Tag Archives: Amazon Kindle

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Deals You Might Have Missed, Week Ending September 8th

8 Sep

Upcoming Books (and some Great Deals)

Fans of Lynsay SandsArgeaneau Vampires series should take special note that Amazon has the paper version of the next book – One Lucky Vampire – deeply discounted at only $4.79 for this pre-order which will debut on September 24th. With the Kindle price above $6 it would be well worth getting the print copy for this latest addition to the long-running paranormal series.

Also part of this discounted group of upcoming novels is Julia Quinn‘s The Sum of All Kisses, the third book in her Smythe-Smith Quartet. This tale of an estranged couple reunited through circumstances only to find that the fire between them still burns hot is already a best-seller in the historical romance category on Amazon, even though it won’t be published until October 29th. Maybe it’s not just Quinn fans but bargain hunters snapping it up since this book is also priced at $4.79 right now.

Another great writer in the paranormal romance category is Gena Showalter and her Otherworld Assassins series (which I haven’t tackled) is now added to my to-read list with the soon-to-be-published book in the series, Black and Blue. The second novel in a series focusing on a paranormal black ops group and the romantic interests who bring them into the light, this book also bears the fantastic price of $4.79 for the print version, but you won’t get it until it’s release date of October 22nd.

If you are like me, you love Nora Roberts, particularly when she crosses over to the dark side. As of October 29th and just in time for Halloween, Roberts debuts the first book in her Cousins O’Dwyer series, Dark Witch, featuring an American who finds relatives and possibly the love of her life in Ireland only to have to face sinister forces determined to undermine her chance at happiness. Sadly this book isn’t part of the discounted pre-orders, and with the Kindle version at $7.99 versus the paperback price of $9.99, e-reader owners will save a little money.

Contests and Giveaways

I’m always wistful that there aren’t more historical romances set in the early twentieth century since it’s such an interesting time period, so I was excited to see the Goodreads giveaway of Kate Furnivall‘s Shadows on the Nile combining family secrets, impoverished aristocrats and sinister Egyptian artifacts in these early decades. Enter by September 15th to see if you can win a copy before its official release date of October 1st.

Lara Adrian‘s Midnight Breed series definitely has a big following, so fans might enjoy trying to win a copy of the prequel novella, A Touch of Midnight, featuring Gideon and Savannah’s story, as well as also winning some featured swag from the author! Enter the Goodreads giveaway by September 13th. The series now also has a companion book detailing the characters and world of the series, The Midnight Breed Companion, which you can also win if you enter before September 10th.

Mary Balogh‘s The Survivors Club series partners historical romance with damaged heroes and the women who finally pull them into the world, and the second full-length book, The Arrangement, is no exception. Published on August 27th, this book features a war hero battling his demons who is moved to a marriage of convenience when a woman standing up for him has her safety and reputation threatened. Enter the Goodreads giveaway before September 10th to see if you can win this novel.

It seems to be a fact of the romance world that – like Dukes in historical romances – there can never be too many billionaires. J. S. Scott is hosting a giveaway of a collection of four novels in her self-published The Billionaire’s Obsession series. Enter by September 11th to win. This collection could easily go in the “Great Deals” section as well, since all four books can be had for a mere $.99 for the ebook collection, so if you don’t win, it’s hardly a splurge to enjoy them!

A lot of romance readers also love mystery novels, particularly those with a strong romantic element, and Tasha Alexander‘s Lady Emily series is one of my top picks in this category. With the eighth book debuting on October 1st, Behind the Shattered Glass, we have the chance to see Lady Emily and her oh-so-sexy spy husband Colin, use their sleuthing partnership to see who murdered a Marquess on the cusp of his engagement. If you can’t wait for publication (or simply want to see if you can get it earlier), do yourself a favor and enter the giveaway before September 12th. (By the way, did you ever wonder about Emily and Colin’s wedding? Enjoy the free short story online which serves as a prequel to Tears of the Pearl.)

Fun Stuff

You know how I think the Good Men Project is a gold mine of great writing, and the post I read this week – Dads and Bras by William Lucas Walker – not only had tears running down my face from laughing at how difficult it is for a wonderful dad to support his blooming daughter in selecting foundation undergarments, but it simultaneously renewed my faith in smart parents who realize that the community of adults surrounding their children will enrich that child’s life in all ways. And yes, Mr. Walker, Spanx is a bizarre name for underwear, when you really think about it!

I think the first couple who I adored seeing live happily ever after (with all the highs and lows that this involves) was Anne and Gilbert Blythe, who were clearly meant for each other the minute Gilbert teased Anne to breaking a slate over his head in the one-room schoolhouse on Prince Edward Island. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series is legendary children’s literature, and I consider her an author who taught me that good literature has plenty of detail to show that ordinary life (and love is extraordinary). Enjoy this trip down memory lane as The Hairpin blog celebrates 105 years of book covers for this iconic novel.

Author Damon Suede has a fantastic post about the history of tropes in literature which for romance readers is fascinating – how many of us skim the publisher blurb to determine if this a “secret baby” or “friends to lovers” novel before buying it? In his post at Romance University, Suede explains to us that the use of tropes to communicate with readers or listeners goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks who knew way ahead of time how things were going to end (and in their stories, it was usually badly!).

That’s it for this week (the Good Deals were laced throughout), so I hope you have a terrific week of reading! Enjoy!

E-reader Lust: How Amazon’s Newest Paperwhite and It’s MatchBook Program Can Make You a Better Reader

5 Sep

The Kindle Paperwhite is incredibly bright, offering no glare in outdoor conditions and a strong contrast for readers, making it easy on the eye.

My e-reader lust knows no bounds. Perhaps because I am such a voracious reader and love ebooks as much as paper ones (sometimes more) I’ve yet to meet the e-reader I didn’t like – Kobo, Nook, Kindle, and tablets like the Nexus or my wonderful iPad (both sizes are amazing). I have an iPad which I use for other aspects of my life, but naturally my Kindle app (and iBook and Nook apps) are the center of my reading existence as they allow me to access the more than 1300 ebooks I have in my Amazon account (and no, I am not making that number up). With so many authors putting out novellas and short stories ONLY available in e-book form (and many outstanding authors debuting solely with electronic books), I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the romance genre without one.

Yet despite my slutiness in all gadgets electronic, I do believe strongly in Kindle products and apps because I think that Amazon has the market cornered with its combination of great selection, some of the best prices, and access to my library with virtually every electronic device on my desk and in my pocketbook. Whether it’s my phone, computer or iPad, I can grab a hold of my books virtually anywhere and since I will begin reading my book in progress if you leave me alone for two minutes, that’s pretty important to me.

I actually bought a basic level Kindle last Christmas as a present to myself because 1) with the push buttons to advance rather than a touch screen I could put it in a ziplock and read ebooks during my marathon bubble baths, 2) I’m an Amazon Prime member for the free shipping and Amazon Instant Video access (so worth $79 per year) and that means I get to borrow books for free each month with an actual Kindle device and 3) it was only $69.

The shot of Goodreads on the newest Paperwhite.

All the various Kindles since the original one debuted haven’t really tempted me since their color screens and multimedia abilities are all matched, if not surpassed by my iPad 2. But when the Kindle Paperwhite came on the scene, oh, that’s when my e-reader infidelity ramped up! The Paperwhite is light just like my original Kindle (it’s the height and depth of a ballpoint pen, so extremely comfortable to hold) but the contrast with its e-ink beats everything on the market, with a no-glare screen that makes reading into the wee hours easy on tired eyes. But the newest Paperwhite, just announced a couple of days ago and priced at $119, has features which have ramped up the urgency and catapulted it into this year’s holiday gift category. Namely, Amazon is choosing this model of Kindle as the featured device to promote its seamless integration with Goodreads.

Now THIS is a development. While some people threw up their hands when Goodreads was acquired by Amazon earlier this year, I haven’t noticed any changes to that community as of yet, so I’m not getting my knickers in a twist about the partnership, particularly because I was hoping something like this would occur. You see, with those aforementioned 1300 books, I spend a pretty decent amount of time putting titles into my Goodreads account since I use it to religious track my reading, and a device/Goodreads integration would save me a lot of time and energy.

Organizing your Kindle books into collections is only an option on actual Kindle devices.

I adore Goodreads not just for the rating and tracking ability, but because I can organize my books into shelves, which are mostly for me to indicate where I keep said book (“in kindle,” “Lendle”, “my paper copy” or “in library”). But with the endless stream of book covers in my Kindle app, my inner librarian aches for a better way to organize these. On any actual Kindle device you can actually organize your books into “Collections” which would be utterly A-M-A-Z-I-N-G as I have always wanted to push each new book I buy and finish into subgenre romance categories (Paranormal, Suspense, Contemporary, Holiday, etc.) which would make it a breeze to pick for better blogging. Having my NetGalley books in a “Review These” collection would also be pretty nifty, making me that much more efficient, and this librarian adores efficiency like Seven of Nine loves running a diagnostic (Star Trek Voyager fans, anyone?)

Whether it’s with a thirty cent Ziplock bag or a state-of-the-art waterproof case, reading and baths are synonymous for romance readers.

But attachment to touch buttons is also becoming a thing of the past as the bathtub becomes fair game with the advent of accessories like the DryCase which works with a variety of devices (including my iPad) and would enable me to bring any device (*manic giggle*) into my fabulous cast iron tub circa 1930. I could even use their DryBuds to listen to music while I’m soaking since the case has a waterproof headphones jack! My God, I’d never get out…Take a look at the video to see how great this is and they are not even expensive – the DryCase retails for around $60 for the tablet size and the special earbuds are around $30. Considering that I’d pay as much for a decorative case that wouldn’t even offer protection from rain, I don’t consider that an exorbitant one-time cost.

MatchBook, bundling print and ebooks for voracious readers who want their authors anywhere, anytime.

Okay, so my most-wanted reading device is clearly fantastic, but Amazon also listened to experts like those at Publisher’s Weekly and realized that bundling ebooks with print books was a damn clever way to push more books. Duuuhhhhh. Enter MatchBook (super clever name!) where – like their audiobook offers which are discounted when you purchase the ebook – an ebook version of a book might be offered at a significant discount, with the majority landing in the $.99 to $2.99 range.

This could be a goldmine for Amazon, as I sometime make a print/Kindle choice for a lot of my books, often choosing a used print copy to save money since the Kindle version is not a discounted price (if I’m not going to pay the list price for the paper book, I’m hesitant to do it for the Kindle version). A used copy makes Amazon less money (and makes the publisher no money since they got their profit on the first sale of the book), but by bundling a new book and it’s ebook companion, I get two versions of the book (which I like to have for my favorite authors and series) and Amazon and the publisher make more of a royalty off me, while I actually save money. MatchBook will be retroactive, offering readers the discounted ebook versions off everything they’ve purchased from Amazon since 1996 that has an eligible ebook. With those 1300 books, I’m kind of curious to see how many offers I might have!

So I’ll be going to sleep with a smile on my face, dreaming of Paperwhites and bubble baths and even more books for my money. Take a look and see if Amazon’s newest offerings can fulfill your e-reader lust or if another device will fit the bill, but whatever you do, keep reading.

The Accused by Jana DeLeon Brings Gothic Suspense to the Bayou

23 Jul

The Accused (Mystere Parish: Family Inheritance) by Jana DeLeon (Harlequin Intrigue, July 23, 2013)

It’s sad but true that so often a romantic suspense novel contains a highly contrived plot with a resolution and villain unveiling a five year old could point out if they didn’t wander away in boredom first. You can imagine my elation then when I realized about 20 pages into The Accused that Jana DeLeon is a writer who takes her mystery elements seriously, combining a rich setting and several gothic qualities to spin a taught suspense tale fraught with imminent danger to the heroine. I do have a few criticisms of the book (some of which were beyond DeLeon’s control) but the strengths of this novel were such that I’ll be reaching for the next book in the series, for sure!

Alaina LeBeau has just found out that she’s been passed over for partner in her Baton Rouge law firm for a man whose political connections seem to outweigh his incompetence as an attorney. She knows that the case that haunts her – one in which a little girl died because Alaina didn’t see the danger signs – is a big reason for the firm’s decision, but she also knows when she’s getting thrown under the bus and she quits. In a bizarre coincidence, she receives a missive from a lawyer indicating that according to her stepfather’s will, if Alaina and her two sisters can stay in the family mansion for two weeks without interruption, they can inherit his estate which is worth millions.

The reason it’s worth that much is because the money was originally Alaina’s mother and father’s. She and her two sisters were separated and sent away as children to family and boarding schools with no contact with their mother and stepfather. Their mother died, presumably of a broken heart and with no provisions for her daughters, and the man she married became a bizarre recluse. Alaina doesn’t know where her sisters are although she’s tried to find them, but the kind lawyer from her hometown of Mystere Parish says they can each tackle their two weeks separately. Although she knows it’s a long shot and will probably dredge up painful childhood memories, Alaina is so eager to get away from her shambles of a career that she packs up her car and heads to Mystere.

Carter Trahan might have left New Orleans with all it’s corruption and crime, but he can’t think of a more onerous duty than playing babysitter to some cold attorney bent on inheriting money. But his lovely mother asks him to do it and he can’t deny her. He’s more than a little shocked when he catches a glimpse of the sexy brunette attempting to tackle the decrepit mansion which has moldered at the edge of the swamp for years. When strange things begin happening to the mansion and she is attacked, Carter finds himself not only wrestling with his attraction to her but also with a multi-layered mystery that is going to take all his cop instincts to solve.

The Betrayed (Mystere Parish: Family Inheritance #2) by Jana DeLeon (Harlequin Intrigue, August 20, 2013) – the next book in the trilogy focusing on youngest daughter Danae and the contractor hired to protect her.

If you like Gothic stories (and I do) you’ll find a lot to enjoy in this tautly written suspense novel. A dark, abandoned mansion, mysterious swamp, frequent storms and brooding hero certainly fit the bill in terms of the elements that make up this genre. DeLeon pens a mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat as there were so many possibilities for the perpetrator that I could not guess who actually was trying to hurt her. I loved that Alaina was no wilting flower – she was a tough lawyer with a gun who combined brave with practical – and that Carter saw and appreciated that quality in her was attractive to me.

However, the romance plot was the weaker piece of this novel. Carter is pretty brusque and doesn’t do much actual talking, so why Alaina is interested in him beyond the chemical attraction was a little unclear to me. His job dedication, maybe? That’s he’s great with his mom? Between the two of them, however, he could have done a little more communicating.

But it was the sex scene (yes, that’s a single number I’m referring to) that would have had me drowning myself in the swamp afterward, and the point where I was just in the book for the terrific suspense plot. The couple – at an appropriate time in the book for them to step things up a notch – has a hot kiss, he touches her nipple once, and then he puts a condom on and is shoving himself inside her. And she thinks it’s awesome! I would have rather that bedroom door have been kept firmly shut (and I don’t think I’ve ever said that before) so I could have at least imagined actual foreplay between these two characters. Why the heroine wasn’t inventing a Peace Corps obligation in order to wiggle her way out of a future with Mr. “One Nipple Touch and I’m Ready to Go”, I’ll never know. Carter’s “technique” reminded me of the old Irish definition of foreplay – pulling back the covers.

It’s a shame such a dark and suspenseful book got saddled with such a cheap looking cover. Doesn’t the man look like he’s a sci fi warrior in armor? That’s supposed to be a spiral staircase from the old mansion, but it doesn’t work and the female model she looks sleepy (maybe this after the heroine hit her head?). Alaina is way more badass than this cover suggests so that’s a major disservice to her. The print version of The Accused is out on the 23rd while the Kindle version isn’t due out until August 1st.

The Reunion (Mystere Parish: Family Inheritance #3) by Jana DeLeon (Harlequin Intrigue, October 1, 2013)

The Reunion (Mystere Parish: Family Inheritance #3) by Jana DeLeon (Harlequin Intrigue, October 1, 2013)

Considering that the book is the first of a new trilogy, you have to ask the question – why is the “series” not clearly linked on Goodreads? DeLeon has a large body of work for the Intrigue line and it would take a reader with a lot of time on their hands to figure out which were the next books in the series and mark them “to-read.” Authors, this is important since Goodreads added the feature were it alerts you when books you’ve marked as to-read were just published! The Betrayed will be a future book on Danae, one of the missing sisters, due out on August 20th with final book, The Reunion, covering Joelle’s story and will be published in late September. I’ll definitely be picking those up, although I’ll be praying that their heroes are a little more skilled in the bedroom department! Nevertheless, for a truly well-written suspense novel, particularly with a strong Southern setting, DeLeon cannot be beat.

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, News, and Deals You Might Have Missed This Week

7 Jul

I just came back from the ALA (American Library Association) Conference in Chicago were I attended a lot of informative sessions. While most of them where geared toward my work in education, there were more than a few things that I think will help me be a better blogger for my readers. A great suggestion was having the occasional “round up” post to inform people about great links, upcoming books, and excellent blog posts you might have missed, so here are a few recent items I’ve been enjoying.

Upcoming Books

The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures #6) by Jennifer Ashley (Berkley, October 1, 2013)

Jennifer Ashley mentioned on her blog that the ARCs will be out very soon for The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie, the next book in the Highland Pleasures series (which I think is the best Victorian romance series on the market). It’s due out on October 1st, so hopefully NetGalley might have an ARC available soon! If you’ve enjoyed this series, you might also need a reminder that the next interim novella, The Untamed Mackenzie, will be out even sooner, and will finally give Inspector Lloyd Fellows, the illegitimate Mackenzie who is a reluctant member of the family at best, a happily ever after. That one is e-book only, so sorry print lovers!

On Ashley’s paranormal romance front, note that Amazon has made available Wild Wolf for preorder (even though it’s not coming out until January 2014), the next full novel in the fabulous Shifters Unbound series. Yes, I’ve preordered it and will be waiting up at midnight for it to land in my Kindle! Coming out even sooner is the next novella for that series, Feral Heat, which will be Eric’s son, Jace’s story (thank goodness!) out in November of this year.

Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews (Ace, July 30, 2013)

In anticipation (and God knows I’m anticipating it!) of Ilona Andrews’ next book in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Rises, due out on July 30th, Bookpushers is sponsoring a Readalong for the series. The husband and wife team of Ilona Andrews have already vetted much criticism for the cover, since the model depicting the twenty-something Kate looks waaaayyyy too young and not nearly enough of a hard ass for this alpha female. I realize I still need to do a review of this series which is tops in the urban fantasy genre for me.

In exciting news, Nalini Singh had two great announcements. The first is that she just agreed to do a Psy-Changeling series novella in 2014 which will be part of an anthology and that the hero of her next full-length novel (the 13th in the series) will be …. VASIC! This cold Arrow won my heart with his questioning of silence long ago, so I’m elated to see that he’ll be partnered with a heroine we’ve never met before. This book will be closely tied to her latest book, Heart of Obsidian which won all five stars from me, making it the fourth book (out of over the 200 books I’ve read so far this year) to be declared totally perfect.

If you’re an urban fantasy fan chances are you’ve been devouring the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones as much as I have (Reyes *fans face* is one of the hottest heroes in a loooooonnnnggg time). Keep in mind that the hardcover and Kindle editions of the next book, Fifth Grave Past the Light, will be released on July 9th (two days from today!!!) so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a copy of this book hot off the presses.

Media News

Outlander (Outlander series #1) by Diana Gabaldon (Dell, 1992)

Any fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series? If so, you’ll be either pleased or dismayed to read that the book series has been made into a TV series which will debut on the Starz network come this October. According to the excellent blog, The Good, The Bad and The Unread, Scottish actor Sam Heughan has been cast to play Jamie Fraser. Worried? Don’t be. “Sam is 33, stands 6’3″ tall, and his Scottish brogue portraying one of the most-loved characters in literature will definitely make the ladies swoon. More importantly, of course, is that he’s perfect for this part and will make Jamie come to life on the screen.”

Reader Fun

In case you were wondering, this is what a RITA award looks like. Pretty cool, yes?

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (an AMAZING blog) is still doing their RITA Reader Challenge. If you love romance (any subgenre), I’d encourage you to take a look at this challenge, which lists all the winners in various categories from the Romance Writers Association. This a great way of making sure you get a taste of all the great books published in the last year. What if you missed one? You may not agree that they deserved an award, but it’s fascinating to note what the judges (published authors as well as agents and publishers) think constitute the best of the best.

Entranced Publishing, a wonderful new ebook press, is having a Christmas in July giveaway where they are giving away one copy of every book they’ve ever published. For a new publishing house, there has been a ton of great buzz about their editing and their payment model, with the result being some stand out books in a short period of time. Fill out their entry form before July 31st for your chance to win!

Australian romance readers! You lucky down-under dogs, the Australian Romance Readers Association is having a book signing event in Freemantle on August 17th that has over 56 authors attending, including powerhouses like Julia Quinn, Nina Bruhns, and Carole Mortimer. Wow! And the signings will be held at three public libraries (further proving the connection between public librarians and supporting romance). Have I mentioned how much I’d like to visit Australia one day?

Authors After Dark are having a giveaway for tickets to their conference (in Savannah this year!) August 14th to the 18th. Anyone who enjoys paranormal romance or urban fantasy should consider following this blog and learning more about the organization. The annual conference is quite small and you get tons of author time, which would be amazing for any fan! Enter by July 11th for your chance to win.

The Romance Publishing Industry

Is historical romance on the decline? Jeez, I hope not! But with the numbers dipping slightly, The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills discuss if the glut of Regencies on the market are stifling the genre. I agree with them that this is probably just the usual ebb and flow experienced by so many categories of romance, but it’s worth pondering.

In an unbelievable merger, Penguin and Random House have now joined forces, making them a force to be reckoned with. In romance terms, Random House publishes authors like Danielle Steel, Sophie Kinsella, and E. L. James (yes, that E. L. James!) under their imprints of Delacorte, Dial and Vintage, and Penguin controls the romance powerhouse Berkley (Jennifer Ashley, Jaci Burton, Nalini Singh) and Jove (Nora Roberts), so I feel that Random House really boosted their piece of the romance pie with this merger. For your consideration, does anyone besides me think the company’s new name should be Random Penguin? Imagine the logo!

Great Deals

It Had to Be You (Lucky Harbor #7) by Jill Shalvis (Grand Central, May 28, 2013)

If you didn’t have a chance to enjoy the most recent Jill Shalvis Lucky Harbor novel, It Had to Be You, fear not. Ebook readers can take advantage of the $2.99 deal going on right now on Amazon (and I think other retailers).

Julie Garwood’s classic, Rebellious Desire, is on sale in Kindle format for only $.99 for those of us wanting a walk down memory lane. Not to make you feel old, but this puppy was originally published in 1991 – 23 years ago! I’m not sure how long it will be at this price, so if you’re looking to bolster your classic romance backlist, this is a nice addition.

One Perfect Night by Bella Andre is a stand alone short story/novella originally published in 2011 and just reissued with a new cover. Right now, it’s available for free. I haven’t read it but, hey, it’s Bella Andre, so it’s bound to be great! For those of you who haven’t read her Sullivan series, get the lead out. This great family is available in ebook form and now in print via Harlequin and is tops in the contemporary romance category.

Forgotten Sins (Sins Brothers #1) by Rebecca Zanetti (Forever, July 2, 2013)

Looking pretty intriguing on the paranormal romance front is Forgotten Sins, the first book in the Sins Brothers series by Rebecca Zazetti which just came out on July 2nd. A husband returns to his wife after turning up in the hospital with amnesia, yet he abandoned the love of his life two years ago. Does his amped hearing and powerful strength have something to do with his missing years? This new series is billed on Goodreads as “Romantic Suspense with a slight paranormal twist about a band of brothers who carry unnatural powers genetically engineered into them by a black ops military unit.” At only $2.99 for 384 pages, I’m excited to try it!

The Latest Men Out of Uniform Novel by Rhonda Nelson Proves She’s Surely “The Professional”

23 Nov

The Professional (Men Out of Uniform #13) by Rhonda Nelson (Harlequin Blaze, November 1, 2012)

Someone needs to explain to me how I have managed to be such a huge fan of romance – and of the Harlequin Blaze line, for that matter – yet prior to today, I haven’t read any Rhonda Nelson. What was I thinking? Nelson is renowned for her great sense of humor, well-paced books and a series that weaves previously loved characters right into the fabric of each new book. Her Men Out of Uniform series has been published since 2006, with this book, The Professional, being the thirteenth book in the series. That is a lot of staying power.

Her excellent reputation is well-deserved. I spent my time alternating between smiling like a lunatic at the characters’ antics and fanning myself from the outstanding sexual heat between our hero and heroine. I mean, when the first time the two main characters have sex, it’s under the desk on the floor of an office they are breaking into? That’s “I gotta have you right now” sex and I can usually turn down my thermostat when I’m reading it.

As with the whole series, our hero has recently joined the now well-established Ranger Security firm. Jeb Anderson left the Army Rangers after he ignored his instincts and obeyed his commander, resulting in everyone on the team he led being killed. His guilt over being the sole survivor when he was responsible for their lives is profound, but he’s trying to get on with his life and do right by this job.

His first assignment is an odd one. All the times he’s been undercover, it’s never been as the grandson of a Viagra-dealing womanizer at an old folks’ home, but there’s a first time for everything. Okay, so the “home” is actually a high-end retirement village that’s basically spring break for the over 60 set, but Jed’s got a mission. Discover who has been stealing the high end jewelry items from the unsuspecting residents. Initially the resident masseuse, one Sophie O’Brien, looks like a prime suspect, but one look at her chocolate brown eyes and sweet expression – to say nothing of how everyone at the home treats her like an adopted granddaughter – and Jed’s infallible gut is telling him she’s not responsible. Something lower than his gut is also clueing him into another kind of feeling, and there’s a distinct impression that – just by seeing her – his whole world has finally changed, for the better.

Sophie knows all of the residents incredibly well. Her grandmother, who raised her since she was six, movedinto the retirement home during her final years giving Sophie the farm she grew up on and a sizable inheritance, much to the annoyance of her psychopathic family. Still missing the woman who gave her the only love and stability she ever knew, Sophie has resigned herself to being surrounded by a bunch of unofficial grandparents, all of whom are inveterate matchmakers. When one of the residents mystery “grandson” turns up, Sophie is shocked and dismayed to find that her whole body reacts to sexy Jed Anderson’s mere presence. She’s had some bad experiences with men and has sworn them off for the time being, and right now she’s indignant that a mystery person is stealing from the people she loves. She vows to stay focused and figure out what’s going on, but her body, the senior citizens of the home…and fate…seem to have other plans.

His First Noelle (Men Out of Uniform #14) by Rhonda Nelson (Harlequin Blaze, December 1, 2012)

This book honestly reminded me a little of some of the paranormal romances I enjoy with the level of destiny involved with the hero and heroine. Their unbelieveably powerful physical attraction is recognized by them both as being a sign of their rightness for one another, a fact further emphasized by their profound ability to read each other in ways never before done by even the people closest in their lives. Jed is a fabulous hero, “on fire” level of hot, but also self-deprecating when appropriate and always honest about his feelings for Sophie. She combines the best of a heroine – a rough past which she has overcome and filled with caring for the people in her life along with a strong sense of duty with her life’s work. I loved them both separately but together they were downright combustible.

And the humor! My God, Nelson is a master craftsman when it comes to funny scenes. I couldn’t decide which I liked better, the scene where Jed walks in on his pretend “grandfather” in a turquoise and black zebra-stripped speedo “ready” for his date, Jed breaking into Sophie’s farm covered in goat manure and freaking out at the peacock cry, or the discovery that the retirement home director is a dominatrix who calls herself “The Whippet”! All of them had me grinning or laughing out loud and they provided a terrific contrast to the set-the-wallpaper-on-fire sex scenes, which were as charged with emotion as they were with animal sex appeal.

Since Nelson took the time in the prologue to show the connection between Jed and his twin brother Judd, it was wonderful that Judd was basically a continual presence by reference, text, or FaceTime call throughout the novel. His book, His First Noelle (#14) is available in paperback right now, with the ebook releasing December 1. I’ll definitely be reviewing it as part of my Countdown to Christmas series of blog posts because I can’t get enough of these two! Bizarrely, neither The Professional nor His First Noelle is listed on the Goodreads Men Out of Uniform series page? Why is that?

You also cannot deny the outstanding value of this purchase. For $3.82 for the Kindle edition ($5.25 for the paperback), you get both The Professional and the first book of the Men Out of Uniform series, The Player, (448 pages!) so you have a chance to see if you like the first book of the series as much as the thirteenth book (my answer was a resounding “yes”). I think that after reading both books and discovering the first one was as compelling as the latest addition, I’m on board for Rhonda Nelson and this series, since she’s clearly, hands down, a “professional.” Thanks, Rhonda!

Make the Last Spring Snow Melt with Two “Snowed In Together” Romances

28 Apr

I have to confess for a real thing for stories about two people becoming lovers in a snowstorm, probably because I fell in love with my husband during one.  Given my penchant for them, I’m sure more than one romance I’ll write will have this trope as an element.

North of Need by Laura Kaye (Entangled Publishing, October 2011)

So I was excited when a couple of snowbound books came across my radar.  The first one, North of Need by Laura Kaye, is the first of a series entitled Hearts of the Anemoi and, since one of the characters is a snow god, falls soundly in the paranormal romance category. Young widow Megan Snowe (I know, cute, right?) has decided to spend the holidays by herself at her mountain cabin since she just hasn’t been able to get into the spirit of season. Her wonderful husband died two years ago and many of Megan’s dreams were abandoned then as well. Lonely and sad, she builds a snow family and cries when she realizes that she’s unconsciously created the one thing she believes she’ll never have.

Owen Winters (love the naming, seriously) literally appears on her doorstep practically naked and shivering.  An ancient god of winter called into corporeal form by her tears, he has heard Megan’s late husband’s plea to help and protect her.  Already in love with her from afar, Owen has taken the opportunity to obtain a temporary human form and use the snow (he needs the cold to survive) to woo her.  If Megan can admit to loving him, he would be able to stay with her forever, but her scars run deep. A major snit on the part of one of his brothers, who controls the warm weather, has the snow melting at a rapid pace. With Megan reluctant to admit to fact that she’s fallen hard for this gorgeous stranger, this change of weather puts their future in jeopardy.

Laura Kaye makes this hero and heroine incredibly appealing and easy to love. Megan is a beautiful but damaged heroine who realizes that everything you love can be taken away in a moment, an awareness that has her reluctant to risk her heart again.  Owen is temptation personified, not just in his hot body (not hard to believe he’s a god from the description here) but from his loving personality.  His indulgence in the sensory ability of his new form make for some of the best and most erotic scenes in the book! No one who takes a chance on this well priced volume (I only paid $4.99 for my Kindle edition) will be sorry with this happily ever after or the hints at the future books in the series.

Snowbound with a Stranger by Rebecca Rogers Maher (Carina Press, May 28, 2012)

Browsing my new account in NetGalley led me straight to Carina Press‘ latest offerings and I was thrilled to stumble across the contemporary romance novella Snowbound with a Stranger by Rebecca Rogers Maher. While the snow aspect drew me to the story, I am also on a novella binge since I’m finishing up a class in writing novellas (given by the ever wonderful Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of the Romance Writers of America).

Burned out nurse Dannie Marino is hiking with colleagues from her hospital and trying not to notice hunky Lee, a recent addition and expert hiker. As the temperature drops, Dannie gets separated from the group by accident but doesn’t start to panic until the snow begins to fall.  Luckily before she succumbs to hypothermia, Lee finds her and is able to get her back to the cabin owned by Dannie’s doctor friend, who has led the rest of the group back down the mountain to safety.

With no electricity or other people to distract them, Lee and Dannie are forced to face the crackling electricity (and I mean crackling, you’ll never look at a Scrabble board the same way again) between them. Lee is flooded with not only desire but emotion he hasn’t felt since 9/11 and losing his wife to cancer nine years ago, while Dannie discovers that, while it’s cold outside, her prickly layer is softening as Lee sees through the job and relationship defenses she’s held in place for years.

Rebecca Rogers Maher could teach her own novella class without a doubt. Even with only 73 pages to play, she not only crafts a compelling love story between two damaged individuals but paints vivid characters with just a few brush strokes. I appreciated that her protagonists were older (late thirties, early forties) yet still just as sexy as the taut young bodies we enjoy reading about in other romance novels. Maher also won my admiration with the way she portrayed Lee’s complex sexuality. While Dannie comments that his occupation of social worker means he’s a nice guy and probably a beta, Lee has no trouble dominating her in bed and taking initiative, while managing not be the typical non-communicative alpha teetering on the brink of the jackass moniker.

The heat of summer will be here soon enough, but for now, I’m going to enjoy my time with a good snowbound romance.  Hope you manage to keep warm!

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