Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Follow Numero Uno!

Hola bambinas!
I am going to try to start something new on Fridays and participate in the Feature and Follow with Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  This Friday Follow is a meme hosted weekly by the aforementioned bloggers that is designed to find new blogs, followers and friends.  And face it, the more bambinas the better!  So join me on  Bambi's innaugural Friday Follow and let's get to know each other a little better.

Please follow via one or more of the following methods:

This Week’s Question

If you could get an ARC of any book, already published, or not yet, what would it be? 

Answer

Man, this is a tough one.  There are several books that I have seen lately that I would like to get ARCs of.  However, one book immediately popped to mind, so I'm going with this one.  I have heard great things about this book lately, and the cover is so different and unique that it stands out when you are scrolling through the half-naked covers typical of other books in this subgenre.  Has anyone read it?  If so, what did you think?

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!

Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level headed good girl, has been in na├»ve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang.

Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-headed heart is she willing to risk?

Series Description:
Everyone in Green Valley, Tennessee knows that the six bearded Winston brothers have been imbued with an unfair share of charm and charisma… and are prone to mischief.

Truth or Beard is book #1 in the Winston Brother’s series. Each book is a standalone, full length (120k words), contemporary romantic comedy novel, and follows the romantic exploits and adventures of one of the six Winston Brothers. 




New Release: Caged Magic by Jennifer Lyon

Caged Magic
by Jennifer Lyon
Series:  Wing Slayer Hunters #5
Pub. Date:  July 20, 2015
Publisher:  Self-Pub
Genre:  Fantasy-Paranormal
Pages:  400
   

Risa Faden is a witch whose ultra-powerful shield magic is slowly breaking her mind. But when her beloved goddaughter is snatched by a demon, she’ll risk anything to rescue the baby—including lying to the handsome, intriguing stranger who has the power to help her keep her sanity, save the child…and steal her heart.

Linc Dillinger is a Wing Slayer Hunter whose sexy, rich, bad-boy charm hides a treacherous betrayal that left him emotionally scarred. As a result he risks his life to protect innocents, but is incapable of love—until he meets a beautiful witch who can save his cursed soul. Risa’s fierce courage and loyalty reaches past his barriers and he begins to believe she has the magic to free his caged heart.

But Risa’s lie explodes into dark danger that forces Linc into a hellish high-stakes gamble: He must either win the witch he loves and her godchild…or endure a loss that will destroy them all. 

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About the Author


Jennifer Lyon, who also writes as Jennifer Apodaca, lives in Southern California where she continually plots ways to convince her husband that they should get a dog. After all, they met at the dog pound, fell in love, married and had three wonderful sons. So far, however, she has failed in her doggy endeavor. She consoles herself by pouring her passion into writing books. To date, Jen has published more than fifteen books and novellas, including a fun and sexy mystery series and a variety of contemporary romances under the name Jennifer Apodaca. As Jennifer Lyon she created a dark, sizzling paranormal series, and The Plus Once Chronicles, an emotionally sensual adult contemporary series. Jen’s won numerous awards and had her books translated into multiple languages, but she still hasn’t come up with a way to persuade her husband that they need a dog.


Giveaway

Open to US, CAN, UK
(1) grand prize $50.00 electronic gift card (Amazon or B&N)
(2) runner up winners of one $25.00 electronic gift card each (Amazon or B&N)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: A Haunting Desire by Julie Mulhern

A Haunting Desire 
by Julie Mulhern
Pub. Date:  July 28, 2015
Publisher:  Entangled Select
Pages:  286
Format:  eARC
Source:  Netgalley / Publisher
   


My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Murder in the streets. And passion in the shadows...
New Orleans, 1902
A killer walks the streets of New Orleans, eviscerating men and leaving them in the streets, and for madam Trula Boudreaux, it's bad for business. Trula needs help but she's not prepared for Zeke Barnes, the charming would-be savior who darkens her doorway-or the yearning he awakens. For while Trula knows well the delights of lust, she avoids love at all costs...
Investigating the killer was one thing, but Zeke can't help but be enchanted by the gorgeous mystery woman who runs an exclusive brothel. Caught between his duty to protect the city and his clear-as-day desire for Trula, Zeke sets about capturing Trula's heart-or at least a place in her bed. But with every moment Trula resists, Zeke falls into greater danger.
For his investigation into the haunted city and madam doesn't just risk his heart but both their lives.
I absolutely loved this book, the setting, the time period, the legends/mythology, all of it. I think that residents/natives/fans of New Orleans will enjoy it as well. For those who are not as familiar with New Orleans and its history, you may not feel as connected to the story. But you should be. We have such an interesting history here, that its worth some research to learn about Storyville, voodoo, Marie Laveau, etc.
The book is set in the early 20th century in Storyville, which was historically the city's red light district. Our heroine is Trula Boudreaux, a madam of the most prestigious brothel in Storyville. While Trula is considerd the most beautiful woman in the city, she is also a tortured heroine from a long line of courtesans who was forced into the life as a girl. I really liked Trula, she had a huge heart and tried to do the right thing and be a good person. She took in strays of all kinds and made life better for those less fortunate. And even though she was a madam, she protected her girls and treated them well. Unfortunately their livelihood is being threatened by a long string of gruesome murders happening in the district. This is how our hero comes into the picture, Zeke Barnes, an investigator of the occult.

Zeke is the tall dark and handsome stranger who inspires lust in Trula for the very first time. He is just as drawn to Trula as she is to him. I did not have as strong of a connection to Zeke - I felt like we didn't know much about him except for what we learned about Bess. Zeke was extremely conflicted about his feelings and future, which lead to him treating Trula as a lesser person sometimes. I hated that he was blind to the effect his careless statements had on her. He also needed to do a little more to redeem himself in my eyes as well.

The mystery that played second fiddle to the romance was interesting and factored in the city's voodoo legends. This aspect of New Orleans history is so interesting that I would have liked to see a little more focus on the voodoo and ghosts, but it was still intriguing and kept me guessing. I didn't guess the killer's identity until almost the very end. The author did a great job bringing the demi-monde to life in Storyville, and the touches of voodoo that were present were spot on from what I have learned while living in New Orleans. I was actually surprised that the author was not a Nola native herself!

I received an advanced copy of this book from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review. 

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About the Author


Julie Mulhern is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean—and she’s got an active imagination. Truth is—she’s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions. She is a 2014 Golden Heart® Finalist. The Deep End is her first mystery and is the winner of The Sheila Award. 

Review: Heroes are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Heroes Are My Weakness 
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Release Date:  September 28, 2015
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Pages:  547
Format:  eARC
Source:  Publisher

   

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:


The dead of winter.

An isolated island off the coast of Maine.

A man.

A woman.

A sinister house looming over the sea ...

He's a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She's a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids' puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.

But she's not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they're trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.

It's going to be a long, hot winter.


This is a modern day gothic romance set in the midst of winter on an island off the coast of Maine. Being an introvert, the idea of living on somewhat isolated island intrigues me, until you realize the issues you face ordering groceries, a lack of medical care, etc. So this book may have cured me of that little inkling of interest. I absolutely loved the old gothic novel though, I could totally picture the dark and gloomy monstrosity in my head.

The heroine in this story, Annie, was definitely unique. I have never read a heroine who was a ventriloquist. While I admired Annie's ability to connect with children through her puppets, the fact that the puppets were always talking in her head creeped me out a little. Though I did get a chuckle out of the ways she needled Theo with her creepy ghost moans.

I wasn't sure how Theo was going to turn out as a hero... especially when we learned about the things Annie endured while growing up with the twins on the island. He was totally redeemed for me though and I ended really liking him a lot, more so than Annie. In fact, once I was on Team Theo, I tended to get aggravated at Annie for the way she was behaving.

This book is a little more than just contemporary romance - there is also an element of mystery as it becomes apparent pretty quickly that someone does not want Annie on the island. This aspect of the plot was well done, I did not have an inkling of the real culprit until almost the final reveal.

I received an free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is my first read by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but I think I will definitely read more. I like that she is writing outside of the new adult genre so you don't have all the drama and angst to deal with. 

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Surprise SEP Prize Pack



Susan Elizabeth Phillips soars onto the New York Times bestseller list with every new publication. She’s the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Favorite Book of the Year Award. Susan delights fans by touching hearts as well as funny bones with her wonderfully whimsical and modern fairy tales. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is also a wife, and mother of two grown sons.


Excerpt

Instead of kitchen cabinets, rough shelves held stoneware bowls and crocks. Tall, freestanding dark wood cupboards rose on each side of a dull black industrial-size AGA stove. A stone farmhouse sink held a messy stack of dirty dishes. Copper stockpots and saucepans¾not shiny and polished, but dented and worn¾hung above a long, scarred wooden prep table designed to chop off chicken heads, butcher mutton chops, or whip up a syllabub for his lordship’s dinner.
The kitchen had to be a renovation, but what kind of renovation regressed two centuries. And why?
Run! Crumpet shrieked. Something’s very wrong here!
Whenever Crumpet got hysterical, Annie counted on Dilly’s no-nonsense manner to provide perspective, but Dilly remained silent, and not even Scamp could come up with a wisecrack.
“Mr. Shaw?” Annie’s voice lacked its normal powers of projection.
When there was no reply, she moved deeper into the kitchen, leaving wet tracks on the stone floor. But no way was she taking off her boots. If she had to run, she wasn’t doing it in socks. “Will?”
Not a sound.
She passed the pantry, crossed a narrow back hallway, detoured around the dining room, and stepped through the arched entry into the foyer. Only the dimmest gray light penetrated the six square panes above the front door. The heavy mahogany staircase still led to a landing with a murky stained-glass window, but the staircase carpet was now a depressing maroon instead of the multicolored floral from the past. The furniture bore a dusty film, and a cobweb hung in the corner. The walls had been paneled over in heavy, dark wood, and the seascape paintings had been replaced with gloomy oil portraits of prosperous men and women in nineteenth-century dress, none of whom could possibly have been Elliott Harp’s Irish peasant ancestors. All that was missing to make the entryway even more depressing was a suit of armor and a stuffed raven.
She heard footsteps above her and moved closer to the staircase. “Mr. Shaw? It’s Annie Hewitt. The door was open, so I let myself in.” She looked up. “I’m going to need¾” The words died on her tongue.
The master of the house stood at the top of the stairs.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue by Sophie Jordan

All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue
by Sophie Jordan
Series:  The Debutante Files #2
Pub. Date:  July 28, 2015
Publisher:  Avon
Pages:  384
Format:  eARC
Source:  Avon / Edelweiss
   


My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:


There was once a lady who loathed a lord... 

Lady Aurelia hasn't always hated Max, Viscount Camden, her brother's best friend. In fact, as a besotted girl, she thrived under his kind attention – sure that he was the most noble and handsome man in the land. Until her young heart discovered what manner of rogue he really was. Now, though she enjoys nothing more than getting on his last nerve, she can’t deny Max drives her to distraction—even if she tries to pretend otherwise.

...and a lord who was confounded by a lady. 

Max cannot recall a time when Aurelia did not vex him. If she was not his friend’s sister, he would stay far away from the infuriating vixen. Unfortunately, they are always thrown together. At parties and family gatherings…she is always there. Infuriating him, tossing punch in his face, driving him mad...until one night, she goes too far and he retaliates in the only way he can: with a kiss that changes everything. 


This is the first book that I have read by Sophie Jordan, and I have to say that I am an instant fan! I didn't even mind that I was not starting this series at the beginning. I didn't feel lost at all, so if you haven't read the earlier books, don't worry, I think you will be fine.

I am not usually a fan of animosity between the love interests in books, and there was a lot of animosity between Aurelia and Max. It started with Aurelia's tender young heart being broken an only escalated from there. And they certainly could get nasty with one another. It didn't bother me as much in this historical though, whereas if it was a new adult contemporary romance, I probably would have abandoned the book at some point.

I really liked Aurelia - and I can't really articulate why. I just clicked with her for some reason. I even found myself getting weepy a lot in this book - which surprised me because its not an overly emotional story. But that's a sign that I'm hooked and invested in the characters, so I'm not gonna complain. I also liked Max, but I wanted to shake him a lot. He was a bit of an insensitive ass at times, particularly with his cutting remarks to Aurelia in front of that vile widow whats-her-face. But Max was afraid to love because of what happened to his parents - so it just took him a little longer to come around. Luckily he did before it was too late.

I think I am glad that I started the series with this book because I think Aurelia and Max as characters seem a bit more interesting that Will, Violet, Dec and Rosalie. But, who knows, I may feel different once I can go back and read those books.

Overall this was a nice little historical romance that I enjoyed spending the afternoon with. I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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The Debutante Files