Full Contact / Below the Belt (Worth the Fight 2 &3) by Sidney Halston-a review

Full Conact / Below the Belt (Worth the Fight #2 & 3) by Sidney Halston-a review

Worth the Fight Series

(Worth the Fight 2)
by Sidney Halston
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romance, MMA

Full Contact

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About the book: Release Date October 28, 2014

How could she have been so stupid? When Jessica Cross decides to give her violently jealous boyfriend—the otherwise influential and charming Dennis Stavros—a second chance, she very nearly becomes a statistic. After weeks of healing from a broken rib and collapsed lung, and with Dennis behind bars, Jessica finally feels ready to come out of hiding. But will she ever be able to take a chance on love again with someone new?

Mixed martial arts fighter Slade Martin knows he has a bad reputation. Hell, he’s probably earned it. So it won’t be easy to convince beautiful, vulnerable Jessica that she can trust him—that from the moment she walked into his life, she’s been the only one he’s wanted. Powerful and confident, Slade knows he can honor his vow to protect Jessica body and soul. Winning her heart will be another matter . . . but a woman like Jessica is worth the fight.


REVIEW: FULL CONTACT is the second installment in Sidney Halston’s adult, contemporary Worth the Fight erotic romance series focusing on the men of MMA and the women that they love. This is thirty three year old MMA fighter Slade Martin and bartender Jessica Cross’s storyline. Although FULL CONTACT is the second in the series, it can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. The series follows the MMA fighters at Worth the Fight Academy in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Told from dual third person points of view the storyline focuses on Jessica’s recovery following a near fatal beating by her ex boyfriend Dennis Stravos. Slade, always the protector, finds himself falling for Jessica ensuring her recovery is under his care-at his home- and in his bed. What ensues is a developing friendship that grows into something more but Slade’s ‘harem’ of women throws Jessica’s emotions into a frenzy; jealousy, betrayal, insecurity and threats against the people she loves, follow Jessica from work to home. In order to protect everyone, Jessica knows it is time to move back home. Breaking Slade’s heart is the only way to protect the man with whom she has fallen in love.

The relationship between Jessica and Slade is a friends to lovers storyline; their attraction to one another is immediate but Slade’s reputation with the ladies precedes his introduction to Jessica and she is unsure about any stable relationship with a man whose one night stands are many. The $ex scenes are captivating, provocative and intense-Slade knows how to please a woman in bed. There is plenty of push and pull throughout the story as Jessica must consider the future-with or without the man that she loves.

The secondary and supporting characters include Jack and Chrissy (Slade’s sister) from book one as well as Francesca Silva-Slade’s new partner at the gym and the woman who catches the eye of Worth the Fight’s newest fighter-Tony Marino. Cain, Violet, Jamie Lynn, Jett, and Travis add color, humor and an interesting take on life and love both in and out of the cage. We are also introduced to Jessica’s parents-two people who wish more for their daughter than to settle in Tarpon Springs; and Dennis Stravos-an up and coming political wannabe with a quick temper and a quicker fist.

The world building takes the reader from the Worth the Fight Academy to the local pub known as the Pier, behind the scenes and into the bedrooms of the MMA fighters. We get an up close view of their training, after hours play, and what goes between fights.

Sidney Halston’s FULL CONTACT is a passionate look the fighters of the MMA- their loves and lives; their failures and wins. Worth the Fight is an imaginative series with romance, love, betrayal and revenge. There are moments of intense drama, and painful realizations followed by intimate and sensual scenes of love. If you are a fan of the MMA storylines, where the hero always gets the woman that he loves, then WORTH THE FIGHT is the series for you.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.



Below the Belt
Worth the Fight #3
by Sidney Halston
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Genre: adult, contemporary,erotic, romance, MMA

Below the Belt

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date February 10, 2015

Once one of the most sought-after names on the mixed martial arts circuit, Antonio “Scarface” Marino watched his career go down for the count as he chased skirts and made tabloid headlines. Now he’s finally making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to Francesca Silva, a Brazilian bombshell as tough as any of her fighters. But who’s the real Francesca: the trash-talking trainer who rides him hard, or the vulnerable woman who blushes at his touch?

Francesca went to the mat to sign Tony because she believes he still has the potential to bring big success to her gym—if she can keep his head in the cage and out of her personal life. After a short-lived marriage soured her on love, a one-night stand is all she can handle. Now Tony’s kisses are stirring up complicated feelings—especially when he agrees to face her ex in the ring. Francesca’s used to freezing guys out. But Tony’s tempting her to give in to the heat.


REVIEW: BELOW THE BELT is the third installment in Sidney Halston’s adult, contemporary Worth the Fight erotic, romance series focusing on MMA fighters and the women that they love. This is thirty five year old MMA fighter Antonio (Tony) Marino and gym owner Francesca Silva whom we first met in FULL CONTACT (book 2). Although this is the third novel in the series, BELOW THE BELT can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty.

The premise focuses on Tony’s upcoming fight and the building relationship between Tony and Francesca. Francesca and Slade Martin (Full Contact book 2) bought the rights to Tony’s contract, and ‘Worth the Fight’ gym/fight club is hoping to make their money back and more. What ensues is Tony’s pursuit of both the title and Francesca-a woman with a cold façade and an even colder attitude. Francesca’s history with men is limited and full of heartbreak. She is an independent heroine with a fragile ego who hides behind a business suit that screams nothing but professional.

The storyline and the relationship are slow to build. As Francesca and Slade work to rebuild the gym, Francesca continues to push Tony away at every opportunity and she is a woman who likes to run when the going gets tough. Francesca and Tony both have a quick temper and are even quicker to jump to conclusions as it pertains to their relationship jealousy and other contenders for their heart. As Tony’s championship fight draws near their personalities, egos, wants and need begin to clash until Tony walks away giving Francesca the space she needs to deal with her past. The sex scenes are intimate, passionate and hot.

The colorful secondary and supporting characters include the previous storyline couples (Slade and Jessica/ Chrissy and Jack) as well as Tony’s large extended family -mother, four sisters, six nieces and a house full of kittens that kept Tony on his toes. We are also introduced to Tony’s next competitor in the ring-a man whose connection to Francesca is a little more than Tony is willing to accept.

The author notes on several occasions the distinction between Tony and Francesca’s heritage. Francesca is Brazilian and Tony is Cuban and this seems to be a bit of a bone of contention or at the very least, a delineation or characterization that necessitated several reminders. The writing style was a little choppy early on; I didn’t quite feel invited into the story but once the storyline began to unfold, the flow was smooth with a more welcoming and engaging style.

BELOW THE BELT is a story about an alpha male who falls in love with a strong, independent woman whose previous relationship and lack of experience sets the tone for her current dilemma. Francesca knows that to fall in love will only bring heartbreak and sorrow-in this, she is a woman determined never to fall in love again.

Sidney Halston invites the reader into the cage, onto the mat, and behind the doors of the MMA fighter. Not only do they fight for their life but they fight for love and a happily ever after.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy


Today’s Third Anniversary Celebration Prize Package

Today’s Third Anniversary Celebration Prize Package

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REMINDER: ALL giveaways require a comment to be eligible for the prize.

ONE (1) winner who will be chosen to receive a SIGNED, HARD COVER copy of THE KING by J. R. Ward.

The King March 2014

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9. Giveaway runs until March 5, 2015


Today’s Third Anniversary Celebration Prize Package

Today’s Third Anniversary Celebration Prize Package

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REMINDER: ALL giveaways require a comment to be eligible for the prize.

ONE (1) winner who will be chosen to receive both paper back copies by Stephanie Thornton.

Package 9

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Locked in Stone by Tory Michaels – a Review

Locked in Stone by Tory Michaels – a Review


Locked in StoneAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM

Rose Johnson’s adoptive mother was murdered, and Rose is next. She may be the last gargoyle in the world—the last being who stands between this world and the evils of Otherworld. In order to keep her existence a continued secret, Rose needs to find the stone that holds her adoptive mother’s soul. Which means enlisting the help of her enemies the Sentinels…

Sentinel Cal Levesque never forgave himself for failing Rose’s family years ago. Seeing Rose alive is shock enough, until the stunningly beautiful gargoyle attacks him upon sight. As they strike an uneasy peace—and unexpected and escalating attraction—Cal knows he’ll have to tell Rose who really betrayed her family. And with Rose’s life in greater danger than ever, Cal has a chance to make up for the past…as long he doesn’t fall in love.




Locked in Stone by Tory Michaels is the first book in her Hearts of Stone series. Locked in Stone is a paranormal fantasy type of storyline; with gargoyles, sentinels, demons, vampires, witches, and angels. In the beginning there is some world building that will take a little bit of time to understand who and what are good and evil. Rose Johnson is our heroine, and she is a Sacred Mother Gargoyle, who has been in hiding for 24 years. It was thought that the three young sacred mothers were destroyed by an attack by Lucifer and his demons.

Cal Levesque is our hero, and he is Sentinel Protectorate that are supposed to protect the Sacred Mothers. Cal blames himself for not being able to save them years before, as he was out on assignment. The Sentinels have a huge compound where they also take care of other Gargoyles to work together to fight evil that threatens to destroy earth and humans.

When Rose’s friend and caretaker, Gwyn is killed, she goes to the Sentinels for help. Cal cannot believe his eyes when he sees Rose alive. As a sacred mother, Rose is the only one who can close the barrier that is slowly opening from the Otherworld to release demons.

What follows is an exciting story that will put Rose’s life in danger, as all the Gargoyles and Sentinels work together to heal the rift. There is also a very nice slow build romance between Cal and Rose, as they find themselves immediately attracted to one another; however Cal is hesitant to act on that attraction, fearing loss of control when protecting Rose.

Rose must also learn to trust her new friends, as she discovers the betrayals during her years on the run. The exciting ending will find their lives in danger, and Rose having to make a decision to save herself and Cal.

I did enjoy this story, and feel the series has a lot of potential. I did have some mixed feelings early on with the confusion of some terminology, and the world building. With this out of the way, I feel that the next book should be even better, and look forward to finding out if they find more Sacred Mothers. Tory Michaels is a new author for me, and has shown a very nice imagination in weaving this story together.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


Wolver’s Rescue (The Wolvers #6) by Jacqueline Rhoades-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Wolver’s Rescue (The Wolvers #5) by Jacqueline Rhoades-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Wolver’s Rescue
The Wolvers #6
by Jacqueline Rhoades
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal romance, wolf shifters
Release Date: February 26, 2015

Wolver's Rescue

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date February 26, 205

Sometimes it’s not the wolves who pose the danger…

There’s a downside to living in a secret society. Someone has to ensure it remains that way. ‘Bull’ Bulworth is that someone. His current assignment: track a young man who has an unrecognized wolf inside him and eliminate the problem before the truth about Wolvers is exposed to the human world. It’s a simple and straightforward assignment until he meets a woman who makes him think crazy might be contagious.

In her own words, Tommie Bane is nuttier than a pecan tree. There’s a voice in her head telling her she is something other than human, and a creature she swears is running around inside her body. Just when she’s at the lowest point in her weird and nutty life, she meets a man who tells her it’s all real. Should she listen to the voice of reason or to the voice in her head that keeps shouting “Mate”?

What do you have to lose when you’ve already lost your mind? For Tommie, it could be her life


Wolver’s Rescue is book sixth in this popular shifter series (Rabbit Creek Santa being a novella). The setting begins in the office of the mysterious Mr. Begley, as he assigns a job to one of his pack, a hunter/enforcer named William “Bull” Bulworth. Bull has a dark and lonely job of hunting and either eliminating (killing) rogue wolvers or changing them to permanently wolf form.

We find our heroine at an asylum for the criminally insane. We find that not all things in this hospital are what they seem.

I don’t do spoilers and this is a marvelous read you’ll want to experience for yourself. Ms. Rhoades has outdone her usual fine job of intricate plotting and marvelous characters. She delves into the dark world of the insane and those who try to make others believe they are. However, it’s not all dark and spooky. The wonderful cast of characters are well written, with humor, sincerity, and even a bit of teen angst. These are people you love to read about and hate to leave them when the story ends.

The plot is intriguing and twisty. You get to discover, along with the cast, the circles within circles of fated meetings and rescues in this marvelously well told story. You learn more about the Wolver community as a whole as the story progresses and the issues of keeping your species a secret from the human community and at the same time trying to find a place to live peacefully with your differences.

I’m sure if you love shifter books, or maybe even if you’ve never read one, this book will thrill you with adventure, danger, humor, and emotion. The love scenes are not gratuitous sex, but natural, loving and very emotional.

Grab your favorite beverage, a box of tissues and settle in for a wonderful ride of fun and emotion!

Enjoy everyone, I certainly did!

Copy supplied by author.

Reviewed by Georgianna

Guest Post beige

Write What You Know. Really?
by Jacqueline Rhoades

Let me begin by saying that I love teachers. I’ve worked with many over the years and the vast majority of them are dedicated to their profession. Why am I telling you this? Because I’m about to lodge a complaint against the dozen or more English teachers I’ve heard in my own career as a student, and through my work as an adult who have used the words, “Write what you know.”, without ever explaining what it means. I suspect it’s because many of them don’t know.

The average third grader will go cross-eyed at these words, instinctively knowing they don’t know much about anything and teenagers, of course, know everything. What about us as adults? I live a pretty boring life and frankly, I like it that way.

Are they saying I can’t write about a high fashion model because I’m short and rather round and spend most of my days in jeans and sweatshirts? How about a woman with expensive fashion taste? I wouldn’t know what to do with a pair of Jimmy Choos, first, because I don’t have the money to buy them and second, because I’d have absolutely nowhere to go in them. And let’s face it folks, what does anybody know about humans shifting into wolves? So, what is it I do know?

I know the peaceful quiet that descends on the woods after a snowfall. I know the eerie grey silence that comes with the eye of a hurricane. I know the embarrassment of giggling at a funeral. I know the profound and miraculous joy of holding a newborn in my arms and the heart stopping joy of having the guy I love look at me in the same way I look at him. I know about heartbreak and loss. The list goes on and on.

There are still things I don’t know. That’s where imagination comes in and a good book can make my imagination soar. What’s it like to not know who you are or where you come from? What’s it like to be drawn to another person without rhyme or reason? What’s it like to be responsible for another person’s death or to know that someone wants you dead? What’s it like to run with the wind? What’s it like to be a wolf?

You’ll notice that everything I’ve written here is not about acts, but about feelings. That’s where the very best fiction writers excel. Those books that remain with us long after the story is told are the ones that allow us to experience the emotions of the characters be it love, lust, anger, excitement, or fear. In the pages of a good book, we may be attracted to the way the characters look, but we become involved with them not because they’re cardboard cutouts of beautiful people, but because of what they carry inside. They touch the emotions we carry within ourselves.

So instead of telling those young, teenaged, or adult would-be writers out there to write what they know, I wish you’d start by saying “Write what you feel.”

About The Author beige

Follow: Goodreads/ Website/ Facebook/ Twitter

Jacqueline RhoadesA New Englander by birth and an Ohioan by choice, Jacqueline, known as Jackie by her friends, makes her home in a small, rural town with one lovable husband, one spoiled dog and one disinterested cat. (The adjectives are often interchangeable). An avid reader from a very early age, Jackie has an eclectic taste for books and therefore has trouble naming a favorite genre or author, though she does admit that for pure personal fantasy and ‘take-me-away’ books, you just can’t beat a good romance.
Jackie believes in the beauty of all women and thinks most women don’t see themselves as they should (herself included). She tries to make the women in her books reflect the best of ‘average’ in a variety of shapes, sizes, personalities and backgrounds, and each is beautiful in her own way. Some of her heroes are movie star handsome, while others are not. All her characters are beautiful in the eyes of their lovers and that, to Jackie, is the most beautiful of all.

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Jacqueline is graciously offering an ecopy of WOLVER’S RESCUE to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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The Tempting of Thomas Carrick (Cynsters 22) by Stephanie Laurens-Book Tour and Promotion

The Tempting of Thomas Carrick (Cynsters 22) by Stephanie Laurens-Book Tour and Promotion

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The Tempting of Thomas Carrick
Cynsters #22
by Stephanie Laurens
Genre: historical romance
Release Date: February 24, 2015

The Tempting of Thomas Carrick

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date February 24, 2015

Add to your GOODREADS shelf.

Thomas Carrick is determined to make his own life in the bustling port city of Glasgow, far from the demands of the Carrick clan, eventually with an appropriate wife on his arm. But disturbing events on his family’s estate force Thomas to return to the Scottish countryside—where he is forced to ask for help from the last woman he wants to face. Thomas has never forgotten Lucilla Cynster and the connection that seethes between them, but to marry Lucilla would mean embracing a life he’s adamant is not for him.

Strong-willed and passionate, Lucilla knows Thomas is hers—her fated lover, husband, protector, mate. He is the only man for her, just as she is his one true love. How can he ignore a bond stronger than reason and choose a different path? She’s determined to fight for their future, and while she cannot command him, she has enticements of her own to wield when it comes to tempting Thomas Carrick.

Excerpt beige


He knew they had to stop, to cease and desist before he lost all hope of ever stepping back from her. Of ever letting her go.
But her hand remained on his cheek, her touch scalding in a way that had nothing to do with heat, effortlessly holding him captive. Holding his senses, snaring them in a net of want from which he couldn’t break free.
His senses and his mind were literally reeling.
She seemed to know, to realize.
But instead of comprehending the danger, pulling back, and letting him go, she reached—with her lips, with her body, with the gentle pressure of her hand on his cheek.
A sudden clattering clang of hooves on cobbles snapped them both free; on a mutual gasp, both pulled back from the kiss.
The sharp clatter was followed by shouts and calls.
For one instant, they remained locked together, gazing into each other’s eyes. Both of them were breathing rapidly. His pulse thudded in his ears.
Then the calls rising from below hauled them both fully back to the here and now.
They stepped apart. Side by side, they moved to the window.
That end of the disused wing overlooked the stable yard. On the cobbles below, they saw Nigel and Nolan, still mounted, their horses dancing, infected by the brothers’ transparently ebullient spirits.
Nigel had called for the stablemen—that had been the summons Thomas and Lucilla had heard—but Sean, Mitch, and Fred were taking their time.
Thomas watched as the stablemen slowly ambled across the yard and—it seemed grudgingly—held Nigel’s and Nolan’s horses. Apparently oblivious to the almost sullen disapprobation radiating from their clansmen, the brothers continued exchanging comments with each other as they dismounted, then haphazardly flung their reins toward the stablemen and started toward the house.
There were no greetings exchanged between the stablemen and the young masters of the house. As far as Thomas could see, there hadn’t even been any true acknowledgment of each other—a remarkable contrast to when he’d ridden in.
Frowning, he stepped back from the window. Less than a second’s thought sufficed to suggest that making his presence known to Nigel sooner rather than later would serve everyone, Manachan especially, best.
He looked at Lucilla. She was still gazing down at the stable yard, at the stablemen leading the horses away. Even though he couldn’t see her eyes, from her pensive, assessing expression it was clear that she’d detected the strain between the two groups of men and, like him, found it curious.
“I should go and break the news to Nigel.” He took another step back. When she turned to look at him, he pointed over his shoulder at the door just along the corridor. “That’s the door to the gallery in the main wing.” Briefly, he met her gaze. “I’ll see you later.”
He didn’t wait to see if she would reply; he turned on his heel, strode to the door, and escaped.
Lucilla watched him go. He left the door ajar; whether he’d meant to or not, it was a clear invitation to follow. Which she fully intended to do.
The kiss…had been everything she’d wanted. Even more than she’d dreamed of. But now Nigel and Nolan had arrived, such personal matters had to be set aside—for the moment. Until later.




Thomas and Lucilla are both especially strong and stubborn characters, as so many of your heroes and heroines are. Is there a particular reason for this a) in general, and b) in this particular case?

In the general sense, I’ve always used strong characters because the scale and intensity of emotional clashes between such characters is more powerful, has the potential to be more wide-ranging, and is also likely to strike brighter sparks. A strong character doesn’t give way when someone opposes them or gets in the way of their will and drive—they immediately push back, and that refusal to back away is one of the key elements that leads such a pair of characters deeper and deeper into Cupid’s snare as they are forced to adjust and adapt to each other–a critical element of establishing an emotional partnership.
There’s a general assumption that strong and confident characters will have an easier time dealing with love, however, in reality I think it’s the opposite, and such characters find the existence of an emotion strong enough to make them change difficult to accept.

Which brings me rather neatly to Thomas and Lucilla. He is the ultimate strong character with a very powerful, emotional, and deeply personal reason to shut himself off from love. Against that, Lucilla, an equally strong character, is unswervingly convinced that they are fated to love and marry—but she, too, has a few lessons to learn in what love—even a fated love—will demand.

In short, my motivation for using strong characters can be summed up as: the stronger they are, the more they resist and, ultimately, the harder they fall.

Readers first met Thomas Carrick in the Cynster holiday special By Winter’s Light. Did his earlier meeting with Lucilla described in that book affect the pair’s actions in this book?

That earlier meeting in By Winter’s Light sets the stage for Thomas and Lucilla’s romance. Both of them leave that first encounter with the knowledge that the other could be their future spouse. Lucilla is ready to accept that Thomas is her fated future husband, lover, and consort, but Thomas, having experienced a complementary visceral connection to Lucilla, concludes that, as he wishes to avoid love, then she is someone he would be wise to avoid.
So from the instant they part after that first encounter, they are set on opposing tracks—Lucilla expecting and waiting for Thomas to return to her side and claim her hand, and Thomas doing his level best to stay far away.

It’s a standoff, until the actions at the start of The Tempting of Thomas Carrick force—literally force—them together again.

Deerhounds feature in By Winter’s Light and also in The Tempting of Thomas Carrick. Why deerhounds?

I needed a large dog to accompany Thomas through the snowstorm in By Winter’s Light, a dog big enough to physically assist, and also the sort of dog that might have been in such a community—a gentry family in the Scottish uplands of the period. So I went searching for breeds of dogs, and stumbled upon Scottish deerhounds. The more I read about them, the more perfect they seemed, and so Hesta padded onto my stage, and from there, the addition of Artemis and Apollo was an obvious extrapolation.
The dogs are fascinating—a shaggy, curly-coated, quite large breed built for speed and with superb eyesight. They are sight-hounds, and also track on the ground by scent, and as their name suggests, were specifically bred to hunt deer in the rugged terrain.

However, the real impact of the deerhounds, story-wise, doesn’t occur until the next book, A Match for Marcus Cynster, in which the packs we learn about through The Tempting of Thomas Carrick, come into their own and play an active role in Marcus and his lady’s adventures.

Both By Winter’s Light and The Tempting of Thomas Carrick are set in Scotland, in the south western uplands. Were there any particular challenges in using such a setting?

By Winter’s Light and The Tempting of Thomas Carrick are both centered on the Vale of Casphairn, which was a setting first introduced in Scandal’s Bride, the story of Richard and Catriona, Lucilla and Marcus’s parents (more on that below). Thus the settings for the recent books were not a matter of choice, but rather mandated, a necessary return to a previous place.

Such a wild country setting is very useful on the one hand, and a drawback on the other. The rugged beauty and landscape is a plus, while the isolation and the distance from any larger town or place of social congregation severely limits the opportunities for social events, even country house dinners. Consequently, the action in the story remains at all times strongly focused on the interaction between the two principal characters, with little to no distraction from external events. That puts a heavier burden on the romance plot than would be the case in a more urban setting, but that does mean the romance dominates and is always front and center. So there’s positives and negatives in using such a setting, but, overall, such settings definitely have their place when writing romances.

In this book, you also take readers to Glasgow—you paint quite a cosmopolitan picture of the town. How true to life is that depiction?

I admit that my first mental vision of Glasgow was as a heavily industrialized town, centered on shipping on the Clyde. While the importance of shipping on the Clyde was correct, in the mid-1800s, Glasgow was a thriving merchant center with distinct aspirations toward the sophistication, polish, and civilized amenity we might associate with a seaport like Boston. In this period, Glasgow was a major merchant hub, and it was therefore highly prosperous, and the resulting wealth found expression in the houses and squares, the well-appointed offices and genteel clubs and in the evolving social scene.

Readers are familiar with Casphairn Manor, and the Vale of Casphairn, but the nearby village is Carsphairn. Was there a reason for the difference?

This is one of those tales of things that “would not happen now.” I wrote the first novel featuring the Vale of Casphairn and Casphairn Manor back in the days before Google Maps. Or any sort of satellite imagery, or even ready access to detailed maps via the internet. At the time, I had several detailed maps of England, but as the village of Carsphairn is a very small settlement, it was shown in small—not to say tiny and non-expandable—font. So I read the name as Casphairn, not the correct Carsphairn.

Years later, when I was writing Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue, where the characters spend time in the Vale and at the manor, I was using Google Maps to study the areas to the east of where I had positioned the Vale, and when I zoomed in…I saw that the village name was really Carsphairn! Horrors! Luckily, I don’t think I’ve ever actually said the village itself was called Casphairn, only the Vale and the manor, but it was too late to change those—they’d already been written into history. So the Vale and the manor, both of which are fictitious, remain as Casphairn, while the village is correctly named Carsphairn.

Out of curiosity, I did go back to the original map. To the naked eye, it still looks like Casphairn—only with the help of a strong magnifying glass can you see that extra r.

Lucilla’s position as healer to the Vale community, and, indeed, all people under The Lady’s protection, features strongly in this book. How common were such healers?

Despite the rise of more formal medicine and the doctors who practiced it, traditional folk healers—those we might now term homeopathic healers or herbalists—were not uncommon into the late 1800s in England. In country areas, they would almost always be the first consulted, even by those living in the larger, wealthier houses. The history of herbal remedies is very deep and broad throughout the British Isles, and the more isolated the community, the greater the distance from a major town, the more likely that the people would turn first to the local “healer.” Midwifery and the treatment of common ailments remained largely the province of such healers even into the 1900s.

That said, as mentioned in this book and the next, in this period, when it came to interacting with the apparatus of law and order, for instance in formally reporting a death, the “doctor”—meaning a man formally trained in the western medical tradition—would be the one sent for.

This book is the first of the Cynster Next Generation Novels, and will be followed by Lucilla’s twin brother, Marcus’s story in June. Are there more Cynster Next Generation Novels to come?

Yes, indeed! As By Winter’s Light was in essence a pivotal volume, shifting focus from the original Bar Cynster generation to the lives of their near-adult children, and within the tale of By Winter’s Light were the seeds of Lucilla’s romance, then her book had to come first, in The Tempting of Thomas Carrick. And within Lucilla’s story lie the seeds of Marcus’s story, and as he is her twin, his book, A Match for Marcus Cynster, had to come next. It will be released on May 26, 2015.

But at the end of The Tempting of Thomas Carrick, and even more definitely at the end of A Match for Marcus Cynster, we catch up with the other Cynsters now facing up to the challenge of marriage and finding a suitable spouse. We see and appreciate that all is not going to be smooth sailing for such very robust individuals, neither the males nor the females. There are at least 6 more Cynster Next Generation novels to come—the romances of Devil’s three children, Sebastian, Michael, and Louisa, and those of the remaining “older group”—Prudence, Christopher, and Antonia Rawlings. After that…well, I’m sure that by the time I finish Louisa’s tale, we’ll know a lot more about Annabelle, Juliet, and Therese. And I already know what Calvin and Carter get up to, which should prove a lot of fun. Lots more to enjoy!

About The Author beige

Stephanie Laurens#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens began writing romances as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career when her first novel was accepted for publication, and with entirely becoming alacrity, she gave up writing about facts in favor of writing fiction.

Laurens’s novels are set in the time period of the British Regency, and her settings range from Scotland to India. Laurens has published fifty works of historical romance, including 29 New York Times bestsellers. All her works are continuously available in print and digital formats in English worldwide, and have been translated into many other languages. An international bestseller, among other Stephanie’s email contactsaccolades Laurens has received the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA Award for Best Romance Novella 2008, for The Fall of Rogue Gerrard.

Website: http://www.stephanielaurens.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorStephanieLaurens

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9241.Stephanie_Laurens


Blood Legacy (The V.V.Inn #4) by C.J. Ellisson-review and book tour

Blood Legacy (The V.V. Inn #4) by C.J. Ellisson-review and book tour

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Blood Legacy
The V.V. Inn #4
by CJ Ellisson
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal, UF
Release Date: February 25, 2015

Blood Legacy

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BLOOD LEGACY (The V.V.Inn #4) by CJ Ellisson

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date February 25, 2015

Despite surviving silver poisoning, Vivian isn’t out of the fire yet. Rolando is still alive, as is his desire to eliminate all manipulator vampires like her. The streets of Buenos Aires prove to be a tricky hunting ground for Vivian and her husband Rafe, especially when a paranormal serial killer starts leaving bodies behind.

Overwhelmed amidst the city’s chaos, they seek help from Jon, Vivian’s werewolf servant and the couple’s right-hand man. As the deaths continue, a local alpha under scrutiny for the crimes threatens to blame Jon and reveal his master’s daytime location—if they don’t find the real culprit.

It’s a race for the trio to stop the killings, uncover the truth, and catch the vampire responsible for Vivian’s torture—before the supernatural locals pick up their proverbial pitchforks and stop them all, for good.

Warning: This book contains adult content (violence, blood, and sex) and is intended for readers over 18.


REVIEW: BLOOD LEGACY is the fourth full-length installment in CJ Ellisson’s adult, contemporary The V.V.Inn paranormal, UF series focusing on Vivian Alexandria (Dria)- a 580+ year old ancient vampire with a special ability known only to a few. BLOOD LEGACY begins immediately after the events of book three-THE BIG GAME.

Told from three alternating points of view (Vivian, Rafe, Jon) their continuing story finds Vivian, her husband Rafe, and Vivian’s werewolf servant Jon remaining in Buenos Aires following an attempt on both Vivian and Rafe’s lives. While the vampire Tribunal takes no responsibility for the attack against the couple, Vivian sets out with Rafe and Jon to uncover the who and why. What ensues is a game of cat and mouse with witches, warlocks, mythological demons and shape shifters of all kinds. A trail of dead ‘supernatural’ bodies finds our trio following the clues to an unknown assassin.

The relationship between Vivian and Rafe is sensual and erotic. This is a couple who are madly in love with one another; there is no denying their attraction. Jon, Vivian’s servant, is slowly pulling away from his all consuming need of Vivian-Jon’s new love interest is unknown to his vampire master. Rafe and Jon’s relationship is combative, energetic and quarrelsome; the bickering duo continue to push one another’s buttons.

Because the focus of the storyline remains in Buenos Aires, there is little to no mention of The V.V.Inn and the other members of Vivian’s Seethe. We hope to read more about the other werewolves and vampires upon Vivian’s return to Alaska.

CJ Ellisson blends a paranormal storyline with a contemporary setting where the sights and sounds of Buenos Aires are the playground for many supernatural beings. We are taken on a journey through the back alleys, back yards and sewers in the search for an ancient creature, once thought only to exist in stories. BLOOD LEGACY is another fascinating and action packed installment in CJ Ellisson’s THE V.V. Inn paranormal, urban fantasy series.

The V.V. Inn Series

Reading Order and Reviews
Death’s Servant
Just One Taste is a FREE read on CJ’s website-> CLICK HERE
Vampire Vacation
Another Sip
The Hunt
Big Game
Death Times Two
Blood Legacy

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy




After being almost killed by silver poisoning, I’m recovering nicely. Most people think vampires are immortal, and I can understand why with how long our kind can normally exist. But if you can be killed by any means, then you aren’t technically immortal, right? I prefer the term semi-mortal. Lord knows I’ve certainly killed more than my fair share of vampires, and I can attest that we are not immune to death.

I stretch on the chaise lounge, gazing up at the late afternoon cloud coverage revealed by the clear atrium panels above me. It’s a nice winter day in late June, three weeks after I escaped from capture, off the southeastern coast of Argentina, and a semblance of peace finally fills me.

Drew, one of the vampires in my seethe, or vampire family, strides into the inner garden of our large Spanish-style hacienda and clears his throat. “Vivian,” he says, calling me by the nickname most everyone uses instead of my real name, Dria, short for Alexandria. “Do you really think shipping us home to Alaska is the best idea? We all want to stay and help.”

I glance up at the tall, slender man, noting his healthy hue and the sexually satisfied air about him. Judging by the noises drifting from his suite every night since our return to the island, he and Chelly have been exploring their new relationship status, vampire and servant, every chance they’ve had.

“You’re not strong enough for this fight, Drew, and neither are the others. I appreciate your loyalty and decision to stay to see things through, but I won’t risk your safety for my own.”

Frustration appears to simmer beneath his smooth facade. “I take it there’s nothing I can say or do to prove we’d be an asset?”

I rise from my comfortable spot on the lounge chair. “Think about it—you might be a help, but what about the others? Can you say the same for any of them?” I angle my head and go for a low blow. “Could you live with yourself if your desire to protect your master led to their deaths? Would you sleep well during the day knowing Chelly died before she had to?”

Drew’s handsome face crumples, his noble intent twisting within. “Not fair, Viv. Not fair. Dammit!” He paces away before whipping around to face me again. “Deep down, I know you’re right, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept it without complaint.”

I walk toward him, reaching out a hand in comfort. My grip rests lightly on his forearm as I push my will into him, not quite using my full manipulator traits that can sway any vampire to my way of thinking, but I give him a mental shove past his immediate anger to offer clear thinking. “I know where your heart lies, and I don’t mean regarding Chelly. I know you would fight to the death beside me, without hesitation. But I have need of you elsewhere.” His brow quirks up in question. “You will be the one to protect all I hold dear. You will be the strongest left in Alaska should trouble befall them while I’m gone.”

Irritation at my words spills into his tone. “What good will I be in Alaska during the summer? I’d be living indoors and traveling via the tunnels the entire time.”

“Do you really think a vampire weakened by the sun is still not strong enough or clever enough to protect those who matter to him? Do you think a man, or group of men, could outwit you at your lowest? You are over a century and a half old, Drew. By no means are you on the same level—in any sense—as Paul or the werewolves.”

He smiles. “I see exactly what you’re doing, you conniving woman. Building me up to make me feel important with what you want me to do. All right, I’ll go quietly—whether I agree with you or not about how much good I’ll be while cooped up inside.”

“Good. Now, onto the more important question: Do you trust Paul to share the flying duties home with you?”

“Uh… no, not yet. But either way, we can’t fly during the day.”

I smile, glad the issue of them leaving will be dropped. “Not to worry. I’ve arranged for several top-notch pilots you can pick up in Buenos Aires.”

Once Drew departs, I return to the personal suite I usually share with my human husband, intending to do some yoga. The stretching and muscle work has helped realign my spiritual balance with the physical healing. Thanks to Rafe, I’ve fully regained my strength from the silver trauma a few weeks ago.

The ones responsible for my imprisonment and torture, Coraline and her cohorts, were killed by my husband in a brutal display of his defensive nature. Only one man—Rolando—remains for us to track down in Buenos Aires. Hopefully, finding him will put an end to the hunt for other manipulator vampires like me. As far as I know, I’m still the only one who has escaped extermination over the last few centuries.

While I rested and recovered, Rafe explored the underbelly of the Argentine city extensively, making sure his casual occupation stayed unnoticed by the ruling Tribunal of Ancients. His protective instincts toward me have barreled to the surface, and I’ve found I rather like this side of him.

After the worst of my damage was healed through copious amounts of blood and lots of deep restorative sleep, the dead-to-the-world type only the undead can take, we split up—him staying in the city to investigate, and me journeying back to our island off the coast of southeastern Argentina to tend to the family of caretakers. Their minds needed delicate fixing from the damage done by the same people who tried to kill me.

The island caretakers were not harmed permanently, and I have to admit, what was done to their minds was so subtle it didn’t require much effort on my part to repair. The island hideaway they help keep in tip-top shape is where we spend most of the Argentine winter, only venturing to Buenos Aires when there’s a big Tribunal shin-dig.

But this year was different.

Not only did we initially arrive weeks earlier than normal, with most of our new seethe traveling with us, but now we’re sending Drew, Chelly, and the others home to Alaska during the region’s summer months—which is typically singe and die season for vampires above the Arctic Circle. The extensive tunnels and safeguards built into the resort will keep the returning vampires alive, so I’m not worried on that end. They’ll be safe and—by the end of the long stretches of seemingly never-ending daylight—bored with cabin fever.

I’m sure Asa, the ex-military vampire responsible for the resort’s security, will be happy to have them back. Recently, he’s had his hands full with helping to exorcise ghosts at the inn. The apparitions were of the humans and supernaturals who’d died during the past year’s adventures. By the lighter lilt in his voice during our last conversation, it sounded like Asa may have found a female diversion this summer, too. Good, the man needs to let someone in.

Sending them home while Rafe and I get to the bottom of things here is the smartest solution. I will not let guilt sway me.

In the end, it was the others and not Drew who protested nonstop about returning home last night, tempting me beyond belief to force them to my will, but I managed to resist and smile benignly during their blathering.

Above all, Rafe and I need to focus on finding Rolando and putting an end to this drama. Having the others here, even if they stayed on the island and not in the direct path of my enemies, could be dangerous—not to mention a distraction I don’t want to take on. I’d worry about their safety.

Someone could succeed in finding them again, even on our tiny middle-of-nowhere island, to use against me. In comparison, the inn is more of a secure, secluded fortress than many of them realize. It’s the perfect place to await an enemy, especially when you know the property as well as we do.

Doubt creeps into me and I squash it, determined not to second guess my resolve regarding Jon and our plans to fly him down. As an alpha werewolf, he would be the best choice to stay and safeguard the seethe at the inn. But, whether I like it or not, I need him here by my side, to hunt down Rolando.

What prompted a hidden sect within the Tribunal—one hell bent on tracking and killing manipulators, a rare breed of vampire thought long exterminated—to hunt me down?

Has the story of Coraline’s tampered memories, which I was responsible for on her last visit to Alaska, spread among their supporters? Did I reveal myself unknowingly through another channel? Has my arrogance in always assuming I could handle anything thrown my way with a simple bending of my will finally backfired on me?

How did they know to look for me? Who pointed them in my direction? Have others, vampires older than me, suspected my secret for centuries and yet never acted to eliminate me? And if yes, why? Was it out of fear, or with the hope to someday use me and my skills to their advantage?

I shake my head, eager to dispel the uncharacteristic self-doubt. The wondering of why and how my hidden traits have been discovered is not important. Tracking down those who wish me harm and killing them is.

Resolve swells within me, strengthening with the deep breath I draw into my lungs. I will find those responsible. I will secure the safety of those pledged to me. I will—

My cell rings, cutting off my internal diatribe.

The screen reveals it’s Rafe. I grab the device and answer it. “Yes? Why are you calling me on the phone?” Referring to his choice to use technology rather than connect with me telepathically, as he usually does.

“Your thoughts were all over the place. And growing rather dark, truth be told. I thought calling you might snap you out of it better than rudely barging into your private musings.”

“Fine. I was also thinking of Jon—did you catch those thoughts, too?”

“Yes, and you’re right. We do need him here. He’ll be an asset more than a hindrance, I think. When can he get here? And will you have him fly to the city or the island?”

I bite my lip, ruminating on his questions. “He’s schedule to leave in a few hours, and will arrive late tomorrow. I think having him journey directly to Buenos Aires would be the smartest use of time. I’ve chartered a plane and will fly in tonight.”

“Good. Did the others leave already?”

“Yes, last night, right as the sun went down. They had a brief stop in the city to pick up more pilots.”

“Time to do what we mentioned months ago—‘beard the lion in his den.’”

I snort, unable to contain the sarcasm waiting to escape. “Oh yes, that worked so beautifully for us last time, didn’t it?”

“Hey, things didn’t go as planned, I’ll grant you that, but any battle you can walk away from with your life is considered a win, trust me.” A teasing note enters his voice. “Are you sure you’re not more annoyed that I did most of the killing and maiming this time?”

Flashes of blood and dismembered bodies skitter across my mind, small glimpses of what I recall from when I awoke in the underground rooms beneath the Tribunal headquarters, also known as the Seat of Darkness and the base of all vampire kind.

Rafe’s actions may have surprised our new seethemates who were with him, Drew and Paul, but I’ve known what my husband is capable of for a very long time. “I don’t think that’s it. Or more accurately, I don’t think that’s the only thing.” A sigh escapes me. “I think we walked into a bigger mess than we bargained for, and I’d rather make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“We can’t begin to formulate a plan of attack until we’re well aware of who our enemy is and where they’re located. The basic knowledge of where the Tribunal lies is not enough. Who else is visiting this season? Are all the ancients in attendance or are some traveling? Where do they stay during their restorative sleep—meaning a private residence or in the extensive underground holdings of the Tribunal?”

He’s not saying anything we haven’t discussed before, so I redirect and ask about recent developments. “Have you had any luck in tracking down Rolando?”

“No, none. And it’s damn frustrating, I can tell you that. The big bastard didn’t up and disappear, that’s for sure.”

“What about Justin? Have you discovered where he lives yet?”

“I’ve narrowed the wizard’s location down to a diverse barrio on the outskirts of San Telmo, one of the city’s older neighborhoods. But no set address. The area has lots of herbal shops with hard to find magical ingredients.”

“That sounds more like an ideal location for a coven of witches than a wizard.”

“Well, where would you have me start looking? Should I knock on the Tribunal’s door and ask where they hide their pet wizardling?”

A grunt of frustration seeps past my lips. “No. You’re fine. I almost hate to admit it, but tracking is better suited to Jon’s natural abilities than yours.”

“Oh yes, the furball. Do you plan to have him take his wolf form and sniff like a dog to track?”

“Come now, dear, don’t make this harder than it needs to be. He is a strength. He is a valuable asset to us.”

His voice tightens, showing his inner turmoil and anguish. “Who are you trying to convince—me or you?”

“You, you dork. I know I need him. Now more than ever. Suck it up, buttercup.” My voice deepens, taking on a husky tone. “It’s not like I want him the way I want you. He’s not the one I dream of every time I close my eyes. It’s not his love, his very essence of life, that brought me back from the edge of insanity and darkness,” I say, referring to the moment I nearly died and Rafe’s devotion and love saved me.

“Okay, you’ve made your point. I’ll play nice with the werewolf. Any hint or rumor he may have found a mate during last month’s big game hunting fiasco with all the werewolves?”

I shrug, realize he can’t see my movement, and say, “I’m not sure.”

“What? How can that be? How could you not be sure of what your vampire servant is doing at any given time?”

“You know I gave him distance when we left—and I don’t mean physically, I mean with our mental connection. He’s still there, in the back of my mind. But I’ve given him privacy, not wanting to intrude when he has the chance to be free of my influence for once.”

“Is that the best course of action when you claim to ‘need him’ now?”

“I’ll allow the connection to strengthen when he journeys here, but I want to keep some mental distance in place for him. He needs it. His uncontrollable obsessive desires were overcoming his waking thoughts, he needed the break to heal and find himself again.”

“All right, enough about the poor lost puppy. When did you say he’ll arrive?”

“Tuesday night. We’ll meet him at the airport in the city. How is the house hunting coming along?”

I hear the happiness in his voice. “I’ve found several suitable accommodations,” he says. “You’ll like them, I’m sure.”

A rush of images floods my mind. Stately residences in the posh neighborhoods near the heart of the city, rooms with high ceilings and ornate moldings, and hearths with big roaring fires.

“Good. I miss you, my darling. It’s only been two weeks and I still think it’s too long.”

“You’re just hungry for my blood, aren’t you?”

“Among other things…”

A gentle tingle of sensation indicates my husband’s mind reaching out to mine. And I miss you too, liebling. We’ll be together soon. Not to worry.


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About The author

Follow: Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

CJ EllissonC.J. Ellisson is the USA Today Bestselling author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Vanilla on Top, the bestselling V V Inn series, and several erotica shorts. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, two children, three dogs, and a fluffy black cat who makes her sneeze.

Unlike most full-time authors, she’s also battling severe chronic illness. C.J. works daily to put her Lupus into remission and continues to fight numerous bacterial infections while her immune system slowly attacks her body. She turned to writing when she could no longer work outside the home and claims the escape of penning contemporary fantasy, erotica, and erotic romance has helped save her sanity.

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