Archives for May 2012

Review: A Blood Seduction

Reviewed by Jen

I should tell you this right off the bat: I found this book disturbing.  I did not like the hero. I did not want him to end up with the heroine.  I did not like the world in which it was set.  And I almost did not finish it.  The writing was good. The author definitely drew me in and made me feel things.  They were just things I’d rather not feel when I’m reading a book.

The heroine is Quinn. For a while now, she has been plagued with visions of a shimmer in the atmosphere and glimpses of a dark world that mirrors her own.  Through a series of events, she and her brother Zack are pulled into that alternate world and what they find there is horrifying.  It’s a city designed to be a vampire haven.  The vamps run the show, keeping humans as slaves. Quinn and Zack are separated almost immediately and Quinn spends the rest of the book fixated on how she will rescue her brother.

The vampire who captures Quinn is Arturo.  His vampire species feeds on emotion as well as blood.  Arturo’s delicacy is fear, though others feed on pain or other emotions.  Right away, Arturo realizes there is something different about Quinn. She is immune to his mind control, which makes her interesting.  We learn Arturo is planning to make her into one of his blood and sex slaves, using her once every four days to slake his desires.  Obviously, Quinn’s not on board with the plan –and frankly, this was point I started to worry about whether I could get behind Arturo as a hero.  (After all, he’ll be using his other slaves for the same purposes on the other days of the week.)

There are times he is less of a turn-off than others.  That is to say, he is sexy and seductive and he doesn’t seek to hurt his slaves. But if that’s the best thing you can say about your hero, there’s a problem. I can just imagine the internal monologue: He’s not as bad as the other vamps.  You know, like that Christoff guy who puts a spiked sleeve on his dick before he rapes his slaves. The guy who gets off on their pain while he, er, gets off.  Yeah, Arturo would never do that. Quinn should totally fall in love with him. Um. No.

Arturo wants her to be his property.  That never changes at any time.  His allegiance is –and will always be– to his sire, Christoff (see spiked dick sleeve story above.)  And he is willing to put Quinn in that monster’s hands.  He is willing to lie to her, to betray her.  But he won’t rape her. Wow. There’s a ringing endorsement.  He doesn’t beat her, but he’ll stand by while others do.  He is simply less horrible than the other horrible characters.  That is just not a good enough reason for her to have any tender feelings for him, nor any loyalty, and certainly not any sexual interest.

The entire vamp culture was for me, in a word, irredeemable.  And just when I thought there was a shred of something decent in Arturo at the very end… there wasn’t.  He wants Quinn. He doesn’t love her. He doesn’t put her before the monsters all around him.  He unabashedly does what serves himself and his master.  I am baffled how anyone could root for a relationship to develop between him and Quinn in this book or any other to come.

The constant abuse of the humans in this world included rape, beatings, forced feedings, burning, draining, slave auctions and gladiator games.   And it’s completely unapologetic. I just… didn’t enjoy it.  But if you like the idea of a dark world like this one, the book may suit you better.Rating: D

*ARC Provided by Avon 

Click to purchase: Amazon
  A Blood Seduction
by Pamela Palmer
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Publisher: Avon

5 For Friday – May 25

Wow! Is it Friday already?  It’s been a busy week for me, which I guess made the days fly by.  The hubs is back from his trip to Miami.  Baseball season has (thankfully) come to a close for my son. And now the kids are spending the long weekend with Grandma in New Orleans.  So PARTY AT MY HOUSE.  Of course, by that I mean “more time to read.”  Let’s get to it!

5. My plan to read Armed & Dangerous this week was a success. It was so good! Now, I am putting all my Ty & Zane excitement into the next book.  Stars & Stripes comes out August 13!! I am beside myself that it’s releasing so soon.  The publisher is changing. I don’t know what’s up with that, but here’s the blurb:

Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have managed the impossible: a few months of peace and quiet. After nearly a year of personal and professional turmoil, they’re living together conflict-free, work is going smoothly, and they’re both happy, healthy, and home every night before dark. But anyone who knows them knows that can’t possibly last.

When an emergency call from home upsets the balance of their carefully arranged world, Ty and Zane must juggle family drama with a perplexing crime to save a helpless victim before time runs out.

From the mountains of West Virginia to a remote Texas horse ranch harboring more than just livestock and childhood memories, Ty and Zane must face their fears—and their families—to overcome an unlikely enemy and bring peace back into their newly shared world.

4. The book trailer is out for Gena Showalter’s latest!  Wicked Nights is the first in her new Lords of the Underworld spinoff series, Angels of the Dark.   The cover is smoking-hot, no?

Wicked Nights is out June 26th.

3. Biting Cold is still more than two months away but Chloe Neill is already gearing up for the next book in her Chicagoland Vampires series with her new cover reveal.

House Rules is scheduled for release in February 2013.

2. Most of you know that I have not read the 50 Shades books, but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy this dramatic reading from the cast of Snow White & the Huntsman.  Funny –especially when Chris Hemsworth realizes what he’s reading and tosses the book away in horror.

1. And finally, the Tumblr Photo of the Week.  (If you click on it, it gets bigger.)

(**Photo removed to prevent copyright infringement**)

Have a great weekend!

XOXO
Jen

Review: Mind Magic

Reviewed by Jen

Simon is a mage-in-training who has been told his entire life that the different supernatural species should never mix.  But when his mind hears the cries of kidnapped werewolf cubs, he simply can’t ignore them.  Simon tracks down the children and saves them from a demon feeding on their energies.  It’s not until he returns the cubs to their alpha, however, that things really start to get interesting.

Gray is wary of Simon when he first arrives at the keep, but his son is so enamored of his rescuer that he knows he must give him a chance. There’s also an undeniable sexual attraction he must contend with.  Simon is intent on going back to his life and his mage apprenticeship, but he has formed a connection with Gray’s son.  And when the boy suffers lingering effects from his attack, it’s Simon he calls to again for help.

Simon’s selflessness and dedication to the children turns him into a friend of the pack.  He ends up working with the wolves to find the demon who kidnapped the kids. In the meantime, he explores his feelings for Gray and tries to figure out where his loyalties lie among the supernatural species.

I liked the beginning of the book and thought it was an interesting premise. Simon’s a likeable guy and the sexual tension with Gray was pretty hot. But then it went from zero to 100 in about five seconds. That is to say, Gray and Simon went from flirty looks to naked on the floor before my eyes could even focus.  A little more build would have been nice, and I thought it was crazy how fast Gray threw out the “mate” card.  The pacing of the relationship was uneven and it detracted from my connection to the characters.

The villain was easy to spot from the first time we met him, which was disappointing.  What made it even worse, was that once his identity was revealed, we were left with huge hanging threads.  I needed a better explanation on how and why he did what he did. Not only that, but what was the deal with the Mage Council?  What was the villain’s connection to the demon?  Was Simon always a target?  I could go on.  Basically, I felt like the conclusion was weak and in great need of more development.

There were some things I liked. The sex was hot.  The world-building was interesting. And the writing was conversational and engaging.  But overall, the book didn’t live up to its promise for me.

Rating: C-

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
  Mind Magic
by Poppy Dennison
Release Date: April 23, 2012
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

AAD Author Spotlight: Shayla Black

She’s a New York Times best-seller and she knows how to spice things up! Please help us welcome Shayla Black to the blog today!

Jen: I really enjoy the Doomsday Brethren series! It seems like forever since we’ve heard from these guys. Can you give us a little hint about what we can expect in Embrace Me at Dawn?
Shayla: More of everything! More adventure, more heat, more eye-popping moments. As I’ve been writing this book, I’ve said, “OMG, did that REALLY just happen?” more than once. I’m super excited about how this book has been shaping up.
Jen: I know Anka is supposed to be with Lucan, but will poor Shock ever find his own happiness? (Clearly, I am convinced he is one of the good guys.)
Shayla: Shock definitely has a story to tell…eventually.
Jen: When we get to Bram’s book, will we get the backstory we missed on him and his mysterious mate?
Shayla: Yes! In fact, you’ll get a little bit about her in EMBRACE ME AT DAWN. There’s a lot there that the reader—and Bram himself—doesn’t know.
Jen: Can you tell us a little about Project Alpha?
Shayla: Not too much, as I haven’t started writing yet. But they will be very sexy romantic suspenses about a very different breed of soldier facing a whole lot of danger to both the world and their hearts.
Jen: You write so many different kinds of romance books, with varying degrees of heat and sexual adventure. Do you have a favorite kind of book to write? Stand-alones, series, spicy, romantic?
Shayla: No, I really just write what’s capturing my imagination. Contractually, I have to write books in a certain order, but I made the decision to write each of these books because they grabbed me and made me smile or cry or clap or squirm in my chair. I can’t write something I’m not excited about.
Jen: At what point in your career did you finally feel like you’d “made it” as an author?
Shayla: I wouldn’t say that I really feel that I’ve “made it” even now. My job is to sit in front of my computer every day and type out the stories in my head. I truly enjoy the interaction on my Facebook fan page and the role play pages for both the Doomsday Brethren and Wicked Lovers series. Hitting the New York Times was a definite thrill. But I’m always aware that my job isn’t really about what I’ve written in the past, but what I’m going to write now and tomorrow. I simply think in terms of maintaining good work habits and hopefully more readers finding me so that my career can grow.
Jen: I’m sure you get a lot of feedback from your fans. What effect does fan response have on you personally and as a writer?
Shayla: Some emails from fans have touched me deeply. I’ve been told that I’ve saved relationships and helped people through personally difficult times. People have written to tell me that they’ve discovered things about themselves by reading my books or that they’ve found a deeper connect with their partner by reading my books together with them. I’ve had hate mail, love mail, and prison mail. People have told me what I’ve done right and wrong, in their estimation. In all cases, I figure that if I made the reader feel something, I did my job. I used to let negativity bother me, but the truth really is, not every book or every author is for every person. Every author has themes and characters that resonate for them. Some readers will understand them and others won’t. Frankly, there’s a book and an author for every reader out there. It may or may not be me. I accept that. The best thing I can do for the readers who do like what I write is to continue to be me and minimize the distractions. Trying to cater to readers for whom I’m just not their cup of tea is a waste of everyone’s time..
Jen: What is the draw for you to attend fan events and reader conventions?
Shayla: I love opportunities to connect with readers. Many writers are introverts, but I’m a people person, and I take many chances every year to meet readers and just have fun. Attending conferences like this are a great way to meet new people you’ll instantly have something in common with: love of books!
Jen: What are looking forward to most about AAD in NOLA this summer?
Shayla: The people, the parties, and the fun! It will be my first time to AAD, and I’m planning to make the most of it.
Jen: Thank you so very much for visiting the blog! I can’t wait to meet in New Orleans!
Shayla: Thanks for much for having me here. I’m looking forward to meeting in New Orleans, too.

To learn more about Shayla Black you can visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

Welcome Allison!

As I first told you yesterday, two new Associate Reviewers are joining Red Hot Books.  Now Allison is here to introduce herself. Please help me welcome her to the blog! And if you haven’t met Shelly yet, drop by and say hi!

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Hello, readers! A little about me:

I was born in Wisconsin but am a solid Ohioan at heart, I love Fall in the Midwest! I’ve been married to the love of my life for four years & look forward to building a family with him. He’s from Peru so we speak both English and Spanish at home. My mom is a French teacher, so I grew up with English & French at home – no surprise I love listening to & learning new languages!

I worked at the Public Library for most of my professional life but have recently moved into the corporate world & work as an site integrated planner for CoverGirl; essentially I’m the one who says what mascara to make, how much, & when. I’d try to explain more, but every time I try I literally see eyes glaze over.

My hope & dream is to one day own my own coffee shop/ bookstore so I can do the best of my two favorite jobs I’ve had – make pretty coffee drinks (I make a mean cappuccino!) as well as talk about & recommend books to people! I have always taken joy in making other people’s days & I’ve found that it’s pretty easy to do with a cup of joe & a great book.

I’ve been reading since I taught myself at age four & haven’t stopped since. I have always been & will always be a hopeless romantic so romance is my main genre. Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary, you name it – I like to swoon. A few of my favorites are Lisa Kleypas, Katie MacAlister, & J.R. Ward. I’ll branch out occasionally to see what all the fuss is about (I loved The Help!) but no matter what, a well written romance is my idea of the perfect mental vacation. I’ve considered my own blog but never had the time, so I’m really excited Jen asked me to a part of her blog & hope everyone enjoys my reviews!

Feel free to contact me or follow me on Pinterest or Twitter as I’m on both way more often then I should be!

Review: Ruined by Rumor

Reviewed by Jen
 

Roxana has been waiting five years for her fiance George to return from the war so they could be married.  But his homecoming is nothing like she expected and he calls off the wedding just weeks before it’s scheduled to take place.  What is only supposed to be a moment of comfort from her brother’s friend Alex, turns into a scorching kiss — which puts her reputation in jeopardy.  Alex steps up and offers to marry her right away to save her from the scandal.

Roxana has no idea that Alex has been in love with her for years.  He’s terribly shy and has a difficult time socializing.  He would never intentionally risk her reputation, but the chance to marry her is a dream come true.

Unfortunately, Roxana is a bit of a twit.  She refuses to stop mooning over George, even after she agrees to marry Alex and goes forward with the wedding.  She doesn’t even really love George. She loves the idea of him.  And she doesn’t really see Alex, only his shyness and awkward social skills.  She annoys me.  As for Alex, I did like him, though he had a complete meltdown about 3/4 of the way through the book that I thought was completely out of character.

The biggest roadblock these two face is their inability or unwillingness to communicate.  If either one of them actually came out and spoke honestly to the other, they would have saved themselves (and me) so much trouble.  George’s true nature and the reason for his decision to call off the engagement were so painfully obvious that by the time it was revealed on-page, all I could do was roll my eyes.

The story wasn’t bad, but it was predictable and somewhat cliched.

Rating: C


*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
 Ruined by Rumor
by Alyssa Everett
Release Date: May 21, 2012
Publisher: Carina Press

Welcome Shelly!

I am excited to announce that Red Hot Books is expanding.  Two associate reviewers are coming on board.  Shelly is here now to introduce herself.  Please join me in welcoming her to the blog! Click here to meet Allison.

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I love the written word. I appreciate and enjoy books that make me think and even better, make me wish to be part of the story. Since my mother introduced me to Harlequin romances as a teenager, I’ve since graduated ‘up’ or ‘over’ (however you’d like to say it) and haven’t looked back since.

Folks, I’ve never written a book and trust me, you don’t want me to. The good thing is, I can spot proper English and know how to write smokin’ hot reviews.

I enjoy most genres of romance/erotica but I do have a bias to good IR (contemporary and historical), mf/ mfm /mmf contemporary and/or historical or any book that catches my eye (especially if the cover is super delish).

My name is Shelly. I was born on a small isle in the West Indies moved to Texas as soon as I could and never left.

If you’d like to say hi, please don’t be shy.

Review: Lethal Rider

Reviewed by Jen

Without a doubt, this is the best installment in the Lords of Deliverance series so far.  Ever since she introduced us to the Demonica world back in Pleasure Unbound, Larissa Ione has seamlessly woven all of these amazing characters and threads of storylines together into a giant ongoing masterpiece of action, betrayal, romance, epic world-building, and mind-blowing sex. Each book builds on the last. Each leaves me excited, satisfied, and still wanting more.

It’s been eight months since the events of Immortal Rider, and Regan is just a couple of weeks away from delivering her baby. Thanatos has been drugged and immobilized all this time. But suddenly, he is able to overcome the drugs and make his way to her.  He is drawn to his child, though he has no idea that is the case until he comes face to face with Regan. He is enraged and yet still attracted to the woman who took his virginity.  Unsure of where his feelings for her will land, he kidnaps her from an Aegis stronghold and brings her back to his home.

Regan struggles to convince Thanatos that she never intended to rape him. That she was drugged.  That she was trying to save the world. But his forgiveness is slow in coming. The story follows the two of them as they try to sort out their feelings for one another and protect their unborn child from Pestilence, who knows that destroying the baby with break his brother’s seal.

Both Thanatos and Regan have some serious issues to overcome. But I really enjoyed their journey.  Regan has never had a place she truly belonged and it’s gratifying to see her finding a home with the new family she is creating.  Thanatos has some major secrets and he’s a very dangerous guy. (He is Death after all.) But he is such a softie underneath it all. All he wants in life is a family.  Well, that and to get laid.  Ione has got some serious skills to make pregnancy sex sexy.  Having been nine-months pregnant twice, myself, I can tell you that is no small feat.  Yet she does it, so big, big props for that.

I love that we’re still seeing old familiar characters like Eidolon and the UG folks, front and center in the book.  Not only are we getting updates on their lives, but they are part of the ongoing plot.  In addition, there are major developments in the Demonica world, from an overhaul of the Aegis –to Pestilence and the overall horsemen arc– to dire straits for our friend Reaver.  Oh Reaver, I love you so.  As much as I am looking forward to Reseph’s book, it’s Reaver’s story I am dying for.  Reaver and… Harvester? Anyone with me?

I loved it.

Rating: A

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Lethal Rider
by Larissa Ione
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review: Armed and Dangerous

Reviewed by Jen

There are times that too much anticipation can spoil a book’s potential. Believe me, I anticipated the hell out of this book — ever since I finished the last page of Divide & Conquer… knocked out of my blissful stupor by Ty ditching Zane with only a note left behind on the pillow.  I stewed over their future, then stumbled across the news that Madeleine Urban was leaving the longtime writing team behind the amazing series. What would this mean for Ty and Zane? Would the series change?  Would it become something less than the action packed, steamy hot, love /sex/ angst fest that I loved so much?

Let’s get right to it, then. This book was fantastic.  It was different, but not in a way that any fan has to worry about. It’s different because Ty and Zane have grown into their love for one another.  The fear, the hiding –the denial– they’re all gone.  Left in their place is something tender and stirring. Still hot, but also very sweet.  The awesomeness is only compounded by the crossover of characters from Warrior’s Cross.  It really took it all to another level.

I should back up.

The story begins just a week after Ty bolted on Zane.  He only planned to be gone a short time, but his boss has activated him for an off-book mission to bring informant Julian Cross into custody.  An old friend of Ty’s boss says he is being framed for a series of hit jobs and only Cross can clear his name.  Zane is tapped to join Ty on the mission to find the illusive Irishman and bring him in.

When Ty and Zane first reunite, it’s like nothing I’ve seen from them before.  The I Love You‘s were flowing like water.  They commit themselves fully to one another. And that’s a good thing, because they need to have each other’s backs for this mission. Cross knows that the CIA wants him dead and he’ll do everything in his power to keep Ty and Zane from getting him to Washington.  Between his attempts to get away and the assassins who keep showing up, there is not a moment of peace to be had.

For me Julian stole the show, with his dry wit and bad-assness.  Scratch that. I loved Julian, Cameron, Ty and Zane. They all played off each other’s strengths and weaknesses in this spectacular dance.  I loved watching Ty and Julian face off.  I loved seeing their respect grow for one another.  I loved the fact that I had absolutely no idea who the villain was until the last possible moment.  I was tense and excited and happy and nervous… all at the same time.

The characters felt as clearly defined as they ever did.  No one lost their “voice.” The sex was still scorching hot and even with their new level of commitment, Ty and Zane are still… well, Ty and Zane.  They are dysfunctional people, but they are growing. They are still learning each other, and trying to get past their issues long enough to make it work.  In the process, we are treated to some great backstory that sheds a lot of light on what makes Ty Grady the man he is.

It was so good. Everything I hoped it would be. Now someone needs to tell me what Ty had hidden in that trench coat.

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon
  Armed & Dangerous
by Abigail Roux
Release Date: May 18, 2012
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Diamond Jubilee Hop

 
Welcome to the Diamond Jubilee Hop!


Enter below to win. Beginning 5/21 thru 5/31 – Romance at Random will be randomly giving away some of their jewels of romance, to celebrate the UK’s Diamond Jubilee including:

  • 1 winner, 1 copy – Born To Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann
  • 1 winner, 1 copy – The Proposal by Mary Balogh
  • 1 winner, 1 copy – Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian
  • 3 winners, 1 copy of WITCHFUL THINKING by HP Mallory
  • 10 winners, 1 copy of a PREVIEW from Net Galley of ABOUT LAST NIGHT by Ruthie Knox
  • 10 winners, 1 copy of PREVIEW from Net Galley of DEEP AUTUMN HEAT by Elisabeth Barrett
  • To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. (US Residents Only.) And don’t forget to enter at the other fabulous sites on the tour!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway