Quick Hits: Wolf Bride by Elizabeth Moss + The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

  

Wolf Bride | Lust in the Tudor Court 1 | Elizabeth Moss
Erotic Historical Romance | Sourcebooks Casablanca | May 5, 2015

Bloggy Friends’ Review: Nocturnal Book Reviews | Book Swoon

I was so excited to read WOLF BRIDE because I love the Tudor Court and anything that has to do with Henry VIII. It was also an added incentive that Lust in the Tudor Court was erotic historical romance and I sure could use a big dose of sexy in my life. 

Sadly, WOLF BRIDE wasn’t what I hoped for. I wasn’t regaled with descriptions of court life, the wardrobe, the silly protocols as the heroine, Eloise Tyrell, was so close to King Henry and Queen Anne. Instead I had pages and pages of sex, angst, more sex, zero courtship, and convoluted conflicts! I almost DNF’d this one but I was on the 88% mark and thought I might as well finish it since I made it that far. But boy was it a laborious 12%. Lord Wolf was a jackass and emotionally handicappped, and he was not sexy (to me at least) at all. In fact, I never understood his motivations and decision making process which further annoyed me. As for Eloise, the girl needs some personality (or a brain) and sass. She obeyed Wolf well but it’s hard to appreciate that when she’s been obedience throughout the novel. Nope, WOLF BRIDE isn’t for me.


 
The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest | Medieval Fairy Tale Romance 1 | Emily Dickerson
Fairy Tale Retelling | Thomas Nelson | May 12, 2015 
at 47%
THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST by Emily Dickerson is a mash-up of Swan Lake and Robin Hood. I love the premise of this YA novel, after all, Robin of Locksley and the accursed Odette are two of my favorite fictional characters.
I can’t help but feel insecure about not finishing THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST because a lot of people loved it! Almost half way through the novel I felt it was sorely missing something. For example, at this point, I feel we should’ve seen Odette in full Huntress mode. Instead all I got were her arrows left in the forest as clue for Jorgen, the forester and Odette’s love interest. It’s so bland and though we know that Odette and Jorgen are at odds, there’s barely any tension between the two. 
But please don’t take my word for it. A lot of people in Goodreads LOVED THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST so it might be one of those it’s not you, it’e me kind of thing, you know? Give it a go, you might end up liking this title more than I did.


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Research on Western Historicals by Rosanne Bittner, Linda Broday & Co.

I don’t usually read Western historical romances, BUT I’ve been watching a lot of western TV series lately and are enjoying the shows immensely! Here’s a few authors 

Digging into the Old West for a Historical Western Romance

It’s no surprise that historical western authors love the history of the old west. But when beginning a new story, where do they start? Historical western authors E.E. Burke, Jacqui Nelson, Jo Goodman, Kaki Warner, Linda Broday, and Rosanne Bittner share the research they’ve done for their historical western novels!


A Dangerous Passion by E.E. Burke
Goodreads | Amazon | www.eeburke.com

People often ask me where I get my inspiration. Honestly, I couldn’t make up more exciting scenarios or colorful characters than those I come across in historical research—in this case, railroad history.

Fortunate for me, I had to look no further than my backyard (southeastern Kansas). I came across a thesis written by a Kansas historian about a railroad race in 1870 that had all the makings of an epic Western: crooked politics, underhanded landlords, angry mobs, liars, cheats, and mysterious killers. The characters and events surrounding that race set my series in motion and inspired Passion’s Prize and Her Bodyguard.

The hero in my latest novel, A Dangerous Passion, is loosely based on the first general manager of the Katy Railroad, Robert S. Stevens. He was the brains behind the Katy, as well as the driving force, and is credited for the railroad’s survival and growth at a time when railroads failed faster than banks.


Between Love and Lies by Jacqui Nelson
Goodreads | Amazon | www.jacquinelson.com

An author cannot visit every location she writes about, so I turn to books for some serious armchair travel to both distant settings and time periods. It helps that I work in a used bookstore where the perfect resource might arrive at any time, but more often than not I’m rewarded by the pages of an old favorite I’ve had since my teenage years—the 26 volume Time-Life Old West series.

The spark for my upcoming release, Between Love & Lies, came from this series and the following lines. “The longhorns were carriers of a microscopic tick. The Texas animals were immune to the parasite, but the same tick produced deadly splenic fever in local cattle.”

I imagined a small farm, held together only by the grit and hard work of its owner, might not survive such an event. I wondered what might happen next, both on that unlucky farm and in the nearest town: Dodge City, the Queen of Cattle Towns—where life would be challenging for a woman who luck had deserted.


This Gun for Hire by Jo Goodman
Goodreads | Amazon | www.jogoodman.com

I have books (yes, books) on lots of subjects that I reference frequently, but I also use the Internet for some specifics. I’ve researched clothes, of course, trains and train travel and train routes, dynamite, guns and more guns, mail express, safe cracking, dime novels, saloons, brothels, branding, barbed wire, outlaws, the marshal service, forts, maps and maps and maps, recipes, how to start and clean an iron cook stove, vocabulary, and how to saddle a horse. That’s still probably a short list.


Home by Morning by Kaki Warner
Goodreads | Amazon | www.kakiwarner.com

The list is endless. In addition to 1870s clothing, mining and ranching, weapons, horse training, railroads, transoceanic steamers, historical events (Great Epizootic, Underground Railroad, Irish migration, Transcontinental RR, Chinese labor, Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, currency issues, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, and so on), I also had to research medical practices, breast pumps, condoms, rabies, water witching, photography, blindness, and of course, cool new ways to kill bad guys. It was fun. And exhausting.


Twice a Texas Bride by Linda Broday
Goodreads | Amazon | www.lindabroday.com

Research is so important in any story, but even more so for historicals. I‘ve research modes of travel and how fast they could go by horseback, wagon, and train. In Twice a Texas Bride I had to research canned milk to make sure it could’ve been in my story after the baby ran out while the outlaw had them under siege and there was nothing else. In that story I also found that canned peaches were available so I put them in. I’ve researched gunshots, leg injuries, plants, medicines—you name it and I’ve just about researched it. In the book I’m writing now, I’ve had to learn how broken legs were treated back then and if a doctor had the expertise to put someone in a cast.


Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner 
Goodreads | Amazon | www.rosannebittner.com

I have been studying America’s western history for over 30 years. I grew up on westerns on TV, loved books and movies about pioneers and Native Americans. I have a huge personal library of research books – hundreds of them. I strive for complete historical accuracy in my novels – events, locations, tools and utensils, clothing – all of it. I don’t “invent” forts or cities or a gold discovery if gold wasn’t actually discovered there, things like that. I LOVE America’s “Old West!”
There you have it! A great historical romance is only as good as the research put into it. There’s so many nuances that some people miss from the clothes, landmarks, events, down to food and dialogue. Any book should have the ability to transport you, past, present, or future (or another world), and the ones above looks like it’ll be worth the trip.

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Loved It: Combustion by Elia Winters

Series: Standalone
Format: eGalley
Release Date: May 5. 2015
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Historical Romance

For explosive chemistry, all you need is the right catalyst…

A war orphan, Astrid Bailey is content living her adult life alone, working as a contract machinist. Her real passion, though, is inventing felicitation devices that promote women’s sexual empowerment and help them find pleasure independent of a man.

The upcoming World’s Fair, with its substantial cash prize, is an opportunity to open the shop she’s always imagined and hopefully solve her financial woes. Except the committee has denied her entry unless she obtains a “sponsor”. Astrid suspects they mean “male”.

Eli Rutledge, noted watchmaker, knows entering the fair will solidify his reputation as an innovator —but he’s fresh out of ideas. Until Astrid approaches him with her outrageous product line. With no other options, though, he agrees to lend her his good name.

As construction heats up, so does their chemistry—and the complications. Astrid is unaccustomed to asking for help, much less sharing credit. And Eli fights an attraction that could spell professional disaster. As the Fair date approaches, Astrid and Eli must decide how far they’ll go. For the business…and for each other.

Warning: Contains period-appropriate graphic language, highly inappropriate amounts of M/F and F/F sex, and copious amounts of *ahem* product testing. May *ahem again* “spark” an online shopping binge for *cough* toys. Of the adult variety.

3.5 Cauldrons
I think I picked up COMBUSTION by Elia Winters because I thought it was Steampunk. I think it was tagged as Sci-Fi/Fantasy in NetGalley and based on the cover art, it does look like it’s going to be another sexy Victorian adventure. 
Ummm… not quite… this is what I get for NOT reading blurbs and for being such a cover whore!
The story. It’s what the blurb said, an enterprising inventor/machinist, Astrid Bailey, who is in the business of making dildos and vibrators and she is set on bringing her products mainstream. Fortunately for her, she has a few patron, unfortunately for her, the judges on the prestigious World’s Fair doesn’t think so. What happened next? Let’s just say, it did end happily for Astrid but not without the help of a few cunning friends and a sexy fellow inventor, Eli Rutledge.
Normally, I’d be so mad for being duped by a novel that banked on “false marketing”. Books pretending to be something, in this case, Steampunk, only to have a steamy and very imaginative historical romance instead. COMBUSTION has no distinct world building to speak of, nor is the novel peppered by peculiarities that would make it a sci-fi fantasy. The most fantastical extent the novel went with is calling England Britannia and having a society where Queen Victoria’s people are somewhat okay with vibrators, or felicitation devices (bullets, rabbits, anal plugs, etc.), and have a fucking machine exhibited at the World’s Fair. The old bat would faint at the scandal! 
But we all know these don’t make for Steampunk!
The “bones” of COMBUSTION is good though, EWinters could easily expand the novel and world if she choose to, like adding depth and tone to the novel by creating more tension, firmer backstories, and an array of relationships for Astrid. Like stressing on the the taboos of self-pleasure,having a few moral antagonists, heighten Astrid’s sexuality and non conformity, a strong group of influential female friends, etc. Plot devices like these could’ve easily made COMBUSTION a great read, or a sexy historical series even. 
Regardless, I did enjoy COMBUSTION, found it funny at times. Also I should know better, this is published by Samhain and Samhain is known for its hot reads! EWinters style is very engaging in its simplicity and though it wasn’t a 5-cauldron read, the characters are well written and the conflict/resolution plausible. And did I mention how hot this was? Like African Summer level, hot? So girls and guys, grab your favorite BoB, COMBUSTION is going to be quite a ride. 

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Liked It: Rising Fire by Terri Brisbin

Series: Stone Circle 1

Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Source: Publisher
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

What if the standing stones and stone circles across the old Celtic world had a secret origin and use? What if some opened into another world? What if the goddess of fire was trapped beneath one?

Lovely and innocent, Brienne of Yester has always been able to manipulate fire, but when her powers suddenly surge, the simple life she once knew explodes.

Handsome, fearless, and commanding, William de Brus has been summoned by the king to investigate a nobleman rumored to have powers linked to the fabled fire goddess. When he chances upon Brienne, his desire for her is immediate. But as his mystical quest unfolds, William realizes that she is at the center of it — for Brienne possesses the very power he has been sent to vanquish….

As their attraction deepens, William attempts to free Brienne from the dark force beginning to control her — even when his duty demands that he treat her as an enemy. With emotions flaring, fire rising, and evil threatening at every turn, can the two lovers survive the coming battle and save all of humanity?

On paper, I love everything Terri Brisbin’s RISING FIRE has to offer. An ancient curse unraveling, a prophecy about to be realized, unexpected heroes, vicious gods, Scotland in the dark ages. What’s NOT to get excited over, right? 
RISING FIRE has an epic feel to it, and it’s the first thing that drew me to the series. A kingdom appears to be the prize in this impending war that nobody knows is about to commence much less, prepared for. As the first book in a new series, RISING FIRE has the responsibility of making the proper introductions and establishing precedent for the series arc and conflict. 
Stone Circles is off to a great start. I always love it when the heroes are the underdogs, gives them a lot of room to improve and have stunning character developments. In RISING FIRE the heroes are the bastards of the King and the villain, Brienne and William, but it’s not a forbidden love kind of thing. After all, nobody really cared for bastards back in the day, right? There’s not much to tell about them at this point except for being naive, loyal, and obedient to their role and cause in the story. And because this situation caught them off guard, Brienne and William together with their friends, were on the offense, and theirs were knee-jerk reactions.

She [Chaela] is the destructor. She is chaos. She is fire. Very simply, her escape will be the end of the world as we know it. Death and fire will rule over man and reason.

Aside from the plot arc, I love the villain even better. Lord Hugh is vicious, greedy, a bully, and an autocrat while the slumbering goddess, Chaela, is evil incarnate. What I struggled with are the lack of build-up between intense scenes. Some parts went from zero-to-sixty in a blink of an eye so it felt jumpy or choppy on certain parts. Still RISING FIRE was a good read, the war is far from over and now that Brienne and William are better armed and more knowledgeable of their situation, hopefully the next battle will be par for par.

Loved It: Lord Midnight by Donna Cummings

Series: Standalone

Format: Mobi
Release Date: December 22, 2011
Publisher: Smashwords
Source: Gift
Recommended by(un)Conventional Book Reviews
Genre: Historical Romance

Gabriel DeVault, a dashing highwayman, lives to avenge himself against the uncle who stole his title and tried to kill him as a child. One night’s robbery yields unexpected riches when his uncle’s spirited bride-to-be falls into Gabriel’s arms. Now his plans for vengeance include seduction of the innocent miss, in the home that once was his own.

Marisa Dunsmore is blackmailed into wedding the cold and calculating Edmund DeVault, Lord Westbrook, to protect her beloved aunt. When her attempts to escape the upcoming marriage fail, she turns for help to the man she knows as Lord Midnight, entrusting him with her love, and her future.

Soon Gabriel must choose: saving the woman who stole his heart, or destroying the man who stole his life.

I did say that I want to read historical romances this year, not the ones infused with paranormal or fantasy element, but old school HR. I’d like to thank my friend, Lexxie of (un)Conventional Book Reviews, for gifing me LORD MIDNIGHT by Donna Cummings, and for Anna of Herding Cats & Burning Soup, for hosting the Historical Romance Reading Challenge this year. I found the perfect motivation to fulfill this blogger resolution and switch up my reading genres. 
Now, LORD MIDNIGHT had echoes of Zorro, what with the masked bandit seducing and winning the heart of a fair maiden. Marisa Dunsmore is not your typical lady though (they never are which is why I love HR), she’s too sassy for her own good much to her family’s dismay. She is to wed the handsome, but oily, Edmund, current Lord of Westbrook, who is much older than she is, and whose presence turns Marisa’s stomach. She tried everything to escape her impending nuptials, which I find quite amusing. To Marisa’s credit, some of her plans are quite creative from a faked carriage-sickness to a day out painting. However nothing was seccessful because Marisa’s younger brother, Bernard, watches her like a hawk and foiled every escape plan she hatched. 
Until their carriage was hijacked by Gabriel DeVault. As luck would have it, Marisa left quite the impression on Gabriel as he did to her. Soon enough, Gabriel was sneaking off to Marisa’s room at night, hence LORD MIDNIGHT, starting a delicious and slow seduction that surely fogged up (figuratively) my ereader screen. These two have chemistry, to say the least, and I love how Gabriel fell for Marisa first, dispensing every ounce of creativity and daring he has to save Marisa from Edmund. Oh and Gabriel is wayyy hotter than young Banderas. Blond hair-blue eyed, Gabriel is (in my mind) very much a hunky Hemsworth.
Now aside from this sneak attack, there’s also a story involving Gabriel and Edmund. These two have a connection that, although I suspected, didn’t expect the depth of. I do love this familial twist, especially when the three of them finally faced off. It reminded me a lot that scene in Robin Hood the movie, the one with Kevin Costner when he was trying to save Marian on her wedding day from the clutches of the Sherriff. 
LORD MIDNIGHT is a fast read and a delightful historical romance read. The plot was in a way predictable but I didn’t mind it at all. Sometimes it’s nice to just kick back and simply enjoy the book, allow the story and characters to take you down a familiar path. Now what’s worth noting is that LORD MIDNIGHT reminded me of why I used to love HR and why I should read more of it moving forward. I love the romantic tension between Gabriel and Marisa and how observing etiquette, appearances, propriety, etc., fanned their attraction to each other. Sometimes holding off on the nookie is better than giving it away on the first opportunity.

Loved It: Arcana by Jessica Leake

Series: TBA

Format: eGalley
Excerpt here
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Publisher: Talos
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Historica Romance | Fantasy

A romantic, suspenseful, genre-bending debut set in Edwardian London.

Amid the sumptuous backdrop of the London season in 1905, headstrong Katherine Sinclair must join the ranks of debutantes vying for suitors. Unfortunately for Katherine, she cannot imagine anything more loathsome—or dangerous. To help ease her entrance into society, Katherine’s family has elicited the assistance of the Earl of Thornewood, a friend and London’s most eligible bachelor, to be her constant companion at the endless fetes and balls. But upon her arrival in London, Katherine realizes there will be more to this season than just white gowns and husband hunting.

Through her late mother’s enchanted diary, Katherine receives warning to keep hidden her otherworldly ability to perform arcana, a magic fueled by the power of the sun. Any misstep could mean ruin—and not just for her family name. The Order of the Eternal Sun is everywhere—hunting for those like her, able to feed on arcana with only a touch of the hand.

But society intrigue can be just as perilous as the Order. The machinations of the fashionable elite are a constant threat, and those who covet Katherine’s arcana, seeking the power of her birthright, could be hiding behind the façade of every suitor—even the darkly handsome Earl of Thornewood.

With so much danger and suspicion, can she give her heart to the one who captivates her, or is he just another after her power?

I’ll get it out of the way and mention that I know, the cover art does nothing for the story and yes, I agree that it needs a makeover to make it more snazzy. I’m only glad that I noticed the blurb first otherwise I would’ve missed out on a pretty awesome story courtesy of Jessica Leake. After a brief back and forth with JLeake, she said that this is book 1 of a series but she failed to mention what the series title is so I’ll stand-by for that. 
Now here’s why I loved ARCANA:
  •  It’s a fantasy story set in the Edwardian era and I saw that it’s labeled YA but it felt more like historical romance because the magic was more of a backdrop. Also is there such a thing as YA historical romance? I believe that people back in the day skipped this part, the women were usually teen-brides and the men were encouraged to be promiscuous as soon as they understand the power of the peen. 
  • The pomp and circumstance were on point here, ball gowns, petticoats, maddening rules of etiquette, catty aristocrats, ARCANA has the whole shebang. If you love historical romance, you’ll find this very delightful. 
  • The courtship between Katherine and the Earl of Thornewood was swoony, sweeping and bodice reaping! Goodness gracious, it’s very typical historical romance that’s guaranteed to get under your pantaloons!
  • The supernatural aspect is subtle but present. The conundrum is keeping Katherine and her siblings’ powers a secret lest they risk being shunned by their peers.
  • The myth is fae-like, Katherine’s half Sylvani and she draws her powers from the sun. Her mother was a princess but she gave up her immortality because she fell in love with a human. Oddly, Katherine’s parents’ love story reminded me of Aragon and Arwen (LOTR). 
  • Katherine’s main power is to heal but doing much of it can be fatal. I wasn’t awed by her magic, there’s nothing fresh about it but it did add a nice layer of intrigue to the story.
  • There are villains and antagonists galore. The villains being The Order of the Sun who are aware that Sylvanis exist and they want to harness their power for their own selfish reasons. The antagonist is a fellow debutante and Katherine’s romantic rival, Eliza Grey, and she made me want to pull her ringlets out. The girl’s a Bitch and a very effective foe at that.
  • Katherine Sinclair is likable enough, she’s headstrong, willful, can be arrogant at times, has a smart mouth and doesn’t really heed to the “rules”. As for Colin Thornewood, the dude is simply delicious!
I look forward to the next book in the series and I hope that the same balance will be maintained, more historical romance, less fantasy. 

Naughty Nooner: Seducing The Groom by Cheryl Holt + Giveaway

Series: Stand-alone

Format: PDF
Release Date: October 30, 2014 
Publisher: Book Baby
Source: Publisher
Genre: Historical Novella

Cheryl Holt celebrates her years as “The Queen of Erotic Romance” with this sexy, yummy, and fun tale of a bride’s seductive antics on her wedding night…

Stephen St. John, Viscount Banbury, is in a bind. His father has cut off his allowance, so he’s had to rein in his decadent habits and split with his beautiful, spoiled mistress whom he can no longer afford. When an American heiress comes to London and dangles her fortune in Stephen’s direction, he sees it as the answer to his prayers. He’ll wed the pretty, delectable heiress, but he won’t let her interfere with his decadent lifestyle. He’s a confirmed bachelor and determined to have a marriage of convenience.

Ellen Foster has traveled to London for the express purpose of buying a titled husband. She’s been husband shopping for months and can’t make up her mind. All the available candidates seem tepid and boring. But when she lays eyes on handsome, dashing Stephen St. John, she knows he’s the one, and with her large fortune as bait, he’s easily snared in her web.

When he suggests a marriage of convenience, she pretends to agree. But she has no intention of living separate lives. She plans to enjoy every delightful, wicked minute that marriage to a rake can provide. With Stephen determined to avoid her, seduction seems the only choice.

Though Stephen doesn’t realize it, Ellen always gets her way, and as she turns their bedchamber into a den of erotic pleasure, poor Stephen doesn’t stand a chance.

I’ve been sneaking historical romances here and there once in a while hoping to incorporate the genre full to my roster. I need to switch it up once in a while and sometimes the more options the better. Which had me jumping on Cheryl Holt’s SEDUCING THE GROOM. It’s a 70-paged novella and perfect for my laid back plans for this week. 
It’s easy for me to imagine SEDUCING THE GROOM as part of a full-length historical romance novel and a part of me wishes that this was longer so we can witness Ellen and Stephen’s love story from beginning to end. CHolt has other and sexier plans though because she jumps right away to their honeymoon. The problem is theirs is an arranged loveless and supposedly sexless marriage, unfortunately Ellen’s already fallen for the handsome aristocrat and is intent on consummating their relationship on their wedding night.  
Novellas are tricky and is a usually hit or miss because at times some aspect of the story suffers so it can fit the length. CHolt though made it simple gave SEDUCING THE GROOM a sense of completion. The characters managed to give us a good snapshot of their backstory, the conflict was well rounded and because the plot posed a simple question, to fluck or not to fluck, the resolution was fairly simple as well. Though SEDUCING THE GROOM did not fully satisfy my craving for a great historical romance, it was enough to whet my appetite and plan for more in the nearest future.
CHAPTER ONE
London, 1815…

“Well, good night then, Lord Banbury.”
“Good night.”
Stephen St. John, Viscount Banbury, eventually to be Earl of Stafford if his recalcitrant, impossible father ever dropped dead, glared at the interloper who’d now been his wife for all of ten hours. The silence extended; the farewell grew awkward.
What repartee, precisely, was a man supposed to express at a time such as this? Sleep well? Pleasant dreams? See you in the morning? Or how about more aptly, What was I thinking, marrying a woman I don’t know? Have I gone mad?
Nothing seemed appropriate. Astoundingly, he blushed, his cheeks heating with an embarrassing dose of discomfort.
The wedding guests were gone, the house had been tidied by what was left of his domestic staff, and he’d been about to leave too, when he’d stumbled upon her floating down the stairs. She was scarcely dressed, clad in a diaphanous green negligee and robe that hardly covered anything that ought to be covered. Apparently, as she’d concluded that he was already off to his merrymaking, she’d believed herself to be alone in the massive, drafty domicile. Unable to sleep, she’d descended to fetch a relaxing refreshment.
Her hair was blond, the shade of ripened wheat. It was unbound and hanging down her back to brush her bottom, and he was gravely troubled by the display. She was much too forward and assured, prancing about in her nightwear before an unfamiliar man, yet she didn’t appear perturbed.
Yes, he was her husband, but nevertheless, they were strangers.
Even though he hadn’t meant to, he evaluated her graceful figure. He was only human! He couldn’t be expected to avoid looking at what was flaunted in plain sight.
She was much too shapely, and he squirmed uneasily and inspected the floor, only to be confronted by her feet.
Her toenails were painted red! The splash of bright crimson in the dull salon seemed immoderately sexy, out of place, incongruous and irreconcilable with the individual he pictured her to be.
Ordinarily, he was an urbane, sophisticated fellow, renowned and lauded for his aplomb, his polish and poise and, most particularly, for his way with the ladies. Yet with his new bride, he’d been transformed into a bungling, gauche oaf.
From the moment earlier in the day, when she’d waltzed into the parlor, promptly at eleven, he’d behaved like an ass. Throughout the abbreviated ceremony, then the afternoon of toasting and celebration, and the interminable meal that had wrapped up the festivities, he’d constantly tripped over himself, saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, and generally making a fool of himself.
She likely presumed that she’d wed a moronic buffoon.
He was dawdling in the doorway, acting like a simpleton, powerless to depart, but incapable of maintaining any sort of intelligent conversation. 
“Don’t let me keep you,” she obligingly said. Showing him her back, she strolled to the other side of the room, where surprisingly, she helped herself to a stout glass of brandy.
During the excessive, protracted gala, he’d covertly watched her. When his rowdy, wild friends had still been in attendance, she’d had naught to drink. While she’d ceaselessly had a beverage in her hand, he’d never seen her take so much as a sip. So why now?
He was used to consorting with a rather decadent type of lady, so he normally wouldn’t have heeded whether she’d imbibed or not. Usually, he paid no heed to what a female did or didn’t do. But it bothered him to discover that she was so nonplussed by events that she could blithely delight in a nightcap.
“Enjoy your…revelry,” she added. “I’m sure it will be mostentertaining.”
From the beginning, he’d recognized that she had a husky, come-hither voice. When she talked, she always sounded as though she were on the verge of mentioning an indecent proposition. Thus, it was difficult to focus on the content of her speech, because the words kept getting lost in the sensual timbre of any utterance.
Narrowing his gaze, he studied her rounded behind, trying to deduce if she was mocking him with her flip adieu. Was she jesting? Was she serious?
She had to be joking. She had to be!
Though she’d readily and freely yielded to his ultimatum that theirs would be a marriage of convenience, how could she blandly acquiesce to his rushing out to cavort with others on their wedding night? Had she no feelings in the matter? Was she genuinely unconcerned about where he went or what he did? What woman—what wife!—could be so tolerant, so unmoved? What kind of person was she?
There was the crux of his problem. He had no idea.

CHERYL HOLT is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author of over thirty-five novels.

She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age forty, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance where she was stunned to discover that she has a knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.

Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards. She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre. For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance” as well as “The International Queen of Villains.” She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.

She lives and writes in Hollywood, California, and she loves to hear from fans.

Follow Cheryl
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | @theCherylHolt

Suped Up Feature: Warrior’s Curse by Alexa Egan + Series 101 & Giveaway

Warrior’s Curse
Imnada Brotherhood 3
Alexa Egan
April 29, 2014
Pocket Books
Historical | Paranormal Romance
Major Gray de Coursy, Earl of Halvossa and exiled heir to the five clans of the Imnada shapechangers, must regain his throne in order to save his people from a deadly war with the Feybloods. First, however, he must break the curse he has lived under since the final chaos of Waterloo. Desperate, he resolves to steal the Imnada’s most sacred relic—the mysterious crystal of Jai Idrish—to help him. When he receives a visit from his childhood companion Meeryn Munro, Gray is surprised by her offer of help . . . and by how the girl of his memories has grown to become the woman of his dreams.
None of Meeryn’s powers as anointed keeper of Jai Idrish have prepared her for the threat of battle, but it’s the passion Gray arouses in her that she finds herself fighting. In a perilous quest spanning two realms, Gray and Meeryn must outwit and outrun a cunning enemy. And only the strength of the warrior, the magic of the priestess, and a love greater than death can reclaim a crown and win them a future together.
I’ve slowly but surely getting acquainted with Alexa Egan’s Imnada Brotherhood series. And though I still have a LOT of books to go through, I thought it would be nice to invite Alexa over and talk about the series with all of us. Hopefully some of you would pick this up and we can compare notes later on.


Hi Alexa, welcome to Talk Supe! Let’s talk about Imnada Brotherhood, what is it about?


Alexa Egan: The Imnada Brotherhood is a para-storical sword and sorcery swashbuckler set during the Regency period about a race of shapechangers who have lived secretly as human for thousands of years and would do anything to guard their secret from a dangerous outside world.

As a result of a savage massacre on the eve of Waterloo, four soldiers of the Imnada are cursed to live the hours of darkness trapped as their animal aspect. As they battle to break the curse, they must also struggle against ancient enemies and those among their own kind bent on their destruction. 



Para-storical! I like that, I’ll be using that moving forward, thanks! Now I know the series features shifters, what kinds of shifters are we looking at here and can you tell us a bit about your mythology?

Alexa Egan: This is a Regency setting where otherworldly creatures secretly exist side by side with humanity. The Fey-bloods are the most numerous and the most powerful, but hidden for thousands of years are the Imnada shapechangers who were almost wiped out in a war following the betrayal and murder of King Arthur. The five clans—panther, lynx, wolf, eagle, and seal—remain isolated from the outside world as much as possible, but this seclusion has come at a price and the Imnada are dying out. Now, they must risk coming out of hiding in order to save themselves from extinction, but in doing so they risk a renewal of old hostilities with their old enemies. 


I love the Fey/fae and when I found out that they’re part of the mix I got excited. It’s been a long time since I read historical romance and I’m not well versed with genres. What exactly is the regency era and why did you decide to set your series in this period?

Alexa Egan: The Regency Era technically dates from 1811 to 1820 (the years the Prince Regent ruled Britain in place of his father mad King George III), but generally is considered any time from about 1800 to roughly 1830. Think Jane Austen /Georgette Heyer/Julia Quinn. I’ve loved this time period since cracking open my first GH romance back in high school and its blend of elegance and adventure fit perfectly with the stories I wanted to tell.


Yeah, novels during that time are indeed brimming with hopeful romances! I’m not a history enthusiast but I’m sure you probably are. What kind of research did you do for Imnada Brotherhood? Any interesting tidbits you can share with us?

Alexa Egan: I’ve always been a bit of a history nerd. I love reading about kings and queens and battles and discoveries and can rattle off famous dates, which thoroughly annoys my children. My office is floor to ceiling bookshelves and probably two-thirds of that space is devoted to historical research; everything from military maps and travel guides to sources on food, architecture, fashion, and social mores.

For the fantasy elements, I pull from a lot of Celtic mythology and Arthurian legends and then toss in my own ideas around the edges. As I’ve worked, I’ve had to research some odd minutiae; the floor plan of the opera house at Covent Garden, dates of lunar eclipses, and the ferry schedules from the Scottish mainland to the Isle of Skye come to mind first. 



Arthurian Mythology is another favorite of mine, it’s very Greek in it’s tragic elements but very wondrous too with all the magic involved. And all I can say is WOW on your techincal researches. Even lunar eclipses? Whoa! So which book or novella was the most challenging to write and why?

Alexa Egan: I think the last novella was probably the most challenging because I had already completed the book that came after it chronologically, so I had to be very sure I didn’t screw up my timeline or my characters’ motivations, which had already been set. Plus, I had to tread a careful line between giving readers enough information so they understood what was happening and dumping them with so much backstory that the pacing slowed to a crawl. Fingers crossed…I succeeded.


That’s always a good sign, details are important because readers take note of that and we sure hate it when the “stars don’t align”. 

As you’re creatures are shifters, the term Alpha Male is surely applicable to them. We’ve read different versions of Alpha males, how does your Alpha males compare with the others? 

Alexa Egan: While I don’t set out to write a certain type of alpha male, I’ve noticed over the course of many stories that my heroes do bend in a similar direction. They all tend to be bruised and damaged souls who have to fight through a painful past to gain their happy ending. They’re not in-your-face chest beaters. I’ve tried to write those kind of leading men and failed dismally. Instead, the heroes I write are quietly competent, slow to anger but quick to fight when someone they love is threatened, grimly tough, and loyal to the end. People ask my husband all the time if I base my heroes on him. I would have to say yes, in part, since he possesses every single one of those characteristics. 


Awww that is so sweet! And yes, a male protective of his female is sexy, give that trait to a shapechanger and you’ll have double or even triple the urge to protect. I’ve read Victorian paranormal romances but I don’t think I’ve read regency. Which series can you compare Imnada Brotherhood with?

Alexa Egan: I don’t know if I can compare the Imnada Brotherhood to any other Regency paranormal series since there aren’t very many of them out there and their authors come at the genre from such different angles. But some other authors who have series set during this time period would be Colleen Gleason, Zoe Archer, and Kathryne Kennedy to name a few. If you’ve read and enjoyed Victorian paranormal romance, you’ll almost certainly like those set a few decades earlier. (nudge, nudge) 


That’s true… There’s a lot of books and novellas in the series so far, how many more stories are you planning to add?

Alexa Egan: There aren’t a set number of books planned. I’ve had so much fun writing in this world that I’d love to continue as long as readers want to read them. I’ve already started tossing around ideas for the next books. Can’t wait to dive in!


I’m sure followers of the series can’t wait too! In five words, why should we read Imnada Brotherhood?

Alexa Egan: Shapeshifters. Curses. Danger. Love. Happily-Ever-After.
Imnada Brotherhood Novellas & Books Reader Order

Alexa Egan lives in Maryland with a husband who’s waiting impatiently for her fame and fortune to support them in a new and lavish lifestyle, three children for whom she serves as chauffeur, cook, nurse, social secretary, banker, and maid (not necessarily in that order), one cat, one dog… and twenty-seven fish.

Follow Alexa

This is a US & Int’l Giveaway

US Winner: print copy of Warrior’s Cure
INT’L: Imnada Brotherhood Novella bundle

Good luck!

Liked It: Bound To Be A Groom by Megan Mulry

Series: Stand-alone

Format: eGalley
Release Date: April 14, 2014
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Historical Romance | Erotica

Sometimes our wildest dreams come true.

In the tumultuous summer of 1808, Spain and England are close to war and four young lovers are close to ecstasy.

To carve out an independent life with the woman she loves, Anna knows she must leave her quiet Spanish convent to become a courtesan. To gain experience, she sets her sights on.

Sebastian, whose powerful, aristocratic confidence suits Anna’s mercenary goals. But his arrogance masks a craving for submission that Anna instinctively satisfies. Sebastian soon begs for her hand in marriage, even if it means sharing her with.

Pia, who trusts Anna completely—with her body and her future—until she learns of Anna’s hasty marriage. Pia questions their commitment to each other as they leave for London to meet.

Farleigh, the seemingly feckless duke who thinks he’s over Sebastian, the potent Spanish soldier he bedded two years ago.

What begins as a series of erotic escapades soon evolves into a deep, unbreakable bond. Two men and two women who yearn to explore are about to make their wildest dreams come true.

Due to its strong sexual content, Bound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry is recommended for readers 18 and up.
I’ve read Megan Mulry’s contemporary romance series, Unruly Royals and loved it! And since I know I’ll be in good hands, I decided to try BOUND TO BE A GROOM. And this is scorching hot! It’s basically porn if you lived in the 1800’s, it’ll make every maiden blush with all the debauchery that went on in this stand-alone historical erotic novel set in Spain. Convent girls, rich nobles, lots of free time, consenting adults doing various versions of coupling it will challenge your imagination. 
The plot is shallow and the character development close to nil. I think what MMulry tried to do was give us a fantasy since people around this time are either sexually repressed or closet freaks and any sort of deviation from the norm is a bad thing. The theme is tolerance and acceptance regardless of your proclivities. That part I was able to appreciate and BOUND TO BE A GROOM gave me quite an entertaining fantasy. I’m not sure when BDSM was officially coined but in BOUND TO BE A GROOM, the characters are well acquainted with the practice albeit a little outmoded. On a side-note, MMulry didn’t go hard core in terms of creating scenes instead she used power play to imply that some of the relationships between the characters are similar to a D/s. 
BOUND TO BE A GROOM isn’t spectacular, the relationships are too fanciful to be realistic but it can be an entertaining read. MMulry is selling the idea of free love in a time where who you marry is determined by race, wealth, social standing and gender. On a side note, I think I will look for more historical erotica, I do enjoy the sexual tension in traditional historical romances and taking it to another level just makes it better. 

Loved It: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett

Series: Roaring Twenties 1
Format: Print ARC
Release Date: January 7, 2013
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Historical Romance
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo 

First in a new romance series: It’s the roaring twenties, and San Francisco is a hotbed of illegal boozing, raw lust, and black magic. The fog-covered Bay Area can be an intoxicating scene, particularly when you specialize in spirits…

Aida Palmer performs a spirit medium show onstage at Chinatown’s illustrious Gris-Gris speakeasy. However, her ability to summon (and expel) the dead is more than just an act.

Winter Magnusson is a notorious bootlegger who’s more comfortable with guns than ghosts—unfortunately for him, he’s the recent target of a malevolent hex that renders him a magnet for hauntings. After Aida’s supernatural assistance is enlisted to banish the ghosts, her spirit-chilled aura heats up as the charming bootlegger casts a different sort of spell on her…

On the hunt for the curseworker responsible for the hex, Aida and Winter become drunk on passion. And the closer they become, the more they realize they have ghosts of their own to exorcise.

BITTER SPIRITS by Jenn Bennett is gangsta!
This new series from the same lady who brought us the hit urban fantasy series, Arcadia Bell, churned a new historical paranormal romance series, Roaring Twenties. And I was sighing in delight because I love the notoriety of ’20’s America with gangsters, bootleggers, speakeasies, flappers and the world’s fascination with the occult and other mystical stuff. JBennett captured all of those in BITTER SPIRITS and added her own twist which made this such a fascinating page turner. 
In otherwordly talk, BITTER SPIRITS is a ghost story with a hint of Chinese superstition. Aida Palmer got hired by the dangerously sexy bootlegger, Winter Magnusson, to help him get rid of ghosts that are haunting him. Turns out Winter is cursed and with Aida’s help, they now investigate who’s behind the curse before too much damage is done. Their only clue lies on Chinese coins and buttons slipped on Winter’s person which the ghosts are attracted to. As the mystery unfold, we’ll meet more bootleggers, a necromancer, acupuncturist, a wizard and various ghosts from the past, both living and dead, that will make your hearts beat a little faster in excitement.
The world building isn’t too fantastical, JBennett didn’t create an alternative past where magical people populate the streets of San Francisco. It is more of an exaggeration of the occult which mesmerized a lot of people at this time. Seances were held at private homes, events held on different locations where mediums claim that they can talk to the dearly departed, temporary possessions and the like. Only this time, JBennett’s “mediums” are for real and these ghost apparitions are freakin’ creepy! There’s only two things that I won’t be able to handle: possessions and ghost haunting. And JBennett gave me the heebie jeebies, no doubt about it!
As for the romance and sexual tension, it’s roaring in more ways than one. There’s no insta love (thank goddess!) but there was certainly an attraction between the two. When Aida was sizing up Winter with her eyes for the first time, I was fanning myself with her observations because the man is drop dead gorgeous! Aida I like very much because she’s very independent and has much pride on who she is and what she does even if some people look down on her for being a medium. When she came head to head with Winter, I was applauding Aida in the background for standing her ground and staying firm to her principles [see screenshots below], exhibiting girl power to the nth degree. Winter I LOVED! He may be gangsta but this bootlegger is no Al Capone. He’s sweet, romantic, very protective and although he’s unquestionably an Alpha, he didn’t bully his way to Aida’s life. The seduction between these two is sweeping you’ll find it a challenge not to get invested in their romance.
BITTER SPIRITS is a strong and solid series beginner. The world building down to the setting and characters are romantic in every sense of the word and it really gave me a firm sense of the Twenties with or without its paranormal elements. JBennett captured the feel of that decade and I can’t wait to read the next one. And from the looks of it there’s a new couple in every installment and I have a feeling that the world of Roaring Twenties is going to expand and grow from here onwards which means more myths, more otherworldly and more adventures. So Supies, I recommend BITTER SPIRITS as your first book purchase of the year, it’s worth every penny.