Review: The Vampire Hunter (In the Company of Vampires, Book 2) by Michelle Hauf

vampire hunterReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: It’s Kasper’s (Kaz) sixteenth birthday and his only present is a wild, fanged beast trying to kill him – in his panic, he stakes him, killing him outright, though it takes another man, Tor to tell him that the beast he just took out was a vampire and even though he bit him, as he killed it – he would not become like him. He got lucky and, though Tor can’t offer him a place to stay as he’s also homeless, he tells him he can become one of the Knights of the Stake who live to protect the humans who walk the streets of gay Paris.

Review: Kaz has changed from what we saw in the prologue. In chapter one and onward he is a grown man who has developed martial arts skills to be able to look after himself, but the ability to be fast still evades him. Meeting Zoe in the cemetery was a chance he never thought possible, but she needed help and he as after three more vampires, longtooth they are known as, and they could have done a lot of damage to a woman like her if they had caught her. The difference is Zoe isn’t like other women he’s met she’s a witch and being with her would go against his code of ethics.

After kissing Zoe once, he wishes he could kiss her again. Strange thing is he feels drawn to her, like they are meant to be together even though he has never met her before. Kaz, like most heroes in romantic fiction is a man on a quest – to find the single-toothed vampire who killed his friends Robert and Ellen Horst. They had been on their honeymoon when the crazed vamp had a burning desire for the diamonds his wife wore that night. Rumour has it there is a new drug going around called Magic Dust and if vampires take it, it makes them crave shiny things. Other than Kaz’s need to find the killer, he wants to find the one who is creating and distributing the drug – but it he does, he might not like who it is.

Good Bits:

  • The fight Kaz has in the cemetery at the beginning.
  • The ever mysterious Vaillant.
  • The naughty things Faeries can do during sex with vampires!

Summary: Michelle tackles the subject of Faerie and other supernatural creatures living in a sort of harmony in this novel. Vampires have the sort of needs we never pondered before and are far from the Gothic, fanged predators we took them for. They have weaknesses and the Faerie tend to exploit them for their own gain. Kaz is a strong character and Zoe is equally as strong but in different ways. I liked that this story was based in Paris and had a lot of fast-paced moments, emotions and humorous moments too.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Vampire Hunter (In the Company of Vampires Book 2)

Just Can’t Get Enough International Tycoons Giveaway!

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Thank you Harlequin for this amazing giveaway! One winner from North America will win:

The Sarantos Baby Bargain:

He’d come for the baby…and his ex-wife.

Naomi Sinclair had once fallen hard for Andreas Sarantos. Marrying the irresistible Greek venture capitalist had seared her soul with pleasure—and despair. For she soon discovered he was incapable of love. Now her ex-husband is back…to claim her orphaned ten-month-old niece.

Andreas let Naomi get away once. But adopting his best friend’s baby girl gives him the leverage he needs to bring his unwilling ex-wife back to his bed. Will having the only woman he’s ever wanted erase the scars of his dark past? Or will he lose Naomi, this time forever?

Sheikh’s Scandal:

When the Sheikh comes to town…

Sheikh Sayed of Zeena Sarha and his harem of beautiful women are staying at the exclusive, opulent Chatsfield Hotel, London, for the last stop on his worldwide tour before his wedding. But when his engagement is unceremoniously broken, Sayed sets his sights on his sexy chambermaid!

Liyah Amari only took the position as chambermaid to find the truth about her birth father. But her search ends in heartache, leaving Liyah vulnerable to this powerful Sheikh’s desires. Now their one night of passion could result in a scandalous consequence for the proud Sheikh!

Welcome to The Chatsfield, London!

Gambling with the Crown:

This Sheikh plays to win!

The crown of Kyr holds no appeal for pleasure-seeking Sheikh Kadir al-Hassan—his memories of the kingdom are as dark as a desert’s night. But neither will he shirk his duty…. Instead, Kadir returns home with a bride so unsuitable, no one will want him to be king!

Long-suffering assistant Emily Bryant is the most important person in Kadir’s high-octane life, and the most invisible—until she’s promoted to royal bride! Sealing their marriage bargain with a scorching kiss leaves Kadir craving more….

Now Kadir must decide what’s really at stake in his royal game—his desert duty, or Emily!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share in the comments what you love best about tycoons for a chance to win!

Contest ends May 30, 2014.

Review: Sizzle by Katherine Garbera

sizzleReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Listed as a scorching hot sexy read, Sizzle has bakery owner Staci Rowland trying to show she is the best chef around, but when Cajun chef Remy Cruzel takes her eye, anything could happen.

Review: Staci bumps into Remy – literally and they don’t get off to a great start either even though they work together on TV show Premier Chef. Staci is the co-owner of Sweet Dreams, a cupcake bakery in San Diego and if she gets to win on Premier Chef, it means she gets a lot of money and the chance to get her own TV show, but Remy hides a secret from the rest of the contestants – will he win, or will the secret get out? You can tell Katherine Garbera has watched plenty of cooking programs in order to research her novel, and it shows in the setting and narrative. She knows about cooking and what it is like to be very good at it, and injects some good humor into a sizzler of a story. Though they are competing against each other, in the show they have to work together and try not to get in each others way.

Good bits:

  • Remy calls her “the cupcake girl,” she reminds him of the mouse Remy from the Disney movie Ratatouille…
  • She also calls him “southern boy,” which he hates.

Bad bits:

  • None I can come up with.

Final Thoughts: Remy and Staci can make a good couple but they have the ability to get on each others nerves if they get too close as they tend to tease and the conversations could get heated as a result – that’s why it’s called Sizzle – it’s not just a romance novel.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Sizzle (Harlequin Blaze)

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Contemporary Romance

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by Shelley Munro, guest blogger

Thanks so much for having me to visit today. My name is Shelley Munro, and I write both contemporary and paranormal romance for Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing.

I come wearing my contemporary author hat today. Like many other readers and authors, some of the earliest romances I read were Harlequin Mills & Boon. They were contemporary stories set in exotic locations, both in the country and in cities. The stories I read actually fueled my desire to travel. I wanted to see the Greek Islands, the Italian cities and French vineyards. I wanted to see London. Yes, I definitely started my love of contemporary romance at an early age.

So why do I like contemporary romances so much?

  1. The stories are set in this world in recognizable settings.
  2. The heroine is often someone who is just like me. It’s easy to step into her shoes and experience the ride.
  3. The problems the hero and heroine face during the story are ones the reader can empathize with because often they have experience with the same problems or know of someone who has. This can make the story more meaningful.
  4. The reader can armchair travel to exotic locations.
  5. The stories are often more light-hearted and less dark than in other genres.
  6. The stories are often set in small, close-knit communities.
  7. The stories have happy endings.

Luckily for me, after a bit of a drought in the contemporary genre, there are some great ones around this year. Some of my favorites include Lorelei James with her hot cowboy series, Robyn Carr with her Virgin River series and Victoria Dahl. All three authors have set their stories in small country towns. Everyone knows their neighbors and often their neighbors’ business, which can add to the story conflict. Some of the stories have a slight suspense element to them, but mostly the stories are character driven.

Authors Natalie Anderson and Sarah Mayberry are both Down Under authors. Natalie writes for Presents and Sarah writes for Blaze and Superromance. Both write wonderful contemporaries, often with quirky characters and a little humor. I snap up their books as soon as they come out.

Erin McCarthy is personally responsible for me losing sleep because I couldn’t stop reading her Flat-Out Sexy, a contemporary set in the race car world. Maya Banks and Beth Kery write hot, hot, hot stories that leave the reader needing a cold shower or better yet, their favorite man.

My recent contemporary release Soldier of Fortune is set in both Iraq and New Zealand. My hero Louie Lithgow and heroine Joanna “Mac” McGregor are both soldiers who face danger every day while working for a private security company. Both have taken the job to earn big money. Louie intends this tour to be his last one while Mac needs to sign up again to support her father. I did lots of research while writing this story and hopefully I’ve managed to blend the danger and romance in a way that readers enjoy.

soldieroffortuneHere’s the blurb:

Joanna “Mac” McGregor loves her father, and she’ll do anything to keep him safe after Alzheimer’s starts to steal his mind. That takes money, and Mac uses her only skills—those of soldiering—when she takes up a security contract in Iraq. She doesn’t have time for men, her last vacation fling in Fiji relegated as one perfect moment to hold close during the grim reality of war.

Soldier Louie Lithgow is tired of fighting, the constant danger, and has decided this is his last contract. He wants to retire, sink his savings into a place on the beach, and find the sexy Joanna, his holiday lover.

Mac’s arrival in Iraq causes consternation. They’ve both been economical with the truth, but the attraction sizzling between them flares hot and bright. They embark on a clandestine affair—professional and confident during their high-danger day, passionate with the release of emotional stress during their torrid nights. One thing is clear—they have different goals and the future is both murky and dangerous. If they survive their contracts.

Buy link: http://www.jasminejade.com/pm-7810-127-soldier-of-fortune.aspx
Website: http://www.shelleymunro.com
Blog: http://www.shelleymunro.com/blog

Do you enjoy reading contemporary romances? Why or why not? Do you have any favorite contemporary romances you’ve read this year that you’d like to recommend?

How Tracy Wolff Picks a Setting for Her Stories

by Tracy Wolff, guest blogger and author of Unguarded and Beginning with Their Baby.

I often get asked how do I pick a setting for my stories and my answer is usually one of two things. Either 1) the story picks the setting for me or 2) I set it in a city I once lived—most notably San Diego, San Francisco or New Orleans—largely because I love those cities, I know them and because wonderful things happened to me when I lived there.

My latest book, however, is the third book in my Austin, TX Superromance trilogy, and I have to admit I’ve had a wonderful time writing about my new home town. Whether I’m writing about the Congress Street bridge over Town Lake and the romantic sunset boat tours that also provide a great view for bat watching (yes, I said bat) or Zilker Park and the totally cool Austin City Limits music festival that happens there, it’s been a lot of fun to look at my city through the eyes of a writer trying to share it with readers.

In a lot of ways, I was really sad to leave San Diego to move to Texas a few years ago. Of all the places I’ve lived, I’ve always loved San Diego the most. For its beaches, its weather, its amazing attractions and small town in a big city feel, it’s always been my feel good place. Lately, however, Austin is definitely creeping up the ranks. I love the people here, love the fact that the city’s slogan is Keep Austin Weird, love the movie and music fests that come to town every year. I showcase them a little bit in Unguarded, as my hero’s graphic novel character, Shadeslayer, has just been optioned by Hollywood to be the next big superhero movie and some of the movie studios bigwigs are coming to town for the movie festival. I also get to write about boating and the lakes that are a big part of life in Austin, as well as the very cool downtown bar and concert scene. And I love the fact that, though we’re a growing city, our local news is still mostly about sports, weather and local attractions, as not much else happens here.

How about you? If you could make a home for yourself and your family anywhere, where would it be? What town or city calls to you?

How to Get a Harlequin Tycoon to Share His Feelings

Are you in love with an impossibly closed-minded and secretive millionaire? Are you incredibly frustrated with his lack of emotional disclosure? Follow the following 10 steps on the yellow-brick road to ‘emerald’ city.

  1. Cultivate Your Alluring Innocence. A Tycoon is a much jaded and cynical man. He’s seen much of the world and of the various types of women in it. He’s boiled his experiences down and has lumped women into different shades of gold diggers. Your innocence will be your first step in breaking through his shielded heart.
  2. Tell the Truth; Keep Nothing Hidden. Painful pasts and old hurts are the exception because he doesn’t need to know them at this point. Everything else though is considered fair and open game and you should disclose it all so that he sees you as honest and heartfelt.
  3. Persist or Perish. For every step you gain, your Tycoon will force you two steps back because you are too close to making him feel something. Take heart in every instance he pushes you away. You’re getting to him.
  4. Share His Bed. A Tycoon is far more comfortable with sex than love. This will be the only way you can share your growing feelings with him without them being thoroughly rebuffed. You should take advantage of this drop in his guard and use it to wiggle your way further into his heart.
  5. Talk with Someone Close to Him for Insight. Preferably someone male to invoke your Tycoon’s jealousy. This is very important.
  6. Explain When Possible. Your Tycoon will surely ostracize you from his very presence when he finds out what you’ve done, without giving you the benefit of the doubt or a chance to explain, but be ready with your perfectly logical and understandable explanation. He might not let you get that far, but you should have it at the ready.
  7. If All Else Fails, Leave Him. If your Tycoon did not allow you to explain but didn’t send you from his presence, be prepared for things to be very awkward and strange. Your relationship will feel like it is disintegrating and it is, but you want total annihilation. When you get to that point you need to leave. Disappear into the night and go back to your old life.
  8. Act Surprised When He Shows at Your Doorstep. When your Tycoon finally caves to as he calls it “his inexplicable need” for you, and is willing to take you back no matter what supposed infraction you have committed, you are very close to getting him to share his feelings.
  9. Keep Quiet. By not speaking you will force him to talk first and invariably he will tell you everything that’s in his heart from all his pains to all his hopes and his love for you.
  10. Smile and Run into His Arms. Congratulations you have successfully extracted your Tycoon’s feelings from him and now the two of you can have that glorious globetrotting, baby filled, happily ever after. Don’t forget to tell him you love him too. *wink*

Photo Credits: Bolivar Trindade

Review: Chase a Green Shadow by Anne Mather

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First off I don’t get the title. I suppose I’m missing something, but nevertheless it’s very strange and I couldn’t spot a correlation to the story.

This book is another Harlequin Presents oldie. The hero is two years younger than the heroine’s father and more than double the heroine’s age. The author made a strong case for their romance while she built up the hero’s uncertainty and self-disgust until it fractures and breaks apart in a shower of pretty sparkles. It’s very rewarding.

Our heroine is seventeen and made a point early on in the novel about the arrival of a new stepfather. She’s no longer really welcomed. Her mother in a few short pages makes it plain in several ways that Tamsyn is an intruder in her own home. (She ignores Tamsyn or sends her from the room. She talks to Charles and doesn’t talk to Tamsyn the way she used to, etc.)

She’s leaves for Wales when her mother and stepfather take off for their honeymoon. This is the first time the heroine has ever really spent time with her father. She’s surprised to find her stepmother ten months pregnant (joke). She’s taken from the airport in Wales to her father’s home by her stepmother’s cousin, Hywel Benedict. He’s a writer and a preacher (after a fashion, he stands up and gives sermons in place of a real one because the town is so small.) Tamsyn finds him fascinating and frustrating and the rest as we say is history.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Chase a Green Shadow

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Review: The Girl at Goldenhawk by Violet Winspear

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I would never pick this book up in a secondhand bookstore because the title is strange and the cover is weirder. No wonder Harlequin puts the money and effort into consumer research. It’s all about pretty covers and catchy titles!

The romance takes place in Brazil with references to England and Portugal. Goldenhawk is the name of the hero’s best estate.

The heroine is a very plain girl. Her name is Jaine, appropriate for the phrase plain Jane. Quite often in the novel she is mistaken as a boy. I wanted to jump into the novel and tell her to grow her hair longer and wear less concealing clothes because it’s obvious she’s plain only so much as her aunt and cousin made her so.

Jaine is basically an indentured servant to her cousin and aunt. She’s an orphan and poor relation. Jaine is sent off to take the wrath of the hero as her cousin and aunt depart days before the cousin’s wedding to Pedro de Ros Zanto, a very wealthy landowner and a Duque.

Pedro is amused and determined to hire Jaine out from under her aunt. He promises a life outside of the colorless drab world she’s in and enough money to make it lucrative. Jaine accepts and becomes his son’s companion and caretaker. The son, quite frankly, reads as an excuse for her presence because even with his disability the boy never really makes a big splash or seems to have purpose.

The story is very chaste. We never see anything beyond some passionate kisses. It ends in a bittersweet way similar to Sound of Music. They’re together, but they’re leaving a lot behind in their effort to make it to safety.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Girl At Goldenhawk

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