Saturday, 31 March 2012

Book Review: Still Hot For You by Diane Escalera

Title: Still Hot For You
Author: Diane Escalera
Release Date: 19 March 2012
Number of pages: 78 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Source: ebookebook provided for review by the author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Lyrical Press

Goodreads appetizer: Want to get your man talking? Give him booty!

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And Shay LaCosta is pretty desperate. She's wrecked her blissful marriage of five years by demanding she and her husband Dylan have a baby. What the hell was she thinking? She knows she was wrong and she’s ready to set things right, if only Dylan will let her. Bet he can’t shun her Booty Camp offer: delicious, white-hot sex in exchange for what’s going on inside his brain.

Dylan may be macho and stubborn, but he really does miss his wife. A little of Shay's pushing gets him past their estrangement and into her web of seduction. She seems to have an erotic week mapped out to perfection, and who is he to complain? Their marriage is meant to be, so they'll fight with each other, and they'll fight for each other.

WARNING: Racy Language, Hot Sex, Seduction.

Review originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed Diane Escalera's previous steamy romance Dangerous Desire, so when I read the blurb of Still Hot For You I was immediately intrigued and excited to read it.

Diane Escalera explores something very few romance novels do: creating a romance around an already married couple. I was curious and doubting how the romance part could be made exciting when that initial thrill and frisson of the h/h meeting, getting attracted and getting to know each other (one of my favourite parts actually) would be missing. But Diane Escalera manages to compensate the lack of the usual timeline of get-to-know-each-other by involving the reader in the high-running emotions of a couple still very much in love but hurting and trying to reconnect.

I know finding the problem which could break the harmony of the relationship must be even harder when the h/h are a married couple and the author doesn't want to irrevocably destroy any chance for reconciliation (and also not lose the reader's forgiveness for their transgressions -> so definitely no cheating!). Still the one Diane Escalera found (Shay wanting a baby and Dylan not) wasn't really a succcess with me.

Shay states that her wanting a baby (the whole beginning of their argument months ago) "was pretty stupid". I am a modern working girl, my career is important to me, I'm still young and so not ready for kids yet, but even I bristled at that. Why is it stupid that she wants a baby being almost 30 and having been married for more than 5 years to the man she loves? I think it is a natural evolution of their relationship, but the way she always found the root of their problems with herself and her self-accusations made me annoyed with her at times.

Dylan on the other hand is a wonderful character. He is a manly man: virile and oozing charisma and seduction, and he deeply and strongly loves his wife, his whole life revolves around her. (His reason for not wanting a baby now is that he doesn't feel they are financially stable enough for that. However they live in a quite well-off house with jacuzzi outside, he has a Mustang and she has a Lexus sport coupe, all signs that they live quite comfortably...)

Despite the shortness of the story (it is a novella of only 78 pages) Diane Escalera made Dylan a well-rounded and layered character (much more than Shay in my opinion, who often ruffled my feathers).

Verdict: As expected Diane Escalera cranks up the heat and gives a story sizzling with seduction and chemistry between her characters, the intimate scenes between Shay and Dylan were combustive enough to put fire to the page.

However, on the emotional level I wasn't fully convinced that they had resolved their differences by finding common ground and truly revealing themselves.

Plot: 5/10
Characters: 7/10
Writing: 7/10
Ending: 6/10
Cover: 7/10

Buy it:



Friday, 30 March 2012

Character Interview by Barbara Wallace + Giveaway

I am very happy to welcome to the blog today and introduce you to one of my latest discoveries: the wonderful Barbara Wallace, author behind Entangled Publishing's latest Indulgence title: Weekend Agreement. I devoured Weekend Agreement in no time and was amazed at the wonderful portrayal of Daniel, how vulnerable, wounded yet strong and virile Barbara Wallace made him (you can read my detailed review here). So I am extremely happy to tell you that that we are very lucky today as Barbara brought with herself Charlotte and Daniel, the hero and heroine of Weekend Agreement! Please give them a warm welcome, come and get to know them better and you could even win a copy of Weekend Agreement!


Barbara Wallace: Hello! And thanks Stella for letting me visit your blog. I hope you don’t mind, but I brought along a couple guests. You might know them. They are Professor Charlotte Doherty, noted historical author and Daniel Moretti, billionaire business mogul. Their love story is told in the Indulgence book Weekend Agreement, out this month from Entangled Publishing. They came with me to meet readers and answer a few questions.

Charlotte, my first question is for you. Agreeing to a weekend trip with a man you barely knew? What on earth were you thinking?

Daniel: I like to think she was so dazzled she couldn’t say no.

Charlotte: Dazzled? Hardly. Though he’s right, I didn’t have much choice. Daniel had somehow convinced my brother to sell him a farm that had been in my family for two hundred years. It was the last link I had to my dead mother. And he refused to sell the property back to me unless he got something in return.

Barbara: Is that true, Daniel?

Daniel (shrugging): I was angry when I made the deal. I’d just discovered I’d been betrayed by yet another so-called ‘lover’, my mother was bugging me about showing up to her anniversary party – which in itself was a joke – and in waltzes Charlotte looking to buy back her farm. Something snapped.

Barbara: What were your first impressions of each other?

Charlotte: I thought he was a cold-hearted, self-absorbed arrogant businessman.

Daniel: You forgot handsome.

Charlotte: I didn’t forget. (Blushes) Unfortunately he’s right. I did think he was handsome.

Daniel: I thought Charlotte was this seductive manipulative siren. (He laughs) A regular devil in a green dress.

Charlotte: I thought you liked me in that green dress?

Daniel (kissing her hand): Believe me, Professor, I do. Although I like it on the floor more….

Charlotte: Clearly we both made rash, incorrect judgments.

Barbara: How so?

Charlotte: Well, now I know Daniel has the soul of a poet. That behind all that arrogance is a very lonely man who just wants to be loved.

Daniel: I’m not lonely anymore.

Charlotte: Me neither. Funny thing is, until that weekend, I never realized how lonely I really was.

Daniel: Meanwhile, I’d convinced myself I’d be lonely for the rest of my life.

Charlotte: Oh, Daniel….

Barbara: Ahem, guys? Do you think we could focus for just a minute more?

Daniel: Only for a minute. The Professor and I have some “dancing” lessons we need to get to.

Charlotte (turning bright pink): Daniel!

Daniel: What? I love to dance. I’m pretty good too.

Charlotte: You’re more than pretty good.

Barbara: Why do I think dancing is a euphemism for something else? Anyway, speaking of dancing, your agreement involved attending Daniel’s mother and step-father’s wedding anniversary. How is your mother, Daniel?

Daniel: I’d rather talk about something more pleasant, like the plague or politics.

Charlotte: I’ve got to give him that one. Vivian isn’t my favorite topic either.

Barbara: So the party – you two didn’t enjoy the visit?

Daniel: I wouldn’t say that.

Barbara: What would you say?

Charlotte: If we answered that question, then people would have no incentive to read the story themselves. As a writer myself, I have to suggest they visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble and order their copy of Weekend Agreement.

Barbara: Well, it looks like that’s all I’m going to get out of our guests today. Daniel just whisked Charlotte off. Guess it was that “dancing” lesson they had planned. Sorry about that. Feel free to leave any questions you might have, and I’ll pass them along. Maybe one of them will return later. If not, I’ll do my best to answer them myself. And thanks for stopping by!

Some deals were meant to be broken…

Cynical billionaire Daniel Martinetti works hard; plays harder and has one ironclad rule. Never trust a woman. Bad news for historian Charlotte Doherty who shows up at exactly the wrong time. Like every other woman in Daniel’s life, Charlotte wants something from him–the deed to her family farm. Daniel agrees, but only if he gets something in return: Charlotte’s company for the weekend!

The property is Charlotte’s only link to the mother she never knew. Desperate to keep her history alive, she’ll accept Daniel’s indecent proposal, but not without a few terms of her own. Namely, a propriety clause. No flirting. No kissing. No sex.

Daniel has no intention of honoring her conditions, but after one weekend with Charlotte leaves him hungering for more, he can’t help wondering if she could be the exception to his unbreakable rule…



Barbara Wallace has been a life-long romantic and daydreamer so it’s not surprising she decided to become a writer at age eight. However, it wasn’t until a co-worker handed her a romance novel that she knew where her stories belonged. For years she limited her dreams to nights, weekends and commuter train trips while working as a communications specialist, PR freelancer and full-time mom. At the urging of her family, she finally chucked the day job to pursue writing full time and couldn’t be happier.

A life-long Yankee, Barbara lives in New England with her husband, their teenage son, and three very spoiled pets.

Find out more about Barbara and her books at her website, on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Entangled Publishing has generously offered an ebook copy of Weekend Agreement to one lucky commenter!


All you have to do is leave a comment/question to either Daniel or Charlotte, or Barbara herself!

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 9 April 2012!

Good luck!


Thursday, 29 March 2012

Book Review: Weekend Agreement by Barbara Wallace

Title: Weekend Agreement
Author: Barbara Wallace
Release Date: 15 March 2012
Number of pages: 194 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Source: ebook provided by publisher
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Entangled Publishing

Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Some deals were meant to be broken…

Cynical billionaire Daniel Martinetti works hard; plays harder and has one ironclad rule. Never trust a woman. Bad news for historian Charlotte Doherty who shows up at exactly the wrong time. Like every other woman in Daniel’s life, Charlotte wants something from him–the deed to her family farm. Daniel agrees, but only if he gets something in return: Charlotte’s company for the weekend!

The property is Charlotte’s only link to the mother she never knew. Desperate to keep her history alive, she’ll accept Daniel’s indecent proposal, but not without a few terms of her own. Namely, a propriety clause. No flirting. No kissing. No sex.

Daniel has no intention of honoring her conditions, but after one weekend with Charlotte leaves him hungering for more, he can’t help wondering if she could be the exception to his unbreakable rule…

This review was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

My Thoughts: I started reading Weekend Agreement late at night thinking I would read a couple of chapters and then go to sleep, but that's where I seriously misjudged Barbara Wallace's gripping writing, because I stayed up until the first hours of dawn as I wanted to know more about what will happen between Charlotte and Daniel and couldn't put it down. So before you pick Weekend Agreement up, be advised that it is highly addictive, so you'd better clear your schedule to be able to devour it in one sitting.

When thinking about what made Weekend Agreement such an extraordinarily captivating story the first thing that jumps to mind are Daniel and Charlotte. Barbara Wallace's characterisation is well developed, layered and deep. All the characters, even the supporting cast is three dimensional and real, and due to that the reader feels as involved in their story as if they were standing right there with them.

Charlotte is an intelligent and insecure young woman: she didn't have a happy childhood and to this day she misses the warmth of loving parents and a caring family, that's why she fights tooth and nail to get back the farm her brother sold to Daniel, because that is her last and only link to the memory of her mother.

I can't remember the last time I read about such a complex and well developed character as Daniel. He is so jaded, deeply wounded, his cynism and lack of faith in people and selfless actions were depressing. Barbara Wallace did an amazing job painting his deliciously brooding and deeply scarred character, his bleak disillusionment in genuine feelings, sincerity, affection and love were heartbreaking. Heartbreaking because behind the tough cynical façade he had a generous and warm heart and a vulnerability that brought me to tears the times we got a glimpse of it.

In the secondary characters' department I have to mention Judy who grew close to my heart thanks to the fun few scenes she was in. She was a delightful secondary character, a great friend to Charlotte who filled her scenes with some much needed laughter and lightness. Her endless chatter likening Daniel to different predators had me chuckling and she was a wonderful emotional and protective support to Charlotte.

The romance developed naturally, progressively, and due to that it felt real. My only complaint is that the happy time Daniel and Charlotte shared was too short, I would have loved to give them a few more relaxing happy scenes.

Verdict: Weekend Agreement was an emotional story in the best possible sense of the word. Emotional because it not only makes the reader feel for and sympathize with the characters but breath and live for them for the couple hours while they are reading their story. Barbara Wallace made me smile, made me cry and made my heart ache, but it was such a cleansing and vitalizing experience I cannot wait to embark on her next story!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 9/10 (mostly due to Daniel as he was so deliciously dark and wounded)
Writing: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Cover: 9/10

Buy it:

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Interview with Diane Alberts + Giveaway

Today I welcome to the blog Entangled Publishing's very own best-selling author Diane Alberts, whose latest novel On One Condition was released on Valentine's Day and to celebrate its release she agreed to answer some of my questions, so come closer, get to know Diane and the characters of her novel, and you could also win a copy of On One Condition!

Stella: Hi Diane, welcome to Ex Libris! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Diane: Thanks so much for having me!

And, sure! I live in Pennsylvania, and I’m a mother to four and wife to one. I love reading and writing, and can’t ever get enough of romance novels. So much so, that I decided to start writing them!

Stella: Your latest novella On One Condition was released for Valentine’s Day and since has hit the best-sellers list on B&N, congratulations! Can you tell readers what they can expect of it?

Diane: I’m so excited to be on that list, too. I can’t even explain how thrilled I am! On One Condition is, of course, a romance. It’s a shorter story, so I try to focus on the romance between the two characters mainly, while only briefly touching upon their past and their obstacles in their path to their happily-ever-after.

There’s only so much room in a short story like that—and I want to show their love develop! I’m all about the romance, after all.

Stella: On One Condition is a modern day marriage of convenience romance, what attracted you to this trope?

Diane: Oh, I’m a sucker for any trope, but I love the idea of a marriage of convenience catching both parties off guard—especially when one of those people are appalled at the idea of love and romance. When you marry a romantic man like Damon, it guarantees a lot of arguments and wooing.

Stella: On One Condition is an “Ever After” title published by Entangled Publishing, meaning that it is a short novella, what were the hardships/challenges of telling a story in only 112 pages? Why did you choose to write with such length limitations?

Diane: I love having a short story to engross yourself into that can be read in one sitting. You get that satisfied feeling of your happily-ever after in one sitting, but don’t lose your whole day because you couldn’t put it down!

And the challenge can lie in having the readers happy. A lot of times, people feel you don’t touch upon a certain backstory—such as Johanna’s past—enough, but if I spent a whole chapter on her past and her mother, then I’d be taking away from the heart of the story—Johanna and Damon falling in love.

I’d say that’s the biggest challenge—giving the readers everything they crave in a shorter time limit.


 Stella: Do you have a favourite scene/line in On One Condition?

Diane: Hm, my favorite scene is the wedding night, when Damon vows to woo her after their kiss. My second favorite would have to be the night they sit and look up at the stars together, after the charity auction.

Stella: On One Condition besides having Cinderella reminiscent romantic scenes has some darker, more emotional scenes as well. Do you always mix the shades of romance or was this specific of this story?

Diane: You got me! I almost always have a bit of darkness or emotional baggage thrown in. I like to touch upon almost all of the senses/emotions, and I try to do so with each book. It’s kind of a thing with me, there has to be at least one teary-scene.

Stella: The hero of On One Condition is a modern day Brit aristocrat: Viscount Damon Hayes, what it is about those handsome Brit aristocrats that makes them irresistibly attractive?

Diane: Oh, I don’t know, but I love, love, love them. I used to say I would marry a Brit—but I married a US Marine instead. LOL! I adored the idea of having an English Viscount in a Contemporary Romance. Is it just me, or do we not see enough of those? I might need to write another….

Stella: Can you tell the readers about what makes Johanna an interesting and unique heroine?

Diane: She thinks she is immune to love, and instead of basking in a romantic gesture, she’s more likely to roll her eyes at it. Not because she’s mean, but she’s just not into grand gestures and romance. Even so, Damon manages to soften her resolve.

Also, she is such a good, caring person. All she wants is to help others—particularly children who are growing up in poverty, like she did.

Stella: You have four kids (and a bird), how do you find the time to write romances? How do you manage?

Diane: Naptime is my best writing time, to be honest. Three of my kids go to school, so the fourth is the only one here during the week. Beyond that, my hubby is home going to college right now, so he sometimes watches my three year old if I am on a roll, or have a deadline.

Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule?

Diane: I’ve got a YA book with my agent now—a very, very dark story of good vs. evil. That should be ready for subbing too.

I also just finished a Historical Romance that I’m polishing up to send to my agent. On top of that, I have a bunch of upcoming Contemporary Romance novella’s with my editor, coming this summer.

My next works with Entangled will be an Ever After out in April, called DIVINELY RUINED. It’s about a troublesome aspiring angel, and the man who tempts her to fall from grace.

Thanks so much for having me here!



Kindergarten teacher Johanna hates Valentine's Day. She hates romance, hates commercialism, and definitely hates her school’s annual charity date auction. She never expects her pre-auction night of drinking to land a sexy Brit in her bed. Or for that Brit to show up at the auction, bid thousands just to talk to her again, and get down on one knee in front of everyone and ask her to marry him.

Viscount Damon Hayes has never met anyone like Johanna. She’s neurotic, fascinating, and fun. She also doesn't care about his title and doesn't want his money, which makes Johanna perfect to fulfill a surprise clause in his father's will: marry within three months and remain married for a year, or lose his fortune. A relationship is out of the question, but when passions ignite and the two fall in love, their marriage of convenience becomes anything but.

More details and an excerpt are available here.

Buy it at Amazon (US), B&N, Amazon (UK)

My review will be posted tomorrow

Best-selling author of all things romance. Diane believes strongly in a happily-ever-after for everyone. She especially loves tortured heroes and heroines, as can be seen in her stories. She is repped by the fabulous Lauren Hammond of ADA Management.

Diane Alberts lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her husband, four kids, and a bird. She lives in the mountains-but wishes it were the beach. She has been writing since she was in elementary school, but only recently fulfilled her dreams of being published in 2011.

She loves interacting with readers, so feel free to email her at: diane@dianealberts.com.

You can also find Diane on her website, Twitter, Goodreads and on Facebook.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Entangled Publishinhg has generously offered an ebook copy of On One Condition to a lucky commenter!


All you have to do is

1) leave a comment and answer Diane's question and tell us: What is your favourite trope? (my favourite 3 tropes are 1) the friends to lovers, 2) the enemies to lovers and 3) the arranged marriage/marriage of convenience ones :-D)

2) leave me a way to contact you (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway ends on 4 April 2012 and is open worldwide!

Good luck!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Winner of the Tessa Dare Giveaway!


The hour is up and the lucky winner of the $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card is

Merci Arellano

Congratulations Merci!

But the fun is far from being over, follow the blog tour to the next stop at Smexy Books!

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare Blog Tour - 1st Stop + Giveaway

A WEEK TO BE WICKED by the wonderful Tessa Dare is finally on sale, woohoo! And to celebrate the release Avon Books have planned something special: a one-day blog tour for Tuesday, March 27!

Five stops in five hours, with prizes ranging from $25-$200 in value! You can find the schedule, links and list of the prizes here. Each blog stop will last an hour and at each stop of this virtual road trip, Tessa will be sharing original snippets from the "lost travel journals" of Minerva Highwood and Colin Sandhurst, the hero and heroine of A WEEK TO BE WICKED.

And as I am the very 1st stop on this whirlwind road trip, here is the first entry from their travel journals:


From the Journal of Minerva Highwood:

By my calculations, taking into account bad weather and unexpected delays--we should still reach Edinburgh in advance of the Royal Geological Society’s symposium. Of course, we could arrive two days sooner, if Payne were only willing to take the mail coach. But no, the man has his “conditions.” His travel requirements are almost as nonsensical as his Personal Moral Code. Which he had the audacity to recite for me last night while standing naked as a—

*next page*

Ignore blood spatter on previous leaf. Scribbling while walking again.

GIVEAWAY RULES:

For a chance to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card — e-book money for the reader on the go, leave a comment below answering the question: “Minerva’s a bookworm and loves reading scientific papers. What book do you never go on a trip without?”


Giveaway is open worldwide and ends at 2 p.m. EDT today!

So hurry, comment away!

Guest post:The inspiration behind the novel by K.D. Grace + Giveaway

I am very happy to welcome to the blog today one of my favourite erotica authors, K.D. Grace whose novel The Pet Shop blew me away like no erotica novel before and due to that also became  one of my favourite reads of 2011 (you can read my review here)! K.D. is celebrating the release of her latest novel Body Temperature and Rising which is the first book in the Lakeland Heatwave trilogy, a contemporary paranormal erotica series. Please give her a warm welcome and read on to discover the inspiration behind the series, you could even win one of her books at the end! ;-) (Thank you K.D. for the beautiful photos!)


The inspiration behind Body Temperature and Rising
by K.D. Grace

My first two novels, The Initiation of Ms Holly, and The Pet Shop, are contemporary erotic romance. I get asked by a lot of people what inspired me to make my third novel paranormal. I don’t know if was synchronicity or magic or just one of those things that was meant to be, but the route that finally resulted in Body Temperature and Rising was circuitous, to say the least.

The idea for the original story was born when my husband and I got caught in the mist in a storm while walking the fells in the Lake District. The experience of having all that was familiar suddenly disappear in blanket of fog stuck with me long after we were safely drinking coffee in a coffee shop in Rosthwaite, dripping rain water all over the stripped wood floor. The thought of being lost in the fog still has the power to make my pulse speed up and my thoughts turn to ghosts and witches and hidden things.


Raven Crag, Lake District

Before I go any further, I’d like to clarify for my American readers just what a fell is, since there seems to be a bit of a language barrier, and some people have thought that the fells are woodlands. A fell is an upland stretch of open countryside, a moor or a barren or stony hill. And the fells in the Lake District are formidable. They include Scafell Pike the highest mountain in England! The word comes from Middle English and Old Norse and means mountain or hill. I love language, don’t you?


Derwent Water from High Spy, Lake District

Anyway, my husband and I had to navigate our way off the fell completely by compass and map, something we’d never had to do before. And as we sipped our coffee, I wondered what would have happened if we hadn’t had a compass, or if we’d lost ours somehow. That inspired the opening scenes of a novel that was originally my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project three years ago, the novel that eventually evolved into Body Temperature and Rising. When I started to write it, I knew it would be set in the Lake District. I knew it would be an erotic novel, and I knew it would be paranormal, neither of which I’d tried my hand at before. In the beginning, it was very much an experiment.

Castlerigg stone circle amid the Lakeland Fells

I started work on the novel the first day of November, with a pilgrimage to Avebury with my writing friend, Helen. Avebury is the perfect place to begin a paranormal erotic novel about witches and ghosts. The village is set in the middle of the biggest Neolithic stone circle in Europe, a stone circle 500 years older than the Pyramids. Because the stones are much easier than Stonehenge to access, and there’s no charge, Avebury has become a gathering place for modern Pagans and other New Age folks. And our timing was perfect. It was the day after the old Celtic holiday of Samhain, and even in spite of the torrential downpour that we arrived in, we found ourselves surrounded by druids, witches, wiccans and all manner of Pagans celebrating what is essentially Celtic New Year.

THE place to write in Avebury, (nearly the only place) is the Red Lion Pub, right in the centre of the stone circle. This 16th Century pub proudly boasts the reputation of being the most haunted pub in England.


Outside it was pouring rain, and soggy Pagans were bravely communing with nature, but inside there was a fire in the fireplace, and we were both in the writing zone. By late afternoon, sharing leftover Halloween candy across the table while the Muse whispered in our ears, the pub was nearly empty. There was an enormous banging sound, like doors slamming. It seemed to be coming from the hall that led to the restroom behind us. The space that had been toasty warm all at once felt chilled, and suddenly we were both shivering. Seconds later, one of the wait staff came running back to the restrooms looking panicked and pale. From behind the bar to the kitchen we overheard murmurs and nervous laughter, and we overheard mentions of the ghost. There were more murmurs and mentions of supernatural phenomena when the volunteer returned unscathed to join the rest of the staff cowering behind the bar. And then the room was warm again. Helen and I ate more sweets, ordered another pot of tea and discussed our near-brush with what might have been the supernatural. Then we kept writing.

Exploring the slate quarries off High Spy

On the way home with only fumes in the gas tank, we forded the raging waters of the Kennet River which, in the heavy rains, had over-ran its banks onto the road. We just barely made it to the last lonely petrol station to refuel and fight the rain and wind all the way back to the calm of Surrey. That was the beginning of Body Temperature and Rising.

In its first incarnation it was called Love Spells, and I had no idea what I was going to do with it after it was finished. So it languished untouched in my word files for two more years. In the meantime, Xcite Books published my first two contemporary erotic romances, The Initiation of Ms Holly and The Pet Shop. Then one day I pulled up the original manuscript of Love Spells, had a read-through, and decided it had some serious potential. On a lark, I sent Xcite the reworked first three chapters and a synopsis of what would become Body Temperature and Rising, and within less than an hour, they responded with a yes!

I was a little taken aback by Xcite’s enthusiasm. There’s a lot of really good paranormal erotica out there, and I don’t mind saying I was a bit intimidated. For the first time ever, I found myself with writer’s block. Usually once I take on a writing project, the writing flows, the story takes shape, and that’s that. Not this time. I was really beginning to worry that I might not be able to pull it off.

Finally, after a long hard walk on the Downs, I realized the reason it wasn’t coming together for me was that the story was too big for one novel. It needed to be a trilogy. Once I realized that, I was seriously and properly intimidated. I’d never taken on anything that expansive before, and yet once the idea was there I couldn’t see the story developing any other way. In the end, I proposed the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy to Xcite, and they said yes again!

From there the book and the changes needed to make it publishable practically exploded onto the page, with the path to the rest of the trilogy clear ahead. I’m still amazed at how it’s all come together. It’s been a new kind of writing challenge for me, taking me into suspense and horror and allowing me to delve into some of my own Pagan past. (That’s past as in this life, not as in past life :-)

I consider myself a sceptic, but even I have to admit that there might have been just a touch of magic involved in the creation of Body Temperature and Rising. And I’m expecting more magic as the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy unfolds.



American transplant to the Lake District, MARIE WARREN, didn’t know she could unleash demons and enflesh ghosts until a voyeuristic encounter on the fells ends in sex with the charming ghost, ANDERSON, and night visits from a demon. To help her cope with her embarrassing and dangerous new abilities, Anderson brings her to the ELEMENTALS, a coven of witches who practice rare sex magic that temporarily allows needy ghosts access to the pleasures of the flesh.

DEACON, the demon Marie has unleashed, holds an ancient grudge against TARA STONE, coven high priestess, and will stop at nothing to destroy all she holds dear. Marie and her landlord, the reluctant young farmer, TIM MERIWETHER, are at the top of his list. Marie and Tim must learn to wield coven magic and the numinous power of their lust to stop Deacon’s bloody rampage before the coven is torn apart and more innocent people die.


K D Grace was born with a writing obsession. It got worse once she actually learned HOW to write. There's no treatment for it. It's progressive and chronic and quite often interferes with normal, everyday functioning. She might actually be concerned if it wasn't so damned much fun most of the time.

K D's erotic romance novels, The Initiation of Ms Holly, The Pet Shop and Lakeland Heatwave Book 1: Body Temperature and Rising are published by Xcite Books and are available from all good paperback and eBook retailers.

Her erotica has been published with Xcite Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, Erotic Review, Ravenous Romance, Sweetmeats Press and Scarlet Magazine.

Find out more about K D Grace on her website. She's also on Facebook and Twitter.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

K.D. has generously offered an ebook copy of winner’s choice of either The Pet Shop or The Initiation of Ms Holly to one lucky commenter!

  

All you have to do is

1) leave a comment and tell us: did any of your trips inspire you to do something? (make a decision, change something in your life or just to take another trip somewhere?)

2) leave me a way to contact you (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 9 April 2012!

Good luck!


Monday, 26 March 2012

It's Monday, What Are you Reading? (#67)


It's Monday, What are you reading? is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read and the books to be finished this week.

I had a quite stressful week reading-wise: lots of review book deadlines, but thankfully most of them were good and so the reading was enjoyable and fast. Besides that lot of work, even had to work Saturday, ugh.. but at least it's sunny and warm, seems like spring has really arrived! :-D Here is what I have read this past week:

Books I completed 


I loved the premise of this book and it was a wonderful surprise: Barbara Wallace's writing was emotional and well developed, her characterisation really amazed me. I can't wait to read more of her books. You can read my review here.



Another recent Entangled release, a quick and cute story with a dashing and drool-worthy hero. My review will be posted on Book Lovers Inc. this week.



And the 3rd new Entangled release I read the past week and the one I'm reviewing later today at Book Lovers Inc.



 I have reviewed Diane Escalera's latest steamy story over at Book Lovers Inc.



I LOVED Julie James' Just the Perfect Man Alive and have heard so amny great things about Something About You I couldn't wait to finally read it. It was wonderful, and that hero! *dreamy sigh*

Books I am currently reading

(Book #1 in the Lakeland Heatwave series)

Still have a few chapters to go from this one, with all the other urgent books it had to take a backseat.



A new UF book by debut author James R. Tuck that I will be reviewing with Jackie as a dual/duel review at Book Lovers Inc. on Friday.


Books I can't wait to start


I have seen the movie Saturday (I loved it! You can read my thoughts in my review HERE) and now I'm very excited to finally read the books and see how they differ from the movie adaptation.


And what are you reading this week?


Sunday, 25 March 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

I saw the Hunger Games movie yesterday night and I had to write a review and share with you my thoughts. Please bear in mind that I haven't read the books yet, so my opinion is only about the movie adaptation and my impressions of the characters, settings, etc. there. So since I had no prior knowledge of the characters and just a basic one regarding the story (I read the Wikipedia pages of the 3 books so I knew what the story was about) I had no prior expectations based on Suzanne Collins' descriptions and could enjoy the film as a blank page. And I loved it! (I will not talk about the story as I don't think it differs much from the books, though once again, as I haven't read the books I cannot say how true the movie adaptation was to the novels.)

The imagery and settings of the movie were great: they were larger than life and realistic: the Capitol was huge, ultra modern bustling with futurism and colours (due to the strange fashion choice of its inhabitants), the forest was lush and jungle-like, and again the districts were grey and desolate. I think they did a wonderful job creating the visual framework for the story.

Then let's talk about the actors. Once again without having read the books I had no expectations as to what the characters should look like, so I was easier to please than die hard fans I guess. I was utterly satisfied with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, they couldn't have chosen anyone who could have done Katniss better I think She was tough yet vulnerable, had integrity, blackbone, courage, stubbornness and yet remained friendly, approachable and compassionate. Her portrayal of Katniss felt natural and real. 

During the years I've been blogging I kept seeing all the Team Peeta - Team Gale battles and though I knew it was about a love triangle I didn't know anything about the characters. So I was excited to finally be introduced to them thanks to the movie, and once again based only on the movie I am a definite Team Gale fan.


Liam Hemsworth looked the part of Gale for me (I love tall and dark best friend love interests), pity he only had a couple of scenes, but I can't wait to see him get more screen time in the 2nd movie.

And now we come to my one complaint about the movie: the casting of Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. 


Once again I don't know what Peeta should have looked like, but despite finding Josh nice and intelligent in his interviews, he just wasn't it for me. Maybe it's the same in the books, but in the movie we have no idea if anything he does or says to Katniss is actually genuine and true or if he just says and does that to gain the sympathy and support of the public. I couldn't get to like his character because he seemed dishonest and manipulative and weak, he did nothing neither to protect himself or Katniss. He was said to be extremely strong and well we haven't really seen any proof of that (only the ball tossing scene but nothing later to defend himself, he was always in need of Katniss' help). Though Josh's performance was credible for these, he looked smaller than Jennifer Lawrence and sounding shallow (but come on with authors looks are important), I didn't find him handsome or cute at all (though his Peeta-blond hair suits him better than his natural dark brown one).

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy was a riot! He was a great addition to the movie, always livening up the scenes he was in, I can't wait to see how his character is in the books!

Lenny Krevitz as Cinna was an unexpected surprise, he brought gentleness to the story and I didn't even know he acted, but he was great (loved his golden eyeliner lol)!

And I have to praise once more the visual imagery of the movie: the chariot scene when Katniss and Peeta arrive in flames, and Katniss flaming dress were done stunningly!!

(My other complaint is more about the story: I always like references to ancient cultures and mythologies, but Suzanne Collins naming her characters Seneca, Cato and the country Panem (Latin for bread) was a bit too repetitive for me, and would have expected more originality than naming everything after ancient Roman historical figures.)

The soundtrack of the movie was wonderful, it blended beautifully with the film and yet remained distinctive enough so that the viewer notices it.

I know it had its purpose, but at the beginning up until the Reaping the camera and shooting were very jerky and shaky, made me nauseous.

All in all a very entertaining and visually exceptional movie that I believe even if you haven't read the books you will enjoy, a near perfect adaptation!

Plot: 9/10
Cast: 8/10
Acting: 10/10
Visual: 10/10
Soundtrack: 9/10

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Book Review: Table For One by Ros Clarke

Title: Table For One
Author: Ros Clarke
Release Date: 14 February 2012
Number of pages: 52 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Source: review copy provided by publisher
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Excerpt

Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!

Goodreads appetizer: Table For One is a short, contemporary romance from Entangled Publishing's exciting new Flirts line.

When food critic Claudia Thomas gets dumped on Valentine’s Day, she finds herself occupying a table for one at London’s hottest new restaurant. If her job wasn’t on the line, she’d skip the whole affair, but her editor’s waiting for a review—and with luck, an interview with sexy chef Ward Nicholls.

Ward, intrigued by the single woman in a restaurant full of couples, sets out to tease her palate. Claudia has never tasted anything so luscious as the special meal Ward prepares for her, but when the seduction moves from the restaurant to his bedroom, Claudia discovers the only thing more tempting than his food is the chef himself.

Their connection is instantaneous, sizzling, and spicy—until Claudia comes clean about her job, reopening a wound Ward had thought long-healed. Could one accidental lie of omission end a delicious relationship before it even has a chance to start?

My Thoughts: One tends to be sceptic when they see that a story is only 52 pages long, wondering how anyone could tell a good story with a beginning and an end, developed characters, detailed and rich writing, in short a riveting and enchanting story that doesn't leave the reader unsatisfied? Well I can only say that after you read Table for One by Ros Clarke (a mere morsel of story if you only look at its page count) you won't be a sceptic anymore. She demonstrates how it can be done and does it masterfully!

Claudia has one of the best jobs in the world (at leats in my opinion): she is a restaurant critic. She spends her days and nights eating out at fashionable restaurants, sampling their specialties and then writing about her enjoyment of the meals. That's how she meets Ward, one of London's top chef and "Seventh Sexiest Man in London".
What could she say in her review? The scallop was delicious, especially when served by the sexiest man she’d ever met. If he were the Seventh Sexiest Man in London, what on earth were the top six like? They probably gave women spontaneous orgasms on sight.

Ward besides being a droolworthy male specimen, is an incredibly creative and visionary chef. His goal is not just to create succulent and extraordinary culinary treats but bring people to experience emotions through eating his creations.
He couldn’t serve the Valentine’s Night menu to a woman who’d been stood up. She didn’t need food to fall in love to. She needed food to make her feel fabulous. He had just the thing in mind.
“You didn’t just like that food, Claudia. You let it seduce you.” He was wrong. She hadn’t just let his food seduce her; she’d let it thoroughly debauch her. And she had enjoyed every moment.

The culinary seduction is masterfullly interwoven with the romantic one giving the reader a feast for the senses. Ros Clarke's evocative descriptions of gourmet meals and especially the characters' enjoyment of these succulent bites will give you goosebumps and shivers of excitement and pleasure by proxy. 

Besides the wonderfully vivid descriptions that brought the gourmet creations to life at times there was no transition between the scenes, it didn't really hinder the reading experience, just made the story not that fluent.

Verdict: If you only have half an hour or an hour and want to sink your teeth into a well developed entertaining story Table For One is the perfect choice, I'm sure you won't find anything lacking with the story, though you most certainly will be left craving some delicious treats ;-) Table For One is an explosion of the senses, a virtual orgasm for the tastebuds. It was a culinary and sensual experience, if only I could have tasted some of the foods Claudia sampled *sighs* (or look at the delicious eyecandy that Ward is ;-)

Plot: 10/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 9/10 - Great ending, sexy and flirty, left me with a happy sigh :-) (And the reuinion scene was pure genius, completely original.fresh and witty)
Cover: 8/10

Buy it:

Friday, 23 March 2012

Interview with Ros Clark + Giveaway

I love delicious meals. I love preparing them just as much as devouring them. My love for culinary pleasures is no secret, I am proud of it as my Sunday Treats feature and my bio over at Book Lovers Inc. proves. And then there are books which combine my love for a sizzling romance and tastebud titillating experience in a unique and exciting mix. Such treat is Table for One, and I am very happy today to welcome its author Ros Clarke to the blog and ask her some of my most pressing and of course food related questions. Join us for the ride to learn more about Ros and her characters and you could also win a copy of Table for One! (Just a warning: don't read this post if you're hungry, all the food talk and delicious photos will make you suffer ;-)

Stella: Hi Ros, welcome to Ex Libris! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Ros: Hi Stella and thanks for inviting me!

I’m Ros and I’m a writer. That still feels like a very weird thing to say since I’ve only been published since December 2011. In the rest of my time, I’m a PhD student and a church worker. I live in England, in a tiny cottage in the country with roses growing outside the back door. I spend far too much time knitting, sewing, spinning and watching daytime TV.

Stella: Your latest novel Table for One is a short and deliciously succulent read, can you tell readers what they can expect of it?

Ros: They can expect a fun, sexy romance with lots and lots of fabulous food. Seriously, don’t read it on a diet. Or you know, read it if you’re on a diet because it doesn’t contain any actual calories!

Stella: Ward is a ruggedly handsome chef who besides being cover model-like gorgeous is an incredibly sensual and creative man in the kitchen while the heroine Claudia is a food critic, could you tell readers a bit about them to pique their interest?

Ward on Claudia: She’s bossy, mouthy, can’t cook and she’s sometimes economical with the truth at completely the wrong moment. But she’s also incredibly sexy, knows how to appreciate good food, and she’s very fun to tease. Oh, and did I mention sexy?

Claudia on Ward: He’s a genius. In the kitchen and the bedroom. And the sitting room and the bathroom. And one memorable time on the stairs, though my back didn’t appreciate that the next day. But seriously, he’s a brilliant, brilliant chef. His bacon sandwich is to die for. Oh, and he does these little chocolate wafers that just melt on your tongue.

Ward: See what I mean about mouthy?

Claudia: She wanted to know what I think about you. It’s difficult to be brief.

Ward: I managed it.

Claudia: To be honest, I thought your attempt was a bit half-hearted. Couldn’t you have told her about my brilliant journalistic career?

Ward: I’m trying to forget that.

Claudia: You’re supposed to be coming to terms with it.

Ward: I’ll need a little more help with that.

Claudia: What sort of help?

Ward: The sort that happens in the kitchen, the bedroom, the sitting room and the bathroom. Thanks for sharing that with everyone, by the way.

Claudia: She wanted to know about you!

Ward: She didn’t need to know the details of our sex life.

Claudia: I didn’t mention our sex life. I was talking about your cooking.

Ward: Economical with the truth. Told you so.

Stella: Table for One is extremely short, what were the hardships/challenges of telling a story in only 52 pages? Why did you choose to write with such length limitations?

Ros: I meant it to be longer! I knew Entangled were looking for Valentine’s stories for their Ever After line which is 20-40,000 words. But Table for One ended up at 11,000. I always write short. I think it’s my academic training that’s so used to editing out all extraneous words. I like short stories because you can focus on one scene and one point of conflict and they don’t require any complicated plotting!

Stella: Do you have a favourite scene in Table for One? (Or which one was the hardest to write?)

Ros: I loved writing all the foodie scenes, but especially the first one in the restaurant where Ward is seducing Claudia with his menu. I had so much fun thinking about how the food would taste and feel. It was a great way to have her fall for him practically before she’d met him.

Stella: Did you do any research for Table for One? Any good restaurant visits, discovered any new favourite meals? :-)

Ros: Sadly, my budget doesn’t quite run to eating in restaurants like Ward’s! I did a lot of searching online and I was very inspired by Heston Blumenthal who is an extraordinarily experimental chef. I would love to have the chance to eat in his restaurant, The Fat Duck, one day. None of the dishes in Table for One are copied exactly from any of the menus I looked at, but it was good to get the inspiration. I’d love to try and recreate the caramelised kumquats with vanilla cream one day. And I’m still working on the perfect bacon sandwich!

Stella: The way you wrote the scenes involving food, tasting and eating not only made my mouth water but gave me goosebumps, it is clear you have a deep appreciation for delicious treats, what is a favourite meal of yours?

Ros: I have so many favourite meals, depending on my mood! I do like to try new and different things but I still love the old favourites, too. Probably top of my list would be rare roast beef, served with roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings and horseradish sauce. Followed by something wickedly chocolately and gooey. I do genuinely love eating. I enjoy the way that textures, flavours, scents and colours combine in the whole experience. I think it’s sad when food is reduced to simply function and fuel, or when people have begun to think of food as the enemy in the search for health and/or physical beauty.

Stella: Do you cook? Any special recipe you could share with us?

Ros: I do cook, though not as much as I used to, but I’m very bad with recipes. Mostly I just make it up as I go along. One recipe I have been enjoying a lot recently is the Magic No-Knead Bread:

12 oz strong flour (can be white, wholemeal, spelt, etc. as you choose)
1 sachet easy-blend dried yeast
pinch of salt
125 ml warm water

Put it all into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. The dough will be quite sticky. Then cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm place overnight.

Put a cast-iron lidded casserole dish into the oven and heat to 220°C for about 40 minutes. Remove casserole, scrape dough into the dish, replace the lid and put back into the oven. After 30 minutes remove the lid. Cook for a further 30 minutes until done.

Leave to cool for as long as you can resist, before slicing, slathering with butter and eating.

Stella: Can you share with us one of your most memorable food memories? (I ate the most perfect crème brulée at Azay-le-Rideau when we were visiting the châteaux of the valley of the Loire, whenever I see a crème brulée, flan or crème caramel on a menu I can’t help but recall that taste orgasm! :-)

Ros: Mmmm, crème brulée. Sorry, what was the question?

Oh, yes. Food memories. I ate cactus once. That was less exciting than you’d expect, to be honest. I lived in Philadelphia for a couple of years and had an amazing meal at Fogo de Chao. You get two courses: salad from a truly incredible salad bar, and meat. They bring the meat round continuously and carve it at the table straight onto your plate. There are side dishes to go with it – and the polenta was the best I’ve ever had – but the meal is all about the meat, and it is SO GOOD. Admittedly, after a meal there you don’t need to eat for a week, but it’s so worth it. In fact, I might need to go back…

Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule?

Ros: I have an Indulgence coming out from Entangled in May featuring a gorgeously sexy sheikh and a Scottish oil executive. I’m hoping to have another short story out for the summer and I have plans for an Indulgence later in the year too, hopefully. So I’ll be busy!


Table For One by Ros Clarke

Table For One is a short, contemporary romance from Entangled Publishing's exciting new Flirts line.

When food critic Claudia Thomas gets dumped on Valentine’s Day, she finds herself occupying a table for one at London’s hottest new restaurant. If her job wasn’t on the line, she’d skip the whole affair, but her editor’s waiting for a review—and with luck, an interview with sexy chef Ward Nicholls.

Ward, intrigued by the single woman in a restaurant full of couples, sets out to tease her palate. Claudia has never tasted anything so luscious as the special meal Ward prepares for her, but when the seduction moves from the restaurant to his bedroom, Claudia discovers the only thing more tempting than his food is the chef himself.

Their connection is instantaneous, sizzling, and spicy—until Claudia comes clean about her job, reopening a wound Ward had thought long-healed. Could one accidental lie of omission end a delicious relationship before it even has a chance to start?

More details and an excerpt are available here.

Buy it at Amazon (US), B&N, Amazon (UK)


Ros is a writer, a student, a church worker, a crafter, a blogger, a twitterer, a lazy gardener, and an appalling housekeeper. She lives in a sixteenth century shed in England and is very glad that it has twenty-first century plumbing. She is interested in almost everything except cricket and football (US and UK) and mostly she likes happy endings in fiction and in real life.

Ros has been writing stories for as long as she can remember, never dreaming that other people would be interested in reading them. A few years ago, she discovered a writing forum on the internet, and has never looked back. Her head—and her hard drive—are full of ideas for fresh, fun, contemporary romances that she hopes you’ll love as much as she does.

You can also find Ros on Twitter, at Goodreads, on Pinterest, and at her own blog. Come and say hi!


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Entangled Publishinhg has generously offered an ebook copy of Table for One to a lucky commenter!

All you have to do is

1) leave a comment and answer Ros' question and tell us: What was the most romantic meal you ahve ever had?

2) leave me a way to contact you (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway ends on 30 March 2012 and is open worldwide!

Good luck!

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