31 August 2011

Review: Sloan Parker - Breathe

Format: E-Book
ISBN: 978-1-60737-890-7
Genre: LGBT Suspense
Length: Novel Plus
Read from my personal library

Lincoln McCaw lost everything -- his home, his job, his partner -- after he caused a fatal accident. A year later, he's drowning the guilt and despair in whiskey, but he needs to move on. His sister and her kids are counting on him. Then he meets a man who ignites a passion Lincoln thought he’d never find. Too bad one night is all they can have together. Now he needs to figure out how to turn away from the only person who makes him feel alive…before whoever is sending him threats decides Lincoln needs to suffer more than he already has.

Jay Miller is surrounded by grief and misery until he finally gives in to all those years of sexual fantasies about being with another guy. Realizing he’s ended up in the arms of the man who caused his wife’s accident, he tries to pull away. But how can he give up a friendship he needs more than anything -- a friendship and a love that could save him? He may not have time to make the choice before someone else destroys it all.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Male/male sexual practices.

My Review

I’ve read Breathe months ago and why I picked up this book at that time I don’t know. The blurb alone should have made me back away fast, as if I’ve burned myself. My husband just died only two months prior to me reading this book. I knew it would be very hard for an author to make me believe in a character grieving and falling in love again. However, I don’t deny myself a book when I feel the pull towards it and I started reading.

Breathe is a heart rendering portrayal of two men experiencing a horrific event from opposites sides. The situation is the death of a woman; one who caused her death, the other one who had to lose her. Sloan Parker invited me to think what would I do, what would I feel, as I experienced the painstakingly raw emotions from both sides. It could’ve easily have been handled the wrong way because how do you make the character who caused the accident and killed the woman redeemable? The circumstances for one thing and second, the way Sloan Parker delved in to the emotional psyche of Lincoln. She stayed true to both Lincoln and Jay’s emotions and simultaneously created a situation for them to meet, feel a burning attraction and recognized the desperation in each other’s eyes.

Head over heels I fell for these flawed men Lincoln and Jay are. With all the mistakes, the loss and the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve they felt, it is balanced by something new, hopeful and fierce. Initially they did not know how they were connected but when one does find out, the conflict of secrecy adds another layer to an already complex situation. Lincoln has to deal with the overwhelming guilt of causing the death of another person, while Jay has to deal with the grief of losing his wife. As their attraction turns in to a budding romance they face a real threat because someone is not happy with Lincoln’s release from jail.

Lincoln and Jay were arresting characters who came alive via the pages and have an incredible bittersweet story to tell. I felt connected to the maelstrom of their emotions and how they were battling their inner demons. In Breathe, Sloan Parker fused a beautiful romance with scintillating erotic scenes to a minor but effective emotion-driven plot, which involved both main and secondary characters. Even while I thought the ending was a bit over the top and abruptly, the journey was engaging from the first page!

Breathe is a true to life story with incredible multi-faceted characters who face difficulties which I wanted them to survive. This is a m/m suspense romance that struck emotional chords with me and made me believe in a happy ending after loss and grief!

4 stars

Sloan Parker on the www:
website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Buy @ Loose Id

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30 August 2011

Winners gallore

Comment #35 won the eArc of Never Enough

Victoria said...
I love this series. The character interview is fantastic. I can't wait to see Adrian's story unfold.

Comment #48 won the print copy of Never Enough shipped by Book Depository Store

Anonymous said...
I would love to know who this model is. What a hunk.

My favorite song is Need You Know by Lady Antebelleum.

Would love to win the copy in print.
Thank you.

Comment # 13 won a copy of Too Hot To Touch

Sherie said...
Cannot wait to read this book!
Great excerpt, cannot wait to see how all the...

Congrats to all the winners and happy reading time!! I will contact you throughout today!!

More book celebration is on its way to LBR with the grand opening of a new publisher. I will be part of a three month long celebration of books with interviews, guestposts, scavenger hunt, covers, awesome giveaways and more. So stay tuned!!

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29 August 2011

Review: Bren Christopher - Friday Night Jamie

Format: ebook, Novel, 181 pages
Published: November 9th 2010 by Loose Id
ISBN: 139781607378877
Language: English
Read from my personal library

Jamie is an accountant who lives by a strict schedule. Every day is planned; the future is predictable. And that schedule includes one night a week when he allows himself to blow off steam at a gay dance club in the City. One Friday night he gets more than he bargained for when he meets Matt, an out of work stranger with long dark hair and rough hands. The attraction is undeniable but Matt does not fit Jamie’s idea of the perfect man to share his carefully ordered life.

Instead, Jamie longs for a date with his dream man: handsome, sophisticated Keith, a successful Vice President at his prestigious New York accounting firm, a man on his way up.

But everything changes when Jamie discovers a suspicious error in one of his accounts. Suddenly, he finds himself on the run from both the mob and the FBI -- and the only man who can help him is the tall, dark-haired stranger he rejected. Because Matt is not who he seems -- and neither is Keith.

My Review

Some stories make it difficult to connect to at the beginning yet after a chapter or two hits its stride with an enjoyable blend of character development, erotic romance and a suspense plot to spice thing up. This happened when I started in Friday Night Jamie. The beginning was taking its time and dragged somewhat and I really had to get a feel for accountant and party animal, Jamie. I had no clue where the author was taking the story but after a few chapters everything started to click and grabbed my attention.

Jamie loved to go out with his two club buddies and he isn’t a stranger to casual one night stands. He has a time and a place for everything in his life. Jamie is methodical, I almost would call him neurotic in his set ways but he does it with a charm where these personality traits doesn’t aggravate me. Jamie is protective of his personal space, he has issues and with all of his quirks he was a persona I had to get used to. I didn’t fully understand Jamie at first but the author handled the character progress very well to provide reasons for the behaviorisms. Where Jamie might inevitably have lost me as a reader I got pulled more and more in to his life. He opened up, lost a bit of that rigid attitude and I started to like him more with each chapter read to a point where I felt myself fully invested in his struggles. Jamie and I may not have been love at first sight but he sure got to me by the end of his story!

The one who challenged Jamie’s closed off heart and rigid attitude was Matt. He is in between jobs but a very focused man on things that holds his passion. He is an all-around good guy, no push-over but a strong man with a pleasant demeanor. I loved to see Matt push Jamie’s buttons and the interaction flowing from that, whether physically or verbally. His outlook on life and how he could stand his ground just made Matt an instantaneously amiable man. Matt and Jamie have in some ways an opposites attract chemistry going on which I enjoyed to the fullest!

Another character I just have to mention is Keith. In the beginning he and Jamie have “a thing” going on. Keith is the “perfect boyfriend” material but I disliked him on the spot. He rubbed me the wrong way from the get-go and that irritation only grew stronger as the story progressed. His party attitude, his slick and sly ways, his fake charm, it all screamed; I’ll do pretty in your face but I have no objection stabbing you in the back if the situation warrants it. If I could’ve kicked him I would but for the story he was a fantastic addition, affecting it in all the right ways.

In the first quarter of Friday Night Jamie, it mainly revolved around Jamie and his connection to both Matt and Keith. But then the suspense kicks in and pushes the story forward in a very good way. The mystery at work finds its way in to Jamie’s personal life and amps up the thrills. There are personal conflicts between Jamie and Matt but the plot added another layer of external pressure on them. The tension was felt and since the narrative was from Jamie’s point of view I felt it coming off him in waves.

Friday Night Jamie is smoothly written with engaging dialogues and characters. It contains a m/m romance with spine tingling bed play, solid character and plot development which all worked together to deliver a wonderful read. For an avid m/m reader like myself I would mark Friday Night Jamie as a comfort read. Something I can enjoy completely where it results in me keeping an eye out for future releases from this author. I think that is a job well done for Bren Christopher!

3.5 stars

Bren Christopher on the www:
website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Buy @ Loose ID

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28 August 2011

Cover Gallery: Girl power edition

Suzanne Johnson
Series info

Cover Art: ROYAL STREET by Suzanne Johnson (April 10th 2012 by Tor Books), Sentinels of New Orleans #1. Cover art by Cliff Nielsen.

Description: As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. Her boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond. Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the other world crumbled. Now, the Undead and the Restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering soldiers sent to help the city recover. Gerald St. Simon has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and an undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and the killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love serves up one bitter gumbo. 

Not only did the cover immediately grab my attention, so did the summary. It speaks about loads of action in store for the reader. Plus, it intrigues me that the author took something as catestrophic as Katrina and gave it a paranormal spin to it.

Jennifer Bosworth
Book info

Mia Price is a lightning addict.

She’s been struck so many times she’s lost count. She can’t sleep, she’s covered in veiny red “lightning scars,” and repeated strikes have even stopped her heart on occasion. Still, Mia can’t resist a storm.

That's why Los Angeles, where it never rains, is the perfect place for her to find peace . . . until a massive earthquake devastates the city.

Now Mia finds herself struggling to hold her family together in a strange and terrifying new version of Los Angeles. The beaches have become massive tent cities populated by millions of homeless. Downtown is a wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the attendees drawn to the destruction by a magnetic force they cannot deny.

The blind prophet of a doomsday cult called the Church of Light, who predicted the earthquake with frightening accuracy, says a storm is coming to usher in the end of days, and only his Followers will be saved. Mia’s traumatized mom has become obsessed with the Church of Light, while her younger brother Parker is desperate to join a second doomsday cult called the Seekers. But Mia is the one both cults need.

The Seekers are recruiting people with an energy-based power they call the “Spark,” and Mia has it stronger than most. They claim the false prophet of the Church of Light will bring about the end of the world, and they are the only ones who can stand against him.

But without Mia on their side, they will fail.

Mia’s lightning addiction is both the key to saving the world . . . and destroying it

For some reason I'm drawn this week to post apocalyptic stories. Or I think they fall under this category - please correct me if I'm wrong! This cover shows a street full of destruction and a woman spreading her arms to the lightning. If you read the summary then it all makes sense but for me it was an instant invitation to investigate further.

Both stories appeal to me for the worl building. And if the author's have done it right even the young protags will be able to keep me completely invested in their trials and tribulations :)

Each year comes with new authors or series to discover...I love it!!

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26 August 2011

Cooking With the Characters: chef, Liana Richardson

Hi, I'm Tommy Howard, and I'm here with my...honey, what is it you like to be called again?


Nice. My girlfriend, who also happens to be a chef, Liana Richardson.

*Girlfriend sounds so junior high.*

Well, how about wife?

*You are not proposing to me on a guest blog! How many times do I have to tell you that? If you do it in public, I'm not counting it as real.*

I swear, one of these days, I'm going to catch her off guard and she's going to say yes.

*As if.*

Now who sounds like they're in junior high, and do not stick your tongue out at me. Remember what happened last time. And stop with the glaring. You're going to scare these lovely readers away.

*Fine. Hi, I'm Chef Liana Richardson. Some of you may know me from the online video series, Day to Day Chef.*

And Clock Beaters!

*Tommy and I are here today to tell you about our favorite recipe, which was inspired by one of the dishes we made on Clock Beaters.*

Well, definitely Liana's favorite. She is obsessed with dried cranberries.

*I am not obsessed.*

What do you call it when someone goes out and buys a twenty pound bag of dried cranberries? I don't even know bakers who go through that much in a year.

*We'll discuss this later. Anyway, my favorite recipe...which he gobbles down as soon as I put it in front of him...is a great cold and hearty salad for the summer. The meld of flavors is what really brings the salad together, so I'd recommend making this when you have an afternoon free and you can let it sit about half an hour before serving. This also makes for great leftovers if you don't eat it all on the first day.*

It's great on the first day and even more delicious as leftovers. After a long day in the studio, this hits the spot. Thanks for joining us! Now, honey, about that proposal...

1 cup of wheat berries
4 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
6 strips of bacon
1 avocado
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/8 cup of dried cranberries
1 oz. of chives cut or diced into small pieces
1 handful of arugula greens mix
Dash of ground salt
Dash of ground pepper

Prepare the wheat berries according to package instructions. If you don't have instructions, such as buying the wheat berries from your bulk grain aisle, put the 1 cup of wheat berries into a pot with 4 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. You don't bring the water to a boil before putting the wheat berries in. You want them to slowly cook, so you can start with room temperature water. Cook on your stovetop for 50-60 minutes with the heat on medium. Drain the wheat berries of any excess water and set aside to cool. I drain them in a sieve (you can also use a large sifter) and run them under running cool water to stop the cooking process.

Cook up the bacon as preferred. I like mine on the definitely cooked, but chewy, side of things. Tommy prefers it slightly crispier, but if I'm the one making this, I get to choose the doneness level. I also like to bake my bacon as cleanup is a lot easier. To bake, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. I like to use my smallest cookie sheet because I can use one piece of my parchment paper, which is greatly oversized, and all of the baked-off fat stays on the parchment paper which makes it *much* easier to dispose of when done. At 425, it usually takes about 12 to 13 minutes for the bacon to get to the consistency I like. Set the timer for 6 minutes, turn the bacon when it goes off, and set the timer again for another 6 or 7 minutes. In other words, halfway through baking, turn the bacon. You can figure out how long it will take to get to your preferred “doneness”.

Dump the wheat berries into a mixing bowl with the dried cranberries and chives. Halve and pit the avocado. While the meat is still in the skin, score it in a grid pattern with a knife. Then scoop out the resulting cubes with a spoon. Pour the lemon juice directly onto the avocado to help retard the browning process. Lightly mix.

Once the bacon is done and cooled, cut it into the salad. And yes, I do mean cut. Again, this is to minimize clean up and if I only have to wash my kitchen shears versus a sharp knife and a cutting board, I'll take the shears. If you don't want to cut, just do a rough chop so you have larger chunks of bacon. Mix again.

Add the arugula mix and the dashes of salt and pepper to taste (I have grinders for these, and it’s about two or three grinds a piece for me and Tommy). Mix once more and serve. Depending on the avocado, this may only keep a day or two in the refrigerator, but I've had it last for four to five. You can reheat the bacon and serve as leftovers. To do this, I'd recommend spooning out your serving and then picking out the bacon in the serving. Microwave the bacon on a microwavable dish for 15-20 seconds. Enjoy!

AMUSE BOUCHE by Kelly Maher

“Liana, I’ve waited over five years as it is. I’m tired of waiting.” With that, he cupped her face in his palms. Calluses scraped her skin. She watched his lips descend to hers in slow motion. Even the threat of a knife to her throat couldn’t have forced her to move out of its way.

When their lips met, she kept still. Their mouths were of similar size, but she felt like she was cushioning rock-hard muscles. He didn’t try to dominate her. Instead, he coaxed. Massaged.

She needed an anchor. Her hands came up and grasped his hips. He pushed against her and she gasped as the hard length of his cock pressed against her pussy. He swooped in and took control of her mouth. His tongue pushed against hers, teasing her with his forays. Heat washed through her as she imagined his cock moving in the same insistent motion.

One of his hands left her face and drifted down to her breast, fingers trailing against exposed skin. He shaped his fingers around it, testing its weight. His thumb teased her nipple through her shirt and work bra to an alert peak. She may as well not have been wearing the heavy-duty cotton clothes, she thought as electricity arced through her body to the place she became more and more convinced with every moment was in most need of his touch.

An insistent buzzing finally filtered through the haze of lust. She broke away from him. When he finally opened his eyes, it looked to her like the black irises nearly overtook the hazel green. A definite flush colored his cheeks as bright a red as his skin tone would allow.

“What is that?”

He glanced over her shoulder. “Milk.”

She knew what he said, but didn’t understand it. All she could think about was stripping off his clothes and exploring his body with fingers and tongue. Lots of skin. Lots of tongue.

“I was preparing milk for a béchamel.” He didn’t seem in a hurry to rescue it from scalding. The fingers of the hand still on her face massaged her scalp, tangling what had been a tightly done bun. She could already feel locks of hair escaping their hold. He focused back in on her. “Don’t try to deny this, Liana. You know me. You know I will respect your wishes, but don’t dismiss this chance we have. I’m not looking for a fling with you, despite what you may think. We’ve got a weekend to ourselves, away from the rest of the world. We’ll work on what we need to for the show during the day, but there is absolutely no reason in the world we can’t also work on a relationship.”

He capped his speech off with a quick peck to her lips before returning to the stove and removing the pan of milk from the burner.

Kelly Maher on the www:
website | Goodreads | Twitter | Buy @ Ellora's Cave

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24 August 2011

Review: Kele Moon - Finding Eden

Line: Taboo
Series: Eden
Book Length: Novel
Book Type: eBook
Publisher: Ellora's Cave Publishing
ISBN: 9781419935305
MSRP/List Price: $11.90
Our Cover Price: $5.95
Received a copy from author.

Handsome, angry and spoiled, Danny Carlow struggles to find his place in the world when his hatred for authority makes survival difficult. The only thing that keeps him from completely giving up and turning to a life of crime is his friendship with clean-cut Paul Mattling. More than his conscience and his best friend, Paul’s also the one Danny secretly pines for with every ounce of his being.

Paul is a natural over-achiever with a football scholarship and straight As to boast about. Yet Paul is haunted by an abusive childhood that’s left him more scarred than anyone realizes. Looking for an escape from his demons, Paul has his own deviant secrets, ones he doesn’t want anyone, especially Danny, to know about.

When dark desires are accidentally revealed Danny and Paul end up coming together in a clash of wild passion more tumultuous than either of them could have anticipated. Tasting the forbidden is sweet, but it turns the tables on their relationship, putting everything, even their lifelong friendship, in jeopardy.

My Review:

Finding Eden is the prequel to Beyond Eden and I’m in awe where Kele Moon has taken both Paul and Danny. The journey is tumultuous at best but at some points it was soul baring raw. Via a fluent and alluring writing style there were no barriers between me and the story. Kele Moon poured this incredibly moving story of two flawed characters to paper that echoed long after I finished it.

I already knew Paul and Danny from Beyond Eden, so I was aware of certain character traits. Like Paul being too giving and has no boundaries in his sexual preferences. Or that Danny has utter foot-in-mouth moments making him a jerk on occasion. I knew who Paul and Danny were yet in Finding Eden they still managed to affect me in new ways. It is mainly because more attention is given to their home situation and it was gritty. It speaks of alcohol and physical abuse which both leave a profound mark on these two young men. Paul is this double-edged persona of light and darkness. He is an all-American golden boy. He is a straight A student, a star football player, does charity work and is charming. Even while the charming, giving personality traits are an essential part of Paul it is countered with a hunger for pain, for being dominated. Paul needs this to function, and in this his struggles are intimately portrayed by the author. Kele Moon gave me the innermost self of Paul and allowed me to understand who he was, where his needs stemmed from and why he was the man he was. Paul struck a chord with me in his vulnerability, in his needs, and in doing so he completely won me over!

Danny had the same effect on me just in a whole other way. Danny is the bad boy, the one who gets all the chicks between the sheets with a devil-may-care attitude. He needs no one but behind that exterior attitude I found a man who was capable of loving so deeply, it just blew me away. Danny might not befriend easily or fall in love easily but when he does…oh my, he makes my romantic heart go in to overdrive. Danny loves in his own unique way, it may not be full of roses and daisies but a powerful love that will go the distance and beyond! I relished in how Kele Moon laid him bare for me in his struggles. Paul needs something from Danny which he is not easily giving in to. Namely satiating Pauls need for pain and being dominated. Danny makes mistakes but, like with Paul, I was inside his psyche where I got to understand and feel where it all came from.

I went through each struggle, each painful or joyful moment and I watched a friendship alter in a fiercely dark erotic romance. To say the dynamics between Paul and Danny was completely grabbing me would be an understatement. They created a synergy of emotional and sexual hunger which only they together could satisfy. I inhaled it! Due to Paul’s pain fetish and the raw moments it provides a darker side to the eroticism. Yet the eroticism is also titillating, naughty, provoking and seductively sexy! It’s a one of a kind blend where Kele Moon takes the sexy and roots it in profound emotions between characters who have an intense connection that deepens with each moment shared. The dialogues are brimming with male banter, quick wit and the characters personality. The verbal clash of these two personalities created quite the firework and my eyes devoured it.

There is also a minimum secondary cast whom support the journey of Paul and Danny but never detracted the attention from them. Secrets gradually get revealed and sets up the main conflict. This is whether Danny can provide what Paul needs and it is masterfully elaborated and unfolds a situation where emotions and darkness peaks. There is nothing I want more than an author letting me into the world of the characters and allow me to get to know them in a very intimate way. Kele Moon gives me that and so much more. There is no way to describe how Paul and Danny got under my skin and let me feel a range of emotions. They come alive for me as I read Finding Eden. The whirlwind of feelings with the characters raged inside me as well. Like I mentioned earlier; there is no filter between the story and me. I absorbed the intricate storylines and characterization with no regard for my surrounding. I just was that captivated by the powerful voice of these characters. It turned me in to a ravenous reader and even though the happy for now ending worked like a charm for me, I wanted more. It felt like Finding Eden was just the beginning, that the story of the D/s relationship expanding was yet to come. As I found out, this will happen in Claiming Eden.

I crave ‘outside the box’ romance with extraordinary and flawed characters. I revel in a complex situation meshed with mind-blowing ecstasy. Have it all amplified by an imaginative writing style and I have readers bliss written all over my face. Kele Moon hits the bull’s with all of the above! Finding Eden is gritty, it will take you through the dark recesses of the characters soul before a HFN will have you close the book. It will put you through the emotional wringer but delivers a story where you’re accepted and loved exactly for who you are. This is what romance is all about!

4.5 stars

He didn’t want to be that person. He certainly didn’t want to turn into one willing to damage something so ethereally gorgeous just to hold Paul close. Danny had wanted him for as long as he could remember, had watched from a distance and hoped and prayed for a chance at tasting the divine. Now here Paul was, naked and sated in Danny’s bed, and the only thought he had about it was that God had to be a twisted bastard.

Wearing only a pair of jeans, Danny sat by the front door straightening a beer bottle. He turned the label outward on touch alone as he stared ahead unseeing. This was what he was destined to be, a heartbroken shell of a man living in a hollowed-out home, lining up bottles.

“Your ass belongs to me. I’ve suffered for it. I’ve loved you forever. I deserve it,” Danny went on, his voice a low mixture of anger and desire. “I don’t ever want you getting from another man what you can get from me. You hear me, Paul Guy, it’s mine.”
“Yeah,” Paul choked, shifting beneath Danny, aching for him. “I hear you.”

Paul forgot what he had been trying to get from Danny to begin with. His back was burning and his cock was hard. Danny felt amazing over him, all muscle, raw strength and untamable fury. He wanted to cling to him, to hold Danny closer. More so, he wanted to reach down and push off the boxer shorts he wore, craving the feeling of being bare and vulnerable.

Kele Moon on the www:
website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Buy @ EC

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23 August 2011

It's my 35th birthday and owning it!

I'm going to celebrate my 35th birthday with bubblies, chocolate and cupcakes for everyone.

As I was searching for some good books to add to my b-day wishlist I realized the 23rd was a pretty exciting release day. Let me give you a taste of what's out there today:

I've heard great things about Gena Showalter's Dark Taste of Rapture but Where Demons Fear To Thread is getting mixed reviews. I'll be finding that out for myself as I've got the latter on my wishlist. Okay, I'm not absolutely sure I'm gonna get it from Natascha, Marissa and Pearl but I'm pretty confident *grin*

I've seen quite some mammoth anthology books released and really like the concept. This one is all about hot romance and I never say no to that :)  It's just hard to satisfy me with a novella or less in page count *sigh* I'm a high maintenance reader.

The last book on my release list is one which is part of a series and Pearl is telling us all about her:

I've been enjoying her experience very much and today is the release of Vivian Arend's:

She has lots of good stuff going on and yeah, look at the cover, it looks like one huge invite to the wicked, wild island of naughtiness! I could totally see myself there, sipping on a cocktail and play with one or two gorgeous men!!

Join Pearl in her experience here

Find info or buy the books here

Guys...I'm 35...how the heck did that happen *sigh* I'm going to get me a flute of bubblies and a cupcake to munch on!! Join me will ya ;) Let's not talk about kids suddenly calling you ma'am or boobs going south or wrinkles appearing, but rather about your last girls night out. What did ya do? Me, Natascha, Marissa and Pearl are still pondering on ours...

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22 August 2011

Beefcake night with; Adrian Brown, rockstar, brother, uncle, dirty talkin' lover & father.

When I read Laid Bare I found this amazing family who struck a chord with me. From there I loved watching the Brown family expand as they found smokin' hot love with incredible characters. I must say I never had a true favorite character, each and everyone was a delicous blend of quirks, personality and talents. Adrian intrigued me over the course of this series but it wasn't until I read his story were he was able to affect me in the most delicious of ways.

Of course I had to get him here in the Beefcake club for an intimate one on one! So the doors are open, find yourself a place to sit and the beefcake bartenders are at your service as you all get to know Adrian Brown.

1: Adrian, I know Lauren Dane is the bard of your story but can you tell us impatient ladies what to expect from Never Enough?
In Never Enough, my entire life gets turned upside down. I find out I’ve got a thirteen year old son, which sends me reeling. Of course I’m mad, guilty, sad, all that stuff because I’ve missed the first thirteen years of his life. But at the same time, he’s amazing and I get to fall in love with my son. Which, all things said and done, is pretty rockin.

And then there’s his mother. Wow. Gillian is incredible and stubborn and we sort of develop this fire and ice thing. We like to bicker, but probably because it’s sort of foreplay for us. And because it makes me hot when she gets extra starchy. What can I say? We had some big ups and downs. Some tears and yelling. But when you love someone and have a family with them, you put in the work and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you things work out.

We all have to learn stuff about each other and ourselves. I get a lot of support from my friends, and a few kicks in the ass from them too and I like to hope that by the end, things are pretty damned copacetic.

2: I always like to challenge the men I interview. So Adrian, if you would place a personal ad what would it say?
My woman would kill me if I did such a thing. Really. She’s small and quiet but she’d cut a bitch. But I asked her how she’d write it and this is what she says:
Tall, dark and dangerous rock star with a big heart, many tattoos and a very talented set of hands and mouth will turn your world upside down and serenade you afterward as the sun rises.
She’s good at that, huh?

3: My moods influence the music I’m playing, tell me what you listen to if you’re:
Happy – Vampire Weekend
Angry - Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Five Finger Death Punch
Sexy - PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, Kings of Leon, Goldfrapp
Mellow – Radiohead, Adele, the soundtrack to Inception – I love Hans Zimmer’s work.

4: What was the first instrument you played and song you sang?
I’m sure I drummed on everything until Brody finally bribed me to do well in school with the promise of a guitar. The first song I played was The Kinks. You Really Got Me. I did okay with the intro but the rest totally sucked. Still love to play the song live sometimes though I like to hope I suck a lot less.

5: What are your favorite TV series or movies to watch? And who do you watch it with?
We don’t watch a lot of television but Gillian and I watch True Blood with a bottle of wine, popcorn in the bedroom. Sexy show. What we do most though are movie marathons. The house has a theater and the whole family can come over and we can do a Star Wars marathon. Or horror movies with Gillian and Miles. Love those best. Miles is currently on an old school monster movie kick. We just caught Swamp Thing and Dracula. The Christopher Lee ones.

6: Can you give us the 411 on a night with the guys? Yes, we gals are that curious!
Oh you mean when we all lounge around in our boxer briefs and rub suntan lotion on each other? That’s what Gillian tells me they say about us. Well, not me and Brody obviously.

The reality is far more tame. Usually includes pizza and beer. Sometimes video games or pool. Eventually we all start talking about our women or our babies. Exciting huh? I love to go see music live, but now I bring Miles and Gillian along, which I like a lot.

7: I know it’s probably cheesy but; Love is...?
Love is alchemy. It’ll change you in ways you never could have understood before you fell.

8: Describe your siblings in handful or so words each.
Erin is vibrant. Colorful. Full of love and light and energy.
Brody is solid. Protective and loving. Creative. A badass when he needs to be.

9: Who is Adrian through Gillian’s eyes?
The best thing about Gillian is that she sees me as Adrian the man. Not the rock star, not the guy with the money. Through her eyes Adrian is a good dad. He’s a good man who protects what’s his. He’s head over heels in love with his woman. She might think he’s a pretty good guitar player.

10: Adrian, if Gillian would be a cocktail, how would it look and taste?
She’d be classic. A gin martini with an olive. Effective. Strong. Uncomplicated. Perfect. Served in an ice cold martini glass.

So in honor of Gillian the beefcake bartenders are serving up a gin martini with an olive!

Lauren Dane on the www:
website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Brown sibling series info

Lauren Dane has fantabulous daily contests going on at her blog and two grand prizes:

Grand Prize #1 – Drawn and announced on August 29: Winner’s Choice of EIGHT books from my backlist, and a $50.00 gift certificate to Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Grand Prize #2 – Drawn and announced on September 5: Full set of signed Brown Siblings books, including Never Enough, an ARC of HEART OF DARKNESS and a $50 dollar gift certificate to iTunes

Click here if you want to enter and read the rules!

But at LBR we have an awesome giveaway as well:

Giveaway 1: Lauren Dane has offered an eARC copy of NEVER ENOUGH for you to win. The contest ends on August 29th where upon the winner will be randomly drawn. This giveaway is open internationally.

Giveaway 2: I want to celebrate this series right alonside Lauren Dane and will pre-order a print copy via Book Depository store. This contestis  also internationally, or where Bookdepo ships, and ends on August 29th where upon I randomly draw a winner.

For both contests goes; leave a way for me to contact you!! Whether it is a twitter addy, an e-mail in profile or comment, that doesn't matter!

Now kick back, relax and tell me what your favorite song is these days?

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21 August 2011

Cover Gallery: A wolf, A dragon and a druid.

I've decided to post all my cover love, cover-gasms & cover-duds under the tag; Cover Gallery. Of course I had to create a slick new banner to go allong with it! The first cover is one Pearl directed me to and since then I gathered me a bit of info on this trilogy. Me likes the sound of it very much!

Stephanie Tyler

DIRE NEEDS: A Novel of the Eternal Wolf Clan (Book 1) — March 6, 2012
DIRE WANTS: A Novel of the Eternal Wolf Clan (Book 2) — Winter 2012
DIRE DESIRES: A Novel of the Eternal Wolf Clan (Book 3) — Spring 2013

MARCH 6, 2012

Dire Needs
Book One of the Eternal Wolf Series

The full moon is their mistress. They are predators of pleasure and pain. Feared by humans, envied by werewolves, the Dire Wolves are immortal shifters, obeying no laws but their own bestial natures. Once they were many, but now only six remain, a dangerous wolfpack forever on the hunt…

Rifter leads the pack, embracing the lifestyle and ethics of an outlaw biker even as he battles an ancient enemy who has become a new, powerful force. But with his Brother Wolf raging inside him, howling to be unleashed, he needs to satisfy his hungers. And when he meets a drop-dead gorgeous blonde drinking alone in a bar that caters to both human and inhuman, Rifter’s primal instinct is to claim her.

Gwen has her own desires, long unfulfilled. She hopes a passionate night with the leather-clad, Harley-riding biker will ease her suffering. The seizures that have wracked her body her entire life are incurable—and they’re killing her.

But none of that will matter if Rifter can’t stop the growing threat to them all — trappers who are determined to enslave humankind and use the Dire wolves as part of their nefarious plan.

I'm definitely in for this wolf pack!! *aaahhhhuuuuuuuu*

Now the next cover is created by a cover artist who also had my love with Sizzle And Burn, the previous novel by Alexis Grant. Love the dynamics again and the beefcake!

No cover summary available yet.

Coming January 3, 2012

From the moment I read Haunting Beauty I knew Erin Quinn appealed to me in many ways. She not only gives me incredible characters, atmospheric setting and intriguing plots. She also appeals to my fantasy with her writing style, which is very lyrical. The cover goddess has been very good to her stories and I've liked every one so far :)

Erin Quinn

Hauntin Embrace, book 4 in the Mists Of Ireland series

Coming October 4, 2011

Within Meaghan Ballagh surges the blood of an ancient sorceress whose long ago love for the druid Áedán ended in treachery—a fate that ensnares Meaghan herself when she is thrust into the past. She can feel the desire between the sorceress and the handsome druid rise inside her. To ensure her survival, she must piece together the history of the woman who haunts her and the man who needs her.

Áedán recognizes Meaghan. He always will. For the spirit of his one true love—and immortal enemy—is in her. A woman for whom Áedán once risked everything he ever had only to be repaid with betrayal and eternal damnation. This time, he’s not going to let Meaghan escape—because together they have the power to change their destiny.

As the passion between them grows, so do their fears of arousing an ancient, haunted, and forbidden love, and for changing a past that could irrevocably destroy the future.

I've only read the first book in Deborah Cooke's Dragonfire series and liked the set-up of it but somehow I never got to read more in this series *eek*

Deborah Cooke

FLASHFIRE, book seven in the Dragonfire series.

coming January 3, 2012
from NAL Eclipse

He's lost all hope...until she changes everything.

Master illusionist Lorenzo wants nothing to do with the Pyr. His dragon nature is just another secret to hide and another detail to juggle, like ensuring that each of his Las Vegas magic shows is a true spectacle. Until he feels the burn of his firestorm and his whole world shifts....

Cassie Redmond is tired of photographing celebrities. She wants to pursue her dream of serious photography—despite the lucrative offer for a shot of a dragon shifter. Las Vegas is the last place she wants to be, but Lorenzo arouses more than her curiosity when he shifts shape as the finale of his show. Instead of forcing him to reveal his secrets, Cassie gets swept away by this illusionist’s masterful touch.

Lorenzo wants to satisfy the firestorm and put it behind him. But Cassie is hard to forget—and he can’t ignore the danger when Slayers target the mate Lorenzo didn’t believe he wanted....

Have a great sunday everyone...I'm snuggling on the couch with Kele Moon's Beyond Eden :)

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19 August 2011

Review Anne Rice - Taltos

format: Hardcover, 467 pages
published: September 19th 1994 by Alfred A. Knopf/Borzoi Book (first published 1994)
ISBN 067942573X (ISBN13: 9780679425731)
language: English
original title: Taltos
series: Lives of the Mayfair Witches #3
read from my personal library


In the third chronicle of the Mayfair Witches, the Talamasca seek to preserve the nearly extinct Taltos race by bringing together a male and female. Their searching catches the attention of an ancient Taltos named Ashlar entwined with Lasher's identity. Ashlar reveals the taltos mythology and lineage and enlists the help of Michael and Rowan in his battle againsst evil. Ashlar longs to make right the sufferings of his people. To help Ashlar, Michael must keep his coupling with Mona Mayfair (a precocious teenager who loves sex and computers equally) a secret, for it has produced a new female Taltos. Rowan attempts to assist him, but the task is difficult given that Morrigan, the Taltos, has been named the heir to the Mayfair fortune. Morrigan becomes the new monster of the Mayfair family.

My Review

!!Warning; Can contian spoilers if you haven't read The Witching Hour and Lasher!!

Taltos is the story which birthed the journey of Lasher and the Mayfairs taken in The Witching Hour and Lasher. Yet it also furthers the relationship development between Michael Curry and Rowan Mayfair. After all the tumultuous events in Lasher I tumbled in to a story that I found very bittersweet to read at times. There are more troubles ahead for the Mayfairs. Characters who I had to say goodbye to and more history to absorb from newly introduced characters. Once more, Anne Rice put me through the emotional wringer in Taltos. I absolutely fell in love over the course of this trilogy with the magic of her storytelling but it also took a lot out of me.

The bittersweet unfolding of Rowena and Michael's situation didn't give much room for happy moments. The painstakingly honest dialogues, the sharing of opinions about personal and family matters leave nothing to the imagination. There is no lovey-dovey romance here but an irrevocable bond forged through an attraction that defies all. There is adversity and survival but no sunshine and daisies or an over the top happily ever after for them. Oh no, it is a double-edged sword of pleasure and pain. It has a gritty vibe yet the core of them burns fierce for one another. No matter what they individual decide it is their form of love that fuses them together. The complexity of Rowan and Michael's relationship in gradually layered through the three books. It is but one example how Anne Rice has deepened and enriched various storylines and characterization over the course of this trilogy. I have a penchant for complex and dark romance but even for me it was at times hard to digest all the dilemmas this main couple faced. I wanted some happy time as well but never really got it, not even at the ending, which left a tinge of sadness as I closed this book.

Another complex character was Taltos himself. The very thought of such a being tantalizes my fantasy. He was vast intelligence wedded to primal instinct with at times innocent reactions or emotions. Every single time a character opens up about his or her past I'm mesmerized by their stories. They take me back to other times and in the case of Taltos, to forgotten times. Anne Rice spins her own take on the history of the Picts, the creation of Stonehenge and historical England. Via Taltos I was shown a time in which he lived, what his customs and rituals were, how he encountered mankind and how he ultimately got cursed. I was completely absorbed again by the imaginative and at times such detailed storytelling! I was rapidly flipping the pages to discover more and in my queste to discover more I turned to be quite the gluttonous reader.

On the other hand I got a bit tired of the Talamasca. The slow disintegration of their duty to watch but never to interfere was evident. There was scheming within the Talamasca by individuals but I was done with all the scheming on their part. These three self-absorbed characters were annoying the daylights outta me. Before their introduction in Taltos I did not know them, their motivations contrived and they failed to add any suspense to the overall plotline. The Elders also irked me, I was to be believed they never came forward in moments of need and loss of structure. Or when a being of significant importance to their history was brought over, that they would not react. That they would choose to be forever cloaked in mystery. For me the dialogues and story development between Taltos and the Mayfairs was all that mattered. The Talamasca had lost its effect and function for me at a certain point in the story.

The arrival of Mona Mayfair in Lasher allowed the plot to thicken that much more in Taltos. She is a strong headed teenager and together with the spunky Mary Jane they added an exuberance with their antics and interactions. Both were quick witted and I instantly liked them. Even with things that were hard to swallow, such as the pregnancy, it wasn't an uncommon thing in the Mayfair family. Anne Rice has created a family with its own set of customs, rituals, habits and structure. They fascinated me to no end and it was this very factor that made me read on and on from the first page in The Witching Hour. All these woman, whether strong, normal or weak, they all came alive with their quirks. Many had an imperative part to play and I cherished them for it.

With the ending I found some closure but many questions are left unanswered. Perhaps this is what Anne Rice wanted, to leave many things to the imagination of the reader and it does fit the complete vibe of the storytelling. Still, with such an intense emotional investment in reading this trilogy I would've liked an ending that gives a bit more satisfaction. I'm left with questions and an image of resignation, that in the end the Mayfairs have been pawns in the larger scheme of things. While Michael and Rowena's gestures speak of approval, what did they think of the final moments? What is in store for them now? How will Mona deal with the decisions made? What did the Talamsca do with Tessa? Smaller story threads found a conclusion but the bigger picture is definitely left to the imagination of the reader. I stand divided about it, at one hand I find it completely fitting and at the other hand I wanted an ending that left me with the knowledge that after all this pain and strife the Mayfairs are in a good place. And I did not get that notion...

3.5 stars

Anne Rice on the www:
website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Buy @ BookDepo

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18 August 2011

Review: Anne Rice - Lasher

format: Hardcover, 577 pages
published: September 12th 1993 by Knopf
ISBN: 0679412956 (ISBN13: 9780679412953)
primary language: English
original title: Lasher
characters: Rowan Mayfair, Michael Curry, Lasher & Mona Mayfair
Series: Lives of the Mayfair Witches #2
Read from my personal library


The Talamasca, documenters of paranormal activity, is on the hunt for the newly born Lasher. Mayfair women are dying from hemorrhages and a strange genetic anomaly has been found in Rowan and Michael. Lasher, born from Rowan, is another species altogether and now in the corporeal body, represents an incalcuable threat to the Mayfairs. Rowan and Lasher travel together to Houston and she becomes pregnant with another creature like him, a Taltos. Lasher seeks to reproduce his race in other women, but they cannot withstand it. Rowan escapes and becomes comatose as her fully-grown Taltos daughter is born. The Mayfairs declare all-out war on Lasher and try to nurse Rowan back to heatlth.

Michael remains entwined in the Mayfair family and learns how he comes by his strange powers. Michael's ghostly visiting from a long-dead Mayfair reveals the importance of destroying Lasher. In the investigation, Lasher's origins are revealed, the new Taltos Emaleth returns, and the climax of death and life engulfs the family.

My Review

!!WARNING!! This review can contain spoilers if you haven't read The Witching Hour!!
In Lasher, Anne Rice immediately picks up where she left me in The Witching Hour. The first half of the story there are lots of events rapidly following each other. Of course things happen which are dark, which stretch the boundaries and speak of untold mysteries. Especially the erotic encounter between Michael and teenager Mona may go against the grain for some readers. The storytelling holds this fusion of distinctive, edgy characters in a strange situation that defies logic, which is all happening against the lush setting of New Orleans that ensnares me so. The vibe Anne Rice creates is unlike anything I have ever read! Michael, Rowan, Aaron, Lasher, Mona all come alive via this authors voice. I may not always understand their actions, I may not always agree with them but the affect me nonetheless.

As the title of this episode suggest the focus is on Lasher. Not only did I get his present but I also got his past. While he may have held me between love and hate for his persona in The Witching Hour, he has tipped that scale to hate in his own story. Even when he relays his own past he fails to redeem himself. And believe me, Anne Rice gradually laid all of him bare for me to take in. Weighing his past, his present, his feeling and his actions. But his actions are so self-served. The contempt Lasher shows for life and for the Mayfairs, the very people he claims to love and serve, is despicable. He uses them as he sees fit and it made him an SOB of the first order! I could only take in the strife and anguish he rained down on the Mayfairs in the hope he would get his comeuppance. He was truly one of those formidable adversary who makes me cheer for the other side.

Anne Rice keeps adding or deepening the backstory of the main cameo of characters. Especially all powerful Mayfair, Julien, has an important role to play. His life intrigued me so in The Mayfair Hour but it wasn't told in depth until now. Satisfying my everlasting curiosity. In the second half of the story she peels away layers of mystery and secrets in a more languid pace of storytelling. It weaves its own kind of magic with rich settings, various time periods and again the mesmerizing characters. The mythology behind this second story in The Mayfair Trilogy speaks to my imagination. I love Celtic lore and though I don't know if it is based on an actual lore, Anne Rice makes me believe it is so.

The Mayfair family have a lot to deal with but they also discover some truths about their own lineage. Michael, the tragic hero was a true Irish bleeding heart. His convictions and his love for Rowan burns fierce, even if he has his weak moment. I wanted him to succeed, to be reunited again because faults and all, he is a man who is the veritable rock in the ocean. I thought he could weather it all and through sheer tenacity could achieve his hearts desires. All the other characters tribute to Michael and Rowan's journey in one way or another. Even when Mona becomes a key characters in the future storyline, even with other Mayfair women paying a steep price, it is Michael and Rowan's love for each other that becomes a shining beacon amidst all the hurt, darkness and power play.

Lasher has quite a plan and part of the suspense is; will he succeed or not? There are three big parties involved, namely Lasher himself, the Talamsca and the Mayfairs. Each has an own agenda and wants to find out certain truths. And if they get in the way of one another, well violence is also a part of Anne Rice's storytelling. Casualties will fall but it only got me more emotionally invested and rooting for various characters. The Talamasca, for all that I knew about them, there was so much more I didn't! They definitely triggered my conspiracy button and I never trust them further then I can see them. They are just as much an integral part as the Mayfairs and Lasher but only till the end truths were revealed that shed a different light on the Talamasca. I may not like it but it gives fuel for thought and probably story # 3; Taltos.

With Lasher, Anne Rice gave me an attention grabbing story that takes me even deeper in to the world of the Mayfairs. It may not have made me eat, sleep and breathe the story like The Witching Hour did but it was a worthy successor!

4 stars

Anne Rice on the www:
website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Buy @ BookDepo

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17 August 2011

Review: Anne Rice - The Witching Hour

Format: Hardcover, 965 pages
Published: November 4th 2004 by Arrow (first published January 2nd 1985)
ISBN: 0099471426 (ISBN13: 9780099471424)
language: English
original title: The Witching Hour
series: Lives of the Mayfair Witches #1
characters: Rowan Mayfair, Michael Curry
setting: New Orleans, Louisiana (United States)
Read a copy from my personal library.


The first in the Mayfair Witches series, The Witching Hour introduces the fictional Mayfair family of New Orleans, generations of male and female witches. This tight-knit and deeply connected family, where a death of one strengthens the others with his/her knowledge. One Mayfair witch per generation is also designated to receive the powers of "the man," known as Lasher. Lasher gives the witches gifts, excites them, and protects them. Unsure as to exactly what this spirit is, the Mayfair clan knows him variously as a protector, a god-like figure, a sexual being, and the image of death. Lasher's current witch is Deirdre, who lies catatonic from psycological shock treatments.

Deirdre's daughter, Rowan, has been spirited away from this "evil" and has happily become a neurosurgeon and has an uncanny gift to see the intent behind the facade. Rowan also has a gift few doctors possess--she can heal cells. Yet, though she uses it to save lives, she also fears that she hs caused several deaths. She rescues Michael from drowning. Michael then develops some extraordinary powers that compel him to seek New Orleans and to seek Rowan. He finds both, and pulls the tale closer together by meeting people connected to the Mayfair family who now fear Rowan because she is the first Mayfair who can kill without Lasher's help.

Michael dives into learning the history of the Mayfair witches: Deborah, Charlotte, Mary Beth, Stella, Antha, and many others across hundreds of years and three continents. When Michael looks up from his reading, he learns that Rowan has come to New Orleans to attend her mother's funeral. Rowan learns of her family history, her ancestral home in shambles, and Lasher waiting for the next one. Rowan dedicates herself to stopping Lasher's reign. Michael too has his own mission, but it is foggy and unclear to him. But Lasher is seductively powerful and Rowan's gifts offer him the opportunity to achieve his ultimate goal.

My Review:

For four days I have been consumed by the imaginative force that Anne Rice contains. The Mayfairs are not a simple family saga. It is where the occult meets fascinating characters whom are manipulated by a spirit and are watched by a mysterious order. The Witching Hour is a twelve hundred page long story and it is divided up in four episodes. The first introduces some key characters and sets up the mystery. The second part takes us back how it all began and the readers bears witness of all that happened in the Mayfair family. The third part takes us back to the present where the romance between Michael and Rowan deepens. And the fourth part is where the plotline of Lasher culminates and gives birth to the second story in this trilogy.

Since this is such a monstrous length story it will take the endurance of a reader. The beginning might be confusing with its cameo of characters and it will take quite a few chapters to get a grasp of the storyline. This is why I loved the very gradual pace of the detailed storytelling. Anne Rice allowed me to accumulate to the extensive setup of this story. It all begins in New Orleans with Deidre Mayfair. The fact she is a shell of herself is a mystery to me and various characters relay their memories of her and "the dark-haired man". I instantly got the sense there was more to this man and my curiosity flared. Questions popped in my mind how Deidre got so doped up, sitting in her chair, day in and day out. What happened to her? Who was that man at her side and what was the Talamsca? Slowly but surely I got entangled by the sumptuous storytelling. There was a mystery to unravel and dark events to come to understand and surely Anne Rice courted my curiosity with it. I wanted to know how all the things were interconnected; how did the blooming romance between Michael Curry and Rowan fit in with all that happened in that house on first street New Orleans?

This is what the second episode did. It gave me the extensive history of the Mayfair witches. How they grew from one woman who did a ritual to a rich, powerful and extensive clan. I loved the attention to detail, the lush time periods and settings. Via the Talamsca, an order who observes all things occult, I got an intimate portrayal of each strong Mayfair witch. Their history goes from Ireland, to France, then a daughter flees to Saint Domingue and ultimately the Mayfairs end up in New Orleans. Deborah, Charlotte, Jeanne-Louise, Angelique, Marie-Claudette; each had their strength and weaknesses. The Talamasca's observations got an intimate twist when one of their own got involved with the Mayfair witches very early on. Anne Rice imbeds story twists of incest, of cultivating a family line that ultimate results in the strongest witch ever. It may not be for every reader but the dark twisted elements, the sometimes crazed characters, their flawed perception and actions just mesmerized me. Each new mystery, each account or personal experience led me deeper into the world of the Mayfairs.

I was fascinated by the distinctive voices of the characters, rekindling the past and present events. There were various point of views, from the Talamsca to the individual characters like Petyr van Abel, Aaron, Rowan, Michael, Carlotte. Ever so slowly each point of view construes a complete picture for me. Sometimes I seriously disliked a character for certain actions, like I did Carlotte Mayfair. Yet later on via her POV she sheds a different light on the matter. It doesn't make her more likeable but it gives me one more piece to fit in the puzzle. It also happened that I liked characters like Julien or Cortland but later on I was divulged of information that gave way to their dark side. I was fascinated by the multi-dimensional characterization. I feel like I'm barely touching upon the extensive cast of characters or all the major and minor story threads. The Witching Hour just swallowed me up whole and released me in awe. I was on edge, many things didn't seem what it was and often I felt like one of the Talamasca, slowly unraveling this enigmatic yet disturbing family. Their history is brimming with power play, the occult, violence, eroticism and the devilish scheming of one apparition. I was absorbed wholly and I had no objection to it.

While many characters come, play their part, and go, three characters are a constant for me. Aaron Lightner from the Talamsca whose pleasant demeanor and quiet strength instills trust. Michael Curry who was a restorer of old homes and a self-made millionaire. He is a charismatic and intelligent man who is very likable. Rowan Mayfair does not only have an indomitable will and has a logical mind, there is an ever present hint of danger that kept me on my toes. The third and fourth part bring me back to the present where Michael and Rowan's story continues, but while love burns bright I also got a sense of foreboding. There are atmospheric scenes that give of the subtle warning of an eerie danger. Because I now know the past I am forewarned and wonder. Lasher may not be a character who is much in the spotlight dialogue wise, his presence does have a profound effect on the characters and storyline. He is an unknown factor who amps up the tension what will happen with Rowan.

With that fourth part Anne Rice masterfully leads me to an ending where romance had its beautiful moments, where I cried out in anguish and I was sitting on the edge of my seat. I was so in to the story, in to the world this author created with all these colorful characters, I lived each moments with them. The intricate plotlines reach a pinnacle in The Witching Hour which is rife with torment and with finally knowing some definite answers. I knew there and then this story and these main characters would not let me go until I read both Lasher and Taltos as well. This is the magic of Anne Rice. She writes an absorbing tale I just have to see to the end, for better or worse! I know this author will give me much more darkness before there is some light. She'll make me step outside my boundaries, give me much more craziness but also a story that is so rich it will overwhelm all my reader senses.

Anne Rice doesn't give me conventional. Not in the characters, not in the romance, not in eroticism or in the plotlines. I was spellbound by it all from start to finish!

4.5 stars

Anne Rice on the www:
website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Buy @ BookDepo

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16 August 2011

Cooking With The Characters: Jude Marshall

Book Summary: Celebrity chef Jude Marshall's ditched his camera crew for the first time in a month—he's been eating his way through local cuisines on several continents for his television show. No spider-on-a-stick this trip, thank God. Jude's exhausted; all he wants on his London layover is a pint of beer and some comfort food. Stumbling into a gastro-pub, Jude instead finds haute cuisine; his grumbles bring him face to face with chef—and fan—Tommy Bell.

When Jude steps into the kitchen to autograph Tommy's copy of his cookbook, he finds himself lending a hand, and discovers it's possible to tenderize a hardened heart.

Cooking With:
This is PD Singer, taking the opportunity to visit in London. One of my stories is set here, and I thought I'd stop in to see how Tommy and Jude are doing. The pub smells good; wonder what they've cooked up tonight? Oh my goodness! Is that Tommy? I’m going to end up acting like a terrible fan girl. Control yourself, Pam!

"Hello, luv, welcome to the Good Man. I'm Tommy Bell."

"Hi!" Oh, he's cute! "Who's minding the kitchen?" Maybe Jude is cooking tonight?

"I didn't leave anything on the stove to burn, luv; the landlord does have to get about." His smile is so sweet.

"Is Jude...?"

"Sorry, he's filming in Spain."

"He's very photogenic." Mustn't drool over him, but every time I watch Jude Marshall Tastes I just want to run my fingers through his hair and pop tidbits in his mouth myself. Maybe Tommy thinks the same. Or does it. Stop imagining that, Pam!

Maybe Tommy's thinking about that too; he doesn't seem to be paying attention any more. I clear my throat a little, making him jump.

"Yes, he is. Sorry, luv, was drifting off there a bit. I do miss him when he's on location."
I bet he does. "Do you ever ask him to cook you some of the more bizarre dishes?"

"Oh dear no." I get the feeling Tommy would have said something much stronger if I wasn't a guest in his establishment. "He's brave or daft, I say. Lucky me, can't get scorpions to fry into the shrimp toasts from any purveyor here in London."

"This is a big city; I thought you could get just about anything?"

He cocks his head at me, letting me see the challenge in those blue eyes. "Perhaps so, I haven't inquired. Did you want one?"

"NO! I mean, no thank you." I mean, dear Lord in Heaven, I watch that show to see someone else eat strange and exotic things like that. "What does he like when he gets back?"

"Simple fare. Cleanses his palate, he says. No truffles, no fiery peppers or food that lives under stones. After a few days, he's eating anything that looks good. Or he's cooking something. He's brought home lots of ideas."

Whew, that was a safer question. Maybe I can ask Tommy something else that prompts that dreamy "thinking of Jude" look. "Do you have any of the dishes you do together on the menu tonight?"

"We do. Mmm..." Oh he's thinking of something they do together, all right. I should interrupt before he embarrasses himself in the dining area.

"Mmm?" My 'mmm' sounds a little different than his does; it's a rising note that asks him to finish the thought.

His eyes fly open again. "Ah, the Guinness-apple crumble. Special to me, that dish. It's the first Jude taught me new. Luscious. We'll have Imogen bring you some for pudding, shall we?"

"Please do." I know exactly why that dish is special, but mustn't tease him. Too much. "Isn't the show coming on soon?"

Tommy escorts me to a table with a view of the telly over the bar. "It's a repeat tonight." He glances up and the smile goes out of his voice. "Erm, one of the Thailand eppies. Are you sure?"

"Really, I want to watch." The theme song and credits are coming on. My food will be delicious and I can look at the other half of this couple, even if the episode was filmed a good year before Jude and Tommy met.

"Must run back to the kitchen now; ta, luv." Tommy leaves in a bit of a rush. Doesn't he want a glimpse of his absent lover? Then I understand. The camera is panning over Jude walking down a street crowded with vendors. One of them has a rack of spider-on-a-stick.

Jude and Tommy's Guinness-Apple Crumble

440ml (1 can) Guinness
180g (0.75c+2Tbsp) brown sugar
1Tbsp soft butter
9 tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced

For the crumble topping
65g (0.33c) sugar
45g (0.33c) all purpose flour
3Tbsp rolled oats
3Tbsp butter
100g (0.5c) grated Dubliner cheese or sharp cheddar (optional)

For the Caramel
Guinness cooking liquid (pour out of the baked crumble)
2 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 180C/350F; butter a baking dish.
Whisk together Guinness, sugar and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Put apple slices into the baking dish and pour the Guinness mixture over top. Dot the top of the apples with little pats of butter.

For the crumble:
Rub together the sugar, flour, oats, butter and a pinch of salt. Scatter over the apples and top with cheese. Bake for 60 minutes or until the cheese melts and the top is golden. Remove from the oven.

For the Caramel
Spoon off as much of the cooking liquid as possible into a saucepan. Over medium high heat reduce the liquid by half, stirring occasionally. Stir butter into the thickened liquid. Let cool slightly before serving. Note: if you skip the cheese, the cooking liquid reduces more and you may not have enough for this step. It's yummy anyway.

Jude and Tommy make this in individual oven-proof dishes dishes and reserve part of the Guinness at the beginning for the caramel. Reduce cooking time to 45 minutes for smaller dishes.


Author Info: PD Singer lives in Colorado with her slightly bemused husband, two rowdy teenage boys, and thirty pounds of cats, all of whom approach carefully when she's in a writing frenzy. She's a big believer in research, first-hand if possible, so the reader can be quite certain PD has skied down a mountain face-first, been stepped on by rodeo horses, acquired a potato burn or two, and will never, ever, write a novel that includes sky-diving.

When not writing, playing her fiddle, or skiing, she can be found with a book in hand. Her husband blesses the advent of ebooks -- they're staving off the day the house collapses from the weight of the printed page.

Follow the adventures of PD Singer
website | Buy Prep Work

For a very brief time you can still win Prep Work @ Chris' place Stumbling Over Chaos. Contest closes 7 pm CDT, Tuesday, August 16!!

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15 August 2011

Cooking With The Characters; Max Lunden

Thank you so much to Leontine for having me here! I love the idea behind Cooking with the Characters—the only problem for me was deciding which characters and which recipe to feature. My newest contemporary romance release, Too Hot to Touch, is all about a talented kitchen crew about to enter the biggest challenge of their careers—the Rising Star Chef competition.

The hero of Too Hot to Touch has been wandering the world for the past ten years, searching for inspiration and picking up exotic culinary techniques. He’s made his living by winning culinary competitions—but until he comes home to help his family’s restaurant enter the RSC, he’s never had to work on a team before.

And he’s definitely never had to work with the major distraction of a smokin’ hot, tough-yet-vulnerable, utterly irresistible teammate like Jules Cavanaugh…

Nothing is more important to Jules than family—probably because she grew up wishing she had one, and envying the Lunden boys down the block. Over the course of the book, she reminds Max of what really matters in life, and helps him to overcome the issues with his father that drove him to leave home a decade ago.

And she also helps Max see that maybe what he was searching for all that time, all over the world, was right in his own backyard all along…

The following snippet is from a scene late in the book, where Max and the Lunden’s Tavern team are racing to complete their dishes before the timer rings.

It was down to the wire.

Of course it was; in every competition Max had ever entered, it always came down to those final few seconds and the ability to power through the panic and get his dish done.
The difference was that in every other competition, he’d been on his own.
In some ways, that had been a blessing. At least when he was alone, he only had to worry about disappointing himself with his own screw-ups.

But when a chef from another team crashed into Danny and made him drop his pan of melted chocolate, spattering everyone around him and wasting a good half hour of work, Max didn’t have time to decide if it was an ideal time to let his tenderloin rest and marinate—he ran to the rescue.

Luckily, the meat was fine when he got back to it after helping his brother crush what felt like seven hundred bars of bittersweet chocolate. In fact, the time away from his cutting board had brought the steak up closer to room temperature, which would help it cook more evenly, and had allowed the miso, soy, and sake marinade to sink in even further.

Standing over his cutting board, Max nearly swooned as he inhaled the clean, earthy scent. The complex sweetness of the miso and the delicate floral fragrance of the sake took him straight back to Japan, while the underlying smell of the beautifully butchered, bright red, high quality raw beef was the scent of his childhood.

He closed his eyes and took a moment to wish Gus Lunden could be there to see and taste this dish.

I think you’d actually like what I’ve done with your old recipe, Dad.

GIVEAWAY: If you want to find out whether Max’s tenderloin helps his team win the challenge, pick up a copy of Too Hot to Touch! Or comment below for a chance to win a free signed copy (ends 8-22-2011)

Here’s the recipe Max makes! You can find it, along with two others, in the back of Too Hot to Touch.

Max’s Miso-Glazed Tenderloin of Beef
For the beef:
2 ½ lb beef tenderloin
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon neutral oil, like grapeseed or canola
For the glaze:
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon yuzu juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup black cherry jam
1 tablespoon miso paste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pat the tenderloin dry, then salt and pepper it all over.

Combine all the glaze ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth and thick.

Melt the butter and grapeseed oil in a roasting pan over medium high heat. When the butter has stopped frothing, put the tenderloin in the pan. Brown it on all sides, about ten minutes, regulating the heat so that it doesn’t scorch or stick.

Brush the tenderloin with half of the glaze, then put the pan in the oven and roast for fifteen minutes. At that point, check the meat and apply the rest of the glaze. Roast to desired level of doneness, about fifteen to twenty more minutes for medium rare.

Allow the meat to rest for at least five minutes before slicing and serving.

Louise Edwards on the www
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14 August 2011

Coming up: A new feature, a b-day release fest & more…

I’ve been through the hellish adventure this week where my PC crashed and burned *cries* It was on a Monday, my brother was coming to reinstall my PC due to an error caused by my new video card. He tried installing it once, twice and pronounced PC dead three hours later. Since I have lots happening on my blog coming weeks I was freaking out…and it wasn’t pretty! The hunt for a shiny new PC was a success but my PC is too new. I still have to get used to the new operating system, browsers, programs etc. IE9 doesn’t play nice with Blogger so we had to get creative *sigh* I think I need some chocolate therapy now! Anyhoo, here I am, typing up a storm on my new PC and wanted to announce what’s coming up on my blog.

A new feature:
Since this year me fondness for baking has warped in to the zone of LURVING to bake and foody romance has found a way in to my reading world. When I read Inez Kelley’s Sweet As Sin a moment of inspiration hit me. Wouldn’t it be fun to cook recipes with the characters from their story? That’s when the title; ‘Cooking With The Characters’ came to me. I have found a few authors who wanted to kick off this new feature.

Monday, August 15th: Louise Edwards – Max Lunden has got Max’s Miso-Glazed Tenderloin of Beef on the menu for us & a giveaway.

Tuesday, August 16th: PD Singer – Prep Work celebrity chef Jude Marshall will learn us the ropes to make, Jude and Tommy's Guinness-Apple Crumble *nom nom*

Friday, August 26th: Kelly Maher - chef, Liana Richardson has a tasty summer salad in mind for us.

Friday, September 2nd: Inez Kelley -  A surprise treat from Sweet As Sin!

A Beefcake Club Night:
After a week where the taste buds are seduced to greater heights I have the pleasure of having a dirty talkin’ rocker over for Beefcake night. This means celebrating an awesome guy, a fantastic story and some sizzling dirty talk! As part of Lauren Dane's Never Enough blog tour Adrian Brown and I had a Q & A which I just loved doing! There is an awesome giveaway attached next to getting the 411 on Adrian so stay tuned and be there on August 22nd 2011!

A b-day release fest:
As it so happens I will be celebrating my *whispers35thwhipsers* birthday on August 23rd. There will be virtual champagne, cake and chocolate! But as I was writing my birthday wishlist I noticed what awesome books will be released that day. I had to share them with you all!

A mammoth trilogy -> The Mayfair Witches:
Two weeks ago I picked up my copy of The Witching Hour. It was rather on impulse so I can’t give you any reason why I wanted to read a thousand page story. I read this trilogy in the Dutch translation like ten years ago and I remembered how absorbed I was by its characters. From those initial chapters it was happening all over again. I was being grabbed and swallowed whole by the crazy lives of the characters and their history. I read the complete trilogy in one week, that’s roughly twenty-two hundred pages. Quite a feat for me if I say so myself!! I will have back to back reviews of each story; The Witching Hour, Lasher & Taltos coming up this week.

Reviews of Lauren Dane’s Never Enough & Kele Moon’s Finding Eden are also to be expected ASAP!!

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