Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Deserving of His Diamonds

Deserving of His Diamonds
Melanie Milburne
Published by Harlequin
192 pages
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes


Gisele Carter thought her life couldn't get worse when she was dumped days before her wedding by Emilio Andreoni, who saw a sex tape presumably starring his fiancee. (Turns out it was her twin sister, but Emilio - and Gisele too, for that matter - had no idea a twin sister existed.) But that was only the beginning for Gisele. She discovered she was pregnant, had the baby without Emilio's knowledge despite being told that the baby likely would not survive, and spent a mere six hours with her little girl before she passed away. Yes, Gisele finds herself in the midst of a bad run that suddenly gets worse.

Emilio shows up, apologizing for the break up, and hoping for a reconciliation.

Understandably, Gisele is angry. She's hurt and she wants to hurt him in return. Emilio understand this, even if he is ignorant of the existence of his daughter, but he's confident that he can convince Gisele to rekindle their relationship, even agreeing again to be his wife.

Emilio either is blindly optimistic or sadly delusional. Turns out he's neither. He knows Gisele, and he knows how he felt with her. He wants her back, and if it takes a little work, he's willing to do it.

Watching these two come together, back up apart, come back together, step back again is fun and even sweet. It also provides us with some pretty hot headboard rocking, because these two know how to engage in some sexy times. Regardless of how fractured their relationship is, their bodies want and crave each other. Which is good for those of us who like reading sex scenes.

This is a quick read, with a fairly predictable ending. Gisele and Emilio are not always likable, which is not necessarily a bad thing. They have their faults and yet they find a way to accept each other. Plus, the sex scenes are hot, and that's always a good reason to read a book, non?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Nine Months by Paula Bomer

Nine Months
Paula Bomer
Published by Soho Press
265 pages
Available on Amazon.com
3 / 5 cupcakes


The most compelling reason why I read this book was curiosity: was it possible for me to despise a main character for the duration of the entire novel, or would I come to like Sonia?

Turns out I pretty much hated her from the start and did not stop.

Paula Bomer's Nine Months purports to be a resounding "Bitch, please" to all of those glowy, so happy to be pregnant, my life is now fulfilled novels about pregnancy.

But it isn't.

Instead, it features some of the most detestable characters you will encounter in a novel, which means that Paula Bomer's message that pregnancy is uncomfortable at best, utterly awful at worst, is lost.

The book opens with Sonia preparing to deliver her third child and first daughter. She is in a Philadelphia hospital; she lives, however, in New York. We soon discover that Sonia has been on something of an unsanctioned road trip. She needs to reconnect with her former self, visiting people she knew prior to marriage and motherhood. She needs to make sense of this unwanted pregnancy and her own ambivalence towards it. With each chapter, I became more and more distanced from her and her "journey." I stopped caring. But I admit that Bomer kept me turning pages to find out the result of Sonia's trek.

Lest we sympathize with her husband, the appropriately named Dick, Bomer takes care of that, too. He's as unlikeable as his wife. Is his demand for a blow job supposed to make us feel sorry for Sonia? It doesn't. Are we supposed to feel for him while his wife is traipsing across the country? We don't. These two deserve each other.

I think Paula Bomer intends for us to see that pregnancy - not so much motherhood, but the actual pregnancy - can rip a life apart. But anyone who's been pregnant surely realizes that. During those nine months, most women take inventory of their lives and suss out what will change. A lot of fathers and siblings probably do the same thing. Good old self-involved Sonia, however, focuses only on how her dreams appear kaput:
Before she moved to New York, before she met Dick, fell in love, got married and then, right away, pregnant (because face it, waiting until you're forty to have a baby is stupid), before she became who she is now, a tired housewife with a bad haircut, before that, she painted. And nothing else really mattered to her. She lived in Boston, slept with lots of men, drank a lot and painted constantly. Day and night. She painted until her soul ached, and then she painted some more. She painted until the painting was good, and then she kept painting until the painting sucked, and then she painted some more. She had what they called dedication. Or a calling. She made little time for socializing, but she did fuck a lot. She fucked not one, not two, but three of her professors at the Museum School in Boston. And all this, without being beautiful or having large breasts. Her professors fucked her because she knew how to paint and it turned them on, or so she believed and still believes. OK, being young helped. But would Philbert Rush, famous abstract painter extraordinaire, really have fucked her just because she was twenty-two? He fucked her because he thought she was talented, too. Sonia loves her boys, loves them more than anything, but she's been patiently waiting for this time to come. The time of no babies. Children are one thing, babies another.
Yes, children are one thing and babies another. Babies suck the life right out of you, but you know that they will grow up, eventually. You will not cut their food when they're in high school. You will not change their diapers in college. I know it seems interminable, that time when they are helpless, but we logically know it will end. The problem for Sonia is that while she knows it is temporary, she hates it nonetheless. I don't fault her for that. I fault her for other decisions she makes, ones that so selfishly affect and hurt her family, with whom she appears to not concern herself. When she calls her husband from the road and plaintively asks to speak to her sons, I half hoped he would hang up on her. She has not earned that right.

Nine Months undoubtedly will kick up a storm, and that perhaps is Paula Bomer's intention. But for there to be honest discourse about the truth about pregnancy, we need to at least like the characters.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We have a winner


Congratulations to Kelsey S. for winning the
BDSM Giveaway!

Kelsey won a digital copy of Bared to You by Sylvia Day.
Kelsey, you have 48 hours to reply to the 
email alerting you of your victory.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway.
I appreciate your support of this blog, BDSM books, book bloggers
everywhere and, most of all, READING!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What do you look for in a review?

review
The fine folks at Reading Romances asked bloggers what we look for in a review.

It seems like an easy question to answer, especially for those of us who write reviews. My blog basically shows you what I like: a decent, spoiler-free synopsis, followed by the reviewer's thoughts about the book. I also need to know why the reviewer feels as he or she does.

If it's a crap book, tell me it's crap. As I've said before, I respect the hell out of writers, and I support them tremendously. But that does not mean that all books are fabulous. Some of them are awful. If it's a great book that you can't live without, then I want to know about it. Books such as The Replacement Wife, On the Island, The Next Best Thing, Gone Girl and Girl Unmoored are amazing, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have read them. One Pink Line, the Jessica Darling series, My One and Only - those are books I rave about to friends. But there are some books that I hope I never think about again, and that's where I want honesty from the reviewer. There have been times that I cross post a review on Amazon or Goodreads and see that other readers gave the books four or five stars, and I'm struggling to give it two. Can our tastes really be that divergent?  OH, Divergent! That's another good one.

Just be honest. You can be truthful without being hurtful. Tell me if the book is worth my while and my money. Don't be mean or vindictive with a negative review, but don't sugarcoat bad books, either.

I love to read. Anything that promotes reading is all right by me. So if reading drivel turns your crank, at least you're reading, right?

Now, go support some of the blogs below. Check them out to see what they look for in a review.

Etiquette for the End of the World

Etiquette for the End of the World
by Jeanne Martinet
Published by Liza Dawson Associates
278 pages
Available on Amazon.com
3.5 / 5 cupcakes


For some women, finding themselves on the cusp of forty, unmarried, childless, and recently dumped by both boyfriend and employer is akin to the apocalypse. And for Tess Eliot, it sure does seem that way. When she is hired by WOOSH, World Organization for Omniscient Solstice Harbingers, to write a book, Tess thinks her luck is starting to turn. Except for one teensy little problem. The WOOSH'ers believe the supposed Mayan prediction that the world will end on December 21, 2012, and the book Tess is to write is about how we should behave toward one another when the world ends.

This silly sounding premise might make you leery to read this book, but you should not worry. Etiquette for the End of the World is charming, entertaining, and humorous. WOOSH may want a book about the end of the world, but they want a funny book about the end of the world, and Tess is just the person to write it. Naturally snarky, she uses her talents to offer up a humorous take on etiquette as the world ends.

She also meets Peter, a George Clooney lookalike who charms her in spite of a nagging sense that he is too good to be true. Peter is a fundraiser for WOOSH, and clearly attracted to Tess. When she meets him at the bar she frequents, Richie, the bartender, approaches Peter with no small amount of suspicion. Maybe he really is too good to be true. Richie, on the other hand, is solid. He counsels Tess on her romantic and professional failings, and when she starts to suspect that there is something afoot at WOOSH, he supports her concerns. Too bad he's gay, because Richie could be the perfect guy.

This is a romantic comedy of sorts. Parts of it are quite funny, and Tess engages in a couple of romances. She also has to make peace with her brother, Stuart, to whom the family beach house and money were left when their father died. Tess doesn't understand why he won't split the inheritance with her, but Stuart has his reasons.

The mystery angle of the book will spark your interest. What exactly is going on with WOOSH? Is there something nefarious happening, or is it merely a group of quirky fatalists? As Tess begins to dig into WOOSH, she uncovers information that leads her to believe the former, and we become curious right along with her.

While this is a pleasant little book, it is not something that will stick with you after you've read it. There are problems: some of the things that bother Tess about Peter are never explained, and the ending is far too neat and tidy. Still, though, it's a sweet story that you will enjoy reading. Who knew the end of the world would be so funny?

Mating Season

Mating Season: A Cabin Fever Novella
by Alice Gaines
Published by Avon Red
Available on Amazon.com Kindle
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes


The great thing about Alice Gaines's books is that they understand their purpose: they provide us with a few hours of escapist fun. Hot escapist fun, in fact. These novellas do not reach beyond their ability. They simply entertain.

As with others in the Cabin Fever series, we have characters trapped alone in a small cabin in the woods; sexual shenanigans ensue.

In this case, our romantic duo is Gayle Richards and Nolan Hersch, sparring professors who each has a different theory about the mating habits of animals, elk in particular. Gayle invited Nolan and two of his research assistants to the cabin in hope of studying elk, although Gayle also hopes to change Nolan's mind about his opinions on the subject. The fact that the two are attracted to each other only heightens the fun.

When Nolan's assistants are blocked by a fortuitously timed flooded road from getting to the cabin, Nolan and Gayle attempt to make the best of the situation.

Boy, do they ever.

They make the best up against a wall, on the floor, in a shower, on the bed and up against a tree, amongst other lively locales. They make the best any place they can. All in the name of research, of course.

The circumstances leading to their coupling are flimsy at best, but we don't care. We just want to read the hot stuff, and Alice Gaines provides it in abundance.

If you want to waste a couple of hours on some decently hot erotica, this is the novella for you. Don't be surprised if you get cabin fever, though. The good news is that Alice Gaines has more books in the series.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Siren

The Siren
by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Harlequin MIRA
432 pages
Published on Amazon.com.
Thanks to Net Galley for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes


Those of you whose kink was tested by Fifty Shades of Grey can go ahead and skip this review, because if you thought Christian and Ana were edgy and disturbing, you have no idea - NO IDEA - what BDSM is all about.

If you're still here, it's because you want to find out about this hot, dark and passionate book. And it is ... hot, dark and passionate.

We first met Nora Sutherlin in Seven Day Loan, in which her lover loaned her for one week to his friend. Nora was a submissive to her Dominant lover, and if he wanted to share her, he shared her.

In the previous book, Nora's name was Eleanor, but here, she changed it for several reasons. First, she has left her Dom, a man she deeply loved (and who loved her in return) but with whom she felt a future could not exist. There is a reason for this, which was first revealed in Seven Day Loan. Nora also has become an author, having written several best selling books about - you guessed it - characters who engage in BDSM.

When we see her again, Nora has been assigned an editor, Zach Easton, an Englishman not too fondly known as the London Fog. Zach demands that Nora make wholesale changes to her book, but he assures her that if she tweaks it as he asks, she will write something extraordinary. Yet Zach strongly disapproves of Nora's BDSM dalliances, causing her to keep a secret from him: she has become the number one Dominatix in New York City.

The Siren is all about double lives. Each character has one, and each must come to terms with which life is real.

First, there is Nora, author by day, dominatrix by night. But Nora, overachiever that she is, has another double life, if not a third. She develops feelings for Zach, just as she tries to understand her feelings for Wesley, a nineteen year old college boy she hired as a sort of manservant. Wesley is a virgin, and he and Nora care about each other quite a bit. She sees herself in him, even though he clearly is more of a vanilla guy than one interested in BDSM. Then there is her former Dom, whom she can't let go. She submits to him, yet earns a tremendous fortune as a dominatrix.

In the case of Zach, we have the stereotypical stuffy Englishman who is shocked and disturbed by bondage and dominance. Yet he lost his virginity at age thirteen, seven years younger than Nora was. He is married, but his marriage is troubled; he left his wife in England to come to New York (next stop, Los Angeles). He is married, but he isn't. He is appalled by BDSM, but drawn to it.

Then there is Wesley. Young, sweet, HOT Wesley. He is a solid Christian boy who studies hard in college and is devoted to Nora. Wesley must watch his insulin, because he is a severe diabetic. He says he wants to wait and have sex with someone who loves him, yet he is so determined to not be a romantic part of Nora's life that he fails to see that she does love him. He is a virgin living with a slut.

But what you really want to know about are those sexy times, right? Tiffany Reisz can write some sex scenes, people. They are not wildly graphic (they are far, FAR less graphic here than in Seven Day Loan), and for the most part, there is a tender romance behind them. For all of her worldly experiences, Nora still wants what most of us want: to love and be loved, and to be allowed the freedom to experience those things.

Her relationship with her former Dom clearly is intended to shock us. Yet he, too, leads a double life (boy, does he ever). What is striking (no pun intended) about him, though, is the depth of his love for Nora. He really does love her, and when he tells her that he wishes she was still his, you feel it. Despite the dissolution of their romance, he nonetheless advises her on Zach and Wesley, and his observations are astute.

This is a good book. If you are curious about BDSM, please do not use Fifty Shades of Grey as your idiot's guide. Instead, read this one. There are some wonderful explanations of the lifestyle, what draws people to it, what keeps them entrenched, and how it affects them. There also are some interesting discourses on erotica, which is the genre Nora writes. While there are not a lot of sex scenes, and those present are relatively tame, it's because the focus here is the characters. In Seven Day Loan, the focus is a sort of sexual awakening.

And now I must go get ready for Angel, which is the next book in this series.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Mrs. Tuesday's Book Blast

Mrs. Tuesday's Departure Book Blast - $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway - August 14th to 21st.

Meet Author Suzanne Anderson

I was born in Fort Lauderdale, attended the University of Michigan on an athletic scholarship for swimming and then worked on Wall Street. I left the bright lights of the big city fifteen years ago and traveled the world. I now live in the mountains of Colorado, where I pursue my dream of writing novels.

LINKS:
Website: http://www.suzanneanderson.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Suzanne-Anderson-Author-Page/201662786512944
Twitter: https://twitter.com/seakiev



Mrs. Tuesday's Departure

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…
Hungary's fragile alliance with Germany kept Natalie, a renowned children’s book author, and her family out of harm's way for most of the war. Now as the F├╝hrer's desperation grows during the waning years of the conflict, so does its threat. Natalie's younger sister, Ilona, married a Jewish man, putting both her and her young daughter, Mila, in peril; Natalie's twin sister, Anna, is losing her already tenuous hold on reality. As the streets of Budapest thrum with the pounding boots of Nazi soldiers, danger creeps to the doorstep where Natalie shields them all.
Ilona and her husband take the last two tickets to safety for themselves, abandoning Natalie to protect Anna and Mila from the encroaching danger. Anna's paranoid explosion at a university where was once a professor, sparked by delusions over an imagined love triangle, threatens their only other chance for escape. Ultimately, Natalie is presented with a choice no one should ever have to make; which of her family will she save?
An inspirational story of faith and family, strength and weakness, and the ultimate triumph of love over hate. Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure demonstrates the power of faith to light even the most harrowing darkness.
... faith is the evidence of things not seen.





Giveaway Details:
$100 Amazon Gift Code
Ends 8/21/12


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits
by Katie McGarry
Published by Harlequin Teen
416 pages
Available on Amazon.com.
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes


Some things are best left forgotten, but in Echo Emerson's case, some things need - must - be remembered. You see, Echo believes her mother tried to kill her, but she has zero recollection of the events that landed her nearly lifeless body in the hospital and left her with a plethora of scars detailing her arms. Scars that Echo tries to hide every day, regardless of the weather, with long sleeved shirts.

Noah Hutchins, on the other hand, would like to forget some things. He'd like to forget that his parents died in a fire, he would like to forget that his two young brothers live with foster parents, and he'd really love to forget the circumstances behind his parents' deaths.

In order for each of these people to survive high school, let alone life itself, they need to remember, whether they like it or not. And both are delivered to school psychiatrist Mrs. Collins, whose job entails helping them process and moe past those events that paralyze them.

In Echo's case, that is a very difficult task to accomplish. For one thing, her father and his new wife - her former nanny - are expecting a new child, almost as if they want to replace Echo's older brother Aries, who died while serving in Afghanistan. Echo feels unloved, unappreciated and unwanted by her father, who she views as trying to create a new family. Her father knows what happened the night Echo almost died, but he refuses to tell her, and he refuses to allow anyone else to do so. She must remember on her own.

For Noah, not forgetting is a challenge, because those days he can slip his circumstances from his mind are his freest. The days he sees his brothers, happily living with people they call "Mom" and "Dad" while seeming to have forgotten their real parents, gut him.

As part of their therapy, Echo must tutor Noah, a job neither of them particularly dislikes. Echo has red hair, luscious curves, and smells like cinnamon. Noah is HOT. All the girls think so, and Echo's best friend wants pictures of his six pack abs. But Echo has an ex-boyfriend who wants to remove the "ex" part, and this being high school, some of her "friends" want her to be with someone more socially acceptable. Of course, Echo wants Noah, and vice-versa.

What makes this book so good is its story. Told from the points of view of Echo and Noah, the first pages pull you in and keep you until it's over. Part of this is due to the mystery; what happened to Echo? She remembers bits and pieces, but behind each memory is the fear that she, who has so many things in common with her mother, is just like her. What if Echo is bipolar as well? Noah's mystery is not as involving, but we like him. Here is a boy who desperately wants his family to stay together, believing that it's the best for all of them. If parts of this seem a little predictable, maybe it's because some things are just going to happen.

Some pages will break your heart, others will make you giggle, and some leave you at peace. Echo is a fantastic character: she is feisty yet frightened, sexy yet steely, innocent yet worldly. Her father and stepmother, who could be cookie cutter, static characters, are not. Owen Emerson loves his daughter, and his attempt to control her is his way of protecting her. We see it, even if Echo does not.

There are a couple of sex scenes, but parents should not be worried about their teen reading this book. In fact, these sex scenes should be celebrated by parents wishing to preserve their teens' virginity. If you know what I mean ...

I am an unabashed fan of YA literature, and this book is a great example why. The story is so good, the characters believable and accessible, and the romance realistic. This is just an all around good book, whether you're a teenager or not.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Broken Harbor

Broken Harbor
by Tana French
Published by Viking Adult
464 pages
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes


Pat and Jenny Spain have everything: good looks, well-paying jobs, two beautiful children, and now their dream home. Except that one gruesome night, a horrific tragedy occurs, and Jenny is the only member of her family still alive.

Enter Mick Kennedy, otherwise known as Scorcher, the detective called to the scene of the crime. Mick notices some odd things about the Spain home: the plethora of baby monitors, for one, and the holes in the wall, for another. And what's with that weird trap in the attic door?

Tana French takes us through a few possible options for "who done it," each as convincing as the next. Mick has his choice, while his partner Richie believes a different person is guilty. As the two go through the evidence, they alternate between affirming their belief of the guilty party and denying it.

Meanwhile, Mick has to deal with personal issues. Broken Harbor, the area where the Spains lived (and died) has significance for Mick, as it is where his mother took her life. Mental illness is never too far away, because Mick's younger sister Dina struggles with it; her instability causes him great anxiety and forces him to confront a heartbreaking moment from his childhood.

As far as the mystery is concerned, Tana French keeps us guessing. You will believe Mick, you'll believe Richie, and you may even form your own opinions. When the truth comes out, you won't feel cheated, which is the sign of a well conceived whodunit.

There is a lot - and I do mean a LOT - of talking in this book. Mick and Richie have long discussions, Mick and Dina chat for pages, other cops and investigators talk. Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap. Some of those conversations slow the tale's progression, bogging us down in unnecessary information. On the plus side, each character is fully presented; you will love and hate them in equal measure. Each of us has some guilt and innocence within us, French seems to say, sort of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Whether we lean one way or the other depends on our weaknesses. In some cases, that weakness is fragile mental health. In others, it's pride.

This is a good, engrossing mystery. I hadn't read any of French's books previously - Mick was first introduced in Faithful Place - and enjoyed "meeting" her.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We have a winner!


Congratulations to Gale Adkins Nelson!

Gale won the Summer Giveaway Hop, co-hosted by

Gale, you have 48 hours to respond to the congratulatory
email notice.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway!

If you're into some spanky panky, check out the BDSM Blog Hop 
giveaway going on right now.

Meet Dawn Kirby!


Welcome Dawn Kirby!

Guess what! Dawn Kirby, author of Secrets, was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions. Secrets is the first of a planned series focused on vampires, humans and werewolves, and, more importantly, families. 

Dawn describes herself as a "typical mom running around after her children, catering to her husband's needs, acting as a taxi driver, and gourmet chef. Then by night she falls into a world filled with shirtless werewolves, lethal vampires, and dangerous adventures." Way to go, Dawn!  



What books inspire you the most and why?

I guess I only have one answer for that question. They all do. I don’t really have a specific genre I prefer to read over another. They all have a little something to offer. Whether it be historical, educational, or make believe they can all take you to another time and place. It’s fascinating to me how easy it is to forget where you are and fall, head first into whatever world the author has created. Those worlds, their words and experiences is where I find inspiration.

Describe your writing ritual. After you spend your day catering to your family, how do you get yourself into the mindset to write?

It doesn’t take much really. After everybody is settled and fed, I sit in my little corner of the couch, Cold can of Coke beside me, turn on my laptop and try to let all the daytime stress go. It usually doesn’t take long to pick up where I left off the day before. In no time at all, I’m lost to the real world.

If you could win an Olympics gold medal for any event, winter or summer, which would you choose and why?

Oh goodness…I’m not sure. I guess if I had to pick it would be in archery. There’s just something about the skill required that has always appealed to me. (I think archery is kind of badass, Dawn, so I agree with you there. I might go for fencing, though, because a little sword play sounds kind of fun, doesn't it?)

What is a talent you wish you had?

Like Leah, I wish I could sense who people really are. Being able to surround myself with truly wonderful, genuine friends would save a lot of heartache in the long run.

What is your favorite junk food?

Hot Tamales, the little red candies. They are pure cinnamon heaven! Unfortunately I enjoy them so much, it’s really easy to lose track of how many I’ve actually had.

If you fell in love with a vampire, would you want him to change you into one?

I don’t think I would. Living forever is way too long. 


Now that you know more about Dawn Kirby, go support her by buying your very own copy of Secrets (available on Amazon.com). It's entertaining, and it isn't your typical vampires and werewolves tale. We love authors, and we love books, so GO!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Secrets

Secrets
by Dawn Kirby
Dark Dragon Publishing
326 pages
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to Bottled Up Memory, Inc., & Illuminated Tours and TeamNerd Reviews for the copy
3.5 / 5 cupcakes

First, let's address that cover. I'm not sure what we're going for here, other than some type of barely legal porn. I can assure you that this cover does not begin to tell you the truth about Secrets, and it is unfortunate that this book was saddled with such a lame cover photo.

Having said that, let's dish about the book.

As I have mentioned previously, I am over the whole vampires and werewolves thing. And by "over" it, I mean I beg - I plead - I am ON MY DAMN KNEES, pleading for writers to dip their toes into another pool of inspiration. For the love of Edward Cullen. Please. Just please.

So here we are, with a book about - you guessed it - vampires and werewolves. Only this one has the decency to be different.

Recently graduated from college, Leah works in a shop owned by her mother, Mia. Their life is fairly tranquil, aside from the fact that Mia refuses to discuss Leah's father with her. Leah, of course, is curious, having only been told that her father died before Leah was born. She can't figure out why her mother won't talk about him, nor can she understand why Mia remains so devoted to the memory of that man.

One of Mia's business partners, David, comes to town on his annual visit, and Leah wonders why, since they clearly are so attracted to each other, her mother and David don't date. But later that night, Leah thinks she overhears Mia and David rock the headboard, so perhaps Mia isn't as devoted to a memory as Leah thought.

David does not come just for some sexy times, though. Mia needs his help: she is concerned that Leah might be in danger. You see, Leah is not your typical college graduate. Her senses are extremely attuned. She can smell things the rest of us can't, hear things even dogs have trouble hearing, suffers near blindness when the light is bright, and she never gets sick. Not even the common cold. Mia cryptically warns Leah that there are Bad People Out There who mean her harm, and when it appears some of them show up in town, Mia calls on David for help and guidance.

With a title like Secrets, it comes as no surprise that there are many things Leah does not know or understand. As she slowly discovers the truth about her - who her father is, why she has so many sensitivities and why those Bad People Out There want her. Leah's life quickly turns from peaceful to frantic, unstable and endangered to the point that she goes to live in a safe house of sorts.

It is here that romance comes into play for young Leah in the form of the hot, sexy and mysterious Raine. Their attraction to each other is immediate and intense, and it doesn't take long for them to get intimate, both emotionally and physically. Raine sure knows how to pleasure a woman, let's just say. He's also determined to protect Leah, even if it means alienating people he's close to. And yet Raine has his secrets, too, and he is not exactly as he appears.

This book is full of action and intrigue. Leah hops from one precarious situation to another, but she is never outwardly overwhelmed; in fact, her almost preternatural calmness in the face of danger is a little much at times. Nowhere in her life has she gained the experience to handle what's thrown at her, but she does. She has an innate sense of what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

Her battles are not just with outside forces. She also has inner struggles, as she comes to terms with what her mother didn't tell her, particularly where her father is concerned. When she does find out about him, she is given very little time to process what she now knows. It's as if she has to say hello and goodbye within the same breath.

Now, I've told you all of this, but not once did I mention vampires or werewolves. Well, they abound. I won't tell you who's who, because you need to read to find out. But suffice it to say that the werewolves in this book are not the cuddly pups of Twilight. This pack is mean, destructive and out to hurt Leah.  Just as Raine and the others in the safe house discover, there is something special about Leah, and the werewolves want her for themselves. As for the vampires, this brood is not vegetarian, and when they feed, it's as much erotic as it is sustenance.

This is a long book, almost too long. At times it felt repetitive - there are some lines in here that feel as if they are repeated every few pages or so. Some of the downtime between action scenes moves too slowly and bogs down the tale. But the essence of the story is interesting, even with the vampires and werewolves, and it ends with a huge cliffhanger. It's a good thing that Dawn Kirby intends this to be the first of a series.

I was given this book in exchange for hosting the blog tour yesterday and for providing this review. As I read it, I wondered how the book will be marketed. Its sex scenes are too graphic for teens or even young adults, but the vampire/werewolf thing risks alienating more mature readers. So I asked Kirby's blog tour coordinator about this and was told that there is a brand a new genre called "New Adult," and this book falls into that category:
Where Young Adult is usually centered around characters between the ages of fourteen to seventeen, discussing 'firsts' (first boyfriend, first kiss, first sexual encounter, etc), New Adult would give authors who write characters eighteen to twenty-six a place to fit their books and gain a fan base. Characters who are usually found in college type setting, deciding on a career and building a family. Characters who are transitioning from young adulthood to understand how to be a mature adult is where books in the New Adult genre fall under. The genre is also known as '20 somethings'. To read more about the New Adult Genre check out TeamNerd Reviews.

I had no idea New Adult lit existed, but I think it's a fine idea.

So, Secrets. Should you read it? Sure, especially if you fall into that New Adult demographic. The story is entertaining, and Leah is a very likable character. It didn't ignite any passion on my part for vampires or werewolves, but it's a good read.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Eliza's Awakening

Eliza's Awakening
Zaide Bishop
Published by Carina Press
45 pages
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
1 / 5 cupcakes


This little novella tries its best to pack some hot sexy times into its limited pages, and it succeeds. What's missing, however, is a believable plot.

It is the night before the summer solstice, AKA The Longest Night, and Eliza is busy helping Lord and Lady Kempsley prepare for their annual party. Each year, the Kempsleys pride themselves on shocking their guests, and this year will be no different. Eliza nurses a burning yearning for Kell, a sort of guard-slash-footman, and he for her. Alas, Eliza also catches the eye of a randy lord who is a guest at the party, while Kell must fend off the advances of a female guest who wants him to - uh - service her.

Things get interesting when the "shocking" element of the party takes place. Turns out the Kempsleys want a virgin sacrifice, so who better to choose than their servant Eliza. Worse yet, Kell has to hold her down for the sacrifice.

If this sounds a wee bit like a rape, you are not mistaken. It IS a rape, although Zaide Bishop tries to disguise it as a sexual awakening. Eliza likes what is done to her and she she is forced to do, which is just beyond offensive. In fact, the erotic portion of the festivities is completely lost by our shock as readers. Are we really reading what we think we're reading? Does Eliza's sexual response to an assault on her vajayjay mean she is not raped?

Um, no. She's raped.

Look, the sex scenes are hot, if you can get past how manipulative and insulting they are. But honestly, folks, there are much better books out there. Please go read one of those.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Where the Heart Lies

Where the Heart Lies
Michelle Garren Flye
Published by Carina Press
215 pages
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
3 / 5 cupcakes


When someone asks me who I respect, I always answer, "Military spouses." There are some things in this world that I know I cannot do, and saying goodbye to my husband as he heads off to war is one of them. I just can't. And Michelle Garren Flye's Where the Heart Lies only cements that sentiment.

Alicia Galloway promised her Marine husband Troy that they could move back to his North Carolina hometown. It isn't a burden, really, because her parents are dead, and the couple have a daughter about to start kindergarten. Being near Troy's parents will help, especially considering Alicia is expecting their second child.

But Troy doesn't come home from Afghanistan, and with his death, Alicia first must deliver their son, Jason, by herself, and then keeps her promise to her husband.

Before Alicia has a chance to get settled, she meets Penny, a neighbor who briefly dated Troy in high school and has an eighteen-year-old daughter of her own. The second person Alicia meets is Liam, Troy's best friend from high school, who shows up with a bag of groceries and says that he's keeping his own promise to Troy; he will watch over Alicia and the kids.

Alicia is impressed, not to mention immediately attracted to him. But wait. Her husband just died. Why does she have the steamin' undies for another man? Penny tries to warn her, as do various townspeople. Liam is trouble, they say. He will break your heart. But Liam is interested in her, and she him.

Uh oh.

Alicia knows exactly what she wants, but she is paralyzed with fear when it comes to going after it. What will people say? What will her in-laws say? Can she and Liam even have a relationship? Can this work out? Whether it does or not really is due to no help from Alicia herself, because she causes more problems for her own darn self than any other character. Some family secrets emerge, some of which we see coming pages before Flye confirms our suspicions.

As for rocking the headboard, while it happens, it is not terribly detailed. For the most part, we get kissing and caressing, which is written well enough that we feel the attraction between Liam and Alicia.

The problem with this book is that there is no mystery here. We know how it will end, and, like I said, the big shocking bombshell is so obvious that you keep wondering why no one else seems to know about it. Alicia is sweet, and we want her to be happy. Liam seems fantastic, so all of the whisperings and warnings about how awful he is and how he will break her heart don't make a lot of sense.

This is one of those books that won't make a huge impression on you, but is pleasant to read. If nothing else, you'll want to follow Alicia to make sure she doesn't screw up anything beyond repair.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

BDSM Blog Hop

It's time to get your SPANK on, people!



Scorching Book Reviews is hosting the BDSM Blog Hop!

BDSM is all over the web at the moment and we thought we'd show that BDSM isn't just about sex or kink; its about two people mutually agreeing to exchange power in certain aspects of their lives. It isn't about gender inequality, perversion or anything sinister; its about choice and enjoyment for ALL those involved in the relationship, no matter how kinky. We want to show off some of our personal favorites, give you a chance to familiarize yourselves with some names and just generally show what BDSM is.  Over the course of this month we will be showcasing some very talented authors from this genre (including a few personal favorites!). They will be talking to us about some aspects of BDSM that appears in their books and, in some cases, their real lives. There is also a whole host of Giveaways too, just to give people a chance to experience some books from this genre!
From the 2nd-20th August, we will also be hosting a blog hop of over 30 other Blogs....there is more giveaways and a Grand Prize of a $30 Gift Card to a retailer of your choice. We hope you'll hop along with us!


To help celebrate, I'm giving away one digital copy of
Bared to You, by Sylvia Day,
one of my favorite books in the erotica genre, and one
that truly shows that BDSM isn't just about sex or kink.

This contest is open internationally, so click on the Rafflecopter
and let loose!

Please also visit the blogs participating in this hop. There are some
fantastic prizes out there, and you know you want to be a winner!


a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
Jenny Wingfield
Published by Random House Trade
352 pages
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
5 / 5 cupcakes


When you are accustomed to living where the Lord sends you, the last place you might expect to wind up is home, sweet home. For Samuel Lake, a preacher whose style tends to put off his flock more than bring them to the light, home is what he hopes is a temporary locale. As the adage goes, however, we plan and God laughs.

Every year, on the first Saturday in June, the Moses family holds a reunion. Of John and Calla's three children, one son died in a tragic accident, one (Toy) lives on the family's 100-acre farm with his beautiful but terrible wife Bernice, and their daughter, Willadee, lives with her husband Samuel Lake and three children in whichever community Samuel is called to work. Willadee and the children come for the reunion, with Samuel due to follow.

The fun kicks off with a death in the family and continues apace. Told from different perspectives, this book really is like a warm summer day in the south: slowly getting hotter and stifling, with brief moments of respite provided by a nice glass of iced tea. One thing leads to another, leads to another, and pretty soon, you start to think that you're a member of the Moses family yourself.

When Samuel Lake does get to his family, they are distraught over the death and their need for him - for his comfort, if not his physical presence. No one feels the latter more than Willadee, and it quickly becomes clear that these two enjoy each other in the Biblical sense, much to the dismay of Bernice. You see, Bernice had her chance with Sam, all those years ago, but she played games with him, dumped him, and as he nursed his broken heart, he met Willadee. The fact that Bernice married Toy (out of spite and revenge) does not seem to have had its desired effect on Sam, because he is devoted to Willadee and his kids.

But things do not go as smoothly as Samuel Lake would like. There is the matter of him not finding a new pulpit, for one thing, and he suspects his wife and children hide things from him. He also wonders if they have lost respect for him; when Blade, the young son of an evil neighbor (a man described as Satan's stepson) escapes to the Moses home for some respite from his abusive father, Sam sends him back, horrifying his precocious eleven-year-old daughter Swan (yes, Swan Lake).

Sam repeatedly tries to save his family and meets with repeated frustration. At one point, he howls to the heavens, begging God for help. Sometimes, he fails to see that God answered his prayers, because God does not necessarily answer them as Samuel would like or expect. Other times, God responds quite clearly and emphatically.

There are several tragedies in this book, all of them heartbreaking. What will strike you as remarkable, however, is this family's determination to survive what assaults them. They all trust God, some more than others, and their faith in the Lord and themselves is something to behold. Each of them struggles against something, whether it's loss, failure or powerlessness.

Jenny Wingfield's voice pulls you into this book, and you will not be able to put it down. You will care for this family (most of them, anyway), and you will want to be sure that they are going to be okay. And when the book is over, you will miss the Moses family.

Read this. It's a very good book.

We Have a Winner!



Kt Amanda, you won the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop!

Please respond to the notification email within 48 hours to claim your prize.

Thank you, everyone, for participating in this giveaway. I appreciate
you taking the time to visit my blog.

Thank you!!