Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: Night Shift

Night Shift by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin and Milla Vane

Publication Date: 11/25/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
ISBN-10: 042527392X
ISBN-13: 978-0425273920

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Nalini Singh on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Ilona Andrews on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Lisa Shearin on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Milla Vane on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Night Shift, courtesy of Nalini Singh's website.

Synopsis:

Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance plunge readers into the dangerous, captivating world unearthed beyond the dark... 

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh delivers a smoldering story with Secrets at Midnightas the scent of Bastien Smith’s elusive lover ignites a possessiveness in him that’s as feral as it is ecstatic. And now that he’s found his mate, he’ll do anything to keep her.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews’ novella, Magic Steals, when people start going missing, shapeshifting tigress Dali Harimau and jaguar shifter Jim Shrapshire must uncover the truth about the mysterious creatures responsible.

From Milla Vane—a warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. But she quickly discovers that the beast isn't a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself. 

It’s seer Makenna Frazier's first day on the job at Supernatural Protection and Investigations, and her first assignment is more than she bargained for when bodyguard duty for a leprechaun prince’s bachelor party goes every which way but right in national bestselling author Lisa Shearin’s Lucky Charms.


Thoughts:

Night Shift is a Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy anthology, boasting some pretty big names in the genres. Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook writing as Milla Vane along with newcomer Lisa Shearin, bring readers four completely different stories. Each one brings something unique to the table that many readers will appreciate. Two of the stories continue long running series', one is a prequel to a new series and one is a simply barbaric. A great sampling of what both genres have to offer!

What I liked:

Nalini Singh's story, "Secrets at Midnight," is a part of her Psy-Changling series. Readers learn more about one of Mercy's brothers, Bastien as he searches for his elusive mate. Her scent is both 'cat' and human and once he finds Kirby, Bastien must help her learn about herself and what she can do. I enjoyed this novella set in the Psy-Changling world and marveled at how Singh can bring a story together and make it interesting, sexy and multi-layered in a such a short format. It takes a master, and Singh does it with ease. A great addition to that series.

Ilona Andrews is one of my favorites in Urban Fantasy. Her Kate Daniels series is perfection when it comes to this genre and "Magic Steals," was a great story from that world. Andrews is top notch when it comes to world building, but in this novella, we see more of her character development skills. Dali and Jim are not newcomers to the series and fans will love learning more about them and seeing their relationship move to the next level in this book. I love Jag shifters and all of Dali's tigress tendencies were amazing in this one. I loved the mysteriousness of the story and the way Jim and Dali worked together to solve the puzzle. Dali finally knows how Jim feels... now what!

Lisa Shearin was a new name to me when I started reading her story, "Lucky Charms." But I will have to say that I am really impressed with her writing. Mac is a seer who has been chosen by the SPI (Supernatural Protection and Investigations) to work with them in keeping the supernatural population in line. Her first official case, pits her with a very sexy new partner and looking for a naughty leprechaun. There was humor, there was just about every known variety of supernatural I could think of. There was just a lot going for this story. I look forward to reading more from this new series. This story was excellent in every way.

Milla Vane is Meljean Brook's darker alter ego. Her story, "The Beast of Blackmoor," is precursor to a new series from the author. It was definitely dark and gritty as Mala a warrior princess, takes on Kavik a forsaken Barbarian who has incurred the wrath of the goddess for his disrespectful behavior in his youth. Readers will be able to tell that Kavik isn't all bad, but neither is Mala all good. This one gets pretty dark and if readers are looking for a light PR read, this is not it. There were some situations that may be hard for some readers to read, but I felt Vane was using them to show the barbaric nature of what was going on in this stark and barren world. I really enjoyed seeing this different side to a favorite author of mine. Great way to begin something new!

Bottom Line:

All four stories were well written and unique. Surprisingly one of the stories I liked best was from the relative newcomer to the genre, Lisa Shearin. It was great to revisit the Psy-Changling series and the Kate Daniels series and those barbarians are looking mighty interesting. As always I wish each story could have been longer and more in depth. Such is the nature of an anthology though and it felt like a really good sampling of what each author had to offer. 

Night Shift is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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





About the Author:


Nalini Singh is the New York Times bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling (Shield of WinterHeart of ObsidianWild Invitation) and Guild Hunter (Archangel's LegionArchangel's BladeArchangel's Kiss) novels.






Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Together, they are the coauthors of the #1 New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels urban-fantasy series, including Magic RisesMagic Slays, and Magic Bleeds and the romantic urban-fantasy novels of the Edge, including Steel's EdgeFate's Edge, and Bayou Moon. They currently reside in Texas with their two children and numerous pets.



Lisa Shearin is the national bestselling author of The SPI Files (The Grendel Affair) and the Raine Benares novels (All Spell Breaks LooseCon & ConjureBewitched & Betrayed).






Milla Vane also writes steampunk romances as bestselling author Meljean Brook. She lives in Oregon.

Review: Cowboys for Christmas

Cowboys for Christmas by Liz Talley, Kim Law and Terri Osburn

Publication Date: 11/18/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Intermix
Genre: Contemporary Romance
File Size: 1288 KB
ASIN: B00JJXV8B4

(Received for an honest review from Intermix)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, itunes, Kobo

Liz Talley on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Kim Law on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Terri Osburn on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Cowboys for Christmas, courtesy of Kim Law's website.

Synopsis:

3 cowboys…2 weeks…1 wedding!

Three all-new stories by Kim Law, Terri Osburn, and Liz Talley


Claire, Georgia, and Mary Catherine couldn’t be more different, but they promised they would be there for one another no matter what. And when they all gather in Holly Hills, Texas, for Mary Catherine’s Christmas wedding, they’ll find they have one thing in common: hearts that are about to be branded—by unforgettable cowboys.


In “Love Me, Cowboy” by Terri Osburn, wallflower Claire would be more excited about the wedding if it didn’t mean running into Mary Catherine’s brother—the bull rider she once had a scorching one-night stand with…


Ivy League volleyball coach Georgia never wanted to see Holly Hills—or another cowboy—again. But a sexy veterinarian is making her rethink her vow to never marry a Texas man in “Kiss Me, Cowboy” by Liz Talley.


Claire and Georgia both think that Mary Catherine is getting hitched to the wrong man, despite how perfect he is. And in “Marry Me, Cowboy” by Kim Law, a local rancher with a wild reputation gives Mary Catherine a glimpse of what might have been—and what could still be...


Thoughts:

Cowboys for Christmas is a feel good romantic read from authors, Liz Talley, Kim Law and Terri Osburn. What happens when three long time girlfriends get together in Texas for a Christmas wedding? You guessed it, they all end up with some smoking hot cowboys under the tree. This anthology blends the styles of all three writers and gives readers a smooth and seamless set of stories that could easily have been one novel. Three great stories about the unexpected ways of finding love!

What I liked:

Terri Osburn starts the anthology out with her story, "Love Me, Cowboy," featuring Claire and Tyler. Claire wants nothing more than to make Mary Catherine's special day perfect, what she doesn't expect is seeing MC's brother, Tyler again. I loved this sweet second chance romance about an injured bull rider and young woman who changed her life, but has yet to see herself as others do. I liked the fact that Tyler liked Claire even before she lost all of the weight. But it was amazing seeing her come into her own and see the beauty she was inside and out.

"Kiss Me, Cowboy," by Liz Talley is Georgia and Reed's story. Georgia isn't certain coming back to Holly Hills for Mary Catherine's wedding is a good idea. She has worked hard to make people forget about her lowly upbringing and she doesn't want to rehash old hurts. But when she meets veterinarian, Reed, she begins to remember how much she loved this small town and her girlhood friends. Georgia fights her battle, trying to live down the past and I applauded the fact that she finally realized that maybe a lot of those perceptions were her own and not what others were thinking about her. Loved her story.

"Marry Me, Cowboy," by Kim Law rounds out the anthology and brings the wedding to the forefront. The only problem is, it's the wrong groom. Mary Catherine is marrying the man she thinks everyone wants her to marry. She isn't marrying the man she loves. Jax is a bad boy with a heart of gold. She loved him once and almost ran away with him, but life got in the way. I loved the fact that MC leaving her groom at the altar didn't seem like such a bad thing. In fact it was perfect. A great ending to a good book.

Bottom Line:

All three stories were intertwined. I loved the fact that each on shared at least one scene with the other stories. The authors really complimented each other in how they worked the stories in together. I loved that the reader gets to experience all three stories and get three happy endings for the price of one. A great anthology, set during the holidays but not really dependent on them.

Cowboys for Christmas is available NOW from you favorite online retailer.

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





About the Author:


Liz Talley writes sassy Southern stories about the most wonderful feeling in the world - falling in love. She loves the feel of cool grass beneath her feet, the possibility of a blank page, and a good glass of wine. She is a former English teacher and has lived in South Carolina and New Orleans. Currently, Liz lives in North Louisiana with her high school sweetheart, two rough and tumble boys and a gaggle of pets. You can find out more about Liz at her website http://www.liztalleybooks.com




As a child, award-winning author Kim Law cultivated a love for chocolate, anything purple, and creative writing. She penned her debut work, "The Gigantic Talking Raisin," in the sixth grade and got hooked on the delights of creating stories. Before settling into the writing life, however, she earned a college degree in mathematics and then worked as a computer programmer--for far too many years. Now she's pursuing her lifelong dream of writing romance novels. She has won the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award, has been a finalist for the prestigious RWA RITA Award, and has served in varied positions for her local RWA chapter. A native of Kentucky, Kim lives with her husband and an assortment of animals in Middle Tennessee.

Visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kimlawauthor, her website at www.kimlaw.com, or find her on twitter @kim_law.





Author of the Amazon and Wall Street Journal bestselling Anchor Island Series, Terri Osburn started putting words on the page in 2007. Five years later, in 2012, she was named a finalist in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest for unpublished manuscripts. Shortly after, she signed with an agent and moved into publication, with her debut releasing from Montlake Romance in May 2013. Terri lives on the east coast with her teenage daughter, three frisky felines, and a hyper Yorkiepoo with attachment issues. 

To learn more about Terri, check out her website at www.terriosburn.com.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review: Unwrapped

Unwrapped (A Silver Creek Romance) by Maisey Yates

Publication Date: 11/18/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Intermix
Genre: Contemporary Romance
File Size: 962 KB
ASIN: B00DGZKYHA

(Received for an honest review from Intermix)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, itunes, Kobo

Maisey Yates on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Silver Creek

1. Unexpected
2. Untouched
3. Unbroken
Unbuttoned
Rekindled
Unwrapped

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Unwrapped, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

In USA Today bestselling author Maisey Yates’s latest Silver Creek Romance, a naughty Christmas wish turns into something so much more...

Kindergarten teacher Sarah Larsen has spent her whole life being the good girl. But now, she’s ready to do something bad. So wearing the shortest, tightest black dress she owns, she marches over to the nearest bar to fulfill her Christmas fantasy: a wild night with a total stranger.

Walker Callahan moved to Silver Creek to start fresh. He doesn’t want to bring his baggage into a relationship, so an evening of fun with the sexiest welcoming committee ever is just what he needs.


Thoughts:

Unwrapped is a sweet little holiday romance from Maisey Yates. It is a part of the Silver Creek series but can be read as a standalone. Readers looking for a quick holiday read that will leave them smiling and feeling full of the Christmas spirit will love this one. When a mild mannered kindergarten teacher decides to have her first one night stand, she doesn't expect to see her 'lover' later showing up in her classroom. 
A journey of self discovery and the healing of a broken heart will leave readers breathless with this holiday novella!

What I liked:

The Silver Creek series is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Maisy Yates knows how to write a great small town romance. Silver Creek is the kind of place readers would enjoy settling down to raise a family and that's exactly what hero, Walker Callahan had in mind when he decided to buy a ranch in Silver Creek. What he didn't expect was an indecent proposal from a young woman who is exploring her desires. I liked the fact that Yates portrays Sarah are a young woman, who everyone in town knows. They also know she has been sheltered and is very innocent and a bit eccentric. The locals who frequent the local bar had nothing to offer Sarah, but when Walker shows up everything changes.

The first encounter of hero and heroine in this book is a one night stand. Yes, that gets right to the point. For readers who can't wait to get to the good stuff, this one will certainly satisfy, but it doesn't seem contrived or too rushed despite the fact that it happens in the first chapter or so. It seemed like a natural thing for Sarah considering she has waited long enough as a virgin at age thirty. The story then builds on Sarah and Walker's attraction to each other and basically makes this first act a prelude to a great love story.

Sarah reminded me of myself when I was younger. She had gotten it into her head that men were somewhat evil and that having sex was sinful. That's a hard thing to overcome, let me tell you. I applauded her for trying her wings and finding out what she truly loved and enjoyed in a man, in and out of the bedroom. I liked the fact that she was quirky and a little unorthodox. I think that's exactly what Walker needed, but it took him awhile to figure it out. 

Walker seemed like the strong silent type, he was rugged and masculine and certainly made my heart flutter a little bit. He had been through the ringer with his ex-wife and her recent death was hard on him and his daughter. I loved the fact that he was trying to be a good father to Kayla, and the fact that he was human and still messed up even though he had the best of intentions. He was the kind of man that is a true hero in my eyes. Flawed yet faithful to try his best for those he loved. I wanted him to find happiness and I loved that Sarah made both him and Kayla happy.

Bottom Line:

This was such a lovely little story. I loved the Christmas backdrop from decorating the tree to throwing snowballs and especially the kindergartners singing at the tree lighting. I loved the romance that bloomed between the hero and heroine and I even liked the way they met. How many of us would really have the courage to go after what we wanted the way Sarah did? Not many!

Unwrapped is available in e-book format from your favorite online retailer NOW.

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


About the Author:


USA Today Bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit.   

In 2009, at the age of twenty-three Maisey sold her first book. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of sexy alpha males and happily ever afters, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Maisey divides her writing time between dark, passionate category romances  set just about everywhere on earth and light sexy contemporary romances set practically in her back yard. She believes that she clearly has the best job in the world. 

Review and Giveaway: Only Enchanting

Only Enchanting (Survivor's Club - Book 4) by Mary Balogh

Publication Date: 10/28/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
ISBN-10: 0451469666
ISBN-13: 978-0451469663

(Received for an honest review from Signet)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Mary Balogh on the WEB: websitefacebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Survivor's Club

1. The Proposal
2. The Arrangement
3. The Escape
4. Only Enchanting

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Only Enchanting, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

The Survivors' Club: Six men and one woman, all wounded in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendship forged during their recovery at Penderris Hall in Cornwall. Now, in the fourth novel of the Survivors' Club series, Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, has left this refuge to find his own salvation—in the love of a most unsuspecting woman.… 
 
Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, was devastated by his fiancĂ©e’s desertion after his return home.  Now the woman who broke his heart is back—and everyone is eager to revive their engagement. Except Flavian, who, in a panic, runs straight into the arms of a most sensible yet enchanting young woman.
 
Agnes Keeping has never been in love—and never wishes to be. But then she meets the charismatic Flavian, and suddenly Agnes falls so foolishly and so deeply that she agrees to his impetuous proposal of marriage.
 
When Agnes discovers that the proposal is only to avenge his former love, she’s determined to flee. But Flavian has no intention of letting his new bride go, especially now that he too has fallen so passionately and so unexpectedly in love.


Thoughts:

Only Enchanting is the fourth book in the Survivor's Club series by Mary Balogh. Balogh is one of the queen's of historical romance and she proves it with this series. The series follows several survivors from the Napoleonic Wars and chronicles their injuries both physical and emotional and how they find love and regain their optimism and dignity. With a great premise and a hero and heroine that are exceptional, Only Enchanting couldn't be better!

What I liked:

Mary Balogh is a master at writing to period. She has the Regency era down pat. Her characters know their place and don't act up. The circumstances are never outside the Regency box nor do they upset the apple cart by being too sexual or not sexual enough. That sounds pretty predictable doesn't it? Balogh's writing it anything but. She not only thinks up new and different plots for each of her books, but she is able to capture situations that the reader will find unique to the genre. Who would have thought to have a hero with a traumatic brain injury? Mary Balogh did!

Flavian is such an interesting man. Really all of the Survivor's Club members have their own special circumstances and situations to work through. I loved the whole premise of the series. These people have been through thick and thin together literally and helped each other through some of the most traumatic times in their lives. Each story could have been the same only changing a few details to distinguish them and this series would have been boring. But Balogh didn't go that route, in Only Enchanting she gives us Flavian, a man with a stutter, with holes in his memory and a need for a safe relationship. He was unique, interesting, sexy and lovable. Can't ask for much more than that in a good hero.

Agnes is a gal after my own heart. She is an artist, a widow, and she lives with her sister. But when she meets Flavian at a ball held by her best friend Sophie, she falls head over heels. I loved the fact that she didn't find Flavian's issues daunting or something that would keep her from loving him. She accepted that about him and she gave him the strength he needed to move forward. One thing I admired about her was that she didn't really find herself all that remarkable. She thought she was just your average woman, but she was so much more. Balogh's character development was flawless.

Flavian's old girlfriend who left him for his best friend ends up causing a bit of trouble, now that she is widowed and his family seems to think she is a perfect match for him, but Agnes proves to be exactly what he needs. I like a good villain and this chick fit the bill. She started rumors and she said a few uncalled for things, but in the end she got was was coming to her and the hero and heroine got their happily ever after. 

Bottom Line:

This is Balogh at her best. She takes the constraints of the Regency period and stamps it with her own special blend of romance and passion. I loved the characters and thought they played well with each other. She didn't overstate the sex, but she made it feel natural and not too overdone. I liked this one a lot and I think many readers will too.

Only Enchanted is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Mary Balogh is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, including the acclaimed Slightly and Simply novels, the Mistress trilogy, and the five titles in her Huxtable series:First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Seduction, At Last Comes Love, Seducing an Angel, and A Secret Affair.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Only Enchanted by Mary Balogh.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, December 10th.

1. Please leave a comment. Do you think love at first sight is possible?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Kraken King

The Kraken King (Iron Seas - Book 4) by Meljean Brook

Publication Date: 11/04/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Pages: 576
ISBN-10: 0425256057
ISBN-13: 978-0425256053

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound

Meljean Brook on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Iron Seas

0.4. The Blushing Bounder
0.5. Here There Be Monsters
   1. The Iron Duke
   2. Heart of Steel
   3. Riveted
   4. The Kraken King

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, The Kraken King, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

Experience the incredible adventure and heart-stopping romance of the Iron Seas in this thrilling steampunk tale from New York Times bestselling author Meljean Brook. 

A former smuggler and thief, Ariq--better known as the Kraken King--doesn't know what to make of the clever, mysterious woman he rescues from an airship besieged by marauders. Unsure if she's a spy or a pawn in someone else's game, Ariq isn't about to let her out of his sight until he finds out... 

After escaping her fourth kidnapping attempt in a year, Zenobia Fox has learned to vigilantly guard her identity. While her brother Archimedes is notorious for his exploits, Zenobia has had no adventures to call her own--besides the stories she writes.

But when she jumps at the chance to escape to the wilds of Australia and acquire research for her next story, Zenobia quickly discovers that the voyage will be far more adventurous than any fiction she could put to paper...


Thoughts:

Meljean Brook brings readers the fourth book in the Iron Seas series, The Kraken King. Some readers may have read this story in it's serialized e-book version with eight separate parts, but the experience of reading it altogether is simply amazing. Brook's world building is unique and complex, her characters are diverse and multi-faceted and her attention to detail provides astounding visual imagery. If you read only one steampunk novel this year, this MUST be the one!

What I liked:

I have been a fan of steampunk romance since it's inception. This alternative Victorian-esque world is just fascinating to me. But let's face it, this is the kind of sub-genre that either an author gets right or they don't. There are a lot of steampunk author's that just can't quite pull it off. Meljean Brook is not one of them. She is flawless in her execution. Her plots are so intricate and complex. The tension is riveting and the adventure both emotionally and physically are extremely satisfying. This lady knows how to write steampunk and probably anything else she tries her hand at. But I'll have to say, this particular novel is by far her best yet.

The Kraken King was originally an eight part serial story and now readers have it all in one place and are able to experience it in a whole new way. The transitions are seamless and Brook couldn't have done it better had it been altogether from the start. I think serial's appeal to readers who like instant gratification, LOL. It gives that that little bit of story the need, almost like a fix. And then they get a little more and a little more. Myself, I prefer to devour it all at one time. I like big, thick books that monopolize my time and energy. But truly I think I would have liked this book any way I could get it!

Zenobia was a wise and honest character. She was used to having adventures through her own writing and vicariously through her brother, but she hadn't really experienced it for herself. When she decided to have an adventure, she doesn't go half way and neither does Meljean Brook. Zenobia could be considered a spinster. She is a little backward, but she is resourceful, strong and has a bit of nobility about her. It only seemed natural that she fall in love with a warrior.

Ariq was an amazing hero. When readers meet him, he is looking for his brother, who he fears has done himself harm. The depth of his care for his brother mirrored his feelings for his people and I enjoyed seeing that side of him. He was determined to find out what the marauders were up to and who they were working for. But it wasn't just a selfish need to know what was going on. His heart was in the right place and even though he is known for his fierceness and grit, he still shows a vulnerable side, to Zenobia. They were perfect together.

The tension both sexually and emotionally was palpable with these two characters. Ariq was sexy and Zenobia was fierce. Their personalities were so perfectly suited for each other. It was amazing watching their romance unfold in the midst of all the action and adventure going on around them. It was a pivotal to the story and Brook makes it seem like a natural occurrence. Like a storm on the horizon. They just keep getting closer and closer. Brook makes the reader believe in happy endings!

The action was spot on in this book. It was necessary. It was not overdone and it provided a lot of the conflict for the story. Ariq and Zenobia have their challenges within their relationship but what is going on around them seems so vital and important that the little things go unnoticed. This book had all the political intrigue of a mainstream thriller, yet it easily pulled off the romance angle. The visual imagery alone was enough to make any reader set up and take notice. 

Bottom Line:

This book was simply amazing. If you've ever considered trying steampunk, Meljean Brook is the author and the Iron Seas series is the only place to start. This is my favorite book in the series and quite frankly one of my favorite books of the year. I can't say enough good things about it. The Kraken King is the best of the series to date and I look forward to more from this amazing author and series!

The Kraken King is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag! (Ok... maybe 10!)




About the Author:


Meljean was raised in the middle of the woods, and hid under her blankets at night with fairy tales, comic books, and romances. She left the forest and went on a misguided tour through the world of accounting before focusing on her first loves, reading and writing-and she realized that monsters, superheroes, and happily-ever-afters are easily found between the covers, as well as under them, so she set out to make her own.

Meljean lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter.



Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Kraken King by Meljean Brook.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, December 9th.

1. Please leave a comment. What do you think of steampunk romances?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review and Giveaway: Surrender

 Surrender (A Disarm Novel) by June Gray

Publication Date: 11/04/2014

Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Books
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425272141
ISBN-13: 978-0425272145

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Books)


June Gray on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Disarm

1. Disarm
2. Besiege
3. Retreat
4. The Henry Sessions
5. Engage 
6. Capture
Arrest
Surrender

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.



Excerpt from, Surrender, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

WARNING: This novel may inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

Synopsis:

Bestselling author June Gray’s romances have been praised as “scorching hot”(MsRomantic Reads). Now, in her latest scintillating read, one woman is torn between remembering her past and committing to an unpredictable future...

Julie Keaton had everything—she had a new career in a new city and, more importantly, a bright future with fiance, Jason Sherman. That is, until the day she discovered that he had been killed in Afghanistan. In one moment, her life changed, as everything she’d hoped for died along with him.

Years later and Julie still feels the aftershocks of Jason’s death. She is no longer the same adventurous, open girl; now she wears armor around her heart in order to protect the most important thing in her life—her son.

But when Julie meets the mysterious Neal, she starts to feel the smallest flicker of hope, as what began as a fling quickly becomes something more. Neal is the first man since Jason’s death to break down her armor and make her believe again. But when she discovers the secret he’s been keeping, she has to ask herself: can she surrender to a future with Neal or will Jason’s death forever tie her to the past?

Thoughts:

Though not exactly a part of the Disarm series, June Gray's new book, Surrender uses secondary characters from that series as the main characters for this book. Making the characters familiar but not overly explored. Gray has a way with military romance due to her own experience that gives this book an authentic feel, while also putting the author's own spin on it. Readers looking for a hot read, that has some substance behind it will find this one a good next read.

What I liked:

Having read June Gray's Disarm series and falling in love with Elsie and Henry, I was excited about this book coming out. Julie would have been Elsie's sister-in-law, had Jason, Elsie's brother not been killed in Afghanistan. I liked the fact that Julie was someone I felt like I already knew, but didn't know very well. It made her story resonate all the more. A chance meeting on the beach with Neal turns into something more when Julie realizes that Neal is also a guest at Elsie and Henry's wedding. I liked the feel of destiny about their meeting. Like they were meant to meet each other day, fate if you will.

Julie was a single mom who was really only interested in hooking up with Neal for the short term. Given the fact that her parents had a very rocky relationship and that she had lost someone she loved very much, I could sympathize with Julie's issues regarding commitment. To me it was really all a matter of not letting herself be hurt again. If you don't let it to that far it can't come back to bite you. But with Neal it was different. Julie did continue to struggle though, long after I thought she should have been willing to give Neal a chance. She didn't tell him about her son for the longest time and he didn't tell her about the fact that he was in the reserves. It just felt like their relationship was not built on honesty. Eventually they get around to it, but it felt like an afterthought and not what a good romance should be based on. 

Julie keeps going over and over her relationship with Jason. There were a lot of flashbacks and I found that very distracting. Yes, some of it was necessary, but I think Gray went a little overboard by letting it consume too much of the story. She was constantly comparing her relationship with Neal to her relationship with Jason and I wasn't really sure why it had to be that way. 

There was a lot of hot and steamy parts to the book that were realistic if you look at it from the stand point of a one night stand or a quick fling, but a little disconcerting when you think about building a lasting relationship on that kind of foundation. I liked the chemistry between Neal and Julie and they were honest about what they wanted in bed, if they were not honest about anything else.

Bottom Line:

This one wasn't really my cup of tea. The writing was just as good as any of Gray's previous books, but the connection between the lead characters was just not of the caliber I had come to expect from the author. It was a bit too superficial for me and the heroine had so many issues it was hard to see how a relationship would work with her and anyone. 

Surrender is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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


About the Author:

June Gray is a daydreamer who, at the age of ten, penned a short story inspired by a Judy Blume novel and has been unable to stop writing since. She loves to tell stories that titillate and enrage, that break the reader’s heart and put it back together again.

Her fairy-tale life has been lived on four different continents—most recently, in a two-hundred-forty-year-old castle in rural Germany owned by a Graf. She was born in the Philippines, raised in Australia, and now calls the United States home, and she can currently be found enjoying the shores of Miami with her husband, two daughters, and a miniature schnauzer.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Surrender by June Gray.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, December 9th.

1. Please leave a comment. What you think it takes to move on from either a bad break up or losing someone?
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Rogue Spy

Rogue Spy (Spymaster's Lady - Book 5) by JoAnna Bourne

Publication Date: 11/04/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0425260828
ISBN-13: 978-0425260821

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

JoAnna Bourne on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Spymaster's Lady

1. The Spymaster's Lady
2. My Lord and Spymaster
3. The Forbidden Rose
4. The Black Hawk
5. Rogue Spy

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Rogue Spy, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

~Chosen as one of Library Journal's Best Romances of 2014~  
For years he’d lived a lie. It was time to tell the truth . . . even if it cost him the woman he loved.  
Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever…


Thoughts:

Joanna Bourne continues her Spymasters series with the fifth installment, Rogue Spy. Readers are treated to a story that doesn't follow the normal Regency conventions. There are no smug debutantes or plots that can be figured out by a five year old. Bourne gives readers a complex and intriguing story surrounding the French Revolution. With strong and interesting characters and enough espionage to keep readers flipping the pages, this is a great new book from a talented author.

What I liked:

This was my first book by Joanna Bourne, but it certainly won't be my last. I'm definitely picking up the rest of the books in this series. I've have read tons of Regency romances and they tend to have a lot of things in common and they can get to be extremely predictable. Not so with this book. The angle of the French Revolution was unexpected and it added a different sort of atmosphere to the story. To be honest I don't know that much about the French Revolution but this book made me want to know more and that's pretty extraordinary. 

The hero and heroine in Rogue Spy have a cryptic past. They have had their lives turned completely upside down by the Revolution. They were orphaned by it and then used by it. Trained as a cache, a child who would be exploited as a spy for the French against the British both Cami and Pax have been living a lie for many years. Now Cami is threatened along with the people she has come to know and love in Britain. When she meets up with Pax for the first time in years it's a shock to both of them. I loved the way that Bourne gives us two characters who have based their lives on lies, yet there is such an innocence in the way they react to each other. I also liked the role reversal in the fact that Cami is experienced and Pax is still a virgin. Definitely not what I was expecting. There is just a quality to the book that makes the reader believe in true love, despite any kind of obstacle.

Throughout the book I couldn't help but feel the pivotal point was whether or not these characters were villains or heroes. What made it so interesting was that I couldn't really figure it out. A lot of it was due to the circumstances, but they had to be on the same side to make the relationship work and Bourne kept me guessing all the way through. Was Pax loyal to England? Was Cami loyal to France? Was it possible to make the two parts of their lives work together. Did it really matter? Of course it did. 

This was not your grandma's Regency tale. This book was so unpredictable. I didn't have a clue what was going to happen next I just knew I had to keep reading to find out. This was probably one of the most intriguing historical romances I have read in a long time and that made me really want to read more from the author and find out about the other couples and books that have come before this one. Bourne was able to captivate me and that's saying a lot.

Bottom Line:

This was an excellent book. I loved everything about it. From the honesty of the characters to the complexity of the plot. Joanna Bourne makes spying and espionage really fun to read about and it made me want to know more about the French Revolution. Who studies the French Revolution for fun? Yep, that's going way beyond the book. 

Rogue Spy is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Joanna Bourne is the award-winning author of the Spymaster series: Spymaster's Lady, My Lord and Spymaster, Forbidden Rose, Black Hawk, and her latest, Rogue Spy.Joanna credits a lifelong fascination with history, her many beloved Romance books, and the pulp classic tales of fantastical adventure as the inspiration of her stories. She's drawn to Revolutionary and Napoleonic France and Regency England because, as she puts it, "It was a time of love and sacrifice, daring deeds, clashing ideals, and really cool clothing."

Joanna lived many years in England and France, the settings of the Spymaster series.  Nowadays she makes her home on a mountaintop in the Appalachians with her family, a peculiar cat, and an old brown country dog.



Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Rogue Spy by JoAnna Bourne.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, December 8th.

1. Please leave a comment. Have you read any of the other Spymaster's Lady books by JoAnna Bourne? If so, what did you think? If not, what draws you to this one?

2. Please fill out the FORM.