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Feb 2 2016 5:30pm

First Look: C.S. Pacat’s Kings Rising (February 2, 2016)

Kings Rising BY C.S. Pacat

C.S. Pacat
Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3)
Berkley / February 2, 2016 / $12.99 print, $9.99 digital

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

 His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor's forces are massing. In the north, the Regent's armies are mobilising for war. Damen's only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen's identity—can it stand against the Regents final, deadly play for the throne?

The wait is finally over! The third and final (?) installment of C. S. Pacat’s tormented, slow-building relationship between Damianos of Akielos and Laurent of Vere is here, and in my opinion Kings Rising is well worth every ounce of patience readers have had to muster. Damen the captive prince is captive no longer, and he’s ready for a fight. But what of Laurent, his former captor? Now that he’s given himself to Damen physically, will they get their happy ending?

Back in June of 2013, I speculated on the contents of volume 3.

[Now it's here and no more speculations ...]

Dec 22 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Lauren Gallagher’s Razor Wire (December 22, 2014)

Lauren Gallagher
Razor Wire
Riptide Publishing / December 22, 2014 / $4.99, digital

Two women. One terrible crime. Zero allies.

After being raped by a superior officer, MA3 Kim Lockhoff wants to leave the whole thing in the past. A cop herself, she knows all too well that it’s her word—and slutty reputation—against that of a respected Navy officer.

MA2 Reese Marion, a tough cop hiding her own trauma behind a hard-as-nails exterior, has no patience for pretty little princesses who use their cleavage to win favor with the guys. But when Reese is partnered with Kim, she slowly realizes that reputations can lie. Kim is whip-smart, ambitious—and scared. The man who attacked her won’t let anything damage his career, least of all Kim . . . or the baby she’s carrying as a result.

Isolated on Okinawa, thousands of miles away from home, the two women lean hard on each other. But when Kim confides in Reese, she unwittingly puts her new lover—and both of their careers—in the line of fire. Now her attacker just might have the leverage he needs to keep her quiet for good.

Razor Wire by Lauren Gallagher is an intense book. Though it’s definitely a romance between the two women who are the main characters, and has a happy ending, the main focus of the plot is the seemingly insurmountable problem facing Kim Lockhoff, a problem that could ruin the career that is all she’s ever wanted. It’s one of the most unusual romances I’ve ever read, using a deep exploration of the characters to address the extensive and painful fallout from a rape, realistically and without becoming didactic, and suspenseful as well.

[Sounds like a great formula for a great book...]

Dec 2 2014 5:35pm

First Look: Isabel Cooper’s The Highland Dragon’s Lady (December 2, 2014)

The Highland Dragon's Lady by Isabel CooperIsabel Cooper
The Highland Dragon's Lady (Highland Dragons #2)
Sourcebooks / December 2, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

Regina Talbot-Jones has always known her rambling family home was haunted. She also knows her brother has invited one of his friends to attend an ill-conceived séance. She didn't count on that friend being so handsome... and she certainly didn't expect him to be a dragon.

Scottish Highlander Colin MacAlasdair has hidden his true nature for his entire life, but the moment he sets eyes on Regina, he knows he has to have her. In his hundreds of years, he's never met a woman who could understand him so thoroughly... or touch him so deeply. Bound by their mutual loneliness, drawn by the fire awakening inside of them, Colin and Regina must work together to defeat a vengeful spirit - and discover whether their growing love is powerful enough to defy convention.

In The Highland Dragon's Lady, the sequel to Isabel Cooper's Legend of the Highland Dragon, tomboy-ish Reggie Talbot-Jones ends up revealing much more about herself than she intended to Colin MacAlasdair when she misjudges the window through which she is attempting to berate her brother Edmund about his romantic choices. Reggie lives a somewhat less-than-conventional lifestyle and makes for a compelling heroine; Colin is an excellent foil for her.

[The Highland Heroine's Highland Dragon?]

Nov 13 2014 4:30pm

Family Issues and Finding Love in Janice Kay Johnson’s One Frosty Night

One Frost Night by Janice Kay Johnson Janice Kay Johnson is one of my absolute favorite writers of category romance because she doesn’t shy away from giving her characters complicated problems, usually related to family, that never have easy solutions. Her romance plots play out against the background of people facing difficult choices, and the relationships can be interrupted or damaged by the familial issues, just like in real life. That may sound depressing, but it makes her stories anything but boring. When her characters finally do arrive at solutions to their problems, imperfect as those solutions may be, it’s much more emotionally satisfying than an ending they (and you) didn’t have to work towards.

One Frosty Night, her latest release, is one of Johnson’s more melancholy offerings. It opens with a local woman discovering the unidentified body of a young girl, who appears to have frozen to death; her death has far-reaching implications for the entire town. Soon after the girl’s body is found, we meet heroine Olivia Bowen, who gave up her job in the big city to come home and take care of her ailing father and run the hardware store he owns. When the book opens, her father has recently died, and Olivia has discovered her parents were inexplicably estranged from each other shortly before his death. Hero Ben  Hovik was Olivia’s high school boyfriend and first lover; he broke up with her and went on to marry someone else. Now he’s also back in their home town, having escaped a disastrous marriage to an addict, and is raising his teenaged stepson.

Ben is still carrying a torch for Olivia, while Olivia is trying to pretend to herself that she’s past their teenaged relationship. But talking to each other, helping each other with problems, leads them to a new, deeper intimacy on their way to romance.

[Torches, you say? We like torches...]

Oct 1 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Eileen Wilks’s Unbinding (October 7, 2014)

Unbinding by Eileen Wilks

Eileen Wilks
Unbinding (World of the Lupi #11)
Berkley / October 7, 2014 / $7.99, print / digital

After questing through the sidhe realms with her ex-hellhound lover, Nathan, Kai Tallman Michalski has finally returned home. But she knows Nathan will eventually be called back to serve his queen—and Kai will have to decide whether to enter her majesty’s service as well. Sure, the job comes with great bennies, but there’s one big downside: she would have to swear absolute fealty to the Queen of Winter.

For now, though, Kai is glad to be home, and glad that Nathan completed his mission for his queen with surprising ease. But what seemed to be a quick conclusion turns out to be anything but. The two of them helped thwart the sidhe god of chaos—and he is not happy about that. He’s got plans for them. Plans, too, for the sidhe who killed him some three millennia ago. Nor has he abandoned his plans for Earth, as they learn when chaos begins bursting out all over.

At the end of the previous book in Eileen Wilks’s Lupi series, Ritual Magic, major changes spun out—not just Lily and Rule’s long-awaited wedding, but a plot twist that could change the entire course of the Lupi’s magical war against the evil goddess they oppose. However, in book eleven, Unbinding, branches off, expanding the world of the Lupi yet again to explore the plots of a crazed Sidhe god of chaos, the complex balance between the elven Queens of Winter and Summer, and a strange pocket universe where normal physics don’t really apply. It’s a little frustrating, since I was hoping for a direct continuation from Ritual Magic, but at the same time I know from previous side trips in the series that events in Unbinding will likely become very, very important later on.

[Binding everything together?]

Aug 19 2014 3:30pm

Top 5 Things I Learned from Doctor Who

I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since I was in my early teens, and was overjoyed when the series returned to television back in 2005, starring the divine Christopher Eccleston. These days, it’s the only television show I actually keep up with, as opposed to bingeing on DVDs at season’s end (though I do that as well, every Christmas). And though I’m rarely perfectly happy with any single episode—what fan is?—that never stops me from continuing to eagerly anticipate the next story, the next companion, the next Doctor. I also go backwards; as older episodes become available on DVD, I’m beginning to catch up on the series’ earliest history as well, and discovering how much I love the immense variety of the black and white stories, and all those awesome 1960s costumes.

To distract myself from vibrating with excitement for the advent of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, I put together this list of the top five things I’ve learned from watching this classic, long-running series.

[Don't forget your bow-tie!]

Aug 14 2014 10:00am

Going Both Ways: Best Bi Short Stories Anthology

Best Bi Short Stories anthology, edited by Sheela LambertFunded via Kickstarter, the Best Bi Short Stories anthology was edited by Sheela Lambert, a civil rights activist and writer discussing bisexual and LGBT issues. Surprisingly, it’s the first book of its kind to deliberately focus on bisexual characters and to foreground their identity rather than leaving it to the reader to figure out from tiny clues.

The anthology contains new stories and also a few that were previously published in a wide variety of venues over the last two decades, including a novel excerpt from Pride/Prejudice: A Novel of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet and Their Forbidden Lovers by Ann Herendeen, which explores a relationship between Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy and is an intriguing entry in the Austen meta-canon. The most “vintage” story is the moving “Inland Passage” by Jane Rule (author of the classic Desert of the Heart, made into the film Desert Hearts), featuring two widowed older women, both grieving in different ways, who meet on a cruise ship and, after a rocky start, forge a bond with each other.

[Tell us more...]

Jun 20 2014 2:02pm

First Look: Tiffany Ashley’s Beyond the Velvet Rope (June 24, 2014)

Beyond the Velvet Rope by Tiffany Ashley

Tiffany Ashley
Beyond the Velvet Rope
Harlequin Kimani / June 24, 2014 / $14.95 print, $10.99 digital

Scoring a gig at Miami’s Club Babylon is a fantasy come true for New York promoter Thandie Shaw. The hottest club on the strip is a magnet for major South Beach movers and shakers. And Thandie’s about to meet the biggest player of them all.

Babylon owner Elliot Richards is macho, arrogant, sexist—everything Thandie doesn’t want in a boss or lover. Elliot is also the most erotic man who’s ever wanted to take her to bed. But Thandie’s no fool. Even as he tries to seduce her into a world of intense and shocking passion, she knows it’s too good to last…especially after she uncovers Elliot’s explosive secrets.

Thandie’s going down a dangerous road, and she’s risking a lot more than her career. Torn between doubt and desire, will she have to pay the ultimate price?

Tiffany Ashley’s erotic romance Beyond the Velvet Rope is the story of successful promoter Thandie Shaw’s tumultuous, intense relationship with Miami club owner Elliot Richards, who is devastatingly attractive and unfortunately knows it.

[He's sexy and he knows it?...]

Jun 9 2014 8:30am

First Look: Summer Rain Anthology (June 9, 2014)

Sarah Frantz, ed.; Ruthie Knox, Molly O’Keefe, Charlotte Stein et al.
Summer Rain
Pink Kayak Press / June 9, 2014 / $10.99 print, $3.99 digital

In this romance anthology, RITA-Award winning author Molly O’Keefe shows us the power of a city thunderstorm from the top of a skyscraper, while Amy Jo Cousins soaks us in a rain in Spain. New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox’s heroine is devastated by a winter storm, while a summer thunderstorm grants Alexandra Haughton’s hero and heroine a second chance at love. Rain sparks self-awareness in the robot in Charlotte Stein’s story and allows Mary Ann Rivers’s heroine to fall in love with her hero and her own art. Rain causes romance between the college students in Audra North’s and Shari Slade’s stories, while romance causes rain in Cecilia Tan’s myth-inspired tale of a sacrifice to a demi-god.

The nine romance novelettes in Summer Rain, written to benefit RAINN, engage with some complex and painful situations, though all of the stories end happily. Most involve characters who need to decide what they truly want, as opposed to what society thinks they should be or have; they find love in the face of disapproval from parents, or former partners, or society in general. They learn and grow and survive hardships to find happiness in themselves as well as with a partner.

[A little rain can be a good thing!...]

Mar 4 2014 9:30am

First Look: Jennifer Chance’s Rock It (March 4, 2014)

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!]

Feb 10 2014 9:30am

First Look: JL Merrow’s It’s All Geek to Me (February 10, 2014)

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!...]

Feb 2 2014 10:30am

First Look: Suzanne Brockmann’s Do or Die (February 4, 2014)

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...]

Jan 1 2014 10:30am

First Look: Alison DeLaine’s A Gentleman ’Til Midnight (January 1, 2014)

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!...]

Dec 22 2013 11:49am

First Look: Robin Constantine’s The Promise of Amazing (December 31, 2013)

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...]

Nov 18 2013 1:00pm

First Look: Kathryne Kennedy’s Everlasting Enchantment (December 3, 2013)

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...]

Oct 20 2013 10:00am

First Look: Heidi Belleau’s Wallflower (October 21, 2013)

Wallflower by Heidi BelleauHeidi Belleau
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...]

Oct 6 2013 11:30am

First Look: Karis Walsh’s Mounting Danger (October 15, 2013)

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...]

Sep 25 2013 4:30pm

First Look: Nico Rosso’s Heavy Metal Heart (September 30, 2013)

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...]

Aug 27 2013 8:30am

First Look: Jeannie Lin’s The Lotus Palace (August 27, 2013)

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!...]

Aug 23 2013 12:30pm

First Look: Alexis Hall’s Glitterland (August 26, 2013)

Glitterland by Alexis HallAlexis Hall
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?...]