<i>Rank & File</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Rank & File: Exclusive Excerpt L.A. Witt "Will can retire, Brent can resign, or they'll both face court-martial." <i>The Love Song of Sawyer Bell</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Love Song of Sawyer Bell: Exclusive Excerpt Avon Gale "A tough decision about her future—and what it means to follow her heart." <i>The Rogue's Conquest</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Rogue's Conquest: Exclusive Excerpt Lily Maxton "There's too much at stake for James to give in to his growing attraction." <i>Jaw Dropping</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Jaw Dropping: Exclusive Excerpt L.P. Maxa "It’s the reality she was sure she never wanted but now craves."
From The Blog
September 23, 2017
ICYMI: Bittersweet Book Club, Nalini Singh Excerpt, Indie Romances, and more!
Team H & H
September 22, 2017
Happy Endings for Susan Mallery's You Say It First
Janet Webb
September 21, 2017
3 Books That Put the Romance Back in Fiction
Keira Soleore
September 21, 2017
Victorian Women & the Periodical Press
Sandra Schwab
September 21, 2017
4 Moments That Prove 10 Things I Hate About You Is The Best
Cerestheories
Showing posts tagged: Reviews click to see more stuff tagged with Reviews
Sat
Sep 23 2017 11:00am

First Look: Cecy Robson’s Of Flame and Fate (September 26, 2017)

Of Flame and Fate by Cecy Robson

Cecy Robson
Of Flame and Fate (Weird Girls #2)
Cecy Robson / September 26, 2017 / $3.99 digital

Cecy Robson shows us that Fate and Destiny are not one and the same in her latest Weird Girls novel.  In Of Flame and Fate, Destiny and Fate collide. No, really.  Like BANG, right into each other.  The seer of Destiny—known as Destiny—and the seer of the Fate—known as…um, Johnny—actually collide at a rock concert. 

Well however they meet, it is not a good thing. Whenever a seer of Fate or Destiny are born at the same time, very bad things happen. Very bad! Cataclysmic! That could be why the forces of evil are suddenly swarming on Lake Tahoe.

“What’s the problem with having Fate and Destiny?”  I ask, seeing that there obviously is.  “Aren’t they the same thing?”

“They are, and they’re not,” Gemini replies, his expression darkening further.  “They’re not supposed to coexist.  They can’t actually, not in the same lifetime.”

“Because they’re anomalies?” I ask.  That’s my guess.  But there’s more, obviously.

“In part,” he answers. “But it’s what happens when they’re together that’s the real issue.”  He releases a harsh breath. “According to mystical beliefs, their powers brutally clash, interfering with the natural balance of the earth and triggering the start of unspoken evils.”

Everyone thought it was simply Destiny’s prophecy that Celia and Aric’s child would destroy all evil which is causing demons and shapeshifters to swarm the area bringing mayhem and death.  Maybe it’s not. 

If a Fate or a Destiny already exists, the witch’s law states that the second child born with the same power must be killed within its first year of life. Johnny’s parents knew this so they took their son and ran, raising him among the humans and keeping him away from any paranormals who would have sensed his powers. The law only decrees that Johnny should have been killed before he turned one. Since Johnny is now 20, the various counsels are at a loss as to what to do. 

[Read more...]

Fri
Sep 22 2017 1:00pm

Happy Endings for Susan Mallery’s You Say It First

 You Say it First by Susan Mallery

It is a truth universally known that romance readers have a thing for small-town series. RaeAnne Thayne, the author of the Haven Bay series, explored the allure of inter-connected stories and the community-as-family at Heroes and Heartbreakers. A favorite destination of readers is Susan Mallery’s town of Fool’s Gold. After twenty or so (who’s counting?) books, Mallery announced she had a new series and destination in mind—Wedding Inc. In the town of Wedding Inc. are some of the characters from a community we’ve come to love over the years. Break out the champagne because who wants to say goodbye to family and friends?

Sculptor Nick Mitchell recently moved from Fool’s Gold to the premier California destination wedding venue Happily Inc. Nick is one of the five Mitchell boys. Fans of Susan Mallery will remember his egotistical, domineering glass-artist father, Ceallach Mitchell—Nick’s troubled relationship with Ceallach drove him not only to leave Fool’s Gold but also to abandon his original dream of working with glass.

Because while he’d grown up working with glass, in the past decade he’d fallen for wood. Glass was cold and mercurial, but wood was alive. Wood had a soul.

[Read more...]

Wed
Sep 20 2017 9:30am

First Look: Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Viper (September 26, 2017)

Archangel's Viper by Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh
Archangel's Viper (A Guild Hunter Novel #10)
Berkley / September 26, 2017 / $7.99 print & digital

Venom has to be one of the most intriguing characters introduced by Nalini Singh in her Guild Hunter series so it is only fitting that he be given a heroine who is as unique as he is.

Venom is one of Archangel Raphael’s seven; his most trusted circle of advisors, protectors, and friends.  He is a vampire who was made by Neha, the Archangel of India, also known as the Queen of Poisons and Snakes, and as his name suggests, Venom’s bite is toxic.  It is not just his bite and his cool demeanor that makes him so captivating.  There is no confusing Venom for any other vampire since there is only one man alive with eyes like a snake. He knows how to use his unusual gaze to unbalance his opponents and captivate women.

Wraparound mirrored sunglasses obscured his eyes. Holly still hadn’t figured out if he wore the sunglasses because his eyes were sensitive to light, so people wouldn’t freak out, or simply because he was an asshole who like to look impenetrable.

She bet on the last.

A character as unusual and unforgettable as Venom needs a heroine who can stand up to him and not fade into the background whenever he is around. She has to be someone who can accept him and his odd characteristics.  Neither he, nor the fans of the series, would be satisfied with a demure woman, and Nalini doesn’t fail in giving us all just what we need in Holly Chang.

[Read more...]

Tue
Sep 19 2017 3:00pm

No Faking in Mia Sosa’s Acting on Impulse

Acting on Impulse by Mia Sosa

I happen to know that Mia Sosa, author of Acting on Impulse, is one of the nicest people on the planet...so, imagine my surprise when I discovered that she writes scorching-hot sex scenes! Totally here for it, along with a lot of other things about this book.

Acting on Impulse stars Carter Williamson (aka Carter Stone), a sitcom heartthrob trying to break into serious film, and Tori “I don’t have time for your bullshit” Alvarez, a powerhouse personal trainer. The pairing of these two was super unexpected for me. Despite Carter being rich and famous, Tori wears the pants in their relationship from word one, and I’ve gotta say...I kind of loved it.

The book opens up in Carter’s point of view as he boards a plane, and right away I was treated to Sosa’s immersive settings. From every shuffling step as Carter waits for the other passengers to stow their luggage, to the claustrophobic feelings of being too big for a small space, I was right there with him. Even when he unapologetically checks out Tori’s ass, and internally declares that she’s going to be his wife someday. Oh, Carter.

[Read more...]

Mon
Sep 18 2017 9:30am

First Look: Chantal Fernando’s Breaching the Contract (September 18, 2017)

Breaching the Contract by Chantal Fernando

Chantal Fernando
Breaching the Contract (Conflict of Interest Series #1)
Pocket Star / September 18, 2017 / $2.99 digital

In Breaching the Contract by Chantal Fernando, we meet Kat and Tristan who find themselves in an inappropriate office romance and I was here for every tense second of it! I do love a good secret relationship, and Kat and Tristan are pretty hot.

Kat is a hard-working new associate in Tristan’s law firm. His partner, Jaxon, was acting as her mentor until he had to take a sudden leave of absence and left Tristan to take over some of his cases...and the mentoring of Kat. Their mutual attraction makes the transition awkward, and add that the fact that Jaxon and Tristan have much different styles in mentorship, Kat is initially nervous about working under Tristan. Her fears are confirmed when he has her going on coffee runs and babysitting his two kids as opposed to directly helping with cases like she did with Jaxon. Despite all of this, there is some dynamic chemistry sizzling between these two and as Kat spends more time with Tristan and his family, she sees a vulnerable side to him. Likewise, Tristan sees the sharp wit and intelligence that will make Kat a great lawyer one day.

[Read more...]

Sat
Sep 16 2017 11:00am

First Look: Rebecca Zanetti’s Storm Gathering (September 19, 2017)

Storm Gathering by Rebecca Zanetti

Rebecca Zanetti
Storm Gathering (Scorpius Syndrome #4)
Raz Ink / September 19, 2017 / $4.99 digital

When I cracked open Rebecca Zanetti’s newest installation of the Scorpius Syndrome series, I said to the Universe what I typically do when I start one of her books: hello great story, goodbye productivity.

I’m not typically a sci-fi or futuristic reader. I pretty much keep my timelines in the here and now, but I picked up a copy of Mercury Striking at a Romance Writers of America conference a while back because I love everything she writes (the man on the cover was so hot, but I really didn’t know what it was about). I cracked it open on the plane and was hooked right away. So much, that I have since read everything on her paranormal list. Who knew it was so good? Who knew! I’m particularly fond of the chapter headers, which serve as the diary entries for different characters.

The only way civilization will survive is if the women just take over. Duh.

- Maureen Shadow, Notes

[Read more...]

Thu
Sep 14 2017 1:00pm

Tessa Bailey’s Disorderly Conduct Is All About That Grovel

Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey

I enjoyed reading Disorderly Conduct, and the nod the title makes to its cop (in training) hero.  If you like New Adult (NA), this is the book for you. Personally, NA isn't my genre of choice, but I trust Tessa Bailey to deliver a good story, and she does. She definitely does. Disorderly Conduct is hot. Seriously sexy. As in, “Take a break from reading to fan yourself” smoking hot. There is a lot of down and dirty, burning-up-the-sheets fucking. Which makes sense, as the entire premise is Ever and Charlie get together to be fuck buddies. Emphasis on the fuck. They aren't even buddies, for the first month.

Disorderly Conduct is raw, real, and makes you run the gamut of the agonies in a developing relationship—when the rules have already been established against one. I do have to say, Ever and Charlie go through a lot of shit. A lot of it. Which makes sense. They're young, and neither realizes they're forming emotional bonds until it's too late. (Incidentally, if the language here bothers you, you probably shouldn't read the book. Charlie and Ever are both also quite direct and don't shy away from the occasional swear word.) I had a problem with Charlie being a bit of a manipulative ass. There was one point where I knew they were going to have sex again, but it felt wrong.

[Read more...]

Thu
Sep 14 2017 9:30am

First Look: Susan Mallery’s Second Chance Girl (September 26, 2017)

Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery
Second Chance Girl (Happily, Inc. #2)
HQN / September 26, 2017 / $8.99 print, $6.99 digital 

Badda bing, badda boom, it’s another of Susan Mallery’s trademark, unforgettable opening scenes. It’s one-thirty in the morning and injured gazelle Bronwen decides to kick gamekeeper Carol Lund in the stomach.

Carol Lund glared at Bronwen and the gazelle glared right back.

“You don’t get to have attitude, young lady,” Carol told her. “I’m not the one who insisted on going out by the rocks. I’m not the one who got scraped up, yet here I am, in the middle of the night, checking on your leg to make sure you don’t have an infection.”

The “compensation” for visiting Bronwen after midnight is “the perfect sky” above, twinkling with a million stars. When Carol’s almost home, she gets out of her Jeep and lies back on her jacket, in order to “get the best view of the wonder above.” Not a typical time to be visited by her neighbor but suddenly a “swoopy midnight-blue Mercedes sedan” pulls up.

Of all the gin joints in all the world, she thought. She watched a tall, dark-haired man step out of his car and walk toward her. It had to be after two in the morning, yet Mathias Mitchell looked more alert than sleepy. No doubt the lingering effects of the hunt, takedown and getting laid.

[Read more...]

Tue
Sep 12 2017 1:30pm

First Look: Karen Hawkins’ Caught by the Scot (September 26, 2017)

Caught by the Scot by Karen Hawkins

Karen Hawkins
Caught by the Scot (Made to Marry #1)
Pocket Books / September 26, 2017 / $6.99 print & digital

With Caught by the Scot, Karen Hawkins begins a new series about three brothers who must marry fairly quickly in order to gain their inheritances. Privateer Conner Douglas doesn’t think this will be a problem for him, for he knows the perfect candidate: childhood friend and spinster Theodora Cumberbatch-Snowe. However, when he finally goes to propose, he finds that she has just eloped the handsome neighborhood squire. He rushes off in pursuit and catches up with them at an inn having transportation problems. There he puts his case before Thea.

“So...you must marry. All of you.”

“We’ve only a few months to do so. And it must be to a lady of quality.” Conner rested his elbows on his knees and leaned forward. “And that, Thea, lass, is why I came. As soon as I found oot aboot the will, I thought of you.”

“Of me.” She said the words flatly, as if she couldn’t believe them herself.

“Of course you,” he said impatiently. “You know me, and you’re a sensible sort, so we’d do well together. We’d have reasonable expectations of one another, with nae silly drama. Surely that is a guid foundation for a marriage.”

“No. You can’t be—" She stopped, took a deep breath, and placed her whiskey glass at the table at her elbow. Then she said in a slow, calm voice, “Conner, you’re not proposing to me while I’m eloping with another man.”

His smile slipped.

[Read more...]

Tue
Sep 12 2017 9:30am

First Look: Megan Erickson’s Blood Guard (September 12, 2017)

Blood Guard by Megan Erickson

Megan Erickson
Blood Guard (A Mission Novel #1)
LoveSwept / September 12, 2017 / $4.99 digital

Blood Guard is a book that desperately wants to be a movie. It's like a cross between Sin City, The Book of Eli, and ... Underworld—just without werewolves. (Yet?) You have the gritty “post apocalyptic America” feel, and you can almost see the city in black and white when Tendra walks to and from work. (Or really any time they're in the city...) But you also have the beauty and drama of the paranormal beings and their world. Complete with the club and orgy scene. The beginning especially underlines that harsh, gritty, angry feeling.

It almost felt as if the scenery and world building changed and developed as Tendra and Athan's relationship grew more established. What helps is their constant movement, and need to depend upon each other. Also going from the city, to the underground, to the woods and beyond. It's a massive journey and undertaking, that has been the entire purpose of Athan's life. I did feel that Tendra accepted her “fate” a bit too... well easily isn't the precise word, but she just accepts the vampires and her being the intended mate of the ruler after almost a token protest. Granted elite assassins coming after you I imagine is extremely persuasive. Tendra accepts everything so easily (yes even with the letter from her mother - I guess I'm just that suspicious), but there's so much going on you're always engaged and entertained. Even when it she veers into TSTL-land, Blood Guard takes a sharp turn, and sometimes the quiet moments are the ones that are most unexpected.

[Read more...]

Sun
Sep 10 2017 11:00am

First Look: The Duke’s Bridle Path Anthology (September 12, 2017)

The Duke's Bridle Path by Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain

Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain
The Duke's Bridle Path
Grace Burrowes / September 12, 2017 / $3.99 digital

The Duke's Bridle Path by Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain, is billed as a “duet,” which I find to be an entirely charming descriptor. The more I think about it, it’s also an entirely accurate descriptor. These two authors have written stories that, well, work in harmony with each other.

This duet pairs two writers who have similar, but markedly different voices. (All hail “The Boy is Mine” by Monica and Brandy.) Both write historical romances featuring emotionally intelligent characters and, often, the forces conspiring against them are external. In these two stories, Burrowes and Romain each pair off one of set of siblings, a duke and his sister, and use a different trope to do so. It works brilliantly. With common threads of family, history, and location, readers don’t have to disengage and reengage with the story. Rather, we are seamlessly shifting our attention to Ada (that’s the sister) while her brother (the duke) is off on honeymoon with his new bride.

[Read more...]

Sat
Sep 9 2017 11:00am

First Look: Maeve Greyson’s Sadie’s Highlander (September 12, 2017)

Sadie's Highlander by Maeve Greyson

Maeve Greyson
Sadie's Highlander (Highland Protectors #1)
LoveSwept / September 12, 2017 / $4.99 digital

Sadie’s Highlander opens with a bang as the entire MacDara clan is transported through time, extracted from a fierce 10th century battle by protective goddesses, in order to keep safe the sacred Heartstone. The first person Alec MacDara meets is Dwyn MacKay.

“I am guardian and tutor to all the druids here. I shall see to it that the MacDara clan does well and continues their legacy to the goddesses and humanity as the protectors of the Heartstone—the sacred stone of hope and love itself.”

“And this place is?” Alec asked, still squinting against the blinding light.

“Twenty-first century North Carolina. Welcome to the future, m’lad.”

In the fifteen years since their arrival in North Carolina, Alec MacDara and his three brothers have become extremely successful, parleying their past into the creation of modern theme park. Alec is the chairman of Highland Life and Legends.

Forget the roller coaster. Where do I get a ticket to ride him? Sadie Williams peered over the tops of her sunglasses, inching them lower to get an unobstructed view of the man currently flexing his assets. Damn. What an import. I bet he’s one of Scotland’s finest.

[Read more...]

Fri
Sep 8 2017 1:00pm

Welcome to Beth Cato’s Alternate History San Francisco in Call of Fire

Call of Fire by Beth Cato

Alternate history with excellent world building? Check.

Tough, likable heroine? Check.

Smart, beta hero? Check.

Call of Fire will check all the most important boxes for fans of steampunk, although it isn’t a traditional romance. As the author says on her website, this series has a romantic subplot and sexual tension that runs through all three books in the trilogy and escalates as time goes on. 

Although this is the second title in Beth Cato’s Blood of Earth series, this book can be read on its own without confusion (although book one is certainly worth reading!). The second installment in the series picks up Ingrid Carmichael’s story immediately after an earthquake tears apart San Francisco in an alternate 1906. The tide of earth-based energy unleashed by the quake reveals the true extent of Ingrid’s god-like powers and she is forced to flee a centuries-old mythological creature who wants to help the United States and Japan achieve world domination.

One of the best things about the world created by Ms. Cato is the attention to detail that is clear in every word. Technology, magical creatures, and political battles all play important roles in Ingrid’s story, but each element works together so that readers are swept along by the story rather than dwelling on the (intentional) anachronisms. For those who are into such things (I am), there is even a detailed author’s note and research bibliography at the end of the book.

[Read more...]

Thu
Sep 7 2017 12:00pm

Jennifer Ryan’s Escape to You Is a Perfect Cabin Romance—with a Touch of Suspense!

Escape to You by Jennifer Ryan

Escape to You is a love story that evolves out of a rescue but who rescues whom?

Actress Ashley Swan has been imprisoned for a year. Her captor, Brice Mooney, is a cruel, barbaric psychopath, and it’s especially horrifying that she’d once seen him as a friend in the entertainment industry, and enjoyed her visits to his late-night talk show.

He liked to hurt her.

One day, she’d find a way to hurt him.

She’d find a way to escape.

She’d save herself.

And the boy he called son, but treated like an unruly dog that needed to be beaten into submission.

If only he’d make one mistake. Give her one small opening. She’d find a way to overcome the crippling fear of more pain and certain death, and take it.

Isn’t that the essence of bravery—digging down deep to find the courage to try once more? One evening Ashley discovers that she’s not locked in, that the bolts on her door are not sprung. It’s her chance to escape.

Nightmares of her earlier attempts swamped her mind, but out of those gruesome images hope grew that this time, luck was on her side.

[Read more...]

Wed
Sep 6 2017 3:00pm

Insta-Lust to Love in Bronwen Evans’ A Love to Remember

A Love to Remember by Bronwen Evans

How unusual is it for a couple to be so completely, thoroughly, in lust with each other from the opening pages of a book—is the lust a kissing cousin to love? Is this an HEA in the first chapter? Hold your horses.

Philip Flagstaff, who became the new Earl of Cumberland after the death of his older brother Robert at Waterloo, is raddled with guilt. If he had not insisted on going to war, his older brother would not have joined him. Philip never intends to have an heir, deciding instead to let the earldom pass to his younger brother.

But not wanting children doesn’t mean not wanting and needing the comfort and affection of a woman he cares for deeply. Fortunately, Rose Deverill, the object of his affections and the wealthy widow of the Duke of Roxborough, lives life according to her own rules.

But Rose had men—a different man whenever she wanted, in fact. She just didn’t have a husband.  Which meant she did not have to put up with a man’s tantrums, his boring displays of jealousy, or worry that she might be left financially ruined by his profligate spending. When a man bored her, she simply sent him on his way. After all, none of them really mattered to her.

[Read more...]

Tue
Sep 5 2017 9:30am

First Look: J.D. Robb’s Secrets in Death (September 5, 2017)

Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb

J.D. Robb
Secrets in Death (In Death #45)
St. Martin's Press / September 5, 2017 / $27.99 print, $14.99 digital

Secrets. We all have them. We all keep them. Little ones. Big ones. But knowing someone else’s deepest, darkest secrets might just get you killed. 

The latest novel in J.D. Robb’s In Death series is all about secrets and what people with do to keep them buried. Someone has killed Channel 75’s top entertainment reporter, Larinda Mars at a trendy NY bar, even though Lt. Eve Dallas was only tables away. Eve isn’t sure what is pissing her off the most: that the murder happened under her nose or that the murderer gets out before she can shut down the scene.  

During her investigation, Eve finds out that Mars was an expert in more than just digging for celebrity gossip. Was it poetic justice that someone let Larinda bleed to death since she has spent the past few years bleeding rich people for money?  Blackmail is an ugly business and Mars was an expert on squeezing the beautiful people.  Was someone tired of paying, or were they so afraid their secret would leak? 

[Read more...]

Mon
Sep 4 2017 9:30am

First Look: Katie Ruggle’s On the Chase (September 5, 2017)

On the Chase by Katie Ruggle

Katie Ruggle
On the Chase (Rocky Mountain K-9 Unit Series #2)
Sourcebooks / September 5, 2017 / $7.99 print & digital 

Katie Ruggle has brought us some intriguing mysteries so far, but in her latest Rocky Mountain K-9 Unit novel, even the characters aren’t sure what is happening and who is truly in danger.

Grace Robinson (not her real name) is in hiding in the small town of Monroe, Colorado, because of a dinner party gone wrong.  No, she didn’t use the wrong fork.  Grace thought she had met a real life Disney prince until she got lost looking for the bathroom and stumbled upon a nightmare hiding in the beautiful mansion.  That one wrong turn has her abandoning everything, changing her name and running for her life from a powerful man who has people everywhere, including the local California police department.  

Right before they reached the end of the corridor, the cop steered her toward a door marked Stairs.  Just as she’d known she wouldn’t survive if she’d gone back into Martin’s mansion, Kaylee knew, deep in her gut, not to enter the stairway with L. Javanovic.

Leaving everything she worked so hard for is bad enough.  Now she is forced to share a run down house and one bathroom with five other people. And since she can’t use the several degrees she worked so hard to earn, she should be just happy she has a job even if it is cleaning up poop at the local kennel in this teeny, tiny town.  Right?   It has to be better than being dead.  At least that’s what she keeps telling herself.

[Read more...]

Sat
Sep 2 2017 11:00am

Geeky Friendships Are the Best Kind in Susannah Nix’s Remedial Rocket Science

Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix

When I read the blurb for Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix my reaction was essentially “sign me up!” I loved Cathy Yardley’s Level Up and the geeky shenanigans therein. This promised the same. The plot is something of a cross between the “my one-night stand is my boss” and the “fake relationship” tropes, with heroine Melody and hero Jeremy hooking up once in a prologue three years prior to the start of the main story. Flash forward, Melody ends up working at the company Jeremy’s mother owns, putting them in close proximity and beginning what starts out as an awkward friendship.

Why so awkward? Jeremy has a girlfriend. What’s worse? Melody and that girlfriend actually like each other! Say it ain’t so. Despite an off-putting first meeting, I loved the friendship that developed between Lacey and Melody. When Lacey and Jeremy break up, which has to happen because Jeremy and Melody have to get together, it’s not a huge dramatic blowup, like it could have been. Points for friendship and for women not hating each other! There’s even a scene in which Melody points out bi-erasure from the hero and I wanted to cheer out loud.

[Read more...]

Fri
Sep 1 2017 1:00pm

Kit Rocha’s Deacon: An HEA for the Lone Female in Gideon’s Riders

Deacon by Kit Rocha

Deacon is the second book in Kit Rocha’s ongoing dystopian erotic romance series, Gideon’s Riders, the follow-up to the enormously popular Beyond series.

Gideon’s Riders are the infamous group of holy warriors who protect the people of Sector One, a sector that reveres their leader, Gideon, and his extensive family as living deities. Gideon created the Riders as his personal bodyguard and they’ve evolved to be the sector’s foremost defensive unit. But the cost of this faith-driven society is that those who take lives can’t expect to be accepted into paradise, no matter if that killing was done for the greater good. The Riders thus serve as spiritual sacrifices for their people: they kill so the others don’t have to and knowingly give up salvation to do it.

Each Rider is tattooed with a raven to mark every time they’ve killed, an honor badge of their sacrifice. Being spiritually unredeemable, they are sequestered in their own community, living as a brotherhood, and personal relationships and family while not expressly forbidden, are not customary given the family would ultimately someday suffer the loss of their Rider spouse and/or father in battle.

But those customs are changing, subtly maneuvered by none other than Gideon himself. In the first book of the series, Ashwin, we saw a super soldier find a family within the brotherhood—and finally claim his mate, Kora, who had become an adopted sister of Gideon himself. Having put several of them back together in her role as an empathetic doctor, Kora knows the risks of being tied to a Rider long-term, and Gideon accepts that given the choice, Ashwin would choose Kora over Sector One’s holy leader—which would be Gideon’s preference anyway. The old customs about keeping the Riders separate from their families, keeping them from making families, are being tested and stretched…for the good.

[Read more...]

Thu
Aug 31 2017 12:00pm

Take a Final Summer Holiday with Sarah Morgan’s Holiday in the Hamptons

Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan

Surely the summer of 2017 isn’t already coming to a close? Say it ain’t so and grab Sarah Morgan’s Holiday in the Hamptons to eke out the last few weeks of read and relax (a booklovers’ version of Netflix and chill). Seth Carlyle and Felicity Knight ran into each other in New York, Actually, the fourth in Morgan’s From Manhattan with Love series. To say Felicity aka Fliss was uncomfortable, is to vastly underplay her feelings at seeing her ex-husband 10 years after the end of their brief marriage.

But she’s not going to be able to avoid him. Their professional lives match up like two peas in a pod. Fliss, with her twin Harriet, is one half of the successful dog-walking company Bark Rangers, and Seth is a vet. Manhattan can shrink to the size of a village in circumstances like that. Fliss may be the queen of canines on Manhattan’s East Side, but her run-in with her ex disturbs her equilibrium. She can’t hide her feelings from her twin who is also her business partner and housemate.

“Oh. What’s that for?” She felt her sister’s arms tighten around her.

“I hate seeing you hurt.”

Which is why she never let her twin see the true extent of her hurt. “Of course you do. You’re the good twin. I’m the bad twin.”

“I hate it when you call yourself that. I would love to have your qualities.”

“You don’t have room for any more qualities. You’re already loaded with them.”

“I hate it when you call me ‘good,’ and one of these days I’m going to do something really bad to prove it.”

“You couldn’t be bad if you tried, although if you ever decide to give it a try I hope you’ll call me. I’d like to see it. You’re strangling me, Harry. I can’t handle affection before I’ve had at least two cups of coffee.” And because she didn’t trust herself not to say more than she wanted to say. Harriet’s affection was like a key, unlocking a part of herself she preferred to keep secured.

“You’re not bad, Fliss.”

“Try telling that to Seth and the rest of the Carlyle family.”

[Read more...]