Review: How to Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreiling

Series: n/a? (How to Seduce a Soundrel to be released July 1)
Genres/Themes: historical romance, romantic contest

Quick Take:
Though it sports a bit of an over-the-top premise, this story is charming and delivers a fair share of satisfaction. Plenty of amusement can be found for those who enjoy a contemporary-spirited wild romp in Regency English society.
Book Description (via Goodreads): Tristan, the Duke of Shelbourne is a man with a mission: find a wife he can tolerate as long as they both shall live. Love is not necessary--nor desired. But how to choose among a dizzying array of wealthy-yet-witless candidates? Hire London's infamously prim and proper matchmaker. Then pretend she's not the most captivating woman he's ever met...
Helping a devilish Duke create a contest to pick his perfect mate is the kind of challenge Tessa Mansfield relishes. Her methods may be scandalous, but she's determined to find the notorious bachelor more than a wife--she'll bring him true love. Yet when Tessa watches the women vie for the Duke's affections, she longs to win his heart herself. And after a stolen kiss confirms Tristan's desire, Tessa knows she has broken a matchmaker's number one rule: never fall in love with the groom.
Review:
The Bachelor…Regency Edition? :o) This story, set in 1816 London, presents the expected spread of dashing gents and chirpy ladies of the ton. There are balls and jaunts to the English countryside, as well as glimpses into gentlemen’s clubs. But although How to Marry a Duke is an historical romance, it absolutely has the soul of a contemporary romance.

I don’t think anyone can argue that the premise of this book isn’t at least a little bit silly. But that element is not necessarily a wholly bad thing. Sure, some of the antics are beyond the range of what one might consider plausible, even in historical chick lit. But it's a whole lot of fun. And extremely sweet; this book is absolutely full of "aww" moments. ^_^

Indeed, I kept my eyes glued to the page specifically due to the two mains.  It was particularly enjoyable to spend time in their heads and see the reasoning behind their interactions with the other people around them, including (most especially) each other. In fact, this is most definitely a "character book," in that the author takes particular care fleshing out her cast. I greatly appreciate a good character book, 

I must say, I’m not the hugest fan of plot devices that involve holding a secret over the reader’s head—one that’s common knowledge to the characters themselves—to create a somewhat false sense of mystery and suspense. I won't divulge any details (gotta stay spoiler free), but the occurrence was a bit annoying, particularly since the rest of the plot was fairly But hey. Thasjusme. ^_^

All told, I quite enjoyed this fun--dare I say delightfully "frothy"?--book. I'd certainly recommend it to fans who enjoy both historicals and contemporaries…and caution those readers who prefer their historicals to be more…well, historical.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
"I liked it!"

Guest Post: Author Gabrielle Bisset

Today at MNtR, I'm proud to welcome author Gabrielle Bisset for a vampified guest post! When I first saw the cover of her book Vampire Dreams and read its synopsis, I knew I absolutely had to read the story. Having since done so--and having enjoyed the experience exceedingly--I'm so excited and pleased that Ms. Bisset is able to visit! This time, she brings along her two main characters from Vampire Dreams for an amusing, enlightening and charming interview. Enjoy!

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Thank you Alisha for having me at My Need To Read. With me are Brandon and Arden, one a vampire for centuries and the other a newly sired vampire.

Gabrielle: Thanks for joining me today, you two.

Brandon: It’s our pleasure, Gabrielle, isn’t it dear? (turns to Arden.)

Arden: Yes, thank you for inviting us! It’s so nice to sit with you again, Gabrielle.

Gabrielle: How has life been since you turned Arden, Brandon?

Brandon: (brings Arden’s hand to his lips.) Every day is like I never believed it could be. I can’t thank you enough for bringing us together.

Gabrielle: You’re very welcome.

Arden: Is it true that you first saw us in a dream? That sounds so romantic! (giggles)

Gabrielle: Yes. I dreamed the entire first scene where you’re being chased and Brandon saves you. Amazing what dreams can become, don’t you think?

Brandon: That’s fascinating. And why do you think you dreamed of us?

Gabrielle: I don’t know, Brandon. I remember it was a Wednesday night and I had just finished watching The Tudors. That’s where your name came from, incidentally.

Brandon: From one of the Tudors? Was it that corpulent Henry Tudor? Henry VIII? (looks down at himself) I look nothing like him, thankfully.

Gabrielle: No, your name came from another character on that show, Charles Brandon. Let’s just say I have an adult crush on the actor who plays that character. (shows them a picture on her phone)

Arden: Ooooooh! He’s very handsome, Gabrielle. But my Brandon is better. (turns to Brandon, who seems unimpressed by the picture on the phone, and kisses him on the cheek)

Brandon: So I can thank this person for you bringing us together? (one eyebrow cocks suspiciously)

Gabrielle: Well, yes, I guess you can. Let’s just say he inspired me. Arden, how has life been since you’ve become a vampire?

Arden: It took some getting used to, but now the sleeping during the day is second nature to me. And every evening when I awake, Brandon is right there next to me. I couldn’t be happier!

Gabrielle: I’m so happy for both of you. And what about Vasilije? Have you heard from him lately?

Brandon: (scowling) No, but I know he’s never far away. As my sire, he’s connected to me through blood, just as I am to Arden.

Arden: He’s so touchy about Vasilije, Gabrielle. I just think of him as something like my uncle...an uncle who is manipulative and dangerous, of course. He’s like the family member you hope won’t come to visit, but you know eventually, he will.

Brandon: Vasilije’s problem is that he’s a hedonist. Everything is pleasure for him. (Arden takes his hand in hers and squeezes.) Sorry, but I don’t think there have ever been two vampires more different than he and I.

Gabrielle: I understand.

Arden: I think Brandon understates how much he loves pleasure, Gabrielle. (winks)

Brandon: I only take pleasure in you, my love. For me, there is no one else. (takes Arden’s face in his hands and kisses her)

Gabrielle: I’m so happy to see that you’re still in the honeymoon phase of your relationship. I hope it stays that way forever.

Arden: You don’t plan to write a sequel where we break up, do you?

Gabrielle: No, you don’t have to worry about that. The other two novellas in the trilogy Vampire Dreams will appear in will involve other men and women from the Victorian Period. One involves a couple and some light BDSM—that’s entitled Love’s Master—and the last one involves a young woman and a Russian diplomat—that story is entitled Masquerade.

Arden: BDSM?

Gabrielle: (grinning) That’s for another time. For now, thank you for sitting down with me today, and I hope you remain as happy for all time as you are right now.

Brandon: Thank you, Gabrielle. You will always be our favorite author. And our favorite matchmaker.

Gabrielle: Thanks guys. And for readers who want to know more about Brandon, Arden, and Vasilije, here is the beginning scene I dreamed from their novella, Vampire Dreams:

Excerpt:
     She could hear his feet as each one solidly hit the ground behind her. His stride much longer than hers, he was coming closer with each step.
      If he caught her...
     The pounding of her heart hammered in her ears as the blood pushed faster and faster through her body. Up ahead, she saw a door ajar in a rundown building. If it was empty, she might be able to hide and hopefully escape from the pain of what awaited her if he captured her.
    She slipped through the doorway, but her cape caught on the doorknob, costing her precious moments. As she worked to free herself, she heard his footsteps slow down to a walk, a sign he was as sure as she he’d won.
    Free to run once more, she turned and ran headlong into the chest of a man who stood silently watching her.
   “Please save me! He’s coming for me!”
    Without a word, the man took her by the arm and led her to a table near the far wall. With his hands on her shoulders, he hesitated a moment and then spun her around.
     His voice deep, he said, “Place your hands on the table and bend over.”
    Unsure if she’d chosen a fate as horrific as the one she’d fled from, she did as she’d been told and waited in terror for what was to come.
    The noise of her stalker entering the building caused her to turn her head, but the voice behind her sternly warned, “Face forward.”
     She felt hands lift her cloak and skirts, allowing the cool night air to hit the bare skin of her thighs. The feeling at once thrilled and shocked her, and she instinctively stood up to cover herself.
    The man behind her forcibly pushed her back toward the table and leaned over her to whisper low in her ear, “Trust me,” as he pushed his body firmly against her backside.
    “Hey you! Where’s the girl who came in here?”
    With his hands on her hips, the man who gave her no choice but to trust him pushed his hips toward hers and thrust toward her still clothed body to simulate sex, complete with throaty groans.
    “Hey! I asked you about the girl who came in here!”
    Never looking back, Arden squeezed her eyes closed and waited for the attack she feared. Instead, she heard the man whose body continued to meet hers bark, “Go away! This whore’s mine!”
    Indignant at the use of the word whore to refer to her, she started to push herself up but his hand held her by the neck and forced her to remain still on the table. A sound like a hiss came from her protector and the other man hurriedly ran out of the building.

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...whew! That's some dream. Many thanks to Gabrielle Bisset, Brandon, and Arden. It was lovely seeing the two vampire lovebirds again. ^_^ If you want to found out more about their tale, you can find Vampire Dreams at Amazon, All Romance eBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.


For more on Gabrielle Bisset, visit her blog at http://gbisset.blogspot.com/ or email her at gabriellebisset (at) gmail (dot) com.


Today's post is part of the Bewitching Book Tours current tour for Vampire Dreams. For more info on the other participating blogs and their tour stops, visit BBT's site (here).

Review: Vampire Dreams by Gabrielle Bisset

Series: (unnamed trilogy)
Genres/Themes: historical romance, vampires, novella
Author: Gabrielle Bisset
Excerpt: (here)

Quick Take:
With sweet characters, satisfying action sequences and easily accesible language, this book is certainly please vampire- and PnR fans. A quick and dirty read, both literally and figuratively. ^_^

Book Description (via Goodreads): 
     Homeless and without any family, Arden Stephens must live on the streets of mid 19th century London, never a safe place for a young woman. One night, as she is running for her life from an attacker, she is rescued by Brandon Ridley and offered a place in his home as his maid. Brandon is enchanted by Arden from the moment they meet, but just as she has secrets, so too does he. A vampire hundreds of years old, he yearns for the companionship she can give him. But for that he must make her one of his kind.
     Nightly, he visits her in her sleep, preparing her for the night he will finally make her his own. For Arden, the wanton dreams she has about her handsome employer seduce her and each day when she wakes up, she finds herself more drawn to him. But love and desire aren't enough for Brandon to sire her. He must first obtain the approval of his maker, an ancient vampire named Vasilije who has thwarted his chance for happiness before.
Review:
This novella by Gabrielle Bisset is nothing if not straight to the point. :o) The story gets down to business immediately, putting the two romantic leads in each others' paths and keeping them there for the duration of the tale. Given the shorter length (and thus quicker speed in plot development), the book reads quite like a fairy tale, or perhaps a naughty bedtime story; it's light on the expository details and only covers the storytelling essentials, but packs in a lot of heat and sweet romance.

And oh, what heat! There are some super hot scenes contained within this novella. I was pleased to find that their frequency and tone seemed to fit in nicely with the rest of the story; no encounters for their own sake or love scenes out of sync with the plot. (I will note that the book some under-the-mystical-influence encounters...I doubt it'll be a problem for most...but who knows, maybe someone will want a heads-up on that sort of thing.)

A very small part of me wishes the characters and the romance were fleshed out a bit more, particularly given that the main characters seem to "develop" feelings in a flash and in a place where the reader can't follow (that place being "between the lines" ^_^). But as it is, both still satisfy, as long as one doesn't mind the fast sequence of strong emotion.

The language was very clear and accessible, and I felt like the dialogue had just the right touch of period elegance. I found the action sequences (of the fighting/fleeing kind) exciting and engaging. The tone of the scenes throughout the book shifted and changed, but did so smoothy.

I quite enjoyed this quick cup of hot, steamy lovin'. ^_^ I'm very much looking forward to the next two books in the series; fortunately, the wait for the next release in the trilogy will be over by mid-July. Woop!

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
"I liked it!"



Today's review is part of the Bewitching Book Tours  current tour for Vampire Dreams. For more info on the other participating blogs and their tour stops, visit BBT's site (here).

Review: Gotta Love a Cowboy by Sandy Sullivan

Series: Want Ads, #1
Genres/Themes: contemporary romance, cowboy, broken hearts mend

Quick Take:
An easy read, full of plenty of heat. Perhaps not a groundbreaking book, but the story has elements—such as the likeable characters and a comfortable setting—that make it a sweet and charming romance.

Book Description (via Goodreads):
Ann Marie needs a horse trainer to ready her prized stallion to run for the money. When hunky horseman Travis Brooks answers her ad, she knows he’s the man for the job. But is she willing to let go of her husband’s memory and open up her heart to Travis?
Travis Brooks knows horses. But women? He can take ‘em or leave ‘em—mostly leave ‘em—especially since his divorce. Ann Marie pushes all his buttons and he’s not quite sure what to do with her. Can a stubborn horseman and one feisty rancher find love in the heat of the Texas Plains?


Review:
So, this has been my first time reading a book in the sub-genre of contemporary cowboy/cowgirl-centered romance. And I must say, I had no idea cowboys could be so flippin´ awesome (read: steamin´) as romantic leads. Yum!

Gotta Love a Cowboy is by-and-large an easy read, the kind that one can finish in no time flat—not because of length, but because the premise is delightfully simple and the story is straightforward. The scope of the tale is pretty much limited to the goings-on of the fictional Double S Ranch. Likewise, the cast is very small, including only four individuals for the majority of the plot. This focus lends itself to a cozy, comfortable feel, furthering that aforementioned ease of reading.

The hero and heroine, Travis Brooks and Anne Marie Skolack, are very likeable protagonists. Together, they positively scorched the page. But each was still individually compelling, with background stories and life situations that endeared them to me quite a bit. I´m very much a character-focused reader, and I felt that the author developed them quite nicely.

There were a number of fits and stops in the progression of the plot. Days or weeks would often pass over the span of a paragraph, with a short description of some of the activities that took place over the time frame. It´s not really a big deal in terms of understanding of the story´s events, but it´s perhaps still worth a heads-up.

I was not the biggest fan of what felt to me like a swift change in tone and character actions. In particular, I didn´t quite get some of the behavioral leaps made by Travis. And the story went from intriguing romantic dilemma to gooey love fest in the blink of an eye.  I´m all about HEAs and people falling for each other, but there´s still something to be said for believability and . When characters suddenly—and I mean suddenly--begin to behave in a manner so unlike what they´ve been developed as, and when plot threads that took an entire book length to be developed are resolved with a few sentences, it takes some of the steam out of one´s enjoyment. It did that for my enjoyment, at least.

All told, this is indeed a sweet tale. I´m glad I read it, and will certainly be checking out some of the author´s works in the future, particularly those in this series.


Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
"I liked it!"

This has been a tour stop for Book Lovin' Bitches eBook Tours.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours and a copy was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely mine and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Interview with Author Jennifer Turner

 

Today I'm super-mega (yeah, I said super-mega ^_^) excited to welcome author Jennifer Turner for an interview about her series of paranormal romance books, Darkness Within. The latest installment, Eternal Hearts, was recently released and continues a look into the cut-throat world (pun intended) of vampire hierarchy...including the challenges inherent in finding undead love. ^_^ Ms. Turner is gracious in answering the most burning questions I had about her engaging and unique stories. So without further ado...welcome to MNtR, Ms. Turner!
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My Need to Read: Logan Ellis, the lead of the first book in the series (Eternal Seduction), begins her tale a very unique sort of heroine….drug-addicted, homeless, hopeless. How did you come to find her as a main character?

Jennifer Turner: The idea for Logan actually came to me while I was standing in the bookstore. I kept picking up book after book where the beautiful heroine had a high paying job/fancy house/college education, and I wondered what would happen if a heroine didn’t have any of those things. I wondered, what if she didn’t have a job, or a high school diploma…or even a home? Then I wondered, what if she isn’t what most people would consider pretty? What if, since she lives on the streets, she isn’t able to shower regularly and is really skinny because she isn’t eating the way she should be? Believe it or not, a lot of my ideas actually come from a good “What if?” session. And that’s exactly how Logan was born. :)

MNtR: The second and most recent book in the series, Eternal Hearts, follows Drake Black, who will be familiar to those who've read book 1. He's a pretty imposing figure at first blush, but is also pretty bruised, and torn in different directions. The stuff excellent pathos is made of. :o) Was crafting his story a difficult task?

JT: To be honest, crafting Drake’s portion of the story wasn’t difficult at all. He’s always been a very strong character in my mind, and has never really had any trouble leading me to what he wants/needs. However, connecting him to Toni definitely had its difficult moments here and there. I knew before I even started writing the story that Drake & Toni were one of those couples that were just meant to be together…but I wasn’t completely sold on Toni’s ability to reconcile her past and Drake’s part in it until the scene actually played out in the book. And I think one of the most difficult but also most endearing of Drake’s qualities is how he chose to apologize to Toni in the end. He has such a unique outlook on the world that there’s almost a tangible vulnerability to his honesty…and even though it’s a difficult aspect of his personality to write, I just love it! :) 

MNtR: As you continue to craft the path of the Darkness Within series, do you have a sense of how the each of the stories will progress ahead of time? Or does each book find life and direction as you work on the individual installment?

JT: I have an idea of where the series as a whole needs to go, and how each book in the series should start and end…but aside from that I usually don’t have any idea of how I’m going to get there. :) I’m really bad at plotting/planning, so I pretty much start with the main characters for each book and let them lead the way. Sometimes they go where I thought they would, but other times they run off in weird directions that I never expected. But I think that’s one of the best parts of having so many different characters. Not knowing where the characters are going to take me is what keeps me writing! ;)   

MNtR: On your website, you've got an awesomely detailed tree of characters to populate your world. Is there any particular character whose story you're most excited to tell?

JT: Well, I’m really excited about the next book, Eternal Embrace (book 3), which is Oktober’s story…because Oktober might just be the most unapologetic character I’ve ever written. :) He is what he is without fail or remorse, and I just love the dark edge he can add to even the simplest situations. And then, of course, there’s Odin’s book, Eternal Embers (book 5). Odin is by far the reader favorite at this point in the series, and his story is so damn tragic…but still touching…and it’s also a major turning point for the series. So yeah, those two stories definitely take the “most excited to tell” award.

Darkness Within Book 1
MNtR: At one point in the past, you'd mentioned that you had intended to write upwards of a dozen installments for the series. Has that number changed since (in either direction)?

JT: At this point, I’ve planned for about 15 books. There’s a fairly good chance there could be a few more than that…but I doubt there will be less. ;) I think I have a pretty strong plot arc that ties all the books together, so I’m rather confident I can carry the storyline for at least 15 books without anyone getting bored with it…including me :) 

MNtR: That's a lot of material. A Darkness Within Guide might someday be just what the doctor ordered! Any chance there might be one in the cards as well? :o)

Actually, yes. :) I’m working on putting together a companion style book that has The Legend in it, as well as some journal pages from different characters that explain the different vampire families, vampire magics, etc. And of course, the book will also explain everything about the werewolves and other supernaturals too. Oh, and if I’m really lucky – a number of the custom character portraits I’ve commissioned will be done before the companion releases…so they’ll be in there too! :)

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Thank you SO MUCH to Jennifer Turner for her visit. I'm more excited than ever to see what's in store for what's undoubtedly going to be an epic and sprawling paranormal romance series. Mmmm....just how I like 'em! ^_^

Check out the book description for the most recent book in the Darkness Within series, Eternal Hearts:

Toni Tutoro just wants to go home. Banned from Chicago’s vampiric society after cutting a swath of violence through the city, she must now successfully complete an investigation for the Lord of Chicago to regain the right to live in her hometown again.


To ensure Toni’s safety during her probationary period, Drake Black, a feared assassin, is secretly contracted to protect her. Even with direct orders to keep his relationship professional, and his own personal vow to never get involved with a female vampire again, Drake finds himself drawn to Toni in ways he can’t explain. But unbeknownst to him, he’s tied to one of the people who drove Toni to her night of destruction.

 
Drake’s legendary heritage holds the key to Toni’s survival and success, but will she be able to forgive his connection to the brutal night that robbed her of those she loved most? Will Drake be able to forget the betrayals in his past and risk taking one more chance? But most of all, can they find a way to reach each other in the darkness?

Want more Jennifer Turner? Find her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, or her blog.


Today's interview is part of the Bewitching Book Tours  current tour for Eternal Hearts. For more infor on the other participating blogs and their tour stops, visit BBT's site (here).

Review: Negligee Behavior by Shelli Stevens

Title: Negligee Behavior
Series: n/a
Genres/Themes: contemporary romance, ugly duckling tale
Excerpt: here

Quick Take:
A purely fun book, with a great deal of heart and spice. I’d call it chick-lit with a kick. ^_^


Book Description (via Goodreads): 
     When lingerie heiress Brandy Summer gets cold feet and runs out on her Vegas wedding, she has nowhere to turn—so she hijacks a hunky biker waiting for a red light and begs him for help. What she doesn’ t know is that her instincts are right: the groom has a hidden agenda. He needs her money to pay off his gambling debts and she’ s his ticket to the good life.
     Marco Vargas isn’ t sure what he’ s getting himself into when he rescues Brandy, but figures he’ ll do the chivalrous thing. He offers her a job in his bar and the chance to sort out her feelings. But it seems that keeping Brandy hidden is easier than keeping his hands off her—and what will happen when Brandy discovers that Marco has secrets of his own?
Review:

This book just felt so damn good to read. It’s got a vaguely fairy tale vibe to it, insofar as the story involves a chronically frumpy lady who, through a series of unexpected events, blossoms into herself and finds love. Protagonist Brandy Summers is sweet, charming and magnetic, even as she doubts herself and her own attractiveness. I actually bought into the progressive change in her behavior and appearance.

The romance in this tale is at once precious, pure, and steamin’! There was a good balance therein, with both the lighter and saucier elements being alluring. I’m not sure whether it was more fun to watch Brandy and Marco antagonize each other, or flirt. Their scenes together, in any capacity, were certainly a treat.

The plot moves along nicely. The major dilemmas are not over- or underdone, though I did find some of the segments involving the antagonist to be a little bit unnecessary. Every few chapters a scene would pop up, showing how steamin’ mad and delusional he is regarding the heroine. It didn’t do much to instill a sense of immediate concern for Brandy; the element was probably included to keep the reader from forgetting about him…and maybe to display his quick decent into crazy-town. Either way, I found it to be the weakest element of the story, perhaps even a bit unnecessary.

I quite enjoyed the tone of the book, which was funny but not slapstick or gimmicky. I found myself chuckling out loud many times. One scene involving a depilatory topical in special no-no places was particularly amusing. ^_^ The setting of Las Vegas, Nevada fits quite well with the notion of the characters reinventing themselves and having a little fun.

I can definitely see myself reading this book again and getting almost as much enjoyment as the first go-round. I definitely recommend it to fans of charmingly humorous contemporary romance; particularly to those readers who don’t mind a sprinkling of frothy chick-lit fun.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
"I REALLY liked it!"

Review: Wild by Naomi Clark

Title: Wild
Series: Vargulf trilogy, #1
Genres/Themes: urban fantasy, drug addiction, werewolves
Author: Naomi Clark

Quick Take:
With a very different and unique sort of approach for its genre, this book breaks up the routine in a fascinating and engaging way. Recommended for those UF fans that can handle a darker subject matter and a touch more realism with their fantasy.

Book Description (via author site): 
Lizzie Creighton ran away from her life a year ago, wanting to escape the pressures of university and just party. And that’s exactly what she did.      But now she's sick of the world she's fallen into – the drink, the drugs, the violence – and she's desperate to start again. The chance to do it comes from the last source she could ever imagine. After her deadbeat boyfriend steals her car and abandons her in the dead of night, Lizzie is bitten by a wolf. And suddenly her next fix is her last problem.     Now, caught between Nick Doyle, the outcast werewolf who claims he can save her, and Seth Weaver, the favourite son of the blue-blood werewolf royalty, Lizzie must decide what kind of werewolf she wants to be.

Review:
So, lemme just get down to it. This book is tough to nail down. ^_^ And I really, really dig that. It's not your typical...well, anything. From the protagonist and the premise to the plot progression and romantic elements, Wild certainly doesn't follow genre formulas. In fact, for a piece of genre fiction, this tale has quite a few elements closer to literary fiction than anything else. The pacing and narrative focus in particular were slower, less action-driven (of the high-octane sort, at least) and more introspective of the main character. The story presents many possible directions: as I was reading, I honestly didn't know what to expect next.

This is not a particularly happy tale...but it's certainly engaging. Protagonist Lizzie Creighton isn't fooling anyone, including herself--she's addicted. To drugs, to a cycle of self-destructive behavior, to poor judgement and no-good relationships. What she goes through is tough, not sugar-coated. It doesn't seem to be written as overtly shocking or cautionary, either, something I appreciated. For much of the book (the first half at the very least), this is really an observation of the very human struggles of a young woman, with supernatural flavoring slowly added in.

Moving through the book, I was never quite sure if things would be okay for Lizzie...even with her best of intentions. How refreshing it was to not have that forgone conclusion of an HEA being served on a silver platter! Now, don't get me wrong...I love m'self an HEA. But this story progresses in such a way that there is no easy fix right around the corner. It really will take the whole trilogy to figure out what's what! :o)

The supernatural elements were intriguing, as well. In this world, there are Kurtadam (born werewolves), and Vargulf (made werewolves). Through the lenses of Lizzie's experience, the reader is brought into a whole new realm of behavior and existence. I rather liked how it was built upon throughout the book. As  mentioned previously, this book doesn't start out an urban fantasy, but does a good job of transitioning into one.

If this first installment is any indication, its sequel (and the book after that) will be awesome. It'll be dark, it will challenge, it will be full of action and excitement. I can't wait to find out what comes next!

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
"I really liked it."

 This has been a tour stop for Book Lovin' Bitches eBook Tours.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours and a copy was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely mine and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Blind Love by Nina Pierce

Title: Blind Love
Series: Tilling Passions
Genres/Themes: contemporary romance, murder mystery

Quick Take:
A sweet and hot tale with likable protagonists. The mystery that drove the plot was a bit on the weak side, but the developing connection between the two main characters was enough to satisfy cravings for intrigue.

Book Description (via Goodreads): 
     Uptight CPA and oldest sister, Julie TIlling, is the glue that binds her family. Everyone depends on her to do the right thing. When her friend from high school dies and Julie is the only one who believes he didn’t commit suicide, she takes it upon herself to investigate his death.     Damon Corey didn’t come to Maine to become a shock jock. But when his dream career of becoming a concert pianist seems unobtainable, the radio station’s offer is too good to pass up. When mysterious brunette Jewel, hooks up with him at the night club run by a college frat brother, their one night fling wraps around his heart and makes him believe in love at first sight.      But can Damon expose his inner soul without pushing Julie away or will his enigmatic shock jock persona become Julie’s sexual undoing and reveal him as the missing piece that solves the puzzling questions surrounding her friend’s death?
Review:

I can tell you from the get-go that the following review is not likely to be a great one. There are books that can incite strong reactions, either positive or negative. And then there are those that are pretty nice, but don't leave a lasting impression. This book, I must say, turned out to be the latter for me. It was enjoyable overall, had a lot of sizzle…but after finishing I wasn't struck by much.

The title of this book is apt in many ways (I love it when a book's title has lots of depth!). The most obvious is that of the hero and heroine of the story, who are introduced to each other under fairly false pretenses. They spend much of the story learning more about what's behind all of the superficial layers. It's that particular aspect of the book that drew me in the most. The responsible, somewhat repressed Julie Tilling has a number of cute and daring interactions with the nominally outrageous (but inwardly sweet) Damon Corey…resulting in both steamy hot and delightfully charming moments. Both characters were interesting individually, which certainly cannot be said of most romances.

I'm not going to lie…I was a bit underwhelmed by the element of the book involving the suspected murder of Julie Tilling's childhood friend. To me, it felt more like a plot device that was just there to give the two protagonists a reason to interact. The book is not very long to begin with, but I felt like the scenes and developments related to the initial premise (a one-woman investigation of a suicide that might not be what it seems) were in the background. Even the resolution of this thread seemed jumbled. This is perhaps not a book that one would read for its mystery elements.

I'm hoping that the next books, which feature the remaining siblings in the Tilling family, are successful in making sisters Meghan and Dierdre more sympathetic. As it stands, those ladies are…well, they're kind of selfish jerks. ^_^ But that's just my personal prejudice, and has little to do with the quality of the book. As it stands, I do plan on reading on to find out what romantic adventures find their way to the Tilling sisters. And I would indeed recommend it to others.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars
"I liked it."


This has been a Bewitching Book Tours tour stop. To visit the other stops for Blind Love, click here.

Thoughts On: Open vs. Closed Series

When it comes to novels in genre fiction, I most often prefer reading series. I tend to get attached to characters and settings, and as such I find it difficult to let them go after just one book. Series, by virtue of their length relative to single novels, make for a deep experience and pay off dedication and patience in spades.

…or at least, some series do. There are of course different levels of quality amongst the lot, a fact that has much to do with authors and the teams that help with the production process. But I’ve been wondering lately if there might be an additional, more generalized factor to consider: “open” versus “closed” series.

With those terms, I’m referring to the intentions and structure when creating a series. A “closed” series shall (by my decree!) refer to a series that has a specific beginning and end planned from the start. An example that comes to mind is the Harry Potter series. Author J.K. Rowling always intended for there to be seven books chronicling Potter’s years at magic school, in which he grows into his prophesied role of champion of the magic world. Given its structure, it was easy to see the series as one work with different “acts,” each one serving a particular expositional purpose.

The other end of that spectrum would be an “open” series, which may involve some planning (of plot arc, for example) on the author’s or publisher’s part, but by-and-large can conceivably go on and on…and sometimes does. Whether that’s a good thing is of course wholly subjective. Some examples of open series include Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse, and (unless I’m mistaken) the Dresden Files.

Personally, I’m not sure if I prefer one over the other, though I find that there are potential advantages and drawbacks to either type. With an open series, there seems to be more of a day-to-day sort of vibe…wherein a reader is living right alongside there series’ characters, catching them on a random day of life. Characters in these series tend to do a lot of evolving in the long run, and the series itself might drastically change in tone, focus, or even genre (think Anita Blake). The potential pitfall to this is a series outstaying its welcome.


So, what to you think?

  • Do you have a preference for “open” or “closed” series (or maybe a hybrid of the two types)?
  • Can you think of any elements that are typical to either type?
  • Do you think a series can “outstay its welcome”?

Notice Anything Different?


....Not much, really.....it's only a complete blog redesign! ^_^

Chic and Sassy Designs

Thanks to the wonderful, talented and absolutely fabulous Zoe of Chic and Sassy Designs (thank you, thank you, thank you, Zoe!), this blog is now a more accurate reflection of the blogger behind it. I'm excited about the new look, and I very much look forward to bringing content awesome enough to match its appearance.

A little about the design...
Do you recognize the skyline in the background? I'll give you a hint...it's known for its fog, perennial Springtime weather, cable cars, open-mindedness, and sour dough bread. ^_^ Having been raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have very much felt like it's ingrained in who I am, and I carry the Bay with me everywhere I go.

The "P&P" on the book is for the wonderful Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice. It's got so many of those delightfully romantic and fairy-tale-like elements....and it remains one of my favorite books (the other is Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game).

One of my favorite places to read is in the park. It's got it all...other park-goers (for the optional people-watching, naturally ^_^), greenery, and relative quiet. Under a nice shady tree on a warm n' sunny day, reading can be a dream.

You'll notice that so many of the books featured and reviewed here at MNtR are in genre fiction (with some humorous non-fiction thrown in for good measure). What would the world be like without werewolves, cowboys, fairies, passionate interludes by Regency-period gentlepeople, or quirky, hapless heroines? Not a very fun world, that's for sure.

At any rate, I hope you enjoy the new look! Ya'll come back now, y'hear???

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