Friday, 31 August 2012

Book Review: A Wild Night's Bride by Victoria Vane

Title: A Wild Night's Bride
Author: Victoria Vane
Series: Book #1 in the Devil DeVere series
Release Date: 25 April 2012
Number of pages: 105 pages
Publisher: Breathless Press
Source: ebook provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: WITH THE DEVIL IN CHARGE...THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY...

What happens when a struggling actress and a grieving widower come together in a night of unbridled debauchery orchestrated by a bored and machinating rake?

She’s a lonely lady down on her luck...

Phoebe Scott, alias Kitty Willis, is a struggling Covent Garden actress with a bruised heart and a closely guarded secret.

He’s steadfast and eminently respectable...

Sir Edward Chambers, Ned to his intimates, is guilt-ridden over his beloved wife’s death and avowed to live out a rustic and mundane life … of celibacy.

With the devil in charge — there will surely be hell to pay. Devil in disguise, Viscount Ludovic DeVere, is determined to return his best friend, Ned, to the land of the living. His meddling machinations result in a night of mind blowing passion after which “dull dog Ned” awakes to find himself in the King of England’s bed!

A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE, a sexy, rollicking Georgian romp.

My Thoughts: Recently I discussed seeing a new sub-genre emerging: that of the erotic historical romance, and Victoria Vane's Devil DeVere series fits the bill. A Wild Night's Bride is the first in the series, the introductory novella where we get to meet the Devil DeVere and his best friend, widowed and still mourning solitary Ned.

Viscount Ludovic DeVere (alias The Devil DeVere) is notorious for his roguish partying ways, enjoying life at the fullest, so he can't stand to see his good friend still moping and alone after years have gone by since the death of his wife, so he takes matters into his own hands and starts some machinations to find him a companion to cheer him up.

Despite the short length of the novella I was satisfied with the characterisations Victoria Vane provided for the hero and heroine, both were likable, sympathetic characters. But what came as a surprise was discovering how, despite his awfully debauched ways, I grew to like Viscount Ludovic DeVere. It was clear that he had a good, generous heart even if he had a problem even spelling monogamy. *cough*

Victoria Vane gave us a vivid and colourful historical setting and the love scenes were truly scorching but what was a bonus for me was that A Wild Night's Bride besides being a hot novella is also a romantic story.

“You’re trembling,” she whispered. She gazed up into his face, and what she saw made her heart seize.
“Because I want you so much, my bloody teeth ache! My entire being is about to explode for want of you!”

Although the story was quite well paced I found the language often archaic which made the dialogues a bit lumpy.

I had one minor but crucial doubt regarding the plot: Ned is 36 years old and his daughter is about to become 18. I found it unusual that he got married at such a young age (barely 17-18) back then, when men were encouraged to experiment and gain some knowledge in the way of the world before setting down to produce heirs...

I found the research Victoria Vane carried out impressive: from the Venus feast (which was a memorable and stunning scene) to the blueprint of St. James palace, the fictional story was peppered with actual historical tidbits which I enjoyed a lot.

Verdict: A Wild Night's Bride is a nice quick bite of a story. It is a light and entertaining, steamy romp with a vivid and colourful historical setting and plenty of hot scenes!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 7/10
Cover: 7/10

Order of the series:

Book #1 - A Wild Night's Bride - only $0.99
Book #2 - The Virgin Huntress
Book #3 - The Devil You Know
Book #4 - The Devil's Match

Buy at:

Interview with Kristin Miller + Giveaway


Stella: Hi Kristin, welcome back to Ex Libris! Since you were here last time in July, sadly summer has ended :-( Did you make the most of it, did you go on some great vacation?

Kristin: Hi Stella! Thanks for having me back. I went on a few vacations to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to Santa Cruz beach, and to Los Angeles. My summer was wonderfully jam-packed. :-)

Stella: Last Vamp Standing, the third novel in your Vampires of Crimson Bay series will be released on August 28th, congratulations! Could you give a short introduction to the Vampires of Crimson Bay series for those readers who aren’t familiar with it yet?

Kristin: Thanks! The series started with InterVamption and a blood war between vampires and shape-shifters (therians) in Crimson Bay. But as villains rose up, hell bent on exterminating vamps in the area, the vampires who remained were forced to stand together to fight back.

Stella: And now for the seasoned fans can you tell us what Last Vamp Standing is about? Any good, titillating scene or excerpt you’d like to share? Or just some teaser lines? ;-)

Kristin: Tortured by demonic voices, Dante's soul is as black as they come. But when he meets Ariana—an innocent vampire fighting demons of her own—he second-guesses everything he's ever known about sacrifice, passion, and soul-scorching love. Before Dante wages war against Crimson Bay's greatest threat, he must make a choice: love Ariana the way she deserves, risking her life in the process—or fight to protect her, unleashing the monster he's determined to bury.

Excerpt: I’m taking you to the middle of Last Vamp Standing, after Dante has been wounded while protecting Ariana. She’s able to pull energy from her haven and heal others. She’s healing Dante, sparking his muscles back to life, and lifts the sheet off his lap…

“Good Lord,” she whispered, cupping her hand to her mouth.

Her gaze shot to his. She gasped, letting the sheet drop against him.

“Oh, you’re, ah, you’re awake,” Ariana stumbled. “I didn’t think—”

She tried to dart off the bed, but thanks to the magic behind her touch, the strength in Dante’s upper body had returned. In a surge of speed, Dante swung Ariana over the top of him. Her body was warm—just as warm as he’d imagined it to be—her breath coating his face in a rich wave of sugary sweetness.

“Let me go,” she said, but her words lacked conviction. And she didn’t move a muscle.

“Not yet.” He maneuvered her legs so she was lying over him hip to hip, chest to chest. The pressure of her body felt oddly comforting. Like he’d fly off the mattress without her to ground him there. The fact that only a sheet separated their bodies added gasoline to his smoldering fire.

Ariana propped herself on her hands. “How long have you been awake?” “Not long. Just enough to catch a glimpse of your voyeurish ways.” He laughed as she smacked him in the chest. “There are places you can go to get help with that, you know.”

She tsk’d in disgust and pushed against the arms he’d wrapped behind her back. If she wanted off the bed, he’d release her no problem. But there was not a hint of fight in her eyes, and a blush had crept to her cheeks.

“I was only checking to see if you were healing properly.” She cleared her throat awkwardly—the mark of a truly horrible liar. “To see if you had movement in your legs.”

“You definitely got something moving, but it’s not my legs.”

Stella: The description of Last Vamp Standing sounds quite dark, would you say this is the most somber story in the series?

Kristin: I wouldn’t say the book is somber, I’d say it’s grittier. The hero is tortured by demonic voices that urge him to do terrible things. The book is about his journey to overcoming that and the threat that places on the heroine…especially since her haven is going to be under attack and they’ll need the fire inside him to roar.

Stella: Would you like to introduce us the hero and heroine of Last Vamp Standing

Kristin: Ariana—vampire elder, innocent on the outside-seductress on the inside, long brown hair that’s usually tied back in a braid, brown doe eyes. Dante—half-vampire, half-unknown genes, dark hair that falls down in front of his face, eyes that swirl gold when he’s hungry, feeds on sex and violence.

Stella: Do you have a favourite scene in Last Vamp Standing either because the words just flew or to the contrary since writing it was so hard and challenging but ultimately the end result makes it all worthwhile?

Kristin: I absolutely love the final fight scene. Since it’s the culmination of all three books in the series coming together and reaching that elusive end, I think there was more emotion behind it. Fight scenes have always been my favorite to write (and action movies are my favorite to watch), but this one was special.

Stella: Will there be more stories (novels or novellas) in the Vampires of Crimson Bay series

Kristin: As of right now, there are no plans to extend the series past Last Vamp Standing. I may do spin-off books in the same world, but nothing is set in stone.

Stella: There are many vampire heroes and paranormal romances featuring vamps, what would you say, why is your Vampires of Crimson Bay series different than the others? In what way is it unique?

Kristin: The vampires in Crimson Bay are born, not turned. A vampire bite won’t change you into a vampire—it’ll only turn you on, if you’re into that sort of thing. They’re just like every other living creature in this world, only they live hidden from the rest of the world because of the unfair stigma that’s associated with vampires and the drinking of blood. Also, I’ve added shape-shifters (therians) into the mix, and another race that’s revealed in Last Vamp Standing.

Stella: Who is your favourite vampire character either in a book, movie, TV series, comic book, etc? And why?

Kristin: I absolutely love Selene from the Underworld series. She’s a no nonsense kind of girl who can kick ass and hold her own. But when she meets Michael, not only do they become more powerful as a team, but she becomes stronger as well.

Stella: Can you tell us what we should expect from you, or would you like to share with us any of your future plans?

Kristin: I’m currently writing two erotic paranormal novellas for Harlequin. The first two in the Isle of Feralon series (Claimed by Desire and Forbidden by Fate) came out earlier this year. The next two will release sometime in 2013. I also have another paranormal series in the works, but you’ll have to stay updated at www.kristinmiller.net.

Last Vamp Standing by Kristin Miller

No choice but to kill…

Tortured by demonic voices, Dante’s soul is as black as they come. But when he meets Ariana—an innocent seductress who’s fighting demons of her own—Dante second guesses everything he’s ever known about sacrifice, passion and soul-scorching love.

He can’t love her and protect her…

Before Dante wages war against Crimson Bay’s greatest threat, he must make a choice: love Ariana the way she deserves, risking her life in the process—or fight to protect her, unleashing the monster he’s determined to bury.



Kristin Miller has had a passion for language and literature her whole life. Born and raised in Small Town USA, she often made up stories about faraway places and edge-of-your-seat adventures. 

After graduating from Humboldt State University with a degree in psychology, Kristin realized there is no scarier place than the warped human psyche. Wanting to combine her love of writing with her desire to paint twisted villains, Kristin wound up in the unlikeliest of places—the classroom. She taught high school and middle school English before giving in to the desire to create her own world, where villains can be sympathetic and heroes can be devilishly good.

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




GIVEAWAY RULES:


• Two random commenters from the tour will win their choice of either a Kindle or Nook format eBook of Last Vamp Standing.

• The tour host with the most comments will receive a Kindle or Nook format eBook of Last Vamp Standing.

• Please leave a comment along with your broken up email addy.

• Winner will be randomly selected and notified via email.

The more tour stops you comment on, the greater your chances of winning! Follow the tour HERE.

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 7 September 2012!

Good luck!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Book Review: The System by Heather Lin

Title: The System
Author: Heather Lin
Release Date: 11 August 2012
Number of pages: 177 pages
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Source: ebook provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Capri is an alluring young prostitute with a painful past; Brody is a ruthless mercenary running with a crew of thieves who live on a spaceship called Gypsy Lass. When he enters her brothel, the attraction between them is instant, electric, and too much for him to handle. He leaves unsatisfied, never wanting to see the girl again for fear she might soften his hard heart.

But Brody's captain has other ideas. The crew attempts to rob the brothel, and when things don’t go quite as planned, they take Capri hostage, forcing her and Brody to remain in close quarters until they see fit to drop her on another planet.

But Capri's plight and the intense feelings between her and Brody turn out to be the least of their problems. Together--whether they like it or not--they uncover realizations not only about themselves but also about the world they live in.

My Thoughts: Though I'm still quite the sci-fi newbie when I read the above blurb of The System my interest was piqued, but I never would have thought The System would remind me so much of the setting of Joss Whedon's Firefly, so if you are a fan of the series you absolutely have to pick up The System and experience the journey Heather Lin will take you on.

The System is an action packed, thrilling story, where neither the characters nor the reader get one minute break, there is always something happening, danger lurking, some accident befalling the characters, so be prepared that your pulse will race and your nails won't survive the adventure intact. But wellbeing of nails aside this was a terrific and exciting story.

Through Heather Lin's writing the scenes and settings took shape and I had absolutely no problem picturing them. Although Heather Lin gave us a short summary of how the world and society came to be the way it is in the universe of The System, there were only mentions of some of the technological achievements (how cars are floating, people read books via their thin screen-like "readers", etc.) and I would have gladly seen more of those differences which made this future world more modern.

Besides the constant action taking place, The System is also a love story. Though not your usual kind of romance: here the hero is kind of rough, at times even rude, there is no gentle wooing and no romantic lovemaking but don't mistakenly think that due to the lack of these normal ingredients of romance The System falls short, because it does not. The intensity, the gritty setting emphasizes those moments when two people's eyes meet and you feel through that heartbeat that there is more to that look, that there is a connection, something deeper than can be seen on the surface.

Capri is not your usual heroine: she is working as a prostitute in a brothel and until the brothel is raided she even seems to be enjoying her life there: the comfort, the riches, the easy life. But once she experiences life on the Gypsy Lass, how it feels to have friends, to be part of a team and have people count on her she starts to feel what it's like to belong.

There, she'd felt more like a useful doll, made to look pretty and provide pleasure, even taking pride in it. But she'd never felt exactly human, exactly herself. Here, even though she was trapped on this hard, metal ship, she somehow felt freer.

I think the way she adopted to this riskier, adventurous new life was quite admirable of her. She never whined, she truly wanted to prove herself to the team that she could be a full fledged member of their crew. I found Capri a great heroine, while being soft and feminine she had strength and backbone, dignity.

Brody is a complex and (both physically and emotionally) scarred man. Though he tries to scare Capri away because as he constantly tells her he isn't a good man (and also because the emerging emotions he feels for her scare him too much), he just can't fight his protectiveness when it comes to her:

He wanted to protect her. Always. He needed to feel her, smell her, know she was safe. He didn't allow himself to feel afraid, to have that weakness. So instead of admitting how scared he was of losing her, he remained angry at the thought, angry at all the bastards on the planet who had ever looked at her wrong, angry at everything. But he needed to keep himself in check. It would be much easier to keep her safe if she wanted to be around him.
Then he held her, listened to her shaky breathing, and felt her speedy heartbeat. And somewhere along the way, he finally gave in. He wasn't strong enough to push her away. He just hoped he'd be strong enough to keep her alive and whole.

Their romance is not an easy one. Neither of them had an easy life, both had lost loved ones, lived through rough times. Brody is a man's man: not the touchy-feely, talking about his emotions kind of man. He has a hard time facing and accepting his feelings for Capri, and through his realization he is at times rude, hurtful and even at times a jerk. But he is a complex character and I think the way Heather Lin drew his personality the reader gets why he is acting the way he does and we can even overlook some of his transgressions.

Verdict: The System is a thrilling, action packed sci-fi romance fans of Firefly will adore. It will keep you at the edge of your seat and make you chew off your nails while reading through the characters' exciting adventures. I really hope this is part of a series and we'll see the crew of the Gypsy Lass again!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 9/10 - suits the story perfectly

Buy at:


Tessa Dare Blog Tour - 1st stop + GIVEAWAY

ETA: As @betts_t never got back to me, the new winner is Amanda Martin! Congratulations!

The lucky winner is @betts_t! Congrats!

A Lady by Midnight, Book #3 in Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove's series was released on August 28,  woohoo! And to celebrate the release Avon Books have planned something special: a one-day blog tour with lots of fun posts and giveaways!

Five stops in five hours, with wonderful prizes! You can find the schedule, links and list of the prizes here. Each blog stop will last an hour so hurry, keep your eyes on the clock and follow Tessa and her characters around the blogosphere!

As Ex Libris is the very 1st stop on the blog tour, here is the first exclusive post and giveaway:


Thorne: What is this? Where are we?

Kate: On a blog! Isn’t it lovely? We’re being sent on tour as part of the Avon Books publicity campaign. I’ve always wanted to do the Grand Tour.

Thorne: I thought I was done with tours and campaign, now that the war’s over.

Kate: Oh, this is so much more fun than a military campaign. And much less frightening.

Thorne, looking around uneasily: If you say so.

Kate: Oh, you. You’re always so gruff with new people. This tour is going to be a disaster if the ladies of the Internet don’t fall in love with you. We have to let them see your softer side.

Thorne: I don’t have a softer side. And no right-thinking woman should fall in love with me.

Kate: Pfft. You are impossible. Fortunately, I know just what to do. You need a meme.

Thorne: A meme? What the devil is a meme?

Kate: You’ve never heard of LOLcats?

Thorne: LOL-what?

Kate, sighing: Well, it’s an Internet thing, with a picture and captions. The definitions aren’t important. Done right, a meme can make you wildly famous and endear you to people everywhere!

Thorne: Right. Sure it can.

Kate: Don’t dismiss it so hastily. It worked for this gentleman.

See more on Know Your Meme

Thorne: Him?

Kate: Him. Overnight, he went from little-known NASA scientist to every geek girl’s heartthrob. That’s it, Thorne. It’s decided. You’re getting a meme. It’s only a matter of finding the right one…


The story continues at SmexyBooks at 1PM EDT!

While Kate thinks about memes for Thorne, perhaps you have suggestions? Any favorite memes of your own? Or perhaps you couldn’t care less about memes, in which case Thorne would be delighted to hear it.

A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare

Book #3 in the Spindle Cove series

A temporary engagement, a lifetime in the making...

After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove--but she never stopped yearning for love. The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne. The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome. But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiance. He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate’s happiness. He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him. To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life...and the first he seems destined to lose.



GIVEAWAY RULES:

For a chance to win a $25 gift card to an online bookseller of winner’s choice, leave a comment below answering Tessa's question: Do you have any meme suggestions? Any favorite memes of your own? Or you don't acre for memes?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends at 1 pm EDT today!

So hurry, comment away!

Giveaway is closed, the winner is @betts_t! Amanda Martin!

Notification has been sent, you have 24 hrs to get back to me.

Guest post by Heather Lin + Giveaway

Today I would like to introduce you to Heather Lin's newest release, The System, an exciting and action packed sci-fi romance, which will enchant and delight Firefly fans! Read on to discover some of the behind the scenes secrets and share your thoughts you could even win some prizes!


Fade to Black
by Heather Lin

Hello, everyone! I’m so excited to be here at Ex Libris to tell you all about my new science fiction romance novel, The System. If you like action, adventure, and dark, passionate romances set in yet undiscovered worlds, this is the book for you!

But, as I said, The System is definitely a dark romance. It’s not your typical, lighthearted story of two people stuck in a minor predicament finding a way past their personal obstacles to live happily ever after. It’s the story of a gunslinger—who finds his job very fulfilling—and of a prostitute—who wants out of the business—ending up in close quarters by chance, finding a volatile beginning to their romance, and only ever managing to live happily for now.

Because The System is unlike any romance novel that I, personally, have come in contact with, I found myself wondering at times: How dark is too dark for a romance? Brody and Capri are thrown together when the brothel employees are massacred and the crew of the spaceship Gypsy Lass, which employs Brody as their mercenary, basically kidnaps her. They treat her decently, but they’re thieves by trade, so of course danger is a part of their daily lives. There are stab wounds, gunshot wounds, and, in one instance, the loss of a limb. People die. Capri, young and beautiful as she is, finds herself attacked by men on three different occasions. The rebel planets are barely governed, and Alcatraz, after all, is a planet of nothing but criminals.

Brody himself, who makes a living from violence, doesn’t know what to do with his feelings and is therefore less than gallant where Capri is concerned. And they both have their own distinctly painful pasts that they struggle to overcome as the story progresses.

But underneath all the darkness and violence, there is a fantastic love story. When Brody finally gives into his emotions, he loves and protects Capri as fiercely as he attempted to resist her. Capri learns exactly how to maneuver the stormy emotions of a hard man like Brody and, at the same time, finds her place in the world(s).

The System is exciting, compelling, and original. I’m insanely proud of it. But I am curious as to how readers might respond to a romance novel that’s just a bit more grim than most.

Please share your thoughts below!

Everyone who comments and leaves their e-mail will be entered to win a $5 Starbucks gift card as well as a one of a kind bracelet engraved with a quote from The System. The gift card winner will be announced tomorrow, and the winner of the bracelet will be announced on my own blog September 1st.

Thanks for stopping by!


Heather currently resides in Delaware with her loving husband and beloved cat. She began writing romance and erotica in 2008 and hasn't been able to keep her mind out of the gutter since. 

Like Heather Lin on Facebook, Goodreads or visit her blog for updates, talented guest bloggers, and the occasional piece of free fiction!

The System by Heather Lin

Capri is an alluring young prostitute with a painful past; Brody is a ruthless mercenary for a crew of thieves from the spaceship Gypsy Lass. When he enters her brothel, the attraction between them is instant, electric, and too much for him to handle. After a robbery gone wrong, the crew takes Capri hostage, forcing her and Brody to remain in close quarters until they see fit to drop her on another planet.

But Capri's plight and the intense feelings between her and Brody turn out to be the least of their problems. Together—whether they like it or not—they uncover a secret no one in the whole System could have expected.

Excerpt (Unedited)

Year 564 after the Migration

Brody walked along a quiet street on the outskirts of New York on Earth one. A car zoomed by every few minutes. The newest ones were held aloft over the street by opposing magnetic charges; others were navigating themselves as the drivers fixed their hair or ate their lunch; and the cheapest ones necessitated the driver to attempt to handle the controls while fixing their hair or eating their lunch. He glanced over to admire a new Ford Mustang before opening the door to a small, neatly-kept building.

On the outside, it looked like a nice, upscale bar, but the inside would have shocked any upper-class drink connoisseur. There was loud yelling and catcalling, beer splashed out of mugs, and scantily-clad girls sat around, waiting for their turn to dance on poles. Brody grinned and rubbed a hand over the stubble of his chin. This was his kind of place.

"Good evening, sir." At the intrusion of the male voice, Brody tore his eyes away from the dancing girls. "Will you be needing service tonight?"

"Yeah, how much?" Brody replied to the short, well-dressed man.

"Depends on who you like. Sit down and have a drink." He smiled accommodatingly. "There isn't any hurry to decide."

Brody gave a short nod before heading to the bar. He watched the girls for a while, took in the scenery. There were older girls who were too faded for his liking and younger girls who were too fake. He was well into his second beer before he saw one that really made him want to open his wallet.

She was coming out of one of the side rooms, tugging a heavy-set, bald-headed man by his hand. They were laughing and chatting, and by the flush of their cheeks, they had just finished something hot and heavy. The girl was a young one, barely old enough to be called a woman, with a slim figure and long chestnut curls that were scattered with braids and beads. She must have felt Brody looking at her and met his gaze for a brief moment. Brody gave her a grin and signaled to the brothel's manager. He came over to the bar with the scheduling window already up on the screen in his hand.

"Have you come to a decision?"

"Yeah. That pretty brunette there." He waved a hand in the girl's direction.

"Capri. She's a very good choice. But I'm sorry to say that was her last customer. Our girls only take five per day. They need their rest. Would you like to choose another one or make an appointment for tomorrow?"

"I think I can handle another one, Guy," said an alluring female voice.

Capri had escorted her last customer to the exit before approaching the bar. The barkeep handed her a glass of water, and she kept her eyes locked on Brody as she took a sip, examining him, sizing him up. He was keenly aware of his unshaven face, ratty jeans, and the gun strapped securely to his hip. But he was unapologetic. He might not be one of her upper-class clients, but he had the money for her. For now, she was his, whether she liked him or not. And by the way she'd jumped to get his pay, he doubted she was fazed by his rough exterior.

"I like the looks of this one," was all she said to Guy by way of explanation before beckoning to Brody and heading back to her room.

"That'll be five hundred," the man told him.

Brody took out his wallet and opened it. A pocket on one side held blank cash cards and the other side held a small scanning device with a numbered keypad. He entered his password and the amount of money and swiped a card. Then he handed it to Guy and followed Capri into seclusion.

She was sitting on the edge of a double bed, her long, smooth legs crossed, waiting for him. Dark curls fell elegantly over the satin fabric of her red dressing gown, and her hazel eyes gleamed green in the overhead lighting. She was the image of perfection, and Brody could feel desire pulsing within him. He sat next to her and fingered the smooth fabric of her outfit.

"Red's my favorite color," he said.

"I'm glad you like it."

Capri smiled and reached up to touch his face. He sucked in a breath at the tender gesture.

"It's been a while for you, hasn't it?" she asked softly.

"Don't get the company of women much in my career."

"What career is that?"

"There ain't one in particular," he replied, trying to focus on what he was saying as her fingers traced the muscles of his chest and abdomen. "The crew I run with just does… sorta odd jobs."

"Sounds exciting," Capri murmured, raising her eyes to meet his. "So how about you tell me your name before we get started?"

"Shots," he answered.

"Is that your real name?"

"That's what the boys call me."

"Well, as you can see, I'm not one of the boys." She gestured to her modest, but all-too-appealing curves.

"Brody," he answered after a moment.

"Brody," she repeated softly, grasping the bottom of his shirt and sliding it up over his head.

GIVEAWAY RULES:

As Heather stated above she is curious to hear how readers might respond to a romance novel that’s just a bit more grim than most.

Leave a comment with your thoughts and you'll be entered to win a $5 Starbucks gift card as well as a one of a kind bracelet engraved with a quote from The System.

The gift card winner will be announced on August 31st here, and the winner of the bracelet will be announced on Heather's blog on September 1st.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Book Review: A Study in Seduction by Nina Rowan + GIVEAWAY

Title: A Study in Seduction
Author: Nina Rowan
Series: Book #1 in the Daring Hearts series
Release Date: 28 August 2012
Number of pages: 400 pages
Publisher: Forever
Source: ebook provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle storeBook Depository

Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!

Goodreads appetizer: A Heart Divided

Blessed with an uncanny gift for mathematics, the lovely Lydia Kellaway can solve the most complex puzzles. The one thing she can’t figure out? How to manage the most infuriating man she’s ever encountered.

A Passion Multiplied

Alexander Hall, Viscount Northwood, has purchased a one-of-a-kind locket from a pawnshop, unaware of the priceless sentiment it holds for Lydia. The gentlemanly thing to do would be to simply return it. But Lydia sparks a desire that has Alexander curious to see just how bold this brilliant beauty will be…

A Love Unequaled

What begins as a playful wager quickly escalates into a contest of the minds, a clash of the wills—and a battle of the sexes—as their fiery attraction grows. Even a genius like Lydia can’t account for the feelings Alexander arouses with his smile, or the fire he ignites with his touch. But when a dark family secret is suddenly thrown into the equation, it just might divide them forever.

My Thoughts:  A Study in Seduction is Nina Rowan's debut novel but she enchanted me so well with her captivating storytelling that I'm already counting back the days 'till the release of the next book in her Daring Hearts series!

I have to start with a warning though: I first fell in love with the absolutely stunning cover and then the flirty blurb reinforced my wish to read A Study in Seduction, but now that I had the chance to read the book I think that neither suits the story very well: the heroine is always described as wearing dull black dresses with a strict cut (as she is mourning her father), and she is a serious and determined young woman, not at all this mischievous flirty creature on the cover (and Lydia is about a decade older than the cover model looks like). The tone of the book and the story itself are also a bit darker and emotionally more intense than the flirty cover & blurb would have you expect. Just saying so you know what to expect.

I have read many historical romances but have only come across three, which featured women scientists: Heather Snow's Veiled Seduction series (featuring a woman chemist and a criminologist) and now Nina Rowan's A Study in Seduction, whose heroine Lydia is a brilliant mathematician.

I LOVED how Nina Rowan included bits of equations and mathematical problems into the story making it authentic as if we were indeed witnessing the way Lydia's mind worked. And even though at times I sacrificed stopping to fully comprehend and solve the mathematical riddles and instead read on since the story was so engrossing I still enjoyed how they gave the story more nuance.

Lydia is an utterly unique and admirable heroine: she doesn't care about dresses, dances, flirtation or flowers,  those things other young ladies might, what she cares about is bringing up her little sister the best she can and those riddles and problems which challenge her intellectually. She has lived her whole life as some sort of anomaly due to her talent, and thus was always isolated and lonely, she is used to it, but now she and her sister might lose her deceased's mother pendant, the one her dead father made as an engagement gift for her, she makes everything she can to get it back.

The hero, Alexander Hall, Viscount Northwood was delicious. He was intense and so charismatic, his quiet strength transcended the pages. It was interesting seeing a hero who wasn't conducting himself in a strictly gentlemanly way, he didn't make it easy for Lydia just because she was a woman (the words with which he greets her when they first meet are "Who the bloody hell are you?", so not gentleman-like LOL), but his awe and admiration in front of her amazing talent was heart-warming:

Warmth and pride filled Alexander’s chest. He loved watching her mind work, knowing the complexity of the wheels and gears turning behind her blue eyes. Knowing that every other man in the room must be astonished by her brilliance.

I loved that despite not playing by the obvious gentlemen rules Alexander was honourable and had integrity. He respected Lydia and wanted to protect and cherish her:

Alexander fought a hard but brief battle with his conscience. God knew he wanted her more than he’d ever wanted a woman. Yet he knew the cost of scandal, and it was a price he never wanted Lydia to pay.

And despite him considering himself an ambitious and rather cold man, he definitely had a warm and generous heart, he was a romantic. His proposal made me felt and sigh:
“And you would be an asset to me. Yes, I’ve a duty to marry well, but beyond that we are undeniably compatible. Never have I met a woman like you. A woman with whom I wish to spend my life.”

Nina Rowan's writing was exquisite. It was captivating, enthralling and utterly intelligent yet humorous. She made the heroine's intellect blindingly brilliant, the hero swoon-worthy and wonderfully intense and the chemistry between them so richly sensual and delicious as melted chocolate, mmm:

“Lord Northwood.” God. Even the sound of her voice made his blood hot. Lyrical, with just the slightest bit of a rasp, like a good brandy that slid rich and warm down one’s throat. He wanted to hear the sound of his Christian name in her voice, wanted it to melt against his skin.

Her gaze flew to his. “I beg your pardon?”
“Alexander,” he repeated. His breath stirred the tendrils of hair at her temple. “Say it.” She wanted to. The urge filled her mouth like warm cream. She wanted to give voice to this man’s name, to listen to it flow through the thick, dusty air. She wanted to say it aloud, the sharp X sound slicing the elegant vowels like a knife through soap-soft leather. She wanted to hear the acute consonants scarring the liquidity of the word. She loved Alexander. Loved the name’s imperfection, the melting of soft and hard sounds, the way it trailed off into a purr at the end. She could never think of him as Alex, could never cut short the silver ribbon of his name.
“Lydia.” In his deep voice, her own name acquired new depth, like poetry that only he had the power to explain.

Alexander's mother was Russian, so the Hall siblings have this unusual and somewhat exotic cultural heritage compared to the other English Regency aristocracy, and it certainly adds some subtleties to their outlook on life:

“[...] St. Petersburg is buried under a layer of ice six months out of the year.”
“That’s when you learn another way of living,” Alexander said. His gaze came to rest on Lydia, and then it seemed as if he spoke only to her. “In winter, the sound of troika bells replaces summer birdsong. Candlelight fills the churches, and well- tended stoves keep the houses warm. The theaters host concerts, plays, and operas. There are sleigh races on the frozen Neva. The city holds festivals with music, dancing, skating, puppet shows, ice palaces, vendors selling hot tea and pastries. You can lose yourself in the Hermitage, the cathedrals, the academies. And when you don’t want to be lost, you can find yourself in the white darkness. In the silence.”


Verdict:
 
Both the blurb and the cover made me (and I think it's the same with many other readers) expect a light and flirty historical romance, but in truth A Study in Seduction (even the title sounds light and fun) is intense both regarding the emotional involvement of the characters as well as their past: both the hero and heroine have gone through losses and scandals and it affected their outlook on life. This is not a sunshine and poppies story, but is still utterly delicious. The romance will make your heart squeeze and your pulse race. A Study in Seduction is a wonderfully captivating story with well rounded and memorable characters, sizzling chemistry and highly intelligent storytelling. Let yourself be seduced by Nina Rowan's writing and discover this new wonderful historical romance series about the Hall siblings, I know I'll be impatiently awaiting their release!  

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing: 9/10 - could have done with a bit more precise editing
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 8/10 - although beautiful doesn't really fit the story or the heroine

Buy at:

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery




GIVEAWAY RULES:

Grand Central Publishing has generously offered TWO paperback copies of A Study in Seduction by Nina Rowan to two lucky commenters!


All you need to do is leave a comment and you are entered!

Giveaway is only open to US/CAN shipping and ends on 7 September 2012!

Good luck!

Guest post by Katalina Leon


My name is Katalina Leon and I’m sharing a little bit of The Strix book one of The Bag of Tricks books series co-written with Amber Skyze.

The Strix is a 253 page paranormal, erotic-romance, vampire, parallel worlds tale.

This is the Blurb:
A cursed amber amulet unearthed in Pompeii flings Arcona into a past life of witchcraft, bloodshed, revenge and sexual slavery to the cruel Master of a gladiatorial school. This violent parallel world is populated with “Slayers,” blood-drinking immortals devoted to the gods of war and mayhem.

As a Strix, or malignant witch, Arcona once used sex and blood rituals to create a race of immortal warriors to unleash on Rome. Now it’s time to pay.

The gladiator Tyr was one desperately lonely lover she betrayed. Against his will, she turned him into Upir Likhyi, a foul vampire. For two millennia he’s lived a grim existence as a Slayer, in constant sexual arousal yet denied release; now, he's pissed off and wants revenge. He kidnaps Arcona planning to drink her dry and break the curse.

Along the way Arcona and Tyr relive their sexual slavery at the hands of Rome and blood sport in the arena, but the real magic is they forgive and fall in love.

Too bad another Slayer wants them dead.

The Strix is a vampire tale told through the eyes of one woman who comes in contact with her past life as a witch and vengeful captive of Rome. It’s a contemporary and a historical tale at the same time.

This excerpt takes place in Pompeii 78 AD. Arcona is a young Germanic woman who has been captured by Romans and sold as a pleasure slave to the owner of gladiatorial school. In this scene she breaks the rules and escapes her courtyard prison to peek over the balcony into the ludus, or gladiatorial school attached to the villa. She sees Tyr below.

She crouched low and crept toward the back balcony that overlooked the ludus, where enslaved gladiators were quartered and trained. Surprisingly there were none of the expected sounds of clashing shields or wooden practice swords. The drill yard was silent of the usual clang of battle craft and the sounds of men arguing.

The villa’s rear balcony hovered high above the fray and was safely separated from the ludus by thick earthen walls topped with iron spikes and barred gates below, yet it provided an unencumbered bird’s-eye view of the daily mayhem that took place in the dirt yard beyond.

The August heat of the drill yard, and the scent of men’s sweat hung heavy in the air. Arcona peeked over the top of the balcony and into the sunbaked ludus below. Most of the gladiators were leaning against a far wall, standing in the shade, their swords and shields cast on the ground.

She couldn’t believe the always strict Cilician trainer would allow such slothful behavior, until she scanned the drill yard and saw the Cilician was nowhere in sight.

A dark Gaulish gladiator named Rog stood at the barracks door, pounding loudly on it with his fists. His angry words were so garbled she could hardly make out what he said.

A small crowd of gladiators gathered around Rog, and they too shouted threats and pounded their fists against the sealed door. She watched the events carefully but couldn’t figure out what the enraged commotion was about.

Only one man, a murmillo, the largest and most powerful class of gladiator, remained active on the drill yard. The man had sandy-blond hair and a beautiful sweeping back, which made him breathtaking to look at. She had studied this same man on many occasions and found him fascinating to watch. He was so unlike the others who tended to clump together in groups and speak as a mob.

The murmillo stood apart. He was quiet and solitary. All the times she had spied on the ludus she had never heard him speak, yet she noticed the other gladiators looked to him constantly as an example, which he quietly provided. Any martial skills he mastered the others were quick to imitate.

For such a large man he moved with power and grace, holding a sword in one hand and a heavy, iron-rimmed shield that stood nearly as tall as he in the other. He advanced with calculated steps across the packed dirt of the yard, thrusting and parrying his blade against an imaginary foe.

He ignored the angry chaos surrounding him and worked through his practice drills with concentrated precision. His skin glistened golden under the noon sun. His focused gaze remained lethal and aloof. He looked incapable of distraction, as if he occupied an entirely different realm from the others.

He swung the sword in tight, controlled circles as he stabbed and sliced at his own shadow. He moved beneath the balcony and paused. His sword arm stilled. He held the shield high between him and the others and glanced directly at her.

His clear hazel eyes made such forceful contact with her she felt as if she’d been touched. She was left breathless. Despite her caution about remaining unseen, he seemed to possess another sense that alerted him to her presence. Perhaps she was not so stealthy, because he often noticed her crouching behind the balcony while the others remained oblivious.

She gazed into his eyes and froze, unable to look away. She wondered how it was possible for such a formidable man to become enslaved to Rome.

A slight smile curled the edge of his lips. He gazed at her with scorching intensity as if he meant to bolt over the wall and grab her.

She felt a little flutter of anxious tension and desire and struggled to extinguish it.

The barrack door burst open with a loud bang, and a wailing, hysterical woman staggered into the yard with tears streaming down her face. Her tunic was rumpled and hung from her shoulders, exposing her breasts and back. She tried to wrap her head shawl around her body to cover herself. She ran straight toward Rog and threw her arms around his neck, and clung to him.

Rog snatched the woman into his arms. He crushed his face against her thick, dark hair and appeared to be sobbing.

The Cilician trainer strode out the open door with a churlish smile on his swarthy face. He gazed at the gladiators resting in the shade. A look of rage hardened on his harsh mouth. “Pick up your weapons, you slothful oxen! Just because I took a pleasure break doesn’t mean you get one.”

Rog glared at the Cilician, bared his teeth, and snarled. “I hate you! I’ll stuff a blade in your gut the first chance I get!”

“I don’t think so.” The Cilician dismissed Rog with a rude wave of his hand. “By the way, I enjoyed fucking your wife. Tell her to come back next week.”

Obviously the ludus is a demoralizing place to be imprisoned but believe it or not a kernel of real love does take root here.

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt and will check out The Strix.

Thank you for having Amber and me as guests!
XXOO Katalina Leon

You can find The Strix here:


About the author:

I’m an artist, an author, mother and wife. I write for Loose Id Publishing and Ellora’s Cave. I try to bring a touch of the mystical and a big sense of adventure to everything I write because I believe there’s a bold, kick-ass heroine inside all of us who wants to take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.

Find me at Night Owl Reviews Author page / Seven Sexy ScribesKatalina’s blogEllora’s Cave


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

And the winners are...


Hey Everyone!

A couple of the many giveaways have ended, and this time the winners are... *drumroll please*

Congrats to  

The lucky winner of an e-ARC of A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long is

Christy M.P.


The lucky winner of an ebook copy of His Unexpected Family by Robyn Thomas is

Cassie Davis


The lucky winners of a paperback copy of Pleasures of a Tempted Lady by Jennifer Haymore are

Jeannemiro 
Kristy


Congratulations winners! I have sent you all an e-mail notifying you of your win, please get back to me within 48 hours or I will have to draw a new winner. Thank you.

There are a lot of great giveaways still open, enter them while you can by clicking on their individual links at the top of the blog.

Have a nice week! :-)

Guest post by Candace Havens + Giveaway

Today I welcome to Ex Libris another author whose novel was lucky to launch Entangled Publishing's new flirty paranormal romance line, Covet, please give a warm welcome to Candace Havens who stops by to tell us a bit about her latest release Take It Like A Vamp! Candace thought to give us a general introduction into the world created for Take It Like A Vamp, telling us about the setting, the different supernatural creatures that exist, their powers and traits (which are similar/different from the usual lore), so take a seat and read on, you could even win a copy of Take It Like A Vamp!


I have to be careful about what I reveal about the world in Take It Like A Vamp, because I only touch on it a bit in the first book. But the paranormal council exists in a contemporary world, but they have their own set of rules. There are several different types of paranormal creatures including Vampires, Werewolves and Witches, which you meet in the first book.

I love that people assume the council members are all vampires, but they aren’t. And all the creatures in my book do not follow the normal tropes of what has gone before. I did base many of the creatures on different mythological beasts who have the same traits as what we know as vampires and werewolves, but they are so much more. Hopefully, if I do more in the series, we’ll discover a great many new creatures.

My vampires can walk in the light. If just seems to me that if someone was around for 800 years and had half a brain, they’d figure out a way to walk around in the sun. They’d also have to find a way to assimilate with their food source, humans. These are some of the things I thought about when creating my monsters. Super sexy monsters, I must say.

Humans are not aware they are a food source, and most of them don’t know about the supernaturals. But there is a war on the way, there always is, and there is a contingent of supes who believe it is their time to rule the earth. My heroes disagree. I’ve planted some deeper themes in the mythology that I hope people pick up on at some point.

If you were a supernatural creature, what would you want to be?


Bestselling author Candace Havens has written six novels for Berkley including, Charmed & Dangerous,Charmed & Ready, Charmed & Deadly, Like A Charm, The Demon King and I and Dragons Prefer Blondes. Her books for the Blaze line at Harlequin include Take Me If You Dare, She Who Dares, Wins, Truth and Dare, and The Model Marine. She is also in the anthology Spirited, and the proceeds go to help literacy. In addition to Take It Like A Vamp, she has the steampunk novels Iron Demon (Oct. 2012) and Iron Blood (April 2013) from the Maisy Clark series debuting with Entangled Publishing.

Her books have received nominations for the RITA’s, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader Awards. Model Marine is a National Readers Choice Finalist. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more.

Her entertainment columns can be read in more than 600 newspapers across the country. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. She does film reviews with the Dorsey Gang on New Country 96.3, and is the President of the Television Critics Association.

Find out more or connect with Candace at her website / Twitter / Goodreads


Vampire Nick Christos might have been born in the Middle Ages, but those days seem tame compared to the last eight years spent ruling the Supernatural Council. The only respite in his long days of governing is with his sweet neighbor Casey Meyers. Sure, he’s forced to take a cold shower after every encounter, but no way will he risk anything more with a human. Not with his blood thirsty ex on the prowl and out to ruin Nick’s life.

But when said crazy ex shows up at the ball and flies her freak flag high, Nick has more to worry about than keeping his hands off his neighbor. He’ll have to stay closer than ever if he hopes to keep her alive, but will she want to leave him forever when she learns the truth?


Buy at Amazon - B&N


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Entangled Publishing has generously offered an ebook copy of Take It Like A Vamp to a lucky commenter!


All you need to do is leave a comment answering Candace's question: If you were a supernatural creature, what would you want to be?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 7 September 2012!

Good Luck!

Bookish deals!

Do you love Gini Koch's Alien/Kitty Katt series? Now is the time to discover her new UF series as the 1st book is on a terrific sale: get Night Beat for just $0.99! (until Thursday August 30th)



There is also plenty of wonderful historical romance deals at Amazon right now, take a look and grab your copies.


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