Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts

The Perfect Hope (Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, #3)


ORDER A COPY: The Perfect Hope: Book Three of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy

Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publishing Date: November 6, 2012
Paperback: 336 pages

Rating: 5 stars


The Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother are breathing new life into the town of Boonsboro, Maryland, by restoring its historic hotel. And they’re finding their own lives revamped by love. This is Ryder’s story… Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out — with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except apparently Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro. And though the Inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope’s experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome — and embarrassing — appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder’s emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him.


In the Perfect Hope, Nora Roberts brings us back for one last stay at the Inn Boonsboro. When Ryder Montgomery first saw Hope Beaumont walk into the Inn with her beauty pageant good looks, mile high heels that accented her long legs and her perfect body encased in a perfect suit, he knew she was trouble. He wasn’t happy when his mother hired her on the spot. He though she was too snooty, too uppity and too city for their quiet little Inn. Even though he now sees how well she runs thing, there is still something about her that keeps him on edge.

When her former boyfriend, Jonathan Wickham of the Wickham Hotel, comes sniffing around looking to bring Hope back to D.C., Hope isn’t prepared to deal with her old, and newly married boyfriend, so she does the first thing that comes to mind, and grabs Ryder up in a great big kiss to prove that she has moved on with her life. As Hope rages against Jonathan’s insolence, Ryder sees something he never thought of before, that his frosty and flawless innkeeper might not be as perfect and unapproachable as he believed.

Hope believed her dream life included marrying the charming and stylish Jonathan, managing his family’s hotel, and playing hostess to wonderful parties and the glamorous lifestyle she was living in D.C. Imagine her surprise when that all fall apart when Jonathan announced his upcoming marriage to another woman. Even more surprising to Hope is how much happier she is now running a small Inn in the quaint little town of Boonsboro, Maryland. She has a wonderful job with a lovely boss, and now she is close to her best friends who are celebrating births, and marriages and new businesses, and who cares if sexy Ryder Montgomery looks at her like she’s an annoyance. Who cares that he is always swaggering around Town in his tool belt, always smelling of sawdust and varnish, and who cares if his ass is just bitable, Ryder is so not her type at all. So why can’t she stop thinking about him?

In our last visit to Inn Boonsboro, Nora Roberts brings us a wonderful story of two people who believe they don’t belong together, but who couldn’t be more perfect together.

THOUGHTS:
Although I still have an underlying annoyance at the subliminal sales pitch for her new Inn, no one can complain that Nora Roberts doesn’t do her pitch well.

This was another well written and enjoyable romantic story of two people who couldn’t believe there was anyone worse suited for them. Both Hope and Ryder look at each other with desire, but both continue to stand by the fact that the other is so not their type.

Nora also doesn’t have to give us overused plot twists. She can bring us a great story where romance feels fresh and grows in a natural progression. She brings in the prior boyfriend, but instead of causing the usual problems and suspicions between our H/H, he is seen quickly for the blowhard that he is and simply becomes a catalyst for bringing our H/H together.

You just can’t go wrong with a Nora Roberts story.

Received an ARC from the Penguin/Berkley. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

“No beer for you.” Ryder scratched at the dog’s ears, gave the homely face a rub. “You can’t handle it. Remember last time? All you did was lap up half a spilled beer before I caught you, and what happened? You walked into walls and puked. “You’re a lousy drunk, Dumbass.”

“My grandmother had a cat who drank brandy.”

This time she gave him a jolt. He shifted, watching Hope as she came in the St. Paul Street door. For a moment the light framed around her, caught at the ends of her hair.

She took a man’s breath away, he though. It just wasn’t right.

“Is that so?”

“It is. Her name was Penelope, and she has a taste for Azteca de Oro. She had a thimbleful every night, and died at the age of twenty-two. The cat who wouldn’t die.”

“D.A. likes toilet water.”

“Yes, I’m aware.” She walked over, set the pie dish on the plywood. “Payment in full.”

She’d done the fancy latticework for the top crust, he noted. He stuck a finger in a space between, ignoring her appalled, “Don’t! Oh, really.” Scooping some out, he sampled.

It hit that perfect note between tart and sweet. He should’ve figured it. “It’s good.”

“It would be even better on a plate, with a fork.”

“Maybe. I’ll try that out later.”

“Don’t,” she repeated, and this time slapped his hand. Reaching in her pocket, she took out a Milk Bone for the dog. “He may drink out of the toilet, but by and large he has better manners than you do.” She gave D.A.’s head a pat. She hesitated. “It was nice of you to tell Avery I was upset yesterday.”

“You’d moved out of pissed off to broody. I figure that’s girl territory.”

Yes, she thought, more insightful than she’d given him credit for. And kinder.

“Close enough. I should get back. We don’t have any guests tonight, so she and Clare are coming over.”

“I got the bulletin.” He got up, hefted the pie. “I’m going for a beer.”

“I got that bulletin.” She stepped out, and since it seemed polite, waited for him to lock up. “What color are you going to paint this place?”

“Something else.”

“Already an improvement. Your mother’s talking about a slatey blue, chrome accents, white trim, gray stone work along the base.”

“That’s her deal.”

“She’s good at it.”

He put the dog in the cab, windows half down and—knowing D.A.—set the pie in the bed of the truck.

“Well,” she began, “have a—“

She didn’t manage more as he yanked her against him, lifted her up to her toes, and swooped in for a kiss that shot the rest of the words out of the top of her head. She managed to grab his waist for balance though she couldn’t have fallen if the earth had quaked, not with his hands fisted—one in her hair, one on the back of her shirt.

Heat rocketed down her arms, up her legs, into her center, sharp as lighting bolts. Then her hands slid up his back, gripped his shirt in turn as she rode that lightning.

She didn’t pull back, didn’t gasp in shock or protest. He’d have released her if she had. But he was tired of looking the other way, or trying to. Ignoring her—or trying to. She’d stirred it up. He could give himself that excuse. In the Penthouse, then again here in the damn parking lot.

He’d had samples. Now he wanted a good, healthy bite.

Princess in Love by Julianne Maclean

Princess in Love (The Royal Trilogy, #2)


ORDER A COPY: Princess in Love

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperback
Publishing Date: October 30, 2012
Paperback: 352 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Leopold Hunt, Marquess of Cavanaugh, is a secret Royalist with a distant hereditary claim to the throne. He has been groomed to one day overthrow the king and rebuild his family’s dynasty. Only one thing stands in his way: the king’s daughter, Rose.

Princess Rose has loved the marquess her entire life, but she is about to enter a political marriage—one that promises to help keep her father in power. There is virtually no way for Rose to escape her fate…yet she cannot resist the unstoppable passion she feels in the arms of the handsome and charming marquess. When a dangerous plot unfolds and puts their love to the ultimate test—Leopold must make a desperate choice: To honor his family or follow his heart.


This is the second book in Julianne Maclean’s Royal Trilogy, which features the youngest royal, Princess Rose. In this story, Leopold Hunt, Marquess of Cavanaugh, shows us that an omission is as good as a lie and it can cost you everything you hold dear.

Rose’s father, a great soldier, was put on the throne after a revolution overthrew the prior King. He has ruled for over twenty years and has raised his son, Randolph, to succeed him. Leopold’s father is a firm royalist and has been waiting these 20 years to dethrone the King, and put his own son, Leopold, a distant but true royal descendent, on the throne.

When Rose met Leopold two years ago, she was certain their mutual admiration would lead to a proposal of marriage. She all but had her wedding dress picked out, when she was pushed aside by Leo and she learned a painful lesson about love. What Leopold had neglected to mention during their time together was that he has been secretly engaged to the last living child of the former king, Princess Alexandra Tremaine, and their marriage would further support Leo’s claim to the throne. The same Princess Alexandra who was now going to marry Rose’s own brother, Randolph.

Leopold has spent some time away from his father, and after returning from the Napoleonic wars as a hero, Leo has begun to realize that not only does he not share his father’s ambitions to rule the country, he truly admires the King and Prince Randolph. A chance meeting throws Rose and Leopold together again and with his betrothal broken, he wants to pursue a love with Rose. But Leopold has forgotten to mention his royalist father and his secret plot to dethrone Rose’s father.

But even the darkest secrets manage to find their way into the light and when a plot is discovered to kill the King and fingers point to the royalists, Leopold’s past and secret plots start to crumble the foundations of his new love affair with Rose. It is too late to confess his change to heart so now the truth sounds like a lie.

Can love survive when lies, ambition and power come into play? Can you sift out the truth from the lies when there is a crown to be won? Leopold believed he could just walk away cleanly from a lifetime of plotting but will the mark of betrayal be too much for new love to survive?

THOUGHTS:

I really liked this book, Julianne Maclean has a nice writing style, but I didn’t absolutely love this story plot. Pathetic that I am, some stories stress me out especially when you can see the lies that are going to bite the character in the butt. The bigger the lies, the bigger the bite, the more stressed I get. (I am so sad.)

I knew that the happier Leo and Rose became the worse the betrayal was going to be. Instead of enjoying the romance, I was cringing waiting for it all to go wrong.

The first thing I would recommend to you is to skip the Prologue. When the premise of the book includes two people both with an interest in a same crown, you know that they are going to face big issues. I thought the prologue gave too much of what was going to happen so I spent my time waiting for the book to catch up to the prologue and it cast a shadow over the whole story. Start with Chapter 1, the prologue is repeated in the story.

It was a wonderful story. The storyline was more creative than the usual regency fare. Just skip that prologue.

Received ARC from the author. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

In the very next instant, he sat back. “You never fail to astonish me.”

“How so?”

He frowned. “I’ve never met a woman who speaks as candidly as you. You don’t mince words. You say what you think.”

She scoffed. “No, I assure you, Leopold, I do not. If I said what I really thought, you would be a great deal more than astonished.”

His eyes smiled with admiration, and he leaned forward again. “I am sure you are quite right about that, but let us travel back a bit. I certainly don’t think you adore me. Quite to the contrary, I believe you are very unhappy with me, and I cannot blame you. What happened between us two years ago was…it was…”

He paused, and she clenched her teeth in anger. For the love of God, she couldn’t stomach any more of this unnecessary degradation.

Raising a hand and shaking her head, she said, “Please, Leopold. There is no need for us to discuss it. It was a long time ago, and I’m completely over it. I am very happy now. I no longer wish that you would become the man I once wished you to be.”

He regarded her with shrewd eyes “Now there is an artful insult if I ever heard one.”

“Not at all,” she helpfully replied. “You are who you are, and two years ago, I was simply mistaken in my impression of you.” She waived a dismissing hand through the air. “I was very young.”

He chuckled. “You were twenty. And what was your impression of me, exactly?”

He appeared quite genuinely curious.

Rose paused. If she were being honest, she would tell him she believed him to be the most handsome, fascinating, and intelligent man she’d ever imagined could exist, and that they were destined to be together, and that she wanted him to father her children—at least a half-dozen of them.

But that romantic first impression had died a swift death when she showed her true feelings and he blatantly rejected her. For that reason, he did not deserve to hear such praise.

“I thought you were very charming.” She simply said.

“There’s that word again.” He shook his head and waved a finger, as if he knew she was holding back and would have none of it.

She let out a frustrated breath. “What do you want me to say? That I fancied myself in love with you? That I thought you might feel the same way, and I was heartbroken when I realized it meant nothing to you? Or that I still dream of a proposal from you?”

His lips parted, and he was about to answer the question when the dowager snorted and startled awake.

“Oh, I do beg your pardon,” she said, sitting up. “Was I sleeping? Are we almost there?”

Leopold inclined his head at Rose, as if to say, We are not done here.

Jane Eyre Laid Bare by C. Bronte and Eve Sinclair

Jane Eyre Laid Bare: The Classic Novel with an Erotic Twist


ORDER A COPY: Jane Eyre Laid Bare

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publishing Date: October 30, 2012
Paperback: 336 pages

Rating: 2 stars


Everyone is familiar with Charlotte Brontë’s passionate, but restrained novel in which the plain, yet spirited governess Jane Eyre falls for the arrogant Mr. Rochester. It’s a novel that simmers with sexual tension but never quite reaches the boiling point. Which is to be expected. After all, the original was written in 1847. That was then. This is now. And in JANE EYRE LAID BARE, author Eve Sinclair writes between the lines to chart the smoldering sexual chemistry between the long-suffering governess and her brooding employer.

When an eager and curious Jane Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall her sexual desires are awakened. Who is the enigmatic Rochester and why is she attracted to him? What are the strange, yet captivating noises coming from the attic, and why does the very air she breathes feel heavy with passion? Only one thing is certain. Jane Eyre may have arrived at Thornfield an unfulfilled and tentative woman, but she will leave a very different person.


This review is for those who are already very familiar with the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. If you have never read Jane Eyre, do yourself a favor and stop right here and go pick up a copy of Jane Eyre. This is not the book you want to start with.

I love the story of Jane Eyre. It is a very passionate story even the way it is written. My favorite production of it was the BBC presentation starting Timothy Dalton. You should have seen the happy dance I did in the store when I finally found that on DVD.

I was intrigued when I found a copy of this novel being offered on netgalley.com and I just couldn’t resist. I had just read the UStarNovels version of Pride and Prejudice and Debauchery (which I will be discussing with you next week, but in short…it was well done). Jane Eyre was a more passionate story, so my hope was that by loosening up Jane’s Quakerish corset, we could ramp up Bronte’s already passion filled story.

The only thing I ask when I read these types of modified novels is that although our innocent heroines are now getting down and dirty, that the modification makes sense and it doesn’t go against their known character. Jane having sexual dreams or fantasies or even being seduced by Mr. Rochester makes sense. If she gave the carriage driver oral sex for a smooth ride, does not (no, she doesn’t).

Pluses:
As far as pluses to the story, when Jane saves Mr. Rochester from his burning bed, that scene needed a kiss, and finally got one. YES!

Also, once Jane declares that she will marry Mr. Rochester, there is no waiting for the bridal march. They spend their evenings together playing parlor games. Which if you want to add sexy without stripping the characters of their basic character, this is a perfect and naturally flowing decision.

Also to add sex without sullying our heroine (too much), there is a scene where she peeps on two of the servants and a few fantasies involving Mr. Rochester. Again, it adds sexy without ruining Jane’s character. But it does lead to Jane enjoying some “alone time” which she does in overabundance. Too much information.

Plus, the book does start where Jane is riding to Thornfield Hall and we also skip the returning to Mrs. Reed’s house. So boring parts that do not involve Jane and Rochester are gone. Yeah!

Minuses:
The story abruptly ends when Jane leaves Rochester after the aborted wedding scene. She leaves, hops in a carriage and The End. What?? You get us that far and you end it early?? My feeling is if you didn’t want to re-write the scene with the cousins and the ending, you should have just let the now thoroughly debauched Jane go off with Rochester after all and start a new life. Disappointing!

Although the story starts when Jane comes to Thornfield, she has several flashbacks to her time at Lowood School. It appears that Jane’s time at Lowood included more girl on girl action than a Girls Gone Wild video. So much, it was way too much.

When Mr. Rochester brings his guests to Thornfield, the book went from a regency romance to a Roman orgy, including Mr. Rochester sleeping with Ms. Ingram. Rochester brought Ms. Ingram for a visit to make Jane jealous and since Jane is left out of these episodes of Caligula, Rochester having sex with Blanche Ingram goes against his character. I call foul!

The paintings throughout the house depicting naked people having sex would probably be tasteless in a brothel, let alone a fine house. This was not necessary and inappropriate.

Thoughts:

This story is a definite pass whether or not you are a fan of Jane Eyre.

Received ARC from netgalley.com courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

“Good-night, then, sir,” I said, departing.

He seemed surprised – very inconsistently so, as he had just told me to go.

“What!” he exclaimed, stepping toward me, “Are you quitting me already, and in that way?”

“You said I might go, sir.”

“But not without taking leave. Not without a word or two of acknowledgment and good-will. Not, in short, in that brief, dry fashion. Why, you have saved my life! Snatched me from a horrible and excruciating death! And you walk past me as if we were mutual strangers! At least shake hands.”

He had out his hand. I gave him mine. He took it first in one, then in both his own. Then, to my astonishment, he kissed my fingertips. A ripple of desire seemed to run from the place where his lips had made contact with my flesh, right through me.

“You have saved my life, Jane. I have a pleasure in owing you so immense a debt. I cannot say more.”

He paused, gazed at me and I was drawn in, magnetized by his eyes.

“Good-night again, sir,” I said, but my voice was no more than a whisper. “You do not owe me a debt.”

“I knew,” he continued, holding my palm now against his lips, “you would do me good in some way, at some time. I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you. Their expression and smile did not, “ again he stopped, closing in, “Did not strike delight to my very inmost heart so for nothing.”

I felt the great overcoat he had given me slide from my shoulders to the floor, but I did not feel the loss of heat, because my whole body seemed flushed with a new kind of warmth.

“I have heard of good genii and I believe there are grains of truth in the wildest fable, for you are mine. My cherished preserver.”

Strange energy was in his voice, strange fire in his look.

You are mine. His words swept into my heart, like the luxurious chord of a harp, but my reason dampened the music. ‘He cannot meant it.’ I thought.

“I am glad I happened to be awake.” I said, but my knees were trembling and weak. Closer and closer, his eyes drew me in.

Fear overtook me then. Not fear of him, but fear of myself, of the inner life I’d held privately for so long, my desire, my carnal longings, all threatening to rise to the surface and engulf me.

I quickly turned to go. I could not trust myself to stay. I would not trust myself to stare into his eyes and what they suggested.

“What? You will go?” he said, reaching out and drawing me back to him.

“I am cold, sir,” I lied.

“Cold? Yes and standing in a pool! Go then, Jane, go!”

His voice sounded as if he meant it, but he still retained my hand, and I could not free it. I looked from his grip to his eyes. They burned even brighter now.

And then he was gently pulling me towards him, as if he still expected me to take flight. In the soft, dim light of the candle, his face filled my vision.

“You cannot leave me like this,” he breathed.

I was trembling uncontrollably, but I could not pull away.

He stared down at me, drawing me further toward his warm embrace. Closer, closer he came, daring me to buckle and move away, but I as hopelessly, blissfully trapped and borne away on those dark seas I had glimpsed in his eyes for so long, leaving the shores of everything I knew to be right to sail into this un-chartered water.

Then his arms were around me and then, even before the soft gasp could leave my mouth, his lips were on mine. The simple fusion, in the split second after it had happened, seemed so obvious, that surely been destined all along. Quiet, tentative, we stood together suspended in a golden sacred moment. I knew then that I had the choice, that even now it wasn’t too late. I could break away, I could still step back onto the shore.

But I couldn’t. There was not enough reason left within me or willpower to resist him. My whole being only wanted this moment to go on and on and I surrendered to it, melting against him. Then, with a low, delicious groan, he seemed to let something go too, the sound of his surrender igniting something within me as surely as the room itself had been aflame earlier.

Oracle’s Moon by Thea Harrison

Oracle's Moon (Elder Races, #4)


ORDER A COPY: Oracle’s Moon

Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publishing Date: March 6, 2012
Paperback: 313 pages

Rating: 5 stars


He will watch over her…An untested young woman must claim her place as the Oracle—and contend with a powerful Djinn who has decided to become a part of her life…

As a second daughter, Grace Andreas never had to worry about the intrigues of the Elder Races. But when her sister, Petra, and Petra’s husband are both killed, Grace inherits the Power and responsibilities of the Oracle of Louisville, as well as her sister’s two young children—neither of which she is prepared for.

Yet, she is not alone. Khalil, Demonkind and Djinn prince of House Marid—driven by his genuine caring for the children—has decided to make himself a part of the household both as their guardian and as an exasperating counterpoint to Grace’s impudence toward the Elder Races.

But when an attempt is made on Grace’s life, she realizes that Khalil is the only one who can protect her—and offer her more than a mortal man.


The Andreas family has had the honor of being the Oracle for centuries, with this gift being passed down from female to female from generation to generation. Grace Andreas never wanted the honor of being the Oracle, but she knew when she woke up in the hospital after that horrific car accident, that her older sister must be dead. Grace could feel the power of the Oracle stirring within her now.

Not only had the car accident taken her sister and brother-in-law, it has taken Grace’s freedom. You see, not only had she inherited the power of the Oracle, but she was now responsible for the care of her orphaned niece and nephew, and Oracle or not, diapers need to be changed and laundry needs to be washed.

Grace tries not to let it all get to her. Her niece and nephew are such wonderful children. It’s just that she has no money, the bills are piling up, the roof is falling in, her knee was badly damaged in the car accident and now all manner of Elder Races creatures keep showing up at her doorstep, including this pompous, bossy Djinn named Khalil…um, something important…who has become the bane of her existence.

When some of the most dangerous and powerful of the Elder Races start knocking on her door, especially when the dragon himself, Dragos Cuelebre, lands his plane-sized dragon butt on her front lawn, she knows that she needs help to protect herself and the children, because if these powerful creatures decide to ignore the code of Sanctuary, there will be nothing she, a mere mortal, can do. Maybe it’s time to strike a bargain with the bane of her existence, as long as he’s gonna hang around anyway.

But she’ll have to be careful, since there is nothing a Djinn likes better than striking a bargain.

THOUGHTS:

I love, love, love this series! I love Thea’s writing style and I absolutely love her characters.

I enjoyed that in this story her characters stayed “in character” throughout the story and although they grew an emotional attachment to each other, fundamentally they stayed the same. Khalil is a Djinn and has little contact with humans over his centuries, but he quickly becomes protective of Grace’s children, and as their caregiver to Grace herself. Even when he sits and reads to the children, there is a formality to him that doesn’t change. Although you can see an inner change to his thinking and his feelings towards Grace, those feelings don’t change his character.

I also loved that although Grace’s knee has been badly injured in the accident which took her sister’s life, it is presented that it is too late in the healing process for Khalil to use magic to heal her. Although it sucks for her that she will always have this injury, I like that Thea doesn’t have Khalil sweep in and magically make everything better for her. He doesn’t magically heal her. She is poor but he doesn’t take over her life and give her money or magically make repairs that need to be made, etc. This type of control and charity would have rubbed Grace the wrong way and would have kept them from being able to build a relationship. He protects her and the children from danger and helps her in other ways, but the only controlling he tries to force over her is for Grace to call him when she or the children are in danger. He doesn’t come in and try to take over their lives.

This was a very “love me as I am” story and I really enjoyed it.

My only disappointment stems from the fact that the Djinn are a creature of energy and can draw their energies together to resemble a human form. If they are powerful enough, they can also use their power and magic to create a more human-type body or to actually create a full human body and become mortal. When Khalil takes Grace on a date, he decides he wants to create a body and actually experience what human touch would be like. When Grace touches Khalil’s arm, he is overwhelmed by the experience of just this simple touch. This was such an interesting concept and so fascinating to me, and I was disappointed that when we finally got to the “good stuff” it was a short scene. I would have liked it drawn out a bit longer so we could enjoy watching him experience simple touches and build that up more to a crescendo.


Favorite Scene:

Grace headed in desperation for the coffee maker. Apparently, it was going to be one of those mornings. Funny how often those happen after a short night’s sleep. She set the machine to brew an extra strong pot, because these days caffeine was her best friend. The coffee maker sat on the worn countertop beside the kitchen window. As she switched on the machine, the sunny morning darkened. She leaned over the counter to check out the sky. The sky was blue, dotted with fluffy cumulous clouds and directly overhead a huge portion of it rippled. Wow. Was that wrong. Before she could do more than stare, the rippling mass of nothingness descended onto the wide, neglected lawn, and for the second time in as many days, a dragon appeared on her property. Not a dragon—The Dragon–Dragos Cuelebre, the only known dragon in existence. Cuelebre was easily the size of a private jet. He was a deep bronze color that gleamed in the early sunlight. The bronze darkened to black at the ends of his gigantic wings, tail and long, powerful legs. He turned an enormous triangular, horned head to look around the clearing with fierce metallic gold eyes before he shimmered into a shape-shift. His form shrank into that of a massive man, almost seven feet tall in height with bronze colored skin, inky black hair and gold dragon’s eyes.

She had to stop getting kicked in the head like this. She had to. She looked at the brewing coffee with equal parts panic and despair. Then she looked at Chloe and Max. Chloe was tearfully muttering to the last of the banana in her hand. Max kicked a tiny plump foot as he licked his fingers. Grace’s appalled gaze traveled back to the scene outside the window where Cuelebre stood in the direction of the front of the house. He had a brutal handsomeness, as though he had be hewn out of granite, and to her mind’s eye, the air around him boiled with the force of his presence. Violence is forbidden here. She has said that to Cuelebre just yesterday morning when he had come to confront Rune and Carling and eventually the Elder Tribunal as well. Cuelebre’s mate had accompanied him yesterday, but this morning the dragon was alone. He was more frightening when he was alone.

“People can be taken from this place,” Dragos had said, “and violence done to them elsewhere.”

Grace started to shake. She fumbled with the thread of connection to Khalil and pulled on it. She sensed him streaking toward them. His bright power arching like a shooting comet. Then he filled the kitchen with his presence as his form coalesced beside her. Max crowed in surprise.

Chloe said, “Hello there, doggy-cat. Would you like a bite of my banana?”

Grace turned to face Khalil. He had looked powerful and exotic last night, ivory and crimson, and gleaming raven-black hair. In the full light of morning, he appeared more alien than ever. He wore undyed linen this time and his ivory skin was poreless. Those piercing diamond eyes focused on her. Then he glanced sharply around the cheerful domestic scene. He gripped her shoulder in one huge hand. “What is it?”

A sharp knock at the same time. Dry mouthed, she whispered to Khalil, “Would you mind answering that please?”

His hard, elegant face turned toward the front of the house. Then he vanished. She felt him streak toward the front door. Grace looked at Chloe who assumed a pious expression and she held up the last of her fruit. Chloe said, “I was only trying to share.”

Grace leaned back against the counter and slid to the floor. Her bad knee protested so she stretched out her leg. She leaned an elbow on her other upraised knee and rested her head on the heel of that hand. Her blood pounded through her body in great sledge hammer thuds. She felt it throbbing in her eyes, at her temples. Male voices sounded in the background, but her heartbeat pounded too loudly in her ears for her to make out what Khalil and the Dragon said to each other. I can’t do this, she thought. Oh, Petra, you were the one who always wanted to be the Oracle. I never wanted this. I was never supposed to be this. I’m not big enough, strong enough or smart enough to be the Oracle. It’s too much.–Woman up, Gracie! Take responsibility! Do your job! You never have accepted this. You grew up hoping you would never have to be the Oracle and you’ve been kicking against it from the moment you knew your big sister was dead. Like the accident it just happened to you. If you can’t take this on for the people like Rune and Carling, who might need the Oracle’s help, do it for the children, and make sure you live a good, long life while you’re at it so Chloe can have the same kind of happy, carefree childhood you had.

Feeling twice as clumsy as usual, Grace grabbed hold of the counter and used it to haul herself to her feet, balancing all of her weight on her good leg. She hurried toward the front of the house. Tension and antagonism crackled in the air like thunder and lightening. Khalil stood in front of the screen door, arms crossed and expression stony. On the other side of the flimsy barrier an angry dragon towered in human form.

“I see we’re not gettin’ along.” Grace said breathlessly as she came up beside Khalil. She put a hand on Khalil’s bicep and said telepathically, “Thank you.”

He threw her a disgusted glance. Hilarity bubbled up. Oh, yes, that’s right. He didn’t like to be thanked. Well, that was his problem. She kept her hand on Khalil’s arm and turned to the Lord of the Wyr.

“Good morning. What can I do for you? Can I help you quickly or did you want to consult with the Oracle. I’m in the middle of feeding two children so if you want a consultation, it’ll have to wait until after breakfast.”

The Dragon’s hot-gold gaze shifted from Khalil to her and she felt the impact to her bones.

“Interesting,” said Cuelebre. “How did you get a prince of the House Marid to answer your door like a servant?”

“Do not answer that.” Khalil said between his teeth. “It is none of his business.”

Grace had, in fact, been about to answer Cuelebre’s question. Her mouth hung open for a moment before she shut it with a snap. According to the database article she had read, the House Marid was the most powerful of all the Houses of Djinn. So Khalil was a prince? The article hadn’t mentioned anything about royalty. Just that the Houses used consensus in decision making. She filed the observation under, Irrelevant at the moment, interesting enough to pursue at a later time.

“Hungry kids.” She said to Cuelebre. “Tick-tock.” This was the second domain ruler that she had been rude to in as many days. Clearly she was on a roll. She had just five more domain rulers in the United States to go. Give her ‘til the end of the month and she would have plenty of time to piss off everybody.

Free eBooks – Try a new author!


Darkness Awakened (Order of the Blade: Primal Heat Trilogy, #1)

Darkness Awakened (Order of the Blade #1)

The Calydons are a race of ancient immortals cursed with a dark side. Each Calydon is destined to meet his soul mate, to be so drawn to her that he is unable to resist bonding with her through the rituals of his race, but their destiny is to destroy each other and all they care about the moment their bond is complete.

Quinn Masters will stop at nothing to rescue his rogue teammate. To save his blood brother and ensure his brand of justice triumphs, Quinn will break every rule of his kind and partner with the sensuous, courageous woman destined to be his ultimate destruction.

Haunted by a brutal past, Illusionist Grace Matthews will risk everything to save her kidnapped sister, including putting her life in the sinfully capable hands of an immortal warrior whose ravaging kisses and intense passion propel her ruthlessly toward a fateful destiny she can’t afford to believe in.


Forbidden by Jacquelyn Frank

Forbidden (The World of Nightwalkers, #1)


ORDER A COPY: Forbidden

Publisher: Ballentine Books
Publishing Date: October 30, 2012
Paperback: 384 pages

Rating: 3 stars


The unexpected happens in an instant. On her way to work, secretary Docia Waverley hurtles into a crashing crossroads, and she quickly begins to suspect that things will never be the same. Then, when a tall, blond, muscular stranger intervenes on her behalf, telling her it is his duty to protect her at all cost, what is just a feeling turns to proof positive. That is, as long as Docia’s savior doesn’t turn out to be a crazed kidnapper.

When Ram finds Docia, he has no doubt that she is his queen. But as this golden warrior sweeps in to protect her, he feels something more than body heat every time they touch. He is overwhelmed by a searing connection that goes deep into the twin souls inside him. A desire rises in him that is forbidden—this woman is his queen, the mate of his king, his leader, his best friend. And yet Docia is so vulnerable and attractive that she awakens a hunger in Ram that is undeniable, a carnal craving he cannot yield to . . . not without risking the very survival of the Bodywalkers.


In her new spinoff series, Jacquelyn Frank builds us a new World of Nightwalkers. These new Nightwalkers include Gargoyles, Djynn, Night Angels, and in this first story, she gives us Bodywalkers. When the ancient Egyptians were worshiping their Gods and practicing their art of preparing the dead for life eternal in the afterworld, they did not realize that this grab for eternal life would anger the God, Ra, and as a punishment, they would be eternally barred from heaven and their mummified bodies would tether them to the mortal world. Every time they die, they are returned to the Ether, a type of limbo, where they would wait until they were strong enough to Bodywalk again.

At that moment between life and death, the Bodywalkers could intercept a soul and offer that person a chance to live but in return they would need to share their body with the soul of a Bodywalker. Once taking a Bodywalker into their body, their lives would change dramatically including an ability to heal and an almost immortal existence. But the Sun God has not only denied them heaven, he has denied them the ability to walk in the sun, making them forever Nightwalkers.

It is easy to find a newly returned Bodywalker. All you need to do it watch the news and wait for a story of a miraculous tale of survival. This is usually a person, “an original,” who has cheated death and is now Blended with a Bodywalker.

Ram, more commonly known as Ramses the Second, Blended with his original, Vincent, about 30 years ago. Since then he has been waiting. He knows that the time for the return of the Queen is soon upon them and he has been sent to the small town of Saugerties, NY to await her arrival. He knows at once when he hears the tale of survival of The Bridge Girl who was pushed from the bridge into the freezing Hudson River, declared dead and miraculously resuscitated. He know that this Docia Waverly is now the original for the Queen, Hatshepsut, and it is Ram’s job to protect her until the King Menes returns from the Ether. For the first time in all the centuries Ram has protected the Queen, he now finds his attraction to her original too much to resist but he can’t determine which is worse—denying this attraction or betraying his King.

THOUGHTS:

I get a little put off on reincarnations stories. I always feel cheated with a “who do you really love” feeling. This story also left me with a bit of the same feeling. Ram presumes that it is the bodywalker in Docia that he loves (seeming to forget that Docia and/or Vincent might have something to do with the feelings of attraction). I want to be there in 100 years after they come out the Ether again to look at each other lovingly and go “Hmmm, I guess I really loved Docia/Vincent, not you. Now they’re dead. This sucks!”

Although I am not 100 percent sold on these bodywalkers, I was very quite intrigued with the set up for the next story and I definitely have to read it.

This new series not only contains some interesting new characters, but one of the most outrageous scenes in a paranormal series has to be when Vincent (the original) is jealous of Docia’s feelings for Ram and he wants to be the one to seduce her. (See below.)

Jacquelyn Frank has taken the opportunity to branch off from her very popular Nightwalker series, giving us the chance to enjoy a surprising new group of supernaturals, and the sky’s the limit where she will take us now in the new World of the Nightwalkers.

Received an ARC from netgalley.com courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

”You’re supposed to be protecting me, not manhandling me!” she whispered fiercely.

“Oh, but you’ll let Ram manhandle you until the cows come home,” he growled as he closed in on her.

“Do you even hear what you’re saying? You’re the same person, you space cadet!”

The phrase gave them both pause. Yeah, she had to admit, that was a fairly decrepit choice, even for her.

“Not according to you,” he said through his teeth, just as she backed herself into an inescapable corner of the living room. His hands slammed against the wood walls on either side of her shoulders, and then there was the rapid follow-up of his strong body leaning along hers, blocking her from moving. “According to you, there’s all kinds of different.”

“Would you just let it go? In a few more hours none of this is going to matter. A few more days and neither of us will be who we are right now. So what does anything I say or do matter?”

She had grown increasingly agitated with every word, with every statement. She wanted to blame it on him and the way he was harassing her, the infuriating way he was pressing at her, but even she knew it went beyond that.

Vincent settled back a little…calmed, it seemed, as he cocked his head and studied her briefly. Then his right hand came away from the wall and he took her chin, tipping it up until she was looking straight into the golden eyes she would have preferred to avoid.

“Docia, are you afraid of disappearing?” he asked her quietly.

There was no need to define what he was talking about. She knew what he meant, just as he knew what she meant by her remarks. She nodded into the touch of his fingers, loosening their grip on her a little.

“Don’t you disappear when Ram is there?”

It wasn’t an unfair question. Nor was it based on inaccurate observations, he thought with a frown. But she had it wrong. Just as his frantic behavior to delineate himself outside of Ram was wrong.

“No,” he said softly, touching her forehead and the contours along the side of her face. “It’s as true a symbiosis as you can ever imagine,” he promised her. “Ram would falter without me, just as I’m faltering and fucking up without him. Selena knew that. That’s why she did this to us.” And by “us” he clearly meant Ram and himself. “Ram knows things, amazing things, and thinks in ways far beyond what I knew on my own. And Ram doesn’t know half the modern fighting techniques that I do, nor does he have a head for computers and electronics. But together we know it all. And together we make up for each other’s weaknesses in other ways. For instance, when I was just Vincent, it was all about winning, no matter who go trampled in the process.” He sighed. “I don’t want to trample you, Docia.”

“Y-you confuse me,” she stammered, the warm nut brown of her eyes tugging at him in peculiar ways, making him feel guilty when he didn’t want to…when he rightly deserved to.

Free Prequel from Entangled Publishing

The Lola Cruz Christmas Story

More interesting things for a friday. I just got an e-mail from Entangled Publishing offering a free prequel copy of the Lola Cruz Mystery series. Download it for free and see if you like these characters. There are two other books out now in the series. Some additional information below. I got my copy. You know never where you find your next favorite author.

B&N Nook or Amazon Kindle

Living the Vida Lola introduced readers to Dolores ‘Lola’ Cruz, Latina PI. “I like to say that Lola is my alter ego–if I were a sexy, clever, Latina private investigator,” says the series author, Melissa Bourbon Ramirez.

Hasta la Vista, Lola! came next, followed by Bare-Naked Lola ($4.99 eBook), which came out this past May. Bare-Naked Lola takes Lola to a professional basketball dance team, and then to a nudist resort. Picture Lucy and Ethel type antics, dashing behind bushes and strategic towels and you’ll understand where Lola stands on the whole nudist lifestyle. It’s a lot of fun, and a good mystery, too.

But sometimes people don’t want to jump into a series midway in (even though you totally can with Lola–each story is a stand alone story), so Melissa wrote a holiday short story which is a prequel to the series and allows readers to get a taste of Lola in a mini-dose. Just the perfect length for a holiday read when everyone is short on time, also. The Lola Cruz Christmas Story is our gift to readers. It’s a free download from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and ITunes, so will work on any eReader!

If you haven’t tried any of the Lola Cruz Mysteries and want to see if Lola is for you (hey, Jennifer Lopez’s production company gave it three reads in consideration for a TV series, so that’s a good endorsement!), try the free holiday story! We don’t think you’ll be sorry :)

I’m spending the weekend being debauched by Mr. Darcy….what you are you doing?

Pride and Prejudice and Debauchery, a Personalized Romance Novel

          I have evicted that Elizabeth bimbo from Pride and Prejudice and I have taken her place this weekend for a wicked time at Netherfield.

          I was contacted by the people at UStarNovels about doing a holiday promotion and they have generously offered me an e-book to review.  After reviewing their library of classic novels and some racier titles, I decided what women doesn’t want to be seduced by Mr. Darcy.  (*he,he,he* I’m in there.)

          I gave a friend a personalized vampire story for her 30th birthday and she was thrilled.  I think this will be a great holiday gift for your favorite reader.

          I’ll be back with more information sometime in early November so that you’ll have plenty of time to get in your orders if you prefer print books instead of an eBook.

         That is unless Mr. Darcy whisks me away to Pemberly for more debauchery… :)

         UStarNovels has also offered us a giveaway and a discount code for our website. Yay!  More on that later, but if you can’t wait to check it out, click the link below for more information.

UStarNovels

Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh

Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter, #1)


ORDER A COPY:  Angels’ Blood (Guild Hunter, Book 1)

Publisher: Berkley
Publishing Date: March 9, 2009
Paperback: 339 pages

Rating:  4 stars


Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best- but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows failure is not an option—even if the task is impossible.

Because this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.

The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just might. For when archangels play, mortals break


Elena Deveroe is a vampire hunter. She hunts down rogue vampires and returns them to their Angel masters.

Elena is Hunter-Born. She can track a vampire by smell, and she always completes her job. Her latest assignment has her terrified, and not because of a rogue vampire. She is to go to Archangel Tower and meet with the Archangel Raphael. Elena knows that you don’t want to be on an Archangel’s radar. Something like that can get you killed. And why would an Archangel need her to track down a rogue vampire? He has an army of angels and ancient vampires who could easily track someone down.

Raphael doesn’t need Elena to find a vampire. He needs her talents to help him find another Archangel. An Archangel who is ancient and powerful and who is now suffering from a virus that is going to drive him mad, and once that happens, the death tolls could be astronomical.

Elena might have more strength and abilities a regular human, but she is no match for an Angel, let alone an Archangel of Raphael’s power. But that doesn’t mean she will let him walk all over her or allow him to use her as a new toy to play with, except no one says No to Raphael.

As Raphael’s interest in Elena becomes obsessive, his closest protectors, his Seven, might just kill her to protect Raphael from himself, and if they don’t get her, the Archangel Micheala might since she wants Raphael for herself.

With vampires, angels, and Archangels all wanting her head on a platter, and Raphael wanting to get into her pants, Elena is pretty sure she won’t be surviving this mission in one piece.

THOUGHTS:
This is all part of my Catch Up by Audiobook experiment which is working very well.

Because I read Archangel’s Storm first, I had some hints of things that happened in the prior four novels. This didn’t effect my overall enjoyment of the story, but the ending wasn’t a surprise.

I will again say, just like with Archangel’s Storm, these are not your halo wearing Angels. These Angels have all the same flaws as humans, anger, jealously, fear…but they have be around longer to perfect them. That makes these books a bit dark. Raphael hires Elena to track the Archangel who has gone mad and started killing. He doesn’t give her an option to say No, but then he treats her very disrespectfully even when he decides he might be interested enough to have sex with her and then he really puts on the pressure. Yes, he is an Archangel, and she is only human, so he believes she is so unimportant. But why he expects her to fall into his bed when he calls her a toy and treats her so horribly.

On top of this his Seven, which are his closest group of angels and vampires, are all threatening to kill her as soon as Raphael gives the go ahead because she is distracting Raphael and they all indicate how much they are going to enjoy it. If that’s not enough, there is a jealous Archangel who wants Raphael as her lover and she wants to kill Elena too. To the point that Elena snaps with a “get in line.”

I enjoyed it but was a little put off by how badly they all treat Elena, someone they called to help them because of her enhanced-human skills. I was also put off by Elena’s relationship with her father who a rich bastard who threw her out into the street when she wanted to be a Guild Hunter but yet she comes running every time he calls. Dysfunctional!!


Favorite Scene:

She closed the phone before he could say anything else, and looked up into eyes so blue they shouldn’t have been possible. “Michaela really wants me dead.”

Raphael’s expression remained unchanged. “I don’t let anyone break my toys.”

It should’ve pissed her off, but she smiled, “Wow, I feel all mushy inside.”

“Who were you speaking with?”

“Possessive much?”

He cupped her cheek, his hand wet, his hold uncompromising. “I don’t share my toys either.”

“Watch it,” she murmured, twisting in her seat until her feet touched the sodden earth outside. “I might decide to be irritated.”

Raphael rubbed his thumb over her lower lip. “I see nightmares in your eyes again.”

“And I see sex in yours.”

He rose, tugging her out of the car and trapping her with her back to the opening. Behind him, his wings flared out, gleaming with rain wetness. There was an edge to that sensual mouth. A touch of savagery in the way it curved.

Elena leaned forward and put her arms around his neck, letting herself luxuriate in the sheer strength of him. Today, she was going to break all the rules. Forget about sleeping with a vamp, she was going straight to the top and to hell with it. “So, how does an archangel do it?”

A gust of wind buffeted them, stealing away her words. But Raphael had heard. Leaning in, he brushed his lips over hers. “I haven’t agreed yet.”

She blinked. Then scowled as he drew back. “What, you’re playing hard to get now?”

The Forbidden Lady (formerly For Love or Country) by Kerrelyn Sparks

The Forbidden Lady


ORDER A COPY:  The Forbidden Lady: (Originally published under the title FOR LOVE OR COUNTRY)

Publisher: Avon Impulse
Re-release Date: September 25, 2012
ebook: 248 pages

Rating:  4 stars


Virginia Munro could not believe her ears. This bewigged, bejeweled, and bedeviling man was trying to buy her? As if she were some trollop on the Boston docks?

Before she’s fully able to give in to her outrage, the fop moves on—and Virginia refuses to spare him another thought.

But Quincy Stanton is not what he seems. By day, he poses as a carefree Loyalist with an army of wigs and a wardrobe that favors lavender. By night, he wages a secret war against the British with an impressive collection of eighteenth-century spy gadgets. If anyone were to discover the truth, Quincy would hang, yet he can’t seem to stay away from the lovely and saucy Virginia. Will their attraction lead to love . . . or danger?


Bond. James Bond…I mean, Stanton. Quincy Stanton.

This is an updated review from my original For Love or Country review. Although it is presented as an updated, re-released version, I will say that I did a quick re-read of the new release and I didn’t truly catch anything noteworthy that I even noticed from my original reading of the story. That doesn’t mean it is not a good story, but just if you have managed to get your hands on an elusive copy of For Love or Country, there is no need to purchase the new release. If you haven’t, whether or not you are a fan of Kerrelyn’s Love at Stake series, you should treat yourself to this well written spy novel.


This is a wonderful story which takes place just prior to the beginning of the revolutionary war. As tensions build between the colonists and the British Army, colonist Quincy Stanton goes undercover as a British loyalist to spy on the local tories and British Officers.

His only regret is that the one person who actually believes his foppish behavior is a mermaid with hair of red and eyes as green as the sea. From his first look at Virginia Munro, Quincy begins to lose his heart. But Virginia has brains and bravery as well as beauty on her side, and when Quincy realizes that Virginia has appointed herself as a spy for the colonists, he takes it upon himself to stop the willful beauty. He wants his lips on the long line of her throat, not a gallow’s noose.

As if trying to balance his Tory disguise, his spying for the colonists and his seduction of Virginia isn’t enough for Quincy to deal with, his half-brother has come from England to try and take Stanton Shipping from Quincy and his Uncle. Clarence was sent by his father to get the Stanton Shipping assets from the bastard son he sent away the Americas, and nothing gives Clarence more pleasure then to take something from his brother, especially if he can also succeed in taking away the lovely Virginia.

THOUGHTS:

This story has the usual great wit and banter as Kerrelyn’s Love at Stake series, but with the added delight of 1769 “spy gadgets.” He might not have a Dick Tracy two-way radio watch, but he does have a snuff box with a secret magnifying glass covered in phosphorescence (no candles necessary). It is a clever twist and a delightful story.

Received ARC of re-released from abovethetreeline.com, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.

(Found my original For Love or Country off the internet.)


Favorite Scene:

“I won’t lie to you, Mr. Stanton. I saw you go up the stairs. And I followed you.”

She placed her hands on his shoulders, the lavender silk cool and smooth against the slightest pressure. Definitely no padding. Her fingers pulsed with each hammering beat of her heart as she rakes her fingertips down his chest. With one hand, she could feel the round, hard outline of his snuffbox and with the other, the rapid staccato of his own heart as it drummed in his broad chest.

She did have an effect on him. Her fingers spread out, searching for whatever he had secreted inside his coat.

His hands covered hers, halting her quest. “You’re playing a dangerous game, cherie.”

“And what game are you playing that has you stealing into bedchambers in the dark?”

“An assignation with a lady who apparently has changed her mind.” He rested his right hand lightly on her shoulder and crooked his thumb inside her neckline, wedged between the midnight-blue silk and her skin. “But since a younger, sweeter morsel has come along…” He slid his thumb down, watching its descent as it followed the curve of her breast. “He put in his thumb and pulled out a…plum?”

Virginia jumped back, pressing her hand across her chest. Her agitated breathing caused her breasts to rise and fall rapidly against her palm. “I must ask you to keep your hands to yourself, sir.” She should have known not to flirt with a man like this, a man who radiated so much raw masculinity in spite of his silk trappings.

He shrugged. “You touched me first.” His eyes gleamed like quicksilver as he stepped toward her. “My dear mademoiselle, you would be amazed what a…well-placed thumb can do.”

“And you would be amazed what a well-placed knee can do.”

His chuckle was deep. “You are determined to prove yourself less than proper this evening. I’m quite intrigued.”

“You’re not what you seem, either, Mr. Stanton.”

He tilted his head as he considered her carefully. “And how, may I ask, have you reached that conclusion?”

“You pretend to be a lazy fop, yet you have the tanned complexion and muscles of a man who has known true labor.”

His dark eyebrows lifted. “Have you been studying me? I am flattered.”

She felt her face redden with a rush of heat. “I’m merely an observant person.”

“You’re very clever, Miss Munro, but other equally observant people may have noticed your disappearance. I suggest you return at once to the parlor. To be seen with me will only harm your reputation. I’m rumored to be…insatiable.”

“I’m not sure what you are, Mr. Stanton.” Virginia whisked by him and won the hall. She heard his soft voice behind her.

“Likewise, cherie

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