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Review blog with emphasis on graphic novels and YA & MG fiction.
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1. Interview and Giveaway: Kim Amos, Author of A Kiss to Build a Dream On

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Kim!  What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

{Kim Amos] Toast the ghost! He’s a stuffed ghost I found at Target one year on the Halloween clearance rack. He looked so lonely, so I took him home, and now I sleep with him even though I’m probably well past the age when I should be sleeping with stuffed anything but, hey, he’s super snuggly! When I travel, he always comes with me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

{Kim Amos] Post-Its (I’m forever making lists, hoo boy do I love a good list), Tana French’s novel THE SECRET PLACE (it’s amazing, everyone should read it, especially mystery lovers), and an antique pen that’s gilded and lovely, which my wonderful sister-in-law bought me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

{Kim Amos] CARBS OMG ALL THE CARBS NOW OM NOM NOM. Just kidding. Sort of. Not really. I’m a carb-o-holic, which I’m trying to change and be better about. It’s tough! So these days, I’ll probably snack on some air-popped popcorn (instead of, say, all the Doritos in a two-mile radius), or even an apple and peanut butter. Around this time of year, though, the Cadbury mini-eggs are definitely calling to me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

{Kim Amos] Amelia Earhart, I think. She was gutsy and brave in so many admirable ways during a time when not much was expected of women. I would love to hear her internal thoughts and learn how she shut out the haters. Her spirit of adventure awes me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

{Kim Amos] I would have the power to help every animal that needed a home, love, and care. I would be a voice for animals that had no voice. I’d help them in any way I could, and hopefully ensure they all had wonderful lives. *tries to hug all the animals*

About A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON

Twelve years ago, beautiful, blond, wealthy Willa Masterson left White Pine, tires squealing, for New York City, without looking back.  Since then, she’s enjoyed everything New York has to offer a girl with unlimited resources. But the recent discovery that her boyfriend has squandered her inheritance in a Ponzi scheme sends Willa back to White Pine, to the only asset she has left: her childhood home, which she plans to turn into a high-end B&B. 
Enter Burk Olmstead, the best contractor in town-and Willa’s high school boyfriend, whom she left high and dry when she moved away.  Hard-working, hard-bodied Burk, who has been taking care of Willa’s childhood home for years, also has plans for the beautiful old house-plans that conflict with Willa’s B&B.  When these two argue, sparks fly and reignite the fire that’s always been between them…but it may take the whole town of White Pine to get these two lovers back together for good. 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1xfmEZm
B&N: http://bit.ly/1ErH3HJ
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1AxKQ4M
BAM!: http://bit.ly/1F4vQC8
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1I04MCu

About Kim Amos

A Midwesterner whose roots run deep, Kim Amos is a writer living in Michigan with her husband and three furry animals. 

Website: http://www.kimamoswrites.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimAmosWrites

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimamoswrites

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kimamoswrites/

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2. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves -

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

Okay, so wow!  What a week in Romancelandia, huh?  I’m still trying to wrap my head around the revelation that Jane from Dear Author is also a secret best-selling author.  While I applaud her success, I feel duped that the “for readers, by readers” site is actually helmed by a NA author.  That was a big Oh Dear!  moment for me last week.  It’s like the biggest April Fool’s joke ever, except that blog readers are the  fools.

If you are unaware of the situation and want to get up to speed, check out these posts:

Dear Author

SBTB

You can also Google for more info.

If you are a Dear Author follower, what do you think of the news?  Are you still going to visit the blog?  I haven’t made up my mind yet. Ugh!

Check out my current contests!  See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

Daughter of the Sword

Sugar on Top

Superposition

The Fairy Tale Bride

All the Rage

Hidden Huntress

Rescued by the Rancher

Emergence: Dave VS the Monsters

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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3. Review: What a Bachelor Needs by Kelly Hunter

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was kind of avoiding the Bachelor Auction books because, at first, they didn’t interest me.  I just read a book where the hero was auctioned off, so the premise wasn’t even catchy.  But then.  But THEN!  I saw that Kelly Hunter wrote What a Bachelor Needs and I was so on board I forgot my life vest.

I have read and enjoyed many of Kelly Hunter’s works.  I love her dialog and how the protagonists interact, and the secondary characters are always fun to meet, too.   All of that is true here. There is so much humor in WaBN that I actually laughed out a loud a few times, startling the puppers.  It’s okay, though, they have already realized that mom is kinda weird, but her love is genuine, so they didn’t scurry off to locate a hiding place.

Single mom Mardie is struggling to provide a safe, secure home for her young daughter Claire.  The victim of domestic abuse, she was in one horrific marriage and she’s not going to make that mistake again.  On the lowest night of her life, Jett Casey, the guy she’d been crushing on since high school, saves her after she’s taken a beating in an alley.  Mardie is mortified that Jett is her rescuer, and despite her objections, she allows him to call emergency services so she receive the medical attention is obviously needs. 

This meeting changed both of the their lives.  It made Mardie realize that she deserved better and that she was worth something.  It overwhelmed Jett with guilt because he didn’t think he did enough for Mardie.  He just let her go, back into whatever hellish situation he’s momentarily saved her from.  When he has a chance to do something about it a few years later, he takes the opportunity to assuage his guilt very seriously.

Mardie doesn’t have two nickels to rub together, and she’s too proud to ask for help from anyone.  When her friend buys Jett for her, she’s not happy.  But Jett, a competitive skier, is sidelined with an injury, so he’s offered to be the winner’s handyman.  Mardie’s house needs a lot of TLC, so she’s finally convinced that letting Jett fix a few things will make it a safer environment for Claire.  She also learns that occasionally asking for help isn’t a bad thing, a hard lesson for her to learn.

I loved Jett.  He is such a kind, giving guy, and he only wants to help Mardie.  He’s a ski god, enjoys having a good time, and has women throwing themselves at him.  But once he starts tinkering around Mardie’s house, he only has eyes for her.  She fights the attraction she feels for him, but their chemistry shines on every page.  Mardie’s reservations are completely believable, too.  Once the week is over, he’s just going to go off on his merry way, traveling the world and winning more titles.  Mardie doesn’t think she has anything to offer him, despite his protestations to the contrary.  She’s still fighting the demons from her past, and she doesn’t think she can ever trust again.

What a Bachelor Needs is a fast, fun read with snappy dialog and a kind, compassionate hero who is very heroic, and, hey, he does home improvements!  If that doesn’t make Jett Mr. Perfect, I don’t know what would.  If you have a couple hours to fill this weekend, I highly recommend getting cozy with this book.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Your date with ski champ Jett Casey is an either/or deal. He’ll take you off-piste for the ultimate Montana ski adventure or he’ll put his handyman skills at your disposal for a week. Which one would you choose?

Single mom Mardie Griffin has a run-down old house in need of fixing and a memory of Jett Casey as her savior in a time of great need. So when her friends acquire Jett’s services at a bachelor auction and send him to fix up her house, she sets aside her mistrust of men and lets him in.

Elite athlete Jett Casey has the world at his feet and no desire for stability. But there’s one woman he’s never forgotten and if he can help make her safe this time, maybe she’ll stop haunting him.

No strings, no sex, no commitment. Just fix things. Surely it can’t be that difficult…

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4. #Zombies! Novella Review: Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Please Remain Calm picks up right where This is Not a Test left off, but from Rhys’ POV.  At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but I actually liked his narration better than Sloane’s.  Rhys is a straight forward kind of guy, and while he is torn up over what he had to do to his parents on the first awful night of the zombie apocalypse, he has done a fairly good job of moving past the ordeal.  While he does suffer from nightmares, he counts himself lucky to be alive, and he is determined to stay that way, so that his parents’ deaths will mean something.  Unlike Sloane, he is not suicidal, and he strives to find some sort of normal in the new horror of his existence.

Rhys and Sloane are headed to Rayfield, where a refugee camp has supposedly been established.  They make a major blunder, though, and are soon running desperately away from a group of zombies.  They are separated, and Rhys is saved by Jesse and Lisa, a couple who are making their way to their safe house in the woods.  They also have their four year old daughter with them, and Jesse is understandably suspicious of Rhys.  He doesn’t trust him, and he doesn’t want to put his small family in danger.  He warns Rhys that if he messes up, he won’t hesitate to eliminate him.

Please Remain Calm has a lot more action than This is Not a Test.  Because Rhys and his new companions are outside, with no shelter, they are tempting targets for roaming zombies.  Regardless of how careful they are, it’s inevitable that there will be encounters with the undead.  They are adrenaline fueled battles for survival, against foes that just don’t stop.  The zombies don’t ever quit, and where there is one, there are usually many more.  Every shadow, every boulder, every tree is a possible hiding place, and the tension kept me flipping the pages.  I gobbled this novella up in short order, and immediately hoped that there will be more in the future.  The ending is ambiguous, leaving everything up in the air, so be forewarned.

Grade:  B / B+

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

In Please Remain Calm, the gripping sequel to Courtney Summers’ This is Not a Test, Rhys and Sloane are headed for a safe haven when they get separated along the way. Rhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more–people who offer him the closest he’ll get to everything he’s lost, if they can just hold on long enough. Rhys thinks he has what it takes to survive and find Sloane, but in a world overrun by the dead, there are no guarantees and the next leg of his journey will test him in unimaginable ways…

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5. Guest Post and Giveaway: Sebastian’s Lady Spy by Sharon Cullen

 

  Please give a warm welcome to Sharon Cullen!  She’s here to chat about spies. 

Top Five Female Spies by Sharon Cullen

First of all I want to thank you for hosting me today. I’m so excited about the release of Sebastian’s Lady Spy. This was a fun book to write because these two characters were so suited for each other but too hard-headed to realize it until it was almost too late.

Usually when we hear about spies, we hear about male spies but there were plenty of female spies throughout the ages that had an impact on history.

Here are five of the more interesting ones:

  1. Belle Boyd was a female spy during the Civil War who ran a hotel and ferried information from union soldiers to confederate soldiers using her maid.

  2. Josephine Baker was a renowned beauty and musician who was cleared to play in France during WWII. She worked for the French resistance passing secret information in her sheet music.

  3. Nancy Wake (my personal favorite) worked for the French resistance during WWII. She cycled more than 500 miles to replace destroyed codes and she killed an SS sentry with her bare hands.

  4. Sarah Emma Edmonds was a master of disguise and actually served in the Union Army during the Civil Was as a man named Frank Thompson.

  5. Mata Hari is an interesting study and probably one of the best known of female spies. She was a courtesan and an exotic dancer from India as well as a spy in WWII. She was shot and killed by the French.

Sebastian’s Lady Spy
Secrets & Seduction # 5

By: Sharon Cullen

Releasing March 31st, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

Seduction abounds in Sharon Cullen’s steamy historical romance! For the Crown’s top agents, love is a hazard best avoided—until an unforgettable affair exposes their undercover hearts.

Sebastian Addison has a powerful secret. To society he is the Earl of Claybrook, the patriarch who raised his siblings after the death of their parents. But to the king, Sebastian is Britain’s top spy—a position that has taken an emotional toll on him. Contessa Gabrielle Marciano has also been living a lie, her title a cover devised by the Office of Intelligence. The femme fatale was plucked from a life of crime and prostitution and trained to restrain her passionate nature. Until she meets the earl.

For three deeply sensual days and nights, Sebastian and Gabrielle drop their masks, indulging in pleasures that seem too good to be true. Then the lovers go their separate ways. Seven months later they reunite when inside sources report that an English aristocrat has been aiding France in a plot to topple the Crown. Their objective: to find the turncoat. Their greatest challenge: to keep their wild, wounded hearts from derailing a mission of life and death.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/sebastians-lady-spy-secrets-seduction-5.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23167091-sebastian-s-lady-spy?ac=1

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/137236-secrets-seduction

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Sharon Cullen is the author of the historical romances The Notorious Lady Anne, Loving the Earl, and Pleasing the Pirate, as well as many novels of romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. If you’d like to find out more about the author and her books, you can visit her blog or her website. She is addicted to social networking so you can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Friend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion: books.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller and Loveswept Mug & Nail Polish)

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6. #Zombies! Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I’ve had a copy of This is Not a Test moldering in my TBR for a while.  I had purchased a print copy from Amazon, but since my reading preferences have changed and I prefer reading eBooks now, it just sat in a box.  Then I noticed that the library had acquired a digital copy, I was in the mood for a zombie story, so I hit the Borrow button.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  First, while it was a gripping read, I had a hard time caring about any of the characters other than Rhys.  Trace is an asshole, Harrison is a crybaby, Cary is willing to do anything to survive, and Grace marches in lockstep with her twin brother Trace for most of the book.  The characters are kind of flat and one-dimensional, and not very interesting.

The story is told by Sloane, in first person present tense.  I liked her, for the most part, but got tired of her angsty feelings of smothering betrayal towards her older sister Lily.  Lily ran away from home six months ago, leaving Sloane alone with their abusive father, and the day Lily left, the world ended for Sloane.  So when the zombie apocalypse happens, it’s anti-climatic for Sloane.  She’s been planning her suicide for months, and when the dead start walking again, she feels that she’s been already dead herself.

When Cary and Rhys find her sitting in the middle of a street, Sloane’s just waiting for her death.  She wants a zombie to get her, so she can stop hurting.  Lily’s absence leaves her in physical pain.  But the boys are in full on rescue mode, and it’s just easier to go with them than to fight them.  Besides, Sloane thinks that she’s nothing like Lily, and she’s not selfish enough to put Cary or Rhys in danger by resisting them.

After the promised sanctuary at the community center is overrun, Sloane, Cary, Rhys, and their small group of survivors make it to the high school.  While they have food, water, shelter, and the safety of solid walls around them, their safe haven came at a price; Trace and Grace’s parents were killed by the undead when they led the way to the school.  Trace and Grace blame Cary for their deaths, because he called the all clear when the alley was teaming with zombies.  Trace can’t forgive Cary, and he makes his hatred for Cary very clear.  The tensions within the small group of survivors is seething with distrust, and I wondered how they would stay in such close quarters without killing each other.

While the pacing is tense, and obstacles repeatedly cause grief for the little band, I had a hard time with all of Sloane’s angst.  I soon became impatient with her.   I wanted to tell her – If you want to die that badly, just go up on the roof and throw yourself off!  Yes, I felt some sympathy for her because the only person in the world she trusted turned out to not be so worthy of her trust, but get over yourself, already!  The zombies gave Sloane a new lease on life.  Her father was gone, his abuse a thing of the past.  The apocalypse gave her the freedom she longed for, and distance from her father, but she never took advantage of the chance to reset her life.  Instead, she allowed Lily’s betrayal to consume her. I found it exhausting.

I did enjoy this enough to immediately check Please Remain Calm out of the library as well.  Let’s see if that works better for me.

Grade:  B-

Review copy purchased from Amazon / Borrowed digital copy from library

From Amazon:


It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life–and death–inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

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7. Review: Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

After reading Vision in Silver, I wanted to read another book with wolves.  While Patricia Briggs’ werewolves have little in common with Anne Bishop’s Wolves, Cry Wolf was a great choice.   I was a little confused at first, but I really enjoyed this story and the characters, and I’m am looking forward to reading the other Alpha and Omega books.

Cry Wolf is my first Briggs’ novel, and because I haven’t read the prequel novella or any of the Mercy Thompson books, I felt a little behind the eight ball at the beginning.  I felt like I was dropped into a conversation at the mid-point, and bits and pieces of the book went over my head.  I had no idea how Anna and Charles’ wolves chose each other, or how Bran, the Marrock of the North American alphas, ended up in Chicago, but I gamely continued on.  While the introduction to the werewolves was a little rocky, the feeling quickly passed, and then it was full steam ahead as Charles tried to save his father from a power-crazed witch intent on binding his will to hers. 

Anna and Charles are definitely at the getting to know you stage, and they are both incredibly awkward with each other.  Anna was treated horribly by her former pack, beaten and abused with the Alpha’s blessing.  Now she’s timid, afraid of dominant males, and she’s struggling to overcome her fears and inability to trust.  Charles is his father’s enforcer, and he’s a werewolf of action.  Because he is so dominant, many of the members of his own pack are fearful of him.  He is a killer for his father, so Charles has closed off his feelings, and he isn’t one for idle chatter.  Add a quiet, traumatized mate to his house, and, well, things don’t exactly go smoothly.

When reports of a rogue wolf reach the Marrock, he sends Charles out to find him and either bring him to the pack or kill him.  Bran wants to make the existence of werewolves public, and he doesn’t need a renegade wolf killing innocent humans.  Against Charles’ wishes, Bran also sends Anna on the hunt.  Anna is an Omega, and he thinks her calming abilities will help Charles bring in the renegade.  It will also give them an opportunity to get to know each other better, without nosy pack members bothering them.

Most of the story takes place in the mountains in Montana.  I loved the setting, though it’s not a place I would want to visit during the winter.  The thought of hiking through hip deep snow is a complete turn off for me, but following along as Anna and Charles battled the elements as well as their foes kept me glued to my Kindle.  Their developing relationship flourished under the harsh and unforgiving conditions they battled, and the threat of death at the hands of their enemies notched up the tension.  I started to worry that they would not get any breaks, and they would fail in their mission, with dire consequences for their pack, and for all of the packs in North America.

I don’t know how I missed out on the Alpha and Omega series for so long.  This introduction to the series has everything I love; a gentle romance, danger, hair-raising action, powerful enemies, and even more powerful heroes, who have to delve into themselves to find the strength and determination to win at any cost.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack…and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’s learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, the enforcer—and son—of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life.

Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna’s inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf—a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten all the pack…

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8. Interview with Sarah Hegger, Author of Nobody’s Angel and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Sarah!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Sarah Hegger] Dog-loving, teen-wrangling, hopeless romantic.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Nobody’s Angel?

[Sarah Hegger] Nobody’s Angel is a redemption story. Recovering alcoholic, Lucy, goes back home to Willow Park to find peace and forgiveness in order to move forward with her life.

Most notably, the former love of her life, Richard Hunter. Lucy broke his heart when she blew out of town nine years ago and it’s a scar that’s never fully healed for either of them.

She discovers that true forgiveness, and peace, come from within. And that her relationship with Richard is far from over.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Sarah Hegger] Oh, boy! How to do this without a spoiler …

One of my favorite scenes is where Lucy approaches the hero, Richard, and delivers an amends. Lucy has to deliver an honest, agenda-free, emotionally raw and ruthlessly honest accounting of her past sins and ask for his forgiveness, as per her AA program. It’s packed full of their history, the underlying current of their unresolved love story, Richard’s anger, Lucy’s regrets, their mutual hurt, and the simmering sexual tension that never goes away between these two. All angsty and steamy. I wept buckets writing this one.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Sarah Hegger] My toothbrush.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Sarah Hegger]

  1. My Nicorette gum, because I gave up smoking about a year ago and still need that little fix to get the creative juices flowing.

  2. My steaming cup of café latte. My husband makes the best coffee. In the world.

  3. My lovely MacBook Air.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Sarah Hegger] Picture my family dry heaving in the background as I say Marmite and toast. Marmite, for North Americans who haven’t had the pleasure, is a bitter, salty yeast extract that is most often spread on toast. And yes, it’s an acquired taste.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Sarah Hegger] Oprah. I’d love to have access to all that hard won wisdom, and meet all the incredible and interesting people she gets to meet.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Sarah Hegger] I’d love to be able to hop instantly from place to place. There never seems to be enough time in the day to be everywhere I need to be. Also, I could whip out of the cold weather and get somewhere warm in the blink of an eye. Can I be invisible at the same time, please? The idea of being where I’m not supposed to be has infinite possibilities.

 

Nobody’s Angel
Willow Park Romance # 1

By: Sarah Hegger

Releasing March 31st, 2015

Zebra

Blurb

In this evocative new series from author Sarah Hegger, a woman returns home after a long absence—and wonders if two wrongs really can make a right…

Nine years ago Lucy Flint ran away to Seattle, taking her friend’s boyfriend and leaving her high school sweetheart without a word of explanation. Now she’s back in Willow Park, Illinois, to help care for her ailing father—and it’s no surprise that her ex, Dr. Richard Hunter, is still angry.

Still, she’s a different Lucy now. Sober, wiser, ready to make amends to the long—make that very long—list of those she mistreated during her wild younger days. Falling for Richard all over again would mean wreaking havoc in both their lives and possibly squandering her opportunity for redemption. But here, in the place where everything went wrong, is the one person who always felt right, and a second-chance that could be the best mistake she ever made…

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wnj4IHOhcuU

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/nobodys-angel-willow-park-1-by-sarah.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22494932-nobody-s-angel?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | ITunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.

Mimicking her globe-trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.She currently lives in Draper, Utah, with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.

She loves to hear from readers and you can find her at any of the places below.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 Rafflecopter Giveaway (Including: (1) $20.00 Amazon Gift Card, (3) $10.00 Amazon Gift Cards, Five Print Copies of NOBODY’S ANGEL (Or Digital for Int. winners))

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9. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–It’s Spring!

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

Well, it may be spring, but it still doesn’t quite feel like it here in Michigan.  With highs in the 30s and lows in the teens, I worry about all of those flowers that are beginning to stir.  The grass is still brown, and our trees still don’t have any leaf activity.  I check every day!  Come on, Mother Nature, give us some green!  St Paddy’s day wasn’t enough.

I spent most of yesterday reading (zombies!), and I plan on doing the same today, after my Sunday morning trip to the barn.  What are you doing today?

Check out my current contests!  See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

A Secret in Her Kiss (.99 for Kindle)

The Truth about Hope

Expressly Yours, Samantha

Overruled

Bits & Pieces (SQUEEEEE!!! I have to catch up on the series now!)

Taking Chances

Still the One

Nothing Like a Cowboy

Four Nights with a Duke

Disciple of the Wind

In Bed with the Bachelor

Getting Lucky

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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10. Spotlight: The Closer You Come by Gena Showalter

 

Gena Showalter has a new book coming out, and she’s here to tell us about the heroine of The Closer You Come, Brook Lynn Dillon.

The heroine in this book is strong and independent.  And she’s also had to struggle her whole life with a disability.  Tell us more about how that came to be in the story?

GS: When I was a teenager, I had episodes where my ears rang so loudly all other sounds were distorted.  During those times, I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand.  I was in and out of the doctor’s office and tested for this and that—I’m fine now, by the way.  I’m completely healed, but I liked the idea of pairing a big, strong he-beast of a man with a vulnerable woman, sending his protective instincts into overdrive.  It’s what ~I~ wanted when I was going through my ordeal.

Gena Showalter

The Closer You Come (The Original Heartbreakers #1)

March 31, 2015

Just released from prison, Jase Hollister has a dark and twisted past.  And now, he has only one goal: stay out of trouble. Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, sounds like the perfect place for him and his two brothers-by-circumstance to settle down and live a nice, simple life. But model citizen isn’t exactly this rugged bachelor’s default setting—especially when it comes to a certain hot-blooded Southern beauty…

Brook Lynn Dillon has always been responsible. Not that it’s done her much good. The down-on-her-luck waitress is broke, single and fun-deprived. Until Jase comes along. He is dangerous, stunningly protective, breathtakingly sexy and as tempting as sin, and the passion sizzling between them is undeniable. But can it melt her resistance? After all, the right kind of trouble might be just what they both need.

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21844938-the-closer-you-come

Buy links:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Closer-You-Come-Original-Heartbreakers-ebook/dp/B00OY9Z90O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423619433&sr=8-1&keywords=gena+showalter+the+closer+you+come

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-closer-you-come-gena-showalter/1120348729?ean=9780373779628

iTunes/iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-closer-you-come/id933738963?mt=11&uo=4

GooglePlay:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Gena_Showalter_The_Closer_You_Come?id=qrYYBQAAQBAJ

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-closer-you-come

About Author
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books in paranormal and contemporary romances, as well as young adult novels. Her series include White Rabbit Chronicles, Angels of the Dark, Otherworld Assassins, Lords of the Underworld, Alien Huntress and Intertwined.

Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, and Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated all over the world. The critics have called her books “sizzling page-turners” and “utterly spellbinding stories”, while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”.

Website: http://members.genashowalter.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/@genashowalter

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/genashowalter

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11. Guest Post and Giveaway: Maeve Greyson, Author of My Highland Lover

Please give a warm welcome to Maeve Greyson!  She’s hijacking the virtual control panel to tell you about her latest release, My Highland Lover.

Hello there! I’m Maeve Greyson and I’m very pleased to be here. My new release, MY HIGHLAND LOVER, the first book in my Highland Hearts series, is Trulie Sinclair’s story. Trulie’s the eldest of four time-traveling sisters and her matchmaking Granny has grand plans for her future—in the past.

Trulie and Granny jump from Kentucky in the year 2014 to Scotland of 1247. Needless to say, the world of 1247 is drastically different—culturally, politically and any other adjective you’d like to slap with an “ly”. But really, you don’t have to look back that many years to realize just how much has changed in the world in a very short time.

Remember when mobile phones were the size of a brick and the only way they’d work was if you had them plugged into the cigarette lighter of your car? Now, not only are some cell phones the size of a playing card, cigarette lighters are no longer a standard feature on a car.

And look at the publishing industry. When I first started writing, to sell a story to a publisher, you had to type a letter, on paper, with a typewriter—and not white-out too many typo’s on the paper so the publisher wouldn’t think the finished letter was a childish, white-out art project instead of a professional correspondence.

Then, you’d mail it. You know—in an envelope, with a stamp? And then wait. And wait. Sitting by the mailbox like a vulture waiting for something to die.

When the glorious day came and that editor from that golden publisher sent you a letter expressing an interest, you printed your story out—neatly typed, double-spaced, one side only with one inch margins. Then you boxed up that ream of paper, lovingly tucked a thank-you-for-not-throwing-me-in-the-slush-pile letter on top and shipped the ten pound box of your story to the wonderful editor. And then you became the mailbox vulture again.

Now, you email when you’re shopping out a story. Or sometimes fill out website forms in hopes of connecting with a particular publisher. Of course, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the vulture part. But trust me; watching for emails is a heckuva lot more comfortable than sitting on a stump beside the mailbox.

My Highland Lover
Highland Hearts # 1

By: Maeve Greyson

Releasing March 24th, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

Maeve Greyson unleashes a thrilling tale of magic and desire as a feisty Southern gal falls into the arms of a rough-hewn Highland chieftain.

As the proprietor of a homeopathic store in rural Kentucky, Trulie Sinclair knows that her neighbors think she’s strange—but they have no idea how strange she really is. Trulie was born in Scotland in the thirteenth century to a line of time-traveling Highlanders. When Trulie’s grandmother convinces her to return to their homeland, Trulie jumps back in time, right onto the powerful chest of Gray MacKenna. Just as his steely good looks send ripples through her body, their fierce attraction will send ripples through the ages.

After his parents murdered, Gray is consumed by thoughts of revenge. As the new chieftain of the MacKenna clan, he has reason to believe that there’s a traitor in his midst, and nothing—not even the bonny lass who suddenly drops from the sky—can distract him from his single-minded pursuit of the culprit. But when Gray learns that this sassy beauty possesses gifts beyond the sparkle in her eye, he allows his gaze, and his heart, to linger. While he hunts for the murderer, Gray finds in Trulie a precious companion—and a timeless love.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/my-highland-lover-highland-hearts-1-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23167115-my-highland-lover?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/137240-highland-hearts

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

No one has the power to shatter your dreams unless you give it to them. That’s been Maeve Greyson’s mantra since she was a girl. When she’s not at the full time day job at the steel mill, Maeve’s writing romances about sexy Highlanders and the women who tame them. Tucked away in a five acre wood, Maeve listens to the wind singing through the trees and hears her characters telling their stories. Her work is proofed by her sharp-eyed dog, Jasper, and her greatest supporter is her long suffering husband of over thirty-five years who’s learned not to throw away any odd sticky notes filled with strange phrases.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to choice book seller, Loveswept Mug and Nail Polish)

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Maeve Greyson, Author of My Highland Lover appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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12. Review: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This isn’t so much a review as a compilation of what I love about The Others series.  There are already a ton of reviews, so instead I’ll try my best to compel you to read Vision in Silver if you haven’t already.

The series just gets better and better.  I have enjoyed seeing how Meg’s introduction to the Lakeside Courtyard has changed the Others, and how they have changed her.  Meg is struggling to understand simple human interactions, since she was isolated by the Controller in her cell at the Compound and she wasn’t allowed to have normal socializations.  A prized belonging, she was valued for her skin, which when cut, causes her to prophesize.  Her man who controlled her made a fortune on her, paid for by Meg with her blood.  Once she was able to run away to the Courtyard, she finally found a measure of independence working as the Others’ Human Liaison.  Now she has to figure out how to survive outside of the Compound, where she finally has a choice over her own life.

Because Meg is addicted to the euphoria that overcomes her when she cuts, she constantly battles the urge to pull out her razor when she thinks there’s a danger to her new friends.  Meg is having a hard time tamping down the need to cut, but under the watchful gazes of the Others who inhabit the Courtyard, she is having some success with her addiction. Until she gives in to the urge and damages some of the relationships she’s worked so hard to develop.  When Meg first arrived at the Courtyard, the Others were indifferent to their new employee.  Sure, they found her amusing, but as her cheerful and caring personality slowly won them over, one by one, they all developed a need to protect her.  Witnessing her losing control of herself shakes the tough Nathan to the core, and I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to get past her lapse in judgment.  Nathan is a protector, so being forced to hurt Meg wounded him deeply.

When Meg first came to the Courtyard, Simon only thought of humans as meat.  Humans working in the Courtyard were off-limits, because I guess even the Others consider eating your employees bad manners, but otherwise, the annoying humans were prey.  By Vision in Silver, there are  two kinds of humans – cleaver meat and the members of Meg’s pack.  Simon, and many of the rest of the Others, realize that there will be advantages to having a pack of humans willing to work for the good of everyone.  With the growth of the Humans First and Last movement, it’s become even more important to have humans they can trust for business dealings with the humans.  As the violence against the Others escalates, Simon begins to wonder if a new type of Others will transform into Humans.  What a scary thought.  The Others are so powerful that the humans have no hope to win a war against them, but they are so arrogant that they don’t even know the many forms of their enemies.  There are older, frightening, and terribly powerful beings in the wild that think of the humans as fleas, and the only thing keeping them from wiping them out is Simon’s experiment in the Courtyard, where humans and Others live together.  I’m curious to see how long this tolerance will last, as the HFL movement continue to strike out at them, as well as betray other humans, all in the name of victory.

As Meg tries to find ways to cope with new situations, she is also given the task of helping the other cassandra sangue who were rescued in Murder of Crows cope with their new surroundings.  Some of the girls are unable to handle the sudden changes that have overwhelmed them, but one girl desperately grasps ahold of the idea of living.  She’s moved to a small settlement, where some Wolves are given guardianship of her.  She refuses to name herself, despite the Wolves urging.   She doesn’t need a name.   She’s uncertain of new surroundings, and thinks that she’s given up one form of captivity for another.  When Jackson gives her colored pencils at her timid request, she’s finally allowed to answer another call instead of cutting herself.  Through her art, her ability to see the future flourishes.  I love, love, loved her chapters, as she slowly, tentatively reached out and explored her new world.  Jackson is just as confused as she is, but he strives to help her settle in and feel more comfortable in her new home.  I got a little teary eyed when she finally gave herself a name.  I hope she has a larger role in the next book.

The emotional pull between Simon and Meg is the slowest burning romance.  Like – ever.  Neither one of them knows how to show their feelings, so they stumble along, trying to figure out just exactly what it is that they are feeling for each other.   Simon gets jealous when others give Meg the attention he wants to, and at the end of a long, hard day, all he wants to do is curl up with her, a movie, and a bowl of popcorn and decompress.  He’s fiercely protective of her, and she is just as protective of him.  There’s a lot of tap dancing here, because nothing between them makes sense to either of them.  You know that Simon is doomed, though, when he thinks of Meg and also thinks “Mine.”  How long before he connects the dots?  Because almost everyone in the Courtyard have already figured it out.

I usually don’t like reading books in a series one right after another.  No matter how talented the author, their writing style begins to grate after too many back to back books, and repeated phrases become distracting.  That did not happen with The Others.  Right after I finished one, I wanted to jump right into the next, and that’s the only bad part about reading a series that is incomplete.  It’s going to be a long, long wait until Marked in Flesh releases next year!

Grade:  A (or I want MOAR NOW!)

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Black Jewels Trilogy transports readers to a world of magic and political unrest—where the only chance at peace requires a deadly price…

The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…

The post Review: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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13. Spotlight and Giveaway: Married to a Perfect Stranger by Jane Ashford

Today we are pleased to sit down with John and Mary Bexley, the protagonists from Jane Ashford’s Married to a Perfect Stranger (March 2015). From February 23rd through March 20th the Bexleys will be answering questions about their relationship at each stop in their tour!

Who is your spouse’s most intimidating family member, of those you’ve met?

Mary: You’d think it would be his eldest brother, because he’s very opinionated. But actually it’s his mother.

John: Really? I choose Mary’s nephew Daniel. He appears to believe he is a wild animal.

Mary: It was just the one bone. And he’s not even two years old.

John: Precisely.

Title: Married to a Perfect Stranger

Author: Jane Ashford

Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015

ISBN: 9781492601906

Time and distance have changed them both…

Quiet and obliging, Mary Fleming and John Bexley marry to please their families and John immediately leaves on a two-year diplomatic mission. Now John is back, and everything they thought they knew about each other was wrong…

It’s disconcerting, irritating—and somehow all very exciting…

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. Her romances have been published all over the world. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Excerpt

John Bexley reined in his hired horse on a slight rise and gazed down at the red brick manor, somnolent under the August sun. Eager as he was to get to London, he’d felt he must detour west into Somerset to fetch Mary. Her family’s decision to put her under the care of a great-aunt while he was away just showed he was right to fear that such a shy, quiet girl couldn’t arrange a journey on her own. And now that he was here, the sight of this place soothed him; it looked the very essence of English country comfort and peace.

John’s knock was answered by an aged butler. He gave his name, stepped in, and inhaled the familiar scents of beeswax polish and potpourri. The place reminded him of his own home farther north. Golden light pooled on the wooden floor and gleamed on the stair rail. In the rooms on either side of the entry, the furnishings were classic and inviting. Mary had certainly had a beautiful and serene spot in which to wait for him. “Mary’s husband,” he added when it seemed as if the old man didn’t know what to do with him. “I believe I am expected.”

“Yes, si…”

A filthy, hysterical chicken shot through the rear door of the dining parlor on his left, skidded in a turn around the table, and raced past him, neck extended, screeching, flapping its mottled wings. A little boy slathered with mud came racing after it, careened off the doorjamb, and staggered across the entryway, leaving streaks and globs of dirt in his wake. The old butler stiffened in horror.

The bird hopped across a flowered sofa in the front parlor, stitching it with muddy tracks, circled the delicate carpet, and looped back toward John. The boy in pursuit slipped, fell, jumped up, and turned to follow. He flapped muddy hands at the fowl in an inept attempt to trap it.

What seemed like a herd of adults jostled into the dining parlor, then surged forward. “Arthur!” snapped a young woman, her voice crackling with authority.

“It isn’t my fault,” the boy shouted over the wild squawking. “I pulled her from the mire. Fox was after her. I never shot her or nothing.”

As the crazed chicken surged past him, John bent, reached, and snatched hold of its legs. When he straightened, he held the muddy bird upside down, at arm’s length, well away from his clothing. It flapped and protested; flakes of dirt dropped to the floor.

“Good!” said the managing female, striding from the dining room into the hall. “Take it from him, Alice, and put it outside at once.”

The middle-aged maid jumped to obey like a subaltern responding to a commanding general. The butler relaxed. The boy stood to attention. “It wasn’t me, I swear,” he repeated. “I rescued ’er. I killed three rats as well. Would have been four, but I…”

“Very well, Arthur,” the woman replied. “Go now and get cleaned up.”

The boy finally noticed the mud sliding from his clothes to the polished floor. His face shifted from defensive to horrified, and he slunk out. In the same moment, John realized that the woman with a voice like a sergeant major was his meek little sparrow of a wife.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Apple

BAM

B&N

Chapters

Indiebound

Kobo

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14. Review: The Sultan’s Harem Bride by Annie West

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

At one time, I loved romances with sheikhs.  I loved the desert setting, the opulent palaces, and the armchair travel.  Current events have diminished some of this enjoyment, though, so it’s with a bit of trepidation that I pick one up any more.  I can’t remove myself from reality enough to enjoy them as exuberantly as I once did.  I saw some positive reviews for The Sultan’s Harem Bride and since it was at the library, I decided to give it a read before diving into Anne Bishop’s Vision in Silver.

The story worked for me because the author didn’t completely ignore current events.  Heroine Jacqui is suffering from PTSD after witnessing a suicide bombing that took the life of her best friend and fellow news correspondent, Imran.  Once a woman who thrived on adventure and danger to get to truth for her news reports, she’s now uncomfortable in crowds, jumpy at loud noises, and drowning in guilt because it was her lead that got her friend killed, while she walked away physically unscathed.  Emotionally, she’s a wreck, and when she’s given the opportunity to research the lives of women who lived in Jazeer’s  harem, she jumps at the chance.  It’s really her last option; she’s quit her foreign correspondent job and is struggling to find something meaningful to  do instead.

She and Asim clash from the get go.  Asim is distrustful of journalists, and he needs to protect his younger sister from more grief from the press.  He can’t believe that his grandmother invited Jacqui to the palace.  Jacqui is also partly to blame for the death of his cousin Imran.  Nobody can know that Samira is hiding at the palace, instead at an island resort, a story he’s carefully fed to the press.  Asim is skeptical of Jacqui’s motives, and he vows to keep a close eye on her.

I enjoyed The Sultan’s Harem Bride, but there were a few elements that marred that enjoyment.  I thought Asim, though he could be a caring man, acted like a jerk too many times, and he always thought the worst of Jacqui, without any basis for his behavior.  Then, after their steamy affair burns up the sheets, he continues to look for a suitable bride to help him rule his country.  His parents had a destructive, toxic relationship, so he refuses to even consider marrying for love, and instead is looking for a biddable woman to give him heirs.  The thought of considering Jacqui for the position never occurs to him, or when it finally does, he dismisses it because she’s all wrong for him.  Really?  She’s good enough to keep as a toy, for however long their attraction lasts,  but she’s not good enough to marry?  I’ve read this trope a few times in the past few months, and it irritates me every time.  It’s hard to actually like the hero when he’s so dismissive of the heroine.    

Despite my reservations, I liked Jacqui and Samira, and I’m looking forward to reading Samira’s story, The Sheikh’s Princess Bride, in April.

Grade:  C / C+

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

WANTED: Desert princess to join harem

Sultan Asim of Jazeer has hundreds of women at his beck and call. So why does he want the only one who threatens to reveal his family’s shameful secrets? 

Journalist Jacqui Fletcher jumped at the chance to write a history of the harem—not to become a sultan’s plaything! But it’s hard to remember her assignment when the sultan’s sensuous caresses spark a fire she’s never experienced before… 

Asim is looking for a pliable princess for a marriage of duty. Brave, beautiful Jacqui couldn’t be more wrong for him. So why does holding her feel so right?

The post Review: The Sultan’s Harem Bride by Annie West appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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15. Spotlight and Giveaway: A Touch of Passion by Bronwen Evans

A Touch of Passion
The Disgraced Lords # 3

By: Bronwen Evans

Releasing March 24th, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

In the latest Disgraced Lords novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans, a vivacious thrill seeker clashes with her dutiful defender—causing irresistible sparks to fly.

Independent and high-spirited, Lady Portia Flagstaff has never been afraid to take a risk, especially if it involves excitement and danger. But this time, being kidnapped and sold into an Arab harem is the outcome of one risk too many. Now, in order to regain her freedom, she has to rely on the deliciously packaged Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, a man who despises her reckless ways—and stirs in her a thirst for passion.

After losing his mother and two siblings in a carriage accident years ago, Grayson Devlin promised Portia’s dying brother that he’d always watch over his wayward sister. But having to travel to Egypt to rescue the foolhardy girl has made his blood boil. Grayson already has his hands full trying to clear his best friend and fellow Libertine Scholar of a crime he didn’t commit. Worse still, his dashing rescue has unleashed an unforeseen and undesired consequence: marriage. Now it’s more than Portia he has to protect . . . it’s his battered heart.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/a-touch-of-passion-disgraced-lords-3-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22588939-a-touch-of-passion?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/112847-the-disgraced-lords

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Author Info

USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She has always indulged her love of storytelling and is constantly gobbling up movies, books, and theater. Is it any wonder she’s a proud romance writer? Evans is a two-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

Author Links Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

EXCERPT

Cyprians’ Ball, London, 1813

“I’m surprised Lord Blackwood has graced us with his presence. It’s common knowledge he’s enamored with the French ballerina Juliette Panache. I doubt he’s in the market for another mistress.”

“With his appetites, he no doubt has a stable of mistresses.”

“True. I heard he once pleasured ten women in one night.”

Lady Portia Flagstaff moved closer to the group of courtesans salivating over Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, as if he were a succulent feast to be devoured. Many years of experience allowed her to damp down her jealousy. She could hardly blame any woman for lusting after Lord Blackwood. She counted herself, along with most of England’s females, among his panting throng.

Being madly in love with Grayson was her penance for having being so mean to him when they were younger. She’d tried everything she knew to exile him from her thoughts, but it was hard to forget him when he was the talk of the ton.

Lord Blackwood had entered her life just before her tenth birthday. He had always been her elder brother Robert’s best friend, but the day he’d moved permanently into their home, she’d cried in her room for hours. Why did it have to be Grayson, a boy, who had survived his family’s carriage accident? She already had five brothers. How could life be so unfair?

Grayson’s sister, Lucinda, had been her friend, and she couldn’t understand why she’d died when Grayson hadn’t. Portia was too young and frightened to understand, so she’d blamed him.

Lucinda’s death was her first introduction to how precarious life could be. Almost dying from lung fever at sixteen had been her second lesson. From that moment on she’d made a vow to live her life to the fullest. She wanted no regrets when death finally came calling.

“They say he can outlast any man, and his lovers speak of his prowess with awe. He cares more about a woman’s pleasure than his own—rare indeed. His kind of loving is priceless. I’d even do him for free.” This statement was followed by a gaggle of giggles.

“I’m more interested in learning if he is truly hung like a stallion. If so, I’d love to explore the evidence.” More giggles.

“ ’Tis true. Claudette said she could barely walk for a week, but it was well worth the two days spent in his bed.” This statement was followed by a collective sigh.

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller, Loveswept Mug and Nail Polish)

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16. Review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I’m bummed that Touched by an Alien did not work for me.  I thought there was too much telling and not enough doing, and it got annoying after a while.  I hit the 52% mark and decided that this rental was going back to the library.  Even though this book didn’t win me over, I am still interested in the series and I’ll probably give Alien Tango a whirl (sorry for the awful pun!).  I don’t know if all of the set up is what bogged things down, so I need to do a little more research to know for sure.

I liked Kitty and her family, but the gorgeous aliens attempting to help save the world were both smug and annoying.  Christopher was a jerk, and I don’t know if he redeemed himself or not because I set the book aside.  Jeff Martini was too good to be true.  An empath, he has an unfair advantage to wooing Kitty because he knows what she’s feeling.  I thought that was kind of creepy, and it gave Jeff the upper hand in their relationship.  If the Alpha Centauris weren’t such terrible liars, I could not have bought into their romance at all.  Since he can’t lie to save his life, I’m taking the leap and assuming that he can’t manipulate Kitty’s feelings without her catching on either. 

The book started out promisingly.  Kitty is minding her own business, headed back to work after an early dismissal from jury duty, when a domestic dispute breaks out in front of her.  Things get ugly when the man turns into a winged super powered being who can fling blades from his wings, causing chaos, death, and destruction.  Instead of running away, Kitty grabs the only weapon in her possession, a pen, and kills the monster.  I loved that!  Here’s a bad ass heroine who can’t run away and save herself, but instead has to take matters into her own hands and try to stop the mindless killing that’s taking place in front of her.  Things kind of took a downward spiral after, though.

When she’s whisked away back a gang of impeccably dressed, drop-dead gorgeous men, she learns that they are aliens, and they’ve come to Earth to try to save it from parasitic beings that turn people into super powered monsters. All of the background info is fed to the reader through long-winded dialog, which quickly got boring.  I probably wouldn’t have read as far as I did if it wasn’t for another monster attack, and the introduction of Kitty’s mom, who is every bit a bad ass as her daughter.  She’s also a secret agent, and she quickly takes charge of the alien situation.  Her dad enters the picture soon after, and he’s just as fun as her mom. 

The endless verbal barrages, with their accompanying info dumps, finally had me setting the book aside.  I liked Kitty and her parents, though, so I’m going to give the next book a try, with hopes that once the series is more established, there will be more doing and less jaw flapping.  Are any of you reading the series?  What do you think?

Grade:  DNF

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

Marketing manager Katherine “Kitty” Katt had just finished a day on jury duty. When she stepped out of the Pueblo Caliente courthouse, all she was thinking about was the work she had to get caught up on. Then her attention was caught by a fight between a couple that looked like it was about to turn ugly. But ugly didn’t even begin to cover it when the “man” suddenly transformed into a huge, winged monster right out of a grade Z science fiction movie and went on a deadly killing spree. In hindsight, Kitty realized she probably should have panicked and run screaming the way everyone around her was doing. Instead she sprinted into action to take down the alien.

In the middle of all the screeching and the ensuing chaos, a hunk in an Armani suit suddenly appeared beside her, introduced himself as Jeff Martini with “the agency,” and then insisted on leading her to a nearby limo to talk to his “boss.” And that was how Kitty’s new life among the aliens began…Touched by an Alien is the thrilling first installment of the Alien novels.

The post Review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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17. Spotlight and Giveaway: Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks

Howdy! In honor of the launch of Cheryl Brooks’ new erotic western series here’s a little intro to a few of the sexy cowboys – and one cowgirl – that appear in the first book in the series, COWBOY HEAVEN.

Angela McClure

Born and raised on a Wyoming cattle ranch, Angela Kincaid McClure had to grow up fast following the death of her mother at a young age. An only child, she has been the lone woman on the Circle Bar K for most of her life, and her father has always discouraged fraternization with the cowboys employed on the ranch. Angela married her high school sweetheart, Cody McClure, and enjoyed a very happy marriage, raising two sons who have no interest in ranching. With her father aging rapidly, Angela and Cody took over the running of the ranch until Cody was killed in a fall from his horse. Recovering from his loss has taken some time, but after two years, Angela’s interest is once again focused on male companionship. Unfortunately, no one seems the slightest bit interested in taking on her forty-two-year-old self or the ranch. Her father believes she should marry the ranch foreman, Rufus Bentley, but though Angela had a crush on him in her youth and the sixty-year-old foreman is still attractive, his total lack of personality and stern attitude leaves her cold. She’s had her eye on Dusty Jackson, a handsome cowboy employed on the ranch, but she has never received the slightest hint that he might see her as a love interest. Love-starved and lonely, Angela finally finds solace when she picks up stranded rodeo cowboy Troy Whitmore and makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

Dusty Jackson

Born Dustin David Jackson on a ranch in eastern Wyoming, Dusty has never been anything but a cowboy. Something of a loner, after graduating high school, he drifted from ranch to ranch, eventually ending up on the Circle Bar K. He likes the people he works with but there are other reasons for staying on, and just as many reasons to leave. Blessed with good looks and a ready wit, he’s more than a match for the men he works alongside, but when he’s around Angela McClure, words fail him. He knows exactly what he wants, but he also knows that once he takes that first step, there will be no turning back.

Troy Whitmore

Troy Whitmore was born and raised on a ranch in western Oklahoma. He could ride almost before he could walk and was winning prizes at the junior rodeos by the age of six. Too handsome for his own good, women have always been plentiful, but with a tendency to hop from woman to woman and live just a teensy bit beyond his means, by the age of thirty, he needs a woman with enough money to sponsor his rodeo career. When his last “sponsor” dumps him on the side of the highway while en route to the rodeo in Jackson Hole, he’s picked up by Angela McClure, a forty-something widow with an eye for a handsome cowboy and an imagination that fills in where reality leaves off. He’s more than willing to add the perk of sex with the boss to his new job on Angela’s ranch, but soon discovers that the rodeo circuit isn’t the only place where he faces some stiff competition.

What is your favorite way to relax?

Angela: Going for a ride on Apache, my big, bad Paint gelding.

Dusty: I like to sit in front of the fire with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Troy: *smiling* After reading my bio, do you really need to ask that question?

Cowboy Heaven

By Cheryl Brooks

Sourcebooks Casablanca

Erotic Western Romance

March 3, 2015

ISBN: 9781492607458

Trade Paperback $13.99

Buy: Amazon | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

When you find yourself in cowboy heaven…

When lonely widow Angela McClure hires a gorgeous hitchhiking cowboy with an affair in mind, she knows they’ll have to be discreet: her old-fashioned father and the stern ranch foreman adamantly discourage any interaction between her and the ranch hands.

Things can get hot as hell…

Despite their attempts at secrecy, the heat between them is undeniable. To divert suspicion, Angela forms a new plan: she’ll flirt with all of the ranch hands. Suddenly Angela has a whole stable full of sexy-as-sin cowboys to play with, but only one can win her heart.

Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse turned romance writer. Her Cat Star Chronicles series includes Slave, Warrior, Rogue, Outcast, Fugitive, Hero, Virgin, Stud, Wildcat, and the newest release, Rebel. She is a member of the RWA and IRWA and lives with her husband and sons near Bloomfield, Indiana.

Connect with Cheryl Brooks: Facebook | Twitter | Website

Praise for Cheryl Brooks:

“Really sexy. Sizzling kind of sexy. Honestly, only Cheryl Brooks can deliver a line like, ‘I can give you joy unlike any you have ever known’ and make you want to melt.”

Bitten by Books

“Ms. Brooks delivers plenty of sexual tension, suspense, and pleasure in simply being alive.”

Romance Junkies

“Incredibly sexy and wonderful to read all around.”

Night Owl Romance

“Fun…unique…and wicked sexy! Cheryl Brooks knows how to keep the heat on and the

reader turning pages!” —Sydney Croft

 

Excerpt from Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks – Chapter 1

There he was again. That same cowboy I’d seen on the drive into town, still walking, still carrying a big green duffel bag on one shoulder and a saddle slung over the other. He’d been traveling in the opposite direction and hadn’t bothered to look up as I’d passed him earlier. I’d barely glimpsed his face then, but I saw it quite clearly now. A glance over his shoulder revealed his bleak, exhausted expression. He might have been near the point of collapse, but he obviously wasn’t prepared to admit defeat.

Not yet, anyway.

I couldn’t believe no one had picked him up in the three hours since I’d last seen him. He hadn’t looked very fresh even then. I had no idea where he was headed, but in the middle of Wyoming, there wasn’t much within walking distance, no matter where you were going.

He turned toward me, sticking out a halfhearted thumb as I came closer, his face streaked with dirt and sweat and what might have been tears. A black Stetson shadowed his eyes, and his boots and jeans were dusty and worn. His sweat-soaked denim shirt clung to his chest, unbuttoned halfway to his waist, the sleeves ripped out. He probably wasn’t trying to look cool, even though he did. No, he was likely trying to get cool, in any way he possibly could. My truck was air-conditioned and comfortable, and there was plenty of room for him and his meager belongings. I could no more have left him there than I could have ignored a starving child.

As I pulled over to stop, his eyes closed and his lips moved as though uttering a prayer of thanks. His knees buckled slightly, and for a moment, I thought he truly would collapse. Instead, he took a deep breath and stood up straight. Lifting his chin, he aimed luminous blue eyes at me and flashed a dazzling smile. His silver belt buckle suggested this man was no ordinary ranch hand but a down-on-his-luck rodeo cowboy who, unless I missed my guess, was heading for Jackson Hole.

A real heartbreaker of a rodeo cowboy, too. Up close, he was even more handsome than he’d been from a distance. Long and lean with tanned, muscular arms, dimples creased his cheeks and black hair curled enticingly from the open edges of his shirt. Several days’ growth of dark beard surrounded full, sensuous lips, darkening a jaw that my fingertips ached to caress. More ebony curls peeked from beneath his hat, making me long to yank off that Stetson to discover what else it was hiding. Oh yes, there was enough gorgeous cowboy to sway a much stronger woman than I ever claimed to be. Tears stung my eyes as something in his expression reminded me of Cody.

My dear, sweet Cody… He’d been gone for two years now, but I hadn’t forgotten that look, and I doubted I ever would.

Determined to mask my roiling emotions, I searched for something amusing to say as I rolled down my window. “Lost your horse?”

My clever tongue was rewarded with another heart-stopping smile. Cody used to say funny things just to make me giggle—which wasn’t difficult since I tend to find humor in nearly any situation—but brushing up on my own repertoire of one-liners to keep this guy smiling seemed like an excellent idea.

His grin was sheepish as he tipped up the brim of his hat. “He sort of drove off without me.”

“Drove off?” I scoffed. “Somehow I doubt that. Seems like he would’ve needed help.”

My handsome cowboy gave me a grim nod. “Oh, he had help all right. My girlfriend dumped me on the highway and took off with the truck, the trailer, and the horse—all of which were actually hers, by the way. She was kind enough to leave me my saddle and my clothes, although a cell phone would’ve been nice.”

I shook my head. “Nice, yes. Helpful, no. They don’t work very well around here. Which kinda makes me mad—I mean, where would you need a phone more than if you were stranded out in the middle of nowhere?”

He glanced around at the vast expanse of sunbaked rangeland. “Is that the name of this place? Nowhere?”

“Sure is.” I couldn’t help giggling. “Want to get out of nowhere?”

“Yes, please,” he replied. “And as quickly as possible.”

“Throw your stuff in the back and hop in,” I said. “We’ll leave nowhere and go…somewhere.”

He did as I suggested, and suddenly the interior of my truck was filled with the pungent aroma of hot, sweaty, dusty—but cologned—cowboy. He’d most likely showered that morning, but it had been one helluva day. The forecast called for the upper nineties—quite a heat wave even for mid-August—and though the humidity was low, some temperatures are best avoided no matter how dry the air.

“You’re a lifesaver,” he said. “I thought that sun was gonna roast me alive.”

“As hot as it gets in these parts, I never go anywhere without water, enough food for a couple of meals, and an umbrella in case I’m ever forced to hike. Want a sandwich?”

“You bet.”

I tossed a nod over my shoulder. “The cooler’s on the backseat. Help yourself. There’s plenty of water.” Although, at that point, a cold beer probably would have been his first choice.

He pulled out two bottles of water and a sandwich, downing the first bottle in three swallows.

“Better now?”

“Much.”

“Let’s see now…” I said as he unwrapped the sandwich. “A cowboy dumped in the middle of nowhere with a saddle and no horse. There’s got to be a country song in that.”

“If you mean a song about a guy bein’ picked up by a girl in a flatbed Ford, I think the Eagles already did that one.”

“I love that song,” I said wistfully. “Guess I always wanted to be that girl.”

“Well, now you are.” He took a bite of the sandwich, chewing it quickly. “How does it feel?”

“Not much different.” This wasn’t entirely true. I wasn’t in the habit of picking up gorgeous cowboys—and this particular cowboy’s presence had me feeling strangely excited. Oh yes, I was very aware of him, and if my brain hadn’t noticed him, my erogenous zones were there to remind me. “For one thing, this isn’t a flatbed Ford, and I’m not what anyone would call a girl anymore.”

He paused in mid-bite. “Why? Have you had a sex-change operation?”

“Nope,” I replied with another giggle. “You can’t call a forty-two-year-old a girl. Well, maybe you could if you happened to be eighty-two yourself, but I’m pretty sure I outgrew the girl category a long time ago—about the time that song was popular.”

Despite the fact that I never once took my eyes off the road, I was aware of his prolonged scrutiny—an assessing gaze that left delightful tingles in its wake.

“Some things improve with age.” He turned toward the window. “You don’t seem like the type to dump a guy in the middle of nowhere.”

Having heard the catch in his voice, I did my best to keep my tone light. Bursting into tears in front of a perfect stranger probably wasn’t on his bucket list. “True—unless he was really obnoxious.”

This particular cowboy would have to have been homicidal or, at the very least, abusive for me to throw him out. He was the most adorable cowboy I’d ever laid eyes on, including the one I’d married.

“I wasn’t being obnoxious.” He fairly bristled with indignation, which seemed to have won out over heartbreak. “I was asleep. I thought she was stopping for gas when I felt the truck slow down. She asked me to take a look at the tires on the trailer, said she thought one had gone flat. While I was checking the tires, she dumped my saddle and duffel bag on the side of the road and drove off. I found this tucked into the saddle.” Reaching into his shirt pocket, he handed me a torn, sweat-soaked scrap of paper.

It’s not working out. Sorry.

“Ouch,” I said with a sympathetic wince. “That’s pretty hard.”

“Yeah.” With an absent nod, he stuffed the note back into his pocket. “I don’t even know what I did wrong. Don’t guess I ever will.”

He seemed nice enough, and he certainly wasn’t ugly. Maybe his girl had breakup issues. As irresistible as he was, I couldn’t imagine breaking his heart while gazing into those eyes of his, and I didn’t even know his name.

She’d probably gone about it the best way possible—a quick, clean break before losing her nerve completely. One glance, one smile, and she’d have forgotten why their relationship wasn’t working. I wasn’t looking forward to dropping him off at the crossroad to the ranch, myself. I had a sudden, overwhelming urge to take him home and wash him, feed him, and tuck him into bed—my bed, to be precise.

I had my doubts about that part. He couldn’t have been more than thirty, and young men generally didn’t seek solace from older women—not that kind of solace, anyway. Consoling him seemed impossible, so I changed the subject.

“Where were you headed?”

“The rodeo in Jackson Hole,” he replied. “I’m a rodeo cowboy.”

“No shit,” I drawled. “I’d never have guessed that. I don’t suppose your girl left you with any money, did she? I mean, I’m not going to charge you for the ride or the lunch, but I’m not going all the way to Jackson Hole, either.”

“I didn’t figure you were.” His downcast expression suggested his hope that he’d been wrong about that. “But at the time, I didn’t really care.”

“Neither did I. I wouldn’t have left you there no matter where you were going. It was…well, let’s just say it was something I couldn’t bring myself to do.”

“Pick up lots of strays, do you?” Turning sideways, he leaned back against the door, a move that not only drew my eye, but also gave me a full-frontal view that made my breath catch in my throat. Oh yes, I’d taken in lots of strays, but none that were anywhere near as attractive.

I shook my head. “Actually picking them up usually isn’t necessary. They all seem to know where I live.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, where do you live? I mean, are we close?”

Obviously, he hoped I lived somewhere near Jackson Hole. I hated to disappoint him. “It’s about another twenty miles—most of which are not on the main highway. I’ll let you out at the turnoff, if that’s okay with you.”

His face fell, but he nodded, apparently resigned to the fact that this ride wasn’t going to be more than a brief respite. “Not much choice, is there?” He gave a fatalistic shrug. “I don’t have enough money on me to pay you to take me to Jackson Hole. I really should pay you for what you’ve already done.”

I caught myself wishing that he did have enough money—or that he would ask me to run off with him and follow the rodeo circuit, never going home at all. I would have loved to throw caution to the wind and do just that, but I had too many responsibilities. Not only did I have a ranch to run, but I also had my father and my kids to look after.

No, scratch that. Chris and Will were both in college. I had a hard time remembering that except when confronted with the sight of their empty rooms as I passed by them every day. Out on the highway I could pretend they were both there at home waiting for me—and Cody, too.

No, regardless of how much money this man might offer to pay me, I couldn’t shirk my duties and simply up and disappear. Nor would I accept his money. He obviously needed to hold on to what little he had stashed in those jeans.

“I couldn’t possibly take money from you,” I protested. “I wouldn’t be much of a Good Samaritan if I did, would I?”

“I suppose not.”

He shrugged again and we drove on in silence. Remaining slouched against the door, he draped his left arm across the headrest and bent up one knee, stretching his legs apart enough that my eyes were continually landing on that section of blue jeans due south of that big, silver belt buckle. From time to time he shifted his hips as though my glances made him uncomfortable, and while I did try to keep my eyes on the road, every once in a while they would stray back to him—and that enticing bulge in his jeans…

“What would it take to get you to drive me all the way to Jackson Hole?” The hint of suggestion in his voice startled me almost as much as the abrupt nature of his query.

Suddenly, my mouth was as dry as a gulch. Reaching for my bottle of water, I took a sip and stole another peek at him. Those luminous eyes peered at me from beneath lids that were heavy with sensuous intent.

His lips curled into a provocative smile. “I’d be willing to bet there’s something I could do for you that would pay you back—or at least make it worth your while.”

COWBOY DELIGHT

By Cheryl Brooks

Erotic Western Romance e-novella

FREE on all retailers: Kindle | Kobo | Nook

“Out-of-this-world sexy… Brooks’ writing brings the eroticism to life.” —Long and Short Reviews

Getting stranded has never felt so good…

Lauren Allen is on her way to meet her future in-laws when her car breaks down on a scorching, dusty Texas highway. There’s no shortage of handsome cowboys turning up to save the day, but she puts her trust in local rancher Steve Williams. From the moment she shakes his hand, his warm, calloused grip makes her hotter than she knows what to do with…

Rafflecopter Giveaway – 3 copies of COWBOY HEAVEN by Cheryl Brooks

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18. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–Spring is in the Air!

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

Last week was a trying week, so I didn’t have the energy to spend much time on the blog.  My time away from work was spent with the dogs, the horses, or reading and decompressing, and I finished Anne Bishop’s Vision in Silver.  The book was just what I needed to escape from reality, but now I’m sad that I’m caught up in the series.  It will be a long wait until the next one!

Temperatures are finally warming up, and Spring is in the air!  It’s nice to hear the birds again in the morning.  Winter is bleak and devoid of most animal sounds, so it’s nice to hear something other than the wind howling through the bare tree limbs.

How was your week?  Did you read anything good or do anything fun?

Check out my current contests!  See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:


The Cowboy’s Homecoming

The Waterborne Blade

Midnight Thunder

One Night with Her Bachelor

Mine Tonight

Brokedown Cowboy

Touched by an Alien

Possessed by a Wolf

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

 Subscribe in a reader

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19. Small Town, Large Hearts Blog Tour and Giveaway

I have a Q & A with Grace Burrowes, Samantha Chase, Andrea Laurence, and Sharon Sala, as well as a giveaway for you enter.  Enjoy!

What can you tell us about the small town setting of your new romance?

Samantha Chase (author of RETURN TO YOU): The south shore of Long Island had always been my heroine Selena’s home. Born and raised minutes from the beach, she always dreamed that it would be where she’d find love, raise a family and live happily ever after. The small coastal town really hadn’t been part of James Montgomery’s plan for his own life, after meeting Selena, it’s suddenly a very appealing part of his future.

Grace Burrowes (author of KISS ME HELLO): Damson Valley lies in rural Maryland, about an hour away from both Washington, DC, and Baltimore. The Appalachian Mountains give the town a protected, bucolic feel, despite the proximity of big city lights. My hero attorney MacKenzie Knightley loved growing up with his brothers on a farm right outside Damson Valley, and was all too happy to go into practice with both James and Trent. The Knightley farm is now owned by foster mom Sidonie Lindstrom, who has moved away from Baltimore to give her foster son a better start in life. Sid has no patience for small town life, though before too long, the scenery does catch her interest…

Andrea Laurence (author of FEEDING THE FIRE): If you’re willing to turn your car off the highway and venture from the beaten path, you might be lucky enough to run across a town like Rosewood, Alabama. Steeped in southern charm and the traditional values of God, Family and Football (although not always in that order), Rosewood is like a time capsule preserving everything modern cities have lost. Here, you’ll find homemade pies, perfectly brewed sweet tea, and beauty parlors filled with lively gossip. It’s the kind of town where everybody knows everybody – and everybody knows your business whether you like it or not! Thanks for stopping by. Sit a spell and tell us what you know.

Sharon Sala (author of I’LL STAND BY YOU): Blessings, Georgia is a typical small Southern town. The city grew up around the Court House built in the town square. They have an elementary school and one high school, the local eating/meeting place called Granny’s Country Kitchen, a newspaper and a small fire department, a police station with a police chief and a couple of deputies. In the summer it abounds in glorious color – blooming azaleas, huge oak trees along city streets – manicured lawns and flower beds bursting with color. One side of town appears cookie cutter perfect – nice houses with pretty landscaped yards and lives and then the others who live on the other side of the railroad track.  Same kind of people – just less money to flaunt. There are kind people and stingy people and people with dreams that never come true. And some who still believe in the good in everyone and happy ever afters on both sides of the track.

What’s the best part of dating in a small town? The worst?

Grace Burrowes: As Mac finds out the first time he shares a meal with Sid, he has no privacy. None. Everybody from his old choir director, to his neighbors, to former (and happily married) girlfriends are on hand to report that Mac Knightley was kissed in public by a curvy little gal who now owns the Knightley farm. Yikes!

The good news is that everybody—everybody—is rooting for Mac and Sid to find true love, from Mac’s brothers, to the neighbors, to his little nieces AND their imaginary unicorns.

How did your characters get to your small town?

Samantha Chase: Selena was born and raised in town. It was her world and she hadn’t ever thought of leaving it except for college. James moved there at sixteen to live with relatives after he essentially ran away from his own family in North Carolina. What is ironic is that it’s Selena who ends up moving away – willingly – and James is the one to stay. 

Small towns tend to be quiet – what do your characters do for entertainment?

Andrea Laurence: Pepper isn’t much for entertainment. She spends most of her time working at Curls or working on her run-down house. Every penny goes into her house. Grant works twelve-hour alternating shifts at the firehouse, so his schedule is pretty crazy too. There’s plenty of community events like the Valentine Bachelor Auction, but I think the two of them would much rather entertain themselves at home with a Redbox movie, some wine and some alone time in each other’s arms.

Where is the best “date spot” in your small town?

Sharon Sala: Almost always it begins at Granny’s Country Kitchen and the Friday night all-you-can-eat shrimp special, or a leisurely drive to nearby Savannah, for some big city wining and dining.

About the Authors and Books

Sharon Sala

Sharon Sala is a long-time member of RWA, as well as a member of OKRWA. She has 100 plus books in print under her name and her pen name, Dinah McCall. She is published in five different genres – Romance, Young Adult, Western, Fiction, and Women’s Fiction. First published in 1991, she’s an eight-time RITA finalist, winner of the Janet Dailey Award, four-time Career Achievement winner from RT Magazine, five time winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, and five time winner of the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence, winner of the Heart of Excellence Award, as well as winner of the Booksellers Best Award. In 2011 she was named RWA’s recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Her books are New York Times , USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly best-sellers. Writing changed her life, her world, and her fate.

I’LL STAND BY YOU releases June 2, 2015. You can preorder the title here: http://amzn.to/1wzioDG

Grace Burrowes

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes’ bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish and Lady Eve’s Indiscretion. The Heir was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010, The Soldier was a PW Best Spring Romance of 2011, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish won Best Historical Romance of the Year in 2011 from RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight was a Library Journal Best Book of 2012, and The Bridegroom Wore Plaid was a PW Best Book of 2012. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.

KISS ME HELLO releases March 3, 2015. You can order the title here: http://amzn.to/1GzO387

Andrea Laurence

Andrea Laurence has been a lover of reading and writing stories since she learned to read at a young age. She always dreamed of seeing her work in print and is thrilled to finally be able to share her special blend of sensuality and dry, sarcastic humor with the world. A dedicated West Coast girl transplanted into the Deep South, she’s working on her own “happily ever after” with her boyfriend and their collection of animals including a Siberian Husky that sheds like nobody’s business.

FEEDING THE FIRE releases March 16, 2015. You can preorder the title here: http://amzn.to/1ADp431

Samantha Chase

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan’s Return, in November 2011. Although she waited until she was in her 40’s to publish for the first time, writing has been a lifelong passion. Her motivation to take that step was her students: teaching creative writing to elementary age students all the way up through high school and encouraging those students to follow their writing dreams gave Samantha the confidence to take that step as well.
When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading contemporary romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

RETURN TO YOU releases March 3, 2015. You can order the title here: http://amzn.to/1EV1EpC

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20. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–Viva Las Vegas!

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

Last week, Dean and I packed our bags and headed to Las Vegas.  We stayed at the Venetian, in an impressively large standard suite, and spent our vacation strolling along the Strip, playing slot machines, and eating.  It was a nice, relaxing week, and I managed to stay disconnected from my devices for most of the trip, so that was a nice break, too.

Here are some pix:

Part of our suite.  I loved the room.  It was spacious and clean, and it made me want to actually spend time in it.

The other part of the suite.  The shades/blinds were controlled by a remote. Our view wasn’t anything special, but it was still fun to see all of the lights at night. 

One of my favorite slots.  I actually won a little bit on this one.

 

The whole city was celebrating the Year of the Goat, and all of the hotels were decked out with colorful displays.  Wish we had visited during the Year of the Horse.

But not to worry, I did find many horses around the casinos.

Another horse – this one at the Forum Shops.

This slot machine gets props for the bonus rounds, which allowed me to relive some of the scenes from the movie.  I just love Tony Stark.

I won a little bit on this slot machine, too.  I play pennies, and quit as soon as I double my money (I start with $10).  I tripled my pennies on this one, and between OMG! Kittens, Puppy Plunder, and Fiesta Chihuahua, I broke even on the gambling. 

It’s been about 10 years since we’ve been to Vegas, and the price of food gave me sticker shock.  Many of the smaller casinos changed hands, too, and are now owned by brand name corps.  The Imperial Palace, the first place we stayed the first we visited (that was a long, long time ago, and even back then it desperately needed a rehab!) is now the LINQ, and they are remodeling the rooms – I’m curious to see what the finished product looks like.

I actually spent most of my time in the casinos glued to my Kindle – Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop was fantastic, and since I didn’t want to end up in a gambling hole, I stopped playing the slots.  I think Dean felt bad, because he was having fun playing Bundles of Cash, and he thought I was bored.  Nope, I was more than content to locate one of the machines in yet another casino so he could play, and I could settle back and read.  I even indulged in a Mud Slide, which was yummy, but I’m not supposed to drink because of my asthma meds, so I enjoyed one and over-indulged on gelato instead.

Have you been to Vegas?  What’s your favorite casino? 

Check out my current contests!  See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:


The Closer You Come

Edge of Dark

Public Enemies

The Haunting of the Sunshine Girl

Searching for Beautiful

Mist-Torn Witches

Witches with the Enemy

A Girl Undone

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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21. Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

ZOMG!  These books!  This series!  I’m going to gush, and I just can’t help myself!  It’s rare when I come across a series that sucks me in with the strength of a Dyson vac on steroids, and Anne Bishop manages to do just that.  I read Written in Red in December, and it was one of the best books I’d read last year.  I didn’t write a review because, gosh, I just didn’t know how to put my thoughts into words.  I still don’t, but I’ll try anyway.

I didn’t rush out to read Written in Red because I don’t remember loving the first two Black Jewels books.  I read them so long ago, though, that maybe my memory is faulty.  Or my reading tastes have changed.  But when I was offered a review copy of Vision in Silver, I thought, what the heck.  Written in Red was on sale for $1.99 at the time, and the library had Murder of Crows, so I cautiously entered the world of Meg Corbyn and the mysterious, dangerous Others.  I’m hooked!

Meg is a cassandra sangue, a blood prophet.  Murder of Crows picks up where Written in Red left off; Meg has settled in with the Others as their human liaison.  She’s basically their mail carrier, and she accepts, sorts, and delivers the parcels the terra indigene , or the Others, order from the humans.  There is an uneasy peace between the humans and the definitely not human Others, but it’s a precarious peace at best.  The humans are tolerated by the powerful Others only as long as they provide something they want, otherwise, the humans are reduced to one thing. If they have nothing to offer, then the humans are prey.  It’s as simple as that to the Others.  Either a human is somewhat useful and they are allowed to live unmolested, or they are special meat.

Meg is special because of the power in her blood, so she is in the not prey category, and that designation is non-negotiable.  The blood prophets are wonderful and terrible creations.  Some evil humans are exploiting them, selling their prophesies to the highest bidder, as well as using their blood to poison the Others.  The cassandra sangue feel euphoria after being cut, which releases their prophesies, but they also come with an expiration date.  Supposedly, their skin can only be cut a thousand times, and then they go mad or die.  They are virtually slaves to greedy, powerful men who use them for their own gain, keeping them carefully segregated and ignorant of the rest of society. 

Murder of Crows notches up the tension between humans and the Others.  Humans First and Last, an organization intent on destroying the Others, is striking out at their enemies, heedless of how the Others will react.  They seem to have forgotten how powerful the Others are, and that humans are allowed to remain in their towns and cities, on land rented from the Other, only because the Others find them useful.  When the Crows are singled out for murder, the Others don’t respond well to the threat to their kind. 

The series is engrossing and hard to put down.  Anne Bishop made the Others seem, well, not human.  I love the world building, and I love learning more about the creatures that populate it.  Simon Wolfgard is the leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and he and Meg have a lot to learn about each other.  Their first interactions are awkward, and growly Simon often leaves Meg frightened and uncomfortable.  Simple misunderstandings threaten to burst into violence with all of the Others, and Meg has to carefully navigate her new surroundings.  She’s at an even greater disadvantage because she was kept sheltered and ignorant in the Controller’s compound.  She manages to make friends among her new employers, and slowly gains their trust, and even wins the protection of one of the most powerful Others in Lakeside.

I love the Elementals, who bring devastating destruction as casually as flicking their fingers.  And the ponies.  OMG! The ponies!  Chubby and grumpy, they reluctantly assist Meg with her delivery duties (she has to bribe them with treats).  But then, when danger strikes, suddenly, they aren’t chubby little ponies anymore.  They are majestic, terrifying beasts of thunder, lightning, and fog.  I freaking love the ponies!

Meg is hard to dislike, too.  She is one of the most selfless heroines I’ve ever been introduced to.  She knows that she can only cut herself some many times, and that cutting herself is inherently dangerous because she can cut too deeply and bleed to death, but when she feels that her new friends are in danger, out comes her blade.  She’s also one of the bravest characters; she endures horrible pain to learn how to escape from the Controller, and she puts herself in harm’s way to protect the Courtyard and everyone in it.  She’s kind and gentle, but has a stubborn streak a mile long.

My favorite part of Murder of Crows is how confused both Simon and Meg are about their relationship.  Being a Wolf, he doesn’t understand that shifting into his human form can cause all kinds of problems between him and Meg.  Being different species, they have a different understanding of what a friend is, and they grapple to work out a definition that works for them, but it’s a slow, awkward process.  Will they ever be more than friends?  I have no idea, but I can’t wait to find out!

If you haven’t read Written in Red or Murder of Crows, you must give them a try!  Like, right now!  They are awesome books that build to a holy crap, I can’t believe this is so good! crescendo.  Then, after the last page, you just want more!

Grade:  ZOMG! A!!

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

Return to New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s “phenomenal” (Urban Fantasy Investigations) world of the Others—where supernatural entities and humans struggle to co-exist, and one woman has begun to change all the rules…
After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader—wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now, the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

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22. Spotlight and Giveaway: Of Silk and Steam by Bec McMaster

This morning have a spotlight and giveaway for Bec McMaster’s Of Silk and Steam.  If I was a character in one of her London Steampunk books, I would be Honoria Todd.  Would I look as fetching in a top hat?

Title: Of Silk and Steam

Author: Bec McMaster

Series: London Steampunk

Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015

ISBN: 9781402291944

ENEMIES. ALLIES. LOVERS.

When her beloved father was assassinated, Lady Aramina swore revenge. The man responsible is well beyond her grasp, but his dangerously seductive heir, Leo Barrons, is fair game. When Mina obtains evidence proving that Leo is illegitimate, she has the means to destroy both the killer and his son, a man who troubles her heart and tempts her body.

A woman of mystery, Mina’s long driven Leo crazy with glimpses of a fiery passion that lurks beneath her icy veneer. He knows she’s hiding something, and he’s determined to unravel her layer by silken layer. He just doesn’t expect the beautiful liar to be the key to overthrowing the corrupt prince consort…or to saving his own carefully walled-off heart.

Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Victoria, Australia and grew up with her nose in a book. A member of RWA, RWA (Australia) and RWNZ, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and steampunk romance. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds.

An Excerpt

Barrons looked at her. “Do you trust me?”

“No.” His father would have cut her down without thinking, but Barrons was an enigma. If he were a different man, she would have enjoyed his attentions, but a part of her couldn’t help wondering if his pursuit of her was just a way to get closer, to slip the knife in when she least expected it…

Could she trust that he meant her no harm?

His hand tightened around hers, dark heat sweeping through his irises. He focused on her so intently that she could almost feel it on her skin. “Then let us call a temporary truce for tonight. I shall help you escape. In return…”

“Yes?”

His voice roughened. “I want a kiss.”

A kiss. Tension slid sinuously along her limbs, each muscle clenching. Those motives she could certainly understand. It didn’t mean she had to like them.

Wariness spread through her as he lifted his hand and slowly, carefully brushed the back of his fingers against her lips. She didn’t flinch. Instead she tipped her chin up and glared him down. “Help me escape and I shall grant you such a liberty.” What harm could a single kiss do? “Until then”—she took a step back, her skirts swishing around her ankles—“I’ll thank you to keep your hands to yourself.”

His hand dropped but the ghostly sensation of that touch lingered, reminding her that it had been a long time since she’d been touched in any way intimately, and never like this. Never…soft. Full of gentleness, as if the very sensation of her skin beneath his was a pleasure in itself, not merely a step to greater satisfaction.

He was far more dangerous than she’d ever suspected, and she’d known, since the first moment she’d met him, that he was dangerous indeed. He was the only man who had ever managed to make her feel something.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Apple

BAM

B&N

Chapters

Indiebound

Kobo

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23. Marry, Kiss or Kill! Blog Tour with Susanna Ives, Author of Wicked, My Love and Giveaway

Today we are pleased to have Susanna Ives join us for a round of Marry, Kiss or Kill! For this stop, we asked her to choose between Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Lando Calrissian:

“I can’t kill handsome, smooth-talking Lando Calrissian. In kindergarten when the teacher asked for things that begin with the letter “l”, my daughter stood up and cried, “Lando Calrissian!” I’m marrying Lando.

That leaves me to decide the fates of Princess Leia and Han Solo.

Hmmm. So it goes down like this: I’m kissing Han Solo in a dark, crazy corner of the Mos Eisley Cantina, when Princess Leia enters and gets up in my face about how Han is hers. I tell her how much I admire her and that we could share Han, because he’s an adventuresome kind of guy who would go for that. But no, she has to pull her blaster on me. What I do next is merely in self-defense. But she pulled first.”

 

Title: Wicked, My Love

Author: Susanna Ives

Series: Wicked Little Secrets

Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015

ISBN: 9781402283604

A smooth-talking rogue and a dowdy financial genius

Handsome, silver-tongued politician Lord Randall doesn’t get along with his bank partner, the financially brilliant but hopelessly frumpish Isabella St. Vincent. Ever since she was his childhood nemesis, he’s tried—and failed—to get the better of her.

Make a perfectly wicked combination

When both Randall’s political career and their mutual bank interests are threatened by scandal, he has to admit he needs Isabella’s help. They set off on a madcap scheme to set matters right. With her wits and his charm, what could possibly go wrong? Only a volatile mutual attraction that’s catching them completely off guard…

Susanna Ives started writing when she left her job as a multimedia training developer to stay home with her family. Now she keeps busy driving her children to various classes, writing books, and maintaining websites. She often follows her husband on business trips around Europe and blogs about the misadventures of touring with children. She lives in Atlanta.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Apple

BAM

B&N

Chapters

Indiebound

Kobo

 

 

An Excerpt:

She stationed herself by the window and scowled as if to say to the people looking in her window for vacant seats, Don’t get in this carriage. It’s occupied by a dangerous, sleep-deprived, hysterical woman who wants to be left alone. Stay away. Stay away. When the conductor’s whistle blew and the train started to rumble underneath her feet, she released her held breath and rested her head against the back of the seat.

Wham! The carriage door flew open and a brown leather bag went flying past her, hitting the opposite wall. Randall leaped in just as the train lurched forward.“Good morning, love.”

“W-what are you doing?” she cried, the great plan that she’d spent the night weaving suddenly torn to shreds. “You’re supposed to be getting your black heart shackled to some beautiful nincompoop.”

“You didn’t really think I was going to let you go alone?”

“No, of course not,” she stammered, feeling stupid. Why was she so terrible at understanding subtle meanings? She took everyone at their literal word. She should have known better from that slippery snake of a man. After all, he was a politician, and a good one, in a profession not renowned for its honesty and forthrightness.

He sat himself down beside her, his woodsy scent clogging her nose and setting her nerves alight. She switched to the opposite seat. “And don’t sit next to me. I don’t want people to think we’re lovers.”

“We’re lovers?” He shot her a sly glance. “Did you get me foxed out of my poor wits, take advantage of me in my defenseless state, and then not have the courtesy to tell me? Did I enjoy it?”

She refused to dignify that bit of lunacy with a direct answer. “Your mother, Judith, everyone thinks that I l-love you. Oh, my throat hurts for uttering such moronic nonsense.”

He extended his legs, cupped his hands behind his head, and let a charming smile laze on his lips. His blue coat molded to his lean, flat belly and the contour of his sex bulged in his brown trousers. “Naturally they think that,” he said. “What’s not to love?”

She averted her eyes, determined not to look at his male part. However, the generous, manly swell in the fabric was now emblazoned on her brain. “I really don’t have the time to discuss all the things that I don’t love about you. The list is quite long, and I’m a bit upset. I didn’t get any sleep, and now you are here to complicate everything. I just…just want to read.” She unfurled her journal and bowed her head, hoping he would take that as a cue to be quiet.

She gently rocked in her seat, as if it were a comforting cradle, trying to keep her curious eyes from roving back to his lap as she read and reread the first paragraph in an article about interest rates in the banks of Holland. She had almost made it to the second paragraph when she felt his shoulder rub against hers.

“Just relax,” he said, settling next to her. “We’re not lovers. I detest you as much as you detest me.”

“I don’t detest you,” she corrected. “I just don’t like you some—well, most of the time.”

“I certainly despise you, no question about that. Now that we have our mutual dislike for each other clarified, I think we should play a little game.”

She looked at him askew. “The our bank fails, we lose all our money, and our names and reputations are ruined game? I hear that it’s great fun until they cart us off to the poorhouse.”

“No, it’s the let’s-invent-false-identities-so-as-not-to-cast-suspicion game.”

“Oh.” It made sense. She hated when Randall made sense.

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24. Spotlight and Giveaway: Tycoon Takedown by Ruth Cardello

This morning I have an excerpt from Ruth Cardello’s Tycoon Takedown.  Check it out, and then enter for a chance to win a digital copy!

Exclusive Excerpt: Tycoon Takedown by Ruth Cardello

“I took the morning off, but I have a charity dinner I committed to before I knew you’d be here.” Charles told Melanie. “Attend it with me.”

“Like a date?”

He hugged her to his side. “Whatever you want to call it.”

Melanie stiffened against him. “I’d rather not. I didn’t bring anything suitable to wear to something like that.” She wasn’t sure she wanted to attend a public function with him.

In the dim light of the room, he looked down at her, his expression unreadable. “It’s a formal event, but I don’t care what you wear.”

He wouldn’t. His arrogance was part of what she found attractive about him. He didn’t give a damn what others thought of him. Still, she couldn’t help but test his limits. “Really? You’re okay if I go in jeans and my boots?”

He took her chin in his hand and turned her face so she’d have to meet his eyes. She couldn’t read them in the shadows.”Why are you angry?”

She tried to pull back from him, but he held her to his side. She didn’t want to admit it, but the idea of attending something with him intimidated her. She told herself she didn’t care what others through of her, but that wasn’t true. And this was his world. She didn’t need to be reminded that she didn’t belong in it. “I’m not one of your fancy New York girlfriends. I don’t wear makeup. My nails are chipped from hard work. What will your friends think of me?”

“These people aren’t my friends. I can’t promise you that no one will wonder why you chose jeans over a gown, but I can guarantee that none will have the nerve to say anything.”

“Because they’re too polite”

A hard expression darkened his face. “Because you’re mine.”

Excerpted with permission from Montlake Romance from Tycoon Takedown © 2015 by Ruth Cardello. All rights reserved.

***


Book Information

Title: Tycoon Takedown

Author: Ruth Cardello

Release Date: March 10, 2015

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Summary

Melanie Hanna has finally worked up the courage to travel to New York and tell an old flame that he’s the father of her young son. She’s done hiding and apologizing for her one impulsive night. When her best friend asks her brother to watch over Melanie, her emotional trip takes an unexpected and sizzling detour.

Charles Dery is at the top of his game, but all he can think about is bedding the woman he was asked to protect. When she’s almost killed, he takes what he’d been denying himself and discovers he’ll do anything to keep her—even break his own rules.

When it comes to love, two wrongs may just finally make a right.

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/1BZHco6

Biography

Ruth Cardello was born the youngest of eleven children in a small city in northern Rhode Island. She lived in Boston, Paris, Orlando, and New York before coming full circle and moving back to Rhode Island, where she lives with her husband and three children. Before turning her attention to writing, Ruth was an educator for twenty years, eleven of which she spent as a kindergarten teacher. She is the author of eight previous novels, including Bedding the Billionaire, which was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Tycoon Takedown follows Taken, Not Spurred as the second book in the Lone Star Burn series.

Social Networking Links

Website – http://ruthcardello.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ruthcardello

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ruthiecardello

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4820876.Ruth_Cardello

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25. What’s Your Winner’s Curse and Giveaway!

This morning I’m participating in a blog tour and giveaway for Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Crime.  This is the follow up to The Winner’s Curse, and you can learn more about the books here.  You can follow the tour here.  I also have a copy of The Winner’s Crime up for grabs, so enter below!

The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price.  What would you pay too much for?

Time.  I would pay any price for more time.  More time to spend with my family and my friends, and more time to spend with my duppers and my horses.  At the end of every day, there is one thing that I always run out of.  There are only 24 hours in a day, a finite number that limits everything about our lives.  But what if we had the ability to turn that limited resource into something a tiny bit more infinite?  Yeah, I’d pay way too much for that.

How about you? What is something you would pay too much for?

 

Following your heart can be a crime

A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless?world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.?

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people . . . but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.

Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of rebellion, duels, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

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