Tag Archives: Lauren Dane

Did You Miss It? New Books, Fun Stuff, and Great Deals You May Have Missed

3 Aug

New Releases and Upcoming Books

Lori Foster’s fans are eagerly anticipating her Ultimate Series about MMA heroes and the women who love them, so it’s a happy thought to realize that the prequel to this series, Hard Knocks, will be released August 4th. When a woman can’t forget her affair with a rugged fighter – one who disappeared without a word for months – she’s got to protect her heart when he waltzes back into town. But our hero hasn’t been able to forget the woman who meant everything to him months ago and he has only one night to convince her that he’s back in her life for good. We only have to wait a month for the first full-length novel, No Limits, which will be coming out September 1st, so we can enjoy Hard Knocks while we tap our feet. FYI, Foster is also running a giveaway on Goodreads where she’ll be dispensing 25 copies of the book, so enter by August 7th to see if you can snag one!

Paranormal doyenne Kresley Cole is also releasing this week the fourteenth novel in her incredible Immortals After Dark series, Dark Skye, coming out on August 5th. Fans have been waiting for this installment as it features a couple with a dark past – a prince and a sorceress from rival clans who loved each other as children but were torn apart by a cruel tragedy. While they question whether what lies between them can overcome physical and emotional scars, readers don’t, because Kresley Cole’s name is on the cover!

Contemporary romance author Gina L. Maxwell has got a new series What Happens in Vegas, and is kicking if off on August 11th with the first book, Tempting Her Best Friend. Since Maxwell showed us her considerable writing chops with her wonderful MMA-focused Fighting for Love series, I’m excited to see what this new venture will bring romance readers. This first novel stars a heroine frustrated that her best friend and neighbor can’t see what is right under his nose – so she determines to go to Las Vegas to attend a romance book convention and hopefully have a fling with one of the cover models she’s bound to find. Naturally when her friend, who has commitment issues and thinks she can do better, catches wind of her plan, he’s jetting off to Sin City to make sure that he is the only one she’s going to do any sinning with.

I’m not sure it’s physically possible for me to be more of a Lisa Marie Rice fan, but I’m happy that she’s taken a minor character from my favorite series of hers – her Midnight collection – and given him a book of his own, Midnight Vengeance, which will come out August 18th. We met the tattooed, pierced Jacko in Midnight Angel when he protected the heroine per his boss’ directions, but Jacko has a secret, the beautiful elegant Lauren Dare, who he has loved in secret and whose art classes he has taken. Someone as beautiful and refined as her would never be interested in a rough former sniper like him, but when he realizes that Lauren is running from something in her past – something that may have caught up to her – Jacko isn’t letting anyone touch the woman he loves. Classic Rice! Intriguingly there is another book, Midnight Promises, listed on the Goodreads series page which will be published in January 2015, but with no description as of yet, it’s a bit of a mystery as to who it will feature.

If you are enjoying Laura Kaye‘s Hard Ink series, featuring a group of disgraced special forces soldiers and the tattoo parlor that becomes their home base as they puzzle out the mystery of who set them up, you’ll want to mark your calendar with two upcoming dates. Kaye has a novella being released on August 19th, Hard to Hold On To, starring none other than Edward Cantrell (yay, Easy!!) who has found a woman who has finally penetrated the numbness which has plagued him since his team’s attack, and he’s not about to let go of her, particularly since danger seems to follow her around. All this is the lead up to the next full length novel in the series, Hard to Come By, this time with Derek DiMarzio and a beautiful woman related to the enemy who he falls for, due out on November 25th.

Jennifer Ashley has several upcoming books and novellas in her ever-popular Highland Pleasures historical romance series. Those naughty Mackenzies and McBrides are up to their usual tricks, starting in the The Mackenzie Clan Gathering, where I am guessing we will get an update on our four favorite brothers and their families on August 18th, followed by Scandal and the Duchess on September 16th. Soldier Steven McBride is known for his drinking and wenching off duty, so its with great trepidation that widowed Duchess Rose Barclay confronts the handsome man’s prone form in her hideout. She’s tired of scandal following her everywhere, starting with her ill-fated honeymoon when her much older husband expired, and it’s just her luck that in trying to outrun the journalists she’s ended up with a much bigger problem. Both these novellas are simply the precursors to the next full-length novel in the series, Rules for a Proper Governess, which has brilliant barrister Sinclar McBride finally finding someone who can awaken his widowed heart and wrangle his two hellion children, starting on October 7th.

Kat Latham – an up-and-coming writer who is producing British rugby sports romance that surpasses any of the baseball/football novels I’ve read recently – is coming out with the third book in her London Legends series, Tempting the Player, on November 10th. This novel features a player fighting for his starting slot whose best friend, a gorgeous airline pilot, makes his heart ache. With his fear of flying and her desire for a stay-at-home partner, they both know it wouldn’t work between them, but that doesn’t stop them from making the decision to take a break from their platonic relationship and indulge in the passion which is clearly there. If you haven’t read the first two in the series (take a look at my review of the first book, Knowing the Score, to get a sense how wonderful this writer is), pick them up now so you are ready for the third book in the series.

Contests and Giveaways

Readers who love their heroes with a cowboy hat will be pleased to see that B. J. Daniels is giving away a copy of Mercy, the fifth book in her Beartooth, Montana series, due to come out on August 28th. When U. S. Marshall Rourke Kincaid finds himself on the track of a killer, he’s shocked to come to the doorstep of his prime suspect, Callie Westfield, and find himself blown away by her delicacy. Still, all clues point to her as the killer, yet Rourke fights what he knows is his duty to turn her in and his instinct which is telling him that not only is she innocent, but she’s the woman he’s been hunting for his whole life. Enter by August 7th.

If you are the campy type who enjoys a blast from the past when it comes to romance novels, you’ll want to take a closer look at RT Book Review’s hilarious giveaway – vintage romance audiobooks from the 1990s! Some of them look like they are *gasp* on cassette tape, so you may need to unearth your boom box from the attic to listen. I think I might frame the Fabio one for posterity! Enter by August 6th.

Even though I’ve pre-ordered it months ago, I’m still planning to enter Lauren Dane‘s Goodreads giveaway for a copy of her upcoming first book in her spin-off Hurley Boys series (*fans self, oh those Hurley boys!*), The Best Kind of Trouble, which officially debuts on August 26th. A former wild child, small town librarian Natalie Clayton has got her life on the right path, a path that becomes threatened when former fling Paddy Hurley, one of the famous Hurley Boys rock group, comes back into town. He’s just her brand of naughty when her head is telling her that nice is the way to go, but Paddy has a different idea of what constitutes being a bad girl, and he’s more than willing to teach her how to walk the line. Enter before August 9th for a chance to win one of 25 copies in this giveaway!

 

Fun Stuff

I still love paper books as much as ebooks, so bookmarks are a must (no dog ears or *gasp* open faced books, in a librarian’s house!) and these little triangle book corners from Sketch are as cute and fun as they come. With sayings like “to be continued…” and “eyes rested here” this page of four metal bookmarks are a great gift for your favorite reader (even if that’s yourself). $10

There is no such thing as too many reading-themed t-shirts, so I was thrilled to see T-shirt Booyah’s take off on the Major League Baseball logo with their “Major League Reading” t-shirt. If the $22 price tag is out of your league, you can always get the sticker for $5 which they claim is tough enough for a car (or okay for notebooks). I might have to get both!

Considering all the reading that happens there, the bathroom is an excellent place to highlight book-themed accessories, particularly with a captive audience engaging in mandatory hygiene. Whether it’s your kids or your guests, Zazzle’s Read a Book Bath Accessory Set at $24.95 delivers a soap dispenser and toothbrush holder that urges people to “read a book.” Literary and clean – my favorite!

Great Deals

For readers who can’t get enough military men in their lives, Hot Alpha SEALs: Military Romance Megaset is right up your alley. With twelve stories by military romance authors like Cat Johnson, Cindy Dees, Cristin Harber, and Delilah Devlin, you know you are in good hands. At only $.99 for over 1400 pages, you can consider this one of your summer bargains!

I love the writing of Vivian Arend and if you haven’t had the chance to sample it, the current deal for the first of her Six Pack Ranch series offers a terrific opportunity. Rocky Mountain Heat is free right now, and I have a feeling you are going to like Arend’s brand of cowboy – strong and hot! Blake Coleman is trying to be a responsible rancher but he’s strongly tempted by Jaxi, even though she’s always worn a “hands off” sign as the girl next door. Jaxi has wanted Blake for years and is determined to shatter whatever barriers lie between them, at least to the point that Blake can see the potential for the something more that she always knew was there.

Mastered: Ten Tales of Surrender is a wonderful boxed set with some heavy hitting erotic writers. Joey W. Hill, Portia de la Costa, Kate Pearce and Carrie Ann Ryan are just a few of the outstanding best-selling authors who have novels in this collection, making its $.99 price tag even more phenomenal. If you like a little dominance in your romance, then submit to this collection while the introductory price still holds.

For fans of mysteries, hot sex, and hilarious humor, look no further than Darynda Jones‘ fantastic urban fantasy Charley Davidson series, featuring a heroine with some rather special abilities and a hero to die for (and they don’t come any hotter, believe me). The first book, First Grave on the Right, is on sale for only $2.99 for the Kindle edition, so consider sampling this fantastic paranormal at a bargain price.

I adore Roxie Rivera‘s Her Russian Protector series, but fans of boxing/MMA fighting might want to try her writing in the form of her spin-off series, Fighting Connollys, particularly since the first book, In Kelly’s Corner, is currently free on Amazon. Kelly Connolly has finally broken free of his fighting past working security for a Russian mafia company that treats him well, but when a friend from his past, the internet millionaire Bee Langston, is threatened by a stalker and his dad’s gambling problem escalates, Kelly finds himself having to re-embrace the fighting life he worked so hard to escape.

Happy reading this week!

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! 🙂

Don’t Miss It! Upcoming Books, New Releases and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, March 30, 2014

30 Mar

Upcoming Books and New Releases

Veronica Scott who wrote the fascinating paranormal/historical romance The Gods of Egypt series, released her next book, Magic of the Nile, featuring a high priestess whose life is dedicated to the Crocodile God who physically healed her from the abuse she suffered as a child. When Pharaoh sends his handsome captain to ask for her help, she could not imagine how turned upside down her life will be, as she is forced to find a dark sorcerer deep in Pharaoh’s court and the man she loves may or may not help her.

Stacy Gail has a hit series on her hands with her Earth Angels, so fans will be happy to note that the latest addition, Dangerous Angel, comes out tomorrow on March 31st. Based on the premise of the forbidden descendants of angels and humans walk among us, hiding their powers while fighting evil on behalf of unknowing humans, this fourth book in the series shows us a bounty hunter who is more than a little distracted by his rival, a sexy woman who impersonates a stripper to get close to man she needs to bring in before our hero. When the situation is complicated by something not quite human, nothing will stop this angel from having the woman who is his perfect match while also stopping a possible apocalypse.

There are just not enough Rugby heroes in the world, but thankfully we have Kat Latham to fill the gap for us with her London Legends series. I can’t say enough about her first book, Knowing the Score, and as a result I’m eager to devour the next book, Playing It Close, when it debuts on April 14th. When a famous rugby player and an unemployed office worker meet in a remote Venezuela locale, both use assumed names to avoid complications. Naturally it’s a surprise to be back in London and have our heroine end up with a job with the rugby team’s official sponsor, but that’s not going to dissuade the hero from pursuing the woman from the hottest night of his life. Thank heavens!

No cover image or ebook version as of yet, but Lauren Dane fans do have a link to the first in her The Hurley Boys series (a spin off of her Delicious series books), The Best Kind of Trouble. This series was picked up by Harlequin and I can tell you why (beyond Lauren Dane being an amazing writer). The Hurley Boys, who we met in the last Delicious book, Lush, are a highly successful rock band who retreat to their lovely family farm to record and be normal when they aren’t surrounded by adoring fans. Since this book has not only the sexy Paddy Hurley but also the naughty librarian with whom he once shared a couple blazing weeks, I am so on board. That I have to wait until August 26th seems cruel, but knowing Lauren Dane it will be totally worth it!

Contests and Giveaways

Avon Publishing (which has a terrific reader community for fans, BTW) is offering a wonderful contest for fans of historical romance. Their Historical Romance Spring Giveaway includes four of their recently released paperback books (out as of March 25, 2014): Eloisa James’ Three Weeks with Lady X Julie Anne Long’s Between the Devil and Ian Eversea, Jennifer McQuiston’s Moonlight on My Mind, and Maya Rodale’s Wallflower Gone Wild, as well as a pair of handmade Regency-inspired earrings. A $70 value and all you have to do is fill out the entry form before April 25th for a chance to win!

Fun Stuff

The Literary Gift Company is a breath of fresh air in terms of the funny (and often delicious) gifts they offer. While I wish I lived in Great Britain (for many reasons) they do ship internationally, so you may want to consider ordering one of their quotable chocolate bars as an award-winning gift (or hell, just for yourself). Whether it’s Mr. Darcy’s famous quote to your main squeeze (“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”) or Louisa May Alcott’s friendship quote given to your BFF (“Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.”), there are plenty of delicious options to choose from.

When readers, especially those who love used bookstores or wandering vast stacks in the library, get together, invariably one of them will mention an addiction to the smell of old books. While you can’t deliver the Bodleian Library in a jar, you can give them the next best thing. Frostbeard Studios has a soy candle entitled Old Books – Book Lovers’ Scented Soy Candle which claims to have captured an earthy, papery smell with a hint of must and newsprint. For a mere $15 for a long lasting candle, this affordable option could be what everyone needs to transport themselves for quiet reading via a little olfactory incentive. Shhhhhhhh. (BTW, they also sell Bookstore and Trashy Romance Novel candles as well – I’ll be getting a bundle!)

Great Deals

Just this week, Nora Roberts’ Mackade Brothers series (four books in all) are each on sale in ebook form for only $1.99 each. This Maryland town doesn’t seem big enough to hold four sexy brothers, all of whom are due to succumb to the one woman who can tame their wild ways, but at around 250 pages each, this is a terrific bargain and one to add to your Nora Roberts collection!

I cannot remember a time I was more excited about a $.99 bundle, but the Alphas After Dark: 9 Book Bundle of Sexy Alpha Biker Bad Boys has sent me into the stratosphere! Not only does this have the next book in Kit Rocha‘s dystopian erotic Beyond series, Beyond Solitude (*whimper*) but it also a Roxie Rivera spinoff from Her Russian Protector series (they are like crack cocaine, be warned), Rumpel’s Prize, the eighth book in Marie Hall‘s fairy tale based Kingdom Series, which I love, plus Vivian Arend‘s first book in her wildly successful Takhini Shifters series, Copper King. And that’s just four of them! While not familiar with the other five authors, any one of the above books would be worth $.99, so to get all four of them for that price – with the chance I’ll also find a new author with the other five – is a dazzling bargain.

An impressive boxed set we will have to wait a lot longer for is the Masters of Seduction: Paranormal Boxed Set, which features an actual series written by four outstanding writers – Lara Adrian (of Midnight Breed fame), Donna Grant (Highlanders, anyone?), Laura Wright (love her Bayou Heat novels) and Alexandra Ivy (co-author of those great Bayou Heat novels!). Conceived by the authors together, each book builds upon the other and features the same world populated by Incubi. None of the books have been published prior to this release, so immediate gratification junkies will get the first four books of the series in one shot. At only $.99, that seems a good gamble considering the best-selling chops of these four ladies. The only drawback? It’s not out until July 14th, but I’ve pre-ordered to lock in this amazing price.

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

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of February 16, 2014

16 Feb

Upcoming Books and New Releases

rushing amyFor fans of romance novels featuring football heroes, check out Avon’s upcoming release, Rushing Amy by Julie Brannagh which comes out on February 25th and it’s the second book in the author’s Love and Football series. An arrogant ex-NFL star meets a gorgeous florist at her sister’s wedding and is shocked when his patented moves prove he’s got no game with this particular woman. It’s always nice when the heroes have to step up their game, isn’t it? I don’t know if the price is permanent, but as of right now, the Kindle version is only $1.99 with the paperback at the usual release price of around $6, so I’ve taken advantage of the ebook discount.

Lori Wilde is well-known for her small-town Twilight, Texas series and recently the books she’s put out for that series have had some tie-in to a holiday, and since she does a great job bringing the spirit of a holiday into the plot, more power to her! The latest addition is The Valentine’s Day Disaster, book #4.5 in the series, and features an injured NASCAR driver looking to recuperate in his hometown who ends up face-to-face with his high school sweetheart during the town’s Valentine’s Day auction. Out already so go get it!

Lynsay Sands clearly deserves a yearly word count award as she keeps cranking out book after book for her Argeneau series (and vampire fiction fans appreciate all her hard work). The latest addition is the 20th book in the series (woohoo!), and Vampire Most Wanted has a renegade Argeneau hiding out in Southern California and the vampire sent to bring her back to Louisana for questioning. Put February 18th in your calendar or better yet, pre-order it.

With my adoration of all things steampunk/gaslight, I’m really not sure how author Lynn Viehl and her Disenchanted & Co series managed to sneak past me this year. Featuring a female private investigator living in an America which lost the Revolutionary War, this series looks terrific – it even has a love triangle with both an Inspector and a mage vying for the heroine’s affections! With the release of the second book in the series, A Clockwork Wolf, coming out on February 25th and having our heroine petitioned by the noblewoman responsible for ruining her, I’m going to be playing catch up this week and reading these novels.

Elle Kennedy has romance readers everywhere fanning themselves with her Out of Uniform series and the latest addition, As Hot As It Gets, is actually the tenth book in the series and centers on a sexy SEAL who, after watching all his teammates find their true love, discovers a sexy gardner who pushes all his buttons…and has so many obligations she’s not open to dating. Give a SEAL a challenge and expect all the stops to be pulled out.

Vivian Arend‘s most recent Thompson & Sons novel, Baby, Be Mine, will be on the shelves as of February 25th and I’ve had this one pre-ordered since December 15th as the initial buzz was so great. When a heroine has a car accident and loses her memory (and let’s just say that one particular memory of that night is pretty key), she’s more than baffled as to how she can be pregnant, but she’s further confused when a good friend comes back from a work assignment two months later acting like he has rights where she is concerned. What gives? Do yourself a favor and get the fantastic anthology Marked which has not only the first book in this new series but also two other amazing books by Kit Rocha and Lauren Dane while you are waiting for this one.

Contests and Giveaways

Historical romance fans love Elizabeth Hoyt for good reason, so if you enjoy her books or have simply wanted to try them, you may want to take a look at the Goodreads giveaway for the first book in her Legend of the Four Soldiers series, To Taste Temptation. When a self-made man wearing moccasins shows up among the ton with a reputation for fleeing a massacre in North America that many English gentlemen didn’t survive, society is scandalized but one young woman is nothing but fascinated with the forthright, sensual man who made it through the battle her brother did not. When that same gentleman begins to suspect her fiancee of culpability in the battle’s outcome, she must decide whether she can rely on her newly formed trust to tell help her ferret out the truth. Enter before the February 28th deadline for your chance to win.

Entangled Publishing recently released three fantastic military romances under the Brazen imprint – including Staking His Claim by Tessa Bailey, Tawna Fenske’s Marine for Hire and Temporarily Yours by Diane Alberts– and they are still celebrating with a terrific giveaway on the Fiction Vixen website. Prizes include a Kindle Paperwhite, signed copies of the books and 2 $25 Amazon gift cards, so unlock the Rafflecopter interface and get your entries before the February 26th deadline.

Since I’m a fan of Gina Maxwell‘s world of MMA Fighters in her Fighting for Love series, I was thrilled to see that her excellent Entangled ebooks have been picked up by St. Martin’s Press to be published in print. The second excellent book in the series, Rules of Entanglement, will be coming out in paperback on February 25th, and anyone interested in winning a copy should hustle over to the Goodreads giveaway immediately and enter the contest by February 17th (that’s tomorrow!). With this ridiculous cold weather, watching an uptight district attorney let her hair down with an MMA fighter while she plans her best friend’s (and his sister’s) wedding is exactly what the weatherman ordered!

Fun Stuff

Those clever editors at Avon Publishing have come up with a “choose your own adventure” type book, except this time it’s a naughty romantic adventure. A Girl Walks Into a Bar: Your Fantasy, Your Rules is written in the first person and offers periodic decisions (like wearing control top panties, naughty underwear or going commando) with the adventure directing you to the page of your next adventure. It’s tough to say from the Amazon preview as to weather the ebook as direct hyperlinks to the place in the text, but it’s an intriguing direction for romance fiction or erotica to venture. Author Helena S. Paige is purportedly doing more than one, so take a look and see if this could be something you’d like – I can picture it being a great present for a girls’ night out/bachelorette party!

My love for sports romance fiction is no secret, so I was pleased to see several wonderful authors like Cassandra Carr and Kelly Jamieson band together and form the Hockey Romance website to promote their upcoming work to fans. This is a great idea since if you enjoy one hockey romance, you might certainly enjoy another, so cross promoting like-minded authors leads to greater discoverability. I hope they start blogging about their favorite teams, the Stanley Cup playoffs and tricky concepts like icing to help readers appreciate the genre even more!

If you know someone who didn’t have the greatest Valentine’s Day, a terrific gift would be one that allows them to dwell on all their favorite Hollywood stars. As good as chocolate would be Color Me Swoon: The Beefcake Activity Guide for Good Color-Inners As Well As Beginners with it’s representations of Ryan Gosling, George Clooney and Brad Pitt just begging for your set of colored pencils and some “me” time. British artist Mel Eliott has given all of us a chance to reconnect with our inner (ahem) child, so thanks Mel!

The toughest part of choosing a calendar is always debating the cute animals approach versus the hot shirtless guys you’d like to also be looking at. Compromise no more! Hot Guys and Baby Animals 2014 combines two of your favorite things and tells you what day of the week it is. You’re welcome.

Great Deals

Harlequin Blaze’s Uniformly Hot series is one of my favorites and if you enjoy your category romance with a military hero, I suggest you take a look. A great way to dip a toe is to take advantage of the great Uniformly Hot! Volume 1 Bundle, featuring three books from Rhonda Nelson, Tawny Weber and Karen Foley – three writers with serious military chops. Harlequin books are always well priced, but $.99 for over 500 pages of hot heroes and feisty heroines is the ultimate bargain.

I love Kresley Cole‘s paranormal novels (she has an entire section of my Kindle app devoted to her) and her recent contemporary The Professional was amazing, so I’m eager to sample her historical novels. A great way to try one out is to take advantage of the ebook sale on If You Deceive, the third book in her Scottish McCarrick Brothers trilogy. A former Highland nobleman, beaten and scarred years ago for a crime he didn’t commit, finds the opportunity for the ultimate revenge when he realizes the man who caused him all this pain has a gorgeous daughter, one he can seduce with false promises and then cast aside. Naturally his plan goes awry, but can love survive the ultimate deception?

This great deal could have also been in the Upcoming Books section with a release date of March 3rd, but with seven books from seven really wonderful authors, the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Contemporary Romance Boxed Set should be on everyone’s pre-order list, particularly with the price of $.99. Readers ge 2000 pages by Charity Pinerio, Sophia Knightly, Tawny Weber, Nina Bruhns, Susan Hatler, Virna DePaul and Kristin Miller, so I think we end up being the lucky ones!

That’s it for this week. Happy reading!

Lauren Dane Proves There’s No Genre She Can’t Tackle With Her Rowan Summerwaite Urban Fantasy Series

4 Jan

Goddess With a Blade (Rowan Summerwaite #1) by Lauren Dane (Carina Press, 2011)

If I didn’t love Lauren Dane’s writing so much, she would honestly scare the crap out of me.

It’s ridiculous to find an author this talented, someone who kicks the butt of paranormal and contemporary romance, blasts science fiction romance into another galaxy, and now delivers urban fantasy on a silver platter. Oh, and she dishes all of it up with an erotic level that satisfies readers, like me, who like the bedroom door w-i-d-e open in order to see favorite character’s souls revealed in their most intimate moments (thank you!). I hope she appears normal when people meet her, rather than radiate all this talent which could potentially just shine out of her skin, blinding everyone and necessitating the use of sunglasses during book signings. 🙂

So I don’t know why I hesitated before reading her foray into the urban fantasy genre, because I love urban fantasy and I love Lauren Dane, so what could go wrong? I think I was worried by a few crankypants reviews on Goodreads, but it’s important to remember that everyone is different (and that some people do not know what they hell they are writing about).

First rule of thumb with urban fantasy? One book is not enough. I think this is because the definition of urban fantasy clearly deals with a protagonist who is distinctly “other” by their birth or abilities (often magical) who has to straddle a line between what we think of the normal world and an underworld filled with magic and/or paranormal creatures. Perhaps because of this, the first book of any urban fantasy series has a lot of groundwork to tackle, so I reserve judgement until the second book when characters and overarching plot lines can truly take off.

Luckily for me, the first book of Dane’s Rowan Summerwaite series has been out for a couple of years, so I was able to purchase Goddess with a Blade and grab its sequel, Blade to the Keep off of NetGalley for a one-two punch that totally delivers. Unlike many urban fantasy series which start off with the protagonist experiencing something which reveals their power or the presence of a paranormal underworld, we join Rowan Summerwaite in media res, on her home turf in Las Vegas. She’s a full partner in the Hunter Corporation and a field agent to boot, and under the guise of being a private investigator keeps an eye on vampires in order to insure the safety of humans.

The Celtic goddess Brigid is most often compared to the Greek and Roman goddesses Athena and Minerva, as she is not only a warrior goddess, but also supervises healing, the hearth and artistic pursuits like poetry and certain crafts.

There is probably no one better qualified, as Rowan is the foster daughter of “The First” or the most powerful vampire living and the one who rules their nation. Estranged from him since the age of sixteen when she discovered the truth about her parents’ death, Rowan has always known she is not fully human. Her mother was an acolyte of the Celtic goddess, Brigid, and Rowan discovered while still a very young child that she was one of only a few human vessels ever to have been chosen to harbor the goddess. Not only did this give Rowan another mother figure to thankfully help and heal her, but the goddess’ presence offers Rowan tremendous strength in battle – she’s a warrior goddess after all.

Rowan needed every bit of her divine help. Growing up under the foster father was brutal -vampires over 500 years old (and he’s much, much older) are known for their instability and he sought to make her tough enough to withstand the vampire world. When she fled him, she ran to Brigid’s followers and the Hunter Corporation where she quickly became one of their top hunters, collecting friends and enemies along the way. In Las Vegas, Rowan is currently not super popular among the fanged set as she recently staked the Scion of North America, the head vampire in charge, for endangering humans. Considering he was also embezzling and not a great leader, there are plenty of vampires secretly okay with this, but it’s the principle of a hunter killing such a powerful vampire that has them indignant.

Whoever said that a man in a suit was like a woman in lingerie had the right of it. I’m sure the volunteers to straighten Clive Stewart’s pocket square are legion.

Rowan is beautiful, strong and implacable but nothing could have prepared her for meeting the new Scion. Clive Stewart is a gorgeous, old vampire with the polish of centuries and a voice that sounds like British caramel. That he wears a Saville Row suit like a weapon is a bonus, as is the fact that he’s supremely irritated by Rowan’s demeanor. Sparks are a given and it’s not long before these two discover their goading of one another barely disguises a volatile attraction, one that would horrify both their constituencies.

Avoiding one another is not an option as Rowan’s police contacts let her know that what humans think is a disturbed serial killer is actually a horrifyingly demented vampire. With human women disappearing and crystal meth involved, Rowan and Clive need to work together to quickly find this murderer before the vampires are outed and other women go missing. The tentative trust between them could be easily broken with each of them needing to protect their people (and with Clive’s jealous exes popping up) and Rowan just might need the help of her goddess to come out of this one alive.

It’s obvious why this book is well-rated and it appears that a few people object to the fact that there is not a ton of buildup or simmering sexual tension between Clive and Rowan before they find themselves giving into the insanity of their attraction. I quickly realized this was the point – Clive and Rowan are also astonished by their attraction. I worry that a few of Dane’s dissatisfied readers (who still admit that they enjoyed the book) are thinking like paranormal romance readers and not ones with an urban fantasy book in their hands. While much of urban fantasy possesses strong romantic elements, it’s usually just one subplot of many and a happily ever after is not the goal of the book (with romantic arcs usually taking their course over several books in a series). Clive and Rowan are a fascinating element of the book but even more compelling is the vampire world and the way Rowan straddles multiple lines with her identity.

This identity is vital because the crux of the first book (and the series) is that Rowan is very “other”. She’s not fully human, not fully goddess, and more vampire than most vampires. She’s confident to the point of arrogance but it’s because at the age of 29 she knows exactly who she is and she’s comfortable with it, even when no one around her is. She’s loyal to her friends, is allergic to stupid or pompous people, and can open up a can of whoop-ass like nobody’s business. I love the way Dane shows the goddess as being an entity who works in conjunction with Rowan, and how their long association shows a great deal of trust between them. The goddess Brigid has her own history and possibly her own agenda which offers an interesting twist to future stories.

Blade To the Keep (Rowan Summerwaite #2) by Lauren Dane (Carina Press, December 9, 2013)

Which it does in the second and most recent book in the series, Blade to the Keep. Hunter Corporation will be a presence at the next vampire summit due to the vampire nation’s lack of forthcoming regarding the effect of certain drugs on blood-drinkers, information that came out in Rowan’s Vegas investigation. Because this event happens at the Keep, the castle complex where Rowan grew up under the jurisdiction of her foster father Theo, known to vampires as The First, she’s heading the corporation’s negotiations, and there are a lot of disgruntled people – vampire and human – who don’t like her designated role.

For Rowan, this summit dredges up a lot of feelings as she returns to the place she called home (and the man she called father) for the first sixteen years of her life. While she’s confident at the negotiation table, there are some new players present who have formed a “Blood Front” who do not want Hunter Corp. to force them to any additional provisions in the human/vampire treaty (billions of humans mean snack time for them). One vampire in particular seems to have a history with Rowan’s foster father, and she has it out for Rowan. Rowan has her new boyfriend, Clive Stewart, at her side although she understands that he needs to also represent his North American interests, but even with him and the backing of the First, she can’t help but feel it’s time to circle the wagons when she’s continually attacked from weird ancient vampires as well as undermined by pretentious members of Hunter Corporation who want Rowan’s job. The question remains if even the goddess within her can protect her enough to help her survive this diplomatic mission.

My mental image of the castle complex of Rowan’s foster father known as the Keep.

This book was even better than the first in the series (and I really enjoyed the first book). Having Rowan come back at age 30 to a place she left at 16 means a lot of reflection on her part resulting in her understanding as an adult things that she might not have been able to comprehend as a teen. Having a chance to mend fences with her mentally delicate and occasionally violent foster father, while also dealing with the pros and cons of being the foster daughter of the most powerful vampire on the planet, is fascinating. Add to that the smokin’ hot relationship with Clive, which both Rowan and Clive are prepared to own and not hide, and this is a recipe for a book with all the delicious political machinations which makes a great urban fantasy novel. The villain, the ancient vampire Enyo who shares a complicated history with Rowan’s foster father, also has history with Rowan’s goddess, which is going to make for a very, very interesting third book, I think!

With the majority of urban fantasy novels coming from gigantic publishing houses and with larger price tags accompanying them, this series is offered at an amazing price, coming in under four dollars for each ebook. Part of the price reduction could be Carina Press’ usual largesse, but it also could be the lower page count. Whereas most urban fantasy novels are in the 250 to 300 page range, the Rowan Summerwaite books are right around 200 pages. Far from being a criticism, I actually can’t believe how much Lauren Dane covers in such a short number of pages. Since I’m not a huge fan of first person (although I’ll make exceptions for great authors), I personally appreciate the occasional slight POV shift from Rowan to Clive and I think this choice would be appreciated by paranormal romance readers looking to try urban fantasy. The decision also allows readers to appreciate Clive (and his unique view of Rowan) as well as sheds further light on the vampire world.

With Dane having proven her chops in detailed world-building with her wonderful science fiction series the Federation Chronicles, she’s at home demonstrating the political world of the vampires and Hunter Corporation in detail. Another trademark Dane detail is to have a protagonist with close friends who are essentially that person’s family, people who accept and appreciate the character for exactly who they are. I also love how Dane always manages to have an awesome villain who is never a cardboard cutout but still is so wholly evil (and who has complicated motivations) that you love to hate them. Yum.

The excellently laid out political world of the vampires vs. the Hunters who strive to protect humans (without their knowledge) is reminiscent of the behind the scenes machinations of the Kate Daniels world, while Rowan’s astonishing potty mouth and lack of hesitancy in getting up in people’s business makes me laugh just like Darynda Jones’ fantastic Charley Davidson. If either of these series are your forte (or if you love Lauren Dane’s writing), you will want to give Rowan Summerwaite a try.

Happy reading!!

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, December 1, 2013

1 Dec

Upcoming Books and New Releases

For romance readers who can’t get enough of hot boxers and MMA fighters, I strongly suggest you run (don’t walk) to Abby NilesLove to the Extreme series. The second book, Fighting Love, is due out on December 31st (pre-ordered, woohoo!) and features former Middleweight champion and ladies man Tommy “Lightening” Sparks who not only just lost his title, but also his home when it burned down. Forced to move in with his best friend since they were children, vet Julie Rogers, he wakes up when Julie starts sniffing around another fighter, realizing she’s actually an unbelieveably desirable woman…and he suddenly has something worth fighting for. To make this an even more delicious announcement, Abby Niles is having a terrific $100 gift card to the bookseller of your choice giveway on her blog. Enter before January 3rd.

Paula Altenburg just released the next installment of her Demon Outlaws series, Black Widow Demon, the story of a half-demon woman escaping her fundamentalist stepfather only to embark on a mission of revenge. An intense mortal stranger known as Blade is on his own path to redemption and decides to help her reach a friend who can help her, while trying to persuade her to release her vendetta, but their journey reveals that both their futures are about to change. Publisher Entangled is also running a giveaway over the next month, offering five $10 Amazon or B&N gift cards to winners, so fill out the Rafflecopter entry when adding this book to your to-read list.

It’s no secret that I adore Lauren Dane’s writing, so I was thrilled to see that she’s partnered 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.

Fans of the computer geek turned hunky hero will want to check out Cat Johnson‘s latest reissue from her Red, Hot & Blue series, Matt, which just came out on November 26th. The 11th book in this successful series, Matt focuses on Matt Coleman, certified genius and the dependable computer guy for Task Force Zeta. Having watched so many of team find love and happiness, he’s even more disgusted that he never goes on assignment. But when a chance comes for him to head to Dubai, and in the company of the only female agent on the task force Samantha Coleman, needed to infiltrate a modern-day harem to ferret out a terrorist. Things are going to get hot in the desert with this unlikely pairing as they discover they are more than compatible on assignment – and in the bedroom.

I adore Lisa Marie Rice and her various suspense series, so I was thrilled to see that she has packaged her Dangerous series in a boxed set. Ignore the Amazon list that says its 100 pages – that’s not even possible considering the length of each book. Three kickbutt books – one about a military operative who has dreamt of the wealthy young woman who he loved as a homeless boy, another about an agent who feigns interest in a small town librarian who is friends with a deadly target only to discover his interest is very real, and finally (my favorite) a deadly arms dealer who fall first in love with an artist’s work only to then fall for the artist herself even though he puts in her mortal danger by doing so – for $11.04 is completely worth it. If you haven’t had a chance to try this great series from Rice, take this opportunity to do so.

Jill Shalvis can always be counted upon to give us a great Christmas novella, and she’s leading off a terrific anthology – A Christmas to Remember – along with Kristen Ashley, Hope Ramsay, Molly Cannon, and Marilyn Pappano. Filled with small town goodness, sexy firefighters and doctors, war widows, and holiday magic, this 225+ page compilation by Forever Yours publishing is only $1.99 right now and will come out on December 3rd, so get your copy ASAP.

New author Jamie Wyman just debuted her newest book, Wild Card, via Entangled Publishing, this past week, and it’s got some of my favorite elements – troublesome gods and goddesses interfering in people’s lives. Catherine Sharp’s soul has been won by the Greek Goddess of Discord and while she didn’t enjoy her previous dead end job, weird tasks for her new mistress aren’t exactly a cake walk. When Coyote, the Native American trickster god claims to have won her in a poker game, Cat has enough and enlists a satryr, Marius, with his own bone to pick with the goddess. Together they might be able to reclaim their lives and destiny, if their growing feelings for one another don’t complicate the situation. Fans of Think Geek, the store that is a mecca for the unashamedly nerdy, will be thrilled to know that Entangled even has a contest over the next month for a gift card to that store and custom poker chips to celebrate this debut paranormal romance novel.

Steampunk goddess Meljean Brook just announced that her wonderful novellas, The Blushing Bounder and Wrecked, both part of her enormously successful Iron Seas series, are now available as stand alone books, for those fans who were reluctant to purchase them in anthology form bundled with the work of other authors. Gorgeous covers and the price of $.99  and $1.99 respectively make these books a steal.

Giveaways

Twins are vital to plenty of romance novels, including historical romance writer Victoria Morgan whose latest novel, The Heart of a Duke, comes out on December 3rd. Lady Julia Chandler’s patience is wearing thin as the Duke of Bedford is taking forever to propose, so she decides to take the reins in hand and corner him with a kiss to hasten things along. What she doesn’t take into account is that the Duke’s twin brother has returned after ten years due to a note that told him to come home and claim his destiny and a subsequent fire that almost took his life. Something is afoot and his evil brother might be behind it, but in addition to solving the mystery he know has to contend with a fascination with the bold woman who deserves more than the Duke of Bedford. Enter the Goodreads giveaway before December 3rd for a chance to win!

Coastal Romance blogger Jenny Schwartz (and that’s the coast of Australia, FYI) is having a Christmas Blog Hop giveaway until December 24th, where you could win a $100 gift card to the ebookseller of your choice and 26 ebooks from this writing group’s authors. Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter entry on the website and sit back with your fingers crossed that you will get an extra wonderful holiday present this season!

In what sounds like a tantalizing new science fiction/military suspense series, The D.I.R.E. Agency, new author Joni Hahn is publishing the first book, Agent I1: Tristan, a second generation Navy SEAL who just finished getting some scientific enhancements to his body (like transportation and invisibility). His ramped up ability means it’s even more important to steer clear of relationships, but he can’t help coming to the aid of one of his fellow agents when he asks him to help take out his sister’s fiancee. Rachel Monroe cannot believe that her brother has ruined her plan to help her mother when he asked his friend to transport her (seriously?!) to a remote island. Now not only is she stuck with a sexy agent when that job description is literally the last one she’d consider when falling for someone. It may be too late for both of them, however… With this book due out on December 16th, interested science fiction romance fans might want to consider entering the Goodreads giveaway before December 8th to see if they can win a copy.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Sara Ramsey added a fourth book to her Muses of Mayfair series, The Earl Who Played with Fire, and if you haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet, you can enter for a chance to win it on the Goodreads giveaway. Demure Prudence Etchingham leads quite the double life – not only is smitten with her best friend’s brother, but she’s also responsible for some of the top forgeries around London, created so she can raise enough money to avoid marriage since she can’t have the man she wants. Alex Staunton, the wealthy Earl of Staunton, has managed to hide his feelings for his sister’s best friend as his family suffers from a curse that prevents them from marrying the woman of his dreams. When an enemy takes an interest in Prudence, Alex realizes he must figure out a way to break the curse and save the woman he loves. Be sure to fill out the entry form prior to December 5th for your chance to win.

It’s impossible not to love Jill ShalvisAnimal Magnetism series (well, I guess you could not love if you disliked humor, adorable animals, brave heroines, or hot former military men, but that’s your business, you poor sap), but if for some reason you haven’t yet bought the latest book in the series, Rumor Has It, there is a Goodreads giveaway where you can win a copy if you apply prior to December 5th. You’ll want to read the story of returning soldier Griffin Reid, returning home having not told his friends and family about the career ending head injury he suffered overseas. His sister’s best friend, the quirky and gorgeous Kate Evans, not only manages to ride herd on a bunch of fourth graders each day but she takes care of her father and difficult siblings. She wants something just for her and nothing could fit that bill more than sexy times with Griffin, who she has lusted after for years. Although he knows Kate doesn’t do casual and that’s all Griffin does, he can’t help playing with fire, and soon they both realize this situation is a lot more complicated than they imagined.

Fun Stuff

Do you remember my telling you about Oyster, the Netflix-like subscription source that offers a ton of books (including romance novels) to readers? That company is offering gift subscriptions for people you love who are using Apple devices (remember they need to run OS 7 for the best clarity) in 1, 3, 6, or 12 month increments (or you can choose your own number of months). You can either have the gift notification emailed to your recipient or it looks like you can have something to put in your loved one’s stocking, but either way, you’re giving them over 100,000 books for the holiday. Pretty sweet!

As the year winds to a close, best of lists are bound to pop up. For paranormal romance lovers, I can heartily recommend taking a look at Vampire Book Club’s Best of 2013 list – they have hit every wonderful book that came out this year and would be a great guide to insure you didn’t miss something spectacular (because there’s a LOT of spectacular on there!).

Audiobooks lovers are always picky about headphones, particularly if they enjoy their recorded books while exercising. LG is coming out with a sleek set of headphones in the next couple of weeks, their Tone Ultra line, which connects to your device via Bluetooth, so no more annoying, bouncing (or too short) cable going to your phone or MP3 player. With easy to use volume controls and a microphone on the stable band that goes around your neck, you can actually switch quickly from listening to your latest romance novel to answering a phone call.

While fans of Nora Roberts have usually heard about how she wrote her first book after being snowed in with her two very young sons in 1979, it’s fascinating to hear about how her previous work and her many creative endeavors left her unsatisfied until she tried writing. Take a look at The Popular Romance Project’s 5 minute interview with this funny, prolific author and enjoy the insight into her life.

Ereader fans know that there is nothing more frustrating than being out of charge when you are right in the middle of a great book with no outlet in sight! For just those moments, Mimoco offers adorable, fun batteries which can plug in to give extra life to your smartphones or tablets (and they come with the cables you need to connect to all major devices including Apple products). Made to look like crayons, hot dogs or spray paint cans, these fun additional power sources are around 3.5 inches tall, less than an inch in diameter, and charge via your USB port. At around $30, this seems like fun added insurance against bookus interruptus and one easily carried in a purse or pocket.

Great Deals

J.D. Robb fans will want to snag the novella Midnight in Death, the eighth installment of that author’s In Death series starring Eve Dallas (and there are over thirty seven books and numerous novellas to enjoy in this hugely popular mystery/suspense series). This book not only details Eve and her husband Roarke’s rather troubled holiday (murderers do not respect Christmas) but is also currently available for free for the Kindle edition on Amazon.

Kerrelyn Sparks is universally adored for her Love at Stake series – a fifteen plus book series still going strong since its start in 2005 – and you know have a chance to see how it all began. Right now, the first book in the series, How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire, is on sale for $1.99 for the Kindle edition. A desperate vampire with a broken fang and a human dentist who is not a fan of the sight of blood is quite a pair, particularly after the dentist in question is the target of a hit by the Russian mafia for having witnessed something she shouldn’t.

In a retelling of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew (or Kiss Me Kate for you musical fans), historical romance author Liana LeFey‘s To Make a Match, the third and most recent addition to her A Scandal in London series, Lady Victoria Lennox desperately wants to have a husband and family of her own, but her difficult older sister Amelia has to marry first. Victoria decides to hasten things along but arranging a scandal with Lord Julius Cavendish but Julius is way more interested in the sister marking the arrangements rather than the stubborn older one. He arranges for his friend, Lord Withington to take on that particular dragon as a decoy suitor, but it turns out Withington actually likes the woman! This comedy of errors is going to unravel and the question is, will there be a happily ever after for these players? On sale for $1.99 at Amazon right now.

My admiration for Tessa Bailey and her Line of Duty series is well known, particularly with the incredible addition of Asking for Trouble, the fourth novel in that outstanding group of books which just came out this past Monday. If you haven’t yet sampled this hot collection (it is published by Entangled’s Brazen line after all), you have a great opportunity to try it with the first book in the series, Protecting What’s His, discounted to only $.99. A hot dominant cop and the sexy young neighbor on the run who steals his heart is worth not just a read, but a subsequent re-read (I think I’m up to about six times, now). Get it!

christmas-214228_150On a personal note, I want to let everyone know that I’m planning on doing my usual December Read-a-Thon this year where I publish a review each day on a holiday themed book or novella. I’ll still publish the occasional non-holiday book (there are some really good ones coming out after all!), but hopefully I’ll be able to give you 31 days of holiday romance goodness as my present to you.

Happy reading this week!

Lauren Dane’s Federation Chronicles Aren’t Just Great Erotic Science Fiction, They Are Amazing Science Fiction. Period.

30 Nov

Undercover (Federation Chronicles #1 – Brandt, Sera, and Ash) by Lauren Dane (Berkley, 2008)

That isn’t to say they aren’t erotic – they are damn erotic – but so much of erotic science fiction is heavy on the unusual penises or having some earth woman show an alien what love really is (and hey, I’m not judging since I read it). What gets missed in that emphasis is kickass world-building with deep conflict and political machinations which highlight the flaws in society, while hopefully giving the reader insight into the inequities in their own world.

Lauren Dane does all this in her Federation Chronicles. And she does it so well that it leaves me reeling and wanting more.

You do have to be comfortable with the erotic part, and a reader unused to a high level of steamy might find the first book a baptism by fire since it involves not just two people, but three and is heavy on a BDSM dynamic. But in case you’re worried this is going to be “who puts what in where,” don’t be. This is Lauren Dane, the writer who gave us contemporaries like the Brown Siblings series and the Chase Brothers series, and paranormal series like Cascadia Wolves, the de La Vega Cats and the recently concluded, terrific Bound by Magick series. Triads pop up all the time in her writing, sometimes accepted by the culture, sometimes not, and she deftly highlights those tensions while infusing the relationship with such emotion that you are cheering for everything to work out (and it does, thankfully, since it’s a romance novel!). While Dane has written this series so each book can be a stand-alone, with world-building like this, I’d strongly recommend reading all of them in order to truly appreciate the story arc.

Public domain image via Pixabay

Public domain image via Pixabay

The Federation is actually a federation of universes (or ‘verses as the citizens refer to them) settled by humans descended from Earth colonists generations upon generations ago, with a network of official Portals linking vast distances to shorten travel and enhance commerce. Comprised of millions of people and controlled by Houses, a handful of powerful families wield sole control over the masses. Think of the Houses as medieval aristocracy in terms of power and financial control and you won’t be far off. Members of the Houses are “Ranked,” meaning they possess tremendous status and privilege in addition to vast quantities of wealth at their disposal. While ranked men and women can have affairs with unranked people, it’s extremely limited in nature, with the more prominent ranked having to enter political marriages arranged (or at least approved) by the head of their House. Naturally with this arrangement, the men often have unranked mistresses, basically courtesans, and Ranked women are raised to think only of enhancing their family’s status through marriage as their destiny.

The first book, Undercover, focuses on Lieutenant Sera Ayers, an outstanding operative for the Federation military, known for using her facility with languages and cultures to good effect in undercover operations. Coming from an extremely modest background, she’s worked hard to find her place, but has finally achieved a level of respect from her superior officers and her peers and assembled a crack team which she leads successfully. When she’s called into her CO’s office and told that her team has been reassigned to someone else so she can work with the two men in front of her on a secret assignment, she’s both stunned and enraged, primarily because the one man, Ash Walker, is the ranked jackass who stole her heart ten years ago and then shredded it with the offer of becoming his official mistress when his arranged marriage was announced and finalized. She ran from him then and she’s going to run from him now, but not before landing a terrific punch to the face.

Ash Walker knew Sera was likely to still be angry with him, even after a decade apart, but he didn’t expect this strong a reaction. He’s never stopped loving her and while he knows that she is perfect for this mission, he also knows that he’s hoping that he can show her that they can finally have a future together. His sham of a marriage fell apart after only a few years, and the best thing he got out of it was the man sitting next to him, his once brother-in-law, Brandt Pela, who is not only his best friend but his occasional lover as well. Ash suspects – no, he knows – that Sera might be the final piece to bring the three of them together, if she would just lower her defenses.

Image purchased under a web license from Shutterstock

Image purchased under a web license from Shutterstock

Brandt Pela might also be a wealthy ranked man but he sees what Ash stubbornly doesn’t, that Sera was so shattered by Ash’s treatment of her years ago that her lack of trust endangers their mission, especially since Ash constructed their cover so that Sera would have to pose as his mistress. Brandt knows that Sera is astonishingly beautiful and obviously a terrific soldier. Since he quickly decides he wants something more permanent with her as well, he offers to have her be his mistress on the mission, with the clear understanding that they will have to have sex and that the world they are traveling to is going to expect him to share her with Ash.

Sera hates Ash (and her reaction to him after all these years) but she doesn’t have a choice in this assignment. With the good-looking and considerate Brandt trying to make it work with switching the proposed roles, she accepts his offer, knowing that this mission is dangerous both physically and to her heart. When she discovers that her understanding of Ash’s choices ten years ago was not as clear as it should have been – and that the betrayal they are slowly uncovering on their assignment strikes at the heart of Ash and Brandt’s families – Sera decides she will do whatever it takes to fight for her world, even if it means having her heart broken all over again, this time by two ranked men.

I’ll be honest, this book is the most painful of the entire series for me to read since Sera and Ash are still both so raw from their loss of one another, even if it has been a decade. Sera was young and naive, at least to the point that she didn’t understand that Ash’s marriage involved the livelihood of tens of thousands of unranked people like her. Ash is an entitled ass who still doesn’t get it, but he is so in love with Sera and so tender with her as her relationship with Brandt develops that she is able to take the risk and be with him once more. Both Brandt and Ash are dominant, which works fine as Sera loves being a submissive to them (only in the bedroom, however), and the M/M action between Brandt and Ash *fans self* is quite steamy, even though Sera is their ultimate focus. Even though BDSM is not my thing, Dane writes it so well that it was clear the dynamic was about satisfying everyone’s desire to express their love and affection for one another, so it never made me uncomfortable.

I was so wowed by how Dane managed to figure out an HEA for these three since I spent a large part of my first reading desperately trying to brainstorm how on earth she could solve the problem of their status inequity. Yet these two ranked men use everything at their disposal to follow their hearts and find happiness, while also shedding the cover they’ve held for years of dissipated playboys, enabling them to be honest about both their undercover military service while at the same time honest about their love for Sera and each other. As tough as the first half of the book is, the last 30 pages always initiate a gigantic burst of warmth in my chest as it all comes together!

Relentless (Federation Chronicles #2 – Abby and Roman) by Lauren Dane (Berkley, 2009)

The second book in the series, Relentless, is actually my favorite (by a close margin, but still manages to move ahead). Centered on the Federation’s home world of Ravena, the focus of power and commerce in this polarized world. The powerful heads of houses and their heirs meet in councils to discuss issues and events, and the recent exposure of corruption in the houses of Walker and Pela (fortunately by two honored sons from those houses in the military) have stirred unrest among the unranked.

Heading it is the beautiful and dynamic Abbie Haws, a respected barrister and head of an organization which seeks greater representation for the unranked among the Houses. Abbie considers herself fortunate when she can get one of the House’s personal assistants to return her calls, but she draws attention when a nursemaid to one of the Houses is accused of stealing and fired, coincidentally right before she would qualify for her pension and retirement. The ranked members of the House involved are incensed, and Abbie is almost attacked in the courthouse. That near assault draws the attention of the most powerful man in the Federation, Roman Lyons, the head of House Lyons.

Lauren Dane mentions in her acknowledgements page that she wanted to specifically thank actor Daniel Craig since he was her inspiration for Roman Lyons, and I defy you not to think of that sexy actor as you fall for Roman. Married incredibly young at the age of 17 in a political union, Roman produced two wonderful sons quickly and then watched their mother waste away to a disease brought on by her last birth. Serious and intense, Roman has the weight of millions on his shoulders with literally the responsibility of hundreds of thousands of people directly working for the benefit of House Lyons.

Daniel Craig (the sexy beast). Whether he’s playing James Bond on screen or Roman Lyons in my head, he brings sensuality and incredible strength of purpose to the role. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

So naturally he’s astonished when he meets the troublesome Abbie Haws in his office to discover that the two of them have an immediate, combustible chemistry, one he has literally never experienced before and which ends with her having an orgasm within 10 minutes of their meeting. (That is my kind of meeting!) The two of them recognize that there is something there but the need for privacy is vital as the press getting a hold of any whiff of anything between them would be disastrous. Considering the work Abbie is doing, work that Roman grows to respect and wants to foster, her reputation would be horribly undermined with the taint of sexual connection between them. Roman also knows that as the head of House Lyons, it’s his duty to negotiate another political marriage and strengthen his House.

Knowing that there is no future is no guarantee of not falling in love. Abbie takes Roman undercover to see the lives of the unranked he controls while she gains insight into the unbelievable pressures and responsibilities he has. The Roman Abbie discovers is a man who adores his two sons and is incredibly loyal to the people who work for him. In turn, Roman discovers the truth behind Abbie’s many scars and realizes that a woman who has every reason to despise the ranked instead confronts them daily working to forward the rights of average person. The more each of them uncover, the more amazing their connection, and a hopeless love develops between them, one that they both know must end. For Roman the agony is knowing he will have to deal with everything in his life without the joy and fire that is Abbie grounding him; for Abbie it’s knowing that she will need to go on with her life seeing Roman on the vids (video) and hearing about him at every turn, particularly after he’s married to someone else.

Image purchased with web license via Shutterstock.

Image purchased with web license via Shutterstock.

Oh. My. God. There is no way you don’t come away adoring Abbie – the love she has for her family (and they for her), her handling her narcissistic and idealistic father, the older brother who almost went to jail for her before accepting a military position instead, the ex-fiancee who has remained a good friend. Particularly after hearing the crucible she went through at such a young age when she was assaulted, you will be ready to get BFF necklaces and take her out for a drink! Roman is actually her perfect match, as her playful demeanor offers him an outlet he never before possessed and his intense support with no agenda other than helping her is a welcome relief from the many people who demand a piece of her. Their heat is off the charts – muy caliente – and when that sensuality is combined with the tenderness between them, it’s enough to break your heart, particularly knowing how doomed they are.

Which brings me to the number one reason why I think this book should be made into a movie. Of all the books (and the whole series would be an incredible movie franchise if middle America wouldn’t flip out at the M/M action and the triad relationships), the ending of this book, literally had me standing up shouting “Yes, YES!!” the first time I read it (and I still do a fist pump with each subsequent re-read). Dane just surprises the hell out of me with her ability to pull an emotional yet believable HEA out of what previously appeared to be thin air. Suffice it to say that you’ll be so much more in love with Roman than you were before, if that’s possible.

Insatiable (Federation Chronicles #3, Phantom Corps #1 – Daniel and Carina) by Lauren Dane (Berkley, 2010)

The third book, Insatiable, stars none other than Abbie Haws brother, Daniel, who works for Roman Lyons’ chief military officer in what’s known as the Phantom Corps. In fact, Dane has created a mini-trilogy within the larger construct of the Federation Chronicles, continuing the story arc of political corruption within the Federation and demonstrating how the brave men and women of this elite undercover force ferrets out information and eliminates threats to the universes.

This book brings in a fascinating angle to the series’ story arc of the growing threat to the Federation by exposing us to the threat inherent in Imperial territory. The Imperial ‘Verses are the direct competition and insidious enemy of the Federation although no conflict is officially declared. One of the most powerful men in this ‘verse is a sick bastard by the name of Fardelle, who is about to marry off his twenty-three year old daughter Carina to further cement an alliance with one of his underlings.

Carina has perfected the facade of a shallow, stunningly beautiful woman just waiting to be married off to further her father’s agenda. Her mother, Fardelle’s first wife, has worked quietly behind the scenes to undermine her husband and support her children at every turn, for all the good it’s done her.  Her oldest son literally disappeared and his name stricken from all records and portraits, her youngest son died suddenly of a mysterious and virulent illness, and now her daughter is to be married to a violent lecher who will make the rest of her life a hell. Stealing vital data chips from her husband’s home office, Carina’s mother convinces her to accept the coded data as a subdermal chip, intrinsically linked to her body’s system so that in order to extract the data, Carina must be alive. Contacting Federation forces, Fardelle’s wife arranges for an operative to ferry Carina to Federation territory and safely out of her father’s hands.

Carina agreed to be the carrier thinking that this would undermine her father’s evil while helping her and her mother escape, and she’s dismayed at the last minute by her mother’s announcement that she plans to stay behind. Carina fleeing a horrible marriage is believable versus the more treasonous implications of the two of them disappearing. When the handsome but bossy operative Daniel Haws arrives in disguise, Carina can tell she’s in good hands even if the agent in question treats her like an utter moron.

Public domain image courtesy of Pixabay

Public domain image courtesy of Pixabay

Daniel is shocked at not only how beautiful Carina Fardelle is, but how her public face of a vapid, shallow daughter of wealth completely disappears and in its place is that of a vibrant and capable young woman eager to experience the world and feel her freedom. He must get her out of Imperial territory alive, however, and back to Ravena where the information on her chip can be decoded. Fardelle is suspected of trafficking in bioweapons with the goal to attack Federation outposts and the human costs could potentially be in the millions. Yet as he and Carina evade Imperial forces with the help of his fellow agents, Daniel finds himself sexually and emotionally pulled toward this brave young woman, all the while knowing that when they return to his home planet she will be inundated with proposals of marriage from ranked men. But Carina didn’t escape her father’s control to not take the reins of her own destiny, and she knows her future includes Daniel, if he can let go of his belief system to see it.

Dane does a terrific job showing us the phenomenal pressures of Carina’s life, pressures which force her to don an impenetrable mask in order to avoid detection. But although Carina is a virgin, she is a sensual, slightly naughty one with a propensity for voyeurism, so she has plenty of tricks up her sleeve and she plans on trying all of them with Daniel. There is no way for Daniel to resist her for long, at least not once his instincts confirm that this bold, courageous woman is the real Carina, and he knows she may just be one person he can never let go. I loved them as a couple, adored their heat, and felt that the sense of imminent threat to the Federation was so well done, I wasn’t sure what was making my pulse pound more – Carina and Daniel’s sexy times or the urgent need for them to get her information back to Ravena ASAP! Meeting the other members of the Phantom Corps helps understand the dynamics of their operation while introducing us to a few key people, namely the heroes of the next two books.

Mesmerized (Federation Chronicles #4; Phantom Corps #2 – Andrei and Piper) by Lauren Dane (Berkley, 2011)

The first fellow Phantom Corp agent with his own book is Andrei Solace, the enigmatic assassin who helped Carina and Daniel get to Federation territory. Now in Mesmerized, with the escalation of animosity from the Imperial forces a growing rumor – particularly with their use of mercenaries to traffic bioagents and ammunition – Andrei is sent back to his home planet to investigate. There is one mercenary in particular who he never forgot and who he is sure will help the Federation. But seeing her means confronting his past and, more importantly, having the strength to walk away…again.

Piper Roundtree thought Andrei might have died when he disappeared at age 17 and it broke her young heart. Always best friends, their affection for one another became an all-consuming young love which had them taking one another’s virginity. But Andrei and Piper both lived a hardscrabble existence on the wrong side of the law, and while Piper had her siblings, Andrei was alone after his mother died and his siblings were taken away. After his arrest, the Roundtrees never saw him again, only comforted by the occasional packets of credits marked with a single “A” that helped them survive in their isolated compound during the hard years.

But when Andrei turns out to be the mysterious sniper who just saved Piper and her family from annihilation at the hands of Imperial soldiers pressuring her to ferry illegal cargo, Piper has the realization that nothing has changed regarding her feelings for Andrei. Yes, he’s now a man when she loved the boy, but realizing the work he’s done and how he has made himself into a deadly soldier only makes her more determined to show him that he is loved exactly for who he is. Andrei knows that who and what he is will only stain this incredible thing that he has with Piper, but he can’t help needing her, even when he knows he should push her away.

Andrei was a sexy beast in Insatiable and had a demonstrated wry sense of humor, but seeing him revisit his painful past is worth it to find Piper again. She is so upbeat and stubborn (both in the best possible way) and most importantly, she knows him well-enough to understand all the shame and worries he brings to their renewed relationship, allowing her to blast past those barriers one at a time. For Andrei, being an assassin and spy is so much of who he is (and that part of him that he doesn’t want Piper to know) that for him to see her actively take part in his life – using her shady contacts, her ability to bluff and her amazing piloting skills to help him and the Federation – is this eye-opening moment where it occurs to him that his vocation doesn’t have to be separate from the love of his life. I adored them both and cheered for them to figure it all out, even when the ending of the book broke my heart with Piper’s loss during the plant raid.

Captivated (Federation Chronicles #5 ; Phantom Corps #3 – Vincenz, Julian and Hannah) by Lauren Dane (Berkley, 2012)

That final mission in Mesmerized had a big impact on more than just Andrei and Piper. In Captivated, we see the story begin back at the raid, as Vincenz Fardelle (Carina’s older brother who disappeared and then enlisted in the Phantom Corps) helps raid the plant in an effort to discover more about his father’s Imperial plans for bioweaponry. As he is making his way through the deserted labs, he spots a naked, filthy woman, clearly tortured, in one of the glass cells. Glancing at the lab’s information to insure that she is not infected or dangerous, he’s angered and horrified to discover that she has been subjected to an experiment for over a year at being deprived of touch or interaction of any kind other than experiments involving pain or violent treatment. He scoops her up and takes her to the transport to get her out of that hellhole prior to its detonation.

The woman, who is identified as scientist Hannah Black, is naturally terrified of doctors of any kind, reminded all too much of the experiments and pain inflicted upon her in her captivity. Vincenz, who has rejected his father’s name and taken his mother’s surname Cuomo, is in a relationship with fellow Phantom Corps member Julian Marsters. Brought together soon after Julian lost his best friend in the attack on Ravena in Insatiable, Vincenz and Julian discovered that their love for one another has pushed back the darkness they each carry. Perhaps because of this, they empathize with Hannah’s struggle to fight to gain back the pieces of her shattered memory and personality, immediately protecting her from the Federation doctors who want her in a hospital under their care.

In the weeks after her rescue, Hannah feels nothing but frustration at her fragmented intellect combined with intense affection for the two gorgeous men who protect her. Deprived of human touch for so long, golden Vincenz and the dark Julian keep her sandwiched between them at night, making sure one of them is always close by for her to hold if she needs them during the day. When it becomes clear that she was kidnapped for a reason by the Imperial scientists, Hannah agrees to undergo a painful experimental treatment which will hopefully amplify the piecing together of her memory in order to help the Phantom Corps with information. In the process, a part of herself she thought permanently lost – that of sexual desire – returns with a vengeance and is embarrassingly directed at the handsome soldiers who saved her.

While Vincenz and Julian may have begun their acceptance of Hannah into their home based on the need to protect her, the weeks of witnessing her daily bravery have deepened their feelings into much more and they both admit to each other that their feelings are quite carnal. Helping Hannah reclaim this part of herself as well is nothing but a pleasure to all three of them, but with Julian still withholding a part of himself over grief for his friend and Vincenz facing his father’s demons in an important mission, Hannah wonders if the feelings she has for these two men will have to come to an end.

Public domain image via Pixabay

Public domain image via Pixabay

Okay, this is the book practically tied with Relentless as my favorite of the series. Vincenz and Julian are both hot and sweet with one another – brainy, hunky soldiers with dark pasts who nevertheless find something precious and wonderful in one another. The development with Hannah is all the sweeter for them not realizing it was anything they needed or wanted, they just woke up one day realizing that her happiness was incredibly important to them and that she was a woman whose beauty, inside and out, made her an intrinsic part of their relationship.

Hannah is an amazing character and I think Lauren Dane is nothing short of masterful the way she conveys how Hannah’s brain has morphed into something truly different, yet how that change has simply revealed the core of her amazing personality. Seeing Piper and Andrei again was a pleasure, particularly when they both explain how Vincenz and Julian are seriously stepping in it and hurting Hannah. There’s no way you don’t have a smile on your face when Andrei lectures the two of them on how to treat a woman! Dane offers great further development of threat from the Imperial forces and a really exciting denouement when we return to the compound from which Carina escaped back in Insatiable. There is joy and heartbreak in the final showdown, but once again, an unexpected HEA that makes you cheer for this triad and the future they have together.

While Dane has made clear that while she is busy juggling other projects in 2014 (and I’m looking forward to them!), she’s is planning at least two more books in the series – Wil (the hot head of the Phantom Corps who we have already seen flustered by a woman back on Ravena) and Deimos (Roman Lyons oldest son who I carry a crush for based on how much he loves his father and how he wants to help Abby). Her website states that she’s hoping their books will come out in 2015, but luckily for us, these five books are so amazing that whenever I get itchy for fabulous science fiction, I just reread them!

There All Along by Lauren Dane and Megan Hart (Berkley, December 3, 2013)

I did want to address the cost of the books – the ebook editions are strangely expensive (like around $11) which I don’t understand at all, but there are mass market paperbacks for each of them with a normal price of $6, and honestly, whatever you pay, they are utterly worth it. I have most of mine in paper format, but considering where they rank in my list of favorite series, I’m going to slowly add the ebook versions since I like to have both formats for books I consider to be romance classics, and these fit the bill.

Many thanks to Lauren Dane for being such a kickass writer that she can do multiple genres with aplomb. She has another (what sounds like) science fiction story (unrelated to the Federation chronicles) coming out this week in a duology with Megan Hart, There All Along, and Dane’s story “Land’s End” about a lone gunman and the woman who’s town is attacked, sounds amazing – I’ve already pre-ordered it!

If you enjoy science fiction, love science fiction erotic romance, or just plain love Lauren Dane, do yourself a favor and get the Federation Chronicles on your to-read list ASAP. This a phenomenal series by a phenomenal writer – you’ll love it!

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! 🙂

Naked Sushi by Jina Bacarr a Yummy Addition to Cosmo’s Red-Hot Reads Collection

15 Oct

Naked Sushi by Jina Bacarr (Cosmo’s Red-Hot Reads by Harlequin, October 15, 2013)

I’m beginning to appreciate the diversity of voices in Harlequin’s recent partnership with Cosmopolitan magazine‘s Red-Hot Reads ebooks. Tawny Weber, HelenKay Dimon and we all know how I think Lauren Dane’s Cake should win an award it was so awesome…this is quite the lineup of very different authors, all of them with a distinct readership. It’s a smart approach and I love smart.

When I saw Naked Sushi available on NetGalley and that it had the Cosmo Red-Hot Reads brand in the corner, I was intrigued enough to give it a try although I had never read anything by Jina Bacarr.

Bacarr has a somewhat zany style in this 90 page novella, starting the book in media res with our heroine, Pepper, stretched naked on a sushi table at a high scale Japanese restaurant trying to get the attention of her former boss and horrified to see the man she had sex with in the copy room of her programming company taking a tuna roll off her thigh.

The scene quickly dissolves to take us back to the beginning of the adventure, focusing on Pepper the brainy computer programmer who loves her job but not her witch of an office manager. She drops back into work one night only to find a hot guy in the copy room who she thinks is the new person just hired. They end up having one steamy sex scene before Pepper accidentally triggers an alarm and her copy buddy makes his escape after having his orgasm but right before she has hers. Ouch.

This is frustrating in more than one way, particularly after her bitchy manager, who is perpetually jealous of the pretty, capable Pepper even though she wears thick glasses and oversized flannel shirts, is the one to discover her bare-assed and shaking with need attempting to tidy the room. When the paper scattered every which way is revealed to be the company owner’s tax returns, Pepper is instantly fired without a reference. Angry at both the lover who left her high and not dry as well as the situation, Pepper shifts into sleuth mode and tries to get back her job. What she finds is that the mystery guy carries handcuffs….for a living…and that things are way more complicated than even she could imagine.

I wasn’t initially sure that I liked the style of this book, with the way it jumped around a bit on the timeline, until I realized that it had the flavor of a more steamy Stephanie Plum novel, with Pepper’s antics reminding me of that level of screwball luck. Granted, Pepper is a talented computer hacker but her FBI agent love interest walks the edge of obnoxious before melting for Pepper’s charms. I liked the vulnerability built into her backstory when we find out why she didn’t go through the entire application process for law enforcement, and adored the denouement of the final take-down. Granted, this is the most unprofessional FBI unit ever, with the hero having sex on the job and his sexually manipulative boss content to flash cleavage and make remarks about the hero’s intimacy with Pepper, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief. Despite the cover blurb, both the POV of the hero and the heroine are given.

Naked Sushi is priced a little high for a 90 page novella – at the $3 mark – and considering I can get a full-length category romance Harlequin book for this amount, I worry that the publisher’s decision is going to put people a little off purchasing it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this novella very much and felt that Bacarr lived up to the sensual promise inherent in such a provocative title.

Happy reading! 🙂

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of October 6, 2013

6 Oct

Upcoming Books and New Releases

Historical Romance writer, Katherine Ashe, is giving readers a fantastic Christmas present with the release of her holiday novella, Kisses, She Wrote: A Christmas Romance. When a rakish earl stumbles across the diary of a wallflower princess whose fantasies are anything but demure, sparks are going to burst into flames that will light the Yule fire, for sure. One of the best pieces of this novella? It’s currently only $.99 on Amazon. If you’re too eager to wait until December 3rd, then check out Ashe’s website for a tantalizing snippet. Ashe fans might also want to note that her full-length Regency ghost story (with a romance at its center), Captive Bride, is also reduced down to $.99 as well.

Samanthe Beck’s McCade Brothers series has just become one of my favorites since I read the associated novella in Lovers Unmasked and bought and read the first book in the series, Lover Undercover (awesome!!!), so I was thrilled to see that the next installment of the series, Falling for the Marine, will be out at the end of October. A marine helicopter pilot with a back injury is anxious to get back into the pilot’s seat but when he’s hot neighbor is the masseuse assigned to him she’s not the only one with straying hands. Entangled publishing is great with pricing, so this hot novel by a great author is only $2.99. Mine is already pre-ordered!

Dianne Duvall just released the fourth book in her Immortal Guardians series, Darkness Rises, featuring a beautiful swordswoman who gets the drop on vampire and the two-hundred year old guardian who realizes the vamps she’s killing have influential friends, a fact that puts her and his fellow guardians, in danger. Released on October 1st, this 400+ page paranormal romance is under $6 for its ebook version which suddenly places the series on my “to-read” list!

Fantastic new author Kat Latham (who blew me away with the first book in her rugby-based London Legends series, Knowing the Score) will be offering a connected Christmas novella to her series, Mine Under the Mistletoe, due out on December 5th. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy! No cover art as of yet, but I’ll let you know when it comes out.

I was impressed with the intensity of Shannon McKenna’s One Wrong Move, which made me thrilled to see its sequel, Fatal Strike, was just published in trade paperback and ebook form at the end of September. Containing more of a pronounced paranormal element than its predecessor (which still had one, it was just subtle) this book features a captured woman tortured like a lab rat with injections that bring out psychic powers. She finds herself escaping to a safe place where a handsome, protective man exists who always makes her feel better but she thinks he’s a product of her imagination until he bursts through the door. Bring. It. On.

Giveaways and Contests

While Lauren Dane fans are reveling in the publication of her latest book in the Brown Siblings saga, Drawn Together, this week, they need to not forgot that this prolific author does not rest on her laurels, but always has yet another amazing book coming out. Her Bound By Magick series is about to have the fourth book published in early November, Wild Darkness, but readers should note that Goodreads is actually having a giveaway (ending October 11th) if you wanted to see if you could win a copy.

Author Cassandra Carr has always given us great sports romances, so it’s not a surprise that her recent contest is running under a “Hockey Hotties” moniker! Enter to win a selection from her backlist of great hockey romances by leaving a comment on the webpage.

Sports romance fans need to run not walk over to Give Me Books in order to enter that blog’s Extreme Jock Giveaway. I’m still reeling from the prizes – 44 author signed paperbacks, 97 ebooks, 19 ebook sets, various swag and even a few book retailer gift cards!! Be warned that the Rafflecopter giveaway is naturally extensive with so many authors participating (you’re going to spend a decent amount of time tweeting and clicking those Facebook like buttons for entries) but it’s so worth it.

Entangled Teen has collaborated with Hesperia Loves Books to produced an unbelievable giveaway to support Breast Cancer Awareness and research. Running for the month of October, this giveaway gives participants the chance to win over twenty books, many of them signed, by authors such as Jeaniene Frost and Lori Foster. Tweeting and posting on Facebook about the giveaway gives extra points, but consider the multi-point bonus that comes with donating to the National Breast Cancer research program (the link is right in the rafflecopter giveaway). I did in honor of my Aunt Martha who is currently fighting breast cancer (and who loves romance) and I’m sure you can think of someone who has suffered through this disease. SUCH a great cause!

Paranormal romance readers who like their books a little to the left of steamy hot are already familiar with Joey W. Hill’s Vampire Queen series, but right now on Goodreads, she’s also giving away the first book in her Arcane Shot series, Something About Witches. Featuring a witch who prefers the reliability of a handgun to a spell and the sorcerer she pushed away years before who needs her help, this book (and series) is worth a look. This was the intention of Berkeley Sensation publishing who are gearing up for Hill’s new release on December 3rd, Unrestrained, by giving away books from all her various series. Thanks, Berkeley! Enter by October 11th for a chance to win.

Historical mystery readers who love their puzzles with a touch of romance will want to enter the Goodreads giveaway for Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener. In Regency London a young woman must pose as the French chef of a nobleman in order to be positioned to ferret out her father’s killer and protect the document he entrusted to her prior to his death. Her employer’s curiosity and obvious romantic interest runs the risk of exposing not only her identity but also attracting exactly the one person she needs to avoid if she is to survive. Enter by October 11th for a chance to win.

If Banquet of Lies has you thinking about French food and Paris, you might want to check out the Travel Channel’s contest to win the “Parisian Trip of a Lifetime!” Six days and five nights for two at a cushy hotel in the City of Lights, including a half-day private tour (I think I’d go just for this), a two-hour Parisian bakery workshop (okay, nix the previous statement, I’d go for this), and $1500 spending money. *sigh*

Karen Hawkins’ second book in her The Duchess Diaries series is also being offered as a Goodreads giveaway and historical romance readers will definitely want to give How to Pursue a Princess a good look, whether they win or not. A young woman is pressured to make a good match and hopes she’s going to fall for the wealthy Earl her godmother thinks is perfect, until the hot and penniless Russian prince walks into the room. Whoops. Enter before October 12th to take this one home.

Signet Publishing deserves some major kudos for the outstanding covers of Marie Claremont’s historical series Mad Passions. This Victorian romance series has just had the second book in the series, Lady in Red, come out on October 1st, but if you haven’t yet picked it up, you may want to try to win a copy by entering the Goodreads giveaway before October 15th. This dark series’ installment features a young noblewoman who manages to escape the asylum in which her father has placed her, to run right into the arms of a duke who might very well be her salvation. That he finds her torment to mirror his own only binds them together as they fight for her future.

Fun Stuff

My deep-seated admiration for Laura Kaye’s writing is hardly a secret, and I’ve put on the Sunday posts how much I’m looking forward to her upcoming book, Hard As It Gets, which is the first in her new Hard Ink series. Thankfully for her fans (and quite frankly, any woman who enjoys eye-candy!), Avon Publishing has produced a fantastic video with her being interviewed about her inspiration for the characters. She’s delightful, the Baltimore backdrop lovely, and the tattooed figures…um…quite inspiring. Take a look!

Macy’s is selling a dress by Tommy Hillfiger featuring a great print that is row upon row of books. In the shirtwaist style, this looks awesome with boots and is a reasonable $79.95. I’m so on this.

For every girl who used her mother’s bangles to mimic Wonder Woman’s cuffs or pretended to be Barbara Gordon turning into Batgirl, there is a great nonfiction book, The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines by Mike Madrid. Right now this informative text is an amazing $1.99 at Amazon, so feed your inner Superwoman and download it in a flash.

Great Deals

I was thrilled to find on M. L. Buchman’s blog a note that some of his fantastic novellas which accompany his The Night Stalkers military romance series were being offered in a “romance bundle” from StoryBundle. Not having heard of that particular store, I went to take a look and was wowed by the mission of the website. Designed to promote indie authors by offering their books together with other books as a “bundle” around a given theme, the site’s founders hope to encourage you to find new authors you might enjoy. Unlike the great $.99 bundles on Amazon I often promote, StoryBundle also 1) lets you set your own price for the bundle (although it suggests an incredibly affordable one) and 2) encourages you to add an extra percentage which they donate toward charities encouraging writing and literacy among children. How awesome is that? Books are downloaded in either .mobi or .epub form so Kindle users or other ebook readers can all handle the files. Take a look at the romance bundle to realize that this is no pure donation – not only Buchman’s books but also independent books from Stephanie Laurens, Jo Beverly, Mary Jo Putney and Kristine Grayson. WOW!

Historical romance writer Courtney Milan’s Turner series novella, Unlocked, is on sale for $.99 right now on Amazon. A little over 100 pages, this story features a wallflower determined to stand up to her former tormentor upon hearing he’s returned to England. That he’s here to apologize for his past behavior doesn’t seem to quench her ire and the nobleman in question finds he wants much more than her forgiveness.

I’ve never read a suspense story that happened to be a Western, but I’m about to change that with the news that B. J. Daniels’ Harlequin Intrigue novel, The New Deputy in Town, is free for download on Amazon right now. When a new lawmen has to solve a bridal shower murder and everyone in the heroine’s family had a motive, things are bound to become complicated quickly.

Lyndsay Sands’ Argeneau Vampires series is understandably famous, so it’s always a good deal when they are discounted. Right now, The Accidental Vampire, the seventh book in the series, is marked down to only $1.99, a terrific deal. Starring a new vampire trying to adjust to coffin life on her own who gets set up by well-meaning friends on a blind date, the heroine is thrilled to discover the experienced vampire Victor Argeneau on the other side of the table. He’s good-looking enough to have his pick of woman with a heartbeat or without, but he definitely wants to help her, particularly after the realization that someone wants to put an end to his sweet fledgling’s new existence.

Having just reviewed Jennifer Ashley’s latest in the Highland Pleasures series, The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie, I’m thrilled to note that the accompanying Christmas novella, A Mackenzie Family Christmas is actually FREE right now on Amazon for its ebook form, so run over and grab it while the price lasts.

I love Cat Johnson’s Westerns but her Red, Hot and Blue series has always demonstrated she knows her way around a man in uniform (and out of it as well, mrrrrooow!). The third book in the series (each named after the hero), Jimmy, is now available for free download at Amazon, so check it out. An undercover Special Forces hero, the red-haired daughter of a senator, and one unbelievably hot one night stand (did I mention terrorists?) all make for an unbeatable combination.

That’s the scoop for this week. Happy Reading! 🙂

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