On My Wishlist – WorldCon 2013 Edition

LoneStarCon 3 Logo

As you read this, we’re at WorldCon. I haven’t gotten tired of saying, or typing, that yet. And probably won’t. Last year, we were in Atlanta at Dragon*Con wishing we’d gone to WorldCon in Chicago.

We did have attending memberships in Chicon, but we lived in Atlanta. A con that didn’t require airline tickets trumped a con that did. C’est la vie.

This year, we’re in San Antonio, but back home in Seattle, we’re missing our first Bumbershoot. If we get to Loncon3 next year, we might manage both. For some reason, the Brits don’t share our fascination with Labor Day weekend.

There are, of course, a few books that I’ll be unable to resist while I’m in San Antonio. In some cases it’s not that I don’t already have them, it’s that I have a chance to tell some of my favorite authors how much I love their work, and get signed copies.

But we’re only bringing one suitcase with. I wonder if there’s a shipping place near the convention center? (Especially since the list below does not include Galen’s list!)

Among Others by Jo WaltonThe Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler WhiteJean Johnson – Hellfire (Theirs Not to Reason Why #3)
Gail Carriger – Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2)
Michelle Sagara – Cast in Sorrow (Chronicles of Elantra #9)
Tanya Huff – The Silvered
Elizabeth Bear –One-Eyed Jack (Promethean Age #5)
Jo Walton – Among Others
Steve Brust – The Incrementalists

Hellfire by Jean Johnson

Curtsies and conspiracies by Gail CarrigerCast in Sorrow by Michele Sagara






one eyed jack

The Silvered by Tanya Huff






Tor, Baen, Pyr, Angry Robot, and 47North all have presentations of their upcoming publications. I’ll try to be there for as many as possible, especially since some smart cookie scheduled the Tor, Baen and Pyr shows back-to-back in the same room!

Who would you stand in line for? Which authors are your favorites?

Review: Big Sky Wedding by Linda Lael Miller

Big Sky Wedding by Linda Lael MillerFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback, audiobook
Genre: Western romance
Series: Parable, Montana, #5
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: August 27, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Wedding bells are ringing in Parable, Montana, but Brylee Parrish hasn’t enjoyed the sound since being jilted at the altar by Hutch Carmody. She’s over Hutch now, and running a multimillion-dollar business is challenging enough for this country gal. So she should avoid falling head over boot heels for A-list actor Zane Sutton. He’s come home to his rodeo roots, but Hollywood lured him away once and just might again. Yet everything about him, from his easy charm to his concern for his young half brother, seems too genuine to resist….

Zane didn’t come to Parable for love—but count on a spirited woman to change a jaded cowboy’s mind. Problem is, Brylee’s not convinced he’s here to stay. Good thing he’s determined to prove to her, kiss by kiss, that she’s meant to be his bride.

My Review:

I am so glad that Brylee finally got over the “wedding that wasn’t.” It certainly took the woman long enough to get past the huge meteor strike she took to her pride!

Big Sky Mountain by Linda Lael MillerBrylee Parrish and Hutch Carmody’s almost wedding was one of the foundation stories for the Parable, Montana series–it’s practically how the whole thing started. But Brylee got left behind in a bridezilla wedding confection, while Hutch rode off into the sunset with the woman of his dreams in Big Sky Mountain. While I loved Big Sky Mountain, (review at Book Lovers Inc.) Brylee does not come out of that story as a character you want meet again.

By the time the story of Big Sky Wedding rolls around, Brylee Parrish has grown up a bit. She’s taken the anger and heartache of being left behind and used it to make a name for herself and create a mega-successful international home-party decorating company, Decor Galore. She’s put Three Trees Montana, and neighboring Parable, on the map. She’s also one of the area’s biggest employers.

Big Sky Summer by Linda Lael MillerShe’s also lonely. Whether that’s because of, or in spite of, living right next door to her brother Walker and his new family (see Big Sky Summer, reviewed here) is hard for Brylee to say.

She might even be over Hutch. Getting over the man was way easier than getting over the loss of all her dreams, but she’s finally reaching that conclusion, too.

And into her life rides Zane Sutton. Former, and maybe future, rodeo rider. Current, and maybe former, Hollywood actor. Definitely the current owner of the ranch next door to the spread that she owns with her brother Walker.

Zane is the first man who has a chance of pulling her all the way back to the woman she used to be. If he’s really come to Parable to stay. If Brylee can trust that a member of the much-derided Hollywood actor-species would ever come to Three Trees to actually put down roots.

If Brylee can let herself ever trust her heart to any man again.

Escape Rating B: Brylee’s story has been building for a long time, but when we finally get it here in Big Sky Wedding, it felt a bit on the short side. Some of the previous books in the series built the romance up more than this one seemed to. I don’t mean that it was rushed, I mean that the story that built was more about Brylee finally getting over the last of her hurt pride and her isolation after her busted wedding than the actual romance between her and Zane.

Big Sky Country by Linda Lael MillerAlso, we’ve seen Brylee in all the stories so far, but Zane (along with his family) is new. He’s also the beginning of a new (and the final) story arc. Zane brings interesting baggage, in that he comes to escape his accidental acting career, and wants to return to ranching. He’s been searching for a home, a return to a “real” life. How that “real” life finds him makes the reader watch him grow and change, because Zane has a family deposited on him in the form of his much younger half-brother, Nash, and, of course, an adopted stray dog named Slim. As well as his formidable housekeeper Cleo, who must be the new Opal. Let’s just say that Zane’s household needed the Cleo-tornado extra bad, in much the same way that Slade Barlow needed Opal in Big Sky Country.

There is one final book in Parable, Montana. I wonder what secrets will be revealed in Big Sky Secrets? I’m going to be sorry to see this series end.

***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.

Trio Review: Beer and Groping in Las Vegas by Angela Quarles

Beer and Groping in Las Vegas by Angela QuarlesFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: Dec. 19, 2012
Number of pages: 52 pages
Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Can a djinn and a magic slot machine bring two geeks together?

Riley McGregor is a geek trapped in a Good Ole Boy body and as owner of a microbrewery, smart chicks never look at him twice.

Rejected by a geek who wanted to “trade up,” Mirjam Linna would rather immerse herself in work than be the girlfriend-of-the-moment. Stranded in a Vegas hotel, she accidentally makes a wish—a night of hot sex with the man of her dreams. It’s granted. She agrees to dinner, but afterward, she’ll say thanks, but no thanks, and see what’s on the SyFy channel. But when they meet, they’re surprised to find they had a shared connection in their past. Sparks fly as these two learn to be in the moment, be themselves and find love.

Fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Monty Python, Firefly and Marvin the Martian will enjoy this romantic comedy.

Our Thoughts:

Cass: (Pre-Read Impressions) They DARE invoke Firefly?! Ballsy. Taking Firefly’s name in vain can lead to hordes of angry Browncoats. The devastation would be unspeakable.


Marlene: Unfortunately, most of us geeks know that Syfy doesn’t broadcast much real Sci-Fi any more. Which should have clued me in that this wasn’t going to be quite what I thought it was.


Jackie: I was afraid that my lack of recent exposure to anything scifi, particularly all things Firefly, would leave me at a disadvantage but I think this would have been better categorized as “pop culturally aware” as opposed to geekish/ scifi content.  Monty Python and Marvin the Martian are not hardcore scifi, right girls?


Cass: Seriously. I call bullshit on her Geek Cred. Saying this is for “fans” is like saying the Kate Daniels is for goths. You know, because Julie is going through a goth phase. As evidenced by a couple casual references to her room.


Marlene: Based on the description in Goodreads, I was expecting geek romance. What I got was a lot more like something that should have been published through Decadent Publishing’s 1Night Stand series, with a lesser djinn standing in for Madame Eve. Emphasis on lesser.


Jackie: Call me crazy, but I was thinking it might resemble Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson…then again, if it did I wouldn’t know cause I haven’t read it yet, but I thought this might have given me a taste at least. I’m almost positive there aren’t any genies/djinn in Thompson’s stuff, although he may have hallucinated them over the years. If that’s what the author was going for at all, it was subtle and clever.


Cass: I didn’t get any Geek from this story. Or nerd. Or comprehension of the English language.


The author opens with a reference to all the “trademarks” used in her book. What kind of lunatic would encourage someone to trademark fandom? You want fans to be obsessed with your copyrighted material so they spend all their money on it. Not restrict their ability to do so.


What kind of author wouldn’t be intimately familiar with copyright and how it works? She’s either a moron, or using the list as an affectation of Geekdom. Somebody is in serious need of Geek Therapy:


Marlene: Instead of “talk dirty to me” the subtitle of this one should have been “talk nerdy to me”, except wait, that title is already taken! A lot of geeky in-jokes substitute for foreplay. And I’ll never think of Marvin the Martian quite the same way again.


Jackie: I’m sure I missed a bunch of the references, but I did get the one about the red shirts and the away mission. *Jackie pats herself on the back*


Cass: I was just so wrapped up in all the intrigue surrounding the bed sheets. Clearly a crucial aspect of a 40 page short.


How do you expect me to believe these two had amazing sex if you don’t specify whether or not the sheets were organic 1500 thread count Egyptian cotton? Might as well have just stuck with missionary position. These kinds of issues can make or break the masturbatory potential of your sex scenes. People can only take their suspension of disbelief so far. Vegas genie? No problem. Sexytimes on generic sheets? Blasphemy!


Marlene: Underneath a story that provides endless possibilities for snarky humor, there is a lot of geeky inside snarky humor. There’s also a bit of wish-fulfillment, which is where the djinn rather improbably steps in, rather like the naughtier cousin of the guardian angel in It’s a Wonderful Life.


Cass: Wish fulfillment? Have you broken open the WorldCon libations a bit early?


This whole scenario is creepy as fuck. As soon as Mirjam found out her “bartender” wasn’t actually an employee of the casino, she should have been screaming “What the fuck did that psycho put in my drink?!” and running to get a medical exam. Not mindlessly obeying the instructions of a complete stranger who knew everything about her (down to her bra size), broke into her hotel room, and ordered her to strip after dragging her out of the very safe public area she was standing in.


Riley had it right when he opened with “How the fuck…”. Because that is the only acceptable response to this kind of situation.


I propose a title change to “Roofies and Stalking in Las Vegas.”


Mirjam’s willingness to just roll with this increasingly bizarre, and totally unsafe, series of instructions puts her in the TSTL category. I’m stunned she didn’t compare herself to Sookie Stackhouse. They have similar senses of self-preservation. (i.e. none).


Jackie: No, I wouldn’t be following any instructions that popped out of a slot machine unless I had someone to watch my back but it is fiction, so we are supposed to suspend reality for a bit anyway. Readers should just be aware of the whole “don’t try this at home” rule.


Marlene: The second-chance at love angle is supposed to help the readers get over the very fast “insta-love” aspects of the story. Insta-lust is totally believable, insta-love, not so much. These are two workaholics who have both been going through a seriously long dry-spell, so insta-lust, absolutely.


Cass: I’ll give credit where credit is due. They had safe sex. And there was unambiguous consent. Even if they didn’t consider the very real possibility that their sex-shack was set up with spy holes and hidden cameras in addition to the candles and fancy sheets. Hope you enjoy your futures as online porn stars! Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.


Jackie: I’m not sure that they were both on the same page when it came to the whole ‘high school residual feelings’ thing but it did speed up the story appropriately for a short. It took me a while after finishing to figure how Marvin ended up where he did, but at least Riley was consistent in his enthusiasm for “the one that got away.”




Marlene: I picked this up hoping for more of a sci-fi-con-romance type story (based on the description) in anticipation of WorldCon. In that sense, it was disappointing. The story is an erotic romance where it just-so-happens that the participants are both geeks. Their geekiness is what they have in common.


On the other hand, it was a moderately fun and occasionally hot story to read over my lunch, providing that one is willing to suspend some disbelief about going along with the djinn and the slot machine. But I wouldn’t call it romance as much as light PWP (that’s porn-without-plot). I will say that having the acid test for whether or not someone is a potentially geeky enough long-term partner be their reaction to one’s Serenity tattoo made a weird kind of sense (says the woman with both TARDIS and Star Trek earrings)


However, the title is awful and doesn’t describe the book very well. It makes it sound like an orgy at a frat party. Or worse.


I give Beer and Groping in Las Vegas by Angela Quarles 3 pink stars


Cass: I slammed my computer shut in disgust and walked away at least four times. Because what.the.fuck.


I give Roofies and Stalking in Las Vegas 1/2 star. The half star I contemplated adding for the unambiguous consent was taken away by the sheer absurdity that so-called geeks would be in the same hotel as a big Con and not even contemplate going.


Jackie: I kind of agree with Marlene about the title but from another viewpoint: when the beer bottle showed up on the balcony, I thought things were going to go to a weird place for a minute. Thankfully, they didn’t. I enjoyed this quick read and feel it offers a bit of steamy fun with a smidge of hope for us geeks out there still looking love. I give Beer and Groping in Las Vegas 3 thrusts…I mean stars! (Seriously, though, I’m pretty sure their first time was that quick, no?)


***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: How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

How the Light Gets In by Louise PennyFormat read: print ARC provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook, hardcover, audiobook
Genre: Mystery
Series: Chief Inspector Gamache, #9
Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Date Released: August 27, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” —Leonard Cohen

Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it’s a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. But shadows are falling on the usually festive season for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department, his old friend and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir hasn’t spoken to him in months, and hostile forces are lining up against him. When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers that a longtime friend has failed to arrive for Christmas in the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city. Mystified by Myrna’s reluctance to reveal her friend’s name, Gamache soon discovers the missing woman was once one of the most famous people not just in North America, but in the world, and now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone except the mad, brilliant poet Ruth Zardo.

As events come to a head, Gamache is drawn ever deeper into the world of Three Pines. Increasingly, he is not only investigating the disappearance of Myrna’s friend but also seeking a safe place for himself and his still-loyal colleagues. Is there peace to be found even in Three Pines, and at what cost to Gamache and the people he holds dear?

My Review:

Saved by the duck.

In the end, everyone is saved by the crazy poet Ruth Zardo, and her adopted duck, Rosa. And the reminder that we are all strongest in the broken places.

It all starts with one woman dead and one woman missing. Audrey Villeneuve commits suicide at the Champlain Bridge, and Myrna Landers’ friend Caroline Pineault fails to come to Three Pines for Christmas. In the usual way of things, Gamache passes by the recovery of Villeneuve’s body on his way to Three Pines to talk with Myrna.

Of course, nothing is as it seems with either case. And neither is the apparent destruction of Chief Inspector Gamache’s formerly impressive Homicide Division in the Sûreté du Québec. The only thing that is entirely too close to what it appears to be is the descent of Gamache’s former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, into addiction, depression and self-destruction.

Caroline Pineault is not merely missing, she is dead. Murdered. In the wake of her death, her true identity emerges. She was the last of the Ouillette Quintuplets, a Depression-era miracle and media creation. Gamache needs to know not just how she died, but why. It is who he is. It is what he does.

But while he seems to be investigating her strange but probably relatively normal murder, he is setting other wheels into motion. Wheels that have been grinding slowly but inexorably for more than 30 years.

Wheels that will either finally cleanse the corruption out of Gamache’s beloved Sûreté, or grind him and every single one of his friends and allies, into dust.

And blow the tiny town of Three Pines along with them.

Escape Rating A+: There are so many mysteries in How the Light Gets In. There’s the relatively simple one of “who killed Caroline Pineault?” even though that turns out to be nothing like it seemed at first, because she turned out to be someone different than she appeared to be.

And yes, every time I read “Ouilette Quints” I saw “Dionne Quintuplets”. I had to look them up after I finished. Similar but not the same. Still.

A Fatal Grace by Louise PennyThe big mystery is one that has been hanging over Gamache since A Fatal Grace. Not just who is after him, but why? What happened 30 years ago to corrupt Pierre Arnot? Who is really behind the rot? How deep does it go? What is it really about?

The revelations surprise even Gamache, but once he understands, the long dark journey finally makes sense.

And speaking of long dark journeys, after The Beautiful Mystery (see review for details), I did wonder if the series wasn’t Jean-Guy Beauvior’s journey, even though the series is named for Gamache. At the beginning of the series, Gamache already is who he is going to be. He does some soul searching after Bury Your Dead, but it doesn’t change his essential self.

still life by Louise pennyJean-Guy is the person who grows up and changes the most through the series. He has the most to learn at the beginning of Still Life, and his lessons are the most painful, but he does learn them. With a little help from Rosa.

And the incredible, marvelous, crazily fantastic people of the village of Three Pines. The village and its inhabitants are as great a creation as Gamache himself. I can’t wait to go back.

***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: Calling the Shots by Christine d’Abo

Calling the Shots by Christine d"AboFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: audiobook
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Long Shots, #4
Length: 180 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: October 8, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

He’s had a wild ride, and now sex club owner Josh Scott is looking for a change of scene. But first, he’s determined to bring two friends together, and he’s willing to be a third wheel to move things along…

Beth Norris is eager to be set up with hot bartender Oliver Stephenson, but she’s equally attracted to matchmaker Josh. Soon she’s fantasizing about both men at once—and about being the one to call the shots in the encounter…

Ready to move on with his life post-divorce, Oliver is conflicted by the realization that he’s attracted to women and men. Or more specifically, to Beth and Josh. He tries to keep his distance, but it’s not long before the chemistry between the trio combusts in a night of mind-blowing sex.

In the light of day, it’s clear something deeper than desire is growing between Josh, Beth and Oliver. But though Josh has helped others find love in unconventional relationships, is he willing to take a chance on one himself?

My Review:

This is the fourth book in the Long Shots series, and the action in this book firmly (ahem) shifts from the Pulled Long coffee shop to Mavericks sex club across the street. It’s been two years since all of the Long siblings found their HEAs in first three books (Double Shot, A Shot in the Dark, and Pulled Long, all reviewed here)

Pulled Long by Christine d'AboBut one of the matchmakers in a number of those stories was Josh, the owner of Mavericks. His business may be thriving but he’s not a happy man. Like Ian Long in Pulled Long, he spends way too much time working, and way too much mental energy being messed up about things he can’t control to get within a mile of happy.

Josh created Mavericks as a place where people like himself could have someplace to safely be exactly who they are, whatever their particular kink might be. The watchwords at Mavericks are “safe, sane and consensual”. The problem with being the owner is that Josh has to remain in control at all times. Not in the sense of a Dom controlling a sub, but in the sense of he can’t let go of his emotions and just be. He can’t get indulge himself or get emotionally involved with the members of his club…or his staff.

And that’s what makes this story so interesting. Because no matter how fascinating, or how hot, the BDSM lifestyle available at the club and the encounters described as the protagonists start to get their romantic act together; at heart this is a love story. It’s an office romance/crush on the boss story.

The difference is that Beth has a crush on her boss, Josh. Oliver has a crush on both of his bosses, Beth and Josh. And Josh believes that what he wants, a stable ménage with Beth and Oliver, is an impossible dream, both because all of his previous attempts at such a thing have failed, and because he’s certain that what they feel for him is just a crush, but that what they feel for each other is real. He decides to matchmake them into a real relationship, then leave them to their HEA.

It takes a lot to convince Josh that this time, he really can have it all.

Escape Rating B: The love story works surprisingly well. The author has to manage three points of view in a romance, where the reader is used to only hearing from two participants. But she convinces us that each of these people is getting what they need from what is otherwise unusual arrangement. This is their HEA.

They all come into this damaged by events in their previous lives. They all have secrets in their past that they need to air before there can be any trust. And Beth and Oliver have to convince Josh that their threesome has a chance at becoming a stable relationship, because Josh is older and simply has more experience at trying to make relationships like this work and failing miserably.

It’s a lot to back into a novella. The emotional side holds up well. The suspense subplot about vandalism in sex clubs, that didn’t work nearly 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.

Review: The Best of Daughters by Dilly Court

The Best of Daughters by Dilly CourtFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, hardcover, paperback
Genre: Women’s fiction
Length: 436 pages
Publisher: Arrow
Date Released: November 1, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Despite her privileged upbringing, Daisy Lennox has always longed to make something of her life.

She is drawn to the suffragette movement, but when her father faces ruin they are forced to move to the country and Daisy’s first duty is to her family.

Here she becomes engaged to her childhood friend – a union both families have dreamed of.

But, on the eve of their wedding, war is declared, and Daisy knows her life will never be the same again.

My Review:

The Best of Daughters reminded me strongly of four different works: Upstairs, Downstairs, The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig, Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford series, and the very long shadow cast by Downton Abbey.

The World War I era has suddenly become very popular, thanks to Downton Abbey, but Upstairs, Downstairs, definitely the precursor for Downton Abbey, was also set in that same period of social upheaval. Great change makes for great drama.

The Best of Daughters is about the daughter of a businessman. The Lennox family are not members of the nobility. Daisy starts out the story as upper middle-class. Wealthy but not a blue blood. And she wants more than the life planned out for her.

She starts the story in rebellion against the strictures laid out for her by society. Not just by being arrested at a suffragette demonstration, but by forming a friendship with a woman considered of a much lower class than herself.

The bond that Daisy forms with Ruby is one of the foundations of the book. As the title indicates, the story told from the point of view of the women in it, and the relationships between women form the backbone of the book.

And even though Daisy does eventually find a traditional happily ever after, the book is really Daisy’s search for purpose. She only figures out what she wants in a romantic sense after she figures out who she is and what she wants in the other parts of her life.

That the war upset the social applecart and made many more things possible for her and all the women around her made the story much more interesting than any mere search for romantic fulfillment could have been.

Escape Rating B+: We go through this story from Daisy’s perspective, seeing the world as she grows and changes. It’s fortunate that she is not just likeable, but that the character is interesting, intelligent, and adaptable. Most important, she makes mistakes and learns from them.

Her character arc is one that contemporary readers can invest in; she starts as a very young woman who wants to make the world a better place, but has been a bit too sheltered to quite know how. She also desperately needs a purpose to her life. Then she suddenly has more than she bargained for and has to adapt quickly. She does, but finds the weight of managing everyone almost too much to bear.

And then the war. Following Daisy’s career as a nursing assistant was very reminiscent of Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford series (start with A Duty to the Dead), which covers the same period from the perspective of a trained nurse and is definitely worth a read.

Daisy comes back around to the place she started from. But she doesn’t, because she’s not the same. She grows up to realize that love was waiting for her all along, but that it has to meet her on her terms, and not the traditional terms that would have been set when she was a girl. The world has changed and she has changed with it. And anyone who loves her, including her family, has to accept those changes.

It makes for compelling family drama.

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Choose Your Shot by Christine d’Abo

Choose Your Shot by Christine d'AboFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Series: Long Shots #5
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Release Date: Aug. 12, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s website | Goodreads| Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Come explore the newer, naughtier Maverick’s, where you are in control of the story.

It’s been a year since the decadent BDSM club was gutted in a fire. Tegan has scored an invitation to the grand reopening, where she can finally indulge the needs she’s ignored for too long. On her wicked wish list: a thorough spanking, adventurous playmates and complete erotic satisfaction.

As a switch, Tegan can find pleasure as either a sub or a Domme. The question is, what—and who—is she in the mood for tonight?

Master Grant: dominant and drop-dead gorgeous, he hasn’t forgotten their last encounter. He’ll make sure Tegan gets what she craves—if she submits to him alone.

Eli: the sexy switch has always wanted more from Tegan. But taking their relationship to the next level could mean risking their friendship.

Adam: the last man Tegan expects to encounter at the club, but one she’d love to see more of—if he behaves…

Choose which ending you want for Tegan, or explore all of the sensual possibilities.

My Thoughts:
Flight from the dark by Joe Dever
Choose your own adventure?

Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? Choose Your Shot takes that concept, that the reader starts with a basic story and then decides where the heroine takes it from the beginning premise, and applies it to the sex club Mavericks introduced in the erotic romance series Long Shots.

How well does it work?

There are the reading mechanics and then there’s the story. Or stories, as the case may be.

Tegan was a regular at Mavericks before the fire that closes the club at the end of Calling the Shots . But we haven’t met her before. Our link to the previous stories is Paul and Sadie, the hero and heroine of the very first story, Double Shot.

Because the club has been under reconstruction for a year, Tegan hasn’t had a place to explore the various kinkier sides of her sexuality. She has missed having a safe place to “play” and she’s also missed the friends she has at Mavericks. But the time away has given her the chance to think about her life, and she’s starting to think that she’s ready for a long-term relationship. But that relationship would need to be with someone who understands all her needs.

With that set-up, the stories begin. The choose your own fantasy can lead Tegan to explore all the sexual possibilities on offer at Mavericks. Tegan is extremely flexible, but while steam rises from some scenes, others may go too far past the reader’s boundaries. And the scenes can get repetitive.

Because one of Tegan’s original thoughts was the possibility of pursuing a relationship outside the club, those choices are embodied in three different men; there are different romantic outcomes if she goes through the club as a Domme, a sub or a switch. Even if she leaves the club alone, someone will stop by her apartment at the end of the night. The story ends with the possibility of Happy For Now, or a small chance of Friends with Benefits.

Is that enough?

Long Shots books 1-3 by Christine d'AboVerdict: The concept is way cool. You pick what Tegan should do, she does it, and then you pick the next thing, and read that. The links are much easier than flipping pages. But, it worked much better as a way to explore the club than as a way to explore Tegan’s erotic choices. It was also much too easy for the rooms to repeat.

Other people’s sex, scene after scene, starts to be repetitive, even with kink. There wasn’t enough plot to get to care about Tegan and her choices.

That was the difference between the rest of the Long Shots series and Choose Your Shot. The first four books, Double Shot, A Shot in the Dark, Pulled Long (still my favorite–see review of Long Shots 1-3 at Reading Reality) and Calling the Shots (which I’ll be reviewing later this week at Reading Reality) while they may have all had at least one kinky scene in Mavericks to spice things up, were still romances. The couple, (threesome in the case of Calling the Shots) get their HEA.

Choose Your Shot read like an excuse to show off all the different ways a kink scene could be written.


I give  Choose Your Shot by Christine d’Abo 2 and ½ very kinky 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 Hero by Robyn Carr

The Hero by Robyn CarrFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, large print hardcover, mass market paperback, audiobook
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Thunder Point, #3
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date Released: August 27, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

In a moment of desperation, Devon McAllister takes her daughter and flees a place where they should have been safe and secure. She has no idea what is around the next bend, but she is pretty certain it can’t be worse than what they’ve left behind. Her plan is to escape to somewhere she can be invisible. Instead, an unexpected offer of assistance leads her to Thunder Point, a tiny Oregon town with a willingness to help someone in need.

As the widowed father of a vulnerable young boy, Spencer Lawson knows something about needing friendship. But he’s not looking for anything else. Instead, he’s thrown his energy into his new role as Thunder Point’s high school football coach. Tough and demanding to his team, off the field he’s gentle and kind…just the kind of man who could heal Devon’s wounded heart.

Devon thought she wanted to hide from the world. But in Thunder Point, you find bravery where you least expect it…and sometimes, you find a hero.

My Review:

The titular hero of this third entry in Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series and the romantic hero are not the same person. Surprise! But a very excellent surprise and also totally in keeping with the way that this small-town romance series has been developing.

I think I’ve fallen in love with Thunder Point, Oregon. The more of this small, beachfront town that we explore, the easier it is to understand what makes this place so special.

The important relationship in The Hero isn’t the romance, it’s the adopted father/daughter relationship between the withdrawn Vietnam vet Rawley Goode and Devon McAllister, the woman he picks up on the road escaping from a psychopathic cult leader.

Rawley remembers all too well what it’s like to be on the run, down and out and feel like the weight of the world is on his shoulders and it’s all his fault. People helped him when he had nothing but the clothes on his back; he sees Devon as a way to pay those people back, to “pay it forward”, although he doesn’t call it that.

And Devon has a child with her, a little girl. Her daughter Mercy. Seeing how frightened Devon is makes Rawley question everything he’s ever seen about the religious commune known simply as “The Fellowship”.

He gives Devon and Mercy a home. Safety. And a chance for Devon to take back the life she gave up when she was young and scared and naive. She reaches for that opportunity with her arms flung wide.

She gives Rawley the family he might have had if he hadn’t come back scarred from his war. A daughter. A granddaughter. A reason to reach out to the community that took him in. Not just peace, but fellowship and friendship. Belonging.

Devon remakes her life. She gets a job. An apartment. Makes a home. Develops new friendships with women in the community. And even though it scares her and she’s none too sure that her judgment is sound, starts a relationship with the new high school football coach, Spencer Lawson, who is every bit as uncertain about his own readiness to start a relationship, although for entirely different reasons.

But just when she’s starting to feel secure, Devon’s life goes to smash. The cult kidnaps her daughter. And that’s when everyone in Thunder Point finds out exactly what kind of hero Rawley Goode has always been. Because Devon needs a hero to rescue her daughter from the crazed drug dealer who fathered her.

The Wanderer By Robyn CarEscape Rating: B+: The utterly marvelous thing about the Thunder Point series is how each book just flows right into the next one. Although there is a story with a beginning, middle and end, there is a whole lot of catching up with the people you’ve already met. And this series is still early enough that it’s easy to catch up. Also very much worth it.

While there is a romance, that wasn’t center stage in this story. The creation of the made-up family between Rawley, Devon and Mercy was a much more compelling story than the romance between Devon and Spencer. Also, we’re more invested in Rawley getting, if not an HEA, at least becoming more integrated into the town; he’s been odd man out for quite a while. He’s got quite the snarky sense of humor once he finally starts talking!

Devon’s escape from The Fellowship and her blossoming into independence was a terrific character arc. I loved that she never wimped out, which was what made the romance the less important story. Devon needed to get herself back together, and that story was too important not to take a huge amount of time. It would have felt less empowering if a romance had saved her, she needed to save herself first.

But the threat of the Fellowship coming back to haunt her hung over her like the theme music from Jaws. The action at the end was edge-of-the-seat compelling. Wow! What a wild ride!

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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 8-25-13

Sunday Post

This weekend we are starting our first real vacation in almost three years. I am so happy about the vacation, and completely chagrined that it’s been so damn long since the last one.

No wonder we’re so beat!

LoneStarCon 3 LogoEven better the vacation is in San Antonio so we can go to WorldCon. That would be the World Science Fiction Convention, this year in San Antonio over Labor Day. We’re already saving our pennies for next year in London.

Is anyone else out there going to San Antonio?

I’m so excited that I’m squeeing about it a week in advance, but why not?

I’ll have plenty of stuff to post while I’m away, and we’re taking laptops with us. We’ve only ever unplugged on one vacation, and this one isn’t going to be it.

Current Giveaway:

2 ebook copies of The Love of My (Other) Life by Tracy L. Slatton ends 8/31

Winner Announcement:

The winner of the Lovestruck Giveaway Hop was Sherry S.

Crystal Garden by Amanda QuickBlog Recap:

B+ Review: The Love of My (Other) Life by Traci L. Slatton
Guest Post by Author Traci L Slatton on Why I Write Science Fiction + Giveaway
B+ Review: Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick
C- Review: A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious by Mary Wine
B Guest Review: Shadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe
B Review: Long Shots 1-3 by Christine d’Abo
Stacking the Shelves (56)

How the Light Gets In by Louise PennyComing Next Week:

The Hero by Robyn Carr (review)
The Best of Daughters by Dilly Court (blog tour review)
Calling the Shots by Christine d’Abo (review)
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (review)
Big Sky Wedding by Linda Lael Miller (review)

Stacking the Shelves (56)

Stacking the Shelves

This was a very nice week before vacation!

wicked after midnight by Delilah S dawsonOne of the things I love about Delilah S. Dawson’s Blud series is the way that she keeps it going between books with novellas. Just when it seems like the wait will be interminable (Blud #3, Wicked after Midnight won’t be out until the end of January) there’s a delicious little novella to remind one just how marvelously decadent the series can be.

Speaking of interminable waiting, a few weeks ago I made a comment in Stacking the Shelves 52 that one of the ARCs (The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle) wouldn’t be published until March 2014, and just how long and strange a wait that was for a close to finished book! The author got in touch and graciously sent a copy of his earlier book, Angel of Highgate for a review. I’m definitely looking forward to reading it.

So what books are you looking forward to this week?

Stacking the Shelves Reading Reality August 24 2013

For Review:
After the Kiss (Sex, Love & Stiletto #1) by Lauren Layne
Angel of Highgate by Vaughn Entwistle
The Damsel and the Daggerman (Blud #2.5) by Delilah S. Dawson
The Iron Traitor (Iron Fey #5) by Julie Kagawa
Missing by Noelle Adams
Sworn Sword (Bloody Aftermath of 1066 #1) by James Aitcheson
Three Princes by Ramona Wheeler

Deception Cove (Harmony #10) by Jayne Castle
Must Love Fangs (Midnight Liaisons #3) by Jessica Sims

Borrowed from the Library:
Among Others by Jo Walton
Hell or High Water (Nola Cespedes #1) by Joy Castro
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax