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Review: The Santa Society By Kristine McCord

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I did it. I read my first Santa book before Thanksgiving. Well, seeing as how I have been known to watch The Santa Claus in the summer if I am feeling particularly down, I suppose it isn’t that surprising. And I have to say, as a huge fan of the whole Santa thing, this was a great start to my Christmas Santa Book Season!

 

 “It is my duty to carry the Gift to the world, whatever the price.”

Erin Sinclair lives in the lap of depression, even if she does live in a town called ‘Christmasville.’ She left her home at eighteen, as many teenagers do, a victim of teenage angst and the guilt of her father’s death when she was ten. It wasn’t her fault that he was driving to pick her up from school in a snowstorm when he died in a car crash. But children never understand that they aren’t to blame when horrific things happen, do they?

Now, her mother is gone as well, and Erin missed the last decade she could have spent with her, living in New York and working as a court stenographer while her mother stayed in Christmasville.

I turned 30 years old the day I killed my mother.

Alone, depressed, drenched in guilt for allowing her mother to die from breast cancer at home as she wished instead of forcing her into treatment, and feeling as if her life has faded away in front of her eyes, Erin is irritated when the cowboy propped up in front of the coffee shop early one morning walks away from her, apparently leaving his overgrown ‘maybe mastiff(?)’ tied to a tree in front of the shop. Klaus is huge, looks like a cross between a mastiff and a chocolate lab and watches her sadly from the coffee shop window. Well, she can’t just leave him out in the cold, right? Claiming the dog isn’t his, at least the cowboy leaves her his business card with the number for his real estate office. She is more than ready to get on with her life, whatever it will be, just as soon as she sells her mother’s house and all the memories it contains.

Cue high, tittering elven laughter… (screech! Sound of tires coming to a sudden halt…)

Make that cowboy laughter! Well, what do you expect when Santa lives in the mountains of Idaho?! (Insert big grin here)

The Santa Society is a wonderful Christmas story, full to the brim with hope, faith and love. But it is different than the ‘so sweet it makes your teeth rot on contact’ stories you may have read before. Similar to It’s A Wonderful Life there is human evil here – pride, vanity, hatred, and a Society developed to protect the meaning of Christmas – which may just be the downfall of everything Christmas stands for.

Erin’s mother’s last wish was that she not lose her faith in Christmas, in love, or in the reason for the season. And Reason McCloud may just help her find those things again.

He’s the Reason for the Season.

Reason, or Santa Claus to those in the know, stands for everything that is good, right and truthful in humanity. But will the corruption of those around him destroy Santa, Erin, and the true meaning of Christmas?

This book is a total and complete joy to read, filled with hope and joy, but also suspense and terror, making it more than just another Santa story – in a Very Good Way!

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Giveaway! Kelsey Brown: Personal Assets (Texas Nights #1)

Problems In Paradise Cover - FinalGIVEAWAY!

About the Book

Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights #3)
by Kelsey Browning
Author of Texas Nights Series
Co-author of The Granny Series
Release: July 14, 2014
Genre: contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Format: ebook

Book Links:

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Book Summary:

Eden Durant hasn’t always been Eden Durant. She’s made a fresh start in Shelbyville, Texas, far from her mother’s notoriety. Running the Paradise Garden Café is as much excitement as Eden wants—or it was, until she meets Beck Childress. Although he’s the one man who could expose her past, she’s willing to open up enough to see if he might be her future.

Chief Deputy Childress is determined to get to know the real Eden, when he isn’t busy cleaning up after the sheriff and running in the election to replace him. When several men fall sick after eating in Eden’s café, he investigates even as her mysterious past raises both his suspicions and his protective instincts.

As their relationship heats up, so do the pressures of Beck’s campaign. When Eden’s secrets are revealed, jeopardizing his dream of becoming sheriff, he’ll need to choose: serve and protect the town he loves or the woman who makes it home.

Giveaway!
Kelsey is giving an ecopy of Personal Assets, book one in the series, to one commenter on this blog!  personalassets
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Praise for Texas Nights Series:

Problems in Paradise:

“Starring a sexy lawman and a woman with a scandalous secret, a deliciously fun read.” – Shannon Stacey, New York Times bestselling author

Personal Assets:

“A hot man, a headstrong woman, and sizzling chemistry set against a homey Texas backdrop—Browning’s contemporary debut has all the assets that count!”  -Ruthie Knox, USA Today bestselling author of Flirting with Disaster

 “Sinfully hot, sassy, and laugh-out-loud hilarious—everything a southern romance should be!” -Macy Beckett, author of the Sultry Springs series

 Review: Problems in Paradise: A Texas Nights Novel by Kelsey Browning

paradiseChristlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.-L. Lionel Kendrick

Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally. -Alan Dershowitz

I have a big problem when the sanctimonious, holier than thou congressmen and women go on national television for six hours and beat somebody up with a stick, and not because I’m ‘Ms. Manners.’ That’s not what bothers me. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. – Bernard Goldberg

First thing to know? Buy this book. Really. If you are into intensity, romance, suspense and intrigue, and enjoy a good mystery, all rolled into one, this is one to buy right away. And don’t just buy it and put it in your “TBR” pile. Read the darn thing, OK? Then write a review. I would love to hear what you think.

Now that that is out of the way, you get to listen to me rant like a crazy person. Yep. That’s me, you all know I can rant with the best of them. And here goes!

First, Kelsey Browning is one kick-ass Texas gal. Of course, I see that she is now living in Georgia. Smart girl. Second, she has Texans down pat with a capital Sanctimonious A’hole. Common wisdom is that fiction books should draw you in, allow you to identify with the characters and create a world-view you can identify with and remember long after you put the book down. In Problems in Paradise, Browning does that in spades. As I was reading the book, I suffered fury with the power of a thousand white-hot supernovas, and the rage of a bipolar bunny on speed . . . Let me at that (b)witch! I will gnaw through her ankles, nom nom nom!!!* Because, believe me, Browning has Texas women down to a science – and the science has more to do with quoting “Love your neighbor” while pouring arsenic in your sweet tea than being there for you. In this case, quite literally.

And yes, before you wonder, I did 10-years in Texas (does it sound like I was doing a prison sentence? Hum… yep, pretty much!) Honestly, the only characters I really cared for were Eden Durant, the main character, and her girlfriends, Allie, Roxanne and Ashton. All with their own difficult times in Shelbyville, Texas, these four ladies have backbone and spirit, and more guts than a Texas feedlot. However, the rest of the town? Uh, not so much. What we see is a town full of, from my experience, your “Typical Texan” – sanctimonious and vicious, hypocritical, gossip mongering and mealy mouthed ‘witches-with-a-capital-B” women and wanna-be-tough, vicious, sanctimonious, hypocritical grab-handy males who think with their little heads instead of the ones on their shoulders. Well, of course, there are probably more brain cells in their little heads than their big ones . . . hum. Will have to consider that possibility.

Anyway! Browning has done a brilliant character study into small-town Texas mentality. Though, I suppose any small town in any state would probably be up to the same kind of cruelties this town is up to, given the opportunity. However, in Texas they always do the sanctimony up right. People here didn’t lie, didn’t try to get ahead at the expense of others. Yeah, what bullshit. Yep, pretty much wraps it up for you with a pretty little bow.

Eden is fairly new to this small, Texas town, and for the last two years she has operated her own little natural, organic foods café, Paradise – her own little paradise after a miserable, awful, very-much-no-good previous life. Serving locally sourced, organic foods, with a rotating menu and the freshest selections possible, Eden is running in the black, running around in her overalls and mukluks with her hair in braids, keeping her head down and keeping to herself, trying desperately to recover from the horror story of her previous life. All is going well, until one night someone breaks into her beloved café. That instance starts a chain reaction – a chain reaction designed to destroy her life. Odd poisonings, break-ins, and a climate of bible-banging hypocrites doing everything they can do to make themselves feel better by extinguishing any joy she might gain from life drives Eden to close her beloved café. Then things only get worse as her past crashes down on her and we learn the full extent of the betrayals and the heartaches that she has suffered in the past – and that now are returning to not only hurt her, but to destroy her very sanity. As the old Chinese proverb says: May you live in interesting times. And poor Eden is in for more interesting times than she ever could have imagined.

It is hard for me to decide how many stars to give this book. Oh, part of me wants to give it five stars simply because it had me screaming and storming around the house, yelling at the walls and crying in my 16-year-old-Glenlivet. Memories are a beyotch, aren’t they? I didn’t just identify with Eden for what she is going through now, but also what she went through in the past. Families can be total nightmares – but Eden’s more than most. But then, to be fair, I have to pull down a single star, though I really don’t want to. You see – as much as I enjoyed despising the characters in this book with a white-hot passion, I also felt in a way that the characters were just a bit over the top – caricatures drawn with a bit too wide of a brush. Of course, not to say they weren’t realistic to my experience . . . why is it that old, married men find it acceptable to crawl all over young, beautiful women – but when their wives find out about it, it is the woman’s fault??? I know, I know, men think with their little heads, not their big ones. But shouldn’t they take the blame for being the douche bags they are? Urg! Drives. Me. Nuts. Actually, it makes me ashamed of my sex. But be that as it may, it is, indeed, realistic and there isn’t anything I can do about it but gripe and moan and pour more Glenlivet.

This is, of course, this is a book which is heavy on the romance, so there is a hero. Beck is the Chief Deputy of their little burg and the surrounding county. A brilliant burn-out from a 100-hour-week New York financial position, and with his own pain in his past, Beck has returned to his home town and his position as CD, and is actually a fairly interesting hero. Kind and compassionate, he wishes to do all he can to help and protect the citizens of his county. But even more, he wishes to know, and love, Eden. Sort of hard when Eden is a riddle wrapped in an innuendo, with a ‘Plexiglas cocoon around her.’ As things become more and more dangerous for the townspeople, and for Eden, he is working hard to find the culprit who is threatening Eden and poisoning the town. Not a bad hero, all-in-all, but at the same time, I have a very strong feeling that, though he may ‘love’ Eden, he doesn’t respect her or what she stands for, what is important in her life. Here is where my four stars now begins to teeter on the edge of three-and-a-half stars. Though he supports Eden in many ways, late in the book I begin to feel less positively about their relationship as Eden begins to slip into the dreaded ‘heroine gives up her identity for the love of a man’ trope. Not badly, not to the point where I wanted to throw my Nook across the room for a wholly different reason, but bothersome. But then, Voltaire, the Blue Tick Coonhound does go a long way to bucking up his image, so I guess that will keeping my rating from dropping further. Gotta love a good dog!

So. I’ve had my rant. Go ahead. Get the book. Do it. Then tell us what YOU think about it. Would love to hear!

* Thanks to Celia Kyle for the reference from Ball of Furry, Ridgeville Series #2

This book was provided to me by Carina Press and Harlequin Enterprises Limited in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Publication Date: July 14, 2014.

About the Author:

kelseKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy.

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from iBooks
Buy from Books-A-Million
Buy from Kobo
Buy from GoodReads

Review: Problems in Paradise: A Texas Nights Novel by Kelsey Browning

paradiseChristlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.-L. Lionel Kendrick

Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally. -Alan Dershowitz

I have a big problem when the sanctimonious, holier than thou congressmen and women go on national television for six hours and beat somebody up with a stick, and not because I’m ‘Ms. Manners.’ That’s not what bothers me. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. – Bernard Goldberg

First thing to know? Buy this book. Really. If you are into intensity, romance, suspense and intrigue, and enjoy a good mystery, all rolled into one, this is one to buy right away. And don’t just buy it and put it in your “TBR” pile. Read the darn thing, OK? Then write a review. I would love to hear what you think.

Now that that is out of the way, you get to listen to me rant like a crazy person. Yep. That’s me, you all know I can rant with the best of them. And here goes!

First, Kelsey Browning is one kick-ass Texas gal. Of course, I see that she is now living in Georgia. Smart girl. Second, she has Texans down pat with a capital Sanctimonious A’hole. Common wisdom is that fiction books should draw you in, allow you to identify with the characters and create a world-view you can identify with and remember long after you put the book down. In Problems in Paradise, Browning does that in spades. As I was reading the book, I suffered fury with the power of a thousand white-hot supernovas, and the rage of a bipolar bunny on speed . . . Let me at that (b)witch! I will gnaw through her ankles, nom nom nom!!!* Because, believe me, Browning has Texas women down to a science – and the science has more to do with quoting “Love your neighbor” while pouring arsenic in your sweet tea than being there for you. In this case, quite literally.

And yes, before you wonder, I did 10-years in Texas (does it sound like I was doing a prison sentence? Hum… yep, pretty much!) Honestly, the only characters I really cared for were Eden Durant, the main character, and her girlfriends, Allie, Roxanne and Ashton. All with their own difficult times in Shelbyville, Texas, these four ladies have backbone and spirit, and more guts than a Texas feedlot. However, the rest of the town? Uh, not so much. What we see is a town full of, from my experience, your “Typical Texan” – sanctimonious and vicious, hypocritical, gossip mongering and mealy mouthed ‘witches-with-a-capital-B” women and wanna-be-tough, vicious, sanctimonious, hypocritical grab-handy males who think with their little heads instead of the ones on their shoulders. Well, of course, there are probably more brain cells in their little heads than their big ones . . . hum. Will have to consider that possibility.

Anyway! Browning has done a brilliant character study into small-town Texas mentality. Though, I suppose any small town in any state would probably be up to the same kind of cruelties this town is up to, given the opportunity. However, in Texas they always do the sanctimony up right. People here didn’t lie, didn’t try to get ahead at the expense of others. Yeah, what bullshit. Yep, pretty much wraps it up for you with a pretty little bow.

Eden is fairly new to this small, Texas town, and for the last two years she has operated her own little natural, organic foods café, Paradise – her own little paradise after a miserable, awful, very-much-no-good previous life. Serving locally sourced, organic foods, with a rotating menu and the freshest selections possible, Eden is running in the black, running around in her overalls and mukluks with her hair in braids, keeping her head down and keeping to herself, trying desperately to recover from the horror story of her previous life. All is going well, until one night someone breaks into her beloved café. That instance starts a chain reaction – a chain reaction designed to destroy her life. Odd poisonings, break-ins, and a climate of bible-banging hypocrites doing everything they can do to make themselves feel better by extinguishing any joy she might gain from life drives Eden to close her beloved café. Then things only get worse as her past crashes down on her and we learn the full extent of the betrayals and the heartaches that she has suffered in the past – and that now are returning to not only hurt her, but to destroy her very sanity. As the old Chinese proverb says: May you live in interesting times. And poor Eden is in for more interesting times than she ever could have imagined.

It is hard for me to decide how many stars to give this book. Oh, part of me wants to give it five stars simply because it had me screaming and storming around the house, yelling at the walls and crying in my 16-year-old-Glenlivet. Memories are a beyotch, aren’t they? I didn’t just identify with Eden for what she is going through now, but also what she went through in the past. Families can be total nightmares – but Eden’s more than most. But then, to be fair, I have to pull down a single star, though I really don’t want to. You see – as much as I enjoyed despising the characters in this book with a white-hot passion, I also felt in a way that the characters were just a bit over the top – caricatures drawn with a bit too wide of a brush. Of course, not to say they weren’t realistic to my experience . . . why is it that old, married men find it acceptable to crawl all over young, beautiful women – but when their wives find out about it, it is the woman’s fault??? I know, I know, men think with their little heads, not their big ones. But shouldn’t they take the blame for being the douche bags they are? Urg! Drives. Me. Nuts. Actually, it makes me ashamed of my sex. But be that as it may, it is, indeed, realistic and there isn’t anything I can do about it but gripe and moan and pour more Glenlivet.

This is, of course, this is a book which is heavy on the romance, so there is a hero. Beck is the Chief Deputy of their little burg and the surrounding county. A brilliant burn-out from a 100-hour-week New York financial position, and with his own pain in his past, Beck has returned to his home town and his position as CD, and is actually a fairly interesting hero. Kind and compassionate, he wishes to do all he can to help and protect the citizens of his county. But even more, he wishes to know, and love, Eden. Sort of hard when Eden is a riddle wrapped in an innuendo, with a ‘Plexiglas cocoon around her.’ As things become more and more dangerous for the townspeople, and for Eden, he is working hard to find the culprit who is threatening Eden and poisoning the town. Not a bad hero, all-in-all, but at the same time, I have a very strong feeling that, though he may ‘love’ Eden, he doesn’t respect her or what she stands for, what is important in her life. Here is where my four stars now begins to teeter on the edge of three-and-a-half stars. Though he supports Eden in many ways, late in the book I begin to feel less positively about their relationship as Eden begins to slip into the dreaded ‘heroine gives up her identity for the love of a man’ trope. Not badly, not to the point where I wanted to throw my Nook across the room for a wholly different reason, but bothersome. But then, Voltaire, the Blue Tick Coonhound does go a long way to bucking up his image, so I guess that will keeping my rating from dropping further. Gotta love a good dog!

So. I’ve had my rant. Go ahead. Get the book. Do it. Then tell us what YOU think about it. Would love to hear!

* Thanks to Celia Kyle for the reference from Ball of Furry, Ridgeville Series #2

This book was provided to me by Carina Press and Harlequin Enterprises Limited in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Publication Date: July 14, 2014.

About the Author:

kelseKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy.

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from iBooks
Buy from Books-A-Million
Buy from Kobo
Buy from GoodReads

The Ascension Series S M Reine – Sacrificed in Shadow

sacrificed in shadow
Don’t be dumb like me and start here. 😦
Start with The Descent Series – Link below!

I finally figured out what was bothering be about Sacrificed in Shadow. As the first book of The Ascension Series, I thought I was getting in on the first of the series. See, I should have looked before I leaped – as The Descent Series is the actual first of the series. Now, I have to go back and read that series before I come back to this one.

It makes sense now that I was lost throughout the book, though I suppose, stepping back, it was actually quite readable without starting at the very first. It was just that niggling feeling that I was somehow lost in the translation, like I should have known more about the characters, should have had a better feel for the interactions between Elise and the kopis, and Elise and the priest, Father Night. And, of course, the world building seemed off to me, not clarified enough. But, I was so into actually enjoying the book itself, and the unusual world it showed, I didn’t let it bother me too much. I loved Elise and how different she is as a character, how well developed she is. And the world itself and it’s mythology? I thought I would just learn more about it as time goes along. And, I have no doubt that, as with many series, if I just read Ascension, I would be fine and happy with the whole thing. It is very interesting, without a doubt.

descent series
Start here – and the FIRST THREE BOOKS ARE FREE RIGHT NOW!

However, I am stopping and going to the first book of the Descent Series, Death’s Hand and starting over from there. If I am enjoying the story this much without the back-story, how much will I enjoy it with the back-story intact? This is some seriously good storytelling, and it will be well worth going back and starting over. In fact, I am totally excited by the thought! Besides, right now you can get the first three books of the Descent Series, Death’s Hand, The Darkest Gate, and Dark Union FREE at Amazon as a set: http://tinyurl.com/kkske4a so there is no reason not to start there, right?

As I said, Sacrificed in Shadow was quite good on it’s own. Secrets, betrayal, hatred and love, all embroiled in a dark and sensual story of angels, demons, witches, and wolves. Ultimately, I was quite satisfied with my reading, but will be much more satisfied when I have the first series under by belt, so to say. Being that person who always goes back to read the first books in a series before reading the next to come out, I feel like a kid in a candy store, figuring out the series. Or, should I say a bibliophile at the end of the world, living out her life inside the New York Public Library, no worries, no interruptions, and all the books I could ever hope to read?

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