<i>A Crown of Wishes</i>: Exclusive Excerpt A Crown of Wishes: Exclusive Excerpt Roshani Chokshi There’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire." <i>Kiss Marry Kill</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Kiss Marry Kill: Exclusive Excerpt Sidney Halston "This man is seductive, hard, guarded..." <i>Strays</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Strays: Exclusive Excerpt Garrett Leigh "For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking..." <i>The Black Lily</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Black Lily: Exclusive Excerpt Juliette Cross "What he uncovers could change the course of his life forever..."
From The Blog
March 28, 2017
Who Are the Hero and Heroine of Kylie Scott's Chaser?
Team H & H
March 25, 2017
ICYMI: Free E-Book Club, Lora Leigh, Your Fantasy Story, and more!
Team H & H
March 22, 2017
New Fandom Hearts Books to Come from Cathy Yardley!
Team H & H
March 22, 2017
Embrace Your Fantasy Story!
Kerrelyn Sparks
March 21, 2017
RWA Announces 2017 RITA and Golden Heart Finalists!
Team H & H
Showing posts by: Jane Kriel click to see Jane Kriel's profile
Wed
Mar 23 2016 9:30am

Happily Never After, and the Changing Nature of the Romance Novel

Giselle from Enchanted

Spoiler Warning: To talk about the changing nature of the romance novel and the romance covenant's cardinal rule: The Happy Ever After, we will be discussing spoilers, including The Shadows by J.R. Ward, Jennifer Echols' The Biggest Flirt, Sinner's Creed by Kim Jones. Read with caution, and join the discussion!

The Romance Writers of America define two basic elements to the romance genre: namely, a central love story; and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. We often talk about this as the Romance Covenant—the simple rule that there must be a Happy Ever After.(1)

The Romance Covenant is important because of the element of trust that the reader has placed in the author.  The reader has to trust that even though they are going to be put through the emotional conflict, a happy resolution is guaranteed. We will endure the angst, pain, and suffering if we know that it will all pay off in the end.  The thinking is that if a book is marketed as “romance,” then it should not betray the reader’s trust. It’s an issue of genre and the rules. An unhappy ending is unthinkable to romance purists. It’s analogous to a crime novel ending with everyone ducking out to tea instead of figuring out who the murderer was. Conventional thinking is that if you want to avoid hate mail, you need to write a happy ending. Preferably with a white dress and buckets of babies. 

[But that's not what all happy endings look like...]

Tue
Mar 15 2016 2:30pm

“I Wouldn’t Stop for Red Lights”: 10 Iconic Josh/Donna Moments from The West Wing

Josh and Donna flirt in The West WingWhile everyone may be obsessing over real life politics, I prefer thinking about The West Wing, specifically the shiptastic romance between White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman (Bradley Whitford) and his assistant Donna Moss (Janel Moloney).

This is a couple that took forever to hook up. We’re talking 7 seasons of banter before they admitted their love for each other! That is one slow burn. A lot of the big stuff between them only happened in season 7, but it was the smaller moments in earlier seasons of the Aaron Sorkin era that really captured the attention of fans. 

Legend has it that Janel Moloney was only supposed to have a small part in the pilot episode, but due to her amazing chemistry with Bradley Whitford, she ended up scoring a regular role. Apparently, immediately after their first scene together, Whitford told the director, “God, I love her.” 

I happen to love Donna, too. I enjoyed every minute of watching Donna’s arc as flustered Wisconsinite at the beginning to overqualified assistant, to campaign spokesperson, and finally to the First Lady’s Chief of Staff. More than that, I obsessed over Josh and Donna—the small moments, the big moments, and everything in between. 

So here are my picks for the top 10 Josh and Donna moments!

[How ever did she choose only 10???...]

Fri
Jan 29 2016 10:30am

Werewolf Royalty?: Paranormal Romance Best Bets for January 2016

A fresh new year and a fresh batch of paranormal releases! The only resolution I made for 2016 was to read more.  Thankfully, the force is strong with January’s paranormal offerings.

Feverborn by Karen Marie Moning

In Karen Marie Moning’s latest installment of the epic #1 New York Times bestselling Fever series, the stakes have never been higher and the chemistry has never been hotter. Hurtling us into a realm of labyrinthine intrigue and consummate seduction, FEVERBORN is a riveting tale of ancient evil, lust, betrayal, forgiveness and the redemptive power of love.

When the immortal race of the Fae destroyed the ancient wall dividing the worlds of Man and Faery, the very fabric of the universe was damaged and now Earth is vanishing bit by bit. Only the long-lost Song of Making—a haunting, dangerous melody that is the source of all life itself—can save the planet.

But those who seek the mythic Song—Mac, Barrons, Ryodan and Jada—must contend with old wounds and new enemies, passions that burn hot and hunger for vengeance that runs deep. The challenges are many: The Keltar at war with nine immortals who’ve secretly ruled Dublin for eons, Mac and Jada hunted by the masses, the Seelie queen nowhere to be found, and the most powerful Unseelie prince in all creation determined to rule both Fae and Man. Now the task of solving the ancient riddle of the Song of Making falls to a band of deadly warriors divided among—and within—themselves.

Once a normal city possessing a touch of ancient magic, Dublin is now a treacherously magical city with only a touch of normal. And in those war-torn streets, Mac will come face to face with her most savage enemy yet: herself.

I am a card-carrying member of the faithful and rabid KMM fanbase. The Fever series features one of my favorite couples of all time.  It’s difficult to discuss Feverborn without getting spoilery on the previous books (which you need to read first), but this one did not disappoint.  The all consuming characters continue to fascinate me and I’m obsessed with this epic world, there was great pacing and direction, there are some new twisty plots left open ended for the next book and the expected cliffhanger but I have made peace with that.

[More with werewolves, magic, and zombies...]

Thu
Jan 14 2016 3:00pm

First Look: Penny Reid’s Happily Ever Ninja (January 19, 2016)

Happily Ever Ninja by Penny Reid

Penny Reid 
Happily Ever Ninja (Knitting in the City #5)
Caped Publishing / January 19, 2016 / $14.99 print, $4.99 digital

From the USA Today Best Selling Author of ‘Truth or Beard’ 

There are three things you need to know about Fiona Archer… I would tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you. 

But I can tell you that Fiona’s husband—the always irrepressible and often cantankerous Greg Archer—is desperately in love with his wife. He aches for her when they are apart, and is insatiable when they are together. Yet as the years pass, Greg has begun to suspect that Fiona is a ninja. A ninja mom. A ninja wife. A ninja friend. After fourteen years of marriage, Greg is trying not to panic. Because Fiona’s talent for blending in is starting to resemble fading away. 

However, when unexpected events mean Fiona must take center stage to keep her family safe, her response stuns everyone—Greg most of all. It seems like Greg’s wish has come true. 

Except… not. 

When all is said and done, can Greg handle this new version of his wife? Will his irrepressible cantankerousness push her away? Or can the couple find a way forward without either being forced to step back into the shadows? 

This is a full length, 100k word novel, and is the 5th book in the Knitting in the City Series. All books in the series can be read as a standalone except book #1.5

The review copy of Penny Reid’s Happily Ever Ninja, arrived with an email saying, “I hope you enjoy. But it’s understandable if you don’t, because this book is truly odd.” I have to admit that I was a little curious. Just what makes Happily Ever Ninja so odd?

[It's isn't so odd, but very brave of author Reid ...]

Wed
Dec 16 2015 5:30pm

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best Reads of 2015, Part 1

The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan

Each month, we ask our bloggers to share the best thing they’ve read (or things, plural, if our bloggers declare a tie ’cause they just can’t choose). It doesn’t have to be a new book, as evidenced below; just something that made the month sparkle a bit more.

It's the end of the year now, and so we've asked them for their top three books that made the year in reading so memorable. Without further ado, here's Part 1 (of four parts) of our bloggers best reads of 2015—and don't forget to stay tuned for Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4:

Sahara Hoshi:

The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan - Callihan takes one of my favorite tropes, a hero who is willing to court his heroine and go the distance with her in a realistic and very sweet relationship, plus they love trip-hop music which is always a plus.

Never Loved by Charlotte Stein - I love Never Loved, I think I love it because it's a novel that gets why I love New Adult so much, the heroine literally transforms herself into someone new which I think is the point of college.

Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh - There is something so powerful between Noah and Kit that goes beyond romance and into what makes a great relationship, a strong solid foundation. The lengths both characters go through to be with each other are astounding and worth your time as well as attention as a reader.

[The Best Reads of 2015 ...]

Mon
Dec 7 2015 10:30am

Endangered Vampires and Fated Mates: Kate Baxter’s The Warrior Vampire

The Warrior Vampire by Kate Baxter

I always face the second installment of any series with some trepidation.  It is often the case that the second book of a series is my least favorite, much like how I imagine a parent might feel about a middle child-it’s not like I don’t like the second book, often I do like them, it’s just that I like the other books more. Even in a series that I absolutely adore, I can find myself a little less enamored with the second serving.

Expectations can be high for a second book.  We may have waited patiently for the new one; we are invested in the characters and the world.  If we’re reading the second in the series, then the author has obviously won us over with the first.

As a humble reader, I expect to see story arcs sustained and characters developed in a sequel.  More than that, there needs to be a recognizable tone to the series, but the book has to have it’s own voice somehow.  I’m not keen on reruns.  With paranormals, I need for all the lovely world building from the first book to continue, without too much exposition. 

When Kate Baxter’s The Warrior Vampire popped up on my e-reader, it is of course, the follow up to The Last True Vampire.  I’ll admit that I was keen to dive back to that dark world of near extinct vampires and sexy fated mates. 

[An amazing vampire series ...]

Thu
Nov 26 2015 10:30am

Extra Helpings: Paranormal Romance Best Bets for November 2015

Dragon Storm by Katie MacAlister

If your annual strategy to surviving Thanksgiving and Christmas involves hiding from your family and cuddling with up with some paranormal goodness then you’re in the right place.  Sure, none of these books are as scary as what happens when my family gathers together, but these action packed stories still promise to give you a thrill!

Dragon Storm by Katie MacAlister

TURN ON THE CHARM

According to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he's now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep—until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon's dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman...

TURN UP THE HEAT

Bee isn't sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he's grown to love with fierce intensity.

Constantine is a cocky dragon with a fine ass.  It’s a hilarious, quirky ride as he rescues the Charmer Bee, who is kind of trapped in hell. Bee has also had a relationship with a dragon before so she’s not keen to repeat the experience.  If you have ever dated a DJ or an “actor” then you can probably relate.  Anyway, there’s this dragonkin curse so Bee and Constantine team up to deal with that. And there’s also this demon lord thing. But it’s really all about the sexually charged situations that the two find themselves in.  There’s also some of that bickering foreplay which is pretty amusing. Good times!

[And more from where that came from ...]

Sat
Nov 14 2015 3:00pm

First Look: Kennedy Ryan’s My Soul To Keep (November 16, 2015)

My Soul to Keep by Kennedy Ryan

Kennedy Ryan
My Soul to Keep (Soul #1)
Kennedy Ryan / November 16, 2015 / $13.50 print, digital TBD

It seems the things worth keeping are often the hardest to hold...

KAI

I had two things in life that mattered. My mother and my music.

Mama was taken from me too soon, and now music is all I have left. It’s the thing that’s pushed me right out of backwoods Georgia into Los Angeles, where the line between fantasy and reality shimmers and blurs. I’m finally making my way, making my mark. I can’t afford to fall for one of music's brightest stars. Not now. Music is all I have left, and I’m holding on tight with both hands. I won’t let go, not even for Rhyson Gray.

RHYSON

I had one thing in my life that mattered – music. The only constant, it’s taken me to heights most people only dream about; a gift dropped in my lap at birth. I thought it was enough. I thought it was everything until I met Kai. Now she’s all I think about, like a song I can't get out of my head. If I have to chase her, if I have to give up everything - I will. And once she's mine, I won't let go.

We all imagine looking our best around the guy of our dreams. Unfortunately the heroine Kai in Kennedy Ryan’s My Soul to Keep seems to keep finding herself in disarray whenever she sees hot guy/maybe crush Rhyson.  Facing him sans makeup and wearing a meshed hair net isn’t the best way to make a sexy impression:

This man has seen me with guacamole on my face. With sweaty armpits and smelling like day-old hamburger grease.  Without a scrap of makeup. And now, we can add the most unflattering accessory known to woman kind to the reasons he should not want me.

[Offering your soul is a big commitment ...]

Wed
Nov 4 2015 3:00pm

Stepping Back: In Defense of the Romance Novel Cover

Tender is the Storm by Johanna Lindsey Romance readers are blessed with the best book covers of any genre in my humble opinion. These images are familiar to all.  Pirates, maidens, rakes, lords and cowboys all gloriously posed, their hair flowing from some unseen wind machine and their expressions sometimes tortured, sometimes orgasmic and always passionate. These are depictions of true love.

Maybe it’s the humble supermarket paperback origins, or perhaps it’s the abundance of pink and cleavage but some people actually hate romance novel covers.  They dislike the stereotyped covers, finding them laughable and even cringe worthy.  So for the haters, I present a humble defense to all that romance cover bashing and a brief overview of this abundant yet esoteric artistry.

Classic Clinch

It’s important to appreciate the history of romance covers. During the 1980s, truck drivers would unpack boxes of romance novels and determine which ones got the coveted spots on the spinner racks at gas stations and supermarkets.  Unsurprisingly, publishers sought to gain their attention with lurid covers depicting couples clenched together, the hero invariably brawny and handsome and the damsel buxom and overflowing her corset. In other words, truckers wanted boobs and they became the industry standard for romance novels.

[Romance covers trumps all others  ...]

Wed
Sep 30 2015 9:30am

Angels and Demons: Paranormal Romance Best Bets for September 2015

Heir to the Pack by Laura Welling

September offered some paranormal twists on classic romance tropes - unplanned pregnancies, the sexy detective, the classic woman in peril and love triangles.  These books are sexy and suspenseful, so get reading!

Heir to the Pack by Laura Welling

Three years ago Annie had a sexy fling in Cancun (who hasn’t?), only she away with a son, Jack. Seriously, what happens in Mexico never stays in Mexico.  Now lil Jack is seriously ill and so she sets out to find the baby-daddy Dash, only to learn that Dash is a werewolf and that Jack is his heir and possibly cursed too.  Annie is a scientist so she’s not inclined to believe any of this werewolf stuff.  Dash is a bit confused about how he managed to conceive with a human. Fortunately none of these concerns get in the way of Dash and Annie getting hot and bothered.

Tall, Dark and Immortal by Cat Devon

Journalist Kiera is a little surprised to learn her family secret, her grandfather was the Indian Jones of the vampire hunter community.  While writing a hot story about blood bank robberies she crosses paths with sexy detective Alex who happens to be a vampire.  Alex thinks that Kiera may be his mate, only he’s not sure he can trust her, but he’s not above kidnapping her to figure out. As usual, Cat Devon offers interesting twists on the vampire theme with her engaging Chicago setting and rapid fire dialogue.

[Bad and Good on each shoulder for these ...]

Sun
Sep 27 2015 2:00pm

First Look: Lynsay Sands’s About a Vampire (September 29, 2015)

Lynsay Sands
About a Vampire (Argenau #22)
Avon / September 29, 2015 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

In New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands' new Argeneau novel, a vampire accustomed to seducing every woman he meets finds the one determined to resist him...

With immortal good looks and scorching charisma, Justin Bricker has yet to meet a woman he can't win over. His potential life mate should be no different. But instead of falling into his bed, Holly Bosley runs away and ends up mortally wounded. To save her, he has to turn her. And then Bricker learns the shocking truth: Holly's already married.

Holly wakes up with a bump on her head, a craving for blood, and a sexy stranger who insists they belong together. She needs Bricker's help to control her new abilities, even as she tries to resist his relentless seduction. Choosing between the world she knows and the eternity he offers is impossible. But Justin is fighting for his life mate—maybe even his life—and he'll break every rule to do it.

On a run of the mill evidence-hiding excursion, Justin Bricker is tossing severed heads into a crematorium when the very human Holly Bosley walks in on him and his rogue hunter pals in Lynsay Sands's About a Vampire.  Holly takes off running with a pair of scissors and manages to stab herself (seriously kids, don’t run with scissors).  Justin finds her dying and since he was unable to read her mind or control her while chasing after her, he realizes that she could be his potential life mate, he therefore makes the impulsive decision to turn her into an immortal (these guys don’t like being called vampires).

[What a way to set up a scene ...]

Fri
Sep 25 2015 9:30am

First Look: Jennifer Ashley’s The Stolen Mackenzie Bride (September 29, 2015)

The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley

Jennifer Ashley
The Stolen Mackenzie Bride (The Mackenzies #8)
Berkley / September 29, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

1745, Scotland: The youngest son of the scandalous Mackenzie family, Malcolm is considered too wild to tame…until he meets a woman who is too unattainable to resist.

Lady Mary Lennox is English, her father highly loyal to the king, and promised to another Englishman. But despite it being forbidden to speak to Malcolm, Lady Mary is fascinated by the Scotsman, and stolen moments together lead to a passion greater than she’d ever dreamed of finding.

When fighting breaks out between the Highlanders and the King's army, their plans to elope are thwarted, and it will take all of Malcolm’s daring as a Scottish warrior to survive the battle and steal a wife out from under the noses of the English.

You may remember the scandalous Mackenzie family from Jennifer Ashley’s epically awesome The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie and the rest of the series. The Stolen Mackenzie Bride is a prequel to Ashley’s Mackenzie series featuring the ancestors to the famed family, although it works as a standalone.

Instead of the Victorian period, we get to visit Scotland in 1745.  And yes, that’s roughly when Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander starts. Well, Jacobite is the new Regency.  As those of you familiar with Scottish history or the work of Sam Heughan may know, back then the issue of Scottish Independence was way less about democratic referendum and way more about bloody revolution. So if you’re expecting a light-hearted frolic through the second Jacobite uprising, you may be disappointed. This book is sweet and funny but the turbulence of war is present as the conflict escalates. 

[Return my bride ...]

Thu
Sep 10 2015 4:30pm

It’s a Dark World: Paranormal Romance Recommendations from Handeland, Sheehan, and More!

Beauty and the Werewolf  by Kristen Miller

The characters of paranormal fiction exist in complicated dark worlds, but these releases show the power and redemption that love can bring. Whether it’s finding a partner to prolong your life span, or rescue you from evil dangers, or just provide company and solace in an apocalyptic world, it is only with their love at their side that these characters can survive.

Beauty and the Werewolf  by Kristin Miller

This lone wolf falls hard...for his enemy.

Unmated werewolves don't normally live past three hundred years old...and billionaire Jack MacGrath is cutting it close. Sure, he has almost everything-the respect of his peers, a mansion in San Francisco, a private jet, and fast cars. But without a mate, Jack's in trouble. Then he sees her. Gorgeous, proud...and his enemy.

Isabelle Connelly is good at hiding things from her father. Like her success as a painter, or the incredibly intense attraction she has to Jack MacGrath. After all, she's royalty and falling for anyone lesser-to say nothing of a rival pack-would be, er, unseemly. Now she must choose between her duty to her family and her pack...or her perfect fated mate.

This is a fun shifter read about billionaire recluse Jack who is close to death after failing to find his mate after 300 years. Luckily for the loner werewolf, he does stumble onto his mate, the lovely and talented Isabelle. She also happens to be shifter royalty and her alpha father is determined that she mate within her own pack. The age-old dilemma of love versus family loyalty takes place in the glittery art world of San Francisco.

[Meet love in power and redemption ...]

Thu
Sep 3 2015 9:30am

Firefighter Fantasies: The Younger Man of Shannon Stacey’s Heat Exchange

Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey

Who among us hasn’t had a dirty fantasy about a firefighter? Maybe it’s that they’re tough and strong.  Or perhaps it is that they’re genuine heroes, out saving lives. For some, the uniform is part of the allure, working double duty as a handy sex prop (hose included!).  It might be my propensity for starting kitchen fires but I would love to have a big firefighter around… But I digress, for whatever reason, firefighters are H-O-T and Shannon Stacey has wisely tapped into this delicious man candy theme and brought us all the Boston Fire series.

In Shannon Stacey's Heat Exchange, Lydia is forced to return to her hometown Boston to take care of some family business. Lydia is soon struggling to ignore the fact that her little brother’s best friend is sex on a stick. Calling Aiden, “kid” all the time is a pretty fruitless way to try and ensure some distance because Aiden is all grown up and definitely all man.

“You keep calling me kid.”

She tried to ignore the way he moved into her personal space, but it wasn’t easy. He smelled too good and she was eye level with that hollow at the base of his throat.

“I’m not a kid anymore,” he continued when she didn’t say anything.

Oh, she knew that. But calling him kid was her way of reminding herself he was her younger brother’s best friend. Or attempting to, anyway. It didn’t seem to be working.

“You’re younger than I am,” she said, with a new tone in her voice that bordered on husky.

Touching him would be a mistake. She pressed her hands to the wall behind her, the old brick coarse under her palms.”

When Aidan braced his hands against the wall, too—one on either side of her head—Lydia’s breath caught in her chest. He was close enough so she could smell his shampoo and the slight tang of his aftershave. And he was close enough to kiss her.

She was not going to touch him.

“Not by enough years to even count,” he said, “unless you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for reasons why I shouldn’t kiss you.”

“There are so many reasons you shouldn’t kiss me, I don’t need to scrape the bottom of the barrel.”

With his hands still braced against the wall, he dipped his head low, so his mouth was close to her ear. “Trust me, I know. But it’s all I think about so unless you tell me you don’t want it, I’m going to kiss you anyway.”

[Now are you ready?]

Mon
Aug 3 2015 2:00pm

First Look: Jaci Burton’s All Wound Up (August 4, 2015)

All Wound Up by Jaci Burton

Jaci Burton
All Wound Up (Play-by-Play #10)
Berkley / August 4, 2015 / $16.00 print, $9.99 digital

In the latest Play-by-Play novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Quarterback Draw, a sexy baseball player is done striking out...

Tucker Cassidy is going through a slump—but not on the field. It’s his dating life that’s suffering. After having a painful altercation involving his ex-girlfriend’s knee, Tucker is convinced it couldn’t get worse…until a gorgeous doctor comes to the rescue at his most embarrassing moment.

As the daughter of the owner of the St. Louis Rivers, Dr. Aubry Ross has been around jocks all her life. She knows the ins and outs of all their games, and she isn’t interested in playing.

When Tucker repeatedly lands in the hospital where she’s working, Aubry starts to think he’s getting injured just to see her. Tucker is both funny and sexy, and Aubry is pleasantly surprised to discover he actually respects her job.

When her father disapproves of their relationship, Aubry knows she’d rather lose Tucker than have him lose his job. But Tucker isn’t about to let threats of a trade get in the way of a game-changing love…

If you ask me, there aren’t enough sexy spectacled men in the romance novel world.  That’s why I’m particularly thankful to Jaci Burton for giving us Tucker Cassidy in All Wound Up. Not to be superficial when it comes to potential book boyfriends, but that Gregory Peck glasses wearing look is hot.  And Tucker Cassidy (love that name!) is H-O-T:

She’d have to be dead not to find him attractive. He was tall, with thick black hair. His eyes alone could compel any woman to drop her panties, and the dark glasses gave him that Clark Kent/Superman vibe that definitely gave her the quivers in all the right places.

[From base 1 to a homerun...]

Fri
Jul 31 2015 11:00am

To Hell (and Scotland) with You: Paranormal Romance Best Bets for July 2015

Earth Bound by Christine Feehan

Hello lovely paranormal romance lovers! July has been an exciting month with lots of challenges for our brave protagonists—trips to hell, open cat shifter war in Scotland, escaping cults and unwanted pregnancies! There is surely something here to scare everyone!

Elementals!
Earth Bound by Christine Feehan

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Air Bound returns to the mysterious coastal town of Sea Haven where six sisters of the heart are bound by the elements, and one is stalked by an inescapable past…

After escaping from a cult, Lexi found refuge with her sisters on the farm that more than sustained her body—it nurtured her soul as well. But she never forgot the terror she left behind or the always present fear that the cult would find her again, and claim her. Then her nightmare came true.

Lexi was discovered and threatened—only to be suddenly saved by a stranger. He is Gavriil Prakenskii, and he’s awestruck by the woman he’s rescued. She is destined for him. He can feel it in his soul. But how can Lexi find happiness with a man steeped in secrets and shadows, one intimately acquainted with violence, and whose very love could be the death of them?

As a child, Lexi was kidnaped from her bed and forced to endure considerable abuse in a cult, where she was married to one of the leaders. Escaping to a farm with her five “sisters”, all elementals with magical abilities who have been traumatized by violence in her past.  The Parkenskii brothers also have magic, and like in previous books each seems to fall in love with a sister. This time it’s Gavriil’s turn, whose many scars and old injuries point to a difficult past.  This is a story of magic—both literal and metaphoric journeys through to healing.

[Get dangerous with these paranormals...]

Thu
Jul 23 2015 12:00pm

Mistaken Beardentity: Penny Reid’s Truth or Beard

Truth or Beard by Penny Reid

In Penny Reid’s Truth or Beard, we encounter the six notorious bearded Winston brothers. The Winstons previously appeared in Penny’s Beauty and the Mustache. These brothers are a delicious fantasy, six super sexy, rugged small town Tennessee men and all of them are single and in need of a woman. Form an orderly line, Ladies!

Did I mention that these sexy brothers all have beards? These aren’t guys with hipster beards either. They’re rocking the super masculine kind of beard. They’re the kind of bearded guys who wear flannel shirts and chop logs and if needed, they’ll take down a grizzly bear with their bare hands. I should admit that I am vehemently pro-beard but regardless of where you might stand on male grooming, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the bearded Winston men.

Truth or Beard stars the amazing Duane. Here we have a hero with red hair. That’s right, he’s a ginger! He’s a ginger beard man! Let’s not forget that hot gingers are definitely having a moment—think Sam Heughan, Prince Harry, Damian Lewis, Eddie Redmayne, Ed Sheeran, and Conan O’Brien.

[Bring on the ginger...]

Thu
Jun 25 2015 11:00am

Formidable Females Facing Foes: Paranormal Romance Best Bets for June 2015

In the Air Tonight by Lori Handeland

This month’s paranormal round up features some formidable heroines facing some seriously scary drama.  These ladies aren’t afraid to kick some serious ass to get what they want!

Witches!

In the Air Tonight by Lori Handeland

Four centuries ago, in a small Scottish village, three baby girls escaped the wrath of a witch hunter. Today, one young woman will learn about her secret history, her heart's destiny, and the sisters she never knew she had...

With her blue-black hair and dark eyes, Raye Larsen has never fit in with the Scandinavian community of New Bergin, Wisconsin. Being adopted is part of the reason she feels like an outsider, but what really sets Raye apart is her ability to see dead people. Everywhere.

She’s learned to keep her visions to herself . . . until she stumbles onto the ghost of a murder victim who needs Raye’s help. Enter Bobby Doucet, a distractingly handsome homicide detective who has been tracking a killer all the way from New Orleans. Could this be the break in his case he’s been looking for all along?

Meanwhile, the deeper Raye gets involved with the case—and with Bobby—the closer she comes to unlocking the mystery of her own origins. What she discovers about herself could destroy everything she knows . . . and everyone she loves. Is finding the truth worth the risk?

Filled with dark magic, dazzling romance, and dire suspense, this is the first book in a thrilling new series by New York Times bestselling author Lori Handeland.

[More Paranormal Romance Best Bets for June 2015...]

Tue
Jun 23 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Maya Banks’s Safe at Last (June 23, 2015)

Safe at Last by Maya Banks

Maya Banks
Safe at Last (Slow BurnTrilogy #3)
Avon / June 23, 2015 / $14.99 print, $7.99

The third book in the beloved #1 bestselling author’s sexy, romantic suspense Slow Burn series…

They say young love doesn't last, but a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with unique abilities and the hometown golden boy were determined to defy the odds. For Zack Covington, Anna-Grace—his “Gracie”—was the one. But one night forever altered the course of their future; when a devastated Gracie disappeared without a trace, Zack was left to agonize over what happened to the girl he loved. As the years passed, his desperate efforts to find her uncovered nothing.

Now working for Devereaux Security, he stumbles across a painting featuring a special place only he and Gracie would know. The image is too perfectly rendered for it to be coincidence. His Gracie must be alive. When he comes face to face with her, he is shocked—and heartbroken—to discover the wounded shell of the girl he once knew and still loves. Her psychic gifts are gone, and worse, she believes he betrayed her all those years ago.

Zack has enemies, and once his weakness is discovered, Gracie becomes a target for revenge. He'll have to save her before he can earn her trust and her love. And he vows they'll never be torn apart again.

The second chance at romance trope is one of my absolute favorites. The characters already know each other, so there is already a believable connection and lots of chemistry. These stories can show us redemption, forgiveness and offer a huge emotional pay-off. Maya Banks’s Safe At Last is the final installment of the thrilling Slow Burn series and it’s a well-executed tale of characters finding a second chance at love.

[Let love go and if it comes back?]

Sat
Jun 13 2015 10:30am

Save the Vampires: Kate Baxter’s The Last True Vampire

The Last True Vampire by Kate Baxter

Romance lovers have been generously spoiled over the past few years with awesome vampire series from Richelle Mead, JR Ward, Kresley Cole, Lynsay Sands, Gena Showalter, and Lara Adrian. Not to mention the embarrassment of riches on TV and in movies: Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, The Originals and before that, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Bizarrely, some people think that this awesome vampire cultural saturation has passed and that vampires are “over.” Some have even moved onto zombies and dragons. Many of the authors I mentioned have been branching into contemporary romance, erotica and even YA. Could it really be that the vampire romance trend has passed?

Perhaps Kate Baxter’s The Last True Vampire plot is analogous to the concern that vampires are a threatened species—the hero Mikhail is indeed the last vampire in existence. However, Baxter beautifully blends together vampire lore, romance and action in this fantastic book and definitely proves that the vampire genre is by no means dead.

In The Last True Vampire, Michael or Mikhail is the last of the Ancient Ones. Alpha. Sexy. The kind of tortured Byronic hero that is going to break your heart before he puts it back together again. The heroine Claire is one strong ass femme fatale, street smart, admirable and fierce—but check your pocket if you cross paths with her because the little hustler totally just swiped your wallet. When Mikhail meets Claire, he recognizes her as the one who can save him:

After a century of pain, the unending torture of his existence, he’d found the only creature who could wake him from his stupor and return his soul to him. Immeasurable strength fueled every movement and he was no longer the shade of the vampire he’d once been.  The world melted away until there was only her. He’d found the one thing he needed to survive in this gods-forsaken world.

[Let the saving begin...]