp with a view! Take a video camera with you. You never know what you may catch. *smiley*

    72. Off a beaten trail in the woods: Okay first off, there are insects. I loathe insects. Things like ticks and chiggers that’ll chew your flesh away and give you lime disease afterward. And since you’re romping in the woods, do you really want those small buggers getting access to your private bits? I didn’t think so. The alternative? This one is tough. If you’re in a country area, or have access to it and it’s around Halloween, many local farmers will turn their cornfields or crops into mazes for the Halloween/Fall festivities. Make it a challenge. You make it through the maze without getting caught and you get a prize of your choice at the end. He catches you? He gets you. Right there. Hmm…I’m thinking that might be a win/win no matter what. *smiley*

    I could go on and on cause this list is actually pretty cool. Be adventurous with your partner. Just make sure to discuss it openly and if it’s intense, have a safe word or some other way of cuing the other one into the fact you may no longer be into the scene.

    The most important thing? Enjoy one another and have fun. *smiley*


    One night of controlled passion is all she allows.

    Rebecca Ann Majors fled the temptation of a ménage once, but now the two sexy men starring in her wildest fantasy are back and demanding her complete surrender for the weekend. Emboldened by lust, she succumbs to her desire and learns ecstasy has a price.

    They demand everything she has and more.

    Joe Davenport and Dillan Morrisey were used to handling any situation—including the sexy siren who’d sashayed out of their lives two years ago. This time she’ll quench their lust even if it means they have to share her.

    When Sunday morning dawns the three must decide if one weekend was enough to sate the passion they shared.

    A Romantica® erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave


    Read an excerpt from the beginning here, & since we’re talking about public sex, here’s an exclusive snippet from Weekend Menage.  
    Setup:  This is the start of Rebecca’s intense evening out with Joe and Dillan. She thinks this is going to be an innocuous dinner out, perhaps a little dancing afterward. She should’ve known better. *smiley*

    Joe and Dillan ordered and she found herself ordering the same thing as Joe had, even though she had no idea what that was. Paying attention would’ve probably been a good idea. The waiter smiled pleasantly and headed toward the kitchen.

    “You know the great thing about this dress?” Dillan whispered.

    Rebecca shook her head and swallowed as his fingers grazed her inner thigh.

    Joe leaned in on her other side. His raspy voice shuddered through her. “These thin straps will slide down your shoulders quite nicely. Those gorgeous breasts of yours will be bare easily enough, won’t they?”

    “Yes.” The whispered response was dragged out of her. Her nipples hardened as the anticipation became unbearable. Her pussy clenched.

    “You’re so responsive. You have my mouth watering just thinking about sucking on one of those hard little nubs,” Dillan rasped. “Would you like that?”

    “Yes.”

    “Spread your legs more. I want to be able to slide my fingers across that sweet pussy of yours. Are you wet for us yet, honey?” Joe’s hand slid from her left knee upward. His fingers hooked inward under the thin black material.

    She gasped at the contact, brief but effective. Awareness tunneled to the finger stroking her wet pussy. She moved to place her hands on them, between her and them. Anywhere but where they were resting lamely on the table.

    “Keep them there,” Dillan ordered. “Be a good girl and let us enjoy you before the waiter comes back. We’ve been thinking about this all day, wondering what you’d wear. What you’d taste like when we stroke your pussy until it’s wet.”

    Joe’s finger slid into her and she arched into the touch. Dillan nestled a linen napkin across her lap and grinned. His hot breath trailed across her cheek. “Kiss me, Rebecca.”

    Any hope she had of sorting out the jumble in her brain disappeared with the command. To hell with understanding what she was doing. All that mattered was experiencing these two men, what they offered.

    She claimed Dillan’s mouth, her tongue roamed his lips and begged for entry. A firm hand held her head in place as he seized control. She ceded the kiss to him, delved into the erotic dance of his tongue melding with hers. He thrust in tandem to Joe’s finger, as if the two men had synchronized their movements. Or maybe her mind was incapable of discerning one action from another.

    She didn’t care.

    They kissed, tormented, until her body liquefied between them. Just when she’d accepted her fate as a jellyfish the erotic bliss ended. Fingers edged their way to her knees. Dillan licked her lips one last time before pulling back.

    She blinked to awareness. Diego stood before them, a knowing grin etched on his handsome face as he placed the bread basket. Mortified, she studied the napkin in her lap and closed her eyes.

    She was crazy. Back the padded truck up and load her up with a wardrobe of buckle-down-the-back jackets. Certifiable.

    Ready for a steamier excerpt?  You can read more here!




    Congratulations Cara & thanks for being our guest today!  There's no doubt about it,   Rebecca has got her hands full with the two of them, LOL.  I wonder what Joe and Dillan have in store for her beyond the weekend? 

    If you'd like to learn more about author Cara Carnes and the sexy books she writes you can find her at her website www.caracarnes.com, her blog, Facebook & Twitter, as well as her Yahoo Group.

    To celebrate the release of Weekend Menage, Cara is giving away a $50 gift card to either Amazon, Barnes & Noble or All Romance Ebooks.  Enter to win in the Rafflecopter form below:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway




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    *Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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    Review: Weekend Menage by Cara Carnes

    Title: Weekend Ménage*
    Author: Cara Carnes
    Series: n/a
    Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
    Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
    Format: ebook
    Date/Year: February 6, 2013
    Reviewed by: Michele

    *This book was provided to the reviewer by the author in exchange for an honest review

    Summary from the publisher:

    Rebecca Ann Majors fled the temptation of a ménage once, but now the two sexy men starring in her wildest fantasy are back and demanding her complete surrender for the weekend. Emboldened by lust, she succumbs to her desire and learns ecstasy has a price.  They demand everything she has and more.

    Joe Davenport and Dillan Morrisey are used to handling any situation—including the sexy siren who sashayed out of their lives two years ago. This time she’ll quench their lust, even if it means they have to share her.

    When Sunday morning dawns, the three must decide if one weekend was enough to sate their shared passion.

    A Romantica® contemporary erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave


    My Musings:

    I think it’s safe to say that most of us would never have a first chance at a threesome with two sexy guys, let alone a second chance. In Weekend Menage, Cara Carnes adds a twist to the second chance at romance trope by giving our heroine another opportunity for a threesome with the two hot hunky men she’d been too afraid to be with when they’d pursued her a few years before. 

    Joe and Dillan are longtime friends of Becca’s brother, Andy, and both have been the stars of her nighttime sex dreams for the past 2 years. When they’d made their intentions toward her clear back then, she hadn’t trusted them, or herself, not to get her heart broken and she’d left them high and dry. When Becca’s brother Andy insists she let Joe and Dillan crash in her Austin apartment when they’re in town on a weekend job, neither they nor she are able to walk away from the intense sexual attraction a second time. But will the weekend end with the heartbreak she’d been trying to avoid all along?

    One of the big advantages of the second chance trope, especially in a novella or short story, is that the author doesn’t have to spend precious pages setting up why these people are so attracted to each other. It avoids the pitfall of “insta-love / insta-lust” that can be disconcerting to a reader, even if it’s handled as well as possible in the shortened format. By telling the story from Becca’s point of view, Weekend Menage gives us just enough of the backstory between her, Joe and Dillan, including how they came into her life previously, why her brother would be sending them to stay with her, and why she would allow it to happen. We don’t get too caught up in what it is Joe and Dillan actually do, and what Andy might think of this new sexual relationship between his friends and his sister. What we do get is a well-written, albeit short story of how three people who want each other very much finally get together, have fantastic M/F/M sex over a multi-day period, and then realize that what they have doesn’t have to be over just because the weekend is. The structure is there for a longer, more detailed story, but it works perfectly as the fast hot read it was designed to be. 

    I thoroughly enjoyed Weekend Menage, and would love to read a novel-length menage story by Cara Carnes in the future.

    Ratings:

    Overall:  4 stars
    Sensuality level:  5 (M/F/M menage, public sex, voyeurism)

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    Review: Edge of Dawn by Lara Adrian

    Tuesday, February 26

    Title: Edge of Dawn*
    Author: Lara Adrian
    Series: Midnight Breed #11
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Publisher:  Delacourte Press
    Format: Hardcover & E-book
    Date/Year:  February 26, 2013
    Reviewed by: Andrea

    *This book was provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

    Summary from the publisher:

    Twenty years after the terror of First Dawn—when mankind learned that vampires lived secretly among them—the threat of violence reigns as the two species struggle to coexist. The only group preserving the fragile harmony is the Order, an elite cadre of Breed warriors dedicated to protecting humans and vampires alike. And in this precarious world of torn loyalties and shattered trust, Mira, a fiery squad captain, finds that every fight bears an intensely personal cost.

    Raised among the Order, Mira has always believed in the warrior’s code of swift—and even lethal—justice. But the one thing she desires more than the Order’s hard-won acceptance is Kellan Archer, a sexy but troubled Breed fighter. In love with him since childhood, Mira once broke through his tough exterior during an unexpected night of rapture, but the next day he mysteriously disappeared, never to return.

    Kellan didn’t think he would ever see Mira again—or have to confront the truth of why he left. After abandoning the Order years ago, he now leads a band of human rebels intent on carrying out their own vigilante rule of law. Yet a high-profile kidnapping assignment brings him face-to-face with the past he sought to avoid, and the striking woman he has tried desperately to forget. And as tensions mount and the risk of bloodshed grows, Kellan and Mira must take sides—between the competing missions that dominate their lives, and the electrifying passion that claims their hearts.


    My Musings:

    What a difference 20 years can make! 

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Edge of Dawn. I wasn’t thrilled with the last couple of books in the series, so I was excited to see how the lapse of time would change it up. In my opinion it was a very positive change. The world is familiar yet refreshingly new. All the same couples are still around but now the focus in on their children. The babies, and some that weren’t even born yet, from the last book are now young adults. This is a world where the Breed is living openly with the humans. The Order, the justice warriors of the Breed, are doing their best to peacefully coexist with the humans. It’s a fragile peace, with rebellious groups within both the Breed and the humans doing their best to upset the peace and push their own agenda. The difficult part being that nobody is exactly sure who can be trusted. It took me a little while to get comfortable with the new world but once I did, I liked it even better than before.

    Mira, the young breedmate raised by Nikolai and Renata, is now fully grown. She is an amazingly strong warrior using her superior skills to be the equal of the Breed warriors she fights alongside. I love strong heroines so you can imagine how thrilled I was to see what she has become :) She is obviously very determined and has a wonderful strength about her but it is disguising an all-consuming heartbreak from her past. Kellan is the man responsible for that heartbreak. He left her when she needed him most. Despite that glaringly bad decision, I found him to be loyal and trustworthy. He had a natural calm and stoicism that was appealing and endearing. Mira and Kellan belonged together, I never doubted that for a minute. The only thing which bothered me about their relationship was how easily Mira accepted his deception and forgave him. It seemed a little too easy for her to forgive Kellan.

    I feel like I say this every time I review a Midnight Breed book, but I can’t reveal much about the plot with giving away major spoilers. What I can say is that the progression of intrigue and mystery though this book was fantastic. As it developed I was equally invested in it just as much as I was in the romance. They were both strong and compelling. The best part was that just when I thought I understood everything which was happening, a curveball was thrown at me. What was a world of Breed and Human actually conceals more than either group realized. The Breed now has a completely new enemy and they must discover a brand new way to protect themselves.

    If anyone is on the fence about whether or not to continue with the series, I urge to you keep going. The series is better than ever and I will be eagerly waiting to see what happens next.


    Ratings:

    Overall:  4.5
    Sensuality level:  3

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    Review: Iced by Karen Marie Moning

    Title: Iced*
    Author: Karen Marie Moning
    Series:  Fever #6
    Genre:  Urban Fantasy
    Publisher: Delacourte Press
    Format: Hardcover, E-Book & Audio book
    Date/Year:  October 2012
    Reviewed by:  Andrea

    *This book was borrowed from the reviewer's local library for her own reading enjoyment

    Summary from the publisher:

    From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning comes the first book in her hotly anticipated new urban paranormal trilogy, set in the world of her blockbuster Fever series.

    The year is 1 AWC—After the Wall Crash. The Fae are free and hunting us. It’s a war zone out there, and no two days are alike. I’m Dani O’Malley, the chaos-filled streets of Dublin are my home, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

    Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the rare humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities.

    Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux.

    When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.

    Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin—before everything and everyone in it gets iced.


    My Musings:

    I have the strangest love-hate relationship with the books in the Fever series.  They drive me crazy.  I go from loving them one minute to making me so angry I want to strangle the characters the next.  No other books affect me like this!

    You probably care more about the book and less about me so let’s get on with it... 
    Okay, so it’s a crazy new world and the walls between the Fae and Earth have fallen.  Humans are living in fear because the Fae have declared open season on humans.  The only known weapons which can kill a Fae are the spear belonging to Mac and the sword belonging to Dani.  Dani and Mac had a falling out in the last book, so they’ve gone their separate ways.

    Previous events have left Dani, a 14 year old girl, alone and trying to save the world.  She spends her time helping the humans stay safe and slaying as many Fae as possible.  I like Dani, she’s ballsy and confident.  She also has the irritatingly delusional self-centeredness I would expect of a teen girl with superpowers.  She grated on my nerves but not enough to turn me against her. 

    This book is a lot like the previous books in that there are multiple men surrounding the heroine and she doesn’t know whom she can trust.  The first is Ryodan, the Fae-friendly club owner.  He’s been a constant source of irritation for Dani. He reminds me so much of Barrons.  He has that same uber-alpha male personality which makes me want to strangle him 50% of the time.  Then there is Christian, he’s the young highlander warlock who helped Mac in the previous books.  He’s in love with Dani and will do anything to protect her.  The only problem is that when the evil Fae prince side of him makes an appearance, he sometimes forgets himself and becomes a danger to everyone around him. I like him, but he makes me nervous.  Finally, there is Dancer.  He’s a 17 year old human boy.  He’s Dani’s best friend, a genius, and her number one supporter.  He strikes me as being too good to be true.  He has a knack for being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

    Now, as for what I thought of this book... it’s fecking amazing!  Karen Marie Moning is back with a vengeance.  Everything you love about the Fever series, the sexual tension, the suspense, the action, the mystery, and the cliffhanger ending which leave you with more questions than answers, they’re all here.  If you liked the previous books, you have got to read this.  You’re going to love it.


    Ratings:

    Overall:  4.5
    Sensuality level:  1
    (Dani is 14!  There is a lot of sexual tension but no sex.)
    For a complete understanding and definition of the ratings at Seductive Musings, click here

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    *Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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    Monday's Muse

    Monday, February 25

    Happy Monday!  I confess that I'm not quite as enthusiastic as that greeting might seem with the "!", but they say to fake it until you make it, so I'm faking my Monday morning happiness until I feel like it's a happy Monday.  Some McDonald's Tea might help with that :)

    Did you watch the Oscars last night? I scrolled through some of the pictures of dresses online last night and thought many were pretty, but that is just about involved as what I got.  There just weren't any movies that I was interested in.  I guess I'm not the Hollywood demographic anymore :(

    It seems like my movie watching has been converted to TV series watching.  One TV series that I can't wait to see is Vikings on the History Channel.  Have you seen the ads for it?  OMG, I am so going to be busy next Sunday at 10pm.  No disruptions allowed.  I hope it lives up to it's potential.

    Another show that could catch my interest is the Inside Out series by Lisa Renee Jones that has been optioned by STARZ and could be coming to our TV's soon.  Is this one of the first post Fifty Shades of Grey inspired movies/TV shows that will hit the small screen first?  Should be interesting!

    This week I give you not one, but two Muses from what could become my newest obsession, The Vikings:  Rolo & Ragnar.  Seriously, I can't wait for Sunday to come around :)


    This week at Seductive Musings:
    • Tuesday:  I'll have Andrea's review of Edge of Dawn by Lara Adrian
    • Wednesday:  Erotic Romance author Cara Carnes will by my guest featuring her new story Weekend Menage
    • Thursday & Friday:  These two days are kind of up in the air....I may be here with something new, but it will depend on how things are going on the design front.

    Also of interest:
    • I've been reading Vicky Dreiling this past week.  One of the ladies that attends the chats at Romance Reviews Today Chat on Fridays was reading this series, and I had them in my TBR so I dusted them off and have been enjoying them. 
    • This week I'll be reading Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas.  This is also a TBR book.  I've heard so many great things about this author, and I have several of her books, so I decided to start with this one and see if we mesh.  I'll let you know how it works out.
     
    Finally, I'd like to congratulate all of the authors with new releases this week, especially Musings authors Mia Marlowe, Elizabeth Hoyt, Margaret Mallory, Alexandra Hawkins, Kieran Kramer, Julia London, & Erin Nicholas!  Congrats!!!

     
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    *Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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    Monday's Muse

    Monday, February 18

    Hello!

    I feel like my schedule my finally be getting back on track.  And because of that I decided that I deserved to just veg this weekend and read a book.  After reading Michele's review of Rush by Maya Banks I decided that is exactly the kind of escape I needed.  While I enjoyed it, I didn't love it as much as Michele did (more like 4 stars compared to Michele's 5 stars).  And just like Michele, I am really looking forward to the next two books in this series, Fever & Burn.

    So even though the hero was a dominant billionaire (like so many heroes these days since "that book"), I found it a bit refreshing in that his wealth played a very minor roll in the story, and it wasn't told in the first person (which I really do not like).  It was classic Maya Banks, and anyone who has read on of her books and enjoyed it, will likely love this new series as well.  Me, I can't wait for Ms. Banks' upcoming Highland Romance, Highlander Most Wanted.  I love Maya Banks' historical romance even more than her erotic romances and that's saying a lot.

    Because I have suit wearing alpha male heroes on the brain after reading Rush, I thought this man would be our perfect Muse this week. 

    Nothing else is new with me, what's new with you?


    This week at Seductive Musings:
    • Wednesday:  I'll have a review for Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.  It's an older novel that I purchased a while back that has been languishing in my TBR.  I'm participating in a TBR challenge this year, and picked this book after last week's Cupid blog hop on favorite heroes.  The hero in this novel has one the hearts of many so I couldn't wait to see what all the fuss is about :)
    • Thursday:  I'm not making any promises, because lately...I haven't been able to keep them as much as I would like, but I hope to have a many a promised list.
    • Friday:  Will definitely be a fun post.  I need more fun :)


    Finally, I'd like to congratulate all of the authors with new releases this week!  Congrats!!!


     
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    *Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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    Cupid's Playground Giveaway Hop

    Wednesday, February 13

    vday hop

    Valentine's Day is just a day away so I though it might be fun to declare our love of some of our favorite romance heroes by participating in the Cupid's Playground Giveaway Blog Hop...'ya know...so that Cupids arrow aims true, LOL.

    A great hero is necessary to any romance worth reading.  We can't get enough of these heroes, and if we could have our own harem of them, these heroes would definitely have arrows with their names on them :)  In big bold letters.  And if possible a GPS tracker, depending on how sophisticated Cupid has gotten with technology :)


    My List (in no particular order because playing favorites my make some of the alpha men upset)  When making my list I've gone with one perennial favorite and a favorite from last year (when I can):

    Men in Kilts (you have to have at least one, and in my case two)
    • (PF)Jamie Fraser from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  Jamie, what can I say...he's Jamie.  I will always love him!
    • (NF)Iain MacKinnon from Surrender by Pamela Clare.  Iain seriously gave Jamie Fraser a run for his money last year.  And while Iain is a new addition to this list, and may not technically wear a kilt he has the Scottish ancestry and brogue so it totally counts in this category.  Love him too
     The Rake/Bad Boy:
    • (PF)Derek Craven from Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas.  When it comes to rakes who make great romance heroes Derek Craven IS.  THE.  MAN!
    • (NF)Colin Sandhurst from A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare.  Definitely a Rake, but who was so damned charming that you could forgive him just about anything.  Colin could give Rakes a good name (in every sense).
    Damaged Souls:
    • (PF)Jasper Renshaw from To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt.  I love pretty much all of Elizabeth Hoyt's heroes, but Jasper holds a special place in my heart because he starts out in a marriage of convenience, but ends up being one of my favorite husband heroes.
    • (NF)Grant Waters from Fall Into You by Roni Loren.  Really any hero by Roni Loren could make this list, but what makes Grant special is that he has that cowboy charm, in addition to his commanding and dominant presence...that is a lethal love combination for me.  Add in the fact he has a wounded heart...and he's harem worthy.
    Really though if one of these authors has written a romance I want their hero in my hero harem:


     Andrea's List (in order):


    Michele's List:

    When I was asked to declare my love for the five best heroes from my romance reads, I realized that the only way I could narrow it down to a list that short was to go with the first five that came to mind. The resulting list shows that I definitely have a thing for the strong alpha men who aren’t afraid to go after what they want and show the whole world how much they love their women. These are the heroes that make me yell and swoon and cry every time I read their stories.

    • Ruark Beauchamp from Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss
    • Damon Roche  from Sweet Persuasion (Sweet #2) by Maya Banks
    • Jack Cole from Wicked Ties (Wicked Lovers #3) by Shayla Black
    • Mackenzie “Mac” Nighthorse from Natural Law (Nature of Desire #2) by Joey W. Hill
    • Alex Raiford from Then Came You (Gamblers #1) by Lisa Kleypas
     

     ElaineReads pick:

    • Mine will always be Jamie Frasier from the Outlander series.  It's not so much how I imagine he looks, but how much he loves Clare.

     

    I think it's very interesting that three of us had a hero from one of Lisa Kleypas historical romances, but none of them were the same hero.  Obviously Ms. Kleypas knows her romance heroes and romance readers well. So to celebrate all that love, I think it would only be appropriate to giveaway a digital book of either Dreaming of You, Then Came You, or Mine Until Midnight to one lucky Musings follower (or if one of the others caught your fancy you can choose a $5.00 Amazon GC to discover a new love).  Enter to win in the Rafflecopter form below (US only).

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Visit the other participating blogs for more Cupid worthy heroes, & more chances to win!



    *Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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    Review: It Stings So Sweet by Stephanie Draven

    Tuesday, February 12

    Title: It Stings So Sweet*
    Author: Stephanie Draven      
    Series: n/a
    Genre: Historical Erotic Romance w/ BDSM elements
    Publisher: Berkley Heat
    Format: Trade paperback & E-book
    Date/Year: February 5, 2013
    Reviewed by: Michele

    *This book was provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

    Summary from the publisher:


    They vibrated with incendiary Jazz. They teemed with sexual abandon.

    The Twenties were roaring and the women--young, open, rebellious, and willing--set the pace and pushed the limits with every man they met... In the aftermath of a wild, liquor-soaked party, three women from very different social classes are about to live out their forbidden desires.

    Society girl, Nora Richardson's passionate nature has always been a challenge to her ever-patient husband. Now he wants out of the marriage and she has just this one night to win him back. The catch? He wants to "punish" her for her bad behavior. Nora is offended by her husband's increasingly depraved demands, but as the night unfolds, she discovers her own true nature and that the line between pain and pleasure is very thin indeed.

    Meanwhile, Clara Cartwright, sultry siren of the silent screen, is introduced to a mysterious WWI Flying Ace. If Clara, darling of the scandal sheets, knows anything, it's men. And she's known plenty. But none of them push her boundaries like the aviator, who lures her into a menage with a stranger in a darkened cinema then steals her jaded heart.

    Working class girl Sophie O'Brien has more important things on her mind than pleasures of the flesh. But when her playboy boss, the wealthy heir to the Aster family fortune, confronts her with her diary of secret sex fantasies, she could die of shame. To her surprise, he doesn't fire her; instead, he dares her to re-enact her boldest fantasies and Sophie is utterly seduced.

    One party serves as a catalyst of sexual awakening. And in an age when anything goes, three women discover that anything is possible...


    My Musings:

    Stephanie Draven is a new author for me, but after reading It Stings So Sweet, I know I’ll be seeking out more books by her. She writes so beautifully and sets the scene so precisely that I was captivated by the opening pages before anything had actually happened. What did happen after those opening pages was told so well that I actually went back and read the whole book through again the next day, just so I could be a part of that world one more time.

    Each story in It Stings So Sweet features a non-traditional couple who meet in an unconventional way to find that they are supremely sexually compatible by daring means. These adjectives are fitting, since they also describe the Roaring Twenties era itself: non-traditional, unconventional, daring. Social and sexual barriers were being tested and those with the courage to go after the happiness they sought were the most daring of them all.

    "With his dark hair slicked back and the lightest hint of a mustache over his full, brooding lips, he is the most striking man in this or any room. He is also my husband, or at least he will be, until morning."

    In the first story, Nora and Jonathan Richardson have been married for over a year, but not happily. They had married under duress and he was well beneath her social class, which never bothered her but bothered him every single day. Jonathan tried changing himself entirely to be the husband he thought she should have, not realizing that what she wanted was what he had been. When Nora finally provokes him into action, the results upset more than just the fancy Hollywood party they attend together the night before Jonathan has promised to walk out on her for good. What happens after they return home may be extremely difficult for some to read, but to me it worked perfectly for their characters and made their final decision even more deliciously emotional.

    “I don’t fall in love, Mr. Vanderberg. When I take a man to bed, it’s got everything to do with the size of his bank account and what he’s got between his legs.”

    In the second story, Clara Cartwright is the biggest silent film star in Hollywood and temporary mistress of a man guaranteed not to fall in love with her. After her movie premiere party is nearly ruined by another couple’s marital upset, she is introduced to Leo Vanderberg, a genuine World War One flying ace and compellingly attractive man with definite plans for Clara.  Clara prefers to keep her relationships light, financially rewarding and temporary. Leo intends to be the man who breaks all three of her rules. The provocative ways he breaks through her walls of cynicism and doubt belie the deep emotions he hides from her until she’s ready to admit to hers.

    "The sudden brutal exposure of my forbidden thoughts cuts me open with desire. I’m bleeding embarrassment and arousal in equal measure."

    The final story is about how a slight but tenacious Irish shopgirl not only manages to organize her fellow workers into taking on the fancy hotel’s management for better treatment while at the same time catching the eye and ultimately, the heart of the hotel chain’s heir. If only Sophie hadn’t left her journal of extreme sexual fantasies in the same work locker with her incendiary unionizing materials, that man would have never been able to get her naked...and worse! But both she and he have denied their true sexual natures long enough, and it’s time they realized what they can do for themselves and each other, social classes and expectations be damned.

    What makes It Stings So Sweet different from so many other romances I’ve read isn’t just the quality of the author’s writing, but the decisions she’s made on when to set the story and how to structure the plot. I can’t recall having read any other historical erotic romances set in the Roaring Twenties, let alone those with any noticeable elements of BDSM in them. And although there have been a few anthologies out lately where three authors collaborate to provide an interlocking story arc between three or more segments, this book features the same type of story structure from a single author. All three couples either appear or are mentioned in each of the three stories, with one notable individual appearing in all three. I don’t want to be more specific than that because I know I enjoyed the surprise and I wouldn’t want to ruin that for anyone else.

    Each couple faces more than just their own weaknesses and misunderstandings to get to their happy ending. They have to rise beyond an antiquated but still constrictive social class structure, as well as regressive ideas of how men and women should behave - most especially women - and what society thinks of people who live and love outside their predestined boxes. Ultimately love is what brings each of the couples together and each happy ending is all the sweeter for the trouble they went through to get there.

    I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read It Stings So Sweet and I hope that Stephanie Draven will continue to choose the unconventional settings and non-traditional storylines for her daring characters. This was easily the best book I’ve read so far this year.

    Ratings:

    Overall: 5
    Sensuality level: 5
    (domestic discipline, public sex, M/F/M menage, one F/F scene)

    For a complete understanding and definition of the ratings at Seductive Musings, click here

    Other Reviews:

     



    *Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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    Monday's Muse

    Monday, February 11

    Hello!   No, I didn't forget it was Monday :)  Little Love has been staying with me since Thursday days since my sister had her baby several days early.  She was actually scheduled to have the baby today, but went into labor last week.  Mommy and baby are doing great, and Little Love it slooowly adjusting to being a big sister :)  Things have been a little bit hectic and crazy since then because of all of the happy changes, so I'll keep this short and sweet.

    Our Muse who may need some help getting rid of sand out of all of his crevices :)

    This week at Seductive Musings:
    • Tuesday:  I'll have some reviews for you
    • Wednesday:  I'll be taking part in the Cupids Playground Blog Hop
    • Thursday:  I really really want to finally post my favorites of 2012.  I really was going to post it last week on Friday, but then baby decided to come early....so there went all my good intentions :)
    • Friday:  If I have time, it'll be something fun.  If I can't post on Thursday, then Friday will be my favorites.

    Finally, I'd like to congratulate all of the authors with new releases this week!



     

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    My FREE Kindle Quest

    I've wanted a Kindle for what seems like forever, but haven't been able to afford it (and that's saying something since I can justify the cost of just about ANYTHING that I really want). I've tried winning one in one of the many giveaways that have taken place over the couple of years, but with no luck :( So I've decided to take matters in hand so to speak :) I've now decided that I am going to accumulate enough Swagbucks from my Swabucks searches to buy one...so in essence my new Kindle will be FREE...funded entirely by my internet searches done on Swagbucks. I'll keep you informed of the Great Kindle Quest below (in case you're interested....if not feel free to just skip over this part, but really who wouldn't be interested in a FREE Kindle?)
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    If you'd like to learn how you can earn Swagbucks and earn your own Amazon Gift Cards to buy books, a Kindle or other merchandise sold at Amazon contact me and I would be more than happy to tell you how I plan to go about it. (just so you know you can earn both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca gift cards on this rewards site)
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