Hard Wood by Lauren Blakely-Review and Excerpt Tour

Hard Wood by Lauren Blakely-Review and Excerpt Tour

Hard Wood

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 23, 2017

Women often say a good man is hard to find. And a hard man is even better.

That’s why I’m quite a catch— good, hard, loaded, and wait for it…I’m ready to settle down too. But the woman I want to pitch my tent with lives clear across the country. Neither of us wants to get lost in those woods. All I have to do is resist her for the week she’s in town.

I try. I swear I try. But yeah, that doesn’t work out.

And after one fantastic night with my good friend Mia, I’m ready to give her years of nights under the stars. What’s a few thousand miles when love’s involved? But there’s a hitch in my plans — she just hired my adventure tour company. If there’s one thing I’m committed to, it’s running a squeaky clean business. Number one on my list of iron-clad rules?

Don’t screw your customers.

But what’s a guy to do when she’s so hard to resist? How hard can it be to keep our hands off each other for a quick group tour down the hills and over the trails? I’m about to find out, and I have a feeling I’m going to need a new badge of honor because things are about to get very hard in the woods.

••••••••••••

REVIEW:

HARD WOOD by Lauren Blakely is a contemporary, erotic romance found in the author’s series of standalone male point of view story lines including Well Hung, Mr. O, The Sexy One, Big Rock, Joy Ride and Full Package, connected by the familiarity of family, friendships and lovers. This is professional hiker and trail guide Patrick Milligan, and beauty company owner Mia Summers’ story line. HARD WOOD can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty . Any important information from the previous story lines is revealed where necessary. Mia is the younger sister of Chase Summers (Full Package) and Max Summers (Joy Ride); Patrick is best friends with Mia’s brother Max.

Told from first person point of view (Patrick Milligan) with a few pages from Zeus the cat HARD WOOD is a best friends, little sister trope that follows the friends to lovers building romance between adventure tour owner and operator Patrick Milligan, and beauty company owner Mia Summers. Mia is a West Coast girl; her beauty products company is based in San Francisco but she struggles with the distance between herself and her brothers back in New York. Enter Patrick Milligan, Max Summers’ best friend, and the man with whom Mia will fall in love. What ensues is the quick building romance between Patrick and Mia, and the potential fall out of a long distance relationship.

The relationship between Mia and Patrick is quick to build; a friends to lovers insta-love/lust romance wherein Patrick is ready to settle down but Mia battles issues from the past. Convincing herself that New York is where she wants to be, Mia moves her head office and her heart to be closer to the man with whom she is falling in love. The $ex scenes are intimate and erotic.

Most of the previous story line couples play secondary and supporting roles. The author gives the reader a glimpse into the ongoing relationship dynamics, and the growing families and friendship.

HARD WOOD is a sweet story of romance and love. There is no outside conflict, and little to no confrontation or struggle between our leading couple. The premise is engaging; the characters are real; the romance is sexy and hot. HARD WOOD takes the reader on an adventure with one sexy man; his hiking-loving cat Zeus; and one woman who is willing to take a chance on a happily ever after.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

 

Excerpt

NOTE: Excerpt intended for mature readers due to language and content

I let go of her hand and thread my fingers through her hair. “Get on me.”

Then I grab her hips and move her so she’s straddling my lap. She gasps, a sexy noise that turns into a moan as she sinks down on my hard-on.

I hiss because it feels so fucking good.

“I wanted to come over the other night. After dinner. After the elevator,” she blurts out.

“Yeah?”

She nods. “Dinner ran late, but I couldn’t stop thinking about you.”

“What were you thinking?”

“That we didn’t get to kiss, and I wanted to so badly.”

“I can fix that problem right now.”

I take her face in my hands and bring her to me. Then the world spirals away as I kiss Mia Summers for the very first time.

It’s extraordinary. Her lips brush against mine, and she wastes no time. She slides closer, rubbing on my dick as she presses her chest to me. It’s as if she’s climbing me, and God, how I want this. How I want her like this.

I thread my fingers through her hair, pulling her closer, kissing her deeper. Tasting her. Her mouth is soft and sweet, and she makes these little sounds—whimpers, sighs, gasps—that make me nearly lose my mind.

I’m kissing Mia. I’ve been crazy for her for so damn long, and she’s on my lap, rubbing against my erection, kissing me as if her every last breath depends on it. Her tongue tangles with mine, and in a hot second, the kiss become furious. Greedy. Like two people who are mad about each other. I curl my hands around her head, wanting to get as close as I can, but she bats them away.

I break contact for a moment and raise a questioning eyebrow.

“My turn.” She lifts her hands, cups my cheeks, and then she strokes my jaw. Reverently. Hungrily. And I know what she’s doing. She’s feeling my beard. She’s touching my stubbled jaw with eager fingers, as if she’s wanted to get her hands on me for as long as I’ve wanted to touch her.

I don’t stop her. I drop my hands to her hips, and I guide her along, moving her so she grinds against my cock, and she’s gasping and murmuring as she kisses me.

We consume each other. We are ravenous. My brain turns to static, firing pleasure signal after pleasure signal to every nerve in my body. I want to live in this moment for the rest of the night. I don’t ever want to forget how good it feels not only to kiss her, but to be kissed by her.

She rocks harder, goes faster, murmurs louder, then she separates and looks at me with desperate eyes. “You have no idea.”

I shake my head. “I do. I have every idea.”

Hard Wood Teaser

about the author

Lauren BlakelyA #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than eighty times, and she’s sold more than 2 million books. In October she’ll release HARD WOOD, a sexy, standalone romantic comedy. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Newsletter ** Goodreads

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The White Lily (Vampire Blood #3) by Juliette Cross-Reviews, Excerpt & Giveaway

The White Lily (Vampire Blood #3) by Juliette Cross-Reviews, Excerpt & Giveaway

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THE WHITE LILY
Vampire Blood #3
by Juliette Cross
Release Date: October 23, 2017
Genre: adult, paranormal, romance, vampires

The White Lily

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 23, 2017

To the north of the Varis empire, a mysterious faction spreads propaganda against the vampire monarchy. Friedrich Volya, the Duke of Winter Hill, seeks to discover who they are before his uncle finds them first. King Dominik will punish the traitors with brutal force.

Local schoolteacher, the raven-haired Brennalyn, is on her own mission—to spy on the duke and discover what she can for the Black Lily. She longs to help the commonwealth and bring justice to the many orphans left behind from the ravages of the blood madness, like the children she lovingly keeps in her care. What she doesn’t plan for is the heart-pounding attraction she feels for the duke, enemy to the Black Lily.

But when Brennalyn’s secret puts her life and the life of her children in danger, Friedrich steps in as her protector, she finds out there’s more to the duke than she thought.

•••••••••

Reading Order and Previous Reviews
The Black Lily
The Red Lily
The White Lily

Sandy’s Review:

THE WHITE LILY is the third installment in Juliette Cross’s adult, paranormal VAMPIRE BLOOD romance series (formerly known as The Tales of the Black Lily series). This is vampire Friedrich Volya, Duke of Winter Hill, and schoolteacher Brennalyn Snow’s story line. THE WHITE LILY can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty although I recommend reading the series in order as there is an ongoing premise throughout.

SOME BACKGROUND: The Black Lily is an underground movement that is attempting to take down the royal vampire family, and their army of Legionnaires who are obliterating village after village in a frenzied blood madness known as the sanguine furorem.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Friedrich and Brennalyn) THE WHITE LILY continues to search for supporters of The Black Lily, and to prove the existence of a new threat known as The White Lily. Brennalyn Snow is a human female; a twenty three year old schoolteacher who is the foster mother to seven orphans ranging in age from preschool to late teens. But Brennalyn has a secret identity that if revealed would threaten her life and the lives of the children she loves. Enter Friedrich Volya, the Duke of Winter Hill, and a member of the reigning royal vampire family. What ensues is the building relationship between Friedrich and Brennalyn, and the potential fall out when Brennalyn’s true identity is revealed.

Friedrich Volya is no stranger to the people of Terrington, a small village of humans under the Duke’s rule but Brennalyn Snow has caught the eye of the handsome vampire Duke-a Duke who is willing to do anything to make Brennalyn his mate an his own. Brennalyn knows that once her true identity is revealed, the Duke will have no choice but to punish the woman with whom he is falling in love. What Brennalyn doesn’t know is that the Duke is also estranged from the ruling vampire family-a family of murderous, power hungry vampires who are determined to destroy and control all of the humans.

THE WHITE LILY brushes and tugs snippets of fantasy ala Snow White and The Seven Dwarves with the inclusion of vampires, wolf-shifters, huntsman and poisonous fruit. Brennalyn ‘Snow’ and her seven little children will fall victim to the evil Queen, when a magical mirror reveals all to the other side.

THE WHITE LILY is a story of adventure; of action, forbidden romance and the ongoing war between human and vampires. The ruling elite are determined to control the embittered humans of the surrounding territories but some of their own are slowly taking up arms to battle on the side of The Black Lily against the family in control. The premise is entertaining and engaging; the characters are sexy, strong willed and charismatic; the romance is seductive, energetic and provocative.

Barb’s Review:

The White Lily by Juliette Cross is the 3rd book in her fantastic Vampire Blood series. I loved the first two books in this series, and was amazed how Juliette Cross just keeps on giving us another fantastic story.  Seriously folks, if you have not read Juliette Cross, you are missing a wonderful author, who never fails to wow us each and every time.

 In the first book of this series, The Black Lily, the themed fairy tale background was Cinderella; in The Red Lilly it was Red Riding Hood,  and in The White Lilly, it is Snow White.  We meet our wonderful sweet heroine, Brennalyn Snow, who is a school teacher in Terrington, and she also has adopted 7 homeless children.  Brenna has been visiting the lands of the Duke of Winter Hill to spy on him.  Why? She is a supporter of The Black Lily, but unbeknownst to everyone, she is secretly The White Lily, who prints out propaganda against the vampire monarchy. 

Friedrich Volya, is the Duke of Winter Hill and our hero.  One day he has one of his men bring Brenna to him, to find out why she is spying on him; he is suspicious as to who she supports.  Friedrich, whom we met in the last book, is a full supporter to the Black Lily, and hates his evil uncle, King Dominik; but he has to put on an act that he supports the monarch or he will be marked as a traitor.

Despite their suspicions of each other, in a short time their attraction becomes something neither can avoid.  Brenna does not want any relationship and knows she does not fit with the Duke for long term.  Friedrich finds himself besotted with the beautiful sweet Brennalyn, and is determined to make her his.  Friedrich knows he must protect Brenna, since the King is looking for the White Lily, and he moves her to his mansion, with her 7 children.  I have to say, I adored the children, which was such an excellent added element to the story.   Watching them with Friedrich or his men was sweet, and it also helped bring Brenna and him together.

What follows is a very exciting adventure that will have Friedrich, his men (The Bloodguard) and Brenna attempt a rescue that will put her life in danger, as well as all of them.  As we raced to the pulse pounding climax, I loved seeing those we met in the first two books join the battle.  I loved Friedrich and Brennalyn together, as they had great chemistry together, and made such a great couple.  Juliette Cross has given us wonderful characters in all three books, as well as flawlessly moving the story along cohesively. 

Vampire Blood is a fantastic series, and so very well written by Juliette CrossThe White Lily was another fantastic ride.  I can’t get enough of this series, with so many great characters, sexy couples, and bad villains.  You need to be reading this series, if you have not done so yet. 

Excerpt

 

On the next turn, he pulled her close, till her breasts brushed his chest. The friction, as brief as it was, rasped her nipples. She gasped then quickly clamped her mouth shut, trying to put some distance between them. But he was in full control, his large frame engulfing her, his intimidating presence swallowing her with each turn.

“Your dress is quite beautiful on you.” He ignored her question entirely. “So much more appealing than your gray frocks.”

“What is wrong with my frocks?”

“They’re hideous.”

She gasped. “My frocks are entirely suitable to a woman of my role in society.”

“And what role is that? An old crone?” She caught his mischievous smile. He was goading her. And it was working.

“An unmarried woman. The town’s schoolteacher.”

He scoffed, slowing their waltz. “You think yourself a spinster at three and twenty? I think not. I’m going to burn every one of them when I get the chance.”

“Your Grace. You will do no such thing. You have no right to destroy any of my possessions.”

He grinned and slowed their forward movement to a stop, drawing her even closer. She tried to step from his embrace, but he held her good.

“Your Grace?”

“I’m not quite sure you know what’s happening between us, Miss Snow. But let me be clear. Those hideous rags are not worthy of your luscious body. Not worthy of you. You may try to hide your beauty behind drab colors and formless frocks and tight buns. But I see what’s beneath. And I want—no, I will have you in all your glory. Therefore, prepare yourself to be draped in silk quite soon.”

She saw the lion in the man, gazing down at her with steadfast calm and confidence. All of which was breathtaking and alluring. She spent the majority of her life trying to order and control her surroundings, only to find her world tilted at every turn. She wondered how the duke would feel to lose his control.

“It must be very difficult,” she said.

“What must be difficult?” He swept her away from clumsy Mr. Powell, who nearly barreled into them with his dance partner.

“Believing that you own everyone you meet.”

“You wound me. I don’t believe that at all.”

“Really? You just stated as if it were a decree that I’d be draped in silk. What if I don’t like silk?”

His smoldering smile made her knees buckle. “Come now, Miss Snow.” He leaned close to her ear, his lip brushing the shell as he whispered on the turn, “If not a silk dress, how about silk sheets?”

She laughed, his naughty teasing bringing a heated flush to her face. “You’re most improper for a royal duke.”

“Thank you,” he said with a smirk. “I do my best.”

“It wasn’t a compliment.”

“It most certainly was.”

She narrowed her gaze. “Well, whatever you may believe, I’d like to clarify that you do not own me, Your Grace.”

“I don’t want to own you, kitten. I want to possess you.”

“There is no difference.”

“Indeed. There is.”

Eyes darkening and hooded in shadow, she caught them drifting over her face before they landed on her mouth. His own parted slightly.

“Your Grace,” she warned, “if you are making plans to kiss me on the dance floor, let me tell you that it will not be welcome.”

“All right. Will it be welcome in my carriage on the way home?”

She arched her brow. “Are you always so forward with ladies you’re trying to woo?”

“No. Indeed not. I’m usually much more charming, but you seem to bring out the beast in me, Miss Snow. I’d rather skip all the games and get straight to the prize.”

>


 

About The author

Juliette CrossJuliette is a multi-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance and lives in lush, moss-laden Louisiana where she lives with her husband, four kids, and black lab, Kona. She loves reading and writing brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes.

From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.

 

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Swan Song by Charlotte Wilson – a Review

Swan Song by Charlotte Wilson – a Review

 

Swan SongAmazon

Description:
LOVE AND LONGING IN THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF LONDON

When iconic ballerina Beatrice Duvall died, a nation mourned – and a legacy was born. Sixteen years later, her daughter Ava comes to London to take part in a high-profile tribute to Beatrice, and to learn about the mother she never knew.

There’s just one snag: the tribute is a ballet, Swan Lake. Which is infinitely painful for Ava, because she can’t dance. Won’t dance. Not since she quit the Royal Ballet School last year and walked away from everything that defined her.

But this is London, colourful and crazy, and with actor Seb at her side, there’s so much to discover. Like Theatreland razzmatazz and rooftop picnics and flamingo parties. And a whole load of truths Ava never knew about her mother – and herself.

When the time comes to take the stage, will Ava step out of the shadow cast by her mother’s pedestal? And who will be waiting for her there, in the bright lights?

A coming-of-age novel about family and first love, in the city of hopes and dreams.

 

 

Review:

Sixteen year old Ava Hadley has always lived in the shadow of her mother, Royal Ballet Principal ballerina Beatrice Duvall. It’s been sixteen years since her mother passed away, and she is now in London to represent her family at high profile tribute to Beatrice. Ava realizes that this trip will give her the opportunity to learn more about the mother she has never known. But she isn’t quite sure what London will bring.

Upon arrival in London she is meant to stay with her mother’s best friend,  Thisbe and her two sons – Noah and Seb. But th moment she arrives – everything is strangely familiar to her.  Is she ready to learn things she never would have imagined about her mother? And in learning more about mother, does she find herself? 

I enjoyed the character of Ava from the moment I met her, as she is young, spunky and full of life.  Ava was once on her way to becoming an amazing dancer her like her mother, but she walked away from it all.  Being in London, in the place where her mother was so fabulous and revered,  she learns more about her mother.  She begins to step out of her mother’s shadow and into her own!   Ava explores the woman her mother was, and the reason behind her death, and as the reader, you too want to know.  The story is gut-wrenching and devastating all at the same time;  pulling us in as the story unfolds!

Seb Wright is a wonderful, energetic character. And exactly what Ava needs. When she isn’t sure of her place and where she is supposed to be – he knows exactly where that is and is there to remind her. A friendship that spans the test of time! 

Swan Song by Charlotte Wilson is a wonderful story of finding yourself, stepping out of your parent’s shadows and just being who you are supposed to be!  Highly recommend coming of age, theatrical, magical, ballet romance! I would love if this story continues, if we could continue on with the beauty that Ava becomes. 

Reviewed by Erin

Copy supplied for review

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Nailed It by Cindi Madsen- a review

NAILED IT by Cindi Madsen-a review

Nailed It

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 23, 2017

I’m Ivy Clarke. Bartender, best friend, and disbeliever in love.
And now I’m in over my head, trying to flip a house all by myself.
Thanks, HGTV.

I’m not too proud to admit I need some help. Too bad the only one who can help me is the same man I want to throw out this house’s second-story window.
Jackson Gamble and I can’t be in the same room together for more than a minute without devolving into a sparring match.

Except for that one time…

But enough about that. Jackson’s looking for forever, and I don’t believe in love, remember? Get in. Renovate. Get out. Keep my heart firmly in tact.
Because it’s much easier to fix up a house than a broken heart.

Full of humor and dripping with delicious tension, Nailed It proves that every heart can be ready for a little rehabilitation, if only you’re willing to open it up.

•••••••••

REVIEW: NAILED IT by Cindi Madsen is a stand alone, contemporary, adult romance story line focusing on building contractor Jackson Gamble, and bartender Ivy Clarke. We were first introduced to our couple in the author’s 12 Steps to Mr. Right. Ivy is Lincoln Wells’ cousin; Jackson is Savannah’s brother.

Told from first person point of view (Ivy Clarke) NAILED IT follows the acrimonious relationship between bartender Ivy Clarke, and building contractor Jackson Gamble. Ivy is hoping to ‘rehab’ and flip the house where her fondest memories of childhood began but our heroine struggles with the overwhelming amount of work, and a lack of funds to complete the job. Enter carpenter and contractor Jackson Gamble, Ivy’s ‘one week stand’, and her best friend’s brother. What ensues is the building relationship and love between Ivy and Jackson, and the fall out as Ivy struggles with her inability to trust, and her mother’s history of broken relationships.

Ivy Clark wants nothing to do with relationships, love or a long term commitment. Her mother’s history of different men, in and out of our heroine’s life, leaves Ivy struggling with an inability to trust or ever fall in love. Ivy has her own ’12 Step’ program she follows to ensure that her own happily ever after never occurs but she battles the loneliness of an empty bed, and a series of hopeless one-night stands. Jackson Gamble is hoping to settle down but the woman that calls to his heart refuses to acknowledge her attraction to, and the palpable sexual energy between them. As Jackson slowly works his way into our heroine’s heart, Ivy believes their time together expires with the sale of the house.

The relationship between Ivy and Jackson is a second chance romance. Years before Ivy pushed Jackson out of her life when their relationship began to take on something more permanent. Months of caustic back and forth banter would lead to a temporary truce as the couple battle their attraction working together. The $ex scenes are mostly implied or fade to black.

NAILED IT is a sweet story of romance; of one woman’s struggle to rise above her mother’s past; and one man’s battle with his attraction to a woman too jaded to give love a chance. The premise is cute and endearing; the characters are lively; the romance is delightful and charming.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of book one 12 STEPS TO MR. RIGHT

Copy supplied by the publisher

Reviewed by Sandy

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Broken Rebel (Lawless Kings #2) by Sherilee Gray-a review

BROKEN REBEL (Lawless Kings #2) by Sherilee Gray-a review

Broken Rebel

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 10, 2017

They used to be best friends…but now, all they do is fight each other at every turn. She’s loved him since he saved her from her evil stepmother all those years ago. He’s sworn to never love her for fear of tainting her innocence with his criminal past.
What do you do when the one person you love is the one person you can’t have?

•••••••••••••

REVIEW: BROKEN REBEL is the second installment in Sherilee Gray’s contemporary, adult LAWLESS KINGS erotic, romantic suspense series focusing on the men and women who work for King Agency doing personal protection and security, private investigation (corporate and domestic) and high-risk fugitive recovery, missing persons and kidnapping investigations. This is King Security tracker Neco Malik , and King Agency receptionist Ruby Styles’ story line. BROKEN REBEL can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous installments is revealed where necessary.

Told from dual first person points of view (Ruby and Neco) SHATTERED REBEL looks at the friends to lovers relationship between King Agency employees Ruby Styles and Neco Malik. Growing up on the mean streets meant Neco was all about protecting the people whom he loved including his childhood friend Ruby Styles. The early years were never good for our leading couple but Ruby suffered at the hands of the people who were tasked with loving and caring for our younger heroine. Fast forward to present day where Ruby finds herself on the outside looking in as the man she has always loved looks beyond the woman to see the child within. Hoping to gain respect and their trust Ruby sets about proving she is just as capable as the men she works for at the King Agency by seeking employment somewhere else. But Ruby’s life is about to get a whole lot worse when our heroine is targeted but an unknown source. What ensues is the building love and fracturing relationship between Ruby and Neco, and the potential fall out when the past come back, looking for revenge.

Neco Malik struggles with his attraction to the woman that calls to his heart. From an early age Ruby saw Neco as her protector and her Superman but Neco believed himself to be the villain, and in doing so, sets about to destroy our heroine’s heart. Ruby’s love for Neco never wavers in the face of our hero’s less than stellar actions and attitude, including his attempts to dissuade Ruby through intimidation and threats.

The relationship between Ruby and Neco is a friends to lovers, back and forth friendship wherein Ruby believes that to be accepted she must prove herself worthy by walking away and never looking back. Neco’s need for Ruby is palpable but his treatment of our heroine is questionable including the push and pull of sexual attraction. Saying that, Ruby knows how to push Neco’s buttons as well, including going rogue as she sets out to meet up with a potential threat to her life. The co-dependent relationship between Ruby and Neco borders on heartbreaking and problematic. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic and intense.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including Hunter King and his fiancee Lulu Frost (Shattered King #1), Hunter’s older brother Van King, and their guardian Raul Esposito; King Agency employees: former police officer Jude Wayland, and ex-navy SEAL sniper Zeke Stanton. We are introduced to Ruby’s roommate Scott, PI Harry Hains, as well as Neco’s mother Celeste Malik. The requisite evil has many familiar faces.

The world building continues to look at the camaraderie between the King Agency employees, most of who have known one another for most of the lives. The simmering relationship and attraction between Ruby and Neco is apparent to everyone but Neco refuses to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

BROKEN REBEL is a story of family and friendship; of one man’s struggle to move on from the past, and one woman’s need to be accepted for the woman she has become. The premise is engaging and emotional; the characters are broken, colorful and charismatic; the romance struggles in the face of unrequited love, perceived notions and one man’s battle with his demons.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of book one-SHATTERED KING

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

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Faithless Elector / Dark Network by James McCrone-Reviews, Guest Post & Giveaway

Faithless Elector/ Dark Network (Imogen Trager Series 1 & 2) by James McCrone-Reviews, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Dark Network
Imogen Trager #2
by James McCrone
Genre: adult, contemporary, political suspense, thriller
Release Date: October 20, 2017

Dark Network

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 20, 2017

The FBI is leaking, the Attorney General is being undermined, politicians are spinning, and social media is in an uproar. No, it’s not another day at the White House, but the world of Dark Network.

Imogen Trager, the determined heroine of the “highly suspenseful” Faithless Elector is still searching for the truth, and the nation is without a president-elect. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network—even her own colleagues—to defeat the conspiracy to steal the presidency. Left on the edges of the investigation, she joins forces with Trey Kelly, an FBI network specialist, also a Bureau outsider. Together, they struggle to find the back door the conspirators may have left unlocked. They’ll have to hurry. There’s only a month until the inauguration of a new president..

••••

REVIEW: DARK NETWORK is the second installment in James McCrone’s contemporary, adult IMOGEN TRAGER political drama, suspense thriller series focusing on FBI Agent Imogen ‘Gen’ Trager and the investigation into the electoral process of the United States of America. DARK NETWORK can be read as a stand alone but I recommend reading the series in order as Dark Network picks up immediately after the events of book one Faithless Elector.

NOTE: If you have not read FAITHLESS ELECTOR there may be some spoilers in my review. DARK NETWORK and FAITHLESS ELECTOR are fictional story lines and do not reflect the current political situation in the USA (conspiracy theories, aside).

Told from several third person points of view DARK NETWORK begins three days after the events of book one Faithless Elector wherein Agent Imogen Trager and Professor Duncan Calder uncovered a political nightmare of voter tampering and murder for hire in an effort to elect Republican James Christopher to the highest office in the land.

Imogen Trager has been held in seclusion by the FBI where she now faces an interrogation about the events leading to the death of rogue FBI agent Thomas Kurtz, and the shooting of her boss Agent Doug Pollack, and lover Duncan Calder. With the mysterious deaths of seven ‘electors’ and the murder of three more ‘faithless electors’ Imogen and the FBI will continue to search for the ‘dark network’ responsible starting with the voter discrepancies in Illinois. Imogen’s own investigation will pull in the FBI’s underground IT specialist Trey Kelly allowing the Agents and investigators to follow a group of unfamiliar names with connections to high ranking officials both in and out of the political eye. What ensues is the intense and thrilling manhunt as, once again, the ongoing discovery of a broken trail of bodies will hopefully lead to the people in charge.

DARK NETWORK looks at the American electoral process including the damaging potential of voter fraud; of ballot stuffing; threats and intimidation at the highest levels; and a murderous plot to ensure the ‘right’ candidate is ‘elected’ to the job. The intrigue is heart pounding; the action is full throttle; the threats are real but the sources indeterminate. The FBI knows there is a mole amid their ranks but uncovering the truth reveals a deeper connection to an unnamed source.

James McCrone pulls the reader into an exciting and tension filled tale that will captivate your imagination; blow your mind about potential conspiracies; and make you wonder when it all went wrong. Fiction that reads like reality; reality that feels like fiction-you be the judge where the black and white slowly bleeds into grey.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

___________________

Faithless ElectorFAITHLESS ELECTOR
(Imogen Trager #1)
by James McCrone
Genre: adult, contemporary, political, suspense, thriller

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / BAM / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 2016

Everyone thought the election was over… A young researcher uncovers a series of mysterious deaths among Electors and must race against time and a secret, deadly efficient conspiracy. In an era characterized as cynical and paranoid, Faithless Elector poses a creditable threat to the integrity of the electoral process and the selection of the president. Faithless Elector is a timely, compelling novel for our turbulent times.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: FAITHLESS ELECTOR is the first installment in James McCrone’s contemporary, adult IMOGEN TRAGER political suspense thriller series focusing on FBI Agent Imogen ‘Gen’ Trager and the investigation into the electoral process of the USA. This is thirty two year old FBI Agent and statistician Imogen Trager and forty seven year old Political Science Professor Duncan Calder’s story line.

NOTE: FAITHLESS ELECTOR is a fictional story line and does not reflect the current political situation in the USA (conspiracy theories, aside).

SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION and DEFINITIONS: In the USA ‘Faithless Electors’ are members of the Electoral College who do not vote for their party’s designated candidate.(http://www.fairvote.org/faithless_electors )

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. A state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for the State’s Senators. The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the presidential election. The electors meet in their respective states, where they cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots. Each state’s electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.

The President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the Presidential election.(https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html )

Told from several third person points of view including Imogen Trager and Duncan Calder FAITHLESS ELECTOR follows the investigation into the fictional 2016 US Presidential election wherein Diane Redmond is elected the first female president of the United States with an Electoral College difference of only four votes 271- 267. Graduate student Matthew Yamashita, under the mentorship of Professor Duncan Calder, begins his doctoral dissertation on party identification beginning with an analysis of the recent election, and the examination of the members of the Electoral College only to discover a series of anomalies including the ‘accidental’ deaths of seven electors. Matthew’s research will catch the attention of some powerful people who will leave a trail of bodies in their wake including Matthew himself. Enter Duncan Calder and his former Political Science student FBI Agent Imogen Trager who will be caught in a storm of mystery and intrigue involving the FBI, Attorney General, and the powerful political elite.

We are introduced to grad student Matthew Yamashita; Imogen’s FBI partner Agent Thomas Kurtz, and her boss Agent Doug Pollack.

FAITHLESS ELECTOR reads like a sociological study; a political science and statistical crash course into the United States election process and the fall out of voter tampering at the highest levels. The intrigue is heart pounding as Duncan is targeted by an unknown source that is determined to shut down anyone connected with Matthew and Duncan’s original investigation. A cross country journey finds our hero struggling to survive as each step closer to the truth brings Duncan closer to his own demise. With FBI Agent Imogen Trager working alongside, our couple will be caught in political war of conspiracy, not of their making, as they face down the people willing to kill for their own agenda and candidate.

James McCrone writes an amazing and timely thriller with a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure; a fast paced, intense story of political intrigue and mystery; a relevant look into the political process and the real potential for fraudulent elections. The premise is intellectually stimulating, engaging and realistic; the characters are colorful, inspiring and passionate. FAITHLESS ELECTOR is a fascinating and riveting look at the conceivability of the unimaginable.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Guest post-White and Red

Sailing Too Close to the Wind
by James McCrone

A well-crafted political thriller should feel “real.” To do so, it has to flirt with real events. But sometimes I worry I’m sailing just a bit too close to the wind.

In search of verisimilitude, an author works to capture the mood of a given time, to color the scene with familiar, plausible events. I wrote the draft of Faithless Elector years ago, and it was finally published it March of 2016, long before either candidate was even the their party’s nominee. Frankly, as someone writing a thriller, I was less interested in what was really happening, than in working to capture the mood of the time, the sharp, singed odor of righteous, sanctimonious, incendiary anger; the mistrust and the erosion of constitutional order. That, itself, proved to be too close to the truth.

The book, of course, is not about this most recent presidential campaign, but about what could have happened. Indeed, it could all still happen: the weaknesses in the Electoral College system exploited by the Faithless Elector conspirators, sadly, are all too real. Worse, despite my best efforts to remain fictional, Faithless Elector presaged real-world Faithless Electors casting protest votes, as well as a campaign calling the very act of voting into question and using vote-rigging as a campaign tactic. There were even “manufactured” news stories. (How I wish I’d thought to call it “fake news!”)

In both books, the technical aspects of the conspiracy were the hardest for me to get right. In Faithless Elector I had to become something of an expert on Electors and the Electoral College. I had to ground myself in Constitutional law and statistical analysis models—not so I could bore you with it, gentle readers, but so I could portray those aspects accurately and maintain the pace of a page-turning thriller. Obviously, Faithless Elector doesn’t end in the same way as the true election. It was never meant as prophecy. Nevertheless, I wondered and worried about sailing my fictional course too close to the wind. I comforted myself, wrongly it turns out, that Dark Network would not be so potentially controversial or inadvertently relevant. How wrong I was!

As I worked to finish the draft with my editor back in April, the news was full of hacking, chicanery and fake news; and worse, the FBI itself had come under scrutiny, had itself become part of the story. Unfortunately (for me), to write Dark Network, I also had to become versed in the workings of the FBI, its hierarchy, its processes. I had to do research on how to track and hack cell phones, how to mask GPS signals. I had to figure out how much information was shared between clandestine organizations and the FBI, under what circumstances and by what mechanisms. At one point, I worried the FBI would come knocking, wondering what I was up to!

The epigram for Dark Network comes from Adam Smith, the 18th century Scottish philosopher: “Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.”

Dark Network is about power. The umbral conspirators are bent on taking power for themselves at the expense of everything we hold dear. The chilling, dark recognition at the heart of the plot is that the conspirators would say they were seizing power in order to preserve everything we hold dear. They are doing the right thing, they would say. And people who are doing the right thing are rarely troubled by scruples or conscience. Why would they be?

The tension for the characters in the novel centers on how far they’re prepared to go in defense of their own principles before they’ve abandoned them all. Let’s hope there are fewer real-world analogues this time out. But, given how many things I’ve written have come to pass, when you read the third and final book in the series, Consent of the Governed (fall 2018), you’ll know why I dread the sharp knock at the door.

About The Author

Follow James: Website / Twitter /Facebook / Goodreads

James McCroneJames McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager novels, Faithless Elector and Dark Network, suspense-thrillers about clandestine threats to the presidency. Coming next, Consent of the Governed!

James’s work both on an off the page deals with justice, politics and issues of personal and social responsibility. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is back in the US, in Philadelphia, after a year abroad in Oxford, UK.

giveaway

James is graciously offering a signed, paper copy of FAITHLESS ELECTOR to ONE (1) lucky commenter, and a signed paper copy of DARK NETWORK to ONE (1) other lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.

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4. LIKE us on FACEBOOK and then click GET NOTIFICATION under ‘liked’ for an additional entry.

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8. Giveaway open to USA and CANADA only

9.. Giveaway runs from October 21-25, 2017

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In Too Deep (Doing Bad Things #2) by Jordan Marie-Review & Excerpt Tour

IN TOO DEEP (Doing Bad Things #2) by Jordan Marie-Review and Excerpt Tour

In Too Deep Banner

IN TOO DEEP
Doing Bad Things #2
by Jordan Marie
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romance

In Too Deep

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Nook / Kobo / iBooks

ABOUT THE BOOK: RELEASE DATE October 17, 2017

I did a bad thing.

I did a really bad thing.

I’m not a bad person, I swear. I just made a few mistakes.

Mistake number one was agreeing to rent my hotel out to an insufferable a**hole, named Aden Smith¬.

Mistake number two was ignoring his threats to sue me when he handed over a list of items he deemed “unacceptable”.

Mistake number three was diving into the pool to save his life when he fell. It would have been less complicated to hide his body.

When the hospital refuses to let me know how he is, I panic.

Claiming to be his wife might be my biggest mistake yet—especially when he believes me!

He might have been the one drowning, but I’m sinking in a bed of lies, going down fast—and there’s not a rescue in sight.

••••••••••

REVIEW: IN TOO DEEP is the second installment in Jordan Marie’s contemporary, adult DOING BAD THINGS erotic, romance series. This is forty year old Hollywood movie star Aden McIntyre, and twenty six year old single mom / motel owner Hope Lucas. IN TOO DEEP can be read as a stand alone story without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary. Aden McIntyre is connected to our story line heroine through her cousin White, and his friend Gavin O’Leary (GOING DOWN HARD #1).

Told from dual first person perspectives (Hope and Aden) IN TOO DEEP follows the acrimonious relationship built upon the ongoing lies between Hollywood actor Aden McIntyre, and single mom/motel owner Hope Lucas. Aden McIntyre is tired of the Hollywood scene and the fame-hungry starlets when he walks away from his latest picture deal into the anonymity of Clancy, Idaho, population six hundred. With a recommendation from Gavin’s friend White, Aden heads to the Hard Acres Motel where his life will take an unexpected and disastrous turn. Enter Hope Lucas, White’s cousin, and the woman with whom Aden will fall in love. What ensues is the building but deceptive relationship between Aden and Hope, and the fall out when the truth is finally revealed.

When Hope Lucas inherited the Hard Acres Motel in Clancy Idaho, our heroine had no idea the mess of which she was walking into. With renovations only partially complete, and no readily available cash to continue the work, Hope considers walking way until her ‘first’ customer arrives two weeks early demanding a room, and a place to stay. Aden McIntyre wants nothing to do with Hope Lucas, and her run-down motel but our hero is desperate to escape, and pushes our heroine into a two week deal. The back and forth, excessively angry confrontations, name calling, and bitter feud will end when Aden lands in the hospital without any memory of past. A small lie will snowball into the scam of the century as Hope claims to be Aden’s wife, and immediately begins to turn Aden’s life into a comedy of errors as the lies continue to build-one after another.

IN TOO DEEP is a story of deception; of one woman’s desperate need to feel wanted; and one man’s desire to escape the world from which he belonged. The believability aspect to the story line is limited; I had a difficult time with the continuous, ongoing, over the top lies and fabrications that snowballed into an unimaginable and preposterous backstory for one man whose memories were wiped clean by a pool side accident. Not withstanding the couple’s original acrimonious and hate filled, rude and crude introduction, the lies spewed and fabricated history by our story line heroine is questionable on so many levels. In the end my sympathies leaned towards Aden McIntyre as Hope Lucas continued the ruse for weeks.

On one level the story line could have been a great romantic comedy but the couple’s introduction and their original treatment of one another revealed a distasteful and offensive side to each of the story line characters; the language was cutting, meant to hurt and inflict damage-the use of a certain four-letter word is caustic. The premise is engaging; the characters are impulsive and spirited; the romance is heartbreaking-forged by deception and lies.

I am probably in the minority with my review ;I wanted to accept the circumstances presented but the believeability was lacking on so many levels. I need to be pulled into a story that resonates with my emotions but I could not get past Hope and Aden’s original treatment of one another, and the heroine’s ongoing deception and bizarre tale of lies.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

In Too Deep Teaser

Excerpt beige

 

Aden

I planned to apologize. Really—I did. I was dreading it. In my experience when you apologize to a woman you show them weakness, and with weakness they smell blood. It never ends well. Still, I shouldn’t have said what I did about her. I was going to the office to say I’m sorry, see if there was literature about where I can find a place with take-out food and leave—quickly.
One thing stops me.
I open the door to the office and this small boy comes running out at me, completely naked. He slaps his hands against my legs, just reaching above my knee. I stop quickly so I don’t plow him over.
“You my Daddy?” he asks. I know nothing about kids, but I do know one of the last things I ever want to hear from one are those words. His question strikes fear in my heart, but the fact his hands are covered in some dark brown unknown substance terrifies me. I watch as it smears across the legs of my favorite jeans. I’m not sure what it is, but he’s not wearing any clothes—including a diaper. Do kids his size wear diapers?
“Jack! You get back here right now young man!”
“Daddy!”
The child screams the name like it’s being torn from his heart, the moment White’s cousin captures him in her arms and pulls him away. The scream is so piercing I wince.
“Do you need something?” she asks over the noise. Her face instantly hardens, whereas just a moment ago she was smiling, even chasing after her son.
“Does he belong to you?” I ask, all thoughts of giving an apology gone. My voice is that of a growl really. It seems this woman brings out the worst in me.
“I—”
“He destroyed my clothes.”
Her eyes go round and briefly I notice she has brown eyes…almost as dark as whatever the child rubbed all over me.
“Daddy!” he screams again, and the woman’s face blushes a deep red.
“Hush, Jack. That’s not your Daddy,” she hisses.
“He doesn’t know who his father is?” I don’t bother keeping the censure out of my voice. This entire revelation doesn’t surprise me. I’m making a mental note to punch White in the face the next time I see him.
“It’s just chocolate. It will come out of your pants. You should probably flush it with club soda or…”
“Do I look like I do laundry?”
“Well—”
“Does your hotel even have laundry service?”
“There’s a laundry mat in town,” she says defensively.
“Charming.”
“Daddy!” the child screams again.
“Listen, Jack and I were—”
“Wrestling in chocolate?”
“Is there something you need?” she all but growls, her face tight with irritation.

 

About The Author beige

A QUIRKY WRITER GOING WHERE THE VOICES TAKE HER.
USA Today Best Selling Author Jordan Marie, is just a simple small town country girl who is haunted by Alpha Men who talk in her head 24 hours a day.

She currently has 14 books out including 2 that she wrote under the pen name Baylee Rose.

She likes to create a book that takes you on an emotional journey whether tears, laughter (or both) or just steamy hot fun (or all 3). She loves to connect with readers and interacting with them through social media, signings or even old fashioned email.

Twitter  Facebook  Web Goodreads  Amazon

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The Billionaire’s Holiday Engagement by Jenna Bayley-Burke – a Review

The Billionaire’s Holiday Engagement by Jenna Bayley-Burke – a Review

 

The Billionaire's Holiday EngagementAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM

Description:
Venture capitalist Cameron Price is a workaholic and great at his job, but his boss is convinced Cam needs a more balanced life. A wife on his arm would prove Cam’s the right man to take over the company. When a gorgeous caterer cooks up the perfect event and catches Cam’s eye, he proposes an innovative arrangement they’ll both benefit from. 

Lauren Brody knows Cam’s plan is crazy, but pretending to be his fiancée will allow her access to networking at events she’d never get into otherwise. It could be just the break she needs to get her catering business on the map and book the kind of clients she’s always dreamed of cooking for.

If she can convince Mr. Buttoned Up Tight to have some unscheduled fun along the way, theirs could be a perfect arrangement. 

 


Review;

Having had the chance to read a previous book by Jenna Bayley-Burke and enjoying that one, I knew I was in for another fun read by this author.  After reading The Billionaire’s Holiday Engagement I can safely say that Ms. Bayley-Burke did not disappoint.  The Billionaire’s Holiday Engagement is another fun, flirty, sexually charged story complete with a strong hero and heroine in Cameron and Lauren.  Ms. Bayley-Burke wrote a well balanced story filled with enough sexual tension to keep the fires at a simmering point.  Lauren and Cameron carry the story with ease and make it believable and real.  I quite enjoyed Lauren and Cameron together as a couple. I found them to be fun and quirky, but with a professional drive that sometimes got in the way of romance and relationships. It’s almost as if both were using their professions as an excuse to really get close to someone and give themselves the chance to fall in love with that special someone. 

As Cameron and Lauren play out Cameron’s crazy plan of pretending they are engaged is when the fun really starts.  It’s during this crazy plan where we start to see their feelings about relationships and each other change.  It was fun to watch this scenario play out and watch the sexual tension between the two escalate to the boiling point.  It was nice that Ms. Bayley-Burke didn’t just toss the two together once Lauren agreed to Cameron’s crazy plan. I liked that there was that sexual tension between Lauren and Cameron, it kept things interesting between them and also helped to showcase their changing feelings towards each other.  I also enjoyed the ensemble of quirky secondary characters who also helped move Lauren and Cameron’s adventure along.  Their interactions are comical at times, but other times brought out bits and pieces of both Cameron and Lauren that maybe we wouldn’t have seen if these characters weren’t involved.  

Ms.Bayley-Burke does a superb job of tying everything together by books end, and for anyone who knows me, then you know I’m not spoiling any plot lines.  Just trust me, go and read the book, its well worth it.  Ms. Bayley-Burke has a knack for writing fun, flirty reads with just the right amount of sexually charged and steamy love scenes to keep you entertained from beginning to end.

Until next time, happy reading!!    

Reviewed by Marcie

Copy provided by Publisher

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