There May Be Haunting and Desire...But The Mystery Of Murder Quenches This Fire

A Haunting Desire (Entangled Select Historical)Title:  A Haunting Desire
Author:  Julie Mulhern
Format: ERC
Length: 289 pages
Publisher:  Entangled Historical Select
Rating:  3 Stars

Murder in the streets. And passion in the shadows...

New Orleans, 1902
A killer walks the streets of New Orleans, eviscerating men and leaving them in the streets, and for madam Trula Boudreaux, it's bad for business. Trula needs help but she's not prepared for Zeke Barnes, the charming would-be savior who darkens her doorway-or the yearning he awakens. For while Trula knows well the delights of lust, she avoids love at all costs...
Investigating the killer was one thing, but Zeke can't help but be enchanted by the gorgeous mystery woman who runs an exclusive brothel. Caught between his duty to protect the city and his clear-as-day desire for Trula, Zeke sets about capturing Trula's heart-or at least a place in her bed. But with every moment Trula resists, Zeke falls into greater danger.
For his investigation into the haunted city and madam doesn't just risk his heart but both their lives.  -Goodreads

A Haunting Desire
by Julie Mulhern
Copyright © 2015 by Julie Mulhern. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Chapter One
Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1
New Orleans, Louisiana
Monday, October 6, 1902
Go to Marie Leveau’s tomb. Find the woman who can tell you about voodoo. She has what you need.
It didn’t matter if Zeke Barnes had better things to do than melt in the heat of a New Orleans’ afternoon. The instructions were clear. So he waited.
The tombs crowded near, some as bleached and crumbling as old bones, others spruced up with a fresh coat of paint in honor of the newly dead. Winged angels, fat-cheeked cherubs, praying children, a woman bearing a striking resemblance to a Roman goddess, and a group of shepherds watched him from the roofs with unseeing eyes. Zeke ignored them and searched for bits of shade. It was October; morning frosts should powder pumpkins, ruby or gold maple leaves should dance in an afternoon wind so brisk it brought color to his cheeks. He should need a heavier coat and the possibility of an early snow should be the topic on everyone’s lips. Instead, humidity puddled in his lungs. He was drowning in a sea of hot, wet air.
A trickle of sweat meandered down his temple. He scowled at the ghost of a pretty young woman. Her cloudy eyes rounded and she scurried away like a frightened rabbit, whispering to the other phantoms, “He sees me.”
Hers was the only voice in the deserted cemetery. A wisp of a wraith didn’t have the answers he needed. William had promised a woman, one who’d help him find the murderer stalking the district. One who’d meet him next to Marie Leveau’s solitary tomb.
He was here. Sweating. Thirsty. With the grit of a near sleepless night scratching his eyes.
The woman was nowhere in sight.
With a silent apology to those who rested within, Zeke leaned his shoulder against the whitewashed side of an oven vault. He needed answers. Soon. Someone with political power had pulled enough strings to bring him to New Orleans to track a vicious killer. Until he caught the murderer, he couldn’t leave, couldn’t escape this ghost-infested, mosquito-ridden swamp masquerading as a city.
The late afternoon light faded to lavender, the very air tinted with dusk. Zeke exhaled. He’d give this fool’s errand one more minute and then he’d leave. He had better things to do than watch ghosts promenade.
Where the hell was she?
As far as directions from William went, they were incredibly straightforward. Tomb. Voodoo woman. Answers. Too bad there was no mambo in sight. Thirty seconds more and Zeke would be gone. He pulled out his watch to count each one.
A sound carried in the silence. Someone trod the gravel and crushed oyster shell path. Zeke stepped out of the meager shadow cast by the large crypt and into the last of the afternoon sun.
The woman didn’t notice him. Instead, she glanced over her shoulder as if she saw the host of gossamer men who trailed after her. Not that he blamed the ghosts. He suspected a line of living men regularly trailed after the woman who came to halt in front of Marie Leveau’s tomb. A simple dress failed to hide a slender figure and generous curves. She wore a hat covered in ostrich feathers. Through the feathers, Zeke caught sight of her face. Overblown pink lips. A perfect nose. Straight brows. Honey blond hair gathered into a softly curling pompadour. The ideal Gibson Girl.
She bent from the waist and poured a generous tot of something onto the ground in front of the tomb. The lithe, supple movement offered Zeke an admirable view of a sublimely rounded bottom. She deposited a bottle in the middle of the pile of junk heaped in front of Marie Leveau’s final resting place. Colorful feathers, strings of glass beads, bits of burned candles, small coins, and wilted flowers made room for her gift of Mount Gay rum.
A ghostly soldier, his gray uniform hanging loosely on his cadaverous frame, ventured forth. He bent, touched one of her bright curls, and gently rubbed it between opaque fingers. She flinched. Did she sense the misty wraith hovering at her back? With infinite sadness apparent on the remnants of his features, the phantom released the lock of hair and stumbled away.
Zeke cleared his throat, the sound as loud as a gunshot in the quiet cemetery. She jerked upright and turned toward him. Her mouth formed a tiny, surprised O. This was a voodoo mambo? Had William lost his mind? She took a small step away from him.
Inexplicably, her retreat annoyed him. “You’re late.”
“Pardon me?” Her voice was slow honey, rich and sweet, and sultry as a starry southern night.
“You’re late,” he repeated.
She tilted her chin. “Have you mistaken me for someone else?”
“No. I was supposed to meet a woman at Marie Leveau’s tomb and here you are. Now, what do you have to tell me?”
Her lips quirked. “You’re rude.”
Yes, he was rude. He had a murderer to catch. “What do you have to tell me about the murders?”
Her lashes fluttered. “What murders?”
Either she was completely ignorant of the recent deaths or she was a fine actress. “The murders in the district.” He waved his arm toward Storyville.
Her forehead puckered and an elegant hand rose to her throat. “What makes you think I know anything about a murder?”
“Murders. Plural.” He thought she knew something because William had told him—she has what you need. Zeke needed answers, but William had made a rare mistake. This woman couldn’t help him, not if her soft voice or the delicate dance of her lashes or the way her skin blanched when he mentioned murder were any indication. She was a lady, from the tips of the ostrich feathers on her hat to the pointy toe of the boot peeking from beneath her modest skirt. She probably didn’t even know New Orleans had a red light district.
“I don’t know anything.” She didn’t have what he needed, probably thought him a lunatic escaped from an asylum, one who haunted graveyards and questioned ladies about gruesome deaths. Still…what was she doing here?
“You’re leaving the rum?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” She inched farther away from him.
“I didn’t know ladies left voodoo offerings.” He held out his hands, spread his fingers, and smiled at her. His smile was his secret weapon. All women, from toothless grannies to young misses, smiled back. She didn’t. Her eyes raked over him, cold as January in Boston.
He blinked back his surprise and searched for another question. “Does Madame Leveau enjoy rum?”
She raised her chin and took another small step away from him. “You’ve heard of Marie Leveau?”
He nodded. “The voodoo queen? She’s famous. Do you often leave her rum?”
Her eyes narrowed. In the falling light, Zeke couldn’t quite make out their color. He bet they were deep blue. He advanced a step.
“If you know about Marie, I can only assume you’ve come to leave your own gift. If you’ll excuse me…” She put a delicately shod foot on the walkway. She meant to leave.
He blocked her path. “You didn’t answer my question.”
The air around them stirred, carrying ghostly whispers, the cicadas’ distant song, and her scent—jasmine and magnolias—as delicate and beautiful as the lady herself. He only just stopped himself from leaning forward to inhale more of the delicious fragrance.
She lifted her chin another notch. “Your question?”
“Do you often leave rum?”
She answered with a curt nod. “If you’re planning on taking it, I’d counsel against it. It’s a gift and Marie doesn’t take kindly to those who steal from her. She might send Le Grand Zombi after you.” Her soft pink lips curled as if she relished the thought.
She stepped to the right and he matched it, again blocking her path. “Le Grand Zombi?”
The woman raised her nose a good inch in the air. “Marie’s familiar, a snake. Finding an enormous black python in your bed might wipe that smirk clean off your face.”
She shouldn’t have mentioned his bed. It was far too easy to imagine her in it. He shook his head, erasing the vision. He had no business thinking about ladies in his bed, especially not this lady, who had somehow—effortlessly—bested him in a conversation.
She took another small step and tripped on a piece of loose gravel. He reached out, caught her hand, steadied her. She stiffened beneath his touch and snatched her hand away as if scalded.
He felt it, too. A frisson. Magic. What other word was there for the feeling of soaring when his feet remained firmly on the ground?
She was too damn tempting. She shouldn’t be in a graveyard by herself. Hell, she shouldn’t go anywhere without a chaperone. What if she stumbled across a man unable to resist temptation? Would the voodoo queen help her then? “It’s dangerous for you to be here.”
The stone angels decorating the tombs looked softer than her face. “Is that a threat?” She reached into her beaded purse. For what? Smelling salts?
“No.” He raised his hands, pretended a retreat. He was behaving like a cretin. He wanted to charm her, not frighten her near to death. Although…she didn’t look frightened. Her shoulders were straight, her chin was high, and the corner of her luscious upper lip lifted in a tiny, delectable sneer. No. Whatever she clutched in her purse, it wasn’t smelling salts. More likely, she held a gun. The lady in front of him resembled Boadicea, not a shrinking violet.
“Good thing, too,” she muttered. “You’re the one in danger here.”
“Is that a threat?” He suspected the laughter bubbling in his voice might annoy her.
He was right. Boadicea scowled, squared her shoulders, and drew her brows together. “You have no call to laugh at me. You’re a Yankee. You’re not under Marie’s protection. And the duppies will be out soon.” Her small hand waved a graceful arc at the darkening sky.
“Duppies?” he asked.
She tossed her head and a stray lock of hair brushed her cheek. It looked like spun silk against her skin. He shoved his hands in his pockets to keep from touching the golden strands and offending her further.
“Duppies,” she said. “Malevolent ghosts. Evil spirits. If you want a lesson in voodoo, I suggest you head on over to Tremé and ask for one.”
“A neighborhood, Back of Town.” The set of her chin spoke volumes. It told him she’d measured his mental acuity and found its level similar to the river rocks beneath their feet.
He grinned. He couldn’t help it. Her cheeks were pink. Her curls bounced. Her eyes snapped in the twilight. She was beyond tantalizing. If he needed a lesson, in anything, he’d just as soon she taught him. “I’d rather ask you.”
She retreated another step, glanced around the ghost-filled cemetery, shuddered. “Voodoo isn’t a game made up to titillate Yankees.” Around them shadows gave way to darkness. “It’s real. And it’s not safe here at night. For anyone. I have to go.”
“I’ve frightened you.”
That perfect chin rose to a disparaging tilt. “You overestimate your powers, sir. Good-bye.” She spun on her heel and hurried toward the exit. The stiff cotton of her skirts crackled with each deliberate step. She paused at the end of the row of tombs. Would she look back at him? She didn’t. Instead, she straightened her shoulders and marched away, apparently immune to his charms.
Zeke watched her go. The lady who’d just left him was worthy of a dogged pursuit. He was tempted to do just that. He’d chase her down the sidewalk that locals called a banquette. Her cheeks would pinken with anger at his presumption, but he’d charm her with a smile then take her to dinner at Antoine’s or Commander’s Palace. He’d discover what lay behind the magic of her touch. He moved along the path in the direction she had taken, but abruptly stopped. There was no time to chase after a lady.
Zeke scowled. To hell with waiting in a sultry cemetery. To hell with William for sending him here. And, most of all, to hell with the lovely, mysterious lady he couldn’t have.

My Thoughts
A Haunting Desire is a hard story not to like.  As time goes on however, it becomes more evident that there are more than a few "faux pas" in play here, which are working against an otherwise very well crafted tale.

On The Plus Side

Storyville and its nuances are very well depicted here.  One can envision the the opulence of the great 'bawdy houses," see the smiles of the coquettish girls, and smell the Parisian perfume of the stately madams.  This is a book that has managed to capture not only a place, but a moment in time with a stunningly vivid accuracy.

The entire cast of characters in this drama are people within their own right.  No matter how small the role, each player adds his or her own brushstroke to the richness of the tableau being presented.
This is particularly true of leading lady, Trula Boudreaux.  Whether she is watching over "her girls" or reading Zeke the riot act for bleeding on her rug.  She is a joy to watch.

The Minuses

Zeke Barns is a detective an the trail of a murderer.  At least that's what he keeps telling everybody.  For most of the book however, the only person that he seems to really be interested in keeping track of is Trula.  So much so, in fact, that he often proves quite the nuisance.

The pacing of this story is very slow as it applies to the mystery and murder side of things.  Choosing to focus more on the back and forth of Trula and Zeke's hot/cold romance than any real sleuthing.  This would not be such an issue if the mystery was not a main component of this book.  If it were simply a Historical Romance; the expectation of an engaging investigation and faster overall plot pace, would not be an issue.

In short...
This is a book for people who like vibrant characters, romance, and the quirk, charm, and crazy of old New Orleans.  This is a book that can be easily read in one sitting, and it is also a standalone.

About Julie
Julie MulhernJulie Mulhern is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean—and she’s got an active imagination. Truth is—she’s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions. She is a 2014 Golden Heart® Finalist. The Deep End is her first mystery and is the winner of The Sheila Award

Website  / Twitter / Goodreads / Entangled / Facebook 


BookSparks Presents: "A Different Kind Of Same" Author Interview and Review

A Different Kind of Same: A Memoir Title:  A Different Kind Of Same
Author: Kelley Clink
Format:  Print
Length:  205 pages
Publisher:  SheWrites Press
 Buy The Book:  Amazon
Rating:  5 Stars

Two weeks before his college graduation, Kelley Clink’s younger brother Matt hanged himself. Though he’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager and had attempted suicide once before, the news came as a shock—and it sent Kelley into a spiral of guilt and grief.

After Matt’s death, a chasm opened between the brother Kelley had known and the brother she’d buried. She kept telling herself she couldn’t understand why he’d done it—but the truth was, she could. Several years before he’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she’d been diagnosed with depression. Several years before he first attempted suicide by overdose, she had attempted suicide by overdose. She’d blazed the trail he’d followed. If he couldn’t make it, what hope was there for her?

A Different Kind of Same traces Kelley’s journey through grief, her investigation into the role her own depression played in her brother’s death, and, ultimately, her path toward acceptance, forgiveness, resilience, and love.

My Thoughts
Meet the Schwartz...
From all outward appearances, they seem the epitome of nuclear familial bliss.  Complete with mom, dad, two kids, never a raised voice, never a harsh word.
In A Different Kind Of Same, authoress Kelley Clink, tells the true story of a different kind of nuclear family, her family.  A family facing the real-life detonation of two silent, but very destructive bombs.  Depression and Bipolar Disorder.
Kelley is the first to be affected, showing signs of, and receiving her first treatment for depression in her teens.  It is her younger brother Matt however, and his death just two weeks shy of graduation in 2004, after years of battling Bipolar Disorder, that rocks both Kelley and her family to its core.  Testing the limits of her sanity, and sending her on a quest to understand, cope, and come to terms with both her and her brother's diagnoses, and what they mean for her life.

Often heartbreakingly emotional, the all access pass that readers are given offers never before seen glimpses of the true nature of mental illness.  Her honest narrative sheds a glaring light of truth on topics such as:  warning signs, pro and cons of medications, and the cyclical onsets and progressions of both depression and bipolar issues.
This story of love, loss, mental illness, the fight for recovery, and the journey to understanding, is one that will give hope to loved ones, and give voice to those who may suffer from these issues while wrapped in the shroud of misunderstanding and silence.

 In Her Own Words:  An Interview With Kelley Clink

WTF:  If there was one thing that your present self could go back and tell you at the lowest point in your past, what would that be? 

Kelley:  I would hug her, take her face in my hands, and tell her “Don’t give up. So much beauty is going to come from this. You won’t even believe it.”
WTF:  Were there any personal truths not mentioned in the book, that the writing process helped you to face?
Kelley:  One of the biggest realizations I had during the writing process was that my self worth wasn’t based on my work. I think not being able to separate yourself from your story is particularly tough for memoirists. When I first started writing—actually, for probably the first 6 years that I was writing—I felt like I was my manuscript. When it sucked, I sucked. If it failed, I would be a failure. This, not surprisingly, made me miserable. A serious illness and several years of infertility shifted my perspective, and I was able to see that I had value regardless of what happened with my writing.
WTF:  What advice do you have for loved ones or friends of people suffering from depression or bipolar disorder?

Kelley:  This is a great question, and a tough one to answer as every situation is different. But I do think there are a few pieces of advice that apply to most situations.

1. Encourage your loved one to seek and maintain treatment.

2. Stay informed. Ask your loved one how she’s feeling and what’s been going on. Do some research on her diagnosis and treatment.

3. Validate her experience. It may be tempting to step in and “fix” everything, because, of course, you want your loved one to be well. But she has a right to be exactly where she is, even if it’s a scary and uncomfortable place. One of the most powerful things you can do for her is let her know that there is nothing wrong or bad about what she is going through, and that your love for her doesn’t change based on what she is feeling. 

4. You know how on airplanes they tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping someone else? This goes for pretty much everything in life. Set whatever boundaries you need to set. Get your own therapist, if you need to. Join a support group. Just make sure you are taking care of yourself before you try to take care of anyone else.

WTF:  What has been the most profound feedback that you have received from readers?

Kelley: The staggering amount of people who have said “me too.” There are so many people out there who have lost someone, or love someone who is suffering, or are suffering themselves. I felt so alone when I was writing this book. I don’t feel alone anymore.

WTF:  Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers?
Kelley:  Thank you. Like from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  
About Kelley     
Kelley ClinkKelley Clink is a full-time writer and an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, including Gettysburg Review, Colorado Review, Shambhala Sun, Woman's Day, and The Huffington Post. She is the winner of the 2014 Beacon Street Prize in Nonfiction and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives near Chicago with her husband and son.

Find Her:  Web / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter

"Even The Score" Is A Win/Win For Heart-stoppingly Sexy Romance

Even The ScoreTitle:  Even The Score
(Tall Dark And Texan #1)
Author:  Kate Meader
Format:  ERC
Length:  253 pages
Publisher:  Entangled/Brazen
Rating:  5 Stars

A sexy category romance from Entangled's Brazen imprint...

He'll make her an offer she can't refuse...

Actress Tess McKenzie is performing in the Tenth Circle of Showbiz Hell-dinner theater. All she really wants is to start a theater of her own. Then Tess receives an offer she can't refuse. She'll get her funding...if she pretends to be the fiancée to her nemesis, Texan property tycoon Hunter Dade. If she's going to pull this off, she'll need all the luck she can get. Break a leg, indeed.

On the verge of a big business deal, Hunter needs to hire a fiancée. He hasn't quite forgiven Tess for ruining his wedding, but when their chemistry goes from combative to straight-up lust, the "no sex" clause in their mutually beneficial arrangement is tested. Which is a serious problem, because if Tess isn't careful, she'll go from breaking a leg to breaking her heart...  Goodreads

My Thoughts
Acting my ass! There is no way that an attraction as intense as the one searing the pages of Kate Meader's Even The Score can be anything less than soul-shatteringly, heart-stoppingly,  panty-soakingly, authentic.
 This blue collar Texan, and his blue blooded "lady of the stage" may begin their "fiancee farce" under terms that are anything but 100%...shall we say...above the belt. But it soon becomes very clear that Tess McKenzie and Hunter Dade share a passion that is REAL HOT!
Not one to leave even the smallest detail unaddressed, authoress Meader hits readers with a very intense and interconnected back story involving both Hunter and Tess.  As well as very personal and heart-wrenching  family dramas, designed to further endear the couple to each other and to their readers.

Though the scenes transition seamlessly, and dialog flows as easily as water from a fresh mountain spring.  The ever present desire that these two share is what truly makes this novel work.
Nothing about this novel reads over done or forced, and the pacing is perfect for reading in one sitting.

Even The Score is the first novel in the Tall Dark, and Texan series, and this reader can wait to read more!
I love this book!

About Kate
Kate Meader

What's next for Kate?
Book 1 of the Hot in Chicago series, FLIRTING WITH FIRE (Luke and Kinsey) is now available. Look for a novella, MELTING POINT (Gage and Brady), in August 2015, followed by Book 2, PLAYING WITH FIRE (Eli and Alex), in September. Her Tall, Dark, and Texan series from Entangled's Brazen line starts in July with EVEN THE SCORE.
Sign up for her very infrequent newsletter to get updates on sales, giveaways, and new releases.

Kate writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines who can match their men quip for quip. Her latest series, Hot in Chicago, features firefighting foster siblings. With tattoos.

Order of the Hot in Chicago series about sexy firefighters:
0.5 REKINDLE THE FLAME (Beck and Darcy), in the BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE anthology
1. FLIRTING WITH FIRE (Luke and Kinsey)
1.5 MELTING POINT (Gage and Brady) - coming August 2015
2. PLAYING WITH FIRE (Eli and Alex) - coming September 2015

Order of the Hot in the Kitchen series about sexy chefs:
1. FEEL THE HEAT (Jack and Lili)
2. ALL FIRED UP (Shane and Cara)
3. HOT AND BOTHERED (Tad and Jules)
... however each book can also be read as a standalone novel or novella.

For excerpts, news, and giveaways, visit:


A Little Something For Those Who Like Their Romance "Over The Top"

Over the Top (Maverick Montana, #4)Title:  Over The Top
(Maverick Montana #4)
Author:  Rebecca Zanetti
Format:  ERC
Length:  174 pages
Publisher:  Entangled/Brazen
Rating:  4 Stars
Dawn Freeze had a huge crush on Hawk Rain for years, and the entire town knows it. It's understandable―the man is total hotness. That tall, lean body. Intense dark eyes. And always one foot out the door. Now he's on leave for exactly one week. And this time, he's made it crystal clear that he only wants one thing. Her.

Hawk's been fighting his attraction to Dawn for as long as he can remember. She's his best friend's little sister, and that means hands-off. Except now she's all grown up, and her sweet sexiness is exactly what he craves. But just as Hawk allows himself one mind-blowingly intense night with Dawn, he learns that everyone he loves is in danger. Especially her.

And the only way to protect Dawn is to push her away...  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
It is a well-known fact that keeping secret keeping is an almost impossible in endeavor in the close knit community of Mineral Springs, Montana.  Especially when said secrets concern the love lives of town darling, Dawn Freeze, and the darkly rugged Hawk Rain.

When Hawk returns to town looking to rest and recover from the riggers of tracking dangerous criminals as part of an elite private security organization; he finds himself powerless to resist the magnetic pull of Dawn's untamed spirit and dancing blue eyes.
Meanwhile, try as she might.  Dawn just can't seem to find the strength in mind or body to say no to her "take no prisoners and make no promises" gentleman soldier.

Just as Hawk  is ready to concede the battle for his heart to the lovely Dawn, duty calls, and he must fight a battle of a different sort, as an escaped drug runner with nothing to lose closes in on Mineral Lake, and everything that Hawk has sworn to protect.

There is so much to love about this read!  Hawk and Dawn are a perfect match!  He may be Rambo, but she is every inch Calamity Jane.  Because it is clear from the story's beginning, that these two share a long and rather involved history; it is very nice to find that they don't waste time with stalling and trivial 'what ifs' before succumbing to their passions.

The fact that they even try to keep things a secret from the myriad of friends and relations that they both share, proves both comical and heart-warming.  Especially in the case of resident "Golden Girls" and matchmakers extraordinaire, Mrs Hudson and Mrs. Poppins.  Who are so invested in seeing the two together that they give   Dawn a pillow with the following "rules" lovingly stitched on its front.

How to Catch a Man
1. Make your man the only man around.
2. Don’t give the cow away (AKA NO SEX).
3. The way to his heart really is through his stomach.
4. Let your man rescue you.
5. Give him the illusion of control so you can chase him until he catches you.
There is so much of  this good-natured interference going on by so many different parties, that it causes to loose sight of Hawk's dangerous mission.  (Ahem...)

Bringing us to the only down side in an otherwise perfectly delectable read.
The action...or should I say lack of it.
There is lot of posturing and tons of allusion to what might happen, but things fall a bit flat on the Rambo front.
What this is...
Ruggedly romantic
Emotionally appealingly
Supremely sexy
Fantastically funny
Wonderfully written
Proudly multicultural
What this is not...
Explosively action packed
In short.  This is a setting filled to the brim with people and stories made to be revisited.  The fact that this novel is #4 in the Maverick Montana companion series means that you get to do just that.

About Rebecca
Rebecca Zanetti New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Rebecca Zanetti has worked as an art curator, Senate aide, lawyer, college professor, and a hearing examiner - only to culminate it all in stories about Alpha males and the women who claim them. She writes dark paranormals, romantic suspense, and sexy contemporary romances.


Escape Into The Fairytale of "The Prince's Runaway Lover"

The Prince's Runaway Lover Title:  The Prince's Runaway Lover
(The Men Of The Zodiac #7)
Author:  Robin Covington
Format:  ERC
Length:  170 pages
Publisher:  Entangled/Impulse
Rating:  3 Stars

Crown Prince Nicholas Lytton was never supposed to be ruler of Callanos. He was the “spare to the heir,” pursuing a decadent life of the rich and royal—extreme sports, physical pleasures, and glorious irresponsibility. Until his brother died. Now Nick is to be coronated king, and no one believes he's ready.

The best way to secure his crown is to do the unthinkable...find a queen.

While Isabel Reynolds works in the palace gardens, she has no desire to draw the attention of the way-too-flirty, would-be king. For she's not the woman everyone thinks she is. Even if she wanted—or was tempted by— the promise of love, it would only end in disaster. Because while Isabel may be able to catch a king, her secrets would only destroy him...  -Goodeads

 My Thoughts
This is a book that could very easily be dismissed as formulaic if not read all the way through.
Prince Nicolas at first glance, is a very convincing playboy.
It is quite the welcome change, when his restless energy is harnessed for good and he stands up to his cabinet in later chapters.
The more that one comes to know the honest, forthright,  and down-to-earth man behind the title.   The more one longs to see him make his version of "happily ever after" a reality.

Isabelle's role in the story gives it the realism that it needs.  The tragedy of her past,  and the threat that it poses to her future, gives this read the emotional depth needed to draw readers toward the idea of Nicolas an Isabelle as an "against all odds couple".

The romance that these two share is hot, passionate, and raw. This works so well because readers spend most of the read unsure that something lasting is even possible for these two.
It is in fact, the intensity of their relationship which helps this story find it's feet.
The only negative found here, lies in the fact that there is no other prospect for Nicolas.  This singularity of focus makes his fall for Isabelle somewhat predictable.

This is a very sweet, steamy, and fast moving Cinderella-story.  While it is true that it is plagued with a few pitfalls plot-wise.  It is still a nice romantic escape.

About Robin:
Robin CovingtonRobin Covington loves to explore the theme of fooling around and falling in love in her bestselling books. A Night of Southern Comfort, her debut novel was nominated for the RT Book Reviewers Choice Awards for Small Press and was touted by RT Book Reviews as bringing a "fresh, modern feel to the genre while still sticking to the things that get our adrenaline pumping -- sex and danger"

When she's not writing sexy, sizzling romance she's collecting tasty man candy, indulging in a little comic book geek love, and stalking Dean Winchester. You can find Robin at her website (, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Don't send chocolate . . . send eye candy!

Robin lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband, brilliant children (they get it from her, of course!) and her beloved furbabies.

Forbidden Fruit Tastes All The Sweeter In "Stepbrother, Mine 1"

Stepbrother, Mine #1 Title:  Stepbrother, Mine
(Stepbrother, Mine #1)
Author:  Opal Carew
Format:  ERC
Length:  TBD
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Rating:  5 Stars
From New York Times bestselling author Opal Carew comes an erotic new serial about the lengths to which one woman will go to live the life of her dreams.

Dana's always had a clear vision of what she wanted out of life. But when her father dies during her final year of college, Dana's whole world threatens to topple down. In desperate need of money, she comes up with an idea. It's scandalous. It's HOT. And it's got everybody talking. . Is Dana really going to auction off her own virginity? And at what cost?  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
When hard times call for extreme measures, and an unexpected falling out with her flighty mother threatens Dana's pursuit of a Masters of French Literature degree.  She makes the fateful decision to sell a most precious commodity to the highest bidder.  
Her virginity...
Unbeknownst to Dana, sometimes fate and money walk hand in hand...
and when the man who wins her body, just happens to be the one who won her teenaged heart years earlier.  She learns that sometimes...just sometimes...even one's deepest, darkest fantasies can come true.
Even when the star of those fantasies is your stepbrother.

Told in dual points of view, Step brother,  Mine #1 manages to give readers a complete story
As a result, we are privy to information about leading man Mason, which serves to up the erotic stakes for both readers and his leading lady.
Turning this story from a simple blend of older millionaire / ingenue and forbidden fruit fantasy.  To a true erotica lover's trifecta with the addition of his sub/dom fetishism. 

Making things even better story-wise, is the very emotionally charged back story that Dana and Mason share.  Woven into their present story, and also told from both points of view. This is where we get the who's, when's, and why's that helped to shape these two into the people that they have now become.  This is also when readers become privy to some pretty explosive family secrets. 

The surprising completeness of this first novella as a story, only serves to heighten its erotic aspects.  Because readers are fully aware of what is at stake for both Mason and Dana; we are fully able to invest in their coming together.
And come together they do...
Dana proves that she is a young women who knows both what she wants and exactly  how to get it!  

This is an exceptional example of what the erotic serial is meant to be, and one that this reviewer is proud to highly recommend.

About Opal
Opal Carew Opal Carew is the author of over a dozen romance stories in which she makes offerings of hope, success, and love to her readers. Opal loves crystals, dragons, feathers, cats, pink hair, the occult, Manga artwork, and all that glitters. She earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo, and spent 15 years as a software analyst before turning to her passions as a writer. Opal lives with her husband and two teen-aged sons in Ontario, Canada.

Find Contemporary Romance Heaven In "Arrow's Hell"

Arrow's Hell (Wind Dragons MC, #2)
Title:  Arrow's Hell
(Wind Dragon's MC #2)
Author:  Chantal Fernando
Format:  ERC
Length:  352 pages
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Rating:  4 Stars
Being the younger sister of a Wind Dragons MC member isn’t as great as you’d think it would be.

I can’t escape the details of my brother’s exploits.
No one tells me anything.
Men who know who I am tend to stay away from me.

And worst of all:
The members of the MC are off-limits.

When Arrow catches my eye, I make it my mission to make him happy again.

When I fall head over heels in love with him, I just hope he will be there to catch me.
And that my brother doesn’t kill him.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
It has been 5 years since Mary's death.
Arrow has not forgiven himself,  and refuses to take  a lover.
Until Ph.D student and sister to fellow Wind Dragon member Adam /Rake, Ana, finds her way into his sights.

To fully enjoy this read, it is imperative that you first read Dragon's Lair; the first offering in the Wind Dragon MC series.
The reason being that occurrences in that first book directly effect the story found here. 
Arrow's Hell is a book built on strong emotion and the connectedness of love and family.  This is best exemplified by the relationship between leading lady, Anna, and her brother,  Rake/Adam.  With these two there is a protective streak, as well as a respect that is a joy to watch
Anna as a character, reads a lot like Faye in the first book.
So there may be a bit of dejavu when reading her.

The true star of the show by far however, has to be Arrow. Or rather his transformation due to falling in love.
Because of the depth of the trauma that he suffered in book 1; the fact that he finds the kind of love that he finds with Anna is so much sweeter.
The depth of emotion that readers get to experience as Arrow takes the steps he needs to in order to face and deal with his demons, makes him the perfect wounded bad-boy.

Other great connections worth mentioning.
The friendship between Tracker and Anna.  This too was a bit of a mirror of the friendship between Faye and Arrow in book 1, but it did provide quite a few of the lighter moments in the story..
Lastly.  There is the very surprising connection between Anna and Talon from rival Wild Men MC.
Arrow's Hell is the book for the person who wants their romance with loads of emotion and passion, but rough around the edges.
This is a very fast paced, one-sitting read, made to be devoured,  savored, and enjoyed. 

About Chantal
Chantal Fernando New York Times, Amazon & USA Today Bestselling Author Chantal Fernando is twenty seven years old and lives in Western Australia.
Lover of all things romance, Chantal is the author of the best selling books Dragon's Lair, Maybe This Time and many more.
When not reading, writing or daydreaming she can be found enjoying life with her three sons and family.
Chantal loves to hear from readers and can be found here:


FB author page:

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"Swiched" Leaves A Lot Of Story To Be Desired

Switched (Trylle, #1)Title:  Switched
(Trylle #1)
Author:  Amanda Hocking
Format:  Print
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin
Rating:  2 Stars

When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might've been telling the truth. With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - and it's one she's not sure if she wants to be a part of.

Includes a bonus story "The Vittra Attacks"  -Goodreads

My Thoughts 
This is not a bad book. It just needs order to be a great book.
Wendy just seems to float from life with her human family to life with the Trylle.

Though there is always a great deal of emotional interaction going on around her and directed toward her. The only true emotion that readers experience as organically Wendy, is her romantic connection with Finn.
It is in fact, the Finn connection that acts as the saving grace for most of the read.
Her life with the Trylle is supposed to be where both readers and leading lady Wendy, get answers about her past, her place in her new life, and the possibilities for her future.

While we do get an abbreviated, and very lackluster look at the truth of her past. It is the treatment of her new present circumstance, that leaves much to be desired.

While there us much talk of her new elevated role in life. There is not much done to prepare her for her role. Unless you count sticking a person in a fancy dress and a quick lesson in waltzing as
Princess How-To 101.

What is missing most of all however, is the fantasy. This story reads more like Contemporary YA with fantasy elements, than a true fantasy.
Because this is a book one, allowances will be made for growth and polishing in later books. For now however, this series has a long road ahead before coming anywhere near the greatness to which it aspires.

About Amanda
Amanda HockingAmanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with Batman and Jim Henson. In between watching cooking shows, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and drinking too much Red Bull Zero, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Her New York Times best-selling series the Trylle Trilogy has been optioned for films. She has published fifteen novels, including the Hollows and the Watersong series. Frostfire and Ice Kissed - the first two books in her newest trilogy, The Kanin Chronicles - are out now, and the final book Crystal Kingdom will be out August 4, 2015.

For more info about her and her books, here are some other places to check out and ways to contact her:

"Torn" Manages To Mend Many Holes In Book 1

Torn (Trylle, #2) Title:  Torn
(Trylle #2)
Author:  Amanda Hocking
Format:  Print
Length:  324 pages
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin
Rating:  4 Stars
When Wendy Everly first discovers the truth about herself—that she’s a changeling switched at birth—she knows her life will never be the same. Now she’s about to learn that there’s more to the story...

She shares a closer connection to her Vittra rivals than she ever imagined—and they’ll stop at nothing to lure her to their side. With the threat of war looming, her only hope of saving the Trylle is to master her magical powers—and marry an equally powerful royal. But that means walking away from Finn, her handsome bodyguard who’s strictly off limits... and Loki, a Vittra prince with whom she shares a growing attraction.

Torn between her heart and her people, between love and duty, Wendy must decide her fate. If she makes the wrong choice, she could lose everything, and everybody, she’s ever wanted... in both worlds.

As a special gift to readers, this book contains a new, never-before-published bonus story, “One Day, Three Ways,” set in the magical world of the Trylle.  -Goodreads
 My Thoughts

This is a very big improvement over the first book. Wendy's emotional appeal increases so much with the introduction of her brother (human) Matt into the world of the Trylle early in the book.

The plot also expands considerably with the addition of the Vittra kingdom. Things really get good
when secrets concerning Wendy, and her connection to them are simply jaw dropping. The Vittra kingdom is also responsible for a great deal of the political intrigue that goes on this time around. As well as the addition of a very interesting leading man, by the name of Lokie.

Things between Wendy and Finn are more maddening than ever with the "I love you, but I can't have you" story line.

There is also a great deal more personal interaction between Wendy and all of the characters in her immediate circle. This is a very welcome development,as it both helps to move the story along, and shows that she is now becoming more at ease with her circumstances.

This is also a much more magical read. There is a great deal more use of powers by all involved. Most impressively by Wendy and supporting character turned hero, Tove.

This is a book that lives and breathes drama, tension, and emotionality. There are so many new connections, revelations, and WTF moments to be had, that in the interest of not being completely spoilery; I will end this review here.
About Amanda
Amanda HockingAmanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with Batman and Jim Henson. In between watching cooking shows, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and drinking too much Red Bull Zero, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Her New York Times best-selling series the Trylle Trilogy has been optioned for films. She has published fifteen novels, including the Hollows and the Watersong series. Frostfire and Ice Kissed - the first two books in her newest trilogy, The Kanin Chronicles - are out now, and the final book Crystal Kingdom will be out August 4, 2015.

For more info about her and her books, here are some other places to check out and ways to contact her:

"Bull Mountian" Is A Family Drama Like No Other

23398919 Title:  Bull Mountian
Author:  Bian Panowich
Format:  ERC
Length:  304 pages
Publisher:  Putnum Adult
Rating:  5 Stars

“Brian Panowich stamps words on the page as if they’ve been blasted from the barrel of a shotgun, and as with a shotgun blast, no one is safe from the scattered fragments of history that impale the people of Bull Mountain.”—Wiley Cash, New York Times-bestselling author of This Dark Road to MercyFrom a remarkable new voice in Southern fiction, a multigenerational saga of crime, family, and vengeance.

Clayton Burroughs comes from a long line of outlaws.  For generations, the Burroughs clan has made its home on Bull Mountain in North Georgia, running shine, pot, and meth over six state lines, virtually untouched by the rule of law. To distance himself from his family’s criminal empire, Clayton took the job of sheriff in a neighboring community to keep what peace he can.  But when a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms shows up at Clayton’s office with a plan to shut down the mountain, his hidden agenda will pit brother against brother, test loyalties, and could lead Clayton down a path to self-destruction.  

In a sweeping narrative spanning decades and told from alternating points of view, the novel brilliantly evokes the atmosphere of the mountain and its inhabitants: forbidding, loyal, gritty, and ruthless. A story of family—the lengths men will go to protect it, honor it, or in some cases destroy it—Bull Mountain is an incredibly assured debut that heralds a major new talent in fiction.

 My Thoughts
Bull Mountain is the story of three generations of the Burroughs family, and their legacy of betrayal, secrets, drugs, and murder.
All in the name of their ties to family land high atop Bull Mountain, Georgia.

Spanning the years 1949-2015, this decidedly male drama tells a story of brother versus brother that rivals that of Caine and Able.  Beginning with the brutal murder of Riley, at the hands of his brother Cooper, a man bent on gaining sole control over the family land, and with it the power to run the family moonshine enterprise.  Thus shaping the family's future as he, and later his sons, see fit.

With murder as an opening volley, author, Brian Panowich, ups the dramatic ante even further.
As the next chapter, a considerable jump forward on the timeline, and a "light speed" generational progression lands readers in the year 2015; takes them from Bull Mountain to Waymore County, Georgia, and introduces them to family failure, Sheriff Clayton Burroughs,
The only family member not involved in the murder, intimidation, and mayhem of what has become a very lucrative drug operation.

With each chapter, readers are ushered further into the Burroughs' family. As such, a picture is painted of twisted family loyalties, pain, greed, and misdeeds; all tied, through time, crime, and Bull Mountain.

A very intriguing addition to this ragtag cast of outlaws comes in the form of ATF agent, Simon Holly.  He sticks out plot-wise, like a sore thumb, but the mind boggling truth of his story is well worth the suspense.  It is his part in the story that ushers in a dramatic climax that is not to be missed.

This is a stunning read.  All aspects of it are equally well executed.  What is truly astounding however, is the flawless continuity of characters, setting, and plot over such a vast period of time.  It is written with such emotional depth, descriptive flair, and raw realism that it will appeal to both male and female readers.
This book is a joy to read, and made to be read again.

Brian PanowichBrian is the author of Bull Mountain, a southern crime saga coming 7/7/15 from Putnam Books. He has several stories available in print and online collections. Two of his stories, "If I Ever Get Off This Mountain" and "Coming Down The Mountain", were nominated for a Spinetingler award in 2013. He is currently a firefighter in East Georgia, living with his wife and four children. Bull Mountain is his first novel.

St. Martin's Press Presents Miss Match + Giveaway

Miss Match Title:  Miss Match
Author(s) Laurelin Paige, Kayti  McGee, (writing as)
Laurelin McGee
Format:  ERC
Length: 336 pages
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press Paperbacks
Rating: 5 Stars

Buy The Book:  B&N / Amazon / Kobo / Indiebound

Welcome to the sexy, crazy, wildly unpredictable world of modern matchmaking, where fixing up strangers is part of the job—but falling in love is an occupational hazard…

He's The Perfect Catch.

Blake Donovan is tall, handsome, rich, and successful—so why would a guy like him need a matchmaker? Andrea Dawson has no idea, but a job is a job. After being blackballed from a career in marketing, Andrea agreed to use her unique profiling skills to play matchmaker out of pure desperation. But when she meets her highly eligible—and particular—first client face to face, she wonders what she’s gotten herself into…

Is She His Perfect Match?

Blake knows exactly the kind of woman he’s looking for—and it’s the total opposite of Andrea. Though smart and undeniably sexy, she is simply too headstrong for a man who’s used to being in charge. Still, Blake’s blood pressure rises whenever she’s near him. How can he explain the smoldering attraction that sizzles between them? And how can Andrea deny she’s feeling it, too? Maybe, just maybe, they’ve finally met their match…  -Goodreads

 My Thoughts
In the relatively short time that it has been my pleasure to review for St. Martin's Press, I have found it to be a publisher that prides itself on publishing books that offer readers something beyond the norm.  It is my very great pleasure to state that Miss Match by Lauerlin McGee is no exception to this unwavering standard of literary excellence.

Andrea "sounds like Princess Leia" Dawson is a smart, funny, very real, and extremely relatable  heroine.  Who never fails to impress, fluster, and beguile her handsome, but painfully regimented boss, one Blake Donovan.
In most cases, one would think these traits would make her the perfect employee.  (Barring the potential for degeneration of the situation into a lesson on "How To Get Sued For Sexual Harassment 101.")  
But when said flustered and beguiled boss has hired said flustering and beguiling employee to find him a wife.
Well...things have a way of getting very interesting, and "laugh out loud" funny!

Laughter and snark play a huge part in bonding the characters to each other and to their audience.
With Blake never managing to say enough, and Andrea always managing to say the first thing that pops into her head.  You can bet that, romantic interludes aside, there is never a dull moment to be had.

Afraid of insta-love?
There is nothing to worry about here.  While there is enough attraction between these two to realign Earth's gravitational pull, the love doesn't come into play for quite some time.  That time being well past the moment at which  you, the reader, both fall in love with them as a couple and start to mentally name their offspring. 

Though the romance between these two is HAWT...
The vast majority of the romancing takes place between Blake and Andrea's ears, and when they are both in full possession of their clothes. (Except for the incident involving Andrea's Prada pumps!)  I must say, in her defense however, that she was provoked.

This is a novel built to be enjoyed in one sitting and reread.  I would say shared with friends, but this is a read that you are going to want to hold on to.
(So, have that trusty buy link ready. Gift certificates work too!)

The plot is very tight and the supporting cast is kept very small, allowing for no surprise author forays into meander-land.
So this is also the perfect read for busy readers or those with the attention span of a squirrel on Starbucks.

In short, if you are looking for a book that will make laugh, gasp, and fall in love with falling in love.  This is the book for you.
If you want a book that will make you embrace your inner geek, want to marathon Downtown Abby, and leave you panting at the thought of pinball. Right here!
If you want a book that makes you dance around the room while singing Can't Fight This Feeling by REO your cats stare you down and question their life choices.  Here you go!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is for the US and Canada only.
All entrants must submit a valid email address so that contact can be
made in the event of a win.
Prizes are being sent directly from St. Martin's Press to said winner.

"The Replaced" Is Sure To Please With Out Of This World Action

21522102 Title:  The Replaced
(The Taking # 2)
Author Kimberly Derting
Format:  ERC
Length:  368 pages
Publisher:  HarperTEEN
Rating:  4 Stars

Romantic and action-packed, The Replaced is the gripping second installment in the Taking trilogy.

Kyra hasn't been the same since she returned from her mysterious five-year disappearance. Now, on the run from the NSA, Kyra is forced to hide out with others who, like her, have been Returned. Yet she is determined to find Tyler, the boy she loves who was also abducted—all because of her. When her group intercepts a message that Tyler might still be alive but is in the hands of a shadowy government organization that experiments on the Returned, Kyra knows it's a risk to go after him. What if it's a trap? And worse, what if the returned Tyler isn't the same boy she lost?

Perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and the Body Finder series, The Replaced is both chilling and explosive, with creepy, otherworldly elements and twisty, psychological thrills that will have you questioning what exactly it means to be human.

My Thoughts
The second book in The Taking series is quite the departure from the first. Where the first book centered around Kyra's return, and her romance with Tyler, with the NSA and abduction plot-line inching ever nearer as the end of the book neared.

With book 2 things both speed up considerably, and go from romantic to action packed the whole way through.
That is not to say that there is not finally some surprising pairing up of sorts, between the hunky Simon and lady K. While she is still on the hunt for Tyler no less.

But said hunt is quickly and mercifully put on the back burner, as revelations about Kyra, and exactly why it is that she is so important to NSA officials, and the like, comes to light.

And there is more running.

Then there is the addition of cast members Willow, Natty, Thom, and Jett.
This is where things start to get more than a little confusing. As secrets, plots, and hidden agendas start to come to light.

And more running.

There is another stop and the addition of cast member Griffin. (A girl.) And still the uncovering of still more secrets. These concerning past relationships within the group, and secrets involving Agent Truman.

And yet, more running!

There is so much changing of scene and action, that this is a book that one really must pay attention to when reading it. The fact that so much of it has to do with plans, schematics, and the more technical side of the predicament that those involved share, can seem like a bit of an info dump at times. This is however, tech with a purpose, and as the story progresses it fits very well into place.

With all the action, you would think that things would be left for resolution until book 3.

Not so.

There is both a very violent, and a very sweet end for two persistent plot lines within this read.
That is not to say that ALL of the loose ends meet with their respective bows just yet.
There is a very surprising cliff here. With a very surprising hanger.

 About Kimberly
Kimberly DertingKimberly is the author of the BODY FINDER series (HarperCollins), THE PLEDGE trilogy (Simon & Schuster), and THE TAKING trilogy (HarperTeen). She lives in the Pacific Northwest, the ideal place to write anything dark or creepy...a gloomy day can set the perfect mood. She lives with her husband and their three beautiful (and often mouthy) children who provide an endless source of inspiration.