Disliked It: Blush by Cherry Adair

Series: Standalone
Format: Mass Paperback
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Erotic Romance | Romantic Suspense

In the same pulse-pounding style as Maya Banks and Kresley Cole, New York Times bestselling author Cherry Adair delivers a sizzling erotic romance about a sexy billionaire who’s on the run—and the hit-man-turned-handyman who’s supposed to kill her.

Sex with a stranger. Learn to drive. Learn to cook. Learn to pole dance. Sex under the stars. Buy a truck. These are just a few of the things on Amelia Wentworth’s bucket list, but as the CEO and face of a multi-billion-dollar cosmetic empire, she’s never quite found the time to do them.

Until, after a series of accidents, Amelia discovers that someone wants her dead. But who? And why? She has no time for questions as she changes her name to Mia, buys a secluded fixer-upper near the Louisiana bayou where no one will recognize her, and starts checking things off her bucket list like there’s no tomorrow—which there might not be.

Meanwhile, Cruz Barcelona is a hit man who’s promised himself this will be his last job. Then he’ll take the money and move to a warm, sunny place where he doesn’t have to hide anymore. But when Cruz goes undercover to Mia’s ramshackle house, he starts to realize there’s far more to this poor-little-rich-girl than he thought—and he starts to fall for her. Which is going to make his job a whole lot harder…

I’m starting to think that it’s me and not these novels! Seriously! It’s two weeks and my streak isn’t good. Far from it! And it’s my blogiversary month, this isn’t how I envisioned June to look like. Ugh! 
BLUSH is my first Cherry Adair novel and I was excited to pop this cherry. Another incentive is this novel is supposedly a sexy romantic suspense what with the hitman falling in love with his target. I mean that has to be a very sticky situation right? How do you even begin to NOT have a dysfuctional relationship with a person who planned to kill you at one point? So I’m excited to see how Amelia Wentworth and Cruz Barcelona are going to have their HEA. 
I don’t know how Amelia survived and lived to see another day because this lady has a mild (or maybe bad) case of TSTL. Amelia had several assassination attempts made on her life which forced her to go into hiding. What I don’t understand is this: Amelia knows someone’s out to get her and though she’s hiding in a podunk town in Louisiana, she doesn’t have security, no bodyguards, hired people to help her renovate her house with zero background checks. If I escaped poisoning, staged car accidents, and shoot-out, and an elevator falling down, I think I’d be super paranoid and live inside Pentagon or go undergound, like literally. 
How did she meet Cruz? So one night, Amelia hired an escort from the internet to service her. Cruz intercepted this and without asking for any identification or confirmation, she let Cruz inside her house and had him fluck her brains out. Then Cruz managed to finagle a handyman position with not even an ID or any verification on his end, even fake, to convince Amelia that he’s not the assassin! 
There’s more but I’ll stop there. I guess y’all get the picture and sort of understand where my frustration is coming from. In as far as the suspense part this book promised, it already got an F for me at this point. 
As for the romance? As Cruz continues to boink Amelia to exhaustion, he’s still plotting to kill her in the back of his head. To “justify” Cruz’s killer instinct, he only goes after the bad guys. In this case, he thinks Amelia is guilt of child labor in China and deserves to be put down. But as this is a romance, he naturally fell for her. Well it’s hot, pages and pages of sex. I’m not one to shy away from erotic reads, but I want the plot to have substance. When the big reveal happened, after which Cruz managed to redeem himself, everything was just glazed over. Like HELLO! I know this is HEA and all but let’s make it believable at least! I mean how can you act like it was just a simple deception and still be with the guy when (1) he was hired to kill you and got $7.5M for it, and/or (2) the dude killed a LOT of people. It doesn’t matter if they deserved it or not, the one who hired him can out him. Do you realize what it’ll do to your business?! The same business that motivated your enemy to put a hit on you? The same business you were willing to DIE for?! 
I’m sorry to nitpick, I’m just very disappointed that BLUSH isn’t the fantastic read I was expecting it to be. I can deal with an average read, I draw the line on “fantasy”passing itself as contemporary romance. The conflict-resolution broke this camel’s back and I’m sure you can sense how prissy I am as I write this novel. I think I’ll have better luck with CAdair’s PNR novels, at least when something silly comes up, I can always charge it to its paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy qualities.

Talk Supe

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Loved It: The Canterbury Sistersby Kim Wright

Series: Standalone
Format: eGalley
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Literary Fiction | Women’s Lit

BLURB:
Che Milan’s life is falling apart. Not only has her longtime lover abruptly dumped her, but her eccentric, demanding mother has recently died. When an urn of ashes arrives, along with a note reminding Che of a half-forgotten promise to take her mother to Canterbury, Che finds herself reluctantly undertaking a pilgrimage.

Within days she joins a group of women who are walking the sixty miles from London to the shrine of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, reputed to be the site of miracles. In the best Chaucer tradition, the women swap stories as they walk, each vying to see who can best describe true love. Che, who is a perfectionist and workaholic, loses her cell phone at the first stop and is forced to slow down and really notice the world around her, perhaps for the first time in years.

Through her adventures along the trail, Che finds herself opening up to new possibilities in life and discovers that the miracles of Canterbury can take surprising forms.

QUOTABLE QUOTES:
I have so much trouble with peace. It scares me. It feels too much like death.

Life will always be a mystery. Whatever you think you own can be taken from you in an instant and-even more confounding-all the things you once thought were lost can come rushing back.

Sigh! Is it me or does anybody else get feel-good vibes after reading a solid women’s lit novel? THE CANTERBURY SISTERS by Kim Wright sure left me feeling satisfied the same way one might feel after consuming their favorite treat (mine would be flaky, sugary, carby, pastries). I connected with the novel, and the women in the story, in different ways and varying degrees. The best way I can describe THE CANTERBURY SISTERS is every woman’s story, and I’m sure that should you decide to read this, that you will find yourselves, or pieces of yourselves, embedded in the women in this novel.
The story starts with Che Millan, a woman in her late 40’s, successful, independent, stable. The anti-thesis of her recently departed mother, Diana, who found God again towards the end of her life. It’s this almost fanatic reconciliation with her religion that had Diana pressing her daughter to bring her ashes to Canterbury Cathedral and be laid to rest in a purportedly, miraculous church. Che was hesitant at first, then she got a Dear Jane letter from her boyfriend of several years, stating that he met someone new. This was what unraveled Che and thus started her pilgrimage to Canterbury. When Che got there, she found herself in the company of women who are looking for some sort of miracle to happen in their lives as they go in this once in a lifetime trip to Chaucer’s Canterbury.
Following the tradition of the original pilgrims, the women were asked to tell a story, preferably theirs, as they walk the 60 mile trek going to the Cathedral. I loved all the women’s stories; they were fun, honest, revealing, and a lesson in itself. Jeanne is a widow whose husband died of a drug deal gone wrong in South America. Her daughter, Becca, is a senior in high school, naïve and innocent to the joys and sorrows of love but very much excited to know its ebbs and tides. Angelique is a reality housewife who’s live unraveled in front of national television because of her husband’s shenanigans.
Then there’s Claire, very polished, super MILF, very confident, and very insecure of her second husband’s ex-wife who apparently was a dynamite in bed. This led her marriage to crumble and overcompensating in some ways. Steffi, who told her story in third person, and though her story might feel “common” and perceived as shallow (eating disorder), it’s one of the cruelest and most disturbing of the tales for me.
A few shared fairy tales with the intent of being metaphorical. My favorite was Silvia’s. She met her perfect mate early on, lived the ideal life, built the white-picket-fenced dream. Then it was shattered when her husband fell for another woman and Silvia was left to pick up the pieces of their broken life. Years later, Silvia found a new man, having a second shot at love. Then Sivlia’s ex-husband’s current wife contracted Alzheimer’s then Silvia’s current husband was diagnosed with it too. Later on, Silvia’s current husband got it too and they ended up living together in a pseudo-hospice/home.
What held me back in giving THE CANTERBURY SISTERS 5 cauldrons is Che skipping telling her tale. Sure, we know her story because she’s narrating the novel. I guess I was looking for some sort of confession, or a declaration of sorts, share with the group the real reason why she went on this pilgrimage and the kind of miracle or absolution she was after.
I had a great time with THE CANTERBURY SISTERS. Kwright wrote a story that’s for women, by a woman, if that makes sense. All the tales shared were far from The Dream, it’s nothing like HEA, but its powerful and packed quite the punch. I found myself relishing the tales, imbibing the words, and internalizing these women’s reflections because it really resonated with me. I don’t know why I stopped reading women’s fiction, after THE CANTERBURY SISTERS, I’m sure I’ll be reading more of the genre moving forward.
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It’s that time of the week again where we feed our Hungry Hearts & Thirsty Thursday (hosted by Unconventional Book Views)!

Here’s my entry. Cheers!


Talk Supe

Unrated: The Glittering World by Robert Levy

Series: Stand-alone
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Literary Fiction | Fantasy | Mystery

In the tradition of Neil Gaiman (The Ocean at the End of the Lane), Scott Smith (The Ruins), and Jason Mott (The Returned), award-winning playwright Robert Levy spins a dark tale of alienation and belonging, the familiar and the surreal, family secrets and the search for truth in his debut supernatural thriller.

When up-and-coming chef Michael “Blue” Whitley returns with three friends to the remote Canadian community of his birth, it appears to be the perfect getaway from New York. He soon discovers, however, that everything he thought he knew about himself is a carefully orchestrated lie. Though he had no recollection of the event, as a young boy Blue and another child went missing for weeks in the idyllic, mysterious woods of Starling Cove. Soon thereafter, his mother suddenly fled with him to America, their homeland left behind.

But then Blue begins to remember. And once the shocking truth starts bleeding back into his life, his closest friends—Elisa, his former partner in crime; her stalwart husband, Jason; and Gabe, Blue’s young and admiring co-worker—must unravel the secrets of Starling Cove and the artists’ colony it once harbored. All four will face their troubled pasts, their most private demons, and a mysterious race of beings that inhabits the land, spoken of by the locals only as the Other Kind…


Before I start with my thoughts on this book, you should know that the dust cover for Robert Levy’s THE GLITTERING WORLD is a very, very pretty in real life. It literally glitters and it’s guaranteed to make any bookshelf extra gorgeous.

On to the story! 

I don’t know what I just read. And I’m not trying to be cute or exercising rhetoric here. I seriously don’t know WTflyingF I read. It took me a while to finish THE GLITTERING WORLD because after the first 100 pages, the plot felt laborious for me. Like I can’t figure it out so I tried to look at it from a genre angle. Is this magic realism, sci-fi, paranormal? None of these fit, only the broad sweeps of lit-fiction/mystery fits. The short of it is, RLevy’s debut novel is a changeling story. Now before you get all excited, forget everything you know about changelings, the fae, and other legends regarding this myth because RLevy totally turned things upside down. By the end of THE GLITTERING WORLD, it felt more like an alien abduction than a folk tale to me.

The novel was divided into 4 parts as each of the lead characters took turns in telling the tale. Years ago, Blue was went missing in the woods only to come back as, what most people in his town suspect, is a changeling. After much tension and family drama, Blue moved and it was only when his grandma died and left the house to him that he returned to Nova Scotia. It wasn’t long before Blue’s bretheren started calling to him and he went missing. As this renewed search for the elusive Blue ensues, his friends, Elisa, Jason, and Gabe, took turns in relating the tale to us. But will they find Blue this time around and if so, is he the Blue they know and love, or is it going to be something else?

THE GLITTERING WORLD is disturbing, very, very strange, and definitely unlike anything I’ve ever read. I can’t tell you what it’s about apart from what the story is, I can tell you though why  this novel didn’t necessarily work for me: it was so impersonal. You have four people telling you the tale, complete with their own thoughts, history, and relationship with Blue, and yet it felt so detached. As if RLevy purposely and actively prevented me, the reader, to understand the human side of the novel and form any attachment to Blue & Co. Also the ending doesn’t have closure. Like all of that adventure and close encounters with the fae folk for nothing? 

Which is why THE GLITTERING WORLD will remain unrated by me for a while. It’s one of those books that is written well in terms of technique but lacked in the suspending disbelief. I just don’t know if I’m an idiot or if RLevy focused too much on stylistics and not enough time forming the plot wherein average readers like myself can consider it believable or even entertaining. So please, if you’ve read this and totally loved it, I’d appreciate an email so we can powwow in private. 

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Suped Up: The Way Home & Running Blind by Cindy Gerard

 
The Way Home | Running Blind
Cindy Gerard
One-Eyed Jacks 2 & 3
October 29, 2014 | February 24, 2015
Gallery Books | Pocket Books
Romantic Suspense-Military
And to think I almost skipped Cindy Gerard! Oh what a crying shame if I actually did! See, I got THE WAY HOME last year, but because I wasn’t feeling romantic suspense at that time (really I didn’t know who CGerard is. Ignorant, right?), I conveniently put it in a box and forgot all about it. Thank the book gods for Spring Cleaning otherwise these gems would be sitting ignored and I would’ve missed out on something truly awesome.
One-Eyed Jacks series is a spin-off of CGerard’s other series, The Bodyguards followed by Black Ops Inc.. None of which I’ve read, including the first Jack book, Killing Time. It didn’t damper my interest for these though, nor did I feel lost in the story. CGerard provided brief backstories about the characters and previous events so I was pretty much filled in. 
THE WAY HOME is my favorite of the two, and one of the best military romantic suspense I’ve read in possibly EVER! The story was two-fold, one part was stateside involving Jess, a widow, and her sweet romance with former military man, Tyler Brown. Unbeknownst to Jess, her husband J.R. is still alive in Afghanistan, but severely injured, has amnesia, and PTSD. J.R. is being nursed and hidden from the Taliban by, Rabia, an Afghan whom he has fallen in love with. Jess and Tyler were made aware of the situation while planning their wedding, and as if this wasn’t enough, Tyler volunteered to help with J.R.’s rescue resulting to a heartpounding and nail biting military extraction complete with conspiracies, and other hair raising revelations.
As you can tell, THE WAY HOME‘s plot is beyond complex. I had anxiety over this love-square because it felt so unfair that these people had to deal with this, while feeling relieved that J.R. is alive and surviving the horrors of his campaign in Afghanistan. I was flying through the pages because I would like to know how the heck CGerard is going to untangle the kinks out of the situation. Obviously she did it brilliantly! Oh my poor heart was tugged, pulled and stretched in different directions. I felt like my chest did yoga because I was emotionally spent after reading this, but in a good way. I know the cover looks Christmasy, THE WAY HOME wasn’t overflowing with holiday stuff. The resolution just happened right around Christmas so the message about peace and harmony was more meaningful than the usual for the characters. 
RUNNING BLIND is totally different from The Way Home in that it’s less emotional, more action-packed, and adrenalin drenched. Here we have a gorgeous couple complete with model good looks, and brains & brawn to boot! It was lust at first sight for Jamie Cooper and Rhonda Burns, and out of professionalism, they tried to fight their attraction, but to no avail. Eventually they gave in and it was quite obvious that they belong together. 
I love the sinister plot of RUNNING BLIND. Aside from the MC’s POV, we’re also treated to the One-Eyed Jacks‘s would be assassin’s plot to kill the Jacks. I admit it was a little anti-climactic because we’re spared the guesswork of who the villain is. CGerard made up for this by providing us with high-powered chases involving Russian counter-intelligence, a secret project in Area 51, and a revenge plot that goes back as far as the Jack’s inception in the Middle East. There’s a lot of history involved here and past couples made powerful cameos that were really touching. I enjoyed Coop and Rhonda’s fiery romance. Rhonda in particular captured my heart because this buxom beauty is not only a computer genius, she can handle and dish out major firepower too! Rhonda saved Coop from a Russian ambush and I love that little role reversal. 
One-Eyed Jacks has everything I love about the romantic suspense genre, plus it doesn’t hurt that our heroes and heroines are part of the armed forces. A little terrorist action never hurt a book like this, and CGerard dealt it in spades. The romances are always tender and spicy, but not overly lusty that one would doubt the emotional connections of the couples. So if you want to give your heart a little work out, try this series. It’s sure to sensitize your desensitized palate. These HEA’s will shake you to the core and will linger on your mind long after you’ve put down the book. 

Quick Hits: All of Me by Lisa Renee Jones & Bringing Home the Bad Boy by Jessica Lemmon

 

Yup! I’m starting this week in a VERY lazy fashion. I hope you have an awesome week, Supies!

All of Me | Inside Out 6 | Lisa Renee Jones
Erotic Suspense | February 2, 2015 | Gallery Books

I’m up to my neck with happily ever afters and I LOVE IT! Chris Merit and Sara MacMillan is one of my favorite kinky couples and I’m so happy they finally got to say their “I Do’s”! ALL OF ME, the last Inside Out Series novel was short, super sweet, very spicy, with a hint of suspense to keep us wanting for more! 

I love that LRJones didn’t make ALL OF ME unnecessarily long by including other characters’ storylines that would’ve muddied up this sweet story. It was entirely about Chris and Sara and I can’t help but swoon and be swept by how much they love each other. Yes, I am jealous because who doesn’t want to have a man/hubby like Chris Merit?! Forget his movie star good looks and fat bank account, the man is a good lover and a better friend, there’s not much to complain about! Same goes for Sara, she has been Chris’ rock, wall, and ground, Chris would be stupid to let her go.

Fans of the Inside Out will definitely love this ending. Also don’t fret because this world is far from over, Chris and Sara might have bid us goodbye but according to LRJones, Ella’s story, Sara’s friend and the original owner of Rebecca’s Journals, is getting her own story soon! It’s crazy suspenseful I can tell, I’m getting a white slavery/Euro mob vibe from it and I can’t wait to ride this new roller coaster LRJones has in store for us! Also I hope Mark Compton’s novellas continue, I’d like to read more of his relationship with Crystal and hopefully they get to say their I Do’s soon too!



The Novels
The Novellas





Bringing Home The Bad Boy | Second Chances 1 | Jessica Lemmon

Contemporary Romance | January 27, 2015 | Forever

Who doesn’t love second chance romances?! BRINGING HOME THE BAD BOY reminded me a lot of my fave small town series, Bad Boys of Crystal Lake (Juliana Stone), with it’s small town feel, characters that has intricate histories, touching romances, and like the series name, a second chance to finding happily ever after.
Now BRINGING HOME THE BAD BOY had me all torn up. See the couple are connected by Rae, Evan Downey’s deceased wife and Charlotte Harris’ best friend. On one hand, I feel uncomfortable about their relationship because it felt incestuous and made me wonder if they’ve always been attracted to each other. On the other hand, Jessica Lemmon effectively depicted Evan’s mournful state over Rae’s death and Charlie’s grief and guilt over losing her bestie and “encroaching” on her family. 
Evan and Charlie’s relationship might not have had a “clean” start in that they come with a lot of unique baggage from the beginning. I loved that part though because it felt very realistic, and I saw how much Evan and Charlie loved Rae. And aside from their heartfelt courtship, both Evan and Charlie did the proper steps to validate their feelings for each other and making sure it has permanence than a mere hook-up. On a personal note, Evan just SMOLDERED throughout BRINGING HOME THE BAD BOY, Charlie (and myself) didn’t really stand a chance against his charms. 
JLemmon, you made a fan out of me, rest assured I willbe following Second Chances closely.

Loved It: Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn + 7 Things & Giveaway

Series: TBA

Format: eGalley
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Historical | Mystery | Paranormal

Postbellum America makes for a haunting backdrop in this historical and supernatural tale of moonlit cemeteries, masked balls, cunning mediums, and terrifying secrets waiting to be unearthed by an intrepid crime reporter.

The year is 1869, and the Civil War haunts the city of Philadelphia like a stubborn ghost. Mothers in black continue to mourn their lost sons. Photographs of the dead adorn dim sitting rooms. Maimed and broken men roam the streets. One of those men is Edward Clark, who is still tormented by what he saw during the war. Also constantly in his thoughts is another, more distant tragedy–the murder of his mother at the hands of his father, the famed magician Magellan Holmes…a crime that Edward witnessed when he was only ten.

Now a crime reporter for one of the city’s largest newspapers, Edward is asked to use his knowledge of illusions and visual trickery to expose the influx of mediums that descended on Philadelphia in the wake of the war. His first target is Mrs. Lucy Collins, a young widow who uses old-fashioned sleight of hand to prey on grieving families. Soon, Edward and Lucy become entwined in the murder of Lenora Grimes Pastor, the city’s most highly regarded–and by all accounts, legitimate–medium, who dies mid-seance. With their reputations and livelihoods at risk, Edward and Lucy set out to find the real killer, and in the process unearth a terrifying hive of secrets that reaches well beyond Mrs. Pastor.

Blending historical detail with flights of fancy, “Things Half in Shadow” is a riveting thriller where “Medium” and “The Sixth Sense” meet “The Alienist”–and where nothing is quite as it seems.

When I picked up THINGS HALF IN SHADOW by Alan Finn, I expected it to be dark, sinister, totally creeptastic, something I wouldn’t dare read before bed lest I risk getting nightmares. I’m mortally afraid of ghosts and reading/watching ghostly novels is a no-no for me unless I plan on staying up all night. Things might not have been as dark as I wanted it to be still I got what I came for and then some.
The case that was Edward Clark and Lucy Collins started as a battle of wit and cunning and though theirs isn’t a classic romance or even an HEA story, the tension between them is palpable and one can’t help but root for these two to become a couple. You can tell from all their bickering and their chemistry that they’re very much attracted to each other however there are some complications that must be entangled first before they can even entertain the notion. Now despite the impending romance involving Edward and Lucy, THINGS HALF IN SHADOW is romantically light as it focused more on the other aspects of the story. Now I don’t know if there’s a book 2 (I hope there is!) and if in case it’s in the works, I’m sure things between our main characters are going to develop and heat up.

As individual characters, Lucy is very feisty, witty, and such a go-getter, a truly likable character. How she landed as a medium was quite a tale, it was tragic and her gumption was what saved her so to speak. I’m just not sure how long she can keep running from her past though considering the can of worms that was opened here. As for Edward, I don’t know what to make of him. He’s not necessarily my type of hero, he blushes and faints, his methods in terms getting a story wasn’t impressive to me, he’s not swoony yet I found him rather entertaining. His backstory is heartbreaking, see his dad is in prison for murdering his mother and naturally Edward condemned his old man but there’s some new evidence that came to light that may or may not exonerate his father. After 15 years of not speaking, Edward finally came to see his dad and my heart just clenched in sadness because of how desperate his father is and how Edward is so bitter and angry about the whole affair. Yet another reason why a sequel is needed, I sure would like to see father and son reunite and get closure.

My favorite thing about this novel is how atmospheric it was. You can tell that AFinn did his research in painting an authentic backdrop for THINGS HALF IN SHADOW not just in terms of scenery but in the feeling it wanted to convey. I felt like there’s a gray cloud covering Philadelphia from the grief that’s stemmed from the war and the devastation it caused. Everyone was affected and everyone’s looking for some sort of comfort from their loss even if it means embracing unconventional ways such as seances and the like, anything to get them reconnected and reunited with their dearly departed. The plot down to the personal stories of each character were well told, carefully fleshed, and empathetic. It was easy to understand why these people went to such great lengths, pay these mediums ridiculous amounts of money, they would do and trade anything just to have another moment with their loved one. The mystery was cleverly planned covered in layers of spirtualism and murder, it was quite the guesswork trying to figure out who killed Mrs. Pastor. The revelation was quite the production, it sure gave me goosebumps and it was done so perfectly and very reflective of the plot.

If you’re a fan of Jenn Bennett’s Roaring Twenties, or Jamie Lee Moyer’s Delia Martin, our you just enjoy ghost stories, I highly recommend you read THINGS HALF IN SHADOW.

7 Things You Should Know About 

THINGS HALF IN SHADOW

  1. It takes place in Philadelphia in 1869. I picked that as the setting and time period because Philadelphia is chock full of history and seemed the best place to set a tale about mediums and murder.
  2. The book contains several séances. Some are real. Some are fake. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two.
  3. A few of the tricks and illusions used during the fake séances in the book really were employed by sham mediums in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Others, however, were made up to suit my story. I’ll never tell which is which.
  4. Although there are spirits in the book, THINGS HALF IN SHADOW isn’t really about ghosts. At least, not quite.
  5. P.T. Barnum, the famous showman, is a minor character in the book. He throws a masked ball, which was perhaps the single most fun thing I’ve ever written.
  6. Many of the Philadelphia locations found in the book still exist today. The most interesting is Eastern State Penitentiary, which is said to be haunted.
  7. The title THINGS HALF IN SHADOW came from a song in the movie “Mary Poppins.” I was watching the movie during the early stages of writing, when I was struggling to come up with a title. Then Bert the chimney sweep sang, “There’s things half in shadow, and halfway in light.” Bingo! I knew right then and there that it would be my title.

Alan Finn is the pen name of an acclaimed author of mysteries. He has worked as a writer, editor, journalist and ghost writer. He resides in Princeton, New Jersey, where he is hard at work on his next novel.

Stalk Alan

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Suped Up: Dangerous Alliance by Kyra Davis + Five Things & Giveaway

Series: Pure Sin 2

Format: Paperback
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Contemporary Romance

BLURB:
From Kyra Davis, New York Times bestselling author of Just One Night, comes Book Two in the Pure Sin series that Sinfully Sexy is calling “angsty, intriguing, and off the charts sexy.” The beautiful, angry Bell has revenge in her heart and Lander Gable in her sights. She’s seduced her way into his arms with the intent to destroy his wealthy family. But now that she’s there, lust and passion have begun squeezing out that desire for vengeance. It’s a dangerous game Bell is playing, and sex, mystery, and lies are the most intriguing game pieces of all.

QUOTABLE QUOTES:
In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t fight to live, I fight to win. – Bell

You can’t work for the devil without expecting to catch a little hell – Lorella

Heartache will age you faster than time ever can. – Jessica

There has never been a woman who has loved a Gable man who hasn’t lived to regret it. Even when we don’t mean to, we always end up crashing whatever heart has been handed to us. – Lander

An epic follow up to Deceptive Innocence, DANGEROUS ALLIANCE perfectly concluded Bell’s quest for revenge against the Gable family. No thread was left untied and finally, hopefully, Bell can lay her warrior side to rest.
Bell’s character has grown leaps and bounds in DANGEROUS ALLIANCE. What once was a girl clothed in bitterness, wrath, and vengeance has now softened and learned to trust, albeit grudgingly, a man who’s part of the circle she wants to take down. I love Bell not because of her hard exterior but for her candor and vulnerability. Throughout the story we see her get afraid, indecisive, and falter in following through with her plans, it’s her sheer determination that had her seeing what she set out to do decades before and that perseverance had me in awe.
Lander, this man had me nervous at one point. He was always a mystery to me, like Bell I’m kept guessing what kind of plot he’s concocting in his head. Blood is thicker than water they say so until almost the end, I’m left questioning his motives. And I like Lander’s ambiguous air, it’s very realistic especially when its a David & Goliath story and the motivation revenge. Someone almost always doesn’t play by the rules and usually its the person you thought you had on your side. Well Lander didn’t disappoint me on that front but he sure had me biting my nails furiously.
Kyra Davis unraveled and twisted DANGEROUS ALLIANCE repeatedly until the lines between the good guys and the bad guys have been blurred. For a minute there I thought Bell is going to get screwed over yet again then her golden chariot came, hell froze over, and the Gables FINALLY got what’s coming her way. If you’re reading the series, you will NOT believe who lent Bell a helping hand.
KDavis’ Pure Sin series is a total marvel. It’s a story about sex, money, power, and combined how these three can be a weapon or a blessing, depends on how you look at it. The plot is very clever, it draws you in and really gets you invested in the story and engaged in the characters. Deceptive Innocence and DANGEROUS ALLIANCE are brilliant, satisfaction guaranteed!


Best gift you got for Christmas

We do Hanukkah but it’s a toss up between the beautiful Helmut Lang sweater my husband got me and the Neil Gaiman books my son bought me. My boys know how to spoil me!


Holiday gastronomical must have dish
Latkes! 


New Year’s resolution
I don’t think New Year’s resolutions work so I choose a New Year’s word. Last year it was progress, this year it’s faith. Not just religious faith, but faith in myself and my work. Faith in the people around me who have earned my trust and who have my love. Faith in my own instincts and so on. If I don’t have faith in what I’m doing, the people I work with or surrounded myself with then I’m living in conflict with my 2015 word and I’ll need to either find that faith within myself or change the situation so my faith will be merited. 


Last book read & how was it in one word
All The Light We Cannot See: Magnificent. 



Will you be watching FSOG the movie?
My husband’s in the Academy so hopefully we’ll get a screener for a…um…intimate viewing (cough-cough).

Kyra is an internationally published author of the Sophie Katz mystery series, and So Much For My Happy Ending. Her first Erotic Fiction Trilogy will be released in January 2013.

Aside from that, She’s a single mom; addicted to coffee and True Blood (the show, not the drink). She’s happy with who she is yet she’s always striving to be better; She has more bad hair days than good ones and loves a challenge but not fearless, she’s….well…just Kyra.

Stalk Kyra

Suped Up: Deceptive Innocence by Kyra Davis

Series: Pure Sin 1

Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Romantica

BLURB:
Kyra Davis, the New York Times bestselling author of Just One Night, returns with book one in the thrillingly erotic Pure Sin series featuring a beautiful young woman out for revenge—until she falls in love with the one man whose secrets are as dangerous as her own.

Ever since Bell’s mother died while serving time for a murder she didn’t commit, Bell’s been focused on one thing: revenge. She knows her mother was set up by Jonathon Gable, the head of both the powerful Gable family and an international banking corporation. Now she’s determined to take him down—from the inside.

Bell needs access to the Gable home and offices, so she poses as a bartender to seduce her way into the bed—and life—of Jonathon’s rebellious youngest son, Lander. He’s not a typical Gable, spending more time in the dive bars of Harlem than the posh cocktail lounges of the Upper East Side. He has an attraction to danger, a vulnerability Bell isn’t shy about exploiting. It should be easy to uncover the secrets she needs to destroy his family and clear her mother’s name.

But it turns out Lander is much more complicated than she ever imagined. He’s enticing, intelligent, mysterious—plus their sexual chemistry is off the charts. Even though Bell knows he’s the enemy, she can’t help but be moved, both physically and emotionally, by the man she swore was just a target. When he finds out the truth she’s sure both their hearts and her plan will be crushed…until she begins to realize that Lander might be hiding his own secrets, darker than she ever imagined.

NOTE: This book includes Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 which are no longer sold separately.

QUOTABLE QUOTES:
Because he’s chosen despair over anger. It’s a bad choice. Despair will kill you. Anger’s more useful. – Lander

The rich disguise their sin so well. Their vices are actually made pretty… before they turn ugly.

I love revenge themed books, I don’t know what it says about me but I get a thrill out of it from the careful plotting down to the execution. The part where things can unravel by a simple misstep gives me a good rush, there’s an understated element of suspense throughout the book that even a cunning, calculated, and motivated heroine like Bell, might not get herself out of and all the years of hardwork down the drain and the repercussions expensive and at times even deadly. DECEPTIVE INNOCENCE by Kyra Davis might not be a holiday book but I sure flew through the pages completely engrossed by Bell’s plan to take down the Gable family from the inside if only she didn’t fall for her target, Lander Gable. 
Straightforward comparison, if you like or love the TV show Revenge then you’re very likely to enjoy DECEPTIVE INNOCENCE although at this point the plot isn’t as intricate as the show but it’s slowly getting there. I don’t know if I like Bell at this point but I admire her no question about it. It takes a lot of nerve to take down a powerful family like the Gables whose reach is far and wide and she plans to do it single handedly. Bell basically sold her soul to the devil here because there is no way she’s getting out of this unscathed and most likely she’ll endure more losses before the Gable Takedown is over. 
DECEPTIVE INNOCENCE has a very clever plot, there’s an outright premise and with every flashback Bell has regarding her mother’s frame-up, more pieces of the puzzle are being fitted into the picture and more and more people are getting roped into Bell’s black hole of vengeance. The characters are written really well which made this novel even more compelling and they inspire varying emotions from the reader. Except for Travis Gable, I found it difficult to hate everyone who were involved in Bell’s mother’s case because some of them are victims as well. 
Now love interests like Lander Gable are usually auxiliary characters or some sort of pawns. It’s not the case here because Lander Gable is just as fascinating as Bell. Here is a man who is Bell’s equal in every way and he too has his own motives, secrets, and beef with his family. And just like Bell, how far and heartless is he willing to go to achieve his goals? Together, Bell and Lander makes for one scary team and I’m excited to see what kind of terror they’ll unleash and the amount of devastation they will cause.
DECEPTIVE INNOCENCE is a brilliant, smart, sexy, and an atypical romance that will suck you in from beginning to end. Simple yet powerful questions like Why, Who, and How will persist, the pace is great and the twist in the end just made Bell’s thirst for revenge more dangerous and provoking. Every single one of the characters have roles to play and none of them are what they seem. Something and someone is always lying in wait ready to pounce so you’ll end up all tense and bracing yourself for that rabid bite. Once again, KDavis penned one spicy series in Pure Sin, readers of Lisa Renee Jones and Shiloh Walker will surely enjoy this delectable treat.
Deceptive Innocence (ebook) is on sale for $1.99 for a limited time

Disliked It: Illusion by J.S. Cooper

Series: Swept Away 1

Format: Paperback
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher 
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Indie sensation and New York Times bestselling author of the Ex Games series and the Private Club series, J.S. Cooper introduces the Swept Away series—three new, dark and sexy romances about a woman marooned on a desert island with a mysterious stranger—but is he friend or foe?

The day started like every other day…

Bianca London finds herself kidnapped and locked up in a van with a strange man. Ten hours later, they’re dumped on a deserted island. Bianca has no idea what’s going on and her attraction to this stranger is the only thing keeping her fear at bay.

Jakob Bradley wants only to figure out why they’ve been left on the island and how they can get off. But as the days go by, he can’t ignore his growing fascination with Bianca.

In order to survive, Bianca and Jakob must figure out how they’re connected, but as they grow closer, secrets are revealed that may destroy everything they thought they knew about each other. (less)



And my story time adventure continues, today J.S. Cooper’s ILLUSION is next on the chopping block. It promises a tension filled romantic suspense that involves conspiracy theories, abductions, and getting trapped in a deserted island. At first glance ILLUSION is the kind of mayhem I crave for unfortunately it seems my reading streak is semi jinxed because I did not like this at all. But let’s start with the positives.
What I liked about ILLUSION is the mystery regarding Bianca London and her parents. Her mother died in a car crash which according to her father was no accident but an assassination. Bianca’s father was an inventor of a few hit devices unfortunately his former business partners, now called Bradley Inc., cheated him out of his patents and financial compensation. These things had Bianca investigating the situation with the hopes of getting to the bottom of the shadiness and hopefully claim what’s rightfully hers and her father’s.
This premise made ILLUSION such a fast read for me, in the first 60 pages the stage has been set, Bianca has been abducted, and found herself with a couple of strangers in a deserted island. Once in the island the taunting continued, notes and riddled clues were left every so often and that constant nefarious presence lurking in the shadows had me bracing for the next strike.
That said my dislikes outweighed my likes. Like what I said on Goodreads, ILLUSION has a severe case of TSTL (thanks Sophia of Delighted Reader for educating me on the politically correct term to use for situations like this) and readers should proceed with caution. *rolls up sleeves*

  1. The blurb contains spoilers.
  2. It was easy to figure out who the bad guy is because the prologue was spoilery too. Why bother with the mystery in the first place? Smh!
  3. There were a few redundancies especially in the beginning. Too much use of the same word in a single paragraph it was maddening!
  4. You get abducted and find yourself in a deserted island and only God knows where you are. Instead of trying to figure things out, Bianca was preoccupied flirting and getting it on with the handsome stranger, Jakob Bradley, whom she previously sort of met in a cafe early on in the story. I get the purpose distracting oneself in the middle of a stressful situation but it’s obvious that Bianca’s priority is somewhat skewed.
  5. Let’s walk around the island in our underwear because it should be sexy. Meanwhile our clothes are okay and can be worn intermittently throughout the day. I liked in a tropical island and I’m VERY surprised that Bianca and Jakob didn’t get malaria or dengue fever or any other disease induced by insect bites. I guess their hot bodies worked like Off lotion, we need to bottle that shit out then and send it to Africa, Haiti, etc.
  6. There was a shack somewhere in the island and maybe for the purpose of bringing the sexy factor in, Bianca and Jakob preferred to sleep on the beach regardless of the weather conditions. If you found some sort of a shelter wouldn’t you grab the opportunity and camp there instead? Protect you from the elements?
  7. Lastly, and I just griped about this a while ago, let’s skip the condom because I’m clean. Yup, you take the word of a virtual stranger who admitted that he’s been around the block a few times, after all venereal diseases are easy to cure much like the common cold right? In connection to this, Bianca supposedly has intimacy issues but Jakob’s magic tongue and penis cured her of whatever issues she had concerning sex.
  8. And the cherry on top, Bianca proves she has a bad case of TSTL so when her house of cards finally fell she has nobody to blame but herself and her stupid vagina.
ILLUSION ended in a cliffhanger althoug it’s a cliffie only when it matters right? Yeah I don’t care to know what the motive is behind this experiment. I’m sure Jakob will manage to sweet talk Bianca and because she can’t live without his sexual prowess, she’ll convince herself that this psycho is a good catch.

Disliked It: Veil of Time by Claire R. McDougall

Series: Stand-alone

Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Literary Fiction | Time Travel

A compelling tale of two Scotlands-one modern, one ancient-and the woman who parts the veil between them.

The medication that treats Maggie’s seizures leaves her in a haze, but it can’t dull her grief at losing her daughter to the same condition. With her marriage dissolved and her son away at school, Maggie retreats to a cottage below the ruins of Dunadd, once the royal seat of Scotland. But is it fantasy or reality when she awakens in a bustling village within the massive walls of eighth-century Dunadd? In a time and place so strange yet somehow familiar, Maggie is drawn to the striking, somber Fergus, brother of the king and father of Illa, who bears a keen resemblance to Maggie’s late daughter. With each dreamlike journey to the past, Maggie grows closer to Fergus and embraces the possibility of staying in this Dunadd. But with present-day demands calling her back, can Maggie leave behind the Scottish prince who dubs her mo chridhe, my heart?



I’ve been in the mood for something different lately and VEIL OF TIMEby Claire R. McDougall was screaming at me to finally give it a shot especially as it’s been sitting on my shelf for the longest time. I’ll be honest, my sole motivation for reading this is it’s shameless comparison to Diana Gabaldon’s hit series, Outlander, following its formula of time travel, Scotland, men in kilts, a conflicted woman. Unfortunately it did not live up to its promise IMO, though the premise is promising the actual plot was droll and at times even outrageous I had a hard time suspending disbelief.
I’ll start with the time travel explanation which I could accept because VEIL OF TIME after all is a fantasy so anything goes in that regard. The short of it is Maggie was able to transport herself back to 8th century Dunadd because it’s Samhain and her epileptic episodes was her mode of travel. However Maggie is slated for an operation soon which will cure her of the disease but in exchange for a clean bill of health, she won’t be able to take casual trips back in 8th century. This conundrum was made even more difficult after Maggie fell in love with Fergus, the King of Dunadd’s brother. Again I can deal with this, it can be a legit myth and conflict, I mean I’ve read and engaged in various impossible and sometimes ridiculous plots involving several otherworldly creatures and IMO this is no different.
In present day Maggie found a confidante in her neighbor, Jim, a geezer and local historian. First she started asking dear old Jim random but specific questions about Dunadd which Jim entertained. Eventually she confessed that she was able to travel back and forth in time during her epileptic episodes and here is where part of my problem lies. Jim just took it in stride and didn’t really question this anomaly. No skepticism, no proof of validation, nothing of the sort, he just took it as fact and became Maggie’s pseudo babysitter when she has her attacks. Ha! A very illogical response from an intellection don’t you think?
VEIL OF TIME didn’t work for me for a few reasons. First is it’s lack of tension and ebbs and tides that could’ve made this one great adventure. There was no palpable romantic tension between Maggie and Fergus, they meet, got curious, felt attraction, hopped in a cot, screwed, fell in love, and never want to part. It was one straight line which is a shame because their impossible love story is the core of the novel.
Also Dunadd is in the cusp of a catastrophe the likes of their existence will be wiped out from history. The constant alternation between past and present prevented this part of the story to be developed. The height of this arc is Maggie warning Fergus and his tribe of the oncoming assault, basically trying to change the past in order to save them. Yeah that didn’t work well either. On a side note, I don’t know why Maggie would want to stay in Dunadd, I understand that McDougall is trying to give an authentic air to this time but it was so authentic that it became unappealing. Yucky stew with mystery meat, unwashed bodies, people speaking Gaelic, and so on and so forth. There’s nothing remotely romantic about this era and it would be a no brainer for me choosing between my health and Fergus.
So yes, this little reading experiment was a bust and believe me I tried to at least like VEIL OF TIME which was why I finished it instead of calling DNF. Obviously I’m not the right reader for this literary fantasy, I guess I’ve been pre-conditioned by countless PNR/UF novels that stories like this should come with different highs, it was too tame for my crazy palate.