Review: How The Marquess Was Won by Julie Anne Long

The Scandal Sheets call him Lord Ice.

Ruthless, cold, precise, Julian Spenser, Marquess Dryden, tolerates only the finest—in clothes, in horseflesh, in mistresses. And now he’s found the perfect bride, the one whose dowry will restore his family’s shattered legacy and bring him peace at last: the exquisite heiress Lisbeth Redmond.

She's not afraid to play with fire...

But one unforgettable encounter with Lisbeth’s paid companion, Phoebe Vale, and the Marquess is undone: this quiet girl with the wicked smile and a wit to match is the first person to see through the icy façade to the fiery man beneath. But their irresistible attraction is a torment as sweet as it is dangerous: for surrendering to their desire could mean losing everything else they ever wanted.

Phoebe has a fascination with Marquess Dryden even though she’s never met him. She reads about him in the broadsheets all the time from Sussex and feels she knows all about him. When the man himself walks into the town and they end up at the same house party Phoebe soon realizes there’s much, much more to Julian Spenser than anyone knows.

Julian is…surprised by Phoebe Vale – her intelligence, her bluntness and most of all her ability to actually listen to him and see him for who he is. Against his will and better judgment he becomes smitten with the school teacher who was born in one of the worst parts of London and is almost as far from an aristocrat as you can get. When he propositions her to become his mistress she realizes that while Phoebe may know Julian he doesn’t know her at all. This doesn’t stop the two from thinking of each other constantly.

Phoebe ends up in London at the request of her charge’s friends and is taken to balls and almost swept off her feet by the attention she gets. Unfortunately the attention is also from Julian which frankly pisses Lisbeth right off as she has her sights set on Julian herself.

Matters come to a shocking revelation when it’s revealed exactly WHY Phoebe is receiving all the attention. Phoebe is shocked and Julian is disgusted and both of them realize exactly what they want out of life – after a night spent in each others arms.

Let me start my portion of the review with the statement that “Julie Ann Long is now an auto-buy author for me.” I fell in love with her writing when I read What I Did For A Duke (my first read of her work) and she’s clinched it with this book. I love her characters, I love her writing – her dialogue draws me in and keeps me there - and her stories are interesting and consistent.

The main characters in this story were fascinating and I loved reading about them. Not only their backgrounds but what they were doing now with their lives and what they planned to do with them in the future. I saw them each grow from knowing each other and discovering not only things about the other but things about themselves that they hadn’t known. Their banter and conversations kept me enthralled throughout the story.

This is a definite keeper for me and loved almost every minute of it. While I hated the nasty actions of the ton and made my heart ache for the heroine I would read it again and again just to see the relationship played out all over for Phoebe and Julian. Good stuff.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Julie Anne Long
Avon Books

Saturday Song

This has been playing non-stop at my house and I just can't help but dance and shuffle when I hear it!  Here's Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO!  Enjoy!

Just Call Me Night-Owl...with Cat Grant

Please give a warm Tracy's Place welcome to Riptide Publishing author, Cat Grant!

I find it difficult to write during the day, even on weekends. Errands, housework, all this other stuff keeps vying for my attention. I wish I were better at multi-tasking, but my writing brain just won’t focus until I have everything else out of the way.

Most of my books were written between 10 PM and 2 or 3 in the morning. I’ll sit on my couch with my cat curled up next to me and let it rip. It’s so nice and quiet at that time of night – no phones ringing, nothing to distract me from the story at hand.

It sounds funny – even a bit schizo – to admit that my characters talk to me, but they do. In fact, when the story’s flowing, I feel more like a transcriber than an author. I’ve been known to carry on conversations with them too, so it’s no doubt a good thing that I don’t haul my laptop down to Starbucks to write!

Wish I could write faster, but about a thousand words a day – two thousand if I’m really rolling – is about all I can manage. I’m one of those pesky word nerds who’ll sit there staring at the page until I find the precise right way to phrase something. I also tend to edit as I go, which saves time later, but slows down the initial drafting process.

Wish I could outline too, but actually writing down my plot ahead of time sucks all the magic out of it for me. However, that’s not to say I don’t plan out my stories. In fact, I do TONS of brainstorming with a couple of my best writer-buddies before I get started. We work well together, filling in for each other’s weak points. Then, once I’m so excited about the story my fingers are literally tingling, I know it’s time to get to work.

For good or ill, this is my process. It’s done well by me for the past 13 books, so I really can’t complain. :)

Cat Grant
Riptide Publishing

Bryl R. Tyne is in the House!

Please help me welcome Bryl R. Tyne to Tracy's Place  - another great Riptide Publishing author.

What draws you to romance? Hope. I've been scorned for my idealism.

Do you prefer alpha/omega relationships in stories, or alpha/alpha relationships, and why? While I prefer to write about two strong men, when reading, I don't mind a different dynamic as long as it is believably written. If you're going to write about a whimpering, no common sense, child-like fool who needs "rescued by his white knight"—Ugh. Not for me. Men are men, despite their sexuality. But even men, who might not be as society dictates masculine when depicted in fiction, do not have to be so pathetic that I slap a TSTL sticker on their forehead and send them on their way.

Have you ever written outside the romance genre? Yes. I've written some LGBT Fantasy fiction, The Zagzagiel Diaries.

What’s the sexiest feature on a man to you? And on a woman? The sexiest feature on a man is his mouth. I have no preference other than a smile will get you much further with me than not. On a woman, I like nice legs, and it helps if they can walk gracefully in heels. Definite turn on.

What’s your own sexiest feature? To know me is to love me… Now, if more of my friends would just take me up on the offer!

By night you’re a caped crusader, romance writer. What do you do by day? I work in the production side of the print industry. 

What’s your earliest childhood memory? Two years old. One of my Sunday school gloves following me down the hallway at night (like "Thing" from the Addams Family!) when I got up to get a drink of water.

What was the very first romance you ever read? How old were you? Were you being naughty and sneaking it off the shelf before you really even knew what sex was?  The first and ONLY romance I ever read was when I was 14, and one of my friends told me I should read it to learn about sex… all I remember is being pissed because the hero died. Never read another one until three years ago when I discovered gay fiction.

How did it make you feel, and is that what hooked you on the genre? Like I said, it irritated me and so turned me off to the genre completely at that point.

Who are your latest crushes (celebrity, book character, or otherwise)? If I can catch you, I'm crushing, no doubt. Seriously though, I think Jack Black is hot (There's a lot to be said for the pleasingly rotund!).

Do you ever keep those people in your mind when writing your own works? Sometimes, but it depends on the story. If I'm writing a serious story, Jack is not coming anywhere near it. I'd save him for a comedy.

What’s your favorite hobby outside of writing? I don't have time for "hobbies," but when I need to unwind, I'd say I most likely read.

What would constitute your own personal happily ever after? Having all my bills paid off and not having to work so I can write full-time.

Do you own an e-reader? No.

Are you a book hoarder? Yes. I can't go into a Goodwill, a Salvation Army, or stop by a yard sale without buying as many books as I can afford that day. I currently have my study walls lined with stuffed full bookshelves.

What’s the one question you wish people would ask you when you tell them you’re a writer? Can I get your number?

If you were doomed to spend the rest of your life on an island with only one book, one person, one food (coconuts and fish aside), and one object from the modern world (computer, deodorant, vibrator, etc.), what would they be? Book: Scorpion by Aleks Voinov; Person: J.R.; Food: Potatoes; Technology: None.

Where are your favorite online hangouts? What are your daily must-stop blogs and websites? I don't have time to read all the blogs I'd like to, but I have their RSS feeds in my Google reader. Goodreads has a few groups I check out from time to time: Riptide Publishing, Aleks Voinov, Josh Lanyon, and the M/M Romance groups.

What’s your current book list and where can we buy them? You can find all my books listed on Goodreads here: and they're available from the publishers, Amazon, OmniLit, and other third-party retailers.

Here's the blurb for my Riptide release, Divinity:

Martin Hayes has found the perfect job for a 200-year-old vampire. As the late-shift security guard for Spire Industries, he works and hunts by night and sleeps by day, hidden away in the unused cellar. Life is all so easy—nights bleeding away, weeks and months passing . . . until a new janitor disturbs the peace. Martin finds himself consumed by memories (or are they?) of red hair, freckled skin, and a man he knows but doesn't know.

Dylan Mesmer isn’t just a hot, freckled, red-haired janitor. He’s altogether too composed around Martin and never surprised by Martin’s supernatural abilities. In fact, he seems to have a few of his own. And why does he keep feeding Martin orange lollipops?

A healthy vampire has no use for candy, yet Martin cannot resist the lure. It seems he’s being baited, but to what end? And what about those visions that assail him whenever he thinks of Dylan? Their story is centuries old, but this time around, Dylan’s playing for nothing less than immortality. Eternal life—and eternal love, after a sort—is within his reach, but can he convince Martin to change his ways and commit? They may never find their way beyond the anger and the lies, but there's no denying the draw between them, and that's very much worth fighting for—even among themselves.

You can read an excerpt and purchase Divinity at Riptide Publishing.

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Please Welcome Damon Suede to the Blog!

I've been privileged enough to be able to host several of the authors during the Riptide Publishing Grand Opening Party Blog Tour. For the next few days I'll be hosting 3 more great authors - today I'm lucky enough to have Damon Suede here.

What’s the one thing readers can always count on when they pick up a book written by you?
BOLDNESS! Intense emotion, rich language, three-dimensional characters, persuasive worldbuilding, dark humor, and as one reader just put it “eyelash-frying sex scenes.” Those qualities get the most comment from readers, and (not surprisingly) those are the exact things that I want in romances I read. I write the kinds of books I like to read. I want meat on the bone. I like heftier stories and complicated relationships. I expect magic from my men. I enjoy happy endings that feel earned and characters transformed by love.

If you could be any mythical/fantasy creature what would you be and why?
Vampire… or any immortal nightwalker: fey, dæmon, shifter. Reasons? I cannot abide the sun and love nighttime; in fact all of my favorite activities take place when the sky is dark overhead. :) I like things cool, dim, and dry. I have an intense oral fixation and tend to be pretty bitey anyway. (I was born with extended canines actually!) I’m aggressive, intense, opinionated, and observant... so I’d make a good predator. Plus with all that time on my hands, I’d be able to read and write FOREVER. Heaven.

What do you think is sexy?
Authenticity. Nothing is sexy that isn’t comfortable in its own skin. We think of cats and horses and wolves as sexy because they inhabit their bodies so fully and gracefully. And it is a hard lesson to learn, because mostly our society teaches us to resent our authentic selves and wish for things we cannot or should not have in order to sell us shit we don’t want.

This of course explains why some nudity is sexy and other nudity is empty or chilling or sad: what attracts us isn’t the naked flesh, but the person being comfortable in their flesh. That confidence, control, and ease helps dancers shine and courtesans ruin empires. Their stillness invites attention, and their motion completes space rather than jarring it. Southerners used to say that “a gentleman looks comfortable in any room, and a lady always knows when to leave.” If you look at the sexiest celebrities, the memorable “beauties” throughout history, what they share is the sense of total presence: being here now-ness. It’s why eros and thanatos are so connected, death erases us and sex insists on just how present we actually are at every moment.

Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Though new to M/M, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He’s won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. Get in touch with him at


What I Read Last Week

As I said yesterday...Merry Christmas.  I hope you all had a great day and got everything your little hearts desired.  I had a loud yet wonderful day with my family and we ate and played Fact or Crap and ate some more and opened gifts and laughed and it just showed me how much I love them. The girls were quite happy with their day as my oldest got the iPod nano she wanted and my youngest got a trampoline - both from Santa of course...among other things.

I was off today and thank heavens I was because it's taken me all freakin day to recover from Saturday and Sunday. lol  Between getting everything ready and cleaning the house for guests I was exhausted! lol  

I didn't read much last week and mostly shorter books which I think is pretty normal for me for the week before Christmas but this is what I read:

Unshakeable Faith by Lisa Worrall was first.  I reviewed this last week.  It was the story of a bartender and the amnesiac he takes into his life and his heart then loses when the man recovers his memory.  The book was very good and I really liked it.  You can read my review here. 4 out of 5

Next up was One Wicked Night by Kelly Jamieson that I read for The Book Binge.  This had Tyler and his best friend and fuck buddy, Nick, returning to their home town for Tyler's sister's wedding.  They run into Kaelin who is considered a "very good girl" a moniker that Kaelin despises.  She initiates a threesome and falls for the men.  It was a good menage story but had some odd aspects to it as well.  I'll let you know when my review posts. 3.75 out of 5

Apparently I was into reading books that began with One and ended with Night because my next read was One Perfect Night by Rachael Johns.  This was about a woman who ends up playing the part of a girlfriend to her bosses family so that they'll stop bugging him about dating since he's a widower.  The pair end up in bed but then their casual affair turns into so much more.  I really liked the book but the hero really bugged me at first.  It was the story of discovery for the man but it took so long it was a bit frustrating.  I really liked the heroine and wanted her to be happy so in the end it all worked out for me. lol 3.5 out of 5

The Cross of Love by Barbara Cartland was a free download from All Romance eBooks last year (I think) so I picked it up.  The story was about the vicar's daughter who becomes the housekeeper for the local Earl after her father dies.  They fall in love but must defeat the evil man who is determined to marry his daughter to the Earl.  It was a cute, kind of cheesy read with a lot of melodrama but a short and quick. 3 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Holiday Kisses by Jaci Burton, Shannon Stacey, HelenKay Dimon and Alison Kent

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!! 

Merry Christmas!

I'm not good at sending out Christmas cards these days but please know I'm thinking of all of you. Thank you to those who have sent me cards and emails wishing me a happy holiday, you put a huge smile on my face every time I open one of them.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday with friends and family.

Saturday Song

Well it's Christmas Eve and I have yet another Christmas song for you.  I actually woke up this morning singing this one in my head so it was a no brainer as to which song I would post today. :)

I hope you're all spending a nice day at home today in anticipation of the holiday rather than frantically racing to shop at the last minute.  Yeah, that would have been me but I managed to get it all done last night - yay me.

Anyway, enjoy Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song.

An Unusual Gift For Those With A Sense of Humor

Are you done shopping for Christmas?  Are you stuck on the one person who likes unusual things because they are somewhat unusual themselves?  Well as I've been perusing the internet for gifts I've come across a few strange things that may just be what you're looking for.

First we have the Space Monolith Action Figure - seriously, how cool is this?  Right up there with....air.  Ok, maybe that's taking it a bit far but it's pretty funny.

Deep in the heart of Aisle 7 (the action figure aisle), all throughout the 70's, 80's, and 90's, something waited. No one knew it was there, until toy stores began their turn of the century renovations. Then the Monolith Action Figure was discovered. What was it for? Where did it come from? Why wouldn't its barcode scan? No one knew. And no one knows to this day. (source:

Next we have Canned Unicorn Meat - I've eaten a lot of meat in my day but Unicorn meat wasn't in there any where.  I'm thinking this rates right up there with Haggis. Just sayin.

Radiant Farms Canned Unicorn Meat Specifications
  • 14 ounces of delicious unicorn meat, canned for your convenience
  • Imported from a small independent cannery in County Meath, Ireland
  • Crunchy horn bits in every bite - an excellent source of Calcium
  • Tastes like rotisserie chicken but with a hint of marshmallow sweetness
  • Easily spreadable for sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres, and more
  • Sparkly meat lends the unmistakable air of class and sophistication to your parties
  • Unlike other meats, unicorn fat is polyunsaturated and lowers your LDL cholesterol
  • Not yet approved by the USDA or FDA, but the nuns have eaten it for centuries and they're healthy as horses (source: and when you read the whole thing get ready to laugh your ass off)
  • Okay, for real: you can't eat this. It's a dismembered stuffed unicorn in a can.
  • The bottom of the tin is easily removable to gain access to the mini dead unicorn inside. No can opener needed!
And last from Lip Glaze.  I have no words for this. Wait.  Yes I do....Gross.

  • Moisten your lips with the loving taste of meat. (ewwww)
There are many other fun things at that you should definitely check out.

I have to admit that I totally thought of Tumperkin and her love of the stache when I saw these.  How could you not love the Mustache erasers??


I think I need these bandages for my kids.  Especially since my oldest is addicted to C.S.I.

I love that it says "free toy inside."  What could it possibly be?

And last for the list is a book and its something everyone cynic needs - man or woman...
It's the Today I Will Nourish My Inner Martyr book by Ann Thornhill and Sarah Wells

This lovely has 365 splendidly bitter daily meditations that will appeal to the cynic in you. Nowhere else will you find such odes to self-absorption as:
·Today I will equate material possessions with love.
·Today I will taunt others until they cry, then tell them they are too sensitive.
·Today I will make a new friend based solely on how he or she can further my career.
·Today I will respect my need to sabotage everyone else's success.

Hopefully you found the perfect gift for that unusual person.  Or if not, hopefully you got a laugh.

Review: Unshakeable Faith by Lisa Worrall

Of all the bars in all the towns in all the world, the stranger walks into Brody Tyler’s. With no memory and a name he chose from a newspaper, Nash is a gamble—one Brody is willing to take. It isn’t long before Brody and Nash fall in love, but then a tragic accident shatters their cozy world, resetting Nash’s memory once again.

The “new” Nash Walker is a businessman with a bottom line, and he doesn’t care what or who gets stomped on. Waking up in a hospital bed after a hit-and-run with no idea where he’s been for the past six months is bad enough, but someone trying to kill him is even worse. Enter Brody Tyler, accidental bodyguard.

Brody’s determined to help Nash remember and bring back the man he loves. Nash thinks Brody’s a drop-dead gorgeous pain in the ass. If only he could remember….

What do you do when a gorgeous man walks into your bar? Well, if you’re a bartender, as Brody is, you sit down and listen to him. Brody hears a story that tears at his heartstrings. The man was attacked and had spent the last 3 months in the hospital recovering but he has no idea who he is. He has no memory of the attack or his life before that. When he overheard the doctor saying that they were going to send him off to what amounted to a loony bin, he hightailed it out of there. After a couple of nights on the street he ended up in Brody’s bar.

Brody is the type of man who tries to help everyone and after hearing the man’s story he offers him not only a job but the spare room in his apartment above the bar. Yes, it’s taking a huge chance but his instincts are telling him that he can trust the guy. The amnesiac takes the first step and picks out a name for himself from the newspaper then he learns how to be a bartender. Brody and Nash, as he now calls himself, spend all of their time together and after about a month become more intimate and then inseparable, falling madly in love.

One day though Nash is struck by a car and again sent to the hospital. When he awakens he knows exactly who he is but he has no memory of the last 3 months. He’s back to being Nash Walker, businessman and asshole extraordinaire. He heads back to his home and wants to continue with his life but when the police tell him they think that someone is trying to kill him (stabbing, hit and run, yeah, it sounds that way) his mother decides to get him a bodyguard.

Brody can’t find Nash and it’s driving him crazy. When he sees Nash on the news he’s extremely relieved until the police tell him that it’s better for Nash if Brody doesn’t see him. Brody takes the bodyguard position thinking that Nash will recognize him but instead Nash just wants his body – with no recollection of what they had together and it breaks Brody’s heart to know that he may never have his sweet Nash back.

I have a thing for amnesia stories. What it is about them that draws me I can’t say but if it involves amnesia, I’m there. Now some are done well and others not so much. This story definitely falls into the done well category.

I loved the first part of the book with Nash and Brody falling in love. They were so good together and just seemed like they were perfect for each other. It broke my heart to see Brody so broken up over Nash’s disappearance but seeing what a complete and total jerkwad that Nash turned into I was kind of glad that Brody didn’t have to see that. But Brody wasn’t going to sit by and wait for someone to finally say that he could see Nash – he took matters into his own hands and I had to admire him for that.

Nash and Brody together when Nash was the businessman was a sight, lemme tell ya. Nash seriously made me want to deck him on several occasions and I wanted nothing more than to see him get his. He finally did remember it all and when he did it was a good thing. (You never know how that’s gonna go). The end seemed a bit rushed but I liked it just the same.

The suspense part of the story – with someone trying to kill Nash was very secondary to the relationship in this book and I’m glad it was. Nash and Brody were so good together that I was happy that only a small portion of the book was taken up by the suspense plot.

This is my first read by this author and it most certainly won’t be my last. A very good book that I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Lisa Worrall
Dreamspinner Press

What I Read Last Week

Well it’s been crazy at our house this past week. First my little one got a bad cold and fever (I was home with her when I wrote the last edition of What I Read Last Week), then we had a really early birthday party for my oldest (her birthday isn’t until the 30th), then she got sick, then my youngest had another belt test for her red belt on Saturday (which she passed with max points – go baby go!), then she came home, threw up and continued to do so for the next 15 hours. She’s feeling much better now but has been at work with me for most of the past two days so it’s been a bit hectic. Life is fun. lol Needless to say I’m behind on EVERYTHING, including this post! But eventually it all gets taken care of. As long as my family gets healthy soon I’ll be one happy camper.

Here’s my youngest breaking a board at her red belt test. A couple of practice kicks and then she got it in 2.

So how are all of you? What have you been up to? What are you reading lately? I’m afraid with life in a whirlwind I’ve not been blog hopping lately so I hope you’re all well.

What I read last week:

I started off the week with The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle by RaeAnne Thayne. This was the book that I read for my monthly TBR challenge and it was pretty good. Minor angst between the h/h but other than that a sweet Christmas tale. You can read my review here. 3.5 out of 5

All the Pleasures of the Season by Lecia Cornwall was my next read. A novella that was about a woman who tries to do what her family wants when it comes to marriage and her future but between the evil fiancé and the fact that she’s in love with someone else it just didn’t work. You can read my review here. 4 out of 5

Faery Wedding by Mina Carter was a short read about a woman who is being forced to marry a man she thinks is old and probably evil just to save her family. She goes out the night before and gets her groove on with a great guy who shows up later and surprises her in a big way. It was an ok story but definitely more of an erotic tale rather than love. 2 out of 5

A Knight in Cowboy Boots by Suzie Quint is a book that I read for The Book Binge. This was the story of a girl who basically kidnaps her nephew after the baby’s father kills her sister, the baby’s mother. She goes into hiding but ends up falling for a guy. He’s great but she knows she can’t stay in one place even if she’s in love. It was a pretty good story but there was a bit of hick-speak that made me a bit crazy as I was reading. Luckily they only spoke a bit in hick-speak and didn’t THINK that way. lol 3.75 out of 5

8 Seconds on the Mountain by PD Singer is a short related to Mountain series. This story had the boys, Kurt and Jake, invading the stocks at a rodeo. Kurt riles up the cowboys and makes a bet that he can stay on a bull for 8 seconds. It was cute, short read. 3 out of 5

Priority One by Stephani Hecht is book 4 in the EMS Heat series. I’ve not read the first 3 books but didn’t feel that it was necessary in order to read this one. The story was about newbie EMS Dylan who is mightily attracted to Kaleb the firefighter. The story covers the men getting together and Dylan, who is dealing with emotions left over from when he got kicked out of his parents’ house and his feelings of betrayal from a previous relationship. The romance in this is a bit non-existent as we’re told that the men are basically inseparable but we don’t get to witness any of that. It was a good story just a little short on romance for my liking. 3 out of 5

Beneath the Neon Moon by Theda Black was a free book given away by All Romance eBooks this past week. It was about Zach and Mal who wake up one day and they are chained together in a basement. They discover after a bit that Mal has been bitten by a werewolf and will soon turn one and Zach is to be his first meal. Close proximity, however, bring the two young men together and the last thing either wants is for one to die and the other to be ridden with guilt forever. The book is about Zach and Mal getting to know each other and becoming closer as well as trying to figure out how to change what seems like an inevitable outcome. Really good story, well done. 4 out of 5

I wanted to read When I Fall by Belinda McBride but it had been so long since I had read An Uncommon Whore that I decided to re-read it first. Griffin Hawke is looking for the king of his people and he ends up finding him in an unlikely place. Pasha aka King Helios has been a slave and a whore for years and he knows nothing different. When Griffin finally gets him off planet Helios has to deal the memory/control chip that’s in his head as well as his thoughts of being King and of course his growing feelings for Griffin. It’s a really good book and it was just as good the second time around. 4 out of 5

When I Fall by Belinda McBride starts a year after Helios and Griffin finally make it back to their planet. Helios has fallen into the roll of king easily enough and has made wonderful changes for his people. It seems though that Griffin (this book is from Griffin’s POV while book 1 was from Helios’s) is feeling a bit unneeded and left out. The story deals with many aspects of the men’s world and Griffin’s feelings of impending loss (of Helios). While that was great and I enjoyed the writing tremendously I felt the story lacked the strength of the first book when it came to the men’s relationship. Griffin doubted Helios’s love, Helios kept secrets from Griffin but nothing really got worked out as the conclusion of the book kind of glossed over the issues. Because of a near death experience it seemed that the problems weren’t to be dealt with in depth – Helios admits he did wrong and so did Griffin and then it was all ok. I still gave the book a good grade because as I said, I liked the writing but the lack of true resolution of the problems bothered me a bit, I must admit. 4 out of 5

My Book Binge Reviews that posted last week:

Happy Reading!!

Saturday Song

I love the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  I get my rockin and my orchestra in all at the same time and for me that's a good thing. This is one of my favorites and is actually my ringtone on my cell phone at the moment. lol  Anyway, I hope you enjoy Carol of the Bells as much as I do.  Have a great day!

Review: All The Pleausures of the Season by Lecia Cornwall

Warning – this story contains spoilers

On the first day of Christmas:
Lady Miranda Archer accepts a marriage proposal.

On the first day of Christmas, fifteen minutes later:
Miranda realizes she’s made a huge mistake.

For the next twelve days:

Miranda must find a way out of her engagement—which is harder than it looks, especially since her fiancé is pompous, mean, and desperate for her family’s jewels—and convince her true love that all she wants for Christmas is him.

Lady Miranda wants to make her grandfather and her sister happy. She has had a ton of marriage offers and it’s only her first season! But she wants to do what’s right and what’s expected even if she’s in love with someone completely unsuitable.

Miranda accepts a marriage offer from the Earl of Kelton but she’s a bit unsure she made the right decision. She talks herself into believing that he’s a good person and that she just needs to charm him and they’ll have a comfortable marriage as friends. Miranda soon finds out however that Kelton is a complete jerk and is only interested in getting married and then going off to have his fun with other women. He’s mean and nasty to Miranda after just one day and she sees his true colors.

Gilbert is the second son of a baron. He’s got no title and no fortune but he loves Miranda to the depth of his being. He knows that he has nothing to offer her and that his suit would be put down immediately by Miranda’s grandfather if he offered marriage so he stays away. His friend Phineas, Miranda’s brother, finally talks some sense into him and Gilbert sees that maybe there would have been a chance…but since Miranda’s marrying Kelton he just needs to pack his bags and move on. What will Gilbert do when he finds out that Miranda isn't marrying the Earl? Will he step up and take a chance or let his love go?

This is a lovely story about believing in yourself and going after what you really want in life. Gilbert and Miranda had fallen in love although we don’t actually get to see that part. When the story begins they’ve already fallen but haven’t shared their feelings with each other. Despite missing the actual falling we get enough of a sense of love that we root for the couple completely. Kelton is a right bastard. He’s not only mean and nasty but rude and a thief on top of that. I just wanted to kick the man. I was so happy when Miranda broke her engagement to him and he felt the power of the Archer family.

In the end it all worked out and I very much the story…but I have to tell you that I have a little devil on my shoulder. Why? Because Miranda was completely in love with Gilbert but since he hadn’t offered marriage to her she decided to go with what made her grandfather happy and marry a titled man. So…if the Earl of Kelton hadn’t been such a lowlife scoundrel and had been a nice man that Miranda thought that she might have been happy with, would she have gone ahead with the marriage? I would like to think that she wouldn’t but that devil on my shoulder keep nattering at me and I can’t help but think that….maybe she would. IDK – something to think about! lol

Anyway – despite that little devil talking I really liked the story, the family love and the Christmas theme running through it. A most enjoyable read.

Rating: 4 out of 5

This book releases on 12/20

Book Promo: Q & A with Connie Brockway and a Giveaway

Question: You’ve written over 20 different titles ranging from historical romance to contemporary women’s fiction. What inspired you to write The Other Guy’s Bride?

Connie Brockway: For years, readers have been asking me to write sequels to two of their favorite books, As You Desire and All Through the Night. Happily, they happen to be two of my favorites also, so the idea of revisiting the characters and settings has always been particularly appealing and always something I intended to do. After spending the last five years doing Regency romances, I’ve been starving to write something set outside the British Isles, something that would be both familiar and exotic. Turn-of-the-century Egypt fit the bill. Not only is it historically and culturally rich, but a treasure trove of fun and fascinating minutiae (and I do love my minutiae). Bonus points for being peopled with intriguing historical figures from all over the world. And finally, that sort of milieu provides the opportunity to write a love story outside the mainstream of Polite Society, where the rules are different, the stakes are higher, the romance more exquisite.

Question: Since this is, as you mentioned, a departure from your Regency romances, what research did you do while writing the book to help you create the setting and your characters?

Connie Brockway: Books. Dozens of nonfiction books. I read about Thomas Cook’s ship tours and the advent of all-inclusive cruising, Mark Twain’s journals about his trip to Egypt, histories of ancient Egypt and the Sudan, books about the French Foreign Legion and the life of Sir Eldon Gorst and books about the birth of archeology and the establishment of Arabian horse bloodlines. And then there were the websites and the hyperlinks, and...

Question: Is there any character you most identify with? Why?

Connie Brockway: Well, since I just finished cleaning up the house after the Easter extravaganza, I’d have to say the housemaid.

Question: How does The Other Guy’s Bride compare to your previous titles? What can readers expect?
Connie Brockway: I expect readers will find all the elements they’ve enjoyed in the past: engaging characters, irreverent humor, and sigh-provoking romance. But it will have a freshness and spark that comes out of my feeling less of a need to follow a proscribed romance blueprint.

Question: What other authors or books have influenced your writing?

Connie Brockway: Such a hard question! I read constantly in all sorts of genres and it’s hard to pin-point specific titles but as far as romances go, I started out being drawn to the rich, detailed narrative styles of Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. Dorothy Cannell’s mysteries, starting with The Thin Woman, gave me my first inkling that romance could be downright hilarious and still breathtaking. The unique, fully-fleshed characters created by authors as Pat Gaffney, Laura Kinsale, and the wonderful late Edith Layton have certainly inspired me to be equally conscientious in creating my own characterizations.

Question: Have you considered trying your hand at other genres?

Connie Brockway: I’ve already authored two books that crossed from contemporary romance into contemporary women’s fiction. I’m very intrigued about relationships outside of a strictly romantic one, how those bonds morph and develop throughout a lifetime, as well as community and family dynamics. Those books gave me the chance to indulge my curiosity. As for the future, I’m almost always in the middle of reading a mystery and hope to some day try my hand at historical mystery.

The Other Guy's Bride came out in digital format on  Nov. 22nd from Amazon's Montlake Romance.  The print book will be available on December 22nd. 



Author Page:

Connie Brockway website

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Entertainment Marketing Group is offering 3 print copies of The Other Guy's Bride as a giveaway.  Leave a comment on this post with your email address no later than Monday, December 19th at 7:00pm to enter to win.  Winners must live in the US or Canada (no PO Boxes) sorry.

TBR Challenge Review: The Cowboy's Christmas Miracle by RaeAnne Thayne

Christmas was tough for widow Jenna Wheeler and her four children. But even though she'd sold part of her family's land to make ends meet, she was determined to spin the holiday into the stuff of magic--no matter what it took. Now if she could only find a job....

Maybe her new landlord could oblige--gorgeous, child-averse Carson McRaven. He needed a chef, and he knew the lovely Jenna could do a bang-up job--if only she could keep her brood out of his hair. But as he found himself catapulted into the cheerful chaos of her family...not to mention Jenna's arms...he learned more about the spirit of Christmas than he'd ever dreamed.

After her husband died Jenna Wheeler had to sell the 5000 acres of land that had been in her husband’s family for generations. She managed to negotiate 20 acres for herself and her 4 children when making the real estate deal but her kids still can’t seem to keep themselves off the land where they once ran free.

Carson McRaven is a billionaire entrepreneur and he’s the one who purchased the Wheeler property. He’s not thrilled about the kids that keep invading his land but he’s trying to be as patient as possible especially since he honestly believes that Jenna Wheeler has her hands full. When Carson discovers that she’s got a catering business on top of being a mom he’s shocked. He’s also quite pleased that her food is so good. When the chef he’s hired to cook for his guests at Christmas comes down with an unexpected case of appendicitis he manages to talk Jenna into covering for the ill chef. This puts the couple in close proximity and has them both feeling things that they don’t want to feel.

When Jenna is hurt on Carson’s property he feels responsible and heads to her house to help her with her kids and to help make the Christmas holiday wonderful for everyone.

This was a free book that I received from Tell Harlequin last year but never got around to reading. It was a perfect book to pick up for this month’s TBR Challenge where we were supposed to read a holiday romance.

Carson is purported as a hard hearted businessman but while we see a bit of the businessman I didn’t see all that much hard heartedness. Sure he wasn’t unsure of himself when it came to kids but he didn’t hate them. When they show up on his doorstep to bring thank you gifts from their mom does he shoo them away and tell them to leave him alone? No. While we’re told of his coldness what we SEE is a man who just isn’t used to being around children. He’s great with his guests and actually quite friendly. But when he ends up at the Wheeler house with Jenna and the kids at Christmas and realizes exactly what’s happening with his feelings how will that effect the friendship that he and Jenna have developed?

Jenna is one determined mom. She’s pretty amazing in that she works from home most of the time so while the kids are at school she’s cooking and sewing and doing the little extra’s that we all wish we had time for. She’s not happy with Carson pretty much bribing her into cooking for his guests but when she finally capitulates she’s thrilled with the food and the kitchen in Carson’s house. When Carson helps her after her accident at his place she finds that the man who is supposedly cold and unfeeling is more than she thought. He’s kind, helpful, thoughtful and just a good guy. She doesn’t want to feel the things she feels for him but she can’t seem to help herself.

I really liked the two of them together and I saw such a wonderful friendship blossoming. While Jenna and Carson were thoroughly attracted to each other and I loved the developing friendship I just didn’t see the love connection. I’m happy that they worked everything out and that Carson became the man he thought he could be when it came to family but I just didn’t see the romance. IDK maybe I’m trying to read more into it than there was but while it was sweet it didn’t scream romance to me. I guess that’s the way it has to be when there are 4 kids involved. I’m not sure.

So while I liked the book I did feel a little unsure of the romance in the book. If you want a sweet, kid filled, pretty angst free romance than this would be a good one to read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

RaeAnne Thayne

What I Read Last Week

Well it's a rainy Monday here in So. Cal and I'm home with a sick child.  She's just a lump on the couch the poor thing (my youngest). So far I've gotten some much needed reviews written - thank heavens!

This past Saturday I was lucky enough to be able to attend a So Cal Blogger/Author gathering.  We met at Renee's house for a potluck and it was Renee, KB Alan, Nico Rosso, Zoe Archer, Vivienne Westlake and me.  It was a small group but we had a great time talking and of course having our book swap.  It was a good time.

So on to what I read - it will be brief as the queen bee on the couch over there is calling for attention. :)

I started off the week with Any Given Christmas by Candis Terry.  This was a cute contemporary about a professional football player coming to terms with the possibility that he'll never play again after an injury.  You can read my review here. 3.5 out of 5

Next up was Bicycle Built for Two by Jeff Adams.  This was a cute m/m about two men who meet at a charity bike event.  They hit it off but they live in two different cities.  Besides the location of their romancing the book but just sweet.  There was really no angst and I liked that about the story. 3 out of 5

Next was a very short story called Hollow by AC Ruttan that is a bit of a take off on Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. It was ok but just really short.  2 out of 5

Mate Test by Amber Kell was my Tracy's TBR Challenge read for the week.  It was a novella about a man who thinks he's being sent to a planet to make a mineral deal but he's really been signed up for the Consort contest for the King.  He's blind of a sorts but he's bonded to a dragon so the dragon helps him see.  The romance was more of an instant attraction and besides feeling the attraction and doing the contests there just wasn't a lot of "romance" per se.  3 out of 5

Next up was Men Under the Mistletoe by Josh Lanyon, Ava March, KA Mitchell & Harper Fox.  This was a 4 novella anthology about men, their loves and all had a Christmas theme.  You can read my review here.  4 out of 5

After that was Lady Northam's Wicked Surrender by Vivienne Westlake.  This was the story of a woman who fell in love and then when the man went off to war she was never contacted again.  She was convinced the man never loved her by his best friend and she ended up marrying the friend.  Now years later the husband has died and the love has come back to try to win her love.  They find they still love each other as well as finding some deceptions in their pasts from people they trusted.  It was great little story at only 55 pages.  3.75 out of 5

Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke is the second book in the Abandoned at the Altar series and it was a good one.  Two people who think they know what the other's about but really they have no idea.  It was a good story and was well worth the read. 4 out of 5

Last for the week was Holiday Kisses by Jaci Burton, Shannon Stacey, HelenKay Dimon and Alison Kent,  another great anthology from Carina Press.  The stories are all sweet and again, all based around Christmas.  I posted this one on The Book Binge site so when it posts I'll let you know. 4 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Lawe's Justice by Lora Leigh
A Beginner's Guide to Rakes by Suzanne Enoch
To Wed a Wild Lord by Sabrina Jeffries
Love, Come to Me by Lisa Kleypas

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

This is a new version of an old song.  I heart Leighton Meester's version of Baby, Please Come Home this past week and I really liked it.  Enjoy!

Review: Men Under the Mistletoe by Ava March, Harper Fox, Josh Lanyon & KA Mitchell

My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March

Alexander Norton loathes the festive season. The revelry of the ton is a reminder of Christmas four years ago, when his first love, Thomas Bennett, broke his heart and fled to New York without a word. So when he encounters Thomas at a holiday ball, Alexander is determined not to let on how much he still hurts.

Thomas has returned for one reason only: Alexander. Having finally come to terms with his forbidden desires, he will do whatever he must to convince Alexander to give their love another chance. But instead of the happy, carefree man Thomas once knew, Alexander is now hard and cynical. Saddened to know he's to blame for the man's bitterness, Thomas resolves to reignite the passion he knows lies hidden behind the wall of disdain...

Historical m/m romance is always a bit difficult for me to read. I think because I want the men to be together so badly and they can never be out and proud. They can never walk down the streets holding hands or ever show their affection in public and it just breaks my heart. This story is about two men who meet at Oxford and fall for each other. But Thomas is having a hard time dealing with the fact that he wants to be with a man. On a snowy Christmas Eve both Thomas and Alexander, who Thomas calls Sasha, head to Sasha’s father’s hunting lodge. Unfortunately things don’t go the way Sasha would like, Thomas leaves and Sasha is heartbroken.

Now Thomas is back after four years of completely ignoring Sasha and he wants him back. He will do anything to get his true love to take him back and he’s not above begging. Sasha, however, has turned into a brusque, cynical man and he’s not sure he wants to open himself up to that kind of hurt again.

This was just a heartwrenching story. Sasha’s heartbreak from losing Thomas was so hard to read although I completely understood Thomas’s fears it was still hard for me to read about his actions. When Thomas finally comes to terms about who he really is and his feelings for Sasha it’s four years later. I could understand Sasha’s hesitance completely as I would have been leery as well. The story was well written and really good.

Winter Knights by Harper Fox

Historian Gavin Lowden is in Northumberland on Christmas Eve for two reasons: to find evidence of a romantic bond between Arthur and Lancelot, and to finally tell his partner Piers that he loves him. Piers has promised to come clean with his conservative family and join Gavin for their first holiday as a couple, but at the last minute, he bails. Devastated, Gavin heads out onto the moors alone, just as snow begins to fall...

Gavin stumbles into an underground chamber, where strange happenings cause him to question what is real and what is fantasy. He's found by two mysterious men who offer him a bed for the night—and awaken him to nuances of erotic pleasure he didn't know existed. Pleasure he hopes to share with Piers.

When Piers learns that Gavin has gone missing, he is desperate to find him. He knows now breaking up was a terrible mistake, and he's ready to take the next step in their relationship—if it's not already too late.

Gavin is so excited that his boyfriend Piers will be telling his parents about the fact that he is gay and then will then spend the holiday with him. After 3 years of spending it separately he wants nothing more than to be with Piers. But Piers, who is a devout Catholic, doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain. In fact not only does he not tell his family but he then calls Gavin and lets him know that he will be marrying Gwen a woman he had been engaged to prior.

In a fog from his heartbreak, Gavin heads off to check out a location near his hotel that supposedly has a connection with King Arthur. What he finds is a deep chamber and gets stuck. He’s hurt, not thinking clearly and isn’t dressed warmly enough. Luckily two rescue workers come to help. Artie and Lance not only eventually help Gavin out of the hole, they take him home and help him see some insights into himself – some he just didn’t want to hear. They also initiate him in sexual acts he had never before discovered.

When the morning comes Gavin finds Piers in front of Artie and Lance’s house ready to talk to him. The pair finally communicate everything that has been a problem for the past 3 years and become closer for it. But how does Gavin deal with his guilt over his liaison with Artie and Lance? And would Piers understand if he tells him.

This was a very well written story that had me guessing exactly what was going to happen until the end. I had some issue with Gavin falling into bed with Lance and Artie so soon after his break with Piers but eventually saw exactly what was happening and why. There was a strange twist in this novella that was unexpected but I really liked how it all ended up.

Lone Star by Josh Lanyon

Growing up in rural Texas, Mitchell Evans's ambition to be a dancer made him a target. Though he found success in New York City, Mitch is at a crossroads, and heads home for the first time in twelve years to figure things out. When what appears to be a reindeer jumps out in front of his car, he drives off the road and into the path of the one man he hoped to avoid.

The last person Texas Ranger Web Eisley expects to see four days before Christmas is his first love. He hasn't seen Mitch since they quarreled over coming out to their friends and family years ago. Though he's not in the closet now, Web has worked hard for the respect of his fellow officers, but he still regrets the loss of Mitch in his life. And his bed.

The attraction between them is as strong as ever, and it doesn't take long for the men to pick up where they left off. But is love enough to keep Mitch in town in the New Year?

Mitch Evans is a famous ballet dancer who once was just a kid in small town rural Texas. When he lived in Texas he fell in love with Web Eisley but their thoughts about how their relationship should commence were not on the same wavelength. After a horrible argument with Web, Mitch went home and told his rancher father that he was gay. His father then punched him and kicked him out of the house. Mitch left and never looked back. Now his father has died and he’s gone back to his hometown to take care of legal details. While driving to his home he has an accident and who is there to help him pick up the pieces? Web Eisley.

Mitch is in a vulnerable place in his life with his work and his recent relationship but he knows that his feelings for Web are not just something he can ignore. Web finally came out to his family and friends and is more than happy to have Mitch back and is willing to take what he can from the man with the hope that their relationship can continue.

This was a very sweet story. I loved Mitch and Web both separately and apart. My complaint about this story was that it just wasn’t long enough! lol I wanted to read more about the two men and of course what happens after they finally get together (and no that’s not a spoiler because come on, you know there’s gonna be a HEA!)

The Christmas Proposition by K.A. Mitchell

It's Christmas in Epiphany, Pennsylvania—the busiest time of year for Mel Halner. But running the family Christmas tree farm has worn down his love for the happiest season of all, and lately Mel's been wondering what if he'd said yes to a ticket out of town with millionaire Bryce Campion three years ago.

Bryce isn't used to people saying no to him, and he can't forget Mel or their brief but sizzling affair. He might not have been offering forever, but Bryce can't understand a guy as sexy and smart as Mel choosing to stay rooted on the family farm over enjoying the high life with him. He's determined to make Mel see what he's missed out on the first chance he gets.

Mel Halner hasn’t ever been anywhere. He grew up in Epiphany, Pennsylvania and has worked at his parents Christmas Tree farm since he could remember. Two years ago he hooked up with Bryce Campion and thought that it might be something special. Back then Bryce asked, off handedly, if Mel was willing to leave town with him since he was the owner of a huge corporation. Both the misunderstanding of the sincerity of Bryce’s request as well as fear of the unknown had Mel staying put. Bryce left without a word and Mel hadn’t heard from him since.

Now Bryce is back in town and they’ve taken up where they left off but Mel still has issues and he’s not sure exactly where Bryce wants the relationship to go. On top of that Mel’s trying to plan a wedding at the last minute for his best friend. Will the stress never end?

This was a very hot story with lots of man lovin. I love Mitchell’s work and this was no different. As with all the stories in this anthology I wished for more with this story. More in depth thought from both Mel and Bryce would have been wonderful. Mel had such issues – some understandable, some ridiculous, imho, and knowing more about those would have been great. Bryce moved the relationship quickly and wasn’t very forthcoming about his thoughts and feelings but he thought he was relaying those in action and deed – which is great but sometime you just need to have it said out loud! Men! lol

Overall all the stories in this Christmas anthology were very good and not to be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ava March
Harper Fox
Josh Lanyon
KA Mitchell
Carina Press

Review: Any Given Christmas by Candis Terry

When an injury dashes NFL Quarterback Dean Silverthorne’s Super Bowl dreams, he heads back to Deer Lick, Montana with a chip on his wounded shoulder, more determined than ever to get back in the game. He loves his kooky family, but this trip home is going to be a very brief Christmas visit.

His game plan doesn’t include an instant attraction to Emma Hart, a feisty kindergarten teacher who seems to be the only person in Deer Lick not interested in the hometown hero. Or his dearly departed mom popping up with mistletoe in hand and meddling on the mind. Now Dean can’t help but wonder if there’s more to love than life between the goal posts.

Dean Silverthorne’s life is football. He eats it, he breathes it, he just doesn’t know what he will do without it and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. When a severe injury takes him off of the active list he’s determined to get back as soon as possible. After surgery and a prescription from his doctor to take it easy with no exercise he decides to head home for Christmas to see his family. He doesn’t expect to stay long but life has a way of throwing obstacles in the way and he ends up staying longer than the thought. When he’s intrigued and attracted to Emma Hart he decides that maybe Deer Lick isn’t all that awful after all.

Emma Hart is ready to have her Happily Ever After. She wants to whole shootin match – the love of her life, the kids, the white picket fence – and no fast talking, arrogant football player who will leave Deer Lick in two shakes is going to get in the way. She’s mightily attracted to Dean even though she doesn’t like him or his “type” all that much but he keeps showing up and getting under her skin. How is she to find the man of her dreams when she’s got this guy hanging around? Dean eventually gets to Emma enough that they start an affair but Emma’s knows that it can’t last – even when Dean says it can.

Let me start with my likes:
I liked Dean – pertnear loved Dean. Sure he was cocky but he was thoughtful and he loved his family. I think he got a raw deal from Emma for most of the book and I felt so bad for him. He was just a good person who grew so much and I loved reading about him.
The parts where Dean’s dead mother comes back to talk to him were great. I just love Letty Silverthorne and the fact that she’s trying to get her children settled.
The premise of the story with Dean coming home and finding what he didn’t know he was looking for – that was really satisfying.

My dislike:
Emma – for a good part of the book. I’m frankly torn between liking this woman and not liking her. I realize that she wants the American dream with hubby and kids but I think she was downright mean to Dean for most of the book. She was burned in her past and I felt for what she went through but I didn’t think that her being as abrasive and abrupt with Dean as she was was called for. Yes, she wanted to turn him down in no uncertain terms but I felt it was a bit too callous at times. She did warm up eventually and when she did I liked her. I thought she was kind to her pet and to her grandmother and that made her better in my eyes.

This was a cute, fun contemporary in the end. It was both funny and sad and I like feeling all of those different emotions when I read. While I didn’t like this story quite as much as I liked the story in book 1, Second Chance at the Sugar Shack, it was still a good book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5