Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: One Grave at a Time


Reviewed by Jen
 
I'll be honest.  I went into this book fearing the worst.  The last installment in this series left me wanting and I was afraid the best days of Cat & Bones were behind us.  This book didn't quite measure up to the glory of the early books, but it was better than the last one.

It picks up shortly after where the events of This Side of the Grave left off.  Cat is still carrying the residual effects of Marie Laveau's blood magic.  And her uncle Don has appeared to her as a ghost.  He can't move on to the hereafter, but no one knows why. 

It doesn't take long for the book's big conflict to be revealed.  Elizabeth, a ghostly friend of Fabian's, comes to Cat asking for help to destroy an evil spirit. His name is Kramer and he tortured and killed Elizabeth --as well as other women who he once branded as witches.  It seems Kramer has developed a lot of power in the hundreds of years since his death.  He uses that strength to adopt a mortal body every Halloween to continue his attacks on innocent women.  Of course, Cat can't turn down Elizabeth's plea.  And the rest of the story follows Cat and Bones as they work to bring Kramer down.

One of the ways the last book fell short was the lack of action, but that's not the case here.  The story moves at a fast pace and there is some tension generated by the threat from the Kramer.  The unbridled passion, discovery, and angst once featured in the Cat and Bones relationship are gone.  In their place is now a deep and abiding love between them...  Love, trust and an unbreakable faith.   Their relationship is different now. And by necessity, I guess, it takes a backseat to the main story arc.  It's hard to make married love sexy. 

Many of the series' great supporting cast of characters are here: Charles and Denise are featured heavily... We also have Ian, Justina, Tate and Don.  And speaking of Don: there is a side story featuring him and a dastardly new character, Madigan, who is taking over Cat's old unit.  It seemed like Frost was going somewhere with this, but it never really came together.  Maybe it will be resolved in the next book.  A little more than 4 stars.

P.S.  I'm dying for that Vlad book.

One Grave at a Time
by Jeaniene Frost
Release Date: August 30, 2011 
Publisher: Avon

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Motor City Wolf

Reviewed by Jen
 
Fianna spent the first century of her life as a Fae, but thanks to a punishment from her queen, she is now forced to live as a human.  Her world has been turned upside down, but things aren't all bad.  She is now working for Greg, an alpha werewolf who makes her feel things she has never felt before.

Greg is crazy about Fee, but he is afraid to make a move.  He doesn't want to take advantage of her -- as an employee or as someone new to the emotions of humanity.  But circumstances conspire to have the two of them locked in together in the basement of Greg's club... on the night of the full moon.  They finally act on the attraction that has been building between them. And once the dam breaks, there is no going back.

In the meantime, someone is stalking and killing werewolves in the city.  Greg's bar has been targeted twice, and others have fared even worse than he has.  Add to that, the Alpha Prime, Greg's grandfather, is forcing him to mate... and there is a whole lot resting on his shoulders.  In a moment of desperation, Greg claims Fee as his mate, leaving her to wonder if their engagement is real or just a ruse to pacify the Prime. 

This is the third story in the Urban Arcana series.  There is obviously a lot of backstory and a lot of characters, explained in occasional spurts of information dumps.  I don't think I absorbed it all, but it was one of those cases where it mostly just made me want to read the earlier installments.  The main story was understandable and enjoyable without the benefit of the previous books. But I'll bet it was awesome for those already up to speed on the history. 

I really enjoyed the relationship between Greg and Fee.  It was very sexy! Add to that, plenty of great secondary characters and action mixed with pack intrigue and danger... and I was firmly engrossed in the story.  My only complaint was the reveal on who was try to kill Fee.  It felt abrupt and out of left field, with a character I barely knew in the context of this book.  The larger conspiracy ended up making more sense but I could tell that the identity of her would-be assassin was supposed to have more emotional resonance for me than it did.   Maybe it would have if I had read the earlier books.

There's a good set-up on a future story featuring Greg's cousin, Lana.  And I liked this one enough that I feel pretty sure I'll give that one a try too.  4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Motor City Wolf
by Cindy Spencer Pape
Release Date: August 29, 2011 
Publisher: Carina Press

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: By Grace Possessed

Reviewed by Jen
 
I liked this book so much more than By His Majesty's Grace.The story centers on Lady Cate Milton. She's one of the so-called Three Graces, a trio of sisters said to be cursed. Any man who tries to marry one of them for a reason other than love, is destined for death. Cate's older sister, Isabel, has managed a happy marriage, but Cate doesn't believe it's in the cards for her.

That doesn't stop her from appreciating an arresting man like Dunbar. The sexy Scotsman saved her from a band of men who would have kidnapped her in the woods. Circumstances forced them to spend the night together, and he was a perfect gentleman. But in the 1400's, appearances meant a lot. And before they knew it, the couple was betrothed at the insistence of the king.

Cate goes back and forth with her feelings. She wants Dunbar, but she fears for his life because of the curse. He is just as torn because while he wants nothing more than to bed the lady, he knows that if they wed, his father will disown him. On top of that, he wonders if Cate has anything to do with an attempt on his life. But when push comes to shove, the king gives neither of them much choice in the matter.

I enjoyed watching Cate and Dunbar come together. And there was plenty of intrigue going on in the background. It was a little too historically complicated for me at times, but there was enough action and danger to keep me interested. That, and watching the relationship between Cate and Dunbar unfold. (I am such a sucker for a burr and a kilt.) I was also excited to see that David... a favorite of mine from the last book... appears to be the love interest for the last sister and will be featured in the next book. Yay! Almost 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

By Grace Possessed
by Jennifer Blake
Release Date: August 30, 2011 
Publisher: Mira

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review: Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue

This book was not a winner for me.  It had some redeeming qualities, but more often than not, it left me frustrated and annoyed with the main characters.

At 25, Heather Cynster isn't quite on the shelf, but she is probably facing her last season. So she decides to take her love life into her own hands and to go in search of her own hero.  She ventures out to a scandalous party and comes face to face with Viscount Breckenridge, the bane of her existence.  Breckenridge ushers her away from the party and to her carriage. But she's kidnapped before she makes it to her destination.  Fortunately, Breckenridge witnesses the whole things and takes off in pursuit.

Heather's kidnappers are working for a mystery man who have tasked them with snatching any one of the Cynster sisters.  So once Breckenridge catches up to them, Heather opts to stay close to her captors to learn about their boss. She figures that if she simply escapes, the man will hire someone to go after one of her sisters.  That plan is a dud, but takes us about 1/3 of the way through the book.  From there, she does escape with Breckenridge... and they make they way towards some nearby relatives.  Along the way, the couple falls into bed together. And the rest of the book is spent going back and forth as to whether the two of them will admit their feelings to the other as the rules of society dictate they should wed.

These two frankly didn't deserve to find happiness.  At first, I kind of sympathized with Heather -- I mean, who would want to marry a man who doesn't love you?  But then, I realized, she won't step up and admit her feelings any more than he will.  They do this dance, where they sleep together, feel warm and fuzzy, refuse to admit it and have one miscommunication after another. And it goes on and on.

The book was too long, especially in the second half.  And the language was cumbersome and too flowery at times.  I actually found myself skimming over parts of the love scenes... which frankly, is blasphemy in most cases.  Let me give you an example of why:

"He led her into a landscape of sensual lushness created by touch, by tactile sensation, by long drawn-out intimate exploration, capped by sexual revelation.  He guided her on through valleys of pleasure colored by rainbows of glitteringly sharp delight, onto plateaus where untempered passion ran so luxuriously and deliciously deep that it swamped her senses and left her reeling."
Moving on.  There were moments I did want them to work things out. I wasn't beyond caring.  And I was pleased when the two of them finally admitted their feelings.  But on the whole, it didn't ring my bells. A little more than 3 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley
Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue
by Stephanie Laurens
Release Date: August 30, 2011 
Publisher: Avon

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: Sin's Daughter

Reviewed by Jen
 
This short story is the prequel to Eve Silver's Otherkin series.  It features Kai, a soul reaper, and his lost love, Amber.  Kai and Amber were happy and in love 50 years ago, when each was lured away to a separate location and attacked.  Amber survived; Kai didn't.  Each thought the other betrayed them and set up the ambush.

Kai went to the Underworld and was offered immortality to become a reaper.  Amber kept running.  She's been hunted her whole life, but she doesn't know why. She only knows that she is immortal and has been alive for a century.

Amber and Kai's paths cross again in the present day when he is sent to harvest the soul of a man attacking Amber.  Seeing each other again, it's like no time has passed.  But can they get over their suspicions of each other long enough to acknowledge their feelings? Can they work together to figure out who is after Amber and the truth behind her life on the run?

I liked this story. It was short, but sexy. And since these two already have a history together, their feelings were believable.  Even though it's a prequel, I would suggest reading one or two of the full length stories before reading this one.  That way, you'll already be caught up on the world building and you can focus on the love story and the action. You should read it before Sins of the Flesh, since Kai is incorporated into the story there.  4 stars.

Sin's Daughter
by Eve Silver
Release Date: June 22, 2010 
Publisher: HQN

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Friday, August 26, 2011

More Fever Books

I am both elated and a little concerned.  Karen Marie Moning announced this morning her plans for the future of her Fever series.  She says, in part:

I'm currently working on a trilogy that features Dani, Christian MacKeltar, Ryodan, and the mysterious 'Dancer,' set primarily in Fever-Dublin... I’ve agreed to write two more books after that. Once the new trilogy is complete, I’m returning to the core story begun in the FEVER series, and will resume writing about Mac, Barrons, V’lane, Cruce, the Unseelie king, the concubine, the Song of Making.
First of all, I am thrilled to hear than Barrons and Mac have more story to tell.

And not just because I want to read about them having more sex.  Though, admittedly, who would turn that down?  No... it's that I want to see where they go from here.  The very fact that she mentions V'lane means he can't remain frozen forever, right?  I'm over the moon on this.

The anxious part comes with the Dani stories.  I have never been a big fan of Dani.  The way she talks grates on me.  She is impulsive and immature.  And that's understandable when you acknowledge the fact that she is a child.  But her youth makes her a poor candidate to be the female lead in story featuring a 20-something Highlander-turned-Unseelie-Prince and a thousands of year-old, well, whatever the hell Ryoden is. I would pin my hopes on the possibility of a big time jump, but Moning says:

The trilogy is not YA.  If I had to categorize it, I would say it straddles the line between YA and adult uneasily. I don’t pull any punches. It may be controversial in some ways.  But whose teen years weren’t?
I think I am uncomfortable already. Which makes me kind of pissed off because I want to feel nothing but squee about this.  Part of me knows I have to just trust that Moning knows what she is doing.  After all, she rocked my socks off with the existing installments of this series. 

I think I am going to practice some deep breathing exercises and resume my Google search of David Gandy photos.  You can't go wrong with Gandy.

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Review: Body of Sin


Reviewed by Jen
 
The first three books in this series were all about the murder of Lokan Krayl.

OK, to be fair, they were about solving the murder of Lokan Krayl while his brothers found love and got laid.  And the big climax came with the Lokan's resurrection and the revelation of his killer.  That was the end of the last book --but only the beginning of Lokan's story.

As this book begins, he is still trapped in the Underworld.  And he must pass through a dozen treacherous gates before he can return Topside and reunite with his precious daughter, Dana.  It's a task that's beyond his capabilities.  Fortunately, it's not beyond Byrn's.

Byrn is Dana's mother, but she is also a "walker"... one capable of leading souls through the Underworld.  Once she learns who really killed Lokan, she is smart enough to realize that she, alone, cannot protect their child. So she journeys the kingdom of Osiris, to guide Lokan home.

Together, the two must face one challenge after the other.  And for the first time, they must also face their feelings for each other. In flashback, we learn about their history together, and we see the evolution of their relationship. This is a welcome change of pace for a series that usually subscribes to the "thunderbolt" theory of instant connection.  Their love for each other is really a revelation for them both.  Both characters were likable, each willing to sacrifice themselves for the daughter they love so much.  Their love story was more sweet than steamy, though there were a couple of smexy scenes to add some spice.

The conclusion was satisfying, but ample foreshadowing kept it from being much of a surprise.  The ending of every book in this series has been abrupt, but I've always written that off to the cliffhangers. Here, even with solid resolution, the book still ended hard and fast.  But with the introduction of Bryn's brothers, I have a feeling the author will find more story to tell.  4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Body of Sin
by Eve Silver
Release Date: August 23, 2011 
Publisher: HQN

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: Sins of the Flesh

Reviewed by Jen
 
I am so glad I stuck with this series! These books just keep getting better and better. Mal, Alastor and Dagan still haven't solved the mystery of their brother Lokan's death. Alastor and Dagan are each mated to a Daughter of Aset. And now, it's Mal's turn.

Calliope has no idea who or what Mal is when she approaches him in a bar. She only knows that she needs to feed from the energy of a man and she'd rather use sex than blood to get her fill. Since Mal is essentially sex on a stick, he seems a perfect candidate. The two are already starting to get down to business when she finally gets a sense that he is more than human. She can't get away fast enough.

Their paths cross again when they both go after the same witness to Lokan's murder.  (Mal doesn't recognize her at first, since she is no longer wearing the disguise she had on at the bar.) The two of them face off, each trying to get custody of the man. And in the heat of battle, Calliope bites Mal, which not only amps up her strength but ends up creating a tasty bond between them.

Neither one of these two wants to fall in love. Mal is a man-whore.  Who wants to give that up? And Calliope is a control freak, who is unerringly loyal to the Daughters of Aset. But it was hard enough for them to ignore their attraction before the blood-tie. After the bite, they are fighting a lost cause. I enjoyed the progression of their relationship and I really, really enjoyed the sex. Rraw.

A good thing about this series is that each books builds on the one before. And FINALLY we find out who is behind Lokan's death and why. I can't say I was really surprised.  (I has my suspicions beginning in the last book.) But nevertheless, it was a pretty great moment when we reached the climax at the end. (*spoilers*) "He was alive. His name was Lokan Krayal, and he was alive."  Hot damn!

A little more than 4 stars.

Sins of the Flesh
by Eve Silver
Release Date: October 1, 2010 
Publisher: HQN

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

THAT Looks Different!

Obviously, there's a new design here at Red Hot Books. And I can't tell you how excited I am.  All the credit goes to Rachel, otherwise known as Parajunkee.  I lucked out and won a free web design from her on Twitter. If you like what you see, she does stuff like this for a living... so go check her out!

I'd love to hear what you think! Is there anything you like or don't like in particular?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Review: Sins of the Soul

Reviewed by Jen
 
The hunt for Lokan's killer and the search for his body continues in this second installment of Eve Silver's Otherkin series.  This book picks up just days after the last one left off.  Dagan, Alastor and Mal are no closer to figuring out who killed their brother. But they haven't given up.

Alastor is following a lead when his path first crosses with Naphré.  She is a Topworld Assassin who has turned her back on her heritage as a Daughter of Aset... the sworn enemies of Alastor's father, Sutekh, the Lord of Chaos.  Things aren't going well for Naphré.  Her mentor, Butcher, has betrayed her and taken a job to kill her. Naphré manages to turn the tables, but just as she buries his body, Alastor shows up.  He knows Butcher could have information about who killed Lokan, so he harvests the man's soul to bring to his father for answers.  But Butcher's soul belongs to another deity and she wants the soul that is due to her. 

There is an immediate awareness and attraction between Alastor and Naphré.  Both characters are strong, but stoic.  They have both known deep loss, but keep a tight reign on their emotions.  Neither is looking for love, but they can't ignore what is growing between them.  I liked these two much better than Dagan and Roxy.  It's probably one of the reasons that I liked the book better, as a whole.  Neither was reckless or full of bluster.  Neither was obnoxious.  But when push comes to shove, both can and do kick ass.  The burn is a slower build between them, which is good. It feels like it takes forever to get to the consummation, but the payoff is good. 

Another plus for this installment is the fact that the world building is already in place. It makes the storytelling less cumbersome and the book moved much faster.  There was a lot of action and intrigue surrounding all the different gods and factions.  The ending was pretty abrupt, though.  And while the state of our couple's relationship is resolved, there is virtually no movement in the mystery of Lokan's murder.  Yep, it's another cliffhanger.  That would really annoy me if I didn't already have the next book lined up to read.  4 stars.

Sins of the Soul
by Eve Silver
Release Date: September 1, 2010 
Publisher: HQN

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Sins of the Heart


Reviewed by Jen
 
This book didn't exactly light my fire from the beginning.  The premise was interesting, but I had a hard time connecting to the characters and their love story.

Roxy and Dagan first met 11 years ago. As a soul reaper, he was on a mission to collect a dark soul to bring to his father, Sutekh, the God of Chaos.  Roxy was the hostage of his target.  There was an instant connection, despite the fact that as a demi-god, Dagan should have felt nothing for a human.  And by the same token, attraction should have been the last thing Roxy was feeling, as she got her first glimpse into the dark world of the supernatural.  Dagan managed to suppress his desire, leaving Roxy behind... gone, but not forgotten.

Since then, Roxy has joined the Daughters of Aset, which serve one of Sutekh's greatest enemies.  With the group, she has found the first family she's ever known.  But when Dagan's brother is mysteriously killed, his investigation leads him to cross paths with Roxy again.  What does Lokan's murder have to do with the Daughters of Asat?  How is it related to the little girl Roxy saved on her last mission?   And how does anyone kill a demi-God in the first place?

There are forces that don't want these questions answered and that puts Dagan and Roxy in grave danger.  Of course, danger + sexual tension is bound to equal explosive sex... which, of course, leads to deeper feelings.

It all sounds really cool, but there were a few things that were off-putting. Initially, my problem was Roxy with her lame urban slang... calling Dagan "white boy" and "vanilla bean." Really?  Then, I got a little annoyed with the repetition.. from the 10 times I heard about the toffee or coffee-with-double-cream color of her skin --from her bronze eyes to her dark ringlets-- once is enough.  But I think the bigger problem was that I just couldn't see why these two fell for each other... or perhaps more accurately, I couldn't feel anything but lust between them.  Don't get me wrong, I like lust.  The sex was hot, but I never burned for these two to make their way together.

The intrigue surrounding Lokan's death did get more interesting to me over time.  And by the time the book ended, I was pretty engrossed in that story. Unfortunately, I didn't get much in the way of answers, since it ended on a cliffhanger.  I've heard that the books in this series get progressively better, so I'm going to give the next installment a try and see where it all goes from here. 3 1/2 stars.

Sins of the Heart
by Eve Silver
Release Date: July 20, 2010 
Publisher: HQN

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Series Reading Order: Otherkin

This is the reading order for the Otherkin series by Eve Silver:

*Denotes short story/novella

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Queen of the Sylphs

Wow.  This book had me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning to the very last page. It is somewhat of a departure from the previous installments in the series. Each of the first two books focused on the love story of an individual couple with the backdrop of the rich complicated world the author has created. But not this book. This book features all of the characters we already know and have come to care for, without a central love story. It feels a little different, but I still loved it.

The beginning of the story slightly overlaps with the end of The Shattered Sylph. Leon, Ril and Lizzie have not yet returned to Sylph Valley. The sweet, but slightly dim couple that Leon and Ril rescued early in the last book, are now settling in. Gabralina is so happy that she writes to her old friend Sala to share her happy news about falling in love with Wat and finding a new home. Sala appears in the valley shortly after, ready to share in Gabralina's new life.

Leon, Ril, and Lizzie return with an angry Justin in tow. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is going to be serious trouble from that guy. Especially since he has the power to control Ril and he is still in love with Lizzie. While we wait for that shoe to drop, it's really Sala who reveals herself to be the villain. And what a villain she is. Sociopath is too kind of a word. She orchestrates deaths, rape, and misery, all for her own selfish gain. Watching the destruction of poor Claw is heartbreaking. Gabralina's eventual devastation actually made me cry. Sala isn't traditionally malicious; she is a pit of evil... a soulless void. And in that, she is frightening and gruesome.

The story doesn't only center on the mayhem surrounding Sala. We see the continuing repercussions from the events in the last book, with the rise of a new queen and her new hive. We see Solie and Heyou grow as a couple and deal with their inability to have children. We lose some people we've grown to love and we gain new characters who will no doubt become beloved as well.

This book took my emotions on a roller coaster ride and I honestly had no idea what would happen. Which was awesome. The world building is fascinating and consistent. The characters are many, but are clearly defined and emotionally resonant. The story builds beautifully on the previous installments, making it a treasure for fans of the series. But I don't know how clear it would all be to a newcomer to the books. I suggest checking the series out from the beginning. It's worth it. I can't wait to see what happens next. 5 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley
Queen of the Sylphs
by LJ McDonald
Release Date: September 15, 2011
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing

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Small Blogs, Big Giveaways



34 books+ 9 GC = 43 prizes!

Check out the loot:



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HOSTS

Organized by: Reading Romances
hosting other giveaways now? US$100 gift card giveaway!
Letters Inside Out
hosting other giveaways now? Yes – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It will be international.
Reads With Wreckless Abandon
hosting other giveaways now? Monthly Book Giveaway- It’s international your choice of 1 from 5 books.
So Many Books, Here’s Mine
hosting other giveaways now? Yes
Laurie’s Thoughts & Reviews
hosting other giveaways now? YES – A Bonus Giveaway
Will be giving away a $10 Gift Card (winner’s choice, Amazon, B&N, Book Depository) and more books.
The Magic Attic
‪hosting other giveaways now? Blog tour for Static by Tawny Stokes, and a The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton swag giveaway‬
Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger
‪hosting other giveaways now? a tour giveaway from Stacey Thompson Geer on the 24th‬ + 3 other contests still open one for a DVD of Something Borrowed, My 300 Follower Giveaway and another Tour Giveaway for the Gift of Illusion.
Red Hot Books
hosting other giveaways now? Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison (paperback) — US/Canada
Frugal Experiments
hosting other giveaways now?The Spa For Ma Giveaway Event $100 spa basket giveaway Runs from Aug 18-31st
and The Back To School Giveaway Hop $25 school supply package Runs from Aug 22-26th
Book Nerd Reviews
hosting other giveaways now? August giveaway will be running from August 1st – August 30th. This month the winner will win two books though instead of one. And they will be able to chose from three genres. It will be international – anywhere Book Depository delivers to.
Can’t Put It Down
hosting other giveaways now? it ends when my Facebook page gets 150 Likes.
FEAT. AUTHORS
Nicola Marsh
hosting other giveaways now? Yes, 2 double prize packs featuring current release Girl in a Vintage Dress & Overtime in the Boss’s Bed
Small Blogs, Big Giveaways- 3rd edition: Sept. 23-30! Sign up to HOST the 3rd edition of this event, by answering this form!
OPTIONAL INFO:
Winners:
We’ll be selecting a random participant to win a gift card for every 100 entries till we reach 600!The first winner will choose 15 items from the prize list (including the maximum number of 1 gift card)The 2nd will choose 12 items after the 1st winner has chosen (2 gift cards maximum)
The 3rd will get 10 items after the 2nd winner has chosen (2 gift cards maximum)
The remaining books and giftcards will be given to one of our lucky hosts – who’ll  be selected using random.org!
**Rules:**
1.Sign up using the RAFFLECOPTER tool.
1.2Read the blog rules to know how to sign up for the prizes other blogs might be providing.
2.This is an INTERNATIONAL giveaway
3.You must be at least 18 years or older, or of legal age in your country.
4.The contest will end on AUGUST 29th at 11:59 pm GMT and winners will be posted after they have been selected.
5.Winners will be selected using the RAFFLECOPTER tool or random.org
5.1The winners will be notified by email and announced on all hosting blogs.
5.2 The winners will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS.
6.Each blogger will be responsable for mailing the prize they provided. No replacements will be made. Your email address will not be saved or used for any other purposes then to contact the winner in the contest for their mailing address.
6.The Bloggers not responsible for other prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit.
7. Prizes are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Giveaway: Storm's Heart

This contest is closed. Mary is the winner.

I want to show a little love to my followers by giving away one of the best books I have read this summer.  If you haven't read Thea Harrison's Storm's Heart, now is your chance!  Here's the blurb:

Able to wield thunder and lightning, wyr sentinel Tiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries. His massive build and thunderous power make him one of the wyr's best weapons. And he's the one sent to protect Tricks, heir to the Dark Fae throne, when she's almost assassinated in Chicago. Soon Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them-a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds.


You can check out my gushing review if you want a little more info.

If you'd like to enter, just comment below. This giveaway is open to all Red Hot Books followers in the US and Canada.  The contest will close at 7pm EST August 29th!  Thanks for making blogging fun!

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Review: The Gladiator's Master


Reviewed by Jen
 
Holy. Crap.  This book is hot.  As in, I need a cold shower RIGHT NOW hot.  It's like Spartacus (the Starz version), but with gay sex. Hot gay sex.  Let me start from the beginning.

Caelius is a Roman who inherits his uncle Craxus' lutus upon the man's death.  Caelius isn't a man who enjoys blood-sport, but he recognizes the importance the lutus can play in raising his political power.  So he decides to restore it to greatness.

Craxus was a self-absorbed man who cared nothing for his slaves or his gladiators... so when Caelius arrives, the men are in terrible condition. All but one man -- Gaidres.  Caelius is instantly attracted to the gladiator, but would never force himself on a man who doesn't share his interest.  He begins seeking counsel from Gaidres as he restores the house; he takes his advice on the men and they begin to spend more time together.  Eventually, Caelius asks Gaidres if he would be interested in an affair.  Gaidres is no man to be dominated but that isn't what Caelius is after.  He wants to be beneath the strong gladiator.  Gaidres agrees. 

The two men are on fire in bed... and against the wall... and on the floor... and in the baths.  But the growing passion between them is difficult for Gaidres to accept. He hates Romans. He was forced into slavery and wants to snuff all anyone who shares a blood tie with Craxus.  The sex is realllly good though, so he keeps coming back for more.

Somehow, though, the affair begins to become something more.  And real feelings develop between the men.  Can Gaidres move past his anger and his regrets to let Caelius in? 

I enjoyed this book a lot.  You may have picked up on the fact that is was highly sexy, but it had a real story too.  The characters were empathetic and fleshed out; there was action and emotion.  It was everything you'd hope for in a m/m gladiator book (<--I don't get to say that every day.)  If it sounds like your cup of tea, I'd definitely recommend it.  Yum.  4 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

The Gladiator's Master
by Fae Sutherland and Marguerite Labbe
Release Date: September 19, 2011 
Publisher: Carina Press

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review: Enemy Lover

**Hot Cover Alert**
Reviewed by Jen
 
What a difference one book can make. Enemy Lover isn't perfect, but it's a big improvement over "Broken Souls." This book had a lot of action, a lot of heart, and a lot of really hot sexy times.

The book begins with Damian on the hunt for Jamie, his destined mate. We learned in The Empath that Jamie was in league with the evil Morphs, trying to learn magic. She even helped them with their plan to try and kill Damian. Fortunately, that didn't work out. But despite her betrayal, Damian wants her. Because they are destined to share a bond, no other woman will do.  

Destiny or not, Jamie has no plans to mate with Damian. She saw him kill her brother years ago and she has hated him ever since. But he is the only one who can help her fight a curse laid on her by the Morphs. Despite her protests, the two end up working together to hunt for an old book of magic that could contain the spell to save her. And of course, that time spent together lays the groundwork for the development of their relationship.

The sexual tension between these two is off the charts.  Poor Damian wants to sleep with Jamie so badly. But over and over, he pushes down his needs, to please her. The man deserved to get lucky way before he did and frankly, I thought he had the patience of a saint. 

I wasn't a big fan of Jamie. Granted, she is young, but she makes some excruciatingly bad decisions. She teamed up with the Morphs; she tried to kill Damian; she put him and herself in danger over and over. And she refused to accept the hard truths about her brother. I didn't really think she deserved Daiman. Yeah, yeah... she's damaged. (The backstory with the cat was fit for a horror movie.) But it didn't garner enough sympathy in me to forgive her constant stupidity.

Overall, I did like the book, though.  The world building continues to broaden.  And the story introduces us to Daiman's adopted family, the Robichauxs, who will be featured in future installments. Plus, when Damian and Jamie finally get around to doing the deed... Well, you may want to have a bucket of ice water handy. Rraw. 

4 stars.


Enemy Lover
by Bonnie Vanak
Release Date: November 1, 2008 
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne

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Darkfever Movie: I Die!!

I didn't read Twilight before the movie came out. I've never been a fan of Harry Potter.  Honestly, until I got word that they were making The Hunger Games into a movie, I've never really been all that excited about a book adaptation before.  Then I heard that DreamWorks has bought the rights to all five books in Karen Marie Moning's Fever series.

To say I love this series would be an understatement akin to saying I love McDonald's french fries or I love Charlie Hunnam without a shirt on.  It is one the very best series I have ever read.  I laid in bed at night after reading Dreamfever, trying to figure out who the beast was.  I took a vacation day to stay home and read on the day Shadowfever was released.  I cried like a baby for the first 20 pages of that book and made my co-worker read the series just so I could talk to someone about it.

And don't even get me started on Barrons.  Yes, (Katiebabs if you are reading this) he is a douche.  He is an arrogant, unrelenting asshole.  Who would likely be the best lay of a lifetime.  Fans have devoted hours to Google searches, trying to find pictures that could do him justice.  And now, some poor actor is going to have to try to live up to that inhuman sex appeal.  (David Gandy can't act, can he?)  Can it be done?  Is there anyone would could satisfy fans?  

I'm still trying to cast Acheron in my head. And now Barrons?  V'Lane? Christian?  I must have done something really good in a previous life.  A Dark Hunter tv show. A Darkfever movie. And a male-stripper movie with almost every hot guy in Hollywood getting naked.  Thank you, entertainment gods.  I love you.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Did Somebody Say "Full Frontal?"

I don't normally post about movies or anything else that is not book related.  But you know I do have a soft spot for man-candy.  And I'll be damned if I didn't just hear about the man-candy movie of the century.

It's called Magic Mike and it's a Steven Soderbergh movie about male strippers.  Sit down for a moment while I lay out the cast:


Alex Pettyfer


Channing Tatum

Joe Manganiello


Matthew Bomer
They will be taking off their clothes in this movie.  Let's stop and absorb that for a moment.  They will be naked.  Maybe completely, gloriously naked... a la Spartacus.  I think I might set up a tent at the theater.

Oh yeah.. and this guy is playing the ex-stripper who owns the club:

Matthew McConaughey

I'm going to go sit in the corner and rock back and forth until this movie comes out.

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Review: A Midwinter Fantasy

A Midwinter Fantasy is a mixed bag of short stories from the fantasy romance genre with a Christmas theme. Here's a look at the novellas included:

"A Christmas Carroll" - This story serves as wrap-up for the Percy Parker series by Leanna Renee Hieber. And I understand fans of the series loved it.  Speaking as someone who has never read these books, the story wasn't so great.  Obviously the world-building in this series is pretty complicated and while the bare bones are laid out here, it was painfully apparent how much I had missed. 

Basically, the novella is set up in the framework of the Dickens story of the same name.  But here, the spirits are trying to teach the heartbroken Rebecca that she has had true love at her fingertips for 20 years. In a series of flashbacks, she learns how much Michael has always loved her and that all she needs to do is reach out to him to find happiness.  This is all set up in the context of a world of ghosts and a secret Guardian society set in Victorian London.  The story was ok. But I had the unmistakable feeling I was reading the last chapter of an unfamiliar book. 

"The Worth of a Sylph" - This was the story I read the anthology for --as I am a big fan of LJ McDonald's Sylph series. I was a little confused when I first heard that this was a love story for Mace. After all, he bonded with Lily back in The Battle Sylph.  But a whopping 19 years have now passed since the events of that book.  And Lily is an old woman. She knows that she doesn't have much time left, so she encourages Mace to find a new master... a woman he can love.

Meanwhile, Jayden, one of Lily's orphan children has run away and she asks Mace to find him. On his journey, he reconnects with Sally, a woman who he shared a tumble with in the first book.  They instantly reconnect and it's quickly apparent that she will be the woman who has his heart.  The people in her village have ostracized her for her affair with Mace and their cruelty extended to her son... who seems to be traveling with the bandits who have Jayden. Now Mace is on a mission to save both boys, while he hopes for a future with the woman who could finally be his soul mate.

Be aware that this story is a peek into the future.  The series jumps back 13 years for the next full length book, Queen of the Sylphs

"The Crystal Crib" - Sonja has traveled to Iceland to broker a business deal for her aunt. But when she arrives in Vidar's office, instead of her aunt, he is shocked to see her.  It turns out that Vidar has been the guardian angel tied to Sonja's soul her whole life. He saved her life as a baby and has been linked to her ever since.  But with her return to Iceland, she is drawn back in the feud between her father and Vidar's.  At first she seems to be just a pawn, but it's slowly revealed that she is much more.

The connection between Sonja and Vidar is sweet and sexy.  The story is set on the backdrop of Norse mythology, which is fun and a little off the beaten path.  Nothing too deep, but entertaining.

As a fan of the Sylph series, obviously the McDonald selection was my favorite. Taylor's wasn't bad.  But I think Hieber's story may be a miss for readers unfamiliar with the previous books.  Almost 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

A Midwinter Fantasy
by Leanna Hieber, LJ McDonald, Helen Scott Taylor
Release Date: November 23, 2010 
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: The Shattered Sylph

The more I read of this series, the more I like it. 

Six years have passed since the events of The Battle Sylph, but the transition feels seamless.  Solie is still queen of what is now known as Sylph Valley.  Heyou (**cringe**) is still at her side. Lizzie, Leon's daughter, is now 18 years-old. She is still in love with Ril, her father's battle sylph. But he closed himself off to her emotionally after he was injured at the end of the last book. And she believes he has no feelings for her beyond friendship.

Of course, she's wrong. Completely, utterly, wonderfully wrong. When Lizzie is kidnapped by slavers, Ril joins her father and Justin (a young suitor of hers) on a mission to find her. Ril is the only one who can track her, because years ago, he imprinted himself on her in secret. He made her his master out of his love for her.

The slavers put Lizzie in a harem for battle sylphs who need an outlet. But when none of them wants her, she discovers that it is because they see her as mated to Ril. And when the two of them are reunited, it's just spectacular.

The world-building in this series is just enthralling. The sex and sexual tension are awesome, but the book is also wonderfully romantic. There is plenty of action, great secondary characters, and impressive continuity. Ril is a fantastic tortured hero... and I have such a weak spot for those (especially when they're done right.) My only niggling complaints are the same ones I had for the last book... dumb names for the sylphs and the youth of the heroines. Even aging Lizzie six years, leaves her only at 18. These are not YA books... would it kill the author to make the girls 20 or 21?

Again, these complaints are small ones. I really, really enjoyed this book --and I love this series. Almost 5 stars.

The Shattered Sylph
by LJ McDonald
Release Date: March 30, 2010 
Publisher: Leisure Books

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review: The Battle Sylph

Imagine a world filled with elemental beings, subjugated to human masters. These beings are called sylphs. Each female sylph has a special gift: power over healing, water, air, fire or water. The males are warriors... battle sylphs. Humans can open a portal to the sylph world and if the sylph sees someone worthy of being a master, they'll cross over. But the battle sylphs are being tricked. They see lovely young women in the portal... but when each battler crosses over, the humans kill the female lure and force the battle sylph into the service of a man.

The king's men planned that very scenario to lure a battler for the prince. But the young woman they kidnapped for the sacrifice was more resourceful than they expected. Solie turns the tables and manages to claim the sylph for her own. And instead of subservience through a bond of hatred... her sylph worships her... wants nothing more than to please her.

They make their way out of the kingdom and band with others wishing to live in a new way. In this makeshift community, the sylphs are tied to humans, but they are otherwise free. The many constraints of the kingdom don't exist. And as Solie and her battler grow closer, it creates lasting repercussions not only for them, but for all the sylphs around them.

The author has constructed a rich and complicated fantasy world. But I didn't have any trouble following it. And the more I read, the more I liked it. The secondary characters were every bit as interesting and engaging as the leads, maybe more so... and there were no points that I felt bored or anxious to get back to another POV.

I had only two complaints about the entire thing.  Primarily, I wish Solie were older. She's only 17 and while it's very common for 17 year-olds to be sexually active, it was hard for me to think of her as a woman or a romantic lead. This is even more true with Lizzie --a side character who is even younger and clearly the intended love interest for the next book. (I pray there is a serious time jump.) --The second minor complaint... the battler's name. I never could get past her calling him "Heyou." I get it, but it annoyed me.

Please know that both these peeves amounted to very little in the grand scheme of things. I liked the book a lot --and I'm off to read The Shattered Sylph to see what happens next. 4 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley
The Battle Sylph
by LJ McDonald
Release Date: March 28, 2010
Publisher: Leisure Books 

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