Archives for October 2011

Review: The Sinner

Reviewed by Jen

Alex MacDonald loves the ladies. And why shouldn’t he? He fights hard and plays hard too. He never wants to marry; he doesn’t believe any woman could ever hold his heart… until he meets Glynis.

Though most Highland women want a husband, one marriage was more than enough for Glynis. Her first husband was a nightmare. He treated her cruelly and openly kept mistresses. When she could take it no more, Glynis left him with a dirk in his leg and vowed never to wed again. But her father has other ideas. He is pushing her so hard to remarry, that she blackmails Alex into helping her run away.

Though Glynis and Alex both oppose marriage, they don’t hold the same reservations about sex.. And their trip to Edinburgh has plenty of that. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before that translates into something more.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit. Alex was suave and sexy and it was charming to watch him fumble about as he learned to be in a relationship. The love scenes are good –and I’m always a sucker for a good brogue. Plus, this was a couple easy to root for… especially once a child was brought into the story.

And then came The Big Misunderstanding. I hate these. And it was made worse, because it was so obvious that something like this would happen. Glynis went on and on about how she could never forgive infidelity. It was such an issue, there was no doubt in my mind that somehow she would end up thinking Alex cheated. It was very frustrating –and disappointing– that this progressed in the predictable fashion. And it was a shame because I was pretty invested in the story by then –and I liked it. Grr.

I was satisfied by the end. It didn’t quite live up to its potential, but it had a lot of action, some pretty good steam, and a healthy dose of heart. A little less than 4 stars.

P.S. This is the 2nd book in Anne Mallory’s Return of the Highlanders series.  It was designed to be read after The Guardian, but works easily as a standalone.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
The Sinner
by Margaret Mallory
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Publisher: Forever (GCP)

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop features more than 400 blogs which are giving away books or gift cards in a contest that runs from October 24-31, 2011.

I want to give you the book you want!! For a prize, the winner can select any book from the Book Depository, valued up to $10.  This contest is open internationally, to all Red Hot Books followers. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Then click here to check out the other great blogs participating in the hop.

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Review: Ripe for Scandal

Reviewed by Jen

Gareth Sandison is in love with his best friend’s little sister, Beau. But as a second son, he knows the lady is out of his reach.  Beau has other ideas.  She wants Gareth for her own, and when he saves her from a kidnapping attempt, she grasps her opportunity to have him.

The two decide to wed in order to keep Beau’s reputation intact –and it works for the most part.  But swooping in on a friend’s sister is a cardinal sin among gentlemen and the marriage leaves Gareth ostracized among his buddies.  The love is there for our couple and so is some pretty rockin’ sex… but they aren’t without problems.  In addition to Gareth losing his friends, they must also deal with a revenge plot against Beau and the appearance of Gareth’s bastard nephew, who his brother refuses to claim.

The baby is where the book lost me.  I kind of like the idea of our hero and heroine banding together to thumb their nose at society.  They were a united force (who entertained me with steamy love scenes.)  But Gareth’s willingness to break Beau’s heart to perpetrate his brother’s lies completely alienated me.  It was totally unnecessary.  Even if he wanted to maintain the pretense to the outside world, lying to Beau was inexcusable.  She handled it better than anyone could expect, but when the truth comes out and she apologizes for being a bad wife… she lost me too.

The first half of the book was pretty enjoyable… and I was satisfied by the time we got to the ending.  But the baby plot device/ secret/ misunderstanding was a big fail.  3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Ripe for Scandal
by Isobel Car
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Series Reading Order: Jane True

This is the reading order for the Jane True series by Nicole Peeler:

Review: Finding Samantha

Reviewed by Jen

It’s been two years since Samantha’s husband was killed in the line of duty.  But even now, she can’t seem to pull herself together. Everything reminds her of him. She cries all the time; she’s even left her job on the police force.  Desperate for a change, she decides to leave her old life in New York behind… and move south to work as a ranch-hand in North Carolina.

There, she meets Ma and Pops, who run Rolling Hills Ranch, as well as the five men she’ll be working with. Sam hits it off with Dan right away, and he’s pretty taken with her. But it’s Luke who ends up knocking her off her feet. Of course, Sam fights her immediate attraction to Luke, feeling as though it’s a betrayal of her late husband. She can’t resist his charms, however, and the evolution of their relationship makes up the bulk of the story.

The book is rich in characters. Each of the ranch-hands has his own story to tell.  They all have unique and distinctive personalities, but make up a ragtag family to Sam and each other. The last quarter of the book changes gear with developments that were in some ways expected, but pushed to an extreme I didn’t foresee.

The story itself with pretty good, but predictable at times. The initial degree of attraction and the eventual falling in love happened with a magnitude and speed which were too great for my taste. I would have felt a lot better about how it all played out if more time passed during the course of the story, even if some of it happened off page. There were times I felt like there could have been more subtlety in both the dialogue and the way the inevitable played out. I also must note that there were about a dozen spelling and punctuation errors.

But it was a pleasant read. The characterization was good and consistent; the writing was clear and easy to understand.  And I see potential for how the author could build on what she’s already created in future books.

*Review copy provided by author

Click to purchase: Amazon
Finding Samantha
by Megan Grooms
Release Date: March 2011
Publisher: Tease Publishing

Review: Redemption

Reviewed by Jen

Adriano is a jaguar shifter living in exile. He was cast out from his people five years ago. But he believes if he can uncover an ancient artifact of his people, he can use it to return to their good graces. He has worked his way onto the dig site where the artifact is hidden and he is getting closer to it everyday.

He is also getting closer to Sophie, one of the archaeologists at the site. He feels an attraction to her that he’s never felt for a human before. He makes his move and they hook up. But before the relationship can go any further, other shifters begin to show up, placing his mission –and their lives– in danger.

The sex is good. The story is… ok. The book is really more of a novella, and it isn’t very fleshed out. The sexual pull –the animal attraction– is easy to connect with. But it’s harder to see the foundation for real feelings between these two. They basically just have a handful of conversations, when they aren’t going at it (or running for their lives.) It’s short and sexy… basically a fun way to spend an hour or two. 3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
by Eleri Stone
Release Date: September 26, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press

Review: Drink Deep

Reviewed by Jen

If you’re a fan of the Chicagoland Vampires series and you haven’t read this book yet, there’s only one reason you are reading this review. You want to know if somehow… some way… Ethan comes back. Well, let me address this right off the bat. There is no way in hell I am going to answer that. Come on, guys, it’s about the journey, not the destination!

Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that I did alot of crying. Again. It’s been two month since the events of Hard Bitten, and Merit is grieving. But she is also Sentinal to the Cadogen House and it’s a responsibility that she still holds dear. So slowly, she is trying to pull herself together enough to do her job. Jonah, the Captain of the Guards from Grey House, is there to help her. He’s serving as makeshift partner, but there are hints he would like to be more.

Cadogen is in disarray. The big vampire council has sent someone to reorganize the House and it’s clear the guy’s not there to help, but to undermine everything Ethan has built. Still, Cadogen doesn’t have much choice but to take it.

Merit is served up a distraction from her personal problems, when yet another supernatural problem begins brewing in the Windy City. It starts with the lake turning into a magic-sucking abyss and escalates from there. The vampires aren’t to blame, but hostility is growing among humans toward the supes so Merit hopes to fix the problem before her people are blamed by the public.

I’m not going to tell you anything else, plotwise, although it’s tempting. I am, however, going to try to address a couple of things in broad strokes. Very early on, I had a pretty strong feeling about who was causing the problems. But despite the fact that it felt a little predictable, I might have been ok with it, until the why of it was introduced. The why-part seemed wrong… a little contrived, even. And I hate to say that, because there were alot of things I really loved in this book.

We got the chance to learn more about the other supernatural races in the context of this world: from the nymphs and sirens to the Fae and, well, whatever the heck Tate is. I loved Luc and Lindsay. I loved Malik. And Jonah. But even in his abscense, Ethan’s prescence is deeply felt… both by Merit and by me, as a reader. There a great deal of emotional resonance in this book and the big theme is loyalty: what it means to the different characters and whether they manage to hold on to it.

I’m going to give it a little more than 4 stars. I would have given it more, truly, if it weren’t for the problems I had with the villain reveal. But definitely a must-read for any fan of the series.

*ARC Provided by NAL

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Drink Deep
by Chloe Neill
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: NAL

AAD Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Megan Grooms

Our latest AAD Author Spotlight features Megan Grooms.  Megan is a small press romance author.  Her first book, Finding Samantha, is a contemporary romance, published in March 2011.  She has two short stories out. “Handsome Stranger” is one. The other,  “Hestia’s Vacation,” is part of the anthology Love’s Immortal Pantheon, Volume 5.  Megan was kind enough to visit the blog today to tell us a little about herself and her work. Check it out:

Jen: Tell us a bit about Finding Samantha.

Megan: Well, Sam is a police officer from NY who had been married to another officer until he was killed on the job. Two years later she decides it’s time for a change and goes back to what she loved when she was younger, horses. She gets a job on a ranch in NC where she meets Luke. The two are attracted to each other right away however both are a little cautious.

Jen: I know you are planning future books featuring some of the other men on the ranch. Do you know whose story you would like to tell next?

Megan: I am working on John’s book right now. He’s proving a little difficult but I’ll get his story told.

Jen: In Finding Samantha, your love of animals shines through. Let’s talk a little about your “day job.”

Megan: I work at an animal hospital during the day and I do enjoy all kinds of animals though no snakes or spiders. I have five dogs and three cats myself. The dog in this story is actually based on my dog Zeus. I put him in it from the beginning and when I was halfway through the book he passed away unexpectedly. I’m very glad that I had put him in it. Now I get to visit him in all the books.

Jen: You’ve said that you have interest in more than one genre. Which one is your favorite to write and why?

Megan: I had never really read romance until I met Cara North. Her books brought me into the world of romance so well that I had to write my own. I really enjoy urban fantasy however. I have always loved people with special powers, be it Demons, Angels, Vampires or Werewolves.

Jen: When people see your name on a book, what should they be expecting?

Megan: I’m a sucker for happy endings with characters you can really get a feel for and connect with. I enjoy writing my characters so much that I can’t help fall in love along with them. So people can expect sweet romantic stories with characters that you will want to learn more about and want them to be together in the end. Though I do always want a little action so somewhere in the book there will be some kind of conflict or action based scene.

Jen: What can we look forward from you in the future?

Megan: Well I am working on the second book in Rolling Hills, I am also trying to pitch an idea for an urban fantasy series that I have been working on for a long time. Hopefully that will be picked up sometime soon. I also have short stories that I have been putting out between my Rolling Hills ones.

Jen: What are you looking forward to most from AAD in New Orleans this year?

Megan: I’m really excited to see New Orleans I’ve never been there and I can’t wait to go on the outings with authors that write about that area. I love all of AAD, meeting new people and just sharing a love of books with like minded people.

You can find Megan Grooms on her website and on Twitter!

We’re giving away a free ebook of Megan’s cowboy romance Finding Samantha. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below.  The contest is open internationally. If you give the book a try and you like it, please spread the word and post a review somewhere. Let’s support our small press authors!

Review: Bayou Moon

Reviewed by Jen

We first met William in On the Edge. He is a changeling, a shapeshifter, who has been rejected his entire life. He was given up at birth, raised in a heartless facility, then forced into military service. He is estranged from his only friend, Declan, and he simply doesn’t believe that he’ll ever have love or a family of his own.

He’s been living in the Edge for two years now, largely cut off from his old life. But he is pulled back in, when given the chance to finally track down and kill his old nemesis, the Spider. That mission takes him into the bayous of the Mire and it’s there he meets Cerise.

Cerise has her own issues to deal with. Her parents have been kidnapped. The Spider is responsible, which gives her and William a common enemy. There’s a lot more going on…. a family feud between Cerise’s people and a neighboring clan, a mysterious monster, a secret journal. But the the single biggest draw in the book is William. He is such a heartbreaking tortured hero. Watching his tentative steps towards a relationship with Cerise is riveting. Seeing him find his first feelings of happiness is lovely. And getting the payoff on the phenomenal sexual tension was awesome. (A very, very satisfying love scene.)

But there were times I got lost. There were too many characters. I understand that it’s sort of the point that Cerise’s clan was really, really big. But it was really hard to keep track of everyone. And once we started learning the names and skill sets for the Spider’s enhanced soldiers, my retention skills were kaput. I applaud the idea of big and sweeping world-building in theory, but I just couldn’t keep up in some parts, which took me out of the moment more than once. It was also hard to keep track of the geography in my head.

It was still good. Especially the parts of the story that focused on Cerise and William. It was also a treat to revisit Declan, Rose and the boys to see how they are doing. 4 stars.

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository

Bayou Moon
by Ilona Andrews
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Publisher: Ace

Series Reading Order: The Edge

This is the reading order for The Edge series by Ilona Andrews: