Once Upon a Christmas Kiss by Manda Collins

ORDER A COPY: Once Upon a Christmas Kiss

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publishing Date: October 14, 2014
eBook: 125 pages

Rating: 4 stars

This was an enjoyable novella which gives us a glimpse of a historical holiday house party, but also gives us enough intrigue and romance to keep it interesting. This is a companion novella to the Wicked Widows series since it makes reference to the new Duke of Ormond, but can certainly be read as a stand alone.

In this novella, Sir Lucien Blackwell would rather be home for the holidays or better yet with his friend, Trevor, the Duke of Ormond. But Trevor has recently married and he has other plans this season. Lucien has finally accepted the invitation from his cousins, Lord Hurst and his wife, to attend their holiday house party.

Lucien is certain he has made a mistake from the moment he walks in and sees all the eligible ladies and their marriage minded mothers. That is until he see the one young lady who has been occupying his thoughts of late. Miss Winifred Nightingale has been the governess to his friend Trevor’s young sisters for the last few months and with all his recent visits, Lucien and Winnie have become good friends. Lucian has been thinking lately that it might be time to find a wife of his own and maybe it is time to change that friendship with the lovely Winifred into something more.

Winnie has been invited to attend the party along with her sister, Cordelia, who is the local school mistress, and not everyone in attendance is happy to see the pretty young governess and her equally pretty sister grabbing the attention of the unattached gentlemen. There is more than one lady that wants these lesser born ladies out of the house. And someone has become very forceful in their attempts to move them along.

It turns out that one of the gentlemen who shows up at the house was the young Lord at one of Winnie’s prior positions. Lord Leaming came home for school and decided that raping the governess was a fun way to pass the time at home. He didn’t succeed since Winifred got out a scream and woke the house, but she was fired all the same and the young Lord was deprived some privileges as punishment. Leaming wants to punish Winnie for his troubles but is he the one trying to run her out of the house?

Because of their friendship, Winnie approaches Lucien for protection hoping that a fake engagement between the two would protect her for any trouble with Leaming. Lucien agrees but only if Winnie will contemplate making it a real engagement. Winnie’s plan for protection doesn’t go exactly as planned since she is now under attack by the ladies of the house. None are happy to see a lowly governess snatch up a Lord of Lucien’s wealth, standing or handsomeness and the claws have come out. They begin to slander Winnie and her sister’s good names and Lord Leaming helps to fan the flames of jealousy.

As the attacks on Winnie start to become more violent, Winnie and Lucien need to unmask the attacker because she ends up seriously harmed.

This was a nice holiday story where we get a glimpse of what kind of entertainment, etc. which would be involved in a holiday house party of the time. We also see how vicious the competition is for a rich, titled husband can be, especially one that is nice to look at.

In the way of nitpicking, it seems a bit of a bad decision to suggest a fake engagement between a governess and a lord. For one, I didn’t think it was often a broken contract and breaking it off often made one or both parties look bad. Since she is a governess, it would look like Lucien promised an engagement to get into her bed and then broke it off once he got what he wanted. The only other alternative would be that Lucien was so horrible a person that a lowly governess couldn’t even go through with marrying him.  Either way, breaking the engagement wouldn’t look good for either of them.

They also took a lot of abuse and snide comments just from the tiny house party.  It seems a little reckless to risk the slander just for a fake engagement. Lucien could simply have talked to Leaming that Winnie was a personal friend and under his protection.

Without the nitpicking on the plot, it was quick read and a generally enjoyable story. Winnie and Lucien were both likable characters and there was a little side story involving Winnie’s sister and a local Lord who was trying to court her and who was warned away by one of the Mama’s since she was already trying to grab that lord for one of her four girls.

Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Scene:

“Far be it from me to ignore a man in need. Especially at Christmas,” Mrs. Coweyes—dash it, he thought, Winnie had him thinking of her that way too!—said before she rose up on her tiptoes to kiss him full on the mouth. When she started to twine her hands around his neck, Lucien disentangled himself. Just in time to see Winnie glaring at them.

“I believe the usual practice is for gentlemen to kiss ladies beneath the mistletoe,” Winnie said to the widow, her eyes narrowed with annoyance. “Unless the custom is different in your part of the country.”

“Oh, you mean in strumpet-town, my dear?” drawled Mrs. Cowper. At Winnie’s startled laugh, which she quickly disguised as a coughing fit, the widow shrugged. “I know how I’m perceived by other women, Miss Winifred. In part because I ignore convention when I find it to be contrary to my wishes. But I can assure you that mistletoe, like many other pleasurable activities, goes both ways.”

“I would not wish you to think—” Winnie sputtered, clearly caught between sympathy and pique. But her automatic apology was forestalled by the widow, who took Winnie by the hand and shoved her under the mistletoe.

“There,” she said with a speaking look at Lucien. “Is that better?”

To Lucien she said, “I’ll let you take over from here. Don’t say I never did you a favor.”

Turning to his prize, Lucien saw that Winnie was looking up. “I was angry,” she said, “because I’d intended to lure you under the mistletoe myself.”

“What a hypocrite,” Lucien laughed softly, the chatter around them receding as their eyes locked and the world narrowed into just the two of them.

“She was kissing my fiancé,” Winnie said without shame. “I’d have done a great deal more if you weren’t so obviously eager to remove her from your person.”

“Jealous?” Lucien said with a grin. “I like it.”

Why Lords Lose their Hearts by Manda Collins

ORDER A COPY: Why Lords Lose Their Hearts

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Tantor Audio
Publishing Date: July 29, 2014
Audiobook: 7 hrs 54 min.
Narrator: Anne Flosnick

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

This was the last book in the Wicked Widows trilogy. Although this was the only book in the series that I read, I had no problem following the story. I just had a hard time enjoying this since the characters were so stiff and formal and I never felt any real connection with them.

In the opening scene we are presented with the happenings on the night that the Duke of Ormond was killed. Gevase was abusive to Perdita and finally Perdita, with the help of her friends (who all suffered abusive first marriages), decided to leave him. But Gevase was drinking and he attacked Perdita before she could leave. He was holding a knife to her throat. While he was distracted by the other women, Perdita pushed him away and he fell on his knife. Perdita was never charged with his death, but someone is making sure that there is speculation around the ton about the night of his death.

Her husband’s secretary, Lord Archer Lisle has been there for Perdita since her husband’s death. Yet it is for more than just friendly support. Archer has been in love with Perdita since he first met her and was unaware that she suffered abuse at the hand of her husband even though he was always around. Archer tortures himself that he missed the signs.

The beautiful widowed Duchess of Ormond has been receiving a lot of attention, but Perdita will only consider remarrying a man she can control. She has relied on Archer, but she believes she could fall in love with him and that was her first mistake with Gevase. She believed she loved him and allowed him to slowly turn that love into control and abuse. She won’t listen to Archer’s offers of marriage. And for someone who is not an 18 year old virgin, she is still quite naive. She decides she will take Archer as her lover and maybe even keep him after she remarries. Archer realizes how foolish her plan is since the man she remarries will no doubt want an heir of his own and there is none that would risk the child being Archer’s to allow her to continue an affair.

Archer being no fool decides to take Perdita up on her offer in hopes that he can convince her to turn their sexual affair into a real marriage before she accepts one of the losers she is allowing to court her.

Meanwhile, someone is trying to harm Perdita and is blaming her for Gevase’s death. After being attacked both verbally and physically, Archer “kidnaps” her, with the help of her friends, and takes her to a secret location — his parents’ house?

Shockingly, the bad guy locates Perdita and Archer at his parents’ house, but with the help of his family, they attempt to protect Perdita from harm, and try to convince her that Archer loves her and would never harm her. A long talk with Archer’s mother, who was also abused by her first husband, goes a long way in trying to convince Perdita.

Although the characters were likable enough, they were too starched for my taste to really connect with. When Perdita is attacked and knocked off her horse, she hits her head and is knocked unconscious. When she wakes, she is apologetic to Archer for rudely falling unconscious in front of him. What? That’s a little too much for me.

She is also very naive in how she is facing her future in looking for a new husband (not that she really needs one) and she finds that she almost once again picks a man who will control her. Although she knows how kind and sweet Archer is, she won’t be fooled into marrying a man she is attracted to since that is what got her in trouble the first time. But she knows Archer better than she knew her husband who courted her when she was a young woman. Her plan to have sex with Archer and marry a man she can control, even though she is not a bossy woman by nature, is flawed. It is fantasy plan that a young, innocent girl would come up with when she is planning her first season in London, not a woman who has already been married and who is aware of how much a wife is subject to her husband’s whims.

There is also added stupidity in that when Archer and Perdita have sex the first time, Archer brings a ‘French letter’ (which is a condom), but then takes it off and they have sex again and he forgets to put it back on — um, what? You thought enough to bring one, but then forgot it for the repeat, and it is never used again. What’s the point of having the money to get one, having one and only using it once? You knew you couldn’t get her pregnant with her current stupid plan, but only use the condom once? I was just confused why bring it in and not continue to be smart about it.

The reveal of who has been torturing the women throughout the trilogy was very interesting but we might not have found this out if Archer’s plan for kidnapping Perdita was better. Perdita stupidly declared she wasn’t going to be frightened into leaving London leaving Archer with no other option but to work with her friends to drug Perdita and get her out of town. Now a woman who needs trunks of clothes and necessities can’t really be abducted quietly, but really, taking her to your parents’ house? Like that wouldn’t be a natural place to look for Archer when he disappears from town? Well, the killer figured it out quick enough since they were barely there a day, when the torture started again.

As far as the narration on this audiobook, it was nicely done and had a natural flow to it and very distinct voices so you weren’t confused as to who was talking. I did hate the way she pronounced Perdita so that was pretty annoying to hear dozens of times, and I never really got used to it.

I did recently read a Manda Collins short story, Once Upon a Christmas Kiss, which was more enjoyable than this story although I do have some nitpicking on plot issues. I’ll be back with that review tomorrow.

Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Friday Giveaway – Blood Magick by Nora Roberts

Happy Friday! Did anyone watch The Walking Dead season premiere last Sunday. I love Carol! Now that everyone loves Carol, I fear for her. :( There’s nothing like being a new favorite character to put your head on a chopping block — or in a walker’s mouth.

I finished Marked which I mentioned getting last Friday.  I finished in a day.  Then I read it again.  I can’t wait to share it with you all.  I loved it with the exception a few nitpicky issues.  And it did have the same non-stop epilogue as Return of the King with each couple from the series getting about half a chapter to a chapter of closure at the very end.

I’ve got some great books coming up on my TBR list that I am very excited about.

What’s coming out that you are looking forward to?

Giveaway ends Thursday, October 23rd. Open to U.S. residents, 18 years and older.

Book Three of The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy
Blood Magick

County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna O’Dwyer fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna’s special touch.

Branna’s strength and selflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family—along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound. But there’s a single missing link in the chain of her life: love…

She had it once—for a moment—with Finbar Burke, but a shared future is forbidden by history and blood. Which is why Fin has spent his life traveling the world to fill the abyss left in him by Branna, focusing on work rather than passion.

Branna and Fin’s relationship offers them both comfort and torment. And though they succumb to the heat between them, there can be no promises for tomorrow. A storm of shadows threatens everything that their circle holds dear. It will be Fin’s power, loyalty, and heart that will make all the difference in an age-old battle between the bonds that hold their friends together and the evil that has haunted their families for centuries.

Spotlight – Caged in Winter Pre-Release Celebration

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In this emotional and sexy New Adult debut from Brighton Walsh, the only thing more frightening than commitment is hope…

Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response…

Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want…

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“Okay, now add the flour, but—” It’s too late, a puff of white exploding in Winter’s face before I can get the words out or reach to flip the switch. “You need to turn the mixer to low.”

She spins around, her cheeks covered in random white spots, some of the flour dusting her hair. “You couldn’t say that before, ‘Now add the flour’?” Her voice is low, her eyes narrowed, and I take a step back.

“Well, yeah, I guess I could’ve, but I just sort of figured you’d know enough not to add loose flour to a wildly spinning mixer.”

“Oh, you figured I’d know enough for that, huh? Even after I told you I’ve never made cookies before? Even then?”

She’s advancing on me now, and I shouldn’t be retreating like a scared animal. I have more than a foot on her, a hundred-plus pounds, but she looks pissed. And that glint in her eye tells me she’s up to something. I glance down at her hand, seeing a measuring cup half filled with flour, and I realize what she’s going to do a split-second before she does, but not soon enough to dodge it.

A cloud of white powder hits me straight in the face, and I cough as I inhale some. Wiping away the dust from my eyes, I say, “I can’t believe you did that.”

“Oh, well, I just figured you’d know enough to duck.” She shrugs and offers me a saccharine smile.

“I don’t think you want to start this with me, baby.”

“In case you missed the flour in your face a second ago, I already started it, baby.”

I stare her down, then reach over, grabbing the bowl of melted chocolate—my mom’s secret ingredient in her cookies—and dip my fingers into it. Winter narrows her eyes at me and takes a step back. “Don’t you dare.”

“Where you goin’? I thought you wanted to get messy.”

“No, I wanted you to get messy. I didn’t have a choice with this,” she says as she gestures to where the flour hit her. She darts her eyes down to the bowl of chocolate, then back up to my face. “Don’t, Cade. You’re going to get me dirty, and I have to be at work soon.”

“You maybe should’ve thought about that before you threw a scoop of flour in my face.” I don’t wait for her response before I smear the chocolate down her cheek to her jaw, then all the way down her neck and into the deep V of her shirt, stopping when I feel the swell of her breasts. “Whoops.”

“You did not just do that.”

“Looks like I did.” I shrug, putting the bowl back on the counter before I lick the chocolate from my fingers. She focuses on the act, her lips parted. I lean closer to her, drop my voice, and gesture to the spots of her skin that are covered. “You want me to clean you up, too?”

Glaring, she gives a jerky shake of her head, but a flush works its way up her chest to her neck—one of the tells she’s getting turned on.

I step closer, backing her into the corner until she’s pressed against the cabinets behind her. “Sure about that? It wouldn’t take much. Just a lick or two. Maybe a couple sucks. We’d probably have to take your shirt off, though, and your bra, too. I really got down in there.”

Her head’s tilted back as she stares up at me, her chest rising and falling in quick succession from her labored breathing.

I lean into her space, lick up a path from her neck to her ear. “I think you do. I think you want my tongue all over you, don’t you, baby? I got you all dirty. Seems only fair I clean you up.” Before she can respond, my mouth closes over her shoulder, my tongue tracing along the chocolate I smeared there. By the time I’ve dipped into the neckline of her shirt, my tongue in the valley of her breasts, her nipples are pressed tight against the material, and she’s got a white-knuckled grip on the countertop behind her.

“Want me to stop?”

I wait a second. Two. And when she gives the slightest shake of her head, I take. Gripping her face in my hands, my mouth covers hers, my tongue slipping inside. She groans into the kiss, her hands finally coming up to clutch my forearms.

“Wait.” She wrenches her mouth from mine, turning her head to the side. “Cade, wait. Your sister.”

I focus on licking every stray ounce of chocolate I can find, her hands a counterpoint to her words as she holds me close. “Not home. Gone till four.”

“Shit! Four. I have to be at work at four!”

“We’ve got time. Now stop talking.”

I peel her jeans and panties off, then lift her onto the counter, desperate to feel her around me. With one hand, I fumble with the button of my jeans, the other busy between Winter’s thighs, rubbing soft circles around her clit, getting her ready for me. She’s moaning, her head resting back on the cabinets, and the sight of her there, half naked in my kitchen, is too much. Too fucking much, and I can’t get my goddamn jeans off.

When she notices, her hands are there, opening my jeans and yanking my boxers down just far enough to pull me out. Her hands are around my cock, pumping slowly, and I need inside her now.

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Brighton Author Photo_Color

Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with writing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.





Friday Giveaway – Midnight Action by Elle Kennedy

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TGIF! I am celebrating today because I just downloaded an advance copy of Marked by Rebecca Zanetti. This is final book in the Dark Protectors series which stars Janie. Janie was only 4 when the series began and even then she foresaw that it was her destiny to end the war. I have been waiting for this book for three years. It releases in December but I will be spending the weekend with Janie and Zane, and then a box of tissues since this is the final book. *sniffle*

Since my weekend will be all about action and romance, I think it is fitting for this week’s giveaway to be next book in Elle Kennedy’s Killer Instincts series. I have been looking forward to this one as well. Jim and Noelle lead different black ops organizations and the two have a very explosion history. This will be my next review book and I can’t wait to get all the details on those two.

So tell me – What’s your favorite action packed book or movie?

Giveaway ends Thursday, October 16th. Open to U.S. residents, 18 years and older please.

Ex–army ranger Jim Morgan leads a team of elite mercenaries, but eighteen years ago in Paris, he was part of a black ops unit whose mission was to hunt down a rogue operative. In order to trap the criminal, Jim seduced Noelle, the man’s daughter—a ruthless act that cost him the love of his life and turned her into a mortal enemy. Now he can’t trust her, but he still desires her. He also needs her help….

Older, wiser, and unwilling to play the fool again, Noelle runs a group of highly skilled assassins. And she’s just been offered the hit of the century: Eliminate Jim Morgan. History gives them no reason to trust each other, but with their lives in jeopardy at the hands of a common enemy, the lines between love and hate are soon blurred. Now Noelle and Jim must face the past if they want to have a future—let alone a future together.

Spotlight and Giveaway – Promise Me This by Christina Lee

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A new love will test the boundaries of passion between a privileged boy next door and the tattooed, blue-haired girl who helps him embrace his wild side…

Nate has developed quite a playboy reputation around campus. It’s not that he doesn’t respect or trust women; he doesn’t trust himself. The men in Nate’s family are prone to abusive behavior—a dirty secret that Nate’s been running from his entire life—so Nate doesn’t do relationships. But he can’t help himself around one girl…

Jessie is strong, independent, and works at a tattoo parlor. Nate can’t resist getting close to her, even if it’s strictly a friendship. But it doesn’t take long for Nate to admit that what he wants with Jessie is more than just friendly.

With Jessie, he can be himself and explore what he’s always felt was a terrifying darkness inside him. Even when Nate begins to crave her in a way that both shocks and horrifies him, Jessie still wants to know every part of him. Testing their boundaries together will take a trust that could render them inseparable… or tear them apart.

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Christina Lee Author Photo
Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives in the Midwest with her husband and son–her two favorite guys. She’s addicted to lip gloss, salted caramel everything, and believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.




Harlequin is now partners with Scribd


Breaking News!

Fall in Love Again, and Again, and Again with Harlequin + Scribd

Harlequin Partners with Scribd to Offer +15,000 Titles Exclusively in their Ebook Subscription Service.

We have exciting news to share for book lovers everywhere! Harlequin has partnered with Scridb, a subscription reading service, to make available 15,000+ titles.

Monthly subscribers to Scribd can now find titles from these Harlequin imprints:

They will feature novels from best-selling authors including Debbie Macomber, Robyn Carr, Susan Wiggs, Heather Graham, Shannon Stacey, and many more!

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Readers can enter to win a free 1-year subscription to Scribd

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Run dates of contest: 9 a.m. EST on Thursday, October 9 – 11:50 p.m. EST on Friday, October 17.
**Only open to residents of the U.S. & Canada.

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Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

ORDER A COPY: Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson

Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publishing Date: September 2, 2014
Paperback: 450 pages
Narrators: Lorelei King and Alexander Cendese

Rating: 5 stars

Shifting Shadows is a collection of short stories from the World of Mercy Thompson. Some feature Mercy and her friends and some do not. Patricia Briggs has a wonderful storyteller and she has created an interesting world of Urban Fantasy. These stories give you a taste of her Mercy Thompson series, as well as several stories that don’t feature characters from her Mercy Thompson series so you can simply enjoy the stories and see if Patricia Briggs is for you.

The Mercy Thompson series are told in the first person by Mercy. A few of these stories are fill in scenes from her books that didn’t fit since there were told by Mercy. So it gives you extras views but it will give spoilers if you haven’t reached those stories yet.

We also get to spend time with Warren and Kyle as well as Ben.  It is nice to get a little deeper into these characters. Ben is challenged to not swear for a month and it is quite entertaining to see him almost struggle to speak without his expletives.  There is a back story on Samuel and Ariana.

As you can probably guess, Alpha and Omega is the novella which began the Alpha and Omega spinoff series.  We never spent much time with Charles in any of Mercy’s book but we kind of knew him as Bran’s scary powerful and unsocial son.  I hadn’t jumped on his spin off but now I have picked up the first three audiobooks in this series and am looking forward to those.

The remaining stories involve vampires, ghosts, witches and fae which will all follow the world building rules which is presented in the Mercy Thompson series.  These were all very entertaining stories.  It reminded me of Stephen King novels when he would give you a full back story on a character who was just crossing the street (and about to be killed), but by the time King killed off the guy, you were so intrigued and invested in this guy you were sad he died.   I enjoyed these little peeks in the windows of others who live in Mercy’s world.

I found it interesting that Patricia Briggs gives a brief description of what prompted the story or what guidelines she was presented in the previously published stories. For example, for the story Gray , she needed to write a story featuring a color and a holiday. It is interesting the stories that are created for the different anthologies that these stories were originally part of.

I am a big fan of Patricia Briggs’ writing and Mercy Thompson and friends. So I enjoyed all the stories presented in this collection. If you are looking for a new paranormal/urban fantasy author, this would be a great way to check out Patricia’s work without making the full commitment to an entire series.

I have listened to this entire series by audiobook. Lorelei King brings Mercy and the gang to life for me.  She has a very natural narration style and gives voice to a cast of characters.  This was my first time listening to Alexander Cendese, but I thought he did a wonderful job narrating for Samuel and for David.

Received a review audiobook from Brilliance audio in exchange for an honest review.


Previously Published Stories

  • Alpha and Omega The first novella about Anna and Charles, which led to a whole spin-off series.
  • Gray An vampire buys the home where she lived with her husband, which has fallen into disrespair. She begins remodeling the place, only to find that old and beloved ghosts still linger.
  • Fairy Gifts Mining towns are rough and human life is cheap. In the turn-of-the-century Butte Montana, a young man, turned to a vampire, struggles with his nature and eventually finds a measure of redemption in an unlikely place.
  • Seeing Eye White witches are rare, and seldom as powerful as their morally-compromised counterparts. In this story, a blind witch teams up with a werewolf on a mission.
  • The Star of David Being a werewolf can wreck havoc on family relations. This is a story of how murder and deception can bring a family together . . .
  • In Red, with Pearls Warren is a werewolf, and a private detective. This is a noir-flavored story about some truly terrible neighbors and why you should always treat a werewolf nicely.

New Stories

  • Silver This is probably the only depressing story I’ve ever written, and it was a hard story to write. This covers how Bran and Samuel were first made into werewolves, and how Samuel first fell in love with the Ariana. Of course, as we learned in Silver Borne, things have to take a tragic turn.
  • Outtake One After the tragedy of Silver, I had to remind myself that with long life comes the opportunity to overcome the past, and forge a better future. Samuel and Ariana have another chance at love, and they’re determined to make it work. This is an outtake from Silver Borne
  • Roses in Winter A young girl survives a werewolf attack, and is transformed into a werewolf. When she wasn’t able to control the wolf, she was moved to Bran’s pack. The law is absolute: if a werewolf cannot learn to control the wolf, they must be destroyed for the safety of all. With hope fading, Asil intervenes.
  • Redemption Ben’s got a quick temper, and a quicker tongue. He’s also made a bet that he can stop swearing for a week, and it just might change his life.
  • Hollow A wealthy recluse is haunted by a terrible ghost, and asks Mercy for help. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Outtake Two A bit that I wrote in Adam’s viewpoint for Night Broken.

Favorite Scene:

This is from Alpha and Omega:

“I think maybe you are the key to Leo’s mystery.”

She couldn’t help a snort of derision. “Me? Leo needed a new doormat?”

He leaned suddenly forward, knocking his chair over as he swept her off of her own and stood her on her feet. She’d thought she was used to the speed and strength of the wolves, but he stole her breath.

As she stood still and shocked, he prowled around her until he came back around the front and kissed her, a long, dark, deep kiss that left her breathless for another reason entirely.

“Leo found you and decided that he needed you,” he told her. “He sent Justin after you, because any of his other wolves would know what you were. Even before your Change, they’d have known. So he sent a half-crazy wolf because any other would have been unable to attack you.”

Hurt, she flinched away from him. He made her sound special, but she knew he was lying. He sounded like he was telling the truth, but she was no prize. She was nothing. For three years she had been nothing. He made her feel special today, but she knew better.

His hands, when they came down on her shoulders, were hard and impossible to resist. “Let me tell you something about Omega wolves, Anna. Look at me.”

She blinked back tears, and, unable to resist his command, raised her eyes to glare at him.

“Almost unique,” he said and gave her a little shake. “I work with numbers and percentages all the time, Anna. I might not be able to figure the odds exactly, but I’ll tell you that the chances that Justin picked you out to Change by sheer chance are almost infinitesimal. No werewolf, acting on instincts alone, would attack an Omega. And Justin strikes me as a wolf who acts on very little else.”

“Why no? Why wouldn’t he have attacked me? And what is an Omega?”

It was evidently the right question because Charles stilled, his former agitation gone. “You are an Omega, Anna. I bet that when you walk into a room, people come to you. I bet complete strangers tell you things they wouldn’t tell their own mothers.”

Incredulous, she stared at him. “You saw Justin this morning. Did he look calm to you?”

“I saw Justin,” he agreed slowly. “And I think that in any other pack he would have been killed shortly after he was made because his control is not good enough. I don’t know why he was not. But I think you allow him to control his wolf—and he hates you for it. You should not be ranked last in your pack.” His hands slid down her shoulders until he held her hands. Oddly that felt more intimate than his kiss had. “An Omega wolf is like the Indian medicine men, outside of the normal pack rankings. They had to teach you to lower your eyes, didn’t they?  To submissive wolves, such things are instinctive. You, they had to beat down. You bring peace to all those around you, Anna,” he said intently, his eyes on her. “A werewolf, especially a dominant wolf, is always on the edge of violence. After being shut in an aircraft with too many people for hours, I came into the airport craving bloodshed like a junkie craves his next fix. But when you came up to me, the anger, the hunger left.”

He squeezed her hands. “You are a gift, Anna. An Omega wolf in the pack means that more wolves survive the Change from human to wolf because they can find control easier with you there. It means that we lose fewer males to stupid dominance fights because an Omega brings a calmness to all those around him. Or her.”

There was a hole in his argument. “But what about earlier, when you almost changed because you were so angry.”

Something happened to his face, an emotion she didn’t know him well enough to read, except to know that it was strong.

When he spoke it was with the visible effort, as if his throat had tightened. “Most werewolves find someone they love, get married, and spend a long time with their spouse before the wolf accepts her as his mate.” He dropped her gaze and turned away, walking across the room and giving her his back.

Without the warmth of his body, she felt cold and alone. Scared.

“Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way,” he told the wall. “Let it rest there for now, Anna. You have been through enough without this.”

“I am so tired of being ignorant,” she spat, suddenly hugely angry. “You’ve changed all the rules on me—so you can damned well tell me what the new rules are.” As abruptly as the anger had come, it was gone, leaving her shaky and on the verge of tears.

He turned and his eyes had gone gold, reflecting the dim light of the room until they glowed. “Fine. You should have let it be, but you want truth.” His voice rumbled like thunder, though it wasn’t very loud. “My Brother Wolf has taken you for his mate. Even if you were nothing to me, I would have never allowed such abuse as you have suffered since your Change. But you are mine, and the though of you hurt, of being able to do nothing about it, is an anger that even an Omega wolf cannot easily soothe.”

Friday Giveaway – Chained by Night by Larissa Ione

Latte bunny

Our Winner is…Stephanie.

God Bless Friday!  I am so happy to see you again.

There has been a lot of controversy this week over the publisher Ellora’s Cave suing the book review blog ‘Dear Author’ for posting an article inferring that some of their authors weren’t receiving prompt payment.  I have read dozens of articles about this, including several regarding authors who are cheering the lawsuit since Dear Author is as vocal on books they don’t like as well as books that they do.  It seems rather petty to me.  No one wants to hear their hard work trashed, but any artist has to know that not everyone is going to like what they do.   If you don’t understand that, then trying to sell your books is going to be painful.

So much of the conversation about this lawsuit has turned into conversations about leaving a bad reviews.   Do you or don’t you?

My feeling is that the whole point of starting a book review blog is to share my opinion on books that I’ve read.   I have read almost 100 books this year, and most of them have been provided to me by publishers.  So I can take a risk on an unknown author to see if I like their storytelling and it doesn’t cost me.

My hope is that before you spend your hard earned book allowance on your next book, maybe I can provide you a little insight on whether a story is worth reading.  That means not only raving about wonderful new books or authors that I have found, but also warning you about books that are flawed and aren’t worth the time or money to read.  Who wants to waste time on a bad book?

I want to help authors get noticed.  Especially ones who have written a story that I really enjoyed.   But ultimately the purpose of a book blog is to help match the readers with their next favorite book.  I have no desire to trash an author or their hard work, but if I didn’t get enjoyment out of the story, then it hasn’t done its job and I need to share that with you before you decide whether to spend your money on it.

Nothing is better than going to the bookstore and picking up a new book.  Its the adult toystore.  Heck, my kids love it when I take them to the book store.  The only problem is that unless you are going to pick up the next book from your favorite author, you are simply surrounded by shelves and shelves of books and you can’t tell by looking at it or reading the back cover if this story is going to be something you are going to enjoy.

My hope is that next time you make a trip to your favorite bookstore that I have given some information, good or bad, to help make your next book selection.

On that note, this week’s giveaway is a new paranormal series that I talked about on Monday from Larissa Ione.  It is Book 2 in the series. You could read this without reading Book 1, but you will be a half-step behind.  I really enjoyed this story and the majority of the bloggers that I read have agreed with me.

So my question to you this week is – Do you ever leave a bad review if you don’t like a book (or any product that you have purchased) or do you only share the positive?

Giveaway ends October 9th. Open to U.S. residents, 18 years and older.

Leader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction – or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation. To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader’s daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans.

But survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress’s identical twin sister?

Once Perfect by Cecy Robson

ORDER A COPY: Once Perfect (Shattered Past)

Publisher: Loveswept
Publishing Date: October 7, 2014
eBook: 272 pages

Rating: 4 stars

A week after I finished this story, I am still not sure how I feel about it. I was definitely intrigued by the characters and the story line, but I haven’t made up my mind yet how much I liked the characters and what my interest would be to read any other books in the series. Cecy Robson tells a slightly dark tale where neither wealth, poverty nor social standing determine the person you are.

Orphaned and abandoned after her father commits suicide over an embezzlement scandal, former rich girl Evelyn Preston now has to struggle to make ends meet while waitressing at a local college bar and studying to get a degree in nursing.

Evelyn seems to be very introverted and sheltered for a girl who grew up mega rich. She has a hard time making friends because she spent most of her youth with the type of friends who want to be with you because of who you are, not because they like you. She also had a boyfriend pre-selected by her father and his parents as a good social match. Donovan and his family also abandoned Evelyn after the scandal. We get all this in dribs and drabs until a big reveal of all the secrets that Evelyn is hiding at the end of the story.

To begin the story, Evelyn doesn’t really socialize with her co-workers and she keeps herself apart from them. She is intrigued yet afraid of the attractive and built Mateo who is the head bouncer at the club. She knows that Mateo was in prison for a time for beating a man. So although she is intrigued, she avoids contact, even eye contact, with Mateo even though he is kind to Evelyn and the other people in the bar. It isn’t until his friend explains that Mateo went to prison for beating the man who raped his baby sister does Evelyn look past his conviction to see the man behind tattoos, and give herself an opportunity to get to know him. Even though Mateo and Evelyn begin to date, I kept feeling like she was holding herself back from the relationship. A feeling that even Mateo felt since he kept wondering if she wanted to walk away.

Mateo and Evie definitely came from different economic worlds.  Mateo withdraws a bit from Evie when he sees the mansion that she grow up in.  He sees the wealth she once knew but forgets the simple fact that Evelyn is remaking herself and forging her own way and she seems to be okay with that.  Not only is there a financial difference in their lives but they also had different cultural upbringings. Because of this, Evie (and myself) didn’t understand why Mateo allowed his father to beat on his sisters and himself. Mateo is a trained MMA fighter.  He could have fought back and the father would have thought twice before getting violent.  The explanation in the story is that Cubans never hit their elders. Apparently, it was accepted that their father who all but abandoned them could get drunk or stoned and beat them bloody, but not to protect yourself from this abuse.  No fighting back.  No Order of Protection.  No calling the police.  This leads to both Mateo and his sister pushing away their significant others so they didn’t need to be subjected to their family violence.

Mateo was very much the gentle giant, when he is not fighting in the ring.  He was very attracted to Evelyn but he understood that she had some issues and acted very gentlemanly with her and didn’t push the relationship with her and was always willing to pull back if he overwhelmed her. He was thoughtful and protective of his sister and Evie which just leads to more confusion as to why he was so accepting of his father’s violence.

I enjoyed the story, but I feel that Cecy Robson skimmed over a lot of questions and didn’t let us get to know all about these characters.  I don’t know whether there are answers we will get in future stories.

When Evelyn finally gives us all the details of her past, it creates a gap between her and Mateo and I never felt 100 percent right about them after that.  We never get the whole story behind his sister’s rape or anything about Mateo being in prison. There was a lot of “I don’t want to talk about it” moments.   I felt like they all held some part of themselves back.

There was something about this story that kept me from connecting with these characters and I am all about the characters in a story.

Overall, it was an absorbing story and I liked it but I just didn’t love it.

Received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Scene:

Evelyn isn’t much of a cook but she attempted to make Mateo a thank you batch of cookies for his help.

Mateo stopped smiling when he saw me approach, barely managing a nod. “Evie.”

He wasn’t happy to see me. Awesome. Everything in me screamed to run and hide. But it was too late now.

Ant smirked. “Hey, sweet thing. What’re you up to?”


“Nothing” appeared to be the operative word.  They stood there, waiting for more. I struggled with what to say until my gaze fell on Mateo’s Wrath tattoo. I motioned to his forearm with my plate. “D-did you get that when you were…you know, in the big house?”

Their stunned pause gave my face time to warm, but that was nothing compared to the scorching blush Ant’s sudden cackle caused. “The big house?” He laughed again, this time doubling over and slapping his leg. “Evelyn, you are the whitest person on the planet. You have no business saying “big house.”

Mateo’s chest and shoulders shook and he struggled to keep his lips pressed tight. He didn’t laugh out loud exactly, but when he gave me his back I figured it was a very bad sign. He placed his hands on his hips and lowered his head, taking a few breaths while I waited like a moron with the friggin’ cookies in my hands. When he turned, I was shocked to see all traces of humor had dissolved from his face. Meanwhile Ant continued to laugh his ass off. Mateo cleared his throat. “Ant, go ask Sam if the new T-shirts are in.”

And wiped his tear-streaked eyes. “Are you sure you want me to leave you alone with this badass broad?”

Mateo’s head jerked toward the wall. He swiped his mouth with his hand and took another deep sigh, regaining his composure. “Just ask him.”

He gave him a shove when Ant opened his mouth to say something more. What the eff? I just wanted to die. Mateo tilted his chin toward the cookies. “You like baking?”

“No. Yes. No.” Gawd. I held out the plate. “I made them for you. You helped me last week and i never had the chance to do, well, say…” I released a breath when he just stared. “Thank you. I’m just trying to thank you.”

The next few seconds were the longest of my life, and it took everything I had not to bolt. I was glad I stayed. The edges of Mateo’s full lips curved into a smile. He locked eyes with me, and I forgot everything: Ant’s laugh, my humiliation, my regret. I knew I was in trouble when I realized I never wanted to look away.

“You’re welcome, Evie.” he murmured, his voice deeper. He reached for the plate, breaking our connection as he placed it on the bar. He removed the flimsy plastic wrap. With a wink and a grin, he reached for a cookie.

It was all so magical.

Until he took a bite.

The moment his teeth clenched down, something changed his expression. Was it shock freezing the strong angles of his face? Pain? No…

He continued to munch with embarrassingly great difficulty just as Ant returned. “Sam says the shirts should be in by Monday. Oh, cookies.”

Mateo reached out a hand, trying to stop Ant from swiping one, but he was too busy choking on my mutant creation to be of any use. Ant took a bite and immediately spit it out. “What the—?” He pointed accusingly at the cookie. “Did you make this shit?”

I answered the only way I knew how. “Ah, no?”

Mateo wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, chunks of crumbs and chocolate smearing his mouth and jaw. This time he couldn’t kill his laughter. His body splayed across the bar as he forced down the last of my ‘thank-you.’

There were moments in my life I could have clung to forever. This was not one of them. I was mortified.

It couldn’t get any worse—or so I thought—until a few of the bouncers strolled in and found their fearless leader slumped across the bar in hysterics. I inched away, ready to race away, screaming. Ant, of course, just couldn’t let it die.

“Listen up, peeps. If anyone, and I mean anyone, pulls the dealing shit tonight. I want you to bash their skulls in with one of these.” He lifted one of my cookies over his head. “These bitches will knock a motherfucker out.”


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