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26. Spotlight and Giveaway: Fire Me Up by Kimberly Kincaid

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Fire Me Up by Kimberly Kincaid.  Enjoy!

Fire Me Up
Pine Mountain # 4

By: Kimberly Kincaid

Releasing January 27, 2015

Zebra/ Kensington

Blurb

IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT…

Teagan O’Malley can handle a crisis. She’s a paramedic, it’s her job. But she never expected to land in the kitchen of her father’s pub, with no notice, no cash, and no room for error. The kitchen is not her favorite place. Lucky for her, she just scraped a bad-boy chef off the pavement after a motorcycle accident—and something about him says he can turn up the heat in more ways than one.

Adrian Holt has had a rough few years, and he’s not eager to get tangled up in anything more complicated than a good risotto. But with a broken arm and a head full of bad memories, he needs a challenge to keep him sane. Teagan’s dare-me attitude and smoldering mess of a bar are just what the doctor ordered. And the two of them together might cook up some even better medicine…

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/fire-me-up-pine-mountain-4-by-kimberly.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22043083-fire-me-up?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/112826-pine-mountain

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book.

Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Her digital Line series is all about the hot cops and sexy chefs of Brentsville, New York. She is also the author of the Pine Mountain series, which follows small town singles as they find big-time love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt

The astringent bite of rubbing alcohol reached Teagan’s nose as she tore into the packet in her hand, and she measured the intricate black tattoo on Adrian’s right forearm with a casual glance. Placing a line was more about feel than anything else, but it didn’t make this a cozy jaunt down Main Street, either. Still, procedure was procedure, and she wasn’t about to tell the docs in the emergency department that she didn’t start an IV en route when she knew damn well they were expecting her to do it. Explaining the shoulder thing was going to be bad enough.

Taking her eyes off a guy like Adrian in the first place had been the highest order of stupid. She wasn’t screwing up his care again.

“So how come you’re sticking me, exactly?”

His much-softened tone snagged her attention, and she adjusted hers to match. “Because you need painkillers on board before we get to Riverside. The doctors there are going to give you a pretty good workup. It’s not going to be fun.”

“I’m okay with the pain,” he said, although the thin sheen of sweat on his brow coupled with his skin’s growing pallor said otherwise.

Teagan shrugged. “You need the IV regardless. Might as well let the meds take the edge off.” She sat on the bench seat at Adrian’s side and flipped his right arm palm-side up, running her fingers down the corded length from elbow to wrist in search of a good spot.

“So what language is this, anyway?” she asked, folding his hand into a fist before tracing the thickly scrolled letters spanning his skin from wrist to elbow. Maybe if she distracted him, he’d let her do her job without complaint.

“Italian.” He didn’t elaborate, but he also didn’t balk as she ripped open the IV kit she’d pulled from the med box.

“Oh. What does it mean?” Teagan tapped the pad of one gloved finger against the vein now standing in relief against his skin right above the words vivere senza rimpianti.

“You ask a lot of questions, don’t you?”

The edgy little smile that had caught her so off guard in the middle of the road was back in full force, and it hadn’t lost an ounce of steam in its absence.

Teagan’s cheeks prickled with the unfamiliar sensation of a blush. “Sorry. Little pinch here. Ready?”

He nodded, keeping his smile locked in place. “Whenever you are, Red.”

Right. Because that nickname hadn’t haunted her enough in the third grade. “Just hold still.”

She guided the IV into place with a few deft movements despite the fact her pulse had just taken on all the properties of a freight train. “I’m going to put some Fentanyl in here to ease some of your pain. It works pretty quickly, so you should be able to relax soon.”

“Whatever will get this over with faster.” Adrian looked away, the smile slipping from his face as he shifted his weight against the semi-reclined surface of the cot. It figured he’d go and get all agreeable when they were halfway to the hospital, but truly, Teagan knew better than to complain.

She drew two hundred micrograms of Fentanyl into a syringe and worked it into the IV, doing a visual sweep to make sure all systems were go. “I’m just going to recheck your vitals here and see if we can manage some focus assessment before those pain meds get in the way.”

“Focus assessment sounds like something my high school guidance counselor tried once. Hate to break it to you, but it didn’t work out so well then. Doubt you’ll have much luck with it now.”

Teagan’s laugh popped out before she could swallow it, and she palmed the penlight from her bag. “Don’t worry, it’s not that tough. Look up for me.”

Adrian fastened her with a dead-on stare, and whoa, there was a lot roiling around in those hazel eyes of his. No matter how big and bad, most car accident victims experienced some form of shock or another in the aftermath. Her social skills might not be impeccable—or hell, even good—but it was time to keep this guy as calm as possible.

“So, tell me,” she said, slipping the pulse ox clip over his finger. “What do you do, Adrian?”

His forehead creased, making his surprise a dead giveaway.

“I’m a chef.”

Looked like surprise was catching. “And how long have you been a chef?”

“Since the day I was born.”

The laughter pushing past her lips caught her off guard for the second time in as many minutes. “You’ve been busy, then. You must work at the place in the resort.” That tiny tickle of recognition fanned over her again, but as soon as she flicked her attention toward it, it was gone, like smoke in a stiff breeze.

“What makes you say that?” He canted his head to the side, his shoulders seeming to loosen slightly.

Teagan noted his current vitals before continuing with the exam. “Because unless you count the bakery on Main Street, there are only two other full-service places to eat in Pine Mountain, and there isn’t a chef in either one.”

The thought of Lou, the lanky guy who worked his magic at her father’s bar and grill, working up a hoity-toity dish like on those reality shows was downright laughable. Not that Adrian really fit that mold either, but still. He’d been the one to use the c-word, not her.

As if he’d just climbed into her head for an easy looksee, Adrian teased, “Careful making assumptions over there. I ditched the tall white hat as soon as I graduated from culinary school.”

She held up her hands, busted. “Okay. But for the most part, we townies tend to just sling hash and be done with it.” Teagan examined him carefully, and this time the vague recognition darting around in her brain snagged and held. “The restaurant at the resort! You were there last year, when we responded to that call for the other chef. A woman.”

The tumblers and gears of her memory locked into place over the image. They’d been first on scene, and Evan had gone to secure the patient—a nasty facial trauma, if she remembered right. Teagan had been too busy securing the rest of the scene, namely trying to peel Adrian off of Jackson Carter, a local guy she’d known since middle school.

The fight had been short-lived. And Adrian had been boiling-point furious.

“She’s my boss,” Adrian said, dispelling only a touch of the mystery running through her head. “You remember that?”

“Small town. And you have a memorable right hook.”

His eyes flared, in way more panic than irritation. “It wasn’t like that, exactly.” A pause, and it looked like hers weren’t the only gears sliding into place. “Wait, that was you who jumped in the middle of things.”

Teagan nodded, sliding down the bench toward his feet and laying the flat of her hand against the bottom of one monstrous boot. “Securing the scene to administer care is part of the job. Press forward as far as you can.”

He did, and when she prompted, he gave a quick repeat on the other side. “You could get hurt like that, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Said the guy on the gurney,” she said, unable to bite back a wry smile. “How’s your arm feeling?” Now that she’d had more time for a more focused exam, it was clear the broken arm was likely the only injury he’d sustained, and even that looked pretty straightforward. Lucky bastard.

“Pretty good.” He closed his eyes for a fraction too long to be a blink, and that, coupled with his answer, signaled the Fentanyl was starting to kick in nice and hard.

“Good. We should be at the hospital in another seven minutes, give or take. You can close your eyes if you want.”

Another blink, this one shuttering his eyes just enough to be sexy as hell. “That might not . . . be the best idea.”

Concern splashed through Teagan’s chest, and she leaned forward from her perch on the bench seat at his side. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

“Relax.” A lazy smile joined his bedroom eyes, sending an entirely different sensation through her chest. “I’m not going to code on you or anything. It’s just, ah, easier to forget about the pain if I’m distracted, that’s all.”

Oh, buddy. If you only knew. “Okay, but consider yourself forewarned. I’m not sure I’m the best person for the job.” Teagan bit her lip over a pause. “Polite conversation isn’t exactly my forte.”

“Polite conversation is for amateurs,” he said. “Tell me something important.”

A streak of shock popped through her veins. “You want me to tell you something personal?” That Fentanyl must be knocking him sideways if he thought she was going to spill her soul.

“Yeah,” Adrian said on nothing more than a rumble. “Personal. What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?”

More laughter escaped in an unexpected burst, but at least it was a painless question. Poor guy probably was a little loopy from the meds. “Umm, wow. Coffee, I guess.”

“I could see that.” His voice was slow, and it dashed all the way down her spine, lingering only when it reached the lowest point between her hips. Desperate for something clinical to keep her busy, Teagan snatched a few packets of alcohol wipes. She tore one open and leaned in, dabbing methodically at a scrape above Adrian’s eye.

“Ah.” She shook her head, giving the cut a closer look.

“You’ve got a pretty nasty lac here. It’s small, but looks kind of deep. I hate to tell you, but you’re probably going to have to lose this piercing to have it stitched up.”

“Great,” he said, although the sarcasm didn’t quite stick. “You can go ahead and take it out, I guess.”

Teagan made quick work of removing the stainless steel barbell, sliding it into a plastic bag before giving voice to the question in her head. “So how about you?”

“How about me what?” He angled the side of his face so it fit tight into the curve of her hand, and she scooped in a shallow breath at the increased contact.

“What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?” she murmured, surprised to find herself actually wanting to know. His eyes went from warm hazel to smoky quartz in the time it took her to exhale, and he dipped his gaze to her mouth.

“Strawberry.”

“And what’s so great about strawberries?” Oh hell. Was that her voice, all breathy and ridiculous?

“They’re perfect.” He curled the fingers of his uninjured hand around hers, pulling her in and reducing the space between them to a mere sliver. With his stare resting right on her lips, he said, “And red.”

Before the word even sank in, Adrian lifted his mouth to hers in a slow stroke. His lips were the exact opposite of the rest of him, soft and accommodating, and Teagan gasped against them. He tasted like cinnamon, spicy and dangerous, and he tightened beneath her like he had every intention of parting her mouth with his own and discovering all of her. Her brain screamed that she should pull back, give him what-for, do something other than just sit there and let him kiss her, but all her good intentions fell prey to one simple fact.

She didn’t want him to stop.

But then, just as quickly as he’d closed the space between them, Adrian pulled away, and the resulting rush of cool air brought Teagan back to earth with a hasty snap.

“Sorry. I . . .” Adrian trailed off, eyes at half-mast. “I’m so tired.”

“Close your eyes.” Thank God she’d at least faked her way back to her normal speaking voice. The sound of it steadied her ever further. “We’ll be at Riverside in a couple of minutes.”

As if on cue, Evan leaned back and aimed his voice into the narrow pass-through, one eye still on the road as he hollered an ETA of ninety seconds. Teagan shucked her gloves and swept up the debris in the rig, double-checking Adrian’s vitals even though her own probably looked like a skyline shot of Mount Everest. His eyes were closed, his chest rising and falling in smooth rhythm. She’d given him enough Fentanyl to knock out a basketball team, so it really wasn’t a shock that he’d gotten a little goofy. He probably wouldn’t even remember kissing her when his eyes opened up again.

The smartest thing she could do was forget it, too.

Rafflecopter Giveaway (3 Print copies of FIRE ME UP )

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Fire Me Up by Kimberly Kincaid appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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27. What’s love got to do with it?

‘The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness.’ (Fromm, E. 1957)

The time of year approaches that has gaggles of teenage girls quivering anxiously in school corridors: outwardly bemoaning the late arrival of the postman, while inwardly breathing a huge sigh of relief. At the other end of the spectrum, jaded 75-year-old-long-marrieds dust off last year’s card, re-presenting it safe in the knowledge that (a) it won’t be remembered and (b) he won’t care that much either way. It’s a day that hints at the arrival of Spring, when a question mark can create a frisson of excitement in a recipient or a knowing smile from a long-suffering spouse.

Saint Valentine’s Day, where millions of British pounds are spent on grand, kitsch, or anonymous romantic gestures (chocolate, flowers, lacy underwear, and dinner reservations, not necessarily in that order). It’s become a British industry. It celebrates love or as Samuel Johnson put it, the ‘triumph of hope over experience’.

Valentine’s Day juxtaposes our desire for romance at its best. At its worst, it exemplifies another defining contemporary human characteristic: consumerism. This Western tradition can be tenuously traced back to Valentine of Terni, martyred circa AD 197, for his Christianity. Another possible origin, Valentine of Rome, circa AD 289, was imprisoned for continuing to wed soldiers after Claudius had outlawed marriage, decreeing armies of single men fought better than those distracted by conjugal delights. Awaiting execution, Valentine is reported to have cured the jailer’s daughter of blindness and fallen in love, his final letter to her signed, ‘from your Valentine’.

Historian Noel Lenski, classics professor at the University of Colorado, has unearthed evidence to suggest an ancient pagan fertility festival on 14th February. Lupercalia, a celebration of love, which saw young Roman men strip naked and use goat skins to brush the backsides of young women and crop fields to improve fertility, followed by a matchmaking lottery where men drew women’s names from a jar. Little wonder card manufacturers have chosen to shift their focus from death, sadism, imprisonment, and swinging, from whence Valentine’s Day tradition is suggested to have sprung.

From a partisan standpoint, as a couple psychotherapist, the idealised romance of Valentine’s Day with its fantasy-laden, unconscious projection onto a ‘love object’ is not necessarily good news. The lover’s notion, that the strength of his emotion will ensure a yearned for relationship metamorphoses into a-glorious-sunset-happy-ending, doesn’t predict a stable, long-lasting, and fulfilling relationship. Come to that, neither does love at first sight or your partner resembling one of your parents. And yet romantic gesture, prolific at a relationship’s birth, is the bedrock of most unions and forms part of their narrative. Just ask a couple how they met.

The romantic notion of reality (two individuals from similar socio-economic backgrounds, attracted by their differences/irritating and lovable idiosyncrasies) becoming fantasy (thinking as one, able to read each other’s mind and anticipate each other’s needs) can be traced back to the Bible, ‘Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Matthew, 19.6).

For the Victorians, love was a periphery consideration. A relationship between a man and a woman was a business contract between two families, with the woman as product and land as prize. Choice in love is a new Western trend. Forced by female emancipation and latterly such freedoms as same-sex relationships, emphasis has shifted away from acreage and towards how to attract a partner, how to fashion yourself as the prize.

Erich Fromm in his seminal work The Art of Loving, advocates love as a skill, to be honed and worked at, requiring knowledge and effort, rather than ‘something one falls into if one’s lucky’. From a consulting room vantage point, the idea of a relationship created between a couple that takes work and attention can come as something of a revelation. There is often real confusion between a falling in love state for couples and the permanent state of being in love. ‘I don’t feel the same about her as when we met and it’s making me depressed,’ is not an unfamiliar complaint.

Falling in love is an exhilarating, almost psychotic experience for everyone that is fortunate enough to feel it. The tragedy is that this new and precious intimacy, triggered by sexual attraction, is impossible to sustain. The infatuation stage, where everything else falls away, is commonly described as a ‘coming home feeling’, where a sense of familiarity nestles amongst the thrill. The bad news is it burns itself out. Nothing except the most dangerous attraction can sustain that undiluted intensity. Who would do the work? Captains of Industry would just stay in bed. Reality must test each new relationship. Can it survive meeting the in-laws? When do the stains on her teeth come into focus – and hopefully not matter. When do the stresses of work and mundane domesticity creep back into consciousness?

Many couples seeking help with their relationship are burdened with the expectation that their love should feel natural; fulfilment of sexual desire, rather like the Holy Spirit, should be around at all times, despite inhabiting a time-pinched world of Internet dating, Viagra, and plastic surgery. They feel that loving should be accompanied by an ease and constant lightness, and so feel cheated or deficient, even deviant in some way when it doesn’t feel like that. Their internal echo of why isn’t every day like Valentine’s Day infuses their relationship with an uncomfortable and unspoken ennui.

So where is the relationship advice at this most quixotic of times? As Valentine’s Day dawns, perhaps Honore de Balzac’s suggestion in ‘La physiologie du marriage’ will resonate: ‘No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.’ Permit a translation. Take it slow, have some fun, keep past relationships in mind, especially that of your parents, and remember, ‘Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.’ (Anouilh, J. 1948)

Headline image credit: Heart. CC0 via Pixabay.

The post What’s love got to do with it? appeared first on OUPblog.

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28. Subliminal Messages in Romance

I received the following email from a post on the BRP blog about five romantic memes that need to die.  I will provide a link at the end of this post.

“Dear Ms. Hurwitz, Thanks so much for your 2/4/15 post on the Blood Red Pencil. My genre is contemporary romance and while I’ve tried to avoid the 5 syndromes that you’ve listed below, I’m jealous. For some authors those exact syndromes actually worked. And have brought major successes. My question, why do they work for some authors and not for others? Trying not to whine, B."

This is a rather long response, but I feel it is an important one.

I fear they work because there is a severe amount of dysfunction in our society. To whit:

Reality TV is a constant barrage of people behaving badly for ratings. Indiscretion, infidelity, financial excess, drunken brawls, verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and mounting body counts are daily sources of entertainment. There should be a line feed at the bottom of the broadcast with a warning: “If this resembles your reality, you can get help, please call…” followed by telephone numbers for domestic abuse and mental health hotlines.

A young girl posted a video that went insanely viral in which she stated that if your boyfriend beat you, it meant he loved you … because he invested all that energy in beating you and you should take that as a compliment and sign of affection.

College students are passing around passed out co-eds like blow-up dolls.

Domestic violence is at an all-time high, and women and children aren’t the only victims.

Hazing at the high school sports level has devolved into sexual assault with athletes literally getting “reamed” in locker rooms and school buses.

In the entertainment industry at large, and the romance genre in specific, there are too many stories that perpetuate the idea that you can fix that bad boy by being so amazing he immediately reforms in the blink of an eye with no professional help. All that matters is that they have a hefty bank account and six-pack abs or a title. These rogues are guilty of kidnapping, degrading language, physical manhandling, murder, and rape, but all is forgiven because they fall in love and his actions were “justified” at the time or the girl can be equally "bad ass."

Everyone who reads a murder mystery does not go out and kill someone. And everyone who reads a dysfunctional romance novel won’t go out and accept abusive behavior in their real life. But a steady diet of subliminal messages combined with a vulnerable population is a toxic cocktail.

Teens and young adults can be very suggestable. If you don’t believe that, you haven’t kept up with insanity inspiring pop culture amplified by an internet world full of cyberbullying, trolls, and provocative “selfies.” The high school and young adult phases are a time when many girls and boys are trying out new identities. They are easily influenced by their peers and the world around them. They adopt affectations. They are beguiled by the exotic and new. Joseph Campbell called it the knock, knock and twinkle, twinkle phase. Self-esteem can be shaky. More young women read books (especially romances) than young men, but both are affected by the entertainment industry and the culture they live in.

I believe we need healthy role models in all mediums of storytelling because our narratives influence the collective consciousness. We owe it to vulnerable teens and young adults. If bad boy heroes get a wink and a nudge for their “nefarious ways,” they make poor role models for our sons. Making female protagonists equally nefarious isn’t helping the situation. If our cultural expectation is that men are bestial as a baseline and must be tamed by the right woman, it is tacit support for unacceptable, even criminal, behavior.

In past decades, too many stories modeled women as helpless, compliant sex kittens fixated on finding the right guy. Women only went to college for a "Mrs. degree." 


Grooming kids for the mating game has trickled down to the grade school level. A six year old should not be concerned about being “sexy.”

Women from the baby boomer generation experienced a shift in cultural focus from finding the right guy and becoming wives and mothers, to focusing on self before making those choices and having the right to dictate the terms of those choices. 
 And we are ferociously fighting to hold onto our rights.

Millions of women worldwide are still subject to human trafficking, child brides, and arranged marriages. Women are still considered property of men. They are denied education and independence. They are raped, stoned, whipped, burned, and disfigured. 

That is the “reality" many people read to escape from.

We need to teach our young people that their prime directive is to become self-sufficient, stable, centered people with intact boundaries before they consider having relationships. 

Select schools have offered special classes for girls on how to recognize abusive relationships and protect themselves from rape (finally!), but no classes for boys on how to recognize abusive relationships and what constitutes rape, or any topic for that matter. It reminds me of when we were sequestered to view the films about our lady parts and monthly curse.

I wish my generation had access to Robin McGraw's Aspire initiative. Educating everyone about healthy relationships is crucial to changing the tide.


So, what does all that have to do with writing romance novels?

You can write a truly gripping romance without having severely dysfunctional/damaged characters. Mild dysfunction can create plenty of problems. You have to write realistic tension: obstacles that could potentially make or break their relationship. You have to convince your reader that the outcome is in doubt, even though in the romance genre there is always a happy resolution.

While many obstacles to love have been removed in cultures where people can randomly bed hop all they like, obstacles still exist in different personality types (wants, core needs, personal currency, motivation, ability to coexist amicably), misunderstanding, lies, secrets, betrayals, different backgrounds, socioeconomic factors, religions, ethnicity, strong opposition from other people in their lives, work, etc. As long as you make those obstacles believable, and ultimately realistically resolvable, you have the tension necessary to drive a love story.

In my opinion, the subliminal messages of your story matter. It is just as easy to model and inspire health while still addressing reality.

Thank you for your letter.

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29. Review: The Lone Sheriff by Lynna Banning

 

Review:

The Lone Sheriff caught my attention because the heroine, Maddie, is a Pinkerton agent, much to Sheriff Jericho Silver’s dismay.  He’s having a hard time catching the Tucker gang, a violent band of outlaws with a long list of crimes to their credit.  Jericho is expecting help from an experienced Pinkerton agent, but when Maddie steps off the train from Chicago, he feels like he’s been blindsided.  No way can a city slicker lady help him apprehend the bad guys.  Sorry, Jericho, you are about to have your world turned on its axis.

This is a fun read because Maddie is one feisty, capable woman.  She deals with Jericho’s objections to her assistance calmly and logically, and she’s determined to show him she’s more than able of pulling her weight.  Why, she can shoot better than he can because a previous run in with the Tucker gang has left him with a gunshot wound to his right wrist, a serious handicap because he can’t shoot as well left-handed.  Maddie brushes aside his resistance to her help, and slowly wins him over.  Though now that he cares for her, there’s another issue; Jericho watched as a friend died in his place, and he vowed to never let that happen again.  He works alone so he can’t put anyone else at risk. 

The historical western setting was a nice change of pace from the usual Regencies and contemporaries  I read.  The story takes place in Oregon during the 1870s, in the tiny town of Smoke River.  Maddie is  from an affluent family back East, and she’s also a widow.  She was unhappily married to a banker, and she swore she would never give up her freedom again.  Being an agent for the Pinkerton Agency gives her a purpose in life, and she feels that her work is very important.  She takes it very seriously, and isn’t amused that Jericho thinks so little of her skills.  Not to worry, though, she has ample opportunity to show him how wrong he is, both about gender equality and needing a little help from friends.

The Lone Sheriff is a quick, engaging read.  There are gun fights, tracking the outlaw gang, and quiet times spent in Smoke River.  I enjoyed getting to know Maddie, Jericho, as well as the rest of the town’s inhabitants.  The greatest conflict is Maddie’s reluctance to stay in Smoke River; she likes Chicago and all of the cultural amenities it provides.  She doesn’t think she could stand living in such a tiny place, and while she’s struggling with this decision, I couldn’t help but find her a little spoiled and over-indulged.  Would she make the right decision? 

This is the first book I’ve read by Lynna Banning, but it won’t be the last.  I liked Smoke River, and I’m looking forward to picking up Smoke River Bride.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by author

From Amazon:

A WOMAN DETECTIVE? NOT ON HIS WATCH! 

As if tracking down train robbers wasn’t hard enough, now Sheriff Jericho Silver’s backup has arrived, and she’s a gun-toting, head-turning beauty. She sure spells trouble. 

Madison O’Donnell had the perfect life—a beautiful home and all the ladies’ luncheons she could stomach—but it left her bored to tears. Now a widow, she’s determined to fill her days with daring deeds and wild adventures. 

Jericho is equally determined that she’ll be on the next train home. But this is one lady who won’t take no for an answer…. 

“Another delightful, quick and heartwarming read.” —RT Book Reviews on Smoke River Bride

The post Review: The Lone Sheriff by Lynna Banning appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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30. Spotlight and Giveaway: Meet Me at the Beach by V K Sykes

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Meet Me at the Beach.  Enjoy!

Meet Me at the Beach
Seashell Bay # 1

By: V.K. Sykes

Releasing February 24th, 2015

Grand Central / Forever

Blurb

YOU CAN’T STOP A RISING TIDE

When Lily Doyle spots her high school crush Aiden Flynn on the inbound ferry, she knows trouble is about to dock in Seashell Bay. And not just because he’s more handsome than ever. If Aiden’s in town, the rumors must be true about his family’s plan to sell their coastal land to the highest bidder. But Lily will do whatever it takes to convince the hottest guy on the beach to protect their idyllic island home.

Gorgeous Lily Doyle was the only thing Aiden missed after he escaped from his hometown to play pro baseball. Now all Aiden wants is to wrap up the business deal and get back to his life, not relive a past that still haunts him. But as memories rush in about the night of passion he and Lily shared long ago, everything else washes right out to sea-everything except the desire that still burns between them.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/meet-me-at-beach-seashell-bay-1-by-vk.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22401362-meet-me-at-the-beach?ac=1

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo | Book Depository

Author Info

V.K. Sykes is really two people – Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance and also romantic suspense. Randy excels at plot and characterization, but tends to fall down on the job when it comes to that pesky old thing called emotion. That’s where Vanessa steps in. She usually writes the sex scenes too, since Randy is a bit uncomfortable when it comes to that sort of stuff. Vanessa also writes award-winning Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra under her own name. You can check out Vanessa’s bestselling historical romances at www.vanessakellyauthor.com

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

EXCERPT:

Aiden stared down into emerald eyes just as bewitching as he remembered—eyes that now also held a depth and maturity that sucked him right in. As much as he might have liked to deny it, he felt the pull toward Lily as strongly as he ever had, and he’d be willing to bet his parcel of land she felt the same.

But frigging darts…really? If Lily had no intention— sadly—of leaping his bones, he would have expected her to get down to business right away, pumping him for info about his position on the development project.

He glanced away from her challenging, amused stare to take in the avid gazes of the crowd, waiting with bated breath for his answer. And his destruction, he suspected, given the nasty smiles of anticipation that lit the faces of at least half the people in the bar. It was Thunderdome, Seashell Bay style, with Aiden tagged as the loser.

Just swell. Nothing like a little ritual humiliation to cap off his fabulous homecoming.

Lily Doyle had always had a touch with darts, just like

Aiden had the God-given ability to hit baseballs. Most people thought it was simply a matter of natural coordination, but there was more to it than that. Lots of people had great coordination. Damn few, though, could hit a ninety-five-mile-per-hour fastball or throw a dart with perfect precision.

Lily had coordination in spades and a sweet, sweet form.

Aiden clapped a hand to his chest, trying to look like a wounded puppy. “Such a coldhearted way to welcome a native son back to the island. Since you’re the top dog in these parts, I reckon you have some ulterior motive for wanting to whip my ass in front of the entire damn town.”

Her gaze cut off to the side for a few seconds, surprising him. Lily was never one to dodge a question or a direct challenge. But then she looked back, dazzling him with a glorious smile that fried the logic part of his brain.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she replied with a throaty purr that made Aiden want to lift her over his shoulder and haul her out to his truck. “I guess I’m pretty good, but you’re a professional athlete, after all. You’re not afraid of a little old game of darts, are you, Aiden Flynn?”

“You tell him, Lil,” Boone Cleary said, leaving his bar stool long enough to weave over and see what the fuss was all about. “Nobody walks away from a challenge on Darts Night. Not on this island, anyway.” He belched as if to emphasize his weighty intervention, which prompted a whack to the back of his head from Miss Annie and a lecture on minding one’s manners in public.

Bram whispered into Aiden’s ear, “He’s right, bro. Look, just keep saying stuff that’ll get her rattled. You can start by reminding her of that time when you and me tailed her down to Bunny Tail Trail and saw—”

“Shut up,” Aiden said through gritted teeth.

Lily had crossed to the dartboard but now came back to Aiden, still giving him that sexy smile that said, What are you afraid of, big boy? His brain might have been addled by waves of hot lust, but he couldn’t shake the feeling she was somehow trying to manipulate him.

“Well?” She held her palm out, daring him to take the three darts that lay there.

Instinctively, he reached out, his hand swallowing hers and the red-tailed darts. Her skin felt hot and almost as smooth as he remembered from that long-ago night, when her hands had been all over him. That surprised him, given the work she did. Of course she wore gloves on the boat, but she set and hauled traps all day long. Both his dad and Bram had always suffered from unending cuts, scrapes, and chewed-up hands from snapping lobster claws.

He froze for a few seconds, her small hand trapped in his, and his mind became swamped with images of the battle-hardened warriors who fought the cold sea and the unforgiving elements to eke out their living. He could only imagine what Lily had gone through all these years he’d been away. While he’d been playing and partying in the glamor of big-city pro baseball, the slender, fine-boned woman before him had toiled long and hard on her lobster boat, facing down the dangers—and the dangers were real and ever-present—of a brutally unforgiving family trade.

When Lily tilted her head, her half-smile curving with an unspoken question, he released her.

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Grand Prize: $50.00 Amazon eGift Card; Two Runners up will win a Bundle of all V.K. Sykes Digital Releases in choice format)

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31. The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love - an audiobook review

My review of The Secret Sky as it appeared in the February, 2015, edition of School Library Journal. Author Atia Abawi is of Afghani descent and was a CNN correspondent in Afghanistan. Her insight into the life of a young Afghani girl is invaluable.

Young Adult
ABAWI, Atia. The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Lovein Afghanistan. 7 CDs. 7:45 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $77.75.ISBN 9781490627403. Playaway, digital download.Gr 9 Up-- This story is told through the alternating viewpoints of three young Afghanis--Fatima, a Hazara girl on the cusp of womanhood; Samiulla, a teenaged Pashtun boy disillusioned by the "religious" teachings of radicals; and Rashid, a believer in the harsh justice and rhetoric of Islamic fundamentalists. On the path to the well, Sami and Fatima meet by chance, sparking a platonic affection that will place the young people, their families, and their village in danger. In a land where every action is scrutinized and measured, their blossoming relationship is a sinful affront to propriety that cannot be accepted. Abawi does not shy away from the frank realities of a woman's life in Afghanistan. Scenes of torture and murder may disturb sensitive listeners; however, they make the couple's faith in the possibility of a better life all the more poignant and miraculous. The employment of a narrator of each gender, Ariana Delawari and Assaf Cohen (both Arabic speakers with believable accents), heightens the distinction between the sexes that permeates every aspect of every waking hour for rural Afghanis. VERDICT A perfect choice for libraries seeking topical and diverse titles

 Copyright © 2015 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
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32. Guest Post and Giveaway: Lindsay McKenna, Author of Taking Fire

I am thrilled to welcome Lindsay McKenna to the virtual offices this morning!  She has a special post to share, as well as an awesome giveaway for you to enter!

Post 6: A Heroine with a Cause

Title: TAKING FIRE by Lindsay McKenna:  A heroine with a cause

One of the hallmarks of my writing, as my loyal readers will agree with, is that I write ‘fresh.’  Well, what does that mean?  It means I’m not writing what everyone else is writing.  I want to write from different slants and perspectives than are normally thought of to write from.  

I wanted to create a heroine who was not a SEAL, but worked in deep black ops.  This is an area that few can write about except those who have been in the military, or who have great military consultants who can give them useful information in defining and creating a character who is in this super secretive area of undercover work.  

My heroine, US Marine Corps Sergeant Khatereh Shinwari, is someone you’ve never read about before.  She’s deep black ops.  Blacker than black, as they say in the trade.  And when the hero, SEAL Michael Tarik meets her, he runs into a black-out on who she is.  And he wants to know her—or else.  So how to find out about a person that your heart is invested in and she’s not talking?  In fact, a deep black ops individual will never tell you anything.  They don’t give you leads and they don’t give you clues, either.

I had a great time creating scenes between these two Type A, competitive military combat people.  Mike is black ops and he’s got a top secret clearance just like every other SEAL does.  Most people think that’s as far as clearances go, but it doesn’t.  Khat Shinwari is so above him on the black ops food chain, that it defies discovery by Mike.  

Part of the fun of creating this book is the ultra-secret status of Khat.  Who IS she?  Why is she operating out in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan alone with no back-up?  No help if she gets in a bad situation?  Mike just can’t understand her or her status.  One thing SEALs are really good at?  Finding out the unknowable.  And you, as the reader, will be with him as he gets serious about finding out who this brave, black ops woman really is.  Why?  Because he is drawn to her and isn’t about to just blow her off.  At the same time?   Khat isn’t telling him a thing about herself.  

So come along and watch how a SEAL operates in some pretty murky, deep black ops water and watch what happens!

Lindsay McKenna Links

Website: http://www.lindsaymckenna.com

Blog:  http://lindsaymckenna.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lindsay-McKenna/504139729714132?ref_type=bookmark

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/lindsaymckenna

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

Book trailer:  http://vimeo.com/lindsaymckenna/breakingpoint/

Amazon: amazon.com/author/lindsaymckenna

Instagram:  www.instagram.com  (Lindsay McKenna)

Lindsay McKenna Newsletter:  https://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/tools/subscription?username=lindsay.mckenna

Audible.com:  The complete Wyoming Series (http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_mn_at_ano_tseft__galileo/183-3253016-9714910?advsearchKeywords=Lindsay+Mckenna&x=0&y=0)

Taking Fire
Shadow Warriors #7

By: Lindsay McKenna

Releasing February 24th, 2015

HQN Books

Blurb

She dances on the edge of life…and death

Not all are meant to walk in the light. Marine Corps Sergeant Khat Shinwari lives among the shadows of the rocky Afghani hills, a Shadow Warrior by name and by nature. She works alone, undercover and undetected—until a small team of US Navy SEALs are set upon by the Taliban…and Khat is forced to disobey orders to save their lives.

To go rogue.

Now, hidden deep in the hills with injured SEAL Michael Tarik in her care, Khat learns that he’s more than just a soldier. In him, she sees something of herself and of what she could be. Now duty faces off against the raw, overwhelming attraction she has for Mike. And she must decide between the safety of the shadows…and risking everything by stepping into the light.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/taking-fire-by-lindsay-mckenna.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22892023-taking-fire?from_search=true

Buy Links:  Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Lindsay McKenna is proud to have served her country in the U.S. Navy as an aerographer’s mate third class—also known as a weather forecaster. She is one of the original founders of the military romance subgenre and loves to combine heart-pounding action with soulful and poignant romance. Her latest book is the romantic suspense Taking Fire.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 Rafflecopter Giveaway ($100.00 VISA Gift Card or Six Book Set of SHADOW WARRIOR Series by Lindsay McKenna)

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33. Sway, by Kat Spears | Book Review

Kat Spears debut novel is, quite simply, a delight. It has all the ingredients for an engaging and witty read, laced with honesty and insight that’s refreshingly real.

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34. Spotlight and Giveaway: Earls Just Want to Have Fun by Shana Galen

Shana Galen has a new release, and I have an excerpt and a giveaway to help her celebrate Earls Just Want to Have Fun!

Book: Earls Just Want To Have Fun

Author: Shana Galen

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Release Date: February 3, 2015

Genre: Historical Romance

Summary

His heart may be the last thing she ever steals…

Marlowe is a pickpocket, a housebreaker-and a better actress than any professional on the stage. She runs with the Covent Garden Cubs, a gang of thieves living in the slums of London’s Seven Dials. It’s a fierce life, and Marlowe has a hard outer shell. But when she’s alone, she allows herself to think of a time before-a dimly remembered life when she was called Elizabeth.

Maxwell, Lord Dane, is intrigued when his brother, a hired investigator, ropes him into his investigation of the fiercely beautiful hellion. He teaches her to navigate the social morass of the ton, but Marlowe will not escape so easily. Instead, Dane is drawn into her dangerous world, where the student becomes the teacher and love is the greatest risk of all.

Excerpt – Earls Just Want To Have Fun

“While I do not usually object to a woman in this position,” Dane said quietly, “I must confess something about the dagger between your lips is less than romantic.”

Marlowe reached for the dagger, but he was faster, grasping her hands and pinning them at her side. She lost her balance and settled on top of him, and he pushed her down so that she would fall forward if she tried to swing her legs out from under her.

“What, exactly, are you doing?”

She couldn’t answer, not with the dagger in her mouth, and she shook her head, shaking her arms to indicate she wanted to be freed from his hold.

“What’s the matter? Can’t speak with a knife between your lips? Hazard of your profession, I assume.” He began to rise, sliding her along his body, as he did so. Even beneath the layers of bedclothes, she could feel the strength and power of him. His hands, remarkably strong, held hers at her sides. Nothing she did would free them. He was far too strong. It was times like this she hated being a woman. Gideon would have freed himself easily. He was also tall enough that he wouldn’t have needed to climb onto the bed.

When the swell was sitting, with Marlowe conveniently in his lap, he leaned forward so his face was inches from hers. “Drop the knife.”

She wanted to tell him it was a dagger, a subtle but important distinction, but she couldn’t speak and hold on to her weapon. And she couldn’t think very well with her body pressed against his. Something about their positions made her skin tingle and her belly flutter. She should want to pull away. Instead, she fought the urge to push closer, to rock against him. What the bloody hell was wrong with her?

“Drop the knife or I’ll take it.”

She laughed. Just let him try.

“Very well.”

To her surprise, he leaned closer, his lips moving so near to hers she could smell his breath. Like the rest of him, it smelled clean. She was so intent upon smelling his breath, so intent upon the heat of his body pulsing against hers, she forgot to move her head back, and she jolted in shock when his lips touched hers. What was he doing? Kissing her?

But then his teeth flashed and closed on the dagger’s blade, and she reacted too slowly. He yanked it from her mouth, and she had no choice but to let it go or risk the blade cutting the corners of her sensitive flesh.

“Bastard!” she yelled. He released her hands then, allowing the dagger to drop into one of his. She swung at him, and her fist collided with a satisfying thunk against his cheek. But her satisfaction was short-lived as he recovered easily and flipped her over. Suddenly, she was beneath him on the bed, and all the warmth from the bedclothes and his body were covering her. She bucked immediately, trying to throw him off, but he was solid and heavy, and when his hands grasped her wrists and pinned them to the pillow, she knew she was trapped.

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1xJcS0q

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/13C2BGf

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1AYn9Ur

Author Biography

Shana Galen is the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Kirkus says of her books, “The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun,” and RT Bookreviews calls her books ” lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching.” She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston’s inner city. Now she writes full time. She’s happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers, so send her an email or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter. Visit her website at www.shanagalen.com

Social Networking Links

Website: http://www.shanagalen.com

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shanagalen

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35. Harlequin’s Very Valentine’s Reads – Cathy Gillen Thacker, Author of Lone Star Valentine

Cathy Gillien Thacker dropped by the virtual offices to share a Top 5.   Check it out and be sure to enter to awesome giveaway below!

 

Top 5 things Gannon would never give Lily for a Valentine’s Day gift

  1. Lingerie—Gannon likes Lily best in nothing at all.

  2. Anything that would suggest she needs to get in better shape (i.e. diet books, a gym membership, a personal trainer).

  3. A gift that’s really meant for him (a new sound system for their home entertainment group, a collection of famous guy movies, a sport court for their backyard).

  4. An exotic animal like a snake or a monkey. When Gannon and Lily are ready for a pet, it’ll be a kid-friendly puppy or kitten for the whole family to enjoy.

  5. A love letter he didn’t write himself. (i.e. something that was copied out of a book, or a scene in a movie)

 

Title: Lone Star Valentine

Author: Cathy Gillen Thacker

Format: Mass Market Paperback, eBook

Imprint: Harlequin American Romance

Price: $4.99

Release date: February 3, 2015

ISBN: 9780373755554

Book Description:

COMPROMISE…OR ALL-OR-NOTHING?
The heart-stopping attraction’s still there, but today Lily needs only one thing from old flame Gannon Montgomery—the best damn legal counsel ever. The stakes are high—custody of Lily’s son, Lucas. And the rules are clear. Lily’s not giving Gannon the chance to break her heart again. They can be friends. That’s all.
Not enough, thinks Gannon. He’s only in town to sell the family ranch, but Mayor Lily McCabe makes sticking around seem pretty attractive. He can see the desire in her eyes every time they’re thrown together. And with the court case and the Texas chili cook-off he’s been dragged into, that’s a lot. As the stress grows, so does the attraction. But Lily won’t compromise, and Gannon can’t let go. Someone’s gotta give!

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Valentine-Harlequin-American-Romance-McCabe-Multip/dp/0373755554/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lone-star-valentine-cathy-gillen-thacker/1120111965?ean=9780373755554

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22892026-lone-star-valentine

About Cathy Gillen Thacker

Author bio: The love stories in my family have always been fodder for romance novels. To date, I’ve written and published over one hundred novels.  Many are out of print, many are coming back in print via e-readers.  (Hurrah!)  In each story, I try to provide a few laughs, maybe a few tears, a few problems that seem… at first… unsolvable.  As well as a lot of love.

I thank all the readers who have supported me and my work over the years, and I welcome all the new ones with open arms, and much gratitude.  Knowing I’ve made someone’s day a little brighter, with one of my books, is the best gift I could ever receive. Visit Cathy on her website CathyGillenThacker.com.

Website: http://www.cathygillenthacker.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cathygthacker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CathyGillenThacker?sk=wall

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18192.Cathy_Gillen_Thacker

Grand Prize Giveaway

Harlequin’s Very Valentine’s Reads prize-pack includes:

If you follow the tour, there will be different prizes each week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Week One

1/26/15 Parajunkee  – Interview with Victoria Dahl

1/27/15 Books Complete Me – Interview with Julia London

1/28/15 Paranormal Book Club – Interview with Sarah McCarty

1/29/15 Once Upon a Twilight – Guest Post by Lissa Manley

1/30/15 Wicked L’il Pixie – Interview with Lynda Aicher

Week Two

2/2/15 Smexy Books – Guest Post by Victoria Dahl

2/3/15 Library of a Book Witch – Guest Post by Julia London

2/4/15 Curling Up With A Good Book – Interview with Sara Arden

2/5/15 My Favorite Things – Guest Post by Sarah McCarty

2/6/15 Magna Maniac Cafe – Guest Post by Cathy Gillen Thacker

Week Three

2/9/15 BookHounds – Interview with Lissa Manley

2/10/15 Fiktshun – Guest Post with Lynda Aicher

2/11/15 The Phantom Paragrapher – Guest Post with Sara Arden

2/12/15 Babs Book Bistro – Interview with Cathy Gillen Thacker

2/13/15 Reading with ABC – Interview with Julia London

The post Harlequin’s Very Valentine’s Reads – Cathy Gillen Thacker, Author of Lone Star Valentine appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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36. Spotlight and Giveaway: Jaguar Pride by Terry Spear

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Terry Spear’s latest release, Jaguar Pride. Enjoy!

Title: Jaguar Pride

Series: Heart of the Jaguar

Author: Terry Spear

ISBN: 9781402293795

Pubdate: February 3, 2015

An impossible mission…

JAG Special Forces agents Huntley Anderson and Melissa Overton are hot on the trail of poachers when they’re suddenly saddled with two jaguar shifter cubs. They have to locate the parents, pronto—but who’s going to babysit in the meantime?

A lifetime of possibilities…

Huntley is a rough, tough jaguar shifter and an all-business agent, but he’s not going to let two abandoned youngsters come to any harm on his watch. Seeing her super-manly partner try to get the playful cubs under control stirs up some unexpected desires in Melissa, and she begins to feel like Huntley’s not the only one who’s in over his head…

USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear has written over fifty paranormal and medieval Highland historical romances. In 2008 Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world. She lives in Crawford, Texas.

Excerpt

Once inside the park, Melissa and Huntley trekked for miles, not seeing much of anyone or anything, not with the way the rains were coming down in torrents in the steamy rainforest. They hadn’t found any sign of Jackson. Just a few hikers, hardier than most, who endured the rains and mud to see glimpses of wildlife here and there. When Melissa and Huntley finally set up camp for the night, she felt wet and miserable. And she couldn’t believe how Huntley looked like he could go on for several more hours when she was totally beat.

She should have regretted not sleeping more last night. But making love to him was what she’d needed. Not that she thought anything permanent was likely to come out of the relationship.

Just the same, she’d needed to feel sexy and wanted and loved. Huntley gave that to her and more. So when he’d wanted more, she just couldn’t say no, despite knowing that she needed a good seven hours of sleep to feel normal the next day.

She was thinking of Jackson and how he had slipped away from them the first time. She hoped they’d find him soon. Then gunshots fired off in the distance.

Her heart skipped a couple of beats.

“We don’t have time to take down the tent. Do we go as humans or jaguars?” Huntley quickly asked her.

She loved that about him—how he always included her in the decision making. “If they’re rangers or police, I want to go as humans. Even if they’re poachers, I think we’ll be safer if we look like we are ‘tourists.’ We can always shift when we get there if we need to.”

“Sounds good.”

At least they were armed with tranquilizer guns this time.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Apple

BAM

B&N

Chapters

Indiebound

Kobo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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37. Millennium Snow Review

Title: Millennium Snow Genre: Romance Publisher: Hakusensha (JP), Viz Manga (US) Story/Artist: Bisco Hatori Serialized in: Lala in 2001, Lala DX in 2013 Original Release Date: June 3, 2014 Review copy provided by Viz Media Bisco Hatori’s name may not be well-known in the west but her most famous work, Ouran High School Host Club, still finds new ... Read more

1 Comments on Millennium Snow Review, last added: 2/6/2015
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38. Review: The Millionaire Rogue by Jessica Peterson

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I liked The Millionaire Rogue so much better than Jessica Peterson’s debut effort,  The Gentleman Jewel Thief!  It takes place in the same time frame as the first book in the series, through Thomas Hope and Sophia’s POV. I liked Hope so much better than Harclay, and Harclay was my major sticking point with the last book.  He’s such a selfish sot that I had a hard time seeing him as a romantic lead.  He didn’t behave in a manner expected of heroes, and his reasons for behaving so badly were nonsensical.  It made me feel better every time Hope referred to his nemesis in a derogatory way, because somebody needed to call the jerk out for his poor behavior!

In The Millionaire Rogue, we see how Hope comes to possess the French Blue, and how its theft almost bankrupts him and his dreams to continue the family banking business.  Lassoed to assist the Crown in derailing Napoleon, Thomas reluctantly resumes his association with Henry Lake.  Lake is a spy, and Thomas owes him big time.  Lake helped him escape from France, and also saved him from a shipboard accident that left Lake maimed.  Coerced into helping his old friend gain an advantage for England against the French, Hope agrees as long as it’s the last time.  As in – the very last favor he’ll grant Lake, who has a creepy aversion to using normal methods of contacting acquaintances, like walking through the front door.  No, Lake would prefer to creep through shadows and crawl through open windows, scaring the bejesus out of Hope every single time.

I liked both Thomas and Sophia, and thought that they suited each other well.  Sophia is making her debut, and she needs to snag a wealthy, titled bachelor in order to save her penniless family.  Though she is attracted to both Thomas and the dangerous situations she finds herself in because of him, she knows that they have no future. He is a working man, and a banker to boot!  After the diamond is stolen and Hope’s fortunes quickly decline, it’s even more impossible for them to be together.  Witnessing the fall of Hope’s bank, wealth, and dreams made Harclay seem an even bigger cad.

The action flowed more smoothly than in the first book, with coach chases, hiding from French cutthroats, and evading a French spy with a grudge.  I still didn’t like the goofy scheme to recover the diamond from Eliason’s ship, but it was much more abbreviated version here, which made it more palatable.  I would really like to read more about Withington, Sophia’s targeted catch for the season, and hope that we will have the opportunity to see him find a HEA.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

In an age of stately decorum, the Hope Diamond was a source of delicious intrigue—and a font of unimaginable adventure…
Though not of noble birth, Thomas Hope has a skill in banking that’s made him one of the richest, most trusted men in London. Still, he keeps his dubious past hidden. So when an old acquaintance calls on Hope to help acquire the infamous French Blue Diamond, he’s desperate to be discreet. He never expects that his biggest concern shouldn’t be losing his reputation, but his heart…

Sophia Blaise is determined to make a brilliant match with this season’s most eligible, most titled bachelor, but her true passion has been ignited by the incredible stories she hears while secretly transcribing the memoirs of a notorious Madam. After a night of clandestine writing ends with Sophia caught up in a scandalous adventure of her own—with an alluring banker—she begins to question whether she’s suited to the proper life she’s always known…

Caught up in a thrilling exploit and unexpected romance, Sophia must make a choice between what her head knows is safe and what her heart desperately desires, before both slip from her grasp forever…

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39. Spotlight and Giveaway: Playing Dirty by HelenKay Dimon

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for HelenKay Dimon’s latest release, Playing Dirty.  Enjoy!

Playing Dirty
Bad Boys Undercover # 1

By: HelenKay Dimon

Releasing Jan 27th, 2015

Avon Romance

Blurb

As an elite Alliance agent—the joint undercover operation of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, and the CIA—Ford Decker lives for the adrenaline. But when he befriends sexy property manager Shay Alexander in hopes of finding her cousin, a known national security threat, Ford crosses the line, getting to know her better . . . in bed.

After being burned by her last relationship, Shay wants to take things slow. Yet she can’t keep her hands off the drop-dead gorgeous hottie who’s moved into her apartment building. So when Ford’s identity as an undercover agent is exposed, his betrayal cuts deep. Shay never wants to see him again, but Ford can’t let her go, not when her life is still in danger. He will sacrifice everything to protect her, then be prepared to walk away from the only woman he’s ever loved, even if it breaks him.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/playing-dirty-bad-boys-undercover-1-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22043162-playing-dirty?from_search=true

See the Series on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/series/127877-bad-boys-undercover

Buy Links : Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Playing-Dirty-Bad-Boys-Undercover/dp/0062330055

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/playing-dirty-helenkay-dimon/1119440276?ean=9780062330055

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/playing-dirty/id714578761?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/search?query=HelenKay%20Dimon&fcsearchfield=Author&fclanguages=all

Author Info

HelenKay Dimon is a former divorce attorney turned full-time romance author. Odd transition, right? She has sold over thirty novels, novellas and shorts to numerous publishers, including Kensington, Harlequin and Penguin, Samhain, Carina Press, and HarperCollins. Her nationally bestselling and award-winning books have been showcased in numerous venues and her books have twice been named “Red-Hot Reads” and excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. But the best part of the job is never having to wear pantyhose.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |Goodreads

 

 

PLAYING DIRTY by HelenKay Dimon

Excerpt:

                It was almost four o’clock in the afternoon when Ford walked into her apartment. One firm knock, then the keys jingled in the lock before she could get up from the kitchen table. Seeing him walk in—was that a beer ad on his shirt?—had her brain misfiring.

                His biceps bunched under the edge of his tee. Be- tween the scruff around his chin, big smile, and dark brooding good looks, she felt something gurgle in her throat. It was as if she were treading water and getting tugged under. She’d talked about having someone steal her breath before. With Ford she lived the sensation.

                While she loved seeing him, she had no idea why she was right now. He worked long hours and four o’clock qualified more as lunch than his quitting time. With one leg crossed over the other and her foot bouncing against the floor, she stared him down. She held her pen in a death grip to keep from fidgeting and flinging it around.

                The more still he stood there, leaning in the doorway, the more nervous she became. Energy rolled through her, all jumbled and making her twitchy. Maybe if he’d stop staring back. “Ford?”

                “That’s hot.”

                She followed his gaze to her hands. The edge of her checkbook dug into her palm from where she clenched it. With her elbows balanced on the table, she tried to ease the tension in her shoulders and relax, though that rarely worked with him around. “What?”

                This time he gestured with his chin. “You. Right there.”

                She lifted her hand and pointed the bottom of the pen in his general direction. “I’m writing a check.”

                “Exactly.”

                “You should see me vacuum.” She wanted to laugh but no sound came out. His effect on her scared her sometimes.

                “Are you trying to break my concentration?”

                “I don’t even know what you’re doing here at this time of the day.” Standing, leaning, generally making her insides jump and jiggle.

                “Staring.”

                She noticed that, too. “Okay . . . why?”

                “All that traveling, all those times I leave . . .” His voice trailed off as he pushed away from the door and came toward her. “I want to remember your face.”

                That sounded like a goodbye or a break. Like some- thing she did not want and would fight to fend off. “Are you telling me you’re leaving again?”

                He kept walking until she stood next to her chair. “Just for twenty-four hours.”

                Just. “Honestly, Ford. Who needs this type of non- stop computer service?”

                He made a face. “Uh, everyone?”

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Three Sets including an ebook of RUNNING HOT and Print Copy of PLAYING DIRTY)

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40. Interview and Giveaway: Gwyn Cready, Author of Just in Time for a Highlander

 

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

[Gwyn Cready] Etsy-shopping, Scrabble-playing, hot-bath-loving kilt tipper.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Just in Time for a Highlander?

[Gwyn Cready] Just in Time for a Highlander, and the whole Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series, is a reversal of the usual time travel Highlander romances with the woman traveling back in time. In JITFAH, young, beautiful and fiercely independent Abby Kerr, the head of Clan Kerr, seeks the help of a fortune teller in order to find a strong arm who can help her maintain order over her men in the borderlands of 1705. But this is clearly a case of “Be careful what you wish for” because she ends up with Duncan MacHarg, a dashing Scot working on Wall Street in the twentieth century who knows little about clans and nothing about fighting battles—until she teaches him.

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

[Gwyn Cready] In my favorite scene, Abby must teach Duncan to fight with a sword. Earlier, he has accidentally caught a glimpse of her bathing, which infuriates her, and to get even she tells him that the best way to teach a student to pay attention in a sword fight is to make him fight naked. Duncan complies and is forced to strip under Abby’s carefully scrutinizing gaze.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Gwyn Cready] All of it, really. The sex scenes, of course, but it was also fun being in the villain’s head in this one. He’s quite amusing.

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

[Gwyn Cready] My phone and Pink Lemonade Lip Smackers.

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

[Gwyn Cready] I don’t have a desk. I curl up in the corner of comfortable leather couch to write, so a lap desk from IKEA, an ancho chile latte, and Socks, my silky terrier.

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

[Gwyn Cready] A cheese plate made by my husband.

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

[Gwyn Cready] Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Tina Fey.

[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?

[Gwyn Cready] The power to look good in a pair of jeans. Shop.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Gwyn Cready] I loved, loved, loved Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? If you’ve ever taken care of a loved one in their later years, you’ll love this touching and humorous graphic novel. I’m reading Diana Gabaldon’s Written in My Own Heart’s Blood now, and it is, of course, wonderful.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Gwyn Cready] On Twitter, on Facebook, at cready.com, or at gwyn@cready.com.

Title: Just in Time for a Highlander

Series: Sirens of the Scottish

Author: Gwyn Cready

ISBN: 9781492601937

Pubdate: February 3rd, 2015

From RITA winner Gwyn Cready comes a Scottish borderlands time travel romance perfect for fans of Outlander

For Duncan MacHarg, things just got real…

Battle reenactor and financier Duncan MacHarg thinks he has it made—until he lands in the middle of a real Clan Kerr battle and comes face to face with their beautiful, spirited leader. Out of time and out of place, Duncan must use every skill he can muster to earn his position among the clansmen and in the heart of the devastatingly intriguing woman to whom he must pledge his oath.

Abby needs a hero and she needs him now

When Abigail Ailich Kerr sees a handsome, mysterious stranger materialize in the midst of her clan’s skirmish with the English, she’s stunned to discover he’s the strong arm she’s been praying for. Instead of a tested fighter, the fierce young chieftess has been given a man with no measurable battle skills and a damnably distracting smile. And the only way to get rid of him is to turn him into a Scots warrior herself—one demanding and intimate lesson at a time.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Apple

B&N

BAM

Chapters

Indiebound

Kobo

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41. Spotlight and Giveaway: Rescue Me by Catherine Mann

Rescue Me banner

I loved Shelter Me by Catherine Mann, so I am excited to share the news about the latest release in her Second Chance Ranch series.  If you like dogs or are interested in animal rescue at all, this these books will appeal to you.  I’ll have a review of Rescue Me up soon, so please check back!

This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 2 till 8 February, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.

 


Rescue MeRescue Me (Second Chance Ranch #2)
By Catherine Mann
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: February 3, 2015

Blurb:

A rescued dog returns the favor in the latest Second Chance Romance from USA Today bestselling author of Shelter Me.

Detective AJ Parker left undercover work in Atlanta to join a small-town Tennessee police force, hoping for an easier workload and the solitude of his cabin. But the scars left by AJ’s previous work are more difficult to escape than he thought…

Mary Hannah Gallo works with the Second Chance Ranch Animal Rescue to train therapy dogs for traumatized patients. It isn’t easy, but her life is under control—until she meets the broodingly sensual AJ, who rattles her composure all the way to her toes.

After an assignment confiscating dogs from a backyard breeder reveals a dangerous drug operation, AJ must work with sexy perfectionist Mary Hannah to train an abused rescue dog—a dog now named Holly. While Holly proves to these two very different people that opposites can, in fact, attract, she also knows more than a few explosive secrets that could heal—or divide—the entire town.



You can find Rescue Me on Goodreads

You can buy Rescue Me here:
- Amazon
- Barnes & Noble
- Kobo


First book in the series:
Shelter MeShelter Me (Second Chance Ranch #1)
By Catherine Mann
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: August 5, 2014

Blurb:

Nestled in the sunny fields of Tennessee lies the McDaniel family’s Second Chance Ranch Animal Rescue. Two new arrivals are on their way, but only one is the four-legged kind.

Staff Sergeant Mike Kowalski wants only one thing after he gets home from Iraq: to sleep in a king-sized bed with clean sheets. But first, he has to hand off his fallen commander’s dog, Trooper, to his family without handing off his heart to Sierra…

Sierra McDaniel needs a break. Her family life is crazy, and when she’s not mucking out kennels, she’s slogging through grad school. Sierra certainly doesn’t want another dog, especially one that reminds her of her father. And she definitely doesn’t want to see Mike with that charming smile of his…

But Trooper has a mission of his own. Before too long Mike is moving to the ranch to lend a hand—and hoping for his own second chance with Sierra.



You can find Shelter Me on Goodreads

You can buy Shelter Me here:
- Amazon
- Barnes & Noble
- Kobo


Catherine MannAbout the Author:
USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann and RITA Award winner, Catherine writes contemporary romance for Berkley, Harlequin, Sourcebooks and Tule. With over sixty books in released in more than twenty countries, she has also celebrated six RITA finals, an RT Reviewer’s Award finalist, three Maggie Award of Excellence finals and a Bookseller’s Best win.

A former theater school director and university instructor, she holds a Master’s degree in Theater from UNC-Greensboro and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts: Theater (with minors in both English and Education) from the College of Charleston.

Catherine and her flyboy husband live on the Florida coast where they brought up their 4 children – and still have 5 four-legged, furry “children” (aka pets). Catherine is an active volunteer with her local Humane Society, serving on their Board of Directors, fostering over 200 puppies, ill dogs, and dogs with service/working potential. She recently checked off a major item on her “bucket list” by completing her Florida State Animal Rescue Coalition and starting her own rescue with three friends – The Sunshine State Animal Rescue. Catherine enjoys hearing from her readers and can be found online daily. To receive an autographed bookmark, send a SASE to: P.O. Box 6065, Navarre, FL 32566


You can find and contact Catherine here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Pinterest

Catherine Mann has begun an animal rescue of her own with three friends – Sunshine State Animal Rescue in the Florida Panhandle. Here’s their facebook page if you want more info.

They rescue from high kill shelters and do traditional adoptions as well as help identify potential service dogs and search and rescue dogs at shelters.

EXCERPT:

A Second Chance Ranch Romance…

RESCUE ME

By

Catherine Mann

Prologue

For twenty-eight years I had three names – Bitch, Fat Mama and Dumbass.

I didn’t dare ignore the voice that growled more fiercely than any animal. I didn’t question if I deserved to have a single name of my own. My existence followed a pattern. Hungry, not hungry. Hurt, healed. Pregnant, nursing. And above all, obey or pay.

Looking back, the contrast from then to my life now is staggering. Some people have said they wonder how I survived so long in that cabin with limited human contact, only the drone of game shows on television and the bubbling mix in the kitchen to break the tedium. How I kept my spirit intact. How I didn’t turn into a mirror image of the voice that both fed me and hurt me. I have to confess I came close to becoming like the soulless monsters that drifted in and out during those early years.

Until I was saved from crawling into the dark hole of hurt and misery forever. I was given a hint of hope beyond the rank four walls of my home.

I smelled honeysuckle.

Just a whiff of the perfume drifted through an open window one summer Tennessee day. At first, I thought I’d imagined it. I tipped my nose into that gentle breeze curling through the half cracked pane, each puff parting the despair one ripple at a time. Overriding even the constant hum of quiz shows.

Then there it was again. Honeysuckle. Sweet. Soft. Light. Everything opposite of what I’d known from birth.

Desperate for more, I crawled to the window, slowly, praying no one would see me. Life was easier if I stayed hidden, because otherwise I feared I would one day have to fight back. Still I was willing to risk detection to breathe more of that flowery perfume.

I have a particularly keen sense of smell, so living in a filthy meth house for twenty-eight years took a toll on me. And just to clarify, twenty-eight human years equates to four dog years for me. As a dog, that explains why the stench hit me hard.

Did you know that canines can identify smells up to ten thousand times better than a human? Well, we can. I learned that about sniffers on Jeopardy. My brain has forty percent more capacity devoted to smell than yours. Not that I mean to sound condescending or call you inferior. Facts are facts. I have over two million olfactory sensors in my nose. You have opposable thumbs. Truly, aromatherapy is wasted on you people.

I like facts. The endless television programs offered that much at least, game show after game show. Back then, I embraced those quizzes, soaking up data, anything to prove I wasn’t a dumbass at all. If I’d been a human and hadn’t started having babies so early, I’ve often thought I would have become a professor with thick black glasses. I would have sequestered myself in an office lined with books, solitude. Peace.

But back to my sniffer.

Back to the honeysuckle.

And how all that relates to the day I found freedom in a splintered door.

To be clear, I spent my life watching methamphetamine being cooked, smoked, shot, sold. The rancid odor of the drug left me groggy. Sometimes even made me snarl, when that’s not my nature. The smell of it saturated the walls, peeling the paper down in strips I chewed in moments of frenzied boredom. It permeated the saggy sofa I never sat on. Even clung to the mattresses on the floor in both bedrooms where junkies had sex. Worst of all, the toxic clouds hung in the kitchen, counters packed with everything from drain cleaner to funnels to my bowl full of scraps.

But that afternoon during my fourth summer, when I discovered honeysuckle, I considered that maybe, just maybe there was something better for me, if only I could wait long enough to escape farther than the chain in the yard allowed.

Easier said than done, because I was a money maker, just like that steaming meth cooker. My litters of boxer pups were worth a lot, so I ate well, periodically. No one kicked me for a while. Until my babies were taken away so I could breed again. They always took them too early, and then I was alone.

You may already be thinking “puppy mill,” but that’s not one hundred percent accurate. The woman who owned me – I won’t bother to distinguish her with a name – would be more appropriately labeled a backyard breeder who used me and other dogs to supplement her meth income. Up until that honeysuckle moment in my fourth summer, I thought my mission in life was to have babies for people to love even if I never got to experience that feeling myself, other than for the few brief weeks I was allowed to keep each litter, their warm tiny bodies snuggled up against me.

By the fourth winter, I wondered if I’d imagined a honeysuckle world just to survive. I began to lose hope, drawing in nothing but the fumes that made me mean.

Then, on the bitterest, coldest morning my world changed on a larger scale with another beautiful scent. Peppermint. It’s still my favorite perfume, even above honeysuckle. Those two beautiful smells outnumbered the one evil stench of this cabin. There was more out there past my chain. So much more.

And I thank the Big Master who made us that the peppermint-scented lady understood I was not at my best the day she and the sad-eyed policeman broke down the meth house door to rescue me.


There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Rescue Me. This giveaway is US Only. These are the prizes you can win:

- Two winners will get a $25 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble and an autographed copy of Shelter Me by Catherine Mann (US Only).

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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Lola's Blog Tours

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42. Spotlight and Giveaway: Let Them Talk by Susanna Carr

 
Enter to Win
$25.00 eGift Card to choice Book Seller

 
Let Them Talk
Encounters
Susanna Carr
Releasing February 1st, 2015
Harlequin Blaze

 
A risqué book club inspires three women to be naughty…

THE DIARY

Sydney Tate is writing a fictional erotic diary inspired by the town’s mouthwateringly hot mayor, Matthew Stone. Then her “diary” disappears and suddenly Matthew is bringing all of Sydney’s secret fantasies to life!

TALK OF THE TOWN

Armed with a seduction how-to guide, librarian Isabel Bennett is pulling out every trick in the book to tempt Sean Hawkins. The oh-so-sexy businessman is about to find out just how bad this good girl can be…

CRAVING YOU

Laura Dawson is desperate to get her gorgeous neighbor, Connor Adams, into her bed. So she turns to an aphrodisiac cookbook to serve up the most tantalizing, irresistible dish Connor has ever seen herself.



BUY NOW
 

 
There was something different in the way he looked at her today. His light blue eyes held a predatory gleam.

Impossible. The man had no interest in hunting her. It was wishful thinking on her part.

“Why are you here, Sean? I don’t remember you coming into the library before.” She tilted her head as she considered his lack of visits. “Do you have a library card?”

“I wanted to talk to you about your book club,” he said. “I want in.”

She blinked a few times. She couldn’t possibly have heard that correctly. “Excuse me?”

“I want to join your book club.”

He seemed serious. “Why?” The word dragged out of her mouth.

“Why do most people join a book club? To discuss books and read something out of their comfort zone.”

Isabel frowned. “You only read e-mails and business magazines.”

“True.” Sean nodded. “Time to broaden my horizons, don’t you think?”

“No. What are you up to, Sean?” She couldn’t figure out what his angle could be.

“When’s your next meeting?”

She straightened her shoulders. No, no, no. He wasn’t going to invade her book club. She wasn’t going to have him ask provocative questions or slice through her arguments. Okay, so that would be welcome in most book clubs, but she wasn’t going to share her thoughts with him about these books. “It’s by invitation only.”

“Then invite me.”

She shivered at his low and rough voice. “No.”

“Why not?”

“You wouldn’t understand.” Their meetings were her safe place. A time to bounce ideas off her friends and ask questions. After plenty of Sunday dinners with Sean, she knew the book club’s discussions would completely deteriorate into a battle of wills if he was there.

Sean rested his chin against his hand. “Are you worried that I would learn all your secrets? Find out all the tricks and tips from your readings?”

It was a concern. Knowledge was power. These books emboldened her and she was learning how to reach out and take what she wanted. But the bold side of her wasn’t fully formed, and she couldn’t discuss these subjects with him until it was.

“I want to join the book club,” he said firmly.

“No.” Never. Not going to happen.
 

 
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Susanna Carr is an award-winning author known for her contemporary romances. Readers throughout the world find Susanna’s stories a delightful escape that has often helped them through difficult times. Reviewers frequently describe her work as “fun”, “sexy” and “a must read.” When she isn’t writing or spending time with her family in the Pacific Northwest, Susanna enjoys reading romance and connecting with readers online.

Find Susanna Here




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43. Guest Post and Giveaway: Cynthia Sax, Author of Sinful Rewards 7

Cynthia Sax dropped by the virtual offices to share her Top Five writing distractions.  Be sure to enter the giveaway, too!

Cynthia Sax’s Top Five Writing Distractions by Cynthia Sax

Back when I was juggling a (more than) full time business gig and writing, I once complained to a writing mentor that I didn’t have the time to write.

“Did you watch TV last night?” she asked.

“Only for an hour.” I had to be honest.

“That’s a thousand words you could have written.” She had no sympathy in her voice. “Did you read?”

“A 40 page short,” I admitted.

“That’s another thousand words you could have written.”

“What did you do at lunch?”

“I chatted with co-workers.” I hung my head. “Yeah, I know. That’s another thousand words.”

She drilled me with question after question, revealing enough time for me to have written at least ten thousand words that day. That’s 40 pages, an entire short story I tossed away, claiming I didn’t have time to write.

The lesson was clear. We have time for anything we wish to make a priority. We can write one hundred words in a grocery check out line, five hundred words while waiting for a dentist appointment, three hundred words while sitting on the toilet IF we want this dream enough (and if we don’t, we should think about finding a dream we DO want this much – life is too short to waste on dreams we’re not passionate about). From that day onward, I ALWAYS had a pen and notebook with me.

That doesn’t mean I don’t face distractions. I do, definitely. And here are my top five.

  1. Reading

Reading was the reason I first sent my stories to publishers. I speed read, averaging one erotic romance a day, and my book budget is huge. My dear wonderful hubby and I have a policy to make every hobby or love pay for itself.

Now, especially as I can justify reading as ‘research’, there’s the temptation to read all day and not write down any of the stories floating around in my own head. I use reading as a reward. If I get my five thousand fresh words done, I can read a novella.

  1. Internet

Facebook, email, blogging, and other internet activities are more distractions I can justify as being business related. It is easy to go on Facebook, chatting with reading and writing buddies and not get any writing done. I receive over 1,000 emails a day from reading buddies, other writers, bloggers, editors, my agent, marketing partners. I could simply reply to emails all day.

My solution is, again, using the internet as a reward. Writing comes first, then emails or Facebook. Luckily, I have some buddies (like Bad Barb – waves at Barb) who will slap my hands if I’m on Facebook and my words aren’t written.

Over the holidays, I took a social media free holiday, two and a half weeks of only the most basic communication, merely checking every three days for must-take-action-now emails from my editors, agent, or marketing partners. Wow. Did it restore my creativity! I was able to throw myself completely into my most recent story with no distractions. I definitely recommend this to any writer!

  1. The Dear Wonderful Hubby

My dear wonderful hubby is a salesman. That means he loves to talk and I love listening to him. He makes me laugh. He’s also the basis for many of my heroes.

The issue is… every time he talks to me, he draws me out of the story. It then takes me about a half an hour to get back into the world I’m building.

When he’s working from home, I decrease my target word count and we honor working hours. From nine to noon, he’ll work in another room, behind closed doors. We’ll have an hour lunch together. Then, from one to six, he’ll go back to his makeshift home office.

One additional benefit of this is he sees I treat the writing seriously. It is a (more than) full time job, a job that I love and I’m lucky to do, but this job requires concentration and hard work. My family members already know this as I don’t answer calls during the traditional work day (I write until six o’clock. After six, I switch my focus to marketing and promotion.). I’ll allow the calls to go to voicemail and play them at lunch or after my work day is done.

  1. Research

I call research the black hole because it is so easy to dive into a subject, a subject needed for a story I’m writing, and not resurface for weeks. Again, I complete my fresh words first. If I don’t know something, I’ll leave a gap or write XXX. Once my words are completed, I’ll research the subject. I find writing needs a fresh brain but research can be done when my brain is fried.

  1. Other Story Ideas

Story ideas are one of the most tricksy of all distractions because we, writers, know how fleeting they are. We have a flash of inspiration and, if we don’t take action, the inspiration is gone.

What I do is quickly sketch out everything I ‘see’. This is usually the premise or the first scene. I then add this idea to my top 100 list. Yes, I maintain a list of my top 100 story ideas. Ideas fall off this list every week. I’ll never be able to write every story I want to write. That’s stressful and thrilling and one of the many reasons I’ll never stop writing.

What are your top writing distractions? How do you deal with them?

 

Sinful Rewards 7
A Billionaires and Bikers Novella

By: Cynthia Sax

Releasing January 20th, 2015

Avon Romance

Blurb

Bee Carter has been offered everything she has ever dreamed of—a caring, lasting relationship with a handsome, often charming billionaire; the permanent home she’s never had but has always craved; and wealth to buy the designer fashions she loves, support her hard-working mother, and ensure her acceptance by Chicago’s elite.

To obtain what she’s desired for so long, she has to do only two things: Walk away from her best friend, a woman who is destined to betray her … and end her passionate nightly encounters with a certain tattooed biker, a former Marine who can never give her what she needs.

Her answer should be clear, but the heart has a way of complicating even the most straightforward decisions.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/sinful-rewards-7-billionaires-and.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22138427-sinful-rewards-7?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/136907-sinful-rewards

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Cynthia Sax lives in a world filled with magic and romance. Although her heroes may not always say, “I love you,” they will do anything for the women they adore. They live passionately. They play hard. They love the same women forever. Cynthia has loved the same wonderful man forever. Her supportive hubby offers himself up to the joys and pains of research while they travel the world together, meeting fascinating people and finding inspiration in exotic places such as Istanbul, Bali, and Chicago.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter| Goodreads

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Digital Bundle of SINFUL REWARDS Books 1-3)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Sinful Rewards Series Buy Links

Sinful Rewards 1

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sinful-Rewards-1-Cynthia-Sax-ebook/dp/B00I7V89H0

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sinfulrewards1-1560586-237.html

Barnes And Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sinful-rewards-1-cynthia-sax/1119055390

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Cynthia_Sax_Sinful_Rewards_1?id=g08ZAwAAQBAJ

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sinful-rewards-1/id814148703?mt=11

Sinful Rewards 2

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sinful-Rewards-Billionaires-Bikers-Novella-ebook/dp/B00I7V89HA

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sinfulrewards2-1581413-149.html

Barnes And Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sinful-rewards-2-cynthia-sax/1119919836

Google: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9780062354129

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sinful-rewards-2/id814153762

Sinful Rewards 3

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sinful-Rewards-Billionaires-Bikers-Novella-ebook/dp/B00I7V89JS

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sinfulrewards3-1613793-149.html

Barnes And Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sinful-rewards-3-cynthia-sax/1119919837

Google: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9780062354143

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sinful-rewards-3/id814148707

Sinful Rewards 4

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sinful-Rewards-Billionaires-Bikers-Novella-ebook/dp/B00I7V89N4

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sinfulrewards4-1645053-149.html

Barnes And Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sinful-rewards-4-cynthia-sax/1119919839

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Cynthia_Sax_Sinful_Rewards_4?id=PvxzAwAAQBAJ

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sinful-rewards-4/id814148698

Sinful Rewards 5

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sinful-Rewards-5-Cynthia-Sax-ebook/dp/B00IMHU7FG

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sinful-rewards-5-cynthia-sax/1119919838?ean=9780062354167&isbn=9780062354167

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sinfulrewards5-1663924-237.html

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sinful-rewards-5/id828414457?mt=11

Sinful Rewards 6

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sinful-Rewards-Billionaires-Bikers-Novella-ebook/dp/B00J7Q61WO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416173517&sr=8-1&keywords=sinful+rewards+6

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sinful-rewards-6-cynthia-sax/1119919840?ean=9780062354204

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sinful-rewards-6/id847609485?mt=11

The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Cynthia Sax, Author of Sinful Rewards 7 appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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44. TURNING PAGES: I'LL MEET YOU THERE, by HEATHER DEMITRIOS

out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each otherdoesn’t make any sense. - RumiThere's a... Read the rest of this post

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45. Guest Post and Giveaway: Rachel Lacey, Author of For Keeps

I was able to chat with Rachel Lacey, and she answered the question below.  Check out her response, and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

TJ is planning the perfect dinner date to woo Merry – What are the Top 5 items on the menu?

Ooh, great question! There is a scene in FOR KEEPS where TJ plans to woo Merry with a romantic home-cooked meal, but it never quite happens. Here’s my chance to decide what was on the menu that night…

1. Merry spends more time taking care of others than herself, so TJ would want to make this dinner really special for her. He’d start them off with some strawberries and other fruit to dip. Strawberries are an aphrodisiac, and they’re just fun to feed to each other :)

2. Of course they’d need a glass (or two) of champagne to go with the fruit.

3. Merry’s not big on health food – especially not on a night like this – so he’d skip the salad and serve a baked brie in puff pastry instead.

4. For the entree, he’d grill steak and lobster tails. TJ’s not much of a chef, but he knows his way around a grill, and this would be sure to fill them up after a long day on the farm. He might even make a joke about the lobsters being crawfish just to make her laugh (you’ll have to read FOR KEEPS to find out why!) :)

5. Merry loves chocolate, so after stuffing themselves on surf and turf, TJ would finish off the night with a nice, light chocolate mousse.

 

About FOR KEEPS:

A SUMMER FLING . . . OR SOMETHING MORE?

Merry Atwater would do just about anything to save her dog rescue – even if it means working with the most stubborn man on the planet. It’s hard to avoid the sparks that fly with TJ Jameson, the ruggedly sexy cowboy in charge of the children’s camp where she’s just taken an animal therapy job. But commitment is not Merry’s style, and TJ clearly wants more than just a roll in the hay. TJ Jameson isn’t looking for anything complicated-just a peaceful life on his family’s ranch with a wife and kids. “No-strings” Merry Atwater doesn’t fit that bill, no matter how irresistible she is. But when he sees how Merry gets through to his autistic nephew and the other kids at Camp Blue Sky, TJ’s a goner. If he doesn’t give in to the now, he might just lose his shot at forever . . .

About Rachel Lacey:

Rachel Lacey lives in North Carolina, with her husband, son, and their own rescued pup. She volunteers her spare time with Carolina Boxer Rescue and truly has a passion for helping our furry friends. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her local Heart of Carolina RWA chapter.

Rachel’s SM:

@rachelslacey

www.rachellacey.com

http://facebook.com/RachelLaceyAuthor

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8150779.Rachel_Lacey?from_search=true

Buy Links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1xkN5pc

BAM – http://bit.ly/17E21Kv

B&N – http://bit.ly/1AWAKPw

IndieBound – http://bit.ly/1AWAH6a

GooglePlay – http://bit.ly/1u3e1JX

iTunes – http://bit.ly/1u27ViN

Kobo – http://bit.ly/1CeOF0t


 

Excerpt:

His expression heated until his eyes practically burned her.

She nibbled her bottom lip. “I should, uh, I should go.”

“It’s late,” he said, his voice like gravel. It tickled all her sweet spots.

She stared at his hands, those big calloused fingers. Damn, but she wanted to feel them on her skin. Like, now.

“Really late.” She took a step, but her feet accidentally carried her toward T.J., not the door.

He sucked in an audible breath, his eyes scorching hers. “I thought you were going.”

“So did I.” But fuck it. If she was going to be in his house in the middle of the night in her underwear, she might as well give him a kiss goodnight.

She’d never been known for her self-control, after all.

He watched her, not moving a muscle, as if he’d become rooted to the floor.

She put her palms on his biceps and pressed her lips to his. Just a quick kiss to test the waters, because they did have to work together for the next month.

His scent wrapped around her, filled her lungs, and stole her sanity. She lingered for a moment, her lips on his, so soft, so warm. Just enough to make her want more. So much more.

Her body pulsed with it.

She was about to pull back and tell him goodnight when his arms slid around her waist, securing her against the firm column of his body, and oh God, she was a goner.

“What was that?” he whispered against her lips.

She slid her hands up to encircle his neck. “A goodnight kiss.”

“And why would you do something like that?” His voice vibrated through her.

“Because I wanted to.” Their bodies were pressed together, and though he hadn’t kissed her back, he wanted to. She felt the evidence pressed against her belly.

“Bad idea,” he growled, his lips still touching hers, teasing, tempting.

“Oh, yeah?” She could hardly breathe. Every nerve tingled with awareness, desperate for his touch, his kiss. More. More of everything.

Her heart throbbed in her chest.

T.J.’s eyes smoldered into hers, his pupils blown with lust. His body vibrated with tension, his arms like steel bands around her. “Yeah.”

“Then send me home.” She wiggled in his arms, pressing into his erection, tempting him, willing him to kiss her back. Just for tonight.

She needed to be kissed. She needed to feel.

And he could make her…

His lips crushed hers, taking her so suddenly, so thoroughly, that she didn’t have time to draw a breath. She heard herself groan, felt the desire inside her explode into something so completely out of control it almost frightened her.

Her back slammed into the wall, and her legs wrapped around his waist. His tongue plunged into her mouth, gliding against hers in a rhythm so perfect she shuddered in his arms. He lifted her hips, grinding himself against her until her eyes rolled back in her head, and…

Holy shit, holy shit.

She must have lost her mind. Her body burned, quaked, shook for him, and he felt so fucking good. He tasted like sin, sweet and sexy, like leather and cowboy boots, and…

Holy shit.

She needed more. She needed everything. She needed him buried deep inside her, groaning her name as he drove her over the edge, as he came inside her, and…

Holy shit.

This was completely out of control.

“Holy shit.” The words came from T.J.’s lips, not her own, as he tore his mouth from hers and speared her with his gaze. He panted for breath, his body coiled against hers, so hard, so ready. She felt every inch of him still pressed between her legs, right where her body burned hottest for him. “What the hell was that?”

She laughed. “If you don’t know, then you’re more out of practice than I am.”

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46. Guest Post and Giveaway: Lily Dalton, Author of Never Surrender to a Scoundrel

Lily Dalton is celebrating the release of Never Surrender to a Scoundrel!  She stopped by the virtual offices to share a guest post, as well as an excerpt from her latest book.  There is also a giveaway you can enter!

Five Things Dominick, the Spy, Doesn’t Leave Home Without by Lily Dalton

  1. A silver cheroot case, which contains not only his favorite Burmese cheroots but a small set of specialized tools useful for all manner of circumstances, such as prying open locked boxes filled with secrets, and enabling one to make a fast escape when imprisoned against one’s will.

  2. A fashionable cane sword walking stick–which with a flick of his wrist, converts into a deadly dagger.

  3. An onyx ring that conceals within its hinged lid, the Secret Service intaglio he uses to certify his clandestine reports before they are delivered to the Home Office.

  4. His scars. Concealed by his clothing, they accompany him everywhere, reminders of past missions, and proof of his loyalty to his monarch and country. However, as a spy, he will never discuss the circumstances by which those painful badges of honor were earned.

  5. A Rundell, Bridge and Rundell pocket watch, recently given to him by the Prince Regent, in recognition of his heroism and bravery.

 

About NEVER SURRENDER TO A SCOUNDREL:

A Reckless Desire . . .

Lady Clarissa Bevington is in trouble. A reckless indiscretion has left her with two choices: ruin her family with the scandal of the Season, or marry Mr. Kincraig, the notorious scoundrel mistaken as her lover. Desperate and disgraced, Clarissa vows to love and cherish a veritable stranger, a man whose eyes smolder with danger-and undeniable desire . . . 

An Unexpected Arrangement

As an agent for the Crown, Lord Donovan Blackmer has spent the last two years guarding Clarissa’s grandfather from an unknown assassin while disguised as the rakehell Kincraig. His mission may now be over, but his duty has just begun. Salvaging his beautiful, impetuous wife’s virtue will cost him his fortune and his position as an officer-but it might save him from the ghosts that haunt his own past. When their marriage “in name only” leads to exquisite seduction, Donovan must risk the only thing he has left to lose . . . his heart.

About Lily Dalton:

Lily Dalton grew up as an Army brat, moving from place to place. Her first stop after relocating was always the local library, where she could hang out with familiar friends: Books! Lily has an English degree from Texas A & M University and after graduation worked as a legal assistant in the fields of accident reconstruction and litigation. She now lives in Houston, Texas, with her family. When she isn’t at work on her next manuscript, she spends her time trying out new recipes, cheering on her favorite Texas football teams and collecting old dishes, vintage linens and other fine “junque” from thrift stores and flea markets.


Lily’s SM:

@LilyDalton

http://www.lilydalton.com

http://facebook.com/LilyDaltonAuthor

Buy Links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1u0GMan

BAM – http://bit.ly/1ycV8Za

B&N – http://bit.ly/1ImG8wa

IndieBound – http://bit.ly/1DQU4fi

GooglePlay – http://bit.ly/1xVJiDW

iTunes – http://bit.ly/1y69D2o

Kobo – http://bit.ly/1C0fftP

Excerpt:

He set the nightshirt back on the bed, and spoke over his shoulder.

“I think it’s time you returned to your room.”

He spoke the words without passion. She could only assume he’d had enough talking and wanted her to leave. The night air chilled her skin, and she wrapped her arms around her waist for warmth. She felt rebuffed by him. Stung. Her husband, the man with whom she would spend the rest of her days, did not have the slightest interest in spending a moment more in her company.

She knew she ought to calmly say ‘Very well then, I bid you good night,’ and quit the room, but she feared with a certainty that if she opened her mouth and attempted to utter a single syllable, her voice would falter and reveal the confused tumult of her emotions.

Not because she cared for him. Of course she didn’t. Clearly he did not care for her.

They’d been thrown together, and no amount of wishful thinking or good intentions would create a spark between them, when such a spark was never intended to be. She blinked away tears. Foolish tears! As if he had hurt her, but he hadn’t.

It had just been a long day, and a long night before that, and she’d made a terrible mess of everything, and she hated Quinn. And perhaps still loved him. And she was lonely. So very lonely and frightened of what the future held.

So instead she nodded jerkily, her chin outthrust, and turned on her slippered foot to escape into the dark dressing closet, taking care to close the first and the second door firmly behind her. Miss Randolph reclined in her sleeping gown and robe on the chaise with her book open and steepled across her forehead, snoring, which was just as well because Clarissa could not face the woman’s questions or her pity.

She doused the lamps and, in darkness, with only the scant light from behind the fire grate to see, crawled into bed and lay on unfamiliar sheets, her mind tangled with thoughts of… Mr. Blackmer.

Suddenly, the door swung open, and a shadow moved toward her, stealthily and swift, with only the faint white swath across his hips visible in the night. She recognized Blackmer instantly and desire ignited inside her. He crouched above her, breathing hard, his skin still damp and the tight flex of muscles in his shoulders darkly illuminated. The scent of the soap from his bath filled her nostrils. Her pulse raced, her heart near exploding.

“You,” he growled deep in his throat. “Are my preference.”

A second later, he kissed her hard, pressing his thumb against the side of her jaw, commanding her lips to part while his tongue boldly entered and teased. She gasped for breath, stunned into half-senselessness…and surrendered, her mouth opening fully to accept each deep, possessing stroke.

He gave a husky groan. His large hands caught hers by the wrists, pinning her to the mattress. She squirmed beneath him—but with no intent to escape.

Moments before he had dismissed her coldly, and made her feel invisible and unwanted and yet in this moment, he revealed his true feelings, ones he’d tried to conceal. She knew without a doubt that her husband desired her. Something about that made her weak, and—

His mouth moved to her cheek…her neck, leaving her skin hot and awakened wherever his lips touched. Sensations she’d never experienced spiraled up from inside her, delicious and achingly sweet, awakening a need in her body and rendering her unexpectedly wild.

God help her, she didn’t understand, but she wanted him as well. The moment he released her hands she moaned and seized his shoulders, sliding her hands upward over his neck, finding unexpected appreciation in the powerful contraction and flux of his muscles beneath her palms. He exhaled, filling her mouth with his breath, and sucked her bottom lip—

Only to groan and twist away.

No. She reached, her hands trailing over his shoulders and his arms, desperately wanting more. More of his kiss, and his warm, firm skin. And yes, for him to ravish her so she would forget—

Then nothing.

The bed creaked, relieved of his weight. She heard his sharp exhalation of breath–a laugh, perhaps?

“Good night then, Mrs. Blackmer,” he murmured.

Silence filled the room.

“Good night,” she answered breathlessly.

He crossed the room, disappearing into the dressing closet, gone the way he had come. She heard the door close.

After a long moment of silence, Miss Randolph’s voice came from the direction of the chaise. “Well that was rather thrilling.”

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Lily Dalton, Author of Never Surrender to a Scoundrel appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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47. Book Review-A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher

 
Title:  A Little in Love
Author:  Susan Fletcher
Series:   N/A
Published:  October 2014 by Chicken House Books
Length:  288  pages
Source:  Cheezyfeet Books
Summary :  As a young child Eponine never knew kindness, except once from her family's kitchen slave, Cosette. When at sixteen the girls' paths cross again and their circumstances are reversed, Eponine must decide what that friendship is worth, even though they've both fallen for the same boy. In the end, Eponine will sacrifice everything to keep true love alive.

Review: Eponine Thenadier lies in a Parisian street, seventeen years old, dying.  As she does so, she remembers how her life progressed in such a way from a spoilt childhood and years of cheating and stealing to taking a bullet for the boy she loves.
I wanted to read this because I have a love for the musical  of Les Miserables and an appreciation for the book (see here for my review). Eponine is one of my favourite characters because she has to stand up for herself and no one fights for her, and I was looking forwards to seeing a backstory for her.
It's interesting seeing the formative years through the eyes of Eponine. We know that her parents were abusive towards Cosette, but the extent they are to Eponine and sister Azelma in their treatment isn't one you think about when seeing or reading Les Mis.
I liked the fact that in little ways, Eponine attempts to redeem herself. Her development is very thorough and wonderful to watch. Sadly, I don't think any of the other characters got the same treatment, which would have been interesting to see.
I didn't like the fact that it randomly slips into French for a couple of words at a time. I don't mean where we need words like sou or Les Halles for nouns or specifically French things. it's just occasional phrases.  Oui. Excuzez-moi, mon pere. C'est un joli matin. It's just one of my little pet hates, if it's not a language that is foreign to the focaliser and the thing that is being said has a perfectly good English equivalent (yes, excuse me, father, it’s a pretty morning). We understand that Eponine is speaking and thinking in French, and the little random changes are noticable and get on my nerves.
The plot progresses gently.  It fills in the gaps of Hugo’s novel where the focus is on Cosette and Les Amis. At times, it drags, but my interest levels did stay up enough for me to not give up.
However,  my heart for Eponine. Fletcher does very well in making you empathise with her, and  Especially with the little quote from The Brick at the start, in both French and English- j'etais un peu amoureuse de vous . Please excuse me while I go cry.


Overall:  Stregth 3 tea. I really liked the idea and Eponine's development, but it lacked depth in other areas.





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48. Monday Mishmash 2/2/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Editing  I'm booked with edits again this month. The end of 2014 must have been very busy for a lot of writers because I'm editing book after book. :)
  2. Scholastic Book Fair  It's still going on thanks to all the snow days last week. I was a little sad because books I was looking forward to weren't there. My daughter's school only goes to fifth grade so some of the MG books weren't at our fair. :(
  3. Making Book Trailers  I'm working on the trailer for The Darkness Within. This one is proving to be tough! Wish me luck, please.
  4. Busy Month  With Looking For Love (Ashelyn Drake NA romance title) releasing March 17th, I'm busy getting everything ready. Look for a cover reveal on February 13th.
  5. Free Monthly Newsletter  My free monthly newsletter goes out today. If you aren't signed up but would like to receive one, click here.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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49. Book Review- Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Title:  Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author:   Becky Albertalli
Series:   N/A
Published:   7 April 2015 by Penguin
Length:  320 pages
Source: netgalley
Summary :  Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Review: ​Simon has been emailing Blue for some time. And he may be falling in love with him. When the emails are discovered by Martin, he is blackmailed into trying to set Martin up with Abby or risk being outed. 

I've had this on my radar a while because cute funny stories with queer characters are definitely right up my street.  

I love Simon to pieces. I totally understand where he comes from, with his love of grammar and his ensembling in plays, and his sweet personality.  The rest of the characters are just as good. ​ Abby, Leah, and Nick were great friends, Cal was  adorable too, and everyone spoke like they should and everyone was real.

I liked the constant mystery of who Blue was, and when we find out, it wasn't who I expected but the scenes afterwards are perfect.

The tone of writing is perfect. There’s many relatable experiences to do with many aspects of teenage life, and it’s done with a mix of thought provoking things and also humour and also seriousness when needed.

It's hugely quotable.  I could probably make a tumblr with all the brilliant quotes from this novel.  I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to quote without breaking copyright law, so I’m just going to say “read it” and give special mentions to  the conversation with Blue from which the title comes from and the bit   and "White shouldn't be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn't even be a default."

Only thing that I did not understand: the homecoming scene a quarter of the way through which left me really confused. Luckily, Becky told me what it is (where school alumni come back to play a football game) and my confusion led to amazement that Americans really do take school sports seriously enough to have a parade for these things (I thought homecoming was an excuse for a dance and everything else about it was a myth). This isn’t a major thing in the novel, but it got me for a long time.

This review doesn’t the book justice, because I can’t put into words how brilliant it is.  It’s not even one specific thing-just  the general atmosphere and the way everything develops just infuses you with happiness. It’s definitely something to reread on a bad day.


Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a heart-warming coming of age and coming out story that is best described as a warm, giant hug in book form. 


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50. Spotlight and Giveaway: In His Keeping by Maya Banks

This morning I have an excerpt from Maya Banks’ latest release, In His Keeping. Be sure to enter the giveaway below, too!

Excerpt – In His Keeping

He kissed away every single tear and then pulled her into his side so they could stare at the tree she’d taken such painstaking measures to make beautiful. His wife loved Christmas. Their first holiday together would long stand out in Gavin’s memory be- cause, before her, Christmas had been just another day for him. An inconvenience since most places were closed for the holidays and people were out of town or simply unavailable.

But when Ginger came into his life, she’d forever changed him. She’d laughingly dragged him out of his Connecticut home to get the biggest, most glorious live tree they could find.

That was yet another change she’d wrought. Though he owned a grand house with rolling acreage and complete privacy, he’d always hated to stay in it alone. He’d spent most of his time in his Manhattan apartment. Until Ginger.

Now it was rare that he ever stayed over in his apartment and if he did, he ensured she was there too. He hadn’t spent a night away from her since the very first time they’d made love. She’d turned his house in Connecticut into a . . . home. Warm, inviting, full of love and happiness.

“I love the tree,” he said honestly. “You did a wonderful job, just as you do every year.”

“Is it possible that I’ve turned the Grinch into Father Christmas?” she teased.

He chuckled. “What do you think? I didn’t personally spend an entire day trying my best to kill myself by attaching lights to every exposed area of the outside of the house because I hate the holiday.”

“You do hate the holiday. But you love me,” she said cheekily. He laughed. “I’m getting better. And I don’t hate anything as

long as you’re a part of it.”

Her entire expression softened and love warmed her eyes. She turned, tilting her head to receive his kiss when their door- bell rang.

They both frowned and Ginger drew away, her gaze flitting toward the foyer.

It was nearly 11 p.m. Who on earth would be at their door at this hour? For that matter, how would anyone have gotten through their security gate without their knowledge?

Gavin immediately grew serious. “You stay here and don’t move. I’ll see who it is.”

“But . . .” she protested.

He silenced her with a quick squeeze and then reached into the drawer of the sofa table, drawing out his pistol. He tucked it out of view and then gave her another look that told her not to move and then strode toward the front door.

He frowned when he glanced through the speakeasy window that could be opened but was barred to prevent anyone on the outside from opening it. No one was standing there, but the motion light had been activated and still shone over the glistening snow-covered landscape.

Pulling the pistol f rom its hiding place, he eased the door open and stared into the still night. Cold air washed over him, the wind whistling in his ears. There was a full moon casting a glow over the white layer of snow. Only the sound of trees swaying and the crack of ice as branches broke disturbed the serenity.

He damn near tripped over the object at his feet. He took a hasty step back and glanced down, stunned to see what looked suspiciously like a . . . baby carrier?

He immediately dropped to his knees, carefully pulling back the blanket that covered something inside the carrier. When he lowered it enough to take in the contents, his breath escaped in a startled gasp.

“Gavin, what is it?”

Ginger’s worried voice reached him and before he could tell her to stay back, the baby chose that exact moment to begin wailing, though it came out more of a whimper of distress than a true sob.

His wife gasped and crouched down beside him, reaching for the precious bundle before he could think to do the same.

In His Keeping
Slow Burn #2

By: Maya Banks

Releasing January 27th, 2015

Avon Romance

Blurb

#1 bestselling author Maya Banks continues her suspenseful and steamy Slow Burn trilogy with this second book-a twisting tale featuring a strong yet vulnerable heroine in danger and the sexy alpha hero who must save her.

Abandoned as a baby to a young wealthy couple and raised in a world of privilege, Arial has no hint of her past or who she belonged to. Her only link lies in the one thing that sets her apart from everyone else—telekinetic powers. Protected by her adoptive parents and hidden from the public to keep her gift secret, Ari is raised in the lap of luxury, and isolation. That is, until someone begins threatening her life.

Beau Devereaux is no stranger to the strange. As the head of Deveraux Security, he’s more than familiar with the realities of physic powers. So when a family friend approaches him about protecting his daughter, he’s more than ready to jump on board. What Beau isn’t prepared for is the extent of his attraction to his beautiful and powerful client. What began as a simple assignment, just another job, quickly turns personal as Beau discovers he’ll do anything at all to protect Ari. Even if it costs him his life.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/in-his-keeping-slow-burn-2-by-maya-banks.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21900558-in-his-keeping?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/119196-slow-burn

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/His-Keeping-Slow-Novel-Novels/dp/0062312480/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418171121&sr=8-1&keywords=in+his+keeping+by+maya+banks

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-his-keeping-maya-banks/1119220722?ean=9780062312488

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/in-his-keeping/id862610905?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/in-his-keeping-1

Author Info

Maya Banks is a #1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels.

She lives in the South with her husband and three children and other assorted babies, such as her two Bengal kitties and a Calico who’s been with her as long as her youngest child. She’s an avid reader of romance and loves to dish books with her fans and anyone else who’ll listen! She very much enjoys interacting with her readers on Facebook and Twitter as well as in her Yahoo! Group.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://mayabanks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMayaBanks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maya_banks
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/24978.Maya_Banks

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Three Print Bundles of KEEP ME SAFE and IN HIS KEEPING)

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: In His Keeping by Maya Banks appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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