Thursday, January 31, 2013

An e-book giveaway, one now, one later plus another contest


A few days ago, I did a post about Kendall Grey's newest release, Just Breathe at this link.  I am delighted to be able to share that I have an e-book of this delightful story available for a giveaway.  Please click on the previous link and make sure that you leave a comment answering my question along with your E-maill adress!

I am also thrilled to announce that I am participating in the Reading Romances blog hop celebrating St. Valentine.  I will have a copy of the e-book version of TJ Shaw's enjoyable fantasy title, Caller of Light and will be accepting entries Feb. 11-18, 2013, please make sure you return to my blog during that time if you would like an opportunity to enter the contest.

I am back to juggling a few things so don't have time to make my contest list posting but I just noticed that the delightful Randi Alexander has a contest on Goodreads for her newest Cowboy Jackpot:  Valentine's Day at this link.  It was a fun read and continues the story started in Cowboy Jackpot:  Christmas.   The drawing will be held on Feb. 9, 2013 so don't procrastinate.  I will post about the two stories in a few days but I enjoyed them both.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Snow Globe (and adventures with tea)

The Snow Globe is a short story by Donna Collins that is a sweet magical tale.  A Lord's daughter has followed her heart and married a blacksmith but her father is not content to merely disown her, instead he elects to wreak vengeance on the happy couple.  Their love will have to be strong enough to break the evil spell he arranges to have cast. This very quick read is a lovely fairy tale that reminds us of the importance of having faith in the one you love.  This title is available through Still Moments Publishing at this link.


Twining Teas offers free samples and I have had the opportunity to try a couple of flavors that I would never have tasted otherwise.  I generally drink decaffeinated tea with occasional forays into Earl Grey or chai so I was intrigued to try Lady Grey and I still need to try the sample of Almond Chai that I was sent.  I am amazed by the number of flavors that have exploded onto the scene and have tried quite a few new ones over the past few months (although I was disappointed to discover that the Sapphire one didn't turn the water blue when I tried the unused bag that I had kept from my introduction to it several months ago--yes, little things fascinate me).  I am still trying to decide what I think about the Chocolate Chai flavor.  It seems to me that chocolate should be rich and creamy (we make ours with hot milk rather than water) and tea is best with cream (or half-and-half) and honey.  I am still trying to decide if there were just too many flavors competing, I guess I will have to try it again.  Oh well, this is the perfect chilly weather to curl up with a hot drink and a good book...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Shattered Souls, Excerpt #3

Happy release day to Delilah Devlin for her delicious paranormal romance, Shattered Souls.  I have one more excerpt that she was kind enough to's a little spooky...for two other excerpts please see previous posts.

The print version seems to be on sale right now...snap it up if you are planning to buy it, I have no idea how long the sale will be going on!

Cait and Jason, her PI partner, are following a lead that takes them to a cemetery. Although Cait would like to turn her back on her heritage, and deny her inner witch, she finds herself pushed into a corner...


     Cait didn’t like graveyards. They were too damn noisy.
     The staticky hum began even before she’d parked the car inside Edgemont Cemetery’s gates. Spirits clamored, eager to connect. But her creaky “Spidey sense” tingled, telling her the ghosts of the departed weren’t the only phantoms there. From the moment she’d stepped out of the car, she’d felt an eerie, heavy presence.
      Maybe she was uneasy because the sky had darkened with heavy, gray clouds where moments ago there’d been wispy streaks of white sliding across a blue sky. She’d shrugged it off as coincidence, unwilling to give in to the urge to slide her hand into her pocket and clasp the familiar flannel bag she’d stuffed there before she’d left her apartment.
     Maybe it was the section of the cemetery she approached. Here the graves were older and many studded with ostentatious statues—lambs adorning children’s graves, their features blurred by erosion, and angels grown grubby with soot and dirt—hovering over sad little plots where rain and time had sunk the mounds. Water from the previous night’s storm settled in the hollows.
     The prickle of goose bumps lifted the fine hairs on her arms and the back of her neck. Electricity crackled in the air.
     And the whispers, usually so many that their individual messages were lost in the noise, coalesced into a single thrumming chant.
     Beware, beware, beware…
     Cait grew rigid, a heavy knot of dread settling in her belly. If she’d been alone, she might have heeded the warning.

     “Hey, I found them,” Jason called from a small, manicured square enclosed inside a wrought iron fence. “Constance, Hope, Charity, all sisters. Here’s mom,” he said, pausing in front of the grave marked with a modest headstone. “Margaret Worthen. Damn, they all died on the same day.” He turned to aim a questioning glance her way.
     Like she should know why they were here looking at the headstones of a family who’d died a century and a half ago? The list they’d found in the girl’s apartment had led them on this wild goose chase.
     Despite the ominous signs, she shrugged, pretending indifference. So far, she’d managed to keep Jason in the dark about the details of the woo-woo side of their investigation. How the hell would she ever make it sound anything but crazy? “Maybe our missing girl was researching someone’s family tree?”
     Jason grunted and knelt in front of the father’s more elaborate headstone. “Jonas Worthen. Same day. October 14, 1864. They had a family crest—a shield with a lion’s head and tree branches surrounding it. Guess it impressed someone if they put it on his headstone.”
     A tendril of ice-cold air teased along her cheek, and she recognized the chill for what it was. Then something moved at the corner of her eye.
     Expecting the caretaker who’d led them to the family plot and hovered nearby in case they needed further help, she turned, only to find a tall marble statue beside her—Blessed Mary dressed in robes, a finger lifted to her lips, which might have looked a little less sinister if her face weren’t blackened with grime.
     Cait grimaced, thinking she’d let her imagination get away from her because the place creeped her out, but she couldn’t drag her gaze away. Some inner instinct held her immobile.
     Jason leaned toward Jonas Worthen’s headstone. “There’s an inscription.”

“Ever near us though unseen,
Thy dear immortal spirit treads…”

     The statue shifted. Almost imperceptibly. Her head lowering toward Cait.
     Chest tight, Cait jumped back. “Jason, stop!” she tried to shout, but her throat constricted.

“For all the boundless universe
Is life—there is no death.”

     The chill wind stiffened, grasping like invisible fingers at her hair and clothes. “Jason,” she repeated faintly. How would she explain this?
     Frozen, she reached into her pocket and crushed the red flannel bag in her fingers, grateful as never before for her mother’s intervention.
     Jason straightened and stepped backward, but his foot fell into a deep puddle at the edge of the mother’s grave. Cursing, he tugged his boot, but the suctioning mud held it.
     The statue behind him was an angel whose even features slid into a narrow-eyed glare and whose lips pulled away from its teeth in a feral snarl. It reached out.
     Inside her head came voices shouting, Run…run…run…
     Advice she didn’t need. Her skin prickled into gooseflesh. Her heart skittered. “Hey!” Cait lurched forward and grabbed Jason’s arm. His foot slipped from the boot. He turned to retrieve it, but she shoved him forward. “Forget it—move!”
     The caretaker stood at the bottom of the hill, his dark face tightening, eyes widening as he stared at the statue Jason had yet to see.
     “Cait—my boot. What the hell’s gotten into you?”
     The temperature was dropping fast. Didn’t he feel it? “No time. Run!”
     She grabbed his hand and pulled him down the rise, falling in beside the caretaker, who didn’t need convincing.
     “Holy Mary, mother of God…” he whispered under his breath.
     “Consecrated ground,” she blurted, racing along, pulling still on Jason’s sleeve.
     “It’s all consecrated ground. It’s a damn cemetery,” Jason muttered. Then his jaw dropped. “What the fuck?”
     An angel with its serene face tilted toward the sky opened its eyes and peered down at them, the sockets hollow and black.
     Another waft of cold air buffeted Cait’s back. “A crypt!” she bit out. “We need something covered.”
     “Follow me,” the caretaker said, his burly body surprisingly nimble as he cut across a row of graves and headed to the east side of the graveyard.
     The cold tendrils grew stronger, clawing at their backs. The trio’s labored breaths puffed in frozen clouds.
     “Here,” whispered the caretaker, stopping at a stucco-and-concrete crypt and pulling out a ring of keys. His fingers shook as he flipped through them, found the one he needed, and unlocked the door.
     The three of them lunged inside and slammed the door behind them.
Cait set her back to the door, digging in her heels. The door shuddered against her.
     “What’s goin’ on, Cait?” Jason asked, his voice tightening, his gaze jumping from her to the worker.
     The caretaker’s dark face was ashen. “Some bad mojo goin’ on here.”
     “Did I mention that Henry’s killer isn’t human?” she said, her breaths ragged.
     “No, you didn’t,” Jason replied with a nasty snarl. “What is it with you? Can’t you trust anyone?”
     “I’m sorry, Jason. I never expected a freaking wraith to follow us here.”  The door continued to rattle, and Cait began to worry about the stained glass panels at the far side of the crypt. Although she’d given up on God a long time ago, she made the sign of the cross over her chest.
      “Why are you doing that?” Jason said, his expression growing pinched.  “This is hallowed ground, right? Aren’t we’re safe?”
     Cait grimaced while saying a silent prayer that was true. “Reflex. The bastards scare the bejesus out of me.”
     Jason gave her a grim smile. “Paddy O’Connell’s daughter to the end.”
     The caretaker lifted a shaky hand like a child requesting permission to speak.
     “What?” Cait bit out as the door rattled harder.
     “’Pears we’re safe in here, but how the heck to do we git out? We gonna die here?”
     She wouldn’t admit to the two men who were looking to her for all the answers that she hadn’t strategized beyond finding shelter.
      Cait slid down the door, letting the wind ravage outside unchecked. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the ratty, red flannel bag. For a long moment, she stared. Then, drawing her courage around her like a cloak, she crushed it in her fist.
     It was just fabric, filled with desiccated flowers soaked in dragon tree oil. Not a precious gift her mother had given her. She had to try something.
      Setting her face in harsh lines, she aimed a glare their way. “Either one of you have a lighter?”

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Dog in the Dark

The Dog in the Dark     
by Barb and J.C. Hendee is part of the second cycle of Noble Dead books that give a different perspective on vampires and elves.  This long-running series features a dhampir (half human, half vampire) named Magiere and her half-elf partner, Leesil.  I was originally fascinated by this duo which should have driven each other nuts but somehow found a way to complement each other's abilities and form a successful partnership, especially with their companion Chap...who looks like a large canid but of course is far more than that.  I really enjoyed most of the volumes of the original series and the authors kept developing new twists to the overall quest that formed the basis of the series and adding new characters.  I was happy with the final results because, as usual, I like my Happy Ever After endings (even if it takes quite a few volumes to reach it).

Unfortunately, just as with many other series that I initially liked, I think that a multitude of factors caused a resurrection of the characters (figuratively, not literally) and a second story arc was initiated but didn't include my favorites from the original story, instead focusing on secondary characters--most notably the young scholar named Wynn.  There's a creepy being named Chane who is drawn to her and she ends up with her own canid companion who is a mystical being just like Chap.  The books still demonstrate a wealth of creativity but I find them difficult to become immersed in and I was really annoyed by one particular volume which seemed to spend several hundred pages detailing a hide and seek throughout a building...maybe a monastery...and never really propelled the series forward.

I kept thinking that the action needed to focus on the original trio in order to recapture that fascinating spark.  Sadly, for me, that hasn't happened.  Despite the fact that forward progress is slowly taking place, much of this particular book involved flashbacks.  I understand that this is a storytelling technique and I have no problem with occasional expositions to catch me up on how a particular character has reached this point in his or her life BUT I don't like it when every single character has to experience this ponderous review.  So, despite the fact that the book is well written as usual and is filled with amazingly creative beings and circumstances...I didn't enjoy it as much as usual and I will have to think long and hard before requesting to review any subsequent titles in this series.   My
Amazon review is at this link

I welcome other opinions and would be curious to find out what other people think about either series.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Shattered Souls, second excerpt

More from Delilah Devlin's Shattered Souls      

For adults please.

In case you didn't notice yesterday's post, there is an introductory excerpt available there to whet your appetite.  Today's excerpt introduces the paranormal elements for the story.

Thanks again to Delilah Devlin for sharing this excerpt and blurb!  My Goodreads review is at this link.


From popular author Delilah Devlin comes the unforgettable heroine, Caitlyn O’Connell—a psychic ex-cop who’s hell-bent on redemption.

Caitlyn O’Connell had it all: a career with the Memphis PD, a passionate marriage, and the satisfaction that her work made a difference in the world. But she also had a secret, a supernatural “gift” that cost her everything. Now she scrapes by as a private investigator, taking cases the cops won’t touch and counting down the minutes until happy hour.
But when Sam Pierce, her former partner and estranged ex-husband, comes to her for help with a bizarre murder case, Cait can’t say no. And not just because Sam is still as irresistibly sexy as he was on the day they met. Something sinister—and demonic—is terrorizing Memphis, leaving a bloody trail of bodies and clues only Cait can read. Together she and Sam will venture into a dark world of magic and unholy terror, hunting a killer who will lead them to the brink of reality as they know it—and back into the thrall of their stormy past. Steamy and suspenseful, Shattered Souls is the pulse-quickening new offering from fan favorite romance author Delilah Devlin.

Detective Sam Pierce discovers Cait’s hidden past and learns in an incontrovertible way that there’s magic in the air...


     Sam set the mike back in its bracket in the dashboard of his car and turned to Cait. After a fifteen-minute drive, they’d parked outside a palm reader’s shop. The neon sign flashing above the door said “Psychic Inside.” He grimaced but was careful not to let Cait see. She was still grumbling over the fact he had become her shadow.
     Cait didn’t work well with partners. Not when it came to the woo-woo shit, anyway.
     She’d just have to tough the situation out because too much was riding on this for him, personally and professionally, to let her out of his sight. The moment he’d heard her voice when he’d played back the message on Henry’s voice mail his heart had stopped. More than just a detective’s need to follow a clue had him hotfooting it to her apartment to confront her. He’d been more frightened than he’d ever been in his life that she might have been caught up in the violence that occurred in that room.
     Not until he’d stood over her still form as she slept, breathed in the odor of stale booze, checked her clothing for blood, her knuckles and skin for signs of a struggle, did his anger surpass the fear that first gripped him. He hadn’t wanted her to be involved, not as a witness, victim, or a possible suspect, but he’d dragged her into the investigation anyway.
Intellectually, the action made sense. Emotionally, he knew he was treading along a dangerous path. The attraction was still as strong as ever…at least on his side.
     After he’d reassured himself she was safe, he’d hovered while she slept, drinking in the familiar landscape, pausing to stare at the slight curves of her breasts, the taut indentation of her narrow waist, and the fleshy swell of her lush hips—even though not touching just about killed him. Her legs, bared beneath the hem of her T-shirt, were still as trim, still as leanly muscled as he remembered. He could still feel their fierce grip, strong and feminine, around his waist.
     He’d been rough with her, but he’d handled her that way out of self-preservation.
     But shoving her under cold water had nearly done him in. Her nipples had spiked hard, the rust-colored areolae visible beneath the transparent material of her T-shirt. He’d been careful to keep his face free of expression. If she’d known how aroused he’d become, they might not have made it out the door.
     Sex had never been an issue between them. The slightest encouragement would have caused their surly passions to explode like an arsonist’s match to an accelerant.
Ruthlessly, Sam pushed away the memories. He got out of the car, turning away to adjust himself because his groin felt heavy and throbbed uncomfortably. Then he circled the car to her door. She faced straight ahead, and he wondered if she’d nodded off during the drive. He knocked on the glass. “Come on.”
     Her chest lifted and her cheeks billowed as she blew out a deep breath. But she opened the door and stepped out onto the curb. “Sure you don’t want to wait outside?”
     Not willing to repeat himself, Sam gave her a steady stare. He’d play the asshole for now and hope the anger he displayed would sink deep and kill his arousal.
     She sighed and trudged to the door of the shop. A bell tinkled as she pushed it open and entered the dim interior.
      The smell of incense and candles permeated the air. The shop was deep but narrow. Shelves of New Age and voodoo kitsch lined the walls to the left. To the right stood a long counter with more shelves filled with apothecary bottles and jewelry—amulets, beaded bracelets, silver-wrapped crystals—sitting alongside displays of colorful voodoo dolls. Behind the counter was a doorway covered by strands of purple beads. A hand parted the beads, and a woman stepped through.
     Sam nearly snorted. She was dressed in a caftan in an African print of red, gold, and black. Her long black hair hung in stiff curls past her shoulders. Large gold hoops dangled from her ears.
     She wore her age well, only a few deep wrinkles creasing the corners of her large brown eyes as she smiled at Cait and swept around the counter to embrace her. “’Bout time you come see me, little girl,” she said in a deep, musical voice.
     Her words were flavored with chicory and island patois. Sam guessed she’d followed the Mississippi northward from New Orleans.
     Cait accepted the embrace but was slower to lift her arms and return it. “Good to see you, Tante Celeste,” she said in that gruff tone that meant she was moved more than she cared to admit.
     Sam’s gaze sliced between both women. This was a long acquaintance. A nearly familial one. And his curiosity was piqued. Cait hadn’t shared a damn thing about her past other than infrequent mentions of her police officer father in all the time they’d spent together. Until this moment, he’d never met a single soul she’d known before she entered the force.
     Celeste’s brown gaze rose above Cait’s shoulder. “You brought a friend, ma petite?”
     Cait dropped her arms and moved back. “This is Sam,” she said, her green gaze sliding uneasily between Sam and Celeste. “He’s…working with me.”
     A dark eyebrow arched. “Heard you weren’t a cop no more. But you bring one to my door.”
     “Well, he’s still a cop. He asked for my help with something.”
     “Somethin’ that requires you seek me out?” Celeste clucked. “Must be somethin’ dark.”
     Sam watched the two women, but was especially fascinated with Cait’s expression. She looked uncertain, the pallor of her cheeks a stark contrast against her brilliant red hair. “I need to find Morin,” she said softly.
     Celeste’s eyes widened, but her mouth stretched into a catlike smile. “Funny you should mention him. He left somethin’ for you. Said you’d be comin’.”
     Left something?
     Cait’s chest rose. “I wasn’t sure he was still around these parts.”
     “Morin never left. He waits for you. But you know, he’s gonna want somethin’ in ’change for his help.”
     For a moment, Cait’s eyes closed.
     Sam stiffened, sensing there was something deeply disturbing about this Morin and wondering what exactly his relationship was to his ex-wife.
     Celeste walked around the counter and reached under the cash register. When she straightened, she held a small cloth bag tied with twine.
     Cait’s lips compressed into a thin line, but she held out her hand, fingers curling tightly around the bag. “Did he leave you…words?”
     “You don’t remember?”
     “It’s been forever since I last saw him. I wanted to forget.”
     “Ma chere, you must learn to forgive. Morin has always been here for you. Even after you abandoned him.”
     “He should have moved on,” Cait said, her voice stronger now.
     Sam narrowed his eyes, knowing he wasn’t going to like this Morin one damn bit.
     “I’m only going to him now because I need his help. Not because I missed his sorry ass.”
     Celeste’s curious stare flitted over to him. “Sam, are you sure you wanna meet Cait’s past?”
     “I’m just along for the ride,” he growled and held up his hands in a fending-off gesture. “This is work. Nothing personal.”
     Her deepening smile said she didn’t believe him. She lifted her chin to Cait. “Come see me. After. We’ll have much to talk about.”
     Cait leaned toward her without answering. The women embraced.
     When Cait turned, her eyebrows lowered into a fierce scowl as her gaze rested on him. “Outside.”
     Sam was only too happy to leave behind the murky interior of the shop. Bright, glaring sunlight burned away the creeping unease he’d felt inside.
     Cait halted in the middle of the sidewalk and then cast him a sideways glance. She ripped off the twine around the bag with her teeth and cupped it in her palm, raising it. “Get ready.”
     For what? he was about to ask but was caught by Cait’s expression, which softened, taut energy calming beneath the surface of her pale skin.
    Her eyes slid closed.

“Spirits who aided this seeker of past
Lead me to Morin by crows’ winged path.
If you should honor and grant my request—
I’ll follow your lead north, south, east, or west…”

     Cait’s green eyes shot open, and she flung the bag upward, the gritty contents spilling from the black bag. The dark powder and sprigs of crushed herbs flew upward, then hung suspended in the air for a long moment. A sudden gust of wind caught the powder, and it blew apart. Then the wind twisted and the sediments rolled together, forming a tiny black funnel that rose above their heads.
     Where the sky had been clear and blue a moment ago, thick dark clouds rolled in, too fast to be natural. City noise—the sound of traffic, horns honking, the slaps of footsteps—grew silent. People moving up and down the sidewalks slowed and then halted, frozen in place.
     “What the fuck—?” The hair on the back of Sam’s neck rose.
     Cait squatted suddenly, and Sam followed, not knowing what to expect, but the funnel tightened, thinned, then burst—exploding the black dust outward. He blinked, and in that moment, a murder of black crows rose swiftly above the street, turned inward to group into a noisy, frenetic swarm, and then flew away.
     Cait caught his arm and took off running behind the crows. “No time to explain,” she shouted over her shoulder. “Just follow the damn birds.”
     Sam stayed on her heels, trying not to think too hard about what he’d just seen—and not liking one little bit the sparkling excitement animating Cait’s beautiful face.

The Kindle version of this exciting read is on sale right now if you prefer e-books.  Clicking on a copy of the cover above will take you to the Amazon page (and I will get a small fee if you do purchase anything on the site after using that link)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Shattered Souls by Delilah Devlin

Shattered Souls   

by Delilah Devlin is a wonderful paranormal romance being released soon.  I am devouring it as this posts and my review will be up in a day or so.  I am delighted to learn that this will be part of a series since I am enjoying this one so much thus far.  I will have other excerpts on subsequent days and MAYBE I'll be able to coax the author out to make a comment or two so stay tuned....

The following is an excerpt that Ms Devlin very kindly shared with me:

This is the opening scene of the new paranormal suspense, Shattered Souls, the first in The Caitlyn O’Connell novels! 


Mama was making a spell again.
The little girl squirmed on her chair at the kitchen table and tried not to think about needing to pee. Mama wanted her to be quiet so she wouldn’t lose her train. Though what trains had to do with spells, the girl didn’t have a clue. Mama always said things that didn’t make sense. Must be because she was a jip-see. Daddy blamed all the strange things that happened in their house on account of her being jip-see.
Pink blossoms dropped into the heart-shaped flannel pouch, one by one.
Her mama’s eyebrows straightened, and her eyes got the faraway look. “One to silence darksome words. Let only gladsome thoughts be heard. Two to bring peace to this child’s mind—”
“That’s me, right, Mama?”
Dark brows wrinkled. “Yes, Caitydid, pay attention now. This is important.”
Another pretty pink blossom floated into the bag.
“Is it really from a dragon?” The little girl bit her lip because she’d done it again. Spoken when she was supposed to be dreaming about what it would be like if the spell worked.
Her mother plucked a blossom from the bowl in front of her. “The flower is a snapdragon, but only because it looks like a dragon’s head, sweetheart. See?” She held up another furled flower for the girl to study.
The little girl stared at the blossom, disappointment tugging her mouth downward. The curled bloom did indeed form a shape. But looking at the flower was a lot like lying in the grass with her mama watching the clouds float across the sky and trying to imagine animals and things when all she saw were white puffy clouds.
A flower was just a flower. How were pretty petals going to help her sleep?
“Now, are you done interrupting me?”
The little girl nodded, summoning a smile to please her mother. Then something shrieked behind her and she jumped. She clamped together her thighs and swung her feet, trying to ease the urgency. “Make them go away,” she wailed, slamming both hands over her ears—even though she knew that never worked.
Her mother’s sad, brown gaze settled on the girl for a long, unblinking moment. Then she pulled down the girl’s small hands and placed them in her lap. She leaned close, bracketing her cheeks between warm palms. “Don’t be afraid, baby. The bad voices will disappear. Only the good will remain.”
The little girl licked a tear from the side of her mouth. “But I want them all to go away, Mama.”
“Sweetheart, I can’t steal away a gift. I can only give you protection, for a time. Do you remember the words?”
The little girl nodded.
“Say them with me.” Mama’s warm hands fell away, and she dropped another blossom into the bag.
The little girl picked up the chant, closing her eyes and thinking as hard as she could about a time when she wouldn’t hear the eerie cries.

“One to silence darksome words.
Let only gladsome thoughts be heard.
Two to bring peace to this child’s mind,
Until her own strengths she doth find.
Three to banish Wraith’s cruel rage.
Spirits harmless by thy wisdom sage.
Four to balance and turn the Wheel.
Rightful Change shall soothe and heal.
I call to thee, O dragon bright.
Lend us now your ancient might—”

     Hands gripped Caitlyn O’Connell’s shoulders and shook her. “Get up, dammit.”
     The gruff voice was familiar. Felt right, hearing it in her bedroom—for all of two seconds. Then she pried open her eyes, wincing at the overhead light, and stared at Samuel Pierce.
      Same taut expression, same hard body. Brown hair cut short, freshly shaved, and not a crease in his pale dress shirt or dark trousers. A silk tie ringed his strong neck. Strong lines bracketed his mouth, the corners turned down.
      He didn’t seem particularly happy to be here. Which was sort of sad. Once upon a time, he’d sworn there was nowhere else he wanted to be more.
     “How’d you get in?” she muttered. Was he aware his thumbs caressed her shoulders? She glanced down, then back up again.
      Sam looked down at his hands, let go of her shoulders, and straightened. With his gaze still on hers, he raked a hand through his hair and sighed.
      Now all six feet two inches of his sturdy frame loomed, bristling with ill-concealed impatience.
     “Damn, Caitlyn, you still have a spare key on top of the door frame. I told you it wasn’t a good idea a long time ago. Anyone can let himself in.”
     “Only person ever used it was you,” she grumbled, rubbing a hand over her eyes. “What time’s it?”
    “Time to get your ass out of bed.”
    “I don’t work on your schedule anymore.” She glanced at the clock on her nightstand and pulled on a scowl that would have had a lesser man backing up. “It’s eight fucking o’clock. Whatever it is can wait.”
    “Sweetheart, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. Your choice.”
    “Always preferred it hard,” she purred, but the sound was a little too raspy for sexy.
    “Cut the crap, Cait.” His gaze lifted to the ceiling and his jaw tightened, a muscle flexing along the hard line. When his eyes locked on her again, for just a moment, something warm but haunted shone in the blue depths.
    She stared back, wishing he still loved her. But hey, wishes were like elbows—everybody had ’em. Cait hoped she hadn’t drooled, but knew she had bed-head, and dark mascara likely rimmed her lower lids. Just great. First time she’d seen Sam alone in months and he had the advantage.
     “How much did you have to drink last night?” he asked quietly.
     “What do you care?” she said thickly, hiding her face with her arm.       “Enough. Slept good.” A faint, staticky whisper sounded inside her head, and her hand shot out for the glass on her nightstand.
     The glass slid out of her fingers before she had a chance to grab tight.
     “No way, babe. I need you sober.”
     Now she was pissed. Her head began to pound. She came up on her elbows. “I’m not your partner anymore. Not a cop. And I don’t get out of bed before noon.”
     With a quick move, he peeled away the sheet covering her.
     “Agh.” She fell back to free an arm to stop him, not sure what he’d see, but hoping that at least her underwear was clean.
      But he was fast, and the room spun.
      She opened her mouth to deliver another complaint when she was yanked upright by a grip on her upper arm. “Sam, what the hell do you—”
      A grunt sounded as he pulled her over his shoulder and stomped toward the bathroom.
      Upside down, her stomach lurched. “Stop moving. I’m gonna throw up.”
      He came to a halt at her shower, rustled the curtain, and turned on the faucets. Then he dumped her on the tiled floor under a spray of cold water.
      The water made her jump. She sputtered, cursing, and pushed back her hair to scowl up at him. “Why are you doing this?”
      “Get washed up.” Sam’s lips twisted in disgust. “You’re coming downtown with me.”
      Sitting in the bottom of the stall, she firmed her lips, ready to tell him to go to hell.
      His stark, angry expression halted her.
      “I need you.”
      Just those three words were all it took. She sighed, put her face into the water, and let it sluice over her before gathering her armor around her and giving him a glare. “Do you mind?”
     A look came over his face, but before she had a chance to put a name to it, he turned away and stalked back to the bedroom. The sounds of drawers slamming told her he wasn’t letting her off.
     “What’s this about?” she shouted, beginning to shiver. With a jerk, she pulled her sodden T-shirt over her head and tossed it outside the stall. Her underwear followed, and she slid up the tiled wall to turn on the hot water.
     “Just hurry it up. I don’t have all day to wait on you to get your head straight.”
      Cait turned her face in to the spray again, closing her eyes as the water warmed, and she swayed. Her legs stiffened, catching her before she slid to the floor again. If she passed out now, he’d just shove her into her clothes wet.
      She’d seen him this mad a time or two. Quiet fury made his movements jerk. His face became a tight, scary mask. She loved that look…when it wasn’t directed at her.
      Must be something big for him to be in such a foul mood, but what did he want with her? The way he acted, she wondered why he hadn’t slapped on cuffs. He treated her the same way he did scumbag suspects.
     Still, he hadn’t Mirandized her. Maybe he just needed her expert opinion, which set her stomach roiling even more. The only area of police work where she’d had a specialized skill set was the “full moon” cases.
     Trying to remedy the dehydration that would keep her head muzzy for hours, she opened her mouth and drank down the warm water. She’d really needed that gulp of Scotch before she got out of bed, but she didn’t think he’d buy that she needed it to think.
      The curtain flew back. Sam reached in, turned off the faucets, and tossed her a towel, his frowning gaze sweeping her body only briefly. “Five minutes. Your clothes are on the bed. I’ll be in the car. Don’t make me come back in here.”
     She watched the stiff set of his shoulders and wondered if seeing her naked again after all this time had bothered him. Seeing him fully clothed set all her dormant hormones firing, even if they were swimming in alcohol.
     Cait sighed and blotted her body with the towel. If he’d been even the least bit nicer, she might have asked him to join her for old times’ sake. However, she guessed they both needed to hold on tight to their anger or they’d never get through the day.
     Anger was the deepest emotion either one of them could risk. Anything else would hurt too damn much.

Yum!....Pre-order your copy now.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Just Breathe and A GIVEAWAY!

Just Breathe                   by Kendall Grey.

The third volume in the 'Just Breathe' trilogy is being released.  The first two books in the series are Inhale and Exhale and are great paranormal reads.  My Amazon review for Inhale is at this link, for Exhale is at this link and for Just Breathe is at this link.  The Kindle version of Inhale is free at this time (no idea for how long so don't delay!).


I had the unprecedented opportunity to interact with Zoe Morgan (the heroine of the series) and took advantage of the chance to ask her the following:

What can those of us who don't have special powers do to help and what should we know about Cetaceans (especially in light of the publicity being given to that kid who was bitten a few weeks ago) that aren't common knowledge or are misconceptions?

Her answer:

There are tons of misconceptions out there. I'll toss out a few off the top of my head, and I'm sure Adriene will think of some more...

1. Whales are fish. Nope, they breathe air with lungs, give live birth, nurse their young, and even have hair. Not much, but a few hairs here and there. That makes a whale a MAMMAL.

2. The story of Jonah and the whale could really happen. It's not likely that a whale could swallow a person. A humpback whale's esophagus is about the diameter of a big grapefruit. A beach ball is bigger than a blue whale's throat. The only whale that might be able to swallow a human would be a sperm whale, and even that would be very tricky.

3. Whales aren't very smart. Au contraire. There's an entire Wikipedia article about cetacean intelligence here. I've seen many species of whales in action, and I can tell you without a doubt they're smarter than we give them credit for. If you haven't heard about the dolphin studies with mirrors, watch this. It will blow your mind. And if those articles don't convince you, watch this video that shows how whales and dolphins "play" together.

And a friend of Zoe's (Adriene) said this:
One of the things we can do to help whales... the best thing you can do is educate yourself. Support programs that teach kids (our future) about whales. Go out on a boat and see the whales for yourself.

If you're a seafood eater, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guides. These tools tell you which fish are best to eat based on fishing practices, level of contaminants, and other factors.

Thanks to both of you who took the time to answer my questions (see, I can talk to the voices in somebody else's head as well, lol).

Kendall Grey has already put her book profits to work educating children about whales.  Please check this link for the latest info about Kendall's contribution to Whale Camp!

Update 1/31/13:  I have been informed that I can offer an e-book of Just Breathe for giveaway!  I will pick a randomly chosen winner on Feb. 7, 2013 from those who leave a comment on this post .  Just tell me which sea creature you are most fond of and why.  Please remember to leave an e-mail address!  Thanks for playing.

For other blogs on the tour, please go to this link.  There were lots of great interactions with the various characters so make sure you visit several blogs.

And last, but not usual it is beyond my technical capabilities to figure out why I can't get the rafflecopter itself to work but there is a contest at this link. (I can't check it because I am not on Facebook so please let me know if it doesn't work for you!)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Caller of Light and roasting nuts

Caller of Light  

by TJ Shaw is an intriguing fantasy that introduces a society that has creatures known as Critons and reminded me of how much I fell in love with the dragons that populated Anne McCaffrey's tales.  The author did a lovely job of introducing a charismatic young woman who seeks to be loved by her family but somehow is shunted aside because of her half-breed status and resorts to keeping company with the formidable flying creatures who are used in defense of various kingdoms.  This is a more adult fantasy that still manages to instill in the reader that sense of awe and fascination for the idea of bonding with a semi-wild creature that can fight and fly but allows special people to ride him or her.  There are naturally some sections of the story that could use a little polishing but nothing major that detracts from the overall tale.  I like my heroines with a little more spunk than she displays initially but she acts in a manner consistent with her background and, although I would like to shake a little sense into her hard-headed lover, he does seem to wise up over time, thank goodness.  I think this is a great start to a series that has a lot of possibility and I look forward to reading about more adventures in this universe.  My Amazon review is at this link.  The author's website is at this link.


On a personal note....

One of the most thoughtful things that my best friend does for me is to find treats for me to consume.  The previous Christmas she reminded me of how much I love pineapple Jelly Bellies.  It is amazing how you can forget about things that you used to really love although it is just as well that I stopped eating the addictive things since they were doing strange things to my jaw, not to mention what all that sugar did to my teeth, lol.  This past Christmas she provided trail mix from Trader Joe's.  Naturally, mine had dried pineapple chunks in it (yum) but I have found that I no longer appreciate raw nuts so much so we picked out the fruit and roasted the nuts.  Delicious!

We tend to eat a lot of pecans (yes, warehouse stores are dangerous) but I freeze the package and take out a quantity for the week and roast them.  It is pretty simple, just spread them out on a baking sheet and place them in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Bake for about 4 minutes and then stir (I usually have a piece of foil on the baking sheet so I carefully lift diagonal corners and use that to shuffle the nuts around), salt if so desired and bake another 3-5 minutes.  You have to watch them because they can burn fairly quickly but I have found that sniffing for the nice nutty aroma or watching for a darkening of the nuts usually indicates when to remove them from the oven.  Allow them to cool and then they are great to nibble on as a snack, add to hot or cold cereal, or use in cookies.  Yum.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wait Until Dark

Wait Until Dark          
by M.L. Buchman is an exciting military romance in 'The Night Stalkers' series (not to be confused with the eerie television series) that introduces yet another kick-ass heroine who is part of the elite squadron of warriors who fly in a very specialized type of Black Hawk helicopter.  I may have mentioned before that I spoke with a military author at RWA who was offended since the unit described is entirely fictional...I don't see what the problem is since this is a fictional story, but that's me!  I love the fact that the women are equal to the men (if not better, lol) in these books yet the very real dangers that they all face are not discounted.  The remarkable feats of flying that are featured and the stoicism with which all of these soldiers face death add to the impact of these tales and the interesting interactions between the close-knit teams make these enthralling reads. 

My review is not live on Night Owl Reviews quite yet therefore I cannot post a link but my advice is, if you like military romance...pre-order this one!

The other fascinating tales in this series include The Night Is Mine (which introduces the unique Major Emily Beale) and I Own the Dawn (my review is at this link)


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Flesh Cartel (ADULTS ONLY title)

 ADULTS ONLY:  Please leave the page if you are not an adult reader

Warning:  These are extremely dark and horrific tales that are definitely not going to be acceptable to some readers.  Extreme sadism is pervasive throughout the work thus far.

“The Flesh Cartel #1:  Capture” by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau is the beginning of a very dark serial novel that follows two brothers, Mathias (Mat) and Douglas (Dougie) Carmichael who are kidnapped and sexually tortured for unknown reasons but end up in a mysterious processing center.  Each brother has different assets (physical versus intellectual) but their close bond with each other may be the only thing that gives them a reason to survive.

“The Flesh Cartel #2:  Auction”  continues the saga as the brothers have been partially broken down into merchandise existing to satiate the lusts of their captors while piquing the interests of those who traffic in sexual slavery.  The physical and psychological torture takes an even more intense turn as Dougie is forced to make a harsh decision that may destroy his bond with his brother forever.

“The Flesh Cartel #3:  Choices” definitely focuses on the power of choice, even when one is as powerless to defend oneself as each of the brothers is.  A trainer has purchased both but surprisingly is more interested in Mat even though Dougie was assessed as being the more valuable commodity by his captors.  Psychological abuse takes a primary role even though the physical torture continues to be a well-utilized tool.  The training begins to condition each brother for his ultimate fate.

This sobering tale of torture and abuse provides a frightening look at a dark underworld that caters to very twisted individuals.   The sadistic guards who delight in raping and torturing their new captives and the impassive processors who add to their misery provide a dark and disturbing start to the serial which only becomes more intense with each subsequent chapter.  The study of the levels of torture that it is possible to inflict and the differing reactions of the victims make this a compelling although uncomfortable read.  It is impossible to determine how these victims were chosen and the serial nature of this makes it a cliffhanger so one wonders how these poor guys can survive what they are going through.   It is difficult to decide what I think about this and the question is whether I can stomach reading more and whether there will be any redemption or a satisfying answer to the mystery although I can’t help but hope there will be eventually be some redemption.  One wonders how the human spirit can overcome such cruel abuses and those who are victims of abuse themselves will undoubtedly find that this is a tough read but hopefully there will be some salvation although it is difficult to conceive how sufficient restitution could ever be made for such heinous crimes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Upcoming reviews and reads that I am looking forward to!

I have the great fortune to be ALMOST overwhelmed by a significant number of wonderful reads to look forward to.  I am a little stymied by the fact that I have a few projects that I am juggling and have not been able to keep track of what is being released as closely as I should so I have neglected to post some of my reviews in a timely manner.  I am trying to work on lessons through an online class even as I have had the opportunity to do several interesting editing and proofreading jobs and have accrued quite a few titles that I have read and greatly enjoyed and now have to do the reviews!  I refused to make resolutions for New Year's but did promise myself that I would try to catch up on some of the books that I have been sent for reviews so I am slowly trying to integrate them into my pile but I am afraid that it may almost be an insurmountable task so I am just going to do what I can, a little at a time.  My thought on this is...what a delightful problem to have!


Recently reviewed:

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks  (fantasy, sequel to The Black Prism)
Heart of Danger by Lisa Marie Rice (romantic suspense with a paranormal twist), start of a new series
The Protector by N.L. Gassert (m/m, older/younger romantic suspense)


Reviews that are pending include:
Wait Until Dark by M.L. Buchman  (military romance)
Cat Bearing Gifts by Shirley Rousseau Murphy  (cozy mystery? with paranormal elements)
Caller of Light by T.J. Shaw  (fantasy)
Lady Eve's Indiscretion by Grace Burrowes (historical romance)
The Marine Next Door by Julie Miller  (Harlequin Intrigue)
A Lady's Pleasure by Robin Schone  (time travel romance)



Cold Days  by Jim Butcher  (fantasy)
The Dog in the Dark by Barb and J.C. Hendee  (fantasy)
Dream Unchained by Kate Douglas  (erotica)