Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review - - The Virgin's Revenge

The Virgin's Revenge
A Rancho del Cielo Romance
By Dee Tenorio
Publisher:  Samhain (digital)
Release Date:  July 3, 2012

     "We want you to marry Mandy."
     Cole Engstrom never knew you could reverse-snort up a French fry, but there you have it.  Someone call Guiness.
     A few solid thwacks on the back later from one of the notorious six Jackman brothers, and he was breathing marginally well again.  That didn't mean, of course, his hearing was any better.
     "We--" Locke Jackman leaned forward in his diner seat, bracing more of his weight on his oversized hunks of arm and nailing Cole in place with a vivid blue glare," -- want you to marry Mandy."
     When Lock said we, he spoke for all six of the brothers.  Probably their deceased parents, grandparents and all the generations that traveled over the Atlantic more than two centuries ago.  He was more than big enough to pull something like that off.
     Cole risked a glance at the elder twins -- as Daniel and Dean were typically called -- who sat on his left, their bulk swallowing most of the curving diner bench in the darkest corner of Shaky Jake's bar.  He should have known they were out to get him when they'd invited him here for lunch and dragged him to this spot. Not only were they cheap, they were scared of the dark.  Yet both of them nodded and grinned at him like they'd done him a favor.  He smelled a set-up.  He also had the suspicion they were stealing his fries.
~ From The Virgin's Revenge, Chapter 1

The product of a dysfunctional family, Cole Engstrom has made a vow never to marry and the Jackman brothers, who have been his friends since they were juniors in high school, know that.  He's never getting married and certainly not to Amanda, the only daughter of the Jackman clan.  He and Mandy are good friends and the fastest way to end that friendship is to try to date her.  Cole doesn't want to lose her friendship.  Sure he finds her desirable.  More than desirable.  But he'll take as many cold showers as he has to if it means keeping Amanda in his life.  Except that now the brothers have come up with the crazy notion that it's time for Amanda to settle down and they want Cole to marry her. Cole knows that will be the last straw for the woman struggling to break free of her overprotective brothers.  Worse yet, if Cole doesn't go along with the plan, the well-meaning, but totally clueless, brothers are prepared to "shop her around" to all the single men in Rancho del Cielo!

How did gorgeous Amanda Jackman make it to the ripe old age of twenty-six without losing her virginity? Growing up in a small town with six overprotective brothers built like redwood trees, it's a wonder she ever made it out of the house!  The only man who has ever tempted her to take a walk on the wild side is Cole Engstrom, best friend of her twin brothers and a de facto member of their family since her brothers "adopted" the skinny computer nerd in high school.  Of course, Cole is no longer a skinny kid.  No, he's grown into quite a nice specimen of manhood, one who haunts her very vivid dreams on a regular basis, but Amanda realized long ago that a real relationship with Cole is out of the question.  She knows enough about his family background to understand he'll never commit himself to a woman for the long haul and she would never do anything to jeopardize their friendship or the relationship he shares with her family.  So she's understandably shocked - and more than a little ticked off -when she overhears what she thinks is Cole being coerced into courting her because her brothers think it's time for her to marry.  She's ready to call her brothers out until she realizes this could be her golden opportunity to finally get rid of her virginity with the man she desires more than any other.  A no-strings affair with Cole is perfect and will teach her interfering brothers - and  Cole - a much needed lesson.  It goes without saying that things don't exactly work out the way she envisions.

Friends to lovers is one of my favorite romance tropes and Dee Tenorio does it exceptionally well.  I love her voice.  It's smart, sexy, sassy and all rolled up in a humorous but heartwarming package.  This book was a delight from beginning to end; had me laughing, sighing, wanting to bash a few brothers' heads then hug the big louts and left me grinning from ear to ear the entire way.  It brings us two very likable main characters (yes, I fell in love with Cole and I'm not ashamed to admit it) that you can't help but root for and a family dynamic that's spot-on.  The secondary cast is engaging and plays pivotal roles without stealing the spotlight from the hero and heroine.  The tension between Amanda's oldest, uptight brother and her fun-loving, lingerie shop owning best friend is palpable.  I hope that means they will be getting a story of their own.  It would be so delicious!  

The Virgin's Revenge is part of Tenorio's Rancho del Cielo series but stands on it's own.  If you're looking for a fast, fun, feel-good story that sizzles, you can't go wrong with Dee Tenorio's The Virgin's Revenge.  I highly recommend it.


What's your favorite romance trope?  Any friends to lovers books you'd like to recommend?  I'm always looking for new books to add to my totally out of control to-be-read stash. ::grin::


  1. I made a note of this one, PJ. It sounds good. But I confess, without your fab review, that title would make me run in the opposite direction.

    Reunion and redemption stories are my favorites, but I also like the friends-to-lovers trope a lot. Some of my all-time favorites that use the trope are Connie Brockway's As You Desire, Deborah Smith's A Place to Call Home, and Loretta Chase's Last Night's Scandal. Some of my favorite authors use the trope repeatedly--Sarah Mayberry, Julia Quinn, and Nora Roberts, for example. Of course, when you've written two hundred books as Nora has, I guess you reuse many tropes. :)

    1. I made a note of this one, PJ. It sounds good. But I confess, without your fab review, that title would make me run in the opposite direction. .

      I know what you mean, Janga and it's one of the reasons I wanted to review this book. I've read, and enjoyed, books by Dee Tenorio before but had I been basing my reading decision on the title and cover alone I probably wouldn't have given this one a chance. That would have been a shame as I would have missed out on a story that I really liked a lot and a family I want to see more of.

  2. Thanks for another great review, PJ. I laughed when I read Janga's comment "that title would make me run in the opposite direction." I'd feel the same way but for your review. That's one of the things I so enjoy about this site; I know you always give us your honost opinions in your reviews.