Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Deliver Me From Darkness

Deliver Me From Darkness (Paladin Warriors - Book 1) by Tes Hilaire

Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: Paperback, 325pp
ISBN-13: 978-1402264344
ISBN: 1402264348

(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Purhcase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Tes Hilaire on the WEB: website, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from Deliver Me From Darkness



He had once been a warrior of the Light, one of the revered Paladins. A protector. But now he lives in darkness, and the shadows are his sanctuary. Every day is a struggle to overcome the bloodlust. Especially the day Karissa comes to his door.

She is light and bright and everything beautiful - despite her scratches and torn clothes. Every creature of the night is after her. So is every male Paladin. Because Karissa is the last female of their kind. But she is his. he may not have a soul, but he can't deny his heart.


The first book in the Paladin Warriors series, Deliver Me From Darkness starts off with a bang. Author Tes Hilaire brings readers yet another vampire novel, but this one isn't your typical paranormal fare. It's the gray areas between good and evil that become the focus of this well plotted and exciting paranormal romance. Though Hilaire uses the tried and true soul mate theory in this novel, it becomes a little more complicated than usual since one part of the lead couple doesn't have a soul to begin with. An intriguing beginning to a new series!

As a paranormal romance fan, I realize that one any given day, a ton of new vampire novels come out. Fans are forced to make decisions on which of these books they will give a nod to. When given so many choices how does a reader know which books to read and which books to pass on? I have a simple acid test that works for me. I can generally tell after the first couple of pages whether the tone of the book works for me, whether the writing is tight enough or powerful enough to peak my interest, or whether the premise is imaginative or creative enough to potentially make me a fan of an author. Tes Hilaire's new book, Deliver Me From Darkness, had me from the first couple of paragraphs.

Roland is my favorite kind of hero, dark and brooding to some extent. He was once a Paladin warrior, a man of honor and integrity, a protector of mankind. But he lost all that when he was turned. Becoming a vampire has taken everything he loves away from him. His friends, his purpose, his soul and now he finally finds the woman he knows to be his mate, but it's too late... or is it? It is possible that not every vampire is inherently evil? Could it be that some part of Roland is still good? Hilaire makes it all seem possible with this character. He just gives off this aura of command and yet he is vulnerable to his bloodlust, to his sadness, to Karissa. A good character!

Karissa finds herself in quite the mess. She is only female Paladin left. What's girl to do when everybody wants her? Karissa was a good heroine, but she lacked a little of depth that Hilaire gives to Roland. She's a bit angsty and has that damsel in distress mentality, but I liked her just the same. She seemed to fit Roland well and understand her place in the Paladin world. The romance between them isn't a whirlwind love affair. It is slower to react and harder to justify. The intensity eventually ramps up and readers are treated to some really good moments with these two characters. I thought Hilaire spent just enough time on this aspect of the book to make it both tender and passionate.

As with any new series the first book has to be good. It has to draw the reader in not only to the story itself, but into the world at large. It has to show potential. It has to make the reader want to read more and I think Hilaire pulls that off with flying colors. Her world-building is solid and gives readers a lot to think about. Not everything is cut and dried. She sets up the next book, with some amazing secondary characters and leaves the reader really wishing the next book came out tomorrow. I liked this one a lot. Yep, it's another vampire novel, but it's too darn good to pass up!

Deliver Me From Darkness is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm givnig this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Daphne Award-winning author Tes Hilaire started creating whole new worlds to escape Upstate New York's harsh winters before finally fleeing to sultry North Carolina. Her stories are edgy, exciting, and bring a hint of dark fantasy to paranormal romance. And no one ever has to shovel snow.

Review: The Crown

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: Hardcover, 409pp
ISBN-13: 978-1451626858
ISBN: 1451626851

(Received for an honest review from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours via Touchstone)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Nancy Bilyeau on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from The Crown

Video: Trailer

An aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father - and preserve the Catholic faith from Cromwell's ruthless terror. 
The year 1537...
Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the sacred rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin's side. Arrested for interfering with the king's justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.
The ruthless Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes terrifying steps to force Joanna to agree to spy for him: to save her father's life she must find an ancient relic - a crown so powerful, it may hold the ability to end the Reformation. Accompanied by two monks, Joanna returns home to Dartford Priory and searches in secret for this long-lost piece of history worn by the Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain.
But Dartford Priory has become a dangerous place, and when more than one dead body is uncovered, Joanna departs with a sensitive young monk, Brother Edmund, to search elsewhere for the legendary crown. From royal castles with tapestry-filled rooms to Stonehenge to Malmesbury Abbey, the final resting place of King Athelstan, Joanna and Brother Edmund must hurry to find the crown if they want to keep Joanna's father alive. At Malmesbury, secrets of the crown are revealed that bring to light the fates of the Black Prince, Richard the Lionhearted, and Katherine of Aragon's first husband, Arthur. The crown's intensity and strength are beyond the earthly realm and it must not fall into the wrong hands.
With Cromwell's troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must now decide who she can trust with the secret of the crown so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life.
This provocative story melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at fascinating and critical moment in England's past. 
It is often said that religion and politics shouldn't mix, but I believe readers will agree that Nancy Bilyeau's novel, The Crown proves that, that's not always true. Bilyeau weaves a story that incorporates the political machinations of the Tudor court and the religious fervor of key players in the Reformation together to create a riveting and historically satisfying novel. Not only is this book a historical fiction fans cup of tea, but it will also appeal to the mystery lover as well. This well rounded debut puts Bilyeau squarely in the middle of a genre that boasts such acclaimed writers as Philippa Gregory and Jean Plaidy.
This book was right up my alley. I'm a long time historical fiction fan, but I tend to be a little picky when it comes to anything surrounding the Tudors. Primarily because everything has to be about Henry VIII. Though this story is set during Henry's reign and does involve him to an extent it is essentially not about the Tudors. It is about a young nun who bucks convention and finds herself in the middle of a search for the famed crown of King Athelstan, the first ruler of a united England. Bilyeau doesn't make Henry VIII the center of attention and that was refreshing. I liked the fact that she chose to highlight the prevalent themes of Henry's rule, and not Henry himself. That's far too over saturated and Bilyeau had other ideas. 
Ever watched Histories Mysteries on the history channel? I love that show! And this book put me in that mind set. It is historical fiction, its very well researched, the period detail is rich and inviting and the settings and descriptions will leave readers breathless, but that isn't its only claim to fame. This book is also a mystery lovers dream. Bilyeau incorporates a lot of the political intrigue that was an inevitable part of the time period and gives it a twist that will keep readers scratching their heads and trying to figure it all out right along with the heroine of the book, Joanna Stafford.
Joanna is a nun. But she isn't a very good nun. She isn't too good at following the rules. She can't keep her mouth shut and she can't seem to stay out of trouble. And that's exactly why readers will love her character. She is very devout and has strong opinions about her faith, but she's also only human. She finds herself in the middle of one of the biggest mysteries of the time and finding the relic that the Bishop of Winchester is looking for, could prove to be the key to stopping the Reformation. Bilyeau really does a magnificent job with Joanna's character. She is easy to identify with and will resonate with readers from many different backgrounds. Bilyeau's character development skills are excellent and I look forward to finding out more about Joanna should the author choose to write more about her. 
There were a few areas in which the story slowed down a little bit. But I thought that was necessary in order to shine a much more intense spotlight on the search for the crown. This book has been compared to Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code and I can see why people would make that distinction, though I believe Bilyeau's writing is more descriptive and more indicative of the time period she writes about. Just because a book centers around a holy relic that could affect the religious climate of the world doesn't mean it's the same book in disguise. Bilyeau proves that she knows what she's doing when it comes to a historical thriller and she doesn't need to be compared to anyone. A very satisfying debut, by an author that's bound to be much sought after in the genre. 
The Crown is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag! 
Nancy Bilyeau is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Eternal Captive

Eternal Captive (Mark of the Vampire - Book 3) by Laura Wright

Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: Paperback, 372pp
ISBN-13: 978-0451235879
ISBN: 0451235878

(Received for an honest review from Signet Eclipse)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Laura Wright on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Books in the series: Eternal Hunger (2010), Eternal Kiss (2011), Eternal Captive (2012), Eternal Beast (2012)

CoverArt: Click the picture for a larger, clearer image of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from Eternal Captive



Lucian Roman knows he must stay away from Bronwyn Kettler for sanity's sake. Since feeding her his blood, he can think of nothing else but possessing her - fighting an uncontrollable desire to kill her, if he has to, and the vampire she has sworn to wed.

Bronwyn, a brilliant vampire genealogist, can never escape her connection to Lucian. He sustained her when she was starving. He still rules her dreams. And when the nights get dark enough, she still craves him. Though his essence courses through her body, she has found a true mate in someone else.

But when a dangerous enemy threatens Bronwyn, only Lucian - bound to her forever by blood - can save her life. Even if it means sacrificing his own...


Eternal Captive is the third book in Laura Wright's, Mark of the Vampire series. Wright continues her series with another one of the Roman brothers, a member of vampire family with a lot of complicated relationships. Wright brings a real intensity to her writing and is a great voice in the paranormal romance genre. This series is something different in a genre that can sometimes be saturated with the same old thing. Yes, it's another vampire series. No, it is not predictable nor is it pretentious. This is easily one of my favorites of it's kind. It's unique and original.

I have liked Lucian since the beginning of this series and I'll have to say that I was particularly excited to read his story. Luca is a smart-ass. He's sarcastic, a little bit abrasive and somewhat full of himself. I like his bad-boy swagger and his alpha male mentality. He is an albino which adds to his allure and he has a limited amount of time before he becomes a monster... unless Bronwyn can help him. I just loved the way that Wright writes this character. He has these desires that are both good and bad, but he isn't really fighting with himself, he's attempting to deal with them. I liked the fact that he was brassy and hard nosed. Great character development.

Bronwyn was a little harder for me to gauge. But I can understand why she would not want to be attracted to a Breeding Male. He will eventually have nothing more on his mind that killing and will have to be caged. Who would want to love someone like that? Yet, she does! But, she doesn't give up on Luca. She is constantly trying to change the inevitable for him. The attraction between them is intense and heartfelt. I felt sorry for the man she decided to take as a mate, because he could not hold a candle to Luca. But, I do believe Synjon with eventually get his own story.

This is just a great series. I can't recommend it enough. The writing is strong. The world-building and mythology which is so important in paranormal romance is interesting and not your hum-drum average vampire world. I think Wright was really on to something with this series and these characters. I loved her character development and I felt like she took time to give her cast personalities and feelings and situations of their own. Not every thread ends within each book, but they can easily be read as stand- alone's which is always a plus.

If you are looking for something different in a vampire book, this is probably it. Wright does a masterful job with her vampires and makes the reader feel like they've just read something that a little more meaningful than another Twilight knock off. I loved it... and I think you will too!

Eternal Captive is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Laura Wright is passionate about romantic fiction. Though she has spent most of her life immersed in acting, singing, and competitive ballroom dancing, when she found the world of writing and books and endless cups of coffee, she knew she was home. Laura lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and three lovable dogs.

Review: Midnight Enchantment

Midnight Enchantment (Dark Magick - Book 4) by Anya Bast

Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: Paperback, 291pp
ISBN-13: 978-0425245033
ISBN: 0425245039

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Anya Bast on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Books in the series: Wicked Enchantment (2010), Cruel Enchantment (2010), Dark Enchantment (2011), Midnight Enchantment (2012)

CoverArt: Click on the picture for a larger, clearer image of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from Midnight Enchantment



Niall Quinn, mage and the finest thief in the Black Tower, is the fae's best hope for freedom. Only he stands a chance of tracking down and retrieving the missing bosca fadbh pieces from the Summer Queen. But he meets his match in Elizabeth Cely Saintjohn, who has taken control of the pieces on the Summer Queen's behalf - and has refused to give them up.

Elizabeth is an asrai, a rare water fae and she may be the only one in Piefferburg stealthier than Niall. She has her own reasons for guarding the two pieces and wanting the walls of Piefferburg to remain intact - even if it means denying her fae sisters and brothers their freedom. Her mother's life depends on it. 

Torn between his duty to obtain the pieces of any cost and the shocking lust Elizabeth has stirred in him, Niall must convince Elizabeth to surrender the pieces - or else he may have no choice but to destroy her and all her holds dear...


The fourth book in the Dark Magick series by Anya Bast is arguably the best in the series, according to long time fans. Midnight Enchantment showcases Bast's unrivaled world-building skills and her intense writing style. Bast holds her own in the character development area as well, with this book, giving readers a multi-faceted cast of characters and a unique heroine. This is a series paranormal romance fans will adore as well as more mainstream fantasy readers.

Midnight Enchantment is the first book by Anya Bast that I have had the pleasure to read. There were many things about this book that really endeared it to me, but I would caution readers that this is a series that is best read in order. Bast has phenomenal world-building skills and I can only imagine how much more I would have enjoyed this book had I taken the time to read the books in order and see the progression that Bast employs. The mythology alone is enough to make this an exception read especially for readers like myself, who have a interest in all things fae.

Being of Scottish ancestry, the fae was a common theme in stories passed down through my family. It was extremely interesting to me to see how Bast used the legends and folklore surrounding the fae to enhance and drive her own ideas and mythologies. I liked the symbolism she uses between the Summer Queen and the Shadow Queen. One dark and one light, not necessarily one good and one evil. I loved the gray areas that gave the reader a reason to think a little more deeply about their own motivations for doing things. 

The characters were well drawn and layered. Elizabeth Saintjohn isn't exactly what readers might expect from a heroine. She isn't one of the good guys or the bad guys for that matter. She has motivations all her own, which border in some cases between selfishness and unconditional love. Elizabeth could potentially allow the fae to once again be free, but at what cost? The life of her mother. How sure are you, that you could make the hard decisions? That's what I loved about the character, she was gritty and angsty and very unsettled in  her decisions, but in the end she did what she to do and I think readers will appreciate her struggle.

Niall Quinn is a very sexy leading man, but he's more of an anti-hero than the a full-fledged world saver. He is very centered. He has one objective. Get the information he needs at whatever cost. In this case, that cost is Elizabeth. He resorts to some nasty business to get the job done and is faced with doing what he is called to do or risking everything for a woman who may or may not support him. I thought Niall was extremely conflicted most of the time and that's the kind of hero that appeals to me. The ones who don't have it all figured out. Yeap... I like the dark brooding kinds of heroes. Niall doesn't really fall completely in that category but he's definitely leaning.

As far as I can tell this book wraps up the series in a neat package. It answers a lot of questions and doesn't leave the reader hanging. I am looking forward to back tracking a bit and catching up on this one. Should Bast continue the series, this is one that I wouldn't hesitate to pick up. Very good writing, exceptional world-building, intense characterizations and fae mythology.. how could a reader who loves this kind of book go wrong with this one?

Midnight Enchantment is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag! (Would've been a 5 had it been more of a stand alone)

Anya Bast is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous works of romantic fiction, mostly paranormal and mostly scorching hot. She lives in the Kentucky countryside with her husband, daughter, eight cats, a dog, and an odd assortment of rescued animals. Somewhat reclusive by nature, she can be drawn out with a bottle of nice red wine, classic movies or good music. When she's not writing, she can be found trying to grow organic vegetables, shopping in thrift stores for that perfect piece of clothing, or dreaming about travel to some faraway country.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review: Words Spoken True

Words Spoken True by Ann H. Gabhart

Publication Date: February 1, 2012
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Genre: Christian Fiction, Inspirational
Pages: Paperback, 356pp
ISBN-13: 978-0800720452
ISBN: 0800720458

(Received for an honest review from Revell)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, ChristianBook, IndieBound

Ann H. Gabhart on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from Words Not Spoken



Adrianne Darcy was practically raised in  her father's newspaper offices. With ink in her veins, she can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855.

When Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over a competing newspaper, the battle for readers gets fierce. After Adrianne and Blake meet at a benefit, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adrianne is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the key to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story - and the girl.

Set against the volatile backdrop of political and civil unrest in 1850s Louisville, this exciting story of love and loyalty will hold you in its grip until the very last page.


Christian fiction and Inspirational readers have long known that Ann H. Gabhart is a giant among the writers of this genre. Her books have always captivated and inspired in a way that many authors cannot approach. Gabhart's latest novel, Words Spoken True, will appeal to and reach a much greater audience than her previous books. There is so much more going on in this book than the genre describes. Historical fiction fans, romantic suspense readers and Christian fiction enthusiasts will all find something for them here.

There are a lot of things to like about this novel. The historical setting is 1850's Louisville, Kentucky. Being from Kentucky I am always interested to see how authors from any genre depict the people and events in Kentucky's past. Gabhart never ceases to amaze with her rich period detail and understanding of the political and emotional climate of the time. She obviously has a penchant for research and takes those tidbits of information gleaned and uses them to their utmost potential. There descriptions are both vivid and revealing. I appreciate an author who can make the history take on a life of its own in any story and Gabhart excels at that.

Gabhart's characters are both genuine and compelling. Adrianne is a woman who is independent minded and able to buck against the conventions of the time and the role of women within the constraints of society. She is unexpected and exceptional. But she isn't perfect and that makes her a very emotionally satisfying character. During this time period it would have been unusual for a young woman to be interested in or take part in the newspaper business, but Adrianne proves to be an exception to the rule in almost everything. She was refreshing and original. Her loyalty ran deep, but she knew she had to trust her heart as well as her head.

Blake was also another great example of great character development. Here is an attractive young man with a passion for reporting the truth. He is all about justice and getting the story out to the masses. He realizes that a relationship with Adrianne goes against the rules. She is the daughter of the enemy so to speak, but also feels the attraction between them. I liked the fact that doesn't back down from what he wants, even when he knew it wouldn't be easy. That's a real hero!

The historical aspect of the book was really well done, but Gabhart doesn't stop there. She gives readers who appreciate a little suspense with their romance something to whet their appetites as well. The addition of a mystery or suspense theme really sets this book apart for the genre. Most of the historical inspirationals don't come anywhere close to the drama that readers will find in this book. Words Spoken True, has a villain that will make the readers skin crawl. A serial killer who is adept at hiding his true colors. I thought Gabhart did an amazing job of incorporating this into the story. Newspapers are all about the headlines and Gabhart creates a few that are hard to put down.

I really enjoyed this book and I think it goes beyond the boundaries of genre. It will appeal to many types of readers and does not hesitate or try to hide its overall message. It's about truth and standing up for it. It's about the symbolism between light and dark and basically doing what's right despite the consequences. It's about laying it all on the line for your dreams and your hopes and not backing down when the going gets rough. Now that's a good book! If you are thinking about trying inspirational fiction this is a good place to start.

Available February 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Ann. H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several novels, including Angel Sister, and the Shaker novels The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, and The Blessed. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in Kentucky. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Town in a Wild Moose Chase

Town in a Wild Moose Chase (Candy Holliday Mystery - Book 3) by B.B. Haywood

Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 322pp
ISBN-13: 978-0425246177
ISBN: 0425246175

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

B.B. Haywood on the WEB (Beth and Robert Feeman): website, blog

Books in the series: Town in a Blueberry Jam (2010), Town in a Lobster Stew (2011), Town in a Wild Moose Chase (2012)

CoverArt: Click on the picture for a larger, clear image of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from Town in a Wild Moose Chase


In the quaint seaside village of Cape Willington, Maine, Candy Holliday has a mostly idyllic life, tending to the Blueberry Acres farm she runs with her father and occasionally stepping in to solve a murder or two...

It's winter in Cape Willington - and trouble is about to walk right into Candy's life. First, town hermit Solomon Hatch stirs things up by claiming to have seen a dead body in the woods with a hatchet in its back. Then, a mysterious white moose starts appearing around town in the strangest of places.

Meanwhile, the town's annual Winter Moose Fest has drawn plenty of out-of-towners who've come to enjoy the Sleigh and Sled Parade, the ice-sculpting exhibition, and the Moose Fest Ball. As Candy runs around town covering events for the local newspaper, she begins to suspect a link between the body in the woods, the white moose, and several of the town's weekend visitors. But as she hunts for the killer, she's the one who's prey...


The third book in the Candy Holliday series, Town in a Wild Moose Chase has just as much humor and straight up good writing as the other two books in the series. The writing team of B.B. Haywood has a knack for creating just the right kind of atmosphere for cozy mystery fans. The small seaside town of Cape Willington is perfect for a cozy series, with quirky characters and lots of local events to inspire each book in the series. Readers of all kinds will love the latest addition to a highly entertaining series.

B.B. Haywood has created a cozy series in which each book features a local festival or celebration, which I thought was a really great idea. It allows the writers to come up with some off-beat events for the their fictional town that are intriguing and just a lot of fun to contemplate. I have loved all the titles in the series so far but this one is particularly fun. Being a fan of the North Eastern region, I was happy that this series is set in Maine and thought the authors did an amazing job of getting across the mindset of people who live in that area of the country. 

I also like Candy a lot. She's smart, very intuitive and has a lot going for her beyond the fact that she's a great amateur sleuth. She gets to cover all of the local events including the Winter Moose Fest for the local paper. The  murder that apparently takes place could have happened in the woods behind her place and there's a strange critter being seen around town. Figuring out how it all tied together was just the beginning of this crazy caper. The mystery kept me guessing all the way to the end and I'm a little on the hard to stump side. There was just some many different directions the authors could have went with this one, I couldn't pick which way was the right way... LOL!

There was a lot of comic relief provided by the secondary cast in this one. The subject is of course murder. Not something that is usually light reading fare, but one of the best parts of the cozy subgenre is the ability of the authors to turn a grisly situation into something that isn't quite so emotionally draining. It doesn't take away from the fact that a murder has been committed or that other people are in danger, it just keeps the mood from being so somber. Realistically speaking that may not be plausible, but it is entertaining. 

I recommend this one to cozy fans who like the mildly outrageous and can laugh even when things appear dire for the heroine. It's a great addition to the series and I think readers will find that they can really relate to Candy and the situations she finds herself in. I loved the New England setting, the strange white moose and the overall small town feel of this book. I can't wait to find out what happens to Candy next... and you gotta try Melody's Chocolate Mousse... yum!

Town in a Wild Moose Chase is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

B. B. Haywood is a pseudonym of writing team Beth Feeman and Robert Feeman. They conceived the idea for the Candy Holliday mysteries while driving around the Maine countryside, stopping at different small towns throughout the state.


The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Town in a Wild Moose Chase by B.B. Haywood.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Death on Heels

Death on Heels (Crime of Fashion - Book 8) by Ellen Byerrum

Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 328pp
ISBN-13: 978-0451236135
ISBN: 0451236130

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Ellen Byerrum on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Books in the series: The Killer Hair (2003), Designer Knockoff (2004), Hostile Makeover (2005), Raiders of the Lost Corset (2006), Grave Apparel (2007), Armed and Glamorous (2008), Shot Through Velvet (2011), Death on Heels (2012)

CoverArt: Click on the picture for a larger, clearer image of the covers in this image. 

Excerpt from Death on Heels


Home of the helmet hairdo and congressional comb-over, Washington, D.C. is a hotbed of fashion faux pas. If anyone should know, it's "Crime of Fashion" columnist Lacey Smithsonian. She dishes out advice to the scandal-scorched and clothing-clueless doing her part to change this town - one fashion victim at a time...


When fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian moved to Washington, D.C. from the rugged small town of Sagebrush, Colorado, she thought she'd never look back. But when her former boyfriend cattle rancher Cole Tucker is arrested for the murders of three women Lacey digs her cowboy boots out of her closet and hops on the next plane. She is certain of Tucker's innocence - until he abducts her during a daring courthouse escape. Is Tucker capable of murder too? Or, is there a larger conspiracy? Lacey needs to rustle up all the help she can get for this case before her old flame is snuffed out for good...


Beware of killer heels: the ones you wear and the ones you date. Choose high heels that fit and lift your spirits and kick those other heels to the curb!


The eighth Crime of Fashion novel, Death on Heels is a whodunit that will be extremely satisfying for fans of the series. Ellen Byerrum takes readers into heroine Lacey Smithsonian's past in this book and explores who Lacey was before she became a fashion reporter and top-notch amateur sleuth. Byerrum's quick wit and eccentric characters give this one an over-the-top atmosphere that will appeal readers new and old. Fans of the series will love it and new readers will be ready to jump on the band wagon.

Lacey Smithsonian has an eye for fashion and murder. She's quirky, full of passion for her work and extremely loyal to those she believes in. A long time ago she left Stagebrush, Colorado and rancher Cole Tucker behind, but now that he has been accused of three murders, Lacey returns to her old stomping grounds to prove Cole's innocence. Byerrum does such a wonderful job with characterization in her novels. The entire Crime of Fashion series, boasts a very realistic, multi-faceted cast and Death on Heels is a great example of that. Not only does the reader get to read about Lacey's normal gang, but some well written characters from her past as well. 

The secondary cast of this novel is just as well thought out and developed as the main character. Everyone from Lacey's mom to her new latest boyfriend Vic are full of life and move the story along at a great pace. Cole is also a character that really shines. Here's a guy that's being wrongly accused of murder, someone who is desperate to prove he didn't do it. So desperate he kidnaps Lacey and makes a jail break. I just loved him. He was brassy and confident and had alpha male written all over him. I almost like him as much or better than Vic (I probably shouldn't have said that... LOL)

This is a long standing series that has a lot of fans and I think readers who have followed the series from the beginning will love this one. But new readers will also be able to pick this one up and read and enjoy it even if they haven't read any of the other seven. Byerrum always makes her books good stand alone's as well as a part of a series. She gives enough background to get the reader up to speed without ruining what has come before or bogging the reader down with too much information. There's something to be said for just the right balance.

The mystery aspect of this story was well written and very interesting. The list of suspects had reason and motive to want Cole out of the picture. Lacey had a darn good reason for investigating, as Cole is a former lover and still a good friend. The author throws in a few red herrings to throw readers off the track and keep them guessing til the final pages and then WHAM, she lets the reader have it full tilt in the last few chapters. I loved it and look forward to more from Byerrum. The Fashion Bites were also hilarious but I missed having a few of Felicities recipes to try out! Not one you want to miss if you are a cozy fan... this series rocks!

Death on Heels is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!


Ellen Byerrum is a journalist in Washington, D.C., and a produced and published playwright. She holds a Virginia private investigator's registration. A Colorado native, she lives in Virginia with her husband.



The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Death on Heels by Ellen Byerrum.

~ You must be a GFC follower or E-mail subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only!
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST March 9th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on THIS post, not the form!
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Review: The Principal's Office

The Principal's Office (DeKnight Trilogy - Book 3) by Jasmine Haynes

Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Pages: Paperback,308pp
ISBN-13: 978-0425247167
ISBN: 0425247163

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Heat)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Jasmine Haynes on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Books in the series: Past Midnight (2011), What Happens After Dark (2011), The Principal's Office (2012)

CoverArt: Click on the picture for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from The Principal's Office (Go to the bookshelf and choose The Principal's Office.)



Rachel Delaney, a divorced mother with two boys, isn't complaining. Her life is fine. Really. There is only one thing that could make it better, though: a strong, warm male body to help her make it through the occasional lonely night. No strings, and no relationship, thanks. Just a little fun with a perfect stranger. And there's no more perfect a stranger than Rand.

He's tall, blond, unattached, smokin' hot, and looking for the same thing Rachel is: wild, abandoned sex with no limits, no last names, and no complications - until Rachel's eldest son gets in trouble in class.

Only then does Rachel discover that her down-and-dirty, dangerously sexy mystery lover is also the new school principal. They're not exactly the ideal role models for a troubled student acting out his own frustrations. With Rachel's life turned upside down, Rand is the only one who can make it right - by taking their hot-bodied hook ups in a warm hearted new direction...


The third book in Jasmine Hayne's DeKnight trilogy, The Principal's Office is a super-sexy, erotic romance that will get the readers motor running in a hurry! Hayne's does a wonderful job developing realistic characters and delving into some pretty kinky areas. Her knack for understanding women's fantasies and what gets them excited is showcased well in this book. Haynes is a strong voice in contemporary erotic romance that's fans of the genre would be remiss in missing!

I would have to say that The Principal's Office is definitely the best of the series. The final book in the DeKnight Trilogy has some very good selling points. Jasmine Haynes is able to take the teacher/student fantasy and twist it a little to give readers a well written, emotionally fulfilling novel that is just hot as hell. That's the only way to put it that really conveys the heat in this one.

There is a lot going on in this one, as far as, sex is concerned. You have a heroine that is coming out of a very sexually repressed marriage. She is unaware of how good sex can be with someone who confident and kinky. Rachel is a good mom, she has a lot going for her, but she needs a man once in awhile and she would love to indulge in some fantasies that she's never been able to explore before. 

Rand has kink written all over him. He is well put together, sexy, smart and not afraid of his sexuality. It's an explosive combination with these two and Haynes doesn't hold back which I loved. They explore everything from voyeurism to outdoor sex, exhibitionism and lots more. The sex scenes in this one are hot, hot, hot! I also liked the idea that Rand was a role model in his career, but he was able to let loose and have fun on his own time. I also liked the fact that he could role with the punches and take what came. If it was a relationship, good. If it was just sex, okay. When it became both... WOW!

I thought Haynes did a fantastic job with the characters, but she also showed a lot of versatility in her writing with this book. The story is strong and doesn't hinge on the sex, though there is healthy dose of that in this book. If Haynes had chosen to write the book without that, it would easily have stood as a good book, that kink just gives it an edge that some readers really enjoy. And I'm definitely one of them. I also have to admit to the guilty pleasure of enjoying the dirty talk. It was lots of fun to read!

I recommend this one for readers who like their contemporary romance with a lot of spice. This one isn't for the faint of heart, where eroticism is concerned and certainly not suitable for prudes, but for the rest of us all I can say is... more please!!!

The Principal's Office is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag! (I wish my high school principal had been like Rand!)

With a bachelor's degree in accounting from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Jasmine Haynes worked in the high-tech Silicon Valley for the last twenty years and hasn't met a boring accountant yet! Okay, maybe a few. She and her husband live with numerous wild cats, one of whom has now moved into the house. Jasmine's pastimes, when not writing, are speed-walking in the Redwoods, watching classic movies, and hanging out with writer friends in coffee shops. She is the author of classy erotic romance and the popular Max Starr paranormal romance mystery series, and also writes quirky laugh-out-loud romances as Jennifer Skully.

Guest Post and Giveaway: Jasmine Haynes

Please join me in welcoming Jasmine Haynes to Debbie's Book Bag today. Jasmine is here to promote the final book in her DeKnight Trilogy, The Principal's Office. This is an erotic romance that will have your heart racing and your body on overdrive! The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Jasmine's book, see the giveaway details at the end of the post.

Thanks so much for having me!

For those of you who haven’t read my books, I write classy contemporary erotic romance as Jasmine Haynes. My latest trilogy for Berkley Heat begins with Past Midnight, continues with What Happens After Dark, and just released is the third book in the DeKnight Tales, The Principal’s Office. I’m also the author of the popular Max Starr paranormal mystery/romance series and as Jennifer Skully, I write laugh-out-loud romantic suspense, including Baby, I’ll Find You.

Since I’m doing a blog tour, I’m trying to give readers a little something different about The Principal’s Office with every blog. So let me tell you about my vacations! While vacations are supposed to be fun, I never waste them either. After a family reunion in Tahoe, I used the setting in my novella Kinky Neighbors. My Palm Springs trip was put to use in Mine Until Morning. Sedona showed up in Hers for the Evening. Revenge Sex and Submitting to the Boss, the first two books in my West Coast series, don’t feature any of my vacations! How can that be!? So I’m going to have to take a trip for the third book in the series, The Boss’s Daughter. Hmm, where should I go!? For The Principal’s Office, I went to Vegas with my mom and sister (a girls’ weekend!). We stayed at the Luxor, did the whole touristy thing, The Bellagio water show, the gondolas in Venice, the Eiffel Tower, watched a show—Menopause, and you really shouldn’t miss it if you’re there. But here’s what gave me an idea for The Principal’s Office: in the middle of the Luxor, they have a couple’s club called The Cathouse. Oh my God, I thought, this has to be perfect for my story! Upon closer inspection, though, the couple’s club was actually a sports bar with scantily clad waitress’s. A bit of a disappointment, but my imagination was sparked, and I created a couple’s club that was completely perfect. So you see, for a writer, nothing gets wasted, not even my vacations!

Here’s a little teaser for The Principal’s Office:

Single mother of two teenage boys, Rachel Delaney is happy with her life and her job, except for the lack of a strong male body to help her make it through the occasional lonely night, no strings attached. Enter Rand, a mysterious stranger, who’s absolutely perfect, until Rachel finds their lives intersect in the principal’s office.

I’d like to invite you to read the full book blurb and the excerpt on my website at!

To learn more about my books, readers can visit my website, and my blog,, where I offer free reads and excerpts. It’s been fun sharing with you!


The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Principal's Office by Jasmine Haynes.
~ You must be a GFC follower or E-mail subscriber to participate.
~ US and Canadian Addresses only!
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST March 8th.

1. Please leave a comment for Jasmine on THIS post.
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interview and Giveaway: Nancy Bilyeau

Please join me in welcoming Nancy Bilyeau to Debbie's Book Bag today. Nancy is here promoting her debut novel, The Crown, a book I am sure many of you will enjoy. The is also a giveaway for one copy of Nancy's book, see details at the end of the post.

DEB: Nancy, this is the first time you've been with us here at Debbie's Book Bag. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
NB: Hi, I'm a Midwesterner moved east. I live in New York City with my husband and two children. I worked in the magazine business for years--I was deputy editor of InStyle magazine when I sold this book. I've been in love with Tudor history since I was about 11 years old, and decided to write a thriller based in the 16th century.

DEB: Tell us about your latest release, The Crown. Is this a single title, a part of a series, etc.
NB: The Crown is my debut novel, the first one I've ever written. It's in the first person, from the point of view of a young Dominican novice named Sister Joanna Stafford. She leaves her priory without permission to stand by the side of her rebel cousin who is being executed at Smithfield. There Sister Joanna is arrested, imprisoned in the Tower of London, and forced into a conspiracy around finding an object of mystical importance. I've already written the second book in the series, The Chalice.

DEB: Has historical fiction always been a genre that interested you, or is it something more recent?
NB: Historical fiction is my first love: Norah Lofts, Jean Plaidy and Mary Stewart. Through the years I'd come back to it, from Mary Renault to A.S. Byatt. I also love thrillers, so I decided to write a historical thriller.

DEB: What kind of research did you do for this novel? Were there specific aspects of the book that you needed more information for?
NB: I started with my own library of more than 20 books about Tudor England, mostly biographies and studies of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Pilgrimage of Grace. I then read more books and doctoral dissertations on live in late-medieval monasteries. I also corresponded with curators and researchers in England, specifically at Dartford Borough Museum, Malmesbury Abbey and the Tower of London.

DEB: Do you have to have specific things in place to write comfortably? A quiet house, a certain drink etc.
NB: I wish I had a quiet house! That would be fantastic. I usually get up very early and make Earl Gray tea. Music can help me get in the mood, like Beethoven or Thomas Tallis.

DEB: How did you feel when you got the word that your first book would be published? What was your reaction...
NB: I was ecstatic and could hardly believe it. I danced around my apartment.

DEB: Do you have advice for new writers?
NB: Join a workshop and have others read your work so you know you close you're coming to your goal in writing. You have to find out if it's clear and dramatic and affecting before you submit to an agent.

DEB: What are you working on right now? Or what are your plans for the future as far as writing goes?
NB: I have a third book in the series planned. I'm also interested in writing historical fiction in other periods--and other countries.

DEB: Do you have a favorite author or genre? What do you read when you have the opportunity?
NB: I love so many, many writers, but if pushed into a corner I'd have to say Daphne du Maurier. I read suspense fiction and biographies when I have the chance. Right now I am loving Robert K. Massie's "Catherine the Great."

DEB: Tell us one thing about you that readers may not know?
NB: I went through an intense horse phase at the same time I fell in love with Tudor England and taught myself to draw horses. I can still sketch a horse with skill, though nothing else. 


~ You must be a GFC follower or an e-mail subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only!
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST March 7th.

1. Please leave a comment for Nancy and tell us why you like historical fiction?
2. Please fill out the FORM.