Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wacky Wednesday: LEAP DAY!!

Every four years we get an extra day tacked onto the month of February ... gee, thanks! I'm not a big fan of February to begin with because it's short which messes up my brain calendar for the month of March which always feels too long to begin with because it's the end of winter and thirty-one days. But this year is a Leap Year which means we have that extra day. So what to do with that extra day - that Leap Day?

Did you see the movie LEAP YEAR? Cute romantic comedy with amazing scenery!

Well, interestingly enough there is a sweet and romantic tradition attached to this once in every four years day. According to Irish folklore, it's the one day in the year when it's totally proper for a woman to propose marriage to a man. It's said that St. Bridget brokered a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men once every four years rather than it always being left in the hands, and control, of the men.

Historians, of course, set aside the folklore and lean toward the premise that it was introduced to balance out the traditional roles of men and women in much the same way that Leap Day balances the calendar every four years.

In some places in the world, Leap Day is referred to as Bachelor's Day. Again, women are allowed to propose marriage instead of waiting for the man to do it. However, if a man refuses a proposal of marriage from a woman on Leap Day, he's expected to pay a penalty. The penalty can be anything from coins to a kiss or a new gown. In many European countries, it was tradition especially in societal upper classes that any man who refused such a proposal must buy the lady twelve pairs of gloves. The reason behind the gloves - no engagement, no engagement ring - twelve pairs of gloves would allow her to hide her embarrassment of not being engaged after foolishly proposing to a man who didn't want to marry her. Somehow, I think it would take more than a new pair of gloves for each month in the year to erase that embarrassment. I think I'd go for a way to embarrass the man.

Of course, where Leap Day may be a lucky day for a woman to ask a man to marry her, in some countries like Greece, it's considered bad luck to get married at all in a Leap Year but especially on Leap Day. I would think men would love that ... they only have to deal with remembering an anniversary every four years instead of every year!! Of course, they still wouldn't remember.

Our modern society has removed most of the stigmas surrounding courting and unmarried relationships but just how brave are women even today? I wonder how many women have the courage to ask a man to marry her on any day of any year even if she knows he might be thinking about it? That's one rejection I don't envy any man. I'm brave enough to ask most anything from a man but marriage, I don't know about that one. Would I have had the courage to ask my husband to marry me if he hadn't done it first? Well, perhaps on Leap Day!

How about you? Brave enough to make that 'Leap'? Were you?

Hope you got yourself some great new reads and are enjoying them. Happy Reading!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Unwrapping: Big Release Tuesday - A Day Early!

I know, I know, it's Monday and tomorrow, Tuesday,  is the day for releases but this Release Tuesday is soooo huge, I couldn't wait to tell you about what is coming our way - romantically Romance Novel speaking! February turned out to be one heck of a great reading month and it's only going to keep getting better as we move into March and April.

As I already mentioned, THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR by Lizbeth Selvig is a debut novel available in ebook format and later this coming month in print format.  Click here to read my review of this delightful contemporary from a bright new romance writer.

AGAINST THE NIGHT by Kat Martin 
   
She's got the face of an angel and the body of…well, isn't that what he'd expect from an exotic dancer? But there's something about this girl that Johnnie Riggs can't shake. The former army ranger is hot on the trail of an elusive drug lord—and suddenly very hot under the collar, as well.
Amy's got her own agenda to pursue: her sister is missing and Amy seems to be the only one who cares. She'll enlist Johnnie's help and do her best to ignore her growing attraction to finally get some answers. But when the two trails begin to converge and reveal something even more sinister than they imagined, their mutual desire is the least of their problems. They'll bring the truth to light…or die trying.

A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME by Sarah MacLean

What a scoundrel wants, a scoundrel gets. . .
A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London's most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance—including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury.
A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to an unexplored world of pleasures.
Bourne may be a prince of London's illicit underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness—a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them . . . .even her heart.

BLAME IT ON BATH: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DUKE by Caroline Linden

A marriage of convenience . . . or of destiny?
Gerard de Lacey is determined to find the man who is blackmailing his family, but with his inheritance and status at risk, a hasty marriage to a wealthy bride also seems in order—just in case things take a turn for the worse. Charismatic and capable, Gerard knows he can win the hand of any lady he chooses. Still, he's not expecting a rich widow to find him and propose the very thing he wants: a marriage of convenience.
Katherine Howe's first marriage was one of dreary duty. Now that she's being pressured to marry her late husband's heir, she's desperate for a better option. Gerard de Lacey, with his sinful good looks, charming manner, and looming scandal, fits her needs perfectly. The fact that she's nursed a secret affection for him only makes it better—and worse. Because Gerard will likely marry her for her fortune—but can he love her for herself, as she loves him?

BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by Sophia Nash

Six Regency heroes—One royal hangover.
An infamous night has been lost to memory. The scandalous Dukes of the Royal Entourage must make amends. The first step is a heroic rescue.
One of England’s most disreputable peers, Alexander Barclay, Duke of Kress, has stumbled upon a perfect opportunity for redemption. Having been exiled to Cornwall by the Prince Regent himself, Barclay discovers lovely Roxanne Vanderhaven clinging to the edge of a cliff, stranded there by her murderous blackguard of a husband . . . just waiting to be rescued.
Back on solid ground, Roxanne is desperate for a new life— once she’s retaliated for her husband’s despicable actions. Surprisingly, she finds herself drawn to her unlikely champion, certainly the last man in England she could count on. Yet, the infamous Duke of Kress isn’t quite the scoundrel he seems . . .

FEVER by Joan Swan   (another debut author) 
    [My Pick for HOTTEST COVER!]
When Dr. Alyssa Foster is taken hostage by a prison inmate, she knows she's in deep trouble. Not just because Teague Creek is desperate for freedom. But because the moment his fingers brush against her skin, Alyssa feels a razor-sharp pang of need...A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose. At least Teague doesn't, until his escape plan develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives, he can only give her lies, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever.

RAINSHADOW ROAD by Lisa Klepas

Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington. She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal: her fiancé Kevin has left her. His new lover is Lucy’s own sister. Lucy's bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life. Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy's parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to "romance" Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be made into something new and beautiful.


THE HUSBAND HUNT  by Lynsay Sands 

Let the hunt begin...
Lisa Madison wants a husband, and she has just the candidate in mind: Robert Langley. Trouble is, the infuriating man insists on seeing her as the impish girl she once was—even as every other gentleman in London has taken notice of her womanly…charms. When her beauty lands her in danger, it’s Robert who comes to the rescue…only to announce his affections are not of the romantic variety!
Robert saw enough sorrow in his parents’ union to know he wants nothing to do with marriage, which is exactly what he’ll be trapped into if he acts on his desire for the irksome siren. And then Lisa does what Robert least expects: gives up on him! As feigned indifference gives way, blistering passion burns at last. But just before the pair can give in to hard-won bliss, an enemy with unfinished business lurks threatening to destroy them both.

THE TATTOOED DUKE by Maya Rodale

Breaking news, scandal fans:
You thought you knew the dangerous Duke of Wycliff, London's globe-trotting adventure addict. Here's what you don't know: he's penniless. Sebastian Digby's dukely lifestyle is over forever unless he finds a rich bride. But thanks to The London Weekly, everyone knows better than to tangle with this lothario. Besides (as one writer can testify), it seems that Sebastian has been unable to keep his hands of his own lowly housemaid...
And that's a problem. A big one.
Because that housemaid just happens to be me. Eliza Fielding. The same undercover Writing Girl who's been exposing the Duke's most intimate secrets to the world. And now I've gone and complicated everything by falling love with him. Passion and deception have never been so delicious, but now the truth could destroy everything. This is more than a conflict of interest. It's a seduction where love itself hangs in the balance.

Then coming very soon ... March 6th are:

WRONG SIDE OF HELL - a League of Guardians novella by Juliana Stone 
ebook format only, print book available March 27th.

Watch for my review of this novella coming Friday, March 2nd.

With battle lines drawn and evil forces gathering in the shadows, the League of Guardians is all that stands between chaos and the human realm…
Logan Winters, an elite hellhound shifter, wants to forget his allegiance to the League and the pain he’s suffered because of it. But when he’s ordered to retrieve Kira Dove from purgatory and bring her back to life, he can’t refuse. Not only will her death affect the balance between the realms, she’s also linked to a past he can’t forget.
Kira Dove, a young woman murdered before her time, wanders the gray realm, alone and vulnerable. The one bright spot in her life is the memory of a mysterious protector who saved her once before. As she makes her way through this terrifying place, she can’t help but wonder…will he come for her again?
As Logan races to save her, he knows he faces a nearly impossible task: How can a hellhound survive in the one place he shouldn’t ever be? The wrong side of hell…


LUST IN THE LIBRARY - an erotic novella by Amelia Fayer

Some like it hot, and some like it in the reference section.
Sara is having a love affair with books. But, since books can't make love to you, it means she's in the middle of a very long dry spell. Until a sexy Brit shows up. Suddenly she's learning just how stimulating a library can be—up against a bookcase, behind the card catalog, on the circulation desk . . .
Meanwhile, Veronica is incredibly frustrated. While Sara and her new man are using the library as their personal adult playground, she's stuck with only her thesis and her sexual fantasies. But Andrew, her crush, isn't above using his . . . assets to get Veronica right where he wants her: alone, in a darkened corner of the stacks.
Who knew reading could be this pleasurable?

Remember these are new releases and I have, like you, not read them with the exception of two so I can't be held responsible for whether or not you enjoy them but I hope you do!

Happy Reading!
    

Friday, February 24, 2012

Unwrapping: Review of THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR by Lizbeth Selvig

As I mentioned in my post on Wednesday, I am fortunate enough to have been chosen to be an Avon Addict which allows me to read advance copies of upcoming releases called ARCs. I am so thrilled to have been chosen and even prouder to be able to do some review work for my most favorite Romance Novel publisher, Avon Romance. One of the first ARCs sent to me was THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR by Lizbeth Selvig, a new Avon Impulse author, which is set to release in its initial ebook format on February 28, 2012.

THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR is this author's debut romance novel and I will have to admit up front, that had it not been sent to me to read as an ARC, I probably would not have read it since I'm not a big contemporary romance novel reader. After reading this one, I may be changing my mind about that.  How about that cover?! And the title is quite eye-catching once you allow your eyes to drop below those jeans. *wink*

As soon as I downloaded this book, I began reading without even reading the blurb which I usually don't do but I was already intrigued by the title.  However, I will share the blurb with you.

Blurb for THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR:

There comes a time in every independent woman's life when she has to step aside and let a White Knight do his job.

Abby Stadtler has fought to carve out a quiet, independent life for herself and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Kim. She may need a White Knight, but she doesn't want one. Especially when he shows up in the form of a superstar with a missing son and vindictive paparazzi on his tail.

To the world, Gray Covey is a rock god. To his teenage son, Dawson, he's simply an absent father. When Gray is forced to track a runaway Dawson to Abby's struggling horse ranch in small-town Minnesota, he finds far more than a widow and a ranch with a silly name.  Faced with one teen who despises him, one teen who worships him, and a woman who flips his heart on its axis, Gray must learn not just how to be a father, but how to be a real superstar.
                                    *                       *                     *                       *                      *
I was pleasantly surprised when the first chapter of THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR grabbed hold of me and I thought, I might just like this contemporary romance. Then it seemed to slow down. I will admit that I had to drag myself through the first several chapters not because the writing was poor, not by a long shot, but because it was bogged down by entirely too much bickering between the teens in the story and the adults.

Gray Covey is a rock star. He's been living the life of one for most of his adult life and his world is fast-paced and schedule driven. He's accustomed to things going according to schedule and so when he discovers his teenage son, Dawson, has runaway from his English boarding school, Gray is not happy about having to track him down and attempt to retrieve him. He finds his son living on a ranch in Minnesota with a teenage friend, Kim, who Dawson met online and Kim's widowed mother, Abby Stadtler. From the minute that he and his son stand in the same room, anger, resentment and teenage angst erupt into arguments and accusations. A typical teenager, Dawson expects his father to already understand why he ran away and why he's so angry. Gray, being the self-proclaimed jerk that he is and a man who hasn't the time for games because he has people counting on him, doesn't want to listen or compromise. 

Abby Stadtler is a young widow raising a teenage daughter on her own. She's struggling to keep her head above water and a roof over her daughter's head. She owns a horse ranch with a cute name derived from the names of her deceased husband, her deceased son, her daughter and herself, Jabberwicki. She's struggling to pay bills, to make sure her daughter has all she needs without deprivation and working part-time jobs while running the farm. Dawson has been a godsend to her not only because he's a hard worker but he helps fill the void left in her heart with the death of her son, Will and her husband, Jack, in an accident many years earlier. When Gray shows up, she doesn't recognize him right away but after she does, she doesn't say anything because she figures he didn't want her to know who he was. When Gray and Dawson go at each other, it's Abby that tries to be the sensible one without stepping on Gray's toes as a parent. She recognizes the need that Dawson has to have a real father in his life and the frustration that Gray feels at not being able to be the father Dawson needs.

I appreciated the angst, the drama, the emotion of these chapters but it seemed as if it was becoming overtaxed when there was more story brewing behind the scenes that needed to be addressed. I felt that some aspects of the story got short-changed because of the concentration placed on the emotional turbulence between Gray and Dawson.

I will admit though, once the story finally emerged, I was hooked - big time!! Whereas the first several chapters dragged, once the story emerged, the book took off. The emotional tension between Abby and Gray began to build wonderfully. Their attraction to each other which began in the first chapter expanded, deepened and breathed new life into the story. There was more than one time that Lizbeth's emotional writing brought tears to my eyes.

As a romance novel debut, Lizbeth Selvig did an excellent job of creating a story surrounding a group of people from vastly different lifestyles whose individual needs, insecurities, and weaknesses came together to form a family of more than just the main four characters. The romance between Gray and Abby is sweet, tender and emotional. It pulls you along with hope and angst as they work through their fears and apprehensions.

I would like to have seen more of some aspects of the story explored while limiting others for I felt that some moments in the story didn't flow as smoothly as they could have. But overall, it was a delightful story where uniquely different characters learned to trust where they were unable to before. These complicated and emotional characters learn to accept each other as they are as well as learn to accept the assistance of others who care about them.

Most of all, I found this story was about family and how family doesn't have anything to do with bloodlines. That family is about give and take, friendship, trust and loyalty. This story touches the heart, makes you laugh, and I have to say, made this reader shed more than one tear especially with such an absolutely romantic happily- ever- after ending.

I do recommend reading THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR by Lizbeth Selvig. It might start out a bit slow after the first chapter but just as Abby, Gray, Dawson, and Kim hang in there, I promise that if you hang in there too, the best is yet to come.

Happy Reading!

THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR by Lizbeth Selvig. Published by Avon Impulse, ASIN: B0070XFNES, ebook format, 296 pages. Release date, February 28, 2012.
To learn more about Lizbeth Selvig, please visit her website at http://www.lizbethselvig.com/

                                                       

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Unwrapping: Wacky Wednesday - Celebrity/Hero Crushes

It's Wacky Wednesday!
It's also Ash Wednesday for those who follow it. That means it's the first full day of Lent - a time when some Christians, through prayer, penance and self-denial, and giving prepare themselves for the celebration of Jesus Christ's subsequent sacrifice for our souls and His resurrection on Easter Sunday. Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, a day to indulge in preparation for 40 days of self-denial. Well, I give up so many things during the rest of the year because of diet restrictions and budget that I really don't have an indulgence to give up so I just add extra prayers. However, it did make me think about one indulgence that I have that I probably could give up for Lent but then again, I just got a chance to over-indulge in it just as Lent begins. Reading Romance Novels.

I have been chosen as one of the first Avon Addicts by Avon Romance. This means that I get to preview new books and review them ... am I in reading heaven or what? It's a stint that only last 6 months and begins now. I can't give up reading romance for Lent when I've just been bestowed such an honor, now can I?

One of the first eARCs Avon sent me is THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR by Lizbeth Selvig ... I'll review this for you on Friday as it releases next Tuesday and I want you to have the full scoop on this author's debut novel.  But don't you just love that title!!! THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR!!  
ROCK STAR!! And how about that cover? What was that about denial? I don't think so.

Can you imagine having a rock star show up at your door? Well, can you? Have you ever fantasized about a favorite rock star, movie star, celebrity of any kind, or allowed your imagination to take you off into a world where you actually meet your favorite Romance Novel hero? Come on, come clean, we've all fantasized about such things at some time in our life. Perhaps yours is Mr. Darcy?

Well, my fantasy has always been that Elvis Presley isn't really dead and that he shows up somewhere and I am there to meet him. I recognize him, of course, but don't tell him or anyone else that I knew who he is. I keep his secret, we become fast friends and eventually he falls as madly in love with me as I am with him. How 'bout that for romantic fantastical imagining?

So who's your Celebrity/Hero Crush ... who would you love to have ring your doorbell, sweep you off your feet and proclaim his love for you?  Hee Hee!

Happy Reading and God Bless - hey, as part of my Lental sacrifice I give more unto others including extra prayers that are for all my friends. 
And delicious covers!  *wink*

Friday, February 17, 2012

Unwrapping: 3rd Review of HOTTER ON THE EDGE, an anthology

This past week's reading has been such a delight that I wish there had been more than three stories in HOTTER ON THE EDGE. This science fiction romance anthology is a wonderful compilation of three talented authors' writing abilities. Science Fiction is not an easy genre to write, it takes not only imagination and skill but knowledge of scientific workings to pull it off convincingly. These three authors did it and did it well.  Ladies, thank you for that.


The last story in the anthology is ENSLAVED BY STARLIGHT by Jessa Slade.


Blurb for ENSLAVED BY STARLIGHT:

Transformed by empathic crystals into the perfect paramour, Benedetta Galil is the last treasure of her fading world. When raiders attack—seeking to corrupt the crystals and conquer all of charted space—she gives herself as a prize to the one man in the universe who values freedom over power. Mercenary sheership Captain Corso Deynah left oppression behind him on a burning planet and has no use for a sex slave, even one as seductive as Benedetta. But while he stubbornly resists her body, her fierce spirit tempts him, and he will risk everything—his ship, his seclusion, the very stars—to win not just her passion but her love.

Crystals that infuse into your body and make you sensual beyond sensual - where do I get me some of that?

The blurb for ENSLAVED BY STARLIGHT is one of the best I've ever read. It summarizes this story in a few lines just as Jessa Slade has taken a full-length story and condensed it into about 117 pages. ENSLAVED BY STARLIGHT is capturing, it's imaginative, it's so well written that by the time I finished reading it, I really had felt like I had read a full-length novel instead of a novella.

Qv'arratz is a planet on the edge of destruction and Corso Deynah knows the destruction of whole planets all too well, he bears the scars to prove it. When he gets a call for assistance from the last keyed l'auralya of Qv'arratz pleading with him to give them protection from possible Universal Union raiders  who are determined to steal their planet's greatest treasure, the crystal qva'avaq, Corso immediately refuses. He's fought too many lost wars and his freedom to roam the universe is too important to him to risk losing. But the l'auralya, Benedetta, is already two steps ahead of him and threatens to have his ship, Asphodel taken away from him. He now has a choice, risk losing his ship to battle with payment being only a not big enough sum of credits and the offer of owning a l'auralya or risk losing it to a conniving pleasure slave who holds the threat of decommissioning it over his head.

Through the two-way visual comm, Benedetta and Corso have seen each (in the case of Corso, Benedetta has seen more than she expected but it was well appreciated) but neither expected the intense physical attraction that bounced between them upon meeting in person. Once the decommissioning edict is voided, Corso agrees to hear what Benedetta and two other elder l'auraly have to tell him. Not really knowing why, Corso agrees to at least learn who the raiders are that intend to attack the vulnerable population of Qv'arratz until they give up and surrender the stunning crystals that infuse a person's nervous system leaving them capable of being enslaved. The crystals cannot fall into the hands of those who will make a weapon out of it. Corso understands that freedom is the last treasure of the universe and anyone who holds such a weapon would enslave anyone who gets in their way, including Corso.

Corso and the crew of the Asphodel soon discover that they are not alone in the battle. Benedetta and the other l'aurlya have skills and abilities that aid them in a way that their weapons don't. Working as a team and facing danger rocketing from the sky, the crew of the Asphodel and the people of Qv'arratz don't give up. Corso learns that freedom isn't what he thought it was and Benedetta discovers that freedom truly is the greatest cost.

ENSLAVED BY STARLIGHT is a truly wonderful reading experience. Jessa Slade has brought to life an imaginative world with triple moons, thin planetary rings of icy dust and caves of sharp dangerous crystals of intense beauty that can kill. These crystals, when blended or keyed with a person who can survive it, create a being so sensually sensitive that sex literally becomes an out of this world experience. Jessa packed more story into this novella than I've read in some full-length novels. Brava, Jessa, for taking this reader on a trip to a far off world wrought with danger, intrigue, and passion. I highly recommend this novella for anyone who has enjoyed science fiction romance in the past or would like to experience it for the first time now. Oh, and Jessa, your plot bunnies can come live at my house any time.

HOTTER ON THE EDGE, an anthology of novellas by Erin Kellison, KC Klein, and Jessa Slade is packed full with action, danger, intrigue, and passion. These three authors have pooled together to create an adventure into science fiction romance that I hope will be repeated again and again.

Happy Reading!

HOTTER ON THE EDGE, a science fiction romance anthology featuring novellas by Erin Kellison, KC KLEIN, and JESSA SLADE. Published by Hotter Edge, released on February 2, 2012, ASIN: B00757WOT6. Ebook format. Available at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Limited time: you can get it for $.99.

                                                     

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Unwrapping: 2nd Review of HOTTER ON THE EDGE, an anthology

On Monday, I began a three-part review of HOTTER ON THE EDGE, a science fiction romance anthology. Today's review is for the second novella in the anthology,  TO BUY A WIFE by KC Klein.

Blurb for TO BUY A WIFE:

In a harsh land where corruption rules and women are few, cold realist Hudson Land must purchase a wife to save his farm. Instead of an auction, he witnesses the start of an execution. With his first look at a beautiful woman in years, Hudson knows he has to have her—no matter the cost. Lake, a chemist and a rebel fighter, is resigned to her death, but when some back-hill farmer rescues her from the chopping block she has no intention of simply becoming his wife. She’s pledged her life to the Rebellion and being bought for some stranger’s bed doesn’t change a thing, though his soft caresses have her longing for more. As lies and secrets build between them, are the quiet moments during the nights they’ve shared enough to stand against two warring factions in a world where only the strong survive?

Let me say this right off the bat, the blurb is misleading.

We meet Hudson first. He's just arrived in town to purchase a wife to save his land from being confiscated by the Elders as an unmarried man is not allowed to own land. He's desperate to buy a wife and is willing to give forth his life savings to get one to save his land, land that has been in his family for generations. Having missed the wife auction, Hudson's last resort is to purchase a wife by saving her from execution. It's a dangerous thought taking a criminal for a wife but he's running out of time.

Lake is so close to death, she can taste it but has resigned herself to it. Knowing her life isn't worth any of the Rebels coming to save, she is surprised when a big man wielding an axe claims she is carrying his child. Simple words that save her life. Women and children are a precious commodity and cannot be squandered. With no other choice, shackled both physically and legally to this man, Lake must go with him. It doesn't, however, stop her from trying to kill him on the way to his farm.

The misleading line in the blurb is:  are the quiet moments during the nights they’ve shared enough to stand against two warring factions in a world where only the strong survive?

The reader doesn't really witness these quiet moments during the nights they've shared.

As it is written, TO BUY A WIFE is Lake's story. We meet Hudson first, we learn what he needs from Lake - protection for his farm, his men, future children, and companionship. I think we even get a hint of his wanting love. After Hudson brings Lake to his farm, he makes a deal with her that she may have twenty-four hours to do what she needs - something she won't tell him - but that she return willingly to him as a wife and eventual mother to his children. Lake agrees but has no intention of keeping her promise. It's at this point that I feel Hudson becomes a secondary character. It becomes Lake's story, her journey, her mission, and eventually her fight. Hudson comes across as nothing more than a second thought and bodyguard. When he does go after her and makes a deal with the Rebels to retrieve Lake's brother, Vonn, I felt it before he declared it that he would easily accept Vonn into his family - I like Hudson.

Lake is a strong character, a strong female character - KC is good at writing strong female characters - but I get the feeling of Lake resigning herself to being Hudson's wife more than desiring it, at least until literally the very end of the story. The romance wasn't evident in this science fiction romance novella. The scene where Lake is being Marked and Hudson brings her to orgasm while she is being brutally tattooed was more sexually sadistic than romantically tender on Hudson's part since this was supposedly Lake's first real sexual encounter. I would think she would forever link sex with pain after that, not tenderness.

You're probably saying to yourself, uh oh, she didn't like TO BUY A WIFE ... not at all, I liked it but I feel it was short changed by being a novella instead of a full-length novel. The premise of the story is intriguing. I got a scifi western-esk feel from it, reminiscent of some Firefly episodes and I liked that. The problem I had with TO BUY A WIFE is that I wanted more. I wanted to see more interaction between Lake and Hudson. I wanted to know more about the world in which they lived, how it came to be and why there was such a shortage of women. I wanted to see Hudson play a greater role in the story and to see him meet Vonn and interact with the boy who he was willing to call his family merely to please Lake. I wanted to feel that Lake really was falling in love with Hudson.

In short, as it was written, TO BUY A WIFE didn't present itself as a romance - a science fiction novella, yes, but a science fiction romance, no. Perhaps some day, KC will take this story and expand it into the really wonderful full-length science fiction romance that I think it can be.  HOTTER ON THE EDGE is an anthology still worth reading!

Happy Reading!

HOTTER ON THE EDGE, a science fiction romance anthology featuring novellas by Erin Kellison, KC KLEIN, and JESSA SLADE. Published by Hotter Edge, released on February 2, 2012, ASIN: B00757WOT6. Ebook format. Available at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Limited time: you can get it for $.99.

                                                               

Monday, February 13, 2012

Unwrapping: Review of HOTTER ON THE EDGE, an anthology

The other day, I received a request from KC Klein (author of DARK FUTURE) asking me if I had time to read and review an anthology that she, Erin Kellison and Jessa Slade had come together to create. As soon as I read the blurbs on Amazon, I couldn't say yes fast enough. Three stories of sci-fi romance, oh yes! Since I'm still reading them, I decided to give each author the credit due them. I am going to treat each novella as an individual work, which they are of course, and will review each one as I finish reading it.

The first novella in the anthology belongs to Erin Kellison, ALL THAT GLITTERS.

Cheated out of a fortune by the Sol royal family, lowborn Simon Miner will do anything to get his revenge, no matter how ruthless. When Princess Mica Sol, a terraforming expert, is shot out of the sky on the way to her sister’s lavish wedding, she fears the worst—scavengers—and flees into an alien jungle to avoid capture. But the man who pursues and captures her is none other than Simon, her former lover. Passions reignite as violence rocks Sol City, and Simon and Mica must fight for love, family, and their world… or lose everything.

ALL THAT GLITTERS starts out fast and never slows down. In the true tradition of science fiction, Sol is a well imagined, believable place with environmental dangers that put our heroine into a precarious position from the very beginning. If the fear of scavengers (those who live on the outskirts of the dome protected city and who are willing to do anything including kill a Sol Princess to regain control of their planet) aren't enough to worry about as she flees her disabled ship but she also has to worry about the planet itself trying to kill this determined daughter of Sol, Mica.

Simon isn't with the scavengers, he's on a mission of his own - to regain the riches that were stolen from him and the families of the men of whom he feels responsible for being killed while mining the precious red mica. His mission - steal it back during the extravaganza that is Mica's sister, Pilar Sol's wedding event. Unknown to him, the one woman he'll always love is on the ship that he and his men choose to shoot down and steal to use to get into the highly protected domed city. Once he realizes the ship belongs to his beautiful, headstrong Mica, he has a new mission - keep her alive even as his two partners would just as easily execute the daughter of Drummond Sol, the head of the Sol family.

Mica hadn't expected to meet up with Simon, the only man who had a claim on her heart, but there he was and now she had not only a need to know what had happened in his life since she left Sol five years earlier but she had an even greater need to be his once more.  Unsure of what he has planned and not fully trusting him, she decides to free herself by aiding his cause and turning the tables on him. After getting the three would-be thieves into the city, she allows Simon's partners to disappear into the crowds knowing they wouldn't stay out of trouble long enough to worry about and claims Simon as her consort thereby forcing him to remain at her side with the hope of protecting him from her father's wrath. So begins their journey together to right the wrongs done to those in need, protect the Sol family from attacks by the scavengers, all the while reigniting the love that had survived a five year separation.

As someone who enjoys science fiction as easily as any other kind of fiction, I am always thrilled when an author mixes romance with one of my favorite genres. ALL THAT GLITTERS is all that and more. It snatches up and deposits the reader on a new and strange world. The setting, different than anything we normally expect in a romance, abounds with dangers and wildlife that make it most hostile toward Humans. Erin Kellison paints a story using a pallet of colorful images that brings the world of Sol to life and endears us to Mica and Simon immediately. Star-crossed lovers torn apart by a vengeful father but reunited stronger than ever to overcome all obstacles before finally coming together as an even more loyal pair in love.

Even if you're not a science fiction fan or a romance fan, for that matter, I think everyone who ever enjoyed a sexy conflict struck romance with a HEA ending or a Robert Heinlein novel will thoroughly enjoy ALL THAT GLITTERS. My only question to Erin is, what happened to the injury to Mica's shoulder? By the time she is discovered by Simon, it's gone. Just a little nitpick. That aside, ALL THAT GLITTERS by Erin Kellison is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it ... it's a wonderful way to introduce yourself to science fiction romance, if you're not already acquainted. 

Now, on to reading the next two novellas, next up - TO BUY A WIFE by KC Klein.  Even if I were to not like the next two as much as ALL THAT GLITTERS, this anthology would be worth getting just for this novella.

Happy Reading!

HOTTER ON THE EDGE, a science fiction romance anthology featuring novellas by Erin Kellison, KC KLEIN, and JESSA SLADE. Published by Hotter Edge, released on February 2, 2012, ASIN: B00757WOT6. Ebook format. Available at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Limited time: you can get it for $.99.  A great Valentine's Day treat for yourself or someone you know loves science fiction romance!

                                                               

Friday, February 10, 2012

Unwrapping: Review of A SECRET IN HER KISS by Anna Randol

I love reading books by new authors and am very glad I read this one!

A SECRET IN HER KISS is Anna Randol's debut Historical Romance Novel and does not disappoint. Released on January 31, 2012 by Avon Publishing, A SECRET IN HER KISS is a breath of fresh air that most definitely breathes new life into the historical romance genre.

Blurb from A SECRET IN HER KISS:

She would gladly relinquish her life of intrigue…
A rare beauty, raised in the exotic heart of the Ottoman Empire, Mari Sinclair knows it’s time to end her career as a British spy when she narrowly avoids a brush with death. Unfortunately her employers think otherwise—and they are not above using blackmail to keep Mari in the Game.
Saddled with a handsome, duty-obsessed “minder” to ensure that she completes—and survives—one last mission, Mari is incensed…for her guardian, Major Bennett Prestwood, is simply too dedicated, too unbending, and too disarmingly attractive. But in the face of dark secrets and deadly treacheries, as the true peril to Mari is slowly revealed, loyal soldier Bennett realizes that, to save and win this extraordinary woman, he will have to do the unthinkable and break the rules—rules that passion and desire have suddenly, irrevocably changed.

So different from other Regency Romances, A SECRET IN HER KISS set during the time of the Ottoman Empire in the city of Constantinople, gives the reader a taste of the exotic while infusing the story with intrigue, danger, betrayal and undeniable passion.

The year is 1815, Major Bennett Prestwood, ordered to travel to Constantinople to play protector to a woman whose artistic talents are too important to lose to whoever has uncovered her role as spy for the English, discovers his new charge is headstrong and independent. Mari's loyalties to those closest to her - Nathan Abington, her father, her servants and Esad Pasha, the man whom she has come to think of more as a father than her own - may well be putting her in greater danger than her missions.

Annoyed and irritated that the Ambassador has saddled her with a guardian, Mari Sinclair's irritation doubles when she discovers how incredibly handsome and unyielding the British officer is both in appearance and in attitude. Forced to play the role as charming suitor, she sets out to persuade Bennett to leave her be and return to England. Working slyly, she attempts to drive him away by any means possible only to find her desire for him driving her to need and depend on him even more. Still not trusting the man, she begins to learn he has a side that he keeps hidden from everyone, including her. The man has something fierce driving his sense of duty just as she has her own secrets driving her reasons for completing increasingly dangerous missions for the British. 

As the dangers increase, so does the desire smoldering beneath the surface of this couple who are forced to play at courting in public but soon practice the role to perfection in private. The only thing holding them back is their lack of trust in each other. The pair take turns betraying each other's trust until both fear there is no trust left to salvage. Both have a duty to complete and neither are willing to allow that duty to fail even for love.

A SECRET IN HER KISS is an exotic trip into a land of strange and dangerous cultures. Intrigue abounds behind every door, market cart, and desert boulder. From the first page to the last, Anna Randol keeps the reader on the edge of their seat as a fiery desire develops between Mari and Bennett while the dangers around them increase.

Over all, I found this debut novel strong, inventive, and a delightful foray into an exotic setting. I do wish the ending was a bit stronger. This was a story that I didn't want to end and when it did, I was left wondering what would happen to Mari's father, Achilla and Selim. Even a simple line or two could have vanquished my concerns for these characters. 

I highly recommend A SECRET IN HER KISS by Anna Randol - published by Avon, available in print (beautiful cover) and ebook formats.  Happy Reading!!

                                                                 

BTW: If anyone is interested in entering Juliana Stone's WRONG SIDE OF HELL Pre-Order Contest - a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card (1st prize) or a signed copy of WICKED ROAD TO HELL (2nd prize and the one I want) - click here for details.  : )

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