Sunday, July 21, 2013

GIVEAWAY & INTERVIEW & Toni's Review of No Strings Attached by Kate Angell ***5 Stars***

I would like to thank Kate Angell for taking the time to answer a few questions about her series and herself.

What was the inspiration for the beach town of Barefoot William? You've set most of your books in Florida; what’s the special appeal of the Sunshine State?

I went to college at North Dakota State University. After experiencing four years of freezing-cold winters, I gravitated to warmer weather. Florida appealed to me and I've lived on the Gulf Coast for several decades now. I appreciate the sunshine, the beach, and the freedom to wear flip-flops, tank tops and shorts. I'm not a person who likes to layer on clothes during the winter; the less, the better.

Sophie is an unusual character for you, because she’s shy, virginal, and a serious klutz.   Was it more difficult to write her story? 

Sophie Saunders was the first character I've written who was sweet, shy, and afraid of her own shadow. I had a very good friend when I was growing up, who was very much like Sophie. I wanted to portray a heroine who gains confidence and makes real friends for the first time in her life. She finds she's worthy of love and embraces life whole-heartedly.

You've written Dune Cates as a wounded hero.  

Dune is a professional beach volleyball player who suffered a scaphoid fracture during a tournament. He has tendinitis which could prove career-ending. Athletes want to leave their sports on their own terms, so Dune has a major decision to make as the book progresses.

Did you always want to be an author?

I had encouragement to write early in my life. My English teachers in high school and Creative Writing professor in college nudged me toward Journalism. I never wanted to write for a newspaper or magazine, I wanted to write fiction because I wanted to tell stories; stories with heart, love and a happy ending. I wrote books for twenty years in every genre until I discovered my voice in contemporary romance. I kept a scrapbook of rejection letters. That one scrapbook burst into two! I never gave up. I eventually found an editor in Alicia Condon who liked my work. I am grateful to her to this day.

Tell us about your writing process. 

I like to write in the mornings often before the sun is up. At the onset of any story, I need a title. A title anchors my book. I also like to have the names of the primary characters in place. The setting is important too. 

Once seated before the computer, sipping my coffee, and with a little luck, my characters start talking to me. I don't do an outline or synopsis, I let the story flow. It feels the most organic that way. Some days my characters are very talkative, other days I have to bribe them with chocolate. Some authors keep notebooks on their desks to jot down important points, I use stacks of paper plates. A bit odd, perhaps, but it works for me. 

I'm a slow writer. I'm happy producing four or five pages a day. I finalize each chapter before moving on to the next, and it takes six months to type The End. When the book is completed I give it one last read, and then send it to my editor. I never mind revisions, my words aren't set in stone.


Thanks again Kate and thanks for such a fun series!!

 


Balmy ocean breezes. . .sweet coconut oil. . .glistening tanned bodies. There's no better place for romantic sparks to fly than at the beach.

As a professional volleyball player, Dune Cates attracts scores of pretty women who flock to his side. But only one has managed to get under his skin--Sophie Saunders. Unlike the skimpily-clad beach groupies, Sophie marches to a beat all her own. And though she's afraid of the surf, burns in the sun, has two left feet, that doesn't stop her from trying every daring sport available on the boardwalk. Dune knows Sophie spells trouble, and he should keep his distance, especially since he's a no-strings-attached kind of guy. But he can't ignore an overwhelming instinct to protect her. And with the promise of ice cream sandwiches, merry-go-round rides and dreamy sunsets, it's only a matter of time before Dune gives in to the temptation of Sophie's soft lips.


Love is always sweeter in the summer.

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No Strings Attached warmed my soul, mind and heart.  Such a perfect sweet read. 

I’m going to put this out first thing; No Strings Attached is very heartwarming and tender.  There is no action, angst, love triangles, back stabbing, and mystery.  There aren’t even explicit sex scenes in the novel, but lovely touching ones.  This book is sweet, light hearted and a nice change of pace.  If you only read books with any of the above, you will likely not like No Strings Attached.  But if you want something that you can enjoy with fun loving characters, budding romance, lighthearted monologue and the beautiful setting of the Florida gulf coast than this book is for you.  Now that that has been said…

Sofie has loved Dune for almost two decades.  From the moment he saved her, he had her heart; even if she was only seven years old.  Years later, even after she found out he was from the enemy camp, she continued to watch him grow into the man he is today.  Unfortunately, after a few weeks of fun with him last summer, he left Barefoot William without even saying goodbye; leaving Sofie behind with a broken heart. 

Well it’s summer time again and she has a mission to start living.  She may have lived a sheltered life for her first 25 years, but now she is going to try new things and discover what makes Sofie tick.

Dune has had two things on his mind this last year.  Upfront it is his career.  He is still working out an injury that may ruin his pro volleyball career and then in the back of his mind is a sweet, shy woman that burrowed into his heart.  From the moment he met Sofie he has wanted to cosset and watch over her.  His body may want more, but with their age difference he won’t listen to it. 

Now he is back in town and Sofie Saunders is going to be the death of him.  Why is the quiet, timid, klutzy Sofie taking on uni-cycling and stilt walking?  The woman can barely talk in bare feet, let alone stay balanced feet off the ground.  Looks like Dune will be looking after her while he is in town.

Their friendship is rekindled and things start to heat up.  Can these two totally different people find happiness when one has only eyes for him and he only wants a relationship that has no strings attached?

For me this was simply divine.  I fell in love with Sofie in the first book, No Tan Lines, and she solidified her place in my heart with this book.  This woman is kindness, love and forgiveness all wrapped into a gentle soul that shines as bright as the sun.  She may have been alone growing up, but the woman is a beacon and people are drawn to her now.  It’s inevitable that Dune couldn’t fight his attraction.  She is just perfect.

Dune is just as darn cute.  Here is a man that has been surrounded by fame and fortune, countless beach bunnies and the iconic life of a professional athlete.  He has retained his small town charm and his heart and soul will always be in Barefoot William.  I’m so glad that he didn’t fight his brain for the placement of Sofie in his life.  He knew what he had and he grabbed onto her with both hands and followed his heart.  What a lovely beautiful man.

I enjoy Ms. Angell’s style of writing in this series.  It’s a different style and may not appease the masses.  Just like the last book in this series, it wasn’t just about this one couple.  She added in another in the shadows and made the adventure even more exciting.  I enjoyed the second couple as much as the main one.  She included all the characters POV, four in total.  This can bother some people, but I didn’t have a problem with it one bit.


Barefoot William residents are also a joy to visit.  This community will draw you in and make you one of their own.  The warm feelings I get from this book is so wonderful.  This is not my normal reading genre, but one that I enjoy visiting once in a while.  I’m glad I ventured here.  Ms. Angell did a wonderful job and I can only hope that it won’t be a year until the next installment.  


See how it all started...



BOOK GIVEAWAY!!

Kensington is giving away the first book in the series, No Tan Lines.


By entering the giveaway you are agreeing to the terms outlined in the Rafflecopter widget.

Open to US / Canada only!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 20, 2013

GIVEAWAY & Toni's Review of Forsaken by the Others by Jess Haines ***3.5 Stars***



The Others–vampires, werewolves, things that go chomp in the night–don’t just live in nightmares anymore. They’ve joined with the mortal world. And for private investigator Shiarra Waynest, that means mayhem…

Have a one night stand with a vampire, and you can end up paying for it for eternity. P.I. Shiarra Waynest, an expert on the Others, knows that better than most. Yet here she is, waking up beside charismatic vamp Alec Royce with an aching head…and neck. Luckily, Shia has the perfect excuse for getting out of town–namely, a couple of irate East Coast werewolf packs who’d like to turn her into a chew toy.


On Royce’s suggestion, Shia temporarily relocates to Los Angeles. But something is rotten–literally–in the state of California, where local vampires are being attacked by zombies. Who could be powerful enough to control them–and reckless enough to target the immortal? Following the trail will lead Shia to a terrifying truth, and to an ancient enemy with a personal grudge…

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Forsaken by the Others is not a book that reads as a standalone.  People who pick it up should most definitely be up to date and ready to jump right in.  It starts right from where Stalking the Others ends.  If you have not read any of the other books in the H&W Investigations series…Do Not Pass Go.  Turn right around and get caught up first. 

I apologize right from the start.  This might be a spoiler and trust me I’m not a fan of them, but you can read any other review and it was said long before me; no, no, and NO!!  I was glad I missed the cliffhanger from one of the prior books, because I was late to the series and had to play catch-up.  I’m very disappointed that this one ended in yet another one.  Cliff hangers are not cool, especially when another book is not even on the horizon yet and this book was about a year from the last one.  This was my biggest complaint, but I have other points that bugged me.  Leave me wanting, but not like this.

While I enjoyed the book, there was very little forward movement in the plot.  Yes, you seen a bit of Shiarra’s “problem” manifest, but no reasons why or what.  Yes, a character is healed, but we didn’t even know there was a problem to begin with.  So she hid out in California.  Not sure if I really understand the reasoning, but there we are.  Now she is there and it seems none of the issues in New York are going to be resolved and she has left TONS of them behind.  Several factions were introduced and I feel they were barely utilizes to their fullest potential.  I can pretty much say that most of the main characters are new additions and seem to be sticking around for a while.  Not sure how I feel about that yet.  I missed the “oldies” and wanted to read more about them.  Bummer.

Shiarra actually transgressed in her kick-ass heroine status in my opinion.  She was rather weak and well “human” in the beginning novels.  She rocked my world in the last one, but after all is said and done; we are back to square one.  I will say that she is coming off a very traumatic month and anyone would curl up into a little introspective ball, but she was so darn awesome last book.  Again – Bummer.

I know it sounds like I didn’t like the novel, I did enjoy the read, but in its addition to the series, I didn’t.  Some good points are that we got to see what happened with Royce.  Sara and Shiarra are reunited, along with some memorable White Hats.  The story clipped right along.  There were also some scenes that had me chucking.  I really love when a book makes me laugh. 

Ms. Haines wrote a great book, but left me wanting.  I really hope we see progression in the next novel.  I’m still looking forward to next book.  I hope the wait isn’t too long.  I really enjoy her writing style and the H&W Investigations series.  This is the kind of urban fantasy that I enjoy; fantastic paranormal world setting, interesting characters and amazing storytelling.  Keep it up Ms. Haines!


Read my review of book four in the H&W Investigations series. 



THREE BOOK GIVEAWAY!!

Yes, this giveaway is for three books.
Kensington is giving away the first book in the series, Hunted by the Others and I am giving away my plain cover ARC's  of Stalking the Others AND Forsaken by the Others.


By entering the giveaway you are agreeing to the terms outlined in the Rafflecopter widget.

Open to US / Canada only!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Toni's Review of As Twilight Falls by Amanda Ashley ***3.5 Stars***

 


Photographing ghost towns across the American West, Kadie Andrews takes a wrong turn and ends up in Morgan Creek—a spot that isn’t on the map. It’s a quaint little place, but there’s something off about its complacent residents. And when twilight falls, it takes on a truly sinister air…

Unable to run or to find any way out, Kadie finds herself a prisoner, hunted for her blood. Still more disturbing, her spirit and beauty have captured the attention of the town’s leader—the mysterious Rylan Saintcrow. When he looks into her eyes, she can see his hunger. When he takes her in his arms, she can feel his power. When he presses his lips against hers, she can taste his need. Saintcrow may be the most powerful creature she’s ever imagined, but Kadie knows in her heart that he is also a man. A man who needs a woman. To want him, desire him, crave him. To be his willing prisoner—for all eternity…

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What if vampires were relegated to live in a town to follow certain rules and were not allowed to leave?  Some might think it would be a good plan to keep humans safe, but what of the human in the town.  As Twilight Falls tell one such story.

Driving into Morgan Creek was a simple mistake on Kadie’s part.  One wrong turn, low on gas and late at night were just a few of her problems.  From the moment she ventures into the town she knows something is off.  The vibes she gets are off the charts wrong and the sudden appearance of Darrick does nothing to ease her feelings.

It doesn’t take long for Kadie to realize she is trapped in Morgan Creek and the residents don’t hold back on letting her know what is expected of her.  They also fill her in on the mysterious head vampire, Rylan Saintcrow.  Luckily he hasn’t been seen in a long while, because the women he takes interest in disappear forever.

Suddenly awake after decades of rest, Rylan is drawn to a new presence in town.  From the moment Kadie enters his territory, he knows he wants her for his own.  Even Darrick’s claim on the girl will not stop him from having her. 

Things have changed in his town since he went to ground.  The vampires are restless and the humans are not content.  He never cared about the human’s happiness before Kadie, but now he is seeing things differently.  Times have changed and now he must change too.

As Twilight Falls was a good story.  Ms. Ashley has built a unique town and interesting characters.  While it was not perfect for me it was a nice change in my usual paranormal reading material.  The novel is more storytelling and sweet romance and less erotic than my normal reads.  This will interest many readers.  I can’t quite put my finger what was missing from the novel to make it great for me, but as a whole, the story was nicely written. 

Another very important point for this book, it reads as a standalone novel.  The story is wrapped up and complete, with a nice ending that leaves you gratified.  What a wonderful change in the world of serial novels.


Pick up As Twilight Falls if you enjoy standalone novels, unique paranormal storytelling, romance that focuses on the relationship more than the bed play and the writings of Amanda Ashley.  She has written an enjoyable classic vampire novel.  

Toni's Review of Honey Pie by Donna Kauffman ***5 Stars***



Mocha Chocolate Chip… Caramel Fudge…Strawberry Lemonade…Butter Rum…There’s no such thing as guilt when it’s another delicious bitch and bake session with the women of the Cupcake Club…

When Honey D’Amourvell inherits property on tiny Sugarberry Island, she’s prepared to start a whole new life. Her plan is simple—make a home, open a shop, and maybe, finally, find a place to belong. But the building she now owns is leased to none other than the owner of Babycakes, which means her spot is already occupied. Honey isn’t sure how to put down roots when she has nowhere to plant them. But sexy, softhearted mechanic Dylan Ross seems determined to help. He’s everything she never imagined she would find in a man, and each kiss is more persuasive than the last…

Soon enough, Honey is another important ingredient in the spicy mix of the Cupcake Club. But will Dylan convince her that what she craves most is his love?

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

Two loners are drawn together.  Dylan is a long time resident of Sweetberry and Honey stumbled into town in a broken down VW bug and a dream.  Neither seen what was coming their way.  If they did, both would have run in separate directions.

Honey has taken her Aunt Beavis’ advice; “Love yourself enough to give it a true and honest chance”.  She packs up her VW Bug and travels from Oregon to Georgia only to find her dreams crushed.  The new start she was promised has a great big road block set in her way.  The apartment and new shop she has planned to open has been leased from under her.  Though she now owned the property, her hands are tied.  Now thousands away from her safe haven, she is homeless, carless, jobless and clueless to where to start. 

Dylan is not a stranger to turmoil.  Father, uncle and brother were all negative components in Dylan’s live and after ten years of freedom from the chaos, he doesn’t desire the pull that a certain Ms. Honey has on him.  With her odd behavior and personal life in a mess, he does his best to stay away, but not for long.

Usually Sweetberry residents are more involved in the formation of budding of romance, but this time Honey and Dylan found it themselves.  Each are alone and prefer it that way.  One wants to come out and finally get involved in life and the other would rather stay hidden and not deal with the BS of people.  They see their similarities and there is a special draw to each other.  With a little personal work and enlightenment they have the potential of something great.  Honey Pie is one sweet treat!

I really loved the feeling of this book.  Even though the potential of drama was high, Ms. Kauffman thankfully didn’t go down this road.  Yes, there was drama, but it had a natural feeling to it.  Both of these characters had some major baggage, but once their minor hurdles where conquered they accepted their fate.  Throw in a few insecurities and a sweet love story was told.

Personally, I think if you read Honey Pie as a standalone you wouldn’t like it as much as a series novel.  The story alone wouldn’t have been as fun without the background of the other characters.  Even though they took the third row of back seats in the party van, knowing their stories made little things more special. 

The Cupcake Club series is great and simply delightful.  Sweet romance, light humor and a feeling of community that makes you want to join the fun.  I have enjoyed every one of these novels and I can’t wait for the next installment.

Wanna know why I enjoy this series??  Check out my other reviews.


 Thanks for reading ~ Toni