Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Here's hoping you do all of the fun things you like for Halloween...I will be enjoying the bite-sized candies and keeping them all to myself, lol.

I am not terribly fond of horror stories and lots of gore and I have never been terribly enamored of zombie stories but I have to admit that I enjoyed Rachel Caine's Terminated.  My review will be at the end of this post but first I wanted to mention some other titles for those of you who like your stories a bit creepy and bloody...

Elf Ahearn (no relation, lol) has a creepy gothic tale, Lord Monroe's Dark Tower.  My Goodreads review is at this link.


Bobbi Romans' Table for Three, Hold the Blood is an ADULT title (at least, judging by the cover).  She also has a couple of fun paranormal titles in her 'Swamp Magic' series, Swamp Magic and Under the Full Moon


I had the privilege of editing a couple of titles that gave me the chills (but I warn you that I am a wimp anyway)...please be advised that these are also ADULT titles.

W. Lynn Chantale's A Perfect Getaway



Randy D. Rubin's The Witch of Dreadmere Forest

I had the opportunity to read and review Rachel Caine's Terminated for Night Owl Reviews recently.  I am behind on her other series (I love the Morganville Vampires as well as the Weather Warden series although that one I am REALLY behind on)


My review:
4.5 out of 5 stars

Terminated by Rachel Caine is the exciting conclusion to the ‘Revivalist’ series by Rachel Caine. Bryn Davis was the recipient of something called Returne which has given her life but recent horrific experiences have resulted in her getting an upgrade which her allies would not be particularly pleased to hear about, especially if she shares the disturbing side effects. Patrick McCallister, her lover, had his own relationship-shattering secrets that significantly altered the dynamics of the struggle being waged against those who are trying to create a race of super-beings. The odds seem insurmountable but nobody is ready to give up the fight left. The question becomes, who will survive long enough to be victorious?

This dark urban fantasy has chilling implications about the terrible results possible when the idealism of scientific progress becomes warped by the pragmatism of those whose only goal is to be a victor. I am not a big fan of zombie stories but I have to confess that this particular tale reminds me of why I am a fan of this author. I normally read a couple of her other series with enthusiasm and already know how deftly she creates personable characters caught in untenable situations that they always somehow cope with, albeit in unusual ways, but I confess that this series had not come to my notice. Despite the fact that I have not read the prior novels, enough backstory was provided to not only familiarize me with the chain of events that lead to this exciting conclusion but also to whet my appetite enough that I want to read the other novels in the series to get a more complete picture. I can’t say that I am looking forward to the blood and violence but I am intrigued by the almost super-hero flavor inherent in having characters who are extremely hard to destroy, despite very creative attempts. Be warned, this is not a story for the faint of heart but it definitely provides a roller-coaster adventure of a read.

Oh, and I wanted to mention a couple of things I have found in my wanderings:

I found another contest with a Kindle Fire giveaway
to promote Laurence O'Bryan's book, The Manhattan Puzzle

and Sabrina York has a giveaway on Goodreads for her ADULT title, Tristan's Temptation at this link.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Christmas Town (spotlight, excerpt and GIVEAWAY!)


The Christmas Town, by Elyse Douglas, is a new time travel, mystery, romance novel that was released on October 11, 2013.

Blurb:  While traveling home for Christmas, Jackie and Megan, two young women in their 20s, encounter a huge snowstorm. After crossing a covered bridge, they suddenly find themselves stuck in the past in a small picturesque Vermont town in 1943. While struggling to return to their time, they fall in love with two handsome soldiers. As Christmas approaches, Megan and Jackie are torn between their new lovers and their desire to return to their time. At the last moment, they must make the difficult decision and, because it is Christmas, a miracle happens.

The Christmas Town is a thrilling adventurous novel interspersed with humor and romance. It's a great read any time of the year, but it's an especially cozy read during the winter months around Christmas.

      They crept along, eye-weary, back-weary and bone-weary.  They’d been driving for over an hour and they had not seen another car, road sign, house or town. 
     “Okay, I’m freakin’ out,” Megan said.  “I mean, if we don’t see some sign of life in the next few minutes, I am going to freak out!”
     “Let’s try to stay calm.”
     “I wonder if this is instant karma,” Jackie said, her shoulders stooped, eyes darting about nervously.
     “What do you mean?”
     “I mean, how we got this car.  I know you lied to that man back there. I know it. Your mother doesn’t need medication, and now we are being punished.”
     “Don’t blame me,” Megan said.  “If it hadn’t been for me, we wouldn’t have gotten the car in the first place.”
     “And I wouldn’t be out in the middle of freakin’ nowhere!”
     “Look, don’t start something you can’t finish,” Megan said.
     “I just can’t believe you lied to him.”
     “Stop it!  Okay?  Maybe I feel bad about it.”
     Jackie was sweating.  “I doubt it, and that was a nasty thing to do.  I mean that was just wrong.  He was so nice to you and you just lied to him.  And, it’s Christmas.”
     “I said, stop it!” Megan said.
     “I thought there was something funny about the way you acted when he shook your hand,” Jackie said.
     “Jackie, that’s enough.  Just let it go!  While we’re arguing we could be passing a house or motel.  I don’t see anything but this blinding snow.”
     The wind howled like a wild animal, and snow blew across the road, piling into drifts against the base of trees.
     “How far have we gone so far?” Megan asked.
     “I don’t know.  Maybe 40 or 50 miles.”
     Megan blew out an audible sigh.  “I feel like I’m in a snow globe and some crazy kid just keeps shaking it.”
     “Dramatic,” Jackie said.
     “Scared,” Megan shot back.
      Megan thought she saw a sign ahead, caked in snow and leaning precariously to the right, as if a burst of wind would blow it down.
     “Jackie, stop!  Look.  I think there’s a sign over there.  See it?”
     Jackie slowed, saw the sign and stopped. “God, I hope it tells us where we are.”
     Megan struggled into her coat and gloves and pulled on her hat.  She shoved the door open, braced against the wind, and got out.  Snow lashed at her face and she turned away, protecting her face with her hand.  She trudged through nearly a foot of snow until she reached the sign, illuminated by the car beams.  With her right hand, she brushed snow from the sign, little by little, until she was able to read
HOLLY and then GROVE 1 MILE.  A little black arrow pointed right.  Megan looked right, shading her eyes, and peered into the distance.  She saw something.  She saw the shadow of a covered bridge, looming out in the blur of snow.  That must be it.  The town was across the bridge.  Energized, she whirled, stomped back to the car and got in.
      She was breathing rapidly.  “It’s wild out there,” she said, shivering.  “There’s a bridge just ahead.  Holly Grove is about a mile away.”
      “Sounds quaint,” Jackie said.  “I hope they have a motel and an all-night restaurant.”
     Jackie drove toward the bridge, the narrow road to the bridge looking dark and foreboding.
     “Wait a minute, Jackie.”
Jackie paused before making the turn.  “What’s the matter?” she asked.
    “I don’t know.  I just hate to leave the main road.”
     “Megan, across that bridge is a town.  We have passed absolutely nothing on this ‘so-called’ main road.  Please, let’s just get across the bridge and spend the night in Holly Grove.”
      Megan nodded, still reluctant.
     Jackie made the turn.  But at the threshold of the bridge, Megan called out again.
     Jackie hit the brakes again, irritated.  “Megan, what?”
     Megan stared at the bridge.  It wasn’t a large bridge, probably no more than 90 feet across a rocky stream, but something gnawed away at her, some ineffable feeling of danger that she couldn’t put her finger on.
     “Megan?” Jackie said, seeing a far-away look in Megan’s eyes.  “What are we waiting for?”
     “Okay, okay...It’s just that...”
     “Forget it.”
     Jackie nudged the car forward and it rattled across the bridge.  The two girls held their breath in the cave-like interior, darkness swallowing them, the wind screaming through the cracks all around them. 
    When they finally exited on the other side, they released trapped air from their lungs. 
    “Wow, that gave me the creeps,” Megan said.
      Jackie looked about uneasily.  “What a freaky night this is.”
     They passed through a gray and white shroud of blowing snow.   Suddenly, as if a curtain were being drawn from both sides of a stage, a gust of wind passed over the car and blew the snow away. 
Jackie stopped the car.  The girls looked at each other, then blinked around in astonished wonder. 
      “What happened?” Megan asked.
      Jackie was speechless.
     There was snow on the ground, but only two or three inches.  There was no sound of wind, no blowing snow, just a few gentle flurries.  The whispering sound of the windshield wipers was loud in the sudden silence and Jackie switched them off.  They sat there, staring.  Jackie rolled down the window and felt a cool, intoxicating breeze on her face.  She looked up into the sky and saw a few stars and a ghostly near-full moon swimming over the top of a distant shadowy mountain.
     Megan opened the door and stepped out, without hat or gloves.  She turned in a circle, smelling fresh pine, hearing the splashing stream they’d just crossed.  It was quiet, a deep satisfying quiet that relaxed her.  She took an easy breath and smiled.
     “Jackie... it’s beautiful,” she said, as she held out her hand to catch a few random snowflakes.
     Jackie stepped out.  It was still cold, but not a punishing cold.  There was a softness in the air.  Megan looked at Jackie, her brows raised in query.  She shrugged.  Jackie shrugged.  It was as though they were suddenly watching the world at a slower movie projector speed.

     Jackie saw a glow, just ahead, advancing toward them.  She pointed, excited. “Megan, look!  A light or something, up ahead.”
     Megan turned.  “Yes!  What is it?”
     Through the smoky cloud of fog, two glowing headlights slowly approached.
     “It’s a car!  Megan, it’s a car.  Let’s wave it down.  Hurry!”
      Framed in the headlights, the girls walked to the front of the car, and waved, using both arms.  The car began to slow to a stop. 
     Megan gave Jackie the thumbs up.  Jackie stayed back, but Megan moved toward the stopped car as the driver’s window rolled half way down.  Megan drew up along side and looked in to see an elderly man, with wary, watery eyes peering up at her.
     White vapor puffed from her mouth as she spoke.  “Hi there.  Thank God you came by.  We’re lost and we haven’t seen anything or anybody for miles.”
     The man didn’t blink.  He just stared.  He stared at Megan.  He stared at Jackie.  He stared at their car.
     Megan noticed his car.  It was old—a very old black car—dusted with snow.  She noticed the running board and heavy fenders.  It looked like something out of the Bonnie and Clyde movie her father repeatedly watched. 
     Megan was actually looking at a 1934 Ford Tudor Sedan, two-door body.
     “Can you help us?” Megan asked.
     “Well, what do you want me to do?” he barked.
     “We were trying to get to Portland and we must have missed the turn-off somewhere back.”
     “I’ll say you did.  You’re a good 30 miles away from it.  You’re going in the wrong direction.”
     “We haven’t seen a motel or anything.  Is there somewhere we can spend the night?”
     He kept looking at her strangely, then he stared at Jackie again, and then at their car.  “What is that?”
     Megan followed his eyes. “What?  Our car?”
     “Yeah.  What is that?”
     “It’s our car.”
     He shook his head.  “Dang, I ain’t never seen a car like that before.  What is it?”
     “It’s a Ford.  A Ford Fusion Hybrid.”
     “A what!?” he asked, pinching up his face and cupping his ear with his hand.  “What did you say it was?”
     “It’s a Ford.  Can you please tell me where the nearest town or motel is?”
     He couldn’t pull his eyes from the car.  “Ain’t never seen anything like that.”
     “Sir, please!  We are very tired and very hungry.”
     He looked at her again and jerked a thumb behind him.  “Holly Grove is about a mile up the road.”
     He rolled up his window, threw the car in gear and plodded off.  Jackie waved.  As he passed the Ford Fusion, his eyes bulged wildly, face blank with shock.  He pressed down on the accelerator, hurrying off into the night.
     Megan strolled back to Jackie.
     “What did he say?” Jackie asked.
     “Well, I guess he’s never seen a hybrid before.”
     They got back into the car and continued on into the uncertain night, straining every muscle to see the town.   Moments later, they came to some railroad tracks, bumped across them and saw a white sign with black letters that read:

     “That’s what I call a small town,” Megan said. 
      “What time is it?” Jackie asked.
      Megan checked her phone.  It was still dead.  She looked at her watch.  “Nine forty.”
     They crested a little hill and entered the quiet town along Main Street.  The first thing they saw was a billboard sign.  It loomed large over a low dark warehouse.  There was a large picture of a white pack of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum over a bright green mint leaf.  The advertisement read:
     Jackie said, “What’s that all about?”
    They passed 19th century brick storefronts, a post office, a pawn shop and a barber shop, with a Christmas wreath hanging inside its window.  All the signs were turned off.  They saw Dandy’s Market and Dot’s CafĂ©.  Plastered on the red brick face of Dandy’s Market were soda signs: Coca-Cola, Orange Crush and Royal Crown Cola.  They also noticed a large poster with the photograph of a cute boy about 5 years old, with ruffled brown hair and a pleading, sorrowful expression.  He wore a white shirt, and had a little blue ribbon and medal around his neck.  He was holding a toy car.  Below the photo it read:

                     ALL OF US SHOULD GIVE WAR BONDS

     That struck the girls as odd, but their attention was drawn to the deserted streets.  The town must have shut down for the night, they thought.  What struck them as particularly strange were the cars parked at an angle by the curb.  They were all old, as old as the one that had stopped back up the road, and they looked bulky, blocky and heavy. 
     “I’ve seen cars like this in those silent movies.  Those Charlie Chaplin movies,” Megan said.
     “Those two pickup trucks are definitely vintage.  This town must be poor,” Jackie said.
     Jackie and Megan were processing this as they drove by the town square, with its tall stately Christmas tree, elaborate manger scene, and old redbrick courthouse with a white-faced Roman numeral clock tower. 
     At the Gulf gas station, Jackie slowed down as they took in the two obelisk-type antique looking pumps.  They saw a sign that said
GAS 14 CENTS A GALLON.  Next to that was another sign written by hand.  NO GAS
     The pump on the left had rolling type numbers, and the one on the right had a clock face, showing a dial-type gas meter. 
     Megan read a stand-alone sign near the entrance.


     Jackie’s face fell into perplexity. “What’s going on here?  A gallon of gas for 14 cents?”
     “The whole town looks like some kind of old movie or something,” Megan said.  “And there’s nobody around.  This place is giving me the creeps.”
     “We’ve got to find a place to stay,” Jackie said.  “I am absolutely exhausted.”
     “I’m so hungry,” Megan said, hearing her stomach growl.  “I’d love a Katz’s Corned Beef sandwich.”
     “Oh, God, they are so good, aren’t they?  How much are those now?”
     “It’s worth it.”
     They saw Green’s Drugstore and John’s General Store, with a 6-foot Christmas tree outside.  Just then, a young man about 15 or 16 stepped out of Green’s Drugstore, carrying several little brown bags.  When he saw them, he froze in utter shock, his eyes bulging, mouth open.  He actually did a double-take.
     Jackie stopped, and Megan rolled down her window and waved at him.
    “Hello there,” Megan said.
     The boy was rigid.  Then he trembled.
     “Is there a hotel or motel or Bed & Breakfast nearby?” Megan asked.
     The boy swallowed, whipped his head about, as if calculating the best route for escape, and then bolted away right.  He found a narrow alley, skidded on his heels, and disappeared.
     Megan turned in a slow confusion, facing Jackie.  Jackie lifted a puzzled eyebrow.  “What was that all about?”
     Megan lowered the sun visor and examined herself in the little mirror. “I know I’m tired, but do I look that bad?”
      Jackie massaged her temples. “This has been the strangest trip I have ever taken.  Let’s just try to find someplace to eat and sleep and forget this crazy little excursion ever happened.”
     They drove on toward the outskirts of town, passing
THE GROVE movie theatre.  The movie marquis displayed  GIRL CRAZY, starring  Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
     “I saw that on TCM a few months ago,” Megan said.
     Jackie stared, darkly.  “There is something going on, Megan.  Something... weird.”
     After the movie theatre, they spotted The Grove Hotel, but it was closed.  Fighting fatigue and despair, they turned off Main Street onto Maple Street, a quiet tree-lined street with neat framed houses, and the occasional vintage automobile parked in the driveway or along the deserted street.
     “I just can’t get over all these old cars,” Megan said.  “They look like something out of those old gangster movies.”
     “Will you stop it with the old cars, Megan?  Please?  Find us someplace to stay.  If our stupid phones worked, we could have found something by now.  What the hell is the matter with this place?  I am going to go out of my mind if we don’t find some place to stay, and soon.”
     “Okay, okay, calm down.  Let’s stay positive,” Megan said.
     “To hell with positive!” Jackie shouted.  “I need something to eat, and something to eat now!  I am going to lose it!”
     “Do you want me to drive?”
     “No!  I do not want you to drive.  I want you to find us a place to eat.”
     Megan spotted something.  “Jackie!  Stop.  Look over there.”
Jackie slammed on the brakes and they rocked forward, Megan’s hands braced against the dashboard.
     Jackie followed Megan’s pointing finger to a modest two-story house, with a white fence surrounding a little yard.  Above the porch, hanging by two thin chains, was a sign that said BOARDING HOUSE.  It was swinging easily in the modest breeze.
     “The sign on the porch says boarding house,” Megan said, excited.
    Jackie crouched and looked. “Are there any lights on?”
    “I don’t care.  Let’s try it.”
    Jackie parked at the curb, killed the engine, and the two girls snatched their coats and got out.  Jackie led the way, with energy and purpose.  She crossed the sidewalk, released the latch on the white gate and marched up the walkway, mounting the three concrete stairs to the door, where a Christmas wreath was hanging from inside.  Megan arrived, and both shaded their eyes, peering inside through the square glass that was covered by a white laced curtain.
     “I see a light on in a back room,” Jackie said.
Megan noticed something hanging in the picture window.  She stepped over to examine it.  It was a blue star on a small red cloth banner.  She shrugged and joined Jackie.
    Jackie gently pressed the doorbell.  They heard a soft DING DONG.  They waited, anxiously, taking in the silent neighborhood.     There were no lights on anywhere and it was very dark.
     “No action in this town,” Megan said.  “It reminds me of a town in Indiana where I did summer stock a few years ago.  Two months there seemed like two years.”
     The front room light flickered on, not the porch light.  The girls inhaled hopeful breaths.  They saw an elderly woman draw back the lace curtain and peek out.  The girls gave her their friendliest smiles.
     A moment later, the door opened, but only a couple of inches. 
     “Hello,” Jackie said, brightly.  “Can you help us?”
     The door opened a little wider.  She was a small, thin woman and a bit stooped.  Her white hair was up in a bun and she wore a long gray nightgown.  Peering out from the granny spectacles on the end of her nose, she looked at them slowly and carefully. “What do you want?”
     “Please...”  Jackie said.  “We have been traveling for hours and hours and we are so tired and hungry.  Do you have room for us?”
     The woman hesitated, then opened the door fully.  Her eyes widened as she studied them, up and down.  “It’s late.  Why are you out so late?”
     “We got lost.  We were trying to get to Portland.”
     “Portland?  That’s hours away.  You would have run out of gas.  There’s no gas anywhere.  Did you get it on the black market?  I don’t take people who cheat.  I’ve got a grandson fighting in Italy.”
Megan and Jackie exchanged mystified glances.  Both were thinking, “Is this woman nuts?”
      Then Megan recalled how she’d lied about her mother and the medication so she could get the car.  She had cheated.  Megan gave Jackie a coy glance.
      Jackie said, “No ma’am, we don’t cheat.  We just want a room.  Please.”
     “I only have one, with one double bed.  The other two rooms are occupied with regulars.”
     “That’s fine,” Jackie said.  “One room is fine.”
     The woman was conflicted.  “This is very unusual.  I only take in people I know or who are referred to me.  How many nights are you wanting to stay?”
     “Just tonight,” Megan said, twisting her cold hands.  “Please.  We are so tired.”
     The woman stepped aside, let them in and then closed the door.
“My name is Aunt Betty.  May I know your names?”
     “I’m Jackie Young and this is Megan...” Jackie looked at Megan, forgetting her last name.
     “Jennings.  Megan Jennings.”
     “Well, that’ll be a dollar each for the night and 35 cents each for breakfast.  If you want something to eat tonight that’ll cost you 50 cents.  I was going off to bed, but I’ll put something out for you.”
     Megan stared into Jackie’s uncertain eyes. 
     “You mean one single dollar each?” Jackie asked.
     “That’s a fair price,” Aunt Betty said, a little defensively.
     “Oh, yes, that’s very fair,” Megan said, quickly.  “That’s fine, Aunt Betty.  And we’d love something to eat.  We don’t want to put you out.  Anything that’s easy.”
     “You get your things then and I’ll take out some cold chicken, apple pie and bread.  I hope that’ll do.”
     The girls smiled, gratefully.  “That sounds wonderful,” Jackie said.
     After Aunt Betty padded off toward the kitchen, the girls took in the surroundings. 
     The living room seemed from another world.  It was a simple square room, with a mantel, hearth and several seascapes set in gilded frames. The mantel held a manger scene, some holly surrounding it, and a white candle in the center.  Next to that were simply framed black and white photos of what must have been family.  There was a meager 3-foot Christmas tree, garlanded, with ornaments but no Christmas lights.
     The room was clean enough, but both women noticed that the white paint had yellowed and the rose wallpaper was faded, with some damp spots.  They saw floral Victorian antique lamps with opaque glass stems, hand-painted with roses or white and yellow flowers. 
     They stood on a thin, patterned floral carpet and first heard, and then saw, an old grandfather’s clock standing resolutely in the corner.  Its tick tock was steady and loud in the muted silence.  A solid wood console radio, with a lighted dial, seemed to dominate the room, much as a TV would, but neither Jackie nor Megan saw a TV.
   The furniture was simple and heavy, the couch and chair upholstered in solid fabrics, the couch looking worn but comfortable, and the broad arm chair sunken and looking dejected.
Jackie sensed something was wrong, but she was too hungry and tired to care.  Megan glanced about, feeling strangely out of place and time.  There was a quality of light and energy around them that neither had ever experienced before, and it was unsettling.  There was a growing, uncomfortable sensation that they had become lost—very lost.

The Christmas Town is available in both paperback ($8.79) and kindle ($4.99) on Amazon:
The Christmas Town (Volume 1) (Amazon link, print)
The Christmas Town (Amazon e-book link)

Author(s) bio:

Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the husband and wife writing team of Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse began writing poems and short stories at an early age, and graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s Degree in English Literature. Douglas grew up in a family of musicians, astrologers and avid readers. Some of Elyse Douglas’ novels include: “The Astrologer’s Daughter,” “Wanting Rita,” “The Christmas Diary” and “The Christmas Town.” They currently reside in New York City.





I am happy to be able to provide a Kindle copy of this title to one person who comments about their favorite tradition at Christmas and leaves a valid e-mail address.  Winner will be chosen after November 9, 2013 using

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Billionaire's Matchmaker Anthology, Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway!


The Billionaire's Matchmaker Anthology by Shirley Jump, Susan Meier, Jackie Braun and Barbara Wallace is a Contemporary Romance

I am delighted to have an Interview with Jackie Braun, one of the talented authors who contributed to this anthology

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?  

Never give up. Very few writers sell their first book or sell it to the first place they submit it or become a best-selling author overnight. In this business, if you have talent, persistence pays off. Also, don’t keep revising those first three chapters. Write the whole book and then go back to polish it. Too many writers get stuck “perfecting” the first few chapters and never go on to finish the book. Finally, develop a thick skin so that you can take criticism without letting it cripple you either emotionally or creatively. You will be criticized and it won’t always be constructive.

What comes first, the plot or characters?  

Usually the characters come first when I start working on a book. They “speak” to me.  Once I get to know them, I decide what their story will be. I’m a very organic writer. I hate having to flesh out a synopsis for an editor, because I generally don’t know exactly what will happen in my book and I don’t want to know. It ruins the writing for me. Half of the fun is when my characters take me on a journey I wasn’t anticipating. That’s not to say I don’t write a synopsis. I do. I just don’t tend to follow it.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.  

I was lucky enough to work with three good writing friends--Shirley Jump, Susan Meier and Barbara Wallace--to develop the concept that become The Billionaire’s Matchmaker and then make our four stories mesh into one cohesive book. My heroine, Mia, has major trust issues after being taken away from her drug-addicted parents and growing up in foster care, but sometimes in life the only way to get what you want is to take a leap of faith.  I loved watching Mia develop and grow enough to take that leap.  As an aside, while writing my story, I wound up adopting a dog from a local shelter. I consider Charlie, the “matchmaker” in the book, responsible for my family’s “match” with a puppy mill survivor we named Pip.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I love gardening. I have some lovely flowerbeds in my yard, if I do say so myself. (Gee, the heroine in my book has a green thumb, too. Go figure!) Also, I like to walk, especially on a nearby nature trail with my little dog. Finally, my husband and I have two sons, ages 8 and 13, so they keep me pretty busy too. 

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? 

I have written 33 books and novellas over the past 13 years. Each has a special place in my heart because of where I was in my life when I wrote it. This book was special because I got to work with Shirley, Susan and Barbara. Writing is a pretty solitary profession, so it was fun to brainstorm and chat with other writers during the process.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research? I don’t know that it’s weird necessarily, but I took a watercolor class offered through community education because one of my characters was an artist. (It turns out I can write about an artist, but I am not artistic in the least. LOL)

What are your favorite TV shows? I am totally hooked on NCIS. I love Gibbs and Tony and I am in mourning that Ziva is leaving the show.

What makes you happy? My family, first and foremost. They are my rock.

Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received. A woman in the UK wrote one time to tell me that she was a full-time caregiver to her bedridden husband and so she really appreciated the escape my book provided. I still feel humbled by that.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying? Life expands in proportion to your courage.  --Anais Nin. That was my mantra while my husband and I were in the process of adopting our younger son. Will was nearly three years old and had cleft lip and palate, and some other (so-called) special needs. Even though we received some medical information on him, a lot was unknown, and, frankly, scary. That was in 2007. Today, he is happy, healthy and thriving. And our lives have been enriched beyond measure. 

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be? I would be able to read minds so that I could tell what my moody 13-year-old son is thinking. On second thought, maybe it’s just as well I don’t know. LOL

Favorite color? Blue. All shades of it. Which is why my office has beige walls and all of the accents are in varying hues of green. Hmm. What’s up with that?

Favorite non-alcoholic drink. Diet Coke, preferably from a soda fountain and poured over a lot of ice. It tastes better that way than it does from a can or bottle. Mmm. Mouth watering just thinking about it.


Can a feisty four-legged matchmaker help four best friends find the romance of their dreams?

When a handsome man from Gabby’s past agrees to a cross-country road trip, her master plan to re-launch her art career quickly morphs into an unexpected, romantic reunion.

Marney’s 9-1-1 emergency help arrives in the form of a rugged, blue-eyed cop. Now she has the perfect bodyguard to keep her safe during those dark, steamy nights…

The last thing Mia wants is a relationship…yet the headstrong florist can’t keep her hands off her sexy-as-sin ex-boyfriend.  Will she open her heart before he leaves town for good?

Jenny is a woman on a mission – she’ll even resort to dognapping to make her point! But can she teach a reclusive, emotionally-wounded tycoon that love heals all things?


Love Unleashed by Jackie Braun in The Billionaire’s Matchmaker anthology

Marney leaned down and patted Charlie’s head. “Bye, boy. Don’t let her do anything I wouldn’t do.” He let out a soft yip, almost as if he understood.

Mia, however, wasn’t sure she did. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing. Be good.” Marney pointed a finger at the dog. “Charlie’s going to be on his best behavior for me. Aren’t you?” Mia said.

Was it her imagination or did the little dog wink?

“You just keep telling yourself that. Well, I’d love to stay and chat, but I have to run.” Marney was halfway out the open front door when she called over her shoulder, “Oh, by the way, Charlie has a checkup with the vet at five-thirty today. Don’t be late.”

The door closed on Mia’s shocked expression. By the time she made it to the porch, Marney was already in her car driving away. Tires actually squealed. Mia scowled. The only veterinarian in Chandler’s Cove was Gideon Roth, hence Marney’s speedy getaway.

Gideon was a prime specimen of a man with a muscular build, thick sandy hair, rich brown eyes that could undress a woman with a glance, and a mouth that could turn her most wanton fantasies into reality. Mia knew all of this firsthand.

Gideon Roth was her ex-boyfriend.

She’d broken up with him six months earlier. Marney and Gabby, as well as Jenny Travolini—the other woman who formed their close quartet of friends—had been surprised. And no wonder. Gideon was a prize. Not only gorgeous and gainfully employed, but smart, funny, and abundantly decent.

Mia’s reason for dumping him? He’d said, “I love you.”

Three little words that most women longed to hear. Not Mia. Especially when Gid had gotten down on one knee on Christmas Day and backed them up with a diamond engagement ring large enough to have its own ZIP code.

Panic had bubbled up, burning her like lava. God help her, for one foolish moment, hope had as well—a geyser’s worth of it had shot up and then rained down on the old, painful memories. But
nothing could wash away the past, which was why Mia had come to her senses.

Why did Gid have to go and ruin a really good thing with a declaration of love and a proposal of marriage?

Mia trusted neither.

The Billionaire's Matchmaker (Amazon link)


About the authors:

About Shirley Jump

The Billionaire’s Matchmaker:  Driving Mr. Wrong Home

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance and women’s fiction to feed her shoe addiction and avoid cleaning the toilets. She cleverly finds writing time by feeding her kids junk food, allowing them to dress in the clothes they find on the floor and encouraging the dogs to double as vacuum cleaners. Look for her Sweet and Savory Romance series, including the USA Today bestselling book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, on Amazon and Nook, and the debut of her Sweetheart Club series for Berkley, starting with THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN in September 2013.

Visit her website at or read recipes and life adventures at


About Jackie Braun

The Billionaire’s Matchmaker: Love Unleashed
Jackie Braun is the author of more than 30 contemporary romance novels.  She is a three-time RITA Award finalist, a four-time National Readers’ Choice Award finalist and was nominated for Series Storyteller of the Year by RT Book Club in 2008. She lives in Michigan with her husband, their two sons and a former shelter dog named Pip.


Blogging 2 Tuesdays each month on The Chocolate Box:

About Susan Meier

The Billionaire’s Matchmaker:  The Sheriff's Secret

In 2013 Susan Meier lived one of her career-long dreams. Her book, THE TYCOON’S SECRET DAUGHTER was a finalist for RWA’s highest honor, the Rita! The same year NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE’S TWINS was a Book Buyer’s Best Award finalist and National Reader’s Choice finalist.  (congrats Susan!)

Susan is the author of over 50 books for Harlequin and Silhouette, Entangled Indulgence and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS.

One of eleven kids, Susan never lacks for entertainment or amusement from her over thirty nieces and nephews. Her family’s Wednesday Morning Breakfasts are the highlight of her summer. And with lots of her nieces and nephews now in their twenties, wedding season is in full swing!

Susan lives in west central Pennsylvania with her husband, son and two crazy cats.

Connect with Susan at


About Barbara Wallace

Barbara Wallace has been a life-long romantic and daydreamer so it’s not surprising she decided to become a writer at age eight.  However, it wasn’t until a co-worker handed her a romance novel that she knew where her stories belonged.  Her first Harlequin Romance debuted in November 2010.

Barbara loves writing sweet, smart, ‘it-could-happen-to-you’ style romances.  She lives in Massachusetts with her other loves – her husband, their teenage son, and three very spoiled pets (as if there could be any other kind).  She also loves hearing from readers. 

You can find her at her website, on Twitter and on Facebook.


The authors will award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  (Please remember to leave a valid e-mail address).

Please visit other stops on the tour for more entries.

October 28: My Written Romance
October 29: Reading In Twilight
October 30: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
October 30: Ever After Romance Book Blog
October 31: Musings and Ramblings
November 1: Enjoying the Unique Flavors of Life
November 4: INTERVIEW with Barbara Wallace: Long and Short Reviews
November 4: Simply Ali
November 5: fundinmental
November 6: Reviews by Crystal
November 7: Aly's Miscellany
November 8: Jenna Allen
November 11: INTERVIEW with Shirley Jump: It's Raining Books
November 11: The Revolving Bookcase
November 12: All I Want and More
November 13: Literary Confessions of a Mom with Frizzy Hair
November 14: Book Reviews by Lexi
November 15: Rookie Romance
November 15: Wild Wordy Women
November 18: INTERVIEW with Barbara Wallace: Straight From the Library
November 18: Books and Other Spells
November 19: Sarah Ballance
November 20: Queen of the Night Reviews
November 21: Renee Entress's Blog
November 22: As the Pages Turn
November 22: Snarky Mom Reads...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How to Entice an Enchantress


“How to Entice an Enchantress” by Karen Hawkins is part of the ‘Duchess DIaries’ series which features the machinations of the Duchess of Roxburghe who tries to continue her winning streak of matching up members of the Balfour family. Her goddaughter, Dahlia Balfour, wants romance and that’s exactly why Lord Alasdair Kirk would be unsuitable, with his prickly demeanor, pragmatic but ungraceful approach to life and bitterness about the tragic loss of his wife which left him scarred and handicapped. Dahlia would be willing to ignore all of that in light of the easy companionship they feel for each other but there is the pesky issue of her grudge about how he has treated her father and his abominable tendency to reduce everything to a cold business arrangement. The Duchess will have her work cut out for her this time.

This fun historical romance provides a nice version of the Beauty and the Beast trope as it plays out at a house party. The secondary characters provide a great foil for the brooding and somewhat graceless hero and there are delightful scenes generated by the very pampered and indulged pug tribe that provides companionship for the wily Duchess. I had a little trouble quite believing the attraction between the main characters as the initial phases of their courtship is talked about rather than depicted which makes some of the subsequent events a little awkward for me as it is hard to imagine Dahlia being so protective of the man she thinks capable of wreaking such havoc on her family. I suspect that part of this is due to my not having read the previous book in the series where Kirk undoubtedly is portrayed in a more negative light in order to facilitate the Duchess’ plans but I don’t feel that he becomes an attractive hero until very late in the story, despite his supposed efforts. There are a few anomalies to me, including the about-face of a couple of somewhat nasty females as well as the somewhat scatterbrained companion to the Duchess but it looks like she may soon get her own ‘happy ever after’ and I look forward to reading it. An entertaining light read.

 © Night Owl Reviews

I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review.


How to Entice an Enchantress (Amazon link)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ritual Magic (review)


Ritual Magic by Eileen Wilks is part of the compelling ‘Lupi’ series which features the deliciously alpha Rule Turner who has learned to deal with his Nokolai werewolf ties so that he can adequately carry out his duties as head of the Leidolf clan.  He is getting closer to tying his mate, Lily Yu, to him with the human ceremony of marriage when another salvo in the Great War is struck and Lily’s mother is caught in the cross-fire.  The incorporeal Al Drummond is only one of the allies who attempts to help right the grave wrong that has been done but he, like most of the others is having trouble circumventing some of the limitations placed on him.  It may take more than two packs of lupi, a wizard, a dragon, and several very determined relatives to circumvent the evil plans of Robert Friar and his goddess but nobody is prepared to give up, no matter what the cost.

This mesmerizing series combines an enticing blend of reality as provided by Lily and her ties to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies with the mystical elements provided by shapeshifters who include wolves and a tiger and combines this all with the ritualized culture from both the lupi and the Asian-American elements.  The deep and abiding romance that has characterized the relationship between Rule and Lily makes this one of my favorite aspects of this series and the author’s lyrical descriptions emphasizes the intensity of their bond.  Phrases like describing Lily as the ‘heart of Rule’s world’ and the following description of their mate bond always make me sigh.  “The ease was immediate.  This, too, the mate bond gave them, heightening the inherent comfort of touch.  But it was love that made her touch rich, layered, full.  Love was like smell, Rule thought.  Smell was the most complex and dimensional of the senses, weaving together past and present, near and distant, motion and stillness.  Love, too, was a weaver.”

I like the way Rule is able to compromise (somewhat) as he has learned how to deal with the demands upon him, his innate protective nature, and the stubbornness of his mate.  Their relationship has evolved over the series and although I think it might be possible to read this as a stand-alone, I think it would be difficult to appreciate the complexities of the interrelationships among all of the characters, including the irascible ghost who has also evolved and the opinionated dragon who has intricate ties to Lily and her family.  This is a wonderfully complex and fascinating paranormal series characterized by an artfully built world peopled by charismatic beings and I look forward to many more tales spun by this masterful storyteller. 

© Night Owl Reviews
I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review.

Ritual Magic (A Novel of the Lupi) (Amazon link)

Additional notes:  This is one of those series that I usually have pre-ordered well in advance of publication.  I love the enigmatic characters that make up Lily's family and I thought this particular tale did a nice job of giving a different perspective of Lily's mom.

I thought I'd share this terribly appropriate description of one of those escalating headaches that one tries to ignore to one's's just another example of the way this author can paint such vivid word portraits!

  “It was one of those sneaky headaches that starts small so you won’t notice it and take action, but the little guy with the big crowbar had clocked in at some point and was hard at work prying open her skull.  The little guy is industrious.  As long as you’re still, he can keep working. If you move, it jostles him.  That makes him mad and he whacks you with the damn crowbar.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bargains on Amazon, upcoming titles from Shiloh Walker and a contest

There are some fantastic bargains to be had on Amazon right now.  If you don't have a Kindle (I share your pain, lol)...there are a free apps that can be used on most electronic devices, just download them from Amazon.  Please be advised that most of these are ADULT titles!

A fantastic military romance novella is available from Jessica Scott (be warned, tissues will probably be required!).  Whether you are familiar with the 'Coming Home' series or not, this is a wonderful read.  Those of us who are fans of the series are delighted to get to know more about Vic and if you are new to the series, you get a quick introduction to some of the characters and your interest piqued about a great set of books.  My formal review will be available in a few days but suffice to say that it was a wonderful read.
I'll Be Home For Christmas (A Coming Home Novella) (Amazon link)

Delilah Devlin and friends have a fantastic boxed set of military romance that will be available soon!

Uniform Desires (Make Mine Military) (Amazon link to pre-order)

Pamela Clare has an appetizer to keep us temporarily satiated while waiting for the next thrilling I-team novel!
First Strike (I-Team After Hours) (Amazon link)

For those who like spicy BDSM...the combo writing team of Harlem Dae (Lily Harlem and Natalie Dae) has a special just for you!

Sexy as Hell Box Set (Amazon link)

and...Shiloh Walker has a new set of romantic suspense novellas coming out early next year!  More info at this link.

Update:  There's a Wicked Warriors Blog Hop taking place right can start at the delightful Tara Lain's blog at this link.

Dick Francis's Refusal (review)


Dick Francis’s Refusal by Felix Francis is a horse-racing mystery featuring Sid Halley, the character made famous by the late Dick Francis. The former jockey who is also a former investigator is happily married, has a delightful young daughter and stays in close touch with his former wife’s father. He is less than satisfied with his myoelectric left hand yet quietly content with the rest of his life until he gets inexorably drawn back into the drama that surrounds the world of racing and discovers that he is still unable to be complacent in the face of wrongdoing and bullying, despite the danger to all he holds dear. He soon discovers that he is going to need all of the resources at his command if he and his family are going to survive the threat that may destabilize the entire racing system and more importantly may result in Sid’s own destruction.

This intriguing mystery contains many of the elements that one has come to expect from this series, a definite link to horse-racing, an understated hero who is stubbornly resistant to coercion and an insidious problem that may have far-reaching consequences. I greatly enjoyed seeing Sid Halley again as I felt that I had almost come to know him during the past books and it was like seeing an old friend who has gotten married, started a family and settled into a complacent life. Sadly, his joy in his family was tempered by his ongoing dissatisfaction with his artificial limb, the lack of challenge once he quit his private investigations and his virtual rejection of the horse-racing world. Despite the fact that events transpire to force him to use his rusty skills, his tenacity and belief in the ‘right thing to do’ is showcased in this story which is a homage to the author’s late father as it continues a beloved series. Naturally, we all have our own idea of what this character should be like and although I felt that his personality in this novel was slightly less vibrant than I remember, there is the fact that he is an older (and hopefully wiser) man than he used to be and has even more to lose than ever before. I wish that his wife’s actions and attitude were a little more in keeping with her obvious intellect but she was a necessary foil although sometimes a little ponderously obtuse. This was a lovely addition to an enduring series and I look forward to other stories featuring this wonderfully tenacious and resourceful character.

© Night Owl Reviews

I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review.

Dick Francis's Refusal (Amazon link--hardcover)
Dick Francis's Refusal (Amazon link--Kindle version)