Publisher: Avon

Sunday Spotlight: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

Posted August 16, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 6 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Emerald Blaze by Ilona AndrewsEmerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
Narrator: Emily Rankin
Series: Hidden Legacy #5
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5), Sapphire Flames, Diamond Fire, Wildfire
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Length: 12 hours and 41 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: five-stars

Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author, continues her spellbinding series set in the Hidden Legacy world where magic controls everything…except the hearts of those who wield it.
As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart. 
The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won't rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that's tearing their world apart. 

Excerpt

A dark-haired man walked through the doorway, gliding as if his joints were liquid. All the air went out of the room. I tried to take a breath but there was none to be had.

“My apologies,” Alessandro Sagredo said with a charming Italian accent. “So sorry to be late.”

Augustine Montgomery was a dead man. He just didn’t know it yet.

Alessandro looked straight at me. Our stares connected and for a split second my brain ground to a halt. I couldn’t think, I could only feel, and what I felt was intense, searing rage.

I couldn’t afford to react.

Tiny orange flames sparked in his irises and vanished. Nobody else saw it. His expression remained perfectly neutral.

Why?

He had an entire world at his disposal. He could have gone anywhere, but he came back here, to my city. It hurt to look at him. It hurt to remember him holding me, because when he wrapped his arms around me, he made me feel safe, and loved, and wanted. All that and he left, without apology, without explanation. He’d made it absolutely clear that I didn’t matter and now he was back, the son of a bitch, as if nothing had happened.

Alessandro walked to Lander’s left side and bent to him, an expression of utmost concern on his handsome face. “How are you feeling today, Zio?”

I had to snap out of it. There would be time to feel later. Right now, I had to think, because the equivalent of a hungry raptor just casually strolled into the room and nobody besides me, Morton, and possibly Augustine knew it. Alessandro called Lander his uncle. They weren’t related. I knew the genealogy of House Sagredo like the back of my hand. I could recite them down to fourth generation in my sleep.

Lander patted Alessandro’s hand with his, affectionately, as you would to a nephew.
“I didn’t know House Morton and House Sagredo were on such good terms,” Tatyana commented.

“Why would you know? When his father and I were friends, you were just a twitch in your daddy’s dick,” Lander said.

Lander Morton, the very soul of courtesy.

Marat rolled his eyes.

Alessandro straightened. Not a hint of magic. He’d pulled his power so deep inside himself, he felt inert. Harmless. Most of his targets kept on thinking he was harmless, right up until he killed them. That’s why they called him the Artisan. He’d elevated murder for hire to an art.

Why are you here? Was this work or really a family obligation?

He wore a pewter-colored suit, impeccably tailored, Neapolitan style, cut close to the body to accentuate his narrow waist. The suit shimmered slightly, probably a summer wool and silk blend. Spalla camicia, the “shirt shoulder,” without any padding and wide lapels with a convex curve that drew the eye, all of which minimized the shoulder line. Alessandro had shoulders like a gymnast; if you put any padding on him, he would resemble a linebacker. He was here to work, and he was trying to disguise his build to appear less of a threat.

It might work on the four Primes. It might even work on Augustine. They would look at his sun-tanned skin, his artfully disheveled brown hair, the expensive suit, the tailored trousers ending at a perfect shivering break – the hem meeting the shoes’ vamps as closely as was possible without rumpling – and they would see a young Italian Prime, the heir to an old family, indulged, confident, carefree, handling a bit of business as a favor.

It didn’t work on me. I’d seen him fight. Once you witnessed the way he moved, flawless, spare, each strike landing with unattainable precision, you never forgot it. Alessandro dedicated himself to killing. Under that shimmering suit, his body was corded with powerful flexible muscle. He was shockingly strong and abnormally fast. His face wasn’t just handsome, it was a face of a fighter, chiseled, masculine – strong jaw, full lips, straight Roman nose, carved cheek bones. His amber eyes scanned the room, and I watched him assess the threats and measure the distance to them in a split second. They saw a playboy. I saw a gladiator.

Alessandro unleashed a smile. The two women shifted slightly.

“I have arrived here on short notice and under painful circumstances.”

Usually he had almost no accent. Right now, he was layering it in. If he sounded any more Italian, the conference table might sprout grape vines and olive branches while the strains of lnno di Mameli spilled from the speakers.

“I am not familiar with this project, so I ask for your patience and guidance as I find my footing. Let us move forward through this time of grief and ensure the continued success and prosperity of our families.”

Hidden Legacy

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: August 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Ilona Andrews

“Ilona Andrews” is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.

They have co-authored four NYT and USAT bestselling series, the urban fantasy of Kate Daniels, rustic fantasy of the Edge, paranormal romance of Hidden Legacy, and Innkeeper Chronicles, which they post as a free weekly serial. For complete list of their books, fun extras, and Innkeeper installments, please visit their website at Ilona-andrews.com.


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Throwback Thursday Review: When Marrying a Scoundrel by Kathryn Smith

Posted June 18, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: When Marrying a Scoundrel by Kathryn SmithReviewer: Holly
When Marrying a Scoundrel by Kathryn Smith
Series: Victorian Soap Opera #2
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: May 25, 2010
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 385
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A lady must be prepared for anything . . . when marrying a scoundrel.

Sadie Moon once thought she was in love. Then her dashing husband left her to seek his fortune, and she had no choice but to transform herself from a heartbroken waif into London Society's favorite fortune-teller. But even she could not have foreseen Jack's return—until their paths cross in the last place either would have expected: London's most exclusive house of pleasure.

Now wealthy and successful, Jack Friday has everything he'd ever dreamed of . . . except Sadie. He swears he will never trust the woman who broke her promise to wait for him, though his passion for her burns as hotly as ever before. But love, like the past, comes back to haunt them—drawing them into a web of intrigue and betrayal that could save or destroy them both.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on June 18, 2010.

Kathryn Smith is hit or miss for me. I’m never sure which way a novel is going to go for me with her. Some are fabulous and others leave much to be desired. This one falls under the “hit” umbrella.

I really like the “reunited lovers” plot device, and I think Smith did a good job with it here. It was easy to see why both parties felt they were the ones who got abandoned. I really liked that Jack never stopped loving Sadie, and had no problem admitting it. He no longer trusted her, but he still loved her. I really loved that though Jack and Sadie had issues with each other, they were able to set them aside to help one another when they needed it. They were very adult about their relationship, which was refreshing.

Jack frustrated me at times because he refused to believe in Sadie, especially early in the book. When he called her a fraud my heart broke along with hers. My frustration didn’t last long, though, because Sadie kept belaboring the point, ad nauseum.

I know why Sadie felt so angry toward Jack, and he toward her, but I found myself getting frustrated with Sadie as the novel progressed. Her reasons for pushing him away seemed contrived and silly. She didn’t think she was good enough for him or the class he belonged to, but that didn’t hold water since she’d already married him once. I also had an issue with the way she kept the nature of her relationship with Jack a secret from Mason, the man who was courting her. They had no formal arrangement or agreement, but it was obvious they both thought it could go somewhere. Sadie owed him more than lies, IMO.

I was able to let it go, however, since she realized the problem was hers and made it right.

Though I had issues with both main protagonists, they weren’t enough to detract from my overall enjoyment. Yes, I became frustrated by their actions at times. But more, I was swept up in their rekindled romance, waiting to see when they’d finally realize what we as the reader knew all along – they were meant to be together.

4 out of 5

Victorian Soap Opera

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn.

Posted May 21, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn.Reviewer: Rowena
Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn
Series: Bevelstoke #3
Also in this series: What Happens in London (Bevelstoke, #2), Ten Things I Love About You (Bevelstoke, #3)
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: May 25, 2010
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 454
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Ten things you should know about this book....

1. Sebastian Grey is a devilishly handsome rogue with a secret.
2. Annabel Winslow's family voted her The Winslow Most Likely to Speak Her Mind and The Winslow Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Church.
3. Sebastian's uncle is the Earl of Newbury, and if he dies without siring an heir, Sebastian inherits everything.
4. Lord Newbury detests Sebastian and will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening.
5. Lord Newbury has decided that Annabel is the answer to all of his problems.
6. Annabel does not want to marry Lord Newbury, especially when she finds out he once romanced her grandmother.
Number 7 is shocking, 8 is delicious, and 9 is downright wicked, all of which lead the way to:
10. Happily. Ever. After.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on May 25, 2010.

This review will have all kinds of spoilers so if you don’t want to be spoiled, I say you come back after you’ve read the book. This is your warning, there will be spoilers!

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When we got this book for review, I couldn’t read it fast enough. I hadn’t (still haven’t come to think of it) read Miss Miranda Cheevers but I inhaled What Happens in London and loved it. I thought it was such a cute and funny story that I was waiting most excitedly for this book to come out. I had to find out if this was Sebastian’s story and …IT IS!

I really enjoyed getting to know Sebastian in Harry’s book and I am happy to say that Chantal was totally right! Sebastian is definitely the author! Man, the way that we find out how Sebastian started writing, it made me sigh because Sebastian is a dream boat and I just love him to pieces.

This book brought the laughs and the dialogue was great as well. I laughed out loud more than once while reading this book and I think Sebastian is my favorite hero in this series. The way that Sebastian thinks and the way that he let people perceive him just had me in fits of giggles. I loved everything about him. From his insomnia to the way that he treats Harry and Edward and the way that he treats Olivia. The first meeting between Sebastian and Annabel was great too. The way that he plotted his first story out, loved it! It was great.

Annabel was a great heroine as well. She wasn’t one of those heroines that was overly dramatic, she knew what her duty was and she knew what she was supposed to do and even though she didn’t like it one bit, she was going to go through with it anyway. All in the name of saving her family. It was noble and I didn’t find myself getting annoyed with her all that much while reading this book. It’s not that she was perfect but she was the kind of historical heroine that I could see myself being. I could say that I wish I would have been my own woman but if my family needed me to marry for money, then I totally would. There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for my family and as annoyed as I would be, I would do it. So to say that I liked Annabel is exactly right.

Sebastian and Annabel together were great, I loved reading every scene they were in together because the chemistry between these two jumped right off the pages and I loved how flirty spice Sebastian was. He was such a great character and man, I’m kind of sad that I finished his story so fast, it was good and worth the money that you’ll spend to read it.

The secondary characters were great as well. I adored seeing Harry and Olivia and it never fails to bring me joy when authors bring characters from other stories back and give them a role in these new stories instead of just mentioning those characters. I enjoyed seeing Harry and Olivia again and I was glad to see that they’re doing well and that Olivia is pregnant and in good spirits. It was also good to see Harry’s brother again as well. You can never get enough of those folks, they’re always good for a laugh or two.

The new secondary characters were great as well, I adored Annabel’s cousin, Louisa. I so hope that she’ll get a story or maybe get a story with…Harry’s brother, Edward. Ooh that would be a good pairing. I loved that Annabel had a great ally in Louisa. I loved Annabel’s grandmother too, oh goodness the scenes at the end of the book with Sebastian, Annabel, her grandmother and Sebastian’s uncle had me roaring with laughter. It was too funny. I wouldn’t mind reading another story with these guys in there, it was just too funny.

Seeing Sebastian and Annabel grow to love each other was a fun treat and this story was a delightfully entertaining book that I can’t wait for others to enjoy as well. This is JQ the way we all know and love her, you won’t be disappointed.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Bevelstoke

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James

Posted May 19, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa JamesReviewer: Tracy
Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Castle #5
Also in this series: Wilde in Love, Too Wilde to Wed, Born to Be Wilde (The Wildes of Lindow Castle #3), Born to Be Wilde (The Wildes of Lindow Castle, #3)
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A shy wallflower meets her dream man--or does she?--in the next book in New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James' Wildes of Lindow series.

Miss Viola Astley is so painfully shy that she’s horrified by the mere idea of dancing with a stranger; her upcoming London debut feels like a nightmare.

So she’s overjoyed to meet handsome, quiet vicar with no interest in polite society — but just when she catches his attention, her reputation is compromised by a duke.

Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, Duke of Wynter, will stop at nothing to marry Viola, including marrying a woman whom he believes to be in love with another man.

A vicar, no less.

Devin knows he’s no saint, but he’s used to conquest, and he’s determined to win Viola’s heart.

Viola has already said Yes to his proposal, but now he wants her unruly heart…and he won’t accept No for an answer.

Viola Astley doesn’t feel like she belongs in her family.  She is an “adopted” daughter in the Wilde family even though her step-father, the Duke of Lindow, considers her his daughter.  Viola is shy and quiet, while the rest of the Wilde family is adventuresome.  She is painfully shy and takes most meals in her room, just to avoid people.  At her first ball she witnessed a man’s rage (not at her but another woman) and this made her even more reclusive.

When Viola meets the new vicar, she is immediately smitten.  Yes, he is quite handsome, but the man listens to her and makes her feel safe.  She sets her sights on him, despite the fact that he is recently engaged to a termagant.

Viola arranges to meet with the vicar during a ball in her and her sister’s honor.  When she arrives in the library she finds it occupied by The Duke of Wynter and his uncle Reginald.  Reginald wants Wynter to meet Viola, but the Duke is set on marrying her sister, Joan.  Wynter states quite clearly that since Viola is an Astley and not a Wilde (confirming Viola’s life-long thoughts) she is not as good as a Wilde and therefore is inferior.  After overhearing this, Viola decides to give her a piece of her mind.  The Duke is fascinated by Viola and sets out to court her, but Viola is stuck on the vicar.

Wynter’s attempts to court Viola, and her brush offs cracked me up.  When the two are caught in a somewhat compromising act, their fate is sealed.  Wynter is thrilled, but Viola still has her doubts because, after all, she’s not a Wilde.

This was a very sweet story.  I really liked Devin (aka Wynter) and his non-stop courting.  He was just so smitten and I loved his determination.  It took a while for Viola to come around but it was worth the wait.

Viola was wonderful as well and I so enjoyed her growth in this book.  She went from shy girl to confident woman and I loved seeing the way she blossomed.

Overall a good story.  I’ve enjoyed the entire Wilde series so far, and look forward to more in the future.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Wildes of Lindow Castle

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

Posted May 10, 2020 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope all of you moms (whether biological or otherwise) are relaxing and reading today.

I haven’t read Alexis Daria before, but the cover of You Had Me at Hola caught my eye and I’m totally intrigued by the blurb.

Sunday Spotlight: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis DariaYou Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

RITA
® Award Winning author Alexis Daria brings readers an unforgettable, hilarious rom-com set in the drama-filled world of telenovelas—perfect for fans of

Jane the Virgin

and The Kiss Quotient.

Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. 
After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. 
Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy
After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had. 
Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars. 
With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

 

Excerpt

“Let’s take it through with the lines,” the intimacy coordinator told Ashton, and he took his spot at the counter.

When Vera gave the signal, Ashton slid closer to Jasmine. With his arms crossed over his chest, he tapped into Victor’s easy charm—something he wished he could employ more in his real life—and grinned. “Do you think I have a chance at winning?”

Jasmine looked up at him from under long lashes. She pursed her lips before she answered, like she was thinking about what he’d said.

“I think so. If you remember every step of the recipe, execute it all perfectly, and finish on time.”

He raised his eyebrows. “No pressure.”

She softened then. Nothing obvious, but still, a noticeable easing of her stance, her tone, her expression. Her words were serious, not sarcastic, as she repeated, “No pressure.”

This was it. Time for him—Victor—to make his move. Uncrossing his arms in a slow movement, Ashton raised his hand.

Suddenly, Vera was there, close to them.

“Stay in the moment,” she said in a hushed voice. She took Ashton’s hand and gently brought it to Jasmine’s cheek.

Ashton positioned his hand on the side of Jasmine’s face the way Vera directed it. His fingers slid over Jasmine’s jaw to curl around the side of her neck, under her ear. Her skin was so warm. He had a flash of pressing his mouth there. How would she feel against his lips?

“Say your line.” Vera’s words were faint, barely interrupting the tension spinning out between the three of them.

Ashton dropped his voice. “You have something here.” With Vera’s hand over his, Ashton’s thumb came to rest on the curve of Jasmine’s cheekbone. Vera gave the digit a little nudge, and Ashton stroked Jasmine’s cheek in a soft, gentle glide. Then Vera shifted, resting her hands on Jasmine’s upper arms. Slowly, Jasmine rose up from her elbows. Her dark eyes stayed locked on Ashton’s, even as Vera moved her like a doll, or a puppet. But Vera wasn’t controlling them—no, she was guiding. They’d given her permission, given each other permission. They’d consented to this, and there was power in that. Vera was part of this.

And damn if it wasn’t incredibly intimate.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: May 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Alexis Daria

Alexis Daria is a native New Yorker and award-winning author writing romance and mystery stories about successful Latinx characters and their (occasionally messy) familias. Her debut Take the Lead won the 2018 RITA® Award for “Best First Book” and was one of the “Best Romance Novels of 2017” in The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly. Her next release, You Had Me at Hola, will be out July 7, 2020. Alexis has a BFA in Computer Arts, and her super powers include spotting celebrities in NYC, winning Broadway ticket lotteries, and live-tweeting from @alexisdaria.


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