DIK Reading Challenge Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

After the discovery that her late husband, a popular televangelist, embezzled five million dollars from his ministry, Rachel Stone is outcast and broke with a five-year-old son to raise, and in need of a job. Then fate and a dead car engine leaves her at a shabby drive-in theater owned by Gabriel Bonner, the hunky, anti-social black sheep of a prominent family, and the only person in Salvation, North Carolina, willing to employ her. The sexual electricity starts crackling the instant they meet--but it will take the shock of both their lives to give these two lonely people a second chance at love.

Rachel and her 5 year old son, Edward, drive into Salvation, North Carolina and her car breaks down. Not what she wanted to happen. She’s stuck right in front of a dilapidated drive-in whose owner seems to be a bear of a man who brings out the worst in Rachel.

She’s desperate though and so she asks the man, Gabriel, for a job. He gives her a flat out NO but she’s stubborn as a mule and won’t give up. After humiliating herself to the nth degree he finally gives her a job. Rachel is determined to do the best she can. She needs money to feed her son – even though she’s not feeding herself.

Gabriel soon discovers that she’s living in her car and calls his brother, a local minister, to come and help. When his brother, Ethan, arrives he’s none to happy to see Rachel. You see Rachel is the widow of a shyster televangelist whose headquarters were right there in Salvation. When G. Dwayne and his Temple were going down in a great ball of flame he blamed his wife, yes, that would be Rachel, for her materialistic desires and that’s why he felt the need to steal everyone’s money. Ethan believed all of what G. Dwayne had said so that even now, three years later, he wants Rachel gone before she can cause more havoc in the town.

Gabriel has Rachel and Edward put up in his grandmothers cottage and Rachel continues to work at the drive-in getting it ready for its grand opening. But life is not great for either Rachel or Gabriel. They each have their reasons for being in Salvation and neither wants to share with the other. But they seem to form a weird bond, besides unwanted lust for one another, that confuses each of them. It’s that strange something that moves them into a sexual relationship. But can you be in a sexual relationship on a regular basis and not form a more emotional bond? In this case, no.

That is such a small, very small, summary of what this book is about. Dream a Little Dream is a heart wrenching story of loss, deprivation, hatred and revenge. But it’s also the story of love, acceptance and understanding. It’s about two people finding each other during a time in their lives when they desperately need someone else – they just hadn’t figured that out yet.

For all of Gabriel’s abruptness the man charmed me from the first moment. It’s like I could see that he was hurting inside and trying to push people away even though nothing had been explained to me yet. His was just a soul that was crying out and Rachel, for all of her sometimes crass speech and sarcasm was just what Gabriel needed. He needed to see that someone had hit rock bottom but was still fighting and not giving up on life – which is exactly what he’d been doing. He was going through the motions of living for the sake of his family but inside he was dead and couldn’t see any bright light coming at him. Whether he wanted it to happen or not, Rachel started bringing some of that light

Rachel for all her toughness was scared out of her mind. Her concern was for her son though and she just wanted to make him a good life. It didn’t have to be one that had them living in splendor, she just wanted enough money to feed and clothe Edward and to keep him safe. At times I just wanted her to come out to the community members who were mean to her (including Gabriel’s brothers) and have her tell them the truth about G. Dwayne and their life but I realized that it wouldn’t have made a difference. The people of Salvation had heard what they wanted to hear and believed it with no question. I felt bad for Rachel but I also think her silence about things helped her in the end.

I don’t want to give anything away – and I think I’ve given you enough tidbits for you to decide whether you want to read the book or not. It’s a great book. Yes, it was the darkest SEP that I’ve read but it was so good I loved reading it. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Dream A Little Dream was a great, if atypical, love story, but it was also a wonderful story about family.

A wonderful way to end the year, and the DIK Challenge as well!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Author Karen Mercury Talks About Working the Lode...oh, and MMF Romance

Please welcome author Karen Mercury to the blog. Karen’s new book, Working the Lode, releases today from Siren Publishing. Sounds sexy - Enjoy!

The Joy of Working the Lode

It’s funny that I only recently stumbled into writing MMF erotic romance. I’ve actually been writing MMF scenes for years, and then when it came time to ship the manuscript to my publisher, I’d delete or tone down the MM stuff to the point where, I hoped, readers could barely tell anything “untoward” was going on. I’m overjoyed that MMF activities have finally risen to the top of the popularity pile! I thought I was the only one who liked reading/writing hot scenes involving two men. I always figured hey, if one man is sexy, aren’t two men double the fun? But I thought I was in the minority, so I self-censored these scenes. I was always sad to basically eviscerate a huge part of who these men were.

My “straight” sex scenes were always fairly steamy, anyway. This was a strange thing to discover in a historical fiction book—explicit sex. I had no idea it wasn’t normally done. “Well, they had steamy sex back then, didn’t they?” I was bowled over when a friend told me that one of the most popular themes in erotic romance these days is ménages with one woman and two men. Glory be to thee on highest! What a breakthrough! I can finally write what I love, keep my historical voice, and plumb the full depths of these complicated, ornery, and magnetic men…and the women who love them.

So I had 100,000 words of research notes all involving the California Gold Rush of 1848. In straight hist-fic that’s not unusual to get so detailed about your historical facts, even though of course you only wind up incorporating less than 1/10th of this knowledge. I think it does show through in the basic flavor of your setting to have such a thorough background in it. So after six or more months of research, my old publisher wasn’t interested in my intense tome about how the Mormons came to San Francisco in 1846. Not wanting to waste all that time and research, I decided I had enough information for a trilogy of erotic romances! Once I realized that, I just zoomed through the writing of Working the Lode. It immediately found a home at Siren Publishing, a pretty good match for everyone’s particular interests.

And it was fun. Seeing as how I now feel I know every detail of everything that ever happened in 1848-49 California, I rarely had to stop to look anything up in my notes. It was such a dramatic, tragic and colorful time, it just leaps off the page. Theodore Hittell wrote in his voluminous History of California: “There certain never was before...and never will be again thrown together under such peculiar and interesting circumstances, such a body of choice and pickled spirits.”

What is so attractive about MMF romances? My own opinion is that adding another man to the mix doesn’t constitute a threat to the heroine. Because there is no comparing physically or emotionally with a third man, a heroine will not feel that her position or standing is being usurped. In Working the Lode I wrote:

It was evident from the way Valenzuela had dumped her on the ground to grab Cormack that the debauchee favored men over women. That was fine. What woman would feel threatened when another man stroked and playfully swatted her man’s colossal erection? There was nothing to be jealous of when there was no competition between her and another man—in this case, Valenzuela. How could one compare her to Valenzuela? One could not. It would not matter if Valenzuela’s hair was silkier than hers, for example. Another woman, now, that was a different matter altogether. Zelnora would have blown the head off any other woman who dared put a fingertip on Cormack’s arm.

What is the attraction for women to these ménage romances? I like to think it’s simply a case of “the more, the merrier”! I am glad they are finally making their way to the forefront of the wonderful world of romance.

So what is Working the Lode about?

Going to California. It’s three thousand miles nearer to hell. 

Mountain man Cormack Bowmaker meets up with Zelnora Sparks on the eve of California’s great rush—the discovery of gold. Zelnora is fleeing from her mentor, the mighty businessman Brannagh. They are being shadowed by the most scandalous Spanish bandit in the frontier. Joaquin Valenzuela wants to rob them of their gold, but soon discovers a desire for much more. Californians call for the pickled head of Valenzuela in a jar, but his passion for the two Americans overpowers his zeal for mayhem. 

They band together in their quest for riches, love, and the good life. Bowmaker is a sharpshooter, his aim true. Valenzuela will slit the throat of anyone who wanders by. Zelnora knows where to find the gold. And Brannagh will do everything it takes to stop them. 

They are about to discover the frontier—within themselves.

You can purchase Working the Lode by clicking here.

And because Karen is so very nice she is giving away 1 pdf copy of Working the Lode to one lucky winner!

Just leave a comment with your email address in it to enter.  Contest will run until 11:59pm (pacific) on 1/4/11.  Winner will be announced on 1/5/11. Good luck!

What I Read Last Week

Wow I'm really behind!  I swear the day has totally gotten away from me. I just played Mario Kart on the Wii with my youngest for about an hour and I swear the thumb on my right hand won't stop twitching! lol

First of all I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas - if you celebrate it. If not, I hope you enjoyed having the day off! lol  It was fun around here.  The kids were very good so they got good stuff from Santa.  We went to my parents house about 1/2 hour away and met up with family there. We ate enough for a small country and then played games that were loud and raucous.  A good time was had by all.

My oldest daughter had a rough week after her fall but managed to muddle through (thank you all so much for your well wishes).  Her back is much better - hardly even a twinge any longer but she was down and out for a few days - then the poor thing got the flu and was throwing up profusely.  I swear, when it rains it pours - not a good week for her.  But it ended well with all the gifts!  And her 13th birthday is this Thursday so there'll be more gifts!  (Yes, it's hell on the pocketbook!)

So what did I read this past week?

I started with How to Marry A Duke by Vicky Dreiling.  I read this one for The Book Binge so I'll let you know when my review posts.  The story was about a Duke who was finally ready to take a bride in order to get an heir but he had specific things he needed in a bride.  How did he know who to choose?  And if he courted a woman to find out if she fit the bill then the scandal sheets would think he's going to marry her.  So he enlists the help of a matchmaker who basically starts an episode of The Bachelor.  It ended up being a good book.  4.25 out of 5 (releases 1/3/11)

Next up was Two is Twice as Nice by Emily Cale - another book for The Book Binge.  This one didn't really work for me.  The woman meets a great guy.  She's hesitant to start anything because she's been scarred inside and out by an auto accident and her fiance dumping her.  He gets past her defenses though and it seems pretty good.  Then the man introduces her to his twin brother who she had had sex with already, unknowingly.  Her acceptance of the whole sitch just turned me off. 2 out of 5

Next was Kindling Fire with Snow by Kate McMurray.  This was the story of two men who were in love with each other when they were in high school and meet up again.  Due to a snow storm they stay together in one of the men's apartments and the time they spend together help them see they belong together.  It was a really great book and one I'd recommend.  4 out of 5

Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart was next.  This was an intense book about a woman who is carjacked and when she has the opportunity to escape she doesn't take it and allows herself to be kidnapped.  It was a really great book with Hart's typical wonderful writing.  You can read my review here.  4.5 out of 5

Next was My Fair Succubi by Jill Myles.  This is book 3 in the Succubus Diaries and it's a good one!  All the same players are in it, Jackie, Noah, uber-hottie Zane (love him!), Remy and a few other newer players as well.  Jackie is trying to save her friend Remy from being possessed while trying to help the angels and keep her love life from falling apart.  It's crazy but it's good!  I read this one for The Book Binge as well so I'll keep you posted on the review. 4.25 out of 5 

I won Tooth and Nail by Mary Calmes from Stumbling Over Chaos (and I didn't even have to provide sexual favors for Randy to win!).  This is book 2 in Calmes's Warder series.  I didn't read book 1, His Hearth, but didn't feel like I was missing anything but not having read it.  Malic is a warder (demon hunter/fighter) but is taking unnecessary risks. His sentinel, the man in charge of him and he thinks that Malic wouldn't take such risks if he found his Hearth, the one man or woman who holds his heart and he won't hurt. You see when he has sex with someone they age. Yes, they eventually return to normal and feel like they've had a horrible flu but his hearth won't be like that.  Malic, who's 30, meets Dylan, who's 19 and though Malic is very attracted to him he won't do anything about it because Dylan is too young.  But Dylan isn't about to give up on the man he immediately thought of as "his" when he first saw him.  A really great book that I just was a joy to read.  4 out of 5

Last up was Must Love Kilts by Allie Mackay.  Yet another book I read for The Book Binge - can you tell I'm trying to catch myself up again? lol  This was about a woman who loved Scotland and then got to time-travel to there only she lands in the 13th century. It was a good book but the romance wasn't all that great, imho.  The cover of this one - I love. Big strapping kilted Scottish hottie?  Lemme at him! 3.5 out of 5 (releases 1/4/11)

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
*crickets chirping* lol

Happy Reading!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Merry Christmas to all of my friends all over the world!

This video was sent to me yesterday and it is just too good not to share. It's children from St. Paul's Church in Auckland, New Zealand acting out the Christmas story and I don't say this about many things but it's just damned precious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Review: Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart

Gilly Soloman has been reduced to a mothering machine, taking care of everyone and everything except herself. But the machine has broken down. Burnt out by the endless days of crying children and menial tasks, and exhausted from always putting herself last, Gilly doesn't immediately consider the consequences when she's carjacked. With a knife to her throat, her first thought is that she'll finally get some rest. Someone can save her for a change.

But salvation isn't so forthcoming. Stranded in a remote, snowbound cabin with this stranger, hours turn to days, days into weeks. As time forges a fragile bond between them, she learns her captor is not the lunatic she first believed, but a human being whose wasted life has been shaped by secrets and tragedy. Yet even as their connection begins to foster trust, Gilly knows she must never forget he's still a man teetering on the edge. One who just might take her with him.

While out with her children one day Gilly makes a decision that will change her life. She gets out of the car to go to the ATM and doesn’t take her kids with her. They’ve been crying and they’re whiney and it’s cold out and she just needs a moment of peace. She can see them, they’re fine. No harm, no foul. But after getting into the car and starting to drive in the busy parking lot she’s carjacked by a man with a knife who slides into her passenger seat. Later she finds out that he chose her because he didn’t know she had the kids with her because he was watching her at the bank. Simple decision – life changing event.

Gilly manages to save her children but ends up with the carjacker. When Gilly has the opportunity to escape she doesn’t take it. She’s in shock, yes, but when she thinks of the chaos that her life has become, the silence of the moment overwhelms her and she chooses to stay in the car. The carjacker, Todd, takes her to a remote cabin where, because it’s winter in Pennsylvania, it snows…and snows, and snows. Gilly and Todd are stuck in the cabin for 3 months with Gilly knowing that she will eventually have to get away and Todd knowing that he can never let her leave.

This is an incredible story of choices and how they affect our lives. The decisions we make, in times of depression, shock or silence in Gilly’s case, can change our lives in the most profound ways. I have to admit to thinking that Gilly was nuts. Like, really nuts. Certifiable. Why the hell would she not get away when she could? Go home, tell your loving yet oblivious husband that you are on the edge of going a little bit crazy and work out your life, do what you need to do. It seemed so simple to me, but that’s not what happens. When Gilly gets to the cabin she realizes what a complete and total idiot she’s been but she can’t change what’s happened. And after three months in a cabin alone with someone that you can’t bring yourself to totally hate what do you do? Another choice has to be made. I also found myself drawn into Todd and his poor sad life but yet couldn’t get over the fact that he didn’t plan on letting Gilly go.

The “relationship” between Todd and Gilly is a strange one. I don’t want to go into any detail because the story as it reveals itself is part of the attraction of this book. The pacing is slow (which really took some getting used to), but it’s meant to be that way to show you the day to day reality of Gilly and Todd alone in a remote cabin with no electricity and only themselves for company. The hope and the hopelessness, alternating back and forth, of the situation is what kept me turning page after page. The author leaves you in complete suspense as to the outcome of the story and you really have no idea how Gilly is going to get out of the situation and how it will end. When all was revealed I was quite surprised and found myself crying. It was pretty powerful.

This is not a romance. It’s a book about choices and how they can change our lives. It’s a story about seeing your life for what it really is and appreciating it for all of its quirks, difficulties, stresses and the chaos that it may become at times. This book focuses on Gilly and the stresses in her life with her kids and her husband but I don’t think that someone would need to have kids to understand. Job stress, marital issues, health issues, financial problems – these are all problems that life can throw at us and sometimes we just need to hang it all up for a while. It’s a book that I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I received this book from the publisher for review. 

Holiday Eating

I'm over at Dr. J's Book Place today and I'm talking about holiday eating.  
Here...have a cookie and then join me.

Review: Prelude to a Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

Lady Justine is willing to trade her good name, her reputation and her place in London's gossip-hungry ton to secure her father's release from prison. But when the notorious Duke of Bradford counters her offer with a proposal of marriage, the stakes grow higher still. For while the smoldering lord is famous for his conquests, the man is oblivious to both her devotion and her charms. And Justine is soon afraid she has wagered all for naught….

Justine is desperate. Her father’s observations of animals in South Africa were published in London and the King is not happy. You see he observed that humans aren’t that far removed from animals and if girl on girl and boy on boy animal action is A-ok in the wild, then why can’t it be ok for us humans. You can see where this might be a sore subject in the kingdom? Anyway, Justine needs her father out of prison and the only way she can think of is to offer her services, in the bedroom, to her father’s benefactor in exchange for the paying of the fines her father has incurred. Though it’s not what she really wants, she wants more from him, she does it anyway. When she gets a response from the Duke that asks for her hand in marriage she’s thrilled!

As the weeks move on toward the wedding Justine is a bit bothered by the fact that the Duke refuses to see her. She decides to take matters into her own hands and barges into his home one night. What the Duke confesses is beyond what she can comprehend. The Duke is obsessed with sex and he can’t be around her until the wedding or he may do something he’s not proud of.

The Duke has kept himself in seclusion in order to try and break his obsession with sex. But when he sees Justine, who he has always found incredibly attractive, he’s not sure he’ll be able to control himself, even after they’re married. The Duke has some serious issues to work through. Justine tries to help him by giving him the book she’s had to read called How To Avoid A Scandal. She gives him the book in an attempt to open his eyes to how he might act in a situation when he is unsure. But does the book help him at all?

I’ll tell you right off the bat that I had very mixed feelings about this book. While I liked the story I felt that there was too much going on for me to get really into all of it. We had the sex obsession issue, then there was another part that dealt with the Duke’s brother and his mistress, then another with her parents (which tied loosely into the mistress story). I thought dealing with the sex obsession alone would have been more than enough for the hero and heroine in this book to deal with and more than enough for me as a reader.

The Duke, Radcliffe, and Justine were great together, when they were together, but they were apart for a lot of the book. I didn’t feel that I got too invested in either of their lives although I did find myself pulling for them by the end of the book. I also felt that while the couple worked out their issues of love the sex obsession part of the book was too easily rectified. Now, what I know about sex addiction could fill a thimble but it seemed that the hero dealt with the situation rather well – except for one promise that was broken.

All of that being said I liked the book. I like the way Ms. Marvelle writes and even though the book wasn’t a fast paced read it was satisfying. I have book 2 in this series (what joins them as a series is the book they read about avoiding scandals) and look forward to seeing what happens next.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

I received this book for review from the publisher. 

What I Read Last Week

Rain, rain, go away, come again…never! Ug! It’s been raining here for the past 4 days and I’m done with it, thank you very much. But I guess it doesn’t matter what I want because it’s supposed to rain til Wednesday. Double ug.

So there’s never a dull moment in Tracy Land. Friday the fam all marched over to the taekwondo studio so that my youngest could take her belt test for her brown belt. My oldest had asked for money so that she could go buy her sister a bottle of water. My oldest ended up slipping on the rain soaked cement and went down hard. I ended up taking my oldest to the urgent care after we got her up (after 20 minutes of lying in the rain) and she got x-rays. Nothing broken, thank God, but they said she wrenched her back pretty badly and she has stretched ligaments all around her spine. She’s pretty immobile for the next few days and is going a bit crazy. I missed the brown belt test but she passed. Woohoo!

Let’s see – I was really behind on Christmas shopping and this past weekend was to be my catch up. With having to be home with the oldest and being at her beck and call I’m still really behind. Yeah, Christmas is in a few days. I’m totally screwed. lol Hey, at least I can laugh about it.

You’d have to have been living under a rock to not know that the DIK Winter Giveaway is afoot at the DIK blog. Every day there will be 2-3 posts with giveaways in each one. Each contest only runs until midnight pacific so leave a comment with your email address to enter.

Oh and LB Gregg’s new Romano and Albright book came out today – Trust Me If You Dare! Woofreakinhoo! Congrats Lisa! And btw – it’s fabulous! Really, really great. Love Dan, love Ce, loved the story. 5 out of 5

On to what I read this week…

First up was The Kiss Test by Shannon McKelden. A fun road trip friends to lovers story that I really liked. Yeah, there were things about each character that I would have changed but hey – they’re human, right? Anyway, if you’re interested about hearing more you can read my review here. 4 out of 5

Next was Taken by Midnight by Lara Adrian. This is book 8 in the midnight breed series and was Brock’s story. The hero’s name threw me out of the story every single time. It was just so 80’s! lol But despite that it was a good book. A very nice action/adventure story with a romance in it as well. 4 out of 5

No Place to Run by Maya Banks was my next read. I read this one for The Book Binge and it was really good. Two people who meet in Mexico – neither telling the other who they really are – have a steamy hot affair and all but fall in love. Five months later and the woman shows up on the man’s doorstep (or in the river in front of his house) and is pregnant and says that there are people after her and now he’s in danger as well. Another great action story with a nice romance as well. 4.5 out of 5  Now I just have to find book 1 since I liked book 2 so well. 

Prelude to a Scandal by Delilah Marvelle was next on the list. This was the story about a woman who is infatuated with a man who is a sex addict. She doesn’t realized he’s a sex addict but she ends up helping him deal with his obsession with sex. I’ll be posting my review soon. (I love the cover of this book – the color s are very eye catching) 3.5 out of 5

My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was Finding Zach by Rowan Speedwell. This was an intense book about a 20 year old who is found in a paramilitary raid in Venezuela. Turns out he’s a millionaire’s son that had been kidnapped 5 years prior. The horrors that he’s dealt with are unbelievable. The book mostly takes place 2 years after he’s found and how he’s dealing with life and the one man that he’s ever loved. A really good read. 4 out of 5

Another Tracy’s TBR Challenge read was She Wolf by Teresa D’Amario. The story is about a vet who finds out that she’s half wolven (basically a werewolf) and meets her mate. It’s the coming to terms with who and what she is as well as dealing with her mates issues of who and what he really is. It was a very good shapeshifter book. 4 out of 5

Overall a pretty darned good reading week!

My Book Binge reviews that have posted since last week:

Happy Reading!

The DIK Winter Giveaway has begun people!

The DIK Desert Island Giveaway starts today with an announcement of what's happening and how you play (plus we threw in a little extra giveaway because we love you).  

If you haven't checked out the details you don't want to miss them!  

Multiple books per day will be given away and then there will be a HUGE finale on January 2.

Don't miss the fun and excitement!

Go check out the all essential info that our DIK Lady Kris is giving you today and then check back every day!

Why are you still sitting there drinking coffee?  Click here.  Go. Yes, now.

Saturday Song

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas Songs:

Karen Carpenter has always been a favorite.  I know I'm showing my age but my oldest sister who is 5 years older than me had every single one of her albums and listened to them all the time.  How could I not listen? lol

Nat King Cole and the Christmas Song is another one that the kids and I are always listening to at Christmas time.

And to add a little humor....Jeff Dunham and Achmed - funny, and yes, there is a Christmas song in there!

Review: The Kiss Test by Shannon McKelden

Margo Gentry's life is perfect. She loves her job as a DJ for Manhattan's only country music station, and she has a great boyfriend who accepts her need to avoid marriage and tolerates her Elvis obsession-even the velvet Elvis painting in their bedroom.

But then it all falls apart. The radio station changes formats and fires all the DJs. Margo's boyfriend decides he wants kids and a house in the suburbs and kicks her to the curb. And to top it all off, her Mom is getting married-for the 11th time! -and expects Margo to be there as maid of honor.

With no job and no place to live, Margo has to bunk on the couch of her best friend, Chris, whose revolving bedroom door has played host to half the women in New York-at least, the ones who pass his "kiss test." Worse, he's insisting she attend her mother's wedding, and he's personally driving her cross-country to ensure she shows up.

Forget about surviving the road trip-can their friendship survive The Kiss Test?

So Margo’s perfect life goes into the proverbial toilet pretty fast. Within a few weeks she loses her job, her boyfriend (who’s pretty crappy & judgmental and she’s good to be rid of him if you ask me) and then of course her apartment, since she lived with her boyfriend. After the job loss but before the boyfriend breakup she decides that before she finds another DJ job this is her opportunity to have the vacation that she’s always wanted – a trip to Graceland.

After the apartment loss Margo heads to her friend Chris’s house to seek shelter but due to a freak accident falls down the stairs of his building. Because of the subsequent concussion she has dizziness issues and can’t drive. Chris offers to drive her on her trip but only if she’ll agree to attend her mothers 11th wedding and be nice about it. She agrees because the trip is important to her but she’s not happy at all.

Chris and Margo take off for Memphis and have a great time…up until they don’t. You see it seems like life is out to get Margo. It’s one of those “everything that can go wrong, does” scenarios and Chris doesn’t help at all with his womanizing and administration of the “kiss test” happening far too frequently for Margo’s liking. But she’s not sure why it upsets her so much. Could there be more to her feelings for Chris than best friends?

This was a fun but slightly bizarre book for me to read. It had fun and funny parts to it but it also had the bizarre and ridiculous at times as well. Some of the things that Margo does are just crazy and I wondered what she was thinking! But then she would act normal again. I don’t think I’m expressing myself very well here. There was truly so many things going on in this story you would have to read it to appreciate my lack of comprehensive verbage! lol

Basically Margo feels that the trip and an award that she won for being Best Country DJ are the things that are going to make her life A-ok. In that aspect I thought she was completely living in denial. She was smarter than she let on but I guess the downward spiral of her life in such a short time kind of shorted her brain a bit. Despite that I really liked her personality a lot. She was strong and independent and knew what she wanted in life – or at least thought she did.

Then there was Chris – her best friend. Chris was a business owner, a good and loyal friend and had been there for Margo since she was about 10 years old. He had made up this Kiss Test to try on women and basically it was a gauge to tell him if he wanted to take the kiss further – like into bed. The man was kind of a ho. lol Now Chris had never tried the test on Margo but one night on their trip she egged him on until he did and guess where they ended up? That’s right – in bed together. Margo then tried to keep their relationship on friendship ground but that wasn’t really working out.

In the end the book was about fear. Fear of failing, fear of the unknown, fear of having a bad life, fear of repeating others mistakes, fear of taking a chance on life. But Margo ended up coming to a few interesting conclusions about her life and I liked seeing the light bulbs going off in her head. The book was really good despite some craziness and some omg I can’t believe Chris just did that moments. I really do recommend the book if you want a fun road trip type read. The romance in the book is definitely not front and center for most of the book but the latter half of it had enough to sooth my romantic heart.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: How to Wed a Baron by Kasey Michaels

He is but a pawn in someone else's game. With no choice but to do the prince regent's bidding, Justin Wilde must marry—marry!—a woman not of his own choosing. And for the man notoriously referred to as the Bad Baron, marriage is the last thing he wishes to consider. Especially when the bride has the beauty of an angel but the devil's own temper….

Stunned to find herself married to a stranger, Alina vows to uncover the reason behind their forced union. Yet the more time she spends with her roguish husband, the less the past seems to matter. But when the truth behind their wedding at last emerges, will it strengthen their fragile bond—or shatter their lives forever?

Justin Wilde isn’t happy with the Prince Regent in general but when the man tells Justin that he has to marry a foreign woman he’s stunned. He really doesn’t have a choice though since he has an agreement with the Prince and must abide by it. You see 8 years prior he was in a duel and killed the man under strange circumstances. He was exiled and though he had been working for the crown as an assassin it took eight long years before he was pardoned and could return to England, the land he loved. Part of the pardon was that he would pretty much be at the Prince’s beck and call.

Now he’s to marry this woman and he’s told that he needs to keep her safe from harm as there’s someone out to kill her. When he meets Alina he is knocked speechless. If he didn’t know any better he’d say it was love at first sight but after talking to her just a couple of times he decides to protect her from all harm and makes some crazy decisions regarding their marriage, his life and the Prince Regent.

Now the story, for me, started off in a abrupt manner. I was liking Justin just fine until he met Alina and had only talked to her twice when he went off half cocked to talk to the Prince. I didn’t understand this at all and even though I had only met Justin briefly it seemed deeply out of character for him. Now, that being said the abruptness of the first part of the book soon faded into a pretty great story between Alina and Justin. Justin was so very hard inside – even though he tried to act the fool on the outside – and Alina saw right through it from the start. She seemed quite child-like at first but soon started moving into more of an intelligent woman. She really tried to bring out the true Justin and I liked seeing the two of them together. It was a pretty intense affair between the two of them even though they were separated from time to time in the book.

The suspense part of the story was pretty confusing at times, I must admit, but I think I liked it all the more because of its lack of simplicity.

Overall I really liked the book and think I’ll read more from this author in the future (this was my first time reading Kasey Michaels).

Rating: 4 out of 5

What I Read Last Week

Happy Monday! Hope you’re all rested from your weekend. I’m not, but I hope you all are. lol

Let’s see we put up the tree and trimmed part of the inside of the house on Saturday. We usually put up a 4’ tree in the kitchen/dining area and that’s where the kids have the “fun” tree. They put up all their silly, crazy, homemade ornaments with a big Santa hat on the top of it. It’s great, really, and they love putting it up. Except I can’t find the friggin ornaments! I’ve had them in the same box as the ornaments for the tree in the living room for a thousand years but I obviously deviated from the norm last year and now can’t find a thing! Ug! lol

Then yesterday I spent a few hours on the computer getting things ready for the DIK Winter Break giveaway that we’re having starting the 19th. That was a lot of work but let me tell you, it’s gonna be great! It’ll run from the 19th of December until the 2nd of January and LOTS of stuff is being given away so be sure and check every single day during that time. There will be multiple posts per day so keep checking!

My oldest is still having eating issues but we’ve talked some more about underlying issues and they may be winding down. She was much better this weekend so we’ll see how this week goes. On a funny note with her…we were talking about sex stuff and you know, how she should avoid it at all costs, condoms, etc. We’ve had the talk before but something she said brought it up again. She was, of course, completely embarrassed about talking about it and said, “Mom, we don’t have to have the sex talk again, I’m not gonna have sex until I’ve been married for 2 years!” LOLOL Omg I tried so hard not to laugh that I excused myself and had to go into the bedroom and giggle to myself for a few moments. I went back, hugged her and told her that it was the best plan I’d ever heard. *sigh* Funny, funny girl.

Anyway, on to what I read this week – as I said last week, I wasn’t focused enough to review last week but I still read!

First up was The Princess in His Bed by Lila Dipasqua that I read for The Book Binge. This was another set of fairy tale adaptations that included The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling and The Princess and the Pea type stories. They were quite good and I enjoyed reading it. My review has posted over at TBB so you can go here to read it if you’d like. 4.25 out of 5

My Tracy’s TBR challenge read for the week was Bound by Deception by Christa Paige. This is book one in the Blood Vine series and though it was short it was pretty good. It was about a race of people who were long lived and the men turn into vampires. The women have to find their true mate or end up aging as humans do and dying. Anna kind of gets duped into being with Dimitri but he knows that he’s her true mate. There’s a man in the story who feels that Anna should have been his and takes matters into his own hands. It was a cute story with a different take on the whole vamp thing. I liked it. I just need to put book two on my ereader now. lol 4 out of 5

Christmas at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas was my next read and I loved it. It got such mixed reviews when it released that I wasn’t certain what I should expect. Well I loved it. Really loved it. The story follows bachelor Mark as he “inherits” his niece after his sister dies. The little girl hasn’t spoken a word since her mom died. He’s not sure what to do with her so ends up moving in with his brother to share the responsibility. He’s dating a woman but he’s not feeling the love. Six months after the little girl starts to live with him they meet Maggie who runs the local toy store. She has her own baggage because of being widowed at such a young age and not being sure how to deal with it. Mark and Maggie and Holly end up making an unlikely family. I have to say that I liked both the hero and the heroine, Mark’s brothers, Maggie’s family, the emotion, the humor and everything else about the book. It touched all of the different places in my heart - I just wanted it to be longer! lol Now, I do have to say that I got this from the library - if I had paid the HC price for it I might have felt differently because of the length of the book. But since I didn’t - it was great! 5 out of 5

Next was A to Z by Marie Sexton. This was the story of video store owner Zach and Angelo who eventually becomes his employee and so much more. But Angelo has issues that he has to work through and it’s not always smooth sailing between the two men. I really liked both the characters in this book. It had alternating first person pov from chapter to chapter but it flowed really well. Sometimes when that happens I tend to like one person’s pov better than the other but not so with this one. I also very much liked Angelo’s inner thoughts and views on some things. For all of his hard shell on the outside he was quite a tender person on the inside. Good story. 4.5 out of 5

Next up was How to Wed a Baron by Kasey Michaels. This was more or less an arranged marriage story but they don’t actually get married. It was about a hard man who is softened by a woman and I really liked it. I’ll review this on Wednesday so stay tuned.

Last but not least was Prince Charming Doesn’t Live Here by Christine Warren. This is an expansion of her original ebook release Faer Fetched. It has very little resemblance to the original story, however, except a sex scene or two – even the hero’s description changed quite drastically. I read this one for The Book Binge as well but I’m sad to say that I didn’t love it…or even like it that much. 2 out of 5

My Book Binge Reviews that posted this past week

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

Yes, tis the season for Christmas songs and since it's only a couple of weeks away ( oh boy!) I thought I'd play a few of my favorites for you until Christmas.  This is U2 singing Baby Please Come Home.  I originally heard it on A Very Special Christmas Album in 1990.

Place review "here" (nsfw)

Yes, it's true...this is the space that a review should be living right now.  Do you see one?  Yeah, me neither!  

It's been a nutty, nutty week and though I've been reading it feels like my brain is all over the place and I can't focus.  Between my new plaything (no, not a man, a phone) and twitter I can't friggin concentrate! lol  Even my hubby mentioned last night that I was playing with my phone instead of reading.  Ok, last night wasn't playing, it was working to get my email working on it after 3 hours of frustration but if he wants to call that playing?  Well, ok. :) And yes, the solution ended up being something so simple - you'd think the tech support and the people at the Sprint store would know this by now but apparently not.

I did finish A to Z by Marie Sexton last night and really, really liked it.  I thought that Zach and Angelo fit so well together and I just loved some of the inner thoughts that the men had - especially Angelo.  Like when he was viewing Jared and Matt (from Promises) and looking at the different way they love each other?  Oh man - made my romantic heart go pitter pat.  Good stuff.  I gave it a 4.5 out of 5

So other than that I got nothin. I thought I'd post a few playthings (no, not phones, men) for your viewing pleasure.  Enjoy them.  I promise to be more on the ball next week.  No, really, it could happen. Stop laughing.


And the Winner is...

Ack I'm behind!  So sorry the winner of Lipstick in Afghanistan book giveaway didn't get posted yesterday!  But I'm here now to say that the winner is:


Congratulations!  You left your email address so I'll email you get the book to you asap.

Preteen/Teen Food Issues

This is a post for bloggers with kids - or anyone with good advice, actually!

While I'd love to say that the food issues are mine - they're not.  They are my 12 year olds.  She eats like a horse.  Seriously.  At meals she can down more than my hubby - it's mind boggling.  But the issues that she's having - and that I'm having with her is the fact that she sneaks food and then lies about it.

Latest example: Yesterday I got home and the bag of Doritos (which we never have in the house so I understand the huge appeal) was 3/4 gone.  I asked my daughter about it and she blamed it on my dad (who picks my kids up from school and stays until he takes the youngest to Taekwondo).  I highly doubted that my dad - who has heart problems and eats pretty darned healthy - would have eaten them but I called him just to double check.  Nope, he hadn't eat a one.  So there I am trying to explain to my daughter that it's not ok to eat that many chips in one sitting, ever!  She still denied it.  There have been many times that things like this has happened only with other food items.

Lately whenever I clean the house, so normally once a week, I'm finding food wrappers stuck in the oddest places.  

She seems to be doing this mostly when my dad takes my youngest to her TKD class on Mon, Tues, & Wed.  She's at home by herself during that time for about 1.5 hours.  But I have noticed other times as well.

Frankly I'm at a loss.  My kids have always asked if they could get a snack when they wanted one so the fact that she feels like she needs to sneak is a bit beyond my comprehension.  I know she's a growing girl - and she is growing fast, but she eats more than enough along with her normal healthy snacks to not be starving, imho.

My husband is ready to put a lock on the pantry door but I really don't want to do that.  Has anyone had this problem with their preteen/teen (she's 12...will be 13 at the end of the month) and if so, what did you do about it?

Andy FYI - no, that's not my pantry in the picture....*sigh* if only.

What I Read Last Week

So a pretty interesting week here in Tracyland. Well, really more of an interesting weekend.

First there’s my oldest. You remember last week I told you that she had her first boyfriend? Yeah? Well, he broke up with her the next day. I know! Little shit. lol Nah, he was nice about it but said that he thought they should just be friends. Ok, I understand that because they have been really good friends, but really? He hardly even saw her on Monday after asking her out on Sunday night and he already wanted to break up? Well, she of course, cried and cried like the world was coming to an end *sigh* poor thing. But…the story continues…this past Saturday she went to a birthday party for 2 of her friends and lo and behold the boy (yes, the same boy!) asked her out again! She accepted and was thrilled! Now during the party my daughter was acting rash (I know, how odd for a 12 year old) and she tripped, fell and hit her head. She was unconscious for about a minute (she’s absolutely fine now) but the “boyfriend” called, identified himself by name and as my daughter’s boyfriend and told me what had happened. I went to pick her up and the boy introduced himself, shook my hand – he was just very nice. On Sunday, he broke up with her. What. The. Fuck? My poor daughter was even more distraught this time and I just hugged her and told her that it was going to be ok. I’m not sure she believed me. She wasn’t forthcoming as to his reasons this time but I told her that if he asks again – at any time – she is to treat him like drugs and JUST SAY NO! My poor baby. It’s hard being 12.

On a happy note, I got an early Christmas present – a new phone! It’s a very cool LG Optimus and it has a fun touch screen (which I’m still getting used to with my big Fred Flinstone fingers) and lots of apps and it’s a complete time suck! I love it. And since Kris finally badgered talked me into joining twitter (and no, I have no effin clue what the hell I’m doing) and my phone is the only way I’ve been able to get on it - it’s great! My youngest also adores the phone since I downloaded the paper toss app – she played on that darned thing for nearly 2 hours last night. I kept saying – don’t you have anything better to do and she’d just giggle and say NO!

Now on to what I read this past week:

First up was Tempted by Fate by Kate Perry. This is book 3 in the Guardians of Destiny series. I really liked the hero in this book, Rick, who was just great. I’d read about him in the last book and he’d grabbed my attention then so it was good read about him and still like him! lol I read this one for The Book Binge and you can read my review here. 4 out of 5

Next was Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis. This is book one in her Lucky Harbor series and I really liked it. The story follows Maddie, a woman who has been beat down by life and literally beaten by her former fiancé but heads north to Washington from LA when she inherits a “resort” from her mother. There she meets her two estranged sisters as well as local carpenter, Jax. Jax wants Maddie from minute one but Maddie holds herself back and has to learn to trust. The book is about the romance with Jax as well as Maddie developing relationships with her sisters. I really liked this one a lot. I thought it was on it’s way to a 5 star read but it started getting a little too angsty for my liking. Still, a very good read. 4.25 out of 5

My next read was Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath. This was about a wicked earl and his passions. Just kidding. Well, not really, it kind of was but it was more about a husband and wife finally falling in love after A) a big mis and B) three years of separation. You can read my review here. 4 out of 5

Next was another read for The Book Binge called Awakened by a Kiss by Lila Dipasqua. This book has 3 fairy tale adaptations that I really enjoyed. The stories were based on Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots and were set in 17th century France. There were all good stories. I’ll let you know when my review posts. 4 out of 5

Winter Wishes by Vivan Arend, Vivi Andrews and Moira Rogers was my next read. This book had 3 very different Christmas paranormal stories in it and all were pretty good. You can read my review here. I rated the stories all individually in my review here but overall I think I’d say it’s a 4 out of 5

My Tracy’s TBR challenge read for the week was Mistletoe and Mayhem by Christine Ridgway, Katherine Hall Page, Judi McCoy & Joanne Pence. Yes, another anthology – I seemed to read a lot of them this week. This one was lent to me a year ago at Christmas and I never got to it so I figured it’s about time. There were four stories all Christmas related that each had a bit of a mystery in them. They were all cute but none of them knocked my socks off, unfortunately. 3.25 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that have posted since last week:

Happy Reading!

Review: Winter Wishes by Vivian Arend, Vivi Andrews and Moira Rogers

Tangled Tinsel By Vivian Arend

She's the cat's meow, and he's ready to pounce!

Five miles of leather-clad leg is all it takes to lure Kyle Branegan out from his carefully hidden lifestyle as part of the Cougar Corp, a secret branch of the Shifter Enforcer League. He's hoping for a night of fun and frolic, cat-style, no strings attached. With a sultry swing of her hips, Eloise Scott tangles him up in her ball of tricks, and just when he thinks he's about to get lucky, she cuffs him-naked-to her bed.

An undercover cop in the human police force, El's been given a top-secret mission to keep the big cat under her paw until he's needed to testify in court in the New Year. Her decision to take him home for a quiet Christmas in her sleepy hometown turns out to be far more interesting than she expected. Her parents are suddenly rich, her old boyfriend is sniffing around and all six-feet-plus of sexy cougar male is sleeping in her bed.

And that's before they announce their fake engagement...

El decides to take Kyle to her family's house for the Christmas holiday because A) she's supposed to make an appearance and B) she thinks it's the best place to hide him.  Not a lot of media attention where she's from.  When she gets there, however it seems that her parents' life has changed considerably.  Instead a bungalow there's a huge mansion and they now seem to know lots of important and influential people.  It's not what she expected but she wants to make the most of it.  While she's there though she finds that Kyle is a much different person than who she thought he was and they seem to get closer together.  

But she doesn't want to get closer and then have to give up her cop job and he is still investigating a case through his secret unit and what he and El find isn't what they expected or want to see.

I liked this story for the most part.  I really like the way Vivian Arend writes with her hot smokin sex as well as her sense of humor and that was in huge supply in this story.  But I found by the end of the story that there were some issues that were skimmed over and I found myself frustrated.  (Kyle's uncle seemed totally different to Kyle than he was growing up but it wasn't explained why.  The whole bad guy issue was a little fuzzy as well and all the players involvement (I don't want to say who's involvement and give anything away)). 

Overall I found this a fun, light read that had lots of smokin smexin in it. 

3.5 out of 5

No Angel By Vivi Andrews

When Sasha's boyfriend, Jay, is sucked through a fiery vortex to Hell, an angel reveals that Sasha's been chosen as the Champion of Virtue in the battle for his immortal soul. As a perennial offender on Santa's naughty list, Sasha can't believe she's anyone's idea of a girl fighting on the side of the angels. But if she doesn't save Jay, he'll be stuck in Hell forever!

Jay-aka Jevroth-isn't surprised to find himself back in Hell. His visa to visit the mortal plane expired three months ago, but to steal more time with Sasha he's been ignoring his mother's demands that he come home to spend time with his new stepfather: Lucifer.

Sasha has until dawn on the twenty-fifth of December to fight the Legions of Hell and rescue Jay, or be trapped there for eternity herself. But now she must decide if the lying son-of-a-demon is even worth saving...

Sasha's just positive that her boyfriend of 6 months, Jay, is about to break up with her, and on Christmas Eve!  He's been acting funny and she can't figure out why.  

Jay knows that he has to tell Sasha that he's half demon but he just doesn't know how to go about it.  He's totally in love with her too and he's afraid that she'll kick him to the curb when she finds out.  Jay doesn't get that chance as he's sucked into hell right before the big reveal.  

Sasha takes it well though (better than I would've) and is then visited by an angel (they're "out" in this world) and told that she can save Jay but she has to do it before dawn on Christmas Day.  Well, that's not a big order is it?  Yikes!

But when Sasha gets all the facts she's not sure that she wants to save Jay...or that she even could.

I really enjoyed this story as well.  Sasha had such a wonderful sarcastic sense of humor that I just loved.  She knew what she wanted but was afraid to let herself truly care and it was touching to see her come to grips with it all.  

4 out of 5

Freeze Line By Moira Rogers

She can't survive in his world; he can't stay sane in hers

A twenty-first century ice age dulls the magic that emanates from the earth. Shane Sullivan is a lone wolf above the freeze line. He has no desire to join the packs that range closer to the border, where feral instincts can turn a man into a monster. Not until the winter solstice, when he stumbles across a dying witch who needs his help to get back to her people-and her magic-in the south.

Nadia is a powerful woman in her own world, but she's been drained by her escape from captivity in a northern lab. She knows it's foolhardy to trust a werewolf, but he's her only chance to survive the vast white wilderness. The farther south they travel, the harder it is for Shane to keep the beast within under control, and as their mutual attraction intensifies, Nadia's no longer sure she wants him to.

Shane finds Nadia wandering in the freezing cold, takes pity on her and takes her back to his home so that she can thaw out.  Over a couple of days they talk and Shane agrees to get Nadia back below the freeze line so that her magic, which is kind of freezing her from the inside out, can help her live.

Shane and Nadia become closer as they make the trek through the ice and snow covered lands but Shane feels that he can't let himself be who he is because if he does he'll lose control of his werewolf and possibly hurt Nadia.  Nadia finds herself falling in love with Shane but how can she be with him. He needs to be in a cold place that restricts the magics flowing through the earth and she needs them to survive.  Besides that, can Nadia see that Shane is wonderful in all of his forms?

This was a post-apocalyptic type story and it was my favorite of the bunch.  It was a meeting of minds as much as a romance and though I love the sigh worthy type romances I appreciated this one just as much for the starkness of its reality.  It wasn't just a survival of their environment, it was also the coming to terms with who and what they were and finding a way to survive their attraction and love and make it work.  I'd definitely like to read more stories set in this world.

Just a well written story that I very much enjoyed reading. 

4.5 out of 5

This book releases from Carina Press on Dec. 6