Tag Archives: Ireland

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

18 Apr

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

When this woman writes, she writes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading! 🙂

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

23 Mar

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

Upcoming Books and New Releases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contests and Giveaways

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

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

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

Fun Stuff

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

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

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

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

Great Deals

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’ll Find Yourself Craving the Latest in Laura Kaye’s Vampire Warrior Kings Series

1 Aug

In the Service of the King (Vampire Warrior Kings #1 – Kael and Shayla) by Laura Kaye (Harlequin, February 2012)

I’m beginning to think that Harlequin’s Nocturne Cravings line is aptly named. These ebooks are novellas of no more than 25,000 words which focus on highly sensual, paranormal romances and, in the hands of a talented writer like Laura Kaye, this results in stories as delicious as a small bite of high quality chocolate that you savor while it melts in your mouth.

I first stumbled across Laura Kaye’s Vampire Warrior Kings series when I was busy devouring her entire body of work (yes, I have read literally everything she has written because she is that good an author). Since I loved her emotionally gritty contemporaries, it startled me to discover she is such a good paranormal romance writer, but Kaye obviously typifies versatility in the romance world.

One of the major indications of her strong writing ability is the fact that she does some complex world-building in shockingly few pages. Each of these novellas is around 80 pages, a length well-suited to the paranormal premise of finding a destined mate since that promises a rapid fall into lust and love. Yet each hero and heroine has been given a strong characterization that – with a few pen strokes – Kaye draws us an image detailed enough to make them breathe.

In the world of the Vampire Warrior Kings, the good vampires numbers are few and they confine themselves to strongholds where these men (there are no female vampires) live as warriors fighting the Soul Eaters, evil vampires who live to devour their victims and then ingest their soul with the last breath of the dying. To insure their strength, the existence of these warriors is supported by a small group of humans who help them hide their existence and train their daughters to be the Proffered, virgins who – at the age of 20 – offer themselves in a ritual where their blood feeds the noble warrior. In return for training their valiant daughters to this service, these humans receive the protection of the vampire warriors as well as their blood to help extend their lives and stave off sickness.

If the blood drinking of the Proffered happens during sex, it is possible that both partners will have their hands marked with a mate mark, or detailed black tattoo indicating that the partnership is a powerful one which shows blood compatibility and would produce strong offspring. The vampire and the woman then have three days to complete the mating ritual, after which time their chance at a mating is lost. Once mated, a vampire can drink exclusively from his female partner, enjoying a strong psychic connection between them.

Kael’s stronghold is located near Giant’s Causeway in Ireland.

In the first book of the series, In the Service of the King, Shayla MacKinnon has lost her older sister to the Soul Eaters and that tragedy caused her to embrace her destiny as a Proffered fiercely. Finishing high school and college at almost prodigy-age, Shayla took her training as a Proffered seriously and was honored to be chosen on her 20th birthday to serve the Irish Vampire King, Kael. A Gaelic history scholar and someone who has studied the details of their people, she knows that since the loss of his pregnant mate, Kael does not have sex with his Proffered nor does he drink from their bodies, preferring to bleed them into a chalice from which he ingests their life-giving blood. She is elated to help him in any way possible, even in a version of the ritual that does not chance a connection to a mate.

Kael hates being forced to do the ritual every three months but the unmated warriors under him cannot feed until he does and he needs to keep them healthy to fight their battles against the Soul Eaters. One look at the Proffered Shayla and Kael is both fascinated and horrified. Something prompts him to ask this stunning beauty about herself and her scent and bravery call to him as no one has since his mate died three hundred years ago. Fighting the attraction, he blindfolds Shayla prior to bleeding her into his chalice, but his subsequent callous behavior hurts the lovely girl who he kissed so passionately against his better judgement. Kael doesn’t know if he can live with the knowledge of having something so precious in his life only to lose it once more, but he feels compelled to prove himself a warrior in this arena as well, if Shayla can work past her hurt and let him.

Seduced by the Vampire King (Vampire Warrior Kings #2 – Nikolai and Kate) by Laura Kaye (Harlequin, June 2012)

OMG, these vampire warriors are S-E-X-Y and Kael is so isolated and tortured after the lost of his mate. Shayla is an intelligent, committed young woman and this first book manages to pack a ton of world-building yet it feels effortless when reading it. I know in my feminist head that I should be worried about a girl of twenty and a virgin to boot having something so life-altering happen to her, yet I can’t bring myself to get worked up about it. The cause is good, the women are smart and not forced into their training and hell, if these men were my option for first time sex, I probably would have taken it, too!

In the next book in the series, Seduced by the Vampire King, the tortured Russian king, Nikolai Vasilyev, is taking ridiculous risks on the streets of Moscow, still dwelling on the loss of his two brothers, a loss he considers his fault. Attacked by Soul Eaters and isolated from his team, he is barely able to drag himself into a dark alley before passing out.

Exchange student Kate Bordessa doesn’t understand why she feels so restless tonight, restless enough to chance walking the streets of a dangerous city at one in the morning. When she catches an incredible, intoxicating smell on the breeze and follows it to the source, she finds a half-dead man bleeding out in an alley. Bizarrely, his blood seems to be the odor which drew her to find him and she doesn’t understand the protective anger she feels toward whoever attacked him. When his fangs emerge, she immediately realizes what he is – a vampire.

Kate was actually trained as a Proffered but left the program because she couldn’t bring herself to have sex with someone she didn’t know and care for. When a dying Nikolai ravages her arm to drink the blood that can keep him clinging to life, Kate works past the pain to feel the sensual pull of their connection and even thinks she hears a male voice in her mind. Yet she is shocked and dismayed when she is knocked out by his warriors attempting to reclaim him and unhappy when she wakes in a dungeon and no one will tell her if Nikolai survived.

Nikolai’s hunting grounds are the dangerous and colorful streets of Moscow.

Nikolai awakes from his experience disgruntled from being taken out of a dream in which he is erotically claiming a beautiful woman, but is more shocked to realize that there was a woman, and she saved him from death. Visiting her in his dungeon has him fully realizing his danger. His background check reveals that she is from a family whose blood could make her a potential mate and if the way she calls to him is any indication, that’s a very real possibility. Yet Nikolai kisses her passionately one minute and distances himself the next as he knows, with the dishonor of his brothers’ death on his conscience, that the joy of a mate in the uncertain world he lives in is not possible.

I loved this novella, understanding Nikolai’s angst and self-torture while also admiring Kate for realizing quickly that she was meant to run away from her training in the United States in order to find this man who was her destiny. While almost twenty-one, Kate (like Shayla) has an emotional maturity that gives the reader the comfort level to accept the pairing and Nikolai is so romantic and tender in his heartfelt feelings for her when he works past his dickishness. That the heat between them is caliente-hot doesn’t exactly hurt anything either!

Taken by the Vampire King (Vampire Warrior Kings #3 – Henrik and Kaira) by Laura Kaye (Harlequin, August 1, 2013)

The third book in the series just came out today and I did my usual thing where I stayed up past midnight in order to read it the moment it landed on my Kindle. I’m glad I did – Taken by the Vampire King was my favorite book of the series to date!

Henrik Magusson, Vampire King, is dying. The blood of the Proffered barely sustains him and he knows he will soon give into the madness his condition visits upon him, losing all humanity. Although his warriors have reluctantly agreed to kill him when that happens, his hair and eyes, once a vibrant blond and bright blue, are almost totally leached of color and a daily reminder to him that the clock is ticking.

Danish photographer Kaira Sorenson is elated to have her pictures of the aurora borealis chosen for this prestigious contest. The long lasting winter nights are just ending in this part of Norway and with the excitement Kaira is able to forget the cancer shortening her life with this professional recognition. When she meets a compelling man at the exhibition who seems taken with her and her work, she’s confused as to why he abruptly leaves her with his equally large male companion. Her dismay is quickly forgotten when she is horribly attacked by a group of violent men intent on raping and…biting her? She is rescued by the same mystery man who spoke with her and when he bites her, all she feels is the utmost pleasure before passing out.

Henrik couldn’t resist taking her blood and, by the gasps of his warriors, Kaira’s blood has been able to do what no other woman’s has, restore some of his eye color and calm the beast within him. The effect is fleeting but the potential is there, particularly when his investigation reveals that the adopted Kaira would have been a Proffered had her parents not died when she was young. But while the draw is unbelievably strong between them, Kaira must face a life-changing decision in a mere three days if the mating that could save both their lives is to take effect, and it all might be too much for her to process.

Kaira's photography of the aurora borealis was a beautiful element in this hot, tender novella.

Kaira’s photography of the aurora borealis was a beautiful element in this hot, tender novella.

Wow! Henrik, like all these Vampire Warrior Kings, is tough as nails on the outside and a tender marshmallow when it comes to the woman destined to be his mate. I loved his sense of responsibility and how he does try and fight what seems to be a terminal illness. Kaira is a fabulous character, old beyond her years due to her lonely childhood and the leukemia which is killing her, yet that same illness gives her blood the extra white cells which could cure Henrik. Her art showed a depth and connection to the larger world that gave a good sense of the person she is and Henrik’s response to it was further indication of their bond. HIs tender generosity in trying to give her the time and space she needed to come to terms with their situation was so sweet that this novel above all others, actually choked me up a few times.

One of the wonderful elements about this series is not just the quality writing and interesting world, but that these novellas are so affordably priced. All three can be purchased for about eight dollars total, making this comparable in page length and price to a standard novel. Because it’s Laura Kaye, you know that the writing you are getting is of outstanding quality, so paranormal romance readers beware…like those chocolates, I bet you can’t eat just one Vampire Warrior King book without a craving for more.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day: The Best Irish Trilogy – the Gallaghers of Ardmore by Nora Roberts

17 Mar

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s only natural that a romance reader’s fancy turns to thoughts of Ireland, specifically the spell the Emerald Isle casts on the romances set on its green shores.  When I hear “Irish romance” without a doubt my thoughts go to the best Irish romance trilogy EVER, Nora Roberts‘ The Gallaghers of Ardmore.

Originally published in 1999 and 2000 (thus earning it the label of “classic romance” for this blog), this was one of Roberts’ forays into adding a paranormal element into her plot.  I like recommending the book for people who are leery about paranormal, because it’s only a minor plot element, so it doesn’t put readers off, simply adding a tint of myth.  The Irish setting (and so many books set in Ireland do describe the environment, especially of rural or small village life as “magical”) also helps suspend disbelief and the faerie king provides a good foil for our heroes and heroines, prodding them to action because of his personal agenda, and berating them when it looks like they are going to louse everything up.  But I digress.

In Jewels of the Sun, American psychology professor Frances Jude Murray has left a painful divorce behind in Chicago, deciding to do a little research in the Irish cottage in the seaside town of Ardmore. She quickly discovers her grandmother’s cottage harbors a locally famous ghost, a sad, beautiful woman, Lady Gwen, who fell in love with Carrick, the Faerie prince. Desperate for her to run away with him, he attempted to bribe her on three occasions with diamonds, pearls, and sapphires, but each time she refused because he didn’t think to offer her his love. Gwen went on to marry and have children, but her soul still pines for him as he does for her. They are both trapped away from one another until three couples profess their true love to one another, accepting the gift they are being offered in the other person’s love and affection.

Aidan Gallagher runs his family’s tavern in Ardmore and while he did plenty of roaming (ahem) in his youth, he is content to provide food, drink and Irish music to his neighbors and the tourists of Ardmore. When this reserved beauty from America with family ties to the town enters his tavern, his body and mind go on full alert. Jude knows that she is not the type of woman to have a fling, but Aidan’s Irish charm and sexy body make this an ideal time to throw caution to the wind. They both enter into the relationship only to discover much more about themselves they thought possible, including the recognition that this passion for one another could indicate a deep and abiding love if they are willing to take the chance.

In a world of reformed man-whores, Aidan is a breath of fresh air.  It’s not that he wasn’t a little wild in his youth, but he doesn’t take an intimate relationship lightly and it’s clear he cares for Jude from the start.  Jude finds not only sexual satisfaction in Aidan but a warm friendship, friendship that extends to his brother Sean and sister Darcy and their family friends the O’Toole’s, particularly Darcy’s good friend, Brenna.  The classic repressed good girl, Jude has been living her life for other people, and it takes a good deal of bravery to cast that habit aside and begin to live for herself and what she wants.  The tavern scenes are particularly rich, and the hot scene of Jude modeling her new underwear set for Aidan at closing is quite a standout!

In Tears of the Moon, the redheaded tomboy spitfire Brenna O’Toole admits to herself that she has loved dreamy musician Shawn Gallagher from afar forever, but she’s never had the guts to show him.  Confident in her sexuality, she nevertheless has some self-esteem issues in the idea that she’s not a girly girl type to attract the men in droves.

This combination makes the two of them a clash of personalities (the central focus of the plot) as Brenna often makes quick decisions based on what she thinks is right, rather than coaxing others into her way of thinking. Her family life is both poignant and laugh out loud funny, and the way she uses the family handiman business to constantly be in the haunted cottage (now occupied by Shawn) is adorable.  Artistic Shawn needs a kick in the pants to stop hiding his talent and move past just being the cook in the Gallagher tavern and Brenna’s force of nature personality and gorgeous body have taken over his dreams, day or otherwise.

As in any good trilogy, not only do we have the window into Brenna and Shawn’s minds, but we get to see Aidan and Jude as a married couple providing secondary character depth and goodness.  This book really is more about two very different people showing each other that they can have more than just a physical relationship, but that it’s not necessarily going to come easy while they figure out how to work with each other rather than accidentally hurt their partner.  The standout scene has to be Brenna kissing Shawn for the first time “just to show him what he might be missing” in the front yard of the cottage.

But the curse for Carrick and Lady Gwen doesn’t get broken unless three couples are successful and the last Gallagher is going to be a tough nut to crack. Stunning Darcy brings men to their knees on a regular basis, a fact of which she is all too aware, but she struggles to find a man she can have an equal reaction to, particularly when she has convinced herself that she wants a rich man who can give her the travel and material goods she’s missed growing up in a working class household.  In Heart of the Sea, the Gallagher family tavern has entered into a partnership with American developer Trevor Magee, whose family has painful ties to the town of Ardmore.  Trevor and Darcy’s attraction is instant and should come with a “highly combustible” warning, but there are naturally complications.

Trevor doesn’t just look for thriving restaurant and taverns to purchase, his many companies also find musical acts and the Gallaghers, especially talented vocalist and musician Darcy, are solid gold.  When they commence their relationship, Darcy and Trevor begin to wonder how much of it is business with a little something extra and how much of it is something more?

This is the hardest of the three books for me to warm up to, mostly because while Darcy is a good friend and great sister, I find her focus on finding a rich man distasteful.  Trevor is a handsome, tortured character who saves the book for me, and it’s probably telling that the standout scene is not one between the couple, but rather the part of the book where Trevor is trapped with Jude during a storm and ends up helping her deliver her and Aidan’s daughter.

This trilogy lives in my ereader so I can have it wherever I go and it’s a rare year where I don’t reread the books a few times just to sigh over the Irish setting and enjoy the supernatural quality of love.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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