Review: Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison

Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar JamisonFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, paperback (included in On the Naughty List)
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Perfect Fit, #1.5
Length: 111 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Date Released: October 1, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

On the first day of Christmas, former wild child Dina Gregory returns home to New York on a mission: To find the father of her young son. Making him take responsibility for the child he helped create is the only thing on Dina’s wish list. Instead, she finds herself in an awkward run-in with his stuffy older brother, Ben.

Ben has never liked Dina. But he can’t help but admire her tenacity—and her bold beauty. Being trapped together during a holiday blizzard offers him a glimpse into what it would be like to have a family, and to fall truly in love. Could it be that Dina has reignited his Christmas spirit? The only thing Ben knows for sure is that her heart is a gift to behold…and he will never let go.

My Review:

It may be slightly early to start reviewing Christmas books, but this novella is such a treat that I couldn’t resist.

This is a combination of second chance at love with the old (but often good) trope about two people being snowbound together and finding out that they love each other after all.

Throw in a little of Dickens’ Christmas Carol and you’ve probably got the picture. And it’s a lovely one.

Ben Rowe has given up on Christmas, and pretty much given up on everything other than work, for the nine years since his wife died. Yes, he loved her, but there is a heck of a lot of guilt mixed into that love, and it seems like he’s punishing himself by becoming kind of a hermit.

A very hot and sexy hermit, but a hermit just the same. At least until Dina Gregory and her little boy Dash break into his isolation.

Because Dina’s little boy is also Ben’s nephew, one that he didn’t know existed. Not that his late brother Virgil didn’t get around enough to leave a whole string of children, but Virgil never mentioned Dash before he died, living fast as usual, in an accident.

He knew Virgil left behind a half million dollars in debts, but not a child. Ben’s picking up Virgil’s pieces just as he always has, but this is one piece that he didn’t know was there. But it’s one he really wants to pick up.

Dash looks just like Ben. Suddenly he feels as if he has a son. Or that he could. But the Dash package comes with Dina, a woman who thinks he never liked her. In fact, he liked her just a bit too much.

She blows into his life with her son, and the more they become involved, the more he realizes that he can’t go back to the empty existence that he used to have.

What he doesn’t count on is falling in love with this woman who is brash and outspoken and doesn’t take any crap from anyone. Dina might be willing to marry him to give Dash a father and a future, but only if her heart is not engaged.

Once it is, she realizes that she can’t settle for less than love. But Ben can’t seem to let go of his first wife, or his guilt.

Escape Rating B+: Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas is short and sweet, and full of hilarious banter between Dina and Ben. It’s not just that she knows what she wants, but she knows who she is and isn’t planning to change.

Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar JamisonThere is a lot of heartwarming in the story. We’ve met Dina before, in the first book in the series, Dangerous Curves Ahead (reviewed here) and she is much more the selfish villainess than a potential heroine. Having Dash changes Dina for the better, makes her much (MUCH) less selfish and self-absorbed.

But the events in Dangerous Curves Ahead have left her estranged from her family. Ben does something really terrific to mend that rift, but Dina has already made herself worthy of the mending.

Ben is the character who has a lot to get past in the story. The stick that seems to be stuck up his ass in the beginning has a lot of grief and a lot of guilt wrapped around it. Dash and Dina bring him back to life in a way that was sweet and sassy and kick starts him back to living again.

gentlemen prefer curves by sugar jamisonThe series continues in Thrown for a Curve (reviewed at The Book Pushers) and today’s review book over at The Book Pushers, Gentlemen Prefer Curves. While Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas does not feature the absolutely marvelous Perfect Fit clothing store, it was fun to see Dina reform and get her own happy ending.

***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: Ryder by Nick Pengelley + Giveaway

ryder by nick pengelleyFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: suspense
Series: Ryder, #1
Length: 293 pages
Publisher: Alibi
Date Released: September 30, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Ayesha Ryder bears the scars of strife in the Middle East. Now her past is catching up to her as she races to unravel a mystery that spans centuries—and threatens to change the course of history.

As Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare to make a joint announcement at the Tower of London, an influential scholar is tortured and murdered in his well-appointed home in St. John’s Wood. Academic researcher Ayesha Ryder believes the killing is no coincidence. Sir Evelyn Montagu had unearthed shocking revelations about T. E. Lawrence—the famed Lawrence of Arabia. Could Montagu have been targeted because of his discoveries?

Ryder’s search for answers takes her back to her old life in the Middle East and into a lion’s den of killers and traitors. As she draws the attention of agents from both sides of the conflict, including detectives from Scotland Yard and MI5, Ryder stumbles deeper into Lawrence’s secrets, an astounding case of royal blackmail, even the search for the Bible’s lost Ark of the Covenant.

Every step of the way, the endgame grows more terrifying. But when an attack rocks London, the real players show their hand—and Ayesha Ryder is left holding the final piece of the puzzle.

My Review:

This wild ride of an adventure story features a female combination of Lara Croft and Indiana Jones in a story that bears a marvelous resemblance to The Da Vinci Code, only with much better pacing and an edge-of-your-seat thrill-a-minute narrative.

In other words, I loved this book.

Ayesha Ryder isn’t quite Indy or Lara, but there’s certainly some resemblance. Including that Ayesha is chasing one of the same relics that Indy chased. In just as much danger but with slightly less success. At least so far.

160px-T.E.Lawrence,_the_mystery_man_of_ArabiaWhat Ayesha is really chasing is something left behind by T.E. Lawrence (yes, Lawrence of Arabia). Lawrence had documentation for a secret that the English monarchy will still kill to keep quiet. But more important than that, he left behind a secret treaty between Israel and Palestine that would have changed the face of the Middle East. If he hadn’t been murdered and the document suppressed.

In the 21st century, the current Israeli and Palestinian leaders are attempting to recreate Lawrence’s plans, without any firm proof that those plans existed. They both belief in peace so much that they are willing to put their lives on the line for it.

And there are plenty of forces on all sides willing to take those lives to keep them from redrawing the map.

Ayesha, a former refugee from Palestine, a world-reknowned expert on the Middle East and a former member of the Palestinian Fedayeen, finds herself on the run when her ex-lover is tortured and murdered to keep Lawrence’s papers from seeing the light of day.

She is chased through London by both MI5, determined to keep the monarchy’s secrets,  and Shamir, an Israeli organization dedicated to preventing the peace at all costs. While she is on the run, she is also running down the trail of clues that will finally lead to Lawrence’s papers. They may also lead to her death.

And possibly the death of the hope of peace for another generation.

Escape Rating A: While the stakes in the story are incredibly high, the story itself is amazingly fun!

Ayesha is on the hunt for documents that may or may not exist, and on the run for her life at the same time. She is never sure who she can trust, or what the old trail will lead her to.

Part of the fun of the story was following in T.E. Lawrence’s footsteps. Probably everyone has watched the movie at some point, so the history is familiar, and yet the implications of it have impacts echoing to today.

Ayesha is an amazing heroine. While I compared her at the beginning to Lara Croft, that isn’t strictly true, but it is close. Ayesha gets beaten, tortured and shot, but she always gets up and keeps going forward. She starts out the story grief-stricken, but her mind never stops searching for the answers.

Ryder american treasure by nick pengelleyThere are three threads to this tale; Ayesha’s hunt for Lawrence’s paperwork, the conference that is supposed to announce a new peace accord, and the increasingly violent and desperate attempts to stop that announcement. When everything comes together at the end, it’s a serious WOW!

I can’t wait for the next book in this series; Ryder: American Treasure. There is still a LOT of justice to be done.




Nick is kindly giving away a $25.00 gift card to the ebook retailer of your choice as well as a copy of Ryder! To enter, use the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 9-28-14

Sunday Post

I have this fear that one of these Sundays I’m going to forget to add “flavor text” and leave the XXX placeholder in the post when I post it. ARRGGHH!

You can tell that we’re entering the holiday season, because blog hops are busting out all over. Last week we were Stuck in a Good Book, and this week we’ll be looking at Books That Need More Attention. (Honestly, all books need more attention! So many books, so little time!)

Last week, I’ll say that Soulminder absolutely blew me away, and this week it looks like Ryder has done the same thing. When you read the review, you’ll see.

Current Giveaways:

5 copies of High Moon by Jennifer Harlow

Winner Announcements:

The winner of Beyond Coincidence by Jacquie Underdown is Vicki H.
The winner of the $10 Gift Card in the Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop is Sara Z.

soulminder by timothy zahnBlog Recap:

Excerpt and Giveaway: High Moon by Jennifer Harlow
Read Pink Blog Tour
A- Review: Soulminder by Timothy Zahn
B Review: Wanted: Wild Thing by Jessica Sims
B+ Review: Butternut Summer by Mary McNear
Stacking the Shelves (105)




Books-that-need-more-attention-Giveaway-HopComing Next Week:

Ryder by Nick Pengelley (blog tour review + giveaway)
Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison (review)
Books that Need More Attention Giveaway Hop
Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach (review by Cass)
Pie Girls by Lauren Clark (blog tour review + giveaway)

Stacking the Shelves (105)

Stacking the Shelves

More important than anything on my list, today is the last day of Banned Books Week for 2014. Banned Books Week celebrates the Freedom to Read. It can definitely be said that the Freedom of the Press that is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution means much less if people do not have the right to read the material that is published. And that’s true whether material is self-published, traditionally published, published in newspapers or magazines, or published on the internets like this blog post.

So check out the list of frequently challenged books at the American Library Association site, and celebrate your freedom to read by reading some of the books. There is something on the list to surprise, to intrigue, and even to offend, nearly everyone.

For Review:
Blame the Mistletoe (Montana Born Christmas #1) by Dani Collins
The Body Snatchers Affair (Carpenter and Quincannon #3) by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) by Gail Carriger
Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen
Echo 8 by Sharon Lynn Fisher
Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger
The Fire Seer (Coalition of Mages #1) by Amy Raby
Full Blaze (Firehawks #3) by M.L. Buchman
Full Throttle (Black Knights Inc. #7) by Julie Ann Walker
Ghosts of Christmas Past (Phoenix Institute #3.5) by Corrina Lawson
Ghost Phoenix (Phoenix Institute #3) by Corrina Lawson
The Heart of Christmas (Whiskey Creek #7) by Brenda Novak
Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney
Her Mistletoe Cowboy (Montana Born Christmas #3) by Alissa Callen
Holiday at Magnolia Bay by Tracy Solheim
Home for Good by Terri Reed
The Long Way Home by Kathleen O’Brien
Mistletoe Wedding (Montana Born Christmas #2) by Melissa McClone
Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Anthony Horowitz
The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #2) by Brian Staveley
Second Daughter (Dharian Affairs #2) by Susan Kaye Quinn
Snowbound in Montana by CJ Carmichael
Voyage of the Basilisk (Memoir by Lady Trent #) by Marie Brennan
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger
Waking Up Joy by Tina Ann Lorkner
The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones

Purchased from Amazon:
Peyton 313 (Cyborgs: Mankind Redefined #1) by Donna McDonald

Borrowed from the Library:
Festive in Death (In Death #39) by J.D. Robb
The Monogram Murders (Hercule Poirot) by Sophie Hannah and Agatha Christie
Seven Wonders by Ben Mezrich
Winter of the World (Century Trilogy #2) by Ken Follett

Review: Butternut Summer by Mary McNear

butternut summer by mary mcnearFormat read: paperback provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: women’s fiction
Series: The Butternut Lake Trilogy, #2
Length: 401 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Date Released: August 12, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Summer at Butternut Lake—a season full of surprises . . . and life-changing choices.

Preparing for her final year of college, Daisy is crazy busy now that she’s back at Butternut Lake. She’s helping her mother, Caroline, run their coffee shop and trying to build a relationship with the absentee father who’s suddenly reappeared. She never expected to fall in love with Will, the bad-boy from high school who works at the local garage. With every passing day she and Will grow closer to each other . . . and closer to the day they will have to say goodbye. As summer’s end looms, Will and Daisy face heartbreaking choices that might tear them apart.

Caroline already has her hands full trying to make ends meet at the coffee shop without having her no-good ex suddenly show up. Now that Jack is back, he’s determined to reconnect with the family he walked out on twenty years ago. But with the bank pounding on her door and Jack’s presence reminding her of the passion they once shared, Caroline’s resolve begins to crumble. As Daisy’s departure looms and her financial worries grow, Caroline just may discover the support she needs . . . in the last place she ever imagined.

My Review:

up at butternut lake by mary mcnearAfter having read both Butternut Summer and the first book in the series Up at Butternut Lake, I believe that Butternut Lake should be renamed “Second-Chance Lake”. A lot of people get some marvelous second chances at love in tiny Butternut, Minnesota.

We met Caroline and her daughter Daisy in the absolutely lovely Up at Butternut Lake. Caroline owns the local diner, Pearl’s, and everyone in town comes for breakfast (and lunch) at the place that serves the best blueberry pancakes anywhere.

In the first book, Caroline was just dealing with Daisy’s move to Minneapolis for college, and the empty nest syndrome was hitting her pretty hard. Even though that first book is someone else’s story, Caroline has a pretty big role to play, and we learn a lot about Pearl’s and Caroline’s life in Butternut. Caroline was a divorced single-mother, after Daisy’s boozing, gambling, floozy-chasing father left one morning and never came back.

He’s back. He’s also sober and wants a second chance with Caroline. She, of course, has damn good reasons for never wanting to see Jack Keegan again, but he seems to be back in Butternut to stay. Caroline doesn’t believe him.

While Caroline is trying to keep Jack out of her life, she’s also trying to eject Daisy’s new boyfriend Will from her daughter’s life. Will, one of the bad boys when Daisy went to high school, reminds Caroline much too much of a younger Jack. She wants to make sure that her daughter doesn’t make any of the same mistakes that she did.

But it’s a truth that you can’ t really keep someone from learning their own lessons and making their own mistakes. Gandalf was right, “The burned hand teaches best. After that, advice about fire goes to the heart.”

And while it is also true that you can’t make someone change, they can decide they want to change for themselves. Will in high school was a bad boy, but Will the adult is capable of changing, with the right incentive. And so is Jack. It’s just a question of whether Caroline can see it, before she damages her relationship with her daughter.

Escape Rating B+: Butternut Summer starts out as Daisy’s story (mostly) but becomes Caroline’s story somewhere in the middle, and it works really well. While Daisy’s romance with Will is similar to a pattern of “bad boy reforms with the love of a good girl”, it’s a little more than that.

Not so much that Daisy and Will start out on opposite sides of the tracks, because neither family is wealthy, but that they start out with very different sets of expectations in life. Daisy is focused on studying and making a career for herself. She’s expected to go to college and achieve.

No one seems to have ever given much of a damn about Will, and he’s drifting through life with no goals. He’s not actually bad in any material way, but he’s not exactly good either. But when he meets Daisy again, he starts looking to become something more than he has been, and do something with his life. He wants to be worthy of Daisy, of being her first love, her first everything. He wants to become someone she can build a life with.

Daisy changes from overachiever with only one purpose to a more rounded individual. She still wants her career, but she also wants to have a real life to go with it.

One of the scenes I enjoyed was when Will tells Daisy that her ideas of him following her around were great in Butternut, but that he has to be more and do more for them to be together. They both grow up.

At the same time that Daisy is experiencing first love, her mother Caroline has to deal with the love that never really died. Daisy has been in contact with her runaway father, Jack, and he has changed since he ran. He still loves Caroline, but she is rightly skeptical that he’s any different than he was 20 years ago.

The difference for him is that he’s admitted he’s an alcoholic, and has been participating in AA for two years. His first hurdle is to get Caroline to see that he was an alcoholic when he left, and that his terrific job at covering up created some of the bad behavior she experienced.

And that he was a cowardly ass who needs her forgiveness.

Jack’s struggle is hard, as it should be. It takes a lot for Caroline to forgive him, and she’ll never forget. Nor should she. But his redemption makes their second chance very sweet.

If you love small-town romances, you’ll definitely want to take your own trip to Butternut Lake.

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: Wanted: Wild Thing by Jessica Sims

wanted wild thing by jessica simsFormat read: paperback provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Midnight Liaisons, #4
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Date Released: August 26, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Ryder is hiding a dark secret from her coworkers at Midnight Liaisons. Every time she’s sexually attracted to a man, her dragon side breaks through. Not exactly man-bait! But she needs to lose her virginity before her twenty-fifth birthday, or she’ll become a dragon forever.

Her solution? Big, hunky Hugh, the appointed guardian of her chastity. He’s clearly hot for her, but he has powerful reasons to resist Ryder. Can temptation—and love—possibly find a way?

My Review:

This is kind of a “fish out of water” story. Actually there are multiple fishies out of multiple waters by the time this story (and the series?) is wrapped. As wild and crazy as the universe of Midnight Liaisons is, it turns out there are plenty of creatures and problems that they still have to discover.

beauty dates the beastBeauty Dates the Beast introduced Midnight Liaisons, a dating agency for supernaturals. It turns out that the things that go bump in the night really do exist, and they have just as much trouble finding someone to bump in the night with as us normals.

The crew at Midnight Liaisons started out as human, while the clientele they serve is anything but. However, by this point in the series, we’ve watched as human Bathsheba became the mate of an alpha were-cougar; her sister Sara is discovered to be a forceably turned werewolf, and assistant Savannah is a werewolf who exposed the dark side of the gender imbalance between males and females in the werewolf and other supernatural populations.

We always guessed that Ryder was something other than human, but Ryder has done an excellent job of concealing her true nature, partly because she isn’t sure of it herself. All she knows is that whatever she turns into is nasty, messy and ugly, and it comes out every time a guy touches her with lustful intent. Which makes Ryder a 24 year old virgin with a huge problem–if she doesn’t lose her virginity by her 25th birthday, she thinks she’ll be stuck as her ugly self forever.

Everything Ryder knows about herself is wrong. The truth is mostly worse.The story is in the path Ryder takes as she fumbles her way into finding a future for herself that she wants, in spite of her “issues”.

Ryder is a changeling, which throws the Fae into this story in a big way. Changelings are bred, like pets, in the Fae realm. But the Fae realm is pretty lethal to anything not Fae, so Changelings are farmed out to human families who are none the wiser that their child has been substituted.

Ryder thinks she’s a human who changes into an ugly gargoyle. In fact, the change is her natural form, and the closer she gets to her 25th birthday, the more beautiful her supposedly ugly (and slightly draconic) form gets. Except she’s too convinced that she’s ugly to see the changes.

The Fae responsible for her origin comes to claim her, and she finally discovers bits of the truth about herself. The Fae is planning to take her back to his realm and breed her like a poodle, but he has to wait until her 25th birthday for her transformation to be complete.

She needs to lose her virginity before that same 25th birthday, or the Fae will take her away. With threats, blackmail or magic, whatever works. Her Fae “master” leaves a guard with her to make sure she stays virgin until the appointed day.

Of course she falls for the bodyguard, and vice-versa. But the Fae are blackmailing him, too, and with a prize that she can’t compete with; but only if the Fae are telling the truth. Do they ever?

Escape Rating B: I enjoyed this story, even though there were more than a few times I wanted to slap Ryder upside the head and tell her to get a clue. And to hit Hugh upside the head with a clue-by-four while she was at it.

Ryder’s human parents died when she was young, so she doesn’t know whether she got whatever she’s got from them or not. She feels she has a horrible ugly secret, and she’s been keeping it completely secret from everyone since her first period.

Because she thinks her secret is so ugly, she spends her life and her very considerable energy in complete denial. Everything she has or does is overly cute to make up for the ugliness she hides.

She’s also a sucker for anyone who will give her a scrap of information, even if it’s mostly a lie. But as a sucker, she’s in good company with her unwilling bodyguard, Hugh.

She thinks he’s a shifter. While she’s correct, he doesn’t shift into any animal that’s been seen in the wild since before the last Ice Age. He and his people have been kept isolated from the rest of the universe(s) by Fae magic, and only brought out to do Fae dirty work.

That he and his people have also been lied to by the Fae is obvious to the reader fairly early on.

Once you get past their belief in the lies, the reaction of Hugh and his people to 21st century life on Earth is often hilarious. His confusion about the way the world works is something that Ryder is able to exploit to the fullest extent.

These are two innocents, wandering lost together trying to find a way forward that eliminates the threat to their independence and happiness. It’s almost surprisingly that they actually manage to find it.

***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: Soulminder by Timothy Zahn

soulminder by timothy zahnFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: science fiction
Length: 283 pages
Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Date Released: September 23, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

For Dr. Adrian Sommers, a split second of driving while distracted leads to tragedy—and obsession. His family destroyed, he devotes his entire being to developing Soulminder, a technology that might have saved his son as he wavered on the edge of death. Sommers’s vision is to capture a dying person’s life essence and hold it safely in stasis while physicians heal the body from injury or disease. Years of experimentation finally end in success—but those who recognize Soulminder’s possibilities almost immediately corrupt its original concept to pursue dangerous new frontiers: body-swapping, obstruction of justice, extortion, and perhaps even immortality.

My Review:

Soulminder completely surprised me, and I mean that in a good way. It’s the first thing I’ve read by Timothy Zahn, but I doubt it will be the last.

This one makes you think, one of the goals that science fiction often aspires to but does not always achieve.

What if you could live forever? What if anyone could live forever, if they were rich enough, or lucky enough (or unprincipled enough)? How would society change if signing up for immortality was just an extension of your health insurance?

Soulminder is a story about the road to Hell being paved with excellent intentions. Even humanitarian intentions. But it also shows how, as another saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And I realize I’ve probably corrupted the quote, but with good intentions).

Dr. Adrian Sommers spends ten years of his life searching for a way to preserve the human essence, call it life force or soul, while the body is being repaired. He sees it as a way of sparing other parents the anguish he suffered when his little boy died, not because he had a deadly disease, but because he suffered in his injuries in an accident where conditions meant that they couldn’t be reached in time.

If his Soulminder existed, David’s “soul” could have been trapped until his body could be rescued and treated.

The tragedy for Dr. Sommers is that when he finally brings his dream to fruition, it turns into a nightmare. A nightmare that presents him with daily ethical dilemmas and puts him in the direct path of every governmental bureaucracy and intelligence agency on the planet.

His engineer partner doesn’t care about the ethics, she just wants to make money and grab her own slice of immortality.

So Sommers watches as his dream is perverted from a better way to treat accident victims and cancer patients into, among other things, a way of creating mindless slaves and a rent-a-body industry.

Until he finally manages to draw a line in the sand, and make it stick. No matter what the cost. Money and power are, after all, not worth selling his soul.

Escape Rating A-: This is a hard story, because everything goes wrong. Even worse, it all goes wrong in ways that are easy to predict once the snowball starts rolling down the hill. It’s the cycle of action and reaction that kept me enthralled.

I knew things would only go from bad to worse, but it’s the way they go that’s inventive. Immortality as a commodity was, perhaps is, bound to produce some serious inequities, but the ways in which the original device is perverted sometimes beggar the imagination. Until they happen in the narrative, and then the reader thinks, “of course they would”.

And Sommers keeps saying that it can’t go on, or further down the path to hell, and then buries his head in the sand again. He’s a smart man but seldom owns up to the fact that his partner is keeping him distracted on purpose. It’s easier just to let her.

The political infighting, and the moral quagmires, kept this story interesting. Occasionally, it felt like the episodes of various events weren’t completely connected. They felt like snapshots more than a complete narrative, but the overall picture was stark and clear.

***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.

Read Pink Blog Tour

ReadPinkLogoRead Pink® in Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Support the Next Chapter in Innovative Research

Penguin Random House Marks Five-Year Partnership Milestone and $125,000

in Donations to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®

What’s black and white and pink all over? The initiative by Penguin Random House called Read Pink® in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October)!

Today the scientific community has left behind the “one-size-fits-all” breast cancer treatment to emerge with targeted, more effective therapies. As a result, after remaining stagnant for more than 50 years, the death rate from breast cancer has decreased by 30 percent. The Read Pink® initiative by Penguin Random House is proud to be part of this exciting new chapter in the fight against breast cancer, supporting the bold research of The Breast Cancer Foundation® (BCRF), while leveraging its passionate readers to help increase awareness and education about the disease. This literary embrace of a life-saving cause has resulted in nearly 1.5 million best-selling novels shipped with Read Pink seals and information about BCRF across all five years of the promotion.

Penguin Random House is thrilled to partner once again this year with BCRF, as 91 cents of every dollar spent by BCRF is directed towards breast cancer research and awareness programs.

The $25,000 donation that Penguin Random House contributes, regardless of sales, provides vital funds to support the mission of BCRF.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Penguin Random House’s Read Pink® editions, we are featuring a few participating authors and what Read Pink® means to them…

Beatriz Williams (2014 Read Pink® Spokesperson), A Hundred Summers

hundred summers by beatriz williamsEvery life lost to breast cancer leaves behind a hole that can never be filled again: a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a grandmother. I’m so grateful for organizations like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation for their efforts to find a cure for this devastating disease, and honored to support breast cancer awareness, detection, and research through Penguin’s Read Pink®  program in 2014. With your help, we can move closer to the day when breast cancer leaves behind only survivors.”

Karen White, The Time Between

Since 1989, death rates from breast cancer have been decreasing due to earlier detection and improved treatment because of the efforts of organizations like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Books have always been an important part of my life, and I am honored that my book will be part of Penguin’s Read Pink program that supports breast cancer awareness and research through reading. It is my greatest hope that through efforts like this we might find a cure within my lifetime.”

Nora Roberts, Sea Swept and The Witness

Read Pink The Witness Hi ResTo all the moms and daughters, wives and sisters, lovers and friends, Read Pink is here for you and yours. Help support breast cancer awareness and the strong, brave women who fight or will fight this disease and Read Pink in October.”

Catherine Anderson, Perfect Timing

anderson_layouts.inddI am so delighted to be included in the Read Pink campaign again this year with Perfect Timing being featured, along with so many other great books, to raise funds for breast cancer research. I can remember when a diagnosis of breast cancer was often equivalent to a death sentence. Nowadays, the survival rates have increased greatly, and I personally know women who have prevailed over this terrible disease. Sadly, I’ve also known a few women who lost the battle. So I call upon all of you to join ranks with me and countless other women in a war to defeat breast cancer. ‘Read Pink! Buy books bearing the Read Pink logo as gifts for the women you love.’ By standing together as sisters, we have it within our power to make a huge difference!”

Jayne Ann Krentz, Dream Eyes

Read Pink Dream Eyes Hi ResThis is the time of year when we celebrate the progress that has been made in the battle against breast cancer and acknowledge the work that lies ahead. No, we aren’t there yet. There’s a long way to go. The greatest weapon we have to fight this disease is research and research costs money. That is why this breast cancer awareness campaign is so important and why I am proud to participate.”

Marie Force, I Want to Hold Your Hand

Untitled-1I’m so thrilled to be part of the Read Pink effort to help raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research. I hear frequently from romance readers who tell me my books and those of other romance authors have helped them get through breast cancer treatment. I want to hear from fewer of them in the future. I want to hear they took our books on fabulous vacations rather than treatments. Please Read Pink in October to support all the courageous women fighting this disease and to fund critical research. Thank you for Reading Pink!”

Full List of 2014 Participating Authors:

  • Read Pink The Heart of a Hero Hi ResJojo Moyes, The Last Letter from your Lover
  • Karen White, The Time Between
  • Nora Roberts, Sea Swept and The Witness
  • Jennifer Chiaverini, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
  • Beatriz Williams, A Hundred Summers
  • Wendy Wax, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey
  • Catherine Anderson, Perfect Timing
  • Marie Force, I Want to Hold Your Hand
  • Janet Chapman, The Heart of a Hero
  • Lisa Gardner, MacNamara’s Woman
  • Jayne Ann Krentz, Dream Eyes

Mark your calendars and remember to join in the conversation with @BerkleyRomance and @PenguinGroupUSA on Twitter in October. Make sure to use the hashtag #ReadPink!

For more information about the Read Pink initiative and to view a complete list of the participating retail outlets, please visit

Excerpt and Giveaway: High Moon by Jennifer Harlow

I’m not quite finished with this book, so my review will be posted later. I really enjoyed the first book in Jennifer’s other series set in this same universe; What’s a Witch to Do, so this looks like fun. Please enjoy this excerpt from High Moon by Jennifer Harlow to see if you agree.

high moon by jennifer harlow

Chapter One- Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

Watching the man you love suck face with a gorgeous woman is not the best way to start a birthday. Welcome to my world.

He sits at a back booth, lips and every other body part pressed against that succubus, appearing to love every second and caress, the rat bastard. And how can he not be? The evil slut queen of doom has everything I don’t. Long, straight hay-colored hair, big blue eyes, big breasts, long lean legs, tight body all encased in a skintight black dress clinging to her perfect curves that only a plastic surgeon could ever recreate on me. I’ve envied women like her all my life, and now that succubus has my future husband in her enticing clutches. Literally. An actual succubus is clutching his soft brown hair and kissing him as if her life depended on it. Which I guess it does—as she feeds off sexual energy to live—but still. Does he have to frigging enjoy the whole experience so much?

Continue reading “Excerpt and Giveaway: High Moon by Jennifer Harlow”

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 9-21-14

Sunday Post

First, be sure to check out the Stuck in a Good Book Blog Hop. The hop ends on September 25, so you still have a few days to get in on all the terrific prizes. (I’m giving away a $10 Gift Card).

On Saturday I was part of a fabulous panel at the Gay Romance Northwest Conference about getting books into libraries. The whole program was terrific (as usual) and it’s great to have a chance to help authors get their books into libraries. Just because it’s arcane doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to make it happen!

Current Giveaways:

$10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card in the Stuck in a Good Book Blog Hop
$30 Amazon Gift Card from Jacquie Underdown

Winner Announcements:

The winner of Harbor Island by Carla Neggers is Vicki H.

liar temptress soldier spy by karen abbottBlog Recap:

B+ Review: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott
B Review: Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin
B- Review: Truth or Dare by Mira Lyn Kelly
B Review: Beyond Coincidence by Jacquie Underdown + Giveaway
B- Review: Must Love Fangs by Jessica Sims
Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop



ReadPinkLogoComing Next Week:

High Moon by Jennifer Harlow (excerpt and giveaway)
Read Pink Blog Tour
Soulminder by Timothy Zahn (review)
Wanted: Wild Thing by Jessica Sims (review)
Butternut Summer by Mary McNear (review)