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• My review policy and contact info is located OVER HERE.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ARC Review: Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed by Anna Campbell

Format: epub (provided by NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

WILL A WEEK OF SEDUCTION . . .
Desperate to save her sister's life, Sidonie Forsythe has agreed to submit herself to a terrible fate: Beyond the foreboding walls of Castle Craven, a notorious, hideously scarred scoundrel will take her virtue over the course of seven sinful nights. Yet instead of a monster, she encounters a man like no other. And during this week, she comes to care for Jonas Merrick in ways that defy all logic-even as a dark secret she carries threatens them both.

. . . SPARK A LIFETIME OF PASSIONATE SURRENDER?

Ruthless loner Jonas knows exactly who he is. Should he forget, even for a moment, the curse he bears, a mere glance in the mirror serves as an agonizing reminder. So when the lovely Sidonie turns up on his doorstep, her seduction is an even more delicious prospect than he originally planned. But the hardened outcast is soon moved by her innocent beauty, sharp wit, and surprising courage. Now as dangerous enemies gather at the gate to destroy them, can their new, fragile love survive?

Can I just say "Wow?" I LOVED this book, I mean truly loved it. Let me start off by saying that I love a hero that is at a disadvantage, whether it be a personality or physical disadvantage like Jonas, I love it. Too many times in a romance novel it's the female that is at the disadvantage and needs rescuing from the hero. Not so in Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed, it's Jonas Merrick who needs to be rescued. His emotional damage is severe, and on top of that, he was scarred physically on purpose by someone close to him. Almost from the beginning the obstacles seemed to much for the heroine, Sidone (what a great name by the way). I didn't know if she could ever come close to over coming them and getting her happy ending, but she's one smart and determined character.

Jonas Merrick broke my heart. He may WANT to come off as a careless and cold man but he isn't. A big part of him wants to be accepted and loved for himself and not for what he can do for them. His trust is something that is hard to earn, fragile to keep and almost impossible to regain once lost. What a wonderful hero he made! The ultimate tortured soul in my opinion.

The emotional connection between Jonas and Sidone takes such a long time to form and when it does it is so fragile, so delicate that it's almost impossible to believe they will make it and that's what makes Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed so good. It's the angst, the uncertainty and the longing between Jonas and Sidone that kept me turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning.

One thing that is certain though, throughout the book there are some really steamy "almost sexy time but not quite yet" moments that left me flushed and fanning myself, and I'm not even going to mention the sexytime scenes for fear of combustion. So reader beware!

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed is the first book in a new series by Anna Campbell and though it hasn't even been released yet, I'm terribly eager for the next book in the series and judging by the teaser, it promises to be a really good read just like this one!

Rating:

Find Anna Campbell:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Wicked Nights by Gena Showalter

Format: epub (gift from Danielle)
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook


Leader of the most powerful army in the heavens, Zacharel has been deemed nearly too dangerous, too ruthless—and if he isn't careful, he'll lose his wings. But this warrior with a heart of ice will not be deterred from his missions at any cost…until a vulnerable human tempts him with a carnal pleasure he's never known before.

Accused of a crime she did not commit, Annabelle Miller has spent four years in an institution for the criminally insane. Demons track her every move, and their king will stop at nothing to have her. Zacharel is her only hope for survival, but is the brutal angel with a touch as hot as hell her salvation—or her ultimate damnation?

Very few authors can successfully write misery, pain and despair and yet still infuse each book with enough steamy, romantic scenes to be considered a romance novel. Gena Showalter is one of these remarkable people. First with her Lords of the Underworld series and now with Wicked Nights, the first book in her brand new Angels of the Dark series. This book had me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning!

I'm such a huge fan of Gena Showalter, ever since I got my hands on the first book in her Lords of the Underworld series I was hooked. Such a wonderful combination of the paranormal, action, violence, romance and tragedy, each of the books was engaging, sexy and interesting. When the angels (both fallen and unfallen) were introduced I knew I was going to want more on them in particular. When Wicked Nights was released, I was forced to add it to my "Must Buy Soon" list instead of purchasing it right away.

Thankfully, my very own Book Angel, Danielle was kind enough to gift me with a copy for my Nook. How long did I wait before I started to read it? About 2 minutes.

Wasting no time jumping into the blood and gore, Wicked Nights begins with pain and death for the heroine, Annabelle and though she goes through so much BEFORE she meets Zacharel she doesn't let it defeat her in any way, shape or form. Even battered and bruised, she is still very capable of being a compassionate, loving woman... With an attitude.

Zacharel on the other hand has had to DO terrible things in his thousands of years of living, he has dealt pain onto others, innocent and not so innocent, with no remorse. He is so cold and emotionless, which is what has gotten him in trouble with his Deity. From the first meeting it's clear that Annabelle and Zacharel have an uphill battle if they're ever going to have a chance at a happy ending, both are stubborn creatures that are firm in their individual beliefs and find it hard to compromise with each other.

The imagery created in her previous books is definitely present in Wicked Nights, it's easy to get lost in the scenes being described and in the character's themselves, such a wonderful thing to experience and I've always experienced that with Gena Showalter's books.

As with Showalter's other books, there is quite a bit of violence and gore but really, a book isn't a paranormal book to me unless there's violence and gore. Annabelle and Zacharel's chemistry is a slow burn until about midway through and then it's just scorching! So grab your fans and ice water cause you're gonna need it!!

If Wicked Nights is what I can expect from Gena Showalter's new series, then I'm going to be one happy reader!

Rating:
 Find Gena Showalter:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Giveaway: Intimate Enemies by Joan Swan (e-book)

Because I just love Joan's books and want to introduce people to them, I thought I'd have another giveaway. One lucky winner will get an e-book copy of Joan's latest release, Intimate Enemies. If you like romantic suspense, you'll LOVE this book! You can read my review of Intimate Enemies over here.


She is on a quest for answers; answers that could just get her killed.

Six months after the mysterious yacht explosion that killed Cassie Christo’s mother and stepbrother, authorities still have no answers to the cause. Searching for closure, Cassie returns to her childhood home on the Pacific Coast of Baja, Mexico, where she launches her own investigation into the accident. She never expected to find an adversary in the man who had once touched her heart with kindness in her darkest moment.

Rio’s been fantasizing about reconnecting with Cassie for months. But not here and sure as hell not now. As an undercover agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he’s working the biggest sting operation in all of northern Mexico, and he definitely doesn’t have time for the wild attraction he feels for Cassie.

Not only is his cover on the line, so is his heart. Because as the end of a yearlong operation draws closer, Rio knows if he tells Cassie the truth about who and what he is, it won’t only jeopardize his mission, it may result in him losing her forever. And if he doesn’t, his lies and deception could get them both killed.

Sounds like a great read huh? Since I will be gifting the winner with a copy from Smashwords, you'll need to create an account on their site if you win. It's free so don't worry.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: All Night with a Rogue by Alexandra Hawkins

Format: epub (purchased)
Release Date:
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

IT BEGAN AS A FAVOR… 
Seduce Lady Juliana Ivers and then cast her aside: Those are his sister’s instructions. Alexius Braverton, Marquess of Sinclair—known as Sin to the ton—is happy enough to oblige, especially when he catches a glimpse of his target. Juliana is completely unlike the empty-headed chits who barely hold his attention for a week. A true gentleman would leave her to find a worthy suitor. But then, a Lord of Vice would never claim to be a gentleman.

WOULD IT END IN FOREVER? 
Juliana is expected to marry well to improve her family’s finances, even if she secretly longs to make a living through her musical compositions. A dalliance can only complicate matters, though not even practical Juliana can help succumbing to the aptly named Sin. But one unforgettable night will draw her into a scandalous affair—and a seduction begun as sport will soon become deliciously, dangerously real…


It isn't everyday that you meet the heroine of a book and she's up a tree. Literally. Lady Juliana Ivers is definitely a woman of action, that's something I immediately caught onto in the first two pages. She's no push over, if she doesn't want to do something and can find a way out of a situation, she'll do whatever it takes. She's also an emotional woman and this creates an inner conflict when she's faced with important decisions. As tough as Juliana is, she's still a victim of Sin's manipulations and it was hard for me to like him because of that. As sensual and charismatic as he is, the Marquess of Sinclair is a bastard in general and as All Night with a Rogue progressed I was beginning to doubt author Alexandra Hawkins' ability to turn him into a hero instead of the villain he seemed intent on becoming.

It was a close call but Sin isn't a totally irredeemable character, and that's part of what kept me reading All Night with a Rogue until the very end. I had NEVER read a book where the hero was so close to being a true villain. Not even Lisa Kleypas' Lord St. Vincent (Devil in Winter) was as bad a Sin. Alexandra Hawkins really knows her unrepentant males! I didn't start to root for Sin until literally like 50 pages from the end when he started being a hero instead of a jerk.

Juliana is quite the damsel in distress. Through no fault of her own she has found herself the pawn in a selfish woman's quest for revenge for an imagined slight, with Sin as her weapon. And though he never pretends to be anything but what he is, Sin shows Juliana moments of tenderness that in the end, has her falling in love with him to her complete ruin. It takes an almost tragic event to force Sin to his senses. Juliana, is the victim in the entire book but never once does she whine about it and play the "Poor Me" game, she's a survivor and that made me like her all the more. A rose in a storm.

All Night with a Rogue was an intense read, with a lot of "almosts." An almost tragic heroine, an almost irredeemable hero, an almost insufferable mother and an almost unfix-able situation. Somehow though, Alexandra Hawkins made it all work out and became one of the "Must Have" authors on my list.

Rating: 
Find Alexandra Hawkins:


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: More Than a Kiss by Stacey Joy Netzel

Format: epub (purchased)
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Purchase Links: Kindle l Nook l Smashwords l All Romance E-Books

When a kiss...

All reporter Sadie Barton wants is to be taken seriously and judged on her own merits, not her stepfather’s money. She and her actress sister left Wisconsin to get out from under his controlling thumb and leave behind the malicious whispers that they’re no better than their gold-digging mother. But California isn’t all sun and fun, and paying the rent while trying to prove herself is harder than she ever imagined.

...is more than a kiss...

Something about Sadie drew self-made millionaire Zach Robinson—and it wasn’t just the amazing kiss they shared as impromptu actors in his company's commercial. He’s used to women being interested in his wealth, and Sadie’s fierce independence is an enticing breath of fresh air. He’s falling fast—until his brother suggests acting runs in her family and Sadie might not be exactly what she seems...


I have found a new author to love. A few weeks ago my buddy Danielle over at Book Whore Book Blog was talking about how much she loved Lost in Italy by Stacey Joy Netzel in her review and since she and I have very similar tastes in books, I went looking for Lost in Italy for my Nook. Alas, at the time it was not available on Barnes and Noble but I found another book that was mentioned in a follow up interview with Stacey Joy Netzel on Danielle's blog. It was More Than A Kiss. Even though it wasn't a romantic suspense novel, the summary did peak my interest.

Score another point for Danielle and about 100 for author Stacey Joy Netzel because this book is a keeper. This is my first real experience with an indie author's work and I didn't know what to expect.

I love being pleasantly surprised with books. More Than a Kiss is an entertaining, steamy, at times funny story about two people who come from two different backgrounds, Zach is rich and Sadie isn't. What I loved was that Sadie had flaws. She didn't realize that while she was adamant about not dating Zach because of his money that she was in essence judging him because he did have money just like wealthy people judged her for not having money.

Both Sadie and Zach have flaws, and I love that in books because it makes them more believable and real. No one's perfect in real life and they shouldn't be in fiction either. Perfection is boring and thank goodness Stacey Joy Netzel didn't create perfect characters.

There's also a secondary love story going on along with Zach and Sadie that while interesting, doesn't take away from the main focus of the story. The dialogue is witty, thoughtful and at times funny.

There's just the right amount of angst in this book to make the ending all the more sweet. After they throw out all their respective emotional baggage, Zach and Sadie realize they're great together. The chemistry and passion between the two is steamy, and it's set at the right pace to allow for personal and emotional growth between the two and makes the relationship more believable.

I can't wait to get my hands on more of Stacey Joy Netzel's books and I just found out Lost in Italy is now available for Nook. Guess what's going on my wishlist?

Rating: 

Find Stacey Joy Netzel:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione

Format: epub (provided by NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook 

Thanatos, the most deadly Horseman of the Apocalypse, has endured thousands of years of celibacy to prevent the end of days. But just one night with the wickedly sexy Aegis Guardian, Regan Matthews, shatters centuries of resolve. Yet their passion comes with a price. And Thanatos must face a truth more terrifying than an apocalypse-he's about to become a father.
Demon-slayer Regan Matthews never imagined herself the maternal type, but with the fate of the world hanging in the balance she had no choice but to seduce Thanatos and bear his child. Now, as the final battle draws closer and his rage at being betrayed is overshadowed by an undeniable passion for the mother of his child, Thanatos has a life-shattering realization: To save the world, he must sacrifice the only thing he's ever wanted-a family.

I have done something I haven't done since I was 14 years old. I have read a series... Out. Of. Order. *cue horrified gasps and a swooning lady*

This may not bother some of you but for people like me it's a big deal. However, time and money have kept me from the first two books in The Lords of Deliverance series which is a shame really because Lethal Rider delivers (pun totally intended).


Thanatos and Regan (who fans of Ione's Demonica series will remember) have amazing chemistry. Remarkable given that Regan is eight months pregnant with Thanatos' son. Why is this remarkable? Because whenever I've read stories with a pregnant character, she's always "glowing," "radiant," and "beautiful" but never "sexy." Why? I don't know but author Larissa Ione makes Regan sexy and has kept her character consistent since she first appeared in The Demonica series. No drastic personality changes here.


What makes Lethal Rider just as good if not better (in my humble opinion) than the books in the Demonica series is the conflict surrounding The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They really have their work cut out for them, and with a Larissa Ione book, there never is a clean cut "Happily Ever After." It's only a "Happy For Now" ending that usually comes at a high price. It's never a good idea to get attached to a character, you don't know if they'll make it to the end of the book. That kind of suspense has kept me reading Larissa Ione's books since I first discovered them a few years ago.


Point blank, Larissa Ione's books are gritty, tough, sensual and oh-so addictive. Fans of the Demonica series like myself will love Lethal Rider and its predecessors just as much as her other books. So go out and treat yourself to a book or three. I know I am.

Rating: 

Find Larissa Ione:
Online l Twitter l Facebook l GoodReads 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bloggers Beware + Image Removals

As if there aren't enough legal issues on the internet, bloggers you MUST read this post by Roni Loren about using images on your blogs that are NOT free to use.

"Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics On Your Blog"

So I will begin taking down images left and right on this blog. I also want to compile or list links to sites with images that you CAN use without too much worry.

I will also be contacting the correct people as to getting permission to post book covers when I'm reviewing books/promoting authors.

Friday, July 20, 2012

R.I.P Victims of the Colorado shooting

Dear followers,

I know this is a book blog, and I know that for the most part, everything here is upbeat and peppy but sadly life isn't always that way. Can we please just take a moment to pray/send positive thoughts and messages to the victims of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting? These people and children were doing nothing more than watching a movie, something that is supposed to take you away from your life for a couple of hours and entertain you.

That's why we go to the movies, to be distracted from our lives, we all do it, heck I've been doing it this summer with The Avengers. The movie theater is one of the LAST places you'd ever feel threatened and yet some maniac with a gun and a twisted mind has shattered that haven, for ALL OF US. Who is to say there won't be copycats? Will we now have to pass through security like in the air ports? Would that make movie goers feel safe?

I don't want to give this sick bastard the satisfaction of knowing he's frightened me and my loved ones away from the movie theaters but I can't help but wonder, "Is it still safe to watch a movie?"

And please, STOP posting this guy's picture, name or anything else that identifies him on your blogs, Twitter, Facebook or any where else. IT'S WHAT HE WANTS. It's obvious he wants to go down in history for his deed and we're giving him exactly what he wants. You hear that media outlets? You're dancing to that creatures tune and giving him the fame he wants. I don't care WHY he did it, I just hope he burns for it.

So please, keep the victims' names and those of their families in your thoughts, prayers and hearts. It could have been and still could be one of us.

Because I will not let evil win, I WILL be going to see The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. Wasn't planning on it, but I am now.
Can someone please point me to the creator of this graphic?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: Deconstructing Infatuation by Merce Cardus

Book Format: PDF (provided by author)
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Purchase Links:  Amazon l Kindle

Sometimes, whether you're single or with a significant one, 
somebody appears in your life unexpectedly. 
We feel the need to know who this person is, 
the need to know exactly who this person is.

A story may offer different interpretations, even with several irreconcilable and contradictory meanings. As in Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta's story in Dante's Divine Comedy, this story is not about unfaithfulness either. This story is about infatuation: what burns inside of oneself when we let ourselves fall madly for someone.


Though Deconstructing Infatuation is a work of fiction, the scenes that take place and the situations that the characters find themselves in are not. They are all too common in today's world. Author Merce Cardus does an amazing job of making the me question not only the characters' motives but my own. It's easy to judge and condemn Helen Hayes for her actions in the beginning, and her choices and at times sheer stupidity made me almost stop reading the book.

Thankfully I didn't stop reading because Deconstructing Infatuation made me question my own behaviors and actions. Would I really make what many consider the "right" choice and avoid temptation all together? Is it really a bad thing to have a fling with a man you're physically attracted to without girlish fantasies getting in the way? What about the fallout that will inevitably happen if you happen to have a significant other? Not everyone has the same answers, heck, not everyone can answer these questions but the point is, they're out there, these situations and questions happen every day to many people, men and women alike. 

While the book's blurb claims it isn't about unfaithfulness, you can't help but see that that is what is happening. A woman is being unfaithful to her significant other and you wonder "Is there any scenario where that doesn't blow up in her face?"

Deconstructing Infatuation is not your HEA romance novel. At least, I didn't see it as one. It's a nitty, gritty, realistic take on life's relationships and the ups and downs that can occur. After all, no one has any where near a perfect life.

So if you're looking for something a little more realistic and relatable, then by all means, pick up a copy of Deconstructing Infatuation and read it. You'll enjoy it because it's one of those books that has you thinking long after you're done reading it. However, if you're a fan of the redeemable characters and the HEA, then you'll want to skip this book. I for one, liked it for what it is instead of criticizing it for what it wasn't.

Rating:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Giveaway: A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

Yes another giveaway!!! This time you can enter to win a Nook format or Kindle format of Tessa Dare's A Night to Surrender. It is the first book in The Spindle Cove series and I'm sure historical romance fans will just love it.

Welcome to Spindle Cove, where the ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are . . . nowhere to be found.

Or are they?

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong here. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this place but spinsters . . . and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram’s makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle…but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

Be sure you fill out the correct Rafflecopter form, one is for the Nook format, the other is for the Kindle format. As long as you can receive either you can enter, so this giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!

You can read my review of A Night to Surrender Here and my review for the follow up book, A Week to be Wicked Here

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review: A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

Book Format: Bound copy (purchased)
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

Summary:
Welcome to Spindle Cove, where the ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are . . . nowhere to be found.

Or are they?

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong here. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this place but spinsters . . . and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram’s makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle…but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?


The first book in a new series by Tessa Dare, A Night to Surrender doesn't disappoint at all. Susanna Finch is awkward, lonely and disappointed with her life, she just doesn't like to dwell on it. She's also smart, strong willed and incredibly caring. She's the type of character you'd love to have in your corner, Susanna fights for those she considers under her care, even going so far as to sacrifice her own happiness, but therein lies one of her flaws. She's so self sacrificing that you just want to strangle her, but that's what makes a dimensional character right? Susanna isn't too perfect to where she becomes unbelievable and the story just isn't fun anymore.

Bram is a such a refreshing character, he's not so sure of himself at all. He feels he has something to prove and he does, it's just not what he thinks it is. Here is a hero that lacks the normal confidence that is common in romance novels but it doesn't make Bram less of a man, it makes him much more interesting and easier to fall in love with.

Together, Susanna and Bram create some of the most entertaining scenes in the book, their bickering is amusing and their chemistry amazing. I love it when there are two characters who can be argumentative one minute and passionate the next.

That's Tessa Dare for you, she creates these characters that you can believe in, they're so real you can honestly see them existing somewhere in the real world and a love story so sweet you want it for yourself.

If you haven't read A Night to Surrender then you're really missing out on the beginning of a funny, passionate and entertaining series.

Rating: 

Find Tessa Dare: 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Intimate Enemies by Joan Swan

Book Format: e-book (provided by author)
Release Date:
Purchase Links: Smashwords l Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook  
She is on a quest for answers; answers that could just get her killed.

Six months after the mysterious yacht explosion that killed Cassie Christo’s mother and stepbrother, authorities still have no answers to the cause. Searching for closure, Cassie returns to her childhood home on the Pacific Coast of Baja, Mexico, where she launches her own investigation into the accident. She never expected to find an adversary in the man who had once touched her heart with kindness in her darkest moment.

Rio’s been fantasizing about reconnecting with Cassie for months. But not here and sure as hell not now. As an undercover agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he’s working the biggest sting operation in all of northern Mexico, and he definitely doesn’t have time for the wild attraction he feels for Cassie.

Not only is his cover on the line, so is his heart. Because as the end of a yearlong operation draws closer, Rio knows if he tells Cassie the truth about who and what he is, it won’t only jeopardize his mission, it may result in him losing her forever. And if he doesn’t, his lies and deception could get them both killed.

I'm feeling quite spoiled because I've done nothing but read stories that have action, mystery and suspense mixed in with steamy romance. I've become even more picky about the romance novels I read so it's always a bit nerve racking to pick up a new book and read it. 

That said, this is author Joan Swan's second book, and I hate to say this but... I liked it better than her debut Fever (don't tell Teague please)! If anything, Intimate Enemies was sexier than Fever and I didn't think that would be possible. The sexual tension between Cassie and Rio was so steamy I swear my glasses fogged up!

I've said it before, I prefer romance novels with bite. Meaning, I love action, suspense and/or mystery mixed in to make the story more interesting and realistic. Strong female and male protagonists are a must and Joan delivers on both fronts. 

Intimate Enemies takes place in Mexico and Joan uses current events to weave a dangerous, action packed story that keeps you guessing until the very end. What I thought was very important is that while Joan did emphasize the drug problems in Mexico and the danger of the cartel, she did not lump all of the people of Mexico with them. She created sympathy for the Mexican people even as she used some of them as the villains of the story. 

This Mexican thanks you Joan.

By the time I finished Intimate Enemies I felt like I had just run through the streets of Mexico while being tailed by the various villains from the book. It was exhilarating, exciting and of course incredibly romantic. 

Let me just finish up by saying that Joan Swan sure can create "bad boy" heroes that aren't at all what they appear. If you like your characters angsty, sexy, and with a sense of duty and honor then you have to add Intimate Enemies to your "Must Have" list.


Rating: 

Find Joan Swan on:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: The Mine by John A. Heldt


Book Format: epub (provided by author)
Release Date: February 12, 2012
Purchase Links: Nook l Kindle

In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.


The Mine has its ups and downs but in the end it comes off as a truly entertaining, adventure mixed with historical fact and sprinkled with a dash of romance. College senior Joel Smith is inadvertently cast as the protagonist in this exciting, time traveling story, so one could call him the reluctant protagonist. He's just a regular guy who finds himself on an irregular journey that anyone can relate to. I don't know if author John Heldt intended Joel to come across as such, but there it is.

Now before you go thinking "Eh, this is just another time traveling sci-fi book, I'll pass" let me just say, The Mine has emotional side. It's not just some college hotshot time traveling and having the time of his life. Joel knows a lot of the people he meets, he knows what is going to happen or not going to happen to them in the future and he is powerless to stop it. As the reader, I began to get attached to these people, just like Joel did even against my better judgement. Author John Heldt didn't write a story about some hot shot college kid that time travels, he wrote a well thought out story with human emotions. Joel isn't some unfeeling, punk kid that doesn't learn from his experiences, sure Joel starts off as your typical college kid but he grows as a character. He comes to truly care for Grace, Katie and Tom which makes it that much harder for him not to interfere with the past. How many people can honestly say that they wouldn't at least try to rewrite their own history or that of a loved one?

While at the beginning, The Mine starts off as an adventure and is all fun and games, it later develops into a deeper, more meaningful story that becomes harder and harder to put down. There is a sadness and finality to Joel's visit to the past, you just know what he's going to have to do and you're drawn into his emotional conflict of whether or not to leave the past and return to the future when he has found so much love, acceptance and life in 1941.

The love story between Joel and Grace was just one of those ones you know is doomed to fail, they're from different times, literally but they're just so perfect together that you can only hope they'll find some way to end up with a happy ever after. I held my breath towards the end because I wanted, more than anything for Joel to find happiness in the present, even though it was hopeless as he was desperately in love with Grace and she was in the past. The suspend and angst I felt in the last 50 or so pages was unexpected, John Heldt, you put me through an emotional ringer in only 50 pages and I loved it!!!

Overall, The Mine may sound like your everyday, run of the mill time traveling story but it is actually the emotional journey of one young man who learns about life, love, hard work and what's really important. I ended up liking it more than I thought I would.


Rating: 


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Author! Author! Interview with: John Heldt

I'm really excited to have the opportunity to interview yet another talented author. Before you get to the interview, find out a little more about John Heldt.

John A. Heldt is a reference librarian who lives and works in Montana. The former award-winning sportswriter and newspaper editor has loved reading and writing since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of both the University of Oregon and University of Iowa, he is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. THE MINE is his first novel.






Tell us a bit about yourself, what do you like to do on your spare time? Where did you grow up and was writing always a part of your life?
I am an Oregon native who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, the third oldest in a family of six kids. I have written informally since grade school and professionally since college, when I worked for the school newspaper. But I didn't consider writing fiction until a few years ago. A novel is a major commitment for a married man with three kids and a full-time job. But it is ultimately something I couldn't put off. When I'm not tapping on a keyboard, I'm exercising, fishing, reading, or making beer. I also enjoy long walks with my dog. There's nothing like a long walk in a quiet place to clear a mind of clutter.

Taking a historical event and using it as part of a story isn't new but it can make a certain storyline more believable. What made you pick the planetary alignment of May 2000?
Great question. I picked it because I wanted to start my story in 2000 and it was the most noteworthy celestial event that year. And I wanted to start my story in 2000 because of the symbolic significance of the millennium, the introduction of the Sacagawea dollar (which plays a key role in The Mine), and generational spacing. It was reasonable to believe that a woman born in 1920 could have a 22-year-old grandson (protagonist Joel Smith) in 2000. The timing of the planetary alignment in May 2000 was a stroke of good luck. Joel and his best friend go hiking in Yellowstone three weeks before they graduate from college in Seattle. It's unlikely they would have done that in January. Planetary alignments, furthermore, are no small deal. People throughout history have treated them much like solar eclipses. They have viewed them with awe and alarm. It was the perfect event to activate a time portal and send my protagonist hurtling 59 years into the past.

How much of yourself, if any, did you put into Joel and/or Adam?
There is a bit of myself in both characters. I have Joel's love of history, sports, and irony and a little of Adam's cynicism. But both characters are mostly composites of people I have known since college.

In your opinion, what is the best part of writing? The worst?
The best part is getting it right. Finding the right words for the right situation. Producing something that reads more like poetry than an instruction manual. Reading a passage days, even weeks, after first putting it on paper and knowing that it can’t be improved. The worst is running into a roadblock where no word or phrase seems to work. But I've learned that even the best writers can't produce perfect prose all the time. Sometimes you have to sacrifice elegance to communicate effectively.

Is there anything that people would be surprised to find on your bookshelf?
They would probably be surprised mostly by what I don't have on my bookshelf. I own very few books. I check out books at the library, read them once, and return them. I think I have read maybe two or three books, out of nearly 500 overall, more than once. But one book I own that holds a treasured place in my collection is The Pacific by Hugh Ambrose. Hugh is the son of famed historian and author Stephen E. Ambrose and served as the historical consultant for The Pacific miniseries on HBO. I got to know Hugh through my work and provided minor research assistance for his book, which helped broaden my understanding of World War II and those who fought it.

Have you ever read a book and said "I wish I'd thought of that?"
Nothing comes to mind. I occasionally come across words and phrases that I wish I had used in my own book, but that's about it. I do, however, greatly admire authors who can produce non-fiction works that read like fiction. Jon Krakauer did this with his bestseller Into Thin Air, a first-person account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. And Robert Kurson did it with Shadow Divers, which chronicled the search for a sunken German U-boat off the New Jersey coast. 

What are you working on now?
I am working on a second novel featuring a middle-aged widow who travels back to the time and place of her senior year in high school. She meets and befriends her younger self and has the opportunity to make life changes and influence the fates of others.

What do you think it is about books like The Mine that draw people in? 
Two things come to mind, and they are loosely related. The first is that readers of fiction like to escape. Whether they escape to an exotic place or a distant time doesn't matter. As long as they can leave their current surroundings behind, it is sufficient. That is the beauty of fiction. We get to imagine. We get to dream. And in The Mine, readers get to escape to 1941 and see Seattle, Washington, and other Pacific Northwest venues through the eyes of a modern man. Fans of romance also like . . . romance. Not just the physical interaction between the hero and the heroine, but also the flirtation, the conflicts, and the drama. You know, what our parents and grandparents called courtship. The Mine has plenty of that too. It is a throwback of sorts, a love story set in a simpler time – but a time where the stakes for young men and women entering relationships were enormous.

Favorite movie/tv show?
I don't watch much TV, but two series I watched regularly last season were Pan Am, the drama on ABC, and the new Hawaii Five-O on CBS. 

Is there anything else you'd like people to know?


Thank you John for giving me a few minutes of your time!

Be sure to check back for my review of The Mine.

Get your copy of The Mine at:
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Monday, July 2, 2012

Giveaway: Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

Because I really love giveaways and Elizabeth Hoyt, I'm going to combine the two. I want to get TWO people hooked on Elizabeth's Maiden Lane series by giving away two e-copies of the first book in the series, Wicked Intentions.

Discover what the Maiden Lane series is about below, read about the giveaway and enter!!!

A MAN CONTROLLED BY HIS DESIRES
Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London's most notorious slum. Widowed Temperance Dews knows the area like the back of her hand—she cares for its children at the foundling home her family established. Now that home is at risk…

A WOMAN HAUNTED BY HER PAST
Caire makes a simple offer—in return for Temperance's help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home. But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as a cold bargain soon falls prey to a passion neither can control—and may well destroy them both.

I can tell you that this series is addictive and if you're a fan of action, suspense, murder, mystery and steamy chemistry, then you're going to love Wicked Intentions! The only requirement is that you be able to receive e-books from Barnes and Noble or Amazon, so that makes this giveaway INTERNATIONAL!

Find Elizabeth Hoyt on: