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Romantic Thriller

Review: Fever Zone by Cindy Dees

“I will hurt you for this. I don’t know how yet, but give me time. A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you’ll know the debt is paid.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

“How I hate this world. I would like to tear it apart with my own two hands if I could. I would like to dismantle the universe star by star, like a treeful (sic) of rotten fruit. Nor do I believe in progress. A vermin-eaten saint scratching his filth for heaven is better off than you damned in clean linen. Progress doubles our tenure in a vale of tears. Man is a mistake, to be corrected only by his abolition, which he gives promise of seeing to himself. Oh, let him pass, and leave the earth to the flowers that carpet the earth wherever he explodes his triumphs. Man is inconsolable, thanks to that eternal “Why?” when there is no Why, that question mark twisted like a fishhook in the human heart. “Let there be light,” we cry, and only the dawn breaks.” ― Peter De Vries, The Blood of the Lamb

Fever ZoneCindy Dees, the author of Fever Zone, should have known that there was going to be an issue when her airplane seatmate, who had been glancing more and more often at her laptop screen, opened a conversation.

Him: “Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you who you are.”
Me (surprised): “And you would be who? (Honestly, I expected him to be an air marshal, given his size and chilly demeanor.)
Him: “I work for Homeland Security.”

Of course, the next few hours sitting in a sterile airport office being interrogated by a variety of alphabet agencies pretty much guaranteed that she had stumbled upon a story line that made said agencies extremely uncomfortable. Guaranteeing to wait for a year, for Homeland to “plug the hole” Dees did, indeed, wait to publish. And the story, of grief and hatred, obsession, cultism and terrorism is breathtaking in its twisted, terrifying simplicity. The youngest female fighter pilot in history, Dees worked in intelligence gathering and was detained by both the KGB and East German secret police, so she has the background to understand the inner workings of government and military agencies, and her scenario, in all its twists and turns, is highly believable. The backgrounds of the ‘bad guys’ involved are almost mundane in their very commonality, while the history of “The Scientist” who anchors the story is heartbreaking and, again, so real as to allow you to actually feel his despair.

“Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.” – William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 2 Scene 1

The West Bank. Jerusalem. One year ago. Yusef Abahdi, his daughter Salima, and his wife Marta, are Palestinians, living in a world defined by the ongoing conflict between Jews, Zionists, Muslims and Christians, all determined to destroy one another over a bit of desert wasteland with a millennia-old history of violence and savagery. It is a life of poverty, hunger and razor wire, suicide bombers and high-powered rifles trained on them every day by young Israeli Defense Force soldiers with itchy trigger fingers, filled with their own overwhelming dread. Yusef, with his degree in biochemistry, cares for his daughter during the day the best he can, while Marta, with her masters in Literature, works as a maid for a rich Jewish family. A life of terror, brought to a razor’s edge by a bomb. A bomb that crystallizes into a core of cold, diamond hard rage.

What comes next is a tale that is terrifying to behold in its very simplicity. Take a broken man, filled with rage, a simple-minded cult of Luddites, mix in enough money to forward a plot whose edges are ill-defined, and wrap it all up in a race to save hundreds of thousands of people from a manufactured plague. The concept of the story got the attention of Homeland Security, so you know the fear is real. This part of the story is well researched and well written.

But then, we get to “the other part.” Here is where the tale comes crashing down around the reader’s ears.

Mike McCloud is a Navy Special Forces operative, an observer, watching over a filthy street on a rooftop in Khartoum. Once one of the greatest cities of the world, Khartoum is a little corner of Purgatory, savage and brutal – and an incubator for some of the most savage terrorists the world has ever known.

Piper Roth is also an observer, sent by the CIA to follow up on a pair of seemingly innocuous cult members who have changed their MO drastically by scurrying off to the Sudan.  When the two meet eye-to-eye through rifle scopes while observing the savage murder of a shopkeeper in the middle of the street (Observe. Report. Do NOT engage.), the question is, “Shoot, or don’t shoot?” Neither shoots, it is ‘observe only,’ you know. Roth flees. McCloud chases. His brief is to know everyone in the area, to find The Scientist, and to find out why a previously unknown Warlord is moving in on this seemingly worthless neighborhood in an even more worthless city. And he is determined to know who the other sniper is, what ‘he’ is doing there, and who he works for. Only, the ‘he’ is a she. And this chapter is the one that nearly had me putting the book down and walking away.

This is a serious subject, and from the intro (EbolaFeverZone) I expected a serious book. What I got was the two of them running through the streets, him overtaking and overwhelming her as if she has no CIA self-defense or evasion training whatsoever, and the two of them immediately rutting like wild dogs without knowing, 1) Who each other are, 2) Who the other person works for, 3) Each others names, or 4) Hey, do you, like, have any diseases I need to know about? You know, since we are in the armpit of the universe and STDs, as well as, oh, I don’t know, Lassa, Ebola and other little nasties are commonplace . . .

GAARG!!! (Of course, I should have known from the cover, right? I was just hoping….oh, and she is a blonde, not a brunette as it shows on the cover. Sigh.) Pages of rutting, then the “Big Strong Alpha Male” rescuing the “Weak Little Woman” (who does things so stupid I simply could not, under any circumstances, believe it – I mean, you are an observer, woman! Observe, don’t go rushing in to fight a couple of religious policemen who are beating a young girl, you idjit. That shit happens. It sucks, but it isn’t your job.) Followed by more pages of rutting and the supposedly CIA trained and experienced CIA observer whining and mewling in her head ad nauseum with the whole “I hate him but I want to screw him again and, oh, woe is me, does he like me or doesn’t he like me and I want to marry him and have his babies, but I hate him for treating me like an ignorant child (even though she acts like an ignorant child) who needs his big strong protection, but oh, lets screw again”  crap pissed me the hell off. I mean, the author is a decorated pilot, for Pete’s sake! I really would like to not think that she is a whiny, needy wreck like her so-called heroine.

Hence, my less-than-stellar review of a book suffering from schizophrenia and a serious identity crisis. Romantic thrillers I understand, and actively look for in my reading. They are, basically, romances that at least have a good story line to back up the nookie. But I expected much more from this book. I wanted what it was advertised as – a Thriller. What I got was a serious, thoughtful idea weighed down by cliché, with a female lead I wanted to shake some sense into. Come on – you are a CIA agent poached from the CDC – I would expect you to have a modicum of common sense! I suppose I am offended, mainly, because I expected so much, and she delivered so little.

Anyway. I found the book on eBookDiscovery.com. I got it for free in exchange for a realistic review. I am only taking on books right now that really grab my attention as I am so busy, but this one showed such promise, I couldn’t refuse. As much as I gripe, I do recommend reading it. It is Very. Scary. I just wish the author had laid off catering to the romance-only crowd and been serious about her characters. It would have been a much better book and would draw the attention of a much wider audience without being crippled by the heavy concentration on the cliché romance rather than the story.

Review: Hot Water: Mossy Bog Book 2 by Maggie Toussaint

“When she awoke, the world was on fire.” ― Scott Westerfeld, Uglies

“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.” ― Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

hotwaterIt really doesn’t smell like roast pork, you know. A burned human body, that is. There is just too much difference – a plain slab of pig flesh as compared to a blood filled human body. And Laurie Ann Dinterman knows that smell. Somewhere in the ruins of the former Pirate’s Cove Restaurant, someone has burned to death. Now, the question is not only who, but why.

As the only female officer in Mossy Bog, Laurie works harder, and longer, than anyone else in the department. She has to, if she is going to transfer out of a department where she gets no respect into the Sheriff’s Investigative Department. Finding the answer to the arson of the Pirate’s Cove, and the answer to why drifter James Brown (no relation) was inside the building when it burns may mean the difference between promotion and being stuck in Hillbilly Hell for another year.

Enter Georgia State Fire Investigator Wyatt North, a genuine, red blooded pain in the Police Chief’s ass. A PitA that the Chief is determined to dump on Laurie Ann – and if he gets so much as a hangnail, it will be not the Chief’s ass on the line, but Laurie Ann’s. Because North isn’t just the Fire Investigator. He is a Fire Investigator who had a breakdown when he lost his partner to a serial arsonist. Oh, and did he mention that the guy is also the much beloved nephew of the First Lady? Yep. Of the good ol’ US of A. Babysitting duty. Oy.

Maggie Toussaint has done a beautiful job with Hot Water. Her characters are believable, her setting well drawn, and her research/knowledge of how things run in a small department is spot-on. Believe me, I have been a woman in a small, backwater police department. It isn’t fun.

This is a romantic suspense novel, but unlike many stories Toussaint doesn’t overwhelm the “suspense” with the “romance”. This is a well-rounded story with a tight storyline and a heavy dose of edge-of-your-seat action, a bit of snark, and a few well interspersed laughs. Overall, a book I would recommend to both romance and suspense readers.

This is Book 2 of the Mossy Bog Series. I didn’t feel lost at all, even though I hadn’t read the first book. I hope you enjoy it. If you enjoyed my review, please say “yes” to my Amazon post. Thank you!

About The Author:

Maggie Toussaint

A scientist by training, a romanticist at heart, Maggie Toussaint loves to solve puzzles. Whether it’s the puzzle of a relationship or a who-dun-it, she tackles them all with equal aplomb and wonder. Maggie writes romantic suspense for The Wild Rose Press, contemporary romance for Muddle House Publishing, and cozy mystery for Five Star.She has five published romantic suspense novels: House of Lies (won the 2006 Readers Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense), No Second Chance (won 2 cover awards), Seeing Red (LASR book of the week), Muddy Waters ( Beacon finalist), Hot Water (EPIC finalist, cover art winner), and Rough Water.

Her mystery titles include In For A Penny, On the Nickel, Death, Island Style, Murder in the Buff, Dime If I Know, and Gone and Done It.

Her works blend mystery and romance, often with a dash of humor.

Besides being a member of Washington Romance Writers, she’s also a member of First Coast Romance Writers, Southeast Mystery Writers of America, Sisters In Crime, and Florida Writers Association. She was awarded the WRW Magic Crystal Award in 2004.

Visit her at www.maggietoussaint.com and at her alter ego’s site www.rigelcarson.com

Review: Sweet Deception by Angel Nicholas

Sweet Deception: HarperImpulse Romantic Suspense - Angel NicholasAnyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate… but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins. – Franz Kafka

Truth is everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for. – Bob Marley

Sweet Deception. It sounds like one of those “Boy meets girl. Boy saves girl from minor problem. They all live HEA. The end.”

I wonder who decided on that title? Because, though there are six five star and one four star very-well-deserved reviews, the people who are expecting a simplistic story are going to be disappointed, and the readers who would pick up a powerful, contemporary suspense/thriller would not normally pick it up offhand. And this is a powerful book. Oh, the whole HEA romance thing is in there – though it might have been better served in another novel. Just my opinion, because I found that it distracted from the overall story line.

Ally Thompson’s life is boring. Go to work in insurance claims, come home, have dinner, pour a glass of wine and read a book in bed. (Hey, that is my life!) Tired of listening to all the fun that her coworkers had over the weekend on Monday mornings, she decides it is time to do something adventurous. Well, not too adventurous, but riding a roller coaster is a start, right? Ensconced in the “special” seat at the rear of the coaster she finds herself seated next to (of course) tall blond and sexy detective “Surfer Dude”. When one of the riders is murdered and thrown from the car, Greg the Surfer Dude saves her life (of course) and thus begins a much more serious contemporary tale than I had expected based on the cover and title. In a word, this is one thrilling book – but it is also excruciatingly current in what is, to me, the best sort of way. Angel Nicholas rips the blinders off of modern issues that many would like to ignore – or pretend don’t exist in the first place.

Drug running, human trafficking, sex trafficking, dirty cops – all play a gut wrenching role in the tale. And this is why I would have been happier with the book if it left out Ally pining over Mr. “I’m too gutless to have a real relationship but I am more than happy to bang you blind – and if you try to have a relationship with anyone else I will stalk you and show up on your doorstep” Guy. Yeah, yeah, he finally “comes around” several months after the end of the ‘action’ – and yeah, yeah, she takes him back. Meh. It detracts from the importance of the book itself as it tries to pull in both the romance and the suspense crowd.

The person expecting a ‘sweet’ romance isn’t going to like this. There is brutality, rape, sex slavery of both adult women and children, (two instances of which Ally is forced to watch, as “training”), and several scenes where the heroine is subjected to the worst kinds of humiliation, though she is not actually raped.

Yes, yes, I know. I get psychotic over books that depict rape and sadism – but my problems with those books are where the actions are presented as being “acceptable”. This isn’t that sort of book. It brings into the light things that society would rather keep hidden, stripping off the blinders and making the reader truly see.

Something else it brings to light? How our government will allow these things to continue to happen as they “build their case” – no matter the suffering that women and children go through as the “case” is built. Sometimes YEARS of torture, rape and sometimes death – which can honestly be a blessing given what they are subjected to day after day. All enslaved  by monsters, of course. But the real monsters? The ones who live next door – who have wives and children and jobs, who attend PTA and host cookouts in the back yard and birthday parties for your children. And who slip away at odd hours to rape and brutalize women – and of course, children the same age or younger than their own little ones.
/
So. My recommendation? READ. THIS. BOOK. But don’t expect “sweet and cuddly.” Expect realism, expect truth, expect good writing (well, except for the romance part – IMO Ally would have been better off sticking with being the strong, wonderful woman she was, and she does create something truly wonderful with her life before Greg comes back around) than sticking around for Mr. “It’s All About Me” but there was finally a HEA so those that wanted it got a sweet ending.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own, and I am very happy to recommend it! If you like my reviews, please let me know on your country’s Amazon.com! I post to US, CA, AU, UK.

Review: The Buried by Shelley Coriell Book Two of The Apostles

buriedAlone!—that worn-out word,
So idly spoken, and so coldly heard;
Yet all that poets sing and grief hath known
Of hopes laid waste, knells in that word – Alone! – Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton (1846) – The New Timon Part ii.

The knell, the shroud, the mattock, and the grave,
The deep damp vault, the darkness and the worm.
Edward Young – Night Thoughts. Night iv. Line 10.
All Grace Courtemanche wants (well, besides her stellar career as a Florida State Prosecutor – Grace: 345 Bad Guys: 0) is a home. A family. A place to put down roots and feel secure. Daddy always told her, winners do, Gracie, and doers win. And so she has, over and over again. In her most recent win, the mafia don she put away has tried bribery, threats, and now putting money into an offshore account in her name, getting her placed on administrative leave. Sigh. It can sometimes suck to be perfect.

After multiple threatening calls, Grace simply sends all the restricted number calls to her voice mail, for later retrieval by the sheriff’s office. But today, after eight calls, she picks up the phone on the ninth. And drops straight into a horror story.

It’s cold. And dark. I can’t breathe.”

Desperate to save the young girl trapped in a coffin below ground, Grace throws her must win personality into trying to find and rescue the victim whose terrified voice and heartrending tears call out to her for help. But, why is the girl calling her?

What follows is a race against time, and against a psychopath who apparently has a personal grudge against Grace, and no compunction about murdering innocents to make a point.

Luckily, her ex-husband has literally sailed back into town, docking his sailboat, No Regrets, in the harbor. He has his own problems, in the form of a thirteen-year-old son he didn’t even know he had. All the care in the world can’t help when your lover sabotages the condoms. Now, Hatch must help the grandmother trying to raise Alex to save him from himself. A member of a specialized FBI team, The Apostles, under the leadership of the infamous Parker Lloyd, Hatch is more than happy to assist his ex in her search for the Gravedigger, desperately working along with his crack team to help find the victims, and the soulless killer who is terrorizing Cypress Bend.

As with The Broken, Shelley Coriell’s first Apostle novel, there are many and varied layers to the tale. Grace is a driven woman, driven to the point where, as much as she wants a ‘life’ she has none outside of her work, and the house on the hill she dreams of building. Well, there IS Allegheny Blue, the ancient blue tick hound who refuses to leave his previous home, literally hiking back home from his new home twice, from his owner’s new home over 100 miles away. Now that is dedication to the land he was born and raised on. But Allegheny Blue isn’t her dog – is he?
Agent “Hatch” Hatcher is also well written, a sailor with no ties, and a loose-and-easy way of life that destroyed his connection with his wife ten years ago.

You expected me to give up everything – my job, my family, my dreams and sail with you into the sunset.

Or, did he? Be that as it may, now he seems the same, but different, as Grace watches Hatch and his team work together in a race against time. The other characters are as well developed, and the tension and suspense keeps you turning pages well into the night, breathless for the next big reveal. Who is committing these atrocities, and how is the murder of an elderly couple, being investigated by Greenup, Kentucky State Police Detective Tucker Holt, tied into these brutal crimes? All shall be revealed, and the answers to all of your questions? Well, let’s just say I was shocked and horrified at the answers – answers that will rock the small town of Cypress Bend, Grace and even the vaunted Apostles.

Overall, I was truly happy to be asked by Shelley to review her second book, and I can’t recommend it highly enough for lovers of suspense.

I received this book from the author in return for a realistic review. All my comments are my own. Please see my website for my review of The Broken.

Reckless Endangerment by Amber Lee Easton

None of us are who we were. Do you think I’m the same person I was before seeing my best friend killed? Before stepping over Marishka’s body and the bodies of her murdered children? Before seeing you face down in the dirt? Do you think I don’t see corpses in my sleep? Do you think that hasn’t changed me?” – Hope Shane, Reckless Endangerment by Amber Lee Easton

Hello All.  As is easy to tell from my last blog post and others, I am deeply interested in finding ways to help injured war veterans and their families. As such, I try to nudge my readers to pay attention, to learn about things like PTSD and the horrors and devastation of war. It isn’t just the bodies of those who fight for us that are injured. Minds and souls are often damaged beyond repair. Families break apart, soldiers return from war only to realize that they are no longer able to function in society, tortured by their memories. Suicide is common, as is winding up on the streets, living in alleyways and suffering even more pain as the very country they served turns their back on them.

I haven’t read this book, but as I was checking my messages on Twitter, I came across Amber Lea Easton and her book, Reckless Endangerment. Reading what the book was about, I knew it had to join my To Be Read shelf. Here is the blurb and an excerpt. If you get a chance to read it, or if you already have, please shoot me an email and let me know what you thought about it, and I will do the same when I get a chance to read it myself.

Cheers!  Leiah

Passion
Click to order

Reckless Endangerment Blurb:

Heroes come in many forms–soldiers who fall and rise and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Sometimes heroes fall and take the ones they love down with them. Colonel Michael Cedars and reporter Hope Shane fell in love in a war zone, but then the world blew up, and splintered their lives in two.

Michael Cedars returns home from Afghanistan wounded and unsure where he fits in this ‘new normal’ of civilian life. Unsure if he’ll walk again, he questions his abilities as a man, husband, and father. Accustomed to giving orders, he’s thrown into a world where he doesn’t know the rules anymore and no one is respecting the officer in the room.

Hope isn’t one who gives up easily—not on her marriage and not on the innocent victims of a human trafficking ring she’s investigating. As the danger of her story intensifies, she struggles with her own post-traumatic stress disorder and a husband who resists her love.

Danger intensifies as Hope searches for truth and justice. Everyone she loves is at risk. Will her reckless pursuit of the human trafficking ring jeopardize their lives?

Michael knows she needs him, but doubts his ability to be the hero she still believes him to be. Is he still the man she married or has he become a liability that could get her killed?

___________________________

Reviews For Reckless Endangerment:

5 stars – Extremely talented
By ChristophFischerBooks “Chris”
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)

Although this book is marketed as romantic suspense it also covers some serious issues, such as people trafficking and post-traumatic stress disorder, adding further depth to a book that is rich in plot and personal conflict already. Nothing prepared me for the literary quality of this novel. Regular romance and suspense fans get more than enough here to be satisfied by the great chemistry between the main characters and the intriguing story lines. However, if you – like myself – want a little bit more out of a book than you will find it in the well-handled and insightful passages about trafficking and PSD, issues that are handled with care rather than in an exploitative or decorative manner.
Easton clearly cares about what she writes and it pays dividends, her book is surprisingly impressive and certainly recommended.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Gritty At Times, Realistic, With An Immensely Satisfying Romance and Mystery
By J. Faltys “Joder”

By the end of Reckless Endangerment I can sum it up by saying it’s Triple-H……heartbreaking, heartwarming, and heart-pounding. It’s full of likable and fully fleshed-out characters, realistically depicted issues related to the aftermath of war, and it presented a fast-paced mystery surrounding human trafficking that kept me on the edge of my seat. It shows that atrocities not only occur in faraway lands but outside our front door as well. As two people deal both mentally and physically with the hand war dealt them it’s only through love and acceptance that true healing can begin and a HEA can be fully achieved

5.0 out of 5 stars
Great read
By Sglas

I love this book! The author did a great job of writing a contemporary novel with all the twists and turns that make it impossible for you to put the book down!! I am really impressed with the author’s use of hard hitting problems facing today’s society and integrating them into the story line. This is not just another cookie cutter, predictable romance!! I highly recommend this book for all who looking for a novel with a little something extra!

Excerpt From Reckless Endangerment:

“I’m sick of not having a say in what I do or don’t do. You can’t do this. Just because I’m trapped in this chair doesn’t mean I don’t have a say about my life and I want you out of it. Get the hell out and leave me alone. I don’t want to be married to you and, unless something’s changed in the good ol’ USA, you can’t stop me from divorcing you. Listen closely, babe. I. Don’t. Want. You.”

Rage consumed him. Rage for what could have been, what should have been, for a life lost. Rage for everyone acting like he had no rights anymore, like he couldn’t make his own decisions. He tossed the wedding ring and pictures across the room.

Looking horrified, she covered her mouth with her hands and walked to where the frames smashed against the floor. As she bent, her bag spilled, contents ranging from liquid soap to a flashlight scattered across the tile. She fell to her knees, hands shaking as she scooped up the items. Broken glass crunched beneath her. Hair shielded her face from view, but he knew she cried.

He remembered another time with her on her knees when that bag had saved his sanity. Bombs had rocked the walls. Blood had dripped into his eyes. Dizziness weakened his legs. From that bag, she’d retrieved bandages, protein bars, and bottles of water. He had thanked God for her and that oversized bag.

“I’ll make sure I call next time,” she said in rushed, quiet voice, “wouldn’t want to inconvenience you.”

“I’m sorry.” He dropped his hands to the arms of the chair and stared at her bent head. “I don’t know how to handle any of this anymore, Hope, especially you.”

She froze at his words. “Especially me, huh? I’m the one constant in your life, if you haven’t figured that out yet. Despite all the bullshit, here I am. Me, stupid me, still needing you as much today as I did a year ago.”

His chest caved in at the sight of her eyes glistening with tears. He wanted to take it back, every word.

“I don’t know how to do this, how to be married, how to be back in the States, how to be a civilian again, how not to walk,” he admitted.
“You break my heart,” she whispered.

“How could I possibly break your heart?”

“By not seeing how strong you are, how much you mean to everyone in your life, how worthy you are to be alive, how heroic you’ve been, how much I love you.”

“Don’t say that.”

“Maybe I need to stop trying to hold on. Maybe you’re right.” Sighing, her shoulders slumped. “We were this close,” she held her fingers an inch apart, “to having a life together when everything blew up in our faces. Literally. What else do I have to lose, right? I already lost my dignity when I begged those damn bureaucrats to let me see you in Germany. And when I say begged, I mean I begged, pleaded, bartered, whatever I could possibly say or do to get in and they told me that you,” she pointed at him, “said no, you told them I lied about being married to you. McGee backed you up. I looked like a fool and a liar.”

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“Now you’re doing it again, denying me. You’d rather sit in this place alone than admit to the world that I’m your wife. It’s true.” She nodded, gaze gluing him in place. “I gave up my everything for you. My life. My pride. My dignity. I gave it all up for you.”

“Why?” he choked out the question. “I did everything to get you to let me go. I don’t want you to give up anything for me; can’t you see that? You were born to be in the spotlight, dodging bullets, charming your way into and out of trouble. I’m an anchor to you now; you know it but refuse to admit it. I want you to forget me. Why won’t you let me go?”

She closed her eyes, face tilted toward the ceiling. “Because maybe I went crazy over there. Maybe we weren’t this close,” again with the fingers, “to having a life together. Maybe we were already there. Maybe it wasn’t conventional, but it was real, it was us. Maybe I misunderstood sex for more. Maybe I thought that our wedding meant as much to you as it did to me. Maybe I’m the biggest fool to walk planet earth.”

“But now I’m broken so…”

“Yeah, that’s right.” Nodding, she looked away and brushed the back of her hand over her eyes. “And I’m too shallow to be the person you need, right? Too superficial? I know the truth. I know that you should be capable of limited mobility, that you are not trapped in that chair, that you have sensations in your right leg and have even managed to stand for a brief period of time here and there. Didn’t you think I’d do some research on your injuries? I may have kept my distance, but I have a knack for getting people to talk to me, remember? Yes, you’re in a wheelchair, but your situation isn’t hopeless. You’re the one who gave up, but for the life of me I don’t know why. It’s not like you. You’re a goddamn colonel in the Marine Corps. You don’t surrender, so what’s going on with you?”

Her words stung. He had heard them for months now and he didn’t know the answer. He couldn’t explain anything to anyone, not even himself.

SantaMonica
Amber Lea Easton

Author Bio:

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges but ultimately persevere. She currently has six contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels out in the world: Kiss Me Slowly, Riptide, Reckless Endangerment, Anonymity, In Between, and Dancing Barefoot. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to suicide prevention, awareness, and helping others navigate the dark journey of grief.

In addition, Easton works as an editor, freelance journalist, and professional speaker. She speaks on subjects ranging from writing to widowhood. Some of her videos on romance writing have appeared on the international Writers & Authors television network. Current radio appearances are linked via her author website, http://www.amberleaeaston.com.

Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life’s twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she’s writing, she considers herself simply to be “a lucky lady liv’n the dream.”

Purchase Links:

Amazon: http://getBook.at/REALEaston
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/Z4F3qj
All Romance Ebooks: http://goo.gl/d7RRSt
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/14lTKrb

Contact information:

Amazon Author Page viewAuthor.at/AmberLeaEaston
Author website: http://www.amberleaeaston.com
Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/AuthorAmberLeaEaston
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/MtnMoxieGirlAuthor Bio

Review: Hideaway Cover: A Windfall Island Novel by Anna Sullivan

windfallWhen I was asked by Hachette Book Group to review Anna Sullivan’s Hideaway Cove: A Windfall Island Novel, I wanted to do it for a couple of reasons. First, the whole Hachette v. Amazon thing I find to be incredibly irritating as Amazon puffs itself up and tries to take over control of ideas, attempting to place a stranglehold on e-book distribution. That really ticks me off, and Hachette gets my support for the stand they are taking against the huge gorilla in the room that Amazon has turned into.

The second, of course, is the fact that the concept of the book was interesting, as a young single mother, Jessica Randal, attempts to save her son Benjamin, Benji for short, from the attacks that have occurred against the citizens of Windfall Island which leave her son in grave danger. Of course, as this is mostly a romance, there is the tall, handsome stranger, Holden “Hold” Abbot, who is in town working on a genealogy project that could answer all the questions, as well as putting Benji and his mother in grave danger.

I liked that there was a sharp edge of suspense in the book, which brings it up above the common and garden ‘met the guy, bang the guy, marry the guy’ trope. Both Hold and Jessi have their trust issues, falling over each other in their attempt to protect themselves from any more emotional damage. And of course, Jessi is determined to protect her son – sometimes to a fault. As the book moves further along, the action and aforementioned suspense ratchet up to a razor’s edge, keeping me reading to the end.

The opposite side of the coin is that this is, as I figured out by the end of the first chapter, the second in a new series for Anna Sullivan, which caused me to be lost for, literally, the whole first half of the book. The slanting references to happenings in the past are utilized with no clarification, which was massively confusing and irritating as well. There are a lot of series out there that you can pick up at any point and get a concise update on what is going on, from the view of the previous book(s), in such a manner as to bring you into the ‘loop’ of the story without rehashing the whole series. This book doesn’t give you any guidelines. Instead, we are apparently supposed to have read the first book in order to understand what is going on in this one. That fact, to be honest, would have kept me from finishing the book once I had gotten into the third chapter and still couldn’t figure out what was going on. However, as this was a requested read, I stuck it out, though I admit to skimming through a major portion of the book. It simply couldn’t hold my attention because I was so lost. Who was Eugenie, why was someone trying to kill any great grandchildren she may or may not have still living, or was it grandchildren of this Eugenie or just what the heck was going on anyway? The prolog gave you a happening in 1931 or so that I suppose was supposed to give you all the clues you needed, but the fact that there was no modern day clarification meant the questions were annoying and kept me from enjoying the book as much as I could have.

Overall, if you are willing to purchase the previous book, Temptation Bay, you will be much better equipped to pick up this volume of the series and actually enjoy it from the beginning. The blurb for the book is rather disingenuous as well, as the book is much more about Jessica and her relationship with her son and the lengths she will go to in order to protect him rather than simply about the ‘love interest’ Holden getting what he wants. The HEA is there, of course, and I suppose the blurb will pull in “strictly romance” readers, but if you are fond of a suspense with a strong thread of romance versus the opposite, this may be a series you will want to give a read. From the first book, of course.

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I received this book from the Forever (Grand Central Publishing) arm of Hachette Books. All opinions are my own and are not based on my receipt of the book from the publishers.

Edit Finished! Skin Walkers: Conn By Susan Bliler

conn
Follow Susan Bliler’s blog for the publication date of the new edit for Skin Walkers: Conn and all the rest of her wonderful series!

I just shipped off the edited copy of Skin Walkers: Conn to Susan for checking and approval. Yea!

You can see my review of the original at here on my site, of course.  It is just as good as it was before, just grammatical and continuity changes made. See Susan’s site at www.susanbliler.com for more about her Skin Walkers series. If you like action, adventure, fantasy and romance, this is a series you should NOT pass up!

For those of you who have the books already, check Amazon.com for a list of Susan’s works, including all newly edited books. You should have access to the new edits there!

Enjoy!

 

susan
Go here to Susan’s Goodreads Page!

About Susan

My pack territory is in North Central Montana. Born and raised in an untamed location that bridges the gap between rolling prairie and majestic mountain peaks, I am born to a family that also bridges the gap between cultures. My father’s people boast a fiercely proud Scottish ancestry while my mother’s tribes descend from two savagely beautiful and unique nations that inspire my Skin Walkers series.

I’m a huge fan of MMA, boxing, hockey, 30 Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park, DMX, the Killers, and 21 Pilots (“sometimes quiet is violent…”). I also love to read because it encourages me to write. ( I always hate it when authors add that they love coffee and chocolate. Really? Who doesn’t love coffee and chocolate?) Anyway, I love beer…kidding. I don’t love beer, but we are engaged in a very serious relationship. (Mom, please don’t call me when you read this.)

Check me out at www.susanbliler.com

A’hau.

 

Review – York: Skin Walkers #6 By Susan Bliler

An Irishman is never at his best except when fighting.” – Irish Proverb

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. – Aristotle

york
Can I hear an: Oh, Yummy!!!

OK, here is my little secret. Shhh….. don’t tell anyone, but I rarely ever, indeed if I ever do at all, fall head-over-heels for the hero in anyone’s book. Nope. Not me. Oh, I may drool a little, but hey, who doesn’t?

Just what I always wanted. My own little bunny rabbit. I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him… …and pat him and pet him and… and rub him and caress him and…– Hugo the Abominable Snowman in the 1961 cartoon The Abominable Snow Rabbit

York is my definition of the perfect male. Tall, muscled, with gorgeous eyes and red hair all the way down to his ass and his beautiful bod covered with tattoos . . . yummers! An Irish God, in the flesh. Sigh…(OK, laugh. Go ahead. I can take it . . .)

Anyway, back to the storyline, right? This is the sixth volume in the Skin Walkers series by Susan Bliler, and it is just as good as the others. Things have been building up for the Skin Walkers of StoneCrow Estates, a private sanctuary where Skin Walkers can live safely in a dangerous world. And dangerous their world is. For no one knows of Skin Walkers in this world, and no one should – for anyone different, as we all well know, is subject to horrors. Especially the Walkers, for there are creatures more terrible than one can imagine – and they hunt the Walkers, for their heads, for their “halos” – the equivalent of an antler which grows naturally around their necks. And for their powers, which they steal by drinking a Walker’s blood. Vicious cowards, the Megalya, soulless and insane, prey on the women and children of the Walkers, those too weak or too small to defend themselves.

In this difficult world, all York has ever wanted is his Angel –his life mate and soul partner. Hurting and alone after the incidents in Gauge: Skin Walkers #5, York takes an assignment from Mason StoneCrow to travel to the Philippines in order to attempt a rescue of Gauge’s mate’s sister. While Leto’s Shy was held with Leto in a Megalya research facility, Sky, her twin, has been searching the Philippines where she has been told she might find Shy.

As York arrives in Quezon, the capital city, he searches far and wide, until he comes upon Sky in an out-of-the way bar. Watching Sky take down a strange, blond man with fists and feet, York is immediately stricken with “The Affliction” the Skin Walker ailment which is brought on by finding his one true mate. As he writhes on the ground in agony, Sky is off like a shot, escaping the myriad police officers who come pouring through the back door.

York can find her, now he has her scent, but others can too – and not just the Megalya. And none of Sky’s pursuers, other than York, have her best interests at heart. York finds his Angel, but when his Angel finds out what York is, and what creatures are following her (and why) this becomes an edge-of-the-seat thriller just as much as it can be labeled a Paranormal Romance.

Susan has really found her stride with the last few Skin Walker books, and as she comes into York and Sky’s story, suspense and thriller aspects of the Skin Walkers tales are become even more intense.

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I am the editor for Susan Bilber’s Skin Walkers books, just want to get that out there. This does not mean, however, that I gush over her books because of that. Nope. These books are good, and if PNR is your thing, I highly recommend Susan’s works!

Review: Conn: Skin Walkers #2 by Susan Bliler

conn
OK, Conn is cool. But Aries is a Kick Ass Heroine!!

Honestly, I read this book quite some time ago. The first book in the series is King: Skin Walkers #1, but I found the second in the series Conn: Skin Walkers #2 and picked it up on a whim. I was so glad I did, as I was really tickled with that book, not because of Conn, the Skin Walker in question, but because of Aries Bracken, the heroine of the piece.

Poor Aries, on the run and in hiding for years – and she doesn’t even know why. All she knows is that she is being hunted, tracked down like an animal. She has suffered, using only her own skills, intelligence and willingness to do whatever it takes to stay hidden from whoever is tracking her, doing all she can to stay alive. Why is this happening?

Pushed to the limit, Aries finds what she thinks is a safe hiding spot, deep in the jungles of South America. She may be living a meager life, but it is one that she can call her own. All that changes when she is captured by Conn and his men and delivered to StoneCrow Estates in the US in return for payment of his fee for bagging the elusive Aries. But things are not as they seem – for Aries is not the person this particular hunter should have caught. And things are much more complicated than they seem.

Aries is a kickin’. Heroine. My favorite scene is when her kidnappers load her onto a helicopter and take off across the jungle . . . only to have her grab a parachute when their backs are turned and bail out! They finally make it to StoneCrow, the bastion of the aforementioned Skin Walkers. Ha! Bad on you, Conn! Wrong girl. Oops.

I was going to write a review of the book back then, but before I did so I sent a note to Susan letting her know that I found a considerable number of editorial problems with the book. After correspondence back and forth we came to an agreement – I get to edit all her Skin Walker books! Whoot!

All of the Skin Walker series are exceptional Paranormal Romance books in my estimation. Hot guys, strong women, interesting world building and character development. We are working on editing all of the books, the most recent of which is York: Skin Walkers #6. Check out the whole series. You can read them out of order and keep up with the story, but it is MUCH more fun to read them in order! There is a buildup of suspense throughout the series, with unseen bad guys working behind the scenes, and some bad guys that are just as in-you-face as they can possibly be.

Highly recommended, even if I wasn’t Susan’s editor! Enjoy!

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