What Are You Reading? (338)

Posted July 21, 2017 by Casee in Features | 6 Comments

WAYR-New

Casee: Wow, July has been a busy month for me. First I was in Alaska. Last week I was camping, and next week we are visiting family. As you can imagine, I have had almost zero time to read. Which bums me out because if you read our June Monthly Reads post, you saw that I didn’t read one book in June. I wasn’t in a slump exactly, I just didn’t have time. Summer is crazy for us.

I am actually reading a book, if you can believe it. I’m reading The Darkest Promise by Gena Showalter. I love this series and have read it since the beginning. I really liked it when she was putting out two books a year. Alas, she’s down to one per year.

Holly: I can’t believe how quickly this summer is passing. My daughter goes back to school in just over two weeks. Crazy.

Things have been hectic (a theme for me lately) and I barely had time to think, much less read this week. I reread Storm’s Heart, Serpent’s Kiss and Oracle’s Moon by Thea Harrison. I didn’t intend to reread the entire series, but after a conversation with Tracy about Storm’s Heart and the new spin-off series, it looks like I’m headed in that direction.

Rowena: This week was pretty laid back for me, which has been fun since the last few months have been crazy busy. In a couple of weeks, my family will be descending upon Las Vegas for our final family vacation of the summer so I plan to get a lot of reading done before then.

This week, I read The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare, which was freaking good. I thoroughly enjoyed that one and then I read The Imperfectly Perfect Match by Kendra C. Highley, which was fun. I also re-read Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning for book club this coming Monday. Now, I’m reading Love in the Friend Zone by Molly E. Lee. So far, so good.

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


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Retro Review: Fair Play by Deirdre Martin.

Posted July 19, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 7 Comments

Retro Review: Fair Play by Deirdre Martin.Reviewer: Rowena
Fair Play by Deirdre Martin
Series: New York Blades #2
Also in this series: Body Check
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: February 3rd 2004
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 368
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three-stars

A little competition never hurt anybody...

Theresa Falconetti has it all: brains, beauty, a quick wit, and her own PR business. To the Deep disappointment of her large family, she never dates Italians, men from her old Brooklyn neighborhood, or professional athletes. Especially not athletes...

Michael Dante, popular hometown hero and winger for the Stanley Cup champion New York Blades is all three—and he is head over heels for her.

For Michael, Theresa's NO HOCKEY PLAYERS rule is a check to the heart. Nothing he does seems to melt her resolve. His stubborn refusal to give up on this wisecracking brunette, who—he knows—is hiding from her roots, is driving them both nuts. And whe he hires her to publicize his family's restaurant, more than the kitchen heats up. Then Theresa finds herself an Upper East Side kind of guy and Micheal is forced to take his game to the next level.

IT'S FACE OFF TIME...

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: I remember when Body Check, the first book in this series, was released. Everyone raved about it, but I didn’t care for it at all. I felt so vindicated after Rowena wrote this review because the heroine drove her crazy. Good times.

This review was originally published November 18, 2007

The book following Body Check follows Janna McNeil’s best friend, Theresa Falconetti’s journey to true love with Michael Dante’. We met Michael Dante’ in Body Check when he was trying to get at Theresa but failed to impress her because he’s everything she doesn’t want in a man…mainly he’s Italian and from Brooklyn and a hockey player so she’s not trying to have anything to do with him. She’s very snooty and she’s very stubborn and I found that I just couldn’t like her. No matter what DM wrote about Theresa, it set my teeth on edge. I understand that things happened in the first book that made her into the person that she is in this book but she had two guys in her life…one that was absolutely perfect and everything she SHOULD have wanted in a man but didn’t and then another one who was just totally slimey and wrong for her and who does she want?

Contestant # SCUMBAG!

It got on my hot damn nerves and I wanted to frickin’ shake some hot dang sense into her. Goodness each and every time she pushed Mikey away, I wanted to take a bat and beat her with it. He was so good to her and she just kept kicking him in the teeth and when he finally lost it and yelled at her I got mad at him for apologizing about that because he had every right to yell at her the way he did because he didn’t deserve everything that she put him through, he went out of his way to make sure she was comfortable AT ALL TIMES and what did he get for his trouble? A swift kick to the knee caps and every time she got pissed off because her family invited him to dinner at THEIR house?

Yeah, I wanted to smack the crap out of her. It was just more and more of all things annoying where Theresa was concerned, she was so annoying that even Janna was annoyed with her.

The whole Reese thing made me want to hurt someone because for her to want THAT when she could have someone like Mike totally went right over my head…I didn’t get it, AT ALL and the more she fell in “love” with Reese, the more I wanted to choke her the heck out.

This book was easy to read but it was easy to piss me off too…the more I read about Theresa, the more I wanted to backhand that tramp and the more Mike tried to win her over, the more I wanted to run him over with a motorcycle to get him to open up his dang eyes because he deserved so much more than Theresa gave to him and for him to pine away for her when he could have had any number of girls bothered me because it kind of made him look like a wimp to me…but my dumb ass still liked Mike. I loved watching him and Anthony fight and threatened and throw things at each other, I loved watching him with Gemma and the moonstone, she gave him was totally cute, the candles she gave him made me smile too. He was such a superstitious cutie patootie that I wanted so much more for him and I totally think that his reasons for not going to Theresa (the lie thingy with Anthony) at the end to tell her the truth was totally lame but whatev, I got over it.

The book could have been better but it was okay, I guess…It’s a total C read, not the best but it’ll do.

three-stars


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Guest Review: Before the Dawn by Cynthia Eden

Posted July 19, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Before the Dawn by Cynthia EdenReviewer: Jen
Before the Dawn by Cynthia Eden
Series: Killer Instinct #2
Also in this series: After the Dark

Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
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four-stars

The Killer Instinct series from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden continues as an FBI profiler tracks a case that resurrects ghosts from his past

Ex-SEAL Tucker Frost knows that the world is full of evil. He saw it in the face of his own brother, Mason Frost, a cold, methodical, sadistic killer. A killer Tucker put down with his own hands in order to save Mason's final victim—Dawn Alexander, the only girl who got away from the infamous "Iceman."

It's Tucker's up close and personal experience with evil that's made him perfect for Samantha Dark's experimental profiling division in the FBI. Samantha wants agents who have personal ties with killers, who have unique insights into the minds of monsters. And when women start turning up murdered with the same MO used by the Iceman, Tucker is sent back to Louisiana to investigate.

The last person he expects to see is his ex-lover, Dawn. Ten full years have passed since the night that Tucker faced down his brother…and since he last saw Dawn. But the dark need still burns just as hot between Tucker and Dawn. As they grapple with a desire that never died, they must also face the shared shadow from their pasts. Both Tucker and Dawn have the same question—has Mason Frost come back from the dead to hunt again? And this time, will he succeed in killing the victim who got away?

I have been on a major Cynthia Eden kick this year. Fortunately, she’s publishing books nearly as fast as I can read them, plus her back list is huge, so I have plenty to keep me entertained. Before Dawn is the newest book in her Killer Instincts series, which centers around a special FBI team made up of people with some kind of personal connection to killers. Eden has several series going right now, and they are tied together in various ways. For instance, there are a couple Harlequin Intrigue titles that are not marked as part of the Killer Instincts series but that really are tied in. And then I swear some of her LOST series books also crossover, but I could not for the life of me remember which ones and how they tied in. Moreover, because I’m confused about the order, I don’t read them in order, so I keep reading Eden books and being pleasantly surprised to find I’m reading the story of a character I already learned about in some other Eden book. Basically, I’m saying it’s damn confusing and I have no idea how to untangle the threads. You’re on your own.

What I can do is tell you about Before Dawn, though! I really loved the first book in the series, After the Dark. As I said, the series is about this special team of people with connections to killers, which is pretty unbelievable but makes for a superb book premise. This time, we meet Tucker Frost, whose brother was a serial killer. His final attempted victim was Tucker’s girlfriend, Dawn. Tucker killed his brother to save Dawn, but because his brother messed with Dawn’s head, and because he looked just like Tucker, Dawn was understandably traumatized, and her relationship with Tucker didn’t survive. Tucker has spent his life trying to prove he isn’t his brother and atone for what his brother did. Dawn, on the other hand, hardened after her attack and is still dealing with the psychological trauma. When Tucker returns to town to investigate some recent murders that bear a striking resemblance to his brother’s crimes, he and Dawn have to deal with their past and work together to figure out what’s going on.

I liked Dawn and Tucker as characters. Dawn was prickly and smart, but she’s clearly still suffering greatly from her earlier attack. It was a bit hard to read sometimes, especially the flashbacks to when Tucker’s brother had her captive. He was physically brutal and manipulated her into doubting Tucker. It was totally understandable that Dawn would struggle to be around Tucker later. Tucker was great, too. He tried to be there for Dawn after her attack, but when he realized his presence was too painful, he disappeared from her life. My heart hurt for him, because what an impossible situation to be in! I appreciated that he tried to let Dawn set the tone for their interactions, and all he wanted was for her to be at peace.

I did have some niggling doubts about whether Tucker and Dawn could really move beyond their past, though. Dawn was terrorized by a man with Tucker’s face. Was it really possible for her to see beyond that? Dawn clearly still needed a lot of serious professional help to process her trauma. I’m not sure love would be enough, even ten years on. I also felt like the intense alpha-schtick Eden usually writes was a little out of place here. Dawn wasn’t breakable, but I kind of wanted Tucker to tone it down. You’re trying to convince her you’re nothing like your violent brother, so maybe dial it back a bit, huh dude?

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as After the Dark, but it was still a good read.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars


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Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First Book

Posted July 19, 2017 by Holly in Promotions | 2 Comments


The RITA Award is the highest award of distinction in the romance publishing industry and recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. Winners will be announced at the award ceremony held during the RWA National Conference at Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, Thursday, July 27. Today we’re spotlighting the nominees for Best First Book.


Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First BookAlterations by Stephanie Scott
Published by Bloomsbury Spark, Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Publication Date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 237
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they'd think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn't know that all the plans she's made for them are just dreams, and that she's the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.

When Amelia's abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can't imagine leaving Miami--and Ethan--for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan's awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.

As Liam and Amelia grow closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The "new and improved" Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and a choice she never dreamed she'd have to make.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE || iBOOKS || KOBO

About Stephanie Scott

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult stories about teens who put their passions first. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. Born and raised in Kalamazoo where there are no zoos, she’s a Midwest girl at heart. She now lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. You can find her chatting about TV and all things books on Twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA.

 


Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First BookBefore Goodbye by Mimi Cross
Published by Amazon Publishing, Skyscape
Publication Date: January 1st 2016
Pages: 399
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Goodreads

Music means more than anything to high school student Cate Reese; it’s also what unites her with Cal Woods. Devoted classical guitar players, Cate and Cal are childhood friends newly smitten by love—until a devastating car accident rips Cal out of Cate’s life forever. Blaming herself for the horrific tragedy and struggling to surface from her despair, Cate spirals downhill in a desperate attempt to ease her pain.

Fellow student David Bennet might look like the school’s golden boy, but underneath the surface the popular athlete battles demons of his own. Racked with survivor’s guilt after his brother’s suicide, things get worse when tragedy darkens his world again—but connecting with Cate, his sister’s longtime babysitter, starts bringing the light back in.

As Cate and David grow closer, the two shattered teenagers learn to examine the pieces of their lives…and, together, find a way to be whole again.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || INDIEBOUND

About Mimi Cross

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Born in Toronto, Canada, Mimi Cross is an author, singer, and songwriter who grew up in New Jersey. She received a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College and an MA from New York University. She is a performer, a music educator, and worked briefly in the music industry. Mimi is also a certified Kripalu yoga instructor and the creator of Body of Writing, a practice that adds an additional dimension to the body, mind, spirit discipline of yoga: story.

A two time Asbury Music Award winner, Mimi has shared the bill with artists such as Sting, Bonnie Raitt, Lauryn Hill, Jill Sobule, and Jon Bon Jovi. She enjoys performing for the benefit of others, and has played shows with many New Jersey musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, to raise funds for the Light of Day Foundation. She offers classes at Project Write Now, A nonprofit dedicated to helping people improve their writing and communication skills.

Mimi lives with her young son, across the street from the beach.


Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First BookClose to You by Kara Isaac
Published by Howard Books
Publication Date: April 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE || iBOOKS || KOBO

About Kara Isaac

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Kara Isaac is an award-winning writer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where her career highlights include working in tourism as Private Secretary for the Prime Minister. She loves great books almost as much as she loves her husband and two children.


For a full list of RITA finalists, readers can go to: https://www.rwa.org/page/2017-finalists

To see a spotlight of each book being nominated, click here: http://bit.ly/RITA17BlogTour

Follow RWA on the following social media platforms for winner announcements:

facebook.com/romancewriters
twitter.com/romancewriters
instagram.com/romancewriters

What is the RITA Award?

The purpose of the RITA award is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas.

The award itself is a golden statuette named after RWA’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada, and has become the symbol for excellence in published romance fiction.

For more about the RITA Award, click here: https://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=528

The RITA Ceremony will be streamed live for people to watch from home! Readers can watch from 7 to 9 p.m. ET on July 27 by going to www.rwa.org.


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DNF Review: Elemental Mating by Milly Taiden

Posted July 18, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

DNF Review: Elemental Mating by Milly TaidenReviewer: Holly
Elemental Mating by Milly Taiden
Series: ALFA #1
Published by Intermix, Penguin
Publication Date: July 18th 2017
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
dnf

Their existence was a secret the government stumbled upon. In exchange for continued autonomy, the paranormals entered an alliance with the government. Now they are A.L.F.A.: Alpha League Federal Agency, sworn to protect and serve humanity.

Brilliant scientist Melinda Caster has discovered a new strain of the Zika virus that stimulates synaptic growth in embryos, causing neuron development beyond normal human levels. Way beyond, like ESP-levels of cognitive abilities. When the lab is broken into, Melinda realizes that someone has been keeping tabs on her research and wants it for themselves. A happy accident destroys critical data before it can fall into the wrong hands, but unfortunately that makes Melinda and her perfect memory a target.

A.L.F.A sends in jaguar-shifter Agent Parish Hamels to discover who is after the virus and why. The beautiful scientist acts like catnip to his senses and throws his mating instincts into overdrive. And then she disappears along with the only sample of the virus…. Now Parish must canvas the darkest areas of the supernatural underground to rescue Melinda, and what he discovers is beyond a paranormal’s worst nightmare.

I found Elemental Mating while browsing NetGalley and was intrigued by the premise. Alpha shifter vs nerdy scientist? GIMME! Unfortunately, it wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped it would be.

Melinda Castor is a research scientist who discovered a new strand of virus that seems to give those infected supernatural powers (ESP, telekinesis, etc). Parish Hamel is an A.L.F.A. (Alpha League Federal Agency) agent and a jaguar shifter. He’s assigned to watch Melinda and keep her – and her research on the virus – safe. When Melinda is attacked and her lab broken into, both Hamel and Melinda race to find out who is after her information..and more importantly, what they want to do with it.

Since Hamel is essentially a Black Ops solider for the US government, I expected a certain level of competence from him. Sadly, he seemed like a bumbling amateur. He didn’t guard Melinda when he should have, ignored critical evidence in favor of flirting with her and, in general, put them both in danger when he could have avoided it. Melinda wasn’t much better. She constantly put herself in danger without considering the consequences. From following a wild jungle cat into the woods after dark to trusting the suspicious janitor with vital information, she didn’t often employ common sense.

Around Chapter 15 or so, a demon possession happens and Melinda is whisked off to Hell. Aside from some subtle hints here and there, it really came out of left field (both the demon possession and the trip to hell).
As much as I wanted to like this, I just couldn’t read any farther once a woman in Hell introduced herself as “The Head Harem Ho.”

This may be a case of the book just not being to my taste. I may have been looking for something a little more serious. Elemental Mating was just too campy.

DNF

dnf


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