Monday, December 23

Review: Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

Ok, Nath and I have teamed up for one more review for 2013.  And just in time, it's a holiday themed book!  I like to think Nath and I have been consistent with our reviews this year.  It feels like we've done a lot more this year than in previous years.  :P  And soon, we'll be doing posts for our best of 2013, so make sure to stop by around the New Year for those.

In the meantime, enjoy this review! :)


Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
published by Harlequin (HQN Books) in October 2013
Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.

Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she's out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it's terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: O'Neil Brothers, Book #1

Ames: I’m not the kind of person who reads Christmas themed books. But I do like Sarah Morgan’s writing so I thought I’d give Sleigh Bells in the Snow a chance. I’m glad I did. What about you, Nath?

Nath: Me? I picked it up for two reasons. First, it is written by Ms Morgan and I’ve been wanting to read more of her work as she seems to be well-loved in blogland - plus, this was a full-length novel which is more my speed :) And second, the reviews for this book has been very good, so I’ve been curious. Overall, I do think it’s a nice Christmas themed book :)

Ames: As much as I enjoyed it, I did find it a bit slow to start. I’m not 100% sure if it was my own mood at the time or the book. Maybe it was both. But once things got underway and Kayla was at Snow Crystal, I really got into the story.

Nath: Hmmmm. I didn’t find the start slow per se, but I know I was impatient to find out why Kayla disliked Christmas so much. It was hinted, but I thought it took a while for it to be revealed.

What did you think of Snow Crystal?

Ames: I was ok with the hint about Kayla’s past, I trusted the author to reveal it in due time. LOL

I want to go to Snow Crystal right now! From the skiing to the snowmobiling and dog sled rides, it really sounds like a winter wonderland. And the maple syrup too. I liked the O’Neil familly and Elise and Brenna. Even knowing those two employees are total sequel bait, I liked them and can’t wait to read those stories.

Nath: I enjoyed the setting as well. It was really what you expected of a resort like Snow Crystal :) Also, Ms Morgan managed to make Snow Crystal which is essentially a small town refreshing. Part of it is because it was really focused on Snow Crystal as a resort, so you didn’t see the little shops you’d expect and also, Ms Morgan didn’t over-populate the book with characters. And the ones she did introduce, I enjoyed :) Elise and Brenna might be sequel bait, but they are interesting ones!

Ames: You’re totally right about Snow Crystal. The focus was on the resort and the O’Neil family. I have to admit, I liked the puppy too. :P

One thing I would have liked to have seen was a friendship develop between Kayla and Jesse, Tyler’s daughter. Yes she gave some insight into what she was going through, but I would have liked to have seen them connect with each other.

Nath: The puppy was very cute! While Kayla and Jesse didn’t really connect, I was very happy with how Jesse’s story was built up. We saw enough to be interested, but it didn’t overtake the book :)

For me, I thought Kayla came around fast… For someone who was so against Christmas and connections… She got attached to the O’Neils very fast and I thought that was surprising. I also found some of the O’Neils family members a bit pushy. I mean, people are allowed to not like Christmas or are entitled their own opinions and some of the O’Neils just disregarded everything. While sometimes endearing in books, it would have driven me bonkers in real life.

Ames: Kayla was hiding a very deep pain and so when the O’Neils showed her how family should behave, she was like a sponge. She didn’t realize she was craving that feeling of belonging. She did come around fast, but I think it was because the O’Neils, especially Jackson, didn’t let her build her shields back up after they put cracks in them. I loved that Jackson could see that about Kayla and didn’t let her push him away. And it was a two-way street: Kayla showed them a different way to relate to each other.
I didn’t find them too pushy, but I agree, in real life, it would have driven me crazy. Luckily we were reading fiction!

Nath: I guess you’re right. I still expected her to resist a bit more :)

What did you think of Jackson and Kayla? I enjoyed them together, they definitively had chemistry :) At the same time though, I felt their romance was a bit too easy… like there was a lack of wooing ^_^;

Ames: I liked Jackson and Kayla as well but it wasn’t a lack of wooing but some other lack I felt. I agree it was easy...I think because Jackson fell for her so quickly. I just can’t see how he saw beyond her frosty demeanor and decided he wanted her, like what did he see? Maybe there wasn’t enough from his POV but in the end, I got her side of the attraction so that makes up for it I guess. They were good together. And plus he has his welcoming family. :P

Nath: They were indeed good together and I liked the ending - how each of them realized their mistake in the relationship.

So overall assessment? I thought Sleigh Bells in the Snow was an engaging book, but the romance and the character development were a bit bland. I wished for a bit more. Still, Ms Morgan has captured my interest enough that I’m looking forward to see Snow Crystal in another season :) I’m giving this book a B-.

Ames: Like I said above, I thought the beginning was a bit slow but it definitely picked up once Kayla got to Snow Crystal. I liked the O’Neils and the whole atmosphere of the resort. Enjoyable characters and despite a bit of oomph lacking from the romance, I finished the book with a big smile on my face. I too look forward to reading more of the O’Neils. I’m giving Sleigh Bells in the Snow a solid B.

Tuesday, December 3

New Releases - December 2013

Oups, we're a bit late with the New Releases post this month. You can chalk it up to so many reasons LOL, but I think laziness and fatigue would be the top ones ^_^; Still, we made it for today which is the new release day, so not bad :P

I'm always bummed out in December because of the lack of new releases and this year is no exception. Some good books are coming out, but not enough to keep me busy throughout the holiday season! Although this year, it might be good because I'm really in the mood for Christmas and that'll mean more money to put into it :)

So here are the books Ames and I are looking forward this month :) Let us know if we missed something!!


December 2

Switched by Cassie Mae
published by Randomhouse
Ever since high school, Kayla has been crazy for gorgeous football player Talon. But before she could muster the courage to tell him, he became a hot item with her beautiful BFF, Reagan. The only person who knows Kayla’s secret is Wesley, Talon’s best bud—and he’s got it bad for Reagan. Now they’re all in college together, hanging out 24/7. For Kayla, seeing the two lovebirds together is absolutely unbearable. So Kayla and Wesley hatch a plot to drive them apart before Talon has a chance to give Reagan the Christmas gift she’s been waiting for.

Soon enough, the once happy couple is fighting. Reagan suddenly can’t get enough of Wesley’s goofy sense of humor, and Talon seems to be paying more attention to Kayla than a guy who’s “only a friend” ever should. But just when everything seems to be falling into place, Kayla and Wesley accidentally spend a night together and discover a hitch in their plan they never considered: that switching partners may not lead to a perfect ending after all.
Genre: New Adult
Series: standalone

Nath: Ugh, that seems to be the new trend in covers! Seen so many like this one and I gotta say, not loving them ^_^; Book sounds okay, lots of drama... Going to wait and see what you think of it, Ames! :P

Ames:  LOL  I love the drama.  You know me and friends to lovers.  That is outweighing the best friend boyfriend stealing antics that seem to be going on.  Because that plot?  I'm not too fond of.  But I like the sound of this one.


December 3

Daughters of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
published by Berkley Trade
Based on the true story of Cleopatra’s daughter...

After years of abuse as the emperor’s captive in Rome, Cleopatra Selene has found a safe harbor. No longer the pitiful orphaned daughter of the despised Egyptian Whore, the twenty year old is now the most powerful queen in the empire, ruling over the kingdom of Mauretania—an exotic land of enchanting possibility where she intends to revive her dynasty.

With her husband, King Juba II and the magic of Isis that is her birthright, Selene brings prosperity and peace to a kingdom thirsty for both. But when Augustus Caesar jealously demands that Selene’s children be given over to him to be fostered in Rome, she’s drawn back into the web of imperial plots and intrigues that she vowed to leave behind.

Determined and resourceful, Selene must shield her loved ones from the emperor’s wrath, all while vying with ruthless rivals like King Herod. Can she find a way to overcome the threat to her marriage, her kingdom, her family, and her faith? Or will she be the last of her line?
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Cleopatra's Daughter, Book #3

Ames:  I really enjoy Stephanie Dray's writing so I always keep an eye out for her new releases.  I also LOVE that cover.


Out to Lunch by Stacey Ballis
published by Berkley Trade
Jenna has lost her best friend.

With Aimee gone so tragically young, Jenna barely knows where to turn. Aimee was the one who always knew what to do—not to mention what to wear. The two built a catering company together and had so much in common—well, except their taste in men. Jenna never understood what the successful, sophisticated Aimee saw in Wayne, with his Star Wars obsession and harebrained business schemes.

And gained her best friend’s husband….

But Aimee has left a shocking last request: Jenna now has financial custody of the not-so-merry widower. True, Wayne needs someone sensible around to keep him under control, but what was her dear departed friend thinking?

The thing is, as she gets to know Wayne better, his latest moneymaking idea actually starts to intrigue her. Her attractive new lawyer boyfriend doesn’t approve of it—but then, Wayne doesn’t approve of her attractive new lawyer boyfriend. Now Jenna has to figure out what direction her life is going to take next. And she can’t help asking herself: What would Aimee do?
Genre: Women's Fiction
Series: standalone

Nath: Ohhhh, didn't realize Ms Ballis had a new release coming out :) This one sounds cute!!

Ames:  It does, doesn't it?  I really enjoyed Off the Menu so I've been waiting for her next book.  I remember misreading the blurb for OtM so I'm going to try and not get things confused this time...like thinking that Wayne develops feelings for Aimee.  LOL
The Heart of a Duke by Victoria Morgan
published by Berkley Sensation
Lady Julia Chandler fears she will be walking down the aisle with a silver-tipped cane if she waits for the Duke of Bedford to seal their engagement. Seeking to quicken his pace, she decides to find her duke, kiss him senseless, and post the wedding banns. It is a good plan, until she mistakes her fiancé’s long-absent twin for her duke.

Ten years ago, Lord Daniel Bryant sailed to America to find his fortune and flee his cruel brother who inherited the family title. A cryptic note draws him back to England: Come home and claim your destiny. Before seeking anything, Daniel must first determine who set the fire that nearly took his life and precipitated his flight abroad. Now with the taste of Lady Julia warm on his lips, the stakes are raised higher than before as he seeks to claim both his destiny and the lady of his heart.
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: standalone

Nath: Oh, sounds like an interesting historical romance :P Is this the author's debut novel?

Ames:  No, she also wrote For the Love of a Soldier which features a cross-dressing heroine and what made her land on my radar.  LOL  This one sounds interesting.


Ink is Thicker than Water by Amy Spalding
published by Entangled Teen
For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler crowd, the feeling only grows stronger.

But then she reconnects with Oliver, the sweet and sensitive college guy she had a near hookup with last year. Oliver is intense and attractive, and she’s sure he’s totally out of her league. But as she discovers that maybe intensity isn’t always a good thing, it’s yet another relationship she feels is spiraling out of her control.

It’ll take a new role on the school newspaper and a new job at her mom’s tattoo shop for Kellie to realize that defining herself both outside and within her family is what can finally allow her to feel permanent, just like a tattoo.
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Series: standalone

Ames:  Wena and I reviewed and enjoyed the heck out of The Reese Malcolm List by this author so I've been definitely wanting to read more by her!  The blurb for this one makes me happy.  I can't wait to read it!
Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
published by Sourcebooks
They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Series: Hundred Oaks, Book #4

Nath: I haven't read Ms Kenneally last few releases... but I might pick up this one though. Always interesting to see two persons from different backgrounds coming together. Also gotta say that Sourcebooks is doing a great job with her covers :P Always pretty!

Ames:  I agree, I like her covers.  I haven't read Kenneally's other books (besides Catching Jordan that I could just eat because I love it so much lol) but I think I'll jump right into this one because Savannah wants to be a jockey, something that I thought about when I was younger.  Another book I've been eagerly anticipating.  


Sea of Love by Susan Donovan
published by Signet Select
For years Rowan Flynn distanced herself from Bayberry Island and its infamous mermaid legend. But after her investor fiancé lost what was left of her family’s fortune, Rowan reluctantly agreed to run the Safe Haven Bed-and-Breakfast, determined never again to fall for the ridiculous fantasy of the mermaid matchmaker.

Now Rowan is just biding her time until she can return to her "real” life in New York, fixing up the B and B and avoiding neighbors who are angry that the Flynns won’t sell their land to a developer set on turning the island into a glitzy vacation destination.

But when a handsome stranger arrives at the B and B the night before the annual Mermaid Festival, Rowan’s life takes a turn for the interesting. Could it be the divine hand of the town’s patroness? Or is Rowan being set up for another disappointment?
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Bayberry Island, Book #1

Nath: Honestly, I'm not really excited about yet another small town contemporary romance series and don't know how I feel about Ms Donovan jumping on this bandwagon. Also, this plot is nothing new - as an avid reader, I've read it countless time ^_^; However, at the end of the day, it's Ms Donovan and I usually enjoy her books, so it is on my radar. Hopefully, she'll surprise me!



No Place Like Home - anthology
published by Kensington (Zebra)
There's nothing more festive than a winter romance, and in these heart-warming stories, love is a gift that can take you by surprise...

"The 24 Days Of Christmas" by Linda Lael Miller
A matchbox advent calendar first brought Frank Rayner and Addie Hutton together. But that was years ago. There's no way the miracles of Christmas--and the magic of true love--could possibly be hidden under one of its tiny flaps. Or could they?

"Christmas Angel" by Kat Martin
When Angel Summers' first love, Josh Coltraine, joined the Army, she vowed to hate him forever. But now he's back in Savannah for the holidays--wishing for a miracle that could heal both their hearts.

"The Christmas Carousel" by Mary Carter
Single mom Georgia Bradley can't afford to fight the developers who want to tear down her beloved Rhode Island auction house--especially Adam Cavalier. But when she receives a mysterious gift, Adam becomes intrigued with its origin--and with Georgia...

"A Rose In Winter" By Laura Florand
Allegra Caldron knew the rule never to talk to strangers. But on a cold winter night in Provence, she breaks that rule--and more--with an irresistible man. Raoul Rosier seems thrillingly dangerous, yet why does Allegra feel so safe with him--even when she believes he's a thief?
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: various

Nath: I'm not sure I'll be getting this one, but if I do, it'll be for Ms Florand's entry :) I wonder if it's the set-up for her Provence series...

Ames:  Is she starting a new series?

Nath: Not exactly a new series, more like a spin-off - La Vie en Rose. She's already started the series, but so far, it's been novellas and shorter length stories. I think her next full-length novel with Kensington will be part of this series...


Kicking It - anthology
published by New American Library (ROC)
New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine has modern-day potions witches Holly and Andrew facing off against a firebrand politician who wears literally killer boots in a Texas-sized rodeo of trouble.

Boot-loving Cadogan vampire Lindsey must team up with off-again, on-again vampire partner Luc when a woman from her past is targeted by supernaturals in New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill’s all-new adventure.

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman features Trixa Iktomi from her Trickster series dealing with magical vengeance and magical footwear.

Taking kick-ass urban fantasy literally, USA Today bestselling authors Kalayna Price and Faith Hunter bring together the best of the genre to once again prove when you’re fighting supernatural forces, it helps to keep your feet on the ground.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: various

Nath: Another anthology on my radar. This time around, it's because of Ms Thurman's entry and so happy she's giving us another Trickster story! I missed Trixa, but also her companions LOL. Also, it might be a good introduction to other UF series that I've been missing out. I'm really on the look-out for new ones.


December 10


Secrets and Ink by Lou Harper
published by Samhain
When Karma writes you a ticket, pay up or else...

If life was like the movies, Jem Mitchell’s wouldn’t be such a mess. In LA’s glittering world of dreams, he works an unglamorous job at a gourmet grocery store. His past is so deep and dark, the details are lost even to him. All he knows is he was once cursed by a meter maid, and ever since, his love life has sucked.

When Detective Nick Davies becomes a regular at the store, Jem dares to hope he’s un-hexed at last. He should have known that sex with a remarkably normal guy, devoid of weird fetishes and fatal personality flaws, was too good to be true.

During a post-encounter cuddle, Nick recognizes the tattoo on Jem’s back—and remembers him as a young hustler he arrested nine years past.

As Jem’s memories come crashing back, he flees from Nick, but fate contrives to keep pushing them back together. And when Jem’s old partner in crime is found murdered, the stakes are raised for life, for love, and a dangerous drama with no guarantee of a Hollywood ending.
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Series: standalone

Ames:  I really enjoy Harper's writing and I think the set up for this one sounds quirky and right up my alley.
December 15

Brazen by Kelley Armstrong
published by Subterranean Press
Nick Sorrentino knows everyone in the supernatural world considers him the Pack’s playboy, the pretty but not very useful werewolf whose only reputation involves his amorous exploits.

Usually, Nick couldn’t care less what anyone outside the Pack thinks of him. But when it affects his hunt for Malcolm Danvers, a psychotic bogeyman from the Pack’s past, it matters.

Necessity forces Nick to team up with mercenary half-demon Vanessa Callas to run Malcolm to ground in Detroit. Together, they discover Malcolm is more deadly than ever. And he wants to play.

It’s time for Nick to prove he’s not just a lover.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Otherworld Stories, Book #13.1

Nath: Ohhhh, so looking forward to this one! I think Nick is one of the most interesting and under-developed character of Ms Armstrong's Otherworld series and I'm happy to get a story from his POV. Also, if he can get a love interest, that'd be cool :P


Return to You by Julie Cross
self-published
How many dreams can you chase at once?

Even with bad boy, TJ, disrupting their morning workouts, Karen and Stevie’s daily battles with each other are sure to bring both of them closer to a national title at next month’s championships. It’s the kind of feud that creates winning results.

Until a fall from the uneven bars shakes Karen’s rock-solid confidence. Not only does she balk every time she so much as attempts a routine, she’s also facing all this without much support from Jordan. After receiving some bad news, Jordan’s reluctance to listen to reason causes Karen so much frustration she begins to avoid him, needing space to deal with her own issues. He needs someone to force him to make the right choice, he needs his dad to intervene and Karen knows this, but is torn between her loyalty to Jordan and her concern for her coach’s son. Even though both paths lead to the same person—Jordan—it feels like she’s choosing between two different people.

And then there’s the growing tension between TJ and Stevie. They’re obviously on the verge of either ripping each other’s heads off or ripping each other’s clothes off. It’s hard for either Jordan or Karen to tell where those two are headed. Tension is building from every possible outlet and there’s bound to be an explosion of some kind in the very near future.
Genre: New Young Adult lol
Series: Letters to Nowhere, Book #3

Nath: I can't wait for this new entry of the series! Really looking forward to it! Although not sure I'm all that happy about the rift that seems to be happening between Karen and Jordan. Hope they work it through, because they really are too cute together!! I'm also concerned about Jordan because something seems to be wrong with his health... hopefully, I'm wrong.

Ames:  I like when established couples have fights.  Because the making up is so awesome.  LOL

Ok, I totally read the blurb wrong and I was like "Why are Karen and Stevie going to rip each other's clothes off?"  hahaha

Nath: LOL, catfight!! In any case, hopefully, they work it out ^_^;


December 16

Thrown by Colette Auclair
published by Simon & Schuster (Pocket Star)
In THROWN, professional trainer Amanda Vogel dreams of riding jumpers in the Olympics, but after seeing her best friend die in a riding accident, she’s so traumatized she can’t show. Broke and desperate, she takes a summer job in Aspen teaching some big-shot widowed movie star’s spoiled daughters to ride—even though she hates teaching kids. She braces herself for three miserable months. But by Labor Day, she has to choose between capturing a gold medal…and the man who has captured her heart.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: standalone

Nath: Totally see why it's on your radar, Ames! I bet the cover caught your eyes and for good reason! Really nice :P This sounds really interesting!

Ames:  Two horse-centric books this month.  Woohoo!  And in such different disciplines.  Racing and then show jumping.  *sigh*  December is going to be a good month.  I love the cover.  And the romance sounds good too!
December 17

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan
self-published
From Ms Milan's website....

In which Sebastian, an infamous rake, is brought to his knees by an innocent… Ha ha, no. That is some other book.....Sebastian is Robert’s cousin.
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Brothers Sinister #3

Ames:  Courtney Milan is an auto-buy author for me.  There's really nothing else to say.  LOL  Oh but the blurb is cute.


December 24


Beguiled by Joanna Chambers
published by Samhain
David Lauriston couldn't be less interested in King George IV's first visit to Edinburgh. But with Faculty of Advocates members required to put on a minimal show of patriotism, David makes an appointment with his tailor for a new set of clothes-only to run into a man he hasn't seen for two long years.

Lord Murdo Balfour.

Much has changed since their bitter parting, except their stormy attraction. And when Murdo suggests they enjoy each other's company during his stay, David finds himself agreeing. After all, it's only a temporary tryst.

Amidst the pomp and ceremony of the King's visit, Murdo's seduction is more powerful than David ever imagined possible. But when other figures from David's past show up, he is drawn into a chain of events beyond his control. Where his determination to help a friend will break his body, threaten his career, and put at risk the fragile tenderness he's found in Murdo's arms.
Genre: Historical M/M Romance
Series: Enlightenment, Book #2

Ames:  I like Joanna Chambers' writing and even though historical m/m isn't my favorite, I like the sound of this one.


The Spider by Jennifer Estep
published by Simon & Schuster (Pocket)
How did I end up in a career where I always have blood on my hands?

Well, let me tell you a story about an assassin who thought she could do no wrong…

Ten years ago. A blistering hot August night. I remember like it was yesterday. The night I, Gin Blanco, truly became the Spider. Killing people is what I do best, especially now that I’ve honed my Ice and Stone magic. But back then, I had yet to learn one very important rule: arrogance will get you, every single time.

This particular job seemed simple: murder a crooked building contractor with ties to ruthless Fire elemental Mab Monroe. My mentor, Fletcher Lane, had some misgivings, but I was certain that I had the situation under control… right up until I exposed my weaknesses to a merciless opponent who exploited every single one of them. There’s a reason assassins aren’t supposed to feel anything. Luckily, a knife to the heart can fix that problem, especially when I’m the one wielding it…
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Elemental Assassin, Book #10

Nath: I'm not sure how I feel about The Spider being some sort of prequel and thus going back in the timeline... However, I'm still a fan of the series and will be reading it till the end :) So keep them coming, Ms Estep!



December  31

Castle Hill by Samantha Young
published by New American Library
Braden Carmichael never imagined he’d fall as hard and as fast as he did for Jocelyn Butler. He also could not have anticipated how difficult it would be to convince her to give in to love. But now that he has her, he’s never letting go. He’s got it all planned—the passionate proposal, the dream wedding, the sexy Hawaiian honeymoon—even the perfect family they’ll start.

After trying to flee from her painful past, Joss is finally allowing herself to embrace the future. But when things start moving faster than she anticipated, she finds herself panicking over something Braden can’t understand. After everything they’ve been through, Joss is sure that their love can survive even her worst fears. But, this time, she may push Braden too far—and risk losing everything all over again…
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: On Dublin Street, Book #2.5

Ames:  I LOVE Joss and Braden.  LOVE THEM.  I cannot capture with words how much I love them.  LOL  They're right up there on my favorite couples list.  So definitely cannot wait to read this one!
The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
published by Balzer + Bray
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.
Genre: Young Adult
Series: standalone

Nath: Ohhhh. Love it when two people at a crossroads meet and help each other... even unwittingly. This one sounds really cute and funny... Hope it's a winner!!

Ames:  I know!  I also like when a shy, quiet girl attracts the popular boy.  :P  I like the dynamics with that kind of pairing.  I'm crossing my fingers for this one.



The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin
published by Berkley (Ace)
We’re Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn’t exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us….

When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out—usually saving my skin in the process.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel—yes, that Grendel—shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him—and the organization behind him—by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: SPI Files, Book #1

Nath: Hmmmm. I haven't loved what I read previously of Ms Shearin; however, I'm adding this book to my radar for my perpetual quest of new UF series to read :) Hopefully, this one will be a winner for me :)

Ames:  Ok, I haven't been interested in UF for forever but reading the blurb has given me a little itch.  I'll wait to see what you think of it, Nath, and then maybe I'll check it out too.



How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
published by Simon & Schuster (Pocket)
Caleb Graham is a werewolf by nature, a tracker by profession. He uses his “extra gifts” to find people, and not always in the most legal or ethical manner. He doesn’t care what they’ve done, or who wants them found, as long as his considerable fee is paid. He likes his life simple and uncomplicated.

Anna Moder, former physician to Caleb’s pack, happens across Caleb during a particularly violent “negotiation” that has left him bloodied and unconscious. She helps him, despite the fact that he’s cost her a car, so he insists that she stay with him on the road for a while. As they grow closer, Anna looks past the gruff exterior and and the questionable job to thoroughly decent werewolf underneath.

Anna – who is careful to edit her involvement with Caleb’s pack from their conversations – doesn’t talk about why a nice girl wants to live in the middle of frozen nowhere, but she’s obviously on the run from something. When Anna’s past collides with Caleb’s current assignment from one of his sleazier contacts, Caleb finally has to make a choice—protect his job…or his potential mate?
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Naked Werewolf, Book #3

Nath: I don't love this series of Ms Harper as much as the Jane Jameson/Half Moon Hollow series; however, I'm willing to give it another go because I really enjoy Ms Harper's writing and humor :)

Ames:  I like Molly Harper's humor too, so even though I found the previous two books ok, I'll probably read this.  Just for a laugh.  :P



Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder
published by Harlequin (Mira)
She's fought death and won. But how can she fight her fears?

Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he's gone forever.

But there's a more immediate threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry's healing powers are needed now more than ever.Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision.
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Healer, Book #3

Nath: I still haven't read Scent of Magic - the second book of the series, but it's Ms Snyder. I want to support her, especially since she's going back to Yelena and Valek! Woohoo, those, I can't wait. Wooohooo!! Okay, back to Taste of Darkness... Perhaps once I have this book, I'll feel like reading Scent of Magic. After all, not having to wait a year to know what happens will be a good incentive :P


If Wishes were Earls by Elizabeth Boyle
published by Harpercollins Publisher (Avon)
Harriet Hathaway has loved only one man her entire life: the Earl of Roxley. But when he ignores her at a ball, she takes rather desperate steps to catch his eye and her plans find her ruined and without any hope of gaining Roxley’s heart. So it is much to her amazement when Roxley proposes marriage to save her from ruin. But Roxley’s proposal isn’t quite on the up and up and when she finds out she’s just another piece in one of his plots and japes, she vows revenge.

Roxley is desperate to pull his family from the brink of ruin, and the only way to gain a lost fortune is to prove to his aunts that’s he’s “reformed” his life and is determined to settle down. But the bride-to-be that he thought would be most amiable is doing everything to turn his life and his heart upside down. Harriet Hathaway had always seemed the most sensible girl he knew, but now this siren of a stranger he’s engaged to is leaving him feeling anything but sensible. Harriet is about to steal not only his heart, but quite possibly the keys to the Roxley fortune.
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Rhymes With Love, Book #3

Nath: I can't wait to read this one. I remember Harriet and Roxley's interactions in Along Came a Duke and found them very entertaining and engaging. I hope Harriet really creates havoc for Roxley!! Can't wait to read this one :)

Ames:  OOooh this one sounds like a fun read!!
The Greatest Lover Ever by Christina Brooke
published by St. Martin's
Passion to last a lifetime...

The Sweetest Scandal

Beautiful, exuberant, and stubborn Georgiana Black has more spirit than sense—which she learns when an ultimatum to the Earl of Beckenham ends their engagement. Six years later, Georgie is less concerned with impending spinsterhood than with making sure her young sister doesn't make the same mistakes she did. But soon Georgie stumbles into a scandalous encounter with none other than her former fiancé. Beckenham is still breathtakingly desirable.

The Truest Temptation

Beckenham's brief engagement to Georgie taught him one thing: when it comes to a wife, he wants a woman who will do her duty and cause no trouble. When the fiery Georgie falls unexpectedly into his arms, Beckenham remembers just how lushly delectable she is. Suddenly, the idea of actually marrying Georgie is irresistible. In a battle of wills, can passion conquer pride?
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Westruthers, Book #2

Nath: I enjoyed Ms Brooke's historical romance, so I'll most probably be picking this book eventually :)


Maybe

Lost in Wanderlust by Karina Halle
published by Diversion Books
The hol­i­day from hell just got ugly.

As if get­ting dumped on his vaca­tion wasn’t enough, British jour­nal­ist Chris Warner finds him­self stranded on the Mediter­ranean with a des­per­ate boss push­ing dead­lines down his throat all while facing an uncer­tain future.

Enter Jamie Cooper, a free spir­ited and slightly unsta­ble travel writer whose arrival only seems to make mat­ters worse. All Chris wants is to get back to Lon­don, win back his ex and start climb­ing up the cor­po­rate lad­der. Unfor­tu­nately, Jamie has dif­fer­ent plans for him and the may­hem that fol­lows turns both their lives upside down and up again.

“Lost in Wanderlust” is a rowdy contemporary romance about two memorable char­ac­ters who embark on a jour­ney through hell, high water and a lot of wine, in order to find them­selves, each other and a mis­placed diary that holds the key to their happiness.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: standalone

Ames:  I'm not quite sure on the release date for this one but I've heard good things about Karina Halle's writing and that cover is gorgeous, so I'm definitely interested in reading this one.

Friday, November 1

New Releases - November 2013

Compared to October, November doesn't have as many releases, but the quality this month is definitely not something to complain about.  :P

November 5

Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis
published by Berkley
He’ll help unleash the new woman in her…

Special Ops soldier Griffin Reid doesn’t exactly have happy memories of growing up in Sunshine, Idaho. He’s only come back to recover from a war injury, and while he refuses to admit he’s in a weakened state, he finds comfort in the last person he’d expect.

Kate Evans teaches fourth grade science in Sunshine, the place she’s always called home. Dreaming of graduate school and a happily-ever-after, she’s desperate to break out of the monotony of Sunshine. Luckily, a certain sexy man has just come back into her life.

To Griffin, Kate as always been his little sister’s friend, but now he’s finding her to be so much more. As both attempt to forge their paths, they must decide if their passionate connection can turn into something lasting…
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Animal Magnetism, Book #5

Nath: This series has not been my favorite by Ms Shalvis, but I heard good comments about Rumor Has It, so I'll be giving it a go :) Plus, I'm really in a contemporary romance mood this year and I can't get enough LOL.

Ames:  Jill is an auto-buy author for me.  And never mind the fact that this series has animals.  Love!

Monroe: I ditto Ames! I love this author and series!!!


Striking Distance by Pamela Clare
published by Berkley
Her past is a secret—even to her.
Discovering it will be the most dangerous move of her life.

TV reporter Laura Nilsson, known as the "Baghdad Babe," spent eighteen months in an Al Qaeda compound after being kidnapped live on the air. Two years later, she's still wondering why.

No rescue mission in Javier Corbray's fourteen years as a Navy SEAL affected him the way Laura's rescue did. No woman has stirred his protective instincts the way she has. And he wants her more than he's ever wanted anyone.

As Laura and Javier's passion ignites, so does Laura's need to discover the mystery of her past. Especially when she learns that her abduction was not random—and that she's still a target for a killer with an impenetrable motive. Now Javier will have to rely on his skills to keep the woman he loves from being struck down before she dares uncover the truth.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: I-Team, Book #6

Nath: Hmmmm. Many love this series, but for some reasons, I just don't connect with it. Actually, I know why: I've never been a fan of reporters... and even though her reporters are different, my mind is still prejudiced ^_^; I might be picking this one up, although I'm a bit wary of Laura's kidnapping and the aftermath. Guess it's going to depend on reviews...

Ames:  Pamela Clare is an auto-buy author for me.  'Nuff said.


Wild Darkness by Lauren Dane
published by Berkley
The bombing that almost killed Owen witch Molly Ryan has worsened the tensions between the humans and the Others. While the Others desperately campaign to prevent the passage of a law that would strip their people of all rights, the human separatists develop an agenda far worse than anyone imagined. With her position more precarious than ever, security head Helena Jaansen finds herself relying more and more heavily on her personal guard, Faine Leviathan, and, despite her better instincts, falling more deeply into the intimate connection that they share.

As Helena and Faine’s explosive passion grows, a deadly separatist plot is discovered, one which could bring ultimate destruction for the Others, and war breaks out between the two opposing factions. With the Others forced into hiding, Helena must overcome her fear of repeating past failures to save her people—and her heart—before it’s too late…
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Bound by Magick, Book #4

Nath: I enjoyed the first two books of this series, but starting from the third, it took a turn where humans and Others are fighting for their rights... and I just hate that kind of fighting because it's just so scary! Ugh. Again, going to wait for reviews, but it's on my radar.

Ames:  It's Lauren Dane!  You know you're going to like it.  LOL


Kinked by Thea Harrison
published by Berkley
As a harpy, Sentinel Aryal is accustomed to dealing with hate, but Sentinel Quentin Caeravorn manages to inspire in her a burning ire unlike anything she’s ever known. Aryal believes the new Sentinel to be a criminal, and vows to take him out as soon as the opportunity arises. But the harpy’s incessant wrath has pushed Quentin to the limit, and forces him to make a deadly vow of his own.

To put an end to the conflict, Dragos, Lord of the Wyr, sends them on a reconnaissance mission to the Elven land of Numenlaur. Forced to work together, Aryal and Quentin’s mutual antagonism escalates. Each fight draws forth more passion—culminating in an explosively sexual confrontation. But when their quest reveals real danger, Aryal and Quentin must resolve their differences in ways beyond the physical, before the entire Wyr is threatened.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Elder Races, Book #6

Nath: LOL, I like what we've seen of Aryal and I'm curious to see what's her beef against Quentin. So looking forward to this book :)

Ames:  I like harpies.  LOL 

Monroe: Ames...you have harpies!?!?! Lol ;) love this author but I'm so far behind in this series.


A Potion to Die For by Heather Blake
published by New American Library (Signet)
Trouble is brewing

As the owner of Little Shop of Potions, a magic potion shop specializing in love potions, Carly Bell Hartwell finds her product more in demand than ever. A local soothsayer has predicted that a couple in town will soon divorce—and now it seems every married person in Hitching Post, Alabama, wants a little extra matrimonial magic to make sure they stay hitched.

But when Carly finds a dead man in her shop, clutching one of her potion bottles, she goes from most popular potion person to public enemy number one. In no time the murder investigation becomes a witch hunt—literally! Now Carly is going to need to brew up some serious sleuthing skills to clear her name and find the real killer—before the whole town becomes convinced her potions really are to die for!
Genre: Cosy Mystery
Series: Magic Potion Mystery, Book #1

Nath: I've enjoyed Ms Blake's writing and am happy to see her start a new series. Going to check it out, especially since it features witches again :)


Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming
published by Macmillan (Minotaur Books)
On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire, that quickly becomes a double homicide and kidnapping. Which is the very last thing Russ needs...Currently he's struggling with the prospect of impending fatherhood. And his new wife is not at all happy with his proposal for their long-delayed honeymoon: a week in an unelectrified ice-fishing cabin. The vestry of St. Alban's Church has called for the bishop to investigate Clare's "unpriestly" pregnancy. She has one week to find out if she will be scolded, censured, or suspended from her duties. Officer Hadley Knox is having a miserable January as well. Her on-again-off-again lover, Kevin Flynn, has seven days to weigh an offer from the Syracuse Police Department that might take him half a state away.

As the days and hours tick by, Russ and Clare fight personal and professional battles they've never encountered. In the course of this one tumultuous week the lives of the Millers-Kill residents readers have come to love and cherish change forever. Readers have waited years for Through The Evil Days and Julia Spencer-Fleming delivers with the exquisite skill and craftsmanship that have made her such a success.
Genre: Mystery
Series: Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery, Book #8

Ames:  Some of you may be shocked to know, I'm only two books behind in this series.  I love it so much.  I'm savouring it.  But I still look forward to each new book.  :P


Jagged by Kristen Ashley
published by Grand Central Publishing
An old flame rekindled . . .

Zara Cinders always knew Ham Reece was the one, but he wasn't interested in settling down. When she found someone who was, Ham walked out of her life. Three years later, Zara's lost her business, her marriage, and she's barely getting by in a tiny apartment on the wrong side of the tracks. As soon as Ham hears about Zara's plight, he's on her doorstep offering her a lifeline. Now, it will take every ounce of will power she possesses to resist all that he offers.

Ham was always a traveling man, never one to settle down in one town, with one woman, for more time than absolutely necessary. But Ham's faced his own demons, and he's learned a lot. About himself, and about the life he knows he's meant to live. So when he hears that Zara's having a rough time, he wants to be the one to help. In fact, he wants to do more than that for Zara. A lot more. But first, he must prove to Zara that he's a changed man.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Colorado Mountain, Book #5

Ames:  My addiction is getting fed.  YAY.


Foreplay by Sophie Jordan
published by Harpercollins Publisher (William Morrow)

Before she goes after the life she’s always wanted, she’s about to find the one she needs.

Pepper has been hopelessly in love with her best friend’s brother, Hunter, for like ever. He’s the key to everything she’s always craved: security, stability, family. But she needs Hunter to notice her as more than just a friend. Even though she’s kissed exactly one guy, she has just the plan to go from novice to rock star in the bedroom—take a few pointers from someone who knows what he’s doing.

Her college roommates have the perfect teacher in mind. But bartender Reece is nothing like the player Pepper expects. Yes, he’s beyond gorgeous, but he’s also dangerous, deep—with a troubled past. Soon what started as lessons in attraction are turning both their worlds around, and showing just what can happen when you go past foreplay and get to what’s real…
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Series: The Ivy Chronicles, Book #1

Ames:  Ok, Wena read this and enjoyed it so that definitely made me pay attention.  But reading the blurb, this one sounds really good! 

Monroe: I've only read her YA books...sounds good though!


November 7

Watch Your Back by Karen Rose
published by Headline
A cold case reopened. A murderer re-emerging more deadly than ever before…

Baltimore Homicide Detective Stevie Mazzetti has suffered losses no woman should have to endure. And, despite it all, she’s still a fighter. When she learns that her ex-partner might have miscarried justice, she’s determined to put the past to rights, even when she becomes a target.

It’s former Marine Clay Maynard’s job to see the risk in every situation, but he doesn’t have to look hard to find the danger surrounding Stevie. Since the minute he first saw her, Clay has wanted to protect the wounded officer, and he started loving her not long after that. So when Stevie attracts the attention of a vicious psychopath, Clay will do whatever it takes to keep her alive. That is, if he can stay ahead of a killer with everything to lose—and something terrifying to hide...
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Baltimore, Book #4

Nath: This is the UK release of Watch Your Back. In case you want to know, the North American release date is February 4... No way I can wait till then to get my hands on this book, which is why I've already pre-ordered the UK version :) Just can't wait for this book. It's finally Stevie and Clay's story! Wooohooo! I know I'm not the only one feeling this way :)

Ames:  Karen Rose is an auto-buy author for me.  So even though I'm not caught up on this series, I'll be buying it.  :P


November 12

Aftershock by Sylvia Day
published by Harlequin (Cosmo Red Hot Reads)
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sylvia Day comes the gripping romantic conclusion to the miniseries that launched Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin. It started with Afterburn and ends with an Aftershock.
Genre: Erotica romance
Series: Afterburn & Aftershock, Book #2

Ames:  It's Sylvia Day.  She's definitely an auto-buy author for me.  :P

Monroe: ditto Ames! :)


Have You Any Rogues? by Elizabeth Boyle
published by Harpercollins Publisher (Avon Impulse)
The Seldons and Dales have been mortal enemies for centuries, but that hasn't stopped the roguish Crispin, Viscount Dale and the impetuous Lady Henrietta Seldon from waging their own battle … of the heart. Every stray glance, every chance encounter threatens to reveal the secret passion that keeps drawing them together.

But finally after years of flirting with disaster, Crispin and Henrietta find themselves locked in a wine cellar, and now there is no denying the love and loyalties that have lured them and torn them apart time and time again. Will this one last chance, this tempting night of desire be the one that ignites a fire that will never be extinguished, no matter the price?
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Rhymes with Love, Book #2.5

Nath: I still haven't read the second book And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake, but did like the first one, Along Came the Duke. Also, I'm definitively getting the third book, If Wishes Were Earls, because the blurb sounds so cute. So I'll probably be getting this one... but ugh, that cover is bad! Lucky this is an e-book.

Ames:  I agree about that cover.  It's kind of blech.  But it sounds cute!


November 15

Return to Sender by Julie Cross
self-published
If only summer could last forever…

Karen and Jordan might be out in the open with their relationship, but that doesn't make it any easier for them to face events looming in the future. Like Jordan leaving for college halfway across the country. Or Karen's win at a big international gymnastics competition setting the bar high for her future and adding pressure like she's never experienced before.

But when Nina Jones (aka-US Gymnastics Dictator), makes plans for Karen and teammate Stevie to train at a gymnastics camp for a month—the same camp where Jordan coaches—romantic summer interludes replace their fears of being apart. Both Jordan and Karen know that when fall comes, some very tough decisions will have to be made, but for now, it’s stolen kisses, racing hearts, and whispered words.
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary
Series: Letters to Nowhere, Book #2

Nath: Can't wait to read this book!! I loved the first installment, Letters to Nowhere, and just can't wait to read more of Karen and Jordan!

Ames:  I know!!  I'm really looking forward to this one.


November 19

Too Much of a Good Thing? by Joss Wood
published by Harlequin (Harlequin KISS)
Be careful what you wish for!

It's time for Lu Sheppard to get back in the game-fact. After ten years of playing mom to her younger brothers the boys have left home and she's determined to make up for lost time! Item number one on her list? A man to have some fun with!

Rugby coach Will Scott is just what Lu needs to ease herself back into the dating game. Only in town temporarily, king of the fling...he's perfect. But his kisses are so electric that remembering they have an expiry date is getting harder. Suddenly Lu starts wondering....maybe it is possible to have too much of a good thing!
Genre: Category romance, Contemporary
Series: None

Nath: Ms Wood is a new author on my auto-buy list for category romance :) I like her writing style and love that her stories take place in South Africa. Looking forward to Too Much of a Good Thing?, it sounds cute :)


Beware of the Boss by Leah Ashton
published by Harlequin (Harlequin KISS)
The man behind the pinstripes!

Lanie Smith's boss might look heavenly in a suit, but she's being run ragged by Grayson Manning's outrageous demands! Dog-sitting, clothes shopping…there's nothing he won't ask her to do! (Luckily, she's spent enough time checking out Gray's broad shoulders that guessing his shirt size isn't a problem…

The final straw? Being ordered to drop everything for a business trip to Vietnam. But one completely unexpected (and completely magical) kiss later, Lanie's forced to admit the truth—that their supercharged battle of wills hides a much more dangerous attraction…
Genre: Category romance, Contemporary
Series: None

Nath: The cover of Beware of the Boss caught my eyes LOL. What can I say? Everyone enjoys a boss/employee romance from time to time and I'm hoping this one will be a good one :) Plus, they're going to Vietnam!


Holiday Games by Jaci Burton
published by Penguin (InterMix)
A Riley wedding is in the works, a Riley Christmas means a house full of family, and baby making is on Liz Riley's mind. Chasing Gavin around and meeting in dark closets can be fun, but Liz is more than a little determined. Even with family in every corner of the house, Gavin is more than ready to do whatever Liz wants—especially when sex is involved. It's a Riley family Christmas.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Play by Play, Book #6.5

Nath: Not my favorite couple in the Play by Play series, but always nice to re-visit some characters :)

Ames: I love those covers.  LOL 

Monroe: I dream of her covers! Ha!


November 25

Dragos Takes a Holiday by Thea Harrison
published by Penguin (InterMix)(?)
The Bermuda Triangle. Pirates. The Peanut. What could possibly go wrong?

Dragos Cuelebre needs a vacation. So does Pia, his mate. When the First Family of the Wyr head to Bermuda for some much needed R&R, it's no ordinary undertaking - and no ordinary weekend in the sun. Between hunting for ancient treasure buried beneath the waves and keeping track of their son, Liam—a.k.a. Peanut, whose Wyr abilities are manifesting far ahead of schedule—it’s a miracle that Pia and Dragos can get any time together.

They're determined to make the most of each moment, no matter who tries to get in their way.

And did we mention pirates?
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Elder Races, Book #6.5

Nath: Okay, I don't usually pick up the novella in The Elder Races series, but I have to say, this one sounds really good :)

Ames:  Doesn't it?  LOL  I love Pia and Dragos.

Monroe: love Pia...so behind though lol

Nath: LOL, I want to see everyone interact with Peanut :P


November 26

Hostage by Kay Hooper
published by Berkley
Haven operative Luther Brinkman has been sent into the wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee to locate escaped felon Cole Jacoby, a mentally unstable bank robber. Supposedly, Jacoby hid more than ten million dollars from his last heist before he was captured—and rather mysteriously escaped federal custody. And once Brinkman finds Jacoby, the agent is left severely wounded, with no way to convey his location to Haven.

Callie Davis, an agent with the FBI’s Special Crimes Unit, has been in the area for some time, due to the foresight of her boss and unit chief, Noah Bishop. But when she finds the wounded Brinkman, her rescue mission turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse.

What neither Luther nor Callie know is that their quarry is far more than an escaped bank robber. And that in hunting him, they will find themselves being hunted by him, and will discover him to be the worst monster either of them has ever known.
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Haven, Book #2/FBI SCU, Book #14

Nath: Woooohoooo, finally a new book by Ms Hooper! I'm so looking forward to Hostage! Love this series and so happy Ms Hooper is finally writing more. I'm glad we get a FBI agent in this one and not just a Haven operative :) Now, when is the next Bishop Files book coming out?


The Chocolate Heart by Laura Florand
published by Kensington
No one hates Paris--except Summer Corey. The moody winters. The artists and their ennui. The inescapable shadow of the Tour Eiffel. But things go from bad to worse when Summer stumbles into brooding, gorgeous chef pâtissier Luc Leroi and indecently propositions the hero of French cuisine...

Luc has scrambled up from a childhood panhandling in the Paris Métro to become the king of his city, and he has no patience for this spoiled princess, even if she does now own his restaurant. Who cares if she smiles with all the warmth of July? She doesn't eat dessert!

There is only one way to tempt her. A perfect, impossibly sweet seduction...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Amour et Chocolat, Book #5

Nath: It's Laura Florand and I love her writing, need I say more? :P

Ames:  No you don't need to Nath.  I understand.  :P  I do like the Paris setting of her books, she has a true talent for capturing the city in her writing.


No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean
published by Harpercollins Publisher (Avon)
A rogue ruined...

He is the Killer Duke, accused of murdering Mara Lowe on the eve of her wedding. With no memory of that fateful night, Temple has reigned over the darkest of London’s corners for twelve years, wealthy and powerful, but beyond redemption. Until one night, Mara resurfaces, offering the one thing he’s dreamed of... absolution.

A lady returned...

Mara planned never to return to the world from which she’d run, but when her brother falls deep into debt at Temple’s exclusive casino, she has no choice but to offer Temple a trade that ends in her returning to society and proving to the world what only she knows... that he is no killer.

A scandal revealed...

It’s a fine trade, until Temple realizes that the lady—and her past—are more than they seem. It will take every bit of his strength to resist the pull of this mysterious, maddening woman who seems willing to risk everything for honor... and to keep from putting himself on the line for love.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Rules of Scoundrels, Book #3

Ames:  This one sounds dark and definitely intriguing!  I kind of like plots when someone seemingly comes back from the dead.


Wild Justice by Kelley Armstrong
published by Sphere
Protect the innocent. If there is any one principle that drives hit man Nadia Stafford, it’s this. In her own mind, when she was thirteen, she failed to protect her older cousin Amy from being murdered. Now she fails again, disastrously, when she botches a hit. To help her find her equilibrium, her mentor, Jack, brings her a gift: the location and new identity of the predator who killed her cousin and disappeared after the case against him failed.

Vengeance, justice? With the predator in her sights, nothing seems more right, more straightforward, more easy. But finding justice is never as simple as it seems.
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Nadia Stafford, Book #3

Nath: Again, this is not my favorite series by Ms Armstrong, but she's one of my favorite authors, so Wild Justice is on my radar. I'll get it, but don't know when I'll be reading it :P

***

What are the books you're looking forward to? Anything to add to this list? :)

Saturday, October 26

Buddy Review: Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross

The groove has been elusive so far ^_^; However, we're trying :) Enjoy the review!


Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross
self-published in August 2013
Set in the tough world of Elite Gymnastics... I've gotten used to the dead parents face. I've gotten used to living with my gymnastics coach. I've even adjusted to sharing a bathroom with his way-too-hot son. Dealing with boys is not something that's made it onto my list of experiences as of yet. But here I am, doing it. And something about Jordan--being around him, talking to him, thinking about him--makes me feel like I can finally breathe again. That's something I haven't been able to do lately. He knows what it feels like to be me right now. He knows what it's like to wonder--what now? I think about it constantly. I need answers. I need to know how to get through this. In the gym, if you're struggling, you train harder, you do drills and conditioning. How do I work hard at moving on? At being on my own? And what happens if I might be...maybe...probably falling for Jordan? I mean we live together now. That can't happen, can it? But kissing him...well, let's just say it's not an easy activity to forget.
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary
Series: Letters to Nowhere, Book #1


Ames:  Thank you so much Nath, for bring this book to my attention! I didn’t notice it mentioned anywhere in blogland. And then when I was looking for a book to read and asked you what was the last excellent book you read, you recommended this one and you were right. It was really good!

Nath: LOL, I’d love to take credit for it, but I got lucky as others recommended it to me :) So big thank you to Brie and Li!! Because Letters to Nowhere was really a good book!!

I think what I loved about it is the fact that it wasn’t stereotypical at all. When I first read the blurb and saw that Karen was going to live with her coach, immediately, I thought the worst scenarios possible. Bad coach or bad son… and it wasn’t like that at all. Aside from Karen’s parents’ deaths which is a common theme in New Adult/Young Adult books, Letters to Nowhere was just sooo refreshing!

Ames:  I agree. The whole parental death thing is so overdone, but despite that, Letters to Nowhere definitely stands out among other NA/YA books I’ve read lately.

One aspect I really enjoyed was the gymnastics. She’s an elite gymnast and has to train hours and hours a day. And I found it all interesting, it wasn’t tiring to read about at all. And the dynamic with her teammates and the coaches. I loved it.

Nath: I agree. The gymnastics aspect of the book was well-done and felt real. I think it helps that Ms Cross knew what she was writing about given her experience. I liked seeing the life of an elite athlete - how much of her life is dedicated to gymnastics and how much she had to give up. The fact that she took online classes instead of attending school which actually makes a lot of sense! The fact that her social life was almost non-existent… It is often said that young athletes are very mature… and it’s true. But at the same time, they are very immature, or I should say inexperienced, in some aspects because they are missing out on the regular evolution of growing up and Ms Cross showed it really well in Letters to Nowhere. In addition, I think Ms Cross captured the atmosphere of the gymnastics world very well. I loved seeing Karen’s relationships with her teammates - friends, but rivals at the same time... a fine balance between camaraderie and jealousy. Their interactions with the coaches and the competitions, dealing with the selection committees. This all contributed to make Letters to Nowhere very unique in my opinion :) 

Ames:  Exactly!! Ms. Cross did an excellent job of balancing the story with introducing the reader to an elite athletics world. And showing the maturity with the inexperience. Another thing was Karen’s parents. I like how that affected her in such a visceral way - she was having panic attacks, she couldn’t go back into her house. And how her parents were shown as not being perfect. Her reaction to that revelation made perfect sense to me. I feel like the angst from their deaths really moved the plot forward in a way that I haven’t felt with other YA books I’ve read.

Nath: I think part of it is because Karen had a good and normal relationship with her parents. There weren’t any dirty secrets, any guilt… Karen got along well with her parents even though they had some conflicts. What I loved about Karen’s parents were the fact that they did not push Karen in her gymnastics career, they weren’t obsessive about it. Overall, this was another good aspect of the book that the author handled very well. Even dead, her parents were present in the story :)

What did you think of Jordan and Coach Bentley?

Ames:  I liked the Coach and Jordan. I liked how they had their own problems, as father and son and dealing with a shared loss, that Karen helped them bridge a little bit by her presence and what she was going through. Jordan was the perfect person for Karen at that point in her life. And that made me like him a LOT. A lot a lot. LOL

Nath: At first, when I read the synopsis of the book, I was a bit hesitant. I immediately assumed the story would go in a bad direction, what with Karen going to live with her coach and his son. We’ve all heard about how tough the gymnastics world is and a lot of coaches are portrayed negatively in the media… However, I was so wrong and so happy to be wrong! Letters to Nowhere was a great read because the characters weren’t dark or bad… Instead they were normal and that includes Coach and Jordan   Yes, they had some personal issues, but that only made them more realistic.

I liked that both Coach and Jordan  understood what Karen was going through and wanted to help her. Ames, you say that Jordan  as the perfect person for Karen at this point in her life, but I think so was Coach. And I liked how Coach, Jordan and Karen were all looking for their footings in this new relationship :)

Ames:  I didn’t include Coach because I felt like there was something left unresolved between him and Karen. They did come a long way together and that feeling of unfinished business does not take away my enjoyment at all. I think I just wanted a wee bit more there.

This book, although very enjoyable, had some major emotional stuff going on and I thought that the author handled it very well. Karen went through a major trauma and I thought the author dealt with her grief in a realistic way. She didn’t heal instantaneously, she went through the whole process and it was good to read about that. Nothing was glossed over. I appreciated how down to earth this book was. And a major thing here was that life goes on. Karen lost her parents, but her life, especially gymnastics, went on and she had to learn to cope with that loss and the fact that she had to keep moving forward.

Nath: For sure, the relationship between Coach and Karen is not perfect. I think it’s the newness of it. They haven’t known each other long and suddenly, Coach Bentley is not only coach, but guardian and parent and so both are struggling to find the perfect balance to their weird relationship. Still, I want to see that relationship develop :)

Ames, you nailed it. 
What I appreciated most is that Ms Cross didn't go with the destructive road for Karen like so many other heroines. Instead, Karen dealt with everything - the tragedy, her grief and the aftermath - the best way she could, relying on the people around her when she could.  I liked that nothing was instantly resolved. I think the most interesting was seeing Karen deal with her future, take decisions that she knew her parents hadn't been 100% in favor for before their deaths… especially in her gymnastics career. Many other heroines would have continued on the path their parents would have wanted, because it was their “last” wishes. It took courage for Karen to make her own decisions and I really admired that about her. 

What did you think of the romance between Karen and Jordan   I thought it was sweet and can’t wait to read more about it!

Ames:  I like that Karen forged her own path too.

Ok, the romance. I loved it. Karen’s never had a boyfriend before and I like how at first she didn’t care for Jordan but then they got to know each other and things grew from there. Jordan was so great. He was very empathetic with Karen’s situation and he helped her so much. He was just so cute. I could go on and on about all the things I liked about him but I think readers should find out for themselves how cute he can be. :P

Nath: Me too, I loved the romance. It just simply worked and felt natural :) I liked how Karen didn’t just see Jordan  nd started crushing on him. They got to know each other and be friends. I think in the end, they were both there for each other and that’s the sign of a good relationship. Also, I liked that they are taking their time, that Karen doesn’t feel pressure to take the next step right away… and I liked their honesty to each other. Also, there was a lot more to Jordan than simply being a 17 years old boy and that was interesting :)

Letters to Nowhere was an excellent book :) In the sea of YA and NA books, it definitively stands out for the writing and the characters. I’m giving it an A- :) I loved it, but thought there was still some loose ends… I’m so glad that there’ll be a sequel soon!!

Ames:  I know! I’m excited for the sequel. :P I’m giving Letters to Nowhere a B+. A really enjoyable read and I totally agree that it stands out.

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Because we enjoyed this book so much and want to support the author, we're doing something we haven't done in a long time, a....

GIVEAWAY!!

You have till next Saturday, November 2 11:59pm EST to leave a comment to be eligible for the giveaway. The lucky winner will get an electronic copy of Letters to Nowhere :) However, if you already own a copy of Letters to Nowhere, it'll be our pleasure to gift a copy of the sequel, Return to Sender!!