Hot and Bothered (Hot in the Kitchen #3) by Kate Meader-Review, Promotion and Giveaway

Hot and Bothered (Hot in the Kitchen #3) by Kate Meader-Review, Promotion and Giveaway

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Hot and Bothered
Hot in the Kitchen #3
by Kate Meader
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic romance

Paper copy Release Date: January 27, 2015
Hot and Bothered

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

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Although her baby boy keeps her plate full, Jules Kilroy is ready to take her love life off the back burner. Despite a bevy of eligible bachelors, it’s her best friend, Taddeo DeLuca, who’s fueling her hormones with generous servings of his mouth-watering Italian sexiness. But Jules learned her lesson once before when she went in for a kiss, only to have Tad reject her. She’s vowed never to blur the lines again . . .

After a lifetime of excuses and false starts, Tad has finally opened a wine bar, a deal made even sweeter when Jules joins his staff. Lovers come and go, and he’s had his share, but friendships like theirs last forever. Still, ever since he tasted her luscious lips, he can’t stop fantasizing about what could be. Then she signs up for an online dating site—and the thought of his Jules with another man makes Tad’s blood boil. Even if he gets burned, Tad can’t stop himself from turning up the heat this time.

••••••••••••••

REVIEW: HOT AND BOTHERED is the third installment in Kate Meader’s contemporary, adult Hot in the Kitchen erotic romance series focusing on the DeLuca/Kilroy family. This is Taddeo DeLuca and Jules Kilroy’s storyline –a friends to lovers scenario. HOT AND BOTHERED advances the series approximately eighteen months to two years. Although HOT AND BOTHERED is the third book in the series, it can be read as a stand alone without too much difficulty. Any important information from the previous storylines is added where necessary.

The premise follows single mother Jules Kilroy and her friendship with Taddeo DeLuca. It has been eighteen months since she gave birth to her son Evan and she has decided it is time to get back out into the world of dating-her only problem-she is in love with her best friend Tad DeLuca-a man with a reputation for the ladies. As Jules’s sisters in law help with her foray into the online dating websites, Tad finds himself becoming over protective and a little more than jealous when his best friend begins to see other men.

Tad is a man who wants to prove himself worthy of his family and friends but a heartbreaking loss ten years earlier finds Tad wallowing in guilt, self doubt and any excuse not to get close to the woman that he loves. Words will be said in anger and Tad’s relationship with Jules will die a slow death-one heartbeat at a time. Their pasts continue to haunt their present and in this the emotional pull of helplessness, guilt and moving on is always a reminder of what was and what could have been.

The secondary and supporting characters include all of the previous storyline couples as well as everyone at DeLuca’s restaurant, family and friends. Because the storyline advances the series eighteen to twenty four months, we are given another look at Jack and Lili’s relationship as well as Shane and Cara-their struggles and expanding families. Kate Meader’s world of Hot in the Kitchen takes the reader behind the scenes at a family run restaurant-the people, their lives and their loves.

HOT AND BOTHERED is an emotional read; a sexy storyline about two people who continue to ignore the elephant in the room-they are in love with one another but heartbreak and the fear of the unknown is holding them back.

Reading Order and Reviews
Feel The Heat
All Fired Up
Hot and Bothered

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy

excerpt

 

 

“I’ll walk you up,” he said, slipping his jacket on so it was clear to both of them he would be on his way as soon as his chivalrous duty had been performed. Because people put on jackets to, you know, go outside.
“You don’t—”
“I do.” He tucked his hand under her elbow, the touch electrifying his every cell once more. He didn’t let go of her arm as he guided her up to the second flight.
He took the key and opened her door. No problems with the door knob.
“I’ve got it from here,” she said, still avoiding his eyes. Good girl, look away. If she had any sense of self-preservation, she would close the door and send him packing because he was this close to pushing her against the wall and banging her boneless.
“How did your date go tonight?”
Fuck. The self-preservation thing goes both ways, bischero.
There was that flare of anger again. He wished she’d come right out and say what she was mad about.
“I didn’t know Cara was going to bring Darian.”
“So, a pleasant surprise. A doctor.” Merda, that came out sarcastic, which, to be honest, he meant it to be. Judging by the freeze-his-nuts stare she aimed his way, she took it in that same spirit.
“Think I don’t have it in me to date someone smart like that?”
“Don’t use that card, Jules. You have it in you to get anyone you want. I just don’t think that guy’s right for you.”
“Why?”
Because he’s not me.
None of those idiots understood the first thing about her. Tad did, though. He knew that sometimes she felt dumb because the words on the page refused to cooperate for her. He knew that she had spent her childhood wishing that someone, anyone would see her. He knew she had fought like a tigress to get here so she could provide the best life possible for Evan.
Tad had been there from the beginning, shoulder at the ready for her tears, hand outstretched so she could crush it while delivering Evan. Fancy diplomas, fat bank balances, a McMansion in Schaumburg—none of these things qualified them for shit where this woman was concerned.
“He’s just looking for a housewife to support him and pump out his kids while he does his important job.”
“Wow, you got all this from watching me flirt with him?”
He could feel his teeth mashed together like a trash compactor and he spat out the next words with trouble. “Conor’s no good for you either, so you can forget about that.”
“What’s his problem, then? He owns his own bar, saves people from burning buildings… Oh, is that it?” She kicked off her shoes, an angry smirk crinkling the corner of her mouth as one of the heels hit the leg of her coffee table with a satisfying thud. “You don’t think guys who save lives are good enough for me. You’re not exactly saving any lives when you pair that silky Pinot with the aged manchego.”
As insults go, it was pretty tame, but the sharpness in his chest registered the unintended blow. Saving lives was the last thing he was qualified for.
“I’m just trying to look out for you, Jules.”
“That’s a neat trick. You move your lips and Jack’s words come out. I’ve already told you I don’t need another brother.”
She might not need a brother but she needed a protector. Someone who could be with her through the tough times, who understood the meaning of sacrifice and family. Someone not like him.
But he could be her friend. “What happened to get you so upset tonight?”
Her brows drew together over eyes sparking with determination. “I realized I have to take what I need and fight for what’s mine.”
Whoa, if he wasn’t turned on before, he sure as hell was now. Mine. He loved how that sounded on her lips, even though he had no idea what she was yammering on about. She was grabbing something by the balls—her destiny, perhaps, and he was man enough to say, she had him by the balls as well.
The smoky lines around eyes dark with emotion hit him like a shot of moonshine. Every hair, and more, stood to attention at the sight of her Cabernet-red lips in that beautiful bow shape that would look so perfect trailing scorching kisses across his chest and beyond. Warmth washed through his veins. The edge of desire rose up to meet him and he embraced it fully.
He was only human.
She padded toward him, showcasing the sultry sway of her hips even without the sparkly fuck-me heels. Her eyes turned to shadowy emeralds like the pupils had swallowed the usual sea-green brightness. He recognized that look. He had seen it the other night in the wake of his kiss. Except for one difference: Juliet Kilroy, his friend, hot MILF, was now seducing him.
She brushed by him and closed her fist over the doorknob. Looked like her difficulties with the open/close thing were a thing of the past. Drawing the door ajar a few inches, she speared him with a look that might have flattened a lesser man.
“I’m giving you a choice. You can walk out this door and pretend there isn’t something happening between us or you can stay and give me what I need.”
His cock thickened and grew achy. “What do you need, Jules?”
“You. Inside me. All night.”
Oh, sweet Jesus.
He held her green tilty gaze, aiming to infuse his next words with cut-the-bull clarity. “I’m not like the others, those men you’ve been dating, the ones who slobbered all over you tonight. I’m not boyfriend material.”
“That’s not what you offered, though, was it?”
Leaning past her shoulder, he pressed the door shut, the snick short and final.
Inevitable.
“That’s not what I offered.”


 

 

Interview-RED

TRC: Hi Kate and welcome to The Reading Café. We would like to start with some background information.

Kate MeaderWould you please tell us something about yourself?

Kate: Well, I’m originally from Ireland and I’ve lived in Chicago for over twenty years. I have degrees in law, history, and library science, and I write about hot alpha men and the women who can match them quip for quip.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Kate: I’m huge fan of romance with humor, so when younger, I loved sexy, sprawling comedic romances and women’s fiction from Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper. These days, major influences are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jill Shalvis, Rachel Gibson, and Jenny Crusie.

Hot and BotheredTRC: HOT AND BOTHERED is the latest release in your Hot in the Kitchen contemporary, romance series. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Kate: The series follows the lives and loves of the DeLucas, an Italian-American restaurant owning family and the sizzling chefs who love them. HOT AND BOTHERED is a friends to lovers story that gets its kick start when my heroine, Jules decides she’s ready to take her love life off the back burner and start dating. And that gets my hero, Tad, all riled up because he’s been crazy about her forever. So he embarks on a plan to keep her
close by having her use her culinary skills in his wine bar kitchen, by sabotaging any date she’s on, and by offering her an alternative—a sexy fling to scratch her itch.

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

Kate: There are three books planned in the Hot in the Kitchen series—FEEL THE HEAT, ALL FIRED UP, and HOT AND BOTHERED. All are written and now available in both print and ebook.

Hot in the Kitchen series

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

Kate: None, really! I mean, it’s food after all. I watched a lot of cooking shows and online videos to get the behind-the-scenes of working in a professional kitchen. I also cooked a lot of the recipes used in the books.

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

Kate: Characters first, always.

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

Kate: It all comes down to writing characters that people can identify with, whether it’s a princess or a single mom down on her luck. As long as that character is acting in situations that make sense to that character—and us—the reader will want to get on board that train. Usually, I find writers fail if they establish a character and then have them make decisions that make no sense. Not necessarily a dumb decision, but one that’s not in keeping with the traits of that person.

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

Kate: A lot of people don’t know I have a masters degree in medieval history. I studied medieval nuns and holy women who used their connection to God to find new paths to empowerment in their community. Medieval nuns were probably the first feminists!

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Flirting with FireKate: I’m working on a new series called Hot in Chicago about a family of firefighting foster siblings and their blazing hot love interests. The first full-length book, FLIRTING WITH FIRE, comes out in March 2015.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Kate: Just thanks for having me!

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

About The Author

FOLLOW: Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Facebook

Kate MeaderKate writes contemporary romance that serves up delicious food, to-die-for heroes, and heroines with a dash of sass. FEEL THE HEAT, the first in her Hot in the Kitchen series from Forever/Grand Central is now available, with Book 2 in the series, ALL FIRED UP, following in November 2013.

Originally from Ireland, she cut her romance reader teeth on Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Mills and Boons thrown in for variety. Her stories are set in her adopted home town of Chicago, a city made for food, romance, and laughter – and where she met her own sexy hero.

 

giveaway

There are TWO (2) ways to WIN

Giveaway #1

The publisher is offering the complete set of Hot in the Kitchen books-Feel The Heat, All Fired Up and Hot and Bothered by Kate Meader.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2

To celebrate the paper back release Kate’s publisher is graciously offering a paper copy of HOT AND BOTHERED to one (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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

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

3. Please LIKE us on FACEBOOK and click GET NOTIFICATIONS

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

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

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

7. Follow Kate Meader on Facebook.

8. Giveaway is open to USA and Canada only

9. Giveaway runs from January 27-31, 2015

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Blind Faith (Sin Brothers #3) by Rebecca Zanetti-Promotion, Interview and Giveaway

Blind-Faith-Launch-Day-Blitz[6]

Blind Faith (Sin Brothers #3) by Rebecca Zanetti-Promotion,Interview and Giveaway

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Blind Faith
Sin Brothers #3
by Rebecca Zanetti
Genre: adult, contemporary, suspense, paranormal
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Paper back release : January 27, 2015

Blind Faith

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date May 6, 2014

A betrayal he couldn’t forget . . .

For Nate Dean, love is a four-letter word. As part of a secret black-ops military unit, he and his brothers were genetically engineered by the government to be ruthless soldiers with an expiration date. They were loyal only to one another . . . until Nate laid eyes on the woman who stole his heart and blew his world apart. Now, years later, his family is still paying the price for his mistake. But as time runs out, there’s only one person who can save his family: the very woman Nate swore he’d never trust again.

A love she couldn’t deny . . .

The moment Audrey Madison spies Nate across a crowded ballroom, she can barely breathe. He’s just as undeniably sexy as she remembers, yet there’s an edge to him now that’s as irresistible as it is dangerous. When he asks for her help, Audrey can’t refuse. But she has secrets of her own-secrets that, if Nate ever discovers them, may cost them both their lives .

••••••••••••••••

REVIEW: BLIND FAITH is the third instalment in Rebecca Zanetti’s contemporary, adult, action suspense, slightly paranormal Sin Brothers Series focusing on Mattie, Shane, Nate and Jory Dean- four genetically engineered brothers who were created to become the perfect super soldier. This is Nate Dean and Audrey Madison’s story. Audrey is the ‘daughter’ of the doctor who, along with the commander, has helped create the ultimate warrior of destruction. The commander is still determined to bring the brothers back into the fold but there are only a couple weeks remaining on the brothers’s expiration date.

As the series continues, it is Nate’s turn to hunt down the people responsible for their creation but someone from Nate’s past has popped up on their radar and Nate needs information and answers to many questions. Audrey is the only woman whom he has ever loved and she is the daughter of the woman who is directly responsible for his brothers’s impending demise. It has been close to five years since Audrey and Nate last had contact and many things have changed in the ensuing time. Not only have they both lost someone they have loved but they will be pulled together by a secret neither one ever knew.

The relationship between Audrey and Nate is sexual, sensual and has lost none of the powerful attraction since they last met. Nate is determined to keep Audrey in his life but Audrey has other plans-she is determined to take down the commander on her own.

All of the previous storyline characters play a secondary role including Mattie and Shane Dean. The world building continues as the brothers hunt for the code to deactivate their death sentence but the people responsible continue to elude capture or meet their end. The search for the youngest Dean brother continues with a glimmer of hope that Jory may still be alive and in this, the brothers’s storyline will continue, at least, for one more chapter.

BLIND FAITH is a fast paced story of action, suspense and drama. Rebecca Zanetti has written a compelling and intriguing series about four brothers brought together by DNA, power and abuse and, circumstance. It is their continuing search for the code that pulls the brothers together. These are their stories of love and loss; betrayal and heartbreak; family and connections.

Reading Order
1. Forgotten Sins
2. Sweet Revenge
3. Blind Faith (May 2014)
4. Total Surrender (March 2015)

Copy supplied by Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy

excerpt

 

 

“Let’s dance.” He turned her toward the dance floor.
She balked. “No.” God. She couldn’t dance with him, couldn’t be touched by him.
“Yes.” His hold slid down to the back of her elbow, and he ushered her toward where the orchestra was playing “I Will Wait for You” by Michel Legrand. The warmth in Nate’s touch flared her nerves to life in an erotic need she’d worked hard to overcome.
“Nate—”
“Shhh.” He tightened his hold and drew her into an impressive erection.
She gasped, her face heating, her sex convulsing. Blinking, she glanced up in confusion to see if he was as affected as she was and stilled at the look in his eyes.
Furious. The man was truly furious. Even with the contacts masking his eyes, his anger shone bright.
She tried to step back and didn’t move. Yeah, she knew she’d hurt him when she’d ended their relationship, but after nearly five years, he shouldn’t still be so mad. He’d had freedom for five years, which was a hell of a lot better than she’d had. She’d had pain and fear and uncertainty. She blinked. “What is wrong with you?”
His impossibly hard jaw somehow hardened even more. “Oh, we’ll discuss that shortly.” Threat lived strongly in the calm words. “For now, we’re going to finish this dance. Then you’ll take the north exit and meet me in my car so we can talk.”
“If I don’t?” she asked quietly, wings fluttering through her abdomen.
His hold tightened imperceptibly. “I know where you live, I know your daily routine in working for Senator Nash, and I know where you go when you need time alone. You can’t hide, you can’t outrun me—and you know it.”
The hairs on the back of her neck rose. “How long have you been watching me?” More importantly, why hadn’t she noticed?
“A week. Long enough to know the two apes toward the doorway are following you, too. What’s up with that?” His hold tightened just enough to show his strength.
She shrugged. “They haven’t made a move, so I’m not worrying about it.” Not true, and by the narrowing of Nate’s eyes, he could still smell a lie a mile away. “The commander is having me followed.”
Nate’s jaw clenched. “Why?”
“Dunno.” They didn’t have time to discuss it. “You should go now.”
“No.” He spun her, easily controlling their movements.
Her leg hitched, and she stumbled against him.
He frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” None of his damn business, that was. “What do you want to talk about?”
His gaze narrowed, and he spun her again. She tripped again. Her damn leg didn’t move that way. She glanced toward the doorway and the two soldiers watching her. They’d straightened to alert stances. Damn it.
“What’s wrong with your leg?” Nate asked, brows furrowing.
Oh, they were so not going into her injuries on the dance floor. “You almost sound like you care.” She threw his words back at him, gratified when his nostrils flared in irritation.
His gaze probed deep, wandering down her neck. He blinked several times, his chest moving with a harsh intake of breath. “I like your dress,” he rumbled, his voice a low whisper.
With his tight hold, she had no doubt the tops of her breasts were visible. “Nathan, don’t—”
“Don’t what?” His gaze rose to her lips. A light of a different sort filtered through his angry eyes. She knew that look. Her body heated and her thighs softened. His erection jumped against her, and she bit down a groan.
“One kiss, Audrey.”
Her eyes widened to let in more light. “No,” she breathed. One of his hands held hers, the other pressed against her back. Thank goodness. He couldn’t grab her and kiss her, no matter how appealing the thought. “Bad idea.”
“I know.” Nate didn’t need hands. His lips met hers so quickly, she never saw him move.
His mouth covered hers with no hesitancy, no question—as if he had every right to go deep. His tongue was savage and demanding, holding nothing back and accepting no evasion. He tasted of loneliness, anger, and lust. Hard, needy, demanding lust.
The men at the door were watching.
But her body didn’t care—instantly igniting instead of pushing away. Her heart thundered in her ears, and she fell into his heat, uncaring of whether or not he caught her. He wrapped around her, his unyielding body holding her upright. He caressed her with his tongue, and she met him thrust for thrust, fierce pleasure lighting her on fire.
She forgot where they were, who they were, everything but the desperate need he created.
He broke the kiss, blatant male hunger crossing his face. His breath panted out even as he moved them in tune with the music.
She softened against him, allowing him to lead so she didn’t collapse. Her mind whirled, and she shook her head to regain reality. “Nathan, what do you want?” The question emerged as a breathless plea she couldn’t mask.
That quickly, all hints of desire slid from his face. His chin hardened. “Want? I want to know what happened to the child you were carrying five years ago when you ripped out my heart. Where’s my baby, Audrey?”


 
Interview

Rebecca ZanettiTRC:  Hi Rebecca and welcome back to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the paper back release of BLIND FAITH book three in your amazing Sin Brother Series.

Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Rebecca: I’d have to say Nora Roberts. I mean, I loved mysteries and teen paranormals, but the first romance I ever read was a Nora Roberts, and I was hooked for life.

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

Rebecca: It depends on the time of year. In the summer, we go to our lake cabin, and I’ll just kick back with the kids in the sun. In the winter, we go to a mountain cabin and snowmobile…or hang out by the fire with warm drinks. I relax with family and friends every chance I get.

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

Rebecca: Oh my gosh, what a great question! Yes! I would love to go back to school and study either quantum physics or genetics. Or maybe both. I think being able to conduct research and experiments would be tons of fun.

Blind FaithTRC: BLIND FAITH is the May 2014 release in your Sin Brothers series-would you please tell us something about the premise?

Rebecca: The Sin Brothers is a series about a band of half-brothers genetically enhanced in test tubes and raised as soldiers. They learned early on that family is all that matters, and they fought for each other until finally gaining freedom from their creators. Now, all bets are off, they’re heading back to take out the people who created them…while finding love on the way.

Blind Faith begins with the hero having to hunt down the woman who’d broken his heart years ago in order to save his brothers from the kill chips embedded near their spines. He finds her, and while there’s definitely tension, he instantly feels the protectiveness toward her that he had when they were together.

Total Surrender March 15TRC: March 2015 with mark the release of TOTAL SURRENDER –the final book in your Sin Brothers series? Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Rebecca: The premise of Total Surrender is that the three older Dean brothers finally find out what happened to their younger brother, and hopefully they all get reunited. (They totally do). Jory, the smartest brother, is on a quest to destroy the kill chips embedded near their spines, but his damaged, and he’s not sure if he’ll survive. Piper Oliver, the heroine, is determined to help him…yet she has her own agenda, too.

TRC: How do you feel about the series coming to an end?

Rebecca: Well, I was really happy to finally tell Jory’s story, because it was time for that reunion. And, to be honest, I’m working on a spin-off series right now, because I’m not ready to let those Dean Brothers go quite yet.

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

Rebecca: For this storyline and arc, I had to research biology a little bit to deal with the kill chips. I’m not going to lie – I took quite a bit of artistic license. LOL! Plus, I hounded a few doctors for ideas, and that ended up being a lot of fun.

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

Rebecca: If I can surprise myself as I write, I figure I can surprise readers, too.

There are quite a few surprises in both Blind Faith and Total Surrender that I had no clue about until they ended up on the page. Of course, then I have to figure out how the plot works around those surprises, but that challenge makes the whole process more enjoyable.

Sin Brothers

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

Rebecca: Sure. I’ve picked up a book with a cool cover just because of the cover before, haven’t you? There are some amazing covers out there, and I’m always so excited when I first see one of my covers. I love the ones in the Sin Brother series.

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

Rebecca: I’m totally addicted to Trivia Crack right now. I’ll text and harass my sisters if they haven’t played in a while and I’m waiting for them to play.

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

Rebecca: Thanks so much, and I really appreciate being invited here to play today. The interview questions were awesome!

Website: http://rebeccazanetti.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaZanetti.Author.FanPage
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RebeccaZanetti
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4149342.Rebecca_Zanetti

giveaway

There are TWO (2) ways to WIN !!

Giveaway #1:

The PUBLISHER is offering a fantastic Rafflecopter giveaway which includes a grand prize of all three books in the series, plus an ARC of TOTAL SURRENDER, a “Who Shot Jory Dean?” T-shirt and a Blind Faith dog tag:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveway #2: Exclusive to The Reading Cafe

To celebrate the paper back release the PUBLISHER is offering a paper copy of BLIND FAITH to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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

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

3. Please LIKE us on FACEBOOK and click GET NOTIFICATIONS

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

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

6. Please LIKE us on TSU for an additional entry.

7. Follow Rebecca Zanetti on Facebook.

8. Giveaway is open to USA and Canada only

9. Giveaway runs from January 27-30, 2015

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Interview with Mike Thurston-Fitness and Cover Model

Interview with Mike Thurston-Fitness and Cover Model

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

Mike Thurston 2Follow Mike : Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Aurora Athletic

Mike: Born in Leeds, UK. I lived there up until I was 18, then I moved to Newcastle Upon Tyne (Where I currently live) to study Economics and Business Management at University. I graduated, had no real idea what I wanted to do with my life so worked abroad for a summer in Peurto Banus, followed by nightclub work in Newcastle, then became a manager at Hollister. After working over a year in retail I knew it wasn’t for me. I quit my job, pursued a career in fitness, set up my own business with one of my friends and here I am today!

TRC: What were your dreams and aspirations growing up?

Mike: I always wanted to be happy and successful, but I never knew what it was that I would be doing. I always saw myself being my own boss and running a company of some sort.

TRC: What or who was the catalyst that sparked your interest in body building?

Mike: I can’t pin point the exact moment, it was something that kind of just happened. It was as though i had an urge to start going to my school gym, by myself when I was 17, and start experimenting with all the equipment. I loved the pump, results quickly started to show and it became an addiction.

TRC: Was there a clear, defining moment that triggered your desire?

Mike: Not that I’m aware of. Although there was this one guy at my school who had huge arms and I was like, woah I want arms like that.

Mike Thurston 5TRC: What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your body building career?

Photo by Broosk Saib

Mike: You have to make sacrifices. During my years at university going out, socialising and drinking was a big thing. I very much enjoying taking part in these activities, which meant i spent a lot of the time hungover and unable to train. When i started the company in 2013 i made a conscious effort to remove myself from the party scene and surround myself with people who have similar goals and aspirations. Nutrition is also a big challenge. I have no issue when it comes to working out regularly at an intense level. I love it and most likely will always love it. The problem comes when you have to pass on the foods you love to eat. I can still indulge every now and then, but there are definitely days which are tough.

TRC: Of what does your daily work out regimen consist?

Mike: Good question. It’s always different. When you get to advanced levels of training, particularly muscle hypertrophy you need to change the programme up every now and then. I might stick to the same routine where I work different body parts on a different day for a number of weeks, then alter it. It will also depend on whether i’m looking to cut or put on muscle. I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t think the readers will be that interested!

TRC: Have you ever had a work out or photo shoot that went completely wrong?

Mike Thurston Hold ON My HeartMike: When it comes to the workouts i wouldn’t say they go wrong… I’ve had some shitty workouts where at the end of the session I reflect upon it and think, yeah that was a crap workout. They rarely happen much. I’ve had a few shoots where I’ve not got on with the photographer for a number of reasons. Either I don’t like their vibe or they are just completely inappropriate. They tended to be back in the early days when I had no idea what to expect or what was the norm. Now I’m very particular with whom I shoot with.

TRC: Many photo shoots take the model to exotic locations. What has been your favourite location to shoot? Least favourite location (and why)?

Mike: Marrakech was one of the best places. I shot in a number of different locations, hotels, pools, streets, grand buildings etc. Marrakech is just a very cool place in general and the architecture of some of the buildings is amazing. Least favourite has to be in a crappy apartment in Manchester. I didn’t like the vibe one bit. In general if I get on with the photographer and the location is perfect it’s got the recipe to be a great shoot. New experiences stick with me the most.

Mike Thurston 6TRC: Nudity in modeling or acting can be controversial. Some pictures can cross the line between sexuality to pornography. What would you tell young models/actors /body builders just entering the business about nude modeling and photography?

Mike: Do whatever you feel comfortable doing and don’t let anyone make you do something you don’t want to. Some of these photos can end up circling the internet and therefore haunting you for life. Always be cautious with who you shoot with and what gets shot!

TRC: The modeling industry exposes you to many people and sometimes it can be very stressful. At times do you feel alone, surrounded by so many people? What do you do when the stress becomes overwhelming?

Mike: I rarely ever get stressed. I’m a very chilled out guy. I wouldn’t say I was exposed to many people. I let the public see my pictures and that’s pretty much it. I am in control over my private life and what I choose to be public. You do get a lot of messages coming your way, some good, some bad. The downside to this is not having the time to be able to respond to everyone and coming across as being ignorant. I would love to be able to reply to everyone but I simply don’t have the time in the day to do it.

Mike Thurston UntouchableTRC: At times, there has been a stigma surrounding the male model and the romance-cover industry but the popularity of the romance storyline has skyrocketed in the last few years especially with the erotic and sensual cover images. What is your opinion about the recent popularity and the very busy industry of the ‘romance cover model’?

Mike: To be honest I’m not that well educated about the industry of the romance cover model, so I don’t have much to say on that topic! The fact that I’ve been fortunate enough to be on a the cover of a number of bestselling authors books is amazing. So whatever has or is happening in the industry, it gets a big fat thumbs up from me.

TRC: Will you please tell us about how you got started in the modelling business? How were you ‘discovered’?

Mike: It’s all about your own self belief and confidence. I observed other models in the industry and thought to myself, there’s no reason why I can’t do that. I continued to go to the gym, stick to my diet and maintaing living a healthy lifestyle. When you eat, sleep and train good, you look good. A few years ago the selfie hype was none existent. Holiday photos via social media started to get a bit of attention from photographers I was friends with. I started off shooting with them, then the word spread. Higher profile photographers wanted to shoot with me, so I shot with a few of them. As soon as I started building up my instagram that was it, tens of thousands of followers later and everything blew up.

TRC: Do you know the number of novel covers that your image has appeared?

Mike: I do. Some are yet to be announced so I’ll just keep that to myself for now!

TaintTRC: Do you remember the first ‘romance cover’ on which you appeared?

Mike: TAINT by S.L. Jennings.

TRC: Do you have a favorite cover-romance or otherwise? (e.g. body building magazines etc)

Mike: TAINT! haha. I’m a big fan of audiobooks (self help, business, education) but no favourites.

TRC: Would you please tell us what you do to relax?

Mike: Most of the time it involves not moving very much. I spend most of my week moving around, working out, training clients, so it’s nice to take my feet off the ground. I like to surround myself with good people, go out to eat and have a good time. I’ve definitely got the travel bug, especially after visiting so many locations last year, so whenever I get time off I’ll be exploring the world. There’s so much to see and so little time, so I want to make it my mission to see as much of it as possible.

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

Mike:
1. Become world famous and highly respected in my work (my physique, my
coaching and my training)
2. Own a number of successful businesses.
3. Own a gym abroad.

Photo by Broosk Saib

Mike Thurston 3TRC: What is something that few, if anybody, knows about you?

Mike: I eat a hell of a lot more food than most people think. I’m also pretty weird.

TRC: On what on your currently working?

Mike: Lots of different projects. All to be announced soon!

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Mike: Thanks for reading and thank you for all of your support! If you would like to know more about health and fitness and the services that I offer check out :  Aurora Athletic

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food

A high quality burger

Favorite Dessert

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Favorite Movie

In 2014 – Edge of Tomorrow

Favorite TV Show

Of all time – Lost

Last Movie that you Saw

The Drop

Secret Celebrity Crush

Madalina Ghenea

Dark or Milk Chocolate

Milk

Last Book that you Read

50th Law

Pet Peeve

Slow internet, rain, queuing for anything.

TRC: Thank you Mike for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on all of your success. We wish you all the best.

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The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel – Review, Interview & Giveaway

The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel – Review, Interview & Giveaway

 

The Life Intended Banner

 

The LIfe IntendedAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / The Book Depository / BAM

Description:
In this richly told story where Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You, Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she’s planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn’t she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she’s really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband’s hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.

 

Review:

Just…….wow. The Life Intended draws you into something that could so very well have happened to any of us with the very first sentence. The loss that Kate incurs is heart wrenching. She and Patrick truly seemed to have it all, until one fateful morning that would change everything. A morning that she would question for years to come.

As the blurb states, Kate gets engaged and is planning her wedding……Or at least, that’s what she’s supposed to be doing, but something is holding her back. Even though she loves her fiancé, she feels the relationship isn’t where it should be as far as she’s concerned. And, when the dreams start, she’s thrown for such a loop that she begins to question everything. Even her sanity at times. She embarks on new endeavors as she tries to figure out what’s real and what’s not, one thing is for sure….should she settle, or should she try to live the life intended?

The Life Intended is a wonderfully written story with strong and very believable characters. Kate has so many layers that surface as she maneuvers through dealing with the loss of her husband up until she realizes what it is she’s intended to do and what she’s intended to BE. I wish I could tell you more, but it would be a spoiler and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. And, even though the direction of the story is a little predictable at times, the ultimate reveal surprised me. This one is ultimately a story of coming to terms with unfathomable loss in order to (pardon the pun), live the life intended. Even though it takes years for it to happen, Kate ultimately finds her way, and a few surprises along the way that will make your heart smile, after shedding a few tears. This is the first novel I’ve read by Kristin Harmel, but I definitely look forward to reading more. Well done, Kristin Harmel, very well done.

Reviewed by Vickie

Copy provided by Publisher

 

Interview-Gold

Kristin, we at the Reading Café would like to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

face closeup

 

Kristin:  Thanks so much for having me!!

TRC:  Would you please tell us about yourself?

Kristin:   Sure thing. I’m the author of several novels, including The Sweetness of Forgetting and The Life Intended. I have a background in journalism (credits include People magazine and Travel + Leisure magazine), and I’ve been a novelist for about a decade now. I’m a graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism & Communications (Go Gators!), and I live in Orlando, Florida with my husband, Jason.

TRC:   When and how did you first become interested in writing?

Kristin:   I’ve always loved to write; I think I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about 6. That’s the year I wrote my first “chapter book,” which was a set of stapled-together pages detailing how the Bobbsey Twins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobbsey_Twins) came to Ohio to help solve the mystery of my dad’s missing tuxedo.

TRC:   What was your first book ever published? Can you please tell us your reaction when you found out you were being published?

Kristin:   My first novel was called How to Sleep With a Movie Star. Not a how-to guide, I promise! I wrote it in 2003 and sold it in 2004. It came out in February 2006. Actually, funny story: we got the offer for the book, from Amy Einhorn (who was then with Warner Books) on April Fool’s Day 2004, and when my agent called to tell me, I thought she was playing a terrible April Fool’s joke on me. It took me a while to actually realize she was serious; I had been offered a book deal!

TRC:   The Life Intended was released yesterday. Can you tell us how you come up with the idea of this story?

Kristin:   Sure. Usually, I’m a meticulous plotter, who thinks through every detail ahead of time and lays the entire book out on the page – in outline form – over the course of a few months. The Life Intended was the one exception to that. I woke up one morning with the entire plot of the book in my head. I jumped out of bed and started scribbling down my thoughts before they vanished, the way that dreams often do, and in the end, my hand-written notes from a single morning formed the basis of 90 percent of the book! Other elements developed later, and I still had a lot of research to do, but somehow implausibly, this book literally came out of a dream, which is super-weird, because it’s about a character who has very vivid dreams of an alternative life that feels real.

TRC:   Can you please give us a brief description of The Life Intended?

Kristin:   Sure. I’m lousy at describing my own books, so I’m going to tell you what the publisher is saying. They’re much better at this than me!

     “In this richly told story where Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You, Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

     “After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she’s planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn’t she more excited?

     “At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she’s really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband’s hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.”

TRC:   You recently released The Sweetness of Forgetting. Can you please tell us about this novel, for those who may not have read it?

Kristin:   Sure thing. And again, because I’m terrible at summarizing my own books, I’m going to tell you how my publisher describes it:

     “A baker in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, must travel to Paris to uncover a family secret for her dying grandmother—and what she learns may change everything. The Sweetness of Forgetting is the book that made Kristin Harmel an international bestseller.

     “At thirty-six, Hope McKenna-Smith is no stranger to bad news. She lost her mother to cancer, her husband left her for a twenty-two year old, and her bank account is nearly depleted. Her own dreams of becoming a lawyer long gone, she’s running a failing family bakery on Cape Cod and raising a troubled preteen.

     “Now, Hope’s beloved French-born grandmother Mamie, who wowed the Cape with her fabulous pastries for more than fifty years, is drifting away into a haze of Alzheimer’s. But in a rare moment of clarity, Mamie realizes that unless she tells Hope about the past, the secrets she has held on to for so many years will soon be lost forever. Tantalizingly, she reveals mysterious snippets of a tragic history in Paris. And then, arming her with a scrawled list of names, she sends Hope to France to uncover a seventy-year-old mystery.

     “Hope’s emotional journey takes her through the bakeries of Paris and three religious traditions, all guided by Mamie’s fairy tales and the sweet tastes of home. As Hope pieces together her family’s history, she finds horrific Holocaust stories mixed with powerful testimonies of her family’s will to survive in a world gone mad. And to reunite two lovers torn apart by terror, all she’ll need is a dash of courage, and the belief that God exists everywhere, even in cake. . . .”

TRC:   You write heartwarming, life changing, and humorous stories. You have also written a YA novel. Is there any genre you would like to try?

Kristin:   I’d love to write middle grade novels (ages 8-12) one day, maybe once I have kids. I will say that I think those humorous stories you mentioned were sort of part of an earlier phase in my career. When I wrote my first book in 2003, I was 24 years old and chick lit was at its height. Light and funny – like a classic romantic comedy – was the way to go. I think over the last decade or so, I’ve evolved into a different type of writer as I’ve grown up. The Sweetness of Forgetting and The Life Intended are a lot more indicative of where my career is right now –and will be going in the future, I think.

TRC:   What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies?

Kristin:  I love to cook – hence the original recipes in The Sweetness of Forgetting – and I’m a big music fan, so I love going to live shows. Aside from that, I love going to Disney World (only about 15 minutes from my house), traveling (especially to Europe), reading, and hanging out with my friends and family.

TRC:   Can you please tell us your writing process? Do you have a favorite spot or specific time to write?

Kristin:   I write best in the mornings – I usually begin at 8 a.m. – and I currently write in the kitchen nook of the condo where I’ve lived for ten years. I converted it into my office just after moving in. However, my husband and I have just bought a house, and now I’ll have an actual office. I’m not sure how I’ll cope without being attached to the kitchen! (I bake when I need to cure writer’s block.)

TRC:   What are you currently working on?

Kristin:  I’m currently in the final stage of editing my next young adult novel, and I’m working on an outline for a women’s fiction novel that should be out in late 2015. I outline very long; most of my outlines are 20,000 words or more, because I work through all the plot points and try to get everything, including dialogue, down on the page as it comes to me. So once I finish an outline, the actual writing of the book generally goes very quickly. Yep, I’m weird.

TRC:   You have written for People Magazine. Are you still writing for them? What was it like interviewing celebrities, and who was your favorite?

Kristin:   I’ve written for People since 2000, and I still write for them on occasion; my last piece for them was this sweet and sad one from June – http://www.people.com/article/university-of-florida-gators-softball-win-national-title-cancer-teen.But honestly, I’m so busy with writing and promoting my novels that I don’t have a ton of time to pitch People anymore. Also, it turns out that writing three novels and getting married – all in the same year – isn’t the most brilliant way to manage one’s time (a lesson I learned the hard way in 2014!). I do truly love writing for People, though, especially because for the last several years, I have mostly specialized in writing their Heroes Among Us stories (instead of celebrity stories). That said, I would have to say that my favorite celebrity interview was probably Patrick Dempsey. I interviewed him a handful of times, and he was always tremendously kind, warm and genuine. His love for his wife and kids was always very evident, and he just seemed like a truly good person. I also enjoyed speaking with Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck (Who wouldn’t enjoy that, right?); I loved spending time with Andre Benjamin (suuuuuch a cool guy) and I completely geeked out over a brief interview with Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie Bradshaw! Talking to me!), but Patrick Dempsey was definitely my favorite, simply because of his kindness. Okay, and his beautiful eyes.

TRC:  sigh…..I love Patrick Dempsey

TRC:   Would you like to add anything else?

Kristin:  Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me – and to check out The Life Intended. I think at its core, it’s a book about choosing happiness, and the fact that we all have the power and the right to choose happiness in our own lives. I think that’s a particularly perfect message for today – and for the next few weeks – as we make our New Year’s Resolutions. I hope that if you read The Life Intended, you’ll feel inspired to resolve to choose happiness for yourself in 2015 and beyond.

 

LIGHTNING ROUND:

FAVORITE FOOD: Crispy rice with spicy tuna from Katsuya in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Preferably while sitting at the bar sipping a drink concocted by my friend Ryan, the coolest bartender in all of California. I know, that’s awfully specific. And now, my mouth is watering and my heart is breaking a little, because I’m more than 2,000 miles away.

FAVORITE DESSERT: S’mores. It’s not just the taste, but the whole ceremony of making them!

FAVORITE BOOK: Anne Frank’s diary is a longtime favorite. The Great Gatsby might be my favorite novel, although I love most of Hemingway’s work too. Of course on any given day, my current favorite book changes based on what I’m reading at the time.

FAVORITE CHARACTER (NOT YOUR OWN): Bridget Jones is probably a good pick!

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING: I recently started reading Lucinda Riley’s books, and I can’t stop. I just flew through The Orchid House and The Lavender Garden, and I think I’ll read The Midnight Rose next. She’s just such a beautiful storyteller. I’m also midway through Alyson Richman’s The Lost Wife, which is just spellbinding so far. I know it came out a few years ago, but I try not read books that are similar to mine while I’m writing or touring with those books, and The Lost Wife is similar, in some ways, to The Sweetness of Forgetting (my last novel). I’m so glad I’m finally getting to read it.

LAST VACATION SPOT: Europe! I got married in March, and my husband and I took our honeymoon in May to Ireland, Scotland and France. Loved every second of it!

LAST MOVIE YOU SAW: Gone Girl. Amazing. That Gillian Flynn blows me away! It’s no easy feat to adapt your own book for screen, but she did it masterfully.

CAT or DOG: Dog! I grew up with a Dalmatian, and my husband and I will probably buy a new dog this year – maybe a beagle or a corgi – once we’re moved into our new home.

TRC:   Thank you, Kristin for answering our questions. The Reading Café wishes you the best of luck with The Life Intended. We look forward to working with you again.

Kristin:   Thank you! I look forward to working with you again too! Have a happy new year!

You can learn more about Kristin at the following links:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

giveaway

Kristin’s publisher is offering a paper copy of THE LIFE INTENDED to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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

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

3. Please LIKE us on FACEBOOK and click GET NOTIFICATIONS

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

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

6. Please LIKE us on TSU for an additional entry.

7. Please LIKE  Kristin Harmel on FACEBOOK.

8. Giveaway is open to USA & CANADA only

9. Giveaway runs from December 31, 2014 to January 4, 2015

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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

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk/

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! ;)

HAPPY READING! :)

Copy supplied by the author

Reviewed by Rachel T

excerpt

 

Honey Girl excerpt:

Chapter One
Lila

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.

Alexander.

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.

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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

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

SentinelABOUT THE BOOK:

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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.

••••••••••••••••••••••

REVIEW:

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.

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WARRIOR
(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?

••••••••••••••••••

REVIEW:

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

Interview

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.

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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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Description:
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.

 

Review:
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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Description:

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.

 

Review:
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

 

Interview-RED
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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giveaway
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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8. Giveaway runs from December 10 to 15, 2014

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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

 

Interview

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!

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