Guest Post: Tara Fox Hall on the Love of Books

I am very pleased to welcome Tara Fox Hall to Reading Reality. Tara is here on her Broken Promise tour. As part of the tour, I read and reviewed both Promise Me and Broken Promise (terrible completist, I hate starting series in the middle!) and the Promise Me series is a paranormal romance series with an interesting twist, the human heroine rescues the vampire, then the promises start getting made, and broken, over and over. 

But let’s hear from Tara about her love of books, and how she got started writing them!

The Love of Books: An Evolution 

A huge thank you to Reading Reality for having me here today!

I’m here today to promote Broken Promise, the second book in my paranormal romance Promise Me series. But before I get to that, I’d like to talk about my love of reading, and how I got hooked on books in the first place.

When I was in grade school, I remember loving my school library. Taking the long walk to the end of the school every Tuesday at 11AM, and the following hour when we could select books to check out. In those first years, I can’t remember many of the books I read, only that they almost always involved horses. Before I left grade school, I had read the entire Black Stallion series, including the Island Stallion books and related works, at least twice. I liked the library so much that I even entered the library’s weekly contest in my final year there, because I enjoyed the word finds and answering other questions about the books I selected. Much to my surprise, I got a library award at the end of the year, a small plaque I still possess.

My mother—as a teacher—was also the member of several book clubs for her class, and placed orders each month for books for her students. I remember being so excited each month to get the short double page pamphlet for each club, to see what was offered. Most times, my mom was able to get me free books, and I made good use of those coupons. I had a strict book budget of $10 a month, and remember deliberating over my choices, trying to stretch that to as many books as I could. In my later years, my mom would let me help her sort the books into piles with the orders. It was so exhilarating to see the piles, especially my own, form up. It was hard not to try to sneak in a little reading on the way home that night. But I still stuck rigidly to scary stories and horse stories.

Later on, in middle school and high school, my mother would take me to the public library near our house. It was there I picked up my first copy of Interview with the Vampire, and was forever hooked on vampires. That library was also where I discovered the many works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, and other horror authors. Eventually, I had read most of the books in the library that were horror…much to my lament. A year later, I was in college and working part time. The latter let me shift my habits to buying instead of borrowing, as I had money, but no longer the luxury of reading a book from cover to cover in a few sittings. Bookstores afforded many new delights, such as Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series, “other” Anne Rice Novels, Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World Series, and Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula series. Now my world had broadened to thrillers, horror, vampires, fantasy, and erotica. But there were still a lot of genres I wouldn’t touch….like romance.

As the economy tanked and the price of gas doubled, there was less discretionary income for books. To stretch my dollar even further, I began attending book sales, and also began buying used books through secondhand stores, yard sales, or anyplace they were cheap. Here I discovered a completely new world of books I’d never seen in the bookstores or libraries. It was here I discovered Michael Moorcock’s Elric, the Redwall series, and many new-to-me horror authors, like Andrew Neiderman and William Johnstone. I also tried a lot of genres I’d never tried before, like romance, true crime, western, action-adventure, and historical fiction.

Now is the next evolution in books: e-books! While I do not yet have a Kindle, I have the Kindle App for my computer, and I also enjoy books in PDF. Between reviewing for several sites and free e-books, I am awash in far more books than I can read. Like the other stages of my own evolution, I hope this one brings me even more new and exciting discoveries.

Tara is an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop in upstate New York. She has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a double minor in chemistry and biology from Binghamton University. Her writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Meseries. She divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.Visit her website or her Facebook page or her Goodreads blog, or follow her on Twitter.

Broken Promise by Tara Fox Hall


Shocked at Danial’s betrayal, Sarelle returns to her old home to consider her options. Yet even as Sar plans a reconciliation with Danial, Terian arrives, confessing his desire. When Theo witnesses Terian and Sar kiss, he angrily confronts Sar, leading to startling consequences. Will Sar’s heart choose Danial, Terian,…or Theo?


“Thank you,” Devlin said with a sigh. “Let us not speak of that. There is something that troubles me, Sar. There is more in your voice than sorrow when you speak of Danial. There is fear, too.”

“I’m not afraid of Danial,” I said quickly.

“Not this moment, no,” Devlin countered. “But at times I hear it, unmistakably. I expect you to fear me, but I find it odd you are scared of him. Tell me why.”

“We fought,” I said reluctantly.

“And?” Devlin prodded.

“He hit me.”

“Repeat your words,” Devlin said frostily. “And look me in the eyes as you say them.”

I turned to him defiantly. “He hit me,” I said bitterly. Then I turned from him again.

“I would not have believed it,” Devlin said slowly. “But you aren’t lying. Where and when did this happen?”

“In the face,” I said bitterly. “As for when, we were separated when it happened.”

Devlin fell silent, thinking.

I lay there in his arms, trying not to feel sorry for myself, trying to plan of what to say next, of some way to convince him to let me go. I tried scenario after scenario, and came up with nothing.

“That you were separated does not matter,” Devlin said suddenly. “You had taken an oath out of love to him, and he to you. It does not matter what you had done, or said. Oathed Ones are never to be struck.”

“I guess I picked the wrong brother,” I said sarcastically.

“Yes, you did,” Devlin said seductively. He turned me to face him, his hand on the side of my face. “I see no mark on your skin. When was this?”

Reluctantly, I grasped his cool hand in mine, and slid it upwards. “There is a tiny scar there from his ring.”

“Yes,” Devlin said, “I feel it.” He leaned in close, giving the scar a gentle kiss. “I’ll take him to task for this, Sar. You have my word.”

“Since when are you my champion?” I said sarcastically. “You kidnapped me. If you really want to help me, just take me home.”

“I’d love to take you home,” Devlin said meaningfully. He kissed me gently, his cool lips brushing mine.

“Stop.” I moved my head, breaking the kiss. “I meant my home.”

“Oh, kiss me,” Devlin said longingly. “There are several miles yet, and I’ve learned enough to know you are not oathed to Danial.” He raised his eyebrows in a meaningful motion. “I’ll restrain myself, I promise. We’ll wait to make love until later.”

Buy at Amazon

Review: Broken Promise by Tara Fox Hall

Format read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: Trade paperback, ebook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Promise me #2
Length: 222 pages
Publisher: Melange Books
Date Released: September 23, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s WebsiteGoodreadsAmazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Shocked at Danial’s betrayal, Sarelle returns to her old home to consider her options. Yet even as Sar plans a reconciliation with Danial, Terian arrives, confessing his desire. When Theo witnesses Terian and Sar kiss, he angrily confronts Sar, leading to startling consequences. Will Sar’s heart choose Danial, Terian,…or Theo?

Broken Promise picks up right where Promise Me, the first book in the series, leaves off. (This is a hint that this review will contain spoilers for Promise Me. It’s difficult to review book 2 of a series without revealing a few things about book 1.)

The title is also a hint and a half. Danial broke all of his promises to Sar. Over and over and over. Have you ever heard the old joke about the three biggest lies? Number 1 is the one about the check being in the mail. Danial, even though he’s a vampire, managed to break number 3. The one that goes, “I can’t get you pregnant”. He took some really magic potions so he could. The big problem was the he forgot to tell Sar. She found out when she miscarried. Then she left his lying arse. Of course, this was after she gave him her oath of loyalty. It figures.

And the vampire is possessive. Of course he is. It’s all part of the power trip. He may actually love her, but his definition of love is very last millennium. And then there’s Devlin the Vampire King, who just so happens to be his brother. And a little bit too bwahaha crazy into the bargain.

So Sar and her oath to Danial, along with Danial’s lying to Sar, get caught in Danial’s power battle with his crazy brother. A battle that’s been going on for centuries. They’re vampires.

And even though Sar has given her oath to Danial, she realizes that she made a mistake in more ways than one, because she either doesn’t love him or falls out of love with him.

All along, she’s had a terrific, bantering friendship with the head of Danial’s bodyguards, Theo. Except that the banter has been concealing some feelings that are much more than friendship. And Theo isn’t a vampire. He’s a were-cougar. Sar seems determined to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.

At least were-cougars are not immortal. Of course, that means that Danial might murder his former bodyguard. Unless the vampire king kills them all in a crazed fury first.

Escape Rating C+: For a widow who spent a year keeping to herself, once Sar got back into the game, she really got back into the game. That’s not a criticism of her deciding not to stay home and mourn, but she does have a tendency to leap before she looks.

Danial was a mistake, and Theo, while he may be a much better guy, she’s still staying in the supernatural world where she keeps putting her life in extreme danger. Adrenaline-junkie, maybe?

Then there’s the half-demon, Terian, waiting in the wings.

While Darian’s conflict with his brother, Devlin, created a lot of the external tension, and ratcheted up the suspense factor, Devlin’s motives, or Devlin’s insanity, seemed a bit too over-the-top for this reader.

I did like seeing how Sar helped Theo resolve his issues with being a were-cougar. There was a lot of healing in their relationship that worked well. I enjoyed their banter from the beginning of the series.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Promise Me by Tara Fox Hall

Format read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: Trade Paperback, ebook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Promise Me #1
Length: 269 pages
Publisher: Melange Books
Date Released: May 25, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

When young widow Sarelle McGarran finds the vampire Danial Racklan unconscious and hurt in her woods, intuitive concern quickly becomes passionate love. Together Danial and Sar work to overcome their own past heartbreaks, their vastly different lifestyles, and Danial’s relentless enemies. Yet Danial needs more; an Oath of forever. But can Sar give Danial his greatest desire?

The interesting thing about Tara Fox Hall’s Promise Me series is that the story of Danial and Sar points out one of the underlying problems of a relationship between vampires and humans–the power is always unequal.

You know that old saying that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”? Well, it’s true. Think of Eric and Sookie if you need another example.

It’s not that things start out badly, it’s that these two people have very, very different expectations. Sar expects equality. And trust. Although it’s terrific being swept off her feet, she knows that it won’t necessarily last. She’s a young widow because her husband died in a climbing accident. She knows all too well that life can change in an instant.

But Danial seems perfect. And perfectly overwhelming. Except that he’s a vampire. He tells her exactly whatever she wants to hear in order to get what he wants. A lifelong pledge of loyalty from her. The length of her life, of course, not his.

The only problem is that her love for Danial is based on the lies he has told her, and not on the truth. Because he only tells her the truth when he has no choice.

The reader knows their relationship is doomed. The questions are how long it will take Sarelle to figure it out, and how badly Danial will react when she does. And just how deep a hole Sarelle will dig herself before she starts having to dig herself out.

Escape Rating B-: I was glad that this wasn’t the typical vampire romance, although it started out that way. Danial seemed perfect to Sarelle, and she kept buying into it. Every time he did something that should have sent her running for the hills, she forgave him. Even worse, she got in deeper. She should have known better, and the warning signs were all there.

Of course, if she’d listened to her better self, there wouldn’t be a story.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Guest Post: Author Donna Del Oro on Cautionary Tales

Today’s special guest at Reading Reality is Donna Del Oro, the author of The Delphi Bloodline, a compelling (see review here) mix of romantic suspense and edge-of-your-seat thriller with just a touch of the paranormal.

Donna is here to tell us a bit about the ways she worked some of the current theories about psychic awareness into her fictional characters in The Delphi Bloodline.

Donna Del Oro: Behind THE DELPHI BLOODLINE; Questions about ESP

Sixty percent of Americans, according to parapsychology studies cited in the book, Psychic Awareness, claim to have had experiences they would call psychic. Those experiences might be: Hunches about your or someone else’s future; physical clues that alert you to danger or wrong decisions; intuitive feelings that guide you correctly through life; and/or receiving information through physical sensations, thoughts, visions or emotions. It could be a prickly sensation at the back of your neck about a particular person, place or thing. Or a warm feeling at the thought of a good decision. If you’ve experienced any of the above, then you’re in touch with your psychic abilities.

My heroine, Athena Butler in THE DELPHI BLOODLINE, has already moved beyond the “I know but I don’t know how I know” psychic awareness, where most of us are at. Through her gifted mother’s instruction and guidance, Athena—the modern-day descendant of an ancient, psychically powerful bloodline of women—knows HOW and WHY she knows. She’s a talented clairvoyant who sees visions and is able to access information simply by touching a person. This clairvoyance might take the form of reading that person’s thoughts or by seeing into that person’s past.

While this ability of hers has caused her to lose boyfriends—who resent her intrusion into their privacy—her clairvoyance also alerts her to danger. When a handsome stranger approaches her in a Reno hotel gallery, where she is painting dead celebrities like Elvis and Frank Sinatra, Athena shakes his hand. Immediately, visions of his dark, violent past assail her, warning her that he is an impostor and even worse, that he means her harm.

Thus begins a threat that forces Athena to flee for her life. With the help of Kas Skoros, a tall, dark-haired man who claims to be a Guardian of the Delphi bloodline, they begin a journey of running, hiding and finally fighting back. As more psychics all over the country continue to disappear, the FBI is stymied. What’s happening to these psychics?  Why are they disappearing?  Who’s kidnapping them?  Athena’s mother believes the mastermind has something to do with a White House dinner she attended months before.

The three remaining descendants of the bloodline—Athena, her mother and Kas’s mother—are the only ones who can uncover the truth behind these kidnappings.

So what’s the origin of such psychic abilities? Are these talents truly genetic, do they run in families, as I suggest in my novel?  Do they originate from an all-seeing God, as Athena’s mother believes? Do they come from an omniscient spirit world? Another dimension of energy as yet unexplored by man, as Athena believes? Or are they simply physical, biochemical reactions in the brain, as some neuroscientists suggest? Do brain waves play a role, as some parapsychologists have studied?

Sorry to disappoint you, but experts have no definitive answers to those questions. Theories abound and what I put forth in THE DELPHI BLOODLINE is just one theory. There are many theories about psychic abilities, but no scientific proof.

Not yet, anyway.

What the scientific experiments (and I include some of these experiments in my novel) do prove is that these abilities exist in varying degrees among all of us.  These are human abilities, like innate skills in art and music. Some of us can strum a few chords on a ukelele; others among us can write symphonies, like Beethoven and Gershwin. Some of us can paint by numbers; others become Titian, Michaelangelo and Da Vinci.

The true psychics among us—not the charlatans—exercise and develop their skills quietly and without fanfare or greed. For they know their gifts come with cautionary tales.

Like the cautionary tale in THE DELPHI BLOODLINE.

Review: The Delphi Bloodline by Donna Del Oro

The Delphi Bloodline by Donna Del Oro sucked me in from the very first page. There were a few points in the middle where I wondered, “Sucked me into what?”, but I couldn’t stop flicking the pages on my iPad. I absolutely had to know what happened next. The Delphi Bloodline is a little bit paranormal romance, a little bit romantic suspense, a little bit thriller, and there were a couple of moments where I thought I’d wandered into The DaVinci Code, but all of it will keep up long past your bedtime.

It all starts when Athena Butler has a dream that her mother is being kidnapped. Except that it’s not exactly a dream; it’s a vision in what Athena and her mother call “The Flow”, the stream of spirits. And Flow Dreams are prophesies –unless they are thwarted. Or misinterpreted.

Athena and her mother Annabella both have precognitive visions, and they both work with the police to help solve crimes. Or rather, Athena’s mother still does. Athena used to, but she’s been hiding out, somewhere that no one can find her. Even her mother only has a cell phone number.

Athena is tired of seeing death. Because that’s all the future holds.

But when even Athena’s warning turns out not to be enough to stop her mother’s kidnapping, Athena comes out of hiding. Or rather, her mother’s failsafe plan to protect Athena if something happened to her kicks into place.

A Guardian comes for Athena. Guardian with a capital “G”. And just in time. Someone is hunting every identified psychic. Every person who has ever assisted the police or any law enforcement agency using any type of extra-sensory powers.

And all the fakes are turning up dead.

Athena, and her mother, are descendants of a long line of women who have psychic abilities, all the way back to ancient Greece. There’s always been an Athena in her family. And there have always been Guardians willing to lay down their lives to keep women like Athena safe from people who wanted to harm them.

Keriakos Alexander Skoros (Kas to his friends) doesn’t plan to be Athena’s Guardian on anything other than a temporary basis. But her mother entrusted him with this task, and so, for that matter, did his own mother, another one of these psychics. But when it turns out that all the psychics in the U.S. are being targeted, Athena, her mother, his mother, all the others, Kas, a former cop, is on board for the duration.

But the longer he spends with Athena, the more he wants to take up the role of her protector, forever.

Athena doesn’t want anyone vowing to lay down his life for her. She’ll protect herself, thank you very much. She’s looked at the statistics, and she knows that Guardians generally die young. The longer she spends with Kas, the less she wants him to be her Guardian.

Which doesn’t mean she doesn’t want him around.

The FBI does not believe in psychic powers. But they do believe in serial killers. They don’t believe one little bit that Athena has any power whatsoever, but they can figure out that she’s one of the targets. Eventually.

They think she’s the perfect bait to trap the kidnapper.

Athena was worried that Guardians have a short life expectancy? The life expectancy of bait really sucks.

Escape Rating A-: The suspense aspects of this one are like the snowball going down the hill. Once it starts rolling, it never stops. The pace just gets faster and faster. Everyone involved becomes part of the action, which just gets more and more tense. Wow!

The romance takes its time to develop. It should be the wrong time for Kas and Athena. But they are so right for each other, if events can just slow down long enough for them to figure it out.

The big-bad villain may have been a bit over-the-top. Your mileage may vary. Believable villains seem to be difficult. The one element that really bugged me was Annabelle, Athena’s mother, and her long-standing relationship with, of all agencies, the Vatican. Would the Pope be using a psychic to predict when it was safe to travel? There’s more going on there, but it heads into spoiler country.

But if you’re looking for a fun mostly romantic suspense with a touch of psychic power, give The Delphi Bloodline a read. Be prepared not to re-surface until you’re done.