Thursday, October 29, 2009

A MARRIAGE-MINDED MAN by Karen Templeton



I was going to review THOSE OF MY BLOOD by Jacqueline Lichtenberg for you this week for Halloween, but I had a bout of Postpartum Depression and had to switch to something more lighthearted.  Probably the biggest benefit of an author writing one kind of story for a while is a reader can count on her for certain things in a story.  I know I can count Karen Templeton, in this series, for a lighthearted story full of living, breathing, sweating characters all wrapped up in a believable happy ending I'm so into I can cheer for.  When I really needed her, Karen Templeton was there for me.  Thank you!
.
Some people find their true love soulmates in high school.  They get married and live happily ever after.  Other people find their true love soulmates in high school, but screw it all up.  Sometimes, they screw up the rest of their lives too.  But, sometimes, they grow up and fix things later, and that's what happens in this story.
.
Tess would tell you Eli was an immature, arrogant jerk-asaurus at the story's start, but, you know, any girl who chases her boyfriend down the street with a sponge mop isn't exactly the most grown up teenager around either.  Big blow-up and then they got on with their adult lives.  Tess married, had a little sex, and popped out a couple of kids.  Eli never married, had a lot of sex, and went into business with his dad.  They say when some people fall in love it's like getting struck by lightning.
.
Tess got struck by a car, or was it a truck?
.
Eli was in the truck and Tess was on an adreneline escape from the finalization of her divorce.  Eli takes her home to clean up the ouie on her leg and then Tess decides she wants him to kiss it and make it feel better too.  The morning after he did a lot more than that, she feels stupid and her ex-husband, a military dude, calls because he's brought the kids home early because, he says, they missed her, but, really, it's because he can't handle them. 
.
Charging into battle is much easier than raising children, you know. 
.
Tess is glad for an excuse to flee the Eli Scene.  It was just sex, you know, a little therapeutic nookie.  Who's kiddin' who?  She never had it so good!  Plus, she was really in love with him a long time ago and that never went away.  Try as she may, getting on with her day is not easy.
.
Eli's more than a little shaken by the experience too.  He's done some major growing up since the last time Tess was in his life and he'll be darned if he'll mess it up again.  So, he calls her, but she's too befuddled to really have a conversation.  So, he just says he's sorry.

.
Well, Tess is a bigshot Real Estate lady now and she suddenly gets a 'money pit' to sell.  She needs it fixed up NOW.  She has no place to go but to Eli's dad, but he's booked solid because, hey, he's the best.  That leaves her with Eli and nowhere else to run.  Of course, she doesn't really want to run.  She's just scared of another broken heart.  That's why she shows up to discuss the deal with Eli's dad in a sexy sweater, except, as she subconsciously hoped, Eli's dad ain't there.  Eli is.
.
Karen Templeton just sends me her books.  She knows I'm a sucker for 'em.  She doesn't need to ask and I'm glad I don't have to beg.  They just show up like chocolate chips from Heaven.  Learn more about this one and her vast backlist too at-
http://www.karentempleton.com/

Monday, October 26, 2009

TWILIGHT OF AVALON by Anna Elliott

They say history is written by the victors. Even though King Arthur bought it in his last battle, you'd think he lived victoriously by the amount of stories he spawned, even though it was his spawn which killed him. Think about it though, his wife cheated on him. Why? Well, think about that some more. Back in the Middle Ages, girls were bought and sold like cattle for the financial and political gain of men who couldn't care less if they actually liked having sex with them or not. The girls didn't get to choose their husbands and more often than not these dudes were old, fat, and butt-ugly. No wonder the penalty for women committing adultery was death. The men certainly couldn't rely on their winning personalities to keep their women faithful. Yet, at the heart of every woman is the need for love and tenderness. So, odds are good the Queen cheated on Arthur because she never loved him in the first place, if you believe they really existed. Makes sense to me and I love stories that twist things around, rather than just accepting what is commonly accepted.
.
TWILIGHT OF AVALON re-writes Arthurean mythology on the idea that King Arthur was a successful ruler, but a selfish, violent jackass who raped his half-sister, Morgan, and fathered Mordred who was actually the good guy. You may remember something about Mordered trying to usurp Arthur's throne while he's away and trying to force Guinevere to marry him. In this book, Guinevere loved Mordred and was trying to get away from her abusive husband, and I say good for them. Mordred and Guinevere were the parents of Isolde, this story's heroine. Isolde was raised by her grandmother, Morgan, called a witch by the mythology we know.
.
Bear in mind when you go to buy this book that the names are spelled differently. For example, Guinevere is Gwynefar.
.
Isolde has it good by medieval standards. She's married off at age 13, but her husband is 12, cute, and kinda fun. He's Constantine, 'Con' to her, and he's Arthur's official heir because she's a girl. Although their marriage doesn't seem to have been a passionate love affair, they seem to like each other all right. When he's killed seven years later and barely a man, she misses him and that's where the story starts.
.
Arthur's been dead for a while and Britain is dissolving more and more into violent chaos without him to unite the people. Isolde is a queen of her time, doing what she can with her healing talents to ease the pain of those around her, but she is falling into dispair as the violence mounts and no one gives a dang about things like honor. She saved a Saxon girl from being the spoils of war, but the girl is still a slave in a foreign land. Even a queen has limited power.
.
Then she goes to heal the wounds of a couple of Saxon prisoners and is amazed how the older one, Tristan, cares about the younger one's comfort, honor, and failing courage. She heals the boy's fingers, even though it's likely the jailkeeper will break them again in the morning. Amazing.
.
In the old romantic tale of Tristan and Isolde, she's betrothed to King Mark and he's taking her to him. Instead, Tristan and Isolde drink a love potion and run away together. Don't get hung up on that, 'kay?
.
Isolde's got mounting problems of her own. She and Con had no children and once again the King of England has died without an heir, adding to the chaos as leaders fight each other for control. She tries to give voice to the situation and is called down by Madoc for being the bastard offspring of the great traitor Mordred, who killed King Arthur. He's hushed up by King Marche, a guy you really wouldn't want to turn your back on. The reason for Marche's support soon becomes clear.
.
A high-born lady without a father or a husband is in a very precarious position. Con, whom she liked a lot if not loved, is hardly dead three days and already the vultures are circling. They want her land, her name, her connection to King Arthur. And Marche means to beat them all to the draw.
.
I wouldn't call this a Romance novel. It's a Historical Fantasy, something I really like just as much, but Isolde drives the plot. She's a powerful woman in a time and place when women had little or none. She has medical skills easily called witchcraft if someone wants to get rid of her by seeing her burn at the stake. This and adultery are common excuses for getting rid of a wife, for example. There's little love and light around her, but she clings to hope.
.
This is the kind of book I'd recommend if you have a long, boring wait ahead of you, like standing in line at the DMV, and want to be transported by your imagination away from it. It's thick, complex, and far removed from our everyday life, but definitely human enough to lock you in from the start. The writing style is enviously beautiful too.
.
Pop over to

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Soulless - by Gail Carriger


When Kimber An asked me if I would review SF and other SpecFic books for her blog I agreed on one condition. I didn’t want to read any Vampire books. Most modern Vampire Fiction makes me want to run screaming into the night, and probably not for the intended reasons. BUT, what good is making your own rules if every once in a while you can’t break them. Soulless is a book worth breaking rules to read. First off although there are vampires it’s not really Vampire Fiction. It is a Gaslight/Semi-Steampunk/Semi-Alternative History/Paranormal Romance or as the cover says “ A novel of Vampires Werewolves and Parasols.”

Doesn’t that tag alone grab your interest?

Alexia Tarabotti has several strikes against her as far as society is concerned. She’s a spinster-at the dried-up age of 25, she’s a hopeless bluestocking, and her father, who at least has the good grace to have died when she was an infant, was a scholar of things best not talked about in civilized drawing rooms, and Italian too boot. So it’s not surprising that due to an attack of boredom, and the poor quality of food on the buffet, at the Duchess of Snodgrove’s Ball Alexia takes herself off the the Library and orders the servants to bring her tea . Just as she is settling in to exploring the Duke’s under appreciated library a vampire rushes into the room and tries to bight her neck – without a proper introduction! Well, Alexia my be unconventional but she won’t stand for things like that. Unfortunately for the vampire in question, who is shabbily dressed in last season’s style of evening wear, Alexia has inherited more than her unfashionable tan skin, robust figure, and strong nose from her father - Like him she is soulless.

In this enlighten period of the triumph of science this isn’t a religious statement, but a description of her physiology. It seems intelligent creatures are divided into three groups. The vast majority of people are Naturals, with just enough soul to go through a normal life. Some people have an excess of soul, they are Supernatural. If they die under the right circumstances they become Vampires, Werewolves or Ghosts. A few people are Preternatural, they have no or very little soul. Contact with them negates the advantages extra soul gives Supernaturals. Vampires, Werewolves and Ghosts are all productive members of society. There is not of the preying on innocent Naturals that went on in the past. Supernaturals are licensed and policed by the Bureau of Unnatural Registry

Alexia unintentional kills her vampire attacker with her trusty parasol. This complication brings Lord Maccon, head of the BUR, chief werewolf in London and close adviser or Queen Victoria on Supernatural matters, into the picture. He and Alexia have been something between friends and enemies ever since the infamous hedgehog incident at a house-party the year before. He’s large, loud, handsome, and almost civilized, for a Scott. Reluctantly he accepts Alexia’s help trying to find out what Vampire Hive is letting its fledglings our so poorly dressed and lacking in manners. They discover a trail of missing lone wolfs and solitary vampires that is quite perplexing. Then the plot thickens…

The best comparison I can think of for this novel is Amelia Peabody meats Buffy. But that does not do it justice. It is charming, engaging , has HEA, and best of all is the planned first book in a series of adventures featuring Alexia and Lord Maccon.


There is a little violence, and some sex, but nothing that is beyond very mild.

Monday, October 19, 2009

'Fantasy Debut' evolves into 'Debuts and Reviews'

My esteemed Blog Buddy and fellow blogging book reviewer, Tia, has developed a new blog to accomadate our growing needs. Please pop on over and renew your links.
http://www.tianevitt.com/weblog/

LEVIATHAN

Scott Westerfield's new book is out now. I'm pretty sure I'm too insignificant to get an ARC though. Dang.
http://www.amazon.com/reader/1416971734?_encoding=UTF8&ref_=sib%5Fdp%5Fpt#noop

Please Scroll Down

to read all the Sunday Showdase posts.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kimber An Wants It





Here's a couple more I want, but I'm not sure I'll ask for. The author probably doesn't need my help, so I might not be able to snag one anyway. Plus, my ARC stack is already ridiculously high. I sense a Read-And-Review Blitz coming on!
.

Speaking of xombies, I mean zombies, I found my copy of DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES by Linnea Sinclair and, thank goodness, it's an autographed copy. No, I am not turning spooky on you. They're ALIENs, 'kay? Alien zombie dudes. Speaking of dead alien dudes, I've also got THOSE OF MY BLOOD by Jacqueline Lichtenberg on the way. This is a vampire one, an ALIEN vampire one. I don't go for the standard issue blood-sucking dead guys, you know. I bought this one.









Strangely Beautiful Stories

I'm not into ghosts, except maybe alien ones, but I'm strongly tempted to beg for the STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER arc because it sounds so beautifully twisted and genre-blending and breaking. The heroine seems very unstereotype. The fact that such a story could get published in these economic times when publishers only want the tried-and-true-surest-of-the-sure-thing makes me think this story must be really good. Also, Ms. Hieber's futuristic fantasy novella, DARK NEST won the prestigious Prism award even though it was published by a minor ePublisher. Tell ya, makes my fingertips tingle! Here's a link to her site and some contests she's running-
http://www.leannareneehieber.com/contests

A Crunchy Critter Makes Good

I can't remember if we've ever critted for each other, but Barbara Elsborg has swapped crits with Laurie Green a lot and I've swapped crits with Laurie a lot too. Barbara's also been there with lots of great advice. Barbara has had several Erotic novels published by Ellora's Cave and now she has a regular romance out with Cerridwen Press. Here's Laurie's post about it-


.

Way to go, Barbara!

.

If you're a writer in need of a critique group, pop over to
http://www.critiquecircle.com/default.asp A lot of us aspiring (and now published) authors met and still hang out there.

Please Scroll Down

We'll be posting throughout the day.

THE STAR KING Rules!

And I mean the first one!
He reminds me of Yul Brynner, the most sizzling hot villain of all time. (((sigh)))
.
However, getting new cover art on old books and getting them out there again is a very good thing, so here they are-



Way to go, Susan! So, um, whens SUREBLOOD coming out, hmm? (((Kimber An drums fingers on desk))) I'm suffering from a deplorable shortage of Science Fiction Romance around here. However, the new cover art has reminded me, yet again, that there is one Susan Grant novel I have never read, THE STAR PRINCESS. So, I'm ordering it NEW. Always buy your favorite authors' books new. That's how they make money and stay in the business of writing the books you love. I'm also ordering a replacement copy of DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES. Lost it. Busy babymaking year, you know. Good news is, I had a cleaning lady come to my house yesterday! (Yes, that's angels you hear singing!)
.
To learn more about Susan's books, click here-

Why I Read eBooks

Kimber An asked me to say a few words about eBooks probably because I'm such a raving fan of the format. I prefer to reviews books in eFormat. I especially love to read eBooks from new authors and/or authors at small to mid-sized presses.

Why?

Because that is where most of the experimental writing (i.e. most of the new, exciting writing) is currently.

The big print publishers need big print runs to make their big money. They do that by taking a storyline or author or voice proven to appeal to the average reader. That means nothing too edgy or strange.

At least… not until that edgy or strange is tested.

One of the testing grounds today is eBook. Erotica (which we do not review here on Enduring Romance) caught the interest of print publishers only after it had been proven successful in eBook format. Sci Fi romance and Fantasy romance is thriving in eBook format. That's pushing interest in print.

eBook is a relatively inexpensive format to experiment with. It is NOT a free format. There are expenses for author royalties, editing, cover art, third party distributors, site maintenance, etc. etc.

What IS inexpensive is giving a book extra time to find its audience. That is something ALL unique plots, genres, voices need.

I initially marketed my first rather unique contemporary romance incorrectly. The sales reflected it. In print format, my book would have been yanked from the bookstores immediately. Instead, my eBook/small press publisher gave me another chance (it didn't cost much more to keep the book up for sale). I tried different things. I had time to implement reader feedback (LOVE my readers). Sales picked up. In February 2010, the fifth story in the series will be released. My readership is growing but I still haven't found the perfect solution to growing it quickly (what big print publishers need). Until I do, eBook (and print on demand) is my only option.

That is why eBook is the future of publishing. It may not be the preferred format (for at least another decade or two) but it will nurture future writers, writers trying something different. If you are looking for unique reads, I strongly suggest looking in eBook format.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cracked up to Be Review


First, a disclaimer: this book is not for our young readers, despite being YA. It's definitely older YA, and then only for kids who can handle adult themes, language, and consequences.

OK, onto the review.

I have three children. I have a very, very hard time getting *lost* in books these days. This is only the fourth book this year (and it's October, people) to suck me in so that I was reading while making dinner, reading while the kids bathed, reading when I should be sleeping. It grabs hold and doesn't let go - and if you wonder if you'd have the same reaction, the author has graciously put up the first four chapters for you to sample.

This is the story of Parker Fadley, who is the most popular girl in school, not because of any inherent popularity, but because being popular is just part of being perfect in high school - and Parker is perfect. Or she was. Being perfect costs you. And it might even cost you your sanity. Something cost Parker at least part of hers, and you find out over the course of the novel what it was. What *did* happen to Parker Fadley?

If you've ever read writing advice, at the top of the list is "show don't tell". I have never seen that applied so precisely as this novel. She could tell us that Parker is freaking out. But we feel it - and we also feel what a strong, intelligent girl she is, and we hope like to high heaven that she gets it together at the end of the book.

There's even a love story for you romantics out there. ;)

I wouldn't say this is *sensual* in the way romance novels are, more matter of fact about sex. But sex is on the page, or at least - almost on the page. She does cut away, I think.

I hope you all read it and love it as much as I did!

Friday, October 9, 2009

SIZZLING SEDUCTION by Gwyneth Bolton


{If you haven't noticed, I've been posting new book reviews a couple of times a week. I still feel a little behind from having my baby. Please scroll down to read the others.}


.


I think I've said it before. SIZZLING SEDUCTION by Gwyneth Bolton is so hot I had to use oven mits to get it out of the package it was mailed to me in. This is a new one in the series about the Hightowers, four brothers on a mission to protect, serve, and love.


.


Patrick Hightower is a fire fighter and the last Hightower brother to fall hard in the game of love. Burned by an early marriage, he's gone out with plenty of girls, but none of them dropped his jaw to his kneecaps until Aisha brought her Kindergarten class to tour his fire station. The rookie was supposed to give the tour, but Captain Hightower can't help tagging along. I'd say he tagged along like a lost puppy, but he's much too dignified. But, he did tag along. He's no nervous teenager, so he asks her for a date right after the tour.


.


Aisha turns him down.


.


The poor boy can't believe it.


.


Aisha is the single mom of a ten year old boy who's just gotten her life back together after leaving an abusive marriage. Although she's attracted to Patrick, there's no way in heck she's going to let herself get tangled up in a new relationship, espeically with such an Alpha Male. You see, she hasn't yet learned there's a difference between an Alpha Male and a jackass pretending to be one by bullying people smaller and weaker than him.


.


Patrick is actually very family oriented. He comes from a huge, great family, all supportive of each other.


.


Except Aunt Sophie. She's nuts. She's still determined to get him back together with his adulterous ex-wife, Courtney. And the little hussy is eager to do so. Tell ya, why can't people just live and let live and be happy for each other? Well, if they did, getting together with the girl of your dreams would be too easy, I guess.


.


I've read all the previous books in this series too and it was really nice to see the other Hightower brothers and wives makin' love and havin' babies, livin' happily ever after.


.


Might be hard to find this one at your bookstore. If it's still on the shelf, it might be segregated to the African American section. If it's not there, do click on the link to order it. http://www.eharlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=20251 You'll be glad you did. Pop on over to Gwyeth's site to learn more-

Monday, October 5, 2009

MOLLY FYDE AND THE PARSONA RESCUE by Hugh Howey


Molly's cruising through the space navy academy. She wants to be a hot shot pilot. When it comes to piloting, there are hours of sheer boredom punctuated with moments of sheer terror. She starts the story in boredom mode, except that the guy next to her is so gosh-darn cute. They've been flight partners for a while.


.


The moments of sheer terror quickly follow when an invasion fleet appears out of hyperspace and she has to pull of some fancy flying. Unfortunately, her methods are decidedly unorthodox and she gets booted out of the academy a little too fast. She suspects it's because she's a girl. This is the future, but for some bizarre reason she can't figure out social evolution has backslidden. Women rarely fly anymore, or go into combat.


.


After resigning herself to a normal high school, her honorary grandfather-type person, Admiral Lucin visits with the stunning news that her dad's old ship, the Parsona, has been found. Well, he doesn't have to say much else because Molly's already gone into warp with the idea of getting it back. It's legally hers now, because both her parents are dead. The good admiral makes all the arrangements for her to go fetch it, including providing her with a traveling partner to keep her on task.


.


Cole. Ooh, la, la, bring on the kissing. But, these two are little more mature than me about such things and so I didn't get to read about smooching for a while. I did get the feeling Molly wanted to be a Linnea Sinclair heroine when she grew up though. http://linneasinclair.com/ Okay, maybe not, but I'm kinda silly about that.


.


Anyway, back to the story. They arrive on a stinking planet. The space navy paid the bribes and stuff and there's a shady guy to meet them too. At this point, things kinda turn into a Jurassic Park movie, you know, first with the 'Oooh' and 'Ahhhh' and then there's running and screaming. They bang heads with a couple of space navy dudes during a flash flood. It's crazy. Then, they get captured. Did I mention Cole's been pretending to be Molly's boyfriend as kind of cover story? Oh, yeah, pretending.


.


Fun read. Well-structured. I can't stand fluff in a book, you know, excess descriptions, and chasing every Tribble trail that comes along.

.

Pop over to http://www.norlightspress.com/our-books-molly-fyde.html to learn more about this story.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

THE VISCOUNT'S KISS by Margaret Moore



I know, I know, this is a late review. Because Margaret Moore romances are so dependably good, I save them as rewards. The Viscount's Kiss was saved as a reward for finishing all my EPIC Award first round judging (discovered some wonderful new authors).

The Viscount's Kiss is Buggy's romance. If you've read A Lover's Kiss (with the hilarious potato throwing scene – a classic), you'll remember Buggy as the author of a biographical adventure book featuring spiders. Bromwell (aka Buggy) is a spider freak. He travels all over the world, studying them. He's currently raising money for his next expedition.

As an only son and heir, he knows he should marry and have kids. He can't bring himself to. His expeditions are very dangerous. He encounters cannibals and has been shipwrecked. He would never subject a wife to these conditions. And he wouldn't leave a wife at home for years and years (this was back in the day – travel took years).

He doesn't even consider marriage until he runs across Nell Springley. This impoverished lady's companion is in danger and on the run. Bromwell, as a true yet unusual gentleman, feels honor bound to help her. Suddenly Bromwell's clear view of his future becomes hazier.

I was a little nervous about this novel. I LOVE Buggy. I was afraid his story wouldn't live up to what I'd 'written' in my brain. I shouldn't have worried. The Viscount's Kiss exceeded expectations. I am now a Buggy fanatic! That first chapter when he has to do something absolutely horrific because it is the right and kind thing to do… wowsers, my heart squeezed!

I loved the transformation of Nell from a spider hater to a spider lover. It is so skillfully done that it felt natural. I could relate to it. My own hubby is a home theater fanatic. When I met him, I didn't even have a tv. Now, I can talk convergence and color temperatures with the best of them (and I do, every January when we attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas). Why? Because what is important to the people I love is important to me. I loved Nell for feeling the same way.

This is a Harlequin Historical so The Viscount's Kiss has Harlequin Historical heat levels and gore o'meter.

For more information on The Viscount's Kiss, visit
http://www.margaretmoore.com/

TO WED A WICKED EARL by Olivia Parker




I've been waiting for this novel for so long (okay, only a little over a year but it feels like so long) that I almost forgot about it. I was thrilled to find it in the bookstores. To Wed A Wicked Earl is the follow up to Olivia Parker's delicious debut novel At The Bride Hunt Ball.

If you've read the first novel, Charlotte, To Wed A Wicked Earl's heroine, is the friend fancying herself in love with Lord Tristan, the bride seeking noble. Only Lord Tristan DOESN'T choose her as his bride. Charlotte is left broken hearted and alone. She has one last season to find a husband. If she doesn't, she'll be forced to marry a very creepy old friend of her family. Very creepy, as in liking young girls creepy. Shivers.

The decadent Earl of Rothbury is in a similarly tight spot. His hilariously crazy and much beloved grandmother is threatening to sell off his property if he doesn't marry soon. The only woman he wants to marry is Charlotte but he feels she deserves better than a rake like him. So he pulls a typical guy stunt and romances every woman but her.

The two team up as spouse hunting friends. Charlotte vows to help Rothbury find a respectable bride and Rothbury uses the excuse of finding Charlotte a husband to stick close to her, knowing darn well that he'd never allow another man to touch her.

What makes To Wed A Wicked Earl special is Rothbury. He is as close to a real life alpha that I've ever found in a romance novel. Charlotte is a wallflower. Other nobles find her plain and unremarkable. Rothbury, however, is sure they have it all wrong. Charlotte has the makings of a ravishing beauty. He doesn't correct them though 'cause he's an alpha and alphas aren't too interested in what the masses think. He knows he's right and that's good enough for him.

He also has that alpha overly heightened sense of responsibility. Charlotte is a gem. She deserves better than him. She deserves the perfect man. He won't allow her to settle for less. He moves heaven and earth not to hurt his daffy grandmother. He feels responsible for the happiness of everyone he cares for.

To Wed A Wicked Earl is a very satisfying follow up to a brilliant debut. I've now added Olivia Parker to my auto buy list of authors (and that list is short).

To read more about To Wed A Wicked Earl, visit
http://www.oliviaparker.net