Saturday, October 31, 2015

Series Saturday Audiobook Review: Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton

Dead Ice 
by Laurell K. Hamilton
Series:  Anita Blake #24
Pub. Date:  June 9, 2015
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
Narrator:  Kimberly Alexis
Length:  20 hrs 4 min
Format:  Audiobook
Source:  Audible

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Anita Blake has the highest kill count of any vampire executioner in the country. She’s a U.S. Marshal who can raise zombies with the best of them. But ever since she and master vampire Jean-Claude went public with their engagement, all she is to anyone and everyone is Jean-Claude’s fiancĂ©e.

It’s wreaking havoc with her reputation as a hard ass—to some extent. Luckily, in professional circles, she’s still the go-to expert for zombie issues. And right now, the FBI is having one hell of a zombie issue.

Someone is producing zombie porn. Anita has seen her share of freaky undead fetishes, so this shouldn’t bother her. But the women being victimized aren’t just mindless, rotting corpses. Their souls are trapped behind their eyes, signaling voodoo of the blackest kind.

It’s the sort of case that can leave a mark on a person. And Anita’s own soul may not survive unscathed . . .

It's been a while since I initially read all of this series in one sitting, and going back to it makes me remember how much I liked it. I know that some people now complain about the gratuitous sex... but I still enjoy the series, the world-building, the ways the various powers works, and most of the individual characters. It may just be my smutty little heart, but I do hope that we will continue to get new books in the series, as they come out so infrequently that its not something that I think I will get tired of.

Let me start off with the title and cover... because I am not really sure how they relate to the story. I don't remember anything particularly "icy" happening here - there were no freezing powers or anything like that. Just another necromancer trapping souls and raising zombies. The antagonist in this story is related to a past villain, Dominga Salvador. His identity turned out to be very interesting and he was a super bad guy. But he didn't seem as much of a threat to Anita and gang than other villains have in the past. I think there was a bit less time spent on the plot conflict in this book because the brunt of the focus was on Anita's various relationship dramas.

Anita and Jean Claude are in the midst of wedding plans and, at the same time, Anita is planning a commitment ceremony among herself, Mikah and Nathaniel. However this is making some of the others in her bed petty and jealous, and the tigers are concerned that she still needs to fulfill the prophecy. Plus Asher is still acting like a spoiled brat, so he causes another line of drama. The bulk of the book is taken up dealing with these various dramas, and dealing with new powers that are continuing to develop and evolve with the main players. I happen to like the dynamic happening between all these love interests, and the characters are so unique and different personality-wise that its easy for me to recall them and what role they have played in the past (even when its been a couple years since I read the last book). I can't wait to see the actual wedding play out, and see what relationships solidify with regard to the commitment ceremony. But I do hope to see a bit more action in the next book, as I feel like Anita is at her best when facing threat's to their empire.

I listened to Dead Ice in audio, and the narrator did a fabulous job with the different voices, dialects and characters. I think I will continue the series in audio in the future as I just love hearing that "ma petite" in Jean Claude's french accent.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: Bearing it All by Vonnie Davis

Bearing It All 
by Vonnie Davis
Series:  Highlander Beloved #3
Pub. Date:  Oct. 27, 2015
Publisher:  Loveswept
Pages:  255
Format:  eARC
Source:  NetGalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

A Scottish hunter and a French secret agent find themselves on a collision course with danger—and irresistible desire—in Vonnie Davis’s new bear-shifting Highlander novel, perfect for fans of Jennifer Ashley and Shelly Laurenston.

In the pine-dense mountains of the Scottish Highlands, shape-shifter Ronan Matheson is running free when a desperate woman parachutes out of the sky, directly onto his furry, powerful chest. Instead of clawing her to death, Ronan’s inner bear longs to keep her safe. Once he’s back in human form, Ronan is amused by the mysterious beauty’s fearless attitude—and tempted by her expertly toned physique. But what could she possibly be doing in this isolated stretch of the Highlands? 

French intelligence agent Anisa Brosseau never imagined she’d be on the CIA’s bad side—until she’s framed for treason and forced to flee in a stolen drone. Hiding out in a remote cabin, Anisa just needs some time to clear her name. What she doesn’t need is a brooding, muscle-bound Scot in a skimpy kilt to drive her crazy with lust. But when Anisa’s enemies come knocking on his door, Ronan calls on a secret weapon to protect his turf and the bonny lass he’s come to love. 

This has been a fun light-hearted series that I have really enjoyed. Modern-day kilt-wearing highland werebears, a crazy old lady with pink hair and pink pelican baffies, and feisty females ... its a recipe for a good time.

Since the first two books featured the eldest brother (Creighton) and the youngest (Bryce) - we now get acquainted with middle brother, Ronan. I don't remember a lot about Ronan from the earlier books. That's not saying anything about his character or the writing though, I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. So anyway, Ronan is the middle brother and he is kind of closed off emotionally. He has never fully grieved for the loss of his father and he is a bit hung up on that, vowing never to marry or have bairns that he could die and leave alone like he was. Ronan's fumbling mannerisms were endearing. I liked that he is a man's man, fixing things and knocking heads are what he understands. Ronan refers to his inner bear as "Brother Bear" and he is very childlike and obstinate. His misbehaving, sneaking out and simple way of thinking was just as endearing as Ronan's vulnerability.

Ronan's special lady turns out to be a blast from the past, Anise Brosseau. Anise literally falls out of the sky onto Brother Bear as she is fleeing the French military and CIA, who have accused her of being a terrorist. She is not really a damsel in distress... but it kind of seems like she wants to be. She has been put through some hellacious training to become a French military agent... which goes way beyond anything G.I. Jane faced in SEAL training. I can't imagine this stuff actually happening - but I'll save that for my suspending belief discussion below. I just had a hard time connecting with Anise - though I did like that she was a capable female and very intelligent.

This installment was an entertaining diversion, but it wasn't my favorite of the series. Unlike the previous books, the plot conflict here is more real-world suspense than fantasy drama. The suspense aspect really requires you to suspend your belief, and because the national security area and legal field are within my professional line of work, there were times that I had a hard time with it. As long as you are able to look at it as "anything is possible" - you should be fine. And good grief, Effie still provides hilarious interruptions... and she has gotten to be even more of a dirty old bird in this book. Seriously, she has taken up handcuffs and sex toys and BDSM novels. So you can always count on her to be a good time.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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About the Author

Vonnie Davis, who studied English at Penn State, likens herself to a croissant: crusty, wrinkled, flaky—and best served with strong coffee. After a career as a technical writer, she’s spending her retirement playing fairy godmother to her characters, giving them their happily-ever-afters. Six fantastic, talented kids call her “Grandma” and brighten her world in so many ways. She lives in Southern Virginia with her husband, author Calvin Davis.

 Author Links: Website Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


To Ronan Matheson, this was home. Quiet seclusion. No meals served by the clock. No strange boarders to be gracious to in his own home. No tours through the ancient castle–turned–vacation lodge to explain the clan’s history. This was his space . . . his and his internal bear’s. Two hours away from his family’s lodge, this small cabin he’d built in the rocky, pine-dense mountains of the upper Scottish Highlands was theirs.
Arriving at the retreat was always a hurried routine to get the generator running, firewood brought in, and the supplies unloaded from his truck. He’d take a few minutes to contact his family’s lodge through an old ham radio to let them know he’d arrived safely; in this highly remote area, where there was no cell reception, this was his only reach to the outside world—and for a few weeks, he liked it this way. Then he’d strip, shift, and lumber outside so his bear could run through the trees and brush. He inhaled the mountain air as a bear, detecting every animal within hundreds of yards. Leaves and pine needles rustled; a pine marten was creating a nest for the night. Dusk would approach soon.
An almost silent, strange-shaped black aircraft zoomed low overhead, which snagged his attention. A faint whooshing sound followed. His bear stopped and tilted his head, seeking the direction of the unfamiliar noise. At first, he suspected something . . . a tree, perhaps . . . had fallen across the stream, blocking the natural flow of water and creating the strange racket but, nay. This was different and growing louder.
He stood on his hind legs to get a better view.
“Oh, shit! Oh, holy shit! Ohhh, holy blessed mother of Prada effing shit!” a strange human shrieked.
He jerked his head skyward at a person plummeting toward him, tied to a billowing red parachute.
Nay, buddy, ye take care of the intruder. Roar yer furry arse off.
The bear roared, bared his teeth, and waved his upper legs in a threatening manner.
The trespasser yanked like crazy on the ropes as if they’d swerve him in a different direction, but it didna matter. He crashed into the bear with a powerful combination of his weight and the force of his speed, his knees ramming the beast’s shoulders to the ground. The sudden impact knocked the wind out of the bear as both he and the person from the sky fought to push away the silky fabric. For a few fear-filled minutes, the two made eye contact and the dark-lashed person screamed so loudly, the bear’s chin rose and he glanced over his head at the forest behind them, searching for a quick retreat from the infernal racket.
The curvy human’s heart beat like a frightened rabbit. Both the person’s skin and hair had an odor of wild strawberries. Its arms wouldna be still as it fought to escape the bear’s hold. And its persistent high-pitched screeching made the animal’s ears ring.
Finally, the person stopped screaming. “Un ours! . . . A bear! I’ve landed on a wild and wicked bear! Holy hell, have I escaped the CIA only to become a bear’s dinner?” The person—French, if Ronan had to guess—reached between them and unclicked the belt holding the parachute apparatus before slipping his arms free, tossing more of the red silk over the bear’s head, and rolling away from the parachute.
Ronan’s bear fought to work his way from under the mountain of a soft batch of fabric and, with one eye exposed, lay still to watch his adversary scramble toward a tree and stand.
The human was a woman.
A frantic, voluptuous woman with arms that waved as she grumbled.
Mon Dieu! A bear! A freakin’ smelly, hairy bear. Survival classes never taught me proper procedure for landing from a jump with my crotch under a bear’s chin. Damn incompetent instructors. Hell, they claimed they were preparing us for anything we’d encounter.” She slipped off her backpack. “Calm down.” Both of her opened hands made a pushing down motion. “Calmez. I’ve read several survival guides. I know what to do. I can handle this. I can. My nerves are running rampant and I’m allowing them to freak me out.”
She placed her fingertips on her forehead as if trying to gather her thoughts on how to handle this unexpected scenario. “Do not run from a bear. Make yourself a large target and yell to scare the bear away. Bears are easily frightened unless it’s mating season.
“Oh, wouldn’t it be just my horrible luck to fall on a horny bear? Oh, hell and shit.” She stood on her toes, her arms outstretched and her hands poised like claws. “Roar! Growl! Snarl! Hiss! Run, you hairy bastard!” She bellowed like Colleen, Ronan’s niece, when she was throwing a tantrum.
Even with his bear at the forefront of their dual persona, Ronan turned over and laughed. Laughed like he hadna in years. Me God, what a gutsy woman. Funny and plucky at the same time. Although her crotch did smell nice. Bloody hell, he’d been over two months without a member of the weaker sex.
I think I like this one. She’s ours.
Before Ronan could tell his bear what he thought of his foolish idea, the female stomped over and poked the bear in the arse with the toe of her boot. “Are you laughing at me? What kind of bear laughs?”
Get rid of her, Brother Bear, before the Frenchwoman decides to give ye a haircut, spray ye with perfume, and puts a rhinestone collar and leash on ye to make ye her pet.
The bear stood, fought off the parachute, tossing it aside, and roared, the sound echoing off the pines and bare trees.
The small, oddly shaped airplane crashed against the steep, granite, snow-covered mountain. The loud explosion startled the bear, but not the woman. She merely gave it a salute, blew it a kiss, and bid it “Au revoir.”
To his surprise, she unzipped her jumpsuit partway and jerked a pistol from her shoulder holster. “Look, I followed the book and you had the audacity to laugh? Now, if you don’t run the hell away, I’m going to shoot your bear balls off.” Her commanding voice echoed off the pines, too. This woman was used to giving orders and having them followed.
The bear bounded for the thick brush. We’ll have to go back to the cabin and shift. She might find us again.


Highlander Beloved Series

Release Blitz: Kick Save and a Beauty by S.C. Ryan

Kick Save and a Beauty
by S.C. Ryan
October 27, 2015


What happens when a snarky force meets a younger hot object?

Sparks fly

Chrissy Andersen is the reigning Snark Queen. 

Known for her quick wit and her tendency to say exactly what’s on her mind, she finds herself the object of Derrick Steele’s interest.

Derrick is a fast rising star in the NHL.

Known for his good looks and his goaltending skills, he finds himself falling fast for the combination of Chrissy’s looks, wit and sarcasm.

Snarky vs. Smooth, Old vs. Young, Woman vs. Man

What could possibly go wrong?

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Release: The Wrong Bride by Gayle Callen

Enter to Win a 
(US Only)

Highland Weddings #1
Gayle Callen
Releasing Oct 27th, 2015
Avon Romance

The first in a wonderfully engaging series set in the Scottish Highlands, USA Today bestselling author Gayle Callen creates an unforgettable story of mistaken identity and irresistible attraction.

Shaken from sleep during the night, bundled off to the Highlands by a burly Scot, Riona is at first terrified, then livid. Hugh McCallum insists they were promised to each other as children to ensure peace between their clans. The stubborn laird refuses to believe he’s kidnapped the wrong Catriona Duff. Instead, he embarks on a campaign of slow-burning seduction…

At first, Hugh cares only what their marriage can do for his people. Now he’s starting to crave Riona for her own sake. But her true identity jeopardizes his clan’s contract. And unless she chooses to risk all to be his bride, he’ll lose the only thing he prizes more than the lands he’s fought so hard to save-the passionate marriage they could have together.

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After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, GAYLE CALLEN found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane. Visit her website at

My Favorite Things About Highland Chiefs

 By Gayle Callen, author of THE WRONG BRIDE

I’ve begun a new trilogy, “Highland Weddings,” set in Scotland, a new country for me as an author. (Let’s just say—lots of research involved!) The first book, THE WRONG BRIDE, starts off with an arranged marriage to bring peace between clans, but when the bride’s family tries to back out, my hero, Hugh McCallum, feels justified in kidnapping his bride. Problem is, he kidnaps the wrong woman. And hijinks ensue.

Of course I made my hero, Hugh McCallum, a Highland chief. And here are my reasons why we love to read about them!

1. The responsibility of a chief: A chief is the leader of his people, and is more closely associated with them than a duke or earl would be. In the early eighteenth century, a chief still often lived among his people, ate meals with them, and proved himself one of them. He helped them in times of hunger, he found husbands to marry widows, he provided cattle to newly married couples. He’s the guy to rely on.

2. The power of a Chief: In the Highlands, the chiefs pretty much were the law, and could sentence criminals to death. A good chief takes none of this lightly, and Hugh McCallum is striving to be a good chief, to win the respect of the people, to bring them a bride that will ensure peace. There’s just something about a man who wields all that power. And, of course, when such an independent man falls in love, we get to see how it shakes his very world. And that brings me to…

3. How love brings a Chief to his knees. A chief believes he’s in control of everything, and when he finds out his heart has a will of its own, of course a chief resists! But a powerful man can bring his own all-encompassing focus to romance and passion when he finally gives in.

So that’s why I like Highland chiefs. I hope you enjoy a particular Highland chief, Hugh McCallum of THE WRONG BRIDE.

Review: Scandal Takes the Stage by Eva Leigh

Scandal Takes the Stage
by Eva Leigh
Series:  Wicked Quills of London #2
Pub. Date:  Oct. 27, 2015
Publisher:  Avon
Pages:  384
Format:  eARC
Source:  Edelweiss / Avon

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Eva Leigh’s smart and sexy Wicked Quills of London series continues, with a playwright and a Viscount . . . together they may create a scandal worthy of the stage, but can their love last after the final curtain falls?

Successful playwright Maggie Delamere has no interest in the flirtations of noblemen like Cameron, Viscount Marwood. She once paid dearly for a moment of weakness . . . and vows to rebuff the wildly persistent—and irritatingly handsome—scoundrel at every turn. But when pressure to deliver a new play hampers her creativity, an invitation to use his country estate as a writer’s retreat is too tempting to resist...

For years, Cam has admired Maggie’s brilliant work, and he can’t pass up the opportunity to discover if the beautiful, mysterious playwright is as passionate and clever as the words that flow from her quill. He’s never offered a lady his bed without being in it, but if it means loosening Maggie’s pen—and her inhibitions—he’ll do exactly that. 

But soon Cam’s plans for seduction become a fight for Maggie’s heart. He’s more than the scandalous, carefree rake society believes him to be . . . and she’s the only woman who has ever noticed.

We first met Cam, Viscount Marwood, in Forever Your Earl, where he was best friends with Lord Ashwood. Cam is a rake, a rogue, a pleasure-seeking reprobate. His father despairs that he will ever do his duty and marry to provide the coveted heir. Despite the love between his parents and between Ashwood and his wife, Cam is jaded - he believes that love is too rare for him to find so he will never marry. I enjoyed Cam, he went through a great deal of personal growth in this book. I would have liked to connect with his character more. As much as I liked him, I would have loved to see some playful banter or some of his wicked behavior before he became so obsessed with Maggie.

Our Wicked Quill in this book is Maggie Delamere, playwright. Maggie has a tragic past, having been ruined by a member of the aristocracy and cast out by her family. We see a good deal of similarity between Maggie's past and the burlettas she writes for the Imperial Theater. She sees aristocrats as villains and avoids them like the plague. Now that her best friend has become the Duchess of Ashwood, and she has Lord Marwood dogging her steps, she can't stay as removed from the upper class as she would like. Maggie has to mature herself in this story, enough to see that not all aristos are evil. I liked Maggie, and enjoyed seeing her creative process. However other than her writing, her character seemed a bit detached. She was not really connected to anyone except during sexytimes with Cam... otherwise she just seemed to interact with people without a genuine relationship connection (whether it was Lady Ashwood, a theatrical, or Marwood).

Overall the story was entertaining and has all the hallmarks of modern historical romance... a rogue, a commoner, possible scandal, and steamier sex than you see in traditional historicals. While I enjoyed this story, I did not enjoy it to the extent that I loved Forever Your Earl. That book had such great banter, innuendos, and sexual tension, that I really missed those elements in this installment. However, I think the next Wicked Quill book is going to focus on the noble woman writing lady porn, so I think we may get some of that back and I am looking forward to reading it.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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About the Author

EVA LEIGH is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ‘80s. Eva and her husband live in Central California.

Author Interview

What made you decide to write about historical romance rather than one of the other romantic subgenres? 

My first love in romance was historical romance, and that continues to this day. I love the combination of history and romance, learning about different times and customs, then combining all that with a tale about two people falling in love. There’s always some corner of history with a fascinating tale, plus I’m very interested in learning and writing about women in male-dominated fields.

Are you a historical guru, or do you have to do research for each book? If you research each story... tell us a little about it. How long does it take and what types of information are you looking for? 

A little of both. I have foundational knowledge about history, but I certainly don’t know everything! That’s when I turn to my research library and the internet to fill in the gaps. It can take a few minutes to weeks to get precisely the information I need. Plus the research definitely shapes the plot of the story, so I want to make sure I get everything right!

For those who have not yet read your books, can you tell us who (or what) are the Wicked Quills of London? 
The Wicked Quills of London is a series about three women writers in Regency England. Each heroine has her own specific specialty. Eleanor Hawke, the heroine of Forever Your Earl, owns and edits (as well as contributes to) a popular scandal rag called The Hawk’s Eye. Margaret Delamere, from Scandal Takes the Stage (November 2015), is a playwright. And Lady Sarah Frampton, the heroine of Temptations of a Wallflower (May 2016), secretly writes anonymous erotic novels.
A woman writing professionally during the Regency period is an extremely daring and subversive act—she’s getting paid to speak her mind! So I wanted to capture that sense of audacity and determination in these books. 
Have you planned out the entire series for the Wicked Quills characters, or are you still developing it? Can you give us a sneak peak at what the future holds for the series? 

All the books have been written, though I’m currently in revision stages for Temptations of a Wallflower. Each book is set in a different realm of writing. For example, Scandal Takes the Stage is, as you might expect, set within the world of the theater, so we get to see a different side of Regency England. With Temptations of a Wallflower, the heroine is a duke’s daughter, so it’s doubly scandalous that she writes erotic novels—plus her hero is a vicar! I loved writing him.
Do you have any interesting, funny or just plain weird writing quirks? 
My husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, is deeply involved in my writing process. We hammer out the story together, and then I go off and write it. He’s my beta reader and gives me thorough notes before my editor sees it.
Also, I listen to a lot of ’80s music when I work! 
If you could live in any other time period, when would you live and why?
Honestly, I would rather visit a time period rather than live in it. I like my contact lenses and ability to vote! But actually walking around during the 18th century or Regency for a day or two would be amazing, just to see what life was really like. 
What do you have in the works now? 
Revisions on Temptations of a Wallflower are my top priority right now! A naughty vicar is extremely important to me. 


Wicked Quills of London Series