CONTENTS | BTS Book Reviews | July 2013 |
CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL
Featuring: Maggie Anderson Nicola Cornick Karen Maitland
Featuring: Helena Harker
SCI FI & FANTASY Featuring: Carrie Ann Ryan Ilona Andrews
PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE Featuring: Kelly Gay Milly Taiden Rhiannon Frater
Author of the First Responders Series 4 | www.BTSeMag.com
YOUNG & NEW ADULT Featuring: Suzanne Van Rooyen
Blog Beat 110 Not-to-be-missed blogs!
COLUMNS The Lowdown with Laurie 8 An Important Service Annoucement About Your Facebook Like Page Chic Trends in Romance 30 Alpha Heroes
Women in Power 34 Catherine the Great The Heat Diva 38 Contemporary Cautionary
SHORT STORIES & SERIALS
The Scrying Eye 71 Comic Edition
Lynnâ€™s Writing Tips 98 Thought-Provoking Last Lines Tech Savvy Writer 102 Five Tips From My Hero (My Mom) Marketing & Promotion 105 Showcase Your Hero
It came as no surprise to Vandella Chase when cigarette holders dropped out of vogue. The way she approached it: the affectation had fallen victim to the changing times, when grunge turned glamour on its head. Now, however, even cigarettes had fallen so out of fashion that if you had the audacity to light up in your own backyard, you courted the risk of the tobacco police vaulting your privacy...
Second Chance Cinema 108 Real-Life Heroes
11 51 How To Make Your Website Really Work 100 by Dawn Seewer Lisa Kessler Goes To RT 14
After a week filled with uncertainty and a night that took me on a roller coaster of emotions, I had finally decided to let go of Jack. Talking it out with my girls made me realize that I had to put myself first above all else. So I had driven home with the knowledge that it may hurt and sting for a while, but I would be better off. After all... July 2013 | 5
From the Desk of
Myra Nour BTS CEO
New Associate Editor We are happy to welcome our new Associate Editor, Kellyann Zuzulo, who is joining us to help edit the final copy of the magazine. This is an important job. She has an outstanding background, including a bachelor’s degree in journalism and working as a reporter for local newspapers. Kellyann was also an editor for Yankee Magazine, plus national consumer and health magazines. Through Mystical Publishing, her editorial consulting service, she provides editing services for authors, publishing companies, and businesses, both local and international. Kellyann is the published author of romance fiction. Her novel The Genie Ignites is a finalist in the 2013 Abalone Awards for “Outstanding Ethno-Cultural Romance. New Reviewers BTS would like to welcome our new reviewers for the magazine. We appreciate your hard work and hope you have found new books and authors to fall in love with. Hunky Heroes Centerfold WHOO HOO!! We have something extra special for you in this issue. What woman doesn’t love a man in uniform, from the Alpha soldier to the muscled fireman? To honor the heroes in our lives we have created this model spread for your viewing pleasure. Bloghops In September we will be hosting a bloghop almost every month. So be sure and check our website for updates. www.btsemag.com. Happy reading!
Book Reviews Book & Trailer Showcase
Executive Coordinator Myra Nour Executive Designer Dawn Seewer Designer/Scheduler Christina Wilhelm Designer/ Review Team Assistant Nikki McCarver Designer Mike Milliken Editor Sheri Kraft Associate Editor Kellyann Zuzulo Review Coordinator Annette Stone Promotions Coordinator/ Review Team Assistant Grinelda Markowitz Author Liaison Leslie Ferdinand
REVIEWERS: Angelique Engelbrecht, Ava VonGiebel, Eniko Tolnai, Francine Alli, Iris Montalvo Pross, Jacque Burford, Lauren Johnson, Leslie Ferdinand, Liberty Ann Ireland, Lori Zalewski, Lynn A. Reynolds, Lynda Frazer, Marie Haney, Melanie Gordon, Naz Keynejad, Rhonda G. Dennis, Robert Jennings, Stephanie Phillips, Susan Frances COLUMNISTS: Sandra Bunino, Lynn Crain, Christy English, Laurie Garrison, Claire Gillian, Karen M. Gross, Kelly Hudson, Mary Manners, Nicole Morgan WEBSITE: BTSeMag.com EMAIL: info@BTSeMag.com Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/BtsBookReviews No material in this magazine can be used or copied without BTS or the author’s permission. © Copyright 2013. BTSeMag, BTS Book Reviews, All Rights Reserved. By submitting material to BTS Book Reviews or its affiliates, authors certify they own the rights to all published information.
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The Lowdown with Laurie Laurie Garrison
Are you a blogger or author who uses Facebook Like Pages as a way to promote? Well, what you might not know is not all of your posts are showing up on your readers’ feeds. Why? Well let’s just say, Facebook is in for making money. I started noticing something the first of this year with my Like Page. I had always relied on NetworkedBlogs to post my blog’s posts over on my blog’s Like Page. But, I found out you can’t do this. I should have caught this way earlier, but I didn’t. You see I have my blog’s Like Page and my personal Facebook separate, and I have my personal Facebook follow my blog. So in doing this, my blog’s postings should show up in my personal Facebook’s feed, but sad to say, most posts didn’t make it into my feed. I didn’t have a clue at the time as to why or how to fix it. Then a few months back, one of our reviewers started posting some of her own topics on the blog’s Like Page without links, and I noticed they would get over 150 hits vs. our regular NetworkedBlogs post getting around fifty hits, and her hand post would show up in my personal Facebook feed. As I kept seeing this happen, I figured it was a NetworkedBlogs problem, so I stopped using NetworkedBlogs and started hand posting all of the blog’s posts over to
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the Facebook Like Page. This just got to be too time consuming, and I still didn’t see all of my blogs post on my personal Facebook feed. So, I linked my Like Page back to NetworkedBlogs. Then a week ago I was chatting with one of our other reviewers, Ollie, and as we were chatting, we both noticed the difference between hand posting and posting with NetworkedBlogs. Hand posts were getting over one hundred views vs. NetworkedBlogs getting thirty or fewer. So, I said right then, NetworkedBlogs had to go. But still even with us hand posting our reviews and adding the “Get Notifications and Show in News Feed” warning to our readers, they still weren’t getting all of our posts because I still wasn’t seeing half of them in my personal Facebook’s feed. A few days ago, Ollie found a post by romance author Cat Johnson titled “Facebook’s Games.” I took the author’s post and posted it on my Facebook with the link to her blog. I wanted to warn all of my readers that Facebook wasn’t cutting it. Well, after that post sat there for a day, it only received ninety-eight views. Scratching my head as to why the views count was so low, I started looking back though the last few months and I noticed something.
Any post without links would get around 150 views vs. posts with links would run around one hundred. I had to make sure I was looking at it right. I decided to post the author’s post again, but this time I added the link to her site in the comments. Bam! Within two hours, that post received over 200 views. Basically, like the author said in her blog’s post, Facebook wants you to pay for ads. They don’t want your posts to be seen, they want money. So, if you want to beat Facebook at its own game, this is what you have to do. Do not have anything feeding your post onto your Like Page. You, yourself, must personally go to your Like Page and hand type all of your posts and do not post any URL links there. You have to add your links into your comments. And it’s a good idea to have your followers to make sure they have “Get Notifications and Show in News Feed” checked. Believe me I know this is going to cost you precious time, but if you want the maximum views for your post, this is what you’re going to have to do. Besides, what do you have to lose? So give it a try, and see if you don’t grab more readers than you are used to.
As for Facebook’s ads, well . . . they suck too because some authors or bloggers will try to place an ad, but Facebook rejects the ad for various odd reasons. As for share posts from other Facebook Like Pages, don’t expect everyone to see them either. I shared a picture of Grumpy Cat, and it only received thirty views. I am still clueless as how to fix this problem.
So, to Facebook I say, bring it. I’m sure you’ll eventually catch on to what we are doing, and then you’ll just change your rules again. But someone will eventually beat you at your game.
Hello, my name is Laurie. I’m a mom that found the love for reading again late in life. I opened a book review blog a few years back and have been nonstop since. My review blog has led me to do different things in the writing world, such as the opening of the Indie Romance Convention and this column. I live in Tennessee with my hubby, daughter, and lots of fur babies. bittenbyparanormalromance.com July 2013 | 9
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There are several things a beta reader should know before agreeing to help an author in this capacity. It’s not a responsibility to be taken lightly, and it involves more work than you might think. First, the beta reader isn’t reading a book. They’re reading a manuscript. It should never be rated and reviewed for the public, because it isn’t finished. It isn’t even an ARC (advance reading copy). It could change quite a bit after editing is complete. It could change drastically, based upon your feedback! Things that might have interfered with your enjoyment may very well be taken care of by the time a book hits the shelves.
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| How to Beta Read a Manuscript | What the beta reader needs to do is review it for the author and the author alone. If you’re used to being a reviewer, perhaps rating it in your head will help. If it’s not a five-star manuscript in the beta reader’s opinion, she needs to tell the author(s) why not and additionally what he, she, or they can do to make it one. Both good and bad feedback before a book is published (and it’s too late to change) is extremely valuable for authors.
a clever, intelligent woman with discerning taste.*
I’m going to be brave and share a few things my beta reader had to say about the manuscript I just completed. With her permission, I’m printing what she said word for word, and giving you all my knee-jerk first reactions. I may take her suggestions and I may not. I need to consider all the implications—especially since this is a series and some bits may affect other books.
*Okay, I get it. You don’t have to get pushy.*
Beta Reader Suggestions are in Red Author’s responses are in Blue LOVED Flirting with Dragons! The book is awesome. Bliss is amazing. She is so funny and snarky and cool. Drake is sexy and sweet. I LOVE Mother Nature. She’s my favorite. I think you do a phenomenal job building the world and welcoming characters into Boston Uncommon. The secondary characters are among your greatest strengths and I think your cast of characters rocks! I look forward to seeing this series develop over the course of several books (can’t wait for Anthony and Claudia!). *Kudos to her for recognizing my brilliance! She is indeed
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A scene to show that Gaia is watching what’s going on and is maybe concerned about the initial fire (or the recent spree of fires). IDK. She doesn’t appear until very late in the book, and, since she’s going to play such a pivotal role in Bliss’s life, I just think the reader should get to meet her much sooner.
Is there any way you can up the tension and enhance the suspense with Drake and have him reflecting on the recent rash of fires? It is a great thread, but it isn’t really exploited enough, and it could give the reader a clear idea of where the story is going. *Humph. I’ll think about it.* Despite my silly commentary, I realized the whole time how lucky I was to benefit from an excellent beta reader’s impressions and suggestions. Here’s what a good beta reader should do: 1. Provide honest, insightful feedback in a constructive, positive fashion. 2. Alert the author to anachronisms, logic gaps, or material that may be confusing. If something is “unbelievable” or draws the reader out of the story, then these sections
should be indicated. 3. Consider the manuscript from a macro perspective. Do the plot elements work? Do the characters act and react in manners befitting their personalities, circumstances/ motivations/goals? 4. Comment on the pacing. Is this book a page-turner? Or do some sections lag? Does each chapter propel the plot forward or is there “filler material”? 5. Rate the book on a scale of 1–10. Tell the author if this is a book you would want to read again and/or recommend to a friend. 6. Keep the material and/or suggested edits confidential. The author/beta relationship is all about trust.
Ashlyn Chase describes herself as an Almond Joy bar, a little nutty, a little flaky, but basically sweet, wanting only to give her readers a scrumptious, satisfying, reading experience. She is a multi-published, award-winning author of humorous erotic and paranormal romances. www.ashlynchase.com
So, thank you, dear readers, for reading and reviewing our published books, but please don’t rate or review a book you beta read unless you read it all over again in its finished state. An ARC that a publicist sends out to reviewers is pretty much finished. It still needs to be proofread by the author. Some things get past editors, and those mistakes will be glaring to the author on the last pass. This is why it takes me six months to produce a novel. It will take another six for a major publisher to position it for marketing . . . adding an attractive cover, enticing blurb, putting it in front of potential buyers, and hopefully, someday, getting it on those bestseller lists. As a last note to beta readers, if you have any questions about a manuscript, don’t hesitate to ask the author(s). If anything is still ambiguous, he, she, or they would welcome the chance to make it clear. Trust me.
Nicole Resciniti loves discovering new talent and helping established authors to take their career to the next level. www.theseymouragency.com/About-Us.html
Based on my beta reader’s feedback, I revised the entire first seven chapters of the novel, which was published in spring 2013. If authors are smart, they’ll listen to and consider any and all feedback. A critique partner and editor are (in my opinion) invaluable, but a good beta reader can make a huge impact too.
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Lisa Kessler Goes To RT
Lisa Kessler is an award-winning author of dark paranormal fiction. Her debut novel, Night Walker, won a San Diego Book Award for Best Published Fantasy-Sci-fi-Horror as well as the Romance Through the Ages Award for Best Paranormal and Best First Book. - authorlisakessler.com
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This year the RT Convention brought us to Kansas City Missouri for a huge 30th Anniversary celebration at the Sheraton. With over 1,500 registered attendees, the hotel was full of excitement from all the romance readers, writers, and more than a few cover models. Kansas City treated us to beautiful fountains and friendly people, and even a little snow. In May! Yes, I videotaped the snow coming down, but in my defense I’m from San Diego. It doesn’t do that here! If you’ve never attended an RT Convention, here’s a little summary. It’s hosted by RT Book Review Magazine, and caters to authors, readers and aspiring authors. There were over 125 panels and events geared toward readers, book bloggers, librarians, book sellers, aspiring authors, and published authors. There are also nightly parties, evening mixers, two huge book fairs to get signed books and meet authors, and, for aspiring authors, there are pitch sessions and an RT Idol writing competition. Definitely something for everyone. The highlights for me were the parties. Ellora’s Cave threw a Disco-Themed party complete with Lava lamps for each party-goer. Harlequin hosted a dance party. Heather Graham’s annual Vampire Ball featured a murder mystery with a cast of many well-known authors. But the RT Formal Ball stole the show! Kathryn Falk, founder of RT Book Review Magazine, hosted the event which featured romance legends like Jude Deveraux, Mary Balogh, Janelle Taylor, Jennifer Blake, Laura Kinsale and Karen Robards. We also heard Larry Kirshbaum, former CEO of Time Warner Publishing. He shared his memories from the beginning of the romance publishing. It was interesting and inspiring! Then my publisher, Entangled Publishing, took over with Liz Pelletier discussing her vision for the future of publishing. I finished off her speech by leading over 50 Entangled authors in singing a rousing rendition of “We’re Entangled Publishing my friends” to the tune of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”… Epic! The Book Fairs are a super place to meet authors. I was signing at both the e-book/Indie book fair and the HUGE signing on Saturday. Both events were full of readers, some with rolling luggage full of books! I met so many wonderful people, readers and authors alike. If you’ve never made it to an RT Convention, 2014 will be in New Orleans. I’ll be there and I hope I’ll see you there too!
July’s FEATURED COVER author
LOUGH Author of the First Responders Series
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DUSTY AND GRACE FIND LOVE TOGETHER, BUT WILL IT BE ENOUGH TO PULL THEM THROUGH TRAGEDY? On a steamy spring morning, Dusty Parker—part-time pastor, part-time search-and-rescue team member, and full-time administrator of a school for troubled boys—joins the search for a missing teenage girl. He partners with volunteer and inner-city school teacher Grace Sinclair, and what they find bonds them in ways neither could have expected. As they begin to build their lives together, a visitor from the past causes Dusty and Grace to further open their hearts and home. But a threat is looming on their seemingly perfect lives and in one terrifying night… …everything changes. REVIEW: I love a simple love story that is not complicated by sexual acts. Dusty and Grace meet under stressful circumstances, but a need for each other begins to grow. Someone’s past won’t stay buried and resurfaces threatening their future. Love, faith in God and each other will get them through. This is a romance story that is not sexual, but deeply emotional. It can be read as a stand-alone as I did, but the earlier books sound just as wonderful and should not be missed. The author did well staying true to herself and her genre of book. | Reviewer: Michele Page |
July 2013 |
Interview with Loree by Michele Page
Do you have any specific writing rituals? Hmm...guess I’d have to say I have certain writing needs. Like having my character bios nearby. The file containing my research and interview notes. My favorite dictionary. A pencil and tablet for writing down all those questions that pop up while I’m writing...things I have to research more deeply and things that crop up as the stories/characters develop. My trusty laptop, of course. And I’m addicted to electricity. Oh. And coffee. Let’s not forget the importance of caffeine! LOL Who are your favorite authors to read when you have time to enjoy delving between the pages?
With the current explosion of erotic romance, how were you able to create a series that created multi-dimensional characters without the need to make their relationship sexual? I get letters from thousands of readers who aren’t exclusively inspirational fans, and they tell me they love the fact that my stories are never preachy, and that they love how real the characters are. That, I think, is what every author is shooting for: Creating believable, three-dimensional characters our readers can closely identify with. Once the reader connects to the characters, I try hard to keep them engaged by focusing on one character point of view per scene, which means the reader is in the character’s head... and that includes their physical reactions. Instead of using clinical terms to describe those reactions, or graphic terms, I dig deep into the emotional aspects of the physical relationship. And according to those letters from readers, they don’t miss the sexual act one bit. To sum up what most of them say, “I get my ‘jollies’ by reading erotica. When I want a full-fledged story, I buy a Loree Lough book.” Proof, I guess, of the “different strokes for different folks” cliché! <g>
Readers tell me my style is similar to Nicholas Sparks, so I make a point of grabbing his latest releases, mostly to see if I can figure out why. Trouble is, I get so wrapped up in his books that I forget to look for those similarities! <g> I enjoy Grisham, and Dean Koontz. And revisiting all those old classics that I was too immature to ‘get’ as a kid in school. If you had not become an author, what occupation would you see yourself doing? You’d probably find me at the local mall, a city park, the zoo or a topiary gardens...tending the plants and flowers. One of my favorite pastimes is digging in the dirt! With nearly 4,500,000 books in circulation, bestselling author Loree Lough’s 99 novels have earned hundreds of awards, 4- and 5- star reviews, and 4 movie options. A writer who believes in giving back, she dedicates a generous portion of her annual income to charity. Visit www.loreelough.com for the complete list.
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CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL
the HAPPILY ever AFTER
REVIEWS and more
BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed
& HISTORICAL | book reviews |
My Highland Lord Tarah Scott
A Bandit’s Stolen Heart Michelle McLean
London Heiress kidnapped by the Marquess of Ashlund, read the headlines. Yet no one tried to save her.
It’s 1856 and prospectors have mostly abandoned the once prosperous gold mining town of Bethany Ridge, California. Now the town is under siege by a crooked sheriff and his posse. With little justice in their neck of the wild west, Cilla Richardson becomes the notorious bandit Blood Blade to rob from the corrupt lawmen and set things right by the townspeople.
Historical Romance Heat Rating: 5
Phoebe Wallington was seven years old when a mass assassination attempt rocked Regency England. Her father was the only accused traitor to elude capture. Now as a grown woman and a British spy, she is no closer to learning what really happened that day. Phoebe’s quest for the truth takes a sudden turn when she’s kidnapped by a suspected traitor. But Kiernan MacGregor, the Marquess of Ashlund, may not live long enough to stand trial. Someone wants him dead. And Phoebe stands in the killer’s way. REVIEW: Prepare to be swept away in a glorious highland adventure with one daring and completely loveable English Miss. I really enjoyed Phoebe’s character. She was smart, witty, sneaky, and used every angle to her advantage. At times, I almost felt sorry for Kiernam...almost..lol. But it seems that Kiernam isn’t the only man who is determined to have her. Even though he sets out to undo the damage he had unknowingly brought on Phoebe, she fights him at every turn. This books was completely engrossing and enraptured you from start to finish, and what an ending indeed!! A must read for all Historical Romance lovers, but be warned: this isn’t your mother’s historical romance!! This book is sure to capture your heart and leave you in breathless anticipation for the next edition!! | Reviewer: Nikki McCarver |
Historical/Western Romance Heat Rating: 3
When handsome Leo Forrester comes looking for blood Blade’s help, he ends up on the wrong side of Blood Blade’s pistol. But when he discovers the renegade is really the feisty Cilla, he decides to do what he can to aid her cause. The more time he spends with Cilla, the more determined Leo is to steal her stubborn bandit’s heart. Then innocent people are murdered and the sheriff fixes to pin the deaths on Blood Blade. Leo must convince Cilla of his love and the town of her innocence or the jig will be up and she’ll be swinging from a hangman’s noose come dawn. REVIEW: Exciting, fun and hilarious, this well written offering from Michelle McLean throws you into the thrilling world of the Wild West. From start to finish, this book is full of adventure as it takes you through shootouts, a train robbery, and introduces you to three outlaw sisters who rob from the rich to right the woes of the poor. The Richardson sisters are feisty, tenacious and complex - everything you’d expect out of bandits. Cilla, the main character of the story, is sassy and determined to do the right thing at every cost, even if that means putting aside her feelings for Leo, the out-of-towner who gets pulled into the sisters’ antics. The story is fast-paced with just a touch of intimacy. The combination of a fantastic plot, well-developed characters and colorful language makes this book unforgettable and makes the Wild West exciting yet again. | Reviewer: Marie Haney |
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| CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | Norse Jewel Gina Conkle
Historical Romance Heat Rating: 2
her home, Alex has no time for relationships. She refuses to fall into the same trap that her mother fell into and become involved with a married man. Then, the soon-to-be-married Elliot Walker storms into her life, tempting her to forget the hard lessons she learned as a child. Out of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, secrets are revealed, relationships tested, and true love born.
AD 1022 A stolen woman of rare qualities… Seized by marauders and taken to the icy northlands by the wolf-eyed Viking warrior, Helena will do whatever it takes to earn her freedom and return to France. A mighty Viking Chieftain… Betrayal has turned Hakan’s heart to ice, but the spirited Frankish maid warms him in a way he’s never known. The spell she weaves leaves them both breathless, but can he keep his promise to return her home even if it means he’ll lose his precious jewel forever? REVIEW: Surprisingly realistic and undoubtedly entertaining, Norse Jewel is written in a way that transports readers into the Viking period where slavery is normal, most people don’t bathe, and life is dictated by the strongest sword. Mighty, fierce, and sexy, Hakan just wanted a peaceful life in his farm and an elderly thrall to help him tend it. However, unnatural attraction draws him to purchase a young and courageous thrall, Helena. In a fascinating plot filled with multiple layers of treachery and lies, Norse Jewel entertains the readers with not just a sweet love story but also the unwavering wisdom that true loves waits and protects.
REVIEW: Picture Perfect is a fabulous, steamy love story. I was surprised to get caught up in the post Katrina setting of New Orleans as much as the main story. I quickly grew attached to Alex. Rachel’s character proves that no amount of education, prestige or wealth can change a person’s essence and watching Rachel’s veneer crumble hooked me as well as watching Elliot realize and fight for what he truly wants, not what he presumes should be. Throughout the story Elliot and Alex battle internally against the love they are falling into that neither one of them really believes they deserve. A surprise attack and an unlikely savior bring everything out into the open including a long buried secret that will shock everyone to the core. But will Elliott and Alex survive the aftermath in order to find happiness? | Reviewer: Drue A. Hoffman |
The Reprobate Dorothy A. Bell
Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3
| Reviewer: Francine Alli |
Picture Perfect Lesley C. Ferdinand
Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4
Lexis Morgan returned to New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. Determined to focus on rebuilding her interior decorating business and saving
Royce O’Bannon plays the fiddle as a man possessed. Unlike his brother Quinn, Royce takes after his whisky-sodden, vengeful old man, Stanley O’Bannon, and defiantly admits to being a reprobate, irredeemable in the eyes of good society, a lost cause bound to hang and burn in hell. He also figures God hadn’t made the woman who could tame the beast that lurked deep down in his worthless Irish soul. No woman should have anything to do with him. Then one frosty night, at a town social, he sees her, the crippled goddess, Cleantha Arnaud, the schoolmaster’s daughter, a wounded bird, beautiful, fragile and way above his touch. July 2013 | 23
| CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | With Cleantha accompanying him on the piano, keeping up with his unrelenting pace, they play jig after jig, waltz after waltz, schottische after schottische. Cleantha intrigues him as no other woman before, and if he reads the gleam in her river-green eyes correctly, the feeling is mutual. REVIEW: Laura Creek, a burgeoning town in the mountains of Oregon is the setting for Dorothy Bell’s historical western The Reprobate. She shows she has a firm grasp of the plagues and tribulations which impounded the early settlers creating an authentic atmosphere that evokes sympathy from the reader. An ironclad romance sprouts amidst this rugged climate between a brazen wastrel and a maimed lady. Bell’s sharpness for describing her hero and heroine’s insecurities and hidden desires hits the reader with startling reality. Their battles are fought internally and against external forces endeavoring to keep them apart. The pace of the tale flows naturally as the main characters are challenged and compelled to make choices without a blueprint to guide them. It’s a story that readers can relate to on many levels and afterwards feel quite a bit more enlightened about themselves as seen through the characters. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |
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The Wagonmaster Nita Wick
Historical Western Romance Heat Rating: 3
Medical school taught Dr. Adelaide Jennings that there is no cure for her father’s consumption. Determined to reach him in Oregon before the disease claims him, Addie will risk anything. Even her own life. Joshua Reynolds escorts people along the arduous and often dangerous Oregon Trail. He cannot force the members of the train to allow an unwed woman to join them. But the foolish doctor is determined to make the journey, even if she has to go alone. To protect the willful, spoiled young woman, Josh agrees to marry Addie in name only. Together they embark on a journey that tests their mettle, challenges their beliefs, and inflames their senses.
| CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | REVIEW: Got to love a good historical romance, and The Wagonmaster was just that! An interesting mix of historically accurate and sexy, Josh and Addie completely carry this romance with interesting, authentic character traits and chemistry that smolders - and even the parts that aren’t full blown romance are intriguing and entertaining which is always the mark of a good book for me. ;) I loved this story, the fact that it had everything I look for in a great read, and the fact I resented putting it down made it to my favorite historical western romances. I was invested in seeing just how this sham of a marriage was going to turn out, the relationship had that delicious tug and push of a couple who started off on a wrong foot but fancy the pants off each other, literally, well in her case skirts off each other. ;) Plus you got a hot honest to god cowboy... what’s better than that? | Reviewer: Niina Cord |
The Lady and the Laird Nicola Cornick Historic Romance Heat Rating: 4
Lucy MacMorlan is a bluestocking with a secret: to make a living she writes love letters on behalf of her brother and his friends. Then her meddling brings her into conflict with Robert Methven, a man with the power to ruin her reputation. REVIEW: Is it magic under a full moon or the magic of love years later that bring these two hardened hearts together? “....she would have to meet a man more interesting than a book, and that was more difficult than it sounded.” Between
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| CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | passionate kisses and the will of a strong man, her book was about to be rewritten. She may write erotic love letters, but he had the nerve to bring them to reality, with her! With old clan rivals, secret alliances and past grievances will they commit to each other or be swept away to a bad conclusion? A story as old as time and full of spark! | Reviewer: Gypsy Holley |
Andre’s Side of the Story Toby Joyce Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 0
He had everything. Special Agent Andre Dominique lived a life that most men only dreamed of. His job was full of adventure, intrigue and danger. He had plenty of money,
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good looks and was in excellent physical condition. He had loving parents and a brother who was his best friend. The only thing he didn’t have was a love of his own. Most women, he learned, didn’t want a partner who risked their life on a daily basis. Yet, he remained hopeful. Yes, he was a special agent, strong and confident; but he was also a man, much like any other man, with needs, vulnerabilities, and insecurities, especially when it came to women. Was he destined to live alone, married to his career; or would he find that one woman to love, who had evaded him for so many years? REVIEW: A strong man with a heart, excitement and romance, for all us readers that long for their own hero with a heart that fills the role of savior and seducer, this is the book for you. This book is for sure more about love than sex so for anyone that’s tired of all the vivid humping and sweating this is a good book to read. There are love scenes but they are more vaguely mentioned than actually described. I really enjoyed getting to follow along Andre and Cheryl’s journey into curiosity, love and honesty. | Reviewer: Krissy Malott |
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| CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews |
My Highland Love Tarah Scott
Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3
How does a woman tell her betrothed that she murdered her first husband? Elise Kingston is a wanted woman. Nothing, not even Highlander Marcus MacGregor, will stop her from returning home to ensure that the man responsible for her daughterâ€™s death hangs.
REVIEW: Intrigue, secrets, and distrust surround Marcus and Eliseâ€™s romance. Set in the Scottish Highlands and with a twisting plot that will surely leave the reader guessing, My Highland Love is a good story about two people who were given another chance at love and how they fought for it despite the politics that surround them, and the law itself, for Elise has killed her husband. Tarah Scott create real characters who are imperfect yet courageous. Her main characters keep on developing until the very end, assisted and complimented by colorful side characters. Sweet and playful love scenes are peppered throughout the novel adding excitement to the story. | Reviewer: Francine Alli |
Until she must choose between his life and her revenge.
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Chic Trends in Romance Sandra Bunino
What’s sexier than a romance hero complete with an extra helping of ALPHA? Try . . . NOTHING! Alpha heroes are my absolute faves. Sure they’re driven, possessive, and arrogant, but they love intensely, and that’s oh-sosexy, isn’t it? I asked some of my romance author colleagues to pick the top five reasons to love an Alpha. Here’s what they had to say . . .
1. Iyana Jenna says she goes weak in the knees when Alphas are protective over the ones they love. 2. D.C. Stone loves when an Alpha not only knows but goes after what he wants. 3. Doris O’Connor says the arrogance and swagger that hide a soft heart is what makes her love Alpha heroes.
Only, when Gabe and Megan meet again and uncontrollable flames of desire ignite between them, how can he possibly ignore her courage, determination, and beauty? And how can she deny not only his strong bond with her daughter . . . but the way his sweetly sensual kisses are challenging her to risk everything she’s been guarding for so long?
4. Siobhan Muir loves their confidence and determination in the face of overwhelming odds. 5. Morgan King adores when Alphas are not afraid to go after what they want, particularly when it comes to the heroine. Don’t we all want to be wanted beyond rational behavior? Now that we know why we love them, let’s take a look at a few tried and true Alpha-yummy types.
The Pilot: The Firefighter: Can’t Help Falling in Love
(The Sullivans, #3, Indie Book) by Bella Andre Get ready for another Sullivan bad boy to fall in love in the third book of Bella Andre’s bestselling contemporary romance series! Gabe Sullivan risks his life every day as a firefighter in San Francisco. But after learning a brutal lesson about professional boundaries, he knows better than to risk his heart to his fire victims ever again. Especially the brave mother and daughter he saved from a deadly apartment fire . . . and can’t stop thinking about. Megan Harris knows she owes the heroic firefighter everything for running into a burning building to save her and her seven-year-old daughter. Everything except her heart. Because after losing her navy pilot husband five years ago, she has vowed to never suffer through loving—and losing—a man with a dangerous job again.
(Up in the Air, #1, Indie Book) by R.K. Lilley When reserved flight attendant Bianca gets one look at billionaire hotel owner James Cavendish, she loses all of her hard-won composure. For a girl who can easily juggle a tray of champagne flutes at 35,000 feet in three inch heels, she finds herself shockingly weak-kneed from their first encounter. The normally unruffled Bianca can’t seem to look away from his electrifying turquoise gaze. They hold a challenge, and a promise, that she finds impossible to resist, and she is a girl who is used to saying no and meaning it. Bianca is accustomed to dealing with supermodels and movie stars in her job as a first class flight attendant, but James Cavendish puts them all to shame in the looks department. If only it were just his looks that she found so irresistible about the intimidating man, Bianca could have ignored his attentions. But what tempts her like never before is the dominant pull he seems to have over her from the moment they meet, and the promise of pleasure, and pain, that she reads in his eyes.
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The Fighter: Extreme Love
(Entangled Publishing) by Abby Niles New body. New clothes. New men. Used to the average Joe, Caitlyn Moore is overwhelmed when the supremely masculine Dante Jones walks into her life and expresses an interest in her. At first she pushes him away, refusing to encourage the attention of a cage fighter. Then she learns Dante has a love ‘em and leave ‘em reputation. What better way to fine-tune her non-existent flirting skills than with a male who won’t stick around? But Dante has no intention of being a practice dummy; he’s out for all or nothing. Now Caitlyn must accept Dante—violent career and all—or let him go. Dante “Inferno” Jones has one goal: win the Welterweight Championship. At a time when focus is crucial, the last thing he needs is a distraction. Yet Caitlyn Moore becomes a challenge he can’t resist. When the light-hearted pursuit shifts to a battle to win her heart, his focus is shot. Faced with losing the biggest match of his career, Dante must decide if his extreme life also has room for Extreme Love.
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| Chic Trends in Romance |
The Builder: Forgive the self-promotion, not only do I love to read about Alpha heroes, but I also love to write them! One of my favorites is Jason Royce from Marooned with the Millionaire (Evernight Publishing). A fierce Miami storm brings sexy strangers together at The Hotel Del Santos for a night of desire. Stephanie, still reeling from a failed marriage, needs a break from the past. Shying away from the convention center crowds while on a business trip, she finds solace tucked away in a secluded hotel on South Beach.
Jason, a wealthy Seattle builder, has the worst luck with love. He swears he will never allow another woman to get under his skin, until the clicking of a pair of sexy stilettos across the hotel lobby floor attracts his attention. Cut off from the outside world, the lives of these two strangers collide and burn with desire when a storm strands them together. Neither wants anything more than a glorious one-night stand. ............................................ Their chemistry is undeniable and propels them to second meeting in Sin City. However, Stephanie soon learns she has more reason to be wary of her mysterious lover than a broken heart. As you see, Alpha heroes come in many yummy flavors. I suggest sampling them all this summer!
Sandra Bunino began a love of romance stories while penning a creative writing assignment in high school. The story ended with the heroine receiving a long-stemmed red rose in her locker on Valentineâ€™s Day. Since then, all of her stories feature the hero presenting the heroine with roses. Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breath-catching reaction from her readers. - SandraBunino.com
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One of the greatest Tsars that Russia ever had was not even Russian. Catherine the Great, also known as Yekaterina Alexeevna or Catherine II, was born a German princess and meant to live as a pawn on other peopleâ€™s chessboards. Of course, those who arranged her marriage to their heir to the throne of All the Russias did not reckon on Catherine herself.
She bided her time when she first arrived in Saint Petersburg, for no matter how well connected, she was an outsider. But by the time she was eighteen, she had cultivated the right supporters, namely the Tsarina herself, Empress Elizabeth. When the empress died in 1762, Catherine was crowned Empress Consort. Though she stood next to the throne, Catherine did not yet rule. But within six months, she joined forces with the army of Russia and took St. Petersburg and the throne from her husband in a bloodless coup. Catherine ruled until her death at the age of sixty-seven and was a great favorite among both the people and the aristocracy. Like most rulers in eighteenth-century Russia, she was kept ignorant of the plight of the poor. As she passed through a street while touring a city, false facades were set up beforehand to hide the hovels from her sight, making her think that the town was a clean and prosperous one for all who lived there. Though she was ignorant of the plight of the poor, Catherine did a great deal to continue Peter the Greatâ€™s legacy, bringing Russia into the European realm both culturally and economically. She
is famous for building the Hermitage, also known as the Winter Palace, where she compiled one of the greatest art collections in the world. Unlike Elizabeth I of England, mentioned previously in a Women of Power article, Catherine openly took lovers and enjoyed a full life. In spite of the fact that she was a woman in a man’s world, Catherine was a law unto herself. She ruled in her own right, and she ruled well.
To discover more about this amazing woman in depth, take a look at Robert K. Massie’s biography Catherine the Great.
Christy English, author of The Queen’s Pawn and Love on a Midsummer Night, is obsessed with women of power, both historical and fictional. For stories about women who’ve been breaking the rules for over eight hundred years, please join her on her website www.ChristyEnglish.com.
July 2013 |
see BEHIND closed DOORS
REVIEWS and more
BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed
The Heat Diva Nikki McCarver
Contemporary Cautionary In the aftermath of Fifty Shades of Grey, we stretch out, looking past the previous reservations that have kept us from picking up “those” kind of books in hopes of recreating those scandalous naughties that shocked us into the awareness of this titillating genre. Opinions vary across the board on just how good this series was, but the one thing that remains undeniable is the fact that ropes and paddles have now taken precedence over sparkly, sweet vampires. With the shift in media chaos comes the situation of what to read now? Luckily for all you newbies, the genre has been around a long time waiting patiently to poke its head in the forefront and gain some attention. So, come a little closer and get ready to explore the different variations of how hot this genre can actually be. As summer is now in full swing, my fellow beach bunnies are looking for just the right read to curl up to while working on our summer tans. Novellas, or sexy shorts as I like to call them, really satisfy in this particular instance. If you’re looking for fun . . . fast . . . and sizzling . . . may I suggest a few of these:
| The Heat Diva |
by Jennifer Probst
(Steele Brothers Trilogy, #2 and 1Night Stand, #98, Decadent Publishing—available now) Jennifer Probst has been turning heads with her amazing Marriage series, but this isn’t the only series she has. This talented lady can throw down the naughty with the best of them. Her Steele Brothers (part of Decadent’s 1Night Stand) series rocks it with some yummy Doms, who just happen to be in Vegas in the gambling business. All three are yummy, but my personal favorite is Play Me. Sloane is a dominant female with a little problem that unbeknownst to her, only Roman can fix. I love the by-play and chemistry between these two. Jennifer’s sass and entertaining writing shine through and make this series completely satisfying.
Night with a Dom by Casea Major
(A 1Night Stand story, Decadent Publishing—available now) Casea Major brings some heat into the office with her sexy short “Night with a Dom.” This is also part of Decadent’s 1Night Stand series. I haven’t read a bad one yet, and this hot little number was no exception. Melody is a workaholic, and it doesn’t help that her slave-driving boss pushes her past her limits. What her boss doesn’t realize is that Melody’s imagination is also being tested because her boss is beyond sexy. But Melody loses a part of herself when her boss transfers and her fiancé leaves her. Can she find that missing part of her? Oh yeah . . . thank goodness for Madame Eve!
Bound by Pleasure by Lacey Wolfe
(Beachwalk Press—available now) Lacey Wolfe has a book in just about every aspect of romance you can put your finger on. From sexy to sweet, she continues to entertain with her Happy Ever Afters and heart-stopping romance. But my favorite by Lacey is one from her naughty side and is entitled Bound by Pleasure. Megan is an author who writes naughty stories but has never experienced them firsthand. She decides to break out of her shell and dive all the way in, thanks to her friend who is already in the lifestyle. The Dom she is introduced to is not quite what she expected, but turns out to be what she has always needed.
Hawk and the Cougar by Tarah Scott
(Total E-Bound Publishing—available now)
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Tarah Scott has written many amazing books, which is why I picked this one up. She is usually a guaranteed good read but cougar stories? Not really my thing . . . at least it wasn’t until this book! Tarah melts it down in her book Hawk and the Cougar, and in my opinion, it is probably the most concentrated amount of hotness to date. This one is sure to get your motor revving . . . whatever your age.
More Sex: Women’s Erotica Sex Anthology by Leanore Elliott
(Erotique Content, Wicked Muse Publishing—available now) Leanore Elliott has long been a favorite of mine and has written many smoking hot books. But there is one that takes top cake . . . for now... More Sex: Women’s Erotica Sex Anthology has a little bit of something for everyone. It is full of little sexy stories that are sure to have you daydreaming of when you are next going to be in between the sheets with your preferred partner! My favorite story is about a Dom who longs for a woman to take control of him for once. This story was sizzling hot and took place in a hot tub! I’ve always been a huge fan of water aerobics, and Leanore gives you plenty of new ideas to try out!
Willsin Rowe and Katie Salidas. They have indeed perfected one hot partnership in this sizzling series they have pumped out for all of my BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism) lovers out there! We follow Natasha, who happens to be a billionaire and CEO of Blakely Industries, through her traditional therapy sessions that aren’t working. Natasha has many problems, which include a dangerous sex addiction. When Dr. Benson suggests an alternate form of therapy, Natasha brushes it off at first. But, she doesn’t want to lose Dr. Benson as her traditional therapist, so she reluctantly agrees. What follows after that is something that is sure to have you shifting in your seat! ........................................... Well my naughty nibblers, I hope you take a look at these bad girls of romance and give them a try. They have surely helped to heat up a few of my nights! Until next time. . . Stay Naughty
I saved the hottest for last, so beware! Your fingers run the risk of getting burned as you turn the pages in this naughty!
by Willsin Rowe and Katie Salidas (Excessica—available now) Consummate Therapy is written by the dynamic duo
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I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember and erotica has brought my favorite pasttime to a whole new level. After the birth of my daughter, I started learning about blogging and all the wonderful ways to share my passion for reading and dived right in. I created my own blog to share my love of paranormal, historical, dark, and erotic books. I have had the opportunity to work with many great authors and look forward to working with many more. Come Closer and look me up at: http://closeencountersofthenightkind.blogspot.com
EROTIC | book reviews | Loving Sarah Julie Shelton
Cat Maiden Myra Nour
Eight years ago Jesse Colter fled his small town, leaving behind eighteen-year-old Sarah Marshall. Now a retired Navy SEAL, he’s back and he wants only one thing—
What happens when the gods play tricks on humans?
Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 5
Sarah Marshall—bound, naked, and kneeling before him. Sarah has never forgotten Jesse, the object of all her sexual fantasies since she was fifteen, as well as the star of nightly dreams that have become increasingly erotic over the years. So when he suddenly reappears in her life, she warily agrees to let him introduce her to his world—the world of BDSM. When he also introduces her to his best friend, Adam Sinclair, Sarah faces the challenge of submitting to two powerful, Dominant men. But Sarah has an even bigger challenge. A stalker. Someone from her past, determined to destroy any chance she has at happiness. Can Adam and Jesse love and protect her? Or will her world explode in betrayal and violence that will destroy them all? REVIEW: In Loving Sarah, the author made the characters feel as though they were part of the readers extended family and kept the reader enthralled with the riveting twists in the plot. Just when the reader thinks they know who did what, she spins it and has them doubting themselves. Sarah’s demeanor and how she feels about herself is explained and the reasons behind it are revealed, the same goes for Jesse and Adam. Jesse is the quintessential tortured hero, never thinking he’s good enough. Adam is his best friend and the one who tells him to go after what he wants, no holds barred, even though his childhood wasn’t too much better. The three bond and become the family they never had growing up.
Paranormal Erotic Heat Rating: 4
Madria leads a very satisfying life as a cat, until one night when she stumbles upon a pair of arguing gods. When one of them points at Madria, changing her into a human, the stunned and confused ex-feline manages to drag herself home and collapse on her master’s doorstep. Antonius is astonished when he finds an unconscious, nude woman on his doorstep, and pleased to see her beauty surpasses the ideal he had pictured for a perfect mate. Soon Antonius is falling deeply in love with the woman, yet her strange behavior makes him wonder if perhaps she’s a mystical being. Publisher’s Note: Originally available in the Sex Kittens anthology.
REVIEW: Madria and Antonius have been companions for years. Madria is Antonius’ faithful cat until the gods get restless and turn Madria into the lovely maiden that falls into Antonius’ arms. Ms Nour weaved an exciting, passionate tale where two people can do nothing but fall in love, in spite of everything going against them. Watching Madria fight with her animal nature was a unique and thoroughly entertaining experience and one I look forward to repeating with future Myra Nour works. Brilliant imagery and world creating made it feel like I had stepped into ancient Greece and the compliment of supporting characters were well thought out and placed. All in all, this was a fantastic idea, well executed. | Reviewer: Angelique Engelbrecht |
This book is a beautiful love story that knows no boundaries and keeps the reader in suspense with wondering which bad guy is after the heroine. The reader won’t know until the end who did what. | Reviewer: Rhonda Dennis | July 2013 | 43
| EROTIC book reviews |
Beyond the Shadows (Partners Book 4) Kira Chase Contemp LGBT Erotic Heat Rating: 4
Private Investigator Frankie Barkerâ€™s life is put in jeopardy when an ex-convict vows revenge on those he feels responsible for putting him in prison over thirty-five years ago. The problem is, she was a child at the time, as were all the names on his list. As he eliminates each name on the list, the pressure is on to catch him before Frankie becomes his next victim.
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REVIEW: It was very interesting getting to read a gay lesbian erotic romance with such an intense plot in it. Kira Chase does a really good job reaching deep to give the reader a great connection to her characters. The love scenes are very hot so if you canâ€™t handle steam, readers beware. I really enjoyed the fact that even with all the hot sex that there is also a deep connection of love and romance between Frankie and Johanna. Thrilling and hot, Beyond the Shadows will sate your taste for a full exciting read. | Reviewer: Krissy Malott |
| EROTIC book reviews | Carnal Devices Helena Harker Historical Erotic Heat Rating: 3
India loathes her occupation as a prostitute at a brothel in Lower London. Madam Rowena, who sees great potential in the young woman, introduces her to Phineas, a renowned scholar in the field of psychology. With Phineas’ help, India attempts to reinvent herself as a sophisticated courtesan named India of Rajasthan. Phineas himself is a member of the Steam Society, and in India he finds a woman of imagination and intelligence who is his equal, but who needs guidance to realize her full potential. Not only does he help her believe in herself, but she in turn helps him indulge in a fantasy he has kept hidden for years. REVIEW: This exotic erotica reads a bit like a manual of sexology, which features heavily in the novella. Carnal Devices is very sciency and explanatory and delves into the life of India in a psychological manner. For an erotica title it was quite brainy. I did find myself wanting to skip a little when it got too “heavy” - now by heavy I don’t mean sex, but a lot of talk. I liked India and her ‘I don’t like sex’ attitude even though she worked at a brothel - her transformation to a seductress was interesting and her theatrical ability seemed a natural. The novella was both old fashion and quaint, but with a whole lot of naughty.
intriguing notions about courtship and bonding. Xandor needs to bring his lovely blue elfin-maid to three consecutive fullbody orgasms…and win her heart. Note: This story was previously published in the Mystic Visions anthology REVIEW: Xandor has been trying to become a fifth-level wizard for quite some time, until he discovers the only thing stopping him is his lack of a soulmate. By following his dreams he finally discovers her and sets out to not only win over her family, but also her. The conflict between the two characters was extremely nerve wracking. Not knowing whether or not Xandor would be able to take Zira home with him made for an amazing read. As someone that doesn’t read a lot of futuristic stories, this was a very exciting and eye opening story. All the expertly described ‘aliens’ and animals assisted in transporting me to the future and dropped me right into the middle of these two characters’ passionate embrace. | Reviewer: Angelique Engelbrecht |
Game On! C. L. Scholey BDSM Erotic Heat Rating: 5
Mac and his wife, Jenney, are in love. They are in love with each other and their crazy sex life filled with toys, erotic game play, different places—and at times another couple. Imaginative and creative, there are no bounds with bonds.
| Reviewer: Niina Cord |
Dragon Fire Myra Nour Fantasy Erotic Heat Rating: 4
Xandor needs a soulmate to achieve the coveted status of fifth-level wizard. With the aid of some very powerful magic, he finds her. But Zira’s people have some
REVIEW: Game On! is a race to see two couples compete who will be the Master. Each game is topped explicitly with imaginative interludes and extremely illicit sexual escapades. Will Mac and Jenney or Ian and Lizzy find their ultimate release or will they play on? Page after page of inventive scenarios and blistering spankings and a stay in a haunted house has these couples howling in devilry and naughtiness. Mac wants to please his assertive wife, yet he loves the submissive Lizzy. While Ian just wants to outmaneuver his police partner Jenney in every way. This wild ride will keep you revved! | Reviewer: Gypsie Holley | July 2013 | 45
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| EROTIC book reviews | Internet Bonds Megabook Vol.3 Christy Poff BDSM Erotic Heat Rating: 4
THREE COMPLETE NOVELS IN THE INTERNET BONDS CONTEMPORARY BDSM SERIES from Bestselling author Christy Poff Afterglow, Terms of Surrender and Eden’s Pleasure REVIEW: Internet Bonds is actually three novels in one, what a great deal! What a fantastic read! Thoroughly entertaining and vividly descriptive, this book draws you in from page one and doesn’t end even by the last page. Christy Poff leaves you wanting more. These books are not for the faint of heart or faint of mind. Afterglow is a delicious tease for any lady hiding her inner mistress and wanting to explore their naughty Dom side. Terms of Surrender is full of luscious teases that delve even deeper into the life of a Sub and a Dom and the emotional break through the freedom of sharing limitless passion can give you in a BDSM relationship. Eden’s Pleasure is like a mouthwatering jaw dropping climax, the heat is cranked up to the highest notch. Christy Poff is phenomenal! | Reviewer: Krissy Malott |
Of Hallowed Fiends and Darkest Fortune Delena Silverfox Erotic Heat Rating: 4
She was the spoiled only child of a wealthy country lord, with a reputation as “used goods.”
After weeks in his dungeons, her defiance is exhausted and she despairs at her fate. Once she is delivered to her nuptial suites and locked inside, Anya comes face to face with the darker side of her new husband. REVIEW: Anya is a spoiled aristocratic brat. Raised and loved without discipline and knows only that her way is what’s best. Until her reputation precedes her to carnal implications. Her parents no longer accepting their daughter’s ruination has put her on the marriage auction block and blessedly sold her. A Duke no less has taken the spoiled goods for the betterment of his lands and will have her broken and at his knees when he is finished. But will incarceration in his dungeons or his bed be her downfall? Will the Duke win her with poetic words and his paddle or will he be the surprised one? | Reviewer: Gypsie Holley |
After rumors of her running wild at night with a commoner in taverns, Anya is drugged and forced to wed the Duke of Eodel, the wealthiest and most powerful Lord in the kingdom. When he strips her naked and whips her through the streets of Eodel for the marriage procession, she is humiliated. July 2013 | 47
| EROTIC book reviews | Pirate’s Wench Myra Nour
Historical/Time-Travel Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4
William is captivated by Sarah’s beauty from the moment he discovers her aboard a ship he has pirated. Her joy and expertise in sex thrills his body, while her sweet personality wins his heart. REVIEW: Pirate’s Wench starts with a bang, or more precisely a hostile, bloody, takeover of a French tall ship where Sarah finds herself in what she suspects is a dream and one fancy, frilly dress. She willingly goes with the handsome Pirate Captain and when things begin to seem real she discovers she’s not dreaming but has been transported through time to meet Captain William, but how long will she be there, and how much can she give to William, she warms his bed but is her heart warming up too? You have to love a charming, sexy pirate who considers such things as where to live because of his future wife’s love of wearing pants. William being a man who loved rum, hot pouts in the bedroom and smart women only added to his tall dark and handsome sex appeal, how could I not like him! Sarah’s worry of falling in love between the love making and her modern ways on the pirate ship made her fun to read as well. Let me just phrase it as it is... there was a lot of sex. A lot! And that dear readers made this one hot read, it was deep *mind off gutter girls*, naughty, sexy and artfully written and every thrust *now that, I did do on purpose* brought them closer both sexually and psychologically. Pirate’s Wench was one hot, fun quick read, where you end up desperate to know how it ends, will she return to her own time, or stay, and is it even up to her? | Reviewer: Niina Cord |
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| EROTIC book reviews |
Off the Clock Kenzie Michaels
Contemporary Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 3
Austin Harmon is intrigued by his quiet, efficient new administrative assistant. Why does she have an obsession with her watch, and what does she do after hours? Cara has put her social life on hold while caring for her elderly mother. But after her boss helps her through a crisis, she can’t deny their attraction. Romance and Alzheimer’s don’t mix…or do they?
REVIEW: This book has a strong beginning with a cast of characters that pulls the reader into the story early on. If only it could have held on throughout. Cara, a newly hired office assistant to the highly successful Austin Harmon, has made quite the impression on all she’s come across in her two weeks at the office. She’s efficient, charming, and beautiful to boot! However, will the secrets she keeps at home ruin any chance she may have at finding love? Although the story starts strong, it begins to lose momentum when too much happens too fast. It’s a short story that begs to be given more time to have the story unfold. The author has a great story to tell, but at times it just lacks build up, things happen that make little sense in the time provided, and it enters into the realm of impossibility. Give this story another 50 pages and it could be golden. | Reviewer: Shelly Hammond |
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After a week filled with uncertainty and a night that took me on a roller coaster of emotions, I had finally decided to let go of Jack. Talking it out with my girls made me realize that I had to put myself first above all else. So I had driven home with the knowledge that it may hurt and sting for a while, but I would be better off. After all, anything was better than not knowing where you stand with someone after a brushoff. I’d be okay, I told myself. Then that call came into my cell phone and threw a wrench in my whole plan. Jack called. Finally he called. After over a week of him acting like I had the plague or some sort of girl cooties he was afraid he’d catch, he finally called. I hadn’t answered, though a part of me wanted to. I just figured with the night I had and the emotions he put me through I would be better off. I already was suspecting a wine-induced headache in the morning. I didn’t need to ensure it kicking up a notch to full-blown migraine from spending the remainder of my night in tears. My curiosity had always been one of my vices. Immediately after the message went to voicemail, I’d listened to it. How could I not, though? This guy had done a number on me lately. To my surprise, he didn’t act at all as I’d expected. Instead of the distant and cold man he’d seem to be lately, he was sweet and sounded genuinely happy about our upcoming trip. He’d July 2013 |
| Sex and the Single Woman | even said he missed me. My resolve that things were over suddenly had done a flip-flop in my stomach. The butterflies returned, and I was left with a giddy feeling that only a man could give a woman. I convinced myself that I’d read too much into his behavior of this last week. I’d been “that girl.” You know, the silly women who are far too sensitive for their own good? I’d look at it as a lesson learned and try to work on not being so insecure. I started to head up to my apartment with new excitement and plans to call Jack back as soon as I got upstairs. A woman stood on the steps to my building and wouldn’t move when I tried to pass. “You and I need to talk,” she demanded. I didn’t know who she was. Her hair was brown and she was dressed well. Her curt tone matched the look she wore in her eyes, and it made me uncomfortable to say the least. Politely I had asked if we knew each other and that was when I got the shocker of my life. We had never met one another, but as I soon learned, I knew her husband. “You’re the one who’s been sleeping with my husband, Jack,” she’d said. The words still danced through my mind like a bad made-for-television movie. Her husband was Jack? I had stood there in disbelief, knowing full well it couldn’t be possible. Or could it, I wondered. That was five minutes ago, and now I sat in my apartment before the woman who introduced herself as Mary and drained the life out of me with one simple statement, listening to her demands. “I want you to break things off with my husband,” she said. “I’m sorry. I . . . He never told me he was married. Do you have any . . . umm . . .” She looked at me with annoyance. “What? Proof?
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She was buying me off? Where was her hurt and rage over the affair? Sure, sweetie, I’ll show you proof.” I sat by in a somewhat trancelike state, waiting for the thunder to crash and wake me from this nightmare. Mary pulled a cell phone from her purse and clicked on a few buttons before handing it to me. My hands shook with fear of what I’d find. I didn’t want to look. I wanted to throw her phone back at her and demand she leave my apartment. Then I could just go to sleep and forget this ever happened. My conscience won out, and I took the phone from her. I knew full well I could never ignore a situation like this. Marriage was a sacred bond between two people. It wasn’t something to be taken lightly, and certainly nothing I ever wished to be in the middle of. I pulled together all of my courage and looked down at the small screen and saw a picture of a couple on their wedding day. The bride was glowing in a dress that looked nothing short of extravagant, and the groom was devastatingly handsome. His dark hair was combed back, and his eyes sparkled with happiness as he smiled at the camera. I knew those eyes and smile—I loved them. “Look . . . I believe that he never told you we were married. This isn’t the first time he’s done this. But, I’m asking you to call it off. And . . .” She reached in her purse and pulled out a check. “As a small token of my gratitude, as well as a little something to help you mend your broken heart, I’m willing
to offer you this check for ten thousand dollars. The money is yours, free and clear as long as you never see or talk to my husband again.” My mouth gaped open in shock. A check? Ten thousand dollars? She was buying me off? Where was her hurt and rage over the affair? Why was she not seething with anger? Next she set the check down on the table in front of me and took her cell phone back. She placed it back in her purse and let out a sigh. “I’ll assume by your silence you’ve accepted my offer. Obviously you’ll need to send him one last text or e-mail. That is fine, but I trust this conversation will be left confidential.” I stared up at her as she stood from the couch. She seemed so stoic, almost like she’d done this so many times she was immune to feeling anything other than annoyance. “Very well then. I’ll show myself out.”
I didn’t move for several minutes. I wanted to let all of her words sink in, wondering if there was any possible way I’d hit my head and imagined this whole thing. Maybe I’d gotten into a car accident and hit my head? A concussion could cause wild and unusual dreams, I’d heard. After a while I shook my head. I hadn’t imagined it, and my head and car were just fine. It was my heart that was injured. My white knight, the man I’d fallen so hard for, was married, and I could see my happily ever after fading into the background.| Nicole Morgan is a multi-published author of erotic romance novels, which more often than not have a suspensefull backstory. Erotic romance mixed with a good old-fashioned whodunit. While she’s written everything from contemporary to paranormal, her leading men will more than likey be wearing a uniform of some kind. From military to police, she has a love for writing about those who protect and serve. -nicolemorgan1.webs.com
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SCI FI & FANTASY
OUT of this WORLD
REVIEWS and more
BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed
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SCI FI & FANTASY | book reviews | A Soldier’s Duty Jean Johnson Sci-Fi Heating Rating: 0
Ia is a precog, tormented by visions of the future where her home galaxy has been devastated. To prevent this vision from coming true, Ia enlists in the Terran United Planets military with a plan to become a soldier who will inspire generations for the next three hundred years-a soldier history will call Bloody Mary.
REVIEW: If the world is going to go hell and you need saving, you need, no WANT Ia on your side.
To those that start this book and groan over the massive descriptions of guns and basic training, don’t worry that’s just basic and the action when it starts is amazing! Ia’s talents are revealed in small snippets and tantalizing teases throughout the book. When the action does start it is exciting and really got my blood pumping. Let’s just say when Ia goes surfing, she does it precog style. When it comes to world building, I think that Jean Johnson must have been born in the future and came back in a time machine. I’m mean talk about impressive writing skills. The detail that she put into it is mind blowing and the reader will fall into that world and absorb it, hey where is my mechsuit? Ia, pronounced e-yee, is so well written she is walking off the pages. Damn good first book in a series! | Reviewer: Christy Wilhelm |
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Ravenous Brutality (Siren Warrior, Book 10) Michelle Marquis & Lindsey Bayer
Sci Fi Romance
For Gypsy Theron, her life seems to be spiraling out of control. As her life-mate and husband, General Kharon, struggles with a dangerous infection of Serillian Fever, an epidemic of the disease has also broken out. The possibility that Gypsy might lose Kharon plunges her into a devastating depression that threatens to swallow her mind and soul. As Kharon grows sicker, so does Gypsy, and a new, terrifying truth emerges. It is becoming increasingly evident that General Kharon might be the one thing that could finally destroy her. What could their intimate connection through the Primal Fever ultimately bring?
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REVIEW: Ravenous Brutality obviously part of a series starts off very quickly possibly where the rest of the series leaves off and right away you are pulled into Kharon and Gypsy’s story. Right off the bat I really sympathized with Kharon and his suffering, I also sympathized with Gypsy for watching the man she loved suffer so much. From the beginning you are tied to the characters’ emotional struggle to cope with what is happening to Kharon. It was interesting to see Kharon actually going through the stages of a person that is actually dying. What I felt the most was how much Gypsy cared for her husband but what turned me off so much about her was how inactive she was to do anything about it. You can easily sense Gypsy’s struggle, but instead of being a strong partner for her husband, she seems to spend most of the time wallowing. Despite the times that her stubbornness seems to seep through, it wasn’t enough. I hoped to see more of her strength. There are quite a few strange twists and turns in the story but all in all was a really great read. | Reviewer: Krissy Malott |
PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE
BEYOND the EXPECTED
REVIEWS and more
The Scrying Eye Kelly Hudson
comic edition What does the crystal ball reveal this month, revelers of the weird and unknown? You come here to seek answers to critical reading needs, and now, as the mists part and the answers reveal themselves, are you ready, are you willing, to hear the truth from beyond? Are you capable of wrapping your minds around this all comic book edition of The Scrying Eye?
Fantasy/Science Fiction Fantastic Four: Crusaders & Titans by Roy Thomas, George Perez, Rich Buckler, and John Buscema (available August 6, 2013) is a collection of Fantastic Four stories from the wild and crazy 1970s! The Fantastic Four was always a science fiction comic with superhero elements mixed in, and this volume is certainly no different as things get wacky in the Fantastic Fourâ€™s world: Power Man replaces the Thing, The Crusader returns, and the greatest menace to all mankind, the planet-eating Galactus, makes an appearance! Witness the power of the written word when it collides with the art of three established masters of the medium! The Simon & Kirby Library: Science Fiction by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (available now) is an incredible collection of amazing comics from the birthing days of the industry. Together, these two legends created Captain America, and here you will discover the origiJuly 2013 |
| The Scrying Eye | nal run of Blue Bolt adventures and Race for the Moon stories, all in one handsome volume. These two helped to revolutionize comics, so there is no better starting point for science fiction in comics than this collection.
Torso by Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko (available now) is a graphic novel centering on the true story of America’s first serial killer, the Torso Killer. It features the hero of the Prohibition Era, Eliot Ness. He is assigned to the city of Cleveland during the Great Depression to weed out corrupt cops, only to find himself enmeshed in a terrible series of crimes. Bendis brings the words, Andreyko brings the pictures, and you bring your attention, because it will be riveted by this masterwork of crime fiction.
The Goon, Vol. 12: Them That Raised Us Lament by Eric Powell (available now) is another rousing collection of tales about the Goon. If you haven’t read any of these award-winning tales yet, now is as good a time as any to jump on in. This collection features rockabilly zombies, strange carny folk, and gay superheroes of wild abandon and, of course, is centered all on the main attraction, the Goon himself! This is as much humor as horror, so dip your toes, oh vociferous readers, and enjoy a walk on the Powell side!
Batman Incorporated Vol. 1: Demon Star by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham (available now) is a collection of the incomparable Morrison’s work on Batman in the New 52. The Dark Knight Detective is pitted against his former lover, Talia al Ghul, and her Leviathan organization in a struggle to save the world. Batman must reach further inside him than he ever has before as his skills are tested in ways he never thought possible. A written and visual feast, see Batman, maybe as you never have before!
Sucker Bait and Other Stories by Graham Ingels, Al Feldstein, and others (available October 20, 2013) is a wonderful collection of horror comics stories illustrated by the unsurpassed Graham Ingels, the master artist behind some of the most famous tales featured in EC Comics, like Tales From the Crypt. Featured herein are stories guaranteed to mangle your mind. Witness an undead elephant that seeks revenge! Behold twisted fairy tales! See living rats sewn into human bodies! And open your eyes to, perhaps, the most famous tale of all, “Horror We? How Bayou?” which features a magnificent twist ending that is legendary even unto today. This is one of the starting points for illustrated
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horror, and stories like these were one of the main reasons so many comics were banned in the 1950s. Step into the past, embrace your future, and pick up this mighty tome of terror! And with that, dear reader, the crystal ball closes its gaze, looking no more into the past, the present, or the future. It is time to take this treasured information and turn it into action! Seek out the stories brought to your attention today and devour them with all the wonder and horror in your heart!
Kelly M. Hudson has published over two dozen short stories in various anthologies as well as two horror novels, The Turning and Men of Perdition. You can read more about him and his work at
Until the next SCRYING EYE...
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& SUSPENSE | book reviews |
Blood in the Bayou Serena Pettus
Paranormal Romance/Vampire Heat Rating: 3
Telepathy can be a real pain in the ass. Seline should know, she’s been dealing with it her whole life. Needless to say, dating sucks. Men really do seem to be single-minded creatures, but she really needs to find a man who she can use as her inspiration in the design of her fall fashion line. The only problem is that it’s slim pickings around home. Taking a spur-of-the-moment trip to New Orleans seems like a superb idea…until she arrives and is viciously attacked by some drunken locals. Her savior, however, is tall, dark, and mysterious, possessing the most amazing aquamarine eyes she’s ever seen.
REVIEW: Werewolves. Vampires. Shape shifters. Telepaths. All those and the scariest of them all, an ex-lover! Look no further than this book for each and every one of them, and where is the best location to find them all? That’s right! Good old New Orleans! This book has a very colorful cast of characters that is sure to delight any lover of the paranormal. Throw some steamy romance in the mix, and you have a brilliant read across the board! The author has such a contagiously catchy way of writing that once reading begins; it’s very hard and impossible to stop. The descriptive nature of the narrative keeps the reader glued to each page as the images form inside the mind as clearly as if watching a film. This is one book that paranormal romance fans will not want to miss out on! | Reviewer: Shelly Hammond |
Mystery at Snake River Bridge Richard Uhlig, Jr. Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: N/A
Seventeen-year-old Kodak Riley believes he’s photographing yet another traffic accident for his dad’s small-town newspaper -- until he
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discovers the dead body in the submerged car is that of the local minister’s wife. Convinced this is no accident, Kodak embarks on a clandestine investigation which leads him into an offbeat relationship with the sheriff’s beautiful but mysterious foster daughter. As Kodak uncovers the surprising identity of the murderer, he discovers he must stop the psychopath from killing again. MYSTERY AT SNAKE RIVER BRIDGE is inspired by a true story.
REVIEW: Mystery at Snake River Bridge takes the reader on a wild and crazy mystery with major surprises around every corner! Told from the first person perspective of 17-year-old Kodak nicknamed as such due to his love of cameras and the fact he shoots photos for his dad’s newspaper. When he goes with his dad to shoot pictures for a car crash, he finds a lot more than he bargained for. The characters in this book are so well written that they seem to come alive (well, some of them anyway) right there on the pages. The author will keep you on the edge of your seat with all the twists and unexpected turns that this mystery brings about and the end will leave your jaw on the floor. This fast paced, well-written, small town feel mystery is sure to please any reader of YA, mystery, and/or suspense out there. | Reviewer: Shelly Hammond |
Eternal Nights (Seklmet’s Guardians #2) V.S. Nelson Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 3
With each passing day Jessica’s consciousness grew stronger. For twenty years she was content to remain as she was—trapped inside another. The life she led came to an abrupt end the moment she laid eyes on Raphael. At first she suspected they were destined to be together-his gentle touch confirmed it. Although he didn’t know it, he ignited waves of a fiery passion that burned deep into her soul. It became brighter every day, giving her the strength she needed. Somehow she would find a way to free herself from her grandmother’s powerful magic.
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REVIEW: As a fan of Paranormal Romance I enjoy worlds threaded into real life locations and authors that bring spark into fictional places and make us lose some hours of sleep. Eternal Nights brings us a world building creation similar in ways to J.R. Wards Black Dagger Brotherhood or Lara’s Adrian’s Midnight Breed, but different in so many ways, a new world full of Vampires, Shifters, Were-Cats, and I could go on but I’d rather you find out when you read the book. M. Nelson turns a 500-page book into something addicting, action packed, with twists and turns, it keeps us on our toes running along, side by side, with her imagination and her skillful writing. From revisiting Gabriel and Jennifer to meeting Raphael and Jessica, finding out the underground war between the Guardian’s and Set’s vampires, this book brings us stories of redemption, family sacrifices, and ways of living. If you’re into PNR and wanting to give a fresh new series a try, choose the Seklmet’s Guardians and get ready to lose sleep because this book is fun, addicting and full of heart. | Reviewer: Patricia Melo |
| PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE book reviews | Death Benefits Sharon Saracino
Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Heat Rating: 0
Max Logan’s insecurities have consumed her to the point that she has allowed them to skew her perceptions of people and circumstances. She has grown progressively more bitter, sarcastic, and solitary since her divorce and feels as though she has spent a lifetime getting the short end of the stick through no fault of her own; still she trudges on. Things can always get better, right? Of course, it’s hard to cultivate optimism when she finds herself dead, the victim of a D.I.E (Death in Error) caused by an overeager Grim Reaper in Training. She brokers a deal to be sent back to Earth as a temporary substitute for the Superintendent of Spiritual Impediment. Can a woman who won’t recognize her own problems rectify the issues of the living impaired? Or will she discover that concentrating on their issues gives her a new perspective on her own? REVIEW: Can you have a sense of humor about your own death when you’re dead? When you have a rough start in life and end on the grounds of a simple overstep Death Benefits is comical and adorable, the cover of this book doesn’t do the story justice. I laughed so much reading Death Benefits that my ribs hurt. Max is one of those characters you instantly relate to on more than one level (at least for me) and can’t wait to hear more from. I often found myself reading as fast as I could just to see what the next thing said was. I really enjoyed reading Sharon’s work and I can’t wait to read more from her in the near future! | Reviewer: Krissy Malott |
Finding Abigail Carrie Ann Ryan
Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 3
A sexy, handsome sheriff who turns out to be cupid — literally — must save the beautiful schoolteacher who has always loved him from a cold-hearted enemy in this spunky novel from a bestselling author
Warning: Contains one sexy sheriff who turns into cupid, complete with bow and arrow, the sweetest teacher you’ll ever meet who needs to find her bad girl side, and a love of candy hearts that’s sure to bring them together. REVIEW: I have read many Carrie Ann Ryan books in the past two years, and have fallen in love with her witty, romantic, burning hot paranormal reads... and Finding Abigail is no exception! Ms. Ryan has the ability to create believable characters in paranormal creatures and the dialogue is always real and enjoyable. The small town paranormal romance with whom else but Cupid and one sweet teacher with unrequited love was a hot and sweet kind of read! Cupid, also called Tyler has been the sheriff and the unrequited love interest of Abigail for years now but she’s about skip town to mend her heart, but things are about to be shaken and when Tyler finally has Abigail on his radar so does danger. I loved Tyler, a hunky guy with the tendency to turn Cupid was both sexy and sweet, let’s not mention the arrows and tights though. Abigail is such a sweet heart, I mean we’ve all experienced loving someone who doesn’t acknowledge how we feel, right, hence she’s very relatable. Finding Abigail is a true romance story with some suspense, sexy characters (namely Tyler) and interesting plot make this book a great addition to my Carrie Ann Ryan collection! Recommended reading for paranormal romance fans who like their books hot! | Reviewer: Niina Cord |
Damned and Defiant Kathy Kulig Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 4
Dante’s dimension is on the edge of destruction, he seeks the help of a special mortal woman, Haley Moore. Fierce, undeniable passion between them unravels his plans and threatens Haley’s life. To save her, he must resist temptation, abandon her and leave earth forever. The sacrifices and risks are great, but what if there’s one last chance at love?
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REVIEW: Although the third installment in the Demons in Exile series, this made for a good standalone novel once you get past the rough start. The characters have a history that we, as the readers, may not be aware of if we have not read the previous books. However, their stories click after the first couple of chapters. At that point if doesn’t matter if you have read the previous books or not, you have become so embroiled in the story that all else falls to the wayside. When taken apart, the plot may not have necessarily the strongest, but it was well thought out and the characters were strong and well defined. Definitely a book I would recommend, however, I would make the addendum that the previous books in the series should be read first to avoid confusion and for maximum enjoyment of this story line.
REVIEW: I love Ambrielle and her unique spins on paranormal romance. Humans and ancient vampires battle for existence around two strong characters fighting to stay alive. You have to love Vicq! His intensity and lethal grace make him a force to reckon with, but balanced by his love for Elaina. Their love-making is raw and sensual. The fight scenes were fluid and easy to imagine allowing the reader to visualize the writer’s words. This is definitely a series I will be following. I am super excited about Donor Reloaded’s upcoming release. Ambrielle is a wonderful author with a keen sense of what readers will like and delivers it up with a sexy bow. | Reviewer: Michele Page |
| Reviewer: Iris Montalvo Pross |
Donor Ambrielle Kirk
Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 4
Elaina was once a tracker of Dresdan, an ancient species of vampire. For years, she served District 5, whose prime agenda is to create a new race of humans. As a result of misguided politics and greed, the District becomes corrupted from the inside out. Before Elaina can expose the truth, District 5 discovers that her blood type contains the elements to create a successful hybrid. She becomes the hunted, but protection is found while in the presence of one vampire… Vicq won’t rest until he destroys District 5 and their immoral experiments are halted. Too many Dresdan have been captured and exterminated, threatening their existence and painting them all as animals. As he plans his attack against District 5, master vampire Russo orders his death for violating a prime law of Dresdan. But Vicq is not ready to cease existing…especially since he’s found salvation with Elaina. * This title was previously published, but has been extensively revised and re-edited and includes new and extended scenes. *
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The Medicine Man S.R. Howen
Ethnic/Horror/Romance/ Heat Rating: 1
Shannon Running Deer is American Indian by blood, but he has forsaken his people’s ancient ways to embrace the “modern” world as a wealthy, highly successful trauma surgeon. His comfortable existence begins to unravel when, seemingly by chance, Shannon finds himself gradually drawn into the past. Pursued by an ancient evil, he knows he can change the future, if he can survive the past. In the tradition of Diana Gabaldon, S.R. Howen’s MEDICINE MAN is a distinctive and atmospheric novel full of spirituality, mystical time travel, romance, passion, and suspense. REVIEW: S.R. Howen’s story moves between two realities that of the healing practices of Native American Indians and that of modern medicine practiced by western civilization. A well crafted tale, the author places the reader in the mind frame of Dr. Shannon Running Dear, an esteemed trauma surgeon descended from Blackfoot ancestry. Destined to be a Medicine Man for his tribe, the author establishes Shane’s inner conflict as he chooses to leave his clan to pursue a medical profession in American society. His traditional beliefs are in direct contrast to modern science. The author devel-
| PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE book reviews | ops a constant pulling and tugging between the two mindsets as the female lead Morning Dove challenges Shane to use his innate vision to heal rather than turning to the training he acquired from books. An intense read, Howen convinces the reader that the two opposing philosophies complement one another in a yin-yang arrangement.
... in a new, horrific, unimaginable way...
| Reviewer: Susan Frances |
All the while, her creator is watching. He is ancient, he is powerful, and whatâ€™s worse is that heâ€™s a necromancer. He has the power to force the dead to do his bidding. Amaliya realizes she is but a pawn in a twisted game, and her only hope for survival is to seek out one of her own kind.
Pretty When She Dies Rhiannon Frater
She has no choice but to flee from her old life and travels across Texas. Her new hunger spurs her to leave a wake of death and blood behind her as she struggles with her new nature.
Horror Fiction Heat Rating: 4
But if Amaliya finds another vampire, will it mean her salvation... or her death?
Amaliya wakes under the forest floor, disoriented, famished and confused. She digs out of the shallow grave and realizes she is hungry...
REVIEW: A fascinating new take on vampire novels, Rhiannon is unique with a twist of grim humor. Quite the complicated tale of a girl with a complicated history continues on even after her life takes a very dramatic change. Despite all the very graphic gore there is an underlining of emotional tags for the reader to latch onto. There is heart break, pain, curiosity, discovery, failure and new beginnings to be had. Although
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Pretty When She Dies could be filed under teen fiction the horror detail is more than the average youth book typically allows. Good for older teens and adults, a really good read. | Reviewer: Krissy Malott |
Bloodlust (Bloodless, Book 2) Jody R. LaGreca & Michael McCarty Paranormal/Horror Heat Rating: 3
Psychic vampire, Daniel Peck, lives on with vengeance and movie star madness in this sequel to BLOODLESS by Michael McCarty (Bram Stoker finalist) and Jody R. LaGreca. Witness the illicit saga which leads to Marilyn Monroe’s untimely demise and more in this twisted tale of glamour and seduction. Beware of kisses in the dark and the echo of eternity — which bears the curse of Daniel. Uncover the mystery of The Stardust Inn and the love triangle between Daniel, hotel proprietor, Annie Julliard, and her sister Vicki — while the Omni powerful Veronica, who has Daniel beneath her spell, has her own agenda. REVIEW: Bloodlust spins a unique story on how Marilyn Monroe died. With Marilyn’s insecurities and a need to be loved, she fall’s for the wrong fanged man. Daniel Peck is a soul-stealing, cruel vampire who beguiles his victims into trust or decides to just take what he believes his right. His lust for blood haunts him when denied and his violence knows no bounds. With his trusty razor, he will lap at your life and make you live forever, but only in the memories of your loved ones. Follow him on his path of destruction and the lives that tangle together in this twisted and horrific love story. | Reviewer: Gypsie Holley |
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Social Insecurity Kate Eileen Shannon Mystery Heat Rating: 1
The first in the Brigid Kildare Mystery Series, professional PI, Brigid Kildare, turns amateur sleuth when old ladies in the Federal Hill area of Providence start to go missing and she can’t get the police to believe her. As her assistant and long time friend, Kevin, puts it: “Honey, if an old lady like Jessica Fletcher can do it, a one-legged PI and her gay PA can do it too!” Brigid solves the mystery, along with an odd cast of friends and family, but not before four old ladies have died, she has caught the eye of a handsome Providence detective, and she discovers that not everyone who is close to her is what they appear to be. REVIEW: There is a first time feel to Kate Shannon’s storytelling which lets readers know Social Insecurity is her debut novel. Brigid Kildare is a headstrong heroine and immediately likeable. Earl Greene is a mild mannered hero equipped with a logical mind and patience when it comes to Brigid. Together, they make for a complementing combination in this murder mystery. The dialogue is slightly wooden though the expressive narration compensates for this shortfall enabling readers to enter the minds of the characters through this channel. Supportive characters add texture giving the story depth in terms of the town’s description and the atmosphere of the people. The diverse personalities interact with the core couple mirroring real life circumstances while infusing new players into the plot as the reader must deduce what has happened to the missing women. Shannon leaves a trail of clues that culminate into an unpredictable conclusion. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |
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Serenya’s Song Mysti Parker
Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 2
No one ever said love was easy... Serenya Crowe may be a half-elf commoner, but she’s no ordinary woman. With the ability to interpret dreams, and a birth defect that forces her to wear gloves, she’s endured gossip and the cruelty of her husband, Sebastian, The Earl of Summerwind. All she’s ever wanted is to live a quiet life and raise a family. When she meets the new stranger in town, her world and her heart, are turned upside down.
REVIEW: Mysti Parker creates a fantasy world where mortals and woodland elves interbred and mesh their customs together showing traits of a multi-cultural society. When they must face a destructive force that threatens their realm, it upsets their stability. Parker challenges her hero and heroine at every turn from their faith in a benevolent god to their will to abolish the invader that threatens their existence. Written in first person, the story oscillates between the hero’s and heroine’s points of view which can be confusing. There are moments of suspense interlaced with a pleasant love story. The story’s themes resonate with struggles experienced in the real world, though the read is slow as the heroine and hero take a long time to tap into their inner strength and stand independent from using a crutch. The author plausibly shows a world where good and evil co-exist and fight endlessly. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |
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It came as no surprise to Vandella Chase when
cigarette holders dropped out of vogue. The way she approached it: the affectation had fallen victim to the changing times, when grunge turned glamour on its head. Now, however, even cigarettes had fallen so out of fashion that if you had the audacity to light up in your own backyard, you courted the risk of the tobacco police vaulting your privacy hedge and slapping you with a five hundred dollar fine. It smacked of fascism. “Isn’t that right, Billy?” Vandella brayed from her chaise longue situated under a lush palm that partially shaded the kidney-shaped swimming pool. “With their anti-smoking campaign, the City Council is acting worse than the Taliban, taking aim at one of mankind’s dying pleasures.” John Wayne’s voice drifted from inside the circa 1920sstyle Southern California bungalow, his laconic drawl punctuated with rifle shots and Indian whoops. It might have irritated other wives to be subjected to hours of westernthemed mayhem, but not Vandella. She snapped open a gold-plated case, extracted a Marlboro, and lit it with a flourish—her answer to the recent flyer alerting the local citizenry to the City Council ordinance. “The heck with everyone who wants a smoke-free town,” she hissed through a long plume of dense gray smoke. Her trademark, you might say. Billy first noticed it back in ’54 when he directed Mesa Moon. She’d won a small speaking part—only two lines—but packed with thirteen thoughtprovoking words. He’d pulled her aside and said, “I like how you handle that cigarette. Instead, do it with a cigar in the saloon scene, and stick your foot up on the chair and show some leg.” He handed her one of his own Monte Cristos. Had he asked, she would have executed the feat standing on her head while tap dancing on the ceiling. They ran through a mile of film and fifteen takes before the scene satisfied him. The cigar had burned down so far
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July 2013 |
| It Sometimes Rains in Paradise | her fingertips were yellow by the time they broke for the night. Her head spun like a whirligig, but euphoria held sway. He’d shot half her scene in close up. The picture garnered so-so reviews, but it launched her career. Six weeks later, they flew off to Reno and got hitched. Vandella finished her cigarette and stamped it out in a crystal ashtray home to half a dozen clones. Then she swung her legs over the side of the chaise and slid into her pink fluffy mules. She used one arm of the chair to lever herself off the thick jungle-themed cushion and stood up, a little wobbly. It took a few moments before she was steady enough to slip a white terry robe over her swimsuit, grab her cigarette case, and enter the house. Billy occupied his usual spot in front of the TV. Commotion issued at high volume from the set and reverberated throughout the bungalow. Billy’s hearing aids were worse than a fizzle. “Give me a sec, and I’ll freshen up your drink,” she said. The Duke answered with a fusillade of pistol shots, pinging off the mesas in Monument Valley. Icy air streamed from a vent in the ceiling. Vandella plucked a sweater off the back of a red faux-leather club chair, draped it over her shoulders, and headed into the kitchen. A bottle of merlot sat on the yellow tile counter. She poured half a glass. Her doctor, very possibly a charlatan, had threatened she wouldn’t celebrate her next birthday if she continued with the wine. But who yearned to turn eighty, anyway, if you had to surrender all your pleasures? “Next thing you know, they’ll usher back prohibition,” she yodeled into the adjoining room. “Eventually, bit by bit, everything you cherish will be whisked away.” Just like contracting leprosy. Before you realized it, you’d have nothing left to relinquish.
“Once the Council’s smoke-free edict takes effect, the most anyone downtown will ever see of me is my backside.” She swiveled her hips in a little shimmy then reached into her robe pocket and pulled out her Marlboros. “You wait. Expect a late-night knock on the door when they turn the local park into a gulag. Pack for a long stay.” A flip of her head sent her shoulder-length gray hair swirling. Just like in Guns at Dawn, her third of six westerns with Billy. Back then her hair was Rita Hayworth red. Natural, except for a light rinse she used to bring out the highlights. Billy would have killed to work with Rita. And Vandella would have killed him if he had, what with the way the Love Goddess smoldered and accumulated husbands. “Put the blame on Mame, boys, put the blame on Mame.” Vandella’s throaty voice wafted on the living room’s chilly air. She struck a pose, hand behind her head, her hip jutting out at an angle. “What I could have done with a song like that,” she bemoaned. “Oh well. In The Lady from Laredo, I introduced Pistols and Petticoats. Remember that, Billy? For two weeks, it climbed up the charts, hit number twenty and boosted picture sales.” At first, the studio head had demanded that Billy use a voice double. Billy refused, telling him either Vandella sang or he walked. That was her hubby, always watching her back. The record lay around there somewhere. Later, she might play it for Billy but, right about now, he probably hankered for another drink. With his glass in hand, she shuffled back into the kitchen. She dumped the contents into the sink, refilled the glass with ice, and added a capful of vodka and a splash of tonic. Three swirls around the cubes with a swizzle stick. Exactly the way Billy liked his drink mixed. Then, about to exit the kitchen, she swung back toward the counter.
But, then, they didn’t know Vandella.
“Oh, heck, what’s the sense of living for tomorrow? Right, Billy?” She added another capful of liquor.
A can of salted nuts sat on the counter. Shrugging off her high blood pressure level, she dumped the nuts into a silver dish and carried it into the living room. She set the dish on the coffee table in front of Billy.
She brought him his drink and paused to catch a minute of the western playing on TV. Her heart filled with nostalgia. She could almost smell the horses, taste the dust. Memories flooded her mind. Buck-
board Belle . . . her fourth western. She couldn’t sit for a week after it wrapped. Showed her comedic side, though. In Trouble on the Plains she barely escaped being stampeded by a herd of wild mustangs. The picture should have won Billy the Oscar for best director. “That would have made you happy, wouldn’t it?” She sashayed over to him and brushed his toupee with her finger. “Winning the Oscar in ’69. At least you should have been nominated.” Opening the coffee table drawer, she withdrew a small brush, its bristles as silky as a mink’s fur. She blew on them, setting the fine hairs fluttering. Although Billy’s smoking jacket showed as pristine as the day she’d bought it at Neiman’s last month, she swiped at the deep blue satin lapel. As usual, his dark pants retained a sharp crease. “Imagine. Those men wanted to dress you in a business suit. You never wore a business suit. I told them either they fitted you into your new smoking jacket or you’d find a way to come back and haunt them. Consider that my going away gift to you.” She settled into the club chair and lit up another Marlboro. Taking a deep pull on the cigarette, she exhaled a long narrow sooty cloud. “See, Billy,” she said, “I haven’t lost my touch with the smoke.”
Carolann Camillo is the author of two contemporary romances and a historical for which she won a Coffee Time Romance Reviewers Recommend Award. A native New Yorker, Carolann graduated from St. John’s University and lives with her college professor husband in the San Francisco Bay Area. carolanncamillo.com
July 2013 |
YOUNG & NEW ADULT
BEYOND the fairy TALE
REVIEWS and more
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| book reviews | Wings of Arian (Book 1 Solus Trilogy) Devri Walls
Wings of Tavea (Solus Trilogy Book 2) Devri Walls
Kiora thought she had never heard a lie until she was sixteen. But she was wrong. Her entire existence was based on nothing but. She thought that evil did not exist. Lie. That magic was not real. Lie. And that the land of Meros was all there was. One more lie.
Kiora is rapidly learning that evil and lies come in shades of black and white and swirling greys, but nothing could have prepared her for the shock of leaving Meros. Kiora and her protector Emane step through the pass into a world they never knew existed but were always meant to save, only to find it far worse than they could have ever imagined. Good has been forced into hiding for its own survival, while the rest of the land bows to the Shadow, a force that pushes any remaining thoughts of Dralazar from Kiora s mind. This land is full of new creatures, each more dangerous than the last. Her visions have taken on a deadly twist, and magic, or what comes of it, was never so real. And then there is Alcander: a Tavean, their guide, and an entirely different kind of trouble.
YAFantasy Heat Rating: 2
With Aleric telling her that evil is knocking on the door and that she is the only one who can stop them she has a choice to make. Refuse, or start the wildest most painful ride of her life. She reluctantly dips her toe into her new existence of magic and threads, dragons and shapeshifters, and the person who wants to take control of it all: the evil Dralazar.
YA Fantasy Heat Rating: 2
REVIEW: A surprisingly fresh and innovative novel, Wings of Arian brings to mind glimpses of a utopian kingdom where everything is as perfect as it should be and where goodness reigns. Rich and colorful characters grace every page, most especially the main characters, Kiora, the Solus, and Emane, the Protector; both whose personalities and actions are inspiring. Multi-level plot take hold of the reader and never let go until the last word has been said. Quite graphical death and gore are peppered throughout the book, surprising the reader who couldâ€™ve been lulled into being complacent due to the purity of the authorâ€™s prose.
REVIEW: Kiora and Emane continue their journey into the new world where they meet new enemies and unexpected allies. As the plot thickens, Wings of Tavea brings the reader into more exciting adventures and heart-wrenching grief as it shows how dark evil really is. Devri Walls develops her characters well without diminishing their core personalities. Colorful new characters amps up the mystery surrounding Kiora and Emane through revelations of the prophecies and dreams. Possibly more exciting than the previous book, Wings of Arian, Wings of Tavea electrifies the reader with the promise of a steadily rising action in its series plot. Readers are sure to watch out for the third book of this series.
| Reviewer: Francine Alli |
| Reviewer: Francine Alli |
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| YOUNG & NEW ADULT book reviews |
Falling Sky James Patrick Riser YA Science Fiction Heat Rating: 0
Following a devastating world war, the surface of the planet has been covered in a substance called Dust, a weapon that can break down the physical make up of entire cities, reducing them to rubble and preventing citizens from rebuilding their lost metropolises for several years. In order to survive, humanity has taken refuge in crowded, underground cities. Ian Blum is a 15 year old boy living in one such city. His crippling social anxiety confines him to a solitary life at home, while his parents are away at their jobs. The person he interacts with the most is his home school professor, Michael Wasley. One night, Ian is visited by a mysterious figure in a dream. The man warns Ian of a great earthquake that will destroy the cities, killing all of the inhabitants. The man charges Ian with the task of getting everyone out. REVIEW: I really enjoyed the amazing detail, for a YA book it’s a magnificent way to bring young adults into a new world and James Riser does a great job of paying great attention to every detail of the cramped underground cities and the people struggling to cope with their new ways of life. As if that wasn’t enough now the survivors of a great devastation have even more to deal with. You really feel for the people in Riser’s world, I found myself sitting on pins and needles anxiously waiting to find out what would happen next. | Reviewer: Krissy Malott |
The Villa Dog Ruth G. Zavitsanos Childrens Heat Rating: 0
Nestled away amongst the olive groves of the Tuscan hillside stands a welcoming villa where a dedicated dog finds his way into the hearts of vacationing families. Sole has one purpose, to make visitors happy. He is kind and sensitive. Sole takes his job as THE VILLA DOG seriously. His bravery and loyalty are often rewarded. He keeps the children out of harm’s way, and eventually the others become aware of his special ability to bring happiness. But it’s not always easy being The Villa Dog. A young girl, Issy, makes it tough. She’s so sad. Can Sole find out why? Or, will he fail his purpose for staying at the villa and disappoint his master? Being the Villa Dog can be hard work, but he’s on a mission, and he’ll stop at nothing to see Issy smile. REVIEW: The Villa Dog is a wonderful chapter book for children. The story is told through the eyes of Sole, the villa dog in Lucca, Italy. Children and adults will be able to relate to Sole’s feelings on his various adventures to make all guests happy. During a particular family’s stay, Sole finds it excruciatingly difficult to put a smile on a young girl’s face, but once he gets through to her, the young girl’s story will leave readers in tears. This story is five chapters long and balances short sentences with more complex sentences, making it a great book to use as a transition read for young ones. This book covers the sensitive topic of grief stemming from Sole’s master being deployed and the young girl’s sadness over the loss of her grandmother. The Villa Dog would be a good book to help children understand how to talk about loss. | Reviewer: Nicole McManus |
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| YOUNG & NEW ADULT book reviews |
Obscura Burning Suzanne van Rooyen YA Sci Fi/ LGBT Heat Rating: 0
The world’s going to end in fire… and it’s all Kyle’s fault. Kyle Wolfe’s world is about to crash and burn. Just weeks away from graduation, a fire kills Kyle’s two best friends and leaves him permanently scarred. A fire that Kyle accidentally set the night he cheated on his boyfriend Danny with their female friend, Shira. That same day, a strange new planet, Obscura, appears in the sky. And suddenly Kyle’s friends aren’t all that dead anymore. REVIEW: I found the book to be a bit dark and confusing. It seemed that the author was trying to undertake a variety of different topics then cramming them all into one book that is one of the many things that I found the book to be difficult and confusing. Then add the swapping best friends passing, alternating cause you truly don’t know who actually passed away. Time and space equilibrium is hanging in the balance for Kyle, the main character, who is going back and forth with different outcome of which best friend past away. But that is not the only thing that is occurring in this book. Kyle is trying to discover where he belongs in all that is occurring with him and what is actually his.
In the Service of Samurai Gloria Oliver YA Fantasy Heat Rating: 0
For the first time in his life, Toshi discovers that monsters do roam the earth. And this one has come for him. Dragged from his home and into the company of the undead, Toshi must use his skills to help the creatures holding him hostage. The alternative is to fail and become one of them. But those who do not wish his new master’s quest to succeed may make Toshi one of the truly dead before they will allow him to do what only he can to help. REVIEW: Although this paranormal coming of age story began with a kidnapping, it started out slow. Like, Lost in Translation slow. When I saw “samurai”, I thought “Cool sword fights!” That’s not what this book is really about. It’s about the mystery. This one will keep you guessing – which is probably why you will keep reading. Beware, at times, the main character is illogical and might force you to suspend all belief. But, by the end, you will bow deeply to the author not only for the geishas, ninjas, and rice, but for the payoff ending, too. With minimal violence and not even a peck on the cheek, this book is clean enough for all audiences. | Reviewer: Michele Biring-Pani |
| Reviewer: Beckey White |
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| YOUNG & NEW ADULT book reviews |
The Talisman (The Amulet Prophecy, Book 2) Holly Zitting YA Fantasy/Paranormal Heat Rating: 1
Emma’s 18th birthday is quickly approaching. Her decision to side with the Council or the Wicked grows more and more dangerous. In her continued attempts to keep those she loves safe, she is injured. Simon, Peter and those who believe in the Amulet must find a way to save her. But time is running out for Emma and pushes them to risk it all. Their journey will lead them to a new power, a reunited love and dangers at every step. Will the Talisman be enough to save Simon’s love? Or will it be the end of the Amulet? REVIEW: The Amazing Race meets the James Bond flix Live and Let Die in The Talisman as a group of bounty hunters/ shape-shifters chase after Emma, a witch with powers their leader Asher desires. Zitting never specifically describes Emma’s paranormal talents leaving it up to the reader’s imagination. With a large portion of the tale spent on narration, activity is rare focusing the discourse on assessing options and analyzing circumstances. Zitting has characters popping out of thin air before clarifying their part to readers. This forces readers to decipher what role these players have in Emma’s situation which pulls the readers attention in multiple directions. Dramatic and inspirational, The Talisman requires the reader’s full attention and understanding of human bonds as Zitting makes it clear that Emma is protected by benevolent characters and desired by malevolent characters who wish to use her. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |
When Push Comes to Shove Callie London’s Vampire Adventures Jane Peyton Genre: Youth / Fiction Heat Rating: 0
In Vampire parlance, Pushing is what Folk do when they need to get a drink and don’t want to leave behind any incriminating evidence. They just make their new friend forget they were ever there. What? ME a vampire? No way! But what if every human one runs across seems to have been Pushed in some way? And not a soul of them is up to any good? Which of the Folk is responsible, and what can this possibly be leading to? Callie London is certain there’s Something Bad Going On! If only she can figure it out fast enough to keep herself and her vampire girlfriends from getting themselves killed. REVIEW: I found it interesting that the story is less about the reader diving into the story and more about the lead character Callie telling it to you,- spunky and snarky yet entertaining the book screamed Buffy from a reverse point of view but with the same sarcastic humor. I had a hard time orienting myself in the setting of the book as the author randomly jumps from what seems to be Kentucky to London then from city to deserted country but otherwise the world James creates is quite lush with detail. Otherwise When Push Comes to Shove is a complex world of Vampires, Valkyries, Paladins, Guardians, Houses and other races of the paranormal to keep you guessing through the semi Sherlock/ Dick Tracey/ Buffy mystery hunt as you follow Callie and David on their journey. An interesting read with a lot of potential. | Reviewer: Krissy Malott |
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turning WORDS into WORLDS
Hints, Tips, How-Tos
COLUMNS and more
Lynn’s Writing Tips Lynn Crain
Thought-Provoking Last Lines I’ve always been a sucker for good first lines. They are the things that draw me in and make me want to read the rest of the book or see the movie. However, my favorite part of any book or movie is the last line. It is the part of the work that makes me crave more, that makes me want to read it again or watch the movie for the millionth time. And they are an extremely important part of our job as writers. Why are last lines so important? • If you’re writing a series, it’s the platform for going onto the next book (i.e., cliffhanger). • The last line is meant to wrap up the novel or short story. • Last lines make people think. • If your last line is for a mystery, the mystery must be solved. • If your last line is for a romance, there must be a happily ever after. • A great ending ties all the loose ties together into a neat and concise finale. • It makes your readers want more. Last lines can be a bear to write and there are no magic bullets. When I’m writing those all important last lines, I frequently go through about ten of them before I come across one that ties the whole of my story up, nice and neat. Now there are two different types of last lines in my book. There are the lines you end a chapter with and those you end the book with . . . I am talking about those you end the book with in this article . . . chapter endings, we’ll discuss at a later day. Here are some examples of great last lines from books and movies: 1 It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. 2 Are there any questions? 3 Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is.
4 After all, tomorrow is another day. 5 He waited for someone to tell him who to be next. 6 He loved Big Brother. 7 While I knew I would miss things about Earth, this was where I belonged, exploring with those I loved and with whom I would spend the rest of my life. 8 “Remember me,” he whispered and gently kissed her before her eyes closed. 9 “Problem is, I think she’s kidnapped me.” 10 So that, in the end, there was no end. 11 An evil only we can combat, together. 12 All this has happened before and all this will happen again. 13 The door is closed. 14 In those final moments, we loved a lifetime. 15 Peter once asked me when it was that I fell in love with Jack, and I told him, “It was while you were sleeping.” How many can you identify? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for the list of the books and movies for these last lines. Until next month!
Lynn Crain has penned over twenty-five novels in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance, from erotic to tame in nature. She always knew writing was her calling even if it took years at other professions to prove it. She has belonged to EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) and RWA (Romance Writers of America) for many years. Currently, she lives in Europe while her husband of thirty years pursues his dream of working internationally. Her stateside Nevada home is where family and friends wait patiently for their return. You can find her hanging out at her blog (lynncrain.blogspot.com) and various other places on the net (theloglineblog.blogspot.com, twitter.com/oddlynn3). The thing she loves most of all is hearing from her readers at email@example.com.
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How to Make Your Website Really Work
by Dawn Seewer
Given that the most important purpose of any website is to enable us to access information, help us find what we are looking for with minimal effort on our part. Good navigation flows logically, it takes us stepby-step through the most important features of your website. Without good navigation, it’s easy to get lost, easy to get frustrated, and easy to click that little red X at the top of the screen. As straightforward as this sounds, most authors fail to make their websites easy to use. More is not necessarily better when it comes to navigation. Adding page after page to your drop-down menu can result in too many choices for the reader. Good navigation holds your reader’s hand; it walks the reader through your website on a guided tour. When your navigation (coupled with your content) is organized thoughtfully, your site will become remarkably easy to navigate. A good website starts with a good concept and a solid web structure. As we discussed in last month’s article, great design is critical, but good development, how your site works and functions, is equally important. In this ever-evolving, technology-driven market, a static website no longer cuts it. Long gone are the days of animated gifs and stagnant content. Nowadays, web design and development are all about interactivity. The static websites of yesterday do little more than act as flat two-dimensional brochures. Today’s websites engage the reader on a whole new level. The latest web development tools and technologies allow readers to interact and actually make a connection with you, your website, and your books. Make Your Site Interactive There is an endless variety of interactive features that you can add to your website to enhance its usability. Animated and interactive sliders can provide reader with a moviegoer’s experience through visually stimulating features. Blogs, message boards, and forums allow readers to interact with you and their fellow visitors on a personal level by sharing thoughts directly through your website portal. Integrating social networking can add a deeper layer of intimacy and connectivity with each and every reader that visits your website. Make Your Site Easy To Use
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Make Your Site Load Quickly A quick-loading site can go a long way toward driving traffic and ultimately increasing sales. An aesthetically beautiful site that takes forever to load can actually drive traffic away from your site. People are busy and impatient. No one wants to wait for a loading screen or a gigantic image to load, no matter how good your content will be once it loads. A good developer can blend quick, responsive features into a stunning design without sacrificing the reader’s precious time. Make Your Site Accessible Providing content that is search engine optimized means that keywords are strategically placed throughout the page to increase your chances of being found. But beyond content, there are many backend tricks of the trade to get you going on Google. Including targeted metadata, such as searchable keywords, phrases, and descriptions, can greatly improve your ranking in all major search engines. Tagging relatable images, pulling social media, and even naming your pages, all have the ability to increase your search engine optimization (SEO). Having a good plan for SEO is like taking your book from one of the hundreds of shelves in the bookstore and placing it on a display right inside the doorway. While search engine optimization for generating traffic is important, what that traffic does
when it reaches your site is even more important. Make Your Site Visitable Having a perfectly designed and developed website is a great step toward fighting for readers, but it’s only half the battle. If you want your readers to come back, you have to give them something to come back for. Adding new content frequently not only increases the chance your reader’s return, but it can also actually increase your standings in search engines. Integrating a blog into your website is a great way to keep content ever changing. A blog provides readers with fresh new content to read and search engines new data to feed from. However, it is important to remember that your blog should not be the whole of your website. You need fixed content in the form of informative pages such as About, Books, and Contact to create a balanced experienced. Blogs are great interactive and communication tools, but they are not websites. They provide interesting content but lack substance to anchor your website solidly in the online world. Make Your Site Create Readers Recent trends show that more and more purchases are influenced by an author’s website. Why is this? Because your author website has the ability to create a relationship between you and your reader. It’s not just about code and pretty pictures; it’s about creating connections
and fostering loyalty in your readers. The longer a reader stays on your site, the more they get to know you. The more they get to know you, the deeper a connection they build, which has the potential to turn website visitors into loyal readers.
Building a presence online is as much an art as it is a science. You need the creative chops of a designer to attract customers, and the keen eye of a developer to turn passersby into long-term customers. And of course, you need your own unique message and products to keep those loyal readers come back for more.
Dawn Seewer is the Art Director for Everpress Media, a design firm offering custom web services and marketing materials for authors. Dawn has over twelve years’ experience in graphic arts, web, and marketing. Find out more about her work at EverpressMedia.com.
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Tech Savvy Writer Karen M. Gross
Welcome back, dear readers! This month we are honoring heroes. And that got me thinking . . . what exactly is a hero? In the movies, we see the sleek, charming hero who swoops in to save the day . . . and that is one kind of a hero. But maybe there are more. My hero is a bit different. Though technically a heroine, I don’t think she’ll mind my word choice. Mary Katherine Arensberg, “Kate” to her friends, and my mother, is a hero in a much bigger sense of the word. She didn’t just ride in to save the day; she taught me how to be my own knight in shining armor. Award-winning author of the Women of Character series, she makes her own dreams come true. Today I’m going to share the five biggest lessons she taught me.
Face Your Fear. One of my earliest memories is one that I will never forget. The heart-pounding rush of adrenaline, the dry mouth, and sheer fear are still with me. I was five or six and playing in our backyard while my mother was hanging up the laundry when the unthinkable happened. A bumblebee, big and fuzzy and buzzing . . . landed on my chest. As I looked down, it was just visible, but even without seeing it, I was aware of the vibration of its wings. I think I screamed . . . I’m not really sure. “Freeze.” Mom’s voice was like thunder, so big that it replaced the horrid buzz. I wanted to run or to knock it off . . . but she had a better idea. While I stood there frozen in place like a statue, she was calmly winding up a towel as she walked towards me. Flick. The towel shot out before I could register what was happening . . . and the bumblebee was gone. Talk about saving the day!
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Be Your Best Self. She showed me this, rather than putting it into words, by always striving for personal excellence. I don’t think I ever saw my mom quit . . . anything. “It isn’t a competition,” she would say. “The only person you have to worry about is yourself. You be the best you possible.” And really, isn’t that a great goal to strive for?
Big Dreams Take Big Work. A self-published author of seven books, she knows about working hard to make your dreams come true. She is working full time and on her next (eighth) book right now. I know I can’t wait for it to be published! But hard work is something that she is very familiar with. Mom served in the Army, sold used cars, bartended, did home decorating, worked in real estate, and more. Even when she wasn’t working a job, she was working in the community. It always amazes me that so much energy comes in such a small package.
Learn Something New Every Day. I’ve made it my goal to achieve this one. Reading is a passion of mine, I read three to five books a week, a habit I picked up in grade school, (no, I won’t tell you how old I am, but I will confirm that I am well into five digit figures). I’m the geek who reads technical manuals and textbooks when there is nothing else around. I remember one summer, while I was growing up, we purchased a set of encyclopedias at a yard sale. Suffice it to say, that your Tech Savvy columnist read them all cover to cover. ;-) There is no way to know it all, but it is fun learning!
You Can Do Anything. This is the most powerful lesson I learned from my mother: There is no limit to what I am capable of doing, just solid assurance. Even when I didn’t believe in me, my mother always did. When I began to display a mechanical bent, she added the caveat: “But, if you take it apart, you’d better be able to put it back together again.” Toasters, sewing machines, and lawn mowers, I took them all apart. Sometimes there were parts left over, a bolt here or a screw there, but I always got them back together . . .
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| Tech Savvy Writer | and they always worked. The toolbox wasnâ€™t off limits so long as we put things back. I found out I could build a doghouse, albeit one that was wobbly as heck and leaked when it rained at just the right angle. When it came to computers, she stepped back and let me go! Whether it is hardware or software, I am fearless when it comes to pushing buttons to figure out what makes a thing work . . . or not work . . . as I learned in a two-year stint in technical support. And those dear readers are the Five Tips about life I learned from my hero, Mary Katherine Arensberg. It is because of this amazing woman that I am the Tech Savvy columnist that you have come to know and love.
Karen M. Gross A full-time affiliate marketer, she spends her time writing articles to help others when sheâ€™s not operating the home business. She is the editor of The Everyday Affiliate Newsletter. affiliateworkhome.com/Blog/
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Marketing & Promotion Mary Manners
You’ve written a great story and fallen in love with your hero. Now you want everyone else to fall in love with him as well. The big question is . . . how do you make that happen? Any writer worth her salt knows the perfect hero can make or break any romance. Whether strong and athletic or analytical and creative—or any combination thereof—the success of your book sales, in part, depends on the manner in which your readers connect with your hero. So, from a marketing aspect, what are some of the many ways to make your hero shine? Begin by scheduling a blog tour. I don’t mean your typical tour in which you as the author or the book itself is the main focus. I’m talking about a character tour in which your hero—your special guy—is the center of attention. Think of each blog visit as a different talk show from various channels. Serious or quirky and full of humor, give your hero a grand entrance and seat him beneath bright stage lights and in front of an adoring crowd. Imagine fans have waited for weeks to meet him, their
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July 2013 |
| Marketing & Promotion | anticipation flourishing with each breath. The crowd is excited and restless. What would they most like to know? Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Focus on your hero’s deepest, darkest secrets, his quirks, and everything that makes him come to life on the page. Sample questions are usually provided by the blog host or hostess, but add a few of your own, tailor-made to showcase your hero’s special features and aspects of his motivation, fears, and longings throughout the story should also be included. Six to ten appearances over a two- to four-week period surrounding your hero’s debut into the marketplace are good numbers to aim for. Mix up the interview questions and reveal a fresh tidbit of information with each interview to keep the material vibrant and readers intrigued and coming back for more. Most importantly, be sure to banter during the interviews, just as your character would in real life. Think conversation . . . and fun. Between blog visits and throughout the character tour, spice things up with a sprinkle of book quotes from the story. Book quotes are a quick, simple, and effective means of breathing life into your hero and sharing him with others. When selecting quotes, consider the lines your hero uses that grab a reader’s attention and make her senses tingle. Here’s an example.
Also consider which lines provide a greater insight into what makes your hero tick.
“I feel like the star quarterback who can’t find a winning play.” ~ Ryan Calvert Dance With Me by Mary Manners Post your quotes to social networks, such as Facebook and Pinterest, as well as on your website across the book’s launch period. Wherever possible, be sure to include a buy link that takes readers straight to the purchase site. Also, book quotes make great Facebook banners. Create several and rotate them every day or so to pique interest. Ready to showcase your hero? Character blog tours may be scheduled through Book and Trailer Showcase and for book quotes, I recommend contacting Delia Latham at www.deliadesigns.webs.com. Good luck. You know what they say . . . “I need a hero . . .”
“You know, a kiss might help it heal.” ~ Dalton Merrill Lullaby in Lone Creek by Mary Manners
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennesse with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they’ve rescued from local animal shelters... Lucky and Gus. Mary’s debut novel, Mended Heart, was nominated Best Inspirational Romance 2010, and was finalist for the Bookseller’s Best Award. Her follow-up, Tender Mercies, was awarded an outstanding 4.5 stars from Romantic Times Book Reviews and was also a finalist for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Buried Treasures, her third novel, was named Book of the Year by the Wordsmith Journal. Light the Fire, her fourth novel, took top honors for the 2012 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Mary was named Author of the Year by Book and Trailer Showcase. She writes romance of all lengths from short stories to novels--something for everyone. Learn more about Mary Manners at her website: MaryMannersRomance.com and at her author pages at pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/ and barnesandnoble.com
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from the PAGE to the SCREEN
TRAILERS and more
Second Chance Cinema Claire Gillian
Real-life Heroes Not all heroes wear capes and cowls, fly through the air, or ensnare bad guys in webs. Many of our favorites are small town John and Jane Does, underdogs with big hearts whose passions surpass their fears. And thank goodness for them! All of this month’s Second Chance Cinema recommendations are films about real-life people.
Stand and Deliver (1988) Jaime Escalante is a Bolivian-born high school math teacher who, through innovative teaching techniques, compassion, and persistence, nudges a classroom of near dropouts to passing scores on the advanced placement test for calculus. The students must wade through many personal challenges to achieve their goal, including the testing board’s accusation that they cheated. I love a good underdog triumph, and the East LA teacher is a hugely inspiring and most worthy hero, as are so many unsung teachers. The film’s star, Edward James Olmos, was nominated for a well-deserved Best Actor Academy Award.
Serpico (1973) Back in the seventies when Serpico was made, cop movies and television shows were quite popular. Al Pacino plays the title role in this film about a New York City cop who goes undercover and discovers the seedier underbelly of NYPD’s police force—drugs, paybacks, violence, etc. He blows the whistle on his corrupt colleagues, enduring tremendous hardship and stress that nearly cost him his life. The film received multiple Academy Award nominations, including one for Pacino as best actor. He won the Golden Globe for his portrayal.
Spartacus (1960) Spartacus was a Thracian gladiator who led a major slave uprising against Rome in the first century BC. Before the cable television show, however, Kirk Douglas gave us Hollywood’s take on the legendary hero, Spartacus. The leader so inspired loyalty that, after a devastating battle, each of his few remaining men claimed to be Spartacus to protect him from their Roman conquerors. Wow, this movie is one of those epic films of my childhood that I remember watching whenever it aired on television. It won four Oscars and held the record for biggest blockbuster for Universal Studios for nearly a decade. The dimple-chinned Douglas is at his growly best in this one.
Gorillas in the Mist (1988) Dian Fossey is the heroine of this fact-based film about a naturalist who championed the cause of mountain gorillas being decimated by poachers in Rwanda. She is credited for her noteworthy gorilla research, though her heavy-handed techniques of fighting poachers won her many enemies. Her nearly reckless passion for the gorillas helped save them, but it ultimately led to her brutal murder, which is still officially unsolved. I’d warn about the spoiler, but knowing Ms. Fossey’s fate enriches the bittersweet atmosphere of the film. Sigourney Weaver is outstanding as Dian Fossey, a role that earned her an Academy Award nomination.
Norma Rae (1979) UNION! is on the sign Norma Rae holds as she stands on a table to urge her fellow textile mill workers to organize. Pre-union factories were some pretty harrowing places—unsafe, terrible hours, and unfair pay and advancement opportunities. Norma Rae is a small town North Carolina girl, who, at great personal risk, boldly speaks out against her employer to demand better working conditions and to rally her co-workers into striking until their demands are met. Sally Fields won a Best Actress Oscar and forever burned the saying, “You like me, right now, you like me!” into our Academy Awards acceptance speech lexicon. She was actually referring to a line of dialogue from the film, but nobody got that connection at the time. The opening credits music is also one of my favorites, and the Academy voters agreed giving “It Goes Like It Goes” (sung by Jennifer Warnes) the Best Original Song Oscar. May your movie viewings be heart-pounding, thought-provoking, and sigh-inducing, and may the popcorn and candy not stick in your teeth or add to your waistline. Claire Gillian is the pen name for a number-crunching executive by day. By nights and weekends, she writes smart, witty stories for smart, witty readers. Her debut novel, The P.U.R.E. released in April 2012 and its sequel, Purely Relative, is hot off the press as of April 30, 2013. She also writes fifty shades of naughtier stuff under the pen name of Lila Shaw, http://lilashaw.com, but please don’t tell her mother. No matter which name she uses, Claire is happiest penning romance drenched in humor with a dash of intrigue and loads of spice. She lives in the Portland, OR area with her family who are all avid movie fans - clairegillian.com July 2013 | 109
get YOUR BLOG on
Hop on over to Gina’s blog where your doorway to history awaits! Find history, guest bloggers and more! ginaconkle.com/blog
Check out Keta’s Keep for sneak peaks, reviews, this week’s word and more! ketaskeep.blogspot.com
Check out the V-Spot Blog at Vampire Book Realm for some tasty treats! vampirebookrealm.com/the-v-spot-blog.html
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the INSIDERS industry SCOOP CLOSE ENCOUNTERS Does your book have what it takes?
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If you answered yes, then why not consider becoming a BTS reviewer? We’re looking for good people to review books in a wide variety of genres. Become a part of a team that is all about sharing their thoughts on the books they read with their readers and let your voice be heard. Soon we will be a part of Barnes & Noble Virtual Newstand. Apply here: http://btsemag.com/ book-reviews/review-team/ July 2013 | 111
Your Guide to Great Reading - Featuring Loree Lough, plus columns, book reviews, featured authors, sneak peeks and more!