Monthly Archives: December, 2012

Horngate Witches – Diana Pharaoh Francis – Must Read Series!

I haven’t done a lot of series reviews but I am going to in this case…  I have to say I loved this series and really hope that we get to see more stories set in this world as I am addicted.

 

A few months ago I saw a tweet from an author asking if anyone wanted to try her series out and if so to let her know as she would put us in touch with her publicist.  I proceeded to wander out to the web and find out more about the series before I responded and found the premise to be intriguing although not completely a style I have read a lot recently.  I went ahead and said sure I’d love to try the series out and waited patiently to hear back.  I was luck enough to get a response and waited eagerly to hear from them.  Well it took a bit but I finally got the books this month and I must say … I adored them.  Mind you these are not easy, flowery reads…  there is blood, death, torture of both a mental and physical kind… but under all that there is heart… heat…  love… respect… and a true sense of family bonds during a time of immense change and sorrow.   You do need to read these in order as they build off one another and while you may not get grabbed early in the first book please keep reading as the story grabs you along with the characters.  You want these people to find happiness and security even during the times you want to strangle them.

Bitter Night

Bitter Night – Book 1

We start the series off with a bang, Max has received a call from her witch, Giselle, telling her to go check something out in a nearby city.  You see Max is a Shadowblade, a creation of magic and humanity that makes her unable to handle any light from the sun even the moon.  She’s strong, able to stand immense amounts of pain, and due to the magic also able to heal from wounds that would kill mortals.  Max is driven by a sense of revenge in the early parts of the story and even though she is sworn to Giselle she would love nothing more than to kill the woman she once loved like a sister.  She feels immensely betrayed by Giselle’s turning her in to a Shadowblade even though it is truly the core of her being.  Max is strong… loyal… bitter… compassionate and above all else reckless.  She doesn’t always think before she acts which makes her incredibly dangerous as you never quite know what is coming next from her.  I liked seeing her strength but what I most enjoyed was her weaknesses…

This book moves at a fairly quick pace but it doesn’t seem to suffer from the normal dump tons of data on you without having a story.  You get drawn in to the chess-match between Giselle and Max, Alexander and his witch, Max and Alexander…  well heck between Max and the rest of the world.  Change is coming to the world and it brings horrible consequences to everyone not just the magical world.

Great start to a series and trust me you want to keep reading…  there is quite a bit of tension between Max and Alex but the story is mainly about the world and the hell that is about to be unleashed.

 

Crimson Wind

 

Crimson Wind – Book 2

When we left the last book Giselle and Max have come to an uneasy truce as the destruction the Guardians are unleashing causes more destruction to what Max realizes is her home and family than revenge will ever be worth.  Does she trust Giselle… No…  but at the same time she starts to understand why Giselle did what she did.  She still feels betrayed but the need to protect her home and family means more to her than her need for revenge.  I respected her for this but she still has a ways to go before she really becomes whole again.

Max has been granted a boon by the being she calls Scooter to go bring her family back to Horngate for protection.  She’s determined to do this on her own but is forced in to taking Alexander who isn’t completely comfortable with his desires for her or his place in this new reality.  He’s a Prime and finding himself sort of serving under someone other than just a witch does grate on him but mainly not knowing what his place is in this coven is taking a toll.  He’s also wanting Max to admit she has feelings for him or at least be willing to open the door up to him to try to see what they have between them.  He’s a good man but at a bit of a loss right now.

Max and Alexander learn a lot about each other on this trip and seeing him be there for her when the worst sort of betrayal hit her was wonderful to see.  She needs someone to truly back her up and accept her for her…  he does give this to her even though at times it doesn’t seem that way.  She fights for her family and really realizes what it means to be a family in this book.  It isn’t always about blood but more about heart and compassion.  She grew up quite a bit in this one but still makes rash decisions that can come back to haunt her.  I found myself being more and more drawn in to the world and for this I thank the author.

 

Shadow City

 

Shadow City – Book 3

We start this book with Max and Alex still in limbo but this book pulls everyone apart…  Max is now having to help Scooter get back parts of himself in another realm while Alex is trying to keep it together and save Horngate from a birthing Fury.

This book has it all.. death… destruction…  love… angst… action… I swear your head will be turning repeatedly as you try to keep up with all the moving parts but at the core we are still watching Max figure out who she is and what she can do  She’s also brought to her knees by realizing what exactly drives her and it isn’t what she always thought.  She does things without thought but at the core she is driven by a need to protect those who cannot protect themselves either due to being weaker or due to being slaves as she once was.  I like her core of strength and in this book she needs it more than before.  She is driven to the edge of her own limits and in one case almost permanently removed from the equation.  I loved watching her fight to be free and to free Scooter from his chains.  She is someone that I would probably want to kill 90% of the time but would want at my back and as my friend due to her loyalty.

 

Alex… sigh…  poor tortured Alex.  He gets put through the wringer many times in this series and this book was hard on him from a personal perspective but also from the standpoint of finding his place.  He does step up and protect Horngate from a sense of obligation to Max but you also start to sense that this is now his home in more ways than just a place to stay.  He’s putting down roots and it scares him to his core as he isn’t sure exactly what he means to Max or to the others.  This is an incredibly strong man who has been through hell but even when he almost goes feral manages to come to peace with his Prime and step in to lead what is now his…  I liked watching him get control back and felt that he deserved so much more from Max than he ended up getting.  I wanted to just hurt both of them while understanding why we are getting tortured by the author.  This one will break your heart quite a few times but man is it worth the ride.

 

bloodwintercover

Blood Winter – Book 4

This one will be the hardest to review as I don’t want to give anything away to followers of the series.  We get a ton of questions answered along with seeing some major changes in the characters we know and love.

 

Max is back and is still reeling from things that happened in Shadow City.  She and Alex are spending time together in the bedroom but things just don’t seem to be moving forward from anything other than a sexual standpoint.  Max still has a ton of issues and she just hasn’t let him in yet.  It pushed a lot of buttons for me watching them both hurting but stick with it as what you truly have to work for at times is exactly what you need.  If something is easy to have and hold it might not be worth it.

Horngate is now being threatened by extremists who believe that witchcraft is causing the hell on earth that the Guardians are unleashing.  The foe they meet is hiding as a religious leader but in reality is a witch with help from a source that had me shaking my head.  This is a painful story to get through from both an emotional standpoint and a mental one as there are a lot of innocents being killed/tortured in the name of “God” and watching everyone see/deal with this was just hard.  Of course Max does what she does best and that is go in with both guns blazing no matter what the cost is to her or to the people around her.  I love this about her but hate it as much as I love it…  She really does begin to piss you off but the ending is what I wanted to see although I really hope we get more.

 

Ok..  go read this series…  I know I tend to review more romance novels on this site than anything else but this UF series is so worth a try as it will give you a romance, action, love, family and a sense of home that a lot of other series just can’t seem to match.  I loved Max and Alex plus all the supporting cast that you cheer for and cry for when the time comes.  I just have to say I truly hate that it took me so long to find this series and I really hope we get to see more from this world.

 

Thanks again to Diana Pharaoh Francis and to the publicity team at Simon Schuster/Pocket Books for giving me the chance to read these wonderful stories.

 

 

Release Me – Julie Kenner – 3 stars

Release Me

While this wasn’t a fully original plot line I did enjoy the story.  If you like the whole older wealthy male with a dark tortured past… younger female with her own troubles and angst…  then this is for you.

Damien Stark is an incredibly wealthy, sexy man who has many secrets and needs to be in complete control.  He’s a bit closed off to everyone around him but for some reason Nikki gets under his skin and he has to possess her.  He’s definitely interesting and I truly am looking forward to more of this series just to see more of him.  I liked how he went for what he wanted but at the same time felt that he did or bought things for her that fit her and not just the way he wanted her.  He did seem to truly see her for who she was behind the mask she was taught to use.

 

Nikki…  now unlike other series that have this same sort of tone… this heroine does have some experience being in the real world and isn’t afraid of living but instead uses a mask to hide behind because of serious issues as a child.  I liked her ability to stand up to Damien and felt that this pairing has the potential to be a real partnership unlike some of the others.  She’s got her own issues that she works through but he does help her face her demons and gives her the strength to fight.  I liked her spunk and her sass but I also loved her heart.  She does wear it on her sleeve but I think if push came to shove she would do fine standing on her own two feet without him.  Their scenes together were hot and relatable from the sense of what both characters seemed to need at the time.  The light bondage was appropriate and the bit of spanking was humorous as well as steamy.

 

I’m ready for more of this series as I think Julie has a way with words and characters that is refreshing in a plot line that has become a bit stale.

Thanks to NetGalley.com and Random House for letting me read this in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Wild Burn – Edie Harris – 4 Stars

Wild Burn

I have to say thank you to all my Twitter friends who had read this and made me really really want it.  I was lucky enough to be one of the winners that Edie picked out and got my greedy little hands on this early.  I must say how can you go wrong with an ex-nun who gets shot by the hero the first time she meets him…  Ok..  It was a mistake but…

Moira is enjoying her morning ritual of walking in a clearing near her house when a strange man rises out of nowhere with a gun cocked and pointed at her head.  She isn’t a fainting type of woman so stands up to him and puts him in his place.  After this momentary distraction he melts back in to the forest and she continues her walk until she hears a noise and feels something sting her ear.  In a bit of shock she realizes she’s been shot and instead of fainting, gets pissed.  Yeah this mystery man shot her but then finding out he also shot her friend just pisses her off even more.  She’s got her own problems as the reason she renounced her vows and moved to the wild west becomes clear as the book continues.  I really liked her and loved watching how strong she was in the face of horrible things but also how even with their less than perfect first meeting she never felt like she wasn’t safe with our hero.  She is a very strong woman and doesn’t like anyone to tell her what to do no matter why they are doing so.  It was refreshing to see such a strong woman emerge from the hell she was put through in Boston.

When we first meet Del he’s a bit of a rough soul.  I mean his job is to hunt and kill Indians who are terrorizing and killing settlers.  He’s a tortured soul and as you get to see more of his history your heart will bleed for him.  He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders even though he doesn’t deserve all the rep he has.  He’s labeled as a deserter/turncoat by those who don’t know the real story and by others who just know his current profession a cold killer.  He is torn up by shooting Moira and as he quickly learns the shooting of an innocent Indian.  As he gets to know the town better and all the people in it he’s torn by need to move on (he’s not the family kind) before he hurts Moira or staying to put down roots with a woman he is finding it harder to resist every moment he spends with her.  What he does when he finds out her past was heartwarming and watching the true man come out and shine was wonderful.

The two of them share a great sense of humor and banter with one another which was refreshing but I would have loved to have this be a bit longer cause I wanted more of them together.  Yeah so I’m greedy…  *heh*

Thanks again to Edie Harris for giving me my copy and I can’t recommend grabbing this enough.  Pre-order it today….

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Interview with Diana Pharaoh Francis

In honor of her upcoming release of Blood Winter, author Diana Pharaoh Francis has graciously allowed me to ask her a few questions…  now she had a bit of a fun time as this is the first time I have ever done this (thanks again!!!) .  I think we ended up with some fun information about the series and other off-the-wall things.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did asking her to answer them.

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The questions:

Q: As a new reader to your Horngate Witches series, what inspired you to write these stories?

In a word . . . apocalypse. So many books that I love, like the Kate Daniels books or Sunshine, have a history of some sort of apocalypse. But usually no one ever tells the story of how that happened. That’s what I wanted to do. Add in that all these disasters were occurring all over the world, from tsunamis to hurricanes to bridge collapses, and I wondered what if they weren’t just natural disasters, but intentional. And that was the first seed of Horngate. Stir in witches, magic, romance, and a lot of action, and voila!

Q:  Is there anything that you would have done differently with the series if you had a chance to start over?  Any stories you wish you had been able to tell?

I don’t think so. There are other stories I want to tell and explore, but what I’m happy with what I’ve written so far.

Q: Who was your biggest supporter when you first realized you wanted to write?

My husband. He never questioned that I could or should. He’s been phenomenal. I don’t know if I could have done it without his unconditional support.

Q:  What do you use to inspire you when you hit a tough spot in your writing?

A lot of times it’s music. Or other people’s stories and poetry. Just enjoying the language and the characters can go a long way toward feeding my creativity. Exercise helps too. The body and mind move together, apparently. Soemtimes jumping up and dancing helps.

Q: What writers do you love to read in your down time?  Is there a particular genre or writing style you are drawn to?

I love epic fantasy and urban fantasy, but I also like romance and mystery. Well, not all romance. I have a love of regency and Victorian romance more than anything. I’ve not been able to read as much recently as I’d like, which is why my Kindle is packed full and my shelves are overflowing. I love Anne Bishop, Kristen Britain, Sharon Shinn, Ilona Andrews, Carol Berg, Roger Zelazny, Gail Carriger, Nalini Singh and so many others.

Q: If you could re-write anything.. and I mean anything..  what would it be and why?  (this just interests me as I was asked that in high school & found some of the answers intriguing…)

Rewrite what other people have written? Well, if you must know, the ending of Pride and Prejudice. I know. It’s sacrilege. But really, I think too much happens off page. Austen was so brilliant with the interactions up until that point, and then she seemed to want to wrap it up without the emotional interaction. She does much better in Persuasion, which is totally satisfying in the end.

Q:  Is there any question you wish someone would ask you?  (yeah yeah I know…  cliché….) 

I don’t know about cliché. I just don’t know if I have a question. Oh! I know! I wish someone would ask me if they could make my books into movies. I’d also like it if they had the wherewithal to do it. Jon Favreau would be good . . .

Q: Besides your upcoming release what other books or projects are you working on right now?

I don’t have any books under contract right now, so I’m working on a few different things. One is an epic fantasy that’s very dark and cool. I’m loving it.  I’m also considering some short stories or novellas in the Horngate world. Oh, and I’m working on another Crosspointe book.

Thanks for having me today!!! I wonder. What books are you most looking forward to?  Steph – I am looking forward to a few books but one I can’t wait for since I hate cliffhangers is The Mistress by Tiffany Reisz.  I am also chomping at the bit for J.R. Ward’s book – Lover at Last – where BDB fans finally get a lot of man loving…  Qhuinn and Blaylock…  YUM!!

Anything you’re hoping that Santa will put in your stocking?  Steph – Wow…  a stumper…  since my TBR pile is currently out of control I really would love if Santa could provide me a time-turner like Hermoine has in the Harry Potter series.  I swear it would be the most awesome thing as I really have a lot of great reads piled up.

The Book:

bloodwintercover

NEW GAME. SAME RULES. SHE FIGHTS. THEY DIE.

Max always does her job, no matter how brutal and bloody. That’s how it’s been ever since she was enslaved by a witch, turned into a supernatural warrior, and assigned to protect the coven of Horngate. But her job just got harder. . . .

Waves of wild magic have returned much of the world to a time when fairy tales were real and danger now lurks behind every tree and bush. As winter descends and food, heat, and water are harder to come by, many have turned to Benjamin Sterling for protection. Leader of the Earth’s Last Stand cult, Sterling claims to be the Hand of God, but his power and charisma secretly come from a dark and terrible source. With devout followers eager to do his sadistic bidding, he has his eyes on Horngate and its magical inhabitants. To save those she loves, Max will knowingly walk into a trap. But when the cult strips Max’s soul bare for all to see, will even Alexander—her lover and her strength—remain? And if she were to lose him, what does it matter if she gains the whole world. . . .

Anne Calhoun – Breath on Embers – Guest Post and Giveaway!

Please help me welcome Anne Calhoun to the blog… This short story was by far one of the best I have read this Christmas season and I cannot tell you loud enough to go read this… Anne has been nice enough to answer some questions so join me in learning more about her…

 

Q&A With Anne Calhoun

 

Q: Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

A: Writer who holds citizenship in 3 countries on 2 continents yet lives in a flyover state for love. Wife. Mother. Loves Frye boots, wool, and character more than wit.

 

Q: Your current release is BREATH ON EMBERS. Deets!

A: It’s the story of a FDNY lieutenant whose relationship with a widow goes from hot to white-hot and intensely emotional over the holidays.
Q: What three words best describe Thea?

A: Trapped. Fighting. Passionate.

 

Q: What three activities would Ronan never engage in?

A: Coercion. Quitting. Smarmy superiority.

 

Q: What is the one accessory Thea won’t leave the house without?

A: Her scarf. It’s practically illegal to leave the house without one in NYC. 😉 Ronan wears them, too.

 

Q: What are your greatest creative influences?

A: Music, although what I’m listening to may not play a role in the current WIP. I read a ton of nonfiction, sometimes for research, sometimes for curiosity. Travel.

 

Q: What three things do you need in order to write?

A: MacBook Air. Quiet (or the steady background noise of a coffee shop). An idea of what I need to write that day.
Q: What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

A: Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island. I’ve read Rainbow Rowell’s two 2013 releases – Eleanor and Park, and Fangirl – and they are wildly different and both incredible.
Q: If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

A: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

A: Read. Knit. Take yoga class. Walk the dog. I’ve got an eight-year-old boy so much of my non-writing time is occupied with homework, having friends over, activities he’s in. I also like to talk to (or at) my husband. 😉

Q: How can readers connect with you?

A: Annecalhoun.com has an email form. I’m on Twitter as @annecalhoun, and Facebook. I also have a fan group on Goodreads.

 

Now for more about the story that has quite a few of us in awe of her talent….

BreathOnEmbersCover

 

Christmas is the perfect time for Firefighter Ronan O’Rourke to take things to the next level with his sexually adventurous girlfriend. He knows she has feelings for him—and he’s sure of his feelings for her—but when Thea refuses his invitation to sample Christmas in New York City because what they share is nothing more than sheet-burning sex, Ronan sets out to change her mind.

Deep down Thea Moretti knows she cares for Ronan, but she can’t move past her grief over her late husband. Loud music and sex with Ronan are the only things she’s got that her feel alive, so she takes as much of both as she can get. She knows Ronan wants more, but during the darkest time of the year finding her way won’t be easy.

Ronan gambles everything and challenges Thea: one night of passion with him and another man. Can he prove to her that what they share isn’t just great sex but an emotional connection strong enough to last forever?

 

For more information about Anne–

 

And finally…. the good stuff… Anne is being generous enough to allow one lucky commentor to win a download of this wonderfully touching story… Just answer this question for me below to have a chance to win… What was your favorite Christmas present you ever received?

Contest will close on 12/26/12 at 11:59 pm CST.

Aftershock by Jill Sorenson – Print Giveaway!

aftershock

THERE’S A FINE LINE

As an emergency paramedic, Lauren Boyer is dedicated and highly capable. Until an earthquake strikes, trapping her beneath the freeway with a group of strangers-including Iraq war veteran Garrett Wright…

BETWEEN PERIL AND PASSION

Handsome and take-charge Garrett aids Lauren in her rescue efforts, even as the steely look in his eyes seems to hide dark secrets. When a gang of escaped convicts goes on the attack, Garrett’s bravery makes him more than a courageous bystander to Lauren. If they can save the others before time runs out, maybe, just maybe, they can explore the fire igniting between them-if the truth about who he really is doesn’t pull them apart forever…

 Now…  who wouldn’t want a chance to read this one…

Jill is being amazingly generous and giving away a print copy of this to one lucky commentor below.  This is open internationally as well so answer the following:

Who you would want with you in case of a disaster?

Entries must be in by 12/19/12 at 11:59 pm CST.

Bonds of Trust – Lynda Aicher – 3 stars

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This is a hard one to review…  not because I didn’t like the hero…  he was swoon worthy..  but his heroine just pissed me off a few times..  actually make that more than a few times.  Did I understand some of it?  Yes.  Was I at some points wanting to reach thru the Kindle to wring her stupid neck…  OH HELL YES!  LOL

 

Cali is coming out of a long-term marriage where she was unfulfilled sexually and repressed by this lack plus her inability to even talk to her ex.  I mean the woman didn’t have any sex at all for many of the last decade of her marriage.  She decides to address her unrequited need by joining one of the most exclusive BDSM clubs in town.  Once she’s approved she ends up meeting one of the co-owners and starts a hidden relationship with him.  She’s still unable to truly express her feelings or even acknowledge that as an adult she can have a sexual relationship but she’s got a lot of issues.

OK..  now on to the good stuff..  our wonderful hero…Jake…  man oh man I would love to be in his world…  he could do almost anything he ever wished to me and I’d be one happy girl.  Sure he has issues with needing to move on every once in a while but hey things could be worse.  He’s such a caring man but with his past I can understand this need to never stay anywhere very long.  He’s sooooo patient with Cali and while he does everything he can to make her happy and trust she just keeps throwing it all away with her own insecurities.  Towards the end when she pulls he stunt I almost lost it……  I mean the damn man put his heart on his sleeve and you just…  Ok..  stepping away from the chance of a royal rant..

 

While I had issues with the heroine I still enjoyed the story enough to say it is worth a read but please be patient because Jake is sooooo worth it.

 

Thanks to Carina Press and NetGalley.com for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.  As always with Carina titles you can click the link on my sidebar to head to their site to pick this and any of their other titles up.

Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Katie Porter – 4 stars – Contest

CameUponAMidnightClear72lg

 

When Katie asked me if I wanted to check out some upcoming reads my answer was “YES YES YES”.  Now mind you I didn’t know exactly what she was sending me but man oh man this one was so yummy.  I believe when I was reading this I kept tweeting “OMFG This is war war war too freaking HAWT!!!” If you don’t like M/M then please turn away from this review because this is one steamy man-love story complete with angst and past heartbreak…

 

Kyle was born to money and prestige.  His current career as a hot Hollywood producer has just continued this tread of power and privilege.  Only one issue haunts him…  He’s gay.  Now I know …  who really cares..  well his family for one and in reality the industry he is still proving himself to.  So he’s deeply in the closet and satisfies his urges with well hidden affairs.  His production company hires a stunt company that uses ex-felons and other outsiders as performers.  One of the owners/performers of this company is his one major teenage regret – Nathan.  You see he and Nathan had an incredible connection that blew apart due to one major mistake.  He’s never really come to terms with what happened and as we soon find out they both still want each other with an incredibly combustable result…  *fans self* dear God the pool table…. WOWZA.

 

Nathan has never forgotten Kyle.  He never felt like he was enough for Kyle but cannot deny how much chemistry they had and still have.  He’s got his own issues to work thru and is unwilling to keep his true feelings hidden.  He doesn’t like life in the closet so doesn’t understand Kyle’s inability to live his life openly and without fear.  He’s tough on the outside but inside he truly is a lost little boy who just wants to be with the man he loves openly and without reservations.  He pushes Kyle when needed but isn’t willing to be hidden away in the closet so pushes away from what he so desperately wants…

 

This was a very angst ridden… dear god scorch the sheets and whatever other surfaces the men end up on… incredible love story.  The men both are so much better when they are together than when they are apart and getting glimpses of what they were to each other as teenagers just pumps the volume up on what they ultimately become.  I was so proud of both men as they grew up and into the couple they become.

 

Again..  dear gawd HAWT …  Thanks to Katie Porter for giving me this with no real expectation of a review but man oh man..  just read this one.

 

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Because I loved this so much…  I’m going to give away a Kindle copy of this to one lucky commenter…  The drawing will close on Sunday, 12/9/12 at noon Central.  Please just leave a comment to have a chance to win.

A Galactic Holiday – Stacy Gail/Sasha Summers/Anna Hackett – 4 stars

Galactic Holiday

Once again another fun holiday anthology from Carina Press edited by the wonderful Angela James.  In this case she’s also very generous as she was nice enough to send me a copy of this after I tweeted for ideas of what to read next.  🙂  This is an excellent read for any sci-fi/fantasy fans who also like a bit of heat and romance.

Again Angela – Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

 

How the Glitch Saved Christmas, by Stacy Gail

Reina is an oddity in the current Chicago police force…  She actually wants to stay completely human and not take advantage of all the body mods that are available.  Unfortunately for her this results in her being demoted and harassed by other cops.  She still wants to do her job but due to items that happened in her past cannot envision ever being turned in to a “walking toaster”.  She’s called in on a case and while there runs in to a man who just drives her a bit insane both from a professional standpoint and a personal one.  She’s teamed up with him to solve this case and while they work it they finally give in to the feelings that have been simmering below the surface since the day they met.

Edison is the departments poster boy.  He has been willing to get every enhancement they have on the market but only because he felt it would help him serve the public better.  He’s smart but also believes in taking any advantage you can when it comes to hunting down bad guys.  He’s had his eye on Reina for a while but just can’t seem to penetrate the wall she has around herself until now.

The case itself was interesting and I won’t give it away but what I liked best was the fact that both main characters acknowledged their weaknesses and were willing to see the others side even if it wasn’t what they would have chosen for themselves.  There seemed to be a good balance between them and that at times is missing in romances…  Also let’s just say the ending made me do a bit of an Awwww ….  I will definitely keep my eye out for more by Ms. Gail.

Galileo’s Holiday, by Sasha Summers

Riley has almost always been alone and that’s what she believes she will always be.  She hasn’t had a lot of human contact as an ice miner but when a raider ship destroys her spacecraft she ends up finding something that she never realized she was missing…  a partner and a home.  She’s incredibly intelligent and watching this woman soak up human contact and love was sweet to see.  She just jumps in and immediately starts to try to help the people who have taken her in and given her more kindness in an hour than she really has had her entire life.  Actually I don’t want to say her mom didn’t love her but the lifestyle of an ice miner doesn’t really seem to lend itself to any traditional human interactions…

Leo ends up rescuing Riley when her ship is destroyed but he is also hiding something.  You see the raiders are looking for cargo he is moving and will stop at nothing to acquire it.  He’s on Galileo to not only bring supplies to the people who live there but also to wait for a chance to run the life-saving supplies out to another planet.  When he meets Riley he is drawn to her and they start a passionate affair.  I don’t think either of them ever expected to find the one for them so it was fun to see them dance around it briefly before finally giving in and taking what they wanted.

I think the reason I liked this one so much was you could feel the deep loneliness both of them felt and seeing them both open up and fall was sweet to watch.

Winter Fusion, by Anna Hackett

Savan is one of the best planetary negotiators in the galaxy but when he is forced to negotiate with a rival on Perma that’s when all hell breaks loose.  He’s got his life mapped out for him…  I mean he’s next in line for the top negotiator slot on his planet…  he can have his pick of women to have a child of his if he wants with no pesky commitments…  all the wonderful tech gadgets he wants and the ability to travel to whatever strikes his fancy…  Are we sensing he is about to have his feet knocked out from under him?  Good…  cause he does…

Brinn hates Savan…  I mean seriously hates the man.  I mean his planet kept Perma from getting in to the trade union which could have allowed them to get the technology they desperately needed to save lives including her father’s.  She doesn’t want to have to deal with him but they did win the first right to bid and negotiate for power crystals that her planet has.  When he insists on visiting on Yuletide Eve she doesn’t realize that she is about to be embroiled in a fight for her life and find the love she never expected.

They both learn a lot as they try to keep alive and their times together were laden with tension and the right amount of heat.  When they both learn more about each other and let the walls down the results were hot but also emotional.  I enjoyed watching the changes they both ended up making in order to make things work and would love to see more.  I’ll have to keep an eye out for more by Ms Hackett.

 

Again as with all my posts on Carina Press works if you wish to purchase a copy please use the link on my sidebar to head to their site.

Thanks again to Angela James for being such a generous soul and giving me the chance to read this with no expectations..  Just cause she loves to share…  🙂

 

 

 

 

Red Hot Holiday – Anne Calhoun/K.A. Mitchell/Lean Braemel – 4 stars

Red Hot Holiday

 

Another winning anthology from Carina Press edited by the wonderful Angela James.  Have I said I love this year’s Christmas selections??  🙂

 

I Need You for Christmas by Leah Braemel

Megan is surprised at the airport by her long-distance boyfriend.  What follows is a sweet story of being willing to make sacrifices in order to be with the ones you love.  She’s always had a dream of being a Mountie and while Ryan supports her it hasn’t been easy since he has stayed back at home while she works a post out in the wilderness.  It has been hard on the two of them but she’s ready to be with him and if that means giving up her dream job to have the man she loves with all her heart/soul then so be it.  She’s made arrangements to join the provincial police force in town so she can be with him full-time.

Ryan is a sculptor that put his life and dreams on hold to raise his siblings.  He’s a great man and has decided that as much as he loves his family he wants to start his own life with the woman he loves.  He’s made arrangements to move North to be with Megan…  I would have loved more of these two as they burned up the pages when they were together and the support both of them have from his family was sweet to see.

Breath on Embers by Annie Calhoun

This was my absolute favorite of the 3…  Such heat and amazing angst…  Loved loved loved this one.  Check back here on December 19th for more about this title and Annie Calhoun.  😉

Thea has moved to New York to bury herself in noise so she doesn’t have to deal with her grief over the loss of her husband.  She’s alive but not truly living.  She buries herself in sex and her blaring iPod rather than dealing with life.  She’s had a purely sexual thing going with an incredibly sexy firefighter but when he tries to change the rules on her she panics.  I understood where she was coming from but it made me sad to see how many walls she put up just to avoid feeling.  She’s very lucky the man who roars in to her life is understanding enough to want to make it work but I also understood when he stepped back.  He loved her but he couldn’t force her to let go and live again.

Ronan was incredibly sexy and has items in his past he has had to deal with so he understood where she was coming from.  He pushed her boundaries but also stepped back when he knew he was pushing too hard.  I loved him and man oh man I’d take him in a heartbeat if he was real.  The menage scene was amazingly erotic but the thing that made me start to weep was when her walls fell and she finally admitted what she felt.

I cannot stress this enough…  if anything go grab just this story (it is available on its own) because it is so worth every second of time it takes to read it.  This is a woman who is fundamentally broken and yet with love/patience opens back up and lives again…  🙂

Wish List by K.A. Mitchell

What happens when you hit that point in your life where you don’t know if you are truly done experimenting and are ready to settle down?  In this case what happens is two men who mean everything to one another have to open up and confront what they want/need is just each other…

Jonah and Evan have been together for two years and when Jonah discovers wedding rings in Evan’s desk he freaks out a bit.  I mean what if there are things out there that he hasn’t tried but are what he needs to be completely happy…  I mean like being dominated, at the mercy of your lover, being taken..  he’s just not sure he’s ready to commit to that level.  He loves Evan but…  He decides to write a list of what he fantasizes about but is afraid to vocalize to his partner.  Evan has been keeping his own secrets…  you see he is a closet Dom who has kept this side hidden because he isn’t sure he can control it once he lets it out.  When he finds Jonah’s list he decides to push the relationship a bit without letting Jonah know that he’s seen the fantasies.  This wasn’t my favorite of the anthology but it was a good read.  I just felt at times like screaming “WILL YOU JUST FREAKIN TALK TO EACH OTHER!!!!”  I mean that happens a lot in romance novels but in this case it was a bit frustrating.

 

 

All in all a nice hot anthology which I would recommend just for the Anne Calhoun story.  Trust me on this one..  read it..  such a nice weepy story with an ending that will make you sigh.  As always with Carina Press titles you can click the link in my sidebar to go pick them up.

 

Thanks to NetGalley.com and Carina Press for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

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