Review: Life After Perfect by Nancy Naigle

unnamed-10Book info:

Title: Life After Perfect
Author: Nancy Naigle
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: ARC received from Publisher via NetGalley

Book Summary:

A love story set in the small North Carolina town of Boot Creek. You might remember Derek Hansen from the WRAPPED AROUND YOUR HEART (download free today!) short story collection, well here’s his chance for new love.

Katherine Barclift had it all: the perfect job, the perfect car, and what she thought was the perfect marriage. But when her entire world collapses in one stomach-churning instant, she hits the road and keeps driving until that so-called “perfect life” is just a dot in her rearview mirror.

A chance encounter leads her to make a pit stop in Boot Creek, a drowsy little North Carolina town where she can call herself Katy, soak up the peace and quiet…and drink in the bluer-than-blue eyes of Derek Hansen, a local doctor still wrestling with his own painful past. Both Katy and Derek are wary about giving romance another shot, but they can’t deny the intense attraction between them. And if being in Boot Creek has taught them anything, it’s to take life as it comes and never pass up a chance at true love…no matter how wounded your heart may be.

My Thoughts:

What a book. I downloaded Life After Perfect by Nancy Naigle back when it came out in May. I started it. Then stopped. I started it again and stopped. Why? Because it has a LOT of emotion in it. Emotion I wasn’t ready for. I typically read books that sweep me up in the romance or the suspense of it. The ones that take me out of my personal reality. Life After Perfect is real. The characters are real. The struggles are real. They hit home. I am sure everyone that reads this has a friend or family member that has gone through or is going through something in this book. It’s an emotional, heart-tugging, tearful read. But it’s also a beautiful and heartwarming read.

Katherine “Katy” Barclift is watching one friend bury her husband and another friend go through some infidelity in her marriage. She is looking at this from her own “perfect” life. When that perfect life of hers hits a bump, it rocks her world. Rocks it right out of town. And right into Dr. Derek Hansen and the friendly faces in Boot Creek, North Carolina.
As in all of Naigle’s books, the descriptions of settings in Life After Perfect make you feel as though you have been to the town. You taste the yummy blackberry cobbler. You feel the water from the creek on your feet. She does a fabulous job of setting the scene. I enjoy how Naigle is able to bring out the small town charm in her books and makes you want to move into those towns! In Life After Perfect, small town hospitality is at it’s finest when Katy needs it most.

She also gives you real and flawed characters.Through the people in Boot Creek, and with some time to reflect, Katy is able to find herself again. Derek comes home to Boot Creek after his world is turned upside down and is able to feel hope for the first time in a very long time. I so enjoyed watching Derek and Katy’s personal growth and their relationship. Getting to know Katy’s friends like Angie, Naomi and Shaleigh were just icing on the book cake.
Life After Perfect is a book that you need to read with a box of tissues next to you. It’s a book that will inspire you not to give up in life when tragedy happens. It makes you believe that there is still love in the world even among strangers. It’s a story that will leave your heart overflowing with hope. I sincerely recommend you give it a read.

Reviewed by: Amy Remus

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Friday Finds

Welcome to Friday Finds! We would love your input for discounted books, free books, book recommendations or new releases and book contests (where books are the prize). Feel free to submit through our Friday Finds Submission Form. The cut-off is Wednesday for that Friday’s post, and please make sure that the offers you are submitting will be running that Friday. Please check the deals mentioned in this post before buying, as some may have expired. Thanks!

FREE BOOKS

TCBook title: Tuesday’s Child

Book author: Dale Mayer

Book blurb: What she doesn’t want…is exactly what he needs.

Shunned and ridiculed all her life for something she can’t control, Samantha Blair hides her psychic abilities and lives on the fringes of society. Against her will, however, she’s tapped into a killer–or rather, his victims. Each woman’s murder, blow-by-blow, ravages her mind until their death releases her back to her body. Sam knows she must go to the authorities, but will the rugged, no-nonsense detective in charge of tracking down the killer believe her?

Detective Brandt Sutherland only trusts hard evidence, yet Sam’s visions offer clues he needs to catch a killer. The more he learns about her incredible abilities, however, the clearer it becomes that Sam’s visions have put her in the killer’s line of fire. Now Brandt must save her from something he cannot see or understand…and risk losing his heart in the process.

As danger and desire collide, passion raises the stakes in a game Sam and Brandt don’t dare lose.

Amazon

FF sub-divider

tcabgBook Title: To Catch a Bad Guy

Book Author: Marie Astor

Book blurb: Janet Maple’s stellar career ended with a lay off and her boyfriend of almost five years told her that he wants to be just friends. When she lands a job at one of New York’s premier boutique investment firms, Janet begins to hope that her luck is finally turning for the better. Not only is she happy with her new paycheck, but things also seem to be looking up on the personal front, as the company’s handsome attorney expresses keen interest in Janet. However, her euphoria is short-lived, as Janet soon discovers alarming facts about her new employer’s business tactics. When her boss dismisses her suspicions as groundless, Janet finds herself confiding to a cute IT engineer, Dean Snider. The closer she gets to Dean, the more Janet is tempted to break her rule of not dating co-workers, but what she doesn’t realize is that everything she knows about Dean, including his occupation and even his name, is a lie.

Dennis Walker is a top-notch white collar crime investigator who will stop at nothing to put culprits away. When an opportunity for an undercover assignment at one of New York’s premier boutique investment firms comes up, Dennis jumps at the chance, adopting a persona of geeky IT engineer, Dean Snider. While he may be an ace at his job, years of experience fail him when Dennis meets Janet Maple and finds himself torn between his professional obligations and his personal desires. Will he have to choose between his feelings and duty, or will he find a way to satisfy both?

Amazon

NEW RELEASES

nakedBook title: Naked

Book author: Eliza Redgold

Book blurb: We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.
We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva’s ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for ‘peeping Tom’) and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax. Naked is an original version of Godiva’s tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

99c BOOKS

sgBook title: Saint’s Gate

Book author: Carla Neggers

Book blurb: When Emma Sharpe is summoned to a convent on the Maine coast, it’s partly for her art crimes work with the FBI, partly because of her past with the religious order. At issue is a mysterious painting depicting scenes of Irish lore and Viking legends, and her family’s connection to the work. But when the nun who contacted her is murdered, it seems legend is becoming deadly reality.
Colin Donovan is one of the FBI’s most valuable assets; a deep-cover agent who prefers to go it alone. He’s back home in Maine after wrapping up his latest mission, but his friend Father Bracken presents him with an intrigue of murder, art heists and a convent’s long-held secrets that is too tempting to resist. As the danger spirals ever closer, Colin is certain of only one thing the very intriguing Emma Sharp is at the centre of it all.

A ruthless killer has Emma and Colin in the crosshairs, plunging them into a race against time and drawing them deeper into a twisted legacy of betrayal and deceit.

Amazon

FF sub-divider

The+Golden+Apple (1)Book title: The Golden Apple

Book author: Michelle Diener

Book blurb: Kayla’s world has been turned upside-down . . .

Her father has made her the prize in a deadly, impossible tournament, and Kayla has retaliated in the only way she knows how; by choosing her champion beforehand. But taking control of the outcome changes the game completely, and when the real reason behind the strange test becomes apparent, Kayla realizes not just her life, but her entire kingdom is at stake.

Rane’s honor is torn in two…

In order to save his brother, Rane will do whatever he has to–including deceive and betray a princess. He knew nothing about this tournament would be easy, but when it turns into a deeper, far more sinister game, Rane is forced to see it through to the end, or leave his brother at the mercy of their enemy.

Now their fates are entwined, and they must venture into the deep, dark forest together . . .

Kayla and Rane are bound to one another by an enchantment and Kayla’s actions. But the sorcerer forcing them to do his will may have miscalculated, because no-one comes out of the Great Forest unchanged. No-one.

The Golden Apple is followed by its sequel, The Silver Pear.

Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo

BOOK CONTESTS

try a new genre reminder-6

Try a New Genre & Win Reader Challenge

I’ve got together with nineteen other authors to set up the Try a New Genre & Win Reader Challenge. Click the image to go to the FB group where we’re running the challenge. Join in the fun of trying a new-to-you genre. There are some great conversations, prizes and free books.

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Guest Blog: Jeni Burns on writing Twisted Fates

Jeni Burns

Photo Copyright held by Lindsay Wynne Photography

Today, I am pleased to welcome Jeni Burns to the Magical Musings blog. Jeni is the author of the Twisted Fates fantasy novella series. Take it away, Jeni:

Jennifer: Welcome, Jeni! Please tell readers about your new novella, Betrayed.

Jeni: Hi Jennifer! Thanks for having me. Betrayed is a novella based loosely on the legend of the NJ Devil. It’s set in the early 1700’s and features a witch in hiding who wants more out of life than the everyday and a Devil that wants an heir so that he can prove he’s worthy of a second chance.

Jennifer: This is the first novella in your Twisted Fate series. Can you tell us a little about the series?

Jeni: The Twisted Fate series follows the ancestors of Delila Dewsberry, the witch who gives birth to the Jersey Devil, as they are forced to combat his conniving antics while they try to keep their souls in tact. The novellas are fantasy with a pinch of romance sprinkled in. They also have some crossover with a series of Paranormal Romances that I’m writing, so some of readers favorite characters get cameos in the novellas and vice versa. The novella series will have a total of six novellas, which will all be available by February 2016. The second novella, Sacrificed, is already available on all digital platforms and Revealed, the third novella, will be available in July.

Jennifer: What appeals to you about the paranormal genre?

Betrayed newJeni: I’ve always been a fan of science fiction and adventure tales. Not only does the genre allow readers an escape from the realities of the world, but also allows me as a writer to delve into all the “what if’s” I like to play around with. There’s something about adding a bit of magic to a story that makes my heart happy.

Jennifer: What inspired you to write the Twisted Fate series?

Jeni: I grew up in a small town in New Jersey where there were more cows than people. We played capture the flag in the woods and sat in the middle of the Delaware River on these huge rocks talking for hours. As you can probably tell, there wasn’t much to do that didn’t involve using your imagination. Couple that with my love of folklore and viola! The Twisted Fate Novellas were born.

People familiar with New Jersey legends will find bits of legends and tall tales scattered throughout the novellas and also the full-length Paranormal Romance books that I write. Besides the NJ Devil, I also include the legend of Jenny Jump that is familiar to all who’ve ever taken a trip to The Land of Make Believe in Hope, NJ. There is also a few local legends to the Northwestern part of the state that are explored throughout my books.

Having the opportunity to build this world that is loosely based in reality and add in that bit of magic that I enjoy was kismet.

Jennifer: What are some of your favorite paranormal and fantasy books/authors and why?

SacrificedJeni: That’s like asking me to pick a favorite between my kids, but I’ll try… My first favorite books were all fantasy and sci fi novels my dad read that I “borrowed.” I can’t remember titles or authors from back them because I know I wasn’t supposed to be reading them, but I remember traveling to far away places and meeting aliens and thinking to myself, these are the best books ever!

Since then, I’ve graduated to Charlaine Harris (all of her stuff, not just Sookie), Darynda Jones (who is lovely and paints a fantastic picture of a Reaper), Christine Feehan (who doesn’t want one of her Carpathian Males to have as their very own?), and to make this a little more strange, Shakespeare (because in some ways I feel like he invented fantasy). Like I mentioned earlier, I’m a huge fan of folklore, which adds the Grimm Brothers to my favorites list. They have written some of my favorite folktales. There is even a bit of the Rumpelstiltskin feel to Betrayed and the following novellas, Sacrificed, and Revealed. Again, those are just a few of my go-to’s but I read so much in the paranormal genre there isn’t much I won’t read or haven’t read.

Jennifer: Have you always wanted to be a writer? What got you started on your writing journey?

Jeni: I have wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid. I was that child that would sit and color with a box of crayons and a coloring book making up a story to go along with the picture I was coloring and be so upset when the picture was completely colored and my story wasn’t finished. Soon after that, my mom began buying me notebooks and journals to write my stories in. She always told me I’d be a great children’s author, but true to my defiant nature, I fell in love with writing stories for adults. To me, everyone deserves a few hours of escapism and that’s what I want to provide.

What really got me started was the birth of my son. My husband traveled almost every week for work and when my son went to bed, my house was too quiet. All the storied that I’d been tucking into the dark corners of my brain came crawling forth with torches and pitchforks demanding to be written because I no longer could use the excuse of having to work. So, in a way, finally pursuing a lifelong dream of mine became a reality because I wanted my son to have that role model in his life. I wanted to show him that you can do anything you set your mind to—once you stop making excuses.

Jennifer: What’s next for you? What are you working on?

RevealedJeni: I’m currently in final edits for Revealed (third novella), writing the second full-length (Wind’s Solace), and rough drafting a women’s fiction piece that is nameless at the moment. By August, I plan to be back at writing the final three novellas and in edits on Wind’s Solace, but we shall see what the kids have in store for me this summer.

Thanks again for having me as a guest today!

Jennifer: Thanks so much for being here!

ALL ABOUT JENI

Jeni Burns is a Jersey girl living in a southern world. While she’s firmly planted in the South with her husband, two kids, and one massive poodle, her heart still lives in the Northwestern part of New Jersey where her characters reside. Since writing about home is cheaper than airfare, she spends much of her time living vicariously in NJ’s snowy winters and humidity-free summers.

Jeni has been telling stories since she first learned how to string two words together. Thanks to her mom and her middle school English teacher both telling her she should be a writer, she now happily spends her days writing all the stories that continuously float around in her head while drinking fabulous decaf coffees.

You can find Jeni on the following sites: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram: jeni_burns, and Pintrest.com/jeniaburns

You can find Jeni’s books on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.

GIVEAWAY TIME

Jeni is offering up print copies of Betrayed and Sacrificed (open to US only) and e-book copies of Betrayed and Sacrificed (open internationally). To enter, use the form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Crisis what Crisis?

It’s the summer, at least where I am, which is a great time to feel the sun on your skin, wear cute summer dresses, and have some fun.  Feel the joy of being.  Sometimes I like to sit in the sun with a cold lemonade and contemplate some of life’s bigger questions.  Today I am wondering, How important is mounting crisis to your story?images-2

If you are writing a hero story then crisis is the be all and end all.  You can’t prove that you can take action against danger if there is no danger or physical obstacle to your goal to overcome.  This is a fear driven story.

But if you are writing a story about learning who you are, and showing it to the world, you are writing a story driven by love.  If the story is about finding a way to cross the distance between your protagonist and another person, you are writing a love story.  Love doesn’t reveal itself through challenges.  It reveals itself through connection.  Connection to self, connection to another, and connection to your community or environment.

In the story of love, the obstacle is in your interior and emotional world.  You have to make a connection to your beliefs before you can grow, and you want to grow.  For example, your protagonist wants to belong and the message she gets from her environment is that membership requires certain behaviours (don’t speak until spoken to, the boss has all the good ideas, womanly behaviour is weak).  So she doesn’t shine and nobody notices her or finds her interesting.  Until one day…

enchanted-april-5or, she know that she is different from her family and they have always criticized her for the ways she is not like them.  She knocks herself down to fit in.  Unfortunately, when she meets someone who sees the beauty in her, the old pattern of knocking herself down is a rejection of his love.

You can’t receive love until you find a way to see your pattern and let it go.  Love is about connection.  Connection to self so you can connect to another.

There are times for physical crisis that drives you to action – I’m not questioning that.  But I can’t help but think there is another driver, and we don’t trust it enough to let it take its full place in the story.  It is the ability to turn inward, to awaken to what brings you joy and let that awakening be the main focus of the story.  I’m thinking, the growing connection to who you really are, through knowing what you love, and bringing it to life, even if it doesn’t make logical sense in the fear-driven, competitive, security driven world, is interesting enough to pull a story forward.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

3,652 Days

cakeLast week was the ten-year anniversary of the day I received The Call and sold my very first book. (I brought cake for everyone today! Calorie free!)

It seems like eons ago, as my teenagers were toddlers, and we’ve lived in four different houses and two different states since then. Not to mention, I was in a different age decade (and, sadly, a different weight “decade”). I’ve had various day jobs in the past ten years, including part-owner and code monkey of a website design business, a bookseller, and owner of a copyediting business (www.blueotterediting.com), and I also had a brief stint where I was able to write “full time,” although during that year, I was homeschooling my older son as well. Through all these life stages, one thing has remained constant: Writing is a never-ending learning process.

While I’m far from knowing even half of everything there is to know about writing, (or even a quarter of a half of a third, for that matter), in the past ten years, I have, in fact, figured out a few things. Without further delay, I bring you:

Ten Things I’ve Learned about Writing

  1. Writing is hard. No, really.
  2. No matter how many books you write, writing does not get easier. Truly. It’s one of those the more you do, the less you know kinds of things.
  3. It’s best to write for yourself. You can’t please everyone with your writing, and you’ll always have someone who doesn’t like this or that, so there will be less crazy-making if you don’t even try to write what readers want.
  4. Even after writing nearly 20 stories, I still hyperventilate at the mention of story structure and turning points. Sometimes I get it. A lot of times I just write, squeeze my eyes tightly closed, and cross my fingers hard.
  5. Having a good, thorough, sometimes harsh editor, though painful, can make you a better writer. (Thank you, Victoria Curran. :))
  6. Aqua Notes

    Aqua Notes

    The shower is still the number one place to find story clarity (with those two minutes just before you hit a sound sleep being the number two place/time). And to that end, I recommend investing roughly $8 in an Aqua Notes waterproof notepad. My family knows when I’m making progress on a story (or a blog—this one was 75% created in the shower) because there are four-inch pieces of scribble-covered paper stuck all over the shower walls. (see pic above)

  7. Every writer has his or her own writing process. About 97% of us detest our process.
  8. Part of my process is, when I get about 2/3 of the way into a story, I get stuck on the plot, decide there’s no way I can make this one work, have a loud, monumental meltdown, and threaten to give up writing FOR GOOD THIS TIME. I rant and rave and freak out and sometimes even cry like a baby. And then my ever-so-patient husband calmly, from the other side of the room, points out that I always go through this. Every. Single. Book.
  9. Every single milestone is worthy of celebrating. Finishing the first draft of your first book. Surviving revisions. Seeing the cover for your twelfth book. Writing THE END on your fortieth book. Whether it’s dinner out with the family, a new charm for your bracelet, a bottle of champagne with your critique partners, or a vacation in the Bahamas, treat yourself and celebrate your accomplishment! Because, did I mention? Writing is hard.
  10. Writing is a solitary pursuit, but one of the most important things I’ve learned is that the people you’ll meet on your writing journey, once you put yourself out there, will likely become some of the best friends in your life. So if you haven’t yet connected with other writers, do it. Now. Join a writing group or chapter. Go to a writing conference. Or find an online critique group or partner to start. And if the first connections you make aren’t “right,” keep searching. Because writing soul mates make the whole frustrating, crazy-making, hard endeavor worthwhile.

photo credit: Anniversary Cake via photopin (license)

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Review: Under Contract by Jeffe Kennedy

25542982About the Book:

Title: Under Contract (Falling Under, #3)
Author: Jeffe Kennedy
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: July 13, 2015
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Received from Publisher via NetGalley

Book Summary:

The kinkier the sex, the higher the price tag…
Ryan Black has admired Celestina Sala from afar for years, her lush body and sensual nature calling to the dominant in him. For just as many years, Celestina was off-limits—married, proud and self-sufficient. But all that has changed, and now Celestina is in debt and in need…and available. Ryan proposes a contract: he’ll pay off her debt if she gives herself to him in bed, yielding control in exchange for the pain and pleasure he’ll bring them both.
There are words for women who take money for sex, and none of them are nice ones. Celestina never thought she’d have to sink this low, but giving up control sounds more enticing than ever before. And suddenly it’s not about having to give in to Ryan. It’s about wanting to.
But when Ryan’s dark past comes to light, they may both be in over their heads. The terms of his contract say her body is his…but her heart may be another story.
One thing is for sure—now that Ryan has Celestina, he can never let her go.

My Thoughts:

When I finished Under Contract by Jeffe Kennedy, I was conflicted. I loved the book and disliked the book. Let me explain. I have always loved Kennedy’s erotic romance books. She introduced me to the world of BDSM in a way that made me see a different side of it than I originally believed. A side that can be shared between two consensual adults. A side where each of them enjoy it immensely. However, in Under Contract, I just didn’t enjoy those scenes as I have in the past. Maybe my tastes are changing? I still found myself flying through the book, having a tough time putting it down.

Ryan is a very wealthy businessman. Celestina has recently been let go from her job and raising her two nieces and has no money. Ryan is attracted to Celestina but is worried she won’t be into his eclectic sexual tastes. The entire time I was reading this I thought of the movie ndecent Proposal with Robert Redford and Demi Moore. Just take away the husband and add a little bondage. One thing about Kennedy’s books, though – her characters are real. They have real emotions and when we balk at something in the book, they do too. Celestina thinks the offer is ridiculous, just as most of us would. Kennedy’s characters are always so multi-layered and getting to know them and what makes them tick is usually the most interesting aspect of her books to me. This is why I loved the book. The realness of it. The emotions from the characters and watching them overcome some pretty big challenges.

Ryan was a bit rougher than I would have liked. I understand why and when learning his back story, it made sense, but I just didn’t fall for him. There were moments that I wanted to. I adored the vulnerable moments when Ryan and Celestina finally started getting past just the prearranged agreements and started enjoying each other’s company as two friends. I admired Celestina’s motivation for her actions – her love for nieces Josephina and Carlotta. I think that is what someone would do in her situation, so I accepted her decision to be with Ryan.

Kennedy’s books never really go as you would expect and I think that is one reason I was flipping the pages so quickly. Each turn was a surprise to me. I enjoyed the ending but I felt it was wrapped up a bit quicker than I would have liked. I wanted to see more non-sexual emotion from the two. I am sort of a softie that way, I guess. Under Contract is a really good read. Kennedy’s writing is amazing and her characters are intriguing to read about. If you like BDSM romance, then I definitely recommend you give this one a try.

Reviewed by: Amy Remus

Four stars

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Review: Deal With the Devil by Cynthia Eden

DWTDAbout the Book:

Title: Deal With The Devil (Purgatory, #4)
Author: Cynthia Eden
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Purchased from Barnes & Noble

Book Summary:

Eric Pate is used to making his own rules—as the director of the PARA Unit, he is the boss. Everyone rushes to obey his commands, and no one knows his secrets. No one ever gets too close to him. But then he meetsher.

Ella Lancaster is tired of being a prisoner. She escaped one hell just to find herself in another, but Eric doesn’t consider her containment with his agents as punishment. He actually thinks it is a form of protection. But Eric is so very wrong. Ella doesn’t need protecting, not for anyone or anything.

But when the PARA Unit comes under attack, Ella and Eric both find themselves battling a supernatural beast that they never expected. Forced to join forces, to make a deal, Ella and Eric are soon fighting side-by-side, and their attraction for each other can’t be contained or controlled. Hot. Wild. Consuming. Ella’s deal with her devil is soon taking over her life.

And as Eric falls deeper and deeper under the mysterious Ella’s spell, his legendary control begins to crack. The beast that he has kept chained so carefully inside rises to the surface. Unfortunately, when the devil loses his control…there is hell to pay.

My Thoughts:

Deal With The Devil by Cynthia Eden exceeded my expectations and they were already set high since the Purgatory Series is one of my favorite Paranormal Series. I have wanted to learn about Eric Pate for a very long time and his book was fabulous. In Deal With The Devil, we get to see the always calm and collected Director of the FBI’s PARA Unit come undone. Like completely out of his mind and it is all over Ella. Who would have thought a female would do it?

As the FBI PARA Unit tries to track down Keegan, a previous threat, they encounter a bigger challenge along the way. More than that, though, are the personal challenges that are haunting both Ella and Eric collectively and on an individual basis. Things move fast in Deal With The Devil and I found myself reading very carefully so I didn’t miss a thing.

I love how Eden’s books are always page turners. I think I read this one in just 24 hours and that included sleep and a work day in the office (I am super sneaky at reading on my phone). The balance between action / fight scenes and romance between the characters was right on for this story.

Eric and Ella were phenomenal. Both strong characters that were driven by their primal instincts yet so in control of themselves. It was quite fun to watch each of them lose control. The romance in this one is different. It has a lot more ups and downs than I expected, but it flowed well with the characters’ personalities. I mean, we couldn’t expect Eric Pate to be all trusting right off the bat, right?

While Deal With The Devil doesn’t necessarily need to be read with the others in the series, you will get the most out of it if you read the others first. Some of the additional characters we have already met in previous books and just knowing their story and why the PARA Unit is in the position they are in makes a lot more sense. I always like visiting with characters from past books, too, so it was lovely to see Connor, Shane, Holly and Olivia. The addition of Lawrence is interesting and I wonder if (read: hope) we will see him in his own book someday!

If you like paranormal romance, you must give the Purgatory Series a try. Deal With The Devil gives you everything great about this genre – romance, suspense, action, vampires, werewolves and some others you will learn about!

Reviewed by: Amy Remus

Five stars

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Friday Finds

Welcome to Friday Finds! We would love your input for discounted books, free books, book recommendations or new releases and book contests (where books are the prize). Feel free to submit through our Friday Finds Submission Form. The cut-off is Wednesday for that Friday’s post, and please make sure that the offers you are submitting will be running that Friday. Please check the deals mentioned in this post before buying, as some may have expired. Thanks!

FREE BOOKS

thbBook title: The Hostage Bargain

Book author: Annika Martin

Book blurb: When small town girl Melinda Prescott is taken hostage by three hot bank robbers, she quickly discovers that a life of bank heists, luxury hotels, and kinky menages is way more exciting than working on the family sheep farm. She should be scared of her dominating, fierce captors…but there’s something wicked inside her that’s craving to obey their every dark desire.

Melinda’s an all-too willing captive to three smoldering sex maniacs…but is it all too good to be true? Will her delicious captors overcome their own demons enough to let her in…or is she going to end up a victim of the world’s sexiest crime spree?

Amazon

FF sub-divider

tobyBook title: There’s Only Been You

Book author: Donna Marie Rogers

Book blurb: Lies destroyed their past—will the truth end their chance at a future?

Sara Jamison has no clue where Mike Andrews’ been all these years, but she knows where she’s been—busy raising their son. Two weeks after he accused her of cheating and disappeared from her life, Sara discovered she was something she never expected to be—an unwed pregnant teenager.

But with the love and support of her annoyingly alpha-male family, she’s managed to make a good life for herself and her young son. She even owns her own business, Sara’s Bakery, which she’s built into a thriving success. Sure, she works too hard and her social life is nonexistent, but for the most part, she’s content.

Until the day Detective Mike Andrews walks into her bakery and back into her life…

Amazon

NEW RELEASES

Book title: Biting Love Nibbles

Book author: Mary Hughes

Book blurb: Sparkling, sassy, sinfully sexy. Indulge your yen for action-packed vampire romance with these short bites.

Biting Love Short Bites 1-4 also available separately.

Biting Holiday Honeymoons
That special night with their master vampires is interrupted by Dracula and Santa Vamp. Biting Halloween—Elena and Bo’s honeymoon in the Dells is derailed when they get run off the road by a vampire. They chase him, only to find out Dracula—the real Dracula—is on the loose. Introduces Glynn Rhys-Jenkins from Biting Oz. Biting Christmas—Nixie and Julian slide into a hot-tub honeymoon, but things turn nasty when Santa Vamp and Mrs. Claus show up. Warning: These titles contain vampires. Fighting, biting, loving vampires. And adult couples trying to have sexy times on their wedding nights. Explicit language. Slang guide included.

Oz Bites
Vampires and sex and flamingos oh my! Punk musician Nixie Emerson is now married to her master vampire and life is grand. Until the mayor “voluntells” her to assemble a pit orchestra for Oz, Wonderful Oz, a new Broadway-caliber musical. Problem—she has no budget. Add in a vampire turf war and a pregnancy that makes finding the right sexual position a challenge and running from rogue vampires impossible, and she’s getting overwhelmed. As a rebel who thrives on creative solos, she’s getting zilch for solo time. Then someone blabs there’s no pay and her musicians back out. Worse, whoever’s stealing secrets isn’t just stealing Nixie’s. Warning: Contains wild sex, explicit violence, and a frazzled punk heroine. Or is that explicit sex, wild violence, and a frazzled lawyer vampire? What the heck. There’s sex, swearing, fighting and smiles.

Murder at Chipmunk Lake
Nixie’s lost her mojo! Nixie Emerson, punk rock musician and first-time mom-to-be, has a stalker. Her band Guns and Polkas has gone national after their big stage debut, but the price of fame is the stalker trying to scare her into leaving the band. Her husband, master vampire Julian, whisks Nixie away to the Wisconsin north woods—where they meet the stalker on the pier of their cabin and he again threatens Nixie. Julian punches him out and the couple walks away thinking the problem is over. But when the next evening the stalker is found dead, they find out the trouble is only starting. Warning: contains a cranky pregnant lady trying to control her swearing, a master vampire appeasing his wife with food and creative sex, murder, mayhem and several arguments over what to name the baby.

Biting Serendipity
Best April Fools joke ever—falling in love. Serendipity “Sera” Braun hoists beer steins at her tavern job, where a Viking bouncer is bedsheets waiting to get sweaty. But Thor only scowls at her. Warning: A terribly lonely vampire, a conflicted schoolmarm with a caged wild side, nosy roommates and the female version of a bromance, not to mention scorching sex, swearing with the **** filled in, a whole town full of busybodies—and the best April Fools joke ever.

These stories contain material intended for mature audiences. Reader discretion advised.

Amazon | B&N

99c BOOKS

bsBook title: Biting Serendipity

Book author: Mary Hughes

Book blurb: Best April Fools joke ever—falling in love.

Serendipity “Sera” Braun wears glasses and a bun to teach during the day, but at night, she adds a breast-plumping vest and dirndl for her job hoisting beer steins at Nieman’s Bar. The big, leather-vest-and-earringed Viking bouncer? He’s bedsheets waiting to get sweaty, but all he does is scowl at her. She’s trying to keep her geriatric stripper of a granny from breaking a hip, but it’s hard when she keeps getting distracted by that sexy, smoky baritone.

Thorvald Thorsson is bitingly lonely—every vampire around him is mating. But his ex-fiancée rejected him as a killjoy (her exact words were he ate rules and s*** misery), so it’s high time Fun Thor comes out to play. No way he’d pair up with the cute but too-serious little schoolmarm who waits tables at the bar.

Sera bridles the wicked, delicious things she’d like to do with the muscular Viking, suppressing herself until she’s a volcano about to blow. Then they are thrown together in a prank war, and all his potent masculinity is focused on her. He makes her burn to let loose, but how can she and still be responsible for Granny and set a good example?

Warning: A terribly lonely vampire, a conflicted schoolmarm with a caged wild side, nosy roommates and the female version of a bromance, not to mention scorching sex, swearing with the **** filled in, a whole town full of busybodies—and the best April Fools joke ever.

This story contains material intended for mature audiences. Reader discretion advised.

Amazon | B&N

SPECIAL OFFERS

kgBook title: Karma Girl

Book author: Jennifer Estep

Book blurb: Investigative reporter Carmen Cole gets the surprise of her life on her wedding day when she discovers that her fiance and best friend are sleeping together – and that the two of them are her town’s resident superhero and ubervillain. Shocked and hurt, Carmen reveals their secret identities and then decides to devote her life to unmasking every superhero and ubervillain who crosses her path.

A series of successful unmaskings lands Carmen a job at The Expose, one of the biggest newspapers in Bigtime, New York, a city that’s full of superheroes and ubervillains. Carmen is in her element – until she gets kidnapped by the Terrible Triad, Bigtime’s most dangerous ubervillain team.

The Triad orders Carmen to uncover the secret identity of Striker, the leader of the Fearless Five, Bigtime’s most popular superhero team – or else they’ll drop her in a vat of radioactive goo. With that threat hanging over her, Carmen sets out to unmask Striker, but what she doesn’t count on is falling for the sexy superhero. But with the Terrible Triad lurking around, this is one story that just might be the death of her …

Link/s to book: KARMA GIRL, Bigtime #1, is on sale for 99 cents at the following sites:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

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The Coast Guard–Badasses? Who Knew?

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/15390598@N08/4002907229 by Christina Splcuzza

The motto on their website is Born Ready and, boy, does that sound heroic.  I have recently been researching the Coast Guard (CG) for my To Protect and Serve ongoing series with Harlequin Romantic Suspense under my Karen Anders pen name. With the release of Joint Engagement, a story about the collaborative effort between Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), I have to admit that I was first introduced to CGIS through the TV show NICS. I was intrigued that they had a branch of the CG that acted just like NCIS, only the agents in the CG can sometimes be active duty instead of civilian.

During the writing of Joint Engagement, I got even more interested in exploring other aspects of our protectors on the sea. Now, I have to say how completely impressed I am with this small, but well-trained and tough branch of the military.

This is the description from their website: The Coast Guard is one of our nation’s five military services. We exist to defend and preserve the United States. We protect the personal safety and security of our people; the marine transportation system and infrastructure; our natural and economic resources; and the territorial integrity of our nation–from both internal and external threats, natural and man-made. We protect these interests in U.S. ports, inland waterways, along the coasts, and on international waters.

Because of my interests in a variety of stories, I decided to focus on search and rescue, an integral part of the CG’s mission. Alexander Hamilton, known as a “Revenue Marine,” suggested its creation in 1790. But the search and rescue part of the CG that is so much a part of today’s service happened when the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (an organization that evolved out of the Revenue Marine and initially collected customs duties) and the U.S. Life-Saving Service merged in 1915.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/50880267@N08/17056274642 by New York Coast Guard

I focused my new stories on twin sisters that evolved from characters I created for a soon to be released book, Her Master Defender out in October. These sisters are mixed race, blending Inuit and white and are out of Unalaska, Alaska where the adjacent Dutch Harbor is home to the largest fishing fleet in the world, and is documented in the Discovery Channel series, Deadliest Catch. One of the sisters I made a search and rescue helicopter pilot (Book #8, titled A Deadly Catch) and the other a search and rescue swimmer (Book #6, titled Counterstrike). The pilot sister goes back home during her second tour of duty where she flies the big Jayhawk helos out of Air Station Kodiak, Kodiak, AK and the swimmer sister’s story is set in both San Diego and the tropical rainforests of Brazil. So far the research has been both enjoyable (watched The Guardian) and awe-inspiring.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/lens-cap/7777310670/in/photostream/ by Jim Bauer

Reading about rescues at sea out of Air Station Kodiak impressed the heck out of me. Facing great odds, risking their lives, and still getting the job done, the men and women of the CG battle freezing seas, buffeting and gale force winds. They often pull fishermen off crippled ships and plucking them out of wind tossed seas that can reach up to 40 feet. Of course, this makes for great fiction, but their mission doesn’t have anything to do with fiction. It’s their job, one they do with professionalism, skill, and dedication. Another story evolved out of the sister pilot story that is a secret baby plot and involves another rescue swimmer, this time a hero. I couldn’t resist the intriguing plot that started forming when I wrote the proposal for A Deadly Catch.

So in total I have three new Coast Guard stories to write. Here are the blurbs:

To Protect and Serve – Book #6
Counterstrike

Petty Officer Neve Michaels, USCG broke her collar bone during a search and rescue gone bad—the guy was dead before she got to him. Three weeks after the rescue, someone breaks into her apartment and tries to kill her. She lets the police, her brother and her friends think it was a home intruder when she knows it was an assassin sent specifically for revenge. The guy she couldn’t save is part of a family of arms dealers and his oldest brother is now gunning for her and her whole family. She’s at the top of his hit list. To save her family and herself, she’s got to take him out before he takes her out. But, before she can go on the offensive, Russell “Rock” Kazcewski happens. He’s too smart to believe her story and once he sees all her gear, he makes her spill the beans. Rock has no intention of letting her go off to a foreign country to track down a gun runner alone. He just has to find a way to keep his hands off his best friend’s sister. Yeah, right, ignore all the signs that say Neve has a thing for him, too. The hardest part of this op isn’t the thick and dangerous jungle, the almost impossible op or the murderous weapon brokers—it’s the threat to their hearts.

To Protect and Serve – Book #8
A Deadly Catch

Seasoned helicopter search and rescue United States Coast Guard pilot Commander Nova Michaels, has been sent for her second tour to Air Station Kodiak located near Dutch Harbor and her home town of Unalaska, Alaska. Flying helicopters is what she is born to do and no matter how much she detests the profession, pulling fishermen out of the Bering Sea is her mission, but what she doesn’t expect is sexy, charming Logan Buchanan. His boat sinks and it’s her quick thinking and skill that saves the day. But, with the loss of his livelihood, he signs on to work her father’s boat. She can’t seem to shake him or the danger that he unwittingly brings into her life. Problem is she is all about leaving and he is all about putting down roots. They don’t see eye to eye, but there’s enough heat generated to melt the ice in the frozen waters of the perilous Bering Sea.

To Protect and Serve – Book #10
Unsafe and Unsound

Two years have passed since Dr. Kelly Hu, left the Coast Guard for an exciting and busy life of a NCIS medical examiner, her heart in tatters. She’s now working out of the NCIS San Diego office. During an intense cross-service search for a serial killer who is murdering women military medical personnel, Kelly runs into Coast Guard rescue swimmer, Jason Hollow. It has been two years since they parted, two years since their illicit affair could have gotten both of them court-marshalled, two years since she gave birth to their daughter, a daughter he knows nothing about. As she’s targeted by the serial killer, Jason refuses to leave her side, elated by the news that he’s a father and devastated by Kelly keeping that secret all this time. He needs the time to work out his pain and anger, and the feelings he still harbors for Kelly while protecting her from a man intent on taking her life, taking everything.

You can find my photo inspiration and all my proposed upcoming books for the series on my website here. I am so excited about writing and researching them. If you’d like to read about the CG, you can go here.

It’s great to know that the CG is always on alert. Tell me any thoughts, stories, people you know that have to do with the CG. I would love to hear them.

My next two releases:

Going to the Dogs 2: Piggy Bank Blues

Piggy Bank Book 1 SmlA penny saved is a penny earned.

Ian Lassiter is living the high life in Manhattan and loving it. He’s a successful artist and sculptor and has just adopted an adorable Mantle Great Dane named Ozzie from his sister, Callie. The bachelor life suits him, so he thinks until he gets a load of AlphaGroup’s newest client.

Elizabeth “Lizzie” O’Reilly is trying to save her art school for the deaf where she teaches. Thinking her clever Border Collie, Georgia who paints amazing huge abstract flowers could be commercial, she reads about grants available from AlphaGroup Investments that could help out. But, the guy she deals with, Ian, is not only drop-dead gorgeous, but he’s a renowned artist and touted as a confirmed bachelor. Lizzie comes from a big family and the man she gets involved with would have to embrace not only a happily ever after with her, but want kids as desperately as she does.

Ian just doesn’t fit the bill, or does he?

To Protect and Serve: Her Master Defender

9780373279395A battle-hardened marine and a driven NCIS agent join forces to survive…

Though survival training is Master Sergeant Tristan Michaels’s specialty, one of his students has been murdered. And sharing quarters with the ravishing NCIS agent sent to investigate is a challenge his expertise hasn’t prepared him for. Tristan has his reasons for distrusting NCIS agents, but Amber Dalton is stirring unwelcome feelings of a different kind…

Despite the fierce attraction between them, Amber is determined not to let it distract her from the mission. But when they’re captured by the killers, escape means combining forces and daring to survive freezing mountain terrain.

 

Photo credits:

photo credit: IMG_2087 via photopin (license)
photo credit: 150402-Z-SV144-010 via photopin (license)
photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard HH-65A Dolphin via photopin (license)

Posted in Zoe's Posts | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Autographed books

I was walking through my local Books-A-Million a couple of months ago when I noticed a copy of Embassy Row Book 1: All Fall Down by Ally Carter sitting on a table. I had been thinking about getting the book, but that day, I picked up the book and actually bought it.

Embassy Row autographed bookWhy? Because it was an autographed copy.

I’ve been noticing more and more autographed copies by a variety of authors on the shelves of my local Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble. For Christmas last year, I bought my dad a signed copy of Wait For Signs: Twelve Longmire Stories by Craig Johnson. A couple of months ago, I ordered some signed copies of Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman from Porter Square Books after I saw an online ad about the signed copies.

I still prefer print books over e-books and audiobooks, so I usually buy a print copy of whatever book I’m interested in reading, especially if it’s by an author that I’ve read before. So I’m enjoying seeing all the signed copies on the shelves.

Admittedly, buying a signed copy off the shelf is not as fun or cool as actually meeting that author in person and getting him or her to sign my book. But I’ll never get to meet all the authors that I want to in person, so this is the next best thing.

Having that print copy signed by the author is definitely a little extra incentive for me to buy (and keep) that book. Plus, signed books by favorite authors can make really cool gifts. So I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more signed books at my local stores, especially during the holiday season.

What about you guys? Are you more likely to buy an autographed book? Why or why not?

Posted in Jennifer's Posts | Tagged | 6 Comments