Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: A Lady by Midnight

Reviewed by Jen
 
I am a sucker for heroes who think themselves unworthy of their heroine.  Especially when they are the strong silent type.  Colonel Samuel Thorne delivers all of this in spades.  He is sexy. He is damaged. He is honorable. And he is completely and totally smitten by Spindle Cove's music teacher, Kate Taylor.

Of course, Kate has no idea that Thorne feels anything but disgust for her. He studiously avoids her, and Kate's low self esteem draws the absolute worst conclusions.  After all, she has a birthmark on her face that people have stared at all of her life.  She grew up in orphanage. No family. No love. She has made friends since moving to Spindle Cove, but no man has ever shown her any attention.

As the story begins, Kate is on a mission to learn about the family she never knew. She visits her old school-mistress out of town and the woman treats her cruelly. To make matters worse, she misses the coach back home and is nearly stuck on the streets for the night, until Thorne comes to her rescue and offers her a ride.  It's in that journey back to town that everything changes between them.

Kate and Thorne share a memorable kiss during the ride back, waking her up to feelings she has never had before.  Thorne wants her, but believes her too good for him. He comes from nothing.  He has a criminal past and no breeding.  And he is afraid that if he spends too much time with Kate, she will eventually remember their childhood together and the brothel where they grew up.  He refuses to allow her to face such horrible memories.

In the meantime, a wealthy family arrives in Spindle Cove, claiming to be Kate's long lost family.  Thorne questions their motives and claims to be Kate's fiance to protect her from whatever nefarious thing they may be planning.  She is willing to go along with his plan --and from there, their fake engagement somehow becomes very, very real.

I liked Kate.  She is very genuine and really only wants to know love. Not just romantic love, but any love.  She thinks she is a throw-away and Thorne's attentions make her come alive.  There were a few times I was surprised at how she put herself out there to him, despite his reticence. But I loved Thorne so much.  I needed him to find some happiness and it was lovely watching Kate show him his worth.

Their path is rocky at times, but it is very rewarding.  The writing is so good. Tessa Dare really put me inside her characters' heads and hearts.  The pacing is great.  The sexual tension is fabulous.  And the characters are insanely easy to root for.  This is really a good one.

Rating: A-

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
A Lady by Midnight
by Tessa Dare
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Labels: , , ,

5 for Friday - August 31

This has not been a good week in Red Hot Bookland. There was a pesky hurricane that hit my neck of the woods. It screwed with the kids' school schedule. It stressed me out, worrying about my family in New Orleans.  It made work at the tv station a nightmare.  Hurricanes are the devil's work. Add to that the fact that I started a diet/ exercise adventure in torture routine... and, well... screw it. Let's get to the good stuff.

5. Let's start strong. Adam Levine. American Horror Story.


This looks so bad ass. Who is planning to watch? The premiere is October 17th.

4. I love Amanda Bonilla's Shaede Assassin books. The ending of Blood Before Sunrise was a real kick in the nuts.  Now, she's got the blurb out on book three, Crave the Darkness.
Nothing comes easy for Darian. Her heightened powers make her indispensable to the Shaede Nation, but dangerous missions have driven her lover, Tyler, to his breaking point. Darian must salvage their bond, but a new assignment to protect Anya—a fellow Shaede and the first of their kind to become pregnant in centuries—stands in their way.

It doesn’t help that the two Shaedes are longtime rivals and share nothing besides mutual hatred. But when it becomes clear that someone—or something—is bent on destroying the expectant mother and her unborn child, Darian must put her feelings aside and track down Anya’s would-be assassin.

As she probes into Anya’s past, Darian digs up long-buried secrets—and a connection between Tyler and the mission that could destroy everything between them…
As if I wasn't a wreck already. WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME, AMANDA BONILLA?? Now, I'm not sure if I want to read it.  --OK, that's a lie. I'm totally going to read it, but I'm very nervous about it.

Somebody hold me.  Adam Levine, maybe?

Crave the Darkness is out March 2013.  The Ty POV novella, Lost to the Gray, releases February 5th.

3. No cover on that book yet, but I do have one gorgeous cover to share. Here's a peek at The Lost, book two in the Celestial Blues series by Vicki Pettersson.



Wow!! The Lost is out in March.

2. I Love Kristen Callihan's Darkest London books with a capital L.  Now Kristen has posted four deleted scenes from Moonglow.

 
You can find them all here, along with a giveaway on book one, Firelight. If you haven't read this book, go enter right now!! (Or after you finish this post and leave a meaningful comment.)

1. And finally. Another tv show that has piqued my interest.


ABC has ordered a pilot for S.H.I.E.L.D. with Joss Whedon as part of the deal. I have loved almost every show I have ever seen from that man.  (Buffy forever!!) Whedon is tapped to write the pilot and direct!  King Joss says the series will be "autonomous" from the movies.  I will try not to hold the absence of Chris Hemsworth against them (too much.) No word on any casting, but I am intrigued.

OK. That's it for this week. My husband is watching Gigolos in the background as I type this and it is very distracting. (It's so horrible, I must watch.)

XOXO,
Jen


Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Pride and Politics

Reviewed by Jen
 
Hunter is a character who was very difficult to like in the earlier books of this series.  He was not only a man-whore, but he was cocky, dismissive, and sometimes even downright mean to the men he hooked up with.  I'm happy to say that we see an entirely new side to Hunter in this book and we learn a lot about what makes him tick.

As we already knew, Hunter is part of a very politically connected family.  Now, he has been tapped to take part in his uncle's vice-presidential campaign, serving as the token gay family member.  He's getting a huge payoff for the gig, but just to be sure he stays on the straight and narrow, his uncle has hired Steve to serve as his image consultant --and generally as his wrangler.

Steve has no intention of doing anything more than his job when it comes to Hunter. But it quickly becomes apparent that there is more to Hunter than the arrogant ass he projects.  In fact, the more Steve sees of Hunter's vulnerabilities, the more he allows his feelings for him to grow.  The story follows the development of their relationship and the impact it has on Hunter as a person.

I really enjoyed the first half.  I liked getting a behind the scenes look at Hunter and the dynamics of his family and his past.  I liked Steve and his steady influence --and as always, Daisy Harris is great with the sex and the sexual tension.

I did have some significant problems, though.  First of all, I felt like Steve's decision to indulge with Hunter was very abrupt. It was no, no, no --and then yes really fast. I know what the impetus was, but I think I would have liked more time inside Steve's head as he changed his mind.  This bothered me, but not nearly as much as the sudden introduction of BDSM into the relationship.  I felt like it came out of nowhere. Yes, Hunter is bossy and kind of supernova, but it seemed like he appreciated the different dynamic he had with Steve at the beginning of their relationship. And Steve surely gave me no inclination he might like to be a sub. He's never even bottomed before.

Maybe it's just that the whole dom/sub thing is not my bag, but I really didn't get a whiff of this between these two until *BAM* Steve is gagged with a tie and shoving his ass in the air in the limousine.   I didn't like this development and it was made worse for me because I didn't see it coming.

This is book six in the Men of Holsum College series --and we've seen Hunter before-- but this would work easily as a standalone.

Rating: C

*ARC provided by author for review

Pride and Politics
by Daisy Harris
Release Date: August 25, 2012
Publisher: Siren
 

Labels: , , , ,

Review: Seducing Cinderella

Reviewed by Shelly
 
Reid Maxwell is a MMA fighter on his way to reclaiming victory but first has to recovery from an injury and subsequent surgery. Kindhearted and shy Lucy Miller is his chosen physical therapist helping him on his journey.  

Honestly folks, I thought – not another Spinderalla tale. But dayyuumm, this was a good story.  After Reid’s doctor leaves for another commitment, he’s in a bit of a pickle and really needs to get healthy in time to fight the big fight. While trying to maintain a low profile, he goes to Northern Nevada Medical Center’s physical therapy department to find a physical therapist and here sits Lucy. Turns out that Lucy Miller, nee Maris, is his best friend’s little sister. To get Lucy as his own personal therapist for two months, Reid makes a bargain. He’ll teach her how to seduce the hospital’s McDreamy, aka Dr. Stephen Mann, if she’ll rehab his shoulder. 

What I enjoyed about this story was Lucy’s metamorphosis from moth to butterfly with Reid’s guidance. Initially she’s right on the brink of being annoyingly self-effacing at times but what saved it for me was that I could truly relate to Lucy’s issues with the way her life had turned out. When you’re not happy, nothing about your personality or looks would make you so because isn’t it your fault that you’re not happy anyway? Vicious cycle yes, but we all go through it. 

Oh what a hunk of man-meat that Reid is as he goes through the daily efforts of helping Lucy get her dream man; he offers fashion advice and shows Lucy what turns a man’s head and makes him interested. ***Don’t forget what keeps the ladies coming back for more Reid - keep not wearing a shirt and see where that leads ya***. But I digress; Reid is what I’d call a sensitive soul. Yes, he’s an MMA fighter, but because his job is to fight doesn’t mean that he’s a Neanderthal or without skills outside of his profession. Well done there,  Maxwell, for creating a well-rounded character. 

From the beginning I was on Lucy and Reid’s team because individually they were interesting, but together the chemistry really clicked. What made it even more enjoyable was watching them fall in love. And may I say - the sex was SMOKIN’ HOT. There’s a scene outside in the rain where Reid decides enough is enough and he takes Lucy against a wall (I can’t talk about it or I’m gonna have a moment, again). 

Lucy’s best friend Vanessa is an absolute hot mess and offered a wonderful comic relief to the storyline. I think she’s got a thing for Lucy’s brother Jackson but we’ll have to wait for the next story. There is a next story right? 

This book was a joy to read and I hope to see more from this new author. 

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Entangled Publishing


Click to purchase: Amazon
Seducing Cinderella
by Gail Maxwell
Release Date: July 20, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review: All Summer Long

Reviewed by Allison
 
Reading the latest Fool’s Gold tale is like coming home after being away at school for a few months. It’s comfy, cozy, you know all your neighbors & that you can get a strong cup of joe down the street at the local Starbucks. The ninth installment of Susan Mallery’s hit series is no different.

Clay Stryker, former underwear model and butt double, is looking to settle into Fool’s Gold now that his mom and two brothers have done the same. He’s traveled, modeled, got his degree, married his one true love, and is ready to get involved in a community as well as start a new business with his brothers (“Haycations” where a family comes & works on a farm to get away from modern life…can’t say I’d do it!) Between meetings with the City Council to gain support for his project, he starts the journey to become a volunteer firefighter in the community.

Enter Charlie Dixon. Charlie is one of Fool’s Gold’s female firefighters & one of the strongest (physically and emotionally) characters I’ve read in a while. I loved her spirit of growth, of wanting to be better for her future, for the opportunity at a real family. Charlie has the opposite problem Clay does. She grew up with a ballerina star for a mother, and she was never pretty enough, girly enough, or good enough. Then, to make her scars worse, when she was in college she was raped at a party and her mother blamed her. It made me irate. It made me wish I could scream and bitch slap that woman for even thinking that not being on your daughter’s side against anyone else was even an option. But I digress.

In order to get over her fears of intimacy, Charlie asks Clay for his help, which of course being a man, he agrees. Neither expect anything but friendship from the arrangement (of course!) but both come to trust each other in a way that he hasn’t had since his wife passed away, and she never experienced with anyone of the male persuasion. Watching them fall for each other was truly enjoyable and you end up wanting nothing but good things for them.

While I couldn’t feel too bad for Clay & his greek godness, it was an interesting change of perspective – being too pretty to be taken seriously as a professional. It’s hard to get past a nice ass! But I loved watching him prove himself to Fool’s Gold as a valuable member of society and how Charlie stood up for him constantly, even when she didn’t understand what that meant.

Mallery has proven once again that she deserves her spot on NYT Bestsellers list & I can’t wait to see who will be falling in love in Fool’s Gold next!

Rating: A

*ARC Provided by HQN via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
All Summer Long
by Susan Mallery
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: HQN

Labels: , , ,

Chat with Amanda Carlson

You may have already heard the buzz about Full Blooded, a new werewolf Urban Fantasy by Amanda Carlson.  Well, Amanda is here to answer some of my burning questions about her book and the series. Please help me welcome her to the blog.

Jen: Talk to me about what it's like for you as a debut author as you wait for your first book to hit the shelves.

Amanda: The anticipation is killing me and at the same time it’s also the best feeling in the world. To know something I created will be in the hands of readers is mind-boggling. I’m so excited and nervous and happy and full of crazy energy. LOL, it’s a jumble of emotion, something I’ve worked toward for over twelve years.

Jen: I really enjoyed Full Blooded and the early response I have seen has been overwhelmingly positive. Have you/ will you read reviews?

Amanda: I’ve read early reviews, but I will stop very, very soon. I don’t think my psyche can take it and I don’t want to become disenchanted. As authors we know we won’t connect with everyone on the same level. We’re all working our hardest to make our books the best they can be, but tastes run different. I totally understand that. If we all had a crush on the same boy, or only liked spaghetti without meatballs the world would be a boring place. I write what I love and hope readers love it too. After that, it’s up for grabs.

Jen: I love Jessica. It's amazing how well she adapts to all she goes through with pragmatism, loyalty and smarts. How did she escape an environment as hostile as the pack without becoming seriously emotionally or socially damaged?

Amanda: At an early age Jessica had to make a decision, she either had to fight or become a victim. She chose to fight. But, honestly, the love and close family connections she has are at the root of all her survival instincts. I wanted a heroine who didn’t have it easy, but one that had a strong family unit. I’m not writing a tortured heroine. I’m writing a fighter who knows how to love. In my eyes, that makes her enjoyable. I love writing Jessica & I hope everyone loves her voice.

Jen: There are so many great secondary characters in Jessica's inner circle. Will we get more backstory or significant page time with James, Ty, Danny or Nick? Do you have any plans to do any spinoffs down the road with a different POV?

Amanda: Yes, there will be more page time with the boys! There are no plans at this very moment for spinoffs, but yes, it’s something I would love to do in the future.

Jen: I know Jessica's dad loves her, but do you foresee a time when her growing power interferes with their relationship?

Amanda: They will have growing pains, no doubt, but in the end he loves his daughter too much to let it get the best of him. She gets her common sense from her dad. He’s her rock. They will work it out.

Jen: OK. Rourke. (**swoon**) Talk to me. Tell me a secret about him.

Amanda: For you, Jen: He can last and last. And he’s loyal. Very, very loyal.

Jen: (Amanda knows what I like to hear. LOL.)  How many books are you contracted for in the series? Are they all planned out in your head? If they do well, would you like to continue with the series beyond that?

Amanda: I’m currently contracted for three, with an option for more. All three, and more, are roughly plotted in my head (at least I know how they end!). Yes, I’d love to write other things as well. In fact, I have a few sekrit projects in the works. Finding the time to work on them is the most challenging! Life is crazy at the moment, but I’m hoping it will even out soon. I’m looking forward to a workable routine in the future.

Jen: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I know Full Blooded will be a great success!

Amanda: Thanks so much for having me, Jen!! It was fun to stop by, and so great to meet you at AAD. I look forward to chatting again with you and your readers when HOT BLOODED hits shelves this spring. 

I must find out what happens in that book! Thanks again to Amanda for being here today! If you have any questions or comments for her, leave them below!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: The Way to a Duke's Heart

Reviewed by Jen
 
Caroline Linden has never let me down.  She has great love stories that never make me angry. I never hate her heroes. I'm never tempted to toss the nook against the wall.  Somehow she manages to create couples whose obstacles are not self-imposed.  The characters are all generally likable and the romance, easy to root for. And this third book in the Truth About the Duke series may be my favorite of the bunch.

When we first met the hero, Charlie, back in One Night in London, he was difficult to like. He was a playboy of the highest order, leaving the family responsibilities to his brothers. But as we get to know him here, we learn there are reasons for the way he is.  He made a break with his father after the man sabotaged his betrothal. He lost the woman he loved and he never forgave his father for it.

The overall arc of the series has been focused on the three de Lacey brothers as they try to prove their legitimacy and unmask the man who was blackmailing their father in the days before his death.  Now that his younger brothers are wrapped up with their new wives, the duty falls to Charlie.  All he has to go on is an old ledger kept by the man who married his father to his first wife... and a possible name for the blackmailer: Hiram Scott.  When Charlie hears Scott's name linked to an impertinent widow staying at his hotel, he grabs on to the lead with both hands.

Tessa is woman completely uninterested in gossip or climbing social station. She is utterly oblivious to the so-called Durham Dilemma surrounding Charlie's family. She is in Bath to guide her brother in an investment opportunity with Mr Scott --an unusual task for a woman, but she is no ordinary woman. She is plain-spoken and independent.  And a failed engagement has left her with no desire to find a husband.  But once Charlie begins to cozy up to her and her companion, it's hard to remember why she has cut herself off from the opposite sex.

It was interesting to see how the whole blackmailing storyline finally came together. It was unpredictable and satisfying.  But where the story really shined was in the romance.  It was sweet, but still managed to pull off the sexy times.  Charlie is a rake, but a good man.  I think one of the reasons I ended up liking him so much was because he could see what a treasure Tessa really was.  He treated her well. He was honest with her.  And she was never coy. She didn't scheme. She said what was on her mind. They were each exactly what the other needed.

You don't have to read the earlier installments to enjoy this book, but I think it's even better after the events of the first two books.  It's not overly angsty or tumultuous, but it's a pleasant read and a solid romance.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Avon


Click to purchase: Amazon
The Way to a Duke's Heart
by Caroline Linden
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Avon




Labels: , , ,

Guest Post & Giveaway: Claire Ashgrove


After inheriting a portion of Spain’s Royal Inheritance, Cain left The Flying Gang for a chance at honest wealth. With the secrets of his piracy tucked away, he achieved his lofty aspirations. But when his partner and best friend betrays him to the Royal Navy, Cain’s dreams are ripped to shreds. He’s left with his ship, the tattered remnants of a stolen future, and a piece of Spanish mystery. Wanted by three nations and destined for the gallows, he returns to the legendary band of buccaneers for one purpose -- vengeance.

 Kidnapped by the formidable Cain, India Prescott discovers he intends to kill the man she’s to marry. Cain’s story reveals betrayal. Treachery that extends to her as well. Although she holds the key to retribution, India refuses to become another man’s pawn. Freedom lies before her, the liberty to shrug off propriety, make her own decisions, and claim her destiny. But when she uncovers goodness in Cain’s soul and he awakens passion in her heart, she must combat the chains of convention once more.

 Only this time India's not fighting society. She’s battling a pirate bent on keeping her decency intact.



Morning, all! Thank you for hosting me today. I’m delighted to be able to share a little more about Bound by Decency with you!

I’m frequently asked what sort of research goes into any given book. With a historical, it’s all the more important to incorporate fact. And I thought I’d give you a peek at what was involved with putting Bound by Decency together.

Ships

Understand that I knew very little about ships and sailing when I went into this project. And this is by far, where I spent the most research time. I read a few articles that were preserved from the era about sailing and sailor’s life. But I also dug, and dug, and dug for the parts and pieces of a ship. I compared different types of sailing vessels… I spent HOURS looking for the name of one particular part that connects the rudder to the helm. Did I use that part? Nope. But I needed it to understand how steering worked. I plastered a diagram written in the 1700s on the wall after having it blown up by Kinkos, and another on my printer. And bit by bit, I was able to understand how ships functioned and what life aboard was like.

Pirates

I think most of us understand the basics of pirates. But I needed more than what movies, fiction books, and online research could grant. I wanted to know what these people ate day-to-day. In detail. I wanted to know what they drank, beyond rum. I wanted to know how they handled injuries and illnesses. And by gosh, I wanted to know what kept them all from randomly killing each other. So this time I went to Borders (still open then), and lugged home an armload of historical books. Learn it I did, as you’ve noticed if you followed this tour and read the pirate menu earlier in the month. I even tried Absinthe this last year, just to experience it first hand. An experience I don’t recommend. But hey, it warranted me much praise from the frat boys at the bar to see a woman trying the stuff. I started a trend that night. Laugh!

Nassau

Coming into the project, I knew bunches about Tortuga. But that wasn’t where I wanted to base my operations. And so it was time to hit the history books… and the period maps… for Nassau and New Providence. This was fun research, let me tell you! It’s simply a colorful, amazing experience. And while I am teased profusely for my ability to correctly pronounce Bimini, I can describe the islands now by heart. I also had great fun with the native wildlife. That incorporated a good day or two.

Spain

In general, Spanish history has never quite interested me. So it was a surprise that the “necessary components” led me to researching Spain’s rulers and heirs to the throne. But my treasure needed to come from somewhere, and the link between France and Spain’s monarchies provided the perfect tie. All that led to a very unentertaining study of descendants, offspring, and convoluted lineages that I wrote down for purposes of easy reference, and quickly brain-dumped. Still this took a good week of research.

And there you have it, folks – the core components of what I had to dig into to put this all together. All told, I spent about a month of solid research, 8-5 daily, if not longer, taking notes, watching documentaries, scanning written accounts that were difficult to read. With the exception of Spain, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But then… I love research… and that’s why I love historical romance.

Now, it’s your turn.  

What draws you to historical romance?

Claire will be giving away a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card to one random commenter during the tour.  Follow the tour – the more times you comment, the better your chances of winning!  Make sure you include your email address. Complete schedule can be found here. In the meantime, you can check out this excerpt of Bound by Decency:

     For a moment, he could do nothing more than stare. Richard had said his intended was lovely, but somehow, Cain had never pictured her as a beauty. Yet now, as she stood before him, her chest heaving with indignation and her hair a sopping mess, he realized Richard had once again played him false. India Prescott wasn’t merely lovely. She was breathtaking. 
     “What in the name of Mary do you think you’re doing?” she snapped. “My father will see you hang for this.” 
     Her sharp tongue yanked Cain out of his stupor. He collected himself quickly, and for the first time since his arrest, gave into a broad grin. “Indeed, he will have to get in line.” 
     India’s eyes widened a fraction, but anger drew delicate brows downward, and those sky-blue eyes narrowed. “I see no amusement in this. Do you have any idea who I am?” 
     As a rumble of laughter broke through the men within earshot, Cain’s humor subsided. His smile faded, and he reached out to twine a thick lock of her hair around his finger. Turning his wrist, he wrapped the silken length around his hand, slowly bringing her closer. So close that the wet fabric straining across her breasts dampened his shirt. The heat of her skin grazed his. “I know well who you are, Miss Prescott.” He ran the back of his free hand across her dainty collar bone, over the slope of her shoulder, then lifted it to draw his thumb across her parted lips. The audible catch of her breath ricocheted through him. So she was not unaffected by him. Good. He could use it to his advantage. 
     His gaze held hers. A flicker of fear passed behind her eyes, but to her credit, she didn’t shrink away. She stood straight and proud, even as she shivered in the stirring breeze. Courage Cain didn’t often encounter from the gentle born. God’s teeth, men far stronger and larger than she didn’t hesitate to grovel at his feet. Yet she, no bigger than a lark, defied him with stubborn silence. 
     Unacceptable. 
     To drive her subservient position as his captive home, he tightened his hold on her hair until she winced. Leaning forward, he lowered his mouth to her ear. “You are the daughter of a powerful man and presently my prisoner, to do with as I will.” Stepping back, he untwined his hand and smirked. 
     India’s palm cracked across his cheek. “Rot in hell!”

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: Chosen

Reviewed by Jen
 
The Dark Breeds series has changed a lot over the course of three books.  Or maybe it's just that the main character has utterly transformed --from a maligned mixed breed to a goddess of the Greek pantheon. 

This third installment begins with Kyana ensconced in Olympus as the new goddess of the hunt.  She is happy with Ryker and learning more about her new abilities.  Her best friend Haven is recovering from her possession by Cronus. And all seems well until Haven begins having prophetic dreams about Cronus coming back to punish his enemies and regain his power.  It turns out that Cronus is resurrecting the dead to become his minions and it's a race to see if Kyana and the other gods can stop him before he achieves his goals.

Honestly, I think I preferred the Kyana of old. She was so damaged and gritty and angry.  The first half of this book, I just wasn't feeling the pull.  I remember thinking to myself as I read that it just wasn't dark anymore. Then, I swear to you, about two pages later, horrors unfold for Kyana that I never dreamed of. Things picked up at that point.  The action was fast and the team takes at least one brutal emotional hit. And yet I just didn't love this one.  I was, indeed, shocked by the gruesome attack on Kyana and suitably saddened by the Really Bad Thing that happened, but overall, I was kind of meh on the book.

The ending felt like a series finale, but there are threads left hanging. Like how did Cronus escape the island?  (This is pretty significant, as it's kind of the whole starting point for the book.)  Why was Henry with the bad souls? (He seemed like a good man.) And while I'm talking about Henry, I felt like there should have been more in that reunion. There could have been more emotional resonance there --and with the Bad Thing that happened.  I felt like the Haven resolution was abrupt. Poor Silas was just left hanging. I felt like there was untapped potential across the board.  And except in a couple of powerful moments, it all felt kind of superficial.

Eh. I wanted to like it more than I did.  I just don't feel like the series ended with the same feel in which it began.  Even the romance lacked oomph, despite the fact that it finds a HEA. It's a shame, because I liked the first two books.

Rating: C 

*ARC Provided by Avon


Click to purchase: Amazon
Chosen
by Sable Grace
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Guest Post & Giveaway: Immortally Yours

IN THE WAR BETWEEN THE GODS… 

No one patches up the incoming wounded like Dr. Petra Robichaud. Recruited by the gods for her uncanny medical skills, she’s the best M*A*S*H surgeon in the army. Along with a nosy guard sphinx,vegetarian werewolf, and otherparanormal paramedics, she bandages soldiers who are built like Greek gods (literally). But when one sexy immortal ends up on her operating table—half dead and totally to-die-for—Petra’s afraid she’ll lose her patient and her heart…
NOTHING IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN LOVE

Commander Galen of Delphi is one gorgeous but stubborn demi-god. When his spirit tries to slip out of his fatally wounded body, Dr. Petra has to slip it back in—unwittingly revealing her ability to see ghosts. Now that Galen knows her secret, he’s convinced she’s part of an ancient prophecy. If the oracles are right, Petra could lead Galen’s army to peace. And if he seduces her on the way to hell and back? Heaven knows—all’s fair in love and war…

Immortally Yours
by Angie Fox

Headline: Mayan Insider Scoop! Developed Armageddon “Prophecy” After Tequila Bender

Article: Not really. Well, maybe. It’s as good of a theory as anything I’ve heard. And it’s all part of this special project I’m doing that has gotten slightly out of hand.

You see, Immortally Yours just came out today, and it takes place in and around a paranormal MASH unit during a great supernatural war.

While the book mainly focuses around the hero, who is a tough-as-nails special ops soldier, and the heroine, who is a combat surgeon, I also needed to include a world beyond the quirky MASH camp.

Besides, the characters need to get their news, right? So PNN is the supernatural version of CNN, with a few exceptions. Sure, PNN can be a little sensationalistic, with articles like: “Werewolf Streaker Says He’s Got it All Covered” and “Five Things in Your Lair That Can Kill You.” But I figured it’s a good way to offer up good information as well.

In fact, I’ve created an entire website for PNN at www.PNN-Network.com. It’s a fun way for readers to experience first-hand kind of world I've created, and it could also help you win a signed copy of Immortally Yours from Red Hot Books.

To enter, just check out www.PNN-Network.com, then post the title of your favorite article below.

This contest is closed. The winner is Joanne.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Review: Coveted

Reviewed by Allison
 
Natalya Stravinsky is a lone wolf. She has always been a bit OCD, but when the love of her life, Thorn, leaves her, she’s thrown into a depression that makes functioning difficult to deal with. Her escape is through the only thing she feels like she can control; her environment & her Christmas ornaments. Her disease makes her appear weak to the rest of her pack & they end up shunning her. Her family members are the only ones who moderately tolerate her. However, when a neighboring pack sets their sights on her New Jersey territory, they go for the weakest link first – Natalya. Fighting for not only her life, but her sanity, Natalya has to either grow up or give up.

I liked the bits of Russian culture the author used to add authenticity, especially how she called her grandma “babushka” – so cute! However, I felt like it was more about her OCD then the actual danger the invading pack posed. As interesting as it was to see life from that point of view, I ended up feeling insensitive because I just wanted her to GET OVER IT & fight the SOBs who threatened her family.

I did feel like she was stronger at the end and had grown some, not only with her OCD, but as a person which was nice to see. I really enjoyed the assortment of characters from her therapy group, especially the yummy wizard, Nick! They both make strides together in conquering their obsessions. I’d like to see where they end up if she can finally get over the ever-present-but-never-touching Thorn.

Towards the end it felt a little too stream of consciousness for me, but the story was interesting enough that I’ll probably read the next one.

Rating: C

Click to purchase: Amazon
Coveted
by Shawntelle Madison
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Ballantine

Labels: , , ,

Review: Sins of a Virgin

Reviewed by Jen
 
Madeline has spent the past 10 years of her life as part of a trio of spies. Plucked from the gallows, she was trained in stealth and seduction. She did her job well, but when her usefulness came to an end, she was pensioned off with a sum she would never be able to live off of. Her only resources are her beauty and her ability to read people. She puts both to work, with an outlandish plan to raise funds.

After six months of setting herself up as an unattainable courtesan, she puts her virginity up for auction.

Gabriel is a Bow Street Runner who has devoted the last seven years of his life to finding his twin sister's killer. Now, he has been assigned to work for Madeline. She needs him to investigate the men who are bidding in her auction. While he is tempted to turn her down at first, he comes to realize that he can use the job to investigate some of the same men he considers suspects in his twin's murder.

Though he sees how lovely she is, Gabriel has no intention of falling for his new employer. He watches with a mixture of awe and disgust as she beguiles suitor after suitor with practiced ease. But then, in unguarded moments, he catches glimpses of the real woman behind the mask and he can't help but want her.

Madeline wants Gabriel too, but she can't take her eye off the prize. She won't grow old in poverty. Things become even more complicated as someone begins making attempts on her life. Surely it is someone who knows her from her past. Each brush with death pushes her closer and closer into Gabriel's arms, but can they really have any kind of future together?

I liked Madeline. She is tough and smart and practical. Mercenary, even. I liked Gabriel too, for the most part. He's a good man, though a little judgemental. He has honor. I just didn't love the progression of their relationship. For one, it took more than half the book before they even kissed. It was so drawn out just for them to make their first tentative step. Beyond that, their circumstances made it difficult for me to feel warm and fuzzy. Madeline is, after all, lining up a liason with another man for the whole book. And Gabriel's opinion of her is often less than flattering.

Not to mention, I figured out the villain less than halfway through the book.

Things did pick up once Madeline finally shows Gabriel who she really is. But it takes so long to get to that point. --I didn't dislike it, but it didn't do much for me either.

Rating: C

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Sins of a Virgin
by Anna Randol
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 25, 2012

DNF: Sweet Talk

Reviewed by Allison
 
Olivia MacKenzie is an IRS agent with an agenda – to prove her father’s a crook who steals people’s investments & ruins people’s lives. When she inadvertently gets caught up in an FBI investigation while doing research on who else might be involved in his schemes, she meets Grayson Kincaid, sexy FBI agent. The two have instant attraction & even though they end up entangled in a case together, eventually they become entangled in bed. But, Olivia has quite the list of enemies that she is constantly fighting against, so the question is will she live long enough to see where it goes?

Unfortunately, as much as I love the cover, I could not finish this book. I made it about halfway through.

I normally LOVE romantic suspense, so I was really excited to try this book not only because I was in the mood for some action but to try a new prolific author such as Ms. Garwood. However, I found the dialogue stale, the story was boring, the timeline was too staggered & while I could see myself learning to like the characters, they, too, fell flat.

I’ve heard good things about Garwood’s historical romances, so I may try one of those but it’s not high on my to-read list.

Rating: DNF

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Sweet Talk
by Julie Garwood
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Penguin


Labels: , , ,

Review: Enslave

Reviewed by Jen
 
Andreu has no desire settle down and fall in love. He wants to revel in the vampire lifestyle, enjoying blood and sex on his own terms.  In fact, he plans on opening his own vampire-erotic club --one like his brother's Vampirerotique-- where he expects money and success to roll in at his feet.

Varya doesn't even think she is capable of a relationship. After all, she is a succubus and love isn't in their vocabulary. She sneaks in Vampirerotique, hoping only to be titillated by the sexy stage show. But instead, she spots Andreu in the theater and is instantly enthralled.  She must know what it's like to kiss him, though she knows better than to consort with a vampire.  Andreu is just as captivated by her and when they finally come together, neither wants it to end.

Somehow, though, Andreu is able to find the control to pull away. From then on out, the two are constantly fighting the pull to succumb to their desires.

This book is hot. Really hot.  From the sexual interactions between Andreu and Varya to the onstage performances, Felicity Heaton pulls no punches and burns up the pages.   The chemistry between Andreu and Varya is fantastic, but their fast-track to love is a bit too... well, fast.  Both characters are likable. And Andreu is just the right amount of snarly alpha without going too far. He straddles the line once or twice, but he has self-control and ultimately puts Varya first.

I found myself very intrigued by some of the secondary characters, like Payne and (especially) Snow. As a new reader, it was very obvious I was jumping into an established series because previously featured couples do appear. And I will admit, I was a little overwhelmed trying to take in all of the characters through Varya's eyes at the beginning of story. Then the sexual element took over and I was sucked in.  I did mention the really hot sexy times, right?

Overall, I enjoyed it. A fast, easy, sexy read.

Rating: B-

*ARC provided by author for review  


Click to purchase: Amazon
Enslave
by Felicity Heaton
Release Date: August 4, 2012

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Forbidden

Reviewed by Jen
 
Mallory is an honest, honorable and loyal ladies maid with a dream of one day opening her own confectioner's shop.  She has no idea she is the long-lost heiress to the Templemore title.  She was kidnapped as a child on the night her mother was murdered and her grandfather has been looking for her ever since.

If Mallory were never found, Henry would have inherited the estate. He is tasked to track her down and figure out if she truly is the missing Lady Marguerite. He ensconces himself into her life to better judge her character. Henry is taken with Mallory right away... and she can't believe this wealthy gentleman would want anything to do with her.  A walk together, a dance, and a few feverish kisses later, she finds out the truth of who Henry is and why he is there.  She feels angry and betrayed and vows never to be so foolish again.

Of course, it's not so easy to get away from Henry. He is her grandfather's godson and he goes with her meet the old man and become part of the family.  It's a difficult transition from maid to heiress, and although she has tender feelings for her grandfather, it's really Henry who makes her feel alive in her new surroundings.  The anger she has for him makes their interactions even more incendiary. There is passion between them... flirtation and banter... and fear.

Henry is determined never to fall in love again. A horrible first marriage cured him of any romantic illusions about matrimony. The thing is, Mallory refuses to marry without love.  So as she begins to fall for him, he isn't able to give her what she really needs for a future.

I liked Henry.  He's almost too good to be true in that he is willing to give up the inheritance he would have gotten to do the right thing by Mallory. This, even before he knew her.  He's got some emotional baggage, but it doesn't make him cruel, just... closed off at times.  Mallory is sweet and genuine and--it turns out-- quite passionate.  The sexual tension and the love scene between her and Henry were very, very good.

I didn't love that they were pushed into a relationship decision by external circumstances late in the book.  I also think I would have liked more loose ends tied up with Mallory's father. But overall, I enjoyed the story. There's a small mystery/danger side arc that managed to surprise me before all was said and done. And I liked the romance.

This is book six in the Scandalous Women of the Ton series.  Mallory has been a recurring character in previous books, but this can be read easily as a standalone.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Forbidden
by Nicola Cornick
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Publisher: HQN

Labels: , , ,

5 for Friday - August 24

Congratulations on making it through another week!  I've now come down from my AAD high and am already anxiously awaiting RT in May. (Yes, I am a planner.)  As if I wasn't already excited enough about Kansas City, now I hear RT2014 will be in NOLA!  I can't wait.  I still have some AAD books to give away, so make sure to check out the contest at the end of the post.

5. I really enjoyed Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld spinoff, Wicked Nights.



This week, she released the blurb for book two in the Angels of the Dark series: Beauty Awakened.

His name is Koldo. He is scarred, powerful, his control legendary-and he lives only for vengeance, determined to punish the angel who viciously removed his wings. But if he yields to the forces of hatred, he will be kicked from the heavens, eternally damned.

She is his last hope. Nicola Lane was born with a defective heart, yet this fragile human shows surprising strength as demons stalk her every move, determined to end her. She is the key to Koldo's deliverance...and his downfall. Though he fights duty, destiny and his first addictive taste of desire, his toughest battle will be the one for Nicola's life-even if he has to sacrifice his own...

No sign of a cover yet. Beauty Awakened is scheduled for release February 26th.

In other Showalter news, Gena announced the title of her next Lords book, The Darkest Craving. Kane's book will be out next July or August.

4.  Kim Harrison has revealed the cover for the next Hollows book, Ever After.

The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It's up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing... for the worse.

While saving the world is important, it isn't Rachel's only motivation. There's also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It's also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He's already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn't give herself up soon, they'll die.

But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frighening skillls of her own, and she isn't going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She's also got a surpise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she's going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones... and prevent an apocalypse before it's too late. Or, at least that's the plan..

I didn't love the last book like I loved Pale Demon, but I have high hopes for Ever After. It releases January 22. If you can't wait until January for your Rachel-fix, Harrison is releasing a compilation of Hollows short stories, including a new one about Trent & Jenks kidnapping the baby! Into the Woods is out October 12.

3. Just a little tidbit for fans of the Charley Davidson books.  Darynda Jones has announced a change in the title for book five. It was originally supposed to be Fifth Grave Off the Beaten Path, but it's now Fifth Grave Past the Light. I like the new one! Fifth Grave isn't out until next May, but book 4, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet releases in October.



(I can't wait to see where that series goes next. I am so mad at Charley's dad!!)

2. As sad as I was to see Kelley Armstrong end her Otherworld series with Thirteen, there is now reason to celebrate!!  Armstrong announced Thursday that Space, a Canadian sci-fi channel, has ordered 13 episodes of a tv show based on Bitten!!


Can we get this channel in America? I must watch this show. Who could possibly be hot enough to be cast as Clay?

1. And finally, the premiere for the new season of Sons of Anarchy is just two weeks away.  This is one of my favorite shows, people!  In honor of Jax and the boys, help yourself to these new trailers.

 



The season premiere is September 11th on FX.

Oh yeah... I promised you a giveaway! Fill out the Rafflecopter form to win a copy of both books in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series by Phillipa Ballantine and Tee Morris. That's Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair. Contest is open to entries in the US & CAN.


Read more »

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Blade Song

Reviewed by Jen
 
OK, Urban Fantasy fans, listen up. I have a premise for you. It involves a woman with a magical sword. She is part human, but has supernatural blood in her veins.  Though she is not as strong as some of the paranormal beings around her, she is more than she appears. She is often underestimated. She's a bit cut off, emotionally. Her childhood was miserable, filled with training and bloodshed.  She's sort of a gun for hire now... well, a sword for hire.  And her life begins to change with the arrival of a sexy, powerful cat shifter who can't resist her strength and her spirit.

Sound familiar?  No, I'm not talking about Kate Daniels, though it's hard not to see the parallels there.  Our heroine's name is Kit Colbana. She is half human, half-aneira --which is sort of an Amazon race.  Her father was never in her life and her mother died when she was young, leaving her in the clutches of an evil grandmother who tortured her for years.  She ran away as a teenager and has started a new life for herself.

The agency she owns isn't doing well. Between that and a vampire who won't stop stalking her, Kit is just about ready to pull up stakes again when Damon (see "sexy, powerful cat shifter" above) walks into her office with a job. The nephew of his Alpha is missing and the pack wants Kit to solve the case.  Despite Damon's cocky and obnoxious behavior and despite the cats' reputation as crazy, she takes the case to save the boy.  She has no idea at the time that her life will depend on her success.

The Cat Alpha is as mad as a hatter and when she meets Kit, she lets her know in no uncertain terms what failure will mean. Damon is assigned as her bodyguard as she investigates the case.  And, of course, he ends up being much, much more.

I liked this story very much.  Even though it seems familiar in some places, it didn't really feel like a Kate rehash.  Kit is damaged in a way Kate isn't. She perseveres through grim determination.  She gets beaten down, but her survival is her victory.  I really enjoyed watching the evolution of her relationship with Damon.  He is such an ass at the beginning, but I could see him changing with her. She earns his respect and affection by simply being who she is and by never giving up. And when we learn more about his backstory, so much of his behavior makes sense.

The world-building is solid here and the characters are fleshed out. I admire Kit and her fortitude --and I commiserate with her inability to keep her mouth shut. Damon is sexy and deliciously Alpha --though he pushed me close to my limits at the beginning.  My only small complaint was the speed in which they make a key decision in their relationship. It happened awfully fast for something so monumental, but at least they weren't tossing around "I Love You's" quite yet.

The action was intense. And while the motivation for the kidnappers didn't exactly tread new ground, there were enough surprises to keep me engaged. The villain reveal was pretty cool. And the writing was fast paced and very engaging. I will definitely read the sequel. Very good.

Rating: B+


Click to purchase: Amazon
Blade Song
by JC Daniels (Shiloh Walker)
Release Date: August 1, 2012

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: Take It Like a Vamp

Reviewed by Shelly
 
Shy and reserved Casey Meyers has had a crush on her neighbor Nick Christos since she moved into his building. Nick, a vampire, has also been crushing on his human neighbor Casey since she moved into her Aunt Teddie’s condo nine months prior. Once these two get together, interesting things start to happen and quite a few secrets are revealed. Casey hasn’t had much luck with men, unless you consider bad luck. She always been a bit of a loner and these bad relationships haven’t helped her self-esteem one bit. First, let me say this – ANY story that begins with a woman removing her Spanx after a crappy date – I’m automatically giving extra points for that!

Okay, now on to the good stuff. What really worked for me was that this is a well-told story, considering the relationship itself was condensed. There was good character development, conflict, dialogue and all yummy things that made me turn the page. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments when I thought the angst was a bit overdone but those happened in the beginning of Casey and Nick’s relationship; as far as I know that’s common in most if not all couple’s relationships.

I enjoyed Casey. She was likable and someone I could really relate to. Yes, she had some issues but they weren’t over-the-top and Nick was no better. Although he was an 800-year-old werewolf/vampire, he had quite a bit of baggage in the name of Alvinia, the dreaded ex. This chick was the epitome of bad and I really wish she had more scenes in the book. There are some things that Nick does that don’t support what we would consider the normal vampire, but to me there were plausible and you’ve got to consider that (1) this is fiction and (2) it’s not my story to tell.

There were a lot of other secondary and fun characters: Mason – Nick’s human assistant, Aunt Teddie – Casey’s aunt who used to be her uncle, Linc – Nick’s (werewolf) best friend who’s also a clothing designer and Bennett, Casey’s human assistant and best friend. I’m hoping for a follow up with Linc and Bennett because I felt a little tension that could make an interesting read.

The sex scenes between Casey and Nick weren’t explicit, but they were good nonetheless.

Overall, this was a good book. I really cared about Casey and Nick and definitely wanted them to have their happy ever after. And just in case you’re wondering, Candace, Linc and Bennett told me that they’d like their own story.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Entangled Publishing

Click to purchase: Amazon
Take It Like a Vamp
by Candace Havens
Release Date: July 21, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Labels: , , ,