Tag Archives: Halloween

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of November 3, 2013

3 Nov

Upcoming Books and New Releases

I think Tessa Bailey is one of contemporary romance’s hottest new writers, so I’m tapping my pretty foot waiting for the next book in her awesome Line of Duty series to come out. Thankfully Asking for Trouble will be published on November 25th (during my Thanksgiving Break, yay!!!) and features the couple I have been waiting to see. Since Brent and Hayden’s two best friends are head over heels in love they can’t help seeing a lot of each other, even though each rubs the other the wrong way. Hayden’s got a host of trouble coming from her Park Avenue family who are looking to have her get married to a rich and influential man and the rough and tumble cop who pushes her buttons is also um…pushing her buttons. After a taste of each other, Brent is determined to not let go, but Hayden wonders how on earth this hot affair could have a happy ending?

Grace Burrowes announced the final installment of the MacGregor Trilogy, The MacGregor’s Lady, will come out February 4, 2014. I love it that she dabbles with American heiresses thrown together with the aristocracy, in this case, a brooding Scottish earl mourning his secret wife who has died. When he’s forced to show a beautiful Bostonian the sights it’s the last thing he wants but he’s shocked to find she’s even less interested. Hannah Cooper simply wants her visit to end (minus a new ring on her left hand) so she can get home to prevent her stepfather from putting forth his own agenda with her family. When both are stranded on the moors, family difficulties and past loves dissolve in the heat of the passion between them.

May I point out that not only is the next book in Kristen Callihan’s awesome Darkest London series, Shadowdance, due out on December 17th, but that the paperback version of it is currently marked down to $4.80 on Amazon? Mary Chase has had a difficult life but her work for the Society of the Suppression of Supernaturals gives her a great deal of purpose, particularly chasing down a murderer loose on London’s streets. But when she’s forced to work with her most antagonistic rival, Jack Talent, she can tell that the last thing he wants is her as a partner. Yet as they spend time together both their pasts are revealed, drawing them together, that is if Jack can face the demons of his past and embrace a future with the woman who might just be perfect for him.

The latest book in Toni Aleo, Assassins series (an ice hockey team, not a romantic suspense series!) will be out on December 9th, so sports romance fans should pre-order Blue LinesThis addition features Aleo’s signature playboy hero who has the hottest one-night stand of his life only to have that same woman end up on his doorstep with a positive pregnancy test two months later. At only $2.99 for the Kindle edition, it’s a bargain!

Contests and Giveaways

I love it when Harlequin bundles its books into one package and this wintery duo has me wanting to curl up in front of my fireplace to read it. A Little Bit of Holiday Magic by Melissa McClone (which has it’s own giveaway which I featured last week) has been teamed with Sophie Pembroke’s Stranded with the Tycoon. The first features a widow with a young son and the firefighter who can’t seem to keep away from them despite his current moratorium on dating while the second gives us the always terrific trope of a powerful business tycoon who manages to get snowbound with the tempting woman who won’t give him the time of day. Enter by November 4th (TODAY!) for your chance to win.

Also under the “do it today!” column is the giveaway for Sara Lindsey’s A Rogue for All Seasons, the third book in her Weston series about seven siblings all named after Shakespearean characters. This book features Henry, loved by the ladies and admired by men, who picks a prim wallflower to have a sham courtship in order to get him out of a tight spot. He’s inflamed by the woman hidden beneath the surface but having been burned before, Diana Merriwether is going to take a lot of convincing. Deadline November 4th to enter on Goodreads.

Fans of contemporary romance involving aristocrats may want to take a look at Megan Mulry’s Unruly Royals series, particularly since she’s giving away the second book in the series, If the Shoe Fits, on a Goodreads giveaway ending November 7th. The rakish brother of a Duke, no stranger to scandal, finds himself at the wrong end of his reputation for womanizing and fast cars. Devon has done such a good job hiding his intelligence that when he becomes fascinated by an American businesswoman at a wedding, he’s shocked to be shot down. Following her back to the US, Devon discovers that he is going to have to show all those qualities he’s attempted to hide since Sarah Jones cares nothing for glitz and glamor.

Cristin Harber’s romantic suspense Titan series is undergoing giveaways for the first three books of the series, with an identical deadline of November 8th for all of them. Featuring alpha males tied to the private black ops Titan group, this series gets rave reviews on Goodreads! Take a look at the first book, Winter’s Heat, the second in the series, Garrison’s Creed, or the third book, Westin’s Chase, for descriptions and to enter before November 8th.

People who love BDSM and vampires can’t ever get enough of Joey W. Hill’s Vampire Queen series, so she must be doing something great with that world and those characters! For readers who want to see if Hill’s steamy writing also makes their pulse beat a little faster, Goodreads is having a giveaway of Vampire Instinct, the seventh book in the series, ending on November 8th. This book focuses on a devoted vampire servant asked to do the one thing she can’t for her mistress and the Native American vampire to whom she turns for help.

Laura Griffin’s romantic suspense series, Tracers, features a crack FBI team and the bad guys they put behind bars. In her seventh book, Exposed, forensic photographer Maddie Callahan is in danger as she may have unknowingly captured a witnesses kidnapping on film. Agent Brian Beckman has spent time investigating the serial killer who would do anything to stay free, and with Maddie as his potential next victim, Brian realizes he would do anything to save this beautiful woman from such a fate. Enter before November 10th to win a copy!

Fans cannot get enough of Lisa Renee Jones’ Inside Out Trilogy, and if you’ve been wondering what all the fuss is about, considering entering the giveaway to win the first book of the trilogy, If I Were You. When Sara McMillan discovers journals containing one woman’s erotic life rendered in detail, she’s avidly turning every page, until the last one when she begins to suspect foul play regarding the woman’s disappearance. Deciding to do some investigating herself, Sara insinuates herself into this woman’s former life – in her job, with her friends…and with two sexy men who were both involved with the diarist. Enter by November 10th for your chance to win.

Fun Stuff

I’ve been thinking a lot about historical fiction recently (I’m taking an online MOOC through the University of Virigina about it via Coursera) and when I saw this video, I had to share it! One of the most challenging things about writing historical fiction is making a far distant location come alive, as if the reader were actually walking from a tavern to a church in a given period. While I’m glad there is no smell-a-vision for some books (!) the fact remains that it’s still hard to picture, but not so much now. In answer to a competition to combine historical artifacts with modern technologyPudding Lane Productions has used a old map of 17th century London to reconstruct the city and its appearance around the time of the Great Fire of 1666, and the results are spectacular. Studying the topography, buildings which still exist from the time period and the writing of archeological historians, this group of programmers has really made the city (albeit one without people or animals) come alive. Take a look at the fly-through video to get a glimpse of true 17th century London.

keep-calm-and-talk-dirty-58Entangled Publishing, whose Brazen line I universally love, is making November even more fun by making it Dirty Talker Appreciation Month! From November 4th to the 30th, all you have to do is tweet your favorite quotes using hashtag #DirtyTalker, post those knee-weakening lines on Entangled Brazen’s Facebook page, or make some kickass quote graphics (using a site like QuotesCover or Chisel) on Pinterest using “Brazen’s Dirty Talker” in the description line. Entangled will be choosing their favorites every Monday and giving away prizes throughout the month. FYI, I used Keep-Calm-O-Matic to create the this Keep Calm custom image!

It’s November and that means writers all over the world are attempting NaNoWriMo, the National November Writing Month where people dedicate themselves to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. For those of you not sure if you’ve got a book living inside you, consider purchasing No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty. The ebook is a mere $1.99 and a fun, motiving guide to cranking out a first draft.

For giggles you might want to take a look at Book Riot’s collection of the most adorable literary pet costumes this Halloween season. While I certainly wouldn’t think of dressing my cat like Edward Cullen or Hester Prynne, the dog dressed as Christian Grey wins my best-dressed (or would it be undressed?) award!

Great Deals

Susan King’s first book of her Maiden trilogy, The Stone Maiden, is currently on sale for $.99 on Amazon. Set in the Scottish Highlands in the 12th century, a young woman asks the king to send a warrior who can help defend her home and people from the encroachment of an evil neighbor. Since the local legend dictates that her clan’s name must be carried on in order for the land to maintain its divine protection, she stipulates that her liege should send a knight who will be willing to take her name and marry her. What she gets is a strong knight from Brittany with no intention of marrying her or taking her name although he is content to handfast her and protect her people. But the heart has its own ideas, and both of them begin to succumb to stronger feelings which only complicate their situation.

Jessica Scott is putting out a heart-warming novella this holiday season, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, a tie in with the first book in her Coming Home series. Set immediately after her first book, Because of You, I’ll Be Home for Christmas stars Army Sergeant Vic Carponti who loves his wife and his country, and probably in that order. As he gets ready to deploy to Iraq, he wants nothing more than to shelter her from his daily reality in the sandbox and his darkest fears, but Nicole is made of tougher stuff than Vic imagines, and they might both be about to see her tested. This novella is only $.99 and will be published on November 5th.

Happy reading this week!

Gone With the Wolf Delivers Strong Paranormal Romance with a Dash of Millionaire Sexy Times

24 Oct

Gone with the Wolf (Seattle Wolf Pack #1) by Kristin Miller (Entangled Publishing, April 23, 2013)

Here’s a conundrum. I love paranormal romance, but I also have a not-so-hidden fascination for those decidedly decadent millionaire-laden category romances filled with mansions and galas.

Luckily for me, Kristin Miller wrote Gone with the Wolf, the first book in her Seattle Wolf Pack series, which just happens to feature as hero one cold, logical, extremely handsome CEO of a multi-million dollar real estate holdings company, Drake Wilder. Plenty of mansions and galas here to drool over as he falls for the bartender-turned-temp.

Oh, I’m sorry…did I not mention he’s a 300 year old werewolf and she’s his destined mate?

That’s right. Miller has managed to combine two tropes I love – paranormal romances with a destined mate element and those delicious fantasy-imbued millionaire romances – into one novel. The end result is something closer to the category style of romance in tone, but with plenty of paranormal deliciousness for readers who like that but don’t want to be inundated with a ton of world-building (I for one don’t mind excessive world-building, but not everyone feels that way).

Emelia Hudson is not only a bartender but a bar-owner, that is, until she’s notified that Drake Wilder’s company has purchased her building, which means either her deed is worthless or Wilder is a ruthless shark bent on ruining the little guy. She needs money and access to figure out what’s going on, so working as a temp for his company seems like a good way to weasel her way under his defenses and challenge him with the truth.

Four Weddings and a Werewolf (Seattle Wolf Pack #2) by Kristin Miller (Entangled Publishing, October 28, 2013)

Emelia gets under Drake’s defenses all right. A couple of stolen moments at his company’s Halloween party (where she is dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, naturally, since he’s really the Big Bad Wolf) and Drake is faced with the startling conclusion that this human is his Luminary – his destined mate for whom he’s searched for centuries and given up as a myth.

There are some startling ripples in the pond from this development. Drake’s father willed the alpha slot of his pack to whichever of his sons found their destined mate first, and the stalemate has kept things calm between Drake and his unstable twin, Silas, a calm that has clearly preceded the storm that finding Emelia is about to unleash.

But she knows nothing about Drake being a werewolf, and in fact can barely stand him as a person since she’s so threatened by his company’s actions. Yet as Emelia tries to reconcile the facts with what her instincts are proclaiming – that despite her experience of one untrustworthy man after another, Drake might just be the real thing – her feelings help her fight through obstacle after obstacle to try and make their connection work for both of them.

With any other writer, I’d be scoffing at so many elements thrown together, and when I say this reminds me of a yummy category romance, I mean it. Both characters have the occasional TSTL moment, there is layer upon layer of misunderstanding, they take two steps forward and then one step back, etc., yet Miller somehow builds enough emotion and character depth that you are ready to accept it as part of the story, letting you sit back and enjoy the ride.

Since this is the start of Miller’s Seattle Wolf Pack series, I’ll be interested to read the next book in the series, Four Weddings and a Werewolf, due to come out next week. Featuring one of Emelia’s bodyguards – the cold and remote Logan – partnered with a wedding planner who hates werewolves, it’s bound to be interesting. 🙂 At a mere $2.99 a pop, these books are also priced just right for regular consumption.

Happy reading!

Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance a Great Addition to the World of Gothic Romance

30 Sep

Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance (Entangled: Flirt, September 30, 2013)

One area of romance I feel is horribly neglected is gothic romance. Because gothic is by its nature a subset of horror literature, not only does a reader experience chills similar to that of a mystery or thriller, but there is a looming sense of evil and death which pervades the story, often with the setting itself providing an additional character (and it’s usually the villain).

Sarah Ballance’s new novella, Ruby Hill, certainly fits the bill, with an estranged couple (both investigators in their own way) and a haunted insane asylum harboring a serial killer. Ballance gives us lovely, spooky writing – the kind where the sentences feel good in your mouth while they send shivers down your spine – making this novella the perfect way to launch a ghost-filled October. Since I read and re-read tons of paranormal to get me in the Halloween mood, I was elated to find Ruby Hill to be a great way to get me in the mood for the upcoming holiday. Move aside, Pinterest!

The story opens with the arrival of our hero, Corbin Malone, a cop whose boss, frustrated by a rash of unsolved murders centered on an abandoned Victorian lunatic asylum, has decided to let in a group of paranormal investigators to see what they could find out on the “ghost” front. The police want to prove that there isn’t a ghost killing the victims, and this seems like the best (and least confrontational) way to go about it. The two major problems for Corbin are that 1) his brother Cash died in this exact spot six months ago and 2) the lead investigator is none other than Ashley Pearce, the woman who he kicked out of his life when he lost his brother.

Ashley Pearce has built a reputation as a solid paranormal investigator who not only tracks ghosts but can speak to them as well. She knows she’s not to blame for Cash’s death, but that fact doesn’t make the rejection by the man who she loved any less. She has strong ties to Ruby Hill (her great-grandfather was one of the founders) and is dismayed that this place she loves has taken on an overtone of evil. With the death of not only Cash but two beautiful young women, the police are baffled since all victims died of cardiac arrest with not a mark on them…as if they were scared to death.

Corbin has never believed in the paranormal, a fact that was the only tension between him and Ashley while they were together. When he establishes the connection that each of the victims (including his brother) all were descended from people who worked at the asylum, Corbin knows he has to get himself and Ashley to safety as they both fall into the same category and are therefore a likely target for a serial killer. The only difference is that while he believes he’s dealing with a live person, Ashley is even more certain that they are going to confront a dead one.

Decaying, abandoned insane asylums are PERFECT locations for a gothic novella!

Ballance paints a vivid picture of the hospital as an entity out for revenge, with the characters experiencing waking nightmares and conditions that fill your nostrils with decay while you are reading. The dynamic between Ashley and Corbin is poignant and rife with the tension of the situation, particularly as he denies again and again what he sees because it doesn’t fit with his belief system. By not believing in ghosts, he shows no respect for Ashley and her work, possibly leading to a personal rift that could cost both of them their lives.

I noticed on Goodreads that there were some reviewers who believed that the story felt unfinished or that the romance wasn’t strong enough. Okay, it’s true there was nothing more than some hot reunion kissing, but quite honestly, the asylum was disgusting and I would have looked serious askance if they had gone further in such an unhygenic environment!

If it were any other subgenre but horror, I could understand the reviewer complaints better, but Ballance does a pitch perfect job of crafting a horror story in Ruby Hill. Yes, there is a romantic element between these two lovers who have really never let go of each other and Ballance’s choice was to play up the gothic piece, which she does beautifully. The author’s main goal in a gothic romance novel is to get the couple out alive and relatively unscathed so they can go off (into the sunrise, in this case) and craft a happily ever after. Done. Romance readers are all about expectations however, so it’s possible that some people expected more on the romance and less on the gothic. I’m really pleased with the gothic emphasis, personally!

Entangled’s Ever After imprint (designed to deliver short stories and novellas between 20,000 and 40,000 words) is giving away some terrific prizes in honor of these debuts. I’ve put the links to the Rafflecopter giveaways at the bottom of the post, so be sure to enter them after you take a look at the descriptions. Lots of gift cards to your preferred bookstore to win as well as some cool jewelry and yummy gifts!

Here are a few of the stories they are releasing this week, covering a variety of genres, including the one I just reviewed:

Find Your Ever After in Under An Hour

Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance

From her earliest memories, Ashley Pearce has been drawn to Ruby Hill Lunatic Asylum, and she’s not the only one. Decades after the abandoned hospital ended its institutional reign of torture and neglect, something lurks in the shadows. Since she’s a paranormal investigator, it’s Ashley’s job to find out what.

Crime scene expert Corbin Malone doesn’t believe in ghosts. A born skeptic, he has no interest in entertaining the hype surrounding the mysterious deaths at Ruby Hill, but he won’t turn his back while more women die. He agrees to an overnight investigation, never expecting his first encounter would be with the woman he pushed away a year ago. But when he discovers Ashley is a target, he learns his greatest fear isn’t living with his own demons, but losing her for good.

One Thousand and One Nights by Ruth Browne

Sheri spends her days fighting zombies and her nights chained to a wall, earning her every breath by telling stories to her captor Aleksy—stories that make them both forget the ruined world. Sheri could put up with the conditions—at least she knows her sister is safe in the community Aleksy leads—until she realizes she’s falling for him…even though he wants her dead.

When Aleksy allowed Sheri and her sister into his compound, he didn’t know about the zombie bite on her back. It’s only a matter of time before she turns into one of the rising dead and threatens their existence, but Aleksy has a secret need for Sheri and her stories. For everyone’s safety, he chains her to his bedroom wall, hoping for just one more day. But how long will the community allow Aleksy to ignore his own rule: always kill the infected. Always.

Mercy by Jan Coffey

Julia Klein’s life has begun to unravel—her daughter Amy has been suspended from school, Julia is about to lose her job, and her boyfriend Garrett is being transferred thousands of miles away. Overwhelmed, she and Amy leave for a weekend at a rambling old colonial inn. Julia never suspects that Garrett, desperate to find a way to keep Julia in his life, has decided to surprise her by joining them. Nor does she expect her daughter to befriend a mischievous ghost…or that she herself would be possessed by the malevolent spirit of a long-dead mother.

As a dark secret emerges, Julia, Amy, and Garrett find themselves pitted in a fight for survival against a savage presence that intends to resurrect/repeat/relive a horrible crime committed two centuries ago. And this time, Amy and Julia will be the victims.

Haunted Chemisty by Lindsey Loucks

When bookish college co-ed Alexis heads to the laundry room in her new apartment, she runs into Ian Reese, the chem lab partner she crushed on all last semester. And the guy who stood her up on their first date. But she’s down for an awkward reunion, and no better place than her creepy laundry room.

Ian has every intention of making amends, but just when Alexis begins to trust him again, a new threat calls more than their future together into question. A ghost from the apartment’s past is hellbent on revenge, and if he wants to get his girl, he’ll have to get the ghost first.

Wish Upon a Star by Michelle McLean

Ceri McKinley never stopped wishing that her ex-fiancé Jason Crickett would come back into her life. But when he finally does, he comes with a request that puts them both—and all of humanity—into jeopardy.

Jason only wants two things: to bury his brother properly and to convince Ceri to trust him again after he jilted her. But when Ceri agrees to help him get his brother back, they end up fighting for their lives as a zombie uprising threatens them all.

Northern Light by E.J. Russell

Nothing gives art fraud investigator Luke Morganstern a bigger rush than busting forgers, the low-life criminals who dare victimize true artists. But when his latest job sends him to a remote cabin in the Oregon Coast Range, he’s stunned to discover the alleged forger is his former lover, Stefan Cobbe, the most gifted painter Luke has ever known.

Stefan, left homeless and destitute after the death of his wealthy partner, doesn’t exactly deny the forgery — he claims he doesn’t remember, an excuse Luke can’t accept.

But Luke’s elderly client suggests Stefan may be telling the truth and presents another possibility – a dark presence in the woods, a supernatural fury simmering for decades. Luke must face down his fear of the uncanny – and admit his feelings for Stefan – if either of them is to survive.

Not to Be Missed Giveaways!

A skeleton key necklace and $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble a Rafflecopter giveaway

A vintage sailing ship brooch and $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card a Rafflecopter giveaway

A $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card a Rafflecopter giveaway

A really cool looking Wish necklace and $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card a Rafflecopter giveaway

A fantastic pottery handwarmer mug with Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate mix (yum!) a Rafflecopter giveaway

I definitely felt like Ruby Hill was a terrific addition to the world of gothic romance, one so good that I’m now jonesing for other spooky-poo books to get me into the mood of gusting autumn leaves and the start of crackling fires in my living room fireplace. Thanks, Sarah Ballance, for getting me off to such a great start for the season! 🙂

A Great Addition to Lovers Unmasked Anthology Is Cari Quinn’s Tempted By His Best Friend

29 Sep

Lovers Unmasked (A Brazen Anthology) by Katee Robert, Cari Quinn, Samanthe Beck and Tessa Bailey (Entangled, September 23, 2013)

I have already reviewed three of the fantastic novellas contained in Entangled’s Lovers Unmasked anthology, but since mine was one of the copies which got delivered without Cari Quinn’s story, “Tempted By His Best Friend,” I felt that I needed to also give her due diligence, particularly considering my enjoyment of her other writing to be one of the reasons I bought the book in the first place!

Stephanie Price would not be recognized by her kindergarten students as she heads to the annual Halloween party she used to love. Anytime a woman dons a short skirt, crotchless tights and a fresh Brazilian bikini wax, well, the gauntlet has been thrown and someone is looking for sex, particularly with a fox tail and mask rounding out her ensemble.

Steff knows that she’s been in love with one of her best friends, Landon Grant, for a while, but because of the dynamic between them and their other best friend, Craig Connolly, she didn’t push too much in letting know Landon know how she felt. She’s had to watch him “date” other women since college, but over the last year, it’s been awful as he has deliberately pushed her away. She knows that he sees her as just a friend and firmly believes that seducing him as a sexy mystery woman is the only way to open his eyes to what they could have together.

No Flowers Required (Love Required #2 – Alexa and Dillon) by Cari Quinn (Entangled, August 2012)

Dressed as a cheesy pirate at the party with Craig, Landon is disappointed that Steff has texted she’s not coming but knows it’s for the best. He does have feelings for her and while he’s suspected that she might feel something for him, anything more than friendship would be disaster – he just doesn’t do long-term relationships and hurting Steff would kill him. Once he spots the sexy vixen over by the bar, the chase is on, including a hold-onto-your-stiletto-boots library sex scene that will require ice water while reading it. But his mystery fox runs away with no name or conversation exchange and Landon is back to where he started, only now he’s pining for Steff and wondering who his mystery lady is.

Craig reads both of them the riot act that he’s not going to stand any longer for the weird estrangement that’s come over them in the last year, deliberately engineering that Landon would have to help Steff for her annual father/daughter event for the school. Landon insists they go out to dinner to talk, yelling a time as Steff flounces off. She must not have heard him based on what he hears her doing in the shower, but she gets pretty convinced that he might actually want her – not the sexy fox whose costume is moldering in her closet as a reminder of a very bad idea. But how can something real grow out of the lie of omission regarding their previous identity?

Cari Quinn never, ever disappoints when it comes to layered, complex characters and plots filled with emotion. Steff actually reads Landon extremely well (with the exception of not realizing that he does want her) and while her actions are desperate, they are exactly what’s needed for the situation. Knowing that doesn’t stop your heart aching while you watch everything blow up in both their faces, but it’s important to hang in there since Cari Quinn believes in the happily ever after as much as the romance reader does!

Many thanks to the staff at Entangled for being so determined to make sure I got my Cari Quinn story and profuse gratitude to Cari Quinn herself for not only her incredible PR in reaching out when I complained on Goodreads, but also for writing yet another fantastic love story. 🙂 Go out and buy Lovers Unmasked for all four fantastic novellas – it’s a bargain at under $4.00 for so many incredible stories!

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