Suped Feature: Friends to Lovers Trope feat. Bec McMaster, Susanna Ives, Kristen Callihan, and Sara Humphreys

Friends to lovers. Possibly one of the most favored and popular trope in romance novels. There’s just something so sexy and exciting about a relationship that starts with bickering, dangerous plotting, and hateful thoughts concerning the other party. It’s a different, and definitely a dysfunctional foreplay, that almost never fails. 

I love this trope! After all, the Bible says “Love thy enemy,” and if my nemesis is like these four hunky males, I wouldn’t mind turning the other cheek (and more) to them.

It’s a fine line between love and hate, and these heroes know that first hand! Here to tell us the signs that you may be falling from your enemy are Leo Barrons (Of Silk and Steam by Bec McMaster), Lord Randall (Wicked, My Love by Susanna Ives), Adam, King of the GIM (Soulbound by Kristen Callihan), and Killian Bane (Vampires Never Cry Wolf by Sara Humphreys). 


Leo Barrons, Of Silk and Steam:
  1. You find yourself looking forward to matching wits with her, even when she comes out the victor. 
  2. You make rash challenges, like promising to help her outrun assassins, in exchange for a single kiss… 
  3. You trust her with information that could ruin you, knowing it’s the only way to get past her quest for revenge against your family. 
*I do love the part where you tricked Mina in showing you her boobies*


Lord Randall, Wicked, My Love:

  1. You want to be with your enemy all the time, even if you’re just going to bicker and insult each other. 
  2. You get confused as to whether you’re fighting or flirting. 
  3. Things turn ugly and you turn to your enemy because you know she’s there, your enemy in thick and thin. 
*Tsk, hanging out to bicker? Sounds like foreplay to me*


Adam, King of the GIM Soulbound:

  1. Certainly you want to tup her. But when you imagine holding her after you tup? Trouble, my friends. Trouble. 
  2. Even when she annoys that bloody hell out of you, she’s the only person you want to be around. Irritating, that. 
  3. When it is foregone conclusion that you will lay down your life for her. 

*Oh yeah, I remember how you’d bait Eliza in the dungeons just so she’d stick around and talk to you*


Killian Bane, Vampires Never Cry Wolf:

  1. I couldn’t stay away from her. No matter what I did or what I said, I was drawn to Sadie and I kept going back to her damn club night after night. I couldn’t get enough of her and I never will. 
  2. I walked away from my duty as crown prince. No title and no amount of power could possibly replace having Sadie by my side. 
  3. I knew I was done for when I realized that I’d rather fight with Sadie than make love with anyone else. 

*Giving up your crown? Now THAT is a sacrifice!*


To hear more on how these hero tried (and failed) to resist their enemies check out their stories!

Leo Barrons: Of Silk and Steam by Bec McMaster
Lord Randall: WickedMy Love by Susanna Ives
Adam, King of the GIM: Soulbound by Kristen Callihan
Killian Bane: Vampires Never Cry Wolf by Sara Humphreys

This post is brought to us by the lovely people over at Sourcebooks

Suped Up: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

Series: The Others 3

Format: eGalley
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Roc
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Fantasy

The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep.

I’m going straight to the point because I’m doing this review via my phone sucks (hairy, sweaty, musky, donkey) balls.

I know you’ve been seeing reviews popping up for the latest The Others novel, so let me get out my bullets and ennumerate why VISION IN SILVER rocks!

  • RECAPS: It’s been some time sicne I’ve read the previous books, and thankfully Anne Bishop did mini recaps about past events here and there throughout the novel. Sure made it easier to flow with the events.
  • THE WORLD & MYTH: There’s no single label to classify the world that is The Others. Best thing I can come up with is it’s an alternative universe where humans share the world with otherworldly people. And both camps have been in a bloody tug of war over who should own and/or rule it. Currently they’re in a truce? Cease fire? Damn it! There’s a bit of peace but things are still tense, and Meg and a gaggle of cassandra sangres are the linchpin.

    As for the myth, it’s familiar but unique. ABishop put her own spin on things she basically created a whole new class of otherworldly beings! Genius!

  • THE OTHERS: I love my otherworldly creatures, them things that go bump in the night. But we’ve seen these “monsters” get romanticized. Turned adorable and fluffy. ABishop gave them back their edge while maintaining a certain level of cuteness.
  • IT’S AWKWARD!: Cuteness in the form of extreme awkwardness! The Others lack filters. Period. Maybe VISION IN SILVER wasn’t meant to be funny or even comedic, but I was LOL-ing throughout the novel thanks to The Others out of this world comments:

[on crying humans between Nathan and Simon]”No boogers.”
“Who doesn’t? What comes out of human noses is disgusting.”

“Do you think humans will ever realize breasts have no attraction to us once we’re weaned?” [Simon on racy novel cover arts]”

  • SIMON: In layman’s terms, he is the Alpha in this novel although this Wolfgard is more than what this label offers. I don’t see him as (my) book boyfriend material but he, and the rest of the -gards, are captivating. Loving Simon is like falling in love with a pansexual.
  • MEG: I envy Meg, I want to be her! She’s so sweet, innocent, and childlike. It’s refreshing to have a fantasy heroine that’s not badass and armed with the proverbial scythe, out to exact righteous vengeance.
  • CHASTITY: Yup, I know a lot of you love romance. Sorry to disappoint but The Others is devoid of it. It’s implied in Meg and Simon’s relationship, but whatever romantic feelings these two have for each other is glazed over. Instead of glorious love stories and smokin sexy times, friendship, loyalty, and familial love is the heart and soul of the series. I promise you, it’s very touching, you won’t even miss the angsty romance! Anyway I love this tidbit though, not every novel should be romance-heavy as it sometimes end up making a mess of things.

VISION IN SILVER: Love it! Read it! One of the best series out there.

Loved It: A Ghostly Undertaking by Tonya Kappes

Series: A Ghostly Southern Mystery 1

Format: eGalley
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

From USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes, comes a brand new hilarious and fun paranormal mystery series a bout Emma Lee Raines, a funeral home director who can suddenly see dead people!

Bopped on the head from a falling plastic Santa, local undertaker Emma Lee Raines is told she’s suffering from “funeral trauma.” It’s trauma all right, because the not so dearly departed keep talking to her. Take Ruthie Sue Payne–innkeeper, gossip queen, and arch-nemesis of Emma Lee’s granny-she’s adamant that she didn’t just fall down those stairs. She was pushed.

Ruthie has no idea who wanted her pushing up daisies. All s he knows is that she can’t cross over until the matter is laid to eternal rest. In the land of the living, Emma Lee’s high-school crush, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, isn’t ready to rule out foul play. Granny Raines, the widow of Ruthie’s ex-husband a nd co-owner of the Sleepy Hollow Inn, is the prime suspect. Now Emma Lee is stuck playing detective or risk being haunted forever.

A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING by Tonya Kappes was such a delightful cozy mystery. I love everything about it starting from the murder mystery, down to Emma Lee Raine’s personal life! The case that is Ruthie Sue Payne’s murder put Emma Lee in a tight spot. Not only is her grandmother one of the suspect in the case, her granny has been behaving oddly of late. Though Emma trusts her grandmother, she can’t help but think that Granny Raine’s knows more than she’s letting on. So for most of the novel, I was flip-flopping on Granny. One one hand, the snotty Southern Belle seems above murder. On the other hand, she hates Ruthie and it looks like she’s up to something that may benefit her immensely if Ruthie is out of the way. 
Here’s why I love this little gem:
  • Emma Lee’s weirdness. It’s a small town and a lot of the residents are skeptical about Emma Lee’s ability to see ghosts. So what does one do? Play it up and stay being weird! 
  • Speaking of Sleepy Hollow residents, they are funny and hella entertaining! It’s annoying in real life, but on paper, all the gossping, posturing, petty rivalries and what-not had me giggle snorting continuously through A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING
  • I love small-town cozy mysteries. It’s easy/hard to be a sleuth when your suspects are people you’ve known all your life. On the same token, it’s hard to keep secrets when the whole town is watching. 
  • The plot of A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING is simple with enough complications to make the novel engaging. TKappes kept the tone light for the most part. 
  • TKappes didn’t make a big deal out of Emma Lee’s ability. I thought she’s going to make things complicated by making a spectacle out of Emma Lee by making her a pariah of some sort because of her abilities. TKappes kept in on the DL, no dramatic revelations here as far as that is concerned. 
  • Instead, the emphasis on the drama revolved around Ruthie, Granny Raines, and the man they both shared. Darn it! I wish Earl Payne was still alive, I sure would’ve liked to see this old dude’s smooth mooves!
  • Romance was light and cute. Emma Lee and the Sherriff still has a long ways to go but I love a good courtship!
  • Lastly, I was awe struck when the identity of the killer was revealed. Like literally. Hilarious!
Watch out for:
  • Emma Lee needs to grow more as a character. She might be the heroine of the novel but she wasn’t the one steering the story, if you get my drift. I’m sure we’ll see more of this growth in the next novel now that she knows her gift is legit and she’s not crazy.

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Tonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with e motion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. More than anything, Tonya loves to connect with readers, and has a ‘street team’ of fans and followers on social media. Be sure to check out her Facebook, Twitter, blog and newsletter!

Stalk Tonya

Shelley Liked It: The Vault by Emily McKay

Series: The Farm 3
Format: Paperback | 400 pages
Released: December 2, 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Borrowed from the Library
Genre: YA | Dystopian

In a world where vampires rule and teenaged humans are quarantined as a food source, there is only one choice—resist or die. But fighting the vampires comes at a terrible cost to twin sisters Mel and Lily and their best friend Carter…

With Lily exposed to the vampire virus and lying in a coma, it’s up to Mel and Carter to search for the cure. Time is not on their side. With every passing heartbeat, Mel is becoming more and more purely vampire.

Desperate, Carter and Mel decide to split up. Carter will recruit human rebels from the Farm in San Angelo to infiltrate the guarded kingdom of the vampire Sabrina and steal the cure. Mel will go back to her mentor, her friend, her betrayer, Sebastian, who is the only one who can access an underground vault that may house the secret to the cure.

That is, if he’s still alive after she staked him to the ground. Now her worst enemy may be their best hope for curing Lily—and saving the human race.

3.5 Cauldrons
THE VAULT, according to author Emily McKay, is the final installment in The Farm trilogy. The Vault is one again told in 3 separate narratives; Sisters Mel and Lily Price, and Carter Olson. The story picks up right where The Lair left off. Mel and Carter face risky choices and decisions to save Lily, including going in separate directions to order to find a cure before they lose Lily completely to the Tick virus.
As a summary, thanks to the En371 virus being released in Texas, people turned into vampire-like mutants called Ticks and quickly decimated the Southwest, Midwest and later the entire country. But, to know what truly happened and why, you need to read these books in order as they were released. In order to save and protect the remaining young people who survived, Farms were built. This is where we were first introduced to Melanie and Lily and where Carter found them, and rescued them. This is where Lily protected her autistic sister by holing themselves up in a closet and trading for goods and services necessary to escape the Farm.
I will say that the main story line for THE VAULT is finding a cure for Lily, who has been infected with the Tick virus (read The Lair). The clock is quickly ticking down to when Lily will completely lose her humanity and become a blood thirsty monster. With Carter refusing to allow Lily to fall into darkness, he makes some bold choices, including seeking out a rival vampire named Sabrina, who may have access to the cure, and trusting someone who betrayed Lily. Meanwhile, Mel, who has been a vampire for 8 weeks, must once again face her mentor, savior, and the person she left staked to the ground, Sebastian. 
I would be a failure as a reviewer if I didn’t mention the relationships between not only Carter and Lily, but Mel and Sebastian as well. Each of these characters would do almost anything to save the person they love. Take Carter for example. Not only is he the leader of the rebellion against the vampires, but he is truly in love with Lily. So much so, that he put his life on the line time and time again searching a variety of Farms for her, rescuing her and Mel, and not losing hope of finding a cure.
Mel and Sebastian’s relationship runs both hot and cold but if you even think for a minute that either of them truly doesn’t care about the other, no matter what vile things Sebastian may have done in the past, then you are crazy. The really important part of this story is the reunion between sisters. How can they ever go back to what they once had with Lily’s choice of saving Mel by having Sebastian turn her? They’ve both faced and dealt with so much over the course of The Farm. Will their relationship ever heal, or will it linger for the rest of their lives?
You really can’t fault anyone’s choices in THE VAULT. Not Carters. Not Mel’s. Not even Lily’s. Even though Lily’s POV are few and far between, they were just enough to understand what was happening to her as she slowly loses herself. I hate when characters you like are introduced, and then suddenly, BOOM, they go missing. Where did they go? Are they alive or dead? What really happened to Mel and Lily’s mom and uncle who remain missing?
I’m not entirely satisfied with how The Farm Trilogy ended. There are a number of loose ends that haven’t been wrapped up, and I am not one who allows my imagination to figure out what happens next. Perhaps one day, McKay will revisit this series and explain how Mel, Carter, Lily, and Sebastian fared knowing that they weren’t out of the woods. Were they able to cure those already affected with the Tick virus? I need to know what happened to secondary characters that become a vital part of Carter’s rebellion and caught my attention, especially Joe and baby Josie, Dawn and Darren.
   
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Steampunk Sundays: Of Silk and Steam by Bec McMaster

Series: London Steampunk 5

Format: eGalley
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Adult Steampunk

Enemies. Allies. Lovers.

When her beloved father was assassinated, Lady Aramina swore revenge. The man responsible is well beyond her grasp, but his dangerously seductive heir, Leo Barrons, is fair game. When Mina obtains evidence proving that Leo is illegitimate, she has the means to destroy both the killer and his son, a man who troubles her heart and tempts her body.

A woman of mystery, Mina’s long driven Leo crazy with glimpses of a fiery passion that lurks beneath her icy veneer. He knows she’s hiding something, and he’s determined to unravel her layer by silken layer. He just doesn’t expect the beautiful liar to be the key to overthrowing the corrupt prince consort… or to saving his own carefully walled-off heart.

And so it has come full circle. What was started in Kiss of Steel has now been concluded in OF SILK AND STEAM, book 5 of Bec McMaster’s fiery and sexy series, London Steampunk. This latest installment is explosively action packed, filled to the brim with damaging secrets, devastating betrayals, tempered with love and loyalty. Should BMcMaster decide to end the series at this point, I wouldn’t have complaints because she gave full closure on every long standing conflict and wrapped-up every story thread, big and small.
OF SILK AND STEAM is predominantly a friends-to-lovers kind of story. For 5 books, we saw the rivalry and tension build and swell between Lady Aramina, Duchess of Casavian, and, Leo Barrons, the Duke of Caine’s heir. Their long standing feud started when Caine allegedly murdered Lady Aramina’s father. Undeterred, Leo Barrons relentlessly pursued Lady Aramina through high water and Hell (intentionally reversed) and said pursuit was fruitful because these two eventually had their HEA.
It’s a little challenging to characterize these two as characters, and as a couple. In so few words, Lady Aramina is fire and ice, haughty yet passionate, and very loyal. Leo Barrons is playful, arresting, principled, determined, and Aramina’s perfect match. As a couple? These two are dangerous. I’m barely skimming the surface because as I mentioned, it took 5 frickin’ books to get them (and us) here. And that’s partly why OF SILK AND STEAM has an epic feel to it, BMcMaster has been building up London Steampunk to this moment from all angles and the novel’s scope is all encompassing. Now all the previous books are tied together by OF SILK AND STEAM. All the previous characters made cameos not just BMcMaster wants to give us treat, but because they all play important roles in ousting the cruel tyrant that is the Prince Consort: Blade the Devil of Whitechapel and leader of the Nighthawks, Lena and her tinkering genius, Lynch and Rosaling’s humanist efforts, and even Lady Peregrine’s stealth and skill as a Nighthawk proved integral in winning their impromptu coup de

If you remove the romance and paranormal elements of OF SILK AND STEAM, you’ll end up with a civil war story of sorts. The vein of this novel lie on the conflict between classes, discrimination between humans and the paranormal citizens of London, political conlfict within the Echelon, and other odds and ends that makes up for this ticking bomb. Add a madman into the equation and a Queen who’s been manipulated and abused close to breaking, and you end up with a story akin to Tolstoy’s epic novels…. albeit fantastical and definitely fictional. But you get my drift, right?
The best part? OF SILK AND STEAM isn’t the last book of the series. It may close off this particular story arc but there’s more to come! I had the pleasure of interviewing the super cool Bec McMaster and here’s a snippet of it:

Braine: How many books are you still planning to write for London Steampunk?

Bec McMaster: [As mentioned], if I continue the series, I will have to start a new story arc. I have two arcs in mind, which excite me, so I’m dabbling with one of those ideas at the moment. I’ve basically plotted out six books, all featuring characters that have appeared in the previous series, though right now I’m playing with a couple of other worlds and stories to keep me fresh.

The rest of the interview will be published on Romance at Random on March 11, 2015. We talked about a lot of things, and not to toot my own horn, it’s a juicy one because Bec was so game and shared a lot of great things about this novel and the series. I hope you’ll catch it!

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged #139: John Green is a Pirate!

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

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


This week was both fun and challenging. First we were snowed, or rather, ICED in. Ours isn’t as bad as Boston’s, but the roads were icy and not all the streets are salted. So we stayed in and played outside instead. 
Also my desktop had hardware problems so blogging turned into an obstacle course for me. Thank gooodness for scheduled posts! Still there were posts where I have to make from mobile devices. I had to use 3 different ones to complete a post. It was EXHAUSTING so I apologize if I wasn’t able to visit YOUR blog this week.
Bagged

from publishers & authors

Big & Small
My kid follows the Green Brothers’ YouTube channels and I would watch it sometimes with him because they make geekdom hella cool! So I thought I’d share this video with you. I think you’ll find it interesting becauseJohn Green pirated a copy of his own book, Paper Towns. Find out why and do enjoy!

Last Week’s Reviews

It’s a new year and there’s a new linky for my humble weekly recap meme. Whether you’re a return participant or a new hopper, THANK YOU for joining, your participation is much appreciated. 
Also as this is a laid-back meme, please use your LABEL OR TAG LINKS and not your post links that way you don’t have to update your linky every week. 

Liked It: Broken Shadows by A.J. Larrieu

Series: The Shadowminds 3

Format: Mobi
Release Date: March 19, 2015
Publisher: Carina Press
Source: Author
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Everyone has a breaking point.

Mina Tanner was once a converter, a human with telekinetic and telepathic abilities. After a vicious mental assault by an evil shadowmind stripped her of her powers, she was forced to flee her home to escape her attacker. Now, she’s trying to start a new life in San Francisco, far away from any and all reminders of the gifts she grew up using.

But her precariously balanced “normal” life topples as her apartment and her job fall victim to a new luxury development. Jackson Herring, an old family friend and powerful converter, offers Mina his spare bedroom while she gets on her feet, and she agrees…reluctantly. Mina’s finding it difficult enough to adjust without a daily reminder of what she’s lost, especially when that reminder is six-foot-four, super-talented and gorgeous.

When a mugger attacks her and she somehow burns his hands, Mina realizes that despite everything she’s lost, she may have gained something far more powerful—and dangerous—than she ever imagined. And when the rest of the shadowmind community learns about it, Mina will find herself on the run once again.

I am loving the flow of The Shadowminds. The featured characters on each book have been previously introduced, so we’re already acquainted with their powers and issues. The couples have established connections previously either through childhood friendships, familial relationships, and the like, so there’s no insta-love. Just a slow developing romance which I prefer.
That said, I’ll jump to the romance and say that I like Mina and Jackson as a couple. Theirs wasn’t an instantaneous thing in that they took their time. I find Shadowmind relationships interesting because the level of intimacy is deeper. I mean how can you possibly play coy when the other person can read your mind? Tricky right? Trust me it’s awesome when they start consummating, it hits you in multiple levels.
BROKEN SHADOWS is more plot driven and the action is low key compared to the previous novels. On top of figuring out the future of their attraction, Mina’s living situation, and her new powers, there’s also this problem concerning Shadowminds. It was quite the guesswork and such an explosive adventure. 
Also BROKEN SHADOWS is set in San Francisco which excited me because I used to live there a few years ago. I wish the setting was more atmospheric like I want to feel I’m sin San Francisco, you know what I mean? Larrieu gave the previous novels a good feel of Louisiana and I’m slightly disappointed the backdrop felt too generic. 
Even if I have subjective quibbles about BROKEN SHADOWS, I do love the change of scenery. Mina, like Cass, is a great heroine. She carried the story well and though a formidable Shadowmind, she wasn’t brawny and brazen. She’s one of those reluctant heroines and I like thy vulnerability in her. Also A.J. confirmed that BROKEN SHADOWS is the first book and a spin-off of Shadowminds. It’s doesn’t say so yet in GR, and A.J. hasn’t come up with a new series title atm. 
A few months back I read a similar series penned by Maya Banks. Though I liked her psychic heroes, AJ Larrieu’s is better. The absence of insta-love combined with a mystery that wasn’t rushed makes a huge difference IMHO. So if you’re fond of this type of story, I encourage you to  give Shadowminds a go.

A.J. Larrieu grew up in small-town Louisiana, where she spent her summers working in her family’s bakery, exploring the swamps around her home and reading science fiction and fantasy novels under the covers. She attended Louisiana State University, where she majored in biochemistry and wrote bad poetry on the side. Despite pursuing a Ph.D. in biology, she couldn’t kick the writing habit, and by the time she graduated, she had an addiction to writing sexy urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Her first book, Twisted Miracles, was a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart® competition in 2012. The book kicks off her dark, romantic urban fantasy series, The Shadowminds, which follows a group of humans with unusual powers through New Orleans’ supernatural underworld. A.J. is currently a working biophysicist in San Francisco, where she lives with her family and too many books.

Stalk AJ

Boob Tube Binges: Snowed In

We’re snowed in, and with my desktop down, and Direct TV being intermittent, I only have Netflix and Redbox to provide an alternative to reading

THE PARADISE | 16 ep | 50 min/ep | Netflix
The gist is, a bright-eyed shopgirl, Denise, fell in love with the sexy department store owner and widower, Murray. Throw in ex girlfriends, a snotty heiress, colorful cast of characters whose side stories are just entertaining, and you have a delightful British period drama. 
Denise is such a fantastic lead! She’s ambitious but still on the naive side. Her creativity and passion is what gets her in trouble all the time. Some people see her as a threat, while others are down right jealous. What I love about her is her steadfast attitude and unconditional loyalty to her boss-turned-boyfriend, Murray. Not to mention her ideas really
Made The Paradise a LOT of money.
Murray is absolutely, positively, delectable! A widower who is just as ambitious as Denise, he changed the retail game when he built Paradise. This man set my knickers on fire! He was, at first, emotionally unavailable and haunted by the death of his first wife. But his walls eventually crumbled, thanks to Denise. There were a lot of things and people that came between them and boy did Murray fight for Denise! Oh lord it was swoontastic and über sexy! 
I love this series with its “office” politics, class issues, and other odds and ends. The only setback is its already cancelled and the ending is open ended.
STONEHEARST ASYLUM | 1hr 52min | Netflix
Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, Stonehearst Asylum is insane! At the heart of the story is Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale) who was committed because she has hysteria. Enter a young psychiatrist Dr. Edward Newman (Jim Sturgess) who became completely fascinated and invested in Eliza. Turns out they met previously and Newgate made it his mission to free her since. 

The theme and feel of this movie is dark. I love the setting and costume, not to mention the crazy twist they added to the tale. This dark romance has an HEA, but it’s one of those mind-fuck endings that you may or may not find disturbing. Me? I LOVED IT!
BELLE | 1hr 45min | Redbox & HBO
I’ve been wanting to watch Belle since I featured it in one of my BB&B’s a while back. And my gut was right on the money because this movie was marvelous! 
Based on a true story, Belle is a story about a mulatto girl who’s skin color and heritage dictated her place in society. Belle aka Dido, was deemed above servants but below her white relatives and counterparts. The dinner rituals alone is proof of her ambiguous place in English society.
This movie had me gritting my teeth thanks to the bigotry; giddy thanks to Dido’s love life; invested because of the race issue; and empowered because of Dido’s courage to be part of a change. It’s sad that such prejudice still exists today which makes this “historical” movie still relevant today.
Belle is one powerful story that is very relatable until today. The focal point isn’t just about race issues, but the value of life itself. Don’t be mistaken by the girly poster, this movie is NOT a chick-flick. It’s a human interest movie filled with political, societal issued with generous helpings of familial and romantic love. Must watch!!

Suped Up: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Series: Alpha & Omega 4
Format: eGalley
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Ace
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy

BLURB:
For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way…

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

QUOTABLE QUOTE:
Life is hard; dying is easier and kinder.

Eeeeee!!! I don’t know if it was wise for me to have read DEAD HEAT by Patricia Briggs mid-week because I think it ruined me. Like, currently I’m reading something I think is cool (weird AF), but it’s very different from this so I don’t know if DEAD HEAT set the bar or I have a bad case of book hangover. I hope it’s my current read that’s the problem because I’m going to be seriously effed up if every book I read this week is “wrong”. 
DEAD HEAT is so great I’m still a mess! First of all, I’m truly, madly, in love with this world that PBriggs created. Most of us are romance whores and love to read a good romp, I was initially frustrated over how wholesome Mercedes Thompson is, but as I read more of the books, which eventually led me to Alpha & Omega, I realized and saw how powerful the emotional connection is between the featured couples, to the extent that adding a sex scene would muddy the romance. Although I wouldn’t mind a triple-X scene featuring Bran Cornick…
So, Anna and Charles. These two epitomize the title of their series. The perfect example of what an Alpha and Omega is, and this unique symbiosis left me with swoony butterflies with a big slice of Moss Green Envy. Anna and Charles complement each other like nobody’s business. Where Charles can be so tightlipped, uptight, and über serious, Anna is playful, slightly snarky, and sunny. However, don’t make the mistake of flirting with her mate though, Anna will cut you to pretty ribbons. If you’re planning to read this book, you’ll get it when they meet with Ms. Newman. 
Now for the core of DEAD HEAT: kids and the fae. I love a good murder mystery, and when you add kids to the equation, it instantly gets creepy and dark. I mean, what kind of evil preys on kids, right? Add the fae to the equation and you know it’ll be a fuckity-fuck-fuck story. Per usual, you won’t find spoilers here, but expect some super messed up shit. PBriggs took her time in connecting the dots, I gave up trying to solve the puzzle before the quarter mark. Yes, that soon because shiznit went down that early into the story. I’m telling you, this installment is PACKED, it’ll be a shame if you miss this.
There’s one itty bitty thing I wasn’t a big fan of though. I got bored with all the horse talk but I’m giving PBriggs a pass. She loves horses and she wrote another fantastic book so she can go wax poetic over her beloved equines. And as if the human-animal-beast love fest wasn’t enough, she also dared to insert this super touching story of friendship between Charles and his human bestfriend/horse whisperer, Joseph, which left me sobbing at 98%!!! Who does that?! 
To finish off, DEAD HEAT is obviously a superlative read. Expect a lot of mad gushing in the coming weeks and believe everything we say. We’re not exaggerrating, this is not out of loyalty to PBriggs and the series, DEAD HEAT is just freakishly good, it’s one of those books you don’t want to wait too long to read.

Shelley Liked It: The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

Series: The V Trilogy 2
Published by: BenBella Books
Released: January 20, 2015
Format: E-Book, 320 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genre: YA | Paranormal Romance

Life and death, light and dark, spirit and flesh-on Wormwood Island, the lines are always blurred. For Anne Merchant, who has been thrust back into this eerily secretive world, crossing the line seems inevitable, inescapable, destined. Now, as Ben finds himself battling for the Big V and Teddy reveals the celestial plan in which Anne is entwined, Anne must choose: embrace her darkly powerful connection to a woman known as Lilith and, in doing so, save the boy she loves…or follow a safer path that is sure to lead to Ben’s destruction at the hands of dark leaders. Hoping the ends will justify the means, Anne starts down the slippery slope into the underworld, intent on exploring the dark to find the light. But as the lure of Lilith proves powerfully strong, will Anne save others-only to lose herself?

3.5 cauldrons



The V Trilogy by Joanna Wiebe is told in the first person narrative by 16-year old Anne Merchant. Merchant, who has spent the past 2 years in a coma, is sent to Wormwood Island, Maine to attend an exclusive preparatory school (Cania Christy) for the world’s wealthiest teens. Cania Christy is a bit on the unusual side compared to other schools. Here, teens are required to compete for Valedictorian (the Big V) of their graduating class while having a creepy Guardian following them around grading their every movement. To win the coveted Valedictorian spot, which guarantees the winner a way off the island, each student must use various means like Seduction, Backstabbing, and Inquisitiveness to get ahead. Only one person can win.
THE WICKED AWAKENING picks up right where The Unseemly Education left off. Anne, even though she found a way to defeat her archnemesis Villicus and escape, is forced to return to the Island by her Guardian, Teddy. Anne finds that things have changed while she was gone. The Headmaster has been replaced with Dia Voletto (who takes a keen interest in Anne). His minions, The Seven Shining Sisters (Deadly sins), have taken up teaching positions at the school. Ben and Anne’s fathers have both been disciplined for their kids actions, with Anne’s father now working for the school.
Anne gets a rude awakening to the fact that there are those who consider her to be a murderer, and ends up with a unwanted roommate. Ben’s punishment means that he is now enrolled in Cania, and he has to participate in the Big V competition with less than a year to prepare and his ex as his Guardian. Anne’s goal is to do whatever it takes to ensure that Ben survives and wins the competition. Even if it means her heart breaks, or her feelings are hurt. She also must find a way to deal with some really big secrets, revelations about her heritage that will change the way you look and feel about Anne, and the surprising return of her friend Molly Watso.
There is so much to say about this book, that I worry I might let the cat out of the bag if I go too deep into the story. I’ll say that Anne’s choices, decisions, and actions are drastic in nature, and I think it will surprise you how the story turns out. For a brief time in this story, Ben and Anne’s romance is one again adorable, and you start to hope that they find a way to eventually win against horrible odds. Then the odds are never in their favor.

THE WICKED AWAKENING ends on a painful cliffhanger, but I’m certainly not going to stop reading this series before Wiebe has a chance to wrap up things up. There are so many questions as to what we can expect next. Will Anne finally accept her choices? Will she remain true to herself, or face the darkside with a gleam in her eye? In the end, I would say Awakening is better than Education because Anne faces all sorts of challenges, and unearths interesting facts about herself, and really puts her own future on the line for those she cares about.

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