Honey Girl (Billionaire 2) by Juliette Jones-Review, Guest Post and Excerpt

Honey Girl (Billionaire 2) by Juliette Jones-Review, Guest Post and Excerpt

Honey Girl

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 25, 2104

Alexander Wolfe is a billionaire whose priorities used to include work, money and total control. No longer. He now has only one obsession: his beautiful new fiancée Lila, whose combined innocence and sultry femininity drive him to the brink. Their attraction began as an uncontrollable lust and has bloomed into an all-encompassing love affair that awes them both. If Alexander could have it his way, he would confine Lila to his private penthouse and bask in the glow of her sensual charms day and night.

But when reality forces its way into Alexander and Lila’s private world in the form of Alexander’s supermodel ex-girlfriend, Alexander’s brother Jake’s impending prison sentence, and a very persistent senior employee of Alexander’s – who just happened to be present at a recent wild night of poker that got a little out of control – things get complicated.

Will the drama drive them apart, or is Alexander and Lila’s love strong enough to get them to the altar?

HONEY GIRL (BILLIONAIRE, Book 2) is the second book in the BILLIONAIRE series (and can also stand alone).


4 out of 5 for this reader folks!

Do ya like a little smut? Do you like a LOT of smut? This is a good ole smutilicious read and will make your eyes go wide and your body go a tingling. LOL

Honey Girl is the second book in Juliette Jones Billionaire series and is a continuation of Alexander and Lila’s story. I don’t suppose you HAVE to read the first book, but I would as it is just as yummy as this read. Most definitely an erotic romance with lots of drama and a serious side of obsession that I cannot necessarily consider a bad thing.

Having returned from Paris, it is time to get back to unwanted reality. Alexander had a major screw up in the first book and is still reeling from this a little, while Lila is geared up in becoming part of Alexander’s multi-billion dollar corporation … as well as his fiancé soon to be wife. Trying to prepare the other to go through the day without this hot obsessiveness they have for the other is a serious issue though, and one they seem to find ways around. On the first day back, bad news seems to hit them from all angles. Alexander’s brother Jake is in big BIG trouble and facing jail time and someone from Alexander’s past is set on destroying his beloved future with Lila. Lila is overwhelmed and certainly fighting her own battles trying to establish her position as employer versus “stunning sex kitten” within this company. Will too much ever just be too much for these two??

So yup .. super hot read that had me toe curling a few times. While the obsessive nature these two have for one another is almost endearing in places, it is annoying in others. For as many times as they are doing the do, the scenes became a little repetitive with little too long reflective thoughts in the midst. HOWEVER, these two made no apology for their out of no where dependant love and I LOVE THAT! There was no shame here … they wanted, they had. The idea that this kind of obsessive need for a person is really far fetched but it totally belongs in this story. With Alexander and Lila, it’s believable and that is kudos to Juliette Jones writing.

I hope to read more by this author soon. If you are looking for a no apology kind of erotica, look no further, you have come to the right review! ;)


Copy supplied by the author

Reviewed by Rachel T



Honey Girl excerpt:

Chapter One

He lay next to me, still asleep. His black hair was all askew, framing his face in artful, silky disarray. The cinnamon skin of his brawny shoulders looked dark, as always, next to my pale curves. He lay on his stomach, his face turned towards me, his muscular arm curled around a pillow. His full lips were barely parted, his face peaceful. He looked young in his sleep. Relaxed. That visceral, male aggression that clung to him softened when he slept, but the innate arrogance was somehow still there. In the curve of his mouth. In his strong features and the dark stripes of his eyebrows. I watched him sleep for a few minutes, fascinated by his mesmerizing flawlessness. He was astoundingly beautiful.

He had the build of an athlete. Tall and toned with graceful bones. Powerful, with the kind of strength that draws your eye and makes you aware of it. Of how easily it would be for him to use it. On you. Of how brutal he could be when he drove his immense, thick, hard-as-stone cock deep into you, forcing wave after wave of raw, lustrous pleasure.

I could have touched him, with feather-light strokes across his shoulders. Down his back. I could have rubbed myself against him and kissed his perfect lips, licking him, tasting the minted, drugging flavor of him. I knew he’d be instantly ready for me.

Alexander was always ready.

But today was the day I was starting my new job. As Alexander’s assistant.

Not as his assistant, I reminded myself. As his business partner.
This whirlwind romance had not only landed me a gorgeous sex-god of a fiancé, it had also placed me at the right hand of one of the most powerful CEOs in New York City: founder, owner and mastermind of Wolfe Enterprises. Alexander was the executive of the esteemed and hugely successful magazine Skyscraper. He also owned two major book publishers and ran several investment companies, hedge funds, and a number of cash cow Internet businesses.

He was a type-A genius with a dark side and a voracious carnal appetite. Which he took out on me whenever he got the opportunity. Which was, it had to be said … often.

It was Monday morning. Early. Earlier than we usually woke. We’d become night owls, the two of us. Darkness was our erotic haven, where we could exist only for each other.

I didn’t regret a single decision. Of course I didn’t. But sometimes when I stopped to think about things, like now, in the quiet of a purple-skied dawn, I almost felt a sense of vertigo from the gargantuan shift my life had taken over the course of exactly two months.

Two months.

Two months ago, I’d been a capable yet fumbling, unemployed, broke, virginal recent-graduate who dressed in baggy clothes, wore unfashionable glasses, had a bad haircut and who preferred to keep all members of the opposite sex at arm’s length. And now? Well, times had most definitely changed. At least when it came to one particular member of the opposite sex.

I lay in the semi-darkness and took in my surroundings. The heavy, decorative drapes that framed Alexander’s – our – bedroom windows were never drawn. We were too high up to be visible to the mortals down below. Our view overlooked the distant streets, the treetops of Central Park, the gritty, graceful skyline of some of New York’s most expensive real estate. It was early October and the deep indigo of the city night hung on. The quiet, expansive room hummed with plush, cocooned luxury. Alexander’s bed was huge, swathed in expensive cotton and silk, most of which had been displaced and/or rumpled by our lovemaking.

At this, I’d proven a prodigy. Whoever thought virgins took things slow once they finally got going at the advanced age of twenty … well, they hadn’t put me in a locked room with Alexander Wolfe. It had taken all of thirty minutes for us to get not only intimate but downright feral. There had been a desperation to it that I still couldn’t explain. Physically, we were like magnets. Greedy, superstrength magnets who had no choice or control. None of it made sense, really. That we’d been willing to risk everything to get as close as humanly possible from that very first encounter – and every encounter since. Who does that? What highly educated, soon-to-be professional, modern woman throws all – and I mean all – caution to the wind just to get down and dirty with a ridiculously sexy, overconfident billionaire?

This one, apparently.

He was my drug and my addiction. With him, lines became skewed and normal considerations simply did not apply. To not get close to him proved impossible. To not want to get close to him seemed insane.


My lover. My devil and my saint. My strength and my weakness.

My fiancé.

Beautiful, crazy Alexander. All mine.


Guest Post

Why are billionaire heroes so popular?

JJ: I think deep-down, every woman fantasizes about having a man that will take care of her every need. It’s been a decades now since women have had to actively rely on men for their financial security and social status and that’s a wonderful thing. But there’s also something wildly romantic about a successful, loaded alpha male willing to risk it all to have that one woman who captures his heart. In Honey Girl, Alexander is so in love with Lila he’ll do absolutely anything to keep her. In the end, all his money becomes irrelevant to him. He’s worked hard to become successful for one reason: to be able to shield the people he loves (namely his brother Jake) from the pitfalls and difficulties of life. But when Alexander’s money fails to do that – on one particular day that has a little something to do with a wedding – he goes off the rails. In the end, it’s the love that matters most and if he can’t have that, he doesn’t care about the money. Not to worry, though [spoiler alert]: there’s a HEA!

What are the difficulties of writing erotic storylines?

For me, the romantic scenes of any erotica book are the ones I look forward to the most, both as a writer and a reader. So I would say the most difficult part of writing erotic storylines is creating a plot that creates enough inherent conflict to make the sex scenes as intense and romantic as possible.

As a writer, how do you develop the hero and/or heroine?

I’m one of those writers who makes it all up as I go along. I have a very rough outline in my head when I start a book but the direction the story takes sometimes changes completely as I write. That’s one of the things I absolutely love about writing: I never really know where the story is going to take me. As I get to know the characters, I let them guide me. Alexander is single-minded, obsessive, extremely driven; these character traits lead him to act in a way that other people might not act. And I love that about him. Lila is young, naïve and completely new to the luxury lifestyle. She was fun to write because she, too, is unpredictable. She’s trying to navigate this new life and this incredibly intense love affair, and she sometimes makes mistakes. She sometimes gets overwhelmed by it all. But in the end, she knows that he’s The One. And they’ll both risk everything for their love. I had so much fun writing Honey Girl. I hope readers will enjoy it!

About the author

Juliette Jones is the author of BILLIONAIRE, HONEY GIRL and WILD RIDE. She lives in New York City.



Sentinel / Warrior (Light Mage Wars .5 & 1) by Nancy Northcott-Reviews and Interview

Sentinel / Warrior (Light Mage Wars .5 & #1) by Nancy Northcott-Reviews and Interview

Light Mage Wars Series


(Light Mage Wars .5)
by Nancy Northcott
RELEASE DATE: April 2014
Genre: Adult, contemporary, paranormal, romance


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He’s on a Quest for Justice
Her Secrets are his Only Hope

When mage investigative reporter Rick Moore gets the unexpected chance to clear his father’s name, it looks like a dream come true. But there’s a price. He must first uncover the truth about the mage world’s most wanted fugitive.

Caroline Dare knows her beloved brother had a reason for killing a member of the mages’ governing council. Real heroes don’t go rogue on a whim. Burned by shady reporters, she pours her devastating worry for him into her fabric art career and maintains stony silence about him. But when her art is panned as a fraud because she’s blind, she’s forced to seek help from Rick, a man she knows only as a sexy arts writer.

Helping beautiful, determined Caroline prove her art is her own gets Rick inside her well tended walls. But as he wins her trust, he finds he’s losing his heart. Now he has a choice–give up his dream or betray the woman he loves.



Some background: Mages are a gifted species of people who source their power from the elements. But there is an enemy against their kind, who suck the power and life essence from the mage, known as ghouls. Similar to vampires, the ghouls take down their prey, both mundane and mage, to feed from their blood. Leaving behind a trail of venomous poison in their victim’s blood, those who survive will eventually become ghoul. All magic must be kept hidden from humans and anyone revealing the existence will be punished.

SENTINEL is the first installment in Nancy Northcott’s adult, contemporary Light Mage Wars paranormal romance series-a prequel to her formerly named Protector series. This is mage investigative reporter Rick Moore and blind tapestry artist Caroline Dare’s storyline.

Told from two distinct third person points of view SENTINEL follows Rick Moore as he sets about to investigate the story behind Griffin Dare- a mage who has presumably gone rogue- and the death of his own father for using dark magic. After meeting Griffin’s sister Caro, an up and coming artist whose faith in her brother borders upon worship, Griffin is no longer convinced that the man he is hunting is responsible for the number of deaths and murders for which he has been blamed but Rick’s editor is forcing his hand as it pertains to the investigation. A complication will arise when Rick begins to fall for Griffin’s sister knowing that if she were to know the truth about his investigation, his betrayal would sabotage any hopes of a happily ever after.

The relationship between Rick and Caro is based upon a lie. Rick has been hired to gather any and all information about Griffin Dare and he will use Caro and her family to get what he wants. As the storyline progresses, Rick’s attraction to Caro deepens and he is no longer willing to destroy a family for a newspaper byline. The sex scenes are seductive and intimate.

The world building introduces the magic, the mages, the sentinels and the warriors who are at war with the ghouls and the Collegium. The presiding governing body at the Collegium enforce the rules to which the mage must adhere and in this the Collegium has placed a price on Griffin Dare’s head. We will learn a little more about Rick’s family history –including Rick’s father’s death sentence and the break up of a family.

The secondary characters include Caro’s over protective family as well as Griffin’s best friend Will Davis, whom we met in the Protector series. Will’s connection to Griffin Dare has already been established in the original series so I will not give away any spoilers.

SENTINEL is a quick read that helps to establish some background information about the search for Griffin Dare. There are moments of heartbreak and betrayal for a woman who has spent years trying to defend a brother she no longer knows and for a family whose only son has been accused of the most heinous of crimes. Nancy Northcott blends a contemporary romance with a paranormal edge resulting in an entertaining series for your flights into the fantastic.


(The Light Mage Wars #1)
by Nancy Northcott
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Genre: adult, contemporary,paranormal, romance

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WarriorA Woman Tormented by Darkness

Archaeologist Audra Grayson hopes the dig in the Okefenokee Swamp will save her career. But that hope is dashed when she finds out-of-place relics and brilliant, sexy consultant Will Davis comes to investigate her for fraud. Worse, working on the site strengthens the evil shadow that has haunted her since childhood, and she knows he will think she’s crazy and unfit for the job.

A Mage Who Must Oppose it At All Costs

Mage Will Davis senses the darkness in Audra when they meet. Wondering whether she’s in league with dark forces, he vows to ignore his growing attraction to her. Then deadly ghouls target her dig, and Will discovers they want the ancient bronze pieces to open a portal for demons from the Void between worlds. If they succeed, everything on Earth is an endangered species.

The Fate of the World at Stake

With ghoul attacks escalating and mage traitors in league with the enemy, time is running out for Will to stop the portal from opening. The chemistry between him and Audra threatens to combust, but the darkness within her may give the enemy its chance. Must Will choose between the fate of the world and the love of his life?



SOME BACKGROUND: The Mage are a gifted species of people who source their power from the elements but their enemies-the ghouls-suck the life force and power from the mage to survive. Similar to vampires, the ghouls take down their prey, both mundane (humans without magic) and mage, to feed from their blood. Leaving behind a trail of venomous poison in their victim’s blood, those who survive will eventually become ghoul.

WARRIOR is the latest installment in Nancy Northcott’s adult, contemporary Light Mage Wars ( formerly The Protectors) paranormal romance series focusing on a supernaturally gifted group of humans who pull their power from the elements. This is mage and loremaster Will Davis and Native American archaeologist Audra Grayson’s storyline. When Audra’s team of archaeologists unearth a 4,000 year old sword from the Okefenokee Swamp, Will Davis’s team of mage warriors is called in to investigate the ‘out of place’ ancient weapon.

The storyline follows Audra and her team as they continue to uncover relics that do not belong to the area. Audra is hoping to clear up her previously tainted reputation that several years earlier ended her career with a nervous break down. What no one understands or knows is that Audra has a dark secret-one that controls her mind and at times her body- that is buried deep within the recesses of her consciousness. Hoping to keep the darkness buried, Audra avoids all confrontation and social interaction whenever necessary.

Will Davis has been a regular throughout the series. A call from the university archaeology department finds Will, undercover as a member of the Georgia Institute for Paranormal Research, partnered with Audra in the hopes of discovering the truth behind the ancient artifacts. But something about Audra draws Will like a flame to a moth; he senses something dark and dangerous in Audra, but not necessarily a part of her control. As the team continues to unearth the relics, lives will be threatened and a series of destructive attacks at the site will set into motion Audra’s introduction into the world of Light Mage and supernatural powers.

The storyline and thusly, the relationship between Audra and Will is very slow to build. Audra fights her attraction to Will- a man with a reputation with the ladies-and therefore Audra chooses to ignore the elephant in the room. She spends most of her time (and the storyline) avoiding any personal or intimate contact with Will and when our couple finally get together, Audra places an expiry date on their relationship. Audra’s constant self-deprecating and low self esteem as it pertained to any potential relationship including her building attachment to Will was oft times depressing and frustrating which made the slow build even slower. Will is a man who avoids long term commitments and it is in his nature to walk away from any potential permanence-I did not feel any emotional attachment to this couple. The romance element was sadly missing for most of the storyline.

The supporting cast of characters includes Audra’s archaeological team, museum foundation advisor Denise Larabee as well as several previous storyline couples from Nancy’s PROTECTOR SERIES including Edie and Josh, Stefan and Mel, Griffin and Val. The world building continues to focus on the war with the ghouls; the demons from the otherworld; and the possibility of another traitor in the Light Mage Collegium.

Nancy Northcott’s gifted world of magic and romance, demons and ghouls is incredibly detailed and passionately spirited. There are moments of heartbreak and betrayal, romance and love, drama and action wrapped up in a supernatural storyline that is imaginative, elaborate and defined.

Reading Order:

Sentinel (Light Mage Wars .5)
Renegade (The Protectors 1)
Protector (The Protectors 1.5)
Guardian (Protectors 2)
Warrior (Light Mage Wars 1)

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviews by Sandy


TRC: Hi Nancy and welcome back to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of WARRIOR.

Nancy: Thank you, Sandy! I’m delighted to be back. I appreciate your having me here and reviewing my books.
Nancy Northcott
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. For anyone who does not know Nancy Northcott, would you please tell us something about yourself?

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Nancy: I’m a lifelong book geek who discovered Nancy Drew, comic books, science fiction, and fantasy in grade school. I also love mythology and history, especially English, American, and ancient history, and, of course, romance.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Nancy: When I was small, my grandfather and I used to make up stories and draw stick people to illustrate them. That was the start of turning imagination into something that could be shared. My love of stories with a lot of action and of heroes and heroines who have a little something extra undoubtedly springs from my early reading.

TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax?

Nancy: I read, watch TV, or go to the gym and zone out on the treadmill.

WarriorTRC: WARRIOR is the second installment in your new paranormal series THE LIGHT MAGE WARS. Would you please tell us something about the premise of the series and of the book?

Nancy: The tag line for the series is “Fighting back an ancient evil with the fate of humanity at stake.” Like the PROTECTORS series that preceded it, THE LIGHT MAGE WARS is about the Light Mages’ struggle to keep ghouls, who use dark magic and prey on humans and mages, from bringing demons to Earth from the Void between worlds. If the ghouls succeed, everything that breathes is an endangered species.

TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series?

Nancy: There will be four more books, at least two more novellas, and some short stories under this series name. It already includes one extended-length novella, Sentinel, and one novel, Warrior.

TRC: Can each book be read as a stand alone?

Nancy: Definitely. Each book centers on one couple’s romance, tracking it from the beginning to the HEA. The bigger ghouls/demon plot develops from book to book, but I always include a brief recap so new readers know what has gone before.

TRC: Do you have any plans to continue THE PROTECTOR series?

Nancy: I’m so glad you asked me that! I know this is sometimes confusing for readers. THE LIGHT MAGE WARS are the continuation of that earlier series. I don’t own the PROTECTOR series name, so I had to come up with something different going forward, but the books are all part of the same external story arc.

Sentinel in THE LIGHT MAGE WARS is a prequel to Renegade, the first PROTECTOR book, and to Warrior, the first with the LIGHT MAGE WARS group. So anyone who wants to start with the earliest events the characters experience and go through chronologically should ignore the series names and read in this order: Sentinel, Renegade, Protector, Guardian, and Warrior. And then Nemesis, which will be out in the spring of 2015.

They’re arranged in reading order on the book page of my website, too, and listed that way in the Light Mage Wars product descriptions with online vendors. Here’s the book page link at my website- Nancy Northcott

Light Mage Wars Protector Series

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

Nancy: Thank you for implying that I do! I try.

The overall arc of this series was mapped out before Renegade was published. That includes the main couples and the bare bones of their conflicts. While there are only so many types of romantic conflict, the origins of those issues can be as varied as the characters who experience them.

It helps that the story world is intricate enough that I have plenty to explore. Ghouls have been at the center of several books, but I also have demons, mage traitors, latent mages (those whose magic hasn’t yet manifested) and various magical entities I can use. There’s also still plenty to learn about the magic and the mage world’s politics.

TRC: What are your thoughts on cliff-hangers (between installments) in storylines?

Nancy: It depends on what type of cliffhanger it is. In general and for me–though others may feel differently–I think they work better in genres other than romance. When I pick up something labeled Romance, I want to be happy at the end. I enjoy short stories or novellas that may not go all the way to HEA but open the path for it and have a satisfying, romantic resolution to the conflict within that story. But that satisfying, romantic ending is essential for me in a romance, regardless of its length.

TRC: Do you believe that the cover plays any role in the reader’s selection process?

Nancy: It plays a role in mine, so I tend to assume it does for other readers. An attractive cover will get me to read the blurb. If I like that, I’ll read a sample unless I already know I like that author’s writing style. With authors I know I like, I tend to just buy the book.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background) did you encounter writing this particular storyline and series?

Nancy: Warrior centers on an archaeological excavation in the Okefenokee Swamp, and the hero and heroine are archaeologists. I’m not, though I’ve always been interested in the subject. On top of that, the swamp is a vast (about 700 square miles) blackwater peat bog, an amazing ecosystem very different from anything else I’ve ever seen. It was first inhabited thousands of years ago. All this means I had a lot of research to do.

Okefenokee Swamp

I took several excursions in different areas of the swamp with guides from Okefenokee Adventures, the official concessionaire for the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. These are people who’ve spent decades exploring the swamp. The guides were very patient with my many, many, many questions, stopping or backing up the boats so I could get pictures I wanted, and showing me Billy’s Island, which was the inspiration for Mystery Island in the story.

They also referred me to a man who has spent his career researching the swamp’s ecosystem, inhabitants, and history. In turn, he recommended an archaeologist who has actually conducted an excavation in the Okefenokee. Very few people have done so.

My husband–who sat in a small motorboat on the water in 40-degree temperature at the end of this past February and never complained, so I give him major marriage points for that!–knew a local archaeologist, who answered lots and lots of questions about archaeology in general and Native American studies in particular.

People were very generous with their time and expertise, and I appreciate that so much. I asked all the questions I could think of. I’m just hoping I didn’t trip over one that never occurred to me!

I started visiting and researching the Okefenokee before Renegade was published. I quickly fell in love with the place. This seems strange to all my friends, who know I like my surroundings climate-controlled and my wildlife safely distant, but I find the swamp’s strange beauty truly magical. When the water is undisturbed, it’s a perfect mirror, and that will definitely matter in a book at some point!

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

Nancy: It’s a bit of both. The characters are driven by the conflicts, which are designed to push them in certain directions. But within that framework, the characters dictate the ways the story events affect them. For example, one couple will progress to intimacy much faster and in different ways than another. The risks each character takes, and thus the way the story progresses, depend on that character’s nature.

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?

Nancy: Hmm. That’s an interesting question. I can only answer it based on my experience and preferences as a reader, which also shape my writing.

I like to know fairly early what drives a character. That doesn’t mean I need to know the complete backstory in the first 50 pages, but I need to know what emotions spur this character’s choices. What makes him or her shy away from romantic involvement? What does he or she find challenging in life?

I can accept anything as long as it’s motivated, and I need the motivation built in before the moment of the critical choice. If it is, then I roll right along with the character. If not, then I feel as though the book took a left turn while I was going straight.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Nancy: I have two projects going just now. The first is the next LIGHT MAGE WARS novel, Nemesis. It’s centers on hunky deputy reeve (the mage equivalent of a deputy US Marshal) Carter Lockwood and kick-ass builder and interior designer (and mage) Tasha Murdock. They knew each other before, in circumstances that kept them from becoming involved, parted on difficult terms, and have now been flung back together.

The second project is a followup to my micro-story, “The Solstice Ball,” in the Tiny Treats: A Holiday Collection anthology. The story is about a deputy reeve and a mage teacher who unexpectedly connect. I’ve had some requests for the continuation of their story, so I’m working on that. I’m not sure when it will be available.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Nancy: Just that Tiny Treats is free and contains micro-stories by 19 authors. At this busy season, time to read drops off, so contributing editor Trish Milburn thought we should offer people some romances they could read in a few minutes.

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

Nancy: I appreciate that. Thanks again for having me. I wish everyone at The Reading Café a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a terrific 2015.


The Escape – The Finisher by David Baldacci – Reviews, Interview & Giveaway

The Escape – The Finisher by David Baldacci – Reviews, Interview & Giveaway

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The Escape
John Puller series – Book #3
by David Baldacci
Release Date: November 18, 2014

The Escape

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It’s a prison unlike any other. Military discipline rules. Its security systems are unmatched. None of its prisoners dream of escaping. They know it’s impossible.

Until now.

John Puller’s older brother, Robert, was convicted of treason and national security crimes. His inexplicable escape from prison makes him the most wanted criminal in the country. Some in the government believe that John Puller represents their best chance at capturing Robert alive, and so Puller takes on the burden of bringing his brother in to face justice.

But Puller quickly discovers that there are others pursuing his brother, who only see Robert as a traitor and are unconcerned if he survives. Puller is in turn pushed into an uneasy, fraught partnership with another agent, who may have an agenda of her own.

They dig more deeply into the case together, and Puller finds that not only are her allegiances unclear, but that there are troubling details about his brother’s conviction….and that someone is out there who doesn’t want the truth to ever come to light. As the nationwide manhunt for Robert grows more urgent, Puller’s masterful skills as an investigator and strength as a fighter may not be enough to save his brother—or himself.


The Escape by David Baldacci is the 3rd book in his John Puller series. I am a huge fan of Baldacci, as with every book he writes, he leaves me amazed how he could write such a mesmerizing story every time. I have not read the John Puller series until this book, and after reading this, I will go back to read the first two. Having said that, it was easy to read this as a standalone. Baldacci gives us enough information to allow use to know the characters, and John Puller.  

The Escape starts inside a military prison that has maximum security beyond normal, and impossible to escape. But after a major storm knocks out the power, including a second generator, shots are fired, and an explosion. When everything is restored, a prisoner is missing. Robert Puller, a former high ranking intelligence officer, has been in prison for two years, having been convicted for treason, and now he has escaped, leaving all high ranking Military officials in a state of panic.

John Puller, who is one of the army’s best military investigators is called in to help find his brother, as well as how the security breach at the prison was done. John is a by the book no nonsense investigator, who loyalty has always been to his country. Though it is his brother, he is determined to find him. Before he can get too far, he is forced work with intelligence officer Veronica Knox, who was sent to work with John. As they both begin putting the pieces together of the escape, as well as deciphering who was the dead body that was found in Robert Puller’s cell, it becomes apparent there is more to this story, then just an escape. Though Knox and Puller find it hard to trust each other, they slowly come to the realization that there is a conspiracy that is very high up. Was Robert Puller really guilty of treason?

The story does go back and forth early between John and Veronica investigating, and Robert, who has changed his appearance, doing his own investigation to clear his name. What follows is an extremely intense, suspenseful and exciting adventure in the hunt to find Robert Puller, as well as all the twists, surprises and turns that leave you blindsided. Baldacci pulls you into this fantastic story from the start, and never let’s go even through the end. This was such an enthralling story, with a wild climatic ending, that amazed me how all the pieces so neatly and almost impossibly fell into place.

As I have said earlier, I love the writing of David Baldacci. I have read his Camel Club (my favorite), Will Robie, and King & Maxwell series. Now I will be adding on the John Puller series. If you like suspense thrillers, political intrigues, military or CIA agents as our lead characters, no one writes these better then Baldacci. He weaves such a great story, with so many twists, detailed information, betrayals, it simply amazes me how he can do all of this, and so flawlessly. Needless to say, I loved The Escape. If you have not read David Baldacci, you are missing gems.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

The Finisher

by David Baldacci
Release Date: March 4, 2014

The Finisher

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Welcome to Wormwood: a place where curiosity is discouraged and no one has ever left.

Until one girl, Vega Jane, discovers a map that suggests a mysterious world beyond the walls. A world with possibilities and creatures beyond her imagining.

But she will be forced to fight for her freedom. And unravelling the truth may cost Vega her life.


The Finisher by David Baldacci is the first book in his new YA fantasy series. When I started reading The Finisher, we learn about a place called Wormwood, and a young 14 year old girl name Vega Jane, who would be our heroine.

Vega and her brother, John, live in the slums. They barely have enough to eat each day. Vega works at The Stacks, putting finishing touches to items for those who have money. Her title is the Finisher, and her only friend there is Quentin Herms, who taught her everything. The story begins when Quentin disappears into the Quag, a forbidden forest that surrounds Wormwood, and has dangerous creatures that will kill them as soon as they step into the Quag. No one must ever leave Wormwood, which in itself is depressing.

The Wormwood council knows that Vega was close to Quentin, and they put pressure on her to find out what she knows. What they do not know is that she caught a glimpse of him, as he stepped into the Quag. But Vega knows she cannot reveal that as many of those men who work for the council do not like her, something she feels has to do with her family, who are no longer with her. Early on there was a lot of ground work for the world building, and a ¼ of the way in, I wasn’t sure if this was for me. But I am glad I stayed with it, as it became a great story.

As Vega tries to find the truth about Quentin, and what the Quag really is, she faces an uphill battle against thet attitude of the men in Wormwood; the Council and a powerful adversary, who has powers beyond what anyone can imagine. All Vega really has is Delpha, her friend, especially after her brother moves to become part of the upper class. As she investigates the past and history of Wormwood, she begins to discover magical things that will help her in what she will face in the future. In some scary moments, she sees creatures, as well as being pulled into the past. Vega will find herself in a competition that is meant for men only, and she needs to survive or they will put her away or worst yet, kill her.

Vega will use everything she has, as well as some magical tools that were cool…a chain that helps her fly, a stone that heals, and a magical sword. Those were fun, as this is fantasy. This was really a different type of world, with strange customs, and language, which Baldacci used throughout. But most of all, the last half of the book was extremely nerve wrecking and exciting. Vega fought against prejudice, and all odds, but when all was said and done, she had everyone including us rooting for her. The ending has sort of a partial resolution, but it is a cliffhanger that cries for another book.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


We were very excited and honored to be asked to participate in a telephone interview with David Baldacci.  David is promoting his wonderful new release, The Escape, as well as talk about his previously released, The Finisher, a YA Fantasy.  We have selected some of these great questions from the conference call that we thought you would enjoy.


In your books, the female characters are as tough as the men and then some. I’m thinking of Michelle Maxwell. I’m thinking of course of Vega Jane in your young adult novel. Why so many strong women in your pages? Why is this something that interests you?

David: I don’t write about damsels in distress because I don’t happen to know any. I have a lot of guy friends that need a lot of help and not so much the women.

I grew up with a force of nature in my mother. And I’m married to a force of nature with my wife, whose name is Michelle. So, if you’re wondering who the role model for Michelle Maxwell was, you have the answer. So, that’s why.

What I found amazing in your stories is the detail that flows seamlessly. My question is not the research part, but how you set your story. Are you a plotter with some sort of outline, or a pantser writing with the flow?

David: I don’t do really major outlines for my novels. I’ve always thought, rightly or wrongly, that if I wrote from an outline it would really read to everyone like I wrote from an outline where everything’s sort of neatly tied together and just flows in just the right way. And life is not really like that.

So, a lot of what I do is sort of the seat of my pants. I do get into the story, and I have the character flow in my head and I have plot ideas in my head. But, I just sit down in front of my computer or sometimes in front of a legal pad and just let it fly and see what works.

And some days I think I’m going to go in one direction but I happen to go in another because it just feels right. I think my instincts over the years have served me well. So, I really just like to innovate and be creative right there while I’m sitting down in front of the screen and just let the words pop out of me.

I know it feels like it’s almost happening spontaneously, but I’ve always thought the subconscious is just another way of saying things you’ve been thinking about a long time at a certain level, and they bubble to the surface. And we think we just thought of them, but actually we’ve been ruminating on them for a long time.

And that’s the way I like to write. I’ll do little mini outlines here and there for a particular chapter to make sure that I get all the points in there that I want to have. But, for the broader strokes, you know, all of it’s in my head and I just like to sit down and play around with it and see where it takes me.

What was your inspiration for The Camel Club?  Do you think you’ll go back to this series.

David:  People love The Camel Club.

I just wanted to do something really different where I had an ensemble cast of some guys who had had some mileage on them. They weren’t particularly young or fit anymore. And in many ways, people looked at them as being past their prime.

But, I thought that they had a lot of fuel left in the tank and that, together as a group, they were greater than they were apart. And again, it was just another sort of matter of me stretching my creative wings and going in a different direction and trying to build something I’d never built before.

And a lot of the characteristics they’ve had, people over the years–you know, I’ve observed some of these idiosyncrasies and physical mannerisms and things in people and grafted them onto some of the characters in The Camel Club. I’ve never taken anybody from real life and plopped them whole cloth into a book, but certainly bits and pieces of observations I’ve made over the years.

And I just wanted to build this really quirky kind of group that were sort of conspiracy theorists but had some specialized background and knowledge that actually made them effective doing what they did. And I didn’t want them to be, you know, in official power and I didn’t want them to be associated with any organization. I just wanted them to be people out there who had some unique skills and had some mileage on them, and put them into adventures and situations where they could show they still had a lot of worth and value left.

And it turned out to be really fun. When I wrote the first one, The Camel Club, I wasn’t thinking they were going to be a series. I tell you, when I wrote the last book I was thinking these guys are going to come back.  The Camel Club will ride again!

I wanted to talk about your choice to write fantasy and The Finisher, because it’s not just sort of a realistic story in a fantasy setting, you know, like a bunch of wizards at Hogwarts who are really just like regular kids. I mean, it has the full fantasy world, the history, the vocabulary.   I just wondered if you had the idea to write fantasy first and kind of built the world around it, or did you have this idea of the fantasy world that drove the plot and the genre that you decided to tackle?

David: The Finisher was really a passion project for me. My wife gave me a blank page book on Christmas day in 2008. And I would warn anybody who has a writer in their family, never give them blank pieces of paper on a major holiday because you will never see them for the rest of the day.

I just scooted off to my little cubby and started. I wrote the name down, Vega Jane, and I knew she was going to be the lead character, but I didn’t know what she was going to be doing. And it took me over four years to finally figure out the world that I wanted to place her in, what her role would be in that, and what the total story, plot, and narrative would be and what the other characters around her would be like.

So, I knew that I wanted to create an entirely new world. I didn’t want to place, you know, just an individual in the world as we know it now. So, when you build a world like that, it takes a lot of time and effort and thinking. And I had to put a lot of research into that, because in The Finisher a lot of the terms and references come from mythology, classical works of fantasy, religion.

I wanted to build this world in a smart way. I didn’t want to start naming stuff for the habit of naming something. I–you know, for instance, the jabbit, the giant serpent in the story, is actually based on Persian mythology. In their mythology, it’s called a dabbet, but I thought a jabbit was a much better term. And it just seemed like something that actually a snake would do, so I had a lot of fun with those.

And in putting the whole world together, I tried to do it as meticulously and carefully as I could. And what I did was, I didn’t create a huge world and address is superficially. I built a very small world, a village and a Quag around it, and that was it with a limited number of characters. But, I gave great depth to everything that I wrote about.        

You do a lot of work for libraries and literacy. You have a family literacy foundation, and this is a cause that you’ve been very passionate about.  And, you know, the world gets more and more digital and sometimes people say, “Why are books still important? Why are people reading stories?” Why do you do this work that you do?

David:  I was a library rat as a kid. And we’ve always had stories.  You know, humankind evolved around stories, whether it was hieroglyphics or drawings on the wall, tales that were told down, oral histories provided. So, we are a race and a civilization that grew up with stories and we love stories, because it communicates a lot of things from one generation to the next.

And libraries, for me, I’ve always considered them the foundation of the democracy. You walk into a building and it’s filled full with books. But, it’s really filled with ideas and diversity of opinion, and the things that are very important to people in a free and open society.

So, it really doesn’t matter how people read. I don’t care if you read on an e-book or you listened on an audio book or you read a paperback or a hardcover. What matters is that you read. You read the story.

And I’ve always thought that readers are far more interesting than people who don’t read, because you just are exposed to so much more. Your level of tolerance is far higher. You’re open-minded and you’re open to new ideas and opinions.

And it just makes you a much better, well-rounded person, plus the fact that, you know, reading is the most fundamental skill you’ll ever have. And without it, you can never achieve your potential. And so, people should just dive into as many books as they possible can.



About The Author

David Baldacci

David Baldacci is a global #1 bestselling author. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 110 million copies in print; several have been adapted for both feature film and television. David Baldacci is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. Still a resident of his native Virginia, he invites you to visit him at www.DavidBaldacci.com and his foundation at www.WishYouWellFoundation.org.

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Grand Central Publishing and Scholastic are graciously offering a wonderful David Baldacci 4 book prize pack to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.
                       The John Puller series – Zero Day, The Forgotten, and The Escape   
                       The Finisher – YA Fantasy      

David Baldacci series

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Heart’s Destiny by Jennifer Lynne-Review and Interview with the author

Heart’s Destiny by Jennifer Lynne-Review and Interview with the author

Heart's Destiny

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HEART’S DESTINY by Jennifer Lynne

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date December 4, 2014

Eve Perroniʼs quest to find her past leaves no time for love, until a chance prediction leads to the seductive Ky Ransom and a destiny that could make—or break—both their hearts.

Reeling from the death of her mother and the realization that she was adopted, Eve Perroni embarks on a quest to find her birth family. A chance encounter with a mysterious fortune-teller leads her to the Australian bush and Cavanagh Cottage, the birthplace of her infamous outlaw ancestor. She intends to research and write the story of her past, but in doing so finds herself in direct conflict with charismatic developer Kyan Ransom—the very man she has been told will fulfil her heart’s desire for a future centered around family…if she will just allow herself to love him.

Ky needs Cavanagh Cottage almost as much as Eve, and he has the money to get what he wants. Every single time. Can these two souls on a collision course find the true love that has been predicted, when everything they are searching for could be snatched away at any moment?

Heart’s Destiny was first published as part of the multi-author boxed set, Seduction – One Fortune at a Time (Cupid Publishing, 2 Sept 2014). This individual novella edition contains several expanded scenes.


REVIEW: HEART’S DESTINY is an adult, contemporary, erotic romance novella by Jennifer Lynne. Originally released in the September 2014 anthology-Seduction: One Fortune at a Time-HEART’S DESTINY focuses on Eve Perroni and developer Ky Ransom.

Told from third person point of view, HEART’S DESTINY follows Eve Perroni as she endeavors to uncover the history behind her birth family. Just prior to her mother’s death, it was revealed she was adopted and is descended from an infamous outlaw. When Cavanagh Cottage, her ancestor’s birthplace, comes up for auction, Eve knows it is something she must pursue. A local gypsy woman will reveal that a man named Ky is her destiny and to be sure to give him a chance. Ky is the man who will become Eve’s only other competitor for the ownership of Cavanagh Cottage. Ky has promised Cavanagh Cottage to someone else and he will make Eve an offer she cannot refuse.

The relationship between Ky and Eve is one of instant attraction, lust and love. The two are immediately drawn to one another as though predetermined by destiny and the fates. It is only a matter of hours to days that each will profess their love and need for one another. The sex scenes are erotic and seductive.  The secondary characters include Eve’s friend and journalist Tom, and Ky’s sister Chantel.

HEART’S DESTINY is a fast paced, interesting and telling storyline that focuses on two people who would never have met but for a death bed confession by Eve’s dying mother. Because the storyline is quick to develop, there is very little personal background information or history with regards to Eve and Ky. HEART’S DESTINY is about one woman trying to reclaim the past; family and falling in love.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy



TRC: Hi Jennifer and welcome back to The Reading Café.
Jennifer LynneJennifer: Hi Sandy, thanks so much for having me to visit once again. I love The Reading Café and am appreciative of all you do to support the romance reading/writing community.

TRC: For anyone who does not know Jennifer Lynne, would you please tell us something about yourself?

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Jennifer: I’m a mum of four (two daughters, a step-daughter and step-son) who lives in Melbourne, Australia. I work in admin by day, and at night I indulge my fantasies by writing short contemporary erotic romance – often with paranormal elements. I’ve been published by Red Sage and Breathless Press, and a couple of years ago took the plunge into indie publishing with my GODS OF LOVE series of erotic novellas that bring mythology (and sexy Greek gods) into a modern-day world.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Jennifer: I’ve always loved books and reading and in fact have a degree in Literature. Over the years a bit of dabbling in writing became first a rather consuming hobby, and then a professional career. In that time, organisations such as Romance Writers of Australia have had a huge influence in terms of motivation and honing my craft. I’m also a member of Romance Writers of America, and the Melbourne Romance Writer’s Guild which is a supportive group of local writers.

TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax?

Jennifer: I work four days a week at a university, and yes, I have teenagers in the house, so that pretty much takes up my whole life outside of writing! On the rare occasions I have time to myself, I love reading. A perfect day for me would involve gentle rain outside, a cozy log fire inside, and me on the couch with a glass of red wine, a good book, and one of our three cats on my lap.

TRC: Is there any profession that you would have liked to enter but never had the opportunity?

Jennifer: When I was young I wanted to be a famous gymnast. Then I grew up and decided I wanted to be a writer! ☺

Heart's DestinyTRC: December 4, 2014 is the release date for HEART’S DESTINY. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Jennifer: HEART’S DESTINY was first published as part of a multi-author boxed set, called SEDUCTION – ONE FORTUNE AT A TIME, back in September. The overarching premise of the set was that a fortune-teller’s prediction in each novella would lead to love and hopefully a happy-ever-after for each heroine and her hero.

In HEART’S DESTINY, my heroine Eve has recently lost both her mother and her identity. The quest to uncover her past leaves no time for love, until a chance prediction by a mysterious fortune-teller leads Eve directly into the path of Kyan Ransom and a destiny that could make – or break – both their hearts.

This is a novella-length story, but it packs a lot in to a short space. HEART’S DESTINY is about many interwoven themes – the complexity of family, loyalty, trust, and about the importance of growth and moving forward rather than stagnating in the past.

TRC: Is HEART’S DESTINY a stand-alone storyline or do you have plans for a series?

Jennifer: I wrote HEART’S DESTINY as a stand-alone, but there are a couple of potential spin-off stories that I’m tempted to explore. One is the story of Rasa, the fortune-teller. Who is this mysterious woman who can predict love for others but seems so alone? The other is an historical romance – the story of Eve’s infamous ancestors, Sarah and Joe Cavanagh.

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

Jennifer: I think the main challenge was knowing that HEART’S DESTINY would sit in the first instance alongside six other stories with the same premise, and yet it also needed to be able to stand-alone. I’m very happy with how it turned out, and have been able to expand some of the scenes in this slightly longer version.

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

Jennifer: Definitely the characters! Sometimes they take me on a path I never even imagined could exist. I do try and wrestle them back to where I need them to be, but they just ignore me. I’ve learnt to listen to my characters – they usually know best.

TRC: Are you a plotter or pantser (write by the seat of your pants !)?

Jennifer: Pantser, 100%.

TRC: What’s next for your GODS OF LOVE series?

Gods of love series

Jennifer: I’m currently finishing ICE QUEEN, the sixth novella in my GODS OF LOVE series, which I’m hoping to release in January. This is the story of Meika, a former killer whose heart is frozen in darkness. Eros, the god-king of desire may well have met his match – he will need all the combined power of the erotes to melt Meika’s heart.

Ice QueenICE QUEEN was to be the last in the series, but I think there are many story possibilities still to explore, so I’m planning to keep going! So many Greek gods and goddesses with fascinating mythological backgrounds, and of course, so many mortals in need of sexual healing and love in this harsh modern-day world of ours.

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?

Jennifer: I think the key is to draw the reader as deeply as possible into the character’s point of view. Show rather than tell your story. As soon as you inject a narrator’s voice, the reader becomes less immersed in the experience. To give a short example from HEART’S DESTINY, instead of saying something like: “Eve felt excited at the thought of making love to Ky”, we go deeper into her thoughts for a (hopefully!) more impactful experience:

What would it feel like, to be trapped beneath someone like you? To hand over power and control, to be totally at your mercy, thrashing in a parody of escape, only to have every thrusting movement drive you deeper, make you harder. Send you over the edge, taking me with you…

TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?

Jennifer: I’m highly familiar with writer’s block, unfortunately. Our family has had a few health dramas in recent years and I find that the more drained I am emotionally, the less I’m able to write. I used to worry and obsess over it, but these days, I try and give myself permission to take time away from writing when I feel drained. Trying to reconnect with why you want to write in the first place is also helpful. Eventually, if you give yourself time and space, the well of creativity starts to fill once again. I can’t imagine a life without writing, so I try not to worry too much when “it” just isn’t happening.

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

Jennifer: In terms of my writing, making the USA Today Bestselling Author list would be very nice! How about we add in the NY Times Bestseller List too? And last but not least, I’d love to be making a living from my writing – that has been my dream for so long, and giving up the day job is what I work towards every time I sit down at the computer to write. ☺

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

Jennifer: I was skipping down the grass beside our driveway when I was child and fell down a sinkhole. I had to hang on to the edge of the concrete drive by my fingers. I eventually, somehow, climbed out and the council workers who came out to fix it discovered a leaking pipe had washed away the earth beneath. A terrifying experience that left a lasting emotional scar, for sure.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Jennifer: I’ve started work on a new highly erotic collection called NOT VANILLA. This will include a series of short novellas about fetish fantasies such as voyeurism, light bondage, ménage, exhibitionism and a few other fun little topics!

Then I’ll be heading in the other direction with a non-erotic romance series of full-length novels about bridesmaid myths. To differentiate the erotic from the non-erotic works, my brand-new alter ego, Jen Katemi, will be writing the non-erotic books ;) Overall, I’m very excited about what 2015 will bring.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Jennifer: I’d just like to say a huge thank you for having me to visit once again, and for those who plan to read HEART’S DESTINY, I do hope you enjoy it.

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

Jennifer: My pleasure, Sandy!


Tap Rack Bang (Ben Blackshaw #3) by Robert Blake Whitehill-Review and Interview

TAP RACK BANG (Ben Blackshaw #3) by Robert Blake Whitehill-Review and Interview

Tap Rack Bang

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RELEASE DATE: September 4, 2014

Former Navy Seal Ben Blackshaw lurks in solitude aboard the shoaled wreck of the American Mariner in the Chesapeake Bay. He is awakened one stormy spring night when a drifting dinghy slams into the old ship’s hull. Blackshaw investigates, and discovers there is only one occupant in the sinking boat, a naked young woman lying unconscious in the bilge.

Against his better judgment, and risking his own undercover operation, Blackshaw gives shelter to Tally, the terrified refugee. He soon learns Tally has escaped a calculating crew of sociopaths who are about to launch an internet site called L’Abattoir, on which hostages will be tortured, and then executed. Tally was able to free herself, but she now she must return to the dreaded dungeon with help to rescue her little sister, and to free twenty other victims-in-waiting.


REVIEW: TAP RACK BANG is the third installment in Robert Blake Whitehill’s contemporary, adult Ben Blackshaw mystery, suspense series focusing on former Navy SEAL Ben Blackshaw. Although this is the third storyline in the series it can be read as a stand alone without too much difficulty but saying that there is plenty of previous storyline scenarios referred to and discussed, some of which are important to the current timeline. A former nemesis will be front and center in TAP RACK BANG-I only wish I had more information about their previous encounters.

The story follows Ben Blackshaw, a former Navy SEAL who has been in hiding, presumed dead, and now must come out of seclusion to aid a young woman, an escapee, known as Tally whose story of abduction and torture seems too hard to believe. An internet site known as L’Abattoir (French for slaughterhouse) is set to launch, and Tally and her fellow kidnapped detainees are scheduled as the night’s main event.

Ben Blackshaw is a man possessed. He is the hero whose soul is stained with the blood of many. A man whose history is dark but for the number of lives he has saved and secured. When Ben’s wife goes missing, he will do everything possible to ensure her safe return.

Robert Blake Whitehill pulls the reader into a storyline of action, suspense, mystery and drama. There are moments of murderous rage and gluttonous ego wrapped in an abhorrent scenario of human trafficking and sexual perversion. From the elite of society to the political who’s who, the audience of deviant watchers must pay the price for their horrendous and alarming voyeuristic proclivities. The victims are the nameless; the homeless; and the poor; with no one waiting for their return.

The storyline is slow to build as our ‘hero’ must ferret out the people, the places and the information needed to attempt a rescue and take down. The secondary characters are numerous, colorful and complex; from the nemesis, the sidekick, the mentor and the fool, each character will play an important role as Ben gathers intel for the final scene. We will be reintroduced to Ben’s friends and former neighbors who owe Ben more than just their lives.

TAP RACK BANG is an imaginative, graphically violent and compelling storyline that reads like a movie where the action and suspense builds until the final minutes. The novel does not end on a happily ever after for everyone. There are moments of heartbreak, sorrow and loss. No one is safe and everyone is targeted-in the end.

Copy supplied by the publisher.

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Robert and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of TAP RACK BANG.

Robert Blake WhitehillRobert: Thank you! It’s great to speak with you. And I am so happy to have Tap Rack Bang done and out there in readers’ hands. It was difficult to write. Human trafficking is an awful subject to delve into, particularly when it deals with snuff entertainment.

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

Follow Robert: Facebook / Website / Twitter /

Robert: I was born and raised a Quaker on Maryland’s Eastern Shore Peninsula by the Chesapeake Bay. Grew up on the water. A little sailing. A little crabbing. Lots of walks in the woods.

I’ve been writing for a long time. Even though I began as an actor, between gigs I custom-wrote audition monologues for other actors I knew. I mean, their headshots look like them. Their resumes reflected their unique experience. Why, I wondered, should they audition with monologues written for somebody else? That’s how my paid writing career really got started.

Since then, I’ve also written a number of highly-rated true-crime shows for Discovery, as well as some award-winning feature scripts. U.X.O. (Unexploded Ordnance) won an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

I have worked as a bridge tender on the Old Severn River Bridge next to the Naval Academy in Annapolis. That was a great office, out there in the middle of the water. What a view! It was a peaceful place to write. I was also a Ginsu Knife pitchman for a time to pay some bills. I’m very proud to have served my town of Montclair, New Jersey on their ambulances as an Emergency Medical Technician. That was a revelatory experience. It was nice to have the company car, the clothing allowance, and for once, not to not have to pull over when I saw the flashing lights of a police escort behind me. Seriously, I got to help folks in the worst ten minutes of their lives. That was quite an honor and a privilege.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Robert: I met my primary writing influences early. My mom is an excellent poet, and a fine editor. My dad was an award-winning short story author and novelist. I got to see what a writer’s day-to-day life looked like, and learned so much from their work. Professor Robert H. Butman at Haverford College, and Dominic Le Poer Power at the British and European Studies Group: London taught me a tremendous amount about dramatic writing.

It might seem strange, but I learned most about writing, and how much I loved it, during my study of acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. Memorize and perform some of the best dramatic writing in the English language, and it really sticks with you. I realized I was full of stories, and infested by strange voices for which the only exorcism was writing.

Robert McKee remains an important teacher. If he is revered as a writing guru, he earned it.

I read Melville, Stevenson, Defoe, Wyss, and Verne when I was in grade school, and yes, The Hardy Boys, too. Today, I admire the work of Carl Hiaasen, Scott Smith, Alistair MacLean, Tom Robbins, Randy Wayne White, Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, and James Lee Burke. My Ben Blackshaw Series has elements of each of those great authors, at least to some degree.

TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax?

Robert: When I’m not writing, I really enjoy reading, hitting movies, practicing tai chi, exercising, birding, hiking, knocking around in our flying club’s planes, getting out on the Chesapeake, and most of all, hanging with my wife and son.

Tap Rack BangTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of TAP RACK BANG-the third installment in your Ben Blackshaw mystery/suspense series?

Robert: Tap Rack Bang finds former U.S. Navy SEAL Ben Blackshaw lying low aboard the shoaled wreck of an old Liberty Ship in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. Late one night he discovers an old dinghy washed up at the wreck, with a woman lying dead in it. Turns out, she was only exhausted and unconscious, and she has just escaped from a human trafficking ring that was planning to kill her, as well as her little sister, and a number of other hostages on a high-priced on-line snuff site. Without quite knowing what he is up against, Blackshaw risks blowing his own cover and agrees to help free the fugitive’s sister and the other hostages. He teams with his old friend Knocker Ellis Hogan, but realizes he is going to need the help of a few of his neighbors as well. Not everybody wants to pitch in. In the final assault on the snuff site’s impregnable hideout, Blackshaw and Ellis are outgunned. Blackshaw risks losing the one thing in life he values most. The outcome, well, it’s devastating. Tough as he is, Blackshaw’s psyche just about comes unglued. No spoilers, but it isn’t clear he is going to get through this one alive, or what will be left of him if he makes it.

TRC: How many books do you have planned for the Ben Blackshaw series?

Robert: I’m in for at least ten missions in The Ben Blackshaw Series, but there will likely be many more. I’m having too much fun!

TRC: Can each book be read as a stand-alone?

Robert: Every book in the Ben Blackshaw Series is a stand-alone work. Deadrise is the first book. There is a bit of relevant back-story in each subsequent book, Nitro Express, and Tap Rack Bang, but only as needed. A paragraph or two. That’s it. Just enough to make sense of the current mission, without doing a whole extended recap. Of course, growing with a character from his inception offers readers the pleasure of certain nuances and inside references and clues, but by no means do you need to read Deadrise to understand Nitro Express and Tap Rack Bang.

Ben Blackshaw Series

TRC: Is there any new information or news regarding the possibility of the Ben Blackshaw series optioning to television or motion pictures?

Robert: I am elated to report that HatLine Productions, based in Los Angeles, has optioned the feature film and television rights to Deadrise, Nitro Express, and Tap Rack Bang. I wrote about that optioning process for Writer’s Digest, but the main thing is, you never know who is connected to whom in terms of helping one’s dream be realized. HatLine, including Stephanie Bell, with whom I attended Haverford College, and Michael Lipoma and Tamra Teig, are an amazing visionary troika. I feel assured The Ben Blackshaw Series movies will be successful in their hands. I was thrilled to learn they felt I was uniquely qualified to adapt the books into screenplays myself. That level of involvement is afforded very few novelists. I’m very grateful for the privilege, and for their confidence. The prospect of seeing The Ben Blackshaw Series on the big screen is so exciting, even though it is a long way off with so much work to do along the way.

TRC: Which actor or model would best represent your ideal image of Ben Blackshaw?

Robert: Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but casting Ben Blackshaw will come pretty close to using a movie industry algorithm to make that final determination. The producers and distributors will put their heads together and see which actors are drawing big audiences. Those actors will be approached, and if we’re lucky, one will love the project and still have availability in his schedule for the shoot. If one of them likes the project, but is not available, the production might wait until he is free.

It’s a funny thing, but statistics show that casting a big star often does not produce wham-bam box office results, but it gives the distributors confidence. Saving the megastar’s massive fee and rider costs by casting a lesser known talent would drastically lower the film’s breakeven point, but a star represents insurance in the distributor’s mind. That said, producers can innovate in casting outreach more, the further they are working from the project’s larger above-the-line roles. My own thoughts for Ben Blackshaw include Matthew McConaughey, Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon, Jeremy Renner, and Timothy Olyphant.

Of course, a hero is ultimately judged by the power and savagery of the monster he defeats. The antagonist in Deadrise, a bastard named Maynard Chalk, would no doubt be incredibly well-rendered by Jack Nicholson, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sharlto Copley, Geoffrey Rush, or Bill Nighy.

But let’s not forget the other ways we judge a hero: by the strength of his friendships and the depths of his love. For Blackshaw’s spotter, Knocker Ellis Hogan, I could envision Samuel L. Jackson, Delroy Lindo, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne or Keith David. For Ben Blackshaw’s beloved fiancée, LuAnna Bryce, I could see Anna Faris, Noomi Rapace, Claire Danes, or Anna Paquin.

I’m actually very curious to learn from readers who they think would best play Ben Blackshaw and the others.

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

Robert: After a few initial lines of writing, the characters take over, keeping the plot very unpredictable. Plot is the sum of the characters’ decisions, actions and the results of those actions. The Blackshaw Series crew, both good and bad, is always surprising me. If their actions are grounded in emotional truth, then I can sustain believability, and sometimes stretch it without breaking. My readers love action-adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. They get some romance, too, no charge.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background) did you encounter writing this particular storyline and series?

Robert: Though I am from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, I constantly research the places and people there, to deepen my knowledge of the Chesapeake Bay region. That shows in The Ben Blackshaw Series, I sincerely hope. I often go to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, in St. Michaels, Maryland, to see what’s new in their understanding of history. I visit Smith Island, where Blackshaw is from, and Tangier Island as well. All that keeps my background for the stories solid.

A difficulty writing The Ben Blackshaw Series is the fact that I was raised Quaker, which is among other things, a pacifist religion. I have never served in the military. For my military strategies, tactics, ballistics and ordnance usage, I rely on reading books, and searching the Internet. All that information then gets vetted by two guys. The first is my cousin, decorated veteran Walter Whitehill, who served very effectively overseas on a sniper team. I get further ideas from Adam Gubar, a noted, quoted scholar on ballistics and armaments.

For Tap Rack Bang in particular, researching human trafficking of adults and children, as well as learning about gore sites on the Internet, was simply depressing, but it had to be done. Of course, at some point you start writing, you integrate and synthesize the facts, and see where they take you. I am told I have a pretty sick imagination, but then things I thought were fiction, things I was putting into Tap Rack Bang, began to be reported on the news. A fellow writer says, “It’s only fiction until it happens.” I did not want to be right about a lot of this material. For good or ill, it turns out I was.

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

Robert: Bear with me for a moment on this. It is easy to market a series by aligning the author with the main character. Their names are the key elements of the series brand. What few realize is that, while the marquee character recurs from book to book, the author’s real comradery is with the antagonist, the hero’s enemy. If you see an author standing proudly by his main character, what you might not see is that author pressing a shiv against the character’s kidney out of sight of any onlooker. I think Ben Blackshaw is a great character, but who would really know what Blackshaw is made of if all his nemeses, like Maynard Chalk, or Nitro Express, or Joachim DePriest, were wimps! A mystery/thriller author is at his, or her, best when acting as the hero’s worst enemy.

All that said, The Ben Blackshaw Series characters run the show. I just sit down at the keyboard every morning and dream up problems, fascinated to see what they’ll do next. They always surprise me.

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?

Robert: I think that finding emotional truth is the best way to help readers empathize with the main character. I often work with Blackshaw’s fears: fear of losing what he has, and fear of not getting what he wants. Every reader, every human can identify with those two manifestations of fear. Moving forward in the face of fear, in the face of danger, and insurmountable obstacles, makes Blackshaw a guy readers want to root for. He doesn’t have a lock on any situation. He cannot completely rely on his closest friends. We have all been there. The fact that Blackshaw will come through is teased by my including the opening chapter of his next mission at the end of every book. But what kind of shape will he be in? Rested? Healthy? Sane? Ready to sally forth? No. Never. Blackshaw might barely make it through one book, but I still prefer to start him off in the next book at an ebb, and pull him even farther down into a riptide of obstacles.

Some authors are great at creating cold, practical, implacable hero characters. Many readers want to identify with a hard guy. Readers can definitely project their own emotions onto a tabula rasa character like that. I prefer to make Blackshaw as relatable as possible, with human foibles, with prosaic fears, and then see how he pulls himself through the catastrophes thrown at him, even if he is staggering or crawling at the end.

TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon for some authors. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?

Robert: I write five pages a day, five days a week, for four or five months to come up with a complete draft I can edit. I stick to that. It might take eight hours to meet that daily goal, or it might take eighteen hours. It doesn’t matter. If I manage that smaller result, the bigger result of knowing I will have a full rough draft to edit after a few months helps me handle the daily pressures. Then comes the editing, which cures any problems that cropped up along the way.

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

Robert: My father, award-winning short story author and novelist Joseph Whitehill, told me never to shop ideas at cocktail parties or anywhere else, because it vitiates a writer’s story-telling urge. Saps it. Lets the air out of the balloon. For a while, I thought Dad was wrong on this point. Then I tested a few premature ideas with friends, and yes, I even did it a few parties to feel, well, more interesting. I discovered afterward that I did not feel the least drive to write that story anymore. Sometimes I couldn’t even remember the original idea at all. Phhttt! It was gone! So now I keep radio silence until the rough draft is done, or even until there has been at least one editorial pass. Then I show the work to a very few trusted friends.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Robert: Right now, I am excited to be writing the screenplay for Deadrise, as well as Book 4 in the Ben Blackshaw Series, entitled Geronimo Hotshot.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Robert: You ask great questions. I would like to suggest The Ben Blackshaw Series to anyone who loves a great yarn, and who also wants to understand the unique people and setting of the Chesapeake Bay region. It is a very special place to me. As a Smith Islander, Ben Blackshaw is a decent, faithful man with extraordinary skills who fights hard for justice, for home, and for his people. I hope readers will want to get to know a man like that.

Also, anybody is welcome to get in touch with me about The Ben Blackshaw Series, or writing, or whatever’s on your mind at rbw@robertblakewhitehill.com. I respond to every email.


Favorite TV Show: The Bridge.

Last Movie You Saw: Interstellar.

Favorite Musical Group: Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos.

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Yes.

Secret Celebrity Crush: My wife Mary is my only crush. I respect and admire Mimi Leder as a director, and Stephanie Bell as a producer.

Last Vacation Destination: Quebec City, like Europe on our own continent.

Do you have any pets? We have a beta named Minnie Estelle.

Pet Peeve: I dislike clichés, whether colloquial, or of my own creation from repeating a key word or phrase within the same chapter. It strikes me as lazy. God forbid!

TRC: Thank you Robert for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations and all the best.

Robert: Thank you so much! It has been a genuine pleasure visiting with you.


Owning Violet (The Fowler Sisters #1) by Monica Murphy-Review, Interview and Giveaway

Owning Violet (The Fowler Sisters #1) by Monica Murphy-Review, Interview and Giveaway

Owning Violet Banner

Owning Violet
The Fowler Sisters #1
by Monica Murphy
Genre: adult, contemporary,erotic, romance
Release Date: December 2, 2014

Owning Violet Dec 14

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OWNING VIOLET (The Fowler Sisters #1) by Monica Murphy

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date December 2, 2014

New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy begins a sexy new contemporary romance series—perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Emma Chase—that introduces three sisters born to wealth, raised to succeed, ready to love, destined to make waves.

I’ve moved through life doing what’s expected of me. I’m the middle daughter, the dutiful daughter. The one who braved a vicious attack and survived. The one who devoted herself to her family’s business empire. The one who met an ambitious man and fell in love. We were going to run Fleur Cosmetics together, Zachary and I.

Until he got a promotion and left me in the dust. Maybe it’s for the best, between his disloyalty and his wandering eye. But another man was waiting for me. Wanting me. He too has an overwhelming thirst for success, just like Zachary—perhaps even more so. He’s also ruthless. And mysterious. I know nothing about Ryder McKay beyond that he makes me feel things I’ve never felt before.

One stolen moment, a kiss, a touch . . . and I’m hooked. Ryder’s like a powerful drug, and I’m an addict who doesn’t want to be cured. He tells me his intentions aren’t pure, and I believe him. For once, I don’t care. I’m willing to risk everything just to be with him. Including my heart. My soul.

My everything.


REVIEW: OWNING VIOLET is the first installment in Monica Murphy’s contemporary, adult The Fowler Sisters erotic, romance series focusing on heirs to the Fleur Cosmetics Company Violet, Lily and Rose Fowler. This is Violet Fowler and Ryder McKay’s storyline.

Told from alternating first person points of view (Violet and Ryder), OWNING VIOLET finds good girl and daddy’s favorite Violet Fowler in a state of confusion. Believing her less than faithful boyfriend of two years is about to propose, Violet comes away shocked to discover that Zachary has accepted a temporary position in London, England with Fleur Cosmetics. Dismissed and discarded, Violet will unknowingly find herself the pawn in a much different game when the sexy head of packaging for Fleur Cosmetics-Ryder McKay-takes an immediate interest in Violet where an anything goes relationship is just what she needs. Hoping to keep their tryst a secret, Violet agrees to a ‘friends with benefits’ affair not realizing that someone else is pulling Ryder’s strings. What began as a dare becomes something so much more.

The relationship between Violet and Ryder is spontaneous, erotic and sensual. From the boardroom conference table, to the bedroom and every surface in between Ryder and Violet’s supposedly secret affair becomes fodder for the employees at Fleur Cosmetics. Violet is considered the quiet, shy and overachieving sister but in the bedroom a different side of Violet will emerge.

Ryder is a bad boy with a bad boy reputation; an alpha male with dark secrets and a darker past but when Violet is told that everything about their relationship is a ruse, Violet will walk away heartbroken and destroyed. Ryder has made a pact with the devil and the devil has set her sights on someone more powerful within the company. Ryder is a man who demands obedience in the bedroom; a little rougher around the edges with his needs and wants. The sex scenes are numerous, provocative and intense.

We are introduced to Violet’s sisters Lily and Rose. There are some broken family dynamics as it involves Forrest Fowler and his daughters, but none more so than the destructive nature of betrayal and loss. Forrest’s new love interest could very well destroy the company and that of his daughters’ respect and love.

OWNING VIOLET focuses on the corporate ladder and what some people will do to get what they want. There are moments of intimate passion and heartbreaking revelations but in the end two people will get their happily ever after. Monica Murphy’s incredible imagination will pull you in and never let go.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Monica and welcome back to The Reading Cafe.

Monica: Thanks so much for having me, Sandy!

Monica MurphyTRC: For anyone who does know you or your alter ego Karen Erickson, would you please tell us something about yourself?

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Monica: Absolutely. I’m Monica Murphy and I write both new adult and contemporary romance for Bantam and Avon. I also write contemporary romance as Karen Erickson. The difference between the two pen names? Monica writes in first person point of view and the books are a little darker with a lot of angst. As Karen, I write third person POV and the books are still sexy but lighter and fun.

TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax? For fun?

Monica: I like to read, hang out with my family, watch bad reality TV (Bravo is my weakness). We also like to travel though I wouldn’t always call that relaxing.

TRC: OWNING VIOLET is your December 2014 release and first installment in your new Fowler Sisters series. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Owning Violet Dec 14Monica: The Fowler Sisters are heiresses to Fleur Cosmetics company, which was founded by their grandmother and is currently run by their father. There are three sisters: Lily is the oldest and is a complete party girl mess. Rose is the youngest and she’s very headstrong — she doesn’t hold back. And then we have Violet, the middle sister, the dutiful sister, the one who is being groomed to take over Fleur. At the beginning of OWNING VIOLET she believes her life is perfectly set down a specific path. But then everything changes and she becomes involved with the very mysterious, very sexy Ryder McKay, who works at Fleur.

TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series ?

Monica: Three. So far. Never say never to the possibility of more.

TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading characters in this storyline, which models or actors best represents your ideal image?

Monica: This is so tough! I don’t really have anyone in mind for the guys. They are always in my head (and just the perfect, ideal man of course). For the sisters, I could see Leighton Meester, Mila Kunis…dark haired, beautiful actresses would fit the bill for all three of them really.

Stealing RoseTRC: STEALING ROSE is the second installment in the series. What can you tell us about the premise?

Monica: STEALING ROSE is completely different compared to OWNING VIOLET. Though Rose is having a moment of crisis when the book starts out and she meets a mysterious man…but Caden is nothing like Ryder. He’s much lighter. Very sexy. Oh, very sexy. I adore Caden and can’t wait for readers to meet him!

TRC: Who or what was the inspiration behind the series and the sisters?

Monica: I’ve been wanting to write a series about three sisters named after flowers forEVER. It’s been lying in wait in my idea file (seriously – I found notes on The Fowler Sisters recently dating back to 2007) for a long time. I wanted to write something glamorous, edgy, emotional and over the top sexy. I hope this series hits all of those notes and more.

TRC: What challenges of difficulties did you experience writing this particular series?

Monica: Ryder is quite frankly, not a nice person. Caden in STEALING ROSE does bad things too. And Lily from TAMING LILY is a mess. I like taking characters that seem unredeemable and redeem them. It’s fun. I’m fascinated by the anti-hero (and heroine).

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

Monica: At first I direct the characters but they always take over. It sounds crazy but as I write, I discover more and more and they tend to steer the stories where they need to go. It’s always a surprise. That’s why I can never plot every little chapter/step out. That process just doesn’t work for me.

TRC: December and January are busy times for you as an author. As Karen Erickson, you have two books in your Vegas Nights Series due to be released (one month apart). Would you please tell us something about each book?

Monica: December 23, 2014-WICKED WEEKEND: This is a FREE short story that releases right before Christmas and introduces you to the characters that will appear in the VEGAS NIGHTS series. Three friends who are nurses and work all the time take a girls only vacation to Vegas. Where they end up meeting a guy who invites them to an exclusive party. Of course, they meet the sexiest men alive there and proceed to fall madly in love.

January 13, 2015- RECKLESS NIGHTS: This is Reagan and Declan’s story. Declan is an actor who’s career has been given a second chance. He used to be a teen heartthrob–and Reagan’s teen crush. To her, having a chance to spend time with the sexy Declan is like a dream come true. And for Declan, he feels the same.

Two more novellas are coming in the series, in the spring and summer of 2015. More info soon.

TRC: Do you have plans to add to your ONE WEEK GIRLFRIEND series with either a novella or epilogue set of storylines perhaps focusing on each couple (e.g. 5-10 years in the future)? ;)

One Week Girlfriend Series

Monica: I get asked this question a lot, especially about Owen and Chelsea (FOUR YEARS LATER). Many feel like their story was left unfinished. I will never say never. Who knows. The opportunity may arise again someday. I do know I miss writing in that world. Drew + Fable are special to me. They always will be.

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?

Monica: Hmm, well I think it helps to go as deep within the point of view of the characters as we can get. That’s where first person POV comes in handy. You as the reader truly feel like you’re experiencing what the characters are experiencing. As a writer you just have to reach deep and be genuine in describing the emotions. Both the good and the bad.

TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?

Monica: There’s this thing called a deadline that won’t allow me to get writer’s block. *winks* Seriously, this is my career, I’ve been writing full time for years and I can’t allow myself to get stuck for too long. I have a schedule and I must meet it. I think we can train ourselves to push through and get it done. We can always go back and fix it.

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

Monica: My critique partner is Katy Evans and she’s my saving grace. I adore and trust her input and opinion. And I know she feels the same way about me.

I also like to bounce ideas off of my husband. He comes up with the CRAZIEST stuff. Like, bizarre. But I can always pull a little something from the crazy and make it work. He’s my go to when I’m really stuck. He always comes up with some insane idea. Ha ha I make him sound like he’s nuts. He’s not. I swear. *winks*

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


I want to maintain and grow my career. Try something different, writing-wise.
I’d like to travel more with my family.
And learn how to work just a little less (we shall see on that one).

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Monica: I just turned in TAMING LILY to my editor so I expect edits/revisions on that any day now. I’m also working on the second novella for the VEGAS NIGHTS series as Karen.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Monica: I’m excited for readers to pick up OWNING VIOLET and I hope they enjoy it. It’s different compared to what I’ve written as Monica in the past but I think my readers will love it. Hopefully.

TRC:  Thank you Monica for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on all of your success and your upcoming new releases.

Monica: Thank you again Sandy! I appreciate it.


Monica and her publisher are graciously offering a paper copy of OWNING VIOLET 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.


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

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

6. Please LIKE  Monica Murphy on FACEBOOK.

7. Giveaway is open to USA and Canada only

8. Giveaway runs from December 3-8,  2014


Braydon (Alluring Indulgence #6) by Nicole Edwards-Review,Interview & Giveaway

BRAYDON (Alluring Indulgence #6) by Nicole Edwards-Review, Interview and Giveaway

Braydon Banner

Alluring Indulgence #6
by Nicole Edwards
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic romance
Release Date: November25, 2014


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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 24, 2014

Braydon Walker has always shared everything with his identical twin brother Brendon—hopes, dreams, career choices, and yes, even women. Known for tag-teaming their love interests in every way imaginable, Braydon is surprised and unnerved when he finds himself wanting to keep their newest lover all to himself. Will the twins’ relationship evolve to fit this new mold, or will Braydon’s desire for independence tear them apart?


REVIEW:  BRAYDON is the sixth installment in Nicole Edwards contemporary, adult Alluring Indulgence erotic romance cowboy series focusing on the Walker family of Coyote Ridge, Texas. This is Braydon Walker and Jessica (Jessie) Prescott’s storyline, one that has been building for several storylines. There are some sexual scenes of M/F/M.

Told from third person point of view BRAYDON follows the relationship between Jessie Prescott and thirty year old twin brothers Braydon and Brendan Walker. From a young age, Braydon and Brendan have done everything together including sexual relationships but never have they ever fallen in love. Things will become complicated when Braydon’s feelings for Jessie grow stronger knowing that leaving his brother behind is not in the plans.

The relationship between Braydon and Brendon is symbiotic; dependent and interdependent with one another to the point where Brendon is unable to thrive without the presence of his brother. Brendon, always the one to initiate a relationship and fun, slowly begins to withdraw when he realizes that Braydon’s feelings for Jessie go beyond friends with benefits.

BRAYDON is an emotional friends to lovers story where a lack of communication between Braydon, Brendan and Jessie begins to destroy a friendship leaving conflicts unresolved. There are numerous misunderstandings that lead to broken promises and broken hearts where one brother begins to spiral out of control and Jessie is left alone to pick up the pieces of her broken heart. The lack of communication results in confusion, anger and a constant need to run-for everyone. At times I wanted to smack all three across the back of the head and tell them to open their eyes and their hearts. Not only does Jessie feel the loss of her best friends, but she also believes there is no future with Braydon when his anguish pulls him in another direction. Jessie has vowed she will never come between the brothers and in this she is willing to walk (or run) away and let go of any hope for the future.

The secondary characters include all of the previous storyline couples. We get another look at eldest brother Travis and his relationship with Gage, and Jessie’s sister Kylie: as well as Ethan Walker’s marriage to the love of his life Beau Bennett. Sawyer Walker has decided a puppy is what he needs to attract the ladies in his direction. And of course, Mrs. Walker does her best to ensure all of her boys are happy.

Nicole Edwards writes from the heart with passion. Her tall, dark and dangerous cowboys are fallible humans whose ability to love knows no boundaries. The Walker Brothers are brooding, emotional and intense men who will captivate your imagination but at times the drama is distressing and profound.

Copy supplied by the author through Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Nicole and welcome to The Reading Café.

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

Follow: Goodreads/ Website/ Twitter/ Facebook

Nicole: Nicole Edwards is my pen name (the name is comprised of my husband middle name – Edward, and my daughter’s middle name – Nicole). I live in Texas with my husband, three kids and our four crazy, rambunctious dogs.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Nicole: I think every book I’ve ever read has influenced me in some way.

TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax?

Nicole: Read.

BraydonTRC: BRAYDON is the sixth installment in your Alluring Indulgence contemporary, adult series. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Nicole: Braydon has spent his entire life living in his twin brothers shadow. He’s always been the go-with-the-flow kind of guy. That is until he met Jessie. She flipped his world upside down in ways he hadn’t expected and he finds that what he’d always thought he wanted no longer fit into what he wanted from her. He learns that not everything in life is easy, not every decision has the desired outcome, and above all else, he finds that love is worth fighting for.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background) did you encounter writing this particular book and series?

Nicole: The biggest challenge I had was actually regarding Braydon’s twin brother Brendon. I could feel Brendon’s pain and I hated that he was hurting because of the decisions that were being made by those around him.

TRC: Are any of the characters or the premise based in reality or a combination of reality and fiction?

Nicole: Very rarely have any of my characters or stories been based on any sort of reality – future or past. Sometimes I wish they had, but my stories are just figments of my crazy imagination.

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

Nicole: My characters have always directed my writing. Sometimes I find myself staring at the screen thinking “Really? That just happened?”

Alluring Indulgence Series

TRC: What are your thoughts on writing a series and ending an installment with a major cliff hanger?

Nicole: I think there are different definitions of cliffhangers. There are the ones that literally leave you hanging – like the sentence just trails off and you’re wondering where the rest of the story went. I think there are endings that leave you desperately wanting to know more about the characters or what’s happened to them. And I think there are endings where you get a glimpse at future characters (just enough to pique your curiosity) and you’re left wanting to know more right then. As with any book, I think the ending is important and sometimes a cliff hanger is necessary.

TRC: Writer’s block is a very real dilemma for many writers. How do you handle the phenomenon?

Nicole: Oh, the dreaded writer’s block. For me, this has happened at the worst possible time – then again, I don’t think there is ever a good time. One way I try to circumvent it is by writing more than one book at a time. I can move to another story, hope it pulls me in and I can devote time to it while I’m desperately trying to figure out why the other characters stopped talking to me. Then there are the times that I just have to walk away. Take a day or two away from my computer and not think about it.

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

Nicole: My husband. I’ll toss an idea at him and he is always good about asking questions. Sometimes he goes off in an entirely different direction and I wonder just who I’m talking to, but no matter what, when I get a chance to talk about the idea, it generally spurs more ideas.

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?

Nicole: Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor? I can’t speak for other writers, however, I can say that in order for me to feel the emotions of the characters, I have to get to know them. With my characters, I know plenty of minor details that are never included in the books, things that help me to connect to them.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Nicole: I’m currently working on a stand-alone novel. The idea just came to me one day and I had no choice but to sit down and start writing. Granted, I’m also working on a couple of other books, but the stand-alone is what has captured my interest mostly.


Favorite Food Chocolate

Favorite Dessert Chocolate mousse

Favorite TV Show The Big Bang Theory

Last Movie You Saw Fast and Furious… whatever the last one was.

Favorite Musical Group There are so many but I’ve had an infatuation with Brantley Gilbert recently.

Dark or Milk Chocolate Mmmm… chocolate. I like both, but prefer milk chocolate most of the time.

Secret Celebrity Crush Jim Parsons (he plays Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory)

Last Vacation Destination New York City

TRC: Thank you Nicole for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of Braydon. We wish you all the best.


Nicole is graciously offering an ecopy of BRAYDON 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.


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

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

6. Please LIKE Nicole Edwards on FACEBOOK.


8. Giveaway runs from November 28-Dec 2, 2014


Temporal Shift (Dark Desires #4) by Nina Croft-Review and Interview

Temporal Shift (Dark Desires #4) by Nina Croft-Review and Interview

Temporal Shift

.99¢ ebook deal at Amazon and KOBO

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk/ Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

Release Date: November 17, 2014

Caught between destiny and desire…

After diving into a black hole in search of the source of Meridian, the key to immortality, the crew of the Blood Hunter finds themselves stranded in an alternate universe.

Engineer Devlin Stark doesn’t want immortality. He just wants to live long enough to get his revenge on the man who murdered his brother. Now, he’s trapped in a strange world with a crazy woman who claims he’s fated to be her lover.

Saffira Lourdes has a destiny: to save humanity and lead her exiled people to the Promised Land. Haunted by visions of the past and future, she’s been sustained through the years by a dream lover. Unfortunately, Devlin doesn’t believe in fate. But it’s obvious there’s a connection between them, one that will soon be tested by the limits of time and space. Saffira is about to make the crew of the Blood Hunter an offer they’ll find impossible to refuse.

They’re heading back to Earth, and they’re going back in time.


REVIEW: TEMPORAL SHIFT is the fourth installment in Nina Croft’s adult, paranormal, sci-fi DARK DESIRES (Blood Hunter) fantasy, romance series focusing on the crew of the space cruiser-The El Cazador (now known as the Blood Hunter 2). This is GM (genetically modified) engineer and leader of the Resistance Devlin Stark and Saffira Lourdes’s storyline. Although it is the fourth in the series, it can be read as a stand alone but for cohesion and backstory, I recommend reading the series in order.

Some background: 1000 years after Earth’s demise, the ruling Collective, and the self-proclaimed Church of Everlasting Life play a major role in the control of space. The Collective control the rights to the rare radioactive element known as Meridian-that will bestow immortality on those who can afford the price. The Church is in the business of exterminating the genetically modified beings-considering them abominations and a sin against God. These two ruling factions are currently at war with one another and will destroy anyone that gets in their way.

Told from third person point of view TEMPORAL SHIFT finds the crew of the Blood Hunter on the other side of a black hole. Hoping to locate the planet from which the element ‘Meridian’ originated, the crew will travel to an unknown planet where they will meet beings similar to what Callum Meridian (leader of the universe) and the Collective have become. What they did not expect to find is a humanoid female who claims Devlin is her lover and asks the impossible from the ship and her crew. Saffira Lourdes has been chosen as ‘the one’ to save her species and possibly that of old Earth but to do so, Saffira must travel back in time before Earth’s demise.

The relationship between Saffira and Devlin is fraught with anger, betrayal and mistrust. Saffira continues to lie to the crew of the Blood Hunter, about what it is she must do. Saffira has seen the future and the future claims that Devlin is her mate. Devlin wants nothing to do with Saffira, especially after she has placed the crew in danger time and again, but Devlin’s body wants something more.

The world building continues as the Blood Hunter space ship shuttles between black holes, unknown planets, wormholes and deep space. The secondary characters include the crew of the Blood Hunter, most of the previous storyline couples: Tannis and Meridian: Rico and Skylar; as well as Captain William ‘Thorne’ Thornton-a man who has vowed to protect Saffira with his life. The time line covers thousands of years through the black holes and wormholes, yet only days to months will have passed in current time. Saffira will travel back hundreds of years only to come face to face with the man that she will love over fifteen hundred years later.

Nina Croft’s DARK DESIRES (Blood Hunter) series is an addicting and remarkable journey into the unknown travelling through time and space; through black holes and into alternate universes. There are moments of passion, seduction, romance and pain coupled with the intensity of a crew whose lives are constantly in danger but will never leave a crew member stranded or alone. Nina Croft will captivate your senses, your imagination and your need for romance and the paranormal.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy

Series Spotlight Black and Yellow

(Blood Hunter/Dark Desires #1)
by Nina Croft
Genre: adult, sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, romance

ABOUT THE BOOK: Re release September 30, 2014

Click HERE for our review of BREAK OUT

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Break OutThe year is 3048, Earth is no longer habitable, and man has fled to the stars where they’ve discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian. Unfortunately, the radioactive mineral is exorbitantly expensive and only available to a select few. A new class comprised of the super rich and immortal soon evolves. The Collective, as they’re called, rule the universe.

Two-thousand-year-old Ricardo Sanchez, vampire and rogue pilot of the space cruiser, El Cazador, can’t resist two things: gorgeous women and impossible jobs. When beautiful Skylar Rossaria approaches him to break a prisoner out of the Collective’s maximum security prison on Trakis One, Rico jumps at the chance. Being hunted by the Collective has never been so dangerous—or so fun.


(Blood Hunter/Dark Desires #2)
by Nina Croft
Genre: adult, sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, romance

ABOUT THE BOOK: Re-release November 1, 2014

Click HERE for our review of DEADLY PURSUIT

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Deadly PursuitHe craves his own freedom.

Jonathon Decker knows how to keep his enemies close—and his allies closer. But what about his women? Everyone wants a piece of the world’s sexiest werewolf, now that he’s been broken out of prison. Enter Alexia, the High Priestess of the Church of Everlasting life. Captivating and independent, Alexia is everything Jon could want in a woman. But can she be trusted? It will take more than one night of endless passion to find out…

And she is his to possess…

After twenty-four years of faithfully playing by the rules, Alex is finally ready take fate into her own hands. Her passion for Jon is a force to be reckoned with—and the way he makes her feel keeps her coming back for more. But their desire could lead them both down a dark path—one in which there’s no turning back. How much will each of them risk to be together…for all time?


( Blood Hunter/Dark Desires #3)
by Nina Croft
Genre: adult, sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, romance

ABOUT THE BOOK: Re-release November 25, 2014

Click HERE for our review of DEATH DEFYING

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk/ Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository

Death DefyingPart snake, part human, and—some would say all bitch—Captain Tannis of the starship El Cazador has one goal in life—to earn enough credits to pay for the Meridian treatment to achieve the immortality she craves. And one last job will get her there. The assignment: protecting the most powerful man in the Universe.

Being leader of the known universe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it sucks big time. And after five hundred years, Callum Meridian, founding member of the Collective, is bored out of his mind. But as things are changing, he’s changing—into what, though, he isn’t sure. Callum is determined to discover the truth, and he’s employed the crew of El Cazador to help him do it.

Not everyone agrees with his plan, though. His own people will stop at nothing to prevent the truth coming out, the Church is taking advantage of the confusion and attempting a coup, and even the crew of El Cazador seem close to tossing him out the airlock without a space suit. But defying death has never been more dangerous, sexier, or more fun.

Interview yellow:black

TRC: Hi Nina and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of TEMPORAL SHIFT, the latest instalment in your DARK DESIRES (Blood Hunter) series.

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

Follow: Goodreads / Website Facebook / Twitter

Nicola CleasbyNina: I originally come from the north of England – a spectacularly beautiful area known as the Lake District. But from the age of eighteen I found myself drifting south in search of the sun. After living in a lot of different places and travelling extensively, I’ve now settled in the mountains of southern Spain on an almond farm with my husband and a whole load of animals. Here I spend my time soaking up the sun, drinking wine, writing romance and travelling vicariously through my characters.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Nina: Growing up, I had three older sisters, whose books I would pinch, and they all had very different tastes in literature. And then there was my mother, who would devour vast amounts of Mills and Boons romances. So I ended up reading just about everything. Romance, fantasy, sci-fi, historical. And—because I’m a strong believer that you should write the sort of things you love to read—I’ve ended up writing just about everything as well. I love mixing up genres.

TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax?

Nina: Reading. Swimming in the summer. Also, I have a horse and ride most days, and three dogs, so I walk a lot. I like to drink wine and I live in a very beautiful part of the world so I spend a lot of time lying under fig trees with a book and a bottle, admiring the view.

Temporal ShiftTRC: TEMPORAL SHIFT is the November 2014 release (and book four) in your DARK DESIRES (Blood Hunter) series. Would you please tell us something about the premise of the series? And the latest book?

Nina: The series follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of the crew of the space ship, the Blood Hunter.

The year is 3048, Earth is no longer habitable, and man has fled to the stars where they’ve discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian. Unfortunately, Meridian is exorbitantly expensive and only available to a select few. A new class comprised of the super-rich and immortal soon evolved. The Collective, as they’re called, rule the universe.

But as with any civilization, there are some people who just don’t want to be ruled. And that’s definitely the case with the crew of the Blood Hunter. A motley bunch of space pirates, the crew includes a vampire, a werewolf, genetically modified beings, and really anything else I can come up with.

Dark Desires is the series where I allow myself to do anything and go anywhere—my imagination is the only limit and that’s certainly the case with Book 4, Temporal Shift. Temporal Shift contains just about my favourite sci-fi trope—time travel—and tells the story of Devlin and Saffira and a love that survives the vast distances of time and space. Time travel is complicated…it’s fair to say that my head nearly exploded numerous times while plotting the book—I sort of hope it has the same effect on my readers.

TRC: Is there a reason the series name has been changed? Different sites show different series names e.g. DARK DESIRES or BLOOD HUNTER.

Nina: It was purely a decision of St. Martin’s Press, the publishers who recently re-released the books in mass market paperback format. They made some very pretty new covers and felt that the series needed a title that more strongly suggested romance.

Dark Desires Series

TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading characters of the series, which models or actors would be represent your ideal image?

Nina: Hmm – I always find this really hard, but I think a red-headed Scarlett Johansson for Saffira and maybe Hugh Jackman (think wolverine…) as Devlin.

TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series?

Nina: There are six books planned for the series. Book five, Blood and Metal, is written, book six, Flying Through Fire, I’m struggling with right now. Maybe I just don’t want to bring it all to an end.

TRC: Who or what was the influence behind the premise of the Dark Desires series?

Nina: I’d finished watching Firefly (maybe my favourite TV series ever) for the third time and I really wanted to write a space opera. But then I started thinking about my characters and Rico my pilot suddenly morphed into a vampire. And I thought why not? If people escaped the destruction of Earth, why wouldn’t vampires (and maybe a whole load of other things as well?)

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

Nina: This is actually one of the easiest series to write because I literally make it all up. That’s the fun of writing speculative fiction. I can write anything I want as long as I can make people suspend disbelief just long enough to enjoy the books.

Actually though, for Temporal Shift, I did quite a lot of research on time travel and black holes and quantum mechanics (did I mention my head exploding?)

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

Nina: I think the important thing is to foreshadow, very subtly, throughout the story. So when something pretty wild happens (which it does quite often in this series) it’s been set up and instead of people saying – no way! They’ll say – hmm, of course.
That’s the theory anyway.

TRC: What are your thoughts on writing a series and ending an instalment with a major cliff hanger?

Nina: I think there are situations where cliff-hangers work, though personally I find them really aggravating when I’m reading, especially if the next book in the series isn’t out yet! But I write romance, so while there’s an overlying series storyline, each individual book is complete and standalone, following the romance of one couple and coming to a happy-ever-after ending.

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

Nina: I’m a total plotter, so I tend to spend a lot of time getting to know my characters before I start to write. While I’m plotting, I’ll allow them some leeway and we’ll go off at tangents and do unexpected things, but that’s fun and necessary. I’ll only start to write the actual story once I understand them; their goals and fears and motivations. And at that point they’d better not try and do something that’s out of character.

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?

Nina: I think they need to make the reader care about their characters. They don’t necessarily have to like them (and I’m very fond of a lot of characters who aren’t particularly nice) but they have to care. I think one of the strongest ways to get people to care is to make the character want something…desperately. Give them a good reason for wanting it and then make it obvious that they’re not going to get it. So probably, where writers fail, is that their characters don’t care enough—so why should the reader?

TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?

Nina: I tend to try and just push through it. I do my best writing, and I’m happiest, when I give myself a daily word count (right now 3000 words per day) and stick to it, even if I’m convinced what I’m writing is rubbish. I think accepting that the first draft you write is not going to be perfect can be very liberating.

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

Nina: My poor husband gets to listen to a lot of my plot problems. So does my horse. Neither are particularly good at solving them. But I’m in a couple of fabulous online writing groups and I can go there if I get really stuck on anything or just want some brainstorming help.

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

Nina: Write lots, and be healthy and happy.

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

Nina: I have a three legged Vietnamese pot-bellied house pig, called Piggles.

The Telepath ChroniclesTRC: On what are you currently working?

Nina: I recently wrote a short story, No More Lies, for a sci-fi anthology, The Telepath Chronicles (which released this month!) I so enjoyed the world and it had so much potential, that I’m basing a series on it and am currently writing book 1. I don’t have a title yet (hopefully it will come to me) but it’s sort of contemporary/sci-fi/romance about a rogue covert operations group of telepaths and their search to discover their origins (and it’s going to contain all my favourite sci-fi themes!)

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Nina: Just that I’ve had great fun writing the Dark Desires series and hope people have as much fun reading the books.


Favorite Food - Cheese

Favorite Dessert - Ice cream

Favorite TV Show At the moment – Sons of Anarchy or maybe the Walking Dead

Last Movie You Saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes I enjoyed it!

Favorite Musical Group - Maroon 5

Dark or Milk Chocolate - Both

Secret Celebrity Crush - Charlie Hunnan – actually it’s not that secret.

Last Vacation Destination - I visited my sister in Cambridge last year.

Pet Peeve - Injustice

TRC: Thank you Nina for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulation on the new release and we wish you all the best.