Wishing you all the best in 2016!
Josephine Clark is trapped. A harrowing past haunts her every time she looks in the mirror, and she can’t escape the violence of her everyday life. More and more, her thoughts turn to Evan Salinger, the boy she knew in high school. The boy they called a mental case. A loner. A freak. The boy who seemed to know things no one could know. For a few short weeks, Jo had found perfect solace in Evan’s company, sneaking every night to meet him at the local pool. In the cool of the water and the warmth of Evan’s arms around her, Jo had tasted something close to happiness.
Cruel circumstances tore them apart, and four years later, the sweet memory of their time together is dissolving under the punishing reality of Jo’s life now. Evan seems like a fading dream…until he reappears at the moment she needs him most. Guided by Evan’s strange intuition, they flee her small Louisiana town, running from police and criminals alike, and Jo begins to suspect there is something more to his sudden return than he admits.
Over twelve days across America’s heartland, deep secrets come to light, buried pasts are unearthed, and the line between dreams and reality is blurred as Evan and Jo fight to hold on to their soul-deep love, and discover that there is more than one way to save a life.
“I didn’t do that so I could get something in exchange. You don’t owe me anything. That’s not how this works.”
“How what works?” I asked in a small voice.
I felt shy and unsure and completely exposed. More than even when he was between my thighs, kissing me to oblivion and back again.
“So this is us?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Evan said, cupping my jaw. He swallowed hard. “This is us.”
I felt something break open in me. I wanted to cry. I laughed instead, and threw my arms around his neck, driving us both under the surface. I kissed him and tasted myself on his lips, and his own sweetness before the chlorine water washed it away.
We came up laughing and sputtering, my hair in my eyes. Evan raised both hands and brushed the long, dark locks from my face…and from my scar. I held still, letting him do this, letting him see me, and he smiled.
“You’re so beautiful,” he whispered, and kissed me long and hard, and I sighed into that kiss, into his body, into him. I wasn’t beautiful, not anymore, but it was still nice to hear.
“I know you don’t believe me,” Evan said, his words echoing my thoughts with uncanny precision. “But it’s true.”
I felt myself turn rigid, ready to pull away, but Evan wouldn’t let me. His arms slipped under mine and around my back, drawing me toward him. He raised one hand to my scar, his fingers soft and gentle, and warm over the lightning crack that marred my cheek.
“The Grand Canyon was carved by a river. It sliced through the rock, revealing layer upon layer of beauty, and a depth that couldn’t be seen until it was cut open. One little sliver of water…”
“One little sliver.” He traced the ragged seam down to my chin. “The majesty of the Canyon is that depth; layer upon layer of beauty, buried for years, until the river cut it open, revealing everything.”
I felt tears sting my eyes and pressed my cheek into his hand. “Don’t,” I whispered. “I can’t take it.”
“It’s okay, Jo.” Evan smiled gently and pulled me to him. “It’s okay.”
No, it wasn’t okay, but he didn’t fight me or try to force it on me. Years of feeling ugly couldn’t be erased with a few poetic similes. But he was here in my arms and I was in his, and the way he looked at me…I could almost believe what he was saying was true, and that was good enough for me.
Available for pre-order now on Amazon! Release day is February 9, 2016.
About the Author:
Emma Scott is the author of RUSH, and lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area with her patient husband and two feisty little girls. You can find her here emmascott.net or follow her on Facebook.
5 out of 5 Stars
*I was provided a copy of RUSH by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*
Julliard-trained violinist Charlotte Conroy has everything she ever dreamed of before tragedy strikes and takes it all away. She no longer feels the music and must accept a job as a personal assistant to a blind man in order to pay the bills. Noah Lake travels the world as an extreme sports athlete, journalist, and photographer until an accident steals his vision and leaves him in his own personal hell. He becomes a shell of the man he once was, angry at the world and pushing everyone away.
Charlotte knows working for Noah won’t be easy, but she’s determined to show him his life isn’t over. And Noah won’t let Charlotte close up her violin case just yet. They each have to face their own personal struggles in order to find happiness together.
RUSH is a remarkable new adult romance about two people who have to help each other find their joy in life again. Right from the prologue, I was hooked on this book and the author’s writing, not wanting to put it down until the very end. The story was an emotional journey for both main characters, as both Noah and Charlotte had difficulty facing their future in light of their past.
Both characters were well-developed. Charlotte may have had her heart crushed, but not her spirit, and that showed in her every interaction with Noah. As mean as he was to her at times, she never forgot he was mad at the world and his circumstances, not at her. But she’d lost her love for music, and just when she was finding joy in life again, she had to make a decision that meant either giving up the music or giving up Noah.
Although he survived a cliff-diving accident and a coma, Noah felt his life was over and wasn’t interested in learning to live as a blind man. He was bitter and angry because he would never be able to do the things he loved again. And then Charlotte entered his life, and she wouldn’t back down or let him live in the dark any longer. Little by little she chipped away at his hard shell until Noah found that there was still something worth living for. I cried several times throughout the book as Charlotte helped Noah begin his new life.
As much as I loved the plot and the writing, there were a few things that could have been more developed, like Noah’s scars and his movements when he would kiss Charlotte. His injuries were described as gruesome, but at times the scars were forgotten instead of incorporated into a scene. Sometimes, the way Noah moved didn’t feel realistic for a man still learning to live without his vision.
Overall, these few drawbacks did not ruin the story for me. It was still a wonderfully emotional journey, and I would definitely read more by this author.
5 out of 5 Stars
*I was provided a copy of Playing For Fun by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*
Holly Parker finally lands her dream job, but there’s a catch. In order to finally work full-time as a hairdresser, she’ll have to leave her home, her friends, and her budding relationship with best mate Ford. Her feelings for Ford have taken a dip outside the friendzone lately, but when Ford appears to want to look for companionship outside Stewart Island, Holly offers to lend a helping hand instead of speaking up for what she wants.
Ford Komeke can’t deny he needs a little help in the dating arena. He has no idea how to talk to women, and he certainly doesn’t want to open up about his past. But then there’s Holly, his best friend, and maybe something more? He can’t deny his feelings for her any longer. Too bad Holly’s leaving and doesn’t want anything more serious than a casual fling before she goes.
Just when Ford and Holly finally admit their feelings for each other run deeper than friendship, Ford is sent into a tailspin by ghosts of his childhood. Locking his feelings away seems to be the best way to go, but Holly won’t accept that he won’t open up to her. Ford will need to make peace with his past before it’s too late for his future.
Playing For Fun is the sixth book in the Due South series, and although it’s a standalone novel, it’s best enjoyed after reading the others in the series. Each book in the series focuses on different residents and visitors to Stewart Island, but the cast of characters is the same and some of the story lines flow through the books. Each book is enjoyable in its own right, and I loved watching Holly and Ford’s friendship turn into a love story. As always with Ms. Alvarez’s stories, there’s more to the plot than just romance. This story includes both Holly and Ford being held back from happiness in the present by issues from their pasts.
I was enamored with Ford from the start. He was nowhere near the overdone typical alpha male. Instead, he was “that laidback Maori fella,” a sweetheart and good guy who everyone loved. Ford loved to joke around, work on cars, and play his guitar. And really, what could be sexier? Ford also was able to recognize his own weakness: talking to women and getting dates. And with that, he welcomed the offer of help in finding a match. The only problem was that the one person he truly wanted already seemed closed-off to the idea of a relationship with him.
Holly was outwardly confident, but her biggest issue was in asking for what she wanted. Instead, she’d settle for what she was given. So when a full-time job opened up and was offered to her, she felt she had to take it because that’s what she’d worked all these years for, right? Not to mention how she was too shy to ask Ford for what she wanted from him. Both Holly and Ford grew individually throughout the story, and of course there was plenty of growth for them as a couple.
I can’t neglect to mention the heat between Holly and Ford. Ms. Alvarez has a way of stoking the fires and fanning the flames of her characters without going overboard or writing gratuitous scenes. I loved watching the sparks explode, but also seeing how Ford was always in control. He knew things could easily get out of hand and chose to slow them down for the sake of his relationship with Holly. And through all their ups and downs, Holly and Ford never lost their friendship, even if it dialed back for a time.
I thoroughly enjoyed this installment in the Due South series and look forward to reading more in the series and more from this author.
All of my reviews of Ms. Alvarez’s work can be found by selecting her name from the Author Spotlight tab.
Title: Passing on Faith
Genre: General Fiction, LGBT
Date published: November 1, 2015
Following his father’s death, Micah Forbes believes he can finally put the family who rejected him and their religious bigotry behind him. In a cruel twist, his older brother calls to tell him he’s inherited their father’s abandoned vacation home.
Micah discovers the house comes complete with a long list of repairs, boxes full of family secrets, and a handful of quirky neighbors. Despite not wanting to get in too deep, he can’t help the spark of interest stirred when the sexy redhead next door offers his help. Everything about the enigmatic Cat Rowland throws Micah off-balance, from his gender-bending sense of fashion to his handy repair skills to his deep spirituality. Before long, Micah is swept up by Cat and his friends, but Cat himself keeps his heart carefully protected.
When Micah’s past and his present collide in a painful way, his self-destructive coping habits threaten to overwhelm him. To save himself, he needs to open his soul and let someone in. Cat has the key to unlock him, if he can let down his guard and trust his faith enough to catch Micah as he falls.
Micah stared up at the old house. It was nicer than he’d remembered, at least on the outside—other than the overgrown lawn and garden. He wondered if there was a lawn mower in the shed. Then he wondered if there was a shed. Just one more thing to worry about. At least he had the entire summer to figure out what he did and didn’t have available to him.
His mind ran through all the possible scenarios of what could go wrong during his tenure there, from the house falling down around him to his friends having a crisis while he was unavailable. He tried not to imagine that the students renting his own home had merely been putting up a front and were actually throwing a wild party even as Micah stood on the front porch of the lake house. None of that would do; they were his way of finding excuses not to stay in Concordia.
While he was thinking about all of that, a voice behind him said, “Hey, there.”
Micah nearly jumped out of his skin. He turned around slowly and came face-to-face with a gingery-blond young man. He was average height, perhaps an inch or two shorter than Micah, and had a wiry build. There was a dusting of freckles across his pale skin, and he had a row of small hoops down one ear. In the other ear, he wore a dangling earring that looked like some kind of leaf. He had on a trendy pair of black knee-length pants and a fitted white t-shirt with a rock band logo Micah didn’t recognize. His gray-green eyes were wide and held a spark of mischief, and his mouth curled upward in a charming smirk.
5 out of 5 Stars
*I was provided an ARC of Here to Stay by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*
After a twelve-year estrangement, Erik Fiskare and Daisy Bianco are reunited and working on their relationship. But what looks like a happily ever after isn’t always so happy and perfect. The reason for their estrangement still needs to be dealt with, and both Erik and Daisy have unresolved heartache that rears its head when least expected. Erik also has to repair his relationship with his best friend who he hasn’t spoken to in years.
At the same time, Erik begins a journey of self-discovery when family he didn’t know existed suddenly presents itself to him. After being abandoned by his father as a child, Erik doesn’t know if he has it in his heart to forgive the man he so resembles, but learning more about him through family members sets him on a path of understanding. As Erik learns who he really is, he’ll also discover what will truly make him happy in his relationship with Daisy. But they’ll face some struggles before they can grasp that brass ring.
Here to Stay is book three in The Fish Tales series, and I loved every word of it as much as I loved the first two books. Although you will understand the gist of the story without reading The Man I Love or Give Me Your Answer True, it is best to have read one of these companion novels first. You won’t be sorry if you do. Here to Stay picks up right where the first two novels leave off, with Erik and Daisy reconciling after twelve years of being apart.
And they lived happily ever after, right? Well, life doesn’t always work that way, and Ms. Laqueur has a way of weaving a realistic tale that grips your heart and squeezes it tight before releasing it and allowing you to breathe again. The story of Erik’s journey provides a lifelike look at friendships being repaired and how love can hurt because real people have real problems.
All of the characters from the first two books make a reappearance in this story, and characterizations are true to form. Everything I loved about Erik and Daisy, and Will and Lucky, is brought out in vivid detail. The friendship between Erik and Will, although needing some mending, is one of the truest friendships I’ve ever read. What’s love if you can’t share the joy with someone who gets you, and the heartache too? Both men recognize the uniqueness of their relationship and embrace it, allowing the other to take on some of their burden when the load becomes too heavy to carry. Although Will and Lucky are technically secondary characters, they are well-developed and in the forefront of the story, adding depth to each interaction.
The entire book is packed with emotion. Even while cheering on Erik and Daisy’s relationship, their arguments are a necessary evil. Twelve years of estrangement doesn’t just vanish from your heart, and old, buried issues surface when least expected. But the way the characters handle these issues is what counts, and Erik and Daisy are now older and wiser, having lived through countless struggles and made it out the other side. They’re more mature and better equipped to handle whatever pops up, and watching them from a reader’s perspective is gripping.
I tend to get bored with series and reading about the same characters, but there is not a boring moment to be found in any of the three books of The Fish Tales. There are not enough stars to show my appreciation for the words Ms. Laqueur writes. I love these characters, and I have a feeling I’d love anything else written by this author.
Here to Stay will be available on January 14, 2016. My reviews of The Man I Love and Give Me Your Answer True can be found by selecting Suanne Laqueur from the Author Spotlight tab. Each book is on sale for $0.99 through December 20, 2015.
Zari clawed at her sister, Gianna, in a desperate attempt to escape. Gianna ran her forked tongue slowly across her upper lip. The slimy, berry-colored muscle dripped hot saliva onto Zari’s face as she turned away from Gianna’s menacing glare. “Please don’t make me watch! I don’t want to see this again!” Zari cried, curling into a ball on the hard, cold floor of the shed.Nan stomped on Zari’s stomach, anger flushing her grizzled features. “Listen, you little bitch. You will sit still and watch, or I will see to it your father beats you senseless…again. Remember the last time?” Zari did remember. She’d not been able to walk for two days after the last beating. The pain in her gut now was so great it knocked the air from her lungs as she wheezed.
Zari whimpered. Pain, shame and disgust clenched her stomach as the young man tied to the pallet in the corner screamed for mercy. Pop straddled the man, laughing as his prisoner frantically thrashed about. Nan and Gianna gripped Zari’s arms and forced her to a sitting position. Roughly grabbing her chin, Nan yanked her head forward. “Watch!” Nan hissed.The man’s body had stilled and dark, thick rivers of blood dripped from his mouth and nose down the side of his face. Pop’s mouth pressed against the lips of the stranger as the serpent fed. When her father finally rose, the snake slid back into his mouth and Pop wiped the blood from his lips with the back of his hand. He met Zari’s gray-green eyes with his own, and grinned. His teeth were stained dark red.
Terror shook Zari’s bones, leaving her shivering as she raised her eyes to the scene in the corner of the shed. Pop ran his thumb over the lips of the man, who cried out once more but was quickly silenced when the snake burst forth from Pop’s mouth and slithered down the throat of the man, a drifter who had stopped by the farmhouse the day before, looking for work.Gianna’s split tongue flicked against Zari’s ear; the feel of the wet, dual points of it against her skin made Zari flinch. “Soon,” Gianna whispered, tracing the outer edge of Zari’s ear with her tongue. “Soon, it will be your turn to feed.” Pop shoved the limp body of the young man onto the pile of human shells stacked along the wall of the shed.Overwhelmed by the stench of blood and decaying flesh, Zari began to vomit. Vile chunks of rancid meat erupted from her mouth and bile burned her throat and nose as she heaved. Grimacing, she dragged the hem of her shirt across her mouth, resolving never to eat meat again.
Valarie Kinney is a writer, fiber artist and Renaissance Festival junkie with a wicked caffeine addiction. She resides in Michigan with her husband, four children, and two insane little dogs. Author of Slither and Just Hold On. Editor and narrator for Dragons of Faith.
The Man I Love and Give Me Your Answer True are on sale for $0.99 each through 12/20/15. Grab them while they’re hot! Book 3, Here to Stay, will be released in January, so cozy up with the first two books in The Fish Tales now and be ready for the finale.
My review of The Man I Love can be found here, and my review of Give Me Your Answer True can be found here. I’ll be reviewing Here to Stay soon, so stay tuned for that. Books one and two are companions. You do not need to read both of them to read Here to Stay, but trust me, you’ll want to!
5 out of 5 Stars
*I was provided a copy of Crimson and Clover by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*
Eighteen-year-old flower child Katie Scott is all for the world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll in the late sixties, but she still dreams of a June Cleaver life. When San Francisco no longer has anything to offer her, she moves to Ladbroke Grove in London to start over. She’s not really looking for love, but love finds her in the form of twenty-six-year-old Jay Carey.
The long-haired, beautiful rock god leaves his popular band to form a new one, playing the kind of music he really wants to play. Music is Jay’s life, until he meets Katie, and the two share a connection that can’t be denied. But that connection will be tested by Jay’s life on the road and an atmosphere of free love.
Crimson and Clover is a twentieth century historical romance, set in the late sixties with a backdrop of rock and roll and free love. The story immediately takes you to another time, easily incorporating vivid descriptions of the fashion and hair styles popular during that period. The dialogue keeps you in the setting, and I loved the mix of Katie’s Southern American twang with British English and sixties terminology.
Told in third person, the majority of the story was from Katie’s point of view. Although young and naïve in some ways, Katie was a strong lead who knew what she wanted out of life and wasn’t afraid to go after it. There were times when she should have spoken up and didn’t, but for the most part I loved her iron will and her ability to take care of herself without needing to depend on a man.
From the moment Jay was introduced, there was a clear attraction. The buildup of Katie and Jay’s relationship was realistic and fun to watch—for the most part. There were times when I had trouble accepting the things Katie accepted and I had to remind myself of the atmosphere in which the story was set. The author did a fantastic job of keeping things real for the time frame Katie and Jay lived in. Nothing was shied away from and nothing was left out. And although I couldn’t accept every choice they made, I still couldn’t stop myself from turning the pages to find out how their lives played out.
The reader was given bits and pieces of Jay’s point of view, and if the story was missing anything, I would say it was a little more of what he was going through. I would have liked to hear from him more to understand things from his perspective. Granted, keeping the reader mostly blind to Jay’s perspective pushed us to feel things from Katie’s point of view and sympathize with her on a deeper level.
Overall, the story kept me hooked the whole time, fully immersed in Jay and Katie’s relationship. The entire story felt realistic and gave me a taste of life in the age of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Author: S. J. Blackrose
Title: Eternal Bloodthirst
Series: Blood Moon, #1
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
Date published: August 16, 2015
Every vampire has a soulmate, and once they find them, the clock starts ticking…
Vadym and Elyzaveta both know they are meant to be, but a series of betrayals and misunderstandings prevent them from being together. Even after almost a century, they are both too stubborn to give in. Because of this, Lilith, his queen, gives him a deadline. One he intends to ignore.
The sudden return of their enemy brings them back together in a way they never would have anticipated. A deadly threat forces them to leave their homes to start a new and safer life in a small town on the other side of the planet. Another unexpected tragedy makes her hate him all over again, and this time, she is not the only one.
When the most powerful witch in existence threatens their town and thus their lives, they know they have to find a way to kill her and her warlocks, and together, they just might be able to do so.
Vadym, leader of the Vampiri, now has to recover the love of his life as well as the love of his daughter. Not an easy task. What he doesn´t remember, is that it is only a matter of time until Lilith forces the deadline on them, threatening to kill the only woman meant for him…
Warning: this book will bite! It contains scenes of a graphic nature and is not intended for readers of less than 18 years. Read at your own discretion.
I can’t ignore the order he has just given me. It has not been an explicit order, but I know him. If I ignore it, he will come to me and turn me around himself. I don’t want that. I don’t want him to touch me.
His unique scent is already wreaking havoc in me.
So I turn to face him. I cannot allow myself to react, but I lean against the door because my legs are shaking.
He has matured. He seems older, though Vampiri stop aging as soon as maturity is reached on our 30th birthday. His black hair is shorter than what it used to be and it seems to curl up by his nape. Oh what I’d give to thread my fingers… No! I can’t think like that.
It’s his birthday soon. He might think I won’t remember, but I do. I remember everything.
I don’t look him in the eyes, but the thick mane, the regal nose, those thick lips, that beard; they all make his face more than memorable. I feel my fangs throb; my body comes alive before his very presence.
This was a mistake.
I should have never come.
I’m going to go.
I turn around and try to open the door, which is locked. I hear the rumble of his laughter behind me.
“I do not remember you being such a coward, Ely.”
Furious, I turn back around.
“I’m not a coward; I just decided you do not deserve to be in my presence.”
His gray eyes sparkle with humor and his pursed lips tell me that he’s trying to hold his laughter.
My throat feels suddenly dry when I see he is wearing a sleeveless shirt, which is stuck to his body, outlining every muscle. His sweatpants show a bulge I remember well, and I quickly divert my eyes. Anyone would look ridiculous dressed like that, but Vadym makes it look like he’s modeling. My eyes wander back, unable to ignore the bulge that is growing larger before my very eyes.
Automatically, I look at his shoulder, Where after all these years, I see it again.
There it is.
Proof that we belong together.
The letter E.
I feel weak. Fragile. Emotionally exhausted. But that mark reminds me I’m alive. He rolls his shoulders making my initial on his skin move as if it were something real.
I open my mouth. I can’t breathe.
Why do I still feel this?
S.J. Blackrose is the author of the new Paranormal Romance Blood Moon series. An avid reader since she can remember, her love for books eventually led her to make up her own stories and share them with friends.
For over two years she worked on writing paranormal fan fiction, as well as contemporary and erotic stories, until she felt like it was time for more. Now, she’s taking it a step further by diving into the Indie world with her debut novel, Eternal Bloodthirst.
Given her love for sexy Alpha male vampires, it’s no surprise that S.J. decided to write about these characters. Eternal Bloodthirst will be number one in the Blood Moon series and there is a lot more where that came from since she is already planning several more books in this series. There are also plans for other projects in the future.