Guest Review: Emerging Magic by Angela Benedetti

Formats Available: Mass Market Paperback, ebook
Genre: M/M Urban Fantasy
Release Date: July 25, 2012
Series: Sentinels #2
Length: 290 pages
Publisher: Torquere Press
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher, Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Book Depository

Rory’s mother took him to psychiatrists, let them circumscribe his life, let them give him drugs, while knowing all along there was nothing wrong with him. When Rory finds out, he’s angry and confused and just wants to get away for a while. His mother’s betrayal plus another kidnap attempt make a visit to the father he hasn’t seen in ten years seem like a great idea.

When Rory, Paul and Aubrey get to Seattle, though, it’s obviously not going to be just a normal family Christmas. Someone north of San Jose tried to kidnap Rory twice before they left, and it’s too much of a coincidence that Nathan, Rory’s dad, has magic talented friends. While Rory tries to reconnect with his only other family, Paul is trying to figure out whether anyone in Nathan’s group is after Rory. They definitely have secrets, and at least one of them has been playing around with things he doesn’t understand. The local fey are after him, and elves aren’t known for caring too much about collateral damage.

And there’s a master wizard in the area who’s up to something big and would really like to have Rory’s help….

See the first installment of Rory and Paul’s story in A Hidden Magic: Sentinels Book One.

Guest Review by Cryselle

I’ve been waiting for this book for every minute since I finished A Hidden Magic. The Sentinels universe, as well as Paul and Rory, had way too many possibilities to leave it at one lone novel, and my (im)patience has paid off at last. Magic exists here, though not everyone believes in or perceives it, and humans are considered low on the magical power scale.

Spoiler for book one, sorry, but we left Paul bereft of his magic—the only way he saw to accomplish a greater good. Rory, his new lover and possessor of magic beyond most mages’ dreams, is there for him during this time of adjustment. Paul in turn is a bulwark for Rory as he processes the monumental betrayal that is the reality of his mother’s protective instincts gone berserk. Left defenseless against magical attack and confused why anyone would try, Rory’s had more adventure than he could stand in A Hidden Magic.

Matters don’t stay peaceful for long in Emerging Magic. Having fended off two attempts on another abduction, Rory figures that getting away from his usual haunts is good, getting away from Mama Manipulation is really good, and reconnecting with the father who left during his youth is the best reason to leave town. If at the same time Rory and his magically talented friends can track down the rogue mage calling himself Aziraphale, better yet.

This is very much a sweater to ball of yarn story—tug on one loose end and a row comes loose, followed by a sleeve; another tug, and there goes the neckline. Each small yank reveals another skein of the truth, but until all the major players are gathered together to find out exactly how deep in hot lava they stand, Rory is the center of several plots devised by persons of greater or lesser integrity and good will.

Trusting his own instincts is something Rory is ill-equipped to do, though he’s working hard to develop his own judgments. Paul is wise enough to not step into the judgment vacuum, but cares enough to pick up the pieces should they go smash, and fortunately, Rory has enough strength and enough trust in the trustworthy to keep most of the Pacific Northwest from turning into wasteland.

Several delightful characters from the first book return here, from Azzy the junk-food-junkie pixie to Willowen, an elf of enormous power, boundless curiosity, and caustic words for the terminally stupid. Aubrey, a centuries-old mage, and his apprentice Cal, who is the only one who can curb Aubrey’s stinging teaching methods so that the students actually benefit, have a large supporting role. They bring a mordant humor plus a good look at a loving relationship between the magically unequal.

The story is a lovely mix of new relationship between Paul and Rory, a huge dust-up among the magically gifted and those who wish they were, and mages who think they have a Grand Plan for saving their corner of the world all the while riling beings whom it does not do to annoy. The ending wraps matters justly and ethically, if not always happily, an excellent choice on the part of the author, who understands that fairness doesn’t mean everyone’s pleased.

My niggles: a few issues wrap more smoothly than perhaps they should, and Rory’s sense of self-preservation ought to make him question everyone and everything, though he remains dangerously trusting in some directions. Every time he brushes his hair he has reason to remember how others would use him for their own purposes: an elven lady grew it to his knees for her pleasure, not for his. Naïve perhaps, but Rory gives the readers incentive to talk back to the book, and a facepalm moment or two.

Rory’s personal and magical growth and the machinations around him that provoke it are the primary focus of the tale, although the romantic aspect is indispensable and important. Paul’s role is supportive and contradictory: what he would do as a lover is not what he can or should do as a Sentinel. His and Rory’s physical relationship is mostly fade to black and when not, couched in language more poetic than earthy. It’s a joy to watch them learn each other—their relationship is only weeks old in their timeline and they still have a lot to work out.

This universe is rife with characters who should have stories: Aubrey and Cal are strong supporting characters here but could easily star in their own book, and Manny, left behind in San Diego, needs face time. The Sentinels universe has endless possibilities both romantically and magically. The series currently has two novels available in ebook and trade paperback and several e-shorts; I hope Angela Benedetti is busy plotting the next installment.  Escape Rating: A-

Cryselle can regularly be found blogging and reviewing at Cryselle’s Bookshelf.

Dual Review: Seducing Cinderella

Format read: ebook
Release Date: 20 July 2012
Series: Book #1 in the Fighting for Love series
Number of pages: 177 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Brazen)
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Read an excerpt


Mixed martial arts fighter Reid Andrews’s chance to reclaim his title as light heavyweight champ is shattered when he’s injured only months before the rematch. To make sure he’s healed in time, his trainer sends him to recuperate under a professional’s care—Reid’s best friend’s little sister, all grown up.

Disorganized and bookish Lucie Miller needs some professional help of her own. She’d do anything to catch the eye of a doctor she’s crushed on for years, so when Reid offers seduction lessons in exchange for 24/7 conditioning for the biggest fight of his career, Lucie jumps at the chance.

Soon Reid finds him himself in the fight of his life…winning Lucie’s heart before she gives it to someone else.

Our Thoughts:

Marlene: The “lessons in seduction” trope is one of my secret favorites, I love seeing it done right. It’s hard to do in contemporary stories without making one of the characters very young, but Maxwell really managed to pull it off with adults. This was terrific.

Stella: Oh I agree Marlene, there is just something delicious in how the hero awakens the heroine to her sensual side and makes her discover a whole new world 😉

Marlene: The use of the “Cinderella” motif was playful and fun, but if we’re talking about fairy tales, this is much more of an “Ugly Duckling” story.

Stella: This is really funny Marlene, as I was reading Seducing Cinderella I kept making notes asking myself why the story was titled Cinderella and not Seducing My Fair Lady, as it was more of a Pygmalion, Ugly Duckling story with how Reid made Lucie the invisible sweats and glasses wearing girl transform into a sexy va-va-voom vixen.

Marlene: The reasons why Lucie needed a transformation were reasonable. She’d been hurt and was hiding in her shapeless clothes and shyness.

Stella: Hm.. interesting I didn’t see it that way, I just thought she was more of a tomboy and was more comfortable in her practical clothes. Since she had a really sexy best friend I found it a bit puzzling how come her temptress of BF didn’t give her tips on how to dress in a more advantageous way and highlight her features with some light makeup.

Marlene: Lucie was definitely a tomboy, but her selfish oaf of an ex- seriously did a number on her. Hiding behind her competence after that experience made sense to me. YMMV. What made Reid the right man for her was that he was interested in her before he transformed her, he was interested while he transformed her, and he was interested after. That idiot doctor only saw the wrapping and not the package.

Stella: Oh don’t even get me started on the doctor, he was such a slimebag I get creeped out just thinking about him. It was quite one big turn off regarding Lucie, I couldn’t understand how she could be such a horrible judge of character that she was blind to what a hypocritical and shallow, egotistical jerk her big crush was. Ugh.. Reid on the other hand was great. Maybe a bit too knowledgeable in some feminine ways but definitely warm-hearted generous, tender and caring towards Lucie and still so virile and strong mmm *dreamy eyes*

Marlene: One of the things that makes this story work is that neither the hero nor the heroine are perfect. Another way of looking at it, continuing the fairy tale themes, would be if Lucie is the Ugly Duckling that Reid helps to turn into a beautiful swan, or if Lucie is Cinderella and Reid is her fairy godfather, then Lucie is also ultimately Beauty to Reid’s Beast, the one woman who sees him as more than just a fighter. They redeem each other, but not until after Reid treats Lucie fairly beastly. There is one pretty big misunderstandammit.

Stella: Oh that Beauty and the Beast parallel you drew is spot on Marlene! Although at times I found that Reid’s knowledge about feminine tricks regarding make up and sexy clothes was a bit too much, I definitely loved how Lucie saw the person behind the fighter and how she supported and loved the man behind the title.

Marlene: We don’t see much of the side characters, but what we do see of Lucie’s friends shows that she does have a good support group. I love her friend Vanessa; she watches NCIS!

Stella: I also loved Vanessa, she was fun, and the gay guy friends were also a riot! Hope to see them again in the next books!


Marlene: I read Seducing Cinderella a few weeks ago in order to write the interview questions, but when it came time to write this review, I got totally sucked in and re-read the book. I only intended to skim it, but I got lost in the story again. It’s not just that the writing was good, but I felt for, or maybe that’s fell for, the characters all over again.

I am seduced into giving Seducing Cinderella 4 ½ stars.

Stella: I agree that Seducing Cinderella was an enchanting and captivating story, I remember that I devoured it in no time and enjoyed every minute of it. Reid was a considerate and delicious hero and Lucie was a very relatable heroine with her insecurities, and when these two got together the air sizzled! A wonderful hot read for summer nights and I’m looking forward to reading the next books in the series!

I give Seducing Cinderella 4 stars!


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Interview with Author Susan Wiggs + Giveaway

It is with very great pleasure that I welcome Susan Wiggs to Reading Reality today. She is here to celebrate the release of her new book, Return to Willow Lake. It is indeed a return: this is her first visit back to her bestselling Lakeshore Chronicles series in two years. Susan’s fans have really been waiting for this one.  Now that I’ve made my own trip to Susan’s beautiful creation in the Catskills, I completely understand what the fuss is about. Return to Willow Lake is terrific! (Check out my review for details)

But let’s hear it from Susan…

Marlene: Hello, Susan! Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Susan Wiggs when she isn’t writing? 

SW: Like my readers, I wear lots of hats–wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing or feeling guilty about not writing…but I try to stay balanced. You might find me on a paddleboard in the Sound in front of my house, or hiking with husband & dogs, fixing dinner for my sweet old parents, or traveling the world.

Marlene: And now for the fun stuff. I want to hear how kickboxing mixes with butter sculpting? Or maybe it doesn’t?

SW: It would make quite a mess! I do a lot of different things, but not simultaneously!

Marlene: Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

SW: My mom. She also transcribed the stories I dictated to her when I was a tot.

Marlene: Who influenced your decision to become a writer?

SW: All the amazing, wonderful books I read and lived inside as I was growing up. I couldn’t imagine a better calling in life than telling stories.

Marlene: What book do you recommend everyone should read, and why?

SW: I don’t do that. Reading taste is such an individual thing. One person’s favorite book is another person’s snoozer. When I read and love a book, I like telling people about it. I do it all the time on my Facebook page:

Marlene: What was the writing road like from Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Shanna (I remember that one well) to Willow Lake?

SW: Long! I discovered Shanna while in college, sold my first book in 1986 and the first Lakeshore book was published in 2006.

Marlene: Who is your favorite fictional character who loves books? And why?

SW: Belle, in Disney’s Beauty & the Beast. I don’t know if she was a booklover in the original fairy tale, but she brought the sexy back to books!

Marlene: Now, if you would, introduce us to Sonnet Romano and Zach Alger, the characters in Return to Willow Lake.

SW: Sonnet is a wildly successful, driven career girl with a fabulous life in the city. Zach is a hometown boy with big dreams. They knew each other…once upon a time. They had a little too much fun at Daisy Bellamy’s wedding. Now they’re having to figure out where to go from there.

Marlene: Do you plan everything, or do you just let the story flow?

SW: I plan everything AND let the story flow. Sometimes I stick to the plan and other times, the story wanders away from me. I can never predict. Sonnet and Zach took me completely by surprise when I got into their heads and started writing their story.

Marlene: Speaking of plans, what projects do you have planned for the future?

SW: A new series, starting with The Apple Orchard in 2013. And more Lakeshore books. I just can’t seem to stop!

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

SW: Both. I get up early and stay up late. Life is just too much fun to spend sleeping.

Life is too much fun to spend sleeping. Mmm…that sounds like something Sonnet might say.


As part of her blog tour, Susan Wiggs has generously offered one print copy of Return to Willow Lake to one lucky participant. (US only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Return to Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Return to Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs is a small-town romance that’s not really about the romance. And that’s a very, very good thing. It’s a story about listening to your heart, and finding the path you were meant to be on. Because only when you know who you are and what you want are you ready to love someone else.

Sonnet Romano comes back to Willow Lake, in this ninth book of Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles, for her step-sister Daisy’s wedding. The setting is idyllic. Camp Kioga is a beautiful location, an old summer camp on the lake shore, near the small Catskills town of Avalon where Sonnet grew up.

A place that Sonnet couldn’t wait to leave.

But Daisy’s wedding reminds her of just what she’s given up for her high-powered career as a project director at UNESCO; time with her mother and step-father, time with friends, time to unwind, time to just be herself.

A few precious hours when she doesn’t have to watch everything she says and does for what her biological father, candidate-for-the-Senate General Laurence Jeffries, might think. A man who has only been interested in her since she won a scholarship at a pretigious university and looked like she might be a credit to him after all.

Sonnet is his one mistake. The product of a youthful indiscretion while he was attending West Point and her mother was still underage. But now that he’s a candidate, his campaign is trying to “manage” Sonnet’s existence. They have to; her father’s campaign manager is her boyfriend.

But at Daisy’s wedding Sonnet’s perfect plan for her future starts to slip. Sonnet’s best friend, the person who has always been there for her, is Zach Algers. They were both outsiders in the little community of Avalon. Sonnet because she was not only bi-racial, but because her mom was a young, single mother in a community of two-parent families. And Zach, first because his mom died, so they both were being raised by single parents, but then because his dad embezzled town funds and was spending time in jail for the crime.

Misfits together growing up.

At the wedding, Sonnet discovered something new about Zach. He hadn’t just grown up into his late high school growth spurt, he’d…changed. Zach Alger was the hottest man that Sonnet Romano had ever seen. Way better than her supposedly perfect boyfriend.

And it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Not with Zach. Not with her best friend. Not tipsy, after the wedding, alone on somebody’s boat out in the middle of the lake. Zach wasn’t supposed to be the best she’d ever had. Or thought she ever would.

Because sex with Zach took away their ease with each other. Ruined their friendship.

And then Sonnet had to hear just about the scariest thing a woman can ever hear from her mother. Her mother had breast cancer. And she was pregnant. Which meant that certain forms of treatment were off the table, because they’d harm the baby.

Sonnet threw her perfect life out the window, and came back to Willow Lake, to Avalon. Her plans didn’t matter anymore. The only thing that mattered was being there for her mom, after all the years that her mother had worked two jobs and more just to keep them together. After all the years that it had been just the two of them, before her mom had finally found her own what they hoped would be happily ever after. Until cancer came calling.

Sonnet thought that she was giving up a lot to come home and be with her mother, but that any, absolutely any sacrifice she made would be worth it. What she found out was that she wasn’t sacrificing anything that she shouldn’t have jettisoned a long time ago.

And that sometimes you have to travel far away to appreciate what was right in front of your eyes all along.

Escape Rating A-: Even though this is the latest book in the Lakeshore Chronicles, I’ll confess that I haven’t read the rest of the series, and I didn’t feel left out. A reader could step right in at this point and have enough info to know what’s going on. This is Sonnet’s story and her history with Zack is all on the BFF side up until now.

This is mostly the story of Sonnet waking up and smelling the coffee, so to speak, rather than the love story. Sonnet isn’t ready for a love story for most of the book. She needs to grow up and figure out what she wants. She’s just not ready. She’s a good person, but she’s being manipulated, a lot, by her sperm-donor father.

The parts of the story that really shine are the ones that deal with Nina’s (Sonnet’s mom) cancer treatment, and the hopelessness that the family goes through. And, on a more upbeat note, the job that Sonnet takes in Avalon to work on a reality TV show about a hip-hop star doing her community service at Camp Kioga with a bunch of inner-city kids. Jezebel, the diva of the show, was both hilarious and insightful.

What I didn’t quite get was some of Orlando’s (the campaign boyfriend) motivations for his ultimate betrayal. Sperm-donor dad I understood. I didn’t like him (I doubt the reader is supposed to) but I understood him. Orlando, not so much.

Avalon is a terrific place and I want to go back.

Review: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny is definitely that, a beautiful mystery. But that’s not all it is.

The Beautiful Mystery is the eighth book in Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series, after A Trick of the Light (see review). Instead of returning to the small village of Three Pines, where the body count is getting inconceivably high, Penny sends Gamache, the head of the Homicide Division of the Sûreté du Québec, to the remote monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups to solve, of course, a murder.

But not just any murder. This case is a sort of locked-room murder writ large. Saint-Gilbert can only be reached by boat, and there are only 24 monks in this cloistered order. 23 suspects and a corpse.

But the monks of Saint-Gilbert released a bit of themselves out into the world they left behind. One glorious CD full of Gregorian chant. The beautiful mystery of a plainchant so harmonious, so beautiful, that a world starving for the peace the monks captured in that incredible music stormed their remote sanctuary. A sanctuary that had remained hidden for four centuries.

The CD brought the funds that the monks needed to repair the monastery. The roof, the walls, the electricity. Québec winters are brutal. Even the best masonry wears out eventually. But in selling their music, they sold their peace.

The loss of that peace exposed critical differences within the community. When all they had was each other, all alone in the wilderness, the differences didn’t matter. But when the debate was between bringing their message, their music, to the wider world, and returning to their isolation, those differences became a chasm, a schism.

A reason to kill.

Murder in the remotest parts of the province might not bring the Chief Inspector and his best detective, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Except, except, that chant, that beautiful mystery of music made the monastery, and the victim, famous. This is a high-profile case.

The victim was the choir director, the man responsible for the music. He represented one side of that terrible divide in the monastery. Now he was dead. It is up to Gamache and Beauvoir to determine which of the remaining 23 monks committed the murder.

Into the middle of the case drops Sylvain Françoeur, the Chief of the Sûreté. Gamache’s. Françoeur is not there to help with the case. He is there because of the schism within the Surete, a chasm where Françoeur stands on one side, and Gamache on the other.

Françoeur is part of the rot within the Sûreté. An insidious evil that Gamache has been fighting for many years. Françoeur and Gamache are old enemies, and know each other all too well. And Françoeur, snake that he is, knows where Gamache’s weak spots are.

Gamache’s strengths, and his weak points, are the Surete agents he has trained, particularly the ones he loves as much as his own children. Agents like Jean-Guy Beauvoir.

Escape Rating A+: The Inspector Gamache series, starting with Still Life, is definitely a mystery series. There is always a body. But they are also complex character studies. Gamache, Jean-Guy, often the people of Three Pines, the monks in this case, Françoeur.

Gamache studies people, and it’s from that study he figures out who committed the murder. Jean-Guy is usually the evidence guy. Or Isabelle Lacoste, who isn’t in this one. Gamache is also a terrific mentor.

But there’s an over-arching story in The Beautiful Mystery, in addition to the mystery of the dead monk. It’s the story of the rot in the Surete. The case in the immediate past is the one detailed in Bury Your Dead, but there’s old history between Gamache and Francoeur. It’s that old history that’s coming to a head, and Jean-Guy is caught in the middle.

There’s a part of me that is starting to wonder if the overall arch isn’t so much Gamache’s story as it is Jean-Guy’s journey. If so, The Beautiful Mystery is the point in the hero’s journey where everything looks really, really bleak.

The murder is solved. But not the mystery.

The Devil You Know by Victoria Vane

Format Read: ebook provided by the author
Number of Pages: 127 pages
Release Date: July 27, 2012
Publisher: Breathless Press
Series: The Devil DeVere #3
Genre: Historical romance
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info:  Goodreads | Author’s Website | Publisher’s WebsiteAmazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK)

Book Blurb:

When dealing with the devil it’s easy to be burned… especially when passion ignites the flames.
Who can find a virtuous woman… Beautiful, respectable, and dutiful, Lady Diana Palmerston-Wriothesley has long resigned herself to her decade-long loveless and childless marriage to a feckless husband…until his gambling pushes them to the brink of financial ruin.
Sometimes the devil is in disguise…as a gentleman… Viscount Ludovic, “The Devil DeVere”, is a man accustomed to taking what he wants according to his whim and heedless of the cost…until he encounters a woman who won’t be had at any price.
When dealing with the devil, it’s easy to be burned… When Diana discovers a secret that shatters the carefully built façade concealing her private pain, she seeks aid and comfort from the most unlikely place…the devil’s arms. But will a single night of heavenly passion damn them both forever?

My Thoughts:

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

By this point in TheDevil DeVere series, we really do know this particular devil, Ludovic DeVere. Or at least we think we do. In the first two books of the series, A Wild Night’s Bride and The Virgin Huntress, we’ve seen DeVere as he is now. (Check out the BLI reviews of Bride and Huntress for more details on DeVere’s exploits.) The Devil You Know is the story of what came before all that.

In the first two books of the series, it’s obvious there is a ton of history between Ludo and Lady Diana, and that it didn’t end well. Or rather that it didn’t end at all. They have unfinished business, and one heck of a lot of unresolved sexual tension. Just about enough of it to invent the internal combustion engine a century or so early.

It is a tad disconcerting when this story opens, and one of the characters in the first scene is someone we know is dead in A Wild Night’s Bride. It doesn’t matter, because this isn’t Ned Chambers’ story.

This is finally, at last, the one story that has been looming over everything. What the hell happened between Ludo and Diana that sent him haring out of England and sinking into unprecedented depths of debauchery and caused Diana to rusticate in the country as if she would never return to Society?

Once upon a time, Caroline Capheaton decided it was better to marry an old duke than a young viscount-to-be. She assumed that by the time the old duke died, the viscount-to-be would actually BE the viscount, and that he would still be hers. And in the meantime, she could play with him all she wanted. Ludo DeVere was tired of her by the time she was available, and besides, he’d already tasted everything she had to offer. He just hadn’t found anyone to take her place when Diana entered his life.

And that was his biggest mistake.

Once upon a time, Diana had married Reginald Wriothesly, a man of her father’s choosing. After a few years, she was more than aware that it had been the worst thing she could have done. Reggie gambled to excess. He drank to excess. And he seemed to have no use whatsoever for a wife except for the dowry she had brought him. A dowry which Reggie had entirely gambled away–along with everything else. They were ruined.

The first man to look at Diana with appreciation (and what appreciation it was!) was Ludovic DeVere. A man Diana knew to be a complete and utter rake of the worst kind.

Diana wants DeVere’s backing to race her horse. Her one piece of property that somehow her husband does not own. Winning this particular race will give her enough money to establish herself separately from her husband. She hopes.

DeVere just wants Diana. She intrigues him. But, it’s a more than good enough horse to make the bet worthwhile too. And their little conspiracy means they have to keep meeting together — giving DeVere more opportunities for seduction.

But Diana is not the only one seduced. There turns out to be more involved in this game than just sex, even for so infamous a rake as the Devil DeVere.

Unfortunately for DeVere, just as he sees a chance at happiness, he’s forgotten that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Verdict: If you’ve been following this series as I have, get this book, and then immediately get Devil’s Match and settle in for a nice long reading binge. Trust me, you won’t want to stop reading at the end of The Devil You Know. The cliff the story hangs off of at that point is nail-biting for DeVere and Diana, even though it is the point where the other two books come in.

The Devil You Know is one of the cases where the misunderstanding between the hero and heroine is intentional and it works. DeVere is not trustworthy, particularly not at this point in his life. He is pretty much every bad thing that Diana thinks he is except financially insolvent (DeVere is the epitome of that old cliché about lucky at cards and unlucky in love).

The tragedy in The Devil You Know is that DeVere is starting to redeem himself, and he has to bring it all tumbling down in order to save Diana. Because he feels something he can’t even identify beyond possessiveness.


I gladly give The Devil You Know 4 1/2 quite delicious Stars.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Interview with Author Marie Treanor on Isolating Your Vampires

I’d like to extend a very special welcome to my guest, Marie Treanor! Today, August 28, is the publication date of her awesome new book, Serafina and Silent Vampire (check out my review for the details of the awesomeness). Congratulations, Marie!

And without further ado, let’s hear it from Marie…

Marlene: Please tell us a little bit about yourself! What do you do when you’re not writing?

Marie: Hello! Well, I’m Scottish; I live on the east coast of Scotland with my husband of more than twenty years and my three kids, and I write mostly paranormal romance. Hmm, there isn’t actually a lot of time when I’m not writing, but in the odd moments I like to read, watch films, tv, or just spend time with my family and friends. Oh and I like to travel when I can, see new places and people.

Marlene: Most of your books deal with some aspect of the paranormal. What draws you to the eerie side of romance?

Marie: I think it’s the elements of danger which work so well with romance, together with the fact that you can just follow where your imagination takes you, without paying too much attention to what’s rationally and physically possible. The challenge is making it believable to readers!

Marlene: In Serafina and the Silent Vampire, you’ve created a universe where all the vampires are supposed to be telepathic but otherwise non-speaking. It’s a fantastic twist on the usual vampire trope, but what inspired you to make your vampires silent?

Marie: I wanted them to be cut off from humanity and just plain different to humanity and this helped to isolate them, and yet provide them with a means of communication among themselves that wasn’t open to humans – or at least to most humans! And then I found it was so much fun to see how Blair got around the challenges of getting by in the human world, and I did enjoy the comic value of the scenes where he talked telepathically to Sera and she answered aloud in front of her companions.

Marlene: We’ve all heard the joke that sharks don’t bite lawyers out of professional courtesy, but what gave you the brilliant idea for blood-sucking bankers who really sucked blood?

Marie: 🙂 It just struck me that controlling the money would be best way to control the world in this day and age. And then, of course, bankers were coming in for a bit of a bad press round about the time I was thinking about and writing this story, so I ran with it.

Marlene: What’s your favorite scene from the book?

Marie: Oh dear, I don’t know! I had so much fun writing the whole thing that it’s hard to narrow down. I do like the opening scene where Sera’s so pissed off at Blair for supposedly muscling in on her scam; and I liked the scene where she met Phil for the first time. And just after the first sex scene, although I don’t really want to spoil the story by saying why 🙂

Marlene: Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

Marie: My parents. There were always loads of books in our house, and my parents were always reading.  At first it was self defence to read a book of my own, but I quickly became even more engrossed than they were. 🙂

Marlene: Who influenced your decision to become a writer?

Marie: I think that was largely just me, although I have to allow a friend of my husband’s some credit! I always wrote stories, ever since early childhood, and had a vague idea that one day I would become a professional writer. Of course real life, study and steady jobs got in the way for a while. And then one day while I was complaining (again) about a job I hated, my husband’s friend said dismissively, “Pig it out and write your novel in holidays and quiet periods.” Which, when he didn’t even know that I wrote at all, was pretty stunning advice! It made me sit up, and I began to follow it in a much more focused sort of way.

Marlene: What book do you recommend everyone should read and why?

Marie: Just one book? Yikes. Maybe Catch-22 by Joseph Heller? It’s so deep and thought-provoking and yet you can just read it and love it for the laughs alone 🙂

Marlene: Would you like to tell us a little bit about your upcoming projects? There are going to be more stories about Seraphina’s, aren’t there?  (The ending certainly left me wanting more…)

Marie: Well that’s good to hear – thank you! Yes, I’m planning at least two more books set in Serafina’s, the first of which I’m writing just now. Then I have the start of another new series, The Gifted, beginning in November with Smoke and Mirrors, all about a mysterious criminal with the dubious gift of fire-starting. And my other on-going series is Blood Hunters, a sequel series to the Awakened by Blood vampire romance trilogy. The first of those, Blood Guilt, came out earlier in the summer, and the second, Blood of Angels, should be released in January 2013.

Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?

Marie: Hmmm….

  1. Well, you can escape through my books to intense worlds of fantasy,  roller coasters of emotion and steamy romance!
  2. I like to think my characters are a little bit different, and they might make you laugh sometimes because I do like them to have a sense of humour, however black.
  3. And, er, I need the money 🙂

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

Marie: These days, providing I have coffee on tap, I’m a morning person. I used to be much more of a night owl but having kids seemed to change that. Now my teenage sons are the night owls and I’m tucked up in bed before eleven if I can get away with it!

Serafina and the Silent Vampire by Marie Treanor
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Serafina’s #1
Formats Available:
Purchasing Info: Goodreads | Author’s Website | Amazon
Book Blurb:

Silence has never been so sinful…

Welcome to Edinburgh’s unique psychic investigation agency, Serafina’s.

Serafina MacBride is psychic – but not strictly honest. While staging a hilarious vampire attack at a client’s party, Sera is stunned to encounter a real vampire – annoying, gorgeous and inaudible to everyone but her. When her client’s son is found dead with puncture wounds in his neck, she tracks the silent vampire to his lair.

But the amoral and seductive Blair is also on a mission – to find and kill a nest of young vampires who’ve invaded his territory. Soon Sera is drawn into the bizarre world of the undead, where danger lurks in the shadows along with forbidden sensual delights – and a murderous conspiracy to flood the world with financially astute vampires who talk.

Supported and hindered by Blair’s eccentric, undead friends, and by her own motley crew from Serafina’s, Sera and Blair uncover surprising truths about each other and about the mysterious Founder from whom all vampires are descended.

In the end, Sera draws on powers she never knew she had in a frantic fight to defeat the forces of evil and preserve the strange, complicated being she’s trying so hard not to love.

About the Author:

Marie Treanor lives in Scotland with her eccentric husband and three much-too-smart children. Having grown bored with city life, she resides these days in a picturesque village by the sea where she is lucky enough to enjoy herself avoiding housework and writing sensual stories of paranormal romance and fantasy.

Marie Treanor has published more than twenty ebooks with small presses, (Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Changeling Press and The Wild Rose Press), including a former Kindle bestseller, Killing JoeBlood on Silk: an Awakened by Blood novel, was her New York debut with NAL.

Blog: Marie Treanor’s Romantic Theme Party:


Review: Serafina and the Silent Vampire by Marie Treanor

A psychic who doesn’t believe in vampires! How delightfully unexpected. You would think that one person firmly resident on the eerie side of the fence would automatically give at least some credence to the possibility that there might be some truth to rumors about the other denizens of the night.

But not Serafina. And that’s just a part of what makes Marie Treanor’s Serafina and the Silent Vampire so delicious.

Serafina MacBride absolutely does speak with the dead, among other “tricks”. But her own spooky powers are the only ones she has any faith in. So she uses them. Sometimes for good, and sometimes for things decidedly not so good.

She knows her current client, Ferdy Bell, is hiding something from her. He says there’s a vampire stalking him. Sera believes in ghosts, because they’re a natural part of being. We live, we die, our spirit passes on. But vampires are unnatural, so they must be fake. Therefore, Ferdy must be having her on.

However, Ferdy is a wealthy banker. His money is no lie. And he wants protection. Serafina’s, the psychic investigations agency that Sera owns, is perfectly happy to provide it. And while Ferdy is hosting a big house party for all of his rich friends, Sera and her friends have a plan to scare him with a fake vampire attack, all in good fun.

Too bad for Sera that their fake attack is crashed by two very real vampires. One kills Ferdy’s son, Jason, and gets clean away. The other very nearly seduces Serafina just when the murder is taking place.

Serafina still doesn’t believe that the man she met in her client’s garden–the one she saw biting her friend’s neck!–is a vampire. Even though he only speaks to her in her head, and not with his vocal chords. She’s the only one who can hear him.

She doesn’t believe until she sees Blair in action. beating up the “bad” vampires, the ones who killed, and turned, Jason Bell.

Blair and Serafina are surprised to discover that they have a common cause–eradicating the nest of vampires that is taking over the heart of Edinburgh’s banking industry. Serafina wants them removed because their insidious plan is to control Edinburgh, and eventually a much larger territory, by pulling the strings on a vast financial empire. They’re turning humans in key financial positions into vampires.

Blair wants these new vampires out of his territory. Edinburgh is his domain, and, reminiscent of Highlander, there can only be one — at least without an invitation. Too many vampires in one place risks exposure.

But Blair is working with Serafina for another reason, a much more personal one. The greatest enemy of the immortal is boredom. Until Serafina careened into his unlife, Blair had felt nothing for a very long time. With Serafina around, he’s been angry, frustrated, horny, satisfied, curious, excited, fascinated, impatient, eager and every other emotion he hasn’t felt for centuries. But he’s never, ever been bored.

Now that he’s found a reason to live, there’s someone out to kill him.

Escape Rating A: I didn’t want this one to end. The case had to be over, but it’s wide open for the next book in the Serafina’s series, and I want to find out what happens next to these people. Not just where things go between Serafina and Blair, but also Serafina’s whole crew.

Serafina and Blair’s love story isn’t just steamy (although it certainly is that!) but you feel the push/pull of Seraphina very properly worrying whether this is a good idea and what possible future they might have, and whether a fantastic time right now is worth the inevitable heartbreak.

And there’s Sera’s posse, who are also terrific. I hope that future stories will see them getting their own happy-ever-afters.

Oh yeah. Making the vampires silent was a stroke of genius. Very, very cool!

Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, July 2012

The July 2012 Carina Press titles, at least when it comes to which ones got the most reviews, could definitely be said to owe something to the “Fifty Shades” effect.

The hottest books — in the erotic sense — were also definitely the hottest titles in the reviewing numbers.

Fifty shades of tie-ins!  Although the popularity of the book opened doors for more books that show a kinkier side of sex, it also spawned products in areas that the author couldn’t possibly have dreamed of. This one from Etsy may be the furthest after “Laters, baby” as later can get.

I’d much rather (make that much, much rather) get back to the Carina books.

First, I’d like to give a shout-out to Natasha Hoar’s urban fantasy title, The Ravenous Dead, which was one of the featured for Carina last month. Its date of publication seems to have changed, so now it’s on this month’s list. But I can’t feature it again, dagnabbit! Because it absolutely earned a featured slot this month, too. But each book only gets one bite at the apple, and The Ravenous Dead have already bitten.

So who are this month’s featured titles for Carina? I’m so glad you asked.

The number one featured title was so far out in first place that the sheer quantity of reviews is worth mentioning. The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden attracted over 40 reviews, all good or better. Those are pretty big numbers for an ebook-only title. What was it about The Theory of Attraction? Yes, it’s a BDSM story like Fifty Shades, with the virtue that it’s a heck of a lot shorter. Ms. Dryden’s story is also a geek love story, with two socially awkward scientists as the hero and heroine. Lots of readers identified with the couple and their geeky social circle. The geek dom made for a different twist on the trope: the hero was intelligent but not super-rich. RT Book Reviews described it as “erotic romance done right.”

In the second position we have another erotic romance, and another boundary-stretching and review-grabbing title as well. Sharing Hailey by Samantha Ann King pushed at the erotic romance envelope in a different direction. Hailey has always had a crush on her two best friends, Mark and Tony. But Mark and Tony are best buds, and don’t want to mess up their friendship by forcing Hailey to choose between them. Solution: the three of them get together! It’s perfect until Hailey’s abusive ex returns and tries to spoil everything. This story has 29 reviewers behind it, so far, all of them generally thinking it was pretty good or better. Again, 29 reviewers is a lot of positive feedback. This one looks worth checking out.

It was much more difficult to decide on the third spot. Two books were very close. But by a whisker, the featured slot goes to Rogue’s Pawn by Jeffe Kennedy. Rogue’s Pawn is the first book in her Covenant of Thorns series, and it’s a contemporary fantasy/urban fantasy with a touch of fantasy romance. Gwynn the bored academic in 21st century America crosses over to Fae at Devil’s Tower Wyoming and becomes a powerful but totally untrained sorceress–one who nearly gets killed as a danger to herself and others in her first day on the other side. Everyone wants a piece of her, and everyone wants her to be their pawn. Only one fae, a trickster named Rogue, might possibly have some of Gwynn’s better interests at heart. If Rogue has a heart. This is one twisted, dark and decadent fantasy world.

If I were giving honorable mentions, and I can, one would go to Karen Erickson this month for A Scandalous Affair.

Ebook Review Central will be back in two weeks (no issue next week because of the Labor Day Holiday!) with Dreamspinner Press.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 8-26-12

It’s the unofficial last gasp of summer, because next Monday is Labor Day. School is already in session so many places.

In Atlanta, next weekend in Dragon*Con. In Chicago, next weekend is Worldcon. Science fiction has not moved nearly fast enough. I really need either a TARDIS, or a transporter.

And if that weren’t enough, the Decatur Book Festival is going on at the exact same time. A street festival full of books! Right here in the Atlanta burbs. It was pretty darn awesome last year. We might nip out of Dragon*Con for a bit…maybe…it’s possible.

But there’s a whole week, a whole week, between now and that wonderful, marvelous 3-day Labor Day weekend. What’s coming up on the bookish front at Reading Reality?

Monday, Ebook Review Central, of course. Carina Press is up this week, and they had some fantastic titles in this batch. One book, one single book, attracted (ahem) over 40 reviews. Maybe it’s one you’ll want to read? Check in and see!

On Tuesday Marie Treanor will be stopping by to talk about her latest book, Serafina and the Silent Vampire. This is a terrific start to her new urban fantasy series, Serafina’s, about the psychic and occasional con artist, Serafina, who runs into just a bit more than she bargained for in the vampire Blair.

Thursday I’ll be interviewing Susan Wiggs about the latest book in her Lakeshore Chronicles series, Return to Willow Lake. I’ll also be reviewing this new contemporary romance, which is due out this week.

And last but not least, as we’re all waiting for the weekend…on Saturday, September 1…Reading Reality will be part of the Romance at Random Labor Day Blog Hop!

Looking ahead to after Labor Day (when it will unofficially be Fall but will still be hot in Atlanta)…I have a book I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while on my calendar.

If you’re pining for the next season of Sherlock, and you want to try a different version of Holmes, might I suggest Laurie R. King? Her interpretation starts with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. The latest book in her Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series, Garment of Shadows, will be published on September 4. I’ve had a review copy for a while, but I’ve been caught in the “so many books, so little time conundrum”.

I’ll make time.

What are you up to this week? And do you have any special bookish plans for the long Labor Day weekend?