The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro-Review, Interview and Giveaway

The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro-Review, Interview and Giveaway

The Hockey Saint Banner

The Hockey Saint
by Howard Shapiro
Release Date: September 10, 2014
Genre: Graphic novel, all ages, hockey, fiction

The Hockey Saintjpg / /

About the Book: Release Date September 10, 2014

Twenty-one year old Jeremiah Jacobson is the world’s best hockey player, but he wasn’t prepared for the frenzy and scrutiny that came with that title. Tom Leonard is an average college sophomore… just a guy trying to find his place in the world as he sorts through issues that are both very real and seemingly insurmountable.

Through a chance meeting, these two strike up an unlikely friendship. Their bond is tested when Tom discovers that his idol isn’t as perfect up close as he seems from afar. With Jeremiah living a little too much in the moment and with his past catching up to him, will Tom be able to help him before it’s too late?


REVIEW: THE HOCKEY SAINT is a graphic novel focusing on college sophomore and hockey player Tom Leonard and his friendship with professional hockey star Jeremiah Jacobson. Written by Howard Shapiro, and illustrated by Marica Inoue and color work by Andres Mossa, The Hockey Saint is a storyline for all ages with a message about the excesses that can come with fame and fortune. As Tom struggles with balancing his studies and playing hockey, he will get some unintentional life lessons from Jeremiah Jacobson.

I do not usually review graphic novels but I thought the premise involving the sport of hockey was interesting and something out of the usual. The story follows two young men caught up in the fame and notoriety of hockey stardom-one who has yet to see his star rise and the other who is heading for a downward spiral.

Each chapter is prefaced with a recommended song list as well as a chapter title. The graphic images are clear and colorful; the text is equally legible with no foul language, no sexual content, no violence or innuendo. The writing is simple and easy to understand. The storyline is a message about drinking and driving; smoking and drinking to excess. Even the image of the worshipped hero leaves little to the imagination about the long term affects of substance abuse on the body.

THE HOCKEY SAINT is great book for the young graphic novel reader. If you are looking for a storyline about hockey and sports heroes with a happily ever after, The Hockey Saint is the perfect gift for the holiday season or any time of year.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Howard and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of your latest graphic novel THE HOCKEY SAINT.

howard shapiroHoward: Thank you for this opportunity!!

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

Follow: Website / Goodreads  /Twitter

Howard: I live in Pittsburgh, PA with my wife and our two, fifteen year old sons. I am an Accountant by day, the Controller for a Visual Effects Studio and I have done five previois books, “The Hockey Saint” will be my sixth book and second graphic novel.

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

Howard: Mostly hanging around with my kids either watching TV or playing video games with them. In the fall and winter I enjoy watching ANY hockey game that is on television and I participate in a fantasy hockey league and keeping up with that takes up a lot of time.

TRC: Will you please explain-what is a graphic novel?

Howard: The quick answer is that it is an expanded comic book or a novel with pictures. There are so many great stories that are done as GN’s these days but I still think GN’s aren’t a truly mainstream genre as of yet. Go to any Barnes and Noble or library and chances are they will have a GN section but it will be small and off the beaten path. That will hopefully change in the future!

TRC: Which comes first-the story or the graphics?

Howard: Excellent question! For me it’s the story but told through the prism of the graphics. I have the story in mind, but what I end up doing is writing it in a visual way. I write it in a quasi-script format and so that way I am visualizing how the scene will play out and then I add in the dialogue.

TRC: Do the illustrator and author collaborate throughout the writing process?

Howard: Absolutely and that is my favorite part of the process! If you have a great illustrator, then the process can be pretty seamless. I like to give as much direction as I can to the illustrator, even providing samples of what I’d like a certain object or scene to look like. That and the facial expressions and body language that the characters are displaying. I can bve a time consuming process but its an amazing feeling when it all comes together!

TRC: Have you ever encountered an illustration/illustrator that did not represent what you imagined for your story? If so, how do you rectify the discrepancy?

Howard: Sure, it happens on occasion. That is usually where I go to google and search for an image and then send that to the illustrator and ask them to fix whatever it is. I’ve been lucky in that the two illustrators I have worked with, once they have established a great rhythm and are used to drawing the characters they nailed most pages in one take. The one thing I’ve really stressed with both illustrators is consistency, each time a character is displayed they have to have the same basic look. I really try and hammer that home, consistency on each and every single page.

TRC: Are most of the images hand drawn using pen and paper, or do most graphic illustrators now use computer programs and a Wacom tablet?

Howard: I believe that computer programs are used. The way we saved a lot of time with “The Stereotypical Freaks” was that the illustrator sketched by hand three of four pages and that why I could get a sense of what the pages would look like and then we could make changes and tweaks at that point. Then he would do the final pages and most pages were done in the first take!

TRC: How and when did your interest in graphic novels begin? Have you always been a fan of the graphic novel or comic book?

Howard: I do a few school visits each year and in one I did back in 2010 at an elementary school here in Pittsburgh, the school’s librarian was telling me how he could not keep any of the graphic novels on the shelf. The kids would take them out regardless of the subject and he also said that the neat thing was that the boys really loved them and would read them cover to cover. He told me how it was like pulling teeth to get boys interested in reading but that they really took to the GN’s he had on the shelves. So, the little light bulb went off above my head and I went to a local library and borrowed two GN’s, “The Big Kahn” and “Garage Band.” And, like the kids, I was hooked! I absolutely loved comic books growing up, I was team Marvel all the way and used to buy as many as I could and read them cover to cover and I thought that here was a chance to maybe take the dive in and do a GN which I kind of looked at as an expanded comic book. I was looking to do something different as my previous books had been either kids’ books or a middle grade novel and so I decided to learn as much about the process of creating a GN. Almost three years later “The Stereotypical Freaks” came out and my hope is to do a few more GN’s before I move onto something else!

The Hockey SaintjpgTRC: THE HOCKEY SAINT is your October 2014 release. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Howard: The story revolves around two characters, Jeremiah Jacobson whos is the world’s best hockey player and college sophmore Tom Leonard. They have a chance meeting and become very good friends and the story is really about their friendship, what it means to be a someone’s good friend, what we sacrifice for ambition and also the proliferation and over exposure of sports in the modern day.

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

Howard: Another good question! Tom Leonard has been a character in each of my six books. He started out as a young kid in my first three books which were picture books and in my middle grade novel he was a teen and that carried through to “The Stereotypical Freaks” where he was a senior in high school and now in “The Hockey Saint” he is a college student. He is me and I am him! I’ve always used him as my doppleganger, so he is based on me and my expereinces. Jeremiah is a combination of sports and entertainment figures which include Arthur Ashe, Sidney Crosby, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

TRC: Do any of your storylines feature a strong, female heroine?

The stereotypical freaksHoward: One of the criticism’s that was valid, I thought, from “The Stereotypical Freaks” was that there wasn’t a strong female character. Looking back on it, I had to agree and so I set out in “The Hockey Saint” to rectify that mistake and I feel that the story has two very strong female characters in Felicity who is with Jake (I don’t want to give out a spoiler) and Tom’s Grandmother, Sophie. They each exhibit strength in their own ways and I couldn’t be happier with the way they each turned out!

TRC: Have you considered writing a graphic novel for adults? If not, why?

Howard: I like to think that both of my GN’s are and would be a very enjoyable read for adults as well as kids. I guess what I would like to establish is that the books can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter what age you are. Even when I did my kids illustrated books, I tried to mix in themes that made kids think and analyze the story. I did not want to dumb down or talk down to kids and I’ve tried to be very consistent throughout all six books and offer both kids and adults lots of things to think about in my books. The worst thing, I think, a writer can do is talk down or dumb down his or her stories to fit a certain demographic. Kids are usually a lot smarter then people in the entrtainment industry give them credit for, so my job as a writer has always been to challenge them and mostly make them think about the ideas and themes I am trying to put across in each of my books.

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

Howard: I had the great pleasure to work with my friend and editor Christina Ahn on “The Hockey Saint” and if she is willing, she will be my editor for everything else I do. She is an amazing author in her own right and the best editor and storyteller that I know. The book would not have been what it is without her and the direction and help she provided to me!

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Howard: I’m in the early stages of doing the final story in the trilogy that started with “The Stereotypical Freaks.” “The Hockey Saint” is book number two and things will wrap up with “Can You See The Light” which again is the final story in what I titled the Forever Friends trilogy. I’ve just started doing pre-production on that and I hope to have that out in early 2016.

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

Howard: Well, I have one more graphic novel in me and then I have an idea for a romance-like novel. I’m not sure what genre it would be classified under but it will be a modern love story which I want to get down on paper because it is stuck in my head right now!

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

Howard: That I only want to produce stories that you can read over and over again. Stories that have an impact and actually say something. That has been my credo for all six of my books.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Howard: My publisher, Animal Media Group, has been really great in promoting “The Hockey Saint” and giving us all of the tools to get the word about the book out. They had an online hockey video game produced by a firm in Columbis, Ohio and the game plays out really great! It’s very fun and incredibly addictive so if you have a few minutes, please check it out at we are running a tournament on October 4th and the winners will recieve gift cards. More info will be available at the Animal Media Group Facebook Page –


Favorite Food – Pizza

Favorite Dessert – Peanut Butter M&M’s

Favorite TV Show – (Present Day) – Hell’s Kitchen, (All Time Favorite) – Starsky & Hutch

Last Movie You Saw – Guardians of the Galaxy

Favorite Musical Group – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Dark or Milk Chocolate – Milk Chocolate

Secret Celebrity Crush – Molly Ringwald

Last Vacation Destination – Toronto

Pet Peeve – People who take sports too seriously

TRC: Thank you Howard for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of The Hockey Saint.

Howard: THANK YOU!!


Howard is offering an amazing giveaway for FOUR (4) lucky commenters at The Reading Cafe. Prizes available to be won are:

-1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card

-1 winner will receive a signed paper copy of THE HOCKEY SAINT and a promo t-shirt

-2 winners will each receive a signed paper copy of THE HOCKEY SAINT


1. If you have not previously registered, please register 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 such as Twitter or Facebook, 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. FOLLOW Howard Shapiro on Facebook  and/or  Twitter

6. Giveaway open Internationally.

7. Giveaway runs from October 11 to October 15, 2014



For an extra chance to WIN a paper copy of THE HOCKEY SAINT or a $20 Amazon Gift Card click HERE and enter the GOODREADS giveaway


Light Up The Night (The Night Stalkers #5) by M.L. Buchman-a review

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT (The Night Stalkers #5) by M.L. Buchman-a review

Light up the Night / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 2 , 2014

Trisha O’Malley rebelled against her affluent family by joining the U.S. Army’s secret helicopter regiment, the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment). Now a Chief Warrant Officer, she found her toughest fight yet in the pilot’s seat of an MH-6M attack helicopter.

William Wallace Bruce is an undercover CIA agent who doesn’t trust the military. But when the Horn of Africa is threatened by Somali pirates, Trisha flies out to recover ships and hostages…including one very ungrateful Will. He’s furious about being rescued by the very group he despises. But with their lives on the line, it’s team up and survive, or…


REVIEW: LIGHT UP THE NIGHT is the fifth instalment in M.L. Buchman’s adult, contemporary The Night Stalkers military romance series focusing on a group of specially trained military personnel from the U.S. Army secret helicopter regiment the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment). This is helicopter pilot Trisha O’Malley and CIA SEAL operative William (Bill) Bruce’s storyline. Although it is the fifth book in the series, it can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty.

The storyline finds Bill and Trisha at odds with one another. Bill doesn’t trust the military and prefers to work by himself. But finding himself with a group of pilots and a paramilitary unit, who rescued Bill from a Somali attack, he is about to undertake one of the most dangerous missions of his life-the SOAR unit has asked him to assist on their next mission to take down a group of Somali pirates who have captured several boats, including an American yacht, near the Horn of Africa. Bill’s reluctance stems from his need to work alone and his attraction to one helicopter pilot-Trisha O’Malley.

The relationship between Bill and Trisha is one of immediate attraction but on the surface they rub each other the wrong way. From their turbulent first meeting the couple is in a continuous battle with their emotions and feelings for one another. But an urgent call back home will find Bill heading State side leaving a confused Trisha behind-only Trisha has her own demons to address before she is able to continue with the mission. The sex scenes are passionate and sensual.

The world building continues throughout the series with the familiar names and places, military jargon and speech. The secondary characters are colorful, engaging and include many of the previous storyline couples and characters. Their relationship to one another is of respect, friendship, comaraderie and love. They are all very protective of one another and will ensure that no one, even the new guys, will place anyone in danger.

With reference to the military jargon, there is a vast amount of technical information and detailed military language throughout the storyline but it does not deter from the overall premise. M. L. Buchman has executed his research very well.

M. L. Buchman weaves a story of romance into a military action series with passion, emotion and an intensity that is breathtaking and real. You will feel the incredible highs and lows, the thrill of the hunt, and the honor that each member of the unit instills within his or herself. LIGHT UP THE NIGHT is a realistic and intelligent look at a military rescue operation with a little bit of romance on the side.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Reviewed by Sandy

About The Author

ML BuchmanM. L. Buchman has over 25 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year” and Booklist “Top 10 of the Year.” In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction. 

In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world. 

He is now making his living full-time as a writer, living on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing at


Take Down (Billionaire’s Club New Orleans #3) by Mallery Malone-review, interview and giveaway

Take Down (Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans #3) by Mallery Malone-review, interview and giveaway

Take Down Banner

Take Down
Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans #3
by Mallery Malone
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, romance
Release Date:September 2, 2014

Take Down / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 2, 2014

Powerful. Dominant, Unforgettable. He commands submission at all costs.

Cage fighter, Gabriel Devereaux, a man of barely leashed power, is known as the Bayou Beast.

There is one woman he will do anything , pay any amount to possess.

Karina Armistead, has come a long way from the innocent girl Gabriel used to know. An internationally known singer, she can have anything she wants. But everything tells her that getting involved with the Bayou Beast may leave her wrecked beyond repair.

Little does Karina Armistead know, but Gabriel has decided that she will be his.

He will destroy anything or anyone who stands in his way.


REVIEW:  TAKE DOWN is the third instalment in Mallery Malone’s adult, contemporary, Billionaire’s Club : New Orleans erotic romance series focusing on three friends from New Orleans. Billionaires and MMA fighters-Sebastian, Raphael and Gabriel-collectively own DJD Holdings and these are their stories.

TAKE DOWN is a second chance storyline that focuses on the rebuilding of a relationship between former friends and lovers Gabriel Devereux and the woman he loves Karina Armistead. Ten years has past since they last saw one another but in the ensuing time each has made a name for themselves. Karina is the darling of pop music and Gabriel is a world champion cage fighter who spends a good deal of his energy in illegal fights. When a chance presents itself, Gabriel is the first in line to offer up his hand to Karina knowing that the truth about what happened years before could very well destroy any chance of a permanent reconciliation.

The relationship between Gabriel and Karina is one of sensuality and pure love. Karina never knew the reason Gabriel walked away ten years earlier and hearing the truth has all but destroyed her heart. Gabriel suffered at the hands of someone else, and Karina blames herself for the destruction of their relationship.

The secondary characters include the previous storyline fighters Raphael and Sebastian as well as their lovers and friends. We will be introduced to Karina’s body guards who are very protective of their charge; and Karina’s brother, and father whose relationship with Karina is born out of rage, anger and hatred.

TAKE DOWN is a very quick read where two people are given a second chance at love. This is a story of lost love, broken hearts and revenge. Mallery Malone pulls the reader into a passionate storyline where hatred all but destroys the heart; and controversy seems to follow our leading couple wherever they go. Take Down is an intense look at one man’s revenge in the hopes of destroying the only man Katrina has ever loved.

My only complaint is the book blurb which describes Gabriel as a man who commands submission at all costs. That particular comment does not seem to apply to this storyline. There is no BDSM, no demands to submit from anyone in his life. Gabriel is a man possessed by the need to reclaim the woman he lost years before not a man who demands submission in order to love or be loved.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.

Review by Sandy


TRC: Hi Mallery and welcome to The Reading Cafe. Congratulations on the release of your latest novel-TAKE DOWN (Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans #3)

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

Follow Mallery: Website / Goodreads/ Twitter / Facebook

Mallery: I’m a lifelong reader of everything. Stories were always my best friends. I started writing for fun in elementary school, for extra credit in high school and to keep myself sane as a young adult! I’ve been a published author since 2000, but started writing under Mallery Malone in 2008.I live north of Atlanta, GA with my husband, our guitar collection, two attack poodles and a cannibal fish.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Mallery: I can’t point to one particular thing that influenced my writing. I think we writers are an amalgam of what we’ve experienced and what we’ve read. While I started reading romances with Johanna Lindey books, the first books I bought myself were fantasy and science fiction. So I’ve been influenced by Madeline L’Engle, Ursula K LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey, Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler, Roger Zelazny. My greatest influence in my writing was an elementary school English teacher named Mrs. Flinchum. I’d turned in a short story for extra credit and she encouraged me to keep at it–even had me speak to one of her classes about creative writing. I’m forever grateful to my teachers!

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

Mallery: I relax by spending way too much time playing Candy Crush and Farm Heroes! Seriously though, I love to read, shop for jewelry and watch anime.

Take DownTRC: TAKE DOWN is the third installment in your Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans series focusing on three friends who grew up on the mean streets of New Orleans to one day own and operate a billionaire dollar business. Would you please tell us something about the series and the premise of the book?

Mallery: My fantastic editor, Monique Patterson, came up with the Billionaire’s Club series concepts. Billionaire MMA fighters in New Orleans? I was so on board! Wile that was the outward common theme for the stories, I wanted their to be an emotional connection too, and that was that they’d all come through Hard Knocks, Armand Duparte’s gym, at the same time, and bonded around their love and respect for the man who had basically saved each of them. Each one went on to achieve success in their respective disciplines, but each one also had “the one who got away” the woman who knew them before the fame and fortune, the one person who knew all their faults and failures and loved them anyway.

TRC: Who were the inspirations behind Sebastian, Gabriel and Raphael? Which model or actor best represent your ideal image for each character?

Mallery: Believe it or not, I didn’t have any particular models in mind for these guys! Hhm, maybe I need to go do a Google image search for hot cage fighters!

Billionaire's Club

Click HERE for our review of KNOCK OUT (book 1)
Click HERE for our review of POWER PLAY (book 2)

TRC: What was the deciding factor behind the setting of New Orleans?

Mallery: I enjoy visiting New Orleans. The culture, the history, the food–it appeals to me on every level. Using the city as a backdrop for a contemporary series really appealed to me, and gave me an excuse to visit and eat my way through the city!

TRC: What do you believe is the appeal of the MMA/fighter storyline to romance readers?

Mallery: Readers love alpha heroes. Outside of military or paranormal themes, you can’t get any more alpha than men who get all sweaty and bloody duking it out in the octagon. There’s something primal about fighters that appeals to women on that base, instinctual level, the one that looks for the male who will provide, defend and pass on good genes. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re hot, smart, and soft-hearted for the right woman!

TRC: TAKE DOWN is the final installment in this particular series. What do you have planned for 2015? New series? Spin Off?

Mallery: I would be really interested in doing a full length story that spins off this series,perhaps a female MMA fighter. It would also be interesting to delve into Armand’s story and why he felt the need to rescue these Lost Boys. I’m working on several proposal right now both contemporary and paranormal. Hopefully one of those will find a home!

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

Mallery: My husband and I watch MMA fights (he’s a huge Joe Rogan fan, but don’t tell him I told you that) and I have a neighbor who fights locally. So I had resources I could pump for information. In the end, with the stories being novella length romances, I knew I couldn’t provide the necessary detail for the sport that I wanted to include and still make the relationships realistic. So I chose to focus on the romances instead.

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

Mallery: My characters are always in the driver’s seat, damn them! I think they’re going one way, then one of them will say something or have a stray thought, and down the rabbit hole we go! With Sebastian, I knew he’d had a tough childhood, but I didn’t know he was the spitting image of his abusive father until he told me in the story. I knew Raphael was a playboy, the Crescent City Casanova, but the why–because his parents loved each other so much they neglected him–surprised me. I knew Gabriel was dark because of the people who did him wrong, but Karina’s relationship with her father and what her father did to them both was a shocker to me. I love it when my characters exceed my concept of them, especially when it works.

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

Mallery: For me, I think you have to feel it in order to show it. I have to feel what these characters feel. I think when you empathize with the characters you can convey that to readers, you can make it real. If you don’t get a visceral reaction from reading a passage of your story, you can’t expect the readers to. If you can be happy while writing a gut-wrenching scene, I don’t think that scene will resonate the way you want it to.

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

Mallery: Retire from my day job, support myself solely with my fiction writing, and hire a maid service to clean my house!

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

Mallery: That I played the viola in high school. I still have it and always say I’m going to break it out one day.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Mallery: My alter ego is working on a three book full length sexy contemporary series. Hopefully we can get those done so Mallery can get back to writing!


Favorite TV Show: Sleepy Hollow

Last Movie You Saw: Guardians of the Galaxy

Favorite Musical Group: Metallica, 30 Seconds to Mars

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Yes please!

Secret Celebrity Crush: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Last Vacation Destination; San Antonio for RWA. Strictly vacation was
Chichen Itza during the December 21, 2012 solstice.

Do you have any pets? Two standard poodles who think they’re lap dogs and would take over the world if they had thumbs!

Pet Peeve: People who stop in the middle of a busy walkway, oblivious to others around them.

TRC: Thank you Mallery for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulation on the success of the Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans series. We wish you all the best in your writing career.

Mallery: Thank you!

Giveaway pink

Mallery is graciously offering to gift (via Amazon) the Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans Series Vol 1-3 ebook trilogy (or $10 GC equivalent) 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. 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. FOLLOW us on Goodreads

6. LIKE Mallery Malone on Facebook

7. Giveaway is open to international (see above)

8. Giveaway runs from September 14-19, 2014


Hold On ! by Peter Darley-Review, Interview & Giveaway with the Author

HOLD ON! by Peter Darley-Review, Interview and Giveaway with the Author

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Hold On !
by Peter Darley
Release Date: July 7, 2014
Genre: mystery, suspense, action,romance

Hold On / /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date July 7, 2014

Two lovers! A deadly conspiracy! A race to freedom!

When Carringby Industries, a government-contracted arms manufacturer, is raided by what appear to be terrorists, the CEO’s secretary, Belinda Reese, is rescued by Brandon Drake, a dashing young AWOL soldier. Using an experimental test aircraft, he flees with her to his remote, isolated cabin in the mountains of Aspen.

While assisting in the design of military weaponry, Brandon discovered a plot within his own government to attack its own facilities, under the guidance of immoral politician, Senator Garrison Treadwell. Belinda’s body was not found among the dead at Carringby Industries, and Treadwell suspects that Drake was responsible for rescuing her. In an effort to entrap him, Treadwell arranges for an all points bulletin to be placed on Belinda

Deeply in love, Brandon and Belinda attempt to escape from America, only to endure one harrowing experience after another as they try to evade and expose Treadwell’s corrupt faction.

But on the run, with danger around every corner, Brandon makes a discovery so devastating that it shatters the very foundations of his reality.


REVIEW: HOLD ON is the first instalment in Peter Darley’s action, suspense series focusing on former solider Brandon Drake and secretary Belinda Reese.

The premise of the storyline finds Belinda and Brandon on the run. Brandon has been targeted for destruction by the very people with whom he has worked; and Belinda has been charged as an accomplice in what appears to be a home grown terrorist cell. What ensues is a cross -country trek for two people running for their lives as a government conspiracy threatens to take everyone down.

HOLD ON is first and foremost a story of suspense. The writing style is simple as the reader is pulled into a roller coaster of what ifs and whys: there are so many sub plots and organizations involved in the search and destroy mission that at times I wasn’t sure if they were all working towards a common goal-take down Brandon Drake-at all costs. There is mystery, action, murder, abduction, threats, torture and romance. And speaking of romance, the relationship between Belinda and Brandon is quick to build-from a high flying rescue to lovers, it is only a matter of hours to a few days where we find our leading couple discovering a little more about one another while being pursued by the government’s best (and worst).

There are numerous secondary characters that play an integral part in the hunt for Brandon Drake-from former platoon buddies to CIA operatives to Special Forces, everyone and every department is dirty in one way or another. No one will come away clean and unscathed. As the mystery builds so too does the amount of background information and history behind Brandon Drake and the secrets, of which, the military is willing to kill.

Overall HOLD ON is an interesting and imaginative storyline but one that was slow to build. Most of the action takes place in the second half of the story where the writing is more descriptive, spirited and passionate in nature than the earlier text. As this is the first book in the series, HOLD ON ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Peter and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of HOLD ON!.

peter-darley1Peter: “Hi Sandy, and thank you for having me on the blog. ☺

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

Follow Peter: Blog / Twitter / Facebook /

Peter: “My background is in showbusiness. I was an actor for many years, and I’ve appeared in several UK television productions. I also worked frequently as a model, presenter, and I appeared in a number of TV commercials. When the recession hit, work dried up, so I diversified into variety entertainment, and became an agent for a number of acts for awhile.

The need for a more stable career pushed me into law school in 2004. I graduated with honors in 2007, but I had decided by then that the law was definitely not a career I could ever be happy with. That’s when I started writing, and spent the next few years developing my style, writing my first novel, and then I endured a harrowing two year journey towards publication.”

TRC: HOLD ON! is your July 2014 release – an action, suspense storyline focusing on soldier Brandon Drake and Belinda Reese. Would you please tell us something about the premise?

Hold OnPeter: “Certainly. From the outset, Hold On! was a book made up of nail-biting cliffhangers. I recognized the power and compelling, page-turning nature of the cliffhanger when I saw the TV shows Prison Break and 24. Nevertheless, statistics show that 80% of novel readers are ladies. As such, I incorporated the action and suspense into a burgeoning romance between my two lead characters, which, I feel, brought a powerful and emotional component to the narrative.

I introduced my leading lady, Belinda, as an ‘everywoman’ whom millions of people would be able to relate to. In the first few pages of chapter one, she is a corporate secretary whose life is stuck in a rut. She works to survive, but she’s bored and uninspired. Her eyes are always on the clock wanting the day to come to an end so that she can go home. (How many people can relate to that?) I took this concept from the undeniable fact that ‘winning the lottery’ has so much social appeal. This was important in order that my readers would empathize with Belinda, thereby causing what comes next to have a powerful impact. I hoped that it would help the readers to put themselves in Belinda’s place.

On page 6 – all hell breaks loose! After what appears to be a terrorist attack, Belinda fears for her life and attempts to escape, only to find herself trapped by smoke and flame. By now it isn’t just Belinda who’s going through this. It’s the reader too.
But, just when all hope seems to be lost, she is rescued by a mysterious stranger wearing a smoke-proof helmet, and fire-resistant armor. This is our hero, Brandon Drake, who flees with her to his secret cabin in the mountains of Aspen.

This concept is a compelling classic that I have always passionately adored. My all-time favourite movie scene is the helicopter emergency scene in Superman – The Movie with Christopher Reeve, where he opens his shirt for the first time and takes off to rescue Lois Lane. It brings me to tears with awe every time I see it. In Hold On! it’s ‘The Princess in the Tower’ brought into a modern, culturally-relevant setting, but as you go through the pages, you will find that I’ve given it a number of new and unique twists.

After dealing with their own issues of trust, Brandon and Belinda learn more about one another, and fall in love. Brandon finally explains to her who he is, what the attack was all about, and how he went AWOL from a government weapons-testing operation in order to thwart the conspiracy responsible. They finally leave the cabin in an attempt to escape from America – only to be met with one cliffhanger after another, devastating revelations, and a relentless fight for their mutual survival.”

TRC: Who or what was the inspiration behind the leading characters of HOLD ON!?

Peter: “I think that Brandon is an amalgamation of a number of fictional and real-life characters that I have admired or encountered. There’s certainly a lot of me in him (lol.) I’ve always been an incurable rebel with a resentment for authority (rightly or wrongly) – hence why I’ve always insisted on being self-employed. I don’t think many of us have been able to avoid the experience of driving our cars, perfectly within the speed limit, then spotting a police car and our hearts coming into our throats – even though we weren’t doing anything wrong. It’s certainly not a pleasant feeling, and it immediately creates a moment of resentment beyond our own conscious control. For me, Hold On! arises from my personal obsession with freedom, and this is the part of the human psyche that I wanted to tap into.

However, I was also aware that the most compelling characters are ones that are flawed and/or tormented in some way. Brandon has a side to him that even he can’t come to terms with. I can’t say too much about it because spoilers abound; suffice to say that I adopted what I considered would be one of the most horrifying discoveries any human being could (hypothetically) make about themselves.”

TRC: Are any of the storyline plot points taken from reality?

Peter: “I think that depends on one’s perspective. Corruption in government is always on the six o’ clock news. But the idea of the ‘powers that be’ initiating hoax terrorist attacks against their own nation was based on some of the more popular 9/11 conspiracy theories. Given the high numbers of demonstrable refutations, and the overwhelming lack of evidence for such claims, I have to say that I cannot bring myself to believe a word of them. Fiction, for me, therefore, was the perfect media for the concept. Additionally, I have never found another concept which offers up so many opportunities for cliffhangers. Aside from a handful of emotional and philosophical points raised in the book, Hold On! is, first and foremost, a literary roller-coaster ride, which exists to satisfy the prerequisite of all fiction – entertainment.”

TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading characters of HOLD ON!, which actors or models would best represent your ideal image?

Peter: “Great question! From my earliest reviews of Hold On! the most frequent comment I received was that it would make a terrific TV series. This even found its way onto the cover as its tag line: “The TV Thriller Series You Can Only Read.”

Brandon Drake has never been anyone other than Australian actor, Chris Hemsworth (Thor.) His was the face I had in mind from the moment Brandon first removed his helmet. He’s absolutely perfect for the role.

In the beginning, I had no specific image for Belinda in mind. Generally speaking, however, she had dark hair and was very attractive.
And then I came to the end of watching the TV series, Spartacus: War of the Damned. Actress Jenna Lind (also Australian by coincidence) played a Roman slave named Kore. In a shocking addition to the otherwise-historically-accurate ending, Kore was crucified with the defeated slave warriors. When I saw this, I was mortified, and thought: “I’m not having that! There’s a beautiful lady in need of rescue, and I’ve got just the man for the job.”
Jenna Lind looked as much like Belinda as anyone could. Since then, she has been my leading lady. ☺”

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

Peter: “The most difficult aspect to writing Hold On! is that I wanted it to be authentic ‘American’. You can’t write a fugitive-type story like this and set it in England. There is simply nowhere to run. It would have come to an end by chapter two. This led to a potentially-fatal problem – so many words are spelled differently in America, and many common expressions in England are unknown in the US. For example, would an American know that a flash drive (that little computer information storing device) is called a ‘pen’ drive in England? It’s almost like a different language on occasion. These are issues that one cannot research, because to research them, you first have to know that there’s an issue with a particular word or expression to begin with. You either know it, or you don’t. For this, I have my dear American author friends, Anne B. Cole, Rafeeq McGiveron, and my editor, Garrett Marco, to thank for getting me out of trouble with these issues.”

TRC: What do you have planned for the next instalment in the series? Release date? Premise?

Peter: “The sequel to Hold On! entitled Go! – Hold On! Season 2, has been signed, and is due for release sometime early next year. I can’t say too much about the premise at this stage because it would be virtually impossible to avoid spoiling the ending of Hold On! I’ve had the video trailer for Go! in my hard drive for months, but we can’t release it yet. It’s very frustrating. The ending of Hold On! is revealed in the very first text caption of the Go! trailer.

However, Go! has been received, from my friends who have read it, with such high acclaim that it stunned me. I didn’t think that I could pull it off a second time, but my reviews so far have been that Go! is actually superior to Hold On!

I am extremely confident that Go! will provide my readers with even more nail-biting suspense, and a chance to share the journey of a fallen hero as he struggles to restore himself to his former greatness, along with an exploration of the meaning of ‘family.’ And, of course, it ends leaving you with a gnawing desire to find out – what happens next? ☺”

TRC: Did you face any difficulties getting your series to publication?

Peter: “Boy, did I! I implore all authors reading this NOT to let it dissuade you. What happened to me was extraordinary, and was not representative of the norm. (This story is also featured on my website.)

When you are an unknown writer with no author platform whatsoever, you will seriously have your work cut out for you. Hold On! has a history steeped in as many cliffhangers as there are in the story. After receiving an initial 60 rejections from publishers and literary agents, I engaged the assistance of my dear friend, former New York Times bestselling literary agent, Mark Malatesta. Whilst my original query letter contained some desirable factors, it lacked a few technical details, which Mark helped me to correct.

Soon afterwards, Hold On! attracted the interest of a literary agent in Florida, who told me that it would take her five to six months to get to it. However, she was very understanding, and encouraged me to try to find a publisher in the meantime. If I was successful, she asked only that I let her know. A few weeks later, a publisher in Michigan literally pleaded with me for Hold On!. Having a ‘bird in the hand’, I let them have it.
Almost a year later, the publisher folded – a week before Hold On! was due to go to press. I immediately contacted the literary agent in Florida again, only to discover that she had now retired.

A week later it was tentatively picked up by Writer’s Coffee Shop in Australia (the publishers who first published Fifty Shades of Grey.) We worked together on the project for four months, during which time some key plot lines were removed from the manuscript. And then suddenly – silence. There had been no contention between me and Writer’s Coffee Shop. No disagreements. No arguments. Nothing! They simply ignored all of my emails, and with no explanation.

Last October (2013), after picking up a total of 130 rejections, and three failed acceptances, Hold On! was snapped up by Soul Mate Publishing. It had finally ended its two year journey from Central England, to Florida, to Michigan, to Australia, to ultimately land in New York.”

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

Peter: “Another terrific question. I can only speak for myself, but I always begin with a basic premise. Beyond that, I really don’t know where the story is going. As I begin to write, one idea after another comes to me, and the book literally writes itself. So the answer is – the characters (or story) direct the writing.

Having said that, I know more about what’s going to happen in the third instalment than I did when I started the first and second. This time, I even know how it ends (if my publisher permits me to do what I want to do with it.)”

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

“I will say this: you cannot convey emotion unless you’ve felt it yourself. I have a slight advantage over many writers in this respect by virtue of my former career as an actor. We studied emotions and character development to the extent that we were assigned with the exhausting task of dredging up all manner of harrowing episodes from our pasts, until the class was literally filled with sobbing wrecks.

The secret is to look inside yourself, draw upon your life experiences, and try to recall, as clearly as you can, what you were actually feeling at any given point in your life, and then transcribe those feelings into words. Often you may find you are writing a scene which neither you, nor anybody else, could possibly identify with. Nevertheless, there will always be a common denominator.

Here’s an extreme example – let’s say, hypothetically, you have a character who’s just discovered that the world is going to end in seven day’s time. Nobody you know could possibly identify with horror such as that. But what feelings would that cause in you? I would imagine a sense of panic. Urgency. Desperation. Absolute terror. When have you felt such emotions in the past? What went through your mind during those occasions? What were the physical manifestations that it put you through? (A pounding heart. An inability to think straight. Shivering and shaking uncontrollably, etc.)

Once you have those descriptions, you write them down and give them to your character.

Be mindful also of what genre you are writing in. If you are writing a genre romance, you can probably afford to labor emotions more than you could in a thriller, because emotion is the primary raison d’être of the romance genre. However, thrillers today are required to be fast-paced, and while emotion is an important component of thriller characters, you cannot afford to labor the emotional aspect to the point that it slows the pace. Just inform the reader of the character’s emotional state with a reasonable degree of description, put them in the picture, and move on. Don’t be repetitive and waste time on that which is unnecessary.”

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

Peter: “I can’t say that I’ve experienced this yet. As I mentioned earlier, I won’t have a clue what’s going to happen next, so I start writing just so that I can find out (lol.) It’s the weirdest feeling in the world. I’m on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happens next – and yet I’m the one who’s made the whole thing up! I’m the only one who can come up with the answer, but at the beginning, I simply don’t know. My books literally write themselves. Even when I have a clear plan for a chapter, some of the coolest, hitherto-unknown ideas come to me while I’m actually writing it.

I have found that rushing through a manuscript will not yield the best results. Giving myself time for those golden ideas just ‘pop in there’ produces the most hair-raising storylines. Let the process breathe. I can’t sit down and rationally plan a storyline. That usually leads to some fairly boring and sterile ideas because I’m using the intellectual/academic side of my brain rather than the creative. It’s the ideas that involuntarily pop into my head that get the finest reactions.

And one more thing: don’t try to write when you are under the spell of depression. Draw on the experience afterwards if you need to (if depression is relevant to your story), when you have a clearer head. But during an attack of depression, everything about you will be drained, and all you will see on the screen before you is an empty page. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself the right to be human.”

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

Peter: “Honestly, I swear on my life – absolutely nobody. I work alone. It’s my gig. Once a first draft has been completed, I will then pass it around to my friends, and I take on board what they say with regards to statements or matters of demonstrable error – such as American spelling, geography, or politics. I have had publishers ask me to remove certain plot lines and add in new ones, but these were people who were never destined to play any part in me getting published. Another publisher would tell me to restore what the previous publisher told me to remove, but to change the ending. And so it went on . . . (This actually spawned the ‘deleted scenes’ page on my website. I love my original plotlines, and the deleted scenes page was my way of keeping them alive.)

Publishers can’t ALL be right. They can, however, ALL be wrong. YOU are the ultimate authority on YOUR creation. That’s my opinion, and I have yet to be shown any evidence to the contrary. If I was to ever encounter a unanimous objection to a storyline, then I would listen. But a singular, subjective viewpoint carries even less weight than mine, since I’m the one who created the concept in the first place. It’s a delicate balance between deciphering constructive criticism, from someone who wants you to write their book rather than yours.”

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

Peter: “My ultimate aim is to hear the four words that would completely change my life:

“Previously, on Hold On!”

I think that covers all bases – and I’ve already made a little headway in trying to make it come to pass.

Oh, and I would love it if my deleted scenes created a cult following. Vindication is the greatest feeling in the world. ☺”

I can’t think of a third agenda relevant to this. Once you have the highest possible achievement in your sights, no lower ambition is noteworthy, really.

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

Peter: “I’ve always been very open, extremely outspoken, and pragmatic, but I don’t broadcast the fact that I’ve been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, simply because it’s rarely relevant. It’s not a big issue for me, really. I can assimilate myself among people very successfully. I very much doubt that you would ever know, and I say that based on my wealth of social experience.”

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Peter: “Run! – Hold On! Season 3.”

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Peter: “I hope that anybody who reads Hold On! enjoys it, and that it captures their imagination. I would also like to convey my very best wishes to everybody reading this, and I hope that all of my brother and sister writers achieve the success that they all surely deserve.”


Favorite Food – Chinese crispy shredded chicken with fries.

Favorite Dessert – Chocolate cake.

Favorite TV Show – The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982.) Factual statistic: its largest audience was actually adult females.

Last Movie You Saw – Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Only I could get away with admitting that.☺)

Favorite Musical Group – Abba

Dark or Milk Chocolate – Both

Secret Celebrity Crush – Um . . . don’t have one. (Gawd, I must be getting older. ☹)

Last Vacation Destination – Isle of Wight.

Do you have any pets? – Two cats, Poppy and Snooky. A few months ago, a little black and white cat, barely more than a kitten, came to my door. He’d been abandoned and dumped out in the street. He was still wearing his ID collar, but his previous owners had ripped off his ID tag. He was hungry, scared, and alone. I’ll never know where he originally came from, but he’d been out on the streets for some time, because he’d stopped grooming himself. He came to me in the same way that Brandon’s bear cub came to him at the back of the cabin in Hold On! For that reason, I gave this little cat the same name as the bear cub – Snooky. You’ll all be happy to know that he’s very happy, extremely playful, and well-cared-for now. He follows me everywhere I go. ☺

Pet Peeve – Traffic jams.

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

Peter: “Thank you, Sandy. It’s been an honor.”


Peter is graciously offering an ecopy of his novel HOLD ON ! to 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.

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

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6. Giveaway is open internationally

7. Giveaway runs from September 13-17, 2014


Night Magic (The Magic Series #4) by Susan Squires-Review, Guest Post and Giveaway

Night Magic (The Magic Series #4) by Susan Squires – Review, Guest Post and Giveaway

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Night Magic
The Magic Series #4
by Susan Squires
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal, romance
Release Date: September 8, 2014

Night Magic / / Barnes and Noble / iTunes / Smashwords

Add NIGHT MAGIC to your Goodreads shelf.

ABOUT THE BOOK: September 8, 2014

DESTINY ISN’T CALLING. Kemble Tremaine is thirty-seven. He knows he’ll never get magic like the rest of his family. The Merlin gene has passed him by. No true love, no magic power to help the family in their fight against the descendants of Morgan Le Fay. Since it doesn’t matter who he marries, he asks his sister’s best friend, Jane. At least he’ll be rescuing her from a horrible home life.

CINDERELLA MISSES THE BALL. Jane Butler has loved Kemble since she was twelve years old. She’s well aware he’s not marrying her for love, but she hopes she can make him comfortable.

HAPPINESS IS RELATIVE. Comfort isn’t on the menu for the Tremaines. Kemble’s sister has been having visions of tragedy. The family finds one of Merlin’s precious artifacts, meant to increase the power of those with magic. Morgan and her Clan want it too. They can’t be far behind. Can Kemble and Jane find destiny in the face of danger and even death?


REVIEW: NIGHT MAGIC is the fourth full length instalment in Susan Squires contemporary, adult The Magic Series (formerly known as the Children of Merlin) paranormal romance storylines focusing on the Tremaine family who believe they are the descendants of Merlin. Each descendant will come into their magic when they meet their soul mate-their other half. This is eldest brother, thirty seven year old Kemble Tremaine, and family friend Jane Butler’s storyline. Believing the gift of magic has passed him by, Kemble proposes to Jane hoping to stave of the stigma of being alone and without his inherited powers. Kemble watches as each sibling comes into his or her own magical power but the gene appears to be recessive in the eldest son’s DNA.

The storyline continues the Tremaine family struggle as their search for Merlin’s missing and powerful artifacts. But Morgan LeFay and her Clan of rival magical misfits are always one step ahead of the Tremaine family and NIGHT MAGIC finds the family not only fighting the Clan but fighting for their lives. When a golden chalice is located, right under their proverbial noses, the Tremaine family make preparations to retrieve the ancient talisman only to discover that someone already knows about their plans.

The relationship between Kemble and Jane is one of friends to lovers. Jane has loved Kemble since she was twelve years old but Kemble has always seen Jane as his younger sister’s friend and a member of the family. The pull towards one another is heightened with each sexual encounter and if Kemble believes magic has passed him by, Jane’s own hidden power calls to the power buried deep within the man that she loves. The sex scenes are sensual, seductive and passionate.

The secondary characters include all of the previous storyline couples as well as the entire Tremaine family. Morgan LeFay and her Clan are the epitome of evil-with no heart and no soul. We get a glimpse into a future storyline that looks to be another heartbreaking and emotional premise.

The world building continues as each family member comes into their own power and the battle with the Clan brings danger and darkness with every encounter.

Susan Squires CHILDREN OF MERLIN is a wonderful, compelling and imaginative series with romance, love, magic and drama. NIGHT MAGIC will pull you in and break your heart when one of their own fights to survive.

Check out the new covers !

The Magic Series

Reading Order
1. Do You Believe in Magic (April 2012)
2. He’s A Magic Man (September 2012)
3. Your Magic Touch (prequel novella) March 2013
4. Waiting For Magic (October 2013)
5. Night Magic (September 2014)

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy

Guest Post

As readers of the Reading Café blog probably know, I’m in the middle of the six book Magic Series about the big and boisterous Tremaine family who are descended from Merlin of Camelot. The live in at the beach in a contemporary L.A. Merlin’s magic, dispersed through the ages, lurks in their DNA. Now, when each sibling meets another with the Merlin gene, the magic creates immediate attraction, true love, and a unique magic power emerges. Of course, they aren’t the only ones with magic. Members of the Clan are descended from Morgan Le Fay, and they have very different ideas about what to do with magic powers. Night Magic, the fifth title in the series if you count the novella, Your Magic Touch, is the latest in the series, newly available at the usual digital sources, and at Amazon in print form.

I’ve grown to love the Tremaine family over the course of writing these books. Father, mother, six siblings and one adopted brother, various friends, new husbands and wives as the characters find their destined lovers—they’ve come to be a whole, unique world for me. The series takes place sequentially, and therefore all the family and some other key characters have been in every book, from the start of the series. I feel like I’ve watched the youngest ones grow up, and I’ve suffered with each character’s problems and trials right along with them, some of them continuing over multiple books. These people aren’t perfect. They struggle with their relationships just like real families. The parents don’t always do the right thing. The brothers don’t always agree. But there is an underlying love and loyalty there that my heroes and heroines can depend on. In some ways, the family is a character of its own.

This is the first series I’ve done where the whole story arc had to be planned out before I ever sat down at the computer. It’s also why I recommend, for the very first time, reading the books in order, beginning with Do You Believe in Magic?

I can already see a time when the series will be finished, even though I have two books left to write. I don’t know how I’ll let the family go. So I was rather relieved when a new character showed up in my mind about a month ago. And he wants his own book. So the series might be seven books long.

I’m not complaining.

.99¢ ebook for a limited time: DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC (The Magic Series #1) by Susan Squires at Amazon.

YOUR MAGIC TOUCH  (novella) is currently FREE at All Romance ebooks for one week.



Kemble strode around the car without a word, got behind the wheel and slammed the door. His lips were a thin, determined line. Then he seemed to see her for the first time. “Jane, that…that cheek looks really painful.” His face contorted with an angry look. “I should have been over here first thing this morning.” He was angry with himself, of course.
“I could have gone to the doctor if I needed to, you know,” she said.
He snorted. “You never want anything for yourself, Jane. I’ll take care of that too.”
What did he mean by that? The motor purred to life and Kemble put his arm over the back of her seat to turn and look out the rear window as he backed out. His fingers brushed her shoulder. She closed her eyes as the sensation shot up her spine. Did he have to be so careless?
As they turned onto Palos Verdes West she glanced over to him. He was fairly vibrating with…nervous tension? Determination? She couldn’t quite figure it out. He surprised her by sliding into the little shopping center behind the Admiral Risty, an old-school, red-booth dinner place with a wide-water view of the Pacific. “Aren’t you going to be late for dinner at home?”
“Yes, I am.” He nodded his head convulsively. The man was sweating.
“You want to loosen the tie or something?” He really looked like he was about to choke.
“No.” He took a big breath and let it out slowly. Then he turned to her. “I have something I want to ask you, Jane. And I don’t want you to say anything until I’m done explaining.”
“Uh. Okay.” Jane was getting a very bad feeling about this. It was going to be something about what he wanted to do with her mother. She just knew it. And she wouldn’t be able to accept his largesse, so he’d try to bully her into it.
He looked out over the parked cars. “I’m never going to get magic. I talked to Senior and he agrees. We think the gene is recessive in me. I’ve known it for a while.”
She started to protest, but he held up a hand. It was shaking a little. That stopped her far more effectively than anything he could have said. He wasn’t the kind of guy to tremble.
“So.” He acted as though that settled everything. “So he agrees that I ought to get on with my life. Settle down. And if I’m not waiting for the bolt of lightning, well, then I can marry whomever I want. So I’m asking you.”
Jane felt like she’d been struck deaf, dumb and blind by that lightning bolt. Kemble was… asking her to… marry him? After all these years, he’d realized he loved her…
“Now don’t say no,” he rushed on. “Just because we’re not in love doesn’t mean this can’t work out. You need a refuge Jane, and if we marry, I can give that to you.”
Jane carefully shut her mouth, though that didn’t mean she could breathe.
Kemble looked down at his hands, still on the steering wheel. “The family already loves you. And I’ll make sure your mother is taken care of. Enough money cures everything, Jane, and if it’s one thing I have, it’s money.” His eyes were so earnest it might break her heart.
He’d given up. So he might as well marry her. Something heavy sat on her chest.
He got an anxious look. “So…uh…what do you think?”
She hardly trusted herself to speak.
“Oh. Wait.” He lifted his hips to get his hand into the pocket of his slacks, and drew out a small square velveteen box. It said the name of the department store at the top of the hill on the bottom. He fumbled with it until he got it right side up and popped it open. A diamond ring gleamed in the rosy light of the setting sun. The setting was simple, just a band with three medium diamonds set in it. They glinted in the afternoon light.
“I didn’t think you’d want one of those big diamonds that are always catching on everything. These… these are nice stones though.” He cleared his throat.
It was actually just the kind of ring she would want the man she loved to give her. But not like this. She took a breath. “Kemble, you don’t want to marry me.” It took all the courage she had to speak those words.
“But I do,” he protested. “You’re perfect. You’re smart. You’re a calming influence on the family, especially the younger ones.” His voice softened. “And marrying me will give you a place, Jane. Let me take care of you.”
She couldn’t marry Kemble when he didn’t love her. That would be too selfish.
He put the box with the ring on the dashboard and took both her hands in his larger ones. After the shock that went straight to her groin and the points of her breasts, what she noticed was that the warmth, the slight moisture born of his anxiety, enveloped her with his inherent goodness. She felt…maybe not loved, but at least treasured. “I need you, Jane,” he said. “And I think you need me too. Sometimes life just provides solutions we aren’t expecting.”
The words were simple, spoken from his heart. He needed her. It was the one ploy that might get her to agree to this. She couldn’t bear how unhappy he’d been lately. Maybe this solution freed him from the razor-sharp pain of wondering if magic would ever happen for him, thinking he’d never be good enough. She wanted to believe that, because suddenly, she wanted to throw all sense and caution off the cliffs at the Breakers and accept him. Married to Kemble Tremaine, just as she’d dreamed since she was fourteen. A real member of the Tremaine family, with a right to make tira misu for their dinner or cut fresh flowers for the table.
There was another problem. “What if you find your destined love after we’re married?”
“Never going to happen.” He shrugged as though it didn’t matter to him. But in his blue eyes she saw that it did. He wasn’t over mourning his loss yet.
But maybe someday he could be. Maybe time would heal his regret. Maybe they could have something together, if not true love, then companionship, respect. That was more than she was like to have any other way. “You have to promise me something, Kemble Tremaine.”
He didn’t mean that, of course. He couldn’t give her the one thing she really wanted. And God, he was so close to her, he was overwhelming any sense she had at all.
“Promise that if you ever do find the one really meant for you, you’ll tell me. I’ll set you free the next moment with no regrets.” Well, none she wouldn’t have anyway, whether she married him or not. She’d always regret he didn’t love her.
His brows drew together sharply. He really hadn’t thought this out, had he?
Finally he nodded. “Okay.” He cleared his throat. “Does that mean you will do me the honor of being my wife?”
God help her. She nodded.




About The author

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Susan SquiresSince beginning her career in 2000 with Danegeld, which won a Golden Heart for best unpublished manuscript from Romance Writers of America, Susan has published seventeen novels and three novellas in collections with Dorchester Publishing and St. Martin’s Press, as well as self-publishing three books and a novella in The Children of Merlin Series. She’s been a finalist in the Rita contest for Best Romance Novel and garnered several Reviewer’s Choice awards from Romantic Times BookReviews. Publisher’s Weekly named Body Electric one of the ten most influential mass-market books of 2003 and One with the Shadows a Best Book of Year. Her work has appeared on the New York Times and USA Today Best Sellers lists. She’s known for breaking the rules of romance writing, and whatever her subject, historical period, or theme, her work always contains some element of the paranormal.


Susan is graciously offering a paper copy (ebook- International) of any 1 book -winner’s choice- from The Magic Series to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

The Magic Series

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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6. Giveaway: Paper copy (USA/Canada only) : ebook copy (International)

7. Giveaway runs from September 12-17, 2014


The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton-a review

THE MINIATURIST by Jessie Burton-a review

The Miniaturist / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date August 26, 2014

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam-a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion-a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…”

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .


REVIEW: THE MINIATURIST is an historical fiction storyline set in seventeenth century Amsterdam. Told from close third person POV, this is the story of newlywed Petronella Oortman –an eighteen year old young woman whose new and much older husband –merchant trader-Johannes Brandt is emotionally distant but not unkind. As the days blend into weeks Nella learns there are secrets within the Brandt household that will change her life forever. But a gift from her husband of a miniature replica of their home will begin to foretell of a dark and dangerous future. With each new miniature piece that arrives, Nella fears that someone is watching their every move.

The storyline follows a few months in the life of Petronella Oortman Brandt whose relationship with her husband is a matter of convenience. Left alone to her own devices, Nella begins to uncover family secrets hidden behind closed doors and secret rooms. Johannes reputation as a trader has garnered him a few loyal followers but it is his dalliances on the side that will see the beginning of the end. A negotiated promise of sales fails to produce the desired results.

THE MINIATURIST is a storyline that is set in 1686 around the time of the sugar cane plantation exploitation and slavery in the British West Indies. As the Dutch begin to import the candied sweet the business of trading and selling is one of critical survival. Here in lies a part of the storyline where Johannes Brandt’s personal and private life become fodder for public consumption-the politics and religion of the time will show no mercy.


Johanne’s sister Marin plays a major role throughout the storyline but like Johanne she is emotionally distant and lacks any sort of literary color. Most of the household members remain static in their development but Johanne’s one time friends will play a role in his downfall. It is not until the end of the story that we get a glimpse into the Brandt family dynamics and the darker secrets that they share. 

THE MINIATURIST is a dark and dramatic tale about family, betrayal, love and loss. It is a tragic look at life in the 1600s-from slavery to racism; judgment and religion; health, welfare and survival in a world where people have set themselves upon a pedestal of unreachable heights. The miniaturist is always in the background but never thoroughly explored–there are so many unanswered questions as to the who and why of the miniaturist’s involvement in the story-for all intents and purposes another storyline is required to clear up some of the mystery and to acknowledge to what purpose the miniaturist played in their lives. There is a hint of the paranormal with the miniaturist’s prophetic gifts.

Copy supplied by the publisher.

Reviewed by Sandy


The Lover’s Secret / The Lover’s Game (No Exceptions #1 & 2) by J.C.Reed-Reviews

The Lover’s Secret / The Lover’s Game (No Exceptions #1 & #2) by J.C.Reed-Reviews and Giveaway


The Lover's Secret Banner

The Lover’s Secret
No Exceptions #1
by J.C. Reed
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic romance, suspense
Release Date: August 5, 2014

The Lover's Secret / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date August 5, 2014

When a sexy encounter comes like a dream and leaves like a nightmare…

Brooke Stewart thinks she’s finally safe. After witnessing the crime of a killer, she can move on from her past. But after one night at the Trio Hotel and meeting the sexy stranger with the green eyes that can steal one’s soul, her life is changed forever. Passions run deep. The game is supposed to be for one night with no strings attached.

What she doesn’t know is that the sexy stranger has an agenda of his own. Brooke Stewart has something he desperately wants, something he can’t admit to the woman he tries to get to surrender. A secret so deep it would upend her life if she found out too soon. He’s almost reached his goal, and then she gets a letter she was not meant to read. Suddenly, secrets get a completely new meaning.

Is the past really ever the past?


REVIEW: THE LOVER’S SECRET is the first instalment in J.C.Reed’s adult, contemporary No Exceptions erotic romance series-a spin off from her popular Surrender Your Love series. THE LOVER’S SECRET is the continuing story of Brooke and Jett-one where secrets are revealed and betrayal is at the heart of an emotional breakdown and an impossible future-a story of forbidden love that has all the elements of deceit, betrayal and a feeling of hopelessness.

J.C.Reed pulls the reader into an unforgettable story of suspense, mystery, romance and love but a love that may very well be based on a lie. Brooke’s issues of trust come to the forefront as the evening’s events culminate in a mysterious letter, a lover’s kiss and the knowledge that she is no longer safe and assured about her future.

THE LOVER’S SECRET is an intense, dramatic and captivating introduction to J.C.Reed’s No Exceptions series and the continuing story of Jett and Brooke. We are witness to a passionate affair between two people whose lives have been destroyed by disbelief, distrust and uncertainty. When Jett asks for Brooke’s promise, she soon realizes that there is more to the promise than words could ever tell. Words are deceptive especially when followed by actions that are counterproductive to the promises made.

The storyline covers but a few hours in their lives, spent mostly in the bedroom or having sex but it is after they go their separate ways, does the real story begin. Lies, betrayal and the heartbreaking reality that everything between two people could have been a lie.

J.C.Reed is an amazing storyteller-she will pull you in and suck you under. There are twists and turns to a relationship that has barely survived and with the latest revelations there may be no hope for the future.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy


The Lover’s Game
No Exceptions #2
by J.C. Reed
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic romance
Release Date: September 9, 2014

The Lover's / KOBO /

When love is a game…

After having her heart broken, Brooke tries to rebuild her life and closes herself off from the one man she loved deeply.

When she meets Grayson, a photographer, she has no idea that her new boss will offer her more than she bargained for. The pay is great, her new friends more than welcoming and everything seems to be running well…until everyone insists she find herself a new suitor during a night out.

Jett knows how to play games. He is used to getting attention from everyone except the beautiful dark haired woman who doesn’t like to be fooled with and doesn’t trust him as far as she can spit. He wants Brooke but, more than that, he wants to own her, and the only way to get her is to make her owe him…against her will.

And what Jett owns, Jett keeps forever.


REVIEW: THE LOVER’S GAME is the second instalment in J.C.Reed’s No Exceptions series continuing the story of Brooke and Jett that began in her popular SURRENDER YOUR LOVE series. Part two follows Brooke as she endeavors to start her life anew now that she has walked away from the only man she has ever love. Betrayal and heartbreak follow Brooke just as she learns to love again.

The storyline continues immediately on the heels of The Lover’s Secret. As Brooke and Jett continue to rekindle their relationship, Brooke is blindsided when she discovers that Jett has not only lied but has betrayed and humiliated Brooke with his dishonesty and secrets. Brooke sets out to even the score only to realize that her thoughts continually go back to Jett.

THE LOVER’S GAME main focus is on Brooke. Because the novel has been broken down into novella size storylines in serial format, the premise finds Brooke pondering her future – alone. As she attempts to set into motion a new path, she finds herself, yet again, the victim of betrayal and revenge. Trust must be earned and everyone she meets is not worthy of her trust. Our heroine places herself into some precarious situations and revenge is the first thing on her mind.

J.C.Reed spins a tale of anguish and pain. There are no romantic overtures or sensual seductions. Part two is a building block into the next instalment.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy




over,” I whispered, more to myself than to him. “You can’t have me anymore. You
can’t sleep with me anymore. In fact, I’d rather you just left and never
contacted me again.”He let out
an annoyed sigh and pushed his fingers through his dark hair just as I had done
the previous night when he had pinned me to the floor. “The last time I
checked, we were still together.”“Then I am
ending things right now.” Another sharp pang of pain hit my chest. I turned my
gaze to the shaggy rug beneath my feet so I wouldn’t have to see his
expression. “Can you please leave now?”As if
sensing that I needed space, he walked back to the open window and leaned
against the wall, facing me. “I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s going
on.” His voice was calm, but the dangerous undertones didn’t escape my
attention.I looked up
at him. His face was as hard as stone, and his eyes shimmered with something I
couldn’t pinpoint. “You know damn right what’s going on.”“I actually
don’t.” He pulled his eyebrows together again and let out an annoyed sigh. “Why
don’t you enlighten me, Brooke?” His hard smile belied his anger.My pulse
began to race, but it wasn’t from the physical attraction that was still
palpable in the air. Jett was playing games again, and this time it was the
clueless card, but I could see through his pretense—more so because I had seen
it coming. The thought that he thought he could lie right to my face infuriated

right, you do,” I said through gritted teeth, suppressing the wish to throw
something else at him. “I don’t trust you as far as I can spit.”

He inched
closer and grabbed my hand. I drew back before he could pull me to him and
before his hard body could envelope me, soothing me the way only Jett knew how.

Another annoyed sigh. “Can you please, for one moment, sit down and explain to
me what’s going on? The last time you broke things off, you didn’t have a
freaking choice, but this time? Forgive me for asking, but I’m confused.” His
voice was hard, his expression detached. I had never seen his stunning green
eyes devoid of warmth, and it scared me. His attitude suggested that I was the
enemy, as if I was the one causing him

“What is
there to explain?” I started. “I know.”

“What do
you know?” He sounded so sincere I laughed bitterly. He wasn’t just a good
liar; he was an excellent one, who could have probably fooled any lie detector.

I shook my
head as I stared him down. “I know everything,

“What do
you mean?” He sighed. “What exactly do you
think you know?”


About The Author Black and Red

JC ReedFollow:Facebook / Goodreads / BlogTwitter

J.C. Reed is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of SURRENDER YOUR LOVE and CONQUER YOUR LOVE. She writes steamy contemporary fiction with a touch of mystery. When she’s not typing away on her keyboard, forgetting the world around her, she dreams of returning to the beautiful mountains of Wyoming. You can also find her chatting on Facebook with her readers or spending time with her two children.



Surrender Your Love Series

Surrender Your Love: / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

Conquer Your Love: / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

Treasure Your Love: / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /



J.C. is generously offering the ebook trilogy-SURRENDER YOUR LOVE (Books 1-3) and an ebook copy of THE LOVER’S SECRET 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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4. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. Follow us on Goodreads

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7. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.

8. Giveaway runs from September 11 to 16, 2014

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Under His Protection (Red Stone Security #9) by Katie Reus-a review

UNDER HIS PROTECTION (Red Stone Security #9) by Katie Reus-a review

Under His Protection / / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 1, 2014

Julieta’s stalker doesn’t play by the rules

Lingerie shop owner Julieta Mederos has worked hard to get her business off the ground. Now she’s looking forward to some quality time with her friends and her big, boisterous family. But explicit texts from random phone numbers and vandalism at her shop makes it clear someone dangerous has fixated on her. Without any solid leads, the police can’t help her and she’s forced to turn to the last man she wants to depend on.

…but neither does Ivan.

Former Army Ranger and newest Red Stone Security employee Ivan Mitchell has gotten used to being alone in the world. He never even thinks about it anymore—until he meets sexy, independent Julieta. She’s everything he could ever want…but she seems determined to keep him at arm’s length. Until now. Maybe the cops can’t do anything to protect her, but he can. When things escalate faster than even he expected, he finds himself pulling out his most extreme combat skills to protect her. He’ll do what it takes to save her life—and prove to her she belongs in his.

REVIEW: UNDER HIS PROTECTION is the ninth instalment in Katie Reus’s contemporary, adult Red Stone Security romantic suspense series focusing on the men and women who work for RSS. This is lingerie shop owner Juieta Mederos and Ivan Mitchell-Red Stone Security’s newest employee -storyline. Under His Protection can be read as a stand alone.

Told from several close third person POVs, the storyline focuses on the mysterious threats and phone calls against Julieta Mederos. Julieta has a stalker and doesn’t know who or why. Having met two months earlier, and believing Ivan wanted nothing to do with her, Julieta is reluctant to accept Ivan’s assistance until her stalker’s threats become more sexually explicit and physical. With Ivan working the investigation everyone becomes a suspect.

Julieta and Ivan were first introduced two months earlier through a mutual ‘friend’ Mina (RSS #8) whose fiancé –Alexander Blue- works for RSS. As Mina’s bodyguard Ivan will get up close and personal with Mina’s friends including Julieta Mederos. Ivan’s attraction to Julieta is immediate but he bides his time waiting for an opportunity. When the threats against Julieta escalate, Ivan becomes her protector both at her business and at home, while losing his heart at the same time. Julieta is an independent young woman who knows that without Ivan’s help, she may not live to see another day. The relationship and love is quick to develop but we do learn a little bit about each of their backgrounds-from childhood to present day.

The secondary characters include a few of the characters from previous Red Stone Security storylines. We are introduced to Julieta’s large extended family as well as her employee Ruby who may have a storyline in the future.

UNDER HIS PROTECTION is a fast paced story of romance and suspense. Katie pulls the reader into a sensual, passionate and intense tale where two people find one another under dark and dangerous circumstances. The Red Stone Security series is addicting, captivating and worth the time to read.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy