Review: Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion

grand centralReviewed by Karin

Blurb

A war bride awaits the arrival of her GI husband at the platform…

A Holocaust survivor works at the Oyster Bar, where a customer reminds him of his late mother…

A Hollywood hopeful anticipates her first screen test and a chance at stardom in the Kissing Room…

On any particular day, thousands upon thousands of people pass through New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, through the whispering gallery, beneath the ceiling of stars, and past the information booth and its beckoning four-faced clock, to whatever destination is calling them. It is a place where people come to say hello and good-bye. And each person has a story to tell.

Now, ten bestselling authors inspired by this iconic landmark have created their own stories, set on the same day, just after the end of World War II, in a time of hope, uncertainty, change, and renewal….

Very touching and evocative. This book features original stories by best selling authors. Much of it has to do with Jewish refugees — and also Jews who had left Europe for America, at least one had been in concentration camps. It gives a glimpse into what it must have been like to live those early years post war.

My father served in the air force in Europe, so it holds a special poignancy for me.

While there are possibilities — and even love — it is not an easy life or an easy read. It is a world very far removed from where we are now, but not far enough to be in the way distant past. It holds too many memories.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion

Review: Bought for Revenge by Sarah Mallory

bought for revengeReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Captain Lucas Blackstone has, unlike many of his men he served with returned from the battle of Waterloo unscathed. By coming back, he hopes to renovate what was once his family’s mansion, but seeing it in its current state causes him concern.

Debutante Annabelle Havenham’s father has to settle with his debtors and the only way he can is to sell the mansion he has come to see as his home. He thinks Captain Blackstone is the worthy buyer, yet he wants more into the bargain if he is to get his revenge on her father for what he had done in the past.

Review: Lucas comes to Annabelle’s father pretending to be a Mr Monserrat to avoid problems, but even in this deceptive manner, Annabelle’s father thinks he recognises him. Little by little, Lucas plans to take the loathed Mr Havenham down, knowing no one can prevent what will come to pass. Once Lucas meets Annabelle he has feelings for her as she is a strong-minded woman who wants to be seen as an equal in relationships. He wants to take down her father, yet he also has a hard time making her a worthy pawn in his game. Lucas makes the mistake of getting too close to her, close enough to have feelings for her that could cloud his judgement if he wants revenge against her father. He does have a heart, though but he keeps it in check for his own sake if he is to make her father pay for his past sins. In doing so, he puts his future and that of Annabelle’s at risk – she might never trust him after he tells her he wants to ruin him. He was after all a child when the incident happened and as a result, he could be alienating the only woman who would love him back, and the one man who, if Annabelle would accept his offer of marriage, would accept his offer of marriage without question.

Good Bits:

  • Annabelle’s first meeting with Lucas.
  • The interesting business of the Havenham family painting that makes Lucas very nervous indeed.
  • The mysterious cousin Hugh and how he fits into the story.

Summary: What starts out as a heated romance novel soon turns into a murder mystery both Lucas and Annabelle have to solve before it is too late. I found this an enjoyable and gripping novel that twists and turns really well until the satisfying reveal at the end.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Bought for Revenge

Dominated by the Earl?

DominatedByTheEarl-200x300Guest blog by Raven McAllen, author of Dominated By The Earl

Well, who wouldn’t want to be?

Especially, when in Regency times, you could be a boring wife, or well wink turn the tables a bit…

Hi, I’m Raven, and I freely admit, I find it really hard to talk about myself, or how I write. I’d love to be able to say, oh I have a formula for writing, I do x, y, or x, but in reality I don’t.

In all honesty, I can’t even say where my ideas form, they just pop into my head, and the characters shout until I listen. It gets confusing when it’s more than one book’s worth at once, but somehow I seem to sort them out, and work out who takes priority.

However, I do know I must listen to them, and if I don’t ohh dear. That’s several k’s worth of words deleted then.

I guess that means I’m a pantster character-driven writer. Strangely, of late I have been roughing out things I know I have to add into my story at sometime, but generally I have a start and a finish, and no clue how I’m going to get there, and how many words it will take for me to do so.

It doesn’t always go according to plan, but ah well, I write as I can, not as I think I aught and it works for me. Well, I think it does, you might beg to differ.

So, what can I say?

I’m growing old disgracefully and loving it.

Dh and I live on the edge of a Scottish forest, and rattle around in a house much too big for us.

Our kids have grown up and flown the nest, but roll back up when they want to take a deep breath and smell the daisies so to speak.

I write in my study, which overlooks the garden and the lane. I’m often seen procrastinating, by checking out the wild life, looking—only looking—at the ironing basket and assuring tourists that indeed, I’m not the bed and breakfast. That would mean cooking fried eggs without breaking the yolks, and disturbing the dust bunnies as they procreate under the beds. Not to be thought of.

Being able to do what I love, and knowing people get pleasure from my writing is fantastic. Long may it last.

Blurb…

Leonora knew she’d wait for Justin to come home.

She hadn’t expected it to be so long or so fraught.

When Justin joined his regiment, and was sent to the continent, Leonora promised to wait for him to return.

She didn’t think it would take so long, or she’d have so many difficulties to face. Her life changes as she struggles to cope without Justin and keep his estate running.

With someone out to destroy all she holds dear, Leonora has to fight for her beliefs and her family, and hope they get the happy ever after they deserve.

Buy: Dominated By The Earl

A wee tease…

“Have you finished?” Justin gestured at the chicken bone in her hand.

“What? Oh, yes.” The bone had no meat on it. She had finished it without any thought. “Thank you, I’ll be fine now.”

“I won’t.” Justin put the bone back into the bag and rested it on the ground by his feet. With a grin that Nora could only think of as wicked, he pushed her back up against a tree trunk. The bark was rough to her touch as she put her

“I won’t be fine until I’m deep inside you,” he whispered. “Pushing you to the edge. Taking you further than you’ve ever gone before. Listening to you scream…for everything.”

Nora felt the warmth of his breath on her ear. That, combined with his words, sent a gush of arousal through her that she had thought she would never find again. Her juices gathered and their warmth coated her mound and the apex of her thighs. Before she had a chance to rub her legs together—she wasn’t sure if it was to increase or reduce that delicious ache—Justin thrust his knee between them, and pressed against her quim. Sharp daggers of excitement bombarded her and she moaned. He put a hand over her mouth and Nora slipped her tongue between her lips to circle his palm. She tasted warmth and sweat.

“Shh, and do not do that, minx. I want you, oh, how I want you. If we were alone, and had more time, I would take you here. Strip you, and bare our souls, as I plunge into you in every way possible. Drink your juices and your cries, and let you milk me, as I will do you. That thought has kept me going many a long month. To stroke your breasts, feel your nipples come alive by my touch. To suckle as our child did, and then to watch you splinter as I fill your cunt. And there’s more,” he continued in a compelling undertone as Nora tingled at the erotic pictures his words created. “I have a need to introduce you to new delights such as we had no chance to experience before I left. But we can’t do anything here, and I need to explain so much to you. In truth, Nora, I can only but hope you give me leave to do all this and more once we’ve talked.” He rubbed his knee across her quim. The pressure was enough to make her squirm in ecstasy.

“I need…” she moaned. “I want…” What did she want? Coherent thought was impossible as he slipped his hand under the cloak and nipped one of her nipples through the thin material of her day gown.

“So do I, but sadly we will have to hold those thoughts. We need to move on.”

He moved backward an inch or two, and Nora felt his withdrawal as acutely as if he had left her alone again. His smile lit his face. “I know, love. I feel it as well. Soon I hope we can sate ourselves. Now let’s move.” He took her hand and led her toward the horses. As he threw her up into the saddle, her hands moved to the neck of the cloak. Justin stayed her hands. “Keep it on. It will not upset Moonlight, and it will hopefully warm you until I can.”

Buy: Dominated By The Earl

Raven McAllan Author PicBio: Raven lives in Scotland, along with her husband and their two cats—their children having flown the nest—surrounded by beautiful scenery, which inspires a lot of the settings in her books.

She is used to sharing her life with the occasional deer, red squirrel, and lost tourist, to say nothing of the scourge of Scotland—the midge.

A lover of reading, she appreciates the history inside a book, and the chance to peek into the lives of those from years ago. Raven admits that she enjoys the research for her books almost as much as the writing; so much so, that sometimes she realizes she’s strayed way past the information she needs to know, and not a paragraph has been added to her WIP.

http://www.ravenmcallan.com

http:/ /www.ravenmcallan.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/ravenmcallan

https://twitter.com/RavenMcAllan

What’s So Great About Christian Romance . . . Even If You’re Not the Religious Type?

the bride's broken bondGreetings!  Lee Tobin McClain here, urging you to give inspirational romance a try, even if it’s not your usual fare. Why? Here are six reasons.

  1. Without the sex, there’s more room for other aspects of romance. “Hey, Christian romance, that’s like a contradiction in terms!” is a line that at least eight men have used on me, each thinking himself supremely clever. But actually, most women don’t think that romance happens only between the sheets. There can be lots of conversation and roses and, well, feelings in Christian romance, and that’s the part a lot of women crave more of.
  2. Without the sex, there’s room for more story depth. One of the Love Inspired editors told me that, because the line doesn’t have love scenes, they need more backstory and conflict and angst. That can make for some compelling stories . . . about things like abuse and class conflict and serious illness, to name three difficult topics I’ve covered in recent books.
  3. Sometimes, you want heartwarming. Especially around the holidays, most of us get nostalgic for a simpler time, for a sense of community, for small towns and big hearts and neighbors that care. Real life can fall pretty short, but an inspirational romance never does. These stories are sweet and will make you feel good on an otherwise stressful or dark day.
  4. You’ll get a better feeling about Christians. There are extremists in every faith, and the rants of Christian extremists can be off-putting., focused more on what the extremists are against (gay marriage! evolution!) than on what Christianity is supposed to be for (loving God and loving your neighbor). But Christian fiction tends to be warm and loving.  You’re not likely to find families with two mommies or lessons on evolutionary biology in a Christian romance novel, but you won’t find any bashing, either.  I’d argue that Christian authors, as creatives, are some of the most open-minded Christians out there.
  5. Anticipation can be very sexy. Did you ever notice how, when you’re reading a red-hot romance, the intensity can drop off after the first love scene? Despite the requisite fight that follows the consummation, the buildup to the second love scene isn’t usually as exciting as the buildup to the first. In Christian romance, the anticipation continues throughout the novel and the final consummation is left to your imagination—a pretty colorful place, if the cliché about the most important sex organ being between the ears holds true.
  6. Sometimes, you need a little spirituality. Even if you’re not a churchgoer nor the type of person who’d hang a cross-stitched bible verse on the living room wall, most of us hunger for faith in something outside ourselves. When a parent dies or a job falls through or a teenager drives you crazy, it can help to watch characters with similar struggles find a solution in their faith. In Christian fiction, some kind of relationship with God—be it outspoken or bubbling gently under the surface—forms part of the answer to life’s problems. That can be a huge comfort.

Whether you read Christian romance frequently or never, I’d be honored if you’d try  my Sacred Bond series of romance novels. No risk: Book one in the series, His Baby Bond, is free on all platforms!

Lee Tobin McClain read Gone With The Wind in the third grade and has been an incurable romantic ever since. When she not writing emotional, faith-infused love stories with happy endings, she’s probably driving around a carload of snarky teen girls, playing with her rescue dog and cat, or teaching aspiring writers in Seton Hill University’s MFA program. She is probably not cleaning her house.

Connect with Lee: 

Website/Newsletter: http://www.leetobinmcclain.com

Blog:  Flawed. Christian. Woman. http://www.leetobinmcclain.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lee-Tobin-McClain/309202065934619

a christmas bondA Christmas Bond (prequel novella)

Romance between enemies  . . .

War hero John Moretti sees the delinquent boys he mentors as the sons he never had, and he wants to give them every opportunity to reform. Crime victim Annie Bauer views them as dangerous threats to her elderly grandma, who lives next door to the boys’ residential school. When the Baby Jesus is stolen from Grandma’s yard nativity scene, the boys’ potential involvement may send them straight to hard-core juvie, and break the fragile connection that’s building between Annie and John. Until the so-called delinquents join together to make a sacred bond . . .

his baby bondHis Baby Bond (Book 1)

Battle for a Baby . . .

Poor-but-proud Kendra Forrester doesn’t need an arrogant millionaire to tell her how to raise her sister’s baby. But when handsome Zeke King arrives at her Colorado cabin demanding custody of his brother’s child, strategy dictates that she let him stick around. Battling mountain weather and the baby’s illness brings these two opposites together, but their own insecurities, their dead siblings’ secrets, and a jealous former boyfriend threaten their tentative bond. Only the Lord and the Sacred Bond Brotherhood can help Kendra and Zeke form a family for their baby.

The Bride’s Broken Bond (Book 2)

A Runaway Bride . . .

As the wedding music starts playing, poor little rich girl Hope DeMille learns that her husband-to-be loves someone else, but her domineering, high-society father won’t let her back out of the expensive wedding he’s funded. Enter Rock Anderson, a former inner-city kid mentored by Hope’s parents, who’s always wanted Hope. After helping Hope escape, Rock gets her a job at his urban mission and helps her find meaning in her life. But when Hope’s powerful father seeks revenge and one of the inner-city kids goes missing, it’ll take the best efforts of the Sacred Bond brotherhood to help this opposite-sides-of-the-tracks couple overcome their differences and commit to love.

JUST FOR READERS OF LOVE. ROMANCE. PASSION:  I’LL GIVE A FREE E-COPY OF MY SEXIEST INSPIRATIONAL—THE BRIDE’S BROKEN BOND– TO A RANDOM COMMENTER. SO TELL ME WHY YOU LOVE CHRISTIAN ROMANCE—OR WHY YOU DON’T!

Giveaway: Harlequin’s Sexy Christmas Romances!

beaumont christmas wedding Naughty & Nice…: Public relations whiz Matthew Beaumont won’t let scandal ruin his brother’s Christmas wedding. Yet scandal is Whitney Maddox’s middle name. He grudgingly allows the outrageous child star turned horse trainer to stay in the wedding party…as long as she behaves herself. But soon he’s the one misbehaving with this irresistible maid of honor.

Buy: A Beaumont Christmas Wedding (The Beaumont Heirs Series Book 3)

a virgin for his prize Her awakening: San Francisco heiress Romi Grayson has only had a taste of Maxwell Black’s addictive brand of seduction and knows she should stay away…especially having discovered just how determined he is to possess her!

His proposal: Max prides himself on always being in control, yet somehow Romi sneaked under his cast-iron defenses, then walked away. Now he is driven to finish what they started….

The ultimate prize! This Russian tycoon will stop at nothing, even blackmail, to have Romi warm and willing in his bed. And her innocence will make his long-awaited possession all the sweeter….

Buy: A Virgin for His Prize (Ruthless Russians Book 2)

christmas with a seal Subject: Navy SEAL Lieutenant Phillip Banks

Mission: Resist one saucy redhead’s attempts to de-Scrooge him…and seduce him!

Silversmith Frankie Silvera has lost her creative mojo. And she knows how to get it back—by getting her sexy on with a certain hot sailor. Just the thought of Phillip’s hard, Navy-trained body against her, and everything goes molten. He’s the “inspiration” Frankie needs for the holidays!

Navy SEAL Phillip Banks is the prince of protocol. But after his last mission went horribly off-course, all of that control has dissipated. Now he’s at the mercy of one very determined female who is pulling out all the stops on Operation Christmas—including red-hot lingerie and the promise of oh-so-wicked delights… But does giving in mean giving up everything he’s worked for?

Buy: Christmas with a SEAL (Uniformly Hot!)

sexychristmas

Giveaway: One reader in North America will win a copy of each of the above books. Enter by leaving a comment about why you love holiday romances. Contest ends: 11/22/14.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Fired by Her Fling by Christy McKellen

fired by her flingHero: Tristan Bamfield arrives in London to settle a personnel dispute at his father’s radio station. Cleaning up messes for his dad is something Tristan is used to, having taken over the family kitchen cabinet business years ago. He has a fabulous evening with a sexy woman only to find out the next day that she’s one half of the dispute he has to resolve. He’s been played a fool — again!

Heroine: Tallulah (Lula) Lazenby gets tongue-tied around people which may sound odd as her job is as a radio DJ. Sleeping with her boss at the station was a huge mistake. Jez is a major sleazeball; and the promotion he promised her? Nowhere in sight. Imagine her surprise when her one night stand ends up firing her and calls her on the carpet for unethical behavior and manipulation.

Review: Lula’s celebrity personality (the confident side of herself) I felt had better chemistry with Tristan than her “real” timid personality. Tristan has some serious family issues with his brother stealing his fiancée and his dad serially marrying women. My favorite sequences in this story included the night these two hooked up the first time, when they realized who the other one was and the subsequent firing, and Tristan’s later groveling where he wins her back to the studio with gifts (not all appropriate, but all right, cute anyway).

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Fired by Her Fling

Review: A Rake by Any Other Name (Somerfield Park, Book 1) by Mia Marlowe

rake by any other nameHero: Richard Barrett (Lord Hartley) was enjoying his Grand Tour when he is called home to take his rightful place as the head of the household. His father fell from the roof and while alive, is no longer fit to run the estate. Richard soon discovers the financial situation is only going to be fix by wedding an heiress… which sucks because he was ready to offer marriage to Lady Antonia Pruett.

Heroine: Miss Sophie Goodnight and her parents are newly arrived from India where her father made his fortunes. Her dad is looking to sell her and his fortune to ensure his grandkids are aristocrats. Since she’s not too keen on that idea she partners up with Richard to foil their parents attempts at a match.

Review: This book sets up a love triangle between Sophie, Richard, and Antonia. As with most love triangles in romance between two females and a male, Lady Antonia was not an ideal match for Richard (or really any man) due to her duplicitous nature. All we had to do was wait for Richard to figure that out. I liked Sophie as a heroine. She was smart, capable, and put Richard in his place a time or two which left him all agog. Richard was a good hero too. He wanted to do right by his family and the estate, even when his family was using him to ensure their own comforts (a fun twist on the usual scenario where the heroine is sacrificed at the altar of marriage to ensure her family’s well-being.) The romance is sweet and lively and was one of my favorites to read this year. I devoured it quite quickly waiting to see what happened next.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: A Rake by Any Other Name (Somerfield Park)

Author Secrets: What Makes Us Want to Read a Romance?

AwakewnedByTheMinotaur_ByErinMoore-800x1200 Guest blog by Erin Moore, author of Awakened by the Minotaur

Marketing people speak a lot about “conversion” – the point when a shopper turns from a browser into a buyer. For novels in general, and romance particularly, a lot of that conversion happens when we see the cover of a book.

But what, specifically, are we (as readers) looking for in that cover?

A book should fulfill a need or solve a problem for us. Perhaps it is a need for stimulation, or fantasy, or even just an exciting diversion from the hum-drum of our normal lives. If an author can tap into those needs in a story – and better yet, in that story’s cover – then our readers will be drawn in and want to come back to us again and again.

Our covers tap into biological needs, too. Psychologists have discovered that many of the words used to describe men in romance novels are also the most (rightly or wrongly) biologically desirable traits of men. Most often used: wealthy, fit, fertile, and committed.

So when we look at the cover, we are looking for a man who is all of those things. He’s got to look fit, and he’s got to look as if he knows what he’s doing beneath the sheets. Of course, he’ll be changed by his interaction with us (because the reader is always the ultimate heroine, not the girl that is in the story), and turn into that amazing, wonderful husband and dad that we always knew he could be.

Because we all know – love does conquer all.

About the Book:

When man becomes minotaur, dark passion takes hold…

Lara Castille always plays it safe in both love and life. But when she arrives on vacation in Crete, she is determined to enjoy herself. Old habits die hard, though. Drawn to her tour guide, the enigmatic and sexy Teo Lambros, she cannot let down her guard—until she takes part in the ancient and sensual rites at the ruins of Knossos. She dreams of the minotaur who takes her upon the altar, and wonders if it could be Teo who brought her to ecstasy.

A gray haze clouds Teo’s memory of the rites; he knows only that the bull has chosen him for his own. He fears that the land will once again need a sacrifice, as it did when it claimed his fiancée the year before. Though he cannot deny his need for Lara, he knows that protecting her from his desire is the only way to keep her safe.

As the island’s magic demands everything they have, Lara and Teo must discover what’s real and what’s imagined if they’re to survive the passionate sexuality that draws them together…

Buy: Awakened by the Minotaur

Excerpt:

She imagined that the stones beneath her feet hummed with intensity, preparing her for something. The nearness of Teo, the scent of him filling her nose, reminded her of the taste of his kiss, and she felt more alive than she had in months.

“Do you feel it?” His breath was warm and minty on her face and she realized he was standing directly before her,

She nodded and then opened her eyes to put her palm to the side of his face. “I feel it,” she whispered. His green eyes stared into hers.

“Lara,” he said simply and brushed the back of his hand against her mouth. It sent tremors through her body, evoking warmth between her legs. She reached out and twined her fingers in his silky hair and pulled him toward her. Enough. The night with the bull had changed her.

With an intensity that she matched, his mouth found hers and took her measure with his tongue, his lips, finding her again and again ready, open. Exploring, teasing, he tasted her, taking her bottom lip between his own. He suckled, making her lips throb and a small mew escape her throat. The skin at the nape of his neck was covered in soft, silky hair, and she tugged at it, wanting more of him, finding the tendons there tensed and throbbing beneath her fingers.

She shifted her body, pressing against him. As if in understanding, he pulled her roughly to him with one hand, cupping her bottom. He pried apart her legs with his own so she could feel the hard evidence of his arousal against her. He lifted her before sitting with her astride him on the bench behind them.

Atop him, his erection pressed against the fabric of her panties, and the heat between them matched the summer’s warmth. This was what she wanted. Fevered, hot, she explored his mouth with hers, delighting in the intensity and urgency of his kiss. Trailing kisses over his neck, his collarbone, the deep brown of his skin hot beneath her tongue. His skin tasted like his scent—cloves and dark earth. She bit his neck as if she could devour him.

Her skin tingled and her body and mind were open. Primal, hot, sexy, her body was enflamed, like the night of the rites. The rites. Her eyes flew open, and she knew. Oh, God, how had she not known, not recognized it immediately? As understanding flooded her she knew now that she would recognize his body anywhere, even if her eyes were closed and they were in a dark room. Because she had seen him, had tasted him, had taken him into her mouth. He may have been the bull that night, but she still knew him.

Buy: Awakened by the Minotaur

DSC_0306colorAbout the Author:

Erin’s writes sensual paranormal romances that challenge the conventional “shifter” tropes.  She lives in Atlanta with her two little paranormal beings and one unruly husband. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Her free novella, To Love a Shaman, is available on her website. She’s also giving away a critique of a first chapter with a subscription to her newsletter!