Archives for October 2012

Review: Seducing Mr. Knightly

Reviewed by Jen

You don’t have to be a longtime reader of Maya Rodale’s Writing Girls series to enjoy this romance. But if you’ve been following along, you know it’s about time for sweet and quiet Annabelle to finally get her HEA with the man she has been pining over for years: her boss, the completely oblivious Derek Knightly.   After suffering through the pangs of unrequited love for so long, she finally decides to take matters into her own hands to win him over.

Annabelle writes an advice column for the paper. She solicits her readers for ideas to gain the attention of the man she loves… the clueless oaf who adopts the nickname “the nodcock.”  All of London ends up catching Annabelle-fever.  She tries suggestion after suggestion, then writes about her successes and failures.  Until her efforts begin to work.

What ends up happening is a real transformation for Annabelle. It was fun watching her come out of her shell and really live for the first time.  And even more engaging, is watching Knightly succumb to her charms.   Unfortunately, our hero has set his sights on a politically advantageous marriage to another woman and he must ultimately decide what really matters to him.  It takes him a while to work it out.

I really, really liked the romance.  The sexual tension was good. The sex was hot. And there is something so satisfying about watching a deserving character find happiness.

It wasn’t without some bumps in the road.  It was a bit implausible that Knightly could be so obtuse for so long, not just to Annabelle’s affections but to the articles running in his own paper.   I also had a little trouble swallowing the idea that she would go on to print details of her sexual conquest in the paper.  Considering the time and place, I couldn’t believe an unmarried woman would admit to such things in such a public way.

But honestly, neither issue really turned me off.  It was sweet and sexy, with an ending that hit the spot.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Avon 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Seducing Mr Knightly
by Maya Rodale
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Avon

5 For Friday – October 26

Happy Friday, everybody. I hope you guys are having a fantastic week.  With the changes at work, I’ve found myself cramming almost all of my reading time into the weekends.  I recently wrapped up How Beauty Met the Beast, and I am already anxious to pick up book two.  Waiting is not my forte. And speaking of waiting…

5. I feel like I am going to die if I don’t get my Qhuay love soon. JR Ward has released the back cover copy for Lover at Last.

Qhuinn, son of no one, is used to being on his own. Disavowed from his bloodline, shunned by the aristocracy, he has finally found an identity as one of the most brutal fighters in the war against the Lessening Society. But his life is not complete. Even as the prospect of having a family of his own seems to be within reach, he is empty on the inside, his heart given to another….

Blay, after years of unrequited love, has moved on from his feelings for Qhuinn. And it’s about time: The male has found his perfect match in a Chosen female, and they are going to have a young- just as Qhuinn has always wanted for himself. It’s hard to see the new couple together, but building your life around a pipe dream is just a heartbreak waiting to happen. As he’s learned firsthand.

Fate seems to have taken these vampire soldiers in different directions… but as the battle over the race’s throne intensifies, and new players on the scene in Caldwell create mortal danger for the Brotherhood, Qhuinn finally learns the true definition of courage, and two hearts who are meant to be together… finally become one.

I am imploding.  Can someone fast forward time to March?

4. Apparently, Gena Showalter revealed the cover for her second Angels of the Dark book last week and I missed it!! (Bad Jen.)

Beauty Awakened is Koldo’s book. It’s out February 26th.

3. The wait is almost over for Karen Marie Moning’s Iced.  The book trailer is out and KMM is dropping little teasers from the book all over her Facebook page.

Iced releases Tuesday.

2.  Kresley Cole is sharing an extended sneak peek of her upcoming IAD spinoff book, Shadow’s Claim.

She’s got the first five chapters up on her Facebook page. It’s under the Members Only tab. Shadow’s Claim is only a month away…

1A new interview with Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev says at least one or two more main characters are set to die this season on the show.

There aren’t really that many main characters left alive.  There’s Bonnie, Matt, and Jeremy. Am I missing anyone else?  Everyone else is already dead or part vampire.  I would guess Matt is going be the one to go, but people have been saying that for years and he’s still around.  Got any predictions?

That’s it for now!


Favorites From… Loretta & Larissa

Loretta Chase & Larissa Ione

Loretta: I do read contemporary romance a bit more than my own genre and my go-to authors are Susan Elizabeth Philips and Jennifer Crusie. While neither has ever written a book I didn’t like, here are my favorites:
SEP: Heaven, Texas
JC: Bet Me

And outside romance but inside Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Alternate Reality: I think Terry Pratchett is just brilliant. I would start with Guards, Guards, rather than at the very beginning of the Discworld Series. Then, once the reader is completely hooked, she’ll want to read the first book and continue—which has the bonus of allowing her to read Guards, Guards again.

Larissa: My two all time favorites are Robert Jordan and Sharon Kay Penman…but since you’re probably wanting romance-y, I’d go with Sharon Kay Penman. She writes historical fiction, but her books always have a romantic subplot, and they’re just amazing!!!! My favorite is Here Be Dragons, which features a very strong romance. Love it!

Neither Loretta & Larissa could contribute a full guest post, but I wanted to share their recommendations with you. I asked Loretta to participate in the feature because I love her historicals, especially Lord of Scoundrels. It features an “ugly” hero who never really feels worthy of his heroine. And it makes me swoon just thinking about it.

Larissa writes fabulous PNR. I love her Demonica series and its spinoff Lords of Deliverance books. They have such amazing world-building and a huge cast of character that give the stories such a rich canvas.  And –holy wow– the lady can write some sex.  Thanks to both Larissa & Loretta for taking the time to share their recs with us.  

And, of course, we’ve got a giveaway to share.  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win Loretta’s recommendation, Heaven, Texas.  US/CAN only.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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Review: Wed to a Highland Warrior

Reviewed by Jen

Bliss is seer among the Pict people.  She bears the gifts of healing and foresight.  It’s because of her sixth sense that she knows Trey is supposed to be her husband from the fourth page of the book. Accosted by soldiers, she claims Trey is already her husband. He goes along with the ruse, having no idea that Pict culture dictates that marriage is born by both parties claiming it to be true.  As such, they are married on page five.

The thing is, the two of them could end the marriage just as easily by declaring it null. But they never do, an idea that I found absolutely ludicrous. Maybe not for Bliss, because she can see the future and everything… but for Trey?  A man nursing a broken heart over the death of his beloved?  To choose to be married to a woman he barely knows?  And they’re not even doing the hokey-pokey?  I can suspend my disbelief pretty far, but this made no sense to me.

Moving on… Bliss is on a journey to heal a sick old woman and Trey decides to see his new wife safely on her journey.  One healing mission for Bliss becomes two –then three– then four.  OK, basically she has to heal one person after another throughout the entire book.  This, while Trey follows along, tempting her with the sex they both want to have and worrying about getting home to his brothers to tell him about the King’s plans to invade their land.

Bliss and Trey get together in a way that is both too fast and too slow. Too fast, because they are in love in a matter of days (and that’s not even getting into the constant references to each other as “husband” and wife.”)  And too slow, because they are mooning over each other and talking about the inevitability of their physical intimacy for so long, I was actually yelling at the book for them to get on with it already.

As the pair finally make it back to Trey’s people, we finally learn the secret hanging over the series: the identity of the true king of Scotland.  It was anti-climactic.  The big reveal over the roadblock to Bliss and Trey’s relationship was also anticlimactic.  I just couldn’t muster much excitement about any of it.  There is just too much going on and it was all so “out there” that it clouded my ability to really connect with the characters or their feelings.


Rating: C-

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Wed to a Highland Warrior
by Donna Fletcher
Release Date: October 30, 2010
Publisher: Avon

Favorites From… Anna Campbell

Anna Campbell
Peabody for President!
By Anna Campbell

Hi Jen! Thank you for having me as your guest today. I love the idea of asking authors to share recommendations for their favorite books. The hardest part was deciding just which books to choose – there’s such a wealth of fantastic reading out there.

Recently I’ve tempered my diet of wonderful romance novels with mysteries. I love how in a good mystery series, we follow that single character through what is often a very long arc (for something like the Nevada Barr series, there are at currently 17 books!). I also love how in many of these series, there’s a romantic subplot that occasionally pushes its way up to become center of attention. Think C.S. Harris’s brilliant Viscount Devlin series set in the Regency period, starting with WHAT ANGELS FEAR.

Yeah, I know, I’m cheating. I’m fitting some extra recommendations in before I get to my ACTUAL recommendation! No mystery there.

The Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters are absolute corkers. They’re a recent discovery for me, but they’ve been around for yonks. CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK, the first book, was published back in 1975. The latest installment A RIVER IN THE SKY came out in 2010. Talk about longevity! A RIVER IN THE SKY is number 19 and more are promised. Huzzah! Long live Amelia and her many cohorts.

You might worry about the earlier books seeming dated. And they are – right back to late in Queen Victoria’s reign. One of the advantages of writing historical mysteries is that it really doesn’t matter if flares go in and out of style in the current era, the specificity of period is part of the charm.

In CROCODILE, we meet Amelia Peabody, forthright, brave, self-opinionated (although often wrong) spinster. When Amelia unexpectedly inherits a fortune, she fulfills her dreams of travel to Egypt in the golden age of archeology. There she meets irascible, disheveled and extremely sexy Radcliffe Emerson, “the greatest Egyptologist of this or any other age” as we are told at least once in every book (the running jokes are one of the joys of this series). Sparks fly, romance ensues, and in between, there are dead bodies galore. Some of these dead bodies are meant to be that way – mummies feature strongly – but some aren’t. Amelia and Emerson play amateur sleuths in between their digging. “Every year, another dead body” as their overseer Abdullah puts it.

CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK sets the pattern for future books. There’s fun and sparkling wit. There’s romance. There’s danger and intrigue. There’s fascinating information about Egypt, both ancient and (relatively) modern. Amelia and Emerson have one son, the dashing, mysterious and charismatic Ramses who becomes the swashbuckling hero of later books. Do you remember I mentioned extended romance plots? Ramses’s path to true love is littered with drama and heartache and by the time he gets his happy ending in THE FALCON AT THE PORTAL, the reader (and Ramses) have been through the wringer. Great stuff!

Another joy is the huge cast of characters who swing in and out of the stories. Eccentric scholars, master criminals, young lovers, Egyptians, uppity servants, spies, suffragettes, rotters, real people like Howard Carter or Lawrence of Arabia. Not to mention cats who are characters in their own right. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to get in an Amelia Peabody novel apart from rollicking enjoyment, a great story and a plethora of corpses.

The tone is dry and witty with hints of high Victorian. Surprisingly the humor doesn’t jar with the dramatic or tragic elements. There’s Bronte-esque melodrama and Austenish wit and Dickensian universality, yet somehow the books emerge all of a piece. As a writer, I’m in awe every time I read one.

If you haven’t read Amelia Peabody, I highly recommend her. If you have, I’m sure I’m speaking to the converted. If possible, read the books in order. Many of plot strands about the family run from book to book with revelations timed for maximum effect. I’m currently up to number 14, THE GOLDEN ONE, and I’m loving it.

If you’d like to read more about Amelia, her family and her adventures, here’s a link to the official website:

So are you a fan of historical mysteries? Do you like a little (or a lot!) romance mixed in with other genres? Have you read any of the Amelia Peabody stories? What’s your favorite? 

Thank you to Anna Campbell for sharing her recommendations today. I asked Anna to be a part of this feature because I absolutely adored her Beauty and the Beast themed Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed.  It follows a woman willing to pay off her sister’s debt in the bed of a scarred recluse.  It was one of my favorite books this year.

Now is your chance to check out one of the Amelia Peabody books. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters. This one is open US/CAN. 

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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Review: The Scottish Witch

Reviewed by Jen

There were things I enjoyed about this book, but it ended up a mixed bag for me.  I liked the premise: an entire line of men are cursed to die when they find love, thanks to the selfish actions of an ancestor.  Each book in the series follows a different Chattan man as he tries to avoid love and the subsequent death that will surely follow. In this installment, the hero is Harry Chattan, a man on a mission to break the curse in order to save his brother’s life.

Harry’s brother Lyon was the hero of book one. He fell in love despite his best efforts to avoid it and now he is at death’s door. Harry is trying to track down the witch who created the curse… or any witch, really, who could help get rid of it. His search brings him to the Scottish town where Portia has moved with her mother and younger sister.

Portia has essentially given up on a life of her own. At 27, she isn’t really swimming in prospects and –besides– her younger sister needs her help to find happiness, and that’s saying nothing of her selfish, widowed mother. But in the attic of their family home, Portia finds the spell book of Fenella, her witchy ancestor who started the Chattan curse.  When she finds out a new man in town is offering big money to find a witch, she aims to use the book to earn the money her family so desperately needs to survive.  Of course, her meeting with Harry sets them irrevocably on the path to love.

I liked both characters well enough. But I was put off by the progression of their relationship. First of all, their first coupling was way too abrupt and I wasn’t entirely comfortable with whether Portia was a willing enough participant.  The sex scenes, in general, felt rushed.  It seemed like we zoomed through a lot of things I would have liked to see really play out on page, rather than just be told that they happened.   I never really felt like I saw these two fall in love, even though they obviously do.

It isn’t bad. It just doesn’t live up to its potential.  –It’s also a HFN, as opposed to an HEA, which doesn’t bother me, but it may not sit right with all readers.

Rating: C+

P.S. I hate it when the cover models look nothing like characters in the book are described. Does this make me petty?

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Scottish Witch
by Cathy Maxwell
Release Date: October 30, 2010
Publisher: Avon

Favorites From… Nicole Peeler

Nicole Peeler

Hi folks! Nicole Peeler here, sharing with you one of my favorite subgenres. It’s a little different, maybe, for some of you, but if you like para-rom or UF I really think you’ll like…

Paranormal cozy mysteries!

The mystery genre, for those of you who don’t read it much, are divided into two primary strains: thrillers and cozies. Thrillers are things like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or The Snowman, which have lots of action, violence, and violent themes. As for cozies, you’re probably most familiar with them in the shape of Murder She Wrote or Miss Marple. Cozies usually feature an amateur sleuth, rather than a professional, and the sex and violence are toned way down. There are still murders, but they will often be offstage, using a method such as poisoning or a single stab-wound, rather than showing a big gory murder like a thriller would.

I love cozies and always have, but recently cozies have begun to stretch their wings a little, allowing things into the genre that would never have been considered before. One example of this is the paranormal cozy. You might remember stories like “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” in which there appears to be a paranormal element. But, just like in Scooby Doo, those elements were always “unmasked” to reveal a human villain.

Lately, however, some cozy authors have been playing with the supernatural in a “real” way. The murderers in these books are still going to be human, and that’s one of the things that makes the paranormal cozy different from urban fantasy. But nowadays we have amateur sleuths who are witches with real arcane power, or true psychics, or mediums who really can see the dead, et cetera.

So a cozy paranormal mystery will have all the elements of a cozy. There will be a murder to be solved by an amateur sleuth. There will be minimum sex and violence on stage, although there may be a love interest and some “closed door” intimacy. There will be a really developed world that’s small in feel, so an actual small village or a small community within a larger one. And there will be lots of great character development, as part of the joy of the cozy is watching someone who shouldn’t have to deal with murder and intrigue being forced to chase after baddies.

But a paranormal cozy will have some fun supernatural extras that will appeal to readers of both para-rom and UF.

If you like the sound of this genre, two writers I highly recommend are Juliet Blackwell and Victoria Laurie. Both have series with great supernatural elements, wonderful love interests, and very intriguing murders to solve by fun protagonists.

As someone who has always loved the cozy, I’m happy to see it opening up to new themes and premises, while still remaining true to its roots.

Thank you to Nicole Peeler for sharing her recommendations today.  I asked Nicole to be a part of this feature because her Jane True books add some much needed laughter to my life. The title character is a half-human half-selkie who is just learning about the supernatural world around her and her place in it. The series also features a sexy shapeshifter named Anyan who ratchets up the sexual tension between action and the humor. You can check out my review of the first book in the series, Tempest Rising, for more info.

In the meantime, I’ve got a cozy mystery for you to try. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win a copy of Juliet Blackwell’s In a Witch’s Wardrobe. US Only.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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Review: Forty Shades of Pearl

Reviewed by Shelly

Divorced, 40 year-old Pearl Robinson works as a documentary producer for a small company in New York. Her assignment is to get an interview with Alexandre Chevalier and his sister Sophie Dumas for the possibility of doing a documentary, as they own a very popular and successful social media site, HookedUp. Because of his lack of public appearances and a single, very blurry photograph, Pearl thinks that twenty four-year Alexandre is a bit of a nerd. Oh, how wrong she is.

This story is pretty short in that the time span is about a month – so there’s just not a lot you can make happen in that time frame. I fully enjoyed about the first quarter of the story. I’m not sure what happened to the rational thinking side of Pearl but her brain started malfunctioning to the level of a very young, immature girl. After missing the speech at the conference where she was supposed to meet Alexandre, Pearl heads across the street to a coffee shop to wallow in her misery by drinking overpriced coffee (her words, not mine). When she’s there she runs into Alexandre and Sophie but doesn’t tell them who she is because she’s going to pull some ‘Rachel from Friends’ thing – tell a lie and invent some ridiculous cover up. Why? Why? Why? YOU ARE A GROWN WOMAN PEARL, that wasn’t even cute when Rachel did it. I’m sure you’re not surprised when I tell you that Ross didn’t come save the day for her. She lost all credibility with me after that.

I never liked Alexandre. I don’t know if it’s cause he too French, but his self-righteous attitude just didn’t sit well with me. I have to share this line with you. Alexandre and Pearl are having a discussion about his company and what kind of charities they support. He tells her – “…All our charities are vetted to make sure they’re not linked with any upsetting practices. As long as any particular cancer research is not using animals to test on, that’s great.” Really Alexandre, so when your precious dog gets cancer what kind of research will you be happy with – testing on humans? Then there’s this whole thing about carbon footprint and all I could think about is – dude you’re in IT, you have a BIG carbon footprint so get off your high horse.

There were some side stories that I found to be much more interesting than these two, but they weren’t developed. Pearl’s only friend Denise was a breath of fresh air; she seemed to really care and tried to give words of wisdom to ease Pearl’s woes. I was also interested in Natalie, Pearl’s boss, who was dating Pearl’s long-lost Dad.  Sophie is straight crazy and Alexandre knows it, but can’t abandon family, right? – even when they do others harm (heavy on the sarcasm). Last but not least, there is Anthony, Pearl’s brother who she calls every week. Oh my, if he could have been more insensitive and uncaring, I think he might have volunteered to throw her in front of a bus and call her ‘girl friend’ while doing it.

The sex was heavy between these two but it didn’t seem to stem from anything but lust. For every challenge or issue in the relationship – sex was the answer, they didn’t speak about resolving the issue – let’s just have sex.

Overall, I can’t say that I enjoyed this one. The story wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t for me.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: C

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Forty Shades of Pearl
by Arianne Richmonde
Release Date: August 22, 2012
Publisher: Mighty Publications

Favorites From… Amanda Carlson

Amanda Carlson

I don’t get much read time these days, but for full on reading enjoyment you can’t go wrong with these authors:

My favorite historical romance author is Georgette Heyer. I discovered her about fifteen years ago and each book is like opening a new gift. I started collecting them immediately off eBay (they were actually my first foray onto eBay!) and never looked back. I have hundreds. Some of my personal faves are The Grand Sophy, Arabella, The Toll-Gate, and The Convenient Marriage. She writes in a voice perfect for the genre. I think she’s brilliant.

On of my first reads in PNR was Kresley Cole. I hadn’t read much of the genre before her, so she literally popped my genre “cherry” with her Immortals After Dark series. And can I say it was an awesome way to pop! She has an amazing voice. (Voice is huge for me.) Her characters jump off the page and her sex is diiiirty. Start with the first and read all the way through. You won’t be sorry.

Jane Yellowrock is badass and one of my very favorite urban fantasy heroines. Faith Hunter is at the top of the urban fantasy food chain for me. Her writing is flawless and her world absolutely rocks. I like my heroines tough with a mind of their own. Faith delivers every single time. If you haven’t read Jane yet, I urge you to pick one up. The story is original and Faith writes action all day, everyday.

My happy go-to place has always been humor. I love to laugh. And for that it’s always David Sedaris. I laugh until I cry when I read one of his books. They are the only books I’ve ever read out loud so my spouse can enjoy by proxy. (Often much to his dismay.) I’ve been known to yell, “Wait, wait…there’s one more,” laughs too hard to speak, “you gotta hear this one. It’s the last one. I promise.” “No wait, there’s just one more…” Me Talk Pretty One Day is one of his best, but they all rock if you love to laugh.

Amanda’s bookshelf

I’d like to thank Red Hot Books for inviting me to chat about books I love. There’s nothing better than an excellent book—a book that leaves you with happy tingles is a true gift. If you’d like to find out more about me and my debut FULL BLOODED, I’m in all the regular places. For more info visit my website at:

Thanks to Amanda Carlson for sharing these recommendations today. I asked Amanda to be a part of the feature because I really enjoyed her debut, Full Blooded. It features a kick-ass werewolf heroine who is the only one of her kind. It’s got plenty of action and at least one hot roll in the hay.  Check out my review for more deets.

In the meantime, you have a chance to win one of Amanda’s recommendations. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win Skinwalker, the first in the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter.  US Only please.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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Review: Offside

Reviewed by Shelly 

Suffering from one too many concussions while playing overseas, 25 year old hockey player Billie-Jo Barker decides to return home to both recover and decide what she’s going to do with the rest of her life. When she gets back home, she runs into no other than Logan Forest, her childhood crush who she’s still carrying a bit of a torch for.

Billie is restless because for the first time she neither has a schedule to train by nor a game in her foreseeable future. Along with that, she’s quite unsure of her future because not only can she no longer competitively play the sport that she loves, but she doesn’t know how to do anything but play hockey. To solve part of her quandry, Billie joins the local hockey league. Fortunately for her, there are no rules that say males only so she decides to give it a go.

Also on the team is Logan, who’s quite the successful businessman and resident hotmaleness. Logan and Billie have a little bit of history in that Billie was totally and completely in love with Logan, but he only had eyes for Betty-Jo, one of the Barker triplets. After seeing each other again, sharing a hockey bench and after-the-game drinks, Billie and Logan form a hot and heavy ‘don’t tell anyone’ affair. But Billie has a long held secret that she’s keeping from Logan that will seriously rock their budding relationship.

While trying to stay safe on the ice, Billie’s dealing with her father’s early stages of dementia, her other sister Bobbi-Jo’s hostile attitude, Shane – recent parolee and ex-boyfriend of Bobbi, Gerald – Bobbi’s fiancee, Betty’s total asshat attitude, and a serious (downright criminal) case of hazing.

With the smokin’ hot between the sheets moments between Billie and Logan, it all makes for a fun and very entertaining read. I’m exicted to see whose story is going to be the next one out. I’m thinking Betty-Jo because I have no idea who her HEA will be with. But I know when Shane’s turn comes, it’s going to be just as good or maybe even more awesome – because shhhh don’t tell anyone– but he’s a badboy and you know how those badboys can make a girl lose her right mind.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
by Juliana Stone
Release Date: October 1, 2012