Thursday, September 30, 2010

REVIEW: Safe Surrender by Kristin Daniels

ISBN 9781603104746
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance with Menage
(c) May 2010, Red Sage Publishing
Kristin Daniel's website

Rating: 2 stars

Available at Red Sage Publishing (ebook).

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy hot erotica with ménage, as this book has plenty of heat and the author writes very vivid sex scenes. Unfortunately there was very little relationship development and depth of plot in this book.

Carli is a woman who has recently lost her sister to a drug overdose and decides to get in good with the drug dealer to get revenge. She manages to get revenge but she also manages to get on the drug dealers to kill list. The book starts out great with a gun fight between the detectives and the drug dealer’s crew. At this point Carli is saved from being shot down herself by Wes, the police detective. Carli provides vital information to the detectives about the drug dealer. She is then placed under witness protection.

Wes and Ian, his longtime friend and partner, are assigned to her protection. Both Wes and Ian are attracted to Carli but Ian has problems with forming relationships with women so Wes is the one who ends up bonding with Carli and offering her comfort. I’m sure you can see where it goes from there. The situation is further complicated by a big secret Wes is keeping from Carli and Ian.

The whole book takes place within a couple days' time frame so there isn’t really much romantic development. It’s more like introductions then sex. Wes offers distraction from her current situation by having sex with her, and the ultimate distraction would be by having sex with both him and Ian at the same time. Wes's big secret when it was finally revealed, in my opinion, was not so substantial.

I do have to say that there were some pretty hot sex scenes in this book and if that’s the type of mood you're in and don't care much about plot and relationship development, then this would be the book for you. Unfortunately, I like a good story as much as hot and steamy scenes so this book wasn't really for me and that's why I gave this book 2 stars.

Reviewed by Danielle
Romance Book Junkies

Book Summary:

Carli Jacobs wants revenge. When her plan to bring down the drug lord responsible for her sister’s death goes awry, she finds herself thrown into the protective custody of two sexy detectives.

Wes Lucas and Ian Gray are determined to keep her safe. But there’s tension is in the air, and it’s not just sexual. Secrets are being kept. Lives are on the line, and trust is put to the test. As desire rips through each of them, heartbreaking truths will be revealed and lies will be exposed.

Are the three running away from danger, or are they headed straight for it? In Wes and Ian’s quest to keep Carli safe, will she end up surrendering her heart as well?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Today, it is our pleasure and honor to welcome Lorie O'Clare to the blog. Congratulations on the release of PLAY DIRTY, which releases yesterday!

So, Lorie, please tell us about yourself. How did you go into writing as a career?

I've always written stories. When my boys were still babies, and I was reading more romance novels than I had in my entire life, I had the best of lives. But, it wasn't enough for me. I needed more stimulation. That's when I started taking my writing more seriously. Although I had three young boys, took care of them and our home, worked almost forty hours a week, I wanted to do more. Also, after reading book after book, I kept thinking I could write better.

So I started kicking out books. I wrote ten full length novels in under three years. Then I tried publishing, and this was without a computer in the house. I went to the library, found addresses and editor's names, read how they wanted their submissions presented to them, and started mailing out my books one at a time as I could afford postage, and printing costs. Often times I had to print the entire manuscript and mail it off to an editor. It would take three to six months for a response.

I received rejection letter after rejection letter for several years before Harlequin Super Romance offered me a bite. They told me they would likely offer a contract if I changed a few minor details in the manuscript I'd sent in. Unfortunately, shortly after that I went through a divorce. I never made those changes to that manuscript. A couple years after that I accepted a contract offer with Ellora's Cave. I still haven't published that original manuscript Harlequin requested almost ten years ago now.

You're certainly prolific! I’ve been to your website and saw that you’ve written a lot of books! How long have you been published? Who are the people who’ve helped you along the way? What advice can you give to aspiring writers?

I first published Pack Law, my first lunewulf book, in October 2003. In Her Blood Came out in January 2004, In Her Dreams in March 2004, (check out all the lunewulf books here: ) and it continues on like that over the years to the present. I don't feel as if I have a lot of books out. I've published 52 books in seven years of which 29 are now in paperback.

As far as those who've helped me along the way, the names are too many to mention. I have to give credit to Lora Leigh, who encouraged me to submit to Ellora's Cave and assured me writing erotic romance was not only lucrative, but a genre more challenging and rewarding than most believed, especially at the time. Needless to say, she was right on all counts. I don't remember how many editors I've had over the years but each one has brought something to the table I was able to walk away with, and therefore improve my writing. I've been very blessed with editors who not only were incredibly gifted, and helped me grow as a writer, but who also became very good friends of mine. Currently, Mary Moran, Monique Patterson and Peter Psenftleben, my three editors with the three houses I write for today, are all incredible people and very good at challenging me and making my books stronger, hotter, and better.

As for advice to aspiring writers, the big one, and I'm sure anyone who wants to write has already heard this way too many times, but it's important--don't ever give up! Being a published writer is challenging, requires perseverance, and is perfect for anyone who enjoys learning. Be willing to go the extra mile with your research, once you feel you have your book finished, read it again and dig even deeper, pull out more emotion and strive to make your plot sharper and tighter. There are some manuscripts I've rewritten five or six times before publishing them. Accept you'll never be perfect and don't ever quit striving for perfection.

Which of your series is your favorite? Why? Which is the easiest to write? Why?

That's a tough one. I always say my Nuworld series is my favorite and it currently isn't published. There are six books in that series and I've published those books twice and pulled contract twice. You can find all six books here:

With that said, I have many other favorites, too. I loved writing all of my werewolf series, the lunewulf, Cariboo lunewulf, and Malta werewolf books. My leopard series, owl series, and black jags were all a blast to write. I enjoyed shifting over to science fiction romance with my Sex Trader Series. It was just as much fun writing romantic suspense with my torrid love series, my FBI Sex Crime books, and the few stand alones I've written.

Right now, writing bounty hunters is absolutely blowing me out of the water. I am counting the days, hours and minutes down to the release of the first bounty hunter book, Play Dirty.

Which of your books seem to be a readers’ favorite? Why do you think this is so?

Interestingly enough, one of my best selling books over the years is In Her Nature, book three in the lunewulf series. Even today, over six years after its release, In Her Nature still sells very well. The reason for this is interesting, at least to me, is because I was warned by more than one person not to release this book. My heroine was a bad girl in the previous books. She was a tramp, made a lot of mistakes, got into trouble and had her head screwed on all wrong. I couldn't give up on her though. We've all made mistakes. She was young. And she had a right to come to terms with where she wanted to go in life and try and get there. I think readers enjoy reading about characters who are real, who aren't perfect, who have goofed up more than once, but who in the end, strive to be a good person.

Now, let’s get to your new Bounty Hunters series. What gave you the idea for this series? What was it that made you think, "Hmm, I'm going to write about bounty hunters"? How many books have you planned?

While writing the FBI Sex Crimes books I had a bounty hunter make an appearance in the story line. I think part of my writing style results in me stumbling upon heroes and heroines who are determined to walk along the path less traveled. My FBI guys were tough, took on challenges others wouldn't, stood up to authority and never cowered when a bad guy became really bad. But they were restricted by the laws of our land. Bounty hunters have a bit more freedom during their hunts. There are still laws, especially when they move from state to state, and each state having its own laws concerning bounty hunters, but bounty hunters don't have to answer to the higher up the way my FBI guys did.

The bounty hunters in the first three books in the bounty hunter series, Greg, Marc and Jake King, have hunting in their blood. They are a bit on the wild side, rugged, larger than life (literally--Greg is the shortest and he's almost six and a half feet tall), and never give up on a hunt, especially when it comes to tracking down their women.

There will be six bounty hunter books, three are written so far and I'm currently working on the fourth.

What process did you go through when you begin putting together a new series? What kind of research did you have to do?

Research varies from series to series. With the bounty hunters, I was lucky enough to interview three bounty hunters and learn how their lives are so much not like Dog the Bounty Hunter. I wanted my bounty hunters to be real. My assistant spent a lot of time digging up all the laws concerning bounty hunters, which as I mention vary from state to state. Some states allow bounty hunting and some don't. The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world who allow bounty hunting.

I interviewed two of the three bounty hunters prior to writing my first bounty hunter book. And we had a rather extensive file created about the laws of bounty hunting, what they commonly do and don't do, before I was half way through the first book. As I continue writing their stories, there is always research that needs to be done. Inevitably, my bounty hunters will lead me into a scene and I need information to confirm they are allowed to do what they want to do. My characters push the buttons and I have to stay on my toes and make sure they are hunting by the law. Bounty hunters tend to have the type of nature where the hunt becomes so important to them, laws get in the way. Fortunately their women stand with me in trying to keep them on the up and up.

Your first book in the series is Play Dirty. Out of the three King men, why did you choose to start your series with the father, Greg?

Greg King's story had to come first. And he's 45, and not ashamed to say so. He's in perfect health, is stronger than a pack mule, and with a body that is hard as steel. He's also one of the best bounty hunters in the nation. His reputation precedes him. But Greg lost his wife. Oh, she's still alive, but the two of them went their separate ways when Haley was determined to help bring down one of the most dangerous drug dealers in California. Greg didn't want her to do it. Haley wasn't going to cower to threats from a low life who was pushing drugs into grade schools, and both were so stubborn it broke them up.

It was necessary to show Greg and Haley reunite, rekindle a romance that began when they were in high school, and work through both of their stubborn natures so they could be together again. Their love story is so intense, so beautiful, and so touching I cried at the end of the book. I don't do that with every book I write, but I was bawling like a baby as I typed the last page of Play Dirty.

What made him the perfect hero for the heroine?

Greg and Haley King were apart for five years. Greg tried dating and Haley did the same. In spite of both thinking the other was being too stubborn and needed to come to terms that the other was right, neither could sever the love they felt for each other. When Haley's boss disappears, she knows Greg is the best hunter out there. She is pretty good herself, but she accepts it's more important to swallow her pride and go to Greg for help. Greg sees right away that Haley isn't in any way apologizing for leaving him. No matter how much the two of them try convincing the other they were right, their love for each other consumes each of them the moment they are together again. It's clear to everyone around them that the two were made for each other. And, in the end, even both of their bull-headed natures aren't strong enough to prevent the desire and passion from rekindling and resulting in one incredibly erotic love story.

Please share any insight about the characters in this series that you want readers to have that could help them connect better with the Kings, most specifically, Greg.

The first thing I would say is not to be intimidated by his size. He is about six feet, five inches, incredibly muscular, and therefore can appear to be a ruthless, and possibly dangerous man. Don't let looks deceive you. He is a large teddy bear. He has a heart twice the size of most men. And if you approach him in need of help, he will go the extra mile to take care of you, and make sure you are safe, protected, and whoever you want found, he will find for you!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Oh, most definitely! I love hearing from all of you and do my best to personally answer each email I get. Just be patient, please. You can reach me at My website is and I have two mailing lists, one on line where you can keep up on my latest releases and appearances on line and in person. Join that mailing list here: I also have a snail mail list. If you'd like to receive news about my books through the mail, please send me an email including your home mailing address. Just put "newsletter" in the subject line. I send out news about my books through the US mail a few times a year.

Also, I do sell my books on ebay. All three of my publishers have given their blessing to allow me to personally sell my books. So whether you're searching for some of my older titles, or want my latest release, you can go to and bid on my books, or if you prefer, I have "buy it now" auctions as well for those who don't have time to watch auctions to see if they've won. Each book I send out, I personally autograph to the winner of each auction. Postage is always minimal and I do ship worldwide.

Thanks so much, Lorie!

Now, for the GIVEAWAY!

Check out this post for the rules, though you may comment in both posts. Good luck!

Monday, September 27, 2010

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: Play Dirty by Lorie O'Clare

ISBN 978-0312372156
Genre: Romantic Suspense
(c) September 2010, St. Martin's Paperbacks
Lorie O'Clare's website

Rating: 4 stars

Available at Book Depository (print).

Make room everyone for the new edition to the group of men who melt our hearts with their cocky smiles and confident swagger. In her new novel Play Dirty, Lorie O’Clare introduces romance readers to the incredibly sexy world of bounty hunters in a book that holds nothing back.

Sometimes when you read the blurb on the back of a book, you don’t really get a sense of the story you’ll find. I have to say that Play Dirty more than delivered with a fast-paced storyline that had me always wanting to know what came next. The plot didn’t seem stale, it flowed well and as someone who doesn’t read a lot of romantic suspense, I enjoyed reading it. It had a good balance of intrigue which had me wondering what else was in store for Haley and Greg.

Straight away I realized that as a lover of romance I had grossly underestimated the appeal of the more experienced older man. Sexy really doesn’t have an age limit as Greg King firmly establishes and proves the point that younger isn’t always better and that nothing beats the touch of a man who experience has shown just how well to do it. Greg King oozes masculine energy in this book and was immediately appealing because of the deep love that he has for his wife Haley. Despite the way they parted or the time that had passed, Greg continues to feel that close connection that had him moving heaven and earth to keep her safe. He was intense in everything he did and I loved the process he went through to loosen his driving instinct to shelter Haley and allow her to be independent and follow her passions. It takes a great man to put aside his opinions on how things should be and step aside to allow someone else to lead.

I loved being able to read about Haley and see the way she was true to her convictions even though it broke her heart to do so. The time she spent away from her family, she put to good use so when she finally returned, she was stronger, more confident and a lot more independent. Coming back to Greg, she brought a greater balance to their relationship and I loved that she didn’t back down and let Greg hold her back from what she loved. She showed that you are able to be in a relationship without losing yourself or at least holding yourself back and it really was wonderful being able to watch Haley and Greg work through the changes distance had created.

The passion in this book was at times almost palpable and had my heart racing and deep sighing over the intensity of how they felt for each other. You could literally see the sparks flying between them and as I neared their first bedroom reunion, I had high hopes for what I thought would be an incredibly passionate and sensual moment. I think it’s important to warn those who read this book, that at least in my opinion, the bedroom scenes weren’t the sensual experience I have come to expect in the romance books I read and were very graphic in the details of what was happening. There were other moments throughout the book where the sexual content proved to be difficult for me to read, but I really feel that it comes down to how comfortable you are with the sex that you read. Although the scenes may not be to everybody’s liking, a little warning can at least help you be prepared.

Aside from this, I enjoyed the book and found it entertaining. It gave me most of the things I love about reading romance and I feel that it’s a story filled with characters people will fall in love with. As an added bonus, the hunky guy straddling the bike on the cover helps fuel the imagination. Enjoy!

Reviewed by Belinda
The Bookish Snob

Book Summary:

Heartthrob bounty hunter Greg King knows how to work it—and he knows that he can have any woman he wants. But there’s more to Greg than meets the eye...and he’s still haunted by the memory of his beautiful, estranged wife. Much as he’s tried to move on, he’s never been able to stop wondering why Haley left him. Or what he could have done to make their marriage better—and make her stay...

After putting a vicious criminal behind bars, Haley King had no choice but to leave her loved ones behind and enter the witness protection program. Turns out that, in her new life, Haley has once again found herself in serious trouble—and needs help from the only person she can trust: her husband. Now, as old secrets threaten to tear them apart and danger closes in from all sides, it’s up to Greg to keep Haley safe...and convince her that this time, he’s playing for keeps.

Now for the GIVEAWAY!

One lucky commenter will win the anthology The Bodyguard, featuring paranormal stories by Lorie O'Clare, Cherry Adair and Gena Showalter! Lorie's book features her very first bounty hunter story. Her hero is a bounty hunter and her heroine is a werewolf. The best of both worlds collide!

International! Yay! Everyone is eligible!

How to Enter/Rules:

1. The giveaway will run from September 28 to 29, where we'll be posting an interview with Lorie!
2. You must be a follower (GFC, at least).
3. Ask Lorie a question.

Note: Not a follower + no question = no chance to win

Additional Chances to Win:

1. Each time you spread news of this contest (via Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc) earns you one point as well. Be sure to come back and give us the link of your tweet or announcement.
2. Follow us! Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads. Each "follow" earns you one point. (Old followers are automatically entered.)

Contest Duration: September 28 to 29, 1159pm EST

Contest Winner Announcement: September 30

The winner will be selected via Please send your name and mailing address to caroletrr(@), so be sure to come back and check because we won't hunt you down. If we don't receive the email within twenty-four hours, a new winner will be chosen.

REVIEW: Crushing Desire by April Dawn

ISBN 9781926771120
Genre: Historical Romance
(c) January 2010, Breathless Press
April Dawn's website

Rating: 4 stars

Available at Breathless Press (ebook)

Crushing Desire is full of lively characters that you're going to love, as the author has done a great job building the characters. It didn't take Reena and Joshua soon to become very dear to my heart. Reena starts as a young girl who is on the cusp of womanhood, and she grows into a beautiful woman by the end of the book. She's not a typical girl during her time period (Crushing Desire is a historical romance, with time period of 1784-1789). She is very smart and tends to read and talk about things some people would think is inappropriate and she happens to be very good at chess. Since she first laid eyes on Joshua, she was in love.

Joshua is older than Reena and has some issues to work out before he can acknowledge his feelings for her. Joshua is a hero you are going to love as much as Reena does. He's smart, handsome, kind, brave, and did I say handsome? He doesn't mind Reena's love for books and conversations of subject matters others might think are inappropriate.

The author does a great job writing this book. She gives very vivid descriptions. She makes us feel all the character's emotions including love, suspense and frustration. Overall the story is beautiful but I felt like the middle was drawn out a little longer than it should have been. I felt like they should have admitted their feelings a lot sooner than they did they have the answers right in front of their eyes but refuse to accept it. Then at the end of the book the author does a great job filling it with action, suspense, adventure and joy.

I gave this book a rating of 4 because I was a little frustrated during the middle of the book but overall I liked it. I would recommend this book to historical romance fans. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Reviewed by Danielle

Book Cover Summary:

Reena Harrison is anything but the fashion, but despite her flaws, she has several suitors. Unfortunately, the one man she has always loved is not one of them. After things go dreadfully wrong with a suitor and her family, she finds herself asking Joshua a peculiar favor.

Joshua Sinclair has long had a fascination with the tall beauty. After years of denying his feelings for Reena in pure military fashion, he finds himself thrown together with her in an out of control scheme. How can he possibly rule his emotions when he finds himself posing as the sensuous woman’s husband?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Dark Side: Ava Gray

The Dark Side aims to shed light on that deep, dark, mysterious side of an author, a face that she rarely, if ever, shows to the public. What secret is she hiding behind that enigmatic smile on her official photo (if any)? what juicy tidbit is she keeping from the world? What are some of the things that she liked, things we would never know, because it's not part of her bio? 

Today, we have with us AVA GRAY, author of SKIN TIGHT. She's also ANN AGUIRRE, who wrote the famous Sirantha Jax series.

Remember, think dark, dark, dark...

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you? 
I was run over by my own car and nobody was driving it. 

Do you believe in ghosts and supernatural phenomenon? Have you ever had a close encounter? Do tell us about it.
Yes, and yes. I actually grew up in a haunted house. Suffice to say the incidents were well documented, and describing them all would constitute a guest blog. 

Please share one deep, dark secret from your childhood/young adulthood.
I was kicked out of the gifted program because I had problems with authority. 

How did you overcome a particular dark time in your life?
I realized I had been given a second chance and I needed to make the most of it. 

What did you learn from the dark time/s you’ve experienced?
That we make our own opportunities and our own happiness. 

Who is your favorite dark character? Why?
My character, Taye, from Skin Dive. You'll find out why next year.

Lightning Round

white or dark chocolate :  neither
milk or coffee :  coffee
night or day :  night
coke or 7-up :  diet coke
New York cheesecake or black forest cake :  black forest cake
vampire or werewolf :   neither
football game or candlelit dinner :   neither
ebook or print :  both
spring or autumn :   autumn
sweet or salty :   sweet
kitten or puppy :  kitten
cook or take-out :  delivery

Ava Gray's SKIN TIGHT is now available at Book Depository (print). This title is also included in the list of giveaways for our ongoing contest.

Ava Gray's other titles:

Skin Game
Skin Heat

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Romance Reviews Website and Free Kindle Books

Woo hoo! We're now in the testing stage of the review site and it's a beaut! If you don't mind that I'm a little bias. LOL

Soft launch of the site is on October 12 and we're counting down to that day! In the meantime, watch out this blog for more announcements and updates.

18 days and counting...

* * * * *

If you're living in the US, some great books you can pick up from the Kindle Store (FREE!). Just scroll through the list of books on the right, and you'll see the Top 100 Free books on offer right now.

Marked by Elisabeth Naughton
Shadow Fall by Erin Kellison
Penelope and Prince Charming by Jennifer Ashley
Immortals: The Crossing by Joy Nash
White Tigress by Jade Lee

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Exclusive Peek: Forbidden by Christina Phillips

From Christina Phillips:

Despite my life-long love of historical romances, it had never occurred to me to actually write one until late one night when a tough Roman centurion marched into my mind.

Intrigued, I dropped the boring admin work I’d been attempting to organize. Accounts or a battle scarred warrior? No contest! Having just finished two short erotic romances involving witches, demons and vampires I had no idea why this very human hero had suddenly appeared to me.

My Roman was single-minded in his determination to find his Druid princess. Riveted, I wanted to know why? And how could a Roman Centurion, charged to eliminate all Druids, now be searching to save one of his Emperor’s bitterest enemies?

As if I was watching a movie unfold, a sacred grove materialized. And there was the Druid princess, bargaining for her lover’s freedom with the insane High Druid.

And then the scene faded. I couldn’t believe it. What was that all about? I didn’t write historical romance and if I did I certainly wouldn’t write an ancient historical romance! But although I fought the compulsion for almost five minutes, I knew my fate was sealed. I’d never rest until I unearthed the story of this Roman and Druid and how they came to be together.

The book took me nine months to write, and I became completely immersed in this magical, exotic world of warriors, druids and vengeful gods. And far from being the impossible sell that I’d thought, Forbidden hooked my agent’s interest and three months later sold to Berkley Heat.

Thank you, Maximus :)

Exclusive Excerpt:

Anticipation sizzled through Carys’s blood as she waited for her Roman to emerge from the wood. She couldn’t see him, but he was there. Somehow, she could feel him, deep in the most sacred recess of her soul, the same way she could feel when the wise Cerridwen merged with her spirit.

Flee. The command shivered through her mind, sharp with the acrid scent of fear. She had escaped the enemy once. To tempt fate twice was foolish in the extreme.

Except she hadn’t tempted fate by returning to the waterfall. She was at the Cauldron, in the holy glade of her beloved goddess. And her Roman had discovered her there.

He marched from the shadowed depths, magnificent and terrifying in the strange, exotic uniform of his conquering race. The sun glinted on his polished breastplate and enhanced the rich scarlet of his cloak but Carys focused on his short black hair, his hard unsmiling face and finally on his unblinking blue gaze.

“We meet again.” She spoke in her mother tongue, for some reason unwilling to let him know she was fluent in Latin. She clasped her fingers together so he couldn’t see how they trembled. And yet despite the shrill voice that shrieked through her mind, commanding her to turn and flee before it was too late, she wasn’t afraid of what this Roman might do to her.

Only of what the consequences to her people might be.

That was enough reason for her to seek instant escape. And yet she remained where she was, allowing him to close the distance between them, allowing her lingering chances of freedom to slip into nothingness.

“It seems the gods wish our paths to cross, my lady.” His tone was sardonic, but as rich and sensual as she recalled. As erotic as any of the dreams she’d enjoyed over the last two nights.

“My gods or yours?” Her breath was tight in her chest, constricting her lungs and squeezing her vocal chords. She hoped he couldn’t hear the catch in her voice, or the way her heart pounded against her ribs. She didn’t want this Roman to know just how fundamentally he affected her.

He paused before her. So close she could reach out her hand and touch his battle scarred armor. “Perhaps our gods work in harmony.”

“Our gods?’ Had she misheard? She jerked her gaze from admiring the sensual outline of his lips and stared into his eyes. Despite her covert Latin education, she agreed with the general consensus that Romans were barbarous heathens who acknowledged no true gods - not even the all-seeing most divine goddess of all, the Morrigan - only their own craven idols.

But if that was so, how could this Roman even suggest he acknowledged the existence of her gods?

He reached out, almost as if he couldn’t help himself, and lifted the end of her braid. “Perhaps,” he said, as the unbound strands of her hair slid through his fingers, “the gods answer to different names.”

He only touched her hair. And yet she could feel his touch lighting her soul. And his words ignited her brain.

“Different names,” she breathed. A revolutionary concept. Almost blasphemous. And yet – strangely intoxicating, the way she felt when Cerridwen imparted a sliver of knowledge so illuminating as to be for her mind only.

His hand fisted around her hair. “Will you tell me your name now, my lady?”

Book Summary:

First in a new erotic historical series of magical heroines and sexy warriors.

Carys knew from the moment she first spied on Maximus in his naked barbarian glory that he was a dangerous Roman centurion-his taut, battle-scarred flesh marking him as a fearless warrior. But her desire for him was as undeniable as it was illicit.

Charged by his emperor to eliminate a clan of powerful Druids in Britain, Maximus never expects his mission to be thwarted by the clan's ethereal princess, Carys. Falling under her spell, he doesn't realize her true heritage-until he captures her heart as well as her body.

Now Carys and Maximus must overcome the devastation of war and face the ultimate sacrifice if their forbidden love is to survive.

Available at Book Depository (print)

Author's Bio:

Christina Phillips has always loved writing, and while her efforts in eighth grade usually involved space ships, time travel and unfortunate endings, as soon as she discovered romance novels a whole new world opened up. She now writes ancient historical romances about strong heroines and gorgeous warrior heroes who, no matter how torturous the journey, are guaranteed a happy-ever-after. Christina was born in the United Kingdom, but now lives in sunny Western Australia with her real-life hero and their three children.

Note by Carole: I'm squeeing, coz I just bought this over the Internet! :) Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for it to arrive. :(

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

REVIEW: Bloodmaiden by Christine Schulze

Genre: Fantasy Romance
(c) May 2010, Old Line Publishing

Christine Schulze's website

Rating: 3 stars

Available in Book Depository (print)

There have been countless dragon stories in the fantasy genre. We have seen them in all kinds of different colours and shapes, and we have seen them with all kinds of different personalities. Still, Bloodmaiden manages to give us an alternate view on this overused theme.

The story is set in the world of Sulaimon, consisting of four dragon dynasties, in which dragons live in harmony with the people they protect. But in the dragon dynasty in the north, in the land of Tyrnan, the dragons ask horrible sacrifices of their people. And a young couple, Crisilin and her husband Chalom, have been chosen to fulfil the frightening ritual. By a twist of fate they are able to escape from their certain death, and get the opportunity to free their people for ever. We follow them on their quest to collect the four Aria, parts of a magical song that have been created so the dragons will never abuse any human being.

This book is truly beautifully written. The way the author describes the world, the way she chooses words and makes them flow. It draws you in, makes you feel what the characters feel. There are many sad stories in this book, and I really felt for those characters. But herein lies the biggest flaw too. In some passages we see such amazing writing, but then we have to fast-forward to the next event and the next environment with other characters. There just isn't enough time to enjoy it.

This story is incredibly fast paced, too fast paced even. We jump from kingdom to kingdom, travel at an inhuman speed, get all important events and plot twists dished up right after each other. There is just no time at all to get to know our travellers, to enjoy the fantastic world that is created in Bloodmaiden. It does keep you at the edge of your chair once the story sets off, but sometimes you need to catch a breath as reader. It sometimes gets a little bit too overwhelming, too much information in one time.

This is also showed in the narration and the interaction between our couple. The events are described pretty accurately, but we seldom hear what Chrisilin, our first person narrator, feels, what she thinks about it. And this feels like such a waste, because we have seen how amazing Mrs. Schulze can write, and what she could have done with it, but just didn't. Our couple never talks, the only interaction we see is them holding hands or sleeping in each others arms. Sometimes Chalom throws in a "Are you alright, love?" and that's it for deep conversation that chapter. I did buy their love for each other though, there certainly is a bond between them. Sometimes we get a peek into their carefree past, and then they truly shine together.

Another little annoyance I had while reading this is that Chrisilin refers to our world. She once compares something to a roller coaster, or calls a palace "Chinese looking". How is this possible when she lives in a totally imaginary place? She tells us her aunt has told her about other worlds (including ours, apparently) but then forgets to mention how this different-worlds thing works. It felt like something the author didn't think through well enough.

This book has so much potential. If it had been longer and more extensive this would have been one of my favourite books. It has everything, but everything crammed in too few pages. I'd love to see what happens when Mrs. Schulze takes her time to write a book. This is a promising author I would keep my eye on in the future!

Reviewed by Celine
Nyx Book Reviews

Note: This book was provided courtesy of the publisher/author. 

Book Summary: 

"Zale. Gauthier. Varden. These three dynasties…They all sound like something out of an ancient, oriental myth or fairy tale. The concept of humans and dragons helping and living in harmony with one another, without fear. To me, that’s exactly what they are. A distant dream only read of, whispered secretly, quietly yearned for.

For, you see, I am the new Quelda of Tynan."

These words echo the mystery, horror, and romance found within Schulze's fantasy novel. Along with her new husband, Chalom, Crislin must choose to embrace cruel tradition, run from it, or stand against it. The young couple's only hope is to rally the help of the three peaceful dragon dynasties of Sulaimon—but tradition is not on their side, even outside the realm of Tynan. The dragons outside Tynan's borders have been rumored as too stubborn and proud to believe their Tynanian brothers would commit such horrors as inflicted upon the Quelda. Gaining their aid is not a likely hope. Yet, any hope at all is valued in Tynan...

If they are to stand a chance of bringing cruel tradition to a permanent end, Crislin and Chalom must brave the constant, consuming blizzards of the Ever-white. They must brave the three dynasties and the challenges awaiting there. Together, they must convince the dragon emperors to allow them access to the shrines which house the sacred Aria - protective strands of music which may be able to disperse the evil from Tynan and unite the four dynasties of Sulaimon as a whole once again. Their only aid stems from a sprite whose moods are as unstable as her magic, a young minstrel, and a mysterious fox. Despite the odds, such plans are daring, dangerous, unprecedented, but fully possible - if they can escape the Wall first.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

REVIEW: Laid Bare by Lauren Dane

ISBN 978-0425229712
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, Ménage, BDSM
(c) August 2009, Berkley Heat
Lauren Dane's website

Rating: 4 stars

Available at Book Depository (print).

Bodies aren't the only things that erotic author Lauren Dane laid bare in her novel by the same name. Souls and hearts are laid bare, worn raw, and loved in spite of all their imperfections in this incredibly human story about the power of love and acceptance. If you are looking for a little sizzle with a lot of heart and passion this is one to check out.

Ten years ago conservative Seattle cop Todd Keenan let loose of his sexual control and discovered his need to dominate during a life changing fling with rocker-chick neighbor Erin Brown. Erin, comfortable with her need to submit and live on the edge, was honest about who and what she was with herself and others. Todd admired the quality in the 'little freak' but shamed at the extreme desires and needs he discovered in himself.

Ten years later the tables turn on the pair when Todd returns to Seattle and his family looking for a new beginning after a failed marriage and near fatal shooting. Having come to terms with who he is and what living a half life has cost him, he eagerly jumps at a second chance with Erin. Although life dealt her mega MTV rock star success, Erin has also experienced life altering tragedy. Unable to trust herself and others, Erin finds comfort in Todd's need to control and care for her. In his arms the healing begins.

The two soon find Ben, Todd's best friend and partner, brings a sense of rightness, completing them both.  Together the three endeavor to find bliss in a conservative cop community and the ability to move beyond the demons of the past into the joy of the future.

I commend Lauren Dane for spending the time needed to unravel the flaws of her characters and reveal their humanity.  The characters, their pain, and their relatable joy are the gold in this story.  At times the pace seemed a little slow and there were events that I had to reflect on to see the value added to the entire piece. It is through many of these innocuous events that bonds are formed and personalities revealed.  It is the small moments that allow the love to blossom and the healing to occur and for myself as a reader to invest in the characters.

If you are on the prowl for a heart-warming story with hawt lovin', great food, a big family, and enough testosterone to power the eastern coast take a look at Laid Bare by Lauren Dane.

Reviewed by Michelle R.

Book Summary: 

Unexpected Desire… 

It’s been ten years since clean-cut, sexy-as-hell police officer Todd Keenan had a white-hot fling with Erin Brown, the provocative, wild rocker chick next door. Their power exchange in the bedroom got under his skin. But love wasn’t in the cards just yet…

Now, life has thrown the pair back together. But picking up where they left off is tough, in light of a painful event from Erin’s past. As Todd struggles to earn her trust, their relationship takes an unexpected and exciting turn when Todd’s best friend, Ben, ends up in their bed—and all three are quite satisfied in this relationship without a name. As the passion they share transforms Erin, will it be enough to help her face the evil she thought she had left behind?

Whittling the TBR (3)

grab the following code for your

Whittling the TBR is an event hosted by The Romance Reviews on Tuesday every fortnight (2nd and 4th Tuesdays), that aims to decrease the TBR pile one book at a time. The purpose of this event is two-fold: 1.) to help book lovers tackle their ever-growing TBR pile as part of a community effort, and 2.) to bring not-so-recently published books to light.

Reading is a solitary event, but let's do it together!

Pick out a book (or two) that's been languishing in your TBR pile for six months or more with the intention to read (and finish) it this week. On the 5th Tuesday of the month (where the month has a 5th Tuesday), we'll have a Whittling the TBR Brag Day wherein we'll give a mini review  of the books we've read or a full review, if that's your preference.

The book I chose for this week is

Dive into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind—and none of the heart...

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of "rehabilitation"— the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was....

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion—and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities—or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation...

Available at Book Depository (print).

Monday, September 20, 2010

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: Meet Me in Manhattan by Judith Arnold

ISBN 9780757315336
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Reality-Based Romance™
(c) September 2010, Health Communications Inc
Judith Arnold's website

Rating: 5 stars

Available at Book Depository (print).

Meet Me in Manhattan isn't your ordinary romance novel. It's more than that. More than fiction, certainly, as it's based on a real-life romance, where the HEA did happen. Awesome, isn't it? Makes you wonder how come nobody thought of this before.

Reading Meet Me in Manhattan is no different from the usual romance novel. There's conflict and tension and suspense, everything that makes a story really good. However, this story makes me believe--really believe--that true love does exist in the real world, and that despite the obstacles and trials that come your way, true love will triumph in the end. After all, Ted and Erika have experienced it and are in fact, living examples. Every so often as I read the book, I was thinking, "Wow, this truly happened. It happened to Ted and Erika." When I came to the last page, I couldn't be happier when everything turned out so well for them.

Young lovers who made the decision to part (okay, it was Erika who decided) only to meet again sixteen years later, this time as adults. Were the sparks still there? But while Erika was free, Ted was committed to another woman, with whom he has been living together for three years...

Judith Arnold wrote Erika Fredell and Ted Skala's story, and she is an amazing and talented storyteller. She kept my interest and attention throughout the entire story, and her writing style could be partly credited for that, but another part is also because Erika and Ted's story is so compelling. A sense of magic permeated their entire story, especially when you think of the love that wouldn't die even after so many years.

I really like the way Ms Arnold sketches the complexities of human nature and emotions with a deft and delicate hand, the way she takes us back into Ted's and Erika's past and gives us a greater understanding of how the love developed between them and the ensuing ambiguities Erika experienced as she was conflicted between her dreams and Ted's love and her relationship with him. Certainly, these are things we ourselves have gone through at one time or the other, which makes this story so relatable.

And for their love to survive sixteen years of separation! That is certainly an inspiration. Like Ted, I thought that if love wasn't nurtured, it died. Yet, theirs remained alive and the embers burning. Perhaps it just needed the right time, the right mood, the right moment to flare up once again. It's gotta be fate, something along the lines of, if you're meant to be together, somehow you'll find each other even though it's years later and you're miles apart.

Of course, Ted and Erika probably wouldn't happen without the help of their friends. We also see Ted's point of view in italics, and it was quite interesting to see how Erica and Ted both gave different interpretations to the same events. I thought the epilogue done in Ted's voice was just right and gave the perfect ending to this wonderful, fairy-tale-like yet true story. I'm looking forward to read more books in this genre! Recommended for all lovers of romance.

Note: This review copy was provided courtesy of the publisher/author.

Book Cover Summary:

A classic love story told only as Judith Arnold can tell it—with a deep grasp of the complexities of the human heart and unforgettable tales of love lost and then unexpectedly found again.

Ted Skala and Erika Fredell were the perfect New Jersey high school sweethearts. Like many teens Ted and Erika spent plenty of time in parked cars under the stars, but there was so much more between them than the chemistry that ignited their courtship, and Ted couldn't imagine a life without Erika. By graduation he was ready to get engaged. Erika, however, was ready to spread her wings and faraway she flew to college. She broke his heart. She sailed the world.

Fast forward 15 years.  When fate intervenes and their paths cross, the result is emotionally explosive and that old black magic is back with the force of a super nova. But Erika once ravaged his heart: How can Ted ever trust her again? And now that he's seriously involved with another woman, how can Erika hope for a second chance with the man she never should have let go? 

Interesting Links: 

About True Vows.
Blog tour from September to November.
Submit your own story.

Next stop on the tour: Simply Stacie (September 22)

  *Click here to register for the Twitter chat.

Please join us for a super-fun Reality Romance Twitter Chat with MEET ME IN MANHATTAN author Judith Arnold, as well as the real couple the book is based on! We’ll be giving away signed copies of MEET ME IN MANHATTAN every 10 minutes during the hour-long chat!
Register to attend the live Twitter chat by going HERE and receive 5 free chapters of the book to check out in advance of the chat!
The chat will take place on Tuesday, October 5th, at 6pm PST/9 pm EST.  Remember to use the hashtag #TLCbookchat.  We hope you can make it!

Now for the GIVEAWAY!

One lucky commenter will win a set of three books: Meet Me in Manhattan, Hard to Hold, The Icing on the Cake. Check out the stories. Believe me, you don't want to miss this!

US/Canada only, and no P.O. Boxes. 

How to Enter/Rules:

1. The giveaway will run from September 20 to October 26, where we'll be posting the review for Hard to Hold by Julie Leto.

2. You must be a follower (GFC, at least).

3. Comment in this post by answering the following questions:

What do you think of this new sub-genre of romance? Of True Vows, Life...Romanticized, Reality-Based Romance™? Would you submit your story? 

Note: Not a follower + no comment = no chance to win 

Additional Chances to Win: 

1. Each time you spread news of this contest (via Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc) earns you one point as well. Be sure to come back and give us the link of your tweet or announcement.
2. Follow us! Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads. Each "follow" earns you one point. (Old followers are automatically entered.) 

Contest Duration: September 20 to October 26, 1159pm EST 

Contest Winner Announcement: October 29

The winner will be selected via Please send your name and mailing address to caroletrr(@), so be sure to come back and check because we won't hunt you down. If we don't receive the email within twenty-four hours, a new winner will be chosen.

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by The Story Siren. Every week we'll post about what books we have received that week (via your mailbox/library/store bought)!

At The Romance Reviews, we'll be doing this meme once a fortnight.

Remember how I loved Bonds of Justice so much? I can't resist, so I went to get the first 4 books in Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling series! Hope I'll have the time to read.

Oh, wait, wait! I got a great idea! I can double these books for my Whittling the TBR meme. And it's great how things turned out, coz Nalini Singh's series has been in my TBR for like ages! *evil laugh* In fact, Slave to Sensation is my WTT pick last week!

If the books are all like Bonds of Justice, I bet all of them are awesome. I just wish they have better covers.

Dive into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind—and none of the heart...

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of "rehabilitation"— the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was....

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion—and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities—or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation...

Available at Book Depository (print).

Go deeper into the world of the Psy and the changelings, where a gifted woman sees passion in her future-a passion that is absolutely forbidden by her kind...

Used to cold silence, Faith NightStar is suddenly being tormented by dark visions of blood and murder. A bad sign for anyone, but worse for Faith, an F-Psy with the highly sought after ability to predict the future. Then the visions show her something even more dangerous-aching need...exquisite pleasure. But so powerful is her sight, so fragile the state of her mind, that the very emotions she yearns to embrace could be the end of her.

Changeling Vaughn D'Angelo can take either man or jaguar form, but it is his animal side that is overwhelmingly drawn to Faith. The jaguar's instinct is to claim this woman it finds so utterly fascinating and the man has no argument. But while Vaughn craves sensation and hungers to pleasure Faith in every way, desire is a danger that could snap the last threads of her sanity. And there are Psy who need Faith's sight for their own purposes. They must keep her silenced-and keep her from Vaughn...

Available at Book Depository (print).

Explore new heights of sensuality in this return to the world of the Psy—where two people who know evil intimately must unlock the good within their icy hearts...

As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now a defector, his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins—cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna...

Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted—and had her mind violated—by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives...

Available at Book Depository (print).

Nalini Singh pulls away another dark layer of sheer desire, revealing passions unknown, in her latest novel about the world of the Psy. A ghost returns from a leopard changeling's past, making him question everything—even his base animal instincts...

Clay Bennett is a powerful DarkRiver sentinel, but he grew up in the slums with his human mother, never knowing his changeling father. As a young boy without the bonds of Pack, he tried to stifle his animal nature. He failed...and committed the most extreme act of violence, killing a man and losing his best friend, Talin, in the bloody aftermath. Everything good in him died the day he was told that she, too, was dead.

Talin McKade barely survived a childhood drenched in bloodshed and terror. Now a new nightmare is stalking her life--the street children she works to protect are disappearing and turning up dead. Determined to keep them safe, she unlocks the darkest secret in her heart and returns to ask the help of the strongest man she knows...

Clay lost Talin once. He will not let her go again, his hunger to possess her, a clawing need born of the leopard within. As they race to save the innocent, Clay and Talin must face the violent truths of their past...or lose everything that ever mattered.

Available at Book Depository (print).
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