March 16, 2011

After a rapid change in management, Natalie Hall is surprised to find that she's being promoted so quickly. But when it becomes obvious that the new CEO is interested in her on a more personal level, she pushes him away -- she doesn't want to repeat her past mistake of giving her heart to the wrong man.

A self-made billionaire, Alex Damon has his own reasons for pursuing Natalie. Her adoptive father, a powerful U.S. senator, is using his political clout to protect his friends the Rodales, who Alex intends to destroy for ripping his own family apart when he was a child. Furthermore, he suspects that Natalie is spying for the Rodales.

What he hasn't planned on is her unflinching sense of loyalty and integrity,
the sizzling attraction between them that threatens to turn into something much more, and the dark secrets that can destroy them both.

Title: Carnal Secrets
Author: Nadia Lee
Series: For now it’s a stand-alone novel but I hope there will be more in this setting and with these characters
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Self-published
Year of release: 2011, March 1
Format: eBook
Source: Received a digital copy from the author for review

First line:
Natalie shook her umbrella, sprinkling cool water droplets everywhere, as she entered Damon Defense Engineering headquarters in Tysons.

Memorable Scene:
- the picknick scene > loved how romantic it was and how well the mood change-moment was brought into it and changed the whole vibe of the scene.

CARNAL SECRETS can be quickly summed up saying it’s a novel about revenge, corporate espionage, a baby scare, horrible family members, a conniving godmother and family secrets. Combine that list of elements with a wonderfully written love-story that’s set up very well and keeps you reading and there you have starting point of my review of CARNAL SECRETS. The hero and the heroine of CARNAL SECRETS are Natalie Hall, a financial analyst and Alex Damon, Chairman and CEO of the company Natalie works for.

Natalie has strong work ethics, is ambitious and a strong woman who tries not to let her female family members’ vicious behavior and remarks towards her get to her. She tries this but underneath her bravado I felt the hurt she felt and the longing to be accepted and loved.

Alex was the typical corporate hotshot. He is a confident and intense man, equally charming and ruthless and on a quest to avenge the wrongdoings against his family. There were things Alex did I didn’t quite like but all in all I loved him as a character and as the hero of this book.

Natalie and Alex were very alike in a few things. They are both masters of self-control and they both are iron-willed. Despite their mutual attraction this also caused them to clash a few time and that gave their romance a very nice tension-filled vibe throughout the book.

I really enjoyed reading CARNAL SECRETS. The start (first chapter) felt a lot like a category romance (Presents/Blaze-like), complete with the corporate setting and the revenge trope. As I went into this read fairly blank I was pleasantly surprised by this and was immediately curious about the rest.

And the rest absolutely did not disappoint. It was the perfect combination of pace, story and details/descriptions. Normally I'm not a fan of descriptive writing but the balance with the dialogues in CARNAL SECRETS was so good I really enjoyed it. Throughout the book, the back-stories of the main characters come across loud and clear without being intrusive with the romance and this is something not all authors that I read achieve easily.

The secondary characters were subtly portrayed and they all contributed to the story and the back-stories. Some I really liked as characters, others I disliked with gusto. There were a few very intriguing secondary characters of which I hope Nadia Lee will have the opportunity to write their story.

In conclusion, CARNAL SECRETS is a rich and layered read, subtle in the sexual scenes but intense in the romance and emotional parts. I really enjoyed reading it and look forward to more contemporary work of Nadia Lee, preferably in this setting/group of characters.

Favorite Quotes:
When he sat across from her, barely enough personal space remained to be polite. She could feel a delicious heat coming off his body, smell a whiff of spicy cologne. Something stirred in her, sexual and dangerous. She stomped on it. This wasn't the time, this wasn't the place, and he definitely wasn't the right man to be attracted to.

She was nothing but a trembling mass of overly sensitized nerve endings. He was ruthless, as if he was trying to brand her as his. And she didn't care. Her brain had ceased to work a long time ago, and there was only her body and its insatiable need for the sensation only Alex could give her.


March 14, 2011
Today I welcome author Nadia Lee to my blog. She's here to talk about a subject that has many international readers in state of desperation as sometimes publishers make it hard for us to purchase and read the English books we want to read so badly. Nadia has written an eloquent and clear post about this and I am proud and honored she decided to share it with you all on my little corner of the web.



About Nadia Lee:
Bilingual former management consultant Nadia Lee ( http://www.nadialee.net ) has lived in four different countries and enjoyed many adventures and excellent food around the globe. In the last eight years, she has kissed stingrays, got bitten by a shark, ridden an elephant and petted tigers.

She shares an apartment overlooking a river and palm trees in Japan with her husband, an ever-changing collection of winter white hamsters and an ever-widening pile of books. When she's not writing, she can be found digging through old Asian historical texts or planning another trip.



Carnal Secrets is her latest work. You can find the blurb and excerpt on her website 
or purchase a copy from All Romance eBooks , Amazon Kindle US , Amazon Kindle UK , B&N Nook  or Smashwords

I read CARNAL SECRETS a few weeks back for review and will post my review this Wednesday. Make sure you come back to read what I have to say about Nadia Lee's lovely contemporary romance...


Take it away, Nadia...

Distribution: the Issues of DRM and Geographic Restrictions


For those of you who know me on Twitter or Facebook are probably aware that I intensely dislike DRM and geo restriction on ebooks. DRM signals "You aren't trustworthy". Geo restrictions signal "Your money isn't good enough to buy this just because you aren't in America (and/or Canada)". Now the latter one is a bit tricky, especially if the rights granted to the publisher do not cover all territories. Publishers can't just make something available all over the world if the contract says, "the U.S. only".

When I walked away from the deal on Carnal Secrets (if you want to read about that, please check out the following blog posts: "Read the Fine Print" [ http://zoewinters.wordpress.com ] and "Walking Away Can Be Hard" [ http://kaitnolan.com ]), I knew I had to do everything alone, and in order to succeed, I had to do it just as well as what the publisher who'd offered would've done, if not better. (If you'd like to know how I approached self-publishing, feel free to check out my guest blog post from last Thursday on Love Romance Passion [ http://www.loveromancepassion.com ].)

With that in mind, I approached distribution with two objectives:


  1.  Make the book available in as many places as possible.
  2.  Make the book DRM-free, geo restriction-free and speech-enabled.



For most authors doing it themselves, the most obvious option is Amazon Kindle. I create a PRC file myself, using HTML, to add the cover, table of contents and so on. (I love getting an ebook with a pretty cover. I'm shallow like that. :-) ) This file gets tested on Kindle for PC and uploaded. I always enable global distribution and opt out of DRM.

(For those of you who don't know this -- Kindle asks indie authors if they'd like to add DRM on their ebooks. So buying from indie authors does not guarantee that your Kindle book will be DRM-free because there are some who believe that DRM is absolutely necessary to stop piracy. *sigh* And this applies to Nook ebooks as well.)

And when we talk about Kindle, we can't not talk about Nook from Barnes and Noble, Amazon's biggest book retailer rival right now. Again, I created an epub file with the cover and all. But what I don't understand about Nook is that even though I opted out of DRM and enabled worldwide distribution, on the actual B&N Nook sales page, Nook books are available for customers in the U.S. only.

If I remember correctly, Nook is not available outside of the U.S. so perhaps B&N decided to restrict Nook purchases to the U.S. only. But for authors interested in making their books available to international readers, it can be a bit frustrating. I sincerely hope that Nook ereaders and ebooks become available to international readers soon.

Anyway, though I always enable worldwide distribution, it makes me unhappy that my readers who live outside the U.S. cannot get my books from Nook, and those who live in other countries (not including Canada or the UK) have to pay extra $2.00 to buy from Amazon Kindle. It seems hardly fair since Amazon pays half the regular royalty for international sales. So authors make less money, and international readers pay more. I ask you.

When I mentioned this to Zoe Winters, she told me to put my books up on Smashwords. It's not as slick as Kindle or Nook, and it pays authors quarterly, not monthly like Kindle and Nook. Books there don't usually come with covers and so on. But it allows for DRM-free global distribution, and international readers don't have to pay anything extra or go through any hassle to get the books they want. In addition, Smashwords has multiple file options (pdf, epub, prc / mobi, Sony, etc.), and readers can always go back and redownload their ebooks. It's extra work to format for Smashwords, but I went to work immediately. I don't believe readers who are already well-served by Kindle and Nook care, but I wanted to give another option for international readers.

Smashwords also pushes books to Apple, Kobo, Sony and Diesel. I have no idea if they apply DRM or geo restrict books there. I hope not, but whatever they do is completely out of my control. (And you thought indie authors had 100% control over everything! Ha!)

Finally, I put my books on All Romance eBooks (ARe). I like their interface and reporting tool, and I don't believe they add DRM or geo restrictions. But I honestly have no idea how easy it is for readers to use ARe. I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on this.

Now that I've shared the process behind distributing ebooks as an indie author, it's your turn: Who's your favorite ebook vendor? Why do you buy from there? What do you wish ebook vendors did differently?

Also, for those of you interested in the cover art process, please stop by Monkey Bear Reviews ( http://www.monkeybearreviews.com ) tomorrow. I'll be discussing creating a cover with non-white characters. :-)

Nice to meet you!

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Pearl
Netherlands
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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