Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, August 2012

I know, I know, it’s October, and Ebook Review Central is still talking about summer books. In this particular case, it’s the August 2012 books from Carina Press.

But hey, if the “Boys of Summer,” in other words, Major League Baseball, can play LONG into the NFL Football season, why can’t we keep talking about the summer books as long as we want–as long as they’re the good ones?

Based on the reviews, August was a pretty good month at Carina. At least the reviews were pretty tightly packed. Lots of titles in the 10+ review group, and then another bunch clumped at between 5 and 7 reviews. That 10+ gang made it difficult to pick the featured titles for the week, they were all excellent choices.

After reading over some of the terrific reviews for the books in that 10+ category, the three standouts, well, stood out after all.

First at bat this week is also the first book in L.B. Gregg’s Men of Smithfield series. When she originally released this contemporary male/male romance in 2009, the title of the book was Gobsmacked, and readers were absolutely gobsmacked from the opening scene of the story. Mark walks into church and whacks his boyfriend upside the head with a Bible for cheating on him and wiping out their joint checking account. Then he gets pulled over for speeding by the state trooper he’s always had a crush on. Carina Press has re-released Gobsmacked as Mark and Tony (the bible smacker and the state trooper) revised and with  new material added. Readers who read both versions say it’s even better the second time around.

Second in this week’s lineup is The Guardian of Bastet by Jacqueline M. Battisti. This urban fantasy/paranormal romance is one of the few times where the shapeshifter main character does not shift into a big powerful predator–Trinity becomes a house-cat. A feline who is also a witch, which makes her something very different indeed. Trinity’s little corner of the paranormal is about to be visited by something very evil, and only her peculiar mix of abilities that have never quite worked makes her suitable to inherit the responsibility of being the Guardian, and the power that goes with it. This one is terrific if you enjoy your urban fantasy with a touch of the snarktastic.

Rounding out this week’s roster we have title number three, a contemporary romance between a hopeless romantic and the anti-Cupid. The book I’m referring to is Planning for Love by Christi Barth, and it’s the first book in her Aisle Bound Trilogy. This trilogy is all about wedding planning, and in the first book, wedding planner Ivy falls in love with Ben, a guy who is allergic to love. This looks like comedy romance of the finest kind.


That’s it for this edition of Ebook Review Central. We’ll be back next time with the August 2012 titles from Dreamspinner Press.

Ebook Review Central, Hexapub, July 2012

This week on Ebook Review Central we have the multi-publisher wrap-up of July 2012. After this week, we’ll move on to the August titles for the publishers that ERC turns its eagle eye (or beady eye, take your pick) upon.

But until next week, it’s still mid-summer. I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, it IS still summer. We’re looking at the July 2012 titles from Amber Quill Press, Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver Books, and Riptide Publishing. Red Sage Publishing would normally be in that list, but they didn’t publish any new titles in July. That didn’t keep their titles from the previous months from garnering some new reviews, and the database has been updated to reflect those.

The surprising thing about this week’s featured titles is that Riptide did not run away with the reviews. They weren’t even in contention for running away with the featured list. Don’t get me wrong, they absolutely earned their first place spot on the list. Someone will need to pick me up off the floor the day Riptide doesn’t earn one place on the list, even with six publishers’ titles in contention. It’s just rare that they don’t look to take all three spots.

This week they weren’t even close to taking all three spots. First place however, was all theirs.

Cat Grant’s Doubtless, published by Riptide, absolutely ran away with first place. Any book that generates enough heat to get 21 people to post reviews (and remember that I’m talking about reviews outside of Goodreads and Amazon!) has got to be worth taking a look at. Doubtless is the followup to Grant’s May standout title, Priceless, another ERC feature, and follows the same characters. What Doubtless is not, as so many reviewers were careful to say, is a typical HEA. What it is, however, is a “compelling journey of self-awareness” as one reviewer so eloquently put it. Steve Campbell is professionally successful and personally miserable at the beginning of the book. It’s not until after his first encounter with Dylan Monroe, a confident and self-assured male escort, that Steve begins to realize that the reason he’s lonely is because he’s been looking in the wrong direction.

The second book in this week’s feature is also a sequel, and also from that same May list. Wilde’s Army by Krystal Wade is the second book in her Darkness Falls series from Curiosity Quills. The first book in this YA genre-bender (part paranormal romance, part urban fantasy) was Wilde’s Fire, and it was the absolute runaway of the May titles. It’s no surprise that so many of the readers who were caught up in the story of the girl who actually traveled to the magical world she dreamed of wanted to continue the adventure. And what an adventure it is! The adventure continues at an incredibly fast pace, and it’s even more difficult to figure out which are the good guys, and which are the bad guys. No one, and it seems like no one, can stand the suspense until book three comes out.

Imagine a world where your spine might be a precious commodity, but not necessarily the rest of you. Did a shiver just run up your…spine? That’s just a tiny hint of the action in Michael Shean’s Bone Wires, the third featured title this week, also from Curiosity Quills. Bone Wires is, dare I say it, a curious mix of Biopunk, Cyberpunk and dark science fiction with just that touch of urban fantasy. Or at least the part of urban fantasy that involves solving nasty crimes in an urban setting. It’s just that this particular setting is in the far future, and being a cop is a job that ranks somewhere below street-sweeping. Both involve taking out the trash in Shean’s not-so-brave new world. Shean’s description of a future America where police forces are operated not by the government, but by private corporations sounds, just a little too close to the possible.

So there you have it for this week, and for July 2012. One runaway feature for Riptide with Cat Grant’s Doubtless, and two solid hits for Curiosity Quills with Wilde’s Army and Bone Wires.

Ebook Review Central will be back next week with Carina Press’ August 2012 titles. It looks like I get to go back to baseball metaphors for a while. My hometown Cincinnati Reds clinched their division.


Ebook Review Central, Samhain Publishing, July 2012

I can always rely on the Samhain titles to present me with no lack of options for the featured titles. And this July 2012 list of Samhain’s publications is no exception.

Also, as usual, the retro romances didn’t get many new reviews.

But the books that did, really, really did.

The book that was on the most reviewers’ lists this month, by an absolute landslide (which makes it the number one feature this month!) was Dee Tenorio’s The Virgin’s Revenge, (book 4 in her Rancho del Cielo series). This one is a combination friends-to-lovers story, and a small-town romance. There’s also a major element of heroine needing to get out from under her overprotective family. Most reviewers remarked about how much they loved the humor of the characters, but with this many reviews (27!) there were a few reviewers who were less than enthralled. For the thumbs up, read The Book Pushers’ review; for the lukewarm take, see Dear Author’s take.

The second-place finisher this month happens to be book number three in Moira Rogers’ dark and gritty (also hot and sexy) post-apocalyptic and post-Civil War steampunk western series, The Bloodhounds. I’m talking about Archer’s Lady. The Bloodhounds series is a mix of good werewolves, bad vampires, and crazy chemical experiments conducted by mysterious forces that might be working for good. The Bloodhounds are lone wolves, until they find their mate, and Archer, well, he’s been sent to save a town, or die trying. If he dies,  as far as the Bloodhound Guild is concerned, that just eliminates a problem for them. The town schoolteacher helps him eliminate the vampire threat, but that schoolteacher is running from a past that’s just as checkered as his. For steampunk fans, this series is, pardon my very mixed metaphors, catnip.

The final featured book this week is a secret. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to tell you. That means Sierra Dean has done it again. Keeping Secret by Sierra Dean, the fourth book in her Secret McQueen series, has clawed its way into the third and final featured spot for this week. Secret is half-vampire and half-werewolf, and this story is all about her trying to get herself to her wedding to a werewolf king. But her royal werewolf uncle does not approve (in a major way). And there’s a love triangle involved. Well, there’s always a love triangle involved. Oh yes, and an assassin. Family dramas at weddings are standard. Assassins, not so much. Unless you’re Secret McQueen, and someone has a contract on you.

So this time out we have a very mixed bag of featured titles: a contemporary romance, a steampunk western, and an urban fantasy. The one thing they do have in common is that they are all part of ongoing series. Building an audience really counts!

And now, my ERC audience, I will bid you farewell until next week, when we’ll come back to take a look at all of the publishers in the Hexapost (Amber Quill, Astraea, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver, Red Sage and Riptide).

See you next week!


Ebook Review Central, Dreamspinner Press, July 2012

Welcome back to Ebook Review Central! In today’s post-Labor Day edition of ERC, we’re taking a look at the titles from Dreamspinner Press for July 2012. There’s a certain symmetry to that, isn’t there? July was the last holiday month, and here we are again, just after another holiday.

But before we move to this week’s featured titles, I can’t resist one more look at Dragon*Con. (I know, I know, you’re wondering when I’m going to stop) But this is relevant.

At Dragon*Con I had the pleasure of meeting Adrienne Wilder, one of the authors on this month’s Dreamspinner list, and listening to her read from Worth, one of her Gray Zone novels, published by Dreamspinner. One of the fantastic things about cons is the opportunity to meet authors whose works I’ve read, reviewed or featured.

But we’re here to talk about the July books, so let’s take a look at the featured titles. It turns out that this week’s features are all character-driven stories.

Sometimes there’s a theme. Sometimes there isn’t.

Coming in at number three this week is After Ben by Con Riley. This is a contemporary romance about loving, grieving, and deciding whether or not to open yourself up again, even though there might be pain, later. The title of the book is After Ben because this is the story of Theo Anderson’s life after the sudden death of his longtime partner, Ben. A year later, Theo is still trying to pick up the pieces, but he’s starting to live again, instead of merely existing. On the one hand, he feels a physical attraction for Peter, a fellow gym member. But the one who really challenges him is Morgan, someone he met through a political chat room. Online, no one knows who you are or what you look like, only how intelligent, and occasionally how snarky you are. Morgan becomes a friend first, and it’s only after their relationship develops online that Theo discovers that Morgan is half his age. Just as Theo was to Ben. He’s afraid that he’s been there and done that and isn’t sure he wants to do it again. Is love worth the risk? Is the joy worth the potential pain. Again and so soon? Readers thought that Theo’s struggle and all the characters in this story were genuine and authentic.

In second place we have another emotional piece, The Wish by Eden Winters. It starts off with another character who is dead before the book begins. Byron however, wants to influence the world he left behind. But he’s a ghost. So Byron helps his partner Alfred get their nephews to see how perfect they are…for each other. The problem is that Paul and Alex have known each other most of their lives, and seem to be the epitome of the cliche that familiarity breeds contempt, because they certainly hold each other in plenty of contempt. It takes a lot of ghostly interference, including a lot that backfires, to make this romance work out right in the end. But ghost Byron deserves his own happy ending, and there’s only one way that can happen. Have some tissues handy.

Speechless by Kim Fielding is the winner for this roundup. This is a quietly sweet story about two lonely men who have survived some of the worst that life can throw at them. They are two people who would ordinarily never have met, but accidents and circumstances have created a situation where they have a chance to break through the biggest barrier that separates them, one of them has aphasia and can neither speak nor write. But they need each other enough to find a way to communicate. If you’re motivated, even that’s not a barrier. But what happens when one of them has to leave town? One reviewer described this story as “cute with a side of angst”. Read it for yourself and see.

This week’s stories are all character-driven. Next week it will be Samhain’s turn at the wheel, and maybe we’ll have a different theme. Maybe every story will have a completely different spin.

Tune in next week and see what happens!


Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, July 2012

The July 2012 Carina Press titles, at least when it comes to which ones got the most reviews, could definitely be said to owe something to the “Fifty Shades” effect.

The hottest books — in the erotic sense — were also definitely the hottest titles in the reviewing numbers.

Fifty shades of tie-ins!  Although the popularity of the book opened doors for more books that show a kinkier side of sex, it also spawned products in areas that the author couldn’t possibly have dreamed of. This one from Etsy may be the furthest after “Laters, baby” as later can get.

I’d much rather (make that much, much rather) get back to the Carina books.

First, I’d like to give a shout-out to Natasha Hoar’s urban fantasy title, The Ravenous Dead, which was one of the featured for Carina last month. Its date of publication seems to have changed, so now it’s on this month’s list. But I can’t feature it again, dagnabbit! Because it absolutely earned a featured slot this month, too. But each book only gets one bite at the apple, and The Ravenous Dead have already bitten.

So who are this month’s featured titles for Carina? I’m so glad you asked.

The number one featured title was so far out in first place that the sheer quantity of reviews is worth mentioning. The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden attracted over 40 reviews, all good or better. Those are pretty big numbers for an ebook-only title. What was it about The Theory of Attraction? Yes, it’s a BDSM story like Fifty Shades, with the virtue that it’s a heck of a lot shorter. Ms. Dryden’s story is also a geek love story, with two socially awkward scientists as the hero and heroine. Lots of readers identified with the couple and their geeky social circle. The geek dom made for a different twist on the trope: the hero was intelligent but not super-rich. RT Book Reviews described it as “erotic romance done right.”

In the second position we have another erotic romance, and another boundary-stretching and review-grabbing title as well. Sharing Hailey by Samantha Ann King pushed at the erotic romance envelope in a different direction. Hailey has always had a crush on her two best friends, Mark and Tony. But Mark and Tony are best buds, and don’t want to mess up their friendship by forcing Hailey to choose between them. Solution: the three of them get together! It’s perfect until Hailey’s abusive ex returns and tries to spoil everything. This story has 29 reviewers behind it, so far, all of them generally thinking it was pretty good or better. Again, 29 reviewers is a lot of positive feedback. This one looks worth checking out.

It was much more difficult to decide on the third spot. Two books were very close. But by a whisker, the featured slot goes to Rogue’s Pawn by Jeffe Kennedy. Rogue’s Pawn is the first book in her Covenant of Thorns series, and it’s a contemporary fantasy/urban fantasy with a touch of fantasy romance. Gwynn the bored academic in 21st century America crosses over to Fae at Devil’s Tower Wyoming and becomes a powerful but totally untrained sorceress–one who nearly gets killed as a danger to herself and others in her first day on the other side. Everyone wants a piece of her, and everyone wants her to be their pawn. Only one fae, a trickster named Rogue, might possibly have some of Gwynn’s better interests at heart. If Rogue has a heart. This is one twisted, dark and decadent fantasy world.

If I were giving honorable mentions, and I can, one would go to Karen Erickson this month for A Scandalous Affair.

Ebook Review Central will be back in two weeks (no issue next week because of the Labor Day Holiday!) with Dreamspinner Press.

Ebook Review Central, Hexapub, June 2012

This is the Creepy Crawly edition of Ebook Review Central.

Why Creepy Crawly? Six publishers, six legs. Spider-post. (Yes, we saw Spider-Man last week. Not bad, not bad at all.)

But we’re talking publishers, and not necessarily superheroes, although there might be a superhero book in the bunch. You’ll have to check the database. Take a look at the Amber Quill Press, Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver Books, Red Sage Publishing, and Riptide Publishing lists for June 2012. Maybe somebody published a superhero book this month.

Even if they didn’t, you’ll have fun seeing what they did publish, and what reviewers had to say about it.

What usually strikes me about the multi-publisher issue of ERC is that there are generally a lot of titles, but not a lot of reviews. There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the “epidemic of niceness” in online reviewing. If you haven’t seen the original article, it was  posted in Slate.

Unlike the New York Times Book Review, bloggers are not paid to write reviews. So, as a group, we may only spend our time writing reviews of books we like. Also, as Barbara Hoffert pointed out in an essay at Library Journal titled F. Scott Fitzgerald, Best-Selling Ebooks, and the Problem with Online Book Talk, bloggers are “out there” in terms of protection from legal repercussions if an author doesn’t like what we say. Library Journal has over a century of history behind it. It has a business structure. Most importantly, it has lawyers to defend its employees.

So, some of that epidemic of niceness may be a case of the old adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. In which case, a ton of good reviews probably means that a book is at least a decent read (Think of how Rotten Tomatoes crowdsources movie ratings). But if no one is reviewing a book, it means something else. It might mean that the book hasn’t found its audience.

And it might mean that no one has anything good to say, so everyone is keeping their keyboards disengaged.

But there were books this week that generated plenty of reviews. Let’s talk about the featured titles for this week.

Clanking into third place this week is The Blacksmith’s Lover by Heather Massey. This is the second book in her Clockpunk Trilogy, after The Watchmaker’s Lady. It’s a short, intense, erotic story of Sarah, a young woman who escapes abuse at the hands of her employer to find refuge with a rather unusual blacksmith outside West Boylston, Massachusetts in 1840. Viktor doesn’t just make horseshoes. In his hidden workshop, he makes clockwork animals, steam-powered clockwork animals, and all manner of fascinating devices. Keeping the secret of his special crafting out of the wrong hands is the reason Viktor fled his native Russia. But once Sarah and Viktor start an affair, he uses his mechanical skills to defend her, even against a rival clockworker employed by her insane former employer. This steampunk story is hotter than the blacksmith’s forge!

Number two for this week wafts in on a puff of pipe smoke. Kissing Sherlock Holmes by T.D. McKinney and Terry Wylis is a new Sherlock Holmes case with one difference. Instead of Holmes being indifferent to his emotions, Holmes both gets engaged to a headstrong young woman AND embarks on a passionate affair with his friend Dr. John Watson. Oh yes, there’s a mystery to be solved, a tiny little thing about a sadistic blackmailer threatening to undermine the government. The idea that Holmes and Watson are in a relationship has been around forever. BBC’s Sherlock lampshades it at every opportunity. Most of the reviewers say that Kissing Sherlock Holmes does a reasonable job treating the relationship as a real possibility, with a couple of minor quibbles. Everyone seems to have solved the mystery too quickly. For a very funny, and snarky, opposing view of the book, read Julie’s review at Word Weary, it’s a scream.

It seems like it’s inevitable. The number one book this week is from Riptide Publishing. This week’s selection is Awakening by Cat Grant and Rachel Haimowitz, the latest entry in their Power Play series. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart. The Power Play series makes no apologies about playing with all four letters of BDSM; the two characters of this series, Jonathan and Brandon are in a consensual Dom/sub relationship, and in this second book of the series, Brandon has entered into a new phase of his relationship with Jonathan for a $3 million payout. It was the only way he could get Jonathan back. But to do it, he has to prove that he’s every bit the masochist that dominant and sadist Jonathan wants and needs. Because Brandon loves him that much. But it takes them both a lot of pain to get there. And not all of that pain, not by any stretch of the imagination, is physical.

Now it’s time for the spider to climb back to the center of her web until the next hexapost. Ebook Review Central will be back next week, when we’ll turn our gaze to the Carina Press July titles. I’ve found a Monster in My Closet, but no superheroes so far. Guess I’ll just have to keep looking.

Ebook Review Central, Samhain Publishing, June 2012

The wheel has turned back around to Samhain Publishing. This issue of Ebook Review Central features Samhain’s June 2012 titles.

When I collect the reviews for this feature, I always wish I could see the sales figures for the Retro titles. It seems as if by their nature they would be a contradiction in terms; any reader longing for the type of romance represented by the “retro” label would be the ones least likely to be an ebook reader. And I may be absolutely wrong.  But the lack of new reviews always makes me wonder.

Most of Samhain’s list did not suffer from a lack of new reviews. So much so that I was spoiled for choices of which titles to feature in this week’s list. In the end, there were three books “out standing in their field”. At least, this particular field!

The author of the first featured title has been featured on Ebook Review Central before. All the way back in December, Lorelei James’ Cowboy Casanova made the list. Her Rough Riders series is a guilty pleasure for a lot of readers, featuring hot cowboys, rough sex and happy endings along with a dose of small-town western ranching life. Her latest entry in the series, Kissin’ Tell, reads like a country and western song, with a woman coming home to face a high school reunion (and her cheating ex) only to find true love with a sexy cowboy and get the last laugh on the man who done her wrong. Even better, she gets that laugh with the one she let get away back in high school.


Howling in the number two position is Wolf Line, the fifth book in Vivian Arend’s Granite Lake Wolves series. Of course they’re werewolves, but who could imagine werewolves on a cruise ship? Even better, an all-shifter cruise!  The cruise director and the stowaway would normally make for a fun romance, but when you add in wolfish mating urges, it makes the whole thing even hotter. But before they can act on what their chemistry is telling them, Keri the cruise director has to solve the problem of some thefts on board her cruise ship, and unfortunately her stowaway mate is the most likely suspect. The whole Granite Lake Wolves series is just plain fun, so much so that reviewers say you don’t have to read them all, but you’ll want to!

Devil’s Gate by Thea Harrison is this week’s third featured title. This novella is part of her Elder Races paranormal romance/urban fantasy series, following after the novella Natural Evil. Both Natural Evil and Devil’s Gate are between the full-length paperback Oracle’s Moon and the upcoming Lord’s Fall. Harrison’s Elder Races series is about a very powerful, and very ancient, species of shapeshifters known as the Wyr, which began in May 2011 with Dragon Bound. The Wyr are ancient, which means their politics are convoluted as hell. Some of them seem to shapeshift into dragon-form, which means they hoard. To add to the politics, this world has vampires. Did I mention politics? This series has absolute legions of fans, but start from the beginning.

You wouldn’t think that modern cowboys would have much in common with werewolves or ancient dragons, but these three book do share one thing; they are all the latest entries in continuing, and very popular, series. The anticipation added up to increased attention, and more reviews.

Probably more sales, too.

But that’s it for Samhain for June. Ebook Review Central shifts its attention to a new target next week, the monthly six-in-one post. Does that make it a hex-a-post? A multi-post?

I have a question for you readers out there. What do you think about “retro” romances?

Ebook Review Central, Dreamspinner Press, June 2012

I have one thing to say about the June 2012 titles for Dreamspinner Press. Time is very definitely eternity, and so was this list.

In June, Dreamspinner published their summer “Daily Dose” set of shorter works, short stories, novelettes, novellas, all based around the theme of time travel. It’s a fascinating concept. And reviewers definitely agreed, because every single entry in the set got reviewed, usually by at least two reviewers. (The Advent set didn’t do quite as well with reviewers.)

But the advent (sorry, irresistible pun) of one of these sets increases the Dreamspinner list from the usual thirty titles to an incredible 60 titles for the month! Ouch.

It also seems to do a kind of “vote-splitting” similar to the academy awards. Or maybe attention splitting would be a better analogy. Regular readers (regular reviewers) have so many titles to choose from, that the reviewing attention divides among the larger number of menu choices.

Reviewers only have so many hours of reading time per day, and we all have to sleep sometime. (Darn it!)

But it means that in a month like this one, where there were so many reading choices, the ratings were very, very close.

The first featured title this week is Andrew Grey’s A Foreign Range. While this is the fourth book in Grey’s Range series, reviewers say it’s not necessary to read the other three to get caught up. On the other hand, you’ll want to read the other three, because they’re just that good. Country singer Willie Meadows is so tired of faking everything “Western” in his image that he buys a ranch in big sky country, Wyoming, under his real name, Wilson Edwards. Wilson wants to find some reality behind the glitter his life has become. Along with the ranch he gets Steve, a destitute young ranch hand, on the run from a gay deprogramming cult run by his own father. Steve turns the broken-down place into a real ranch, a real home, and they start to make a real life together. The only problem is that Wilson has been really deep into the closet to protect his career. And Steve’s dad sends the cult to come and get him.

The second featured title is about a different desperate young man and a different rescue. In Amy Lane’s Sidecar, the young man is Casey, and he starts the story as a teen, thrown away by his parents for being caught having sex with another boy. If their attitude seems outdated, it hopefully is, but this story starts out in the 1980s. Casey is picked up by Joe, a nurse (unusual profession for a man in the 1980s, slightly less so now) as Casey is preparing to jump off a bridge. Joe offers him a home, and friendship. The chance to see that it will get better. It takes Joe a damn long time to realize that the boy he offered a hand to in the 1980s has grown up to become a man who loves him.

Last but definitely not least, except for the pint-size of one of the characters in the book, is We Danced by Jeff Erno. In a small-town in Kentucky, Rex Payton is raising his nephew Tyler and keeping his late father’s bar afloat. His parents and sister died suddenly, leaving him with the bar, Tyler and no time for romance. Especially since for the sake of a peaceful small-town life, Rex is firmly in the closet. At least until Josh, the new veterinary intern comes to town. Their instant attraction changes all their lives. Because the most important person in Rex’ life is Tyler. And the most important goal in Josh’ life is finishing vet school, which he can’t do if he stays in their little town after his summer internship is over. And eight-year old Tyler isn’t used to sharing his “dad” with anyone.  (Tyra at Guilty Indulgence rated this one as an “Ultimate Indulgence”)

This week’s featured books were pretty much tied. Which made it very difficult to use any sort of Olympic themed medals (darn!) Come back next week for the Samhain June feature and see if we can’t do better at awarding Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.

Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, June 2012

Before I get into this month’s features, let’s talk about the 2012 RITA Awards. I swear it’s on topic.

The 2012 RITA Award Winner for Contemporary Single Title Romance, announced July 28, 2012 by the Romance Writers of America, was Boomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe, published by Carina Press in August 2011. Congratulation to Fiona Lowe, to her editor Charlotte Herscher and to her publisher Carina Press.

An ebook-only title won. The other nominated books, worthy contenders all, were traditionally published print books. I can only say, “Wow” or maybe shout, “WOW!”

But this is the Ebook Review Central issue for Carina Press’ June 2012 titles. Not that basking in the glory of that RITA win isn’t terrific. So, let’s fast forward to June and take a look at the newer titles. Maybe there’s a RITA winner in there, too.

The big winner, and the number one featured title, is Shannon Stacey’s Slow Summer Kisses. Even though this title isn’t in her Kowalski series (more Kowalskis starting in September!) that didn’t seem to matter to her fans. This novella, available separately and as part of the Carina Press Editors Choice Volume 1, contains all the hallmarks of a signature Stacey contemporary romance. Anna Frazier and Cameron Mayfield have been involved with each other before, and they have a second chance, not just at love, but also a do-over at life. The question is whether or not they’ll take it. If you like contemporary romance at all, give Shannon Stacey a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Book number two this week is The Ravenous Dead by Natasha Hoar. There are two things to understand about this book. It is straight-up urban fantasy, and not paranormal romance. Carina Press does branch out into genres other than romance, and The Ravenous Dead, and its predecessor in The Lost Ones series, The Stubborn Dead, reflect that branching. Speaking of the series, read the first book first; backstory for this tale of the Order of Rescue Mediums is required. And it was excellent in its own right. Rachel Miller, the main character and member of that Order of Rescue Mediums, doesn’t just see dead people, she gets the stubborn ones to ease on down the road to wherever it is they go next. The ones that really, really don’t want to go can get pretty nasty. Like trying-to-consume-the-medium nasty. Very dark magic requires very big rescue. Sounds like fun.

Coming in third this week, and appropriately so, is His Heart’s Obsession by Alex Beecroft. Third is ironically appropriate for this title because the story itself is about a love triangle. Three for three. What’s different about this particular triangle is that it takes place during the Age of Sail, the late 1700s, and that all three sides to this triangle are men serving in the British Royal Navy. Two Lieutenants, one Captain. Both of the junior officers are gay in an era when being found out would get them, not just cashiered out of the service they love, but killed in disgrace. The Captain is straight, and has no idea that one of his Lieutenants harbors an unrequited and totally unfulfillable passion for him. And the other LT? He’s in love with his fellow junior officer, a man who thinks he’s a privileged ass. A lot happens in this novella to turn this situation around to the real possibilities. Beecroft is know for his historical accuracy in addition to his ability to tug heartstrings and craft believable characters.

Any month where Shannon Stacey has a book, it’s really easy to figure out which title is number one. Which means that September, October and November probably already have  one slot taken, since that’s when the three new Kowalski books are coming out. I’m really looking forward to them!

Picking numbers two and three is often a horse-race. There are always a few books with close numbers of reviews and ratings. Take a look at the list and see if you can spot the runner-up. Leave your guesses in the comments, just for fun.

That’s this week’s feature. Congratulations again to Fiona Lowe and Carina Press on the RITA win!

Be sure to come back next week for Dreamspinner Press’ June 2012 titles. It will be a big list!

Ebook Review Central, Amber Quill, Astraea, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver, Red Sage, Riptide, May 2012

This Ebook Review Central issue covers the May 2012 titles for a whole host of publishers; Amber Quill Press (all its bits), Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver Books, Red Sage Publishing and Riptide Publishing.

And another month ends. Next week, we’ll start the June coverage and begin inching up on the calendar again, but not too close.

Because of the continuing mess surrounding the “Stop the GR Bullies site” and the whole discourse about whether posting a bad review, even a snarky bad review, constitutes bullying. I’d like to point out a very professional exchange of comments between one reviewer of Rachel Van Dyken’s Upon a Midnight Dream and the author, the publisher and the publicist. The exchange occurred at Books with Benefits and concerned both the book and the cover art. While the cover art review was intentionally snarky, the book review was well-written but not a positive review of the book. However, both reviews referred to the work and not the person and the entire discussion on all sides remained totally professional and positive in tone.

(For those looking for an interesting, well-written and snarky author’s take on this mess, I recommend John Scalzi’s post, “Bad Reviews: I Can Handle Them, and So Should You“)

Back to Ebook Review Central.

The number one featured book was a complete surprise. Curiosity Quills published one title in May. And, as is usual for them, it’s a genre-bender. Part paranormal romance, part urban fantasy, and a touch of YA. And it’s book one in a series, so there will be more. I’m talking about Wilde’s Fire by Krystal Wade, the first book in her Darkness Falls series. The concept is a classic; a girl dreams of a magical world, then leads her sister and her best friend through a portal, and discovers that magical world is real. But it’s not a dream, it’s a nightmare after all. Reviewers were all over the map on Wilde’s Fire, every rating imaginable from 5/5 to DNF (way more reviews on the high side!). But so very many people read it and wrote about it, equally passionately. When 32 reviewers take the time to review something, not including reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, it’s absolutely worth taking a look at.

Featured book number two this week is from Riptide Publishing. All four of the titles Riptide published in May were from their Rentboys Collection, but the one that stood out for the reviewers was Priceless by Cat Grant. This blend of three tropes really pulled at reviewers heartstrings because of the power of the writing. Trope number one is the nerd romance. Professor Connor Morrison is so busy with both his physics professorship and the technical firm that he and his best friend are trying to get launched that he doesn’t have time for relationships. He’s too busy and too driven. Wes Martin is a student at Connor’s college. With no scholarship and no family behind him, Wes does whatever he has to do to graduate, even hooking through a website. But they keep running into each other, some of those meetings orchestrated by Connor’s business partner. Connor doesn’t have time for a relationship, and Wes doesn’t want Connor to find out that some of his johns rough him up. A lot.  A major wake-up call about what’s really important in life, and some serious rescuing made this book shine for a lot of readers.

The final book in this feature is Dirk’s Love by Marisa Chenery, published by Liquid Silver Books. Dirk’s Love is book six in the Roxie’s Protectors series, giving it that built-in audience that often has reviewers chomping at the bit for a book. Dirk is a werewolf, and this story is absolutely a paranormal romance, but with a cyber twist. Dirk has created an online matchmaking service for werewolves to find their soul mates. It turns out that his one employee is his soul mate. Looks like the service works. The only problem is that Ryann’s ex-husband has other ideas. And when Ryann discovers that Dirk is a werewolf, it takes her a while to decide that the wolf is not a monster after all.

That’s a wrap for this week’s Ebook Review Central. We’ll be back next week with the Carina Press June 2012 feature.

I have a question for you! Can you think of a great title for this multi-publisher group post? The title up there is a really long mouthful. Please help me out by posting your ideas in the comments.