Primal Heat (The Shadow Shifters 6) by A.C. Arthur-Review and Interview with the Author

PRIMAL HEAT (The Shadow Shifters #6) by A.C. Arthur-Review and Interview with the Author

Primal Heat

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / The Book Depository / BAM

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date August 4, 2015

In the savage world of the Shadow Shifters, desire can be as dangerous as nature itself…

As guard to the most powerful shifter in the human world, Eli Preston is sworn to protect his leader, defend their alliance, and keep his darker instincts in check. But when a beautiful female trainee arouses his jaguar senses, there is no stopping the beast within. He must have her. Even if it jeopardizes the deadliest mission of his life…

When the heat is on—and the claws come out—the heart is the fiercest hunter…

For six years, Nivea has been waiting for Eli to take her in his arms, unleash his animal urges, and claim her as his mate. But once their passion is unleashed—in a reckless moment of pure unbridled lust—nothing can ever be the same. The battle lines are drawn: man versus animal, shifter versus shifter. And Eli must be prepared to fight for his life—and his love—or he will lose Nivea forever…

••••••••••••

REVIEW: PRIMAL HEAT is the sixth full length installment in A.C. Arthur’s adult, contemporary SHADOW SHIFTERS paranormal romance series focusing on a breed of feline shifters known as The Shadow Shifters. This is Guardians Eli Preston and Nivea Cannon’s storyline. Because of the developing storyline throughout the series I would suggest new readers to the series start at the beginning for cohesion, history and back story.

Told from several third person perspectives PRIMAL HEAT continues to focus on hunt for the person(s) responsible for threatening to ‘out’ the shifters to the human race. The Shadow Shifters have long hid their supernatural existence; blending into the communities and societies of man but a new species of hybrid is threatening to destroy the peaceful co-existence between man and beast. What ensues is an act of retaliation and revenge against the Shifters by several of their own kind.

Meanwhile, Nivea has known that Eli Preston is her mate but Eli’s history in the jungles of Sierra Leone have left Eli distant, cold and withdrawn. He is a Shadow Shifter Guardian who has come into a secondary power but with it comes memories and the guilt of a time not so long ago. Taking a mate is the last thing Eli wants or needs but it is the touch of a mate that will calm the beast within.

Nivea is a strong, alpha female who isn’t afraid to let Eli know what it is she wants from her mate but Eli continues to refuse to claim the woman that calms his soul. When Nivea’s life is threatened time and again, Eli can’t stop the need to protect and claim the woman with whom he is falling in love. The $ex scenes are intimate, sometimes aggressive, and provocative.

PRIMAL HEAT and thusly the SHADOW SHIFTERS series is an ensemble story with all of the previous storyline couples and characters in secondary and supporting roles. In fact, PRIMAL HEAL follows several developing and existing premises that intersect throughout the story and series.

The world building continues to focus on the Shadow Shifters: their history; their mating; and their struggles to survive. Now that their existence has been revealed their future battles will find them facing off against a different enemy-one that has already started to pass judgment in the face of the unknown.

PRIMAL HEAT is an engaging and character driven storyline with action, suspense, and some disturbing scenarios. The Shadow Shifters face an uncertain future-one filled with the potential for specieism, discrimination, prejudice and the possibility of a disaster on par with ethnic cleansing. Shifters are no longer safe in the world of man; everyone has been targeted now that their secret has been revealed. A.C. Arthur has written a passionate storyline with an all-too familiar historical formula.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

Interview yellow:black

TRC: Hi AC, and welcome to The Reading Cafe. We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Follow AC: Goodreads /Website/ Facebook /Twitter /

AC ArthurAC: I am a full-time paralegal working for a federal judge, a mother of three, and a wife.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

AC: I’ve been reading since the early days of Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I graduated into adult books with Danielle Steele’s Star. During my sophomore year of high school I won a writing contest and from that moment I figured why not write stories and see if others enjoy them.

TRC: PRIMAL HEAT is your August 2015 release in The Shadow Shifters paranormal, romance series. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

AC: Primal Heat is book #6 in the Shadow Shifters series. It brings to a culmination a war that has been brewing between the Shadow Shifters (a group of feline shapeshifters that originated in the Amazon rainforest) and the Rogues (a renegade group of Shadow Shifters). This is also the story of Eli and Nivea, two guards in the shifter world who are sworn to protect their secret. They’re also falling in love, despite Eli’s resistance. It’s a passionate and action-packed love story.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics) did you encounter writing this particular story?

AC: Not really so much as challenging, but I did take a trip to the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor since the big fight scene takes place there. I also continued with the research I’d done for the previous books into the various big cats of the world—jaguars, cheetahs, white lions, white tigers, cougars—as they all play a part in this last story.

Primal HeatTRC: How many books do you have planned for the series? Have you considered writing any novellas to ‘catch up’ with some of the previous storyline couple?

AC: There are currently 6 full length books in this series and three novellas (which give a look into the new adults of the shifter world). I would love to continue writing books in this series, but I’m not sure if that will happen just yet.

TRC: How do you keep the plot unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?

AC: I think that depends on the characters. When I begin writing I have an idea of where the plot is going and how it will all pan out, but the characters’ actions throughout the story sometimes changes things up a bit. For me, that makes the writing itself unpredictable and hopefully does the same for the readers.

TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?

AC: Yes, absolutely. I believe this because as a reader myself, I’m always drawn to the covers first. They’re like a commercial on the shelf for me. I see something pretty or alluring and I immediately want to know what that book is about.

TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?

AC: I outline each book before I begin writing so that I can clearly see my characters’ conflicts, sexual tension and resolution as it will roll out over the course of the book. But again, once I start writing the characters’ personalities really take the lead and while I have a basic road map for them, I tend to let them drive for the most part.

TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?

AC: I think as a writer you have to know these characters as well as you know yourself. If you know them, you will feel what they feel. If you feel what they feel, you’ll be able to convey that on paper and when the reader reads the story they’ll feel it too. It’s very easy to write words, but if you’re not feeling them, they’re just words.

Writing an emotionally charged book can be difficult if the writer isn’t open to these same emotions themselves. We have to believe and feel everything we’ve written if we expect the reader to.

TRC: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the storyline direction? Characters?

AC: Yes! I love listening to music while I write. For the fight scenes in this series I listened to lots of Imagine Dragons and Maroon 5. For the love scenes it was Trey Songz and Justin Timberlake. If you listen to Spotify I have playlists titled ‘Shadow Inspirations’ and ‘Shadow Shifter: Damaged Hearts’.

I like watching movie trailers, so when I listen to music while I write it really helps me to see the scene in my mind and sometimes the song lyrics influence the character’s feelings and actions.

TRC: What three things would you like to accomplish in the next five years?

AC: I don’t even have three things. I just try to take one day at a time. That goes for each book I write, just one at a time and whatever happens does. I believe that whatever accomplishments are meant for me, I will have without focusing too much attention on reaching them.

TRC: Have you collaborated with any other authors/writers? If not, have you considered such an enterprise?

AC: No, I have not. I’ve been asked this question a lot and to be truthful that’s the only time that I actually think about it. LOL

TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?

AC: My family. I have a twenty-three year old son, a twenty-one year old daughter, a fifteen year old daughter and my husband. So I feel like I have a good range of opinions for whatever type of story I’m writing. They’re usually pretty good at telling me what’s ridiculous and what has potential.

TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about authors?

AC: That we’re rich! LOL I was just talking about that at my reader appreciation event. There’s a big misconception about how much money authors really make from their books.

TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?

AC: That I would much rather watch old movies than anything current.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

AC: I’m working on a new series titled Wolf Tales and yes, you guessed it, they’re wolf shifters! This will be an even sexier series than the Shadow Shifters, focusing on the psyche of the shifters and what it takes for each of them to really give in to love.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

AC: Thank you so much for this opportunity!

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food
Cheese

Favorite Dessert
Carrot Cake

Favorite TV Show
I Love Lucy

Last Movie You Saw
Jurassic World

Dark or Milk Chocolate
Dark

Secret Celebrity Crush
Morris Chestnut

Last Vacation Destination
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Do you have any pets?
5 angelfish – one that looks just like Gil from Finding Nemo

Last book you read
I re-read books all the time, so the book I just finished for the billionth time was Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts.

Pet Peeve
Pointing.I hate when people point at me, for any reason. I just don’t like it at all!

TRC: Thank you AC for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on all of your success.

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The Duke’s Disaster / Tremaine’s True Love (True Gentlemen .5 & 1) by Grace Burrowes-Review, Interview and Book Tour

The Duke’s Disaster / Tremaine’s True Love (True Gentlemen .5 & 1) by Grace Burrowes-Reviews, Interview and Book Tour

Tremaine's True Love

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / The Book Depository / BAM / indiebound / ibooks

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date August 4, 2015

Tremaine St. Michael is firmly in trade and seeks only to negotiate the sale of some fancy sheep with the Earl of Haddonfield. The earl’s sister, Lady Nita, is pragmatic, hard-working, and selfless, though Tremaine senses she’s also tired of her charitable obligations and envious of her siblings’ marital bliss. Tremaine, having been raised among shepherds, can spot another lonely soul, no matter how easily she fools her own family. Neither Tremaine nor Nita is looking for love, but love comes looking for them.

••••••••••••

5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

Two more outstanding novels by one of my fave historical romance authors Grace Burrowes. This review is on her first two books of her True Gentlemen series. If you remember (and fell in love with as I did) Nicholas and Ethan (with mentions of other yummy characters) from the Lonely Lords series then you will appreciate this spin off series as it revolves around their sisters finding their true loves.

REVIEW:

We have met Tremaine before in the Lonely Lord series and I loved meeting him once again. Tremaine is a trader by occupation and he is quite successful at it. Coming to see Nicholas to discover if a herd of sheep is a lucrative trade, he also meets Nicholas’s serious sister Nita. Nita is not a lady of her time. She has already classified herself as a spinster and routinely serves the common people (and those cast away by society’s standards) by providing comfort, aide and medical assistance. Tremaine happens to see this quality as a positive attribute seeing as his own life started out not so fortunate. Soon these two find common ground and bluntly allow excess relations to ensure that they “fit” when marriage is discussed. Tremaine believes that Nita will make a fine Duchess, and once her hands are full of Duchess responsibilities, she will be too busy to expose herself to all the dangerous elements that place her life in peril. However, Nita would not be Nita if she gave up what she believes in and what she is good at.

Another well matched couple. Both are very realistic people despite the advantages they both share in life. They deal with common people daily, share a love for what is right and have no time for anything fake. It was heart breaking when they realized that the other refused to give up their lifestyles to marry the other. I also loved that we got more of Nicholas and Leah who just so happened to be one of my fave couples.

Both books were a wonderful start to what I know will be a great spin off series. Grace always writes with a maturity that you do not find in many historical romances novels and this happens to be something I love to expect when I sit down with one her her stories. Her characters always have great depth, and she is wonderful at setting up and making us look forward to her next one.

HAPPY READING!

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Rachel T.

____________________

The Duke's DisasterThe Duke’s Disaster
True Gentlemen .5
by Grace Burrowes
Genre: historical, romance
Release Date: April 7, 2015

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

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Noah Winters, Earl of Anselm, spent months sorting and courting the year’s crop of debutantes in search of an ideal bride. When the sweet, biddable young thing he selected accepts another’s proposal, Noah decides to court her companion instead.

Thea Collins, though, is anything but biddable. She has learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted, especially the handsome ones. When she reluctantly accepts, Noah rushes Thea to the altar before she can reveal her deepest secret. Can she finally move on from her past, or will it come back to haunt her?

••••••••••••

Oh Thea .. my kind of heroine. Mature, set in her beliefs without being insanely stubborn, fair, kind, realistic and protective. She has been working beneath her status of birth due to circumstance and her idiot of a brother’s lifestyle. When she is approached by Noah and agrees to be his Duchess (reluctantly and as a means to an end of certain aspects of her life), she doesn’t realize her heart is about to be pried open and laid out. Noah rushes the nuptials and soon a massive secret is revealed which places mistrust in their path. Both agree to carry on and soon develop a friendship and love of sorts. Trust however goes both ways, and when more secrets surface, these two need to dig deep to discover if their marriage will be one in name only.

I absolutely loved this couple. They bantered back and forth and were truthfully so amazingly playful with the other. For their time, their secrets are rather large, so I found I was rooting for them to find their way through the mess they had made together. They were perfectly matched and it was the little gestures they shared that really endeared this relationship.

Reviewed by Rachel T

 

Interview

TRC: Hi Grace and welcome to The Reading Café.

We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Grace BurrowesFollow Grace: Goodreads/Website/Facebook/Twitter

Grace: I am the sixth out of seven children, which means I was born into a household full of chatter, with words all around me, used at many levels. Excellent luck for a writer! I didn’t t start writing until my Beloved Offspring left for college about ten years ago, and I haven’t stopped yet.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Grace: I am in debt to so many keeper authors. I’ve been reading romance for more than forty years, sometimes at the rate of a book a day. Judith Ivory, historical Judith McNaught, Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase, Julie Anne Long, Madeline Hunter, Eloisa James… We have an embarrassment of talent in the historical romance genre, and those books got me through many tough years.

TRC: Your bio states you have a law degree and a Masters in ‘Conflict Transformation.’ What is Conflict Transformation and have you ever had the opportunity to apply your knowledge to any of your storylines?

Grace: Conflict transformation is a way to talk about turning swords into plowshares, and using differences to build stronger relationships. This is an element of every romance novel, because much of what propels a character along his or her arc is resolving conflicts-between the present and the past, between conflicting demands of honor, between love and fear-and healing the wounds conflict can leave in its wake.

Tremaine's True LoveTRC: Would you please tell us something about your August 2015 release Tremaine’s True Love and your new True Gentlemen Series?

Grace: I met Tremaine St. Michael in an earlier book (Gabriel: Lord of Regrets), and he caught my eye. He’s not long on charm, he’s all business all the time, and he was blathering about marriage being a pragmatic merger of self-interest and expedience… and while he was spouting that tripe, he was searching high and low, tirelessly, for his deceased brother’s child. He had no other family, save an aging Scottish grandfather… Tremaine was a fellow in need of a happily ever after, though he’d be the last to admit it. He’s met his match in Lady Nita Haddonfield, who brings a LOT of family into the equation, no self-interest or expedience, and rather more charm than Tremaine can withstand. The bigger they talk…

The next two stories, Daniel’s True Desire, and Will’s True Wish, are also about gentlemen who think that romance is not for them, and love is for the naïve or the foolishly brave. Nita’s sisters, Lady Kirsten and Lady Susannah, get Daniel and Will, respectively, sorted out.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, historical accuracy) did you encounter writing this particular story?

Grace: Tremaine’s mercantile success is based on raising sheep. How complicated can that be? Well… which breeds were grown in what regions of the United Kingdom 200 years ago? Were they comparable to their modern counterparts? How were they raised? When was lambing season? When were they shorn? I had some experience with sheep, and that helped, but I went down a long and wooly research trail learning more.

Lady Nita, by contrast, is medical practitioner educated at her mother’s knee, and through extensive reading and observation. The Regency period is when men began to push women out of the medical field entirely (except for the exhausting and dangerous business of nursing), even with regard to childbirth. We can see now, though, that the women of the day (in England) were often offering the more helpful and sanitary interventions.

TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?

The Duke's DisasterGrace: Every author’s approach is different, but for me, the story is driven by the characters. Their defining traumas, their aspirations, their personalities are the fuel for the actions taken.

TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writers fail in this endeavor?

Grace: What a writer must do to pull the reader in… the list is ENDLESS, from word choices that are precise without being obscure, to descriptions that are accurate but not boring, to symbols both unobtrusive and compelling… It comes down to, the writer must make the reader care about the characters. In real life, we care when we see that somebody we have something in common with is suffering undeservedly. If that person is bearing up nobly, or with good humor, or as best they can, we care even more. The character’s wound is the sharp end of his or her hook into the reader’s heart.

In unpublished manuscripts and contest entries, I often see two characters whose gazes meet across a crowded room/deserted street/candlelit ballroom and boom, they must HAVE each other. Hormones perfume the air, and without even googling each other, the mating dance begins. Fail, fail, fail. A romantic attraction will at some point develop a physical aspect, but it starts with the sure conviction that these two people can see each other’s woundedness, and each other’s highest potential, no matter how diligently each character might be hiding or ignoring their own wounds.

TRC: What three things would you like to accomplish in the next ten years?

MatthewsGrace:
I’d like to earn an MFA in creative writing from a Scottish university,
I’d like to publish a writing craft book, I’d like to publish a whole
bunch more lovely romances.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Grace: I’m finishing up Matthew-The Jaded Gentlemen Book 2 (September 2015), and trying to wrestle into submission a quartet of reluctant earls who each has fallen in love with a cousin of the Windham family… and I do mean wrestle.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food: Cheese!

Favorite Dessert: Fresh berries

Favorite TV Show: I don’t own a TV.

Last Movie You Saw: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Dark or Milk Chocolate: DARK

Secret Celebrity Crush: Huh?

Last Vacation Destination: A holiday cottage five miles from Aberfeldy,
Perthshire, Scotland

Do you have any pets? Cats, dogs, horses.

Last book you read: Sir Walter Scott, His Life and Works

Pet Peeve: Cyber-meanness

TRC: Thank you Grace for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you all the best.

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To Kiss a Rake by Barbara Monajem – a Review

To Kiss a Rake by Barbara Monajem – a Review

 

To Kiss a RakeAmazon

Description:
WHEN A LADY IS ABDUCTED BY MISTAKE . . .

Melinda Starling doesn’t let ladylike behavior get in the way of true love. She’s secretly assisting in an elopement . . . until she’s tossed into the waiting coach and driven away by a notorious rake.

REVENGE REALLY DOESN’T PAY.

Miles Warren, Lord Garrison, comes from a family of libertines, and he’s the worst of them all—or so society believes. When Miles helps a friend to run away with an heiress, it’s an entertaining way to revenge himself on one of the gossips who slandered him.

Except that he drives off with the wrong woman . . . and as if that wasn’t scandalous enough, he can’t resist stealing a kiss.

 

Review:

5 out of 5 for this reader folks!
 
Want to know what I love more than almost anything?  Finding a new historical romance author to fall in love with.  YUP … Barbara Monajem just found herself on list.  I adored this book!
 
While helping friends, both Melinda and Miles find themselves in a situation that they never saw coming.  A situation that fate surely understood however!  WINK!  Facing ruin and injured, Melinda reluctantly agrees to become Miles betrothed.  Miles, who couldn’t care two you know what’s for society’s opinion is amazed that he is opting to do right by lovely Melinda.  That one shared kiss must of set of some serious fireworks.
 
Meeting a little girl living next door to her betrothed that is being severely punished unjustly reminds Melinda of her own childhood.  When Melinda discovers who Rebecca is (the illegitimate daughter of Miles), she becomes this little girl’s strongest advocate.  Miles, who truely adores his daughter, believes that Melinda would never accept Rebecca and reluctantly begins to look at fostering his daughter elsewhere.  When Melinda’s beautiful character and harsh history comes forth, Miles begins to understand his like as a rake is truely over for he is going to fall in love with his wife.
 
Both of these characters were so well developed.  Barbara peels back their layers throughout this entire story making them more endearing by the page.  They are well matched and in truth end up rescuing the other from a life of misery.  I loved that they both hated what society considers proper and opt instead to do right by the other as well as innocent little Rebecca.  When Melinda took Rebecca’s care (or lack there of) in hand, I found myself wanting to high five her fine hand.  I also like nothing more than reading a rake being brought to his knees by a loving woman who will treat him right.
 
Flowed from page to page, I found I gobbled this book up quite quickly.  I will be keeping an eye out for this author and any future work she releases!  
 
HAPPY READING! :)

 

Reviewed by Rachel

 

Copy provided by Author
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Caged Magic (Wing Slayer Hunter #5) by Jennifer Lyon-Review and Book Tour

CAGED MAGIC (Wing Slayer Hunter #5) by Jennifer Lyon-Review and Book Tour

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Caged Magic
Wing Slayer Hunter #5
by Jennifer Lyon
Genre: adult, paranormal, romance
Release Date: July 20, 2015

Caged Magic

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO GooglePlay /   iBooks

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date July 20, 2015

Risa Faden is a witch whose ultra-powerful shield magic is slowly breaking her mind. But when her beloved goddaughter is snatched by a demon, she’ll risk anything to rescue the baby—including lying to the handsome, intriguing stranger who has the power to help her keep her sanity, save the child…and steal her heart.

Linc Dillinger is a Wing Slayer Hunter whose sexy, rich, bad-boy charm hides a treacherous betrayal that left him emotionally scarred. As a result he risks his life to protect innocents, but is incapable of love—until he meets a beautiful witch who can save his cursed soul. Risa’s fierce courage and loyalty reaches past his barriers and he begins to believe she has the magic to free his caged heart.

But Risa’s lie explodes into dark danger that forces Linc into a hellish high-stakes gamble: He must either win the witch he loves and her godchild…or endure a loss that will destroy them all.

••••••••••••

REVIEW:  CAGED MAGIC is the fifth installment in Jennifer Lyon’s adult Wing Slayer Hunter paranormal romance series. This is Wing Slayer Hunter Linc Dillinger and witch Risa Faden’s storyline.

SOME BACKGROUND: Background information from Jennifer Lyon’s website: Once they were immortal guardians; hunters of demon witches and protectors of innocent earth witches. For centuries, the hunters and witches worked together to safeguard earth from demons, in particular, Asmodeus.

Wing Slayer Hunters are an immortal group of warriors who without their ‘soul-mirror’ witches will eventually go rogue and hunt the very thing that would have saved their souls. Each Hunter must find his witch-his soul mirror- before going feral; the closer to going rogue for a Hunter, the more he craves the blood of the witches. When a Hunter finds love he will get his wings.

Told from third person point of view CAGED MAGIC focuses on the hunt for a small child-Risa’s goddaughter Kendall-who has been abducted by a demon known as Archer. Archer’s use of hellfire is a weapon no Hunter is able to control but Risa has a few powers that when put to use, will aid the Hunters in the fight to save their own. Risa and Linc will join forces with the Wing Slayer Hunters in the hopes of locating Kendall and destroying the demon who has chosen demonkind over his own humanity.

Risa and Linc both have heartbreaking, brutally abusive and dark backstories. Risa’s family history is filled with monstrous acts of murder, rape and abuse but now her only thoughts are to save the child she has sworn to protect; Linc believes he is unworthy of love due to his time as a captured beast, and too close to going rogue for anyone-including his soul mirror mate-to save his life.

Throughout the storyline, Risa struggles with her attraction to Linc but is unable to give Linc what it is he needs. Linc knows that Risa is the one; his soul-mirror but he will not take what is not freely given. There is plenty of back and forth; push and pull between Risa and Linc. The sexual chemistry is palpable; there is no denying their attraction to one another but to save Linc, Risa must hand over control to the man and his Falcon. The $ex scenes are intimate, sometimes aggressive and graphic as Linc grows closer to going rogue, but never coerced or forced.

It has been three years since the last WING SLAYER HUNTER installment and I think I may need a quick refresher. CAGED MAGIC is an ensemble storyline with all, if not most, of the previous storyline couples and characters playing a secondary or supporting role: Darcy and Axel; Carla and Sutton; Roxy and Key; Phoenix and Ailish; Ginny, Eli and Ram; as well as Baron and his MC family of Wing Slayer Hunters. The world of the Wing Slayer Hunter focuses on survival against the odds when a Hunter is close to going rogue; the need to find one’s soul-mirror; and the determination to protect the earth witches against the very thing the Hunter does not want to become.

CAGED MAGIC is a heartbreaking storyline of betrayal and loss; blood lust and need; falling in love and a happily ever after. The premise is an intense look at one man’s spiral into the dark side, and one woman’s need to protect the man with whom she is falling in love. The characters are colorful, intense and spirited; the romance is sensual, passionate and hopeful. There is a little bit of humor woven throughout the storyline especially when the soul-mirror witches ‘talk amongst themselves’—been there, done that !!!

With the release of CAGED MAGIC Jennifer Lyon continues to fascinate the reader with her incredible world of the WING SLAYER HUNTERS; she will captivate your imagination with her passion and intensity as she delves deeper into the supernatural world of the Wing Slayer Hunters.

Copy supplied by the author through Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy

excerpt

Linc reached across the bathroom, catching her hand. His warm, firm fingers anchored her. Startled, she lifted her gaze to him.

“Come here, Risa.”

She started to shake her head, but pain pierced her skull. She hadn’t recovered yet. It would take hours of sleep to regain some strength.

“Here’s the thing. If you want your high magic, you’re going to have to learn my touch is not like the others. I am not just making use of your body.” He squeezed her hand reassuringly. “Not while I still have a soul. We clear?”

She resisted for a second longer, searching over him with her gaze. When he showed her this kindness, acting as if he cared enough to get to know and understand her, it opened her up, left her too vulnerable.

“Take the first step. That’s all you have to do.” His voice flowed smoothly to wrap around her like a silky ribbon. Her chakras relaxed, and her muscles unlocked.
She took the step.

And won a smile from him. His face softened, a dent forming in his chin while his eyes crinkled. This wasn’t Linc’s charming smile, the one he tossed off with his fast and glib comebacks. That smile had polish.

This one was real, sexy, and made her feel like smiling back. Unsure what to do, she just stood there, staring at the amazing grin on his face.

He reached out, caught her waist and tugged her between his thighs. He tucked her beneath one arm, surrounding her with his body heat.

Guest Post-Black and Blue

Sex in the Storyline: Where to Draw the Line Between Romance and Erotica
Jennifer Lyon

Thank you so much to The Reading Café for having me here today! It’s always fun to hang out with other romance lovers. I was asked to talk about where I draw the line between romance and erotica. Erotica is generally less about the relationship and more about the physical attraction and titillation. While romance is about building a relationship from that first meeting, through some trials and into a deep love that the reader can trust will last after she closes the book.

My latest release, Caged Magic is a paranormal romance, and sex is woven deeply into the story line. All the witches and hunters were cursed decades ago. To break the curse, they must find the witch or hunter with the other half of their soul, and bond together. Sex is part of that bond, organically bringing up the heat level of the book. But the book is about so much more than just sex – a demon has spawned on the streets of Las Vegas, threatening the entire city, and Risa’s young godchild, a baby, has been kidnapped. The stakes in Caged Magic are high, and sex is only one part of the bigger story.

So for me the line is pretty easy, every sex scene must have a purpose to the story and the character’s emotional growth. It’s always more than physical, or stripping off clothes and matching up body parts. As our lovers progress from the first touch, the first kiss, they are giving each other greater levels of trust, and deepening the affection and regard for one another.

In the end, I think the line between romance and pure erotica is all about the emotional connection of the characters. But I’ve read some truly amazing books that do a great job of blending erotica and romance, bringing emotion into every look and touch, and keeping the reader breathlessly turning pages.

Do you have a line in your romance reading that you don’t like to cross?

About The Author Black and Blue

Jennifer LyonJennifer Lyon, who also writes as Jennifer Apodaca, lives in Southern California where she continually plots ways to convince her husband that they should get a dog. After all, they met at the dog pound, fell in love, married and had three wonderful sons. So far, however, she has failed in her doggy endeavor. She consoles herself by pouring her passion into writing books. To date, Jen has published more than fifteen books and novellas, including a fun and sexy mystery series and a variety of contemporary romances under the name Jennifer Apodaca. As Jennifer Lyon she created a dark, sizzling paranormal series, and The Plus Once Chronicles, an emotionally sensual adult contemporary series. Jen’s won numerous awards and had her books translated into multiple languages, but she still hasn’t come up with a way to persuade her husband that they need a dog.

 

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Her Sinful Angel (Her Angel #8) by Felicity Heaton-Review, Book Tour & Giveaway

HER SINFUL ANGEL (Her Angel #8) by Felicity Heaton-Review, Book tour & Giveaway

Her Sinful Angel Banner

Her Sinful Angel
Her Angel #8
by Felicity Heaton
Genre: adult, fantasy, paranormal romance
Release Date: August 1, 2015

Her Sinful Angel

Find out how to enter the Her Sinful Angel international giveaway (ends August 9th) and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate at her website, where you can also download a 5 chapter sample of the novel: Felicity Heaton

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Google Play / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date August 1, 2015

Cast out of Heaven and now the king of Hell, Lucifer is a powerful fallen angel warrior with a heart as cold as ice and soul as black as the bottomless pit. For millennia, he has ruled his realm with an iron fist as he plots the demise of his ancient enemies. When one of those enemies dumps an unconscious mortal female in the courtyard of his fortress and leaves her there, Lucifer finds himself entranced by the beguiling beauty and tempted beyond all reason. But is the enchanting Nina an innocent pawn in the eternal game or part of a plot against him?

Also available as part of the Dark And Damaged boxed set (June 2015)

•••••••••••

REVIEW: HER SINFUL ANGEL is the eighth installment in Felicity Heaton’s Her Angel paranormal romance series. This is the King of Hell –Lucifer- and human female Nina’s storyline. Although Her Sinful Angel is the eighth book in the series, it can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Some of the characters from previous storylines have secondary and supporting roles.

Told from third person point of view HER SINFUL ANGEL follows Lucifer as he unknowingly begins to fall for a human female that has been dumped in Hell’s courtyard by one of Heaven’s angels. What ensues is a building relationship between Nina and Lucifer, one both blessed and cursed by Heaven itself. Lucifer is a changed man; a changed demon who no longer destroys what is left of the souls of the angels who have fallen from Heaven, but in this ,the character of Lucifer seems to have lost some of his edge. Lucifer is not the Devil of our childhood nightmares but a man who is lonely and unaware of the empty hole in what’s left of his heart.

Nina remembers very little about the circumstances surrounding her abduction and arrival in Hell-in fact-she has no idea where she is or why anyone would want to kidnap her. Within hours of her arrival Nina finds herself falling for the man whose powers are unlike anything she has ever seen before. The entire storyline covers but 24 to 48 hours.

The relationship between Nina and Lucifer is quick to develop although Nina is unaware of Lucifer’s true identity and the power that he controls. When one of Heaven’s angels demands Nina’s return to the human realm, Lucifer becomes both guardian and protector of the woman with whom he is falling in love. The $ex scenes are intimate and seductive. There is a reason Heaven has placed Nina in Lucifer’s arms.

Several of the previous storyline characters make a cameo appearance including Erin and Veiron,; Asmodeus and Liora; as Lucifer continues to battle Heaven’s angels. Heaven wants something from Lucifer but the Devil refuses to hand over what belongs to him.

Felicity Heaton continues to focus on the Fallen-the Angels who have been thrown out of Heaven and whose life will be saved by the woman who calls to his heart. Each of her storyline heroes is dark, damaged and oft times broken; the females are perfectly matched in beauty and mind. HER SINFUL ANGEL reveals that even the Devil has a little light remaining his soul and all it takes is love to break through and allow that light to shine.

Because the majority of the storyline is a written narrative, there is very little communication between our leading couple as per Felicity’s style of writing. Most of the background, history and storyline are revealed through memories, thoughts and observations.

Reviewed by Sandy

NOTE: HER DARK ANGEL (Her Angel #1) is FREE: Amazon.com / Amazon.ca /B&N

Books in the Her Angel paranormal romance series:

Book 1: Her Dark AngelFREE in ebook at selected retailers

Book 2: Her Fallen Angel
Book 3: Her Warrior Angel
Book 4: Her Guardian Angel
Book 5: Her Demonic Angel
Book 6: Her Wicked Angel
Book 7: Her Avenging Angel
Book 8: Her Sinful Angel

excerpt

It had started out like any other day in his kingdom.
He had risen at seven sharp, based on Greenwich Mean Time, and had crossed the black stone floor of his expansive bedroom to his equally as impressive bathroom. There he had showered and carefully attended to his grooming. With a black towel slung low around his hips, he had ventured into his wardrobe to select one of the black tailored suits that hung from numerous rails.It had gone downhill from there.He had found the suit he had desired to wear, only to discover a crease pressed into the finely woven wool fabric.That had led to the first death of the day.The impudent fallen angel who had been responsible for ensuring his wardrobe was perfect had been sent back to Heaven.With his wings missing.
And in pieces.The last part wasn’t his fault. The idiot should have remembered to teleport before hitting the pavement of the courtyard far below the black fortress in the bottomless pit of Hell.
Of course, it might have helped if he had allowed the maggot to retain his ability to teleport.Lucifer smiled grimly to himself and flicked a speck of dust off the right sleeve of his newly-pressed suit, his golden eyes fixed on the black cragged lands beyond the window of his study.Breakfast had been a rather sober affair this morning. His attendants were on edge around him today, more than they usually were anyway. He couldn’t think why. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that they had narrowly avoided being hit by the falling angel when they had been crossing the courtyard.
A chuckle slipped from his lips as a replay of the event played across his mind.
By now, all of Hell would know he was not in a good mood.
He had planned to improve it by heading out to the distant plateau where Heaven had stationed a group of angels and use the power of his voice to see if he could sway a weak one into falling. There was a space in his ranks that needed filling, and corrupting angels always brightened the dreariest of days.
A pale orange glow lit the wall of black rock beneath the plateau, adding a dash of colour.
He despised that band of gold.
The lava river encircled his fortress and marked a boundary that by law he couldn’t cross, not until the time between his scheduled battles with Apollyon, an angel who had served Heaven for centuries before turning his back on that realm for the sake of a woman, had passed.
Lucifer hadn’t won one in centuries. He had taken several for the team without receiving any shred of gratitude in return, allowing the angel to defeat him so he would remain trapped in the bottomless pit and a band of fallen angels bent on destroying the mortal world would remain caged here with him.
Of course, it might have helped if he had informed Apollyon that he was losing on purpose, but storing up his losses and waiting for the perfect opportunity to mention to the angel what he had been doing all these millennia had been too enticing to resist.
His smile stretched a little wider.
It had been most satisfying to reveal to the angel just a few weeks ago that his hard won victories had been hollow and see the look on the bastard’s face.
The momentary flicker of pleasure that shot through his veins dimmed as he lowered his gaze back to the courtyard and it fixed on the current thorn in his side.
There was no chance of improving his mood now. It had hit rock bottom, thanks to a certain angel of Heaven.
Mihail.
When he discovered who had awoken the angel to his true purpose, restoring his memories at the same time, he would send his finest legion to Heaven to destroy them.
The angel flicked his long white hair over his shoulder but kept his icy blue eyes locked on Lucifer. The silent challenge they issued didn’t go unnoticed, but Lucifer knew better than to rise to it. Mihail couldn’t enter his fortress, thanks to powerful wards Lucifer had put in place after their last battle.
A fight that had seen almost half of Hell destroyed and turned to rubble.
Lucifer had enjoyed the millennia of peace that had come afterwards. Battling Apollyon was merely a workout for him, but fighting Mihail was a war and one that could easily claim his life. Only Mihail held the power to truly defeat him. Apollyon could only wound him.
Mihail could kill him.
Lucifer had no interest in dying and being thrust into limbo, wandering eternity as nothing more than a soul, maddened by being caged in a bleak world where he couldn’t communicate with those around him and tormented by his sins.
Not until he had settled a score with his former master and had his vengeance.
Not even then.
He never wanted to go to that dark place few angels knew existed.
Those who didn’t know of it had no fear of death, trusting they would be reborn in Heaven upon their demise, restored to their former glory, albeit without memories of their previous life.
The fools.
Lucifer knew better.
He had seen the corrupted souls of angels in the far reaches of his realm, heard their whispers on the wind and felt their suffering in his blood.
True death was possible for any angel.
He knew because he had killed one on occasion, damning them to a hellish existence.
Lucifer would damn Mihail in the same manner without even flinching if he had the chance.
The white-haired angel moved a step closer, his enormous glossy white wings shifting with the action, stark against the black pavement of the semi-circular courtyard and the obsidian armour he wore. The patches of golden skin visible between the black greaves that encased his shins, the strips of black that protected his hips, his short black breastplate and his vambraces that shielded his forearms bore tattoos now when once they had been clean and pure.
Lucifer’s smile returned.
Mostly because he felt sure that the bastard angel despised those tattoos and the one who had put them there—the fallen angel this male was linked to through duty and powers.
If Lucifer had the power, he would gift those angels who were linked to Mihail and his brethren with the ability to do more than merely change their skin by adding ink that would also appear on their counterpart. He would give them the power to amend their appearance in other ways. He wasn’t talking about haircuts and piercings.
He was talking about wounds.
Mihail spread his white wings, regaining Lucifer’s attention, but not for long. It drifted away again, his gaze roaming downwards and across the courtyard, to the prone mortal that lay like an offering on an altar between his fortress and the angel.
A woman.
Lucifer’s golden gaze narrowed on her and questions filled his mind again, ones that wouldn’t be ignored this time. Why had Mihail dumped an unconscious female in his courtyard?
Was she bait?

About The Author

Felicity HeatonFelicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

 

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.

If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:

Website: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk
Blog: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/blog/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/felicityheaton
Twitter: http://twitter.com/felicityheaton
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/felicityheaton

giveaway

Felicity is offering an ecopy of any ONE(1) of her MY ANGEL series ebooks to ONE(1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

NOTE: HER DARK ANGEL (Her Angel #1) is FREE: Amazon.com / Amazon.ca /B&N

1. If you have not previously registered, please register using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.

2. If you are using a social log-in such as Twitter or Facebook, please post your email address with your comment.

3. LIKE Felicity Heaton on TWITTER

4. Sign up for Felicity Heaton’s NEWSLETTER

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

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8. Please FOLLOW us on TSU for an additional entry.

9. Giveaway open Internationally

10. Giveaway runs from July 31 to August 4, 2015

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Malibu Betrayals by MK Meredith – a Review

Malibu Betrayals by MK Meredith – a Review

 

Malibu BetrayalsAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM

Description:
Her chance to write a whole new ending…

Hollywood screenwriter Samantha Dekker spent the last year picking up the pieces after her husband’s suicide. Along with grief, guilt, and tabloid hell, she’s had to watch helplessly as the film industry slammed its doors in her face. Now Sam has the rarest of Hollywood opportunities – a second chance…working with the one man she swore never to see again.

Hunktastic A-lister Gage Cutler knows that Sam blamed him for his part in her husband’s death. Still, Sam is the one woman he can never forget. All he wants is a second chance of his own – to prove he’s not the player she remembers. And Malibu is the perfect backdrop to make a girl swoon.

Except they’re not alone. Someone is watching Sam and Gage’s steamy off-screen romance with the most dangerous of intentions…


Review:

I’d like to think I have discerning taste. Yes, I try to accentuate the positives in my reviews, but when I’m swooning over an author’s Acknowledgements, you know it’s made an impression! Malibu Betrayals by MK Meredith had me rooting for love, and Gage, from cover to end.

Okay. It’s coined as a second chance romance, but Sam and Gage barely know each other. It’s what came after their fateful introduction that would forever connect them. Blame and hatred aren’t low-key emotions and Sam hurled plenty of those accusations at Gage for causing the accident that killed her husband. Last thing those two need is to work together (he’s an actor, she the screenwriter). While it’s Hollywood and the worst of enemies have been known to collaborate (and put forth quality product), what didn’t register with me is how instant their bond was. We’re led to believe that their meeting was cathartic, that these two shared sensibilities. How can Gage point out all the harm in Sam’s marriage (to a colleague of his), in a matter of hours, and literally become the impetus to leave her husband? She might have already considered the decision, but it was a one.time.talk, people. It’s rather incredulous, but I’d be lying if I said Ms. Meredith didn’t make me overlook the insta-love and take a leap of faith with Gage and Sam. That’s what you want in a book, wouldn’t you agree?

Before long, Sam and Gage are exploring those possibilities and making up for lost time to full, steamy satisfaction. The attraction runs deeper, of course; the progress is tentative yet quite giving if you stop to analyze. Though they tacitly agreed to a “light and easy” fling, which invariably comes with second-guesses and worries about moving way too fast, Sam gives me whiplash. An overload of “about-face” moments were enough to drive Gage crazy (though he’s made of sterner stuff), but her past is determined to ruin her present.

Sam’s ex-husband’s family interrupts with insidious demands and general harassment. HEA seems an impossible goal. Segue into sabotage on the set and the story develops with intriguing subplots and secondary characters. As much as exterior forces threaten to upend their beginning, Sam and Gage undermine their relationship with secrets all by themselves. Repeated slaps to my forehead began to sting. Talk, people! Stop making unilateral decisions that make you miserable before you even follow through (always a bad sign). Most importantly, stop denying yourselves this rare gift of a second chance and embrace it.

“I’m trying to figure out if it can work. But I don’t see how. I need more time. Can you give me that?”

     He dropped his chin to his chest and closed his eyes.

“You don’t know what you ask, Sam.”

     “Don’t I? I know it won’t be easy, but it’s better for us in the end.”

“You think it’s better.”

“Yes, I do.”

     He studied her. “For the record, I don’t think time is the issue. But fine.”

Once you accept their relationship, Gage and Sam are two enjoyable individuals. Though jaded from the exploitative arm of Hollywood gossip, Gage and Sam are still swinging, unsatisfied with mediocrity when they have the potential to be, and have, so much more. Sam’s self-confidence took a beating, as did Gage’s reputation, but they’re driven and they gain ground with each other’s support. When they love, they love passionately and thoughtfully.

Malibu Betrayals reveals the source of the threats and its title is telling. Ms. Meredith arms Sam and Gage with courage to rise above and never give up on love.

There are hiccups in this debut novel, but Ms. Meredith is keenly focused on the struggles of love and trust and the commitment it takes to make them last forever. I would read more by this new author.

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy provided by Publisher

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Ricochet by Keri Lake-a review

RICOCHET by Keri Lake-a review

Ricochet

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date July 9, 2015

The only sure way to destroy a man is to take what he cannot live without.

Three years ago, I had everything.

A beautiful wife.
A son.
A reason for living.

Until a ruthless task force, assembled under Mayor Michael Culling, with a brutal strategy to make the streets of Detroit ‘safe’, ripped away everything I loved in a deadly hunt called The Culling.

They tried to kill me, too. I wish they had. Now I’m cursed by the memories of that night, and the words I whispered to my dying wife.

A promise—to avenge the wrong and set it right.

I’m no longer Nick Ryder. I’m a masked vigilante. Faceless. Loveless. Fearless. A man with nothing left to lose—one who’s seen the dark and violent truth behind the city’s flawless veneer.

Michael Culling doesn’t know who I am. Or what I want. All he knows is that I’ve kidnapped his beautiful wife.

An eye for an eye—isn’t that how the saying goes? And Aubree Culling is the perfect pawn to destroy him.

If she doesn’t destroy me first.

WARNING: **Not recommended for readers under the age of 18 due to graphic violence, sex and strong language. Trigger warning for self harm.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: RICOCHET is a contemporary, adult, standalone, dark romance from author Keri Lake focusing on revenge and retribution. This is former computer game designer Nick Ryder, and abuse counselor Aubree Culling’s storyline. The storyline is set in the dark and seedy underbelly of Detroit’s criminal element and the political elite who believe themself above the law.

Told from alternating first person points of view (Aubree and Nick) as well as several third person perspectives RICOCHET follows Nick Ryder as he seeks revenge for the murder of his wife and son, and the horrific nightmare that has been left in its’ place. Three years earlier Nick walked into a brutal massacre, of which, his beautiful wife and son did not survive. With Nick left for dead, the killers set the house ablaze and walked away without a second glance. What ensues is a dark, gritty and graphically violent plan to take down everyone responsible including the people calling the shots. Enter Aubree Culling-Mayor Michael Culling’s wife, and the perfect target to start Nick’s vendetta.

Aubree Culling is the mayor’s wife, and therefore, guilty by association. As Nick sets his sights on destroying Mayor Culling, Aubree will be abducted and held hostage while Nick sets his plan into motion. But Aubree has a secret, one that Nick will soon discover, pushing our anti-hero to avenge the woman with whom he is falling in love. There is a slight ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ or ‘Capture Bonding’ feel to the storyline wherein our heroine will fall for the man holding her hostage.

RICOCHET is a graphically violent storyline about a man obsessed with vengeance against those that destroyed his life. Nick Ryder is a one man vigilante; a broken soul who continues to suffer with the pain and grief, and the memories of the suffering inflicted upon the people that he loves. Nick is a man, who without remorse or guilt sets into motion a plan to avenge the murders of his wife and son. He is ruthless and unforgiving; no one will survive his need for retribution. The only thing grounding Nick is his growing love for the woman he holds hostage but Nick never expected to survive at the end.

I am not from Michigan but I grew up aware of Detroit’s reputation as the ‘murder capital of USA’ and the ‘Devil’s Night’ path of destruction and chaos. Our family would watch the fall out from a night where the criminal element, as well as the copy-cats who destroyed a little bit more of the city of Detroit. Keri Lake weaves a fictional tale of retaliation that is centered in and around the Devil’s Night pandemonium and anarchy on the streets-a ‘free for all’ that was all but ignored by the political structure and law enforcement of one of America’s most dangerous cities.

RICOCHET is a story about retribution and revenge; acceptance and moving forward; falling in love and never letting go. It is also about two people whose lives are forever connected; scarred; and emotionally ravaged. The premise is dark, gritty, raw and graphic; the characters damaged, brutal and destroyed; the romance intense and all –consuming. There is a happily ever after but one that comes with a price that is the reality of Nick Ryder.

Copy supplied by Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy

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Confessions of a Queen B* by Crista McHugh-Review and Excerpt

Confessions of a Queen B* (Th Queen B #1) by Crista McHugh-Review and Excerpt

Confessions of a Queen B

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / Google Play / iBooks

 

About the book: Release Date July 28, 2015
Genre: YA

Alexis Wyndham is the other type of Queen B—the Queen Bitch.

After years of being the subject of ridicule, she revels in her ability to make the in-crowd cower via the exposés on her blog, The Eastline Spy. Now that she’s carved out her place in the high school hierarchy, she uses her position to help the unpopular kids walking the hallways.

Saving a freshman from bullies? Check.
Swapping insults with the head cheerleader? Check.
Falling for the star quarterback? So not a part of her plan.

But when Brett offers to help her solve the mystery of who’s posting X-rated videos from the girls’ locker room, she’ll have to swallow her pride and learn to see past the high school stereotypes she’s never questioned—until now.

••••••••

REVIEW:  As Alexis’ school day starts, she happens upon a group of jocks harassing an underclassman. She stops the shenanigans, much to the jocks’ disappointment, because they know they’ll end up on her blog if they continue, along with the pictures she snapped of what was going down. Feeling pretty good about that, she heads into her first class where she finds out that she is going to have to do a project……….with a partner. When she realizes that Brett, the high school quarterback who is part of the “in” crowd is going to be her partner, she is not impressed. But, as they start laying out the parameters of their partnership, he tells her that he’s serious about his grades as well and that she can just get over herself. They’re “parents” after all and have to do what’s best for their “baby”. Yeah, right…………

When the Queen Bee (you know, the snooty head cheerleader) finds out that Brett is paired with Alexis, the barbs start flying. But, Alexis is not swayed. She has an assignment and she will see it through and everyone else be damned. Alexis and Brett start spending a little time together, purely for the sake of the assignment, and it doesn’t seem all bad. However, when Alexis finds out that someone is posting X-rated videos from the girls’ locker room, and her little sister was one of the victims, let’s just say hell hath no fury. When she tells Brett what’s happening, he genuinely wants to help her find out who it is and bring him down. As they start spending more time together, Alexis realizes that maybe Brett isn’t as bad as she thought. “Stupid teenage hormones…..” She actually spends a little time with him at his home and soon finds out that the “golden” child may not have such a “golden” home life, as his father is very demanding and overbearing.

When they finally find out who has been recording the videos in the girls’ locker room, things don’t go quite as Alexis had envisioned. She is out to destroy him, but when they find out a little about his background, Brett implores her to look at the big picture and maybe, just maybe, be a little less Atilla the Hun and a little more understanding. When she finally talks to the principle, she handles the situation as best as she could, and was a little surprised that she could actually be nice. Stranger things HAVE happened! Ha!

I loved this book! Alexis is a great character, even though she has a chip on her shoulder about the size of a small car. When her best friend read her diary out loud to everyone when they were in the seventh grade, she changed. Who wouldn’t? She didn’t let that humiliation define her as much as she was emboldened by it and made it her mission in life to stop the “in” crowd from bullying those that they deemed less fortunate, at least in the social hierarchy of high school. She has a long way to go, though. In her campaign to stop bullying, she is skirting being one herself, even though she is on the side of good. I loved Brett as well. Even though he’s totally taken with Alexis, he doesn’t overwhelm her with liking her. He takes it slow because he knows he’ll have to work hard to win her over. Great supporting characters in this one too. Alexis’ two best friends were awesome and I can’t wait to find out more about them. I normally hate cliffhangers, which this one ended with, but I can totally see why it ended the way it did. More to come…..lots more!! J I could totally relate to this story, as I think most who went through high school would. If you’re a fan of the Young Adult genre, you will totally love this book and the characters Crista has created. No one creates their world like Crista McHugh. In everything I’ve ever read that she’s written, I’ve been pulled into the story from the first word, and you will be too. I just hope she doesn’t’ make me wait too long to see where Alexis and Brett are headed! Well done, Crista McHugh!! Once again, very, very, very well done!!

Copy supplied by the author

Reviewed by Vickie M

Excerpt Black and Hot Pink

Brett texted me to say he’d meet me at my locker for the doll handoff. I drove to school, my stomach doing little flip-flops of glee, anticipating that Brett would look as miserable as I felt yesterday.
No such luck.
If anything, the jerk looked better than normal.
Damn it.
He grinned and started unstrapping the carrier when he saw me. “Made it on time today, eh?”
“How can you be so cheerful after that thing kept screaming all night?”
“I’ve got the diaper-bottle-burp drill down. Once you have it, you’ll see it’s easier with babies.” He held out the carrier with the doll still strapped inside. “Should I help you put it on again?”
“So you can feel me up in the process?” He was so perfect, it was infuriating, so I had to find a flaw in him. In this case, it was turning his offer to help into a dick move.
“If that’s an invitation…”
Sure, if you want to, that traitorous little voice in my head replied.
“It’s not,” I snapped, ignoring the rush of heat that flowed along the surface of my skin while I tried to navigate my arms through the confusing tangle of straps.
He raised both brows. “Are you always this stubborn?”
“I don’t need a man to help me out with something as simple as this.” Except somehow, I’d managed to put the carrier on upside down and was holding the doll by its head to keep it from falling out.
“May I please help you so we don’t both end up with Fs because you dropped the kid?” He came closer, that annoying bemused grin still on his face, and took the doll out of the carrier. “Just unbuckle it here, turn it around, and secure everything before you try to put the baby in.”
His finger brushed the area along my ribs when he pointed out where I should unbuckle it, and a delicious shiver raced up my spine. I hated my hormones sometimes, especially when they overruled my brain concerning Brett Pederson. It was screaming for me to run away before I made a fool of myself by drooling over him, but I ended up inching closer to him. I’d always thought his eyes were plain brown, but the sun streaming in from the skylight above revealed tiny flecks of green and gold in them.
And those eyes were fixed right on me.
“Yo, Pederson, you’re playing a dangerous game getting that close to her without protective equipment on,” Sanchez shouted from down the hall, ruining what had been a “moment.”
As if I was capable of having a moment with Brett.
“I’ve got it under control,” Brett shouted back before dropping his voice to add, “You’re not going to hurt me, right?”
“Depends.”
“On what?” He wasn’t backing away, so neither would I.
“On how pissed off you’re going to make me.”
“And how would I piss you off?”
He was baiting me. I knew he was, and yet I played right along with him. “Your existence pisses me off.”
“Is that all?” His grin widened.
The asshole was mocking me.
“Do I need to make you a list?” I shoved him back and adjusted the carrier, following his instructions.
“Maybe. How long would that list be?”
I snatched the doll back and tucked it away. “Not worth my time.”
I’d barely made it ten feet before Richard fell into step beside me. “Okay, what is going on between you two, because that was some serious tension?”
“The only tension between us is the one in my arm that’s keeping me from slapping that arrogant little smirk off his face.”
Richard pretended to cover his mouth, mimicking a shocked expression. “Oh my God, you’ve progressed to violent thoughts. Do we need to schedule an intervention at the fro-yo place this afternoon so we get all that hostility out over a cup of mocha chocolate chip?”
“No, thank you.” I liked my hostility right where it was. It was the only thing keeping me from admitting that yeah, maybe I was slightly attracted to Brett.
I glanced over my shoulder just in time to see Summer looping her arm through his. The message was as clear as day. He was hers, and I had no chance in hell of ending up with someone like him.
Not that I’d want to. It would mean I’d have to be nice to Sanchez and the rest of the team.
But that didn’t keep me from thinking about how things might be different if we weren’t in this tiny microcosm of hell called high school.

 

 

About the Author Black and rose

crista mchugh pictureCrista McHugh is an award-winning author of fantasy and romance who writes heroines who are smart, sexy and anything but ordinary. She currently lives in the Audi-filled suburbs of Seattle with her husband and two children, maintaining her alter ego of mild-mannered physician by day while she continues to pursue writing on nights and weekends.

She is an active member of the Romance Writers of America (including the Greater Seattle Chapter and the Seattle Eastside Chapters), and Romance Divas.

Just for laughs, here are some of the jobs she’s had in the past to pay the bills: barista, bartender, sommelier, stagehand, actress, morgue attendant, and autopsy assistant.

And she’s also a recovering LARPer. (She blames it on her crazy college days)

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