Review: The Garden Plot by Marty Wingate + Giveaway

garden plot by marty wingateFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: mystery
Series: Potting Shed #1
Length: 267 pages
Publisher: Random House Alibi
Date Released: May 6, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Pru Parke always dreamed of living in England. And after the Dallas native follows an impulse and moves to London, she can’t imagine ever leaving—though she has yet to find a plum position as a head gardener. Now, as the sublet on her flat nears its end, the threat of forced departure looms. Determined to stay in her beloved adopted country, Pru takes small, private gardening jobs throughout the city.

On one such gig in Chelsea, she makes an extraordinary find. Digging in the soil of a potting shed, Pru uncovers an ancient Roman mosaic. But enthusiasm over her discovery is soon dampened when, two days later, she finds in the same spot a man’s bludgeoned corpse. As the London police swarm her worksite, ever inquisitive Pru can’t quite manage to distance herself from the investigation—much to the dismay of stern Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse. It seems that, much as he tries, even handsome DCI Pearse can’t keep Pru safe from a brutal killer who thinks she’s already dug up too much.

My Review:

The title is a play on words; the main character is a gardener who specializes in creating new and unique gardens, and there is a plot in one particular garden that leads to murder.

Pru Parke makes for a very different heroine, not because she’s 50, but because she has chosen that point in her life to pull up stakes, move to another country, and finds romance while she’s creating a fresh start.

For a middle-aged private female to get involved in a murder investigation has been done before, but that the woman finds romance along with the culprit is unusual, and fun.

Pru gave herself one year to try her hand at finding a full-time gardening position somewhere in England. She has savings to see her through, and a dual citizenship to make her eligible for employment in Britain. What she also has is a bunch of odd jobs that barely supplement her income and a year’s worth of rejection slips.

She’s just about given up hope when she discovers a body in the potting shed. Not her own potting shed, the shed belonging to her latest clients. And next to the body, there’s an exposed corner of a Roman mosaic. Too bad about the body.

As Pru winds down her gardening jobs, she can’t resist poking her nose into the mystery surrounding that corpse. Especially because she’s been adopted by the nice couple renting the potting shed (and the house that goes with it) and she can’t bear to see the way that poor Harry Wilson seems to be getting put in the frame for the murder.

And every time Pru looks just a bit further into the mystery, she finds herself tripping over the Detective Chief Inspector in charge of the case, Christopher Pearse. He wants her to get her nose out of his investigation, but that wish conflicts with his desire to get her into his life.

Meanwhile, time is running out on Pru’s sojourn in England, and possibly on her life.

Escape Rating B+: Pru Parke strikes me as a combination of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and China Bayles from Susan Wittig Albert’s series. The story has been described as being very “English”, and it does have that feel to it, very much as the Miss Marple stories do. Pru gets involved in everyone’s life, and develops lasting friendships with the people that she meets. At the same time, the murder that finds her has some very dark aspects, and there’s definitely a sense that she is under threat from fairly early on.

China Bayles in the Albert series is a professional gardener who owns her own herb shop in Texas, where Pru is from. China also falls in love with, and marries, a cop who investigates one of her early cases.

But the fascinating part of Pru’s investigation is all about that mosaic. There are lots of Roman ruins buried pretty much everywhere in Britain. A normal case often involves “follow the money” but here, it doesn’t start out to be money so much as the thrill of discovering something truly spectacular. Not that money doesn’t come into it–if the thing is real, the questions of who owns it and who is planning to sell it are paramount. And a huge part of the confusion about who really done what and why.

The romance isn’t “in your face”, instead it’s sweet and creeps up on the reader just as it does on the protagonists. These are two people who discover that they have something in common, enjoy each other’s company, sometimes drive each other crazy, and want a chance at something that’s real and better than what they’ve experienced in the past. They have patience and impatience in equal, and real, measure. It was great to see a couple who are older than 30 still capturing that marvelous flush of falling in love.

And solving crime together, especially because the solution wasn’t quite what I expected!

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.


This tour includes a Rafflecopter giveaway for a Grand Prize of a $30 egiftcard to the ebook retailer of the winner’s choice, and a First Prize Mystery Prize Pack of three mystery mass market paperbacks and a gardening title from Random House!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***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: King of Thieves by Jane Kindred + Giveaway

king of thieves by jane kindredFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: paranormal romance, M/M romance, fantasy
Series: Demons of Elysium #2
Length: 386 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Date Released: April 29, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Belphagor can seduce demons with a look and bring angels to their knees with a single motion, but when it comes to being in love, the Prince of Tricks is out of his element.

At every turn, Vasily rebels against the discipline he claims to want, even refusing to use his safe word. But when Belphagor uses a scheme to shut down an underage brothel to test Vasily s limits, he loses Vasily s trust along with the boys he intended to set free.

Uncovering a smuggling ring that spans two worlds, Belphagor calls on a team of Nephilim mercenaries to rescue the Lost Boys from earthly gangsters. But his relationship seems beyond repair and a heartbroken Vasily beyond his reach in the arms of a sensual demon named Silk.

Belphagor has more than enough grand schemes up his sleeve to bring down the smuggling ring for good. But when it comes to putting things right with Vasily, his bag of tricks is empty. Except for trust and a plan to teach his boy a lesson neither will soon forget.

Warning: Contains two strong-willed lovers who will test the theory that without air, there can be no fire. Expect plenty of smoke, more than a few mirrors, and an old-fashioned Russian duel. You may need a shot of vodka when you re done reading this one!

My Review:

prince of tricks by jane kindredKing of Thieves continues the emotionally explosive prequel to Jane Kindred’s amazing House of Ark’hangelsk trilogy. I don’t think it is possible to read King of Thieves, or you certainly lose the emotional impact, if you haven’t read Prince of Tricks. It’s even better, although not strictly necessary, to read the fall of the House of Ark’hangelsk, as told in The Fallen Queen, The Midnight Court and The Armies of Heaven.

But if you enjoy fantasy romance, particularly on the erotic side, why ever would you deny yourself such a marvelous treat?

The story that underlies King of Thieves is in the concept that nobility can be found in the darkest of places, and that evil can be discovered where there should be nothing but light. A grand game of not judging the book by its cover.

master of the game by jane kindredBelphagor is the demon whose heart lies at the center of all the books in this series so far. Prince of Tricks and King of Thieves, along with the forthcoming Master of the Game, are the story of how the demon becomes the person who saves the House of Ark’hangelsk, and with it, the supernal realms.

By the time of King of Thieves, we have someone who uses everyone and everything around him to achieve his ends. But those ends are not as selfish as they often appear to be.

He is also not used to having anyone he cares about enough to worry about their opinion of him or feelings about him. Even though in Prince of Tricks, he admits that he loves the firespirit Vasily, Bel has no understanding that loving someone means considering their feelings and letting them in.

A lot of the time that the story of King of Thieves is taken up with the mess that Bel makes of his relationship with Vasily, and vice versa. They both work together and against each other as they tug violently at the intensity of the bond between them, something that neither of them has ever experienced before and that they can’t seem to find a good way of working out.

And sometimes Bel really is an ass.

But there are much bigger fish to fry, and in a way that forcibly reminds the readers that the supernal realms are not the world we know, and the morals and prohibitions that hedge the human world do not exist in Raqia.

The sex trade is quite legal, as long as all the parties are of the age of consent. It is also quite legal for demons to sell their children. But those two things are not supposed to work together. Someone is selling children into sexual slavery, and Bel is determined to put a stop to the traffic.

No matter what it costs him in reputation, money or even Vasily’s trust. Something that he doesn’t realize he can lose, or that it’s a price that will be much too high to pay.

Escape Rating A: Belphagor says in the story that “There are worse things to lose than one’s good name.” Not that he has much of a good name, but there are some things he will not consider. Leaving demon children in slavery is one of those things.

The plot to expose the ring of slavers and the angelic purchasers who support the trade is long, convoluted and utterly fascinating. Even though Bel only reveals his inner self in very tiny bits, we see that the core is utterly protective of those he considers as under his protection–something that seems to include more of the demon enclave of Raqia than anyone who knows him would imagine.

He lies, manipulates, steals and nearly gets himself killed in order to save those children. But he’s so busy with his plots that he almost loses the love that makes life worth living.

What fascinates about Bel’s relationship with Vasily isn’t necessarily the sex, although that is plenty hot and laced with a kind of exchange of loving punishment that both consumes them both. It’s watching the way that trust, and the lack of it, drives them to both excesses of pride and intense doubt. The many variations of the ways that they love and hurt each other is riveting, but it’s the exchange of trust that turns out to be everything.


King of Thieves Banner

Jane is giving away a Bath & Body Gift Set: Heavenly Spa Retreat valued at $50 and a $50 Amazon Gift Card to lucky US commenters.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***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: Don’t Blackmail the Vampire by Tiffany Allee + Giveaway

dont blackmail the vampire by tiffany alleeFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Sons of Kane #2
Length: 156 pages
Publisher: Entangled Covet
Date Released: April 28, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Rachel Davis will do anything to get her sister out of a bad relationship with her fiancé. Even if it involves a few fibs, a little breaking-and-entering, and blackmailing the fiancé’s potential boss, Charles, for his help. So what if the handsome Charles happens to be a vampire?

Charles Wright has found the perfect way to trap the man threatening his brother’s wife: cozy up to him, get invited along on the skiing trip, and then search for incriminating evidence. How much better that audacious but gorgeous Rachel is just as eager to nail the bastard. As far as he’s concerned, there’s nothing wrong with a little blackmail between two consenting adults. Especially when it’s time for Rachel to pay up.

My Review:

Don't Bite the Bridesmaid by Tiffany AlleeDon’t Blackmail the Vampire is the sequel to Don’t Bite the Bridesmaid (reviewed here). As the titles indicate, this series is a fairly lighthearted take on vampires and paranormal romance.

Not that there isn’t some skullduggery involved, but it’s the good old-fashioned human kind. We’re just as capable as vampires of being rotten, with or without sharp fangs.

The fun thing about this series is that the existence of vampires may be a general secret, but it’s not specifically secret–the heroines in both books know perfectly well that vamps exist, because they know someone who nearly married one.

But I said this is a sequel, because the characters in this story were all introduced in the first book, and the story directly follows the last one. Or it appears to.

In Don’t Bite the Bridesmaid, Alice asks her hunky neighbor to be her pity date at her sister’s wedding. He’s taking pity on her because her sister is marrying her ex’ brother, and said ex is a slimy arse who she caught cheating on her with her ex-best friend.

Her neighbor Noah is the vampire in this equation, and the pity date turns out to be true love after all.

But all is not well; someone is threatening Alice by phone and email, and with specific knowledge of vampires. Everyone suspects her ex, because he’s just that slimy.

And that’s where this story comes in, because someone needs to get to the bottom of the death-threats, and Noah’s brother Charles elects himself as the charmer to charm the slime. But Charles isn’t the only one who wants to nail Brant for his sliminess, so he joins forces with Rachel, the sister of Brant’s new girlfriend, who just so happens to be that ex-best friend of Alice’s that he cheated with.

Everything follows from the first story. Except for Charles and Rachel. Rachel knows Brant is sleazy and slimy, but can’t convince her sister. So she “coerces” Charles to help her, by threatening to reveal his vampiric nature. Actually, threatening to reveal his plans to out Brant would have been more of a threat.

Charles goes along because Rachel is the first truly “interesting” woman he’s met in decades. He’s met beautiful, but really interesting and fun to be with have been in much shorter supply. She’s refreshing as well as beautiful.

Rachel, of course, thinks he’s too gorgeous to be remotely in her league, but she needs his help.

And it turns out that he needs hers, more than he thought possible.

Escape Rating B+: This series is tremendously fun. It’s an absolute blast because the people involved are not just easy to empathize with, but also people you’d like to sit down and have a drink with, or be friends with, in real life. (At least the good ones, Brant is definitely a slime ball).

Charles is not your typical dark and brooding vampire. He was a charming people person before he was “turned” and being a vampire has not changed his basic nature. He’s in this initially because he truly wants to help his brother and desperately wants to save his almost-sister-in-law.

So naturally he gets caught up in wanting to help Rachel too.

There’s a bit of the “fake relationship” story in here as well, and it works because it’s turned on it’s head and upside down. Rachel and Charles fake a relationship and then fake him being a selfish ass so that Rachel’s sister can see the same thing happening to her. But the fake relationship turns real, and the fake breakup only proves it to both Charles and Rachel, even though they both think they don’t have a chance long-term.

As Charles reveals more and more vampire secrets, he discovers that they do belong together, and that he needs her to solve the mystery he started with. Rachel just needs to trust in her feelings, and that’s damn hard for her to do. When she finally figures it out, it’s an ending that makes you smile.


Pump Up Your Book
Tiffany is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter on the tour. To enter, just fill out the rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***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 4-27-14

Sunday Post

hugo_smFor those of you interested in science fiction and fantasy, the nominations for the 2014 Hugo Awards were announced last weekend. If you enjoy the genre, purchasing a Supporting Membership in the annual WorldCon is always a bargain, even though you aren’t planning to attend the Con. Why? Because everyone who has a supporting membership gets to vote on the Hugos, and in order for the voting to be informed (or at least the possibility thereof) every supporting and attending member receives a packet of the nominated works in all categories in the ebook format of their choice. This year, in addition to Ancillary Justice, Neptune’s Brood, Parasite and Warbound, the ENTIRE Wheel of Time saga by Robert Jordan was nominated for best novel and will be included in the packet. All 14 volumes. A supporting membership costs $40 US, and it’s worth it just for the ebooks of the best novel category alone. But the packet also includes all the best Novella, best Novelette, best Short Story nominees, and etc., etc. It’s a steal.

And I hope that next year The Forever Watch is nominated. It was awesome.

Current Giveaways:

Dash of Peril by Lori Foster (print, US/CAN only)
Nightmare Ink by Marcella Burnard (5 ebook copies)
Ladder to the Red Star by Jael Wye (ebook)

Winner Announcements:

The winner of The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran is Mai T.

forever watch by david ramirezBlog Recap:

A+ Review: The Forever Watch by David Ramirez
B+ Review: Ice Red by Jael Wye
Guest Post by Author Jael Wye on Love and Mars + Giveaway
Guest Post by Author Marcella Burnard + Giveaway
A- Review: Dash of Peril by Lori Foster + Giveaway
B+ Review: Sing for the Dead by PJ Schnyder
Stacking the Shelves (86)



king of thieves by jane kindredComing Next Week:

Don’t Blackmail the Vampire by Tiffany Allee (blog tour review)
King of Thieves by Jane Kindred (blog tour review)
The Garden Plot by Marty Wingate (blog tour review)
The Collector by Nora Roberts (review)
Ladder to the Red Star by Jael Wye (blog tour review)

Stacking the Shelves (86)

Stacking the Shelves

If felt like more when I was downloading them. I wonder why? Not a bad week, all in all. I’ve nearly finished B.O.Q., and it looks like the start of a good mystery series.

And a friend has a story in Alternate Hilarities, so of course I had to get it!

For Review:
The Bastard (Baddest Boys in History #1) by Inez Kelley
The Buried Life by Carrie Patel
Master of the Game (Demon’s of Elysium #3) by Jane Kindred
Warrior’s Dawn (Fire and Tears #3) by Isabo Kelly
The Winter King by C.L. Wilson

Alternate Hilarities edited by Giovanni Valentino
Fires of Alexandria (Alexandrian Saga #1) by Thomas K. Carpenter
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older

Borrowed from the Library:
B.O.Q.: An NCIS Special Agent Fran Setliff Novel by N.P. Simpson
The Three Body Problem (Cambridge Mysteries #1) by Catherine Shaw

Review: Sing for the Dead by P J Schnyder

sing for the dead by pj schnyderFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Series: London Undead #2
Length: 95 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: November 4, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Kayden, a lone were-leopard allied with the London werewolf pack to keep the zombie infestation in check, is used to working solo—until he discovers a beautiful fae woman surrounded by the aftermath of battle. He’s immediately drawn to Sorcha, but quickly discovers she’s much more than a pretty face.

Half Bean Sidhe and half berserker, Sorcha trained over centuries to become the perfect warrior. She agrees to work with local weres to investigate a new type of zombie capable of coordinated attacks—and is partnered with Kayden. He’s strong, darkly handsome and completely unafraid of her. And his kiss fills her with insatiable desire instead of bloodlust.

As Kayden and Sorcha work together, their attraction grows and their deepest scars are bared to each other. But with the force behind the deadly new zombies poised to overwhelm the city, Sorcha can only pray that the next time her bloodlust strikes, Kayden isn’t among the fallen…

My Review:

bite me by pj schnyderSing for the Dead is the second book in PJ Schnyder’s London Undead trilogy, and reading it right after I finished Bite Me (see review) was terrific! I feel like I’m getting more answers to how this world got so messed up, wrapped inside a very interesting love story and edge of the seat action/adventure

London is going to hell in a handcart. The zombies roaming the city looking for food and fresh “converts” continue to grow in numbers, but even worse, there seems to be a new breed that is less brainless.

I’m not sure whether smart zombies are scarier than totally mindless zombies, but I wouldn’t want to find out. Organized zombies, run for your life!

We’ve met hero Kayden before; he is a were-leopard who is helping to patrol the post-zombie London with the werewolf pack we met in Bite Me. Leopards and were-leopards don’t normally make packs of their own, but the human part of Kayden understands the value of having people at your back that you can trust; while his were-side appreciates the value of banding together to fight the common enemy.

Even the best warrior in the world has to let down his guard sometimes.

Speaking of warriors, the heroine of Sing for the Dead is something different, Sorcha is half baen-sidhe and half berserker, which makes her all warrior almost all the time. Except when she collapses after her berserker side comes out to play.

Bean-sidhe, or banshees as they are more commonly known, have been considered omens of death. They keen for the recently deceased. But in this mythology, it’s only one part of what they do; they also comfort the injured and ease the soul’s passage to the next life. It’s a healing magic that Sorcha can’t share, because of her berserker side.

(For another take on banshees, or a particular half-banshee, try the terrifically fun Banshee Charmer by Tiffany Allee.)

Sorcha has come to London to investigate reports of fae deaths at the hands of the zombies. Not that everyone isn’t dying, but the deaths of the immortal fae are particularly ominous, especially when it is discovered that feeding the zombies fae blood makes the damn things intelligent.

Just what this post-apocalypse doesn’t need, smart running dead, instead of stupid walking dead!

But Kayden and Sorcha discover that they need each other; both as warrior allies and to light each other’s way in this very dark world. They both face demons from their pasts, but it takes a long while before they figure out that they are stronger standing together than they each are alone.

Escape Rating B+: It was great to find out more about the world that Schnyder has created; the deeper we get into it the more interesting it is. I hope that we find out how things got started, but the glimpses into the origin of the plague really make the overall story deeper.

Based on events in this story, it doesn’t seem like things have been bad a terribly long time. But the road to hell in the handcart has obviously gone downhill fast. It also seems like there is a wider world outside the London hellzone, and not just among the fae. The idea that there are human idiots coming to “big game hunt” the zombies is all too realistic, but I wonder about the conditions in the part of the world they are coming from.

Sorcha and Kayden’s romance starts out hotter than the romance in Bite Me, and it works. They are both experienced warriors who are used to fighting on their own and don’t expect any sweetness or softness in their lives. So their relationship starts out as sexual release, and moves slowly into love. Neither of them is used to relying on anyone else, and trust takes a while to build. This is a story where insta-lust morphs over time into love, and it’s the right thing for this pair.

survive to dawn by pj schnyderSing for the Dead is an action-packed adventure with a love story about two fighters who fight each other first, and for each other second. If you want to check out the third book in the series, Survive to Dawn, take a look at today’s review at The Book Pushers.

***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: Dash of Peril by Lori Foster + Giveaway

dash of peril by lori fosterFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, large print, audiobook
Genre: romantic suspense
Series: Love Undercover #4
Length: 480 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: March 25, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

To bring down a sleazy abduction ring, Lieutenant Margaret “Margo” Peterson has set herself up as bait. But recruiting Dashiel Riske as her unofficial partner is a whole other kind of danger. Dash is 6’4″ of laid-back masculine charm, a man who loves life—and women—to the limit. Until Margo is threatened, and he reveals a dark side that may just match her own.

Beneath Margo’s tough facade is a slow-burning sexiness that drives Dash crazy. The only way to finish this case is to work together side by side…skin to skin. And as their mission takes a lethal turn, he’ll have to prove he’s all the man she needs—in all the ways that matter.

My Review:

Lori Foster’s Love Undercover series comes to a smoking hot conclusion in Dash of Peril. If you enjoy your romantic suspense long on the romance and short on the suspense, this story is a winner.

And while it’s absolutely not necessary to have read the whole series to get totally into Dash of Peril, there is lots of input from characters previously introduced in the series that are much sweeter if you know all the players.

getting rowdy by lori fosterAlthough the romance starts almost as soon as the book does, this is not an insta-love story. Margo and Dash have been dancing around their attraction for each other since the second book in the series, Getting Rowdy (reviewed here). It’s just taken several months (and one more book) for things to reach a point where Margo is pretty much forced to acknowledge that whether or not she’s ever been taught that it is okay to need someone, she definitely needs Dash Riske, and for more than just his body in her bed.

This is where the suspense takes a second place to the romance. One of the parts of the overall story is that there used to be a LOT of corruption within the police department, a department where Margo Peterson is a detective and a lieutenant. Dash’ brother Logan is one of her trusted officers (his story was told in the excellent series starter, Run the Risk). Her other trusted officer, and Logan’s detective partner, is Reese Bareden, the human hero of Bare it All. (The canine hero is pretty awesome too!)

Bare It All by Lori FosterBut Margo’s father is the retired chief of police, and we discover that there is a cloud around his retirement. (Also that Margo’s family redefines dysfunctional).

There’s a case that fuels the suspense part of the story. Someone is kidnapping and drugging young women, and raping them while filming the entire disgusting episode for amateur porn. Two women are dead, and two other women will need years to get their lives back. Margo has been hunting for the perps.

Suddenly they are hunting her. There’s a contract on her life, and the way she discovers that there is a price on her head is when someone t-bones her car, on purpose in a smash and run. Only Dash’ presence on the scene saves her from being finished off right then.

Now that Margo is wounded (a concussion, her elbow is dislocated, and seriously ouch!) she needs help. And she needs an able-bodied person to stick around until she’s healed enough to get back to work and use her gun hand.

Dash has been trying to find a way into Margo’s life since she first let him be her unofficial partner in an undercover sting on this same set of villains.

Dash takes the opportunity to help Margo figure out that she can still be the alpha cop at work while letting herself be something else on her off-duty time. And that it’s important to have some off-duty time!

But while they are redefining their surprisingly hot and inventive relationship, someone much closer to home is bringing the bad guys to Margo’s door.

Escape Rating A-: I enjoyed Dash of Peril the most of the entire series, and I liked all of them! But this one I just couldn’t put down at all. As absolutely hot and sexy as Dash seemed to be, what really made the story for me was Margo. I could identify with the woman who had to be in such control at work, and with good reason, that she had a hard time letting go in any way when she wasn’t on the job. So she let her work consume her life and her identity.

Once she lets herself admit that she has feelings for Dash, he is able to get into her life, and help her to achieve, let’s call it a better work/life balance, where before she didn’t have any balance at all.

Run the Risk by Lori FosterThe way in which her family dynamics are totally screwed up gave me even more sympathy for her. Lots of people wouldn’t have done half as well. But those same family dynamics help obscure the identity of one of the villains, and in a way that keeps the readers guessing until the very end.

Dash of Peril also wraps up the long-simmering tension in the police department, and in a way that provides resolution for the characters and the reader.

As an added bonus, a couple of the great guys from Foster’s SBC series make a cameo appearance, as a way of kicking off (or punching out) the beginning of her next series, starting with Cannon, Rowdy’s friend and a very appealing side-character in this series. I can hardly wait!


Lori is giving away a print copy of Dash of Peril to one lucky commenter below (US/CAN only).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

***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.

Guest Post by Author Marcella Burnard + Giveaway

nightmare ink by marcella burnardMy special guest today is Marcella Burnard, the author of Nightmare Ink. I participated in a massive group review of Nightmare Ink over at The Book Pushers a couple of weeks ago. I loved the animal heroes in Nightmare Ink, especially the warrior-princess Ikylla, so I’m very glad to find out that she’s modeled after a real queen among cats!

Meet the Critters
by Marcella Burnard

Have you ever heard the advice to writers to never put anyone they know into a book? At least, not so they could be recognized? The point is to not get sued. I broke the rule. But at least if I’m sued, I’ll be able to pay my punishment out in kibble.

RileyIn NIGHTMARE INK, the heroine, Isa, has a dog and a cat. The dog, Augustus is a forty pound red heeler. He’s unique in that he’s a tripod – he’s lost one of his back legs. You never find out in the book that Gus was a rescue dog who’d had his leg badly broken and then amputated while he was still a puppy. But that is what happened. In real life. Gus exists. Except his name is Riley. He belongs to Emily Olesin and Alden Denny. Isn’t that a handsome smile? Never fear. Being a tripod hasn’t slowed Riley down much. He lived across the dock from me until he and his family moved to Norway. (Sniffle) You’ll find Riley, Emily, and Alden mentioned in the acknowledgements at the front of NIGHTMARE INK because I asked for permission to put Riley in the book before I actually did.

I tried to keep Gus’s personality a reasonably close match to Riley’s. They’re both super friendly, loving goof-balls with a willful streak. Gus is probably too sedate in the book. Red heelers want jobs. They’re too smart for anyone’s good and don’t take being left alone for long periods at all well. Enter Isa’s friend Nathalie who pet sits like I’d occasionally get to pet sit for Riley. Fortunately, I didn’t have to pet sit Riley for the same reasons Nathalie ends up having to pet sit Gus.

HatshepsutIsa’s feline companion has a real life analog, too. Her name is Hatshepsut. She owns me. She’s very clear which way that possession thing goes, rather like Isa’s cat, Ikylla. Granted, in the book Ikylla is a long haired rather than a short haired cat. But the attitude is 100% the same. One must greet the feline upon coming home. One must request permission before touching said feline. When protocol is followed, the reward is a purr bigger than the cat herself. Ignore the niceties and you end up with a cat wrinkling her nose in disgust, turning and stalking away, her tail twitching in irritation.

If you’ve read NIGHTMARE INK, or if you’re about to, there is a scene I can’t spoil – but Ikylla goes hunting. In case you’re wondering, yes, Hatshepsut is a fearsome hunter. In her own mind. Spiders are her preferred prey. When we lived in a house, she’d go to the garage to hunt and bring back HUGE European Brown House Spiders. Harmless. But did I mention BIG? These things are large enough that when my dear, sweet feline brought one inside and dropped it on my sleeping bag for me to play with, I woke up because I could hear it crawling up the nylon. Never got out of bed so fast in all my life.

Which critters of your acquaintance deserve to be immortalized in a story?

Marcella BurnardAbout the Author:
Marcella Burnard graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a degree in acting. She writes science fiction romance for Berkley Sensation.

Her first book, Enemy Within won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award for Best Futuristic of 2010. The second book in the series, Enemy Games, released on May 3, 2011.

An erotica novella, Enemy Mine, set in the same world as the novels was released as an e-special edition by Berkley was released in April 2012. Emissary, a sword and sorcery short story released in the two volume Thunder on the Battlefield Anthology in the second half of 2013.


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Marcella is giving away 5 ecopies of Nightmare Ink to lucky commenters on her tour!

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Guest Post by Author Jael Wye on Love and Mars + Giveaway

ice red by jael wyeI had an absolute blast reading Ice Red (see review), so I’m thrilled to have Jael Wye as my guest today. And she’ll be back again next week when I review Ladder to the Red Star. The first installment in her Mars science fiction romance did an excellent job of combining romance with great science fiction and tons of adventure. 

Love Saves Planet Mars!
by Jael Wye 

Science fiction romance is the greatest escapist fiction imaginable. It features adventure, amazing gadgetry, and settings that can blow your mind. But what makes scifi romance such a fantastic read is not necessarily of the scifi, but the romance.

Science fiction on its own can be rather grim, certainly in its modern incarnations. Back in ye olde space age of the 1950’s and 60’s, scifi generally portrayed a bright and shiny future we could all look forward to, a la Star Trek. But as the decades wore on, scifi visions got darker, like the gritty world of Alien. Now dystopias are much in vogue, depicting a future not many people would want to live in. So what might make a reader want to immerse herself in a scifi world anyway? The healing power of love, of course.

In a romance, the hero and heroine’s world is out of balance when the story begins, and only their union can set it right. This is true for all the subgenres of romance, though usually on a small, intimate scale. But in scifi romance the stakes are usually galatically high, and the love of the hero and heroine can literally save a planet.

In my book Ice Red, the hero Cesare and the heroine Bianca are all that stands between the people of Mars and the cruel schemes of Bianca’s powerful stepmother. When first Bianca and then Cesare are attacked and captured, it is their love that impels them to fight for each other, to conquer the villain who was disrupting their world and put their lives and Mars itself to rights again.

In science fiction romance love can save the universe, and that makes for not only exciting and satisfying adventure but also a profoundly optimistic vision of the future.

jael wyeJael Wye grew up on the American Great Plains, went to school in the Midwest, and now lives in beautiful New England with her family and her enormous collection of houseplants. For more of Jael’s unique blend of futurism and fairy tale, don’t miss her ongoing series Once Upon A Red World.

To learn more about Jael, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.



ladder to the red star by jael wyeJael will be awarding an eCopy of Ladder to the Red Star to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. So check out the rest of the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions!


Review: Ice Red by Jael Wye

ice red by jael wyeFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Once Upon a Red World #1
Length: 230 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: September 30, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Mirror, mirror, full of stars,
Who will claim the throne of Mars?

The princess: Engineer Bianca Ross, heir to a megacorporation and the Mars elevator, needs to acquire a mine on the surface to secure her place in the company. All that stands in her way is the mine’s charming owner, Cesare Chan.

The evil stepmother: Victoria Ross is plotting to gain control of Mars. She plans to assassinate Bianca and seduce Cesare to further her goals, and Bianca’s trip is the perfect opportunity.

The charming prince: Cesare shouldn’t get involved. Bianca’s visit could reveal the escaped slaves he’s hiding at his mine, but he can’t ignore a damsel in distress—especially one as beautiful as Bianca.

Alone, neither would stand a chance against Victoria. But together, they could rewrite a tale that’s meant to end with Bianca’s blood.

My Review:

Mars, Cinderella, and for one brief hilarious moment, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While this sounds like a fairy tale, it’s actually surprisingly entertaining science fiction romance. I say surprising because those original three things shouldn’t go together in the first place. But somehow they do.

There may be a tiny bit of Romeo and Juliet mixed in too. Bianca and Cesare certainly start out on opposite sides of the corporate fence: her company is staging a hostile takeover of his company. But it’s not really them; his father sold out to her stepmother. The question is why.

The Space Elevator is a tried and true SF device, perhaps even more venerable than the use of faster-than-light travel. In Ice Red, Bianca’s father invented the space elevator. He’s a self-absorbed genius who lets other people run his company while he continues to invent more cool stuff.

Unfortunately for both Max and Bianca, the “other people” who are running his company is Victoria and her goon squad. And back to the Cinderella trope, Victoria is the classic evil stepmother, complete with her own sick version of “mirror, mirror”.

Bianca has been trying to prove that she is a capable manager and administrator, worthy of being given real responsibility in the company that her parents created before her mother’s death. Unfortunately for her, she keeps trying to prove herself to one person who sees her as the ultimate rival, and another who stopped paying attention to anything years ago.

Cesare is just trying to keep the mining company that his father built. It’s not about the money, it’s about the people. Cesare has been investing corporate profits in rescuing all the Earth colonists who were lured to Mars with promises of good jobs, and found themselves on the cargo end of human trafficking operations. Trafficking where stepmother Victoria operated the shipping.

So Bianca wants real responsibility and Cesare wants to save his company, and all the people he’s rescued. Victoria wants to eliminate Bianca and takeover RedIce Mining. It’s really (and very disgustingly) clear why Victoria wants to eliminate Bianca, but her reasons for going after RedIce are hidden until the very end.

Just like the feelings that Bianca and Cesare develop for each other as they try to stay one step ahead of everyone who is out to get them.

Escape Rating B+: Ice Red is rock solid science fiction romance entertainment! It’s set in a not-too-distant future where Mars has been developed through the construction of a space elevator, but these are all familiar concepts. Mars, Earth and the space station that controls the elevator, Eris, are easily imagined places.

Considering the actions of Bianca’s stepmother, Victoria, I find the name of the space station to be particularly appropriate. Eris was the Greek goddess of chaos, strife and discord; all things that Victoria creates as a matter of business. And pleasure.

We get to know both Bianca and Cesare pretty well as the story progresses; it’s just long enough for good character development without letting up the break-neck pace. It was particularly easy for me to identify with Bianca’s desire to carve a place for herself in her father’s company, and her continued frustration with the way that Victoria and her father Max kept pushing her away. But she’s also been lonely and protected from the hard knocks of the world, and she needs to get out of the cocoon she’s been swaddled in.

Cesare has been hiding his heroism under the cover of being a wild cowboy. He needs to step into the light, and she needs someone to shake her up. They have terrific chemistry.

The villainy of Victoria was just a bit over the top. It reminded me of B Movie space operas, in a very fun way. She would have made a great cartoon baddie.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes next. Ladder to the Red Star, here I come!


***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.