Review: Never Seduce a Scot (The Montgomerys & Armstrongs, Book 1) by Maya Banks

20121209-092710.jpgReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Graeme Montgomery is to marry a woman per his king’s decree. Eveline Armstrong can tell her father Tavis is very upset. She’s speechless. When Graeme comes to wed Eveline, I would have loved to have been present. I can almost imagine the pageantry.

I love how Maya gives us a character that has a disability. Growing up and watching historical pieces, people that were “different” were shunned. But Maya shows that they aren’t pariah but someone who can be accepted. They have feelings just like everyone else.

Eveline shows that having a disability should not stop you from doing anything. If you set your mind to something you can accomplish anything – let your disability be a part of you but not define who you are.

Maya shows her readers that women weren’t usually taught to read and write during that time period. And any teaching to be done was done by a priest. But Maya also reminds us that not all priests were old. It will be interesting to see if we will see this priest in other stories.

Maya’s sex scenes are very descriptive. They are not done in a raunchy way but are very sensual. The characters give us hope that opposites can attract. Lovers can come together and have that HEA. The families may have history but that shouldn’t stop them from having any type of life together. When love is involved, anything is possible.

I’m glad to see that Eveline’s disability wasn’t cured miraculously. I would have been very disappointed with Maya if she had done that. In year’s past in romance novels, it seemed that everyone was always so perfect. It’s nice to see that is finally changing. If you read the “Acknowledgements” at the end, you will understand her inspiration – a very touching tribute.

I went to Maya’s web site, http://www.mayabanks.com/, and noticed that she has a book two that will be coming out. Bowen, Graeme’s brother, will have his tale told in Highlander Most Wanted. The book is expected to come out on February 26, 2013 and I can’t wait. I hope you enjoy this first book as much as I did.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Never Seduce a Scot: The Montgomerys and Armstrongs

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Get into Bed with Elisabeth Naughton (Author Interview)

Elisabeth NaughtonKeira: Write a job advertisement for an Eternal Guardian!

Elisabeth Naughton: WANTED: Warrior to join the Eternal Guardians order, defenders of the Argolean realm and watchers of the human race. Must be smart, hot as hell, have a strong protective instinct and be of hero status (descended from one of the original seven heroes OR a demigod). Big, studly, well-hung alpha males are given top priority. Job is lifelong commitment and requires applicant to be paired with the woman of his nightmares. Bonus: frequent hot sex.

Keira: What do you think romance readers love so much about tortured heroes? What did this add to the character of Gryphon in Enslaved?

EN: You’re right, readers love tortured heroes. I get a lot of fan mail about Demetrius, my most tortured hero to date (although I’m pretty sure Gryphon gives him a run for his money in that category). Personally, I think tortured heroes resonate with readers because they’re the ones who are so damaged, it doesn’t seem like they’ll every find a happily ever after. The harder it is to envision that happening, the more a reader roots for that particular character. Tortured heroes are also characters who don’t believe they deserve a happy ending, and watching them realize they are worthy of second chances and redemption and salvation is always fun to watch.

Keira: How are your Greek Gods different from the ones that people are familiar with?

EN: I love taking the ancient myths and twisting them around. In Greek mythology, Hades is a pretty nasty god and Zeus is the good guy. In my books Hades is still dark and evil, but he’s snarky and conniving in such a way you find yourself rooting for him in ways you didn’t expect. I actually love writing Hades’s scenes because he’s the ultimate underdog to me. He IS evil and he IS twisted, but there’s also something about him that makes you want to see him beat his condescending brother Zeus at his own game.

Keira: Gryphon and Maelea don’t start out on the best of terms… Tell us a little bit about their journey to freedom and love?

EN: Gryphon is originally drawn to Maelea because being in her presence calms him. He doesn’t hear the menacing voice in his head when she’s close. He doesn’t know why she affects him this way, but he quickly realizes when she’s near, he can think straight, and he needs that if he’s going to ever find the goddess who cursed him.

Maelea on the other hand, wants to have nothing to do with Gryphon. She senses the darkness of the Underworld in him and because of her own link to the Underworld, she knows how evil that can be. So when he kidnaps her, her only goal is to get as far from his as possible. Not only because she knows Hades is hunting her, but because being with Gryphon is a risk. The darkness inside her is attracted to the darkness inside him—darkness she’s been trying to deny her whole life. And she’s afraid of what she’ll become if she get near him.

Soon, of course, each realizes the other is not what they initially thought, and the romance really blossoms from there. They’re really both lost and wounded souls—in very different ways—but find healing in each other.

Keira: Your world building is so vivid! Was there anywhere in real life that inspired your writing?

EN: Whenever I travel I’m inspired. Traveling is one of my many passions and I love experiencing new places and seeing them through the eyes of my characters. My brother lives in Montana so a lot of the setting for the Colony in the book comes from that. But by and large a lot of it really comes from my imagination.

Keira: What were some of your favorite books growing up?

EN: I’ve always been a huge fan of fantasy and adventure so I loved the world building in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and I was hooked on the anticipation of what would happen next in the Choose Your Own Adventure books. (Remember those?) As I got older I found myself falling for character driven stories like L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. And that ultimately led to my love of romance. These days I read across all genres – and I’m currently fascinated with George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

Keira: If you could have dinner with any author—dead or alive—who would it be and why?

EN: My critique partner, Joan Swan, of course! We don’t live close enough (I’m in Oregon and she’s in California), so we only see each other a few times a year, but there’s nothing more fun than chatting with Joan about our books and characters and brainstorming new and unique plot threads.

Keira: Please tell us where readers can find you on the web, and what’s coming next for you!

EN: Right now I’m working on Eternal Guardians book 6, which is Titus’s book (tentatively titled Scorched). It will release in early 2013. I’m also working on the sequel to Wait for Me (which is still untitled), and I’m in the process of putting together an all-new romantic suspense series loosely connected to a novella I wrote in the Bodyguards in Bedanthology, titled “Acapulco Heat.” 2013 will be a busy writing year for me but I’m excited about giving my readers new stories and new characters they can get lost in.

Readers can find me on the web at the following locations:

Enslaved Cover

ENSLAVED BY ELISABETH NAUGHTON – IN STORES NOVEMBER 2012

“Do not miss this series.”—New York Times bestselling author Larissa Ione

GRYPHON—Honorable, loyal, dependable…tainted. He was the ultimate warrior before imprisonment in the Underworld changed him in ways he can’t ignore.

She calls to him. Come to me. You can’t resist. But Gryphon will not allow himself to be ruled by the insidious whispers in his head. And there’s only one way to stop them: kill Atalanta, the goddess who enslaved him. But with so much darkness inside, he can’t be sure what’s real anymore. Even the Eternal Guardians, those who protect the human realms and the gods, want to exile him.

Finding Malea is like a miracle. Somehow he doesn’t feel the pull of the dark when she’s near. And he’s determined to keep her as near as possible, whether she wants him close or not. But she’s a temptation that will test every bit of control he has left. One that may ultimately have the power to send him back to the Underworld…or free him from his chains for good.

Praise for Elisabeth Naughton:

“Entertaining and smoldering.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review of Tempted

“Creative worldbuilding and ever-present danger pull the reader into this mesmerizing tale.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ star review of Enraptured

Buy: Enslaved

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A former junior high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton traded in her red pen and test-tube set for a laptop and research books. She now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full-time from Oregon, where she lives with her husband and three children. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards, including the RWA RITA© Award, the NJ RWA Golden Leaf, and the RWA Golden Heart. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ball park, or dreaming up new and adventures. Visit her at www.elisabethnaughton.com and follow her on Twitter, @ElisNaughton.

Buy: Enslaved (Eternal Guardians)

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of Enslaved. 1 winner, US and Canada only, enter by leaving a comment! Last day to enter: November 30, 2012.

Review: A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards

A Hint of FrostReviewed by Susan S.

Summary: Araneae Nation, Book One It is with a heavy heart that Lourdes replaces her mother as maven of the Araneidae clan. A single act of betrayal has thrust her into a position she was neither prepared for, nor expecting. These circumstances call for a strength-of-steel. And a bravery even stronger than the silk she spins. Her clansmen have turned to her for protection, guidance, and leadership. Make no mistake-she “will” rise to the challenge!

But first, Lourdes must join forces with a Mimetidae warrior referred to as “Rhys the Cold.” Rhys is duty-bound to locate and kill the Theridiidae responsible for the death of her parents. Vengeance they were prepared for. Love? Well, love caught them completely unawares.

Review: I especially enjoyed the differences between the main characters. Lourdes is wealthy. Rhys is penniless. She has a loving family environment. He doesn’t. It’s those differences which made me appreciate how the author bridged those gaps. And although I prefer the sexually experienced heroes, Rhys’s masculine näiveté was, I’ll admit-lovely.

A Hint of Frost will entrance you with spirit walkers, entertain you with sibling wordplays, and bring you novel characters with spider-like characteristics. If I was to attribute Hailey Edwards with a modus operandi – it’d be great storytelling! However, I’m still weeks away from erasing the death of the sickly pecora from my memory bank.

Recommendations: Suggested for readers who enjoy the arranged marriage tropes and for booklovers who flock to fantasy romances, Indian folklore, and strong fearless warriors.

Caution: This novel contains several beheadings and some cannibalistic themes. Definitely “not” for the weak of heart! Although if you think about it, these characters exhibit spider-like qualities and there really is such a thing as spider cannibalism.

Favorite Scenes:

Scene # 1: When Rhys bares his soul and tells Lourdes what her love is worth. That scene was sigh-worthy!

Scene # 2: Will settle the debate regarding what’s under a man’s kilt.

Scene # 3: Lourdes is grieving the loss of her parents and Rhys understands this. He joins her in bed and holds her while she cries.

Comedic Touch: Rhys’s brother (Vaughn) is being disrespectful. O.k., honestly? He’s being annoying! He keeps interrupting an elder’s storytelling. So Rhys forks him in the thigh. Heck, even I wanted to fork him! Reviewer takes a sly look at her sharp utensils.

Disclaimer: I received this novel free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: A Hint of Frost: Araneae Nation, Book 1

Samhain Publishing, Ltd., Copyright 2012, Fantasy Romance, eBook, ISBN# 978-1-60928-756-6.

Review: Lord of Rage by Jill Monroe

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This is book two of the “Royal House of Shadows” series.

Main Characters:  Princess Breena of Elden.  She is a woman who can mind speak and dream talk.  Osborn is a warrior of Ursa.

We first meet Breena when in her dreams she meets a warrior.  But every time she starts to dream of her warrior, and things start to get intimate, Breena wakes up.  She also never sees his face.  She’s only ever seen his eyes.  Then a family crisis occurs.

We first meet Osborn as he faces a challenge that will turn him from a child into a man.  This is how the men of Ursa become a warrior.  And this is where Osborn will get his power from.  His first task, as a warrior, is to face the vampires that are out to kill his family and fellow villagers.  But just like Breena, he faces a family tragedy.

Breena, even though not a warrior, has a fight of her own.  She tries to use her magic but it fails her.  Then from somewhere she gets a feeling of strength.  As the story progresses we see what happens with her magic.

Our hero has a past that he isn’t proud of.  But isn’t that one thing that we love about our romance heroes?  Osborn also wages a war with himself about his wanting Breena.

Right from the beginning of the story, Jill starts building the suspense.  That and seeing what’s going to happen next is what keeps the reader turning the pages.  Jill sends Osborn in as a knight in shining armor (or in the case of this story – bear fur).  And Breena is our damsel in distress.  This gives our story a fairy tale feeling.

Jill also gives our main characters an instant connection.  Our hero also gets one of those stupid male moments.  He made Breena leave and then immediately regrets it.  Then, of course, he has to go and get her.  But Jill also makes him an honorable man.  He takes care of his two younger brothers.

As the story weaves through we concentrate on our two lovers.  Then a misunderstanding temporarily separates them.  But as in all good romances, lust wins out in the end.  And we all know how good romances end.

This is a book that you hate to put down.  Jill does a great job of building the anticipation as the story progresses – you can do nothing less than turn the page to see what happens next.  If you enjoyed reading book one of the “Royal House of Shadows” series, you will enjoy this one as well.

You could read it by itself, but some things might not make sense if you don’t read the series in order.  You will also find that the “resident evil” from book one shows up in book two.  I can’t wait to see what book three has in store.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Lord of Rage (Harlequin Nocturne)

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Review: Overbite (Insatiable, Book 2) by Meg Cabot

Genre: Paranormal, Love Triangle

Summary: Meena Harper can predict how anyone will die when she meets them. She always hopes to change their course, but people are notoriously stubborn. Nobody’s appreciated her powers before the Palatine Guard (the secret underground police unit of the Vatican aimed at attacking monsters) and Lucien Antonescu, her vampire ex-boyfriend…

Did I mention he’s the son of Dracula and current reigning prince of darkness? Of course the Vatican’s idea of monsters doesn’t really describe Lucien which is why Meena is desperate to prove her theory that vampires can love even without souls. Of course, if you try telling Alaric Wulf that, he’ll resort to violence.

Meanwhile, a new type of vampires are in town and the Palatine’s newest hope fighting them is Father Henrique aka Padre Caliente. Alaric hates him due to their mutual past history and Meena doesn’t trust him… and when he aims to hurt Lucien, Meena’s loyalties are severely tested. Does she save her ex or side with her employers?

Review: Going into this review I am going to warn you there are spoilers! Beware and don’t go any farther if you want to avoid them. If you’re Team Alaric you’re going to love this book. But…

I’m Team Lucien and I am so upset with how this book ended. OMG! There has got to be a third book. Is there a third book? Can someone ease my mind on this? I can’t stand the thought of Meena ending up with Alaric for good and Lucien turning into dust. His ultimate sacrifice has got to earn him a soul or wings or something. It can’t just end here. It just can’t. I’m too invested.

Other than that it’s a solid read with interesting ideas and some gross zombie like demon vampires to add a little horror to the love triangle. Yum? :P

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Overbite, Overbite (UK)

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Review: Tamed by a Highlander by Paula Quinn

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

I haven’t read a historical romance in quite a while. I’ve been reading a lot of erotic and paranormal romances. I’ve recently gone back to reading the historical romances and I’m glad that I did. Paula has grabbed my attention right from the first page.

In reading Tamed by a Highlander you can picture how all the characters felt, acted, and what they would have been wearing at that period in time. Paula has a way of making you feel as if you’re a part of the story. It’s as if you are watching her characters as their story unfolds. She is like a great fisherman. She keeps you hooked until the very end.

The heroine of this story is Mairi MacGregor. The story starts in the spring of 1685 and we see Mairi wanting to go to battle with the rest of her kin. Our hero is Connor Grant and for some reason Mairi doesn’t like him very much. We also find out why she is so passionate about fighting the battle.

As the story continues, you can just feel the heat between Mairi and Connor. The pages practically sizzle with the chemistry between the two. But as in all good romances, nothing goes smoothly. Lord Oxford, one of the minor characters, keeps coming between the two lovers. As you read, you wonder why he is so fascinated by her. Out of all the women at Court, what is the fascination?

Mairi has a strong personality which is unusual for the time period. She has certain beliefs and she is willing to defend those beliefs. She is like our modern women soldiers and would probably do very well in today’s society. But back then, women didn’t do those things. It was considered unacceptable.

I’m a reader that doesn’t usually like a book that I constantly put down and then pick up again. I lose my train of thought within the story. Usually when I constantly put a book down it’s because it just doesn’t hold my attention. I didn’t have that problem with this book. I couldn’t wait to see what Paula had in the offing for our lovebirds.

If you’re looking for a story that has a lot of sex in it, you won’t find it here. But if you’re looking for a sensual story with some action in it, this is the story for you. Circumstances always seemed to pull our lovers apart. Fans of great romances know that love conquers all. We know that the champion always overcomes any and all obstacles that will come between him and his one true love.

This is a book that I can’t wait for the next installment in the series to come out. I also look forward in to catching up with the series by reading the first two books. This is definitely a book that you want as part of your romance collection.

I give Tamed by a Highlander:

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Tamed by a Highlander, Tamed by a Highlander (UK)

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Review: The Return of Black Douglas by Elaine Coffman

by Aggie S., guest reviewer

Time travel romance is not the same thing as sci-fi romance or sci-fi time travel. In The Return of Black Douglas, there is no bouncing back and forth between different times, but there is a ghost. Twin sisters Isobella and Elizabeth Douglas, go to Scotland to trace their ancestors and learn about their past relatives as a trade off for a honeymoon that never took place, because Isobel’s fiance took off with his dance teacher instead.

This story starts in present time as the girls are starting their day exploring tombs of Douglas ancestors. They find the effigy of The Good Sir James of Douglas and Isobel is so overcome with emotion that she cries. That night Isobel dreams about a medieval dark haired man who wanted to make love to her. The next day the sisters plan on visiting Beloyn Castle and the portrait of the Black Douglas, who died in the fourteenth century. They are in awe of the painting and Isobel touches the bottom of his boot then everything goes black.

The ghost of the Black Douglas has whisked them from the present day, to the sixteenth century to the Isle of Mull, Scotland. They have absolutely no idea where they are and he is not giving them any straight answers. Do ghosts ever give straight answers? ;)

As for the hero, Chieftain Alysandir Mackinnon, he and the rest of the Mackinnon clan are on their way back from delivering their sister to a nunnery, because she does not wish to wed a Maclean when they are ambushed by the Macleans. During the battle the Douglas girls are noticed by the men. Fighting stops and the Macleans look as if they are leaving but then four men on horseback go after the girls. They run but Isobel falls into a crag and the Macleans sweep up Elizabeth and ride off with her. Two of the Mackinnons give chase to save her from them and Alysandir Mackinnon goes after Isobel.

The story continues on with Isobel at Marrach Castle while Elizabeth is with the Macleans at Duart Castle. The ghost of the Black Douglas appears occasionally to answer (but not really answer) Isobel’s questions and he gives no indication as to when or if they will return to their own time, only saying that the answers will be appearing when the time is right. The girls fear being called witches at first and then find some acceptance as to their being there. They are some interesting things that happen throughout the story but you must read it to find out what happens.

I think The Return of Black Douglas is a great book to cuddle up on the couch. The use of current English, Gaelic and old English makes this book an interesting read and gives an idea how they spoke in Medieval times while the translations to current times help understanding.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Return of Black Douglas

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Review: Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 9) by J.R. Ward

by Sharon S., guest reviewer

When it comes to books as popular as this one, there is no need to do a regular review. Everyone and their mother has posted reviews on it, and if you are a fan of this series you are going to read this book no matter what anyone says. If you haven’t read the series yet, you wouldn’t start with this one any way. So, I am going to talk why I love this series and why you should try it!

Why do I love it and why should you try it? One word, Alpha-male (let’s not split hairs on the hyphen thing being one or two words <G>). JR Ward has created a group of vampire warriors that are some of the most tortured, sexy, toe-curling men out there. When these males (of worth, I might add) meet their mates (they mate for life, swoon) they send out a bonding scent to mark their woman (sound caveman-ish? Yeah, but it so works in this case) and part of the mating is they have their mates names *carved into their backs! How macho is that? What I find sexiest about her males is they say what they are thinking. It is what they say, and how they say it that will make you squeee ;)

The first book in the series is called Dark Lover. It is about the vampire king Wrath and how he finds his mate Beth. Each book after that is about a different Brother. Check out these names: Rhage, Zsadist, Vishous, Phury, Tohrment, Rehvenge.  Yes, they live up to their names. Not only does each book have the OMG! love story for each brother, JR Ward has also created a dark and riveting story arc about the Brothers’ fight against an evil enemy. Ward’s ability to write with so much emotion will have you laughing and crying. The series is just brilliant.

I enjoyed Lover Unleashed. It has brought in some new characters that are going to be major players in the new story arc and I hope she is setting up the Blay/Qhuinn story, cause they are breaking my heart! Manny and Payne are what I consider side characters and I didn’t think they deserved their own book, but there was enough about the other Brothers and progression of the story that made it a great read. Most people, like me, want to hear about our main boys, true? As sad as it is, I won’t be satisfied until the Blay/Qhuinn thing plays out, with a HEA!

So, get reading!!! (and have a glass of ice water near by. You’re gonna need it)

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 9)

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