Review: Blue Lights and Boatmen- A Swamp Bottom Novella by Cora Kenborn and KA Ware

Blue Lights and Boatmen (Swamp Bottom Novella #4)Blue Lights and Boatmen by K.A. Ware

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 Let’s Hear It For The Boys Stars for Blue Lights and Boatmen

“Men are famous for claiming that women talk too much. Zep and Pope got their own book, and it ended up being the longest out of all the Swamp Bottom series, thus far. Just sayin’.” – These are the first words you will read as you open this book. You know, the opening quote that has been a trend in books pretty much since books were written. To kind of set the tone or theme or whatever for the book. More often than not, I have to admit they are pompous and pretentious, or just confusing, or whatever. This, however, was absolutely perfect – like everything else in this book and series. I was laughing as soon as I read it, and this was all it took to remind me why I so anxiously await each volume of the series. Ms. Kenborn and Ms. Ware have created the perfect RomCom series that will take you straight into the Bayou. The Dubois girls captured my heart and imagination within the first few pages of Front Porches and Funerals, and I don’t see them letting go anytime soon.

FB_IMG_1498016561700

So, as the opening line of this volume and this review state, we are finally hearing from those long suffering men who are head over heels in love with Addie and Savvy. I might have, needlessly, hesitated for just a moment as I let it sink in that their points of view might change…I don’t know…something…about the magic of the series. I should have known it could only enhance. I think I was worried I wouldn’t get my Babs fix. No issues there either. One of my favorite scenes in the book involves Babs and BamBam “inviting” Pope and Zep to a Dubois Family barbecue. Another favorite is when Babs crashes Zep and Addie’s dinner with Zep’s mom – who, in my mind, is referred to as Babs Junior. I am looking forward to getting to see more of her in future books. Her grasp of the English language may be a bit better (though Babs’ misinterpretations continue to be a joy) but she is a complete hoot as well.

FB_IMG_1498016551946

Both couples hit some major bumps in this book that I can’t wait to see play out. Zep and Addie’s bump has the potential to be huge. I am trying to remember how many novellas this series was stated to be, because I am a bit sad to think we may be halfway through. This series has been a highlight of my reading year. The serial format is working perfectly; these ladies are doing a great job getting these out approximately every six weeks. Long enough to make us anxiously anticipate, but not so long to lose interest or need to go back and reread before the next book comes out (though I am positive when, sadly, it is all done, I will reread this series many times.)

FB_IMG_1498016573539

There is just a very special chemistry here. Every character has so much personality that hops off the page and makes you think this is the story of the crazy friends you haven’t seen for a while but sorely miss and will never forget. The chemistry between the characters is off the charts – not just the romantic chemistry, but the chemistry in every relationship; between the sisters, between the guys who have fallen for them, between each sister and the other’s boyfriend, between their cousin and…everyone, and the force of nature who is the girls’ grandmother. They are the perfect storm all the way around, and I love being in the vortex for a few hours every month or so.

Beyond my highest recommendations- if you haven’t fallen yet, one click Front Porches and Funerals and dive in right now.

View all my reviews

tmp_19405-5-star-review-2116141450

Some Favorite Quotes

☆☆☆PLEASE NOTE-NOT APPROPRIATE FOR ALL AUDIENCES☆☆☆

 

 

☆☆☆☆☆☆

“Two hours of absolute torture that no person on the planet should be subjected to. Two hours of sitting across the table from my father, listening to all the ways I’d screwed up my life in the most polite and condescending way imaginable.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

“When a son defends another woman over his mother it can’t be anything but forever.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” However, since the breakthrough of her admission of wanting me two weeks ago and us fucking like Viagra-spiked crack rabbits, she held something back.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” My mother either wanted to prove a point or feed Bourbon Street. Either way, my need to take care of her usually met with a middle finger and a story about a cow needing to chew her own grass. Whatever the fuck that meant.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

“They were douche wagons at their finest with mini truck nuts swinging off the back and an enormous chrome grill that, when reflected off sunlight, could easily set fire to small children and the elderly.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” She didn’t like to admit to making mistakes, and the last ten years of her life had been a big one. I had to show her that the next fifty with me would be what her life should’ve been.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” Adelaide Dubois had some type of pussy voodoo hold over me I couldn’t explain. When I’d run into her sister on the side of the highway in that fucking ugly ass Tit-van so many months ago, Addie had no choice at that point. I could be a relentless motherfucker when I wanted something. And I’d wanted her. For thirteen goddamn years.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” Focusing on the road and having phone sex with your girlfriend was like trying to wrestle an alligator and play a game of chess at the same time.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” I crept into the kitchen where the sounds of her off-key singing told me I’d find her. She was awful. She was talented and artistic in so many other ways, but her singing voice would make William Hung cringe.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” That was the strangest figure of speech I’d ever heard, then again; I had met their grandmother and probably shouldn’t be surprised.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” she wore the more horrified gaze of a hillbilly at a debutante ball.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” While most moms enjoyed ladies’ groups and social niceties, my mother got no greater joy in life than turning a room uncomfortable and fucking with people’s heads.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” She was about eighteen months pregnant with twins. I had never seen a belly that big, it looked like the babies might burst out of her Alien style.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

” Once I managed to disengage from Princess Placenta, I went in search of Savannah.”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

“Hey, you got a guy, Savannah?” Savannah didn’t miss a beat. “Why, would you like to double date with yours?”

☆☆☆☆☆☆

FB_IMG_1497917066054

 

 

Review: Transparent by Joy Eileen

TRANSPARENTTRANSPARENT by Joy Eileen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adore Joy Eileen’s Jackholes series; I was lucky enough to stumble upon it shortly after the publication of the first book, and can’t wait for more of those boys, especially D. Then again, anyone who has read my reviews knows what an obsession I have with rockstars. I have had Transparent on my kindle for some time, but admittedly, I was a bit torn because paranormal just really isn’t my thing. But the basic premise had me intrigued from the moment I read the blurb.

Morley (what a lovely, unique name – well suited to this lovely, unique heroine) is a self admitted bit of a hermit, who loves her job at Art – an art gallery she was blessed to have been offered a job at shortly before she graduated with a degree in art history. She has a wonderful relationship with the gallery owner, who is a bit of a father figure perhaps to this girl who was orphaned at 18 and had her heart shredded by a most unworthy man shortly thereafter. She thinks she is satisfied with her lonely existence, she has a career and a home she loves, even if she despises the busy body HOA queen who lives next door (and gives her endless grief over her choice of painting her front door red – a nod to the past when a red door had nothing to do with prostitution and everything to do with welcoming weary travelers.)

In unloading a high dollar shipment at Art, she finds herself unexplainedly drawn to a portrait of an 19th century Lord. The owner notices her interest and convinces her you take it as a gift, as he claims it has no real value in comparison to the rest of the shipment and will wind up in storage if she doesn’t take it to her meticulously decorated sanctuary. The fact that the man in the portrait looks like everything she has ever wanted in a man, she gives in. Through a series of typically hysterical events and mishaps and such (Ms. Eileen’s humor always makes me laugh- “I didn’t remember turning the TV on. Maybe the cat accidentally stepped on the remote. That would have been a very plausible explanation, if I owned a cat.” is just one of many literal laugh out loud moments for me….too bad the others stuck in the emergency room waiting room as I read were not as amused.) Morley eventually has to admit the man of her dreams, that gorgeous hunk in the painting, really is talking to her…is responsible for the sudden chills following her.

As I said, paranormal is not my thing, but Joy Eileen’s writing style certainly is. There are parts of this story that are almost too relatable for me…at 25, I was that recluse that spent all my energy on my career, and had that bff, much like Morley’s Heather, who would almost literally drag me out once in a while. Luckily my neighbors were quite the opposite of the aptly named Mrs. Crabington, in the form of my nearly life long male best friend and his roommate who quickly became another friend. If nothing else, I could count on them to raid my refrigerator and make sure my leftovers never went to waste (and I just had to cross the sidewalk if I needed company, or anything else – the roommate was a nurse who may have saved my life one night by rushing me to the hospital he worked at. But I have gone well beyond a slight digression here…) I also had picked up a print of a long haired warrior at a Renaissance Festival in college, who starred in more of my fantasies and dreams than I care to admit to – maybe that explains my draw to the storyline despite my distaste of paranormal. Whatever the reasons may be, I am certainly glad I was willing to put my narrow-minded genre snob tendencies aside and delve into this one.

Without spoilers, the ending was perhaps a bit much to wrap my head around fully, but isn’t that a hallmark of fantasy? And how much more hypocritical could I be to embrace all the rockstar story
lines I don’t discredit, no matter how unrealistic they are, but criticize a paranormal book – a genre that never claims realism – for being over the top? I can’t do it. I pride myself on not meandering into spoiler territory in my reviews, so I am not comfortable sharing much about the story line itself, but real or just an old painting, Lord Alexander has an undeniable magnetism. Morley does too.

I surprised myself greatly as I searched the waiting room for tissues. As much as I would like to blame it on the nasty summer allergy weather (and these jaded eyes rarely leak) but I did discretely work my way through quite a number of tissues. At least as many as my equally embarrassing inappropriate outbursts of laughter. Some incredibly executed sexy scenes keep this squarely in 18 + age categories, but beyond that, it gets my highest recommendations, even for those like me who aren’t PNR fans. I fins myself hoping for a bit more of their story sometime down the road.

View all my reviews

tmp_19405-5-star-review-2116141450

Release Day! LB Dunbar’s The History in Us

Cover Design: Shanoff Formats

Release Date: June 2, 2017

Synopsis

Are you a hero yet?
Her words rang in my head.
I wanted to be.
For you, I want to be, I told her in my dream, the dream where she kissed me again.

A hero-worthy kiss.

Stay safe, she had said. Come back to me.
My lips tingled.
The brush of hers over mine a memory held in the blackest of night,
the hottest of desert days,
and the cold-evil hell of war against hidden enemies.

I wanted another chance to taste those lips,
melt them against mine,
and mold her body to me.
I wanted to live.
For Katie.
Read More

Review: Substitute Boyfriend by Jade C Jamison

tmp_15811-51iyrmj9i4l1322904420

Substitute Boyfriend by Jade C. Jamison

Jade C Jamison is, admittedly, one of my favorite authors.   Her Bullet Rockstar Romance series is one of the best ones out there, not just because it spawned my favorite book boyfriend,  but because of the depths of emotion and the gritty realism I could relate to entirely too well.  Eventually I also read her Nicki Sosebee series, which is romantic suspense, and her standalones,  including Finger Bang, which Substitute Boyfriend is a spinoff of.  It is not necessary to read FB first, but it is a fun and cute read.

I am not entirely sure what I was expecting from Substitute Boyfriend, but I didn’t expect the deep revelations I am still digesting that came to me as I read this one.  I will get to that in a few, but first, I have to say that this was a fantastic quick read on so many levels.  Fun, quirky, SEXY, and actually, incredibly romantic to me.  At first glance, and probably never to some who dwell on fairytale romance, it might not seem that, but once again, Ms. Jamison has snuck up and sucker punched me with a story that hits home.

Beth/Lizzie/Eliza is an English professor at a community college by day, and, unbeknownst to all closest to her, an author of erotic romance by night.  Worried that her ability to write sexy scenes could become repetitive, with alcohol added courage, she has found Ridley,  her pretend boyfriend, to help her work out details – to “test drive” some of the ideas she comes up with for her fictional characters, just to make sure that they could realistically work.  This situation has worked for some time with her bad boy pretend boyfriend, but she begins to wonder if she would ever be able to toss the pretend part of the moniker, though she realizes Ridley has plenty of all too human (as opposed to fantastic book boyfriends) flaws, and very little in common outside of their unconventional relationship.  Though I will vehemently defend that guys and girls can be platonic friends, I will also say that I think it would be nearly impossible to set up a template like Beth has with Ridley and not wonder about more, no matter how different they are.

When Ridley tells her he has plans for a night when she calls last minute, she decides to go out to the bar she first met him in.  She wasn’t completely shocked to see him there with another woman, but it hurt, nonetheless.   This spurs our introduction to her best friend, Roman.  Roman is a pysch professor at the same community college she teaches at, and they have conversations that turn lunches into all afternoon affairs, they are concert buddies, they occasionally even work out together, and generally keep each other sane in their shared workplace insanity.  She has never thought of him as more than a friend, though she admits he is a good looking guy, probably to preserve the best friendship she has ever had.

She runs to Roman after the Ridley humiliation, and finally shares her alter ego with her friend, and the entire pretend boyfriend situation.  He suggests a substitute for the pretend boyfriend, and get your fan ready for a HOT ride to come.  Enjoy every moment of it!  The only possible complaint I could have about this one is that I want more!  This one will definitely be read again; there is simply too much I loved about it.

And sometime down the road we can have a long conversation about where women get the horribly misguided idea that their boyfriends shouldn’t be their friends….

Obviously for a mature audience only for explicit sexual content.

fb_img_1487096386661

If you need a little mood music to go along with this one, go with one of my all time favorite cover songs, Great White’s Substitute.

Review: The Promises We Keep by RCMartin

tmp_16683-index113386286

The Promises We Keep

by RC Martin

I have been a fan of RC Martin’s since I found out about her novella, Encore Worthy, her first foray into rockstar romane, which my readers will know is where my passion lies.  I had read one or two of her Made for Love series, but decided it was well past time I start at the beginning and work through them all.  Ever feel like things happen for a reason?  Years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea, until I really started reflecting on my relationship with the man who has been my husband for the last 6.5 years.   After meeting him on my 21st birthday and reconnecting after a series of recurring dreams, fate became harder to resist, but I digress.  The point is that I have known about this book for over a year, but just now got around to reading it, and I am pretty positive that fate had a hand in that.

Though this book is about college students, and age group that I am further removed from than I would care to admit, that brings with it messages that are much more timeless. I guess I may be in the midst of a mid-life crisis (no matter how I try to tell myself that I am much too young for such a term to apply – the years truly do go faster and faster as life goes on.)  I have known for some time that something is missing, and I have even admitted that part of that is the way I have unwittingly wound up further from my spiritual center than I have ever been, even though things in my past would have realistically taken me there at least 2 other times in my younger years.   Somehow when I finally found some inner peace and belief in myself, even though I was facing physical hardships, I drifted without even  really realizing it.  This book is what I would consider a contemporary Christian romance.  While faith has a place in all of RC’s books that I have read, it is more of a central part of this book.  Those aspects truly screamed at me at this moment in my life.

I haven’t read any other reviews of this book, intentionally,  though that is out of the norm for me as I sit to write my review.  I am guessing any negative reviews say that it is hard to follow.  I really did not struggle with that, but because it serves to introduce many characters who will show up in later books in the series, and because the book mainly focuses on the relationships of twin sisters, I can understand.  Personally,  I quickly followed her transitions, and came to appreciate it as a whole.  The only part I struggled with,  at least early on, is the tendency of one twin to give everyone nicknames.  That becomes easier as the story goes on, but if you are reading it as a light, quick read it could be quite confusing.  I don’t feel this book is one that should be read in that manner, but I realize that each reader sees things differently, and I can admit that there are reasons that the romance genre is often looked down upon, as if it is not a true form of literature.  I will save that debate for another time, but I have to say that there is so much more than romantic fluff going on with this one.

Spirituality,  Christianity,  letting God into your life – letting Him guide, are wildly important themes throughout this book, and it delves deeply into how that relationship drives our 4 main characters, and at least one secondary.  Each has a different history, vastly different in the case of the male characters, but all are driven by their spiritual beliefs and relationships with God.  The girls, being twins, are a bit more similar, but since they are in very different places in their romantic relationships, their differences are highlighted in that way.

Being a generation beyond college age, I can’t say with any certainty how common their beliefs and attitudes are in this day and age, but I found them to be very refreshing.  I was raised with the attitude that religion is not to be a topic of conversation among friends, and not considering my church friends to truly be my close friends except for a few years in my 30’s,  it is foreign territory to me.  Again, very refreshing, but thoroughly foreign at the same time.

Beckham and Addison have been together for 5 years, and are deeply in love, but he finds himself in an extremely anxious state over the idea of marriage.  After a talk with his father, he decides the only way to overcome his trepidation is to take a temporary break from Addie.   This is a deeply spiritual journey for him, and though it breaks Audie’s heart, as she does not understand (and honestly, he doesn’t fully understand either) it becomes a spiritual journey for her as well.  Both try to sort their feelings in journals,  and it all just clicked for me even though I had trouble understanding Beck’s mindset as well.  It did prompt me to purchase and start a journal myself, for the first time in 20 years or so, but, in only two days, I am understanding completely the concept there.  Avery and Grayson have a completely opposite relationship.  Though both are crazy about each other, neither believes that the other is into them.  The “breakup” of Addy and his best friend somehow spurs Gray to finally make a move, and their being a couple pleases all of their friends almost as much as it does the happy couple themselves  Gray’s broken past causes some issues from time to time, especially leaving him feeling he is not good enough for Ave.  That is certainly relatable Forrester me, and I would guess to almost everyone.  Avery has her own issues, feeling she is too plain send inexperienced for the star quarterback.

 

In her pain, Addison finds herself in a yoga class taught by a very handsome man, who becomes a close dried after she breaks down in tears during the first several classes she attends.  He also happens to be the hot new bartender at the restaurant/bar she and her best friend, Sarah work at (the one Sarah has gone on and on about).  One of the things I found most charming about Roman was the way he unapologetically told her that I would be praying for her; whether it was her thing or not, it was his.  From reading other books in the series I know who both Sarah and Roman wind up with, but it was really fun . See these other sides of each of them.  I am most definitely looking forward to Romans book, as “His person” has a secondary part in this book as well, and I can’t wrap my head around the two of them together.  Roman’s sister, Daphne, is another character I look forward to getting to know batter.  (For the revord, I absolutely love Sarah’s book – which I am almost positive is book 3.)

Though I am not shy about admitting I am a Christian,  I usually avoid reading “Christian fiction”, especially of the romance genre.  I chose to read this book based on a enjoyment of RC Martin’s other books, not realizing what a large part faith would play in this one.  I will admit that the timing, for me, was perfect, but I will stand by the quality of the book, regardless of the Christian theme.

This book can probably be considered YA, in spite of a couple of scenes that would tip the scales toward NA.  The extremely well written sexy time scenes I adore in other works of Ms. Martin’s are all but absent in this one, as is foul language.  This book gets very high recommendations from me, even realizing that, for me, this is largely a case of “right book, right time” for me.  I KNOW, without a doubt, that this one will stick with me for a long time to come, and will quite likely be one of those very, very rare for me, books that I will almost certainly re-read.

☆☆☆☆☆

5 Spiritually Enlightening Stars

Cain: Paradise Found by LB Dunbarŕŕ

CAIN-BLOGTOURBANNER

Grab this hot MMA fighter today!

CAINcover

Blurb:

“I hate that I love you,” she said. “You left me.”

“I lost you, there’s a difference. Now that I found you, I intend to keep you.”

Lost.

I’d tasted the sweetest fruit of temptation, and I wanted another bite. I had promised myself before, but once wasn’t enough. The savory flavor of her lingered long after I’d lost her. Contending with the pressure to return to the fight, in order to prove myself to my father and the world, I had to let her go.

Found.

It has been a year. Sofie Vincentia and I had played a dangerous game. For one night, we pretended, only to discover our farce was real. I’d lost her, but I hadn’t stopped searching, hoping for her return. I was used to getting what I wanted, so when she didn’t come to me, I had to go after her. This would be the greatest fight of my life.

CAIN-LIVE-promo

BUY NOW

US: http://amzn.to/1Tgy1Ya
iTunes: http://apple.co/1RKTyrd
B&N: http://bit.ly/1RPexMP
KOBO: http://bit.ly/1Y1mL2J

CAINteaser1

CAINteaser2

Start the series now!
Abel is now available!

ABEL_cover

BUY NOW

US: http://amzn.to/1swfeiC
iTunes: http://apple.co/1WIUKjT
B&N: http://bit.ly/1U5VPxS
KOBO:  http://bit.ly/1VexM2f

About the Author:

LB_pic

I’d love to say I’ve written for 10,000 hours, and that makes me a pro. But I can’t say that. What I can say is I had a story in my head that wouldn’t go away. I thought typing it in my computer would be the end of things, but it only led to another story and another. I love reading, so characters in my head isn’t something new. What is new is my creation of them. Hope you enjoy my favorites as much as I do. Happy reading!

Connect with LB!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lbdunbarauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lbdunbarwrites
Web: http://www.lbdunbar.com

11057920_1042148559132014_7545520316668954402_oReview from LaDonna’s Book Nook

I fell in love with Ms. Dunbar’s style in her spectacularly written and highly engaging Legendary Rock Stars series.  That series is a modernization of the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table legends.  Such a brilliant concept and so well executed.  I can’t deny the author’s assertion that if King Arthur was a product of the 2000’s, he would most definitely be a rock star!  But I digress, this review is about the Cobra, Cain Callahan.  I guess my actual purpose of the introduction reflecting on the reasons Cain and his brother Abel kept getting pushed down my TBR.  My To Be Read list numbers close to the thousands these days – there are simply so many books that catch my interest and make me feel I just have to read them, and sincerely hope to read them all someday, regardless of any physical impossibility of getting to every last one.  and these numbers don’t include the books by the overflowing handful of authors I beta read for, the ones I have signed up to review for other blogs, and those I have agreed to for my own two blogs.  Yes, I am fully aware it is more than a bit of an addiction, but there are many personally fulfilling reasons for me to embrace all things books.  But back to Cain….

Though I absolutely adore LB’s writing style, I wasn’t quite as excited about reading a series about MMA fighters.  I actually used to watch MMA some, mostly with my dear friend I lost a number of years ago to a rare form of cancer.  That actually may have been part of my reluctance.  But after the first chapter or two of Paradise Tempted: The Beginning (which I highly recommend reading first) I was kicking myself for waiting so long.  It was everything one could hope for in a romance, and so much more.

Let’s focus on Cain, as that is the book we are celebrating here, but more than that, I would like to discuss a bit about the man, The Cobra, Cain Callahan himself.  Ms. Dunbar has outdone herself on this character.  There are more sides to the main character, this hero, than there are wrong ways to solve a Rubik’s Cube (I don’t really care how much that remark ages me.  It is an iconic puzzle of pure frustration.  Seems appropriate for our Cain.)  Seldom has a character shown so many different sides of himself, and evrn more seldom has a character drawn out more emotions in me, especially of the motherly kind.  I am a mother, I love being a mother (okay, I have two teenagers, we could make that the large majority of the time.)  But there are a couple of directions I can go from this statement that made those feelings quite surprising and alien to me.  First, I don’t particularly see myself as one of those women who has that motherly instinct on overdrive.  Beyond my two, it is rare.  Just not in my DNA to want to be a surrogate mother to all I come across.  But, if not more importantly, at least more topically, I feel we mothers who read romances do so to escape our real lives.  I don’t particularly want to feel my motherly instincts kick in while I am reading (unless, perhaps, there is a puppy involved.  Then all bets are off for obvious reasons.  Because…puppies.)  I didn’t mind it a bit in Cain’s case though.  Such a big tough guy who felt so broken on the inside – it was nearly impossible not to cheer for him, and convince him of his worth outside of the ring.  I am measuring my words very carefully as I don’t want to tread too closely to spoiler territory, but this man is just such a loveable, complex enigma.  I tend to like my men with a more lithe, runner’s body, but it certainly wasn’t a big stretch to see him as an attractive man.  I would have to say his internal struggles are where his true beauty lies though.  Don’t get me wrong, he could be a spoiled brat with the best of them, and at times he could be as clueles as any man ever to walk the earth in action that his heart was in the right place.  He was a very unique character to me in many ways, and most definitely one I will not forget soon.

And then there is Sofie.  She is also a one of a kind character that I had no trouble falling in love with.  Such a sweet girl, so devoted to the family she has left, and to her studies to eventually become a doctor.  She has a wonderfully romantic side that she keeps well hidden most of the time, and self doubts that also brought out those dreaded motherly instincts.  She could be quite a dichotomy at times as well, but overall I found myself quickly adoring her, and though I may not have always completely agreed with her actions, I could certainly understand them.

Her grandparents’ vineyard and getaway for the rich and famous was almost a character in and of itself, and I found myself longing for it to be a real place that I could add to that bucket list I will one day compose.  It was so well described, especially the area Sofie referred to as Eden.  I think we all could use a little r & r in this version of Eden.  And Sofie’s great grandfather….I simply could not get enough of him!  He was such a, well, character!  I am sure he has plenty of stories from his many years to tell, and I, for one, would fight my way to be at his knee as he shared them.

Cain’s family, on the other hand, with the exception of brother Abel, certainly will not leave you with any warm and fuzzy feelings.  The boys’ father is one of the most vile villians I have come across in the romance genre.  Completely despicable is the nicest thing I can say about that man, but it is still a tribute to Ms. Dunbar’s writing skills to have created a character that brings out such deep emotion in me, even if they are all negative.

I haven’t even mentioned the deliciously steamy scenes.  This is an area I feel Ms. Dunbar has always excelled at, so I will just say that these live up to the high standards she has set in her previous works.  A+ work without a doubt.

My very highest recommendations, obviously.

Book Review: Killing Matt Cooper by John Cassian

Engrossing Explicit Novella

September 2, 2013

index

Killing Matt Cooper – Amazon Buy Link

First thing I would warn, if the synopsis is not enough, this is a very sexually and violently explicit novella. Definitely for mature audiences only, and for audiences that are not upset by explicit subject matter.

This was a very quick read, but I could not put it down. I can’t honestly say I liked it due to the brutal and disturbing nature, but it was most certainly very engrossing.

I have read several reviews complaining about repetition, but I have to say that didn’t bother me in the slightest during the read. I don’t know how much of that is that it fit with the story and how much of that was just the train wreck quality of the story; you just cannot help but continue to read and watch the carnage unfold.

As with all my favorite thrillers, it left many unanswered questions to the imagination. I would love to know more about Kathleen, and how truly similar to our staring killer she is. There are so many ways this story could go from the unfinished ending we were left with. I know other reviewers have complained about this as well; to me that is one of the things that draws me to psychological thrillers – I honestly do not like them to wrap everything up in a neat little bow in the last couple of paragraphs or pages.

Overall, very well written, very engrossing and leaves much food for thought on many levels.

****** Entering spoiler territory: [ I did not know what to think when “Knight” started dropping names to “Kathleen” – it bothered me with the first one, after I read the back story of Matt Cooper I found myself flipping back to find out just what he had told her about him. I could see that it could still perhaps be salvaged on some level as professional, but there was no way this super sharp FBI profiler is not going to look into that name whether out of personal or professional curiosity. When he drops his LOVES name as well, it seems he is determined for her to figure him out. Another question remaining with me about Kathleen herself – is she also a serial killer hiding behind her profession? This is something I found myself really, really wanting to know. Onto a more negative, I found myself extremely disappointed to find that his LOVE was never really his love, especially after the explicit way that he handles his victims. I guess it makes a deranged kind of sense in the way that any serial killer can make any deranged kind of sense, but I did find it a bit of a letdown. Which may make it brilliant within itself. ]  End spoiler. ******

Final thoughts on this: I will definitely be looking for more from this author when looking for truly dark and twisted reads.

As this is noted as a dark, erotic thriller, it is for mature, 18+ audiences only.  Potential triggers for explicit violence and some sexual situations.

I recieved a gift copy in exchange for an honest review.

silver-stars-4

Review: Stalked – a Psychological thriller by Lorraine Taylor

******Bear with me, we are going quite a ways back with some of these reviews, and I hope my reviewing skills have come a long way in the years since!  🙂  ******

A Great Psychological Thriller from this First Time Author

July 10, 2013

41EY5VO_gAL._SX311_BO1_204_203_200_

Stalked – Amazon Buy Link

Without giving spoilers, I have to say this one kept me completely intrigued and I read it in its entirety in two sittings (and it was very tempting to do it all in just one!) In the few moments that aren’t action packed, Danny’s backstory is very interesting to delve into. From the mundane events that start the roller coaster, one simple curiosity leads to an incredible backlash of murder, mystery and general mayhem in the life of a character you can’t help but feel great compassion for and want to know more about.

First person narratives are not always my favorite, but work wonderfully in this tale. Perfect for this genre, the story leaves you with so many unanswered questions – it will certainly stick with me for a while and I can guarantee at least one or two rereads as I want to reexamine some of the lesser characters and their relationships, but knowing some answers will never be there is a thrill for me as well. Too many stories in this category wrap everything up in a neat little arc in the last few pages, which tend to leave me disappointed overall. The best psychological thrillers (be they books or movies) are the ones that do leave you hanging and questioning.

The characters are all very well written, very vividly but not overdone. Just enough to feel you know them and have an emotional attachment to them, but not to the point you feel bored or that the details are needlessly repeated in hopes of making you like or loathe them. I also have to say that Samson is one of my favorite characters and the changes in his relationship with Danny are truly heartwarming. I debated between 4 and 5 stars on this one – it really is a great read and I hope to see more from this new author and I love her style. I will definitely be recommending it to friends who like this style of book.

 silver-stars-4

Best of 2015: Paranormal

I am the first to admit that Paranormal is not my favorite genre to read in.  In fact, I have been pretty adamantly opposed to reading it for quite some time.   And then, and author comes along, and convinces me to take a chance on her books.   She sucked me in with a non-paranormal stand alone she had written that my book club covered as a Book of the Month.  I found her style rather intoxicating.  I will honestly tell you that it was a hard decision as to which series of hers would get the award.  I absolutely loved The Charlotte Grace series, and it is complete, but it was not published in 2016, so the award is going to go to her Empathy Delacroix series.  The first two books in the trilogy are available now, and the third should be out sometime in 2016.   I will also say the Empathy Delacroix Series are great books for those who think they don’t like paranormal, it is an easy way to ease into the genre without having to be too skeptical.

For those of you who still don’t know what author I am talking about, congratulations to PM Briede!

Paranormal

Synopsis for Book 1 of the Empathy Delacroix Series,

Death of a Chorus Girl

When Detective Richard Giordano walks onto the Broadway stage, he expects to find a young, dead chorus girl. Having the show’s choreographer so intricately tied to the victim, and now his case, is something else altogether. What quickly becomes even more troublesome is balancing his attraction with his gut instincts.

The choreographer, Empathy Delacroix, is no stranger to death. Emotional scenes from the past suck her in and force her to play critical roles in the events. They often culminate in her experiencing the victim’s demise. It’s a secret she can’t confide in the police, even if she knows how the chorus girl’s life really ended.

Time ticks by and New York’s vilest players come out of the shadows, not only threatening to detour the case but also Detective Giordano’s and Empathy’s entire lives. The bonds of death and love push them closer together and into the path of a killer, leaving both unsure of what their future holds.

Delacroix 1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VMUCXRK?ref_=cm_cr-mr-title

My Review of Death of a Chorus Girl

5 Stars

Whether You Like Romance or Thrillers, This Book is For You, April 8, 2015

Whether you want to call it a romance with a side of mystery or a thriller with a romantic side you have a 5 star story in both genres.

I will start my review with a notation that I am not a big fan of “paranormal” but PM Briede weaves the paranormal aspects into this so seamlessly that you will forget that there is anything extraordinary here besides the author’s ability to spin an edge of your seat, cannot put down tale with enough twists and turns to make you keep the dramamine handy.

The core of the story revolves around Broadway choreographer Empathy Delacroix and Detective Richard Giordano. The chemistry between the two jumps off the pages from the moment they meet no matter how much each of them try to deny it. The tagline on the cover, “How Do You Start a Romance with a Murder in the Way” is absolutely perfect. Rich is on the case of the death of a chorus girl in one of Em’s productions. Quickly ruled a homicide, and not being able to immediately remove Em from the suspect list is definitely not the easiest way for them to start a relationship. The secrets and baggage they each carry also interfere with the natural progression. The overlaps of their seemingly very different lives seems less coincidence and much more simple fate. Again, the chemistry between them is palpable, and amazingly well written through every obstacle they encounter.

The murder mystery is very intriguing, with no shortage of sleezy, unlikable suspects, but no easy solutions to the whodunit side of the story. I love a good thriller/mystery and this not only delivers, it exceeds any in recent memory of such a large pool of suspects I would like to be the guilty party simply because they are so brilliantly dislikeable. Dastardly, skeevy, despicable, diabolical and downright disgusting – she has done such an impressive job of presenting suspects you want to fry, without solid evidence to convict any of them.

For mature audiences for violence and sexual situations. Not overly explicit, but not anything I want my teenagers reading. However since they are not the target audience, this should not be an issue. This is the first in a series, and I am sure your first reaction when finishing this one will be much like mine….emailing the author about how long we have to wait for the next book in the series. If you hate being left with a cliffhanger, this may not be the book for you. However, in kind of a unique style, this author does not release the first book in the series until the entire series is complete, so she won’t leave you hanging too long. There are a few errors that another run through by the editor should easily fix, but I truly feel the strength of the story far outweighs any inconvenience those cause.

Very highly recommended. This is my second read of this author’s and I will definitely be catching up on the rest of her works while impatiently waiting for the next in this series.

******************************************************

Synopsis for Don’t Drink the Nine

With a suspect from the “Chorus Girl” case in custody, Detective Richard Giordano and Empathy Delacroix are ready to pursue the bonds of love and friendship. Free from the restrictions of the case, their love affair becomes a full-blown relationship.

Life is relatively normal until another chorus girl turns up dead, and a new cocktail hits the Broadway scene, “Nine.” As the case progresses, it’s looking more and more like Em is somehow tied to an illegal underbelly of New York. Richard must swallow his pride, and his fears, and work with his argumentative brother, Bobby, to crack the case and protect Em.

While one killer is behind bars, the man pulling all the strings is still at large and still set on Em. Richard and Em both know what it will cost to catch a maniacal killer, but the price might be more than they are prepared to pay.

Delacroix 2

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0136ZFB6S?ref_=cm_cr-mr-title

My Review:

5 Stars

Five for Nine!, September 14, 2015

I have read all of PM Briede’s books, but I have to say that this series has to be my favorite so far. Ms. Briede is really growing as a writer and it is amazing to watch through each new book.

This is not a standalone, so be sure and read Death of a Chorus Girl first.

Nine starts where Chorus Girl ended, and it is fun to watch Em and Richard adjust to being a couple, and having his family aware of it. This leads to many of the funniest and most touching moments in the book.

The pacing of the action throughout is perfect…never a dull moment for sure (though these two deserve a few!) There are some excellent plot twists I never saw coming, which is always a thrill for me as a reader – especially when crafted as perfectly as Ms. Briede has accomplished in this one. They fit in with the story seamlessly and make perfect sense in the aftermath. I recently read another book where the huge, heartwrenching plot twist was later revealed to have been a dream – that didn’t work for Dallas with Bobby in the shower at the beginning of the next season, and it does not work in books. PM understands this and does and excellent job with each twist and turn.

The full cast of characters are easy to embrace. PM always does a great job of crafting her characters with plenty of realistic quirks and flaws, and keeps her characters true to themselves. You don’t have those moments of “Why in the world would he/she do that?!?!? – it is a true skill to keep so many characters so fully real that they are strongly who they need to be.

Readers of the Charlotte Grace series will be quite pleased with some scenes that draw us back into the madness in New Orleans as Empathy was revealed in the first book to be Charlotte’s best friend’s cousin. I love when authors can tie their books together this way, in a logical (not forced) manor. It is always fun to catch up with old friends in new settings.

For mature audiences only for explicit sexual situations (never gratuitous, but always nice and steamy!) and some violence that could lead to triggers in some situations. My highest recommendations after you have read Death of a Chorus Girl.

********************************************

Congratulations again to PM Briede and the Empathy Delacroix Series!  Be on the lookout for the Phantom of New York, the final book in the trilogy, coming soon to a bookseller near you!   (And I will be sure to post preorder links as soon as they are available!

Delacroix 3

One final note in regard to PM Briede and The Empathy Delacroix Series – I had the honor of doing an interview with her for this blog last summer, and sadly due to an ongoing series of personal dramas in 2015 (I don’t think any of our authors would put all the drama we had in my family last year in one book!) I have not yet posted it.   So, keep checking back here – as soon as the awards are all done, that will be one of the first posts!

Best of 2015: Best Thriller

10346539_10152768669442700_5258830999782746785_n

Before I get into today’s award, I have to take a moment to congratulate the Kansas City Chiefs on their first playoff win since 1994.  And no, the game wasn’t actually at Arrowhead today (thankfully – it was too stinking cold here in KC today!) but the picture is one of my own, and therefore near and dear to my heart.   After books, music and photography, the Chiefs and Royals are two of my biggest passions.  I have been a lifelong fan, through the good, and the, well, we will just call them the not so good years.   I do actually remember the last playoff win pretty clearly, and it was exciting, but it was the year we got Joe Montana – it was kind of expected as part of signing him.   It was great – the last time we won the superbowl was a few years before even this old lady was born, and our playoff appearances have been few and far between.   And if you aren’t really familiar with Kansas City, we support our teams, always.   But when they do big things, we celebrate BIG!   (If you have any doubt google the 2015 Royals World Series Parade and realize that crowd of 800,000 that showed up for it is in a metro area that clocks in not a whole lot over a million total.)   So today is a very exciting day in the Chiefs Nation!  Not only did we win our first postseason game in 22 years, we started off the game with the first kickoff return touchdown (106 yards) in the history of the post season.   We also had only the third shutout game in the history of post season play.  (And then the little bit about being our 11th consecutive win – last week’s win #10 sat an all time Chiefs franchise record.)   Pretty darn impressive for a team that started out this season 1 -5.   GO CHIEFS!!!

kansas-city-chiefs_416x416

Okay, okay, yes, this is still a book blog and we are still in the midst of our Best of 2015 awards.   The award winners themselves have been chosen for several weeks, and most of the awards are made and just waiting for me to choose what order to present them in, and I have done very little planning on that.   But since I missed posting yesterday (again, I apologize – I hope everyone saw my note apologizing on Facebook last night) I knew I had to drag myself down from swinging on the living room chandelier in celebration and get in here and post an award today.  And I realized I had the perfect award to present today, because I happen to know the author who is receiving the award today is also a lifelong Chiefs fan, and I am sure she is as excited as I am.   So, without further ado, I will present the Best Thriller of 2015 to Angie Martin for The Boys Club!   Congratulations Angie!

Thriller

The book was actually released in the latter half of 2014, but since I didn’t read it until January of 2015, it was still eligible, and though I read a good number of thrillers (a genre that has long been a favorite of mine) in 2015, as I have in almost every year in memory, this one truly falls very high in my list of all time favorites as you will see when I repost my original review below.  This book has won quite a number of awards since it was published (and I realize much more prestigious awards than this one from my little blog) but there is a very good reason for the all the awards and accolades – the book is absolutely fantastic.  I have said it before and I will say it again – I would put her (and Logan) up against any of the biggest names in the genre.   And it is one I can recommend to absolutely anyone.   I will admit I gave absolutely no thought to this as I read it, but the author pointed out in an interview I read some time after reading the book that all of her books are clean reads.  No cussing, any sex is behind closed doors, and even the violence that goes along with it being an edge-of-your-seat-can-not-put-down thriller, is not particularly graphic.  I do happen to know she has a number of projects currently in the works, but I hope she remembers that she has promised a sequel or series to be built around this first book about The Boy’s Club and Gabe Logan.   I would be thrilled to see the numbers one day rival John Sandford’s Prey catalog (one of those “big names” I would easily pick her over, and I absolutely love Sandford, particularly the Virgil Flowers series,) but will take whatever she can give us.   I recommend this one on a regular basis to a wide variety of readers of both sexes, a wide range of ages, and who prefer any number of diverse genres.   It is just one of those that has elements with universal appeal and is just so darn good!  I suppose I have babbled enough – though I could go on and on…and on.   I will just add a little trip through the way back machine to my original review last year.   (I lied – one more little note – for those of you who like audiobooks, this one was released in that format this year as well.   I personally have a hard time following audiobooks and prefer to see the words in front of me, but I did listen to several chapters of this one, and have to say that the voice actor did an excellent job.)

The Boys Club

Angie Martin – The Boys Club   http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PLW1XA8?ref_=cm_cr-mr-title

Kudos to the New Queen of the Thriller!, January 3, 2015

5 Stars

Angie Martin has outdone herself with this one! While I really liked her first novel, False Security, with The Boys Club and Gabe Logan she has vaulted to new heights. Logan now sits up with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers as my favorite action heroes.

Logan has never had an easy life; the story begins with Schaeffer grabbing him out of jail at age 15 to recruit Logan to his newly formed, soon to be called “The Boys Club”, project. Schaeffer is former FBI now heading out on his own to right some things the FBI simply can’t. The main goal is always to save innocent lives, even if that requires not so innocent methods.

The story fast forwards many years to a current job. (Hopefully, as Lee Child has done, we will eventually get some more in depth detail about what exactly went on during those years. This is a character I want to know much, much more about.) Logan winds up in a sticky situation, a scenario we know he is all too familiar with, as something doesn’t go quite right. As he returns to The Boys Club headquarters, known as The Church, to be bandaged and debriefed, the odd feeling weighs heavily on him. Then things get really interesting when instead of being debriefed and taking some much needed time off, everyone not currently in the field is called in for a huge job that has to come together in less than 24 hours.

Logan is assigned to lead the operation, which happens to be to save the daughter of his worst enemy from a hit her father has put on her. Thus we get to meet the very intriguing and beautiful Sara Langston as Logan kidnaps her.

Almost unbelievably, the story, which has not had a dull moment, continues to get more and more exciting clear through until the epilogue. I realize this book has won awards under the romantic suspense genre, which are certainly well deserved, but I think that description limits it a bit as I would put it up against any thriller. The romance is well done, and as a reader you are definitely pulling for the couple to somehow find a way to be together regardless of the seemingly impossible circumstances, but the romance, to me, is most definitely secondary to the action/suspense/thriller aspects of the story.

As I mentioned as I started this review, I have read another offering by this very talented newer author, which I also gave 5 stars too because her writing style is fantastic, and False Security is also a page turner like this one. As I sat to write this review I realized that the big difference between the two is how much more likeable the hero, and especially the heroine, are in The Boys Club. Regardless, I will be looking forward to further installments on both series.

For adult reading only, for violence and sexual situations (though the sexual scenes are not explicit.)

Very highly recommended!

******

Congratulations again, Angie!  I cannot wait to see what you share with us next, as the next installment of an existing series or as something new all together.  You are on my very short list of must read authors without even reading a synopsis.