Tag Archives: Line of Duty

The Wedding Dare Series Delivers Hot Groomsmen, Beautiful Bridesmaids and Scorching Sensuality Proving Multi-Author Series Have a Happily Ever After

9 Jun
Dare to Resist (Wedding Dare #.5 - Kady and Colton) by Laura Kaye (Entangled Brazen, May 12, 2014)

Dare to Resist (Wedding Dare #.5 – Kady and Colton) by Laura Kaye (Entangled Brazen, May 12, 2014)

It’s hard not to get really worried when a publisher puts together a series using multiple authors. I’ve seen it used successfully only a handful of times (the Harlequin/Mills & Boon Notorious Wolfes series comes to mind) but mostly it becomes a “who writes it better” comparison with some authors lacking.

Leave it to the editors at Entangled’s Brazen line – a group who fortunately employ a stable of authors who comprise “who’s who” in the field of contemporary romance – to harness the power of writers like Laura Kaye, Jen McLaughlin (aka Diane Alberts), Tessa Bailey, Katee Robert and Samanthe Beck in order to deliver a uniformly phenomenal series, Wedding Dare, that everyone should run out and buy ASAP.

Another brilliant move was releasing the prequel, Dare to Resist by Laura Kaye (which I told everyone to buy after reading it a few weeks ago) to set the stage of a couple falling in love and preparing to gather their friends and family to have a wedding. The whipsmart Kady and dominant Colton found their happily ever after competing for a military contract. Having known each other for years, Colton wasn’t about to waste time before making Kady his own. With four bridesmaids and four groomsmen in tow, the happy couple has a week of activities leading up to the wedding planned at the Colorado resort that makes for the perfect romantic setting. When libidos run high at the bachelorette party it’s not long before the lovely women in question begin betting each other that they can bag a groomsman by the end of the week, with a few of them choosing the lucky man in question from across the room. But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

 Falling for the Groomsman by Jen McLaughlin/Diane Alberts

Falling for the Groomsmen (Wedding Dare #1 - Christine and Tyler) by Jen McLaughlin/Diane Alberts (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Falling for the Groomsmen (Wedding Dare #1 – Christine and Tyler) by Jen McLaughlin/Diane Alberts (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Christine Forsythe, tough investigative journalist, has been Kady Dresco’s best friend forever, and she’s thrilled to see one of the people she loves the most find the forever brand of happiness, particularly with Colton, who was Kady’s crush growing up. For years the two were driven apart by some particularly hot hanky-panky that Colton initiated and then fled from, and Christine knows exactly what that feels like – she lost her virginity in the hallway of a Mexican hotel with Kady’s hot brother Tyler.

That he promptly left her after apologizing and looking horrified, never speaking to her again except in the barest of social contact, humiliated and angered her, but she’s thinking that she might be able to get a little payback eight years down the road based on how Tyler keeps sniffing around. The man is smoking hot, and Christine can’t keep her hands (damn them!) off him, no matter how bad an idea this seems. Tyler is a sure bet not to be looking for a relationship, as this ER doctor takes months of leave to do his Doctor Without Borders work all over the globe, so he might the perfect participant for her naughty to-do list. Christine is using Kady’s wedding as the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and start fresh in her life – new job, new state to live in, and new sexual experiences are all on her agenda, albeit a secret agenda she’s not currently sharing.

Tyler Dresco has committed to head up the ER of a prestigious hospital in the Pacific Northwest for a year before giving in to his wanderlust, but it’s lust of a different kind he’s feeling upon setting eyes again on his sister’s smoking hot friend, Christine. He still winces when he thinks of his colossal dick move of comforting the young girl who was still dealing with the recent loss of her parents, but having sex with Christine was all-consuming. Yes, he panicked when he realized he had taken her virginity that night and he has no excuse for his behavior, but what he’s always chalked up to the lust in a moment is disproven when he realizes that Christine still makes him lose control. When he catches wind of the fact that the bridesmaids are looking for a hookup, Tyler plans on making sure that she experiments with no one but him. But when the question arises of whether Christine has been playing an elaborate game of payback or if what between them is real, Tyler doesn’t know if he can bring himself to give up the woman in whose arms he has finally found a home.

Temporarily Yours (Shillings Agency #1 - Cooper and Kayla) by Jen McLaughlin (Entangled Brazen, February 3, 2013)

Temporarily Yours (Shillings Agency #1 – Cooper and Kayla) by Jen McLaughlin/Diane Alberts (Entangled Brazen, February 3, 2013)

In Falling for the Groomsman, we have classic Diane Alberts (Jen McLaughlin’s contemporary romance pseudonym) who always writes her heroes and heroines with a decent amount of emotional baggage to overcome. Her characters are intensely likeable, which is why I read her work, and Christine and Tyler are no exception. There is no question that Tyler was a supreme coward (and super dickish) for the way he reacted all those years ago with Christine, but having a chance to finally own it and move forward to get to know her better as the incredible woman she is now shows how he has grown as well. I loved that Alberts has tied this book to her fantastic first novel in her Shillings Agency series, Temporarily Yours, as Christine is the sister to the former Marine hero of that novel; Christine’s move to Maine is to be near her brother who has finally returned home and gotten a job with the Shillings security company. Let me also say that I had the pleasure of meeting Jen at my local chapter of Lady Jane’s Salon (a romance reading series around the country) and she’s as funny and nice as you’d imagine based on her terrific novels.

Baiting the Maid of Honor by Tessa Bailey

Baiting the Maid of Honor (Wedding Dare #2 - Reed and Julie) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Baiting the Maid of Honor (Wedding Dare #2 – Reed and Julie) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

God, Tessa Bailey has yet to write the book that doesn’t blow me out of the water and this second installment in the Wedding Dare series is no exception. I totally jones for her brand of dark, dark hero and the women they fall for, who usually are their polar opposites.

In Baiting the Maid of Honor, Julie Piper is the perky blonde sorority sister who has been given the maid of honor post since that’s her role in life – she’s the one everyone counts on, who organizes activities and puts herself dead last while taking care of other people’s needs. Her friends love her but her family still hasn’t gotten over the tragic accident that stole Julie’s older sister, a paragon whose memory Julie knows she will never live up to in their eyes. Since she loved her sister, too, she’s never going to stop trying.

Reed Lawson can’t believe that he’s actually at Colton’s wedding. This SWAT officer is a long way from Atlanta and only for one of his best friends would he put up with donning a suit and making small talk over champagne. The situation and people remind him how far he’s come from a kid escaping his abusive home in a poor Tennessee town, but considering how much Colton and their friends Reed and Brock contributed to helping him see what he could become, the least he can do is be here. One look at the blond, upper-class Southern belle who is the maid of honor and Reed cannot keep his hands off her or his dirty mouth silent, particularly after he realizes that this stunner hides a dirty girl under that polished debutante surface. But while she’s not his usual one-night-stand type, he knows he’s not her usual type of bedmate either – and that he can never give her the affection and emotional intimacy that she needs. When the thought of hurting her proves just as painful as walking away, Reed is forced to face a world where he has to fight for his future or live in the darkness that is a world without Julie.

Asking for Trouble (Line of Duty #4 - Hayden and Brent) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, November 25, 2013)

Asking for Trouble (Line of Duty #4 – Hayden and Brent) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, November 25, 2013) – Brent is one of Bailey’s ultimate dirty talkers!!

Oh. My. God. No one does the dark, dirty-talking hero like Tessa Bailey (as any reader of her amazing Line of Duty series knows). Reed is exactly the tattooed bad boy who is easy to fall for. Bailey’s proven formula is shoving emotionally bereft men into the vortex of a heroine who suddenly has them craving more. That cracking sound is the ice under the feet giving way as they take the plunge into a honest-to-goodness relationship in which they love this woman so all-consumingly that they will do whatever it takes to insure her happiness and well-being. Julie is a fantastic character – the friend everyone takes for granted – and that Reed sees how she is not taking care of herself or getting what she needs in return makes you root for him to get his shit together and take a chance on love. I’m hoping that she might develop Reed’s Atlanta SWAT office into other books, as I was super impressed with her pitch-perfect Southern voice. It was sexy as hell coming out of both Reed and Julie’s mouths and I want more! 🙂

Seducing the Bridesmaid by Katee Robert

Seducing the Bridesmaid (Wedding Dare #3 - Brock and Regan) by Katee Robert (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Seducing the Bridesmaid (Wedding Dare #3 – Brock and Regan) by Katee Robert (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Katee Robert just continues to impress me – her Come Undone and Out of Uniform series are excellent and her recent foray into science fiction romance has proven her versatility as an author. With Seducing the Bridesmaid, Robert demonstrates how she’s able to mine emotions in her characters, with the result being deep, three-dimensional people who you’re startled when you lift your head to discover they aren’t actually in the room with you.

It’s particularly impressive in the two characters who are her hero and heroine. Regan Wakefield is a gorgeous, assertive headhunter who is quite the ball breaker, owning her sexuality like she wears her stiletto heels. She’s got a personal plan that’s in countdown mode since her soriority sister Kady announced her wedding date, and the best man, CEO Logan McCade, hits all Regan’s major points. Unfortunately she can’t seem to get rid of the other groomsman, Brock McNeil, whose gorgeous face and body house a lack of ambition in this silver spoon holding playboy.

Brock is not happy that the gorgeous Regan is unwilling to give him the time of day and he wants to shatter the control she wears like one of her designer dresses. Proving to Regan that he sees her beneath the facade means revealing that there is more to him than his last name and the work he’s kept off the business world’s radar. That she has set her sights on Logan, who is too much like Brock’s perfect older brother, sticks in his craw, but he wants her to want him – the real Brock – despite his hangups. That his insecurities might drive away the one woman he’s wanted for more than a few nights means that Brock has some reevaluation to do, particularly when it becomes obvious that he’s going to have to finally go after something after a lifetime of taking the easy road.

In Bed with Mr. Wrong (Out of Uniform #1 – Ryan and Brianne) by Katee Robert (Entangled Brazen, January 13, 2014)

Regan could have easily been bitchy and Brock a shallow manwhore, but Robert’s skillful writing shows Regan as strong but misguided and Brock as suffering at the hands of his father as never living up to expectations. There is a lot of personal accountability to be owned for each of them, with Brock having to do more growing than Regan, as she at least doesn’t hesitate to face up to her mistakes and misperceptions. Her fear of the outdoors provides a wonderful injection of humor at key points in the book, and you’ll never look the same way at a squirrel again! I adored the epilogue (I think it’s my favorite out of all of the novels, even though each one is perfectly suited for its couple) and can confidently say that if you enjoy this novel (and you will) you need to check out Robert’s other books as they maintain a similar high standard.

Best Man with Benefits by Samanthe Beck

Best Man with Benefits (Wedding Dare #4 - Logan and Sophie) by Samanthe Beck (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

Best Man with Benefits (Wedding Dare #4 – Logan and Sophie) by Samanthe Beck (Entangled Brazen, June 9, 2014)

I’ve loved Samanthe Beck since reading her smoking hot McCade Brothers series, so I was elated to discover that the hero of this Wedding Dare novel was none other than the elusive Logan McCade, the driven, outdoorsy CEO who provides a distinct counterpoint to his cop and Marine brothers.

As the college roommate of the groom, Logan has been given the best man role, one he’s happy to take on despite his outdoor gear company taking up 25 hours of his day. On the cusp of a major merger, he’s getting constant calls and emails, distractions which make it hard to fulfill his role for the week of wedding activities, but it’s friends first in Logan’s priorities. When Colton asks him to keep an eye on his shy sister Sophie, Logan remembers the sweet girl from their college days and is happy to volunteer. One look at the shy siren with big brown eyes and dangerous curves and Logan discovers that major parts of his anatomy are volunteering to assist and he doesn’t think Colton would approve.

That doesn’t stop him from sampling everything Sophie has to offer. Watching this young woman bravely fight through her shyness as she tries to reclaim a confidence eroded by years of body shaming from her family and peers is both a struggle and a joy to watch. Logan wants her to see herself as the sexy woman who makes his heart thunder. But just as they begin to make progress – and as Logan confronts the painful reality that he needs to change his corporate structure so he can spend more time with his family and with Sophie – it all threatens to fall apart when Sophie discovers that she’s been an assignment all along.

Lover Undercover (McCade Brothers #1 – Trevor and Kylie) by Samanthe Beck (Entangled Brazen, April 2013)

Sophie’s character is painfully shy yet you’d have to be born without a heart not to root for her as she attempts to reclaim her voice and make personal and professional changes that will benefit her. Logan is exactly what she needs and you understand why he decides not to tell her that Colton asked him to spend time with her even as you see the ax starting to fall. Logan is total sweetie (those McCades! *fans self*) who demands that Sophie take ownership for her personal and sexual desires, and who – unlike every other male in this series – understands the emotional foundation of a relationship needs to be based on trust, trust he demands from her even when he’s worried she can’t work through her issues and give it to him. Shout out for Beck doing such a phenomenal job on this novel’s epilogue as it manages to bring together the closure for all five books in the series in an amazing way. I was alternately choking up and grinning like a loon as I read those final pages of Logan’s proposal!

Honestly, this whole series has knocked my socks off, particularly as it manages to include almost every one of my favorite contemporary authors (Tonya Burrows and Jill Shalvis are the only two of my writing heroes missing). Considering the fantastic Entangled tradition of the $.99 price for new releases, fans are going to be able to purchase all five novels – 988 pages exactly – for under $5.00, less than a brand new trade paperback at your local bookstore that’s a third of the length (and probably half the quality of the writing contained in this series). It’s irrefutable math, people.

Many, many thanks to not only the above wonderful authors but the visionary editors at Entangled for bringing such an amazing group of writers together around a terrific concept. I hope this is not the last series they assemble as this one will undoubtably build even more of a fan base around these talented women.

Happy reading! 🙂

 

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

18 Apr

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

When this woman writes, she writes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading! 🙂

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!

Tessa Bailey Gives Readers Exactly What They Asked For in Her Latest Line of Duty Novel, Asking for Trouble

25 Nov
Asking for Trouble (Line of Duty #4 - Hayden and Brent) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, November 25, 2013)

Asking for Trouble (Line of Duty #4 – Hayden and Brent) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Brazen, November 25, 2013)

And what do readers ask for? For Tessa Bailey to live up to the other three amazing novels (and one follow-up novella) in this incredible series, and – being Tessa Bailey – she delivers in spades!

While you certainly do not need to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one, it does lend a certain depth of understanding since the other characters make appearances.

Former pool hustler Ruby and her detective boyfriend Troy from His Risk to Take, socialize with my favorite couple (and it’s a tough choice, let me tell you) Story and the oh-so-debauched explosives expert and reformed ladies man, Daniel (from Officer Off Limits). Readers of that book remember Story’s best friend and socialite Hayden Winstead, not just because she let Story borrow her youth size Mets jersey for a very scandalous picture, but because Hayden was so clearly unhappy with the pressures of her life. We also saw that Hayden had quite an antagonistic relationship with Daniel’s best friend and fellow explosives expert, Brent Mason, who regularly traded barbs with Hayden, needling her about her rich lifestyle.

At the start of Asking for Trouble, Hayden and Brent are suffering one another’s presence at their regular bar where they hang out with Story and Daniel as well as plenty of other cops (future heroes perhaps?). Hayden is irritated that Brent loves to focus on her money, only seeing her as a vapid socialite and Brent seems content to let Hayden believe he is just a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal full of nothing but bad jokes and sexual innuendo. When he pushes her a little too far with his usual sexual humor, she decides to call him on his bluff and tantalize him. Neither of them back down and before they know it, Brent is back at Hayden’s townhouse in a rather compromising position.

And so it begins. The two of them recognize an incredible chemistry exists between them and pray that a few full body hits will get it out of their system, but the best laid plans, etc. Brent goes to a snooty dinner to help piss off Hayden’s mother and ends up charming her father and all the guests (well, all but the one who wants Hayden). In one of the most tender scenes I’ve ever read, Brent rushes to help Hayden when she tells him the bus she’s on broke down on the highway, only to discover her in shorts and a t-shirt escorting a bunch of Hayden-adoring kids on a Fresh Air Fund outing. Brent doesn’t just help fix the bus, he walks Hayden through fixing it (boosting her with his legs so he can subtly ogle her butt, naturally) and makes her look like a hero to the kids she’s helping. I’m going to admit that I choked up.

Amidst all this growing understanding – Brent beginning to realize that there is a fiery, sexually insatiable, tender-hearted woman behind that cool exterior and Hayden waking up to the idea that behind Brent’s shield of humor lies a knight who works multiple jobs to help the family he adores – there is hot, Tessa Bailey sex, i.e., the best kind. Need a sample?

“I have a few more bad words for you. Would you like to hear them?”

“Yes.” The whispered word broke free before she could suppress it. Brent rewarded her by slowly grinding his hips into her, growling against her neck as she panted.

He brushed her hair aside with one hand and scraped his teeth down the side of her neck. “You made this fucking sound, Hayden. The first time you spread your legs to take my cock. I hear it everywhere I go. This goddamn… moan? Sob? I don’t know. All I know is if I don’t fuck that sound out of you again soon, I’m going to completely lose my mind.”

Bailey, Tessa (2013-11-25). Asking for Trouble (A Line of Duty Novel) (Entangled Brazen) (Kindle Locations 1560-1565). Entangled Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.
 

Awesome, right? Thank God it’s 20 degrees outside so I can crack the window to cool off. As delightful was the realization to both Hayden and Brent that the biting sarcasm they’d traded all these months actually hid a very similar sense of humor – the playful, pun-laden kind – and they weren’t above using it when they were naked. I loved how Brent got his nickname of Florence (not telling, you’ll have to read the book) and certainly the ongoing Beaches movie references were hilarious. Case in point:

“So… Beaches, huh?” Brent cleared his throat. “What is that, some kind of chick flick?” Of course, he’d seen Beaches. Bette Midler was a national treasure. He’d keep that to himself though, in the interest of her not questioning his masculinity.

Bailey, Tessa (2013-11-25). Asking for Trouble (A Line of Duty Novel) (Entangled Brazen) (Kindle Locations 1920-1922). Entangled Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.

In other words, Tessa Bailey’s Asking for Trouble has exactly what die-hard fans have come to expect. I don’t know why I’m still so overtaken by a faint sense of astonishment whenever I read her books. I know she’s going to give me hot sex, strong emotions and heroes and heroines I would spend the holidays with, yet I think deep down I worry she’s too good to be true, and I’m going to read a book that has me finally gesturing at some paragraph saying, “Ah, ha! You see, Tessa Bailey is clearly human! Look at how she mixed metaphors.” or some similar writing gaffe…but she never does. I’ll just have to live with her perfection and enjoy reading (and re-reading) her books. It’s hard to be me. 😉

Happy reading!

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of November 24, 2013

24 Nov

Upcoming Books and New Releases

Lots of good books both coming out this week as well as long awaited books with release dates announced.

I think Tessa Bailey is one of contemporary romance’s hottest new writers, so I’m excited to stay up until midnight tonight to watch the next book in her awesome Line of Duty series delivered to my Kindle (and write a review for you to be posted on Monday). We’ve already met the hero and heroine in the third book in the series, Officer Off Limits. Since Brent and Hayden’s two best friends are head over heels in love they can’t help seeing a lot of each other, even though each rubs the other the wrong way. Hayden’s got a host of trouble coming from her Park Avenue family who are looking to have her get married to a rich and influential man and the rough and tumble cop who pushes her buttons is also um…pushing her buttons. After a taste of each other, Brent is determined to not let go, but Hayden wonders how on earth this hot affair could have a happy ending?

Don’t you remember my telling you what a phenomenal author Laura Kaye is? Her latest, Hard As It Gets (OMG, the cover!), begins her Hard Ink series as of Tuesday, November 26th, so I’ll be staying up late for this delivery as well. This story, featuring a former military man turned tattoo parlor owner and the daughter of his military commander who has always been off limits, is bound to have her usual blend of heat, great characters, and an emotional story that wins your heart.

Fans of historical romance know that Sarah Maclean is one of the most talented writers of her genre, and they can finally sit back and enjoy her latest book, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, which will also be published on Tuesday, November 26th. Don’t forget to read (or re-read) the first two books in the Rules of Scoundrels series as this story, featuring the enigmatic club owner Temple, accused of murdering his young beautiful stepmother on the eve of her wedding to his father. The supposedly dead Mara has returned and what sets out to be Temple’s redemption and revenge becomes much more as he realizes that this woman and her situation is far from what he has imagined.

Bella Andre announced the latest in her Sullivan series, It Must Be Your Love, Mia Sullivan’s story. The Sullivan series is (I think) one of the best family contemporary romance series on the market, and the Northwest cousins are proving just as compelling as the original California Sullivans we all initially fell for. Successful realtor Mia Sullivan has been a huge support in her cousin and siblings’ romances, but it’s time for her to face the music – namely the man who she spent a few short days and nights with in his bed, and who she’s never been able to forget. Bumping into rock star Ford Vincent isn’t a shock at her cousin’s wedding, but there is an element of surprise when he seems interested in renewing their sexual relationship. Ford has never been able to forget Mia and despite the fact that he imagines she’s the one thing his fame can’t give him, he feels like he has to try.

It’s the holiday book season and that means there are some great deals on anthologies by terrific authors. A Christmas to Remember, due out on December 3rd, features stories by such contemporary best-sellers as Jill Shalvis, Kristen Ashley, Hope Ramsay, Molly Cannon, and Marilyn Pappano. If that’s not tempting enough, Forever Yours publishing has priced this puppy at only $1.99, so pick it up while you can at this price!

For fans of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet EvanovichTakedown Twenty, was published just a few days ago on November 19th, so get a hilarious dose of Lula and Bob (the golden retriever) right now. Get ready to imagine the next demise of a vehicle driven by Stephanie as she attempts to track down Morelli’s mobster godfather so he doesn’t have to, while also helping the oh-so-sexy Ranger determine who killed an important client’s mother. If you need to do some catching up (or want to fill in your collection of ebooks), you may want to note that several of the earlier books in the series are available for only $2.99 for the ebook editions.

Sophie Barnes‘ next book The Scandal in Kissing an Heir, her second installment in At the Kingsborough Ball series is coming out on December 31st. The next Marquess of Wolvington, Daniel Neville needs to find not only a bride but a woman who will accept his past and Lady Rebecca is tired of the men her greedy aunt and uncle send her way, men who only are interested in her beauty. Scandal threatens to tear these two apart, just when it seems they have the potential for something more.

Contests and Giveaways

Sara Humphreys‘ Amoveo Legends series is made up of a string of best-sellers, so I imagine fans are waiting with bated breath for the fifth book in the series, Unclaimed, to come out on December 3rd. When a spirited veternarian from the Timber Wolf clan reluctantly agrees to help doctor the Amoveo prince’s horses, she doesn’t expect the overwhelming attraction to a warrior from the Tiger Clan, but soon finds herself thrown together with him as they have to face danger together. Enter before November 30th to see if you can win a copy.

Talented debut author Kat Latham, of Knowing the Score fame, is having a Rafflecopter giveaway for not just her new Christmas story, contained in the All I’m Asking For Christmas anthology (pre-ordered!!), but also the other Carina Press contemporary holiday anthology, For My Own. Since I’ve yet to read a Carina anthology I haven’t enjoyed, these are both on my December reading (and reviewing) list, but winning them would make great gifts to the romance fiction lovers in my life. Enter before December 1st to see if you can’t win a copy and enjoy great writing with your holiday cheer.

The first in Lara Adrian‘s Midnight Breeds series, A Touch of Midnight, is currently a giveaway on Goodreads, so enter before November 30th for a chance to win. This 184 page novella jumpstarts the other thirteen books to date in the series by focusing on Savannah, a young college woman who can see the past of objects when she touches them. For a three-hundred year old vampire who must revisit painful memories of the past, Gideon finds himself needing Savannah to help him rid the world of a threat he didn’t even realize existed, even if it means shattering the world she knows. If you were smart enough to purchase The Midnight Breeds Series Companion this summer, then this novella is included within it, but otherwise, try to win or buy it on Amazon for only $2.99.

The Smutketeers & Friends (Jayne Rylon, Mari Carr, Carrie Ann Ryan, R. G. Alexander, Eden Bradley, Sidney Bristol, P. G. Forte, and Robin Rotham) have FINALLY released their long-awaited Midnight Ink box set, filled with erotic tales all centered around a New Orleans tattoo shop, and they are having a great $100 Amazon gift card giveaway to celebrate. Enter in the next week to see if you can win this wonderful prize and don’t forget to run to your nearest bookseller to buy the boxed set, which is currently only $.99 at Amazon for over 550 pages of hot romance.

Historical fiction fans light candles to Diana Gabaldon‘s image, as this author of the Outlander series has had thousands of readers fall for Claire and Jamie Fraser. In honor of the upcoming STARZ network release of Outlander as a series, two promotional copies are destined for a lucky winner of the Goodreads giveaway, so considering entering prior to November 30th if you are awaiting heartache, time-travel and kilts with baited breath.

I don’t know what it is about publishing during the holidays, but there always seems to be a few books which focus on the season and feature some adorable dogs and cats on the covers of these anthologies and stand-alones. Since my fur-covered family members are some of things in my life I’m most grateful for, these novels always hit home with me. Two such authors are Sharon Kleve and Jennifer Conner, who are currently hosting a blog tour contest where readers can enter to win copies of their books – Halo’s Wish, Brenda’s Christmas Desire, Central Bark at Christmas, and Christmas Gift that Keeps Wagging – as well as a $25 gift card, so take a look and see if someone small and furry is underneath your tree this Christmas. Head to any and all of the blogs on the tour before 11/30 for your chance to enter!

Elizabeth Hoyt’s tale of a fevered heir to an Earldom, returned from the dead, is the fourth in her Legend of the Four Soldiers series. To Desire a Devil pitches the savage man, demented from his captivity and the well-bred niece of the present (and highly suspicious Earl) as an unlikely couple, but historical romance readers can attempt to win a copy of this highly rated final book via the Goodreads giveaway closing on December 1st.

It’s always great to see historical romance that tackles a less-frequented period of time, so Bitter Spirits by paranormal/urban fantasy writer Jenn Bennett is worth a look for those readers who love the 1920s. Featuring a hexed bootlegger and a beautiful medium, this first installment in Bennett’s Roaring Twenties series is currently being offered in a Goodreads giveaway for people who enter before Saturday, November 30th. Considering this novel is not due to be published until early January 2014, this could be a great opportunity to get a preview, and the second novel, focusing on an archaeologist and museum curator looks to equally bring the period to life. Since the series is published by the Berkley Sensation line, I predict strong writing and hot love scenes to be contained within these covers. Bring it on!

Fun Stuff

I know you can tell I’ve got holiday books on the brain (I’m gearing up for my stretch where I try to review a holiday themed book for every day of December!) but I for one appreciated Harlequin’s adorable little video featuring some of their featured Christmas books for this year. You’ll definitely be seeing a few of these on this blog over the next few weeks (and who knew Gingerbread men as the various hero’s occupations would be so adorable?).

If you have a spare $1000 or so and love to show your book love via your shoes, I suggest you head straight to the Charlotte Olympia website and check out the Matilda shoes, part of the Fall 2013 collection. With stunning leather tooling covering the leather upper and a six inch heel (and one inch platform), the heels are designed to look like book spines, complete with the words “Once Upon a Time” and “Happily Ever After”. I think there are plenty of romance authors who would look great wearing these on the dais while answering panel questions!

Now that the weather is getting colder, women are interpreting “no shave November” with the advent of opaque tights, but you don’t have to settle for solid colors. Romantics and fashionistas (or fictionistas) alike can indulge their love of the written word by wearing Love Text Print Tights from TrendyLegs. For under $40, you can sport the wikipedia text for the definitions of “Love” and “Passion” around your thighs and calves (and think about who you might like to get closer and read it out loud to you)!

Great Deals

Historical fans might want to download Harlequin Historical’s An Inconvenient Duchess by Christine Merrill as it’s available for free right now. Featuring a young woman compromised and married to an enigmatic duke who then promptly abandons her, this heroine determines that she is going to make this marriage work, no matter what. The first in Merrill’s The Radwell’s series, this is a good way to sample this series.

His Wicked Games by Ember Casey (the first book in His Wicked Games series) is also available for free right now, and readers who enjoy fairy tale retellings will want to tackle this Beauty and the Beast inspired story. When a woman determined to save her arts center breaks into a cold billionaire’s estate, she gets way more than she bargained for, particularly regarding his wager on how she can save what she wants more than anything. The only problem? When what she wants begins to change…

Also currently free is Mari Carr and Lexxie Couper‘s Misplaced Princess, the first in their Foreign Affairs series about men or women who leave their country and find the love of their life. Annie Prince impetuously flew halfway around the world to Australia to meet in person a sexy cowboy she met online…only to find out he did the same thing and is now in NYC. Fortunately for her, his twin brother Hunter stayed behind, and while he thought his brother was crazy, one look at Annie and he’s finding it hard to keep his hands (and other body parts) off her.

That’s it for this week. Have a terrific Thanksgiving and happy reading!!

Despite a Major Production Gaffe, Entangled’s Unmasked Lovers Anthology Is Fantastic

25 Sep
Lovers Unmasked by Katee Robert, Cari Quinn, Samanthe Beck and Tessa Bailey (Entangled, September 23, 2013)

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

Unlike the many cranky reviewers of the world who do not like anthologies, I adore them. Not only do great short stories and novellas pop up from my favorite authors and series, but I’ve noticed that great authors tend to gravitate to one another (or are brought together by good editors) so I invariably find new authors to sate my insatiable need for more good books.

Just in time for October, when we begin thinking of disguises, Entangled Publishing has come out with a doozy of an anthology entitled Lovers Unmasked, and they have not stinted on lining up some heavy-hitting authors for this collection. I was so psyched that I pre-ordered this puppy as soon as I heard it was available. I mean, Cari Quinn and Tessa Bailey? Color me there.

Except there is a pretty big problem with this anthology. Namely, Cari Quinn’s story is not in it.

I wish I was joking. Originally, the pre-order version also listed Lauren Blakely, but her story for whatever reason got cut from the final version of the anthology, leaving us with four terrific authors – Katee Robert, Cari Quinn, Samanthe Beck, and Tessa Bailey. Okay, fine. I’ve never read anything of Lauren Blakely, so I can forgo her story. But I was really looking forward to all four stories.

And I only got three.

This anthology possesses three fantastic, totally wonderful novellas which are without question worth the bargain price of $3.79, but I absolutely LOVE Cari Quinn and really wanted her story of a schoolteacher who decides to seduce her best friend (“Tempted by His Best Friend”). Just in case I somehow missed it (?) I went through the table of contents and then leafed through every single page on my ereader. Twice. No Cari Quinn. I was also super irritated that the future books blurbs came after EVERY novella and were the same ones. Overkill people? Did these take up the pages meant to go to Quinn’s story? This sucks Entangled, seriously. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Entangled can do that Amazon update thing and notify us that a new version of the book can be downloaded if you’ve purchased it already.

While I gave it a good rating on Goodreads, I nevertheless expressed my frustration and my hope that I’d be getting an updated version of the book so I could read Quinn’s work, and what do you know, but she posted a response to my venting review! Take a look:

Goodreads screenshot

OMG, isn’t that nice? I don’t know if Cari Quinn was busy lurking on the Goodreads page and surfing Twitter for dissatisfied fans, but I immediately sent an email to Entangled just as she suggested. Way to rock the terrific PR, Cari! Sadly, it’s been a couple of days and still no Cari Quinn file. There isn’t even a note on the Amazon page for the book, nor the Entangled page (or their blog). Cari is doing the yeoman’s work of the PR on this gaffe. I hope she’s being paid extra for it.

Anyway, the three novellas I was able to enjoy are forehead-smackingly amazing, so let me tell you about them so you can still be tempted to go out and get this anthology. Each of the novellas are clearly related to another book, yet these talented authors have managed to write stories that stand alone (and leave you wanting the other book, but not because you have to read it to understand the plot of this novella). I’ve got several new books on my to-read list now!

“Seducing Mr. Wright” by Katee Robert

Two Wrongs, One Right (Come Undone #3 – Nathan and Chelsea) by Katee Robert (Entangled, August 12, 2013)

Danielle has been chatting up the mail guy in her building for a couple of months over twice weekly coffee get-togethers, meetings that have made Tuesdays and Thursdays her favorite days of the week. While she is usually stand-offish and noncommittal around men, Grayson has a way of seeing through her, with the result that she’s opened up to him more than anyone but her best girlfriend, Chelsea. He knows about her night school ambitions, her rough relationship with her domineering military father, and that she’s historically shied away from anything smacking of a “relationship.” With their office building hosting a Halloween party for all the businesses, Danielle feels this could be her chance to make a move on Grayson, even if she’s horribly worried that sex would change the friendship she’s come to value.

Chasing Mrs. Right (Come Undone #2 – Roxanne and Ian) by Katee Robert (Entangled, March 2013)

One look at Danielle in a skin-tight leather Catwoman suit and Grayson is ready to throw his good intentions out the window. He’s actually Grayson Harper, CEO of the major corporation on the top floor of the building (which he owns), and he planned on revealing that information to Danielle tonight. He adores this gorgeous woman who has never recognized him and has no idea of his wealth. At first he was just heady at the thought someone was judging him for himself and not his black Amex card, but as they grew to know each other over the last couple of months, Grayson began to realize that Danielle equated wealthy, successful men with her distant, pushy father who was rarely around, and then only to criticize Danielle and her decisions. He knows that she will probably run in the opposite direction when he tells her, so his end game is to blind her with pleasure to the point where she recognizes what could be between them and then spring his real identity on her. To say this woman is a little gun-shy is like saying a Howitzer is a small gun.

Wrong Bed, Right Guy (Come Undone #1 – Elle and Gabe) by Katee Robert (Entangled, July 2012)

Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans, right? Katee Robert is a FANTASTIC writer – just the kind of rich, emotional, H-O-T prose I love in a romance novel, and this novella (which feels longer based on how her writing is so tight that nothing feels left out) is fabulous. There are plenty of domination tones in the relationship but nothing super S&M; it’s more a matter of Grayson having a controlling personality sexually. He knows that Danielle is so feisty, her submission would be more about her trusting him enough to put herself and her pleasure in his hands which has has him utterly intoxicated. When he allows her to take the reins, it’s a real “aaawwww” moment that demonstrates how in love with her he really is. For Danielle, who has always been the one in control of her sexual encounters, it’s almost as if she doesn’t realize the depth of her feeling for Grayson as they are having a hot encounter in his office, but her body knows what’s going on. As her internal monologue states:

Who would have thought she’d feel most in control when submitting?

Probably one of the best parts of this novella is that it’s related to an extremely well-rated series, so when you are at the stage of feeling the sense of loss turning the final page of it, the good news is that you have the other books in Robert’s Come Undone series to turn to. If anything, having a few key references to Chelsea’s love story (she offers Danielle some much needed perspective) will have you ordering her book in the series, Two Wrongs, One Right (which is what I did!).

“Wicked Games” by Samanthe Beck

Lover Undercover (McCade Brothers #1 – Trevor and Kylie) by Samanthe Beck (Entangled, April 2013)

I had never read anything by Samanthe Beck before, but I was wowed by her ability to get me up to speed regarding characters and past events in this terrific novella. The heroine, Stacy Roberts, is the identical twin to Kylie, whose romance with hot cop Trevor McCade has been detailed in Lover Undercover, the first book in the McCade Brothers series. While Kylie is the “good twin,” Stacy has always been the bane of their hometown, a juvenile delinquent whose dreams of acting have come true, albeit with a stop along the way exotic dancing in a high-end gentlemen’s club for a couple of years.

While Kylie has found her happily-ever-after with her new fiancee, Stacy’s heart is broken. When she began getting letters threatening to out her stripper past to the press, she realized that she was endangering the reputation of her wonderful boyfriend, Ian Ford, Trevor’s partner. What is an upstanding cop and his nice middle-class family going to do with a stripper turned actress from the wrong side of the tracks? Since he had asked her to move in with him (not marry him) around that time, it seemed like a good excuse to cut and run before she changed her mind.

It’s been six weeks and Ian is pretty tired of playing the waiting game. Stacy is unbelievably sexy and he knows she loves him even if she can’t say the words. He understands her as well as her sister, realizing that everyone except her twin has always abandoned Stacy. He figured asking her to move in with him was a way of easing her into something more permanent. He’s only just realizing that his hands off approach while he lets her come to her senses could easily have been interpreted as backing off their relationship. When Trevor calls with the information that Stacy has gotten threatening letters and than she and Kylie are planning on going to their old strip club’s hot Halloween costume party (without bodyguards), Ian has got a makeshift costume as a cat burglar on before you can say “John Robie.”

This novella is super angsty and unbelievably hot (like habanero hot on the caliente scale) and the reader completely understands the pain both Ian and Stacy are going through. While it’s pretty easy to spot the villain, knowing who it is doesn’t make it any less scary as you wonder if Stacy is going to lose her chance to tell Ian that she loves him. May I compliment the talented Ms. Beck on a terrific epilogue? That was one of the most fun wedding scenes I’ve read it quite some time! Yes, I immediately went out and purchased Lover Undercover so I could get a close up of Kylie and Trevor’s journey to love. And Trevor has brothers? *fans self* Color me there!

“Protecting What’s Theirs” by Tessa Bailey

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

Business owner and girl from the rough side of the tracks Ginger Peet just got some startling news via pregnancy test. It’s not that she doesn’t understand how or when it happened – her boyfriend of nearly a year, Lt. Derek Tyler, has always made sure the mechanics of sex is at the forefront of both their minds in the most pleasurable way – and she remembers oh-so-well the moment in Florida that they went sans condom after she forgot her birth control pills back in Chicago. But this is a BIG life change, for both of them, and she’d only moved into his apartment a few months ago after Derek inched her gradually down the road to commitment. Having reservations about motherhood is pretty natural for a woman who had to raise herself and protect her younger sister from their prostitute and drug addict mother.

His Risk to Take (Line of Duty #2 – Troy and Ruby) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled, May 2013)

Derek loves and adores Ginger, so much that it overwhelms him at times, and while he wants nothing more than to go home and be with her (and in her) an informant just blew a case wide open. His department has a chance of nailing a criminal who not only is responsible for the death of some of his officers, but whose success in his next illegal business venture would mean countless lives lost if he took over more Chicago territory. When a fellow officer mentions that the kind of operation Derek is talking about is what in police parlance is called a “widow-maker”, Derek realizes that he must protect Ginger from the knowledge he’s doing this, and that means keeping his distance. That decision not only stops Ginger from sharing her news, but dredges up all the insecurity her love for him has kept at bay, with potentially disastrous results for them both.

Officer Off Limits (Line of Duty #3 – Daniel and Story) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled, June 2013)

Oh. My. God. I have been a gigantic fan of Tessa Bailey’s Line of Duty series from the get-go, ultimately impressed with her gritty, authentic voice and characters who are often smart, working class men and women who have defied the odds to make something of themselves. Derek and Ginger shocked me in the best possible way when I first read their story in Protecting What’s His.

Derek is a dominant with a capital D, not in the leather and chains way, but rather in the possessive, ordering, super-hot kind of way. While this could potentially make me as a reader run in the other direction, Bailey succeeds in making him empathetic as he communicates to Ginger how all the power rests in her hands. His almost relentless caring for Ginger and the way he accepts the ultimate responsibility for her happiness won me lock, stock and barrel, and that has not changed in the slightest with this gut-wrenchingly, wonderful novella. I had tears in my eyes at the end of it when they both realize what happened and contemplate what the loss of their relationship would have meant. So amazing. I cannot wait for the rest of this series!

I also cannot wait to read Cari Quinn’s story “Tempted by His Best Friend” and I’ll be happy to post a review when I finally get it. Until that time, do not let it’s absence prevent you from purchasing this amazing anthology. I was astonished at not only the quality of writing, but how each novella actually was well-developed to the point that it felt like a complete story – never rushed or ending abruptly as anthology stories can sometimes do.

Celebrate your putting up your Halloween decorations by running out and purchasing Lovers Unmasked for your ereader. You’ll be thankful you did!

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of July 28th

28 Jul

Upcoming Books

The latest book in the steampunk series The Ether Chronicles by Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso is due out on August 6th and Skies of Gold is already getting great reviews from ARC readers. At only $1.99 for over 350 pages, steampunk readers need to be asking themselves why they haven’t pre-ordered this one already.

Jaci Burton, the author of the wonderful Play-by-Play series, now has the next book on her roster available for pre-order. Hope Flames will be the first book in her new Hope series, with a pairing between a damaged veterinarian and a K-9 cop. With a release date of September 3rd, I’ve already got this one both pre-ordered and in my calendar. Love the German Shepherd on the cover!

lethal pursuit copyKaylea Cross now has the third book in her wonderful Bagram Special Ops series available for pre-order and Lethal Pursuit looks to be another hot pairing from this military suspense maven. Coming out on September 16th, Cross is not only talented but affordable, so I’ve already ordered my copy, considering it $3.03 well spent.

 

Fun Stuff

Quirk Books has put together a pretend collection of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Flavors based on popular books, and it’s hilarious. You’ll find yourself wishing you could settle down with the latest release and a pint of “Berry Potter and the Container of Secrets.”

Amanda at Vampire Book Club has put together a short list of her favorite urban fantasy and paranormal beach reads that’s worth checking out if you’re wondering what goes with sunblock and your big towel this summer.

Fabulous writer Cynthia Eden is knuckling down to write a holiday themed novella and is polling her readers as to whether they want a romantic suspense story or a paranormal one. Vote on her Facebook fan page with your preference!

Romance novels are feminist works. Not sure? Listen to the podcast at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books where Sarah Wendell interviews two sociologists, Dr. Joanna Gregson and Dr. Jen Lois embarking on a research project focusing on the interactions of romance readers and writers.

One of the best parts about reading category romance is how totally ludicrous it often is. A good writer will help you suspend that disbelief, at least enough for you to immerse yourself in the the dirty goodness that is category, but occasionally you stumble across a “whaa???” novel. For a laugh out loud parsing of the missable Enemies at the Altar, take a gander at guest blogger and Ph.D. candidate Jodi from Book Thingo’s hilarious analysis. Make sure you pee first.

Did you know that Amazon sells refurbished Kindles of all types? I shouldn’t be surprised (I got my Macbook through Apple’s refurbished site and it’s wonderful and a great deal), but this is a great way for someone to afford that Paperwhite or Fire they’ve been eyeing for a while.

Great Deals

Writers and publishers are not giving up on these amazing bundles of books for a pittance (so you know they are helping sales). Loving the CEO is a great collection of five novels by different authors, all with the theme of breaking down the barriers of a business tycoon and finding love. Over 1000 pages for only $.99 and you get a romance trope in several flavors. Yum.

The always brilliant Tessa Bailey is offering the third book in her Line of Duty series, Officer Off Limits, for only $.99! You do not need to have read the other books to appreciate every word of this one, so trot over and buy this author who I cannot get enough of.

Harlequin is offering a motherload of great deals on a ton of their ebooks with participating retailers, with authors like Maureen Child, Cindy Spencer Pape, and Michelle Willingham having free or heavily discounted titles available. All of their various lines are represented, so go to their Facebook page to drool over the titles and see if there’s anything there that floats your boat. I made a note of the ones I wanted and then hustled over to Amazon to “buy” them at zero dollars. I love books like that!

Another great romance trope is the “bodyguard” idea (even that sounds sexy) and there’s now a bundle of five books covering this corner of romantic suspense. Once again, $.99 is a great deal even if you just end up enjoying one or two of them, so if you are like me and enjoy the idea of an oh-so-hot guy whose job is to…um…guard your body, you might want to check this out.

If you read this blog, you are more than aware of my love for sports books, so an ebook that contains the first book in three different trilogies is a terrific way for me to sample some new authors of the genre. V. K. Sykes, Juliana Stone and Jennifer Lyons offer both male and female (!) sports protagonists in their ebook bundle Play Hard to fulfill my need for a little healthy competition. And yes, it’s only $.99 for 550 pages.

Have a super week reading!

Hot New Author Tessa Bailey Wows With Her Line of Duty Series

12 Jun

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

I love being a voracious reader but the hobby comes with a hidden cost, namely that you end up reading some horrible books in between the good ones. With this week filled with more than my fair share of two star books (which to me means that they are written in English, mostly grammatically correct and had promise, albeit that went unfulfilled), it was a relief to read the latest installment of Tessa Bailey’s Line of Duty series. Her books are four star all the way (rich characters, strong plot and conflict, hot sex scenes, and deftly written) and I realized I couldn’t keep her to myself any longer.

I stumbled across the first in her series, Protecting What’s His, about a month ago and was blown away by her writing, so much so that I immediately purchased the second book in the series, His Risk to Take. Wow. Gobbling that one up had me pre-ordering the third in the series, Officer Off Limits, which just came out on June 10th. The third book clinched it – Tessa Bailey has moved into my “will buy anything she writes” category!

In Protecting What’s His, we meet exhausted Chicago cop Derek Tyler, who has recently lost a good friend in the field. Exhausted and guilt ridden, he finds himself annoyed at two young women who appear to be moving in next door. He goes to tell them to pipe down already when he gets a good look. One is just a teenage girl with a unique sense of style, but the other…WOW. The body is a 10 and the face an 11 but what strikes him most of all is the fire in her eye when she tells him off for yelling at new neighbors, and in a sexy Southern accent no less.

Ginger Peet feels the heat between her and her annoying but sexy neighbor, but nothing can come of it. She pegs him as a cop long before he tells her his occupation and that alone means he’s off limits. After all, Ginger has stolen $50,000 cash from her n’er-do-well mother in order for Ginger and her teenage sister to start over in a big city and leave the violence and sordidness of their childhood behind. The last thing Ginger wants is to become like her mother, falling into bed with any guy who expresses an interest only to watch them disappear afterward. Not going to happen – even if she does have hot make out sessions with Officer Tall, Dark, and Yowza.

What struck me when I read Protecting What’s His was Bailey’s strong voice, which stands out in a field saturated with mediocre points of view. Ginger and Derek are both damaged, flawed characters, yet are drawn so empathetically that you immediately fall in love with both of them. I liked the idea of the female protagonist being from very humble beginnings and her sexual experience, combined with Derek’s need for utter dominance in the bedroom, made for a surprisingly hot combination. Ginger is inexperienced yet extremely smart and it gives her a vulnerability while never having her venture into naive territory. Derek’s possessiveness and dominance are just an extension of his personality and (thankfully) don’t go into the BDSM territory that is becoming so common it’s practically a trope in erotic romance (and P.S. publishing industry, I’m tired of it). Rich secondary characters like Ginger’s sister and a pervasive sense of humor (the Dolly Parton mannequin?) make this book a winner in every respect.

His Risk to Take (Line of Duty #2 – Troy and Ruby) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Publishing, May 2013)

In Bailey’s second book, His Risk to Take, we see one of Derek’s coworkers, Troy Bennett, who has also been torn apart by the death of his partner, so much so that he decides to leave the Windy City for a position in the NYPD. He’s working on busting some organized crime players which is demanding work, all the while congratulating himself that he’s not attached to anyone. Troy never wants to feel that sense of loss again, so better to cultivate the lone wolf lifestyle.

Or at least that’s what he thinks until a stunning woman walks into the pub where Troy and his buddies are having a drink and all bets are off. Watching her successfully hustle a bunch of arrogant guys just makes him want to know more about her and it’s clear that she feels the heat between them as well. Now he just has to figure out how to get her home and into his bed.

Ruby Elliott personifies the lone wolf, so she has no expectations of Troy beyond her reckless decision to have a one night stand with him…and that one night just keeps going. She was taught to hustle pool from an obscenely early age and is used to danger, but Troy’s relentless pursuit is breaking down barriers she can’t afford to lower. When she finds out that there’s a connection between his investigation and some old friends of hers, she can’t help him without betraying the code she’s been raised with.

Troy and Ruby are fabulous characters and the vivid Brooklyn landscape well drawn by Bailey, who lives in the borough. I loved that Ruby’s real love was making custom pool cues; she hustled to survive but clearly had an artist’s heart for the love of her craft. Troy’s pursuit of her toward the end of the book, when Ruby doesn’t think she’s going to give him another chance, was so bittersweet and heartwarming, you can’t help but chant, “Let him, Ruby!”

Officer Off Limits (Line of Duty #3 – Daniel and Story) by Tessa Bailey (Entangled Publishing, June 10, 2013)

Staying in NYC for the third book in the series, Officer Off Limits, Bailey focuses on Daniel Chase, a hostage negotiator taught by one of the best. His mentor, Jack Brooks, is lying in a hospital bed at the moment and Daniel realizes that he’s next in line in terms of experience. Going out to flirt with the nurse on duty, he spies an image that makes his heart stop – a gorgeous creature in a short skirt and tank top with curves to die for attempting to make a choice from a vending machine. He’s astonished and secretly delighted when she playfully shoots him down; he loves a challenge and getting this beauty into bed will be a great one. The rug is ripped out from under his feet however when she turns into Jack’s hospital room…because this is his estranged daughter from California, Story, someone who Jack makes clear is completely off limits.

Story has no desire to be another notch in this playboy’s belt and the truth is it was a relief to be called to her father’s bedside. Story’s fiancee had just broken off their engagement a mere two weeks before the wedding was to take place and this kindergarten teacher feels that some wound-licking is what the doctor ordered. That her best friend happens to be a highbrow socialite living in Manhattan makes the two weeks of staying in her dad’s apartment while visiting him in the hospital that much sweeter. Daniel proves more compelling than she could ever imagine, but how she can be experiencing real feelings for someone when she just broke up with man she supposedly loved enough to marry?

Officer Off Limits is a fantastic third book in this series. Daniel is someone who has drowned the demons of his rough childhood in both his work as a hostage negotiator and in women, but seeing how special Story is makes him want to be worthy of her. She brings out a nobility he didn’t know he had, while demonstrating to him how meaningless the sex he’s been having up to this point has been. Watching Daniel wrestle with his feelings for Story, while also watching her realize that she means more to him than just a fling, is funny and poignant, with the sex scenes out of this world hot (in the car at the end of the Mets game? OMG!!).

Tessa Bailey doesn’t have a lot on her bio page on her website, but it’s clear that she is a talent in the world of romance. That she emerged from the Entangled Publishing house is unsurprising considering their editors have a nose for finding outstanding writers. Kudos to both the author and publisher for putting out these books rapid fire within the space of a few months – it’s certainly clinched my loyalty. With hints dropped regarding sparks between Daniel’s cop friends and Story’s best friend, I for one look forward to the next book in the series!

[October 2013: check out the follow up novella to Protecting What’s His in the Lovers Unmasked anthology for more Derek and Ginger!]

[November 2013: Asking for Trouble is the latest amazing addition to this series – check out the review and see if you don’t agree.]

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