#FBF: Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness


#FBF, Flash Book Friday, is a sporadic (told y’all it’s sporadic!) meme in which I will share and discuss with you books that I’ve read in the past (pre-blog) that has made an impression on me. Yup, because I really need more reasons to talk about books.

DISCOVERY OF WITCHES
All Souls Trilogy 1 | Deborah Harkness | February 20
I read Discovery of Witches before I started blogging and like most books, there were parts of it that I loved and some that I didn’t like as much. 
I love Deborah Harkness’ prose, it’s very literary and sometimes almost lyrical. I also appreciate a well researched novel especially as All Souls Trilogy has academics and scholars for heroes, Diana Bishop is a post graduate student while Matthew Clairmont is a geneticist. I know DHarkness is a college professor in real life and she really made use of her studies in the trilogy. Historical figures, facts, and significant places were carefully woven into her story and that really impressed me. 
Now Discovery of Witches was published at the height of Sookie Stackhouse, Twilight, and other vampire PNR/UF series that are fast paced, highly sexual, and filled with instant gratification. Matthew and Diana’s romance leans more towards the romantic side than it is lustful and greedy, it’s full of passion, devotion, and the sexual part taking a back seat. The tone of the trilogy is very literary fiction, very deliberate and compared to it’s more popular counterparts, it demands to be relished and not breezed through. Discovery of Witches is definitely no cheap trashy romance, it’s very smart and well written that even “snobbish” readers are won over by Matt and Diana’s tale. 
That said I was one of the select few who didn’t go gaga over this one. I was one of those readers who can’t get enough of the fast and furious action that PNR/UF lent and I wanted more of the smexy Alpha supes the likes of Eric Northman, Jacob Black, those Caldwell BDB vamps and them Dark-Hunters and their equally vamped up consorts. Almost the complete opposite of the cool and almost highbrow pair of Matt and Diana. 
Now even if I’m not blown away by the story, I still love escaping to it. The last of the trilogy, The Book of Life, is coming soon and from the events that took place in Shadow of Night, I sure would like to know what’s going to happen to Matt and Diana and how they’re going to pull off their mission.
Now I know that Discovery of Witches is being developed into a movie. Because of the imagery and romanticism of the tale, I’m sure it’ll make for a great film. DHarkness is very specific with her setting, myth, and world building, the holy trinity of fantasy, that only an incompetent cast, director, and production company can bungle up. Now that I’m excited for.
I have to cancel that out because I just found out (thanks for the update Bookwyrm!) that this fell through! Oh well, maybe the series could benefit from cable TV a la Outlander. Hopefully DHarkness goes that route instead.

Naughty Nooner: My Hunger by Lisa Renee Jones + Giveaway

Series: Inside Out 3.2

Format: eGalley
Release Date: June 7, 2014
Publisher: Pocket Star
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Erotica | Romantic Suspense | BDSM

From New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones, an Inside Out series e-short told from Mark’s point of view, as he battles his all-consuming desire for Crystal.

Devastated by Rebecca’s death, Mark is facing the chaos of the press and the police investigation alone, his reputation, his business, and even his freedom under threat. When a family emergency sends him back east to New York, he puts Crystal—who’s as capable as she is challenging—in charge of his San Francisco art gallery. A Master, all about control, right now he feels that he has none. With his secret sex club and his relationships of the past in the spotlight, Mark finds sanctuary in the one place he promised he would never be again—but cannot seem to resist. Crystal’s arms.

But this woman, she sees too much. She makes me do things I don’t do, and desire things I don’t want to.

I’m not the biggest fan of novellas but it’s impossible to pass up on the Inside Out ones, the hit romantica suspense series (now being developed for TV by Starz) by Lisa Renee Jones. So many things have happened and the characters have come a long way since Inside Out was released a couple of years ago. The primary reason why you’d be foolish to pass the novellas up is because each have their own story arc and are told in the voices of the other characters like Rebecca, Chris Merit and Mark Compton. Each impacts the overarching arc somehow so you get a better purview of things when you read it. Each has it’s own take on the story and mystery revolving around Rebecca’s disappearance, possible murder, and how it affected the lives of those around her. Mark Compton certainly changed a lot since Rebecca came and left his life, slowly shedding his cold condescending a-hole demeanor and showing us more of his human side.
MY HUNGER is Mark’s novella and told in his POV. On the outside, Mark seems cool, calm and collected but inside he’s ripped and overwhelmed by so many things that are going on in this life as of the moment. There’s Rebecca’s death and it’s impact has a big radius, encompassing not just his personal life but his business and his [BDSM] Club which can result to a huge scandal once the press gets a whiff of the entire situation. Then there’s Mark’s mother whom he’s very close too, fighting for her life as she battles breast cancer. The straw that might break the proverbial camel’s back is Crystal Smith. The vivacious, feisty and very vanilla employee of Riptide, the auction company owned by Mark’s family, who’s like a hurricane, leveling Mark each time he gets in contact with her. 
I love seeing this side of Mark and learning what he’s not sharing with others and showing on the outside. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Mark at first but these little novellas of him sure is helping me like him bit by bit. I also like where the series seems to be going, aside from the surprise upcoming 4th novel, LRJones’ is also hinting/teasing that Rebecca might still be alive. LRJones is relentless when it comes to this, skillfully toying with us so it’s futile to even try and figure this out at this point. 
Like I said, don’t make the mistake of skipping MY HUNGER. Mark’s arc is proving to be a great expansion to the series plot and I’m curious if Crystal will be able to bring the Grand Master Dom to his knees. It’s becoming quite the vanilla/kink battle and I want front row center seats because shiznit is about to go down.

The Novels
The Novellas

“Hi,” she says softly, almost timidly, and this part of her is as much who she is as the one who screamed more at me. The contrast appeals to me. She appeals to me.
“Hello, Ms. Smith,” I reply.
“Make up your mind,” she insists. “Is it Crystal or Ms. Smith?”
My lips curve. “I find I’m surprisingly willing to keep my options open where you’re concerned. Let me help you with your coat.” I step behind her, my hands settling on her shoulders, my actions making my words a command rather than a question. I do not intend to ask Crystal Smith for anything.
“Thank you,” she murmurs, shrugging out of the trench coat.
Testing the tension between us, I drag it down her arms, letting my hands caress the sheer red chiffon sleeves of her dress, and she shivers. The attraction between us is a simmering heat ready to boil over, and no matter how absolutely wrong she is for me, or me for her, we aren’t through with each
other.
The waiter appears and I’m handing off Crystal’s coat when she whirls around and intercepts it. “I’ll keep it here,” she says quickly.
The way she holds it close tells me she’s preparing for a fast retreat, which means I’d been right. She ran from my hotel room.
I motion to the seat, silently suggesting we sit, but she doesn’t immediately move. Of course not. That would suggest a hint of submission, and she doesn’t intend to submit. And since I don’t intend to ever convert another woman who isn’t already living the lifestyle, we have no options. We cannot fuck again, no matter how much tension is in the air.
So we stand there, the seconds ticking by, and I arch a brow. Her sweet little pink tongue flicks over her lush, red-painted lips, and I think of how close I’d been to having that tongue and mouth on my cock. I slide into the booth, noticing how Crystal sits far from the center, where lovers might gravitate. We, though, are not lovers. We are “just a fuck.” Not even two.
The waiter returns and offers us menus. Crystal accepts hers, opening it, and glances across the table at me. “Do you have a recommendation?”
“We’re both virgins tonight,” I say.
She laughs, mischief in her eyes. “I’m pretty sure you weren’t a virgin even when you were born, Mark Compton.” The waiter chokes and Crystal flushes, as if she’d forgotten he was there.
I cut a look at the college-age waiter, who is looking like a deer in the headlights, not sure if he should go or stay. “Do you have a recommendation?”
Looking relieved, he quickly replies, “Best burger and fries in New York City.”
“Just fries for me,” Crystal says. “And a Diet Coke.” She slides her menu across the table. “The diet drink makes up for the grease.”
This somehow perfectly fits the logic I’m coming to expect from her. “I’ll take the burger with my fries,” I say, also offering my menu to the waiter. “Well done, with bacon and cheddar cheese.” My lips quirk. “And a Diet Coke to combat the grease.”
He snatches up our menus and departs. Crystal smiles at me. “I’m a good influence on your diet.”
“Had I known Diet Coke killed grease, I’d have given up my gym routine and healthy eating for burgers and fries a long time ago.”
She sighs, and the tension I’d sensed in her seems to be fading. “Truthfully, I normally force myself to order a salad, but I’m just too exhausted to care tonight.”
“I trust you had our contracted courier handle the delivery of the auction items?”
“Yes. They should arrive tomorrow.”
“And I’ll head back to San Francisco tomorrow. They hope to release my mother from the hospital on Thursday, so if all goes well I’ll be back by then.”
“Don’t worry about Riptide. I’ll take care of the auction house and let you know if I have a problem I need help with.” Her tone sobers. “You can count on me, Mark. Nothing is going to change that, and I’m very attached to your mother.”
“As she is to you.” My curiosity about why she doesn’t work for her family’s computer empire gets the best of me. “Are you close to your mother, as well?”
“I love her very much, but we’re very different. I think I bond with your mother because we’re so alike.”
“Driven and hard-headed,” I comment. “I’d have to agree. And your mother is . . . ?”
She seems to consider her choice of words before saying, “Submissive.”
“Submissive,” I repeat, reminded of a few other comments that make me wonder if she’s more familiar with the BDSM world than she’s let on. “To your father?”
“To him and to everything. It’s her personality.”
“Then you inherited the dominant gene from your father, I assume.”
“I’m adopted, so what I inherited are overly protective, loving parents and two brothers. If they all had their way, I’d work for the family business and I’d live in a luxury apartment I didn’t earn myself. They’d examine the resumes of any men wishing to date me and ask for a medical report on anyone I slept with, and in general my world would be those roses and chocolates I mentioned.”
Her words seem playful, but there’s something dark in her eyes, something vulnerable—and if I’m right, there’s pain. “How old were you when you were adopted?” I ask, choosing my questions cautiously.
“Fourteen, and yes, it’s an old age to get adopted.”
I know what it’s like to bury something that hurts that you don’t want to be known, and I know when I see it in someone else, as I do now with her. Suddenly there’s so much more to Crystal Smith than there was before, an explanation for why I’m drawn to her.
About to ask where she was before the adoption, I silently curse when the waiter appears and places our drinks on the table.
“So,” Crystal says the instant we’re alone, as if she’s trying to direct the conversation away from whatever I might ask next. “You mentioned wanting to talk to me about something. What is it?”
Seeing no point in waiting, I reply, “I assume you know what happened with my gallery back in San Francisco?”
“I know your sales rep Mary was arrested for trying to move counterfeit art through Riptide, and shockingly Ricco Alvarez was involved. I’m not sure what makes a famous artist worth millions do such a thing.”
Jealousy over Rebecca. “The important thing is that you’re prepared for customers who might have read about it and have questions.”
“Your mother and I discussed how to handle press inquiries and customer concerns.”
There’s one problem solved. “Do you know about Rebecca?”
“The last I heard, she was on a leave of absence.”
A band seems to tighten around my chest. “She was.”
Brow furrowing, Crystal asks, “Was? She’s back or . . .” Her eyes go wide. “Oh no. Was she involved in the counterfeit situation, too? Your mother seemed to think so much of her. That would destroy her.”
She’s right. My mother was fond of Rebecca, much like she is of Crystal. “She wasn’t involved. She’s dead.”
I got 5 codes for a digital copy of MY HUNGER, draw open INT’L!


BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!!

If you’re a huge fan of the series like me, know that Lisa’s doing this pre-release party on her FACEBOOK PAGE
 starting today until June 7. 

Also if you’re a book blogger and have reviewed and/or featured any or all of the books in the series, Lisa’s doing this massive giveaway on her blog. Details here

Loved It: Dark Paradise by Angie Sandro

Series: Dark Paradise 1

Format: eGalley
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Forever Yours
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: New Adult | Urban Fantasy

DARK LEGACY

Mala LaCroix has spent her whole life trying to escape her destiny. As the last in a long line of “witch women,” she rejects the notion of spirits and hoodoo and instead does her best to blend in. But when she finds a dead body floating in the bayou behind her house, Mala taps into powers she never knew she had. She’s haunted by visions of the dead girl, demanding justice and vengeance.

DEADLY SECRETS

Landry Prince has always had a crush on Mala, but when Mala discovers his sister, murdered and marked in some sort of Satanic ritual, he wonders if all the rumors about the LaCroix family are true. Yet after Mala uses her connection to the spirit world to identify his sister’s killer, he starts to form his own bond to her . . . a very physical one. As they move closer to each other and closer to the truth, Mala and Landry must risk everything—their families, their love, and even their lives.

Isn’t the cover art simply gorgeous?! Wouldn’t you pick up the book just so you can look at it? I bet the print version is even better than the digital art, I hope the details are embossed too so it really pops out. Not only that, the rose against the dark and rustic background is expressive of how beautiful, dark, and creepy DARK PARADISE is, Angie Sandro’s debut novel. 
Set in the swamps of Louisiana, DARK PARADISE is more of a thriller than an action packed urban fantasy novel. Though Mala LaCroix is labelled as a witch, her abilities are more of the I-see-dead-people variety than serious hoodoo. Mala came from a line of women who have special abilities, they can see the dead, talk to the dead, call the dead, make a juju bag and some other tricks but nothing extraordinary. So don’t expect spell casting or psychopomps, expect lots of haunting and goosebump inducing scenarios courtesy of Lainey Price though, the murder victim and sister of Landry Price. I love the creep factor of DARK PARADISE and combined with the murky and foreboding swamps of Louisiana, I could easily scare myself if I think about it too much. 
The plot, conflict and resolution are great, I can’t nitpick anything about it. From the start I was drawn to the story and furiously swiping at the pages because I want to get to the bottom of the mystery. Until the end, I have no idea who the culprit is, was it really a Satanic ritual? Why was Lainey Price murdered? Is Mala involved in the murder? I have no clue what’s happening in the background as I was too engrossed with Mala and her coming to terms with her crift. That or my investigative skills and eye for detail are shot. I think it’s a toss-up. Anyway, ASandro really wrote creeptastic scenarios where illusion/imagination and reality are blurred at the moment. 
Overall, the characters are well crafted, except for Landry Price but I’ll get to him later. Mala has this vulnerability about her that made her quite an endearing character. Her mother can hear and see the dead too but it got too overwhelming that it drove her to seek solace from a bottle and random men who’d pay for her service. They love each other though but it’s heartbreaking to see Mala taking care of her mom when it should be the other way around. Then there’s the usual judgmental neighbors and friends who are quick to believe that Mala’s a witch and is up to no good. 
Landry Price. He’s gorgeous, a jock, and a champion of sorts. He should be the quintessential new adult hero who’s got everything except his parents are messed up and all that tortured hero stuff. Yeah, I didn’t care much for him and his character development is almost nil. Sure there’s some posturing and chest puffing here and there, but nothing spectacular stood out that had my 21yo self weak-kneed and googly eyed. He’s a good supporting character, I’ll give him that. 
Good thing the romance wasn’t essential to the story so my feelings towards Landry didn’t affect my DARK PARADISE experience. I love the darkness and mystery of the story although I hoped that the hoodoo went deeper than a juju packet, maybe I’ll get that in the next installment. DARK PARADISE gave quite the impression, ASandro wrote a captivating dark world and I want more of it. Dark Sacrifice should be an interesting follow up, Mala embracing her crift (curse/gift) should make for a good read and I do hope Landry develops an interesting personality in book 2 if he’s going to be her love interest.

Suped Up: Revealed: The Missing Years by Aleatha Romig

Series: Consequences 4

Format: Mobi
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Publisher: Self
Source: Author
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance

Book #4 of the Consequences series:

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes the thrilling conclusion of a powerful series about secrets and deception, passion and love, and choices and consequences.

The unexpected fourth novel of the Consequences series, REVEALED: The Missing Years is…

“The captivating missing piece that completes one of the most intricate, enthralling, and suspenseful stories I’ve ever read.” – Vilma’s Book Blog

Readers saw what happened on that fateful afternoon at the Rawlings Estate and heard about the aftermath. This fourth novel of the series is told through the men in Claire Nichols’ life and fills in the gap of time that was only previously mentioned. Like dominoes falling in a line, REVEALED allows readers to experience the shocking repercussions one by one, and witness their effect on everyone in the game.

“REVEALED: The Missing Years fills in more blanks than you could have imagined.”- Schmexy Girl Book Blog

Share the struggle as Anthony Rawlings fights for what is his as the crashing consequences of his past threatens to change his world forever. Join Harrison Baldwin as he discovers the truth that threatens his beliefs, and John Vandersol as he come to terms with his revelations. Witness as Phillip Roach decides with whom his loyalties lie, and Brent Simmons demonstrates the meaning of friendship—no matter the cost.

Readers of this series survived the Consequences, learned the Truth, and know who was Convicted, but that is not all. Do not assume that Tony and Claire’s story is complete, because beyond the conclusion of Convicted there is more to be REVEALED!

“Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him.” –James Allen

I know that some of you aren’t keen on reading alternate POV’s or companion novels. And that’s fine because in some cases, I am too. My reason is an alternate POV novel/novella is a form of reread and I’m not the type of reader who likes to reread, dogear scenes, highlight passages and commit it to memory. I envy people who can but I don’t like spoilers and rereads are basically a spoiled read for me. 
But like with most rules, there’s always an exception. REVEALED: The Missing Years is one of mine. If your a Consequences series fan and follower, trust me when I say that you NEED to read this. REVEALED: The Missing Years may be Convicted told in Anthony Rawlings’ POV but I promise you, this is no way a spoiled book or even a reread. It may be a companion novel but it dishes a whole chunk of story that wasn’t featured in Convicted.
Convicted was told mostly from Claire and the female supporting cast’s POV and the focal point of Convicted was Claire’s plight after she and Tony reunited and came back stateside to clear-up a lot of thing surrounding their relationship. What’s missing from Convicted was Tony’s whereabouts when Claire was hospitalized and after her recovery, Tony’s back a new man, redeemed, and humbled not just by the whole ordeal but by Claire’s love and forgiveness despite the abuse she got from his hands in the past. Tony’s road to redemption wasn’t shown in Convicted and finally you’ll get to see it in all it’s gory glory in REVEALED: The Missing Years.
Let me give you a quick recap. I hateD (past tense) Anthony Rawlings with a passion! If you haven’t read Aleatha Romig’s hit dark psychological romance series, Consequences, then I won’t spoil it for you. Suffice to say that Tony’s very particular about his wants and rules and he will manipulate you to either meet said rules or fail depending on his motive, regardless of the reason, there are always consequences and sometimes it’s pretty ugly. I can come up with a long list of reasons why he’s a horrible person but eventually, he conceded, admitted to his mistakes, and paid for it, therefore he got redeemed in my eyes. When Convicted wrapped up, I liked Tony for the man he became and loved him for how he made it up to Claire. 
In REVEALED: The Missing Years I can’t help but sympathize and empathize for the man I’ve demonized in my head for so long! I’m officially Team Tony now! ARomig spared nothing to bring Tony to his knees and it was both enthralling and touching to witness such a proud and powerful man humbled and supine by love and the desire to start over with a clean slate. No matter how hard I try, I can’t help but admire Tony and his graceful acceptance of his punishment. The darn man even made me teary on several occasions during his counseling sessions! Those were my favorite parts of the book btw, ARomig painted a man eager to rebuild his life and right a lot of wrongs that he did in the past all for Claire and the love she gave him in spite of. 
REVEALED: The Missing Years is not only the best installment in the series and a must-read, it’s also the most wrenching, challenging, and touching volume of the entire Consequences series. You think you know all the pieces of the puzzle and the behind the scenes in Convicted well you ain’t seen nothing yet! This epic love story is so rich with twists, turns, surprises, curve balls, and other ball busters, REVEALED: The Missing Years doesn’t feel like a companion novel, if not for the simultaneous timeline with ConvictedREVEALED: The Missing Years can stand by itself. Not only that, the ending left a few loose ends, maybe it’s too soon but is it possible that ARomig is planning a spin-off? I hope she does and I can easily see one of her female supporting cast go a la Fatal Attraction. Bitch is cray and I’d sure love to read that insane story next!
Now if you haven’t read this series, you’re missing out. You haven’t read outside your comfort zone until you’ve tried Aleatha Romig and her bestselling Consequences series. And that is both a challenge and a promise.
THE CONSEQUENCES SERIES

TONY’S POV

Series Buy Links

Suped Up: The Saint by Tiffany Reisz

Series: The Original Sinners 5 | The White Years 1 

Format: Print ARC
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA 
Release Date: June 24, 2014 
Source: Grace of Books of Love 
Genre: Contemporary Erotica

In the beginning, there was him.

Gutsy, green-eyed Eleanor never met a rule she didn’t want to break. She’s sick of her mother’s zealotry and the confines of Catholic school, and declares she’ll never go to church again. But her first glimpse of beautiful, magnetic Father Søren Stearns and his lust-worthy Italian motorcycle is an epiphany. Suddenly, daily Mass seems like a reward, and her punishment is the ache she feels when they’re apart. He is intelligent and insightful and he seems to know her intimately at her very core. Eleanor is consumed—and even she knows that can’t be right.

But when one desperate mistake nearly costs Eleanor everything, it is Søren who steps in to save her. She vows to repay him with complete obedience…and a whole world opens before her as he reveals to her his deepest secrets.

Danger can be managed—pain, welcomed. Everything is about to begin.

Oh Tiffany Reisz, the things you do to me every time I read your books! *Le Sigh!*
I read THE SAINT early this week and until now I’m still unsure of my ability to share my thoughts and persuade you to pick this up and read it. I briefly had a Twitter convo with Ms. Reisz and she forewarned me that so far, THE SAINT is a fan favorite and most everyone is in love with Søren. I’m sure that I will love this latest The Original Sinners installment but once again, I underestimated TReisz passion for this story and her skill with the pen because I find myself loving this more than any of the books and short stories so far. Impossible some of you might say but if I can give THE SAINT 100 gold stars, I will. 
By now you’ve probably read a few reviews for this book and all the mad gushing is on point. Søren will steal your heart and Eleanor/Nora will endear herself to you more than you thought possible. One thing that stood out the most to me is how TReisz skillfully crossed genres with THE SAINT: it’s YA, NA, horror, thriller, and erotica among others. Now before I ruffle your feathers and start assuming that there’s some sexual assault, rape and what-not that had happened… reign it in and indulge me as I expound on it a bit. 

IT’S YOUNG ADULT: If you’ve read the other books you probably know that Søren met Nora, then going by her given name, Eleanor Schreiber, when she was 15, when Søren became her church’s parish priest and bailed Nora out when she got in caught stealing 5 big ticket cars one night in NYC. 
Eleanor’s family life is far from ideal and despite having an easy going attitude, Eleanor can’t deny the hurt she feels from having a dysfunctional childhood. Her parents are divorced, her father is a criminal and her mother is a religious nut who frequently remains Eleanor that she wants to be a nun and that getting pregnant got in the way of that dream. Eleanor’s childhood isn’t necessarily angsty but one can tell that she’s trying so hard to gain her parent’s approval and love and sometimes her efforts came out wrong despite having good intentions. 
Søren became Eleanor’s Mr. Miyagi, he easily became her mentor, counselor, and friend during a time where Eleanor could’ve easily lost her way. I loved learning more about The Beginning and knowing the story behind the anecdotes such as the 6-month stick watering and reading Eleanor’s first foray into the world of erotica, writing her own version of 1001 Nights, which was hilarious by the way. I’d also like to highlight that Søren was very proper and wasn’t predatory despite Eleanor’s flirty advances towards him. Søren was never inappropriate and he may be a sadist but he’s no child molester. 
IT’S NEW ADULT: This is my favorite part of THE SAINT, it’s wrought with emotions and the heart of this novel. You’d expect that once Eleanor turned 18 that Søren would be on to her like white on rice. Sorry to disappoint but Søren waited for Eleanor to be emotionally and mentally ready before introducing her to his world and all the trappings that go with being a submissive and a priest’s lover at that. 
It’s also here where I finally understood why Eleanor/Nora is so very much in love with Søren. Aside from his killer good looks, brilliant mind, charm, and magnetic personality, Søren is a romantic! When Eleanor turned 20, Søren surprised her with a private concert and told her in music how he feels about her. It was the sweetest, most thoughtful and romantic gesture I think I’ve ever read in a long time. I’m not very appreciative of classical music but TReisz had me listening to Ode To Joy (I guess this is their theme song) a few times and allowed Ludwig Van Beethoven’s notes to transport me to that moment, allowing myself to feel its swells and troughs and translate that into love and feelings for me to comprehend Søren’s love for Eleanor.  

Your nightmare might turn into your best dream someday.

IT’S HORROR, THRILLER, EROTICA: I guess these genres also serve as adjectives to describe erotica, after all pain and pleasure mix seamlessly in tales like THE SAINT. To be specific, what could be more horrific than falling in love with a Priest, and a sadist at that, and yet its forbidden aspect is both thrilling and erotic. 
I apologize for this lengthy review, trust me this is already the condensed version. The Original Sinners never fails to make me ramble and get me tongue-tided at the same time as there’s so many great scenes and delicious tidbits that make up this decadent installment. I keep on putting the book down not because it’s boring but I want to savor the words and delay its inevitable ending. Another good thing is if you haven’t started this series yet, you can do so with THE SAINT since The White Years‘ arc is independent from The Red Years, which is already concluded. Also there’s not a lot of BDSM that went on here, it’s very sparse and was mentioned/shown more in passing than in detail. Just thought I’d mention that in case you’re wondering 
Anyway, if you’re in a rut and would like to read something SPECTACULAR, please heed my advice and read Tiffany Reisz, she won’t disappoint!

The Novella & Serial
The Red Years

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged #107 + Brony Con & Dracula

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week’s reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron’s Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning’s smash hit series, Fever. 

Bagged
from publishers, authors and tour organizers


Big & Small
It’s only after reading Tara Sivec’s LOVE & LISTS that I’ve become aware of Brony Con and Bronies (pl?). I looked it up and found out that they really do exist! But it’s quite different when you see said Brony in action. That said, you know that I have to share this trailer with you. 
Now for the serious crowd, how awesome is the trailer for the upcoming DRACULA movie? Just like blurbs and cover arts, I hope the film itself delivers because this trailer is looking oh-so-good! Not to mention Luke Evans is papi-licious! DRACULA hits theaters on October 17, 2014

Last Week’s Reviews

Upcoming Reviews
Current Giveaways
Giveaways every day for the whole month of June! US Only and INT’L Giveaway links on the header. 
The odds are in YOUR favor, make sure you enter!

The blogoversary celebration is wrapping up with Week 3 giveaway ending with books from…
Chelsea Camaron | Jessie Lane | J.T. Geissinger
Sharon Hamilton | Raven Ridley

as well as the US Only giveaway with print books from…
Lynn Viehl | Maya Banks | Eve Langlais | Mary Behre
Sara Humphries | ST Bende | Christina Lauren
Elisabeth Staab | Jenn Bennett | Debra Doxer

So make sure you enter, lots of prizes so the odds are definitely in your favor!

Check out these other fabulous blogs that participate in 
Bought, Borrowed & Bagged:

NOTE: There’s a new linky created for this year and please note that you have to use your LABEL links (i.e. book haul) on the form below NOT the post link.

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Year 3.4: Eternal Guardian Series by Elisabeth Naughton + Casting Couch & Giveaway

Eternal Guardians Series
Elisabeth Naughton
Love Spell
2010-Present
Paranormal Romance

As unrest in the Underworld threatens, seven immortal warriors descended from the greatest heroes in all of Ancient Greece may just be mankind’s last hope.

Old school paranormal romance. 
That’s how I’d describe Elisabeth Naughton’s ETERNAL GUARDIANS series. And any PNR lover can relate to me when I say we always “cast” these beautiful people in our heads when we read their fiery and passionate love stories. So I thought I’d let the creator do it for us, after all Elisabeth made these delicious men and I think she’s the best person to flesh them out and give us a good visual of what they look like.

Enjoy the drool-worthy post, Supies, and have a wonderful Friday!


Eternal Guardians Is…

The Eternal Guardians are a group of warriors descended from the greatest heroes in all of ancient Greece. They protect the mortal realm from threats of the Underworld and are in a race to keep Kronos, the most evil of all gods, from being released from Tartarus. Should Kronos escape, the landscape of the world—both human and immortal—will change forever. 


Mythology & Cosmology
Each book is based on a different Guardian through this journey of good vs evil — his life, his struggles, and the fate of his soul mate, which in their world is a curse rather than a blessing. Finding that soul mate invariably brings more trouble than not. Set in modern times, the books move from the human world, which all the gods are clamoring to control, to Argolea, the supposed utopian world where the Guardians live, and bounce back and forth between the Underworld and sometimes even Olympus.


Let’s get to fun part! Cast your heroes, please! 
Fantasy casting is always hard for me, but I’ll give it a try!



Eternal Guardians 1: MARKED
Theron is the leader of the Eternal Guardians and a descendant of Heracles. He is 203 yrs old. He’s also the strongest of the Guardians, and believes duty comes before anything else. When he meets and falls for a human woman who is the key to a prophecy that could bring about the downfall of his world, duty clashes with desire and tests his every belief.


Eternal Guardians 2: ENTWINED
Zander is the only immortal Guardian and a descendant of Achilles. At 829 years, he’s served with most of his current Guardian’s fathers, and has grown tired of the fight. Cursed by Achilles’s legacy of rage, and a soul mate he once loved and lost, he’s continually searching for his weakness—that element that will save him from a life of immortality and send him to the afterlife.


Eternal Guardians 3: TEMPTED
Demetrius is the largest and darkest Guardian, and a descendant of the famed hero Jason. A fierce fighter, he hides a dangerous secret, and most of the other Guardians steer clear of him. When he’s trapped on a mysterious island with the princess of the realm, his secrets threaten more than just her safety. They threaten the very fabric of the world the Guardians protect.


Eternal Guardians 4: ENRAPTURED
When his Guardian brother was enslaved, Orpheus, a major thorn in the Guardians side, is suddenly chosen by the Fates to take his brother’s spot in the order. A descendant of Perseus and half witch who hides a secret even his brother doesn’t know, Orpheus could care less about duty and honor to a group that overlooked him. He has only one goal: to find and free his brother from his prison in the Underworld. He sets out on his quest, only to be interrupted by a Siren—one of Zeus’s elite warriors—who has her own agenda. 



Eternal Guardians 5: ENSLAVED
Enslavement in the Underworld changed Gryphon forever. A descendant of Perseus, he now battles a dark voice, pushing him toward a fate he can’t seem to change. Not wanting to hurt his Guardian brothers, he escapes from their compound with only one goal: to find and kill the person who imprisoned him. But to get away from his friends who will never let him leave on his own, he takes one woman hostage—a refugee herself: Maelea, the daughter of Zeus and Persephone. A a woman whose allegiance is unknown and whose destiny could change the direction of the war between the Guardians and the gods.


Eternal Guardians 6: BOUND
Titus, a descendant of Odysseus, is the thinker of the group. He’s also the only one who can read minds. A gift that has turned into a curse when combined with his ability to feel the emotions of those he touches. When a mysterious redhead enters the Guardians world, Titus is tasked with finding her and uncovering her agenda. He just never expects to be drawn into the fight between gods – Titans vs Olympians — or how his fate will be inexplicably tied to it from here on out.


Eternal Guardians 7: TWISTED
Nick is the leader of the half breeds. While not a Guardian of the order, Nick sports the Guardian markings, directed but the Fates, and he has become an unlikely ally to the Guardians in their fight to protect the human realm. But when he trades his life to Hades to save that of his soul mate—and his brother Demetrius’s soul mate—Nick’s life is forever changed. Imprisonment in the Prince of Darkness’s lair will test him not just physically, but emotionally when he meets a woman who will change the fate of the war.





I was never one of those people who knew they wanted to be an author at the age of six. I didn’t have imaginary friends. I didn’t write stories in my journal or entertain my relatives by firelight after Thanksgiving dinner. For the most part, I was just a normal, everyday kid. I liked to read, but I wasn’t exceptional at it. And when my teachers complimented me on my writing abilities, I brushed them off. I did, however, always have a penchant for the unique and absurd. And as my mother told me all throughout my childhood, I should have been an actress—I was a drama queen before my time.

Years ago, my husband bought me Scarlett: The Sequel to Gone With The Wind. If you ever saw the book, you know it’s a long one. I sat and read that thing from cover to cover, and dreamed of one day being a writer. But I didn’t actually try my hand at writing until years later when I quit my teaching job to stay home with my kids. And my husband? After that week of reading where I neglected him and everything else until I finished Scarlett, he vowed never to buy me another book again. Little did he know I’d one day end up sitting at a keyboard all day drafting my own stories. 

My writing journey has not been easy. I didn’t just sit down one day, decide I was going to write a book and voila! sell my very first attempt. As most authors will probably agree, the path to publication is filled with hours of work, pulling all-nighters I thought I’d given up in college, sacrifices, rejections, but a love I discovered along the way I just can’t live without. Instead of a big, thick book to read by lamplight (I do read much smaller ones when I get the chance), I’ve traded in my reading obsession for a laptop. And I’ve never been happier. 

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a wonderful family and fabulous husband who put up with my writing—and obsessive personality—even when life is chaotic. More than once my kids have been late to swimming or baseball because I needed just five more minutes to finish a scene. Their support and encouragement mean the world to me. I also have amazing friends and a support network I couldn’t survive without. So to all of you out there who have encouraged me along the way, sent me emails and fan letters, phone calls and congratulations, I just want to say, thank you. You make this whole writing gig that much more enjoyable. I truly wouldn’t be here without you.

Fan Girls & Boys Welcome
It’s another winner’s choice! You can pick which ETERNAL GUARDIANS book you like and whether you want it on print or ebook. Open INT’L!!

Also don’t forget to join the PRINT book bonanza (US Only) here. Lots of prizes overall in this blogoversary so the odds are in your favor. 

Year 3.4: Burned by Tara Sivec + Love Letters & Giveaway

Burned
Tara Sivec
June 10, 2014
Romantica

Seventeen years old when he broke my heart.
Seventeen days later when another picked up the pieces.
Seventeen years together.
Seventeen thousand problems.
Seventeen days of reliving my past and finding a new future.
Seventeen minutes until it all went up in flames.
Seventeen breaths until I took my last.
This is my story…and it’s going to burn.

NOTE: I know some of you don’t necessarily like reading excerpts and teasers. However, please make an exception for this. The deleted scene below leads to a touching, heartfelt, and maybe even a tearjerker letter below from Collin to his dear Finnley.

“Burned” extended/deleted scene
by Tara Sivec


“Hi, Mrs. McDaniels!” I smile as I hold the front door open for her.
She walks inside, juggling two cardboard boxes, tsk’ing me as she walks by.
“Finnley, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Mom?”
I laugh, taking the boxes from her hands and setting them down on top of the kitchen table. “Sorry, habit. I’ve known you since I was fifteen years old. It’s hard for me to think of you as anything other than Mrs. McDaniels.”
Wrapping her arms around me, she gives me a tight squeeze. “You’re marrying my son in three months. It’s time to break the habit.”
She backs away and we both stare down at the boxes. “I take it this is the rest of Collin’s things from your basement?”
When I moved into Collin’s house after mine burnt to the ground, his mother began making weekly trips over here dropping off things from Collin’s childhood. Old school work, photo albums, baseball trophies…memories she and his father have kept in boxes in the corner of their basement. 
“Yep, this should be the last of it. I looked through it and I think there’s something in the bottom box you might find particularly interesting.”
I look at her questioningly, but she just winks, gives me another quick hug and then lets herself out the front door.
Checking the clock on the wall, I realize I still have another hour before Collin gets home from his forty-eight-hour shift at the station. I really thought that living with a fireman would be lonely since they work such long hours, but Collin and I are nothing if not creative. He’s not out on calls during that entire time, so I’ll usually run up to the station to bring him dinner and, more often than not, we find time to sneak away into the workout room, blast some Nine Inch Nails and reacquaint ourselves with the subwoofer. We’ve also found that sex on a stationary bike, while tricky, is just as satisfying.
Grabbing a glass of wine, I pick up the bottom box and make my way into the living room, taking a seat on the floor in front of the fireplace.
Ripping the packing tape off of the box, I pull open the flaps and see an envelope sitting right on top of a few photo albums. My name is scrawled across the middle of the envelope in Collin’s handwriting. Smiling to myself, I pick up the envelope and turn it over, running my finger under the seal and tearing it open. Back in high school when we were first dating, I wrote him letters practically every day. I mean, that’s what high school girls who are madly in love do, right? God forbid we grow balls and actually tell the guy what we’re feeling; it’s much easier to pour our hearts out on a piece of paper in the solitude of our bedrooms while we listen to sad love songs on repeat. Which strangely sounds like the exact same thing we do when they break our hearts. I’m pretty sure if my parents heard “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” by Cinderella blasting from my room one more time when I was seventeen, they would have had me committed.
Collin was never big on writing me notes back then and the only time I ever got one from him was the dreaded “I’m breaking up with you” note. I can tell by the handwriting as soon as I open the folded piece of notebook paper inside the envelope that this isn’t from high school. His handwriting is much neater for one, and the date at the top of the note is another dead giveaway: June 15, 2005. 
Jesus, this is from seven years after we broke up. 
Why the hell would he have written me a letter seven years after that, and ten years before we saw each other again?
I lean my back against the chair in front of the fireplace and begin reading the letter.




June 15, 2005

Dear Finnley
Finnley
Yo Finnley!
Lee:
I just polished off an entire bottle of Jack, which is the only explanation as to why I’m sitting on my parent’s couch writing a fucking letter. Who writes letters anymore? I could probably just ask my mom for your email address, I’m sure she has it. She knows every other fucking thing about your life and never fails to tell me all about it whenever I’m home. Like today, for instance. I pop in for a weekend visit and the first thing she does is shove the local paper in my face that has your wedding announcement in it. Your fucking wedding announcement. You’re married. Jesus Christ, I can’t believe you’re married. I mean, I can believe it. You’re amazing and beautiful and smart…I just never expected it to happen so soon. It’s probably not soon to you; you’ve been with Castillo for seven years. Seven years since I wrote you that stupid note breaking up with you and here I am writing you another one. At least this time I probably won’t have the guts to give it to you. This is just me, being drunk off my ass, spending the night in my parent’s home, thinking about the past with a copy of your wedding announcement sitting here and your smiling face in black and white staring back at me. You look so happy, Lee. So beautiful and happy. Does he make you happy? Did he make all of your dreams come true? Does he make you laugh and wipe away your tears when you cry? I always thought I would be the only one to do that, and then I had to go and fuck everything up. Who the hell knows at seventeen that the person they’re with is who they should spend the rest of their life with? I sure as hell didn’t. I was a stupid kid and I thought I had plenty of time to win you back someday. That was always my plan, as dumb as it sounds. Spend some time apart and then beg you to come back. Now it’s too late. I should have known you would never stay alone for long. You’re too amazing for someone NOT to love you. I don’t blame you for falling in love with Castillo. He swooped in and picked up the pieces that I broke. He grabbed onto your heart and never let it go. I wish I had done the same.  If I could go back and do it all over, I would never have written that letter. I would have loved you until the day I died. Remember graduation day? The first time we spoke after I broke up with you? That awkward one-armed hug you gave me and what you whispered in my ear?

“I hope all your dreams come true, Collin.”

 You were my only dream, Lee. Even after all these years, it’s still you. I’m afraid it will always be you. I wish I would have wrapped my arms around you and begged you to love me again. Maybe then I wouldn’t be sitting here, on what’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life so far, wishing things were different. I graduated from the fire academy today. I really did it, Lee. I’m officially a fireman and I start my first job on Monday. I’m going to be rushing into burning buildings to save people and the men I work with are going to depend on me to have their backs. I’m doing what I always dreamed and I should be happy, right? I should be freaking the fuck out that after four years of college and two years at the academy, it’s finally happening. There’s something missing, though. There’s something that just doesn’t make it complete and I know it’s because you’re not here celebrating with me. Remember when we used to sit in your parent’s backyard after you did one of your gunpowder pieces, talking about the future? You always said that when I graduated, you’d be in the crowd cheering louder than anyone. Can you believe I actually looked out into the hundreds of rows of people today and wondered if I’d see your face? This tiny little part of me hoped that, even after seven years, you would have kept your promise, no matter what happened between us. I’m such a fucking idiot. Why should you keep your promise when I didn’t? 
I hope you’re following your dreams too, Lee. Every time I walk past an art gallery, I still go inside, hoping to see one of your pieces hanging on the wall. Fuck, I miss you. I miss the sound of your voice, your lips, your smile, your friendship… Jordan Castillo is a lucky fucking bastard and I hope he knows this. I hope he tells you every single day how amazing and talented you are. I hope he wakes up every morning thanking his lucky fucking stars that you picked him to give your love to. 
Did you know that D.J. and Phina went out a few times recently? I’m not supposed to tell anyone this. D.J. swore me to secrecy, but since you’re never going to read this anyway, what does it matter? From the little bit I got him to admit over beers, it didn’t end well. I don’t know what the fuck happened, but knowing D.J it’s safe to assume he fucked everything up. There’s a reason why we’re best friends and that’s probably because we share a brain and screw up the best things that ever happened to us. So, yeah. D.J. and Phina…can you believe it? 
Anyway, I wish things could be different. I wish I could fully enjoy this new chapter of my life. I wish I had the Goddamn courage to send you this letter. I wish I wasn’t such a coward when it comes to you. You’re married and you’re obviously happy. You’re going to build a life and have children with this guy. He gets to do all these things and I should be happy for you, but the only thing I can think about is – it should have been me. Fuck! It should have been me.
If we ever run into each other again, I hope I can be a stand-up guy and tell you I’m happy for you and mean it. Who knows, maybe I’ll find someone else soon. Maybe we’ll both be married and happy the next time our paths cross. Maybe by then, I’ll have stopped jumping from one woman to the next, just hoping to find someone who makes me feel the way you did.  
I know you’ll never read this stupid letter, but at least it helped me realize one thing. I did keep my promise to you, even if you never know it. I still love you. I will probably always love you. That’s a promise I don’t think I’ll ever be able to break.
You’re my spark. 
You’re my light. 
You’re my fire…and I’ll never be able to put this one out.

Collin



“Lee?”
I jerk with a start and glance up from the note to see Collin standing above me, looking down at me in concern.
“Babe, are you okay? What happened?”
He squats down next to me, bringing his hands to either side of my face and using his thumbs to brush away the tears that I didn’t even realize were streaming down my cheeks.
I can’t speak. All I can do is look into his eyes and cry even harder. I cry for all the years we lost, I cry for the twenty-four-year old who wrote this letter and thought he had lost me forever and I cry at the knowledge that he’s here…with me…loving me more than I ever thought I deserved.
Unable to find my voice, I hold the letter up between us. He looks down at it and I watch his face turn an embarrassed shade of red.
“Oh, my God, I’m going to kill my mother,” he mutters, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “You were never supposed to see that thing. Jesus, I was trashed when I wrote that. I don’t even want to know what that thing says. I’m sure it’s pathetic.”
I shake my head in disagreement, pushing myself up on my knees and wrapping my arms around his neck. I pull him against my body and hold onto him as tightly as I can. Even after all these months of being with him, I’m still afraid that at any moment I’ll wake up and realize this was all a dream. 
Letting the note flutter to the ground next to us, I pull my head back so I can look into his eyes again. “I don’t want to waste another minute of this life with you. I don’t want to wait another three months before I can be your wife. We’ve waited long enough. Let’s do it right now. Tonight. Just get in our car and drive until we find someone who can perform the ceremony.”
His eyes widen and his smile lights up his entire face. “I thought you wanted a big wedding, Lee. I know I told you after I proposed that I didn’t care about that and just wanted to be married to you, but I know it’s what you want. Don’t change your mind just because I’m impatient.”
Leaning forward, I place a kiss on his lips before pulling back just enough to speak softly against his mouth. “I was being silly. I thought I needed a big wedding to prove to you and everyone else how much this means to me, but that’s not the case. I don’t need a fancy dress or hundreds of people we barely know congratulating us. I just need you, Collin. Just you. Forever.”
He pulls me tighter against him with one arm and slides his other hand around the nape of my neck. 
“I can’t believe you’re really mine,” he whispers.
Closing the distance between us, I press my lips to his, running my tongue across his bottom lip. He lets out a ragged breath, his hand around my waist sliding down to cup my ass and pull my lower half right up against his own. I feel his cock straining against his jeans and my entire body tingles in anticipation. Moving my hand between our bodies, I quickly unbutton his jeans and slide my hand inside, palming his cock.
He lets out a growl before attacking my mouth, his tongue pushing past my lips to tangle with my own. Sliding my hand from base to tip over and over, he moans into my mouth and begins thrusting his hips against my hand. Reaching between us with both hands, he rips my blouse right down the middle, buttons scattering across the hardwood floor. He tears his mouth away from mine and kisses his way down my neck and chest. Sliding the lace cup of my bra out of the way, his mouth finds my nipple and he swirls his tongue around the tight bud before sucking it hard into his mouth.
Crying out his name, I arch my back, pushing my breast into his mouth and work my hand harder and faster up and down his cock. Something from the letter tickles the back of my mind and I pause. Collin halts his attention to my breast and pulls his head back to look up at me.
“You mentioned something about D.J. and Phina in that letter. What the hell was that all about?” I question him.
He laughs and shakes his head. “Oh, Jesus. That’s definitely a story for another time. It would take me entirely too long to explain it and right now, I just want you naked.”
I smile at him and resume stroking his cock. “That sounds like a good idea to me, Mr. McDaniels.”
He slides his fingers into the waistband of my skirt and thong and pushes them down my thighs. 
“I have lots of good ideas, Soon-To-Be-Mrs. McDaniels,” he tells me with a smirk as he eases me down on my back and covers my body with his own. 
Freeing himself from his jeans, he positions his cock right at my opening, sliding it through the wetness that only he can create.
“Make me burn, Collin,” I whisper, wrapping my thighs around his hips.
“Forever, Lee. Forever,” he replies as he pushes himself slowly inside me.


Tara Sivec is a USA Today best-selling author, wife, mother, chauffeur, maid, short-order cook, baby-sitter, and sarcasm expert. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children and looks forward to the day when they all three of them become adults and move out.
After working in the brokerage business for fourteen years, Tara decided to pick up a pen and write instead of shoving it in her eye out of boredom. She is the author of the Playing with Fire series and the Chocolate Lovers series. Her novel Seduction and Snacks won first place in the Indie Romance Convention Reader’s Choice Awards 2013 for Best Indie First Book.
In her spare time, Tara loves to dream about all of the baking she’ll do and naps she’ll take when she ever gets spare time.

Tara also writes under the pen name T.E. Sivec.

Stalk Tara
Website | Facebook | @TaraSivec | Goodreads

Yes, Tara is giving away a signed print copy of LOVE & LISTS and it’s open INT’L!


Don’t forget to enter the print US only giveaway here as well.

Year 3.4: TRUST: Pandora’s Box by Cristiane Serruya + Desser Recipe & Giveaway

TRUST: Pandora’s Box
Trust Trilogy 3
Cristiane Serruya
April 16, 2014
Romantica
TRUST: PANDORA’S BOX, the last installment of the TRUST TRILOGY, follows Ethan, Alistair and Sophia as each one of them strives to live happily ever after. But a greedy man, who has uncovered the many secrets and wrong deeds committed by Ethan, Alistair and Sophia, realizes they could be worth millions. Many are invited to join his team. Each one has an agenda. Each one has a target. Things get out of control when Pandora’s Box is opened and the demons are let loose. With so many enemies out for revenge, what will the future bring to Ethan, Alistair and Sophia? Eventually, wishes and nightmares come true… Will hope survive? This book is the last installment of the TRUST TRILOGY and contains graphic sex scenes and mild violence. Indicated for mature audiences.

NOTE: This scene is based on a true story. Carolina is based off Cristiane’s brother who according to her is an even better cook than she is. Gotta love inspired stories, don’t you?!


He grasped her hand, lacing his fingers with hers, drawing her attention back to his face. “Do you still miss your parents, Sophia?” 
She almost choked with the unexpected change of subject. She put the glass on the table, swallowed the juice and dabbed her mouth with her napkin, clearing her throat. “Yes. I do. Very much. It’s a… An eternal void. It’s been fifteen years. I only remember flashes; my father pushing me on a swing or my mother helping me with my homework. But mostly, what I remember are…” She sighed and raised her eyes to his. “The senses. Her smell and her caresses. Her soft bosom. His laughter and booming voice. The feeling of freedom when he would throw me up in the air and catch me.” Her lips trembled. “Cherished memories.”
Whenever she looked at him with those sad, dark brown, emotion-filled eyes, Alistair wanted to wrap his arms around her, shielding her from all harm and pain. To make love to her until she was laughing again, that tinkled sound that made his heartbeat accelerate to a thousand per minute. “How did you cope with it?” 
“Family love and a special friendship between me and my siblings. We were very close. My family was only us. No uncles, no aunts, no cousins. When they died, Felipe, Carolina and I, we… We became inseparable. We had all our meals together. We slept in their room all the time. And we spent all the time we could with the twins. The best thing my grandparents did was to send me away. Me and Carol. After a week in Lausanne, I missed my parents so much, I missed my brother and my little sisters so much, all I wanted was to go back. I went through a month of unparalleled anger.” She gazed up to the blue sky and the sparse soft clouds, seeing her parents’ fading faces on them, remembering those times. “I know anger is acceptable when you’re grieving, especially when you’re a ten year old girl. Carol was eight, but she grew ancient in just a few weeks. And Felipe, he carried the weight of it all on his shoulders. He closed himself off and, like Carol, became an adult instantly. Always worrying about the future that he forgot to live his present. He was only sixteen. I think he thought he had to fill my father’s shoes.” 
He brushed a lock of her raven hair behind her ear just to touch her. If he could, he would have pulled out all that grief from her soul. 
Sophia leaned her face on his hand for a moment, closing her eyes and letting his warmth seep into her. “It was hard. It was a pain that went on and on and it never ended. It’s perverse to lose both parents at the same time,” she bit her lip and shook her head. A tear fell down her cheek when she whispered, “It was too soon to say good-bye. And what is even worse… Time dulls the pain, but then it also bleaches the good memories…” her words trailed away with a helpless gesture with her hand.
Instinct overcame him and he brought her onto his lap, nestling her back on his arm. Her pain unveiled his own. He couldn’t imagine Nathalie’s memories fading away. “I’m sorry, mo gràdh.”
Sophia sank on his chest. Solid. Warm. So real. When she looked up into his eyes, she saw her own heartache mirrored there, as if he felt her ache as his. Oh, Alistair Connor. You had it even worse than I did, didn’t you? She regarded him with love, as his pain-filled eyes reminded her he had lost a child. Nothing more perverse than that. 
“That’s why I want Gabriela to have at least another sibling. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I were an only child. Yeah, my grandparents were there. They were supportive and loving. But… my sisters and my brother… We shared the same pain and we bore it together. In that year in Lausanne, I was always with Carol. Joined by grief, by need, by love. We helped each other the best way we could. We dealt with our, quote unquote, acceptable anger, by doing things like fencing and skiing and all sorts of mad things, the worst young girls that ever passed by that school. We won every fencing competition. And every horse race, giving the horses rein as if we were chasing their killer. We punched our dough in the Cordon Bleu class, instead of kneading it delicately for hours, like it was responsible for their death. After a while, every girl in the class was passing us their dough behind the teacher’s back for us to knead it.” She smiled sadly at him. “The teacher, he knew, of course. But he closed his eyes to that. Those were acceptable things. The only time we were punished was when we fought over something ridiculous with a schoolmate and we had a flour war in Monsieur Putton’s kitchen. He had a fit and called the head-teacher.” Her smile was sad and his fingers combed her hair, bringing solace to the dull ache that was always waiting to resurface. 
“What was the punishment?” His voice was intense as if he would take revenge on the teacher who dared punish her. 
Her eyes turned wistful. “It was not that bad. Monsieur Putton had a very gentle heart. He was fun and talented. We lost our weekend outings for three months in a row. He said he was going to teach us to respect our elders, other people’s opinion and food.” Her lips curled up softly. “We learned to respect the kitchen. Oh, we did. For a few weekends, we were in the kitchen from ten in the morning to four in the afternoon. We peeled vegetables, we polished the pans and cooking utensils. We cleaned the kitchen until it shined. And we cooked. So many different recipes that we were never the same again. Carol cooks even better than I do. She’s always wanted to be a chef.” Her smile grew. “The sacrifice was rewarding. A lesson taught with love and sweets. That is the way lessons should be taught. With love.” She licked her lips and took an apple from the fruit plate. “I promise I’ll bake cookies and my decadent chocolate and fresh wild berries tartlet for you next week.”
Before she bit the apple he snatched it from her hand and bit it himself and offered it back to her. 
The sinful look he gave her made her mind reel. 
She was unable to make sense of the changes that came over him without explanation. One minute he has profoundly sad and the other, extremely aroused. She’d never experienced anything like it. 
“You are scandalously debauched, Lord Mercurial,” she whispered to him.
He brushed her hair away and kissed her neck, nibbling the soft skin under her ear and sucking her earlobe lightly, before he confessed, “I’ve become so many different men since I met you that sometimes I don’t even recognize myself,” he said  inhaling her vanilla scent deeply. 
“And that’s a good thing? Becoming Lord Multiple Personality?”



Every time I read one of Cristiane Serruya’s TRUST TRILOGY books, I feel like I’m taken on a food trip. Her heroine, Sophia Leibowitz, is such a big foodie her palate adventures always make my mouth water. 

So I have to ask Cristiane to share a recipe, something simple that maybe you and I can try at home. Something that is decadent and delectable that it’ll feel we’re trying a special dish at a 5-star restaurant. 

Sophia’s Cheese mousse with Guava sauce

“I have one great love: sweets,” said Sophia. “Oh, of course, first comes Gabriela, my gorgeous, sexy Alistair Connor and my family! But I’m assuming this everyone knows.

But it’s not every sweet I love. To be on the top of my list it has to be something really special, softy, smoothly and tasty. Mmmm! And with creamy sauce preferably.

So, today, I’ll tell you about a recipe I learned from my grandmother, Angelica. It can be found on every corner and it turned out to be as ‘common place’. Seems nothing special, then. What is it? A kind of cheesecake with guava creamy sauce over it.

Fruit jellies or sauces have this innate ability to make my mouth water and I lick my lips with just one glance. Cheeseis sinful, lusty and an excess that would make god Bacchus even more proud of his excesses. The curious thing ischeese is nothing more than milk!

Nonetheless, when it’s mixed with guava sauce, it is luscious, creamy and fragrant.

Guava hard pasta and Minas cheese is a traditional combination in Brazil. We call it Goiabada com queijo! Cheesecake is an American staple. So this “marriage” of flavors works, again, very well for Brazilians, Americans and, oh! for everyone!

But how could I make it even better, easier to do and lighterso I can eat it and still keep fit? Simple: All I had to do was to take away the carbohydrates and the fat! Because we all know that calories count!

I am in love with my Cheese mousse with Guava sauce, so let’s do it:

Ingredients for the sauce:

3 red guavas
½ spoons of sweetener
½ cup of water

Ingredients for the mousse: ​​

1 ½ cup (10 ounces) of ricotta cheese – skim or light!
1 shallow spoon of sweetener
½ glass of skim milk
1 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin, without sugar
⅓ cup of water

“First, we will need to cool our silicone or ceramic pan. How to do it? Easy. Put water inside it and wet it all over very well, throw the water away and put it still wet in the freezer.

Clean the guavas very well and, if needed, peel them. Cut them in four halves and put them in a pan with the water and the sweetener. Let them cook for 15 minutes but don’t let them become too soft. Let them chill.

In a blender, mix the ricotta, the skim milk and the shallow spoon of sweetener. Process until it becomes a smooth mixture. This takes around 1 minute.

In a ceramic cup, mix the gelatin and the water. Cook it in water-bath for 30 seconds max. Be careful: the gelatin must not boil, just heat it a bit. Mix the gelatin with the cheese cream.

Take out your pan from the freezer; it’s already cold at the touch. Pour the cheese mixture into it. Put it back in thefreezer for 40 minutes.

While we wait— Hey!”

Alistair has sneaked behind Sophia’s back and tried to reach the pan with the guavas. She slapped his hand right on time.

“Alistair Connor! Don’t dare put your finger in this. Out of this kitchen. Right now!”

“Sophia, this smell came waffling through the house and my nose brought me here. I’m salivating!” Alistair flashed her a crooked smile. “Please?”

How cute! “It’s still hot, Handsome! You are going to burn your tongue.” She winked playfully at him. “I can’t stand you having your tongue burnt.”

“Then give me a kiss.” His smile grew naughtily as he bent to take her lips in a passionate kiss.

A loud ahem made Alistair and Sophia spring apart.

“Ooops, sorry, Supies and Braine! You know how I forget every thing when Alistair Connor kisses me,” she said, blushing. And pushed a pouting Alistair out of the kitchen.

“Hmmm… Right. Separate the seeds for their guavas’ outer parts and reserve the seeds for a sauce, it’s not everyone that likes them. Blend the hard parts until they become a delicious, smooth sauce. Let’s put both sauces in the refrigerator to chill.

After forty minutes, take the pan out the refrigerator and carefully run a knife around its edge. Put your serving plate upside down and turn it. If it doesn’t drop instantly, shake it gently. It will come down and won’t break.

Now, we can just turn the sauce over it and decorate it with mint leaves and voilà! in less than an hour we have done a delicious and light dessert.

“The only thing better than this is Sophia’s sinful kiss,” said Alistair Connor. “Now, if you excuse us, she is going to feed me this delicacy!”

“Bye, girls! I hope you have enjoyed it!” Sophia exclaimed, chasing Alistair who had fled the kitchen with the dessert.


Now this sounds sinfully good! I’m off to hunt for guavas and attempt to make this! 

TRUST Buy Links
I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with my husband and two daughters. I’m a lawyer, who specializes in cases of sexual abuse and violence against children and women. I also have a Masters in Business Law and a BA in Fine Arts.

I’ve always loved to read, write and listen to music. I lived and studied in England, France, Italy and Switzerland. Traveling is one of my passions – as is keeping fit and healthy.

After twenty-two years of practicing law, I decided to give writing a go. And – amazingly – it was just the piece that was missing in my life.
Stalk Cristiane

Year 3.4: Vampire Trouble by Sara Humphreys + Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway

Vampire Trouble
Tall, Dark & Deadly
Sara Humphreys
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Paranormal Romance
July 1, 2014

Shane Quesada, a four-century old vampire sentry, is known for cold, unemotional precision when hunting rogue vampires.
Maya Robertson is a youngling vampire who will not be controlled—and to prove it, she rejects Shane’s protection—only to find herself in over her head with an alpha werewolf.
Soon, a war between the coven and the werewolf clan ignites, and Maya and Shane flee to Louisiana, where their passion for each other grows—as does Maya’s power. When she finds herself at the center of the conflict, will she finally trust Shane with her life—and her heart?

Shane’s fangs erupted violently and his body tightened from the delicious, erotic effect of their minds connecting. It was like being bathed in desire, longing, and the sweet torture of unfulfilled lust. The flames of desire were extinguished at the sight of the protective shadows shrinking amid growing patches of light.
With the sun creeping up in the sky, the ache in his chest turned to a burning sensation. Just when he thought he’d scream with frustration, Maya dropped out of sight into the building. Jumping from the roof, Shane let out a sound of relief and landed silently in the empty street below.
Normally, he would fly back to the Presidium’s offices, but given how close the sun was, even he couldn’t outrun it. He yanked off a manhole cover and descended into the sewer. Whisking through the network of underground tunnels, he made his way toward the Presidium’s offices and his apartment. He couldn’t stop thinking about the surprising effects that had engulfed him when her mind touched his.
Maya wasn’t his sibling, his maker, or his progeny. He should not be able to hear her in his head, and he knew there could only be one other explanation. Bloodmates. Like all vampires, he had been told the legend not long after he’d been turned. According to the legend, if a vampire found his or her bloodmate and bonded, the two became daywalkers, vampires who could withstand the sun’s rays. Olivia and Doug’s bonding had not only proven the legend to be true but had revealed far more in the process.
Olivia and Doug could only telepath with each other.
Picking up speed, Shane growled with frustration and swept through the tunnels like a ghost. He hadn’t imagined it. Shane definitely heard Maya in his mind. But did that mean she was his bloodmate? That would certainly explain his overwhelming attraction to her and the fact that he was pulled into the dreamscape for the first time in centuries—­and not into just any dream, but into Maya’s. What about Maya? Would it matter to her if they were bloodmates? As far as Shane could tell, she loathed him, and at the moment, he couldn’t blame her.
Maya must have seen him in the dreamscape last night and was now under the misguided impression that Shane had been there that night and had allowed her to be brutalized. He was filled with confusion, anger, and a fair amount of frustration. It was an appalling idea to think that Maya believed him to be that kind of monster.
He swore loudly, his voice echoing through the dark, dank tunnels. He was confused and didn’t like it one fucking bit. His life as a sentry had been clear, well defined, and orderly, but ever since he’d come to New York City and met Maya, his life had been anything but.
Shane came to an abrupt halt when he reached the entrance of the Presidium. Without even looking for it, he pressed the rectangular stone along the top of the wall. He made a face at the rats that ran past his feet and let out a sound of relief when the hidden door swung open, revealing the brightly lit halls of the Presidium’s New York facility.
He stepped into the sunny yellow hallway and the door closed silently behind him. The sound of his boot-­clad feet hitting the red marble floor echoed through the corridor. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling and glittered, giving the hallway the illusion of sunlight.

Sara has been a lover of both the paranormal and romance novels for years. Her sci-fi/fantasy/romance obsession began years ago with the TV Series STAR TREK and an enormous crush on Captain Kirk. That sci-fi obsession soon evolved into the love of all types of fantasy/paranormal; vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and of course shape shifters.

Sara is married to her college sweetheart, Will. They live in New York with their 4 boys.

Stalk Sara
Website@authorsara | Facebook | Goodreads


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