Review: Night of Fire by Nico Rosso

The Ether Chronicles is a cooperative steampunk venture, or is that adventure, between writers (and real-life spouses) Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso.

The first book in the series, Skies of Fire, took place in more traditional steampunk territory, assuming there is such a thing as tradition when it comes to a genre as “new-fangled” as steampunk. It’s set on the European side of this alternate, steam- and “ether”-powered world war and it’s written by Ms. Archer, as will be the third book.

Mr. Rosso is responsible for Night of Fire, set in the U.S. West. Less traditional, not just for steampunk, but in general. The West of the late eighteenth century was the frontier, with wide-open spaces and people who didn’t want to be hemmed in.

There’s a war going on, and men are called away from their homes to fight against the Hapsburg enemy. Just as happened in real history, particularly in World War II, when the men are called away in large numbers, women fill roles that used to be reserved for men. And some of them find that their new roles suit them much better than the ones they would have traditionally found.

And some men think that this new assertiveness fits those women better than the old traditional roles ever did.

The  Army has also given Tom Knox a new role in life. In Thornville, he was a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The US Army has made him not just a soldier, but a leader. It’s given him purpose and responsibility. The Army doesn’t care where he came from, only how he conducts himself. And he’s not a boy any more.

The war has brought him near enough to Thornville to visit. To find out what happened to the girl he left behind. Rosa Campos’ father ran him out of town, said Tom wasn’t good enough for his daughter. And he was right, then.

Now is different.

Now, Rosa is the Sheriff of Thornville. She’s the only one man enough for the job, in spite of her father’s protests. The first thing Tom sees when he rides back into town on his ether-powered “horse” is Rosa fighting off a band of roughnecks, who aren’t just hooligans testing the “lady lawman”.

They’re the front for a completely different threat, one that’s going to literally gobble up the entire town, if Tom and Rosa don’t set aside three years of simmering resentments and disappointments and face the threat together, instead of fighting each other.

About that simmering…the fire they sparked between them before Tom left still burns as hot as ever, but they can’t afford the distraction. Distraction will get them, and everyone around them killed.

But once they defeat their mutual enemy, if they survive, can they find any feelings left for each other beyond lust, disappointment and pain? Did they lose their chance at happiness by not fighting for it hard enough, all those years ago?

Escape Rating A-: There are three stories going on in Night of Fire, and all of them are terrific. One is the war, and for background on the war with the Hapsburgs, read Skies of Fire by Zoe Archer first. It’s tremendous fun, especially if you love steampunk. The information on what ether and telumium (the mineral that makes it all possible) are is there.

The second story is the Western “save the town” story. The sheriff needs to fight off the evil mining corporation that planning to swallow up the good ranching land and the good ranching community. This tale stands the usual trope on its head by having the corporation plan to literally swallow the town. Only in SF or fantasy (or one of their cousins like steampunk)!

Third, of course, is the romance. Tom and Rosa are doing the second-chance dance. They loved before and war has given them another try. They’ve grown up; they weren’t the people they were before. They didn’t fight hard enough before, they weren’t ready. This time, the stakes are much, much higher, but they’re much stronger. But they’ve got a lot of internal resentments to overcome, as well as the obvious external forces arrayed against them. It’s one hell of a fight.

And I wish the story had been a bit longer. This was an awful lot of stuff to pack into 100 pages. I loved it. I would have loved it more had there been a little more of it. Which means I can’t wait for the next one.


Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, June 2012

Before I get into this month’s features, let’s talk about the 2012 RITA Awards. I swear it’s on topic.

The 2012 RITA Award Winner for Contemporary Single Title Romance, announced July 28, 2012 by the Romance Writers of America, was Boomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe, published by Carina Press in August 2011. Congratulation to Fiona Lowe, to her editor Charlotte Herscher and to her publisher Carina Press.

An ebook-only title won. The other nominated books, worthy contenders all, were traditionally published print books. I can only say, “Wow” or maybe shout, “WOW!”

But this is the Ebook Review Central issue for Carina Press’ June 2012 titles. Not that basking in the glory of that RITA win isn’t terrific. So, let’s fast forward to June and take a look at the newer titles. Maybe there’s a RITA winner in there, too.

The big winner, and the number one featured title, is Shannon Stacey’s Slow Summer Kisses. Even though this title isn’t in her Kowalski series (more Kowalskis starting in September!) that didn’t seem to matter to her fans. This novella, available separately and as part of the Carina Press Editors Choice Volume 1, contains all the hallmarks of a signature Stacey contemporary romance. Anna Frazier and Cameron Mayfield have been involved with each other before, and they have a second chance, not just at love, but also a do-over at life. The question is whether or not they’ll take it. If you like contemporary romance at all, give Shannon Stacey a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Book number two this week is The Ravenous Dead by Natasha Hoar. There are two things to understand about this book. It is straight-up urban fantasy, and not paranormal romance. Carina Press does branch out into genres other than romance, and The Ravenous Dead, and its predecessor in The Lost Ones series, The Stubborn Dead, reflect that branching. Speaking of the series, read the first book first; backstory for this tale of the Order of Rescue Mediums is required. And it was excellent in its own right. Rachel Miller, the main character and member of that Order of Rescue Mediums, doesn’t just see dead people, she gets the stubborn ones to ease on down the road to wherever it is they go next. The ones that really, really don’t want to go can get pretty nasty. Like trying-to-consume-the-medium nasty. Very dark magic requires very big rescue. Sounds like fun.

Coming in third this week, and appropriately so, is His Heart’s Obsession by Alex Beecroft. Third is ironically appropriate for this title because the story itself is about a love triangle. Three for three. What’s different about this particular triangle is that it takes place during the Age of Sail, the late 1700s, and that all three sides to this triangle are men serving in the British Royal Navy. Two Lieutenants, one Captain. Both of the junior officers are gay in an era when being found out would get them, not just cashiered out of the service they love, but killed in disgrace. The Captain is straight, and has no idea that one of his Lieutenants harbors an unrequited and totally unfulfillable passion for him. And the other LT? He’s in love with his fellow junior officer, a man who thinks he’s a privileged ass. A lot happens in this novella to turn this situation around to the real possibilities. Beecroft is know for his historical accuracy in addition to his ability to tug heartstrings and craft believable characters.

Any month where Shannon Stacey has a book, it’s really easy to figure out which title is number one. Which means that September, October and November probably already have  one slot taken, since that’s when the three new Kowalski books are coming out. I’m really looking forward to them!

Picking numbers two and three is often a horse-race. There are always a few books with close numbers of reviews and ratings. Take a look at the list and see if you can spot the runner-up. Leave your guesses in the comments, just for fun.

That’s this week’s feature. Congratulations again to Fiona Lowe and Carina Press on the RITA win!

Be sure to come back next week for Dreamspinner Press’ June 2012 titles. It will be a big list!

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? AKA The Sunday Post 7-29-12

Mid-summer blog break part deux (a word which totally flummoxed the online dictionary, however flummoxed did not!)

The above only adds to the never-ending stream of anecdotes (anecdata, which is not a word but should be) that online dictionaries are not all they are cracked up to be.

Monday is the day for Ebook Review Central. And the calendar has come back around to Carina Press’ June 2012 titles. Carina always has a lot of candidates for the featured book slots, and this time was certainly no exception. (I will give you a hint about this week’s features. I feel sorry for everyone else if Shannon Stacey ever publishes three titles in a single month!)

On Thursday, August 2, I’ll be interviewing author Jamie Salisbury about her contemporary romance Timeless Sojourn, and, of course, reviewing the book. Ms. Salisbury is coming to Reading Reality as part of Goddess Fish Virtual Book Tour.


Now next week I have something really neat coming up. I’ll be interviewing Laurie Frankel, the author of Goodbye for Now, as well as reviewing her new book. Goodbye for Now is both high-tech and a love story. And it’s about letting go. And not letting go. Think of One Day with a touch of A.I. thrown in. I can hardly wait.


And I always have new books. I know I’m going to download An Officer’s Duty by Jean Johnson, the second book in her Theirs Not to Reason Why military science fiction series, the minute it’s available. I thought the first book, A Soldier’s Duty, was utterly awesome, so July 31 can’t come soon enough for me.


Speaking of fantastic series, the second book in James R. Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series is due out next week. That’s Blood and Silver. The mid-series novella, Spider’s Lullaby, has been out for a while. I’ve read them both, I just need to post reviews, because if you like dark, gritty and snarky urban fantasy, this series is fantastically good. Start with That Thing at the Zoo for background and immediately follow with Blood and Bullets. Rock ’em, sock ’em urban fantasy with guns and attitude instead of spells and attitude.

Something I’m looking forward to reading next week is Julie Ann Walker’s Hell on Wheels. It’s the first of a series about a defense firm posing as Harley mechanics and motorcycle buffs. So all the books are going to have that utterly delicious bodyguard crush thing going on. And they’re set in my favorite home town, Chicago. So you’ve got alpha ex-military males, hot bodyguards, cold city, bad bikes, and the first story is all about breaking the guy code rule dating your best friend’s little sister. The series is Black Knights, Inc. Books 2 and 3 are In Rides Trouble and Rev It Up. If they are as good as they sound, I think I’m going to be glad I already have them all from NetGalley.

What exciting books are you looking forward to in this long, hot summer?

Stacking the Shelves (12)

This week’s edition of Stacking the Shelves (hosted as always by Tynga’s Reviews) is brought to you courtesy of Marlene’s iPad.

I say that because every title is an ebook this week. No print.

Now my husband has just re-discovered the joys of visiting a bookstore on his lunch hour, but this is not stacking HIS shelves, it’s stacking my shelves. Of course, he called me one lunch to ask if I was interested in one of the books he was thinking of buying. But I wasn’t there, so I firmly maintain that it doesn’t count. Not even if I was interested. Which I was.

These are the books I took in this week. What about you? What new books have found a home on your shelves (or in your ereader) this week?

For Review:
Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready
Ghost Planet by Sharon Fisher
Aliens, Smith and Jones by Blaine D. Arden
Fissured (The Pipe Woman Chronicles #2) by Lynne Cantwell
Yesterday’s Heroes by Heather Long
Seducing Cinderella by Gina L. Maxwell
Demon Hunting in the Deep South (Demon Hunting #2) by Lexi George
Blaze of Winter (Star Harbor #2) by Elisabeth Barrett
Relentless Pursuit (Private Protectors #4) by Adrienne Giordano
The Guardian of Bastet by Jacqueline M. Battisti
The Last Victim by Karen Robards

Purchased from Amazon:
Demon Hunting in Dixie (Demon Hunting #1) by Lexi George

What is a Teen Novel? Vote for your Favorites at NPR

NPR is at it again! It’s summer, so they’re in the midst of what looks like it’s becoming an annual tradition. And what a terrific annual tradition it is.

Last year they asked their readers to nominate, and finally vote on, the Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books for adults “ever written”. Talk about endless debate amongst the fans. I had a lot of fun with that one. I love both genres.

I said it’s a tradition. In the summer of 2009, NPR asked for the Best Beach Books Ever. Great theme for the first time out. In 2010, they asked for “Killer Thrillers”, and made a killing on the poll, with 17,000 ballots turned in.

In last year’s poll, when they asked about SF/F they were very specific that they only wanted adult books in the nominations. NPR promised that young adult books, teen books, would feature in a later poll.

This is that later poll.

There’s a problem of the first part. It turns out that not everyone can agree on exactly what makes a YA book a YA book. Some of the titles that many people think of as classic YA books didn’t pass the expert panel’s muster. A Wrinkle in Time didn’t make it. Neither did Ender’s Game, considered too young and too mature, respectively. The report on the panel’s decision making process is posted at NPR  if you’re interested in how they decided.

Just like the Top SF/F poll last year, the Best-Ever Teen Novels poll is just that. A poll. You can vote for the ones you think are the best, even if your teen years are a few decades behind you.

Even though these are teen novels, I read most of the books I voted for when I was an adult. Some of them quite recently, like Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. And the Harry Potter series is on the list. But it only takes up one entry, not seven (thank you NPR, thank you!)

These are great books. Some of them are greater than others. You get to vote for 10 of the books that you think are greater than the others. I’ve already cast my ballot. What are you waiting for?

Let the debate (and the nostalgia about the much beloved books we read as teens) begin!

Review: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway

The “rose” who requires rather careful care and handling in this women’s fiction novel by Margaret Dilloway is Gal Garner, and she very definitely has thorns. But just like the flowers that she nurtures so carefully, there are definitely rewards for navigating your way through Gal’s prickly, thorny life.

You can learn a lot about actual rose gardening while reading The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, or at least, rose breeding and rose gardening in Southern California. Because that’s where this book takes place. There are snippets (how appropriate) from rose care books at the head of each chapter, and they seem totally real.

Gal Garner certainly needs care, and lots of it. Perhaps even more care than the roses she breeds so painstakingly.

Gal is 36. She has been a kidney dialysis patient for ten very long years. She’s had two transplants and both have failed. Her life has been defined by a childhood illness that was not caught in time, one that destroyed both her kidneys. Her world has been defined by the limitations of her disease.

And not just her world, but also her parents, and her older sister Becky. The family drama will play out again, one more summer, against a real rose, not rose-colored, backdrop.

Ten years is a long time for a dialysis patient. Gal is on borrowed time. She needs a kidney. Her mother has already given one. The rest of her family are not an option.

Gal is a biology teacher at a private high school. She is painstaking, smart, witty, acerbic. She suffers no fools because she has no patience and no time. She most explicitly does not grade on the curve. Her students learn or they fail. Their parents want her gone. Her life is closing in.

All she has are the roses she breeds. Her goal is one rose, a rare Hulthemia, that she can get voted into the All-America Rose Selections. A successful test rose would be worth a fortune. She could stop teaching.

But instead of a successful test rose, in the spring she gets her teenage niece as a house guest. Her sister Becky has become irresponsible. Again. Becky has left for Hong Kong. Supposedly for work. And sent Riley to her Aunt Gal for months, with no warning. And with no thought as to whether Gal can handle a 15-year-old girl.

Gal can’t turn her away. Riley is her family, even if she hasn’t seen her since she was three.

And even if she looks just like her mother. Gal’s sister Becky, whom Gal is still angry with. Angry for her irresponsibility. Angry with for just being healthy. Angry with for just being able to have a child, and then for throwing her away.

Riley has raised herself. Becky has never been responsible. Gal feels guilty that she didn’t do more, all those years ago. So she tries now. But they are both set in their ways.

Riley isn’t a child any more. She’s almost a woman. And Gal spends every other night in the hospital having dialysis. But needing each other is more than either of them has ever had.

Roses grow towards the sun.

Escape Rating B+: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns was a little slow to get started. At first, Gal is not a likable character. On the one hand, the reader sympathizes with her because of her illness, but on the other hand, she makes herself as unpleasant as possible to everyone around her. She’s so busy making sure that no one feels sorry for her she acts like a jerk, knowing they can’t retaliate because of her illness.

The women’s intergenerational drama is one that’s been done before. Gal’s illness dominated the family dynamic, so Becky felt left out and acted out. What was interesting, and what makes the story work, was the way that things played out in the next generation. Even though Riley looks like Becky, Gal doesn’t visit her mother’s sins on her. Nor does she treat her like a child after a few false starts. Gal needs her too much.

Their need for each other makes them forge a totally different dynamic, a better one than the sisters had. It works.  There is a happy ending of sorts, but not a huge one. And that’s the way it should be.

***Disclaimer: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

If you want to join this month’s discussion of  The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns on the BlogHer Book Club, you can join the discussion by following this link to the Book Club.

Review: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

The Chaperone is not quite a story about Louise Brooks, although she’s the device that makes the whole thing possible. So what is it?

It’s a fictionalized account of something that might have been, a journey that the now-legendary 1920s film actress might have taken to New York to audition for the famous Denishawn modern dance company in 1922. Brooks did join Denishawn that year. She was 15.

But young girls from Cherryvale, Kansas (transplanted to Wichita for the purpose of the story) did not spend summers in New York City on their own in 1922, no matter how mature and precocious they might be. And no matter how neglectful their fathers were and how determined their mothers might be to leave them to raise themselves. Sending Louise off alone just wouldn’t have been done.

Enter the fictional character of Cora Carlisle. A married woman willing to spend a summer in New York at the Brooks’ expense, chaperoning the Brooks’ incredibly willful daughter, all for the excuse to explore her own hidden past.

The title of the story is The Chaperone because it is Cora’s journey that we follow, not Louise’s. And what a journey it is.

When we first meet Cora, she seems like a staid, middle-class matron. A woman who has settled in to her boring and predictable little life, and who fears the modernity embodied by Louise (picture at right from Wikimedia Commons), who symbolized with her bobbed hair and very relaxed morals the flapper and the Jazz Age.

But Cora goes to New York to confront her past. She was one of the forced by lucky participants in a great social experiment of an earlier generation; Cora was one of the orphans who was sent West on the Orphan Trains. She intends to go to the orphanage that she came from, and search for her own records. She wants to know her roots. Her adoptive parents were good to her, but they are long dead. The past can’t touch them. But it might help her.

The future is what she finds. Louise may be taking dancing lessons, but it’s what she teaches Cora that matters. She opens up the world of the big city, and a window into the way that the world will be. As Louise’s chaperone, she goes to shows that she wouldn’t have seen, places she wouldn’t have visited. The world is bigger than Wichita. And what happens in New York, can stay in New York.

But Cora has a secret back home, too. Her marriage is not what it appears to be. Just as Louise’s privileged childhood is not what it appears to be. But living with Louise has taught Cora that if you maintain the appearance of things, what happens behind closed doors can be very different from the world sees.

Cora can have her private happiness if she is willing to reach outside of her moral corset and grab for it with both hands. Louise was never that lucky.

Escape Rating A-: Louise Brooks’ history is known, but Cora Carlisle’s fictional existence is woven so seamlessly into her biography that I had to check it again to make sure that she didn’t exist. The meld of fact and fiction was almost picture perfect.

At the beginning of the story, there’s a big dose of “why are we here?” going on in the reader’s head. Or at least this reader. Louise is not a sympathetic character. She is self-centered and self-absorbed to the point where it’s no wonder her mother wants to send her off with someone else for the summer. And Cora is, to use a word suited to the time, a prig. The hook was getting into Cora’s head about why she wants to go on this trip.

But there’s also a little mystery. Cora doesn’t ask her husband’s permission to go to New York; she tells him she’s going. That just wasn’t done in 1922. Either she’s very liberated, and her other interactions don’t bear that out, or there’s something unusual in her marriage, which turns out to be the case.

The 20s were a fascinating time, and Cora managed to be in the right place at the right time to see a lot of things that foreshadowed later historic events. She grows up a LOT during that summer, much more than Louise, which is what makes the story. Louise should be the one growing up, but Louise is already much older than she should be. Unfortunately so. Cora is the one who “gets a life” that summer.

Louise is the tragic figure. She’s already fallen, she just doesn’t know it yet. Cora, the older woman, is the larva who will break out of her cocoon and become a butterfly.

***Disclaimer: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

If you want to join this month’s discussion of  The Chaperone on the BlogHer Book Club, you can join the discussion by following this link to the Book Club.


ARCs, Stacks and Hauls

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

The quote is from Desiderius Erasmus. How totally appropriate, but also one I’ve lived by long before I knew it existed. My mom would tell you I spent my allowance on books when I was a kid. And generally owed her future allowances.

I’ve always collected books. More books than I could read at any given point in time. I love having the choice of what to read next. It’s not the object, it’s the content. Ebooks suit me just fine for most things, and they take up less space. This is a big deal when you move as often as we do, and when you own as many “dead tree” books as we do.

Still over 2,000. We haven’t even unpacked them all from the last move. In December.

About ARCs. I’ve worked in libraries that received ARCs in lots of different ways. One of my former places of work (FPOW) was in a major metropolitan area. The city newspaper still had a significant book section on Sundays, and received books for review. The newspaper donated their review copies to the library. About once a month we received an industrial pallet-load of books, mixed ARCs and “real” books. The “real” books often went into the collection. But the ARCs, never. Staff had the pick of the ARCs for collection development, reading copies, whatever we liked. But they were never put in the collection. If you are wondering what the newspaper got out of this arrangement, they got a tax write-off.

Other libraries I have worked at do sell ARCs at book sales, or they end up in the Friends of the Library book sales. I haven’t worked at a library that has put them in the collection, but I know it happens.

But what does any of this have to do with ARCs now? I can hear the question from here. The recent #ARCgate mess brought up a lot of questions and it made me think about the present and future of ARCs in general, and what any mailbox-type post looks like in particular.

I do get a lot of ARCs. More in one week than I can read in a week. I’ve always picked up more books in a week than I could read that week. The difference now is that I’m getting a lot of eARCs instead of deliveries from Amazon and B&N or borrowing books from the library.

But the ARC “stack” can look like a book haul, and that isn’t the purpose of it for me. I choose eARCs because eARCs are a win/win. My eARC does not automatically deny any other reviewer the same eARC. That’s the beauty of NetGalley and Edelweiss. No print, no postage, not necessarily a limited number of ARCs the way that a print run by its very nature limits the number of ARCs.

And no print ARCs left on my shelves at the end that I’m not quite sure what to do with. Because the last thing my house needs is more print books. One of the clear messages of the whole ARCgate mess is that what you should do with your ARCs after you’re finished is very, well, unclear.

What I’m curious about, dear readers, is how you feel when you see mailbox-type posts on book blogs. Do you see them as the blogger doing a bit to promote books that she or he might not have time to review? Do you see them as bragging? Do you find them useful for adding to your own TBR pile? Do you care?

Please share your thoughts! I’ve been having a serious re-think on this topic after ARCgate, and I’d love to hear from you.


Ebook Review Central, Amber Quill, Astraea, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver, Red Sage, Riptide, May 2012

This Ebook Review Central issue covers the May 2012 titles for a whole host of publishers; Amber Quill Press (all its bits), Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver Books, Red Sage Publishing and Riptide Publishing.

And another month ends. Next week, we’ll start the June coverage and begin inching up on the calendar again, but not too close.

Because of the continuing mess surrounding the “Stop the GR Bullies site” and the whole discourse about whether posting a bad review, even a snarky bad review, constitutes bullying. I’d like to point out a very professional exchange of comments between one reviewer of Rachel Van Dyken’s Upon a Midnight Dream and the author, the publisher and the publicist. The exchange occurred at Books with Benefits and concerned both the book and the cover art. While the cover art review was intentionally snarky, the book review was well-written but not a positive review of the book. However, both reviews referred to the work and not the person and the entire discussion on all sides remained totally professional and positive in tone.

(For those looking for an interesting, well-written and snarky author’s take on this mess, I recommend John Scalzi’s post, “Bad Reviews: I Can Handle Them, and So Should You“)

Back to Ebook Review Central.

The number one featured book was a complete surprise. Curiosity Quills published one title in May. And, as is usual for them, it’s a genre-bender. Part paranormal romance, part urban fantasy, and a touch of YA. And it’s book one in a series, so there will be more. I’m talking about Wilde’s Fire by Krystal Wade, the first book in her Darkness Falls series. The concept is a classic; a girl dreams of a magical world, then leads her sister and her best friend through a portal, and discovers that magical world is real. But it’s not a dream, it’s a nightmare after all. Reviewers were all over the map on Wilde’s Fire, every rating imaginable from 5/5 to DNF (way more reviews on the high side!). But so very many people read it and wrote about it, equally passionately. When 32 reviewers take the time to review something, not including reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, it’s absolutely worth taking a look at.

Featured book number two this week is from Riptide Publishing. All four of the titles Riptide published in May were from their Rentboys Collection, but the one that stood out for the reviewers was Priceless by Cat Grant. This blend of three tropes really pulled at reviewers heartstrings because of the power of the writing. Trope number one is the nerd romance. Professor Connor Morrison is so busy with both his physics professorship and the technical firm that he and his best friend are trying to get launched that he doesn’t have time for relationships. He’s too busy and too driven. Wes Martin is a student at Connor’s college. With no scholarship and no family behind him, Wes does whatever he has to do to graduate, even hooking through a website. But they keep running into each other, some of those meetings orchestrated by Connor’s business partner. Connor doesn’t have time for a relationship, and Wes doesn’t want Connor to find out that some of his johns rough him up. A lot.  A major wake-up call about what’s really important in life, and some serious rescuing made this book shine for a lot of readers.

The final book in this feature is Dirk’s Love by Marisa Chenery, published by Liquid Silver Books. Dirk’s Love is book six in the Roxie’s Protectors series, giving it that built-in audience that often has reviewers chomping at the bit for a book. Dirk is a werewolf, and this story is absolutely a paranormal romance, but with a cyber twist. Dirk has created an online matchmaking service for werewolves to find their soul mates. It turns out that his one employee is his soul mate. Looks like the service works. The only problem is that Ryann’s ex-husband has other ideas. And when Ryann discovers that Dirk is a werewolf, it takes her a while to decide that the wolf is not a monster after all.

That’s a wrap for this week’s Ebook Review Central. We’ll be back next week with the Carina Press June 2012 feature.

I have a question for you! Can you think of a great title for this multi-publisher group post? The title up there is a really long mouthful. Please help me out by posting your ideas in the comments.

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? AKA The Sunday Post 7-22-12

Are these the dog days of summer? Is that the explanation? Or did I accidentally manage to give myself a break?

The official definition of the Dog Days calls them the hottest and sultriest days of summer — July and August in this part of the world. It’s been plenty hot enough to qualify, at least here in Atlanta.

This week will be a writing and reviewing week. A chance for me to review some of the books I’ve finished but haven’t written up. And to send out the questions for lots of upcoming author interviews.

Next week, I’m part of a Goddess Fish tour for Jamie Salisbury’s Timeless Sojourn. And there are a few other books coming out next week that caught my eye when they appeared at Netgalley.

Brenda Novak is starting a contemporary romance series, in the small town of Whiskey Creek. Her romantic suspense has always been highly recommended, but it was already too many books in for me to think about getting into it. This new series is, well, new, so I have a chance to start at the beginning. The prequel novella, titled When We Touch, comes out next week.

On the paranormal side, I’m looking forward to Kendra Leigh Castle’s Shadow Rising, the third book in her Dark Dynasties series. I loved the first two books (Dark Awakening and Midnight Reckoning) so I have high hopes for this one. Early comments say I won’t be disappointed.

A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious by Mary Wine looks like a walk on the steampunk wild side. I’ll admit that I picked this one up for the title alone. But then, I’m always up for a good steampunk romp.

Tomorrow is still Monday, which means that Ebook Review Central will be back. This week it’s time for the six-headed feature. Amber Quill, Astraea Preaa, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver, Red Sage and Riptide all had their hits and misses in this feature. Read tomorrow’s ERC to find out which titles racked up the most and best reviews.