Archive | April, 2014

Laura Kaye’s Latest, East of Ecstasy, Delivers Devastatingly Sexy Gods and Heart-Thumping Romance

21 Apr
East of Ecstasy (Hearts of the Anemoi #4 - Devlin and Anna) by Laura Kaye (Entangled: Select, April 22, 2014)

East of Ecstasy (Hearts of the Anemoi #4 – Devlin and Anna) by Laura Kaye (Entangled: Select, April 22, 2014)

Laura Kaye can always be depended upon to deliver a sexy, emotional read, but with her Hearts of the Anemoi series – dedicated to the gods of the four winds – she gives paranormal romance a fresh storyline.

I’ve adored this series since I fell for Owen Winter in the first book, North of Need, and each subsequent god’s story in West of Want and South of Surrender maintained the high quality I’d come to expect while extending the story arc. The gods of the winds are in conflict with their off his rocker, evil brother Eurus, who wants to kill his brothers (and the women they love) while also defeating his father, the supreme god of wind and storms. For years, his son Devlin was thought to support his father but information has come to light that he has always been a victim of his Eurus’ breathtaking cruelty.

In the final book of the series, East of Ecstasy, Devlin has managed to escape his father once again and, together with his powerful grandfather, imbibed in the waters of the ancient rivers in order to amplify his power, hopefully enough to defeat his father. Covered with scars from the torture he’s endured for centuries, Devlin is far more scarred inside and his increased power is pushing the darkness in him to be released.

The uber-talented Laura Kaye - she does tortured military heroes, vampire kings, and gods of the weather with equal aplomb, proving she is an incredibly versatile romance author.

The uber-talented Laura Kaye – she does tortured military heroes, vampire kings, and gods of the weather with equal aplomb, proving she is an incredibly versatile romance author.

He’s shocked to discover that destructive force calming when he comes into contact with a small beautiful artist in whose studio he has sheltered. Focused on developing a way to control his power, he doesn’t want to be attracted to her, but finds he cannot prevent his fascination, particularly after he sees her paint. Not only are her recent paintings all of his father and Devlin, but they are of the future and could hold the key to defeating Eurus.

Annalise Fallston is running on empty. Diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome a few months ago, she can’t believe that the visions which insist on being put on canvas will not release her from their grip. After years of being a successful artist, she’s never experienced anything like it, even though her art process has always been…unique. Incredibly color-blind, Anna can see color vividly – when she is painting – but at no other time.

When the mysterious man she has seen in her visions not only appears but tells her he can see that she wields magic, undoubtedly due to a god or gods in her ancestry, she’s astonished but it strangely makes sense. Unfortunately the conflict in which Devlin is embroiled poses a danger to Anna and the dementia-suffering father she cares for. Yet despite his protestations of his unworthiness and his anger, this dark god shows again and again his gentle, protective side to her. It’s not hard to believe that her heart is actually the item most likely to be lost in this battle.

The brilliant editors at Entangled have not only put together a convenient boxed set but also for the phenomenal entry price of only $.99 for almost 800 pages of great paranormal romance. The low price is a limited time author, so get it while you can!

The brilliant editors at Entangled have not only put together a convenient boxed set but are selling it also for the phenomenal entry price of only $.99 for almost 800 pages of great paranormal romance. The low price is a limited time author, so get it while you can!

Unlike the first couple of books, I think at this point in the series there are so many players and enough has taken place that readers do need to start at the beginning. The good news is that Entangled has cleverly put together these first three books in a bundle which is available right now for only $.99 – an incredible value – which when combined with their policy of $.99 for new single-title releases, means you can get the previous 750 published pages and then this book of 368 pages for under $2.00. Cha-ching. And did I mention they are all amazing? They’re amazing.

Devlin is the most tortured god to date (literally and figuratively) and for damn good reason. His megalomaniacal father is a violent sadist who has already destroyed Devlin by killing one of his brothers, so he feels himself unworthy of the foreign feelings of happiness and peace he gets in Anna’s presence. The heat between them is fan-yourself amazing (a Laura Kaye trademark) but she never sacrifices heat for emotion, instead combining the two to produce a real connection and a love willing to sacrifice itself to save the world. Oy, she’s good!

To celebrate this wonderful book, Entangled is having a Rafflecopter giveaway so be sure to click on the link and enter. It may not go live until tomorrow, April 22nd, which is the official release day (so either pre-order your copy of East of Ecstasy or buy the awesome bundle of the first three books and get started.

Happy reading!

Tessa Bailey Storms Into New Adult With the Hot, Emotional, Unfixable

18 Apr

Unfixable by Tessa Bailey (Entangled: Embrace, April 14, 2014)

When this woman writes, she writes.

Anyone following hot new authors in the area of contemporary romance knows Tessa Bailey, whose Line of Duty series is filled with so many strong feisty women and dominant, dirty-talking men that you need to read them with a tall pitcher of ice water next to you.

The first book in that series, Protecting What’s His, told the story of the jaded, homicide cop Derek Tyler and how he falls hard for his sexy new Southern neighbor, bartender Ginger Peet who, together with her younger sister, Willa, is running from their heroin prostitute mother to make a good life for themselves in Chicago.

In the follow-up novella, Protecting What’s Theirs, Derek and Ginger are dealing with the emotional distance between them caused by Derek’s job, which, when combined with Ginger’s unexpected pregnancy, puts a strain on a relationship forged in a fragile trust. In that story, the brilliant, mouthy Willa is off at college pursuing her photography degree while Derek and Ginger work through their problems to become even stronger.

Now in Unfixable, Willa has a couple years of college under her belt and her previously unforgiving Goth style has softened into a woman with a natural hair color but who still retains her hard edges. She’s recently broken up with her high school boyfriend, Evan, exhausted by his patient demand to work through her troubled upbringing and open herself to him. Tired of being something she’s not and having to fit into his world of helicopter parents and tough choices like where to go for spring break, she’s determined to find Willa again no matter what it takes. Having won a photography contest with the prize of one month in Dublin, Willa is eager to capture a city Willa-Peet style. Immersing herself in her art is the perfect solution to mending her broken heart.

Protecting What’s His (Line of Duty #1 – Derek and Ginger’s story) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, February 2013)

What Willa does not expect is the gorgeous blue-eyed inn owner, Shane Claymore, to meet her at the airport with her name on a card and a chip on his shoulder the size of the island she just landed on. But in a battle of wit and hostility, no one outdoes a Peet, something she quickly proves when she ditches him and makes her own way to the hotel. She discovers that Shane’s family is a broken crew of a dotty mother, an optimist sister tired of her life and a fascinating man who ran years ago to pursue Formula One racing – with great success – until the death of his controlling father. The heat between Shane and Willa is undeniable, but knowing she’s only there for a month – and that anyone as angry and beautiful as Shane is a danger to her barely healing heart – Willa vows to steer clear of him. Too bad running away from a race car driver only incites him to chase harder.

Christ on a cracker. Shane is scorching hot with his anger and assumptions about Willa, who is so convinced that love will require her to become something she’s not that she shies away from what she is feeling for Shane, even though it’s clear to everyone else that he thinks she’s perfect the way that she is. The build up to sex is classic, fan-your-face Tessa Bailey and Shane is a lovely dirty talker who only wants Willa more with each layer of her past that he peels back. The secondary characters are outstanding and while I might have been worried about her decision at the end of the book if it was another nineteen year old, Willa Peet has had half a lifetime of pain under her belt, so I thought her choices to fit Willa and her future perfectly.

Protecting What’s Theirs (Line of Duty #1.5 – Derek and Ginger cont.) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, March 31, 2014)

This book is Bailey’s first step into the world of New Adult romance, hence the use of Entangled’s Embrace line, and it certainly fits the bill with Willa’s stage in life and the demise of her relationship with her first love, Evan. Bailey employs the use of the first person throughout the book, a point of view I usually dislike, but in the hands of this phenomenal writer it was effortless to read. Deliciously, we get the epilogue from Shane’s perspective which, combined with seeing Ginger and Derek and their new baby, makes for a pretty phenomenal ending.

The authenticity of Dublin and the Irish characters became clear when reading Bailey’s acknowledgements and thanks to her in-laws – it seems Tessa Bailey had the intelligence to marry an Irishman so she clearly wrote from experience. There is no requirement to have read Derek and Ginger’s books to understand this story, so feel free to recommend it to all your friends whether or not they’ve indulged in the Line of Duty series.

Keep in mind also that this book falls under Entangled’s policy of new promotions being only $.99 for the first couple of weeks, so it’s a phenomenal bargain and one that would be worth six times the price. Snap it up and do yourself a favor and read Willa’s sister’s story to get your full dose of Peet if you haven’t yet had the pleasure. These ladies are always terrific to spend time with!

Happy reading! 🙂

Reese Monroe Brings Angsty Paranormal With Her Latest, Marked By Hades

15 Apr

Marked by Hades (Bound by Hades #2 – Justin and Yvonne) by Reese Monroe (Entangled Embrace, April 14, 2014)

When it comes to paranormal, the eternal battle between angels and demons is one of the more compelling story arcs and talented writer Reese Monroe (aka Lynn Rush) clearly feels the same way.

Her Bound By Hades series pits an ancient group of Gatekeepers and their Companions against demons who have escaped to earth to terrorize humans. Awaiting the time that “the Great One” decides to award them a mate, they toil in a rather lonely job, warriors to the core with nothing but their brothers and sisters in arms for companionship.

Marked By Hades is the second book of the series and the good news is that you can certainly read it out of order as Monroe does an excellent job catching the reader up without making them suffer through an unwieldy info dump. That said, much of the secondary characters’ behavior is predicated on a series of events from the previous book, so it might be worth taking advantage of this books’ initial $.99 offering and get both it and the previous volume, Forged By Fate, Theo and Sadie’s story.

In Marked By Hades, the heroine awakes naked on a park bench in the cold of an Arizona November, a kind man hovering over her as he wraps a blanket around her shoulders and gets her to his car. Sensing his goodness even as she remembers nothing about herself or her past except for her name – Yvonne – she goes to touch him in gratitude and is horrified to see him turn to dust in the driver’s seat. Learning to shield herself in leather and work menial day jobs that overlook pesky paperwork, Yvonne finds herself able to tell whether people are good or evil, with a strong fascination for the good ones. Yet she condemns herself to loneliness for fear of hurting the innocent while she attempts to figure out who and what she is.

Justin Bradford has seen his brother, the Gatekeeper and leader of their group, find his fated mate and doesn’t want to go through the emotional turmoil when he could just hook up with women like he’s been doing for nearly a thousand years. When he and his brother are working in Arizona, Justin is fascinated by a glimpse of a raven haired, green eyed beauty clad in leather. Feeling the throat mark indicating his destined mate, he fights it as as he searches for the woman he’s seen kill in a strange way. When he finally catches up with her (after noting with horror his lack of attraction to women he would have been happy to bed), he’s somewhat startled and disappointed that her upper arm does not wear the tattoo he expected.

Forged by Fate (Bound By Hades #1 – Theo and Sadie’s story) by Reese Monroe (Entangled Embrace, December 9, 2013)

His disappointment fades quickly after bringing her with him to his enclave – after all, she’s clearly paranormal, doesn’t smell of demon, and needs his help. Yet the greeting she receives from his sister-in-law – who claims Yvonne was the mate of the demon who kept her trapped – has him rejecting her even when he’s willing to protect her and a good look at her shoulder after her shower indicates she was covering up the sudden tattoo whose presence she couldn’t explain.

It’s the height of irony for a demon killer to be mated to a demon, even a beautiful, giving one who seems to be human. That there are multiple antagonists and a hell of a story arc accompanying Yvonne and Justin’s transformation adds to the reward of the two of them finally making it through hell (in this case, literally).

This book reminded me of A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford – do people remember her books? Her characters have near insurmountable obstacles placed in their path, to the point where you are emotionally exhausted vicariously living through their experience. Because so many readers adore this type of book, these are great reads for a chunk of romance enthusiasts, and fans of the “will they make it?” roller coaster should hop on a Reese Monroe book for a ride.

Please be warned that if you are someone for whom sexual violence is an issue, you may want to proceed with caution as Yvonne’s eventual capture and return to her demon state (complete with another memory wipe of her time with Justin) involves her being at the mercy of a demon who hurts her. Much of the violence is behind the closed door (in romance parlance) but when the memories resurface they are incredibly painful.

My very slight objection to this book is its characterization under the popular umbrella of “New Adult.” While undoubtedly the series is properly assigned that moniker – the previous book’s heroine fell in the early 20s age range and it appears likely that the next heroine will be her best friend also in that age group – I don’t think this particular volume fits the bill. The hero’s near millennium on earth and his mate’s leaving her second century behind doesn’t exactly have them hitting the new adult/coming of age target range. But hey, it’s paranormal, so maybe all bets are off. 🙂

Reese Monroe is a new author who has created a rather fascinating world filled with feisty heroines and compelling heroes, so if angels and demons who have to go through a literal and figurative hell to find happiness makes your heart flutter, you would do very well to check her out.

Happy reading!

Mystery and Murder in a Private School Setting Makes You Again by Ashlee Mallory a Page Turner

2 Apr
You Again by Ashlee Mallory (Entangled Ignite, March 24, 2014)

You Again by Ashlee Mallory (Entangled Ignite, March 24, 2014)

One of the reasons I am so faithful at trying out Entangled Publishing’s new authors is because they do such a good job picking new talent that I am rarely disappointed. Ashlee Mallory, with her debut book, You Again, is just such a talent, combining strong writing, excellent plot structure, and a unique voice to give readers a wonderful romantic suspense novel, yet one completely devoid of the military/mercenary/investigative reporter characters so overdone in that genre.

Having worked at private schools for most of my working life, You Again‘s setting of a private school in the heart of Salt Lake City was downright juicy and immediately sucked me in. The heroine, Allie McBride, patiently waits with her extended family for a relative to get back from his two-year mission. While Allie is Catholic, her stepmother and sister are Mormon and everyone has come to terms with loving each other while not necessarily sharing the same faith. With her mind wandering, she’s shocked to see none other than her high school crush Sam Fratto walk through the airport. He’s now a best-selling true crime author and any heart flutters she experiences upon looking at his still-athletic body are quickly quashed when he 1) doesn’t recognize her and 2) makes a dick comment about one of Allie’s nephews.

Sam is less than thrilled to be back in Utah. His distant father died a few years ago and when his mother was recently diagnosed with Stage Three breast cancer, Sam made the decision to take time away from his teenage son and come home at least for a while. Disillusioned about his parents marriage years ago, his own experience with women has only bolstered his distrust of the fairer sex, yet he can’t help having a strong reaction to seeing the blonde from the airport. Unfortunately, it’s in the principal’s office at Sam’s alma mater, St. Andrews, and the gorgeous and understandably icy blonde in question is his fellow English teacher. Sam was happy to fill in when he heard one of the older teachers had some health issues, but the lovely Allie does not appear to be welcoming.

A lovely shot of Salt Lake City with the surrounding mountains and distinctive architecture. (Public domain image via Pixabay)

A lovely shot of Salt Lake City with the surrounding mountains and distinctive architecture. (Public domain image via Pixabay)

Both of them are shocked the next day, along with the entire community, when the school’s under construction Peace Garden reveals the dead body of a former English teacher – one who had been a mentor to both Allie and Sam. Allie’s proposal to include a short tribute video as part of the school’s upcoming centennial celebration is met with a mixed response and her digging quickly results in a series of threats and attacks, a circumstance that has all Sam’s protective instincts rushing to the fore. Yet with his track record of not trusting women, he’s not sure he can negotiate the many feelings he’s having for Allie, particularly when what she uncovers opens up the closet on some family secrets.

I loved the eccentric secondary characters as well as the well-drawn hero and heroine with their strengths and weaknesses. Mallory’s writing has a clear, distinctive personality and I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a range of Mormon characters handled in such an honest and respectful way. Of course, being an Ignite book means that the entire, single love scene is behind a very closed bedroom door, but that’s what their readers enjoy. The romance in an Ignite book is always secondary to the suspense plot, but Mallory handles the mystery element with such aplomb that I sincerely hope she keeps writing them. I’ll keep reading them!

What a great debut novel for a wonderful writer who has clearly found a supportive home with Entangled. I look forward to reading her future books and hope she has a terrific response from readers! She made this one quite happy. 🙂

 

 

Friends to Lovers (Internet Start Up Style) with Joan Kilby’s Mad About You

1 Apr
Mad About You by Joan Kilby (Entangled Indulgence, March 31, 2013)

Mad About You by Joan Kilby (Entangled Indulgence, March 31, 2013)

Friends to lovers is my favorite trope – I’ll rarely ignore a book which indicates this is the romance theme – and if you throw in a geeky hero or heroine, I’m toast.

Veteran category romance writer Joan Kilby manages just this balance, giving readers in Mad About You the story of quiet accountant Cassy Morris who agrees to temporarily move to Seattle to help her best friend from grade school, the multi-millionaire Scott Thornton. Voted Seattle’s sexiest bachelor he needs her to not only fend off the women who keep throwing themselves at him but to also help him get his nanotechnology startup in financial order while vetting angel investors so he can beat a rival to the patent punch.

Complications naturally arise – both of them find the other incredibly attractive and always have – and it’s not long before they are pondering the fact that no previous girlfriend or boyfriend worked out because who they were really waiting for was each other. Yet acting on their attraction could not come at a worse time, with Scott’s estranged father attempting a reconciliation, dealing with a temperamental Australian billionaire, and juggling their fake engagement to keep vipers at bay.

Joan Kilby does an excellent job transmitting the weight of all these tensions (there were times reading I felt a physical heaviness in my chest) but she shines in her characterization. Scott is no typical geek – yes, he’s a genius, but he’s also a mountain bike enthusiast and works out constantly, hence his awesome body. No wonder the Seattle ladies go crazy for him! Yet, he’s still vulnerable at thirty to his father’s abandonment, and facing that issue is undeniably painful. He’s an introvert and it’s obvious the balance Cassy has played in his life since grade school. She’s got some risk-taking issues, making her pursuit of Scott all the more brave and gut-wrenching. Learning to stand up for herself and not settle as she has been in her career and romantic relationships is heartening to watch, particularly when Scott is busy earning the Captain Oblivious award.

I was fortunate enough to hear from Joan Kilby, who agreed to answer a few questions. Based on her cupcake answer, she’s a long lost sister of mine!

1.    Is friends to lovers a favorite theme for your writing? Why/why not?

Friends to lovers is definitely a favorite theme of mine. Maybe I’m drawn to these types of stories because that’s how my husband and I got together. We were living in a group house with mutual friends for a whole year before we got together romantically. At first I thought he didn’t like me! Later I found out he was a shy because he was attracted. Then we both went traveling, separately, and returned home within a few days of each other. I’ll never forget the first moment we saw each other again. It was like a scene from a movie. Time seemed to stop as we saw each other through new eyes. Not long after, on New Years Eve, we kissed for the first time. And the rest, as they say, is history.

In terms of writing a friends to lovers story, I enjoy exploring new aspects of the couple’s relationship and how they discover things they never knew about each other. There’s a lot of vulnerability and bravery involved in the big leap from being ‘just friends’ to admitting they’re in love. What if the romance goes bust and they lose their best friend in the process? In Mad About You, my hero, Scott, has abandonment issues so the possibility of losing Cassy from his life is really scary. As for Cassy, she can’t conceive of life without Scott.

2.    Why do you think readers can’t get enough of millionaires?

I think millionaires are the modern day equivalent of a Prince Charming. The fantasy appeal is that they have the money and the power to sweep the heroine away from her life of drudgery and into a magical new existence. Of course, a modern heroine is independent and fully able to provide for herself, but it’s still nice to know that if she needs him, the hero can protect her…and keep her in glass slippers for the rest of her days.

There’s also the underlying assumption that if he’s that rich it must mean he’s smart and has a strong character. Clearly not every rich person is nice or good but usually in a romance novel, a millionaire has done something impressive to earn his wealth. In Mad About You, the hero, Scott, has invented something with the potential to change the lives of everyone in the whole world for the better, not just the heroine.

3.    Your favorite cupcake/icing combination?

Great question! Devil’s food chocolate cupcake with salted caramel frosting. Yum!

Thanks, Joan! Keep in mind that Mad About You is currently at the low price of $.99 in keeping with Entangled’s fabulous new policy of an initial low pricing to reward on the ball buyers, so take advantage of this colossal bargain and pick up a great new book.

Happy reading!

 

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