The Endangered Series 1-3 by S.L. Eaves-Reviews and Guest Post

The Endangered Series 1-3 by S.L. Eaves-Reviews and Guest Post

The Endangered Series

Prey Til the EndPREY TILL THE END
Endangered #3
by S.L. Eaves
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Genre: adult, paranormal, vampires, werewolves

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The 3rd installment brings the The Endangered Series to a gripping conclusion that will keep you on the edge of your seat till the last page.

Seven years have passed since Lori exiled herself from her clan. Seven years without bloodshed, without demons, without torture, without premonitions. Seven years of peace and quiet in the civilian life she’s cultivated for herself.
Seven boring years.

Then Vega appears at her doorstep with alarming news: a former member of his clan is responsible for the recent string of homicides across the southwest and the Purebloods are holding her clan responsible. To make matters worse, this traitor is working with an enemy from Lori’s past who is hell bent on revenge.

Now she’s faced with returning to the world she’s tried so hard to escape in order to save the only family she has left. Lori finds unlikely allies in a slayer and a werewolf hybrid, both survivors of S&D Pharma’s experiments. Together they fight to stop the vampire’s killing spree and absolve her clan from the Pureblood’s wrath. That’s if a ghost from her past doesn’t succeed in stopping her first.

•••••••••

REVIEW: Wow !!!! What a great ending to a fantastic trilogy.

Seven years have passed since book 1 & 2 (which I really think you’ll need to read before the last book) seven long boring years, she hasn’t seen or heard from her clan since her self exile. The war seems to be over, casualties on both sides, and the humans are safe (for now)

But they need her help, a member of her old clan has been murdering humans, and her clan is being held to account.

But is it all as it seems ? Are there more questions than answers? And why do her clan want her help now ? And why her ?

The story moves along at the same fast pace as the last two books.

Lori seems a lot more confident now, but still has moments of doubt and self
loathing (things she did in the other two books) . Again the secondary characters are all well written, loved the interaction with the
hybrid werewolf, slayer and Lori. And the face from the past ?!?! Wasn’t expecting that one !! 😮

This book was full of many twists and turns that will keep you guessing as to what
will happen next. It wasn’t too hard to sit and read in one afternoon.

It was a shame to say goodbye to Lori and the world SL Eaves created. Could have happily read another book (or three) 😉

Copy Supplied for review

Reviewed by Julie B

_________________________

The EndangeredTHE ENDANGERED
The Endangered #1
by S.L. Eaves
Release Date: September 4 2014
Genre: adult, paranormal, vampires, werewolves

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Book One of The Endangered Series introduces Lori, a newly turned vampire who’s been pulled into the middle of a war against werewolves who are infecting humans and threatening to take out the last of their kind in the process.

S&D Pharmaceuticals is developing a new vaccine with sinister side effects. A viral outbreak has the humans begging for a cure and Striden, the CEO of S&D, offers a remedy that promises to cure the virus, but is engineered to turn its unsuspecting patients into werewolves.

The werewolves are opposed by an allegiance of vampires who, while initially out for revenge, stumble onto the wolves’ plans for mass infestation. Among the vampires is an ambitious rebel named Catch and his newly turned protégé, Lori. Catch brings this treacherous world to Lori’s doorstep and turns both their worlds upside-down in the process. Secrets are exposed, allegiances are formed, and blood is spilled as they do everything in their power to preserve both their own kind and their food supply.

••••••••••

REVIEW: This book is an extremely interesting and imaginative book. Totally different to anything I’ve read before. I liked the style of the book and it grabbed me from the very beginning, and right up till the end. It’s an extremely fast paced book with full of adventure. The characters were very well written and they held your attention from the start. This was the first time I have read any of the authors work and I really enjoyed it. The story flowed very well and I didn’t want it to end. There were many twists and turns.

So ….. vampires and werewolves are at war with each other, (humans aren’t aware of them as of yet) and werewolves are plotting for domination, the vampires plan to stop them.
If they don’t, then their meals (the humans) will disappear, and that’s the end of the vampire race.

Humans are being turned into werewolves, (a virus is spreading through the human population) and beg a huge pharmaceutical company to cure them, but the cure doesn’t work.

Lori use to be a human, but was “turned” by Catch. Lori is reluctantly “recruited” to the vampire cause. If she doesn’t help, she won’t last long without blood, and nor will her new family.
Catch is an unusual character (he’s never turned anyone, so it was nice to see how he grew as he taught Lori) Her vampire “family” are a great addition to the story, and you can’t help but hope they win against their enemies the werewolves.

The author had such a way with words, you could see yourself in The Covenant, or the many sword fights (I had myself ducking a few times😉) the world of vampires and werewolves according to author was a very fascinating world.

If you have a thing for vampires, or if you love a good action book. Then “The Endangered” is for you.

And I can’t wait for the next in the series.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Julie B

_____________

Dead and DamagedDEAD AND DAMAGED
The Endangered #2
by S.L. Eaves
Release Date: September 2, 2016
Genre: adult, paranormal, vampires, werewolves

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

Book Two of The Endangered Series picks up with Lori attempting to track down the
source of stealth technology rogue vampires are using to hunt humans. Her pursuit
leads her into the arms of a government agency with similar objectives. A temporary
alliance is formed in an effort to stop the corporation responsible for putting the
technology in malignant hands. Their mission goes awry, however, and leaves Lori
with more enemies than friends.

Her situation worsens when Marcus learns that the corporation has also been working
with vampires to develop daylight suits and synthetic blood. He convinces his clan
that this organization and its infinite resources will be a valuable asset in the
evolution of their kind. They begin questioning Lori’s motives and Marcus takes the
opportunity to capitalize on their distrust. Consequently, Lori soon finds herself
on the run from her former clan and turns to Vega for help exposing the truth behind
Marcus and his new deceitful allies.

••••••••••

REVIEW: Oh My God !!!! I didn’t think the second book could get any better than the first
one ….. boy was I wrong. A few twists and turns and I’m on the edge of my seat.

In this second installment of The Endangered trilogy, we find Lori struggling to
find her place in the vampire world. (She was a human until turned by a vampire
called Catch)

Lori decides to side the with humans in a government agency, they want to help
destroy the werewolf plan of domination, (they designed a virus to turn humans into
werewolves) but this doesn’t help Lori, in fact, she becomes suspect in the vampire
world. (Lies and mistrust doesn’t help Lori’s cause) and then has to outrun both her
old vampire family and the werewolves.

Lori has grown since the last book, and her finding her vampire feet, has made for
great reading….. from taking bullets (which don’t kill vampires) to falling six
stories from a building (she lands on all fours like a cat). She still has her
doubts and would swap being a vampire to a human in a heartbeat, but she knows there
is no going back, so will do her best to rid the world of werewolves.

The cast of secondary characters are just as strong as the first book. And the
antagonist exchanges between Lori and Brixton. And the loyal friendship of Quinn
make great reading.

I would recommend you read “The Endangered” first, which will make “Dead and
Damaged” more sense.

I will be eagerly awaiting the next and last instalment.

Reviewed by Julie

Copy supplied for review

Guest Post

How The Endangered Became a Series by S.L. Eaves

When it was released, The Endangered was never intended to be more than a standalone novel. I’d signed a book deal with a now defunct scifi & fantasy house, Zharmae Publishing Press, and the book sold well for them (though clearly not well enough) and sat in the publisher’s top five the year it was released. On the heels of its modest success, they reached out to me with a series contract. This was met with panicked resistance from me initially. I work full-time and the first book came together after years of work and a very daunting editing process. To say I was less than receptive to the idea of going through the process again is an understatement. A series is a big commitment. But after some discussion with the staff at Zharmae and some coaxing by my editor to flush out the short story I’d tacked onto the first book as the epilogue, the beginnings of a concept for the sequel began to form. They were also very supportive in my desire to write a more grounded, spy-centric story.

For the second book in the series, Dead and Damaged, I focused on two major plot pieces from The Endangered: the death of a major character that would have a ripple effect across the remaining characters, impacting all their relationships, and a secret that would serve as a catalyst for Book Two’s main story. With these two notions in mind, I took the epilogue from the first book as a baseline and set out to writing. Roughly three months later I had the first draft of the sequel hammered out.

Once the ball got rolling, Dead and Damaged poured out much faster than I’d expected. The characters backstories and relationships were solidified in The Endangered. The world was built. Book Two was a breeze by comparison. I also opted to go with a primarily linear narrative based on one central storyline and told almost entirely from the main character’s point of view. Which helped improve the flow and pacing.

It was also a conscious effort on my part to correct certain “flaws” of the first book, which jumped around as a result of its origin – short stories strung together over several years didn’t flow as smoothly as I’d have preferred. When you have to force the puzzle pieces to fit the result is a weaker, unnatural structure.

Another important factor is it more accurately represented what I wanted to write about at the time – less Blade/Underworld and more Mission Impossible/Metal Gear Solid. Personally, I feel that you can tell when the author is having fun writing versus when they’re just trying to get it off their plate. While I enjoyed writing the stories and characters that would eventually form The Endangered, piecing together the book with a team of editors felt like a second job. But I learned a lot from that process and was better prepared to navigate those waters with the follow-up efforts.

I started working on Book Three, Prey till the End, during the writing and editing process for Dead and Damaged. Having the ability to anticipate future entries in the series gave me more flexibility with the story arcs and I feel both books benefitted. What I hadn’t anticipated was the publishing house shifting from pressuring me to crank out more entries in the series as quickly as possible to suddenly going dark. At one point I didn’t even think Dead and Damaged would be published. From a writing perspective, the train was on the tracks and I was plowing forward, with or without a publisher. Eventually Book Two did get released. And by this point I was roughly halfway through the manuscript for Book Three. Then a few months later the publishing house closed. I debated shopping the series around, but going through the whole process of re-releasing the first two books in the series (and changing it into what the new publisher envisioned – because that comes with the territory when they own the rights) was less than appealing. Instead I opted to complete Book Three and independently publish the series.

This also impacted Book Three’s story because I decided that I did not wish to continue the series independently. For better or for worse, Prey till the End, the third installment in The Endangered Series is my most ambitious piece of writing to date. With it, I had two main stories I wanted to tell. The challenge was intertwining and eventually concluding them. My other objectives with Prey till the End were to address the aftermath from the events of previous books as well as tie up loose ends. Part of this involved utilizing the characters established in previous books; taking their stories further, giving them new challenges and new environments to play in, while also added a couple new characters to the mix to keep things fresh.

I loved telling this story. Loved. But I struggled mightily to make it work. It’s fair to say only twenty-thirty percent of what I wrote made it into the final manuscript. Tons got cut. Mainly as a result of the story’s evolution during the writing process. The story I initially envisioned didn’t quite work on paper. For example, I had one chapter outlined and storyboarded out, then two or three paragraphs in I realized it wouldn’t work. As mentioned earlier, I’d learned with the first book not to force in the puzzle pieces. The result was much smoother and plausible than my initial idea.

One challenge when you’re three books into a series is keeping it interesting and unpredictable. For instance, I initially intended to rekindle a relationship from Dead and Damaged, but found it had run its course and became bland, so I went a different direction to keep the characters compelling. I took the same approach with the main character’s interaction with a major character from Book One. The two characters rarely shared the same space “on screen” in The Endangered (and when they did they were fighting) so I wanted to give them more dialogue together and let the story develop naturally based on their interactions. Decisions like that helped drive the narrative to new directions.

Ultimately, the biggest hurdle was the conclusion. With the last book in a series you feel the weight of the whole series; you want to give the characters a satisfactory send off, to solve open mysteries, to tie up loose ends, and manage relationships/arcs while staying true to the characters and their journeys. All without repeating events or exposition from previous books or seeming cliché, contrived or tedious. I really felt that burden with Prey till the End. Tying all the books together to create a cohesive series turned out to be less challenging than wrapping everything up. But I tried to trust in the characters to lead me to where they needed to go. I was along for the ride during much of the writing process. And hopefully readers will join me in this journey and enjoy reading this series as much as I enjoyed writing it.

about the author

SL EavesFollow: Goodreads /Website / Twitter / Facebook

S. L. Eaves is a Philadelphia area native who received undergraduate degrees in film and writing from University of Pittsburgh. She returned to Philadelphia to earn her MBA in marketing from Drexel University while freelancing as a writer and brand consultant. She penned the first two books of The Endangered Series for Zharmae Publishing and went on to complete the series independently after the publishing house closed. Presently, she works in marketing and escapes into the world of fiction every chance she gets.

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A Secret Scottish Christmas (Agents of the Crown #4) by Regan Walker-Review and Guest Post

 Secret Scottish Christmas (Agents of the Crown #4) by Regan Walker-Review and Guest Post

A Secret Scottish Christmas

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 6, 2017

Spies and Scots and Shipmasters, oh my!

Scotland 1819 – Twin brothers Nash and Robbie of Powell and Sons Shipping, London, sail with their fellow Agents of the Crown to Scotland for a secret celebration of Christmastide, a holiday long considered pagan by the Scottish Kirk. But more than Christmas is being kept secret. The two brothers have accepted an assignment from the Home Secretary Lord Sidmouth to ferret out a fugitive fomenting rebellion among the Scots.

Aileen Stephen, the only daughter of an Aberdeen shipbuilder, had to be clever, devious and determined to gain her place in the family business. She succeeded to become a designer of highly coveted ships. One night, a man’s handsome face appears to her in a dream. When two men having that same face arrive on a ship full of Londoners, Ailie wonders what her second sight is telling her. Is the face she saw a portender of the future, a harbinger of danger, or both? And which of the two Englishmen is the one in her dream?

Older than Nash by a mere five minutes, Robbie has always been protective of his twin. When he realizes Nash is attracted to the sister of their Scottish host, he thinks to help matters along. But Nash wants no help from his brother, not where Ailie Stephen is concerned because Robbie is attracted to the girl himself!

Two brothers vie for the affection of the Scottish lass but only one stirs her passion. Which one will it be? And what will she do when she learns both are spies?

•••••••••••

REVIEW: A Secret Scottish Christmas begins with a group of people traveling from England to Scotland to celebrate Christmastide, albeit a secret celebration, with friends. Once the group arrives in Scotland, it doesn’t take long for the Powell twins, Nash and Robbie, to notice not only Aileen’s beauty, but also her fiery spirit.

As the story progresses, the twins put their secret plan into motion, in hopes of making their mission a successful one. However, as the twins get to know Ailie, it becomes apparent that one is more enamored than the other when said twin starts questioning their mission altogether.

A Secret Scottish Christmas is a great addition to the Agents of the Crown series. Ailie is a wonderfully written character. She is intelligent and feisty, but also has a loving heart for those she holds dear. The Powell twins were wonderfully written as well. I love the fact that they love each other as you would expect, but what drew me in was their sense of independence. Regan Walker did a phenomenal job of making each one of them their own person with their own identities. I also loved that Ailie picked up on their nuances that were written so brilliantly. Walker has also, once again, woven actual historical events into her story seamlessly and built a world that you can vividly see in your mind. Whether it is the sound of a dog barking, feeling the wind in your face as you sail away or seeing a landscape covered in new snow, you will find yourself noticing all of the details she meticulously sets for us to truly feel as if we are a part of. Reading Regan Walker’s books is, at least for me, like watching a movie. You are swept into her world from the very beginning and you truly do hate for it to end. Added to all of this the fact that we get to see so many couples from previous books throughout the entire story makes it one of my favorites of everything she has written. If you’re a fan of historical romance, you will most definitely love A Secret Scottish Christmas. There is a beautifully developed romance, political intrigue and such well developed characters that you’ll swear this is your favorite as well….until the next one. Well done, Regan Walker! Very, very well done!

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Vickie M

Guest Post-Black and Blue

Scot, Scotsman, Scotch or Scottish… how to refer to the Scots?

By Regan Walker

For my new Christmas Regency, A Secret Scottish Christmas, I wanted to make sure I referred to the Scots as they would want, so I did a bit of scouting. What I discovered was that the terminology can be confusing. Robert Burns, Scotland’s beloved poet, referred to the people of Scotland as “Scots”.

As you know from reading my stories set in Medieval Scotland, the people have always been “Scots” and their kings were never Kings of Scotland, but Kings of the Scots, the people being of first importance, not the land.

The Scots refer to their stories and language as “Scottish” but, in past times, they used the word “Scotch” in place of “Scottish” or “Scot”, something not done today.

In Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character by Edward Bannerman Ramsay, first published in 1857, the author looks back “forty years” (which would be to the Regency era) and describes the unique “Scottish dialect” spoken at the time. In one place, he says, “I recollect old Scottish ladies and gentlemen who really spoke Scotch.” He also refers to the people of Scotland as “the Scotch” and describes himself as “an out and out Scotchman”. So there you have it. Clear as haggis… er, mud.

I hope you enjoy my Christmas story set on the Northeast coast of Scotland. The people there in 1819 would have spoken a unique dialect, except in prominent families such as the Stephens, who spoke the King’s English. (The journals of the Scottish upper classes read like ones written by the English at the time). They might have spoken with an accent, of course. Most of the common people would have spoken the Doric dialect. Since Doric would be hard for readers to understand, I used it sparingly and sprinkled the book with a few Scottish expressions to give you a flavor for the local speech, particularly in the taverns and for the heroine’s grandfather from Stonehaven.

About The Author Black and Blue

Regan WalkerRegan Walker is an award-winning, Amazon #1 bestselling author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romances. A lawyer turned full-time writer, she has six times been featured on USA TODAY’s HEA blog and nominated six times for the prestigious RONE award (her novel, The Red Wolf’s Prize won Best Historical Novel for 2015 in the Medieval category). Her novel The Refuge: An Inspirational Novel of Scotland won the Gold Medal in the Illumination Awards in 2017. And her novel To Tame the Wind won the International Book Award for Romance Fiction in 2017.

Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government have given Regan a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown”. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding sovereign who taps his subjects for special assignments. Each of her novels features real history and real historical figures. And, of course, adventure and love.

Regan’s website: http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com/
Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076BBG6HV
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104
Regan’s Author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Regan-Walker/e/B008OUWC5Y
Pinterest Storyboard for the book: https://www.pinterest.com/reganwalker123/a-secret-scottish-christmas-by-regan-walker/

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Faithless Elector / Dark Network by James McCrone-Reviews, Guest Post & Giveaway

Faithless Elector/ Dark Network (Imogen Trager Series 1 & 2) by James McCrone-Reviews, Guest Post & Giveaway

Faithless Elector Banner

Dark Network
Imogen Trager #2
by James McCrone
Genre: adult, contemporary, political suspense, thriller
Release Date: October 20, 2017

Dark Network

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 20, 2017

The FBI is leaking, the Attorney General is being undermined, politicians are spinning, and social media is in an uproar. No, it’s not another day at the White House, but the world of Dark Network.

Imogen Trager, the determined heroine of the “highly suspenseful” Faithless Elector is still searching for the truth, and the nation is without a president-elect. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network—even her own colleagues—to defeat the conspiracy to steal the presidency. Left on the edges of the investigation, she joins forces with Trey Kelly, an FBI network specialist, also a Bureau outsider. Together, they struggle to find the back door the conspirators may have left unlocked. They’ll have to hurry. There’s only a month until the inauguration of a new president..

••••

REVIEW: DARK NETWORK is the second installment in James McCrone’s contemporary, adult IMOGEN TRAGER political drama, suspense thriller series focusing on FBI Agent Imogen ‘Gen’ Trager and the investigation into the electoral process of the United States of America. DARK NETWORK can be read as a stand alone but I recommend reading the series in order as Dark Network picks up immediately after the events of book one Faithless Elector.

NOTE: If you have not read FAITHLESS ELECTOR there may be some spoilers in my review. DARK NETWORK and FAITHLESS ELECTOR are fictional story lines and do not reflect the current political situation in the USA (conspiracy theories, aside).

Told from several third person points of view DARK NETWORK begins three days after the events of book one Faithless Elector wherein Agent Imogen Trager and Professor Duncan Calder uncovered a political nightmare of voter tampering and murder for hire in an effort to elect Republican James Christopher to the highest office in the land.

Imogen Trager has been held in seclusion by the FBI where she now faces an interrogation about the events leading to the death of rogue FBI agent Thomas Kurtz, and the shooting of her boss Agent Doug Pollack, and lover Duncan Calder. With the mysterious deaths of seven ‘electors’ and the murder of three more ‘faithless electors’ Imogen and the FBI will continue to search for the ‘dark network’ responsible starting with the voter discrepancies in Illinois. Imogen’s own investigation will pull in the FBI’s underground IT specialist Trey Kelly allowing the Agents and investigators to follow a group of unfamiliar names with connections to high ranking officials both in and out of the political eye. What ensues is the intense and thrilling manhunt as, once again, the ongoing discovery of a broken trail of bodies will hopefully lead to the people in charge.

DARK NETWORK looks at the American electoral process including the damaging potential of voter fraud; of ballot stuffing; threats and intimidation at the highest levels; and a murderous plot to ensure the ‘right’ candidate is ‘elected’ to the job. The intrigue is heart pounding; the action is full throttle; the threats are real but the sources indeterminate. The FBI knows there is a mole amid their ranks but uncovering the truth reveals a deeper connection to an unnamed source.

James McCrone pulls the reader into an exciting and tension filled tale that will captivate your imagination; blow your mind about potential conspiracies; and make you wonder when it all went wrong. Fiction that reads like reality; reality that feels like fiction-you be the judge where the black and white slowly bleeds into grey.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

___________________

Faithless ElectorFAITHLESS ELECTOR
(Imogen Trager #1)
by James McCrone
Genre: adult, contemporary, political, suspense, thriller

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / BAM / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 2016

Everyone thought the election was over… A young researcher uncovers a series of mysterious deaths among Electors and must race against time and a secret, deadly efficient conspiracy. In an era characterized as cynical and paranoid, Faithless Elector poses a creditable threat to the integrity of the electoral process and the selection of the president. Faithless Elector is a timely, compelling novel for our turbulent times.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: FAITHLESS ELECTOR is the first installment in James McCrone’s contemporary, adult IMOGEN TRAGER political suspense thriller series focusing on FBI Agent Imogen ‘Gen’ Trager and the investigation into the electoral process of the USA. This is thirty two year old FBI Agent and statistician Imogen Trager and forty seven year old Political Science Professor Duncan Calder’s story line.

NOTE: FAITHLESS ELECTOR is a fictional story line and does not reflect the current political situation in the USA (conspiracy theories, aside).

SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION and DEFINITIONS: In the USA ‘Faithless Electors’ are members of the Electoral College who do not vote for their party’s designated candidate.(http://www.fairvote.org/faithless_electors )

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. A state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for the State’s Senators. The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the presidential election. The electors meet in their respective states, where they cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots. Each state’s electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.

The President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the Presidential election.(https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html )

Told from several third person points of view including Imogen Trager and Duncan Calder FAITHLESS ELECTOR follows the investigation into the fictional 2016 US Presidential election wherein Diane Redmond is elected the first female president of the United States with an Electoral College difference of only four votes 271- 267. Graduate student Matthew Yamashita, under the mentorship of Professor Duncan Calder, begins his doctoral dissertation on party identification beginning with an analysis of the recent election, and the examination of the members of the Electoral College only to discover a series of anomalies including the ‘accidental’ deaths of seven electors. Matthew’s research will catch the attention of some powerful people who will leave a trail of bodies in their wake including Matthew himself. Enter Duncan Calder and his former Political Science student FBI Agent Imogen Trager who will be caught in a storm of mystery and intrigue involving the FBI, Attorney General, and the powerful political elite.

We are introduced to grad student Matthew Yamashita; Imogen’s FBI partner Agent Thomas Kurtz, and her boss Agent Doug Pollack.

FAITHLESS ELECTOR reads like a sociological study; a political science and statistical crash course into the United States election process and the fall out of voter tampering at the highest levels. The intrigue is heart pounding as Duncan is targeted by an unknown source that is determined to shut down anyone connected with Matthew and Duncan’s original investigation. A cross country journey finds our hero struggling to survive as each step closer to the truth brings Duncan closer to his own demise. With FBI Agent Imogen Trager working alongside, our couple will be caught in political war of conspiracy, not of their making, as they face down the people willing to kill for their own agenda and candidate.

James McCrone writes an amazing and timely thriller with a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure; a fast paced, intense story of political intrigue and mystery; a relevant look into the political process and the real potential for fraudulent elections. The premise is intellectually stimulating, engaging and realistic; the characters are colorful, inspiring and passionate. FAITHLESS ELECTOR is a fascinating and riveting look at the conceivability of the unimaginable.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Guest post-White and Red

Sailing Too Close to the Wind
by James McCrone

A well-crafted political thriller should feel “real.” To do so, it has to flirt with real events. But sometimes I worry I’m sailing just a bit too close to the wind.

In search of verisimilitude, an author works to capture the mood of a given time, to color the scene with familiar, plausible events. I wrote the draft of Faithless Elector years ago, and it was finally published it March of 2016, long before either candidate was even the their party’s nominee. Frankly, as someone writing a thriller, I was less interested in what was really happening, than in working to capture the mood of the time, the sharp, singed odor of righteous, sanctimonious, incendiary anger; the mistrust and the erosion of constitutional order. That, itself, proved to be too close to the truth.

The book, of course, is not about this most recent presidential campaign, but about what could have happened. Indeed, it could all still happen: the weaknesses in the Electoral College system exploited by the Faithless Elector conspirators, sadly, are all too real. Worse, despite my best efforts to remain fictional, Faithless Elector presaged real-world Faithless Electors casting protest votes, as well as a campaign calling the very act of voting into question and using vote-rigging as a campaign tactic. There were even “manufactured” news stories. (How I wish I’d thought to call it “fake news!”)

In both books, the technical aspects of the conspiracy were the hardest for me to get right. In Faithless Elector I had to become something of an expert on Electors and the Electoral College. I had to ground myself in Constitutional law and statistical analysis models—not so I could bore you with it, gentle readers, but so I could portray those aspects accurately and maintain the pace of a page-turning thriller. Obviously, Faithless Elector doesn’t end in the same way as the true election. It was never meant as prophecy. Nevertheless, I wondered and worried about sailing my fictional course too close to the wind. I comforted myself, wrongly it turns out, that Dark Network would not be so potentially controversial or inadvertently relevant. How wrong I was!

As I worked to finish the draft with my editor back in April, the news was full of hacking, chicanery and fake news; and worse, the FBI itself had come under scrutiny, had itself become part of the story. Unfortunately (for me), to write Dark Network, I also had to become versed in the workings of the FBI, its hierarchy, its processes. I had to do research on how to track and hack cell phones, how to mask GPS signals. I had to figure out how much information was shared between clandestine organizations and the FBI, under what circumstances and by what mechanisms. At one point, I worried the FBI would come knocking, wondering what I was up to!

The epigram for Dark Network comes from Adam Smith, the 18th century Scottish philosopher: “Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.”

Dark Network is about power. The umbral conspirators are bent on taking power for themselves at the expense of everything we hold dear. The chilling, dark recognition at the heart of the plot is that the conspirators would say they were seizing power in order to preserve everything we hold dear. They are doing the right thing, they would say. And people who are doing the right thing are rarely troubled by scruples or conscience. Why would they be?

The tension for the characters in the novel centers on how far they’re prepared to go in defense of their own principles before they’ve abandoned them all. Let’s hope there are fewer real-world analogues this time out. But, given how many things I’ve written have come to pass, when you read the third and final book in the series, Consent of the Governed (fall 2018), you’ll know why I dread the sharp knock at the door.

About The Author

Follow James: Website / Twitter /Facebook / Goodreads

James McCroneJames McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager novels, Faithless Elector and Dark Network, suspense-thrillers about clandestine threats to the presidency. Coming next, Consent of the Governed!

James’s work both on an off the page deals with justice, politics and issues of personal and social responsibility. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is back in the US, in Philadelphia, after a year abroad in Oxford, UK.

giveaway

James is graciously offering a signed, paper copy of FAITHLESS ELECTOR to ONE (1) lucky commenter, and a signed paper copy of DARK NETWORK to ONE (1) other lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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9.. Giveaway runs from October 21-25, 2017

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Concierge (Black Raven #3) by Stella Barcelona-Review, Interview & Giveaway

Concierge (Black Raven #3) by Stella Barcelona-Review, Interview & Giveaway

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CONCIERGE
Black Raven #3
by Stella Barcelona
Release Date: September 27, 2017
Genre: adult ,contemporary, suspense

Concierge

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

About the book:

The Concierge delivers anything…for a price.
A provider in the underworld of human trafficking, the Concierge fills deviant orders of an exclusive clientele with inventory collected from people who live on the streets. As client requests are delivered, a personal obsession with New Orleans artist Andi Hutchenson festers…until the predator’s quest is possession..

Andi Hutchenson lives in a world of fear-fueled shadows. Two and a half years ago, Andi was kidnapped, tortured, and left for dead. Since then, crippling fear has ruled her life. Round the clock security enables her to leave her French Quarter home to paint the world around her, but Andi’s past is about to collide with her lonely present.

Gabe Hernandez believes his client is safe…but she isn’t. Protecting Andi is a given, but Black Raven Agent Gabe Hernandez is captivated by her and wants to entice her back to the land of the living. Yet with each tug on the lifeline he offers, Gabe is pulled deeper into Andi’s world, where the dividing line between imagined horrors and real-life demons is whisper thin.

••••••••

Review:

Concierge begins with Andi Hutchenson believing that she’s seen a young woman kidnapped in broad daylight in the French Quarter, not far from her home. The Black Raven agents assigned to her detail saw nothing. Which causes Andi more stress because she doesn’t know if the agents are lacking or if she’s having hallucinations. Due to the fact that Andi is best friends with one of Black Raven’s founding partners, who still feels somewhat responsible for what happened to Andi, she is a high priority client. When she fires yet another agent, they send in Gabe Hernandez.

Agent Hernandez is known for his quick wit and his charm, but even more for his almost empathic abilities. Once he makes the scene, it doesn’t take too long for him to ascertain that there is more to Andi than meets the eye. She has basically shut herself off from society, the same society that she once enjoyed, almost to the extreme. But what makes her stand out for Gabe, other than being a beyond gifted artist, is the way she sees herself….broken. That is NOT what he sees. He sees a beautiful, determined woman who is doing her best to navigate through what’s happened to her and try and make herself whole again. He makes it his mission to get her see to herself the way he does: unstoppable.

Andi tries to resist Gabe’s charm. She’s never even known another agent’s name. He invades her space, almost daring her to fire him, which she wants to do, but for some reason can’t. She eventually starts to feel something she hasn’t felt for two and a half years….safe. Just as Gabe starts to convince her that he’s the real deal, and so is she, evil rears its ugly head and upsets the calm they’ve been striving for. As Gabe and almost the entire Black Raven team race against the clock to save Andi, all he can do is pray that she’s still alive.

Wow……….just wow.

Concierge is an intense story from beginning to end. Your heart breaks for Andi and what she’s endured. It will also beat with pride as she is determined to make it out the other side of what happened to her. Yes, there are times that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to do it. Yes, there are times that she second guesses all aspects of her life that led up to her being kidnapped and tortured. Gabe is just what she needed. Of course, he’s charming and all of that, but it’s his empathic side that allows him to see Andi in a way that she doesn’t even see herself. All she has to do is believe in herself and in his steadfast support. Easier said than done when you’ve been through what she’s been through.

I have to say that there are a couple of parts of this book that are very dark. One particular scene in the beginning almost had me putting the book down, but I will say that I’m glad I didn’t. The Concierge (character) is a twisted, perverse being and Barcelona held nothing back in her portrayal of that character. Thankfully, there are only a few scenes where we are subjected to the Concierge’s whims. With all of that said, this book is by far my favorite in the series, and that’s saying a lot. Intense really isn’t a good enough word to describe it, but that’s what I’m going with. There is also not a problem reading this as a standalone. If you’re a fan of fast paced thrillers with phenomenal leads, sizzling romance and awesome secondary characters, you will never go wrong with one of Barcelona’s stories. I cannot wait for the next installment. Well done, Stella Barcelona! Very, very well done!!! (p.s. Stella Barcelona, please tell me Ragno’s story is coming soon!!!!)

Reading Order and Previous Reviews
Deceived
Shadows
Jigsaw
Concierge

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Vickie M.

Interview

TRC: Hi Stella and welcome back to The Reading Café.

stella barcelonaStella: Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s great to be here.

TRC: Congratulations on the release of CONCIERGE, the third book in your BLACK RAVEN series.

Stella: Thank you!

TRC: We would like to start with some background information for anyone who doesn’t know Stella Barcelona. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Follow Stella: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

Stella: I write romantic thrillers. When I’m not writing, I’m a lawyer. I work for a court in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve lived in and around New Orleans my entire life. During one very special time in my past, I lived in an apartment in the heart of the French Quarter, in Jackson Square. I’m also a dog lover, and I have two adorable papillons, who appear occasionally on my website and my Facebook page.

TRC: What has been happening in your life since last we spoke?

Stella: I’ve been busy writing! As you know, Deceived was published in 2014. Since then, I released Shadows and Jigsaw, and most recently I released Concierge.

I’ve also revamped my website, stellabarcelona.com. I write blogs from time to time, some book related, some not. I’ve included book club discussion questions on my website for each of my novels; the discussion questions give insight regarding themes that intrigued me as I wrote each novel. I also have an “Ask Stella” blog, where people ask questions that I answer on my site. I love to hear from readers, so please visit my website and say hello!

ConciergeTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of CONCIERGE and THE BLACK RAVEN series?

Stella: “Black Raven” is shorthand for a continuing character in my novels, the security agency Black Raven Private Security Contractors. Each story that I write in the Black Raven series involves a high-stakes job for one or more agents.

In Concierge, A Black Raven Novel, after spending time in far away places in Shadows and Jigsaw, the action returns to New Orleans, Louisiana. The story involves a private security detail provided by Black Raven for an artist, where the job quickly goes awry in unexpected ways.

Concierge is set in and around a neighborhood where I once lived—the French Quarter. In the story, I provide a local’s glimpse of the chaos that ensues in the days leading to Fat Tuesday. It’s a thriller, where the action takes place along Royal Street, Frenchmen Street, Esplanade Avenue, and beyond.

Twists and turns will take the reader along French Quarter streets, into a world where peril ensnares vulnerable people who make the streets their home. In particular, a young musician who goes by the name “Pic” plays an important role in Concierge. Pic, a runaway who lives on the streets, was inspired by people I encountered while living in the Pontalba Apartments, in Jackson Square.

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

Stella: Although I spend significant pre-writing time conceptualizing each story, the time that I spend researching and plotting varies with each book.

In the pre-writing time, I usually develop the parameters of the Black Raven job that will drive the story. From there, I research thematic elements. My research results tend to drive some of the plot points. I add character development into the mix, and then I research the setting.

I develop points for chapters and scenes and lay everything out on a plot board, following, somewhat loosely, the method of plotting by color I learned from fellow author, and friend, Cherry Adair. I tend to rearrange everything for a while and obsess even more about various plot points and characterization. When I’m really, really tired of plotting, I start writing.

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

Stella: Names are difficult! I’m somewhat random with name selection in the beginning, then have to change the names midway through the story. For example, when writing Jigsaw I realized I had several characters with names that started with an “M.” It was confusing, so I had to come up with new names. It wasn’t fun, because I had been working on the story for months. It was hard to think of the characters with their new names.

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

Stella: If anything, it made me more determined to be a productive author. My goal was never to simply write one book and then stop. My goal has always been to be a storyteller. Since stories always play in my mind, I have more than one story to tell. Finding readers for Deceived, my first novel, and each subsequent novel, has made the entire process a worthwhile, rewarding endeavor.

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

Stella: There are a few that come to mind, BUT, the hardest, by far, was one particular bridge scene in Jigsaw. I’m trying not to give too much away- but the scene takes place in Paris, on the Pont Neuf. The hero, Zeus Hernandez, has to think and act fast to stop an explosion. The scene is short, but it took me forever to write. To this day, I can’t explain why it was so difficult for me.

TRC: There is a fine line between romance, erotic, and erotica in many of today’s popular contemporary fiction. Many authors are re-issuing their previously erotic story lines with ‘cleaner’ versions without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text. What do you believe has precipitated this move or change in direction?

Stella: Though my novels have a sensual element, I don’t consider myself an erotica author. I can’t really speculate on the reasons why erotica authors may be re-issuing their books with ‘cleaner’ versions. It sounds interesting, though, and it makes me wonder whether the reverse would work as well. Should authors of non-erotic fiction re-issue their books with more erotic scenes set within?

TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?

Stella: I believe covers are extremely important, but truly, I think the quality of the story told within is even more important than the cover. Nevertheless, because of the importance of having covers that capture the imagination of readers, I tend to be extremely selective regarding cover elements. Recently, I wrote a blog about the cover of Concierge on my website. The blog, entitled “Musings…On the Cover of Concierge,” gives a bit of insight as to the depth of my obsession with covers.

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

Stella: Yes! I love to listen to music as I write. The louder it is, the better! It’s difficult to explain why music facilitates my writing, but I think the beat translates to story pacing. Fast paced songs remind me to incorporate action, while slower, more emotional songs remind me to reveal what my characters are feeling.

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

Stella: One misconception is that authors always feel inspired to write. In reality, at least for me, getting from the beginning to the end of a reader-worthy story is hard work that requires extreme diligence and self-discipline.

Also, I’m not sure the creative process will ever become easy, even though writing is something I love to do. I equate the difficulty that comes with producing a novel with the sort of difficulty I experienced in my third and final year of law school. The classes in that third year weren’t magically easier just because I had been through two years of law school. To perform in that third year at the level I hoped to achieve, I still had to work hard. The same goes with writing.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Stella: I’m writing my next Black Raven novel, entitled “Insertion.” It’s set in Alaska … and … Stay tuned! It will be released in 2018.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Stella: Yes – I love to hear from readers, so please reach out and say hi, either on Facebook or through my website.

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

Stella: You’re welcome, and thank you!

Giveaway

Stella is graciously offering a $25 Amazon gift card + a hand-blown glass fleur de lis paperweight + an autographed copy of Concierge. to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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

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

3. Please LIKE and Follow Stella Barcelona on Facebook

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

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

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7. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr

8. Giveaway open to USA only

9.. Giveaway runs from October 13-18, 2017

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Heart of Honor (Knights of Honor #5) by Alexa Aston-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

HEART OF HONOR (Knights of Honor #5) by Alexa Aston-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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HEART OF HONOR
Knights of Honor #5
by Alexa Aston
Release Date: August 21, 2017
Genre: adult, historical, medieval romance

Heart of Honor

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date August 21, 2017

1375 A.D. – When Sir Christopher “Kit” Emory’s beloved mother falls ill, he decides to seek the help of someone he met briefly at the royal court years ago—Lady Alys de Montfort, a renowned healer despite her young age. While traveling to her home at Kinwick Castle, Kit is accosted by a band of highwayman, who beat and rob him, leaving him to die. Fortunately, an escort party comes across him and Lady Alys insists they take the stranger home so she can use her skill in the healing arts to save his life.

The man awakens and has no memory of his identity, but Alys believes he might be Kit Emory, a young man she’d met once when she was a young girl. Kit comforted her when the queen died and Alys never forgot his kindness to her. Alys does what she can to jog Kit’s memory, even as she struggles with her growing attraction to him, knowing Kit was betrothed and must now be wed. Kit also finds his desire deepening for Alys, but he doesn’t know his own name, much less if he has a wife or family. Until he recalls who he is, he refuses to commit his heart to Alys.

Once Kit regains his memory and realizes he is free to pursue Alys, their road to love is anything but smooth.

Join Kit and Alys as they overcome events that continue to tear them apart and threaten the love they have for one another.

Each book in the Knights of Honor series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed out of order.

••••••••••••••

REVIEW: Heart of Honor is a medieval romance and book five of the Knights of Honor series by Alexa Aston.

This is the story of Christopher Emory and Alys de Montfort. If you are fortunate enough to have read the other books in this series, you will recognize Alys as the daughter of Lord Geoffrey and Lady Merryn. This wonderful story is every bit as talentedly written as the others.

Alys is in court and serving the ailing Queen Phillipa when she meets Kit (aka Christopher). He has been sent by the king to ask Alys to attend to the king’s headache. She also was requested by the queen to bring the king to see the queen. They have a momentous first meeting and the king attends the queen on her deathbed. This is also where she learns Kit (the only man to attract her attentions) is betrothed to another.

Six years later, Alys is home at Kinwick castle and learning more from her beloved mother. Her father and others have just returned from fighting the French. Kit has also returned from the war to find his beloved mother ill, his unbeloved wife dead. With his mother very ill, he remembers the lovely girl (the only one he’s ever been really attracted to) comes to mind as a wonderful healer and the wife he really wants to have. He immediately sets out to retrieve the Lady Alys for both reasons.

On his way to Kinwick, he is beset by robbers. The Montfort’s are escorting their sons back to their fostering home and find the unconscious man, stripped naked and left for dead. Alys doesn’t recognize him but sends for a cart and they take him to Kinwick for healing.

This is what begins this marvelously romantic and adventurous story. The twists are heart rending and the love scenes are heart thumping. The story is fast paced and full of familiar and wonderful characters. The two main characters are wonderfully developed and capture you heart.

If you’re a fan of this series, this story does not disappoint. If you have not read this series, Good Lord why not? These are tales of knights of honor and adventure, love at its finest. Do yourself a favor and put these in your collection or your TBR. You’ll be happy, I promise.

Click HERE for Georgianna’s review of book 3 CODE OF HONOR

Copy supplied for review.

Reviewed by Georgianna S

Guest Post

The Code of a Medieval Knight

I’m in the middle of writing my Knights of Honor English medieval romance series, so I’ve been doing tons of research about knights—their training, their oath of knighthood ceremony, and what they are responsible for once they’ve become a knight of the realm.

Various sources report about the vows every knight took. French literary historian Leon Gautier published La Chevalerie in 1883, where he tried to summarize many of the vows knights took into what he termed the Ten Commandments of Chivalry. They included:
• Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches and thou shalt observe all its directions
• Thou shalt defend the Church.
• Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
• Thou shalt love the country in which thou wast born.
• Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
• Thou shalt make war against the infidel without cessation and without mercy.
• Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
• Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
• Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
• Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil
In The Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland), an epic poem based upon 778’s Battle of Roncevaux, Charlemagne’s knights adhered to this code of honor:
• To fear God and maintain His Church
• To serve the liege lord in valour and faith
• To protect the weak and defenceless
• To give succour to widows and orphans
• To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
• To live by honour and for glory
• To despise pecuniary reward
• To fight for the welfare of all
• To obey those placed in authority
• To guard the honour of fellow knights
• To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
• To keep faith
• At all times to speak the truth
• To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
• To respect the honour of women
• Never refuse a challenge from an equal
• Never turn the back upon a foe
Taking all of these vows into account, I began crafting my different heroes and their stories. In my first Knights of Honor tale, Word of Honor, I combined a few of these ideas and had my hero Geoffrey de Montfort remain true to the word he had pledged to another and living a life of honor by keeping a sacred promise—even though it almost costs him the woman he loves, his wife, Merryn.

In Book 2, Marked by Honor, my knight Raynor Le Roux must protect weak and defenseless (or is she?) heroine Beatrice Bordel. He also must persevere to the end and remain true to his commitment to deliver Beatrice to her betrothed, although his heart breaks in doing so, for he has fallen in love with this lady.

Book 3, Code of Honor, has knight Michael Devereux valiantly serving his liege lord, Geoffrey de Montfort—and falling in love with Geoffrey’s niece—as well as keeping his faith in God and restoring his mother to her rightful, honorable position.

Journey to Honor, Book 4, features Kenric Fairfax, a fierce knight who believes he hasn’t lived up to his knightly code and hacks off his hard-won spurs, which reveals to the world he’s fallen short of his duties. With the help—and love—of heroine Avelyn Le Cler, Kenric redeems his honor and once more is seen wearing his spurs.

In my latest release, Book 5’s Heart of Honor, hero Kit Emory doesn’t even know if he’s a knight! Kit was attacked on the road and suffered a head injury, causing amnesia so severe that he doesn’t even know his own name. Heroine Alys de Montfort helps in the recovery of his memory, and Kit rises to the challenge, showing his valor and resourcefulness.

As I continue writing this series, I will weave in as many of these knightly tenets as I can!

One random commenter will win an electronic copy of Heart of Honor.

Stay in touch with me through my social media sites:

Website: https://alexaaston.com
Blog: http://www.embracingromance.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexaAston
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoralexaaston
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15846438.Alexa_Aston
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/alexaaston
Newsletter: http://madmimi.com/signups/422152/join

(A special thanks again to The Reading Café for having me as their guest today. They have been supportive of my Lauren Linwood books and now my Alexa Aston books, as well.)

giveaway

Alexa Aston offering an ecopy of HEART OF HONOR 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.

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The Flirtation (The Submissive #10) by Tara Sue Me-Rview, Guest Post & Giveaway

THE FLIRTATION (The Submissive #10) by Tara Sue Me- Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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THE FLIRTATION
The Submissive #10
by Tara Sue Me
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, BDSM, romance

The Flirtation

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

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date August 8, 2017

Lynne has not wanted for anything since she began working as Nathaniel and Abby’s nanny–until the night they invite her to a group BDSM meeting. The abrupt breakup she had with her last Dom made her turn her back on the lifestyle, but now she’s ready to dive back in. When she starts chatting on online BDSM message boards, she’s shocked to discover Simon, her former Dom, is a frequent poster–and even more shocked at herself when she creates a secret identity and strikes up a conversation.

After messaging with a mysterious submissive online, Simon forms an immediate connection. Lynne and Simon’s D/s relationship grows in intensity, but can their relationship survive after the truth is exposed, and Lynne’s identity is laid bare?

•••••••••••••••

REVIEW: THE FLIRTATION is the tenth installment in Tara Sue Me’s contemporary, adult THE SUBMISSIVE erotic, BDSM romance series. This is Dominant and sadist Simon Neal, and masochist, nanny and college student Lynne Ryder’s story line. THE FLIRTATION can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story lines is revealed where necessary. Several characters from previous installments, including Nathaniel and Abby West, cross over for cohesion and familiarity.

NOTE: If you have issues with S & M (Sadism and Masochism) including whipping, flogging, spanking and punishment, this story line may not be for you.

Told from dual third person points of view (Simon and Lynne) THE FLIRTATION is a second chance romance story line that focuses on the rekindling relationship between Dominant and sadist Simon Neal, and the woman he claims as his own-masochist, and nanny Lynne Ryder. Months earlier Lynne Ryder was the submissive to Simon Neal but when Simon abruptly cut off their relationship Lynne found her life spiraling out of control including the loss of her job, a broken heart, and leaving the lifestyle she was growing to love. Working for Nathaniel and Abby West as their live-in nanny Lynne took stock of her life and with the decision to return to school to become a primary school teacher, our heroine found herself living in the West’s Manhattan penthouse, preparing for a future at Columbia University. But curiosity got the best of Lynne Ryder, as she began an internet search of the man who broke her heart-Simon Neal-masochist and Manhattan Dominant-and the man with whom Lynne had fallen in love. What ensues is an online relationship of lies between Lynne and Simon-a relationship that will fall apart when Simon discovers the truth about the woman he believes is someone else.

THE FLIRTATION is a story of second chances but Simon and Lynne will fall victim to an act of vengeance, jealousy and betrayal. Not only will Simon and Lynne be targeted but so will Simon’s New York BDSM club-a club that prides itself in privacy and anonymity. With so many unresolved issues between them Lynne’s lies add fire to an already volatile situation.

The relationship between Simon and Lynne is one of second chances but Lynne’s lies and online fake persona push Simon when the truth is revealed. The numerous $ex scenes are intimate; the S & M scenes are erotic and intense but may not be suitable for all readers.

There are a large number of secondary and supporting characters including Nathaniel and Abby (The Submissive Series), Dominants Cole Johnson and Luke DeVaan, as well as submissive Anna Beth.

THE FLIRTATION is a sexually graphic story line. The premise is interesting but the secondary conflict, the threats against our story line couple, seemed unnecessary and overdone. In my opinion it was a futile attempt to bring suspense into an otherwise predictable story line. The characters are colorful and energetic; the romance is erotic and intense. I received an ARC copy for review and the story line ended at 70%. The remaining 30% was a bonus novella-THE CLAIMING-originally released in September 2016.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

guest post

When I finished writing THE TRAINING, I had no plans to write anything else with Nathaniel and Abby. Their story had been told. After all, not only did I leave them happily engaged, but the Epilogue gave a sneak peek into their life after children.

But as soon as THE TRAINING was published,I started to hear from readers about how they wanted to see the wedding and the honeymoon. There wasn’t enough story to write an entire novel, so I decided to do a novella, THE CHALET.

And I still got requests for more.

So I thought about it and realized if I continued AND expanded, I not only got the opportunity to explore the relationships of different couples, but also to get glimpses of Nathaniel and Abby. In writing what would become THE ENTICEMENT, I realized that Nathaniel and Abby still had a lot of story left in their journey. After all, life doesn’t end with the Happily-Ever-After. That’s when it begins.

Because, you see, the wedding is never the end of the story, but the gateway into an entirely different one. There is so much that happens AFTER the couple gets together, AFTER the honeymoon, and yes, AFTER the kids are born. And it’s raw and real. It’s sexy and intimate. And it’s terrible and beautiful and so much more intense because OMG, you’re in this deal FOR LIFE.

The risk, of course, is throwing drama into the story for the sake of drama and I’ve never been a fan of that. There needs to be drama, but it has to develop naturally from the character’s growth and (big one here) it has to make sense. Any reader who has been with me since THE SUBMISSIVE will know immediately if I have Nathaniel or Abby act out of character and the story won’t be believable to them.

And that, that heartache and happiness, that joyous triumph, that emotional and physical connection with your soulmate is something worth writing about.

Just like everything else in life, writing a set of characters through several books is a balancing act. Treat it delicately and the story will flow. Throw everything but the kitchen sink at it and you’ll only have a hot mess.

I’m not a plotter and that works well for my writing style. I love not knowing what’s going to happen next in a book. I think I’m able to enjoy it because in romance you’re guaranteed a happily-ever-after. That gives me a certain level of comfort and I hope it does the same for my readers. They can go along with me because they know no matter what I put the the main character through, everything’s going to turn out okay.

The thing I have to remember as an author, though, is I can throw the twists in, but they 1) have to make sense and 2) there needs to be trail of breadcrumbs. I don’t think the reader has to see the breadcrumbs on the first read, but they have to be there. When they go back and reread the second time, that’s when they think, “Ohhh, now I see.”

The other thing that is imperative listening and trusting your author voice, which is more than your story voice, but also the one in your head that talks to you while you write.

If you’re a writer, you know all about That Scene. It’s the one where you stare at your laptop for hours at end. The one you try every trick you know and still only net 500 words, if that many. For me, it’s been up to two weeks of author hell, knowing something was wrong, that ended with me deciding I didn’t care what words I put on paper, I just wanted words.

And when I went back over them, that’s all they were, words. But the scene was finished so I wrapped up the chapter, sent it to my crit partner, and wiped my hands of it. Now as a writer, you need a crit partner who will be brutally honest with you. And that’s what mine was. She confirmed what I knew: the scene was merely there. There was no emotion, no intensity, nothing.

I took a deep breath and went back to the scene, determined to make it work. The first thing I did was start over completely. I didn’t want to use any of the previous words. I wanted a clean start. And so, even though part of me feared I was going to spend another two weeks struggling, I went to work.

I decided to change POV from the hero to the heroine. Just to see how it went. Maybe she’d be chattier while I was writing. I started typing and hours later the scene was finished. What had taken two weeks in the wrong POV was completed in hours in the right one.

Lastly, you can’t talk about writing romance and not talk about sex (well, you can, but you shouldn’t.) Let’s face it, we all know how sex works. And yes, writing it well is a must for erotic romance. However, you could craft the most perfect, mind-blowing, finely crafted sex scene, but if I’m not emotionally engaged with the couple, it’s going to fall flat.

If you were to ask me what makes one erotic romance better than another, it wouldn’t be how well the sex is written, the number of sex scenes, or even how creative the couple was during sex. What makes an erotic romance stand out for me is everything surrounding the sex. That’s what connects me with the characters.

It’s that connection with the characters that makes the physical scenes so intensely satisfying. It’s much easier to write insert part A into part B, but when you do that, it becomes exactly what it sounds like – cardboard. And cardboard may have its place, but erotic romance isn’t one of them.

Good erotic romance, the really good erotic romance, has the power to transcend itself beyond the sex into a work of fiction that literally makes your heart race and your knees turn to jelly.

And isn’t that why we all read romance?

~~Tara Sue Me~~

About the Author

FOLLOW: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Tara-Sue-Me-

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

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SEAL Wolf Undercover (Heart of the Wolf 22) by Terry Spear-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

SEAL WOLF UNDERCOVER (Heart of the Wolf #22) by Terry Spear-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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SEAL Wolf Undercover
Heart of the Wolf #22
by Terry Spear
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal, romance
Release Date: August 1, 2017

SEAL Wolf Undercover

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Chapters Indigo / Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

About the book: Release Date August 1, 2017

Never be so foolish as to fall for the enemy…
Special wolf agent Jillian Matthews has joined the jaguar-run United Shifter Force to track down a deadly criminal. She’s even willing to work with PI Vaughn Greystroke―until the hot, growly SEAL wolf makes the mistake of getting in her way. Naturally, she shoots him. Who could blame her?

Vaughn Greystroke has always worked alone. But when a string of attempted murders puts him in the crosshairs, teaming up with the Shifter Force begins to sound like a good idea. Even if he has to work with alluring―and potentially treacherous―Jillian Matthews. Vaughn is a trained SEAL, after all. He can surely keep his distance from Jillian…no matter how much she’s getting under his skin.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: SEAL WOLF UNDERCOVER is the twenty-second installment in Terry Spear’s contemporary, adult HEART OF THE WOLF paranormal, romance series. This is PI and former SEAL Vaughn Greystroke, and Special wolf agent Jillian Matthews’ story line. SEAL WOLF UNDERCOVER can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story lines is revealed where necessary. SEAL WOLF UNDERCOVER crosses over with the HEART OF THE JAGUAR series, as the author continues to build the USF-United Shifter Force headed by the jaguar team of Demetria, Everett and Howard first introduced in A Very Jaguar Christmas .

Told from dual third person perspectives (Vaughn and Jillian) SEAL WOLF UNDERCOVER follows the search for a potential killer. Vaugn Greystroke’s Colorodo pack mate and friend Douglas Wendish was attacked and left for dead while on vacation in the backwoods of Oregon, and the first person to stumble upon the scene is Special wolf agent Jillian Matthews, who shoots first and asks questions later including shooting our hero Vaughn Greystroke. But Vaughn struggles with the possibility that Jillian’s brother Miles is a suspect and the fact that Miles refuses to come forward places Vaughn in an awkward position as he quickly comes to realize that Jillian is his mate. Enter jaguar shifters Demetria, Everett and Howard, who along with Jillian and Vaughn, set out to hunt for the shifter responsible. What ensues is the fast-building relationship between Jillian and Vaughn, and the realization that Douglas Wendish kept secret his reasons for his most recent vacation

SEAL WOLF UNDERCOVER is a detailed story with mystery, intrigue, family, friendship, romance and love. There are moments of humor and fun, action and danger, sexy times and a happily ever after. The relationship between Jillian and Vaughn begins as a case of mistaken identity as Vaughn targets Miles, and Jillian targets the shifter threatening her brother. The $ex scenes are intimate and seductive. The sexual energy was low key as the story line focused on the search for the truth and the hunt for a potential killer. Jillian’s brother Miles struggles for meaning in his life but what he finds are lies and betrayal.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including both wolf and jaguar shifters. The requisite evil has many faces but not all necessarily with the same end-game in mind.

SEAL WOLF UNDERCOVER is a lighthearted, spirited and energetic look at the supernatural. The premise is engaging; the characters are colorful and passionate; the romance is intimate and fated. SEAL WOLF UNDERCOVER is a satisfying and delightful addition to Terry Spear’s HEART OF THE WOLF paranormal series.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

guest post

How do you develop your hero and heroine? Do the ideas come to you fully formed, or do you figure them out as you write?

Creating characters is fun, but I don’t make lists of their likes or dislikes. Or faults and strengths. I think that’s what makes them so interesting to me.

While I’m writing about my hero and heroine, they come to life in the situations they have to deal with. Conflict helps to show what they’re made of and everyone will handle a different scenario in their own unique way based on their life experiences. But I don’t know what they are, oftentimes, until I’m writing the story. It really depends on the story too.

When I was writing about Sarandon Silver in The Bounty Hunter Gets Her Wolf, the heroine is brand new to the scene, but he isn’t. He’s been in several Silver Town stories, and so he has a rich history of trouble with the pack, mostly concerning his father, the former sheriff of Silver Town. That means I have to use previous stories, his life history, to ensure he’s true to his character from the past.

With SEAL Wolf Undercover, SEAL wolf Vaughn Greymere has been in one other story as a secondary character. But I was also tying him in with the jaguars, who have been in other stories, and a brand new gray wolf, Jillian…to the scene. I wanted to open up the story where the two wolves see each other and admire each other, but don’t really meet. I wanted Vaughn to show the kind of stuff he’s made of. At a jaguar dance club, he believes a dancer on one of the high platforms that breaks away, is about to fall to her death, and being a SEAL, and an alpha wolf, and a hero type, he rushes to rescue her. This makes a great impression on Jillian, though she doesn’t know he’s a SEAL or a wolf. Or that jaguar shifters existed at that time.

They’re all thrown in together later—the jaguars and wolves—to search for whoever has injured wolves and jaguars. Only he believes Jillian’s brother is the suspect and she shoots Vaughn to protect her brother.
And that’s how it all begins when he actually meets her. He’s hot, naked, wounded, and she can’t help the way her pheromones are telling her this guy is the one she needs in her life, when he’s out to get her brother! And Vaughn’s sure she’s protecting her brother when he’s the one they need to be taking down. Though, despite her shooting Vaughn, he can’t help but want to keep her in his sights. And more.

Every hero and every heroine has their own past, their weaknesses and strengths, their dreams and goals, their likes and dislikes and all of these things help to mold them into the characters they are today. But I only learn this as they go through all their trials. In the beginning, all I know is they have to be in a situation that changes their life in some way and how the hero and heroine meet. This will also have something to do with who they are—their jobs, their goals, their dreams. And from there, the story and their characters unfold.

~~Terry~~

About the author

Terry Spear Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

Love, love, love romance, the paranormal, hunky Highlanders with their delicious brogue and hot kilts, so Terry Spear writes about those hunky Highlanders both in medieval times and as wolves in contemporary times. Jaguar shifters too! And young adult urban fantasy. And romantic suspense. She grew up reading mystery, adventure, mythologies from around the world, ghost stories, the paranormal, fell in love with Dracula and Wolfman, and felt they needed loving too. Everyone should have someone to love. Which means her stories always have a HEA. USA Today Bestseller residing in Central Texas from Sacramento, California who creates award-winning teddy bears too!

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Terry Spear’s publisher is graciously offering a paper copy of SEAL WOLF UNDERCOVER to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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Days of Desire (Pirate’s Prize #2) by Tina Donahue-Review & Guest Post

Days of Desire (Pirate’s Prize #2) by Tina Donahue-Review and Guest Post

Days of Desire

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date July 4, 2017

In a pirate’s lair, nothing is as it seems . . .

Shipwrecked! When Royce Hastings is found washed up on the shore of a verdant tropical island, he tells the natives he is a merchant headed for Mozambique. The truth, however, is far more mercenary. Noble by birth, the once favored Royce has lost his fortune and family; now he is a hired henchman on the trail of an elusive pirate. His “shipwreck” was a fake. He’ll stop at nothing to infiltrate the island and capture his prey. His mother and sisters’ lives depend on it.

The last thing Royce expects is to be captured himself. But the lovely young woman who tends to his wounds in the tropics quickly takes hold of his heart. Simone is the island’s healer, and her skilled ministrations not only awaken his soul but disturb his conscience. His path has been predetermined; his identity must remain concealed at all costs. Yet the passion he feels in Simone’s sultry, loving arms cannot be denied. With his loyalties torn, Royce must make an agonizing, unthinkable choice.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: 4 out of 5 for this reader folks!

Days of Desire by Tina Donahue is a loving, action packed, with a little suspense kind of historical romance which takes you out of proper dukes and ladies and gives you good ole fashion pirates. Love me some pirates! LOL The second book of her “Pirates Prize” series, it takes place on a stunning tropical island where you will meet some absolutely incredible islanders with our main characters. I didn’t read the first book so I cannot comment on whether this could be a stand alone, but I will be picking it up in the near future.

Royce Hastings is our lead guy, and he is some stuck between a rock and a hard place. He is a noble by birth, but daddy dearest has lost the family fortune and Royce is paying the price. His mother and sister are being held hostage by a real SOB and Royce is being tasked via blackmail to capture a notorious pirate living on an island with his wife. If he cannot deliver, he can kiss his own family goodbye. Royce then arranges his own “shipwreck” on this island so he can infiltrate, assume a different identity and get the job done. Except .. nothing is ever as easy as all that!

Simone is the island’s healer and the woman who helps bring Royce back to health. Simone is kind hearted and she really appeals to Royce. Before he knows it, Royce is head over heels in love and now standing at a crossroads. Not only has he fallen in love with Simone, but he has befriended Tristan (AKA notorious pirate) and Diane (his wife) and finds a comfortable place amongst the islanders. How could he possibly betray these people and deliver the worst kind of ugly to them. But he has to, his family will be much worse off is he doesn’t.

This book is a quick read, but full of story. There was a good flow to it, the characters well developed in the short amount of pages offered. I would of loved to be stranded on this island that Tina writes so lovingly about. She really made it endearing. My only complaint would be the length. I WANTED MORE! LOL I am all about the slow burning build and that is near impossible when a story is on the shorter side .. but again, there is much awesome on the pages that were written!

Definitely a summer beach read. If you are looking for a quick historical romance fix then you will find it here!

HAPPY READING! 🙂

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Rachel T.

Guest Post beige

It’s All In the Details…

Romance is about challenges: those faced by the heroine and hero in their bumpy journey through lust to friendship and finally love; creating likeable characters, along with daunting yet realistic villains; choosing a setting and time period that will appeal to most readers; and in the case of historical romance, making certain that details from way-back-when aren’t only accurate but interesting.

As an avid reader of historical romance, I know what I don’t like and that’s a history lesson. Pages and pages of details that bring the plot and love story to a screeching halt. I can only speak for myself, but I skim those parts until I get back to the meat of the story. And that presents another challenge – exactly how much detail should an author provide?

I’ve found that making the setting and time period an integral part of the story, another character, if you will, allows those long-ago times to come alive.

For instance, in Days of Desire, book two in my Pirate’s Prize series, the action takes place on a secluded island in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. After researching the area, I knew such a lovely and wild place would be ideal for my romance. Who doesn’t want to fall in love with a brave, hot hero beneath a velvety black sky studded with stars and a tropical breeze ruffling his shoulder-length hair? With that settled, I had to determine how folks lived in such a primitive setting during the early seventeen hundreds and how they kept healthy.

To ensure the medicinal part was interesting, I made my heroine Simone a healer. She’s an island woman skilled with plants, potions, and poultices. One of the interesting things I learned is that periwinkle stops bleeding. When Royce, my hero, washes up on shore, shipwrecked and injured, Simone tends to his injuries. While weaving in historical detail about healing, I created a bond between Simone and Royce…the beginning of their romance.

Since Royce is on the island for less-than-honorable purposes, that created conflict for him in terms of whether he should desire Simone. More importantly, whether he can go through with betraying her and the others on the isle. To up the ante, I gave him little choice. However, at that point, I had to have him remain in contact with the merchant who sent him on this mission. As Mozambique (where the merchant resides) and the island are separated by the Mozambique Channel and several hundred miles, I faced a dilemma. In a contemporary romance, I’d simply have Royce use his smartphone. Obviously, that wouldn’t work here, but carrier pigeons would.

While researching them, I discovered that carrier pigeons were used in Baghdad as early as 1150 and that they can fly between 600 to 700 miles per day and journeys of 1000 miles are routine. Wow. That worked perfectly for my plot. I also learned that carrier pigeons can do round-trip flights, which dovetailed with what I had in mind.

As I wrote Days of Desire, I appreciated the hardships people faced in 1717 and how they overcame obstacles with intelligence and sheer will. Life wasn’t easy then, but it wasn’t as primitive as I had believed. Research taught me that Islamic medicine was well-advanced long before modern times and that pigeons can be as effective for communicating as sending a text (albeit slower).

Penning a romance is never easy. Historical details make it more challenging, but well worth it in the end.

~~~Tina~~~

About The Author beige

Tina DonahueFollow: Goodreads / Blog / Twitter / The Reading Cafe /

I’m an award-winning, Amazon and international bestselling novelist in erotic, historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance for traditional publishers and indie. Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised my work. Three of my erotic romances (Freeing the Beast, Come and Get Your Love, and Wicked Takeover) are Readers’ Choice Award winners. Three more (Adored, Lush Velvet Nights, and Deep, Dark, Delicious) were finalists in the EPIC competition. Readers’ Choice Award (Freeing the Beast, Come and Get Your Love, and Wicked Takeover). The French review site, Blue Moon reviews, chose Sensual Stranger as their Book of the Year (erotic category). The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for Lush Velvet Nights, and two of my titles (The Yearning and Deep, Dark, Delicious) received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition. Take Me Away and Adored both won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). I’m featured in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Before writing full-time, I was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.

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