August 31, 2009

Jacket Copy:
Long ago, in the magical holocaust known as the Mage Wars, the immortal Fey and their allies fought to defeat the grasping evil of the Elden Mages and their dark-gifted supporters. During those wars, in a fit of grief-induced madness caused by the death of his mate, Fey shapeshifter Rain Tairen Soul nearly destroyed the world in a blaze of tairen fire.

Now, a thousand years later, the fierce Fey king must fight to save his race from the brink of extinction and once again stop the evil rising in the homeland of his enemies, the Eld. The key to his success lies in the mortal city of Celieria, where the Mage Wars began, and with a young woman whose soul sings to him in ways no woman’s ever has, whose presence reawakens the primal fury of the tairen within his soul, and whose vast, untapped power can either save or destroy him and his people.

This is not going to be a review in my usual format. I am taking the I’ll start and wing it method again because there is so much in my head I want to write about this book, it’s bursting out and not in a methodically and structured manner. Reviews of some books aren’t meant to be crammed into structure and formats and LORD OF THE FADING LANDS is definitely one of those books.

Where and how to begin? Let’s start at the beginning and by saying that this was one of the most impressive reading experiences I’ve had this year, positively as well as negatively. I chose this book as part of my reading challenge because preceding the release of LORD OF THE FADING LANDS back in 2007 an amazing C.L. Wilson buzz began and even I, a non-Fantasy reader, felt the compelling need to buy the book. 

Then, after the raving reviews all around, I did with C.L. Wilson what I do with most authors I buy one book from, I bought every new book upon release and shelved it neatly with the others, thus adding three unread books to the immense TBR-pile. These new books in the series came out, were read and reviewed by fellow ROOB-reviewers and members of the ROOB forum and I heard nothing but praise and read nothing but raving reviews. When compiling the reading challenge list of course C.L. Wilson could not be missing on it, so I gave it the August slot. Then August came and since in July I cut it real close with the challenge book and review I decided to start early with LORD OF THE FADING LANDS, giving me time to read and review at ease and without end of the month-deadline pressure. Little did I know how visionary that would turn out to be.

I started reading LORD OF THE FADING LANDS August 15th and finished it today (August 31st). And I read the last 200 pages in the last 3 days, so I spent almost 2 weeks reading the first half of the book. I just couldn’t get into the story and for the life of me couldn’t pinpoint why. Because I loved the sweet but fiery Celierian woodcarver’s daughter Ellysetta Baristani and I melted for the awe-inspiring Rainier vel’En Daris, the powerful Tairen Soul and Fey King of the Fading Lands. I was endeared and moved by Ellie’s parents and sisters, impressed by Ellie’s quintet, especially by Bel and Kieran and I was repelled by the Eld High Mage and his apprentice Kolis Manza. These are all good things to feel when I’m reading but still something was preventing me from enjoying the book the way I wanted to. 

After finishing the book I now know exactly what it was. There were two things and they are connected. It was the pace and the descriptive lyrical, at times flowery, writing style of C.L. Wilson. Add to that the unknown fantasy terms and names and I really felt lost at the beginning, wondering what I had done by wanting to read this book, knowing I am not a fan of fantasy. I kept flipping to the glossary in the back to know what the terms I was reading meant and believe me that is not good when you already are having problems with the pace. Every time I stopped reading I’d be reluctant to pick the book up again because I knew I would have to wade through the descriptions again to get to the good stuff (dialogues and action).

This definitely wasn’t an easy read for me. When a story grips you it doesn’t matter if it’s easy to read or not but as I was having trouble getting in the story and trying to grasp the world, it made it even harder because of what I stated above. Sometimes I would get sucked into the extensive and distracting descriptions of almost everything (people, scenery, events, actions etc.), making the pace so slow it took me more than a week to get through the first 100 pages! But I hung in there and I am so very glad that I did, because somewhere after page 150 I finally got what I wanted from the book! The intriguing world building, the wonderful dialogues and the beautiful emotions were there the first half of the book too but it wasn’t until the second half, when a lot of things started to fall into place that I could stop being distracted by the descriptions that were still there and fully enjoy the sweet, beautiful and lyrical story of Ellie and Rain.

If there is one thing I learned from reading this book, it is that Fantasy is not and probably will never be a genre I favor and the little quantity of Fantasy books (be it romance or non-romance) on my shelves proves this. Nonetheless, C.L. Wilson will remain on my shelves because with the second half of LORD OF THE FADING LANDS she has convinced me that Tairen Soul series is most certainly worth the effort. I will definitely be reading the next books in this series because I am dying to know what will happen to Ellie, Rain, the Fey, the Eld and how certain intriguing things will unravel.

She was so young, so incredibly new to the world and to him, and yet regardless of the cost to his soul, Rain would destroy anyone and anything that dared to stand between them. And if any dared to harm her, he would shred them without mercy and dance as he drank their blood.

“Rain has given you his magic, kem’falla, the essence of himself. An eternal fivefold weave of it, embraced forever in a fragile Celierian-made vessel. Strength wedded to vulnerability, magic to mortal craft, him to you. It sings so many different songs. It is a very fine gift, indeed." Bel turned his shining gaze upon Ellysetta. "And you, kem’falla, are the greatest gift of all. You breathe life back into the dying ember of our king's soul.”

Respect for his pride kept her silent. Battered and bruised, but still fighting for dominance, his was not the selfish, petty pride that made bullies of lesser men, but rather the quiet, determined dignity that turned men into heroes and made heroes crawl back to their feet from the bitter dust of defeat and stand tall once more. She dare not take that from him.

August 30, 2009

And the winner is...

Cathy M.

There were 18 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
  1. Cathy M
  2. Jill D.
  3. Zeek
  4. Marissa
  5. CheekyGirl
  6. Sewicked
  7. SusiSunshine
  8. donnas
  9. Pam P
  10. Donna (Fantasy Dreamer)
  11. Heather Long
  12. Razlover's Book Blog
  13. elaing8
  14. Leontine
  15. kimmyl
  16. Mandi
  17. Patti
  18. Mandy
Timestamp: 2009-08-30 09:57:59 UTC

Cathy, I will contact you via e-mail to discuss your prize!

August 28, 2009

Because it's my birthday today I decided to share in the celebrational joy and do a spur of the moment giveaway!

What must you do to win? It's very simple...

  • All you have to do is follow my blog and leave me your email address in the comments of this post.
  • The giveaway is open to all (worldwide)!
  • One lucky follower will win a paperback of choice (mass market only!) sent via The Bookdepository.
  • At exactly midnight (CET) on Saturday 29 August I will choose the lucky winner from the followers.

Have fun and start following!

August 25, 2009




Gena Showalter - The Darkest Whisper (Lords of the Underworld, book 4)

Roxanne St. Claire - Hunt Her Down (Bullet Catchers, book 7)
Marliss Melton - Show No Fear (Navy Seals, book 7)

Tessa Dare - Surrender of a Siren (unnamed Trilogy, book 2)
Gayle Callen - Never Marry a Stranger (Sons of Scandal, book 3)
Laura Lee Guhrke - With Seduction in Mind (Girl Bachelor, book 4)



Added to the Stanza Library over the past week:


Mari Carr - Because of You
Shelley Munro - Tea for Two




Lorelei James - Shoulda Been a Cowboy (Rough Riders, book 7)

...The bigger they , the harder they fall—in love...

Soldier Cameron McKay has found his niche, and it ain’t ropin’ steers and wearin’ spurs. His deputy sheriff job, plus battle injuries that ended his military career, keep him right where he wants to be: Off the ranch and away from his family’s pity. His darkest war memories are on lockdown, leaving him skeptical he’ll ever find a woman who wants a man who’s less than whole.

Domini Katzinski has had to control every aspect of her life since age eleven, when she was orphaned in the Ukraine. Watching others’ relationships crumble has convinced her to focus on the short-term and find a take-charge man to whom she can relinquish total sexual control. Cam fits the bill: gorgeous, with a brooding vulnerability no one else seems to see. Plus, he has his own handcuffs.

Once Cam gets over his surprise that sweet, shy Domini wants to be dominated, he is back to issuing orders. Their passion is as hot as a rocket-propelled grenade—and if Domini has her way, it’s a one-shot deal. Cam wants more, and launches a full-out sensual assault…until tragedy strikes, forcing him to change tactics as he tries to keep past demons from blowing their future together all to hell...

Warning: this book contains down and dirty games of good cop/bad cop, salty language, sweet 'n hot lovin', menage a trois, and hooah! a hero packin' serious heat.


Shannon Stacey - No Surrender (Devlin Group, book 3)

Don’t hold back. Never give up. If only it was that easy…

When sabotage downs their helicopter in the mountains, Gallagher finally gets the up-close and personal time he’s been craving with fellow agent Carmen Olivera. After their rescue, the saboteur’s trail sends the Devlin Group to Africa, where Carmen tries to revert back to her cold, professional self. Except Gallagher isn’t ready to let her go. Not by a long shot.

As the Group gears up to rescue a young woman held hostage in the well-guarded compound of a guerilla warlord, Carmen tries to shove her long-time attraction for Gallagher—now jacked up by one mind-blowing night—back into its mental corner. No matter what her heart says, there’s no future with him. They’re from different worlds. Not to mention the effect a failed relationship could have on the job.

But as the mission gets blown all to hell, they find the African jungle has its own, brutal way of deciding who has future at all…

August 23, 2009

---From love at first sight to a HEA---

When I first saw the iPhone a few years ago (the iPhone 2G in 2007) it was love at first sight. Unfortunately my bank account did not share the love so I kept my crush a secret for 2 years. Yearning and craving, salivating when I spotted one "in the flesh" wanting a shiny, pretty iPhone of my own. When my brother in law got one, my fingers were itching to snatch it from his hands and pet it vigorously! Luckily for me and my dignity I contained myself...

Then a few months ago I discovered Twitter and read about people tweeting on their iPhones, reading ebooks on their iPhones, playing games on their iPhones, talking about neat apps for their iPhones and the crush and craving intensified...My love could not be kept a secret anymore. I started confessing in public about my crush and my need to have this wonderful gadget.

It came to full blow when in May or June of this year @jane_l from Dear Author and @angelajames (formerly Samhain and just recently snatched up by Quartet Press, an up & coming Digital Publisher), tweeted about the next generation iPhone, the 3GS, IIRC it was at a conference but can't remember which one. I saw tweets about the specifications, all sorts of apps including ones to do with ebook reading and all I could think of was: I. MUST. HAVE. AN. IPHONE....NOW!

From that moment on, the feeling just grew and grew and even hubby noticed that he was having competition in the form of an electronic appliance in the battle for my affections. He would taunt and tease me, knowing I have no patience when it comes to getting what I want but in the case of the iPhone I had no choice. I still had a subscription with the mobile phone provider until March 2010. Then I decided to take a chance and call the mobile phone provider to get some information on how soon I would be able to switch to an iPhone subscription, including the object of my affection: an iPhone!
And behold, the call center guy told me I could have an iPhone anytime I wanted, regardless of when my current contract would end. Only stipulation was that I couldn't make use of the extensive subscription (including internet access) that goes with the iPhone until the current contract ends. No objections from me on this because I didn't care about that and could wait for Internet on the phone those months since we have WiFi at home and I could try things out with the iPhone on internet anyway.

By the time I called the mobile phone provider it was end of July, so hubby said he would buy the iPhone for me as a birthday gift, off course no objections from me! Needless to say that we where in the store the next day, finally taking the steps to have my precious iPhone in my arms soon! In the store they pointed out that there was a waiting time because the iPhones are very much in demand. They told me I had to wait 8 weeks...8 bloody weeks!!! I got over myself and thought: better 8 weeks than 8 months and we ordered it so it would be a belated birthday gift from hubby, seen as my birthday would be in about 4 weeks.

Behold my utter surprise when not even 2 weeks later I was sick at home and I received a text message from the store, saying that MY iPhone had arrived and was ready to be picked up!! I was ecstatic and I think I even jumped up and down for a while...My precious had arrived! In time for my birthday! Which wouldn't be in another 3 weeks...oh no! Knowing hubby, he was going to make me wait those 3 weeks and taunt me everyday with the knowledge that the iPhone was within my reach but still unattainable.

But again I was surprised because the day we picked the phone up the day before our 6th wedding anniversary and he decided to give it to me early, as an anniversary present. (That's why I love my hubby so much, he knows exactly what I need and is always spot on in making some awesome decisions!)

A few weeks have passed since that wonderful day that my secret crush turned into a real and public love affair.
Have taken pictures with it,
read several ebooks on it, very soon I will be reading the first e-ARC on it!
Synchronized my address book and calendar with it,
texted with it and yes I have even had phone conversations on it,
use it as an alarm clock and have a To Do app that I use for reminders,
and finally I have also tweeted on it but am still testing and searching for the perfect Twitter app.

To sum this post up: Pearl loves iPhone, iPhone loves Pearl and they lived, read and tweeted happily ever after

August 21, 2009
Jacket Copy:

Long ago, as revenge on a Corwin who stole her son's fiancée, a witch proclaimed an eternal curse that every Corwin male who married for love would be destined to lose his love and his fortune ...

The good news is that Mike, a police officer, awakens after some hard partying in Vegas $100,000 richer and married to Amber, the gorgeous woman he met the night before. The bad news: His last name is Corwin. The really bad news is that Amber's a consummate con who took his money and ran. Seems the family curse has finally hit him.

But to Amber, Mike isn't business as usual. Something about her new husband softens her steely heart, even as she betrays him. And Mike, first hell-bent on divorce, welcomes a second chance to defy the curse... and turn his run of bad fortune into a lucky streak!

I read this book in 24 hours! That is a rare thing. Normally reading it takes me at least a few days to read a book, however, now I was sick at home and add to that, that this was an engaging read, led me to finish it before I knew it. The book started nice and smooth and I was drawn in from the very first chapter. It had a somewhat different vibe compared to LUCKY CHARM but I was pulled into the story just as fast. The immediate attraction between Amber and Mike set the tone for a fast-paced, funny and breezy contemporary romance. It was exactly what I needed and what I was looking for after some intense reads and one very disappointing one.

What happens when a straight-laced cop saves a Las Vegas con artist from her persistent partner in crime? In Carly Phillips’ LUCKY STREAK what follows is an impromptu Las Vegas wedding, $ 100,000 won by the groom and then stolen by the bride who pulls a disappearing act. And this is just the beginning. There is a curse to thwart, a redneck con who got conned to avoid and fathers who need physical and psychological help.

Amber Rose is charismatic and vivacious. She has a photographic memory, which comes in handy in the con artists’ scene. Her reasons for using her talent to con people are not selfish, even if Mike doesn’t see it that way at first. In her eyes she doesn’t have a choice and she tries not to con people who can’t afford to lose the money. She is independent, confident, loyal and caring and tries to make up for the bad things she has done to Mike in an endearing way.

Michael “Mike” Corwin, is one of the cursed Corwin cousins but he chooses to pretend it doesn’t exist. He has enough on his mind with his job and his eccentric father. Mike is very straightforward and he’s also a black & white kind of guy. No grey areas for Mike Corwin. His father’s behavior and mental condition, rather than the Corwin curse, is what made him shy away from relationships. But he is a great guy who is charming, witty and protective.

I enjoyed how the relationship between Mike and Amber grew from fling and Las Vegas hitch to a meaningful relationship with both eventually going for it and wanting to make their marriage work. Mike a bit more hesitantly, but not less convincingly. And I absolutely loved the ending and resolution for Mike and Amber. Carly Phillips chose an original and endearing end that moved me deeply.

LUCKY STREAK is endearing, hot and well written. Once I started I couldn’t stop reading. It read so fast, I flew through the pages and before I knew it I was at the end and now heavily anticipating book 3: Jason’s story. Carly Phillips’ writing is so true to life and easy to grasp it was like seeing the characters and events in front of me while reading. And because she also writes characters that are easy to identify with, understanding their conflicts and dilemmas didn’t take much effort.

Reflecting on both LUCKY CHARM and LUCKY STREAK I realize that Carly Phillips is making this trilogy about much more than just the main couple and their romance story. I love how she brings in the whole family (cousins, uncles) and the dynamics that go with their interactions give the books its rich and realistic flavor. Another thing that resonates well with me is the subtle undertone of humor that shines through regularly throughout the book, making it a very pleasant read.

While Carly Phillips enticed me with the first book of the trilogy, she’s solidified the fascination with this one and now has me craving the final installment of the trilogy.

She sucked in a shallow breath. There was nothing soft or giving about his body and yet everything in his expression told her he’d give her everything she asked for and even some things she didn’t.

Mike awoke with a morning hard-on and Amber’s hand on his groin. Helluva wake-up call, he thought. The woman was obviously put on this earth to make him a very happy—but insane—man.

August 20, 2009

What I would like most right now is time to read and review AND watch my favorite TV shows without compromising the "day job", quality time with hubby and fullfil the many social obligations (like birthdays, visiting friends and family, have sleep-over weekends with the nieces, nephews and god children, etc). This is wishful thinking and could only happen if the day had twice as many hours as it has now. Lately my standard phrase is: Too many books, too little time!! And we're not even talking about keeping this blog up to date, Tweeting and making my bloghop rounds on the blogs I follow.

Still I find myself seeking ways to do all of the above and more. On my (almost) daily rounds of the blogs I follow I sometimes see people reading 2 or more (have seen up to 5) books at a time and every time I stumble on this I turn green with jealousy. I just can't do that. I sometimes try to read 2 books at a time, deceiving myself by thinking it will make the TBR pile diminish quicker but it's just smoke and mirrors because reading 2 books at a time doesn't equal reading 2 books in the same time I would read 1 book. And even if it would, it'd just postpone the lack-of-time problem because I can't review two books at the same time. Have to write the reviews one by one, the one after the other.

I've been playing with the idea of not reviewing every book I read but can't do it! I really can't. Partly because most books I read are parts of series of which I have already reviewed the other books and can't justify to myself reviewing some books in a series and not the other ones.

Another reason I want to review every book I read is because of my main goal for this blog. For me this is not a book blog for others. Yes of course I love having visitors on my blog and commenters on my posts but if there were none, it would be okay too. Because in the very first place this blog is ultimately and selfishly for me and me alone. I use it as my storage place for reviews of the books I read because with the amount I've read I can't remember them all and browsing through the blog, reading my reviews I can evoke the feelings I had when reading the book.

I must be honest and admit that lately, influenced by some amazing blogs I have seen (I will have to do a favorite bloggers post soon!!) and Twitter, I'm starting to feel the itch to make my blog more than just a review storage space, but this doesn't have any solid form yet. This blog post is a very small start of it, though.

I really admire bloggers who have time to read and review 10+ books a month, watch and review movies, keep up to date with new releases, new bookcovers and other developments in the romance reading community, post opinion pieces, participate in social networks, not even mentioning a personal life with partners, kids, a household and a "day job" or in any combination of everything previously mentioned.

I work 4 days a week, have a husband who demands attention, sometimes I think he replaces any kid we don't have and next to that a wide circle of friends and family. Add to that my reading and TV series addiction. First step is admitting you have a problem, right? Well I am a TV show junkie! And have been since I was a little girl. My reading and TV addictions manifested at the age when other boys and girls would go outside to play with their friends and I could be found either with my nose in a book or glued to the television. This to the utter frustration of my parents who repeatedly tried and failed to get me outside to play and finally gave up and accepted their daughter was a book-addict and TV junkie...But I digress...

I think it's clear that I don't know where I would have to find the time to go to a movie let alone review it. I have trouble keeping up with the books I want to review and I really don't read that many books a month. Average of 4-7 a month. All time high was 13 and that really was an exception and due to spending 2 weeks sick in bed,with something that didn't impede me from reading. Mostly when I'm sick I don't read that much, for example I had a serious bout of the flu end of July and beginning of August but was not able to read a letter during those 2 weeks. Spent it sleeping and watching DVDs of CSI. "If you can't feed one addiction, sate the other one" is my motto!

Lately I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed again by the many balls I'm trying to keep in the air in my life as have described earlier in this post and everytime I feel that way (I have these spells about once or twice a year), hubby's standard phrase regarding the reading and reviewing is: "Remember, it is still a hobby, something you do for fun, not to torture yourself." And this is exactly what I need to keep in mind. But a little more time to indulge myself in this hobby I like so much would be most welcome...

What would you do if you could magically create more time?
August 19, 2009
Jacket Copy:

The Blood Sword Legacy: Eight knights bound by a brotherhood forged in hell claim their legacies the only way they can: by right of arms, by right of victory, by right of conquest.

Most of England has submitted to King William, but Wales refuses to yield. The King's trusted Blood Swords are unable to prevail, and while Stefan de Valrey is left unconscious on the battlefield, his sworn brothers are captured. Despite terrible injuries, Stefan vows to liberate them. Even rescuing a delicately beautiful -- and naked -- maiden from peril cannot deter him, for the silver-eyed Arianrhod is a Welsh princess, a hostage Stefan can exchange for his long as Arian remains as pure as when he met her. But that is a constraint Stefan finds harder to honor with every passing day.

When the scowling knight slings her across his saddle, Arian knows she should fix all her thoughts on escape. But Arian has never before experienced the deep, soul-changing desire that Stefan arouses with merely a glance. Breaking their vows could set two kingdoms ablaze -- can they control the sweet, terrible burning between them?

Since the blurb on the cover of the book summarizes the story adequately I am not doing that in this review and will get right to the heart of the matter.

Stefan de Valrey is one of William the Conqueror’s Blood Swords. The Blood Swords are William’s elite and most trusted black knights. Stefan is scarred both emotionally and bodily. And he’s a merciless loner who is proud, honorable, quiet and serious.

Arianrhod (Arian) of Carmarthenshire is a Welsh princess. She is not one to whine or complain and her pragmatic mentality gets her a long way. She is a brave, determined, stubborn, bold , proud and courageous social creature.

Arian and Stefan have their love for horses and their strong objections to falling in love (even if their reasons differ immensely) in common. As Arian and Stefan get to know each other and fall in love, the reader follows their journey both literally and emotionally. I admired Karin Tabke’s ability to evoke my empathy for both Stefan and Arian in their differences of opinion. She made me see where Arian’s anger towards Stefan was coming from but at the same time I also understood why Stefan did some of the things he did regarding Arian and what he thought of her choices.

The secondary cast is ample but the supporting characters are never overwhelming or distracting. Each player in this play has his or her role in the plot or the romance between Arian and Stefan. There are Normans, Welsh, Vikings who all form small pieces of the great picture. Among the more important ones is Arian’s betrothed, Magnus Tryggvason. He is a character with different sides to him and his motives aren’t entirely disclosed from the beginning. All I can say is that he gets what he deserves.

Again I enjoyed another installment of this series immensely. I don’t have a vast collection of historical romances from the medieval/William the Conqueror time-period but I am definitely glad Karin Tabke’s Blood Sword Legacy is part of that small collection. The series is not unique in it’s setting. I do realize that, but the writing, characters and romance justify my fondness of these books, next to Karin Tabke’s ability to give each book and romance something special through its own vibe and uniqueness. She combines gruesome scenes of battle/torture with frank dialogues, emotional anguish and heart wrenching romance and does this with seemingly effortless skill. Her talent for painting a romance against a medieval background sprinkled with historical facts and fiction definitely takes this series above the average medieval romance.

One minor thing kept this book from a 4,5 or even 5 star rating. As I was nearing the end of the book (less than 100 pages to go) I realized the marriage between Magnus and Arian was going to take place regardless because Arian realized she had to put duty before love. I was truly wondering how it was going to work out and how Karin Tabke was going to bring this to a satisfying end because after the marriage Stefan intervenes in a way that was sudden and confusing for me. The resolution seemed too convenient and in my opinion Karin Tabke took the easy way out a bit at first, even if it was a unique and original solution and one I haven’t come across before. Had this solution been approached differently I am sure this installment would have replaced MASTER OF TORMENT as my favorite of the series, as all the other elements of MASTER OF CRAVING worked perfectly for me and the ending of the book was one that will stick with me for a long time.

The story of Stefan and Arian is one that has been written in many romances before: the warrior who kidnaps the princess in order to get what he wants. Yet, with her thorough, historically founded and lifelike writing style Karin Tabke’s delivery of it was very refreshing for me. And even thought I questioned part of the resolution, it is a keeper for me and I am looking forward to the next installment of this series.

Arian to Stefan (she thinks he is a Saxon, and Stefan decides let her):
Be sure, Saxon, to sleep with one eye open, lest you find your sword in your other eye.”

Longing twisted with a desperate need for the woman he could not have. Emptiness filled his soul, and he felt as if there was no reason to take his next breath. For Arian was his life, and without her, ‘twas as if he had no sustenance. And though he would ride, and battle, and see to his king’s needs, the most vital parts of him would be missing. His heart and soul.

A primal possession overcame him with such a force he wanted to throw his head back and howl at the moon, to let all who heard it know that he had claimed his life mate and would fight any man or beast who tried to take her from him.

August 18, 2009

(a modest catch this week *grin*)

Tessa Dare - Goddess of the Hunt

Diana - Holquist - How to Tame a Modern Rogue (won via @Twitter)


Karen Marie Moning - Dreamfever


-----NEW FEATURE on Tuesday Treasures!!-----

Considering I have a lot of ebooks and my ebook-wishlist is almost as big as my print-wishlist, I need to have a "digital" spotlight in the TT-posts too, where purchased ebooks and ebook-releases on the wishlist are featured.

I'm starting with a free ebook this week:
Shayla Black announced yesterday that the newest entry in her Doomsday Brethren Series, the free e-book novella FATED, is available HERE. I downloaded it on the iPhone immediately and it's now sitting in my Stanza Library waiting to be read, after I've read the first book of the series, of course!

They were meant to be together…but will magic tear them apart?
(Ronan’s Story)

Release Date: August 17, 2009

Also added to the Stanza Library over the past week:

My Soul To Lose - Rachel Vincent
Beauty Tempts the Beast - Leslie Dicken



Mari Carr - Because of You

August 17, 2009
Crap! I forgot to take a picture of the book with the markers still in it! Ah well, you'll have to do with a "naked" picture of the book then. *smile*

July, especially mid -> end of July was a period of great books for me! After Seduce the Darkness by Gena Showalter which is now Quotes recold holder, came Victoria Dahl's Start Me Up and though the record still stands.

Start Me Up too, provided me with more quotes than I could include in the "official" review. But luckily, that's what these Quote-posts are for.

Without further ado, find below and enjoy some of Victoria Dahl's witty and endearing writing!

Best opening paragraph I’ve read in ages:
“Baby, that is one fine ass.”
Lori Love ignored the purring voice and gave the mounting bolt on the transmission of the old Ford one last turn, laying all her weight against the wrench.
“Oh, yeah. Work it, darlin’.”
When the bolt felt tight enough, Lori wiggled the body part in question and tossed a grin over her shoulder toward the blonde behind her.
Her best friend, Molly, leered, eyebrows raised in suggestive appreciation “Do fries go with that shake, girl?”

Lori debates her clothing choices:
Maybe she should have arrived in a tank top and cutoff shorts with a plan to find many reasons to bend over while working. Of course, that would be before the frostbite set in.

Quinn’s starts seeing Lori as more than just Molly’s best friend:
“Hey, Moll.” His eyes didn’t leave Lori’s. “What did you do to Lori?”
“Got her horny with my award-winning writing.”

Lori after Quinn volunteers to have sex with her:
The room was spinning and hot. A convection oven of mortification spiced with a hint of lust. Quinn Jennings had just propositioned her in the most inappropriate way.

Lori about Quinn:
Quinn was different…shiny and polished from the constant flow of letting his own dreams wash over him (…), she wanted a little of that glow to rub off on her bare skin, (…). Her glow was long gone, now she just wanted a taste of Quinn’s

Quinn about Lori:
He’d never thought about what Lori Love might taste like, so he didn’t know why he felt surprised. But he was shocked at the rightness of her, sweet and sexual on his tongue, the most feminine thing he’d ever taste.

Lori’s self-consciousness sneaks in after reading an article about Quinn:
Lori was no longer puzzled by Quinn’s easy suggestion that they not jump into sex. He’d been riding the wild silicon waves of women like Tessa Smith. Now he needed time to acclimate himself to Lori’s flat terrain. Regain his land legs.

Quinn finds a drunk Lori outside her house with Ben, in her underwear:
An opaque cloud of debris had settled over Quinn’s mind, pelting his thought with grit and tiny bits of shrapnel. It was hard to think clearly through the mess of confusion. All he could process was that Lori was in her underwear.

Quinn knows what Lori needs:
She was stiff in his arms, but while the old Quinn would’ve immediately set her back and let her go, he was a new Quinn. A man determined to give her what she needed, even if she had no idea what that was. A man shaped for her wicked pleasure.

*This is why I love Victoria Dahl’s writing:
Lori put her hands on the headboard.
The electric slide of his hand down the small of her back made her shiver. “Good girl.”
A jolt of lust swept through her belly, to her absolute mortification. You do not have daddy issues, she told her body in her best feminist voice. Her body responded by arching back in a blatant effort to please him. Hussy, the stern voice hissed, but hussy was no insult to her greedy body.

Lori after the deed:
She’d done it. She’d had dirty meaningless, mindless sex. And she’d done it really, really well.

Lori after Quinn has left on “the morning after:
“Ho-ly smokes.” She’d really done it. And doin’ it had been So. Damn. Good. She lifted the blanket to look down her body. Same body she saw in the mirror every single day, and yet now it was imprinted with dirty memories of Quinn, like invisible tattoos.

Then Lori goes in the bathroom:
Still smiling, she caught sight of herself in the mirror and let out a horrified scream. Sure, her curls were usually messy in the morning, but his was a new level of chaos. The last image Quinn had from their night together was a crazed, naked bushwoman waving goodbye. Yikes.

Typical Quinn and Lori conversation:
“Quinn Jennings, that was the best thing I’ve ever done.”
“Ever. It far surpasses that time I talked myself into riding the tallest roller coaster on the East Coast.”
“That was your best thing before?”
“I’m afraid of heights. So yeah. I was pretty proud.”
“And now you’re proud that we just screwed like crazy people?”
…Quinn smiled. “Yeah, I’m kind of proud of myself, too. I was a f#cking sex ninja.

*Quinn realizes something about Lori:
He stood there a moment longer, fantasizing once again of rescuing Lori Love. She’d turned out to be a damsel in distress after all, but not the innocent, helpless kind. No, she was a damsel of a different sort. The brave kind who fought and lied and did really dirty things to the knight in shining armor.

(The ones with the * made the official review)
August 16, 2009
Jacket Copy:

Lori Love is yearning for something more...

She’d always planned to get out of tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado, but when her late dad left her his beloved auto repair shop, Lori stayed. Now she needs some excitement in her life and, according to her best friend, some hot, no-strings-attached sex would be just the thing to get Lori’s engine purring.

Quinn Jennings has buildings on the brain—not love and romance. A serious architect, he’s delighted to discover that Lori is willing to skip dating protocol and head straight for the sheets. Using the Lori’s collection of steamy books as a guide, Quinn gets busy making all her wildest fantasies come true. Mind-blowing, meaningless sex is one thing, but then life in Tumble Creek takes a dangerous turn for Lori, and Quinn’s protective instincts kick in. Suddenly he cares. More than either of them ever expected…

Lori Love took over her father’s garage after his death and even though it messed up her professional ambitions and her dreams of traveling the world, she makes the best of it. She’s stubborn, independent and realistic. She is not a girly girl and is seen as one of the boys. In the small town of Tumble Creek she even has the rumored reputation of being a lesbian because nobody has ever seen her romantically involved with a man. When she’s looking for a man to have a sexual fling with, her best friend’s brother is the last one she’d think of, but he is available and when he volunteers very willingly she decides to go for it.

Quinn Jennings is the embodiment of perfection, at least in his parents’ eyes. He’s an accomplished architect who is a workaholic to say the least and scatter-brained is another description that fits him well. Nonetheless, he’s adorable and hot. Sometimes he’s the foot-in-mouth type of guy but his heart is definitely in the right place. When he finds out his sister’s best friend is looking for a volunteer to have a fling with, he doesn’t hesitate, he decides to take a chance and see where it leads them.

I loved Lori and Quinn and their story. They were lovely characters and their story was a very enjoyable read. There is a suspense plot intertwined through the romance again but it’s a very small plot and not the focus of the book. This is perfectly fine with me since it’s a contemporary and not a romantic suspense. However, the plot did present the perfect background for the emotional ending of the book and it also provided some insight in Lori’s character and motivations for the choices she has made in her life. What must be mentioned in this review is the resolution of the plot. As small as the plot was, the resolution was amazingly done. I was leaning towards the right person with my suspicions of who the “villain” would be but the motivation for this person’s actions was brilliantly found and totally took me by surprise.

START ME UP is a contemporary romance that was very much to my liking: not too complicated but with enough intensity to keep me captivated and even with the more staid Lori and Quinn (in comparison to Molly and Ben from TALK ME DOWN) the sexual tension leaped up from the pages. But it’s not only sex and fun. Both Quinn and Lori have emotional issues they have to deal with. For Quinn it’s his parents’ constant praise and approval of him while when at the same time they disapprove of his sister Molly because she chose her own way and doesn’t meet their expectations. For Lori it’s giving up her dreams, education, ambitions, and love life; in short giving up herself, in order to take care of her father and his needs and wishes when he becomes ill and later after his death.

I loved the amount of secondary characters, both the familiar and the new. Among the familiar of course Ben and Molly couldn’t be absent and I loved that they made a few appearances. The balance between romance, characters and hotness is perfectly done but I expected nothing less after TALK ME DOWN and THE WICKED WEST. Compared to other contemporary romance authors I’ve read, Victoria Dahl takes the love scenes quite towards the erotic side. Yes, they are explicit, but also tasteful and classy. Arousing yet never crossing the line to vulgarism. The use of the snippets from the erotica books Lori reads and Quinn’s “research” of the stories in order to find out what Lori liked, was another ingenious element in START ME UP and the verbal fights between Lori and Quinn, were delightful to read, not to mention the unbelievably hot make-up scenes they would have after them.

START ME UP is one of the books I read in July that I just flew through. From the moment I started reading I couldn’t stop. Between the numerous clever and laugh-out-loud one-liners and Lori and Quinn’s off the chart chemistry filled with sexual innuendo, there’s a story of dreams and independence. Sincere compassion and heartfelt and genuine love shine through the book. All brought to me by way of a writing style that is down to earth and delectable scenes that made me fly effortlessly through page after page until I reached the last one and felt crushed because there weren’t any left to enjoy.

Victoria Dahl’s writing is witty, hot and sensual. I haven’t sampled her historical writings yet but her contemporaries definitely are a hit with me and they are right up my alley: funny, sassy, fast-paced and excellently written. She is among the authors whom have made contemporary romance my favorite genre at the moment! START ME UP has become one of my favorite books and that’s not just because of the mention of Formula One and Amsterdam, or the snippets of Spanish or the fact that one of the walk-on secondary characters has my husband’s name.

I could go on and on with my praise of Victoria Dahl’s talent and maybe I’m starting to become repetitive with my worship but this is where it comes down to: Victoria Dahl is talented as hell and her Tumble Creek trilogy should be on every contemporary loving romance reader’s keeper shelf. Just don’t forget to keep a fan in arm’s reach. Oh and some tissues, because just when I thought I’d make it through a book with dry eyes and after all the hotness and fun, Victoria Dahl made me cry at the end with some beautiful, emotional scenes!

With START ME UP Victoria Dahl has written a contemporary romance novel as it is meant to be! Humorous, brazen, engaging and emotional yet uncomplicated.

Lori put her hands on the headboard.
The electric slide of his hand down the small of her back made her shiver. “Good girl.”
A jolt of lust swept through her belly, to her absolute mortification. You do not have daddy issues, she told her body in her best feminist voice. Her body responded by arching back in a blatant effort to please him. Hussy, the stern voice hissed, but hussy was no insult to her greedy body.

He stood there a moment longer, fantasizing once again of rescuing Lori Love. She’d turned out to be a damsel in distress after all, but not the innocent, helpless kind. No, she was a damsel of a different sort. The brave kind who fought and lied and did really dirty things to the knight in shining armor.

August 14, 2009
After the Quote-posts of Whisper No Lies and Atlantis Unleashed it's time for another Quote-post!!

This time the honor goes to Seduce the Darkness by Gena Showalter. I'm a sucker for Gena's books and these quotes show why. I love her writing style and her characterization. Her books make me laugh, swallow lumps away and chew my nails, all in the space of 300-400 pages!

At the moment Gena Showalter's SEDUCE THE DARKNESS holds the Quote-record, with 17 quotes. It'll be tough for other books to top this! But hey I thought that with the other Quote-posts too so who knows...

Hope you enjoy these quotes as much as I did! But be warned...the quotes may contain spoilers so read at own risk!

A youthful Devyn lusting over a maid, which got him in a lot of trouble:
When her lush, pink lips had curled in greeting, his heart had nearly beaten its way out of his chest. He'd wanted to rush to her, put his hands all over her body, lick her and kiss her and thrust into her the way a prince was only supposed to thrust into his wife.

Bride's thoughts when she first encounters Devyn
Clearly, he was an otherworlder, though which race, she didn't know. Whichever one, she had to wonder if they were all like him: perfection wrapped in dazzling and sprinkled with every woman's fantasy.

Devyn and Bride:
"I smell like a woman, hmm?
"Well, you smell like sex." He leaned down as if he intended to share a secret with her, moonlight caressing him as though it couldn't help itself. Maybe it couldn't. "The dirtiest kind of sex, at that. Which happens to be my favorite.

Dallas and Devyn's loving banter:
"You're scary, you know that?" Dallas said with quiet affection.
"I know. It's hardly far to others that I am a triple threat. Pretty and talented."
"That's only two, moron."
"I'd thought it would be rude to mention my c#ck."

Mia, Devyn and Dallas:
"So, you've actually met one? Other than this Bride person?" Mia asked him (...). "A f#cking bloodsucker?"
He shrugged, downed the last bit of the Scotch. "If by met you mean bedded, then yes."
Dallas rolled his eyes. "Is there a race you haven't bedded?"

Devyn when he and Bride are negotiating kisses in exchange for questions answered:
"Don't worry. I'll be keeping score inside my head, and I'm very good at math. Example: Devyn plus Bride minus clothes plus a hard, flat surface multiplied by roaming hands equals greatest pleasure ever. When shall we begin?"

How Devyn and Bride discuss things:
"Do you want to see (name of a person I won't mention due to spoiling) or not?"
She bit her tongue, probably drawing blood. To keep from biting him? "You know I do. And if you've hurt her, I swear to God I'll cut off your balls and feed them to you."

Another bout of Dallas and Devyn banter (Devyn has just "disabled" a landlord who was bugging Bride):
Dallas had his arms crossed over his chest.
"What?" Devyn said, all innocence. "He annoyed me."
"So nearly killing him was necessary?"
A roll of his friends baby blues. "Are you sure you're not in loooove with Bride? 'Cause, dude, you're like a knight in crotchless armor right now."

Devyn's seductive moves:
He shrugged. "You don't have to worry about giving in to my wicked advances. Not yet. Right now, you're going to strip and shower, and then we're going to talk."
She raised her chin. "Like hell."
You will. I'll force you if necessary. And Bride," he said, his voice dipping huskily. "I hope it's necessary."

Push-and-pull mating dance by Devyn and Bride (Bride is under the shower and Devyn wants in):
"Invite me in."
"Invite me in, Bride."
"I told you. I will when you beg."
"I don't have to beg for a woman."
She grinned sweetly. "Then you'll never have this one."

The moment my heart broke for Devyn:
Her uncertainty reminded him of the boy he'd once been. The boy who had put on his best clothes and snuck into his mother's wing of the palace to give her a birthday present. The boy who had knocked on his mother's door, hoping, praying for a smile, even a hug, when he gave her the picture he'd drawn for her. The boy who'd had to throw the gift away, because his mother had looked at it, thanked him, and placed it back in his hands before shutting the door in his face.

Devyn to Bride:
"You confuse, fascinate, irritate, and delight me." he said, "and I swear to God the only thing I was thinking about while tasting and touching you was you."

Devyn watches Bride take a real shower (with water, not the futuristic enzyme showers):
Never had Devyn see a more beautiful sight. She was an angel, a siren, a goddess, all wrapped in Temptation's skin. Her joy was palpable, and he had given this to her, he thought, his pride intensifying.

Devyn's thoughts:
He needed to feel her, to know she was here and that she wasn't leaving him. Yet. He needed her goodness to mute his darkness.

Bride and Devyn:
"Nothing you do to me is shameful, swear to God. Well, besides letting me suffer from withdrawals. You gave me a taste of you, then took it away."
He gave a hoarse chuckle. "Well, the first taste is always free. You have to pay for the rest."
"Name your price."
"You. Just you."

Devyn's feelings for Bride:
You' You make me hot, you make me laugh, and you make me angry. You look at me with those emerald eyes, and all I want to see is happiness inside them. You confuse me, you arouse me, you make me want to be better.

The moment it clicks in place for Devyn:
Variety was no longer what drove him. Bride was. (...) She had shown him what his life was missing. Then, with her smile and her touch, she'd patched him up and made him whole.
August 12, 2009

Jacket Copy:
She’s the match, he’s the fuse…an explosive combination

One year ago Willow Gregory entered the Miss Firecracker contest on a dare—and ended up with the crown. As a working carpenter, she’s not exactly the tears-and-tiara type, and after a year of walking the straight and narrow she’s ready to cut loose. Waking up in a sexy stranger’s bed with no memory of the havoc she wreaked the night before wasn’t quite what she had in mind. Nor was agreeing to his mandate—work for him at the tavern until she repays the damage. Or go to jail.

Blake West thinks he could possibly be the only man alive who could say no to a drunken, horny, naked beauty queen. There’s something about the former Miss Firecracker that makes him want to blow his Mr. Nice Guy persona all to hell. It helps that Willow is ready to dive headfirst into a no-heartstrings-attached affair. Which fits in perfectly with Blake’s temporary gig managing his friend’s bar. Every grinding kiss, every stolen touch leads to another…until a harmless little white lie becomes the detonator that could explode their chances at a happily ever after.

Warning: This light-hearted beach read features a hero hotter than the 4th of July and a feisty heroine who knows exactly how to pop his top.

Every romance reader has her (or his, let’s not discriminate) crack. For some it’s J.R. Ward, for others it is Nora Roberts. For me it’s Lorelei James. Seriously, I would forgo food and new clothes or shoes to buy her books! That is why I was ecstatic when I won a copy of MISS FIRECRACKER on her yahoo loop. Not that I wouldn’t have obtained it otherwise of course. But it had been a while since I had indulged in Lorelei James’ writing so I welcomed Blake West’s story with open arms and once again she did not disappoint me.

She gave me what I was expecting from this short story and a little bit more. I did not expect elaborate plots or deepened characterization because come on, let’s face it, it’s a 113-page story. What I did expect was a witty, down-to earth story; sprinkled with emotions, hot sex and a cherry on top. And that’s what I got, right down to the cherry but I’ll get to that later.

MISS FIRECRACKER is the story of Willow Gregory and Blake West. A couple made for each other despite their unusual first encounter. Willow entered the Miss Firecracker competition just to prove a point. She won and proved her point but after being stood up by women she thought were her new-found friends she drinks one drink too many and ends up trashing a bar. And of course this is the bar where Blake, former sheep rancher, is temporarily in charge. I could almost here him thinking: “Of all the joints in Broward, Nebraska, why did she have to trash mine?” Long story short, what follows is a lovely mating dance where things heat up considerably in backrooms, bar stools and shower stalls. Issues are left unspoken and assumptions are made but in the end everything works out just fine.

Willow is funny, caring and impulsive. She overanalyzes and feels like an outsider most of the time. Her being a woman in a man’s world (construction), working in a company that was founded by her dad only makes this feeling and her constant need to prove herself stronger. It is a pleasant surprise for her when Blake accepts her for who she is, treats her with genuine respect and lets her be herself.

Blake is decent, hardworking, thoughtful and sweet. He is a truly good guy who is dutiful, gentlemanly and intuitive. But Blake also has that sexy aura that all the McKays and Wests have. That raw sexuality that shimmers just below the surface and is brought out by the right woman. And what that man does with maraschino cherries is hot as hell and should be prohibited by law. I’m not telling, you should read it for yourself.

Even though Lorelei James’ books can easily be read as stand alones, especially the ones in the Wild West Boys series, I do recommend reading them in order as in every consecutive book more is revealed about several previous matched happy couples and you catch a glimpse of what their lives are like. The extent of the revelations and peeks differ from small and subtle to very important events or developments. Therefore put together the Rough Riders series and the Wild West Boys series form a chronicle of a Western family with all their ups and downs like every family has, but it is one that is as hot as they come.

MISS FIRECRACKER is another great Lorelei James read where she combines witty and outspoken characters with off the chart sensuality. Even in this 113 page-story she managed to create a nice background for her characters. Willow and Blake are defined by their family and past and Lorelei James pens this down perfectly. The combination of scorching sexuality and characters that are easy to relate to, is what attracts me in Lorelei James’ writing and what keeps me going back to her. I haven’t read anything by her that has let me down and MISS FIRECRACKER is no exception to that. It aroused me, it pleased me and it moved me as few eBook novellas can.

Willow skirted the dwindling crowd and fell on the cold food like a starving hyena.
She’d just wiped her mouth when Blake’s voice bounced off the concrete walls. “Lord, do I love to see a woman with a healthy appetite.”
She took another swig of ginger ale. “Is that your gentlemanly way of telling me I eat like a pig?”

Blake kissed her. Not hot and hard. Not sweet and warm. His mouth simply…overtook hers. The kiss knocked her sideways, even as he pressed her against the wall to keep her upright.
When he broke free from her mouth, Willow gasped for breath.
He whispered, “You undo me. You have from the second you I saw you.”

August 11, 2009


Tessa Dare & Courtney Milan - The Dangerous Book of Excerpts

J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows

Lisa Marie Rice - Dangerous Passion


No releases on the wishlist for August 11th

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39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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Pearl has read 10 books toward her goal of 50 books.

On My TBR Shelf

  • Unforgivable - Laura Griffin
  • Snapped - Laura Griffin
  • Darkness at Dawn - Elizabeth Jennings
  • Sizzle and Burn - Alexis Grant
  • No Mercy - Lori Armstrong
  • Animal Magnetism - Jill Shalvis
  • Crazy for Love - Victoria Dahl
  • Kink - Saskia Walker/Sasha White
  • So Sensitive - Anne Rainey
  • Dark Taste of Rapture - Gena Showalter
  • The Darkest Secret - Gena Showalter
  • Vampire in Atlantis - Alyssa Day
  • Vampire Dragon - Annette Blair
  • Captive Spirit - Anna Windsor
  • Chosen by Blood - Virna DePaul
  • Rebel - Zoe Archer
  • Stranger - Zoe Archer
  • A Taste of Desire - Beverley Kendall
  • Mistress by Midnight - Maggie Robinson
  • To Desire a Devil - Elizabeth Hoyt
  • To Tame a Dangerous Lord - Nicole Jordan

Digital TBR Next

  • Driven - Jayne Rylon (reread)
  • Shifting Gears - Jayne Rylon
  • Beg Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Tempt Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Jazz Baby - Lorelie Brown
  • Playboy Prankster - Pamela Britton
  • Just Like That - Erin Nicholas
  • Sweet Inspiration - Penny Watson
  • Breathe - Donna Alward
  • My Gigolo - Molly Burkhart
  • Scent of Persuason - Nikki Duncan

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