Review: The Duelist’s Seduction (Book #1: Seduction Series) by Lauren Smith

Title: The Duelist's Seduction Series: Book #1: Seduction Series Author: Lauren Smith Format: Kindle Edition, 89 pages Published: May 12, 2015 by Lauren Smith  ASIN: B00V72WJHC
Title: The Duelist’s Seduction
Series: Book #1: Seduction Series
Author: Lauren Smith
Format: Kindle Edition, 89 pages
Published: May 12, 2015 by Lauren Smith
ASIN: B00V72WJHC

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

Helen Banks is going to die. When her twin brother gambles away their fortune, she must save his life and take his place in a duel to satisfy the honor of a man her brother couldn’t pay. Disguised as her brother, Helen faces the one man she’s admired from afar, a widower with a dark past and eyes that scorch her very soul.
Since Gareth Fairfax lost his wife, the darkness in his heart continues to grow. Lashing out at anyone who opposes him, Gareth is stunned to face a lovely young woman opposite his dueling pistol. After discovering Helen’s deception, he offers her a choice: become his mistress or her brother dies.

Their devil’s bargain turns into a slow, sweet, intoxicating seduction. With each passing hour, Helen uncovers Gareth’s secret heartbreak and yet she can’t help but fall for the man who has ruined her. With Helen in his arms, Gareth wonders if he might yet be saved. All it takes is one passionate embrace, a kiss from the depths of his soul and a night of wild abandon.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

Go ahead and ask me how much I enjoyed this read 🙂 The Duelist’s Seduction is everything I love in historical fiction . . .a little bit of action, a daring woman, a sexy man, some naughty bits and, all of it set in a time period not my own.

Gareth Fairfax doesn’t need the money he is intent on claiming, he doesn’t lack for companionship should he desire it but he does lack a true companion, a true love to spend his life with. Since the loss of his beloved wife, Gareth has searched for the missing link, the thing that will bring him back to life and bring joy back into his world. In the years since her death, Gareth has become increasingly more reckless in an effort to feel again, to feel that spark of life. Maybe an early morning duel will do the trick.

Since the death of her father, Helen Banks and her twin brother have been just barely scraping by. Helen, by far the more levelheaded of the two, has denied herself basic needs in order to compensate for her twin’s dumbassery. Helen’s brother loves to gamble and is certain the next hand of cards will be the big one, the one to give him enough money to support he and his sister in a manner they both deserve. Unfortunately, that hand has never come and now, he is in trouble up to his ears over the debt he has accumulated. And by up to his ears, I mean an early morning duel.

Standing in the cool of the early morning, Helen has disguised herself brilliantly. To save her brother she would do anything and that includes losing her life in a duel meant to settle his debt. When the duel goes sideways and Helen is unmasked, she is forced into a deal with Gareth Fairfax that will save her brother but ruin her. Life with Gareth awakens something in Helen she never thought to have, passion. Gareth is sexy and brooding but there are also flashes of the man he once was, a man more than just content with his life, a happy man. He fires Helen’s passion and within days, she is completely lost to him and his ministrations. Helen knows her time with Gareth is limited so she determines to make the most of her situation, to take every moment of joy.

Gareth is completely confused by Helen Banks. Oh, make no mistake, he wants her desperately but he doesn’t want to feel anything for her. The loss of his wife nearly killed him and living as a shadow of his former self has become his norm. Helen brings a vitality back into Gareth’s home that he never thought he would see again. He has already compromised Helen’s name and reputation but making an honest woman of her scares the Hell out of him. The decision Gareth must make will either make him or break him.

The Bottom Line: What an excellent read!! At novella-length, The Duelist’s Seduction is the perfect length to introduce the Seduction series. Helen and Gareth are both terribly likeable characters and though their situation is a bit awkward at first, it all works out in the end. Helen is bold and courageous, kind and caring, free-spirited and passionate. Gareth is dark and brooding, sexy and daring and, the perfect balance to Helen. Their short time together is fraught with drama, passion and, intense feelings that will change both their lives for the better. Even though the read is short, Smith fully develops her characters as well as giving the reader a good sense of the time and place in which the events are occurring. The book opens with a duel and ends with an HEA. I’m not sure what else I could have asked for 🙂

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About the author and where to find her:

Lauren SmithBorn and raised in Tulsa, Lauren Smith spent the first twenty-two years of her life in Oklahoma, bridging the worlds between urban girl and cowgirl. After high school she attended Oklahoma State University where she earned Bachelor of Art degrees in history and political science. Drawn to paintings in museums and obsessed with antiques, she has satisfied her fascination with history by writing and exploring exotic, ancient lands.  Over the years, Lauren’s studies have opened doors throughout the world. From spending two summers at Cambridge to attending classes at such divergent places as Ireland and Chengdu, China, she has discovered fascinating opportunities for enrichment wherever she goes. After completing college, Lauren moved to Michigan to attend law school at the University of Detroit-Mercy and University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada. Armed with two Juris Doctorate degrees from both countries, she returned to Tulsa and became an intellectual property attorney.  Since third grade when her English teacher proposed that all students should craft a story for a young writers’ conference, Lauren has been hooked on writing. Her first self-illustrated manuscript described the mysterious disappearance of rare brown bats that were being captured by scientists bent on using them as carriers for an incurable disease. The immense sense of joy in sharing that story with others, and discussing plots and characters, made it clear to Lauren that writing was her true passion. 

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Email: ldsmith1818@gmail.com

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Queen of Blood by Jill Myles

QUEEN OF BLOOD RD BLITZ

Title: Queen of Blood Author: Jill Myles Format: Kindle Edition, 287 pages Published: June 30, 2015  ASIN: B00XV240OG

Title: Queen of Blood
Author: Jill Myles
Format: Kindle Edition, 287 pages
Published: June 30, 2015
ASIN: B00XV240OG

Purple GoodreadsSynopsis:

 For one hundred years, Seri’s people have lived under the thumb of the Blood, the cruel and mysterious rulers of Athon. Seri wants nothing more than to put food on the table and marry the hotheaded but handsome Rilen come spring. But when a noblewoman asks Seri to be her handmaiden, Rilen insists she move to the enemy’s castle . . . and spy on the newly arrived prince.

Prince Graeme has grown weary of his family’s curse. The Blood are powerful and immortal, but doomed to live in the shadows, flitting from lover to lover, always in search of the mythic Eterna—the one woman who will sate their hunger. Now his father has sent him to the outskirts of the empire to stamp out a rebellious Vidari faction. But when a wild and alluring Vidari girl shows up at court, he finds himself torn between following his father’s orders and following his heart . . .

A war is brewing between Athonite and Vidari, between Blood and man. As uprisings sweep through the land, Seri and Graeme find themselves at the center of a storm with only one choice: betray each other, or betray their people.

 queen of blood 5

Excerpt from Queen of Blood:

 “Lady Mila de Vray,” the priest called.

Finally.

Seri braced herself, readying the cords. Ahead of her, the lady swept into the center of the room, making her grand entrance with small flicks of her fan. Hands spread like she had been taught, Seri matched her steps to Lady Mila’s gliding ones as she carried the excessive train of skirts to the center of the floor. Prince Graeme’s eyes flickered over Seri’s appearance and then back to the lady before him. If he recognized either of them, he gave no indication.

Lady Mila sank down into a deep curtsy, skirts pooling around her.

Behind her, hands tangled in the noblewoman’s train, Seri hesitated. Lady Mila’s deep bow just emphasized the fact that Seri was still standing behind her. Was this all part of the game, then? To force her hand and have her insult the court? Someone coughed, a sound that felt out of place in the stillness, and she could feel the heat of every eye in the room on her.

They can string me up next to Kasmar, she thought. I will not yield to this.

Biting her lip, Seri closed her eyes and bent her head, the closest approximation to deference that she could give.

And she waited. Waited for a signal from Lady Mila, or a jerk of the cords. Waited for the priests to indicate that they would move on. Something.

Then, someone gave a surprised shout and then a low murmur rippled through the crowd. Seri looked up, and gasped. A white glow of light had formed in the center of the room, just above Lady Mila’s head. There was no brazier there, no candelabra, no discernible source for the glow. It had appeared suddenly and of its own volition, as if summoned by the gods . . . or the Athonite goddess herself.

“The Betrothed!” Lady Penella breathed, all tears gone. Shock skittered through Seri. Lady Mila? Truly? The small, cruel part of her was disappointed. Lady Mila would be even more insufferable than before. Poor Lady Aynee had looked to be a more suitable—and amenable—bride for the prince.

The two priests continued to chant the Goddess’s praises, rapt and exultant. The room hummed with whispers and Lady Mila stood bathed in the glow, a radiant smile on her face. The prince stood and stepped down from the dais, and the light continued to grow, until suddenly Seri’s skin felt as though it were on fire. Her stomach churned and she tugged at the cords, suddenly desperate to get free, to get out of this over-warm room, away from the Athonites and their goddess and their strange ways. But before she could move, a heavy hand landed on her shoulder.

The prince. He had walked right past Lady Mila to Seri. . . .

And that was when Seri realized that the white light wasn’t centered around Lady Mila, whose face was pinched and bright red with ill-concealed rage.

It was on her.

Seri’s body went numb. “It’s not me,” she protested. “It can’t be.”

The prince gazed down at her for a long moment, dark eyes emotionless. But she could sense turmoil behind them . . . as if he was as upset and surprised as she was. Seri moved to turn, moved to flee. This couldn’t be happening. She wasn’t Prince Graeme’s Betrothed. She was Vidari, and she had to get home, to Josdi and father. To Rilen—

As if sensing her panic, the prince took her by the elbow, turning her to face the crowd. His grip was tight on her arm, holding her in place. “The Goddess has granted me a Betrothed,” he called out in a flat tone that carried across the still ballroom floor. “Truly, I am blessed.”

The room erupted into wild cheers and angry chatter.

“It’s not me,” Seri said again. “It can’t be.”

“You echo my thoughts exactly, madam,” Prince Graeme said in her ear. “Now smile.”

 queen of blood 8Amazon US | Amazon UK

About the author and where to find her:

jessica clareJill Myles has been an incurable romantic since childhood. She reads all the ‘naughty parts’ of books first, looks for a dirty joke in just about everything, and thinks to this day that the Little House on the Prairie books should have been steamier.  After devouring hundreds of paperback romances, mythology books, and archaeological tomes, she decided to write a few books of her own – stories with a wild adventure, sharp banter, and lots of super-sexy situations. She prefers her heroes alpha and half-dressed, her heroines witty, and she loves nothing more than watching them overcome adversity to fall into bed together.

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Review: Crave (Book #1: Undone Series) by Jennifer Dawson

 

Title: Crave Series: Book #1: Undone Series Author: Jennifer Dawson Format: Paperback, 308 pages Published: June 1, 2015  ISBN: 1511472979

Title: Crave
Series: Book #1: Undone Series
Author: Jennifer Dawson
Format: Paperback, 308 pages
Published: June 1, 2015
ISBN: 1511472979

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

I vow. I crave. I give in.

I used to be a nice, normal girl. I had dreams. Good, happy dreams of a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a fairytale love that lasts forever. Nobody ever warned me that sometimes, the prince dies three weeks before the wedding.

Like any addict, I swear this time is the last….

Now, I go through my days, a shadow of my former self. I pretend I’m okay, and the people in my life pretend to believe me. But, sometimes, when I can no longer stand the craving, I roam an underground sex club looking for my next hit. It’s dirty and wrong, but I can’t stop, and my only line of defense between them and me, is the rules I’ve designed to keep me safe. The men always abide by my rules. Until I meet him.

And, like any addict, I’m wrong.

I don’t question the instincts that tell me to run. One look at him, standing there, power radiating off him in waves, tells me all I need to know. He will make me crave those happy dreams I’ve left behind. And that is not an option.

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Layla Hunter wants desperately to be like other girls. She wants to be happy and beautiful with a career and family that sustain her. Layla wants to be like other girls but that opportunity was crushed the night she and her fiancé were attacked in a dark alley. Layla survived but her fiancé didn’t and for eighteen long months she has been trying to cope with a loss so big it has nearly consumed her. To make matters far, far worse, Layla has a dark secret, a craving that can only be fulfilled in what she considers to be a most depraved way. For eighteen months, Layla has gone through a vicious cycle of denying her craving to the point of pain and then allowing a far different kind of pain to be dealt out by a nameless stranger. When she succumbs to her craving, Layla is left the most temporary feeling of satisfaction that is quickly replaced by feelings of guilt, betrayal and, revulsion. Layla’s craving, like her grief is consuming her.

The night Layla meets Michael Banks, she knows instantly he is going to change her in the most profound way. Layla’s body betrays her on every level when Michael is near and though her mind screams for her to run far, far away her body and heart are singing a very different song. Michael’s pull is magnetic and no matter how hard Layla thinks she wants to stay away, her heart and body tell her he can be her salvation, he can be the thing that helps out of the darkness and back into the land of the living. Michael Banks can give Layla the pain she craves and needs to be whole and fulfilled once again.

From the moment he sees Layla, Michael knows she is broken and just a step away from being completely ruined. Michael is not a glutton for punishment by any means but he loves a challenge and after watching Layla for six months, he knows instinctually what she needs and he is just the man to give it to her. Layla’s wants, needs and desires are written all over her and if Michael can build trust and slowly chip away at her defenses, they may each find exactly what they have been searching for. Michael is an absolutely dominant man but his dominance is tempered with patience, kindness and, caring. Though it initially seems he is playing with Layla, what Michael is really doing is giving her the opportunity to trust herself again and know she can make decisions for herself. Michael is also establishing a very real D/s relationship with a woman he can’t seem to resist.

To say Layla and Michael’s relationship is fraught with emotional turbulence doesn’t do the word turbulence justice. Layla is literally a half step away from being completely ruined and with just one misstep, Michael can destroy her. Layla is as frightened by Michael’s presence in her life as she is excited. With each interaction, Michael awakens something in Layla she thought was buried with her fiancé. Make no mistake, this relationship isn’t just emotional but also deliciously physical. One of Michael’s true gifts is his ability to read people and Layla’s body is constantly talking to him. While she often tries to tell Michael to leave her alone her body screams at him to come back, to touch her, to hurt in the most erotic and welcome ways. Michael pushes though absolutely never forces Layla and he ultimately helps to her to see how strong she really is.

The Bottom Line: Crave was a one sitting, cover-to-cover read for me and I think I may have experienced every dip, dive and roll over Layla’s emotions went through right along with her. Though Layla is easy to root for, her story is hard to read. She sees herself as broken and depraved and utterly alone since her fiancé died. For 18 months she has punished herself emotionally and allowed others to punish her physically as a means of coping with her grief and sexual needs. Michael understands her in a way not even her fiancé did and with that understanding comes a fresh sense of guilt and betrayal. Layla fights her feelings for Michael, her desire for him until she finally realizes how tired she is from constantly fighting. To accept Michael and all he has to offer her doesn’t mean she has to forget about her fiancé. In fact, Michael constantly encourages Layla to open up to him, talk to him and, trust that he won’t ever try and take her fiancé’s place. Michael’s patience is as strong as his dominant side and each is equally sexy. He is somewhat overt in his displays of dominance while in public and that just makes some of the naughty bits all the hotter. While I certainly can’t pretend to understand the why of what it is that Layla needs to be sexually satisfied, I can tell you that these elements are dealt with head on and respectfully in this read. Overall, I was able to connect with both characters (in very different ways!), I found the plot to be justifiably permeated with tension and sexual desire and, I found the resolution to be most satisfying. Though this read certainly isn’t for everyone, for those who like this genre, it is a well-written work that takes the read on an emotional roller coaster ride with just enough kink to keep everything interesting.

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Excerpt: Escape from the Past (Book #1: The Duke’s Wrath Series) by Annette Oppenlander

escape from the past banner

Title: Escape from the Past Series: Book #1: The Duke's Wrath Author: Annette Oppenlander Format: Hardcover, 299 pages Expected publication: July 31, 2015 by Lodestone Books  ISBN: 9781846949

Title: Escape from the Past
Series: Book #1: The Duke’s Wrath
Author: Annette Oppenlander
Format: Hardcover, 299 pages
Expected publication: July 31, 2015 by Lodestone Books
ISBN: 9781846949

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he’s sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn’t realize that 1) He’s been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into the actual past: anywhere and anytime. And 3) Survival is optional: to return home he must decipher the game’s rules and complete its missions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in the past—forever.

Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornets’ nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.

Excerpt from Escape from the Past (Book #1: The Duke’s Wrath Series):

It was exactly 9:32 p.m. when I settled into my favorite chair, the one with the ripped Mexican blanket that serves as a cushion. Little did I know I’d be gone within the hour. I mean gone as in disappeared. Powering up my high-speed Cyber Xtreme and 32-inch monitor, a guilt gift from my dad and the only valuable thing I own, I stared at the blank disc in my hand. According to my friend, Jimmy, it contained some secret new game his father had invented. Jimmy said his dad thought the game was faulty and I wondered why his dad would have given it to him.  Most people consider Jimmy the lucky one. He lives in a mansion because his father runs some ginormous tech company. My mom and me share space with a thousand spiders in a twobedroom cottage with a thatched roof. Who in the twenty-first century lives in a house covered with a bunch of straw? Anyway, I digress. The tower purred as it swallowed the disc, the best sound in the world. It took a long time to boot which should’ve given me the first clue something was wrong. If there’s one thing that drives me crazy it’s slow processors and I knew it wasn’t my equipment. I’ve been gaming since I was six and consider myself pretty good. Especially when it comes to debugging stuff. I was stoked to figure it out, maybe make a few bucks in the process. I’m still American enough to think of dollars instead of Euros because we’ve only lived in Germany for two years. I was scrounging for a candy bar in my desk when a flame shot across the screen, burning yellow, red and blue. Not that I smoke, but it looked real enough to light a cigarette. In slow motion the fire edged letters into the screen. EarthRider. Cool name. Of course I didn’t get it then. Stupid me. Below the fire appeared a globe, the kind librarians have on their desks. The thing rotated slowly, zooming closer and closer like Google Earth. Jimmy was right, this was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, the graphics as realistic as if I’d been standing there. Bornhagen, the place we live, was marked with a front door. Enter here flashed below. I was pretty fed up waiting, my fingers twitching to hit the keys. First it took ages to load, then it showed a map? But I didn’t have much else to do except review a few algebra problems— unlike Jimmy I’ve got no trouble with math—so I clicked. On the screen giant boulders shaped themselves into a gate, opening onto a bunch of hills and a shadowy forest. In the distance, high on the mountain, I saw a castle with two towers, a pale banner fluttering limply on top. It looked vaguely familiar, but at the time I didn’t really think much about it. An ox cart moved slowly across a country road toward the castle. I sniffed. Something reeked like boiled manure. I looked around to find the source when I noticed a man on the screen scurrying along a bumpy trail. He wheezed, dragging his bare feet. He was obviously injured, the filthy rags on his right shoulder dark with blood. The screen zoomed to follow as the man darted into the woods. Giant oaks swallowed the sun, a patchwork of shadows and light in the undergrowth. At the time I remember thinking how lame this game was despite the graphics—no dragons, no monsters, nothing exciting whatsoever. Besides, I was slightly worried my mom would come in. The whiskey she likes usually puts her to sleep on the couch, but you never know. Luckily, most of the time, she doesn’t know when I pull an all-nighter. Horse gallop thudded out of nowhere. Visibly trembling the grimy-looking man hesitated for a moment before thrashing his way through bushes and undergrowth. At the edge of the forest three riders in chainmail and helmets came into view, their chestnut horses whinnying and covered in sweat. The clang of metal sliced the air as the men drew swords.
At that moment my cell rang. I remember hesitating because I thought maybe Jimmy’s dad had found out about me borrowing the game. I’d sort of pushed for it. I should’ve stopped what I was doing right then, but I was still curious and decided to ignore the phone. On the screen a yellowed scroll, its edges burned and crumbling, unfolded into a menu. Continue Level One Expert Pause Exit Upgrade to Expert now? flashed below. Cool. There was an advanced version. I moved the mouse and clicked. Instantly the screen began to pulse and recede. Like looking into a fish tank, the tree trunks, oak leaves and bushes grew larger and threedimensional, sharper and closer. I heard birds chirping and rustling in the undergrowth. And the foul smell was back. I leaned forward because all of a sudden my chest was killing me. I was stuck in a truck-sized vise, my ribs squeezing together, body compressing. My lungs throbbed and I couldn’t breathe, not even a little. My arms and legs felt numb. Do something, I thought. I pushed myself to stand. Something is wrong with the game, stop the game, my mind urged. But I couldn’t. Lights exploded behind my eyelids and I had to pay every shred of attention to the task of breathing. It occurred to me that I was having a heart attack. My mother’s face flashed by. I wanted to shout for her, but my lungs had quit for good, my tongue a rigid piece of meat. She’d find me in the morning dead on the carpet. My sight turned foggy then black. I was passing out. I sucked frantically and drew in a bit of air. Slowly with each breath the crushing heaviness disappeared. Blinking away the haze, I wiped my sweaty forehead. I should make an appointment with the family doctor. Something moved ahead. There at the edge of a clearing cowered the man in rags holding his right elbow. He trembled and now that I was closer, I saw blood dripping from his wrist. The three riders had surrounded him, their blades pointing toward the man’s neck. One rider dismounted, his face shadowed by a half helmet and curled brownish beard, his hands covered by steel gauntlets like lizard scales. The other two sat motionless, waiting. I tried to get a better view of what the horsemen were doing when I looked down. And froze. I stood on the root of an oak tree. Surely I imagined things. But those were definitely my Nikes I’d forgotten to take off when I returned home. I moved my foot. Leaves crackled. A twig snapped. Something terriblehad happened, something I couldn’t wrap my mind around. I blinked and looked to my right. Trees and undergrowth were losing themselves in the gloom. I remembered the mouse in my right hand, but when I lifted my arm, my fingers came up empty—except for the smear of something sticky on my palm. I was bleeding. Wait. The bush next to me was covered in blood. Not mine, I realized with relief. Disgusted I wiped my shaking hands with a fistful of leaves and turned to look behind me. The woods stretched into darkness—shadows within shadows nearly black. My room was gone.

 Amazon | Book Depository

**Currently ranked #1 in hot new teen fiction, medieval**

About the author and where to find her:

Oppenlander-214x300Annette Oppenlander writes historical fiction for young adults. When she isn’t in front of her computer, she loves indulging her dog, Mocha, and traveling around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing histories.  “Nearly every place holds some kind of secret, something that makes history come alive. When we scrutinize people and places closely, history is no longer a number, it turns into a story.”

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Luck of the Irish (Book #1: Leprechaun’s Gold) by Sara Humphreys

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Title: Luck of the Irish Series: Book #1: Leprechaun's Gold Series Author: Sara Humphreys Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Expected publication: June 30, 2015 by Sara Humphreys  ISBN: 1495153282

Title: Luck of the Irish
Series: Book #1: Leprechaun’s Gold Series
Author: Sara Humphreys
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Expected publication: June 30, 2015 by Sara Humphreys
ISBN: 1495153282

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

A leprechaun is powerless without his gold….

Banished to the mirrored realm for hundreds of years, Declan Aherne had nothing but time to plot his revenge and mourn the loss of his beloved wife. But when a beautiful human woman, with a familiar amulet, stares into the mirror….Declan’s luck was about to change.

Excerpt from Luck of the Irish (Book #1: Leprechaun’s Gold Series):

The gold emblem, the one that matched her necklace, sat at the top of the oval gilded frame, and when she leaned closer she realized that it was a recessed space. She ran her finger over it and let out a shuddering breath. Maggie had a sinking suspicion that the amulet around her neck would fit perfectly in that space.

“A key,” she whispered through trembling lips. “Aunt Lizzie said the amulet was a key to release the leprechaun from his prison.”

Rising to her feet, Maggie carried the mirror down the narrow hallway to her bedroom. She bumped the door open with her hip and stepped into the small, cozy green and white room. When she changed clothes earlier she’d already removed the old print and left the blank spot above her dresser for her long sought after prize.

With great care she hung the mirror onto the nail and adjusted it so that it was straight. She stepped back and inspected it as she removed the amulet and gold chain from around her neck. The heavy, gold disc felt warm in her palm as she curled her fingers around it and debated what to do next.

Part of her was as eager as a kid on Christmas Eve brimming with anticipation. She wanted to slip the amulet right into that spot on the frame and see if the fairy tale was true. But the other part of her, the one that dominated at the moment, was reluctant. Not because she was afraid of a leprechaun jumping out of the mirror.

In fact, it was exactly the opposite.

What if after all this time and all the searching she puts the amulet in the mirror and nothing happens? That would be a big, fat, fucking let down of colossal proportions.

Tears stung her eyes and she sniffled, laughing out loud at her foolishness. How long had she been searching for the mirror never really believing she’d find it? The hunt for this treasure was what kept her going after family was gone. It was like an invisible tie that kept her connected to them, but now she’d found it and the hunt was over.

It was a stark reminder that her family was never coming back.

Maggie was alone.

“I wish the story was true, Aunt Lizzie,” she whispered. “But true or not, thank you for sharing it with me….I miss you all so much.”

She turned her teary gaze to her reflection as she ran her fingertip over the amulet. It was time to face the truth and stop hiding inside her own fairy tales, the ones she perpetuated every time she went in search of the magical mirror from Aunt Lizzie’s stories. She had to face the reality of the world she lived in.

Her family was gone and they weren’t coming back. The mirror wasn’t magic and she wasn’t anything special, and the only way to really face it was to put the amulet in the mirror—and watch as nothing happened.

Fairy tales weren’t real.

Neither were leprechauns or warlocks.

No more hiding from the world or retreating into fanciful stories.

“Time to face the truth.”

Maggie pressed the amulet to her lips before reaching up and slipping the disc into the recessed spot at the top of the mirror. The moment it clicked into place she whispered the Gaelic phrase Aunt Lizzie always uttered when she told this part of the story. “Scaoileadh mé tú.”

At first nothing happened and Maggie was ready to drown herself in the rest of the chardonnay. She was about to leave the room in search of the wine when a ripple in her reflection caught her eye. Maggie swallowed hard and squinted, not sure she was actually seeing what she thought she was seeing. But sure enough the glass surface of the mirror began to undulate and swell like silver waves in an otherworldly ocean.

She backed up as her image in the mirror blurred and a low, pulsing throbbing sound began to rumble through the room. Maggie scrambled backward and up onto the bed as the deafening noise grew louder by the second. Her hands flew to hear ears, the pulsing noise permeating every single cell of her body making her teeth clatter. It felt like the entire building would come down around her any second and if she wasn’t completely paralyzed by fear, she might have run.

But Maggie couldn’t move. She curled up into the fetal position, hands over her ears, as the world rumbled around her. She half expected the ground to open up and swallow her whole.

A split second later, the mirror erupted in an explosion of light and Maggie squeezed her eyes shut. As a scream threatened to rip from her throat the world went completely silent and still. No more bone rattling throbbing running through the air. The shaking and trembling had ceased, except for her body. She was quivering like a damn leaf and cowering on her bed like a total coward.

Her heart hammered against her ribcage and her eyes were screwed tightly shut as the unmistakable sound of someone breathing heavily filled the room. At first, she thought it was her own breath because she was huffing and puffing like she’d run a freaking marathon. But about a second later, it became glaringly clear she was no longer alone.

The fairy tale was true.

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About the author and where to find her:

Sara HumphreysSara Humphreys is a graduate of Marist College, with a B.A. Degree in English Literature & Theater. Her initial career path after college was as a professional actress. Some of her television credits include, A&E Biography, Guiding Light, Another World, As the World Turns and Rescue Me.  In 2013 Sara’s novel UNTAMED won two PRISM awards–Dark Paranormal and Best of the Best.  She loves writing hot heroes and heroines with moxie but above all, Sara adores a satisfying happily-ever-after. She lives in New York with her husband, their four amazing sons, and two adorable pups. When she’s not writing or hanging out with the men in her life, she can be found working out with Shaun T in her living room or chatting with readers on Facebook.  For a full list of Sara’s books and reading order, please visit her website.

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Email:  sara@novelromance.net

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Review: Going All In (Book #4: Heat Wave Series) by Alannah Lynne

Title: Going All In Series: Book #4: Heat Wave Series Author: Alannah Lynne Format: Paperback, 276 pages Published: September 30, 2014 by Alannah Lynne  ISBN: 0988436973

Title: Going All In
Series: Book #4: Heat Wave Series
Author: Alannah Lynne
Format: Paperback, 276 pages
Published: September 30, 2014 by Alannah Lynne
ISBN: 0988436973

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

It’s been two years since Callie Holden helped put her father in prison, and since then, she’s learned a lot about life and herself. To Callie’s surprise, she actually likes working and has learned money is a tool to be used for good… or evil. She also realizes that even though she’s traveled the globe, she’s never truly lived. She longs for adventure and to experience a wildly passionate romance. The last place she expects to discover her dreams is in the arms of the ever-surly man she’s dubbed “The Beast.” But when they’re forced to work together, unexpected chemistry changes everything. In Wade Neumann’s arms, Callie finds the excitement and passion she’s been looking for, as well as a few other surprises.
Wade Neumann has spent the last year burying the pain and humiliation of being left at the altar by a woman who used him as a novelty toy before settling down with someone like herself—someone rich. He’s lost himself in a stream of nameless females, but instead of the trysts helping him heal, he’s only grown colder and more jaded. He hasn’t moved on with his life. He’s merely stuck going through the motions… until he meets Callie Holden, a woman who looks like his ex but is actually the opposite—sweet, compassionate, loyal, and most importantly, not rich. Or so he thinks. Because just as he starts to believe things with Callie are real and true, she gives him thirty million reasons to doubt all over again.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

Wade Neumann has spent the last year mending his broken heart. And by mending his broken heart, I mean he has been whoring about with a handful of women who expect just as little of Wade as he wants from them. Just one short year ago, Wade was a week before his wedding and looking forward to happily ever after. His fiancé on the other hand was snogging another man and not at all interested in marrying Wade. Needless to say, the wedding was called off and Wade was left to pick up the pieces of both his broken heart and his pride.

Callie Holden has spent two years trying to make a life for herself outside of her father’s shadow and without his money. While this wouldn’t be tremendously hard for most people, Callie has spent the vast majority of her life completely sheltered from everything except friends, shopping and, socializing. Sure, she has a college degree but she’s never had a job and never had to do anything other than spend money and generally enjoy her life. Everything changed for Callie when her father lost his damn fool mind and landed himself in jail. In that moment, Callie knew it was time for her to strike out on her own and with the help of her friends, she bought a home, a car and got herself an 8-5 job.

For the last year, Wade has done his best to avoid Callie Holden. During the one and only time they worked together, Callie treated Wade like the hired help, order him about and being generally disagreeable. As if to add insult to injury, Callie looks like his ex and she acts like the spoiled princess he “knows” her to be. Much to his great displeasure, a seriously hungover Wade has been ordered by the boss to work with Callie on another project. With avoidance no longer being possible, Wade sucks it up and meets Callie for what he assumes will be a hellish day. As my tiny little granny used to say, “Assuming only makes an ass out of you and me!”

Wade’s day with Callie may be filled with work but he is most pleasantly surprised by her demeanor. From the moment he walks in, Callie is kind, courteous and, willing to work every bit as hard as Wade does. Inexplicably, Wade finds himself not only enjoying Callie’s company but not wanting his time with her to end. What The actual F*%^ is that all about?? For Callie’s part, her time with Wade is a mixed bag as her mind, body and, heart war with each another. Her mind keeps wandering into lustful territory that her body seems to want to agree with but her heart is cautious. Callie has spent so long trying to become a different, better person that she doesn’t quite trust herself around a man as beautiful as Wade. Plus, there was that time a year ago that she treated him like the hired help 🙂

After their surprising day together, Wade and Callie begin a slow and sultry dance around a relationship. Callie is fascinated by Wade, his sense of adventure, generally easy going nature and, smoking hot body that towers over hers. Wade is fascinated by how wrong he was about Callie, her willingness to try new things, her bold and courageous honesty and, her smoking hot body that fits so nicely next to his. In Callie’s new world view, she doesn’t care what her high falutin’ friends think about her new man, she is all kinds of broadening her horizons with Wade, she loves how she feels when she’s with him and, eventually she’ll tell him about her $30 million trust fund. What The actual F*&^ is that?? Part of the reason Wade trusts Callie is his clear understanding of how unlike she really is; she works hard for the money and the things she has and she appreciates the little things in life. Or, so Wade thinks.

The Bottom Line: This series just keeps getting better and better for me!! With “older” characters getting their day in the sun, I am digging everything about these reads. Callie originally appeared in Gavin and Sunny’s story and really didn’t make a great showing of herself. In fact, Callie was generally unlikeable the first time around. Going All In is a much better showing for Callie as she has all but become a totally new girl. Callie is really trying to make a new life for herself and Wade is the perfect addition to her new life. Wade’s distrust and general heartbreak have been a poison in his life for the last year and Callie is like an antidote. Once Wade truly sits down and faces his issues and deals with them, he is able to accept everything about Callie and work toward making a life with her. From the beginning, Wade and Callie are so clearly meant to be together and though they have some obstacles in their way, Lynne doesn’t drag the drama out for too long and this is one of the things I enjoy most about this series. There is just enough drama to make the story interesting but not so much as to feel like the characters are stuck in a never-ending cycle. The naughty bits in this read are quite delicious and that has everything to do with Wade and his experience and Callie and her innocence. In all, the Heat Wave is a perfect summer read series so load up your e-readers and rock on!

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About the author and where to find her:

Alannah believes there’s nothing more magical than finding the other half of your soul, experiencing fiery passion, and knowing you’ve found happily-ever-after.  She loves going to work each day (in sweats and a T-shirt) and writing about hot heroes and feisty heroines who torment each other in the most delicious ways before finding their happy ending.  She lives in the coastal region of North Carolina with her husband, who also happens to be her best friend and biggest fan. They have two sons, a dog, and two cats.

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Excerpt: Forsaken (Book #3: The Secret Life of Amy Benson Series) by Lisa Renee Jones

forsaken excerpt

Title: Forsaken Series: Book #3: The Secret Life of Amy Benson Series Author: Lisa Renee Jones Format: Kindle Edition, 384 pages Expected publication: August 18, 2015 by Gallery Books  ASIN: B00P42WUZC

Title: Forsaken
Series: Book #3: The Secret Life of Amy Benson Series
Author: Lisa Renee Jones
Format: Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication: August 18, 2015 by Gallery Books
ASIN: B00P42WUZC

Purple Goodreads

 Synopsis:

Six years ago, Chad’s hunt for a dangerous treasure turned deadly when his family home was set on fire, his parents killed. Faking his and his sister Amy’s death to protect her from further retaliation, he set her up in a new life with a friend’s help, letting her believe he’d died.  But now the men who hired Chad to find the treasure have found him, imprisoning and torturing him to learn where it’s hidden. A dark-haired beauty named Gia helps him escape, promising him access to his worst enemy. And as he tries to unravel the deep secrets of the past, he starts falling for her…only to discover she’s not what she seems.  Unable to trust anyone, Chad focuses on only two things: protecting his sister Amy and getting revenge. Is love even possible in the midst of heartache?

 forsaken er 2

Excerpt from Forsaken (Book #3: The Secret Life of Amy Benson Series):

It’s nearly eight in the evening when I take the elevator to our secure, key-coded floor and enter the suite, where I immediately hear, “Chad! Is that you?”

Angry, I grab the chair in front of the door and shove it aside.

“Oh, thank God,” Gia gushes, flinging her arms around my neck. “You’re in one piece.”

Stunned by her greeting, by the way her sweet curves meld against me, I fight the heat rushes through me, untangling her grip and pressing her hands against the wall. “Tell me what you know about my sister,” I demand.

Nothing, Chad. I told you that. Is she—was she—”

“You know I didn’t find her.”

“I wanted you to find her. I was terrified for you.”

Anger expands in me, seeping into my veins, and on some level, I know it’s not about Gia at all, or maybe I just fear it will be about her. I don’t want to trust her and be wrong. “You barely know me.”

“I know you’re in pain. I know what being alone feels like, and I know that’s what you feel right now.”

Alone.

It’s a word that pierces my heart with guilt. It’s what I know my sister has felt for six long years. I was all she had, the only one she could count on, even if she didn’t know I was there—and I failed her. The pain is a seed that grows and expands inside me in an instant, and suddenly, or maybe not so suddenly, the idea of being betrayed by Gia is not as biting as the idea of failing her as well. My hands come down on her face, and I stare at her. “I have money and resources to hide you, and I promise you, no one will find you. But I won’t be there with you. I’m poison to anyone near me. You can’t forget that. I can’t forget that.”

I don’t give her time to reply. My mouth closes down on hers, my tongue pressing past her lips, stroking and stroking again, in what is instantly an aggressive, searching kiss. She moans, and I swear the sound of her moan shatters a piece of my soul that is already bleeding for my sister. In this moment, it feels like all I have left is this woman. 

 forsaken er 3

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Pre-order Forsaken and Unbroken and receive exclusive content leading up to the release and super special bonus content after the release of Unbroken as well. You can find the form herehttp://lisareneejones.com/pre-order-promotion/

About the author and where to find her:

lisa renee jones bioNew York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT SERIES, and is now in development by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland, Austin Powers, Must Love Dogs) for cable TV. In addition, her Tall, Dark and Deadly series and The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series, both spent several months on a combination of the NY Times and USA Today lists.  Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 40 books translated around the world. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann.  Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.  Lisa loves to hear from her readers.

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