<i>Lady Emily's Exotic Journey</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Lady Emily's Exotic Journey: Exclusive Excerpt Lillian Marek “I begin to think that this will be a most interesting voyage." <i>That Night with the CEO</i>: Exclusive Excerpt That Night with the CEO: Exclusive Excerpt Karen Booth “Hey, you’re the one suggesting showers. Not me.” <i>Dragonbane</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Dragonbane: Exclusive Excerpt Sherrilyn Kenyon "Growling in fury, she’d straddled him, fully intending to take his offer..." <i>Perfect Touch</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Perfect Touch: Exclusive Excerpt Elizabeth Lowell "She looked eerily beautiful, like a dream."
From The Blog
August 1, 2015
H&H ICYMI: RITA and Golden Heart Winners, The Bourbon Kings, Age of (Digital) Discoverability, and more!
Team H & H
July 31, 2015
Friday Beefcake: Tom Hiddleston vs. Sam Heughan
Team H & H
July 31, 2015
Popular LGBTQ Ships in Pop Culture
Megan Erickson
July 31, 2015
10 Things You Should Know About Eve Langlais
Heather Massey
July 30, 2015
How Do You Find New-to-You Romance Authors?
Scarlettleigh
Showing posts by: Sahara Hoshi click to see Sahara Hoshi's profile
Fri
Jul 24 2015 9:30am

Earth, Wind, Fire, and Air...and More: Cassandra Gannon’s The Elemental Phases Series

Queen of the Magnetland by Cassandra Gannon

I took a look on my Amazon recommendations and saw a title called The Queen of Magnetland. Seeing as this was the first book in a series and I was jonesing for something X-Men/fantasy-like I decided to one-click the first book in Cassandra Gannon’s Elemental series, Warrior from the Shadowland. What I didn’t know at the time is that I would spend the next five days reading this cracktackular series.

The Elemental Phases is completely different from any other paranormal/fantasy world out there. The basic idea is that immortal beings called Phases that exist keep the world moving. Each Phase is born into an Elemental house. Where this idea gets really cool is that the Phases aren’t just earth, water, air, fire a la Captain Planet. Instead there are Cloud Phases, Color Phases, Magnet Phases, Electricity Phases, etc. each of which upholds that element on Earth. When the series starts, the Elemental Phase community has been decimated by a plague released by the Air House. Now, literal elements in the universe are falling apart because there are not enough of individual Phases left in some of the Houses to sustain a particular element. One example is Cloud House, the Cloud Phases are extinct so now clouds look flat and have no shape to them.

In addition to the cool array of elements included in the series, you also have a fated mate trope as Phases want to find their Phase-Match, basically their soul mate. At the beginning of the series, Cross, the last of the Shadow Phases finds his soulmate in Nia of the Water House. The two must work together to try and find a cure for the plague that is decimating their people while at the same time falling in love. The sex scenes, known as Phasing, aren’t particularly graphic but still romantic.

[Join the elements of ....]

Fri
Jul 17 2015 2:00pm

Be Wary of the Fairy: Why Fairies are a Bad Bet in Romance

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Most romance readers are familiar with the twisted take on faeries within romance novels. But really, why do fairies, especially the male protagonist/antagonist ones have to be such big pains? There is something compelling about a twist on the fairy tale that lures in both the protagonist and the reader. For example, the handsome, yet later, menacing V’Lane tempts Karen Marie Moning’s Mac in the Fever series and who, as it turns out, can’t be trusted. In fact, if you are an urban fantasy heroine, trusting a fairy is never, ever a good idea—neither is falling in love with one. Here’s why:

1. They Come with WAY TOO MUCH Baggage (See Evil Fairy Queen)

Usually where there is a male fairy protagonist, there is an evil fairy queen wanting to possess his soul...or something. Such is the case with Tamlin in Sarah J. MaasA Court of Thorns and Roses. This was the book that lead to this post and the pondering, “Why are fairies such a bad bet?” Well, Tamlin’s case is a textbook example of male fairy with huge female baggage. Maas’ evil fairy queen, Amarantha is truly a baddie. She puts the poor heroine, Feyre through a bunch of ridiculous tasks and still manages to (spoiler alert) kill Feyre’s human body. The same trope is true of Pippa Da Acosta’s City of Fae comes complete with a bad boy fairy rocker and a giant evil spider queen. Did I mention spiders? Lots and lots of spiders, so many that if I was the protagonist Alina, I would have burnt down London.

[Mmmm, another fairies book?]

Mon
Jul 13 2015 2:00pm

Burn Baby Burn: The Hidden World of Demons in Suzanne Wright’s Burn

Burn by Suzanne Wright

Suzanne Wright was an author whose work jumped out at me quickly a couple years ago. She has released multiple paranormal books about wolf shifters and vampires as well as a successful contemporary, From Rags. Feeding the need for more paranormal romance, I recently picked up Burn, the first in Wright’s Dark in You series.

For readers familiar with Wright’s Deep in Your Veins, vampire series, Burn’s hero, Knox Thorne, demon extraordinaire should be familiar. If however, you skipped the vampires and went straight to demons, don’t worry, Wright has you covered. She introduces the world of the demons and their vicious Underground quite well. The heroine, Harper Wallis, is pretty amazing as well. A she-demon, tattoo artist and a sphinx (yes a sphinx demon! How cool is that), Harper can take care of herself. It’s shortly after the two meet that they discover they have a psychic connection. Wright plays around with the fated person trope a bit in establishing a demon’s anchor. An anchor is someone who psychically links with another demon and the pair support as well as stabilize the beast within.  We don’t immediately find out what Knox is (and I’m not going to tell you because spoilers) but let’s just say the reveal is worth the wait.

Both demons have their own personal problems to face. Knox is super powerful and not used to having someone care for him or not rely on him for some ulterior purpose like protection. Harper is the opposite, an extremely private person who does not rely on others and who, while being dependable for friends and family, tends to comport herself with the fear that if she gets too close to someone, that person will abandon her. Another interesting part of the anchor set up is that it does not have to be romantic or sexual in nature. In fact, several of the characters introduced within Burn have an anchor relationship but are not romantically involved with their anchor. In addition, anchors do not seem to be limited to male and female pairings, although the anchor pairings that do show up in the book are male and female.

[Welcome to the demon world where things are hot...]

Sun
Jul 12 2015 10:30am

First Look: Charlotte Stein’s Never Loved (July 21, 2015)

Charlotte Stein
Never Loved (Dark Obsession #1)
Loveswept / July 21, 2015 / $3.99 digital

Perfect for fans of Katy Evans, the first novel in the Dark Obsession series tells the story of a beautiful wallflower who falls for a chiseled street fighter—and learns just how dangerous love can be.

Beatrix Becker spent most of her life under the thumb of her controlling, abusive father. And now that she’s free and attending her dream college, she has no idea how to act like the normal crowd: partying, going on dates, even having a conversation. Then she meets Serge Sorensen. Big and surly with a whole host of riotous tattoos, Serge is supposed to scare the hell out of her. But beneath his harsh exterior, Beatrix discovers a kindred spirit who knows what it’s like to be a misfit. Most exhilarating—and terrifying—is what he does for a living: illegal street fighting.

There’s nothing like the rush Serge gets from the intense athleticism and brutal glory of combat—though his chemistry with Beatrix comes close. Slowly at first, he introduces her to his world, where he lives by instinct, passion, and desire. He even helps her out with her equally traumatized brother. But when Serge gets in too deep with the wrong people, he ends up paying in blood. And suddenly, just as Beatrix has been drawn into Serge’s perfectly sculpted arms, she’s thrown once and for all into the fight of his life.

Once again it’s time to break out the fangirl pom-poms as Charlotte Stein has a new release out that is more in line with her edgier New Adullt tone found in Sheltered. Never Loved begs the question, what if you could go for what you want despite how dangerous someone told you something was or what if you could be that edgier, cooler persona without facing any consequences? This is the feat, Beatrix, the heroine of Never Loved has to take on.

[Love is dangerous in this new series...]

Wed
Jun 24 2015 1:00pm

Up, Up, and Away: Superheroes in Love

Vigil by V.J. Chambers

Black Widow and the Avengers have given us multiple shipping options but here are some series that have the love story already laid out while the heroine and hero fight crime or sometimes, each other.

Vigil by V.J. Chambers is basically a New Adult Batman with a Lois Lane-like hero. Cecily Kane is looking for the scoop on Vigil, a masked crusader who apparently happens to be a billionaire. In this case, Cecily might be right to stay away and she’s a pretty naïve heroine, but if you got to hook up with the fictional equivalent of Batman wouldn’t you?

If you’re looking for something even more erotic and in the vein of a Batman-like hero, Hero by Leighton del Mia will definitely satisfy lovers of dark romance. Filled with tropes like the capture fantasy, dark erotica and just a heads-up, dubious consent, hero Calvin Parish literally whisks heroine Cataline Ford away for her own safety. Whether or not it’s for her own good is up to the reader to decide as the book presents dual points of view from both Calvin and Cataline.

[More superheroes trope novels we love...]

Thu
Jun 18 2015 9:30am

Turn the Trope Around: Heroines Take on Male-Dominated Tropes

To Professor With Love by Linda Kage

If I asked you to name common romance tropes most readers could give me a list: brother’s best friend, friends to lovers, alpha billionaire, etc. It’s time to turn these tropes on their heads and put some power in the hands of the female heroine.

A common and upcoming trope that has risen is the teacher-student trope. There have been a number of releases featuring a swoonworthy male teacher and his student—Tessa Bailey’s Need Me and Teresa Mummert’s Honor Student to name two. What I like seeing is the pairing of a female professor with a male student. Two works that feature this include: To Professor With Love by Linda Kage and “Miss Congeniality” by Shelly Laurenston, part of the When He Was Bad anthology.

To Professor With Love features the affair between Aspen, a young English professor and her student, Noel Gamble, the campus football superstar. There isn’t a huge age difference between the two as Aspen was a child prodigy and quickly accelerated to her position. However, the position of a female professor is unique as she has to navigate her passion for Noel Gamble as well as the social mores becoming a female faculty member. I know about this book because I beta read it and loved the idea of reversing the trope. Part of this interest had come from reading Shelly Laurenston’s “Miss Congeniality,” that features the ice-cold Irene Conridge. The ways she meets her future mate, Niles Van Holtz is hilarious, Van Holtz assumes Conridge is a student when she is in fact a professor. Once again, the female professor is a prodigy who rose to professor level status. The story itself is not about Van Holtz and Conridge as teacher and student but does take place in a university setting as well as having the hero lust over a female professor.

[More heroines who take on male dominated tropes...]

Mon
Jun 15 2015 9:30am

First Look: Chantal Fernando’s Arrow’s Hell (June 16, 2015)

Arrow's Hell by Chantal Fernando

Chantal Fernando
Arrow’s Hell (Wind Dragons MC #2)
Gallery / June 16, 2015 / $15.00 print, $3.99 digital

From bestselling author Chantal Fernando, the second book in a sexy romance series featuring the bad boys of the Wind Dragons Motorcycle Club and the women who fall in love with them. Being the younger sister of a Wind Dragons MC member isn’t as great as you’d think it would be. I can’t escape the details of my brother’s exploits. No one tells me anything. Men who know who I am tend to stay away from me. And worst of all: the members of the MC are off-limits. When Arrow catches my eye, I make it my mission to make him happy again. When I fall head over heels in love with him, I just hope he will be there to catch me. And that my brother doesn’t kill him…

In Chantal Fernando's Dragon’s Lair, the first book in the Wind Dragons MC series was in my favorites of 2014 so I jumped at the chance to review Arrow’s Hell. Taking place after a number of the events in Dragon’s Lair, Arrow’s Hell opens up with a small glimpse into what Arrow’s life is now, a life full of regrets and disappointment for not saying the things that were important at the right time. Enter Anna, the heroine and sister of one of the MC club members, Rake. If I had to categorize this installment of the Wind Dragons MC series, I’d put it as more intense than the Kristen Ashley Chaos series but on the lighter side of the kind of events we see in Joanna Wylde’s Reapers series. Arrow’s Hell does a great job of maintaining a fine balance between the interpersonal dynamics of Anna and Arrow while throwing in some MC club drama.

[It is all about the bad boys and the women they love...]

Wed
Jun 3 2015 2:30pm

Beyond Man’s Best Friend: Unusual Pets in Romance from Laurenston, Pierce, and More!

The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston

If you’re on Twitter, Facebook or any sort of social media, you’ve probably seen your friends’ pets or sometimes even your favorite authors’ pets. It’s not surprising when a hero or heroine has to take care of a fuzzy friend, but it is fun when they’re especially memorable.

The most recent read that had a memorable pet for me was Shelly Laurenston’s The Unleashing and the heroine’s pitbull, Brodie Hawaii. Not only does this pitbull get reincarnated into a Crow, a mythical warrior for the goddess Skuld, but also Brodie Hawaii is hilarious, basically living the life of luxury much to her mistress’ dismay. Add on the fact that the Crows’ leader is constantly bewailing their house’s lack of insurance and you’ve got comedic gold in the form of a pitbull with powers.

Sometimes a pet can make a hero look more badass or mysterious other times the pet makes the hero look a little…weird. I’d argue this is the case with the hero, Matt’s rabbit, Laurence, in the much beloved M. Pierce’s Night Owl, the first in the Night Owl trilogy. Not only does Matt own a rabbit which is a pretty normal pet, but the fact that he walks it at night makes it a bit quirky and readers who love the series say Laurence sometimes steals the show.

[More Unusual Pets in Romance]

Tue
Apr 28 2015 9:30am

First Look: Elle Kennedy The Mistake (April 28, 2015)

The Mistake by Elle Kennedy

Elle Kennedy
The Mistake (Off-Campus #2)
Elle Kennedy / April 28, 2015 / $4.99 digital

He’s a player in more ways than one…

College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.

Now he’s going to need to up his game...

After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild.

Do you like a good grovel from a hero and a whipsmart heroine? Then you’ll love Elle Kennedy’s The Mistake. The follow-up to Kennedy’s New Adult hockey romance The Deal, The Mistake features Logan, who thinks he’s pining after The Deal’s heroine, Wellsey. Enter young freshman, Grace who proves to be more than distracting to Logan and suddenly his best friend’s girlfriend isn’t the only thing on Logan’s mind. The Mistake is aptly named as Logan does screw up in a big way (no spoilers here though) and when he wants to get Grace back, she’s determined to make him work for it. What differentiates book 2 from the first book in the series is that there is a natural rhythm to the relationship between Logan and Grace.

[Their attraction is too strong to stay away.]

Thu
Apr 16 2015 5:00pm

Got the Magic in Me: Magical Girls Have It Tough from Sailor Moon, Laurenston, and More!

Sailor Moon and Luna from Sailor Moon
Source: sailorscoutsforever.tumblr.com

Re-watching clips of Sailor Moon, I realized that being a magical girl/heroine is pretty difficult. For those not familiar with the Sailor Moon storyline, basically the heroine is a reincarnated princess from a kingdom destroyed by evil and in her second life she must battle those same evil forces while gaining a second chance at true love.

Looking at romance novels, it’s pretty clear that heroines with magic are normally destined for a rough time. Paralleling the Sailor Moon case, Romina Russell’s young adult romantic adventure Zodiac places the fate of an entire planet on the shoulders of young Cancerian, Rho. After a tragedy strikes her home world, Rho is literally the chosen one to lead her planet. Not only does she have to convince people of the big bad threat that could destroy the Zodiac Houses, but she also has to make people trust her despite her age. As the first part of a trilogy, readers see how Rho struggles not only with her leadership role but also with a not-so-classic love triangle, add in the fact that this features astrology and you get a fun, but perilous journey of a young girl coming into her own.

[Learning lady stuff and magic stuff...]

Tue
Apr 14 2015 9:30am

First Look: Charlotte Stein’s Taken (April 14, 2015)

Taken by Charlotte SteinCharlotte Stein
Taken (Under the Skin #3
Avon Impulse / April 14, 2015 (digital); May 12, 2015 (print) / $3.99 print, $2.99 digital

It was just a prank I didn't want to be a part of. I never meant to hurt anyone, least of all Johann Weir. You wouldn't know that he sells literature for a living. He has these wild eyes—eyes that light something up in me—and he must be twice as big as I am, with strong, warm hands. Hands I try not to imagine everywhere.

He scares me. And thrills me.

But now the deed is done, and I have to face the consequences. He says he just wants to hold me here until the police come, but it's been hours and I'm still here.

Chained to a pipe in his back room like a prisoner.

The only person I have to talk to is Johann, and I tell him dark, shameful secrets—secrets that involve the metal around my wrist and him standing over me. But I can't stop. I need him to know everything. I need him.

Johann has his own secrets—ones he wants to tell me too. And more than anything, I want to listen. And maybe, before he sends me away, he'll punish me.

Just a little.

Just enough.

Charlotte Stein is an author with a certain set of skills (Liam Nesson joke made!) in terms of writing what I call the most awkward meet-cutes in the genre. Taken is no exception, as it begins with a lovely bit of larceny that Rosie, the main character, kind of stupidly agrees to. After getting caught because that’s probably what would happen to most of us, she ends up handcuffed in the basement/pseudo-bedroom of one possibly werewolf/crazy Johann, the hero and a quirky bookseller.

[He could be a killer...or a romance hero!...]

Mon
Apr 6 2015 2:30pm

First Look: Joanna Wylde’s Silver Bastard (April 7, 2015)

Silver Bastard by Joanna WyldeJoanna Wylde
Silver Bastard (Silver Valley #1)
Penguin / April 7, 2015 / $15.00 print, $5.99 digital

First in the new Silver Valley series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Reapers Motorcycle Club Novels

Fourteen months. For fourteen months, Puck Redhouse sat in a cell and kept his mouth shut, protecting the Silver Bastards MC from their enemies. Then he was free and it was time for his reward—full membership in the club, along with a party to celebrate. That’s when he saw Becca Jones for the first time and set everything in motion. Before the night ended he’d violated his parole and stolen her away from everything she knew.

Five years. It was five years ago that Puck destroyed Becca and saved her all in one night. She’s been terrified of him ever since, but she’s even more terrified of the monsters he still protects her from... But Becca refuses to let fear control her. She’s living her life and moving forward, until she gets a phone call from the past she can't ignore. She has to go back, and there’s only one man she can trust to go with her—the ex-con biker who rescued her once before.

Puck will help her again, but this time it’ll be on his terms. No more lies, no more tears, and no more holding back what he really wants...

Joanna Wylde has established herself as an author of MC (motorcycle club) books that are known for their grit and edge. While a plethora of MC books have flooded the market, Wylde’s ring true with a rawness and authenticity that makes her work so compelling.

[How does Silver Bastard measure up?...]

Mon
Mar 30 2015 9:30am

First Look: Kylie Scott’s Deep (March 31, 2015)

Deep by Kylie ScottKylie Scott
Deep
St. Martin's Press / March 31, 2015 / $14.99 print, $3.99 digital

Their one night stand wasn't supposed to end this way…

Positive. With two little lines on a pregnancy test, everything in Lizzy Rollins' ordinary life is about to change forever. And all because of one big mistake in Vegas with Ben Nicholson, the devastatingly sexy bass player for Stage Dive. So what if Ben's the only man who's ever made her feel out of control with desire? Lizzy knows the gorgeous rock star isn't looking for anything more permanent than a good time, no matter how much she wishes differently.

Ben knows Lizzy is off limits. Completely and utterly. She's his best friend's little sister, and no matter how hot the chemistry between them, no matter how sweet and sexy she is, he's not going to go there. But when Ben has a moment of weakness in Sin City, he learns that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there. Now he and Lizzie are connected in the deepest way possible...but will it lead to a true connection of the heart?

To say that I’m a Kylie Scott fangirl is an understatement. She’s written everything from post-apocalyptic romance to the highly successful Stage Dive series. With the close release of the Stage Dive books in succession, it could be quite easy for the series to have the same feel book after book. Scott, however, mixes things up. While Deep has the same feel in terms of the humor amongst the band and the characters are consistent, Lizzy and Ben are a completely different couple from that of, say, Lizzy’s sister, Annie, and drummer Mal.

[What's Lizzy and Ben's story like?...]

Wed
Feb 25 2015 2:00pm

Telling the Truth in Blood: Anne Bishop’s Others Series

Written in Red by Anne BishopWarning: This post contains SPOILERS for Anne Bishop's Others series.

Written in Red, the first book in Anne Bishop's urban fantasy series, starts off almost like many a romantic suspense novel: a mysterious character is on the run from her captors. What makes this scenario totally different, however, is where she finds refuge.

Readers are introduced to Meg Corbyn, a character who is mentally not quite a girl but not quite a woman on the run from those who have held her prisoner. There is magic in Meg’s blood—she is a cassandra sangue which translates to “blood prophet.” That means Meg gets glimpses of the future. The only problem? You have to cut Meg’s skin to do so. And there are a limited amount of times a cassandra sangue can be cut before she goes insane.

Meg ends up fleeing to the Lakeside Courtyard. There, Meg meets Others leader and shapeshifter Simon Wolfguard. To make a long story short, the two form a friendship where Meg now serves as the Liaison for the Others (vampires, shape shifters, etc.) who want human goods. Meg is basically a UPS store for the Others. As the leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, Simon is one part Meg’s boss, one part Meg’s friend, and one part Meg’s potential love interest.

[Love interest, did you say? Hmm!...]

Thu
Feb 19 2015 10:30am

First Look: Jackie Ashenden’s Living in Secret (February 24, 2015)

Jackie Ashenden
Living in Secret (Living In...)
Samhain / February 24, 2015 / $4.50 digital

Lawyers Connor and Victoria Blake had a high-powered marriage to match their meteoric careers—until a secret from Victoria’s past came back to haunt her. A year after it all fell apart, Victoria is ready for a new job, a new town.

Instead of signing the divorce papers, though, her husband has a tempting proposal—one week of no holds barred before moving on with their lives. She’s never stopped wanting him, but he’s always kept the deepest part of himself locked away.

Connor already endured one brutal betrayal in his life, and Victoria’s cut him to the core. But during a naughty game of one-upmanship with a sexy stranger, he sees a different woman, whose warmth and passion he craves like a drug.

In one week they expose dark passions that set them both free. But amidst searing desire that should fuse them together, Connor is coming to the brink of a decision to choose what’s more important. The last secret he’s holding inside, or the woman he can’t let go.

If there was an alternative title for this book it’d be “How to Fix Your Passionless Marriage with Really Hot Sex.” This is the third installment in Jackie Ashenden’s Living In … series and probably the most intriguing out of the three. The first two books explored sexuality and sensuality while dealing with some serious topics. Living In Shadow’s Luc dealt with the repercussions of being forced into service as a child soldier, while Living in Sin’s Kahu dealt with the painful past of building a life from poverty as well as prostitution.

[Secrets galore!]

Thu
Dec 18 2014 5:30pm

I Dream of Genies in Romance Novels from Showalter, Cassidy, and More!

Ever since I saw the television series I Dream of Jeannie on Nick at Night, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of someone having the ability to grant wishes. Luckily for romance readers, there are plenty of genie or djinn romances to choose from.

Heather Demetrios's Exquisite Captive is a recent Young Adult title that tells the story of Nalia, a young jinni who was owned by Malek and is offered freedom by the mysterious Raif, a leader of a revolution. Part mysticism and part young adult glamour, readers will enjoy being brought back and forth between Nalia’s former life as a captive and her current life as a free-spirited young woman deciding life on her own terms.

Before there was On Dublin Street, Samantha Young published Smokeless Fire, part of the Fire Spirits series. The book follows a young girl’s entrance into a complicated struggle between multiple factions, all the while dealing with a broken friendship and a complex love interest.

[It's like a magical boss-secretary trope...]

Tue
Dec 9 2014 10:30am

First Look: Katy Evans’s Ripped (December 9, 2014)

Ripped by Katy EvansKaty Evans
Ripped (Real)
Gallery / December 9, 2014 / $15.00 print, $7.99 digital

Pandora assumed getting her heart broken by her bad boy ex could only happen once—until Mackenna Jones comes back to town for the biggest concert of his career. They say girls are getting pregnant just thinking about the Crack Bikini tour and it's destined to be a huge hit.

Oh, it'll be a hit alright—when Pandora comes out swinging. She and her friend Melanie are determined to humiliate him onstage. But when they're caught by security and her ex is summoned, Mackenna decides not to press charges if she'll join him on tour and follow certain conditions—rules designed to give him the upper hand and keep her in close contact with him once again. Soon, the passion they once shared is reignited, and no matter how much Pandora wants to hate him, her hard exterior starts to crack.

And worse: Mackenna knows it, too. But he hasn't uncovered all her secrets... 

Before we begin, let’s just get the band name out of the way, Crack Bikini. Yes, the hero is part of a band named Crack Bikini. All good? Let’s continue. Fans of Katy Evans’s Real series will be familiar with Brooke’s prickly friend, Pandora. Pandora may seem like a woman with too much baggage and no excuse on her shoulders, but in Ripped you find out why she’s so jaded. The short answer is Kenna. Kenna and Pandora were young lovers with large plans, but things didn’t work out. Pandora didn’t give Kenna the instant “I love you,” that he needed, so he took off and got on the train to music stardom. Now Crack Bikini is in Pandora’s town and she wants revenge. Revenge leads to a reunion and the two are back arguing and at times snuggling between the sheets.

[Ripping our hearts out in the process?]

Tue
Dec 2 2014 10:30am

First Look: Monica Murphy’s Owning Violet (December 2, 2014)

Owning Violet by Monica MurphyMonica Murphy
Owning Violet (Fowler Sisters)
Bantam / December 2, 2014 / $15.00 print, $4.99 digital

I’ve moved through life doing what’s expected of me. I’m the middle daughter, the dutiful daughter. The one who braved a vicious attack and survived. The one who devoted herself to her family’s business empire. The one who met an ambitious man and fell in love. We were going to run Fleur Cosmetics together, Zachary and I.

Until he got a promotion and left me in the dust. Maybe it’s for the best, between his disloyalty and his wandering eye. But another man was waiting for me. Wanting me. He too has an overwhelming thirst for success, just like Zachary—perhaps even more so. He’s also ruthless. And mysterious. I know nothing about Ryder McKay beyond that he makes me feel things I’ve never felt before.

One stolen moment, a kiss, a touch . . . and I’m hooked. Ryder’s like a powerful drug, and I’m an addict who doesn’t want to be cured. He tells me his intentions aren’t pure, and I believe him. For once, I don’t care. I’m willing to risk everything just to be with him. Including my heart. My soul.

My everything.

Sometimes neither the hero nor heroine are very likeable at the start of a novel. That’s the case in Monica Murphy’s Owning Violet; neither Violet, who lets her current boyfriend cheat on her, nor her potential hero Ryder, who sets out to use Violet to get ahead in the company, are likeable at first. But what’s so great about Murphy's Owning Violet is how the characters change over time. I admit I thought Ryder was going to be an unredemptive jerk. Yes, he’s got a sordid past that drags him down, but there wasn’t a lot going for him when he announces his plan to sleep his way to the top. Violet comes across as a wishy-washy heroine who lets herself go along for the ride, abut s the story progresses you want to cheer for her as she exhibits more and more of the backbone that she lost along the way.

[Owning a backbone?]

Tue
Nov 25 2014 7:30pm

First Look: G.A. Aiken’s Light My Fire (November 25, 2014)

Light My Fire by G.A. AikenG.A. Aiken
Light My Fire (Dragon Kin #7)
Kensington / November 25, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

The trouble with humans is that they're far too sensitive. Forget you put a woman in the local jail for a few months—and she takes it so personally! And yet she is the one trying to assassinate the queen. And now I'm trapped with Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight…gods! That endless name!

But what am I to do? I am Celyn the Charming with direct orders from my queen to protect this unforgiving female.

Even more shocking, this unforgiving female is completely unimpressed by me. How is that even possible? But I know what I want and, for the moment, I want her. And I'm sure that she, like all females, will learn to adore me. How could she not when I am just so damn charming?

How do you keep a series relevant after so many books? G.A. Aiken seems to have the answer. Her Dragon Kin series has gone through the primary family members introduced in the series opener as well as touching on some cousins and other relatives. Light My Fire sort of brings the series home with the story of Celyn the Charming and Elina Shestakova. The romance between Celyn and Elina is hilarious, from the moment the pair meets to the time Celyn throws Elina in prison and leaves her there…for months.

[More like quench my fire, amirite?...]

Sat
Nov 22 2014 3:15pm

First Look: Gena Showalter’s The Darkest Touch (November 25, 2014)

The Darkest Touch by Gena ShowalterGena Showalter
The Darkest Touch (Lords of the Underworld)
Harlequin / November 25, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

Fierce immortal warrior. Host to the demon of Disease. Torin's every touch causes sickness and death—and a worldwide plague. Carnal pleasure is utterly forbidden, and though he has always overcome temptation with an iron will, his control is about to shatter.

She is Keeleycael. The Red Queen. When the powerful beauty with shocking vulnerabilities escapes from a centuries-long imprisonment, the desire that simmers between her and Torin is scorching. His touch could mean her end, but resisting her is the hardest battle he's ever fought—and the only battle he fears he can't win.

Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series has reached national as well as international fame, spawning a spin-off and a manga series. What’s so compelling about each book in the series is not only watching the heroine and hero come together, but it’s watching the hero’s internal struggle. Each of the Lords is unique as he or she is possessed by a demon. In The Darkest Touch, fan-favorite Torin, keeper of Disease, finally gets his chance at a happily-ever-after.

Torin’s demon is unique; Disease has rules that comes with it such as no-hand-to-hand, skin-to-skin contact, or otherwise a plague spreads. In addition, the disease that manifests itself is unique each time. If Torin touches an immortal who might weaken but survive the disease, he or she still becomes a carrier for whatever strain Disease decides to produce at that point. Enter Keelycael, the Red Queen, the last of an enigmatic species called Curators and powerful enough to take Torin as well as Disease on.

[Look who's finally met his match...]