Tag Archives: Donna Grant

Don’t Miss It! Upcoming Books, New Releases and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, March 30, 2014

30 Mar

Upcoming Books and New Releases

Veronica Scott who wrote the fascinating paranormal/historical romance The Gods of Egypt series, released her next book, Magic of the Nile, featuring a high priestess whose life is dedicated to the Crocodile God who physically healed her from the abuse she suffered as a child. When Pharaoh sends his handsome captain to ask for her help, she could not imagine how turned upside down her life will be, as she is forced to find a dark sorcerer deep in Pharaoh’s court and the man she loves may or may not help her.

Stacy Gail has a hit series on her hands with her Earth Angels, so fans will be happy to note that the latest addition, Dangerous Angel, comes out tomorrow on March 31st. Based on the premise of the forbidden descendants of angels and humans walk among us, hiding their powers while fighting evil on behalf of unknowing humans, this fourth book in the series shows us a bounty hunter who is more than a little distracted by his rival, a sexy woman who impersonates a stripper to get close to man she needs to bring in before our hero. When the situation is complicated by something not quite human, nothing will stop this angel from having the woman who is his perfect match while also stopping a possible apocalypse.

There are just not enough Rugby heroes in the world, but thankfully we have Kat Latham to fill the gap for us with her London Legends series. I can’t say enough about her first book, Knowing the Score, and as a result I’m eager to devour the next book, Playing It Close, when it debuts on April 14th. When a famous rugby player and an unemployed office worker meet in a remote Venezuela locale, both use assumed names to avoid complications. Naturally it’s a surprise to be back in London and have our heroine end up with a job with the rugby team’s official sponsor, but that’s not going to dissuade the hero from pursuing the woman from the hottest night of his life. Thank heavens!

No cover image or ebook version as of yet, but Lauren Dane fans do have a link to the first in her The Hurley Boys series (a spin off of her Delicious series books), The Best Kind of Trouble. This series was picked up by Harlequin and I can tell you why (beyond Lauren Dane being an amazing writer). The Hurley Boys, who we met in the last Delicious book, Lush, are a highly successful rock band who retreat to their lovely family farm to record and be normal when they aren’t surrounded by adoring fans. Since this book has not only the sexy Paddy Hurley but also the naughty librarian with whom he once shared a couple blazing weeks, I am so on board. That I have to wait until August 26th seems cruel, but knowing Lauren Dane it will be totally worth it!

Contests and Giveaways

Avon Publishing (which has a terrific reader community for fans, BTW) is offering a wonderful contest for fans of historical romance. Their Historical Romance Spring Giveaway includes four of their recently released paperback books (out as of March 25, 2014): Eloisa James’ Three Weeks with Lady X Julie Anne Long’s Between the Devil and Ian Eversea, Jennifer McQuiston’s Moonlight on My Mind, and Maya Rodale’s Wallflower Gone Wild, as well as a pair of handmade Regency-inspired earrings. A $70 value and all you have to do is fill out the entry form before April 25th for a chance to win!

Fun Stuff

The Literary Gift Company is a breath of fresh air in terms of the funny (and often delicious) gifts they offer. While I wish I lived in Great Britain (for many reasons) they do ship internationally, so you may want to consider ordering one of their quotable chocolate bars as an award-winning gift (or hell, just for yourself). Whether it’s Mr. Darcy’s famous quote to your main squeeze (“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”) or Louisa May Alcott’s friendship quote given to your BFF (“Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.”), there are plenty of delicious options to choose from.

When readers, especially those who love used bookstores or wandering vast stacks in the library, get together, invariably one of them will mention an addiction to the smell of old books. While you can’t deliver the Bodleian Library in a jar, you can give them the next best thing. Frostbeard Studios has a soy candle entitled Old Books – Book Lovers’ Scented Soy Candle which claims to have captured an earthy, papery smell with a hint of must and newsprint. For a mere $15 for a long lasting candle, this affordable option could be what everyone needs to transport themselves for quiet reading via a little olfactory incentive. Shhhhhhhh. (BTW, they also sell Bookstore and Trashy Romance Novel candles as well – I’ll be getting a bundle!)

Great Deals

Just this week, Nora Roberts’ Mackade Brothers series (four books in all) are each on sale in ebook form for only $1.99 each. This Maryland town doesn’t seem big enough to hold four sexy brothers, all of whom are due to succumb to the one woman who can tame their wild ways, but at around 250 pages each, this is a terrific bargain and one to add to your Nora Roberts collection!

I cannot remember a time I was more excited about a $.99 bundle, but the Alphas After Dark: 9 Book Bundle of Sexy Alpha Biker Bad Boys has sent me into the stratosphere! Not only does this have the next book in Kit Rocha‘s dystopian erotic Beyond series, Beyond Solitude (*whimper*) but it also a Roxie Rivera spinoff from Her Russian Protector series (they are like crack cocaine, be warned), Rumpel’s Prize, the eighth book in Marie Hall‘s fairy tale based Kingdom Series, which I love, plus Vivian Arend‘s first book in her wildly successful Takhini Shifters series, Copper King. And that’s just four of them! While not familiar with the other five authors, any one of the above books would be worth $.99, so to get all four of them for that price – with the chance I’ll also find a new author with the other five – is a dazzling bargain.

An impressive boxed set we will have to wait a lot longer for is the Masters of Seduction: Paranormal Boxed Set, which features an actual series written by four outstanding writers – Lara Adrian (of Midnight Breed fame), Donna Grant (Highlanders, anyone?), Laura Wright (love her Bayou Heat novels) and Alexandra Ivy (co-author of those great Bayou Heat novels!). Conceived by the authors together, each book builds upon the other and features the same world populated by Incubi. None of the books have been published prior to this release, so immediate gratification junkies will get the first four books of the series in one shot. At only $.99, that seems a good gamble considering the best-selling chops of these four ladies. The only drawback? It’s not out until July 14th, but I’ve pre-ordered to lock in this amazing price.

That’s it for this week. Happy reading everyone!

Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Sunday, March 23, 2014

23 Mar

Sorry to have been away so long. We have a lot to catch up on!

Upcoming Books and New Releases

 Anyone who reads this blog knows my undying admiration for Nalini Singh, who has captivated me with both her amazing Guild Hunter series (for urban fantasy or angel fans) as well as the fabulous Psy-Changeling series, which features the SnowDancer Wolves and DarkRiver Leopards and the humans and Psy who interact with them as the world inches closer to a major change. Now Whisper of Sin, a terrific novella that is one of the prequels in the Psy-Changeling series, is available as a stand alone novella for only $2.99 as of late February. Previously only published in the Burning Up anthology (published in 2010 and containing a great novella from Meljean Brook from her Iron Seas steampunk series), this novella tells the story of high-ranked soldier Emmett and how he helps rescue a human in San Francisco’s Chinatown only to realize that she is his mate.

Bella Andre‘s Sullivan series fans will want to make sure that the latest volume of the Sullivans series, Just To Be With You, made it to their mailbox or ereader on March 5th (and if it didn’t, get on it!). Can you believe it’s the 12th book in this hit series? These Seattle Sullivans are just as compelling as their California cousins, with the jaded, successful CEO of Sullivan Investments, Ian Sullivan, about to fall for the gorgeous actress, Tatiana Landon. She’s been waiting for a strong love like this, but with Ian’s history of failed relationships, nothing is going to be easy about this happily ever after.

Donna Grant knows her Highlanders, which is probably one of the reasons she’s begun a new novella series, Rogues of Scotland (love the name). First up is The Craving, which came out on March 6th and features a woman who retreats to her family home in order to mend a betrayed heart, only to find a man trapped by a woman and a gypsy curse in a mirror. Trusting and loving the woman who finds him will take a leap of faith he’s not sure he can give, but it might be the only way to set them both free.

Historical romance writer Katharine Ashe just came out with her first book in a new (self-published?) Regency series, My Lady, My Lord, on March 10th and it looks wonderful. When an intelligent book reading lady is forced to give the time of day to her libertine neighbor, sparks are sure to fly, particularly since he adores torturing her as much as watching fast horses at the races. At only $2.99 for over 300 pages, Ashe fans have quite a bit to rub their hands in glee about.

Kit Rocha‘s unbelievably good erotic dystopian Beyond series finally added Beyond Jealousy this week, and weren’t we all waiting with baited breath? Tattoo artist and former gigilo Ace has wanted Rachel from the moment she left her comfortable, sheltered life and became an O’Kane to settle her father’s debt, but all he’s done is hurt her, especially after he became a couple with a man she had tried a relationship with, the resident hero and former special ops soldier, Cruz. Neither Cruz nor Ace have ever stopped loving Rachel so when the opportunity presents itself for all three of them to come together, the results are combustible, particularly in trying to work through everyone’s emotional baggage while a major turf war erupts in the sector.

We all know what a fangirl I am for anything written by Jennifer Ashley and I have big circles on my calendar for every installment of her Shifters Unbound series. Well, Feral Heat, Jace and Deni’s story, came out this week and it did NOT disappoint! This novella is right between the two full-length novels, Tiger Magic and the upcoming Wild Wolf (April 1st cannot get here soon enough), and is just as phenomenal as every other book in the series. It’s a hot, sexy love story that still manages to propel her fascinating story arc of the shifters attempting to discover how to rid themselves of the collars that keep them second class citizens. This author does not know how to write a mediocre book and I for one applaud her high standards!! Did I also mention this outstanding volume is only $1.99 and it’s not a short novella, but a meaty one equaling a lot of category romance novels. Great writing and an awesome value – I heart Jennifer Ashley!

Book seven of Eloisa James‘ Desperate Duchesses series will come out on March 25th, and Three Weeks With Lady X looks like a keeper. A bastard son of a duke needs to marry a woman with a serious reputation and he turns to Lady Xenobia India, an independent woman who quickly becomes the focus of his efforts. But this woman is no wallflower to go into a marriage of convenience, and the gentleman in question finds he must give everything to get everything if she’s to agree to his terms. Keep in mind if you pre-order this puppy and provide proof of your purchase with a picture of a receipt or a screenshot of your browser screen confirming your purchase, James is having a contest for a lucky reader to get special bonus content sent directly from her!

Also out on March 25th is the next book in Nora Roberts‘ latest trilogy, The Cousins O’Dwyer, Shadow Spell. This fantastic series has a strong paranormal story arc linking an Irish brother and sister and their American cousin to their long ago Irish ancestors. With evil sorcerers, plenty of magic and an abundance of animal familiars set in the Irish countryside, Roberts’ fans get to see this writer in her element once more. Don’t worry about having to wait too long for the final volume. The third book, Blood Magick, will be out on November 4th and is already available for pre-order.

March 25th is clearly a big day for romance, since Lori Foster’s next book in her Love Undercover series, Dash of Peril, also debuts. This series is outstanding, and I for one am eager to see construction business owner Dash help his brother’s frosty lieutenant take down nefarious human traffickers with a little heat on the side. Mrrrrooowww. If you haven’t yet indulged in this series, get your butt in gear as there are sexy alpha males galore as well as beautiful woman who inspire fierce protectiveness and love in the worst of circumstances. So good!!

It’s never too early to begin looking at the spring releases (and pre-ordering them to lock in great prices). Elle Kennedy has an addition to her Killer Instincts series coming down the pike on April 1st, and fans of “mercenaries with a heart” stories will want to take note of Midnight Pursuits. The fourth in this highly rated series has a rookie to the group assigned to assist a loner deep in Eastern Europe on a mission gone horribly wrong. While she usually has no use for working with someone, this former Marine has a skill set that she can definitely use…and the heat between them seems to have the added bonus of warming her cold heart.

In addition to the Cousin’s O’Dwyer paranormal novel mentioned above, Nora Roberts also has one of her romantic suspense novels, this one entitled The Collector, due out in hardcover on April 15th. When a professional apartment sitter is the sole witness to a heinous crime, the brother of the main suspect seeks her help as he knows his sibling could not possibly be responsible. The two are drawn closer as they come closer to discovering the actual perpetrator, hopefully before it’s too late.

Historical romance author Amanda Quick announced she will be publishing a stand alone novel, Otherwise Engaged on April 22nd, featuring her usual brand of bold heroine (this one a world traveler) who finds herself the target of a madmen obsessed by her name being linked to that of a gentleman scientist. That the man in question is also a spy for the crown thickens the plot and he has no intention of her reputation suffering – or of the fiery beauty getting hurt – due to his actions.

Paranormal doyenne Christine Feehan will be publishing the third book of her Sisters of the Heart series (a spin off grouping that takes place in the same town as the Drake Sisters books), Air Boundon May 27th. Each book focuses on one of six women who have come together as part of a special grief support group for women who have lost someone to violent crime. The heroine of this book not only suffered with her paranormal ability by growing up in a special government facility, but also recently lost her mother at the hands of a murderer. Kidnapped and aboard a ship, she finds herself at the mercy of an intriguing captor, one who intended to use her for his own purposes, only to find himself drawn to her instead.

Maya Banks‘ KGI series fans need to circle June 24th on their calendar as that is the publication date for the next novel in this wildly successful series, When Day Breaks. When a wounded and scarred Afghanistan veteran is assigned to protect a stunning model with a violent stalker, no one could have predicted that these two people would find something in common. But serious heat and attraction exists and neither party is about to let a murderous stalker get in the way.

The husband-and-wife writing team of Ilona Andrews have been blogging for months about a paranormal romance they have been working on for Avon Publishing – and the link is finally live! The official name is Burn For Me and it will be the first of their Hidden Legacy trilogy which the authors have confessed is more like a paranormal political thriller versus the paranormal heroic journey/police procedural of the Kate Daniels series (which is phenomenal). As the only thing I wish for in the Kate Daniels series is a little more sexy times between Kate and Curran, I was thrilled to hear that the heat level is a bit more “fan yourself” in this upcoming work. The only bad news? We’ll have to wait until October 28th for it to come out, but with the current ebook price at a mere $4.99 for almost 400 pages, it’s worth pre-ordering now in case the price raises a little closer to the fall.

Contests and Giveaways

Paranormal author Robin D. Owens is embarking on an urban fantasy series starring a woman who can see ghosts and the sheriff who finds himself drawn into her life, all with a Western setting. The aptly named Ghost Seer (series with the same name) is debuting on April 1st and from now until March 24th, you can enter a contest on Goodreads to win a copy of the book. With the second book due out in early September, fans of instant gratification won’t have long to wait to see how this storyline develops.

You can win a signed copy of the first book in historical romance writer Elizabeth Hoyt‘s Prince series, The Raven Prince, which came out in both in 2006 and then was reissued under a new (and gorgeous) cover in 2012. When a widow in dire financial straits is almost mowed down by a aristocrat in desperate need of a secretary, problems for everyone seem solved, except that the Earl’s newest secretary takes exception at his decision to visit a brothel to assuage his “manly” needs…and so she decides to be a mystery woman who will take care of his every wish, in and out of the study. Enter before March 31st to win your autographed copy!

Category romance fans who enjoy the secret baby trope will definitely want to put Andrea Laurence‘s His Lover’s Little Secret (a Harlequin Desire novel out on April 1st) on their to-read list. When a millionaire has a chance run in with the lover he never forgot, he can do the math and realizes her little son is his child – and he’s not about to let either of them go. But while the mother of his son might be willing to let him into their life, she’s not about to give into his bossy ways and let him into her heart again. Enter by March 31st for a chance to win a copy.

Fun Stuff

If you are looking for a fun activity for a bachelorette party or your best friends’ sleepover, look no further than Pornogami: A Guide to the Ancient Art of Paper-Folding for Adults. Actually written by a master of the art of origami, this guide takes a beginner through making fun looking spermatozoa all the way to a realistic vajayjay. Do I hear a drinking game coming out of this book? You bet I do.

Allison Yates at the Kinsey Confidential blog has an intriguing post about the recent startling mannequins which appeared in the American Apparel stores on Valentine’s Day who clearly were sporting bushy pubic hair amidst all their provocative underwear. The rubbernecking by passers-by was purportedly astonishing (and these are jaded New Yorkers we are talking about) but Yates dissects some fascinating trends and insights regarding our culture’s view of sexuality and body hair.

Librarian and romance lover Amy Alessio put up a wonderful article in honor of St. Patrick’s Day on the Romance University blog featuring some perennial favorite books featuring Ireland (or sexy Irish heroes and heroines). From J. D. Robb’s Roarke to Mary Jo Putney’s Irish setting in Sometimes a Rogue, she’s picked some winners worth reading.

I’m a big fan of the Etsy shop, Spunky Fluff, who produces amazing signs with heart-inspiring sayings to adorn your walls. Whether it’s “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” or “Suck It Up Buttercup” these wall adornments always seem to contain heart and humor. With the majority of stock ranging between $40 to $60 and around 12 x 18 inches, these signs come in colors to match any decor and are truly unique items that will inspire a smile and a sigh each day.

Great Deals

There are a lot of good boxed sets and there are a LOT of “meh” boxed sets, but this one looks fabulous! Fated Mates: The Alpha Shifter Boxed Set offers readers twelve shifter books by authors such as Adriana Hunter, Georgette St. Clair and Eve Langlais among others – for only $.99! Just out on March 4th, the description page warns that the special price is for a limited time (and then it will go to $9.99, still a bargain) so get it at the special price while it lasts.

Carrie Ann Ryan has got a terrific book bundle for the first three books in her Dante’s Circle series, featuring paranormal creatures who find their future in the form of humans with a bit of the otherwordly in them. Usually these books go for $3.99 each, but you can get over 650 pages of the three novels together for only $2.99 right now. Yowza! Grab it before the fourth book, Tangled Innocence, comes out in April.

Tawny Weber‘s fun short, Rules of Engagement, is only $.99 and it’s a good example of the great brand of military hero you get when signing on board for a Weber romance. When a woman who has always crushed on her brother’s best friend finds herself being propositioned for hot sex in a moonlight garden she says, “yes!” knowing she’s not his type. While the hero has always steered clear of the feisty due to the sister card and the fact that she’s nothing like the petite, little woman types he’s preferred in the past, he’s a little astonished to discover what his “rules of engagement” have been designed to discover – the perfect woman for him – might have been all wrong all this time.

Six well-known romantic suspense authors – Elisabeth Naughton, Alexandra Ivy, Cynthia Eden, Laura Wright, Katie Reus, and Joan Swan – have banded together to produce the Sinful Seconds Boxed Set (meant to follow their other highly successful set, Wicked Firsts). Out on St. Patrick’s Day, you’re the one who will feel lucky reading quality books from these best-selling authors, it’s only $2.99 (and the preceding boxed set has been marked down to a mere $.99) so read the descriptions and see if these tempting novels should be in your ereader.

Fans of romantic suspense (particularly ones who enjoy the occasional paranormal element) will want to pre-order the great bargain, Dangerous Dozen Romantic Suspense Box Set while it’s only $.99 for twelve books by authors like Paige Tyler, Maureen Child, Tawny Weber, Nina Bruhns, and Charity Pineiro among others. Nothing like getting 3300 pages (no, that is not a typo) for this kind of bargain, right? Undercover cops, investigative reporters and determined shifters pepper these pages, but that price seems to have a deadline, so I plan on ordering this long before its April 7th release date and encourage you to do the same!

That’s it for this week. Happy reading! :-)

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, December 15, 2013

15 Dec

Upcoming Books and Recent Releases

It’s well known that I feel Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster series is one of the best Regency romance series out there, so I’m pleased to see that Avon Publishing is cleverly releasing the first three books of it (and they are AWESOME) as a e-bundle for people wanting to try it. Available as of December 17th, Cynsters: The Beginning includes Devil’s Bride, A Rake’s Vow and Scandal’s Bride and will cost only $13.59, a massive discount from the $7.99 for each book which is the standard retail price.

Angela Knight announced the prequel to her successful Magverse series, Wicked Games, will be released as of April 1, 2014. Containing not only the story that started this fantastic reinterpretation of Arthurian tales (think sexy vampires as knights and plenty of magic), it also bundles several previously released e-tales which have been revised and expanded for this anthology.

Vivian Arend’s next novel in her Thompson & Son series, Baby, Be Mine, will be published on February 25, 2014. This book combines a friends to lovers trope along with a surprise baby and amnesia when Gage Jenick takes advantage of long-time friend and hottie Katy Thompson kicking her boyfriend to the curb, even if his work is going to make him incommunicado for a couple of months. What he didn’t anticipate was that his girlfriend would have no memory of him or their incredible night together after she is involved in a car crash. While Katy wonders why Gage returns acting so territorial around her, she’s way more interested in how on earth she could be pregnant? In Arend’s hands, this is bound to be pure gold, so pre-order now!

Arend is going to win the busy bee award in February, considering that earlier in the month she also has the next installment of her Adrenaline Search & Rescue series, High Seduction coming out on February 4th. Armchair adrenaline junkies will definitely want to pre-order this puppy, a sexy chopper pilot looking for someone else to take control in the bedroom and the old flame paramedic who is more than happy to give her exactly what she needs.

Contests and Giveaways

Hustle over to Goodreads today for a chance to enter the historical romance anthology At the Duke’s Wedding, featuring stories by such powerhouse authors as Caroline Linden, Katharine Ashe, Miranda Neville and Maya Rodale. Enter by December 15th for a chance at these stories in print form for the first time!

Vampire Book Club, a blog whose reviews can always be counted on to inform, is offering a fabulous Urban Fantasy giveaway, with books by Adrian Phoenix, Jess Haines, Christina Henry and Eileen Rendahl to populate your bookshelves. Get over there before December 19th to enter for your chance to win!

With a mid-week deadline, another giveaway worth entering is for the first book of Emma Barron‘s Tropical Nights series, Exposed, which ends on December 18th. When a reporter is assigned the interview of a reclusive CEO, she thinks it’s a run-of-the-mill assignment not realizing her boss has led the company to believe that it’s a write up for a major economics journal and not the gossip magazine she works for. But both this sexy businessman and determined reporter have had their heart burned before, so as they realize that this interview is revealing their desire for one another as well as the facts, the question remains if they can get past their trepidation to find something real together.

Contemporary author Leah Braemel is participating in the Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop, offering a $10 Amazon or B&N card as a present to a lucky visitor who participated in her Rafflecopter giveaway by December 19th. For an even bigger prize (and a bit of guide through the Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop) head to P. J. Schnyder‘s blog and look at her giveaway which garners you entries via tweeting and commenting at the various participants blogs. In addition to Braemel and Schnyder (two excellent authors) they’re joined by such wonderful authors as Laura Kaye (of Hard As It Gets fame), Christine d’Abo, Christi Barth, Cat Johnson, and Dana Marie Bell among others. Enter before December 20th to see if Santa is going to give you something electronic under your tree via a $200 gift card to Best Buy if you manage to win this one!

Speaking of the Cynster saga (see the Upcoming Books and New Releases entry above), Goodreads is having a giveaway of one of the spin-off books from that Regency saga, Where the Heart Leads, the first in The Casebook of Barnaby Adair series. Currently the only entry in that series, Laurens recently announced she’ll be adding several books to it and I’m elated, as Barnaby, the aristocrat with a penchant for investigation via London’s burgeoning police force is a favorite of mine! This book is the one where he falls for the cerebral yet beautiful Lady Penelope Ashford, and it’s a doozy with some of my favorite characters making appearances. Enter before December 20th for your chance to win!

New York Times Best-Selling author Donna Grant is having a Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway on her Facebook page where she is posting lovely daily prizes for commenters (like $50 bookseller gift cards!), so head over there and start contributing! I imagine they’ll just keep getting better and better the closer to Christmas we get. :-)

It’s tough not to giggle at some of Harlequin’s titles and the Intrigue novels are usually the most chuckle-worthy. That does not stop this imprint from periodically hitting a home run, and I have to confess to putting Secret Agent Secretary , the second book in Melissa Cutler‘s ICE: Black Ops Defenders series, on my to-read list. When a desk jockey is catapulted into the arms of a handsome agent, they need to work together to foil a nefarious plan. Luckily for all of us, it’s also being offered in a Goodreads giveaway for people who enter prior to the end of December.

The erotic romance author group collectively known as the Smutketeers (R. G. Alexander, Eden Bradley, Rachel Grace, Eve Berlin and Robin L. Rotham) on their blog of the same name have begun their Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway with not only daily prizes and fabulous highlights of recent books you’ll want under your tree, but a cumulative prize of a $300 gift card for a dedicated reader who posts a comment on each day of the celebration. That’s a lot of books….

Fun Stuff

‘Tis the season for finding gifts for all the readers in your family, and game enthusiasts might want to take a gander at all the book-related board games out there geared toward readers. Flavorwire has a terrific list of 10 board games for book nerds (why are we always nerds?) including ones based on Pride & Prejudice and Beowulf, or you can get a classic like Bookopoly, geared toward middle school kids but great for readers of all ages.

I usually don’t post stuff about YA romance (probably because I think about it all the time in my day job as a young adult librarian) but I had to share the wonderful post by author Diana Peterfreund on the RITA awards and their perhaps misguided treatment of YA romance. Peterfreund has numerous successful books under the belt, many of which should be award-winners in multiple categories, but this thoughtful analysis of the Romance Writers’ Association and YA is worth a read and re-read.

Great Deals

The full-length erotic novel (gracious, that sounds dirty!) Sexual Persuasion by Maryn Sinclair is currently free on Amazon. When a woman is rescued from an uncomfortable encounter with an ex, she can’t deny the heat between her handsome rescuer and herself. But when that gorgeous man is revealed to be an attorney with one client (the local mob head), and she hears the rumors that this same man who is clearly interested in getting her in bed also was the lover of his male mob boss, she’s confused. Will his past come between them or can she be persuaded?

Erotic historical author Kate Pearce currently has the prequel to her Sinners Club series also available for free, The First Sinners. The series features men who belong to a private gentlemen’s club filled with men who have either sketchy pasts or specific predilictions – and the need to keep both quiet. In this novella, an Earl investigating possible treason deploys all his wiles at a house party in the hope of uncovering valuable evidence. What he is surprised to uncover is one innocent young miss determined to find a man who can teach her carnal pleasure (and his lordship knows exactly who can fulfill that role).

Following in today’s erotic historical romance bargains trend is Samantha Kane‘s Regency menage novel, The Courage to Love, the first of her Brothers in Arms series which is also available for free on Amazon as of right now. A dress shop owner is still recovering from a vicious rape but feels safe when surrounded by two men who served with her late husband on the Peninsula – two men she’s been in love with for quite some time. Shocked they feel the same toward her (and have a relationship with one another), her past nevertheless intrudes on them moving forward.

The holidays always come with bargains if you know where to look, and the A Naughty Little Christmas (Cowboys, Cops and Kilts) Bundle, featuring a smorgasbord of authors across genres (cowboy, romantic suspense, small town contemporary, paranormal, Highlander, etc.) is the ultimate bargain at $.99 for eight novellas. With authors like Paige Tyler, Ann Bruce and Dawn Halliday in this grouping, I’ve already got it sitting in my Kindle app to warm my holiday nights!

If you haven’t had a chance to run and buy The Theory of Attraction by erotic romance author Delphine Dryden, go run to Amazon and grab it while it’s free. With a slightly autistic scientist who happens to be a serious Dom (and definitely high on the hottie) scale and the next door neighbor who decides to help him get a promotion by being his girlfriend who can read departmental situations, this sexy nerd romance is simultaneously erotic and sweet. It would be worth paying full price for, but free? You don’t need a genius IQ to figure out that’s a bargain.

From Gorgeous Scotsmen in Kilts to Rippled Muscles in T-shirts: Transitioning Donna Grant’s Dark Sword Series to Her New Dark Warrior Series

9 Jun

Dangerous Highlander (Dark Sword #1 – Lucan and Cara’s Story) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, April 2010)

I was reading an article about book cover design and one of the experts interviewed mentioned that, in romance, anything with a kilt on it is bound to sell. Duh. What red-blooded woman doesn’t have a visceral response to a hunky guy in a kilt? But it got me thinking, what is my favorite kilted book cover of all time? The answer to that got me pondering my favorite Scottish series, the Dark Sword/Dark Warrior series by Donna Grant.

In full disclosure, you need to understand that, while set in roughly the 1600s, this is not historical romance, but rather fantasy. Using a history stretching back to the time of the ancient Celts to explain its world, this series takes a paranormal approach to explaining the warrior ethos of the highlanders it features.

In an effort to rid their shores of the Roman invaders, druids practicing dark magic (known as droughs), asked a group of gods previously relegated to hell to inhabit the bodies of the best warriors from each clan in order to make them invincible fighters. The druids who had kept to the ways of life-giving magic (known as the mies) objected, but in their desperation the Celts agreed to call forth the gods.

You can imagine how this could potentially backfire. The gods were ecstatic to be freed and more than happy to unleash their violence on the Romans until they fled the shores of Scotland. But, the thirst for blood far from slaked, they turned on each other. With the wide scale slaughter occurring in their country, both groups of druids determined to band together to find a solution.

Druids – it’s not all mistletoe and stone circles.

In the end, the gods could not be sent back, so the ancient priests and priestesses found the spell which would bind the god within the man, returning each warrior to his human state with no memory of the atrocities he had committed. The god was still within him, but now the warrior could live a normal mortal life, with the god passing to the next best warrior of the clan upon the demise of his human host.

All was safe for centuries until one power hungry drough, Deirdre, came upon an ancient scroll which listed the name of only one of the clans which possessed warriors who hosted the bound gods – the MacLeods. Murdering their entire clan in an attempt to draw out the warrior, Deirdre manages to lure the three brothers, Fallon, Lucan and Quinn, to her mountain lair, torturing them and releasing their god, which it turns out is actually shared between them since they are warriors of equal cunning and strength.

But the brothers escape and take decades to learn to control the god inside them. As long as their god is able to emerge (in their case, at their will) the MacLeods are immortal. This is the backstory we discover in the first book of the Dark Sword series, Dangerous Highlander (a more in depth and better written account can be found at Donna Grant’s website).

How I picture the cliffs and landscape surrounding MacLeod castle.

They hide from Deirdre where she would never look for them, at the ruin of their old castle which the local people think is haunted because of the massacre which occurred there years ago, and this is where our story begins. Middle brother Lucan sees a beautiful girl lose her footing on the cliffs by the sea and on instinct shifts into his god form to save her. It is obvious to him and his brothers that Cara has some kind of druid magic, but her parents were murdered years ago and she has grown up sheltered in the local convent.

It turns out that Lucan saving her isn’t just fortunate because he’s the handsomest man she’s ever seen, but because she didn’t know that she was a target of Deirdre’s as well. The entire village is slaughtered while Cara takes refuge at the MacLeod castle and, together, Cara and Lucan must figure out why Deirdre wants her so badly. Lucan knows that there is no way he’s letting Cara out of his life now that he’s found love after years of loneliness. Not everyone handles Lucan’s new happiness the same way; while Fallon begins to drag himself away from the alcohol he’s used to numb his god and resume leadership once again, Quinn is painfully reminded of the loss of his wife and son, so much so that he walks right into a trap and is captured by Deirdre at the end of the book.

All the main characters are thoroughly drawn and well-established in this first book, but Lucan is such a sexy sweetheart that it’s no wonder Cara falls so hard for him. Seeing Cara learn about her druid inheritance and wrestle with her burgeoning power helps the reader discover much more about the druid side of this world, and we begin to see the pull between druids and warriors as romantic partners.

Forbidden Highlander (Dark Sword #2 – Fallon and Larena’s story) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, May 2010)

The fight against Deirdre is the ongoing story arc of both series and Donna Grant picks the story right up in the second book, Forbidden Highlander. After Quinn is captured, Fallon decides to go to Edinburgh to gain help. While at court, he spies the stunning Larena Monroe, who is looking for some help of her own. The sexual pull between them is undeniable, but Larena harbors a secret, a couple of them actually, and she doesn’t know if she can trust this gorgeous warrior.

Fallon quickly realizes that Larena is the perfect match for him but will she join forces to help him save his brother is the question. The discovery of other warriors who have tamed their god gives the MacLeods much better odds in the fight against Deirdre, but no one knows if it will be enough.

Larena is a fiesty, loyal heroine and you know from the first that this is a match made in heaven. Fallon carries a lot of guilt over his previous use of alcohol to escape the pressures of his god, but with the emotion shuttling between them, he is able to let go of his past and embrace a future with the woman who he wants as his wife.

There is a little overlap between Forbidden Highlander and the third book in the series, Wicked Highlander. Quinn’s story picks up in the dungeons of Deirdre’s mountain cave where he has to deal with the fact that he’s been duped into being her prisoner. When the evil druid throws a beautiful young mie druid to her supposed rape and death in the dungeon, Quinn simply reacts, taking her under his protection.

Wicked Highlander (Dark Sword #3 – Quinn and Marcail’s story) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, November 2010)

When Marcail wakes up from her injuries she is with a warrior who possesses a voice like warm honey. She wouldn’t think she could feel safe in such a location, but with Quinn by her side she does. The attraction between them is instantaneous and only amplifies as she discovers why he carries such guilt over the death of his wife and son.

Quinn cannot imagine that he would find such peace and happiness in the arms of this turquoise-eyed beauty in Deirdre’s dungeon, but he realizes that if Deirdre discovers his feelings for Marcail, it can be used to hurt them both. Knowing his brothers will come for him, his first thought is Marcail’s safety, particularly after he discovers her power and why Deirdre can’t hurt her (but desperately wants to kill her).

I love several of the books in this series (and enjoy them all) but I usually have to reread Wicked Highlander once every couple of months. Quinn is so tortured in the other books that seeing him find redemption in the middle of a dank prison with Marcail (she’s my favorite heroine) renews your faith in love.

Worried we just ran out of MacLeods? Don’t be. The fact that they are joined by other equally as hunky warriors means Donna Grant has given us an unending supply of troubled men fighting the good fight against evil.

Untamed Highlander (Dark Sword #4 – Hayden and Isla’s Story) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, April 2011)

No one knows evil like Hayden Campbell, who hates the evil droughs with every fiber of his being. In the fourth book of the series, Untamed Highlander, Hayden scouts the area around Deirdre’s mountain after freeing Quinn and Marcail, finding a woman almost frozen to death in the snow. One touch and he knows that she is his, but when he discovers she is a drough, and worse, someone who helped Deirdre all these years, he fights the attraction for all he’s worth.

Isla did work for Deirdre, accepting the black magic under duress as the evil woman held Isla’s family members hostage. The final stand Isla took against her almost ended Isla’s life, but she finds herself in MacLeod castle surrounded by mies and warriors. Most of them seem willing to give her a chance, but Hayden reminds Isla that she is a woman first and a drough second. He spends as much time pushing her away as kissing her breathless and when she discovers why he hates droughs so much, it only accentuates the guilt she feels over her years of being Deirdre’s pawn.

Once Hayden realizes that Isla is more than her history with Deirdre, he begins to break out of his prejudice, finally recognizing that she is just as tortured and damaged as he. He almost loses her, but finally makes her his own, not only helping him by finding his soul mate but helping their cause by bringing in such a powerful ally.

Shadow Highlander (Dark Sword #5 – Galen and Reaghan’s story) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, August 2011)

Since the moment we met Galen in the forest in the first book of the series, he is a binding force of reason with a good sense of humor and a seemingly bottomless stomach. But he avoids touch in any form since one of his powers is being able to read the minds of whoever he comes in contact with. In Shadow Highlander, Galen gets a book of his own and a mission that will bring him face to face with his destiny.

The warriors at MacLeod Castle have caught wind of the fact that there is a powerful druid relic that Deirdre wants. With careful scouting, Galen and some other warriors head out to scout the likely locations it could be housed, including a cloaked area of Druid power near a lake. Discovering an aging and rather helpless band of druids, Galen endeavors to move them back to the castle for protection, but not before being powerfully drawn to the beautiful young druid in their midst, Reaghan.

Reaghan loves her peaceful existence but can’t help thinking that there is something more to life, a thought only amplified when she meets the irresistible warrior bent on helping her community. She burns at his touch and Galen is baffled that he cannot read Reaghan’s mind; she is immune to his power. But strange flashes of memory added to the growing knowledge that she can’t remember all her existence lead them the realization that Reaghan has a power that puts her in danger, and its solution could mean the end of the love that has sprung between them.

Darkest Highlander (Dark Sword #6 – Broc and Sonya’s story) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, January 2012)

The final book of the Dark Sword series has a tough job to do. Not only must it tell the story of the romance of its two main characters but it also needs to set up the premise for the next series, Dark Warrior, which will pick up right where it lets off.

Broc has been a presence from the very first book, but as Deirdre’s winged henchmen he has committed as many atrocities as Isla did before openly joining forces with the MacLeods. Broc has been working as a spy all this time, one bent on undermining Deirdre as well as protecting something very precious to him – the powerful mie healer, Sonya and her sister, Anice.

When Anice dies in a chaotic battle at the end of Shadow Highlander, Broc lashes out at Sonya for not being able to save her sister. In Darkest Highlander, Sonya leaves the castle bereft at the loss of her sister and her own healing magic, which appears to have deserted her. She suspects that Broc loved her sister and that she will never win his affection now that she couldn’t even save the person she has cared for all her life. Stumbling in the wild, Sonya is set upon by a wolf.

Naturally, Broc is filled with remorse for the way he accused her. He has watched over Anice and Sonya since they were children, protecting them even while working for Deirdre, who would have loved to have killed these two druids for their mie powers. But it has always been brave Sonya who has held his heart since she became a woman and the thought of something happening to her chills his blood. Rescuing her from the wolf in the nick of time, he takes her to a local inn to treat her and is astonished when she tells him that her healing power is gone.

Sonya is thinking about more than her lack of healing power in the room she and Broc share at the inn, since his handsome form fills her mind and heart. As the two of them are drawn together, Deirdre steps up her game with a final push to beat the MacLeod allies to the final relics that will give her the power she needs to defeat them and dominate the world.

There were a few parts of this book that hit a weird note to me. Namely, we get the impression that Broc “knew” Sonya’s sister in a biblical sense. Anice was a little mentally off, which is why for years Sonya thought that the handsome warrior Anice spoke of seeing was a figment of her imagination, and Broc pushes the carnal knowledge of Anice aside with a “I’m but a man, after all” kind of comment while affirming it was always Sonya he had a thing for. Hmm. I’m not sure that works for me. Even if it was just a kiss, it feels yucky and wrong. And Sonya just lets it go – I thought she was spunkier than that. Let’s hope I’m misreading this scene.

Time travel – because sometimes you can’t manage to kill your evil villain in your time, you have to go forward to ours!

What does work for me is that Deirdre is chilling in this book. She’s desperate enough to be even more dangerous than usual (which is saying something) but when she finds herself at the mercy of a villain even more powerful than she, well, that just throws ice in my veins. I was really surprised at the death of one of the warriors (it was so sad, I thought he was terrific and loved him from the third book) and even more surprised at the time travel aspect that is setting up the next series. Is it Karen Marie Moning who deserves this trend of whisking hunky highlanders into the modern era? I’ll thank her anyway.

So our fearless crew is scrambling to not only get revenge for the death of one of their own, but to recover his brother who has gone missing enraged with grief, and to figure out where the hell Deirdre has ended up. They can’t defeat her if they can’t find her and Broc uses his amazing location ability to figure out that Deirdre is 400 years forward in time.

Midnight’s Master (Dark Warriors #1 – Logan and Gwynn’s story) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, May 22, 2012)

Luckily, they have some powerful druids in the castle who are able to whip up two spells, the first one throwing some of the warriors forward in time to attempt to find Deirdre and the other spell putting a bubble of protection from time over the castle, protecting it’s non-immortal inhabitants (the druids) from aging. The castle dwellers agree essentially to wait the 400 years at the MacLeod home and meet up with the warriors for whom this day will feel like yesterday when they arrive in the future. Do druids just really have spells like this in their arsenal? That seems like pretty quick thinking. Only for Donna Grant am I willing to suspend the disbelief.

And so Midnight’s Master, the first in the Dark Warriors series, begins. Logan Hamilton, the jesting hottie who hides his own dark secrets arrives in modern day Scotland. He’s understandably surprised at some of the details of his country in the future, but with the god inside him, his ability to process information is practically a superpower and he rapidly adjusts. Drawn to the area around the Isle of Eigg, where the last showdown with Deirdre occurred and where the last artifact she sought is probably housed, he makes inquiries and stumbles upon the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.

Midnight’s Lover (Dark Warrior #2 – Ian and Dani’s Story) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, June 26, 2012)

Gwynn Austin is a Texan searching for her father, a professor who specializes in ancient Celtic history. While the two of them don’t have the best relationship by a long shot, after her mother’s recent death, he is her only living relative. Hearing he quit his job at the university and hared off to Scotland, she follows determined to track him down. One look at the Scotsman wearing a tattered kilt that doesn’t quite look like the others she’s seen and Gwynn knows she is not in Texas anymore. But what Logan tells her changes her whole sense of identity.

Logan can feel Gwynn’s power – she has inherited a druid legacy (and aren’t we all relieved considering these warriors need druids to fall in love with!) which directly relates to the relic Deirdre and our new uber-villain want. Logan helps her understand the situation and what’s she’s up against and Gwynn throws in her lot with the MacLeods and anti-Deirdre brigade.

Gwynn is plucky, can-do heroine who is instantly likable and who takes genuine pleasure in Logan (luckily she’s okay with muchmuch older men since he’s around 500 years old by now). Once she wraps her head around the Deirdre/time travel concept (and it’s easy for her to do as being in the vicinity of Eigg and Logan ramp up her previously latent mie powers) she is all in and ready to fight evil. The scene where she leaves a special Christmas present for Logan is so sweet that I got all sniffly. Donna Grant awesomeness, for sure.

I did have more than a few questions related to the time magic piece. The MacLeod brothers et. al. who stayed in the castle had the bubble of protection which sheltered them from aging. Clearly this was for the non-warriors, since their god keeps them immortal, but the druid women have managed to not age a bit. However, they have to stay at the castle. Granted, they’ve got the internet now, but that feels like they are trapped to me. This might have been okay back in ye olden days when travel was a slow-moving pony cart, but this seems a little more like a prison once you start thinking about 19th/20th/21st century modes of travel. Do they have legal documentation? How did their castle get modernized? Did Fallon get an electrician license? Did anyone get online degrees? How would you keep yourself from going crazy for 400 years waiting for the other warriors to find you? You can’t have awesome sex all the time with your warrior husband, particularly when there are others around (or maybe you can – suddenly 400 years seems more manageable).

Midnight’s Seduction (Dark Warrior #3 – Camdyn and Saffron’s Story) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, October 30, 2012)

You can see in the book cover progression for the new Dark Warrior series that, while we can all mourn the loss of the kilts, there are compensations. The cover model representing Logan for the Midnight’s Master book cover is not ungifted in the posterior department, and you can see above that the next book in the series, Midnight’s Lover (due out at the end of June) has got a pretty sweet bicep shot, complete with cool tattoo.

Midnight’s Lover is Ian’s story, the warrior who lost his brother in Darkest Highlander and got shot forward in time against his will. Since he was temporarily insane from the doubling of his god power, it will be interesting to see how he gets himself off the proverbial ledge and what woman helps him come to terms with his grief.

We are back to bare chests, rippled abs, and (ahem) a lengthy dagger by the time the third book rolls out (due at the end of October). Toward the end of Midnight’s Master, the first book, the warrior crew raided the mansion of our new villain who is attempting to manipulate Deirdre and gain total power. In his dungeon, Camdyn MacKenna discovered a beautiful blind druid chained to the walls and it is her story and his that will be showcased in this third book, Midnight’s Seduction, seen above. Considering the fact that she was held because she is a powerful seer, I think our warrior group could have a powerful new ally in Saffron.

Midnight’s Warrior (Dark Warrior #2 – Ramsay and Tara’s story) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, November 27, 2012)

The fourth book, Midnight’s Warrior, seems to be set farther along in time than the first few, since its description clearly states that the heroine, Tara, has been on the run, avoiding both the warriors and the villains for ten years.

But Ramsay MacDonald (love Ramsay!) finds her, and once he holds her he knows that his secret is going to come out. Ramsay not only has the power of his god, but also holds a significant amount of druidic power, a force he might not be able to tamp down when he is around Tara.

Donna Grant indicates that there will be four more Dark Warriors books coming out in 2013, but she’s going to run out of warriors at some point, I’d imagine. There is potential in other areas that I would guess she’d exploit. We saw that there were plenty of other warriors in Deirdre’s dungeon with Quinn in the third book, and since they are immortal, that would mean they could have also lived those 400 years and be in the present time (and have one hell of a history, I imagine). The idea that one of these warriors could have been killed at some point in the last 400 years by another warrior would also create the potential storyline that the god would go to another member of that warrior’s clan, yet this person could be a modern human having to suddenly deal with wrestling a god. These would be fascinating stories to read, especially in Donna’s capable hands.

Dark Craving (Dark Kings #1) by Donna Grant (St. Martin’s Press, July 31, 2012)

I don’t know when she finds time to sleep and shower considering that not only does she have these Dark Warrior books coming out, but she also writes on her blog that St. Martin’s asked her to come up with some related enovellas that would complement the books, leading her to come up with the Dark Kings spin-off series.

Each of the Dark Kings enovellas will come at the end of July, August and September and feature characters that will be introduced in the Dark Warriors books. By the, um, look of the book cover for the first in the series, Dark Craving, I think this premise seems very promising! With a publication date of end of July, I am not happy about the fact that these still aren’t up for me to pre-order, but I’ll be keeping a close eye for when Amazon finally puts them up for purchase.

Donna Grant is a talented writer whose affinity for Scotland makes her a natural fit for readers who love their kilts and highlanders. It’s a testimony to her abilities that we still want to keep buying her books, even when the kilts are taken out of the equation. I guess as long as it’s still a hunky highlander as the hero, she’s got a following.

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