February 28, 2014


It's time for our weekly peek at Courtney Cole's delicious men! In this week's installment of All of Court's Men, we're taking a look at Dante Giliberti from Courtney's young adult contemporary novel, Dante's Girl. This sounds like an amazing book set in an incredible location.



“Why do you look sad?” I ask.  “You live in a beautiful country with the world at your fingertips.  Your dad is amazing and nice and you’re a billionaire.  What could possibly make you sad?”

Dante studies me, his cobalt eyes serious, his expression unreadable.

“Let’s go for a walk,” he finally says.  “Someplace quieter.”

A quiet place with Dante?  Yes, Please!

I scramble to my feet and walk with him through the crowd again, this time oblivious to the stares.  He has a huge stride and I find myself hurrying to keep up, two steps for every one of his.  He weaves us through the people and out the doors in record time.

Before I know it, we are on a terrace.  In the dark.  Under the stars.

With Dante.

This may as well be Heaven.

In fact, it might actually be.

Have I died and didn’t realize it?

I flex my fingers and poke at my thigh.

My mind is fuzzy and I feel like I am moving slower than I actually am.  Is life in slow motion right now or is it me?  I blink hard then poke myself again.

“Are you alright?” Dante asks, watching me curiously.  I nod.

“Yep. I’ve just never had three glasses of champagne before.  In fact, I’ve never even had one.  Until now.”

I giggle at the thought and Dante smiles.

“Okay, drunk girl.  Let’s sit you down.”

He guides me to a lounger and eases me onto it.  I clutch at his arm, not wanting to let him go.  He stares down at me.

“You really have had too much to drink, haven’t you, little sunflower?”

The name warms my heart and I decide that he is the handsomest person in the world.

“Is handsomest a word?” I ask him.

He looks at me blankly.

“I don’t know,” he answers slowly.  “Why?”

“You’re the handsomest person in the world,” I announce.  “I don’t care if it’s a word or not.  You are it, one way or another.”

Dante smiles and runs a hand through his hair, as though he’s trying to decide what to do.

“Oh.  Okay.  Um, thanks?  What am I going to do with you?  You’re adorable when you are drunk.  But I made you drunk, even if it was an accident.  How was I supposed to know that you’re such a lightweight?”

He sounds like he is waging some sort of battle with himself.

“Who exactly are you arguing with?”I ask, the champagne clouding my thoughts in a very thorough way. “You will get no arguments from me tonight.  No matter what.”

He sighs, a husky and ragged sound.

It’s sexy.

Dante's Girl, by Courtney Cole
Published June 24, 2012
Lakehouse Press
YA Contemporary Romance
To Buy: Amazon

I have spent every summer since I was ten years old with my father in London. Every summer, since I was ten years old, has been uneventful and boring.

Until this year.

And this year, after a freak volcanic eruption strands me far from home, I have learned these things:

1. I can make do with one outfit for three days before I buy new clothes.
2. If I hear the phrase, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” even one more time, I might become a homicidal maniac.
3. I am horribly and embarrassingly allergic to jellyfish.
4. I am in love with Dante Giliberti, who just happens to be the beautiful, sophisticated son of the Prime Minister of a Mediterranean paradise.
5. See number four above. Because it brings with it a whole slew of problems and I’ve learned something from every one of them.

Let’s start with the fact that Dante’s world is five light-years away from mine. He goes to black-tie functions and knows the Prime Minister of England on a first name basis. I was born and raised on a farm in Kansas and wear cut-off jeans paired with cowboy boots. See the difference?

But hearts don’t care about differences. Hearts want what they want. And mine just wants to be Dante’s girl.

My heart just might be crazy.

About the Author

Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could. She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. She loves chocolate and roller coasters and hates waiting and rude people.

Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.

Learn more about Courtney --> Website / Facebook / Twitter

February 27, 2014

Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop

So, everyone who's completely and utterly sick of winter, raise your hands.

UGHHHHH. It's been awful here in the mid-Atlantic. I'm ready to think about spring. How about you? What better way to get us thinking about spring than to think about all those lovely spring releases coming up in March, April and May! For the Leap Into Books giveaway hop, I'm offering you a pre-order of any book from one of those three months, as long as the Book Depository carries it. Allow me to provide you with some inspiration.

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Lessons I Learned from BEA 2013

Last year at this time, I was freaking out because I had just bought my entry into BEA for the first time ever. It kicked off four months of intense planning until finally I was there. My experience at BEA 2013 was exciting and overwhelming and completely awesome.

It was an experience I couldn't have just once. So... I'm going back. And, this time I'm hitting the BEA Bloggers Conference (BBC). After rumors of past BBCs not really hitting the mark, based on this post from the BEA News blog, I think I picked the right year to start attending. Because it sounds like it's going to be AWESOME. 

So, are you going? Is it your first time? I remember thinking about how hard it was to plan for something I had never been to before. One thing I will say - my first experience at BEA was definitely a learning one. And, now that we're almost exactly three months away from going back, I've been thinking about everything I learned and the things I intend to do differently.

1. The lines aren't as bad as you think they are. Oh, don't mistake me - you WILL wait in lines. Long ones. Besides the line to get in at the beginning of the day (2 hours), the longest line I waited in in 2013 was the line for the Harlequin Teen Hour where I met Julie Kagawa, Katie McGarry, Amanda Sun and Elizabeth Scott. I was 7th in line, and I waited for just over 1 hour. I learned early on that, if the author you want to see is really popular, an hour wait is about right. But, the thing is, the wait was never as bad as I thought it would be. I talked to the people around me. I read some of my new books. I texted my bestie Jen who was there with me (but not always WITH me). I studied my schedule and talk to others about theirs. For some reason, those hours seemed to pass quickly.

2. Don't get every autographed book personalized. I met a lot of authors I had never heard of before at BEA '13. I had them personalize books to me that sounded good, but upon further reflection, I knew I probably wouldn't read them. Since they have my name on the inside page, it will be much harder to donate them to the library or give them to someone else in a giveaway. This year, I plan to only have those books I am POSITIVE I will keep personalized.

3. Make love, not war. I know you immediately see red when someone in line in front of you "holds a spot" for a friend or three. But, before you get all huffy and start talking smack about the rude people butting in line and not doing the time like everyone else, I ask you to look at it from a different angle. Chances are, those friends were off snagging ARCs from galley drops. I'm sure they'd be willing to pick you up one, if you asked. Or, hold your spot in line next so that you can go grab the same books. Heck - they'll even tell you exactly where to go to get them. Instead of getting irritated, chat them up. Make new friends. You might see them in line another time, and this time YOU get to be the one they hold a spot for.  

4.Try to control yourself. When you walk onto that floor and see the stacks of FREE BOOKS just sitting on the floor and on the counters, trust me. You will be all, "Give me the books, NOW." And you'll take them, because, well, you can. But, I ask that perhaps you might want to show a modicum of restraint. Try to give consideration to a few things. First of all, you need to get the books you take home. If you're shipping, it will cost moola. If you're driving, it will cost you your car's shocks after you weigh down the trunk. You might also want to consider the fact that, there will likely be people on the floor who genuinely want that historical fiction book that you just picked up for speculation. If you don't know for sure that you will want to read it, leave it.

5. Only bring the important stuff. Bring a small tote with you to the convention center on day 1. You'll be handed totes like they're going out of style, so you'll only need one to help you hold those first few ARCs you pick up, plus your essentials. After that, you'll have plenty of totes to help you carry your loot. About those essentials - there aren't many. You should only need your schedule, business cards, money, a water bottle and some snacks.Oh - and you'll especially want to keep your phone handy. People will Tweet when they see galley drops of particular interest. And if you have a book posse, you'll need to keep in touch as you run here and there.

6. About those snacks... On day 1 last year, I ate breakfast at 5:30 a.m. I didn't eat another meal until 10 p.m. My schedule was so jam packed that first day, I couldn't find the time for lunch. Thank the stars for Luna Bars. Especially if this is your first year, the stars will be in your eyes as you bag all those galleys and meet all those amazing authors. Lunch? Pfftthht. Buying a meal in the Javits cafeteria (and, it's a very nice cafeteria, BTW) will be very far down on your to-do list. You'll do well to bring some energy bars or some other easily packable snacks for sustenance.

7. Pack it up. Last year, I averaged over 30 books per day. Trust me when I say, you can't carry all those around with you. It will kill your shoulders and back. I brought a large roller suitcase that got parked first thing in the morning in the suitcase check area. It only costs a few dollars, and it's well worth it. A few times during the day when I had a moment, I stopped by and unloaded my totes in the suitcase. Jen and I shared one suitcase, and Jen supplied a combination lock for it. Each day, we filled it to over flowing. Even with the suitcase, my back, shoulders and neck were killing me at the end of each day. I can't imagine what I would feel like if I didn't have my suitcase.

8. Ask the right questions at the right time. I REALLY wanted a copy of Reboot by Amy Tintera at least year's BEA. But, I had a scheduling conflict that prevented me from getting in her line. But, I learned the day before that, after a signing, if there are any books left, the publisher brings them back to their booth. An hour after the Reboot signing ended, I happened into the Harper booth, and asked if they had any copies left. Turns out, they had only one. And they gave it to me. I was So. Excited. So, if you can't get to a signing, let this be your plan B.

February 26, 2014

REVIEW: Drive Me Crazy (Shaken Dirty #2)

Drive Me Crazy (Shaken Dirty #2), by Tracy Wolff
Published February 24, 2014
Entangled Brazen
e-book, provided by the publisher
adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Former rivals Quinn Bradford and Elise McKinney are not friends, at least not anymore. As teens, all they cared about was psyching each other out before concerts. But when Quinn—now the keyboardist for Shaken Dirty, the hottest rock band on the scene—returns to his hometown and hears about the car accident that shattered Elise’s career, he’s determined to make things right.

Elise wants nothing to do with an arrogant rock star, despite how bad she so clearly wants him, so Quinn kidnaps the stubborn little piano player and whisks her back to his mansion. A little seduction might be just the thing to keep Elise under his care…and in his bed. But amid pranks both childish and very adult, their past comes rearing back to haunt them. And it might be more than either of them can forget.

I'm a sucker for the rockers. And, Quinn is in a class all himself when it comes to rockers, because he is the ultimate dichotomy. He has the tats, the piercings, the wild streak. And, yet, he's a classical pianist who is as protective of those he cares about as you can get. That is an incredibly sexy combination. Drive Me Crazy was amazingly good.

Quinn and Elise were trained together as concert pianists when they were young. Both came from very broken homes and fathers. In Quinn, it manifested in a teen who was a little wild. In Elise, it manifested in crippling stage fright - not a good thing when your job is to perform complicated piano pieces on stage. Quinn used his antics to relax her, and she fell in love with him. But, he eventually left her, and she never got over it. 

Fast forward 10 years and Quinn shows up in Elise's hospital room after a car accident kills the only family she has and destroys her piano career. He brings her back to his house to recuperate, and despite Quinn's theory that he's not good enough for her and Elise's desire to not get hurt again, it's impossible for them to deny that the feelings they had never went away. 

Quinn was absolutely the most dreamiest rocker I've ever read about. There's a scene where Quinn in his many tats, rocker hair, crazy piercings and bad language sits down at a baby grand and plays a Rachmaninoff like no one's business. I've read about lots of hot guys - the alphas, the billionaires, the cowboys. This guy is the hottest out of all of them. Seriously, I don't know what it is, but Quinn made me weak in the knees in the best way possible. 

In addition to that, it becomes apparent early on, by the shear fact that he shows up in Elise's hospital room after a decade of staying away, that Quinn is a protector. There's a lot of backstory as to why he left Elise all those years ago, and it all goes back to him wanting to make sure she was safe. 

Elise is an amazing heroine. She too came from an awful home life, and she made the best life she could with the talent she had. There were more than a few times when I shed a few tears for Elise's predicament following her accident. I can't imagine spending my whole life training to do one thing, and then in a blink of an eye, not being able to do it anymore. She was unbelievably strong in the face of something like that. 

She was NOT strong, however, in the face of the chemistry she had with Quinn. It leapt off the pages and smacked you in the face time and time again. And, when they finally gave up and gave in, holy smokes, was that some good stuff. But, the best thing about their relationship was, it was forged in this crazy friendship from when they were kids. I love those kinds of relationships. They were always pranking each other while they performed together, and they picked up right where they left off. The pranks they pulled on each other were hilarious! The rest of the story was pretty heavy, so those light moments were very well timed and very much needed. 

I also enjoyed the peek at the other band members - Ryder, who we met in Crash Into Me (Shaken Dirty #1), Jared, Wyatt, and Micah. We see how Ryder and Jamison are doing now that they're engaged. We see how Wyatt is doing in rehab, and we see how Jared and Micah are doing in the face of Micah's ultimate betrayal. It's not a pretty sight for many of them, and it was sad to read. 

But, the HEA was worth it all. I couldn't tear myself away from Quinn and Elise, even when I saw the bad stuff coming for them. Tracy Wolff is an amazing author, and I'm loving her Shaken Dirty series. I can't wait for the next installment!

February 25, 2014

RELEASE DAY BLITZ & GIVEAWAY: Fifty First Times: A New Adult Anthology

It's finally here! Fifty First Times, the new adult anthology, with short stories from authors like Jennifer L. Armentrout, Molly McAdams and Lisa Desrochers, releases today. In honor of the release of this book, I'm going to tell you about one of my "firsts" - my first job.

My First Job

I got my first job when I was only 15 (yeah - it was a little "under the table") working the snack bar at the private pool my family belonged to. It was actually not a bad job, all things considered. Every time it rained, I knew I could stay home and read instead of going to work. I got to eat for free when I worked. (Soft serve and a frozen Snickers for lunch? Yes, please.) And I got to look at guys in board shorts all day long. Not to mention that there was this one boy that I always seemed to work with (I can't, for the life of me, remember his name now - well, it WAS more than 20 years ago), that I had a MAJOR crush on. He was a few years older than me, and we flirted with each other incessantly. Nothing ever came of it, but it was so fun engaging in harmless flirting with a cute boy all summer long. 

I remember that the two most popular items that people bought were lollipops (they were the cheapest thing we offered) and nachos with that neon yellow cheese sauce on the side. Yum. And I also remember that there was this sign by the check-in counter to get into the pool that always cracked me up. It said, "Welcome to our OOL. Notice there is no P in it. Please keep it that way."

So, what was your first job like? What "first" in your life do you think of when you hear the title of this new anthology?

Fifty First Times: A New Adult Anthology
Published February 25, 2014
Avon Impulse
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

You always remember your first time...
Whether it's the couple who decides not to go through with it, the two boys who finally aren't ashamed, the newlyweds whose wedding night could very well be their last night together, the deaf pair who have no choice but to take body language to a new level--or, of course, the two young lovers fumbling and laughing, getting everything wrong. These are the memories that will never fade. 
Join nineteen fantastic authors as they pull back the curtain and give you a peek inside that one intense moment in their characters' lives when everything changes and nothing will ever be the same again. 
Featuring stories from some of the hottest names in New Adult, Young Adult, and Romance including New York Times Bestselling authors J.Lynn/Jennifer Armentrout, Molly McAdams, Sophie Jordan, and Carrie Ryan. 
NOTE: These stories are works of fiction. If you want to know about our first times, you'll have to buy us a pet monkey first.
Julie Cross (creator)
J. Lynn
Molly McAdams
Sophie Jordan
Roni Loren
Tracy Wolff
Lauren Layne
Andrew Shaffer
Cole Gibson
Myra McEntire
Carrie Ryan
Mark Perini
Gennifer Albin
Lisa Desrochers
Hannah Moskowitz
Lyla Payne
Alessandra Thomas
Melissa Landers
Melissa West


Blitz-wide giveaway

Prizes (US only) - all to 1 winner:
$25 gift card for either Amazon, Apple, or B&N (winners choice)
e-copy of Fifty First Times gifted through Amazon Kindle

*below books will be paperback unless only hard cover is available, also note some books including the featured title are for readers 17-18+

Entire Tempest trilogy by Julie Cross
Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Be with Me by J. Lynn
Gone Gone Gone by Hannah Moskowitz
Stealing Harper by Molly McAdams
Catching Liam by Sophia Bleu/Genn Albin
Need You Tonight by Roni Loren
A Little Too Much by Lisa Desrochers
Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

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February 24, 2014

BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Some Like It Wild (The Wild Ones #2)

Some Like It Wild (The Wild Ones #2), by M. Leighton
To Be Published March 4, 2014
Berkley Romance
e-book, provided by the publisher
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
How far will a good girl go for the bad boy she loves?

Laney Holt is a preacher’s daughter. A good girl. Her only goal was to get married, have babies, and live happily ever after, just like her parents. Only that didn’t happen. The two people closest to her betrayed her, and Laney’s dreams came crashing down. Now she’s left with an empty space she doesn’t know how to fill. Until she meets Jake Theopolis, a daredevil with a death wish who has heartbreaker written all over him.

Jake has no interest in thinking beyond the here and now. All he wants out of life is the next rush, the next “feel-good” thing to keep his mind off the pain of his past. His latest rush? Showing Laney there’s more to life than being a good girl—and that going bad can be so much fun. Her only concern now is how she can ever hope to satisfy the wild side of a boy like Jake. She’s looking forward to trying. And so is Jake.

After finishing Some Like It Wild, I really wanted a bottle of peach wine. And a Jake Theopolis to go with it. 

Jake has come home from his adrenaline seeking wandering to take care of his family's peach farm in the wake of his father's untimely death. When the insurance adjuster arrives to start cataloging the property, Jake recognizes her as a girl from his past that he had a brief encounter with. Turns out, she is Laney Holt, the local preacher's daughter. She's just out of a serious relationship that ended badly and really wanting to break out of the mold her parents put her in. And Jake may just be the person to help her do that. 

This is your typical wild-boy-tames-timid-girl story, written with the atypical M. Leighton flair. I love how she can do that - take what should be the same old, same old plot and write it so that it seems like I'm reading it for the first time. 

Jake is absolutely delicious. He's a bad boy who is a fireman and runs a peach farm on the side. How delightful is that? He loves thrills and living life on the edge. He especially loves a challenge. These transient, no-attachments guys are one of my favorites, because when "that girl" comes along - the one that makes him start to see life in a new way - the change in him is remarkable and so very fulfilling. Some Like It Wild was a great example of this. 

Characters like Laney - sheltered, conservative, inexperienced - walk a very fine line. If they are too pious, they can come across as overly judgmental and bitchy. If they give up their conservative ways too easily, the story isn't believable. Thank goodness, M. Leighton managed that line like a pro. Laney was presented as a character who allows her parents to run her life, yet she's never really wanted it that way. When she catches her BFF in bed with her boyfriend, it gives her the perfect excuse to start breaking the mold. 

There was just the right amount of drama and angst without it being too over-the-top. Laney has the appropriate amount of confrontations with her horrible parents, the fulfilling showdown with her jerkface ex, and the obligatory breakdown of communication with Jake. The building up of their relationship was so fun to read as Jake tries to teach Laney to let go and live life to its fullest. I was completely sucked in all the way until the explosive ending. 

Some Like It Wild is told from both Laney's and Jake's POV, which of course, I love. It was wonderfully steamy (this IS M. Leighton, after all) and completely romantic. I can't wait to see what comes next in this awesome series.

About the Author

M. Leighton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Wild Ones and The Bad Boys romance trilogies.  She is a native of Ohio, relocated to the warmer climates of the South, where she lets her mind wander to romantic settings with sexy Southern guys much like the one she married and the ones you'll find in her latest books.  When her thoughts aren't roaming in that direction, she'll be riding horses, swimming in ponds and experiencing life on a ranch, all without leaving the cozy comfort of her office.  

For more about M. Leighton, visit her website at www.MLeightonBooks.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter@mleightonbooks.

For one U.S. resident, I am offering a print copy of Some Like It Wild (The Wild Ones #2), by M. Leighton. 

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February 21, 2014

All of Court's Men: LUCA

Starting this week, and for the next eight, I'm focusing on the fabulous men that have been created by the amazing Courtney Cole. Our focus for week one is the dangerous and enigmatic Luca from The Minaldi Legacy, Courtney Cole's latest book. I have to admit, he's one of Court's Men that I haven't met yet, but lemme tell you. After this introduction, I'm DYING to experience him for myself. What about you?



“Miss, is everything alright?”

A deep voice is calling from outside of my house.  And before I can think about it and remember that I don’t know anyone here and that a stranger really shouldn’t be outside of my house, particularly in the middle of the night, I answer.

“No.  I’m not.”

In a scant moment, a man bursts into my bedroom.

He looks startled to see that I am alone.

And I am startled because he’s alarmingly handsome.

So it appears that we are both startled as we stare at each other.

He’s dark haired, tanned, and has dark eyes.  His bangs are hanging artfully in his eyes, although the hair on the back of his head is a little shorter.  It’s a style that works for him. He’s got broad shoulders, slim hips, chiseled yet graceful features and Sweet Merciful Mary, he’s beautiful.  He’s dressed in jogging shorts and running shoes and a bead of sweat trickles down his temple.  I don’t even have time to wonder why he’s out for a run in the middle of the night before I notice that he’s also got that sexy, day-old stubble that I so love on a man.

I swallow and realize that my mouth has gone dry.

“Are you alright?” he asks, his eyes skimming over me, assessing the situation.  It’s a valid question.  I had been screaming bloody hell, after all.

I nod.  Then shake my head.

“Spider,” I whisper.

His dark eyes widen and he follows my pointing finger with his gaze.

Then he laughs, husky and rich.

“Spider,” he confirms with a nod, his dark eyes sparkling in amusement.  “It looks like you’ve got yourself a perfect specimen of the Writing Spider.”

“Writing Spider?” I repeat, watching it nervously, making sure it doesn’t try to run across the bedroom floor and up my leg. “Is it poisonous?”

Handsome Running Guy nods solemnly.

“Oh, it’s a known killer, alright.”

I gasp and lurch even further away from the hairy creature on my bed and Handsome Running Guy laughs.

“I’m sorry.  I’m only joking.  I couldn’t resist. It’s not poisonous. I think its scientific name is Black and Yellow Argiope, or something like that.  They are all over here.  But you wouldn’t know that because you’re not from here, are you?”

I shake my head again, trying not to be overly enthralled with his charming accent.

“Is it that obvious?”

He smiles and suddenly it seems like all natural sources of light are pouring into my room, originating from this man.  He’s got such a strong presence that it makes my spine tingle.  And my stomach is fluttering in a way that it hasn’t fluttered since high school.  Interesting.

He shakes his head and then holds out his hand.

“Luca Minaldi,” he tells me and his fingers are cool as he shakes my hand.

“Evangeline Talbot,” I answer.  “But my friends call me Eva.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” and his eyes agree with him as he stares at me.  “The question now is would you like for me to kill your uninvited guest or should I release him into the wilds?”

“Kill it,” I say firmly.  Slight disapproval passes over Luca’s face like a shadow.

“Are you certain?” he asks.  “It’s an amazing specimen and they do eat bugs.  Bugs can get pesky here in Malta, Evangeline.”

“You can call me Eva,” I answer.  “And if we release it into the outdoors, he might come back in.”

I shudder again at that thought.

“True,” Luca agrees.  “And so might anyone else.  Your door wasn’t locked.  And I can’t call you Eva.  We’re not yet friends.”

The Minaldi Legacy, by Courtney Cole
Published February 6, 2014
Lakehouse Press
dark romantic thriller
To Buy: Amazon

Luca Minaldi is rich, powerful and mesmerizing. He’s also a reclusive enigma. He lives in Malta, a fairy-tale place filled with sunshine and sea, beauty and secrets. And Luca’s darkest of secrets is the best-kept of them all.

Eva Talbot moves to Malta to finish her doctoral dissertation in Psychiatry. When she meets Luca, there is a very real and instant attraction that she has never felt before. But even still, she senses the darkness that lives within him.

Eva is hired to care for Luca’s mother, a woman who suffers from dementia. It is Luca, however, that Eva will eventually risk everything to save… as the legacy that plagues him continues.

As the darkness swirls ever more tightly around her, Eva realizes that no matter how hard she tries, she might not be able to save Luca without losing herself.

Eva and Luca are thrust into a world where their love is tested and darkness reigns. Amid chaos and treachery, love and hate, Luca and Eva learn one important thing.

Love is dangerous.

But it also might be the one thing that can save them all.

About the Author

Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could. She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. She loves chocolate and roller coasters and hates waiting and rude people.

Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.

Learn more about Courtney --> Website / Facebook / Twitter

February 20, 2014

REVIEW: Carnal Secrets (Phoenix Pack #3)

Carnal Secrets (Phoenix Pack #3), by Suzanne Wright
Published February 11, 2014
Montlake Romance
e-book, provided by the publisher
adult paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Half-shifter Shaya Critchley may hold a submissive role in her pack, but she’s done taking orders. After her Alpha wolf mate refused to claim her—but committed to interfering in her life—she took off. Now she hides from him, posing as a human in a town full of anti-shifter extremist groups. She thinks he’ll never find her again, and that suits her just fine. But she’s wrong.

Nick Axton can barely control his feelings for Shaya, but he could never claim her—not if he truly cares for her. The degenerative brain condition he keeps secret would ultimately leave her with a burden rather than a mate. But when Shaya runs away, Nick can’t bear the thought of never seeing her again. After tracking her down, he discovers Shaya’s feisty and passionate side in the process…a side he’d never seen before.

Under the menacing gazes of territorial local packs and violent human extremists, Nick vows to finally claim the spirited Shaya…and despite her initial resistance, Shaya just might find his fiery determination to be the ultimate aphrodisiac.

I've loved the Phoenix Pack series ever since I read the first book, Feral Sins. Shifters are my favorite kind of paranormal creature to read about. There's something so awesome about the pack dynamics, and the men are about as alpha as you can get. Speaking of alpha...

In Carnal Sins, Nick Axton is kicking himself in the ass since he realized that Shaya was his true mate, but then decided not to claim her. It's not that he didn't want her - he was just trying to protect her. But, Shaya doesn't know that, and she's mad with a capital M. After leaving town to escape seeing Nick everywhere, he manages to find her and start convincing her he has changed his mind. It's going to be a hard job on his part though. Especially with radical anti-shifter groups causing added complications. 

If you love the alpha male shifter-type guys like I do, then you will LOVE Nick Axton. He is so unbelievably perfect - every part of me adored him. He's usually very quiet and reserved. That is, until he's around Shaya. She totally transforms him into this romantic, adorable guy who will do anything for her. Which will also make you really despise Shaya for awhile. 

I get that she was jilted, and that it had to hurt a lot. I understand her needing to get away from Nick so that she could move on with her life without the constant reminder of his rejection. And, I even get her desire to have him work for her forgiveness a little. How entertaining would it be if she took him back with no questions asked?

But, there comes a point where enough is enough, and the constant hostility and thwarting of his efforts at reconciliation just make her seem like a cranky bitch. The quiet and sweet Shaya from the first two Phoenix Pack books was nowhere to be found in Carnal Secrets. She was replaced with a bitter, nasty girl that I didn't like very much.  And, the time that Nick spent trying to woo Shaya back seemed to stall the book's pace.

Thankfully, she does end up coming around, and from that point on, Carnal Secrets really took off. The addition of the anti-shifter human extremist groups and the threat they pose to the local shifters gave the book an extra layer of drama and excitement that I loved. And, it gave the Phoenix Pack shifters a good excuse to show up. 

Since Shaya is Taryn's BFF, we see lots of her, Trey and their baby. Along with Trey comes the enforcers, including Dante and Jamie, the Beta pair of the pack from Wicked Cravings. We also meet a new shifter, Derren, who is really close with Nick. The pack dynamic is in full effect as they have to pull together to defend their pack lands from the humans who want to take them all down. 

In typical Suzanne Wright style, Carnal Secrets had action, suspense and romance overflowing.Nick and Shaya are every bit as dynamic of a pair as Trey and Taryn and Dante and Jamie. This was another fantastic installment in the Phoenix Pack series.

February 19, 2014

COVER REVEAL AND EXCERPT: Business As Usual (Off the Subject #3)

I'm thrilled to share with you the cover and the prologue for Denise Grover Swank's newest addition to her Off the Subject series - BUSINESS AS USUAL. The first two books in the series - After Math and Redesigned - were fantastic. I can't wait to see what's next for these characters Denise Grover Swank has created!

Business As Usual (Off the Subject #3), by Denise Grover Swank
To Be Published April 10, 2014
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon

Lexi Pendergraft has given up on finding love after a disastrous encounter with her last boyfriend. Instead, she focuses on two things: One, setting up a summer program for underprivileged middle-school aged students. And the second, getting to the bottom of her brother Reed’s recent strange behavior. His secret is destroying his relationship with his fiancĂ©e Caroline, and Lexi will do anything to help him save it. Especially after he gave up his dream to give Lexi a chance at a semi-normal college experience, something her parents threatened to steal from her after her rape a year ago.

Ben Masterson is determined to make it through his final semester of his senior year at Southern University. After recently losing his full ride scholarship, he’s suffering from sleep deprivation while trying to keep up with his mechanical engineering courses and working three part time jobs. He thinks he’s lucked out getting a job in the university math lab. The only problem is his boss—Reed Pendergraft.

As part of a role in a community theater play, Lexi wears a black wig and feels a confidence she hasn’t experienced in over a year. When she wears it to a bar close to the theater, she doesn’t think Ben, a bartender there, recognizes her. While Ben’s intrigued about what she’s up to, he’s smart enough to stay far away from his overprotective boss’s sister. Until fate forces him to help her, but why won’t she tell him her real identity?


About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period.  Her hobbies include witty Facebook comments (in own her mind) and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.)  Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks.  She has six children and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.
Learn more about Denise --> Website / Facebook / Twitter

February 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This is one meme I can get on board with - I LOVE lists! I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/Reader

1. Being a Blogger is Cathartic - How many times have we read a book, and just HAD to get our thoughts out in some way? But, no one in your sphere of real life has read the book, so they won't really understand your passionate reaction toward it. THIS was the main reason I started my blog.

2. Being a Reader is Escapism at its Finest - My life is pretty... normal. I have a husband, 2 kids, a real job, a mortgage. TV doesn't really do it for me. I've always had a good imagination, so books are the best way for me to escape the stress of my daily life for awhile.

3. Being a Blogger is Educational - As a teenager, I worked for a summer at a book manufacturing plant, and it was one of the best summer jobs I ever had. As a blogger, I get a different glimpse inside the book industry. I've learned a lot about the writing, publishing and promotion of books. It's a hard job, and I have a new appreciation for those that do it every day.

4. Being a Reader is Educational - I've read a lot of fluff over the years. But, even in the fluffy books, there's always something that can be learned. Many times, events or plot devices cause me to Google them to learn more. I read words I don't know, and I look them up. Reading books makes you smarter.

5. Being a Blogger Puts Me in Touch With Cool People - As a blogger, I've met lots of other bloggers, readers and authors. They come from all walks of life, and yet we all have this thing in common. And, that's pretty neat. I've met some of them in person and made some amazing friends. Being a blogger literally has changed my life.

6. Being a Reader Turned Me on to Signings - I LOVE going to book signings. Sure, it's cool to come away with signed books, but for me, the real draw is the face time with a real, honest-to-goodness author. I love picking their brains and learning the inside scoop on how the cover images were picked, how the research was done, what their inspiration was... it's fascinating!

7. Being a Blogger is Mutually Beneficial - Let's face it - one of the perks of being a blogger is gaining access to ARCs of books I just can't wait to read. And, for the publishers, they get their books in the hands of avid readers who are willing to post reviews early to create buzz. It's a win-win.

8. Being a Reader Inspires Me - I've always been interested in both reading and writing. I'd like to think I'm pretty good at both. But, it's only since I started gobbling up 200+ books per year that I've started giving serious thought to writing something for real. It's good to have goals.

9. Being a Blogger Honed My Tech Skills -  Before I had a blog, I didn't have a Twitter handle. I knew almost nothing about HTML. Once I decided to start a blog, I had to learn these things fast. Now, I have to say, I'm a little bit addicted to Twitter. And, I still hate HTML, but I don't feel completely out of my element anymore. Knowledge is power.

10. Being a Reader Sets a Good Example - I have a 7-year-old and a 6-year-old. They see me reading all the time. I tell them about the books I read (well, some of them). I read to them. My older child is already a huge bookworm, just like me, and I'd like to think that's not just genetics.

February 17, 2014

RELEASE DAY NOVELLA REVIEW: Bomb: A Day in the Life of Spencer Shrike

Bomb: A Day in the Life of Spencer Shrike (A Rook and Ronin Spinoff), by J.A. Huss
Published February 17, 2014
e-book, provided by author in exchange for an honest review
new adult/adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Spencer Shrike is a plotter. Known for his ingenious, albeit illegal, plans that keeps the Team running efficiently and out of jail, he carries this same love of order into his personal life. He’s kept his long-time main squeeze on the sidelines for years as he builds the Shrike Bikes empire.

Veronica Vaughn is an explosion ready to happen. Ronnie lives in the here and now. She lives for today. She knows what she wants, and she wants it now. And right now Ron the Bomb Vaughn wants Spencer shrike to leave her the hell alone. She’s done playing his game. She’s done waiting around. She’s moving forward with her own plots, plans, and dreams and she’s moving forward tonight. Ron the Bomb is finally—finally—gonna get some satisfaction.

Too bad Spencer Shrike is standing in her way.

J.A. Huss - the things you do to me. She has created this holy trinity of hot men, all of which make my legs turn to spaghetti and my lady bits tingle. First there was Ronin. The beauty. The model. And, he found forever with Rook. Then came Ford. The brains. The deviant. And, all it took to give him purpose was Ashleigh. 

And, now it's Spencer's turn. The brawn. The biker. And, the only girl for him is his Bombshell, Veronica.

In Bomb, we take a peek at a day in the life of Spencer Shrike, owner and operator of Shrike Bikes. Spencer is a really busy guy. He's building a new facility, getting ready for a new season of his reality TV show, and trying to keep his girl from dumping him for good. He's been together with Veronica Vaughn for the better part of three years, and now with the mess he's in with Ronin and Ford, he's just trying to keep her safe. Unfortunately, that means, he has to pretend like he doesn't care about her, and that is tearing him up. 

Bomb shows us that there is so much more substance to Spencer Shrike than you could've imagined. What do we already know about him from the Rook and Ronin series? Spencer is an artist. He can paint masterpieces on naked women. He can build beautiful custom motorcycles from nothing. He wears his art on his skin in the tattoos he designed. Spencer is also protective of his friends. He always has their backs, which usually means, he's willing to physically take out anyone that stands in their way, to hell with the consequences. 

Spencer is smart. He built his business from the ground up, and he runs it well. And, we know that Spencer Shrike loves Veronica Vaughn. What we didn't know was just how much. 

In Bomb, we see how the two of them met and how taken he was with her from the first time he saw her. We see how Ronnie's feisty spirit meshes so well with Spencer's intensity. But, the biggest surprise is the lengths that Spencer will go to to keep her in his life. He always fronted as a player - as someone who wouldn't be serious about any one girl. Like I said - Spencer is smart. Everyone has been thinking exactly what he wanted them to think. But, the truth of the matter is, he is serious about Ronnie. And, if he can just hold it together for a few more weeks, he can come clean to her and they can start their lives together. 

There was so much information packed into this Rook and Ronin spinoff novella. We get some backstory on Spencer and Ronnie's relationship. We get the lowdown on Spencer's current situations, both with his upcoming trial and with his biggest business competitor. And we see the framework being laid for his future plans with both his business and with his girl. 

Bomb is told entirely from Spencer's POV. It is exciting, funny, incredibly sexy, and believe it or not, really romantic. Although reading this isn't necessary to understand what will happen in Guns, Spencer's full-length novel due out in a few months, I definitely recommend reading this first. Guns will be the final book set in the Rook and Ronin world, and it promises to be absolutely explosive. Take all the time with these characters that you can now, because soon it will be all over. 



The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

The Fine Line, by Alicia Kobishop
Published December 6, 2013
e-book, provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon

Rating:  2.5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
High school senior Liv Evans has one rule: No attachments. She’s lost enough in her life and has vowed to do whatever it takes to make sure she never again feels the emptiness of losing someone she loves. Boys are a fun distraction, but a serious relationship is something she’d rather live without. Her determination for a future free of pain and heartbreak is put to the test when she meets–and quickly forms an unexpected bond–with Logan Tanner.

Logan has always been a free spirit, but ever since a life-changing event took place, which left him doubting the integrity of those who are closest to him, he’s taken that term to a whole new dangerous level. Learning the hard way that life is too short for worries or work–and that women can’t be trusted–Logan has exchanged steady work for street racing. When Liv walks into his world, everything he thought he knew about life and women is challenged.

In The Fine Line, Liv and Logan will discover if it’s possible for true love to have a future, or if history is destined to repeat itself.

I am a very character-driven reader. I can almost always make allowances for stuff like lack of world-building and even plot holes so big you can drive a truck through, as long as I can get behind the main characters. I get that characters can't be perfect, either. Believe me - I've found fault with guys that are just too wonderful. So, I understand the need to work in some character flaws. But, when those flaws become all-encompassing, I start to have a problem with them. 

Olivia is bitter. She learned from a very early age that the men in her life don't ever stick around. So, she's decided to just not get close to any of them, and everything will be fine. Until she meets Logan. He affects her more than any other boy she's ever met, and that scares the crap out of her. 

The Fine Line is Alicia Kobishop's debut, and there are some things to like here. I initially decided to read it because of the street racing aspect. Big muscle cars and last minute races in abandoned warehouse parking lots are exciting, and typically I love the guys that star in those types of books. 

Olivia was the biggest problem for me in The Fine Line. To put it bluntly - she was a stone cold bitch. She meets a boy she really likes, and she convinces herself that she can be nothing more than friends with him. Then, she sets out trying to convince him of the same thing. The problem is, her message is seriously lost in translation. It's hard to convince someone you only want to be friends with him when you're sticking your tongue down his throat. 

So, Liv plays with Logan's head for a very long while. She spends all her free time with him. She meets his family, She dances with him, kisses him, sleeps over at his house. All the while, she tells him and herself that she only wants to be friends with him. And, it's such crap. He knows it and so does she. Logan is straight with her and tells her how he feels about her, and Liv lies to him every step of the way, which hurts him a lot. And, she knows it, and doesn't care. 

Even after Olivia and Logan finally have their moment of clarity where everything seems to come together and she finally pulls her head out of her rear long enough to tell him the truth of how she feels about him, her next action is to tell Logan that she's going out on a date with some other guy the next night. What the WHAT? And, she gets mad when Logan tells her to cancel? Un-freaking-believable. It's impossible for me to get behind a person like that. 

Sadly, Logan wasn't much better. Oh, he was much more likeable, but not very believable. There's not many men out there who would put up with a girl like Olivia. Logan was more than a glutton for punishment. He was a downright masochist. In the beginning, he is painted as a bad ass street racer with a gorgeous face and a dangerous streak. Sorry, but a guy like that doesn't put up with the antics of someone like Liv and cry at the drop of a hat. He ended up being kind of a wimp. 

The action at the end of the book was good. I liked the final race and the aftermath. But, even that couldn't save this book enough for me since Olivia had very few redeeming qualities and Logan couldn't man up. Strong characters with integrity and bravery who make the occasional wrong choice for the right reason are the MCs I throw my weight behind. Sadly, these two just went over like a lead balloon. 

February 14, 2014

REVIEW: Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3), by Tahereh Mafi
Published February 4, 2014
Harper Collins
hardback, purchased
YA dystopian romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  2 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew-about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam-was wrong.

In Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi created a captivating and original story that combined the best of dystopian and paranormal and was praised by Publishers Weekly as "a gripping read from an author who's not afraid to take risks." The sequel, Unravel Me, blew readers away with heart-racing twists and turns, and New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia said it was "dangerous, sexy, romantic, and intense." Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and climactic end.

It took me several days to congeal my thoughts about Ignite Me into something that I could actually put into words. My review that follows is not one I normally would write, in that, it’s rife with spoilers. I do apologize for that. To be honest, the writing of this review is going to be somewhat cathartic for me, and I’m sorry that you who haven’t read it yet, are on the receiving end of my word vomit. 

I will say that Tahereh Mafi is an absolutely beautiful writer. It flows and ebbs like water and she has the ability to elicit real emotion from me without much apparent effort. Her use of symbolism is unmatched. And, something new that I discovered about her – this woman knows how to write romance. Face-fanning, lady-bit tingling, jelly-legged romance. It’s good stuff.

"I will be here every night," he whispers, his words so soft, so tortured, "to keep you warm. I will kiss you until I can't keep my eyes open."

And, seriously, the covers of all her books in the Shatter Me series are orgasms for my eyes. They are the most beautiful series covers I’ve ever seen. 

So, on to the spoilers. If you haven’t read Ignite Me, you will want to stop now. 

Seriously – stop reading if you don’t want to know who Juliette picked. 

Last warning. 

My feelings on whether I “liked” or “did not like” Ignite Me are not wrapped up in whether my team won or lost. It’s not nearly as simplistic as that, although some might dispute that. Certainly, I’ll be the first one to admit that I wish Juliette had chosen the other guy, and that fact does color my overall opinion of the book to some degree. How could it not? 

We, as book fans, become so involved in our favorite characters’ lives that we create Twitter handles and websites dedicated to them. We passionately advocate for our favorite crushes and couples in tournaments and create badges and buttons announcing our allegiances for our blogs and Facebook pages. Of course the outcome of love triangles are going to affect our overall impressions of the books in which they are found, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

I have always said that the worst way out of a love triangle is to kill off one of the choices. And, I realized after finishing Ignite Me that that is exactly what Mafi did here. Granted, both Adam and Warner were physically alive in the end. But, all the qualities that made up the Adam that was introduced to us in Shatter Me died a fiery, horrible death over the course of this 408-page book, and frankly, it makes me more angry than anything else. 

Adam captured my heart from the very beginning. The story of how this boy helped this girl and became her only friend when no one else would dare brought tears to my eyes. Then, after spending years trying to find her, he risks everything to free her from both her physical and mental prison. He loved her practically his whole life, and the greatest gift was when he heard that her love was returned. He naturally wanted to protect her from all the bad scary things (love kinda makes you want to do that), but he also believed that she could be so much more. 

That man was nowhere to be found in Ignite Me.

I appreciate that Juliette wanted to stop hiding and start living. But, didn’t she do that the second she jumped out of her bedroom window with Adam? Wasn’t she standing up for herself when she pointed that gun in Kenji’s face while in Adam’s apartment? Didn’t she take charge of her life when she made the decision to take Adam and James to Omega Point in the first place? And, didn’t Adam support her and go along with it all? 

The Adam that was presented to us in Ignite Me was bitter, cold and hateful. He was indecisive and angry. It was almost as if Mafi was trying to force her choice down my throat. I hate to break it to her, but I could’ve gotten behind her decision to put Juliette with Warner if she had given me a good reason why. But, vilifying and demonizing Adam in order to paint a more radical contrast between he and the now angelic Warner felt so wrong to me. If two characters are going to completely switch personalities over the course of a series, I want a solid reason why, and unrequited love isn’t one. Not for these two guys. 

In the end, I just didn’t believe any of it. 

Sadly, if you put all the relationship drama aside, there isn’t much left in Ignite Me. Whereas Shatter Me and Unravel Me focused a lot on the development of Juliette’s powers and how they might take down the Reestablishment, Ignite Me was all angst and guilt and hormones. There was very little said about Juliette’s, Warner’s and Adam’s powers, and almost nothing about the secondary characters’ powers (so little, in fact, that I forgot what they were until about 85% through). 

All three books were leading up to the final showdown between Juliette and Anderson. We didn’t even see Anderson until the final pages of the book. And, then it was over. Just like that. All the waiting and anticipation was over so fast, and I literally said out loud, “So, that’s it then?”  I wanted so much more! I wanted to know what was beyond Sector 45 and how the destruction of it and Anderson was going to affect the rest of the country. Is there even a country? What does the world look like? The world-building has always been a little weak for my liking, and I was thinking we’d finally fill in those holes in Ignite Me. 

Not so. 

Now that it’s all said and done and I’ve had some time to reflect on my true feelings regarding Ignite Me, I realize that I just feel cheated. What I thought was the whole point (taking down the leader of the regime that has been oppressing people for years) ended up being buried amid the unrealistic destruction of one character loved by many and the unbelievable elevation of another to one who could do absolutely nothing wrong. The shaping of Juliette’s budding abilities and personality was squashed by her constant indecision in the “I love him, I love him not” game.

Or, maybe, I missed the point entirely.