Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wedlocked by Erin Aislinn

After ten years of giving Erani the protection of his name in marriage, Farhad must finally fulfill his promise and set her free. It is time for her to make her own decisions and take her rightful place in the world. Although he has always kept a respectful distance, Erani has fallen in love with Farhad years ago. She has decided that Farhad will be the one to take her virginity, and she refuses to grant him a divorce until he gives her a real wedding night.

Reviewer: Fashionta
Wedlocked is a novella that left me unsatisfied. The author kept introducing more information through minor characters who played a role in the Erani and Fahad's past and it was annoying that she only gave tidbits of information when she did this. For example, Erani’s best friend is named, explained how they met, and where she currently lives, but she never actually made an appearance or got a voice.

I give three stars. I wish this novella was written as a novel. There is so much explored in those few pages. It left so many unanswered questions as the author dwelled on the past and present when explaining the connection between the two characters.

Publisher: House of Erotica
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Tantric Zoo: A Bud Warhol Mystery by Rob Loughran

At a Tantric Sex retreat in 1987 a participant is murdered and buried by the other campers. The body isn't discovered until 2008. Enter Forensic Anthropologist Bud Warhol who tracks down the murderer and also discovers how two decades of guilt have affected all the characters in this Tantric Zoo.

Reviewer: avidscribe
I submit this review with the remembrance of not liking Rob’s other book, Teenage Pussies From Outer Space and I said so, loud and clear, not considering for a moment that there’s a person with a vested interest and feelings behind the words.

I felt such remorse when he so very kindly responded to my review thanking me anyway. It takes a strong and healthy ego to stand up to a negative review and I was much touched by his gentle words. When we were approached to do another novel of his, I begged to be the one to do it, wanting to give him another go. I had hoped the first book was simply a bad fit for me, which I can testify now that it was. This second book is a more serious novel and, while it had its wry moments (and what I now feel is his inherent dark, off center humor), it is more an involving story about the corrosive quality of guilt and the unraveling of the lives suffering it.

This is a two part story with a murder and a mystery.

Part 1—CRIME—is set in 1987
What starts out as a diverting weekend for eight couples spending a weekend together to explore their relationships and get in touch with their sexuality turns deadly. The Sexual Therapy and Exploration Retreat at Tantricity Hill under the leadership of April and Altair aka William McCormick brings together eight couples, all strangers to one another, together for a three day sex seminar in California.

The price is steep, the resort secluded. April and Altair run this retreat with the canned theme that love is a gift to give to each other. Two couples are there to explore themselves, each one there for different reasons. Helena, facing down 52 and a recent widow, is there with Blake, her paid escort, a much younger man who needs Viagra to achieve an erection. Missy and Arnold are there to rediscover each other after her miscarriage and the collapse of his business. It’s been over a year since the devoted married couple have made love.

Enter Devon and Debra. A Hollywood Power Couple, Debra has come to obtain the fortitude to tell Devon she wants out of her fishbowl existence. She feels like she hasn’t been authentic with herself for years. She thinks she curses men who cleave to her and means nothing but ruin for their lives. She bonds instantly with Missy who she sees as a kindred spirit. Devon is secretly gay and his selfish pursuit of a film script cost the life of his lover and rendered him impotent in guilt. Unknown to Debra, he, too, wants out of the relationship.

The weekend spins dangerously as April and Altair worry that the Hollywood couple could expose them as fakes and destroy their livelihood. Their camp has been an indulgence for bored upper middle class Americans and now is breaking down. Two people decline to disrobe, wearing disappointment and tragedy on their faces truly expecting the weekend’s activities can alleviate their pain. It cannot. Altair questions whether Helena has paid Blake to come with her and worries they are there only to revel in activities they probably wouldn’t attempt with someone they love, respect or even tolerate.

Kinship between the couples soon forms as they divide themselves up and divulge their reasons for coming to retreat with their new friend. With so many secrets spread out on the table, the author throws in a Hollywood gossip reporter following a tip that Devon and Debra are at this retreat, a story that could prove a bomb to their careers. The reporter's appearance is a surprise and a welcome addition to the storyline. She takes her photos, and, with the damaging snaps, heads back to California thrilled with her success.

Shortly after, Debra discovers Devon is dead with his head bashed in. It wasn't Debra who is horrified and admits she thought he was simply sleeping so hadn't disturbed him. It could be ruin for all so a plan forms and the group buries him in a makeshift grave and quickly depart the retreat, agreeing to silence the whole affair.

Part 2—PUNISHMENT—2008
The land has passed hands and now belongs to the Poemo Tribe who were its original settlers. The sacred land is barely under construction for a big-ass casino when a backhoe dredges up poor Devon’s bones. Bud Warhol, forensic anthropologist, comes to investigate to decide if the bones are human or animal, if this is a missing persons case solved, an ancient burial site or a crime scene.

It’s a crime.

Not much has changed in the intervening years. Altair has a cult following with his book God is Voyager and runs a clinic called Journeys which is eerily like the retreat at Tantricity Hill but now with muscle and religion. April is now his ex-wife and runs a cafe on her own. Secrets from the ‘80s start to unravel as the reporter has now published the photos. If those bones belong to Devon who is the Devon that Debra is still with? The question is answered a few pages later as we read a conversation between April and Altair. Blake is now passing as Devon! The seven strangers are still bonded by this murder because of a secret pact. Despite the pact, Missy reveals all to Bud when he makes the journey to visit her. It is somewhat disappointing a reveal as it was too early in the read and makes Bud seem inadequate as a forensic anthropologist as his character has not been allowed to make any conclusions beyond the identity of the body. This is followed by a confession and we are given the connection between the murderer and Devon. With that sorted out, Bud goes to question the man at the center of this—Altair—and we get a hell of a twist to the story I didn’t see coming. Nicely done! Altair is murdered and there is a new who-done-it as Bud winds up getting arrested but quickly gets himself released from all charges. Finally in his element, Bud reaches more conclusions as he ably solves the second murder.

I give this a solid three stars. I enjoyed the concept of the story and the characters were engaging and very fleshed out. The pressures of their lives are sensitively and believably drawn and the dialog is witty and often hilarious. However, the story dragged between the reporter's arrival and the murder of Devon and I struggled through it. The mystery isn’t revealed until much later in the story. I lost my suspension of disbelief with the reporter, I admit. Why wouldn’t Debra or Devon have sued or tried to close down the website they were posted on? I’d also like to add that I’d hoped for a more dramatic reveal of the murderer after there was so much build-up to the moment. Still, an excellent story and well written.

A suggestion to the author is that he includes his story in the subgenre of Erotica. The tag of sex I would contest is not telling enough what with positions of the Kama Sutra being performed with descriptive narrative accompanying it.

Publisher: Bubba Caxton Books: a Division of Foul Mouthed Bard Press

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Watch by Peter Hansen

Do you want to live? In the darkness of a WWI battlefield, young Legionnaire Edouard Montreuil lies dying. As teeth nibble his flesh, a voice whispers, Do you want to live? Frightened and desperate, Edouard bargains his freedom for a second chance.

Aboard the Flèche, a grim submarine captained by the nightmare who granted Edouard new life, Edouard pays the price for his survival. Each night, he gives his body to his captain as the bells sound first watch. But surviving is not living, and as the days stretch into months beneath the waves, Edouard grows desperate for escape.

Can Edouard’s old comrade Farid Ruiz help him break this devil's bargain, or will Ruiz fall to the same fate, trapped beneath the waves at the mercy of a monster whose hunger knows no bounds? Edouard and Ruiz served together once before, and slept together too, but courage and passion failed to save them from the eldritch beasts who roamed the night. This time, the cost of failure is nothing so clean or simple as death, and the spoils of victory are not just life, but love.

Reviewer: Carolina Fruitfly
First off, I want to say that this book was not what I expected. I expected a MM romance with something otherworldly involved. What I got was more of a supernatural story with a quick sex scene at the end.

That's not to say that First Watch was a bad read, it wasn't by any means. Edouard has been giving his body and his life essence to the creature known only as "The Captain" since the day Edouard lay dying on a WWI battlefield. He survived, but is he really living? Every time he tries to escape, The Captain finds him, and so now he is aboard the submarine, the Fleche. Every night at first watch, Edouard goes to The Captain, a creature who has the ability to appear human when he wants, but underneath his human skin, he is more akin to a villain out of Pirates of the Caribbean, a creature with tentacles, mouths, and razor sharp teeth! Every night, Edouard gives his body to The Captain. Every night he suffers horrible indignities, pain, and, we are led to believe dubious consensual sex.

Unable to take it anymore, Edouard contacts his old friend Feliz, and begs him to help dispatch The Captain. This leads to a somewhat inept attempt to gain Edouard's freedom. I felt it was a good story, but a bit quick. We didn't really get to know much about The Captain, Edouard, or his and Feliz's relationship. I'm not even entirely sure if they managed to kill The Captain, or if they have merely escaped for now. It would be interesting to see if this author decided to fill out the story a bit more, so that we know more about the characters and where the creature came from. I would recommend this to anyone looking for something quick and a bit scary, but not to true romance fans, because they will be sadly disappointed.

All in all I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars. The story was good, editing was great, it just wasn't what I was expecting.

Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

The Hermetica of Elysium (Elysium Texts 1) by Annmarie Banks

1494 Barcelona. As Torquemada lights the fires of religious fervor throughout the cities of Spain, accused heretics are not the only victims. Thousands of books and manuscripts are lost to the flames as the Black Friars attempt to purge Europe of the ancient secrets of the gods and the bold new ideas that are ushering in the Renaissance.

Nadira lives a dreary life as servant to a wealthy spice merchant until the night a dying scholar is brought to the merchant’s stable, beaten by mercenaries who are on the hunt for The Hermetica of Elysium. To Nadira, words are her life: she lives them as her master’s scrivener and dreams them in her mother’s poetry. She is pursued as passionately as the fabled manuscript for her rare skill as a reader of Ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic and Hebrew that makes her valuable to men who pursue the book to exploit its magic.

Kidnapped by Baron Montrose, an adventurous nobleman, she is forced to read from the Hermetica. It is soon revealed to her that ideas and words are more powerful than steel or fire for within its pages are the words that incite the Dominicans to religious fervor, give the Templars their power and reveal the lost mysteries of Elysium.

As Nadira begins her transformation from servant to sorceress, will she escape the fires of the Inquisition, the clutches of the Borgia pope, Alexander VI and the French king, Charles VIII? And will Montrose’s growing fear of her powers cause her to lose her chance for love?

Reviewe: QueenBee
To be an educated woman in the 1400’s was rare and the author has taken the opportunity to explore this by creating a well crafted book about a heroine who is above her peers. With the ability to speak in 6 languages and write in some of them, she's considered such a rarity that people are willing to kill for her. This is more than a historical story, it is a piece of fiction that has elements of drama, romance, and more, to create a story that will be enjoyed by all.

I have to give four and half stars, because there was no warning that the story was ending, also, there was no warning that we were getting an excerpt of the next book. I received an ARC so it could possibly be changed once its published electronically and in paperback. Otherwise, it was a satisfying and riveting read from the author.

Publishing Date: Dec. 8, 2011
Publisher: Knox Robinson Publishing

Monday, November 28, 2011

Men Under the Mistletoe by Josh Lanyon, Harper Fox, Ava March, K.A. Mitchell

A man receives the gift of pleasure at the hands of two expert lovers. Boyhood sweethearts get a second chance at romance. Two very proper gentlemen indulge their forbidden desires. And a Christmas tree farmer has an epiphany. It may be cold outside but these four holiday novellas will warm you up.

Anthology includes:
My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March
Winter Knights by Harper Fox
Lone Star by Josh Lanyon
The Christmas Proposition by K.A. Mitchell

Stories also available for purchase separately.

Reviewer: Fashionta
My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March
Thomas’ fear of disappointing his family and society led him to leave his love Alexander (Sasha to him) on the most important of nights and now four years later he is willing to do anything to win him back. As usual Ava March takes us through the ups and downs of love between men in old England. The Christmas night that was supposed to be the saddest memory for Sasha became the best he ever had. I loved the story, although it is very similar to her other books.

Winter Knights by Harper Fox
A nice story but God, it was so slow I don’t know how I finished it. Honestly, I would have skipped it, but I am the type that has to finish a book once I start, and I am glad I did because the ending was not what I expected! There was lots of details in the story that did not make sense to me, for example the miscommunication between the two characters that went on for three years, even the Christmas present of a sex toy doesn’t seem right when the two didn't have proper sex during their time together.

Lone Star by Josh Lanyon
This is about reminiscing, correcting past mistakes, and finding a future together. A very sweet story, of love lost and found. Beautifully written.

The Christmas Proposition by K.A. Mitchell
A beautiful story. It made me smile so many times. I just loved it, the setting and characters were amazing, what we always expect from K.A. Mitchell. I would love to read more about Bryce and Mel.

All in all, I give this anthology 3 stars.

Publishing Date: Dec. 05, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press
Review Courtesy Of: NetGalley

Mastering Lady Macalister by Angela Claire

Lady Ainsley Macalister has fallen on hard times. Her brother gambled away the family fortune and their ancestral home. Now she's expected to marry Ashcroft Castle's new owner, sight unseen.

Dechlan Ross grew up as a stableboy at Ashcroft Castle. Ousted at eighteen for daring to kiss Ainsley, he’s back seven years later for revenge…and something more.

In the stables, on the bluffs, and in the dungeons they had played in as children, Dechlan shows Ainsley who is master now. Meanwhile, Dechlan's tough American second-in-command, Charlie Wilson, sees the truth about the neighboring Lord Winslow that he has been hiding even from himself, much to Winslow's tortured delight.

In the ancient castle high above the North Sea, Dechlan and Ainsley grapple with a past that is fraught with misunderstandings, a present that is filled with desire, and a future that unseen forces are desperate to see does not repeat the tragedies of the past.

Reviewer: avidscribe
Let me get this off my chest immediately. I am drawn to good book covers and they often persuade me to purchase a book I might otherwise have passed up. I have to mention, through no fault of this writer, the publisher (Siren) of this story was not paying attention to the book content when they okayed this cover. What I see is a very contemporary looking couple, the woman is tiny in proportion and not endowed like the heroine of this story. She’s also sporting brown hair, not burgundy red. The background garden has no relation or reference to the story either. The cover artist should have been entreated to think of something more like Wuthering Heights when this cover was being composed. And why is the guy wearing jeans?? Even treating the cover to a sepia wash could have given some measure of historical feel to it. My graphic design background is showing when I also begrudge the font used for the title that shows no consideration to the author’s historical material and looks bitmapped to boot. Shame on Siren.

This book was listed as historical BDSM, as I recall. I can’t recall ever reading a story with the two combined so I was intrigued. It does, after all, have ‘mastering’ in the title so I expected at least one D/s scene. There was no BDSM at all, just a brief dungeon moment with the toothless threat of a possible spanking. Sex in a dank, dark dungeon ... sure sounds compelling to me, just mind the spiders ... and rats ... and mold! Sigh.

When I saw ‘stableboy’ in the blurb I thought Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff on the moors and initially, the book leaned in that direction. Set in 1873 and then fast forwarded to 1890, we have an orphaned boy growing up in a castle set high above the North Sea on the eastern coast of Northumberland, UK. Even as a youth, Dechlan Ross’ heart belongs to his benefactor’s daughter, Ainsley Macalister, a high spirited girl who plays like a tomboy with her devoted friend. They share everything together until her father sends her away to finishing school and they are separated for long years. When she returns, they find not only has the connection between them not been broken by the passage of time but is now enriched by the awareness of each other as something more than simple friends. There is, however, a class distinction that her father is absolute in his desire to maintain.

Dechlan gets thrown out at the age of 18 and given passage to America for daring to kiss the Lady Ainsley Macalister. The kiss scorches her, overwhelms her senses and she throws herself on him begging for more and arranging to meet him after dark to pick up where they left off. She waits way into the night but he never appears. When she returns to the manor, she is told only that he defamed her name and has been sent away. She longs for him in the intervening years but believes her father's words that Dechlan acted as a cad. She never thinks to see him again.

Her father dies, her brother inherits the estate and, like Catherine Earnshaw’s brother in Wuthering Heights, wastes their fortune on drink and gambling.

It is now seven years later. Forced to sell the ancestral home to pay off his considerable gambling debts, Ainsley’s brother, loving fellow that he is, throws a marriage to Ainsley into the bargain, touting her good name as part of the deal. Sight unseen, someone has agreed and the story starts out with Ainsley arguing with her brother over his retched uncaring handling of the estate and her.

She has remained unmarried, her heart hardened to possible suitors except perhaps Trevor Winslow, but he remains a confirmed bachelor friend who has thwarted every attempt in the past by Ainsley to succumb to her charms. Of course the identity of the savior turns out to be Dechlan, out for revenge and something more. He’s never gotten Ainsley out of his system and he’s hell-bent to extract some payment for the betrayal he thinks he’s had at her hands. There’s miscommunication going on here with both parties feeling aggrieved and the truth lies in a letter written to both of them by the former lord of the manor, Ainsley’s father himself and not read till the end of the story.

It’s a tale of two virginities taken under one roof, perhaps even a metaphorical third as a veil is stripped away and a truth laid open. I wish the story had been more meaty and I particularly wish there had been a more visceral feel to the moment Ainsley’s virginity is taken, from both their POVs.

The book switches between three voices which helps to bring out the emotion and underlying motivations of each character and makes the read more enjoyable. At 99 pages, it's quick and enjoyable, though it misses the mark on being unforgettable by skimping on details and back story.

I stumbled over the word "tits" to describe the heroine’s breasts. In a story created for a female audience the word is harsh and unflattering, common and feels wrong in this historic novel. I am aware, however, that every woman has different words they don’t like when describing body parts and this just happens to be mine.

One more thing I want to mention, a term that I saw that jarred me right out of the moment. The author has been careful with the layering of more historical words such as the use of "chit" and "blunt" and the "lawn" of her nightgown for period feel but then has one of the characters accusing the other of being a drama queen and I cringed. A quick look-up for confirmation shows this term’s first known use wasn’t until 1979!

I'd give this two and a half stars out of five as being only an average read.

Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand Publishing
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Love Turns the Page (Avondale 7) by Etienne

Tom Foster has his life planned out, and he’s systematically pursuing his goals. At twenty-two, he’s been organist and choirmaster at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd for three years, he’s working on his doctoral thesis, and he's beginning a secondary career performing in concert. There is no room in his schedule for romance... until Noah Webster, a gorgeous green-eyed blond, walks into the church one evening to audition for the choir.

What starts as an arrangement of convenience—Tom’s usual page turner is unavailable, and Noah agrees to do the job—soon turns into a fast friendship. Then Noah, who is saddled with an obnoxious roommate, rents the spare bedroom in Tom’s house, and ultimately the two men become lovers and partners in life. But before they can ride off into the sunset together, they must face one major obstacle: Noah’s violent, homophobic Southern Baptist father.

Reviewer: Fashionta
Tom Foster is the organist and choirmaster for The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. He seems to have life figured out, he knows just what he wants and is striving to reach his goals. One of which is performing concerts - which are amazing in themselves! Through all this he never planned to fall in love, but than love doesn't let you choose when it'll happen...

In comes Noah Webster, running from his Southern Baptist family, and his homophobic father. He comes to the The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd looking to join the choir, ends up becoming Tom's page turner - which results in a strong friendship. Noah needs out of the place he lives, and Tom offers up his spare room, so now they are roommates! Soon their friendship grows into love, and they become partners in life. They just need to survive Noah's father, who it seems, is going to cause one major problem.

Let me start out with saying I love Etienne's writing! The detail that gets put into any one of Etienne's books is very refreshing. Not only do you get a great feel of the main characters, but the side characters as well. With just enough background on all side character and their stories, yet it doesn’t take away from the main characters. Love Turns the Page is truly amazing, pulling you in from the first page, almost refusing to let you put it down!

I loved the chemistry between Tom and Noah; the emotions were strong and compelling. The way their love developed and grew between them was truly intriguing. The building of the plot was well done; it kept my interest! I got enough of the past to understand how Noah grew up, but not too much that the focus was lost on the present. The struggles Noah had to deal with growing up were feelings that anyone at anytime would have had to go through everyday. Yet he didn’t let them control him.

The way Tom had his life planned out showed determination and focus. Even though he wasn’t looking for love, he accepted it with open arms, and embraced it wholeheartedly. Tom showed amazing support for Noah, encouraging him along at every step. Tom and Noah work well together, building off of each others strengths and weakness.

The Avondale Series is truly entertaining! One should not pass it by; it has enough mystery to keep you turning the pages, without losing focus. For the author to be able to continue a series with many characters is quite a feat!

I give this 4.5 stars, a wonderful read, and definitely recommended!!

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Review Courtesy Of: NetGalley

Seducing Liberty by D.L. Jackson

Out of the mists of time, rides a story of espionage, love, and a 1NightStand.

When Ryann Summers, an actress playing the role of Lady Liberty, an Agent in Washington’s Culper spy ring, asks Madame Eve of 1NightStand for a date, a night she’ll never forget—where her identity is kept secret—she gets more than she bargained for.

Now she’s caught in the middle of the American Revolution and between two of the sexiest men she’s ever set eyes on. If she can survive the musketballs and the invading British forces, she just might find everything she’s been searching for—sex hot enough to set the sea on fire.

Reviewer: Dolce Amore
Well, this book was a little strange to me. It was like having two stories in one!

It starts in 1776, where the rebels are fighting against the British army and Madelyn, though the daughter of a British man, fights for liberty. She doesn’t want to marry her fiancé, Aaron, because he is an officer in British army, not knowing that he is really a spy.

In 2011, Ryann is a famous movie star who wants a ménage. When a friend sends her a message that one has been arranged for her, she is thrilled. But somehow she ends up in the past and she, under the name of Madelyn, has a night with Aaron and his brother, Thomas.

Will she came back to the present day? Or does she remain in the past forever?

The story was very interesting; I loved the way Ms D.L. Jackson writes it. But I was confused too and it made me a little dizzy trying to follow the idea. It might have worked better to have two books, one based on the past and the other on the present, instead of just this one. I would love to know more about the real Madelyn and I hope that Ms D.L. Jackson decides to write a story just about her and Aaron and his brother. That’s why I give it just 3 stars.

Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hearts in the Darkness by Laura Kaye

Makenna James thinks her day can't get any worse, until she finds herself stuck in a pitch-black elevator with a complete stranger. Distracted by a phone call and juggling too much stuff, the pin-striped accountant caught only a glimpse of a dragon tattoo on his hand before the lights went out.

Caden Grayson is amused when a redhead literally falls at his feet. His amusement turns to panic when the power fails. Despite his piercings, tats, and vicious scar, he's terrified of the dark and confined spaces. Now, he's trapped in his own worst nightmare.

To fight fear, they must both reach out and open up. With no preconceived notions based on looks to hold them back, they discover just how much they have in common. In the warming darkness, attraction grows and sparks fly, but will they feel the same when the lights come back on?

Reviewer: QueenBee
It's rare to see a novella which manages to be more than a sex scene and has a detailed storyline. Hearts in the Darkness is one of these rare novellas and it was pleasure to read a book where the author managed to create a story while not cutting the sex scenes. Makenna and Caden’s chance meeting in an elevator sets the precedent for the story and it was amusing to see the typical reactions from a man as Caden discreetly eyes Makenna in the elevator.

The two main characters seemed total opposite at first but it wasn’t the typical butt heads scenario that we usually get in this situation. In fact it was tender and romantic which made the book more enjoyable.

I have to give it 4.5 stars. This book is crying for a sequel, I would really like to see Caden meet Makenna's family since that didn’t happen in this story.

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Dancing With Fireworks by Shawn Bailey

Dances with Fireworks is a collection of stories by Brianna Martini, Audrina Leone, Donna B. Snow, Shelia Burket, and Shawn Bailey celebrating romance and the love of dance.

Reviewer: CitrusFruit
Tripping the Light Fantastic takes place the night before Isaiah and Juan Luis are to have a huge ballet performance in front of the Queen of England. They go out to drink with the other male ballet performers and Juan Luis gets so drunk that Isaiah has to help him get back to his suite. Once there, Juan Luis confesses he has been in love with Isaiah from the moment he first saw him. But Isaiah thinks its wrong for two men to be together so Juan Luis shows him that it is not wrong and can be beautiful between two men. The story ends the following night after the performance with Isaiah stating that he has always been in love with Juan Luis but he just didn't understand his feelings before Juan Luis showed him.

This review is only for Tripping the Light Fantastic by Shawn Bailey. I did not read the entire Dancing with Fireworks Anthology because the other stories are m/f and I hardly ever read that genre. This is the second book by Shawn Bailey that I've read (the first was Cherish which was beyond amazing and I highly recommended to any m/m fan), and although this was just a short novella, I also very much enjoyed this story. I'm giving this 4.5 stars, the only reason it's not 5 is because I just wanted more! I would love to read about when Jean Luis and Isaiah had met two years before or had more about them falling in love with each other.

Publisher: XOXO Publishing
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Friday, November 25, 2011

Junction X by Erastes

Set in the very English surburbia of the 1960's where everyone has tidy front gardens and lace curtains, Junction X is the story of Edward Johnson, who ostensibly has the perfect life. A beautiful house, a great job and a wonderful wife. The trouble is he’s been lying to himself all of his life.  And first love, when it does come, hits him and hits him hard. The object of his passion? The teenaged son of the new neighbours.

Edward’s world is about to go to hell.

Reviewer: TigerLily
Some secrets tattoo themselves on your skin, and Alex was that kind of secret.

WOW. I don’t really know what to say. This book is an intense and emotional journey inside the head of Edward, an unhappyily married man who had a fling with his friend, a sexual release from his monotone life and nothing more untill he sees his neighbor’s teenage son and everything changes for him. For the first time in his 33 years he is in love, with a 17 year old and having feelings and thoughts he can never understand which leads to the end of this epic tragedy.

The acceleration of the story was slow but emotionally disturbing at the same time. Being in someone else’s head, feeling the same feelings and having the same thoughts felt like an intrusion that left me sad. Even their sexual encounters at the beginning were innocent in a way that left me breathless with anticipation. What next? How would the final act be? And at the end it was like poetry more than sex.

I don’t know why this book kept reminding me of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, which is considered one of his best books and for me this is the best of Erastes. I can’t wait to see what she will write next! 5 stars

Publisher: Cheyenne Publishing

Turkish Delights by Liz Crowe

The fifteen year age difference between Elle Kensington, expatriate American executive and Emre Demir, son of Istanbul's most successful businessmen, has not kept them from becoming fast friends as they toured Istanbul together. But the time has come for him to return to the U.S. to finish his master's degree, and she has just been named CEO of the pharmaceutical company that brought her to Turkey in the first place. Elle adores her adopted country, and is alarmed to find herself falling in love with the young man who's been her impromptu guide for the last few months.

She knows they can never be. She will return home to California within a month, leaving behind all she loves about the ancient city. In a rare fit of spontaneity, Elle has contracted with Madame Eve's 1Night Stand dating service, hoping to find a way to forget the dark, handsome young man who has captured her heart. Little does she know what awaits her in the ancient recesses of the Ottoman palace turned luxury hotel under the hands of her one-night stand masseur.

Reviewer: Dolce Amore
This is a short story about Elle, a woman who’ll soon be forty and is in love with a much younger man. She prepares to leave Turkey and her relationship behind because she doesn't think their relation will work. But Elle underestimates his determination.

Emre is a young man who knows what he wants and he wants Elle! When he discovers that she contracted a date with 1 Night Stand, he makes all the arrangements to be her date. But will Elle forgive him?

It is a sensible, sweet book and I enjoyed it, but it was too short to fully reveal Ms. Liz Crowe’s writing style. However, I'd recommend it and give it 3.5 stars.

Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lady Hartley's Inheritance by Wendy Soliman

Clarissa Hartley is distraught when she discovers that her late husband left his entire estate to a son she knows nothing about.

Her godmother's son, Luc Deverill, the Earl of Newbury,suspects fraud. Thrown together during the social whirl of a Regency season in full swing, Luc is increasingly drawn towards Clarissa but she thinks him an idle dissipate and finds little to admire in the ways of high society.

Racing against time to foil those seeking to deceive Clarissa, Luc is horrified when she places herself in the path of danger. At last a woman has dented his impenetrable heart and he rides to her rescue. But has he left it too late to tell her how he feels?

Reviewer: PurpleRose
Clarissa Hartley is a young country widow who would very much prefer to stay in her dear Northumberland instead of having to go to London. But unfortunately, it could not be helped, her man of business had a pressing matter to discuss with her.

Her late father died three years ago and then she married their neighbor. He was a famous Egyptologist, old enough to be her father himself, both men were business partners. As to that husband, he also died fifteen months ago.

All she hopes for now is that all these legal matters will be dealt with and she will have full access to the estate's funds at last. Then, after a short stay with her godmother, Lady Deverill, she will return to her estate because there was so much to be done. The only downside is that she will have to meet with her godmother's son, the Earl of Newbury, who has a terrible reputation as a rake.

No doubt Lucien Deverill, the Fifth Earl of Newbury, knew how to have a good time. But after one of these eventful night, leaving him the next morning with a terrible headache, he asked himself, not for the first time, if all this was worth it. Because frankly, he was so tired of the "ton", everything was becoming a great bore.

She knew it! He was rude, arrogant, opinionated, self-centered, and patronizing. But quickly this very unflattering portrait that Clarissa had built of him fell apart. Luc soon showed her a side that she never expected, his compassion, intelligence, and knowledge on many subjects.

Clarissa is a very unusual young woman. Her mother died during childbirth and she was raised by her father without the help of any governess. She was used to a carefree life, she is outspoken and impetuous but like him she is also very compassionate. It is that very special combination that attracted and fascinated Luc from the start.

Her meeting with Mr. Twining, her man of business, was devastating. Everything she had worked for was gone. Her late husband had a son, and there was an existing will living him everything!

From that moment, Luc takes the lead and will use all the resources at his disposal to bring down the culprit. Because of her impetuosity, stubbornness and even in my opinion stupidity she will find herself in a threatening position, not once but twice.

It was a nice and entertaining regency story with an interesting plot but I can't say I was swept away by it. I give a 3.5/5.

Publisher: Musa Publishing
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Sierra Bride by Suzanne Barrett

Widowed rancher Wade Guthrie needs help raising his unruly young daughter and advertises for a housekeeper. Instead, he finds himself saddled with a mail order bride.

Irish immigrant Corrie Kiernan needs a place to hide. Witness to a brutal murder at the mill where she worked, she’ll do anything to escape the killer who now threatens her life, even if it means marrying a stranger and weaving a web of deception. Falling in love with the handsome rancher is easy, but can a man who values honesty above everything else love a woman whose life is a lie?

Reviewer: RedHibiscus
Wade Guthrie is a single father who is still grieving for his late wife and Corrie Kiernan is an unwanted mail order bride with a secret. She needs a new identity and a place to hide. So, she begins her new life with lies.

What I admired about Corrie's character is she is a very determined lady. Sure, she starts her life based on lies, but she has her reasons. She'd already overcome so many obstacles in her life, and she is strong enough to keep on surviving. Her life might have been hard but she doesn't complain. She's not the educated lady she pretended to be in her letters. She can sew but can’t cook and can barely read but she's willing to learn everything.

Wade is also one tough man with his own secret, together they make a very strong and determined couple. They are willing to accept each other despite all the obstacles and the flaws. If they want to have a happy life as a family they'll have to face their fears and be truthful to each other.

The story held my attention and I give it 3.5 stars.

Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dutch's Boy by Xavier Axelsson

Fulfilling your dream isn’t easy, especially if you’re the son of well-known rodeo rider Dutch Reynolds. Dutch doesn’t want to see his son Harry leave the family ranch until he feels Harry is ready. But for Harry, his dream of riding broncos at the rodeo seems to be passing him by. With the moral support of his best friend Reb, Harry takes his life in his own hands and leaves the ranch before Dutch can stop him. Chance encounters, sex and love soon teach the young cowboy life lessons that he will not forget.

Reviewer: CitrusFruit
I'm giving Xavier Axelsson's Dutch's Boy four stars. I would have given this novella five stars but there just wasn't enough details about the rodeo, and since I know nothing about that lifestyle, I found myself not able to follow it sometimes. It seemed like there should have been a thousand more words to explain how the rodeo circuit worked.

I also had a problem with the character Blake at the beginning of the story; the guy was just completely creepy in my eyes. Later, when he is reintroduced in the story, he grew on me and I found him more enjoyable and his sense of humor was pretty funny. However, at the start of the book when Harry met him on the train and he became Harry's first sexual encounter, Blake had Harry get him off by rubbing his penis with his gun (which he said was loaded) that for me was just totally an eek factor and made me want to skip the scene.

Other than my issue with the lack of info on the rodeo life, Harry was completely adorable and I loved how he had a habit of always talking to himself whenever he was alone. I also liked the love that Harry and Reb shared for each other, you could tell they were both crazy about each other, and I love how jealous Reb was when he found out about Blake and Harry. This was a very nice coming of age story and I liked the ending a lot, I thought it was perfect for the story and proved that Harry wasn't just Dutch's boy.

Publisher: Seventh Window Publications
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Farsighted by Emlyn Chand

Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he's blind. Just when he thinks he'll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all.

Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future.

Reviewer: Fashionta
Farsighted is the debut novel of this promising writer and I gushingly admit I loved the way the book played out. It’s an ethnic young adult read, part mystic, part paranormal. Emlyn Chand drops proverbial bread crumbs to follow and I felt much like Hansel and Gretl making their way into their own storyline. This technique can be done well as in the case of this author who makes the reveals tantalizing without giving too much away.

The story concerns young Alex who is blind and poor, an outcast with no friends. His home life is filled with friction as he hates how his dad behaves when his mom's not around to intercede. School has always been hard for him but this year there’s an extra sort of drama that leaves him baffled and fearful. He hearing things that aren't there—his dad’s voice at random moments along with disassociative odors he can’t place. Soon he finds he is hearing too the voice of a new girl in school, Simmi, who has recently arrived from India. Not knowing what to make of these strange visions, he keeps his newfound ability to himself.

Simmi becomes his real life friend and the disembodied pieces of dialog that he hears become more pronounced and scarier. However, Alex is strong and doesn’t let the occurrences faze him. Concern for his safety and clarity on what exactly is happening to him forces him to seek help from Miss Teak, a fortune teller, who also happens to be a classmate’s mother. As his visions grow in strength, another character pushes his way into them—Dax, who happens to have gifts like him.

Meanwhile, secrets are starting to be revealed and shared. Simmi and Miss Teal’s daughter, Sherri, both have unusual gifts and they form close bonds as friends. Sherri is able to see the dead and communicate with them. Simmi is a clairsentient, a psychic feeler who can manipulate the emotions of others. With such powerful allies, Alex is for the first time in a happy place but as his visions become darker, he remains tense and wary about Dax who is appearing in them more frequently and whose motivations remains unclear.

Alex’s dad gets him a job at Miss Teak’s and then drops the bombshell that he is leaving his family. Consumed with his loss and the continuing darkness that swirls around him, Alex alienates the girls, and learns his power can be heredity.

As things ramp up dangerously, Alex finally makes a decision to take on Dax with the help of both girls he asks the forgiveness of. He has been consumed with worry that the visions are tainting him and turning him into something black and evil. This in turn has forced him to alienate others until a discovery inside a suitcase belonging to his father yields contents that reveal the true nature of his psychic gifts. With the reappearance of his father further into the story, we get the back story of the boy's life. Alex is a psychic magnet drawing in others with their own gifts and he is an important piece in this paranormal game of chess.

I have to give this three and a half stars out of five. The concept is winning and I found the ethnic touches fascinating. India remains a mystery to most people outside it and the author did extensive research to get it right. Still, I’d have liked to have her spend more time detailing the Lorhi festival, the native religion and the strongly held beliefs in psychic mysticism in the country.

A glossary at the end of the book would have been terrific to expand on this knowledge as so many of the words used in this book did not have accompanying descriptions. The author intends to continue with a second book and I can’t wait for it to come out. This was a welcome change from many of the other paranormal books presently out there and presents a world not commonly explored in YA fiction.

Publisher: Blue Crown Press

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sasha's Calling by T.C. Archer

Nothing can stop freelance thief Sasha Smirnov from saving her planet -- except, Dirk, the gorgeous ambassador with polychrome eyes. Is it lust or designer pheromones? He is hot, too hot to resist -- or forget. A single, sizzling kiss burns him into her memory, and her body, but she can't afford to stop for passion, let alone love.

Sasha needs to get as far away from Dirk as possible and take the classified data she stole with her. So she stows away on a ship outward bound, only to discover Dirk's the pilot. Now she can't get away from him, or the system, but he will let her into his bed...

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Public sex.

Reviewer: Fashionta
Sasha Smirnov is desperate. The sun of her homeworld, Magnus 3, was unstable and going nova. She knew that the Centor’s sun was similar and they didn’t have those problems, so she figured out that they must have some type of invention and that it could help them too.

When she was asked by a nasty crime lord to get some kind of retrovirus from Centor, she accepted just to try to find what kind of technology they are using. Everything at first went okay, but a scientist walked in while she was downloading the retrovirus model from Centor’s main computer and he sounded the alarm before she could knock him unconscious. That’s when Sasha finds the huge warp-field generator that could save her sun and she has a video of it.

While she was trying to get flee, she meets Dirk Roscoepilot and she hides in his ship. But her video is destroyed when Dirk turns her in to the Pinks, the ones from Centor, so she steals his ship and runs from the Pinks, Dirk, and her broken heart, knowing that she has to go back where it all started to get some proof of the huge warp-field generator.

Sasha meets Dirk again and this time he wants to help her, but although she still loves him she doesn’t trust him. With four other people, they again enter Centor, but will they get out alive?

I've read Winter in Paradise by Ms. Archer, and I said to myself that this book couldn’t be as good, but I was wrong! This was just as good as the other. The action was fast, interesting, complex, and captivating. The novel gripped me from the start and I could not put it down until I finished it. The interaction between the characters amazed me, especially the heroine.

We have Sasha who is fighting for her planet and her father, because if he has to leave Magnus 3, he will die. She's willing to risk her life, if it's necessary. She falls in love with Dirk, but her goal is still the same, no matter if she has to lose him or lose her life.

Dirk is not so clear like Sasha. He turns her in and when they meet again he tells her he did it for her sake, because he made a deal with the Pink to save her. But we are not sure if he was telling the truth or he lied. Also, we don’t know if he will be with her until the end or he will let her take the blame for being a spy.

I loved the book and the characters, although I would have liked to known Dirk better, so that’s why I will give it just 4.5 stars.

Publisher: Loose Id
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Divinity by Bryl R. Tyne

Martin Hayes has found the perfect job for a 200-year-old vampire. As the late-shift security guard for Spire Industries, he works and hunts by night and sleeps by day, hidden away in the unused cellar. Life is all so easy—nights bleeding away, weeks and months passing . . . until a new janitor disturbs the peace. Martin finds himself consumed by memories (or are they?) of red hair, freckled skin, and a man he knows but doesn't know.

Dylan Mesmer isn’t just a hot, freckled, red-haired janitor. He’s altogether too composed around Martin and never surprised by Martin’s supernatural abilities. In fact, he seems to have a few of his own. And why does he keep feeding Martin orange lollipops?

A healthy vampire has no use for candy, yet Martin cannot resist the lure. It seems he’s being baited, but to what end? And what about those visions that assail him whenever he thinks of Dylan? Their story is centuries old, but this time around, Dylan’s playing for nothing less than immortality. Eternal life—and eternal love, after a sort—is within his reach, but can he convince Martin to change his ways and commit? They may never find their way beyond the anger and the lies, but there's no denying the draw between them, and that's very much worth fighting for—even among themselves.

Reviewer: PurpleRose
Martin is a 200 year old vampire and working as a security guard makes life easier for those late night feedings - right? Well, that all changes when Dylan shows up, and it looks like Dylan might just have some supernatural powers of his own... but what's the deal with Orange Lollipops? And who is Anton?

I went into this book hoping it would be really good. I liked the idea of the plot, it seemed intriguing. Instead, this book left me very confused! It had a lot of jumping around, making it a bit difficult to keep up with what was actually happening. Having to sift through all the memories that seem to pop up everywhere was a bit much.

I liked the story, I liked the idea behind the story, but in the end was left unsatisfied. Perhaps, simply not enough detail? I never really understood what the Orange Lollipops did or what they were for either. The chemistry was off a bit, to much love/hate happening. Maybe, if the story was longer, so more details could have been added about both the past and the present I'd have been able to get more into it.

In all I'd give this 2.5 stars. It's not bad, unfortunately it's not great either.

Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Monday, November 21, 2011

Justice for Emily by Sandy Wolters

Rachael Merchant is on a cross country trip running from the tragic images of her last case that are embedded deep in her soul. She is a City of Phoenix Homicide Detective that is trying to deal with the freak show her life has become.

Three days ago, she was sitting in a hospital room with a man that had just murdered his three small children because he was angry his wife had left him. After making the arrest, she let the perpetrator know that when he got out of prison she was coming after him. He would not be able to hide from her. She left the hospital, went back to work and quit on the spot.

After a great deal of persuading, her captain convinced her that an indefinite leave of absence was in order instead of quitting. She went home, packed her bags and jumped in the car. With no destination in mind, she just drove.

Rachael found herself on the side of the road, unsure of where she was and on the phone with her partner. All she wanted to do was run as fast and as far as she could from the image of those three small babies with bullets in their bodies.

Officer Patrick Sheehan pulls in front of Rachael while she is bent over the hood of her car looking at a map. He overhears the conversation between Rachael and her partner and thanks fate for dropping a homicide detective right in his lap. His good friend, Emily, was murdered just days ago and Patrick knows who killed her, her husband and his boss, the Chief of Police of Brownwood, Texas.

Boyd Campbell has taken extreme measures to cover up his wife's murder but Patrick is going to do everything in his power to put this monster away. He doesn't care what he has to do or say to get this cop to stay and work this case. He needs her help and she is just going to have to deal with it. She could just blame fate for bringing her here when he needed her expertise. After all, the only important thing at the moment is getting Justice For Emily.

Reviewer: QueenBee
This story is an interesting twist on a murder mystery, because we know who has done it and why it was covered up. When Patrick the lead officer on the case, needs help, Rachael is basically dropped into his lap! Their instant chemistry lets you know that this won't be a Harlequin romance. Plus, we get ghosts and visions which reminds me of old fashioned romances with paranormal which I enjoy.

I give it three and half stars, it's wonderful to see a well written and spell checked book from an Indie author who self-published her book. I hope and wish to see more about this couple, as they have an interesting relationship and investigating methods. The only problem I had was with Rachael's ex having powers, which seemed over the top. It made him too much of bastard as there was already enough to convince the audience of that.

One Knight in Brooklyn by Casea Major

After signing up for a one-night stand through an exclusive matching agency, hopeless romantic Marianne Caldwell is swept away to a medieval land where she hopes to spend the night with a worthy man of honor.

Unsure of how she got from the Castillo Hotel in Las Vegas to a castle in the English countryside, Mare finds Robert, whose stunning physique and winning smile immediately convince her he's the Robin Hood she's been seeking. But despite his efforts saving her from a corrupt sheriff, his Jersey Shore accent and coarse ways unravel her romantic visions.

With her fairytale fantasies coming unhinged, Mare must decide if Robert is just a crass car salesman from Brooklyn or the chivalrous knight she's looking for.

Reviewer: Dolce Amore
Marianne Caldwell, Mare, wanted her Robin Hood, someone brave and gallant, someone romantic...handsome... her knight in shining armor. She's gotten tired of the men who are only interested in right now, not forever after. That's why she signed up to 1 Night Stand.

When she saw her date, she was impressed... until he started to speak. Then she began to question her decision:
"Where was the knight who would compose poetic verses for her? Where was the cavalier who would whisper seductive words into her ear as he made love to her? This wasn’t him."
He seemed to be just an ordinary man, who called her “chick” with no sign of seductive words or poetic verses.

Circumstances led Marianne to realize that he was a hero, although he didn’t seem to be one. After making passionate love they promised to meet the next morning. But when it came time to check-out, she didn’t see him and then she found out that her reservation had been canceled the night before and that her room didn’t exist!

Will they meet again? Or did they enjoy just a stolen moment in time?

I enjoyed the book. Yes, it's a short story, but is very well written and about something all women want: to find their knight in shining armor. I just loved her unique way of showing all of us that we should look closer before deciding that the person is not what we want. Although Robert doesn’t tell her nice words and poesies, he is a good and brave man, who is there for her when she needs him.

Some parts of the story seemed a little incomplete, so I will give it just 4 stars.

Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dark Vow by Shona Husk

Jaines Cord plans to kill the man who murdered her husband, even though killing a Bounty Hunter is said to be impossible. One bullet took away her livelihood, her home and her love. One bullet made by her. Fired from the gun she completed for the Arcane Bounty Hunter.

Obsidian wears the scars of disobeying the powerful Arcane Union. He barely escaped with his life and now lives quietly, in a town the lawmen forgot. When Jaines arrives asking too many questions, he's faced with a decision. Help her or run…again. Obsidian knows that if he flees he'll always be looking over his shoulder. His name is one of the first on the Bounty Hunter's death list.

Yet when Obsidian is offered an opportunity to stop the stone taking over his body in exchange for retrieving the gun, he asks Jaines for her help. Now Jaines must choose: a dead man's vengeance or a living man's hope?

Reviewer: Fashionta
This is a science fiction book that takes place in a different world. A world where a woman is suppose to stay home, have babies, and take care of the house not be taught by her husband to be a gunsmith. When Janie's husband is killed by the weapon she worked on just the day before, she seeks revenge by going after the man who killed him.

She discovers along the way that her husband was not the man she thought he was. She goes through several trials and harrowing adventures and is helped by the one man she didn't think she could trust, an outlaw Arcane member. But in the end she not only trusts him but falls in love with him as well.

This book was a little hard to understand at first as it does not give any real background or set the stage so that you have a basic idea of where the story is taking place, whether this is taking place in a future society that is dealing with the aftermath of a catastrophe or a different world all together. I eventually got the impression that it was a different world.

The book was well written but a little lacking in detail at times. It had all the angst, heartache, and adventure that make you enjoy reading a book. Most of the story was well rounded and made you gasp and cry right along with the characters in the book.

I enjoyed the many similarities to our world so that it was not so unbelievable but yet had magic that a person would like to have if it was real. The two main characters in the book Jaine and the outlaw Obsidian work together quite well and compliment each other the way partners should. The romance was light but warm.

The book has a very good ending that leaves you wanting to read more about this world and how life is there. I kind of got the impression that the ending could lead to more books based in the Arcane World. I give this book a 4.5 for the good plot but drop it to 4 for the unclear way the book starts and leaves you wondering where this is taking place. But over all, I think a 4 is a fair score because the book leaves you wanting more and that is the point of writing, give the reader a bit of hunger to read more of your books.

Publishing Date: Nov. 14, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press
Review Courtesy Of: NetGalley

Farsighted by Emlyn Chand (Book Excerpt - Pizza Party)

Today I'd like to share an excerpt from Emlyn Chand's hot new paranormal novel, Farsighted (it just released on 10/24). Before diving in, check out this teaser for the book:

Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider.

Okay, now that you're caught up, on to the excerpt! I hope you'll enjoy it.


Pizza Party

an excerpt from Farsighted, chapter 2


At Sweet Blossoms, Mom makes a huge fuss over my “becoming a ladies’ man, and with such pretty ladies too.” I keep my hands clasped on my cane to keep myself from strangling her. After making sure she’s thoroughly embarrassed me, Mom closes up shop early, swings by the pizza parlor, and delivers the three of us to an empty house.

“Dad’s out on another job interview,” Mom explains, laying out paper plates and napkins and extracting a two-liter bottle of orange pop from the fridge. “Let’s save him a couple of slices, okay?”

Shapri flips open the lid off the first pizza box. “Ick, ham and pineapple,” she says, moving on to the next box. “Now here’s what I’m talking about, pepperoni with extra cheese. Yum!”

“Pineapple and ham is Alex’s favorite,” Mom announces from the kitchen, as she pours pop into Dixie cups.

“Yes, it is,” I say, nudging Shapri out of the way, so I can plop a few slices onto my plate. I don’t care how early in the afternoon it is. I’m hungry. I shove a slice in my mouth and the grease drips down my chin.

Shapri crunches on a slice of the pepperoni and cheese.

“Are you eating the crust first?” I ask; the tip of the pizza goes in mushily, not crunchily.

“Of course,” Shapri says. Her voice is muffled since her mouth is completely full of food. “That’s how you’re supposed to eat it, save the best for last.”

“Weird,” I say, taking another huge chomp of my pizza from the intended end.

“Do they have pizza where you come from, Simmi?” Mom asks.

“Yes,” Simmi answers curtly.

“Well, why aren’t you eating anything? Don’t you like pizza?”

“Yes, I like pizza very much. But…”

I pause before tearing into my second slice. “What’s wrong?” I ask.

“Well, I don’t eat meat,” Simmi explains. “But it’s okay. I’ll just pick it off.”

“Oh no,” Mom groans. “I didn’t realize. I’m so sorry.” She comes over to the table and places a roll of paper towels in front of Simmi with a thud. “You can use this to blot at the pizza.” Mom comes up behind me and places her hands on my chair. “Okay, I’ll let you kids enjoy your party. I’m headed out to the garden to water the tomatoes. When Dad comes home, send him outside, okay?” Mom kisses me on the head and takes her leave.

Shapri and I continue eating our pizza like we’ve been starving our entire lives. Simmi blots politely at her slice, picking off the toppings and tearing it into small bits and placing them in her mouth. A few minutes later, Dad arrives through the front door.

“Hi, Alex,” he calls from the next room, while removing his shoes. “Hi, Alex’s friends.” He hangs up his jacket and makes his way over to the kitchen. “I hope you saved me a slice or two.” He stops walking all of a sudden, freezing as if he were a deer about to get hit by a semi-truck on a lonely country road.

“Hi, Dad,” I say. “Mom says she wants you to meet her outside in the garden.”

Dad clears his throat and walks back toward the front door. None of us say anything until he’s gone outside.

“That was weird,” Shapri says. “I wonder what his problem is.”

“Dad’s kind of been a bit unusual lately,” I say, hoping we can talk about something else.

“The way he was staring at me. Like I’m a ghost or something.”

From outside, Dad’s voice floats in and hangs above our conversation. I can’t quite make out the words, but I can tell he’s angry. Really angry.

“Um, I better be going,” Shapri says, shoving one last bite into her mouth and then brushing her hands off against each other, making a loud clapping noise.

“You don’t need to leave because of him,” I say. I guess Dad still ranks number one on the people I don’t like list. I don’t want him acting like this around my guests, whether I invited them of my own accord or not.

“No, I have to go,” Shapri says with tons of conviction, while throwing her paper plate away under the sink and then heading toward the door. “My dad’s here to walk me home. He told me he’d pick me up, and now here he is.” Shapri throws her coat on over her shoulders and shoves her feet into her slip-on shoes. “I’ll see you both at school tomorrow. Happy birthday again, Alex. Bye.” Only about thirty seconds pass between the time Shapri decides to leave and the time she has disappeared through the front door.

Simmi takes a sip of pop, slurping loudly. “I wonder what that was all about,” she says.

“No idea,” I whisper in case Dad is listening. “I wonder why her father didn’t even come in to say ‘hello.’ Strange.”

“Forget coming in. He didn’t come at all. No one was outside. Shapri just walked off by herself.”


Blog Tour Notes

THE BOOK:  Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t.  When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Get your copy today by visiting’s Kindle store or the eBook retailer of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24 (for the author’s birthday).

THE CASH PRIZES:  Guess what? You could win a $100 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $100 too! Please help by voting for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll. To cast your vote, visit the official Farsighted blog tour page and scroll all the way to the bottom. Thank you for your help with that.

THE GIVEAWAYS:  Win 1 of 10 autographed copies of Farsighted before its paperback release by entering the giveaway on GoodReads. Perhaps you’d like an autographed postcard from the author; you can request one on her site.

THE AUTHOREmlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!

MORE FUN: There's more fun below. Watch the live action Farsighted book trailer!


Beach Rental by Grace Greene

On the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, in the small town of Emerald Isle…

Juli Cooke, hard-working and getting nowhere fast, marries a dying man, Ben Bradshaw, for a financial settlement, not expecting he will set her on a journey of hope and love. The journey brings her to Luke Winters, a local art dealer, but Luke resents the woman who married his sick friend and warns her not to hurt Ben—and he’s watching to make sure she doesn’t.

Until Ben dies and the stakes change.

Framed by the timelessness of the Atlantic Ocean and the brilliant blue of the beach sky, Juli struggles against her past, the opposition of Ben’s and Luke’s families, and even the living reminder of her marriage—to build a future with hope and perhaps to find the love of her life—if she can survive the danger from her past.

Reviewer: QueenBee
This author needs and deserves the hype coming from this review! She has written an amazing debut novel about tragedy and love. Juli is lost in this world, she's working two jobs just to survive and her future is bleak. Enter Ben, her saviour, who rescues her from her pitiful life, to bring joy to his last days on earth. Ben has terminal cancer and was enjoying life until this diagnosis. But now, he has stepped down from his business commitments and wants the rest of the world to think he is okay, letting only a few people into his new world as Juli soon learns. Her heart falls for his situation and she agrees to his wild idea and we are taken on a journey thorough Juli’s perspective. They enter a marriage as a business arrangement but as the months pass we get hints of something more.

These hints are a wonderful inclusion to the novel as we see them go about their daily lives, Juli opens up more and we watch as the once strong and resilient woman becomes a loving happy woman who is taking every opportunity that she's given from this marriage. But they are up against his family who believe that she’s trouble, especially his cousin and best friend Luke and his sister.

The author's writing makes you believe that everything is okay and then we get a tearjerker ending about Juli and Ben. The twist in the novel leaves you heartbroken as two people who are left dealing with pain and loss, look to each other for hope. The novel skips ahead and we are whisked through the next few months as Juli, Luke and the others come to deal with the loss of Ben and the miracle that is happening before their eyes.

I have to give only 4 stars because after Ben’s death, things pick up too fast for my liking, resulting in the last couple of chapters lacking. It's as if the author wanted to hurry up the book and didn’t have enough pages left to make the relationship more believable between Luke and Juli. It's hard to believe that two people who disliked each other, who only called truce in front of Ben to please him, could fall in love in just a couple of months.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Off the Record by Camryn Rhys

Lust strikes as their eyes meet over a basket of overpriced Roquefort.

Surprised to meet chef Kit Parker at the grocery store, Emily goes undercover to Kit's restaurant that very night, only to crave more than her cooking. As a food critic, Emily finds it hard to resist the delectable cuisine or the busty, punky chef who created it.

Kit believes she's met the woman of her dreams, but her new lover is hiding something. When a scathing review hits right before grand opening, all blame points to Emily. Will their relationship fizzle before it sizzles?

Reviewer: RedHibiscus 
Kit is a chef and Emily is an undercover food reporter for a food magazine and her assignment is Kit’s Restaurant.

I could feel how hard it is for Emily and the dilemma she is facing. She has to hide her true feeling for Kit, because she will lose her son if she doesn't do her job. But she can’t fight her the feelings she has for Kit and in the end she decides she has to be truthful so that she can have her Happy Ending with Kit.

Camryn Rhys wrote the sex scenes beautifully, I could feel the attraction between the two of them and I actually blushed when I read this book! (FYI This was my first book of this genre.)
Overall, I loved this book and I give 4 stars.

Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders

Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne by Cody Young

I’m seventeen and he’s twenty-one.
That’s okay … isn’t it?

He drives a Lamborghini.
So what?

He was born in 1462.
He seeks revenge, but there is one person standing in his way.

On a high school trip to London, Madison Lambourne meets seductive stranger Johnny De Vere, who believes he knows her already, and is torn between love and revenge.
Eager to learn more about this beautiful, lonely, young man, Madison agrees to go with him to a re-enactment at the Tower of London. Dressed as a highborn medieval lady in a black velvet gown, she accidentally slips through a doorway that leads to the past. Knowing she will not last long on the streets of medieval London, Johnny must follow her … with devastating consequences for them both.

A wild time-travel adventure full of love, lies, mystery and betrayal.

Reviewer: avidscribe
What if you could change the past? What if you knew something was going to happen, something really bad, and you thought you could find a way to stop it? Wouldn’t it be your duty to do something? Wouldn’t it be your duty to ... at least ... try?

Seventeen year old Madison Lambourne has come to England on a class field trip and runs into Johnny De Vere at Heathrow airport as she waits for her baggage. He seems to know her but she has never seen this embodiment of male perfection in her life and is instantly smitten by his fiercely intelligent eyes, silky dark hair, lovely angles of face and GQ garb. 'Are you Madeleine?' he asks. The name is close but not hers. When she tells him no, he is confused and crumples a note in his hand and bitterly tosses it to the floor. Curiosity compels her to scoop up the note when he is not looking and she is stunned to recognize the handwriting on it. It is undeniably her own but written on a thick vellum parchment with a pen quill that is anachronistic to modern times. The letter says ‘Forgive me, in time you will forgive me.”

The mystery is afoot.

She meets Johnny again at the Tower of London. He is a Patron of the Tower with an office there. When her best friend and fellow classmate suddenly falls ill, Madison (Maddie for short) gets lost in the Tower while looking for a water fountain to retrieve water for her. By the time she returns to where her group was, she finds herself alone and abandoned ... except for Johnny who offers to take her back to the hostel she’s staying at. Only, instead of taking her home he brings her to the Grange in Kent, wanting to see if Maddie is actually this Madeleine he believes her to be, to see if something at the Grange will trigger a moment of recognition. He is especially intent to see her reaction to a medieval barn there and when she expresses no awareness, he is downcast. Maddie spots a Model T Ford and a Lagonda from the 1920s stored with other vintage cars there in the barn and asks if he likes collecting old cars. Johnny smiles slyly and tells her he buys them new as he sees them.

He is confused and frustrated that she doesn’t seem to know him or pick up on the bread crumbs he’s laying down for her to follow. She looks the same but she is not. For her part, she is drawn to this beautiful man but wary of his intentions. He invites her to a special performance at the Tower for the next night where she can wear a medieval costume and say a few lines in the play. It is obvious he is intent to make her see a connection she doesn’t have as yet to him. After the performance, Maddie is left alone and wanders the Tower halls and finds an unguarded door and proceeds to walk through it—unwittingly into the year 1483. She is quickly joined by Johnny who explains the door is a time portal, where each month the time beyond it changes seemingly at random but the place is always the same—London, England. He is a member of a secret society that guard something called the River of Time, so called probably because time is fluid.

We get hints that Johnny is more than he appears to be. There’s the comment about the car collection. His hands are cold when she touches them. He cannot join her in her first drink of champagne and stares wistfully as he orders up a dinner of chicken and damsons for her that he says is his favorite but he gets none for himself.

Ultimately, Maddie discovers he is a vampire and should be repelled but is not. She is drawn to this man and has no explanation for it. The guardians of the time portal are all vampires, entrusted to literally bar the portal from wanderers who might walk through and upset the balance of time. Added to the story mix is Maddie's attempt to connect with her real father who lives and works in London and who she hasn't seen in 15 years. When she arrives unannounced to his office he bolts from the room and we never discover why. The mystery will undoubtedly play out in the next book.

Madison’s foray into merry olde England is fraught with danger as she’s a 21st century girl trying to fit into a time and language she has no comprehension of. She needs to fit in and even opening her mouth to speak causes raised eyebrows because she doesn't speak the native tongue. She overhears a plot to murder two small boys in the tower and decides she must, at all costs, save these two innocents. The fact that they are Edward Quintus and Richard, Duke of York and it is their uncle, King Richard III who is trying to kill them doesn’t dissuade her from wanting to intercede. But this means changing history. It is forbidden. It is dangerous. Is it even possible?

With no plan in hand, she winds up getting separated from Johnny when he is accidentally exposed to sunlight and nearly charred. As he starts to heal, he begins to rant that he that he can’t go through "it" again and must stop what is about to happen and abruptly tells her he has to leave but will catch up with her as soon as he is able. She doesn't know what he's upset about, so many things he says seem to belong to a history she doesn't share.

I found myself worried for Maddie without Johnny’s protection in this medieval era but time proves how fluid a thing it is when she meets another Johnny—one before he was turned vampire. Time is fluid, yes, but time is also a circle, much like a wedding band as Maddie discovers for herself when she falls under the spell of the human Johnny and tries to prevent his own future from happening.

I give this a four out of five star rating. The author has taken great lengths to make her tale a standout. The characters are relatable and seductively intriguing. The YA plot is Fantastic with a capital F and I can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out. On a sidenote, there are those naysayers out there that are saying vampire novels are becoming passé. This book proves them emphatically wrong.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Barely a Master (The Hunt Club Chronicles 2) by Heather Boyd

The trappings of wealth and power give Aiden Banks, Duke of Lewes, little joy and certainly no pleasure. Tormented by grave mistakes he made with a past lover, he's determined to end it all and has a pistol ready and waiting especially for the occasion. All he needs is patience and time to educate his young heir to take his place. Once he's free, he'll end his lonely existence and escape the pain of Archer's disappearance.

Terrance Bridgewater has freedom at long last with no one to slow down his pursuit of reckless pleasure. He's in London briefly en route to a ship bound for the continent to see the things he's only read about. Running into the dark and dangerous Duke of Lewes is a complication he'd hoped to avoid. Terrance would rather forget the wicked games he played with the duke and his role as the dominant whore, Archer, at the Hunt Club.

Despite his mistrust, the volatile duke's plea for a second chance tempts Terrance to lower his guard. Yet what can come of two souls with nothing in common but lies and lust, two men with opposite desires and far different plans for the course of their life.

Reviewer: BlackTulip
Almost an Equal, the first book of The Hunt Club Chronicles was very good, but this one is even better!

Right now, all that the powerful Duke of Lewes had in mind, was to take his pistol and just pull the trigger. He's grown too tired of pretending he liked living. But he had a last duty to perform, to teach his nephew and heir how to become a duke; the quicker the better, because he couldn't wait years. It had to be very soon because he was suffocating, responsibilities and duty were dragging him irremediably to the bottom.

Once, three years ago, there has been someone and maybe some hope, but he had driven the man away and it still tortured him. Truth be told, he was utterly lost without him, Archer, his wonderful dominant whore! But he had not known how essential he was to him until it was two late. And he knew too well, there won't be a second chance.

But one night, walking in Covent Garden, he saw him again and it was a shock for both.

Archer, or rather, Terrance Bridgewater, will have none of that again. He was free now and in control of own his life. In a few days he would leave London and see the world with his own eyes, not through books anymore.

He agrees to one last night, but he won't play a part, he will just be himself, Terrance. Unfortunately or fortunately, this one night will be a revelation for both of them.

Aidan, the Duke of Lewes, was taught to guard his heart and show only indifference but those few hours with Terrance only showed him that he wanted more, he needed more from the man he didn't know anymore. But he was too afraid to share his thoughts.

Meanwhile, Terrance was in serious trouble himself. It had to stop now because last night was only a farewell, in a very short time he will be gone.

Of course, there is much more to it. First a whole range of emotions, like hope, doubts, jealousy, fear, and surprise. And then there is a very ingenious dramatic turn of events that follows which will lead to a very satisfying conclusion.

It was a wonderful book, full of intense emotions. I'm very much looking forward to reading the next one! I give it 5/5.

Winter in Paradise by T.C. Archer

On a planet turned to ice, only a warm heart is worth dying for.

When Major Kelly Andres awakens to find Major Byron Grayson gone from the cave that has been their military base the last five months, she realizes he has disobeyed her orders. He’s gone to activate the quantum disruptor that he hopes will draw enemy fire, enabling the Provisional Army to attack the enemy armada. It’s a suicide mission. And Grayson knows it.

Kelly has no intention of letting Grayson die alone in the frozen wasteland that planet Onyx has become since the war began. She’s determined to find him and bring him back to base, because when they die, she wants him in her bed.

Reviewer: Dolce Amore
I usually don’t enjoy short stories that much, because I feel like something is missing: the characters are not strong and defined enough, the backstory is not sufficiently explained or something else is just not right. But this one was a delight to read.

The book is about Major Kelly Andres and Major Byron Grayson from Onyx’s planet. They are fighting against the Kirsovals, the result of a human genetic experiment gone wrong a century ago and who are now conquering the entire galaxy. Onyx’s salvation lay in the power of the wormhole. If their scientists could draw the wormhole’s energy to power their photon beams, they could destroy the Kirsoval armada before it strikes a heavy blow to Onyx.

Kelly wakes up to find out her lover, Byron, went on a suicide mission, trying to trick the enemy and gain some extra time for their forces to destroy the mother ship. She decides to go out and try to find him and bring him back. Then she discovers that he is a Diviner and knew about the attack before it happened!

She finds out that he had planned to come back to her, but bad weather stopped him. Together, they fight their way back in the storm that has been created by the Kirsoval probe. Not knowing if the enemy will find and kill them or they will succeed.

Like I said before, I enjoyed the book a lot. The story is excitingly unique and very interesting. The relationship between the Majors is full of passion and love and is perfectly written. I could not ask more from it. I will give it 4.5 stars as it is one of the better books I have read.

Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders