Guest Author: HelenKay Dimon + a Giveaway

Thanks for having me here today to talk about my newest release, LEAN ON ME. 

I've written over thirty single titles, category romances, shorts and novellas. Every book is a process and some are harder to write than others. But I've learned one thing…I love dark-haired heroes. Yes, I admit it. Maybe that's because I'm married to one in real life.  Not sure, but it is rare for me to write a hero with blond hair.

I think back to the male characters on television shows and heroes in books who capture my attention. Most – not all, but the overwhelming majority – fit into the Tall, Dark and Handsome category.  Add in flawed, stubborn and rough-around-the-edges, and I'm in love. I'm hesitant to admit this but I haven't read the J.D. Robb series. I keep meaning to but there are so many books that I go to start and then think about the commitment I'm about to make (because I tend to read every book in a series once I start) and I get twitchy.  But a friend described the hero Roarke as dark and handsome the other day and now I'm determined to start the series as soon as my next deadline is over.

And the hero in this book – Mitch?  Tall, Dark and Handsome.  In my head he looked like this:

In real life - Misha Collins

At least I'm consistent.

Thanks so much for being here today, HelenKay!  I read Lean on Me and I really liked it.  Thanks for a great read!

HelenKay is so kindly giving away one digital copy of Lean On Me.  Yay!  Just leave a comment on this post, along with your email address, no later than 7:00pm on Wednesday, November 7th to enter.

What I Read Last Week

Hello again!

I hope you had a wonderful week last week and a great weekend.  Mine was definitely an up and down week.  It started off well but then I got the migraine from hell and wanted to shoot my head off.  I didn’t want to die, just get rid of the pain! lol  It took a couple of days and lots of darkness and quiet but it finally went away.  Things went up from there but then down again when I found out that a friend of mine who has been battling cancer died.  He was so young at 48.  If you pray, please send a prayer up for Rey and of course his family, thanks.

This weekend was a running errands nightmare but kind of fun I a way.  My oldest and I spent a lot of time with just the two of us as my youngest spent the weekend with a friend.  My youngest went to Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest and went on the Drop of Doom which is 400 ft. high.  She’s a brave little shit cuz you wouldn’t see me on that ride….ever.  Here’s the picture that her friends’ mom took while they were waiting in line.  Wow.  Uh, no…just no.

So where did  I leave off with my ereader saga?  Let’s see.  Mine previous Kindle crapped out and I bought another new to me but used 2nd Gen Kindle.  That one sucked and I sent it back for a refund.  I bought another one and that FINALLY showed up on Friday and it’s WONDERFUL – works perfectly!  I wasn’t without an ereader for long but that time I was?  Sucked.  Lol  I was dragging my laptop around so I could read my ebooks and, yeah, I wouldn’t recommend that but it got the job done.   

So on to what I read this past week:

I started off the week with Her Highness and the Highlander by Tracy Anne Warren.  This is the story of a foreign princess who has been attending school in Scotland.  She’s on her way to London when her carriage is set upon.  She escapes but when she ends up in a village looking worse for wear no one believes that she’s a princess.  One man who is at the tavern feels pity for her and gets her a room, food and a dress but refused to accompany her to London as she asks.  He eventually succumbs and they fall in love along the way.  The story was cute but improbable.  Not impossible but I just didn’t buy it.  Yes, it’s fiction but this particular story didn’t sell me on the princess falling in love with the poor highlander.  3 out of 5

Next up was a re-read of The Englor Affair by JL Langley.  Payton who is a prince from another planet is on Englor undercover.  He’s trying to hack into computers and decipher messages to see if the Englor Prince, Simon, is working with the IN.  Payton is told to stay away from Simon but when he meets a hot hunk of a man in the locker room on the base he doesn’t think that the two Simon’s are the same guy.  They are.  Payton’s head over for Simon and Si really likes Payton but on Englor homosexuality is really not accepted.  Not punishable by death but highly frowned upon.  When Si and Payton are found in a compromising position and Si finds out who Payton really is he offers to marry him but that opens its own can of worms.  The Englor Affair was a great book.  I didn’t think that it was as good as My Fair Captain, the first book in the series, but it was excellent in its own right.  5 out of 5

Miracle in New Hope by Kaki Warner is a novella about a man who keeps to himself but is hearing a little girl’s voice who asks him to come for her.  He figures out who the girl is and then confronts her mother who tells him that the girl is dead.  He doesn’t believe it and strikes out to find her – while falling in love with her mother.  This novella doesn’t come out til early December but I couldn’t wait to read it.  It was very sweet and I loved Daniel’s perseverance.  I’ll post my review closer to the release date. 4.25 out of 5

Next was The Second Seduction of a Lady by Miranda Neville.  This story was about Eleanor who fell in love with Max five years earlier.  She then found out she was part of a bet and never spoke to him again.  Max was in love with Eleanor despite the bet and when he meets her 5 years later he makes it his goal to get Eleanor back.  You can read my review here. 3.75 out of 5

My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry.  I think this is my favorite Mayberry yet.  The story is about Violet who does NOT like her best friends’ boyfriend, Martin.  When her friend leaves London for Australia after breaking up with Martin, Violet takes pity on Martin and takes him a bottle of alcohol to soothe him.  One thing leads to another and Violet and Martin are in a sexual relationship.  But Violet is horribly guilty because she hasn’t told her friend and when the relationship turns serious she knows she can’t keep it a secret any longer.  While this story definitely wasn’t as lighthearted as some others of Mayberry’s I’ve read it was just so good.  The tension in the story was so thick but I loved seeing Martin and Violet trying to figure out what the hell was going on.  I thought for being such opposites (he’s stuffy and she’s…not. At all.) they were wonderful together.  I definitely recommend this one.  4.25 out of 5

Rescue My Heart by Jill Shalvis is the 3rd book in the Animal Magnetism series and this story was about Adam.  Adam has some serious PTSD and he’s just trying to get back on his feet while battling the nightmares he experienced while a soldier.  He helps his old flame Holly when she asks for his help finding her father and their relationship reignites – even though he’s not sure that’s a good idea.  The story is good and I loved Adam to pieces.  Read this one for Book Binge.  3.75 out of 5

Last for the week was Midnight in Your Arms by Morgan Kelly.  This is a story set both in 1866 and 1926 and has a time travel aspect to it.  The story goes that Laura inherits a home that was willed to her in 1866, before she was ever born.  She has been dreaming about the house since she was small but being a psychic she didn’t think too much about it.  When she gets to the house she ends up meeting a man who is in 1866 and the walls of time seem to crumble from time to time – especially around midnight.  The story is about the couple falling in love and trying to find a way to be together.  It was a darker novella and a bit confusing at times – as it’s said that time is basically a continuous loop and the life they’re experiencing has happened before – but it was good.  3.5 out of 5

My Book Binge Reviews that posted last week:

Happy Reading!

Review: The Second Seduction of a Lady by Miranda Neville

Eleanor Hardwick and Max Quinton shared one night of incredible passion . . . that was shattered the next day, when Eleanor learned of a bet placed by Max's friends. Now, five years later, Max still can't get Eleanor out of his head or his heart. He has a single chance to make a second impression—one that will last forever.

Max Quinton, along with a bunch of other men, took up a bet that they could kiss a woman he’d never met or seen who supposedly was a haughty, cold-hearted bitch. The man who said that about her was pissed off at Eleanor at the time but still…when all was said and done and everyone put their money in it was 200 pounds on the line. For a man who’s fortune isn’t huge that looked like a lot of money. When Max sees Eleanor for the first time, however, he’s mesmerized. He is completely smitten and ends up spending a week in her company at the horse races. They end up in a more intimate situation but as Max will be asking her to marry him he feels it’s all ok. The problem is that when it’s all said and done Eleanor took off without a word and returns all of his mail unopened. Max is devastated. Now it is five years later and he sees Eleanor again and finds that he’s just as much in love with her as he was before, maybe more. They are temporarily neighbors and he tries to see her every moment he can.

Eleanor is now thirty years old and she’s set her mind on never getting married. She saw her parents marriage and the sadness that plagued her mother. Her father was in his own studios world. She’s seen time and time again how marriages just don’t work and she doesn’t ever want to subject herself to that. She has money that came from her mother and no one tells her how to spend it or how to spend her time. She likes her independence! But if she’s honest with herself she never did fully get over her feelings for Max and the more she sees him the more her feelings grow. Unfortunately for Max there’s still the whole I’m-never-getting-married issue that Eleanor is determined to adhere to.

This was a very cute novella. I love reading about couples reuniting – especially after one has been hurt. I think that they dynamic between the two people is a bit more intense because of past hurts.

Eleanor had every right to be upset at Max – or so she thought. Facts come out during the story that prove that Max was sincere in his feelings for her. But when Eleanor thinks about it she still wants to be single. I was so happy to see Max not giving up on Eleanor as I’m sure his pursuit of her was incredibly frustrating. Eleanor was a tad melodramatic but still a great character. I admired her fortitude in the face of her many, many relatives as she was a caretaker. She took her “duties” seriously, she just needed to think of herself a bit more and what she wanted from her future.

Max was wonderful. Seeing him court Eleanor in his own sneaky and underhanded way was wonderful - he was a charmer, no doubt about it. The fact that he never gave up on his love for Eleanor warmed my heart and I wanted nothing more than for them to be together.

I thought the story was charming and I spent a nice bit of time reading about these great characters.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Miranda Neville

Review: Heart of the Dragon's Realm by Karalynn Lee

Princess Kimri is used to betrayal. Her brother sold her to a king in exchange for swords to defend his lands. King Tathan's reputation is as fierce as that of his mountain kingdom—where dragons are said to guard the castle walls—but the realms are unstable enough without angering the mountain-king, so Kimri reluctantly agrees to the union.

When she arrives in Helsmont, the king promises her a year of courtship before marrying—or parting ways. Before long, Kimri thinks she may find comfort, and perhaps eventually love, with the stoic king.

But the realms are more unsettled than Kimri realizes, and she soon finds herself caught in the middle of a war between the kingdoms. Can she count on her betrothed to take her side? Or will his loyalty to his kingdom come before his loyalty to her?

Kimri is pissed off at her brother the king of Anagard because he's sold her her to the Mountain king of Helsmont for swords and arrows to. I guess she'd have every right to be but she ends up trying to make the most of it. When she gets to Helsmont she experiences things like never before. The freedom to roam the city, meet new people and get to know them, and start to fall for the king.

Life is so very different for Kimri in Helsmont but she starts to grow to love the city and its people. The king is definitely more stoic than expected but she loves the time they share at breakfast whether they complete in silence or talking about the city.

When Kimri finds out that her brother has been captured by Anagard's enemy Kimri heads to the Mountain-king for assistance – which he denies. Kimri decides that she needs to take matters into her own hands. Kimri hopes to save her brother and her relationship with Tathan but that never turns out the way they plan, does it?

This was a very different read for me. I usually read straight romance and this is definitely more of a fantasy with romantic elements. Despite that I really liked the book. It was a little slower than I normally like but it was so interesting I couldn't be bothered by it too much.

The love story that was involved in the story was good but was on the sparse side when it came to romance. Kimri was a headstrong woman and Helsmont allowed her to be more herself than she felt even in her own country. I liked that we got to see her in her wanderings and getting to know the townspeople. We didn't get too much from Tathan, the Mountain-king, but what we did get to know of him, I liked.

Overall it was a good story with humor, love, family loyalty and much more. If you want a quick but good fantasy then this is the book for you.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Karalynn Lee

Saturday Song

Do you watch Supernatural?  I didn't before but I've slowly (very slowly) been making my way, via Netflix, through the many seasons.  One of many things I love about the show is the music.  Classic rock is a staple and I love hearing some of the songs I haven't heard in a darned long time.  The other day this one, Long Way from Home by Foreigner (1977) was playing it just brought a smile to my face.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Mini-Review: Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James

In Eloisa James's companion story to The Ugly Duchess, Sir Griffin Barry, captain of the infamous pirate ship The Poppy, is back in England to claim the wife he hasn't seen since their wedding day . . . but this is one treasure that will not be so easy to capture.

In the novel, The Ugly Duchess we met Griffin. He was a pirate captain when he met up with his cousin, James. In one fight both men are injured after years on the sea and both Griffin and James pack it in and head back to England and their wives. We got James’s story in TUD but in this novella we get Griffin’s story.

Griffin, it turns out, didn’t want a life on the sea. He was press-ganged into it and soon came to love it. When Giffin was 17 his father married him off to a woman who was 3 years older. On their wedding night they have a bit of a situation and Griffin hightails it to a local pub to get stinking drunk. He certainly didn’t expect to wake up on a ship but that’s how it went and he just never returned home.

So, let’s recap.

Griffin’s married.

Griffin’s been at sea for 14 years and doesn't remember much about his wife.

Griffin and his wife never consummated their marriage.

Now Griffin heads back to his wife and uh, 3 children. He’s amazingly understanding about the fact that his wife didn’t wait for his return – he really couldn’t blame her for seeking solace elsewhere, but now that he’s home that will stop.

Phoebe Barry never expected her husband to come home. Now that he has she wants the marriage annulled. Griffin is having nothing of that. He actually likes Phoebe and wants to get to know her better – in and out of bed.

The novella is just a quick, but very cute telling of Griffin’s return home after his long absence. We don’t get too in depth emotionally but what we do see of both Griffin and Phoebe I really liked. There’s humor in the story and some a great reconciliation scene with Griffin’s father. I thought the novella was definitely worth reading – especially if you read The Ugly Duchess and got to know a bit about Griffin previously. A fun read.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Eloisa James

Review: A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long

She rose to spectacular heights…

From Covent Garden to courtesan to countess, beautiful, fearless, shamelessly ambitious Evie Duggan has riveted London in every role she plays. But the ton never could forgive her scandalous—if shockingly short—marriage, and when her star plummets amid gleefully vicious gossip, the countess escapes to the only legacy left to her: a manor house in Pennyroyal Green.

He never expected to fall so hard…

He has the face of a fallen angel and a smolder the devil would envy, but Vicar Adam Sylvaine walks a precarious line: resisting temptation…and the wild Eversea blood in his veins. Adam’s strength is tested when scandal, aka the countess, moves to Sussex. But when a woman who fiercely guards her heart and a man entrusted with the souls of an entire town surrender to a forbidden desire, will the sweetest sin lead them to Heaven...or make outcasts of them forever?

Evie Duggan went from an Ireland shack and taking care of her many siblings to being a stage actress to courtesan to an Earl’s wife. Now she’s a widow and has moved to Pennyroyal Green because it was the only property of her late husband’s that wasn’t entailed. She wants a new life but isn’t sure what to expect in this town. She enlists the help of the gorgeous local vicar, Adam Sylvaine, and asks him to help her get introduced to the local women’s society.

Adam is a Godly man but he’s not dead. He sees Evie and knows that she’s incredibly beautiful but he also knows that he can do nothing about it. Unfortunately for him the two of them get closer and closer until he just can’t stop himself from giving her a small kiss. But where can the two of them go? He a vicar and she an ex-courtesan that the town has shunned – odds are not in their favor, that’s for sure.

Oh Adam, you gorgeous man of the cloth! I loved this guy. I mean I liked him when he showed up in previous books but I didn’t really get to know him until this story and it was so, so good. His longing for Evie and the aching tenderness he felt for her just about did me in. I loved it! He took the time to see who she really was and not what everyone else saw on the surface. Now he did act like a horses ass a time or two because of doubts having to do with her past reputation but hey, he’s a man, right? I forgave him his faults.

Evie had made every decision in her life based on what it would do to help her family. She didn’t think of herself but wanted to take the best care of her siblings and their children that she could. (I’m not sure what happened to all her siblings as we really only hear about Cora and Seamus). Anyway, meeting and falling for the local vicar is not something Evie planned on doing. She thought she could manipulate him and then become a part of the community but Adam was made of sterner stuff than Evie thought and she starts to see a man she can truly admire. I loved reading how each of them kind of pulled the blinders off their eyes when it came to the other and it was oh so good. And I discovered you can do a hell of a lot on a settee! lol

This story made my heart ache for Evie and for Adam. It made me smile for them and of course other people in their community that they’d helped. The book riled such emotion in me and I have to say I loved it. Such a good book.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Julie Anne Long

Review: The Gravedigger's Brawl by Abigail Roux

Dr. Wyatt Case is never happier than when he’s walking the halls of his history museum. Playing wingman for his best friend at Gravedigger’s Tavern throws him way out of his comfort zone, but not as much as the eccentric man behind the bar, Ash Lucroix.

Ash is everything Wyatt doesn’t understand: exuberant, quirky, and elbow deep in a Gaslight lifestyle that weaves history into everyday life. He coordinates his suspenders with his tongue rings. Within hours, Wyatt and Ash are hooked.

But strange things are afoot at Gravedigger’s, and after a knock to the head, Ash starts seeing things that can’t be explained by old appliances or faulty wiring. Soon everyone at Gravedigger’s is wondering if they’re seeing ghosts, or just going crazy. The answer to that question could end more than just Wyatt and Ash’s fragile relationship—it might also end their lives.

Wyatt Case isn’t happy. He’s about to lose his job as curator at a museum in Richmond, VA because the trustees made a huge mistake. They want Wyatt to save their asses and frankly he can’t quite figure out how. Wyatt’s friend and coworker Noah shows up and takes him out for a drink to distress – oh, and to have him meet a guy he thinks Wyatt will like. Wyatt’s not thrilled at being set up but when he and Noah head to Gravedigger’s Tavern he’s pretty happy with the man he’s to meet, Ash.

Ash isn’t quite sure what to make of Wyatt but the more they talk the more they like each other. They end up in bed together but Wyatt, who doesn’t have one night stands, isn’t quite sure what to do once Ash falls asleep. He makes the wrong choice and leaves. This doesn’t exactly endear him to Ash and even with Wyatt apologizing things are tense between the two men. Ash, however, provides an idea for Wyatt and now the museum curator thinks he has a way to drum up business for the museum and make the trustees happy.

Wyatt and Noah have Ash tell them ghost stories that center around Richmond and Wyatt and Noah then do research to find the “true” story behind the ghost story/folklore. This is all fun and interesting until they dig up disturbing information on the house that Gravedigger’s Tavern is now situated. On top of that nasty bit of information Ash starts seeing and hearing things and is attacked on his way home one night. The problem is that everyone blames it on a head injury that he sustained. When things start getting creepier and Ash starts doubting his sanity more and more can the bar employees along with Wyatt and Noah try to figure out what’s causing the unusual activities.

This was an unexpected find for me. When I read the blurb of the book it looked interesting but by the cover I thought it was an m/m historical. Though those aren’t my favorite I was willing to give it a chance. Imagine my surprise and delight when I figured out it was a contemporary with a lot of history involved?!

The characters involved in the story were wonderful. Wyatt and Ash – I can’t tell you how much I loved them. They each had their own quirks and though they were quite different they got along perfectly – well, after that initial screw up by Wyatt. The other characters were Noah who ends up with the own of Gravedigger’s Tavern and then the other bar employees Delilah and Ryan. All of them were so comfortable together and you could tell that even though Noah and Wyatt were new to their group they fit in perfectly.

The ghost part of the story was, well, scary. I loved the writing in this book as it really did a great job of pulling me in to the moment and scaring me more than a bit. It wasn’t horror but it was enough to really make me more than a bit tense while I was reading. I'm not going to tell you anything because I think part of the joy of the book was watching it all unfold.

I loved the way the story played out and I think that this is a great book. A really good read and definitely one I recommend.

Rating: 4.25/4.5 out of 5

Abigail Roux

What I Read Last Week

Another week goes by – how do they keep happening so quickly? lol

This week was pretty interesting. I had lunch with a couple of friends that I hadn’t seen for a while which was nice. My youngest went to a Halloween/birthday costume party and had a great time, and had a bit of a family thing with my hubby’s side of the family for his dad’s 75th birthday. Lots of fun. I have pictures but I left my phone at home today (I know, how could I have DONE that?) so I’ll post them later.

I managed to buy a used Kindle and have it delivered. I was so damned excited because I only had to be without an ereader for 4 days! YAY! lol Unfortunately I was emailing the company the next day asking them how I can return it. It’s screwed up - defective battery, freezing on me, home screened jacked up – I’m sad again. On the bright side I then bought a used one straight from Amazon and it will come with a warranty (too bad I hadn’t figured that out before I bought the other one – hindsight and all that) and hopefully that will be here by the end of the week. I only had an ereader back for a day so my week went boo, YAY, boo. lol Being without an ereader is HARD!

On to what I read this past week:

I started off the week with my TBR Challenge review book I Kissed an Earl by Julie Anne Long - book 4 in the Pennroyal Green series. This was a wonderful story that takes place mostly on a ship – which I love. You can read my full review here. 5 out of 5

Next up was Charmed by His Love by Janet Chapman – a book that I read for Book Binge. This is the story of a widowed mother of 4, Peg, who is on her last penny but things start looking up when a local resident starts building a resort nearby and have to use her gravel pit. The man negotiating the gravel contract, Duncan McKeage, ends up falling in love with the woman but not before he saves her from many accidents and finds his own power – literally. This was a very cute story that I enjoyed reading. I liked Duncan a lot and loved that he fell in love with Peg’s children as much as with her. 3.5 out of 5

Next up was Unraveled by Courtney Milan. I could swear that I had finished the Turner Brothers series but apparently not. I can’t believe I didn’t read this one before as it was FABULOUS. The story is about Smite Turner who is a magistrate and is called – unkindly – Lord Justice. He listens to everyone and takes the cases that come before him seriously – unlike his fellow magistrates. He doesn’t let class skew his judgment. He sees a woman in his court who he’s seen before but she is in disguise. When he confronts her she runs but he finds her and he ends up asking her to be his mistress. Smite is a tortured soul and Miranda soothes him. It was an amazing story that I can’t possibly even summarize well but it’s definitely worth reading – so good. 5 out of 5

A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde is the story of Lissette who was recently widowed and just found out that her 2 year old is almost completely deaf – with no hope for a reversal. She’s depressed and the stress is making her crazy. Her husband left his life insurance money to a half brother that Lissy didn’t even know existed so she’s nearing her last bit of money. Rafferty Jones is the half brother who just found out that his brother is dead as he’s been out of the country. He heads to Texas to give Lissy the money as he feels that his brother should have left it to her instead. Rafferty and Lissy don’t exactly hit it off initially but soon they become friends and start something more. There are some issues that need to be dealt with but really it’s the issue of - is this really love or is it just because we’re mourning together? Good story. 3.75 out of 5

Last for the week was The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux. This is the story of a bar called Gravedigger’s Tavern and it’s employees – as well as 2 men who work at a local museum. I’ll post my review in a couple of days so keep your eyes open for that.

My Book Binge Reviews that posted this past week:
Because of You by Cathy Maxwell

Happy Reading!

Naughty & Nice Holiday Hop Giveaway

In honor of the November 5th release of Naughty & Nice by Ruthie Knox, Molly O'Keefe & Stephanie Sloane Random House is giving away lots of stuff!  You can enter below but be sure and head to Romance at Random to see what other blogs are participating in the hop.  The more blogs you visit - the higher your chances are of winning a prize.  Good Luck!

About the book:
’Tis the season for romance with three original holiday-themed novellas! Unwrap this festive eBook bundle and discover why these authors are quickly becoming the biggest names in the genre. Ruthie Knox tells a heartwarming contemporary story of first loves given the gift of a second chance; Molly O’Keefe releases the ghosts of Christmas past with a prequel to her novel Crazy Thing Called Love; and Stefanie Sloane weaves an irresistible Regency tale of fiery passion that burns deep on a cold winter’s night.

ROOM AT THE INN by Ruthie Knox
Carson Vance couldn’t wait to get out of Potter Falls, but now that he’s back to spend Christmas with his ailing father, he must face all the people he left behind . . . like Julie Long, whose heart he broke once upon a time. Now the proprietor of the local inn, Julie is a successful, seductive, independent woman—everything that Carson’s looking for. But despite several steamy encounters under the mistletoe, Julie refuses to believe in happily ever after. Now Carson must prove to Julie that he’s back for good—and that he wants her in his life for all the holidays to come.
Maddy Baumgarten and Billy Wilkins are spontaneous, in love, and prepared to elope the day after Christmas—that is, if Maddy’s family doesn’t throw a wrench in their plans. After all, Maddy’s barely out of high school and Billy’s a notorious bad boy. Maddy doesn’t care about Billy’s rough past—all she cares about is living in the here and now. But after Maddy’s mother stops speaking to her in protest, and a Christmas Eve heart-to-heart with her father leaves her with butterflies, Maddy starts to get cold feet. She loves Billy, but is she taking this big step too soon?
After being jilted by her fiancĂ©, Jane Merriweather turns to her dear childhood friend, the Honorable Lucas Cavanaugh, for support—and unlocks the smoldering desire simmering in the man’s troubled heart. Frightened by his newfound feelings, Lucas flees to Scotland. But when the Christmas season brings them together again, one glance is all that’s needed to reignite his yearning. If Lucas can convince Jane that his intentions are as pure as the falling snow, they’ll turn a dreary December into a joyous Yuletide affair.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Lean on Me by HelenKay Dimon

Cassidy Clarke once climbed the world’s highest mountains, but after an unexpected illness ends her career she’s back in her hometown, broke and hoping for a little luck. But the townsfolk aren’t exactly putting out a welcome mat for the woman who once snubbed them in the media, despite her apologies now.

Mitch Anders knows someone has set up camp on the grounds of his plant nursery, and he’s surprised to find his sexy high school crush ducking questions about where she’s staying. Though he’s sworn to stop cleaning up other people’s messes, Mitch offers Cassidy a job and a place to stay—his place. Bedsharing optional, but definitely welcome.

Out of options and too attracted to Mitch to keep things platonic, Cassidy says yes to his offer. She wants to get back on her feet financially and start a new career. She never expects to suffer a different kind of fall, one that has her believing Mitch just might bring her something bigger and better than luck.

Cassidy is about down to her last penny. She's had her money stolen from someone she trusted and now her step-father won't even let her into the house she grew up in. He loves her to pieces so she's not sure what's going on. She just knows that she has nowhere to stay. She ends up pupping her tent in Holloway's nursery but that doesn't last long before she's discovered. To make it all worse she's being pursued by Mitch Anders who works at the nursery and she's not sure how she feels about that.

Mitch always liked Cassidy and even thought they'd start to go out in high school when she blew him off for their psuedo-date. He's now hot on her trail and can't seem to stop himself. He's not happy at all when he finds out that Cassidy is sleeping in the nursery. He eventually ends up offering his home but that just means they're in close quarters and that means he's not going to be able to keep his hands off her.

This was another great story in the Holloway series. So far I've really liked what I read with the characters from Holloway and can't wait to read more.

Mitch was pretty forward with Cassidy and I really liked that about him. He wasn't afraid to go after what he wanted (until his feelings started getting mixed up in it) and was charming enough to pull it off. I liked how he handled most of the situations in the story – although at one point I wanted to slap him silly for being a stupid man. Lol I forgave him though. :)

Cassidy was just down and out. The poor girl had gone through all kinds of hell both physically, in her profession and emotionally. I wish she would have confided in Mitch sooner than she did but I understood that pride stood in her way. That damned pride tends to do a number on people, doesn't it?

Anyway, a very cute story that I enjoyed. It had humor and of course I love when an author puts a smile on my face. Definitely worth reading.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

HelenKay Dimon

Saturday Song

Here's Thunderbird by Call Me No One - a band that released their first album this year.  Enjoy!


Interview with author Jessica Scott + a giveaway!

Please welcome Jessica Scott to the blog!  Jessica had a new release come out recently.  Until There Was You was released from Loveswept on Oct. 8th.  It's the second book in the Coming Home series and it's not to be missed!  

Today I'm asking Jessica a few questions that inquiring minds want to know...ok I wanted to know but I figured you'd like to know the answers as well!

* I'm amazed that you have a military career, children and a husband (and lots of other stuff going on, I'm sure) and still find time to put a great story together. When do you find time to write?

I'm a chronic insomniac. Plus I don't typically watch a lot of TV so when you add not sleeping plus no TV, you end up with a lot of time on your hands.

* When you DO find time is it a "omg I have to get this done so I can get back to ____" moment? Or is it a more soothing time for you?

I get a great sense of accomplishment from getting things done and for me, that soothing moment is writing the end on a book I've enjoyed writing. Writing, spending time with my characters, that's my me time, you know?

* When I met you at RWA you mentioned that Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooter series spurred you to write your own book. What exactly was the impetus and are there any other authors that inspired you?

I remember reading Sam and Alyssa's book back in OCS and thinking wow, I really want to write a story like that. I mean, people were raving about it when it finally came out. For me, my Troubleshooters book was Cosmo's book. He's stuck with me for years since I first read it and ultimately, I want to write the kind of book that sticks with people, you know?

* Do you already know how many books will be in the Coming Home series or are you playing it by ear?

I have no plan, lol! The series will go where it takes me. I'm currently working on the third book in my contract, which is Laura & Trent's story Back to You and I've already started work on my 4th Coming Home novel which will feature Reza's story (you meet him in UNTIL THERE WAS YOU and he is, to put it gently, a hot mess). After that, there are a ton of other ideas bouncing around my head. We shall see where they take me!

I first started writing this series way back in 2007 when I was away from my family for the first time. The series has molded and grown and changed but the characters of Evan & Claire are still the same characters that I first started writing when they were originally the 3rd book I ever wrote. They've grown a lot, as I have as a writer, but they've stuck with me. Laura & Trent are the same way. So these characters in the Coming Home series have gone through a lot to get their time on the page, if that makes sense?

It makes perfect sense and I can't wait to read more in this series.  Great information, Jessica, thank you!  Also, thanks for taking the time to visit today!

Giveaway: Jessica is offering up a copy of Until There Was You to one lucky winner.  Go ahead and leave a comment on this blog no later than 7:00pm on 10/26/12 to enter to win.

Iced by Karen Marie Moning - It's Almost Here!

How many of you are looking forward to Moning's soon to be released book, Iced?  Well here's a little preview for those of you who have to feed the need now.  Enjoy!Iced: A Dani O'Malley Novel (Fever Series) by Karen Marie Moning

TBR Challenge Review: I Kissed an Earl by Julie Anne Long

Violet Redmond's family and fortune might be formidable and her beauty and wit matchless--but her infamous flare for mischief keeps all but the most lionhearted suitors at bay. Only Violet knows what will assuage her restlessness: a man who doesn't bore her to tears, and a clue to the fate of her missing brother. She never dreamed she'd find both with a man whose own pedigree is far from impeccable.

"Savage" is what the women of the ton whisper about the newly styled Earl of Ardmay--albeit with shivers of pleasure. Born an English bastard, raised on the high seas, he's on a mission to capture a notorious pirate for vengeance. But while Violet's belief in her brother's innocence maddens him, her courage awes him . . . and her sensuality finally undoes him. Now the man who once lost everything and the girl who has everything to lose are bound by a passion that could either end in betrayal . . . or become everything they ever dreamed.

Violet Redmond is bored. It’s not that she doesn’t love being the daughter of a very wealthy man but there’s just not much that gets her blood pumping. Because of this she tends to make impulsive decisions that may not be the best ones. When she meets the Earl of Ardmay at a ball she’s not sure what to think of him. Especially when he seems to think that her brother, Jonathan, is a notorious pirate – one that he’s been asked to bring to the King to bring to justice. Violet immediately lets him know that Jonathan could not possibly be the pirate Le Chat but when she receives more clues about the infamous Le Chat she begins to believe it IS her brother…her brother Lyon. Lyon left Pennyroyal Green over a year ago and no one had heard from him since but the clues Violet gathers all point to him. Jonathan doesn’t believe any of it so Violet takes matters in to her own hands and manages to stowaway on the Earl of Ardmay’s ship.

Asher Flint, the Earl of Ardmay, is understandably pissed off when he discovers Violet on his ship – even more so when he finds out exactly why she is there. He is intrigued by her, however, and though they are at constant odds he can’t help but be impressed by Violet for many different reasons. The couple eventually fall in love but how can they ever be together when he’s going to arrest her brother and see him (possibly) hanged? Where does Violet’s loyalties lie?

This is book 4 in the Pennyroyal Green series and though I’m reading them almost backwards (I read book 5 then 3, 6, 7, now 4) it didn’t ruin anything for me. Getting to know the characters that I’ve read about in more recent books just brings it all together in my head.

Violet and Asher were fantastic characters to read about. Their extremely tumultuous relationship was nothing short of brilliant and I adored every minute of it. These two people were so very different yet appreciated those differences. Violet for all her family's wealth and position had never known love between a man and a woman – only familial love - and Asher was basically raised on a ship after barely having had a family at all. The falling in love part was kind of like pulling a veil from around their faces and seeing the world in a completely different way. *sigh* It was just so good!

Asher, for all his rough edges had a way about him that just spoke to me. At one point in the book Asher meets Lyon and they talk about Violet and why they love her. Lyon says, pretty much, I know why I love Violet – but why do you? I won’t give you the entire answer as that’s something you have to read for yourself but a part of it – and mainly the part he thought in his head – just made my heart flutter (yes, it can actually do that!):

“I’ve very little experience of what they like to call the finer emotions, Mr. Redmond. I haven’t your talent for grander expression…I can only tell you…”

How in God’s name to describe Violet? It was like trying to describe his own heart, which naturally he’d never actually seen. It was an idea, his heart; he felt it beat inside him, sending life coursing through his veins. He needed it. It was everything.

OMG that last paragraph…so damned good. Which basically describes how I felt about this book – So. Damned. Good.

I can’t say enough about how much I loved this book but if you haven’t read this series and you love historical romances then I have to say you’d definitely missing out.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Julie Anne Long

The Avon Social Reader

The Avon Social Reader
New App integrates with Facebook to allow advance excerpts, sharing, and DRM-free purchasing

New York, NY – October 16, 2012 –Around the world, women are reading in new ways, often online or on a device, and sharing what they read via social media outlets. In many cases, Facebook has become a key part of the equation. Consumers are spending hours each day browsing the latest headlines while interacting with their friends, families and acquaintances through the platform.  Now, leading romance publisher Avon Books is piloting a free Facebook app,, which will give readers the chance to read excerpts from Avon’s latest books, share their favorites with friends, and discover new content based on what their friends are reading.  Up to 20 percent of each book will be available to read, and once a book is browsed in the app, a person can choose to have that book show up in their News Feed or timeline for friends to see. There will also be clickable buy links to DRM-free editions of the selected Avon books from  Consumers can also choose to purchase DRM-enabled versions of the books at other online retailers.
A recent online consumer survey indicated that romance readers are highly active in the digital arena, purchasing e-books and sharing information via social channels.  Many of the respondents pointed to Facebook as being the center point of their social/digital sharing world.  “Many are using apps to share the news stories that they are reading online instantly with their friends,” says Liate Stehlik, Senior Vice President and Publisher of William Morrow and Avon Books.  “The recent word-of-mouth phenomenon surrounding Fifty Shades of Gray confirms that women are talking about the books they are reading in equal measure.  Thus, Avon worked to create a simple way for friends to connect on Facebook over the books they are most passionate about.”

She continues, “The Avon Social Reader is a fun, user-friendly way for readers to sample an interesting mix of excerpts posted to this Facebook app every month, and then virally spread the news about what they are reading via social media.”

Partnering with allows Avon, for the first time, to offer a DRM-free option to their authors and readers, “a publishing capability many of them had asked us to pursue,” Stehlik says.  The files can be delivered as secure Adobe ePub -book editions.  Bestselling author Tessa Dare expresses her excitement, saying, “I know that DRM can be a frustration for honest, paying readers who just want to purchase and read books on their preferred devices.  Avon's experiment will help me reach a new segment of the digital readership.”  New York Times bestseller Cathy Maxwell says, “I'm excited that readers will now have a new way to get the inside scoop on our books – and what a great, easy way to share with all of their friends on Facebook!

The Avon Social Reader is intuitive and easy to use.  Fully integrated within Facebook Platform, the app enables readers to flip from status updates to a book excerpt that a friend is reading with one quick click. The more they use the app and interact, the better it gets! 

The Avon Social Reader will be launched out via Facebook today, with excerpts and buy links for the following titles:

·        A Blood Seduction: A Vamp City Novel  by Pamela Palmer
·        A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare
·        A Night Like This by Julia Quinn
·        A Scandalous Scot by Karen Ranney
·        A Warrior's Promise by Donna Fletcher
·        A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
·        After the Abduction by Sabrina Jeffries
·        Chosen: A Dark Breed Novel by Sable Grace
·        Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville
·        Darkness Becomes Her by Jaime Rush
·        Dark Desire by Christine Feehan
·        How to Be a Proper Lady: A Falcon Club Novel by Katharine Ashe
·        Lady Alexandra's Excellent Adventure: A Summersby Tale by Sophie Barnes
·        Last Vamp Standing by Kristin Miller
·        Lyon's Bride: The Chattan Curse by Cathy Maxwell
·        Mating Season: A Cabin Fever Novella by Alice Gaines
·        Nine Lives of an Urban Panther by Amanda Arista
·        Once Burned: A Night Prince Novel by Jeaniene Frost
·        Perilous Pleasures by Jenny Brown
·        Sins of a Virgin by Anna Randol
·        Skies of Fire: The Ether Chronicles by Zoe Archer
·        Tarnished: The St. Croix Chronicles by Karina Cooper
·        The Art of Duke Hunting by Sophia Nash
·        The Way to a Duke's Heart: The Truth About the Duke by Caroline Linden
·        Under a Vampire Moon: An Argeneau Novel by Lynsay Sands
·        Wanted: Undead or Alive by Kerrelyn Sparks
·        When Dreams Come True by Cathy Maxwell
·        Wicked Road to Hell: A League of Guardians Novel by Juliana Stone
·        Winter Garden by Adele Ashworth

Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.

More information about The Avon Social Reader is available online at Avon’s Facebook page, or via the direct link,

What I Read Last Week

Happy Monday!

Well, I wish I could say that it’s a happier Monday than it is. I’m in mourning as my Kindle died a horrible death last night. Actually it was more a matter of it dying in its sleep. It was fine yesterday afternoon when I stuck it on my bedside stand but then last night when I went to get it the screen was dark with horizontal and vertical lines on it and apparently that’s a death knell. It lived a good life but now I’m without an ereader as I lent my EZreader to a friend of mine. Oy. Imagine, I had to actually pick up a print book today! Luckily it was the one I planned on reading next anyway so it all worked out. I’m in the process of getting another Kindle – hopefully I won’t have to be in withdrawal too long.

Other than that it was a pretty quiet week. There was one day that I was so tired that I left work early, went home, crawled into bed at about 5pm and didn’t wake up until 6:30 the next morning. Wow.

On to what I read this past week:

First up was Deadly Silence by Victor J. Banis. This is book 5 in the Deadly Mystery series and it was another great book. Now, I wanted to beat Stanley a bit in this book as he was annoying me a bit but other than that it was definitely worth the read. Stanley and Tom are hired by a woman to find out who is trying to kill her father and the suspects are many. 4 out of 5

A Deadly Kind of Love is book 6 in the Deadly Mystery series by Victor J. Banis and as far as I know the last one written. In this story Tom and Stanley head out to Palm Springs, CA to help their friend Chris when he finds a dead body in his bed at the hotel he’s staying at. This one was a bit more on the tense side for me but good. I wanted more from Tom and Stanley’s relationship after what happened in the previous book but we didn’t get too much insight into that, unfortunately. 4 out of 5

Next I picked up Untamed by Sara Humphreys. This is a paranormal /shapeshifter story about a woman who is half shifter/half human and the full blooded shifter that is her mate. I got about halfway through the story and was not into the book at all. I was a little bored and didn’t care for the heroine so unfortunately this ended up being a DNF.

Hot and Haunted by Lauren Hawkeye, Megan Hart and Saranna DeWylde was a three story anthology with some far out stories. There was one with a girl trying to seduce a man whose car is stuck in a ditch, one with a US Marshal who’s hunting a serial killer and one with a girl, her two men and a zombie apocalypse. You can read my review on this book here. 3.5 out of 5

Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas is book 2 in the Fitzhugh trilogy series. This is the story of Millie and Fitz. Fitz is just 19, has just come into his title as an Earl and finds that he’s forced to marry as the title is destitute. Millie is just 16 and had been engaged to the previous Earl before he died. Millie falls for Fitz immediately but Fitz is in love with a woman with no money and their love is not to be. Millie and Fitz make a pact that they won’t have marital relations for 8 years and Fitz can live as if they are friends and not married. The book takes us through current times with Fitz seeing his lost love again and also through periods of time from their past 8 years. The book was well written and utterly heart-wrenching as I read about the couple’s years together. I wanted to kick Fitz in the balls and tell him to open his damned eyes but it all worked out. A painful (literally my chest ached!) and angst ridden book but very good, imho. 4 out of 5

Hunter’s Season by Thea Harrison is a novella in the Elder Races series and I think it’s my favorite novella so far. We get these wonderful stories in between full length novels and this one just worked for me so well. The story is about a commoner and palace guard in the Other lands who guards the Dark Fae queen. She ends up falling for and then protecting the Dark Fae Chancellor and they fall in love. I loved the setting, the solitude the couple had and, I guess, the normality of it all. Yes, the Chancellor was powerful but other than being in the Other lands no magic was used – just 2 people falling in love. Good stuff. 4 out of 5

Stygian’s Honor is book 27 (yes, you read that right) in the Breed series by Lora Leigh. The story is different as the Breeds look for 2 girls that have not been heard of for many years. They’re protecting 2 girls that the Genetics Council wants and the Breeds want to know why their after them. Stygian falls for Liza but the whole romance and mating heat and the woman wanting her independence thing was just too similar to other books to be exciting. It was a good book but nothing spectacular, imho. 3 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)

Last for the week was a re-read. My Fair Captain by JL Langley is still one of my favorite m/m books. It was one of the first ones I read and I love it still. The latest book in this series just came out and I bought it almost immediately. I think thought…ya know, it’s been so long since I’ve read the other books I should probably do a re-read. (Easier freakin said than done with the Kindle gone – waaaah. *Ahem*) The story of Nate and Aiden is so great. I usually don’t like historical m/m but the fact that Regelence accepts the gay men changes everything for me. If you haven’t read this series yet I highly recommend it. Of course we had to wait 4 years in between books 2 & 3 but hey, anticipation is good for us, right? lol 5 out of 5

And I thought I had this lovely picture that I once got from Lisabea aka LB Gregg of what Nate looks like - or at least what he looks like in our heads, but I can't locate it.  Too many computers to check.  I'll post it if I find it. :)

My Book Binge Reviews that posted last week:
When the Duchess Said Yes by Isabella Bradford

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

A friend of mine from college and I were talking this past week and we were reminiscing about that time long, long ago.  We got on the subject of music and of course we were laughing about our incredible love for Def Leppard all those years ago.  I think my friend had the biggest crush on the lead singer ever! lol  *sigh* fun times.  Anyway here's an oldie but goodie from Def Leppard
Hysteria.  Enjoy


Review: Hot and Haunted by Megan Hart, Lauren Hawkeye and Saranna DeWylde

Nothing Else Matters by Megan Hart

After surviving the zombie apocalypse, Lira wants nothing more than the sense of life that only lust can bring. Suddenly torn between two irresistible lovers, Lira must choose: the one who brings her carnal fantasies to life? Or the one who sets her ablaze again and again?

Lira and six others are encamped in a synagogue trying to survive in post apocalyptic Pittsburgh. Lira is immune to the black spores that turn people in to zombies or Resurrect's so she is the one that goes on missions to get food and supplies. When she returns she needs the life affirming skin on skin action that only sex can provide. Anthony who is part of her group is the one that provides that. He is in love with Lira but she feels that she can't get attached to him because she never knows when or if she'll return.

On one such mission she is attacked by Resurrect's and saved by Mac. He is a former military man and when the get away from the zombies Mac is the one that provides her skin on skin. But what this brings her is not necessarily peace but the knowledge that she can love in return.

This story was kind of bizarre when it came to the zombies. How they became zombies what happened to them during the story was just fantastical. Of course it was meant to be that way, I'm sure, so it certainly achieved its goal.

The story revolves around the theme of death and destruction but also hope and love and what that means when everything else is falling apart. It was good in that way, definitely. The story was too short though and I wanted more as I felt it was incomplete, but that's just me.

Pick Me Up by Lauren Hawkeye

Sure, hitchhiking is dangerous, but Holly just had to get away. Now soaking wet and stuck in a downpour with her roadside savior, she's ready for a little window-steaming and some role-play. It's all fun and games until Holly realizes she's met her match . . .

In this story Holly causes a man to drive his car into a ditch and then sits in the car with him to wait for a tow. Holly has concocted the story that she's a stripper and seduces people when really she's a grad student that's upset with her boyfriend. Earlier that day she'd found a dvd that showed her boyfriend screwing her ex-husband and his wife – kinky. I understood Holly's need to feel desired but the story just went in too many strange places for me – especially at the end. The way it ended was highly unlikely and kind of ruined what could have been a good story.

Little Red's Big Bad by Saranna DeWylde

Hunting werewolves and being snowbound in a remote cabin with a sexy FBI agent are all in a day's work for U.S. Marshal Miranda Garrick. But when business mixes with pleasure, can she stay in control? Or will she be tempted by unrestrained passion . . . and tantalizing danger?

This was my favorite of the three stories. We have Miranda Garrick who is a US Marshall who is looking for an escaped convict who not only kills but eats his victims. She pairs up with FBI agent Aden Brewster and the sexual chemistry between the two of them is off the charts. When they get stuck in a cabin during a snow storm they let their passions run wild. That's when Miranda thinks that Aden might not be who he says he is.

This was a great story. It kept me on the edge of my seat with both the erotic and suspense aspects of it. I loved how tough Miranda was and that she didn't take crap from anyone. Aden was a total hotty and knew how to make Miranda happy. The ending of it was a nice twist as well and though there were no full explanations there was enough there to be satisfying.

Overall a very erotic set of stories. I do with we had gotten more from all the stories but it is what it is.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Megan Hart
Lauren Hawkeye
Saranna DeWylde