Interview with Author Theresa Meyers + Giveaway!

Theresa MeyersI’m very happy to welcome today’s special guest Theresa Meyers.  Theresa is the author of the action/adventure/steampunk/romance series, The Book of Legends. Each story in The Legend Chronicles has featured one of the handsome Jackson brothers, named after their father’s favorite guns, and destined to save the world. They’ve been marvelous fun! Check out my reviews of The Hunter (Colt Jackson), The Slayer (Winchester Jackson) and The Chosen (Remington Jackson) for glimpses into Ms. Meyers terrific creation.

And now, let’s hear from the author herself!

Marlene: Theresa, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Theresa: I’m the progeny of a mad (NASA) scientist and a tea-addicted bibliophile. My father worked at NASA during the space race, and now runs his own testing lab (NWAA Labs) out of the remains of defunct a nuclear power plant in Elma, WA, and my mother collected books, all kinds of books, her whole life, and was an elementary teacher. That gives you an idea of how I ended up with a curious mind (I love the research part of writing) and a passion for stories and books. It didn’t hurt that buying books was always considered an understandable expense and my mother turned our dining room into a library by lining the walls with bookshelves. My mother always read out loud to us, changing the voices for each character (something I still do whenever I read out loud even from my own books at conferences) and that made the stories pictures in my head. That’s how I see when I write. I’m a very visual person (likely because I’m dyslexic and the words didn’t make sense to me at the time anyway!) I’m also a perpetual multi-tasker. I’m a writer, a mom of two active young teens, work part-time as a school secretary at a junior high, and own a few acres including some fruit trees and a selection of roses and herbs, an old Arab gelding, a couple of fat, lazy cats and a mini-Aussie that require attention. I’m married to the guy who took me on my first real date to the Prom and suffered through my little brother sitting between us in the back seat of my parent’s car. I like my tea with milk and stevia, hate the flavor of coffee, and adore chocolate. On occasion I’ve been known to collect teapots and teddybears. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I can I keep up on Supernatural (the Dean girl in me is giddy about season 9!), Grimm, Once Upon a Time, The Vampire Diaries and Downton Abbey. I started writing when I was in 8th grade for the school newspaper, and began my first novel at 17. It wasn’t until I joined Romance Writers of America that I was able to get some focus and understanding about the industry and I wrote for 20 years (working as a public relations executive and owning a PR agency in the mean time) before I was published by Harlequin. I now write for three different publishers and have way more stories in my head than I can ever get down on paper.

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Theresa: You know I wish I had a typical writing day. I just don’t. It’s write whenever, wherever, however I can. Sometimes it’s in a cheap spiral notebook in the car while I’m waiting to pick up the kids from football, basketball, dance, track, school club meetings or a friend’s house. Sometimes I’ll take rapid notes on EverNote on my phone for a piece of dialog when paper isn’t handy. Most often I’m writing on my desktop computer, but when that doesn’t work (or I know I’m seriously lagging behind in exercise) I’ll go to my laptop on the tread desk (which is a fancy way of saying a piece of the dining room table extension set over the arms of my treadmill). Normally with my day job I can get in about five pages a day on average. If I’m pushing hard on a deadline, I’ll write when I come home before the kids get home from school and after about 8 pm at night when dinner and homework is done. As for my method? I’m not actually a pantser or a plotter. I like to call myself a planter because I use my plotting board and scene sheets as kind of the trellis for my idea to grow on. I plant the idea and I know it’s going to grow like a vine from the bottom to the top of the trellis every time. But what I don’t know when I plant that idea is which way it’s going to twist and turn as it grows up the trellis. Sometimes it takes some unexpected directions just like the wisteria vine on my front porch!

The Chosen Theresa MeyersMarlene: What can we expect of The Chosen?

Theresa: A fun, kick-butt adventure set in the weird wild west complete with banditos, mechanical monstrosities, demons, Aztec bone warriors, a funky steampunk submarine, giant black jaguars, a love triangle between two brothers and the shape-shifting thief China McGee, and the mother of show-downs between The Chosen and archdemon Rathe and his Darkin hordes that culminates in a destructive force the world still remembers to this day. Sound good?

Marlene: So, is this it for The Book of Legends? Are you ever planning to come back to this steampunk world?

Theresa: I’m not certain. I sure would like to continue writing in this world, but part of that is up to my publishers. I have ideas for more stories set in this world that involve some of the extended family of the Jackson brothers we’ve yet to meet.

Marlene: What made you decide to have the three brothers’ stories overlap each other, to show the events from each brother’s perspective?

Theresa: Every writer tries to stretch him/herself. It’s a thing. We have to do more with each book. This was a stretching point for me. You know how it’s always kind of annoying when you find a good book and you think, yeah, but this is number two or three in the series I can’t read this until I read the others. I wanted to do something different with this trilogy. Could I write three books that took place simultaneously so it wouldn’t really matter, you’d still be in the same time in each story? Then when I started writing it and had to change perspectives and jump in the other brother’s point of view in the scene, wow, was that an eye-opener into the characters! Normally you don’t get to see the scene from another character’s perspective which I think added another layer on to their relationship as brothers.

Marlene: What do you think it means that you “put the steam in steampunk”?

Theresa: Well, since the quote came from Cherry Adair, and she writes some seriously hot stuff sometimes, I’d like to think it means that these are truly romances full of “steam” and not just in the mechanical sense!

Marlene: What were your inspirations for The Book of Legends series?

Theresa: Oddly enough, I came up with the idea for these boys off of their names. I was writing historical romance at the time (in the mid-90s) and I started playing with the idea of what if I had three brothers named after their father’s favorite guns? It kind of just spread from there, and I ended up with an entire extended family tree. The Jackson brothers just happen to be from the dark sheep branch of the prestigious European Hunter family that emigrated to America to escape the family’s disapproval. I knew one was just like their outlaw dad, one an attorney and one a law man (opposite of dad). And when I started thinking about how they held things together, well, that’s where the supernatural bit crept in on silent stealthy feet. But at the time no one was buying anything paranormal. So they patient sat on my computer waiting for an editor that would love my Jackson brothers as much as I did.

Marlene: And I noticed that all your books tend a bit toward the eerie and supernatural. What draws you toward the dark?

Theresa: I don’t know that it’s so much the dark as the paranormal. You see, I was raised with a mom who would do things like read the story of the shoemaker and the elves to me, then I’d hear these wee little voices outside my window. The next morning my room would be cleaned and my mother would say it was the elves in the stump in the back yard and I ought to make them some cookies and clothes like the shoemaker did as a thank you. She made it all seem so real that it wasn’t hard to get to a place where you begin to realize that just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not real. She was always making us aware of the world around us in a natural sense, and how magical life in general is, and I think that’s just kind of carried through into what I write. Besides, love is the greatest magic of all, don’t you think?

shadowlanderMarlene: What projects do you have planned for the future?

Theresa: Oh, honey, where do I begin? I’ve got four contemporary romances coming out with Entangled’s Bliss and Indulgence lines this year titled The Geek Billionaire Makeover, The Baby Mistake, You & Me…Again and Crossing the Line. Then I’m working on my Shadow Sisters series set with my alpa fae in the dark realms of Shadowland and Wyldwood. I’m also working on putting together a new series with a whole different slant on superheroes for Kensington as well as more vampire and werewolf books for Harlequin.

Marlene: What book would you most want to read again for the first time?

Theresa: Probably the entire Harry Potter series. I read them out loud to my kids when they first came out and we had such fun because I changed the voices for each character just like my mother had done for me. I have one really lovely memory of all of us as a family curled up in the king size bed while we read the last few chapters of the last book together because we all couldn’t wait to see how everything ended.

Marlene: On the other hand, tell us which book you’ve faked reading?

Theresa: Hummm. Hard one. I don’t know that I’ve ever faked reading a book. I like reading so much that if I have the slightest interest in it, it isn’t hard to just go grab the thing and start reading it for real!

Marlene: Tell me something that I wouldn’t know to ask. Just for fun.

Theresa: I make up soundtracks to my stories. It helps get me in the mood to write. Each book gets its own kind of theme song to kick off the sound track so I know which book I’m working on (as I’m usually working on two or three at a time between edits, writing and proposals). For The Chosen the theme song was Cowboy Casanova by Carrie Underwood. It just sounded like something China McGee would have been singing to herself in her head after meeting Remington Jackson.

Marlene: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Theresa: Morning person, definitely. I’m that person who can roll out of bed, brush my teeth, slap my hair up into a ponytail and be ready to go. My family insists I’m way too perky. I insist they all take after their father who needs an extra half hour after the alarm goes off just to wake up. LOL.

bio_frontAbout Theresa Meyers

The progeny of a slightly mad NASA scientist and a tea-drinking bibliophile who turned the family dining room into a library, Theresa Meyers learned early the value of a questioning mind, books and a good china teapot. But it wasn’t until third grade that Theresa overcame her dyslexia and learned to read, going on to make words her lifes work. With a degree in Mass Communications she became first a journalist, then a public relations officer in both the corporate and agency realm. But by far the most challenging has been using her writing skills to pen paranormal and steampunk novels in the turret office of her Seattle-area Victorian home. Shes spent nearly a quarter of a century with the boy who took her to the Prom, drinks tea with milk and sugar, is an adamant fan of the television show Supernatural, and has an indecent love of hats.

You can find Theresa at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

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Review: The Chosen by Theresa Meyers

The Chosen Theresa MeyersFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: Mass Market Paperback, ebook
Genre: Steampunk romance, Paranormal Romance
Series: The Legend Chronicles #3
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Date Released: March 5, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

The Chosen: a prophecy older than dirt and more dangerous than death. Even as they perfected steam-powered gadgetry and rounded up varmints from Hell, the Jackson brothers didn’t believe in it. But when the chips are down, three brothers named for weapons aren’t going out without a fight…

A Walk On The Wild Side

Attorney by day, demon-hunter by night, Remington Jackson is used to being on the sunny side of the law, even in the Wild West. But it’s showdown time, and Remy and his brothers are getting desperate. They don’t have the relic they need to slam the door shut on evil—so Remy is going to have to find and steal part of it.

Enter China McGee, shapeshifter, thief, beauty, and current prisoner. When Remy offers her freedom in exchange for a little light-fingered help, she’s pretty sure she’s going to end the association with a good old-fashioned seductive double cross. But there’s something about fighting through a jungle full of Mayan ruins that makes you want to settle down together. China could change. Remy might be special. But none of that matters if the devil takes them all…

In this final volume of Theresa Meyers’ Legend Chronicles, this western-themed steampunk series took its Indiana Jones’ style of peril and adventure with a trip to the jungles of Central America.

Romancing the StoneIt reads like “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone” except that the end of the world was at stake. (But then, Indy had that whole adventure with the Ark.)

In other words, The Chosen is brings the Legend Chronicles to a rollicking conclusion, with Meyers particular brand of forbidden romance between Darkin Hunter and the supposedly evil Darkin that are their normal prey spiced up with the added tension that in this case, Remy Jackson is falling for one of his younger brother Colt’s ex-lovers.

China McGee just happens to be able to turn into a mountain lion whenever she’s feeling a bit catty.

It turns out that China is keeping a much bigger secret from Remy than even he expects…and he expects that she’s keeping quite a few. But this one is downright explosive!

Escape Rating A-: I had to give the rating so I could start talking about what I liked about the story. As the conclusion of a fantastic trilogy, it’s difficult to talk about the plot without revealing something of the first two books.

The Inventor Theresa MeyersThe unsung hero of the Legend Chronicles is Sir Marley Turlock, their madcap inventor. His inventions either work spectacularly, or blow up in your face. There’s a marvelous, and slightly bittersweet, scene in The Chosen that has much more resonance if you’ve read the prequel novella The Inventor. It’s probably still good otherwise, but it has more depth if you’ve read The Inventor.

The Chosen does follow the pattern of The Hunter and The Slayer, with one of exceptions. Unlike the other two women, China doesn’t appear out of the blue. Colt and China are ex-lovers. (Talk about awkward future family reunions!)

But there is the same scene in Tombstone from early in the previous two books, this time told from Remy’s point of view. It’s interesting, possibly unique to have read that same scene three times, and have it be slightly different each time!

The romances are of the “forbidden-fruit” type in each story. The Jacksons are Hunters, sworn to fight the Darkin. The women are all Darkin of one type or another. They spend most of the story resisting each other, because they’re not supposed to be on the same side, and they are sure their alliance is only temporary. “The enemy of my enemy” and all that. Except it turns out that the hunter and the hunted have more in common than any Hunter has with someone who has lived a so-called normal life.

Once they finally do give in to their attraction, Theresa Meyers really does “put the steam in steampunk”! Ramping up the sexual tension but having a good reason to not fulfill it makes for a very hot love scene when it finally does happen.

I do not want to spoil the end of The Chosen, but I will say that the series is a delightfully satisfying read. If you have a love for adventure with a romantic steampunk flavor, The Legend Chronicles should be your cup of tea. Or motor oil.

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***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: Circus of Blood by James R. Tuck

circus of bloodFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Deacon Chalk Occult Bounty Hunter #2.5
Length: 66 pages
Publisher: Kensington Books
Date Released: January 29, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Anticipating the worst keeps Deacon Chalk a step ahead. But he never expected that a badly-beaten were-bat female victim would suddenly mutate and almost take him out. Or that the freak undead that infected her can’t wait to turn all lycanthropes into uncontrollable killing machines…once he’s gone. And that day is getting awfully close. Deacon may be outnumbered, out-gunned, and cut off from help, but what the enemy doesn’t know is that’s exactly when the world’s best bounty hunter lives up to his billing…

My Review:

Deacon Chalk always gets his man. Or were-thing. Or vampire. If they’re on the side of evil. He does check things out first. Deacon may be a killing machine, but he’s one righteous killing machine.

And he usually makes one hell of a mess along the way.

blood and magickI wanted to catch up with Deacon, because the next full book in the Deacon Chalk Bounty Hunter series, Blood and Magick, is coming out in March and it’s on my “must read” list for the year. Deacon’s author, James R. Tuck, writes awesome between-the-books novellas that absolutely further the Deaconverse as a whole, so that put Circus of Blood on my reading agenda.

For the record, I loved That Thing at the Zoo and Spider’s Lullaby, even though I didn’t get around to writing reviews of them. Just so we’re clear. I wouldn’t want Deacon coming after me. I did review Blood and Bullets and it was sheer awesome.

Moving on…

Circus of Blood started off a bit gently for a story in the Deaconverse, but once it got going, it really pulled out all of the bloody and gory stops.

It begins with Deacon at a clinic for weres, and here’s there to help. Considering that Deacon is the bogeyman for most of the supe community, it is a bit of a different role for him.

The other thing that struck me as new was that Deacon was more upfront about the powers that the Angel who saved his life left him with. Well, Deacon saved the Angel first, then the Angel saved him. It’s part of Deacon’s backstory.

But, Deacon got a few extra-human powers from the exchange. He can sense supernaturals. In a room full of scared and sick weres, he feels everything. Kind of overwhelming.

He’s there to investigate the dumping of a were-bat into the middle of a road. Yes, I wrote that. It gets stranger. She got dumped from mid-air, vampire bitten up one side and down the other.

When Deacon shows up, she turns rabid. Not hyperbole, the actual disease. Then the situation truly goes pear-shaped.

Because it’s all part of a plot to spread rabies to the were-community and kill Deacon, perpetrated by a bunch of vampires. Of course it’s vampires.

And guess what? They’ve converted the performers in a circus, an actual circus! To make things worse, the vamps either started out as the freakier circus acts or turned themselves into the classically scary circus acts after conversion. Let’s just say that anyone who didn’t start out afraid of clowns, would leave with one hell of a case of coulrophobia.

To make sure Deacon fights “fair”, they’ve also trapped a whole tent-full of humans to be the audience.

Not fair, not fair at all. Can our hero save the day? Is there a book three in this series? Will you have all sorts of fun with the mayhem and destruction being wrecked on the denizens of evil?

Escape Rating B+: Circus of Blood is just on the good side of over the top. It shouldn’t be so much sheer fun, but it so is.

Deacon and his friends sling one-liners along with knives, guns, holy water and swords, and it just plain works. And the gallows humor will make you laugh when you least expect there could possibly be anything funny.

An occult bounty hunter, a priest, and a were-stoat walk into a circus…

***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.

ARC Review: Along Came Trouble by Ruthie Knox

Along Came Trouble book coverFormat Read: ebook provided by the publisher
Number of Pages: 350 pages
Release Date: March 11, 2013
Publisher: Loveswept (Random House)
Series: Camelot #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Ruthie Knox’s Camelot series continues in this sizzling eBook original novel, featuring two headstrong souls who bump heads—and bodies—as temptation and lust bring nothing but delicious trouble.

An accomplished lawyer and driven single mother, Ellen Callahan isn’t looking for any help. She’s doing just fine on her own. So Ellen’s more than a little peeved when her brother, an international pop star, hires a security guard to protect her from a prying press that will stop at nothing to dig up dirt on him. But when the tanned and toned Caleb Clark shows up at her door, Ellen might just have to plead the fifth.

Back home after a deployment in Iraq and looking for work as a civilian, Caleb signs on as Ellen’s bodyguard. After combat in the hot desert sun, this job should be a breeze. But guarding the willful beauty is harder than he imagined—and Caleb can’t resist the temptation to mix business with pleasure. With their desires growing more undeniable by the day, Ellen and Caleb give in to an evening of steamy passion. But will they ever be able to share more than just a one-night stand?

My Thoughts:

I love a good bodyguard romance. And Ruthie Knox’ Along Came Trouble does fit into that category, even though the main characters spend a good chunk of the book denying that Caleb Clark really is Ellen’s bodyguard.

But if the role fits…(and does it ever!)

It also fits Ruthie Knox’ own pattern of one character who needs to forgive themselves (in this case Ellen) and one character being way too good for their own good (in this case the yummy almost-bodyguard, Caleb) 

How to Misbehave book coverFor more Ruthie Knox yummyness, take a look at the first Camelot story, How to Misbehave (reviewed here at BLI) or my personal fave, About Last Night, reviewed at BLI and at Reading Reality.

The secondary plot involving Ellen’s brother Jamie, the Justin Timberlake-alike singing sensation and the pregnant girl he loves and left (he’s not the one who got her pregnant) just adds to fun and games, but also provides the reason for bodyguard to be involved in the first place.

Jamie is the hotttest star that ever came out of Camelot, Ohio. His on again/off again relationship with Carly has brought the paparazzi out in packs. Carly lives next door to his sister Ellen.

Jamie’s people hire a local security firm to manage the chaos that ensues. Enter Caleb, head of security for that local firm.

Caleb starts out just wanting to make sure both women are safe. He knows that somewhere in the pack of photographers is someone who will do something really wrong, like break into one of their houses to steal something juicy. Or even just to get a sneak-attack type interview or picture.

What he doesn’t count on is seeing Ellen attack a trespassing photographer with a glass of iced tea. It turns him on. He goes over to back her play. For a few precious minutes, they are on the same side.

Caleb doesn’t know about Ellen’s serious problems with boundary issues. All she sees is a man who wants to change the house that is her sanctuary. No matter what his reasons, he’s an invader. She’s sure Caleb just wants to manage her.

She’s been down that road with her ex-husband. Ellen feels like she can’t depend on anyone, because the last man she depended on turned out to be an alcoholic and an emotional abuser. It took her a long time to find her own self-worth.

Now she can’t give an inch. Not even when it seems reasonable.

Verdict:  There are two stories, and they both absolutely rock! Ellen has so much angst about her former marriage, that she can’t quite manage to pull down the walls. And she’s spent her whole life being Jamie Callahan’s sister, taking care of his career, she doesn’t even know how to put herself first. Or even a good second. Then there’s Caleb, he quit the MPs to come home and help his folks out, but he gets nothing but resentment and back-handed undermining of his efforts.

Falling for each other wasn’t in either of their plans. It also makes the whole situation more combustible, when Jamie Callahan comes home to un-screw up his own love life. Except he can’t help but bring the paparazzi with him. Spectacularly.

All the reader can do is hang on for the absolutely glorious ride.

I give Along Came Trouble by Ruthie Knox 5 spangled 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 Mysterious Madam Morpho by Delilah S. Dawson

mysterious madam morphoFormat read: ebook provided by Edelweiss
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Steampunk romance, Paranormal romance
Series: Blud #1.5
Length: 100 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Date Released: October 2, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Taking place after Wicked as They Come, this original eBook features a mysterious lady and a reclusive mechanical genius who find love and danger in a traveling circus. An elusive woman arrives at Criminy’s doorstep with a steamer trunk, begging for a position in the caravan to perform her unique new act. She opens her trunk to reveal a menagerie of brilliantly colored butterflies. The woman, who calls herself Madam Morpho, is on the run from a dark past in London, where she was forced to leave her equipment behind and abscond with only her tiny performers. Playing a hunch, Criminy hires Madam Morpho on the spot. Taking her down to meet Mr. Murdoch, the reclusive talented engineer who keeps the carnival’s clockworks running, Criminy instructs them to work together to design and build a groundbreaking new circus for the butterflies. Amid the magical ambiance of the circus and the hint of danger from Madam Morpho’s pursuers, she and Mr. Murdoch soon find that their scientific collaboration has produced chemistry of a more romantic kind.

My Review:

wicked as she wantsI was hungering for the next full installment of Delilah S. Dawson’s darkly delicious Blud series after the chills and thrill’s of last year’s Wicked As They Come (click here for review), but was disappointed to discover that Wicked As She Wants won’t be out until April 30.

And that Edelweiss doesn’t seem to have egalleys. Damn.

Then I remembered that I have egalleys of two “tide-me-over” novellas, that might just satisfy my taste for Sangland until the end of April.

So the Mysterious Madam Morpho comes to Criminy Stain’s traveling carnival. As with all of Criminy’s other carnivalleros, Imogen Morpho is running away.

In Sang, only the truly desperate run off to join the circus. And Imogen Morpho is truly desperate. Or she would be if there really were an Imogen Morpho.

Instead there’s only Jane Bumble, running from London with a fortune in carefully preserved butterflies and a circus act that lets her make them perform spectacular feats of magic.

All of it stolen from the greatest museums in London. Along with an artifact that is worth more than Jane’s life. Or the life of the entire carnival.

Criminy should turn her away. Her act is a dead giveaway, pardon the pun, of her spectacular theft.

But his wife, the oracular Tish, tells him that the circus needs the butterfly mistress.

Or rather, that one particular member of the circus family needs the butterfly mistress. And Criminy’s circus needs that very special family member.

Jane Bumble thinks that her value is in her butterflies. Her real value is in emerging from her crysalis and becoming a butterfly herself.

And in helping one of the circus’ most important family members shed his cocoon at the same time.

Escape Rating B+: It was marvelous to visit the world of Sang again. There is no place quite like this one, where the adorable prey animals have evolved into vicious predators like bludbunnies. When Jane/Imogen is attacked by bludbadgers, it is frightening, incongruous and hilarious all at the same time.

This is a romance between two unlikely people. Not unlikely because they are not suited, but unlikely because they are people who have both remained hidden behind masks, drab clothing, inside walls and/or wagons, and fake identities. They both have to reveal who they really are before they can have a chance.

With a bit of help from a clockwork cougar to clean up the bloody mess. Sang is not for the faint of heart. But neither is emerging from your shell and facing the world as the person you were meant to be.

***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: Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson

Game for Marriage book coverFormat read:ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Series: Game for It #1
Length: 170 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date Released: January 11, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

He’s going in deep to make her his…

Struggling artist Sheridan Harper never imagined she’d spend a sizzling night with Jared Quinn, the smoking-hot star quarterback of her local professional football team, the San Jose Hawks. And she’s even more shocked when Jared’s publicist offers her a proposition: a fake marriage to keep Jared out of the gossip mags. Being that close to Jared would be too tempting, so to protect her heart, she insists on secretly including a clause forbidding sex between them.

Jared just wants to keep his starting QB job and keep it in San Jose. His reputation as a ladies’ man has landed him in the headlines one too many times, but there’s something about his kind, passionate new wife that tempts him beyond reason. Any sort of intimacy between them is completely forbidden, but as their bodies fall in deep, will their hearts follow suit?

My Review:

In order to be able to truly enjoy this story, you have to be willing to throw your willing suspension of disbelief a lot farther than one of star quarterback Jared Quinn’s game-winning passes. And Jared is a damn good quarterback.

The sexual chemistry and emotional tension between quarterback Jared and artist Sheridan is hot and sweet. They hook up for a one-night stand, and they’re never able to forget that they have something explosive, no matter how much craziness the plot or other people throw in their way.

Because they get stuck with each other for a protracted period of time, even with Jared’s frequent absences for practice and to travel for away games, they have a chance to get to know each other as people. They discover that they actually “like” each other and enjoy doing things together. For different reasons, neither of them has ever given a real relationship much of a chance. Their crazy situation forces them to.

It’s the crazy situation that doesn’t work.

The story is a “marriage of convenience” story. These are hard to do in contemporary romances. The premise for this one seemed like it should be sacked. Jared needs a “fake wife” to clean up his off-the-field reputation because he was photographed with a rival’s wife in his lap. Big deal. In real life, the star quarterback does not get traded for this.

To make this situation more insane, there’s Sheridan’s side. At first Sheridan seems like a woman in charge of her own life. She may be too busy to get involved with anyone, but she knows who she is and what she wants. She meets Jared and practically turns into “fangirl”. She might be a struggling artist, but agreeing to a “fake marriage” for a year to the man she just slept with? And insisting on a sexless marriage with the man she just had mind-blowing sex with?

I just couldn’t buy into the arrangement that made this whole story work.

Escape Rating C+: Jared and Sheridan do fall in love, and that part of the story was sweet. But the way they reached that point was contrived and unrealistic.

Also, Jared is a professional football player, but this didn’t feel like it was talking about football. Except for the game schedule, this could have been any sport.

The secondary characters involved with the team were unrealistic. No owner fires his star quarterback over one questionable picture in the tabloids. And the whole “fake marriage” contract was bound to be exposed and be worse than any picture. Not to mention that the PR guy who came up with it was such a hybrid of every sleazy PR character ever written as to be even more fake than the marriage.

I wanted to like Game for Marriage more, but the forward pass was intercepted by the unrealistic starting motion.


***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.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 2-24-13

Sunday PostThis is the last Sunday in February. Yay! Spring is almost here. Double Yay!

In honor of the shortest month, I’l try for a short Sunday Post.

Celebrating St Valentine Blog HopSaint Valentine shot his arrow at the winner of the Celebrating Saint Valentine Blog Hop. The winner of the $10 Amazon Gift Card was Sandy Borrero. Have fun spending that gift card, Sandy!

The winner of one book from Victoria Vane’s backlist is Gaile Kennedy. Whichever title Gaile picks, it’s bound to be deliciously decadent!

Holding Out for a Hero book coverSpeaking of winners, there’s still plenty of time to enter the giveaway for an ebook copy of Holding Out for a Hero! Four, count ’em, four terrific superhero romances by Nico Rosso, Adrien-Luc Sanders, Tamara Morgan and Christine Bell and Ella Dane. The book was terrific, so read Nico’s interview and throw your hat (or cape) in the ring for a chance at winning the book.


In other happenings last week:

Anything for You book coverB Review: Escorted by Clare Kent
B- Review: Maiden Flight by Bianca d’Arc
Review: Holding Out for a Hero: A-Review: From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders, A Review: Ironheart by Nico Rosso
Interview with Author Nico Rosso + Giveaway
A Review: A Good American by Alex George
A+ Review: Anything For You by Jessica Scott
Stacking the Shelves (35)

And what’s coming up this week?

Chosen book coverTeresa Meyers is on tour with the final book in her Book of Legends Chronicles, The Chosen. She’ll be stopping at Reading Reality on February 28 for an interview and I’ll finally review the last book in this spectacular western steampunk series. It’s been an action-packed adventure so far, so I’m looking forward to the thrilling conclusion.

I have some other reviews on my plate, well, my iPad. I’ll just have to surprise you this week!

Stacking the Shelves (35)

STSmall_thumb[2]_thumbTwo notes about this week’s stack. The Legend of Eli Monpress is an omnibus of the first three books in the series. I borrowed book one from my local library, and ran out of time before we moved, but I remember it an excellent antihero sword-and-sorcery type fantasy. It would be urban if it were in our world, which it isn’t. What it is, until the end of February, is on sale in ebook.

Third Place Books Store Window
Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA. Store Window

About the print. I dropped into the utterly glorious Third Place Books. We eat at Third Place Commons every Friday. It’s near us and a kind of über food court. Lots of choices, shared common space, but absolutely not fast food. I’ve resisted print but, but, but…I listened to Scholar and Princeps, the two books that preceed Imager’s Battalion. I couldn’t resist the idea of seeing all Modesitt’s slightly quirky names in print, and having the maps in front of me. And I wanted to give back to the local independent book store. Oh happy day, there’s a book 7 coming out at the end of May. Antiagon Fire. I’m on fire with anticipation. (Yes, I know. Bad pun)


For Review:
Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove #4) by Tessa Dare
Bare It All (Love Undercover #2) by Lori Foster
Bittersweet Blood (The Order #1) by Nina Croft
The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa
A Good American by Alex George (print) (review)
Playing the Maestro by Aubrie Dionne
Stardust Summer by Lauren Clark
Strange Fates (Nyx Fortuna #1) by Marlene Perez
Temptation by Kathryn Barrett

Circus of Blood (Deacon Chalk #2.5) by James R. Tuck
Imager’s Battalion (Imager Portfolio #6) by L.E. Modesitt Jr. (print)
The Legend of Eli Monpress (Books 1-3) by Rachel Aaron

Dual Review: Holding Out for a Hero by Christine Bell, Ella Dane, Tamara Morgan, Nico Rosso, Adrien Luc-Sanders

Format read: ebook copy provided by the publisher for review
Release Date: 14 January 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Number of pages: 550 pages
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: GoodreadsAmazon, Barnes and NobleRead an excerpt


Scarlett Fever, by Christine Bell and Ella Dane

After five years in training, it’s finally time for Scarlett Fever and her fellow superheroes to leave the United Superhero Academy and test their powers out in the real world. There’s only one problem. She’s been assigned to partner with arrogant, by the book, and irritatingly hot, Blade of Justice.

Blade’s whole life has gone according to plan, and he’s more than ready to move on to the big time, protecting a metropolis of his own. But his perfectly ordered life is derailed when he’s teamed up with the fiery maverick, Scarlett Fever.

Sparks fly the moment they arrive in Plunketville, Oklahoma, as they each set out to force the other to request a transfer. They soon discover there’s more going on in this single stop-sign town than blowing up mailboxes and cow tipping. If Scarlett can get Blade to listen to his gut, and he can teach her to use her head, they just might have a fighting chance.

Ironheart, by Nico Rosso

Vince might be hard as steel, but he’s not invincible. Not when iron touches him, especially in the hands of an evil minion. Not when Kara ran away after a whirlwind affair, just when he thought he might be falling in love. And definitely not when she returns, looking for his help.

The archvillain TechHead is coming for Kara and her superhero teammates, and he’s determined to use their combined power to create the ultimate weapon. But Kara can’t fight him alone. She needs Vince’s brutal skill, though being with him means she risks losing her beloved secret identity, leaving her nowhere else to hide.

When TechHead makes a play to capture Kara, Vince has more to lose than just his heart. But he will do anything for the woman he loves, even if it means putting his heart on the line again.

Playing With Fire, by Tamara Morgan

Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhu¬man abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant… and she’s hurt enough people already. Including herself.

But when the man behind her conversion returns to black¬mail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.
Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fire¬ball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.

And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.

From the Ashes, by Adrien-Luc Sanders

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded count¬less crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire.

Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford–antisocial graduate research¬er, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges ev¬erything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of hu¬mans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean–or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?

Our Thoughts:

Stella: With Marlene we are both big superhero fans, so when we heard that Entangled Publishing released this new anthology full of thrilling superhero romance novellas we were more than excited to read them and then later duel about the stories. To keep it from being too long we decided to restrain our discussion to only 2 of the 4 novellas: Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane and Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan. So Marlene, en garde! 😉


Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane

Marlene’s Thoughts: Superheroes and sasquatch. I’m not sure whether the question should be what do those those two things have to do with each other, or whether it’s even possible to make a romance out of them, let alone in Plunketville, Oklahoma.

I should have looked to see if there really was a Plunketville, Oklahoma.

The opposites-attract trope can make for a fun romance, and the heat amps up twice as fast in the middle of a scorching Oklahoma summer. Especially when your cover is to live in a trailer park in air-conditioning challenged Plunketville. (I can’t help myself, I just love the name Plunketville, as long as I don’t have to live there)

And one of you is a fireball-throwing rookie-superhero. Partnered with a control-freak rookie-superhero who prides himself on being, not just too cool for school, but too cool for everyone. Especially the out-of-control fireball known as Scarlett Fever.

Blade of Justice is all about being cool and controlled. He dislikes anyone and anything that colors outside the lines or refuses to plan every operation to the last detail. Superheroes like Scarlett.

Too bad that when General Hammer hands out assignments to their graduating class from the United Superhero Academy, he assigns Blade and Scarlett to Plunketville to discover the mysterious anomaly in the hot, dusty, ugly small town.

Their cover says they’re married. Scarlett changes that program immediately. She tells the locals they’re siblings.

It takes less than 24 hours before one of the local waitresses decides that Blade is the hottest thing she’s ever seen.

And before Blade starts to wish that his “sister” had stayed his “wife”.

Then the evil ramps up, Blade and Scarlett start off not sure whether they are still school frenemies, or partners.

But the supervillain in town just wants Scarlett gone. And Blade realizes that coloring outside the lines is more fun, and more powerful, than being in control.

Verdict: Scarlett Fever reminded me of Tiffany Allee’s Heels and Heroes. Everyone knows there are superheroes, there are regular schools for them, it’s an accepted part of the world. This means that everyone also knows that there are supervillains.

It was obvious who the supervillain was. Not what that person’s power was, but who they must be.

What was fun was watching Scarlett and Blade fall for each other. They have a lot of preconceived notions, because they did not get on at school. When they are forced to rely on each other in the field, they discover that a lot of their negative feelings towards each other were a mask for something else.

This was just a fun story. And the characters of Sherwood and Nestor were an absolute hoot.

I give Scarlett Fever 3 and 1/2 radioactive stars.

Stella’s Thoughts: It was by pure chance I read Scarlett Fever, namely that it was the very first story in the anthology and I started with it and I have to say in my opinion Holding Out for a Hero started out with a bang.

Scarlett Fever starts with the graduation exam at the Superhero Academy, where  Scarlett Fever and Blade of Justice fight the graduation battle before being assigned to be each other’s partner for the next year. Their mission is in Plunketville, Oklahoma, and the small town provided a colourful location with several memorable secondary characters.

Scarlett and Blade are complete opposites: Scarlett is fiery, feisty, spontaneous while Blade is cool, level-headed and responsible, he is the ice to Scarlett’s fire, and the sparks crackle between these two. I loved their banter and their loaded silences as well, Blade was a hero the reader could have a serious crush on, while Scarlett was a likeable and very entertaining heroine with her huffing and puffing. The story was truly a superhero romance because Scarlett Fever was just as much about the explosive chemistry between Scarlett and Blade than the superhero mystery, and I absolutely enjoyed both!

She had to admit, it was easy to see Blade’s appeal. He exuded strength and confidence, and he kissed like the world was about to end.

Oh yeah, he definitely does… Can I just say yum? 😉

Verdict: Some people on Goodreads called Scarlett Fever silly, but I don’t expect to take my cartoon superheroes seriously (really, how could you take a hero who is called Blade of Justice seriously? lol 😉 ). But what I expect is lots of action, tongue in cheek humour and tons of fun and Scarlett Fever delivered! If you are a fan of Jennifer Estep’s Bigtime series you’ll love Scarlett Fever as well, and I sincerely hope Christine Bell and Ella Dane will give us more stories in this universe, because it was a lot of fun, and I personally would LOVE to read many more similar superhero stories! 😀

I give Scarlett Fever 4 and 1/2 fiery stars!

Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan

Marlene’s Thoughts: Fireball was framed, over and over and over. Although this story has a happy ending, this is not a happy story.

Fiona Nelson seems to have been a victim of her own life. She willingly took the conversion serum that gave her the power to spontaneously create fire at a touch, but willing is somewhat of a relative term when it comes to Fiona and men persuading her to do the wrong thing..

She catches fire whenever she loses control of her emotions. She can’t allow anyone to touch her, because, well, love makes you lose control of your emotions. Sex just plain makes you lose control, whether you do it for the right, or the wrong, reasons.

And most of the people, especially men, who have touched Fiona have not done so with love. Or even like. Fiona has some serious self-esteem issues.

Or, as way too many people in her hometown referred to her, Fiona was the town bicycle. Every man got to ride her. She let them. Sex made her feel better. Momentarily. Then she felt worse.

The man who gave her the serum was one of her “lovers”. Now he’s her persecutor. General Eagle, out to save the world from the converted. He calls them the corrupted.

Fiona finds herself asking for help from the first man who told everyone she was so easy. Except Ian was just a boy then, and now he’s a researcher trying to prove the converted really exist.

Without revealing that he is one.

Fiona’s reappearance in his life is Ian’s chance to make up for having wronged her, all those years ago. His only excuse then was that he was young, and stupid, and didn’t speak up for himself very well. Because nothing much happened.

Now he can save her. Or condemn her to death.

Verdict: This story made me sad. It wants to be a superhero story, but it ends up being, I want to say a supervillain story, but not even that. Everyone is a victim. Fiona is a victim. Ian is a victim. Eagle is kind of a victim.

I wanted to kick Ian’s friend in the balls. Twice. he was just an arse beyond reason.

The government doesn’t come off too well either. They mostly manipulate. This story ended up as a sad mess.

I give Playing with Fire 1 and 1/2 sputtering stars.

Stella’s Thoughts: I am a fan of Tamara Morgan’s stories, I enjoyed Love is a Battlefield and her latest release Confidence Tricks was phenomenal, so yeah I admit, that her story was the reason I was the most looking forward to reading this anthology, but sadly Playing with Fire as Marlene just said made me sad as well.

Due to a natural disaster (something about an asteroid hitting Earth) a conversion serum was developed, many people excited to see what supernatural abilities it would develop for them took it without knowing anything about any potential side-effects and consequences, one of them being Fiona, who developed the power to generate heat and fire with her bare hands. Eight years have gone by and although she has come a long way handling this unique ability of hers, she still has a thin grasp on control whenever her temper flares. But with Fiona we don’t see any positive changes this superpower brought to her life only the bad: how for the past 8 years she had to relinquish all kind of human contact, relationship and had to resign herself to a life of loneliness and solitude.

The problem was that this story was depressing on all levels: Fiona had awful teenage years, she had a reputation of the “high school slut”, and it was not due to false rumours and gossips because she really did do the whole football team as Fiona tells us. And even after that not only the world but mostly Fiona objectified her body and traded sexual acts for any kind of human contact: attention, compassion, companionship. Fiona’s past not only made me sad for the young vulnerable girl she was and still is, the problem is that I don’t feel her opinion of herself, on the matter of sex and her self-esteem have changed.

Besides a superhero who still hasn’t risen above her sad past, the hero also made me sad. His best friend was a jerk and even at the last rescue didn’t manage to redeem himself to me. And I wouldn’t call the romance romance as it didn’t have much time or space to develop, since both the hero and heroine were stuck in very different places than the hero and now, at times stuck in high school and their guilt ever since, then trying to escape the threat looming.

Verdict: Although Playing with Fire had a mutant human heroine, somewhat her attitude doesn’t make me think of her as a superhero. I felt sorry and sad for her, and just wanted to hug Fiona and tell her it will be alright, but one of my problems is that I’m not sure at all it will be. The universe in the story seemed very dystopian to me, and I seriously can’t think of any friendly or trustworthy person there. Don’t write off Tamara Morgan based on this story, try one of her contemporary romance for something lighter and fluffier.

I give Playing with Fire 2 and 1/2 stars!

To read Lea’s review of From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders CLICK HERE.

To read Marlene’s review of Ironheart by Nico Rosso  CLICK HERE.

***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: Anything For You by Jessica Scott

Anything but You book cover Jessica ScottFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Military romance, Contemporary romance
Series: Coming Home #2.5
Length: 42 pages
Publisher: Tormia Creatives
Date Released: February 1, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison has spent a year recovering from his combat injuries. A year spent in the arms of the woman of his dreams. But loving Jen comes with a price: every time he touches her, he faces the uncertain fear that loving her might mean losing her forever.

Jen is a breast cancer survivor and with Shane, she’s found a man who loves her despite her scars. But her scars may be too much for their love to survive.

As their love grows, so does the risk to Jen’s life. And Shane must make the toughest decision any man can make to save the woman he loves.

My Review:

because of you book cover Jessica ScottIf you’ve read Jessica Scott’s Because of You (review here), then you absolutely have to read Anything for You. If you love romance with military heroes, then click over and get Because of You right this minute. (If you don’t have an ereader or iPad, just read it on your computer!)

If you have a remotely romantic bone in your body, you will love Because of You. And then you’ll have to read Anything for You.

Anything for You is a short story. And the length is just right. We’ve already seen Shane and Jen’s happily ever after. Or at least that’s what we thought.

But “ever after” is always going to be a question for these two. Their love for each other is never in doubt. Not for a single, solitary moment. But both of them are all too aware that they might not have forever.

Shane is Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison, and he fell in love with Jen while recovering from severe combat injuries. His year of strenuous physical therapy has brought him a world of pain, and hundreds of nights in Jen’s arms, but the purpose of it all has been to get him ready to go back to his men. Back to the sandbox of war.

Jen knows that one of these times he might not come back. She’s a nurse at the base hospital.

But Shane fears just as much that he might lose Jen. Before he met her, Jen survived a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. Yes, she survived, but she’ll always have the scars. She lost a breast to the disease. It could easily have been her life.

Women who have survived her form of breast cancer are particularly susceptible to having their cancer reappear during pregnancy. As much as Shane would love to have a child with Jen, and as much as she would love to have a child with him, Shane can’t bear the thought that if she got pregnant, he might have to make a choice between Jen’s life and their child’s life.

If she ever got pregnant, Jen wouldn’t be able to have chemotherapy because of the risk to that possible child. Shane doesn’t like those odds. The cancer might not recur. This might not happen. But this kind of cancer has too high a chance of recurring if Jen gets pregnant. Too high a chance that Shane might lose the love of his life.

Shane, soldier that he is, can’t fight the cancer for her. But he also can’t face losing Jen over something he can prevent.

However, most birth control methods have failure rates. There’s one that doesn’t, and it’s one that he can take care of, all by himself.

It takes an incredible amount of love for a man to be willing to let anyone near his family jewels with a knife. But if he doesn’t discuss it with Jen first, she may get to his balls with that cutting implement ahead of the surgeon.

Escape Rating A+: For fans of Scott’s Coming Home series, Anything For You is the perfect treat to tide us over until Back to You arrives later this year.

But on its own, this story is also a fantastic coda to Shane and Jen’s love story. There is just the right touch of bitter with the sweet. They have found each other, but they both have real fears that they have to face up to. They do so with the author’s trademark emotional intensity and off-beat humor.

Wipe the tear from the corner of your eye. Laugh. And pass the frozen peas.

***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.