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Marine for Hire by Tawna Fenske

Marine for HireWhy I read it:  I bought this a while back.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  “She thought she’d sworn off military men for good…”

Sam Kercher is every inch a wickedly hot Marine. Tall. Sexy. Lethal. When his best friends call in a favor, Sam is forced to face an entirely new line of duty-playing nanny for their newly divorced sister and her squirming seven-month-old twin boys. If Sam can dissemble an M16 in his sleep, diaper duty should be a cakewalk…right?

Unfortunately, Operation Nanny isn’t quitethat simple. Sheridan has sworn off overbearing military men, so Sam must protect her from her dirtbag ex without revealing just how much he has in common with her brothers. Or that he’s been ordered not to touch her. Ever. Problem is, Sheri’s one hell of a gorgeous woman, and Sam wants her bad. Protect the girl. Care for the babies. Hide his identity. And keep his hands off. But even the most disciplined Marine has weaknesses…and Sheridan is one Sam might not be able to resist.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  One of this author’s books was a DA Daily Deal a couple weeks ago and someone mentioned in the comments that Tawna Fenske writes funny. I was in the mood for funny so I dug this one out of Mt. TBR. (I also bought the daily deal book.  Are you surprised?)

The set up is over the top. Sheridan’s brothers are uber alpha males who know what’s best and are very VERY protective of their little sister. When “Lieutenant Limpdick” aka, Sheri’s husband cheats on her with a stripper from Arkansas when their twin boys were barely a month old, Sheri kicks his ass to the kerb. The divorce is now final but Limpdick is making noises about a reconciliation. MacArthur “Mac” Patton (Sheri’s eldest brother) wants to keep the douchebag away from his sister and make sure those babies (now seven months old) are safe too. Sheri is just about to start a new job and needs a nanny. The ex-husband has two weeks before he’s due to leave Hawaii for another posting. Mac asks his friend, Sam Kercher, to take the job as “manny” for two weeks, while Mac lines up an actual nanny. He’s to keep the douchebag away from Sheri and look after the babies and Mac’s little sister, all the while hiding that he’s a Marine. And, he’s got to keep his hands off Sheri. (Like that’s ever gonna happen).

Sam said. “You’re aware that this is insane, right? I don’t know how to cook or change diapers or get baby vomit out of cashmere.”

“It’s Hawaii. No cashmere needed, and baby vomit blends nicely into floral-patterned shirts.”

Off Base by Tessa Bailey & Sophie Jordan

Off BaseWhy I read it:  I saw some buzz about this one on Twitter, including that the hero of the Tessa Bailey book was a virgin, so I pre-ordered it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  OFF BASE: Kenna and Beck By Tessa Bailey

A welcome home he never expected…and will never forget…

When Kenna Sutton is tasked with driving home newly returned Beck “True Blue” Collier, she expects the strategic Army mastermind to be a pasty number cruncher. Never at a loss for words, Kenna is nonetheless rendered speechless by the gorgeous, inexperienced and tightly-wound Army major that lands in her passenger seat. Outraged by Beck’s lack of a welcome home after seven long years overseas, Kenna takes matters into her own hands, giving Beck something he’s only ever fantasized about in his bunk.

Beck has never shied away from a test of will and Kenna gives new meaning to the word challenge. One problem? Kenna’s father is the lieutenant general presenting Beck with the Silver Star and Beck is determined to treat Kenna with the respect she deserves, even if her eyes beg Beck to act out his most secret desires with her. Desires he’s always been told were the work of the devil. But how long can one lonely, starving man hope to resist the woman he craves?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  While Beck is a virgin, he’s not shy and he’s not reticent. (In my opinion, this is the best kind of virgin hero!)  He had been dating a girl from his hometown who was a pastor’s daughter and they’d decided to “wait”.  When she broke up with him while he was deployed, he didn’t have the inclination to change his status and so he ended up a 26 year old virgin.

Kenna’s mother had a reputation on base as a “loose woman” and it amuses Kenna to dress in short skirts and tight tops but never, ever, put out on base. Her dad is Lieutenant General Sutton and no soldier has been prepared to try his luck with the beautiful daughter of the commanding officer – although they like very much to look.  Kenna gets her itch scratched off base when the need arises.  She has a complicated relationship with her (now divorced) parents.  She has never measured up to their expectations, although she has mostly moved beyond acting out for attention.   When she picks Beck up per her father’s request, she is struck by how strongly she feels about the fact that there are no family or friends welcoming him home.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s built and gorgeous but I think what strikes her the most is Beck’s almost completely successful efforts to look her in the eyes and not look her over. In fact, she makes her best efforts to try and draw his eyes to her chest and behind so he can be neatly categorised as “just like all the other guys”.  It so happens she gives him a special “welcome home”, but the emotional connection between them scares her and she rabbits.

Only Love by Garrett Leigh

only loveWhy I read it:  My Goodreads feed was buzzing so I bought it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  The diagnosis of a chronic stomach condition leaves thirty-two-year-old Sergeant Jed Cooper with little choice but to call time on his Army career. Then on the dusty streets of Kirkuk, an ambush gone tragically wrong decimates his team, and he returns to the US with a shattered leg and the memory of his best friend dying in his arms.

Life in his sleepy hometown proves intolerable until he finds solace in a lakeside cabin with vivacious young carpenter, Max O’Dair. In the shadow of the epilepsy that periodically plagues Max, he and Jed form an unspoken bond. After a late night episode, Jed realizes how much Max means to him, and life has taught him not to waste time.

But the lines between contentment and complacency are blurred. Things left hidden resurface to tear through their world, and before they can repair the damage, death comes to call again. Faces, past and present, rally around them to weather the storm, but before long, they are left with only love.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I liked this book quite a bit but I have to say it doesn’t have the usual romance structure.  Or, at least, the structure I expect anyways. 

Jed Cooper returns to Ashton, Oregon after being medically discharged from the Army.  He suffered some severe burns to his left shoulder and a serious wound and break to his left leg (multiple surgeries and pins in his femur) in a mortar and air attack while on convoy in northern Iraq (circa 2006).  Those injuries were so severe he was shipped stateside and he was in hospital for months.  They are the obvious injuries.  But he also has a condition called gastroparesis.  It is a paralysis of the vagus nerve which controls the stomach and means that the stomach doesn’t move food on into the small intestine in the timely manner it should. It causes abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, anemia (iron is much harder to absorb through food) and is a lifelong incurable condition. Eating is difficult and it can obviously be a very debilitating condition.  Jed, being the person he is, doesn’t tell anyone about the gastroparesis.  He’s a man used to being relied upon, not one to rely upon others.

Uncommon Pleasure by Anne Calhoun

UncommonPleasureWhy I read it:  I enjoyed Liberating Lacey and Breath on Embers (from last year’s Red Hot Holiday anthology) and I’d heard good things about this book. I bought up an ecopy with a Kobo coupon recently. The next book in the series has just been released.  It is called Uncommon Passion.  I’ve heard great things about that one too, but I’m waiting for another coupon. 

I’ve also put a digital book from her backlist on my wishlist – On the Edge is a novella which features Ty (hero of the first story in this anthology) and John Langley and Lucy Malone.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  From a “fresh and imaginative” (“The Romance Studio”) voice in erotic romance come the tales of two women, each daring to challenge the boundaries of the toughest of men…But in these edgy, heated encounters, the greatest thing each woman will risk is her heart.

“Over the Edge,” – after a tragic incident during Ty Hendricks’ last tour of duty, he cut off all connection with anyone he cares about–until a night with Lauren Kincaid draws him reluctantly back into the world. Lauren sees a wounded man in danger of losing everything to his inner demons, but the sensual, no-holds-barred fight for Ty’s soul could cost Lauren her heart.

“All on the Line,” – Abby Simmons fell hard for Lieutenant Sean Winthrop, but he sacrificed their relationship when he deployed to Afghanistan. Now he’s home, full of regrets and intent on winning back the woman he never forgot. Abby gives Sean her body but holds her heart aloof, until one night of pleasure forces her to choose either her U.S. Marine…or life without him, forever.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Over the Edge is the first novella in the anthology.  Ty Hendricks is a roughneck working on an oil rig.  He was a Marine and served in Afghanistan.  His skill set is mainly around people management. He can identify where people work and fit best, when something is wrong and how to manage it, etc etc.  However, he has basically shut down as a result of PTSD following his last deployment.  He wants no emotions to creep in – both in his sexual liaisons and his friendships with former-Marine buddies John Langley (owner of Langley Security) and Sean Winthrop.  Lauren Kincaid is a petroleum geologist who flies out to the oil rig where Ty is working. Over the course of a few days on the rig, Lauren sees enough of Ty to become intrigued and desirous.  After they get back to the mainland, she propositions him and he, even knowing that there was no way it would just be an anonymous, meaningless hookup (no matter how hard he tries), accedes.  Lauren sees, she thinks, the man underneath the armour of disinterest and is curious to know him.  To her credit, Lauren doesn’t think she can heal Ty, but she does see that he is in need of it and it takes a lot of effort on his behalf to successfully push her away.  When not working on the oil rig, Ty helps our his friend John in his security business. They had been supposed to open the business together but after events in his last deployment, Ty wanted to be separate from everyone and changed his mind.  Sean, also on furlough is also helping out and they end up doing some industrial surveillance in the same business park where Lauren is based.  The book was sexy and hot and I liked how sexually free Lauren was and how the story (both of them actually) was not at all slut-shamey. Both stories feature a menage even though the HEA is with just two people. In this one, Ty suggests a threesome to Lauren (with Sean) as a way of shocking her into leaving only to be surprised when Lauren not only says yes, but really gets into it.

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