Dead women are showing up in the desert east of San Diego, and no one understands why. When the story comes to the attention of reporter Natalie Ellis, she can’t help but make comparisons to tragic deaths she’d investigated years ago. Are these women the victims of a serial killer, or something even more insidious?
Bodies may be piling up in his sire’s territory, but water vampire and feared enforcer Baojia is stuck entertaining the rich and clueless at a club in San Diego. He’s taken his exile with all the grace he could muster, but his patience is starting to thin.
Sparks fly when mortal and immortal are thrown together, and Natalie comes face to face with a reality that was lurking in the corners of her life. Pursuing the truth could cost Baojia everything, including the mortal woman who has earned his grudging respect.
Blood and Sand is the second novel in the expanded Elemental World series.
One word: Ireadthisintwosittingsandcan’tcrappin’believehowdamngoodthisbookis! Seriously, that’s just one word and every bit of it is true 🙂 Yet again, Elizabeth Hunter comes out swinging and delivers yet another fantastic Elemental World read.
Here’s the skinny: Baojia is still stuck in San Diego continuing to serve out the “sentence” meted out by his “father” Don Ernesto Alvaraz for “allowing” Beatrice de Novo (Don Ernesto’s great grand-daughter and Gio’s wife) to be hurt. To say Baojia’s skills are being wasted doesn’t even come close and he is bored with life in oblivion. In fact, the days (or rather nights J) have gotten so mind-numbingly boring that Baojia is considering taking his life in his hands and presenting himself to Don Ernesto to ask for a reduced sentence. Lucky for Baojia, the boredom is about to be lifted and the sweet release comes in the form of a saucy and sexy little redhead by the name of Natalie Ellis.
Here’s the skinny: Natalie Ellis is a no-nonsense kind of girl with a rabid need for the truth and very little sense of self-preservation. Natalie is an investigative reporter and once she has her sights set on a story there is nothing that is going to stop her from uncovering and reporting the truth. The night she walks into Baojia’s club and starts asking questions alters the course of not only Natalie’s life but that of Baojia’s as well.
Here’s the skinny: There are girls dying in the desert at an alarming rate and no one seems to know how they died or who is leaving the victims. Typical of Natalie, she begins poking around and asking questions that will get her answers just as fast as they will get her dead. In order to protect Natalie, Baojia takes her under his personal protection and makes his way to Don Ernesto to discuss the little murder by vampire problem they seem to be having in their territory. All kinds of hell breaks loose and Baojia and Natalie find themselves in the middle of a vampire shit-storm they are hoping can be calmed before they end up dead.
As with all of Elizabeth Hunter’s books, I fell into Blood and Sand like I fall into step with my husband of fifteen years. Everything is comfortable, interesting, suspenseful, a bit naughty, and just flat-out good! Natalie is smart, funny and like a dog with a bone where her need for answers is concerned while Baojia is tall, dark, fangy, and hot and only interested in keeping the fiery redhead safe and by his side! Along with these two are some old friends including Gio and B, Dez and Matt, Carwyn and Brigid and, Ben and Tenzin. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE TENZIN??? These characters are like old friends for me and I am so glad to see how large a role they are playing in the expanded version of Hunter’s Elemental World. Furthermore, not only does Blood and Sand have its own specific plot but its plot ties into the larger series plot about Elixir and how the drug is destroying both humans and vampires. Everything comes together flawlessly for a fast-paced, can’t put this book down read!
The Bottom Line: I have no idea (nor do I care to know!) how Elizabeth Hunter works her magic but with every new book I am completely taken in and consumed by what she has written. Blood and Sand hits all the pertinent points for me: interesting short-term plot (check); the long-term plot line is advanced (check); solid, dependable, familiar and fun characters whom I love (check) and; excellent, witty and fun dialogue which carries the story (check). I know I am gushing but this is a series and author I am passionate about and highly, highly recommend this book (and every other Elemental book by Hunter) to all fans of the paranormal, mystery, suspense and romance. It’s all here for every NA+ reader.
AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.
She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Three: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.
Or so she thinks.
That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Three. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued.
But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.
…Which means digging deeper.
When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, it may make her wonder if she was better off being a government tool than searching for freedom.
Some secrets are better left concealed, but humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.
Megan began her journey into writing as a college junior during winter finals at the encouragement of a friend. What resulted was Bridger, Megan’s first full-length novel. Since then she has written the second book in the series, Traitor, and a stand-alone novel (which will hopefully become a series!) called The Guardian Chronicles: Forbidden.
When not writing, Megan enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and Great Dane, aptly named Dozer. She enjoys snowboarding, playing xBox, and crocheting. Music is a huge part of her life and drives her writing. Her favorite bands are Muse, Bon Iver, Florence + the Machine, and The Civil Wars.
Determined to overcome a dark and tragic past, college student Everly Wallace is only months away from earning her degree in physical therapy. She’s consumed with school, caring for her ailing grandfather, and figuring out how to pay the next bill. The last thing she wants is a relationship, but it just might be the one thing she needs.
Major League pitcher Cole Parker hasn’t fought for anything in his life. He went from a privileged upbringing to a multimillion dollar All-Star career. But when his pitching shoulder starts to give him trouble at only twenty-four years old, he faces the possibility of his injury becoming public knowledge and costing him everything.
In a desperate bid to save his career, Cole decides to hire someone to treat his injury, someone who will keep things off the record and out of the media. He finds the perfect solution in Everly. As mysterious as she is beautiful, she provides an enticing distraction from his pain. Soon, physical therapy is the last thing on his mind.
When an act of betrayal brings the truths they both fear to light, Cole will have to fight for the first time in his life…not just for his career, but for Everly’s love.
Thirty minutes later, she finally arrived at the restaurant. Between traffic and the unfamiliar area of town, it took her longer than she expected to get there. She thought she had given herself extra time, but she was still five minutes late. When she pulled up, she found herself at a valet stand. Rolling down her window, she flagged the valet who eyed her car as though it had just broken down at his feet. He approached with notable reluctance.
Waving at the twenty-dollar valet fee posted on a nearby folding sign, she asked, “Is there self-parking?”
“No, ma’am,” he replied stiffly.
She swallowed and nodded, getting out of her car so he could park it. She only had twenty dollars in cash, and she had intended to pay for her lunch with it. She knew the bank account was low until she got paid again on Friday, but she’d have to risk debiting her meal. Why hadn’t she thought to set some parameters when Cole suggested the restaurant?
Her headache ballooned as she hurried through the front door of the restaurant and looked around without spotting Cole. Frowning, she approached the maître d.
“Miss Wallace?” he greeted her.
Surprised, she nodded.
“Welcome. Mr. Parker is waiting at your table. It would be my pleasure to escort you there. May I take your coat?”
Damn. She probably couldn’t even afford the free bread at this place.
Giving the maître d a wan smile, she shrugged out of her coat, putting her gloves in the pockets and wrapping her scarf around one of her purse straps. She was sure she was imagining it, but she swore the maître d held her Target-brand garment a few inches away from his body as he turned to hand it off to whoever guarded the coat room.
Shifting uncomfortably when he gave her a quick once-over and lingered disapprovingly on her jeans, she took a deep breath and followed him into the dining room. There wasn’t anything she could do about how she was dressed, was there?
Lord, what a hot mess this was.
As she spotted Cole across the dining room at a table with a beautiful view of the outside terrace, another thought occurred to her. How should she greet him? Should she shake his hand since this was a business meeting? Go in for the awkward hug since she was good friends with his brother?
Bow because he looked like a god in his simple black V-neck sweater and gray pants?
She caught his gaze when she was still about ten feet from the table. A variety of expressions crossed his features, so many that she couldn’t read them all. She definitely caught irritation, though, and was puzzled when he ended up smiling.
He stood up. The maître d deposited her with a slight bow, so she ruled out that form of greeting. Then it was just her and Cole.
“Hello, Everly,” he said, his voice as smooth as a buttered biscuit.
Had that been her voice that came out all breathy? She prayed it hadn’t sounded as ridiculous as she thought.
She started to lift her right hand for a shake, then realized he was tilting in for the awkward hug. To avoid hitting him in the crotch, she adjusted her trajectory. He smoothly used his left hand to continue her forward motion so that her hand ended up encircling his neck.
Then before she knew what was happening, her lips were pressed against his.
Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of a series of YA Fantasy/Romance novels about the Estilorian plane, including the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy and the Firstborn Trilogy, and a New Adult Contemporary Romance, For Everly. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of America and is a contributing blogger to The Writer’s Voice. When she isn’t planning weddings, writing, or glued to social networking sites, she can usually be found on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches with her husband and daughter or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.
The author is hosting a Release Giveaway of (2) signed paperbacks of For Everly, a custom For Everly inspired bracelet worth $35, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card. This is open to the U.S. and Canada. Just click the cute little ‘copter below for your chance to enter to win 🙂
It is 1535 and in the tumultuous years of King Henry VIII’s break from Rome, the religious houses of England are being seized by force. Twenty-year-old Catherine Havens is a foundling and the adopted daughter of the prioress of the Priory of Mount Grace in a small Yorkshire village. Catherine, like her adoptive mother, has a gift for healing, and she is widely sought and admired for her knowledge.
Catherine’s hopes for a place at court have been dashed by the king’s divorce, and she has reluctantly taken the veil. In the remote North, the nuns enjoy the freedoms unavailable to other women. England is their home, but the times have changed, and now the few remaining nuns dread the arrival of the priory’s new owner, Robert Overton. When the priory’s costly altarpiece goes missing, Catherine and her friend Ann Smith find themselves under increased suspicion.
Only the illness of Robert’s brother, William, preserves the nuns from immediate expulsion and arrest. Catherine heals him, and when she undertakes a quest across England, he offers to accompany her and Ann. They visit the deposed queen, and during their journey to uncover the truth, Catherine begins to doubt her church and her God. She finds herself drawn to William, even though he has spoken his oath to the crown and serves her greatest enemy.
King Henry VIII’s soldiers have not had their fill of destruction, and when they return to Mount Grace to destroy the priory, Catherine must choose between the sacred calling of her past and the man who may represent her country’s future.
I dove into Sarah Kennedys’ The Altarpiece with all kinds of enthusiasm; this is a book that should have been tailor-made for an art historian with a passion for the period. Sadly, for this art historian with a passion for the period, this book fell short of my expectations.
The Altarpiece opens in 1535 at Mount Grace Priory in England where the good sisters in residence have been told that Henry Tudor’s reforms are shutting them down. Furthermore, each and every one among them must make a vow to disavow the old ways, Rome, and fall in line with the new faith as determined by Henry Tudor. Oh, and they get to accept the new heir to the throne, Elizabeth and turn over anything and everything of value in their beloved priory to the crown. For some among the sisters, the choice to leave behind the priory is an easy one as they like their lives far more than anything else. For Ann, Veronica, Christina and Catherine, the choice is far, far harder and among the four, they vow to protect that which is theirs and what they believe in no matter the cost.
Christina is the aged Prioress of Mount Grace and the most vocal of the four; Veronica is also an aged member of the group and likely the most devout among them; Ann is a feisty bird who is absolutely devout yet also rather worldly despite having been in the priory for years and finally, there is Catherine, the youngest of the group and the one all turn to for healing when the need arises. Though they don’t always see eye-to-eye, the women care for one another and want only to be left alone to continue on as they always have, caring for their priory and the people of the village they live in. As we all know, there was no place for the Catholic houses in Henry Tudors’ England and the wolves were soon gathering at the door.
Of chief importance, the women of Mount Grace want to protect their beloved altarpiece, a work depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary and her son. Unfortunately, the altarpiece has gone missing and the women have no idea where it has gone to. The missing altarpiece is a grave misstep and as Henry Tudors’ men begin to ride into the village the problems mount for the sisters. There is a strange death in the village and a local man is both accused of the death and suspiciously missing, smallpox has come to the village frightening everyone and Catherine’s skills are both called upon and called into question. In order to clear her name and that of several others, young Catherine, Ann, and two male companions must journey beyond their small village and embark on an adventure none of them could have ever imagined. Not only is their adventure full of intrigue and answers but it is also a time when Catherine must come to grips with the fact that her way of life, her only life really, is coming to an end and she must make a dreadful decision that may change the entire course of her life.
The Bottom Line: Sarah Kennedy’s The Altarpiece is a title that I desperately wanted to like far, far more than I did and never once did I consider DNFing this book. However, I found both the characters and the plot problematic. As to the characters: with exception of Ann and Catherine, I found it difficult to care about the characters – it was incredibly difficult to connect to any of them. For example, Christina is stubborn and arrogant to the point that she literally gets herself and many of her sisters killed; the Overton twins are simply repulsive and most of the men with the exception of a few met a well-deserved end. As to the plot: I often found myself feeling as if I were running in circles as well as being lost in repetition – Christina and her complaints being the most repetitious. To be fair, there were a few moments that did surprise and please me but those moments were too few and far between for my liking. I never DNFed this title because I felt at any moment it was going to become the book I hoped and truly felt it could be.
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.
Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.
Then Eli’s dream comes true.
Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.
Dusty is just like every other sixteen-year-old girl with one glaring exception: she is a Nightmare. Not the “Oh, she is a nightmare to be friends with!” kind of way but in the come into you room in the middle of the night, sit on your chest and feed off your dreams kind of way. Being a half-breed (mortal dad and Nightmare mother) Dusty didn’t come into her powers until a few months ago and she is slowly getting the hang of this whole feeding off dreams deal. She’s even learning to adjust to life at her new school, Arkwell Academy, a place for those like Dusty with magical abilities.
A few times every couple of weeks Dusty leaves Arkwell to satisfy her Nightmare need for dreams and while she is still getting the hang of things she knows something has gone horribly wrong the night she tries to feed from Eli Booker – total hotty from her old high school and the one person her magic does not work on. WTH?? Even more problematic is what Dusty and Eli saw in Eli’s dream, an Arkwell student found dead on school grounds with no suspect in sight. Within a few days’ time, everything is turned upside down and sideways with Eli now enrolled at Arkwell, Dusty told she is a very, very rare dream-seer, Eli is her one and only dream-seeing partner and, the two of them together must help the powers that be determine who killed an Arkwell student. No pressure there, right?
Eli and Dusty, not surprisingly have a hard time getting into synch with one another. Eli is angry about being yanked out of his old life and Dusty is more than a little uncomfortable with feeding from a guy she has the hots for. Both however realize their mission is important and try to make the best of a hard situation. Also thrown into the mix are Dusty’s super-awesome roommate (and Siren!!) Selene, the nerdy and non-magical library guy with a crush on Dusty, Paul and, Dusty’s often absent and totally infamous mom, Moira. As events begin to unfold and more bodies begin to show up, Dusty and her crew realize they are in way over their heads but that they may be the only ones capable of stopping a vicious killer.
The Nightmare Affair is driven by its cast of characters and each has his/her own unique voice, qualities, and flaws. Dusty is an absolute favorite and though her stubbornness often gets her into more trouble than is strictly necessary, she is still worth routing for. Eli is all kinds of pretty and determined to make the most of his situation – he may not be able to wield magic but his dad is a detective and he has learned a lot from his old man. Selene and Moira are two characters I want a lot more of!! Selene is gorgeous (but hides it!), generally fearless and intelligent while Moira is a well-known and totally unapologetic rule-breaker who seems to dislike everyone, including her own daughter. In the long haul, I think these two females have the ability and personalities to really take over the Nightmare series. For the record, I am OK with that!
The Bottom Line: I tried starting this book several times and had a hard time getting into it which leads me to my only reservation about this read: the first couple of chapters are a little hard to get through but once you do, the ride is well worth the slightly difficult beginning. Once I got into this book it was a smooth and easy read with lots of twists and turns and some really cool twists on some fun myths and legends. I had a hard time putting this one down once it got rolling 🙂 I will admit to having seen one of the badies coming from a mile away but not the super-big baddy and how the whole plot would eventually unfold. Every twist and turn leads to a dramatic finish with the group, Selene, Eli and, Dusty working together to catch a killer. Overall, I am glad I got over myself and gave The Nightmare Affair a fair shot. I feel good and confident in recommending this read to all YA+ readers and lovers of the paranormal.
The sparks of dislike burn hot, but the sparks of mutual attraction burn even hotter.
Ever Montgomery suffered the ultimate betrayal by the one man who she should have been able to count on for anything. It has left her hurt, jaded and incapable of forming relationships, but it also means that she can spot a liar a mile away. These traits are earning her a reputation as a reporter with a keen nose for a good story and a complete understanding of the extreme power of the written word.
Lincoln Caldwell, is the hot goalie for the New York Rangers. At twenty-four and a rising star, he works hard and he plays even harder. He’s gorgeous and carefree—the ultimate charmer. Ladies fall at his feet and the single life has never been lived the way Linc Caldwell does it.
When Ever publishes an article about Linc containing information that she received off the record, she finds herself on the receiving end of the athelete’s fury. Rather than basking in the glory of exposing Linc as a shameless user of women, she finds herself at his mercy when he demands and receives retribution. Required by her editor to trail Linc for six weeks, Ever is forced to look at the real Linc Caldwell.
And she just might find that she has misjudged him.
Sawyer Bennett is the pen name for a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. She is married to a mobster (well, a market researcher) and they have two big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weakness but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.
Life doesn’t look like it’s supposed to for Dani Ruiz, a hopeless romantic. After a painful and sudden break-up with Rick Marin—who she thought was the One—Dani hides away from reality, retreating to a world of fiction, preferring book boyfriends over the hassles of a relationship.
After almost two years of watching Dani in a holding pattern, her friends stage an intervention and force her back into the real world of dating.
Unexpectedly, Dani meets Liam Lucas, a down-to-earth firefighter. He might be the person to show her she’s still worth something. Dani’s hesitant to trust her heart with another man, but their instant and electric chemistry is something she can’t deny.
As Dani starts to believe that she’s found her real-life book boyfriend, Rick decides that he’ll go to any lengths to get her back. Seeing Rick as a changed man makes Dani question everything.
Can Dani trust her patched-up heart with Liam?
Or has Rick transformed into the man she’s always wanted?
Told from various points of views, The Do Over is a story of second chances and new beginnings.
Looking over at her again, I noticed she wasn’t showing any interest in this part of the class. It was my job to make sure that every student was properly trained in advanced life support. I owed it to her to engage her in this class activity.
“Ms. Ruiz,” I called, waving for her to come up to the front.
She straightened up, like she was startled. Shit, I hope I didn’t freak her out.
After she sauntered to the front of the class, she got into position. Clearly, she knew what she was doing, but that didn’t stop me from assisting her. I didn’t know what had possessed me. I was drawn to her. I stood behind her as she placed her hands on the dummy. She was the perfect height. I could’ve easily rested my chin on her head. I reached over, almost leaning into her. I laid my hands over hers as we pushed down on the dummy.
Making sure she applied the correct pressure, I said in a hushed voice, “Make sure it’s deep, hard, and steady. Yeah, that’s right. You’re doing it perfectly.”
A.L. Zaun graduated from Florida International University with a degree in English Literature a long time ago. A degree she didn’t use at all in her professional endeavors. She loves to read, write and take pictures. She walks around with her camera, and most importantly she has her e-reader available at all times. Healthcare Management by day, Mommy in the evening and most nights, you can find her sitting in front of her laptop with a bottle of Diet Pepsi, bringing the voices in her head to life on the pages of her debut novel, The Do Over.
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