Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review and Blog Tour: Josette by Kathleen Bittner Roth

by Kathleen Bittner Roth
Series:  When Hearts Dare #3
Pub. Date:  Sept. 29, 2015
Publisher:  Zebra
Pages:  448
Format:  eARC
Source:  NetGalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

"Monsieur Andrews, welcome to my home."

At the smoky, velvet sound, Cameron swung around. Every function in his body—heart, breath, blood ceased to function.  

She was lovely. More than lovely. Tendrils of raven hair framed a face so exquisite, it disarmed him. Her mouth, a soft, dewy pink, parted. And those eyes, as dark as Creole coffee, intelligent and assessing, roamed over him and then back to take hold of his. 

He needed to step closer, to stroke her skin. To possess her. But would his wealth and worldly experience be a match for the free-spirited Cajun-born widow?  

Across the oceans, between worlds old and new—two lost souls find themselves at a crossroads.

This story is set in the mid-19th Century in New Orleans... if I had a time machine, this is one of the times/places I would want to visit. Living in New Orleans, I love reading stories set here, particularly the historicals that are somewhat accurate and give a lot of the city's history. It would be awesome to go back to the time when Antoine's was still new, voodoo wasn't a tourist attraction, and the Cajun patios was abundant. Kudos to this author for doing her research and injecting so much of New Orleans' popular history into this story. Even the slow pace of the story was reminiscent of way of life here (this becomes readily apparent if you ever try to stay within your lunch "hour" at one of the popular restaurants in the Quarter!).

Cameron Andrews is part of the Andrews shipping magnate, and is stunned to learn that many years ago he fathered a daughter... who stowed aboard one of his ships to find him. Alexia was quite the character, always into mischief in a misguided effort to garner attention. I loved Cameron's character. He is grieving the passing of his wife and child and seems to be drifting through life lost. Alexia comes along and forces him into a situation that is sure to shake things up.

Alexia's aunt, Josette, is a creole beauty who married well and is now a widow living in a huge mansion in the Garden District. I had a great picture of Josette in my head, as this stoic beauty in her stately mansion, getting bullied and gossiped about around town for daring to better her circumstances and get out of the swamp.

Josette has loved Cameron since she was a child when he didn't know she was alive. She is standoffish with him now as she fears having her heart broken. Likewise Cameron is still overwrought with grief from losing his wife, and is not quite ready to let her go. So there was a lot of push and pull between the two as they fought their attraction.

I liked this story quite a bit, and didn't feel lost for not having read the first two installments of the series. I did feel that "Nawlins" was a bit overused at times, but the other cultural and historical aspects were well done and seemingly accurate from what I know of the city. This is a good read for people who like those slow southern historicals that really gets into the everyday lives of the characters. 

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

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Born in Minnesota, Kathleen Bittner Roth has lived all over the U.S.: Idaho, Washington, California, Texas and New York. Currently, she resides in Budapest, Hungary, often called the Paris of the East. Kathleen has won countless awards for her writing, including finaling in RWA's prestigious Golden Heart contest. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America, including the Hearts Through History chapter and has been a contributing editor for an online romance magazine as well as writing and producing successful seminars and meditation CDs.

You can learn more about Kathleen and her books at

“Mr. Andrews!” Joshua Cooper, carpetbag in hand, stepped smartly off the ship, but when his feet hit the deck, he weaved from side to side like a drunken sailor.
            Cameron chuckled. “Still got your sea legs, I see.”
            Cooper managed to stick out his hand and, with a grin, grasped Cameron’s and pumped it up and down. “Much as I love the sea, and everything about the shipping business, sir, I still end up thinking I’m afloat for a good three or four days after we’ve docked.”
            He glanced around at the gray clapboard buildings lining the bayside wharf and at others branching out behind and along narrow streets. “Isn’t this a sight different from New Orleans?” His eyes narrowed at the new clouds forming overhead. “Not to mention the cooler weather.”
            “It takes time, but you’ll get used to it. Whatever the conditions are at the moment, they can change fast. You’ll soon learn to carry an umbrella with you as a matter of course.” Cameron gave a nod toward a large white building emblazoned with a green roof to his left. “That’s the Morgan Hotel. Go ahead and get yourself settled in. We’ll meet over dinner there and discuss permanent lodgings for you.”
            “Thank you, sir. Until this evening, then.” Cooper trotted down the street.
            Cameron folded his arms over his chest and turned to the boy standing beside him. He stared at the top of a capcovered head. “What’s your name?”
            With the way he cast his eyes to his boots and scuffed a toe against the dock, Cameron would bet the scamp was lying. “Straighten up and look me in the eye, boy. How old are you?”
            The lad lifted his head and, with a cocky attitude that nearly made Cameron laugh, folded his arms across his chest, arrogantly mirroring Cameron’s stance. “Old ’nuff.”
            “Is that so?” What the devil was he supposed to do with this ne’er-do-well until the clipper destined for New Orleans set sail? He surveyed Alex, from his threadbare clothing, to his worn shoes, which appeared a few sizes too large. A shaft of compassion shot through him. “Were you looking for a little adventure? Is that what made you stow away? Or was the law after you?”
            “Non.” “Were you running away from someone who mistreated you?”
            “Non.” Alex assessed Cameron in the exact same manner as he’d been surveyed, slow and easy. Completing his mock appraisal, his gaze settled back on Cameron’s, where it held steady. A smirk curled one corner of his mouth. “I had a fair good reason for hoppin’ aboard your fine vessel asides finding me a good time.”
            He spoke in that lyrical Cajun French that made even the most evil of epithets roll off a tongue like a sweet lullaby. Unease spread through Cameron. Was he in charge or had the boy just taken over? Wily little thing.
            “Since my stomach is playing fiddle with my backbone, the sooner you tell me why you stowed on one of my ships without a never-you-mind, the sooner I can get a meal. Are you hungry?”
            “Oui. I could use me a bite.”
            He’d have to take Alex to the public baths before they’d dare venture into the hotel. “Not until you wash away that stink and get into some clean clothes. There’s a mercantile down the street where we can pick up a change of clothing. And then you can bloody well have a bath before eating. Got any money?”
            That smirk again. “Non, but you fair do.”
            Cameron grunted. “Brilliant. After a free trip halfway around the world, you expect me to supply you with clothing as well?”
            “Sumpin’ like dat.”
            Bloody hell, he couldn’t just leave a lad this far from home to wander. “Is San Francisco where you intended to land?”
            “So what was your purpose in coming here?”
            Alex grinned, flashing a set of fine white teeth, but the look in his eye turned flinty. “I came lookin’ for my papa.” The boy rocked back on his heels, his arms still crossed over his chest. “And it looks like I done found you.”
            “Me?” A bark of laughter left Cameron’s throat. He peered into sharp, amber eyes fringed top and bottom with dark lashes. A chill snaked through him. If he looked in the mirror, he’d see the same damn thing. But that was impossible.
            “You’re coming with me.” He dug his fingers into the boy’s dirty jacket and headed him toward the mercantile. “Davey, I’m off to lunch. Tell the captain I’ll see him and Cooper at eight, over dinner at the Morgan.”
            “Aye,” Davey called back.

When Hearts Dare Series

Monday, September 28, 2015

Review and Blog Tour: Nowhere to Hide by Lindsay McKenna

Nowhere to Hide 
by Lindsay McKenna
Series:  Delos #1
Pub. Date:  Oct. 13, 2015
Publisher:  Blue Turtle Publishing
Pages:  278
Format:  eARC
Source:  Author

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Lia Cassidy left the Army scarred physically and emotionally after a vicious attack by two fellow soldiers. She turns to helping others, working at a Delos Home School Charity in Costa Rica that aids abused women and children. But when the deadly drug lord, La Arana, attacks the school, Lia finds herself on the run for her life. The only person she can trust is the ex-SEAL sent to protect her. 

Cav Jordan is strong, honorable and gorgeous…and intrigued by Lia. He knows she has suffered pain in her past, and he is determined to break through her barriers and earn her trust. But as Cav slowly chips away at the walls Lia has built, ghosts from her past threaten to destroy their fragile relationship.
This is the first installment of Lindsay McKenna's new Delos series, which will be centered around Artemis Security, a personal security division of the huge Delos charity conglomerate. You will want to know who the players are with the Delos charity and Artemis alike, so I encourage you to at least read the Author's Note, but you can get more background by reading the prequel, Last Chance.

Lia Cassidy is a tortured heroine, self-conscious about being disfigured after a brutal attack that occurred when she was in the Army. Lia has just been through another harrowing attack ordered by the local drug lord, and Delos arranges for her to have personal security in the form of Cav Jordan. Cav is also a tortured hero, having grown up with an abusive drug-addicted father. This couple is drawn to one another from the first meeting, and there's nothing like danger to bring a couple closer together. Dilara and Robert, founders of Delos, fancy themselves matchmakers and have handpicked Cav to take care of Lia and bring her out of her shell. Their romance was very much a slow burn as both had to get over past hurts and learn to trust another person in a romantic situation.

I thought the suspense in this book (and in Last Chance) was done quite well. The situation with the drug lord didn't require you to suspend your belief, and all of the events seemed within the realm of possibility. I would have actually liked for the suspense/action to continue longer than it did because the story became much more slow-paced for the last quarter and I missed the adrenaline spikes.

The book was very dialogue-driven so I felt there was more telling than showing, if that makes sense. I think it would have been a good candidate for an alternating first-person POV instead of the third-person POV that we have. But that is a personal preference for me - I love to get in the characters heads. I did like reading about the spelunking - it has me wanting to go find some caves around me. But being as we are below sea-level here, that might not be the smartest idea.

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

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Lindsay McKenna lives her life as a risk taker, and it shines through the books she loves to write: romance, adventure and suspense. She started writing at age thirteen and continues to hone her writing skills to this day. She sold her first romance novel in 1981. The rest is history.
Because she went into the military, this experience became the backbone of her writing—she is credited with writing the first military romance novel (Captive of Fate, 1983, Silhouette Special Edition) and has created a thriving sub-genre within the romance field! As a New York Times Best Selling author, she has sold 23 million books and in 32 foreign languages in her career thus far. Her many experiences in the U.S. Navy are backdrop for her understanding of the military in general, and also her very successful Morgan’s Mercenaries, which is an ongoing series in Silhouette to this day! Forty-five books strong!
Lindsay has gone Indie in 2015 and has created a new family saga on par with Morgan’s Mercenaries It is known as the DELOS SERIES. There will be paperback and eBooks created under Blue Turtle Publishing, her company for her fans. Readers who love Morgan and his family are bound to fall in love with the Culver family. Delos is romantic suspense, which Lindsay is well known for. It took her five years to create and bring DELOS to her readers. It was worth the wait, but we’ll let you decide that.
Lindsay loves to hear from her readers and loves to know what they’d like to see her write next. Stay up with the latest on the Delos Series here. Please visit her Web site at And be sure to sign up for her free quarterly newsletter. It contains exclusive content found nowhere else on the Net. Plus, giveaways and other surprises, to her loyal and faithful subscribers!

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When Dilara placed Lias hand on the yet-to-be-introduced man with the thoughtful hazel eyes, she felt her heart beat a little faster. She knew he was military, even though he wore civilian clothes. His training almost dripped off him; she could see it in his sharp glance and his effort to appear casual, but she wasnt fooled—she could feel the tension radiating from him.
“This is Cavanaugh Jordan,” Dilara said, patting his broad shoulder. “Because Robert and I want you safe, we called in a security contractor whos already worked for Robert—several times, in fact, on different missions. We hired Cav to be your bodyguard for now, Lia. Neither of us feels youre safe at La Fortuna right now, and until we can figure out whats going on and know youll be safe again, Cav will be at your side like a shadow.”
Lia lifted her head and met Cals flat, emotionless stare. “Oh,” was all she managed. Then, turning to Dilara, “But Ive never had a security detail before.”
“You will now,” Robert said. “Were not losing you, too.”
Lia felt her heart speed up. The man sitting across from her gave nothing away, and yet she could sense his reaction to her. Automatically, she touched her scar on her cheek, then looked away from him and forced herself to focus on Robert, who was looking grim.
“The police said they sent you their investigation reports, sir?” Cav spoke up now.
“Yes,” Robert said, pointing at the Majors laptop. “We have everything on their ongoing investigation. But we want boots on the ground Intel, which,” looking now at Lia, “only you can provide us.”
Lia knew she would be driving down to San José to give them an eyewitness report. But why five days after it happened? She still felt like ground meat exposed to air, and could barely check her own emotions.
“Where do you want me to start?” she asked the general.
“Most important is why did it happen,” Robert said. “Do you have any ideas?”

I think I do, sir, but I cant prove it. Ive already told my suspicions to the Costa Rican police detectives. She opened her hands. Dante Medina, La Araña, is the regional drug lord in the northern highlands. He has a villa near La Fortuna, up in the jungle. The Spider is a regional drug lord. He and his men grow marijuana and cocaine in the jungle. Hes married to a woman named Suelo, whos about twenty-eight. They have three sonstwo, four, and eight, and he keeps two mistresses at a villa in La Fortuna, Pilar, seventeen, and Marta, fifteen. These girls are sex slaves, closely guarded by his soldiers at the La Fortuna villa. Lias voice dropped into a painful whisper. His third mistress, Lupe Zavala, eighteen, escaped and ran to us for help, which we gave her. She flew out of the country and back to her country, Guatemala.

Lia forced herself to look at the General. “Lupe came to us five days earlier than the attack. She begged Maria Gonzalez and Sophia Casales, the teachers, to take her in. I wasnt there at the time, but when I returned from my errands the teachers had taken Lupe in. She was a mess, terribly beaten up, and the teachers cared for her in their homes. I went and got the doctor from Tabacon Resort, who was kind enough to come and care for Lupe.”
“Had this happened before?” Robert asked.
Lia shook her head, keeping her hand covering her left cheek. She could feel the security contractors gaze, like heat, on her face and inwardly, she cringed, knowing that he must be disgusted, like every other stranger who first saw her face. “No. Oh, wed run into Lupe and the other two mistresses at the grocery store in La Fortuna, but they always had a guard with them, so we never really stopped to talk to them.” Grimacing, Lia added, “All three of us knew that these women were prisoners at Medinas villa. I mean, it was local common knowledge.”
“Why werent the police called long before this happened?” Dilara asked.
Lia looked up at her. “Because everyone is deathly afraid of Medina, Dilara. You dont know how dangerous he is. Hes killed before, and he wont hesitate to get his revenge if someone crosses him. People live in absolute fear of him.”

Delos Series

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Audiobook Review: Last Breath by Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick

Last Breath 
by Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick
Series:  Hitman #2
Pub. Date:  April 7, 2015
Publisher:  Tantor Audio
Narrator:  Iggy Toma, Kasha Kensington
Length:  10 hrs 33 min
Format:  Audiobook
Source:  Library / Hoopla

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

From the bestselling authors of Last Hit comes the next in the steamy series that explores the exquisite power of our darkest passions . . .

Regan : I never really knew what misery was until the day I was kidnapped and sold for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Two months later, I’m at a brothel in Rio when I meet Daniel Hays. He says he’s here to save me, but can I trust him? All I know of him are his sarcastic retorts and his tendency to solve every dispute with his gun. He’s also the only safe thing in my world, and I know it’s wrong to fall in love with him, but I can’t seem to help myself. He says he’ll protect me until his last breath, but I don’t know if I should believe him or even if I can.

Daniel: For the last eighteen months, one goal has dictated every action I’ve taken. I’ve left the Army, turned paid hit man, and befriended criminals all across the globe to find my kidnapped sister. In every brothel I raid and every human trafficking truck I stop, I hope the next face I find is my sister’s. In a hidden brothel in Rio, I find Regan Porter, bruised but not broken, and still sane despite her weeks in captivity. I should leave her behind or send her home, because the last thing either of us needs right now is to get involved. But with every passing minute, I find I’m less able to let her go.

Last Breath picks up pretty much where Last Hit left. Regan has been sold in a sex trafficking ring and is stuck in a sleazy bordello with a bleak outlook. Get your tissues for this part of the book because you will need them. I don't advocate trying to listen to the audiobook while you are doing your makeup in the morning (as I did) because it was a ridiculous effort.

We met Daniel in Last Hit as a bad boy acquaintance of Nikolai. We learn in this book that Daniel is not really so much of a bad boy. He is ex-military and searching for his sister who was kidnapped from Cancun, and has rescued countless other girls from the sex trade along the way.

I liked both of these characters, but I didn't have quite as strong of a connection as I would have liked, despite the emotional beginning. I think that it was because of the instalove that occurred and I just couldn't wrap my brain around the sexytime happening so soon after her forced participation in the sex trade. That being said, I still really enjoyed the story, particularly the suspense aspect with the search for Naomi, running from and going up against Mr. Freeze and his thugs, and Mendoza's odd little community. 

Iggy Toma and Kasha Kensington narrate this whole series, and I raved about Iggy in book one. He did a fine job here as well narrating Daniel, but I really missed his Russian accent from Last Hit. That's why I am stoked that Naomi and Vasily will be getting a book and can't wait to listen to that one!

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Hitman Series