The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 2-8-15

Sunday Post

Last weekend I was in Chicago for the American Library Association Midwinter Conference. Yes, Chicago in January. And it snowed. The 5th largest snowfall in recorded Chicago history. I used to live in Chicago and let me tell you, Sunday night the streets were as deserted as I’ve ever seen them. Next January in Boston. OMG.

One of the reasons I went to the blizzard was to participate in the ALA Notable Books Council. We spend two or two and a half days locked in a room together picking the 25 or 26 best books of the year, at least according to the collective us. Although the timing of the awards program couldn’t have been worse (in the middle of the blizzard and just as the Super Bowl was kicking off) the books we selected are awesome. If you enjoy literary fiction and excellent non-fiction, you might find something on the list for you. I hope so.

share the love hopCurrent Giveaways:

$10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card in the Share the Love Giveaway Hop
Stuffed dragon from Rhys Ford in her Black Dog Blues tour

Winner Announcements:

The winner of The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller is: Kate I.

beneath a trojan moon by anna hackettBlog Recap:

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford
B+ Review: Ghosts of Christmas Past by Corrina Lawson
B Review: Rough Rider by Victoria Vane
A- Review: Beneath a Trojan Moon by Anna Hackett
Share the Love Giveaway Hop
Stacking the Shelves (121)



accidental empress by allison patakiComing Next Week:

The Promise by Robyn Carr (review)
Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb (review)
Death of Yesterday by M.C. Beaton (review)
The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki (blog tour review)
Death of a Liar by M.C. Beaton (review)

Review: Rough Rider by Victoria Vane

rough rider by victoria vaneFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: contemporary western romance
Series: Hot Cowboy Nights #2
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: February 3, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Two loves …
Janice Combes has two loves, bucking bulls and Dirk Knowlton. But Dirk only has eyes for a dazzling rodeo queen. How can Janice ever compete while mired ankle-deep in manure? Exchanging playful banter with Dirk is all Janice can expect-until the stormy night he knocks on her door dripping wet and needing a place to crash.

Different Dreams…
Dirk Knowlton is living the cowboy dream. Life should be good-roping, branding, backing broncs, riding bulls, but there’s a void he can’t seem to fill. After getting hung up by a bull, he wonders if this is really the life he wants. Restless and rebellious, he bolts…but there’s a certain cowgirl he can’t forget.

When a battle-scarred Dirk returns to his Montana ranch he’s determined to hang on at any cost. Janice has come back home to lick her own wounds. When old dreams turn to dust, can two wary hearts take another chance on love?

My Review:

slow hand by victoria vaneWhile I enjoyed this story, as usual a lot because it’s Victoria Vane, I will say that this is definitely one of those books/series where you really need to have read the first book (Slow Hand, reviewed here) before you start this second one.

Having read both, it feels like Slow Hand takes place in the middle of Rough Rider. Literally in the middle. Half the action in Rough Rider is in the past, and shows us some of the reasons that Dirk and Wade’s relationship is so fraught at the beginning of Slow Hand.

Wade married Dirk’s just-barely-ex, way back when, because she was using the two brothers to get at each other. But she’s dead and since they can’t settle it with her, they keep beating up on each other.

In Slow Hand, Wade is finally able to make peace with his past, which makes it possible for him to work things out with Dirk.

In Rough Rider, we get both the story of how Dirk got to be his curmudgeonly self at the beginning of Slow Hand, and how he finally gets beyond it by going back to some of his own unfinished business.

Ironically, it was never about Rachel, the rodeo queen who was looking for some cowboy arm-candy and a way to just keep on getting what she wanted. Dirk always had someone else in his rear-view, and the regrets that were eating him alive were all about Janice Coombs and not about Rachel Carson.

What we get in Rough Rider is the story of Dirk, Janice and Grady, Dirk’s rodeo circuit roommate. Janice was not one of the rodeo queens. Her father bred bulls for the events. She fell for Dirk way, way back, when she was just a little girl and he was a seemingly grown-up teenager. But she never grew out of that love, even though she felt she had no chance against the prettied-up Rachel. Janice was just one of the stock hands around the rodeo, and half the time the cowboys didn’t even see her as a girl.

Grady saw her as a meal-ticket. Her father owned a nice little ranch, and Grady was looking for a way to stay on the gravy train when he was forced to hang up his spurs. Dirk, on the other hand, saw a lovely young woman who needed protection from Grady’s not-exactly honorable intentions. He also saw a woman much more genuine and real that the always-made-up Rachel.

But Dirk doesn’t believe that men and women can be just friends. He’s sure that sex always comes into it sooner or later. And between himself and Janice, he’s right. Dirk turns to Janice for comfort, and then can’t figure out why he can’t stop thinking about the night they shared.

He also can’t make up his mind what to do about it until it is too late. He plays the “come here go away” game with Janice just a bit too long, and isn’t there for her when her father is diagnosed with cancer and her world falls apart.

Grady steps in and marries Janice, while Dirk takes his regrets and his empty heart to the Marines. On his second tour he steps on an IED, and loses his leg and any desire to he ever had for happiness. He retreats to the ranch to become an occasionally nasty recluse.

Janice has a child, loses her father and the ranch, and eventually loses the husband she never should have taken on. Or been taken in by. She comes back home, ten years later with a young son and a ton of regrets.

Her biggest regret is that she and Dirk never figured out what they might have together. But in spite of everything that has happened in between, it still might not be too late. They just have to start from who they are now.

Until one last secret threatens to break them apart – again.

Escape Rating B: As I said at the beginning, Rough Rider feels incomplete without having read Slow Hand. While there is a part of me that wonders if Rough Rider shouldn’t have been released first, I can also see why it wasn’t. Slow Hand has a very clear beginning middle and end. It is complete in itself. While it is interesting getting more of the background, the detailed backstory wasn’t necessary to enjoy Wade and Nikki earning their happy ending.

However, a big chunk of the impetus for Dirk’s turnaround is in Wade’s story. Not necessarily the details, but that Wade finally letting go of the past and Rachel’s death allows the brothers to relate to each other in the here and now and stop having the past continue to screw up the present.

The fascinating thing is that after reading the beginning of Rough Rider, it’s clear that most of what is eating Dirk is in his own head, and his own past, and doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Rachel after all. She becomes more the excuse for the brothers’ long-running feud than the actual reason.

Dirk is mostly just kicking himself for his own separate mistakes. He’s also a lot uncertain about his own worth after his disfiguring and disabling accident. The bear retreats to his cave and sucks his hurt paw, rather than letting anyone in to pull some of the painful thorns.

Because Dirk’s relationship with Janice starts in the past, when they go from zero to boiling hot in 60 seconds it doesn’t feel like insta-lust. More like the lid finally blew off a long-boiling pot. But Dirk’s redemption and turnaround would feel a bit too quick without the knowledge of what happened in the first book.

The story ends on a reveal that involves one of my least-favorite tropes. It also didn’t feel necessary for Dirk, Janice and Cody to become a real family for them to become a real family, but others may feel differently.

Still, for anyone who read Slow Hand and needs to see Dirk’s story get resolved, Rough Rider tells a good story of simmering love that finally gets its day.

***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 2-1-15

Sunday PostYou may be planning to watch the Super Bowl sometime today. I’m at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Chicago, and wondering if the entire place is going to shut down at 5:30 pm CST. Probably not the city, after all, it’s been a long time since the Bears made it to the big show.

SFRGalaxyAwards_iconIf you’re planning to read through the game, or at least the pre-game hoopla, I’d like to make a suggestion. Yesterday, the 3rd annual SFR Galaxy Awards were announced. If SFR is your thing, there are some great reads suggested for your delight and amusement.

If your preferences run to  literary fiction and nonfiction, the ALA annual book awards will be presented at 5 pm on Sunday. While that may not be the best choice of timing for the program, the list will still be current after the game, and the books are all winners.

Current Giveaways:

The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the $10 Amazon Gift Card in the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop is: Mira A.
The winner of Through the Static by Jeanette Grey is: Raymond S.

on a rogue planet by anna hackettBlog Recap:

B+ Review: Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman
B+ Review: The Chance by Robyn Carr
A- Review: On a Rogue Planet by Anna Hackett
B+ Review: The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller
Q&A with Linda Lael Miller + Giveaway
B+ Review: Ghost Phoenix by Corrina Lawson
Stacking the Shelves (120)



share the love hopComing Next Week:

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford
Ghosts of Christmas Past by Corrina Lawson (review)
Rough Rider by Victoria Vane (review)
Beneath a Trojan Moon by Anna Hackett (review)
Share the Love Blog Hop

Q&A with Linda Lael Miller + Giveaway

Linda Lael Miller’s Parable Montana series got me hooked on contemporary western romance. I loved the series so much, that I was thrilled when she continued to feature stories in the nearby Bliss County. The Marriage Pact (see review) was lovely, and today’s review book, The Marriage Charm, is a terrific way to keep up with people I really enjoy. Here is a  Q&A from Linda Lael Miller, all about The Marriage Charm.

marriage charm by linda lael millerQ: In The Marriage Charm, Melody Nolan falls in love with Chief of Police, Spence Hogan. Spence has a reputation that he’ll never settle down. Is his reputation deserved? And just what is it about Melody that has grabbed the attention of womanizer Spence Hogan?

A: Spence has actually cultivated his reputation as a player, in order to avoid settling down, and it’s served him well—until now. He and Melody were in love, years before, but the time wasn’t right for marriage; Spence knew that, but Melody didn’t. Now, following their mutual friends’ romantic wedding, the old attraction is back.

Q: Female friendships play an important role in The Marriage Charm. Do you have female friends that support you the way Hadleigh and Bex support Melody?

A: Oh, yes. I have a number of very close female friends, people I can confide in, and most of them go way back. I wouldn’t know what to do without these strong, smart, funny women. Through all the ups and downs, we’ve always been there for each other.

Q: Melody is a talented jewelry designer and her pieces sound absolutely gorgeous in the book! Did you do research on jewelry design and jewelry making before writing the scenes where she’s working on some of her creations?

A: Some research, yes. I’m an artist myself, and I love beautiful jewelry, so this career made sense for Melody.

Q: There’s some real danger—and mystery—in The Marriage Charm. How did you decide to work suspense into this story? Was it always a natural part of the plot or did you want there to be some mystery involved?

A: Sometimes an element of suspense fits the story and characters, and I decide to go with it.

Linda Lael MillerAbout Linda Lael MillerThe daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than one hundred historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, the self-confessed barn goddess now lives in Spokane, Washington. Linda hit a career high in 2011 when all three of her Creed Cowboys books—A Creed in Stone Creek, Creed’s Honor and The Creed Legacy—debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.Linda has come a long way since leaving Washington to experience the world. “But growing up in that time and place has served me well,” she allows. “And I’m happy to be back home.” Dedicated to helping others, Linda personally finances her “Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women,” which she awards to those seeking to improve their lot in life through education.More information about Linda and her novels is available at her website. She also loves to hear from readers by mail at P.O. Box 19461, Spokane, WA 99219.


Linda is kindly giving away a copy of The Marriage Charm to one lucky winner! (Contintental U.S. only) To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller

marriage charm by linda lael millerFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, hardcover, audiobook
Genre: Contemporary romance, Western romance
Series: Brides of Bliss County #2
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: January 27, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

The women of Bliss County have a pact—to find husbands. The right husbands.

One already has: Hadleigh Stevens, who married rancher Tripp Galloway a few months ago. Now Melody Nolan thinks it’s her turn. Melody has recently found success as a jewelry designer, and her work is the focus of her life. She’s not exactly unhappy, but she wants more. She’s always been attracted to Spence Hogan, the local chief of police, but she’s convinced that Spence, a notorious charmer, isn’t what you’d call husband material.

Spence is a good cop who isn’t scared of anything—except love. And he’s done everything he can to preserve his reputation as a womanizer—a reputation that keeps marriage-minded women, including Melody, at bay. And yet…there’s something about Melody he can’t forget. Something his heart can’t ignore.

My Review:

Bliss County Wyoming is a place where second chances at romance turn into happily ever after on a wonderfully regular basis. It’s also a place where lifelong best friends don’t just stay friends, but help each other find, or maybe finally recognize, the loves of their lives.

Of course, nothing wonderful ever happens without a few challenges along the way.

marriage pact by linda lael millerIn the first book in this series, The Marriage Pact (reviewed here), we meet Hadleigh, Bex and Melody, three women who have been friends all their lives. Now that they are all pushing 30, they make a pact – none of them are going to settle for second-best. They all want the whole thing, happy marriages with men who adore them, and whom they love completely in return. Children if they want them, but most importantly, a marriage where they never feel like they settled for anything less than someone who loves them unquestionably as they are, successful and happy with themselves and who they have become. .

Melody, the jewelry maker among them, makes them each a charm bracelet to symbolize the marriage pact. In that first story, Hadleigh finally recognizes that her happiness lies with the man who slung her over his shoulder and carried her out of her first attempt at a wedding. Tripp was right, Oakley was no good. It takes them ten years to admit they belong together.

Sheriff Spence Hogan slings Melody over his shoulder to rescue her and her impossibly high heels from Hadleigh and Tripp’s wedding reception. It’s not the first time Spence has swept melody off her feet. Ten years ago, for one glorious summer, Spence and Melody were everything to each other. But Melody was still in college, and Spence did the right thing and let her go.

Unfortunately for him, he let her down by refusing her offer of marriage. Since that awful day, Melody and Spence have tried their best to avoid each other whenever possible – difficult in a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business.

The wedding of their best friends has thrown them back together, and made them both think, not about what might have been, but about what might yet be now that they are both adults and more sure of who they are and what they are going to be.

The road to a possible happy ever after has more than a few roadblocks. Spence’s refusal of Melody’s long-ago proposal has left her untrusting of men in general, and Spence in particular. Spence has spent the last decade looking for a woman who might take Melody’s place in his heart – and everyone in town knows just how wide that net has been cast, even if they didn’t know the reason for it. Spence has acquired quite the reputation as a player, a fact that doesn’t engender any trust in Spence’s motives when he pursues Melody again.

Not that Melody runs very fast, but just because they still have amazing sexual chemistry (and way more knowledge about what to do with it) doesn’t mean that they are both heading down the same road.

Melody wants a happy ever after or nothing. Spence’s refusal all those years ago wasn’t all that tactful – enough to make Melody sure that he isn’t ready to settle down with anyone, including her. And she has zero interest in being a notch on what is rumored to be Spence’s well notched bedpost.

Adding a little zest and some serious danger into Spence’s and Melody’s mutual pursuit is an antiques thief who is robbing anyone in town who might have some antiques or even just unique and valuable items in their Mustang Creek homes. While the thief is targeting any home where there are antiques on the mantle, he or she seems to have a special vendetta against Spence and Melody. Or maybe because Spence is finally after Melody.

While Spence is glad of the excuse to get Melody to move in with him, he’s seriously concerned about the series of thefts on his watch, and the very real danger to the woman he loves.

Escape Rating B+: Just like Thunder Point in Robyn Carr’s series (see Tuesday’s review of The Chance), Mustang Ridge is one of those places that sounds like it would be terrific to live in, especially if you want to live in Big Sky Country. The town in the heart of Bliss County seems almost, but not quite, too good to be true. And the people are terrific.

One of the things that is great about this series is the celebration of women’s friendships. Hadleigh, Bex and Melody really are BFFs forever. They grew up together and with each other. Even though their lives are changing, they still make time for each other and support each other. They also tell each other the unvarnished truth, the kind that you may not want to hear, but that you need to hear. In the end, they’ll support each other even when one of them (in this case Melody) is being pig-headed.

Spence broke Melody’s heart ten years ago. He also did exactly the right thing. She was only 20, and she needed to get out and see the world a bit, finish her education and decide (or not) that Bliss County was where she wanted to be. Unfortunately, he didn’t tell it to her quite that way. He may have thought his seeming heartless was for her own good, but it left her with a lot of justified resentment.

The background mystery in this love story wove into the main thread remarkably well for a second-strong plot. While I had a guess at what kind of person it was, narrowing down the actual suspect was difficult, not just for me but also for Spence. And it was terrific the way that the whole town came together to root out the perpetrator.

marriage season by linda lael millerThis series is a delight to read. I’m looking forward to Bex’ story and seeing who her friends matchmake her with. Unlike Hadleigh and Melody, there is no one in Bex past for her second chance. The full story will be in The Marriage Season, coming in May.

***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 1-25-15

Sunday Post

I’m not sure this has ever happened before. I absolutely loved everything I reviewed this week. While it probably won’t happen again for a long time, it made for a really fantastic reading week.

perf5.000x8.000.inddIt helps that all of this week’s book were by authors I have read and loved before. “To all the books I’ve loved before” fits right in with the theme of Blair McDowell’s book, Romantic Road.

This coming week mixes some old favorites with some newbies, or new-to-mes at least. Baltimore Blues is the first book in Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series. It’s been re-released to coincide with the upcoming 12th book in the series, Hush, Hush. I’ve heard good things about the series, so I decided to dive in.


Current Giveaways:

Gift Card + ebook copy of Ryder by Nick Pengelley
Through the Static by Jeanette Grey (ebook)
$10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card in the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop

through the static by jeanette greyBlog Recap:

A- Review: Ryder: American Treasure by Nick Pengelley + Giveaway
A Review: Romantic Road by Blair McDowell
A Review: Through the Static by Jeanette Grey
Guest Post by Jeanette Grey on the Power of What If? + Giveaway
A Review: In the Devil’s Nebula by Anna Hackett
A Review: Phoenix Legacy by Corrina Lawson
Stacking the Shelves (119)


baltimore blues new cover by laura lippmanComing Next Week:

Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan #1) by Laura Lippman (blog tour review)
The Chance (Thunder Point #4) by Robin Carr (review)
The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (review)
The Marriage Charm (Brides of Bliss County #2) by Linda Lael Miller (blog tour review)
Ghost Phoenix (Phoenix Institute #3) by Corrina Lawson (review)

Review: The Quick and the Undead by Kimberly Raye

quick and the undead by kimberly rayeFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Tombstone, Texas #1
Length: 158 pages
Publisher: ImaJinn Books
Date Released: November 26, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, Book Depository

Welcome to Tombstone, Texas, where anything is possible, even your wildest fantasy. Once a haven to outlaws, Tombstone is now a tourist town that gives travelers a taste of the old West. What visitors don’t realize, however, is that the super-hot cowboys, gunslingers, and lawmen walking the streets aren’t actors—they’re originals. These ancient vampires claimed Tombstone two centuries ago.

So step right up, folks, and book your trip today! The outlaws of Tombstone will be waiting . . .

Travel blogger Riley Davenport loves her job, travelling to the most exotic places in the world. Even better, it keeps her one step ahead of her stalking ex. The last thing she wants in her life is a strong alpha male. But that’s exactly what she gets when she comes face-to-face with Sheriff Boone Jarrett, a hero right out of her most erotic fantasies.

Boone isn’t just the law in Tombstone, Texas. He’s also an ancient vampire and the target of a crazed killer. He certainly doesn’t have time for romance. But a temporary fling? Now that he can handle.

Unfortunately, their first night together ends in disaster when Riley witnesses a murder. And to protect her, Boone forces her into hiding. Only her “captivity” ends up becoming the realization of her wildest, most carnal fantasies. Still, Riley’s not going to fall for him, at least that’s what she tells herself.

But as she gets to know him—the man and the vampire—she starts to wonder if she can hold out . . .

My Review:

220px-Tombstone_year_1891The town of Tombstone that you’re probably thinking of, the one with the O.K. Corral? That’s in Arizona. Not that I’m not pretty sure that the name Tombstone isn’t designed to blend your memories of that Tombstone with this Tombstone. Using such a familiar name in popular Old West legends brings a whole lot of atmosphere to this new one, and it makes perfect sense both from the author’s standpoint and in the context of the story.

In this new Tombstone, some old gunfighters are bringing in tourists for a taste of the real West. The one that they lived in 150 years ago, when they were all feared outlaws. Becoming vampires back in the day made them faster, stronger and of course, virtually immortal.

There were 10 of them, but in this modern day, there are only nine. Nine men and women who remember the west as it was, because they lived it. They should have scattered to the four winds, but in this particular version of vampirism, the vampires have to return to the place where they were turned on the anniversary of that life-changing event. For all of them, that place is Tombstone.

In the 21st century, they have become entrepreneurs of an expensive and exclusive Wild West resort (Think of Westwood without the rampaging androids). The Tombstone Ten (minus one) need the money from the resort to buy the land they need for their annual pilgrimages – and just plain because Tombstone is home and they want to preserve it.

The Quick and the Undead, while it sets up the scenario of Tombstone and gives us peeks at the previous lives of the vampires who run the show, is also a romance between a travel blogger and a man she thinks is just an actor plying the part of Sheriff Boone Taggart. It’s also the setup of a long-term suspense plot about the certainty that other vampires know who they are and where they are, and that the old vampire who made them is on his way back with unknown and probably unwelcome intentions for the gang he created and the town they made.

Back to that travel blogger, Riley Davenport, and Boone. Riley has been on the run for three years from an abusive ex. Her travel blog keeps her moving, and therefore difficult to track. She posts on a time delay, so by the time her posts on location X are being run, she’s already at location Y or even Z. She lives out of suitcase but it makes her feel safe. Also tired.

Boone and his vampire friends (and enemies) upset all of Riley’s carefully made plans. Tombstone offers as real an Old West experience as they can make, so there is no electricity and no internet. Which doesn’t mean that the vampires running the show don’t have all the modern technology available to track their very modern business, but that tech is NOT available to the guests.

Riley has avoided relationships while she’s been on the run. She’s lonely but afraid of finding herself attracted to another alpha male who will take over her life and kill her personality if not her actual self. While she is attracted to Boone from the moment she sees him, it takes her a lot of story to figure out that while he may be as alpha as they come, he doesn’t want to control her.

Especially since his drive to keep her safe from a crazed killer vampire is to lock her up in a cave until things are safe.

Escape Rating B-: I love the setup of the town and the series, but I’m not so certain about the romance between Riley and Boone.

The idea that they might experience a whole lot of insta-lust and decide on a short-term fling for the time she’s in Tombstone makes sense. That she decides she really loves him while she is trapped in a cave, even if it is definitely for her own safety, smacks a bit of Stockholm Syndrome. That she calls herself on it doesn’t make it any less true.

Riley’s ex is also a bit of a failed ‘Chekhov’s Gun’. She has lived her entire life for the last three years in rightful fear of this bastard, but he’s neither the big baddie nor even the little baddie in this story. He’s swept out with the trash in a brief mention at the end that he’s in prison for battering some other woman. (The irony is that this feels ‘real’ in a real world sense while at the same time being disappointing in a story sense.)

The suspense angles of the story, the question about who is after the vampires and why, worked well both as suspense and as a way of illuminating a whole lot more about Boone’s character and his past. The way that his closure gets delivered worked well for me.

I will say that the all-inclusive tourist town run by vampires setup reminded me a lot of Nina Bangs’ Castle of Dark Dreams series. Bang’s series is lighter and Raye’s is spookier/darker, but the idea of vampires creating fantasies for tourist consumption is fun either way.


***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 11-23-14

Sunday Post

I’m not actually sure what I’m reviewing on Wednesday. The Director is kind of a placeholder. I intend to read it, but it isn’t exactly in the holiday spirit. On my other hand, while there are oodles of Christmas books, there aren’t all that many that feature Thanksgiving (except for cookbooks, or course)

We’re winding down the days until our move, and the days for the Gratitude Giveaways Hop are also winding down. So if you want a chance at a $10 Gift Card, this week is it. At least until the Black Friday Book Bonanza starts next weekend!

Current Giveaways:

$10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card in the Gratitude Giveaways Hop
Handmade bookmarks from author Victoria Vane

mark of the tala by jeffe kennedyBlog Recap:

B+ Review: Temporal Shift by Nina Croft
B+ Review: The Legend of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper
B+ Review: Phoenix Rising by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris
A- Review: Slow Hand by Victoria Vane
Guest Post by Victoria Vane on Rakes and Cowboys + Giveaway
A Review: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy
Stacking the Shelves (112)


Black_Friday_Book_Bonanza_button-40x400Coming Next Week:

Falling from the Light by Regan Summers (blog tour review)
Pure Heat by M.L. Buchman (review)
The Director by David Ignatius (review)
Thanksgiving Day 2014
Black Friday Book Bonanza
Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway

Stacking the Shelves (112)

Stacking the Shelves

If these weren’t all ebooks, I’d need to have my head examined. (Yes, I know, even more than I do now)

We are moving back to Atlanta in two weeks, and the point is usually to reduce the amount of stuff that has to be transported. Instead, I’m stocking up on reading material for the trip. I can’t wait until we start picking out audiobooks for the long drive. We’ll just have to play them loud enough to drown out the complaints from the cats in the backseat!

For Review:
An Affair Downstairs (Thornbrook Park #2) by Sherri Browning
Blade on the Hunt (Rowan Summerwaite #3) by Lauren Dane
The Blue and the Grey (Grand & Batchelor #1) by MJ Trow
Come Home for Christmas, Cowboy (Montana Born Christmas #5) by Megan Crane
The Deepest Night (Longest Night #2) by Kara Braden
Diamond Head by Cecily Wong
Falling from the Light (Night Runner #2) by Regan Summers
Garrett (Cold Fury Hockey #2) by Sawyer Bennett
Hungry Like the Wolf (SWAT #1) by Paige Tyler
Hunter of Sherwood: The Red Hand (Guy of Gisburne #2) by Toby Venables
Hush Hush (Tess Monaghan #12) by Laura Lippman
The Importance of Being Alice (Ainslie Brothers #1) by Katie MacAlister
It Must Be Your Love (Sullivans #11) by Bella Andre
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy
The Marriage Charm (Brides of Bliss County #2) by Linda Lael Miller
Pleasantville by Attica Locke
Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Japan by Vasudev Murthy
Surrender (Devil’s Den #1) by Violetta Rand
Tales of the Alaska State Troopers by Peter B. Mathiesen
The Ultimate Guide to Sex After Fifty by Joan Price

Purchased from Amazon:
Hunter of Sherwood: Knight of Shadows (Guy of Gisburne #1) by Toby Venables
Thornbrook Park (Thornbrook Park #1) by Sherri Browning

Borrowed from the Library:
Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan #1) by Laura Lippman
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
The Devil in the Marshalsea (Tom Hawkins #1) by Antonia Hodgson
Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert

Guest Post by Victoria Vane on Rakes and Cowboys + Giveaway

Victoria in Jackson HoleToday I’d like to welcome Victoria Vane back to Reading Reality. Victoria is known as the “Queen of Georgian Romance”, but her new series takes place far away from what used to be her native habitat. Her new Hot Cowboy Nights is set in the contemporary American West, and it is off to a fine start. Just take a look at today’s review of Slow Hand to see just how fine a start!

But I wanted to hear from Victoria about how and why she decided to switch from opulent ballrooms to the wide-open range. so I had to ask, what made her turn to contemporary westerns after historicals and OMG DeVere? What kind of research (if any) did she have to do for Slow Hand?

Here’s her answer:

Hi Marlene! Thank you so much for having me today. It’s so great to be back with you again. It seems I have taken quite a few readers by surprise in leaping three centuries from Georgian rakehells to contemporary cowboys! Many people have asked why I decided to do this, so here is “the story” behind the stories.

The Sheik Retold by Victoria VaneAlthough I have established a fiercely loyal following with my Devil DeVere series, even after eleven published historicals, and a number of awards from reviewers, I have been unable to break out as a historical romance writer. The fact that my books get good reviews told me it wasn’t my writing, but perhaps I’d narrowed my audience too much by writing almost exclusively Georgian romances, (THE SHEIK RETOLD being the sole exception). Although the 18th century is my favorite historical era, it’s not all that popular with readers, but I just couldn’t see myself shifting to Regencies or Highlanders (although I don’t rule out anything anymore!)

One of my good friends who is an avid reader and reviewer, suggested I try writing a contemporary romance. Her argument was that there were far more contemporary readers compared to my beloved historicals, thus more opportunity. Although I knew she was right about the demographics, I immediately dismissed the idea, believing that I had totally the wrong writing voice for it.

But months later in growing frustration, I decided it was indeed time to try something new. For weeks she and I brainstormed ideas but nothing bore any fruit. I just couldn’t relate to the increasingly popular trope of corporate billionaires and virginal heroines, or the dark and angsty NA books. It just wasn’t me. I needed to find something that I could put my own unique spin on, an idea that would help me to stand out in a crowd of talented authors.

Since most romance readers gravitate to certain kinds of heroes, I started looking at what readers like best. I also thought about what heroes I was most attracted to. The answer was a no brainer- cowboys. I’ve loved them my entire life. I’d just never thought to write about them. While I still believed my writing voice would be an obstacle, I was willing to give it a try.

Once I settled on a hero archetype, my next hurdle was finding my story.

They always say to write what you know, so for the first time I began digging into my own life and the events and experiences that have shaped me, experiences that I thought readers might be able to relate to.

One of the most traumatic moments in my entire life involved the death of a loved one. I still vividly recall my hysterical breakdown at Newark airport when bad weather caused me to miss a connection on the way to my father’s funeral. I had literally sprinted through the airport only to arrive at the gate just as the plane was rolling away from the jetway. I stood there numbly watching it, knowing I’d never have closure. (This memory still brings a lump to my throat). Then I suddenly lost it. I went into a near hysterical meltdown and was so distraught that they actually brought the plane back to the gate for me! Suddenly, both Nikki’s character and the seeds of a story implanted in my mind.

By choosing something close to my own heart, I found the words hit the page with an ease that I never could have anticipated. To my shock I had found my story and discovered a new voice.

slow hand by victoria vaneWhile SLOW HAND is a fun and flirty story, it is also partly biographical in that many of my own life experiences crept into it. This even includes the cowboy! (Wade Knowlton is named after my first girlhood cowboy crush.)

While cowboy romances are certainly nothing new to readers, each of my stories has a unique tone and theme. In all four books (SLOW HAND, ROUGH RIDER, SHARP SHOOTER and SILVER TONGUE) my heroes are modern day cowboys facing very real and relatable struggles. Wade (SLOW HAND) is burning the candle at both ends between a rural law practice and a struggling family ranch. His brother Dirk (ROUGH RIDER) is a former bull rider, rancher and wounded vet. Reid (SHARP SHOOTER) is also a vet, a marine and backcountry hunting guide. Keith (SILVER TONGUE) is a Native American struggling between two vastly different worlds. These stories are all hot and sexy but still have well-developed plots and emotional depth.

Although this new endeavor marks a distinct departure from historical romance, readers will find that my trademarks still remain—well-researched, scorching hot, emotionally compelling, character-driven stories.

About Victoria
Victoria Vane is an award-winning author of smart and sexy romance. Her collective works of fiction range from historical to contemporary settings and include everything from wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Her biggest writing influences are Georgette Heyer, Robin Schone, and Sylvia Day. Victoria is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog. Look for her sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming from Sourcebooks in 2014.
Twitter: @authorvictoriav


For all of us booklovers out there, Victoria is giving away five beautiful handmade bookmarks.
a Rafflecopter giveaway