Going Over THE NAKED EDGE–Review and Giveaway

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Hi there! And, welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THE NAKED EDGE sponsored by AToMR Book Tours. For other stops on the tour, click here. Today’s book is a New Adult Romance from Charlie Webb–and man does it have it’s highs, and lows…

NakedEdge_coverNew copyBook Summary:

The first time Skylar and Rowdy give themselves to each other completely–heart, mind, body and soul–is also the night Skylar disappears without a trace. Rowdy promised to love her forever. But forever is a long time when you’re only seventeen.

After years of waiting, Rowdy gives up on Skylar and tries to purge her from his memory with cheap tequila and one night stands.

When Skylar finally returns, Rowdy is no longer the shy, sweet boy she fell in love with. He’s bitter, angry and determined to protect what remains of his shattered heart. She’s determined to reclaim it, but first she has to put it back together.

Set in the eclectic town of Eldorado Springs, Colorado and Eldorado Canyon State Park, a rock climber’s paradise, “Naked Edge” is a new adult contemporary romance about perseverance, second chances and the healing power of love.

My Review:

I love Colorado. One of my uncles moved there decades ago, and since then I’ve visited many times. It’s  lush beautiful place (once you get past the Front Range into the mountainous terrain!) I’ve read a few books settled there for that reason alone. In fact the opening scene reminded me of Simone Elkeles’ Chain Reaction–what with the rock climbing and the injury–but that’s where the similarity ended.

Skylar is hoping for a second chance. At sixteen she was whisked away from the love of her life due to unforeseen, uncontrollable events. Her step-father enrolled into the witness protection program and took Skylar and her mother underground with him. But that was four years ago and much has happened. Mom’s dead, and Sky has no allegiance to her philandering step-daddy. She’s going to fight for her love, Rowdy, and win back the life she lost when she disappeared without a trace.

Rowdy had been head over heels for Sky–throughout their childhood they were smitten. She was his first, and he promised to love her, only her, for all time. Then, she was gone.

His own personal tragedies delayed his search, but he soon discovered that Sky was lost forever. Until the rescue call brought him to the cliff face where Sky and her cousin Boone dangled due to a poorly planned climb.

Now Rowdy’s love-’em-and-leave-’em-to-hide-his-pain activity is brought to light, and he’s unwilling to invest his heart to Sky again. Or, is he…

So, as far as this book went, it’s a super quick read. I had thought we’d face more of a battle between Sky and Rowdy, but they both come to terms with each other eagerly. A big conflict to be resolved, however, is the entry of Rowdy’s step-sister, Anna, into the mix. She’s obsessed with Rowdy, though no one noticed it before Sky returned. Her psychopathic activity leaves Skylar fighting for her life and turns their mutual friends into a cloak-and-dagger society. This seemed a bit extreme, for me, but Rowdy’s one of those loyal sort–doesn’t want to hurt anyone openly–which I can admire. Had I been Sky, however, I’da wrung that dude’s neck!

The story’s got a decent pace and I learned a whole lot of fancy lingo to flash about the next time I encounter a rock climber. There’s something to be said for getting close to the setting, and I could almost taste the cliff as close as we got. If you’re looking for a quick read, one where the MC’s actually loved each other deeply once and reconnect with ease, you’ll like THE NAKED EDGE. It’s not too steamy and has some interesting–or crazy, in the Fatal Attraction-lunatic sense–plot twists.

Interested? You can find The Naked Edge on Goodreads and Amazon. (Currently priced at $.99!)

Charlotte AbelAbout the Author:

Charli Webb is a new to writing New Adult, but she’s not new to writing. Her alter ego–Charlotte Abel–has been active in the YA paranormal bibliosphere for years. Her Channie series “will make you believe in magic.”

You can otherwise find Charli on Goodreads, Facebook, and twitter.

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VICE, VIRTUE & VIDEO: REVEALED–A Review

When I had a chance to get my hands on the ARC of REVEALED–I jumped. With both feet. Bianca Giavanni’s erotic series has been top-rated on Smashword’s Erotic fiction list for a bit.

Now I know why!

Revealed (Vice, Virtue, & Video Book 1)The Story:

James Laird and Lola Caraway have been next door neighbors and best friends since elementary school. James was always the ultimate player, and after graduation moves to LA and finds his place as a rising star in the porn industry. Lola, three years younger, is a studious overachiever and on track for graduation and success in college.

Lola knows about and accepts James and his debauchery; it’s never been a secret between the two friends. However, a hometown visit prompts James to face his evolving feelings for her, especially after his conservative family discovers his true profession and she comes to his rescue. Not wanting to seduce the innocent Lola, he returns to California, where he sets his sights on becoming a superstar in the industry.

While Lola is visiting James from college, they dance around their attraction to each other. After Lola admits she’s never had an orgasm, James offers to be her hands-on teacher. A lifetime of friendship with a manwhore tells Lola that she should not get attached to James as a lover, as tempting as his offer may be. Can she please her body while still protecting her heart?

My review:
This fast-paced tale isn’t a love story. It’s an “I-know-this-will-end-poorly-if-we-give-in” story.

20 y/o James “Langdon” Laird is a porn actor. He’s beautiful, big, and buff, and thoroughly loves sex with women–many women. Any women. This began in junior high, and never stopped–even as a teen he happily served the cougar-wives who employed his dad’s landscaping company. Why not, right? Everybody got a happy ending. In his movies the gals adore him for his attention and respect.

17 y/o Lola Caraway is bright and shiny and fresh. She has loved James like a brother ever since they met as kids. She knows about his sex films, but it doesn’t matter to her–that’s just a job. She’s rather asexual, asctually, despite having a pubertal Swan-Transformation. Case in point: she’s going to Prom as a beard to her semi-closeted gay friend.

James has returned to their small Midwestern town to visit Lola and attend her high school graduation. Between them the relationship has always been platonic–but this visit James sees the new Lola. And he’s interested. Not enough to approach her sexually, though, so don’t call the cops.

Lola and James spend a fantastic night after she ditches out of her prom–romantic dinner on a lovely vista–and cuddling throughout the night. When he returns the next morning his parents are enraged. They were alerted to his porn career via some friends and his father kicks him out. Having no where to go, he collapses on Lola’s doorstep, shaken by their anger and abandonment. Lola’s mother takes James in–temporarily. He stays two night. Two night in Lola’s arms, though nothing happens. Well, not nothing. Lola’s open heart and soft embrace soothes James’ broken spirit. He wants to be physical with her–but he also doesn’t. He knows he’s not a relationship guy. Not the guy a Forever Girl like Lola deserves. He heads back to Cali to pursue his career with alacrity.

Meanwhile, Lola’s confused about her new attraction to James. She has the summer to stew on it, but has promised to visit him over Labor Day, and does.

This time, the chemistry between them is fierce and yet playful. Lola meets some of his co-stars and friends in the industry. Some catty-gals who enjoy their James-playtoy, and some genuinely nice gay boys who helped James learn the business. Lola and James experiment a bit sexually–though doing the deed? Well…

It’s an interesting friendship. I struggled a bit with the age disparity, the old sanctimonious gal in me got riled initially. But the compassionate way James treats Lola–and her stalwart resistance to any shenanigans–put me at ease. The book is written in clear language–no “too deep” conversation. These are still kids/new adults, after all. So, they razz each other. Playful flirting is carefully balanced by mutual respect and admiration. I felt comfortable with the story and its ending. See, usually I’m all “Where’s the beef?” when it comes to my erotic romance; not so here. I’m looking forward to Book 2 and wondering how this relationship will change, yet again. Lola’s going back to college–and the admiring boys she’ll surely encounter. James is going back to starring in his on- and off-camera sex scenes. Will they be able to connect again?

Interested? You can find REVEALED on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:

Bianca Giovanni is an indie author. Her erotic romance really took off with early versions of Vice, Virtue, and Video selling like gangbusters on Smashwords. Now working with Omnific Publishing, her five book series will reach an even bigger audience. You can find her on her website, twitter, and Facebook.

Let me know if you’ve read any of Bianca’s Smashwords submissions–and if you liked them!

And, as always, keep reading my friends!

Liar Liar Hearts on Fire–Release and Giveaway!

LiarLiarbannerAn Adult Romantic Comedy

Released TODAY! Happy Book Birthday!

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Violet Miller is a teacher savoring her summer break until she’s been called in as emergency reinforcements—of the dating kind. She volunteers to help an old flame by pretending to be his girlfriend. In Alaska. At a family reunion. Since the guy is a handsome, lumberjack-sized doctor she’s never quite forgotten, faking a relationship won’t be hard work.

Mike Ostranski is a desperate man on vacation. His mother wants grandchildren and sees a crazy Alaskan woman as a candidate for daughter-in-law. Mike needs Violet by his side to deflect the lady’s advances.

A week in Alaska as boyfriend and girlfriend should be easy for them. They grew up together, even had a brief fling. What could go wrong?

Everything.

How about a little taste, hmm?

For a guy so big, he was an incredibly good dancer. My brain was fighting a losing battle. He moved us both to the deep throbbing of the music, his palms holding me against him, his fingers resting on the upper swell of my ass. I wasn’t going anywhere. Knowing that, I gave over and my brain let go. For the moment, I was his and he was making it very well known to anyone watching.

One song in, I didn’t think I was going to make it. My morals were being sorely tried by the liquor and Mike’s dominating grip on me. Sweat pricked my skin, I knew my cheeks were flushed and heated. There was no doubt he could feel the hard tips of my nipples pressed against him. I’d become scorchingly aroused and when I felt vibrations right…there—  

“Holy shit,” I panted, my forehead thudding against Mike’s hard chest. Was that a vibrator in his pocket? If I could practically have an orgasm on the dance floor, I didn’t think I’d survive if he ever got in my pants again. 

I moved against him and it happened again. Felt the sensation zip through me from head to toe. My heart pounded and a soft moan escaped my lips. Mike leaned down, his breath hot on my ear, his lips lingering there. Did he know such a little spot could drive me crazy?

“Like that?” His voice was low so only I could hear. Dark.

I nodded my head shamelessly. He shifted me back a few inches, reached into his jeans pocket.

He pulled out his cell and smirked.

Oh, God. I was officially a hussy.

This one sounds hysterical! Really. I can’t WAIT to read it! Look for a review next week…and don’t forget to enter the raffle below for your chance to win a free copy!

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About the Author

Jennifer Zane has lived all over the country–from Georgia to Maryland, New York to Colorado, including an exciting five years in Montana. Her time in Big Sky country was the basis for this book. When she’s not writing, she savors the insanity of raising two boys, is figuring out how many meals she can make with a pressure cooker, and teaches a pretty mean karate class. She currently lives with her family in Colorado.

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The Rise of M/M Romance

Welcome to one of my rambles…this time I’m going to babble (at some length) about the trend toward M/M (male/male) sexual pairing in women’s erotica.

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, Book #1)As strange as it sounds, the history of M/M romance isn’t terrifyingly sordid. As one might imagine, it’s been a niche market. The first I encountered of M/M was in Anne Rice’s Beauty trilogy. In the first novel, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, the M/M interactions were all of power—unsurprisingly. It is, after all, a BDSM fantasy. But, in Beauty’s Punishment and Beauty’s Release there were several M/M relationships that transcended the Dom/sub. Tristan and the Queen’s historian, Nicolas, maintained a public power relationship with a clandestine partnership—wherein each man alternated in the dominant role. Beefy Laurent also experienced tender love with his sub, his master, and the fellow ‘ponies’ when he was a stabled slave.

Over the years we have seen an upsurge in ménage scenes—usually favoring the M/F/M dynamic. This caters to female readers; those who are aroused by the idea of being the filling in a mansandwich, in any case. But, of late, this dynamic is shifting again to allow for M/M/F—or the full-out bisexuality of the males in a ménage.

I had to wonder:  Why?

Is it not enough to have a woman be pleasured by two gorgeous (because it’s romance they are always gorgeous) men?

And then I remembered what I will call The Brokeback Factor.

Brokeback mountain.jpgBoys Don't Cry movie.jpgSee, 2005’s Brokeback Mountain really opened eyes. It wasn’t the first acclaimed homosexual movie. In fact, Hilary Swank had won a Best Actress Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry in 2000. But, as beautiful as Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny may be, they are no Heath Ledger/Jake Gyllenhall. The romance between these men—and the obstacles they faced in their “normal” relationships—that made for excellent cinema. It touched viewers in a way that was sexual, not seedy. And received three Academy Awards in the process.

Suddenly, sex between men didn’t seem so…IDK, icky? That’s probably how many (straight, female) readers would have considered male/male before The Brokeback Factor.

What it boils down to in romance is this:  straight female readers crave beautiful, dominant male leads with a sensitive side. The rise of M/M romance is a natural extension of this fascination. If one strong sexy man is excellent, then two is divine. The close POV often employed in these novels (alternating first-person present tense) allows for an intimate peek into the psyche of both male lovers—as they struggle to find an acceptable partner, and seek the pleasure of him. It’s the ultimate in erotic fantasy, IMHO.

Who read the 50 Shades trilogy and didn’t delight in the last scenes written in Christian Grey’s POV?

No one.

Now, imagine that single-minded sexual focus from two men. From readers of ménage and M/M erotica, the response is overwhelmingly positive. Based on the, albeit informal, 2013 Smut Book Awards hosted by The Smut Book Club, two of the top five “Favorite Sex Scenes You had to Read One Handed” were M/M.  And, two of the top four (also taking the top spot here) of “Leading Couple You’d Want a Threesome With” were gay/bisexual men.

Notable entries in the M/M romance sub-genre:

Lover at Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11)Mainstream erotic writers have released their own M/M work—JM Ward released LOVER AT LAST in March of 2013. This story features the coupling of Qhuinn and Blaylock, both vampires, both enormous, masculine, Alpha-type leads. It has been a building story in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series for several books now. Blaylock has loved Qhuinn forever. Qhuinn rejected that love because, though he’s bisexual, he just couldn’t ‘come out’. Now that Blay is with Qhuinn’s cousin, Saxton, however, Qhuinn is more than jealous—and this installment of the BDB is panty-incinerating fantastic.

Double Time (Sinners on Tour, #5)Olivia Cunning—my Queen of E-Rock-tica—finally has given her readers Trey’s story. Trey is the bisexual rhythm guitarist in her Sinners On Tour series, who happens to be in love with Brian “Master” Sinclair—lead guitarist and his best friend. With Brian happily married and a new father, Trey is distraught—thinking he’ll never find a soul-satisfying love. DOUBLE TIME allowed us access to his hypersexual mind—and his successful quest to assuage both aspects of his sexuality. While this is a ménage novel, Trey is constantly struggling with his homosexual desires. We get a front-row seat to his battle, and ultimately, plenty of juicy M/M only scenes.

Ethan (Alluring Indulgence, #4)Nicole Edwards, an indie author who mainly centers on the ménage dynamic, has really fleshed out some fantastic M/M in her M/M/F—Temptation, Devotion, and Travis, in particular. But ETHAN, which came out in early January 2014 is smoking hot and totally sensual. Knowing that it is M/M, it still ranked high on the list of: Most Anticipated Reads of 2014 at Smutbookclub.com.

Try (Temptation, #1)Ella Frank, another indie, has had great success with Blind Obsession and her Exquisite Series—straight erotica I highly recommend—but branched into M/M this past November with TRY. Logan Mitchell—bisexual player has his sights set on a forever kind of target:  Tate, a straight man. In this dynamic we have not only the pursuit, but the conflict—how does a previously straight man develop an attraction (and a love) for another man. Being inside Tate’s head as he mulls through the quandary is a complete turn on. TRY’s a definite fave, and the beginning of a SERIES of M/M. TAKE will be out later in 2014 and continues the Logan/Tate saga—I cannot wait.

Collide by Riley HartRiley Hart’s COLLIDE marks another new M/M series. This Boys Only standalone recounts the reunion between two childhood friends, Noah, an openly gay man, and Cooper, a straight player. Cooper welcomes Noah into his home, and soon the attraction begins to simmer. Much like TRY, Collide features an alternating POV, and we can feel not only Cooper’s conflict over his new homosexual desires, but also his fear of revealing this relationship to his adoptive parents—because they despised Noah all those years ago. Their history causes some very poignant exchanges—particularly when Cooper is hospitalized and Noah is banned from his bedside—something that occurs every day in real America. Though the books suffers some editing issues, I loved the story and look forward to the next book featuring a different M/M couple set up by Noah and Cooper. Bound to be great.

For the non-believer–WHY is M/M hot?

I’m not here to convert anyone, truly. I’m just relating my own opinions, and those I’ve gotten through friends and fellow erotica readers. For me, sometimes straight romance lacks a bit of…heart. The cookie-cutter approach of single, overlooked female plus brawny, bazillionaire, broken male can feel a bit stale. Many times an author will throw in some sloppy sex to spice it up, but those begin to read flat after a while. It is the fresh and new and forbidden that draws interest. Still, it’s a true art to convince a straight woman to purchase gay romance, and takes more than a come-hither. The backstory for these characters is complex and well-considered. Often these aren’t virgin-orphans. Their families are involved—and supportive or absolutely appalled. It makes for a more rounded story.

What I find most interesting in M/M romance isn’t the hot sex—though that is a bonus—but that intimate choice to be vulnerable to another man—even with the complications it poses to all one’s other relationships.  Romance readers desire characters who will risk it all to find true love—what is more risky than potentially upsetting one’s whole family by being gay?

Additionally, I find most readers like their sex with a hefty dose of passion. For better or worse, passion is often accorded as force—while not violent, per se. Who doesn’t think having one’s panties torn off in the heat of the (consensual) moment is arousing? Or, how about being turned over one’s desk/kitchen table for a still-clothed, skirt-up quickie? Yeah, me too.

When it comes to M/M sex, the coupling can be brutal in its passion. These aren’t tentative lovers; they are fully-beefed, determined leads. Ward’s Blaylock and Qhuinn—again they are vampires—bite each other repeatedly in the act of sex. Frank’s Logan and Tate swap from oral to oro-anal to anal in a scene. It’s sweaty and sticky and the muscles bulge and strain—times two. The sheer maleness of M/M sex allows a distance for the female reader to enjoy fierce masculine passion—without fearing for the heroine—alongside swoony-gentle love-making that is overwhelmingly tender. The chasm between the rawness of their sex and the depth of their emotional vulnerability is Grand Canyon in scope. In my own thoughts, this amplifies the heat between the characters ten-fold.

Again, to each their own, but I’m a fan of M/M romance and interested to see where this trend goes.

If you’ve got any thoughts—please comment. I’d love to hear your take on this ramble, or any of the books I’ve mentioned. Oh, and if you have recommendations—lay them on me!

And, as always, keep reading my friends.

Every Gal Needs a Little Nora–A Review

After a failed marriage, how do you let your heart love again?

What Nora KnewThat’s the problem facing Molly Hallberg in Linda Yellin‘s new contemporary romance WHAT NORA KNEW.

Molly’s a 39 y/o divorced woman living in New York. She writes the human interest column for an online magazine, EyeSpy. So, she does wacky things like go undercover as a professional bra fitter, or go parachuting, and then writes about the experience. In Molly’s wit and job antics I found an instant kinship to Bridget Jones–always a plus, for me.

Molly’s romantic misadventures are mainly limited to her philandering ex. She never dated much, and in the five years since her divorce she’s only has couple of boyfriends. Her current beau, chiropractor Dr. Russell Edley, is the epitome of “safe”. She has a pleasant time with him. Very pleasant. And comfortable.

Besides, Molly likes comfortable. Her ex was challenging and fiery. And a cheater. So, why seek out passion? It’s bound to lead to trouble, right?

Except Molly’s big new story is to write a piece about finding one’s soul mate–in the spirit of Nora Ephron. [For those who don’t know Nora Ephron think: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, or You’ve Got Mail, because she wrote those screenplays.] So, Molly, relationship washout and romantically-challenged Molly, is supposed to write an upbeat, quirky, fun article about finding one’s soul mate.

She bombs.

Along the way she goes undercover as a speed-dater, and meets best-selling author Cameron Duncan at a Hamptons garden party. Cameron’s recurring character Detective Mike Bing falls in love with a new girl in each book, because none of them survive to a second novel. Being a bit critical of Mike Bing’s skills as a detective, Molly’s a bit shocked to discover her anti-romance comments tweeted out by Cameron. Oh, and the Nora-like romance piece? Cameron writes it, freelance.

In fact, she’s running into Cameron at odd turns. Their repartee smacks of the Meg Ryan-Billy Crystal When Harry Met Sally back-and-forth. It’s fun and bright. Totally unlike her banter with Russell. Watching her friends, her spinster older sister–and even her grandmother!–find the passionate love they’d always sought gives Molly pause.

Had love truly existed all around her but she was too closed off to witness it? And, could she find it, too? More importantly, would she risk her comfort to grasp a real love after surviving a humiliating divorce?

In this, Molly channels Nora. Nora had been jilted. Twice. Betrayed by two husbands and a best friend. But Nora later found love and wrote some of the most timeless romances, filled with hope and risky choices. Cameron pushes all of Molly’s buttons–and she realizes that he’s really quite the decent guy. Maybe a guy worth risking her pride, and her heart, to love. Until he inadvertently scoops her coveted column…

This quiet romance pulls all the right strings. Molly learns to trust herself, and Cameron, and give love a shot. In true Ephron homage we get grand gesture ending that satisfies. I loved it.

I got an advance copy for review via NetGalley, but the book comes out January 21st. You can pre-order WHAT NORA KNEW at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Or, wait until next week to get it at your local bookstore.

If you pick it up make sure to come back and let me know if you liked it. And, as always, keep reading my friends!

HARD GLAMOUR–Release and Giveaway!

Out Now!

A smoking hot New Adult series by Maggie Marr!Hard-Glamour-Release-Event-Banner copy

A promise to keep….hard glam-cover

Honoring her mother’s last wish, Lane Channing vows to follow her dreams. She takes the ‘big risk’ and leaves her small Kansas town behind and heads to LA, the city of dreams. She’s got a stellar job lined up, an old jeep, and 20 bucks to last her to her first paycheck. Her hopes shatter when she arrives to find her job’s been given to someone else.  Now she’s broke and will soon be living on the streets if she doesn’t do something fast. Welcome to cutthroat – Lane is most certainly not in Kansas anymore.

On the cusp of success…

Dillon MacAvoy has one goal–to become a star–whatever it takes. Even if it means honing his bad-boy can’t-be-tamed-and-forever-single image. Besides the image isn’t far from the truth. Dillon cares only about his younger brother and his career. He’s on the brink of superstardom if he can just decide on the next right script. But for that, he needs a script reader he can trust.

In a strange twist of fate…

Lane Channing is Dillon’s last chance. If Lane lasts the summer without becoming MacAvoy’s latest conquest, she’s guaranteed a job in entertainment. No problem, as long as she can ignore the heat that pulses through her every time Dillon is in the room. After all, love and commitment with a sweet, hometown girl would only ruin the Dillon MacAvoy brand.

How about a little taste?

I might have been straight out of the fly-over states, but I wasn’t a moron. I definitely didn’t appreciate the looks or the attitude being shot my way. I stood in the center of the human resources department in my new suit and my new heels with my new bag and my new haircut, expecting to start my new job.

            “What do you mean my job is gone?” My fingertips tingled and my heart jolted in my chest. I stared wide-eyed at the blonde behind the human resources desk. She settled her chin on her hand. She looked bored. My problem was definitely not her problem. A part of me wanted to reach over and shake her.

            “A client needed a summer internship for his brother.”

            “But you have something else for me, right?” My voice grew louder as the idea of what was going down sank into my brain. “I just drove two thousand miles for a summer job.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “I need the money.”

            Her eyes slitted and she tilted her head. “It’s an internship,” she said. “You don’t get paid for an internship in entertainment.” Her eyes roamed over me and my sixty-dollar suit like I was a hick from Hicksville, USA. When was the last time this little girl had ever paid for anything on her own? Her HR assistant gig wasn’t paying for those Loubies on her feet, which were peeking out from under her desk. Damn, those were some great-looking shoes.

            “What kind of company doesn’t pay a person for summer work?” I asked.

            “The kind of company that gets five thousand résumés a week.” She rolled her eyes toward the ceiling as though she was educating a Neanderthal and not someone who’d just locked down her third year of college. She resettled her gaze on me. “Who do you even know to get in here?” she asked as though there had been some tragic mistake other than CTA giving away my internship to some overindulged rich kid and me believing my internship would be paid.

            Who did I even know? I cocked my hip to the side and sucked in my cheeks. Little Miss Attitude was not so great at HR. “A friend of my mom referred me,” I said. “But I nailed the Skype interview.”

            “Who’s your mom?” She twisted her blond extensions between her finger and thumb, suddenly interested that maybe I was somebody she should know.

            A piece of my heart broke with the word mom on her lips. Who was my mom? She was my world—had been my entire world—with her wild, curly golden hair and bright blue eyes, eyes that always seemed to smile even when things were remarkably bad. Tiny pinpricks of heat started at the backs of my eyes and I swallowed and forced myself to concentrate on the entitled girl in front of me.

            “That’s not important.” I cleared my throat and looked around the gray room full of cubicles. “Is there anyone else I can talk to? You know, about a real job?”

            I’d rolled into L.A. on gas fumes and grabbed a bed and a shower in a Best Western. I didn’t know a soul in Los Angeles. I had approximately seventy dollars to last me until my first paycheck, and I dearly hoped one of my coworkers needed a roommate for the summer. Call me a gambler, call me a risk-taker, call me crazy—I’d been called worse—but when I found out I’d gotten the gig for the summer at CTA, the biggest entertainment agency in L.A., I didn’t think twice about hitting the road from Lawrence for my opportunity of a lifetime. Especially after the hell of the past year. The only problem was that it appeared that my “opportunity of a lifetime” had evaporated.

            “You can talk to Nancy,” the blonde said and jerked her head toward the door. “She’s the head of HR, but she won’t have anything for you either. Not if you need money.”

            A flush blossomed on my neck and bloomed on my cheeks. Who didn’t need money? Oh, right, rich kids with trust funds and parents that stole other kids’ jobs. Yes, I was one of those people that needed money. No daddy to bail my ass out, no mama with a trust fund to pay for my entire life. I had to actually work and get paid to have clothes, a car, a place to live, and even school.

            “Take a seat. I’ll see if she has time.”

            Half a day later, after meeting with two other people, both of whom seemed grandly perplexed that I would assume my internship was paid, I had no job, no internship, and in twenty-four hours most likely no place to stay.

Man! I’d hate to be Lane right about then…but things do pick up, I’m sure. Can’t wait to read this one! Look for a review in the next week, or so.

Maggie Marr on Writer Wednesday! » Christine AshworthAbout the Author

Maggie Marr grew up in the Midwest and made the move to Los Angeles to work in the movie business.  She was a motion picture literary agent for ICM before becoming a full time writer.  She’s written for film and TV and ghostwritten for celebrities.  She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.

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Tragically WRECKED–Review

Wrecked-Tour-Banner copyHi there, and welcome to my stop on the WRECKED blog tour sponsored by AToMR Book Tours. For other stops on the tour click here. Today’s book is a mature New Adult romance by USA Today Bestselling Author Priscilla West. A review copy of this book was obtained through NetGalley.

Wrecked CoverBook Description:

Two years ago, Lorrie’s mother was murdered. But that wasn’t the end of it. Reeling from the tragedy, Lorrie’s father spiraled into alcohol, depression, and finally suicide.

The two most important people in Lorrie’s life are both gone but she’s still alive.

Trying to recover from the tragedy, Lorrie returns to campus, ready to pick up the pieces of her life. All Lorrie wants is to get back to “normal.”

Then she meets Hunter. The man, the legend, “The Hammer.”

Hunter is a cage fighter who takes on every fight like he’s got nothing to lose. His life is a tangled mess of girls, booze, and fist fights. And while it may seem like he’s got a devil-may-care attitude, he’s fighting a private cage-match with a monster he can’t defeat.

Lorrie knows that Hunter is exactly the type of guy she should stay away from, especially in her fragile state, but Hunter has other ideas.

As Hunter and Lorrie grow closer together, will they be able to overcome their pain and heal each other? Or will they both end up wrecked?

My Review:

I’ve read a lot of New Adult lately, and WRECKED is in the upper tier. I was able to connect to Lorrie’s character–a girl striving to overcome her personal tragedy, even if it means shutting off her emotions for a while.

And that means love, too.

Meeting Hunter was a complete accident, but the connection is strong. Lorrie isn’t able to commit to any kind of relationship, but she does agree to be friends with Hunter. On such a small college campus gossip runs heavy, in this tale. I’m not sure how realistic that is, but Hunter’s a minor celebrity due to his brawling and womanizing and Lorrie’s infamous for her personal tragedy. It’s not hard to believe that some people would notice their friendship. I had a bit of trouble believing that Lorrie would encounter so many conversations on which to eavesdrop, however. That seemed a bit too convenient, IMHO.

While she hesitates to invest her heart, Lorrie also can’t completely ignore the connections that are developing between herself and Hunter. The jealousy is strong with this gal. As is the fear of losing yet another loved one. She does however develop the strength to be vulnerable allowing she and Hunter to experience a satisfaction neither had known before.

Then, Hunter disappears. At the exact moment Lorrie really needs him he’s all Radio Silence. When she does find him it’s in the company of his former girlfriend–and he seemingly values that gal’s feelings more than Lorrie’s. Emotionally adrift and academically floundering Lorrie decides to take care of herself the best she can–by leaving Arrowhart. We get a POV shift that allows Hunter to reveal all the gory details of his AWoL-ishness, and it’s a bit heavy-handed. I’d have liked SOME breadcrumbs in Lorrie’s POV that might have given the reader an inkling of what Hunter had going on. The book ends on a less-than-satisfying resolution and (arguably extreme) cliffhanger.

The book features a lot of raw talk, and some raw scenes. It’s recommended for readers over age 18. For my own self, I wish the pacing had been a little faster. Lorrie is an emotional mess, true, and at times she felt too self-centered, too worried about what others thought about her. The POV shift was jarring to me. If we were going to get Hunter’s POV–which I would have loved BTW–I would have appreciated it far sooner than the last 40 pages. I’m on a bit of a kick lately reading books that have a decidedly British vibe, although the setting/characters are American heartland. Diction and grammar constructs in WRECKED lead me to the same conclusion. That reduces my enjoyment of the story a bit, though it may not bother other readers as much.

Interested? You can find WRECKED at Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. The sequel, RESCUED, is due out in early 2014.

About the Author

Priscilla West is the author of the popular Surrender series. She likes to write stories with sassy heroines and strong but flawed heroes.  She enjoys: cuddles, men in suits, eskimo kisses, life-sized teddy bears, and eggs over medium.

You can find Priscilla at her website and Facebook.

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Forever BRANDED–Review and Giveaway

Branded-tour banner copyHi there and welcome to my stop on the BRANDED blog tour sponsored by YA Bound Book Tours. For other stops on the tour, click here. Today’s book is a dystopian YA adventure romance from the writing team of Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki.

branded coverSummary from Goodreads: 
Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

My Review:
At first, I was thrown by the Lexi’s willingness to die–the opening scene was of her attempting suicide–but, as I got further into the story, I realized Lexi’s problem wasn’t depression. It was her unwillingness to be controlled any longer. See, ever since her father was murdered and her brother ran away, Lexi’s stepfather has been abusing her–emotionally and physically. Lexi’s mother has been checked out on drugs a long time, but she sobers up enough to catch Step-Daddy in the act of molesting Lexi–and turns her own daughter in to the Morality Guard.

With no trial and her mother’s accusation, Lexi becomes a branded Sinner and is dumped into the Hole. What is peculiar about her situation there? Lexi has a private guard. This, I couldn’t fathom for the life of me–especially as we learned more about Lexi’s real dad–and her brother Keegan. Before he died, Lexi’s dad was a champion against the brutal Commander. He wanted to restore the judicial system, instead of the “you’re accused, you’re punished” Commander’s dictum.

With her guard, Cole, Lexi’s safe in the Hole. Somewhat. Cole spends a lot of time helping Lexi dodge bullets and lecherous suitors–even his own fellow guards. Chaos reigns in the Hole, and a beauty accused of Lust is a shiny sex beacon for the riff-raff. One thing we learn quickly, loving a Sinner will get you executed, so Cole tries to maintain a professional distance from Lexi.

But, it’s so hard. Especially when the physicians find that Lexi isn’t guilty of the crime of premarital sex.

Background forces strive to keep Lexi alive. Dr. Sutton, her employer, and Cole both make choices to cover-up the budding attraction between Lexi and Cole. This romance seems ready to wither on the vine when Cole is assigned to hunt down Lexi’s long-lost brother, Keegan–a rising figure in the revolution against the Commander.

A daring escape actually leads Lexi to Keegan. And the rift between Lexi and Cole widens when Lexi decides she’s going to fight in the revolution. For her, making this decision is the first step to claiming her destiny.

In total, BRANDED dances over many themes. Child molestation, religious zealotry, suicide, rape, fighting a corrupt government, positive self-image, forgiveness, embracing forbidden love, doing the ‘right thing’ regardless of the consequences.  These are all admirable, to be sure, but I had some issues with how they translated in the book. Likewise, at times I felt the story was too centered on the “we can’t love each other or they’ll kill us” device, and would have appreciated a quicker pace. Dialogue, for me, seemed stilted and info-dumpy and at times I was irritated by the inane comments some of the characters made. I wished that Keegan had been more supportive of Lexi, and was gratified that I called the identity  of the Commander after reading the second chapter.

(A copy of this book was provided to me for the purpose of this blog tour/review.)

Interested? You can find BRANDED at Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

abi and missyAbout the Authors:
Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure. You can find Abi and Missy at their website, Goodreads, twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

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Double Team of Ella Frank–TRY and EDIBLE–Reviews

Edible (Exquisite, #3)I picked up on Ella Frank’s Chicago-based erotica this past summer when I sampled EDIBLE.  Mmm. Delish.

But It wasn’t until TRY, that I became a true fan.

Here’s why:

EDIBLE, for all it’s hot sex, is kinda like a lot of books. There’s a broody dominating male and a vixen female lead.

Rachel styles herself as a Domme so she can protect herself. She is attracted to Cole Madison, but won’t take it further, knowing he’ll want to touch her–and she can’t bear that level of physicality. A former boyfriend was abusive, and she needs to control all aspects of touch in order to avoid the panic attacks.

Meanwhile, Cole is emotionally closed off. He’s a Dom in search of a fiery gal–and pasty-chef Rachel brings as much sweet as she does heat. Cole’s privileged childhood was isolating, his father died young, and later Cole learned his father’s infidelity left a half-brother–so he’s got some daddy issues. And a (medically) demented mother.

When these two control-freaks get together, their freak is sooper-deeky. What they do with caramel sauce is illegal in Red States. And, this book opened my eyes to Prince Albert piercing. [Disclaimer:  Googling PA will result in eye-opening for you, too. XXX-warning!]

But, they get over their insecurities (rather quickly) display an appealing amount of sexual exhibitionism, and tie the knot in no time flat–enraging their respective family members. A little prodding later and all gets forgiven.

In short, they are damaged souls who find themselves. And, an HEA. The story is solid. If you like erotic romance you will not be disappointed. REALLY. I wasn’t. But, EDIBLE felt a bit similar to other reads…

Try (Temptation, #1)TRY, which begins it’s own series, does not.

Why are they linked in my head? The lead in TRY, Logan Mitchell, is introduced in EDIBLE. He’s the half-brother of Cole Madison, and a confirmed bi-sexual bachelor. In TRY this all changes. Logan’s in hot pursuit of his obsession. And, he’s a straight man, baby.

Tate Morrison is going through a nasty divorce. He’s never really connected with his wife, Diana, and mainly they hooked up because she was Tate’s sister’s BFF. He’s a bartender, and is used to fielding come on’s, but Logan’s direct approach is unsettling, int he most curious way.

Their continued interactions leads Tate to try what Logan offers–namely some fantastic–albeit gay–sex.

There’s a period of wooing, and a longer period of experimentation, and throughout these two men (who would likely be considered Alpha in a hetero romance) develop a deeper connection. This isn’t just a conquest to Logan, King of the One-Nighter. For long-term lover Tate, it’s not just a rebellion. For the first time, they each find a loving relationship they want to work on, one that can be as satisfying for both as it is foreign to Tate.

It’s obviously fraught with conflict. Tate wants to stay closeted, while keeping Logan exclusive. Logan wants to publicly embrace Tate as his boyfriend, yet doesn’t want to help Tate break the news to his uber-Catholic family.

In the end, the book takes sensual to a whole new level. And, it’s the beginning of a series for these two. I’m anxious to read on.

You can find EDIBLE at Goodreads, Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Same for TRY.  (Goodreads, Amazon, and B&N linky-links)

Let me know if you pick up either of these–and what you thought. And, as always, keep reading my friends!

Rectifying A PERFECT MISTAKE–Review and Giveaway

A-Perfect-Mistake-Tour-Banner copyHi there, and welcome to my stop on the A PERFECT MISTAKE blog tour hosted by AToMR Book Tours. For other stops on the tour, click here. Today I’m reviewing a New Adult romance by Zoe Dawson, and it sizzles.

A Perfect Mistake coverBook Description:
How can they have a future when their past is based on a lie?

The perfect preacher’s daughter, Verity Fairchild, has something that only she and God know about and she wants to keep it that way. Her mistake was easy to keep secret when she was out of town, but now that she’s come back to Hope Parish for the summer, she comes face-to-face with the guy responsible for it all. Boone Outlaw nearly ruined everything for her and despite the fact that he’s now working at her father’s church, she’s determined to stay as far away from him as possible.

Boone Outlaw doesn’t understand Verity’s anger towards him. He barely knows her. In high school she was Holy Mary Verity and she was off limits – except in his dreams where Verity seems way too real. Most of the time he was wasted in high school, not the type of boy Verity would ever look at twice, but he can’t shake the feeling that something might have happened between them. He’s going to break his own rules to get the answers he needs straight from Verity.

What will Verity do when she finds something in Boone that she never knew existed and her perfect mistake is the only thing that could stand between them and their happiness? Will she sacrifice Boone to keep her secret?

My Review

“Holy Mary” Verity has tried to live up to her parent’s expectations. Really. She wasn’t a party-girl, she wasn’t a promiscuous teen, but she also wasn’t in Kenya on the mission for the past year–as she had told them. No, Verity was in New York trying to rid herself of her perfect mistake. If only that freaking Boone Outlaw hadn’t tainted her drink at that graduation party, and her perfection.

Boone Outlaw has always wanted Verity Fairchild. Not that he could ever hope to deserve her. In high school he was perpetually wasted–and nobody cared. Why bother? Those low-life Outlaw triplets won’t do no good no how, right? Well that was then, and Boone’s built himself up from a Waste-oid to a successful business owner now. And Verity has finally returned. Shame her daddy, the Reverend Fairchild, wants her to marry his protege, Billy Joe Freeman.

Verity is stunned by the changes she sees in Boone. Perhaps the changes she sees aren’t actually changes–but the reality of a man she never got to know before this whole mess started. They had one night together after graduation–one night that changed her world–and he didn’t even remember, he was so drunk. But that reminder is in New York. And the secret shame is eating Verity alive. Particularly when he sees how tender Boone is with the kids at the parish daycare. Was her mistake hiding everything? Or was it not telling Boone her secret from the beginning?

As they forge a relationship, Verity learns that her concept of Boone was built on the town’s anti-Outlaw prejudice and the man he actually is, well, that’s a man to treasure. But will he still love her when he learns what Verity is hiding?

In the end, this dual POV love story has some shocking revelations, and some belly-twisting angst over both Verity’s ‘mistake’ and Billy Joe’s psychotic stalking. We get a neat and tidy ending and plenty of Louisiana heat–in the bedroom. It’s the second installment of the Perfect Series, and I’m still swooning over the better-than-this-town-thinks-we-are Outlaw triplets.

Interested? You can find A PERFECT MISTAKE at Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

A Perfect Mess CoverAnd, to find out about Book One in the Perfect Series–A PERFECT MESS–you can check my review on Goodreads. It’s a great start to this New Adult series. Booker Outlaw is a delicious leading man–and he is besotted with Aubree Walker, class valedictorian home from college to care for her aunt after a debilitating injury.  Booker and Aubree resolve their complicated history–and put to rest one big-bad problem in tiny Suttontowne, LA.

About the Author

Zoe Dawson is the alter ego of Karen Anders, award winning, multi-published author. Her writing journey started with poetry and branched out into fiction. With a couple of college English courses under her belt, she penned a historical, then moved onto contemporary romance fiction. Today, she is happy producing romantic suspense, romantic mystery, urban fantasy and paranormal novels. The words feed her soul and the happily ever afters feed her heart.

Here’s where to find her:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Goodreads | Newsletter

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