Taking Review Requests: Yes but only if I've reviewed the author in the past. Interviews and guest posts are open to new-to-me authors. Please see my policy before requesting.

Hosting Giveaways: Yes

Accepting Author Interviews/Guest Posts: Yes

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

Bloggers, I would love to interview you, have you guest post and/or guest review here! Please contact me if you're interested!

Monday, December 31, 2012

End of the Year Wrap Up/Most Anticipated Releases for 2013

It's that time of the year... To put it bluntly, it's the last day of 2012 and there was no apocalypse. Zombie or otherwise, and the Mayans were wrong (I still maintain they lost interest in making the calendar and just stopped altogether). I  joined the blogger world this past spring and though it has been  difficult to build Breath of Life Reviews from the ground to ankle level, it has been rewarding. I've met some amazing people that I can  now call my friends and I've found the courage to interact with authors,  including some of my favorites.

This year also saw the release of some really great romances, some from my favorites, but most from new-to-me authors. I've had a blast with all of them, and I can't let 2012 end without mentioning those books that really stood out. Nor can I let the 2013 begin without mentioning the books that I am anticipating more than my next Starbucks trip. So let's begin with my 2012 wrap up. These are the books that made my year (In order of release date).

Darker After Midnight (Midnight Breed #10) - Lara Adrian
- After building up the mystery, suspense and raising the stakes, Darker After Midnight brings two huge changes for the characters created by Lara Adrian and finally gave fan favorite, Sterling "Harvard" Chase his chance in the spotlight. He definitely did not disappoint this long time fan. Chase definitely went through some serious changes from when he was first introduced in Kiss of Crimson (Book #2). Leave it to Chase to find a female that not only challenged him, but provided a brand new mystery for the entire Breed species. Most series' have either ended or lost their steam before book 10, but Lara Adrian keeps it fresh, sexy and interesting.

Eternal Captive (Mark of the Vampire #3) - Laura Wright (Feb 2)
- It wasn't until promotion started for book 4 in this series started that I found the MOV series. Needless to say I quickly devoured the first three books in time for book 4 (Eternal Beast). However, it was the reckless Lucian that stayed in my mind long after I finished the fourth book in the series. He was my favorite kind of vampire. Dangerous, seductive, vulnerable and an outsider in the paranormal realm. His heroine was not what I anticipated either. Bronwyn was intelligent and beautiful but she wasn't obvious in her strength until she felt her back was up against the wall, then she fought with all she had. 

A Week to be Wicked (Spindle Cove #2) - Tessa Dare (March 27)
- I've been a fan of Tessa's for quite some time but it was A Week to be Wicked, the second book in her Spindle Cove series that made me laugh and fall madly in love with both the hero Colin Sandhurst and the heroine Minerva Highwood. I just knew that if a stubborn bluestocking like Minerva was forced to spend time with a selfish, pampered "Gentleman" like Colin, the fur (and clothes) would start to fly. Minerva, although often overlooked because of her keen mind and spectacles, wasn't immune to a little fun and games, often at instigated by Colin. 

Tiger (New Species #7) - Laurann Dohner (April 10)
- Laurann Dohner marked my return to reading erotic romances. While all her New Species books have been a joy to read, Tiger is one of my favorites. Since the moment he appeared, Tiger not only provided some of the funniest moments of the series, but was extremely vocal about never wanting to limit himself to just one female. One by one as his fellow New Species brethren fell in love his protests only got louder and louder which only meant one thing: His female was going to have to be very special to catch his attention and steal his heart. Zandy met that challenge head on and gave the very popular Tiger a run for his money.
Purchase: Kindle l Nook 

Taste - Kate Evangelista (April 30)
- The only YA novel on my list. This story was a delight! An intelligent, stubborn and brave human teen heroine? Gads, I didn't know they existed! This was my first (and probably only) zombie related book. Phoenix is a tough girl, an outsider in some ways, who finds herself attracted to two very handsome, mysterious guys. The characters are well written and at times funny. Taste may be in the YA section at the book store but don't let that stop you adults from reading it! I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did and I look forward to Luca's turn in the spotlight!

More Than a Kiss - Stacey Joy Netzel (May 1)
- My first indie author. I love how Stacey creates a balance of romance and humor in each of her books as well as sexy heroes and stubborn heroines. More Than a Kiss starts off with humor as well as an instant attraction between Sadie and Zach and it continues throughout the entire book. I have had the pleasure of reading more of Stacey's books and I have to say that they too contain laugh out loud moments and sexy moments between her characters. I have to thank Danielle from Book Whore for introducing me to Stacey's books. 
Purchase: Amazon l Kindle l Nook

Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane #4) - Elizabeth Hoyt (June 26)
- A superhero in 1737? Yes please! The way too serious Winter Makepeace needed a heroine to shake up his ordered life. Lady Isabel Beckinhall needs to see that there's more to life than balls, gowns, riches and disappointment. I thought these two were mismatched in every way and wasn't sure if the pairing would work... It did, in an explosive, sexy and romantic way. Easily the best book in the entire Maiden Lane series, this book not only had a virgin hero who moonlighted as a masked savior in the most dangerous part of London, but a gorgeous cover and stepback to match. 

Blaze (Phoenix Rising #2) - Joan Swan (Sept 25)
- New author Joan Swan released her debut (Fever) earlier this year, followed by a turn as an indie author with Intimate Enemies. However it was the second book in her Phoenix Rising series with Luke Ransom that made me one very happy fan. From the moment Luke appeared in Fever, I had it bad for the sexy, tortured hero. It was definitely a love at first sight situation for me. To make things even better, his heroine Keira was a kick ass woman with gifts of her own and a stubborn streak to match Luke's. Blaze will be hard to beat (due in part to the hotness that is Luke). Thank you to my friend Rachel for bringing Joan's books to my attention!

Paradise Hops - Liz Crowe (Oct 15)
- Now this book is a definite tear jerker. Liz Crowe was an author I had never heard of until she participated in a blog hop and I noticed that she wrote "Romance for Real Life." My curious nature lead me to a whole new world of raw, real and emotionally engaging books with unforgettable characters and true to life scenarios. Paradise Hops left me at a loss for words for a few minutes after I finished and then I couldn't get my thoughts out fast enough. Lori, Garret and Eli were all tortured, all flawed and all fighting the extraordinary pull that keeps them in each other's lives. 

Wolfishly Yours (Westfield Spin-Off #2) - Lydia Dare (Nov 6)
- One of the only paranormal regency romance series out there, the two woman team of Tammy Falkner and Jodie Pearson write beautifully interwoven romantic and hilarious stories involving wolves, witches and vampires. Now that his twin Wesley has found his mate, it's Grayson Hadley's turn, only he didn't know it. I have found the Hadley brothers (starting with half brother Dashiel Thorpe from The Taming of the Wolf) to be so entertaining. They're wild, unrefined, rogues who just happen to turn into wolves during the full moon. This time, the heroine wasn't an unsuspecting english gentlewoman, she was the sister of two American wolves. Liviana wasn't easily impressed, all she wanted was to go home to New Orleans and she wasn't going to let a handsome English wolf stand in her way.Wolfishly Yours has so far been one of the best of all the series.

Rogue Rider (Lords of Deliverance #4) - Larissa Ione (Nov 20)
- Who knew pure evil could turn out to be so damn good? My favorite book by Larissa Ione so far, Rogue Rider proved that even the Horseman who almost ended the world deserves a chance at love. Reseph definitely had an uphill battle ahead of him and Jillian was the perfect heroine to help him get past the horror he inflicted on the world and his family as Pestilance. Reseph was a vulnerable hero, he doubted himself and truly hated himself for what he had done. There was humor in this book, even when things were looking grim and the chemistry with Reseph and Jillian was scorching. Reseph was my favorite Horseman and one of my top tortured heroes ever and he really deserved a happy ending. Though with Larissa, there is never such thing as a complete happy ending...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What's to come for 2013

We all have them, they're the reason we have memberships to Barnes & Noble, Amazon and any other place that sells tons of books. They're the reason we gladly go broke every pay day, but most of all, they're the reason we smile, laugh, cry and make friends long after we've finished their books. A great romance author can do many things. They can introduce readers to characters we'd never meet in our everyday lives. They can give us adventure, conflict, passion, romance and joy in less than 400 pages. They are like rock stars to us, we live for any word on their next project, who will be the central character? Who's the villain? Will the mystery from book one finally be solved in book 5?

Whether your tastes run towards contemporary romance, leaps into paranormal, journeys to historical, dips into erotic or, embraces all four, you always have those favorite authors that light up your day when you walk into a book store (or log into one from home) and see that their latest romantic tale if FINALLY out.

We bloggers write reviews, host and participate in romance memes and if we're really lucky, get to interview our favorite authors from time to time but what this particular blogger wants to do every month is talk about WHY I love the authors I do and what their books have meant to me. Each author on my "Must Have" list has a reason for being there aside from their fabulous stories. Some reasons are rooted in my personal life, others for more light hearted and humorous reasons. Whatever the case may be, I hope to dedicate one post a month to each of my favorite authors (and there are quite a few). I encourage you to stop by in January when I will talk about the newest addition to my "Must Have" list, Liz Crowe, which coincidentally coincides with my participation on her Honey Red Blog Tour (January 10th). Should be interesting because she isn't your regular erotic romance author and I have A LOT to say about her writing.

P.S. With each monthly post I will be giving away an e-copy of a book by that author. Just so you know *wink wink*

In the meantime, you can always see what giveaways are currently happening on Breath of Life Reviews in the box on the left marked "Giveaways"

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Author Takeover + Giveaway: Lindsay Avalon's Advice for Aspiring Authors

Please welcome Lindsay Avalon, author of Breaking the Nexus!

Advice for Aspiring Writers by Lindsay Avalon

I’ve done a number of interviews lately as part of my release blog tour and one of the questions that keeps cropping up is “Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?”

Becoming an author is hard work. Not only do you need to come up with the idea, translate it into something relatively coherent and put it onto paper, you need to find a way to keep your readers happy so you can build a brand for yourself. I’ve heard that many authors don’t start carving out a niche for themselves until they’ve released at least three books, but even then there’s no guarantee people will want to read those three books.

I never intended for my debut dark fantasy romance, Breaking the Nexus, to be the first of a trilogy. I knew I was going to write at least five books in my Mythrian Realm series, but I always thought they’d be stand alone books. As I was writing Breaking the Nexus, life reared its head and a change of plans was in order so I decided to split it into two books. Then a few days later, I had the best idea ever for how I wanted the sequel, Waking the Phoenix, to end and bam! The standalone debut had morphed into a trilogy.

Why does that matter? Because the best advice I can give my fellow authors is to be flexible and determined. I’m not kidding when I caution all aspiring authors that this is a tough field to get into. You can’t write a book and hope to achieve the fame and fortune as those New York Times Bestsellers. Write because you love to write and you have a story to tell, not to make money. Be flexible because you never know where your characters and stories will take you. And if you’re serious about wanting to turn this into a career, have ideas for several books going so you can hopefully release often enough so people start to recognize your name. Be careful because although you don’t want to have too much time pass in between releases, you don’t want to rush your work and release sloppy books.

Be prepared to work your rear off, be able to take criticism, and be ready for the disappointment that comes with realizing you aren’t selling thousands of books days after your first release. While this can be a demanding field, the rewards are indescribable. The feeling every time someone tells you how much they love your work makes everything worthwhile.

Thank you for the advice Lindsay! If you haven't already, you can check out my review of Breaking the Nexus in an earlier post

That's not all, ONE lucky winner will get a Kindle copy of Breaking the Nexus for their enjoyment! Just fill out the rafflecopter form at the end of the post for your chance to win.

About Lindsay (in her own words):
I am a wife, a programmer, and now an author. I have an adorable mini Schnauzer and more books than I have room for. I love reading romance because no matter what may be happening in my life, I can always count on my books to end happily ever after. The day I met my husband was the day I truly began believing in happily ever after. After hearing me complain a few too many times that I had “nothing” to read despite the hundreds of paperbacks scattered around the house, my husband began suggesting I write my own stories. 

When I finally took his advice I discovered that although I enjoy my day job as a software engineer, my true calling is to be an author. My sister drilled into me an appreciation for fantasy and mythology, something I try to bring to my books. My debut novel, Breaking the Nexus started as a book written for NaNoWriMo and has grown to so much more. It was the conduit that introduced me to a fantastic group of independent authors who have changed my life in unimaginable ways.  

When I’m not writing, I’ve found a passion for blogging and interviewing fellow authors. I also love reading (of course!), baking, crochet, sewing sock monkeys, playing video games, and all sorts of random crafts. I have an incurable love of rubber duckies and stuffed animals, and I believe nobody should have to grow up if they don’t want.  

Find Lindsay:

Throughout history, myths and legends of extraordinary creatures have been told and retold. Fantastic tales of demons and banshees, gryphons and dragons, and of course, magic. Stories that every child grows to learn are nothing more than fantasy…or are they?

Beyond the world you see lies a hidden realm, the Mythrian Realm, inhabited by all of the creatures you’ve been told are mere fiction. Only one thing lies between humans and the truth: the Nexus. A magical barrier erected millennia ago to separate the two realms, it has stood the test of time. Until now.

For Mythrian Sha Phoenix, magic is nothing new. But when she stumbles upon a portal on the verge of collapse, her fate will forever change. Pulled through the portal into the Human Realm, she lands in the middle of Detective Connor Flynn’s brutal murder scene. Soon it is obvious someone is using blood magic to try to bring down the Nexus. Together, Connor and Sha must work to unravel the secrets before the barrier falls and the realms collide.

The Nexus is breaking and all hell is about to unleash…literally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Breaking the Nexus by Lindsay Avalon

Format: mobi (Provided by author)
Release Date: December 10, 2012

Throughout history, myths and legends of extraordinary creatures have been told and retold. Fantastic tales of demons and banshees, gryphons and dragons, and of course, magic. Stories that every child grows to learn are nothing more than fantasy…or are they?

Beyond the world you see lies a hidden realm, the Mythrian Realm, inhabited by all of the creatures you’ve been told are mere fiction. Only one thing lies between humans and the truth: the Nexus. A magical barrier erected millennia ago to separate the two realms, it has stood the test of time. Until now.

For Mythrian Sha Phoenix, magic is nothing new. But when she stumbles upon a portal on the verge of collapse, her fate will forever change. Pulled through the portal into the Human Realm, she lands in the middle of Detective Connor Flynn’s brutal murder scene. Soon it is obvious someone is using blood magic to try to bring down the Nexus. Together, Connor and Sha must work to unravel the secrets before the barrier falls and the realms collide.

The Nexus is breaking and all hell is about to unleash…literally.

It's been a very long time since I've read a romance where the main characters were literally from two different worlds (The last one being a novella by Nora Roberts called A World Apart). Breaking the Nexus was a fun, fast paced fantasy romance that entertains on several different levels. It is action packed, funny, sexy and best of all, part of a series.

One thing I've found to be common among novels that contain elements of fantasy is the abundance of details. These authors, whether they be a strictly fantasy author or a romance author who sprinkles fantasy into their story, always include such vivid details that readers have no trouble picturing the world the author has created.

This can be a double edged sword though. A book filled with too many descriptive sentences can weigh the entire story down and bore readers to death. Breaking the Nexus thankfully does not overwhelm readers with unnecessary details. There is just enough imagery in this book to enhance a reader's experience but not too much where the book becomes slow and boring.

Author Lindsay Avalon created likable, interesting characters, even if their names are a little unbelievable at first (I still don't know if I'm pronouncing Sha's name right). However Breaking the Nexus IS rooted in a mythical "other world" that is supposed to exist alongside the normal, human realm. Sha Phoenix is a great heroine, she's smart, funny and a fighter. Though she finds herself in a world she's only read about and at a disadvantage, she doesn't let any one, even a certain hunky detective, mistake her for a damsel in distress. She may be in the human realm, but it's Detective Connor Flynn that's out of his element.

Just like Sha, I love the name Connor Flynn, sounds a little like a great kind of Scotch. He's tall, sexy and he carries a gun. Need I say more? He's doesn't deny the intense attraction between him and Sha but he is an honorable man and feels like he should first protect Sha (though she's capable of taking care of herself).

Breaking the Nexus is part of a series, and as such, ends on a cliffhanger. Definitely pick this book up if you're a fan of magic, tough heroines, sexy heroes and romance.


Find Lindsay Avalon:
Online l Twitter l Facebook

Purchase Links:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: A Table for Three by Lainey Reese + Giveaway

Format: epub (Provided by Samhain Publishing)
Release Date: April 20, 2010

She’s taking two bites out of the Big Apple.

Riley Ramirez knew that moving to New York would change her life. She just didn’t expect it to start on her very first night in town. Her attraction to nightclub owner Kincade Marshall is instant, mind-blowing—and mutual. When she finds he is a Dom who requires her complete surrender, even when it comes to submitting to his best friend, Trevor Wellington, she finds herself willing and eager to embrace the sexual adventure.

From their earliest days, Cade and Trevor have shared everything, including women. Yet it only takes one night with Riley to know she is their forever lady. Convincing her that this is more than a temporary fling, though, will take every tool in their sensual arsenal.

As Cade and Trevor set their sights on Riley, however, they’re unaware—until it’s almost too late—that someone is targeting their fragile relationship. Someone who’s taking deadly aim at Riley. Suddenly their struggle to keep their forever woman is a fight to keep her alive…

Warning: This book contains m/f/m ménage, bdsm play, lots of steamy p.d.a, and a fine dining experience that will leave you salivating for more

I'll be honest, I almost gave up on this book 25 pages into it. At first, Cade failed to impress me with his over the top dominant male attitude and Riley came off a little too wide eyed and had a borderline TSTL personality. Thankfully I did stick it out for a little while longer and the characters began to develop quickly. While I probably won't stock up my e-reader with books containing overbearing men, BDSM or ménage à trois, I can see the appeal of a book like A Table for Three.

A Table for Three isn't just a book about two men and a woman getting hot and heavy all the time (though there is plenty of that), there is actually a romance being developed. It just happens to be between three people. Along the way there's an element of danger that only heightens the characters' responses to each other

As the book progresses, Cade, Riley and Trevor begin to bond, forming a unique relationship based on trust, affection and sexual attraction. Cade and Trevor do genuinely care for Riley and would do anything to protect her from the danger she's in, even if it's hard to see through all the displays of dominance. What I found amazing about this relationship was that there was no preference, Riley cared for both men equally, she really did have it all with them. Cade and Trevor, aside from being best friends and sharing everything, functioned at times as a single unit. They knew each other so well that they could communicate with just a look. Their friendship was definitely impressive.

A Table for Three doesn't skimp on the sex, it is an Erotica novel (again if you need clarification please defer to Keta's Keep for the definitions) and each scene is hot, sweaty and intense. Beware the readers who don't like very dominant men in bed and out because Cade and Trevor are double the dominance (though some may say they're bossy) of any men I've ever encountered in a book. What took me awhile to get used to was the bed play between Cade,  Riley and Trevor. It was difficult for me to like any of the characters  when it seemed that Riley was allowing herself to, in my eyes, be used  by Cade and Trevor however they liked. Even reasoning that, her getting hurt  when Trevor bites her too hard was her fault because she "wouldn't obey". That was a little hard to swallow (no pun intended) but I do recognize that that is part of the BDSM experience. However I prefer female characters who can take control of the sexual encounters once in awhile and male characters who enjoy that in a woman.

What I never got used to was Cade and Trevor ordering Riley around outside of bed. Picking her clothes for her, telling her where to live, whether or not she could work, it was like she was a doll for them to play with but didn't want to hear from.

However,  this is just my personal preference, some readers may like their men more dominant. If that's the case, please do pick up A Table for Three and prepare for a wild, sexy ride.

Lainey Reese is an honest writer in that she doesn't try to market A Table for Three as something it isn't. She clearly states on her website the following:
"I write books that have very dominant men  in them.  The men in my book are fierce and controlling in the bedroom  and overbearing and protective out of it.  And the women never have anything to fear  because the men would throw themselves in front of a bus before they'd  let anything hurt their ladies..including themselves."

So readers, there is no way you could accidentally pick up one of Lainey Reese's books thinking it was something else.

While A Table for Three wasn't exactly my kind of book, it is a well paced, well written and prime example of Erotica. Lainey Reese isn't shy about what she writes and is upfront about that, no false advertising here. If you love dominant men, BDSM or ménage stories then be sure to pick up A Table for Three.

Find Lainey Reese:
Online l Twitter l Facebook l GoodReads

Purchase Links:
Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook l Kobo

Still unsure about whether you want to try A Table for Three? How about a free copy? Lainey Reese and Samhain Publishing are graciously offering one copy for a lucky reader. Just fill out the rafflecopter form and you're entered!

About Lainey Reese
Lainey lives in beautiful Washington State.  She's the youngest of five and always wanted to be a writer.  Her first novel -A Table for Three- was nominated for best debut novel of 2010 by The Romance Review and marked a dream come true for Lainey.

With her third published release -Damaged Goods- Lainey saw another of her dreams realized when she took a leap of faith to become a full time author and left the safety net of a day job behind.

Now she spends her days writing with her dog at her feet and a cat curled in her lap and asks herself a dozen times a day; how'd I ever get so lucky?