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.

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Secretly Crushing On #5

Hello Lovelies. Secretly Crushing On  is a weekly feature that is held on Thursdays, hosted by  Wickedly Delicious Book Blog.  This is a blog hop geared towards book lovers preferably ages 18+ with the objective to find and visit other blogs that share the same interest as you... a love for Sexy Reads with a Hot Hero your are Secretly Crushing On. It can be an old book or new read

My Crush: Cameron Mackenzie; The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley (Book 3 in the Highland Pleasures series)

Synopsis: Lord Cameron Mackenzie is intrigued when he finds the pretty widow, Ainsley Douglas, hiding in the window seat of his bedchamber. Cam remembers Ainsley Douglas all right -- six years ago, he'd caught her in this very bedchamber, during a house party in the Mackenzies' Scottish manor. Enchanted by her ingenuous excuses, he decided to seduce her, but stopped shy when she'd made a rather touching appeal about her "good husband who didn't deserve to be heartbroken."

Later, Cameron learned that her visit to his bedchamber was part of some female intrigue against him, the kind his late wife used to practice. Ainsley protested her innocence, but Cameron's anger made him never want to see her again. Now she's back, at another houseparty -- and Cameron finds the gray-eyed minx in his bedchamber, again. Her excuses are just as ingenuous, but this time Cameron is determined to teach her a lesson.

They have unfinished business, Cameron tells her. He asks her how many of her many buttons she'll let him unclasp, promising that before they houseparty is over, she'll be asking him to undo them all.

Ainsley's dismay is real. She's on a mission to prevent embarrassment to Queen Victoria, and time is running out. Though the needs he'd stirred long ago during her unhappy marriage rise again, she knows it would be foolish to fall for love-them-and-leave-them Cameron Mackenzie.

But he asks her a question that challenges her beliefs about love and happiness, and she finds herself risking all to be with the black sheep of the Mackenzie family.

Cameron is not only emotionally wounded but physically as well. He doesn't trust women, and he especially doesn't trust them while he's sleeping. Doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy having them in his bed though. You'd expect that a man who suffered horrible abuse from his wife would be cold and cruel and at times he is, but just lurking beneath the surface is a man who desperately wants to love and trust a woman. He's tender and protective towards Ainsley and thinks about a permanent arrangement with her which seems to shock him at times. His physical scars just add a bit more tragedy to Cameron's story and made me crush on him that much harder.

He moved to let her play, and the plaid inched upward. Cameron's strong thighs came into view, and Ainsley saw with shock that scars marked him from the back of his knees to the curve of his buttocks. They were deep, knotted gashes, old wounds that had long since closed.
But Cameron's not just a wounded man in need of a good woman, he's a tall, sexy Highlander who wears a kilt in the traditional fashion ;) He's also tender with Ainsley, though his reputation claims otherwise:
Tonight he was impatient, clumsy with need. He tuged at the waistband of Ainsley's skirt. "I want this off."
Pins that held skirt to bodice tinkled to the carpet. When Ainsley reached forward to catch them, Cameron unfastened the clasps on the skirt's back. The velvet folds came away, so many yards of them.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley

Lord Cameron Mackenzie is intrigued when he finds the pretty widow, Ainsley Douglas, hiding in the window seat of his bedchamber. Cam remembers Ainsley Douglas all right -- six years ago, he'd caught her in this very bedchamber, during a house party in the Mackenzies' Scottish manor. Enchanted by her ingenuous excuses, he decided to seduce her, but stopped shy when she'd made a rather touching appeal about her "good husband who didn't deserve to be heartbroken."

Later, Cameron learned that her visit to his bedchamber was part of some female intrigue against him, the kind his late wife used to practice. Ainsley protested her innocence, but Cameron's anger made him never want to see her again. Now she's back, at another houseparty -- and Cameron finds the gray-eyed minx in his bedchamber, again. Her excuses are just as ingenuous, but this time Cameron is determined to teach her a lesson.

They have unfinished business, Cameron tells her. He asks her how many of her many buttons she'll let him unclasp, promising that before they houseparty is over, she'll be asking him to undo them all.

Ainsley's dismay is real. She's on a mission to prevent embarrassment to Queen Victoria, and time is running out. Though the needs he'd stirred long ago during her unhappy marriage rise again, she knows it would be foolish to fall for love-them-and-leave-them Cameron Mackenzie.

But he asks her a question that challenges her beliefs about love and happiness, and she finds herself risking all to be with the black sheep of the Mackenzie family.

Okay, this book redeemed the series in my eyes. After reading Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage and being disappointed, I was delighted to read and fall in love with The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, and in particular Cameron Mackenzie. Yum! He is definitely my favorite of the Mackenzie men, he's also the most wounded, both physically and mentally. He appealed to my love of wounded heroes with his unhappy and down right traumatizing first marriage.

Jennifer Ashley did a marvelous job of creating the image of a strong, handsome, virtually indestructible and seemingly cold hero and then revealing his heartbreaking vulnerability and hidden desire to love and be loved. When the shocking details of his disastrous first marriage are revealed throughout the book, it's enough to make you cringe and wonder how any woman could have done such things to a man like Cameron, and in turn, how and why a strong man like Cameron would have allowed it.

Then there's Ainsley Douglas, who didn't have as miserable marriage as Cameron, but she wasn't happy either. Her husband wasn't a bad man, in fact he was the opposite, he married Ainsley to help her. She's your typical strong heroine, but that just makes her perfect for Cameron. She's understanding, patient and gentle enough to know when to hold and comfort Cameron but still strong enough to give him a good swift kick in the rear when he's crossing that line from wounded hero to cold hearted jerk.

What I liked about this story is that there is no villain lurking in the corners trying to separate Cameron and Ainsley, though it appears that way in the beginning. They're their own obstacles/antagonists in this story, which kicks up the angst level a bit but also makes that moment where they realize they're in love all the more sweeter.


Buy The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley

Find Jennifer Ashley on:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #38

"Wishlist Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Pen to Paper that spotlights those upcoming releases that we're dying to get our hands on.

I had a REALLY hard time choosing just one book this week because there are at least three at the very top of my list.

This week's Wishlist Wednesday selection is: A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare.

After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove--but she never stopped yearning for love. The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne. The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome. But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiance. He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate’s happiness. He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him. To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life...and the first he seems destined to lose.

Ever since I read the first book in Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series, I've been curious about Kate. She's more mysterious than the other two heroines from the previous books, and who can resist a tall, handsome, brooding militia commander with a secret like Samuel Thorne? Plus, just look at the cover! It's steamy, passionate and it's my favorite color!

A Lady by Midnight will be released August 28, 2012 (That sound you hear is my body hitting the ground in a dead faint over the wait).

Pre-Order: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

Monday, May 28, 2012

Author! Author! Interview with Lorhainne Eckhart + Giveaway

I'm really excited because today I have Lorhainne Eckhart answering a few questions about her latest release, The Forgotten Child and about writing in general. Plus, she's offering an ebook copy of The Forgotten Child to one lucky reader!

 From Smashswords:
Lorhainne Eckhart began her writing career in 2008, when she published her first novel, The Captain’s Lady, a Contemporary Military Romance through The Wild Rose Press. You can find Lorhainne most days on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, contributing posts to her two blogs The Choice of Giving and Illusions while actively promoting her books, The Forgotten Child, The Captain’s Lady, her supernatural romantic suspense series, The Choice, and a children’s illustrated adventure, A Father’s Love.

Lorhainne Eckhart is a member of the RWA, Sisters in Crime and Victoria RWA. She lives on a small Island in the Northern Gulf. And somewhere in her busy schedule she finds time to write and be a full-time Mom to her three children. She is the mother of a special needs child, her greatest gift having to learn organization and how to stay focused on what’s really important in life. She lives by simple rules the same she teaches her children, stay honest, keep your word always, never take advantage of anyone and treat everyone with respect. She’s an advocate for children with special needs. Passionate about preserving our environment and much of what Lorhainne advocates finds a way into each of her stories.
As you can see, Lorhainne not only writes touching romance stories with meaning but she is also one busy lady in her everyday life. So again I am happy that she was able to make some time to answer a few questions!

Adria: What inspired you to write "The Forgotten Child?"

Lorhainne: As with all my novels, the story for “The Forgotten Child”started as an idea. The Forgotten Child is not based on anyone I know. I am involved deeply with the special needs community so I see the effects Autism, FAS and other Special Needs on families, and relationships in particular. It takes a strong individual to advocate, care for and seek help for their child. So the very idea of a situation like Brad and Emily’s could be real, but isn’t based on anyone or situation I know.

Adria: Are any of the incidents in the book based on you or someone you know?

Lorhainne: No incidents in this novel are based on anyone I know. The characters are fictitious and so are the incidents.

What challenges, if any, did you face while bringing "The Forgotten Child" to life?
Lorhainne: When I sat down to write The Forgotten Child, the story unfolded as I wrote. I didn’t face any challenges, although with Brad my editor had me go back and revamp his character adding more depth, inner conflict--essentiallycreating Brad in an image of a difficult man with unlikeable qualities. Similar to Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

Adria: If you had to do it over again, are there any changes you would make in the book?

Lorhainne: Absolutely not. I won’t put my final novel to the publishing stage until I am completely satisfied.

What authors/books have influenced your writing?
Lorhainne: Stephen King wrote a  book “On Writing” which I highly recommend every author to read. And I have to say Debbie Macomber, an outstanding Author, and how she got her start in the industry.

What was the last book you read and loved?
Lorhainne: I’ve read a lot of great books, but only a few stick with me. “Ride the Wind” by Lucia St. Clair Robson was a book I read several times and a story that still touches me today.

Who would be your "Dream Cast" if The Forgotten Child was being made into a movie?
Lorhainne: That’s a hard one. As I envision my characters as individuals that resemble no one.  But here’s a close idea of an ideal cast.

Emily – Natalie Portman
Brad – Hugh Jackman or Christian Bale
Crystal – Naomi Watts

What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Lorhainne: If you want to write, you have to read. Stephen King said this, and he’s right. As well don’t let anyone stop you. If you believe in your novel then you will succeed. But write it first then go back and edit. Hire a professional editor after you’ve worked your novel to the best it can be. And find an editor who fits with you and your writing. There are lots available. Make sure you follow your editor’s advice, and grow a thicker skin if critiquing upsets you. You need to learn to step away from your baby you’ve created and look objectively at it from the outside advice you receive. If your editor tells you its “crap” and you need to cut a scene or rewrite something to make it stronger, listen.  But remember even though you write an outstanding novel, some won’t like it. And that’s okay. Not everyone is your target market.

What do you do when you're not writing heart-wrenching, romantic stories like "The Forgotten Child?"
Lorhainne: My day is so jammed pack with things to do that I’ve had to become highly structured in order to write. When I’m not writing I’m promoting my novels on all social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Triberr, writing posts to my two blogs, Illusions and The Choice of Giving. And on top of that I’m a full time mother who advocates for the environment, and special needs community.

What are you working on now?
Lorhainne: Lost and Found, Book 2, of the Walk the Right Road Series is currently with my editor and will be released soon. As well I’ve started writing a Native American romantic suspense. Suspicious incidents surrounding a medicine wheel.

Adria: Is there anything else you'd like to tell readers?

Lorhainne: I would like to thank my readers, because they are responsible for the success of “The Forgotten Child”, now an Amazon Bestselling Western Romance. I’ve reached a milestone in my career, in April The Forgotten Child held the #1 spot for Western Romance for several weeks. And since has remained in the top 10.

Thank you Lorhainne for allowing me the chance to read and review your book as well as interview you!

One lucky follower will be getting a digital copy of The Forgotten Child! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Open Internationally.

He wasn't looking to love again. But what he got was a woman who shook his lonely bitter world upside down, and touched him in a way no other woman could.

Emily Nelson, a courageous young mother, ends a loveless bitter marriage and strikes out on her own. She answers an ad as a cook and live in caregiver to a three-year-old boy on a local ranch. Ranch owner Brad Friessen hires and moves in Emily and her daughter. But Emily soon discovers something's seriously wrong with his boy. And the reclusive difficult man that hired her, can't see the behavior and how delayed his son is. So Emily researches, until she stumbles across what she suspects is the soft signs of autism. Now she must tell him. Give him hope, and help him come to terms with this neurological disorder--to take the necessary steps to get his child the help he needs.

As their lives become intertwined, it's unavoidable the attraction--the connection that sparks between them. And just as they're getting close, Brad's estranged wife Crystal returns after abandoning them two years earlier. In amongst the shock and confusion there's one disturbing fact Brad can't shake. How does she know so much of his personal business, the inner working of the ranch and Emily's relationship with his son?

Crystal must've had a plan as she somehow gains the upper hand, driving a wedge in the emotional bond forged between Brad, Emily and the children. The primary focus for care and therapy of three-year-old Trevor is diverted. The lengths Crystal will go--the lies--the greed, just to keep what's hers are nothing short of cold and calculating. Emily's forced out of the house. Brad fights to save his boy--to protect what's his. And struggles over his greatest sacrifice--Emily, and the haunting question--has he ultimately lost her forever?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley

Six years ago, eighteen-year-old Lady Isabella Scranton scandalized all of London by eloping the night of her come-out ball with the notorious rake, Lord Mac Mackenzie. After three turbulent years of marriage, she scandalized London once again--this time by leaving him.

Now the reformed Mac has returned, and he wants one thing: Isabella back in his life, his house, his bed. He'll do anything he has to, play any game, as long as he gets her back. Isabella resists, but when she agrees to pose for erotic paintings he's been working on, she realizes her body has never stopped craving her husband’s very skilled touch. Mac is determined to show Isabella that he's a changed man, but three years without her has only increased his hunger for her.

When an ingenious forger with designs on Mac's paintings, and Isabella herself, comes dangerously near, Mac sets himself up as Isabella's protector and vows to never leave her side, whether his independent and proud lady likes it or not.

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage was a bit disappointing for me. Not that it wasn't a good book because it was, but I did find that the conflict between Mac and Isabella dragged on for what seemed like an eternity. There was so much going on in their lives that it seemed like the mending of their relationship took a back seat and that's what made it seem like the overall problem would never be resolved. There were too many outside interferences (doppelgangers, reunions between siblings, a death in the family, the mending of other relationships) that didn't exactly allow for Mac and Isabella to talk and work out what went wrong between them all those years ago.

Isabella was definitely not the heroine I thought she'd be from the glimpses of her I got in The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. I thought she'd be a vulnerable and hurting woman who is still deeply in love with her husband, which she is but she seemed to care more about her "image" at time than what was going on in her life. At times she seemed vapid and shallow, though she redeemed herself a bit at the end.

I did like the mystery surrounding Mac's "twin," wondering, along with the characters, what DID he want to gain by impersonating one of the infamous Mackenzies? Isabella's servants were delightful as well, most of them having been Mac's originally, had happily abandoned him and gone with Isabella when she walked out on Mac years earlier. Their staunch loyalty to Isabella is clear in their cool responses to Mac and well he knows it and he lets the servants KNOW that he knows who is their favorite:

"This is why I say you stole my best servants," Mac said. "Mortan is a god among butlers."
"I endeavor to give satisfaction, my lord," Morton said coolly.
"I know you do, Morton, but I'm aware that you would throw me over in a heartbeat if you had to choose between myself and my wife."

Mac's laid back personality could in part, be why he lost his wife in the first place but it's also part of why he got her back. He's not one of those overly jealous and unreasonable heroes who drives the

Overall it was an okay book. I couldn't fully connect with Mac or Isabella but I did like their story and will continue on with The Many Sins of Lord Cameron.


Buy Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Discussion Post: Military Romance

Since this weekend is Memorial Day weekend here in the United States, I thought we'd talk about military romance novels. What are your favorite military romances? What is it that you like about them? What is it about a man (or woman) in uniform that sets the imagination going? Why do they make such dang good heroes (and heroines)? And best of all, what is YOUR favorite branch of the military? Navy? Army? Air Force?

You don't have to be in the United States to join in, Memorial Day might be an American holiday but the love and respect I have for service men and women extends to all countries in the world!

Now I've yet to read a military romance because I don't read all that much contemporary romance to begin with so I'm up for your suggestions on the subject. That said, I can only give my opinion on my military men in particular make women swoon.

It's the idea of a strong man that's willing to die in order to protect his home and the millions of people he will never meet face to face. It's the idea of honor, integrity and strength that goes with the uniform. Think about it, how many times, whether military men are your thing or not, do you stop and take a second look at soldiers in their uniforms? An officer in his dress uniform? They cut a fine figure, dressed like that and they stand out amongst the Sloppy Joes and Ordinary Dans.

I'm not one to fantasize about military men but I'm not a fool, I do notice them, and I do admit that they look great in dress uniform, no matter what branch they serve.

So break out those military romance novels and give them a second, third or hundredth read this weekend, but most of all, please keep the brave men and women of the military and their families in your thoughts and prayers. They put their lives on the line every day to ensure that you and I can live in peace and many of them have made the ultimate sacrifice as have their families.

If you can, thank a service man or woman, buy them dinner, a movie ticket, anything to let them know that they are honored, respected and appreciated.

Happy Memorial Day everyone.

- Adria

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: The Forgotten Child by Lorhainne Eckhart

He wasn’t looking to love again. But what he got was a woman who shook his lonely bitter world upside down, and touched him in a way no other woman could.

Emily Nelson, a courageous young mother, ends a loveless bitter marriage and strikes out on her own. She answers an ad as a cook and live in caregiver to a three-year-old boy on a local ranch. Ranch owner Brad Friessen hires and moves in Emily and her daughter. But Emily soon discovers something’s seriously wrong with his boy. And the reclusive difficult man that hired her, can’t see the behavior and how delayed his son is. So Emily researches, until she stumbles across what she suspects is the soft signs of autism. Now she must tell him. Give him hope, and help him come to terms with this neurological disorder—to take the necessary steps to get his child the help he needs.

As their lives become intertwined, it’s unavoidable the attraction—the connection that sparks between them. And just as they’re getting close, Brad's estranged wife Crystal returns after abandoning them two years earlier. In amongst the shock and confusion there’s one disturbing fact Brad can’t shake. How does she know so much of his personal business, the inner working of the ranch and Emily's relationship with his son?

Crystal must’ve had a plan as she somehow gains the upper hand, driving a wedge in the emotional bond forged between Brad, Emily and the children. The primary focus for care and therapy of three-year-old Trevor is diverted. The lengths Crystal will go—the lies—the greed, just to keep what’s hers are nothing short of cold and calculating. Emily’s forced out of the house. Brad fights to save his boy—to protect what’s his. And struggles over his greatest sacrifice—Emily, and the haunting question—has he ultimately lost her forever?

There is no slow beginning to The Forgotten Child, no "happy opening scene" in which the characters are blissfully unaware that their lives are about to come crashing down. No, this book begins right as a marriage is ending.

Emily Nelson is a brave, intelligent and loving human being who is entering a difficult phase in her life. She's just ended her marriage and now has to find a job in order to support herself and her daughter Katy.

Like all women who find themselves suddenly single with no job and young child to raise, Emily has moments of bone deep fear that she'll fail and her child will pay the price. She's such a well written character, and so real because let's face it, Emily represents every single mother in the world and every single mother in the world has a bit of Emily inside her.

That's what makes Emily such a strong and realistic character that I empathized with. Never having been a single mother, I was and still am the child of one and I was reminded of my own mother and her fears and anxiety when she too, left a bad marriage.

The Forgotten Child is so well written and so realistic that I felt like I was watching a very accurate, heart breaking documentary on divorce, autism and the hardships people face with both.

But let's not forget the romance! The light at the end of the tunnel! From the moment Emily and Brad meet there's sparks, even though Emily is a total klutz (come on, if your fantasy man opened the door you were knocking on, you'd be too).

What I loved about the romance between these two is that, as much as they wanted each other, they always put their kids first. I know, in the real world that's not always true but in this book it was and that was really great to read. As if trying to make a budding relationship work amid the chaos of single parenting wasn't enough, Brad's sneaky, manipulative ex, Crystal shows up and has Emily fired. From there both Brad and Emily need to work on what they want individually and together in order to have a chance of having a happy life together with their children.

As dramatic as it sounds, Lorhainne Eckhart did a fabulous job at making this plot work. Crystal is one of those characters that you love to hate. She's just so sneaky and has a round about way of making trouble that's so hard to prove, but you know what everyone says, the hero is only as good as the villain is bad. It's easy to love the heroes of a story, with their good intentions and poor executions, but it's a great writer who can take readers to the edge and back with a villain and that's what Lorhainne does with Crystal. Crystal, catty and sneaky woman she is, made me so mad at times! It's like watching a movie where you know what's going to happen and you're shouting at the hero "No! Don't do that, it's what she wants! You're playing into her plan you idiot!!" Never fear, the conflict doesn't drag on or get ridiculous at any time. It's done in a timely manner.

However, what I found really important about The Forgotten Child was none of the above, it was the attention Lorhainne Eckhart brought to autism. I've read only one other romance novel where I suspected the hero had autism (The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley) but this was different. There was more focus on Brad's son Trevor and how his condition affected everyone involved. This was a young child who's condition went unacknowledged until Emily walked into his life. Lorhainne Eckhart gave detailed accounts of Trevor's outbursts and wrote them in such a way as to make me feel the same frustration and confusion that Emily did. It is only a small glimpse into the world of an autistic child and those who live, work, take care of and love them.

Even though more and more children are being diagnosed with autism, it is still a mystery to many people, myself included. If you have never met a child with autism then it can be a very unnerving experience, but remember to be patient and as understanding as possible.

I didn't expect I'd fall for the four main characters as hard as I did, but The Forgotten Child is an amazing book, not just for a romance fan like myself, but for single parents who may or may not have a child with autism. It left me with a smile on my face but a small ache in my heart for all the Emily's and Brad's out there who don't always find each other. Overall a very sweet story that I could easily see as a movie one day.


 Buy The Forgotten Child by Lorhainne Eckhart
Amazon l Kindle l Barnes & Noble l Nook l Smashwords

Visit Lorhainne's Website

Connect with Lorhainne via:
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Thank you to Lorhainne Eckhart for giving me the chance to read and review The Forgotten Child.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Author! Author! Interview with: Larissa Hinton

Hi everyone and thank you for taking the time to check out Breath of Life Reviews. I'd like to welcome you to my very first author interview! Please welcome Larissa Hinton! 
About Larissa: 
The young adult fantasy and paranormal romance author, Larissa Hinton, grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia and Chesapeake, Virginia. She now lives in northern Virginia, but she always looks forward to going back to the sweet smell of the salty ocean.

Larissa has always loved writing since the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. After many years of writing whimsical tales of romance and fantasy, she is now proud to be a self-published author. When she's not writing, she's teaching English at a local middle school.

When seen out of the classroom, Larissa is shopping for the next great Wii game, searching for undiscovered treasure (a.k.a. sparkly jewelry) and plucking some fresh fruits (or vegetables, dependent on the year) out of her small garden.

Larissa Hinton is currently author of Everblossom: A Short Story and poetry Anthology. However, be on the lookout for Angel Diaries (a paranormal romance) and Everblossom 2: A Second Anthology of Short Stories and Poems!
If you want to know more about this author and her sarcasm, then check out her blog (http:/teacherwritebookaholicohmy.blogspot.com/) and click on FAQs.
Larissa was kind enough to offer an interview so that you all might get the chance to know her a little bit. Read on and enjoy!

Adria: I love writing myself though I tend to jump from story idea to story idea and thus have never finished a story, short or long. How hard is it, if at all, to stay focused enough on a story to complete it?

Larissa: Very difficult. I tend to jump around as well. The key I think is to stay focused for one day and to take it one day at a time. Today, for instance, I strictly focused on my next collection of short stories and poetry, Everblossom 2. However, yesterday I focused on editing my next YA novel, Angel Diaries.

Adria: Have you ever received a piece of advice about your writing/ideas that you ignored and it turned out for the best?

Larissa: The one piece of advice I am very happy I ignored was actually given to me by an editor. He suggested that my book, Angel Diaries, was purely a young adult romance novel and suggested that I took out all of the paranormal elements and stick with the romance line part of the story which blew my mind.
A lot of the readers who fell in love (and became addicted) to Angel Diaries said just the opposite. They loved the paranormal elements, but the romance needed a lot of work.

So at the time, I decided to a really harsh look at my book and figured it out: The paranormal parts happened WAY too late in the novel (which explained why the editor might think the romance is the main part of the book since that happened first). So I bumped up the paranormal elements with a hint of foreshadowing then delved into the romance part more. If people didn't like Phillip, didn't believe that he was, at heart, a good guy, then the whole story falls apart. Therefore, I needed to delve deeper into who Phillip was and make sure that Phillip and Lindsey's relationship was more then just a hate love relationship.

Anyway, long story short, I flipped the comment on its head: Why would the editor think the romance part is the main part of the story? Once I figured out the problem, I knew which direction I needed to go. In the end, my book is stronger and better then ever.

Adria: Do you carry around a recorder or pen and paper with you in case an idea pops up in your mind and you're not at home?

Larissa: Absolutely! I hate having an idea pop in my head and not have something to write with so I carry as much paper and pens (which I have in my bedroom as well, just in case) as I need. Plus some.

Adria: In your opinion, what's the most important thing a writer needs to succeed?
Larissa: A hunger for understanding. I really think that when a writer becomes hungry to understand society around us they can really write a beautiful story with a depth that sweeps a reader away. And when the writer writes a deep story with heart and soul, it has the potential to become successful and henceforth, can lead a writer to the golden gates of success. 

Adria: Would you consider writing in another genre such as Contemporary, Mystery or Women's Fiction?
Larissa: I actually already have (actually each of the genre you've mentioned). It's one of the many books that are on my flash drive that I plan to self-publish eventually. 

Adria: Favorite romance authors/books?
Larissa: Top three: Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn, and Jude Devereaux

Adria: What would people be surprised to find on your bookshelf?
Larissa: A grand mixture of boy mayhem and tom-boy foolery which equals poetry by Shel Silverstein, Time Warp Trio Series, and The Knife of Never Letting Go Series.

Adria: Do you have a writing music playlist?
Larissa: I literally can't focus when music plays so I don't have a playlist. The closest I've come is playing movies that I've seen a million times so I don't pay attention to (like The Mummy, Zorro and High School Musical). However, I haven't listened to movies while writing for a long time.

Adria: Because you're an English teacher, particularly a middle school English teacher, how important is it to you to encourage young minds to be creative?

Larissa: It is very important to me. Most writers discover in middle school that they want to be writers. I know that I discovered I wanted to be a writer in middle school in 7th grade. Therefore, I view it not only as my job but as my duty and an honor to encourage my students to write creatively and to think creatively. 
Thank you Larissa! I appreciate you giving me the chance to interview you! Everyone, be sure to check out Larissa Hinton's Everblossom and be on the look out for Angel Diaries soon!
Here is a bit more info on Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology provided by Larissa herself!
An anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary.

Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but dig a little deeper and the world not only shifts . . . It changes.

The author who brought you Iwishacana/Acanawishi, now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to romance. So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed; you'll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means.

And a rough blurb of Larissa's next book, Angel Diaries:
Lindsey's life couldn't have been any more ordinary. So, she had two guys fighting over her, a psychic friend and a school dominated by Goths but, other than that, life was good. 
That is until horrible nightmare start about her mother being ripped apart by a monster changed her life from the inside out. Literally. Her whole world was full of lies. 
She's not even human. She's an Angel.
 Purchase Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology by Larissa Hinton

Find Larissa Hinton on:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: The Start of Something Good by Gracie Lee Rose

Jamie Sutherland, coffee shop owner and serial ruined-relationship survivor, moves into a beautiful loft apartment for a change of scenery. What she doesn’t plan on getting is an eye-full of her handsome next-door neighbor—in nothing but a towel—arguing with his significant other in the hallway.

Joseph Scarbrough's world crashes down on him one cruel morning when his childhood sweetheart rips his heart out of his chest and walks away. His humiliation isn't complete until he turns around to pick up the pieces and sees a beautiful brunette who just witnessed his Dear John moment.

Caught in an awkward situation, the two backpedal into their separate worlds. But fate seems determined to make their worlds collide on a regular basis. Is it destiny just being clumsy when it comes to the two unlikely neighbors or is it the start of something good?

What a special story! I really enjoyed this one and even had my mother read it (which she loved)! The Start of Something Good was nothing like I expected it to be. Here I had made assumptions about this story and not a single one of them was even close. This story left me with a warm feeling on the inside and a smile on the outside. Gracie Lee Rose (aka Renee Vincent, the award winning author of adult romance novels) created two lovely characters that were easy to relate to and like. There's not a woman alive that wouldn't be able to relate to Jaimie and her disillusion with men, nor can you NOT fall just a little (or a lot in my case) for Joseph. As I said two easy to relate to and very likable characters.

Jaimie has resigned herself to being alone, as her previous relationships have failed so she isn't prepared to meet Joseph her neighbor while he's in nothing but a towel and getting the "Dear John" treatment from a childhood sweetheart. The Start of Something Good is what all relationships should be, taken slow and uncomplicated

This story is sweet and slow burning, there are no jealously plots or temper tantrums. It's just a wonderful story about the start and beginning stages of a relationship between two awkward, lonely and misunderstood characters. By the end of this story, I was wishing and hoping that maybe one day I would meet a man like Joseph.

If you're looking for something romantic that you can read with your mother, grandmother or if you're a mom, you can read with your daughter, then The Start of Something Good is for you. It makes an excellent gift as well! I am definitely adding the sequels to my "To Read" list.


Buy The Start of Something Good by Gracie Lee Rose

Thank you to Gracie Lee Rose who gave me the chance to read and review The Start of Something Good. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review: The Firelight of Maalda by Melissa Douthit

The Firelight of Maalda: A story that unites the real with the fantastical and turns science into magic …

Chalice and her group leave Barenthren to travel to Portalis. There she and her friends discover the beautiful city, its people, its history, and its secret that has been kept hidden for thousands of years. During their stay, they learn that Dar’Maalda has the Firestone and that he plans to use it.

What is the Firestone and what does Dar’Maalda plan to do with it? What are the Naezzi? What does the title, The Firelight of Maalda, really mean? And … what is the secret of Portalis, the secret that has been guarded so jealously for so long – so jealously, that many have given their lives to protect it?

In The Firelight of Maalda, the second novel of the trilogy, The Legend of the Raie’Chaelia, you find out. It is a tale of intrigue and wonder where two opposite worlds collide in an explosive journey that leads Chalice and her friends to the dark islands lurking just beyond the horizon of Ielieria, where the Firelight of Maalda sits … and waits.

The Firelight of Maalda takes off where The Raie'Chaelia leaves off and it keeps going at a brisk pace that is slow enough to keep the reader interested but not too fast as to lose the reader completely. I enjoyed this book even more than its predecessor, presumably because a majority of the back stories of characters and places involved have already been discussed so there is no need to re-hash anything. Chalice is maturing in leaps and bounds as she proceeds to unfold parts of her past, even as malevolent forces seek to stop her.

As with the first book, I found myself easily visualizing the scenes in this book. Melissa Douthit continued to create such vivid images of people and places, keeping the magic from The Raie'Chaelia present in The Firelight of Maalda.

The relationship between Jeremiah and Chalice has grown deeper, though thankfully it doesn't eclipse the real story, the Chalice's quest for knowledge and the return to her rightful place as ruler. Even though The Firelight of Maalda has a darker tone than its predecessor, there's still humor to be found. Chalice's sarcastic with and dry humor makes for some interesting dialogue at times, making her one of my favorite characters in the series.

Douthit has created an almost perfect heroine in Chalice, brave, smart, resourceful, kind but also stubborn, impulsive, and she's afraid. She's not cocky about being special amongst her rag tag group, she knows inside that it means she will, if not already, have the weight of the world on her shoulders IF she succeeds in finding out all there is to know. Through it all, she has the ever present Jeremiah by her side. He doesn't fill the empty spaces with inane chatter, he's the strong and silent type, perfect for Chalice.

Though aimed at the young adult audience, The Firelight of Maalda is written in such a way that adults such as myself can enjoy it as well. If you're looking for an adventure without the romantic entanglements of adult romance novels, then I highly suggest this book. However, be sure to read the first book in the series beforehand so that you'll be able to breeze through The Firelight of Maalda with no problem.


Buy The Firelight of Maalda by Melissa Douthit

Get The Raie'Chaelia by Melissa Douthit FREE

Thank you to Melissa Douthit for giving me the opportunity to read and review both The Raie'Chaelia and The Firelight of Maalda. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: Fever by Joan Swan

Dr. Alyssa Foster will admit to a bad boy fetish…

But when she finds herself face to face with a convicted murderer with a ripped body, a determination for freedom and an eye on her as his get out of jail free card, Alyssa knows she’s in deep trouble…. Not just because Teague Creek is a prisoner desperate for freedom, but because his every touch makes her desperate for more.

A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose…

Teague Creek has one shot at freedom, but his plan to escape with a hostage develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives who know of his strange abilities, he needs to avoid trouble, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever.

From the moment it begins to its blazing conclusion, Fever by Joan Swan is intense, steamy and overall very satisfying.

If only movies were this good, I'd be in heaven.

Don't get put off by the outward appearance of the book itself, Fever is not like other romance, at least, not the ones I've been reading. The twists and turns of this book kept me guessing until the very end! The action, danger and mystery perfectly balanced out the sexual tension between Teague and Alyssa so that Fever didn't feel like I was reading a woman's sexual fantasy about getting it on with an escaped convict. Joan Swan gave backgrounds to these two characters, lives, loved ones they both wanted to get back to desperately. That desperation eventually drives them together and it's the intense attraction to one another that binds them.

As the hero, Teague is different. Sure he's got the classic good looks with a body to die for but on the inside, he's more human than any other male character I've ever met. He's not cocky, vain or arrogant. He's desperate, lonely and afraid. He doesn't want to go back to prison of course, but he has a more important reason to keep out of the reach of the police and other, more dangerous people. However, as desperate as he is for his freedom, Teague still doesn't have it in him to be the hardened criminal everyone thinks he is. Every step of the way he protects Alyssa, whom he mistakes for someone else, from his fellow escaped convict (and racist, so be warned there are racial slurs but they didn't bother me as it's just a story and stories need realism), Taz.

Alyssa is no shrinking violet, even though she finds herself hostage to two escaped convicts, she's not going down without a fight. Sure, occasionally she does or says stupid things that could have had grave consequences but with the mentality of "I'm going to die anyway" it's understandable. She's smart, quick witted and tough. I thought for sure she's going to start wailing at any moment and get on my nerves, but no, she kept herself in tact, knowing that tears and showing fear would make things worse for her. Alyssa is tenacious. Once she begins to doubt Teague's reason for being in prison, she doesn't let up until she discovers over looked facts in his case. She believes in him, even when he doesn't. She's not afraid to go toe to toe with Teague, or any one else for that matter and that's what made me like her even more.

As with all books in a series, you get to meet characters that will eventually (I'm assuming) take the lead in their own books. These secondary characters were well thought of and given just enough "Page Time" to pique your interest but not too much as to take your attention away from the real stars of the story.

I completely loved this book, more than I thought. It went up to my expectations and blew them into the next country. Being more of a fan of action movies than rom-coms, this book appealed to me on so many levels yet still maintained the criteria of a romance novel. Fever kept me up until the wee hours of the morning, I just couldn't put it down. It was sexy, fast paced and filled with action, suspense and mystery. Once I was finished reading it, I went to sleep with a smile on my face. I can't wait for the next book in the series because I have officially added Joan Swan and The Phoenix Rising series to my "Favorite Authors" and "Must Have" lists.


Buy Fever by Joan Swan

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How a Romance Series Helped Me Through a Tough Time

Usually I'm really silly about romance novels, I love reading them for the sheer joy of the stories and the happy ending I know will happen, unlike in real life. I started this blog because I love talking about, reviewing and overall reading romance novels, I am a fan girl and proud of it.

But two years ago, that wasn't the case. I was going through a very rough time in my life, my mother was finally able to get a divorce from her abusive husband (and unfortunately the other contributor to my genetic makeup) after years of sacrifice to make sure she never had to send me or my sister to visit him alone when we were younger. This, while good news for her and me, left us with nowhere to go and surrounded by people who didn't and still don't believe how bad it was for us.

We were finally taken in by a relative, not knowing that we'd be in a similar hell in that "house." As things got worse, I retreated into myself, unwilling to do anything but exist. One day at the supermarket, I saw a very pretty cover of a romance novel. It had been about a year since I last read anything for fun, let alone a romance novel. At my mom's insistence, I purchased the book.

It was My Wicked Marquess by Gaelen Foley.

That book, and those that followed helped me through the hell that was living in a relative's "house" where my mother and I were at the mercy of a person who delighted in shutting off the electricity on us and not coming back to the house to turn on the air conditioning until late at night (the house was divided in two with the controls on this relative's side).

I began reading My Wicked Marquess without any real interest, but soon enough, I found myself devouring every word and wanting more. It was so well written and engaging that for a time each day, I could escape my world and experience the one that Gaelen Foley created. I smiled, I laughed and then I cried when I finished the book because I had nothing else to turn to. Looking up the title on the internet, I saw that it was the first book in a series and that there were two other books that had since been released.

Soon I found myself in a book store, which I hadn't done in months, scouring the shelves for the second book in the series, My Dangerous Duke. It was what kept me sane during that time. Those books kept me from drowning in what seemed like an inescapable situation.

I began to look forward to things, finding quiet joy in reading again and eagerly awaiting the next book in The Inferno Club series, My Irresistible Earl. Each book brought me joy and escape in the form of action, adventure, romance and the eventual happy ending.

I have since left that horrid house and while my mother and I are still dependent on others for shelter, I have held on to my love of good romance novels and it continues to help me through the tough days that continue to plague me.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to tell Gaelen in a comment that her books helped me through a tough time, though I didn't go into detail like I did here (It's also where I got to discover author Alexandra Hawkins, who is fabulous by the way).

I love romance novels, they give me what an escape, they make me laugh, cry and smile and while I have a slew of favorite books, I will always have a soft spot for Gaelen Foley's books, in particular The Inferno Club series.

Buy Gaelen Foley's Inferno Club series

Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

It was whispered all through London Society that Ian Mackenzie was mad, that he'd spent his youth in an asylum, and was not to be trusted-especially with a lady.

Yet Beth found herself inexorably drawn to the Scottish lord. Despite his decadence and his intimidating intelligence, she could see that he needed help- her help.

Because suddenly the only thing that made sense to her was...

The madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.

I am a sucker for historical romance with a dash of suspense, secrets and danger and this book delivers on all accounts. The history of the Mackenzie family is told in bits and pieces throughout the book but is never fully revealed, much to my dismay, but I am guessing that was the author's plan to keep the reader interested in the next few books. It worked. I became so fascinated with each bit of information that was revealed about this family that I ALMOST forgot that the book was supposed to be about Ian and Beth. The others' stories would come later. So I had to refocus.
Ian Mackenzie is one of the most interesting male characters I've met in a long time and that is why, as a reader, I dove into The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie with absolute certainty that Ian was NOT mad, that it was a total misunderstanding that might have come from a peculiar hobby he might have. You know, something cliche like that. Well about halfway through the book I started doubting his sanity myself. I had to admit, he had moments where it seemed like he didn't have all his marbles. It was difficult to understand what was happening with Ian, and by the end of the book I was convinced he had some kind of disorder but the book never reveals what, if anything, it is that ails Ian, aside from the trauma he endured while looked in an asylum (one of the reasons is quite shocking and heartbreaking). I have a good idea what it is though.

The dynamic between the Mackenzie brothers is intense most of the times, as if they guard a secret that binds them more than their familial connection. They love each other of course, and it definitely shows when it comes to Ian and his welfare, if not necessarily his happiness, but they don't fully trust each other and that really got me curious as to what made this family of men tick. Sure, there's Mac's wife Isabella who is considered a part of the family even though she and Mac have split up, but she doesn't spend a whole lot of time around them.

At times The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie confused me, well, Ian confused me at times, he was difficult to get a grasp on and even at the end of the book I still wasn't sure about who he was as a man or what really went on in his mind.

Beth Ackerley is a great combination of strength and nurturing to combat Ian's often erratic and unpredictable behavior. She's gentle and sympathetic but she won't allow anyone to control her life.

A pleasant and engaging read with enough romance, action and mystery to keep me entertained all the way to the end and enticing enough that I picked up the second and third books in the series.


Buy The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Friday, May 11, 2012

Review & Commentary: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

Note: This book and the following review is not for anyone under the age of 18.

This review is not intended to tell you whether or not to read this book because, to be honest, I never would have picked up this book had it not been for the hype and the generous offer from Danielle to lend it to me. Instead, with this review I hope to give you a clearer picture of what you'll be getting into if you decide to read Fifty Shades of Grey.

Let me start off by saying that this is not my preferred type of reading so it was a surprise to me that I liked it so much. No mater what anyone says, Fifty Shades of Grey is NOT a romance novel, it's not even an erotic romance novel. Honestly, to me it read more like a psychological thriller with very graphic and kinky sex scenes in it, which isn't a bad thing! It makes for a truly fascinating read! Psychology fans will no doubt enjoy analyzing and discussing the characters.

The similarities to Twilight are so obvious to those who have read and paid attention to the books and know the story behind Fifty Shades of Grey. The unbelievably attractive, brooding male and the painfully shy, awkward and plain girl who can't seem to sound remotely intelligent in front of said man. Did I mention that she blushes and whenever they touch there's like an electrical current that makes her gasp out loud? Sounds a lot like Stephenie Meyer's Bella Swan.

Unfortunately, what was endearing and familiar in Meyer's Bella, became borderline unbearable in James' Anastasia Steele. Why? She's not a teenager. She's around 21 for crying out loud and she's in college. It wasn't attractive in the least for Ana to be acting like a schoolgirl around Christian. I almost wanted to yell "Suck it up Ana! Stop being such a ninny around the man and act like a freaking grown woman!" Ordinarily this type of adult character would have made me close the book and forget about it, but by the fourth chapter, Christian Grey grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go.

Christian is a fascinating, albeit destructive and controlling character. From the beginning I wanted to know everything about this man. No, I didn't fall in love with him like I do with other fictional characters, despite his wounded soul (he's a little too wounded for me). I loved the complex nature of him. Just when you think you've figured him out, he surprises you with another side of himself.

For me Fifty Shades of Grey was not about a relationship between two characters, but rather what happens when a powerful controlling man who is accustomed to controlling every variable that comes in and out of his life is thrown a variable he wasn't expecting. It really is a book about Christian, his life and what happens to him when he meets Ana, even though the book is told from Ana's point of view. Again, a fascinating beginning of what is probably a long and difficult journey for Christian and Ana.

Ah but I mustn't forget the real reason people are so up in arms over this book and its successors.

The sex scenes. These scenes are not for the faint of heart or for the very prudish. These are not your momma's sexy times people! They're kinky as hell, a true Dom/sub relationship if ever I've read one. There, you've been warned. Read at your own peril. Or enjoyment, whatever you prefer. But if you're thinking that those very erotic scenes have no reason to be in the book, you're wrong. These scenes are very crucial to the story and to Christian and Ana's development as individuals and as a couple in the later books. So lascivious perverts need not pick up this book thinking it's just a book about kinky sex. I'm not going to say the scenes are beautiful or any other adjective one might use to describe sex scenes in books, but they aren't done in a way that makes a mockery out of what happens between two people who are attracted to each other. Different strokes people, just remember that.

Simply put, if kinky bed play isn't your thing then DON'T READ THIS BOOK! Don't get your panties into a twist, act prudish or go around preaching how "evil" this series or the author is. Trust me, you look and sound like a fool in this day and age.

Fifty Shades of Grey isn't for everyone obviously. You're either going to love it or hate it. I personally love it, though not for the same reasons everyone else does. My best advice? Borrow this book from someone before you go and buy it. If you like it then you'll have lost nothing, however if you hate it, well, I doubt you can get your money back after you've read the book.


Purchase Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Discussion Post: Getting in the Mood

We all have those days where you just can't get into your reading. It doesn't matter if the book is one you've been DYING to read, you just can't seem to settle in to read it. Maybe you're household or preferred reading area is bustling with too much activity, maybe you're mind is preoccupied with endless errands and tasks that need to be done. Or maybe, just maybe it's because you didn't do IT. Minds out of the gutter my dears, that's not what I'm talking about, "IT" is your reading ritual.

Do you have one? I know I do, and in order to get the most out of the book for reviews and discussions, I just HAVE to do/have these things:

1.Quiet. Not absolute quiet, mind you, but I can't have someone yammering on and on around and definitely not AT me. I can be in a room with normal conversation going on outside and block it out easily.

2. Good temperature. It sounds finicky but let me tell you, I live in a dry, crusty area. Extreme heat and blowing dust are not conducive to a positive reading experience.

3. My dog. Yes you read that right. I am a very anxious person by nature and having 60 pounds of black fur with crazy eyes laying next to me calms me down immeasurably.

 4. Music. Another oddity yes but I find that the right music can set the mood when you're reading a book. For example, while I was reading Celeste Bradley's Liar's Club series, I listened to a playlist made of different songs from the soundtracks of the Sherlock Holmes films. When I was reading Laurann Dohner's New Species series it was the scores from the Transformers films.

5. Finally, a glass of wine. It helps me relax and be able to absorb the story and the characters.

So tell me, do any of you have a routine that just has to get done in order for you to enjoy your books properly?