I had no idea when the weekend started that I would get on a bearded Russian hero kick.
But I did!
Starting with Bearing All by Tiffinie Helmer. Once again, Kate from Babbling About Books sent me the link as soon as she saw it was about a bearded Russian dude in Alaska. And it was free! I figured I would give it a try, not really expecting too much.
Well, I had no idea how hot and sexy lumberjack Russian assassins could be! Sergei, aka "The Bear" (schwing!) is living in the boonies of Alaska, hiding his true assassin identity, and chopping copious amounts of wood. Chop that wood, Sergei! Faster! FASTER! *Penny slaps her own self*
Anyhoo, the premise for this story is awesome. The heroine is also an assassin out for revenge. Sergei killed her former partner, and even though she is harboring a very lusty attraction to Mr. Beardy Russian Lumberjack, she tracks him down to kill him.
I'm not usually into action-packed thrillers, but I would have to say this story was superb! The action and pacing were awesome for a novella-read, the simmering attraction between the two spies was super steamy, and the surprise ending was perfect. It was almost as though Tiffinie Helmer wrote this story just for me! (I keep picturing the name "Tiffinie" with hearts over the i's...hee hee).
As far as I know, this is still free at Amazon. I HIGHLY recommend this one if you like fast, action-packed novellas with lots of steam, and hunky Russian dudes.
As a direct result of mentioning Russian dudes on Twitter, I got a recommendation for a second book with a hottie hero. The Blacksmith's Lover by Heather Massey. Talk about different! This book was a delightful, quirky discovery. It is set in the 19th century, and it's about a secretive, super sexy Russian blacksmith with a very heavy accent (hot!), who takes in a scullery maid on-the-run. She is hiding from her vindictive former employers, and Viktor chops off her hair and disguises her as his apprentice.
This book was a totally refreshing, outside-of-the-box take on steampunk romance. Massey's voice is wonderful, and worked perfectly for this tale. The 19th century setting comes alive in this story, and the characters and their relationship were earthy, primitive and sometimes rough around the edges. Sex is not glamorized or romanticized. We get real sounds and real smells during the sex scenes--no rose-scented hair or sandalwood fragrance. Just a big, sweaty, hot, hairy Russian blacksmith...uh...*Penny slaps her own self again* I'm back!
The steampunk climax was fantastic! Massey somehow manages to mix romance, sex and steampunk inventions into one entertaining novella. This is definitely not a traditional romance, but I loved the unique aspect of the story and I will be reading more by this author. I love it when writers take a chance in our genre.