Thursday, May 29, 2008

PROTECT AND SERVE by Gwyneth Bolton

Good afternoon, Blog Buds. At least, it is here in Alaska.


I didn't get half-way through the first chapter of PROTECT AND SERVE before I wanted to see Penny all dolled up in a massive white wedding gown walking down the aisle in a humongous church wedding. Penny won my empathy the first time she stepped onto the page. The story opens at the funeral of the grandmother who raised Penny, Big Mama. I've never had anyone close to me die before, but I know my turn is coming and I've observed others going through it. People are especially selfish when they're hurting. Guess its a primal survival instinct. Unfortunately, it causes them to be inconsiderate to those who are suffering even more than they are. No one is hurting more than Penny at this funeral, but she feels seriously ganged up on and with good reason. For starters, she flew to Jersey for the funeral all the way from California and hasn't seen most of these people in years.


Aunt Sophie still belittles her and tells everyone she's a slut.


Ex-boyfriend, police officer Jason, wants to know why she cheated on him with his best friend and dumped him like a hot rock so long ago.


And her mother, oh, what a peice of work! I found out pretty fast why Penny was raised by her grandmother instead. Penny calls her mother, 'Carla,' because, well, she's pretty clueless about being a mom, or being a grown-up really. Carla had Penny when she was only fourteen and the father was nineteen. Guess you could say Carla never had the chance to finish growing up.


Hands down the most gut-wrenching of this lot is Jason, handsome, good, honorable, and still carrying a terrible load of resentment. Sure, he tries to back off and let Penny mourn before pushing her for answers. We found out Penny miscarried their baby as a teenager and that Penny's father was sent to prison for a double-murder. Only, no one ever believed Penny was in love with Jason's best friend and Penny's father was just let out, having finally been proven innocent by a DNA test.


We're let inside Penny's head but only so far. She only lets us know a little bit more than poor Jason. The two are still in love. Nobody does enduring romance better than Gwyneth Bolton! So, the circumstances of Jason and Penny's break-up don't make a whole lot of sense to the reader, but at least we get fed some clues as we read along. Penny's dad shows up with a new lease on life, a desire to know his daughter after so many wasted years, and a deep-seeded concern for Carla and Penny's safety.


Then, Penny comes home to find Carla beaten bloody...


At that point, you'll be screaming and thinking you know what's going on, but, trust me, be patient. You ain't half there, Honey.


You know I'm terrible picky about love scenes in Romance novels. I know everyone has their tastes and comfort levels. I could never read Erotica, for example, because all that graphic description of naked body parts reminds me too much of childbirth and makes me want to spew. However, I have learned something after reading every Gwyneth Bolton novel there is, except her Erotic one, and that is this - the author must do an excellent job developing her characters and their relationship before the Hero and Heroine make love. Otherwise, it's just sex. And sex without romance is boooooring, in my opinion, and even ridiculous. Sometimes the rest of the story is pretty good and you only need to skip the sex scene and use your own imagination.


You'll never have to skip a love scene in PROTECT AND SERVE, providing the Sensual Heat Level is in y0ur comfort zone as a Romance reader. And maybe even if it isn't. I typically gag at any book hotter than a Sensual, but if the author does an excellent job I hardly notice the graphics because I'm so absorbed in the story.


No author writes a better Sensual love scene than Gwyneth Bolton, in my opinion.


Gwyneth is accumulating a pretty hefty backlist now and PROTECT AND SERVE is the first in a series of three. Better pop over to her website and check it out. If you asked me last week which one was my favorite, I would have said SWEET SENSATION. Today, I just don't know. PROTECT AND SERVE is right up there with it.

We're hoping to throw Gwyneth a Cyber-Launch Party when PROTECT AND SERVE hits the shelves in July. Click on Gwyneth's name in the directory to learn more about SWEET SENSATION.

Review will be posted later on today

Good morning, Blog Buds! My review of PROTECT AND SERVE by Gwyneth Bolton will be posted later on today. I'm running a little behind.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday News!

First of all, I apologize for my tardiness. I totally forgot about it being Tuesday. The good news is we had a wonderful Memorial Day. We hiked a mountain and had a picnic. Now, on with the news. NEFERTITI by Michelle Moran released in paperback today. If you'll remember, NEFERTITI was the Enduring Romance Book of the Year for 2007. It released last June in hardback. We threw a Cyber-Launch Party for Michelle and I reviewed the novel here too. In fact, NEFERTITI was the first ARC I ever received. If you want to learn more about how revered NEFERTITI is on this blog, click on Michelle Moran's name in the directory to the left. I want to note that the paperback price is actually less than is stated on the Amazon widget.

Also of monumental signifigance on this blog is the release of Susan Grant's umpteenth novel, MOONSTRUCK.
I've seen release dates from May 23rd to June 1st on this one. Susan Grant, Science Fiction Romance, and Science Fiction in general seem to be quite popular in Alaska.

MOONSTRUCK was in our grocery store on May 23rd. A thunk on Wal-Mart's head though. It's still not there! Can you believe our little grocery store is doing better than Wal-Mart in the big town?
Click on Susan Grant's name in the directory for all her reviews (including the one for MOONSTRUCK) and such.
If you haven't already been to Tia's book review blog, Fantasy Debut, now's a good time to pop over. She's reviewing BEWITCHING SEASON by Marissa Doyle.
I'm totally into Fantasy Historicals these days, especially the Young Adult ones because there's not so much ickiness. I wish I had time to read and review BEWITCHING SEASON, but I'll have to just be happy for Tia and snag my own copy when I get the chance.

I'm going to try and remember to tell you all about really great book reviews elsewhere in the Blogosphere from now on. You know how it is, so many books, so little time.

I know this Tuesday must seem all about my author Blog Buddies, because I have to tell you I'm reviewing PROTECT AND SERVE by Gwyneth Bolton this Thursday, May 29th.

I'm reviewing as many of my ARCs as I can over the next few weeks while I have the time. I call it banking time for later when my schedule's crazier. Anyway, I was delighted to bump Gwyneth's book up a week. I'm really enjoying it. She never fails to deliver. If I could only have half her ability to describe things without dragging down the story, I'd have it made as an author! Gwyneth Bolton also gets her own heading in the directory, so just click on her name there and read all about her.
That's it for this Tuesday. Meet me back here this Thursday for Gwyneth's book. As a sneak peek, I can tell you no author writes a better Sensual Love Scene than Gwyneth Bolton.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


These two contemporary romances are short, so I'm doing them together.
A SOLDIER'S PROMISE is set in the All-American town of refuge. Joel is a grown-up little boy who never got over his parents shenanigans with an uncle or his mother's death. He's sure he'd never make a good dad, as a result. Yet, his dearly held traditional values make him want a family of his own, rather than making do with a little hanky-panky on the side. Likewise, Amber is kind of estranged from her father, which makes her mistrustful of the male population in general. I can sooo identify with that! Believe me, Amber is a lot nicer to the male gender than I was as a single girl.


After receiving a letter from a little boy dying of cancer at Amber's school, Joel visit. Bradley, the little boy, is immediately taken with Joel, as well as already having a close bond with Amber. His parents are long gone and his foster-mom just tolerates him. Now, if you're a single guy and you meet a girl who's a nanny (like I was) or a special needs teacher, like Amber, you're really stupid if you don't understand that our maternal nature is more powerful than the beating sun. It's difficult to predict what kind of mother an attorney or a bus driver might be. Most women go totally ballistic with motherliness once the hormones and instincts kick in, but they usually only have patience for their own children. Professional Childcare Providers are born with an extra dimension of maternal instinct. This doesn't make them any better mothers, of course. For example, I may have that extra dimension, but I can't remember my own telephone number. I'd never make it as an accountant. It means we were born suited to a certain profession, just like everyone else. So, Joel really ought to know better than to fall in love with a special-needs teacher, if he doesn't want to be a dad. Ah, but what we think we want and what we really want and need is frequently not the same.


Joel gets shipped out when his unit is sent to help some people whose South American community has been devestated by floods. While there, he emails Bradley and, through that, begins a slow, but steady long-distance romance with Amber.


Amber wants to adopt Bradley and is increasingly disturbed by the foster mother after she fails to take Bradley to his cancer treatments for the third time in a row. But, she doesn't want to marry someone who isn't going to be there for her and her children, like her own father. Soldiers get shipped out and are gone for long periods of time. I know I couldn't handle that. It takes a very strong heart to love a soldier. It takes a very strong soldier to admit he needs the love of a good woman, and their children.
A SOLDIER'S FAMILY is set in the same town and feature the best friends of Joel and Amber. Manny has been a bad, bad boy and he wasn't exactly a gentleman to Celia the first time they met. I won't tell you what happened because it would give away too much about A SOLDIER'S PROMISE which you really should read first, although you don't have to. Suffice it to say, Celia clocked the obnoxious jerk onto his backside. That and hitting the ground a little too hard during a skydiving exhursion has bruised Manny's ego and busted up his backside. He meets Celia again and this time he's all bandaged up in the hospital. She's just there to help her best friend, Amber, and gives no indication she's forgiven him.
Here's a quote to clue you in on Celia's personality: Guilt sucker-punched Celia. She flapped her arms and put resolve in her voice. "Well, fine! Okay. I'm glad he didn't die. Otherwise his dented rear bumper would be on fire right now in the devil's place. Still, what a waste of a perfectly good pine tree." Not that she meant any of the last part, but it amused her to watch Amber's eyes bug out.
Neither side of this couple have had it easy. Manny's first wife OD'd on narcotics after their son drowned while they were too busy arguing to notice. He's a Big, Fat Failure at the Husband/Father Gig. Amber's father was hypocrital deacond and her first husband was shot in a drug raid. Now, she has a son to raise all by herself. There's no way she wants to marry another man in a high-risk occupation, if at all.
So, Joel and Amber take Manny in to recover in their home and, of course, Celia visits often. Manny and Celia pretend to tolerate each other while subconsciously falling in love. But, then, Celia finds a drug pipe in her son's bedroom and he suddenly needs some Mega-Parenting. Will Celia find the strength to let Manny step up to the plate with her?
Both these novels are Sweet with no Violence. They're the kind you want to tuck into your purse before you start a long, hard day. They'll help you remember, through all the dentist's appointments and dinner burning on the stove, that miracles really can happen through the healing power of love.
Pop over to Cheryl Wyatt's website for more information on her books. If you like A SOLDIER'S PROMISE & A SOLDIER'S FAMILY, you might also like the novels of Brenda Coulter and Jillian Hart.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Book Review Blitz

I have six short ARCs I'll be reviewing every Sunday and Thursday not taken by a fellow reviewer until I'm through.

THE RED QUEEN'S DAUGHTER by Jacqueline Kolosov

I love Historicals and I love non-Tolkienesque Fantasy. That is, I love Tolkien, but I don’t like Fantasy which mimics him. So, it’s no wonder I’m really enjoying the growing popularity of Fantasy Historicals.
THE RED QUEEN’S DAUGHTER by Jacqueline Kolosov is Young Adult, but I think it should be stocked with regular adult novels as well. The story twists and turns enough for any grown-up. Also, if you’re sick of having to skip the Standard Issue Sex Scene, you won’t have to worry about it here. There’s plenty of romantic tension. It intertwines with the plot, but the rest is very skillfully left to your imagination. I don’t know about you, Sister, but I got a heck of an imagination! Maybe that’s why I’m so unforgiving of poorly written Romance novels. Anyway, this is NOT a Romance novel. Also, a lot of Fantasy novels for adults these days are too dark & gritty & grotesque for me. Ms. Kolosov manages to pull off all the scary magical stuff without resorting to a lot of blood & guts & making me want to eat worms.
History supposes that Mary, the daughter of Katherine Parr (widow of King Henry VIII) and Thomas Seymour died in early childhood because there is no mention of her after Katherine died six days after giving birth. There’s no proof, of course. It’s a pretty safe assumption since the infant mortality rate was so high. But, Jacqueline’s supposition is so much more interesting.
I don’t know about you other history buffs, but I would not have wanted to live before contraception was widely available and doctors knew to wash their hands before attending a woman giving birth. (Ancient Egypt was better off the Medieval Europe in this respect.) I would have installed myself as a nanny to a wealthy family and married chocolate. A hundred or more years ago may have been ‘the good old days’ for men with over-inflated opinions of their own masculinity, but sex was deadly for women back then. In RED QUEEN’S DAUGHTER, Mary knows this all too well. She knows her mother only escaped the fate of two of Henry’s other wives on the head-chopping block because of her intelligence and Henry’s failure to plant the Seed. Still, Mary is sure Romantic Love eventually got the better of her mother when she married Thomas after Henry’s death, because she died in childbirth and Thomas was executed as a traitor to the Crown.
Mary was fostered by two women, a duchess who was a close friend of her mother’s and a lady who comes from a long line of white magicians. Both reinforce Mary’s belief that Romantic Love is a death-trap for women, one she will never allow herself to fall into. The second foster-mother, Lady Strange (Don’t laugh. There really is an English peer whose title is Baroness Strange. It probably has some obscure and ancient origin,) takes it upon herself to train Mary in her natural talent for magic. Much more than that, she impresses on Mary the value of an education during a time when few women could read. The great thing about magic in this Fantasy is that its believable mixed with real science. That was refreshing.
Mary is sent to the court of Queen Elizabeth I at the age of 16. She finds there a 30 year old virgin queen (some scholars doubt the virgin part) and a collection of scheming backstabbers you could find in any public high school today. In fact, it reminded me of PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE by Nathalie Mallet that way. The trials of adolescence are universal it seems, because both authors pulled it off without it being contrived. That is, if they were trying to mirror contemporary high school life, it really didn’t show. Neither resorted to being too contemporary to pander to today’s readers. I hate it when Historicals do that. A truly great author doesn’t need to do that and readers are too smart for it.
Soon after arriving, Mary makes the acquaintance of Francis whom she’s told was knocked up by Edmund Seymour. Frances loves a different boy, but Edmund used the magical equivalent of date-rape to do the Deed. He didn’t do it for lust or love, but to destroy Francis’ reputation. Francis, Mary is told, was in a position to marry well and her future husband would be sure to rise up in status. At that time, if a girl got pregnant outside of marriage, she could be shamed, have her head lopped off, get tossed out into the street to be raped and murdered. I know these horrendous crimes are still committed against girls around the world today, but in America we have laws against it and social programs to help the girls. Francis’ parents were counting on her making a marriage which would be politically advantageous for them and that’s where their ‘love’ ended. Unconditional love and compassion were not lavished on this girl, so it’s no wonder she fell in love with a good young man who filled her need for it.
Francis decides to intervene, for that is her role as a white magician in Queen Elizabeth’s court. She’s there to ensure the Queen’s long and good reign. In doing so, she draws the attention of another magic-user, Edmund, and someone else she can’t imagine who. Now, she’s pitted against Edmund whom she’s sure means to destroy her as well. But, there are many ways to destroy a girl in Tudor England. If the Queen returns Katherine Parr’s inheritance to Mary, she will become a very rich young woman and the second most eligible bachelorrette in town (the Queen’s #1). It would be much more advantageous for Edmund to coerce her into marriage before destroying her. Back then, husbands got all their wives’ money upon marriage. Wives lost all power too and this is why Queen Elizabeth never married.
Well, you all know how I feel about Sizzling Hot Villains.
They say little girls tend to grow up to marry men just like their fathers, whether he was a monster or a hero. It’s often true, unless a girl consciously decides she wants *and deserves* someone else. Edmund is a lot like Mary’s father, the traitor Thomas Seymour. Mary finds herself attracted to him and, yanno, I really feel for her, ‘cause he is totally hot. Oh, those bad, bad boys.
The thing about Bad Boys is they’re totally stupid unless they’re in the hands of a skilled author. Thank God Jacqueline Kolosov is one of those authors.
One of the things I really enjoyed about RED QUEEN’S DAUGHTER is it followed Mary’s growth. A lot of Fantasy writers take great pains in setting up the fictional world, usually the first 30 to 60 pages. It seems to me even the greats like Mercedes Lackey do this. Jacqueline kind of does that, but if you’re the impatient type you won’t feel it. The first part of the story is Mary remembering the tragic circumstance of her birth, growing up as a foster-child to the Duchess first and then Lady Strange and her unusual education with them. I really liked it because if a Protagonist starts out perfect and mature and powerful, I just can’t relate because there’s no room for them to grow. Booooring. I followed Mary from her birth, through her childhood and all the angst of knowing her mother died after giving birth to her and her father was a traitor, and into her teens as educational and vocational and romantic opportunities opened up to her, all the way up to her as a confident young woman. Loved it.
As I mentioned before, this is not a Romance novel. You’re not promised a Happily Ever After and, really, there’s so much more to life when you’re a teen than just getting married. However, the other thing I liked about this novel is that it does have a satisfying ending which screams, SEQUEL! And I, for one, can’t wait.
To learn more about the novels of Jacqueline Kolosov, pop over to her website.
If you like RED QUEEN’S DAUGHTER, I just know you’ll like PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE by Nathalie Mallet and anything by Linda Bray or Eva Ibbotson.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday News!

Lots of news today. First off, pop over to Patricia Wood's blog to pay homage to the Divine Miss Snark.

It's the first anniversary of her blog retirement.

The celestial Susan Grant has consented to us indulging in lunacy over her new release, MOONSTRUCK, which hits the shelves May 25th.

We'll throw her a Cyber-Launch Book Party some time during the first two weeks of June.
Speaking of MOONSTRUCK, Heather has launched a new blog, The Galaxy Express and a little birdie tells me Susan's new book will be featured a lot there in the near future. The Galaxy Express is devoted to Science Fiction Romance in all its incarnations - Futuristics, romantic Space Opera, and all that.
Linda Gerber's new book, DEATH BY BIKINI, is out sometime soon and she's doing all sorts of things promoting that. Pop over to her blog to learn more.
My copy of the beautiful Gwyneth Bolton's next release, PROTECT AND SERVE, arrived in the mail yesterday.
I'm reading RED QUEEN'S DAUGHTER by Jacqueline Kolosove to review this coming Thursday, but I couldn't help but sneak the first few pages of PROTECT AND SERVE. Awesome! I love Jacqueline's book, but I'm very much looking forward to Friday when I can start Gwyneth's book. I was going to read CRYSTAL RAIN by Tobias S. Buckell next, but Blog Buddy authors get preferential treatment here, yanno. We're hoping to throw a Cyber-Launch Book Party for Gwyneth in July when PROTECT AND SERVE hits the shelves.
And, once again, I'll tell you about a few books which I would read and review for you, if I had the time, which I don't. Maybe my fellow reviewers do, so if you're the author or an author associate, feel free to email them and offer to send an ARC.
THE LAST MERMAID by Shana Abe. This story radiates mythology and you know how I love that.
ODD MOM OUT by Jane Porter. Well, I got to love Tough Mama stories.
EMPRESS by Shana Sa. I love Ancient Chinese history and culture. This is one I'd squeeze into my schedule if the author or her associate offered the ARC. I'm resisting the urge to email and beg for it.
BEWITCHING SEASON by Marissa Doyle. Tia is reviewing this one at right now. I bet Kimber Chin would looooove this one! She goes by 'K' on this blog because our first names are the same. Here's here link: that's it, Blog Buddies. Thanks for popping in and have a good week.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


A Silhouette Romantic Suspense from Nov. 2007, SEDUCING THE MERCENARY is less about Mata Hari than the title might suggest. The story begins in a war-ravaged African country of Ubasi. The new leader, Jean-Charles Laroque, is a ruthless militaristic dictator who wrested control from Xavier Souleyman, another despot.

Or is he? The CIA and the Pentagon want to know, so they have contracted the services of Force du Sable, a private military company based off the West Coast of Angola. They have sent in Emily Carlin, a profiler, to observe him and give her professional opinion on his character and stability.

She can’t complete her mission, though, because the U.S. Embassy has been evacuated after four American geologists have turned up dead- and the bodies were displayed in the same manner that Laroque’s father used to use as warnings. But there’s a hitch: these Americans were agents, and Laroque didn’t kill them. Someone is trying to force him into conflict with the U.S., and he suspects Souleyman is working behind the scenes to regain power.

Emily winds up getting stuck in Ubasi, and becomes the guest of Laroque in his palace. Her cover is in place, but he suspects there’s more to her than she’s saying. Emily is thankful for the chance to observe him up close, but has to find a way to report back to her superiors by a certain time, or they will assassinate Laroque. They know of Souleyman’s plans, and prefer to deal with the devil they know if it seems that Laroque will be as evil as his father was.

Complicating matters is the attraction that runs strong between the two. Emily is fighting her Achilles’ heel- she has a weakness for Alpha males, and Laroque definitely fits that bill. Trying to do her job while protecting her heart is no easy task. Laroque is conflicted as well; he has to deal with his superstitious people who point to a prophecy that says a woman will bring him down. His growing feelings for Emily may well cost him the trust of his countrymen. And he still knows he can’t fully trust her.

Loreth Anne White plots political conspiracy very well; her conflicts were entirely believable and compelling. I am a huge fan of spy stories. And as much as I love an escapist fantasy, I liked the realism- no James Bondish gadgets or Goldfinger villains here.

The inner arguments that Emily and Laroque have were well written; just enough angst to keep you guessing but not so much introspection that the action slows down. Their attraction is believable and may I say, HAWT.

Speaking of heat level, that would be highly sensual, and it totally fits the story. It’s a wonderful addition to the Silhouette line, and won the 2007 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Silhouette Romantic Suspense. Congrats Loreth, and great story!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Artichoke's Heart

I have had the great fun of reading an advanced reader's copy of Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee - the release date is June 12th, but you can, of course, pre-order on Amazon.

I've read about a lot of teenage issues in books lately -- one girl is too smart for her own good, or she has a shallow step-mother, or her brother ignores her. This is the first that I've read and said, "Yeah, that's legitimately a big problem in high school. No wonder this poor girl is struggling." Because Rosemary is overweight. Not just a little overweight, like all the chick lit heroines who need to drop 5 pounds to fit into their favorite jeans, but significantly overweight. High school is still present enough in my mind that I know this would be incredibly painful to a young girl. And on top of it, Rosemary is being raised by a young single mom, in a small town, with an aunt who is way too involved in Rosemary's weight issues.
But, of course, there is a boy... and things improve... and Rosemary learns some things about herself and her mother... and I couldn't put it down. I read it straight through in a day and a half, and I have three little kids so that was quite a feat!
I highly recommend you getting your hands on a copy of this one!
Suzanne has also written When Irish Guys Are Smiling - which sounds fabulous as I, personally, have a particular soft spot of Irish guys. ;) I think you might also like I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You, by Ally Carter and Wrecked, by E.R. Frank.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday News

I almost forgot about doing the Tuesday News. Then, I thought, "Wait a minute, I've got nothing anyway." Guess my brain cells are still getting used to not being sick anymore or maybe I need more coffee. Typically, on Tuesday mornings I visit my author Blog Buddy sites and MySpace for news to add to whatever I've collected on my file since the Tuesday before. Anyway, MySpace won't let me on this morning, so I may have additions later on today.
Patricia Wood had the news today. First of all, her bestselling, debuted-in-hardback-last-Augest novel, LOTTERY, is coming out in paperback on June 3rd.

Second of all, Pat is doing a tribute to The Divine Miss Snark at her blog on May 20th. All Snarklings must be there to show proper respect and gin. Miss Snark may have retired from the Blogosphere, but her archives are still with us. Many a published and aspiring author owes much to Miss Snark.

Friday, May 9, 2008

SHADES OF DARK by Linnea Sinclair

First of all, a DISCLAIMER. I’ve had a terrible head-cold for this past week. If this review is less-than-stellar, it’s my fault. Not the author’s.
Linnea Sinclair’s next novel, SHADES OF DARK, is the second in a series of which GABRIEL’S GHOST is the first. I highly recommend you pop over and read my review of that first, then this one. More than that, find a copy of GABRIEL’S GHOST and read it before SHADES OF DARK comes out in July. SHADES stands alone all right, but reading GABRIEL’S first will make it all the better.

In GABRIEL’S GHOST, Sully rescues court-marshaled captain Chas from a prison planet and recruits her to help him track down and destroy the Jukors. These are monsters being illegally bred to destroy humans and other despicable creatures. Besides being nasty dragon-like beings, they’re immune to telepathy. Although Sully is human, he has some telepathic abilities which would make him a target for the guys who hate alien telepaths. Linnea reviews all this and sets up the conflict for SHADES all in the first chapter and without resorting to an info-dump either. I won’t tell you what role Chas’ brother and ex-husband played in GABRIEL’S because I might ruin it for you, if you haven’t read that one yet. Suffice it to say, Chas’ brother, Thad, is arrested in SHADES OF DARK.
Of course, Chas wants to run off and rescue her brother from the corrupt government officials holding him, but Sully realizes Thad is just bait. The baddies really want Chas and him and anyone else who is out to destroy the Jukors and their production.
There’s a saying most Trekkies know- “Never trust an alien when he says he only wants to help.”
No sooner has Chas, Sully, and their capable crew set off when they encounter another renegade officer- Dalby. The baddies want her dead because she knows too much, but her motives for helping out are more than suspect. She thinks Chas has influence with the Imperials which Chas just knows she doesn’t. Soon as she figures out Chas is on Sully’s ship, she cuts out. But, that’s not as freaky as Sully realizing, through telepathy, that a member of their crew, Gregor, wasn’t at all surprised by Dalby’s arrival.
Chas may be out to save her brother, but everybody else is postering and pushing for regime change. No one seems interested in individual freedoms, except Chas and Sully of course, but at this point they don’t seem to think they can do anything about it. They just want to save Thad and get rid of those stinkin’ Jukors. Trouble is, the person responsible for Jukor production is one of those posturing for power and killing Taka women in the process by using them to breed the nasties. Oh, what a mess.
And let’s not forget Chas and Sully are lovers. Sully is a rare human telepath. Chas is alarmed to realize their lovemaking has been taken to a whole new level and worries Sully is taking control of her mind as a result. Is he doing it on purpose? Does he believe it’s a good thing? As wonderful as it is, will Chas lose herself to Sully? He certainly has the advantage. He can wipe people’s minds clean. She has no telepathic ability at all. Doesn’t sound like a marriage of equals to me.
Fear of loss often drives otherwise good men to dominate their women. But, there’s a difference between protection and possession, and that difference is trust. And that which appears to be strength often is not, but…I’d better stop there.
Linnea drives the dagger into the reader’s imagination and twists it around and around until you’re screaming. Is Chas’s Dad really going to make Thad turn state evidence against her? Well, there goes his Father of Year award. Is Phillip another alien who only wants to help or does he have a dagger of his own?
I love this novel on several novels. Lately, I’ve been kick-butted out with heroines. Oh, sure, I love the kick-butt heroine, but she’s become a stereotype, I’m afraid. Chas is not that. Sure, she can kick bad guy alien butkis, but her strength is a reserved one, a balance of passion and reason. The second thing I love about this novel is it’s not a boy-meets-girl romance. Chas and Sully are an established couple maturing together, figuring out how to make Happily Ever After happen. Because, it doesn’t just happen in Real Life, yanno. And third, there’s a sense of family. Chas has a seriously dysfunctional family, but they are present in the story and in her psyche. She didn’t just spring out of nothing like too many stereotypical heroes and heroines. Her love and loyalty for Thad is a strength, but, of course, it can be a weakness. Just like in Real Life.
So, what you get with SHADES OF DARK is a well-balanced, carefully paced story which will carry you through to the end. There is no junk, no extra words, no dangling plot threads, just a fabulous novel indicative of an author who never stops learning her craft.
And I’m not just saying that because I have a cameo in the story either.
“I remembered a silver-haired freighter pilot telling us, her pilot’s braid longer than mine was now. Her name was Kimber An, and she was something of a legend around the pubs on Marker 3, both for her stories and her drinking skills.”
I mean, gee-whiz, you only have to click on Linnea Sinclair’s name in the directory to realize you shouldn’t bother knocking here if you want an objective opinion of her work. I'm a big time fan-girl. Nevertheless, one thing I've learned as an unpaid, unprofessional blogging book reviewer is that enthusiasm cannot be bought.

I've almost made enough money in a year off these Amazon ads to buy a cup of coffee now!
Heat Level: Sensual
Gore O'Meter: Violent

Thursday, May 8, 2008

SHADES OF DARK by Linnea Sinclair review postponed

I've had a massive head-cold for a week now and I don't think I can do this one justice quite yet. Check back tomorrow morning, Blog Buds.
I still feel guilty for the last time I wrote a review with a bad head-cold. That was MASTER OF VERONA by David Blixt last Fall. Yanno, my brain cells are mired down at times like this, but I am feeling better now.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tuesday News, Part Two

Susan Grant is teaming up HOW TO LOSE AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN 10 DAYS with a chocolate expert for Mother's Day. Pop over to her blog to read all about it. Genius!
In case you don't get the connection, this novel has a divorced mother of teens and a hot intergalactic space hero in it. We can always count on Susan to deliver the heroic moms!
Also, don't forget, Susan's next novel, MOONSTRUCK, hits the shelves May 29th.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesday News!

Good morning, Blog Buds, and welcome to the Tuesday News!

Michelle Moran has cover art for her next novel, THE HERETIC QUEEN, which is due out in September. Beautiful, isn't it? To learn more about the novel, click on the following link- For an interesting discussion on how the novel came to have this cover art, click on this link-
Also, in case you haven't heard, Michelle's novel, NEFERTITI, will be released in paperback on May 27th. It was released in hardback last July.
Meanwhile, our own Kimber Chin has released her very own very first novel, BREACH OF TRUST, with Champagne Books.
Maybe she'll chime in later to tell us all about it. I only hope she doesn't scare me with too many numbers! Sometimes, people confuse Kimber Chin with me - Kimber An. This is why she goes by 'K' when she posts a review here. The easy way to tell us apart is to hold up a sign with a number on it. She'll probably spout off some excited calculation while I run off screaming into the night. In any case, we're all very proud of Kimber Chin's monumental achievement. To learn more about her novel, click on the following link:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday's Oldies but Goodies...

Good Morning!

This week's Oldie but Goodie is....

by Laura Baker

First Released January, 1998

Willow Becenti is a half-Navajo police officer of the Navajo nation. As a police officer, she is automatically viewed with suspicion and contempt by her own people. As such, she often finds her views about what is best for her people at odds with the views of the elders of the tribe. Where she sees a people clinging to the old ways out of habit and fear, the elders see a people struggling to maintain their pride and unity while trying to pass on centuries-old traditions that would die otherwise.

The day Lonewolf appears out of thin air right before her eyes changes everything.

Working a crime scene in one of the many sacred caves on the reservation, Willow is shaken when a figure appears out of the shadows of the cave - a Navajo warrior of old, complete with leggings, medicine pouch and bow and arrows.

Lonewolf is a Starway Shaman, a Stargazer, with the power to heal and the power to guide his people. He has been sent by the stars 130 years into the future to save the next Starway Shaman, a dying little boy under Willow's guardianship.

Immediately, Willow and Lonewolf clash - Willow unbelieving that Lonewolf had the power to heal little Manuelito, Lonewolf desperate to convince Willow the old ways are valuable and can heal the boy. Along the way, they discover they are the other half to each other's soul, destined to show their people a balance between old and new, destined to save the next Starway Shaman.

Ms. Baker's ability to blend romance, suspense and Native American mysticism into a compelling story is amazing. You can picture the Arizona desert and the colors of the sand and sky as if you were looking right at them. Ms. Baker does a fine job with the development of Willow and Lonewolf into two characters you will find yourself silently rooting for by the end of the story, and woven throughout the novel is the unspoken admonishment that balance is the key to happiness and harmony - balance in life, balance in love, balance in everything we do. Ms. Baker keeps the heat level at sensual, and it definitely serves to further the story along.

You can learn more about Laura Baker and her stories on her website -

Happy reading!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Something Wicked By Kalen Hughes

Can’t wait until June for your next Kalen Hughes’ Rakes Of London read? You don’t have to. The always generous Kalen is offering a free 28 page short story on her website. Yep, you read that right. FREE. My favorite price.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… it is free, it can’t be that great. If it was that great, it’d be published in print form.

Well, banish those thoughts. The love story of the ruined Eleanor Blakely and rakish Viscount Wroxton is delicious. It is like one of those little chocolates you magically find on your pillow at higher end hotels. Short enough to gobble up during your lunch hour (I saved it for a dreaded Monday).

I love how Something Wicked starts with the two, bored out of their minds, looking for amusement, and finding it in a game of card. Both being proud, stubborn people, the betting quickly escalates out of either of their control (naughty but not too naughty).

Often shorts ignore family members. Not in this case. I love how the hero is very conscious of Eleanor’s five very large brothers. I love how both are attending the card parties with their mothers (Moms are SO important, aren't they?).

No sloppy research here either. Kalen Hughes is known for her historical detail and that shines through in this short.

There are no guts or gore at all in this short. There is the potential for real violence if any of the brothers catch Wroxton with their sister. The naughtiness level is fairly tame, some heavy petting and a standard male reaction to heavy petting.

You can download Something Wicked at

If you love this short and you haven’t read Lord Sin, well, you’re in for a treat. Oh, and having read the ARC for Lord Scandal (out June 2008), if you liked Something Wicked and you liked Lord Sin, then you're going to LOVE Lord Scandal. Lord Scandal and Lord Sin are very, very, very steamy (did I mention steamy?).