The Gingerbread House by Carin Gerhardsen reviewed by Chris

The Gingerbread House by Carin GerhardsenTitle: The Gingerbread House
Author: Carin Gerhardsen
Series: Hammarby Series #1
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: June 30, 2013
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Copy

Nordic Crime’s succession in the United States undoubtedly owes something, if not everything, to the popularity of the Girl with Dragon Tattoo. This also is a problem. It almost seems as if every Nordic thriller has to be drawing from that damn series for some reason.

This book isn’t any different, and that’s its problem.

The writing in terms of style, structure and verve is great. Almost engrossing. There is even a refreshing character twist in the lead detective being a happy family member with a loving wife and kids. Then is even a nod to racism in Sweden (apparently, it becomes more like a lecture and you feel like you are witnessing a PC lecture about the Middle East).

Except, it really isn’t any different.

The idea of an abused student getting revenge isn’t anything really new, and the twist that comes towards the end is something that many readers will either feel as a sucker punch or a cop out. But even that isn’t the major problem I had with this book.

My problem was the victim gender ratio.

With the exception of the first victim, all victims in this book are woman. Furthermore, the crimes against them are described in greater detail and are far more sexual in the description. This includes the female police officer who is only police officer who does not seem to have stable relationship.

Honestly, all women as victims, even victims who do address and move beyond the crime in a mystery is rather trying especially when the majority of those who in the book, who have happy, normal lives are all men. It’s not the violence against woman shouldn’t be represented in mysteries. It should be and it is a sad facet of life. And yes, woman police officers are just as at risk as the rest. It’s getting to a point, however, that every time the woman is a victim, it is a sexual perverted attack which is described in great detail as well as the aftermath of said attack. Usually, these women also are connected to sex in some way, be it a natural sexually or their job. Why is that in fiction? I do not know the percentage of women who are killed in a sexual sadistic way. But books like this as well as shows like Criminal Minds, seem to imply that the minute a woman steps outside of the bathroom, she is at risk of rape and murder. While shows like Law and Order: SVU might also be jumbled in, it should be noted that such shows as SVU do tend to have a good ratio in terms of gender, and SVU deals with the aftermath of attacks as well as fighting against stigma attached to rape. Furthermore, SVU makes it a violent crime that is not voyeuristic.

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Skygods by Sarah Latchaw reviewed by Lisa

Skygods by Sarah LatchawTitle: Skygods
Series: Hydraulic #2
Author: Sarah Latchaw
Pages: 352
Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Source: Publisher

Kaye Trilby and her ex-husband, world-famous author Samuel Cabral, vowed to fight for their rekindled love in rain or shine. They didn’t realize they’d be caught in a deluge so quickly.

A near-fatal skydiving accident shows Kaye how her reckless behavior affects the ones she loves. But while she knows Samuel is afraid to lose her again, she isn’t ready to give up the thrill of the wild backcountry.

Something darker is slipping into Samuel’s mind, though. Just as all of Hollywood is bracing for his blockbuster book-to-movie adaptation, his polish seems to be deteriorating. When he appears on Kaye’s doorstep late one night in a rumpled tuxedo, erratic and agitated, it seems that romance with her ex might be her biggest leap yet. A string of failed relationships has pushed Samuel to the brink, the fall-out leaving him in a dark place—a place where Kaye is powerless to help him. She is reluctantly drawn back into Samuel’s glittering and backbiting world of celebrity, all the while clinging to the steadfast peaks of home.

Can Kaye risk her heart with Samuel a second time? Will they ever find their blue skies?

Author Links

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I received an advanced copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

”The heart wants what it wants.”

I’m always a little hesitant going into the second book of a series because I’ve been let down so many times in the past. I’m always thinking will it live up to the first book’s hype? Will it come at me as strongly as the first? Will I be let down yet again and begin to hate characters that have become so dear to me? I always hope not. Luckily- and thankfully – this was not the case with Skygods.

Like last time, I was captivated from the very first page and found myself engrossed with the story and continuously reading all through the night. I made sure that I finished it all in one sitting because it’s just the type of story that doesn’t let go once its got its teeth into you. It is an emotional roller-coaster because you go through a gamut of feelings from happy to sad and frustrated and sad again to happy again.

Skygods picks up where Hydraulic Level Five ended. Kaye and Samuel have decided to start anew with their relationship and everyone is trying to regain their footing and tread lightly with their second chance. They don’t want to make the same mistakes that they did before, but also because things are a lot different now than when they were together. Samuel is a famous novelist and one of his books has been made into a film so he has become a celebrity in a sense. Kaye is still her strong and brash self as ever, but I really like her as a heroine. Although this time around her daredevil ways may have gotten her into more trouble than she bargained for and it makes her reassess her life in general.

What I enjoyed about this story was how we got to see more from Samuel’s side of things. He’s not had it easy and we get more in depth of how things spiraled out of control for him long ago and how he’s able to deal with everything now. While Hydraulic was melancholy most of the time it was still humorous due to the pranks they played on one another. This time around there wasn’t that much craziness – for me – but it was still a highly enjoyable read.

Latchaw writes really great contemporary with a bit of drama and romance thrown in which I’m sure quite a bit of readers will love. She writes really strong characters and her storytelling skill is rather top notch. Skygods was a page turner from start to finish with an emotional and touching story of second chances and love renewed.

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Release Day Launch: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre


BUY LINKS:

Read the First Chapter HERE!

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I WANT IT THAT WAY Synopsis:

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, dating’s the last thing on her mind. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, the last thing he wants is noisy students living in the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

“A tender, sweet, and sexy story about how life—and falling in love—can never be planned.”
—Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wait for You

I Want It That WayEXCERPT:

   “Where are you from?”
   Ah, an actual question. That means I can ask one back.
   “Nebraska, toward the South Dakota and Wyoming side, if that helps.”
   “I’ve never met anyone from there.”
   Michigan was a long way from home. “I usually get ‘not in Nebraska anymore’ jokes, and then I have to decide if I’m going to remind them that’s Kansas or play along.”
   “What do you usually do?”
   “Play along.”
   “You don’t like conflict, huh?” He sounded normal tonight, as if talking to me wasn’t an unpleasant chore anymore.
   That was a relief since I’d come to look forward to these moments with him so much. More, maybe, than I’d like to admit.Right. Friends. I distracted myself by considering his question. “Not if it can be avoided. I’m not what you’d call pugnacious, no. But I like to think I don’t back off important issues. What about you?”
   “No.” His voice was bleak and quiet. “I don’t. Even when I should.”
   Wow, that took a dark turn.
   If I could’ve jumped onto his patio without breaking an ankle or waking Sam, I’d have been down there like a shot. The distance between us seemed intolerable, and from the knot in my throat, I didn’t see how I could live another second without touching him, finding out if his hair was as soft as it looked or what he smelled like. I wanted him in a way I never had before.
   In high school, I had a boyfriend who played basketball, and we broke up when I left the state. It was a rational decision, and I didn’t miss him that much once I was gone. My freshman year, I went out with a lot of different guys, one date here, two dates there, but I never clicked with anyone enough to focus on them. Sometimes there were hookups with no strings, no expectations. Classes, friends and work seemed a lot more important. The intensity of this attraction was foreign and frightening, if exhilarating. I might already be backing off if I had the faintest sense that Ty was jerking me around on purpose.
   Wish he didn’t make me feel this way. It’d be so much simpler if I could friend-zone him.
   I realized I still hadn’t touched his verbal grenade. “We all have things we’d do differently in hindsight.”
   “What is it about you?” he asked in a wondering tone.
   “Huh?”
   “You make me…better. Calmer.”
   “Like a sedative?” I snickered. It was the least sexy thing a guy had ever said to me, including a junior high squeeze who said my face wasn’t actually that bad.
   He laughed, too, a sheepish sound. “I didn’t mean it like that. Just…I’m worried pretty much all the time that I’m dropping the ball somewhere, about to face-plant, but when I come out here and hear your voice, everything backs off like ten steps. I can breathe again.”

Author Ann AguirreAbout Ann Aguirre:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.

Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads
Newsletter SignUp | I WANT IT THAT WAY on Goodreads

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Uninhibited by Melody Grace reviewed by Heather

Uninhibited by Melody GraceTitle: Uninhibited
Series: Beachwood Bay #4, The Callahans #2
Author: Melody Grace
Release Date: Publisher: Melody Grace Books
Pages: 100 pages
Source: NetGalley

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

A couple of months ago I was given the opportunity to read Unrequited, the short novella that introduces you to the world of the Callahans. When I knew this book was available to read and review, I jumped at the opportunity and was thrilled to be approved.

Alicia Wright has been pining over her best friend for years without telling him. The only thing is, he’s about to marry someone else. When sexy former rock star Dex Callahan gives her the opportunity of a lifetime, she can’t resist. He offers her one week with him…no rules, no limits. Dex is trying to help Alicia forget all about the guy she’s in love with, but he’s also trying to forget things too.

I absolutely loved Dex. He was sexy, charming, and a dirty-talker, which I love! While their relationship developed quickly, with this one I didn’t mind. I didn’t want this book to end! I would love to read more about Dex and Alicia so hopefully they’ll make appearances in the later books of the series. I have become a fan of Melody Grace and I eagerly await any further books she writes because I know that I will love them just as much as this one.

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Spotlight: Highland Burn by Victoria Zak

Highland Burn by Victoria ZakTITLE: Highland Burn
SERIES: Book one Guardians of Scotland
AUTHOR: Victoria Zak
GENRE: Scottish medieval paranormal romance (shifters)
PUBLICATION DATE: July 22 2014
LENGTH (Pages/# Words): 186
PUBLISHER: Victoria Zak
COVER ARTIST: Z creations

Will Love’s Flame Quench the Dragon’s Fire? …

The past never stays in the past, it rears its ugly head eventually. James the Black Douglas knows this all too well. With a past that has left him vengeful and his dragon blood thirsty, his reputation as a ruthless warrior haunts his enemies in their sleep. As his allegiance stands with Robert Bruce, the King of Scotland, he must now repay a debt to the king and agrees to marry his daughter, Abigale Bruce. The problem is he doesn’t want a wife. When flames start to burn out of control between him and the auburn-haired lass, he must decide to either kindle the flames of passion or shelter her from the truth and set her free.

It’s What Shines in the Dark That Brings Forth Your True Light…

Determined to keep his daughter safe and out of the hands of the English, Robert hides Abigale behind the safe walls of a nunnery. After eight long years of living her life in seclusion, Abigale is finally set free. But her new found freedom comes to an abrupt halt when she learns of her betrothal to the infamous Bogeyman – James the Black Douglas. She soon finds herself falling in love with the uncontainable and haunted man. Is her love enough to soften his hardened heart?

BUY & TBR LINKS
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EXCERPT
Chapter One

   “Fergus, the water is verra refreshing. Why don’t ye join me?”
   The white stallion inhaled deeply then snorted, as he ate from a patch of lush green grass.
   “Well, ye dinnae have to be rude about it.”
   Long white hair with streaks of gray fell over his muscled neck as the fine steed shook his head and stomped his hoof. He pulled on a blade of grass, indicating that he was perfectly content grazing near the loch’s edge.
   A slight giggle escaped her mouth as she splashed at her horse.
   Abigale Bruce had ridden hard and fast through the glen most of the morn. Since her father’s recent successful victory over the English at the battle of Bannockburn, Abigale had been freed from the nunnery. Her excitement of finally being able to explore her new-found freedom was too much to hold back as she charged through the forest. Now she rewarded Fergus with a patch of grass while she cooled off in the loch. Oh how she cherished these moments; they were few and far between.
   Eight long years at Dunfermline Abbey wasn’t the ideal place to grow up, but she had no choice in the matter. Her father, Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, had placed her there in order to keep her safe from his enemy, the English. Throughout her time at the Abbey, King Edward, the King of England, had gotten close to capturing her a few times, but the small secretive community of nuns had held true to their oath and kept her hidden well.
   Unhappy about the newly crowned King of Scotland, the English had captured Abigale’s step-mother, half-sister, and her two aunts, and had also beheaded three of her uncles. Humiliated, held prisoner behind iron bars of a bird cage, and hung from the Tower of London had been the women’s fate. Even though her freedom was taken away, Abigale knew it was nothing compared to what they had endured.
   Abigale’s trouble had started as soon as she walked through the gates of the abbey. Robert Bruce had given Dunfermline Abbey a generous contribution to repair part of the church that had been attacked by King Edward. In return he requested that Abbot Benard take his daughter in and protect her. With such a gracious amount of coin given, the Abbot could not refuse. Therefore Abigale, at the wee age of ten, had been left at the abbey and placed in the cruel hands of Abbess Margaret.
   Since Abbess Margaret was in charge of twelve nuns, she declared she had not the time to look after the wee brat, so she left Sister Kate in charge of Abigale. Abbess Margaret was a beautiful middle-aged woman with short, raven hair, and possessed the ability to inflict the cruelest of punishments. She watched and waited for Abigale to slip up so she could take pleasure in punishing her. Abigale knew why the woman hated her; she was jealous and thought it unfair that she had special treatment just because she was the king’s daughter.
   Abigale was afforded a few exceptions to the rules. Because of her lack of interest in taking the vow to become a nun, she didn’t have to cut her hair like the other sisters. Furthermore, she could marry, and own property. Although there was one rule that had to be followed; she had to be obedient. And Abbess Margaret took great pride in punishing a disobedient Abigale. Sending Abigale on a daily pee pot cleaning always seemed to make the corners of her thin lips twitch. “Ye’re no princess, a bastart child who her own father has abandoned.”
   After a few missed visits from her father and daily tongue lashings from Abbess Margaret, Abigale started to feel pushed aside and abandoned, yet her spirit held firm.
   Sister Kate had kept a watchful eye on Abigale, keeping her work-load full so she would stay out of trouble, but trouble seemed to follow her wherever she went as if she was born into it. Abbey life wasn’t the life for her. She grew to hate the prayer bells, for they rang eight times during the day starting at the wee hours of night. The blasted bell would ring either when she was sound asleep or assisting a monk in surgery. More times than not she was late to prayer and being tardy was frowned upon. The consequences were harsh, in fact they were harsher than falling asleep during worship. Abigale knew this all too well; she had fallen asleep in a choir stall one night. Sister Kate had been the circator that night, pacing up and down the aisle as she shined her bright cresset lamp into the stalls checking if anyone had fallen asleep. A sharp point with a stick to her ribcage had woken Abigale up quickly. Of course she got a rap on the legs for that one. Thank God it was Sister Kate, for she showed her mercy.
   Now that she was home, her father was more than ever adamant about keeping his family safe. He vowed to never allow another Bruce woman to be captured by the filthy Sassenach. Just as Abigale thought she’d regained her freedom, here she was once again with it ripped away from her by an arranged marriage to her father’s first in command. Who better to protect her than the Bogeyman himself?
   Trepidation crept over her, sending a shiver through her body as she thought about the man her father had arranged for her betrothal. “The Black Douglas,” she thought. A man with a reputation that would make the Devil himself shudder with fear. A ruthless warrior who had fought in many battles with her father. The English feared him terribly, making up nursery rhymes warning their wee bairns to “hush before the Black Douglas will get ye”. She’d never met the man before, but the deal was done. Her father had arranged the marriage and Abigale was to abide by his orders.
Abigale turned to Fergus who was chewing on a blade of grass. “At least ye don’t have to marry the Bogeyman.” She shuddered. Saying it out loud made it all too real.
   For a moment she wondered just what the Black Douglas would look like. Could her father be so cruel as to wed her to an evil, battle-worn old man? Nay, who could possibly be scared of an old man? Then again, a warrior’s reputation lived on even after death. Or mayhap he really was a monster of some sort, a mythical creature of the night that lurked under your bed waiting to nip at your heels. Abigale was letting her imagination get the best of her. Shaking those thoughts from her head she dipped down into the coolness of the loch, washing away every bit of worry. Today was her day and she was going to enjoy the peace that the loch gave her before it was taken away from her.
   Coming back up she lay her body out flat to float on top of the water’s surface. Her light linen shift clung to her petite body, long dark auburn hair spread out and floated with the ripples of the water. Closing her eyes, she opened her arms out wide allowing her fears to fall from her body and sink to the bottom of the loch.
   A snapping of twigs alerted Abigale that she wasn’t alone. Quickly she dipped her body down into the water to hide from what was lurking in the woods. Panic pricked up her spine as she searched the glen’s wooded edge for some kind of movement. Nothing… no movement at all. It must be a small animal frolicking through the thicket. Another snap. This time it sounded too close and too loud to be a small animal.
   Abigale turned and faced Fergus.
   Ears pointing in the direction of the snapping sound, Fergus let out a gut deep neigh.
   “Ye heard that too?” she whispered, trying not to draw attention to herself. Abigale slowly moved toward the water’s edge, not making a sound. The last thing she needed was to be attacked by a wild animal or worst yet… a rogue Highlander.
   Dripping wet and cold, Abigale stepped out of the water and headed straight for the huge boulder covered in green moss where her dress and her dirk lay. If instincts had taught her anything, it was to never let your guard down and never leave home without your dirk.
   A third snap sounded like it came from behind her and way too close. Taking a steady breath, she grabbed her dirk and spun around to meet her attacker face to face. Lunging the blade forward she pointed it at his throat, the tip inches away from piercing it.
   “Och lass, I will no hurt ye.” A massive six-foot-four man with vibrant amber eyes stood before her with his hands up in surrender.
   Abigale arched a dark brow over deep blue eyes. “How do I know I can trust ye?”
   “I have no weapons on me… frisk me if ye dinnae believe me.” With a sly grin he turned around with his arms in the air inviting her eyes to gaze upon every inch of his muscular body.
   Abigale took him up on his offer, for she could not will her eyes off him if she tried. Following his every move, her body became alive. Her hands began to itch as she thought about running them down the corded muscles that lined his abdomen. Hulking arms shimmered in the sunrays as if they had been kissed by the sun and she wondered how his arms would feel wrapped around her body. As he turned around, long black hair hung over his big broad shoulders and stopped at his shoulder blades. His lower back tapered in to a firm backside which was covered in a black and gray plaid. Funny… she had a sudden urge to squeeze his buttocks. God could not have forged a more perfect man, she thought.
   Being ten-and-eight, innocent, and sheltered behind the walls of the nunnery, she hadn’t had much of a chance to explore the ways of men. In fact if she wasn’t praying, she was in the infirmary mending men severely wounded from battle, or ill. Sister Kate’s nagging voice reminded her that “Ye only have room for one man in yer heart and He would never steer ye wrong.” Only if Sister Kate could see this man standing before her now, even she would blush.
   “Ye should no be sneaking up on me like that.” Abigale lowered the dirk, but still kept her grip tight.
   The alluring man crossed his massive arms in front of his bare chest. “I was taking a rest while out riding when I saw ye over here. Ye know a bonny young lass like yerself should no be oot alone without an escort.”
   “I can take care of myself just fine.”
   “Aye, I can see that.” He rubbed his throat.
   She stood shivering from the cold or mayhap from the intensity of his gaze; she needed to retrieve her clothes before she caught her death. Then she remembered that she was wearing a thin shift. Surely he could see right through to her naked body? Quickly with her free hand she tried to cover her breasts and still have some dignity. “Would ye kindly turn around now so I can dress?” She motioned with the dirk for him to turn around.
He turned, giving her privacy to dress. “That’s a fine horse ye have there,” he said over his shoulder.
   Abigale finished dressing and began to smooth the wrinkles out from her dress with her hands. “That’s Fergus, he’s a gift from my da. A true warhorse.”
   Of the few times her father had come to visit her at the abbey, and there were only a few, she remembered the day when he had brought Fergus to her as a gift. A gift perhaps but more like a peace offering for being absent for over a year. Abigale forgave her father, and the white charger quickly became more than a horse, he was a friend.
   “Ye may turn around now.” As Abigale glanced up, her heart skipped a beat as amber eyes pierced her, sending a rush of heat through her body. She licked her lips and struggled to swallow past a dry throat. How could this man, who she had never met before, make her hunger for something that she had not yet had? Feeling uneasy, she broke their stare and quickly searched for her shoes.
   “Are ye a Highlander?” What kind of a question was that? Of course he was a Highlander… that was a plaid he wore. Way to go, Abigale Bruce, he must think I’m a real dunderhead.
   “Why do ye ask?”
   “That is a plaid ye wear? “Abigale leaned against the boulder and bent down to slip her shoes on.”
   “Aye.”
   “Then ye must be a Highlander.”
   Indeed the ways of Highlanders were much different from the English-influenced ways of lowland men like her father. Still both parties had fought for Scotland until the crown and riches were in their grasp. Some would say that greed was the root of all evil. Abigale thought differently. The crown was the root of all evil. Men fought for it, killed for it, and sold their souls for a taste of the crown and the power it held. The crown grew evil in men and she knew that all too well because it was her father’s own greed for the crown that left her abandoned at the abbey.
   The unsettled nature of Scotland had left Abigale hardened. She’d seen firsthand the aftermath of battles fought; mended wounds, prayed over dead bodies, and even buried the dead. The nunnery where she grew up would set up tents to aid those wounded in battle. Abigale would assist in surgery and her passion grew for healing the sick and mending wounds. Life was to be valued, not destroyed.
   In a way she blamed Lady Scotland for her misfortunes. Her father’s growing need to fight for Scotland had caused her to stay hidden, conceal her true identity, and grow up without a family. Her whole family had been affected by the battles fought for Scotland and the greed of claiming the crown. Though it was true she had long forgiven the Lady; she could not forget.
   The Highlander seemed far away in thought, because he took a while to answer. “Some would say I’m a Highlander.” He approached Abigale. “May I?” The beautiful stranger reached for a piece of hair that was stuck to her face and tucked it behind her ear. He brushed a callused finger down her cheek to her slender neck leaving a fiery path trailing behind.
   He held her stare and captivated her to the point that she could not form a coherent thought. Her body was no longer hers to control, her heart dropped, and desire pooled in her core setting her body on fire. This Highlander was so close to her she could feel his breath on her skin, she could smell his masculine scent and soon she wanted to taste his lips.
   The mysterious man lowered his head, cupped his hand behind her neck, and pulled her close to him to claim her lips. Abigale drew in a deep breath in anticipation when suddenly a nudge from behind broke her trance. She turned to find Fergus.
   “Fergus!” she scolded. “What’s gotten into ye?”
   Another nudge by a wet gray muzzle almost sent Abigale to the ground until strong arms caught her around the waist. “I got ye lass,” he whispered in her ear.
   For some odd reason the deep rich tone of his voice soothed her. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and leaned back against the warmth of his body. Wait… what was she doing? Abigale Bruce, you are to be married.
   Quickly she slipped away from his hold and began to gather up the leather reins. “I should be getting back.” Observing the stallion’s actions, it was clear to Abigale that Fergus did not approve of the stranger.
   Jumping up on the back of Fergus, she turned to face the Highlander. The man rubbed the back of his neck as if he was thanking the white horse for saving his arse from making a huge mistake.
   She dared one last look at him before she rode off into the glen back to her father’s castle where she would prepare for travel to Castle Douglas and marry the Bogeyman. Her eyes roamed his massive body sketching everything about him to memory; his striking amber eyes, strong masculine jaw line, and the way his eyes strayed over her body. She did not want to forget this man.
   If only she did not have to go. Mayhap she could run away with this beautiful man and avoid being married to a monster. Deep down, she was drawn to this mysteriously intriguing, charming and pure male Highlander. He made her think that for once she could be in control of her life and make her own decisions. In a way she envied his freedom. It did not seem fair that she had to marry a man who her father wanted her to marry. Shouldnae one marry for love? But then again, he was a stranger… a mystery. Before she ran away with fantasies she knew better than to think of, she squeezed her legs, sending Fergus into a run. She had to marry the Bogeyman.

Author Victoria ZakAUTHOR BIO:
Victoria Zak lives in the sunshine state with her husband, two beautiful children, and three furry friends. Before having kids, Victoria spent fifteen years in the veterinary business and volunteered in pet rescue.

“One of my most rewarding jobs was finding unwanted animals their forever homes.”

A writing career was the last item listed on her bucket list, until she discovered that she wanted to put her stories on paper and breathe life into her characters. Her love for Scotland, curiosity of history, and passion for romance has inspired her to write her first book, Highland Burn.

“Fourteenth century Scotland was a fascinating time in history. Not only was Scotland fighting for their freedom from the English king, their own people fought each other; clan vs clan. Though being a woman of the twenty-first century, I wouldn’t want to live in those unsettled times. But writing historical fiction paranormal romance allows me to escape into their world and breathe a fresh air of romance and magic into that era, which I love to do.”

Victoria loves to hear from her readers. You can connect with her through FB, Twitter, G+, and her website

AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS:

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The Conjurer by Cordelia Frances Biddle reviewed by Chris

The Conjurer by Cordelia Frances BiddleTitle: The Conjurer
Series: Martha Beale Mysteries #1
Author: Cordelia Frances Biddle
Release Date: June 17, 2014 (Kindle Edition)
Publisher: Open Road Media
Pages: 319
Source: NetGalley

Ah, a mystery set in my hometown of Philadelphia. True, it is the 1800s so it is not quite the same city, so what the hell.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I found the mystery in and of it gripping, but the characters as opposed to the plot were simply there. It was hard to feel anything for them. And quite frankly, Martha, the heroine, while not unlikable is hard to feel anything for outside of, perhaps, a vague annoyance. Perhaps this is because she is such an outsider. The idea of an Old Maid (relatively speaking, she is only 26) functioning on her own in the 1800s is interesting. It’s just hard to root for her when one of the bad guys is so blatantly obvious and so set up from the beginning to be the bad guy. This doesn’t make the story, in terms of the mystery itself, any less interesting, but it does make you want to smack Martha Beale at some points. Then you feel guilty because you want to smack her.

Beale’s character is problematic not because she is a modern woman in 1800s Philadelphia, but because she is a woman of her time who has led a somewhat sheltered existence. She is believable for the time period. She fits. And strangely this problem because while she fits, the modern woman has a slight problem with her passiveness. Her father kept her well educated but too sheltered. There are hints that he either didn’t want to force her into a loveless marriage or didn’t want to be alone – an intelligent analysis of the relationship. But while Martha is sheltered, she is well read. This conflicts with her lack of knowledge in some places. This might be excused by a lack of friends, but then why does she care about society if she isn’t a member of it and doesn’t want to belong? It’s a little conflict, and while we as humans are walking examples of conflict and hypocrisy, it is hard to get a feeling of Martha when she feels like two separate characters all the time.

The supporting female characters actually fare a bit better. One does want to know the outcome of Ruth’s story and the sequence involving Eastern State Penn is a stand out in this book. The conflict of class and society are interesting and there is evidence of influence of Austen and Dickens. There is a strong sense of place and the book is at times gorgeously descriptive. It is worth reading simply for the supporting characters if nothing else.

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Blog Tour: Sleeping with the Boss

Seducing the enemy has never been so tempting…Sleeping with the Boss by Marissa Clarke
Book Title: Sleeping with the Boss
Series: Anderson Brothers Book #1
Author: Marissa Clarke
Release Date: August 11, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLP
Imprint: Lovestruck
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 1622664256 (ISBN13: 9781622664252)
AISN: B00G8BTRWM

Book Synopsis:

Former Marine investigating corporate espionage within his family business falls for the number one suspect…

For the last five years, bookish Claire Maddox has been living for the dying. Now that her stint as caretaker is over, she’s off to see the world. She needs quick cash first, so a temp job at Anderson Auctions seems perfect, especially with the unexpected benefits, including the hottest man she’s ever laid eyes—or hands—on.

Former Marine William Anderson has been burned one time too many. His military training makes him the perfect man to flush out the spy undercutting his family business, but no amount of training can prepare him for the kind of undercover work he’ll have to do when the sexy new temp is implicated. Desire lands them in bed…but duty may cost him his heart.

Author Marissa ClarkeAuthor Bio:

Marissa Clarke lives in Texas, where everything is bigger, especially the mosquitoes. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, husband, and a Cairn Terrier named Annabel, who rules the house (and Marissa’s heart) with an iron paw. Marissa Clarke is a pseudonym. Her real name is Mary Lindsey and she also writes young adult novels for Penguin USA. (www.marylindsey.com

She loves to connect with readers and can be found at www.marissaclarke.com and on Twitter at @MaryL_MarissaC

For updates and insider information on Marissa’s upcoming books, subscribe here.

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Industry Blurbs

“Will Anderson can be my boss any day. Marissa Clarke is a master at mixing sexy and mystery.” – Jennifer L. Armentrout, # 1 New York Times bestselling author

“Sexy, smart, fun! A fabulous new voice in contemporary romance!” – Sophie Jordan, New York Times bestselling author

Reader/buy links

Goodreads Book Link | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Entangled Page

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Excerpt

Chapter One
   “Hold the door, please!” Claire skidded into the crowded elevator, heart hammering from her full-out sprint through the lobby. “Thanks.” She squeezed in next to a woman in a business suit who looked like a prototype for a Wall Street Barbie doll and was wearing too much perfume.
   Achoo!
   Crap. Claire held her breath to avoid irritating her nose any further.
   Achoo!
   This time when she sneezed, she bumped someone behind her. Wall Street cast her a sideways glance and harrumphed—gave an honest-to-goodness harrumph. Claire hadn’t heard one of those since graduating from Mrs. Reynolds’s second-grade class. She resisted rolling her eyes. Barely.
   Mercifully, the door slid open, accompanied by a classy ding befitting the sleek, stylish, and oh-so-exclusive Anderson Building.
   Why the hell had she agreed to this? Because she had never been able to tell Heather no, that’s why. Well, she needed to learn how. She rubbed her nose and risked a breath. Bad idea. She was really allergic to whatever it was—like, ants-in-the-nostrils allergic. Claire pinched her nose, praying to not sneeze again.
   Several people shuffled off, but unfortunately, not the person wearing Eau de Hell. She rubbed her nose with the back of her hand and someone behind her chuckled. It was almost impossible not to turn around to check out the source of the low, masculine sound bordering on a purr.
   Ding. More people got off, including Wall Street, and the air cleared a bit.
   Floor twenty-two, and they were only halfway to the top. She glanced at her watch, and yeah, she was late. She pinched her still-itching nose as the door stopped on floor thirty and everyone filed out except for a guy at the back of the elevator. Claire found herself gawking as the door slid shut.
   Hot? Holy smokes, he was hot—and huge, like a football player. Her body buzzed to life like she’d just chugged that double-shot cappuccino she’d passed up because she was late. No need for caffeine now. Maybe her best friend Heather was right; maybe getting out of the house was a good thing. Claire jerked her gaze away and faced front, pushing the button for the top floor as if hitting it again would matter.
   He pulled a handkerchief out of this top jacket pocket and held it out to her.
   She shook her head. “No, no thanks. I’m good.” Blasted sneezing. The woman had left an olfactory equivalent of the atom bomb.
   Achoo!
   He wiggled the handkerchief. “I insist.”
   She shook her head and pushed her glasses into place. “I…uh…” Feeling another sneeze coming on, she conceded defeat and accepted his offer. In her usual style, she dropped her purse. Items scattered in all directions over the rose marble elevator floor.
   Heather called this kind of thing a Claire-ism because she was Murphy’s Law personified. If something silly, awkward, or bizarre could happen, it would happen to Claire.
   Track repairs making her train late to work? Check.
   Shoe strap breaking as she ran from subway station to building? Check.
   Bizarre, intense perfume allergy kicking in while stuffed into a packed elevator with a painfully hot guy? Check.
   Spilling her purse in front of said painfully hot guy? Check.
   Four Claire-isms in a morning was impressive, but not unheard of. She shook her head and tried to smile. “Just one of those days,” she said, bending down to pick up her belongings. And, yep, that ripping sound would be her skirt, bringing the total to five—an all-time record. Somehow she didn’t feel like cheering for this impressive accomplishment.
   The guy reached over her and inserted a tiny key into a slot above the top button, and the elevator came to a smooth stop. Oh, God. That meant he was someone important.
   He squatted down next to her as she snatched up her lipstick, keys, and rail pass. “I think something ripped,” he whispered.
   She dropped the items into her purse and met his bright blue eyes. “Yeah, that would be the sound of the last shreds of my dignity being torn in two.”
   He laughed and reached across her to pick up her cell phone. His nearness and the timbre of his laugh sent a ripple of thrill through her.
   At least she wasn’t sneezing anymore. And hallelujah for that because he smelled as delicious as he looked. Like a big peppermint lollipop. Broad shoulders, closely cropped brown hair, and great cheekbones rounded off the other three bases, making it a hot-man home run. She shook her head. What was wrong with her? She should probably never leave the house. She was a walking disaster.
   To add to the awkward, the guy stood and shrugged out of his perfectly tailored jacket and held it out to her. “To cover your shredded dignity,” he said in a completely serious tone. Only a dimple on his right cheek betrayed his pseudo- somber demeanor.
   She rose to stand, keeping her front to him, praying the damage to her skirt wasn’t that bad—though the draft of cool air over her butt told another story. She’d probably lost the whole back seam. “Thanks.”
   She slid the jacket on, ignoring the fact that his eyes were trained on her reflection in the door over her shoulder. She scanned the floor of the elevator for missed items, but found none. Hey, at least nothing really embarrassing had been in her purse.
   “Ready?” he asked, dimple still present and accounted for.
   His jacket hung way below her skirt line, so no matter how bad the damage, she was covered. At least the worst was over. What else could possibly go wrong?
   He turned the key and the elevator smoothly rose the remaining flights before making its final refined ding.
   “I’m Will Anderson,” he said, extending his hand.
   William Anderson of Anderson Auctions. Her boss. Awesome. Claire groaned inwardly, and shook his hand, mentally tallying the Claire-isms to a record-breaking six, and it wasn’t even eight o’clock yet.

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Cover Reveal: Do You Believe in Magic

BOOK INFORMATION
It’s a brand new cover for…
TITLE – Do you Believe in Magic
SERIES – The Magic Series
AUTHOR – Susan Squires
GENRE – Contemporary PNR
PUBLICATION DATE – April 7, 2012
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 302
PUBLISHER – Indie

BOOK SYNOPSIS
Tristram Tremaine has never fit in with his large and boisterous family. They believe they carry a magic gene that comes alive only when they fall in love with another who carries that gene. After disappointing his parents one too many times, Tris, the bad-boy brother, hits the road on his cycle, drifting away from his destiny.

That is, until he meets Maggie O’Brian, a spit-fire rodeo rider with a strange ability to calm wild horses. Maggie lives on the road too, avoiding relationships. Her mother left her, the boy she loved left her, even her dog left her. The last thing she wants in a man is a tomcat with “love ‘em and leave ‘em” written all over him.

But the connection between Tris and Maggie is instantaneous. After a mysterious accident nearly kills Tris, he and Maggie must learn to believe in their destiny and each other to stay one step ahead of those who will do anything to prevent them from claiming it.

BUY & TBR LINKS
AMAZON KINDLE US | AMAZON PAPERBACK | GOODREADS

EXCERPT
   The sickening crunch of metal was audible even over her Ford’s squealing brakes. Two objects flew almost over her hood in an arc of spokes and.…
   Oh, God. The other flying object had a helmet on. Her truck swerved as she struggled with control. The big rig’s engine roared to life and it barreled away into the night. The semi driver must have felt the impact. The smell of burning rubber and brake lining filled her nostrils. Her chest hit the steering wheel as her truck screeched to a stop.
   For a long minute she just sat there, trying to get her breath. Her sternum hurt. But it was kind of a vague feeling. The highway was empty. The semi was only fading red taillights in the distance. Her breath came fast and uneven. How had she not seen that truck? And why didn’t the driver stop to help? Help.…
   The guy on the motorcycle.… Nobody could have lived through that. Could they?
   What to do? No cell coverage out here. She craned around to check the highway. No lights in either direction. Oh, boy. She was going to have to get out and look for the rider. Hands shaking, she pulled her rig slowly off to the shoulder. She swallowed past a lump in her throat and got out of the cab into the cool air of the high desert night. She had to steady herself with a palm on the side of her Ford. Her knees were wobbly. She took a couple of panicky breaths.
   Get hold of yourself. You weren’t the one hit, for God’s sake. She leaned back into her truck and popped the glove compartment. The flashlight felt solid in her hand. She flipped it on and began walking back, swinging the beam. It wouldn’t be him. It couldn’t.
   Low moaning drifted up toward her. She swallowed. Moaning is good. At least the rider isn’t dead. She cast her light down the shallow embankment. It caught a twisted mass of black and silver metal. The cycle’s front wheel was canted at the wrong angle. It spun almost silently.
   She stalked ahead, determined to be angry at being put in this situation, not weak or timid. She really, really didn’t want to see what that lump was in the sagebrush just beyond the bike. The flashlight stuttered over leather, helmet, jeans, boots. Uh-oh. One leg had an odd angle in it.
   I won’t think about that. She breathed in and out through her mouth and stumbled over the edge of the asphalt, sliding down the sandy dirt. As she got closer, she quit fighting her instincts. It would be her beautiful biker guy. She knew it. She shone her light onto the figure.
   Did I have to be right? He blinked against the light, the green of his eyes startling. They were swimming right now. He raised one hand ineffectually to block—what? Her? Did he think she was the one who’d hit him and was coming to finish the job? One leg was clearly bent at an unnatural angle below the knee. Was that something white poking out of his jeans? Bad. Very, very bad. She battled her rising gorge. Damn it, Maggie! You’re strong. Anger helped. Damn the asshole driver of that big rig. And damn her motorcycle guy for being in this situation.
   His cheek was scraped. Blood dripped toward his jawline. Lip split, chin scraped too. “It’s Maggie,” she said stupidly. “That truck hit you.” Understatement of the year.
   “Truck?”
   Of course he’d hit his head with a fall like that. Probably just as well he didn’t remember. She pushed through sagebrush and knelt in the dirt. This close she could smell the rich, metallic scent of blood. “You … you need an ambulance. I’ll … I’ll.…” What? What could she do?
   “You, uh, you feel any pain in your back or your neck?”
   “Just …” His voice was a croak. He cleared his throat and started again. “Just the leg.”
   “Well, at least you can feel your extremities. Could be worse.” Better to make light of it. “Let’s get this helmet off.” She released the chinstrap and gently lifted the helmet. “That okay?”
   “Yeah,” he whispered. His eyes closed slowly and reopened, as if he couldn’t quite get it together to blink.
   She tossed the helmet behind her. “Look, I can go for an ambulance. I figure you’re only alone out here for a little over an hour. Maybe three hours total to get you to the ER. Or …” She almost couldn’t offer it. “If we can get you into the truck, I can take you. Maybe an hour and fifteen total to the ER at Washoe Med.” She shrugged helplessly.
   “Gee, what should I choose?” he said, lips tight. He seemed more aware now.
   “We could screw you up worse trying to get you into my truck.” Truth in advertising.
   “In ten minutes I’ll start to feel this,” he said through gritted teeth. “I don’t wanna be alone. Call me chicken.”
   “I wouldn’t call you that.” He must know how painful getting to the truck would be. She looked up to the road. How the hell would she get him up the embankment? “Okay. How about I get my loading ramp? You roll on it and I drag you up the embankment?”
   “You got a horse in that trailer to pull it? I’m six-four, two twenty-five. Plus the ramp.”
   “You could push with your good leg,” she said doubtfully.
   He rolled his eyes to her. “You’re what, a hundred pounds?”
   “A hundred and ten, all muscle.” Well, a hundred and six. That rounded up to ten.
   “Get real.” In the baleful glare of the flashlight his pale, sweating face looked green. “I can hop if you can get me up.”
   That would hurt like hell. “Your funeral.” Not the best metaphor. “Let me get the truck.” She scrambled up the bank, trying not to think too far ahead, and ran for her truck, fumbled with the keys, and backed it up to where the cycle had gone over the edge.
   As she slid down the bank again she could see that he’d pushed himself up on one arm. His other arm hung limp from his shoulder. Not good. He hung his head. “Go away,” he rasped. Then he vomited into the dirt. She turned away lest her own stomach rebel in sympathy. Poor guy couldn’t even wipe his mouth with one arm out of action. She stripped off the flannel shirt she wore over her tee and knelt beside him.
   He turned his head away, but she cupped his cheek to pull him back around. The jolt that shot through her was like she’d touched a battery cable. Well, not quite. The charge was definitely sexual. What the hell was that? Slow down, girl. You’re kneeling in the dirt next to an injured guy who just lost it all over the desert. Not exactly sexy. She set her lips and wiped his mouth and then used the other sleeve to wipe the sheen of sweat from his forehead.
   “We’d best get to it,” he gasped.
   She surveyed the situation. Okay. Damaged shoulder was on the opposite side of the broken leg. Don’t think about how much this is going to hurt him.

AUTHOR BIO
   Susan Squires grew up among the giant redwoods of California. She thought she was being practical by changing her major in college from theater to English literature. Immersed in a PhD. Program, she slowly realized that none of her graduating friends had work. So she dropped out after receiving a Master’s degree to take a paying job in the business world.
   As an executive in a Fortune 500 company, she returned to her love of writing while continuing to hold her day-job, much to the amusement of her fellow executives. Her novel Danegeld, had already been purchased by Dorchester by the time she accepted a Golden Heart for Best Unpublished Paranormal Manuscript from Romance Writers of America. It was the first of an eclectic group of historical and contemporary paranormal stories known for their intensity. Body Electric was named by Publishers Weekly one of the ten most influential paperbacks of 2002, for blending romance and science-fiction. Book List compared No More Lies to the works of Robin Cook and Michael Crichton, but it was also a Rita finalist for Best Published Paranormal Romance by Romance Writers of America.
   Susan’s Companion Series for St. Martin’s Press, continued to garner attention with admiring reviews and several visits to the New York Times Bestseller List. Publishers Weekly named One with the Shadows a Best Book of the Year, and several of the series received starred reviews. Her books have won the many regional contests for published works of paranormal romantic fiction.
   Susan no longer has to use tales of romance and adventure to escape budgets and projects. She finally left her day job, and researches and writes her books at the beach in Southern California, supported by three Belgian Sheepdogs and a wonderful husband named Harry who writes occult mysteries as H.R. Knight.

AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE | WEBSITE
BLOG | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

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