Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Essence of Time by Liz Crowe

Format: epub (provided by publisher)
Release Date: June 23, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

For years, Rob Frietag has resisted anything resembling a true emotional connection, preferring instead to explore life, and his own desires, without committing to anyone for very long. The reason remains known only to a few, among them Jack Gordon, his college cohort in female conquests, and life-long friend. At thirty-seven, while he is close to achieving his career goal, head chef at a five-star restaurant in Chicago, he is still very much alone.

After an intensely emotional relationship with Suzanne Baxter in Ann Arbor, Blake’s heart is left shattered. Completely broken by what he believes was his one true love, he arrives at a Chicago food and beer festival, prepared to drink his sorrow away. When the two men meet, their lives change forever. But time is of the essence. When Rob acknowledges his true feelings, he will stop at nothing to keep them together, including finding a surrogate mother for the child Blake so desperately wants.

Lila Warren is recovering from a nasty divorce, needs cash and believes carrying their baby will fulfill her in ways marriage never did. None of them could suspect that the connection they share would provide the final emotional key to their life-long puzzle. When Rob’s secret is revealed, time becomes the one luxury they don’t have, setting in motion a chain of events that destroys the fragile illusion of happiness for them, and everyone who loves them.

Essence of Time is officially tied with Paradise Hops as my favorite Liz Crowe book but my favorite book in the Stewart Realty series. It definitely has Liz's signature writing style, emotional turmoil, erotic sex scenes and plenty of time with characters old and new. The thing about the Stewart Realty series is that characters from previous books never completely leave the spotlight. They're all connected somehow and each character is crucial to another's development. I enjoy the connections because that's the way real life is. Not to sound cheesy but we are all connected and one person can affect many people's lives with their choices, good or bad.

I didn't expect to enjoy a story that was not solely centered on Jack Gordon and Sara Thorton so imagine my surprise when I not only enjoyed it, I fell in love with Rob and Blake. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a total sucker for wounded male characters, especially the emotionally wounded kind so when I first started reading the Stewart Realty series, I truly felt like Liz Crowe was writing these men for ME. Silly I know but I just love it when characters have these virtually impossible obstacles to overcome, some of which carry on for years or may not truly be overcome. You never know with Liz Crowe, her books are anything BUT predictable.

Essence of Time, while longer than its predecessors, doesn't drag on with unnecessary information and is still, by my definition, a short but amazing book. It's become extremely difficult for me to talk about these books without giving anything away, and this particular book is the hardest. There is so much going on and some surprising revelations by some of the characters that kept me reading well into the night and crying at the ending in the morning. Essence of Time affected me so much emotionally, I had a difficult time formulating articulate sentences for this review. I kept replaying scenes over and over in my head and reliving the last 80 or so pages.

As bittersweet as the ending was, I couldn't imagine Rob and Blake's relationship going any other way. Nor could I imagine a better companion than Lila. She's a fighter, a survivor and caregiver all in one. Lila's not as much of a hard ass as Sara or as tragic as Suzanne but that doesn't mean she's a push over. She has this quiet, understated will of steel that enables her to continue fighting whatever life throws her way.

I am experiencing a lot of "firsts" with Liz Crowe's books and one big one is that the Stewart Realty series is my first time reading a m/m relationship (mostly due to mental scarring from a previous experience). Rob and Blake's relationship is at times tempestuous but overall romantic, heartwarming & heartbreaking.

There's one thing I want to say to Liz Crowe concerning Essence of Time, bravo on the ending. Seriously, thank you for not taking a cheap way out and turning Blake or Rob into a villain so that the ending would be "easier" for readers. I don't see how this book could have ended any better, so thank you.

The bottom line is that Essence of Time is emotionally gripping, hard to put down and even harder to let go of. My favorite book of the series hands down.

Find Liz Crowe:

Monday, October 29, 2012

October Giveaway #5: Joan Swan & Elisabeth Naughton

Be sure to grab the smaller button on the right for your blog!

All giveaways will be International. Must be able to receive e-books from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and/or Smashwords.

Books that are part of the giveaway are for mature readers only (18 and up). 

The final giveaway of the month is a two for one deal! One lucky winner will get their choice of a Joan Swan & Elisabeth Naughton book for their e-reader!

New author Joan Swan has quickly become one of my favorite authors, she writes the most deliciously, sexy, sarcastic heroes I've met and is just a lovely person on top of that. Her Phoenix Rising series is one of the most addictive series I've come across and I'd love to introduce someone to these courageous firefighters or help you add one to your e-reader. 

Click on each cover for more info. 

Elisabeth Naughton is still new to me, I've started her Stolen Trilogy and I love it. I am currently on book 1 of her Eternal Guardians series and so far I'm in love. 

Click on each cover for more info.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Closing Costs by Liz Crowe

Format: epub (provided by publisher)
Release Date: June 6, 2012

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

Love conquers all? Not likely, according to Sara Thornton. She’s spent eight years coming to terms with the new parameters of her life while resigning herself to the idea that “happily ever afters” are best left to fairytales. Sales manager for her successful real estate office and juggling an added element of responsibility she never thought she’d face, Sara continues to struggle with the men in her life. Love, for her, has only meant hurt, broken trust and anger; all of which she’s completely banished from her life, so she claims.

Jack Gordon has come a long way since his early days of obsession with Sara. As the general manager of Stewart Realty, his own level of responsibility for the well-being of others has ramped up. He’s even honed his caretaking skills, now that he has someone who loves him unconditionally.

Continuing to invest effort and rebuild their relationship, he and Sara grow close as friends. Despite this, his ultimate question remains unanswered; the one he keeps asking, no matter how many times she says no. Sara isn’t prepared for the keen focus of his need–to have her back, once and for all. Her stubborn resistance nearly rips both lives apart.

Though Closing Costs is considered a part of the Stewart Realty series, I am starting to see it more as another chapter in the Jack and Sara saga. Both characters have almost come full circle but there are still a few things in store for both of them. To me, they're a symbol of real people in the real world. No one is ever 100% happy in their life, let alone their relationships. Sometimes those who pretend to be the happiest are the most miserable in life. The point Closing Costs brings across is that we all have a choice in life. We can choose to make the best of what life throws our way or we can choose to let it drown us without a fight. We can choose to refuse to change, or we can choose to try and change for the better.

Just like its predecessors, Closing Costs is so well put together and so achingly real that I easily lost myself within its pages and the emotional war that continues to rage between characters. One of the things I love about Liz Crowe's stories is that she has the ability to make a reader become so completely involved with the characters she's created. It's not that I identified with them, I can literally SEE bits of myself reflected back at me through Jack, Sara, Craig, Blake, Rob and Suzanne. Some of those reflections are good, and some are less than stellar but that's what makes these characters so real to me, so undeniably human.

Each character has changed significantly since Floor Time, life has become complicated for all the characters, particularly Sara. She's become more stubborn and that has made her already difficult life worse. Wanting to do things on her own is admirable, but Sara only wants her independence when it's convenient to her, it doesn't matter what price those around her pay.Sara is the type of person who just loves to learn things the hard way, rather than take advice from people who know more and avoid negative situations in the first place, she confuses stubbornness for independence and ends up with egg on her face.

Towards the end of Closing Costs I started to question Sara's character. She's far from perfect yes, but her inability to do what's best for the people she claims to care about, yet continues to knowingly use started to change my original opinion of her. She started to look like a master manipulator who only cared about her wants, her needs and the hell with anyone else. She was selfish, immature and needy to the point where she at times acted more like a jealous child towards Katie instead of her mother. It seems that Jack matured and moved forward, while Sara became immature and moved backwards. She continually sabotaged any happy moments in her life, either with Jack or Katie.

Jack, while still a jerk when he gets angry or feels he has to defend himself, has matured a lot since Floor Time. He is starting to think his actions through and how they might affect those around him. It's not to say he's become a perfect man, hell no, he's still a pain in the ass sometimes but at least he's being honest with himself and others about what he wants. He somehow developed this extreme amount of patience which is not easy around a person like Sara and her family, that wasn't present before.

The ever present real life drama and emotional roller coaster is what drives a book like Closing Costs. It gives readers a reality check in some ways by showing the difficult times in between those "happy moments" we're so fond of in other books, making the conclusion that much sweeter in my opinion. There's nothing more satisfying than watching two characters like Jack and Sara fight, fall in love, struggle with life's hard times, almost lose everything and then begin to work things out. It makes that "Happy For Now" moment something to cherish and hope for in one's own life.


Find Liz Crowe:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

ARC Review: Rogue Rider by Larissa Ione

Format: epub (provided by NetGalley & Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

They're here.

They ride.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Born of a match between good and evil, four siblings stand between hell's minions and everything they want to destroy. They are the Lords of Deliverance, and they have the power to ward off Doomsday . . . or let it ride . . .

Jillian Cardiff came to this remote mountain town to forget the demon attack that almost killed her. Instead, she rescues-and falls for-a gorgeous stranger who has no memory of anything other than his name. Handsome, charming, and protective, Reseph seems like the kind of man whom Jillian can trust. But with hints of a troubling history of his own, he's also the kind of man who can be very dangerous . . .

Reseph may not know why he mysteriously appeared in Jillian's life, but he knows he wants to stay. Yet when Jillian's neighbors are killed, and demon hunters arrive on the scene, Reseph fears that he's putting Jillian in danger. And once it's revealed that Reseph is also Pestilence, the Horseman responsible for ravaging the world, he and Jillian must face the greatest challenge of all: Can they forget the horrors of a chilling past to save the future they both desire?

Wow and damn did Rogue Rider live up to all the expectations I had! I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think Rogue Rider is one of the best if not THE best books Larissa Ione has written! 

Pestilance had his time in the spotlight and he made the worst of it. Now it's Reseph's turn and he has more than an uphill battle if he ever wants to have a semblance of a normal life. There were glimpses of Reseph in the previous books but none of them really painted an acurate picture of the man behind the prophecies. 

Rogue Rider doesn't waste any time with an unnecessary opening scene, it just dives headlong into the story, for which I was extremely grateful. In just a few pages I fell head over heels in love with Reseph. Such a big, strong immortal who had human wants, needs and insecurities. He was sexy, funny, sweet, and so irresistable. From the moment he regained consciousness, Larissa Ione had me on pins and needles, waiting for the moment when Reseph would remember his life and his time as Pestilance. I was curious as to how he would react and what it would take for him to forgive himself.

Jillian wasn't what I expected her to be. I thought perhaps an intelligent, soft, ultra-feminine woman who was in need of protection would be what Reseph needed but what I found was a rough, tough woman with violent demon encounter in her past and a vulnerable heart that even she didn't know about. She never let Reseph run roughshod over her at any time, if anything, she held the reins in the budding relationship between the two. Bottom line: I loved Jillian, I think she just might be my favorite of Larissa Ione's heroines. 

I loved the emotion in this book. Rogue Rider definitely had more of an emotional current than its predecessors and it really worked to further the characters and the story. What was interesting was the now fractured relationship between Reseph, his siblings and their families. Though the others were aware that it was Pestilance not Reseph that caused so much harm, they still seemed intent on blaming and punishing Reseph for it. It made me hurt for Reseph.

One thing you can always count on with Larissa Ione's books is that there's going to be plenty of secrets. Rogue Rider is no exception and though a few secrets that have been building up through the series are uncovered, there are about 10 more to take their places, which I assume is to keep readers guessing and interested (it works and I'm not ashamed to admit it). Each character seems to be a part of some bigger, twisted version of a family tree and with each story that is told, that tree gets bigger and bigger and the connections become more and more complicated.

Rogue Rider is a sexy, steamy conclusion to an amazing series and should not be missed by paranormal romance fans. I can't wait to see what Larissa Ione has in store for us next!


Find Larissa Ione:
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Monday, October 22, 2012

October Giveaway #4: Larissa Ione

Be sure to grab the smaller button on the right for your blog!

All giveaways will be International. Must be able to receive e-books from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and/or Smashwords.

Books that are part of the giveaway are for mature readers only (18 and up).

Giveaway #4 is all about Larissa Ione!

Larissa is the author of two very successful series, The Demonica series centers around an Emergency Hospital... That caters to the demon world. A fantastic series that features almost every kind of paranormal creature you could imagine, steamy, erotic scenes and non-stop action, The Demonica series is definitely a must for paranormal romance fans!

Click on each cover for more info on each book.

The Lords of Deliverance is a spin-off of the Demonica series featuring the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Larissa manages to take 4 well known figures of myth and turn them into sexy, angst ridden characters that you'll fall in love with.

Click on each cover for more info on each book.

*If you choose Rogue Rider it will be a pre-order as it won't be available until December.

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Find Larissa Ione:
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Buy Larissa Ione's books:
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review: Sweat Equity by Liz Crowe

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

Jack Gordon thought he’d finally made it. He had a wildly successful career, money in the bank and had returned to his life as a Dom, putting an end to a string of unfulfilling sexual encounters. Now that he’s made the ultimate commitment to Sara Thornton, he believes all is right in the world. But a series of misunderstandings and a dose of self-fulfilling prophesy bring his perfectly crafted house of cards tumbling down around him, forcing him to confront lingering misgivings about marriage and trust. Could those be the only two things he can never achieve?

Sara struggles with her intense need for Jack and her desire for less volatility in her busy life, which appear to be mutually exclusive goals. Although willing to put in the time and emotional effort to make their relationship work, she finds it futile and frustrating, littered with clashes thanks to near-identical personalities and temperaments. Given Sara’s history, easing back into the comfortable status quo becomes easier than fighting a war with the one person who should be her safe haven. But will the easier choice satisfy her the way only Jack can? Is her “war” one that comes from without or within?

Buffeted by circumstance, temptation and distraction, Jack and Sara’s tenuous relationship crumbles, sparking a continuous quest for the ever-elusive: trust, love and acceptance. By the time they rebuild a foundation for renewal, fate has other plans. Which leaves them both reeling, once again questioning their destiny.

Falling in love is the easy part. Overcoming years of emotional damage and conditioning in order to be with the one you love? Not so easy.

Sweat Equity picks up where Floor Time left off. Jack Gordon and Sara Thorton are in love, they're engaged, then they're not, and they still have issues. Big ones.

Get ready for the angst and turmoil readers, Sweat Equity excels at putting you through the emotional ringer with Jack and Sara and you just might enjoy the ride more than you think!

Jack and Sara started a whirlwind affair in Floor Time and never really got to know each other as individuals, it was a bit too easy for them. They tried to completely bypass their own problems as well as each others and just be together. However, you can't just stuff your problems into a closet. Sooner or later, that closet door is going to burst open and your problems are going to suffocate you. Despite what people say, love is NOT all you need. That point is really emphasized in Sweat Equity. Author Liz Crowe does an excellent job of giving her characters (and maybe even a few readers) a reality check about relationships. If Dr. Phil helped fictional characters, I'd be hard pressed to find two characters who'd need his help more than Jack and Sara.

And as if those two didn't have enough problems between them, there's now the added element of Craig, who wants to be the one who makes Sara forget Jack. Looking at Craig without rose colored glasses on, he knew what he was getting into and he knew it was going to be an uphill battle he may not win. He's not a bad guy though. He had to try, even if he thought he'd fail. That's part of real life too. You never know how things will turn out if you don't try. I really liked him and because to me, characters are real, I hope he finds someone to make him happy.

Sweat Equity is what really defined Liz Crowe's "Romance for Real Life" in my opinion. Jack and Sara's story isn't an easy one, it isn't a fairytale, their problems aren't going to be solved simply by saying "I love you" and the end of the book doesn't guarantee a "Happily Ever After," merely a "What Happens Next." Just like Liz Crowe promises. I am learning, she is a woman of her word.

Jack and Sara, to me, represent every couple in today's world. Maybe to varying degrees but we are all either Jack or Sara. We don't have all the answers, we all have problems and sometimes those problems interfere with our love lives in a big way.

There are a few minor typos and missing words in Sweat Equity but it wasn't too big of a deal, my mind took over and I knew what words went where and what the author was trying to say. You can't catch every error you know.

I'm still in the early stages of reading the next book in the series, Closing Costs and I still have a few books to go after that but I know in my heart that Jack and Sara are going to be two characters I'll never forget.


Find Liz Crowe:


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Author! Author! Interview with: Liz Crowe

Today I am super excited to welcome author Liz Crowe to Breath of Life Reviews. If you haven't heard already, Liz writes "Romance for Real Life" and she'll explain what that is a little later, first, for those of you who may not know who Liz is and what she does when she's NOT writing steamy, sexy books, here's a little bit about her, courtesy of Tri Destiny Publishing:

Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town.  Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse, plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry), has prepped her for life as erotic romance author. 

When she isn't sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications. 

Her groundbreaking romance subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” has gained thousands of fans and followers who are interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”)

Her beer blog is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high-powered real estate offices.  Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury.

You can find Liz on the following sites:

You can also "Like" Jack Gordon (From Floor Time) and Craig Robinson (Conditional Offer) Facebook pages:

Hi Liz Welcome to Breath of Life Reviews! I am so excited (and nervous) to talk to you today! Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, especially since I'm a new fan of yours :)

But before I start I'd like to mention how impressed I was with Christine and Jessica. They are the ones who contacted me about reading and reviewing your books and of course interviewing you. They're both so friendly, helpful and very thorough. So I have to say thank you to them as well for this opportunity.

Hey there guys! Thank you so much for having me. And yeah, my editing/proofing/scheduling/ego stroking/ ass kicking One-Two punch of Jessica and Christine is something any published author yearns for: support, friendship, hand-holding and the aforementioned ass-kicking.
They rock.
I am naught but a navel-gazing scribbler without them.

So I read a little about you on your site ( and saw that you've definitely had your share of traveling (of which I am so envious) and experience. I'm curious (see "nosey") though, why turn to writing erotic romance? Why not write, say stories losely based on your travels instead, or books about the beer brewing industry (which I now find fascinating)? You know, non-fiction?

I write what I like to read and am a fairly recent fan of (well written) erotic romance. I started reading Lauren Dane and Shayla Black about 4 years ago, and, in addition to adding some definite spice to my life, they inspired me. I am more easily classified as a mainstream fiction reader. I love Margaret Atwood, Ann Tyler, Yann Martel, Gillian Flynn, Lianne Moriarty, Barbara Kingsolver, John Irving, Jonathan Franzen and others mainly because the one thing these well-known authors have in common is an ability to craft compelling characters that make you think, and very often feel very strongly about—one way or another. They are also very visual writers, creating, in my opinion, stunning mental pictures through their words.

In my search for more and better fiction with the “naughty bits left in,” I came up pretty empty handed. Most erotic fiction, be it romance or otherwise is too heavy on the “what” (sex) as opposed to the why (motivation for sex).  That bugs me as a reader so I decided to try my hand at it.

I do have a series set in and around Istanbul though, where I lived for two years. Turkish Delights is a 5 book (ebook only) set from Decadent Publishing that many fans of the Realty series have turned to next and been very pleased. I have a down the road project in mind too, about a trailing ex-pat spouse that is going to be a bit of a murder mystery I think, once I get around to finalizing it my head.

As for non-fiction, I rarely read it and so am not really compelled to write it. The non fiction stuff I read is mostly sports related as research for my upcoming soccer series.

Okay I am DYING to talk a little about this new sub-genre you've created, "Romance for Real Life." It's what first caught my attention when I visited your site. I had never heard of that genre before and me being very curious (again, see "nosey"), started to look up your books and became intrigued. For those who may not be familiar with "Romance for Real Life," can you explain what it is and why you decided to start it in the first place?

It has a lot to do with what I mentioned above, about finding decent plots to go with the sex.  Now that “erotic fiction” (she says hooking 2 fingers in the air and rolling her eyes) is having a “renaissance” (see above parenthetical), it essentially means that everyone and their Aunt Millie is trying their hand at it.  The ease with which one can self publish also means there is a real cacophony of sexy time books all vying to be the next numbers one through three on the NYT best seller list.

But what I write are stories that combine the best of worlds: well written sex scenes as part of a complex story arc that includes secondary characters that are at times as compelling as the main ones (see: Essence of Time: Book 4 and Conditional Offer: Book 5).  I really don’t like books that have hero/heroines operating in a vacuum without friends or family so I keep all my stories rich with side stories and potential “hey what about that guy?” moments for readers.

Romance for Real Life was a phrase a reader/reviewer coined that I liked a lot. It’s less about the “HEA” and more about the “WHA?” as in What Happens AFTER….the white wedding, the commitment ceremony, the Holy Shit You Are The Love Of My Life moments…

Layers of emotion, humor, erotic moments, humility, bad choices and good are all part of real life….I just try to translate it to my books.

I fell in love with your writing style when I read Paradise Hops and now Floor Time. I loved the characters and the raw and sometimes gut wrenching emotions that were present in almost every page as well as the very erotic and sensual scenes between the characters. Because you have so many books out and each one is different from the last, how do keep storylines and those steamy scenes from becoming repetitive?

So far I have not had that problem, I don’t think.  I keep it fresh by reading my favorite erotica writers combined with my favorite mainstream ones. And every time a new character leaps into my head he or she is very independent of other ones. The hardest part for me? Finding time to sit and write all the stories currently whirling around in my head.

You seem like such a busy woman, you're a wife, mother, microbrewery owner, former real estate agent and an award winning author. First of all, how do you manage it all and second, what do you do when you have down time, if you even have it at all?

Many days I wonder that myself. Luckily in my beer business there are never two days exactly the same in a row.  Many weekends I’m busy, start to finish between on and off-site events so I will take a Monday/Tuesday away from it to write or edit. But I’m a pretty classic rise early or stay up late to get writing projects done sort of author.

I rarely have down time and am a straight up type A so I seek out activity. One thing I have learned to do is practice Bikram Yoga, which is 90 minutes in a 105 degree room to force myself OUT of my head and into a “down time” space.

Because you write erotic romance that is more realistic, does that mean that you don't watch any romantice movies? Because I confess, while I love the usual, run of the mill romance novels to get away from my at times frustrating life, I can't stand romantic movies (I'm more of an action movie kinda girl). What kind of movies/tv shows do you watch when you get the chance?

I’m a bit of a hard core cynic at heart but love a well-crafted/written/acted movie or tv show no matter the genre.
The last movie I paid money to see was: Magic Mike and I did it 3 times and already have my Blu Ray DVD on order.
The last movie I rented on Demand: the 5 Year Engagement, because it has so many killer Ann Arbor location shots but it ended with a giant argument with my significant other over the overarching theme of sad sack dude because his girlfriend is successful and he’s not. It pissed me the F%$# off.
I avoid action/adventure BUT plan to watch the next Bond movie because I flipping adore Daniel Craig.
The next movie I plan to pay money for after Bond: The Life of Pi based on my favorite book ever written by Yann Martel.
The last TV show I watched: BoardWalk Empire. I am a sucker for a great historical and this amazing series has me wanting to write something about Detroit’s role in bootlegging during prohibition. 
The only TV shows I record and watch with regularity:
BoardWalk Empire
Mad Men
Weeds (see: inner cynic)
The Tudors
Spartacus (man flesh but I don’t care for all the violence)
Game of Thrones (awesome with sauce on top)
The Borgias
But maintain that Deadwood is the epitome of creative perfection—pure Shakespeare with a ton of f-bombs? Yeah.

What are you currently working on now?

A lot of stuff actually.  I’m continuing my top selling Stewart Realty series with a new book in early 2013: Mutual Release (Evan’s story) and have a final novel head plotted (Good Faith will be a challenging novel of addiction and recovery, redemption and recognition that only the addicted can truly save themselves).  The first 3 books of the Black Jack Gentlemen books (an offshoot of the Stewart Realty series) will release in 2013 as well.  And I have 2 intriguing stand along projects clanging around in my noggin. I’m trying to fight off Hans (my well-known, 6 foot 5 inch blond-haired, blue-eyed, beer bringing muse in lederhosen) but when he is on a roll, he is not easily derailed. 

What is one thing about you that your fans would be surprised to know?

Wow.  I’m so “out there” I don’t have a ton of things that will surprise people.  I am an a-typical author I guess…not a shy bone in my body, not uneasy about going to conventions, meeting new people, drinking, socializing or chatting in any way shape or form. While I treasure my time alone at the computer, creating, crafting, plotting and writing I balance it with plenty of time in the public eye, being interviewed, attending fund raising events, schmoozing and working crowds. 

I actually get a fair bit of questions from other authors about it—how do I do it? I have always worked in sales and marketing, had the lead in every play in high school, was social director for my sorority in college.   I’m not saying I’m perfect or even that great to look at, but I love being out there, center of attention at times, as it were.  And given that I had to move with my family to 3 different countries and “start over” every time, it’s a damn good thing really.

So far, what has been the most memorable fan encounter you've had?

The first “romance writer convention” I attended was in Gatlinburg, the “RomFest” which is kick ass and I recommend you ALL attend.  This past June I was there in a seminar given by another author, and looked over to see 3 different reader attendees reading Essence of Time, the 4th Stewart Realty book that had released that week. The rest of the time was a sort of casual Liz Book Club meeting at every meal.  That was cool as hell.

Totally, not so random question (because I'm nosey), a lot of people would consider the brewing industry to be a man's world, what's it like to be a woman in that world and have to work side by side with them day in and day out? Was it difficult for you to be taken seriously in the beginning?

No, because they needed a marketing person and I was that person. They taught me the beer stuff and I started a blog ( to chronicle how little I knew and how I learned about craft beer and opening a small business in the middle of a recession. 

I am energetic and know my shit when it comes to marketing in general.  I got respect because of that and because I have an embarrassingly high tolerance for alcohol.  This is a job that more or less requires it, and because I have it I got some serious cred right away. 

I’ve always been comfortable around men I guess. I’m not intimidated by them, or (again) shy in the slightest.  And to be completely honest, my time working in a nearly 99% male dominated business has been inspiring, on many levels.

I was tested, believe me, both locally and on a national level (read CHEEKY BLONDE, my stand alone brewery based novel, which sprang from a fun “Great American Beer Festival” weekend).  And passed. 

Is there anything you'd like readers to know about you or your books?

Just that they understand my style---there is no flowery prose, no prince charmings, no pat characters or plots, and no easy happy endings in my books.  There are, however, challenging, sexy, real people living their lives and making mistakes and finding happiness by the end of it all.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me Liz and I look forward to catching up on all your current books as well as anticipating your next release!

Thanks again for having me!  As we say when new folks start my Stewart Realty series or any of the other books: Enjoy The Ride!

That's not all! Liz and Tri Destiny Publishing are graciously giving TWO readers a chance to win either Liz's just released stand alone Paradise Hops (my review can be found here) or the first book in her Stewart Realty series, Floor Time (which I also reviewed here). And guess what? They're SIGNED!!!! So don't waste time and enter both giveaways for your chance to win!! 

Winners get a choice of Kindle, Epub or PDF format.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: Floor Time by Liz Crowe

Format: epub (provided by publisher)
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

Jack Gordon is Ann Arbor's most delectable bachelor. At age thirty-five, he's made millions as a top-selling Ann Arbor real estate broker and has the right connections to close a deal by any means necessary. With his rugged good looks and compelling personality, he has a virtual black book most men would kill for and he uses it often, never settling for one woman for very long.

While his D/s past remains buried, exactly where he wants it, an undercurrent of boredom and dissatisfaction runs through his life now. A disastrous experience years earlier made him swear off the whole scene, but the more Jack suppresses his natural Dom, the more his frustration grows.

Sara Thornton, a rookie in the real estate game, has fast-tracked herself to the top of the Ann Arbor market. Her life reflects a disciplined and focused routine, exactly the way she wants it. However, as her career takes off, the fulfillment she seeks remains inexplicably out of reach. The one thing she knows for sure, she will not join the Jack Gordon groupies in her company, no matter how tempting that might seem.

A chance encounter, then a difficult transaction, throw Jack and Sara together and the sparks fly high and hot and often. Forced to confront the compulsions that gain momentum with each sizzling encounter, their relationship seems to spiral out of control until Jack finally admits what he needs, and shows Sara what she's been missing.

The first book in what I'm starting to see is a very popular series among fans, Floor Time by Liz Crowe promises a real love story, complete with conflict, erotic love scenes and a true to life "ending." It's not the first time a book has promised to deliver on a certain level, sometimes they do deliver, but for the most part, they don't deliver on all the promised aspects.

Not to fear readers, Floor Time DOES deliver on its promises. This is only the second book by Liz Crowe that I've read but already I have found that they reach me on an emotional level. I can truly connect, not just identify with the characters in her books.

Jack isn't what you would call typical hero material. To be blunt, he's a man whore. A handsome, intelligent, successful businessman but a man whore none the less. In other words, he's like most males in the world and there's nothing wrong with that because in the real world, no one is sitting around waiting for "Mr or Miss Perfect." My above description may give off the impression that I didn't like Jack. Not so, it was quite the opposite. I loved Jack. Why? Because he NEVER pretended to be anything but what he was. He never lied about his reputation, never led women on in order to get them into bed. He was straight forward that he only wanted sex from them. That's part of what I liked, what made Jack unique to me and kept him from looking like a cad in my eyes.

Sure Jack can and is a jerk at times but we're not looking for perfection here people, we're looking for realism. Jack's not invulnerable to women though. He has an almost immediate connection with Sara even if he doesn't realize it. She messes with his reputation as a womanizer and that was fun to watch. Even the baddest bad boys have weaknesses.

Sara reacts to Jack the way most of us would HOPE to react if a handsome, millionaire playboy started pursuing us. Cool and collected on the outside, an emotional and hormonal wreck on the inside. She's good at her job and doesn't allow much to stand in her way. She's feisty and independent, almost to a fault. I loved that she wanted to have control of her life and when she didn't have that control, it made her nervous. Watching Sara struggle with letting someone else have control once in awhile really made Floor Time work for me. It really brought home the point that it's not always in our best interests to be in control of our lives, that it's okay with letting someone you trust take control. It's not an easy thing to do and Sara struggled with it the entire way.

The chemistry between Jack and Sara is off the charts from the beginning but then again, that's the easy part. It's trying to overcome not only their own pasts but each others' as well. Each was preconditioned to think a certain way and becoming involved with one another is basically screwing with that preconditioned thought process. That's what creates so many obstacles for these two but it also makes their relationship worth fighting for. It's what made me root for them from almost the first page. That hope that these two characters who have so many obstacles to overcome, can somehow make a relationship work.

There is a slight BDSM element to Floor Time but it doesn't deter from the real story. Which I greatly appreciated.

As an after thought, I looked around to see what other opinions people had about Floor Time and I came across one particular opinion a lot: That Floor Time is like Fifty Shades of Grey.

I have to strongly disagree there. Other than the slight BDSM in Floor Time, I didn't see anything remotely close to Fifty Shades. Jack and Sara are more fleshed out, more realistic and less fantasy than Christian and Ana. Sara is nowhere near as foolish, naive and weak as Ana.

I do highly recommend that both fans and non-fans of Fifty Shades pick up Floor Time just so that you can see the differences between the two. If you didn't like Fifty Shades of Grey then please pickup Floor Time so that you don't carry around the idea that all erotic romances are the same.

Floor Time is a passionate, emotional journey between two emotionally  handicapped characters that will leave you breathless and eager for the next book in the series. Just like her character Jack Gordon, author Liz Crowe is straight forward. She doesn't sugar coat anything, she tells it like it is. The good, the bad, the ugly and the passionate parts of a relationship.

Add this book to your "To Read" lists, you won't be sorry.


Find Liz Crowe:

Author! Author! Interview with: Regan Walker

I'm really excited to have Regan Walker on the blog today. Regan's debut novel, Racing with the Wind is an exciting romance set against the back drop of Regency England, if you haven't already, check out my review over here. Regan is also giving away an e-copy of Racing the Wind so be sure to enter at the end of the interview!

Hi Regan! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few of my questions today, I really appreciate it. 
I am very pleased to be here—thanks for inviting me!

Racing with the Wind is your debut novel and it really is a delightful story. What obstacles did you encounter while writing it and how long did it take to get it published once it was finished? 
Well, it was not only my first novel, but my first Regency, so I had a lot to understand and a lot of research to do on what had been happening in France since much of it takes place in Paris in 1816. I wouldn’t call research an obstacle but it is a lot of work.

After talking with my fellow romance writers and attending several conferences, I was not impressed with the long road to publication of the traditional publishers. It can take years and it’s no guarantee even if they accept your book that they will want another. So I looked around. I considered self-publishing but found my home with Boroughs Publishing Group, a new ePublisher with a great editor, Chris Keeslar. As a new author, I benefitted from Chris’s genius and yet as a small publisher, they were very flexible. They accepted my manuscript in March 2012, and I had a contract that same month. I was published that July. By traditional timing, it was lightning speed.

You also have a review blog for romance novels, in your opinion what is essential to making a romance novel irresistible? 
Ah, about that I could speak all day. I posted an article on my blog about the 10 things that I don’t want to see in a romance novel (A Reader’s Pet Peeves: The 10 That Set Me On Edge Every Time, For what I like you can read my reviews. To win my adoration, I want a strong heroine and a stronger hero and some challenge or great historical theme (with actual history). I do not like cads so if the hero starts out bad, I want a good reason for it. I like an interesting plot where things happen. Typically, I don’t like novels where the whole story occurs in one castle, one house, one place. I like to travel and I want adventure. I also like deep emotion. The authors who move me always have some deep heart felt angst going on at some point. Penelope Williamson, Elizabeth Stuart, Marsha Canham and Nadine Crenshaw are among some of my favorites but the complete list is on my blog (

Racing with the Wind is the first book in your Agents of the Crown trilogy. Any chance it might become a multi-book series or do you plan to keep it a trilogy?
Well, funny you should ask. I just finished the second, Martin’s story, AGAINST THE WIND, and have started the third, WIND RAVEN, the story of Martin’s sea captain brother, Nick. But I also have the prequel rumbling around in my brain. Tentatively titled ON FAIR WINDS, it’s the story of Nick and Martin’s parents, an English privateer Simon Powell, known as the Golden Eagle, who falls in love with the daughter of a French pirate while the two countries are at war. Ah yes, now that will be a romantic tale. But it will come after WIND RAVEN.

What can readers expect from book two in the trilogy, Against the Wind?
AGAINST THE WIND is a “backwards romance” in the sense that things happen out of order. First the hero and heroine make love, then they marry and then they get to know each other and fall in love. Martin returns from Paris to take on one last assignment as a spy for the Crown (which will end up as the Pentrich Rebellion in the Midlands in 1817), and in the one night he allows himself some pleasure, through a mix-up in rooms at a very fancy bordello, he ends up with Kit who he thinks is a courtesan but who is really a dowager Baroness whose life has just been shattered.

So far, what has been the best part of being a published author? Have you had any memorable fan encounters?
The best part is the readers…connecting with the hearts of other women. It really thrills me to know my story has brought them pleasure. That is why I write! I try to write the kinds of stories I would enjoy.

What would readers be surprised to find on your bookshelf?
Books on Christian apologetics and law.

Aside from being a published author and review blogger what do you do on your spare time?
Well, I read a lot as you might imagine and most of what I read is romance, and most of that is historical romance. Some authors send me advance copies of their books to review, too. My reviews are always my candid assessments but there are some authors who know I like there stuff.

I love to cook (some of my recipes are on my website) and I like having dinner or lunch with friends. Small groups make for interesting discussions. Getting to know other authors at conferences and over the Internet has been a special treat. Some of my best friends in cyber world are other authors.

Oh yes, I should add that I still practice law part time from my home. And I like that, too. Solving problems for others makes me happy.

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would have written differently in Racing with the Wind?
Yes. Not the main plot or the characters, but every now and then I’ll come up with an idea for a change, something minor, and I have to remind myself the thing is published and that opportunity is lost.

What advice can you give to writers who are looking to get their books published?
Skip the long trek and look for a small publisher or if you have a really good editor consider self-publishing. Just get it done. Entering contests is ok, but at some point you have to leave that behind and get your book out there. Get a good critique group (even an online one) and once the book is done, get some beta reads. That’s a reader looking at the big picture—the story as a whole. It doesn’t matter how well you write if the story or the characters are not appealing. I am delighted when a reviewer tells me they fell in love with my heroine or hero. That is what I wanted—to speak to the desires of their hearts, to give them hope that true love is out there somewhere.

Oh, and for those who think they need an agent for their contract, let me tell you. For a new author, they are all contracts of adhesion. That means it’s a “take it or leave it” proposition. Just sign it and move on. If you want a big publisher you might need an agent, but frankly I prefer dealing directly with my publisher and many in the Indie community prefer dealing with only their readers. Can’t blame them.

I could ask questions until the world ends but I know you're a busy lady so I'll just ask one last question. Is there anything else you'd like readers to know?
Yes. Know that I humbly appreciate that you bought my book. And if you liked it, I am thrilled, honored. It’s what I want more than anything—to bring joy to other women. And I am always open to suggestions for new stories, new locations, new time periods. Just contact me via my website ( I’d also love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

I started a medieval set in 1067, THE RED WOLF’S PRIZE. It’s half done. I stopped it to finish my trilogy when my first book got published, but I’ll come back to it. I love the time of William the Conqueror and wanted to explore how a brave Saxon woman might have reacted to a domineering, proud knight who thinks the land he’s been awarded (and not the girl that goes with it) is his prize. He is so wrong.

Regan, thank you so much, it's been a pleasure reading Racing with the Wind and having the opportunity to ask you a few questions. I can't wait until your next book comes out! Best of luck to you!
Thanks! And thanks for the great review!

Regan is graciously offering a Kindle copy of her book Racing with the Wind to one lucky person. So fill out the rafflecopter form below for a chance to win!

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