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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Lethal Nights A Brute Force Novel by Lora Leigh


ABOUT THE BOOK

#1 bestselling author Lora Leigh turns up the heat in her latest novel of high-stakes passion and persuasion featuring the men of Brute Force.

Ilya Dragonovich is no stranger to the dark side. As a safe-house owner for security agency Brute Force, Dragon knows that the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man—and, sometimes, a beautiful woman…

Emma Jane Preston needs help. After her marriage crumbled, she believed she could get back to a normal, happy life. But now she needs the kind of protection that comes at a cost—one that only someone like Dragon can provide. But can Emma Jane trust this handsome, undercover operator to keep her safe when she is in danger of falling into the arms of the deeply seductive, fiery Dragon...and never letting go?

“Leigh’s books can scorch the ink off the page.”
—RT Book Reviews

REVIEW


Ilya and Emma Jane experience a moment of attraction that they do not acknowledge. When Emma Jane's life is in danger, Ilya comes to ensure her safety. What follows is an entertaining, suspenseful, sexy romance. Ilya, as with all the males in the Brute Force series, is very Alpha. Emma Jane is well equipped to deal with his overprotective, demanding manner, and it never feels like Ilya is blatantly trying to control her. I enjoyed getting to know them throughout the conflict and as a couple.

Every Brute Force novel contains this curious undertone of the supernatural. Here it is represented in Ilya's dragon tattoo and how it relates to his heritage and his romance with Emma Jane. I enjoy this aspect of it. The author presents it without explanation, and it is up to the reader to decide how much validity to give to it. 

When the mood strikes me, I appreciate a sexy alpha male and his romance with a take no crap female. Lethal Nights is a worthy addition to the Brute Force saga.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Fever by Donna Grant Release Day Blitz, Excerpt and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK

FEVER by Donna Grant, NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author
Dark Kings Series, Book 16
Releases October 29, 2019

For centuries, the Dragon Kings have lived among mortals, forsaking their true selves. But for Kelton, hiding in the realm of shadows—and existing only in the world of dreams—is no longer an option. A human woman claims to know that he, like other dark warriors of his kind, is real. That the legends about these powerful, seductive men with hearts ablaze are true. And that, with just one embrace, Kelton could destroy her…or love her until the end of time.

Bernadette Davies is an anthropologist who knows better than to fall into the arms of a Dragon King. But how can she resist Kelton when he’s so willing to share his secrets and bare his soul? He hasn’t met a beautiful, trustworthy woman like Bernadette in…forever. But once they give into their mutual desire, their worlds will never be the same. Soon Bernadette must face her dilemma: Should she expose the truth about Kelton in the name of science? Or join him in his battle with the dark forces—in the name of love?

✦Amazon AU→ https://dgrant.co/2IbpvvT
✦Amazon CA→ https://dgrant.co/2HUqH7L
✦Amazon IN→ https://dgrant.co/2YZKXcd
✦Amazon UK→ https://amzn.to/2HUcYOp
✦Indiebound→ https://dgrant.co/2Ibf5wm



Excerpt

She had to calm down or else she was going to get sick. And Bernadette really didn’t want to ruin the rug she now paced on.
Her blood felt like ice in her veins. Her hands were sweating. Her stomach roiled violently, alternating between pain and nausea. And her mind was jumbled so tightly that she wasn’t sure she would ever sort anything out again.
Her life had been sedate and boring – and she’d liked it. She liked waking up at the same time every day, having a cup of tea and toast as she read the news on her mobile before getting ready for the day. She’d enjoyed going into work and being good at her job, of having friends, and even eating at the same places for lunch every week. She liked stable and constant. There hadn’t been any surprises.
But all that changed one fateful rainy night. With one image, she’d kissed her peaceful life good-bye without a second’s hesitation. She gave up her home, belongings, friends, and even her career for what? To chase something she knew to be real but the rest of the world didn’t?
She stopped and leaned her hands on the back of the sofa. The leather was cool to the touch. She drew in a breath and slowly released it in an effort to calm herself, but it didn’t work. Finally, she lifted her gaze to Keltan who watched her patiently.
The recent fad with men sporting beards hadn’t been her favorite. In fact, she’d always preferred men to be clean shaven, but she quite liked the beard on Keltan. It accentuated his strong jaw and his wide lips.
Bernadette hastily looked away. She didn’t know why she kept looking at his mouth. It wasn’t as if he was attracted to her or anything.
She cleared her throat and dropped her chin to her chest. “I was once a respected anthropologist. I had a great career.”
“I know. I looked into you.”
Her head snapped up. His gaze caught and held hers. “I gave it all up that night I saw one of you.”
“In Glasgow?”
“Yes,” she said with a nod.
Keltan swallowed, regret tightening his face. “You didna see one of us.”
“I know what I saw. It was a dragon.”


REVIEW


Every Dark King book by Donna Grant is a treat, and Fever is no exception. The Dragon Kings are sexy Scots with an enormous sense of honor and chivalry. In Fever, we meet Kelton as he connects with Bernadette, who is determined to show the world dragons exist. Fever is an intense ride. The series is so close to its conclusion, and so many things are at stake. Admittedly at one point in the narrative, I took a peek at the end of the story. The anticipation was too much for me. 

The romance between Kelton and Bernadette is what you would expect from this series. An almost instant attraction exists between the two, but it doesn't hinder my enjoyment. Kelton and Bernadette's journey is unique to them and worth the experience. 

Random spoilery thought: As much as Con's absence bothers me, I enjoy Ulrich in charge. It is a valid way to experience the what-if of it all, and he is doing a marvelous job. 

The early copy of Fever I received is a great read. I suggest it to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance. All relevant information from past books is explained in Fever. Although this late in the series do yourself a favor and read from the beginning, it is quite a ride. Now, I confront what always seems like a long wait for the subsequent book in the series. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Widow of Rose House by Diana Billar Blog Tour Stop, Excerpt and Review

The Widow of Rose House: A Novel by [Biller, Diana]

ABOUT THE BOOK

Diana Biller’s debut novel, THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE (St. Martin’s Griffin; October 8, 2019; $16.99), is a gorgeous piece of prose, with a decidedly dark Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers everywhere. 

Prior to penning this novel, Biller had one idea in mind: “Edith Wharton, ghost hunter.” After touring Wharton’s estate, The Mount, and the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, New York, she came away with a wealth of inspiration, and THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE was born. 

It’s 1875, and New York’s Gilded Age is in full swing. After fleeing her abusive husband, Alva Webster spent three years being pilloried in the newspapers of two continents. Now he’s dead, and she’s returned to New York to start over, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion for her new home decoration book and hopefully her reputation in the process. So when the eccentric and brilliant Professor Samuel Moore appears, threatening her fresh start with stories of a haunting at her house, she refuses to give him access. Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts. 


A pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, Sam’s latest obsession is ghosts. When he learns about a house with a surprising number of ghost stories, he’s desperate to convince its beautiful owner to let him study it. Can he find his way into her house...and her heart?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DIANA BILLER lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their very good dog. THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE is her debut novel. 

Excerpt

“Arise, New York City, February 1, 1875
Alva stood on the city sidewalk and sucked in a deep, triumphant gulp of air. The clock had just struck ten—the middle of the eve­ning by New York City standards—and she was surrounded by elegantly dressed men escorting women dripping diamonds and rolled up tightly in furs. A few feet from her, the street was busy with carriages. She could smell the city: The damp fog, the sharp tang of refuse, the high floral notes of perfumed women. Horse dung.
Had she missed it? She wasn’t sure, although she knew she missed the steep, tangled streets of Montmartre already. But it was America that held her future now, even as it held her past. For a second her triumph was tempered by the remembrance of the thin envelope in her pocket, a few brief lines from her mother’s secretary, thanking her for her interest in visiting and regretting that Mrs. Rensselaer would be unable to see her. Alva knew her mother, likely even now sitting down to a stiff dinner with her husband and twelve of their closest friends fifty blocks away, did indeed feel regret. She just suspected it was about giv­ ing birth to her at all.
The restaurant door opened behind her, and, recalled to the moment, she signaled to the boy hailing cabs to find her one.
“Excuse me,” a deep voice said. “Mrs. Webster?”
Oh, for heaven’s sake. Couldn’t she stand outside for one min- ute without some intrepid lothario assuming she must be wait­ ing for him? In the less than seventy­two hours she’d been back in the States, she’d been propositioned eleven times. Twice by friends of her father’s.
She glanced over her shoulder at the man, receiving an in­ stant impression of big, though he stood mostly in the shadows. “I don’t know you,” she said, her voice flat. “Go home to your wife.”
“But I don’t have a wife,” the man said. He took a hesitant step towards her, leaving the shadows, and her eyebrows lifted. He looked more like a laborer than a man finishing a dinner at Delmonico’s, for all he was dressed in a suit and tie. Sort of dressed, she amended; the suit looked like it had been made for someone two inches shorter and two inches narrower across the shoulders. “Do I need a wife to talk to you? Is it a chaperone sort of thing? I have a mother, but she’s in Ohio.”
Alva blinked. “You’re not very good at this,” she observed. “I’m not a man, but I don’t think it’s standard behavior to invoke one’s mother at a time like this.”
They stared at each other in puzzlement. He was attrac­ tive in the sort of way she’d always imagined the heroes of west­ ern folktales to be: tall, broad shouldered, with a strong nose and a square jaw. He could stand to add barber to the list of people he needed to see, though, the one that started with tailor. Actually, looking at the way his dark blond hair fell into his eyes, she thought he’d better have it start with barber and go from there.
“There’s been a misunderstanding,” he said finally. “Perhaps if I introduce myself—my name is Professor Samuel Moore.”
He held out his hand. She looked at it, looked up at him, and did not extend her own. Bafflingly, he smiled at her, as though she’d done something rather clever.
Was he really a professor? He certainly didn’t look like one, not that it mattered, because she made it a policy, these days, never to talk to strange men—
“A professor of what?” she heard herself saying, although she was pleased it at least came out with a nice air of sarcasm and disbelief.
“This and that,” he said, still smiling. “Engineering, mostly.” She looked at his rumpled clothes. Yes, she could see that, one of those men who always had a tool in one hand and a grease can in the other. She didn’t know they were giving professorships out to men like that, but why not, after all? She was as apprecia­tive of things like trains and working carriage wheels as the next
person.
And now she’d gone and encouraged him. Stupid. “I see,” she said as coldly as she could manage. “Well, I’m not interested, so I’ll wish you good evening.”
“But how can you know if you’re not interested?” He shook his head in confusion, still smiling at her. The smile was . . . im­ pressive. “I haven’t even explained my proposition, yet.”
“I find that if you’ve heard one proposition, you’ve heard them all,” she replied. Stop talking to him, you idiot. “They’re not as unique as men would like to believe.”
“But—who else has approached you? Was it Langley, from Yale?” His tone turned plaintive. “How did he hear about this before me?”
“Langley—who?”
“Piers Langley,” he said. “No? I can’t think of anyone else reputable—look here, if you’ve been approached by anyone from that quack Santa Fe institute you should know they’re absolute frauds.”
“Institute?” Alva said faintly. “What on earth are you talking about?”
“Your house, of course. I hadn’t realized I was so behind on the news.” His face fell—What must it be like to let all your emotions float freely on your face?—but he nodded gravely. “If it’s Langley, though, he’s an excellent researcher, and a decent human, too.”
“It’s not Lang—what do you want with my house?” It was her turn to sound plaintive.
“But that’s what—” He stared at her, his brows crunched to­gether. “Oh god. I wasn’t—I wouldn’t—”
To her astonishment, a distinct touch of pink appeared in his cheeks. He cleared his throat.
“I beg your pardon, ma’am. Henry warned me—that is, I shouldn’t have; my proposition is not of an intimate nature.”
“I’m coming to understand that,” she said.
“You thought . . . do men . . . they must—good lord.”
She began to feel in charity with this befuddled giant. “In­ deed,” she said. “I quite agree. But I must ask again—what is it you want with Liefdehuis?”
“To study it,” he said. “One of my personal interests is in metaphysical energies, you see, and from what I’ve heard, your house may prove a most interesting case. Your ghost story is so recent, you know. I hardly ever hear one claiming to be that new—”
He broke off as she shook her head. “You almost had me con­ vinced that you were unlike the majority of your sex,” she said. “And now I see you are. I’m just not sure insanity is much of an improvement.”
To her surprise, he smiled again. “You’re not the only one who thinks so,” he said. The embarrassment had left his face; he was quite relaxed once more. A man who apologizes for a proposition and grins at an insult, Alva thought. Where did you come from, Professor Moore?
“And I’ll admit there’s no conclusive evidence yet,” he con­tinued, “but what I have collected looks extremely promising. Certainly promising enough to warrant extensive study.”
A hint of cold pierced her thoughts. Firmly, she banished it. “You’re talking about ghosts,” she said.
“Maybe,” he replied. “Or I could be studying some kind of alien intelligence that just happens to concentrate in areas cor­ responding to local folklore.”
“Alien intelligence.”
“Invisible alien intelligence,” he clarified. “At least invisible to the naked human eye. But ‘ghost’ is probably the easiest term.”
“Really.”
“People tend to go a bit strange when you talk to them about invisible alien intelligences,” he confided. “Which is odd, when you think about it, because why are the shades of one’s dead an­cestors any less unsettling?”
She found herself nodding before the rest of her wits caught up with her. “No,” she said, not because the word corresponded with any particular question, but because she had the feeling the only way to survive here was to stick to very black­and­white words. His nuances were both compelling and sticky. “I’m afraid I won’t give you access. I don’t believe in ghosts, and I’m about to start several months’ worth of building work.”
“Don’t decide yet,” he begged. “I’m willing to pay you for the privilege, and I promise I won’t be in the way . . . although there is rather a lot of equipment, so I suppose—”
The boy hailing cabs caught her eye and gestured as a han­ som pulled up beside him.
“That’s mine,” she said. “I’m sorry I can’t help you. Good evening.”
“Wait!” he said. “I’ll—I’ll send you a letter. Henry said that was the way to do it—I’ll write you and explain more.”
“It won’t help,” she said as the cab boy helped her into the carriage. “I’m sorry. Good­bye, Professor Moore.”
Finally, he sighed acceptance and raised his hand. “Good evening, Mrs. Webster.”
As the cab pulled away from the sidewalk, though, she looked back at him, to find him staring after her with his hands shoved in his pockets and that apparently irrepressible grin back in place. An uncomfortable lightness expanded in her chest as she watched him standing head­and­shoulders taller than the passersby around him, looking back at her as though he would be perfectly happy never to look at anything else ever again.
What couldn’t I get, if I could look at people like that? she thought, and settled grumpily back against her seat.


REVIEW


The Widow of Rose House is a charming and unique historical romance by Diana Billar. Most historical romances don't interest me due to my dislike of the aristocracy that always seems to be present. Alva and Sam are better than that world. Alva is venturing to succeed on her own, and Sam lives in his scientific world pursuing his ideas. The supernatural in the form of ghosts is fascinating and mysterious, but what I most enjoyed is witnessing the romance between Alva and Sam unfold. Alva and Sam are charismatic, and their banter is tremendous fun. I enjoyed reading an early copy of the Widow of Rose House by Diana Billar. This book is worth checking out for those who enjoy a bit of paranormal with their romance, in a gothic mansion setting.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy Blog Tour Stop, Excerpt and Review October 1st

ABOUT THE BOOK

A PRISONER OF FATE

As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people

free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MEN

ConrĂ­, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JEFFE KENNEDY is an award-winning, bestselling author who writes fantasy, fantasy romance, and contemporary romance. She serves on the Board of Directors for SFWA as a Director at Large. 

Her most recent works include Prisoner of the Crown and the upcoming Exile of the Seas, from her high fantasy trilogy from Rebel Base books, The Chronicles of Dasnaria, in the same world as her award-winning fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms. She is a hybrid author, and also self-publishes a fantasy series, Sorcerous Moons. Her books have won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015, been named Best Book of June 2014, and won RWA’s prestigious RITA® Award.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and on Twitter @jeffekennedy.
Author website: JeffeKennedy.com 
The SFF Seven blog: https://sffseven.blogspot.com/ on Sundays
Author Twitter: @jeffekennedy
SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts

Excerpt

“Arise, Your Highness. The realm awaits the sun of Your presence.”
The ritual words cut through the thick smoke of the nightmare, bringing me awake with a start. A bad omen that I hadn’t come out of the dreams on my own—and a sign that gave the images the power to linger in my mind, stains refusing to be scrubbed clean.
The wolf fought its chains, howling in hoarse rage, shedding fire and ash.
The sea churned, bloodred and crimson dark, bones tossed in the waves, white as foam.
The tower fell into a pile of golden rubble, then to fine sand, the grains sliding against one another with soul-grinding whispered screams.
I loathe dreaming, where I have even less control than in the waking world. Calanthe Herself sings sweetly to me of the seas, the plants, and the creatures that walk Her soil. But outside our fragile island, the abandoned lands beyond cry like frightened children in the night. I can’t help them. It’s all I can do to protect Calanthe, and most days I despair of being able to do even that.
Still, with no one else to hear them, they call to me in chaotic images, the nightmares dashing me from one dark scenario to the next. No matter how the dreams plague me, I usually wake when the light of the rising sun reddens my eyelids. I keep my eyes closed, pretending to anyone who checks on me that I’m still asleep. Pulling the pieces of my composure together, I listen to the morning song of Calanthe. The birds sitting high in the canopy to catch the first warming rays of the sun show me the sky. The fish swimming in the sea speak of clean water and plentiful food. Even the trees, the flowers, the small insects in the soil all hum to me of their lives.
All reassure me of the balance, that Calanthe, at least, is peaceful and vital.
Only I and the land I’m tied to exist in that time after sleep and before true waking, in what I call the dreamthink, an almost enchanted bubble where I belong entirely to Calanthe. The emperor does not own me. The crying lands he’s orphaned are silent. My ladies have not yet woken me to wrenching reality and the trials of the day ahead.
Dreams always seem to me a terrible price to pay for the succor of sleep. Neither my naturalists nor my physicians seem to be able to explain the purpose of such dreams. And of course, Anure killed all the wizards, so I have none to tell me if magic can answer those nighttime screams. So without answers, and like the exorbitant tithes I’m forced to send to the emperor, I do pay the price, and nightly. The dreamthink is my reward, my time with Calanthe. A gift arising from waking Ejarat of the earth welcoming the return of Her husband, Sawehl of the sun. In the dreamthink, in Calanthe’s sweet communion, I can believe the old gods are with us still, that they haven’t abandoned us. That I have reason to hope.
“Euthalia, wake up. We’re ready,” Tertulyn whispered in my ear. My first lady-in-waiting, doing her duty as always. She couldn’t know she’d woken me from the nightmare instead of the dreamthink. Or that starting my day this way meant it would be certainly cursed.
No one believes in omens or curses anymore. Or hope, for that matter. In this, too, I am alone.
Euthalia is a mouthful, but no one calls me that except for Tertulyn so it doesn’t matter. Only Emperor Anure has the rank to address me by my given name, and I avoid conversation with His Imperial Nastiness to the best of my ability. Tertulyn has called me by my name since we were children, but only when no one can overhear, as etiquette demands.
As if she’d whispered them into my ear along with my name, the concerns of the realm immediately flooded my mind. The emperor’s emissary should have returned in the night and would want an audience with me—something I’d been dreading, as he never brought good news. Rumors had spread of slave uprisings, possibly even rebellion, as unlikely as that would be, that had the emperor both angry and insecure in his power. The worst possible combination in a man like him.
If I believed a rebellion could succeed, I would rejoice in the battle to come. But I had no hope of that. No one could defy Anure’s vast power and ability to destroy the least whimper of resistance, as all those kingless and queenless lands testified, crying their hopelessness to me every night.
No, such rumors meant the Imperial Tyrant would only tighten his fist—one that already strangled us nearly to death. The prospect of worse to come made me inexpressibly weary, and I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet.
Nevertheless, I had to face the day. A realm awaited the sun of my presence, after all.
I opened my eyes and pasted a serene smile on my lips.
Tertulyn—already wigged, gowned, and decked in fresh flowers—stood a decorous three steps back from my bed, hands folded over her heart. All equally polished and lovely as morning dew, my five junior ladies awaited in a ring around her. They’d all been up since well before dawn to dress themselves before attending me. And yet their eyes sparkled as brightly as the birds that had shown me the sun on the sea, pretty painted lips curved in delighted smiles. Though I was only twenty-six, they made me feel old.
If a witch offered me a magic potion to remove the last ten years and restore my youth—and the innocent belief I’d had then, that my life would be a good one—I’d down it without question. Even if it meant my death the next day. No, that was a lie. I would never shirk my duty to Calanthe, not even for such a fantasy. Not without an heir to take my place. No matter how old and tired I felt.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Catch Me Twice by Charmaine Pauls


ABOUT THE BOOK

A STANDALONE, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE

“An amazingly written, heart-wrenching story of a man lost and the woman who helps him find himself—a second-chance romance unlike any other.” – Anna Zaires, New York Times bestselling author

If a man tells you he’s no good for you, best heed the warning. I learned the hard way. I had Jake Basson’s baby. He left to chase his dream. Now he’s back, demanding a second chance, but why should I give him anything after four years of nothing? No correspondence, no news. I finally have my life back on track. Jake has never been uncomplicated. He never follows the rules. I should’ve known he’d play dirty. He caught me once. I’m not going to let him catch me twice.

(Disclosure: This story contains cheating. HEA guaranteed.)

REVIEW

Kristi and Jake marry young. Kristi spends the next four years apart from Jake, struggling to raise their child among prejudice, while he pursues his dreams of professional success.

I have decided that Charmaine Pauls is a guilty pleasure that I absolutely adore. Her novels typically have dark content that is often taboo and highly sensual. The characters suffer a challenging time before obtaining their hea, but in the end, they are considerably stronger for it. I feel connected to the characters through their distress, and that inevitable ending we all look for in a romance becomes more fulfilling. Despite acts that are less than optimal, the endurance and sincerity endear me to them. In Catch Me Twice Jake screws up badly, but I never felt he did not deserve a second chance. When Kristi wavers, I don't blame her, nor do I judge her for her ultimate decision.

Charmaine Pauls has done it again. Reading this early copy of Catch Me Twice honestly was as enjoyable as her prior works, which I have loved every one. I enthusiastically recommend Catch Me Twice for lovers of romance. Catch Me Twice fits is a good fit for those who prefer a little struggle before happily ever after.