July 30, 2010

This weekend I had plans. Saturday was for grocery shopping, a bit of reading and shopping for some family birthdays presents, Sunday we had some family visits to do the whole day in view of some upcoming birthdays. Then we got an email that the family birthdays were being postponed until next Friday and a plan started forming in my mind. It was triggered by an invitation I received on Goodreads for a read-a-thon event in the weekend of August 13-14-15 and I thought: I can do that on my own too, especially now that I have an unexpected free weekend.

After the plan had formed I knew the biggest stumbling point was going to be hubby-dearest. He is NOT a reader and doesn't quite understand my reading obssession (I can't in good faith call it a hobby anymore LOL), he is very supportive of my reading but we also have some hefty discussions about it when he feels a bit neglected and all I can talk about are books (or blogging about books or tweeting about books) or all he sees of me is the top of my head sticking out above a book while my nose is in said book. Sometimes he's right, sometimes I think he's being unfair and we really fight about it. But most of the time he's very supportive as he's proved yet again by not fussing about me wanting to do this 48-hour reading marathon. Don't get me wrong: I had to drive a hard bargain and came up with some good arguments as to why I wanted to do this and showed him that it would be opportune for him too if I could do a reading spree for 2 straight days and then have more time in the coming month to spend some quality time with him. But me reading all weekend, means he's on his own for more that 48 hours, he has to do the groceries, buy the birthday gifts, cook, eat alone and pretty much be ignored by me until Sunday evening...He's a real trooper!

So now I am really going to do this. I'm going to read for 48 hours, with the only interruptions being a few hours of sleep tonight and tomorrow night.

Below is the pile of books I have layed out for this read-a-thon...mind you, I will not be able to read them all but am going to do my very best to make a big dent in this pile. The two covers shown are 2 e-books I'm reading at the moment (only read a few pages in both) and I am planning to at least also finish those two this weekend.

I'm starting this read-a-thon on Friday (today) 4 PM (CET) and will read at least until Sunday 4 PM (CET) but may extend it into Sunday evening, depending on how much I get read by Sunday afternoon.

I'll be checking/updating the below list as I go and hope to have a decent list by Sunday evening:

01. Full Disclosure by Cari Quinn
02. A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl
03. A Hollywood Affair by Sally Royer-Derr
04. Ex Appeal by Cari Quinn
05. Whirlpool by Vivian Arend
started Naked Dragon by Annette Blair

Well, wish me luck and I'll be back Sunday evening with an update of how it went. Right now I have to work on a review that's coming up Monday and which I have to write before I start the read-a-thon.
July 22, 2010

When you guys read this post I'll be on my way to the airport to catch a plane to London, England!
After an amazing trip to the US (Los Angeles) in June, I am a lucky woman about to meet one of my fave romantic suspense authors, Karen Rose...

About the Author
Internationally bestselling, RITA-award winning, author Karen Rose was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She met her husband, Martin, on a blind date when they were seventeen and after they both graduated from the University of Maryland, (Karen with a degree in Chemical Engineering) they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Karen worked as an engineer for a large consumer goods company, earning two patents, but as Karen says, “scenes were roiling in my head and I couldn't concentrate on my job so I started writing them down. I started out writing for fun, and soon found I was hooked.”

Her debut suspense novel, DON'T TELL, was released in July, 2003. Since then, she has written ten more novels and a novella. Her third novel, I'M WATCHING YOU, received the Romance Writers of America's coveted RITA award for Best Romantic Suspense for 2005. In that same year her second novel, HAVE YOU SEEN HER? was also a RITA finalist.

Her fourth novel, NOTHING TO FEAR, a 2006 RITA finalist, was nominated for Romantic Times Magazine's Best Suspense and for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Book Award for Fiction. Karen's ninth novel, DIE FOR ME, was a RITA finalist for Best Romantic Suspense and won the Romantic Times' Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense of 2007. SCREAM FOR ME (January, 2009) was also a RITA finalist. To date, her books have been translated into eighteen languages.

A former high school teacher of chemistry and physics, Karen lives in Florida with her husband of more than twenty years, her two teenage daughters, a dog and two cats. When she's not writing, Karen enjoys traveling and skiing.

“I love happy endings,” says Karen, “and I think other readers love them, too. Sometimes real life can be overwhelming. It’s nice to escape to a place where you know everything will come up roses by the last page. Reading has helped me during rough periods in my life as well as through times when everything was just a bit hectic. I hope my stories provide a good escape to my readers as well.”

Karen’s characters generally face tough challenges. In DON'T TELL, Caroline is a survivor of spousal abuse. She has Dana, her best friend, to encourage and guide her, but a lot of abused women don't have a "Dana" in their lives. However, there is help out there for this and many other life situations. Karen came up with the idea of LIFE LINKS, a set of links that provide resources of help for a variety of different issues. “Thank God, I've never been a victim of abuse, but I've been in other situations where I needed to reach out for help,” Karen says.

I read DON'T TELL last year and was blown away by it and am really excited to meet Karen in person!

My review of DON'T TELL

I'm going to her book-signing first and in the afternoon I have the pleasure of joining her for an afternoon Tea. I just finished packing my bag and also made room for some of my Karen Rose books for the signing. And hope to get SILENT SCREAM (Karen's newest) at the signing! And I'm definitely going to look for a new copy of YOU CAN'T HIDE to replace the tattered secondhand copy I purchased a few years ago ;)

I'll be back tomorrow (Friday), hopefully with some pics and a wonderful experience, because besides meeting Karen Rose, this will also be my first ever trip to London and I hope to do some touristy stuff on Friday before flying home again.

July 19, 2010

At long last, Kendra Kellogg has found her sister—but she’s no closer to filling the gaps in her past. The magick that brought them together makes them targets for dark mages intent on finishing what started with their mother’s murder.

As if her life wasn’t chaotic enough, in barrels the one thing she doesn’t expect, Max de La Vega. He’s six-and-a-half-feet of cocoa-brown alpha male. He’s strong, intelligent, sexy and intense. Everything she’d wanted in a man. And he scares the hell out of her. Still healing from a disastrous past relationship, she wonders if she’ll ever have that kind of forever.

The next in line to run his jaguar jamboree, Max is unused to hearing “no”. Once he knows what he wants, he assumes he’ll get it. And he wants Kendra. She deserves happiness and it’s his mission to give it to her.

When dark mages attempt to steal her magickal energy, Max’s cat agrees with the man—Kendra is his to protect and he will stop at nothing to keep her safe. She can push him away as hard as she likes, he’s not going anywhere.

Kendra Kellogg is an extremely skillful witch and a teacher. She’s quick-witted and strong-willed, vivacious, straightforward, compassionate and a bit touchy. She’s also a fighter who protects the ones she cares about with fierce determination. Despite her strength and boldness there's an amount of vulnerability to her that softens her and makes her an amazing character. She doesn't quite know what to do with her attraction to Max and his interest in her. In the beginning I was curious about her past, eager to know what had happened with her ex to make her so cautious in her acceptance of Max's courtship. The explanation showed me a Kendra who's a warrior with a yearning to belong, to connect and to be loved, yet free to be whom and what she is.

Max De La Vega is lawyer and a powerful cat shifter. He’s next in line to head up his jaguar jamboree. Maxi is intense, alpha and sleek and smooth like the jaguar he is, oozing confidence without effort. He portrays the broody, dominant alpha male perfectly but he is not overbearing or controlling. He is drawn to Kendra from the very first moment he lays eyes on her.

(…) Max de La Vega. He’s six-and-a-half-feet of cocoa-brown alpha male.

This description of Max in the blurb immediately caught my eye! And I wondered if he was going to be another one for my favorite heroes list? Let me tell you that after reading first sex scene the answer to this question is a wholehearted YES!

I really liked the way Lauren Dane build up this story and the relationship between Max and Kendra. Unlike the quick, almost instant romance and sexual play in TRINITY, this one was more gradual, Max had to work to get Kendra where he wanted. And he took his time, wouldn't be rushed, not even by her. And all the while the sexual chemistry between them is off the charts! It’s sizzling from page one and scorching when they both give into it. Also, as with TRINITY the playful banter and teasing between the main characters is one of the things I liked best in this book. It gave it that humorous feel I adore in my reads. Even during sex they kept the teasing banter going. Loved that!

REVELATION has some of the best secondary characters I’ve read in a while. Max’s dad charmed me, Max’s mom had me in awe and Max’s siblings are a mixed bunch of likeable and unlikeable characters but they all contributed to this awesome book and it’s plot. I was thrilled to see Galen, Renee and Jack again and I absolutely and completely loved the sisterly bond between Kendra and Renee. Their bond was strong despite having spent years apart by the separation their father caused.

I went into REVELATION hoping the cliffhanger TRINITY ended on would be tackled in a satisfactory way and it soon was, though not very early in the story. After the wrap-up of the cliffhanger some developments raised new questions and I was curious to see if how these loose ends were going to be tied up. I was very satisfied with the ending of REVELATION and it left enough open to guarantee enough fodder for another De La Vega Cats book and I’m already looking forward to it even if I don’t have a clue whose book it would be. Gibson maybe? Because this De La Vega brother who is the jamboree’s Bringer (of justice and law) totally intrigued me. He had a scene near the end that definitely put him in my line of vision and I hope he'll find his own stubborn, difficult woman to protect in a future De La Vega Cats installment.

The dialogues, characterization and plot drew me in completely. Once you start reading the easy dialogues set a nice fast pace, the plot keeps you curious for more and the strong characters, both primary and secondary, keep you engaged in a way you don't want to let them go. I loved the way the sexy times alternated with Kendra's back-story (mainly), information on witchcraft and magic(k) and the plot. A plot that had some turns I kind of saw coming and yet they surprised the heck out of me when the things I suspected actually happened. And there were some things in the plot that I really didn’t see coming and also surprised the heck out of me. I like to be surprised!

I couldn’t help but notice that, as with the Federation Series and with the Brown Siblings series, the first book in the series is centered on the m/f/m ménage and the second is a strong m/f relationship. I like that and wonder if this will remain a recurring thing in future (new) series too. It does kind of offer something for everyone. I personally like both tropes, as long as the romance, plot and sex is good…either ménage or plain m/f works for me.

REVELATION totally caught me by surprise and turned out to be an awesome read! The plot and its twists and turns, the characters and their development, the beautiful and at times surprising romance rife with intensity and some very hot sexing, it all came together to create a perfect read and have me desperate for more in the world of the De La Vega cats.

Though I have one complaint, this book is getting the perfect score from me. My complaint? I didn't get that office/desk scene Lauren Dane dangled in front of me through this quote:
Max: "Have I ever shared this recurring fantasy I've had about you, me and my desk?"
If I had gotten that particular scene I would've been very tempted to give this book an 11!

Max: "I walked into the building when I smelled my lovely Kendra. I needed to make my way here to rub myself all over her."

He held a hand out to her, helping her up. “Come on then.” He sighed dramatically. “Clearly, you’re a nympho and need some of my special medicine for it.”

She grabbed his lapels and dragged him closer, tiptoeing up to whisper in his ear. “I want you to mark me again. On the inside of my thigh.” Their energy reverberated, humming, vibrating until she nearly came from it.
“I want to lick you until you say my name. You know how you do it, stuttering, breathless, like a sob. It makes my c#ck hard. Let’s go home right now (…)”

10 out of 10
July 16, 2010

“Tell me what you want. Talk dirty to me.”

Biologist Nora MacGregor is frantic when she loses her dissertation research notes on Female Sexuality —and some very personal written fantasies. Then a sinful stranger calls with a wicked proposition: if she talks dirty to him, he’ll return her notes, page by page. “James” allows Nora to explore her deepest desires and challenges her clinical ideas about sex. But James can’t give her the loving touches she finds in her budding relationship with Dr. Jarod Reed.

Jarod seized an opportune moment to fulfill his desire for Nora by becoming the mysterious James. While the anonymous, erotic phone sessions are unforgettable, Jarod longs to tell Nora he wants more than just talk. But how can he confess his deception without it costing him the chance to make their fantasies a reality?

TALK DIRTY TO ME is the second book in the Dirty Laundry series. The title alone definitely pushed my buttons because anyone who reads my reviews and/or follows me on Twitter knows that I have a soft spot for heroes who talk the dirty…and let me tell you, my expectations of Jarod were satisfyingly met because he definitely talks the dirty and does it well. I am not going to give you a summary of the story as the above blurb efficiently takes care of that. In this review I want to talk about my opinion of this hot little collaboration writing and not rehash a story that you all should just read and experience for yourself! I can tell you that I didn’t read this book; I inhaled it…in one sitting!

Nora McGregor is a biologist working on her dissertation. She’s outspoken and takes life head-on. She’s also smart and tenacious. Her analytical mind hides a woman who craves romance and true love.

Now let’s talk Jarod Reed/James. Jarod is an English professor. He is straightforward, intelligent and has a great sense of humor. He’s a romantic with a wicked sense of naughty. He has shot straight to the top of my dirty talking heroes list. He set the pages and my e-reader on fire! And, despite her initial reluctance, Nora absolutely gave him a run for his money in an almost shy way that’s contradictory to her outspoken nature.

I loved the way Nora was trying to explain her (sexual) reaction to Jarod/James with science and logic, backed up with biology. It was a nice counterpoint for the extremely hot scenes and fun to read. As the story progressed I wondered how the Jarod/James angle was going to be played out, how Nora was going to discover that Jarod and James were the same person. They way the authors resolved this was both smart and very, very hot. I liked it a lot!

Inez Kelley and Ginny Glass write good stuff. Separate they are forces to keep an eye on as I’ve reviewed two books they wrote individually and loved them both but together they just take naughtiness, hotness and wicked dirty talk to another level. I wasn’t able to discern who wrote what without a little help on Twitter from the authors themselves while normally with co-written stories I am able to do so fairly easily, especially when I’ve read the solo work of the individual authors. However in this case the writing was so in tune throughout the entire book, it seamlessly and smoothly entwined together, leaving me guessing as to which scenes were written by whom.

TALK DIRTY TO ME was hot, engaging and fast-paced. The dialogues were sharp, fast and funny. The talk was wicked and dirty, the characters were smart and witty, and the sex was sizzling. This reader pretty satisfied after reading the last page of this novella, which was short but very well written. I have but one complaint about this story and it’s the same one I had about COIN OPERATED (book 1): It’s too damn short! When I reached the end I wanted more of Nora and Jarod, much more, like pages and pages more. I couldn’t get enough of them and their chemistry.

TALK DIRTY TO ME is an enticing piece of erotic fiction and a worthy sequel to COIN OPERATED. It raised the bar a notch for the next installment in this series. A series that’s well on its way to becoming one of my favorite erotic romance series of late. Despite missing some sort of epilogue (just being greedy for more here, see a the paragraph above) in the merely 88 pages this story counted, Ginny Glass and Inez Kelley delivered not only a smoking hot book filled with all kinds of the good dirty, they also gave me a well-rounded, romantic love story that fits perfectly into the Dirty Laundry series. All I can say is: “Ladies, hit me with some more of the dirty stuff.”

Quote from Nora’s notations about her research for her dissertation:
Is it possible to fall in love with two different men for two different reasons? One is smooth, controlled and kisses me until my toes tingle. The other whispers naughty words that vibrate my soul. Both are intelligent and sharp and quick to laugh. I want to tell one my most farfetched dreams and the other my wickedest fantasies.

8.7 out of 10
July 14, 2010

One witch, one cat shifter. Add one wolf. Blend. Safety glasses recommended.

Renee Parcell loves her life. Her smoothie/coffee cart business is successful, and she’s deeply in love with her boyfriend, Galen. He makes her laugh, he’s gainfully employed, and he satisfies her as only a sexy cat shifter can. He even puts the toilet seat down.

Yet they both sense something in the air. An anticipation that leaves them both unsettled.

Tall, blond and gorgeous Jack Meyers, Enforcer of National Pack and one of the most beautiful men Renee and Galen have ever seen, stumbles into Renee’s life and the riddle of their expectation is solved—Renee is Jack’s mate. What surprises them all is when the three of them touch, magick creates an unexpected triple bond of witch, cat and wolf.

Even as they learn to navigate the steamy intricacies of their bond, a threat looms over Renee. First in the form of resurrected memories, then in the shape of darker magicks someone is aiming at her. Set on stealing her inherent powers—even her life.

Renee can stand to lose almost anything, except her mates. But there seems to be no talking them out of laying everything on the line for her…

All kinds of alpha maleness going on up in here and the woman responsible for keeping them in line. Sexin in many varied settings and positions, including sexy times between dudes. Bad words. Tight butts in worn denim. Some violence here and there.

I was enthralled even before starting reading this book. The intriguing premise of a witch, a cat shifter and a wolf shifter combined with the exhilarating Samhain warning were enough to reel me in and Lauren Dane definitely delivered on their promise. This is my very first taste of Lauren Dane's shifter books. I've had her Cascadia Wolves series on my TBR for quite a while but never got around to them. Trinity is a spin-off of that series and though it can be read as a stand-alone perfectly, it definitely triggered me to pick up the Cascadia books very soon. Subtly, effortlessly and seemingly unnoticed Lauren Dane weaves in the intriguing Cascadia back-story through Jack's POV and some secondary characters.

Renee Parcell owns a juice and coffee cart in the metaphysical bookstore/magick shop her stepmother runs. Renee speaks her mind; she’s saucy and independent, strong-willed, tough and very caring of the people she loves. She’s a powerful witch with a strong magic force surrounding her but knows little of her magical background and her father and stepmother's disapproval and denial of magic prevents her from acknowledging it. Later on in the story things come to light that put this in a very different and surprising light and that turn Renee’s world upside down.

Galen de La Vega is Renee's fiancé (in human terms) and imprinted husband (in cat shifter terms). Galen is a Spanish/Jamaican shifter and lawyer. His parents are the alpha couple of the jamboree (jaguar equivalent of a pack). Since Galen first brought Renee home it’s been a struggle to get her accepted by everyone in the jamboree but Galen doesn’t accept their disapproval and sticks with Renee all the way.
Quote: "The sound of his voice was like caramel, thick and sweet."

Jack Anderson Meyers is Renee's other mate, a wolf shifter, Enforcer of his pack, who accidentally bumps into Renee and recognizes his life mate in her. His stumbling into Renee’s world triggers stuff that not only rocks the worlds of both Galen and Renee, but also his own.
Quote: "What a voice. Lazy, redolent with sex, deep."

Both Galen and Jack are fearsome, protective and confident alpha males. I loved how Renee stood her ground and told them off when they did stupid things or were too bossy and overbearing. The set-up of the tri-mate bond between Galen, Renee and Jack was excellently written and I was smoothly eased into the ménage.
I was utterly intrigued by the complexity of the mating/bonding triangle between Galen, Renee and Jack and I was curious how it all was going to work out. And I’m not disappointed at all. That first sex scene was off the charts hot and I could almost feel the emotional intensity. And once again (as in LAID BARE and UNDERCOVER) Lauren Dane made the m/m sexy times work for me because it wasn’t too explicit and the focus point remained on Renee. For any m/m/f ménage to work for me I need the focus to stay on the female and not too much m/m sexy times and Lauren is an author of erotic romance who has never let me down in that.

After the halfway mark there was so much going on, so many questions popping up, my head was spinning! In a very good way. I couldn't read fast enough to find out what the heck was going on! One small thing bothered me. There's a scene with a (verbal) fight between Renee and Jack over something Jack says and I didn't understand Renee's anger and therefore didn't understand the fight or the need for this scene. The scene that followed, offered ample explanation though and was pivotal tot he plot and Renee's character and back-story so I was quickly back on track and even more intrigued then before. At first I couldn't understand the ambiguity in Renee's character: feisty, vibrant, saucy on one side and insecure, low-self-esteem and defending people who are bad for her, abusive even on the other hand. However, this is all explained little by little throughout her characterization and at the end of the book I understood it a little bit better.

I developed an instant dislike for Renee’s stepmother Susan. It had been a while since I had such a violent reaction to a secondary character but I wanted to climb into the pages and kick her toxic ass. And this only got worse and worse the more I read about her. When I came to the end of the book all I wanted to do was punch her in the face. Hard! (I am NOT a violent person, I swear…)

When I started reading TRINITY someone on Twitter expressed that I was so lucky to be reading it so close to the release of REVELATION, its sequel. To be honest I didn't understand the fuss until I reached the last page and was treated to one heck of a cliffhanger. Seriously people, I’m talking the mother of all cliffhangers here! Saying I need to read REVELATION immediately isn't even an understatement. What's bigger than an understatement? Well, that's the word I'm looking for!

TRINITY is comprised of easy dialogues, witty banter, great characterization, clear world building without info-dumps, emotional development and off-the-charts sex scenes. For these things alone lovers of shifter paranormal romance should read Lauren Dane's De La Vega Cats!


She looked up, into his face, met his eyes and smiled. “Did you have a request?”
“My c#ck does and I’m its spokesperson.”

“You’re tense. Not so much now that you think you’re getting some morning sex, but earlier. Your muscles were bunched up.”
“Am I?”
"Bunched up?"
Leaning in, he drew a deep breath, his lips just touching her throat. His system went into overdrive. “Getting morning sex.”
"You’re going to get your junk punched if you don’t tell me what had you all stressed out.”

Their early morning coupling wasn’t about sensuality. It wasn’t a slow seduction. It was hard and fast, bodies meeting, sliding in a slick of sweat, the ache of desire, the spice of their attraction hanging around them. Her nails dug into his sides as she came, her body clasping his with such heated ferocity he had no choice but to give in and climax.

What she felt when he marked her that way wasn’t something she could easily put into words. It was a wedding ring, a declaration of his connection and commitment, it was sexy and caveman all at once, wrapped up in caring. It made her feel cherished and cosseted. Possessed but not owned.

Galen and his mom:
“You’re bloodthirsty.” He smiled, for real this time. (...) “I am. Where do you think you get it? Your papi is mellow. He’s a poet who practices law. Me? I’ll rip throats out and then read poetry."

“Don’t think I can’t feel you two scheming through the bond. And all that hot gay stuff too. That part I like.”

8.5 out of 10
July 13, 2010

When opposites attract, they are screwed three ways from Sunday.

Frannie learned the hard way that a McHottie doesn’t always equal marriage material. Besides, she’s happy with her vanilla life. She has friends, a career and a double-D-powered vibrator. Then Fate shoves her, literally, into Prince Charming’s lap. His declaration of love at first sight is cute—and spikes her bullcrap meter into the red zone.

She’s more than willing to give in with her body. But she’s barricaded her heart behind castle walls—and permanently welded the gates shut.

Tragedy taught Jinx that time is too precious to waste, so when a series of uncanny coincidences thrusts Frannie into his life, he holds on tight. He knows she thinks he’s several fries short of a Happy Meal, but he’s determined to breach the fortress around her heart and give her a Happily Ever After.

Even if he has to carry her fanny-first into his kingdom.

WARNING: Includes jelly shoes, a narcoleptic cat, and meatloaf. The steamy sex scenes may lead to fogged windows and wet panties, so proceed at your own risk. Do not attempt to read without the following items: tissues, napkins for spewed beverages, and a booty call on speed dial.

I discovered Inez Kelley through Carina Press, as she is one of the co-authors of the Dirty Laundry series together with Ginny Glass. Her Carina Press debut was a fantasy romance titled SALOME AT SUNRISE which was offered for review to ROOB and I passed it on to my fellow ROOB-reviewer Leontine as I know fantasy romance is totally her thing and fantasy (romance) and I don’t go really well together.

However as I was looking through Inez Kelley’s website I saw she also had written a contemporary romance (you all must know by now how much I love contemporaries) titled JINXED and this one really caught my eye. I decided to get it and read it on the flight to L.A. As it turned out I did other stuff on the plane (watched movies and read other books) and ended up reading it in the evenings in the first hotel I stayed in.
When I told Inez I was going to read JINXED she offered me two warnings:
1. Your fellow travelers will look at you strangely when you start laughing out loud and
2. Go to the toilet before you start reading because you’ll be peeing your pants with laughter.

Well, her warnings were right on the spot. JINXED is absolutely hilariously funny. It tells the story of Frannie (Frances) Sullivan, accountant and Jinx (Francis) Sullivan, founder and owner of a toy company. Yes, hero and heroine have the same name and for that alone Inez Kelley deserves praise for pulling it off. Frannie and Jinx meet on a flight to the US and for Jinx it’s love at first sight. He sees his destiny in Frannie, a future happiness he once saw slip through his fingers with the love of his life and now having found a second chance at happiness he’s determined to hold on to it. Frannie, however is determined to not be burned by love after marrying whom she thought was her dream-man and seeing her dream turned into a nightmare by a horrible verbally abusive and cheating husband. The harder Jinx tries to convince her they belong together, the harder Frannie tries to deny it and push him away.

Inez Kelly describes this push-and-pull game in a hilariously funny but also very emotionally touching way. I’d be rooting for Jinx on one page and understanding and supporting Frannie on the next. Couple this with Frannie’s narcoleptic cat, Jinx’s first trip to the drugstore to buy Frannie female hygiene stuff, a scene straight from Cinderella put in a contemporary setting and a wedding that went anything but normally and you have one of the most funny and endearing contemporary romances I’ve read in a while. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants and my stomach was still hurting the day after I’d finished the book. But I also cried at some wonderfully emotional scenes where both Frannie’s and Jinx’s pain seeped through the pages and made me want them to work it out and find the happiness they both deserved.

The secondary cast of characters was as wonderful as the leading couple was. Two of them were Frannie’s best friends: her boss Steve and the office manager, Tracey. They brought a small secondary romance and lots of humor to the story and I loved them for it, especially Tracey. Then there was Jinx’s family, a tight-knit bunch of wonderful people and an honorary mention must be made of Frannie’s cats Hocus, who got drunk on a beer Jinx left unattended (…seriously peed my pants with that scene) and Pocus, her narcoleptic cat who’d just fall asleep and keel over on the spot and lie there snoring.

As said JINXED is funny, touching and a great contemporary read that underneath the laugh-out-loud humor, packed an emotional punch that won’t leave you for a while after finishing the book.

9 out of 10
July 12, 2010

After a busy weekend with a lovely visit with my mom on Saturday where I got to tan my legs lounging about in the garden and reading my book and a drive home that was hell, complete with thunderstorms, heavy wind and downpours, a Sunday that was marked by the disappointment of the Netherlands losing the Soccer World Championship final against Spain and a Monday where I was taken hostage by an AWESOME read (more about that in a week or two, as it was an ARC-read) I am finally sitting down behind the computer to announce the winner I picked on Saturday via random.org for Liz Fichera's Guestpost and giveaway of her Carina Press debut CAPTIVE SPIRIT.

The lucky winner is:

Nicole (from Books, According to Nicole)
As some of you may notice Nicole's comment wasn't the third comment of the post but I decided not to count Liz's comments for the giveaway. So, there were 5 commenters, not counting Liz herself and random.org picked number 3, which was Nicole.

I have your email address Nicole and will send it to Liz so she can contact you about your copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT.

Thank you for everyone who participated and thank you, Liz for your wonderful post and your time!
July 9, 2010

Look, but don’t touch…

Leyla Karimi can’t keep her eyes off the hunky guy living in the house behind her. How could any woman resist ogling Dr. Mason Barrett, especially when he makes it so easy by parading around in his skin and skivvies?

If it was only their age difference, she would have made a move a long time ago. Except Mason is more than a neighbor. He’s her baby brother’s oldest friend. It’s not like they can have a casual fling and walk away in the morning.

Mason’s been doing a little lusting—okay a lot—for quite some time. When he catches Leyla peeking, it’s a sure sign she could finally be ready to heat up his nights with loving. One taste of her lips, though, and he doesn’t want a “little” of anything. He wants it all.

Unwilling to jeopardize a lifetime of friendship for a one-night stand, Leyla is reluctant to throw caution to the wind. When he’s kissing her senseless, though, it’s hard to remember all the reasons why she should hold back…

Warning: Contains a hot hero who doesn’t mind baring it all in the name of love, a heroine who doesn’t settle for less, a sweet romance, steamy sex in a car and more good lovin’ in bed.

Leyla Karimi is the manager of a lingerie store. She’s witty, straightforward and has a warm, caring personality. Though true to her beliefs and morals, when at ease she owns her sexuality in a confident way.

Mason Barrett is a resident at the hospital. He’s easygoing, and though he is a laid-back kind of guy, sexually he pulls off just the right amount of dominance and confidence to make him utterly drool-worthy.

Both Leyla and Mason are passionate and have a great sense of humor. They are characters that won my heart from the moment they stepped on the pages and they’re a perfect match for each other. I was very glad that Alisha Rai didn’t allow the characters to linger in the best-friend's-sister, brother's-best-friend, we-can't-do-this phase and they went for it. Also loved how she worked out the angry brother angle. I definitely can't wait to read how Sasha is going to be brought to his knees by love.

There were very few secondary characters. The only one that stuck with me was Sasha, who is Leyla’s baby brother and Mason’s best friend (and the hero of book 2: VEILED SEDUCTION). Frankly, I did not miss any secondary characters, as VEILED DESIRE was clearly a story where the stage was reserved for Leyla and Mason and the development of their romantic relationship.

Alisha Rai’s writing style is easy and fluent. Her love scenes are explicit yet not crude and all through the story a humorous tone can be detected, which I loved. This first taste of her writing definitely left me wanting more and I was happy I had VEILED SEDUCTION waiting to be read immediately after I finished this one.

VEILED DESIRE is one scorching hot little novella! In a mere 79 pages Alisha Rai pens down a surprisingly well rounded story with characters that were fleshed out perfectly. It was both sizzling hot and wonderfully sweet. There are no real conflicts other than maybe the initial hesitance in Leyla to start something with Mason because she is a few years older than he is (just 4 years) and he’s her brothers best friend. There are no plots, just a lovely story of two people falling in love and lust and making it work for all parties involved.

Mentally, Leyla snorted. If she was finding him cooking breakfast erotic, she really hoped she didn't have to watch him do laundry or something. She might pass out.

8.5 out of 10

Even the best-laid seductions can go awry.

Beneath Dr. Maira Khan’s reserved exterior, her heart beats triple-time for only one man: Sasha Karimi. For two years she’s waited patiently for the handsome police lieutenant to wake up and see her as more than a buddy. When he’s injured in the line of duty, though, she realizes time is too precious to waste. Ditching her scrubs—and her shyness—she cooks up her very first seduction.

Sasha’s had a hell of a week. Thanks to the national media, amorous women are pouring out of the woodwork, all wanting a piece of America’s newest “hero”. The biggest disappointment? Maira seems to have contracted the same case of mass hysteria. Betrayed, he pushes her away—but not before he samples a taste of her luscious mouth and body.

It works. Maira retreats, mortified and ashamed. And Sasha realizes he’s just driven away the perfect woman. Now all he needs is a foolproof plan to win her back, starting with a proper courtship—and restraining his lust. Except once Maira glimpses the man behind the uniform, she sets out to show him that pure need has its own ideas about what’s proper…

Warning: Contains a brilliant heroine who knows how to take matters into her own hands, a sexy hero who knows how to win his woman, an awesome full-body massage, a tender romance and sizzling bedroom (and kitchen) shenanigans.

Maira Kahn has loved Sasha Karimi for 2 years but doesn't admit to it until he's seriously injured in a shootout on the job and lands in her ER. When she finally decides to act on her feelings for him, he thinks she's just out to seduce the newly crowned hero, like all of the other women who've come knocking on his door with indecent proposals, and decides to cut all contact with her. But Sasha can't forget her and soon starts to wonder if sending her on her merry way was the smart thing to do.

Maira is an emergency department physician at the same hospital where Mason (hero book 1: VEILED DESIRE) works. She’s cool, calm and intelligent with an incredibly witty sense of humor. She’s also sweet, a bit reserved, almost shy, and very pragmatic.

Sasha is the brother of Leyla (heroine, book 1) and he’s a police officer. Next to being a good guy who is loyal and caring, he’s also dedicated, fun loving and stubborn to the point of hard-headedness. I had a taste of his temper in VEILED DESIRE and was immediately curious to see what kind of woman was going to handle and tame the fiery Sasha. Sasha is a hard nut to crack with his stubbornness and trying to do the thinking for Maira. After Maira sets him straight however, he turns into this adorable romantic man with a sexual confidence that melted the pages!

In VEILED SEDUCTION there were a few more secondary characters than in VEILED DESIRE. I loved the look into Leyla and Mason’s life. Since the end of their book they have married and have an eighteen-month-old daughter Ash (Sasha). It was fun seeing them back and I loved the role they had in Sasha's story. The hotness of this book just went up another notch with an unexpected bonus Leyla and Mason scene!

Two other characters that caught my attention were Maira’s mom, a little pushy whirlwind of a woman who couldn’t be fooled, and Sasha’s colleague, Keiran Harrison. I was ecstatic to learn that the next book in this series will be centered around him as even the small glimpse of him in this one definitely sparked my interest.

I loved this second book in the Veiled series! Alisha Rai writes vivid, likeable characters and her knack for hot sexy time scenes is uncanny! VEILED SEDUCTION is another great friends-to-lovers story and an amazing novella with characters that are perfectly developed. It’s character-driven and emotional and the talented Alisha Rai is one of those rare authors who can write novellas that make me forget they are short. At the end of both these novellas I was thoroughly pleased and satisfied with the stories and their closures while most of the time when I read novellas I am left wanting. Kudos to Ms. Rai for that!

She twisted the faucet off and turned around. And promptly swallowed her tongue. Sasha needed to give a warning and pass out oxygen masks before he went around taking his shirt off.

She moved to get up and pull the covers back, but was stopped by the low growl of Sasha's voice. My, but that sound did funny things to her stomach. "Don't bother. The only thing covering you is going to be me"

8.3 out of 10
July 7, 2010

Back Cover:
Desire is the most dangerous sensation of all.

With tensions between the Federation and Imperial ‘Verses rising, one woman may hold the key to victory. The dangerous mission to smuggle her out of Imperial Territory falls to Daniel Haws and his team, the ultra secret Phantom Corps. This elite squad of the Federation Military is the only one trusted and skilled enough to remove her from under the watchful eye of her father, the Supreme Commander of the Imperial ‘Verses.

Carina is used to wearing a mask. Her father and his men think her little more than a pretty prize to be won by a man more ruthless than the rest. When he announces his intention to marry her to one of his henchmen, a man known for his cruelty, Carina knows she has to move as soon as possible to get out. But getting secret information to the Federation has served her well for years and she appeals to them for help.

She expected rescue from a man who’d been her enemy. But she wasn’t prepared for just how intense her attraction to Daniel Haws would be. Born as adversaries into different ranks, and on the run for their lives, they now need each other to survive–by holding on to the only thing they have in common: a growing desire that is dangerous, irresistible, and insatiable…

Things are heating up between the Federation and the Imperialists and stuff is brewing on The Edge. When Carina Fardelle has to defect to Federation territory with crucial Intel about her father's plans, Daniel, leader of the Phantom Corps, is to head-up the extraction mission.

Daniel is part of an elite team of assassins called Phantom Corps. Recently promoted to leader of the Corps the responsibility that rests on his shoulders is significant. Daniel is an impatient man, which I found a rare trait for an assassin. He is also honorable, intense, capable and protective. I adored Daniel in RELENTLESS because of the way he was open in showing his care for his sister Abbie and his sense of humor. And then the opening scene of INSATIABLE showed undeniably how hard and ruthless Daniel can be when you hurt the ones he loves and I fell even harder for him.

Carina Fardelle is the only daughter of an Imperialist hotshot, the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Universes. She has mastered to perfection the art of pretending to be who she's not and yearns to shed her assumed persona and be the person she truly is, openly and without fear for her life. Carina was a complex character for me. Inside she’s observant, alert, tired of scheming to protect herself, but also feisty and quick-witted and on the outside she’s a spoiled, arrogant, confident, cool and regal princess.

From the moment Daniel and Carina meet and their joint journey starts I was mesmerized by their story and Lauren Dane allowed me to accompany them on their journey. Both Daniel and Carina are characters who complement each other and slowly open up to each other and get more comfortable with one another. As with UNDERCOVER and RELENTLESS the theme of star-crossed lovers, for whom a relationship is made difficult by social standings and differences, runs strong and I loved that. I liked Daniel a lot as a hero. The contradiction of his harsh profession and his caring nature and his gentleness with Carina struck a cord with me. I thought he was perfect for her, putting her on her place when needed but never denying her the freedom to be herself.

Though I really liked Carina as a character, it was also a bit hard for me to get a grip on her true personality because to me she seemed a bit whimsical. I loved her strength and resilience and her empathic and compassionate character despite her background. But she would be strong, smart, sensible and giving Daniel a run for his money one moment and tentative, insecure the next. At times she'd be stubbornly unwilling to listen to what Daniel and the others are telling her for her own good and reminded me of a spoiled child, pouting and stomping her foot to get her way. And then, within a few pages she'd realize her behavior was childish and she'd get a grip and act more mature again. This, for me, is what kept her likeable and away from venturing into selfish.

Because I read RELENTLESS not too long ago, I was very pleased to Abbie and Roman make an appearance in INSATIABLE. Of course, Abbie being Daniel’s sister this was a given but still I really liked the roles both Roman and Abbie played in this book and in this story. Lauren Dane also possesses the talent to have quite an extensive cast of secondary characters in this series and still keep it clear and never giving the reader a feeling the book is too crowded. I think it’s the combination of familiar characters which were introduced in earlier books and some enticing new ones that most definitely are intriguing fodder for future installments in the series, that make the presence of quite a few secondary characters one of the strong points in this series.

In this series Lauren Dane set the bar high with the ménage in UNDERCOVER and a dirty talking hero in RELENTLESS and the self-pleasuring scene which was the first sex scene in INSATIABLE, kept that bar set high as it was followed by some utterly hot and erotic scenes when Daniel and Carina finally gave in to the powerful attraction between them. And though Lauren Dane remains the queen of sizzling, raw, explicit sex scenes in my opinion INSATIABLE doesn't reach the scorching heights of either UNDERCOVER or RELENTLESS in this aspect. Can't give an exact founded reason for it. Maybe it's Carina being a virgin and Daniel's tentative sexual approach of her, always concerned about hurting her and thinking for her and therefore not going full-on and all-out with her. I do know it just felt a bit tamer than the two previous books in this series and hope those scorching, spine tingling scenes will be back in the next installment.

My last little point of comparative criticism is that I missed the fast-paced action I did get in UNDERCOVER (covert op) and RELENTLESS (political stuff). Despite Daniel being an assassin, halfway through there were only two scenes (one of them the opening scene) that were memorable. This, for me took away from the pace and the story moving forward and slowed it a bit. It wasn’t until the last few chapters that the plot action picked up and really hooked me for the next installment of the Federation Chronicles/Phantom Corps series.

Lauren Dane's amazing skill in pairing characters and her ability to write sizzling erotic scenes are enough for me to adore this series and the overall plot arc subtly set-up and laced through the books was luckily redeemed in the last pages of INSATIABLE, something I wasn't too sure of in the middle part of the book.

She was something he couldn’t define, but had become rather essential to his life. They would fall into bed again, he knew it was inevitable, he just needed to hold his c*ck in check until they’d arrived somewhere safe enough to let his guard down. He hoped that was soon; there was only so much masturbation a man could survive without wrist injuries.

“I need you.”
“Knock it off, Carina. You’re hurt. I won’t be gone that long.”
“Now which one of us doesn’t sound sincere?” she teased, reaching down to grab his c*ck.
“You’re hurt! You could have died. Damn it.” He let go of her hand with a groan of surrender.
“I am, and I could have. But I’m here, and I need you. I need to reconnect with you. I need to feel alive. You make me feel alive when you touch me.”
“Your arm.”
“Unless I’m really not catching on to how this sex thing works, you don’t put your penis in my arm.”

“I love you,” she said, because there was nothing else she could say with him so deep inside her, wrapped around her, filling her physically and emotionally.
He touched his forehead to hers briefly. “I love you.”
The sound of it, so quiet but rife with emotion, filled her, up and up, up until she felt as if she’d burst with it. She flew apart, and he rebuilt her, each stroke, each press and pull he made, his body over hers, around hers, inside hers, he was everything, and she never wanted to find a time when that wasn’t so.

“Again with the undoing. Daniel, you are the sweetest man to ever live.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” He swooped in and ended up on top of her, looking down into her face. “I’m not sweet. I’m not good. But I love you so much I’d tear the fabric of the ’Verses apart if you but asked. You’re my mate, my heart and soul, and you remind me I’m a man.” She blinked away tears. “I waited my entire life for you.”

7.8 out of 10
July 6, 2010

Back Cover:
As a teenager, Taige Branch was able to do things with her psychic gift that others couldn’t understand—except for Cullen Morgan, the boy her stole her heart. He did his best to accept her abilities, until his mother was brutally murdered—and he couldn’t forgive Taige for not preventing her death.

Now a widowed father, Cullen Morgan has never forgotten Taige. But what brings her back into his life is another tragic event. His beloved little girl has been kidnapped, and Taige is his only hope of finding her.

Working together against the clock, Cullen and Taige can’t help but wonder whether—if they find his daughter in time—it isn’t too late for the overpowering love that still burns between them…

THE MISSING is the story of Taige Branch and Cullen Morgan. It's told in 2 parts and spans a time-period of 16 years. Part 1 shows us how Taige and Cullen meet and a lovely young love sparkles between the girl of mixed heritage with an extraordinary psychic gift she doesn't want and the handsome all-American boy who comes to her town every summer on vacation. Teenage Paige is very mature for her age, probably because she's always had only herself to depend on and teenage Cullen is sweet, protective and chivalrous.

A breaking point in their relationship is when Cullen's mother is brutally killed and Cullen blames Taige for not being able to prevent it with her gift and they go their separate ways after a heartbreaking scene. I felt so very sorry for Taige when Cullen treated her like he did after his mother's death. I felt he was being unreasonable. Even though I felt and, on some level, understood his pain and loss, it was Taige's hurt that truly broke my heart.

After the first part, which to me was a very cleverly set-up and extensive prologue, the true story starts with part 2. It takes us 12 years down the road and shows us a Taige, who over the years has accepted her gift instead of fighting it and she has trained to control it so she can use it for her work as a civilian consultant with the FBI. Her gift, her heritage and her loss and hurt have turned her into a lonely, tough-as-nails woman who doesn't take crap from anyone. Cullen is a widower and a novelist. He has a daughter and when she is taken it brings them back together as Cullen wants Taige to help him find his missing daughter. He's never forgotten Taige and keeps tabs on her career without her knowing about it. Taige has also never forgotten about Cullen, the only man she's ever truly loved and connected with. He has a prominent role in her dreams, making it impossible for her to forget him. When he asks for her help, she doesn't even think about refusing to help him find his little girl.

Taige will be going onto my fave heroines-list. I admired her strength, tenacity and the way she dealt with life, Cullen and her gift. She's a flawed yet marvelous character. Taige is a fighter. She's not fearless, which luckily keeps her far away from TSTL territory, but she doesn't let her fears hold back her fighting, warrior spirit.

The romance was hot and sizzling and it was a perfect counterpart for the emotionally heavy suspense plot. The development of their love was beautifully written and Shiloh Walker most definitely knows how to write love scenes that burn the pages to a crisp. Cullen and Taige's first time was extremely hot yet realistic and anything but embellished. As I read it we were going through a heat wave that equaled the heat of this particular scene. For Cullen and Taige's rekindled romance to work for me I needed Cullen to atone for the way he treated Taige when they broke up 12 years earlier and apologize for it. Though this was addressed soon after their reunion, I also felt it was a bit brushed over; Taige’s forgiveness was a bit too easily achieved but it was enough for me to make it work.

I loved the paranormal elements in this book. They were subtle enough for the book to remain labeled a romantic suspense and they were embedded perfectly throughout the story. I especially loved the way Taige and Cullen connected through their dreams, even when they were apart for years. But Taige’s and some other character’s gifts (don’t want to name them as not to spoil) were equally impressive to me.

The suspense grabbed me by the throat it was so good. The spin given to the suspense plot was one I didn't completely see coming, though I did guess the identity of the kidnapper/serial killer a while before it was disclosed in the book, because of that spin. The twist was still surprising, intriguing and pleasantly unexpected, bringing the plot up to an even higher level than it already was for me. Once I knew the identity of the killer I was curious to see when and how Taige and Cullen would put the pieces of the puzzle together and Shiloh Walker did not disappoint me there, and gave me enough surprises to keep the suspense plot fresh and thrilling.

I really love Shiloh Walker's writing. It's emotionally intense, the suspense is thrilling and the sex is spine tingling. A three-way combo that hits the right button with me every single time I venture into the books this author writes. THE MISSING is no fluffy romantic book. It's raw, unembellished and covers some harsh stuff involving kids. Still it never felt uncomfortable or pushing the limits. This is something I admire in Shiloh's writing; the ability to broach difficult and hard subjects in a dark and gritty way yet still keeping it within my comfort zone with the story and emotions she weaves around them.

THE MISSING is a bittersweet, raw and emotionally gripping combination of romance and suspense, interspersed with a just enough paranormal to keep it in the realm of the believable and making me want to read the connected book (THE DEPARTED, which I found out will be the story of Taylor and Dez, secondary characters in THE MISSING) as soon as possible, and by that I mean yesterday. Unfortunately Shiloh told me it will be a while before THE DEPARTED will grace our bookshelves, but no worries...I can be patient. (really I can...)

Slowly, he slanted his mouth over hers, using his grip on her hair to angle her head up and back. He didn't close his eyes; after this long he wanted to see her, wanted to see if he affected her the same way she still affected him. Her lashes fluttered over her eyes, and she moaned into his mouth, a hungry, kittenish sound. Slowly, he pushed his tongue into her mouth and gorged on the taste of her.

Cullen: "I plan on seducing you before the night is up, just so you know. I'm going to f*ck you blind, until you can't see or hear or feel anything but me. Then I'm going to make love to you, soft and slow. Then I'm going to start all over again."

9 out of 10
July 5, 2010

Back Cover:
In this erotic universe, passion knows no rank…

Since the first settlers came through the portals from Earth, fifteen Families have held the rule of the Federated Universes in their hands. There’s never been a better time than now to throw out the old and usher in a new order. Give voice to the unranked. Abbie Haws has spent her life battling the system. A fighter, she’s always been too busy and driven to pay much attention to finding love. But when she’s granted audience with Roman Lyons, the head of House Lyons, who stands for everything she hates, her instant attraction catches Abbie off-guard…

It’s common knowledge that the Known Universe revolves around Ravena—and that Ravena revolves around Roman Lyons, bred to lead since birth. Roman dreads his meeting with a defiant—if stunning—rabble-rouser. But, sometimes, headstrong personalities in the conference room make for hot-and-heavy, guilty trysts in private….

Now, Abbie will show Roman the parts of her world he wouldn’t otherwise get to see. And he’ll give her a glimpse of the Families’ age old tradition and unleash a sexuality he’d never given rein to before.

Abigail "Abbie" Haws is the spokesperson for the Movement for Representative Democracy (MRD). She’s a crusader against the injustice of a class-ruled society/world and works as a senior barrister for the Society for the Defense of the Accused (SDA). In her pursuit of justice she’s fierce and ruthless. Abbie is vivid, tenacious, resilient and smart. Her back-story is a hard and emotional one that made me admire her even more for her resilience and strength.

Roman Lyons is the widowed head of the Family Governance Council. He’s restrained by what is socially accepted but he’s also an honorable, passionate and dutiful man. He’s torn between duty and his growing feelings for Abbie whom he can't be with openly without causing trouble for them both in their respective layers of society.

There’s a magnetic pull between Roman and Abbie they both can't seem to avoid or ignore but the class society they live in causes a lot of different complications for them. Their relationship seems impossible and unattainable and I wondered how it was going to work out for them. Their separation broke my heart. Their reunion glued it back together.

The supporting cast of characters was a true addition to the story, both romantically and in the political plot. The bond, support and easy camaraderie between the Haws siblings were great to read. I loved it! And Daniel (Abbie's oldest brother)? I can't wait to read his story. He is Abbie's fierce protector and loyal brother and has a life no one knows about. Abbie knows a little but that doesn't even scratch the surface. There is much to tell there and I am sure Lauren Dane will deliver it with INSATIABLE.

Lauren Dane's writing has a way of pulling me in from the start. Even with the sometimes complicated and intricate world building of the ways of the Families and the legal stuff, undoubtedly her dialogues, characterization and sexual chemistry between the characters stand firmly in the foreground, enthralling and captivating. I loved Abbie and Roman and their story, which was filled with political intrigue, social pressure and definitely let’s not forget a dirty talking Roman who stole my heart.

RELENTLESS is fast-paced, not overly filled with world building, which allowed the story to move along at a swift pace. It’s also hot, very hot but that is old news for readers of Lauren Dane's books because when it comes to hot and sexy writing she dominates the genre effortlessly.

Oh dear gods, she loved dirty talk. Real dirty talk done by someone who felt it. Logan sounded ridiculous when he tried it, but deep inside, Roman Lyons was a very dirty man, and because he owned the words, they worked. Straight down to her toes.

Roman: “I carry this thing between us, like a weight. A good weight, in my pocket. I reach out and hold it from time to time like a wonderful secret. I will always have that. I will never feel this way about another woman, ever. My heart will be yours forever, no matter who shares my bed, no matter whose children you bear, I’m here.” He tapped her chest. “And you’re here.” He tapped his own.

Abbie: “By the way, welcome to the family, Marcus. I’m sorry you thought we were normal. Nyna will make you fat, I’ll weep on you and Daniel will frown you to death.”

8.3 out of 10
July 2, 2010
I would like to welcome Liz Fichera on the Blog today. Her debut with Carina Press, CAPTIVE SPIRIT was released last Monday, June 28 and unfortunately due to a vacation, jet lag and time contstraints I haven't had the opportunity to advance review CAPTIVE SPIRIT but I hope to read and review it soon. In the meantime, enjoy her guest post in which she reveals things about herself in a mini-interview and tells us more about CAPTIVE SPIRIT. And there's a GIVEAWAY. Liz has graciously offered a digital copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT to one of the commenters on this blog. I will randomly pick the lucky commenter on   Saturday July 10th. 

About Liz:

Liz Fichera is an author who lives in the American Southwest by way of Chicago. She likes to write stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends.  CAPTIVE SPIRIT is her debut historical romance novel with Carina Press.  When she’s not busy plotting her next novel, you can find Liz on Facebook and Twitter, dishing about writing, books, hunks du jour, LOST Reruns, and the best brands of chocolate.  Please visit her web site at http://www.lizfichera.com/.

The back cover copy for CAPTIVE SPIRIT:

Sonoran Desert. Dawn of the sixteenth century.

Aiyana isn’t like the other girls of the White Ant Clan. Instead of keeping house, she longs to compete on the Ball Court with her best friend Honovi and the other boys. Instead of marriage, she daydreams of traveling beyond the mountains that surround her small village. Only Honovi knows and shares her forbidden wish, though Aiyana doesn’t realize her friend has a secret wish of his own…

When Aiyana’s father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she takes the advice of a tribal elder: 
Run! In fleeing, she falls into the hands of Spanish raiders and finds herself being taken over the mountains against her will. Now Aiyana’s on a quest to return to the very place she once dreamed of escaping. And she’ll do whatever it takes to survive and find her way back to the people she loves.

First Chapter for CAPTIVE SPIRIT

Book Trailer for CAPTIVE SPIRIT

1. Ashley Wilkes or Rhett Butler?  No contest. My heart will always belong to Rhett.

2. Edward or Jacob? Definitely Jacob. No question.

3. Chips or Chocolate? I’ve never met a chocolate-covered espresso bean that I didn’t love.  Or devour.

4. Favorite all-time book? GONE WITH THE WIND was the first book that I read as a kid where I couldn’t put it down. My older sister lent it to me.  Stayed up for two days and two nights reading it. I’ve probably read it 50 times since then.

5. Please start by telling us a little bit about yourself.  I’m a full-time writer and part-time college writing instructor who found herself in Phoenix, Arizona, after college.  I was born and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.  But let’s just say I never expected to live among cactus, coyotes, and cowboys, but here I am.  And loving it.  I do get back to Chicago pretty often, especially when I need my city fix. 

6. What do you do for fun? Writing is fun for me but when I’m not writing, I like to support local theatre productions in Phoenix.  I also like to run (I’ve got to balance out my chocolate habit!), hike the mountains around Phoenix, and travel when time and money permits.

7. What’s your most unusual travel story? I was mugged in Paris, right outside Notre-Dame.  Broad daylight.  But I’d go back in a heartbeat. 

8. What do you like to write? What genres? I like to write lots of different things, particularly young adult and women’s commercial fiction.  I’ve written contemporary, mysteries, fantasy, paranormal, and now my historical romance fiction debut with CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  Most of my stories, though, are set in the American Southwest oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends.  I like big themes, strong characters, rugged settings and, of course, a love story.  There’s gotta be a love story! J

9. Why do so many of your stories feature Native American characters? I’m drawn to the richness and beauty of Native American culture and legends.  The legends, in particular, are fascinating!  And there are so many stories there, just begging to be written. 

10. Tell us a little bit about CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  What’s the inspiration behind it? CAPTIVE SPIRIT is about a young woman named Aiyana at the dawn of the sixteenth century in the Sonoran Desert.  Aiyana is a Hohokam Indian and it was really some little-known Hohokam history that inspired my story.  The Hohokam Indians lived in the Sonoran Desert from approximately 300 BC to approximately 1500 AD.  Then, one day, they just vanished—they left their pit houses, cultivated fields, burial grounds, ball courts, their whole lives.  And no one knows exactly why to this day.  The book trailer for CAPTIVE SPIRIT shows you some of the Hohokam petroglyphs and Sonoran Desert.  Much of it is still pretty rugged today!

11.  What’s next for you? I’m finishing up a contemporary romance, and I may start a sequel to CAPTIVE SPIRIT this summer.  I can’t seem to get Aiyana and Honovi out of my mind! 

Thank you for your time, Liz. I enjoyed getting to know you more and learn more about CAPTIVE SPIRIT.
And commenters...one of you could win CAPTIVE SPIRIT if you leave a (meaningful) comment before Saturday July 10th.
OMG I think I've never gone this long without posting something on the Blog. I hereby promise to make it up to my loyal readers in the coming weeks! Have a bunch of reviews of wonderful books to come so I hope I can make it up to you with that.

I also want to apologize to the people waiting for the announcement of the #CarinaWeek Winners. I had it all planned and we all know the way even the best laid plans sometimes go. And this one was a textbook example of it. The Carina Week ended the day before I left on my vacation to L.A. and I had this wonderful plan of doing a lot of blogging during the vacation, after all I had wireless Internet in both hotels, I took my laptop and my iPhone...what could ever go wrong? Well, a lot...you can be sure of that...
First the complimentary wireless internet in the first hotel was crap! Then it turned out we had only one electricity socket converter (please don't ask me how this is called officially) that fit the powersupplies of our laptopsand hubby had to work a lot on his laptop in our hotelroom. A laptop with a wonky battery just like mine. So whenever hubby was working in the hotelroom I couldn't do anything one mine and whenever I could, it had to be on the wired internet at an very uncomfortable desk in the room. So there went my plan to blog a lot...right out the window. I'll spare you the heated discussion I had with the hotel frontdesk staff about the wireless internet on my iPhone stuff...It was ugly, that's all I'll say about it.

But next to all this internet stuff there was also a (reversed) jet lag I hadn't counted on. People told me the effects time difference when going TO the US wouldn't be that bad. Well they hadn't counted on Pearl's ornery and stubborn body. I was most definitely effected those first days and would collapse at 7 or 8 PM to wake up in the middle of the night and feel like crap...This wasn't conducive for blogging either...so hence the lack of blogging the winners of the Carina Week and some other blogging stuff I had planned during the vacation.

Then I returned and was determined to post the winners last weekend, as soon as I was home...but nooo..Mr. Jet Lag decided to show me that what I had experienced going TO the US was NOTHING compared what he could do to me returning FROM the US...I have never felt so tired in all my live and Mr.Jet Lag played a real number on me. I am just now, a week after we returned, getting back to feeling my normal self again and the first thing I'm doing is, announcing the winners of my Carina Week.

The Blog winner is :

The Twitter winner is: 

And the winner of an e-copy of THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN by Joely Sue Burkhart is:

Winners, I have your email addresses so I will contact Carina Press and pass on your email adresses for the coupon codes, Stella and D. And I will email Joely Sue with your email adress for a copy of THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN, Elain. 

I want to thank EVERYONE who participated, both on the blog and on Twitter. I had a great week and loved all the comments, support, RTs and hope Carina Press will continue to treat us to more of these wonderful reading experiences. 

Nice to meet you!

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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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GR Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge

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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