Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from The Reading Cafe 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from The Reading Cafe

All of us at The Reading Cafe would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful Holiday season.

2016 has been an amazing year at The Reading Cafe and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made our reading and reviewing an adventure.

All the best, however you celebrate.

Enjoy your day!

Barb, Sandy, Vickie, Georgianna, Rachel, Marcie, Carmen, Xtina, Julie B, Erin, and Tricia

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Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year 2016.

2015 was another amazing year for books and reviews with new authors, new series and the welcome hug of familiar authors and story line characters. As we enter into a new year, The Reading Cafe will celebrate our fourth anniversary and we have you to thank. Remember to join us in the month of February for our amazing giveaways and contests.

Happy New Year from all of us at The Reading Cafe. We wish everyone a happy and healthy 2016

Sandy, Barb, Vickie, Georgianna, Rachel, Carmen, Marcie, Xtina, Rachel, Erin, Jules, Julie B, Miranda and Tricia

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas

All of us at The Reading Cafe would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful Holiday season.

2014 has been another successful year at The Reading Cafe and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made our reading and reviewing an adventure.

All the best, however you celebrate.

Enjoy your day!

Barb, Sandy, Vickie, Georgianna, Rachel, Marcie, Carmen, Xtina, Julie B, Jules C, Erin, Miranda and Tricia

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Invisible Secrets by Mary Buckham – Review & Guest Post

Invisible Secrets by Mary Buckham – Review & Guest Post

 

Invisible secretsAmazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Description:
Kelly McAllister has a chance to uncover her true identity but only if she manages to shield a secret that threatens to destroy her IR team. On a new assignment she and sexy shifter Van Noziak are at cross purposes when Kelly becomes the unwitting protector of a teenage Seer that Noziak has been ordered to capture. Now Kelly faces a choice of protecting Van or stopping a powerful predator determined to manipulate a Seer with the ability to destroy the world.

 

Review:

Invisible Secrets by Mary Buckham is the 2nd book in her Kelly McAllister arc, which is part of her Invisible Recruits series. Invisible Recruits is an secret organization of agents who have different kinds of unnatural abilities to help them protect humans against non-humans. Kelly McAllister, who is our heroine, is just coming into her powers. A former teacher, now an IR agent, Kelly has the ability to become invisible. Alex Noziak is her  best friend, and fellow team member of IR. Alex is a witch, and in the first three book of this series, she was the heroine. Alex plays a big part in this book, as do other team members. But this belongs to Kelly, as she is charged with taking care of a 15 year old seer, who is laying in coma.

Van Noziak is our hero, and is Alex’s brother. Kelly and Van have been attracted to each other for awhile, especially when they worked together in Africa, on her last assignment. Knowing that Alex is not happy about the two of them getting together, Kelly tries to keep her distance from Van. Well best laid plans do not always work out..

What follows, without giving any spoilers is an exciting adventure, with a demi god threatening all their lives to get his hands on the young seer. With the impossible tasks for finding the predator, who inhabits other peoples bodies, Kelly and Van find themselves in danger almost from the beginning. But the action gets intense, when the predators brings all his resources to the IR compound and Kelly must find a way to kill him, before he kills all her friends.

I liked the characters within the IR group, and Van, who is a werewolf. I also liked Kelly and Van together. Even though it was an exciting storyline, it was also a fast and light read. Invisible Secrets does end with a cliffhanger, which will lead to more for Alex and Kelly to continue this case.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Author

 

Guest Post-White and Aqua

How I came up with the idea of the Invisible Recruit series

The basis of the Invisible Recruit series was born out of the time we currently live in that’s subtlety yet radically different than the world of our mothers and grandmothers. These stories are about ordinary women who are suddenly called upon to do extraordinary things.

            Women have traditionally made sacrifices. That’s not new. It’s universal and consistent throughout history. Often the sacrifices have been hard ones, made for others. They’ve made choices for their spouses, their children, their loved ones, but their actions have largely invisible to the larger world.

            It’s a different world today. Women are still willing to make hard choices and sacrifices but they have a desire to be seen, to be acknowledged, not in a selfish way but in a way that lets others know that what they are doing matters, that they are making a difference by what they are willing to do and to sacrifice, and those choices are acknowledged and, hopefully, valued.

These stories are about understanding what’s truly heroic because most women’s actions have been quietly done, in the shadows, undervalued.

            Today’s women are no longer accepting that they must remain in the shadows or allow their actions to be left unseen. Today’s women quietly grapple with the idea that their sacrifices no longer need to be assumed as givens.

Today’s women know it’s important that their sacrifices, their choices are seen in the world for the betterment of everyone.

            The Invisible Recruit women are not quiet women. We’re not talking loud as in boisterous or blatant self-aggrandizement. We’re talking about the feeling every woman has felt at some point in her life. The feeling of invisibility—that who and what they are doesn’t matter enough to those around them.

            The IR (Invisible Recruit) women may have started their lives invisible—being seen in their familial roles as daughters, sisters—or their social roles—teacher, beautician, debutante—but never for who and what they really are. Each has hidden gifts that they must learn to tap into and accept as strengths, not flaws—not for their own gain, but for the betterment of the larger world.

            Each of these women is flawed but even those flaws, in the right situations, can be assets. They also learn, like most women do, that those flaws are called flaws by someone else’s definition of what’s appropriate for a woman to do, say, think or act.

The series is about women embracing their talents, stepping out of the shadows and laying their lives on the line for the sake of a larger good. They do this by fighting dangerous preternaturals and villains with paranormal abilities. They also do it by fighting their own inner demons—their doubts, insecurities and fears. We all have them. What we do about them is what makes the Invisible Recruits series, and the readers who love them, stand out.

In the new world of these novels, just as in the new world of today’s women, it’s about becoming visible, learning to step into our abilities, stepping out from the shadows.

 

About The Author
Mary-color-pic-mm
USA Today Bestselling author Mary Buckham credits her years of international travel and curiosity about different cultures that resulted in creating high-concept urban fantasy and romantic suspense stories. Her Urban Fantasy Invisible Recruit series has been touted for the unique voice, high action and rich emotion. A prolific writer, Mary also co-authors the young adult sci-fi/fantasy Red Moon series with NYT bestseller Dianna Love. Mary lives in Washington State with her husband and, when not crafting a new adventure, she travels the country researching settings and teaching other writers. Don’t miss her reference books on the craft of writing. Writing Active Settings and Writing Active Hooks

Her Urban Fantasy series centered around five women drafted to combat preternatural beings agitating for world domination, combines a fantasy/paranormal element with high stakes and the pace of action adventure stories. Mary loves creating thrills, spills and spells as she follows the ups and downs of fascinating characters starting with Alex Noziak, the heroine of INVISIBLE MAGIC, INVISIBLE FATE and INVISIBLE POWER, and Kelly McAllister, the heroine of INVISIBLE FEARS, INVISIBLE SECRETS and INVISIBLE EMBRACE.

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Shifter Wars by A.E. Jones – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Shifter Wars by A.E. Jones – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

 

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Shifter Wars
Mind Sweeper series – Book #3
by A.E. Jones
Release Date.: November 17, 2014

Shifter Wars

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Description:
Why did the demon cross the road? Apparently to escape from Kyle McKinley. Which is more than fine with her.

The last thing she wants is to be dragged into another supernatural crisis, but the Fates have something more interesting in store for her. Since the tricky wenches love to mess with people, Kyle isn’t really surprised. And once she learns Trina, the young shifter girl whose memory she erased, is being stalked again, Kyle will do whatever it takes to protect her.

Normally a secretive group, the shifters reluctantly agree to allow Kyle and her vampire and demon teammates to investigate. Are the poachers who kidnapped Trina back for revenge? But when other shifters are also targeted, Kyle becomes convinced there is more to the attacks than vengeance. And when the violence escalates and Griffin, the enigmatic leader of the shifters, ends up in the crosshairs, the team braces for a bloodbath.

Scrambling to identify the mysterious group bent on destroying the shifters, and why, Kyle is also haunted by dreams and painful flashes from the prophesied Key of Knowledge which has taken up residence in her brain. In typical Kyle fashion, she decides to ignore it, but the more she ignores it, the more it digs its claws into her consciousness. If she can’t learn to embrace the Key and ask for help from those closest to her, she could lose her sanity before she’s able to prevent a shifter civil war.

 

Review:

I am seriously loving the Mind Sweeper series by A.E. Jones. Kyle is a kickass female with a boys name. Lots happened in the last book that I didn’t want to give away, so it makes this review a little tricky.

In Shifter Wars, Kyle has now moved away from her old friends, home and work colleagues. We start with her rescuing a human from Demons, then getting a new job in a casino.

For those who haven’t read the first book, or the novella, a quick recap….
Kyle is a human who has the ability the alter your memories, which comes In handy, she works with shifters, demons and vampires, this group patrols these factions and keeps the humans safe.

The action is kept at a good pace, Kyle moves back to her old world to help a family from the previous book. The shifters are worried that Trisha is being targeted again. So with the help of Jean-Luc and Misha (a demon and a vampire) they set to work finding out who wants the wolf child.

There are new characters, and all of them make this a great read. The atmosphere between her and Nicholas (her old boss) was very tense. Jason (her temporary replacement) bounce well. And the love between her, Misha and Jean-Luc was like brothers and sisters reunited.

And the feelings between Kyle and Griffin (the leader of the werewolves) had me grinning and blushing. Oh and the sub-story (Kyle is now a key) that’s really moving at a great rate.

And the ending ……. Nope, not revealing anything, but I’m already needing the next book.

 

Reviewed by Julie B.

Copy provided by Promoter

 

Guest post-White and Red

How to Create a Shifter Hero

A special thank you to the Reading Café for inviting me here today! I am celebrating the release of my third book in my Mind Sweeper series. This series centers around Kyle, a woman with the ability to erase memories, and her paranormal teammates whose job it is to hide their world from humans when they have seen too much.

In my third book, Shifter Wars, Kyle attempts to stop a shifter civil war. So today, in honor of this new book, I have been asked to write about how to create a shifter hero. Here goes…

Take one shifter male, add sea-green eyes and long brown hair, and make him a bit aloof. Have him be the leader of his pack and let power ooze from his pores. Make him protective of his people and willing to sacrifice himself for them. Roll it all together and let him simmer forty-five minutes and you have the perfect recipe for a shifter hero.

So what do you think? Sounds yummy, right? The shifter hero in this book is named Griffin. I introduced Griffin in book one of the series and had an inkling that he would be seen again. He is the leader of the shifter nation and works to protect his people from poachers – humans who hunt and kill shifters for their pelts. Enter Kyle and her team to help with the escalating attacks.

And it doesn’t end there (of course). Internal pack politics play an increasing role causing discord, which in shifter-speak, means bloodshed.

Why do I think Griffin is such an interesting character (if I do say so myself)? Because even though he is all kinds of sexy, he’s also noble. Throughout the story, he rolls up his sleeves and jumps into the fray. He refuses to let his people do anything that he would not do himself. How can you not love that? Oh and he can turn into a cool animal.

In some respects, the making of a shifter hero is similar to the making of any type of hero. He has to be willing to open himself up to the people around him. And he can’t be perfect. That won’t do at all. Perfect equals boring. And we don’t want to read boring. The discovery for the reader and the hero is in recognizing his flaw (and fears) and moving beyond that to change and grow and ultimately move the story along.

But an added twist to this story is the animal side of the equation. After all, for all of his intellect and self-awareness, Griffin also has a wild side. Something under the surface that he has to control or learn to work in harmony with in order to help his family and people. That’s where the wonder of supernatural comes into play. It gives a boost to the story and takes the reader into another world.

So that is how I create a shifter hero. Confident but flawed, determined but flexible, sexy but humble. Did I mention he can turn into a cool animal? I did? Well, hopefully you get the idea.

 

About the author
ae jones pic 180 x 270

Growing up a TV junkie, award winning author AE Jones oftentimes rewrote endings of episodes in her head when she didn’t like the outcome. She immersed herself in sci-fi and soap operas. But when Buffy hit the little screen she knew her true love was paranormal. Now she spends her nights weaving stories about all variation of supernatural—their angst and their humor. After all life is about both…whether you sport fangs or not.

 

AE lives in Ohio with her eclectic family and friends who in no way resembles any characters in her books. Honest. Now her two cats are another story altogether.

WebsiteTwitter / Facebook

 

 

giveaway

A.E. is graciously offering an e-copy of SHIFTER WARS 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  A.E Jones on FACEBOOK.

7. Giveaway is International

8. Giveaway runs from November 23- 27,  2014

 

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Teach Me by Ella Sheridan – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Teach Me by Ella Sheridan – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

 

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Teach Me E-Book Cover

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Description:

A woman determined to heal…
Shy researcher Jess Kingston spent the last eight weeks recovering from her ex-boyfriend’s brutal attack. Body healed, she’s ready to put her life back together—except her ex isn’t ready to let go. She won’t cower in a corner while Brit tortures her, but she’s powerless to fight back.

A man determined to resist…
Ex-military security specialist Conlan James avoids commitment like the plague. His job, his Harley, and the occasional one-night stand are all he needs, until the day he rescues Jess from a tense situation and realizes he can’t get her off his mind. He can teach her to protect herself, but protecting his heart is another matter.

A madman determined to win…
As the deadly game of cat-and-mouse with Brit heats up, so does the hunger between Con and Jess. Safety might be found in numbers, but in bed, all bets are off—and the wrong move could lead to heartbreak. Or death.

Review:

Wow !!!! Teach Me by Ella Sheridan was full of emotion, drama and smouldering passion.

Jess is a survivor of abuse, by her previous boyfriend who liked his women placid and mouse like (also his nickname for Jess).  And at first jess was too numb (her parents had recently died) to notice his controlling ways. But as she came to terms with her grief, she began to chafe at the restraints Brit (her ex) wasn’t happy and punished her 🙁

We skip forward a few months,and jess is still trying to put her life back together. (Brit was never brought to justice, and disappeared before the police could question him, so it was his word against hers). She gets accosted by the ex, (who swore to her, that she would always be his).  In swoops a tall dark stranger to rescue Jess.

Conlan had been watching a certain brown eyed beauty for a while. And wondered where she had been for the past few months. He would come to the coffee shop each Monday, in the hopes of getting a glimpse of her.  Con rescues Jess and gives her a card for a self defense class, and tells her to be careful.  Conlan won’t become involved with women for more than one night, he has seen what LOVE can do to people, he saw his best friend fall apart after the love of his life left him.

The story moves at a fast pace, Con (his nickname) and Jess fight their feelings for each other. A few scenes almost melted the kindle 😉

A kidnapping near the end had me on the edge of my seat, very intense and a few tears.  The other characters in the book are a great add, Cris her best friend is a riot. Jack (who needs a book) who is also an intense alpha male, had a few funny lines. Brit really was a bad guy, no redeeming qualities at all.

Yes it was a little predictable, but the author did an amazing job, she captured the intense emotions that both Con and Jess were feeling. The scenes were really well described, I could smell the pines in the woods, and my heart raced in time to the high adrenaline that was pushed through the characters veins.

I’m definitely adding this author to my reading list.  Highly recommend this one ladies 😀

Reviewed by Julie B.

Copy provided by Author

 

Guest Post

Five Things I Learned While Writing Teach Me

When I began this book, I’d only written bits and pieces. I had a degree in English Literature, and though I’d read thousands of books by that point in my life, I’d only begun my own stories; I’d never finished one. When I made the choice to leave my teaching position and stay home with my young children, I found there was still something missing, some spark inside me that begged for something more than what I’d done with my life so far.

And so Teach Me was born. And this process, these characters, taught me a whole heck of a lot!

1. Writing is NOT easy.

I’m sure you’ve all heard it: “Someday I’ll write a book!” I think many of us are storytellers; my mother is one. I grew up sitting around the kitchen table listening to her tell stories about our family. But telling a story, even knowing a story (think of legends like Sleepy Hollow or fairy tales like Cinderella), is not the same as putting a solid, cohesive story down on paper. That takes determination and yes, perseverance. A lot of perseverance! And I discovered I had it. 🙂

 2. Real emotion translates to paper emotion.

I have never had a stalker. I’ve never been through physical torture. But I have been afraid, and I’ve been through painful physical ailments. The old adage of writing is “write what you know.” I think authors do. They might never have lived through the exact things their characters are living through, but they’ve experienced the same kind of feelings. They write from the depths of their own emotional experience, and that truth translates powerfully onto the page.

3. Revisions are a necessary evil — and a powerful tool.

In training for my chosen career (teaching English and literature), I was taught to revise. It’s the all-important step before your writing is finished. The lovely flow of fresh writing is replaced with the blood, sweat, and tears of tweaking both the overall story and each individual word — and it is agony! But it makes a story so much better. Teach Me went through FIVE rounds of revisions before I and my editor deemed it “ready.” Every round was hard, but every round was worth it.

4. Sex is an important part of character development in a romance.

We’ve all heard the “bodice ripper” jokes. We hide our sexy book covers inside our favorite e-reader. But the truth is, sex is an important part of life, and it’s an important part of a character’s emotional development in a story. Every sex scene should mean something, either an advance in the relationship, a setback, a revelation, something. Sex for sex’s sake isn’t a relationship-centered story, and in a romance, the relationship is all-important, so the sex should mean something.

5. Trusting your gut is an important part of writing.

 It took five years to get Teach Me right. I went through revision after revision, and something in my gut kept telling me I just wasn’t quite there. When an editor I submitted to came back to me with a critique that basically touched on all the points I was uneasy about, I knew my gut was correct. So I scrapped the manuscript and started from scratch. Same characters, same setting, basically the same premise, but heavy on the suspense and culling out all those newbie things like showing versus telling. I found, through that “final” rough draft that my instincts had guided me well — I now knew these characters, this story, and where I needed to go. I wasn’t flying blind. And the story that came from trusting my gut was far better than anything I could’ve imagined. That book is the one I wanted to release. That book is the one my editor praised and helped me hone to perfection. That book is one I’m proud to hand over to my readers and have them come to love as I have come to love it over the years. I’ve lived with these characters for a long time, but now they are finally ready, and it’s going to be great!

 

About the Author
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Ella grew up in the Deep South, where books provided adventures, friends, and her first taste of romance. Now she writes her own romantic adventures, with plenty of hot alpha men and the women who love and challenge them. With a day job, a husband, two active teenagers, and two not so active cats, Ella is always busy, but getting the voices in her head down on paper is a top priority. 

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

 
giveawayElla  is graciously offering an e-copy  of her first book, DIRTY LITTLE SECRET to 1 (One) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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

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

3. LIKE us on FACEBOOK 

4. LIKE us on Twitter

5. LIKE us on GOODREADS 

6. Like Ella Sheridan on FACEBOOK

7. Giveaway is open Internationally

8. Giveaway runs from October 31 –  November 4, 2014

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The Purest of the Breed by Tracy Tappan – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

The Purest of the Breed by Tracy Tappan – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

 

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The Purest of the Breed
The Community series – Book #2
by Tracy Tappan
Release Date: June 27, 2014

Purest of the Breed 72dpiAmazon

Description:
Plagued by enemies from above and below ground, a group of Vârcolac warriors fight a desperate battle to keep their secret town safe from invasion

A different place to find her dreams…

The night Marissa Bonaventure is saved from vicious kidnappers by special operative, Dev Nichita, her life is changed in ways she never could have imagined. Brought to the safety of an underground “research institute,” she’s offered a hefty sum of money to stay on and work for a year, money that will allow her to fulfill her lifelong dream of owning a restaurant. But the surreal events that unfold in the strange community of Ţărână soon make her wonder if all is what it seems. When the shocking truth about Dev is exposed, Marissa faces an impossible decision. She loves Dev deeply, but committing to a Vârcolac is a forever proposition, and the only way she can be with Dev will require her to throw away her one chance to redeem a miserable past.

The man he wants to be…

The night Dev Nichita rescues Marissa from the claws of the Om Rău demon race, he knows she’s meant to be his mate. Lying to her about his true nature feels wrong, but he needs time to make her fall in love with him before he reveals that he’s a different breed of human being. When that secret finally comes out, their relationship is shattered in ways Dev hadn’t predicted. A 100-year-old betrayal rises up to threaten their future together—devastating every member of his family—and Dev’s own angry withdrawal becomes a nearly insurmountable obstacle. Then the Topside Om Rău enemy threatens a catastrophic breach of the hidden community, and Dev must call upon all his power as he races against the clock to save the most important people in his life.

 

Review:

Good grief !!! I love this series, and hope there is more to come. What an awesome ride. Got totally sucked in from book 1, devoured this one, and now I want more !!!

So……

DEV, our hero, was in the first book, and he was a secondary character in that one, and I hoped he would get a book. Marissa, our heroine, is human and has DNA that will make her compatible to mate and bear children with the Varcolac. The Varcolac are the vampires that live underground; they are more civilized than the Topside Om Rau. Although both races kidnap human females. The Varcolac woo and win their females, the Om Rau don’t.

This book starts off where the last one ended. Dev and his warriors off to rescue those women. The kidnapping of Marissa and 2 other women was a little hard to read, but it brought home how different the three warring factions are. Marissa and her fellow slaves are rescued by Dev and his team. The fight scenes are fast and furious, but had moments where you would chuckle. Especially, the one liners the Varcolac would throw out.

Dev felt an instant attraction to Marissa, but put it down to the smell of unattached dragon females produce. Dragon females are human women with compatible DNA that match both the Varcolac and the Om Rau vampires.

All Marissa ever wanted was to have her own restaurant. And the thought of owning one in Tarana, which is the underground city in which the Varcolac live, and the Om Rau keep trying to break into,was too good to turn down. She liked the idea of maybe spending time with Dev, what she didn’t bank on , was spending FOREVER with him. And that to stay with him, meant giving up her dreams, and being bitten by a vamp!

We have a lot of the original characters from the first book, so it felt more of a continuation of the whole story, rather than a new book. And we also had a few new threads added as well

Both Marissa and Dev have their own issues and hang ups, and they do hamper the couple from getting together. But I liked that they don’t get down and naughty within the first few pages. Dev HAD to work at gaining Marissa’s trust. And when I mean issues I mean ISSUES !!!! (mothers who hate you, and sisters that sabotage your every dream, and wish you dead)

There were the usual bad guys posturing and doing their usual sneers, and a few OMG moments.I do see a few females being taken in the future (hint hint hint at more books)

So to round this up, I totally recommend this series. If you like your alpha males with a bite and growl, then The Purest of the Breed is the book for you. Oh …. When is the next one out ?

Reviewed by Julie B.

Copy provided by Author

 

guest post

The Character Couch

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in the action-packed movie “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” are a husband and wife who don’t know each other are assassins. The movie opens with these two sitting in front of a therapist, squirming with discomfort; we guess this is as much from the possibility of having to bare their souls—something an assassin can’t do—as from the idea of talking about a marriage that has obviously been filled with lies. Either way, it’s going to be entertaining. And, oh, yes, the therapist kicks off the session with a bang.

“How often do you have sex?” he asks.

“I don’t understand the question,” Angelina Jolie returns, dead-pan.

“Is this on a scale of 1 to 10?” Brad puts in.

“So is 1 very little,” Angelina continues, “or is 1 nothing? Because, technically speaking…zero would be nothing.”

So it seems that Bran and Angelina haven’t been having sex for a while.

We can hardly believe it.

The episode is funny, touching, and intriguing, which is exactly the tone of my reader-focused website, The Character Couch (www.charactercouch.com), where fans can suggest their favorite romance couple to be brought into a therapy session. Yes, this is therapy, but these sessions are anything but angst-ridden. They are written in the same spirit as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” drawing us in to be a fly on the wall and peek at something we normally wouldn’t be able to see.

Will there be amusing bantering in these sessions, a sense of firm, quiet resolve, poignancy? Sure. All of it. Every session is different, but always attention-grabbing.

Don’t you find that the best books always stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page, leaving you hungry for more? I know I go crazy waiting for the next novel in a series to come out, and I figured other readers felt the same. So I came up with an idea that would combine my two loves—of doing therapy and writing romance—in a way that would provide innovative, free entertainment for fans. Today, I share about my unique endeavor.

What could we expect to see if you had “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” on The Character Couch?

LOL. Well, I think first you’d see the therapist secretly getting moon-eyed over Brad Pitt! And could we blame her?

Therapist Regan Malloy has been so exciting to create. I’ve already morphed her to fit a multitude of romance sub-genres. She’s been a French ex-pat from a time travel romance, a bespeckled Brit from a contemporary racehorse romance, a saloon mistress in America’s old west, and a wizened crone facing down a couple of vampires.

Regan also brings her own struggles into the session, whether that’s fear or uncertainty, confusion about her clients, or maybe just a verbal blunder of some sort. So, each month, the therapist is as different as her clients.

It’s all about keeping the site dynamic and entertaining!

That does sound like a great deal of fun for readers.

Oh, definitely. I always pose questions at the end of the session, too, because fan involvement adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the experience. Readers get a chance to join the “analysis” and tell me and the participating author what they think. This month for NY Times bestselling author Deborah Cooke’s paranormal romance, SERPENT’S KISS, the debate centers around the impending parenthood of the hero and heroine. Will they be able to handle it? I’m impressed at how thought-provoking and insightful people’s comments have been.

It’s a fantastic time.

It seems that this site also benefits authors.

Without question. The commentary I was just talking about offers an excellent way for authors to increase their social reach; comments are managed through Facebook Plugins which means that the discussion is laterally posted on Facebook, so that the topic matter can be seen by all of a fan’s friends—which means thousands!

The Character Couch is an innovative way for authors to market their books, and they’ve been really creative with their use of it. Many authors run contests, where fans are asked to vote on which couple from one of the author’s romance series they’d like to see go into therapy. Several lucky participants win prizes, and the book with the most votes earns a session on The Couch. This kindles fan enthusiasm even before the session is posted!

The procedure for readers is very user-friendly: people just click on the “Suggest A Book” icon in the side bar of the site and input their choice—anytime!

Readers don’t have to wait for a contest to make a suggestion!

This month author Deborah Cooke is using this session to encourage readers to sign up to be notified of the launch of the final book in her series, FIRESTORM FOREVER. I track numbers through Google Analytics, and the response to these kinds of requests is always really good.

You write the sessions, though, don’t you?

I do. It’s a process that requires a great deal of attention to detail on my part in order to represent absolutely correctly another author’s characters. No pressure, right? Not one word goes onto the site without an author’s full approval (authors can go to the FAQ section on the site for more detail).

And so far, so good! The testimonials page glows with the praise from alumni authors.

This has been one of the most satisfying parts of this endeavor for me; it means I’ve succeeded in honoring their stories, and that feels terrific.

How does a session typically end?

Oh, there isn’t a “typical” with these sessions. That’s another fun part. Every month, it’s a new journey, and you never know at what point you might laugh or get a clench of emotion in your chest. Or where a surprise might pop out at you.

Like the ending to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

During the course of the movie, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have discovered that each other are assassins. With the truth out, there’s hope for their marriage now. They end up in front of the therapist again, recapping, still spouting off to each other, but in a way that makes us chuckle; we know they’re going to be okay. The therapist seems to agree, talking about how marriage takes work, but—

Brad interrupts to say, “Ask us the ‘how many times did you have sex this week?’ question again.”

“John,” Angelina Jolie scolds quietly, while Brad Pitt proudly flashes ten fingers outside of Angelina’s sight lines.

Oh, yes, expect fun surprises!

 

theauthor

Tracy Tappan 300dpi
Tracy is the award-winning author of gritty romance, her books spanning genres across paranormal (The Community series), military suspense (The Wings of Gold series), and Historical (The Baron’s War trilogy). During nearly twenty-five years spent as a military wife, she lived all over the United States and in Europe, enjoying seven years overseas in the diplomatic community, first in Rome then in Madrid, until she settled back in San Diego. Tracy holds a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, and has used this background to create a fan-based website called The Character Couch, where romance’s favorite couples are brought into a fun session with therapist, Regan Malloy. Her debut paranormal novel, THE BLOODLINE WAR, is a Bronze Medal winner for romance of the prestigious Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY). Available on Amazon:

Tracy loves to keep in touch with readers. You can follow her on Twitter at @TracyTappan, Facebook at Tracy Tappan Romance Author (http://on.fb.me/1hs0Z3L), or mosey around her website at www.tracytappan.com and write to her at Tracy@TracyTappan.com.


giveawayTracy is offering an e-copy of the Purest of the Breed to two (2) lucky commenters at The Reading Cafe.

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

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

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

4. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. LIKE Tracy Tappan on FACEBOOK for an additional entry

6. Giveaway is open to USA only.

7. Giveaway runs from July 22  to July 26, 2014

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Dream Huntress by Michelle Sharp – Review & Guest Post

Dream Huntress by Michelle Sharpe – Review & Guest Post

 

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Description:
Detective Jordan Delany has a gift. Through her dreams, she connects with dead victims of violent crimes. Her isolated life as a drug cop is perfect for hiding the freakish visions, until her newest investigation has her posing as a cocktail waitress in a down-and-dirty strip club. When she’s saved from a drunken customer by a handsome stranger, the heated chemistry is exactly why she intends to keep Mr. Arrogant at bay. But learning he’s the new bouncer for the corrupt club she intends to bust just might be the one reason why she can’t.

Tyler McGee suspects a drug ring operating out of the local club is flooding the streets of his hometown with heroin. Determined to get answers, he plays the part of a fallen cop and lands the job of head bouncer. What he discovers is that the club owner isn’t the only deadly obstacle he’s facing. His attraction to an intriguing cocktail waitress with a penchant for danger just might kill him first.

 

Review:

She could deal with the drunks, the hands, and the come-ons. Because at the end of the day, she’d not only bring the Bucks down, she’d enjoy every last minute of watching them crash and burn. And if she happened to come face-to-face with the son of a bitch who’d ordered the kill on their deep-cover cops, all the better.

A woman scorn…no…a woman with a badge and a purpose. Add Tyler, a hot bouncer, to the mix, and suddenly, the job becomes endurable. Dream Huntress by Michelle Sharp explores the world of Jordan, a St. Louis detective working undercover as a strip club waitress to shut down the long arms of a drug cartel. When Ty gets under her skin, however, making himself indispensable, Jordan’s demons go into overdrive setting up roadblocks to deter involvement. Yeah, good luck with that.

The banter was flirtatious and developed rapidly. The key here was in its frequency. Ms. Sharp let the characters dialogue regularly and those exchanges, the unconventional courtship, were always engaging.   The harder Jordan tries to create distance, the faster Ty closes in on those gaps. But never mind that (for now at least). Complications start to mount.

Ty is a disgruntled former cop and the FBI, to whom Jordan currently answers, suspects local enforcement is in thick with the shady dealings at Buck’s Nightclub. Ty is actually infiltrating Buck’s “enterprise” to dismantle from within. Ummm…communication, people – a biiiig heaping spoonful of it! Problem is: Jordan and Ty can’t break cover just because they’re attracted to one another (not to mention Jordan’s sixth sense). It’s a rule you never break. But after one sizzling kiss…

Danger flashed in her mind like a warning sign at a construction site. He could be working for Buck. Or more probable – and more frightening – he could be a good man with the innate ability to scale all her carefully placed walls. Neither option was good.

Different strategies, same goal. At the end of Chapter 6 (or 36%)…we love Ty…Ty rocks our world…but we still don’t know the details of his agenda or motives (what’s up with the ring he carries in his pocket?) We do know he’s one persistent mofo, “the man is a f*cking dog with a bone” and I don’t mean that disrespectfully, lol. His alphaness is a bit overwhelming, but he knows when to rein it in. Jordan’s in over her head at Buck’s and Ty’s radar is going ballistic. If Ty’s being honest, Jordan’s embedded herself under his skin so profoundly, and in no time at all, it’s beyond physical – he won’t settle for less than all of her. A girl could get used to that. But what is she thinking?! Duty calls and Jordan doesn’t have the time to lose herself in Ty. Again: Good luck with that! The steam in this book coupled with the unflappability of Ty culminates in many swoons, my friends.

I really enjoyed this book. My only critique, and it honestly did not bother me, is that the love story seemed to outshine the drug bust. There are action and background stories to layer the book — I just haven’t disclosed them because I’m a spoiler-free type of contributor. 😀 Ms. Sharp developed these characters so thoughtfully; you lose yourself in the romance. Hardly a complaint when she had me completely engrossed in their personal story.

Unlock the secrets Jordan and Ty have been keeping; truths that may be too much to handle. Dream Huntress is the whole package: Danger to keep you in suspense and romance to soothe you during the nightmares. So much to love!

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy provided by Publisher

 

guest post

Variety or Voyeur? By Michelle Sharp

The recent release of Dream Huntress has been a fun and fabulous few weeks. Actually, the most fun is when someone asks, “What’s next?” One friend called, genuinely concerned about whether Ty and Jordan will stay together and have that ultimate happily ever after. She explained that she usually gravitated towards the kind of series where you have the first hot brother and his story. And then in book 2, the story of the next hot brother, or best friend, or Marine buddy, so on and so forth.

It wasn’t the first time I had heard this. But it was the first time I decided there really are two different kinds of “romance series camps.” We’ll call the first camp—Camp Variety. Romance fans who plain old need a little change. They want a new hero and heroine in each book, diverse story arcs, and varied conflict in each book. Nothing wrong with that. It’s the way the romance world has operated for years, pretty darn successfully I might add.

However, I think there is a different camp becoming more and more popular in the romance genre. One comprised of inquisitive (perhaps obsessive) people like me. Camp Voyeur, if you will, infatuated with what happens after that, “Gee, I love you” moment. I mean seriously, you want good old fashioned conflict? When I look at my relationship with my husband, I realize that things didn’t get real until after we moved in together. Merging two lives into one can be explosive. Right?

So why must the fantasy end at I love you?

If I really fall for a character, I want the true grit that comes after all the firsts, too. What happens when an old flame comes back into town? What if one of the characters is wrongly accused of a crime, or hiding a deadly secret? How does the relationship work then? And man, OH, man—there is something to be said for reading a sexy love scene between two characters that know each other’s hot spots and history.

I get that books are supposed to be romance, fantasy—escape. No one wants to read about characters clipping their nails or arguing over the electric bill. But it still doesn’t mean I don’t totally want to be a voyeur while Roarke is washing Eve’s back in J.D. Robb’s In Death Series. (And screw tradition, because if Roarke did nothing more than clip Eve’s fingernails, I guarantee it would be sexy.)

I must, must, must know how Nick and Sam are doing in Marie Force’s Fatal Series. And don’t even get me started on Eva and Gideon. Sylvia Day has me hook, line, and sinker when it comes to those two.

My point is, I like the fantasy of the first kiss, the first time our characters make love, the moment the first “I love you” is spoken. But life happens. There is no greater thrill than exploring it with the characters I love. It’s like coming home to the familiar or visiting with family I haven’t seen in a while.

So to my friend I said, “Don’t worry, life will go on for Jordan and Ty. And because of Jordan’s gift, you can bet it will be a wild and complicated ride.”

I found that to be a perfectly politically correct response. But my friend said, “You’re seriously not going to tell me? You suck.” LOL. (But I know she still loves me.)

How about you? Are you Variety or Voyeur? Maybe we need a little of both camps to really keep the excitement flowing.

 

about the author

Michelle Sharp is a romantic suspense author from the Midwest. Although she has a degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University, she finds weaving tales of danger, deception, and love much preferable to reporting the cold, hard facts. Her goal in life? To team resilient, kick-ass heroines with the sexy alpha’s who love them. As most writers probably are, she is an avid reader. Her husband and kids would call it obsessive—but whatever. Her first choice is usually a story with a thrilling combination of danger and love, but any book with a great voice and intriguing story will keep her turning pages well past any reasonable bed-time.

Her debut novel will be published with Entangled Ignite in June of 2014. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Missouri Romance Writers.

Website: michellesharpbooks.com / Twitter / Facebook: / Goodreads:

 

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