Monday, August 31, 2015

Interview with author Jillian David

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sure thing! It’s a blessing to come back to my writing roots. So, I started out as an English writing major, but then went on to medical school. Now I work as a rural family doctor, so my days (and nights) are full of delivering babies, emergency C-sections, hospital care, colonoscopies, mole removals, and the typical fare of high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, incontinence and rashes. (And on and on….) So, total craziness, right?

About 6 years ago, I wrote my first book. That first novel went through several revisions until my editor and I concluded that it was “not salvageable”. So I burned the manuscript. Literally. Since then, I learned from my rookie mistakes and managed to write not one, but the three books for the Hell to Pay series. I was fortunate (and stupid) enough to hold out for a publisher who would make an offer for the entire series. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of rewriting, revision, marketing, and a book coming out every 3 months this year!

Q ~ Are you a dog person, a cat person, or does some other critter strike your fancy?

Cats, definitely. Um, hubby and I talk to our cats like they’re our kids. Yup, we’re >those< kind of cat parents.

Q ~ What’s something that you never leave home without?

Chap stick! The joke is that I have a tube stashed everywhere. It’s in pants, purse, cars, office desk, surgery locker, bedside stand, bathroom, etc..

Q ~ What’s one habit that you have that you’d like to break?

Cheating on the food entries for MyFitnessPal. And yet here I sit, shocked that I haven’t lost any weight. Funny how that works.

Q ~ If you were stuck on a deserted island, who and what would you want with you and why?

I need more information. If there is a chance for rescue, then I’d like someone like Bear Grylls or Les Stroud who have mad survival skills and could get us safely off the island.

Now, if there is zero chance of rescue and we’re going to be there forever, that’s a different kettle of fish. On a purely physical level, I’d be thrilled to hang out with any of my three heroes. Come on now, we’re on the island, we’re bored, and there are opportunities for shirtlessness, what’s a girl to do? And frankly, I know what all these guys look like naked. Any one of those guys would be a win.

Q ~ How do you think people perceive authors?

Depends on what’s being written. It appears there is a difference in the casual reading public regarding perception of, say, erotica writers versus “literary fiction”. This different perception is unfair. What people don’t understand is the massive work that goes into writing any novel, regardless of genre.

Q ~ What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not ok, it's not the end.” ― Fernando Sabino

Pretty much sums up everything in my life.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?

My reading tastes range widely. However, my first love (no pun intended) is romance and sci-fi/fantasy. So no surprise that I put those two genres together in my first novels written! I also enjoy biographies and history, so that love also got blended into each of the books. So much fun!

Q ~ Do you have a favourite author? Do they influence your writing?

Not one favourite in particular. I do remember being moved as a kid by the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, being entranced by all books by Anne McCaffrey, and getting tingly reading Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewels series.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?

I’ve written for as long as I can remember, all through college and a little into medical school. However, I wrote nothing for over 10 years while I finished training and began my medical practice. Then one day, boom! Writing started again.

Q ~ Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Well, I started as a pantser, and as I mentioned above, that manuscript is now ashes. So now I plot and plot and plot. I tend to mull over the overall shape of the book and series for a few months prior to putting anything down on paper. Then I do a handwritten brief plotline.

Then I do character “interviews” with 10 pages of very intrusive questions before rewriting the plotline in a much more detailed format. If I hit a block, I go running or hiking. Must be that the jostling knocks loose some good ideas!

Q ~ Do you prefer to write in a small town or big city setting? Why?

Small towns and rural areas. Again, no surprise there. One of the hardest things was writing about New Orleans in my last book. Might have been the toughest research as far as setting was concerned, mostly because it was so foreign to me.

Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?

I tend to write while I’m on call. Even if I have an Ob patient in labor, it often takes many hours to go from 2 centimeters dilated to pushing. In between my trips to the hospital to make sure everything’s okay, I try to do spurts of writing. Of course some days it doesn’t rain but it pours, as far as patient care goes, so on those days…no writing.

Q ~ What are your five favourite verbs to use during a love scene?

Stroked. Pressed. Lifted. Nibbled. Nipped.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release Flame Unleashed and what inspired you to write it?

To properly answer the question, we should look at the entire Hell to Pay series, which arose from the question: “What if people literally sold their souls to the Devil?” It’s this question that drives each book. What would compel someone to sell his or her soul? What would be the rules of such a transaction? And how would someone break that contract?

As far as Book #3, Flame Unleashed, I want to explore how a tormented Civil War nurse with the ability to read people’s memories would function as an eternally powerful being, compelled to kill humans to feed Satan.

Q ~ What was the most difficult part of the process while writing Flame Unleashed?

The plotting process was relatively easy, because I had been moving toward book #3 while writing the first two books. So I had a direction already in mind.

What I found difficult about book #3, Flame Unleashed, was the pairing of a very strong female with an equally strong male. I thought it would be difficult with no power imbalance to play off of. What appears to have happened, though, is the romantic conflict went much deeper and into different levels than in previous books.

Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?

Love the “meet” and all of the variations on this scene.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?

Oh, yes! I’ve got a 4 book series in the incubator about a family in Wyoming with odd…abilities, and their struggles to protect their families and the people they love from encroaching evil.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?

Write what’s in your heart, not what you think will be popular or sell. Your voice will be true and passionate as a result.

About the author:

Jillian David lives near the end of the Earth with her nut of a husband and two bossy cats. To escape the sometimes-stressful world of the rural physician, she writes while on call and in her free time. She enjoys taking realistic settings and adding a twist of “what if.” Running or hiking on local trails often promotes plot development.

She would love for readers to connect on Twitter @jilliandavid13 or on her blog at http://jilliandavid.net. Readers are always welcome to e-mail her atjilliandavid13@yahoo.com.


About Flame Unleashed:

When Civil War nurse Ruth Blackstone sacrificed her soul to save her husband’s life, he utterly betrayed her trust. Now, 150 years later, she’s still stuck killing depraved souls to feed her devil of a boss, Jerahmeel. She’s never been one for hair-brained schemes or sweet-talking flirts. That is, until she meets Cajun rogue Odie Pierre-Noir.

Odie has the research and the war plan to overthrow Jerahmeel and win freedom for all Indebteds. There’s just one hitch: he needs Ruth to act as bait. With charm on his side, he shows Ruth an intense passion she’s never experienced before.

Now Ruth must make the hardest decision of her long, damned life: continue in relative safety as an Indebted with Odie as her lover, or risk their eternal souls for one chance to break the curse. Will she choose the lesser evil?

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Spark: Seven Fantastic First-in-Series Novels by Ednah Walters, et al

Title:  Spark: Seven Fantastic First-in-Series Novels
Series:  Feyland #1, Starstruck #1, The Gatekeeper's Saga#1, Courtlight #1, Lost Daughters of Atlantis #1, Saving Mars #1, Runes #1
Author:   Ednah Walters, Terah Edun, Anthea Sharp, Brenda Hiatt, Cidney Swanson, Eva Pohler, Allie Burton
Published:  May 19/15 by Fiddlehead Press
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Shelf:  review
Rating: ★★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

A collection of seven fabulous first-in-series novels from the Seven Sparks author collective. Dive into these adventurous, fantastical, romantic stories with strong heroines and plenty of action. Seven Sparks books are all compelling reads without explicit descriptions or swearing, making these books perfect for YA readers or anyone in the mood for a marvelous adventure! This multi-author bundle contains more than 2,200 pages of great reading. 

Combined, these books have over 800 *5-star reviews* on Amazon, with an average ranking of 4.4 stars.

FEYLAND: THE DARK REALM - USA Today bestselling author Anthea Sharp (Urban Fantasy/Science Fiction/YA Romance/Fae Adventure/Fairytales)
What if a high-tech computer game was actually a gateway to the Realm of Faerie? Jennet Carter soon finds herself battling the Dark Queen, falling for the perfect hero, and trying to save her own world from unspeakable danger!

STARSTRUCK - USA Today bestselling author Brenda Hiatt (Science Fiction/Sweet Romance/Coming of Age)
The middle of nowhere gets a lot more interesting for an orphaned astronomy geek when the hot new quarterback inexplicably befriends her and strange things start to happen: her acne clears up, her eyesight improves, and when they touch, sparks fly—literally! The incredible truth will change her mundane life forever—if she survives!

THE GATEKEEPER’S SONS - Bestselling author Eva Pohler (Greek Myths & Legends/Teen Fantasy/Paranormal Romance)
Fifteen-year-old Therese Mills is heading home in the car with her parents when someone begins shooting at them, sending their car into a lake. She finds the strength to escape, and winds up in the coma that introduces her to the twin sons of Hades... and plunges her into the center of a war brewing between the Gods on Mount Olympus.

SWORN TO RAISE - New York Times bestselling author Terah Edun (High Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery/Coming of Age/Action Adventure)
When peasant girl Ciardis is chosen for a position at court, she travels across the empire to begin a new life. To survive, she’ll need to master intrigue, befriend a crown prince, and learn to control magical abilities she never knew existed.

ATLANTIS RIPTIDE - Bestselling author Allie Burton (Mermaids/Clean Romance/Sci-Fi Fantasy/Genetic Engineering)
Pearl ran away from the circus, tired of her adoptive parents’ abuse of her special skills. Unknownst to her, a battle rages under the ocean and each side wants to use her powers for their cause. As Pearl discovers her talents she must choose her destiny – ignore the churning seas or swim into battle.

SAVING MARS - Bestselling author Cidney Swanson (Science Fiction/Teen Romance/Action Adventure)
Jessamyn pilots a ship to Earth to steal food for the Mars Colony at a time when Earth-Mars relations couldn’t be worse. Breaking rules of no contact, Jess falls for Pavel, nephew to Earth’s Chancellor, but when Jess’s brother is captured, she must choose: rescue her brother or her planet?

RUNES - Bestselling author Ednah Walters (Norse Mythology/Paranormal Romance/Angels & Demons/Clean Romance)
Seventeen-year-old Raine Cooper has enough on her plate dealing with her father’s disappearance, her mother’s erratic behavior and the possibility of her boyfriend relocating. The last thing she needs is Torin St. James—a mysterious new neighbor with a wicked smile and uncanny way of reading her.

My Review:

My first thoughts on this one? What a phenomenally unique and completely captivating collection of tales. I couldn’t put it down for a second. The authors employ vividly exotic descriptions and locales that catch you right from the get go. This stories become so real that it is scary. You can actually picture the events occurring and you find yourself picturing what would happen if you were in the characters’ shoes. The events in question may be out of our realm, but the way that they are written makes everything so real and thrilling that you forget that it is a fantasy. I have great respect for authors who do their research before writing fictional work based on fact or existing mythology. That said, I love the fact that many of these stories were mythologically accurate, with some big twists.

The characters in this novel are quite well developed. You may not know their entire life histories, but you do get to know everything that is pertinent to the story and to let you get to know the characters. It was very refreshing to read a story by an author who can differentiate between necessary development to create a well-developed character, and giving an entire life history that slows down the storyline because it isn't actually relevant to the plot. I quite appreciated the vast array of characters that I encountered throughout this tale. They cover many age ranges and walks of life, making the story even more interesting. They had personalities that you could relate to. Many of these characters are made even more memorable with their one of a kind names. So many of them are unique or at least uncommon, but none are difficult to remember.

Each of these authors brought a brand new world to life and kept me captivated throughout. As a whole I was completely entranced by the story. It was exciting, adventurous, and a brilliant way to get to know this authors. I would definitely recommend all of these novels to others and can’t wait to read more by these brilliant authors.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Interview with author Joanne Guidoccio

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
For most of my life, I was a poster child for left brainers. I gravitated toward degrees in mathematics and education and found teaching to be a good career fit. But after thirty-one years, I was ready for a change.

So, I put pen to paper and revisited a writing dream from my high school years. I watched with delight as my articles and book reviews started appearing in newspapers, magazines, and online. Buoyed by this success, I took on the challenge of revamping A Season for Killing Blondes, a manuscript I had written during my “cancer” year. While shopping it around, I wrote Between Land and Sea and was thrilled when Debby Gilbert of Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract. In 2014, Johanna Melargno of The Wild Rose Press offered me a contract for A Season for Killing Blondes. In September, Soul Mate Publishing will release The Coming of Arabella.

Q ~ What’s your favourite pass-time?
During my teaching years, I immersed myself in the life of the school and had very few outside outlets. When I retired, I was determined to widen my range of interests and achieve yin/yang balance in my life. While writing occupies the lion’s share of my time, I also enjoy reading, yoga, scrapbooking, blogging, movies, Toastmasters, artist dates, and meeting friends for leisurely brunches and lunches.

Q ~ How do you think people perceive authors? How do you think Canadian authors stand in the mix?
To date, my experience has been a positive one. Friends and acquaintances—online and offline—have been very supportive and encouraging. Truthfully, I haven’t noticed a “Canadian” difference.

Q ~ How do you feel about self-publishing?
I am traditionally published and very pleased with the products and services offered by Soul Mate Publishing and The Wild Rose Press. As for self-publishing, I may experiment with a short nonfiction eBook.

Q ~ What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Neale Donald Walsch

In planning my life after retirement, I was determined to challenge myself.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?
I have eclectic tastes and enjoy reading contemporary women’s fiction, cozy mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, self-help, and memoirs. Right now, I’m writing cozy mysteries and paranormal romance. In the future, I hope to write a self-help book.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite author? Do they influence your writing?

Some of my favorite authors include Ann Patchett, Ann Lamott, Jane Green, Maeve Binchy, Gail Bowen, Louise Penny, Adriana Trigiani, Louise Hay, and Dr.Christiane Northrup. Reinvention is a common theme in these books and one that resonates in my own writing.

Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?
While having a leisurely breakfast is one of my retirement perks, I do not linger over that second cup of coffee. If I choose to have more than one cup, I do so while checking email and social media. At nine o’clock, I start writing. My goal is 1,000 words a day. At first, I used the oven timer to keep me on task, but that annoying sound reminded me of incessant school bells, so I invested in a bird clock. Each hour, one of my feathered friends, among them the Downy Woodpecker, Belted Kingfisher, and Great Horned Owl, chirp and remind me to pace myself.

My go-to snack – chocolate!

Q ~ When you write, do you lay out a solid outline before beginning, or start writing and iron out the kinks later?
I’m a linear pantser. I like to start with a character sketch of the protagonist and a rough draft of the storyline. While the beginning and ending remain constant, there are several plot changes along the way. And I let the characters misbehave.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release A Season for Killing Blondes and what inspired you to write it?
While undergoing cancer treatments, I gravitated toward cozy mysteries. After devouring over fifty books in that genre, I imagined the following scenarios: What if a brunette lottery winner moves back to her hometown and finds herself involved in a murder investigation? And what if all the victims are blondes? Since I had plotted the story during the most challenging season of my life, I decided to use A Season for Killing Blondes as the title.

Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?
I love the scenes filled with Gilda’s relatives. Their reactions are unfiltered, adding unexpected bursts of humour to the storyline.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite character (or two) in your latest series? What is it that draws you to them?

I identify strongly with Gilda Greco, the protagonist of the novel. So much so, that I used the first-person POV. Our similarities...Italian Canadian, born and raised in Sudbury, relocated to Southern Ontario, mathematics teachers, career development practitioners, yoga enthusiasts, non-foodies.

One major difference—Gilda won a $19 million lottery. I’m still hoping

Q ~ You’ve written works outside of this series as well. For you, do they compare to one another? Do you have a favourite or do they all stand out in their own way?
Right now, I’m alternating between cozy mysteries and paranormal romance. On the back burner, I have a collection of angel short stories and a memoir of my cancer experience. While it may sound like dabbling, there is one theme that connects all of my work – reinvention. And the protagonists are all boomer women. In short, I write boomer lit.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
I have two WIPs in various stages of completion – Book 3 of the Mediterranean trilogy and Book 2 of the Gilda Greco Mystery series.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Carve your own journey and take time to discover what you really like to write. In most cases, you will gravitate toward the genres you read. But don’t limit yourself. Instead, experiment with other genres, nonfiction, and poetry. I highly recommend attending local readings and workshops.

A lucky commenter will receive a Kindle eBook of A Season for Killing Blondes.

About the author:

In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne...

About A Season for Killing Blondes:

Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.

When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.

Buy Links


And don't forget!
One lucky commenter will receive an ecopy of A Season for Killing Blondes from author Joanne Guidoccio.

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Quidell Brothers Box Set by Kris Austen Radcliffe

Title:  The Quidell Brothers Box Set
Series:  Quidell Brothers #1-3
Author:  Kris Austen Radcliffe
Published:  May 24/15 by Six Love Erotic Romance
Length:  476pgs
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  review
Rating: ★★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

The QUIDELL BROTHERS BOX SET includes: THOMAS'S MUSE,DANIEL'S FIRE, and ROBERT'S SOUL.

THOMAS'S MUSE: As an undergrad, Sammie Singleton became the muse of an artist she didn't know. But the connection vanished, and now Sammie drowns in the colorless drudgery of corporate America. Lost and abandoned, Sammie longs for the scent of paints, the vibrancy of reds, the soft stroking of a feather brush...

Her world flashes alive the moment she meets Thomas Quidell. Sammie quickly realizes the brilliant and talented Tom is her long-lost artist--and the man she's been fantasizing about all these years.

Tom's touch awakens needs Sammie thought long dead. When he offers a lifeline out of her soul-killing life, Sammie's doubts pull her under. Is she strong enough to find her way back to love?

DANIEL'S FIRE: The blaze that destroyed Daniel Quidell's firefighting career scarred more than his body. Court cases, therapy, and five pins in his bones later, he's a divorced single father working himself ragged to provide a good life for his son. But the strain leaves him exhausted--and overwhelmed.

Until Camille Frasier walks into his life.

Beautiful and empathic, Camille soothes Dan's mind and eases the pains of his body. But she desires more than a gentle hand to help her body to find its fire. And she hopes Dan will give her what she needs.

But some wounds don't heal correctly. And no matter how much heat Camille offers, Dan feels trapped inside the cold box of his past. Is he strong enough to find his way out?

ROBERT'S SOUL: Robert Quidell understands the side effects of his bad boy behavior: No bonds. No commitment. No connection. He gives his goddesses one night of wish fulfillment and supernova sex. But he always wakes up alone.

Isolde Wellington understands the life of a photographer: She's outside. Always moving. Always documenting the world. She creates brilliant, soul-melting photos. But she, too, always wakes up alone.

Graduate school promises Rob the opportunity to shed his bad boy reputation. For Isa, the opportunity to crash in her brother's apartment offers a moment of stability.

They never expected to find each other.

But connection means sacrifice. Commitment-free lives offer ease--but no touch. No brilliantly fulfilled wishes. Will Rob and Isa fall into their old ways again, or will they fight for their souls' desires?

My Review:

Not only are these stories hot as all get-up, but they’re also emotionally charged. This author writes the way her characters think, adding an extra punch to the story. It really pulls you in and doesn’t let go. The intensity is pervasive. Radcliffe’s descriptions are so intricate yet vivid that the entire story becomes extremely visual. Not only do her descriptions add to the story but so does her formatting and font. Radcliffe uses these to draw attention and focus to certain aspects of scenes in a brilliant and understated manner that really packs a punch. This author also doesn’t just describe her scenes, but rather uses colours and textures and senses to allow her audience to feel and see them. As a reader, you don’t feel like a member of the audience, but rather a participant who is actively engaged in this story. This isn’t simply a story, but a work of art, weaving the old with the new in a manner unlike any other.

Radcliffe jumps right into the story, immersing you in the main character’s aura and her life right from the very first sentence. Switching perspectives between the two main characters really gives you an insight into the entirety of this story. Radcliffe switches in such a way that it is easy for the reader to keep up while maintaining a hint of mystery. This story is extremely raw and real. There is also a sense of urgency in the here and now sparked by the fact that this novel spends its entirety firmly locked in the present tense.

In each of the stories, the female lead has such a vivid imagination that you can’t help but love her. The way that she lets it run wild just heightens the experience. Seeing as part of the story is written from her perspective you get a really good sense of who she is, rather than who she pretends to be for the outside world. Her journey of self-discovery and self-worth is out there for all of us to see, even if those around her don’t. The male lead is equally well developed, although with a different sense about him. Radcliffe’s style of writing switches right along with the switch in perspectives, differentiating between the personalities of the two main characters.

I also found the supporting cast quite captivating. There are a couple that I can’t wait to get to know better, even if they are quite well put together in this novel. At the same time, there are other supporting characters that I can’t help but hate. They are completely developed as individuals, but as shady ones who don’t deserve the time of day. It adds a balance and sense of realism to this novel.

Radcliffe somehow seamlessly merges sass with eloquence in her storytelling. The story is intrinsically artistic while remaining entertaining and exciting. The heat simmering below the surface throughout this novel erupts at the end, causing an epically unexpected ending to this brilliant tale. Radcliffe combines the difficulties caused by our individual pasts with all the possibilities of the future to create an unforgettable tale of love & acceptance.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Texas Thunder by Kimberly Raye

Title:  Texas Thunder
Series:  Rebel Moonshine #1
Author:  Kimberly Raye
Publication Date:  September 1/15 by St. Martin's Press
Length:  272pgs
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  review
Rating: ★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

Set deep in the heart of Texas, bestselling author Kimberly Raye’s sizzling new series proves that men, women, and moonshine make one dangerous combination…

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

The most infamous moonshiners in Lone Star history, the Tuckers and the Sawyers have been feuding for over a hundred years. Sure, the days of buckshot and bloodshed are long gone, but it’s not over yet. To save the family business, Callie Tucker has to find the recipe for the legendary Texas Thunder moonshine. But first she’ll need to make a devil’s bargain—with a red-hot hellraiser named Brett Sawyer.

ROMANCE WITH A KICK

A Sawyer through and through, Brett was raised to never trust a Tucker—especially one as pretty as Callie. But desperate times call for desperate measures. With his ranch going bankrupt, Brett agrees to help Callie find the recipe, sell the rights, and split the profits. Of course, it won’t be easy for these two enemies to work together. But it’s even harder to ignore the sparks of attraction—when just one kiss delivers a kick stronger than any swig of moonshine…

My Review:

This novel is very steeped in pop culture. It’s so easy to picture it all happening. Raye develops the ranches of Texas in a way that allows readers to visit them while they’re enjoying a whirlwind of the story. Parts of this story are so hot they sizzle. Other parts are intensely emotional. Yet others, were funny as anything.

The perpetual back and forth for both the main characters – I can’t do this, we shouldn’t do this, but I want to do this – throughout the novel definitely formed their entire relationship. These two have very different yet equally difficult familial pasts. At the same time, they were great people in and of their own right. I enjoyed the fact that they wanted to help others. Jenna’s dating ‘dilemmas’ were absolutely hilarious. She puts new meaning into ‘say what you mean’.

This is definitely a sweet and intriguing novel that brought forth a myriad of different topics. Raye has created a hot & heartfelt novel with this one.

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Primal Force by D.D. Ayres

Title:  Primal Force
Series:  K-9 Rescue #3
Author:  D.D. Ayres
Publication Date:  September 1/15 by  St. Martin's Press
Length:  336pgs
Genre:  romantic suspense
Shelf:  review
Rating: ★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

Passion is always worth fighting for…

Jori Garrison trains dogs for Warrior Wolf Pack, which provides service animals for disabled veterans. Four years ago, she was wrongly convicted of a crime—thanks to her no-good ex-fiancé. Now she just wants to live her life in peace with her beloved dogs. No men, no complications. But it’s hard to play it cool when a lethally hot male is on her tail—and the attraction is fierce, mutual, and dangerous…

PRIMAL FORCE

Lauray "Law" Batisse is a Military Police veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan. Haunted by the loss of his K-9 partner in combat, he’s reluctant to accept a service dog named Samantha into his life. But once he meets her trainer—the gorgeous Jori Garrison—he can’t fight his primal instincts. And neither can Jori. This sexy alpha male might be the only man strong enough to unleash her desires. And when unseen enemies start hunting them down, he and his new K-9 partner might be her only hope… to survive.

My Review:

Ayres brings us back to the world of working canines & the people who love them in a big way with this one. Realism shines in this fantastic world fiction. Ayres melds suspense with romance and personal disaster in a way that I’ll never forget.

I love the complexity of the relationships in this novel, and how prominent a part the story the service dog was. It was such a true and real portrayal. As heartbreaking as Law’s past was, it was Jori’s history that really drew me in. Although what she went through wasn’t nearly as drastic, the incapableness broke my heart. The emotions and chemistry between the main characters was so real. I loved seeing it, and experiencing it through Ayres’ writing.

This series just keeps getting more captivating with each novel, yet they can all be read as standalones as well. This was a fantastic novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Interview with author R.C. Matthews

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a romantic at heart, which is why I crave a HEA ending in romance novels I read and write. Ever see Cold Mountain? Yeah, it was twelve years ago and I’m still angry about the ending. Writing is a hobby of mine at this point. I spend most of my time as a certified public accountant, so writing stories that involve businessmen, lawyers and boardrooms comes naturally to me. What else? Oh, I finally found true love on the internet. No joke. My second husband found me on Chemistry.com over seven years ago and we’re still happily raising our three kids (his son and my two sons: 15, 14, 13). I’m not looking forward to having three kids in college concurrently. Eek!

Q ~ What’s your favourite pass-time?

Reading, of course. I also enjoy watching movies, playing board games and hanging out with my family.

Q ~ What is your biggest pet peeve?

It drives me to absolute distraction and makes me crazy when my kids leave half of the kitchen cabinet doors and drawers partially open. Take the second to close them completely! Please. Grrr…..

Q ~ If you could have lunch with one person, dead, alive, or imaginary, who would it be and why?

Jane Austen, because I absolutely adore all of her books and I’d love to know what it was like being a female author in her time.

Q ~ What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? 

William Arthur Ward, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it, if you can dream it, you can become it.” I love this quote because it applies to all aspects of life and it is a fabulous message. The only limits in life are the ones we put on ourselves.

Q ~ Ebooks, paperbacks, or hardcovers?

Ebooks – mostly because I don’t have room for all of those paperbacks. I also love to listen to the books on my hour drive to work. The voice over option in Kindle is really not bad at all. But I always enjoy a good paperback or hardcover. I don’t have a preference between the two. My son, however, demands hardcover books because they keep the book looking good.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?

Romance has always been my favourite genre and historical romance is my favourite subgenre. I must have been reborn many times over the generations because I absolutely adore all historical time periods. Don’t get me wrong, I read my fair share of contemporary romances, but I’m a rule follower by nature so something about the historical genre really resonates with me.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?

I began writing when I was in elementary school, starting with poetry. In high school, I was on the yearbook and wrote at least one third of the articles in my senior yearbook. And I considered becoming a journalist, so I’ve always had a love for writing. Unfortunately, I’m also pragmatic and loved accounting in high school. When I realized I could probably make a more secure living on accounting, that’s the route I went. It wasn’t until 2012 that I seriously sat down to write my first book, which I’d originally started in the late 1990’s. I’ve been writing steadily since my debut novel was published in March 2014.

Q ~ What’s the best thing that’s happened since you began writing? The worst?

The best thing that has happened since I began writing is that I’ve met a ton of absolutely wonderful people (mostly authors) on Goodreads and other forums. It’s been wonderful to have others who are in the same boat to talk to, share ideas with and beta read for. The worst thing is that my schedule is even more jam packed than it already was! I work a full-time job, have three kids and love to watch T.V. with my husband. So finding time for everything is a challenge.

Q ~ What are your five favourite verbs to use during a love scene?

LOL…um, if I have to pick, then…swirled, licked, stroked, raked, and slammed [because sometimes rough is good, too].

Q ~ When you write, do you try to reach a specific word count or simply write until you are done?

I simply write until I’m done, however, most of my stories are in the 45,000 to 70,000 word range. When I read stories, I prefer anything up to 350 pages and I rarely read anything longer. My experience has been that most stories in excess of 350 pages could use serious editing. While that isn’t always true, it is true quite often. I’m also finding that I really love short stories and novellas. My time is extremely limited so I love it when I can read a story and it’s done within a couple of hours – I get to bed on time more often when I read shorter stories. LOL.

Q ~ Are you a plotter or a pantser?

It depends on the story. My romance novels are definitely written by the seat of my pants. I usually have a high level idea of what I want to accomplish in the story and I write chapter headlines that represent the main gist of what I plan to get across in that chapter. Then I start typing. As you can imagine, the end product is usually far from what I originally envisioned. My characters tend to high-jack the storyline and go in a direction I never could have anticipated when I started typing. I LOVE IT!

But I’m just finished writing a teen ‘high fantasy’ series for my thirteen year old son. Because the storyline takes place in a fantasy world and it is intended to be a three book series, I wrote a fairly detailed outline – at least it is detailed per my standards. There are just too many characters and plot twists to fly by the seat of my pants on that project.

Q ~ You write under multiple pen names. Why? How do you decide what gets written under each name?

Yes, I write under three pen names. My contemporary romance pen name is R.C. Matthews and I use it because I’m in a professional day job where I’d rather not have people I work with know that I’m an author. I might die of embarrassment if my boss read one of my sexy love scenes. Fun fact: My pen name is comprised of my husband’s first names (Robert Carl Matthew) – but I use the first two initials and added ‘s’ onto Matthew.

Vickie Valentine is my pen name for erotic serials. I prefer to have a separate pen name because I want the freedom to write stories that may only have a happily for now ending or may be all about the sex. A lot of readers don’t care for serials, but as an author, I find writing serials to be very satisfying. This is very different from my contemporary romances, so separating these felt right.

I’m also using a separate pen name for my teen high fantasy series because it is geared towards kids eleven and older. I definitely don’t want to confuse my readers! Fun fact: My teen fiction pen name is David N. Sebastian which are the first names of my two sons. When you say it really fast the ‘N’ sounds like ‘and’ – or at least I think it does!

Q ~ Do you prefer to write in a small town or big city setting? Why?

I don’t really have a preference. Most of my books to date have been in big cities (Detroit or Chicago), but I’m in the process of outlining a five book series that will take place in a small town in Michigan.

Q ~ What is your process for choosing character names?

Hmmm…I’m not really sure I have a process. Each story is different. The whole Wish Come True series was written for my nieces and nephews so I used their first names and all of their friend’s names. The main characters in Little White Lies – Royce and Madalyn – are simply two of my favourite names. I specifically picked the hero’s name, Brett, in A Night To Remember based on the first boy I’d ever kissed, because we kissed on a dance floor and the story line of the book starts with ballroom dancing at a charity event. In my teen fantasy series I’m naming most of the characters after the children of my friends and family, just because I want to do it. I sometimes go to a random name generator site for ideas.

Q ~ Of the works you’ve written, which is your favourite? Is there also a character that holds a special place in your heart?

My favourite story will most likely always be the first contemporary romance I wrote – Little White Lies – because the hero, Royce Spencer, is my ultimate book boyfriend. The story also represents everything I love in a sweeping romance novel. I’m a huge fan of love at first sight stories that happen in a romantic backdrop. Little White Lies is all about letting go of inhibitions and living in the moment. Who doesn’t enjoy that?

Jordan Billette in Date Night holds a special place in my heart because the character was written after my niece (and goddaughter). All of the clothes in the story are outfits of my niece – all of the favorite foods she picked out – the perfume, favorite car, etc. It’s all about Jordan. It was fun and I absolutely adore that series.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?

Yes, I alluded to it earlier. As soon as I finishing writing the last installment of my Billionaire Obsession serial (Samantha and Damon’s story), I’m starting work on a new series that features a family of four brothers and one sister. The family is prominent in a small town in Michigan where the oldest sibling runs the family apple orchard business. Each of the siblings will have a love story and it starts with the youngest – the sister – who struggles to find love with four overbearing alpha brothers scaring all of her prospects away. I haven’t tried writing a gender role reversal story yet, so my heroine is a bad-ass police officer and my hero is a wedding planner with a checkered past. Great bones for a seriously funny romantic comedy, don’t you think? The title of book one is My Secret Alpha.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?

Follow your heart and write the story you love. At the end of the day, you will never please every editor or reader that picks up your book, so make it one that you love. I still go back and reread my books every once in a while and they make me smile every single time. I love them all.

About R.C. Matthews:

R.C. Matthews was raised in the Metro-Detroit area along with three sisters and a brother by deaf parents. Her father is a voracious reader and that gene lives on in all of his children. Now the reading gene is sprouting in her own two sons who love to read J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan and may others. She graduated from a liberal arts college with a B.A. in Accounting and German and continues to work as a certified public accountant. Who says accountants don't have a wild imagination? She lived for four years in Germany and she enjoys traveling with her family (loving husband, two sons and a stepson), reading, down-hill skiing and playing board games with her family.

Connect more with R.C. and find out more about her writing via her website.  
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Reawakening the Dragon part 3 by Jessie Donovan

Title:  Reawakening the Dragon Part 3
Series:  Stonefire Dragons #16
Author:  Jessie Donovan
Publication Date:  August 27/15
Length:  70pgs
Genre:  paranormal romance
Shelf:  review
Rating: ★★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

PART THREE (of Four)

Will Kai finally reveal what happened with Maggie Jones? If he does, will Kai and Jane finally take their relationship to the next level?

18,750 words / 18+, explicit language and sexual situations / Cliffhanger

My Review:

Donovan picks up right where we left off in the previous segment of the serial and takes readers on an absolutely addictive ride! The vivid action and reactions of all of the characters made the story so very real for me. This is one of those stories that I truly experienced, rather than simply reading.

Jane & Kai are so cute & sweet together. But they also sizzle. I love how their relationship is more than just hot, more than simply a mate bond. There’s true friendship there too. Kai’s dragon may be my favourite one yet. It has such a personality of its own and was so much fun. Rafe & Nikki were fantastic comic relief. The way that they butted heads left a smile on my face. I can’t wait to see what these two get up to next.

Donovan has definitely taken Kai & Jane’s story to the next level. The interactions between the characters were genuine and the world was larger than life. If I hadn’t been hooked on this series before, I definitely would be now.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Highlander's Bride by Amanda Forester & Character Spotlight

Full Name: Sir Gavin Patrick
Nickname (if applicable): Gavin
Height: 6’1”
Hair Color: Dark brown
Eye Color: Brown
Age: 22
Originally from: born in 1337 near Balquidder, Scotland

Describe yourself in 200 words or less:
 Hullo. I am Sir Gavin, pleased to make yer acquaintance. I hail from the Highlands, under the clan MacLaren, where my uncle is laird. I came to France several years ago on a quest, which remains undone. It grieves me to leave it unfinished, but I was ‘requested’ (neatly tricked, if ye care for the truth) to escort the spoiled Lady Mary Colette to the Highlands to her new husband. When I saved the life o’ the duc de Bergerac and he promised me a rich reward, escorting his brat of a daughter, wasna exactly what I had in mind. But, I am a man o’ my word, so the lady will be deposited wi’ her affianced husband as soon as may be. And trust me, it canna be too soon.

What matters the most to you in your life? 
 Beyond serving the Good Lord, as every knight is sworn to do, my family and my clan are the most important things in my life. That is why I sought this quest, to find the resting place o’ my father, who died in battle in France, and mark it wi’ the honor that is his due. I regret I have not been able to find this place. And yet, in my return, I ken my mither will be greatly pleased to see me, so I shall be content in that. Perhaps when I return to the Highlands I shall find a bonny lass o’ my own and start a family. As soon as I can rid myself o’ the Lady Colette, that is.

What is your favorite way to pass the time? 
I have’na had much time to pass in leisure, truth be told. Since I have been in France I’ve been busy lending my sword to help the French fight against the increasing presence o’ the English. They are clever bastards they are, and they know how to fight, I’ll give them that. Back home, I did enjoy a bit o’ fishing. It shall be good to get back to the quiet life—if I can manage to sit still long enough to enjoy it!

If money was no object and you had 3 weeks free of responsibility what would you do with your time? 
That is a question that is. I am looking forward to seeing my clan again. ‘Tis not easy being a Highlander in the French court, wi’ some little noble always looking down their nose at me, or actually looking up their nose at me for I am taller here than any other knight I’ve met. And yet, I’ve got a bit o’ the wanderers soul to me, and I would no’ mind travelling a bit to see the world. Though I prefer to travel alone and no’ saddled wi’ this French lady and all her ladies and all her belongings. Saints preserve me!

About the author:

Amanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance was way more fun. A Publishers Weekly Top Ten author, her books have been given starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. You can visit her at www.amandaforester.com.

Title:  The Highlander's Bride
Series:  Highland Trouble #1
Author:  Amanda Forester
Publication Date:  September 1/15 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Length:  384pgs
Genre:  historical romance
Shelf:  Review
Rating: ★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

Their attraction is forbidden
All Highland warrior Gavin Patrick wants is to get back to his native Scotland. But before he can leave the battlefield, he’s given a final mission—escort Lady Marie Colette to her fiancé. Under no circumstances is he to lay hands on the beautiful, clever-tongued heiress…no matter how desperate the temptation.

Their desire, undeniable
Forced to pose as a married couple to make their escape from France, Gavin and Marie Colette find themselves thrown into peril…and each other’s arms. As the danger mounts, so does their forbidden passion. But it isn’t until Marie Colette is taken from him that Gavin is forced to decide—is he willing to lose the woman who stole his heart, or will he jeopardize his honor, defy his promise, and steal her in return?

Excerpt:

France, 1359
Lady Marie Colette had one chance. She needed to secure the Highlander’s agreement to decline marrying her, and she needed to do it quickly, before her father returned. She had never before defied her father, but if he thought he could protect her by arranging a marriage with a Highland warrior and send her far away to Scotland of all places, he was much confused.

In truth, Sir Gavin was a fine specimen of a man. She was fair enough to admit it. He was a young man and built on a large scale, towering over most men. He had broad shoulders and a muscular chest, well-defined beneath the formfitting surcoat. His dark brown hair hung down to his square jaw and had a bit of a thick wave to it. He was clean shaven, a surprise considering he was a barbaric Highlander.

“I have heard rumors o’ yer beauty, but ye’re bonnier than anything I heard described.” Sir Gavin spoke in a rich tone with a lyrical accent, pleasing to her ears. However, if he thought he could win her over with compliments, he was much mistaken. She had been told so often she was beautiful that the words no longer had meaning.

“Please understand. It is impossible for me to marry you. But if you make an arrangement with me now, you will not leave empty-handed. Name your weight in gold to walk away.” Her heard pounded to make such a blunt offer. In truth, she would never have made such a crass offer to a French knight, whose honor would have been greatly impinged, but Sir Gavin was a foreigner. A Highlander. Were they not only here in France to profit off of the long war?

Sir Gavin’s eyebrows rose for a moment before falling back down in resignation. “I will no’ take the fortune of a lady, nor will I force anyone to marry me.” He spoke in a careless manner, as if what she offered was nothing to him.

Colette released a breath she had not realized she was holding. Had he just agreed not to marry her? Would he simply walk away? “So you will tell my father you will not marry me?”

A wry smile played about his lips and she had the distinct impression he was not taking the situation as seriously as she thought it deserved. “I am yers to command. If ye wish me to leave, I will go.”

Relief washed over her. She would not be banished to the wilds of Scotland with some strange, albeit attractive, man. “Thank you, Sir Knight. My father, he wished to protect me by sending me far, but I cannot see myself in such a wild, foreign place. We would be most unequally yoked.”

Gavin leaned a shoulder against the stone wall and stared out the dark window into the night. “The Highlands are a rugged place and my home is no’ nearly as grand as this fine castle. ’Tis a wild place, but in the evening, when the sun’s rays touch the high peaks, setting them aglow with the fiery light, ’tis so beautiful it robs yer breath. No finely decorated hall could ever compare.”

Colette opened her mouth but no words came.

He turned back to her, appraising her finery with a critical eye. “Someday, God willing, I shall take my bride there, a bride who chooses me above all men. We will no’ be surrounded by courtiers or pageantry or fancy clothes or ridiculous pointed shoes.”

Colette swallowed, heat creeping up the back of her neck. Had he seen the points of her shoes?

He stepped close to her, moving with a fluid grace that made her heart beat faster. “In the Highlands we dinna have all yer comforts, but what we do have we fiercely defend.”

“What do you have?” she asked in a voice barely above a whisper.

“Freedom. In the Highlands, m’lady, ye would be free.”

Free? She stared up at him. He dangled before her the one thing all her riches could never buy. He offered her freedom.

He leaned nearer and her eyes fell to his lips, which inexplicably appeared soft. She could not help but respond to the irresistible pull of his inviting mouth. He moved slowly, bending down so that their lips drew dangerously close. She breathed in the scent of him, an intoxicating mix of wood smoke, fine wine, and pure man.

The door creaked and her father strode back in the room as both Colette and Gavin jumped away from each other. The duc de Bergerac spread a scroll out on a table. “This is the marriage accord I have made with the Baron of Kintail.”

“Wait…who?” Colette tried to gather together her swirling thoughts in order to form speech. She glanced at Sir Gavin. The careless smile was gone. They had both made the wrong assumption.

Gavin wasn’t meant for Colette at all.

My Review:
Forester quickly & easily takes readers back in time with this exciting novel. The historical accuracy mixed with the sense of adventure was great. It really drew me in. That said, there were times where things fit together a little too neatly for me. The coincidences and luck involved were just enough to make me question it, thus jarring me out of the story a little.

The characters were what one would stereotypically expect for the time period. Forester really plays up the religious devotion throughout, setting a certain tone for the novel. I loved the dynamic between Colette & Gavin. Their duty clashes with their desires on so many different levels. And despite the situations that they find themselves in, I had fun getting to know these two. That said, Gavin’s lack of history, or the skimming over it at least, made him difficult to really get to know.

This novel was a nice start to Forester’s new series. She sets the scene and the tone well, showing readers what to expect. At the same time, she set some things up a little more neatly, making parts of the story feel contrived rather than exciting & natural. Overall, however, it was a quite enjoyable read.

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Tall, Dark, & Immortal by Cat Devon

Title:  Tall, Dark, & Immortal
Series:  Entity #4
Author:  Cat Devon
Published:  September 1/15 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Length:  304pgs
Genre:  paranormal romance
Shelf:  Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

HE’S TAKING A BITE OUT OF CRIME.

Alex Sanchez is more than just an ordinary detective. He’s on the prowl—as a vampire. Alex uses his unique gifts to police the mean streets of Chicago like a natural predator. But when he learns that local blood banks are being robbed, he’s not sure what rattles him more: the bizarre crime wave or the stunningly beautiful journalist who’s reporting it…

SHE’S RISKING HER NECK FOR A STORY.

Keira Turner is dedicated to her job—and determined to uncover the truth. Dangerously, out-of-this-world handsome Detective Sanchez seems oddly fascinated by the crimes—and obsessed with Keira. Alex might not have a clue who’s stealing blood but he’s sure of one thing: Keira is no mere mortal. She’s descended from a long line of vampire hunters. And if they try to solve this case together, he’ll have to fight the urge to kiss her…or kill her.

My Review:

Devon has created a unique vampire novel with lots of kicks. This well laid out novel had me intrigued and loving it. It’s at times comical and suspenseful. It was a fast paced, quick read that definitely had me hooked. I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of detective and journalist, vampire & mortal. The contrasts & contradictions were fantastic.

The characters in this novel were the type that catch your attention. Their lives were intriguing, and their histories had me wanting to get to know them better. Seeing this world open before the characters was quite intriguing. Learning about them as they were learning about each other made for a heady mix.

This was a very intriguing story. Devon has created a fun & one of a kind novel that was a great read.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Ouroboros Key by Patricia Leslie

Title:  The Ouroboros Key
Author:  Patricia Leslie
Publication Date:  March 23/14 by Odyssey Books
Length:  322pgs
Genre:  fantasy
Shelf:  Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

Prophetic dreams have haunted Dan Tenney since childhood, foretelling him of a life-changing event that is soon to take place. But before he can learn the meaning of his visions, he is attacked by a shadowy group of extremists: the Brotherhood of the Grail.

Finding sanctuary underground, an ancient relic comes into his possession and Dan begins to understand the path his visions have laid out before him. His quest will be fraught with an otherwordly people and an event that could tip the balance in favour of human existence—or disastrously against it. The mysterious Brotherhood will do everything in their power to prevent Dan from fulfilling his destiny as the Bearer of Ouroboros.

My Review:

Detailed yet eloquent descriptions set the scene for this novel. There is lots of scene setting throughout, every time that they changed location. It had an eerie and foreboding feeling, while also suspenseful and intellectually stimulating. There is a very believable mystic quality to the tale that isn’t overly pronounced, even though it is infinitely important. The mixing and melding of mythologies and their parallels had me on pins and needles. It did take me a bit to catch up with the action of the story and figure out just what was going on, but when I did, I was hooked.

The questers were such an intriguing bunch. I loved how different they each were and how entrenched in modernity they kept the story. The mixes of personalities had me feeling as if I were really part of the group. I loved the random things that each group member contributed.

Did I enjoy this novel? You can bet it. Do I see potential for a sequel? Heck yes, I’m dying to read it. I’d love to see what happens next in this captivating world.

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Starlight on Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Title:  Starlight on Willow Lake
Series:  Lakeshore Chronicles #11
Author:  Susan Wiggs
Publication Date:  August 25/15 by MIRA
Length:  384pgs
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs sweeps readers away to a sun-drenched summer on the shores of Willow Lake in a stunning tale of the delicate ties that bind a family together… and the secrets that tear them apart…

When caregiver Faith McCallum arrives at the enchanted, lakeside estate of Avalon's renowned Bellamy family, she's intent on rebuilding her shattered life and giving her two daughters a chance at a better future. But she faces a formidable challenge in the form of her stubborn and difficult new employer, Alice Bellamy. While Faith proves a worthy match for her sharp-tongued client, she often finds herself at a loss for words in the presence of Mason Bellamy—Alice's charismatic son, who clearly longs to escape the family mansion and return to his fast-paced, exciting life in Manhattan…and his beautiful, jet-setting fiancée.

The last place Mason wants to be is a remote town in the Catskills, far from his life in the city, and Faith McCallum is supposed to be the key to his escape. Hiring the gentle-hearted yet strong-willed caregiver as a live-in nurse gives his mother companionship and Mason the freedom to return to his no-attachments routine. For Faith, it means stability for her daughters and a much-needed new home. When Faith makes a chilling discovery about Alice's accident, Mason is forced to reconsider his desire to keep everyone, including his mother, at a distance. Now he finds himself wondering if the supercharged life he's created for himself is what he truly wants…and whether exploring his past might lead to a new life—and lasting love—on the tranquil shores of Willow Lake.

My Review:

Family secrets & personal truths combine in a unique way in Wiggs’ latest foray back to Willow Lake. Wiggs shows how tough things really can get and where happiness can come from. Wiggs had me bawling like a baby and giggling like a teen with her first crush. I’ve never laughed so hard or cried so hard, especially at the same time. This is such a vivid story. The crises are as easy to picture as the characters, setting and romance. The beauty of this novel is in the details, the little interactions between two people, the scenery from the garden, the emotions that Wiggs portrays.

The characters in this novel truly made the story. The dichotomy between money and happiness, wants and desires really hit hard. Mason’s dilemmas were polar opposites to those faced by Faith. These two were such easy individuals to fall in love with. Not that they were simple characters, but they were so complex that I couldn’t help but feeling as if I’d truly met them. I enjoyed the way that the entire family played a role in this novel, and a big one at that. The romance between the main characters was a natural thing, building throughout the story as the characters all dealt with the hand that they were dealt.

I had so much fun with this new-found branch of the Bellamys. These guys definitely bring some extra flair and life to Willow Lake, making this my favourite in the series.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Interview with author Karen Blake Hall

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I have always lived in Ontario. My husband, my high school sweetheart, and I reside outside of Toronto.

Q ~ What’s something that you never leave home without?
A book or my E-reader.

Q ~ If you could have lunch with one person, dead, alive, or imaginary, who would it be and why?
Wow, there are so many I’d love to talk to but I’d have to say Anne Rice. I love all of her books. Her characters have such depth and would be delighted to learn how she develops that.

Q ~ How do you feel about self-publishing?
I’m a blended writer so I’m published by a publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and I’m also self-published. Right now I think authors have so many roads they can take, we can develop our careers to best express who we are.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?
I love reading all genres. My favorite stories have a romantic element. Right now I’m on a paranormal kick.

I write romantic suspense under Karen Blake-Hall and I write paranormal erotica under Kayden Claremont. Both genres are very satisfying to create in. Most people tell me I don’t look like a person who would write either genre, so I’m confused as to what I should look like. <grins>

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
I’ve always wanted to write, but I’m dyslectic so I never thought I could. Then I decided to make it a challenge to get published in spite of my learning disability.

Q ~ What’s the best thing that’s happened since you began writing? The worst?
The best is when I reader tells you they like the story. That is the most exciting thing in my life. The worst was I had a critique partner who said my stories weren’t worth her time to read. When I dropped out of the group she got mad because they couldn’t meet at my house anymore.

Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?
I play three hands of solitaire, turn on the instrumental jazz music and get down to business.

I love snacking on rice crispy squares.

Q ~ Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m definitely a pantser. I love how the story unfolds and I didn’t know that twist would happen. I figure if I’m excited about it the reader will be excited too.

Q ~ What is your process for choosing character names?
I grab my baby names book and chose something. Then as I write I always change the name to what is the correct name. I always say my characters chose their own names.

Q ~ What characters did you find yourself especially drawn to and why?
I love kick-ass woman characters. I guess it’s because I’m afraid of my own shadow. They are the opposite to me so I always say they are my alter-ego.

Q ~ Of the works you’ve written, which is your favourite? Is there also a character that holds a special place in your heart?
I love You Are Mine. My husband had to go to Yellowknife for work so we decided to take the kids and make it a holiday to Yellowknife and I fell in love with the town, the people and the setting.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
Right now I working on the next books in the Heaven and Hell series by Kayden and Trapped by Karen Blake-Hall

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Write every day. Even for a few words a day. That way you never lose the story.



About the author:

Karen has been crafting exciting stories of adventure and love of dogs since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but no one could decipher her spelling. Later in life, when she learned how to spell, her stories were better appreciated.

Karen’s sharp-bladed fiction cuts to the heart of the emotions driving her characters in desperate situations.

When she’s not crafting thrilling romantic suspense stories, she can be found drinking tea with friends, crocheting or making jewellery.

Her husband, The Professor, claims to be the muse for all her stories, and her children, The First Born, His Lady, The Gamer and the Shooter are her biggest cheerleaders.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime International; Sisters in Crime Toronto; Crime Writers of Canada; Romance Writers of America, Toronto Romance Writers and WCDR.

Karen loves to hear from her readers and you can contact her at her Facebook site or at her website.

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Candlelight Christmas by Susan Wiggs

Title:  Candlelight Christmas
Series:  Lakeshore Chronicles #10
Author:  Susan Wiggs
Publication Date:  October 28/14 by Harlequin MIRA
Length:  384pgs
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  own
Rating: ★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR SUSAN WIGGS INVITES YOU TO AN UNFORGETTABLE CHRISTMAS IN THE CATSKILLS

A single father who yearns to be a family man, Logan O'Donnell is determined to create the perfect Christmas for his son, Charlie. The entire O'Donnell clan arrives to spend the holidays in Avalon, a postcard-pretty town on the shores of Willow Lake, a place for the family to reconnect and rediscover the special gifts of the season.

One of the guests is a newcomer to Willow Lake— Darcy Fitzgerald. Sharp-witted, independent and intent on guarding her heart, she's the last person Logan can see himself falling for. And Darcy is convinced that a relationship is the last thing she needs this Christmas.

Yet between the snowy silence of the winter woods, and toasty moments by a crackling fire, their two lonely hearts collide. The magic of the season brings them each a gift neither ever expected—a love to last a lifetime.

My Review:

What a picturesque return to Willow Lake. Wiggs has once again painted a beautiful backdrop for her heartfelt novel. She portrays emotions in a realistic manner while tackling some tough topics. At the same time, she tells a beautiful story of love and risking it all.

I loved seeing Logan finally become himself. The transition from surviving to living was fantastic. The alignment of his priorities with the way that he wants to live his life, rather than the way his family thinks he should leads such insight into who he truly is. Countered by the difficulty that he’s having being a long distance father, this created a complete picture of the loveable individual that Logan’s become. Darcy’s charismatic exterior clashes with her cautiousness in an intriguing manner. I loved the complexity and liveliness of her. I definitely got a kick out of how Darcy was named. It was priceless. Getting to know the O’Donnell clan better was also a treat. We’ve met some of them in passing throughout the series, but this up close and personal look at them left me with a smile on my face.

This is the type of novel that is perfect for the holidays, yet loveable all year round. Wiggs has created an intimate Christmas full of love & family.

Book Links 
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Vampire Ascension by Eva Pohler


Title:  Vampire Ascension
Series:  Vampires of Athens #3
Author:  Eva Pohler
Published:  August 24/15 by Green Press/Eva Pohler
Length:  286pgs
Genre:  YA paranormal
Shelf:  review
Rating: ★★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

When seventeen-year-old Gertie leaves New York to study abroad in Athens, she learns that vampires and demigods are real and unwittingly becomes a catalyst to an uprising led by Dionysus, lord of the vampires.

In this final installment, Gertie, Jeno, and Hector struggle to bring a peaceful resolution to the war in Athens, but any success they make comes at great cost. How many more people must die for freedom and justice? The teens quickly learn that nothing is fair in love and war. Sometimes even love requires a terrible price.



My Review:

This fast paced, action intensive story was a great conclusion to Pohler’s Vampires of Athens trilogy. I love the mix of vampires and Greek mythology. Pohler’s unique twist on both, bringing them together in such a unique manner creates a fantastic backdrop for the world that she’s created. I thoroughly enjoyed the different looks at the Greek Pantheon, the way that she keeps true to the Greek myths, while also giving them a twist. The message of accepting our differences, whatever they may be, was quite poignant.

Pohler’s world and character building continue throughout this novel, without regurgitating what we’ve learned in previous novels. I love how her larger than life descriptions continue to build the unique pockets of the world that her characters inhabit while also depending on the true geography of our planet. The characters also continue to grow with their adventures. I love how they stay who they are yet their understanding of the world around them and of the individuals around them grows by leaps and bounds. Gertie’s need to stand up for what’s right, regardless of the personal consequences was fantastic. The original songs in the novel also add to the story. Not only do the lyrics give you a peek into who Hector is on the inside, but they also set the tone for certain scenes.

Pohler has definitely created a YA novel (and series) that will be loved by readers of all ages. The unique blend of the paranormal with Greek mythology is breathtaking and will leave you dying for more.

Book Links 



If you don't already have the first book, Vampire Addictiongo here for your FREE copy

Come celebrate this new release with fun games and prizes at our Facebook event tonight! Click to join!


As part of the celebration, Eva is giving away a signed set of paperbacks of ALL SIX books in her Gatekeeper's Saga, plus an Eva Pohler's Books drawstring tote full of swag. Click here to enter!




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