Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: The Warrior

Reviewed by Jen

Ever since I read The Guardian, I have been waiting for poor Duncan's story. The man has been utterly miserable since he was separated from his true love seven years ago. She is married to another --far from his reach-- and no other woman will do.  I am happy to say that our wounded warrior is finally being reunited with his lost love and not a moment too soon.

Contrary to what Duncan has long believed, Moira is not living a happy life.  She has no idea that her father forced Duncan to leave her all those years ago. She thought her beloved abandoned her.  And then she realized she was pregnant --and she had to marry the man her father forced on her.  That man, Sean, was an abusive beast.  Thankfully, he never realized that her child was not his, but he made Moira's life miserable all the same.  And he sent little Ragnall to foster with Moira's clan's enemy.

When a seer alerts Duncan that Moira is in danger, he quickly journeys to her husband's keep.  One look at Duncan and Sean realizes Moira's deception. He beats her nearly to death, but she manages to best him and Duncan spirits her away to safety.  The rest of the story follows the resurgence of their relationship and the efforts to rescue Ragnall.

Neither Duncan nor Moira has ever stopped loving the, but each feels like they were abandoned. Moira thinks Duncan left her and Duncan thinks he was easily replaced when she married two weeks after he was sent away.  They're both right and they're both wrong. And even though they are reunited fairly quickly, the angst and hurt feelings persist throughout the book.  There are a lot of misunderstandings and bad information between these two, which was frustrating at times, because they are so obviously in love and they have been through so much.

I had to remind myself more than once how much Moira has endured, because otherwise her behavior with Duncan would have alienated me.  He is such a good guy, it's impossible to not be in his corner.  She castigates him for not giving her enough credit, but when I see her trying to punish him for the past --or lashing out at him-- it's hard to sympathize.

Overall, I liked it.  I don't know that I ended up loving it quite as much as I thought I would, but I am still glad I read it.  Now, onto Connor's story.  He has to end up with Ilysa, right?

Rating: B

*ARC provided by Forever

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Warrior
by Margaret Mallory
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Forever (GCP)

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Favorites From... Carolyn Crane


Carolyn Crane

Hey Jen!!

Thanks so much for having me over to your recommending event! And how fun to do this.

Okay, a little background: I didn’t grow up reading romance, a fact I see as totally pathetic and sad. Oh, how my teen years would’ve been improved by some good romances.

But, oh well, I’m one of those people who came to romance later in life, entering through the door of urban fantasy and fantasy, which led me to paranormal romance, and then my ultimate love historical romance, which is what I read for pleasure, but would never be able to write in a million years.

Anyway, since my historical romance reading life started in 2008, I missed out on the great 1990’s Fabio era of books, these books people swoon over when you say their name on Twitter. But little by little I’ve been digging back and trying them out. Some of the oldies leave me thinking wtf!! (The Windflower, for example.)

Others have left me breathless. Panting for more. Amazed out of my head!

One of these amazing books is Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale. Is the greatness of this book old news to everyone here? Is posting about this like announcing George W. Bush won an election? Are there other people like me who haven’t read it? Because it was just startling to me.

First published in 1992, the tale begins when the brilliant, dashing, rakish math genius, the scandalous Duke of Jervaulx, captures the eye (and pious disapproval because he’s a yummalicious rake) of sheltered Maddy, a Quaker goody two-shoes who assists her mathematician father.

Nothing comes of the brief interaction, but then Jervaulx is struck by an illness that leaves him unable to speak. People think he’s crazy and throw him into a horrible asylum. His mother thinks he’s being punished for his wicked ways.

The Duke of Jervaulx is alone in the world.

Maddy, who so looked down on him, is the only one who realizes he's not the monster everyone thinks he is. She alone understands him, she alone can rescue the super-hot and damaged duke from the clutches of evil people. OMG, if you haven't read this book, don't even listen to my sucky description. It is so exciting and good.

Honestly, when I was reading this, I would often exclaim to my husband, OMG, I can’t believe how amazing this book is!!

He, of course, gave me massive crap for the Fabio-esque cover - yes, this is the edition I found at my trusty USB. Well, it was worth it. I can't remember the last time I was so heart-racingly compelled by a plot and a hero and heroine.

So that is my recommend. A blast from the past. I hope, if you pick it up, that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thanks so much to Caroline Crane for sharing her flashback recommendation! I asked Caroline to be a part of this feature because I loved her Disillusionist trilogy. They are original and engaging and they shocked me with great plot twists. The story follows a hypochondriac heroine who ends up using her illness as a weapon. Plus, a great love triangle develops.  If you haven't read these books, I strongly suggest you give Mind Games a try. I'll bet you can't stop there.

So, do you want a blast from the past?   I'm giving away an ecopy of Flowers from the Storm via Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  If you can receive an ebook from them, you are eligible to win. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet

Reviewed by Jen
 
I really do love the Charley Davidson series.  These books are funny and action packed. They're sexy with great characters.  And the world-building just gets more and more interesting with every book.

I'll admit, I had a little trouble reconnecting at the start of this book. Third Grave ended with a major betrayal by Charley's father and while there were emotional repercussions, I felt like we skipped over something. A couple of weeks have passed and there seemed to be no real consequences for Charley getting arrested. It was like her dad's actions were for nothing.

Also, there was a schism between Charley and Reyes that didn't really make sense to me.  It's so clear how they feel about each other, so why the distance? It felt forced.

BUT it got better.  As with all Charley Davidson books, there are two layers to the book. One is the PI case that Charley needs to solve. The other deals with the larger story arc of Reyes and the demons who want to get their hands on Charley and her heavenly portal.  (tee hee) Both threads are well done.

The case in this book involves a woman who has been stalked and harassed her entire life. She hires Charley to find out who is doing it.  (There is cool twist on this at the end!)

The "bigger picture" part of the story is even better.  We get a closer look at the demons that are coming after Charley. And we learn more about the higher powers that schemed to throw Charley and Reyes into each other's path. Lord have mercy, we also get more exquisitely terrible/ wonderful sexual tension between these two.  For the first time, all of their interactions are in the flesh. No more incorporeal interactions.  It gives things a fresh (hot) layer in their relationship.  I wish there was just a little less angst there.  Even when there's progress, there is also regression.  But Reyes is so hot, I want to spread him on a cracker and eat him whole.

Where was I?

Charley is changing, both emotionally and physically. I feel like her trademark humor is becoming more of a crutch to deal with the horror she's lived through. And her powers are growing.  The people around her are changing too. These books have such a great cast of characters and I love that they are not stagnant.  I also love that everything seems to happen for a reason.  Even if it's not evident right away.

There are many questions answered and just as many new ones posed. (Like that whole spiel about the key of darkness and the locket of light.  Darynda needs to explain that one, stat.)   I was really satisfied with the ending this time around, but still... Fifth Grave Past the Light can't get here soon enough.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by St Martin's Press


Click to purchase: Amazon
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
by Darynda Jones
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: St Martin's Press

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Abigail Roux


Thanks for joining us on the Riptide Publishing First Anniversary Blog Hop Bash! All month long, we’re bringing you guest posts and interviews from your favorite authors, artists, and Riptide staff. As a thank you for helping us celebrate, we’re also giving away $10 in Riptide store credit to one lucky commenter at every stop! Simply leave a comment below by 11:59pm on Sunday, November 4th to enter. Be sure to check out our complete tour schedule to find out where else you can enter to win—one Grand Prize winner drawn from commenters at all the stops will also win a Kindle that we’ll load with every book we publish in 2013!

 Plus, check out our anniversary sale—All October long, backlist titles are 15%-50% off! Today, we have a special Halloween post from Abigail Roux, author of The Gravedigger’s Brawl and the Cut & Run series.

Going All Out for Halloween 
by Abigail Roux

October has always been my favorite time of year. The encroaching chill in the air, the changing colors, the creepiness of Halloween looming at the end of the month. My daughter’s birthday. The World Series and high school State playoffs, but we’ll not talk about either here.

But I’ll be honest, the spooky Halloween vibe of October is my favorite thing ever. I love people that love Halloween. I love to drive by a house that has gone all out to decorate. Graveyard by the driveway, cobwebs in the windows (mine are legit because I’m not touching those spider nests), flashing eyeball lights in the bushes. I remember trick-or-treating as a child and walking past a scarecrow on a porch that reached out and grabbed me, and it was awesome! That guy sat there all night with straw stuck up in his collar, all because he loved the spirit of the season. That’s dedication.

I love people who will dress up and don’t care if others think they’re idiots. Come to my daughter’s birthday party in a cow suit? I’ll love you forever. Have a very large dog that likes to jump the fence and chase people? Put him in a superman cape. Itty bitty baby born in October? Bring her home in a pumpkin suit!

I always swore I’d be that house when I got older. I’d be that kickass adult who dressed up just to make Halloween a little more magical for a neighborhood of kids. My American Bulldog really did wear a superman cape one year, and my baby girl did come home from the hospital in a pumpkin outfit. But my house is in the middle of nowhere, so I don’t get trick-or-treaters. My knee and shoulders have gone haywire, so I can’t dress up and be the life of any party.

For the last few years, the only way for me to get into the spirit of my most favorite time of year was to sit and watch Ghost Hunters in the middle of the night, or to write. I chose to write. I tried to capture that undefinable essence that hangs in the air as Fall descends, the mixture of vintage for the past and unknown for the future. I wrote a ghost story called Seeing Is Believing. It was short, barely long enough to put in an anthology, and I wrote it all in one day.

It was my version of trick-or-treat, and the next year I wanted to do it again. Only this time, the story was longer. It was deeper, and it managed to catch that eerie mixture of vintage and creepy. It was fun like someone sitting in a scarecrow costume, but it was also scary like the feeling you get when that scarecrow grabs you. It took about five years for me to work The Gravedigger’s Brawl into something worth publishing, but I’m glad it made itself into a Halloween treat. I’m finally able to share that mixture of anticipation, fear, and utter unholy glee the month of October always manages to instill in me.

Dr. Wyatt Case is never happier than when he’s walking the halls of his history museum. Playing wingman for his best friend at Gravedigger’s Tavern throws him way out of his comfort zone, but not as much as the eccentric man behind the bar, Ash Lucroix. Ash is everything Wyatt doesn’t understand: exuberant, quirky, and elbow deep in a Gaslight lifestyle that weaves history into everyday life. He coordinates his suspenders with his tongue rings. Within hours, Wyatt and Ash are hooked.

But strange things are afoot at Gravedigger’s, and after a knock to the head, Ash starts seeing things that can’t be explained by old appliances or faulty wiring. Soon everyone at Gravedigger’s is wondering if they’re seeing ghosts, or just going crazy. The answer to that question could end more than just Wyatt and Ash’s fragile relationship—it might also end their lives.


Buy link: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/gravedigger’s-brawl

Bio: Abigail Roux was born and raised in North Carolina. A past volleyball star who specializes in sarcasm and painful historical accuracy, she currently spends her time coaching high school volleyball and investigating the mysteries of single motherhood. Any spare time is spent living and dying with every Atlanta Braves and Carolina Panthers game of the year. Abigail has a daughter, Little Roux, who is the light of her life, a boxer, four rescued cats who play an ongoing live-action variation of Call of Duty throughout the house, a certifiable extended family down the road, and a cast of thousands in her head. To learn more about Abigail, please visit http://www.abigailroux.com

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Favorites From... Michelle Willingham



Michelle Willingham

I think all authors are also book-hoarders. I have a closet with bookshelves from ceiling to floor and both are stuffed to the brim and overflowing. Some are books I've kept since I was in high school, others are research books, and some are new authors I've discovered through word of mouth. I tend to read a little of everything, and when I'm working on my own historical romances, I like to read paranormal romance.

The first romance I ever devoured was The Maiden by Jude Deveraux. It was medieval, set in a fictional country, and I was completely hooked from page one. I went on to read all of Jude's books, and spent many happy hours reading and re-reading her historical romances.

While Jude's stories were the ones that hooked me on romance, it was LaVyrle Spencer who held me in awe. The emotional complexity of her stories held me spellbound, and I've read her books so many times, they are falling apart. Favorites include: Morning Glory, a WWII-set story about an ex-con and a pregnant widow who shuns the town; The Endearment, a mail-order bride story; and Vows, which featured a heroine who wanted to be a veterinarian. Even now, I can re-read these books and find something new to savor. If LaVyrle ever comes out of retirement to write a new book, I'll be first in line to buy it.

There are two series in the paranormal world that I adore. First, JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and in particular, Lover Awakened is my all-time favorite. It's a Beauty and the Beast story, but with a paranormal twist. And as far as tortured heroes go, Zsadist is one messed-up hero….which makes it all the more delicious when he earns his happy ending.

The second paranormal series I've enjoyed is Karen Marie Moning's Fever series. The first book, Dark Fever, featured a heroine who reminded me of Elle from Legally Blonde. When MacKayla tries to find out who murdered her sister, she discovers an apocalyptic world of things that go bump in the night¬—and her manicure will never be the same. It's a funny, suspenseful series that grabs you by the throat and the transformation of MacKayla is amazing. I loved every minute of it, and was thankful I hadn't started the series until Moning had finished the last book. I read all of them in a week.

These are some of my favorite books, and I hope you'll try some of them!

Thanks so much to Michelle Willingham for sharing these fantastic recommendations. I asked Michelle to particpate in this feature because her tortured hero in Tempted by the Highland Warrior really hit my sweet spot.  The guy was so tortured he lost the ability to speak!! It was a great love story and a Highlander book and if you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend that you check it out.

In the meantime, I must say that I am also a huge fan of Karen Marie Moning. So much so that I invited her to participate here as well. Unfortunately, she is crazy-busy with the upcoming Iced release. But she offered to provide a signed copy of Fever Moon to give away to one of you! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win.  US/CAN only.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: A Trace of Moonlight

Reviewed by Jen

I have mixed feeling about this book. After the massive cliffhanger on A Sliver of Shadow, I was practically foaming at the mouth to see what would happen to Abby once she lost her memory.  But I was put on edge from the very beginning.  I felt like Abby developed real feelings for Talivar in the last book, but here it seemed like he was set up to lose from the very start.

As the story begins, Abby doesn't remember anything, but she is betrothed to Talivar.  She views him warmly, but when she overhears him talking with Moira about her memory loss and her true identity, she feels betrayed. She runs... straight into Maurice... who does Something Really Bad to her and steals her amulet. She tries to leave the Fairy Court, but the Queen stops her, putting a geas on her that keeps her away from the Crossroads.  To escape her, Abby agrees to marry Talivar on the spot and escape with him.

In the meantime, Brystion has visited her in her dreams, leaving her with a special gift that makes her more powerful. It's also a massive sacrifice on his part. Abby can't get to him, though. She remains with Talivar as he takes over the Unseelie Court and continues his pursuit of Maurice who is now using Abby's amulet to further his nefarious schemes.  When an attack from his mercenaries clears the way for Brystion to pull Abby through the veil, it also nearly kills the Tree of Life that feeds the Crossroads.  And from then on out, it's a race to both track down Maurice and save the tree before it is gone forever.

I liked the action arc of the story. The part with the Fae and the scheming. The fighting, the tree, the subsequent search for Melanie.  All of that is very cool. But the love triangle is a different story. I felt like Abby strung me these two men along for virtually the entire book.  She says she loves Talivar. She sleeps with Talivar.  She sleeps with Brystion. She loves Brystion.  At first, it seems like Ion has it in the bag, due to the nature of his sacrifice. Then those circumstances change and we go round and round. She "can't" choose between them. Poor Talivar even offers to share.  And then, it feels like an external factor solidifies her choice. Is that why she picked who she did? She did pick someone, right?

Oh, and don't get me started on the ending!! Not the resolution to the Maurice/ tree/ Fairy thing. That was good.  But the relationship ending... I really didn't like it.  I'm not going to spoil it, but it felt so out of place in the story.  Not to mention, I was left with so many questions. What really happened to the character who returns at the very end?  Will they have a future together? What kind of future will it be?  I can't even list all the questions without spoiling the plot, but if this is the end of the series, I want clear resolution.  Don't ask me to draw my own conclusions. Especially since Abby's heart was so hard to read throughout.

It felt... unfinished.  I understand that Allison Pang could end up with more books in the series. And if she gets them, I will keep reading.  But if this ends up being the end of Abby Sinclair, I am just not satisfied with how she left things.

I would, however, love a book on Melanie and Nobu.

*ARC provided by author for review


Click to purchase: Amazon
A Trace of Moonlight
by Allison Pang
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books

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Favorites From... Julie Anne Long


Julie Anne Long

I read constantly and across all genres, but I read far fewer historicals than I used to (and I used to wallow in them), in part because I’ve learned that my muse needs to be fed something very different from what I’m writing—it’s a sort of flint for my creativity to strike against, if that makes sense. And my first responsibility to my readers is to write a great book, so when I’m starting work on a new book, I fish around for a book or two to read that’ll help prime my creative pump.

First off, I want the writing to be fabulous. And by that I don’t mean…oh, lyrical descriptions of s manor houses or what have you. For me, prose is utterly secondary to (or rather—I should say it should only be the delivery medium for) a voice and vision and world view that creates a reading experience so immersive that I feel a little disoriented, almost drunk, when I lift my head from the book, as if I’m surfacing from a deep sea dive or a vivid dream. I don’t really need a happy ending, but I like the ending to feel right. And I may or may not want to read a particular amazing book again. Some pack such a visceral wallop I may never read them again, because I never want to risk altering the way I felt when I first read it. Others I’ll read a half dozen or so times or more. I might critically parse books as I read them, questioning a plot direction, for instance, but I ultimately judge a book on its net impact: was I entertained throughout? Was I moved? Does the story linger? What ultimate feeling was I left with? I’m a pretty egalitarian reader—I don’t really think a “light” book has fewer merits than a “heavy” one, and I don’t believe one genre is superior to another. A good book is a good book; a dull book is a dull book. If it takes you away, it’s done its job. If it transforms you, better still. Reading is a GOOD thing.

YA Author John Green’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS just…blew me away. And if you haven’t read it, and if you don’t think reading about two teenagers who meet in a support group for terminal cancer is something you want to read…well, start reading and try to stop. It’s gorgeously romantic—a true love story in every sense of the word—but it’s very witty, a bit dark, compassionate, tragic, profound, philosophical, intelligent, compulsively readable, and ultimately uplifting. John Green accomplishes all of this with a deceptively light touch. I know better than to use the word “effortless” to describe anyone’s book—even if a writer is propelled by instinct and hard pressed to dissect his or her process, so is, say, a panther when it leaps. I suspect little chunks of the author’s heart and soul are the kindling for a book like this. But it’s utterly effortless to read. Fair warning: it’ll likely wreck you, but in the best way.

David Mitchell is a writer that leaves me kind of blinking and drop-jawed, very, “How…HOW…the HELL does he do THAT??” Again there’s that temptation to pull out the word “effortless”—CLOUD ATLAS is a set of linked stories that leap from genre to genre, from era to era, from voice to voice, absolutely seamlessly, with wit, skill, depth, enormous intelligence and grace without ever losing the narrative thread or my attention. The writing is quite simply astonishing. They’ve made a movie of it (Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry, among many others are in the cast), and I can’t wait to see how they try to pull it off. And if you’re a child of the 80’s, I’d recommend Mitchell’s BLACK SWAN GREEN, a story of a boy growing up in England in that era, his challenges at school, his parent’s disintegrating marriage, so much more. It’s lovely, funny, wrenching and gorgeous, and a bit more traditional in format that CLOUD ATLAS.

Irish author Marian Keyes has been a longtime favorite of mine. She began her career classified as a Chick Lit author—she in fact may have been one of the pioneers of the genre, along with Helen Fielding—but to me, she reads more like…oh, maybe more like a female Nick Hornby: she’s a literate, nuanced, writer with a marvelous emotional intelligence who again employs that deceptively light touch even as she navigates some darker themes, like addiction or domestic abuse or grave illness. But basically, she writes about life: friends, family, romance, betrayals, beginnings, endings, transformation. And she is HILARIOUS— one of the few authors who can force me put the book down because I’m laughing so hard. She started out a great writer and has simply gotten better with every book. I’ve read everything she’s written several times, but I’m a little too old now for some of the issues in her earlier books (e.g., girls with low self esteem navigating the dating world), but I suspect she is, too, because her themes have also matured. If you haven’t yet read her, I’d recommend THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY (hated to see that book end) or IS ANYBODY OUT THERE, my favorite so far of the Walsh sister books, and another book that’ll wreck you, in a good way.

Other books that I devour: M.C. Beaton’s light and addictive Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth cozies; anything written by Alexander McCall Smith, who writes with such compassion and intelligence and humor and has a fabulous sense of place—his wit is a little edgier and more satirical in his Scotland Street series, and I love it; Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell books—excellent writing, some dense history, wonderful characterizations; I’ve been on an noire kick lately, gobbling up Raymond Chandler and Vera Caspary, both brilliant and unique writers; I love Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti mysteries set in Venice; and lately I’m catching up on David Sedaris books I’ve missed.

Thanks so much to Julie Anne Long for sharing these recommendations. I asked Julie to be a part of the feature because her Pennyroyal Green series finds just the right blend of romance and humor.  I always laugh when I'm reading these books, but the love stories really deliver as well. My favorite is probably How the Marquess Was Won, but What I Did for a Duke was a huge fan favorite as well.

Would you like to try one of Julie Anne Long's recommendations?  This seems like a great time to remind you that you can enter to win ANY book recommended in the entire Favorites feature, valued up to $15. We've got an ongoing international giveaway (anywhere The Book Deposity will ship to.)  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Favorites From My Favorites: Winners - Week 3


Here's a breakdown for the winners of the week 3 giveaways:

Thief of Shadows - Lisa Jay
Angels' Blood - Ileana
Beyond the Night - Marlene
The Dragon Who Loved Me - Yadria

We've got three more days of the feature. Remember, you still have a chance to win any recommended book (valued up to $15) by entering here.

This week's giveaways were provided by Elizabeth Hoyt, Nalini Singh, Harper Collins and Kensington.

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Review: A Notorious Countess Confesses

Reviewed by Jen
 
Julie Anne Long continues to impress me with her Pennyroyal Green series.  These books are charming, witty, and difficult to put down.  And in this particular installment, it has a slightly inexperienced, yet thoroughly swoon-worthy vicar hero.

Adam Sylvaine is part of the Eversea extended family and has the requisite good looks of the bloodline.  He takes his job as vicar very seriously, though it's often made more challenging by the number of young ladies who pursue his affections.  He's not exactly an innocent, but he has thrown himself into his work and has really had no time or inclination to pursue any dalliance.  He first lays eyes on our heroine when she falls asleep during one of his sermons.

Eve has moved to Pennyroyal Green, hoping to make a new life for herself.  Her reputation in London is in tatters.  Once a much sought-after actress, she was later mistress to two men, and after that, may have cut her new husband's life short by being too vigorous in the bedroom.  Dubbed the "Black Widow" by the ton, she prays that the moniker won't follow her to her new home.  In fact, she starts trying to recreate herself, by attending church.  Of course, it was never her intention to drift off to the melody of the handsome vicar's rich voice.

Sadly, Eve cannot escape her past. She is essentially shunned before she ever really has a chance to make an impression in Pennyroyal Green.  She reaches out to Adam for help.  Adam, who seems immune to her beauty, her flirtations, and manipulations.  Adam... who is honest, stoic, and frank.  He reluctantly agrees and helps to lay the groundwork for her social acceptance in town.  And somehow, they slowly make their marks on each other's hearts.

The romance is a really slow build here.  Both Adam and Eve fight any real feelings of substance.  Eve has pulled herself up from nothing and fears ceding control to a man. At the same time, Adam must think of his position as vicar and how precarious a relationship with a fallen woman could be.  The sexual tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  By the time Adam finally put his mouth on her, I was ready to jump out of my seat.  And once things started getting physical, it was smoking hot.

There's a great cast of secondary characters and a lot going on with the Pennyroyal Green community --and how they all interact with both Eve and Adam.  Eve is a tough cookie and I liked her. But Adam really stole the show for me. I loved his quiet strength. He has all this tightly contained passion, that --when unleashed-- rocked my socks off.

There's also a little movement on the Olivia and Lyon arc.  Good gravy, I want their book so much!  Please, please, give it to me, Julie Anne Long. I need it.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Avon


Click to purchase: Amazon
A Notorious Countess Confesses
by Julie Anne Long
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Avon

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: To Hell and Back

Reviewed by Jen
 
I know. I know. You can't judge a book by it's cover, but before I start talking about the pages inside, let's all take a moment to appreciate the absolutely gorgeous cover art for this book. . . . Wow.

Moving to the actual story, To Hell and Back is a companion novella to Wrong Side of Hell. It continues the story of the tortured heroine Kira -- and Logan, the hellhound who loves her.  The story picks up right on the heels of the last one. Logan is trying to get Kira to safety after having rescued her from Purgatory.  They are happy together, but the odds are stacked against them. And it's only a matter of time before they can no longer outrun the monsters that are chasing them.

Logan is kidnapped and dragged back to hell. There, he must finally face his past and his enemies.  He must find a way vanquish them if he ever hopes to have a real future with the woman he loves. In the meantime, Kira is offered help from some familiar faces from the League. But can she trust them?

The story is pretty fast paced and our couple must fight their battles separately for most of the book.  There are a few love scenes, but this is really a story about these two fighting to get back to one another.  I liked it. I was glad to see more of Kira and Logan. These are two people who complete one another. Both have endured horrific pasts.  But in each other, they have found the peace and happiness that they never believed existed for themselves.

We do get cameos from Priest and Cale, in addition to Lillith, Seth the Golden, and Samael. This book could be read as a standalone, but you are really better off reading Wrong Side of Hell first, so you can see how these two fell in love.

I enjoyed it. I hope there will be a third story for these two one day.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
To Hell and Back
by Juliana Stone
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Avon

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Seducing Mr. Knightly

Reviewed by Jen
 
You don't have to be a longtime reader of Maya Rodale's Writing Girls series to enjoy this romance. But if you've been following along, you know it's about time for sweet and quiet Annabelle to finally get her HEA with the man she has been pining over for years: her boss, the completely oblivious Derek Knightly.   After suffering through the pangs of unrequited love for so long, she finally decides to take matters into her own hands to win him over.

Annabelle writes an advice column for the paper. She solicits her readers for ideas to gain the attention of the man she loves... the clueless oaf who adopts the nickname "the nodcock."  All of London ends up catching Annabelle-fever.  She tries suggestion after suggestion, then writes about her successes and failures.  Until her efforts begin to work.

What ends up happening is a real transformation for Annabelle. It was fun watching her come out of her shell and really live for the first time.  And even more engaging, is watching Knightly succumb to her charms.   Unfortunately, our hero has set his sights on a politically advantageous marriage to another woman and he must ultimately decide what really matters to him.  It takes him a while to work it out.

I really, really liked the romance.  The sexual tension was good. The sex was hot. And there is something so satisfying about watching a deserving character find happiness.

It wasn't without some bumps in the road.  It was a bit implausible that Knightly could be so obtuse for so long, not just to Annabelle's affections but to the articles running in his own paper.   I also had a little trouble swallowing the idea that she would go on to print details of her sexual conquest in the paper.  Considering the time and place, I couldn't believe an unmarried woman would admit to such things in such a public way.

But honestly, neither issue really turned me off.  It was sweet and sexy, with an ending that hit the spot.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Avon 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Seducing Mr Knightly
by Maya Rodale
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Avon

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5 For Friday - October 26

Happy Friday, everybody. I hope you guys are having a fantastic week.  With the changes at work, I've found myself cramming almost all of my reading time into the weekends.  I recently wrapped up How Beauty Met the Beast, and I am already anxious to pick up book two.  Waiting is not my forte. And speaking of waiting...

5. I feel like I am going to die if I don't get my Qhuay love soon. JR Ward has released the back cover copy for Lover at Last.

Qhuinn, son of no one, is used to being on his own. Disavowed from his bloodline, shunned by the aristocracy, he has finally found an identity as one of the most brutal fighters in the war against the Lessening Society. But his life is not complete. Even as the prospect of having a family of his own seems to be within reach, he is empty on the inside, his heart given to another....

Blay, after years of unrequited love, has moved on from his feelings for Qhuinn. And it’s about time: The male has found his perfect match in a Chosen female, and they are going to have a young- just as Qhuinn has always wanted for himself. It’s hard to see the new couple together, but building your life around a pipe dream is just a heartbreak waiting to happen. As he’s learned firsthand.

Fate seems to have taken these vampire soldiers in different directions... but as the battle over the race’s throne intensifies, and new players on the scene in Caldwell create mortal danger for the Brotherhood, Qhuinn finally learns the true definition of courage, and two hearts who are meant to be together... finally become one.

I am imploding.  Can someone fast forward time to March?

4. Apparently, Gena Showalter revealed the cover for her second Angels of the Dark book last week and I missed it!! (Bad Jen.)


Beauty Awakened is Koldo's book. It's out February 26th.

3. The wait is almost over for Karen Marie Moning's Iced.  The book trailer is out and KMM is dropping little teasers from the book all over her Facebook page.


Iced releases Tuesday.

2.  Kresley Cole is sharing an extended sneak peek of her upcoming IAD spinoff book, Shadow's Claim.


She's got the first five chapters up on her Facebook page. It's under the Members Only tab. Shadow's Claim is only a month away...

1A new interview with Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev says at least one or two more main characters are set to die this season on the show.


There aren't really that many main characters left alive.  There's Bonnie, Matt, and Jeremy. Am I missing anyone else?  Everyone else is already dead or part vampire.  I would guess Matt is going be the one to go, but people have been saying that for years and he's still around.  Got any predictions?

That's it for now!

XOXO,
Jen

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Favorites From... Loretta & Larissa


Loretta Chase & Larissa Ione

Loretta: I do read contemporary romance a bit more than my own genre and my go-to authors are Susan Elizabeth Philips and Jennifer Crusie. While neither has ever written a book I didn’t like, here are my favorites:
SEP: Heaven, Texas
JC: Bet Me

And outside romance but inside Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Alternate Reality: I think Terry Pratchett is just brilliant. I would start with Guards, Guards, rather than at the very beginning of the Discworld Series. Then, once the reader is completely hooked, she’ll want to read the first book and continue—which has the bonus of allowing her to read Guards, Guards again.

Larissa: My two all time favorites are Robert Jordan and Sharon Kay Penman...but since you're probably wanting romance-y, I'd go with Sharon Kay Penman. She writes historical fiction, but her books always have a romantic subplot, and they're just amazing!!!! My favorite is Here Be Dragons, which features a very strong romance. Love it!

Neither Loretta & Larissa could contribute a full guest post, but I wanted to share their recommendations with you. I asked Loretta to participate in the feature because I love her historicals, especially Lord of Scoundrels. It features an "ugly" hero who never really feels worthy of his heroine. And it makes me swoon just thinking about it.

Larissa writes fabulous PNR. I love her Demonica series and its spinoff Lords of Deliverance books. They have such amazing world-building and a huge cast of character that give the stories such a rich canvas.  And --holy wow-- the lady can write some sex.  Thanks to both Larissa & Loretta for taking the time to share their recs with us.  

And, of course, we've got a giveaway to share.  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win Loretta's recommendation, Heaven, Texas.  US/CAN only.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Wed to a Highland Warrior


Reviewed by Jen
 
Bliss is seer among the Pict people.  She bears the gifts of healing and foresight.  It's because of her sixth sense that she knows Trey is supposed to be her husband from the fourth page of the book. Accosted by soldiers, she claims Trey is already her husband. He goes along with the ruse, having no idea that Pict culture dictates that marriage is born by both parties claiming it to be true.  As such, they are married on page five.

The thing is, the two of them could end the marriage just as easily by declaring it null. But they never do, an idea that I found absolutely ludicrous. Maybe not for Bliss, because she can see the future and everything... but for Trey?  A man nursing a broken heart over the death of his beloved?  To choose to be married to a woman he barely knows?  And they're not even doing the hokey-pokey?  I can suspend my disbelief pretty far, but this made no sense to me.

Moving on... Bliss is on a journey to heal a sick old woman and Trey decides to see his new wife safely on her journey.  One healing mission for Bliss becomes two --then three-- then four.  OK, basically she has to heal one person after another throughout the entire book.  This, while Trey follows along, tempting her with the sex they both want to have and worrying about getting home to his brothers to tell him about the King's plans to invade their land.

Bliss and Trey get together in a way that is both too fast and too slow. Too fast, because they are in love in a matter of days (and that's not even getting into the constant references to each other as "husband" and wife.")  And too slow, because they are mooning over each other and talking about the inevitability of their physical intimacy for so long, I was actually yelling at the book for them to get on with it already.

As the pair finally make it back to Trey's people, we finally learn the secret hanging over the series: the identity of the true king of Scotland.  It was anti-climactic.  The big reveal over the roadblock to Bliss and Trey's relationship was also anticlimactic.  I just couldn't muster much excitement about any of it.  There is just too much going on and it was all so "out there" that it clouded my ability to really connect with the characters or their feelings.

Meh.

Rating: C-

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Wed to a Highland Warrior
by Donna Fletcher
Release Date: October 30, 2010
Publisher: Avon

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Favorites From... Anna Campbell


Anna Campbell

Peabody for President!
By Anna Campbell

Hi Jen! Thank you for having me as your guest today. I love the idea of asking authors to share recommendations for their favorite books. The hardest part was deciding just which books to choose – there’s such a wealth of fantastic reading out there.

Recently I’ve tempered my diet of wonderful romance novels with mysteries. I love how in a good mystery series, we follow that single character through what is often a very long arc (for something like the Nevada Barr series, there are at currently 17 books!). I also love how in many of these series, there’s a romantic subplot that occasionally pushes its way up to become center of attention. Think C.S. Harris’s brilliant Viscount Devlin series set in the Regency period, starting with WHAT ANGELS FEAR.

Yeah, I know, I’m cheating. I’m fitting some extra recommendations in before I get to my ACTUAL recommendation! No mystery there.

The Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters are absolute corkers. They’re a recent discovery for me, but they’ve been around for yonks. CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK, the first book, was published back in 1975. The latest installment A RIVER IN THE SKY came out in 2010. Talk about longevity! A RIVER IN THE SKY is number 19 and more are promised. Huzzah! Long live Amelia and her many cohorts.

You might worry about the earlier books seeming dated. And they are – right back to late in Queen Victoria’s reign. One of the advantages of writing historical mysteries is that it really doesn’t matter if flares go in and out of style in the current era, the specificity of period is part of the charm.

In CROCODILE, we meet Amelia Peabody, forthright, brave, self-opinionated (although often wrong) spinster. When Amelia unexpectedly inherits a fortune, she fulfills her dreams of travel to Egypt in the golden age of archeology. There she meets irascible, disheveled and extremely sexy Radcliffe Emerson, “the greatest Egyptologist of this or any other age” as we are told at least once in every book (the running jokes are one of the joys of this series). Sparks fly, romance ensues, and in between, there are dead bodies galore. Some of these dead bodies are meant to be that way – mummies feature strongly – but some aren’t. Amelia and Emerson play amateur sleuths in between their digging. “Every year, another dead body” as their overseer Abdullah puts it.

CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK sets the pattern for future books. There’s fun and sparkling wit. There’s romance. There’s danger and intrigue. There’s fascinating information about Egypt, both ancient and (relatively) modern. Amelia and Emerson have one son, the dashing, mysterious and charismatic Ramses who becomes the swashbuckling hero of later books. Do you remember I mentioned extended romance plots? Ramses’s path to true love is littered with drama and heartache and by the time he gets his happy ending in THE FALCON AT THE PORTAL, the reader (and Ramses) have been through the wringer. Great stuff!

Another joy is the huge cast of characters who swing in and out of the stories. Eccentric scholars, master criminals, young lovers, Egyptians, uppity servants, spies, suffragettes, rotters, real people like Howard Carter or Lawrence of Arabia. Not to mention cats who are characters in their own right. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to get in an Amelia Peabody novel apart from rollicking enjoyment, a great story and a plethora of corpses.

The tone is dry and witty with hints of high Victorian. Surprisingly the humor doesn’t jar with the dramatic or tragic elements. There’s Bronte-esque melodrama and Austenish wit and Dickensian universality, yet somehow the books emerge all of a piece. As a writer, I’m in awe every time I read one.

If you haven’t read Amelia Peabody, I highly recommend her. If you have, I’m sure I’m speaking to the converted. If possible, read the books in order. Many of plot strands about the family run from book to book with revelations timed for maximum effect. I’m currently up to number 14, THE GOLDEN ONE, and I’m loving it.

If you’d like to read more about Amelia, her family and her adventures, here’s a link to the official website: http://www.mpmbooks.com/peabody/index.html

So are you a fan of historical mysteries? Do you like a little (or a lot!) romance mixed in with other genres? Have you read any of the Amelia Peabody stories? What’s your favorite? 

Thank you to Anna Campbell for sharing her recommendations today. I asked Anna to be a part of this feature because I absolutely adored her Beauty and the Beast themed Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed.  It follows a woman willing to pay off her sister's debt in the bed of a scarred recluse.  It was one of my favorite books this year.

Now is your chance to check out one of the Amelia Peabody books. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters. This one is open US/CAN. 

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: The Scottish Witch

Reviewed by Jen
 
There were things I enjoyed about this book, but it ended up a mixed bag for me.  I liked the premise: an entire line of men are cursed to die when they find love, thanks to the selfish actions of an ancestor.  Each book in the series follows a different Chattan man as he tries to avoid love and the subsequent death that will surely follow. In this installment, the hero is Harry Chattan, a man on a mission to break the curse in order to save his brother's life.

Harry's brother Lyon was the hero of book one. He fell in love despite his best efforts to avoid it and now he is at death's door. Harry is trying to track down the witch who created the curse... or any witch, really, who could help get rid of it. His search brings him to the Scottish town where Portia has moved with her mother and younger sister.

Portia has essentially given up on a life of her own. At 27, she isn't really swimming in prospects and --besides-- her younger sister needs her help to find happiness, and that's saying nothing of her selfish, widowed mother. But in the attic of their family home, Portia finds the spell book of Fenella, her witchy ancestor who started the Chattan curse.  When she finds out a new man in town is offering big money to find a witch, she aims to use the book to earn the money her family so desperately needs to survive.  Of course, her meeting with Harry sets them irrevocably on the path to love.

I liked both characters well enough. But I was put off by the progression of their relationship. First of all, their first coupling was way too abrupt and I wasn't entirely comfortable with whether Portia was a willing enough participant.  The sex scenes, in general, felt rushed.  It seemed like we zoomed through a lot of things I would have liked to see really play out on page, rather than just be told that they happened.   I never really felt like I saw these two fall in love, even though they obviously do.

It isn't bad. It just doesn't live up to its potential.  --It's also a HFN, as opposed to an HEA, which doesn't bother me, but it may not sit right with all readers.

Rating: C+

P.S. I hate it when the cover models look nothing like characters in the book are described. Does this make me petty?

*ARC Provided by Avon


Click to purchase: Amazon
The Scottish Witch
by Cathy Maxwell
Release Date: October 30, 2010
Publisher: Avon

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Favorites From... Nicole Peeler


Nicole Peeler

Hi folks! Nicole Peeler here, sharing with you one of my favorite subgenres. It's a little different, maybe, for some of you, but if you like para-rom or UF I really think you'll like...

Paranormal cozy mysteries!

The mystery genre, for those of you who don't read it much, are divided into two primary strains: thrillers and cozies. Thrillers are things like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or The Snowman, which have lots of action, violence, and violent themes. As for cozies, you're probably most familiar with them in the shape of Murder She Wrote or Miss Marple. Cozies usually feature an amateur sleuth, rather than a professional, and the sex and violence are toned way down. There are still murders, but they will often be offstage, using a method such as poisoning or a single stab-wound, rather than showing a big gory murder like a thriller would.

I love cozies and always have, but recently cozies have begun to stretch their wings a little, allowing things into the genre that would never have been considered before. One example of this is the paranormal cozy. You might remember stories like "The Hound of the Baskervilles," in which there appears to be a paranormal element. But, just like in Scooby Doo, those elements were always "unmasked" to reveal a human villain.

Lately, however, some cozy authors have been playing with the supernatural in a "real" way. The murderers in these books are still going to be human, and that's one of the things that makes the paranormal cozy different from urban fantasy. But nowadays we have amateur sleuths who are witches with real arcane power, or true psychics, or mediums who really can see the dead, et cetera.

So a cozy paranormal mystery will have all the elements of a cozy. There will be a murder to be solved by an amateur sleuth. There will be minimum sex and violence on stage, although there may be a love interest and some "closed door" intimacy. There will be a really developed world that's small in feel, so an actual small village or a small community within a larger one. And there will be lots of great character development, as part of the joy of the cozy is watching someone who shouldn't have to deal with murder and intrigue being forced to chase after baddies.

But a paranormal cozy will have some fun supernatural extras that will appeal to readers of both para-rom and UF.

If you like the sound of this genre, two writers I highly recommend are Juliet Blackwell and Victoria Laurie. Both have series with great supernatural elements, wonderful love interests, and very intriguing murders to solve by fun protagonists.

As someone who has always loved the cozy, I'm happy to see it opening up to new themes and premises, while still remaining true to its roots.

Thank you to Nicole Peeler for sharing her recommendations today.  I asked Nicole to be a part of this feature because her Jane True books add some much needed laughter to my life. The title character is a half-human half-selkie who is just learning about the supernatural world around her and her place in it. The series also features a sexy shapeshifter named Anyan who ratchets up the sexual tension between action and the humor. You can check out my review of the first book in the series, Tempest Rising, for more info.

In the meantime, I've got a cozy mystery for you to try. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win a copy of Juliet Blackwell's In a Witch's Wardrobe. US Only.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: Forty Shades of Pearl

Reviewed by Shelly
 
Divorced, 40 year-old Pearl Robinson works as a documentary producer for a small company in New York. Her assignment is to get an interview with Alexandre Chevalier and his sister Sophie Dumas for the possibility of doing a documentary, as they own a very popular and successful social media site, HookedUp. Because of his lack of public appearances and a single, very blurry photograph, Pearl thinks that twenty four-year Alexandre is a bit of a nerd. Oh, how wrong she is.

This story is pretty short in that the time span is about a month – so there’s just not a lot you can make happen in that time frame. I fully enjoyed about the first quarter of the story. I’m not sure what happened to the rational thinking side of Pearl but her brain started malfunctioning to the level of a very young, immature girl. After missing the speech at the conference where she was supposed to meet Alexandre, Pearl heads across the street to a coffee shop to wallow in her misery by drinking overpriced coffee (her words, not mine). When she’s there she runs into Alexandre and Sophie but doesn’t tell them who she is because she’s going to pull some ‘Rachel from Friends’ thing - tell a lie and invent some ridiculous cover up. Why? Why? Why? YOU ARE A GROWN WOMAN PEARL, that wasn’t even cute when Rachel did it. I’m sure you’re not surprised when I tell you that Ross didn’t come save the day for her. She lost all credibility with me after that.

I never liked Alexandre. I don’t know if it’s cause he too French, but his self-righteous attitude just didn’t sit well with me. I have to share this line with you. Alexandre and Pearl are having a discussion about his company and what kind of charities they support. He tells her – “…All our charities are vetted to make sure they’re not linked with any upsetting practices. As long as any particular cancer research is not using animals to test on, that’s great.” Really Alexandre, so when your precious dog gets cancer what kind of research will you be happy with – testing on humans? Then there’s this whole thing about carbon footprint and all I could think about is – dude you’re in IT, you have a BIG carbon footprint so get off your high horse.

There were some side stories that I found to be much more interesting than these two, but they weren’t developed. Pearl’s only friend Denise was a breath of fresh air; she seemed to really care and tried to give words of wisdom to ease Pearl’s woes. I was also interested in Natalie, Pearl’s boss, who was dating Pearl’s long-lost Dad.  Sophie is straight crazy and Alexandre knows it, but can’t abandon family, right? – even when they do others harm (heavy on the sarcasm). Last but not least, there is Anthony, Pearl’s brother who she calls every week. Oh my, if he could have been more insensitive and uncaring, I think he might have volunteered to throw her in front of a bus and call her ‘girl friend’ while doing it.

The sex was heavy between these two but it didn’t seem to stem from anything but lust. For every challenge or issue in the relationship – sex was the answer, they didn’t speak about resolving the issue – let’s just have sex.

Overall, I can’t say that I enjoyed this one. The story wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t for me.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: C

*Book provided by author for review


Click to purchase: Amazon
Forty Shades of Pearl
by Arianne Richmonde
Release Date: August 22, 2012
Publisher: Mighty Publications

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Favorites From... Amanda Carlson

Amanda Carlson

I don’t get much read time these days, but for full on reading enjoyment you can’t go wrong with these authors:

My favorite historical romance author is Georgette Heyer. I discovered her about fifteen years ago and each book is like opening a new gift. I started collecting them immediately off eBay (they were actually my first foray onto eBay!) and never looked back. I have hundreds. Some of my personal faves are The Grand Sophy, Arabella, The Toll-Gate, and The Convenient Marriage. She writes in a voice perfect for the genre. I think she’s brilliant.

On of my first reads in PNR was Kresley Cole. I hadn’t read much of the genre before her, so she literally popped my genre “cherry” with her Immortals After Dark series. And can I say it was an awesome way to pop! She has an amazing voice. (Voice is huge for me.) Her characters jump off the page and her sex is diiiirty. Start with the first and read all the way through. You won’t be sorry.

Jane Yellowrock is badass and one of my very favorite urban fantasy heroines. Faith Hunter is at the top of the urban fantasy food chain for me. Her writing is flawless and her world absolutely rocks. I like my heroines tough with a mind of their own. Faith delivers every single time. If you haven’t read Jane yet, I urge you to pick one up. The story is original and Faith writes action all day, everyday.

My happy go-to place has always been humor. I love to laugh. And for that it’s always David Sedaris. I laugh until I cry when I read one of his books. They are the only books I’ve ever read out loud so my spouse can enjoy by proxy. (Often much to his dismay.) I’ve been known to yell, “Wait, wait…there’s one more,” laughs too hard to speak, “you gotta hear this one. It’s the last one. I promise.” “No wait, there’s just one more…” Me Talk Pretty One Day is one of his best, but they all rock if you love to laugh.

Amanda's bookshelf

I’d like to thank Red Hot Books for inviting me to chat about books I love. There’s nothing better than an excellent book—a book that leaves you with happy tingles is a true gift. If you’d like to find out more about me and my debut FULL BLOODED, I’m in all the regular places. For more info visit my website at: www.amandacarlson.com

Thanks to Amanda Carlson for sharing these recommendations today. I asked Amanda to be a part of the feature because I really enjoyed her debut, Full Blooded. It features a kick-ass werewolf heroine who is the only one of her kind. It's got plenty of action and at least one hot roll in the hay.  Check out my review for more deets.

In the meantime, you have a chance to win one of Amanda's recommendations. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win Skinwalker, the first in the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter.  US Only please.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Offside

Reviewed by Shelly
 
Suffering from one too many concussions while playing overseas, 25 year old hockey player Billie-Jo Barker decides to return home to both recover and decide what she’s going to do with the rest of her life. When she gets back home, she runs into no other than Logan Forest, her childhood crush who she’s still carrying a bit of a torch for.

Billie is restless because for the first time she neither has a schedule to train by nor a game in her foreseeable future. Along with that, she’s quite unsure of her future because not only can she no longer competitively play the sport that she loves, but she doesn’t know how to do anything but play hockey. To solve part of her quandry, Billie joins the local hockey league. Fortunately for her, there are no rules that say males only so she decides to give it a go.

Also on the team is Logan, who’s quite the successful businessman and resident hotmaleness. Logan and Billie have a little bit of history in that Billie was totally and completely in love with Logan, but he only had eyes for Betty-Jo, one of the Barker triplets. After seeing each other again, sharing a hockey bench and after-the-game drinks, Billie and Logan form a hot and heavy ‘don’t tell anyone’ affair. But Billie has a long held secret that she’s keeping from Logan that will seriously rock their budding relationship.

While trying to stay safe on the ice, Billie’s dealing with her father’s early stages of dementia, her other sister Bobbi-Jo’s hostile attitude, Shane – recent parolee and ex-boyfriend of Bobbi, Gerald – Bobbi’s fiancee, Betty’s total asshat attitude, and a serious (downright criminal) case of hazing.

With the smokin’ hot between the sheets moments between Billie and Logan, it all makes for a fun and very entertaining read. I’m exicted to see whose story is going to be the next one out. I’m thinking Betty-Jo because I have no idea who her HEA will be with. But I know when Shane’s turn comes, it’s going to be just as good or maybe even more awesome – because shhhh don’t tell anyone-- but he’s a badboy and you know how those badboys can make a girl lose her right mind.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Offside
by Juliana Stone
Release Date: October 1, 2012

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Favorites From... Jeaniene Frost


Jeaniene Frost

First, thanks to Jen at Red Hot Books for having me on the site! I was a reader long before I became a writer, so it’s great to talk about authors I love. First, a disclaimer: There’s no way I can mention every author I enjoy because that would take too long. For a more complete list, you can go here and that still won’t cover everyone. Disclaimer aside, here are the top five authors that make me drop everything when they have a new release:

Melissa Marr. Whether it’s sinister-yet-sensual faeries (Wicked Lovely); the Hungry Dead (Graveminder); witches, shifters, and daemons in a mesmerizing carnival (Carnival of Souls), or an otherworld that gives Cowboys and Aliens a run for its money (not-yet-released The Arrivals), I am hooked on Melissa’s stories. She blends richly-layered world building with characters so vibrant it’s not unusual for me to dream about them.

Ilona Andrews. Another author who matches awesome world building with addictive characters. If you’re a series junkie like me, I can’t recommend the Kate Daniels books highly enough. If you like your stories in one-and-done form, then check out Gunmetal Magic, a stand-alone spinoff set in the Kate Daniels world, or any novel in Ilona’s “The Edge” series. Don’t blame me when you miss out on sleep, though. Her books don’t like to be put down.

Kresley Cole. Her Immortals After Dark series is my literary crack. Each book is filled sexiness, humor, and enough emotional drama to make me tear up at times. These books are firmly on my Keeper shelf for whenever I wanted a guaranteed great read, or a great re-read.

Charlaine Harris. She’s the woman who brought us Sookie, Eric, Bill, and Alcide. Need I say more? Okay, I will: The Southern Vampire Mysteries manages to blend quirkiness with horror, humor with sensuality, and the supernatural with the mundane so smoothly that one might be tempted to believe Bon Temps actually exists. Also, Charlaine is so warm and gracious that someone ought to tell her she’s a rock star because clearly she’s unaware of that.

Nalini Singh. Her Guild Hunter series is pure magic. I love the blend of angels, vampires, and natural-born hunters. Elena and Raphael burn up the pages, as do Dmitri and Honor, and in case Nalini didn’t hear me the first time I said it…can we get a Bluebell book? PLEASE?! *wink*

Thank you to Jeaniene Frost for sharing these recommendations! I asked Jeaniene to be a part of this feature because her Night Huntress books were among my very first UF/ PNR reads and I still love re-reading them.  The series follows the lives and romance of half-blood vampire Cat and her uber-sexy partner Bones.  Jeaniene has also written spinoff books featuring side characters in the series (which I also love.)  If you haven't read this series yet, start with Halfway to the Grave.  It won't let you down. 

In the meantime, here is your chance to try out one of Jeaniene's recommendations. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win Graveminder by Melissa Marr.  US/CAN only.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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