Down by Contact (The Barons #2) by Santino Hassell-Review, Interview & Giveaway

DOWN BY CONTACT (The Barons #2) by Santino Hassell-Review, Interview and Giveaway

Down by Contact Banner

The Barons
By Santino Hassell
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, M/M, football romance

Down By Contact / / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 16, 2018

Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.

Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.

At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…


REVIEW: DOWN BY CONTACT is the second instalment in Santino Hassell’s contemporary, adult THE BARONS erotic, M/M, football romance series focusing on the professional football players of the New York Barons. This is Barons’ quarterback Simeon Boudreaux, and New Jersey Predators’ linebacker Adrian Bravo’s story line. DOWN BY CONTACT can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary.

NOTE: DOWN BY CONTACT is an M/M romance story line with sexually graphic language, text and situations that may not be suitable for all readers.

Told from dual first person perspectives (Simeon and Adrian) DOWN BY CONTACT follows the enemies to lovers relationship between one-time teammates New York Baron’s quarterback Simeon Boudreaux, and New Jersey Predators’ linebacker Adrian Bravo. Following a less than stellar start with the Predators, Simeon Boudreaux was traded to the New York Baron’s where his star power is on the rise, but in the ensuing time rumors and innuendo about betrayal and playbook theft dogged our hero from the opposing team, but none more so than from one-time teammate and friend Adrian Bravo. Simeon’s recent forced ‘coming out’ prompted a firestorm of media sensation including the homophobic diatribes from a man he once call a friend. Enter Adrian Bravo, New Jersey Predator’s linebacker, and the man with whom Simeon would fall in love. A preseason, on-field brawl between our leading couple finds Simeon and Adrian facing suspension with team ordered volunteer work at a local children’s shelter. What ensues is the building relationship between Simeon and Adrian as they are forced to work together for the benefit of a children’s summer camp, and the potential threat to Adrian’s career when their relationship is revealed.

Adrian Bravo always thought he was a heterosexual male until the day he met teammate Simeon Boudreaux but Adrian had to keep up appearances in front of his team fearing rejection and ridicule at the hands of the media and his so-called friends. Social media attacks against Simeon Boudreaux quickly made Adrian an enemy in more ways than one. Simeon Boudreaux was previously ‘outed’ by several jealous fans who posted sensitive images for all to see but discovering that Adrian Bravo, quite possibly, wanted something more than a rekindling friendship brought hope to a man who was potentially looking for a happily ever after.

The relationship between Simeon and Adrian is an enemies to friends to lovers romance; a second chance friendship that continues to build as they must work together towards a common goal. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic and intense without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.My only complaint is the lack of condom usage. Although this is a story of fiction, in an era of STDs and AIDS, I believe the author ( or for that matter, everyone) has a responsibility to promote safer $ex.

We are reintroduced to Barons’ tight end Gavin Brawley, and his personal assistant Noah Monroe (Illegal Contact #1); running back Marcus Hendricks and his fiance Jasmine; and second-string quarterback Noah Monroe; Simeon’s agent Mel Hawkins’, and Adrian’s agent Casey Rose; several young teens and counselors at the Grant Street Center, Simeon’s mother Joanne Boudreaux, Adrian’s parents, as well as Adrian’s embattled teammate Rocky Swoops.

DOWN BY CONTACT is a sexy, sassy and spirited story line; an inspiring and heart warming romance about passion, perception, discrimination and love. The premise is encouraging and energetic; the romance is sensual and provocative; the characters are dynamic and realistic.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of book one-ILLEGAL CONTACT

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Santino and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the recent release of DOWN BY CONTACT.

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

Follow: Facebook Goodreads / Website / Twitter

Santino HassellSantino: First of all, thank you so much for interviewing me! I guess the most succinct way to explain my background as a fiction writer is to explain that I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. As a kid, I was the type to keep journals full of songs and poetry, then it upgraded to me writing short stories about my friends and I. All of it was wishful thinking and how I wished my life was different. Later, I moved onto writing fanfiction and original fiction. Once I found out there was a whole market for queer romance, I jumped down the rabbit hole and haven’t looked back.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Santino: I was really influenced by writers like Jordan Castillo Price, Amy Jo Cousins, and more recently Molly O’Keefe. Writers who tackle interesting issues and perspectives with characters who have a very strong voice. Also, I’m really drawn to grittier romances about people who have to fight to get their happy endings, which is why my own writing tends to trend in that direction.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties have you encountered writing and publishing your stories?

Santino: One of my main challenges, and I think the challenge of queer romance writers in general, is my desire for my books to not be treated as a separate subgenre because the characters aren’t straight. This isn’t something that can be changed by one person, or even a few people, but eventually I’d love for these books to be shelved right alongside M/F romance novels.

Down By ContactTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of DOWN BY CONTACT and The Barons series?

Santino: The premise of The Barons is essentially “troubled athletes finding love”. Book 1, Illegal Contact, saw the main character suspended and on house arrest following a public brawl, and in Down by Contact the main characters are also in hot water after getting in a fight on the field with each other. Football is such an aggressive sport filled with these athletes who are driven by competitiveness and ego that I wanted to explore that in the series.

TRC: What type of research/plotting do you do, and how long do you spend researching /plotting before beginning a book?

Santino: Before I started the Barons, I read several memoirs of athletes and agents to get an idea of how the sport works on the inside. Besides knowing what goes on during the game, I wanted to know what happens in negotiations, between players and their agents or managers, and definitely in the locker room.

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

Santino: Humans are so unpredictable as a species that sometimes the story tells itself depending on the characters I’ve created. If you start with creating characters from the ground up, with all their background, influences, and life experiences, you have totally different people who will react differently in various scenarios. So, in book 1, Gavin reacted to a friend being threatened by… chasing that person down. He was driven by loyalty and overprotectiveness. In book 2, both Simeon and Adrián are driven by competitiveness and pride—it drives them to engage in a social media feud that gets physical, and ultimately causes them to get trapped together where they take start up a sexier kind of challenge. They basically cannot help but try to one-up each other.

TRC: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?

Santino: I pretty much figured out what works for me in terms of drafting. Basically, that I NEED a detailed outline to survive a draft!

TRC: What was your hardest scene –ever–to write?

Illegal ContactSantino: Honestly, some of my most challenging scenes are always action oriented. In The Barons, writing the football scenes always end with me double checking my descriptions, rereading about fifty times, and then asking my beta readers to pay close attention to the details. I’m always terrified of getting something wrong.

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?

Santino: I definitely think it’s important to catching a reader’s attention. As a reader myself, I’m inundated by hundreds of books when I step into a bookstore or go on Amazon, so an amazing cover will stand out from the rest and grab me. After that, the blurb will be the deciding factor on whether I buy.

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

Santino: I try to direct the characters but, as trite as it sounds, they don’t always follow the script. Usually, they develop in such a way over time in the draft that their actions shift and change, and I have to revise my outline. For example, in Down by Contact, I did not initially intend for Adrián to be smitten with Simeon first, but it happened organically.

TRC: How do you select the names of your characters?

Santino: I don’t have a super scientific process. I tend to go by background, region they grew up in and their parents’ personalities, and use something believable based on all those factors.

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?

Santino: Creating characters that are multi-faceted is important in that regard. Characters need their own histories, motivations, and life experiences so they feel real. In books where I’ve struggled to form an emotional connection with the characters, it was because they were two-dimensional and had no motivations other than overcoming the main conflict in the story.

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

Santino: I do listen to mood music while writing. In the past, I’ve listened to the type of music that I thought my characters would be listening to. Now, I tend to listen to something mellow and calming that won’t distract me. It usually leads to me picking a station on Spotify.

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

Santino: A misconception about me… is probably that I have a plan and know what I’m doing. Most of the time, though, I’m winging it. In terms of an overall misconception about authors—I would say many people I meet seem to believe authors just write in their spare time as a hobby. Usually people who aren’t voracious readers are the ones who make comments implying professional authors just casually pen novels on the side for fun. They have no idea how time-consuming and stressful the craft can be.

TRC: What is something that few, if anybody, knows about you?

Santino: I plan to start writing M/F romance and one day try my shot at YA!

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Santino:I’m currently starting book 3 in The Barons series—Use of Hands. You meet the hero in Down by Contact. His love interest was introduced in book 1.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Santino: Thank you so much for having me! I hope everyone loves Simeon and Adrián.


Favorite Food: Spaghetti

Favorite Dessert: Cookies

Favorite TV Show: Shameless, at the moment

Last Movie You Saw: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Milk Chocolate

Secret Celebrity Crush: Clive Owen

Last Vacation Destination: New Orleans

Do you have any pets? 2 cats, 1 dog

Last book you read: Relay by Layla Reyne

TRC:  Thank you Santino for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on your new release.


Santino Hassell’s publisher is graciously offering a paperback ARC of DOWN BY CONTACT to ONE lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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

NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging onto the site, please refresh the page (at the top of your computer).

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

3. LIKE Santino Hassell on Facebook

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

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

6. Please FOLLOW us on GOODREADS for an additional entry.

7. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr

8. Giveaway open to USA only

9.. Giveaway runs from January 18-23, 2018

Penguin Random House logo


Blood Fury (Black Dagger Legacy #3) by JR Ward-Review and Giveaway

BLOOD FURY (Black Dagger Legacy #3) by JR Ward-Review and Giveaway

Blood Fury Banner

Black Dagger Legacy #3
by JR Ward
Release Date: January 9,2018
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal, romance

Blood Fury / / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 9, 2018

A vampire aristocrat, Peyton is well aware of his duty to his bloodline: mate with an appropriate female of his class and carry on his family’s traditions. And he thought he’d found his perfect match—until she fell in love with someone else. Yet when his split-second decision in a battle with the enemy endangers the life of another trainee, Peyton has to face the idea that his future, and his heart, actually lie with another.

Novo, as a female in the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training program, feels like she has to prove herself to everybody—and she has no interest in being distracted by falling in love. But when Peyton proves to be so much more than a rich playboy, she is forced to confront the tragedy that has broken her soul and closed her off from love.

As the two grapple with Novo’s past and Peyton’s present, another couple must contend with an erotic connection that is unparalleled—and potentially scandalous.

Saxton, who has had his heart broken, discovers in himself a deep-seated attraction to Ruhn, a new member of the household. But will the other male explore the connection? Or will he close his mind and his heart to what could be true love . . . and cost Saxton everything?


REVIEW: BLOOD FURY is the third instalment in JR Ward’s contemporary, adult BLACK DAGGER LEGACY paranormal, romance series, a spin off from Ward’s number one selling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Once again, the author addresses two building relationships: BDB trainees Peyton and Novo, as well as Saxton, the King’s legal advisor, and Bitty’s uncle Ruhn. BLOOD FURY can be read as a stand alone but for backstory and cohesion, I recommend reading the series in order especially the Black Dagger Legacy spin off.

NOTE: BLOOD FURY contains scenes of graphic violence, and M/M sexual situations.

Saxton is a male of worth; disowned by his aristocrat family for his sexual preferences Saxton had once considered leaving his current position when the man that he loved (Blay) was mated to another male. With the introduction of Ruhn, young Bitty’s uncle, Saxton discovered a second chance at love when the two were pushed together as Saxton began in investigation into a land dispute, and the threats from the human population, against an elderly female vampire. Ruhn, believing himself not worthy due to events in his past, struggles with many issues of low self-esteem, and his attraction to the King’s official advisor. What ensues is the building relationship between Saxton and Ruhn, and the potential fall out when Ruhn falls victim to the same humans threatening the elderly vampire.

Peyton watched as his best friend and the woman he loved (Paradise) fell in love with another male. Battling his inability to let go of his desire for another man’s mate, Peyton’s actions on the street threaten the life of another trainee. Enter Novo, the woman with whom Peyton would fall in love but a woman who struggles with memories from the past-memories that threaten to overwhelm with the approach of her sister’s mating.

BLOOD FURY follows two couples as they traverse a minefield of personal pain and private heartache, the constant reminders of unrequited love, and acceptance of the consequences of their choices and actions. All four of the story line characters battle ghosts from the past that continue to control much of the present. Ruhn’s history is painful and heartbreaking; Novo has suffered a loss she will never forget; Peyton’s family takes control of his future; and Saxton must purge his pain by letting go of something and someone he once loved.

Most of the Black Dagger Brothers make cameo appearances throughout the story as they, once again, must go into battle against the lessers and human threats to the vampire population. The mention of Assail on several occasions, as he continues to battle his own personal demons, prepares the reader for his upcoming story THE THIEF set to release in April 2018.

BLOOD FURY is a story of family, of loss, of acceptance and love. JR Ward gives Saxton his happily ever after-but -I struggled to ‘feel’ the palpable sexual energy between Saxton and Ruhn that many of her leading couples experience. What little emotion witnessed came at the possibility that Saxton may lose the man with whom he had fallen in love. The $ex scenes, though limited, were a little underwhelming.

Unlike many of the previous story lines in the BDB series I did not feel pulled in too many directions-the author divided our time between two paths that would converge at the ‘I dos’ of a very unhappy vampire. The premise was spirited and lively; the characters were tragic and energetic; the romances were provocative and intense but I was hoping for a little more heat and steam.

Reading Order and Previous Reviews
Blood Kiss
Blood Vow
Blood Fury

Copy supplied by the publisher

Reviewed by Sandy


The Reading Cafe and J.R. Ward’s publisher are offering a hard cover copy of BLOOD FURY  to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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

NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging onto the site, please refresh the page (at the top of your computer).

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

3. Follow J.R. Ward on Facebook.

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

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

6. Please FOLLOW us on GOODREADS for an additional entry.

7. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr

8. Giveaway is open to USA only

9. Giveaway runs from January 17-22, 2018

Penguin Random House logo


Unchained by a Forbidden Love (Eternal Mates #15) by Felicity Heaton-Review, Excerpt & 2 Giveaways

Unchained by a Forbidden Love (Eternal Mates #15) by Felicity Heaton-Review, Excerpt & 2 Giveaways

Unchained by a Forbidden Love

Amazon Kindle stores: US | UK | CA | AUS | DE | FR | ES | IT

Apple iBookstores: US | UK | AUS | CA | NZ

Other stores: Barnes and Noble | Kobo Books | Google Play

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date December 16, 2017

Lost to the darkness, Fuery wages a daily war against the corruption that lives within him, constantly in danger of slipping into the black abyss and becoming the monster all elves fear. Work as an assassin gives him purpose, but what reason is there to go on when he killed the light of his life—his fated mate?

Shaia has spent forty-two centuries mourning her mate. Tired and worn down, she agrees to wed a male of her family’s choosing, following tradition that has always bound her as a female and hoping she will be able to gain just a little freedom in return. But as she resigns herself to being the mate of a male she could never love, fate places an old friend in her path—one who tells her that her lost love is alive.

Will Shaia find the courage to break with tradition and leave the elf kingdom in search of her mate? And as a ray of light pierces his soul again, can Fuery find the strength to win his battle against the darkness or will it devour him and that light of their forbidden love forever?


REVIEW:UNCHAINED BY A FORBIDDEN LOVE is the fifteenth instalment in Felicity Heaton’s contemporary, ETERNAL MATES paranormal / fantasy romance series. This is elf and assassin Fuery, and elf Shaia’s story line. UNCHAINED BY A FORBIDDEN LOVE can be read as a stand aloe without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story lines is revealed where necessary.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Shaia and Fuery) using present day and memories from the past UNCHAINED BY A FORBIDDEN LOVE follows the second chance romance between Shaia and Fuery, two elves from different social classes, who, four thousand years earlier, were torn apart by mistaken beliefs and presumptions of death. Fast forward to present wherein Fuery has all but been claimed by the darkness and corruption inherent in the male elf, as he battles the memories of the mate that he lost, a woman he believes has died by his own hands, while Shaia prepares to be mated to someone else.

Shaia has mourned the loss of her mate for over four thousand years, a mate her family knows nothing about. But a surprise visit from the commander of the Elven army finds our heroine on the search for the man that she loves. While her family prepares for her nuptials to another elf, Shaia must battle Fuery’s protector in order to save him from the demons within. What ensues is the hunt for Fuery as our hero fights the darkness that continues to pull him in, and the potential fall out when Shaia’s future husband has other plans. Fuery’s position as an assassin pushes our hero a little further over the edge with every encounter and every kill.

Like most of the previous story lines UNCHAINED BY A FORBIDDEN LOVE is a narrative where most of the story line is told through introspection, thoughts and emotions, and memories from the past-a retelling of events that lead to our couple’s introduction, developing love and loss of connection when their bond was severed by mistaken beliefs.

The relationship between Fuery and Shaia is one of fated mates but a relationship torn apart by the past and the fear of the unknown. Throughout the story line Shaia and Fuery are separated by distance and the undiscovered truth, as Shaia searches for the man she still loves. The $ex scenes are limited but passionate and intense without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

UNCHAINED BY A FORBIDDEN LOVE is a heart breaking and emotional story line as the reader is up close and personal with our leading couple; we known their most intimate feelings and emotions, and their complete loss of faith in a happily ever after but saying that there are some issues of redundancy as the author tries to explain both sides of a story through differing eyes. The premise is engaging; the characters are broken and energetic; the romance is a second chance at forever and love.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Books in the Series

Book 1: Kissed by a Dark Prince (FREE AT SELECTED RETAILERS!)
Book 2: Claimed by a Demon King
Book 3: Tempted by a Rogue Prince
Book 4: Hunted by a Jaguar
Book 5: Craved by an Alpha
Book 6: Bitten by a Hellcat
Book 7: Taken by a Dragon
Book 8: Marked by an Assassin
Book 9: Possessed by a Dark Warrior
Book 10: Awakened by a Demoness
Book 11: Haunted by the King of Death
Book 12: Turned by a Tiger
Book 13: Tamed by a Tiger
Book 14: Treasured by a Tiger
Book 15: Unchained by a Forbidden Love


“Shaia?” A male voice curled around her and she frowned and looked around as they entered the fringes of the village, seeking the source of it.
None of the males coming and going along the avenues between the thatched houses were familiar to her.
“Do you know that male?” Eirwyn said and she glanced up at him, catching him scowling in the direction of the village square as he smoothed his ponytail, his actions clipped and reeking of irritation.
Shaia looked there.
A handsome male strode towards them along the broad road between the grey stone two-storey buildings, his fitted black tunic detailed with elegant pale green embroidery around the edges of the two long panels at the front that reached his knees, the matching ones at the back, and around the cuffs. Tight black trousers hugged his lean muscular legs, tucked into polished black knee-high riding boots. Their silver clasps reflected the light, dazzling her as much as his wide smile and bright violet eyes.
Eirwyn pulled a face beside her, and she could understand why. While his own tunic and trousers were fine and tailored for him, they couldn’t compare to the ones the male wore.
They bore symbols only those high in the court of Prince Loren could wear.
The male’s smile became a grin and he waved, glanced over his shoulder and said something to someone behind him, and then picked up pace, heading towards Shaia.
She blinked as she finally recognised him.
The miller’s son.
The last time she had seen Bleu, he had been a scrawny lad and had come home to the village to announce to his parents that he had been given the position of commander. His family had held a celebration in his honour, and Shaia had been invited, but had refused. The thought of seeing him in the finery of a commander and attending the celebration had been too much for her, and she had spiralled back into a depression.
Bleu had visited her the day after, and had apologised. He hadn’t been the one to send the invitations to the entire village. She had been grateful when he had told her he wouldn’t have invited her if he had and that he understood, and hoped it hadn’t hurt her too deeply.
She had lied then too, telling him that it hadn’t, when it had cut her deeper than any blade could have.
She moved forwards to meet him, pulling herself away from the past and managing to smile for him. This time, it felt genuine, warming her and chasing away some of the cold that seemed a permanent part of her now.
Her step faltered when a tall, beautiful female stepped out from behind Bleu, her violet-to-white hair matching her striking eyes. Those eyes darted around, taking everything in, not seeming to notice the way the males in the village looked at her, a mixture of admiration and fear in their eyes.
Shaia could understand their shock. It rippled through her too.
She had never seen a female dressed this way before.
Violet leather trousers hugged her long legs, paired with matching boots, and a white leather corset fitted snug to her torso, revealing a strip of toned stomach and a startling amount of cleavage.
Bleu glanced back at the female again, and then did the most shocking thing of all.
He snarled and flashed fangs at the males who were looking at the female, his pointed ears flaring back against his wild blue-black hair, and snapped in their native tongue, “Get your fucking eyes off my mate.”
The males bolted, leaving the female looking around her with a confused crinkle to her brow.
“Bleu?” the female whispered, her incredible eyes landing on him, and continued in the mortal tongue, “I said it was not wise for me to dress in my usual manner.”
“And I said I like you that way and people will deal with it. You don’t have to be something you’re not.” He caught the female’s wrist and tugged her into his arms, banding them around her in a way that caused a fierce sting in Shaia’s heart. “I love you just the way you are.”
The female blushed and pushed against Bleu’s shoulders. “You are making a scene.”
He shrugged and refused to release her. “Let them all stare. They’re just jealous.”
“That they might be, but I believe you are being rude to the elf female and her male looks displeased.”
Shaia risked a glance at Eirwyn. He looked positively aghast.
She wished she couldn’t understand why, because she wanted what Bleu and this female shared to be the accepted way of things, that such public displays of affection between a male and a female were not a faux pas or frowned upon by society.
That love in all its forms could be celebrated not scorned.
Bleu nuzzled the female’s neck and then drew back, and Shaia ached as she saw the marks on the female’s throat, twin scars that confirmed what Bleu had said. This female was his mate.
“I barely recognised you,” Shaia said, hoping to pull Bleu away from his female, because Eirwyn was rapidly losing patience and she feared he would pull her away if Bleu didn’t speak soon.
She wanted to know why Bleu had called out to her, and wanted to know more about the female, because she wasn’t elf. She was something else. Something strong, and powerful, and independent.
Bleu finally pulled himself away from the female, but kept his arm locked tightly around her waist, pinning her against his side in a way that sparked envy in Shaia.
She had been held like that once.
Eirwyn placed his hand against the small of her back and a weight instantly descended on her, pressing down on her heart and making her want to twist free of his touch. While Bleu’s grip on his female was possessive, it was born of love and a need of his female, a desire to be in contact with her at all times.
Eirwyn’s touch was possession of another nature, a show of dominance over her, marking her as belonging to him.
Bleu’s violet eyes narrowed on Eirwyn and he was silent for the longest time before he said, “I know your brother… Leif. He serves in my legion. I served your father, Commander Andon, once too. It was an honour.”
“Your legion?” Eirwyn’s tone held a trace of venom and a slight note of disbelief, and she had the sinking feeling that things were about to turn dire.
Before he could offend Bleu, Shaia stepped forwards and captured his focus. “Bleu is a commander, serving Prince Loren directly.”
Eirwyn cast a glance over Bleu from head to toe and back again, and she was surprised he didn’t curl his lip. “The same Bleu who was born to the mill on the outskirts of the village?”
“And now I see where Leif gets his lovely temperament and that lofty air. It clearly runs in the blood. I’ve had to beat it out of him a few times… so don’t think I won’t beat it out of you too.” Bleu held his free hand out to Eirwyn. “You may call me Commander Bleu.”
Shaia stifled the smile that wanted to curve her lips and schooled her features so Eirwyn wouldn’t see her amusement. If she had thought he had looked aghast before, she had been mistaken. Now he looked aghast, his mouth hanging open and face reflecting his astonishment.
It had probably been centuries since someone had spoken to him with so little respect.
It had probably been longer than that since someone had pulled rank on him.
Bleu’s steady gaze dropped to her as he lowered his hand. “Speaking of the legions… I have spent time with another male recently, one from the legions and one you know.”
Shaia frowned at him. She didn’t know anyone from the army but Bleu, and she barely knew him. She couldn’t think who he was talking about.
“You must be mistaken,” she said.
He cleared his throat and spoke very carefully, pressing each word home. “I believe you did know him once. I recall you telling me so in a town near the free realm. Do you not remember? It was forty-two centuries ago now so I can see why you have perhaps forgotten.”
Her heart started a slow, hard thump against her ribs. It wasn’t possible that he was talking about the one she thought he was, but she had only ventured near the free realm once in her lifetime, one reckless grief-fuelled moment four thousand two hundred years ago.
One moment where instinct had driven her there and she had come upon a battlefield, drenched in blood and scarred as deeply as her heart.
“Are you unwell?” Eirwyn’s hand against her back pressed deeper into her spine and she fought for air, for the words that would make him leave her alone and give her space to breathe.
She managed to shake her head and muttered, “I will be fine.”
Bleu watched her closely.
He was so different to how he had been that day, when she had gone looking for her love, desperate to find him alive even when she had known he was gone.
Bleu had told her then that the male she was looking for hadn’t come in with the wounded, that he was dead.
Now he was telling her that male was alive?
It wasn’t possible.
But what if it was true?
Gods, what if he really was alive and had been all this time?
Her throat closed as all her strength rushed out of her and she struggled to breathe, rasped as she sucked down shallow pants of air and her mind raced as quickly as her thundering heart.
She could feel Eirwyn’s eyes on her, intent and focused, and could sense he was close to making another attempt to smother her. She had to speak.
“Would you introduce me?” Her voice shook and she quickly gestured to the female beside Bleu when he cocked an eyebrow, making it clear she hadn’t meant the male he had spoken of but his mate.
Or had she?
If she asked it of him, would he take her to that male?
Was it really possible that he was alive?
Everything in her screamed that it wasn’t and Bleu was mistaken. Her heart had shattered when her love had died. She had felt it.
“This is Taryn, my mate.” He beamed at her, male pride and a lot of love shining in his eyes.
“I am pleased to meet you, Taryn.” Shaia turned to Taryn and focused on her to subdue the questions racing through her mind and give herself a moment to breathe.
The contrast between them struck her again. Suddenly, her green elven dress felt as if it was swamping her frame, designed to hide her body rather than make the most of it. The long sleeves had always irritated her when other females were allowed to wear dresses without them, and the fact it dragged on the floor was often highly impractical, but it was another elf tradition, and one she would dearly love to shatter.
She tried to picture herself dressed as Taryn was, wearing tight leather and a revealing corset, and failed dismally.
Her own corset sat over her dress, made of wrought silver swirls that felt as if they were crushing her ribs and her breasts rather than supporting her, cinched down the sides with ribbons. Some elf females dared to wear dresses that were lower cut, and corsets that revealed more bosom.
Shaia had tried that once, and had been banished to her room in her parents’ home for one cycle of the moon.
She couldn’t openly dress as she wanted, but she often did her best to break with convention when she could.
She always wore sturdier and cheaper clothing at her small home away from the village, a basic blouse paired with a long skirt. She would roll up the sleeves and open the buttons down the front to allow air across her skin as she worked, and sometimes lazed in the private garden with her skirt hitched up to reveal her legs as she soaked in the sunlight.
“Where do you come from?” Shaia couldn’t even guess at what species Taryn was, but every instinct she possessed said that the female was strong, born of a breed with powers possibly more impressive than her elf mate’s ones.
Taryn pointed north-east, to a place beyond Eirwyn and the high peaks on the horizon. “The land of dragons.”
Shaia’s mouth dropped open and she snapped it shut before anyone noticed. A dragon? Incredible. She had a thousand questions she wanted to ask Taryn, but Eirwyn was watching her closely again, seemingly waiting for her to break with convention.
She smiled and forced herself to respond with just a single word. “Fascinating.”
It wasn’t against society’s rules for her to be fascinated by something. Eirwyn couldn’t pick her up on it.
The pang of envy returned as Bleu tugged Taryn a little closer, gazed at her through adoring eyes and looked as if he would die if she asked it of him. Taryn stood tall beside him, her head high, and violet-to-white eyes leaping around, taking everything in again. She glanced at Bleu and then away again, and began speaking in another tongue.
Bleu responded, a smile in his eyes as he spoke with his mate.
Shaia’s heart beat painfully hard at the sight of them, at the way Bleu indulged her and the way Taryn stood at his side like an equal, commanding his attention and not held back by him. He didn’t stop her when she broke away from him, turning in a slow circle, her eyes leaping back to him from time to time as she spoke. She pointed towards the mills and he turned, carefully caught her hand and swung it towards one in particular.
The one his family owned.
Her eyes lit up and she said something else.
Bleu smiled again, spoke to her and then looked back at Shaia.
“She’s eager to meet the family. She’s convinced she won’t be accepted and until I get her there and she sees that they’ll love her just as much as I do, she’s going to keep slipping into the dragon tongue. Either that or she’ll get so wound up she’ll want to fly and people in these parts are jumpy enough about a stranger, let alone a dragon.” He grinned, as if he actually liked the idea of Taryn shifting and terrifying everyone.
Shaia found she liked the idea too.
It would certainly brighten her day, if not her life and this dull little village.
Eirwyn pressed harder against her spine. “We should be going.”
Panic lanced her and her eyes shot to Bleu, and she blurted, “How is our friend?”
Her voice shook as badly as her hands and she feared her intended would see it, but there was no way she could contain it, not when she was speaking about him.
Her lost love.
Bleu’s expression turned grave. “Unwell. The perils of being an assassin I suppose. It is dark work.”
That terrified her as much as it delighted her. Bleu was trying to tell her everything she needed to know in a coded manner. He was giving her clues that she could follow. The male she had thought had died was alive, but terribly sick if she was interpreting Bleu’s words correctly.
Gods, she needed to find him. She needed to scour every assassin’s guild until she was with him again and could pull him back from the darkness.
That desire shattered when Eirwyn spoke, reminding her that she wasn’t free to do as she pleased. “We must move on now.”
Shaia’s eyebrows furrowed and she looked to Bleu, desperate to learn more from him but aware that she couldn’t remain any longer. Her purple eyes shifted to the dragon beside him, and courage bloomed, strength that she thought had died long ago with her male.
“Thank you,” she said to Bleu as Eirwyn caught her wrist and pulled her away, her heart soaring as she looked back at him and his mate.
The dragon was free, powerful and independent. Bleu’s sister lived her life that way too.
All it took was courage.
She could be independent too.
She could find the male she had thought she had lost.
She could find her mate.

About Felicity

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:



There are TWO (2) ways to WIN !

In addition to the KINDLE giveaway below, Felicity is graciously offering an ecopy of any ONE book in her ETERNAL MATES series *excluding UNCHAINED BY A FORBIDDEN LOVE* (international) to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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.

NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging in, please refresh the page at the top of your computer

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

3. IMPORTANT--> Sign up for Felicity Heaton’s NEWSLETTER <–

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

5.LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

6. Giveaway is open internationally.

7. Giveaway runs from January 13-17, 2018

Grand Giveaway


NOTE: The Reading Cafe is NOT responsible for the Grand Giveaway. If you have any questions, please contact the author.

Enter the grand tour-wide giveaway to win an Amazon Kindle Fire HD plus books 1-7 of the Eternal Mates series in e-book or audiobook at the Unchained by a Forbidden Love book page. This giveaway is international and open to everyone, and ends at midnight on January 28th. Enter now:


Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley – Review & Giveaway

Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley – Review & Giveaway


Death Below Stairs banner(1)


Death Below StairsAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.



Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley is the 1st book in her new The Below Stairs Mystery series.  Though Ashley writes in many different genres, this was the first time I was going to read a Victorian style mystery.  What I enjoyed the most about this mystery was that it spent a lot of time in a mansion, which had a wonderful feel of ‘Downton Abbey’, with the normal household staffing with housekeeper, cooks, house steward, maids, footman, valet, butlers, etc. 

Kat Holloway, our heroine, is a well known cook, who takes a job in household of the Rankin family, after her recent job ended when her employers moved.   She is a smart, confident, independent, a strong heroine, who immediately shows her strength to the household staff, even to the master of the house, Lord Rankin.   Kat, who is just around 30 years of age,  is also very loyal and protective of those she works with, and will stand up for them.  Before the next day begins, she discovers the dead body of her assistant, and a murder investigation will begin.

Daniel McAdam, our hero, is not a member of the household, but he is a friend (future love interest) of Kat, and when she decides to investigate, it will be Daniel who will step in to help her.  Daniel is sort of a mystery man; one who cares for Kat, and she slowly for him, but one who seems to have different disguises.  Who is Daniel McAdam?  He can look like a gentleman; a servant, a spy or is he with the police. Either way, he is one of the good guys, and very protective of Kat.  Daniel also has a young son, who was a nice added element.  Kat has her own secret, with a daughter, Grace that lives with a friend, since Kat cannot take care of her, having to work all the time to pay the bills. 

As they investigate the murder, Daniel with help from Kat, and two other very good secondary  characters begin to realize that this murder was a cover-up of a higher complex crime that could go as high as the safety of the Queen.   There were a number of situations where their lives were in danger.

The mystery was good, but the background, with all those secondary characters (especially Lady Cynthia and Daniel’s friend) made this a very good read.  I did like Kat and Daniel together and as a team.  I expect we will see more romance between them in future books.  If you enjoy Victorian stories, with a mystery theme, a Downton Abbey background, two very good leading characters and very well written by Jennifer Ashley, I suggest you start this series.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher



Jennifer Ashley’s publisher, is graciously offering a paper copy of DEATH BELOW STAIRS to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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

NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging onto the site, please refresh the page (at the top of your computer).

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

3. LIKE Jennifer Ashley on Facebook

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

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

6. Please FOLLOW us on GOODREADS for an additional entry.

7. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr

8. Giveaway open USA only.

9. Giveaway runs from January 11- 15, 2018


Berkley Pub logo


Headmaster (Lessons From the Rack #2) by Tara Sue Me-Review & Giveaway

Headmaster (Lessons From the Rack #2) by Tara Sue Me-Review & Giveaway

Headmaster Banner

Lessons From the Rack #2
by Tara Sue Me
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romance
Release Date: January 16, 2018

Headmaster / / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 16, 2018

Lennox MacLure, owner of the RACK Academy, has sworn off the Dominant/submissive lifestyle. Years ago, his submissive, Winnie, died in a car accident following a heated argument for which he blames himself. Guilt-ridden and emotionally closed off, Lennox sees the academy as both his punishment and penance for her death.

Mariela, a dance instructor and a natural submissive, was Winnie’s best friend and longs to help Lennox move past his grief. She’s accepted that he will never see her as anything more than a friend, but she still wants to help him acknowledge what he needs. Mariela comes up with a plan of seduction, guaranteed to unleash the Dominant he’s willfully buried—but the passion they unleash could prove to be stronger than they are ready to handle.


REVIEW: HEADMASTER is the second instalment in Tara Sue Me’s contemporary, adult LESSONS FROM THE RACK, BDSM erotic, romance series focsing on the exclusive $ex academy The RACK. This is RACK owner and Dominant Lennox MacLure, and dancer/submissive Mariela’s story line. HEADMASTER can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary. Lennox and Mariela were first introduced in book one The Professor –Fulton Matthews and Andie Lincoln’s story line.

NOTE: HEADMASTER is an erotic story with BDSM sexual situations that may not be suitable for all readers including caning and spanking.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Mariela and Lennox) HEADMASTER follows the building but struggling relationship between submissive and RACK dance instructor Mariela, and RACK owner and Dominant Lennox MacLure. Three years earlier Lennox fell in love with Mariela’s best friend-a woman far from submissive but a woman Lennox hoped to ease into the lifestyle he lived and worked. A tragic accident destroyed any hopes for a future leaving our story line hero in a world of guilt, grief and remorse. Fast forward to present day wherein submissive Mariela, a woman who has loved Lennox MacLure from afar, tries desperately to get Lennox to notice the woman in front of his eyes. A fractured friendship and palpable sexual attraction pulls our couple together but Lennox’s ongoing guilt over the loss of his previous sub continues to push our heroine out of his life. What ensues is the on again, off again D/s relationship between Lennox and Mariela, and the potential fall out when Lennox leaves to find what it is he has been avoiding all along.

HEADMASTER is a story of two people pulled together by circumstance and mutual loss; a relationship predicated on the BDSM lifestyle but a relationship that must endure one man’s ongoing grief and guilt over the death of someone he loves. Although there is no timeline on grief, Lennox is but a shell of his former self and refuses to accept his Dominant life. Mariela battles not only her feelings for, but the ongoing rejection of, the man that she loves, and in this the struggle to accept her undying devotion is questionable in the face of the constant rejection.

HEADMASTER is a roller coaster of emotions knowing the attraction between our leading couple is tempered by guilt and grief. Mariela continues to make herself available to a man who isn’t ready to move on from the past-a man who struggles with too many memories and a loss of motivation. The premise is imaginative and creative but there are some unresolved issues that got lost in the build up; the romance is highly sexual, erotic and intense; the characters are broken, dynamic and charismatic

Reading Order and Previous Review
Master Professor

Reviewed by Sandy

Copy supplied by Netgalley

About the Author pink

FOLLOW: Website / Facebook / Twitter


Tara Sue Me is the New York Times bestselling author of the Submissive series, including The Enticement, The Training, The Dominant, and The Submissive. She lives in the southeastern United States with her family, two dogs, and a cat.



Giveaway pink

The Reading Cafe and Tara Sue Me’s publisher are offering a paper copy of HEADMASTER  to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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

NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging onto the site, please refresh the page (at the top of your computer).

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

3. Follow Tara Sue Me on Facebook.

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

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

6. Please FOLLOW us on GOODREADS for an additional entry.

7. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr

8. Giveaway is open to USA only

9. Giveaway runs from January 11-16, 2018



Mikhail by Lauren Smith – Review & Giveaway

Mikhail by Lauren Smith – Review & Giveaway

Mikhail Banner


MikhailAmazon / B&N / Kobo / iTunes


A dragon never leaves his hoard unguarded. His heart is another matter. 

The second eldest in an ancient line of Russian dragon shifters, Mikhail Barinov had one job: protect one of the family hoard of jewels. Distracted by the English virgin queen Elizabeth, who was as dazzling as she was devious; he lost everything. Five centuries of exile later, news that a construction crew has unearthed a massive trove of gold and jewels sends him racing to London, determined to steal back his family’s treasure…and his honor. 

Professional gemologist Piper Linwood can’t wait to bury herself in her newest project, evaluating a hoard of Elizabethan-era treasure. But both her life and career are threatened when a mysterious, brooding man with a dangerous smile—and an even more dangerous kiss—snatches the lot. 

Unwillingly swept along for the ride, Piper discovers Mikhail is no mere thief. And the dragon on his back is more than a tattoo. It’s a living, breathing extension of a bad boy she’s finding harder and harder to resist. But his heart is a treasure she can never own…because to save her career, she’ll have to betray his trust.




5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

Dragons and dragons and dragons .. OH MY!  Love me some yummy dragon shifters and boy did this dragon shifter ever turn up the heat! 🙂

Mikhail by Lauren Smith (love it when book titles come with just a name) is the second book in her “Brothers of Ash and Fire” series and I have to say this one delivered as well as the first one did.  This series is based on a family of dragon men who are guarding their “precious” and finding their mates.  Obviously a paranormal romance but it’s the dash of history that really nailed it for me.  You will get some adventure, intensity, a good myth story line and some hot yummy dragons who journey towards their eternal happiness .. and the sexy is a super bonus.

Mikhail Barinov is a dragon shifter who had been responsible for guarding precious gems for his family but was betrayed by none other than Queen Elizabeth I and had those gems stolen from him.  What made it worse was that the Queen was his mate and inflicted serious pain and humiliation his way.  Now hundreds of years later, Mikhail learns that those gems have been uncovered and he does all he can to make sure he gets them back to save face.  Mikhail is dark but not so that he is annoying.  He is loyal and losing his gems really hit him hard, so he became focused quite intensely on recovering them.  This led to him being broody and a little stand offish.  When he meets another woman who can potentially ruin his chance of turning things around he take extreme actions to ensure she won’t.  This includes sweeping her away and showing her his world.  Little did he realize that there is possibility of another mate being found, but this dragon isn’t sure he can trust second chances.

Piper Linwood is a gemologist and is excited about the find that makes all her hard worth it.  Piper is spunky and sweet and knows she has literally struck gold when gems from 500 years ago come across her path.  She comes to realize that there is another as interested in these gems and she finds herself strangely drawn to him.  NOTHING will distract her from her job though .. until it kinda does, and she finds herself swept away to a place that only exists in books and stories.  When broody dragon shows his scales, she realizes that she is in a world of danger, and her losing her heart may be the mot dangerous thing she has done yet.

I LOVED these two together.  What a perfect match they were.  They each took chances on the other and boy can you ever appreciate Lauren’s writing when it comes to the passion.  You will find yourself totally rooting for these two.  Once again I was swept away in a world that Lauren created and I am eager for more.  Always writing with a natural flow and ease, I never once fell bored during the story.  I will say the historical twist was epic as I am a huge Tudor lover, so having two genres merged the way this is was a real treat.  

This is not a long read and I do recommend that you read the first book of this series before this one.  Mikhail is introduced there and you can appreciate his character far more by understanding what other around him feel.  Trust me on this one.

Another grand slam Lauren Smith .. please keep them coming!


Reviewed by Rachel

Copy supplied for review




Lauren is graciously offering a  signed paper copy of a book of your choice from Lauren’s backlist to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

1. If you have not previously registered at The Reading Cafe, please register by 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, please post your email address with your comment.

3. Please LIKE and Follow Lauren Smith on Facebook

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

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

6. Please FOLLOW us on GOODREADS for an additional entry.

7. Giveaway open USA only

8. Giveaway runs from January 10 – 15, 2018


Cowboy Stole My Heart (River Ranch #1) by Soraya Lane-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Cowboy Stole My Heart (River Ranch #1) by Soraya Lane-Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Cowboy Stole My Heart Banner

River Ranch #1
by Soraya Lane
Release Date: January 2, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, cowboy, romance

Cowboy Stole My Heart

AmazonBarnes & Noble/ BAM /IndieBound / Powells


ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 2, 2017

t takes true grit to build a billion-dollar dynasty like the Ford family ranch. But when it comes to finding love, all it takes is one handsome cowboy to steal a woman’s heart…


As one of the heirs to the River Ranch fortune, Mia Ford is practically Texas royalty. But that doesn’t mean she’s some pampered princess. She can saddle up and ride a horse as well as any man, even a hard-working cowboy like Sam Mendes. For years, she’s harbored a crush on the strong, silent horseman. But how can she make a move when she’s his boss?


Sam Mendes is through with love—or so he thought. Still recovering from a breakup, he’s doing everything in his power to resist Mia Ford. It’s bad enough she’s the kind of beauty who drives men wild with desire. It’s even worse she’s got him so worked up, aching to kiss her lips, when he’s supposed to be working her ranch. Is this lovestruck cowboy willing to risk losing his job—and breaking his heart—to win the girl of his dreams?


REVIEW: COWBOY STOLE MY HEART is the first instalment in Soraya Lane’s contemporary, adult RIVER RANCH cowboy, romance series. This is heiress and horse jumper Mia Ford, and horse whisperer/trainer Sam Mendes’ story line. The RIVER RANCH series is a spin off from the author’s TEXAS KINGS series. You do not have to have read the original series to understand or follow the current time line. Some of the characters cross over for cohesion and backstory.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Mia and Sam) COWBOY STOLE MY HEART follows the building relationship between horse trainer Sam Mendes, and show jumper Mia Ford. Mia Ford is an independent young woman whose recent acquisition of a troubled stallion finds our heroine in desperate need of a horse whisperer, when her father calls in a favor from one of the most talented trainers on the horse riding circuit. Enter Sam Mendes, rancher and horse trainer, and the man with whom Mia will fall in love. What ensues is the building ‘friends with benefits’ relationship between Sam and Mia, and the fall out when Mia is hoping for something more.

Mia Ford knows loss including the death of her mother, and that of a friend on the horse jumping circuit. With the arrival of Tex, a beautiful but mean-spirited stallion, Mia struggles between her head and her heart knowing the horse may be too far gone for the likes of Sam Mendes. Sam, on the other hand, has never met a horse he couldn’t tame but there is something else about Tex that gives our hero pause. Four weeks to turn Tex’s life around is all that is takes but four weeks may be too long when the heart wants something it cannot allow. Sam doesn’t do relationships; there are personal demons in his past-demons he is unable to let go including a trouble childhood and a relationship that destroyed what was left of his heart.

The relationship between Sam and Mia is one of immediate attraction but Mia is technically Sam’s boss. The sexual energy is palpable between our leading couple but Sam has made it known that their relationship is only physical, with a four week expiry date.Their initial meeting is met with preconceived notions that do not bode well for their working relationship. The $ex scenes are intimate, passionate and intense with the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

We are introduced to Sam’s best friend Nate and his wife Faith, Sam’s sister (Texas Kings #3); Mia’s brother Tanner, and their father Walter Ford, as well as Mia’s best friend and local veterinarian Kat.

COWBOY STOLE MY HEART is a sexy and passionate romantic story line. The premise is inspiring and emotional; the characters are determined, spirited and energetic; the romance is sensual and captivating. COWBOY STOLE MY HEART has a little bit of sexy fun and romance; conflict and angst; family and friendship, and just enough sassy cowboy to get the heart pumping and the blood heating.

Copy supplied by Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy



Mia disappeared and he talked to the horses, wandering down the line to look at all of them. He’d only seen her ride the one, her favorite mare, but he had a feeling she was full of surprises, and her horses all looked impressive. When she didn’t reappear, Sam went looking for her, wondering what the hell was taking so long.
“Hey, do you need a hand back there?” he called out. He squinted in the half-light, dark compared to the full sun glare outside when he ducked through the doorway and into the tack room.
“Oh, shit, sorry, just give me a sec.”
He stopped. Sam stood in the middle of the small room, saddles and bridles covering every inch of wall space, and Mia pressed into one corner, her tears impossible to hide. “Hey,” Sam murmured, striding over to her. Hell, he hadn’t expected her to be crying. He’d thought she might need a hand carrying some gear out, but . . . he didn’t know what to do.
“I’m fine, please,” she said, holding one hand up to her face, the other stretched out in front of her as if trying to push him away before he was even close.
“You’re not okay,” he said, knowing how gruff he sounded but unable to help it. “Come here.”
She shook her head. “Please, I’m fine,” she managed, voice cracking.
“Your mom, huh?” he asked, knowing that there was no way in hell he’d managed to say anything to upset her this much. She was still grieving, he could see that from a mile off.
She nodded, dropping one hand, the other still covering her face. “Yeah,” she whispered. “It’s just I haven’t talked about her for a long time. She’s been gone twelve years so I shouldn’t be reacting like this.”
“Come here,” Sam said, not taking no for an answer this time as he opened his arms and pulled her in.
He held her, tight, letting her cry. She sobbed once, loudly, a noise that made his heart lurch for her, feeling her pain, before she went silent and relaxed in his arms. It had been almost a year since he’d held a woman like this; comforted a woman and held her and felt something for her. He stiffened. Only that woman had played him, ripped his heart out when he’d have done anything for her. Anything.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’d tell you it’ll get easier, but I doubt it will.”
He didn’t sugarcoat things, even this type of thing, but he did feel for her. She’d tried to talk about her mom all nonchalant to him, laughing about her beautiful stables, when in reality it had torn her in half and left her crying all on her own. She’d lost her mom and her best friend as well; no wonder she’d been prickly when he’d tried to muscle in and take over with the one thing she did have— her horses.
Mia pushed back and he wished she hadn’t. He’d liked the warmth of her against him, the tickle of her long hair catching in his stubble as he’d inhaled her shampoo or whatever it was on her that smelled so damn delicious.
“Sorry,” she murmured, her hands to his chest as she stepped back. “I don’t ever let anyone see me cry.”
He believed it. She didn’t strike him as the type to let anyone see her vulnerabilities.
Sam glanced down at her, at her hands against his chest, at the way she was looking up at him, her eyes wide. Her mouth parted, tear-stained cheeks making her look so vulnerable that it tugged at something inside of him he’d thought was long buried.
“You’ve got nothing to apologize for,” he muttered, slowly raising a hand and brushing his thumb gently across her cheeks to blur the tears away.
Mia stayed still, her palms still planted against him, head tilted. He looked at her mouth, fought the urge to rub his thumb across her soft pink lips. Instead he dropped his hand, skimming past her long blonde hair on the way past. Sam bent a little, eyes on her mouth, imagining what her lips would taste like. He wanted to kiss her so damn bad, wanted to push her up against the wall behind her and kiss the hell out of her. But he didn’t.
He’d sworn off women for a reason, and sexy or not, he wasn’t about to take advantage of his boss up against a wall. Even crying she was beautiful, but he wasn’t going there. He couldn’t go there.
Her eyes were dancing, her lips were parted, her hands were slowly dropping away from his chest. But instead of closing the distance between them, instead of hungrily tasting her lips against his, he took her hands, stepping back and squeezing them.
“You take all the time you need,” he said instead, hearing the husky note of his own voice. “I’ll be out here.”
He walked out, ducking back through the door and out into the bright sunlight again. Goddamn it! What the hell had he just done? He’d always prided himself on being able to keep his shit together, and he’d let himself get way too close to Mia.


Copyright © 2018 by Soraya Lane and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

About the Author

Soraya LaneFollow: Facebook / Website Goodreads / Twitter

As a child, Soraya Lane dreamed of becoming an author. Fast forward more than a few years, and Soraya is now living her dream! Soraya describes being an author as “the best career in the world”, and she hopes to be writing romance for many years to come.

Soraya loves spending her days thinking up characters for books, and her home is a constant source of inspiration. She lives with her own real life hero and two sons on a small farm in New Zealand, surrounded by animals and with an office overlooking a field where their horses graze. She is the author of The Devil Wears Spurs, Cowboy Take Me Away, and I Knew You Were Trouble.


Soraya Lane’s publisher is graciously offering a paper copy of COWBOY STOLE MY HEART  to ONE (1) commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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

NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging onto the site, please refresh the page (at the top of your computer).

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

3. Follow Soraya Lane on Facebook.

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

5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

6. Please FOLLOW us on GOODREADS for an additional entry.

7. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr

8. Giveaway is open to USA only

9. Giveaway runs from January 7-11, 2018

SMP St. Martins


Spring Forward by Catherine Anderson – Review & Giveaway

Spring Forward by Catherine Anderson – Review & Giveaway


Spring Forward Banner


Spring ForwardAmazon / B&N/ Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

When a favorite customer on his delivery route needs a favor, Tanner Richards agrees to help without a second thought. The last thing he expects is to face off against the man’s spitfire granddaughter.

Crystal Malloy is near her breaking point. Her beloved grandfather constantly skirts the rules at the retirement center where he’s recovering from surgery. She’s caring for his escape artist dog, even if it means abandoning her salon customers, and she has no time for a romantic attraction to the handsome new stranger.

After Tanner’s reassigned to Mystic Creek, Crystal can no longer ignore how much she misjudged the man’s good intentions. She has known too much sorrow to easily open her heart, but she can’t deny that Tanner and his children could gift her with a happiness beyond compare–if only she can forgive herself for the past and accept that she’s deserving of such a love.



Spring Forward by Catherine Anderson is the 4th book in her wonderful Mystic Creek series. Crystal Malloy, our heroine, lives with her grandfather (Tuck), who brought her up; she also manages a hair salon.  Crystal’s grandfather is currently recovering from surgery after a fall at a retirement home, and Crystal is beside herself trying to find his dog, Rip, who is always running away every day. 

Tanner Richards, our hero, is a parcel delivery driver, who has always been a friend to Tuck; and when Tuck calls him to bring him some beer and chewing tobacco, he doesn’t hesitate.  Unfortunately, Tanner will get into trouble, as the nasty head of the facility discovers the forbidden goods, and calls Crystal.  She will threaten Crystal to report the truck driver, or she will send Tuck home, even if he isn’t ready.   

This will open the door for Crystal and Tanner to meet.  Some fun begins when Tanner has to deliver a package to Crystal and finds himself trapped in the yard by Rip, who was a terror and blocks him from escaping, eventually trying to pulling off some clothes to distract the dog.  Crystal will arrive home to see a half naked stranger stuck on her porch; she will rescue him, and in a short time when they meet again, and a slow built romance will begin. 

What follows is a sweet romance between Tanner, who is a widower, with two children and the single, but emotionally damaged Crystal.  Before Tuck took Crystal to live with him, she suffered emotional abuse from her father and mother, and the tragic loss of her younger sister.  Crystal loves her grandfather very much, but those days with her parents caused her to blame herself for anything that goes wrong; she doesn’t think she is good for Tanner and his children.  Tanner will do all he kind to convince Crystal to believe in herself.  Will Crystal’s love for Tanner help her get past her issues?  

There is also a very nice side romance between Tuck and a lady in the retirement home, Essie.  Essie is a very smart, independent and wealthy woman, who will fall for Tuck.  There is some fun when it is Essie who will help Tuck against the evil administrator.  Catherine Anderson’s ability to create wonderful characters makes this a great series; as I loved Tanner, Crystal, Tuck, Tanner’s kids and Essie.  I loved Rip more so later in the book, when he calmed down more and was very loving to the kids, and Crystal, as well as being protective. 

Spring Forward was a fun, romantic and sexy read, with two great couples, cute children, and a crazy dog.  Catherine Anderson once again gives us a wonderful story that was very well written.  I suggest if you have not read the Mystic Creek series, you need to do so soon and start with the first book.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher



Catherine’s publisher, Berkley, is offering a paper copy of SPRING FORWARD to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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

NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging onto the site, please refresh the page at the top of your computer.

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


4. Please LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. Please LIKE us on GOODREADS  for an additional entry.


7. Giveaway is open to USA only

8. Giveaway runs from Janurary 5 – 10, 2018