Review: Deadly Sweet (Book #1: The Spellwork Syndicate Series) by Lola Dodge

Deadly SweetAnise Wise loves three things: baking, potion making, and reading her spellbooks in blissful silence. She might not be the most powerful witch, but enchantment is a rare skill, and her ability to bake with magic is even rarer. Too bad no one wants witchcraft on their campus. Anise’s dream of attending pastry school crumbles with rejection letter after rejection letter.

Desperate to escape her dead-end future, Anise contacts the long-lost relative she’s not supposed to know about. Great Aunt Agatha owns the only magic bakery in the US, and she suddenly needs a new apprentice. Anise is so excited she books it to New Mexico without thinking to ask what happened to the last girl.

The Spellwork Syndicate rules the local witches in Taos, but as “accidents” turn into full-out attacks on Anise’s life, their promises to keep her safe are less and less reassuring. Her cranky bodyguard is doing his best, but it’s hard to fight back when she has no idea who’s the enemy. Or why she became their target.

If Anise can’t find and stop whoever wants her dead, she’ll be more toasted than a crème brûlée.

Who knew baking cakes could be so life or death?

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Source: Netgalley and Purchase          My Rating: 4½/5 stars

HELL YES!!!!  This is my first Lola Dodge read and I am ever so glad to have started with such a fun and exciting book 😊

Anise Wise is a witch.  Anise Wise lives in a world where witchcraft is known, recognized, and generally feared by those with no magic of their own.  As a result, Anise has spent her entire life hiding who she is and what she is capable of.  With very little formal training, Anise doesn’t have the best control over her magic and from time to time it leaks out.  With each leak, Anise and her mother are forced to pack their bags and find a new place where no one knows who and what Anise really is.  Unfortunately, her latest leak isn’t a small bit of nothing, but a tremendous display of power that lands her in jail and facing a lifetime behind bars.  With nothing else to do but run, Anise runs to the one place she will undoubtedly be safe, the magical vortex in New Mexico.

New Mexico is a haven for witches and Anise is taken in by her great aunt, Agatha, a powerful and wealthy witch who owns the only magical bakery in the US.  Anise feels stronger near the vortex and her aunt is offering her a chance to fulfill her dream of becoming a baker.  Anise’s magic runs toward enchantment and baking, like her aunt, a rare gift Anise is hoping to hone in New Mexico.  With the threat of prison behind her (isn’t magic awesome?) Anise is able to work in her aunt’s bakery, enroll in culinary school, make friends with other witches, and not fear her secret will be discovered.  It seems like the perfect life, the life Anise has always wanted with the exception of two things, her surly bodyguard, Wynn, and the fact someone is trying to kill her.

Anise is certain the death threats have nothing to do with her past, but she can’t imagine what she’s done in her present to incite such anger and hatred.  She hasn’t been in New Mexico long enough to piss off anyone, yet the attempts on her life just keep coming.  What’s more, the threats and attempts are coming from an incredibly powerful source that is determined to succeed.  Anise’s aunt and the other members of the Spellwork Syndicate must combine their own strength and power to defeat the evil seeking to claim Anise’ life.  What no one counts on, including the Syndicate, the big bad, and Wynn is Anise’s own abilities, determination, and will to live.  In combination, Anise is a force to be reckoned with and she certainly doesn’t want anyone dying just to save her life. 

The Bottom Line:  What a fun way to be introduced to a new-to-me author!  I totally judged this book by its awesome cover and what I found behind the cover was an interesting, exciting, and quirky read.  Anise is a young character with plenty of room to mature and develop as the series matures and develops.  I liked Anise immediately and only grew to like her more as her words and actions indicated her strength, compassion, loyalty, and determination.  Anise is willing to work just as hard for herself as she finds others are willing to work on her behalf.  She takes nothing for granted and fights for the things and people she holds dear.  The plot, characters, and language are all perfectly written for YA readers, but I would recommend this read to all readers YA and above.  It’s fun, quirky, and entertaining, and I have already ordered the second book in the series set to release in late 2018 😊

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Excerpt: Shooting Star by Jeffe Kennedy

Shooting Star - eBook smallNot all desires are shiny and sweet—and the dark ones might change you forever…

It’s not the kind of obsession a tough Army guy can admit to—a jones for Ava, the pretty-princess pop star. Not just her body, the perfect product that sells all those magazines. Her music.

The critics call her human lip gloss, all style and no substance. To Joe Ivanchan, Ava is the exact blend of reality and fantasy that he can tolerate, the closest he’s willing to get to giving his heart after the injury and breakdown that got him out of the service.
But Ava is real. She’s a flesh and blood woman with a publicity machine and an album deadline, along with a whole team of handlers paid to shellac a pristine sheen over a damaged, desperate soul. A woman with fears, with secrets, with desires.

When Joe finds himself in an interview to join her security team as her driver, his instinct is to get away. But the woman behind Ava’s carefully focus-grouped image is even harder to walk away from. The angry needs tormenting her speak to something within Joe. Something empathetic, protective—and primal…

Besides, even a falling star can light up the darkest night.

Excerpt from Shooting Star:

I don’t have to tell you she’s beautiful. All the world knows that.

I knew that much long before I met her, from those skyscraper-high videos flashing her face in Times Square to the cover of that men’s magazine published obscenely soon after her eighteenth birthday. The magazine hit the stands so fast that the shoot had to have happened when she was still a minor. I and all the other twisted perverts of the world had been counting down for that moment, for the little-girl princess to grow up just enough to be legal fodder for our prurient fantasies.

As opposed to the ones I’d had before that. The clock clicked past midnight and she went from forbidden to fair game.

I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t one of those guys. I was. I am. And I’ll cop to feeling like a dirty old man for being one of the ones waiting for her to be legal, even though I’m not a hell of a lot older than she is. War will do that to you, make you old before your time.

I got my buddy to bring me a copy in the hospital. I even kept it in a plastic sleeve, to protect those precious images of her. Not that I was obsessed, exactly. Back then I didn’t even know much about her music. I’d heard my little sister talk about her, but that was it. Not something the guys listened to.

The guys—we liked her for different reasons.

I don’t claim to be some special snowflake, but I always thought something else drew me to her, besides the star-struck, lust-filled awe I shared with so many. I was stupid with the pain management back then, so that contributed. Still, on the glossy pages of that magazine she gazed out with her trademark tawny-gold eyes, as if she saw right through me.

I won’t say I didn’t scrutinize the fine freckles on those high cheekbones that looked like they belonged on a sculpture of an Egyptian goddess, or where they scattered across the snowy skin of her breasts, a hint of her nipples behind the cloth she held in place. Or that I didn’t, like every other het guy out there, study that one pic—the one that showed her back—and the dark mole high on her adorable ass, which was barely covered by the gold-sequined drape of her gown.

Yeah, I fantasized about kissing that little mole. And more.

A hell of a lot more.

But it was never only that. Her eyes grabbed me in that photo, too. Something riveting in that gaze. Calling to me. The way she looked over her shoulder, with her hair in gleaming waves like one of those forties Hollywood movie stars, lips painted with gold glitter, pouting in what was probably supposed to be sexy. I guess it was, for all that, though it didn’t work for me. With the expression in her eyes, she looked sad. I had plenty of my own problems, but it still bothered me.

I went over and over that photo spread—and then every one I could find after that—studying her eyes, how they never matched the rest of her expression, the renowned color unfailingly brighter than all the glitter and jewelry they decorated her with. As if, if I looked long enough, I could decipher the thoughts behind them. Not what she was saying to me, some random guy among millions, but what she might say, given the opportunity.

What can I say? I had a lot of time on my hands.

I started downloading her music. People wanted to know what they could do for me, how to help? An iTunes gift card, man. All through the physical therapy, the hellish weaning from the morphine and all that other shit, I listened to her songs, her sweet voice a constant murmur in my ears. I even went back all the way to the kiddie albums and the inane and infectious bopping of those princess years, the goofy saccharine family movies and that kids’ show she started on.

A bubblegum counterpoint to my grim reality. I wasn’t going to show anyone my playlist, but I wouldn’t give it up, either.

Not long after that magazine spread, she came out with a new album—I told my home health aide to back off and stayed up to midnight to get it when it released. It had some of her own songs on it. With each album over the next few years, she had more of her own stuff. I made a game of it, when each dropped, listening and deciding which were hers before I checked the credits. Every once in a while I’d be wrong—and then those would be written by a particular few, the songwriters she must love. Her actual friends, maybe.

Once I was able to work again, I made mixes of her own songs and the special ones, listening while I drove, as long as I had no clients. People seemed to find it funny that a guy like me listened to a pop star known for the rabid fandom of teen—and tween—girls and I didn’t have much bandwidth for smart remarks.

Okay—zero bandwidth for static of any kind.

Expected release: March 6, 2018: Buy links will be added here: http://www.jeffekennedy.com/shooting-star/

About the author and where to find her:

JeffeKennedy2Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award.

Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, has also been nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and won RWA’s 2017 RITA® Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and is a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The next in the series, The Shift of the Tide, will be out in August, 2017. A high fantasy trilogy taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world is forthcoming from Rebel Base books in 2018.

She also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, and The Forests of Dru. She’s begun releasing a new contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince.

In 2019, St. Martins Press will release the first book, The Orchid Throne, in a new fantasy romance series, The Forgotten Empires.

Her other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

Excerpt and Sweepstakes: It Might Be You (Book #5: The Harrisons Series) by Jennifer Gracen

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IT MIGHT BE YOU cover hi resWhen Officer Nick Martell learns that a sick child needs his help, he flies to the young Harrison boy’s side. But once in the heart of the wealthy Harrison family, Nick faces a shocking truth—he is none other than a Harrison son himself, born of a secret affair. Though the blue-collar bachelor struggles to accept the elite clan as his own, compassion for the vulnerable boy compels him to stay. That, and the deep spark of connection he feels for the child’s beautiful nurse . . .
 
Amanda Kozlov never felt such a strong and sudden passion for a man before. But falling for Nick is not an option—the life the rugged cop leads is too dangerous, the wounds he carries from his explosive family history too fresh. Yet watching Nick bond with the young boy in her care, experiencing tenderness in his arms, Amanda longs to take a chance on the one man who could save the Harrison heir—the only man with the power to shatter her heart. And as drama swirls around them, only time will tell if they’re brave enough to give their love the future it deserves . . .

Excerpt from It Might Be You (Book #5: The Harrisons Series):

“Excuse me,” said a female voice. Nick’s head swiveled. He’d been so focused on the boy in the bed, he hadn’t realized someone else was there. A gorgeous woman, with dark honey hair, sky-blue eyes, and a sweet smile. Dressed in light blue scrubs, she approached him from the corner of the room, holding things. Nick blinked. She was beautiful… but a beautiful blonde. Couldn’t be a Harrison, then. Who was she?

“Sorry, but I have to ask you to use these before you get closer to him.” She held a white surgical mask in one hand and a bottle of antiseptic hand sanitizer in the other. She offered another smile as she opened the plastic bottle cap.

Something pinged deep in his chest as he looked at her. What the… it was like the air around him went wavy, even crackled with something like electricity. Finally, he blinked and cleared his throat. “Um, sure. Whatever you say.”

“Well, you travelled today, right?” she said. “So many germs in air travel…”

“Right. Of course. Sure.” He took the mask from her, and when their fingers brushed, he felt a jolt shoot up his arm. He almost shivered from it. Get a grip, dude. “I showered when I got to the hotel, though. Hope that helps?” He looked into her eyes.

“It does. But still.” She met his gaze and a light blush colored her cheeks. Maybe he hadn’t been the only one who’d felt that jolt. He couldn’t stop staring at her. What the hell was that about?

“This is Amanda,” Lisette said, jarring him from his momentary daze. “She’s one of Myles’s private nurses. She’s amazing.” Lisette dropped her voice to a stage whisper. “She’s also his favorite on the whole team, but don’t tell anyone.”

Amanda smiled at the compliment, winked down at Myles, then squirted some gel into Nick’s open palm. He rubbed his hands together, making sure to cover all his skin, but his eyes were glued to Amanda. He’d dated many women. He’d seen tons of gorgeous women… but never had one given him such a deep, visceral smack of an instant reaction.

He didn’t believe in love at first sight. But a… click, some kind of recognition, at first sight? Yeah, maybe. Nick felt something, he couldn’t deny it. It was bizarre… 

Then he almost grunted at himself out loud. This whole situation was messing with his head. He was losing his damn mind. He had to pull himself together.

“I’m Nick Martell,” he said to her, finding his voice just before he pulled on the mask. “Pleasure to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too, Mr. Martell.” Amanda’s voice revealed a bit of an accent. Purest Noo Yawk. He loved it.

“Please, call me Nick.”

“Well, Nick, everyone’s been anxious to meet you since they got the news,” she said. “It’s amazing that you’re a match, and that you were found. What a gift…” She reached up to adjust the mask over his nose and chin. Their eyes met again, and his heart gave a little kick in his chest.

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About the author and where to find her:

JGracen author photoJennifer Gracen hails from Long Island, New York, where she lives with her two sons. After spending her youth writing in private and singing in public, she now only sings in her car and is immersed in her passion for writing. She loves to write contemporary romance for readers who look for authentic characters and satisfying endings. When she isn’t with her kids, doing freelance proofreading, or chatting on Twitter and Facebook, Jennifer writes. She’s already hard at work on her next book.

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Instagram: @jennifergracenauthor

SWEEPSTAKES

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Make Me Want (Book #1: Make Me Series) by Katee Robert

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“I want everything.”

She’s taking control. And it’s driving him wild!

Lucy Baudin’s ex did a number on her self-esteem, but it’s time for her to regain control. In her job as a lawyer she’s bold, confident. But in the bedroom she needs inspiration to reawaken her inner seductress. Asking her friend Gideon Novak for help seems wrong…yet so deliciously right! 

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Excerpt from Make Me Want (Book #1: Make Me Series):

“What the fuck, Lucy?”

“Hmm?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about.” He pulled her dress up, though he didn’t need the confirmation. “You come in here with that cock tease of a dress and you aren’t wearing panties.” Jealousy and desire twisted viciously through him. “Were you going to give Aaron a little show?”

“Oh, please. Give me a little credit.” She lifted her chin. “I’m proving a point. You, Gideon Novak, don’t get to make my decisions for me. I appreciate your help, but that’s where it ends.”

She didn’t want him.

He was good enough to fuck but not good enough to listen to.

He kept a white-knuckled grip on his temper because having a knock-down, drag-out fight here and now wasn’t an option for either of them. Not to mention the fact that he didn’t have a right to be pissed. She’d laid out the terms that first day and if he chose to ignore them, that was on him—not on Lucy.

It didn’t make how shitty this situation was any easier to swallow.

Gideon stepped back. “The table. Bend over it.”

Her eyebrows inched up. “You can’t be serious.”

“As a fucking heart attack. I told you what would happen if you showed up like that, and you were all too eager to pick up that gauntlet. Choices have consequences, Lucy. This is one of them.”

She backed toward the table. One step. Two. “The consequences being that you’ll spank my ass red and then fuck me right here.”

She wants it.

It didn’t soothe his temper. If anything, it ratcheted it up a notch. She might want it but she didn’t want him. “The table.”

Lucy turned and, prim as a princess, bent over the table. She seemed to consider and then lowered her chest further until the top half of her body was flush against the polished wood. The position left her ass in the air and had her skirt riding up so he could see how turned on she was by this.

“Which part is getting you?” He stood between her and the door and pushed her dress the last few inches to bare her completely. “The spanking, the defiance, or the fact that we’re in an unlocked room where anyone could walk in—including your fucking date?”

She tilted her ass up, just a little, an offer that made his mouth water. But it was her words that sealed her fate. “All of the above.”

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About the author and where to find her:

KateeRobertNew York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it ‘a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension.”  When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. 

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SWEEPSTAKES

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Spotlight: Worst Case by Beck Anderson

 

Worst Case
by Beck Anderson
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Cover Designer: Caroline Tse
Release Date: January 16, 2018

 

Will she risk the fall and take a leap of faith?

Vivi Lewis just wants to stay in one place for more than a minute. It’s April of her senior year, for crying out loud, and here she is again, packed into a beat-up white Toyota with her anxiety-ridden single mom, fleeing the Washington coast. She hopes that this move—the one that’s taken them inland to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho—will finally be their true fresh start.

There’s little to indicate this time will be much different from all the others…until Vivi meets Win Kemper at the city bus stop before her first day of school. Win and Vivi are a perfect match—both self-defined weirdos. Vivi trusts Win, and their time together is a whirlwind of cliff-jumping and paddleboarding, a life immersed in nature that would have given her, and especially her mom, a panic attack in the past. Their instant spark becomes a rock-solid friendship, and might be even more, if Vivi can stick around long enough to experience it.

But having a reason to stay also raises the stakes. Running from their fears has never made Vivi and her mom safe enough before, and now everything she has to lose appears in sharp relief. Can she find the strength to separate herself from her mother? Will the burgeoning bond she and Win share be enough to get them beyond the last twenty-six days of senior year—even when the worst-case scenario comes to pass?

 

 

Beck Anderson believes in the power of perfectly imperfect women and in the healing power of love.

A two-time Rita© finalist, she’s the author of five novels including the Fix You series and The Jeweler. Her newest YA romance, Worst Case, releases 1/16/18.

Beck balances (clumsily at best) writing novels and screenplays, working full-time as an educator, mothering two boys, loving one husband, and making time to walk the foothills of Boise, Idaho, with Stefano DiMera Delfino Anderson, the suavest Chihuahua north of the border.

Email:  contact@authorbeck.com

 

 

Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Driving Whiskey Wild by Melissa Foster

A captivating new sexy standalone romance by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster.

Special Forces veteran and Dark Knights Motorcycle Club member Bullet Whiskey lives to protect his family, their bar, and the residents of his small hometown. He’s rough, unapologetic, and haunted by a secret, painful past. He’s also a master at keeping people away, and when his sister hires gorgeous and sweet Finlay Wilson to help expand their biker bar, he knows just how to get rid of her.

After losing her boyfriend and her father, Finlay moves back to her hometown to be closer to the little family she has left. She needs her temporary job at Whiskey Bro’s to get her catering business off the ground, and she’s determined not to let the gruff, arrogant mountain of a man Bullet Whiskey scare her off.

Finlay is everything Bullet has never wanted. She’s afraid of his dog, afraid of motorcycles, and sweet enough to give him cavities, but as she weaves her way into the hearts of everyone around him, he’s powerless to resist her charms. Passion ignites, but trust doesn’t come easily, and when their pasts collide, Bullet finds out the true meaning of protecting those he loves.

“Don’t fuck this up, Bullet, or I swear I’ll make your life a living hell. She’s agreed to work with us for a month, and we need her if we’re going to pull this off. She knows about menus, hiring kitchen staff, and health regulations.”

“She doesn’t belong in a place like this, Dix. She’s not like us.” Finlay looked like a frigging angel with her silky blond hair and innocent blue eyes. It was that innocence that had flipped some switch inside Bullet and made him want tosin her up and protect her at the same time. Fucking Finlay Wilson. The wedding was four weeks ago, and he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since. If she wasn’t starring in his X-rated fantasies, she was flitting about town in those frilly dresses she wore, spreading smiles like fairy dust.

“You didn’t seem to mind that when you hit on her at the wedding.” She arched a brow. “Or did you think I didn’t notice the way you were watching her every move when Bear and Crystal also decided to tie the knot? Sidling up to her every chance you got during the reception, like a puppy chasing a treat?”

Bullet scoffed. He’d been looking at her long before Crystal and Bear’s impromptu proposal and subsequent wedding the day Tru and Gemma got married. “She’s a hot chick. So what? I didn’t want to marry her—just have a little fun.”

“Then you shouldn’t mind seeing her in here for a few hours a day while we pull things together.”

“It’s a mistake, Dixie.” He moved around the bar and stood beside her. “A pretty little thing like her is just asking for trouble in a place like this. Why are you so hung up on hiring Finlay anyway? Did you even check with our club members to see if anyone needed a job?”

“You know, sometimes I forget that you have so much Dad in you, it’s like beating my head against a brick wall.”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“That you’re as hesitant to hire outside the family as he is. That you think if someone’s not in the club or one of us, they can’t do shit.”

“Jed’s working here, isn’t he?”

Bear had recently given up bartending and was now designing motorcycles for the elite Silver-Stone Cycles. For the first time in the history of the bar, they’d been forced to hire outside the family and outside their motorcycle club, the Dark Knights, which was as solid as family. Although Jed Moon, who was not only their new part-time bartender but also worked as an auto mechanic for the shop, was Bear’s new brother-in-law. So technically, he was family. Finlay Wilson was not. Finlay Wilson was trouble waiting to happen.

“Give me a break.” He shook his head. “We always hire family first.”

“Yeah? Well, which of our club members do you think knows how to run a restaurant? Gutter, the home repair expert? Or maybe one of the Bando brothers, who pour concrete for a living? Do you realize Finlay went to one of the best culinary schools in Boston? She’s worked in a restaurant, and she’s run her own catering company for years, and soon she’ll be opening a catering company right here in town.”

He didn’t give a rat’s ass about her credentials. If anything, she was overqualified. But the thought of her flouncing around the bar with a bunch of horny, drunk guys going after her made Bullet’s blood boil. The fact that she was not his to worry about did not escape him. “We’re offering sandwiches and fries, not gourmet meals.”

“Which makes her the perfect person for this job. She knows how to keep costs down, and she’s from Peaceful Harbor. She’s putting down roots here, which means she’ll want to see the business do well—so it doesn’t reflect poorly on her. What do you have against Finlay, anyway?”

Against her? Nothing.” Though he’d like to be buried deep inside her. “But she’ll get eaten alive in a place like this and she’ll go cowering out the door. Then we’ll be left trying to figure shit out anyway. Besides—”

The creak of the front door opening drew their attention. Bullet looked over his shoulder, meeting the innocent blue eyes of the angel peeking in at them.

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AboutTheAuthor

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Melissa writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa’s fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big-family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, Wild Boys and Bad Boys After Dark, and the Montgomerys. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented– perfect beach reads for contemporary romance lovers who enjoy reading about loyal, wealthy heroes and smart, sassy heroines with complex and relatable issues.

Melissa also writes sweet and clean romance under the pen name Addison Cole.

Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on social media or her personal website.

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Review: Ash and Quill (Book #3: The Great Library Series) by Rachel Caine

Ash and Quill

Words can kill.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library…

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Source: Purchase          My Rating: 3½/5 stars

Jess Brightwell has always known trusting his father is a crap shoot at best.  If the reward or payoff is better than his son’s life, the money wins every single time.  The latest bit of betrayal has Jess and his friends locked in a primitive in jail in Philadelphia, the historic home of the Burners.

Trapped in the midst of a starving, desperate group of people who have been battling the Great Library for decades, Jess and his friends may be in deeper than they ever have been.  The Burners have no use for a group of book lovers and a very great need for a bargaining chip.  Or chips in this case.  As the situation stands, Philadelphia is on the verge of collapse and everyone from their leaders to the lowest member of society understands the reality of their situation.  Handing over Jess and his group may buy them not only some time, but their lives. However, before the Burners turn over Jess and his friends, they’re going to get their hands on Thomas’ incredible printing press.

Ever the realist, Jess understands the gravity of the situation in which he and his friends find themselves.  Beyond that, Jess understands he and his friends have very little leverage and if they’re going to get out alive, they are going to have to play dirty, make deals with questionable parties, and pray they aren’t, once again betrayed.  Getting out of Philadelphia isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t without tragedy, but it does happen which leads the group of fugitives, seemingly from the frying pan right into the fire.  In this case, the fire is, once again, Jess’s father.

In the second half of Ash and Quill, Jess and his friends, much depleted, demoralized, and somewhat desperate following their escape from Philadelphia, take refuge with Jess’s family.  While some among the group see the stay as a respite in a safe haven, Jess sees the situation for exactly what it, another prison.  Though Jess doesn’t know his father’s exact plan, he knows there is a plan (a plot if we’re being fair) and it won’t benefit anyone but Jess’s father.  What happens in the days among his family is a rife with tension, plotting, and planning.  Jess has no intention of hurting and/or betraying his friends, but as his father’s plans begin to unfold and become ever clearer, Jess realizes the only way to save everyone he truly cares for is to betray them.  He can only hope, when the smoke clears, his friends will understand his actions and forgive his actions. 

The Bottom Line:  At the end of the day, The Great Library series is still one of my all-time favorites, but this installment isn’t going to be one of my favorites.  To be fair, Ash and Quill is exactly the type of book every series must have.  It’s the mid-point of the series which closes the book on the first half of the series and sets up the plot and action for the second half of the series.  While the first part of this book was necessary to the continuation of the series, it wasn’t particularly interesting and read quite slowly.  Once Jess and his friends break free from the Burners, they are again on the run and fighting for their lives.  The action, drama, and intrigue absolutely pick up in the second half of this book and set the stage for the final one (or two?) books in the series.  As always, nothing is as it seems and the last one (or two?) books in this series should be absolutely stunning in its (their?) action, drama, intrigue, revelations, and resolution.  The world of the Great Library is on the precipice of huge change, world-altering change, and I believe Jess and his friends are going to be at the forefront of the whole damn mess.

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About the author and where to find her:

Stacks Image 13636Rachel Caine’s rich, diverse bibliography of more than 45 books in print covers many categories and genres. She started out writing horror and fantasy as Roxanne Longstreet (Stormriders, The Undead, Red Angel, Cold Kiss, Slow Burn) before switching to the name Roxanne Conrad and publishing romantic suspense and mystery (Copper Moon, Bridge of Shadows, Exile). By 2003, she began to publish under her current pseudonym, specializing in urban fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal young adult fiction.   She has been writing original fiction since the age of fourteen, and professionally published since 1991. She graduated from Socorro High School in El Paso Texas (where she was a UIL all-state champion in music and journalism) and went on to earn an accounting degree from Texas Tech University. She played professionally as a musician for several years once out of college, but ultimately gave up the music for writing.  She’s had a varied “day job” career, including web design, graphic arts, accounting, payroll management, insurance investigation, and (most recently) corporate communications and crisis management. (It all counts as research.)  Rachel loves reading, writing, and mild amounts of arithmetic when required … but she has a special place in her heart for history, music, and science, and you’ll find those themes in many of her works.   A full bibliography and press kit is available here as a PDF. (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

**All information in this section and the image are from the author’s website**

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email: rachelcainewriter@gmail.com

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