Dual Review: Entangled – a spooky and healthy anthology

Format read: ebook
Release Date: 7 September 2011
Number of pages: 434 pages
Publisher: Authors4theCure
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Only $2.99 at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks, SmashwordsRead an excerpt


Ghosts, vampires, demons, and more! Entangled includes ten suspense-filled paranormal short stories from authors Cynthia Eden, Jennifer Estep, Edie Ramer, Lori Brighton, Michelle Diener, Misty Evans, Nancy Haddock, Liz Kreger, Dale Mayer, and Michelle Miles, plus a Seven Deadly Sins novella by Allison Brennan.

Stacia Kane contributed the foreword. Formatting and cover art were also donated to the project by Lori Devoti and Laura Morrigan.

All proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Stories include:

HALLOWEEN FROST by USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep (author of the Mythos Academy, Elemental Assassin, and Bigtime series) — It’s Halloween at Mythos Academy, but Gwen Frost and her friends are in for more tricks than treats when they run into a mythological monster intent on killing them.

THE FAT CAT by Edie Ramer (author of Cattitude, Galaxy Girls) — In a battle for the souls of seven women, a wizard has the god of war on his side; all the witch has is a fat, black cat.

MEDIUM RARE by Nancy Haddock (author of the Oldest City Vampire trilogy) —What’s spooking the spirits of St. Augustine? As the witching hour of Halloween approaches, ghost seer Colleen Cotton must team with a by-the-book paranormal investigator to locate the one ghost who can save the city’s specters. If she fails, her own great grandfather’s spirit may be lost forever.

SWEET DEMON by Misty Evans (author of the Witches Anonymous series) —When Chicago’s vampire king insists Kali Sweet join his empire, the vengeance demon must rely on her ex – the half-human, half-chaos demon who left her at the altar three hundred years ago – in order to escape the vamp’s clutches.

SIAN’S SOLUTION by Dale Meyer (author of the Psychic Visions series) — When a vampire discovers the human man she loves has been captured and hung in a blood farm, she goes against her own kind and risks everything to save him.

A BIT OF BITE by Cynthia Eden (author of NEVER CRY WOLF and ANGEL OF DARKNESS) — A killer is stalking the streets of Crossroads, Mississippi, and it’s up to Sheriff Ava Dushaine to stop him. But when suspicion falls on werewolf alpha Julian Kasey—Ava’s ex-lover and the man who still haunts her dreams—Ava knows that she’ll either have to prove his innocence…or watch the whole town go up in flames.

SINFULLY SWEET by Michelle Miles (author of the Coffee House series) — When Chloe bakes a little magic into her pastries, she attracts the attention of Edward, the sexy half-demon, half-witch, who’s come to warn her those who murdered her sister are now after her.

A NIGHT OF FOREVER by Lori Brighton (author of A Night of Secrets and To Seduce an Earl) — Who is Aidan Callaghan? Mary Ellen James is intent on uncovering the truth about the mysterious man, but as she soon finds out, some things are best left buried in the past.

FEEL THE MAGIC by Liz Kreger (author of the Part of Tomorrow series) — Jenna Carmichael’s magical attempt to rectify Jessica Manfield’s birth identity takes an unexpected turn when the past comes back to haunt her.

BREAKING OUT by Michelle Diener (author of the Tudor-set historical suspense novel In A Treacherous Court) — Imprisoned in a secret facility, powerful telekinetic Kelli Barrack and two other ‘special’ inmates grab a chance to escape, only to confront their worst nightmares on the outside.

GHOSTLY JUSTICE, an all-new Seven Deadly Sins novella by New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan (author of the Seven Deadly Sins series) — Demon hunters Moira O’Donnell and Rafe Cooper are dragged into the dangerous world of nocturnal predators to find “Ghostly Justice” for a virgin sacrificed to an ancient blood demon.

Our Thoughts:

Stella: When I asked for Halloween read recommendations Marlene was quick to name the Entangled anthology,  and when we started discussing it we thought why not make a special Halloween related dual review of it? Since it has more than 10 stories we thought reviewing the whole anthology would be way too long, so we decided for each of us to pick 2 stories and give you our thoughts on them.

Stella: I think it isn’t a big surprise to those who know me (and have heard my constant praise of Jennifer Estep’s series ;-)) that the story I was most excited about was Halloween Frost by Jennifer Estep, which is considered Book #1.5 in her Mythos Academy series, which I love! Truth be told I have already read this novella last year when the Entangled anthology was released but I enjoyed it so much I didn’t mind in the least having to re-read it for this review. And I’m happy to say that it was just as much fun as it was the first time around!

Halloween Frost takes place after the first book in Jennifer Estep’s YA urban fantasy series, Touch of Frost: Gwen our heroine is already used to life at Mythos Academy and she has made friends with Daphne, a cute and stylish Valkyrie and is crushing big time on Logan a strong and sexy Spartan. Those who haven’t read the first book won’t feel lost because Jennifer Estep includes enough background history references and explanations to give you an idea on who’s who (which could seem a bit repetitive for already established fans of the series).

This short novella tells the story of how Gwen and her friends spent Halloween at Mythos Academy: everyone, teachers and students alike dressed up (except Gwen), the whole town around the school was decorated in full spookiness and the kids went around collecting not just mouthwatering-ly delicious treats but also jewellery and armour!

Can I just say how much I LOVE Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series? It is fun, exciting and exceptionally thrilling! It has everything: nail-biting action and fast paced fight scenes, a sexy heartthrob hero and a quirky and so lovable heroine. Halloween Frost packed even more spookiness and sinister athmosphere than the usual stories in the series due to the festive setting. Thanks to Jennifer Estep’s vivid and colourful descriptions of Mythos Academy I can easily picture the gothic gargoyles and stone sphinxes guarding the gates.

Carved jack-o‘lanterns lined all the cobblestone streets, the lit candles inside them flickering and making their grins seem particularly sinister in the darkening shadows. Thick, silvery webs complete with fat, rubber spiders swooped from one doorway to the next, while ghosts, ghouls, and other classic monsters could be seen in the storefront windows, arms outstretched like they wanted to break through the glass and grab the students strolling by.

Another aspect I love about Jennifer Estep’s books is that she never fails to mention delicious treats that make my mouth water, and being a hobby baker I appreciate that 😀

[…] went from shop to shop, loading up our pumpkins with everything from gourmet pretzels to delicious brownies to candy apples bigger than my fist. I had a serious sweet tooth and quickly filled up my pumpkin, even though we hadn‘t gone through half the stores yet. I popped a piece of dark chocolate fudge topped with vanilla-raspberry syrup into my mouth and sighed as the rich flavors exploded on my tongue. Yum.

Verdict: Halloween Frost is a great addition to the Mythos Academy series and the perfect Halloween read. Let me just say that Gwen and her friends get some first hand spooky action this Halloween 😉 Read Halloween Frost while munching on some yummy candies!

I give Halloween Frost 4.5 spooky stars!


Marlene: The thing about story/novella collections is that there are usually a couple of “meh” stories in the bunch. So when Stella and I decided we would each pick two (and only two) stories to feature, it seemed like a brilliant solution. Not so! This collection doesn’t have a “meh” story in the bunch.

My first pick was always going to be Edie Raymer’s The Fat Cat. This starts out as a kitty adoption tale. A witch goes into her local shelter to adopt a kitten. Bad move, or so it seems. Instead of leaving with an adorable little kitten, she leaves with a virtually unadoptable fat black tomcat, who is past middle-age into the bargain. Samson not only hears her thoughts, he can speak to her mind. Mostly to ask for food. And quote Casablanca.

Samson becomes her best friend. He’s way better company than her ex. But kitty old age is catching up way too fast, and Tory doesn’t want to lose him, so she tries a spell. One that will make Samson young and virile again, instead of old and very farty. (Yes, I meant farty. Also arthritic) She tries her spell the night before Halloween. It doesn’t seem to work and Tory is heartbroken

On Halloween she confronts the evil warlock who has captured the body, and imprisoned the soul, of her younger sister, along with several other women. He is powerful, and very, very smug. Also a handsome bastard. The only protection that Tory has is poor Samson, still in the body of an old cat. Guess what happens?

Verdict: This story has so many fun elements. The transformation of both the cat and the warlock. The redemption of the young women. Saving the old cat and discovering that he’s her best friend. The lovely (well sometimes lovely) idea of knowing what our pets think. All worked into a terrific story of friendship, redemption, witchcraft and Halloween. With a happy ending!

I give The Fat Cat 5 claw-tipped stars!


Stella: The second story I selected was A Bit of Bite by Cynthia Eden. I have followed Cynthia Eden’s blog and saw her new releases and was always curious and intrigued to read them for some time now, so now I thought the time has finally come for me to discover her writing through this novella of hers, and I enjoyed it a lot!

A Bit of Bite is a sexy and thrilling parabormal romance with a seriously possessive and protective alpha werewolf (yum!) and a kickass detective heroine.

A twig snapped a few feet away from her. Ava didn‘t jump and spin toward the sound, but her right hand did rise slowly to curl around the butt of her gun. The problem with all the supernaturals was that they could just move too fast—
“Easy.” His deep, dark voice washed over her and, just like that, werewolf alpha Julian Kasey stood in front of her. The light, woodsy scent that marked his kind clung to him as he towered over her.

Mmm, can you seriously tell me you just didn’t shiver while reading that one word sentence of his?

The chemistry and passion between these two is sizzling and scorching, the perfect story to make you tingle with a bit of thrill!

No one was ever gonna take Ava Dushaine from him. No one. His mouth crashed down onto hers. He should have been easier. Should have used some gentleness, but werewolves didn‘t exactly know much about tenderness. The only things he knew…she‘d taught him. Her lips were parted, and his tongue pushed inside her mouth. He tasted her, and her kiss was better than he remembered. No dream to haunt him, she was real now.

The world-building was interesting and layered, the supernatural sections and societal hierarchy, fractions were different than usual. A Bit of Bite made me suspect there is a series where Cynthia Eden gives more depth to it, and I’ll definitely look for it because I very much enjoyed her in-depth and detailed writing style.

Verdict: A Bit of Bite was a great steamy and exciting read. If it were a bit longer, a bit more detailed it could have been a five star story. As it is, it was a delicious novella and I’ll have to check out Cynthia Eden’s full length stories now that I have gotten a small taste of her writing. A Bit of Bite is a pulsing romance with paranormal setting and a big and delicious alpha hero!

I give A Bit of Bite 4 sexy stars!


Marlene: I also loved Cynthia Eden’s A Bit of Bite, but I let Stella have that one. I was feeling generous. The second story I want to highlight is Lori Brighton’s A Night of Forever. The story takes place in the same world as her novel A Night of Secrets, but I’ll confess that I didn’t know that when I read it and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment one little bit. Of course, now that I do know, A Night of Secretsis going on my TBR list. 

But about A Night of Forever…it starts out as if it were a typical Regency, or close enough, even though it’s set in a later period. Mary Ellen plans to marry someone rich and titled, not because she’s necessarily that mercenary, but because she craves the security that money and status can bring. However, she finds herself fascinated by a man who appears to have neither. Aidan Callaghan seems to be merely her brother-in-law’s houseguest. He is a complete enigma, quiet and withdrawn for the most part, but always watching her. He fascinates her. And she fascinates him.

What Mary Ellen doesn’t know is that her brother-in-law is a vampire. And so is his friend Aidan, who is trying his damndest not to use the powers of fascination and enthrallment that he has at his command. Because he could simply make Mary Ellen come to him, but then it wouldn’t be real. He wants the contented life that his friend Grayson has found, a life, and love with a woman who knows what he is and loves him anyway.

So he watches Mary Ellen from the shadows, and knows that she is as sincerely interested in him as he is in her. But at the Halloween revels on Gray’s estate, Mary Ellen leaves the safety of the house and is captured by thugs. When he comes to her rescue, Aidan is captured as well. In order to escape, he has to reveal what he is to save them. Will his willingness to fight for her provide Mary Ellen with a better kind of security than the money and status she said she wanted?

Verdict: This one had the kind of shivery gothic creepiness that all the best Halloween stories do. At first, you’re not sure where the danger is going to come from, and then you’re not sure if Mary Ellen will choose safety over love. A Night of Forever tells a terrific tale of the slow build, both to knowledge and to love.

I give A Night of Forever 4.5 fanged stars.


Stella: And yes, as you can see despite us vowing to review only 2 stories (I even asked Marlene to prevent me from becoming greedy and giving in to temptation), when I turned the last page of A Bit of Bite there were the first few lines of Michelle Miles’ story and being the baking fan that I am I couldn’t stop myself from reading it. See for yourself and tell me if you could have resisted it:

At four in the morning, Chloe O‘Shea unlocked the door to Sugar Mamma‘s Bakery and flipped on the interior lights. She turned on the ovens, gathered her ingredients and started baking for the day. With a giant yawn that nearly split her head in two, she started her scones, a customer favorite. Then the muffins—blueberry, banana nut, poppy seed, bran. Once she had the morning cravings in the glass case ready to go, she started on the afternoon favorites. Cupcakes, cookies, mini-tarts and other delectable goodies.

So there you go, here is my bonus review 😉

To be honest I haven’t even heard of Michelle Miles before, so this novella was a complete blank canvas for me, I had no expectations at all, and yet she managed to blow me away.

Our heroine Chloe is a witch on the run, she has been hiding in the human world and spending her days as a baker, but she can’t help herself from pouring some of her magic into her creations:

Perhaps it was a mistake putting her small bits of magic into her cupcakes, her cookies, her scones and her muffins. Her customers loved her baked goods and why not? She poured Happiness into every batch. And lust into her red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing.

and so the bad guys she has been hiding from get a flare of where she is. Her savior is Edward a sex on stick mysterious man Chloe can’t help but lust after (and trust me the reader won’t be able to help herself either!). Together they try to combat the evil forces and stay alive.

Verdict: Sinfully Sweet was a deliciously steamy story with great world-building, fantastic writing style, a likable heroine and a hunk of a hero. Now that I’ve discovered Michelle Miles’ writing first hand I’ll go and hunt down her other novels, because I just want more delicious stories!

I give Sinfully Sweet 4.5 delectable 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.

Review: The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux

Format read:ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: Trade paperback, ebook
Genre: Horror, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Date Released: October 15, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Dr. Wyatt Case is never happier than when he’s walking the halls of his history museum. Playing wingman for his best friend at Gravedigger’s Tavern throws him way out of his comfort zone, but not as much as the eccentric man behind the bar, Ash Lucroix.

Ash is everything Wyatt doesn’t understand: exuberant, quirky, and elbow deep in a Gaslight lifestyle that weaves history into everyday life. He coordinates his suspenders with his tongue rings. Within hours, Wyatt and Ash are hooked.

But strange things are afoot at Gravedigger’s, and after a knock to the head, Ash starts seeing things that can’t be explained by old appliances or faulty wiring. Soon everyone at Gravedigger’s is wondering if they’re seeing ghosts, or just going crazy. The answer to that question could end more than just Wyatt and Ash’s fragile relationship—it might also end their lives.

The Gravedigger’s Brawl is a massive Halloween bash that takes place in Gravedigger’s Tavern. Where is that, you might ask? The historic district in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

So we have an eerily named bar in a historic preservation district on the spookiest night of the year. And did I mention that everyone who works in the bar has started seeing ghosts? That’s right, ghosts. Poltergeists aren’t just thumping the walls, they have started screwing with the electrical wiring. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Gravedigger’s Tavern doesn’t just have a weird name, it has some bad stuff in its history. It might be linked to the LaLaurie family in antebellum New Orleans. They were so evil, even their fellow slaveholders turned them in for their human experiments.

Richmond had its own version of the LaLauries, the Dubois family. It looks like they owned the land that Gravedigger’s sits on. One of the Dubois’ might still haunt the place, along with all of his victims.

The Gravedigger’s Brawl is a terrific, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, as in terrifying, ghost story. Spirits do haunt Gravedigger’s, and one man, Ash Lucroix, acquires the ability to see them, after a head injury.

Unfortunately for Ash, he’s not paranoid. One of them really is out to get him.

So is Wyatt Case, but that’s in a good way. The director of the historical society, although he might have been out of the closet for a long time, has an incredibly difficult time getting out of his shell. His academic reserve is a different problem all-together.

Opposites do attract. The academic introvert and the flair-expert, bartending extrovert with the gaslight aesthetic do take hesitant steps toward a relationship.

Meanwhile there are the ghosts. As more mysterious thumps and sparks manifest in the tavern, Wyatt starts researching the history of Gravedigger’s. (He’s a historian, it’s what he does). He finds paydirt. Or gravedirt. Amidst the urban legends, ghost tours and fanciful tales, he finds the Dubois family, and their misbegotten scion Vincent.

Vincent conducted human experiments on the land that is now Gravedigger’s. And every couple of decades since Vincent’s death, someone connected with that property has died, on the premises, of suicide. All under very mysterious circumstances.

And they’ve all looked very much like Ash Lucroix. So did Vincent Dubois. And it’s starting to seem a lot like Ash is next. Unless the bar burns down first.

Escape Rating A-: And a very chilling story this one is. The chills and thrills in this story come from the ghosts. The romance, although it exists, takes a back-seat to the ghost story.

I found the secondary story about saving Wyatt’s job at the Museum, and museum politics in general, to be hilarious and all-too-familiar. All non-profit institutions have some similarities. Wyatt’s co-worker Nash, especially his love of true-but-obscure facts, is laugh-out-loud funny.

This was a perfect Halloween read. It’s chilling and scary and terrifying. There are ghosts, and a fire, and a fight in the museum (in costume!). And in the end, what’s important gets saved.

***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.

Guest Post: Halloween and Paranormal Romance by Lisa Kessler + Giveaway

My guest on Reading Reality today is Lisa Kessler, the author of the haunting paranormal romance Night Series. Lisa’s latest entry in that series, the in-between novella Night Thief, just came out and it’s terrific (review here) but the first book Night Walker, that one is the type that absolutely sweeps you away (see review for more details).

But since tomorrow is Halloween, Lisa decided to take a few minutes to talk about the link between paranormal romance and the holiday that celebrates the paranormal.

Hi Everyone –

Thanks so much to Marlene for the blog spot!

As a paranormal romance author, I always feel like the Halloween season is “my” time of year. The days get shorter, the nights get cooler, and dry leaves crunch under your feet.  Shadows seem longer and darker, and anything could be hiding, watching.  This is the time of year that the veil between the living and the dead thins until we can almost see into the next world.

Fun stuff! 🙂

So it seems fitting that my publishing journey started in October with a palm reader, right?

I happened during my first trip to New Orleans. I’d been writing with some online girlfriends every night for years, but it hadn’t crossed my mind to try to get published. After my reading the psychic stopped me at the door and asked, “Are you a writer?”

I frowned and shook my head. “No.  Well I write for fun, but I’m not a real writer.”

She smiled and said these fateful words… “You’re going to be a famous writer someday.”

I’m still not famous, but since that night, I’ve published many short stories, two books in my Night Series with two more on the way, and I have an agent shopping a second series!  Who knew?

I came home from that New Orleans trip with my head spinning wondering if I really could write a novel, and if so, what would I write?

I decided to create my own immortals, Night Walkers.  They’re vampire-like shape shifters that originated from the Mayans instead of Europe. In my new release, Night Thief, you’re introduced to one of the four original Night Walkers, born immortal.

Since Night Thief takes place in Paris, I had a blast expanding the Night Walker world, showing more differences between Night Walkers and the European vampires…  And I hope that readers will enjoy spending time with Kane.


After the fall of the Mayan civilization, Kane, an immortal Night Walker, has taken refuge in France for over 800 years. The modern world holds little interest for him until the night he meets the Golden Thief and is robbed of much more than his pocket watch.

Marguerite Rousseau is living a double life. By day she is the assistant to an eccentric French artist, Antoine Berjon, and by night she dons elegant evening gowns to woo French dignitaries before lifting their wallets.

Sparks ignite when Kane captures the thief, but Marguerite harbors a dark secret that could ruin them both.

So with Halloween so close, I’d love to hear if you’ve ever had an experience during this time of year that has stuck with you or changed your life…

Thanks again to Marlene for having me back on the blog!


Don’t be a stranger…

Twitter | Facebook | Lisa’s Blog | Lisa’s Lair website

And thank you, Lisa, for coming back! (I interviewed Lisa in May, 2012 after Night Walker was re-released in paperback.)

~~~~~~Tourwide Giveaway~~~~~~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Night Thief by Lisa Kessler

Format read:ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available:ebook
Genre:Paranormal Romance
Series:Night #1.5
Length: 109 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date Released: September 28, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

After the fall of the Mayan civilization, Kane, an immortal Night Walker, has taken refuge in France for over 800 years. The modern world holds little interest for him until the night he meets the Golden Thief and is robbed of much more than his pocket watch.

Marguerite Rousseau is living a double life. By day she is the assistant to an eccentric French artist, Antoine Berjon, and by night she dons elegant evening gowns to woo French dignitaries before lifting their wallets.

Sparks ignite when Kane captures the thief, but Marguerite harbors a dark secret that could ruin them both.

Night Thief is both a prequel and a sequel to Lisa Kessler’s Night Walker, the first published book in her Night series. I’ll say up front that I loved Night Walker (review here), and I read Night Thief because I was eager to learn more of her mysterious creatures who are, but are not quite, vampires.

Night Thief takes place earlier in history, Paris in the 1840s instead of San Diego California in the present, but we read it after Night Walker, so we know the Night Walkers. Also, the hero of Night Walker was made, while the hero of Night Thief was born. Kane has a much longer history.

But the love story doesn’t.

The greatest enemy of the immortal isn’t a weapon, it seems to be boredom. Or ennui. Kane is getting bored. In Paris!

Napoleon has just died and Kane is watching the funeral procession when he spots Marguerite. Not for the first time. They’ve been stalking each other. She wants to rob him, and he wants to catch her. Not because he cares about her thefts, but because the thief known as the Le Voleur D’or shakes him out of his doldrums.

Marguerite is more than just a pretty face. She’s even more than just a pretty thief. She already knows that the world holds more terrors than even the recent Revolution could have imagined. And that not all those terrors are human. Or at least, not human any longer.

Kane sees a spirited woman who has been harmed, and wants to protect her. Needs to protect her. His spirit cries out that he must.

Marguerite knows that any man who does not appear between the hours of sunrise and sunset is something otherworldly. Her experience of such is that he must be a monster, just like her master. She has no experience of the otherworld that is not monstrous.

It is only when Kane trusts her enough to let her see what he really is, that she discovers that not all who hunt the night are evil. Some protect. This one wants to protect her. At all costs.

Even against the vampire who once saved her.

Escape Rating B+: Marguerite’s dilemma is what catches the reader. She knows that there are things out there, she lives with one. He abuses her every night. Her master is a vampire. She steals in order to get enough money to escape him. Not just for herself, but also for her cousin. The ocean might be enough distance. She doesn’t know the bastard is toying with her.

Kane is her rescue, but only if she can believe in him. The worst part, for Marguerite, is that Antoine, the vampire, used to be her rescuer. Her father beat her, and Antoine got her out. But that was before he went vampire, of course. Now he’s the bad guy, and she needs another white knight. Maybe that should be a red knight. She’s aware that being rescued isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, that rescuers can become victimizers in their turn. Rescuing herself was a better idea, if she could have pulled it off.

In some ways, Night Thief doesn’t have the depth that Night Walker did. Calisto loved his love for two centuries, he just had to wait for her to be reincarnated. Kane has been around for much, much longer, but his history, stretching back to the Mayan Empire is only hinted at. I’d like to know more about how the Night Walkers came to be, and came to be scattered to the four winds. There’s a tragic story in their background, and I want to read it.

Guess I’ll have to wait for Night Demon to learn more. Darn.

***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.

Cover Reveal: Mystically Bound by Stacey Kennedy

Formats available: ebook
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Series: Frostbite #3
Date Released: Coming Soon!
Purchasing Info:Author’s Website, Goodreads

Tess Jennings’ life is in chaos. Not only has her ghost lover, Kipp McGowen, crossed into the Netherworld, but she’s the newest member of a secret society. And they want her to start work immediately. Upon arriving in White Castle, Louisiana, she is presented with an offer she cannot refuse.

The Grand Master has been murdered and Tess must solve the crime by locating his ghost. The reward—a magical spell to save Kipp. But as Tess dives deeper into the case, the more danger surrounds her. Not everyone wants the murder solved, and she is caught in the crossfire.

Soon, Tess finds herself knee-deep in a hunt for a spell, a race to locate a killer, and a journey to the beyond. Will Kipp finally take a living breath, or will Tess take her last?

This is the new cover for Mystically Bound, the third book in Stacey Kennedy’s Frostbite series. So I guess you could say this is the Cover Re-Reveal.

Stacey says that the book will be out this Fall. It can’t come soon enough for this reader! Demonically Tempted ended on an absolutely awful cliffhanger.

Write faster, Stacey!

***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.

Ebook Review Central, Multi-publisher, August 2012

Welcome to the Ebook Review Central multi-publisher wrap-up post for the titles published in August 2012. This week’s edition covers the output from Amber Quill Press, Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver and Riptide for the month of August. Red Sage didn’t publish anything new this month.

This is also my multi-conundrum post. Out of six possible publishers, not all of whom have output in any given month, there are entirely too many months, like this one, where Riptide publishes three titles and absolutely sweeps the featured titles. No other publisher has titles that received more than four reviews, and there were way too many ones and zeroes, all over.

Why am I bringing this up right now? I’m moving to Seattle in November, and starting a full-time job in early December. Some things will have to re-arranged. I will continue Ebook Review Central, but for publishers where there are regularly no reviews, or very few reviews, to report, I’m going to have to make some decisions about priorities.

Multiple reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, even when they exist, do not count on Ebook Review Central. Why? Because many reviewers cross-post their reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. When we receive review copies from publishers, the publishers generally make that request specifically.

All of this week’s featured titles were from Riptide. While I would have liked to have spread the featured titles out a bit, Riptide absolutely ran so far ahead of the pack, it wasn’t remotely possible. And good on them and their publicity department/review coordinators as well as the authors for getting their books out there.

Featured title number one is Anne Tenino’s Love, Hypothetically. I’ll say up front that the reviews weren’t universally good, but there were simply a ton of them. When this many people are talking (and writing), the book is worth looking at just to get in on the conversation! Love, Hypothetically is the sequel to Frat Boy and Toppy, and is a story of reunited lovers. Paul and Trevor were high school boyfriends who veered way off track. Trevor chose a major league baseball career instead of coming out, but threw Paul pretty much under the bus on his way. Now the big career is over and Trevor is back in town and he wants a second chance with his first love. See Under the Covers for the wow review and Avon Romance for the meh vote.

Almost all of the 16 reviews for the number two feature were raves. I’m talking about Aleksandr Voinov’s look back at two German flyers during World War II, Skybound. Even though this is a time and/or a side that many people avoid like the plague (as my fellow Book Lover Caro put it) every one who read this one fell in love with the characters and saw it as a beautiful story of love and courage, set in dark and desperate times.

Coming in at number three was the book I expected to be number one, which says something about the strength of the competition this week. Anything that could beat out the latest entry in the Cut & Run series has to have been pretty damn good. Because the number three title for this week is Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux, the 6th book in the Cut & Run series. Everyone who reviewed this one absolutely loved it, but that’s not a surprise. By six books in, everyone reviewing is deeply invested in the series. The series started as a mystery/suspense series about two FBI agents, Ty Grady and Zane Garrett, who have absolutely opposite working styles and one hell of a lot of sexual tension. During a significant part of the series, it’s a question whether they’re going to fall into bed or get each other killed, or both. The series is meant to be read in order, starting with Cut & Run, and highly recommended by pretty much everyone who has ever reviewed it.

We’ll be back! Next week! Carina Press, September 2012. The Frankenstorm will not bring me down.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 10-28-12

Welcome to the first of a continuing series of very crazy Sunday Posts at Reading Reality. Why are things crazy, you might ask?

We’re moving again. This time from the Atlanta, Georgia suburbs to Seattle, Washington. I am starting an absolutely wonderful position at the Seattle Public Library in early December. However, and I say this for the first time, but probably not the last, anything posted on Reading Reality should be considered to be my words alone, and never as any official position of the library where I work. (Or any library where I ever worked, for that matter).

Moving right along (no pun intended this time) what happened at Reading Reality last week?

We have winners to announce! Erin won the Blue Nebula giveaway from Diane Dooley. Lacey T. won the copy of Lori Foster’s Run the Risk. And the one everyone’s been waiting for, Jeanette Jackson won the $15 Amazon Gift Card in the Wicked Romances Blog Hop. Congratulations, everyone!

Now, what about this past week’s posts (including a couple of giveaways there’s still time to get in on)?

Naughty & Nice Blog Hop (one more day to enter!)
Ebook Review Central Featured Titles from Samhain Publishing for August 2012: #1 Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett, #2 Seven Sexy Sins by Serenity Woods, #3 Inside Bet by Katie Porter
A Review: Because of You by Jessica Scott
A- Review: Until There Was You by Jessica Scott
Interview with Jessica Scott + Giveaway
Interview with Nikki Logan + Giveaway
B+ Review: The Moonstone and Miss Jones by Jillian Stone + Giveaway
B Review: Wild Encounter by Nikki Logan
Stacking the Shelves

But this is Sunday, which means we have another week starting tomorrow. Unless you’re about to be hit with the Frankenstorm barreling towards the east coast of the U.S. Those folks are probably battening down the hatches.

Atlanta is inland, so all I have is a cold snap, boxes to pack, and a blog to write. Let’s take a look!

Monday’s Ebook Review Central for this week is the Hexapost wrap up for August 2012. It will cover Amber Quill, Astraea, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver, Red Sage and Riptide. Lots of publishers, but not a ton of books (thank goodness!)

Tuesday’s review will be Lisa Kessler’s Night Thief. This is a novella in her Night series, after Night Walker, which had an absolutely marvelous blend of gothic mystery, romance, and the paranormal (review here) along with a fascinating glimpse into early California history. I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes.

Thursday my guest will be one of my favorite steampunk authors, Cindy Spencer Pape, to talk about the latest entry in her Gaslight Chronicles series, Moonlight & Mechanicals. I can’t wait to see Cindy’s answers to the interview questions, I really want to know if she’s going to return to her Urban Arcana series (another favorite). But the Gaslight Chronicles have been such fun–they mix steampunk with the Knights of the Round Table!

Looking ahead (I always look a little ahead, it keeps the surprises to a minimum) there are some features to look forward to the week of November 5, too.

Samantha Kane will be here to talk about her new historical romance, The Devil’s Thief. Going from the past to the future, Aubrie Dionne will also stop by to talk science fiction romance and the conclusion of hew New Dawn series with Haven 6.

And rounding out the week will be the beginning of the Autumn’s Harvest Blog Hop.

As they say, never a dull moment. What about you?


Stacking the Shelves (21)

I look at the length of this list and thank whoever the patron deity of booklovers might be that these are almost all ebooks. (Anything not stated otherwise is a book in the key of e.)

Even though this is two weeks worth of book-stacking, I went a bit overboard. Again. But I think that swimming in a sea of books is just so much fun!

What about you?

For Review:
All He Ever Desired (Kowalskis #5) by Shannon Stacey
Bared to You (Crossfire #1) by Sylvia Day (print)
Break Out (Blood Hunter #1) by Nina Croft (revised and expanded edition)
Broken Promise (Promise Me #2) by Tara Fox Hall
Double Time (Sinners on Tour #3) by Olivia Cunning
Down for the Count (Dare Me #1) by Christine Bell (review)
Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham
The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux
Hot Ticket (Sinners on Tour #4) by Olivia Cunning
The Intercept by Dick Wolf (print ARC)
Moonshifted (Edie Spence #2) by Cassie Alexander
The Mysterious Madam Morpho (Blud #1.5) by Delilah S. Dawson
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover: The Second Rule of Scoundrels by Sarah MacLean
Prince of Power (Chronicles of Yavn #2) by Elisabeth Staab
Promise Me (Promise Me #1) by Tara Fox Hall
Reflected in You (Crossfire #2) by Sylvia Day (print)
The Secret Life of Lady Lucinda (Summersby #3) by Sophie Barnes
Semper Fidelis (Gaius Petreius Ruso #5) by Ruth Downie
Spectra by Joanne Elder (print)
There’s Something About Lady Mary (Summersby #2) by Sophie Barnes
What the Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart

The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton (The Burgundy Club #3) by Miranda Neville (99 cent sale!)
Dignity (To be Sinclair #1) by Eva Caye (free!)
The Scargill Cove Case Files (Arcane Society #9.5, Looking Glass Trilogy #0.5) by Jayne Ann Krentz (free)

Review: Wild Encounter by Nikki Logan

Format read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: romantic suspense
Length: 196 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date Released: September 9, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

A wildlife release mission in Africa turns deadly when the convoy is hijacked by smugglers, and veterinarian Clare Delaney is taken hostage. Terrified for her life and her animals, the intrepid Clare establishes a rapport with the man she believes is the criminals’ leader, and reluctantly finds herself under his protection…and falling hard for the enigmatic man.

Alpha-to-the-max Simon deVries sees right through his sexy captive’s attempt to seduce her way to freedom. So when their simmering attraction flares into true passion, it takes them both by surprise. Now he’s torn between completing his secret mission and letting her escape without telling her his true identity. He knows if he lets her go, he will be risking his career, his life…and his heart.

Most people know about “Stockholm Syndrome”, where hostages “have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.” The syndrome is all about mistaking the lack of abuse from their captors, or, in the case of Clare and Simon in Wild Encounter, a particular captor, for an act of kindness. Or possibly more.

At least, that’s what the shrink tells her after it’s all over.

There’s an inverse syndrome, the “Lima Syndrome.” That’s the version where the abductors develop sympathy for the hostages, sometimes to the point of letting them all go. Or, in the case of Wild Encounter, letting just the one hostage go.

And that’s what Simon’s superiors tell him he has after it’s all over.

But what if they’re wrong?

As romantic suspense, the start of this story is both amazing and slightly uncomfortable. Simon and a group of seriously bad dudes kidnap Clare by accident in order to get at the wild dogs her group is planning to release. She’s just collateral damage. So are the dogs.

Can either of them be sure the attraction they feel for each other is real, and not a product of the situation?

Clare only knows that Simon is the only one of the crew who treats her half-way decently. He protects her from the others. Throwing her lot in with him, throwing herself at him, is her best chance for survival.

Until she can rescue herself. Which is exactly what she does. With wits and skill and intelligence. Brains over brawn. Whatever she feels for Simon, she takes him down, too. And escapes from ALL her captors. Including the one she’s just spent an entire day in the sack with.

She drugs him comatose, along with the rest. His last act is to give her his gun. She drives far enough away before she brings back rescue that he has a chance to get away, she hopes. But that’s all she can do for him, whoever he was.

Six months later she’s back in Africa, because the dogs have been found on the wrong nature preserve, and she and her team have to relocate them after all. While she’s happy to know that they survived, she’s still emotionally scarred.

Then the British government sends  a team to guard them, to prevent a repeat of the “embarrassing events” of the previous transfer, and there’s Simon again. Clare finds out who he really is, and she’s both stunned and angry. He’s MI6 and her kidnapping nearly ruined his undercover case.

All she knows is that in 6 months he never contacted her to let her know that he was alive, or who he really was. Or what their last night together might have meant. Or not.

His case isn’t over. He can’t even tell her what it’s about. Or that he’s not sure what their last night meant either. Was it all part of one syndrome or another, or was what they both did, part of something they both really felt? And will they survive long enough to clear up all the misunderstandings?

Escape Rating B: The pages absolutely fly by in this romantic suspense tale. The author conveys both the romance and the danger of her veterinarian-heroine’s love-affair with her job and the places it takes her too, with deft insider knowledge.

It was terrific to see a woman rescue herself, not by muscle, but by brains. We need more heroines like Clare in romance. (Heck, we need more heroines like Clare as role-models in general!)

But, we’re all left wondering how much of what Clare (and Simon) feel in the initial situation is real, and how much is part of the situation. The sex is jungle steamy, but are the emotions real? Those syndromes exist for very valid psychological reasons.

The angsting after Clare and Simon get back together is a bit, well, much. The misunderstandings are huge, and go on way too long. Either he can talk about it, or he can’t. If MI6 says he’s compromised, than he shouldn’t be there. Or he’s all there. Also, the nameless/faceless nature of the superiors who  said he couldn’t/shouldn’t be involved with Clare took a bit away from the reasoning on that one. I wanted to see his memory of that actual dressing-down, if not the event itself to give that more punch.

Where would spy stories today be without the invention of the micro-chip? (I’m just saying…)

But all things considered, I liked these characters. A LOT. I wanted them to find a happy ending, and I was happy for them when they did. And the plot did keep me very much in suspense. I did not know who the bad guy was, or even why the bad guy was, until Clare figured it out. I love it when the suspense works as well as the romance.

***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.

Dual Review: Tundra 37 by Aubrie Dionne

Format Read: ebook provided by Publisher
Number of Pages: 288 pages
Release Date: 7th of February 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Series: A New Dawn #2 Genre: Sci Fi Romance
Purchase links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads


Gemme is a hi-tech matchmaker who pairs the next generation of Lifers aboard the Expedition, a deep space transport vessel destined for Paradise 18. When the identity of her lifemate pops up on her screen, she’s shocked that he’s the achingly gorgeous and highly sought after Lieutenant Miles Brentwood—a man oblivious to her existence. Believing everyone will think she contrived the match, she erases it from the computer’s memory.

Just as comets pummel the ship and destroy the pairing system forever.

With the Expedition disabled, the colonists must crash land on the barren ice world of Tundra 37 where Gemme is reassigned to an exploratory mission, led by Lieutenant Brentwood. Only in the frozen tundra does she understand the shape of his heart and why the computer has entwined their destinies.

Our Thoughts:

Has: I have mixed feelings with this series, I adore the world-building and the premise of a future where humans are forced to flee the Earth due war, famine and disease. And to survive people travel in generational star ships to find new planets to colonise and to restart civilisation. Tundra 37 is the 2nd book of the series and follows the ship, the Expedition which is forced to crash land in a frozen planet after an accident.

Gemme, the heroine is a tech who match-makes pairings on the ship and to ensure that they are compatible genetically and psychologically. However she is shocked to see that she is paired with Miles Brentwood who is being groomed to take over the leader on The Expedition. She is afraid to be partnered with him because he is popular and very desirable and because of her position as the person who matches up couples. But the ship crash lands, and the remaining survivors have to find a way to safeguard the ship and to find new supplies to ensure their survival.

I have to say, I loved the main plot for the mission to survive and the search for supplies, but the romance subplot, wasn’t that strong and the weakest part of the story for me. I felt, that Gemme’s actions especially with her position as a matchmaking tech and to dismiss the original results of her pairing with Miles wasn’t that strong an obstacle for them. I also disliked  the character of Luna who I felt was one dimensional and despite the ship’s edict of ensuring human matches have to be genetically compatible was very focused on pairing with Miles despite the fact he was reluctant to be in her company. This aspect of the plot was forced and very weak and detracted from the main story of the ship’s mission and survival

Marlene: The New Dawn series seems to have more of a “space opera” feel to it than truly science fiction romance. The plot that drives all of the stories is the human diaspora plot–humankind’s need to distribute itself among the stars because we have totally frakked up planet Earth. This is a well-used and well-loved trope in science fiction, and the author has done some neat things with the generational ships and the base human drives that managed the people who initially populated them.

The romance subplots have taken a “back seat” in the stories (that has a tendency to be true in space opera in general).

Gemme’s job was to check over the computer’s genetic matches to make sure that the computer hadn’t missed any nuances that a human would catch. With such a relatively small gene pool, this cross-checking was required. Computers don’t do nuance terribly well. Gemme didn’t “make” matches, but she could prevent them if she saw something the computers didn’t. Of course, that gave her an enormous amount of very subtle power.

Miles has the overt power, but he doesn’t see it as power. He sees it as taking care of the crew. This is what makes him a good leader. And that’s why he’s been made a leader. What gets lost in the romance is why Gemme and Miles are attracted to each other at the beginning. Not why the computer matched them, that could just be genetics, but why they get lost in each other. Insta-connection, OMG.

And don’t get me started on Luna. She was so one-dimensional that she was flat. Except her boobs, which seem to have been positively ginormous. A factor which otherwise adds to her one-dimensionality. So to speak. Luna exists in the plot simply to be self-serving, to point out how self-sacrificing Miles and Gemme are. Luna in Tundra 37 is the equivalent of Astor Barliss in Paradise 21. She’s the bully.

Has:Yep! I totally agree although I did find Astor’s character more developed and fleshed out. But I found that the fact they were on a dangerous mission, and outside on an alien world, it was verging on ridiculousness about the romantic sub-plot. I wished there was some real build-up especially for the tension and for the feelings between Miles and Gemme because there was no explanation on how and why they should feel like this and I hate insta-love trope, it never really works for me as a trope and it never makes me believe in the romance.

I did like the subplot, involving the Twin navigators, Mestasis and Abysme who were melded to the pilot computer of the ship, introduced an interesting dynamic and I found their relationship much more interesting. It also had more depth, especially with the introduction of alien artifact on Tundra 37  which draws the ship’s attention like a moth to a flame and is the cause of the crash. Although I do wished there was more background on why this artifact was buried there and if there were any links to aliens in the first book in some way because it was a bit random.

Marlene: I’m so with you, Has, when it comes to insta-love. The only insta-anything that feels real is insta-lust. That one, I think can be pretty darn instantaneous. Anything that requires emotions takes a bit of time. And at least a few conversations!

Something about Tundra 37’s emotional chords that struck me was that all the depth comes from the backstory, and mostly occurs in flashback. Whatever happened between Luna and Gemme that made Gemme kowtow to that witch happened when they were kids. It’s supposed to make the reader understand, but we don’t get enough. Gemme’s and Miles insta-connection is fueled by past lives, which they relive through the alien tech. The Twins’ shared experience, and the sadness of Mestasis’ lost love back on Earth, are experienced in their dead memories through the artifact.

The emotional present gets shorted. And you’re right again about the past of the artifact. Where did it come from and does it have any bearing on anything else whatsoever?

Has: I thought it was interesting about the flashbacks adding the depth and it did help with the buildup and contrast that with the insta-love it just highlighted the lack of development of the romance especially. I also wanted to know about the future of the survivors, because it ended abruptly, although there was hope they would be able to survive despite not them reaching their goal planet. The fact they end up on a desolate cold world was sad, and it also felt the story just got going for me. I hope we do get to revisit them and to see if there is more to come for this crew and if there is more developments with the alien artifact and its origins.

Marlene: I wonder how all the survivors turn out. The point of a diaspora story is usually to spread the survivors as far apart as possible so that there are as many chances of human survival as possible. Being a science fiction reader, I can think of a bunch of ways that we could legitimately check back on the surviving groups. I wonder if the author will pick one.

The alien artifact is interesting because it showed past lives, not just memories. How did it know? Were they true? It opens up a world (no pun intended ) of story-telling possibilities. Who were those aliens? Will they be back?

The ending, with that rousing speech, reminded me a lot of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, and some of Adama’s speeches. But then, the Seers hooked into the ship reminded me a lot of Helva from Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang. Science fiction recycles a LOT of tropes.


Has: Tundra 37 had a fantastic premise but the romantic subplot, for me was the weakest element of the story. However the flashbacks involving Mestasis own tragic romance who is the featured hero in the prequel, A HERO RISING, had depth and was much more engrossing, and heart-wrenching and I was drawn to her character and that of her sister which really made the book and story alive for me. Although I wished the ending didn’t end abruptly, the world-building and the story threads which link and tie in with the other books in the series, is engaging and keeps me interested in the story. I just wished the romance subplot was developed and didn’t fall into trope pitfalls.

I give Tundra 37 3 stars.


Marlene: I also thought that the premise behind Tundra 37 was terrific. The human diaspora story is excellent, and the survival adventure part of the story was well-done. But the romantic elements felt slightly underdone. The romance between Mestasis and James, centuries ago, held more passion than the current living love between Miles and Gemme. Flashbacks are a great story-telling device, but they shouldn’t bear the entire burden of holding up the romance. The ending was upbeat and in a pretty good place, hope and inspiration for the future, before the hard work begins. But that particular ending is a common science fiction trope.

I give Tundra 37 3 stars for too many trips to troperville.