Friday, April 18, 2014

The Vampire With the Dragon Tattoo (Love At Stake) by Kerrelyn Sparks


He's Out of Control
Dougal Kincaid has something to prove. After being injured in a battle with the Malcontents, he's ready for active duty protecting unsuspecting mortals from these villainous vampires who want to rule the world. But first he has to get control of himself . . . because just the sight of a certain lovely doctor has his injured hand doing some peculiar things, not to mention the sizzling sensation that burns along his dragon tattoo.

Vampires? Vampires?! As a scientist, Leah is having trouble believing that these immortal creatures exist. But there they are, standing in front of her, asking for help in solving a genetic puzzle that can save mankind. There's even one in a sexy kilt! Just one look into Dougal's gorgeous green eyes sets her pulse racing. But can she trust him—and the overwhelming desire that refuses to be ignored?
*****

This 14th installment in the Love at Stake series has all the things Kerrelyn Sparks fans have come to expect; humor, romance, passion, and a great story of the continued battle between our beloved Vampires and the Malcontents.

I haven’t read all the books in this series, but that didn’t create any problems for me. Things that took place in earlier books – especially in regards to how the other couples met their mates – are peppered throughout the story so that we get a pretty good idea of the whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys. And honestly, these are light, entertaining reads, perfect for those times when you’re looking to let your mind wander and get lost in a world of great characters and their unlikely circumstances.

I really enjoyed The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo, but it was Dougal who made this story shine. Such an awesome, honorable, fierce, passionate man! And did I mention vulnerable? His insecurities made were so endearing and made me want to bring him home with me and love him til his past heartbreak was forgotten.

My thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this story. In return I’m giving them an honest review.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

On a Highland Shore (Highland #1) by Kathleen Givens



From acclaimed historical novelist Kathleen Givens comes a magnificently conceived, intricately detailed novel that brings to vivid life the tumult, adventure, and passion of thirteenth-century Scotland, when Norse invaders laid claim to the land and its people—and an explosive clash of cultures, politics, and personal pride changed the world forever.

On Scotland's western shore, the village of Somerstrath prepares for the joyous wedding celebration of Margaret MacDonald, the laird's daughter. But a dark storm of bloodshed and betrayal is closing in, as a merciless band of Vikings threatens the Highlands.

Margaret is determined to hold the MacDonald clan together and to locate her abducted younger brother. But can she trust the noblemen from King Alexander's court, who insist that only by adhering to a betrothal conceived for political gain will she find safety? Or should she put her trust in an imposing half-Irish, half-Norse warrior?

Gannon MacMagnus alone offers her hope of reuniting her family and vanquishing the barbarous Norsemen who would continue to rob her people of their God-given right to determine their own destinies. In whom should Margaret entrust the fate of the rugged, magnificent land she calls home?



*****
Minor plot spoilers - but nothing that will ruin the story for anyone.

The Biblio-gods must be smiling down on me because the last few books I’ve read have been “cannot put it down” fabulous. On A Highland Shore is no exception.

About the story...

When you’re the laird’s daughter, what you want is not as important as what is best for your people. Margaret MacDonald learns this heartbreaking lesson the hard way, when she finds her future husband in the bed of her very best friend, Fiona, and is expected to marry him anyway. Refusing to listen to those around her, including her own parents, who tell her that “for the good of her people” she must marry Lachlan despite his “lack of judgment,” Margaret tries to find ways out of the betrothal without breaking her marriage contract and shaming her family. As it turns out, that is the least of her problems and she finds herself working to reunite her family, while helping overthrow a barbaric Norseman who has begun terrorizing Scotland. Of course she can’t do it alone and finds herself having to put aside her social and cultural biases, while learning to trust a man she barely knows, yet finds herself falling in love with.

My thoughts...

This was my first read of Kathleen Givens’ writing and it won’t be my last. While On A Highland Shore is a romance novel, it is also so much more. Not your run of the mill fluffy historical romance novel – which I love as much as the next gal – it is a complex novel full of twists and turns, political maneuvering and treachery. I appreciate the detail Givens gave to historical accuracy, and at the end of the book she lists those events that were real and how she was able to weave them into her own story.

Using these actual historical figures and events to fill out this tale, Givens takes us to a time and place of great turmoil. Years of peace have left the Highlanders complacent, vulnerable and an easy target for one greedy and power hungry Norseman who has decided that the best things in life are his for the plundering. Who cares if a few lives – or a few thousand – are lost in the process? He’s just the kind of bad guy you love to hate and by the end of the story, as far as I was concerned, there was nothing brutal enough or too heinous that could have been done to him in the pursuit of punishment or revenge.

On A Highland Shore has a strong cast of characters, too many to name, but memorable all the same. In ways it reminded me of The Lord of The Rings in that everyone was willing to do their part no matter how difficult, trusting in their fellow men (and women) to also be doing their own parts as well. And because everyone did what they needed to do and trusted in each other, it all came together and worked out beautifully.

Kathleen Givens took what could have been mere words on a page and breathed life into them. The characters are wonderfully developed and are all people we care about. Margaret, the eldest daughter, is such a strong, opinionated woman yet so full of love and trust. I cried at the loss of her innocence, sharing the pain she felt upon learning of the betrayal. To see her so vulnerable and so hurt is heart wrenching. She loved and trusted both Lachlan and Fiona and could never have imagined what was going on right under her nose – then to learn her mother and others knew of it... I can’t imagine what she must have felt, another level of betrayal by her mother, the woman who was supposed to love and protect her and look out for her? I can't imagine how hurt she must have felt.

Though Margaret no longer wants the marriage, and knows it was for her own personal reasons – pride being one of them, she would never turn her back on her people. She understands the necessity of uniting clans for the betterment of all, but she isn't going to lie down and be Lachlan’s doormat, either. I was completely invested in her and cheered her on as she kept stating her case, exhausting every avenue available to her so as not to have to marry Lachlan.

Gannon MacMagnus is the perfect hero. Strong, compassionate, honorable and committed to aiding the Highlanders in rebuilding what they had lost and ridding them of the constant threat of more attacks, he was a force to be reckoned with. Having endured much loss in his own life, he well understood the emotional pain Margaret was going through and was one of the few people who knew how to help her.

Do you love a good battle, or two or three, mixed in with your romance? Then this is the story for you. The battle scenes were so well described that I could truly see, in my mind’s eye, the fighting as it played out. I could see the layout of the shore, the men defending the keep, the ruthless Vikings as they charged up the hill and the brave Highlanders who awaited them.

*sigh* Again I am rambling on.

The bottom line...

While I wouldn’t compare this to War and Peace or The Lord of The Rings on the greatness scale, On A Highland Shore is an amazing tale of love, loss and the willingness to risk everything you have and everything you are in the fight for freedom and all you hold dear.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It's Always Been You (Coming Home #5) by Jessica Scott


She plays by the rules . . . 

Captain Ben Teague is many things: a tough soldier, a loyal friend, and a bona fide smart-ass. He doesn't have much tolerance for BS, which is why he's mad as hell when a trusted colleague and mentor is brought up on charges that can't possibly be true. He's even more frustrated with by-the-book lawyer Major Olivia Hale. But there's something simmering beneath her icy reserve--and Ben just can't resist turning up the heat . . .

. . . and he's determined to break them

The only thing riskier than mixing business with pleasure is enjoying it . . . and Olivia can't resist locking horns--and lips--with Ben. He's got more compassion in his little finger than any commander she's ever met, a fact that makes him a better leader than he realizes. But when the case that brought them together awakens demons from Olivia's past, she will have to choose between following orders--or her heart . . .

******************************

5 'keeping this short because words can't do it justice' stars!!

I wish I could reach through my computer, take you by the shoulders and look you in the eye in hopes you'd be able to see my passion for this series, because I just don't have the words that can explain how brilliant a writer Jessica Scott it.

I love everything about the way she tells a story:

They're exciting, thought provoking, poignant, and inspiring! The plot, the humanity, the heartbreaking reality of how war can destroy a person in ways that have nothing to do with IEDs and grenades and rifles, and most of all I love the unwavering loyalty these men and women have to our country, to always doing the right thing no matter the cost, and to each other.

I love her honorable heroes:
This was the burden of command: to balance the needs of the army over the needs of the individual. A tightrope he had to walk alone.
I love her sassy heroines:
"Wow, you're going all caveman. I'm not sure if I should swoon or wring out my panties."
The only thing I don't love:

She doesn't write fast enough!

My sincerest 'thank you' to Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of "It's Always Been You." In return I'm giving them an honest review.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Good Girls Don't Date Rock Stars by Codi Gary


Description...
Gemma Carlson didn't plan on waking up married.

She also didn't count on running into her old flame—and her son's father-turned-country rock star—Travis Bowers, followed by a night of drunken dares. Apparently one of those involved a ring on her finger and a vow … neither of which she intends to keep. Now with a hangover from hell, this good-girl-gone-bad knows there's just one thing to do: run.

Travis has been all over the world, but Gemma has never been far from his thoughts. So when they had the chance to catch up over a few drinks, he didn't hesitate. Of course, he didn't expect it would lead to marriage, or a runaway bride! Travis finally has a second chance and doesn't plan on losing Gemma again—or the son he didn't know he had. He proposes, albeit belatedly, a date. Or rather, a few. If they can make this marriage work by starting over, he stays. If not …

Gemma's not interested; she's got a son to protect and a heart to heal. But having Travis around could make both a little easier. Still, good girls don't date rock stars . . . right?


Maybe it's just me...

Good Girls Don’t Date Rock Stars is the second book in Codi Gary’s Rock Canyon series. I absolutely loved the first book, Things Good Girls Don’t Do, and was anxiously awaiting this book. Sadly, even though I love the way Ms. Gary tells a story, this time, I didn’t love the story she was telling.

My review…

As I said, Codi Gary wrote an awesome first installment and I couldn’t wait to read more of the Rock Canyon world, but there were major things about Good Girls Don’t Date Rock Stars that didn’t work for me, and I actually considered not finishing it.

To help explain my thoughts, I’m just going to break it down by 'what worked' and 'what didn't.'

What didn’t work…

The first and most glaring problem for me is the title, and something everyone needs to be aware of. This story isn't about a bad-boy rock star, it's about a very awesome, not at all bad boy country music star. In fact, he's so awesome, he's the kind of guy most any parent would love to see their daughter hook up with. I know I would!

Next, as with infidelity, keeping a child from its biological mother/father is a story line that has to be handled with finesse if the author hopes the parent doing the concealing (or the partner doing the cheating) has a snowball's chance in hell of becoming a character the readers will love. Granted, Gemma and Travis are young when their child is conceived, but it speaks volumes to Gemma’s maturity – or lack thereof – that in ten years time she never contacted Travis to give him the chance - his right - to make his own decision about whether or not he wants to be part of his child’s life. And her reasons aren’t even compelling. No deep dark secret or tragic past making her want to protect her child, nothing in Travis’ past to indicate he’d be abusive or just not care. Yes, she was young and immature as a teen ager, but she's just plain selfish as an adult, and I couldn't get past that.

And lastly, Travis had the potential to be an amazing character, but he never became more than just that – a character. I didn’t connect with him, didn’t feel his pain or his frustration at Gemma keeping something this huge from him. Yes, when he found out the truth there was the expected shock, the ‘I need time to process this…’ reaction, but he quickly moved on from that. Too quickly. In fact, I think I had a more visceral reaction to Gemma’s deception than Travis did!

What worked…

Everything else. Codi Gary is a great storyteller, make no mistake. I adore – and I do mean adore - the supporting cast. Gracie is one hell of a best friend and I’m looking forward to reading her story.

Books in which small kids are the foundation of the story aren't always easy to pull off, but Charlie is a sweet, fun, more-mature-than-his-mother boy, and I enjoyed his time on the pages. From the gossipy, nosy neighbors to the friends, acquaintances, and sexy law enforcements, there are actually many things to love about Good Girls Don’t Date Rock Stars.

The bottom line…

I did love parts of this story, but the main story itself – not so much, which is why I gave the book only 3 stars. Had things been reversed, had the main story been strong and the other stuff weak, this would still have easily been 4-4.5 stars.

All that said, Rock Canyon continues to be a great world and, despite my disappointment with this book, I’m looking forward to reading more!

A copy of this story was generously provided by Avon Books, and in return I gave them an honest review.

Monday, April 14, 2014

All for You (Coming Home #4) by Jessica Scott


Description:

Can a battle-scarred warrior . . .

Stay sober. Get deployed. Lead his platoon. Those are the only things that matter to Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli. What he wants is for everyone to stay out of his way; what he gets is Captain Emily Lindberg telling him how to deal with his men. Fort Hood's newest shrink is smart as a whip and sexy as hell. She's also full of questions—about the army, its soldiers, and the agony etched on Reza's body and soul.

. . . open his heart to love?

Emily has devoted her life to giving soldiers the care they need—and deserve. Little does she know that means facing down the fierce wall of muscle that is Sergeant Iaconelli like it's just another day at the office. When Reza agrees to help her understand what makes a soldier tick, she's thrilled. Too bad it doesn't help her unravel the sexy warrior in front of her who stokes her desire and touches a part of her she thought long dead. He's the man who thinks combat is the only escape from the demons that haunt him. The man who needs her most of all . . .  

*****

5 ‘edgy but poignant, agonizing but hopeful’ stars!

The thing I love most about Jessica Scott’s stories is the humanity of them. The behind the scenes graphic, candid look at how the survivors of war – and in this case I mean the soldiers – deal with their emotional and physical scars. And further testament to her ability to tell a tale is that she can show us all this without making statements of political correctness. Whether war is right or wrong, good or evil… 

All For You is gut wrenching, heartbreaking, and gritty. It’s romantic, poignant and sexy. It’s thought provoking, uplifting and inspiring. It’s one helluva brilliant read.

An eARC was provided by Grand Central Publishing via Netgalley and in exchange I’m giving them an honest review.

Skies of Gold (The Ether Chronicles) by Zoe Archer


Description…
Two Lonely Hearts…

Kalindi MacNeil survived the devastating enemy airship attack that obliterated Liverpool, but even her engineering skills can’t seem to repair her broken heart. Seeking to put her life back together, Kali retreats to a desolate, deserted island—only to discover she’s not alone. Captain Fletcher Adams, an elite man/machine hybrid, a Man O’ War, crashed his battle-damaged airship into this deserted island after Liverpool, never expecting to survive the wreck. But survive he did.

One Desire…

Believing he is nothing but a living weapon, Fletcher is wary of his new-found companion—a pretty, damaged, but determined young woman. Together they are stranded on the deserted island, and it is only a matter of time until desire gets the best of both of them. Soon Kali and Fletcher find they may be just what the other needed. But a danger from beyond the island puts them to the test. Will it rip them apart or bond their hearts forever?

********* 


"Sodding damn. She'd ruined his perfect loneliness."

I’m not a huge fan of science fiction, not real big on fantasy, either… but Steampunk, when done right, really turns my crank! And make no mistake about it, Zoë Archer does Steampunk right.

My review…

Skies of Gold is the fifth book in The Ether Chronicles series. I’ve had this book sitting on my Kindle for almost a year, but because of my affliction with MR BIOS – Must Read Books In Order Syndrome – I kept putting it off until another of my afflictions – MR ABE – Must Read All Books Eventually – made it so I couldn’t put it off any longer.

I’ve been a fan of Zoë Archer’s storytelling for some time now, but honestly, Skies of Gold might just be my favorite story. There’s something so compelling about this world she’s created, something so plausible even in its implausibility. And it’s not just the story she’s telling, it’s the characters who are living the story - Kali and Fletcher are both people I came to care about. Their honor and integrity, their strengths as well as their vulnerabilities – everything about them drew me in and made me love them.

The bottom line…

I really am sorry I waited so long to read this! Skies of Gold is such a fun, romantic, exciting, passionate story. It’s sexy but not toooo sexy, with the real appeal and entertainment here being found in the story itself and in the amazing Kali and Fletcher. As I said, when Steampunk is done right, it ROCKS, and I’ll definitely be reading more of The Ether Chronicles.

Note... I can, without hesitation, say that Skies of Gold can be read out of order, and even works very well as a stand-alone novel.

An eARC of this story was provided by Avon Books via Edelweiss. In return I’m providing them with an honest review.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blithely Bookish Spotlights Author AJ Wiliams

 His Final Bounty





Title: His Final Bounty
Series: Bounty for Hire #4
Author: AJ Wiliams
Release Date: 3/24/14
Publisher: Self
Genre: Contemporary Spicy Romance









Welcome to Spotlight on AJ Wiliams

A.J. Wiliams and I have been online buddies for a few years, now. We met back when we both wrote fan-fiction as Sisters of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and she’s the first of my friends to actually write a book and publish it. I’m very excited to have her as a guest for my first Author Spotlight.

Me:  AJ, I’m thrilled to have you here with me today!  I’m dying to know – what is it like to be a published author?  What made you decide to take the plunge, and was it scary?

AJ:  Thanks for having me here....

It's fun and stressful publishing a book.

I decided to take the plunge after writing in the BDB Sisters forum. Having the freedom to write with a group of women that not only enjoyed what I wrote but also encouraged me. It was liberating. I even dedicated my first book to my BDB Sisters. I always thought about getting my love for writing out into the world but never felt that I had the courage to do it. I really owe my thanks to my BDB Sisters. Each one offered something encouraging that allowed me to take pieces of them with me on this journey.

I have my fourth book out and I have to say I am just as scared as the first time. I have a feeling this emotion will not change. It is the usual normal questions of will people like it? Will they feel the emotion of the characters?

I have several books that I am currently working on right now with the hopes to have at least one of them published by the end of the year.

Me: I enjoyed the time we spent writing fan-fiction together and the way you tell a story. And because you're my first Spotlighted Author, I have a surprise for you! You've been gifted a one-month Bookshelf ad at Affaire de Coeur Magazine: http://affairedecoeur.com/Chapter%20Previews/2014/hisfinalbounty.html

I'm so proud of what you've accomplished and I wish you all the best success!

His Final Bounty Book Blurb:

Eva Rosenberg hacks a secret file of Jefferson's and discovers the man who shattered her heart and her world has one giant secret.

Jefferson Anders’ current bounty hunting status has allowed him to hide in the shadows, never forcing him to face the secrets of his past. Having spent five years hiding the truth, he never dreamed the secrets of his past would catch up to him. Secrets which cost him both the love of his life and connection to his family. Now, he must face the mistakes of his past.

With a confrontation looming with Eva and a possible death threat, they must work as a team to find forgiveness and defeat the enemy that waits in the shadows.

Purchase Links:

Click to visit and purchase from author's website

Click to purchase at Barnes and Noble

Click to Purchase at Amazon

Click to purchase at All Romance Books: 

Click to purchase at Smashwords


Author Information:

AJ grew up in a small southern town in Missouri. It was there that she discovered her love of writing. Having the ability to create a story from nothing into something held her spellbound. She holds a bachelors degree, and will on occasion find it useful. Currently, AJ lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband, their two small children and two dogs.

AJ loves learning about new things, playing games with her family, and listening to music. She loves romantic movies as well as science fiction. If truth be told, she loves fantasy and science fiction movies just a little bit more.

At given time she can be found letting her kids believe she has super powers.

Author Links: For more information about AJ Williams and upcoming books, follow her @ Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and her website where you can sign up to be a street team member and subscribe to her newsletter.

AJ at Affaire de Coeur Magazine:  http://affairedecoeur.com/Chapter%20Previews/2014/hisfinalbounty.html
Website: www.ajwiliams.com
Blog: http://ajwiliamsromanceauthor.blogspot.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AjWiliams
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJ_Wiliams
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AJWiliams
Pintrest: http://www.pinterest.com/ajwiliams/

Excerpt:

Eva wasn’t sure when it happened, but her body called to her in a way that she hadn’t felt in years. After all this time, he still wore Ralph Lauren Polo Black. She loved that smell. Her reaction to him spurred her body closer to his, lightly brushing her nipples against his side. Every sensation from Jefferson rubbing her back, to her tracing circles on his chest increased her breathing. Her nipples tightened and the dampness increased between her legs.

“Jefferson.” Her voice was soft as she moved her finger to his nipple in a sensual circle.

“Eva,” his growl pressed her to continue. There was something about the way he growled her name that caused her to stop circling and started to use her fingers to rub his nipple with her thumb and finger.

“You have to stop.”

Lifting her head up from his chest, she kept rubbing his nipple as she looked into his eyes.

“Tonight, please just give me this one night. After that, we will go our separate ways. I just need to feel you.”

“There will never be ‘just one night’ with us, Eva. If we do this, it’s for keeps. Do you understand? I could never let you walk away, nor would I allow myself to walk away from you again.”

His word slammed over her. His eyes danced in the light. She could see that he too needed tonight. As much as she wanted more nights, she didn’t think she could ever give him more. Then again, maybe she could, but it all depended on him. She had the truth, but it didn’t really ease the hurt she still felt in her heart.

She didn’t respond at first, as her thoughts rolled through her mind.

“Tonight please, Jefferson. Just tonight.”

“I’ll give you tonight, but we will talk,” he declared.

She didn’t want to talk. She wanted all or nothing and tonight it was all. If she couldn’t have tonight, then she could go back to having nothing in her life. She’d had five years of practice. What was another fifty? She nodded edging closer to his body.

“I mean it, Eva.”

She didn’t trust herself to say anything, afraid she might say no talking, just fucking, because that’s all she wanted. She nodded again, placing a light kiss on his chest.

Lifting her head up she gazed into his dark eyes, waiting to see if he understood or at least accepted her response. He moved over, roaming her face and then his eyes narrow for just a second.

Please, she begged silently for him to just give her now.

She touched her lips to his. It was ecstasy. His full lips upon hers. At first, he didn’t move, so she gave his nipple a pinch, causing him to open his mouth.

Giveaway:

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