Wednesday, July 4

Review: Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh

Happy Independence Day! Today, I'll be reviewing  Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh and joining me is Brie from Romance Around the Corner. Hmmmm, thinking about it, this review is very à propos as our characters fight for their world and no matter what happens, in the end, they are heading for some changes :) Perhaps not independence, but for sure more equality between the Psy-Changelings-Humans and a better balance of power :P

So read on to find out how much we liked Tangle of Need!

Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in May 2012
Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past--one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.

For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Their coming together is an inferno...and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Psy-Changelings series, Book #11

The Story: I really wonder how these people come up with the blurbs ^_^; For Tangle of Need, it's not that it's wrong, but it's so overly dramatic. Desperate woman?!? Really?! Anyway, by now, you probably know the story, but just in case you don't, here we go :)

Riaz and Adria are both characters Ms Singh has introduced in prior books, both with a lot of emotional baggage. In the case of Riaz, the woman destined to be his mate is human, but unfortunately for him, he has found her too late as she is already married to another man. As for Adria, she was in a long-term relationship with a wolf less dominant than she was and it really didn't end well. So for Riaz, being attracted to another woman feels like betrayal to his mate and Adria, she's just wary of males and doesn't want to start a new relationship... Except both are attracted to each other. Is there any future to such a relationship?

In the meantime, the SnowDancer pack is recovering from the showdown in Kiss of Snow and everyone is getting ready for the next attack, for the next move. However, this attack might come sooner than expected... and perhaps nothing can be done as the Pure Psy leader is not dead yet and he's determined to show the Psy a new path by attacking the Psy Net itself.

Nath: So Brie, what did you think of Tangle of Need?

Brie: I have mixed feelings. The romance wasn’t satisfying. They were almost secondary characters in a book that was more about setting up what’s to come than the main couple. Riaz and Adria didn’t get enough page time and they were second to Hawke and Sienna. So in a way, this book felt like a wink to the fans and a continuation to Kiss of Snow. Since I was never a fan of that couple, I wasn’t happy and the silliness and waste of time bothered me a lot (the part where they bake cookies made me so angry). The problem is that in a series this long, we become attached to recurrent characters that have been there since the beginning, and by giving new characters their own books before the others get their chance, the author breaks the organic feel of the series. I wasn’t as invested in Adria and Riaz as I am in other characters. And then there’s the fact that I hate when the hero is a widower and Riaz was the Changeling version of one.

Having said that, I loved the Psy machinations and how the book sets up what’s to come. I loved reading about the Arrows and I hope the next book doesn’t happen in Changeling ground. I’m ready for some action and I think it’s time for the Psy to take over the series.

Nath: Oh, I’m with you Brie! I loved the psy machinations in Tangle of Need. Actually, everything related to the Psy was great, even learning more about the A designation! I wished Ms Singh had expanded that part. Is this the first time she mentions the A designation? My favorite part though was the Arrows! I feel we really got to know them better in this book, more than the few glimpses we got previously. It’s exciting to know how long the Arrows have been plotting for their freedom!! And I hope Aden or Vasic gets their book soon! I’m so ready for a Psy book, preferably a Psy-Psy :)

I also totally get your mixed feelings about Tangle of Need, because that’s how I feel as well. If there’s ever been a transitional book in a series, Tangle of Need was it. In addition of wrapping and setting up some of the story thread, it was also a big “fan service,” meaning a lot of the material of this book was there to please the audience. In itself, these two things are not bad in my opinion, but they rely heavily on the execution... and I think that’s where Ms Singh failed here. Wow, I never expected I would be saying those words ^_^;

Before everyone starts throwing tomatoes at me, let me explain what I mean LOL. Basically, I think Ms Singh got the balance wrong for Tangle of Need. It was marketed as Riaz and Adria’s book, but it clearly wasn’t. For me Tangle of Need was a SnowDancer book, because the Pack features so extensively. It’s not just Hawke and Sienna - although they do take up most of the pages, but every characters from previous books from the Snow Dancer pack make a big-ish apparition... Actually, if you take a good look at the book, almost every freaking character from all past books in the series is found/mentioned. In my opinion, that made the book overwhelming and obviously, left little time to the romance between Riaz and Adria.

As usual, it does feel like Ms Singh had a plan coming into Tangle of Need and knew the challenge she had ahead of her. I think Ms Singh was hoping to circumvent it by having characters she’s already introduced in previous books as “main” characters. The problem is I think Ms Singh rushed things a little and didn’t set the characters properly. I wished she had revisited them and their background a little, before throwing them together. That first intimate scene was really too fast and the anger that it generated, ugh. Also, as a result, it felt like most of the book was spent playing catch-up with Riaz and Adria’s feelings.

Brie: I’ll help you dodge the tomatoes because I agree with everything you said. This was a “bridge” book, its function was to set up the next book in terms of overall story-arc and to establish the conflict. The rest was just a huge wink to the fans, the parts featuring Sienna and Hawke read more like the extras authors usually post on their websites, I felt like I was reading fan fiction *dodges eggs*.

I also think you’re spot on when you say this was a Snow Dancer book. It was interesting to see more about the pack’s dynamics but it was overwhelming and it took away the spotlight from the lead couple.

Nath: Hey, I like to read about my favorite characters as much as everyone else and I was happy to get updates! Although I really wished we’ve seen more of Lara and Walker!! And Marlee! Oh and that bit where Ben was playing with Julian and Roman? Adorable!! LOL. The thing is, I had a problem with the execution of these scenes. Actually, not just with the fan service scenes, but with how the whole book unfolded. To me, it felt like every scene of the book was too short and always cut at a critical moment. I think Ms Singh was trying to build up the suspense, but she did it at the expense of the pacing. It seemed to me, every time the momentum or rhythm of the book was building up - cut and change to another scene. It made the book very choppy and not as enjoyable for me.

Something else I had difficulty with is the whole feeling that Tangle of Need was the aftermath of an epic battle. I think this is more a criticism towards Kiss of Snow, but it directly affects Tangle of Need because is supposed to be the down-time. Unfortunately, because the romance took precedence in Kiss of Snow, the battle was relegated to the background and it still doesn’t register in my head how important that battle was. As a result, I kept hoping Tangle of Need would have more action, be more exciting. I think this expectation did not help the way I feel about the pacing of the book.

Brie: Yes to all you just said. I didn’t feel the epicness of the battle and it made no sense that they needed to recover from it. Tangle of Need had many things going on, and nothing at all. As you said, it was choppy and all over the place, it lacked focus because not even the main couple felt important enough.

It’s a shame, really, because regardless of how I feel about the introduction of new characters as leads, I thought the conflict these two were dealing with was interesting and original. First time I see a shifter book that deals with what happens when the love interest isn’t the fated mate. I was happy with how it was resolved, it felt authentic and not a cop out like other books *cough* Kiss of Snow *cough*. But I wanted more time to develop that particular plot line, which should have been the main plot, but it wasn’t.

How did you feel about the romance and the resolution?

Nath: Quite frankly, by the end of the book, I wasn’t really invested in Riaz and Adria’s romance. I mean, I’m happy they got the HEA ending, but is that really surprising? Also, I don’t think it was necessary for Lisette to make an appearance, especially when the reason for her separation with her husband was so far-fetched ^_^;

What I did like though is that Ms Singh challenged her own “mating” system. Seriously, the whole “soulmate” thing is always flawed, but what Ms Singh chose to do is acknowledged it and let us know there are some possibilities out there. That the changelings did not necessarily need the mating bond to live and be happy, they could find happiness elsewhere. That was interesting, refreshing and very cool :) And as you said, I did not feel cheated about it either :)

Brie: You didn’t like Lisette showing up? I loved that part, I’m a sucker for that type of drama.
When the ex comes back and the heroine feels all insecure and doubts his love and steps back so he can be happy! Also, that’s exactly when the story cranks up the pace, so she marks the part of the book when the story became more interesting, at least for me.

Nath: LOL, I’m not a fan of drama ^_^; I’m all for self-sacrifice though, but two things in scenarios like the one we encountered in Tangle of Need. First, I feel it demonstrates a lack of confidence on the heroine’s part and a lack of trust in her lover. Don’t you believe you can make him happy? Don’t you think he loves you, that your relationship should be cherished? Also, I don’t get why the two parties never discuss about it! It’s their future right? If Adria is ready to step aside, why doesn’t she make sure that’s what Riaz wants?!? Instead of assuming and making the decision on her own and at the end, you get 3 unhappy people instead of 1? Okay, I know it doesn’t work that way...but why not? LOL.

Brie: You feel very strongly about this! Intellectually, I agree with all you say, but in my heart I just love the cheesy drama!

Nath: Yeah, I guess so ^_^; I think it’s because this type of drama has been overdone. You find it in a lot of romance books and it always end the same way. It almost feels like a cope-out for authors because you get conflict, drama and resolution all at once, allowing the authors to wrap things up quickly, sigh.

Brie: What do you think will come next? Any theories for the future?

I think Kaleb’s book will be next, or at least soon-ish (I hope so!). I think coma-lady (Alice?) will get a book and her hero will be Aden making it the first human/psy pairing. And finally, I’m ready for a Psy/Psy couple which I think will be Kaleb’s book.

Nath: I have no idea what will come next :) Predicting stuff is not my forte. Also, I have not followed any of the discussions and theories or paid any attention to all the clues Ms Singh has given away. I’ll leave that for you! However, do you think Ms Singh introduced the BlackSea pack in preparation to her spin-off series? I think that pack is really interesting and I’m curious about them, but it’s a bit late to add such an important player to the game, don’t you think? That’s why I’m thinking she’s laying the path for her future series.

Brie: I’ve read different interview with Ms. Singh (because I’m obsessed with The Ghost but let’s not go there) and she says that once this main story arc is done, she plans on writing more books with different characters we haven’t seen so far, maybe explore the world and its potential. So I think the BlackSea pack will play a role in that but I also wonder if there’s a reason why we’re just hearing from them. They didn’t have any reason to be in this book, but maybe in the next one? It’s just weird that she’s introducing this random pack not to use it again soon.

Nath: Well, Ms Singh made up a reason for them to be in the book, but yes, their introduction wasn’t crucial. I guess she is really laying the blocks for the future - it’s like the other wolf pack that Alexei is dealing with.

Brie: She’s probably expanding the world to let us see just how big it is, so far it seems the conflict pertains only to California and if we’re getting a huge showdown between the Psy and everyone else, it must be clear that this is a global thing, not just regional.

Nath: Yes that’s true. Despite how Ms Singh’s books always feel multi-ethnic and international, the story has predominantly happened in California. See, that’s why I love Ms Singh so much - such a smart author :) In any case, I’m glad she has plans to write more books in this world. It’s such a great one, I’m not ready to let go of it!!

To come back to your earlier comment, a Psy/Psy couple would be really interesting and I’m hoping for one! As for Alice, you really think she’ll have her own book? That’d also be interesting... To hear about her knowledge and see how she adapts to the new world. Perhaps she’d get Vasic though... two damaged persons, re-building their lives. However, from what we got from the series so far, there’s definitively a link between Alice and the founder of the Arrows, Zaid Adeleja. I wonder if he’s alive or if he has descendants. Although now that I think about it, it’d probably be a bit icky for Alice to fall in love with the descendant of someone whom she had feeling for ^_^;

Brie: Heh! Alice is being groomed as a heroine, I have a feeling about it. The Adeleja connection fuels my theory that she’s going to fall for an arrow. Maybe Vasic and Aden were trained by him? How old is he? I need to keep better track of the history behind the series.

Also, If Aden doesn’t end with Alice, then he’s probably in love with Vasic. Didn’t you notice the homoerotic undercurrent surrounding those two? LOL!

Nath: LOL, yes, I did detect the undercurrent, but I’m hoping Ms Singh doesn’t go there!! I mean, look at what Ms Ward did to V and Butch! I don’t want it to happen to the Psy-Changelings series!!!

As for Zaid, well if Alice has been in cryogenic suspension for 100 years (right?)... He’d be 120 years old. Well I’m assuming Zaid was about the same age as Alice. I know the people in the Psy-Changelings world has a longer lifespan, but yeah... I think that rules him out as hero material LOL. Unless he’s been in cryogenic suspension too. Which, hmmm, two people trying to recover? Not sure it’d made a good story.

So, at the end of the day, what’s your grade for Tangle of Need?

Brie: It gets a 3 (C) from me. In terms of worldbuilding and story-arc it deserves a higher grading, but I wasn’t feeling the romance and all the background noise that came from Hawke, Sienna, etc. got in the middle of my enjoyment. Ms. Singh can do better than this.

Oh! And one last warning -- this book doesn’t stand alone at all, you have to read the previous books in order to appreciate this one, in fact, this whole series should be read in order.

Nath: At this point, I don’t think there’s any subsequent book that could stand-alone. Each story and romance are woven too tightly into the overall story-arc, but that’s why the series is so strong :)

For me, Tangle of Need gets a B- (3.5/5). As we’ve discussed, the world building and story-arc are good :) Plus, I think I enjoyed all those winks more than you did, Brie, and I love the changelings and the SnowDancer pack. It’s just too bad the romance was not better - I think Riaz and Adria deserved more focus.

Sunday, July 1

New Releases - July 2012

Well after the drought of June, I hope you were able to squirrel some of your book budget to add to this month's, because trust me, you're going to need it! I didn't realize how many good new releases were coming out this month! I think this might be the best month of the year so far - hard to believe anything could surpass April and May! LOL. This is why I love summer so much, a great omen for the vacations!

July 3

A Hunger So Wild by Sylvia Day
published by New American Library
Elijah Reynolds is the most dominant of lycans, a rare Alpha whose skill on the hunt is surpassed only by his primal sexuality. When the lycans revolt due to the iron fist of angelic rule, he steps into command, becoming both enemy and coveted ally in the conflict between vampires and angels.

Vashti is the second most powerful vampire in the world, a lethal beauty with a path of devastation in her wake. Tasked with proposing an alliance between vampires and the lycans who killed her mate, Vash approaches Elijah, whose need to avenge a friend demands Vash's death even as his passion demands her surrender.

Soon, their enmity erodes beneath an all-consuming desire. Elijah has never encountered a woman whose warrior spirit and fierce sexual appetite rivals his own, while Vash is faced with the one man strong enough to be her equal. But as war looms, each must decide where their loyalty lies--with their own kind or with the enemy lover they can no longer live without.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Renegade Angels, Book #2

Ames:  I was intrigued by the first book -my review here- and it'll be interesting to get a lycan viewpoint for this series.  Plus I enjoy Sylvia's writing.

Leaping Hearts by J.R. Ward
published by New American Library
Her dreams are within reach—
All she has to do is learn to hold on...

A beautiful young woman with a defiant spirit, A. J. Sutherland spends a small fortune on a horse with a wild reputation, and is forced to sacrifice her position at her family’s stables to keep him. She plans to ride the magnificent stallion in the biggest event of the show jumping season—and she knows she can win. But without the backing of Sutherland Stables, A. J. must rely on a stranger to help her: a man who makes her heart pound, her head spin... and who just happens to be a legend in equestrian circles.

When Devlin McCloud’s career was cut short by a tragic accident, he never expected to get back in the ring. But when A. J. asks him to be her trainer, he finds he cannot resist the chance—or his stunning new employer. And what begins as a business arrangement soon becomes something deeper, as Devlin and A. J. learn that even in a sport full of hazards, sometimes the most dangerous thing to risk is one’s heart...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: None

Ames:  I used to horseback ride in my high school days and I still relish a story that centres around the sport.    I can't wait to read this one.  And yes, it is a reprint.

Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas
published by Berkley
Millicent understands the terms of her arranged marriage all too well. She gets to be a Countess by marrying an impoverished Earl. And in return, the Earl Fitzhugh receives the benefit of her vast wealth, saving his family from bankruptcy. Because of her youth, they have agreed to wait eight years before consummating the marriage—and then, only to beget an heir. After which, they will lead separate lives.

It is a most sensible arrangement. Except for one little thing. Somehow Millie has fallen head over heels in love with her husband. Her husband, who has become her very best friend, but nothing more… Her husband, who plans to reunite with his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful and newly widowed Isabelle, as soon as he has honored the pact with his wife…

As the hour they truly become husband-and-wife draws near, both Millie and Fitzhugh must face the truth in their hearts. Has their pact bred only a great friendship—or has it, without either of them quite noticing, given rise to a great love?
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Fitzhugh Trilogy, Book #2

Nath: Ohhhh, this one sounds really interesting! I really like the premise in which, for once, the husband and wife actually live together and get to know each other! Ames, you'll have to let me know if it's good!

Ames:  I really enjoyed Beguiling the Beauty (which reminds me I still need to write a review for it lol) and I liked Millie's character in that book.  I have a feeling I'm really going to like this one, Nath.  :P

Defiant by Pamela Clare
published by Berkley
Charged with a crime they didn’t commit, the MacKinnon brothers faced a death sentence until they agreed to serve the British Crown in the Colonies and take up arms against the French. Allied with the Indian tribes who lived beside them in the wilderness, the Scottish Highland warriors forged a new breed of soldier...

MacKinnon’s Rangers

Major Connor MacKinnon despises his commander, Lord William Wentworth, beyond all other men. Ordered to rescue Wentworth’s niece after the Shawnee take her captive, he expects Lady Sarah Woodville to be every bit as arrogant and contemptible as her uncle. Instead, he finds a brave and beautiful lass in desperate peril. But the only way to free Sarah is for Connor to defeat the Shawnee warrior who kidnapped her—and claim her himself.

Torn by tragedy from her sheltered life in London, Lady Sarah is unprepared for the harshness of the frontier—or for the attraction she feels toward Connor as he guides her first through the consummation of their forced union and then through the dangers of the wilderness. When they reach civilization, however, it is she who must protect him. For if her uncle knew all that Connor had done to save her, he would surely kill him.

But the flames of passion, once kindled, are difficult to deny. As desire transforms into love, Connor will have to defy an empire to keep Sarah at his side.
Genre: Historical romance, western
Series: MacKinnon’s Rangers series, Book #3

Ames:  Ms. Clare is an auto-buy author for me.  Her historicals are so rich.  Really looking forward to this one.

Off the Menu by Stacey Ballis
published by Berkley
As the executive culinary assistant to celebrity Chicago chef Patrick Conlon, Alana Ostermann works behind the scenes—and that’s just the way she likes it. But with developing recipes for Patrick’s cookbooks, training his sous chefs, picking out the perfect birthday gifts for his ex-mother-in-law, and dealing with the fallout from his romantic escapades, she barely has a personal life, much less time to spend with her combo platter of a mutt, Dumpling.

Then a fluke online connection brings her RJ, a transplant from Tennessee, who adds some Southern spice to her life. Suddenly Alana’s priorities shift, and Patrick—and Dumpling—find themselves facing a rival for her time and affection. With RJ in the mix, and some serious decisions to make about her personal and professional future, Alana must discover the perfect balance of work and play, money and meaning, to bring it all to the table—one delicious dish at a time...
Genre: Women's Fiction
Series: None

Nath: The cover first caught my attention and the blurb cemented it :) This sounds really fun and interesting. I've been watching a lot of Masterchef Australia and everything relates to chef and kitchen sounds good LOL. I think Alana's job sounds really interesting and the fact that her life is dedicated to Patrick and Dumpling and suddenly, someone new is competing for her time and affection... Just sounds good to me :) Plus, I like that the book is taking place in Chicago. So definitively taking a look at it.

Ames:  OMG this sounds delicious!!  I love when a new man shakes the status quo up and makes a character see another in a new light.  Eeep!  Thanks for bringing this one to my attention.  Now to see if Dumpling is a Jack Russell terrier mix in the book. LOL  I'm really picky about dogs on covers matching up with the dog described in the book...and I have two JRTs.  Hmmm....LOL

Nath: You're welcome Ames! I hope this one is good, because it sounds sooo promising! :P

The Company You Keep by Tracy Kelleher
published by Harlequin (SuperRomance)
Running slam-dunk into Vic Golinski at her college reunion leaves Mimi Lodge with a "lot" of questions. Back in the day, they were Grantham University's star athletes and polar opposites. If she said left, he said right. If he said hot, she said cold. All of that opposition had an unexpected consequence: a heated attraction... So will she and Vic still clash like the fiercely competitive jocks they once were? Life might have softened their beliefs, but clearly that incredible chemistry is still there. As the reunion unfolds, every meeting is a study in grown-up lust--and restraint--as they decide where these exhilarating feelings are taking them.
Genre: Category romance, contemporary
Series: None

Nath: Once again, it's the cover that first caught my attention and then, the blurb. I've never read anything by Ms Kelleher, actually never heard of this author ^_^; However, I'm intrigued by the fact that both H/H are jocks LOL. So we'll see :P

Ames:  Another one brought to my attention!  This sounds cute.  I love opposites and you know the tension will be awesome.  Sounds good!

Paradise by Jill S. Alexander
published by Macmillan (Square Fish)
Paisley Tillery is the drummer for a country rock band. If they can make it to the stage at the Texapalooza music fest, then Paisley will be closer to her dream of a career in music and a ticket out of her small Texas town. Drumming and music are what Paisley has always wanted. Until the band gets a new lead singer, the boy from Paradise, Texas. With Paradise in her life, what Paisley wants, and what she needs, complicate her dreams coming true.
Genre: YA, contemporary
Series: None

Nath: This is the mmp release of Paradise. Ames read this last year and really enjoyed it. She has rarely steered me wrong when it comes to YA recs, so I'll be listening :) Looking forward to it!

Ames:  This book...*sigh* was really good and heartbreaking but didn't leave you feeling depressed.  I really enjoyed this one and recommend it.

July 10

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
published by Simon & Schuster (MTV Books)
High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business — until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers — and the consequences could be deadly.
Genre: YA, contemporary
Series: None

Nath: I've always enjoyed Ms Echols' writing, although her last release - The One that I Want - was, hmmm, a disaster ^_^; I think I'm going to wait for reviews for this one... although I love the cover!

Ames:  I didn't realize the One That I Want wasn't that good.  I haven't read it yet.  The whole flying thing is different, but I don't know if it grabs me.  This one is on my radar but I'll wait to see what others think of it, I think.

The Thing About the Truth by Lauren Barnholdt
published by Simon & Schuster
Kelsey’s not going to let one mistake ruin her life. Sure, she got kicked out of prep school and all her old friends are shutting her out. But Kelsey’s focused on her future, and she’s determined to get back on track at Concordia High.

Isaac’s been kicked out of more schools than he can count. Since his father’s a state senator, Isaac’s life is under constant scrutiny—but Concordia High’s his last stop before boarding school, so Isaac’s hoping to fly under the radar and try to stay put for a change.

When Kelsey and Isaac meet, it’s anything but love at first sight. She thinks he’s an entitled brat, and he thinks she’s a stuck-up snob. So it surprises them both when they start to fall for each other. Kelsey’s happy for the first time in months, and Isaac’s never felt this way about anyone before...But nothing’s ever completely perfect. Everyone has secrets, and Isaac and Kelsey are no exceptions. These two may have fallen hard, but there’s one thing that can ruin it all: the truth.
Genre: YA, contemporary
Series: None

Nath: I've actually never read Ms Barnholdt, but I'm aware of her. A couple of years back, Ames recommended me two road-trip YA books: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and Two-Way Street. I have yet to read Two-Way Street, but it's there in my TBR pile :P I'm not into high school contemporary YA, but this one sounds different and interesting :)

Ames:  I enjoy Lauren's writing so I'm definitely getting this one.

The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
published by Harpercollins Publisher (William Morrow)
" Where do you run to when your life has fallen apart?"

Lucy Jorik is a champ at never embarrassing the family she adores--not surprising since her mother is one of the most famous women in the world. But now Lucy has done just that. And on her wedding day, no less, to the most perfect man she's ever known.

Instead of saying "I do" to Mr. Irresistible, Lucy flees the church in an ill-fitting blue choir robe and hitches a ride on the back of a beat-up motorcycle plastered with offensive bumper stickers. She's flying into the unknown with a rough-looking, bad-tempered stranger who couldn't be more foreign to her privileged existence.

While the world searches for her, Lucy must search for herself, and she quickly realizes that her customary good manners are no defense against a man who's raised rudeness to an art form. Lucy needs to toughen up--and fast.

Her great escape takes her to his rambling beach house on a Great Lakes island. Here, she hopes to find a new direction... and unlock the secrets of this man who knows so much about her but reveals nothing about himself. As the hot summer days unfold amid scented breezes and sudden storms, she'll also encounter a beautiful, troubled beekeeper; a frightened young boy; a modern-day evil queen; and a passion that could change her life forever.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Wynette, Texas series, Book #7

Ames:  I like SEP so I'll keep an eye out for this one.  And I'll try to catch up on the series in the meantime.  LOL

Nath: Famous last words Ames! Good luck :P I'm not a fan of Ms Phillips, so I'll pass on this one.

Hidden by Kendra Elliot
published by Amazon Publishing (Montlake Romance)
Eleven years ago, the Co-ed Slayer murdered nine female students on the Oregon State University campus. Lacey Campbell barely escaped his attack, but lost her best friend whose remains were never found. As the sole surviving victim, Lacey helped send the sadistic serial killer to prison for life.

Now a forensic odontologist examining teeth and bones for the state Medical Examiner, Lacey is devastated when she arrives at a crime scene and identifies the skeletal remains as her college friend’s.

The remains are discovered on the land of ex-cop Jack Harper. Sparks fly between him and Lacey, even as they realize that the prosecution’s witnesses from a decade ago are now being murdered one by one. All the evidence points to the Co-ed Slayer as the culprit—only, he’s long since dead. So who’s the new killer? And is Lacey next in line to die?

Golden Heart finalist Kendra Elliot combines chilling suspense and steamy romance in a gripping tale, uniting in-depth forensic knowledge with a passion for thrillers. Set in the snowy winter of Oregon, Hidden creates spine-tingling chills.
Genre: Romantic suspense
Series: Bone Secrets Novel, Book #1

Nath: Okay, so I was looking for new releases and mistook Kendra Elliott for another author, Kate Brady ^_^; In my defense, both writes RS and the covers are similar in style :P In any case, it doesn't matter because this book sounds like a really good RS. My only issue is the publisher... Going to look for reviews before getting it :)

July 24

13 by Kelley Armstrong
published by Random House Canada/Dutton 
Savannah Levine, a young witch of remarkable power and a dangerous pedigree, staggers away from a bomb blast in New Orleans, glad that she's managed to rescue her half-brother Bryce from the supernatural revolutionaries who'd held him captive. But everyone and everything she holds dear is still at risk. The reveal movement has shaken the Otherworld to its core and the resulting chaos has thinned the boundaries between dimensions, allowing creatures of the deeper realms to break through and wreak havoc on supernaturals but also on innocent humans.

Although she's been temporarily stripped her of her powers, Savannah knows she has a crucial part to play in this war of survival. In fact the fate of her loved ones--of Adam, the friend she hopes will become a lover; of Paige and Lucas, her guardians; of the werewolf Pack and Jaime Vegas; of a pregnant Hope; of her brothers Sean and Bryce--and of the human world rests on her shoulders. If she can find the way and the will to defend them.

Only in the final battle will Savannah find out her true capacities, and what lovewill drive her to do. In 13, Kelley Armstrong brings her powerful and unique saga to a deeply satisfying end: thrilling, surprising and harrowing.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Women of the Otherworld series, Book #13

Nath: Oh my freaking god!! I have not read the two last books of the series, Waking the Witch and Spell Bound, yet because I'm waiting for 13 to be released... and I think it was a great idea on my part. But can I tell you that reading this blurb, I want to read 13 so badly!!! Hope is pregnant!! And Savannah saved Bryce's life!! This sounds like a great conclusion - for now - to the series!! Also, remember my dilemma with the different covers and how I decided to go with the Canadian version because of the complexity of the cover? Well in this picture, you can see a little how it's going to be, how the cover embellishment will come through the jacket! Okay, now I'm getting really excited! Wooohooo!!! Can't wait to for it to be released!

July 31

Haven by Kay Hooper
published by Berkley
Emma Rayburn lived a quiet life in the sleepy town of Baron Hollow, North Carolina, until she injured her head in a riding accident. Afterwards, her dreams were full of nameless girls being tortured and murdered, nightmares that didn't seem to have any link with her life...until her estranged sister, Jessie, returned to Baron Hollow. Now an investigator who uses her psychic abilities in her work, Jessie has long been plagued by something that happened to her as a teen girl, before she ran away from Baron Hollow. She's come back to uncover the truth - and to discover the ones responsible for the deed. Could Emma's nightmares be connected to Jessie's quest? But it isn't just the truth at stake - there's an evil that's haunting the present, an evil that has roots in the darkness of the past, and a terrifying violence that neither sister can remember...
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: SCU FBI series, Book #13

Nath: July is shaping up to be such a great release month, especially the end of it!! First 13 by Kelley Armstrong and finally, a novel by Kay Hooper!! Woop woop! I'm in book heaven!!! The last SCU FBI book dates back to January 2010... not that long, but when you're a die-hard fan of the series as I am, well it's a really long time! And I'm so excited!! The blurb sounds good, I'm looking forward to the two sisters' relationship. I also wonder if Jessie is part of the SCU and whether the title is indicative of something. This book can't come out fast enough!!

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
published by Berkley (Ace)
Some people have everything figured out — Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels.

When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano — the male alpha of Clan Bouda and Andrea's former lover — die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate ... and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniel series, Book #5.5

Nath: LOL, this is actually the first time I read the blurb. I mean, it's a Kate Daniels book so there's no question asked, it's an auto-buy! Some were disappointed to hear that this book would feature Andrea and Raphael instead of Kate and Curran. In my case, I don't mind because it takes place in the same world, plus you know that Kate and Curran will appear :) Also, I wouldn't mind Andrea and Raphael's relationship be resolved...

Heart of Gold by J.R. Ward
published by Berkley
She has a chance to find something more precious than gold, if she’s brave enough to trust her heart...

Her intense passion for unlocking the secrets of the past is what made Carter Wessex an archeologist. Now she’s been given a chance to dig on Farrell Mountain where a doomed party of minutemen lost their lives—as well as the gold they were carrying during the Revolutionary War. Carter refuses to let the mountain’s owner, Nick Farrell, rattle her, even though she’s all too aware of his sexy yet sardonic presence. Her work on the mountain could be the most significant find of her career... if she can pull herself away from the smoldering attraction that is undeniably growing between them.

Beneath the steely façade Nick Farrell wears like a well-cut suit, he is a man of hidden tenderness. From his first meeting with Carter, there’s an immediate flare—hotter than he has ever experienced before. But no one is more surprised than Nick when his desire for her deepens into something enduring. Now Nick must find a way to convince Carter that the real treasure to be found on Farrell Mountain is a true and lasting love...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: None

Ames:  Monroe bought and read this book the last time I went to visit her.  I know she really enjoyed it so I'll get this reprint.  :P

When You Wish Upon a Duke by Isabella Bradford
published by Random House Publishing (Ballantine Books)
Raised in the Dorset countryside, Lady Charlotte Wylder doesn’t care one bit about well-bred decorum. The dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty would rather ride a horse than attend a stuffy ball. So when Charlotte learns that she is to leave immediately for London to wed the Duke of Marchbourne, a perfect model of aristocratic propriety, she is less than enchanted with her arranged marriage.

But to her delight, their first encounters are brazenly flirtatious, and their wedding night burns with passion. March’s broad shoulders and dark countenance make Charlotte want to rip every button off his waistcoast. She may even be falling in love with her new husband. Yet whenever their desire boils over, March reluctantly pushes Charlotte away. Will past secrets and present misunderstandings mire their marriage in scandal, or serve to strengthen a bond that is destined to last a lifetime?
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Wylder Sisters series, Book #1

Ames:  I like the description of Charlotte, I like those kind of heroines.  I hope they call her Charlie in the book.  *g*  This one sounds cute.

The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh
published by Random House Publishing
While Lady Angeline Dudley's pedigree dictates that she must land a titled gentleman, the irrepressible beauty longs for a simple, ordinary suitor. So when Edward Ailsbury, the new Earl of Heyward, defends her honor with unmatched civility, Angeline thinks that she has found true love. Persuading the earl is another matter entirely. From her unconventional fashion sense to her hoydenish antics, Angeline is the last woman on earth for Edward. And yet a stolen kiss awakens something primal within him. Naturally, being a gentleman, he does the right thing after compromising a lady: He offers marriage. The proposal is born of duty, but will Angeline cause Edward to forget about decorum behind closed doors, where sensuality and seduction play wicked games? For a proper wife by day can become a husband's secret mistress by night, when delicious desire rules.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Mistress series, Book #3

Nath: Again, this is the mmp release of The Secret Mistress. I actually read and enjoyed this book, so will be picking up my own copy :)

Ames:  It's Mary.  I'm buying it.  LOL

Can't Hurry Love by Molly O'Keefe
published by Random House Publishing
Victoria Baker, the penniless widow of a disgraced financier, is ready to stand up, be counted, and make a new life for herself and her beloved son in Texas. She’s taking over Crooked Creek ranch, her birthright, and turning it into something special. All that stands in her way is Eli Turnbull, a rugged, too-handsome cowboy who wants the land just as badly.

If Victoria wants a fight, Eli will give her one. He’s devoted his life to Crooked Creek, and he’s not about to let some pampered city girl—even one as brave and beautiful as Victoria—turn it into some silly spa. But Victoria’s and Eli’s burning anger and frustration only fuel heat of another kind: uncontrollable passion. And soon they each realize that the person standing in their way is the one they can never do without.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: connected to Can't Buy Me Love

Nath: Whether I buy Can't Hurry Love or not will depend on how much I enjoyed Can't Buy Me Love :) Although I have to admit, the storyline in this one is closer to what I'd enjoy usually :)

Ames:  I'm in the same boat - it all depends on CBML.  Hopefully we both enjoy it.

How to Romance a Rake by Manda Collins
published by St. Martin's Press
You can lead a wallflower to the ball, but you can’t make her bloom—unless one daring young bachelor turns up the heat…

What’s a nice girl like Miss Juliet Shelby doing at a place like Lord Deveril’s ballroom? With her shy demeanor, she’s a total stranger to the dance floor and a source of mockery for the ton. So imagine her surprise when Deveril gallantly comes to her defense—and offers to teach her to dance! Juliet can hardly believe the most handsome bachelor in London would notice her, until he takes her in his arms and sets her heart ablaze…

Lord Alec Deveril has never felt such a spark of attraction for an unmarried lady before. Unlike the “fashionable” ladies he’s accustomed to, Juliet possesses a generous spirit, a fiery intelligence—and an explosive secret. Deep in the London underworld, a dear friend has vanished, and Juliet fears the worst. Deveril insists on helping, escorting her through the darkest alleys in town. But he too is hiding a shocking secret—and the only way he can defeat the devil in his past is to seduce the angel in his arms...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Ugly Ducklings series, Book #2

Ames:  I have the first in the series and I enjoy the ugly duckling theme, so depending on if I like the first, I'll get this one.

Nath: I don't know about this one. It seems from the blurb that Alec comes to appreciate Juliet's personality which is a plus... but the first book, I tried reading in and it didn't grab me, so I'm afraid the same will happen with this one :(

Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex
published by St. Martin's Press
For generations, the Kents have served proudly with the British Royal Navy. So when her younger brother refuses to report for duty, Sally Kent slips into a uniform and takes his place—at least until he comes to his senses. Boldly climbing aboard the Audacious, Sally is as able-bodied as any sailor there. But one man is making her feel tantalizingly aware of the full-bodied woman beneath her navy blues...

Dedicated to his ship, sworn to his duty—and distractingly gorgeous—Lieutenant David Colyear sees through Sally’s charade, and he’s furious. But he must admit she’s the best midshipman on board—and a woman who tempts him like no other. With his own secrets to hide and his career at stake, Col agrees to keep her on. But can the passion they hide survive the perils of a battle at sea? Soon, their love and devotion will be put to the test...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Reckless Brides series, Book #1

Nath: As soon as I heard this blurb, I thought of you Ames and how much you'd enjoy this one :) I like a good cross-dressing story as well and I like that the hero and heroine don't seem to be part of the ton. I'm looking forward to see how this one unfolds!

Ames:  Yes yes yes!  I loooove cross-dressing heroines and thank you for bringing this one to my attention.  I haven't been interested in this author's past books but this one is definitely on my radar.  And I like the setting.  :P

The Bride Wore Pearls by Liz Carlyle
published by Harpercollins Publisher (Avon)
Beneath the elegant façade of Victorian high society, the mysterious men of the St. James Society play only by rules of danger and desire.

Rance Welham, the Earl of Lazonby, has survived scandal and disgrace, even evading the Queen's justice at the end of a hangman's rope. Now he's about to gamble everything on something far more dangerous--desire.

An exotic and elegant beauty, Lady Anisha Stafford fled her native India to seek refuge within London's secretive St. James Society. But accepting protection from someone called a cold-hearted killer is a double-edged sword... especially when he's the most intriguing man Anisha has ever laid eyes upon.

In a world where treachery abounds, no one can be trusted--and no true passion can be denied. Together, these two tempestuous souls will risk their lives for a love that could redeem them... or destroy everything they hold dear.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: ?

Ames:  I enjoy Liz' writing so even though the blurb doesn't grab my attention, I'm hoping the story itself does!

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand
published by Kensington
Breathtakingly beautiful, the City of Light seduces the senses, its cobbled streets thrumming with possibility. For American Cade Corey, it’s a dream come true, if only she can get one infuriating French chocolatier to sign on the dotted line…

Melting, yielding yet firm, exotic, its secrets are intimately known to Sylvain Marquis. But turn them over to a brash American waving a fistful of dollars? Jamais. Not unless there’s something much more delectable on the table…

Stolen Pleasure
Whether confections taken from a locked shop or kisses in the dark, is there anything sweeter?
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: The Paris Chocolatiers series, Book #1

Nath: Another author that I enjoy and who has not had a release for a long time. I'm just thrilled that Ms Florand has a new series out!! I loved All's Fair in Love and Chocolate and therefore has really high hopes for this one!!

That Thing Called Love by Susan Anderson
published by Harlequin (HQN Books)
He’s the last man on earth she should want…

For a guy she’s fantasized about throttling, Jake Bradshaw sure is easy on the eyes. In fact, he seriously tempts inn manager Jenny Salazar to put her hands to better use. Except this is the guy who left Razor Bay—and his young son, Austin, who Jenny adores like her own—to become a globetrotting photojournalist. He can’t just waltz back and claim Austin now.

Jake was little more than a kid himself when he became a dad. Sure, he'd dreamed of escaping the resort town, but he’d also truly believed that Austin was better off with his grandparents. Now he wants—no, needs—to make up for his mistake. He intends to stay in Razor Bay only until he can convince Austin to return with him to New York. Trouble is, with sexy, protective, utterly irresistible Jenny in his life, and his bed, he may never want to leave...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Razor Bay series, Book #1

Nath: I'm a huge fan of Ms Andersen. I just like her style and how fun her contemporary books are. I'll definitively be picking up this one :) I wished the blurb would have mentioned Austin's age... Still, it doesn't matter, I'll find out for myself :) By the way, another great cover!

Ames:  I like Susan's writing too, so I'll see what you think.  I'm sure it'll be solid though.

The Mistress by Maya Banks
published by Harlequin
Mistress. It sounded so sordid, so impersonal, so far removed from the kind of relationship Marley Jameson had with Greek hotel magnate Chrysander Anetakis. What she thought she had. Until he abruptly broke things off between them and told her to leave his luxurious apartment.

Three months later, Marley awakens in the hospital, with no memory of what happened before she got there. She can't remember her past, Chrysander …or the baby she carries. All she knows is that when Chrysander sweeps her away to his private Greek island, being with him feels like home. Even though he never speaks of love, surely his protectiveness and his desire for her prove how much she means to him.

Until she remembers the truth….
Genre: Category romance, contemporary
Series: ?

Ames:  I've been enjoying Maya's Harlequins for the most part so I'm looking forward to this one.  It sounds totally campy with the baby and the amnesia and yeah, looking forward to it!  LOL

All Summer Long by Susan Mallery
published by Harlequin (HQN Books)
Can a summer fling turn into love that lasts a lifetime? Former underwear model turned entrepreneur Clay Stryker has loved, tragically lost and vowed that he'll never risk his heart again. After making his fortune, the youngest of the rugged Stryker brothers returns to Fool's Gold, California, to put down roots on a ranch of his own. But he's frustrated to discover that even in his hometown, people see him only for his world-famous...assets.

Firefighter Chantal (Charlie) Dixon grew up an ugly duckling beside her delicately beautiful mother, a feeling reinforced long ago by a man who left soul-deep scars. Now she has good friends, a solid job and the itch to start a family-yet she can't move toward the future while she's haunted by painful memories.

Clay finds an unexpected ally, and unexpected temptation, in tomboyish Charlie, the only person who sees beyond his dazzling good looks to the real man beneath. But when Charlie comes to him with an indecent proposal, will they be able to overcome their pasts and find a love that lasts beyond one incredible summer?
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Fool's Gold series, Book #9

Nath: I have not kept up with this series, but I have to say, this one sounds good :) I might just pick it up, especially if the reviews are good :)

Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis
published by Grand Central Publishing
Love can happen in a heartbeat

Grace never thought she’d be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh’s loveable mutt to caring for his rambunctious kids. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad…

With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family–until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “good bedside manner.” Josh and Grace don’t know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Lucky Harbor series, Book #6

Nath: Huh, I was not aware that Josh had kids! LOL. I was planning to pick up Forever and a Day because I liked the little I've seen of Grace and Josh and also because the excerpt I've read was fun. Although again, I didn't know Josh was a father... I don't know how this will change things. Perhaps not at all. I guess it will depend on reviews :)

Ames:  Jill is an auto-buy author for me!  Also Nath, have you always been leery about children in romance? I mean, I've lightened up over the years, but this seems recent for you...

Nath: Oh in this case, I don't mind that Josh has kids. It's just a big surprise because I read Lucky in Love and no kids were mentioned at all! I also read the excerpt and not a word. LOL. I like small children. What I'm leery about are teenagers and single mothers ^_^;

Deception by Kris Kennedy
published by Simon & Schuster
Breaking and entering to reclaim her corrupt late father's ledger comes surprisingly easily to Sophia Darnly. But is it mere coincidence that her misdeed unexpectedly reunites her with Kier, the outlaw lover who abandoned her years ago? Time has not erased Sophia from Kier's heart, nor tamed her fiery spirit. She boldly insinuates herself into Kier's plan for revenge, believing the ledger will ensure her survival. But Kier knows that with or without the ledger, she's as good as dead.

Kier is a dangerous, intoxicating potion for Sophia, but he's on a mission of revenge, and can't allow even the woman he once loved to stop him. The danger mounts as they take on the leader of a powerful consortium who needs the fabled Darnly ledger—and all its damning details about the wealthiest merchants of England—to execute his nefarious plan. He also needs Sophia—the last witness to his scheme—dead.

The coals of their rekindled passion burn hot as Sophia and Kier set their trap. But when the duo discovers they too are the targets of a deadly deception, the fate of their love, and of England itself, lies in the balance.
Genre: Historical romance, Medieval
Series: ?

Ames:  I LOVED Defiant by Kris Kennedy and cannot wait to read this one!!

Nath: Well obviously LOL.

All Seeing Eye by Rob Thurman
published by Simon & Schuster
Picking up a small pink shoe from the grass forever changed young Jackson Lee’s life. Not only did its presence mean that his sister Tessa was dead—murdered and stuffed in the deep, black water of a narrow well—but the shoe itself told him so.

Tessa’s death triggers an even more horrific family massacre that, combined with this new talent he neither wants nor can handle, throws Jack’s life into a tailspin. The years quickly take him from state homes to the streets to grifting in a seedy carnival, until he finally becomes the cynical All Seeing Eye, psychic-for-hire. At last, Jackson has left his troubled past behind him and found a semblance of peace.

That is, until the government blackmails him. Helping the military contain the aftermath of a bizarre experiment gone violently wrong, everything Jackson knows about himself will change just as suddenly as it did with his little sister’s shoe.

And while change is constant...It’s never for the better.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: ?

Nath: I'm a huge fan of Ms Thurman's urban fantasy series. If she's going to start a new series, then I think it's definitively worth a try :) Plus, I love psychic, so it'll be interesting to see Ms Thurman's spin on it!

The Care and Feedingof Stray Vampires by Molly Harper
published by Molly Harper
Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow’s only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she’d like. Running all their daylight errands—from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled O neg—gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vampire life. Her rules are strict; relationships with vamps are strictly business, not friendship—and certainly not anything else. But then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and only Iris can help.

Cal - who would be devastatingly sexy, if Iris allowed herself to think that way - offers Iris a hefty fee for hiding him at her place until he figures out who wants him permanently dead. Even though he’s imperious, unfriendly and doesn't seem to understand the difference between "employee" and "servant," Iris agrees, and finds herself breaking more and more of her own rules to help him - particularly those concerning nudity.

Turns out what her quiet little life needed was some intrigue & romance—in the form of her very own stray vampire.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Beeline series, Book #1 (connected to the Jane Jameson series)

Nath: I love Ms Harper's breezy writing style, it's just a lot of fun. The Jane Jameson series is really enjoyable; however, I do agree with others that it has run its course. So I'm happy that Ms Harper is writing a spin-off :) Hopefully, it'll be good :)


Ouf, finally done!! LOL, so which of these are you getting? And are we missing any?!?