Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh – Review, Q&A, Excerpt & Giveaway

Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh – Review, Q&A, Excerpt & Giveaway

 

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Description:
The Psy-Changeling world has undergone a staggering transformation and now stands at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: Old enemies. New allies. Wary loners.

But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten and threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: A child who is both Psy…and changeling.

To find the lost, protect the vulnerable—and save Trinity—no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honor even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?

 

 

Review:

Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh is the 15th book in her fantastic Psy/Changeling series.  I have said many times that this series has become my all time favorite, along with J.D. Robb’s In Death.  Nalini Singh is a master at world-building; storyline continuation that flows in each book seamlessly; with great characters, exciting story and her couples are always great, not to mention a steamy romance. Her other series, Guild Hunter is a great series too. Saying that, It is no wonder that Nalini Singh has become my favorite author, where I wait impatiently for her next book.

Nalini Singh has given us a gift in Allegiance of Honor, which more or less ends this fabulous arc.  She gives us an ensemble book that is a keeper, as we get to spend time with all of our favorites from the previous books; which also opens the door for the next arc. 

In all of the Psy/Changeling books, there is always a leading couple that we come to love and furthers the ongoing story line.  In the last book we saw the end of Silence, and in this book there is no one couple, as we learn about some existing problems revolving around PsyNet; about the Consortium which threatens to destroy the new peace with Trinity and another group of changelings desperately trying to save their people.  We get it all in Allegiance of Honor, which was masterfully written, with some closures, as well as new problems, giving us a peek at the future.   Nalini continues to wow us with her unbelievable world-building, which no one can match.

It is hard to write a review about this book, as Nalini was doing what she does best, continuing this world building and giving us happiness with each and every couple. We got to enjoy the pupcubs, and our new little darling, Naya, who will be something to reckon with when she grows up.   

Those new to the series I suggest you not start with this book, it will be so worth the wait to start from the beginning and get the full effect of Psy/Changeling. Allegiance of Honor would be somewhat confusing for a newbie, as I feel it is for those who have read this entire series, which started with Lucas & Sascha, as the complex Psy/Changeling world building began; the wonderful couples we met along the way that we never want to let go; from the Leopards to the Wolves to the Arrows that worked together to bring down Silence.  We get to see more of the Black Sea changelings, which I suspect will play a big role in the next arc.

I will not say too much more, other than to say how much I loved loved this series. These characters are best I have ever read; Lucas, Sascha, Hawke, Sienna, Judd, Brenna, Mercy, Riley, Dorian, Clay, Faith, Walker, Kaleb, Sahara, Vasic, Ivy, Aden, Zaira, Nikita, just to name a few.  Despite the end of this arc, it is not the end of Psy/Changeling;  we will be getting to see some of our favorites along the way with the new changelings.

Thank you, Nalini Singh for this fantastic series, your wonderful characters, unbelievable world building and your steamy beautiful romances.  It was a fascinating, captivating roller coaster of a ride. I will follow you to the next arc (and your Guild Hunter series), and I know it will be wonderful.  For those of you who have not read this series, once again, you are missing the adventure of your life, which is not to be missed.  Start with Slave to Sensation and fall in love with Nalini Singh.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

 

Q&A

Nalini Singh on the future of the Psy-Changeling series

Is Allegiance of Honor the end of the Psy-Changeling series?

No, it’s not. :) I ADORE this world and the characters and I have so many Psy-Changeling stories yet to tell. (I’ve often joked that I’ll be writing this series until I’m ninety-eight!)

**TRC *Happy Dance………..*

Where do you see the Psy-Changeling world going from here?  Who is the next book about?

(Slightly spoilery answer to follow if you’re just starting the series).

Allegiance of Honor sets up a lot of possibilities for the future. There are many avenues I could take. However, for me, this arc is all about what happens not just to the Psy, but to the world, now that Silence has fallen and all the rules have changed.

We’ve had the immediate aftermath books, both of which focused on the Psy race (Shield of Winter & Shards of Hope), but what about the wider long-term future? Because Silence existed for a reason. The Psy still have these incredible abilities that have the potential to drive them murderously insane, and the world is still a fractured triumvirate. And there are players about whom we know very little, like the falcons and BlackSea.

As for who’s book is next, I’m not ready to announce it yet because I want to be certain this character is ready – but I think you’ll be pleased. 😉 

 

excerpt

 

 

Lucas had had to chase Naya around the aerie at bedtime last night—her walk might still be a little shaky, but she was a rocket when it came to crawling. Dressed only in a diaper, she’d laughed uproariously and said a loud, firm “No” each time Lucas caught her and put her in her crib.

After which she’d clamber out—she’d figured out how to escape a month earlier—and the game would begin again. Of course, since Lucas was a cat, he’d been having just as much fun as their daughter. Sascha, meanwhile, had sat in the living room with a cup of hot chocolate and just indulged in the sight of her mate playing with their cub.

She’d had to pretend to be stern when Naya ran over and pleaded her case with loud sounds and wild gesticulations of her hands. “No, Naya,” she’d said, biting her tongue in an effort not to laugh. “It’s time for bed. Go with Papa.”


At which point, Naya had growled at her, eyes sparkling with mischief.

And Sascha had cracked, laughing so hard she’d had to put down her hot chocolate before she spilled it. Lucas had shaken his head as Naya plopped down on her diaper-covered butt and joined in, clapping her hands at having made her mommy laugh. “No discipline.” Lucas had mock-growled at her before picking up their misbehaving baby. “And you”—a growly nuzzle that made Naya laugh harder and pat his stubbled cheek—“time for bed.”

He’d finally got her to sleep—by walking around with her pressed up against his bare chest.


Today, their cub was playing in the living area just outside the kitchen nook. Sascha had locked the aerie door to ensure Naya wouldn’t undo the latch and go out onto the balcony, and Lucas had childproofed the entire main area of the aerie, so Naya was free to roam as she liked. A lot of the time she practiced her walking skills. And no matter how often she fell down, she started back up again after a little break.

Stubborn, determined baby.

Peeking out from the kitchen, Sascha found her concentrating on stacking the colored alphabet blocks Faith and Vaughn had given her as a gift. Beside her sat a more than slightly ragged wolf plush toy, aka “The Toy That Shall Not Be Named.” Hawke had given that to Naya when she was a newborn, and it remained her favorite snuggle toy, much to her father’s despair.

Though Lucas did enjoy it when Naya went leopard on the toy, growling and “fighting” with the wolf. Then he’d smile and say, “That’s my girl.”


 

theauthor
Nalini SinghI was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated frequently).

So far, I’ve worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer’s mill.

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There’s no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.

 

giveaway

Nalini’s publisher is offering a paper copy of the first two (2) book in the Psy/Changeling series; SLAVE TO SENSATION & VISIONS OF HEAT 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 us on FACEBOOK and click GET NOTIFICATIONS

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

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

6. Follow NALINI SINGH   on Facebook.

7. Giveaway is open to USA only

8. Giveaway runs from June 14 to 19, 2016

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For The Win ( Perfect Play #1) by Sara Rider-Review,Guest Post & Giveaway

For the Win (Perfect Play #1) by Sara Rider-Review,Guest Post & Giveaway

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FOR THE WIN
The Perfect Play #1
by Sara Rider
Genre: adult, contemporary, sports, romance
Release Date: June 6, 2016

For the Win

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

About the book: Release Date June 6, 2016

Lainey Lukas has sacrificed everything—sleep, family, carbs, a life—to earn her spot as the top player and captain of the Seattle Falcons women’s soccer team. She’s determined to lead her team to a national championship and finally earn the sport the respect it deserves—and nothing will throw her off her game. When Lainey’s hero Gabe Havelak, star of the Seattle Surge, crashes her team’s first press conference—making the Falcons look like a joke to the local media and humiliating Lainey in the process—she’s hell-bent on revenge.

Charming, confident Gabe is practically a god to Seattle soccer fans, but he doesn’t mind a little friendly competition from tough-as-nails Lainey, with her top-notch athletic skills, her mile-long legs, and her girl-next-door freckles. But when he learns the Falcons are booting the Surge from their coveted practice space to the notoriously cursed Cricket Field, those warm feelings give way to crippling superstition. With his contract up for renewal and his thirty-fourth birthday just weeks away, Gabe will risk anything to protect his position with the Surge.

The rivals agree to settle their differences in a Battle of the Sexes competition—a test of skills, fitness, and willpower. At first the situation seems win-win: Gabe gets the chance to earn back the Surge’s practice space, and Lainey’s team will finally get some much-deserved media attention. But as the friction between them becomes hot enough to spark and smolder, Lainey and Gabe are entering new territory—and with both of their careers on the line, love might just be the toughest opponent of all.

•••••••••

REVIEW: As the blurb states, Lainey has sacrificed a lot for her love of soccer. She was on the team that won the World Cup, but a devastating injury left her battling her way back and into top form. When she and her new team hold their first press conference, things don’t go quite as planned. She hates talking to the press and that is exacerbated when Gabe crashes the press conference. He’s a media darling and has the smooth charm that immediately wins anyone and everyone over, except for Lainey. Even though she’s a huge fan of his, she’s determined to bring him and his team down a notch…..or three.

When the owner of both teams (yes, the same man owns both teams) does not like what he saw on the news, he calls them both in. However, when Lainey arrives, she had no idea Gabe had been called in as well. Her heart sinks but she’s not going to take the tongue lashing lightly. As Gabe tries to soothe things over, she stands up for herself and her team, much to everyone’s surprise. The resulting plan that is a battle of the sexes, which both are determined to win. What follows is something neither ever expected. With careers on the line, will they be able fight their growing attraction to each other and do what’s best for their respective teams? Will their feelings for each other be enough for them to conquer old superstitions and forge a path that is beneficial for them all? Well, of course they will. This is a romance, after all. But, oh, what a read it is!

For the Win is a nicely written story by Sara Rider. Lainey is as strong and determined as she is stubborn. The way she leads her team and conducts herself makes her a worthy young woman. The way she guards her heart, or tries to, not only makes her believable, it makes her vulnerable. But, not in a bad way. Then, there’s Gabe. He has to work very hard to overcome his woman-chasing reputation in order to get Lainey to give him a chance. He’s very protective of everyone around him, but his interaction with his family, as well as Lainey, will make you swoon. When I first started this book, I was like….meh… But, a funny thing happened on my way to the end of the book. I absolutely fell in love with these characters. The way Rider lets you see their thoughts (told from dual POVs) was intriguing. I found myself not being able to turn the pages fast enough. No, it’s not a pulse pounding thriller, but it IS a wonderfully written romance about a boy and a girl who decide to throw caution to the wind, give in to their desires and see what can be. The secondary characters were well written as well. This book was funny, sexy and left you feeling like you actually knew the main characters. This was the first I’ve read by Sara Rider, but it will NOT be the last. If you’re looking for a fast, smart and sexy read, you cannot go wrong with this one! Well done, Sara Rider! Very well done!

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Vickie M

Guest Post beige

Developing the Heroine

You can follow Sara at : Website / Goodreads/ Twitter/

Hello and thank you for having me on your blog today!

Soccer is one of the few sports in North America where the top female are arguably much more successful than their male counterparts – the US Women’s National Team have won the World Cup and Olympics multiple times – yet receive a fraction of the prestige, income and media attention. The financial rewards and glory are substantial for male soccer players, but some of the best female soccer players in the country can’t afford to play pro soccer without taking on second jobs or making huge financial sacrifices. This is a dynamic that has always captivated me and what inspired the character of Lainey Lukas in my novel For The Win.

Lainey is a character who pushes herself to the extreme in order to achieve her dreams simply because she loves the game more than anything else in the world. She is stubborn, fiercely independent and driven to a fault, to the point where even her own teammates sometimes find it difficult to relate to her. As a writer, her character fascinated me, but it also challenged me to find a way to make her sympathetic. The easy road would have been to soften her edges, but it was important to me to make her as honest and authentic as possible.

Rather than portray Lainey’s single-minded drive simply as a flaw, I wanted it to be the very thing that makes Gabe Havelak, the hero, fall in love with her. As a successful athlete himself, Gabe deeply respects her work ethic and determination but finds her curious at the same time. In many ways, they are opposite sides of the same coin – Lainey is adamant that hard work is the only variable she can control whereas Gabe believes that luck has played a huge role in his success. Matching Lainey with someone as laid-back and charming as Gabe was a way for me as writer to peel back her layers and find out what really makes her tick.

The fun part of writing a character like Lainey is that her journey isn’t just about falling love. Her struggle to connect with her new teammates on the Seattle Falcons is a huge part of the book, and allowed for the lighter moments in the story. Having to build a brand new team in a new league from the ground up means Lainey can’t just rely on herself anymore. She has to find a way to work with a group of women who have been her opponents and competitors in the past. Ultimately, developing a bond with her teammates is what gives Lainey the confidence to open herself up to love.

That’s the story of how Lainey Lukas came to be. I hope you enjoy reading about her as much as I enjoyed writing her!

~~Sara~~

 

Giveaway beige

Sara’s publisher is offering an ecopy of FOR THE WIN to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

IMPORTANT: The  ebook download will NOT work with a Kindle e-reader

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. Please follow Sara Rider on Twitter.

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. The download will NOT work with Kindle e-reader.

9. Giveaway runs from June 4 to June 8, 2016

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Sour Grapes (Blue Plate #2) by Rachel Goodman- Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

SOUR GRAPES (Blue Plate #2) by Rachel Goodman-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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SOUR GRAPES
Blue Plate #2
by Rachel Goodman
Release Date: May 23, 2016
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance

Sour Grapes

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date May 23, 2016

Margaret Stokes is bitter. And not in the robust fine wine or tangy dark chocolate kind of way. She just got dumped, is fed up with her job as a glorified party-planner for the rich, and can’t possibly listen to one more veiled insult from her impossible-to-please mother. So she retreats to the comfort of her grandmother’s ramshackle bed and breakfast, where the wide open vineyards are filled with surprises, from the shockingly delicious wine to the aggravating yet oh-so-tempting man who makes it.

Ryan Camden’s easy approach to life encourages Margaret to loosen up and have a little fun, despite her better judgment. She resists the urge to micromanage every detail, embracing the welcome distractions of her surroundings and letting their relationship unfold at a natural rhythm. But when a health scare forces Grammy J to give up the B&B, Margaret begins to wonder if Ryan really is the man he promises—and whether the problems she tried so hard to escape ever really went away.

•••••••••

REVIEW: SOUR GRAPES is the second installment in Rachel Goodman’s contemporary, adult SOUR GRAPES romance series. This is Texas winery owner/vintner Ryan Camden, and party planner Margaret Stokes’s story line. SOUR GRAPES can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Some of the characters from book one FROM SCRATCH cross over including Margaret’s ex-boyfriend Nick Preston whose actions, months earlier, set Margaret off on her adventure. SOUR GRAPES picks up following the events of book one.

Told from first person point of view (Margaret) SOUR GRAPES focuses on acerbic snob Margaret Stokes-a woman who finds herself on the run from family, so-called friends, and a thriving party planning business. Margaret is struggling with who she is, and what it is she wants from life. Months earlier Margaret was dumped by her boyfriend Nick for another woman-his ex Lillie-and things have gone down hill ever since. Without thinking, Margaret embarks on a journey where landing at her Grandmother’s struggling B&B finds our heroine battling with the local bad boy, and owner of the profitable local winery- Ryan Camden. What ensues is a building relationship between Margaret and Ryan, and the reevaluation of one woman’s life.

Wow, Margaret Stokes is a piece of work. I don’t know if I have ever met a heroine of whom I disliked to the extent that I considered DNFing. Not only is Margaret a snob, a condescending, caustic, judgmental b*tch but her so-called friends up the anti by ten fold. But I must say that Margaret comes by her attitude naturally once we meet her highbrow mother-a woman literally torn from Satan’s womb. In the early stages of the story line Margaret’s ability to put people down is nothing short of rude, destructive, patronizing and egotistic but her building relationship with Ryan, and the local townsfolk, find our heroine softening around the edges as love begins to enfold her heart. It is Ryan’s proclamation of love and plans for their future that sets Margaret off on another temperamental tirade of irrational accusations and name calling that finds our couple walking in opposite directions.

SOUR GRAPES is a well written, entertaining and engaging storyline once you ‘see’ beyond the heroine’s attitude and behavior. Ryan is a man who has fallen for the mercurial Margaret and finds himself falling in love when neither one expected anything beyond the present. The premise is passionate; the characters are animated and dynamic; the romance is intimate and seductive.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of FROM SCRATCH book 1 by Rachel Goodman

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

Guest Post

Researching the Premise of SOUR GRAPES

Thank you so much for having me back at The Reading Café!

Prior to and during the writing of SOUR GRAPES, I made several visits to Fredericksburg, a quaint town in the heart of Texas Hill Country that President Lyndon Johnson once referred to as “a special corner of God’s real estate.” In Fredericksburg, Main Street is lined with antique stores, art galleries, bed and breakfasts, and bakeries, and the surrounding area is filled with rolling hills, grassy pastures, and row after row of vineyards.

Fredericksburg was settled in the mid-1800’s by German immigrants whose culture can still be felt in and around town today, from the 19th-century vernacular buildings of stone and fachwerk—a traditional German building technique consisting of heavy timber framing and diagonal bracing, with an infill of limestone—to the German flags placed outside the Auslander Beirgarten and Der Lindenbaum restaurant.

And while Texas may not be the destination most people think of for spectacular wine, I’d say those people are missing out. Over the last decade, Texas Hill Country wineries have evolved significantly, relying on grape varietals that grow well in Spain and the Mediterranean and not trying to model their wines after those found in California or the Pacific Northwest. Wineries in and around Fredericksburg are proud of being big, bold, and hospitable like Texas itself.

Take Becker Vineyards for example, whose wines are award-winning and produced of only Texas-grown fruit. Established in 1992, it’s one of the oldest Hill Country wineries and the third largest in Texas. The property is filled with vineyards, lavender fields, a tasting room, and the winery. Becker Vineyards is the real-life embodiment of Camden Cellars, Ryan’s winery that plays a major role in SOUR GRAPES.

Perdernales Cellars—with wines that are robust, nuanced, and delicious—was the inspiration for nearly every wine mentioned in SOUR GRAPES—Reckless Love, Wild Abandon, and No Holds Barred. Set off the main drag of Wine Road 290, Perdernales Cellars is known for its Spanish and Rhone-style wines and its commitment to Texas fruit—about half their grapes are grown on the property while others are grown in different areas of the state. Just a taste of their Texas Tempranillo Reserve is worth the visit to Fredericksburg.

But it’s not just the Tempranillo that makes a trip to Fredericksburg well worth it. It’s the people, the relaxed vibe, and the hidden treasures that make it worth the trip south. But, if your summer travel plans are set and made, you can grab a little slice of Southern Texas charm in SOUR GRAPES to hold you over until next year.

~~Rachel~~

About the author

Follow: Goodreads / Website / Facebook / Twitter

Rachel GoodmanRachel is a mojito lover, cheese enthusiast, wanderluster, book junkie, romance writer, and an enginerd. She is a Colorado native displaced in Texas and an engineer and university professor. When she’s not creating optimization models or traveling the world, eating her way through city after city, she is usually tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, dreaming up stories and typing away on the computer. She lives in suburbia Dallas with her husband and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Oliver Pancake and Rigby Peanut. FROM SCRATCH is her first novel.

giveaway

Rachel and her publisher are offering an ebook copy of SOUR GRAPES to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

NOTE: The ebook copy will not work with Kindle ebook readers.

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.

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

3. Please LIKE and Follow Rachel Goodman on Facebook

4. Please FOLLOW The Reading Cafe on TSU

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

6. FOLLOW us on Twitter for an additional entry.

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

8. Giveaway open to international

9. Giveaway runs from May 22 to 26, 2016

 

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Rebel Warrior (Medieval Warriors #3) by Regan Walker-Review and Guest Post

Rebel Warrior (Medieval Warriors #3) by Regan Walker-Review and Guest Post

Rebel Warrior

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca /Amazon.uk

About the book: Release Date May 17, 2016

When your destiny lies far from where you began …

Scotland 1072

The Norman Conqueror robbed Steinar of Talisand of his noble father and his lands, forcing him to flee to Scotland while still recovering from a devastating wound. At the royal court, Steinar becomes scribe to the unlettered King of Scots while secretly regaining his skill with a sword.

The first time Steinar glimpses the flame-haired maiden, Catrìona of the Vale of Leven, he is drawn to her spirited beauty. She does not fit among the ladies who serve the devout queen. Not pious, not obedient and not given to stitchery, the firebrand flies a falcon! Though Catrìona captures Steinar’s attention, he is only a scribe and she is promised to another.

Catrìona has come to Malcolm’s court wounded in spirit from the vicious attack on her home by Northmen who slayed her parents and her people. But that is not all she will suffer. The man she thought to wed will soon betray her.

When all is lost, what hope is there for love? Can a broken heart be mended? Can a damaged soul be healed?

Review:

Rebel Warrior begins with Catriona’s home being attacked and her beloved parents being murdered as she and Angus, her trusted guard, make their way home from a day of flying her falcon. Those whom the attackers didn’t kill, they took as prisoners. Thankfully, her brother was away as well and was spared. They were taken in by their uncle until the time came for Catriona and her cousin, Fia, to become ladies of the Queen’s court. Catriona was not very enthusiastic when it came to her duties at court, but soon fell into a routine and discovered that Queen Margaret is more than she first thought.

Steinar had become a valuable member of the King of Scots’ inner circle. He relished his duties, but practiced daily trying to regain his warrior’s body and strength from a wound that could have very well killed him. Once he sees Catriona, he is immediately drawn to her and is determined to get to know her. He soon discovers that she is betrothed to another, but can’t help his feelings for her.

Catriona can’t help but notice Steinar and is drawn to him as well. She steadfastly stays the course her father had laid out before her though. However, once she was betrayed by the one she was to marry, she immerses herself into a project helping Queen Margaret.

However, when King Malcolm decides to meet war head on, he and his men head out, leaving Queen Margaret and her court worried and anxious. It just so happens that Catriona is not the only one smitten with one of their King’s guards, so they do the only thing they know to do. Pray. What transpires will leaving you turning the pages and holding your breath at the same time.

Regan Walker has once again written a story like no other. Rebel Warrior is, without a doubt, one of the most well written stories I’ve ever read, by any author. The storytelling, as well as the world building, is phenomenal. I know I repeat myself when I review one of her books, but the weaving of actual historical events in with the story she tells is awe inspiring. As Walker starts to weave her tale, you will swear you can hear the clamor, whether in the dining hall, or in the courtyard. Catriona is a wonderfully strong and determined young woman. Even after witnessing the destruction of her own home, she stays true to the path that her beloved father had set in motion. Steiner is wonderful in his own right. Strong, intelligent and deeply loyal, he is the perfect match for Catriona. However, it is Catriona’s beautiful friendship that develops with Queen Margaret, that is truly life changing. Margaret not only gives Catriona a sense of purpose, but helps restore her faith. A faith that she had been struggling with ever since she was forced from her home. The secondary characters are well written as well, and I hope to read more about them in the next installment. Rebel Warrior is truly one of the most heartfelt and inspirational things I’ve read in years. The romance that develops between the two main characters is very touching, but it is Catriona’s renewed faith that will have you cheering and shedding a few tears. If you’ve not ready anything by Regan Walker, I will tell you once again…..it is truly your loss. Very well done Regan Walker! Very, very, very well done.

Series Reading Order and Vickie’s Previous Reviews
The Red Wolf’s Prize
Rogue Knight
Rebel Warrior

Copy supplied by the author

Reviewed by Vickie M

Guest post

Reflecting Characters’ Faith Without Making the Romance Inspirational
by Regan Walker

It seems to me that historical romance authors who strive to accurately portray the era in which they set their stories should consider the element of faith, both in the culture of the time and their characters’ lives. I write mainline Georgian, Regency and Medieval novels and, in each case, I have found the historical setting often requires me to add this aspect to my characters. Not to do so would be to give the reader an inaccurate picture of the times in which my characters live.

For example, in my newest novel, Rebel Warrior, the hero and heroine meet in the court of King Malcolm Canmore in 11th century Scotland. The heroine, who has just suffered a devastating loss, becomes a lady in waiting to the devout Queen Margaret. I could hardly present Margaret any other way since she was a real historic figure about whom we know much. And her ladies in waiting would be expected to join her in prayer and good deeds, yet how would a heroine who doubted God’s love serve such a queen? To include this element does not mean the story is not full of action, sexual tension and romance, or that there isn’t a love scene, which there is.

Queen Margaret feeds the orphans

In my Regency romances, you might encounter the heroine going to church with her friends, especially on Christmas, as in The Holly and the Thistle or The Twelfth Night Wager. It was just something they did in the Regency era as a matter of course. The Church of England was very important to their lives.

Jane Austen wrote about the world of the Anglican clergy, which she knew well, her father being the Reverend George Austen. Often, she featured clerics as characters, sometimes favorably (Edmund in Mansfield Park) and sometimes unfavorably (Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice).

Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park

In the medieval era, one daughter or son in a family might be expected to serve the church, which made it terribly inconvenient should that character fall in love.

In Georgian England, it was the Protestant Church of England vs. the Catholics and sometimes a story must reflect it. In my novel To Tame the Wind, which begins in France with a Catholic heroine and ends with her being married to a Protestant Englishman by the Anglican Bishop of London, I could hardly fail to deal with the difficulties their love produced, especially when England was making it near impossible for Catholics to own land, retain a title or even marry. And if you were Irish, as my hero in The Shamrock & The Rose, you had even more issues!

To reflect the characters’ faith is not to make the novels inspirational, that is to say, novels with a decided Christian message. Rather, it is merely presenting the culture in which my characters live and love. And I think the stories are richer for it.

About the author

Regan WalkerRegan Walker is a #1 bestselling, multi-published author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romance. She has been a featured author on USA TODAY’s HEA blog three times and twice nominated for the prestigious RONE award (her novel, The Red Wolf’s Prize is a finalist for 2015). Regan Walker writes historically authentic novels with real history and real historic figures. She wants her readers to experience history, adventure and love.

Her work as a lawyer in private practice and then serving at high levels of government have given her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown”. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding sovereign who taps his subjects for “special assignments.”

Regan lives in San Diego with her golden retriever, Link, who she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.

Twitter: @RegansReview (https://twitter.com/RegansReview)
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Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase-Review, Guest Post and Giveaway

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FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES
by Samantha Chase
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Genre: adult,contemporary, romance

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

About the book: Release Date May 3, 3016

Four women.
Twenty years.
Five hundred bridal fashion shows.

They’ve been friends since they were five, and modeling for Enchanted Bridal has been as much of a part of their lives as their friendship has. And this season has them seeing more than new wedding trends.

Hailey’s family owns Enchanted Bridal and she knows there’s a possibility that someday it will be hers. She’s not sure that’s the path she wants to take, but she does know that she’s been hopelessly crushing on the perfect man and bridal show model Logan Baxter III. While failing to gain Logan’s attention, she can’t seem to get rid of the less-than-perfect man – and model – Jackson Carr. He’s big and bold and tattooed – pretty much everything Hailey despises. And yet…there’s something about him that has Hailey questioning her definition of perfect.

Becca’s got a knack for dating the wrong kind of guys. When her current boyfriend publicly dumps and humiliates her, she’s devastated. Wanting to run and hide, she’s mortified that the stranger who had witnessed the entire scene is now part of the Enchanted Bridal family. But when Max Abrams offers her comfort and tells her that he thinks she’s beautiful, she has to wonder if maybe getting dumped by Mr. Wrong has finally led her to her very own Mr. Right.

Angie’s loud and feisty and completely fearless. That is until she gets dumped by the one guy she really had feeling for. It opens her up to insecurities she didn’t know she had and she’s not sure what to do about it. But when Sean Patterson comes back into her life in a big way, she’s not sure she’s ready to forgive and forget quite so easily. His persistence and her stubbornness make for an exciting chase, however, but at the end of the season, it’s ultimately up to her if she’s ready to quit running.

Ella’s been planning her perfect wedding to Dylan Graham since she was twelve. Together for thirteen years, Ella’s beginning to wonder if that number really is bad luck. She can’t focus on all that’s right in her life because all she can think about is what she may be missing. Their parents have taken over their wedding, her friends all seem to be in crisis and Dylan’s just not listening to her fears. Not one to ever make waves, she suddenly finds that that’s exactly what she’s doing and turning everyone’s life upside down in the process. The life that she once considered boring is now the one she longs for, but it may be too late.

Four friends.
Four crossroads.
Four possibilities for happily ever after.

••••••••••

REVIEW: FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES by Samantha Chase is a contemporary, adult romance story focusing on four life-long friends –Hailey, Becca, Angie and Ella. For close to twenty years our foursome have ‘modeled’ bridal wear –flower girls to brides- for Enchanted Bridal, a bridal shop owned by Hailey’s mother Judith. FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES looks at the struggles and romantic heartbreaks of four friends who believe the ‘grass is always greener on the other side’. There is a prequel novella-THE WEDDING SEASON-that introduces Angie’s friend Sean. You do not have to read the novella to enjoy FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES.

Told from several third person points of view FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES follows the friendships, relationships, personal discoveries, and the good and bad times of four friends who have had one another’s backs for as long as they can remember. Of the four, Ella is the only one in a committed relationship, bound for the altar, but a relationship that begins to crumble when Ella wants what the other girls have.

FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES focuses on each of the four heroines through the ups and downs of relationship nightmares, falling in love, and moving on. There are moments of humor and fun; heartbreak and sorrow; love and passion but in the end Hailey, Becca, and Angie find love where they’d least expect it, while Ella takes back what it is she thought she lost.

Samantha Chase writes a sweet, romantic and entertaining tale of friendship and love. The premise is lighthearted and enchanting; the characters are an eclectic mix of passionate and fun; the romances are emotional and real. FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES is a fantastic read for every romance fan and romantic at heart.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy

Click HERE for more information and to read an excerpt from FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES by Samantha Chase

Guest Post

Romance covers-How much say does an author have? Do you believe a cover can make or break the success of a book?

Okay, so…funny story. When I first wrote “The Christmas Cottage”, I had no idea how to create a cover and had no idea where to find someone who did. Working with CreateSpace, they have free templates for you to use to create your cover. So I used it. I thought I did a good job, I was happy with it, but some of those early reviewers were unimpressed.

Like seriously unimpressed.

But it didn’t hinder sales on that book, oddly enough. That was the second book I had published and it’s the book that really launched my writing career. But after that book, I found a cover artist and let her design everything from that point on. However, I picked the pictures that I wanted and she worked with the fonts and the layout and really made something out of my two cents.

Working with a publisher was a completely different story. I don’t pick the pictures, I don’t pick the layout. The first five books we did together, they had those covers ready to go before I even had an idea of what we were doing. But when they presented them to me, I did get to say ‘This couple doesn’t work’ or ‘The heroine in the book is a brunette and you’ve got a blond’ and they made the changes. They’ve been very good like that. I believe you need to establish early on – and in your contract – that you have a final say in the covers.

Have I ever rejected a cover? Absolutely! Do I feel good about it? No! Someone is putting in a lot of time and effort to put them together and I always feel bad when I don’t like them, but at the end of the day, it’s my name on the cover and it needs to be something that I like or that I’m proud of.

Can a cover make or break the success of a book? I believe it can certainly hurt your chances of success. For example – when I was self-publishing and put out the first three books in my Montgomery series, I knew the layout that I wanted. Book one – “Wait for Me” – the cover was beautiful. I mean I seriously loved it and so did readers. That book did extremely well! I believe it hit #4 on B&N’s top 100 and was in the top 100 in the Kindle Store. Book two – “Trust in Me” – didn’t do as well. And to be honest…I didn’t particularly like the cover. It was still totally my ideas but I was on a time crunch and I didn’t put as much thought in to it and the sales figures showed. Book three – “Stay With Me” – did great in sales and the cover was pretty and appealing. So from a cover vs. sales standpoint, you could say that the cover of book two was partially to blame.

Back to my traditionally published books, we changed the style of the covers with the release of “I’ll Be There”. We went in a completely different direction. I was so caught up in the new look, that I didn’t pay as much attention to the couple on the cover. I got a lot of negative feedback from readers who thought they were very “blah” and they weren’t people who inspired them to want to pick up the book. I get it. But the sales were okay on that book. Not great but it had some good weeks. So we’ve really been working on that and the cover of my upcoming “Always Me Girl” has done extremely well in pre-order figures. Why? That cover is stunning. There is no other way to describe it. I love it. I want to wallpaper my office in it!

From personal experience, I’m more prone to purchasing a book that looks appealing from the cover – that’s what will initially grab my attention. Whereas a poorly designed or unappealing cover won’t even make me look at the back cover blurb.

Bottom line. Covers help. Make it appealing. Make it the best you can. And do what you can to have a say in it. It’s your name on the cover and you need to be happy with it.

~~Samantha Chase~~

about the author

Follow: Goodreads / Twitter / Website / Facebook

Samantha ChaseNew York Times and USA Today Bestseller/contemporary romance writer Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan’s Return, in November 2011. Although she waited until she was in her 40’s to publish for the first time, writing has been a lifelong passion. Her motivation to take that step was her students: teaching creative writing to elementary age students all the way up through high school and encouraging those students to follow their writing dreams gave Samantha the confidence to take that step as well.

When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading contemporary romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

giveaway

Samantha and her publicist are offering an ecopy of FRIDAY NIGHT BRIDES to THREE (3) commenters 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. Please follow Samantha Chase on Facebook.

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

5. LIKE The Reading Cafe on Twitter for an additional entry.

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7. Giveaway is international

8. Giveaway runs from May 11-16, 2016

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To Kill a Kettle Witch by Barb Hendee – Review, Interview & Giveaway

To Kill a Kettle Witch by Barb Hendee – Review, Interview & Giveaway

 

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To Kill a Kettle Witch
Mist-Torn Witches series – Book #4
by Barb Hendee
Release Date: May 3,2016

To Kill a Kettle WitchAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / BAM / The Book Depository

Description:
Powerful prince Malcolm is facing ruin in the wake of a curse that has destroyed his harvest. He blames the band nomadic Móndyalítko who summer in the meadow below his castle—and he is determined to root out the people who caused the blight by any means necessary.

When Céline and Amelie Fawe, descended from the Móndyalítko, learn that their mother’s people are under suspicion of sabotage and treason, they set out to use their magical gifts to save their estranged relatives and learn about their own origins.

Now it’s up to the sisters—along with their motley escort, including a prince’s lieutenant, a shape-shifter, and an old woman with a murky past—to discover the source of the curse to restore life to the ravaged land and protect the innocent from unfair vengeance.

 

 

Review:

To Kill a Kettle Witch by Barb Hendee is the 4th book in her Mist Torn Witches series.  I have enjoyed every book in this series, and Hendee continues the trend with another wonderful story.   Celine and Amelie Fawe, two sisters that are Mist-Torn witches, who are seers.  Just by holding a person’s hand, Celine can see the future and Amelie can see the past.  They live in Seone, under the protection of Prince Anton.  In the previous books, both of them helped solve mysteries in dangerous situations.  In To Kill a Kettle Witch, they are asked to help their deceased mother’s family, who have been accused of destroying Prince Malcolm’s land and harvest.  No one is allowed to leave Malcom’s land until the person behind the destruction is found. 

Despite Prince Anton’s disapproval, Celine and Amelie are determined to go help the family they have never met; with Helga, Jaromir and Marcus making the trip with them.  When they arrive on Prince Malcom’s territory, they are welcomed by the Fawe family, which includes their mother’s sister.  Jaromir meets with Prince Malcom to explain that they are there to help him find the Kettle Witch who is destroying his land.  What follows is an interesting and exciting story that will have both Amelie and Celine stumped almost to the end, as to who is behind the curse.  During their attempt to find the culprit, there is a villain who is after Celine, who will endanger them all.  Celine will also be caught in the middle of Marcus’s attempt to woo her, but she only cares about Anton.  We hope one day Celine & Anton will find a way to be together despite her being a commoner and him being the Prince.  I do love Celine and Anton, who really had a small part in this book.  Marcus was a good guy, who also protected Celine during this trip.

The last 1/3 of the book was exciting, and had a few twists, which were very surprising.  This was unexpected, but we suspected the truth once we went into Amelie’s flashback on one person.  I also loved the progression of Amelie and Jaromir’s relationship, and hope these two will also find a way to make this work.  Barb Hendee has given us another wonderful story revolving around Celine and Amelie and their ability to see the future or past.  I love this series, and I want to see more, especially the romances for both ladies.  I totally recommend you read this series, and suggest you start with the first book, in order to learn this world and the budding relationships evolving.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

 

 

Interview

 

Hi Barb. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions today.We are always looking forward to reading about the author behind the book.  

TRC:  Would you please tell us something about yourself? 

Barb:  I live in northwest Oregon with my husband and writing partner, J.C. We have a funky little two-level townhouse that feels kind of like a cabin on the inside. There is a large patio area for gardening. I love cooking and gardening. I love to be home.  In addition to writing novels, I teach writing for two different community colleges, but I teach entirely online . . . so I can work from home. Hah!   

TRC: Have you always been interested in writing? When and how did you first start writing?

Barb:  The first question is tough for me to answer because I don’t really know how long I’ve been interested in writing. I think I was fifteen or so before I realized that not everyone had characters and stories constantly playing out in their heads. I thought everyone did.

I started college a little later than most people (I was twenty-six), and that’s when I started writing short stories and sending them out. I sold the third story I ever wrote to a magazine called After Hours, and then I sold my next piece to Cemetery Dance for professional rates.

I kept writing, but later, I came to realize that I was not a short story writer by nature—and that the novel length came more naturally to me. J.C. and I wrote Dhampir in 2001 and sold it Ace/Roc.

TRC:  To Kill a Kettle Witch is the 4th book in your Mist Torn Witches series.  Can you please tell us about the premise of this series? How many books are you planning for this series?

Barb:  In 2012, I showed my editor a proposal for a series of novels that would mix traditional fantasy with murder mystery elements and a hint of romance. She loved it and made an offer.

The Mist-Torn Witches series was born (smiles).

The novels surround two sisters, Céline and Amelie Fawe. Céline can read snippets of the future, and Amelie can read snippets of the past. They live in a dark world of warlords who all call themselves “princes.” A personal crisis leads the sisters to solve a string of unexplainable murders for one of the princes, and they end up inextricably tied to him and his over-protective lieutenant.

This series is great fun to write, and I always look forward to the time of year when I need to begin the next book. At present, book four is the last one for which I’ve been contracted, but I’m hoping to write two more.

TRC:  Can you please give us a brief description of To Kill a Kettle Witch?   

Barb:  Oh sure. Céline and Amelie know very little about their deceased mother’s past. In this novel, they learn that they have a large extended family who has run into trouble down in the southeast part of the nation. These people are accused of cursing the land and killing the crops, and as a result, they are being held prisoner.  Céline asks Prince Anton for permission for herself and Amelie to leave—to go and try to help these family members they never knew existed. Of course he refuses. Hah! Céline gives him an ultimatum, and he gives in.  So, Céline, Amelie, Helga (a friend), Lieutenant Jaromir, and a shape-shifting wolf named Marcus all head southeast to try and solve a mystery. They have no idea what they’re walking into.  

TRC:  You write multiple genres, such as Fantasy & Paranormal.   Have you ever considered writing other genres?

Barb:  Indeed I have! My agent is currently shopping a Victorian romance novel I wrote. We’ll see what happens (smiles). 

TRC:  Can you please tell us what you working on now, and what you have upcoming in 2016/2017?

Barb:  I am very excited about a project coming out in January 2016. JC and I have contracted for a new series set in the same world as the Noble Dead Saga: The Dead Seekers. This is an entirely new series—with new characters. We’ve seen the cover for the first novel already, and it’s gorgeous! The series surrounds an anti-social ghost hunter named Tris, and his shape-shifter of a partner, Mari (she’s a lynx). After writing fourteen Noble Dead books together, I must say, we had a lot of fun working on something new.   

TRC:  What is your writing process?  Do you like to outline your story before you start? Do you have a specific place you like to write?  Is there a special time of day that works best for you?

Barb:   I’m a binge writer. When I’m “in the zone,” I’m drinking coffee and hammering away by 6:30 in the morning. The hard part about this is that I do need a block of time though. I’m not one those lucky writers who do three pages a day. I need to get the whole thing out of my head. This means that when I’m writing, I need to schedule the rest of my life pretty carefully. I wrote the first novel in The Mist-Torn Witches series in thirty-four days.  I loosened three of the keys on my MacBook Pro, and one of the guys at the Apple Genius bar had to replace them for me.  I tend to outline the first three chapters, and then I just start writing. Of course the process is very different when I’m working with J.C. With him, we need an extensive outline because there are two people working on the same book. I draft, and he comes behind me to revise, but we have to plan the story together first.   

TRC:  When you are not writing, what other interests or hobbies do you have?

Barb:  J.C. and I live with two cats (sisters) who on the verge of celebrating their 4th birthday. We brought them home as kittens when they were eight weeks old, and we trained them on harnesses. So, one of the things we love to do is take our cats for walks.

LIGHTNINIG ROUND 

Favorite Food: Udon noodle soup 

Favorite Dessert: Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars 

Favorite Movie: The English Patient 

Favorite TV Show: Downton Abbey  

Favorite Movie or TV Celebrity: Christian Bale

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Oh, milk . . . all the way.  

Favorite literary character (not your own): Morgaine from The Mists of Avalon 

Dog or Cat: Two beloved cats: Ashes and Cinders   

Thank you, Barb, for answering our questions. The Reading Café wishes you the best of luck with To Kill a Kettle Witch.

 

 

 

Giveaway

Barb’s Publisher is graciously offering a Full Series Giveaway of all 4 books to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

The Mist Torn Witches 1 to 4(1)

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 us on FACEBOOK and click GET NOTIFICATIONS

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

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

6. Please LIKE Barb Hendee on FACEBOOK.

7. Giveaway is open USA/Canada only

8. Giveaway runs from  May 4 – 8, 2016

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Dare to Take (Dare to Love #6) by Carly Phillips-Review and Book Tour

DARE TO TAKE (Dare to Love #6) by Carly Phillips-Review and Book Tour

Dare To Take

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date May 3, 2016

She was off limits,
But he couldn’t resist.

There are just some guys you don’t touch–even someone as innocent and inexperienced as Ella Shaw knows that. But when her brother’s best friend is up for grabs and willing, she can’t resist. After all, she’s wanted him for years…

On leave from the army, Tyler Dare is just looking for a little fun, but his best friend’s sister is off limits. Yet unable to deny how sexy and alluring she is, he finds it all too easy to succumb to a night of passion and heat that ends the next morning in the worst way possible.

Now, Ella is stranded on a tropical island with a hurricane bearing down, and only Tyler can save her. It’s his chance to make amends for the past and show the woman he’s never forgotten that he’s coming after her . . . in more ways than one.

••••••••••••

REVIEW: DARE TO TAKE is the sixth and final installment in Carly Phillips DARE TO LOVE adult, contemporary, erotic romance series focusing on the Dare siblings. This is former US soldier/security specialist Tyler Dare, and PA Ella Shaw’s second chance storyline. DARE TO TAKE can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from previous story lines is revealed where necessary.

SOME BACKGROUND: Patriarch and hotel billionaire Robert Dare kept secret a second family from his first wife and children until a medical emergency forced Robert to reveal the existence of family number two. Each storyline will focus on one of the Dare siblings; the relationship between the two families of adult children; and a father who may or may not be trying to amend for the sins of the past.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Tyler and Ella) DARE TO TAKE looks at rebuilding a friendship when a one night stand years before between Tyler and Ella found our heroine heartbroken and destroyed, and Tyler running away before the morning light. Fast forward to present day where we find Ella trapped on a tropical island, a hurricane on the horizon, and a mugging that leaves Ella without her personal possessions and in need of a hospital rescue. Enter Tyler Dare, the man of her dreams, but a man possessed by guilt from the past. Upon their return home, Ella is once again targeted by an unknown source, and Tyler enlists the help of a friend to seek out the truth about the attack against Ella-both at home and back in St.Lucia.

The relationship between Ella and Tyler is one of second chances. Ella has always had a crush on her best friend’s brother, but her one night with Tyler proved she wasn’t worthy of Tyler’s love. Her self-esteem shattered, Ella has always walked carefully whenever Tyler was anywhere near, and things haven’t changed in the ensuing years. But her current dilemma finds Ella in Tyler’s care, and the desires from the past become part of their present. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic and provocative.

Most of the Dare siblings play secondary and supporting roles as the family gives birth to the next generation, and the sins of the past are revisited once again. The world building continues to focus on family; the dysfunctional nature of betrayal and lies; and a look towards the future. The premise is romantic and fateful with a little bit of mystery and suspense; the characters are dynamic and spirited; the romance is passionate and driven.

DARE TO TAKE is the final installment in Carly’s DARE TO LOVE series but that doesn’t mean the stories have to end. There is a spin off series –BILLIONAIRE BAD BOYS- and the first installment will feature billionaire Kaden Barnes in GOING DOWN EASY. Kaden is introduced in Dare to Take.

Copy supplied by the tour promoter

Reviewed by Sandy

excerpt

 

The sun shone overhead, the temperature neared ninety, and the humidity was hair-curlingly high on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, making it hard to believe a hurricane was coming soon. Ella Shaw glanced up at the blue sky, knowing it wouldn’t remain pristine for long.
The calm before the storm.
She pulled her hair into a high ponytail and headed out of her hotel, determined to hit the local gift shop she’d caught sight of on her way to the photo shoot yesterday. She’d seen long, draping, blue-beaded necklaces from the storefront window, but she hadn’t had time to stop. Her boss was a stickler for getting the right shot in the exact light, and they’d worked well past dark. By the time they’d wrapped for the day, the store had been closed.
As an assistant for Angie Crighton, a fashion designer based in Miami, Ella was responsible for the little details involved in a photo shoot. And though Angie, the photographer, and models had left the island this morning, Ella had stayed to make sure the shooting site was clean, the hotel pleased enough to allow them back another time. And if she were honest with herself, she liked the downtime after the craziness of a photo shoot, the rushing around of the crew, the bossiness of some of the models and, of course, of Angie herself.
Ella appreciated the fact that she had time to souvenir shop for her best friend, Avery Dare. How ironic was it that the two girls from very different worlds had met at all? But they had. And it was Avery who’d introduced Ella to the finer things in life, leading her to seek out a job with an haute-couture designer. Whereas Avery came from a wealthy family, Ella had been raised firmly middle class, but the two girls had bonded instantly. They’d even shared an apartment until recently, when her best friend had moved in with her rock star boyfriend, Grey Kingston.
Yep, two different worlds, even now, Ella thought wryly. But their friendship was solid. Which reminded her, she needed to let Avery know she might not make it back to the States tomorrow as planned.
When Ella had heard about the storm changing course, she’d tried to book an earlier flight out, without success. She shivered at the possibility of being stranded here alone during a hurricane and knew Avery would like the news even less. Her best friend suffered from severe anxiety, and Ella didn’t like to make her worry.
She’d just buy Avery an extra gift to make up for it, she thought, walking into the shop. She immediately headed to the turquoise-blue beads she’d seen through the window. The shopkeeper claimed they were Larimar beads. Even if they were fake, the beads, popular in the Caribbean, were said to have healing powers. Ella purchased two dozen, a mix of bracelets and necklaces, so she could share with the children at the cancer treatment center where she and Avery volunteered.
Avery had been nine, Ella ten years old when they’d met at a Miami hospital, both donating bone marrow, both there at the behest of a parent. Neither of them really understanding what was happening. All Ella had known was that she was doing a favor for her father, helping the stepmother Ella didn’t like all that much to begin with. Even at a young age, Ella had been a good judge of character, a better one than her father, obviously, because shortly after Janice had gotten well, she’d left Ella’s dad. And both her father and Ella’s life had gone downhill from there. Ella shook off the thoughts of her past before she could go deeper and darker, and focused on the pretty jewelry.
She spent some time choosing a thick turquoise bracelet for Avery and a similar one for herself before paying for everything and waiting for the shopkeeper to wrap things up.
Bag in hand, she started back to the hotel, cutting through side streets and looking into the windows of the stores, soaking up the culture along the cobblestone streets before heading back to Miami tomorrow. At least, she still hoped she’d be home. Knowing she couldn’t change the outcome, she pushed her worrisome thoughts aside. She’d deal with the situation as it came.
Sweat dampened her neck from the humidity of the island, and she contemplated taking a cab back to the hotel. She reached into her straw bag and pulled out her cell phone to make the call, when, without warning, she felt a hard jerk on her purse.
“What the—?” She spun around, but whomever wanted her purse was quicker.
She barely caught a glimpse of a tall guy with dark hair as he yanked harder, nearly pulling her shoulder out of its socket before slamming her against the nearby building with his other hand.
Her head hit the concrete wall, and spots immediately appeared behind her eyes from the impact. As she struggled not to pass out, the man grabbed her purse, along with her cell phone that had fallen to the ground.
She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. Her legs collapsed beneath her, and she fell to the ground, her head smacking the sidewalk before everything went black.


 

 

Q and A

A few quick questions with Carly Phillips

TRC: Hi Carly and welcome to The Reading Cafe. Congratulations on the release of DARE TO TAKE

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

Carly: I loved being a student, went to college and law school but hated practicing law and the real world. I’m more of an introvert and that career nearly did me in. I became a mom and then started writing what I loved reading, which was / is Romance. I’ve always been an avid reader and happily ever after is my thing. I am happily married to my college sweetheart, I have 2 nearly adult daughters, 3 crazy dogs and I’m always online and love talking to readers there!

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Carly: Reading. I always read … and hated non-happy endings. Once I discovered the Romance genre, I was so, so happy. Writing came very soon after. I loved LaVyrle Spencer back when I started out. ☺

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

Carly: I first started writing in the days before self-publishing so REJECTION and a lot of it. I had to believe in myself so that I could pick up and move on after each one.

TRC: Would you please tell us something about DARE TO TAKE and the Dare to Love series?

Carly: The Dare to Love series is about siblings shaped by a father’s betrayal. Robert Dare had 2 families and when a daughter in his “other/illegitimate” family became sick and needed a bone marrow transplant, the truth came out so the others could get tested to see if they were a match. One legitimate child was. The Dare to Love books tell about the now adult children and how that one selfish act shaped everyone’s lives. How they find love afterwards.

Dare to Take is Tyler Dare’s story. I’m (for now) wrapping up the series as Tyler is the last legitimate sibling whose story needs telling. The NY Dare cousins are all told. And I need fresh inspiration so I’m starting a new series after. Tyler and his sister’s best friend have a secret … he took her virginity and they’ve been fighting that attraction ever since. Ella is stranded after being mugged on an island and his sister begs him to go save her – not knowing their history. It’s fun (or is it?) from there! ☺

TRC: There is a fine line between romance, erotic, and erotica in many of today’s popular contemporary fiction. What do you believe accounts for the differences between the sub-genres in today’s romantic stories?

Carly: That’s a hard one. For me, erotic romance just pushes sexual boundaries on contemporary hot romance. Erotica doesn’t have the happy ending, monogamy that all Romance has. At least that’s my definition of the differences.

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

About the Author pink

 

Carly PhillipsNew York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips has written over 40 sexy contemporary romance novels that today’s readers identify with and enjoy. After a successful 15 year career with various New York publishing houses, Carly is making the leap to Indie author, with the goal of giving her readers more books at a faster pace at a better price. Her Serendipity books will still finish up in January/February 2014 via Berkley as planned. Carly lives in Purchase, NY with her family, two nearly adult daughters and two crazy dogs who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. She’s a writer, a knitter of sorts, a wife, and a mom. In addition, she’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers. You can find all information about Carly at her website and other social media sites …

Website/ / Goodreads / Twitter /Facebook

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Blood Curse by Ella J. Phoenix – Review & Q&A

Blood Curse by Ella J. Phoenix – a Review

 

Blood Curse
Dragon Heat series – Book #5
by Ella J. Phoenix
Release Date: April 29th, 2016

BloodCurse_Kindle2016_1563x2500Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / ITunes / Smashwords

Promotion:

On the launch weekend, from Friday, April 29 to Sunday, May 1, the latest novel in the Dragon Heat series, Blood Curse, will be FREE on iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, ARE & Smashwords.

To celebrate the release of yet another book in the series, Dragon Heat (Book 1) is completely free of charge on iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, ARE & Smashwords, and it’s just 0.99c on Amazon.

 

Description:
Descendant of a Cherokee shaman, Dyam is one of the vampire king’s personal guards and closest advisors. He has seen the worst of mankind and has vouched to stay away from personal entanglements and focus on serving his king. Then his resolve is shaken when Naiah, the water witch, finds her way into the busy vampire castle’s life and straight into his heart. But before he can nurture his feelings for her, she is killed in battle, causing Dyam to return to his self-imposed seclusion for good. 

Little does he know that Naiah has been brought back to life by his kind’s most infamous enemies. She is their ultimate weapon in a final battle that will rupture not only the balance of the supernatural world, but Dyam’s loyalty to his race.

 

Review:

Let me start off with saying I love Ella J. Phoenix’s Dragon Heat series and the final installment Blood Curse did not disappoint. Yes Ms. Phoenix is ending this magnificent series, but don’t despair, she’s starting a new series that will be a continuation of this one, just some years later in the timeline, yay!!!  I’m so grateful I was allowed to find this author through The Reading Café, and be given the chance to read and review every addition to this series.  Ms. Phoenix has a talent for creating intriguing, sexy characters who carry the reader along on a paranormal journey that keeps the reader hanging on to every word uttered and action taken by these characters.  Her world building is magical and pulls the reader into a paranormal world of wonder, danger, intrigue, folklore and steamy romances.  Blood Curse was all that and then some for me. 

At the end of the last book Vampire Legacy my heart broke for the vampire Dyam and I had hoped he’d have a story of his own to find his HEA.  Well, I didn’t have to wait long because Blood Curse is Dyam and Naiah’s story.  Wait, Naiah, didn’t she perish in Vampire Legacy you say.  Yes she did, but thanks to some dark magic from our dastardly duo of the Draconian Vraijator and Desert Daemon Osmon, Naiah is brought back to life as the Phoenix.  Now I have always enjoyed the story of the Phoenix throughout literature, so I was thrilled to see Ms. Phoenix bring it into her own story.  Watching Naiah deal with this new entity the Phoenix inside her, all the while trying to come to grips with everything that has happened to her, and is still happening/changing within her, had my heart breaking for her.  Sweet, innocent Naiah who stole our hearts in Vampire Legacy being used as a pawn by evil in the war between the gods and other entities who don’t like Tardieh and Zoricah, so not fair.  Don’t fret, not everyone is against Naiah the Phoenix, and would rather see her destroyed then saved.  When Dyam learns the tale of the Phoenix and how Naiah was brought back to life with dark magic for that very purpose, he takes it upon himself to be her knight in shining armor, her protector and hero.  Can I just say swoooooon!!! Oh what a swoon-worthy hero Dyam is too.  I loved him and his protective ways towards Naiah, just so sweet and loving.  Their scenes together are precious, tender and sexy as hell when they get down to business, but at the same time it’s dangerous because Dyam and Naiah never know when the Phoenix will rear it’s dangerous beak so to speak and possibly try to kill him, and everyone he holds dear. 

The fight to save Naiah’s inma(soul), and keep her safe is nerve wracking and kept me on the edge of my seat.  The battle scenes at the end were well written and had me feeling as though I was a part of it, hoping I didn’t become one of the Phoenix’s vicitims.   Seeing Tardieh and Zoricah become parents to one very cute little Zoe, future heir to the vampire throne, and try to keep her safe through all this had me cursing at everyone who is against them.  Can’t they just leave well enough alone and let them be happy, nooooo.  Oh and let’s not forget the big reveal that Ms. Phoenix tosses at us just to add a little more tension to an already sticky situation for Tardieh and Zoricah.  She’s not a demigoddess, nope, she’s a full fledged goddess, born of Zmyzel goddess of life, and Ucidhere god of death.  To protect their daughter they made everyone believe, including Zoricah, that she was the product of an affair with a draconian aristocrat, because the gods/goddesses of Apa Dobry aren’t supposed to procreate.  So now not only is Zoricah in danger, but more so her daughter due to the Blood Prophecy.  Oh what a tangled web we weave Zmyzel and Ucidhere.  This is another thing I love about Ms. Phoenix’s writing, her multiple storylines within the main story.  It just adds so much more to the book that the reader doesn’t have a chance to catch their breath because events come at you fast and hard and you feel like you are running to stay caught up with everything.  It causes the story to fly by and before you know it you’ve read the whole book and you want more.  This is exactly what happened to me.  I was like, wait, what, they are sending their daughter off with strangers….no you can’t leave it like this Ms. Phonenix, I need more, now!!!!!  Thankfully, she had and excerpt for her new series at the end of Blood Curse.  The excerpt made me happy and answered a burning question/thought I had based on the last scene Tardieh has with his warrior Joel.  Let’s just say, if where her new series is headed like I think it is, I can’t wait to see Tardieh and Zoricah’s reaction to the news regarding their grown daughter. 

Ella J. Phoenix thank you for the totally awesome series Dragon Heat.  I’ve enjoyed reading and reviewing this series.  As sad as I am to see you ending it, I’m excited to see what you have in store for us with new characters and storylines in your next series Sons of Apa Sambeti.

Until next time, happy reading everyone.   

Reviewed by Marcie

Copy provided by Author

 

 

Q&A

Ten things you didn’t know about Ella J Phoenix

  1. I really suck at interviews
  2. I love cheese more than I love chocolate
  3. I love wine more than I love cheese… no, actually that’s not true.
  4. I love a good debate
  5. I hate politics
  6. I truly believe in destiny
  7. Mainly because I met my husband is a true destiny-knocking-on-your-door kind of situation
  8. I’m a frustrated actress who found her spotlight in singing
  9. I’m a frustrated singer who found her voice in writing
  10. I’m addicted to awesome paranormal romance as much as you are

 

One Minute with Ella J. Phoenix

  1. Where do you do most of your writing?

            In my guest bedroom/home office, away from everything else.

  1. Who are your favorite authors?

Oh, they are so many! Jane Austen, Nalini Singh, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, and all the great indie authors out there!

  1. What’s the one genre you absolutely will NOT write about? Why?

I never say never, but “Self Help” books are not my thing.

  1. Do you use people you know as characters? And do you tell them if you do?

Maybe and maybe… but you’ll never know. :)

  1. Have you had any creepy fan experience yet?

No, not creepy, but I’ve had a few fans contacting me on Facebook as they read my novels. It was awesome to experience their journey through the story with them. It’s the best compliment an author can have in my opinion.

  1. Does your family know about ALL the books/stories you’ve written, or are you keeping a few hidden?

My immediate family are my biggest fans. But unfortunately, sex is still a taboo in many communities, including mine. Not everyone understands how liberating a good erotic romance can be. Maybe one day we’ll be able to share our stories without the fear of retaliation and hypocritical judgement.

  1. Last, but not least, is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

I write because I have a million stories and characters in my mind. It’s my therapy, my escape from reality, my happy place. Without you, my fans, I would be just a crazy woman locked in a boring day job or in a mental institution. So, thank you for your support and I hope my novels bring magic into your days as much as they bring to mine.

To learn more about Ella, you can check the following links

Facebook  / Twitter Goodreads / Website

 

 

 

 


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