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July 30, 2014
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July 25, 2014
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Showing posts by: Sahara Hoshi click to see Sahara Hoshi's profile
Mon
Jul 21 2014 1:30pm

First Look: Kylie Scott’s Lead (July 29, 2014)

Lead by Kylie ScottKylie Scott
Lead
St. Martin's Press / July 29, 2014 / $14.99 print / $3.99 digital

As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it's booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.  

Lena's not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him. 

Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series has taken the world by storm. While the first two books were a blend of humor, romance and angst, Scott’s Lead takes a more serious tone in this friends-to-lovers story. Focusing on Stage Dive's tortured lead singer, Jimmy, who is battling alcoholism and substance abuse, Scott presents a heroine in the form of the quirky and hilarious, Lena, Jimmy’s sobriety companion.

[And soon-to-be life companion?]

Sat
Jul 19 2014 12:07pm

First Look: Mina Vaughn’s How to Reprimand Your Rock Star (July 21, 2014)

How to Reprimand Your Rock Star by Mina VaughnMina Vaughn
 How to Reprimand Your Rock Star
Pocket Star / July 21, 2014 / $4.99 digital

Thea is a star basketball player at UConn on track to be Rookie of the Year. That is, if she can stay focused on the game. Lately that hasn’t been going so well, as her knee has been bothering her. But that’s not the only thing on her mind…

Ever since rock star Keaton Lowe surprised her in the girl’s locker room, Thea can’t stop thinking about him. On top of his status and enticing ways, he seems to know everything about her. But some of his actions cross the line, and Keaton needs to be punished. Will Thea keep her head in the game, or get distracted by her other favorite pastime—reprimanding her rock star?

As the follow up to How to Discipline Your Vampire, Mina Vaughn takes a foray into the world of New Adult and adds a bit of female domination to the mix. Thea, short for Athena, is a star basketball player at the University of Connecticut; she’s also a freshman who comes across the sexy rock star, Keaton Lowe. After a sexy interlude in the locker room sparks fly.

[Rock on!...]

Fri
Jul 4 2014 10:00am

Beyond Borders: Loving Outside Your Country in Romance Novels!

Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha YoungOne of the first times I encountered a romance where people from different countries meet and fall in love was Sharon Creech’s Bloomability: Girl goes to awesome international boarding school, meets boy and comes of age. It makes sense that romance authors would like to take people from two entirely different cultures and throw them together. For example, the Dublin Street series by Samantha Young features two romances where an American citizen falls for a Scotsman: the first book in the series, On Dublin Street, and the third book, Before Jamaica Lane. On Dublin Street's Joss is a heroine with a tragic past and Braden is the perfect alpha male counterpart. Meanwhile, Nate and Olivia in Before Jamaica Lane present a great friends-to-lovers story all set amidst Scotland’s capital.

If you’re a fan of Irishmen you need to pick up Edie Harris’s Stripped, a great little novel about a make-up artist heroine (love the diversity in her job) and a new European heartthrob, Declan. Fiona is a reluctant heroine, so Declan finds the process of taking down her walls that much sweeter. Together, the pair sizzle while Fiona tries (and mostly fails) to keep things professional with Declan.

[Don't worry, we won't call HR...]

Fri
Jun 27 2014 9:30am

First Look: Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Oblivion (July 1, 2014)

Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuireJamie McGuire
Beautiful Oblivion<
Atria / July 1, 2014 / $16.00 print, $7.99 digital

Fiercely independent Camille “Cami” Camlin gladly moved on from her childhood before it was over. She has held down a job since before she could drive, and moved into her own apartment after her freshman year of college. Now tending bar at The Red Door, Cami doesn’t have time for much else besides work and classes, until a trip to see her boyfriend is cancelled, leaving her with a first weekend off in almost a year.

Trenton Maddox was the king of Eastern State University, dating co-eds before he even graduated high school. His friends wanted to be him, and women wanted to tame him, but after a tragic accident turned his world upside down, Trenton leaves campus to come to grips with the crushing guilt.

Eighteen months later, Trenton is living at home with his widower father, and works full-time at a local tattoo parlor to help with the bills. Just when he thinks his life is returning to normal, he notices Cami sitting alone at a table at The Red.

As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, Cami believes she’ll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever—even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart.

When I first received a Kindle a couple of Christmases ago, I devoured and still devour independently written stories. That was my first experience with Jamie McGuire’s previous work Beautiful Disaster. I liked Abby and Travis so much that I picked up the sequel, Walking Disaster, and now we come full circle with Beautiful Oblivion. There is something cracktastic about the world she has created and the characters who inhabit it, and Beautiful Oblivion's Cami and Trent are no exception.

[What makes them so...beautiful?]

Tue
Jun 24 2014 3:00pm

She’s the Boss: Female Domination in Romance Novels

Natural Law by Joey W. HillWhile there are many submissive heroines waiting to be swooped up by the next dominant billionaire hero, there are far  fewer female dommes taking control in the bedroom. Usually, when the word femdom comes up in romance, one author comes to mind: Joey W. Hill. Her contemporary erotic romance, Natural Law, is a classic in femdom romance.

The book tells the story of male submissive and cop, Mackenzie (Mac) Nighthorse and his Mistress, Violet. The backstory revolves around murders taking place in a BDSM club;  Mac infiltrates the club, where he meets Violet and things start to evolve between them personally, with the book taking a look at the deep levels of connection and trust between the submissive and Mistress. Paranormal fans will also enjoy Hill’s Vampire Queen series which again explores power control between strong females and the capitulation of what on the outside appear to be alpha male heroes.

If you are looking for the traditional BDSM relationship, but in a sci-fi setting, try Christine d’Abo’s Mistress Rules and Bound Odyssey by Michelle Polaris. In d’Abo’s book, the heroine, Stella, is a Mistress to the space warlord Ulric and ends up teaching both Ulric and his associate, Faris, a thing or two. In Bound Odyssey, a female dominant, a male switch and a typical alpha male come together to explore the definitions of domination and submission while facing a dying earth. The heroine, Mira and male switch, Roman, must convince the alpha male Jace to submit to ensure their survival on a female-dominated planet.

[You gotta do what you gotta want to do to survive...]

Thu
Jun 19 2014 12:00pm

Meatball Head and Other Terms of Endearment: Mooning Over Sailor Moon

The Sailor Scouts are here to vanquish evil, and that means you!When Cartoon Network still had a little thing called Toonami, they showed Japanese anime around the clock. One of the shows was about a ditzy girl who gets the power to transform into a defender of justice. That was Sailor Moon.

It’s been 20 years since  Sailor Moon premiered in Japan, and now a reboot based on the original manga by Naoko Takeuchi called Sailor Moon Crystal is in the works. The reboot will cover the first arc of the manga featuring Sailor Moon and the four inner Sailor Scouts: Mercury, Mars, Venus and Jupiter, all fighting against an evil queen.

[And they're here to vanquish it with the power of love!]

Fri
Jun 13 2014 9:30am

I’m a Lumberjack and I’m…a Romance Hero? Lumberjack Heroes from McKenna, Kelley, Harper and More!

Love the beards, the smell of evergreens or just the outdoors? Then it’s likely you’ve come across or should read a book with a lumberjack hero. Some people might have a problem with the whole cutting down trees thing, but the hero in Penny Watson’s Lumberjack in Love, Marcus Anderson, actually cares about the environment and conservation. Together with his bulldog and the great state of Vermont, he’ll try to win the heart of the city-loving Ami Jordan.

Sometimes the hero is more of a broody, sexy hero whose personality and axe come between an existing couple like the hero Patrick in Cara McKenna’s Ruin Me. Robin wants to marry Jay, but can’t forget about the sexy lumberman who saved her one night. With Jay’s permission, Robin embarks on a journey to get Patrick out of her system. The only question is: can she?

Another erotic take on lumberjacks is featured in Ava Lovelace’s short and sweet The Lumberfox, the first in her Geekrotica series. Although not a lumberman by trade, hero Ryon fits the lumberjack stereotype, plaid shirts, facial hair and all. The meet-cute in this story is a car accident in the middle of a gigantic snow storm.

[You gotta stay warm somehow right?...]

Mon
May 26 2014 9:30am

Getting Spirited Away by Manga, LeGuin, Ashley and More

In 2001, I was transfixed by a fantasy tale flowing across a movie screen about a little girl who entered a fantasyland full of mysterious creatures. Less of an acid trip than Alice in Wonderland for me, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away started my obsession with the plot line of individuals entering a new realm of fantasy.

Shortly after seeing Miyazaki’s film, an older me discovered what would be my first introduction to fantasy romance, Escaflowne, that actually came out the year before Spirited Away. The main character Hitomi was a high school girl to whom I could relate: Sleepless and depressed, she wants to escape the monotony of day to day life and thus she is swept away into Gaea, a mysterious world where she faces a destiny as “The Winged Goddess.”

[Let's get spirited away...]

Sat
May 24 2014 10:00am

Libraries, Bracelets, and Hearts: The 10 Most Coveted Items in Romance from KCole, Singh, Rocha, and More!

Have you ever read a romance novel and said, “I want that?” I know I have. Or has the hero done some romantic gesture that just sweeps you offer your feet? Yeah, I thought so. Below are the top 10 coveted items/actions that heroes have given heroines; some are material some are sexual, but all have given readers an OMG response.

1. The charm bracelet from Nalini Singh’s Heart of Obsidian: Who doesn’t have all the feels when Kaleb gives a certain bracelet and charms to an aptly named heroine? Each charm is special and has a special meaning to Kaleb as well as the heroine, Sahara. I don’t even wear bracelets, but after reading this book I want one.

2. The Diamond Rose from Nalini Singh’s Angels’ Blood: Okay, so this is meant to entice the heroine into an angelic booty call, but come on. It’s a ROSE made out of DIAMONDS. Call me shallow and superficial, but Elena’s reaction to the rose is even better, she sends the archangel Raphael packing and looking for more creative gifts.

[Go, go gadget! What else is there...]

Fri
May 16 2014 2:00pm

X-Tra Special: What to Read if You Love the X-Men

X-Men: Days of Future Past movie posterX-Men is a defining Marvel work and spans multiverses, literally. The premise however, of a rag-tag group of genetically different individuals fighting crime while facing oppression from the outside world is a simple yet profound concept. With X-Men: Days of Future Past set to hit the big screen this summer, here are some recommended reads if you enjoy people with power.

The first recommendation is an author who writes for Marvel as well, Marjorie M. Liu’s Dirk and Steele series. The first book, Tiger Eye, is especially recommended for those enjoyed Gena Showalter’s The Pleasure Slave or Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Fantasy Lover. Sexy hero locked inside a puzzle box? Check. Psychic heroine? Check. The pair make a winning combination for the first entry into a great series about the Dirk and Steele agency.

[Seems like all the boxes are checked!]

Mon
Apr 14 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Charlotte Stein’s Beyond Repair (April 16, 2014)

Beyond Repair by Charlotte SteinCharlotte Stein
Beyond Repair
Ellora's Cave / April 16, 2014 / $5.95 digital

When Alice Evans finds a bona fide movie star on the floor of her living room, she has no idea what to do. Ordinary men are frightening enough, never mind someone as famous and frankly gorgeous as Holden Stark.

However, once she realizes that Holden is suffering behind that famous facade, she knows she has to help. He needs someone like her to give him a taste of sweetness and desire and love. He needs normality. The only problem is—Alice is hiding a secret that is far from normal. In fact, her name isn’t even Alice at all.

And once Holden finds out, the intense connection they are just beginning to build may well be torn apart.

Beyond Repair is hands down my favorite Charlotte Stein book so far. Period. We are introduced to Alice, a 20-year-old, hermit by the beach, as she encounters heartthrob Holden Stark, a.k.a. Captain Amazing. Stein has created a great timid-girl-meets-messed-up-movie-star story. The title, Beyond Repair, does not just apply to the messed-up movie star hero, but also the painfully shy heroine whose secrets we discover later on.

[Could they be a perfect match?...]

Wed
Apr 9 2014 1:00pm

Rock and Roll-hers: The Women of Rock in Romance

Women of rock in romance are not rare like unicorn rare, but they can be hard to find. But they're out there! Let's start off with the aptly titled Rock Chick series by Kristen Ashley. While not all of them play in bands, the women in the series embrace the rock 'n’ roll life style, going to concerts, some fight crime and fall in love with hotties while staying true to themselves.

The most notable rock 'n’ roll female I’ve come across has been Regan Elliot, from Olivia Cunning's Double Time. Regan is so good at guitar that one of the heroes, Trey, mistakes her for the guitarist from his band Sinners. She’s not a singer or eye candy, she’s an honest to god guitar goddess. Oh, and she hooks up with Trey and her roommate, Ethan, so yeah, rock and roll ménage!

A woman who works in rock 'n’ roll, but is not a rocker herself is the heroine of Cunning’s Wicked Beat, Rebecca. Rebecca has an unusual job for a romance heroine—she’s a sound engineer and is working with The Sinners in her brother's stead. The Sinners’ drummer, Eric Sticks falls in love at first sight and the two begin a whirlwind romance with some angst, humor and some sexy role play.

[Nothing wrong with role play...]

Tue
Mar 25 2014 1:30pm

First Look: Kylie Scott’s Play (March 25, 2014)

Kylie Scott
Play
St. Martin's Griffin / March 25, 2014 / $14.99 print / $3.99 digital

Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast—at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl.

Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls—especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?

The second book in the Stage Dive series from Kylie Scott features my favorite hero of the year so far, Malcolm aka Mal, the playful and flirty drummer of Stage Dive. Anne, the heroine of Play, is an acquaintance of Evelyn, the heroine of the first book in the Stage Dive series, Lick. Anne is down on her luck as far as roommates and money are concerned, so when she meets Mal she becomes caught up in a whirlwind relationship that will change her life.

[Life-changing is good, right?]

Sat
Mar 15 2014 2:00pm

Bears Are the New Black: Werebears in Romance

Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter by Jessica SimsBears are the next werewolves and werecats. Skeptical? Hear me out: Many writers have featured bears in a number of their books. Early adopters of the werebear protagonists and prominent figures in the paranormal romance community include Sherrilyn Kenyon, whose Bad Moon Rising and No Mercy feature members of the beloved Peltier clan, which has been a fixture in the Dark Hunter universe for quiet a while, but have more recently been in books within the overall Dark Hunter canon.

Jessica Sims’s Midnight Liaisons series features a bear hero in Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter and the same hero’s jilted fiancée from an arranged marriage in Bear Naked, a Midnight Liaisons novella. The bear hero, Ramsey, and the novella heroine, Nikolina, come from a pretty conservative bear clan.

The use of the bear clan or pack or whatever as a conservative society can be found in other novels such as D’Elan McClain’s Fang Chronicles: Mandy’s Story. Mandy falls in love with a bear and the two are mates, but werewolf Mandy has to get used to the male-dominated as well as conservative bear clan.

The idea of bear clans having a strict set of codes and morals isn’t limited to romance fiction. Just look at Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass; the armored bear, Iorek Bryninson, lives in a society determined by a number of codes, including those of honor.

[Bears always command respect...]

Mon
Mar 3 2014 2:45pm

Love Under the Big Top: Circus-Themed Romances

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternCircus-themed romances are few and far between, but a few stand out as literary gems—and then there are some that would make the Ringling Brothers blush.

The first book that stands out in most people’s minds is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which is a Romeo and Juliet story with dueling magicians, Celia and Marco. You’ve got magic, history, and a rich backstory, all of which has put this book on the best-seller list.

A common theme in circus romances is the idea of the hero or heroine running away to look for a fresh new start. The nature of the circus is by and large nomadic, the performers and workers literally pick up and go on to the next destination. For many heroines (and in a few cases a hero), this presents a unique opportunity to start fresh with a group that they want to be a part of.

For fans of young adult, Kendall Ryan writing as Ryann Kerekes presents The Cirque about a good girl ballerina named Ariel and a bad boy knife thrower named Gabriel. For those of you who found the knife throwing scene in Divergent suspenseful, basically take the sexual tension between Tris and Four, add the circus to it and you’ve got The Cirque. Ariel is a good girl looking for adventure while Gabriel is running away from his problems. The Cirque is a tightly written young adult novel that presents the circus as a backdrop for angst and romance.

[Run away and join the circus...]

Wed
Feb 26 2014 10:30am

First Look: Anne Bishop’s Murder of Crows (March 4, 2014)

Murder of Crows by Anne BishopAnne Bishop
Murder of Crows
Penguin / March 4, 2014 / $26.95 print, $10.99 digital

After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader—wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now, the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

As an urban fantasy novel, the romance in Anne Bishop's Written in Red took a backseat to the fast-paced action and snippets of Courtyard life that involved Meg settling into life outside the Controller’s evil clutches. Murder of Crows sees Meg coming more into her own and trying to define the different relationships around her. As a heroine, Meg is an extremely young 24, having no prior experience with life outside of the cassandra sangue prison. With Simon’s Other nature, the Wolf and skinship are an intimate part of who he is, yet the pair put clear parameters around what can and cannot develop between a human and an Other, especially given Meg’s limited life experience.

[Good luck with that, guys...]

Sun
Feb 23 2014 11:00am

Scott Pilgrim vs. New Adult: Scott Pilgrim, The Makings of a New Adult Heroine

Scott Pilgrim vs. The WorldWhen the film version of the comics series Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was released in 2010, I dove into Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series, which takes place over six black and white volumes. This post isn’t a recap of the series, but rather how Scott Pilgrim is literally and figuratively the perfect new adult hero, or more particularly, heroine (not in terms of age, but trope).

When we first meet Scott, he’s dating the high schooler, Knives Chau. All of his friends think this is a bad idea but he goes about it anyway until he meets manic pixie dream girl Ramona Flowers. Scott’s stuck in a Peter Pan rut; he’s fine living with his friend Wallace and not making much progress in his life. It’s not until he meets Ramona and has to face down her seven evil exes that he progresses on with his life.

How does this parallel the new adult prototype,you ask? In New Adult romance, the hero (or more often the heroine), continues about the day to day until something or usually someone acts as the catalyst for change. For example, take Jamie McGuire’s hugely successful Beautiful Disaster; it’s not until Abby meets the over-the-top Travis that her life changes into a world of emotional angst. How often does the back blurb of a New Adult romance novel read, “X was just living a blase college life until Y came along” or how often does the story of a protagonist come of age while taking on some emotional or actual life journey?

[Now that you mention it...]

Fri
Feb 7 2014 12:40pm

First Look: Suzanne Wright’s Carnal Secrets (February 11, 2014)

Carnal Secrets by Suzanne WrightSuzanne Wright
Carnal Secrets
Montlake / February 11, 2014 / $12.95 print, $9.99 digital

Half-shifter Shaya Critchley may hold a submissive role in her pack, but she’s done taking orders. After her Alpha wolf mate refused to claim her—but committed to interfering in her life—she took off. Now she hides from him, posing as a human in a town full of anti-shifter extremist groups. She thinks he’ll never find her again, and that suits her just fine. But she’s wrong.

Nick Axton can barely control his feelings for Shaya, but he could never claim her—not if he truly cares for her. The degenerative brain condition he keeps secret would ultimately leave her with a burden rather than a mate. But when Shaya runs away, Nick can’t bear the thought of never seeing her again. After tracking her down, he discovers Shaya’s feisty and passionate side in the process…a side he’d never seen before.

Under the menacing gazes of territorial local packs and violent human extremists, Nick vows to finally claim the spirited Shaya…and despite her initial resistance, Shaya just might find his fiery determination to be the ultimate aphrodisiac.

The third book in Suzanne Wright’s Phoenix Pack series tells the story of Shaya running from the mate claim of brooding alpha, Nick Axton. Shayla is the best friend of the heroine from Feral Sins. In Wright’s world, wolves’ true mates can be determined by something as simple as a first look and such is the case between Nick and Shaya. Once Nick rejects the claim, however, Shaya puts herself out of sight, but not out of mind for Nick.

[Go get her back, Nick...]

Mon
Feb 3 2014 11:15am

First Look: Megan Hart’s Every Part of You: Tempts Me (February 4, 2014)

Every Part of You: Tempts Me by Megan HartMegan Hart
Every Part of You: Tempts Me
St. Martin's Griffin / February 4, 2014 / $1.99 digital

Simone Kahan's been watching Elliott Anderson through her office window for months. He likes to bring women back to his office for late-night trysts, and Simone enjoys her voyeurism until one night, Elliott appears to go too far with his date. The other woman might not be into spanking, but Simone is, and when she meets Elliott in the elevator later that night, she makes sure he’s intrigued enough by her to ask her to go with him to the party he no longer has a date for.

Thrown together by circumstances he’d never have imagined, Elliott isn’t sure what to think about Simone. She’s nothing like the women he normally dates, but something about her draws him in until he can’t stop himself from wanting her…until their goodnight kiss becomes something harder. Harsher.  Simone responds to his rough hands as no woman ever has, and Elliott’s not ready to pursue what he’s always told himself is wrong.

Megan Hart writes ethereal erotica. Her prose is both real and completely accessible, yet seems almost a kind of fantasy when you read it. As a result, I decided to give the first part of this serial a chance despite my love for a more complete story. The setting is simple; Simone is a voyeur who works in the same building as Elliot. Simone likes it rough, Elliot likes to give it rough. After viewing a disappointing date on Elliot’s part, Simone makes herself available for a night with Elliot.

[Just one night?...]

Wed
Jan 8 2014 10:30am

With Sticks and Stones, Can Romance Bloom?: Bullying in Romance

Bully by Penelope DouglasMost little girls are told at some point that if a boy is picking on her, that means he likes her. But what happens when bullying goes from juvenile to adolescence to adulthood? A few new releases are tackling the topic.

Penelope Douglas's New Adult book, Bully, tells the story of Tate, a young woman who has been tormented by her former friend, Jared (Douglas has donated part of the profits from the book to PACER.org, an anti-bullying organization). At its heart, Bully is the story of two friends whose relationship becomes tempestuous and rife with angst. Jared previously went out of his way to make Tate’s life unpleasant and her only real reprieve was when she was studying abroad in France. Since it is a romance, love blossoms and readers later find out the reasoning behind Jared’s actions. Douglas follows up with Jared and readers are even given further perspective in a follow-up book, Until You.

[Bully to love interest?...]