Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Guestblog and giveaway: Carolyn Brown with Darn good cowboy Christmas

Today I have Carolyn Brown over with a guestblog and at the end you can win her new book Darn Good Cowboy Christmas :)

Hello everyone. Here in the US, Thanksgiving is officially over! Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, spent the day with family and friends and made lovely memories. 

Thinking of the holidays reminds me of my newest holiday book, Darn Good Cowboy Christmas, that hit the shelves a few weeks back. Liz Hanson is the heroine and she’s been raised in a traveling carnival her whole life. Two things top her Christmas list every year—a house with no wheels and a sexy cowboy. Her Uncle Haskell has given her the house and Raylen O’Donnell could very well be the sexy cowboy if she plays her cards, or maybe does her belly dancing, just right. And let me tell you all, dear hearts, Raylen is one hot cowboy. Look at the cover picture one more time to verify that I’m tellin’ you the one hundred percent, guaranteed, unadulterated truth about his hotness.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about why cowboys are so hot!

In my opinion, it's because they capture all seven senses and hang on. Years ago only five senses had been identified but then cowboy romances hit the market and the powers that be had to add two more!

The first sense is sight. A cowboy walks into the room and every eye goes toward him, right? There's a lot to see and staring won't get you in trouble. Just look at that swagger, that smile and try not to get a case of hot flashes.

Excerpt: His hair was still a rich dark brown, almost black until the sunlight lit up the deep chestnut color. His eyes were exactly as she remembered: pale icy blue rimmed with dark brown lashes. It all added up to a heady combination, enough to make her want to tangle her hands up in all that dark hair and kiss him until she swooned like a heroine in one of those old castle romances she’d read since she was a teenager. Speaking of kissing, where in the hell was the mistletoe when a woman needed it, anyway? 

Hearing: Shut your eyes and imagine Raylen (look at the cover) whispering in your ear in a deep Texas drawl like he did Liz’s on many occasions. 

Excerpt: When she looked up his blue eyes were dreamy and scorching hot at the same time. She stretched enough to brush a kiss against each of his eyelids and he moaned. Until that moment she wasn’t aware that a man could groan in a Texas drawl or that it would turn her heat button up to high.

The third sense is touch. Think about when a cowboy traces a woman’s mouth with his fingertips before he kisses her with enough passion to burn down half the state of Texas. I'd bet my bottom dollar that in fifty years, she’ll touch her lips and remember his touch. 

Excerpt: She wasn’t a bit amazed at the gushy, warmth spreading all over her body when he took her hand. It was there every time he touched her. He didn’t even have to touch her; just catching him staring at her from across the yard or the room made her hotter’n a drop of water on the café griddle.

That brings us to the sense of smell. Cowboys smell like fresh snow, leather, boot polish, starched jeans and Stetson shaving lotion. Now imagine Raylen touching your hand, kissing you and hearing that deep drawl all at the same time. Swooning yet?

Excerpt: Raylen arrived early with a bottle of Austin’s watermelon wine. He was freshly shaven and smelled so good that Liz wanted to forget the lasagna, chicken parmesan and even the tiramisu for dessert, and take him straight to bed. He wore starched and creased Wranglers stacked up perfectly on top of polished boots. His baby blue ironed shirt matched his eyes and his big silver belt buckle was polished to a high shine.

And now the sense of taste. Oh, my! Liz could go all weak in the knees just thinking about Raylen’s kisses. 

Excerpt: It was a slow motion experience. The closer his mouth got to hers the hotter the liquid in the pits of her belly got. When his lips claimed hers in a hard kiss she kissed back with all the passion in her soul.  

And last there are the two add-on senses that are now listed with the original five.

Intuition: that moment when there is no doubt that the cowboy you are dancing with is the hottest thing this side of Hades and that he’s your cowboy. No excerpts because I couldn’t think of one without it being a spoiler. But believe me, Liz could tell you the very moment that her intuition said that Raylen was worth clipping her wings for.

And equilibrium: Cowboys knock a girl right off her feet with all their ability to cover every sense listed and a few that the powers-that-be haven’t even discussed yet. 

And that’s what makes a cowboy hot! At least in my opinion. Tell me what do you think makes cowboys so hot? 

Thank you Carolyn :D

GIVEAWAY
2 copies/2 winners of Darn Good Cowboy Christmas

1. Open to US and Canada
2. Ends December 11
3. Just enter, or answer Carolyn's question about why cowboys are hot.

Good luck!

Darn Good Cowboy Christmas by Carolyn Brown—In Stores NOW!

He’s One Hot Cowboy
Raylen O’Donnell is one smokin’ hot cowboy. He could have any woman he wants, but he’s never been able to forget a certain dark-haired girl who disappeared from his life. So when she suddenly returns to the ranch nexct door, Raylen’s not fixing to let her get away again… 

And She’s Out for a Sizzlin’ Christmas
Raised in a traveling carnival, Lizelle Hanson thought all she wanted was a house that didn’t have wheels and a sexy cowboy for her very own. But settling down’s going to take some getting used to, and cathing Raylen, the hotter-than-hell cowboy next door, might just take a little holiday magic…  

About the Author
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than forty books published, and credits her eclectic family for her humor and writing ideas. She writes bestselling single title cowboy and country music mass market romances. Born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma, Carolyn and her husband now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma, where she is working on her next book, One Hot Cowboy Wedding, which will be in stores in April 2012. For more information, please visit http://carolynlbrown.com/


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Review: Darn Good Cowboy Christmas - Carolyn Brown

Series: Spikes and spurs #3
Genre: Contemporary western romance
Pages: 384
Published: Oct 1 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: For review

Born and raised in a traveling carnival, all Liz Hanson ever wanted for Christmas was a home that didn't have wheels. After she was old enough to date she added one more item: a sexy cowboy.

She's about given up on Santa ever bringing either one when her father dies and leaves her an ugly house and twenty acres in Texas. Then rancher Raylen O'Donnell walks onto her property...

My thoughts:
There is one thing I have come to connect with Brown's books, and that is that they always makes me smile. I usually sit there with a grin on my face, because they are sweet and fun.

This book is part of a series, but it can be read as a standalone. You will feel at home at once. The books are inviting and the town is a place I would like to visit, and the people there, I would love to have them as friends.

In this one we have Liz, a former carnie, who wants to settle down and get some roots, and then we have the hot cowboy next door, Rayleen. They met before long ago, and that crush never left either of them. It is just destined. They know it when they meet, and the passion is sizzling. They are just perfect together. She grows roots, and he finds love.

A quote from her best friend:
"Love at first sight is bullshit. But the heart can reach out and know its soul mate at first sight and then love can come later."
(quote taken from an uncorrected proof, it can differ in the final copy.)

That sums is up perfectly of what their love is like. And sure there is a tad of drama too, can she grow those roots and settle down?

And as always what I like about her books are the sayings, the book is filled with them and they make me smile. I do feel they are one of the best things with this book. Let's see if I can brave one, their love is hotter than a hellcat on a Sunday (ok that makes no sense, but you get the general idea. And I am bad with these.) I love to read them though, and I sure want to talk like that, yes mam.

Conclusion:
Like I said in the beginning, this book is sure to make you smile and crave your own cowboy. I can't wait for the the next one, I wonder who it will be about.

Cover:
Works


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Be sure to stop by tomorrow when Carolyn stops by with a giveaway :)

Monday, 28 November 2011

Author Interview: Donna Grant and giveaway

Today I have Donna Grant back on my blog with an interview to talk about her new book Echoes of Magic, and you can win her book Shadow of Magic (book 1 in the series:)

Welcome!

1. Tell me 3 interesting facts about yourself….
Hmm…interesting, huh?  
I’m extremely allergic to perfumes and scented lotions/bodywash.  Gives me awful migraines.
I have a very real, very terrifying fear of spiders.  Any size. The bigger they are, the worse it is for me. 
I’ve always been a reader, and always won the award for most books read throughout my school years. 

2. Could you tell me about your new book, Echoes of Magic?
Oh, I’d love to.  ECHOES OF MAGIC is the second book in the Sisters of Magic trilogy and follows Grayson, who we met in the first book, SHADOW MAGIC.  Grayson is much more than he appears to be.  He’s been hiding most of his life from an unknown enemy.  He finally decides it’s time to find that enemy and learn what happened to his mother.

When he sets out, he never expects to find a witch, Adrianna, who not only saves him from the brink of death, but also who frees his heart from the chains of the past.

Adrianna has suffered through the curse placed on her people.  She not only lost her lover, but her child as well.  She believes there is nothing else for her in life.  Until she finds Grayson.  With him she discovers passion unlike she ever knew, and a love that could be the one thing to break the curse if she’s willing to give her heart.

3.  Why will readers fall madly in love with Grayson?
He’s tortured, and I think there’s something very compelling about a tortured hero.  There are secrets in Grayson’s past that he thinks he knows, but he doesn’t know the half of it. Just when he thinks he’s overcome all there is, Fate throws him another curveball.  

I found myself rooting for him while I was writing his story. Lesser men would have crumbled under the weight of what is thrown at Grayson, but he weathers it all like only a true hero can.

4.  What is up next in this series?
The third and last book, DANGEROUS MAGIC, which feature Cade, my favorite of the three heroes.  If you love tortured, then you’ll love Cade.  He’s one of the darkest heroes I’ve ever written, but one that will always hold a special place in my heart.

5.  Could you tell me a bit about all the other books you have written?
I’ve written in many different romance genres from historical to contemporary, erotic and fantasy.  My favorites are historical and paranormal, but I usually go wherever the story takes me.

I’ve written several series.  My first, the Druids Glen, features my first foray into the realm of the Druids and Highlanders.  This is a five book series with a connected book, DRAGONFYRE, that takes the reader into a fantasy world.

Two other series that will be re-releasing over the next couple of years is the Shields, another historical paranormal featuring men from different times and realms battling mythological creatures.  A truly fun series for me.

And the Royal Chronicles, a mix of fantasy, historical, and time travel in four novellas about brothers who must fulfill their destiny to keep their world and their people alive.

I’ve also participated in a couple of anthologies – The Pleasure of His Bed, The Destiny Stone, and The Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance.

I’ve released my short – FOREVER MINE – from the Mammoth book as an ebook only, and its #1 on Amazon’s bestsellers list.

There are two more novellas I’ve re-released as ebooks – MESMERIZED (fantasy) and PRIMAL HEAT (contemporary paranormal).

But my pride and joy right now is my Dark Sword series and the upcoming spin off Dark Warriors series published with St. Martin’s press.  The DS series is my bestselling and award-winning historical paranormal series featuring Druids and Highlanders with primeval gods inside them.

The DS series starts off with DANGEROUS HIGHLANDER followed by FORBIDDEN HIGHLANDER, WICKED HIGHLANDER, UNTAMED HIGHLANDER, SHADOW HIGHLANDER, and the upcoming Jan 2012 release DARKEST HIGHLANDER.

In 2012 I have two sets of back to back releases with the Dark Warriors series.  MIDNIGHT’S MASTER (May 22) and MIDNIGHT’S LOVER (June 26) followed by MIDNIGHT’S SEDUCTION (Nov) and MIDNIGHT’S WARRIOR (Dec).  In 2013, two more sets of back to back DW books will release.

I’ve also been contracted with St. Martin’s to write three novellas that will release as ebooks between my 2012 DW releases.  These will start a new series that will be connected to the DS/DW world, but introduce some new heroes I’m very excited to write about. 

6.  And last, any advice for aspiring writers?
Read.  Read.  Read.  
And write, write, write.  Finish a story and start another.  The more you read and write, the better you’ll get.  


GIVEAWAY
E-copy of Shadow Magic (book 1)

1. Ends Dec 8
2. Open to all
3. Just enter :)

With a past soaked in sin and darkness slowly closing in around him to claim his soul, Drogan only wants to live his life in solitude. Years in the king’s service and his numerous deeds directed by the crown have left Drogan with horrendous nightmares and immeasurable guilt...


Serena is a witch, cursed and forever alone. She accepts her future. Until she meets Drogan. With Drogan a passion deep and unyielding awakens inside her. She is willing to sacrifice herself for his love, but can he put his past to rest and embrace the future?





ECHOES OF MAGIC blurb:

Hiding a secret so awful that his only hope for survival is to remain hidden, Grayson has lived most of his life pretending to be someone he isn't. After years serving as a commander to his lord and friend, Grayson can no longer hold back the past. He leaves in search of answers only to find evil awaits him. Until he discovers an achingly beautiful woman who stirs his deepest passions and all-consuming need.
Adrianna knows what her future holds for her as a witch - loneliness and heartache. She has accepted that. Until she discovers Grayson near death in the forest. Saving him is her only choice, and even as she falls deeper into the attraction surrounding them, can her magic be enough to stop Fate or the evil that awaits them.

Sisters of Magic, Book 2

Re-issued
ISBN 13: 978-1600883835
Release Date: Dec 2011

Order eBook

Kindle | Nook
Smashwords

Excerpt

Summer 1127
Western England, near the coast



Adrianna stretched her neck and flexed her hands that had gripped the reins for too long. When the band of gypsies she traveled with for the past three years stopped for a rest, she gladly hopped down from her seat of her wagon.


The stretch of road they had traveled was narrow and surrounded by woods. She loved wandering with the gypsies, but for the past week, she couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. Or was about to go wrong. No amount of magic had given her a clue, either.


As a bana-bhuidseach, a witch, she had spent her time trying to decipher just what was out of alignment. Each banan-bhuidseach had a special gift, and hers was seeing the future.


Adrianna was many things, but she wasn’t courageous enough to look into her own future. Not when her kind was cursed and slowly fading into legend.


As far as she knew, there was only one other bana-bhuidseach. Where once they covered all of Britain, soon no more would see the beautiful land.


The bana-bhuidseach had been around for so long that none remembered their true origins, though some text claimed they hailed from an ancient land of sand and sun.


Adrianna pushed a stray hair behind her ear and moved into the forest. She leaned against a tree and let the beauty and nature of the area soak into her. The need to be alone had driven her into the trees, but it would also help to calm her and the constant fear that something...evil...was about to descend.


The other bana-bhuidseach she had meet, Serena, had been followed by a man drenched in evil. Ever since then, Adrianna had sensed a growing malevolence throughout the land.


Her hands traveled down the elm tree, the bark scratching her palms. She sighed and began to turn back to her wagon when she caught a glimpse of something in the underbrush. Adrianna leaned down and peered through the ferns to find a bloodied hand. 


With her heart hammering in her chest, she pushed aside the underbrush and found a man lying on his side. His long black hair was matted with leaves, blood, and mud and covered his face. By the look of the fine material of his tunic, he was a nobleman who had been ambushed most likely by roving bands of outlaws.


She sighed at the loss of life and began to rise to her feet when a moan stopped her. 


“By the saints,” she murmured and gently pushed his hair from his face. 


With her finger beneath his nose she felt his slow, shallow breathing. If she hurried, she might be able to save him if his injuries weren’t too extensive.


“Milosh! Yoska,” she called out. 


As tenderly she could, she turned the man onto his back. Blood had pooled beneath him and stained his light blue tunic. She saw no weapons, no jewelry.


“Drina,” Milosh shouted.


Adrianna lifted her head when she heard the gypsy leader call out the pet name he had given her. “Over here.”


When the tall Romanian burst through the trees, his brother, Yoska, was right behind him. The men had the same black hair and dark eyes and tall, rangy build. They welcomed her into their family when she had found them, never asking questions of her past. For that she would be forever grateful.


Yoska said something in Romanian that made Milosh nod absently.


“Please help me get him back to my cart,” Adrianna said. “He’s wounded, but alive.”


“And soon to die,” Milosh said softly.


“Please, Milosh. I cannot just leave him.”


Donna's website: donnagrant.com

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Review: Second Chances - Leigh Morgan

Genre: Contemporary romance
Published: July 2011
Review by Lis

History professor, Rhiannon Thorson, flees her life in Milwaukee to pursue research in Southern Wales and get a new start in life. Ramsey Macleod, international rock star, is burned out from life in the fast lane and is looking for a new lease on life. When they meet in a small village in Glamorgan, sparks fly, music is made, and they may get a second chance at love, life and happiness.


Rember how a while ago I reviewed Leigh Morgan's Sparring Partners? Second Chances is her second book. You know how wine only gets better with age? Well this author's books get better with practice. While I liked Sparring Partners I really liked Second Chances. That's saying something because I primarily stick to m/m romance books. The books I review here are the expections to the rule. Anywyas, I'll stop rambling and tell you why I like this book so much!

Romance has a tendacy to be a lot about drama, stalkers, abuse and a lots of other dark themes. Not so for Second Chances. It's a fun, light, funny read with fantastic characters.

History professor Rhiannon packs it up and moves to Southern Wales to do research and just start over. Let me tell you, it takes a lot of courage to just up and leave everything you know behind, but I love how Rhiannon goes about it. One there she meets jaded rock star Ramsey Macleod who is looking for a new look on life. Yes, while it's obvious they will hook up and have a Happily Ever After, I loved the story in between.

No I'm not telling you anything. This is one of those stories you have to discover for yourself. There are just so many funny scenes in this story that I can't even begin to tell you. Poor sheep. It not only had me laughing, but crying at times as well. Okay not literally, but almost.

Both Rhiannon and Ramsey are wonderfully written characters. They are not your everyday romance perfect couple. They have their flaws and made their mistakes, but they are both looking for a second chance in life and well... you know...once they meet. There is also a very solid (and very vain) support cast that makes this story a wonderful read!

Like in Sparring Partners the writing is superb, both witty and funny and well worked through. Something you don't always see in romance writing.

Second Chances is a book I'd like to go into great detail about (yes, I liked it that much) but in doing so I would give a lot away and I don't want to do that. You just have to discover this one for yourself!

So I recommend you just pick this book up yourself. It's not expensive, nor too long, so, yes, you just have to go get it! My only critique is at myself for waiting so long to read this!


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Review: Clearwater Dawn - Scott Fitzgerald Gray

Series: The Exile's Blade #1
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2011
Review by Lis

An apprentice guard in the royal household of Brandishear, Chriani is a capable young warrior held back from attaining his full potential by a lifetime of dark anger. Lauresa is a princess about to be set aside as heir and married off for the sake of treaty -- and the only woman Chriani has ever loved. When his mentor is murdered preventing an assassination attempt within the palace, Chriani is forced to become Lauresa's protector -- the two reconciling a forbidden passion even as they find themselves caught up in a maelstrom of political intrigue, ancient racial hatred, a society living in mortal fear of sorcery, and a decades-old plot to plunge five nations into genocidal war.

Don't judge a book by its cover they say. Oh well, I did. When I got the request for this book, I was instantly intruiged by the cover that accompanied this book. Alright, the backblurb didn't sound so terrible either, so I asked B to send it over. While not a terrible book, this was not my knight in shining armour amidst a herd of white horses.

Clearwater Dawn is the story of Chriani and Lauresa. Chriani is a warrior, apprentice, bodyguard in the royal household of Brandishear. He has a lot of potential, but also a lot of anger and as Mr Myagi would say: the two don't mix. In fact, I think Chriani would be painting a lot of fences if in the care of Mr. Myagi.

Lauresa is a princess in a bind. She's about to be dumped as heir and uses as a bargaining point int a treaty.

All that changes when there is an assassination attempt in which Chriani's master dies and a big can of worms is opened.

Clearwater Dawn is likable enough to read, but I'm a reader of action and this book is slowgoing at first. There is a lot of thought and a lot of background and I found the way it was interwoven with the story, didn't quite work for me. It reminded me a bit of my old philosophy professor. Droning. Though at other points in the story the writing was quite provocative and nicely done.

Fortunately for us, there are a few twists and turns in the plot that keep us going and made it more interesting to read.

I found that I didn't much care for Chriani or Lauresa, but that is more my problem than it is that of the characters. You just can't like everyone you come across. However, their characters are well thought out and not just cardboard enterprises. I did foudn that sometimes the character, both the main cast and the supportive cast, got lost in the narrative.

All in all Clearwater Dawn was a book that didn't work for me, but I'm just one person. In the hands of the right person this book my just put the reader on the edge of their seat and unable to put it down.


Friday, 25 November 2011

Review: Mr. Darcy's Secret - Jane Odiwe

Genre: PP variation
Pages: 368
Published: Feb 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Source: Yes I made the library get this one too

One dark secret can completely ruin a bright future. From the author who brought you Lydia Bennet's Story and Willoughby's Return, comes a unique look into one of the most famous relationships of all time, in Mr. Darcy's Secret. After capturing the heart of the most eligible bachelor in England, Elizabeth Bennet believes her happiness is complete-until the day she makes an unsettling discovery. When she finds a stash of anonymous, passionate love letters that may be Darcy's, Elizabeth begins to question the quiet, stoic man she married.

My thoughts:
I think one thing I liked about this one was that it showed that it takes time to change. Darcy may have changed for her but he still had his ideas and wanted to set a great match for Georgiana. A good match is better than love. Oh you silly man. But yes it shows that you do not change like that, little by little, until we got a nice MR Darcy, who still standoffish at times.

The big thing here was the secret, does he have a bastard? A hidden mistress? What is going on? I wanted to know. Sure I wish she had just asked him but they are newlyweds and I get her concern. I would have asked though, cos I am nosy.

But this book is not about these two alone, no, Georgiana has got half the book in a way as she finds her own way and finds love, and is unsure of what to do. I can't tell you more about that, read and see what happens.

Conclusion:
It was a good variation, and even if Mr.Darcy was an ass at times, I still liked it cos we all know he is an ass but we still love him

----------------

My flash fiction for this week

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Review: Iron Fey 1, 1.5, 2 - Julie Kagawa

Iron Fey #1
2010 Harlequin Teen, YA PNR, 363 pages
Summary

My thoughts:
Hear, hear, sometimes the impossible does happen. I will step down from my high throne where I say that PNR YA never manages to snare me, because it did. It finally did. 

It just had something about it that made it impossible for me to put it down. I just could not let go of this story. I also liked that it was so easy and just flowed. And I always did like wicked fairies. 

But now I will rip it to pieces because that is what I do when I like a story. Why oh why does immortals fall for silly young girls? Really?! If Ash is that old I would think he would rather fall for a woman than a 16 year old girl. Also why is Ash still young? I could understand an immortal girl being young forever, I have not changed that much since I was 16. I can into myself quickly, my face may just be a bit sharper and I liked a bit older, but still. But a boy? Who in the right mind wants to stay a boy when he can be a man? Can Ash even shave yet? Also, their love story, suddenly it just was *eye roll* 

There now I complained a bit. Did these things ruin it for me? Absolutely freaking not. Who cares about silly immortals who should know better. Summer and winter fell for each other, awww, loving that. Meghan was nice, Ash was secretive, Puck was fun, the cat was great, the evil guys were evil, the pace was good and I truly enjoyed the ride. 

Luckily I had the library get book 2 at the same time so I will start that one soon and see what happens to these people. How it all will end I have no idea of. 

Conclusion:
Yes, I do recommend it.


Iron Fey #1,5
2010, 59 pages, ebook

What can I say about short stories...well, it was nice to read it after having read The Iron King, I got to read about the way to the Unseelie court. Of course that just made me wonder where exactly book 2 begins.

I felt the connection between Ash and Meghan a bit more in this one, and I also thought Meghan was a bit too nice. Take the chance and run girl. Especially if your man says he will kill you if he must.

I am not a fan of short stories but it worked, still I was not taken by it as I was with book 1.


Iron Fey #2
August 2010, 359 pages
Summary

My thoughts:

It was not as good as book 1, something was missing for me, but still this was a really good book. Often book 2 is a let down and this did not happen here, I was just bugged by a few things. But it still had me caught in its grip and would not let go

I think most of my problem was the love triangle. It is so done, please, no more. If you love someone you love that someone, especially when you do anything for said person. You do not suddenly start thinking if you love this other guy. Why the girls do not get dumped I do not know. Is anything worth that heartbreak. How do you know she will be true in the future then? Ya heroines has commitment issues,

And I do get why Ash is cold in this one, but Meghan does not seem to grasp the danger of the Winter court. Come on they might eat ya. He is playing it safe. Sure he is arrogant but still, she should get it. But then she is a bit headstrong.

Conclusion:
But still I like it, and that does not happen often with YA books like this series. Kagawa is just that good. Even if I wish it had been as good as book 1, but at least it made me want more.

Covers:
Nr 1 yes, 1,5 ok, book 2, nah

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Review: Revealed - Kate Noble

Series: The Blue Raven #1
Genre: Historical romance
Pages: 400
Published: 2009
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Source: I made the library get it
Phillippa Benning is the unrivaled beauty of the Season. But when another lady challenges her for a marquis's attentions, Phillippa entices him to a secret rendezvous-only to stumble upon The Blue Raven, England's most famous spy, lurking at the site of her planned tryst.

The Blue Raven has uncovered an enemy plot directed at upcoming society functions, but he's unable to infiltrate London society. Phillippa makes an offer: in exchange for entrée among the ton, he agrees to have his true identity revealed at the Benning Ball-guaranteeing her unrivaled notoriety. As the danger draws closer, the mysterious spy and Phillippa give in to mutual desire. But when the game turns deadly, betrayal waits around the corner, and Phillippa must decide once and for all-is it the myth that captured her heart, or the man?


My thoughts:
Yes this is what historical romance should be like. Sweet, fun and just adorable in every way. 

Phillippa is the leading lady of the ton. She can sure be a bit snobbish, but that is not her true self. So I have to like her at once. She is funny, nice, she can be careless, she wants too much, she does not see what is in front of her, but everything just makes me like her more. 

The hero, Marcus Worth soon becomes entangled with her, and he regrets the day it happened. He is calm, analytic, nerdish, and yes I have to like him too. And is he the elusive Blue Raven? Together they banter, and fall for each other, but of course both do not acknowledge that. He is a bore, she is a snob. The perfect couple. 

You will never be bored when reading this book. The plot will keep you busy, the hunt for a French spy, and of course how Phillippa goes from party to party. She does not sit still. There is always something that kept me turning the page to find out what happens, I smiled, and I knew I want more. 

Conclusion:
So yes of course I recommend this book. Now I just need book 2.

Cover:
Ok, but I want a face with this one

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Review: Fires of Winter - Roberta Gellis

Series: Tales of Jernaeve #2
Genre: Historical romantic fiction
Pages: 544
Published: Nov 1, 2011 (1987)
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Source: For review


A sparkling prize, the beautiful Mellusine of Ulle is awarded to the bastard-born Bruno of Jernaeve as a spoil of war. Bruno vows to tame the rebellious spirit of the captive beauty, but ultimately surrenders to her charms. Born of different worlds, joined in the flames of passion and intrigue, they find new strength in each other's arms...and a burning love that defies all eternity.

My thoughts:
This book can be mistaken for historical romance, but personally I would not say it is that. It is more the child of Historical fiction and romance. It is the tone, the vibe, the story that makes it so. 

The book is also part 2 in a series, but works wonderful on it's own. Book 1 is about Bruno's half sister so they are connected, but does not have to be read in order. 

Bruno is told to marry Lady Melusine and so he does. There is no instant love between these two. They both know they have duty and that they can't say no. Sure there is later lust, and she feels she would like to have a child. But there is no romance, and do not take that the wrong way, that is good, that is real. Melusine is a woman who knows what she wants, the land back that the king took from her after her father died fighting the king. That is all she asks for. Bruno on the other hand is a bastard of a lord, he knows his place, he is favored by the king, and he is very loyal. He also does not really find out what Melusine is all about. I think that is where he lost me at one point of the book. On every page he mentioned that he does not trust her (the queen says she is a rebel), it got old. I do understand it, but Melusine never did anything to prove it right, so he could have trusted her a bit. 

What makes this book different from the HR you might get from the cover is that there are a lot of facts. Never dry ones though, but we get to see the fight between King Stephen and Empress Matilda. Cities that are taken, who changed side, what did King David of Scotland do and so on. Because of the couple's proximity to the royal couple these are events they talk about and experience. 

As for romance, the love that slowly grows between these too is a fiery passion, a love for home and the man or woman who might be right for you. A truer love that takes time to grow. 

My thoughts:
It was an interesting book places against a time of turmoil in England. A good lovestory and what I just love, history, facts and the feeling you are there in the dirty streets and the beautiful halls.

Cover: 
Pretty :)



Monday, 21 November 2011

Author interview - giveaway: Sharon Lathan with Miss Darcy falls in love

Today I have Sharon Lathan over for an interview and at the end you can win her new book, Miss Darcy Falls in Love.

Welcome :)

Tell me 3 fun things about yourself.
I love to scrapbook. It began with creating a scrapbook for my newspaper articles and other author-related mementos. That grew into an obsession so that I now have tons of scrapbooking supplies. Then, just in the past few months I discovered digital scrapbooking and I have gone crazy! 

I am an insane lover of Disneyland. Our whole family is. We hold annual passes and go to Disneyland at least 5 times a year. In fact, my daughter was proposed to in California Adventures! I can guarantee you that we will be heading there again for the Holiday Season. 

I am an awesome Scrabble player. My sister and I have played endless games of Scrabble when together. Now I am addicted to Words With Friends (iPhone Scrabble) and have about 10+ games going on at all times. I can seriously kick bootie on WWF, so watch out! Wanna play?


Could you tell me about your new book, Miss Darcy Falls in Love?
I would love to! Let me start with the synopsis--
Noble young ladies were expected to play an instrument, but Georgiana Darcy is an accomplished musician who hungers to pursue her talents. She embarks upon a tour of Europe, ending in Paris where two very different men will ignite her heart in entirely different ways and begin a bitter rivalry to win her. But only one holds the key to her happiness. 

Set in post-Napoleonic Empire France, Miss Darcy Falls in Love is a riveting love story that enters a world of passion where gentlemen know exactly how to please and a young woman learns to direct her destiny and understand her heart. 

Georgiana’s novel is a fresh experience for me. Unlike the five novels of the Darcy Saga which are a continuous series, Miss Darcy Falls in Love has a distinct plot line with a full arc. It is completely independent novel with a single story that focuses only on Georgiana’s love triangle. For me that is unique and it was tremendous fun! 

I wrote her story with music as the central theme. Not only in that she is a musician herself, as are both of the men who vie for her heart, but I carried the thematic elements  into the names of each chapter and dividing the whole book into a sonata format. It was extremely important to me that music immersed the pages as thoroughly as possible so that readers would feel the importance of music to these characters as clearly as if the sounds were audible. Hopefully I accomplished that.

How has Georgiana matured and changed during these books?
Jane Austen tells us very little about Georgiana other than that she is shy and wounded from her experience with Mr. Wickham. I expanded on that gradually as the Saga advanced. Initially I was not sure how Georgiana would mature. Early on she was skittish, reserved, and endlessly shocked by Lizzy’s liveliness. Her blossoming was a natural result of time, exposure to new people as she traveled, and the friendships she made along the way. Mary and Kitty Bennet played a large part in Georgiana’s evolution. I saw the differing personalities of these three as a perfect blending with each of them learning from the other. 

Georgiana surprised herself - and me - by discovering she loved to dance, could converse in a crowd easier than she imagined, and had the ability to flirt a bit. Then she set out on a tour of the Continent, even crossing the Alps! Quite the wild woman! Suffice to say, Georgiana at 20 is a very different person. 


How many more books will there be in this Darcy series?
I am currently writing the saga of Dr. George Darcy. That novel, like Georgiana’s, will be a stand alone novel so perhaps not technically part of the series. However, there will be more overlap, especially toward the end when George is back in England for good. Although centered on George, readers will also meet James and Anne Darcy, the senior Mr. Darcy, and a young Fitzwilliam. So, okay, yeah, it is part of the series! After that I do not know. I will probably divert into writing some historical romance ideas I have, but it is too soon to tell.

Do you plan on writing more variations when this series is finished?
If by “variations” you refer to other Austen novels the answer is a strong NO. I have no desire to tackle the other Austen characters, for many reasons. The Darcys are different in that they have now moved far beyond where Austen left them. Their characters and lives are mine so I can comfortable carry on with them. Starting fresh with Anne Elliot and Capt. Wentworth or the Tilneys is a challenge I do not want to attempt.


Are there still characters from Pride and Prejudice that you would like to explore more?
Yes and no. I have a soft spot for Charlotte Collins and Caroline Bingley. I have often thought of delving into their lives a bit deeper. Maybe someday. I am also quite partial to the Darcy children I wrote. There is lots of fodder for stories with them! 

And last, could you give any aspiring readers any advice when it comes to writing?
The best advice is to keep writing. “Practice,” as Lady Catherine would say! This is a crazy business and nothing is for sure except for one thing: If you don’t keep writing and striving to get your work noticed, you will get no where. Persevere, be strong, and keep writing!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I love interviews and hope your readers enjoy what I have to say AND are intrigued by the synopsis and excerpt! I’ll be popping in as ofter as I can throughout the day to answer any questions. 

Thanks!

GIVEAWAY
1 copy of Miss Darcy Falls in Love


1. US and Canada
2. Ends Nov 30
3. Just enter :)  comment, ask a question or just say hi







Excerpt--

“But the weather is glorious and perfect for shopping! How can you even think about staying home?” 
“Staying inside, even on this glorious day, my dear Yvette, is a delightful thought. Yes, above shopping.” 
Yvette and Zoë stared at Georgiana as if she had just proposed flying to the moon. “This is three days in a row,” Zoë declared. “Are you ill?” 
“Have you and the baron suffered a spat? Is your heart now broken by him so soon after being broken by Monsieur Butler?” Yvette mourned, her frown of concern as overblown as Zoë’s. 
“My heart has been broken by no one,” Georgiana assured for the umpteenth time, sighing and walking toward the piano. 
“But the baron has not called upon you for days and days!” 
“It has been all of two days, Yvette, and he warned me that he needed to attend to Conservatoire duties. He will be here this afternoon for tea, if that information comforts and allays speculation.” 
“And Monsieur Butler? Surely he must be home by now and yet he does not visit. The tragedy increases! We shall inquire as to his whereabouts while socializing today, my dearest Georgiana. Surely someone will have news.” 
“You will do no such thing! Mr. Butler’s business is none of mine unless he chooses to enlighten me!” Georgiana smiled at her two friends, softening her face and tone after the sharp retort. “Truly, dearest Yvette and Zoë, all is well. I am merely tired and desirous of solitude. I have missed playing. I know you do not understand, but trust me that my opting to remain home is not a reflection of internal sadness or because I do not enjoy shopping and your company. Now, hasten on your way before the best ribbons are gone.” 
The twins did not look convinced but they argued no further. Minutes later Georgiana was alone. Blessedly alone. Everyone in the house was gone except for the servants, who wandered about quietly attending to their tasks. Even Mrs. Annesley had gone for an afternoon by herself in the city. Lord Caxton promised to join her for tea later in the day, as soon as it was possible to break away from practice for an upcoming symphony performance, but that gave Georgiana upwards of three hours of freedom. 
“Freedom,” she mumbled as she spread the sheets along the piano rest. An odd word choice, she thought, pausing to reflect. Am I not happily anticipating the baron’s visit? She nodded as an answer and it was true that she enjoyed his company. 
But… 
She ran the tip of her index finger over the symbols inked on the staff, following the lines across to the brace and then down to the lower staff. Without lifting from the parchment, she completed the circuit, tracing each clef and note sign until reaching the bottom of the page. There she paused, staring at the signature scrawled in the margin for a minute before brushing her fingertip over it. 
Sebastian Cedric Frasier Albert Butler. 


Sharon’s Bio--

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Her previously published novels are: Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy, My Dearest Mr. Darcy, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, A Darcy Christmas, and The Trouble With Mr. Darcy. Miss Darcy Falls in Love is Georgiana’s tale of love and adventure while in France. Complete with a happy ending. In addition to her writing, Sharon works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. Visit Sharon on her website: www.sharonlathan.net and on Austen Authors, her group blog with 25 novelist of Austen literature: www.austenauthors.com

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Review: Somewhere my lass - Beth Trissel

Published: 2010

Pages: 235, ebook
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Review by Anachronist
I got this book free of charge from the publisher via Blodeuedd in exchange for a fair review. That fact didn't influence my opinion in any way.

Summary (from Amazon.com)

This book is the second in Beth Trissel's Somewhere series, although it can be easily read as a stand-alone.

Neil MacKenzie's well ordered life turns to chaos when Mora Campbell shows up claiming he's her fiance from 1602 Scotland. Her avowal that she was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, is utter nonsense, and Neil must convince her that she is just addled from a blow to her head--or so he believes until the MacDonald himself shows up wanting blood.


Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past. Although her kinsmen believe he's dead, and she is now destined to marry Niall's brother, she's convinced that if she and Neil return to the past, all will be right. The only problem is how to get back to 1602 before it's too late. 

The balance of the present and future are in peril if she marries another, and the Neil of the present will cease to exist. An ancient relic and a few good friends in the future help pave the way back to the past, but will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?
What I liked:
I enjoyed the most all these modern references to Star Wars, Matrix, Star Trek, Indiana Jones and other films and serials. It was a very nice addition to a time travel romance this book really is. Especially that the main heroine here is Mora, a girl from the 17th century transported magically into the present. I know next to nothing about Highland dialects, but I loved Mora's ranting and raving and she sounded pretty authentic to me. When Neil had her taken to the hospital and she misunderstood just about everything, it was pretty funny, as it was when she asked how the lights were kept on and Neil said gas and she thought he meant the kind you got in your stomach.
What I didn’t like:
The plot to stop the super-evil MacDonald guy (which I instantly connected to the famous fast food restaurants’ network, truly nefarious company) was a bit outlandish and predictable. The MacDonald loomed over the story but hardly in a shape of a three-dimensional, fully fledged baddie – in other words I wish there had been more of him or at least a lot more explanation about him.

What’s more there weren’t a lot of good secondary characters to make the story really engaging apart from Fergus, Neil’s best friend and a nerdy oddball, carrying always a lot of strange gadgets (even those weird sporks!). I think the narration occasionally relied on him too much to move it along or to get Mora and Neil out of a difficult situation. Also I must admit the explanation of the origin of all gadgetry became tedious after some time. Honestly, plenty of people know in what movies light sabers were used and by whom, no need to explain obvious all the time.

Finally I must admit I don’t like time travel books because usually such a premise creates more problems than fun – you are left with a sense of futility because sooner or later the story takes a loop returning you to the starting point. Accordingly I wasn’t wild about the ending of this novel – not really. It left too many questions unanswered.
Oh and I noticed the editor tended to have a trouble with spelling the word `ambulance’ now and then.
Final verdict:
If you like paranormal romances with hunky Scots and high-tech gadgets this is a book for you – not very long, entertaining and even fluffy from time to time. If you are, like me, an enemy of fluffiness and romance – give it a pass.
 /anachronist

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Review: Fistful of Reefer - David Mark Brown

Series: Reeferpunk #1
Genre: Dieselpunk
Pages: 357, ebook
Published: July 2011
Review by Lis

The year is 1918. Chancho Villarreal and his Native American friends, Muddy and Nena, live a quiet life on their goat ranch and marijuana farm north of Del Rio, Texas. But when ghosts from Chancho's revolutionary past combine with local panic over stories of the demon El Chupacabra, the three friends inadvertently draw the attention of Texas Ranger, T.J. McCutchen. 

McCutchen has made it his personal crusade to prevent the little known intoxicant, marijuana, from corrupting his borderlands, despite the dark secret that he depends on its medicinal properties to control his seizures. When he discovers the remains of the marijuana field his worst fears are confirmed — the drug is being grown in Texas soil. 

To stay ahead of McCutchen's brutal brand of justice Chancho, Muddy and Nena, are forced to pack up all their worldly possessions, including their marijuana harvest and herd of goats. What follows is an action-packed ride across the wilds of a weird-west, dieselpunk Texas haunted by rumors of El Chupacabras behind every bush.



Well hell… this was something different alright and that coming from the girl who recently read the most disturbing book in my reading career!  Not only does this author take elements we don’t often get to see, he creates a unique story with them too. I have to admit that I was browsing a bookstore; I would never have picked this up. That’s the beauty of review books, you read stories you’d normally never read. Sometimes that’s a bad thing, but in this case it’s good. 

This story is about Chancho, a Mexican, Nena, his wife and Kickapoo Native American and Muddy an African American man. They are a sort of family together and own a marihuana farm along with goats. The antagonist in this story – depending on the way you see it – is Texas Ranger T.J. McCutchen. He is the law and very strict about the rules. Even if he bends them a little for himself. Can you guess where this is going?

No you can’t! Trust me. Every time I thought I had a grasp on the story something else happens. At time I found it a bit preposterous and well weird, but it fit the story. I especially loved the Diesel Punk elements, but that’s an acquired taste. 

It’s an action packed story and that’s where the strength lies. The characters are also not half bad, but they are an acquired taste and you have to like them! Especially Chancho and McCutchen. They all have a certain amount of wickedness to them and never quite are what they seem. 

It’s hard to really explain this book, because it was so different, yet likable. I found myself enjoying the story and if you really want to know about this story, all I can tell you is to pick it up for yourself!



Friday, 18 November 2011

Review: Voodoo Dues - Stephany Simmons

Series: Lian and Figg #1
Genre; Urban Fantasy
Format: Ebook
Published: July 2011
Review by Lis


From the beginning of Figg’s employment, there is something not quite right about the bar. There are few customers, a parade of neighborhood psychics and pentacle adorned visitors, all coming to hold court with her enigmatic boss. Figg is not sure what is going on, but she is determined to find out! 

When the local voodoo queen shows up, and the next morning her grandson ends up dead outside the bar things get interesting. Figg pesters Lian into telling her the truth about his former life, and is thrust into a world where the things that go bump in the night are real. There’s a murder to solve, zombies to lay to rest and a villain that neither of them saw coming. 


Voodoo, Intrigue and Funny are ingredients of choice at the moment after reading a bunch of disturbing books that almost turned me away from (m/m) romance forever. Voodoo Dues was therefore a very welcome and much needed light read. At least it didn’t have aliens, eggs and an orgasm machine *shudders* What it does have is funny and lovable characters, a mystery, romance and voodoo and a murder. Need a Scooby Snack yet?

Figg is a bartender in this first person story in a bar where something shady is going on. From pentacle wearing customers and local psychics, they all come to flock to her boss like moth to a flame. Naturally Figg is curious and sticks her nose where it doesn’t belong. 

She gets in way deep when the grandson of the Voodoo Queen is found murdered outside the bar. Suddenly there are zombies, along with other things that go bump in the night and on top of that, her straight-laced, yummeeeeee, boss shows her a whole different side of himself. 

This is a funny light read that could have done with a few more pages. It’s a lovable story that would have been a little less confusing if it wasn’t seen from the first person view of both the characters. It’s a much criticized technique that not everyone will like. 

However, I found that it didn’t make me like this story any less. The characters are sweet and strong. Figg is lovable, but strong and touch. She doesn’t break down when she’s thrust into a world she doesn’t know anything about. 

Lian, her boss, is a very sweet man who’s trying to escape the horrors of his past. At times I found him a bit too girly, but not to the point that I no longer liked him. 

The plot itself in well thought through, but nothing big. It fits the story. 

You know who else fit the story? The secondary cast of characters! They are a good bunch. They are who actually sold the story to me. Romance needs a good cast of secondary characters and this story doesn’t disappoint. 

So, all in all, this story had me believing there is hope for romance yet! 



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Thursday, 17 November 2011

Review: The Virtuoso - Grace Burrowes

The series: The Duke's Obsession #3
Genre: Historical romance
Pages: 416
Published: Nov 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: For review
The highly praised trilogy of Regency romances by award-winning author Grace Burrowes concludes with gifted pianist Valentine Windham, youngest son of the Duke of Moreland. Val retreats to the country after an injury robs him of his musical ability, only to learn from impoverished widow Ellen Markham that he can be loved even when his music falls silent.

My thoughts;
Ever since I read about Val in book 1 I wanted to read his book, he just felt so different than other heroes. He just sat by his piano all day long and played. He sounded so sweet.

In this one he wins an estate and goes to fix it up, and to rest since his hand is red and swollen (poor Val, all he wants to do is play). There he meets his heroine, Ellen Markham, a young widow, a  nice soul who lives all alone in the woods. And she has got a secret, just like the 2 heroines before her. She does sit on her secret for quite some time, but then we get a few clues along the way what she is hiding. And you always think it is so much worse than it really is. Also, it is not Val is perfect either, because he keeps a secret too, he does not tell her that he is the son of a Duke. And she does tell him that she has a secret.

But mostly this book is about these two meeting and falling in love (lust first ;), they are nice to each other and gets along splendidly. He also works on getting his manor in order, and someone is sabotaging.  There is also that question, why is someone doing it? And of course the secret of what Ellen is hiding. It brings a bit of thrill to this romance and it is that which keep you going, because you just need to know what is going on, even when you have figured it out. 

And like the two other books she has written in this series there is always that romantic shimmer over it all, and the hero is the one who fights. And I am a sucker for a hero who fights for his love and is the one who wants to put things right and win her hand.

Conclusion:
A sweet romance with a hero you will fall for at once.

Cover:
Hm...ok

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Review: Miss Darcy Falls in Love - Sharon Lathan

Series: The Darcy Saga # 7
Genre: Pride and Prejudice variation
Pages: 304
Published: Nov 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Source: For review


Noble young ladies were expected to play an instrument, but societal restrictions would have chafed for Georgiana Darcy, an accomplished musician. Her tour of Europe draws the reader into the musical life of the day, and a riveting love story of a young woman learning to direct her destiny and understand her own heart.

My thoughts:
This book is part of a series, but it works wonderfully as a stand alone novel, as the other books have been mostly about Lizzy and Darcy, and in this one it is Georgiana who takes the stage. So this is fully her book as we do not even get to meet Lizzy and Darcy. Sure you can read all the ones before, but you can also enjoy it as it is.

I do love my PP stories, but I love the side characters just as much, and it was wonderful to see Georgiana fall in love, and with a man who fits her so well. She needs someone like her in certain aspects and I did like the man who at last wins her heart.

And that ism truly what this book is about, Georgiana is in Europe, meeting new friends, longing for home, and then meeting someone new, and not just one man. No, there is a choice to be made. But we all know which man she will pick. Or hope she will pick. They are both good in their own ways, but I do think Gerorgiana played a bit with the one man's feeling (not knowingly), but afterwards I felt really sorry for him and hoped he would find love again.

Lathan is known for her sensual books, but this one is again different since it deals with Georgiana, and her being unwed, well we can't have anything like that going on. There the book differs from the other books in this series. It is more romantic and longing.

It was a wonderfully sweet book and as always it was fun to meet everyone again, or at least hear about them since Lathan truly has worked on this series, and wanting to give everyone happy endings. And I do like hearing about them all.

Conclusion:
A good book in this series, and an equally good book that can stand on its one. Lathan is a true romantic.

Cover:
It fits the vibe really well

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 I am over at Yummy Men and Kick ass chicks today and I am talking about why I love history :) Come say hi :D And Julie also has contest going on to celebrate her historical books week.

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