H&H Reads <i>A Breath of Scandal</i> (6 of 6) H&H Reads A Breath of Scandal (6 of 6) Elizabeth Essex Are you ready to be reckless? Join us for the FINAL installment of the H&H Reads A Breath of Scandal <i>Uncensored Passion</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Uncensored Passion: Exclusive Excerpt Bobbi Cole Meyer "Kayla wrapped her arms around his strong neck and hugged him close." <i>Hell for Leather</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Hell for Leather: Exclusive Excerpt Julie Ann Walker "Lord almighty, how he wanted to touch her there, needed to touch her there." <i>The House on Blackberry Hill</i>: Excerpt The House on Blackberry Hill: Excerpt Donna Alward "He felt a shiver of anticipation that had...everything to do with the client."
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Showing posts by: Victoria Janssen click to see Victoria Janssen's profile
Tue
Mar 4 2014 10:30am

Jennifer Chance
Rock It
Loveswept / March 4, 2014 / $2.99 digital

Lacey Dawes is a total pro at the talent agency where she works, and it doesn’t hurt that IMO Worldwide Media represents Dante Falcone. The rock god has starred in her fantasies since she was sixteen—and remains her secret crush to this day. So when Dante picks her to be the interim manager on his Dream It tour, Lacey can’t believe her luck. Handling Dante is sure to be the most exquisite, spine-tingling, nerve-wracking mix of business and pleasure ever.

Although Dante is grateful for the adoring fans who scream for one more of his full-throttle, soul-searing songs, being surrounded by a cadre of corporate types backstage is wearing thin. Then Lacey shows up. Yeah, she’s organized, smart, quick to get him what he wants before he knows he wants it—but Dante senses there’s something else going on with sweet, sexy Lacey. One kiss tells him what that “something” might be . . . and makes him hungry for more.

Jennifer Chance is known for her Elizabethan England-set YA spy series, Maids of Honor. Rock It is her first contemporary romance, and though it’s for adults, the youths of both hero and heroine are important to the story. Lacey Dawes was a teenage fangirl of Dante Falcone, but she’s  grown beyond that now and sees the business of rock and roll as just that, a business in which she’s a junior talent agent with a lot of ambition. At least, she thinks she’s grown beyond it. She still has all of her memorabilia stored away, and makes sure to see as many of Dante’s concerts as she can, collecting a t-shirt for each performance. She still gets a serious thrill from seeing him perform, both emotionally and sexually.

[The thrill is far from gone!]

Mon
Feb 10 2014 10:30am

It's All Geek to Me by JL MerrowJL Merrow
It's All Geek to Me
Riptide / February 10, 2014 / $2.99 digital

Jez is on a mission of mercy: to replace a tragically deceased comic book for his injured best mate, Tel. Venturing into the Hidden Asteroid bookstore in London—the temple of geekdom itself—Jez is bowled over by the guy behind the counter.

Rhys is the poster boy for hot geeks: tall, gorgeous, and totally cool. Jez is desperate to impress him, so he bluffs his way through comic book jargon . . . and then dashes back to the hospital to beg Tel to teach him how to speak Geek.

Tel’s happy to oblige, and Jez is over the moon when Rhys asks him out. He’s even more thrilled when they discover a shared love of rugby, something he won’t have to fake for Rhys. The question is, how long can Jez keep up the deception, and what will happen when Rhys realizes he’s going out with a Fake Geek Guy?

If you’d like a quick introduction to JL Merrow’s work, the contemporary male/male romance, It’s All Geek to Me is a good place to start. It’s short and genuinely sweet, though with a touch of hot at the end. The endearing narrator makes it a fun read.

[Short, sweet, AND hot, all right!...]

Sun
Feb 2 2014 11:30am

Do or Die by Suzanne BrockmannSuzanne Brockmann
Do or Die
Ballantine / February 4, 2014 / $26.00 print, $12.99 digital

Navy SEAL Ian Dunn went rogue in a big way when he turned his talents to a lawless life of jewel heists and con jobs. Or so the world has been led to believe. In reality, the former Special Ops warrior is still fighting for good, leading a small band of freelance covert operatives who take care of high-stakes business in highly unofficial ways. That makes Ian the hands-down choice when the U.S. government must breach a heavily guarded embassy and rescue a pair of children kidnapped by their own father, a sinister foreign national willing to turn his own kids into casualties. Shockingly, Ian passes on the mission... for reasons he will not–or cannot–reveal.

But saying no is not an option. Especially not to Phoebe Kruger, Ian’s bespectacled, beautiful, and unexpectedly brash new attorney. Determined to see the abducted children set free, she not only gets Ian on board but insists on riding shotgun on his Mission: Impossible-style operation, whether he likes it or not.

Though Phoebe has a valuable knack for getting out of tight spots, there’s no denying the intensely intimate feelings growing between Ian and Phoebe as the team gears up for combat. But these are feelings they both must fight to control as they face an array of cold-blooded adversaries, including a vindictive mob boss who’s got Ian at the top of his hit list and a wealthy psychopath who loves murder as much as money. As they dodge death squads and play lethal games of deception, Ian and Phoebe will do whatever it takes to save the innocent and vanquish the guilty.

Fans of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series will enjoy Do or Die, a loosely-related spinoff novel to that series. Judging from the large cast of characters and their developing relationships, Do or Die seems destined for its own series, one with a more outside perspective than Troubleshooters, Inc.(Previous knowledge of that series isn’t at all necessary to understand and enjoy this book.)

[Jump right in...]

Wed
Jan 1 2014 11:30am

Alison DeLaine
A Gentleman 'Til Midnight
HQN / January 1, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Lady Katherine Kinloch survived captivity once. Now the notorious captain of her own ship, she refuses to let anyone jeopardize her hard-won freedom. But on a voyage to England to fight for her family's endangered estate, Katherine is thrown off course when she unknowingly rescues celebrated naval captain James Warre…a man who stands for everything she despises.

Haunted by regret for his role in her dark past, James is determined to be more than the cold, calculating officer Katherine expects. Her seduction is his obsession, but his pride hangs in the balance if he gives in to temptation. And hiding beneath the scorching attraction between them lies a secret that could force the two apart for good.

A Gentleman 'Til Midnight by Alison DeLaine follows the novella “A Lady By Day,” which was published in a single volume along with Stephanie Laurens’ “The Trouble with Virtue.” DeLaine’s first full-length novel explores the rivalry and romance between Captain James Warre, war-weary and shipwrecked, and the woman he once failed to save from slavers, Captain Katherine Kinloch.

[O Captains! My Captains!...]

Sun
Dec 22 2013 12:49pm

The Promise of Amazing by Robin ConstantineRobin Constantine
The Promise of Amazing
Harper Collins / December 31, 2013 / $17.99 print, $9.78 digital

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

The Promise of Amazing is Robin Constantine's Young Adult debut. Heroine Wren Caswell is recovering from her first real relationship while trying to decide what she wants to do with herself after high school: go to college, or stay home and continue to work at her parents' catering hall, the Camelot? Hero Grayson Barrett, meanwhile, knows he needs to change. He's recently been expelled from his expensive private school for selling term papers, and is trying to free himself from some even more dangerous activities and the friends who encouraged them, while at the same time dealing with the ambiguous relationship he has with his mother and her new husband. Wren and Grayson meet in a fateful encounter in which Wren literally saves Grayson's life. The story is told through their alternating first-person points of view, which gives a deep picture of their flaws and confusions.

[Can't get you outta my head...]

Mon
Nov 18 2013 2:00pm

Everlasting Enchantment by Kathryne KennedyKathryne Kennedy
Everlasting Enchantment
Sourcebooks Casablanca / December 3, 2013 / $7.99 print & digital

Sir Gareth Solimere, knight of King Arthur's Round Table, has been trapped inside Merlin's relic for centuries, cursed until he finds his one true love. When he finally finds her in the unexpected form of a beautiful were-panther named Millicent Pantere, he has to use all of his charms to try to make her love him in return. But if he manages this feat, will he finally be free to live a normal life?

Fourth in the Relics of Merlin series, Everlasting Enchantment by Kathryne Kennedy explores the initially reluctant attraction that were-panther Millicent Pantere feels for Sir Gareth Solimere, a medieval knight trapped within a magical bracelet. If you’re new to the series, as I was, there’s enough background given to follow the story, though I was a bit confused as to how historical it was meant to be; the English aristocracy in this world holds a very different place due to their magical abilities, and seems to keep itself much more separate from the non-magical classes than in our world. For instance, there’s an Underworld that is restricted to magic users. Given the existence there of a historical Merlin, and Sir Gareth’s chivalric behavior, it was clear the series takes place in a secondary world rather than our own, with the King Arthur of literature rather than a historically-based version.

[The legend's always better than the reality...]

Sun
Oct 20 2013 11:00am

Wallflower by Heidi BelleauHeidi Belleau
Wallflower
Riptide / October 21, 2013 / $6.99 digital

Art student and MMORPG addict Robert Ng has always been a loner, but he's recently made it his goal to make more (IRL) friends. Which is how he winds up working nights at Rear Entrance Video, shilling sketchy porn and blowup dolls as a favor to his roommate. The longer he works there, though, the more he realizes he’ll never be truly happy until he becomes the person he is online: his female persona, Bobby.

Bobby is cuter and funnier than Rob is, and a thousand times more popular with boys. Becoming Bobby IRL presents its own set of challenges, though . . . especially when you're sitting on the fence between two genders, only one of which has caught the attention of your seriously cute customer/classmate.

Dylan Ford is a six-foot Inuit comic book artist who always says what’s on his mind, and screw anyone who doesn't like it. As rough as he appears, though, Dylan has a soft spot for Rob. But will out-and-proud Dylan still want Rob if he's not all man?

Wallflower by Heidi Belleau is second in the “Rear Entrance Video” series, set in contemporary Vancouver, Canada. Though you do not need to have read the first book, Apple Polisher, to understand this one, characters from it appear in secondary roles. It’s a male/male erotic romance, with the added element of hero Rob Ng coming to terms with his gender identity over the course of the story. Conflicts involve Rob’s own worries about revealing his female persona, Bobby, to his boyfriend, as well as learning to negotiate prejudice and harassment.

[Love conquers all...]

Sun
Oct 6 2013 12:30pm

Mounting Danger by Karis WalshKaris Walsh
Mounting Danger
Bold Strokes / October 15, 2013 / $16.95 print

Sergeant Rachel Bryce’s determination to uphold the rules at any cost has made her a pariah on the Tacoma police force. When she is put in charge of the new mounted division, dissension in the ranks seems to guarantee the program’s failure. Rachel asks an old college acquaintance to help her train the horses and their riders before they make their public debut amid the fireworks and crowds on the Fourth of July.

Callan Lanford doesn’t play by the rules. She invents her own. The scion of a polo-playing dynasty, Cal has been riding since before she could walk, and she scores both on and off the field with equal ease. But she isn’t prepared for the emotional ride she takes as Rachel forces her to confront her achievement-oriented family’s rejection. Cal’s attraction to Rachel grows, but both their future together and the future of the mounted unit are uncertain, plagued by “accidents” and threats.

As Rachel and Cal battle a corrupt politician’s greed in the face of mounting danger, can their love prevail?

Mounting Danger by Karis Walsh combines a fascinatingly different police story with romance between police officer Rachel Bryce and champion polo player Callan Lanford. Rachel, who’s been ostracized from her fellow officers after reporting a cop and having him arrested, is abruptly put in charge of the Tacoma force’s new equestrian unit, just after the former sergeant was killed. She has an almost impossible task before her: getting the unit ready for crowd control in a limited period of time, while trying to figure out why the dead sergeant had secretively hampered the unit’s training at every turn. Her only hope for success with the mounted unit is convincing Callan Lanford, a wealthy, attractive polo player whom Rachel vaguely remembers from her own college polo days, to help out with training the police officers and their horses.

[I think we know where this is headed...]

Wed
Sep 25 2013 5:30pm

Heavy Metal Heart by Nico RossoNico Rosso
Heavy Metal Heart (Demon Rock #1)
Carina Press / September 30, 2013 / $2.99 digital

Rock Star. Front man. Demon. A descendant of satyrs and the lead singer in a band that feeds on the energy of its audience, Trevor Sand is growing weary of the constant need to perform. He needs the legend of the Muse—a woman destined to be a demon’s eternal companion and only source of sustenance—to be true.

Misty Grant has never been bold, but when Trevor singles her out among hundreds at a concert, she takes him up on his explicit offer. During an erotic night in his hotel room, she learns that his touch is as electric as his lyrics. But when Trevor’s demon is aroused, her desire turns to horror and she runs.

Knowing that he’ll die if he loses her, Trevor must find Misty before his enemies do. But even if he can save her, he knows that regaining the trust of his fated Muse will be his greatest challenge.

Heavy Metal Heart is first in the new Demon Rock series by Nico Rosso, a paranormal erotica series dense with heavy metal attitude. Hero Trevor Sand is a demon musician, centuries old, who must feed on the energy of audiences. He and his bandmates have reinvented themselves over time, both physically and in their music, and currently present themselves as a popular metal band. The idea of immortal musicians, and symbiotic relationships with audiences, is hardly new, but Rosso nicely sets up Trevor’s hard rocking persona, one that will be recognizable to anyone who’s ever watched “Behind the Music” or a rock documentary.

[Go behind the demon rock star...]

Tue
Aug 27 2013 9:30am

The Lotus Palace by Jeannie LinJeannie Lin
The Lotus Palace
Harlequin HQN / August 27, 2013 / $7.99 print / $6.15 digital

It is a time of celebration in the Pingkang Li, where imperial scholars and bureaucrats mingle with beautiful courtesans. At the center is the Lotus Palace, home of the most exquisite courtesans in China.

Maidservant Yue-ying is not one of those beauties. Street-smart and practical, she's content to live in the shadow of her infamous mistress—until she meets the aristocratic playboy Bai Huang.

Bai Huang lives in a privileged world Yue-ying can barely imagine, yet alone share, but as they are thrown together in an attempt to solve a deadly mystery, they both start to dream of a different life. Yet Bai Huang's position means that all she could ever be to him is his concubine—will she sacrifice her pride to follow her heart?

Jeannie Lin has previously written four romances for Harlequin Historical set in China; The Lotus Palace begins a new series of historical romance-mysteries set during the Tang Dynasty. Lin’s research, skillfully deployed, not only provides an interesting background but sets up various intriguing conflicts for the characters.

[That's what we hope for!...]

Fri
Aug 23 2013 1:30pm

Glitterland by Alexis HallAlexis Hall
Glitterland
Riptide / August 26, 2013 / $16.99 print

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

Glitterland is Alexis Hall’s first novel, a male/male romance with hints of literary fiction in its narration, appropriate since the protagonist and first-person narrator, Ash Winters, wrote literary genre fiction before turning to popular mysteries. Ash is at a low point in his life; he’s struggled with addiction and suicide attempts, and though his severe manic depression is supposedly stabilized with medication, he feels trapped and joyless. At the novel’s beginning, he is about to fall back into old, unhealthy patterns because he can’t imagine anything better. Hall has a deft hand with depicting Ash’s state of mind, which helped me to quickly sympathize with the character’s suffering while growing curious about how he would be able to climb out of his pit of despair.

[Is curiosity contagious?...]

Fri
Aug 2 2013 2:00pm

Forever and Ever by Patricia Gaffney**This post contains SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.**

The final book in Patricia Gaffney’s Victorian-set Wyckerley trilogy, Forever and Ever, brings together a radical from a poor Cornish mining family with a woman who owns a copper mine.  When they first meet, Connor is pretending to be an uneducated miner in order to investigate the working conditions at Sophie’s mine.  Though they are attracted to each other, she is wary of becoming involved with someone of a much lower social status, and aside from that, he is her employee.

Connor persists, and gradually Sophie allows her true desire for him to push aside most of her worries.  They spend idyllic time together in her rose garden, growing steadily more intimate.  Despite his misgivings, Connor maintains his charade all through their budding romance, even after they spend the night together.  Soon after, a draft of Connor’s report is published.  The report is worse than he intended because others have exaggerated the details, to more clearly condemn the mine and its owner.  Sophie feels utterly betrayed, and Connor’s own feelings of guilt and anger about his actions help lead to a vicious argument.

[Bring on the vicousness...and despair!...]

Wed
Jul 17 2013 4:30pm

The Deepest Night by Shana AbéShana Abé
The Deepest Night
Random House / August 13, 2013 / $16 digital, $10.99 digital

It’s 1915, and sixteen-year-old Lora Jones is finishing up her first year as a charity student at Iverson, a prestigious, gothic boarding school on England’s southern coast. While she’s always felt different from everyone around her, now she finally knows why: She is a drákon, a rare, enchanted being with astonishing magical abilities.

As war hits Britain’s shores, and Lora reels from an unimaginable loss, she finds that her powers come with grave and dangerous responsibilities. At the request of Armand Louis, the darkly mysterious boy whose father owns Iverson, Lora will spend her summer at his lavish estate. To help the war effort—and to keep Lora by his side—Armand turns his home into a military hospital, where Lora will serve as a nurse. For Armand is inescapably drawn to her—bound to her by heart-deep secrets and a supernatural connection that runs thicker than blood.

Yet while Lora tries to sort out her own feelings toward Armand, fate offers an unexpected surprise. Lora discovers there is another drákon, a prisoner of war being held in Germany. And that only she, with her newly honed Gifts, will be able to rescue him.  With Armand, Lora will cross enemy lines on an incredible mission—one that could bond her to Armand forever, or irrevocably tear them apart.

Second in “The Sweetest Dark” series, The Deepest Night by Shana Abé continues to explore the world of human/dragon shapeshifters during the turbulent years of World War I. In this installment, the teenaged characters travel out of England and engage directly with historical events on a quest to rescue what might be another of their kind. Meanwhile, they struggle with their relationship and the possibility of marriage between them that might be of convenience…or might not.

[Don't kid yourself, guys...]

Sun
Jul 7 2013 10:30am

Dirty Little Secrets by Jennifer EcholsJennifer Echols
Dirty Little Secret
MTV Books / July 16, 2013 / $16.99 print, $8.89 digital

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again.

Jennifer Echols writes for both adults and young adults, and has recently begun to publish in the new subgenre of New Adult. Her newest novel, Dirty Little Secret, is listed as a young adult book, but the ages of the protagonists, the mild sexual content, and discussion of sex might make it fit into New Adult as well. Regardless, the novel will likely appeal to all of those audiences. Fans of the television show Nashville might be especially intrigued:  it’s set amid the music clubs along Nashville’s Broadway, and both hero and heroine are talented musicians who haven’t yet had their big break.

[Sing it out...]

Thu
Jun 27 2013 5:35pm

True Love by Jude DeverauxJude Deveraux
True Love
Random House / July 9, 2013 / $27.00 print, $12.99 digital

Just as Alix Madsen is finishing up architectural school, Adelaide Kingsley dies and wills her, for one year, the use of a charming nineteenth-century Nantucket house. The elderly woman’s relationship to the Madsen family is a mystery to the spirited Alix—fresh from a romantic breakup—but for reasons of her own Alix accepts the quirky bequest, in part because it gives her time to plan her best friend’s storybook wedding.

But unseen forces move behind the scenes, creaking Kingsley House’s ancient floorboards. It seems that Adelaide Kingsley had a rather specific task for Alix: to solve the strange disappearance of one of the Kingsley women, Valentina, more than two hundred years ago. If that wasn’t troubling enough, Alix must deal with the arrogant (and extremely good-looking) architect Jared Montgomery, who is living in the property’s guesthouse.

Unbeknown to Alix, Jared has been charged with looking after her while she lives on the island—an easy task for him, considering the undeniable chemistry between the two. But Jared harbors secrets of his own, which, if revealed, may drive a wedge between the pair.

With a glorious Nantucket wedding on the horizon, sparks fly, and the ghosts of the past begin to reveal themselves—some of them literally. Finding their lives inextricably entwined with the turbulent fortunes of their ancestors, Alix and Jared discover that only by righting the wrongs of the past can they hope to be together.

Veteran author Jude Deveraux returns with True Love, first in the Nantucket Brides Trilogy. Fans of Deveraux should note the novel contains a new generation of characters from the Montgomery-Taggert family, a staple of nearly two dozen of her books, beginning with her 1980 medieval romance The Black Lyon and continuing today.

[The Montgomery-Taggerts are back!...]

Tue
Jun 25 2013 4:30pm

Anything But Sweet by Candis TerryCandis Terry
Anything But Sweet
Harper Collins / June 25, 2013 / $4.99 digital

If Charlotte Brooks thinks she and her TV makeover show can turn Reno Wilder’s hometown upside down, he’ll be happy to prove her wrong. The ex-Marine has seen too much turmoil and he likes Sweet, Texas, just the way it is. Traditional. Familiar. A little dull. Everything Charli isn’t. But instead of backing off from his scowls like everyone else, Charli digs in her skyscraper heels.

Reno Wilder is a one-man unwelcoming committee, but Charli isn’t budging. It’s clear the gorgeous cowboy needs an overhaul just as much as Sweet. Someone needs to break him out of that gruff shell and show him how fun and rewarding a little change can be.

Candis Terry, also known for her Sugar Shack series, sets her new contemporary romance Anything But Sweet in the small town of Sweet, Texas.  Sweet will seem familiar to anyone who either lives in a small town or enjoys reading about them, but what makes it different is that the town of Sweet is about to undergo a makeover.

[Even towns can use a new look now and then...]

Sat
Jun 22 2013 11:00am

Dare to be Tempted by Eden DavisEden Davis
Dare to be Tempted
Strebot / June 25, 2013 / $15.00 print / $9.73 digital

Aleesa Davis is happily married and deeply in love with her husband, a Special Forces officer serving in Afghanistan. But when Walt returns home from the war, he is psychologically injured, impotent, and struggling with the idea that he can’t satisfy the woman he loves. Aleesa still loves her husband, but she’s struggling with the loss of their once-great sex life.

While Walt was at war, Aleesa kept a journal of her secret fantasies, all featuring her husband, that she planned to give him as a gift when he returned. But since his return, their sex life has been nonexistent and Aleesa puts the journal away, hoping their marriage will go back to normal at some point. 
When Aleesa heads off on a spa weekend, Walt finds the hidden diary and spends two days reading it, lost in his wife’s fantasies. His emotions run the gamut from hurt and anger to gratitude and love. To show her his love, Walt decides to give Aleesa the ultimate gift: a weekend pass for her forty-fifth birthday. She has forty-eight hours to fulfill any sexual fantasy of her choosing, outside of their marriage, no questions asked. Will Aleesa accept the gift? What would a weekend pass do to their troubled marriage?

First in a planned trilogy, Dare to be Tempted by Eden Davis explores sexual fantasy and the role it plays in the marriage of Aleesa and Walt, an oral surgeon and army reservist. The couple have just undergone a long separation because of Walt’s military service in Afghanistan. Aleesa prepares for his return by having sexy photographs taken of herself. She’s been gradually writing down her sexual fantasies in a book she intends as a gift for her husband on his return, to let him know how much she missed him, and one of the photographs will adorn the front cover.

[A picture IS worth a thousand words after all...]

Thu
Jun 20 2013 2:00pm

Caged Warrior by Lindsey PiperLindsey Piper
Caged Warrior
Pocket / June 25, 2013 / $7.99 print, $7.59 digital

Ten years ago, Audrey MacLaren chose to marry her human lover, making her an exile from the Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons once worshiped as earthly gods. Audrey and her husband managed to conceive, and their son is the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation—which makes him irresistible to the sadistic scientist whose mafia-funded technology allows demon procreation. In the year since her husband was murdered, Audrey and her little boy have endured hideous experiments.

Shackled with a collar and bound for life, Leto Garnis is a Cage warrior. Only through combat can Dragon Kings earn the privilege of conceiving children. Leto uses his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his two sisters to start families. After torture reveals Audrey’s astonishing pyrokenesis, she is sent to fight in the Cages. If she survives a year, she will be reunited with her son. Leto is charged with her training. Initially, he has no sympathy for her plight. But if natural conception is possible, what has he been fighting for? As enemies, sparring partners, lovers, and eventual allies, Leto and Audrey learn that in a violent underground world, love is the only prize worth winning.

First in a new Paranormal Romance series, Caged Warrior by Lindsey Piper (a.k.a. Carrie Lofty) explores a rigid society of supernatural beings hidden among and beneath our own world. A digital prequel, Silent Warrior, is also available.

The Dragon Kings are divided into clans, their divisions partially based on supernatural gifts related to their genetics (side note: they cannot turn into dragons; their gifts are things like super-fast reflexes). The clans are also competitive, with complicated politics. Coupled with low fertility throughout the Dragon King populace, this leads to considerable societal strife, which has resulted in organized crime structured around illegal reproductive laboratories. Gladiatorial matches are used to control certain of the population, and whether or not they are allowed to reproduce.

[Here be Dragons!...]

Thu
Jun 13 2013 9:30am

Captive Prince by S.U. Pacat

Captive Prince by S.U. Pacat

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is at it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow.

SPOILER ALERT FOR VOLUMES ONE AND TWO OF THE CAPTIVE PRINCE. MANY SPOILERS, INCLUDING DEATHS AND PLOT TWISTS.

(For an introduction to the story, check out Mandi Schreiner's post Captivated by S.U. Pacat's Captive Prince.)

Captive Prince by S.U. Pacat began online, being posted for free, chapter-by-chapter, in the author’s journal. In February 2013, it became two independently-published volumes. In May 2013, rights to publish the existing two volumes and the upcoming Volume Three were purchased by Penguin Berkley. This has both good and less good aspects for longtime fans. The good: the author will attain a wider audience, and the sale might lead to a faster release of Volume Three, which would be a boon because of Volume Two’s cliffhanger ending. The less good: Volume Three won’t be released chapter-by-chapter, so waiting for the completed book might be more difficult for those accustomed to the serialization model.

So, what do we do in the interim? We speculate, of course!

Here are my thoughts on three big events we might expect in Volume Three.

[What do you think might be ahead for Damen and Laurent?...]

Wed
Jun 12 2013 10:00am

A Woman Entangled by Cecilia GrantCecilia Grant
A Woman Entangled
Bantam / June 25, 2013 / $7.99 print & digital

Kate Westbrook has dreams far bigger than romance. Love won’t get her into London’s most consequential parties, nor prevent her sisters from being snubbed and looked down upon—all because their besotted father unadvisedly married an actress. But a noble husband for Kate would deliver a future most suited to the granddaughter of an earl. Armed with ingenuity, breathtaking beauty, and the help of an idle aunt with connections, Kate is poised to make her dreams come true. Unfortunately, a familiar face—albeit a maddeningly handsome one—appears bent on upsetting her scheme.

Implored by Kate’s worried father to fend off the rogues eager to exploit his daughter’s charms, Nick Blackshear has set aside the torch he’s carried for Kate in order to do right by his friend. Anyway, she made quite clear that his feelings were not returned—though policing her won’t abate Nick’s desire. Reckless passion leads to love’s awakening, but time is running out. Kate must see for herself that the charms of high society are nothing compared to the infinite sweet pleasures demanded by the heart.

Cecilia Grant’s third novel, A Woman Entangled, once again features a couple with substantial and believable obstacles in the way of their having a life together. The story is told with Grant’s trademark complex characterization and snappy dialogue, with some literary references for added spice. The various conflicts, most relating to marriage and its effects upon one’s family, expand upon ideas put forth in Pride and Prejudice, which Kate is borrowing from the lending library in the first chapter. There are later references to Emma and the titular character’s relationship with Mr. Knightley. Kate approves of marriages made for sensible reasons, and feels that marrying an unsuitable person, merely for love, is not only a selfish act but can cause great harm to others.

[Yet somehow she ended up in a romance novel of her own...]