Tag Archives: Bonnie Vanak

Don’t Miss It! New and Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff, and Great Deals You Might Have Missed

4 May

New and Upcoming Books

Paranormal doyenne N. J. Walters has recently published the first in her new Salvation Pack series, Wolf at the Door, about a paranormal writer who in the process of getting information about werewolves discovers that they are actually…gasp…real. When the werewolf hero realizes that this woman he’s supposed to silence is his mate, he also is aware that the head of the rival pack – who is also his father – will do anything to get rid of her.

Any reader who enjoys steamy category romance is familiar with the wonderful writing of Leslie Kelly, so they’ll be pleased to hear that she’s recently published another wonderful book under Harlequin Blaze’s “Unrated” label (mrrrroooowwww), Double Take. When a sex therapist gains way to much media attention, she retreats to an island off the coast of Michigan as a substitute teacher hoping to not even think about sex for a while. That intention is blown out of the water upon meeting former Chicago cop Mike Santori who came to this safe small island to settle down and avoid danger. Falling for a hot teacher who is more than she appears was not part of the plan, but he’ll do everything he can – and use every one of her naughty toys – at his disposal to strip her of her defenses.

Kaylea Cross is one of the best military romance writers out there, so I was elated to discover that the most recent book in her outstanding Bagram Ops series is out. Danger Close has Army nurse Lt. Erin Kelly ready for her well-deserved leave back home in Montana, but plans go awry when a strange man unintentionally puts her in the way of the American-born terrorist currently enemy number one. This places her in tremendous danger and, now that his cover has been blown, CIA Operative Wade Sandberg isn’t about to leave Erin’s safety in anyone else’s hands, particularly as the man he once guarded hunts them down.

As historical romance fans wait for Erin Knightley‘s next full-length novel to come out, they will be elated knowing that she’s given readers a terrific novella, Deceived by a Duke, as the next installment in her All’s Fair in Love series. Published this past Friday, this 97 page morsel of goodness has a responsible duke who takes his dissolute younger brother to Spain with the caveat that if he agrees to live minus their station for a month, his debts will be paid. What no one expected was the English beauty who helps them with the local language, but what will happen when she realizes that her heart which has been captured has been deceived by a duke? At only $.99, there’s no mistaking this novella as a great bargain, so grab it now while you wait for The Baron Next Door, her Prelude to a Kiss novel, to be published on June 3rd.

Harlequin is embarking on another glamorous multi-author series, this time centering on a decadent Monte Carlo hotel, The Chatsfield (the name of the series as well as the surname of the billionaire family who owns it). First up is Lucy Monroe with Sheikh’s Scandal, about a ruler who is jilted in the hotel, only to find solace in a beautiful chambermaid who he promptly whisks back to his home country when circumstances arise that their night together may result in pregnancy. Published on May 1st, the next sequel will be Playboy’s Lesson (debuting on June 1st) by Melanie Milburne and then the gothic sounding Billionaire’s Secret by Chantelle Shaw due out in August.

Everyone knows how much I adore M. L. Buchman, so I’m thrilled that his new spin-off series, Firehawks, debuts this coming Tuesday, May 6th, with Pure Heat. Fans who enjoyed his incredible Night Stalkers series know that our favorite couple in those books have taken the news of their pregnancy and decided to turn civilian, flying helicopters in dangerous fire-fighting situations. In this opening novel, an emotionally shut down forest fire specialist who has lost loved ones in the line of duty is assigned as a co-pilot to a hot former smokejumper. When they discover a terrorist threat in the wilderness, it’s hard to determine what’s hotter, they’re attraction to each other or the fire they are desperate to conquer.

If you love animals, hot men and Jill Shalvis (and who doesn’t?) you must adore this contemporary author’s Animal Magnetism series, set in a small Western town where hot vets seem to be a speciality. You can chalk up one more citizen who fits this description as her latest book, Then Came You, focuses on a veterinary intern fulfilling her vet school scholarship by serving a year in a clinic in the middle-of-nowhere Idaho, only to come face to face with her hot one night stand at the Reno veterinary conference she attended. The problem? He’s her boss. Unfortunately we’re going to have to wait until July 1st for this one, but I have a feeling the summer is going to be a little bit hotter! FYI, be sure to enter the Goodreads giveaway before May 9th to see if you can win a copy. 🙂

Lauren Dane’s long-awaited Hurley Boys series is driving the anticipation higher with both the cover release for The Best Kind of Trouble, the first book in the series, which will debut on August 26th in print and September 1st in ebook form (it’s an annoying Harlequin thing) as well as the pre-order page for the second book, Broken Open, going live despite its November 25th release date. Having met these sexy rock stars who stay close to their small-town Hood River, Oregon roots in Dane’s fabulous book Lush, we’ve been chomping at the bit waiting for all their stories. The Best Kind of Trouble focuses on the town’s librarian, a once wild girl in her youth, who has mastered self-control and now has her life going to plan…that is, until Paddy Hurley, the musician with whom she once spent two unbelievable weeks returns to tempt her.

Whether you love them for the amazing writing, Victorian Era Highlanders (who are NOT as tame as their English counterparts) or the loving mess of the Mackenzie family, any installment of Jennifer Ashley’s Highland Pleasures series is a must-read. Fans of quality historical romance will be thrilled to note the next book in the series, Rules for a Proper Governess, is available for pre-order, with a release date of October 7, 2014.  This book focuses on one of the McBride men (related to the Mackenzies via the sister who married Lord Cameron), the brilliant barrister Sinclair whose widowed status has led to an amazing career but two hellion children. When a thief manages to tame his wayward offspring, he offers her a job as their governess, but pocket watches aren’t the only thing she knows how to steal, and Sinclair begins to realize that his heart is in danger as well.

Contests and Giveaways

RT Book Reviews magazine has a terrific giveaway featuring the first novel of M. L. Buchman’s Firehawks series (his spin off from his successful – and amazing – Night Stalkers books, see above description in “Upcoming Books”), Pure Heat, as well as Julie Ann Walker‘s latest Black Knights Inc. book, Hell for Leather. That’s a lot of muscled alpha male, but I know you can handle it, so enter their Rafflecopter giveaway before May 8th for your chance to win!

Susan Mallery has an incredibly successful series with her long-running Fool’s Gold collection, and now you can win the fourteenth book, Before We Kiss, in a Goodreads giveaway. With a former pro-football player with terrible luck with woman and the one night stand he runs from when he discovers a room filled with wedding gowns, this is classic Mallery, so readers will enjoy this journey to a happily ever after. Be sure to enter by May 6th for your chance to win!

Kat Latham and Ashley LeMar are doing a wonderful giveaway for the month of May in honor of Memorial Day’s focus on our nation’s men and women in the military. Entitled 2014 Read, White and Blue, it’s goal is to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund, which provides assistance to military personnel (and their families) who have have been injured or are coping with illness. It’s a great cause and helping out and promoting the giveaway enters you to win the grand prize, a Kindle, donated ebooks, custom coffee mugs, a cozy blanket and a $20 Starbucks gift card! Enter before May 31st and make your Memorial Day about more than a great cookout with friends and family.

Western romance fans instantly recognize Linda Lael Miller‘s name, so they’ll be pleased to discover that she has a new series, The Brides of Bliss County, debuting at the end of May and the first book, The Marriage Pact, is available as a prize in a Goodreads giveaway for readers who hustle over and enter before May 6th. Considering this has a best friend’s little sister, a divorced hero who once saved the heroine from making a bad marriage and heat that cannot be denied, I’ll be reading this one whether or not I win!

Fun Stuff

Anyone needing a blast from romance novels past should check out BuzzFeed’s hilarious “19 Things Fabio Is Really Thinking on Romance Novel Covers.” Readers who lived through the bodice ripper days of the 1980s will recognize more than a few of these covers!!

If you’ve got a honey bunny who needs a love card, romance enthusiasts need look no further than Meow Kapow shop on Etsy and their hilarious (to the library geeks among us) “checking you out” card. Be sure to look at their other delightfully retro and quirky offerings – there are more than few stocking stuffers and hostess gifts in this great shop!

Great Deals

Pirate fans will want to take a look at Pleasing the Pirate by Sharon Cullen which features a spunky Highland miss determined to save her brother from imprisonment so he can take over the management of their lands. Unfortunately, she has to seek help from a handsome Sassenach buccaner who has little use for her money, but plenty for her body. That her brother is exactly the person the crown has asked him to apprehend is an unexpected bonus, but his obligations prove less and less appealing the more time he spends with this Scottish beauty. Only $.99 for 261 pages on Amazon!

Shifter and romantic suspense fans will want to take note that Wolf Protector by Milly Taiden (part of her Federal Paranormal Unit series) is also currently only $.99. I enjoyed this book tremendously as it stars a psychic heroine who keeps herself tightly under control, particularly around her devastatingly handsome coworker, who she has labeled trouble of the player variety. The hero, a wolf shifter, knows this woman is who he’s been waiting for but his patience is reaching its limit as she continues to ignore him. When a gruesome serial killer has them both working together, no one is denying the fiery attraction between them. But does their love come too late? With the next book in the series, Dangerous Protector, just out this past Friday, this is a great opportunity to see if you want to commit yourself to the series (which I think you will!).

Erotic author Jasmine Haynes has the first of her Open Invitation series, Invitation to Seduction, available for free right now on Amazon. With an artist heroine low on confidence, a bachelorette party at an exclusive club and a hero whose fallen for the heroine from afar and will do anything to get her now that he’s seen her in person, we’ve reached “fan yourself” territory. Grab it now as a present to yourself.

We’ve got to feature at least one awesome book bundle, and this one is a doozy! If you haven’t yet picked up Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance, get on it, as it gives you quite a line-up of authors for only $.99! With Jennifer Ashley’s Bodyguard (a fabulous novella from her Shifters Unbound series) heading the list, the bundle also features powerhouse writers like Alyssa Day, Felicity Heaton, Erin Kellison, Laurie London, Erin Quinn, Bonnie Vanak and Caris Roane. WOW!

May means the advent of romance authors everywhere raising money for Brenda Novak’s Online Auction to benefit Diabetes Research and this amazing book bundle, A Sweet Life Boxed Set, has fourteen contemporary romances from best-selling authors with all proceeds headed straight to that charity. At only $.99 for 1500 pages of great writing, it’s not just the research that’s benefiting, particularly with authors like Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Heather Graham, Susan Mallery, Brenda Novak (the fundraiser herself!), Susan Wiggs, and Debbie Macomber among others. Don’t let the “sweet” in the title fool you either – there’s a variety of sensuality levels from steamy to sweet between these covers.

Happy reading! 🙂

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of October 20, 2013

20 Oct

Upcoming Books and New Releases

It’s no secret that I adore Lauren Dane’s writing, so I was thrilled to see that she’s partnering with author Megan Hart to publish a duology (is that what you call an anthology with two stories?) on December 3rd entitled There All Along. The stories sound amazing, but even more intriguing that (despite the cover – not that I’m complaining) these stories are set in futuristic worlds. Considering Dane nailed science fiction romance in her jaw-droppingly awesome Federation Chronicles series, I feel like I’m in good hands. As usual.

Rock star romance seemed wicked hot right now, and the feedback for Crash Into Me by Tracy Wolff tells me this particular author is one to watch. Based around the band Shaken Dirty (mrrroooww), this series will work through the sexy romances of its members, with the first book focusing on the lead singer of the sister of another one of the band’s members. Bring on the music, people.

If you’re beginning to think about holiday romance, you might want to take a closer look at the Fiction River anthology Christmas Ghosts, featuring stories from romance authors like M. L. Buchman, Mary Jo Putney, Kristine Grayson and Kathryn Rusch. Combining holiday romance with a dash of the paranormal sounds like a great idea to me (that is what Dickens capitalized on after all), so I want this under the Christmas tree (or at least the virtual one on my Kindle).

While this could totally go in my “Great Deals” section, it is so awesome (and won’t be published until November 10th) that I wanted to feature it here. For only a week (and I think that’s ending soon!), the 10 book bundle of Dangerous Attraction, featuring award-winning authors like Kaylea Cross, Jill Sanders, and Rebecca York is only $.99 on Amazon. Pre-order it at this great price and lock in an amazing value while perhaps finding a new favorite author (Kaylea Cross won’t steer you wrong, I promise!).

Filing also under the “holy crap what a great deal!” and the recent releases category is the Dark and Dangerous: Six-in-One Hot Paranormal Romances collection – also for only $.99 right now. This would be an amazing price for just Jennifer Ashley’s Hard Mated, one of her fantastic Shifters Unbound novels but that it also has books from Bonnie Vanak and Laurie London (and other authors I’m dying to explore) pushes this into the instant “click to buy” territory.

I love Tawny Weber and her Blaze books with Harlequin are always a must-buy for me, including her upcoming holiday novel, Naughty Christmas Nights. Two competitors in the sexy lingerie business go head-to-head to win an important department store account but find themselves just as intrigued to try out the merchandise…with each other.

Contests and Giveaways

Romance readers don’t often get a lot of dystopian offerings, so interested parties might want to check out Ellen Connor’s paranormal dystopian Dark Age Dawning trilogy, particularly since the first book, Nightfall, is part of a Goodreads giveaway if you enter prior to October 21st.  When the daughter of a prophet is kidnapped and taken to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest, she does not expect that the ex-Marine who cares for her can be a believer in her father’s ravings when she is not. But as the world changes exactly as her dad anticipated, these two people must ride out the Change together, and see if they can forge a new future in a world gone wild. Interesting to note that Ellen Connor is the pen name for two wonderful, established authors, Ann Aguirre and Carrie Lofty, so you should definitely take a chance on this one!

Are you in the Atlanta area at the end of March? If so, you might want to enter the contest for The Novel Experience Event Giveaway where you could win a multi-day VIP pass to the author events and signings to be held at the Hyatt Regency March 28-30th. Sponsored by Romance Ink, the same literary nonprofit that brings you the popular Authors After Dark conference. With authors like Carrie Ann Ryan, Melissa Schroeder and Joey W. Hill, this conference has me wishing Georgia was a little closer!

Nora Roberts fans are busy awaiting the first book in her paranormal romance The Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy, Dark Witch, which has an appropriate debut date of October 29th, but did you know you might be able to win a copy? Enter the Goodreads giveaway before October 21st to see if you can get a free copy of this anticipated novel. With Roberts’ trademark wonderful characters, an Irish setting complete with castle, and a dark evil that wants to deny love when it takes root, this is bound to be a worthy read for the dark nights surrounding Halloween.

With only three days left, historical fiction fans will want to enter the FictionVixen rafflecopter giveaway for several upcoming releases, including Elizabeth Hoyt’s Duke of Midnight, Eileen Dreyer’s Once a Rake, Jennifer Delamere’s A Lady Most Lovely, Anne Barton’s Once She Was Tempted, and Lily Dalton’s Never Desire a Duke. Entering couldn’t be easier and the payoff is tremendous.

Fans of the TV show Once Upon a Time or readers who love reinterpreted fairy tales should take a look at Jessica Aspen’s novel The Dark Huntsman. A witch trying to save her family from a murderous queen is pursued by the queen’s enslaved huntsman, who soon decides that he can break free of the queen by using this young woman’s power. But his commitment to freedom is soon surpassed by his feelings for the brave woman attempting to do the right thing and he must decide between his life and hers. Enter before October 22nd for a chance to win.

Harlequin’s Paranormal Romance blog is having a giveaway of five of their recent books, including The Night is Forever by Heather Graham, Sleep with the Lights On by Maggie Shayne, Claimed by the Demon by Doranna Durgin, Out of the Night by Trish Milburn, Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder. Just leave a comment letting them know what magical power you’d love to have and why by October 28th at midnight and you’ll have entered!

Fun Stuff

Maybe because I have Jill Shalvis on the brain (see Great Deals) but like books, movies that feature animals in any capacity always draw me. But what happens when said animal meets an unfortunate end? (I hysterically sobbed for about an hour after I Am Legend because I did not see that coming!). Luckily for me, the website Does the Dog Die? The Most Important Movie Question exists. With icons hinting at the content (happy dog face for every animal is okay, crying face for you know what, and troubled face for the in-between), the reviews solely let you know what happens to the animal(s) in the movie. And the animal does not have to be the focus of the film. The synopsis for Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) is “Ron Burgundy’s dog, Baxter, is punted off of a bridge. He eventually shows up again, having miraculously survived.” Why do you need to know more?

Great Deals

In anticipation of the upcoming new release in her Animal Magnetism series, Rumor Has It (November 5th) fans of Jill Shalvis will be pleased to note that the third book, Rescue My Heart, is on sale on Amazon for only $1.99. Since this is the book that precedes the one about to come out (and the heroine of Rumor Has It is introduced in this book), this bargain is both fabulous and practical to get you all caught up.

OMG. Cynthia Eden‘s fantastic paranormal series, Bound, has been bundled as Forever Bound so you can get the first four books for a mere $.99. What a deal!! I love all these books but Bound in Sin (#3) about the werewolf who thinks his teenage love has been killed only to see her return years later – as a vampire, his mortal enemy – is heart-wrenchingly awesome. Be sure to take advantage of this wonderful bargain. This deal is supposedly for only one week (and I’m not sure of the start date) so act quickly.

Delilah Marvelle’s Mistress of Pleasure historical romance is currently discounted to $2.42 (which seems like a weird price, but who am I to judge?). Featuring the granddaughter of a courtesan and the duke to whom she succumbs, this novel seems to have some intriguing twists and turns worth exploring, particularly at that price!

The ever-funny Molly Harper’s The Care and Feeding of Vampires is discounted right now to a mere $1.99. Considering this is the first in her Half Moon Hollow series, it might be a nice way to introduce yourself to this outstanding paranormal author known for her mix of sensuality and humor. Consider it a Halloween present to yourself.

Carla Cassidy’s Western (with a dash of suspense) Cowboy with a Cause is free for download on Amazon right now and it’s worth checking out. A former dancer with health issues and a sexy tenant is a hot combination, but the suspense element and the fact that the heroine is in a wheelchair take this story into interesting territory.

Fever by Joan Swan got rave reviews when it came out last year, but if you missed this thrill-a-minute tale of a wronged convict and the woman he kidnaps, you can grab it at Amazon for the discounted price of $1.99 right now.

That’s it for this week. Happy Reading, everyone! 🙂

Countdown to Christmas: Vampires Celebrate the Holiday in Holiday With a Vampire III from Silhouette Nocturne

15 Dec

You know I’m trying to approach my Countdown to Christmas series touching on a variety of subgenres in the world of romance, and I realized I had no vampires. *gasp* Paranormal romance with vampires and werewolves is a huge subset of the fiction we all enjoy, so I had to have some representation, right?

I stumbled across the fact that, for a few years running, Silhouette Books produced a holiday anthology with a vampire focus, collecting novellas from well-known authors of category romance in this area and inserting a holiday season and some snow.

The spirit of Christmas is most assuredly not the focus, so don’t go looking to this anthology for that. This collection is more about hot, hot vampires finding that one person meant for them right around the holiday. Honestly, my favorite Christmas vampire story comes from the best vampire series ever, the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. In the anthology, The Bite Before Christmas, Frost published “Home for the Holiday” where Cat and Bones try and have an ideal Christmas but circumstances throw a serious wrench in the works.

But if you haven’t read Jeaniene Frost (and for goodness sake, what are you waiting for?), then a collection like Holiday With a Vampire III can satisfy that craving at an affordable price and with no need for understanding complicated backstory or series’ arcs.

“Sundown” by Linda Winstead Jones

Interestingly enough, while Linda Winstead Jones is no stranger to paranormal romance, she had never written a vampire romance before this one. When speaking to her writing group about how she’d probably never do one, this story just sort of popped into her head…and stayed there. So she decided to write it down and here we are.

Untouchable (Emperor’s Bride #1) by Linda Winstead Jones (Berkley, August 5, 2008) – Jones is known for sexy fantasy novels with a paranormal element

Abby is the owner of the Sundown Bar in Budding Corner, Alabama, a perfect town as it’s not too small nor too big. That’s helpful because as a four-hundred year old vampire, Abby needs a certain degree of anonymity. Because of her seniority and inherent power, other vampires are drawn to her and the bar for guidance. The city attracts the rogue vampires and the small towns have everyone in your business, so Budding Corner is just right.

Except for one particular human. Sexy detective Leo Stryker doesn’t seem to have the natural avoidance issues of the other humans who patronize the bar. He is drawn to the lovely Abby and keeps asking her out, unfazed by her stream of rejection. But when a patron is murdered, her throat ripped out and her body drained of blood, he has to question the last people who saw her alive, and they were all at the bar.

Abby is incensed that this murder happened on her turf, possibly by someone she knows. That it keeps throwing the temptation of Leo in her path is not helping her resist her craving for his blood and his body, not necessarily in that order. Taking him as a lover would endanger her control of the area as vampires see humans merely as pets with a short shelf life, but she can’t seem to stay away, even when she has wipe his mind after every encounter. Planting the suggestion that he should leave her alone doesn’t help, since he keeps coming back. But when whatever killed that girl puts Leo in its sights, Abby might not be fast enough to save the person who suddenly means more than her own life.

If this is Jones’ first vampire story, she would do well to try writing another – it was fantastic! I liked how vampire society existed right alongside humans but they didn’t realize its presence except to shy away from its members, a nice mammalian reminder that we are still animals who sense predators. Most convincing, though, was the cool and emotionally distant attitude of vampire toward humans. That seemed like a logical development when vampires knew humans were going to die (and that they might be the one to kill them). Leo breaks through Abby’s shell and you feel the pain every time they make a connection and she’s forced to wipe his mind. A terrific ending (and epilogue) that makes me cheer for the patrons of the Sundown Bar, wherever it may be located!

“Nothing Says Christmas Like a Vampire” (Secret Vampire Society #2) by Lisa Childs

Sienna Briggs is standing over her grandmother’s coffin right before Christmas, crying. She’s truly alone now, all her family dead, and trying to keep her promise to stay cheerful and celebrate the holiday but it feels impossible. When a handsome man with a familiar diamond-shaped scar on his chin sweeps in claiming she has to come with him so he can protect her, she thinks he’s a crazy con man attracted by the obituary in the paper. Until the memory of him, looking exactly as he is now, resurfaces. This man pulled her from the wreckage of the car accident that killed her parents when she was seven. She promptly faints into his arms.

The Secret Vampire Society (Secret Vampire Society #1) by Lisa Childs (Silhouette Nocturne, October 1, 2009)

Vampire Julian Vossimer knows what he’s doing is wrong, but he can’t help himself. He felt guilty he couldn’t do more to spare this woman pain twenty years ago when she was a child and now that she’s a gorgeous woman with a strong pull on him, he’s not about to let her be killed by his kind. Sienna doesn’t know that what she thought were drug-induced ravings during her grandmother’s last days was actually the truth. Julian’s powerful grandfather suspected Sienna’s grandmother of knowing about the secret society of vampires, but he couldn’t prove it until she was overheard in the nursing home by a planted spy. The grandmother died naturally, but now by law, Sienna must also.

I’m actually okay with the instant love at first sight (or sexual encounter) trope, particularly when one or both characters have paranormal qualities. There was an interesting backstory with Sienna’s grandmother rejecting Julian decades earlier because she knew (she had mind-reading abilities) that he was just fascinated with her beauty versus the man who actually loved her (Sienna’s grandfather). Julian has felt unworthy of love during his long existence with a string of distant relatives and other rejections, so when he falls head over heels – finally! – with Sienna, he doesn’t tell her, worried that she also will reject him. All Sienna hears is that the man she just slept with in a bone-melting way wants to marry her to protect her, but she is wearing her grandmother’s ring to remind her of her promise to only marry for love. While she’s fallen, it doesn’t seem like he has, and her trying to gain a little distance could result in both of their deaths.

A couple things. First, I happen to believe that if you had a secret society, you wouldn’t refer to it as “The Secret Vampire Society,” you’d come up with a better code name, but that’s clearly me. Childs, a well-known name in category paranormal, has an entire series built around the Secret Society of vampires and it’s very popular. This story is technically the second in the series (see above cover for the first), so if you enjoy it, you’ll have lots of other books to enjoy. I found the ending a little saccharine (and Sienna just gains her grandmother’s mind-reading ability all of a sudden?) but loved how Julian and Sienna had a happy ending after years of suffering.

“Unwrapped” (Draicon Werewolves #7) by Bonnie Vanak 

Bonnie Vanak is also famous with vampire romance fans, but her stories have a bit of a twist. Her vampires live in a world alongside the Draicon, the werewolves who also have their own society and traditions, and the two are usually enemies.

Unless they are more, that is. Adrian is the powerful son of his vampire clan leader, but is serving the term of his banishment in a mansion in Maine until Christmas Eve, when his father and elders come to evaluate his worthiness to return to the clan and be the heir. But six unruly goblins who are his friends (they are hilarious!) give him an ugly doll for Christmas, an enchanted one who just happens to be the beautiful werewolf Adrian is still in love with, despite his best efforts not to be.

Taken by the Alpha Wolf (Draicon Werewolves #1) by Bonnie Vanak (Amazon Digital Services, June 24, 2011)

After Sarah is dunked in a pool in the dead of a Maine winter, her magical ability to transform kept at bay with a silver bracelet, the last person she expects to see is her vampire friend from all those years ago. Adrian makes it clear he feels horribly betrayed when she left him on that beach to fight her enemies, the Morphs (evil werewolves who have killed their own kind and taken on the ability to transform into any creature). He still doesn’t know what called her away or what happened afterward, and she’s horrified to discover that the vampires present at the battle did not help him fight the way she assumed they would. Instead those cold representatives of his race watched him get beaten and then left him in the sun to suffer permanent scarring until he begged for their help. That incident began the term of his banishment since he had broken their laws to help a werewolf.

Adrian doesn’t want to feel anything but distance seeing Sarah again but she’s even more lovely than ever, if thinner and clearly exhausted. He tries to let his anger fuel their interaction, but she was his best friend as well as the untouchable woman he was in love with. Discovering that her destined mate died long ago without her ever being with him jolts him into the awareness that she might possibly be within reach, even if just for one night. They cannot be together by the rules of both their kind, but this tie between them cannot be denied. When he discovers that she did not maliciously leave him, but in fact left for a horrifying but very good reason, he realizes what a hell her life has been the last decade while he was wallowing. When their mutual enemies resurface, they both have a chance to conquer what tore them apart, but it might not be enough to keep them together.

In the romance world it’s not uncommon for one of the hero/heroine pair to know that they’ve met the person destined for them, but for whatever reason (they are too young, circumstances aren’t right, blah, blah, blah) they can’t be together and they sleep with other people in an effort to ignore what they know deep in their heart. Major kudos to Adrian who knows that there is no one but Sarah for him the moment he meets her eleven years earlier, and who remains completely celibate since – even after he thinks she betrayed their friendship by leaving him on the sand on that beach. He doesn’t even kiss Sarah out of respect for her being promised to a mate!

Adrian was the perfect tortured vampire (is there any other kind?) and Sarah was so brave with everything she’d been through. Her injury at the hands of someone she loved and trusted was heartbreaking and finding out just how close that tie was broke my heart. While I felt the ending was a little tidy with two races putting aside some rather long-standing animosity, certainly there was an “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” vibe happening, so I’m willing to go along with it. I loved seeing them both happy after eleven years of suffering and hope they keep those awesome goblins around.

This anthology provided some solid vampire fare with a little injection of Christmas angst, enough to make your grateful for having a not-so-tortured holiday! With novellas from some famous authors in the paranormal category romance world, this is a nice way to sample the writing styles of women who can serve up many more books if you find yourself clicking with their view of the vampire world. While they might prefer red for a different reason, these sexy vampires are all ready to spread their version of holiday cheer. 🙂

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